Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015, I Thank You

So Thankful For...


Inspiration and Things of Beauty
 
You, my wonderful blogging friends.  I am thankful for the opportunity to visit and read your posts; I feel connected to a wonderful supportive community. 
So many of you are creating such 'things of beauty', I am in awe.  It's inspired me to try new sewing, introduced me to slow stitching, taking my time and enjoying the experience.
I adore looking at it all and I've learned so much.

Humour

A little bit of humour- smile, just have to have things to smile about.
 Angela at Thoughtful Ramblings always gave me a smile in her posts and comments.  Smiling is good. 
                          "The bidding will start at eleven million dollars." - New Yorker Cartoon Premium Giclee Print by Charles Barsotti
                          "The bidding will start at eleven million dollars."

And really it is no joke how much we love our pets.  I know my two are a continual comfort. I love how they get me out of the house, walking and taking in the seasons. 





I'm Thankful for the Big Things

Big things like the grandchildren and time spent with them... I'm thankful to 2015 for giving me so much more time with this little guy.




And still getting some quality time with the 11 year old who is growing up soooo fast.


  Little Things

2015 was chock a block with little things.

 Like a cappuccino sprinkled with cinnamon sitting on a beautiful crocheted placemat which was one of  my 'found' treasures. 


Busy Fingers and Quiet Mind

And finally, for me, quiet and still...always the challenge.
 In 2015 I enjoyed lots of busy times but also lots of time to follow my own pursuits- my reading, writing, gardening and needlework. 



                         

Here's to 2016!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Crazy Crocheting and Turtle Speed Sewing

Feeling nostalgic-ish.  I guess in the old days they would have said maudlin which means I'm showing too much emotion in a foolish or annoying way, according to the dictionary.
You're the only one I've said this to so it can't be that annoying.  
  Sometimes it really hits me that I am far away from my basic family...mom, dad and two siblings.  Even though reminding myself I am lucky to be living near both daughters and grandsons.
 Can't have it all, I guess. Big Sigh

Meanwhile I wanted some finishes for 2015, but it's not going to happen. 

But to that end I've been crocheting like crazy to get my Granny Stripe Blanket finished and have the uncomfortable tingling in my right arm to show for it.  The blanket has become  huge and seems to have grown wider somehow since I started.  I guess the weight of all that wool has a stretching effect. I've saved three balls to crochet an edging and fear that won't be enough.
Here it is atop our king sized bed and it isn't finished yet but the wool is soon going to run out. Then I'll call it finished.







Last look at my Strawberry Thief.  Oh how I loved my time with him.





I've decided to work a border for my Hazel Project that involves more slow stitching.  I really like it and if I can ever get it finished, it will look good, I think.  It involves appliqueing these petal shapes to form a flower, hopefully mimicking the flowers throughout the embroidery.  As I said, I was inspired by Yoko Saito's lovely projects in her book, 120 Original Embroidery Designs



Chugging away on my Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt blocks.  Finished three more lately.  More slow stitching but so enjoyable.

I decided to take out the papers and give them a press before photographing and they really look much nicer.  

Here is Jenny.  12 pieces and one point that gave me grief.  I finally gave up and said you'll do!
 (But I might go back later and work a little more on it.)  Btw, one of those lost points is not really missing, the fold is hiding it. 


This is Patricia and she has 17 pieces.  No particular problems.


And lastly, Mary.  32 pieces and I like the effect of the triangles around the edge like this. I worried about them but after some adjustments, they were fine. 


This Nana has no formal babysitting this week.  Just in time to catch up on my reading.  I have four books from the library that have become available at the same time, so reading it is!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Yes, It Was Green

 Yes we had a green Christmas.  In our hemisphere, it would usually reflect this quote from Anne of Green Gables...
.
"I don't like green Christmases.  They're not green-they're just nasty faded browns and grays."


 However, ours was warm with mild sun. Saturday was lovely too....






Then this was Sunday when we woke up...the world was changed completely.  A white dusting of snow covered everything.
Hubby said Rex acted like a puppy on their way to get the paper at the end of the lane...running around and nosing the snow. 

Our trail had become a winter wonderland.


 The air felt so fresh and brisk.  Invigorating.  Christmasy.
 I am still sorry we missed it for the day.  





Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Eve

A very quiet Christmas Eve here.
 Hubby is having a late snooze because he spent most of the day attaching the snow plow part to the tractor ( you can tell I understand the technical aspects of this, lol). I spent the day wrapping gifts.

The beginning- the first five...






I decided to fill stockings for the Christmas Day crowd; last count 12 people.  But instead of stockings I bought these red cloth bags being sold to raise funds for the Canada Get Fit organization and filled them. 


I think that worked out well.  Hopefully I've chosen little things that will please everyone.  They are all getting a copy of The Old Farmer's Almanac, which I myself enjoy having a look-through.


The weather today has broken all records for its unseasonable  warmth...16 degrees C.  With beautiful sunshine, it would have been a more than passable summer day.  I took the dogs for an extra long walk and didn't want to come inside; the air felt wonderful. 
The grass is turning green again.  Weird. 

I didn't have to think about food for the big day itself.  Daughter and husband are having the meal catered so none of the mothers or grandmothers or grandfathers have to  peel a potato or time a turkey.  We are to show up and sit and relax and open presents. 

                         






So hope you are having a good night whatever you are doing, celebrating or not.
 Take care and I will check in with you next week. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Our Bit of Country Christmas


 Our Bit of Christmas




 My tree the last few years has been a "bird" tree.  I love nature and birds in particular so it is fitting for me.  It is interesting that Hubby's mum also loved birds and I inherited a box of bird decorations from her tree.  Too bad she can't know they are being used and admired still this many years later.



                         The great Snowy Owl looks over them all, the plumed and the plain. 




 And here they are... our Father Christmas aka Santa Claus group.   It is always fun to see all the ways Good Old St. Nick is represented. 


 

  Several of these date from hubby's youth so many years ago and the rest represent a number of different decades of Santa offerings.  There are cloth, ceramic, porcelain, cardboard, and wooden Santas here plus several of unknown material!

 Pinterest has many, many clever patterns showing how to fashion cake layers into a Santa.  I'm sure the kids would love this one which is made up of cup cakes.  Melissa at My Cake School 
shows exactly how to make it.  

 Santa cupcake cake tutorial by MyCakeSchool.com!

 Can you imagine a Santa made out of marzipan and fondant?  I saw just that on display at a local restaurant several years ago; their chef happens to be a talented artist with food and he fashioned Santa in his sleigh and all the reindeer flying over a village.  To say it was remarkable is an understatement; I couldn't get the beauty of all the detail out of my mind. Even better was the fact that they were selling tickets on it with all money going to charity.  It could have given the famous Cake Boss a run for his money.


Monday, 21 December 2015

Farmer's Wife Update and Who Knew


Christmas in earnest now.  Can't avoid it or put it off any longer...the buying of presents and wrapping, the house decorating, the baking, the finalizing of plans for Friday, Dec. 25.

Who Knew?
  Strangely enough giving to charities is way down this holiday season and our oddly snowless December is being blamed.  Apparently, we here in Canada need snow to put us in the holiday giving mood.  The Salvation Army Kettle Appeal is reporting much lower than usual donations.  Food banks, ditto.
 Snowsuit drives down as well.  That one makes more sense to me. Having snow and cold temperatures would definitely make you realize kids need snowsuits.
 We've had neither snow nor cold so far. It might work out to be a warm, green Christmas but a less charitable one which is unfortunate.   

My Salt and Pepper Shakers


Meanwhile I want to update you on my Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt blocks.  I've been steadily working on them trying not to let my neck get too stiff or my eyes cross.  Some of the blocks are posing more of a challenge than others.

Here are a few that worked out fine.

Marcella was a fast one... with only 9 pieces, a real break from some of the blocks I've been tackling with many, many pieces. And none of the pieces that small...an added bonus. 



This is Patience, another easy block to construct  with 9 pieces.  I think that name would have suited some of the other, more challenging blocks better.




Here is Lola; piecing her 16 parts was a little more challenging.  Getting all the points to meet neatly without a lot of ripping out seams was a feat for me.  But I managed.

 

This is Nan, a rather odd looking block with a prominent cross motif.  I wasn't that fussy but worked it because with just 11 pieces, she was another break from the tougher ones.  This is my second attempt because I thought the two crosses should be the same width and I ripped apart the first one when they didn't match up.  Only to look closer at the design and realize I'd gotten it right the first time.  They are meant to be different widths.  Grrr....



Here is Fern proudly sporting 29 pieces!  She represents a victory for me.  Even though the central panel went together like a dream I then struggled mightily with the corner pieces.  It took a lot of effort to get them evenly spaced along each side.  There is precision in cutting and stitching required for some of these blocks to look okay that eludes me from time to time. 


One minute I think I am improving and then along will come a block that will be a real humdinger to stitch together.  I have several blocks using red cloth as a nod to the season partway through.  I'm not sure they will 'go' with the ones I've made so far.

The SAL administrators are taking a break till the new year. People will have a chance to catch up with the blocks completed so far.  I've noticed more people telling they are making changes to blocks, omitting some, and doing doubles of their favourites. This is the way each quilt will be unique; I know already I won't be tackling a couple blocks that I don't think are that attractive.

I'm enjoying being a part of a group like this.  There has been a huge amount of sharing...tips, tutorials, personal stories, ups and downs. I'm learning about the many different fabric lines available as many have chosen to use a collection.  This is certainly a far cry from my grandmother's day when quilts were stitched with leftover remnants of clothes, flour bags and the like.
But it is all very interesting.

Happy Hustling and Bustling!





Friday, 18 December 2015

Show Me a Mall And I'm Happy Said Julia Roberts

Yesterday I was in a mall, the Bayshore to be exact.

 That is quite something for me but the lure of Christmas shopping towed me in.  And a semi crowded mall can exhibit some of the hustle and bustle that comes to mind with the countdown to the Big Day and hustle and bustle can be fun.



In reality, I had a bout of insomnia two nights running before and didn't feel in best shopping form.  For the first while, I went from store to store in a bit of a daze. All the choices seemed overwhelming and trying to absorb the sales, making mental calculations of what 30% or 40% off really means in dollars; it all seemed a bit much to my wee foggy brain.
To be truthful, all these lovely shopping malls are wasted on me now.  I spent decades of my life living in the north, in small and smallish towns with limited shopping choices.  I would sometimes yearn for a good mall to sally through.
  I'm past my shopping peak, I'm afraid.  Not really gathering and collecting much for myself anymore.  No longer working so don't need school clothes.
  It just naturally whittles down, doesn't it?
Don't I sound like an old woman just!  Blame the insomnia.
 And I did brighten up when I met back up with the family for lunch. I had fish tacos which sounds wrong but were really tasty.

                         Get the Baja Fish Tacos recipe from Food Network

Here is Rex at his most relaxed; lulled somewhat by the wood stove heat but the pesky black squirrel in the backyard is keeping him from nodding off completely.



Murphy doesn't let anything keep her from a good snooze.
 

And signs of Christmas are slowly creeping into the house.  

                                        Image result for angel quotes images

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Then There Was the Christmas...

I tried to make presents for everyone on our list.  A couple of crocheted afghans, knitted scarves, a set of hand drawn cards, a cross stitch for my father that said " Long May Your Big Jib Draw" for over his work bench, a set of placemats and matching apron for Mom, on and on it went. Piece of cake, I figured. What a great idea!

I was teaching full time with two little girls at home underfoot.  It was pure madness and I had myself in a frenzy by the time the holidays rolled around.  On Christmas Eve I had to stay in the bedroom sewing the binding on the latch hooked mat I'd made for my in-laws, the very last gift on the list.  I could hear everyone laughing and having a great time in the living room.

  The up side of that little ill timed event was at least my in-laws got some idea of how much time I'd put into their gift. I never did make it out of the bedroom that night. But they kept the mat in their living room for many years till it completely wore out so I know they appreciated it.

When that Christmas finished or whenever I spied the mat, I'd remind myself of the great idea that I would never try again. Though since retiring, I've been tempted.

I read a number of blogs where the sewists are doing just that...making their gifts.  It seems to me it must be well planned and well timed to be successful. Of course, some of these are wonderful pros with a sewing machine or the needles so it would work for them.  I love reading about their projects and I admire them so much.

Meanwhile, can you remember that long wait and the countdown to the Big Day?  I remember it for myself and then got to live it again with my children.  Joys of life.  Hope you enjoy this little video.


 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

What's Better Than A Pot of Homemade Soup?

Why two, of course.




On the right
I had picked up a couple of big bags of carrots...the last from the local farmers and knew I would be making carrot soup.  It freezes so well and is so nourishing.  I keep it very simple...lots of carrots boiled till soft in chicken broth, with a chopped apple sometimes and a little salt and pepper.  It all gets blended in the Ninja and at that point, I like to add some cream.  It makes the flavour richer somehow.  Hubby likes dill sprinkled on his.  If you start with good tasty carrots, the soup won't need any other seasonings.

On the left
This is my attempt at Thai soup.  Vegetables boiled in chicken stock with a couple of tablespoons of red curry paste or fish sauce added.  My secret ingredient in this soup is a teaspoon or two of sugar. It adds a little balance to the flavour.  I add chopped ginger also because we like it and I don't add coconut milk because Hubby isn't fussy about it.  I serve this over noodles.  I love the way this soup can help clean out the vegetable crisper in the fridge.

In the middle
Lots of great scraps for the compost bin :)

As you know I've been diligently working on my Farmer's Wife blocks.  This has been, not only a lesson in better accuracy and stitching, but patience as well.  I tried to sew together the block called Daffodil and try as I might, I couldn't get the pieces to fit together. I worked at it till I began to feel my eyes cross; I'm not kidding.
  I was so frustrated and down on myself about it.  But later I read in the on-line group feed that two of the pieces are incorrectly named in the pattern; they have to be reversed for the design to work.  So it wasn't me after all.  I felt relief when I read that.
  Honestly sometimes I think I'm too old to be trying to do this project.  I can see why many have dropped out and I can certainly empathize.
I'm having particular problems with the patterns that have many points meeting in the center.  With papers adding to the fabric bulk, it is a challenge to have it all lay flat.

Perhaps a solution is....
 It was reassuring to read that some people have decided to make substitutions for blocks that are causing them grief, as well as making slight adjustments to others. I've decided to think about doing that too.  With just a little change, I can see where a block can be made manageable without changing up the whole design.
I never thought of doing either of these things I guess because it seems a little like cheating but the bottom line is -it is my quilt to do what I want with.   So there is hope to keep me going.

Meanwhile


Rex must have gotten a smell he liked from the glue I used in this block, Blossom, which is a tree pattern. Anyway he decided to give it a chew.  So after I battle those many half square triangles and am pleased with them, he mangles the main piece, the trunk.  Some of the tiny squares are also missing and I hate to think he actually ate them but Hubby doesn't think they'll hurt him.

Note to self: Never leave your EPP blocks on the coffee table.

 Woe is me.

 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Project Stash Assessment and My Wedding Band


Doing the morning chores here.  Just remembered to check the mouse trap in the cupboard.  Even though supposedly humane, I don't like to keep the little fellows in there any longer than necessary.  No, all clear this morning.  Not many have been caught this year so far, I think because of the warmer temperatures.  
We went shopping yesterday though shopping is a loose term for us.  Hubby has his list and doesn't deviate and actually I had mine too.  We were rather efficient in getting things ticked off in great order, to the point that we were able to make it to Kungfu Bistro for a late lunch.  I love their Hot and Sour Soup.  
One of the reasons the shopping went smoothly is that I use gift cards for so many on my list.  I resisted doing that for many years but have succumbed.  Just seems to make sense for people to pop to Indigo themselves and choose the book they want.
 How do you handle the whole gift-giving event?  Have you resorted to gift cards too?

Do you enjoy seeing what people have in their stash?

 Then there is a Youtube site for you.  It is called Floss Tube and I've just heard about it.  People video their cross stitch supplies....patterns, etc. and chat about each.  Some show their WIP's or finished projects or projects they hope to work on.  I've watched a few videos; the link to a playlist is  HERE.     

 That got me thinking about my own reserve.  So I re-evaluated my project stash on the weekend. Is there an acronym for that?
  I don't have nearly the fabrics, threads, projects or books on hand that I see fellow bloggers showing.  But I do seem to have gathered a few supplies in waiting.

This is a design I love and you can view it finished at the Crabapple Hill Studio site.



With the winter theme of Snow Days, it is an embroidery and quilting project that would definitely take me through the winter months.  It's hard to tell from this photo but there are lots of snow covered houses and trees to embroider.




 Look at all these threads...they actually excite me like blank paper or a box of brand new crayons.  What a lovely time I would have sorting them!  And the flower bouquet to cross stitch is really sweet.




I'm always interested in maple leaves as a motif.  I don't have anything made with them though I do sport maple leaves on my old ring finger every day.  The wedding band that caught my eye in the case of  an American jewelry store turned out to have a scroll of maple leaves on it. I knew right away that was the ring for me. Even the clerk was struck by how appropriate that a Canadian had spied it. 
Sorry, it doesn't photograph very well.  I love it.


But back to the cross stitch maple leaf.  It too is rather scrolly.   I think it would work up quickly and I've kept it in waiting because it would be a great little project to take travelling sometime. 

I guess the Christmas countdown is on in earnest now.
 Enjoy whatever you are up to today.

  



Friday, 11 December 2015

Bubble Lights and Stuart McLean


The Christmas tree of my youth was always a real one.  When it would be put up in our living room, it immediately made the room seem so much smaller.  You could smell it too the moment you opened the back door. 
 In those days, we would visit each other's houses just to see the Christmas trees.  And each one would look a little different reflecting a family's treasured keepsakes and customs.


                        <b>Christmas</b> <b>Bubble</b> <b>Lights</b> - <b>Christmas</b> Tree <b>Bubble</b> <b>Lights</b> - Walter Drake


The first time I saw Bubble lights on a Christmas tree at a friend's house, I was entranced.  What marvelous thing was this now?  I probably had a look just like the girl on the box below...an original vintage box of Bubble lights you can buy from Amazon.  It seems everything old is available on ebay or Amazon.

Noma Bubble Lite Set of 7 Vintage Special Edition Christmas Lights Nostalgia

We never ever had bubble lights on our tree.  But we had those bulbs that we didn't know at the time would soon be old fashioned; you know the kind...big, substantive and just the primary colours.  


                             Old Fashioned Christmas

                             

I remember well having these on our Christmas tree too...bulb reflectors made out of tin.  They were made to last as we used the same ones year after year.

                              

And our trees were always covered in tinsel.  Mom would spend hours straightening each piece; she liked it to lie just so.  With three kids and a dog running around a small living room, she must have had her work cut out for her.

So, tinsel, bubble lights, reflectors, or a star on the top; what did the tree of your childhood wear?


 Stuart McLean, the son of Australian immigrants, has become a Canadian icon, a storyteller with a radio show called The Vinyl Cafe.  He also travels Canada and the U.S. holding concerts where he tells his stories and invites local talent to play music.  I've been to see him in concert twice and loved it.  Stuart has a lovely speaking voice and his stories are gentle, funny, touching and always highlight human kindness.
If you have the time, pour a coffee or tea and sit back and listen to Stuart telling one of his Christmas stories.  It gets better as it goes along, I promise. 

Christmas At The Turlingtons