Thursday, 30 June 2016

House Shopping Part 2

Wow, we can't believe the wonderful homes we have been looking at on our search.
  It seems like our own house has been rather neglected having no granite in the kitchen or double sinks in the bathrooms or hardwood everywhere your eye falls.

 After all the weeks of looking we have narrowed down our search to a log style home...Hubby always wanted a log house so now he has his chance.  The house we like is not made with the big logs, but it is completely wooden, all kinds of wood. I don't  know yet, but I imagine it will be a little like living in a mountain chalet (minus the mountain).  The back yard has tall fir trees right up to the deck and the owner said with snow on them in the winter it is rather chalet like. Though I think I put that thought in his head.

As our agents, or 'the girls' as Hubby affectionately called them, said, this house ticked all of our boxes.

  If you have purchased a house recently you know there are quite a few steps to follow before a house becomes yours.  So we are part way through that process.  Almost at a point of getting excited but not quite there yet.

Should I show you pictures because what about if it doesn't work out.
Aww, what the heck...

The main room,  see what I mean about the wood. And that's a wood burning insert in the fireplace which Hubby especially likes.  I like the story we were told about the mason who made the fireplace.  He took three weeks to match all the pinks, whites and grays; he's 94 now and living in a local senior's home. Masons always seem to take great pride in their work.



The front of the house...

And the back..lack of rain really ruining the grass there.

See what I mean about it looking rather chalet like.  It could be named Hosta Heaven because there are great bunches of hostas everywhere.
I'll share much more later on if  this becomes a reality. And hope this isn't too boring...

I wonder did our fondness for Bonanza (remember that?) and Longmire influence this choice. Hmmm...

So with  all the running around I am doing, precious little stitching getting done. Though I am working on my Floral Bouquet most evenings.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Not Having The Time To Smell The Flowers


House shopping, babysitting for that week, holidaying....all wonderful things, mind you but they have left me a bit short on time to wander the fields and just enjoy the bloom that has happened. Early Sunday morning I walked around and recorded a few flowers as a record for June.  













The extreme heat we have had lately is slowing things down, I notice. The birds are very quiet but I'm happy to see the bird bath is being well used. Especially the robins; they just love to take baths apparently.

I am trying not to think of what will happen if/when I leave this property. I feel a little badly that I have accustomed the birds to ready food but perhaps whoever comes next will continue the practice.
And all the flowers and special trees...hopefully whoever would want this property would have an interest in all that too.

After all, I came along.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Luckiest Girl Alive and Red Velvet Cake


But First...the book. 
 This is the book I decided to travel with last week. Jessica Knoll's wondrous hit, Luckiest Girl Alive.  It is well written in a slickish kind of style though with many a clever turn of phrase. I thought I might not like the style at all but I did and wound up enjoying it more than Gone Girl or Girl on The Train...books that are of a similar vein.  It seems you either love this book or seriously seriously hate it; I thought it a good escapist/beach/ fun/ weekend kind of read.

You will be hearing more about it though whether you liked it or not because Reese Witherspoon has bought the movie rights.  



Since Hubby had been without me for a week, I wanted to make up to him for the week long meals of tossed salads and sandwiches by baking him one of his favourites, a chocolate cake.


I was pressed for time and had found a mix in the cupboard that would do in a hurry.




A Duncan Hines mix and it did not disappoint ( shoving aside the thoughts of the chemicals and preservatives lurking in each mouthful!).




I made my own cream cheese frosting, a great 'go-with' for Red Velvet cake.

I don't know how popular Red Velvet cakes are these days. It seems to have been one of those foodie trends that have passed with time.  I  remember making Red Velvet cupcakes back when they were so popular.

I'd forgotten just how red the batter is. This is Eriven's photo from Flickr but mine looked exactly the same. 

 

Slightly alarming in colour, isn't it.  All due to  red dye lot # 40 or whatever number is the least toxic these days.

 Did you know one of the red dyes is used to brighten the colour of the peels of oranges?
  Best not to think of it.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

What's Perfect About This Picture

Writing Canadian Needle Nana has prodded me to do more with photography generally.
 I am almost at a point of saying I think I would like a better camera, not that my little SureShot isn't great, but....
 What stops me?  Being me, I think I have to be really good already to warrant spending the money on any upgrade, proving it won't be a waste.
 There is always that value for my money thing going on in my head.

But I've always loved photography in my own amateurish way and understood the power of a wonderful photo.  Like great art, I think photographs can express things in ways that even literature can't. ( That old 'a picture is worth a thousand words' nugget.)
Good photography is difficult. To me it is a little like writing a poem, each and every element must be just right for the whole to work.

I love this photo of Queen Elizabeth and I've been looking at it with an eye to what's great about it.

  


The very first thing that struck me is the fact there are five figures displayed in a nice eye-pleasing triangular way.  Odd numbers always work better than even in anything.  She had asked to be photographed with her dogs; she has had corgis since 1949 and later years the new cross breed, dorgis... a corgi and dachshund mix.  The soft light makes her and dogs predominant and of course, the dogs, by their presence add warmth to the photo.

  Were those splashes of pink in the scattered flowers used deliberately to contrast with the other dominant colour, blue, I wonder.
 And about those blues.
  All the shades are in this photo from baby blue to azure to navy.  The sea, the summer sky, baby boys.  Was she asked to wear blue because it is the most favoured colour in the world?

 Is the plaid blanket a nod to the tartans of her Scottish heritage?

We are meant to think she is outside sitting on a wooden bench surrounded by trees.  We know she loves walking her dogs in the countryside.   This conjures a pleasant image of the monarch in her element at her own private residence, Balmoral Castle in August.

She is wearing what we are told Her Majesty wears when relaxing...a collared blouse, a cardigan and skirt. Her dogs around her also imply relaxation.  The monarch off duty, sort of thing.  I think the combination of blues and her outfit look conservative yet sophisticated somehow.

Though this is a very posed photograph, I think it works well.  Her Majesty is looking as happy as she ever looks these days.  The dogs add a charming element and the background of a leafy bower provides depth and an impression of country life.   Well-to-do country life.

I imagine a team put together the elements of this photo under Annie's direction.  I think nothing was left to chance.  But on the other hand, perhaps it went nothing like that.  Perhaps Her Majesty chose her outfit and the setting.  And Annie, with her award winning skills and intuition, made it all work.

What do you think?





Tuesday, 21 June 2016

3 Years Ago Today

Three years ago today, I was a little shocked to discover this snapping turtle walking up our laneway.  I couldn't imagine what would have happened if Rex had found him first.  Fortunately, I haven't seen one of these guys since.



Three years ago, a robin made a nest on the top of a plank leaned against the wood shed wall.  She had four babies and all of them grew up and left home.  We took the plank down after because she was ever so lucky a barn cat from next door didn't find them and scale the plank, thanks to that chicken wire.


Three years ago today, I was still a blond!! I have no regrets about letting it go.


Three years ago today, my impatiens I planted along the front walk way had grown nicely.  They would not have fared so well this year with the unseasonably cold spring.


 Three years ago, I was working on a project by Lynette Anderson and loving embroidering the little vignettes that would become this quilt hanging.



I keep promising myself that I will work on another Lynette project again soon as I remember well the pleasure I took in working these.

Monday, 20 June 2016

To Niagara Falls and Back

Hello and Happy Monday!

A little deeper into June now and I am back with you from a holiday in one of the most visited places on earth, Niagara Falls.

As so often happens to me, there is a story to my getting away.
 Just after I published my last post, I heard on the news that Via Rail might be going on strike the very morning of our train ride. We would not find out that the contract had been settled and a strike averted till 11 pm the night before we left.  It was a bit of a nail biter and I had had to cancel two hotels just in case there was a strike.  This left me scrambling to rebook at the very last minute and being hit with the realization that hotel rooms become scarce not only in a very popular destination but also in downtown Toronto.  As a result, I had to take a room in a very expensive hotel in Toronto and a room further away from the attractions in Niagara Falls.
We finally got away without further incident and enjoyed a lovely three hour train ride to Toronto. We over-nighted and took another two hour train ride to Niagara Falls the next day.  We settled in there for the next four days.

Here are a couple of things about my holiday.

I took a ride on the Sky Wheel, a giant ferris wheel.  For those of you with a fear of heights like myself, you will know this was not easy.  But I did it.  I had told Grandson to close his eyes if he got too scared on the simulated 4D roller coaster ride earlier in the day, so I took my own advice.

 

We were enclosed in our own little cars which made it so much better and I felt fairly safe.

                                   Image result for skywheel niagara falls

I visited Louis Tussaud's Wax Museum.  I find there is a high 'creep' factor in these places.  Some of the figures look very real and it is easy to believe they will reach out and touch you.  Grandson got his share of the willies in the horror corridor, and I did too.

We spent a day at Marineland which brought us memories of taking the daughters there many years ago.  It was significant that we were back taking in the same sights and rides with a grandson.
 How life continues!

Of course the falls themselves are magnificent.  I'd forgotten how such beauty in water can be spellbinding.  And wet.  There is always a mist in the air anywhere near the falls.
On that point, we learned that less water is going over the falls all the time due to global warming.

When I figure out how to transfer photos from my phone to the computer, I will show you some other things I did on my holiday.

I arrived last night in extreme heat and another heat wave warning has been issued for today...+ 35 degrees C.  I won't be outside much, just catching up with housework inside and putting on the slow cooker.











Thursday, 9 June 2016

Around the Garden and Nana News

Around The Garden



Orange poppies are all over this property.  They must have spread naturally over time.  Such a colourful perennial.


This is a Brown Thrasher and I'm happy to see him getting comfortable in our front yard.  One day I caught him using the bird bath.  


The rhubarb is coming along nicely.


Large drifts of wild ox eye daisies are everywhere.



This Norway Maple has grown a lot in my time here.  The leaves stay this colour for the whole season.  It really stands out against the sea of greens.


Nana News



I've had the most wonderful week looking after littler grandson for his parents to take a well-deserved holiday.  We have been exploring the land each day with his little specimen box in which he has put several feathers, two dead June bugs, and a tiny turtle also dead which he declared 'sad'.  A lot of attention was paid to the creek at the back of their property.  He loved stomping in the mud.  We have also been practicing catch and release with multitudes of tadpoles, frogs, minnows and salamanders.  He is 2 years and 7 months old now and I am interested to see what he already knows and can name in his outdoor world.  

Monday I leave for a little holiday myself.  My older grandson, his grandfather and I will be going to Niagara Falls this year for our annual train trip.  This boy loves trains and so do I. I am really looking forward to it.  
With that in mind, I will miss talking to you next week but I will return the following week with lots to tell you.   


On our trip to Toronto May 2015


Thursday This and That


And in an instant it seems my big window view is all soft greens again.




And the hosta ring around the birch tree makes its magical reappearance.



June is really such a lovely month here in Canada.  Everything is green outside and the trees have leafed.  Nests galore all over with birds singing, the music of the natural world.  Don't take my word for it.  Listen to this male cardinal sing his heart out and tell me this is not music.


And inside finally my turn with this library book.

 I am deep into this book, A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.  Abby, the main character, echoes so many of my own thoughts; it is like we are the same person.  Funny about that...we always think we are unique, not in a pompous way, but in the way that no one else could be crazy enough to think these crazy thoughts. Then you read a book with all those thoughts written down and you know you are not unique at all.  Does that make any sense?


Anne Tyler is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of a book called Breathing Lessons.  I think I've mentioned before that it is one of the few books I've read more than once, I loved it so much.


And a great summer time dessert....

I wrote  This Post about my version of classic crepes and here is one way I served them- with fruit and whipped cream.

                


Crepes are really easy to make.
From the folks at Tasty comes this video of four different ways to serve crepes that I thought you might like to see.


Tasty is right!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Next Project (Of Course I Have One) and UFO Count



 So there I was with a perfectly lovely pattern in my stash and I thought why not.  Why not work out the fabrics and get the pieces all positioned before I have to start thinking of holidays and possible moves.  A big motivator in trying this particular  project was the chance to use fusible applique technique again which I found so easy and fun to do with the flowers.
Warning! It is a little addictive. And sure enough, I thoroughly enjoyed myself getting this piece to this point.  The most time it took was working out the various fabrics, the reds and greens pulled from what I had on hand.  My choices never seem to jump out at me and I don't have a whole lot so it can get a little tricky.  To achieve the lightest green leaves, for instance, I wound up reversing one of the prints and luckily, it gave me the exact shade I wanted.


This project is well suited to batik fabric and I would love to work it up again using them.  I have another pattern for irises and will definitely be looking for purple or blue batiks to complete that one.
I had to back baste the tan fabric in the vase so the dark brown would not show through which is a consideration when choosing fabrics for applique.
I have lots of ideas for finishing this including using embroidery to decorate the tulips themselves.

Never a shortage of ideas here!  Just the time to devote to them.   So grateful to be retired!!

So if anyone is counting, here are my current, as of June, 2016, UFO's

Quilty 365

To date I have 101 circles completed.  I would have had more done but I decided to add an embroidery stitch or two to each one which I am still doing.  That has slowed me down and I am not half way there yet.  But I'm not concerned.  Making these appliqued circles is so enjoyable.


Crocheted Hexagon Afghan

Though I love this project, it has stalled mostly because I have run out of wool and haven't gotten round to ordering new.  I did check at Michael's to see if there was a comparable yarn to fit with my Biggins Design.  Merino seems to have its own feel and nothing I looked at there matched well enough.  Meanwhile I have edged those I have made with one row of single crochet in white.  This is also not a labour intensive project so I have no fears it will be finished in due course.


Floral Bouquet Cross Stitch

Moving right along on this project.  I love it even though you measure cross stitch progress in inches rather than meters as with quilting.  I can see now this one will probably take me through the summer to finish up unless I start finding larger chunks of time to work on it.


My Fusible Applique Flowers and Now Tulip Vase

In just a couple of day's work and I have these two newish projects added to my TO FINISH list. 

Someone asked about My Acorn wool embroidery.  I have the cup finished but haven't had a chance to press and photograph it yet to show you so it is officially a finish.

Oh I did borrow the great Elly Sienkiewicz's DVD from the library as background information on applique.



 I love reading about people like Elly who have made a form of the needlearts their life's work.

Here is one of her web sites if you'd like to learn a little more about her influence on  Baltimore applique in particular.







Monday, 6 June 2016

See, Still Learning

As kids we always celebrated Education Week in school.  Often we made posters and I remember mine in Grade 5 or 6 was "Education begins in the cradle and ends in the grave."  Did you ever do that?  With that in mind...

An interesting article I read was 5 of the Most Googled Health Questions Answered

Well there was my weird love handles question answered! Still learning I guess.

 I'm sure at least one of the questions is something you have wondered about.

If I want to know how to do something these days, I automatically go to the computer.  I learn from the many people who post videos on the internet and there are so many of you who do.  What a resource it is for people like me.

For instance...
With the prospect of using 32 count linen in my next cross stitch project, I realized I'm going to need help with the counting...aging eyes and all that.  This video is quite helpful in providing information on the various ways you can grid your fabric to help with keeping the counting on track.
I have always run a thread to divide my fabric into quarters but hadn't thought of gridding out all the ten space blocks.
 See, still learning.



Have you ever wondered what's the difference between baking in a glass dish as opposed to metal or why baking chocolate turns greyish on the surface.  Or would a recipe for a sheet cake fit into two layer pans.
Even at my age and after many decades of fumbling around in the kitchen, I wonder about these rather mundane questions.  This site has quick answers to these and 15 other of the top questions.

18 Top Baking Questions Answered

Definitely Still learning.

At Sew a Quilt site you will find a huge list of questions, many from beginners, answered by Gloria Massard.  Answers to questions like how many blocks do you need for a full sized quilt or can you use muslin for a quilt backing.  Basic but very useful stuff to know.  While there, have a look around at all that Gloria is offering to share.

Some of the best how-to videos on the internet are also found at another site.
Howcast shows not only the what but the how..
Check it out yourself and see expert videos on a wealth of topics.  There are step by step instructions on everything from how to make a pie to how to pluck your eyebrows.




So me...still learning these truths and so much more.



Image result for learning things quotes

Friday, 3 June 2016

Appliqued Flowers, Baby Birds and Mama Turtles


Lots of bloom around the farmhouse up the road.

Here are a few of my little appliqued flower blocks made from Kays' book designs.

What a great practice project this has been for me. How I enjoyed not having triangles and exact  measurements to deal with.  Nice to have curves!

The little blanket stitch in progress on this one.  It really adds something to the look doesn't it.









Edging with a little embroidered blanket stitch is finishing them off nicely.  I have them all finished now, just have to put them together and make a little hanging of some sort.

Remember I showed you the robins' eggs in the barbeque at daughter's house.


Progress has been made as all four eggs have hatched.


And I'm happy to report that all four birds have fledged successfully from this nest.  First two left together; a couple of days later one left and another day passed before the last one went.

Speaking of eggs...
Every spring we have a couple of turtles laying eggs on the front lawn.  This year is no different.
These are Painted Turtles, the most common turtle in North America.  In the wild they can live to be over 50 years old.


The hole they dig is very superficial and sometimes no eggs  are laid.  But even when they do lay eggs, they disappear.

Have yet to see any babies ever which is kind of sad.  Perhaps skunks or raccoons get to them.

Back to birds...

Here is Baltimore, a Snowy Owl sporting his video cam on his back.




An Interesting Link  Scientists have always wanted to learn more about Snowy Owls; tracking them into the far north has always been a challenge. This little video retraces the journey of  a Snowy from Baltimore to Ontario.  It shows the places he visited and the folks who saw him.  It is quite charming.

Hope there is something charming in your weekend.


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Dressing This Body For Summer Heat

So just like that, the winter woolies and fleecies and down and all the other warm stuff are now boxed  and put away for another season. I had to root around to find the summer stuff.
 Looking through it, I can't believe some of the things I've hung on to.
 I have a little problem with spillage while I'm eating.  Honestly, I can't even eat an apple without getting it all over myself.  Same thing goes with coffee according to how many of the summer t-shirts have spots that I'm pretty sure are coffee stains.
 I must have kept them on hand for garden wear or something.
Anyway, it is a motley crew of clothes; my few so-called good items are just okay.  I'm faced with having to find some new things at a time when I've sprouted little bulges here and there waist wise.  Yikes.
It seems I'm a little out of practice clothes shopping; all my purchases for ages have been needlework related or fabric.  First I turned to the internet.  Love dresses and skirts but a lot I see online look like this...

Image result for casual dresses for summer 2014

which would be so great if my body was suddenly a dead ringer for Sofia Vergara's.

First of, I'm not comfortable with completely sleeveless, lower necklines,  pencil skirts, or shorter hemlines.  But I don't feel ready for Prairie Dresses or Adaptive Clothing or Senior Ladies clothes just yet. (Not that there is anything wrong with any of those clothes, mind you.)
Type 'Senior Lady clothes' into Google and you will know what I'm talking about.  But where to find slightly trendy, comfortable, and cool( as in less warm) clothes for the older woman.

Alyson Fanger dresses these two stars on Grace and Frankie.

Grace And Frankie by Manhattan Wardrobe Supply

Grace and Frankie by Manhattan Wardrobe Supply

That's her in the small frame there.  Classic or Bohemian. I think my tastes run somewhere in the middle of these two decidedly different types of fashion.  Though it is nice to see women over 70 on t.v. and both being clothed to suite their unique personalities.  I'd like to be able to pick and choose from both their wardrobes actually.  If only I could call up Alyson and say hey pick me out a few new summer things will you; now wouldn't that be nice.

Anyway, while tank tops are out and we've already had sweltering heat, maybe it is going to be the season of the caftan for me.  Something loose and airy but drapes well ...code for hides the rolls.  Though I really can't see myself wearing those into The Country Store in the little nearby town.
 I would get looks.

Thoughts, anyone??