Friday 29 January 2016

When Your Brain Doesn't Know What It Wants

Do you ever have a time when you are craving a food but not sure what it is?

  I was like that on Saturday.  I let my mind run through the cupboardy things I have...salt and vinegar, beet crackers....definitely no, hemp seed,  cream crackers...maybe, I opened the fridge door and gazed long and hard; an, a piece of, some  And so it went. While I munched on a couple of dried figs I got out the lemons and made myself a tall glass of lemon water.
 But my mouth was still wanting something. I even looked long and hard at the Christmas left over boxes of chocolates I keep on top of the fridge, but we have an unofficial rule that we only eat these at night after supper and with each other. Do you have food rules like that in your house?

I had a beef stew in the slow cooker so maybe it was the good smell making me want something.
I wonder if when you are hungry for some food you can't put your finger on, is it your body telling you it needs more iron or protein or Vitamin K or something.  I don't know.

Saturday was a great day though despite the yearning.  I took the dogs for an extra long walk in brilliant sunshine and a sky so intensely blue it almost hurt to look at it.

Hubby has run the ski doo through the swampy area so I can now walk there. It starts to the left off the lane way and loops up at the other end with the regular trail.   Getting to walk on the swamp is fun because I get to examine trees and usually find a nest or two that I wouldn't get to see any other time of the year.

Rex loves the snow and has the wonderful multi-layered coat that helps him tolerate the cold.  Of course, when he is shedding it in the house, I don't think it is quite so wonderful.  lol

Mr. Woodpecker hanging around the feeders.  See what I mean about that blue sky.

The chickadees busy busy flitting about and that is the woodpecker's tail on the other side.

As you know I love birds...such stunning beauty!  I just had to share this with you.  Make no wonder we say "proud as a peacock".

Hope there is something proud in your weekend and that you crave for nothing.

Thursday 28 January 2016

A Tiny Bit Bittersweet

There is something a little bittersweet ending a project.  This crocheted Granny Stripe Blanket has been with me since September of last year.  It has been a joy to work, so easy, and the bright colours especially cheery.   It saw me through many episodes of some of my favourite shows, The Missing, Suits, Silk, Whitechapel, just to name a few.  Getting the beginning chain of 200 stitches accurate was just about the hardest thing about it.

I had left my least favourite colour...the pale lilac for the edging.  I was able to crochet around three times with a double crochet stitch before making a decision about the outermost edge.  To do something a little different was the plan so the final lilac row was shell stitch.  Then I decided to crochet a simple picot stitch all the way around with the almost full ball of deep violet remaining.  Picot edgings are so easy but this is the first time I've done it on a blanket.  However, it does use a lot of wool so it was a little nail biting towards the end.  You know the feeling....eying how far you have to go against what is left of the wool and feeling a little uneasy.  But thankfully, it was just about the right amount.

This is an excellent short video tutorial for crocheting the picot stitch.

By the way, my mother has just finished her third Granny Stripe Blanket since I began mine. Plus she has used her bits of leftover wool to make cushion covers.  I'm so happy she has kept up her hobbies.

Last August I got a parcel in the mail from  Mom.  It was 50 knitted wash cloths for me to share with the Daughters, the results of a knitting kick she was on. Like me, she enjoys having something in her hands when watching t.v. or to keep Dad company when he watches hockey games.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Downton Love

Downton Abbey, the t.v. series is finished.  But besides amassing ardent fans worldwide, did you know it has spawned a huge products industry.

 Designers have been inspired by the beautiful clothing created for the show and made their own lines of fabrics.  I learned of this when I saw several people using one or another Downton Abbey fabric lines for their Farmer's Wife quilt blocks.

Very elegant as one would assume.  Each of the ladies have their own line.

These are a sample of  Andover's offerings.

I know a lot of you will be drawn to these lilacs and purples. I love the turquoise hues too.

Or these from Bemina with suggestions for how to apply various Andover fabrics  to quilting projects.  The link is Bemina World of Sewing  if you'd like to check it out.

Did you know you can buy Downton teas, china, wrapping paper, linens, t- shirts and on and on?

                           Downton Abbey  Mrs. Patmore Apron

                                      And even Mrs. Patmore's apron

                                      And we all know who said this...
                                      Downton Abbey "Grandmothers Interfere" Tote Bag (Navy/Natural) -

                                     The Lady Mary teddy bear

                    Downton Abbey Lady Mary Teddy Bear - 14" -

                                     There are teddy bears for all the characters.

World Market is where you can find many of these items.  The PBS Shop also offers a huge selection of Downton items.

So if someone on your gift list is a Downton fan, you can be sure there is something Downton out there to thrill them.

Monday 25 January 2016

On My Design Wall And Yes I Do Have One

Sort of....

Someone emailed me the idea of using a flannel-backed plastic picnic tablecloth as a design wall. Imagine that!  I'd never heard of such a thing. The flannel backing, they said, worked just as well as the ones you buy specifically designed for a design wall.  She suggested buying one and washing it out to make the back a little rougher.
 I did exactly that because I figured with buying one at the dollar store, what did I have to lose.  At the worst, I would have a picnic tablecloth.  I tried this and I am on record as saying it actually works.  My little Farmer's Wife Sampler blocks are hanging on just fine.
                                     Remember my theme?  Springtime on the Farm

 It's hanging over one of the china cabinets in the dining room. It worked so well I had to get out all my blocks that I had tucked away in my binder.  It was really fun to put them together and stand back and have a good look.  It immediately gave me an idea of the colours for my future blocks.  I made a list of the colours and will try to balance them out, number wise.  I've completed around 35 blocks with three more almost finished and several in pieces.  I like to have three blocks at a time so if I run into difficulties with one, I can pick up another and give myself a break. I'm really happy about one thing in particular...I tried to use white in each block because I'd planned to use white sashing from the beginning.  The white is 'helping' even some of the paler colours to stand out.

Here is one I definitely needed a break from... Hope; try as I might, I never did get that center square to work out.  And this was Hope  #2, which made it particularly discouraging.  But I haven't given up on her completely.  I've put her aside while I try to figure out a way to salvage her.  So close...

But apparently it is Lily that is giving people the most problems.  The Facebook group has been vocal in how difficult that particular block is.  I've read enough about her now that I don't think I will be trying that one.  That's a bit of a shame because I was wanting to make the blocks with flower names. Who knows...perhaps later on I'll get my nerve up.

 Pulling out the freezer paper templates is really easy. Do not hesitate to use that method if you are concerned about their removal.

When I talked about angels last week, I meant to include this photo from the fabric shop.

Two themed angels, one for a teacher and the other for a sewist.  There was an array of angels all designed for different careers and interests.  I've never seen these before.

Friday 22 January 2016

The Year of the Pulse

After quinoa and kale, comes the

I was very interested in reading about pulses.  They have always made up a goodly proportion of the meals we eat.  Luckily we both tolerate this group well.  Pea soup made from dried peas, hummus, and lentils in soups and stews are the ways I make use of this wonderful food group.  The Pulse Canada website has all the information you need to know including lots of recipes.

I just tried Beet Crackers/Chips that I found at Costco.  They are different and I wanted to like them especially because I love beets.  But there is something a little too earthy in the flavour for me.  But I'll soldier through; just won't buy them again.

And the popularity of the so called Granny Crafts.

interior decorating with crochet items:

Knitting was always popular, no matter the age.  Needlepoint is considered hip right now as several major designers have entered the field.  Though crochet has had a bit of a struggle,definitely defined as a Granny Craft, it too is enjoying a popularity like never before.  These crocheted pillows from  Lushome show how lovely, vibrant and interesting decorating with wool can be.  But then I'm a little prejudiced...being one of those Grannies and all.

New Starts

How many new starts have you made already?
I read there is a challenge to log a new start for each day of January.  Then the real challenge is to finish them all before that year is out.  Some people have scaled this back to a new start each day of the first week.  That would definitely be more my speed.  Seven new starts would probably be manageable.  I say probably because I still have two WIP's clinging on into this new year.

  How are you doing with new starts?  So much temptation, isn't there?

Word For 2016

I've heard from a few people about their "word" for 2016.  "Yes" is being used by several as well as "dare"and it seems "finish" is very popular.  And if you are starting a new project each day for January, finish will be the only word for you for the year.  Ha,ha just kidding.

Orchid News

I received a question about my orchid.  They were wondering if it would rebloom and sure enough it is blooming again.  You'll remember it bloomed continually for over 18 months before losing all the blossoms.  I notice a difference in these particular blossoms though.  They are not as large or as vibrant a colour as that first set.  However it is sending out more buds every day which is interesting to see.  I'm wondering if I should have made the effort to look into special fertilizer for it.  It is also still in the original pot.  I wonder if the quality of the blossoms is signalling it needs repotting.  I should get on that and look it up.

Still so nice to have colour against the white, white view from my big window these days.

Hope there is something blooming in your life!

Thursday 21 January 2016

The Faith of a Mustard Seed

She was sitting beside me in the clinic waiting room.  Hubby was having one of his tests, the ones he must keep up to ensure he remains a cancer survivor.

  I couldn't help but notice her earrings.  They were made of a yellow gold, the kind of gold they have in Europe.  Suspended from a simple loop was a tiny clear glass bead with what looked like a smaller bead inside.  I thought I knew what was inside that bead.  So I just had to ask.

I like your earrings, I said to her.
 And then I said,  I was wondering is that a mustard seed in them.
  I could tell I really surprised her.  Yes, it turns out it was a mustard seed and she wanted to know how I knew that.
I told her my mother had a similar pair of earrings (but definitely not real gold) when I was a girl and I was fascinated when Mom would point out that the mustard seed was the smallest seed on earth.  (Since I've been gardening I know that isn't true.)  Mom would tell the story that if you had faith, even faith the size of a mustard seed, you would get into heaven.

This lady loved that story and told me her own involving faith and mustard seeds. Her version was that if you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could move mountains.
Those earrings were a gift from her parents.  They were in her ears when she came to Canada fifty years ago when she was twenty-four she told me.
Turned out she had come from Italy to be married to her cousin's friend.

  How did that work out for you?  I asked.
Oh good, she said.  She told me her cousin had really looked out for her and picked a good guy.
When I asked what she missed about her youth in Italy her answer surprised me.
"I miss climbing trees.  I was a tomboy and loved climbing trees just like my brothers," she said with a laugh.
Now for me my fear of heights must have set in early because I don't remember ever climbing a tree in my life.

  She looked like a woman who would know her way around a kitchen. I was just forming a question about tiramisu when her name was called and with a little wave to me, she left.
  I really, really hope she is alright.

This is one of our fields, about May month. The wild mustard grows first, then the soybeans.
It looks like a field of  pure sunshine.

 Nice to look at in January.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Choosing Fabrics and Patterns,A Challenge For Me

Finishing off my Hazel Summertime Flowers blocks into a quilted hanging has been quite the adventure.  I thought it was going to be so easy...silly me.  I figured I would sew the six blocks together, figure out a sashing, sew that on and then make my quilt sandwich, use the free motion quilting feature on my new-fangled sewing machine to quilt it, stand back and admire.
 No siree, not so fast.

As you know I tried any number of fabrics to see which would suit these embroidered blocks.  Was I being picky or blind.  I finally settled on the red with small blue flowers throughout.  Decided to set the blocks on point.  Took a day cutting the red into suitable triangles and sewing them on.  Hung up this piece, stood back to take a look and realized that by setting the blocks on point, I created two huge red blocks where the four triangles met.  These were down the very middle of the hanging and something needed to be done with them.  Groan.

It was starting to make my EPP of the Farmer's Wife Sampler blocks a piece of cake.  Which by the way, Hubby, after reading my posts about my struggles with that project, asked with concern in his voice, was it maybe a little too much for me.  He said it sounds like it's really difficult. :)

I started to draw and sew applique shapes in these large triangles when it occurred to me, perhaps this wasn't the way to join these blocks. So it was back to the drawing board or in this case, back to the stash to find something different to work with.

I've had this little bit of bee cloth for awhile and always wanted to use it for something flowery.  I wondered how it would 'go'. It  is a light yellow and the other two are a medium blue and pink.  Using my Marti Michelle stencils, I made a block from her brochure. I joined it to an embroidered block and liked the look of it and decided to proceed.

Btw, you'll notice this isn't the bee fabric; I didn't want to use it on the beginning blocks till I was sure this was what I was going to do.

Please don't look at that messy sewing corner of my dining room!

So Saturday proceeded in a haze of measuring and cutting and stitching. The fabric was excellent to work with, not flimsy at all. I listened to several episodes of Fifth Estate and Dr. Phil on my laptop as I worked away.  I decided on Chicken Caesar Salads for supper, something more assembly than cooking, so I could keep stitching till I lost the light.

It is a soft pink, not red.  It was late afternoon when this got pieced and the light was very dull so the colours are not showing true.

Meanwhile, I have it hung on the china cabinet so when I go by I look at it and it's growing on me.  Though I still have moments when I wonder if all the rounded lines of the embroidery are calling out for something rounded in the quilted blocks.  Ugh.
 Maybe there is a point when you just have to say, this is it!

Monday 18 January 2016

A Great Dessert, An SAL and Time For Comfort


It was an indoors kind of weekend. Except for refilling the bird feeders, I spent long hours bent over my sewing machine trying to get the pieced blocks for my Hazel project completed.  Which I did- more about that later.

And feeding the fire.  I remember a comment from a reader last year who said a wood stove is like having an are constantly feeding it.

In between, I had fun picking out the threads for a new cross stitch project; since finishing the last one I've been missing having a cross stitch project on the go.  I decided to join in with the Snowflower Diaries little monthly stitchalong.  The designs made by Maja are really cute and she is so generously offering them for free.  Scooch over to her site and have a look.  The first design for the month of January is a fox so of course, I was interested.


I decided Sunday would be like the Sundays I grew up with, a roast in the oven and vegetables cooking on the stove and a special dessert to top it off.  So I made a pork roast supper with oven roasted potatoes and what I hoped would be a great dessert.

I've mentioned Ina Gartner's ,The Barefoot Contessa, Beatty's Chocolate Cake and my intention to make it. Hubby reminded me I had said that in a post so Chocolate Cake would be our first  great dessert of 2016.
  What is it about chocolate cake that is so alluring?  Everything, Hubby would say.  If you want to make this cake, which is very straight forward, the link is here.

It calls for the usual ingredients with the extra additions of buttermilk (I soured regular milk with vinegar) and a cup of fresh coffee.  It made a very dark, moist cake.  We both thought it tasted very good.

It is also a large cake and you-know-who loves that.

Friday 15 January 2016

Angel Wings and Other Things

Just when you think you have all the Christmas things put away, your eye falls on something else.  Actually I think I might keep these here for awhile.  Who doesn't need angel wings and the cookie ornament is one Daughter made with little grandson.  Yes, I'll keep these here as little reminders of lovely things..
Speaking of angels I just read that 8 out of 10 people in America believe in angels.  Can that many people be wrong?

Or Dog Power.  This is a card I have to keep out for awhile.  It is so cute.  And these Labradors just might prove themselves to be even more useful as man's best friend.  On CBC radio last week, we listened to a program about all the research investigating Labradors' ability to sniff out cancer.  Their success rate in detecting cancer from a single drop of blood hovers between 85 and 100%.  It is being called Comparative Oncology and they reckon a computer program making use of this phenomenal smelling factor will be available in five year's time.  It will be especially useful for detecting the 'silent' cancers such as ovarian and gastric.  Well done, pups.

I couldn't believe it when I opened this present on Christmas Day. Younger Daughter had read my post about Bubble Lights and went all over looking for a set for me.  And found them in a specialty store along with lots of other old time Christmas things.   Here they are in their vintage packaging.  I was really touched.

                                             Christmas Crewel Stocking

Lots of good sales around the net on Christmas items.  I love this one.  A vintage (there's that word again) crewel embroidered stocking now on sale at LL Bean.  Love the look of the embroidery.

I will have a post soon showing my latest Farmer's Wife Sampler Blocks.  I am steadily working on them and I think my technique is improving with the practice, but then I had a long way to go.  But this weekend I'll be at the machine finishing up my Hazel Project.  That too has been a journey.  Wish Me Luck!

A Happy Stitching Weekend to You All
Christmas Crewel Stocking
Christmas Crewel StockingChristmas Crewel StockingChristmas Crewel Stocking

Christmas Crewel StockingChristmas Crewel Stocking