Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A Mystery Animal


The burgundy lilac is starting to bloom.  I couldn't resist getting a photo before it had properly opened.  Of the three lilac trees here, this has the most striking coloured blossoms.




My hexagons edged in white.  This project is moving at a snail's pace, mostly because I spend the best light of the day with the cross stitch project.  Crocheting gets relegated to my t.v. night time and is a much shorter time frame and sometimes, if my eyes are tired, not at all.



If I'm eating out, I like to have things I don't usually make at home.  I look at it as a real treat.
One of my favourite lunches to have out and about is this.  Toasted multigrain bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon.  I like capers too but this did not come with them.  This is also my favourite hotel breakfast and I've found kitchens will make this even when it is not on the menu.



 And a mystery animal for you today. 

 Littler grandson and I were playing outside under the deck one day.  They have a sand area set up for him there.  An animal walked along the side of the house, past us and proceeded down the length of the garden, jumped the little creek and paused on the other side.  He looked back just as if he was staring at us.
My heart was in my mouth.  It had passed within three feet of us!   But at that point it was unaware of us I'm sure, tucked away as we were under the deck.  It ran like a fox to me and its tail was bushy with a dark tip. I thought definitely a fox tail.  My immediate thought was fox...but a funny colour for a fox...dark grey.  Was there such a thing.
A couple of days later I spied the same animal from the living room window.  I grabbed my camera and went out on the deck and managed to capture a few bad photos before it moved away.  Haven't seen it since.







So what is it?  I looked it up that night and from what I read, thought it the rarish grey fox but son-in-law thinks it is a coywolf the new hybrid animal, part coyote and part wolf.
 What do you think it is??

Monday, 30 May 2016

Monday's Meandering

Are you watching the  Washington DC eaglets?  I think I gave you a link before.  I am a little addicted and check in with them a couple times a day.  They are large now, spending time branching which just means hopping around on the branches holding the nest but it does mean flying away is getting closer..
Here is the LINK again.. I've read the open chat each day and have learned so much about eaglets.  There is always an eagle expert moderating each days' conversation who answers all the questions.  Of the two eaglets one is noticeably more assertive and it is the female.

Hubby discovered this ground nest by accident.  He cut across the field to the laneway on the 4 wheeler and frightened the mother, a turkey.  She flew off the nest and didn't return.  About a week later we watched a turkey walk up our laneway and walk in and out of the grass on the the left.  We think it was the mother looking for the nest, but she never did go to where it was.  I don't know much about turkey mamas but this one wasn't very attentive and her nest wasn't much of a nest and had no coverage.  Maybe a novice mother.


Another day we saw this little nest tucked in the grass on the ground.  Murphy actually sniffed it out.  One of the eggs had been broken and I watched, but no bird returned to it.  Makes you wonder how these ground nests make viable sites.




We had to go to a downtown hospital for one of Hubby's tests and this tree caught my eye.  Beautiful homes in this area but look how close together they are.  I've been spoiled living in the country!



Those reading regularly know that I have slipitis...a fear of slipping and falling.  This was in the waiting room and I had to smile.  See even the experts recognize this is a serious problem.  There's my age group well represented on the cover!



I spied this cardinal sitting on a wire at a busy intersection.  Amid all the traffic sounds there it was, calmly singing its beautiful song.  I looked up how cardinals fare in cities and read they are one bird benefiting from  the growth of cities; they are good at sussing out backyard feeders and parks.  Both parents rear the young which also must increase the survival chances of their offspring.


It is the state bird of no less than seven states in the U.S.!

Meanwhile, I hope all my American friends are having a good Memorial Day.

Friday, 27 May 2016

House Shopping

Suppose you could live in a different house.  What kind of house would you like?

Hubby and I have been grappling with the issue of moving away from this property.
 The reasons are not that many but are important nonetheless.
With the house surrounded by huge areas of lawn, there is a lot of mowing, like two days' worth; also with snow in winter a lot of plowing.  We are far away, a 40-45 minute drive, from either of my daughters.  We are 25 minutes from the nearest hospital and grocery store.  The house, while well-built, laid out and maintained, needs updating inside from top to bottom. A big job for us to take on which we could do but that still wouldn't fix the location.

I have a confession to make.  I love houses.  I love looking at plans, imagining different lay outs, comparing features, all or any of it to do with houses.  Perhaps I could have been a builder or a real estate agent in another life.
So looking at houses is an enjoyable outing for me. There is a boomer crop of houses for sale here this year and a buyers' market right now.
 Here are a couple we looked at.  All were much closer to daughters and a town but not in a town.  Hubby has an aversion to suburbia!

Hubby has a special love for the stone houses built by the settlers over a hundred years ago.  So a lot of our search was devoted to those properties.  Here is one, built in 1832 by the McLaurens from Scotland and is a designated heritage home.  We totally fell in love -briefly.
 The property was spectacular.  You can't see it here but this house is poised on the bank of a river, a pretty river you can fish in or canoe or picnic beside.  The three vegetable gardens were all laid out; there were two barns, a chicken coop, a solarium, a screened in porch and an in ground saltwater pool, all on 100 acres, all 10 minutes from the nearest town with an excellent rated hospital.
  I was drooling at that point...before entering the house.

 Image result for 2659 ramsay concession 7B almonte

The inside was a central hall design...a plus.  Lovely rooms with those 2 foot wide window sills.  But it needed updating.  In particular,the kitchen and bathroom were circa 1960 and would need a complete redo.  A younger couple's home, we decided in the end, with a heavy sigh.

Image result for 2001 derry side road beckwith

This home isn't stone but it fit so many of our requirements it remains a possible fall back house.
Beautifully built with built-ins galore and wainscoting all over.  This house has the prettiest kitchen/eating area I have ever seen.  The kitchen window is posed right in front of a very tall tree.
A beautiful gazebo, basement, walking trails, sitting on a small lawn in the middle of over thirty acres; yes, it really comes so close to being exactly what we want. It was a little more elegant than I would want but then we realized the owners also had two large dogs and had special non scratch flooring installed.  Hardwood floors that were made to look like engineered wood...yes, I guess they can do that these days.

2001 Derry Siderroad, MLS I 984247, ON, Ashton, Canada - 9842478.jpg

Hubby's other dream is to live on water.  We looked at this home several times and I still daydream about it.  Coming with its own portion of one of the local rivers it is very special.  Inside all wood fashioned by a master craftsman.  It was a treat just to look out the windows and take in the views.

Image result for 180 hoddinott lane

One of the days we were there, I spied two little animals playing on the riverbank at the end of the front lawn.  I snuck down and took a photo.


I was able to identify them, just barely, as beavers before they sounded the alarm and disappeared. So this house comes with its own beaver family!!
And I love beavers, though I'm not sure I'd want them in the  front yard.

So seen anything here you like? Have a favourite?
You'll have to check back later on to see what we may have found for us, if anything.  It is all fun.

Hope there is something fun in your weekend.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Maida Heatter and Fusible Applique

Recently I borrowed from the library this book Cookies by the very famous Maida Heatter.  This is a serious cookbook with 225  recipes of just about every cookie imaginable. You can find this book  here at Amazon.com, used, for a few dollars.


Only recently have I learned about Maida Heatter.  Where have I been hiding?!

This post from Mad About Maida introduces her quite nicely.  She is very highly respected in the baking world and is called the Queen of Desserts...if one is to have a title, what a sweet one to have (no pun intended).
One of her cakes is famous, the Haleakala Cake which features pineapple in the filling and a marshmallow icing.  I'm impressed! Anyway, the recipe is also found at the Mad About Maida blog spot which is written by Phillip Oliver.  I expected it to be complicated but it is really a very simple recipe.  This is Phillip's cake.  Doesn't it look good enough to eat!!



Here is a sneak preview of my next project based on  Kay Mackenzie's designs from her book Inspired By Tradition. (as  mentioned in a previous post).
I really like this book.  It provides great beginner practice designs that could help you build the skills necessary to tackle Baltimore or Morris inspired blocks.  At least, that's the idea I have for myself.
                           

                                     

Sunday was my start to what will be a short project.  I just can't tackle anything long after the last quilting project lasted nine months. I chose six simple designs featuring flowers familiar to me that I have grown at different times.




The method I've chosen is called by a couple of different names, raw edged applique or fusible applique.  Above I've just traced out the templates for this flower.
 Using a fusible paper is a completely new process to me.  So far I can see its appeal.  It is very fast compared to needleturn and wrapping the fabric around  freezer paper.

I was able to trace and cut out three flowers, iron the templates onto fabric, cut those out, fuse them to the backing cloths, all in no time at all it seemed.  Truthfully, it came together so fast I felt like I was cheating. But this method leaves raw edges and those have to be sewn over, typically with a blanket stitch by machine or hand.  I've been binding my raw edges with hand embroidery which is making this no longer such a fast paced project and me feeling a lot less guilty.

Here is a little Youtube video describing the process.


The beautiful sun we had for the three straight days of the long weekend enticed lots of flowering all over the property.  The fruit trees most notably benefited from the heat with the buds appearing as if by magic. By Day 2 they were opening, not wasting another second. This is the very old McIntosh tree and its stunning blossoms. The bees were around them in the hundreds and the smell that was lifting into the air was heavenly.  If only I could share that with you.



Monday, 23 May 2016

Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt...Last Look and Other Things


Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt, finished size 60 x 90, eight blocks across and 12 blocks down. 
I laid it on my bed and it was about three quarters of our king sized bed.  The photo I took in the bedroom was too dull to show so I had to search about for a better spot to display it.  Sorry for the distractions of my dining room in this picture.  This was a very enjoyable project and certainly one of my most memorable.  Being a member of the 5000 plus Facebook group was very interesting and I learned a lot from all the postings. I have a special love for the blocks I sewed by hand using EPP.  Piecing these blocks took me through the winter; I started it September, 2016 and finished my version May, 2016.  And I have a short stack of leftover blocks; perhaps I'll make a table runner with them.  
This now joins my little pile of flimsies for the real quilting at a later date.  




My fabric on hand was greatly depleted by this quilt and especially anything with prints reminiscent of the 30's.  I was going to keep track of how many spools of thread I used.  When I remembered this I was down five spools.  



I wrote a post about the Hawthorn grove we have on this property.  I mentioned how in the old days Hawthorn trees provided thorns long and slender enough they could be used as sewing needles.  With the leaves still just budding yesterday, the thorns were clearly outlined . They could definitely be used as needles. This is as close as I've come to them.  Ouch!


I finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins a couple of weeks back.  Someone reminded me to tell what I thought of it and I have to say it kept me reading to the end.  Amusing I guess is my final verdict; a good beach book.  It is being made into a movie starring Emily Blunt.  Here is the official trailer.


 I should mention the Farmer's Wife group is ongoing and new members are still welcomed.  It is meant to be a year long project so won't finish up till next September.  So still lots of time to make a bundle of blocks.

Violets For Victoria Day

"Out from its sunned and sheltered nooks
   The blue eye of the violet looks."


                          J.G. Whittier



The above photo is one of the many clumps of Dog Violets that dot the land.  Such a pretty wildflower and all abloom in time for the May 24th weekend.

 It is Victoria Day here in Canada.  So Happy Victoria Day to all those celebrating.  Making a holiday of the Queen's birthday is a part of our history.  It also coincides with the start of summer and all the wonderful activities that accompany it.

I was looking at Beth's photos of Cedar Waxwings, a bird I love. You can view them at her blog, Garden Grumbles and Cross Stitch Fumbles.  Barb, in the comment section of that post, mentioned Notforgotten Farm has a chart of Cedar Waxwings. Lor, the designer, explains in her design these are oranges and she envisioned them as clove studded.   Here it is at her  Etsy Shop and what a pretty design.

Just had to show you.

Cedar Waxwing - PAPER PATTERN for cross stitch - from Notforgotten Farm

Other things...here are the final two large pieces of the quilt I wound up with with my 100 plus blocks.  This is my least favourite part of the whole process...having to handle these large sizes of cloth and keep all the parts that must line up straight.  It is a bit of a challenge for me which is putting it mildly!
I took a lesson from  Jenny at Romany Quilting who uses lots of pinnings in her quilting process. So I used heaps of safety pins and it worked well for me.



Happily, most of my measuring is holding up and I'm not having to do massive unsewing, just a little tweaking here and there.  This took a big chunk of time on Saturday but it was worth it to have a bonafide flimsy at the end of the day.  Let me tell you, I breathed a big sigh of relief.
That also made me feel better about turning to my next project...an applique one.

It was a sunny weekend and our farmer friend was busy on the fields; no holiday for him.  Whenever we spied dust flying we knew he was working.



And where ever he went he was trailing a rag taggle flock of gulls. A sight that brings to my mind fishing boats at home that always towed a line of gulls behind them.




What they are foraging from the bare field, I'm not sure.  The plow must be turning up insects and worms, I imagine and gulls are opportunistic feeders.  Did you know they have a jaw that they can unhinge in a similar fashion to certain snakes, so they can swallow larger prey?


Friday, 20 May 2016

Warmth Where Are You and Me on Mother's Day

Spring for us is just the most welcome season.
 If only the warmth that the odd warm day promises could hold.  But the breezes are so cold the other days and the night times have been cooling enough to warrant frost warnings. However, the weather man has said this weekend will be a warm one with plus 20 C for the next three days.  Hallelujah!

There are wide swaths of lily of the valley all around the house perimeter, much noticed because they are an early bloomer. They are usually bloomed and gone by this time most springs, but this year are just budding.


There are hostas galore here, all sprouting at the same time it seems.




Here I am on Mother's Day.  I had just gotten ready to go and took a photo with my Farmer's Wife blocks.  That has been seriously neglected lately.  Appointments seem to have taken up my spare days lately, the ones I get to quilt I mean.




A little colour inside the house.  Here is a set of fabrics from Keepsake Quilting called Red is the New Neutral.  I have an idea for them but won't tell you.  You know I've already several projects lined up in the queue and to speak of yet another one is crazy.
  It seems my camera never captures just how pretty the patterns are or the depth of the colours.


Quilting is definitely on my agenda for this long weekend.  Also some sorting and spring organizing both of which are sorely needed.

Hope you will have some stitching moments in your weekend too!


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Owly Stuff and Updates



Laid out all my hexagons on the sofa to see how it looks.  I have about 66 crocheted so far and no more of the Biggans Design wool.  I think I need about 100 to make an afghan big enough to drape a sofa or chair or bed.  I will have to make an order for wool soon to keep this project going.  In the meantime, I'm going to start the single crochet stitch in white wool around each block.  


A photo of a Great Grey Owl by David G. Hemmings.  Isn't it something.




Just love owls.
 At night sometimes I get to hear owl sounds.  I've been fortunate to identify both the Barred Owl and the Great Horned Owl, usually because when they start, they seem to call for very long periods of time. Long enough for me to hold the sound in my little head to look it up.

  If I were a bird, I rather think I'd be an owl.  What bird do you think of yourself as?  Or am I the only crazy soul who's even contemplated such a thing. What?  Yes...LOL



                                         

 Outstanding Owls for Applique is designed by Darcy Ashton. It comes as a quilt making booklet with patterns and directions for making 20 owl designs for wall hangings or quilts or whatever. Darcy is well known for her bunny designs in particular as well as a menagerie of animal patterns for machine or hand applique.

                 

Here is a link to All About Applique and information about buying Darcy's beautiful booklet.

Before I leave you, a couple of before and after shots.
 This is the Coleus plant a year ago, May, 2015.


And today May 19, 2016.


This is a trailing coleus, made to spread wide.  The original was bought at Canadian Tire in a basket and Daughter had it outside on her front step.  At the end of summer, I took a piece to try to grow.  You can see my pinching on the outer stems has encouraged a lot of growth in the center.  If you didn't do that, this plant would become very leggy.  As always, this photo is not capturing the pinks and burgandys that make this such a pretty house plant despite it being mostly non-flowering.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Ten Completely Random Things About Myself

Ten completely random things about myself


1. I never use a comb to smooth my hair.  With curly hair, I have to use a pointy edge like a pick.

2. The only dream I  have these days is one where I am swimming in beautiful, blue, tropical like water.  I hate to wake from it.

3. I have never broken a bone. (Knock wood)

4.  I don't cry as easily as I used to.  Now it's usually about kids or animals.

5.  About one in ten, I have a day when I am sad about me.  The feeling goes away by mid-afternoon.

6. I've used baking soda paste all my life to whiten my teeth (and said teeth I am a little obsessed with; several dentists have accused me of over-zealous brushing.)

7.  I'm usually the first to smile or say hello to random strangers.

8.  I seldom use condiments.  Ketchup on hot dogs is the only thing I can think of.

9.    I've had my palm read three times.  (Maybe I'll write a post about that sometime.)

10.  My biggest pet peeve when shopping is when I'm behind someone in line who has left a big gap between them and the next person and I have to ask, are you in line?

 So any random things about you you'd care to share???

Monday, 16 May 2016

Snapping Sundays' Sights

May 15, 2016

                                                  Sunday's Sky



                                            Sunday's Wood Fire!!

Outside  4 degrees C when I got up at 7 am. We needed a fire...we keep thinking this will be the last one.  We let it die down by noon.


Sundays' Birds  

The birds were active at the feeders.  I have this pair visiting often lately.  I think they are White-Crowned Sparrows because I can't see any yellow on their heads, just the very striking referees' stripes.


Loads of American Goldfinches and one of the Red-Winged Blackbirds



Mr. Hairy Woodpecker.. his bill is long enough to distinguish him from a Downy .  He flew to the birch tree and began vigorously pecking and it was quite noisy.  He sometimes taps on the metal garage roof and then it is really noisy.  


A White-Breasted Nuthatch makes the rounds many times a day.


Sunday's Wildflower


Underfoot along the woods trail, the Trout Lilies are a blooming carpet.  I am always amazed each spring to see these flowers emerge from the dead leaves and in such abundant numbers.  How do they do that!












Friday, 13 May 2016

Strawberry Fields Forever: Found!

I told you in this post how I was looking for a special pattern, Strawberry Fields Forever, a discontinued pattern by Blackbird Designs.  It is increasingly difficult to find and when found on ebay for example, it cost a fortune.  I had the good luck on one of my usual checks of ebay to find it listed once again.  I looked it up with trepidation that it would be costing a fortune.  I've seen it for as high as $65 !!!

No it was listed for $9.95 but it still had two days to go before the end of the auction.  I figured at the end it would climb.  I followed along and found only one other bid happening on it.  I made a point of staying awake till 12 midnight to be sure I got what was the final bid...$15.50.  I was so happy.  And here it is in my hot little mitts.



For those of you still looking for this pattern the good folks at Beach Cottage Stitchers say they have it in stock again!


The design includes the conversion from Gentle Arts Sampler Threads and Weeks Dye Works to the trusty DMC which is handy for me.  It is meant to be worked on 32 count Confederate Gray by Weeks Dye Works.  Haven't a clue where to get that.  

This will be my first primitive style cross stitch project and certainly my first on 32 count linen.

Now you know me as a 'one at a time' cross stitch project person, so I really must finish my Floral Bouquet before this one gets prepared. Though I am sorely tempted, as one of my grandmothers would say!
 Speaking of Floral Bouquet...here is a little update.



Before I leave you for the weekend, I must tell you about this cookbook I found. How fitting that I am ogling desserts just after writing about muffin tops.  But honestly, this is for Hubby.  Thankfully my sweet tooth is almost nonexistent. Truly

 The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, published in 2013 and what a beautiful book.  Lovely photos by Paulette Tavormina and 100 recipes divided by the four seasons, as old time baking once was.  Lots of recipes I'd like to try.  This is my library copy but I will be looking for it online to purchase.





See more of Paulette's stunning work by clicking here.  A true feast for the eyes.




Hope there is something stunning in your weekend!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Are Muffin Tops Contagious?

Are Muffin Tops Contagious?

Warning: Me blathering on about food and my weird love handles!

I know I sound like I am concerned about my weight sometimes all the time. I wear the same size clothes I have worn for over three decades now.  But I know something has changed.  It seems like some weight has shifted downwards and I'm carrying it around my lower middle.  When I'm sitting, my elbows are touching a roll around my waist.  I know I never had that before.
 I realize I'm doing two things with food and eating that I never did before.

 1. Eating too fast.
I read where a famous actress once said, when food is starting to taste really good, that is when she pushes herself away from the table.  Now for me that is when I want to dig in.  I feel like I want to gobble it all up like I'm in a pie eating contest or something.  I don't understand why I gobble food.  I'm not sitting at a boarding house table where you have to fight for the food; I'm usually sitting with my own tray in front of the t.v. with the meal I've picked up for myself sitting on it.  I've not been stingy with myself I assure you so why the big rush.
I can't explain this but recently I started to burp more and made the connection to eating too fast.  I feel a little foolish for inflicting this on myself...no excuse.

2. Not controlling portion size
When I've cooked something good, I want to eat lots of it.  I just can't seem satisfied with the kind of portions I know I should be happy with.  The half cup of this or small square of that. What's wrong with me???

And I'm going to add a third thing.  Do you ever eat even though you aren't hungry?  It seems I take that notion a step further.  I eat even when I feel full.  That is awful to admit and I have no explanation why I would do that.  Baffled, totally baffled.

Greed, I guess it's just pure greed.

Truthfully, I'm a little disappointed in myself.  I have the notion that after a lifetime of practicing healthy eating I'd have this licked.  That it all would be second nature and not need any more constant attending.

Because it all can get a little tiresome.  The always eating with a mind to health, the sorting out of the research, the sussing out good food, the denial of eating that donut or that cake or anything..it all gets weary.   And now I know I have to be extra vigilant about portions and eating speed.

Body Maintenance

It just never ends.

But then I think I'm lucky to have this body; I'm lucky to have a healthy uncomplicated appetite.
 And I'm just plain lucky to have this worry about too much food. Half the world would love to have this problem  Then I feel a bit guilty.

So it goes.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Of Birds, Thankfulness, and British Sewing


Are you watching The Great British Sewing Bee ?

I'm enjoying whatever episodes I can find on Youtube.  Another one of those addictive shows.  I find I get drawn in as I get to know the contestants.
I'm bad enough sewing for myself in my dining/sewing room; I just can't imagine sewing under pressure on camera with judges and the world watching.  I'd probably stroke.





Last Thursday after Hubby's medical appointment, we went to a Thai restaurant for lunch.  I always want him to celebrate the happy results of these follow-up appointments. We are so thankful he is continuing to be well!

Here is a selection from our Thai dinner for two.  We added hot and sour soup and wound up with enough taken away for lunch the next day.  The yellow curry dish was especially delicious. I even love their green tea.



I include this photo of the red winged blackbird to not just show him.  This was taken last Thursday and it seems the front lawn turned this green in about 24 hours.  It is remarkable.



I have never snapped this lovely bird in flight so you can see the vibrant shoulder markings.  So here is a beautiful photo from Corey Hayes on Flicker. Lots of birds, mammals and insects to view on His page.

  I have increasing numbers of this particular bird visiting the feeders to pick a sunflower seed or two.






 A robin has seen fit to build her nest in son in law's barbeque on their back deck.  It's sitting on the propane tank inside.  She now has laid eggs and is sitting on them.  So far, unperturbed by the comings and goings of people on the deck; however the family are being quieter and won't use their barbeque till she is done.  Isn't nature grand!