Tuesday 31 March 2015

Leek Quiche..Comfort Food and My Pastry Recipe

With grandson and watching Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 and there it is, a leek joke.  The crew and talking vegetables are in a boat and someone shouts " there's a leek in the boat" and of course mayhem ensues with even the leek itself freaking out. In fact, people enjoyed his  little scream so much it got replayed over and over on Youtube.

Image result for leek jokes

I showed you a photo of a bunch of leeks I had that needed using up.  Sometimes I get ahead of myself and seem to have the fridge loaded with fresh food that all need to be put to use at the same time.  I was tempted to make a potato and leek soup, but I've been making a lot of soup lately it seems and Hubby loves anything to do with biscuits or crust, so I decided to make a quiche.

First I made the pastry and I always use the same recipe, my old faithful originally copied straight from the Crisco can...

I put about a cup of grated swiss cheese in the bottom of the crust and sprinkled a tablespoon of flour over it.  Then I heated olive oil in a fry pan and sauteed an onion, my chopped leeks ( I had 4 in my bunch), a handful of kale and a few zucchini that I 'discovered' in the fridge crisper. ( I can never seem to leave a recipe alone; I've always got to tweak it or add to it my own ingredients.)

I beat together three eggs, 1 cup of cream, a little salt and pepper and a pinch of thyme.  That was all I put in it this time.  Sometimes I've added bacon and in fact, Hubby was disappointed this was not one of those times.  This is one of those dishes it is recommended to start in a very hot oven.  I had mine at 400 F for the first 15 minutes, then reduced it to 325 F and continued the baking for another 30 minutes till I felt it was brown enough.  In fact, when I took it out, I felt mine looked too brown and I shouldn't have left it for the full 30 minutes.  This is when multi-tasking while baking doesn't always go hand in hand.

I made a salad of purple cabbage and more kale to go with my quiche. I wish I'd taken a photo of  that but it slipped my mind.  The quiche was fine; Hubby said it was tasty especially the crust.  

Monday 30 March 2015

Cheap and Cheerful

"Cheap and cheerful"
This is hubby's expression to describe many things, one of his favourites along with 'sod it' and 'cheeky' and 'bugger all'.
I think of this phrase when I look at my geraniums...cheap and cheerful for sure.  I'm proud of this little one in the photo below because I grew it from seed.  Lately it has provided a lovely bright spot on the dining room table.  The colour is an orange red; don't know what that would be called exactly.

The internet is full of stories about people trying out cheap and/or frugal lifestyles. I'm impressed with some of the ideas, especially for recycling. The people who are making clothes out of old sheets for instance....summer tops, summer dresses, children's clothes.  Got to hand it to them...some of these look pretty good  and especially cheerful.  If I could find Laura Ashley sheets, I too might be tempted to give that a go, actually.  I've seen lots of examples of how they use sheets to make drapes and it seems both easy and cheap; in fact, I've seen designers on t.v. trot out that idea.
I also admire the people turning old t-shirts into crocheted mats...some of these look really good especially the ones that have been dyed bright and interesting colours. Though we have lots of older t-shirts, I can only muster the energy to get them to a thrift store.
I'm  not sure about trying to ground down almonds to make my own mascara or microwaving strawberries to make cheek rouge; I do like the fact that so many of these ideas employ natural ingredients and at least when you make it yourself you know exactly what is in it.    When I read that there are 3000 different chemicals put in our supermarket food, very few of which are known to me, it makes me think homemade anything would definitely be a better option.
Mind you, I'm already my own beautician in many ways. I still cut and manage my own hair but I'm not sure it's for the best.  Perhaps that is one area for the experts and I'm thinking I'll get a professional cut come summer time.
Can you imagine what this is for? This is an Ikea invention and though I've used it all winter, I honestly did not know it had painted eyes till I set it up to take its picture.

 I don't know what to call it but I use it for drying any 'smalls' and in fact once a week, the whole kitchen becomes a clothes dryer as I take advantage of the wood heat to dry our sheets.  (We don't get much 'drop-in' company here in the country, LOL.)
But getting back to my cheap and cheerful plants...

All the geraniums are coming into bloom.  

The bottom geranium is a pale peach colour...delicate and seemingly hard for my camera to capture.  Can you see my constant companion in this photo?

Friday 27 March 2015

Barbara Kingsolver is a Knitter

These are two of my non-fiction 'reads' this week and though so different, I enjoyed them both.
The book, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, is more information about Highclere Castle, the magnificent home of the Carnarvons and how they lived.  Lady Almina, the 5th Lady of Carnarvon, interestingly, was very similar to Downton's Cora in that she was a wealthy American, perhaps married to help infuse much needed funds into the estate. Lots of details about the visitors, meals, events, etc. that occupied the owners at that time are included and presumably all very accurate. After all the author, the current Lady Carnarvon, had access to the collection of personal letters, files and records from Lady Almina's day.  If you love all things Downton, you will enjoy this book.

A very different book is Small Wonder, Essays by the wonderful author, Barbara Kingsolver.  I love her fiction and should take the time to write about The Poisonwood Bible sometime as it is one of the very few books I have read more than once.  Of course, these twenty-three essays are well written, interesting and thought provoking, no surprise given who is doing the writing.  I think I like her descriptions of the natural world the best as that is a topic I too love. The way her knowledge of biology and ecology get woven into all her writing intrigues me. She also tackles heavy subjects such as the effects of 9/11, and America and its place in the world today; topics that are very important to her.
Barbara is an avid gardener and food harvester of much determination and skills. She chronicled in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle-A Year of Food Life a year long experiment she undertook with her family to eat only what they could grow themselves or find in their local neighbourhood. Along the way, a lot of lessons about the earth and healthy eating and sustaining world populations are learned.
It would come as no surprise then, to discover that Barbara is a knitter too.  In fact she raises sheep on her farm and loves the connection between the grass to feed the sheep, wool, fiber and eventual clothing.  The most marvelous article of hers appeared in Orion Magazine and one of my Facebook friends, a wonderful knitter herself,  posted it.  It is titled "Where It Begins" and I urge you to take a peek.  The writing is beautiful and people who love wool and knitting will especially feel an affinity.  
A link to that article is HERE.

Thursday 26 March 2015

Wobbly Thighs and Noodle-eating T.V. Viewers

Now I'm sad about something.
  I just don't like my late winter/early spring thighs or the hips they emerge from either, frankly.  I saw an article last month that said do these exercises and have thinner thighs in just 30 days.  If I'd started that regime then, I would now have thinner thighs, darn it.
 I'm noticing my thighs for a reason (have been unaware of them all winter, it seems).  Babysitting grandson, the one that is 16 months old, is providing a workout for mine.  I'm crouching a lot with him and running around scooched down as in playing peekaboo around the kitchen island, which he likes to do a lot and tonight my legs are a wee bit wobbly. What a great excuse to just sit and stitch.
I'm spending an enjoyable hour or two a day on that cross stitch project.  I'm loving how relaxing it is to spend such time stitching; it really does suspend all thoughts which they say is as good as meditation and I believe that.
Before I forget, someone asked how long my burgundy scarf turned out with all three balls knit up. It is almost 5 feet long, a good length and has a light feel to it.  Sadly, scarves can still be worn this many days past the first day of spring.
I just read in the paper that our regular summer birds are being slow to return; sightings so far have been scanty.  Can you blame them?  I'd stay south too if I could.  I did sight a raccoon on my drive home the other night.  I guess hunger will force them out and about no matter the temperatures.

Meanwhile I have this great bunch of leeks, one of my favourites;  I'm recipe browsing to find a good use for them.

This past weekend, Saturday was noodle night.  Love how convenient these udon noodles are.

I added a sauce mixture I made up consisting of chicken broth, chicken, tomatoes, carrots, chick peas, rice wine vinegar, and various beans.  Hubby likes spicy so I added some of that Rooster hot chili sauce.

A great little meal for an evening of t.v. viewing.  We are now watching American Crime, The Slap, Secrets and Lies, Hit and Miss and many others.  It is a golden age of television for sure and I'm so happy to be around to witness it.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

I Love Debbie Bliss Andes Wool

And ta da, here is what was in my parcel.

After falling in love with the Japanese Flower granny square scarf made by Lucy at  Attic 24 , I couldn't resist doing some research on the wool she used.  It is Debbie Bliss Andes and as described is a luxurious blend of baby alpaca and silk made in Peru. The reviews about this yarn were overwhelmingly positive with most praising its softness and feel while working it.  I guess reasons why it is bought up everywhere as I would find out. Debbie Bliss is well known in the wool world having her own magazine, authored many knitting books, and put her label on a whole line of yarns.
This is one of her books I borrowed from the library and I was attracted because the projects all looked doable for even me, a novice knitter.  It was published in 2005 and is called simply Home.

This project below, in particular, is a gorgeous blue using the relatively simple Moss stitch and what a lovely throw it produced. There are several videos of Debbie on Youtube; what an accomplished and interesting lady.

I had the darndest time trying to track down the Andes yarn .  Most yarn shops both online and local seemed to have only a colour or two and many said they were all sold out. Finally I happened upon Infinite Yarns  in Farmingdale, New York and lo and behold, they had in stock all the colours. I had a lovely chat with the lady who helped me with my order and who was very interested in how I heard about this particular yarn.  She made note of  Attic24 to have a look at Lucy's lovely scarf.
 Now this wool is not cheap; I'm still in mild shock at spending the most money I have ever spent on wool in my life.
But they did not lie; this wool does feel divine and the colours are beautiful. Whenever I have a few spare moments, I am busy rolling it into balls and daydreaming about what to make with it.
What is it about beautiful wool that stirs us wool-loving people so....

Tuesday 24 March 2015

All Rosy In Our Garden

All rosy in our garden here today.
 That said no roses will be blooming in our real garden for many months.  Of course, that is just the way it seems on this side of May; I know that when spring really arrives, things will heat up fast. (Hope still springing eternal....)

But my orchid is blooming and blooming.  It has sprouted two new sprigs that are also loaded with blooms; I count eighteen.  I thought it was something I was doing that might be causing such good growth but no, I think it is the contrast between daily temperatures in the living room where it lives...it gets so cold at night there.  I read this is exactly what an orchid responds to.  These new sprigs are stretching out, I imagine seeking the tree trunk it would be wrapping itself around in the natural world where it came from.
Meanwhile, though bitterly cold outside still, the bright sunlight streaming in the window is ideal for cross stitching.  My little wren is taking form and I am not having any eye strain counting squares and holes.      This sunny but cold spring has made it great for close work, as one of my grandmothers called her needlework.

BTW still in talks with myself about whether I will take all the side bits out because of one block off.  UGH

This came in the mail. Something I fell in love with and ordered and can't wait to open.  I will show you later what it contains.

Monday 23 March 2015

Quilting UFO'S and Sewing Machine Round 2

So it was a free few days, no little grand chicks to see to school or play peekaboo with, no particular chores outside...weather still too cold/snowy/windy/icy for that.  In fact, it snowed on and off all day Saturday and looked generally uninviting out there.

 Time for Round 2 with the sewing machine.  I told you I was counting on Youtube's Roxanne at strikesmyfancy to see me through my Singer education.  This time I watched  videos 3, 4 and 5. This machine has a lot of neat features; if I can master half of them I will be happy. It has an automatic needle threader and scissors cut, just to name two.  I did get to change pressure feet and practice free motion embroidery, which it turns out, I am awful at.  Lots more practice needed before I will be tackling any of my projects.
Which by the way, I, with some trepidation did count. Digging into the UFO storage box was a little like Christmas.  There were things in it I only vaguely remembered but thought, my that looks nice.

                                        Like this stack of Churn Dash patchwork squares.

 I have 6 quilting projects on the go.  A doable number, no need for panic especially when I think of one of the ladies in blogland who itemized her UFO's and came up with 101! She wrote them all out in a long list and is determined to finish each and every one in 2015.  Admirable.

I'd forgotten that I was sewing my little scrap end pieces together along the way; what to do with them, I don't know.

                                                             Some of my tin collection.

I realized with all the stopping and starting of the sewing videos, I really needed a manual.  Found my exact manual online and downloaded it; this will make learning a little easier and I won't need the lap top beside me. So I say again isn't the internet wonderful for so many things.

 Sunday and a cold weather warning so no basement time on that day. Too bad as I was all excited about getting back to my machine. No fear, another day hopefully soon.

Saturday 21 March 2015

The Lonely Work of Mothering

Long thoughts here today- March and Sundays do that to me.  This is a post I wrote almost 3 years ago exactly... updated slightly.  

Above is another example of my mother's patchwork quilt efforts.

 I know with this one she divided her triangles into light and dark, turned them right side down and sewed them as they appeared, a true patchwork effort.  It is interesting how even with such happenstance, there is a certain charm to the finished product. The snow white triangles nicely highlight the coloured ones.  And Mom would not have had books or videos to guide her progress.

I am thinking about my mother a lot these days maybe because she is into her mid 80's now.  I am so happy for her to have achieved such a great age in relative good health. She says to see her children grown, married, known her grandchildren and now to have 2 great-grandsons make her feel really and truly blessed.

  Of course, she has had to say good-bye to any number of family and friends along the way.  I know her path has not always been easy especially because my mother is a born worrier.  It is 'how she is knit' as the old folks would say, and the pattern got passed on to me, her eldest child. 

I read this sentence, don't know where..."Mothering, the worries are lonely work."
 I know my darkest thoughts are always midway through the night, never about myself and perhaps the source of my occasional bouts of insomnia.  Thoughts that are too foolish or hurtful or sad to give voice to the next day so remain mine alone.  I am the first to admit that I often 'overthink' things; a condition I do not allow myself in daylight hours when common sense prevails.

I know I do not have the ability to predict home invasions, black ice, parasitic infections, or terrorist attacks -  let alone the whole future.  Thankfully, with emerging daylight these thoughts disappear and then there is always lots to do to keep hands and mind busy.

And the hands are busy today stitching this.


Friday 20 March 2015

A Fox In The Garden

Red Fox
The red fox crosses the ice
intent on none of my business.
It's winter and slim pickings.

             Margaret Atwood, Morning in the Burned House

I was looking out the window at daughter's and thinking that it looked for all the world like Christmas out there when I saw something moving at the edge of her property.  I couldn't tell what it was except I knew it was a four legged animal of some kind.  It was digging and seemed to be eating while constantly lifting its head and looking around.

I thought it was a fox and when it moved off and crossed the field towards the neighbour's I saw

that it was. I was surprised as I thought fox were nocturnal, but then I know they are opportunistic too and perhaps the scent of something emerging from the half-melted snow had lured it out and about.
 I was caught by his foxy beauty...his black feet, sharp nose and ears, orange/red colours and the very fine bushy tail. He has managed to fare well during this winter already in the books as one of the steadily coldest.
It is a constant source of amazement to me how all the wild creatures eke out their existences during the winter months. After all these don't do what my canny little chipmunks or squirrels do...store away food and huddle inside for the coldest periods.  These bigger animals must constantly forage and just what does the frozen world give up in February.  My guess, not much, or as Margaret says, slim pickings.

Thursday 19 March 2015

Round 1 With New Sewing Machine

I took myself in hand and got to it.
Two hours later and the sewing room is back somewhat under control.  I just can't work in an untidy mess and at least my cutting bench is more or less free.

What you can't see is all the tidying I had to do of my various containers. Don't know about you but I save all the biscuit tins, chocolate boxes and various cute containers that you can get so many of these days. And it seems my sewing stuff got spread out in these; labeling would have been a good idea and saved me a lot of time.  I don't understand how it all got so disheveled really.

My next session in the sewing room was a big one for me.  Time to tackle that new sewing machine.
  I approached it with a little trepidation since I've never had a computerized sewing machine before so it is all new to me.  My Singer did not come with a manual so I had to find a video online to take me through the basics.  How lucky I am to find the series of videos by Roxanne from strikesmyfancy.  These are excellent with good clear video of step by step instructions for all the features of my Singer Quantum Stylist.  I used the first and second to get familiar with the machine, fill the bobbin and thread it and change the pressure foot.  I even sewed a little with it as practice. I was pleased with the lighting and also the quietness while running and the stitches were lovely and even.  So all good.

I had to rerun the videos on my laptop quite a bit to as I was working through them.  I was afraid of messing up the threading and maybe jamming the machine before I had the chance to get to know all the ins and outs.
I ended on a good note so as soon as  time allows I'm looking forward to getting back at it.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Crow Chat and My Unlovely Sewing Room

Today I stood transfixed by unlikely bird sounds....crows.  Two were perched high up in the old birch tree, one of them making three distinct caws, pausing then repeating the calls.  What held me in small wonder was I could hear perfectly clearly three caws answering back from somewhere deeper in the woods.  They called to each other for five minutes or so before my crows flew away.  What was this bird communique; what information was being transmitted.  Because I know crows are amazingly smart, I have no doubt it was something of import.  They were stationed above one of the bird feeders so perhaps it had something to do with food; but perhaps they were receiving news of food.
Though I see and hear crows all the time, what their sounds mean is so foreign to me it may as well be the language of elephants.  This little incident made me think of all the communicating in nature, all happening around me and yet I am so ignorant.  This approaching season, spring, is the most important one for all the birds; they claim their mates and nesting sites, raise their broods and keep all fed and of course communication is vital to achieving this.
I was outside thinking we need to put up our two beautiful wooden birdhouses we bought last year.  I want to have them in place well before the birds need them.  This is a two-person job but when I tested the snow I could tell it was too treacherous  for either of us to be out walking through the woods.  We'd had odd snow/freezing rain overnight and just like that all the trails are crusty and slick.
Meanwhile, back in the house, it is vital for me to get down into my basement sewing room.  Unlovely as it is, I am missing my happy hours spent there trying to fashion something or other out of fabric. It has been too chilly to work comfortably down there but with the temperatures creeping up to single digits minus, and a small heater, I can now manage an hour or two.
 And no, I am definitely not a hoarder, though these photos would belie that notion.  Told you I have been running in and out, rifling through various containers for one thing or another and dropping off fabric or sewing notions I've been buying now and then.
Just look at this...

 It's a real state, as we say at home. So a massive tidy-up is the first thing on the agenda.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Free Drawing For You

I drew and embroidered a little picture for my header during our really snowy months; now it is only somewhat snowy so I felt like I should change it.  I've been meaning to give you that snowy picture and finally have figured out how to do that, (with Hubby's help).   The finished picture was this

                      My drawing was this...maybe you can correct some of the odd little bits....

Anyway you can download your copy of it HERE
Fingers crossed it works for you.

Where I had put my blog title, maybe you could put your family name which is what I had originally thought I would do or Merry Christmas or whatever you like.
Hope you like it.

Monday 16 March 2015

Kathy Schmitz .. Embroidery Designs Both Nostalgic and Sweet

What a find when I came across an embroidered autumn wall hanging with a design I immediately loved. Then when I checked out the designer I discovered I loved all her work.  I've said before how much I love the combination of embroidery and quilting and Kathy Schmitz's patterns lend themselves to just that.
 When you check out her web site you'll see she has ideas and kits for everything from tiny projects to full sized quilts.

 I love the block of the month choices and her alphabet monograms are splendid.   You can purchase directly from that site as well as get links to her newsletter and blog.  On the blog is a cache of free patterns; well worth checking out.

A sweet Jack Frost!

Kathy has designed a garden-themed fabric for Moda which she shows in this video, plus you can get a good look at some of her embroidered pieces on this Youtube video. 

Her snowman design which is simple and nostalgic; I love the birds in this picture.

Saturday 14 March 2015

We Need a Couple of Things at Costco

I keep saying they need to build another Costco around here.  Every time we venture into the nearest  one, there are so many people all maneuvering those gigantic carts around the aisles, it's a bit overwhelming. Several times we've looked at the number of cars in the parking lot and driven on by; in fairness to Costco that would typically be later in the day or weekends.  However, we feed our dogs the Kirkland brand of dog food called Nature's Domain and we pick up the denta bones and other dog treats there.  So sometimes we have to make the effort and we've discovered early morning is the lowest traffic times for us seniors.
I've always been intrigued by the placement of their products.  To have a warehouse type store that offers you diamonds within feet of the entrance is an interesting concept. Who would have thought that would work, but unquestionably it does.
 Of course, the treats for people are endless there too; no meager portions of anything.  I always have my work cut out for me when I get home...separating all the meat into meal sized portions for us before freezing.  I'm told their products are the most researched items on any store shelf and I can believe that. Their quality control seems exceptional; I favour their chicken and salmon especially and their produce is always fresh and the variety is superior to any found elsewhere.  I just love the figs, dates and choice of cheeses they carry. I've shown you some of the specialty items I buy that I can't seem to find anywhere else. Over in Quebec, the Costco carries a full selection of wine and I'm not sure why ours doesn't; I guess some kind of liquor board laws.
 Hubby has discovered  their dispensing fee for drugs is the lowest around and the batteries sold in their Hearing Clinic are substantially cheaper than anywhere else. Of course, the magazines, books, toys and household items are also the best prices. Hubby keeps eyeing longingly the workshop furniture, if only he were younger and just setting his up.
 I read on Facebook, Costco has a code for pricing products that goes like this.  If the price ends in .99 that product is full price; if .97 it has been marked down by the manager and if it ends in .49 or .79 that is the manufacturer's discount. 
We run in for a few items and typically come out pushing a cart full of stuff....conspicuous consumption, I know. I know.

"I'm sort of like Costco.  I'm big, I'm not fancy and I dare you to not like me." -Cameron

Friday 13 March 2015

A Day Spent With Both Grandsons

A rare happening when I have to babysit both grandsons. So there I was at Daughter's with a little 16 month old running around and my, can he go.  It was interesting to see how intrigued he was with the way things work.  In no time he had figured out how the coffee table lifts apart and was eager to give it a try all by himself.  He was busy putting things inside a box, closing all the sides and then repeating the process.  What made this cute was the way he said OH every time he reopened it and saw the little bunny he himself was putting there.
The walk to the school bus is normally a three minute affair, but with little 16 month old feet that wanted to test out every puddle, it took twenty.   Later the two cousins had a chance to have a play and show off for each other.
 Small little things like these are what a Nana loves, that's for sure.

Being at Daughter's reminded me of some of the handiwork I've done before and given as gifts.  Here is a cross stitch picture I completed about 5 years ago during a time I was doing a lot of cross stitch.  A time when this handwork was really my therapy.

Not a big surprise that the subject is birds.  I remember how much I loved working this particular design; not a lot of colour changes so it worked up fairly fast.  And here's a little one kept in the powder room.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Instant Breakfast and the Dreaded Unsewing

I overnighted at daughter's recently and she had made me breakfast the night before and had it ready for me in the fridge.  I had never tried this before and loved it.  Now that she is back to work she is busy thinking of ways to be prepared for meals and is happy she gave this one a try.  Healthy breakfast on the run which really can be eaten anytime.  It is one of the favourites circling  Pinterest.

What she mixed together in a small Mason jar was:
 a container of vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup oatmeal
2 tbsp. chia seeds
We added blueberries and chopped strawberries in the morning.
 I was unsure how the oatmeal would taste with not being cooked but it was fine.  This mixture blended together in a pleasing way and in fact, I enjoyed the silky texture that it had acquired.
 The beauty of this is you can add whatever you want....flax seeds, or any kind of berries or fruit.  I'm curious if my Red River cereal would work; I'll have to give it a try.

Meanwhile my wren nest is starting to take shape.  I know I've made a counting error on the right side and I will have to do the dreaded 'unsewing' eventually. One of the twigs sticking out was one square too low which in itself would not be too bad but it meant I put all the others one count off also.
 I debated leaving it but I know whenever I see it I would think of it so I will fix it.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Maybe Attic24 is the Best

Any body else playing the game 7 Little Words?  I have it installed on my tablet and usually work a couple of puzzles during commercial breaks.  I can see why people say it is addictive.  Because it doesn't rely on the syllables we usually break words into, the lettered bits are a little more challenging to fit together...a little more of a brain work-out hopefully.   I remember Julianne Moore in Still Alice describing how her memory problems were affecting her word recall; she says something like... 'the words are hanging in front of me but I can't reach them'.  It must be similar to when a word is on the tip of your tongue; so close you've almost got it but not quite.  If you are like me, that word inexplicably drops like a penny into your mind later on, when the need to remember is past.

In crocheting news, I follow several crocheting blogs faithfully. Today I want to tell you about one that I am completely over the moon about and that is Attic24; the link is here to this most wonderful of yarn/crochet blogs.  Lucy has an amazing eye for colours and provides some of the best tutorials I've come across on the web. Her photos are beautiful and inspiring. You really must visit her site or check her Flikr photo stream to see the way she has taken crocheting to a whole new level.  Her palette for everything she puts together whether it is a bowl of tangerines sitting on a cloth or the colours of  her blanket creations, is gorgeous and bright and happy.

    Image result for attic24

 See these beautiful crocheted round granny squares; aren't the colours pretty. The link to Lucy's most excellent post all about them  is  HERE .
She made these Japanese Flower granny squares into a beautiful scarf which to me would feel like wearing a work of art. Feeling totally smitten about this particular project.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Perhaps It is Pre-Spring

Spring has just now started to send out some signals; mind you they are still subtle. Today there was melting on the streets and someone said, with excitement, they heard water running off their roof.  The birds, surprisingly, are beginning to sing in the mornings...just a few, but still, a sign. People seem especially anxious for the winter of 2015 to be all over.
 And another sign....
I've been working steadily in full light on my cross stitch wren and nest and that light has been holding longer and longer.

  I'm also well into my third ball of wool for my scarf.  I did buy the same wool in blue. It is a gorgeous shade and I've been scouting out another pattern for scarf number two.  I really do want to stretch my skills and so must pick a pattern that will challenge me a little more than the last. I've found one called horseshoe lace and I think it's really pretty.

There are a couple  of good videos on Youtube to help me get through.
Hope it is at least pre-spring wherever you are.

Monday 9 March 2015

Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen

Like I've said, I usually read a non-fiction book each week.  Last week it was this one.
..Secrets of an Hutterite Kitchen  by Mary-Ann Kirkby

I was interested in this book because I have visited a Hutterite colony myself back at the end of high school when I was on a student exchange program.  The colony, situated in southern Manitoba, consisted of a couple of hundred people operating a large pig farm.  They also were growing all their own food and living off the land as much as possible.  I never forgot the pig barn,( I had never smelled anything like that before).   It was gigantic and very clean, the pigs seemed to be corralled into their mother/litter units with lots of room to move around.  I realize now just what a humane way of raising animals I had been witness to.  

We ate lunch while there; women on one side, men on the other of the large dining hall.  I loved the women; their spotless aprons, the cheery kerchiefs covering their hair, the efficiency with which the platters of food appeared and all the people were fed.  It was all delicious and homemade from start to finish... their own cheese and sausage, homemade bread, strawberry drink and the sweet raisin buns that finished the meal.  

As you can tell, the food made a big impression. LOL

 Mary-Ann's book is a lovely account of the work of the head cook on a Hutterite colony.  She details the menu planning, food ordering, recipe compilations that go into keeping the members well fed and healthy.  Each special occasion - wedding, funeral, etc. traditionally demands a certain menu. If someone is sick, food appropriate for their ailment will be brought to them on a tray in their home. The head cook makes all the decisions and ensures this all gets done and every meal served on time. There are recipes included which I read with interest but they are for making huge quantities of each dish. I think anyone cooking for a crowd would be interested in that section of the book.

The kitchen is a highly collaborative operation and a woman's domain.  Each woman contributes in the way she is able; a good baker will be in charge of the bread, pie and cake making; another will be the sauce maker.  The children are always cared for while the mothers are occupied at their communal tasks.

Child care is not the only thing the Hutterites don't have to worry about.  I love the way the elderly are looked after.  A senior never has to worry what will he do at the end of his work life; he knows he will be lovingly cared for by his family as well as the whole community.  What peace of mind that must be.

A link where you can read more about this most interesting, peaceful, communal living people is


Visiting a Hutterite Colony...just one of my life's experiences I'm thankful for.  

Sunday 8 March 2015

Upcycling the Library

I always feel badly for the authors whose books are on the bottom shelf at the library.  As I get older it seems it is getting harder to bend down that far to have a good look. Well, a brand new library in our area has corrected that issue with forward leaning shelves on the bottom.  A small innovation that seems a long time coming.

A group of concrete turtles lead your way into this library.

 It's no secret libraries are my favourite places and when the newest one, billed as a library of the future, finally reopened I just had to visit to see what all the fuss was about.
 It is a library that started out many years ago as only a single small room, which is the case for so many.  Now it is a whole building, a sleek, modern glass-walled building.  Everything about it is hyper-modern.  Inside all gray, muted colours with lots of steel, glass and corian counters.  The flooring is tiles, but carpet tiles, gray again and laid in an interesting pattern, designed specifically to mute all footfalls.  The only real colour is provided by the chairs which are a pale blue/teal colour, very pretty and because they are leather, very comfortable.  I can imagine some designer in the planning stages saying now we need a pop of colour and the chairs will do that.

Like so many of the libraries in the area, this one too has the automated track for taking away your returned books.  It also has the little boxed shelf that you place your check outs inside and a computer automatically scans your pile and checks out your books for you. Apparently this system is doing the work of six people which I'm not sure is a good thing.
 A couple of features were brand new to me.  As you browse the aisles, the overhead lights (which I had wondered why they were hung so low)  brighten up for you and dim again as you move away.  I thought this was a very cool feature.  Same thing happens with climate control.  Circular discs in the floor that turned out to be vents seem to sense your presence and send out a whiff of cool or warm air as you walk by.
The bathroom was likewise completely automated, everything working on sensory devices.  The paper towel dispenser was a lovely looking device, all curved lines with the name Intuition scrolled beautifully across the front.  Intuitive, indeed. The whole bathroom was designed so you almost had to touch nothing.  Operating room came to my mind.  
At this library, you can do everything you would do in any library and not have to speak to a soul. Unless you sought them out, you don't need a person for anything.
 Innovative, yes certainly, but also robotic to a certain extent; I guess that is the future in a nutshell.