Friday 30 October 2015

It's Halloween

It's Halloween here in Canada.
 Is it a celebration in your corner of the world?

I grew up with Halloween being just about the only time of year we got candy or chocolate bars; they were not regular treats in our house. I wasn't a candy eater so I think it was more the thrill of the surprise that made me love the door to door part of Halloween, the trick or treating.  ( Not unlike my thrift shopping these days.)
We would be sure to draw and colour pumpkins and Mom would let me stick them on the windows in the days leading up to October 31.  That was the extent of the house decorations and my, how that has changed. Here now it is just as elaborate as the for Christmas show.

                 Vintage Halloween Postcard- large:

I do remember the first time in school we got to colour this classic image of the witch all in black flying past a huge yellow harvest moon. Something about it intrigued me then, the clouds, the night sky, the very idea of witches. I can't say exactly what.

 Costumes were not that big, but the face mask was.  Those were those awful rubber ones with inadequate holes for breathing and after only a couple of houses, your face would drip with sweat, but there was absolutely no complaining.


There was also no such thing as parents accompanying us from house to house.  I would join a couple of my friends and off we'd go.  I marvel now that Mom would let me do that but it was really and truly a different time, a time when the world seemed a much safer place for children. Imagined or real.
Someone always knew which houses gave the best treats and no matter how far away, we'd be sure to go there. We didn't use flash lights; stumbling around in the dark added to the general excitement. And I think it was thrilling anyway for just us kids to be out after dark something I never did otherwise. 
 Back home, so tired but eager to dump out the loot and have a look at what we'd collected.  Lots of apples, candy, the 2 for a penny kind but in Halloween wrappers and always a couple bags of chips which were my favourite. 

What a night, what memories.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Finished Embroidered Blocks and Aunt Eliza's Star

Orts of which I have plenty.
 I try my best to corral them but they love to escape.  In fact, I've discovered they love to travel.
 Often I decorate the sofa with them, sometimes the hem of my skirt, especially the front of a sweater, sometimes Hubby's fleece jackets.  Once an especially long one dangled from Murphy's mouth.  Hubby said he found one floating in the aquarium one day.  I spied one at Daughter's house just the other day; it was the bright pink of the last flower in my wildflowers block 6 so I knew it was unmistakenly mine.
 I must be an especially messy embroiderer is all I can say.

My Block 6 of Hazel's Summer Wild Flowers Quilt is finished. Sorry for the quality of the photo.  I took it yesterday which was a dark and rainy day thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Patricia.

 I've been thinking about the blocks to sew for the border to complete this quilt.
  I've settled on a star patchwork design as I'd really like to improve my sewing of star blocks; they are some of my favourites. They also would have been very popular during Hazel's time and quilting years.
The first I'm using is Aunt Eliza's Star pattern.  I have sewn four so far, two blue and two red.  I made the red ones last and I can see how my technique had improved by then and I also was much faster.  My new machine is working quite well and I'm loving having the quilter's foot with the 1/4 inch seam built in. 

Now if I had one of those snazzy design walls, I could put them all together to see how they would look.

On a completely different topic.  This has been in the news a lot lately.
Have you seen the new New Math?  There have been several updates of Math since I went to school.  Who knew there could even be such a thing.
 This latest is confounding and prompting lots of complaints from parents who are probably familiar with the old New math themselves. I'm finding it mind-boggling which I'm sure is a direct reflection of my age.  What do you make of it?

Here's a sample...
Image result for new math images

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Gift of a Special Sewist's Lamp

 People often ask what would you like for Christmas or your birthday.
 I always have a hard time saying anything.  I have just  about everything I need and mostly Hubby and I go and buy anything that crops up as either a need or a want.  I am certainly at a point where I don't want things as such anyway.  But I do realize saying to Daughters "I want you to be happy" which would be the biggest gift I could get isn't that helpful when they are looking for suggestions.

   Above is a photo of a Christmas gift that I received several years ago.  If I'd seen it in the store, I probably would have said I would like to have it. I was very happy with how unique this little lamp old fashioned flame type bulb sitting atop a large spool of thread. As a lamp, it provides a very soft glow, not enough light to actually sew by.  I am especially pleased by who the giver is...a member of hubby's deceased wife's family; happily they have accepted me into their circle and we continue to attend their various family gatherings.  The giver thought I would like to put it in my sewing room but that happens to be in the basement and this lamp is too pretty to be hidden down there. 

What's on my night table....

This novel, Bereft by Chris Womersley takes place in Australia.  It tells the story of a young man named Quinn who flees from home under suspicion when his sister is murdered.  He eventually returns home with the hope of clearing his name.  Quinn quickly realizes that he must stay in hiding and lives in the woods near his family farm.  It is in these woods that he meets and forms an allegiance with a young orphan girl who is also in hiding. This book won the 2011 Australian Indie Award as well as being nominated for other awards.
 I enjoyed it very much; I especially liked the young girl who showed a lot of courage. I also liked the use of the word bereft.  It has a potency all its own.  It is used in the novel and is aptly descriptive of how horrible events in life can make a person feel.

One of Robert Frosts' poems is called Bereft.  It was entirely new to me.  Anyway you can read it 

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Aching But Maybe A Cake Cures Everything

Tired here this morning.  I have legs aching like I have run a marathon, and believe me, I haven't.  As the joke goes, my get up and go has got up and went. Hopefully it has not gone far.  But this has not made me cranky thankfully.  I'm doing everything as I normally would just slower.  I  broke down and took a Tylenol, something I rarely do, so I'm sure by this afternoon I will feel fine.  Enough about that.


Last little bouquet of marigolds on the kitchen shelf.  To the left is a cure for fruit flies. They enjoy hanging out around the kitchen compost pail.  I found this idea on the cider vinegar with orange peels, covered with saran wrap with a few holes punched through.  Works well though a little scary just how many flies we managed to drown.  Don't look too closely at the bottom.

 Our wood has been delivered and we are all set for our winter fires.  We lose the power here off and on so it is a comfort knowing we will always be warm, able to boil a kettle and heat a tin of beans, LOL.  And there is no other heat that warms your bones quite like wood heat. The older Hubby gets, the warmer he wants to be.

I smiled when I saw this title in my inbox this morning, The Cake That Cures Everything.  What a great name for a cake!   Ruth Reichl includes it in her book My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life.   The Recipe makes a big cake, but as Ruth points out, can you have too much chocolate cake.  Not possible, says Hubby. And could it cure aching legs I wonder.

The Cake That Cures Everything (Chocolate Cake)

Into my Favourites File went this recipe.

Morning chores done; I am getting cozy on the couch with my stitching and a little Sherlock and thankful yet again for the joy of retirement.

 Aching legs or not, this is Bliss!

Monday 26 October 2015

Misery Loves Company

My English Paper Piecing is continuing and I must admit it is a labour intensive procedure.  Imagine trying to put a price on something you have made with this method.  You could never ever be recompensed for the time, that's for sure. That being said, it is relaxing this slow stitching and it is nice to do hand sewing not involving counting or following a chart. 

I ran out of glue and began basting the edges.  This takes a little longer and I'm not sure if there is any added benefit over the gluing. My first two blocks worked like a charm but my next couple required several pieces to be unwrapped and then stretched and coaxed into place.

On the Facebook Farmer's Wife SAL group, I've been eagerly reading fellow quilters' messages about getting these blocks together.  Some seem to have smooth sailing and others seem to be like myself...having to redo and unsew and work a lot harder to get the block pieces aligning like they should.  Several have posted that this project is too hard at this point in their lives and are bowing out.

 I must admit something that is terrible and that is I've taken much comfort in the fact that others have been having trouble with some of their blocks.  The lady who admitted she spent 5 hours on one block I could have hugged because so did I!  What kind of bad person does that make me!

It just proves the old adage- misery loves company, I guess.

However, in my defense, it is from these brave people posting about their problems that I'm actually learning.  These women, through their trial and error, have worked out strategies to correct further mistakes.  For instance,  having only a 1/4 inch seam seems to be making the block edges a little too scanty.  Some have increased this to 1/2 an inch. This is good to know as I've been coming up too short in some cases as well.  I've also quickly learned to not do the assembly line because I'm learning something new with each block. 
 And I do have so much to learn but just imagine how good I'll be at EPP by the time all 99 blocks are completed!

                                            I'm toting each blocks' pieces in a baggie.

 Organizing all the bits and pieces for each block is essential. My little folder I started with quickly became inadequate.   Hubby found a large 3 ring binder in the basement that I could fill with plastic sleeves and keep each block and pattern in.  All 99 blocks and their little bits can easily fit in this one.  It is enormous. 

Other quilters who like myself were determined to use the freezer paper method, have broken down and ordered the special templates recommended for making this quilt.  These are made by Marti Michell's company and cost about $100 to get all the sets needed and of  course, this is an expensive venture.  I'd read how much easier having these plastic tools made the drawing and cutting and improved the accuracy so I've broken down and ordered the templates too. Hubby wouldn't dream of tackling a project without the proper tools so he is thinking I was crazy to try it without the templates.  So many people are saying they are happy they did.  Well, I shall see.

Meanwhile, in regular life, our 26 year old Amana Fridge has given up the ghost. People say they build fridges to last only 5 or 6 years these days which seems scandalous.
 Sears can't deliver the new one till early November so we've had to buy a little bar fridge to see us through.  Coping without a dishwasher was a piece of cake, however, I've really missed the fridge.

Several people have asked about the candle with the ring in it...both daughters have retrieved their rings and they are surprisingly nice.  I'm still burning my candle and as soon as I reach mine, I'll post a photo of all three rings. 

Friday 23 October 2015

"I Have Been Here Before"

     A dream, imagination, fantasy, deja vu, our minds can have a field day with thoughts.


Sudden Light

 By Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 I have been here before,
 But when or how I cannot tell:
 I know the grass beyond the door,
 The sweet keen smell,
 The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

 You have been mine before,
— How long ago I may not know:
 But just when at that swallow's soar
 Your neck turn'd so,
 Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.

 Has this been thus before?
 And shall not thus time's eddying flight
 Still with our lives our love restore
 In death's despite,
 And day and night yield one delight once more?

Hope your weekend is filled with imaginative thoughts.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Purposely Repurposing

I just read that post title out loud.  I didn't realize it was such a mouthful.

 My niece sent me this on Facebook.

 Cute, heh?  I am not alone in being a material girl that's for certain.

 Anyone reading Canadian Needle Nana knows how I feel about recycling.  I have had success with composting and I do try to buy things secondhand and use the clothesline and heat the house with wood in winter. And by the way, here is the very first fire of the year...

  I guess I think I am doing my little bit.  But I am always amazed and happy when I get to see some of the incredible ways people are reusing and recycling all manner of items.  Today I want to share with you some repurposing that clever, clever people have done.

 How in the world do they dream it up?
 Over at Making Nice in the Midwest you can learn how easily you can turn a pillowcase, an embroidery hoop and some twine into a very handy and pretty laundry bag.  This is a DIY project that even I could do.  Now that pillowcases are king sized, they really could double as laundry hampers. 


This is just too cute and another surprisingly easy project with a great result.  The directions are very clearly illustrated at Bored Panda showing you just how to turn a glove into a chipmunk.   Or as they put it "turn your old and lonely glove into an ever happy chipmunk".  It is actually from the book Happy Gloves by Miyako Kanamori and it can be bought at Amazon for about $11.  In the book Miyako shows how to make your own little zoo from lonely gloves. And who doesn't have a couple of them hanging around.


We all know there are tons of books kicking around that are orphaned and discarded.  The public library here runs a regular little bookstore where books cost pennies and they still have lots and lots of books that they can't even give away.  Those could be given whole new purposes according to Lisa Occhipinti in her book, The Repurposed Library.  It too is available at Amazon, used for as little as four dollars.  There are a number of books telling remarkable, artistic ways to reuse old books but I chose this one because the projects seem doable.

And the ultimate repurposed item from the bed to a costume...of course I just had to include the classic bed sheet costume with Halloween looming, timeless, simple and effective.

Repurposing is certainly nothing new.  I have strong memories of my grandmother using sugar and flour sacks washed into softness and made into cloths. 
In fact, I wish I could buy these today.  

Wednesday 21 October 2015

My One and Only Makeup Tip

I'm really really late to the makeup game.  I went through university without owning a tube of lipstick, yes I was one of those.  I thought of myself as a natural girl and would not hear tell of using blush or lipstick.  I still can't use foundation; it makes my face feel dirty.

This set up a reverse kind of argument with my mother.  Mom was always a girly girl and loved all the accoutrements; she never left the house without every hair firmly in place, her makeup on and earrings chosen to match whatever outfit she was wearing.  She was always asking/encouraging/pleading me to let her put a little blush on me, for me to wear an earring besides a stud, to let her fix my hair... said hair that I was cutting myself (and still do).  Mind you, she never ever made me feel badly about my looks; she was always careful to say I would look prettier if I did use makeup. 

  I really had no clue about how any of those things would enhance my looks...that was still many decades into my future.  Not that I wear that much makeup these days, but I finally realized when the glasses came off that I look like I don't have eyes without a little liner and I usually do wear a little lipstick out and about.

So I come to my one and only makeup tip.

 I got this tip from none other than Cindy Crawford. She gave it to me and a few million other women many years ago. Cindy was appearing on Oprah and told what models do so they never get lipstick smudges on their teeth.  I scoffed at her tone at the time...she took this so seriously like she was imparting some kind of wisdom.

But I never forgot it and use it still to this day when I apply lipstick.

Apply lipstick, open your mouth, insert your finger (any finger will do), close lips lightly over finger, and draw your finger out of your mouth.  While you may have lipstick on your finger, you will never have lipstick on your teeth.

 Every now and then I see a woman with a lipstick smudge and I think oh she could use Cindy and my makeup tip.  LOL

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Sewing Advice From 1949 And Garden Beauties

 Daughter sent this to my Facebook page and a few of my friends have had a laugh at it.  I wonder is it real.  Did someone actually write this for women to take seriously.

I think sewists have always had a good sense of humour.  I know there is always lots of laughing whenever they get together.

 Meanwhile I've rounded the corner on the edging of my Strawberry Thief.  I'm still trying to spend a good hour stitching it in the best of the afternoon light when I'm home.  And when there are no 'urgent household chores' of course, and my 'hair is in order'.  LOL

 One last little apple left on one of the ancient apple trees.  The dogs have had a great time snacking on the old fallen apples.  It always surprises me that they aren't all whisked away by foraging animals.

  And here is Murphy doing just that.  She has a great nose for food and other less desirable but equally smelly things.

  Sedum always provide a little colour even late in the fall.  Another wonderful perennial.

 Son in law has been growing pumpkins and tried several different kinds.  Here are his best from the garden this year.  The one on the end is the most beautiful shade of perfect orange.
One will definitely be a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

So things are golden, yellow and orange here.  Definitely the colours of the season. 
 Hope there is something golden in your world too. 

Monday 19 October 2015

Ahhing Over Acorns

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."
                                     Ralph Waldo Emerson

Littlest grandson and I have been watching the Youtube videos of Scrat, the prehistoric squirrel from the Ice Age movies who risks life and limb to attain that elusive acorn.  These crazy scenes give grandson the chance to say some of his favourite words- wow, oh oh and no.  Truth is I get a real kick out of them too.

We can't walk anywhere on the property these days without crunching through hundreds of fallen acorns.  There must be thousands alone under that old oak tree.
There are so many squirrels darting this way and that, the dogs are going crazy.

Here I am standing under that old oak tree; I showed you this back in June.  Can you imagine how many acorns such a tree could produce.

It prompted me to look around for acorn inspired works and turns out, there are hundreds of items.  I picked a few to share with you today.

Like one of my favourites, William Morris.

William Morris ~ Christmas ~ Acorn Ribbon fabric by peacoquettedesigns ...william morris wallpaper design, arts and crafts movement

The one on the top is his Christmas pattern.

You have to look closely to find the acorns in that sea of green oak leaves on the other one.

Or another of my favourites, Kathy Schmitz. I just love how her little squirrel is wearing a sweater.    HERE is a link to her site.       

                Sweet Stitches Little Acorns - September


I would love to have this lamp and how appropriate for this property.  Someone told me I can get one like this at Amazon.

Cross sttich patterns featuring acorns abound.  I just love this design that Carol at Stitching Dreams  worked.  It is a Prairie Schooler Band Sampler called Tall Oaks.


I love the little squirrels and the way the leaves on the tree have been depicted.  When you check out Carol's blog be sure to read the story of her oak tree and her son; it's the reason this particular piece is special to her.

And in knitting too...


This is the Oak Leaf and Acorn Scarf, a very pretty pattern.  It is available at the awesome Ravelry site . 
The pattern is an eyelet one with the oak leaves falling into a row of acorns and was rated average in difficulty. 

And let's not forget crochet....Val's Corner offers the complete instructions for making these adorable little guys.

 I just love this little silver Tiffany Acorn thimble/pill box.   How special is this.

Tiffany acorn trimble case and

And aren't these cute?  Ann at My Nearest and Dearest gives a tutorial on how to make these with your kids. 

                       DIY personalised acorn Christmas ornaments. My Nearest and Dearest blog.

Kate Middleton's newly made crest just prior to her royal marriage features three acorns representing the three children in her family. I wonder did William Morris influence that choice at all.

Whew! I think I'm acorned out.

Friday 16 October 2015

Looking Forward To


Rangers Senators Hockey

                    Image result for symbols of knitting

                    A Spool of Blue Thread


Thursday 15 October 2015

The Sumacs Are Red Now

Yesterday was one of those days when we had a bunch of chores to do in town.  Along the drive to and from, we both admired the spectacular colour show the trees were putting on.  I am determined to note this season in a way I failed to do with summer which seemed to have slipped through my fingers. 
 When I got home and took the dogs for a walk, I took my camera with me.  Hope you enjoy these photos from around our house as I 'note the season'. 

And here they are, the broad band of sumac that line the path seen from the trail that borders the swampy area.

                                          Up close, the leaves hang like red flags.

 They make the path to the house look festive. You can see how gnarled and thick their branches are.  These are aptly named Staghorn Sumac. In places the upper branches form a canopy and once we saw the imprint of where an animal had spent the night in the grass under that canopy.  Hubby thought it a deer.  


Do you remember this poem from grade school?  I know I read it in school books or readers as we called them.  I thought of it as I looked at these photos and the way our field is wearing its scarlet gown. 

Hope there is something colourful in your day.