Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Bit Lazy During Turkey Week

This is Turkey Week here at the wooden house.

  It started with cooking a humongous turkey for the Christmas Day dinner and even with feeding a crowd and giving away parts, we still had a lot of turkey.
 So it was leftovers the first night; pretty much a repeat of the dinner itself. Then it was hot turkey sandwiches, then a turkey curry, which I can never say without thinking about the first Bridget Jones movie and how her mum was having her annual Turkey Curry Buffet and that's where Bridget meets her Mr. Darcy. Here's the clip and watching it again reminded me why I enjoyed that movie so much.



While I have a pot of turkey soup (finally down to the carcass!) bubbling away in the kitchen, I'm trying to write something worthy to you. End of year thoughts are usually deep ones.  Beginning of brand new year are usually hopeful, happy ones.
2016 is very much with me though almost gone in reality.  A lot happened. And some of it enough to feel discouraged by a direction so much of the world seems to be taking.

And about that, trying to keep in mind a couple of thoughts.

One There are still good people in the world.
Two It is all behaviour and behaviour can be changed.


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Here's my wish for lots of mending, healing, peacefulness in the new year.  Baby steps are good too.

happy new year 2017

From our wooden house to yours, hope 2017 is filled with good health and good times for each and every one of you.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

All You Need is Love


Winter Solstice behind us.  Christmas holidays just ahead of us.



                   Image result for christina rossetti poems love came down at christmas



Though new to this place, we have already spent a number of days snowed in. Snow has surrounded us, piled up on the evergreens and now it looks like a winter wonderland from every window.  It is one of the snowiest Christmases I can remember.

I've been shopping and wrapping staying on track with List One and then updated List One. It has been a successful online shopping season with everything ordered wending its way to our door.
And speaking of doors, I've had to keep the presents behind a closet door.  Rex likes to try to tear them open; we think it has something to do with the new smells of whatever item it is.  Remember me saying how Rex must smell every bag that comes into the house.  Something to do with his guard dog training.


Merry Christmas all.
  Hope you get the chance to put your feet up and revel in memories of old Christmases or reflect on the wonders of this brand new one.







Monday, 19 December 2016

Snapshots of What I've Been Doing

I'm typing this on my laptop to the light of my wee little Christmas tree.  It plugs into a usb port and is so cute.  I've been spending a lot of time in the sewing room working out those last two projects so it is nice to have a tiny bit of Christmas there too.



So what else have I been doing?  

Been shoveling a lot...I think I mentioned it is my job to shovel and salt the front steps and veranda. Lately I've had to do the shoveling twice a day; on the up side-fresh air and exercise.



Looking at pretty things-older daughters' starry patio doors which give such a glow to the den I couldn't resist trying to capture it...


And younger daughter's cute snowmen...she has a set of these, small, medium and large.


Getting to wear my William Morris inspired scarf.  Believe it or not, I spied this as they were putting them on the shelves at the Gap last August (because yes, they put out winter stock at the height of summer!).  I love it and have had two compliments on it from perfect strangers.  


I've not had occasion to wear my scarf with my William Morris inspired shopping tote but who knows, maybe one of these days I will.  Right now my crochet hexagon project is being stylishly housed in it.




I made a Potato Au Gratin.  I'm the potato lover here but just say it has cheese and Hubby is happy. We both agreed this was tasty. 


I've been reading...


I realized I haven't told you about the books I've been reading.  These are three from November that I read.  I enjoyed all of them though they are very, very different.  Two of these, The Goldfinch and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are Pulitzer Prize winners.  So it is a little inexplicable that I enjoyed Mrs. Kimble just as much.  Completely different writing sytles with very different characters, but I found them all engaging and was able to stick with them to the end.

So keeping busy; keeping the wolves at bay. No that's a little dramatic.  Everything's fine really.

More Christmas chatter next time.

My Last Mistake and Not Mrs. Grinch

Our best teacher is our last mistake.

If I know one thing about me, it is that I learn from my mistakes.  So I took apart all my tree blocks.  Watched an episode of Without Motive and another of  The Last Detective (the British do murder dramas so well, don't they?) while doing that and it wasn't really so bad, more the idea of it.  You know what I mean.   I have set each 'tree' in a cream or white tone on tone fabric and tried out the trunk idea with it.  Now to line them up into a little forest.


Much better looking isn't it?  Don't be alarmed by the length of the trunks.  I always try to give myself lots of seam allowance.

My little Christmas squares top is now a sandwich and I'm going to attempt quilting it with the walking foot.  Wish me luck!







































I'm sitting here in front of the upstairs fire, drinking coffee and making my Costco list. ( Note the chapstick...told you I was addicted.)
 It's one of those stores where I feel I must be organized before going; it's so big with so many people but yet has products you can't buy elsewhere so...The last time we went they had full lamb carcasses for $99, a real deal considering the cost of lamb here. (Though I must confess we both found it a little jarring to see them hanging there in a cooler; obviously we are not accustomed to seeing how meat gets on our plates!)
 They are offering Portuguese flannel sheets on special and there's no denying it is cosy flannel time now.  I also like their selection of nuts in the shell, different kinds of pears, and foreign chocolates for the season. At this time of year, there will be lots of other goodies to check out too and as retired folk we can time ourselves to be in and out before the workers arrive.  Or at least that is the plan.

 Usually we see so many people out and about everywhere, it always prompts Hubby to say, shouldn't all these people be at work.

Concerning Christmas, Hubby is a bit of a Grinch and he doesn't mind admitting it.  He thinks in terms of buying that the world goes mad this time of year.  The sort of shopping and buying whatever strikes your fancy is aimless and foolish to him.  Research must be done first to find the best quality for the best price...always.
That being said, Hubby does like to have presents for people.  Something he thinks they would enjoy or could use, and something he is sure he got a good price on.  He does check in with me to recap what we have for everyone on our list, so I know he doesn't want to be caught out at the last minute.

I'm determined not to be Mrs. Grinch and I think my approach falls somewhere in between. For instance, I will buy a special treat for the dogs for Christmas.  Hubby thinks that's silly as much as he loves them.  They are so well treated all year is his point.  But I come from a home where even in old age, my mother wrapped a gift for each of the 'grand dogs' so you know I have to too.

 Do you buy Christmas treats for the pets?  I bet a lot of you do.





Friday, 16 December 2016

Fresh Christmas Freebies

No vision of sugar plums in my head, but I admit I like Peeps.  Marshmallow anything is my favourite in the sweets category.  Luckily it doesn't call my name often or I'd be in trouble.



If I knew you could get Candy Cane Peeps I'd forgotten and was surprised when Daughter gave these to me. They're delicious and I've been savouring them.  Well maybe not savouring, but meting them out here and there while in the kitchen standing at the sink looking out the window.
 Marshmallow heaven.

And around here, it is Christmas when Loblaw's feature their Candy Cane ice cream which Hubby loves.  The girl at the checkout told me they sell quite a lot of it but she herself was of the opinion that peppermint and chocolate should not mix.

What do you think of Christmas candy apples?  An aunt used to make candy apples to give to the kids for Halloween.  In her town, she would have a line up of kids at her door each year.  Of course, that was before all the worries about tampering with homemade goodies began.

Tami at Nutmeg Notebook shares her recipe and procedure for making these Christmas Caramel Apples.  Don't they look yummy?

                    

An annual Christmas treat I would make each year for all the kids was Popcorn Balls.  I've lost my original recipe but there are lots around on the net.  Popcorn is such a favourite with everyone and so economical.  You don't need a lot of expensive ingredients, mainly popcorn and corn syrup.

Taste of Home has the recipe that comes closest to the one I used to use; they call it Traditional Popcorn Balls.   For Christmas, I used to add a little red food colouring too and use wax paper to wrap them in. Nothing fancy.


                            Traditional Popcorn Balls Recipe

Enough about sweets.

Have you been looking at all the beautiful stitching for Christmas happening.
  I'm always in awe of what I see especially in light of my having trouble trying to work out a simple tree shape myself.

I found a couple of things I want to share with you.

 I've already downloaded this pattern because I think it is so cute.  The French site is called  Reve de Fil and the link is HERE. A lot of pretty cross stitching and other needlework is happening there.

                Coussinet un mouton sous la neige.  Free chart, very cute!:


The kind folks at Quilting Inspiration did a lot of searching to put together this updated collection of free patterns for table runners which are a very popular item to sew.




Some simple and others not so simple.  I'm going to look closely at those featuring trees.
Speaking of which, I hope to spend some time working on my trees and my little squares piece.
Christmas is fast approaching, but no pressure.

Hope there is no pressure and maybe something sweet in your weekend.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

5 Healthy Things I'm Trying To Do

Healthy things...

This has been on my mind lately, with the arm acting up a little and my feelings a bit low.  I just don't feel as energized in body or spirit the last week or so.  Just sort of blah.  And that is not like me at all.

Everywhere I've gone people are talking about colds and flus. Is it just around here?  Those of you in other countries...does this happen too in your cold season.  These germs just seem to be swirling around us waiting to pounce on low immunity systems.
 Just a matter of time I figure till the world experiences something like what Stephen King outlined in  The Last Stand where a respiratory catastrophe wiped out a portion of human beings.
Kidding! I don't really think it will come to that.

I've been rereading how to boost our immune systems.  Most I've read is really not new information, just reminders.  There aren't that many new things other than some debunking of the effectiveness of one thing or another.  If I knew this though I'd forgotten it-that our bone marrow is the source of immune cells.
This Article from the British Society for Immunology was an interesting read if you want a recap of bad and good things you can do to help your body fight infection.  I've never believed excessive anything including exercise would be good for you so they confirmed that for me.

Of course humour is a proven, always good for you, no matter the season.  We just love this show.  Have you seen it?  Kath and Kim, the Australian version for now, is fun, just good fun.  We watch one episode an evening and always have a laugh or two.  There is something so endearing about Kath with her eternal optimism and Sharon is so sweet but so unlucky.

                     Image result for kath and kim

I do wonder if I have been fighting off allergic symptoms...so afraid I'm developing more of an allergy to Rex's hair.  He is "blowing his coat" for the second year in a row and the hairs are just everywhere.  Some mornings there are enough that they "pool" around the furniture legs. The vacuums, up and down, have been going nonstop.  I don't allow him in our bedroom so I have one room somewhat hair free from the rest of the house.
 Poor old fellow, I can't escape him as he seems to want to be where ever I am. My hairball shadow.

Anyway, what have I been trying to do?  With a mind to a long winter facing us and the height of flu season still in front of us, I feel like I should be proactive.


Tooth Pulling

Organic coconut oil is a great one to use.  Swishing a bit around the teeth and gums and holding it for as long as I can while I make a pot of tea, or a sandwich, or whatever.  The longer the better.  It does make my mouth and gums feel smooth and silky.  There are no proven scientific benefits to doing this, none whatsoever, but it does feel nice.  I've been adding extra coconut oil to our cooking and even some in Rex's nightly kong treat.  Can't hurt, I figure.



Apple Cider Vinegar


I love vinegar so it is not a chore for me to drink more of this stuff.  I usually add a tablespoon to every glass of water I drink.  It is also tasty in tuna mixtures and a surprising number of dishes.  It is good to drink in hot water or tea with a little honey too. I've been trying to drink more water throughout the day; it's got to help with the flushing, doesn't it?


Upping our fruit intake

I keep dates and nuts on the kitchen counter and I'm lucky that our little island is higher so the dogs can't reach it.  This weekend I made another of those crisp type desserts.  I had a bag of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries combination and made us a huge fruit crisp.  I sprinkled a mixture of oats, flax seeds, walnuts, coconut and whatever else I could find over it mixed with a little real butter.
 We don't take Vitamin C tablets so we are going to have to get it in other ways.

Making a List

 I feel like my mind is just swirling with everything I need to do or want to try.  I need to start getting my thoughts in order is how I feel. List making was a comfort to me in the work world and I guess I need to get back to it. Hubby has been after me for ages to do this one thing... keep lists on my computer as opposed to on paper.
  It really is convenient and I should have done this ages ago.  Now I can get reminders about banking and library books and grocery items I need.  Plus track all Christmas buying and anything I see online I think is neat or useful.  I use my laptop a fair bit anyway and can easily check one of my lists.  Hopefully, it will ease my night time worrying about remembering things.  You'd hardly think that what I have to remember at this stage of life is all that important, but somehow it all still has a hold in my mind.  


Good Old Fresh Air

When I worked in the Far North, I was surprised the children went outside every day for recess, no matter the weather and being the Arctic, that meant cold a lot of the year.  The  nurses at the Nursing Station were adamant that the daily fresh air was vital to their good health.  Lately I've been staying inside a bit more; fewer babysitting duties and the cold weather I guess is why.
 But on Saturday I spent an hour and half outside working on the wood, splitting and loading for the house.
 And I learned to drive the Arctic Cat 4 wheeler in the process; not much of a challenge really but you do have to get used to a thumb control for speed.
 I felt so alive and wonderful when all was stowed away and I came inside.
 I felt a little rejuvenated and that night I slept like a log.

It's funny how even when we know what is good for us there is sagging of the spirit to keep doing it.  We let it slowly fade from daily practice.

Hubby, meanwhile, is healthier than he's ever been.  So we must be doing something right.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Christmas Quilting

I am keeping busy here at the wooden chalet.  We had a good dump of snow overnight and it is still gently falling making pretty pictures in each window.  I have been shoveling and clearing pathways for us and the dogs.  The fresh air is so good for me.

My wants, at this stage in life, far exceed my needs.  I am spoiled and I know that because I have lived in places where far, far less is available for everything.  And I have been very content living there.  I don't think many people understand the concept of 'making do' that much anymore and I guess why should they, living in the world the way it all is now.  The choices, the endless mind blowing choices with all the access. No need to want as such for anything.

So I don't feel guilty about mentioning a small machine I'd like to have.

A new bread machine...2nd year this appears on my Christmas list.  Hubby keeps thinking he will fix the old one and yes, it came with us to the new house.  My hope is fading because we have a number of things in need of fixing and Hubby is a busy man with a lot of chores.

Meanwhile On the Stitching Front

I decided I could cut out a little Christmas wall hanging.  That surely wouldn't hurt my hand.  I did some drawings of a simple tree...I had the idea it would be sort of a modern kind of thing.
 Decisions ensued. Trunk or no trunk for starters.

But first I had to draw it out and work out how big each block would be.  I did not want this to grow to be the size of the autumn hanging I made.  With borders, these things can really balloon.
I used an old greeting card to make a template and after snipping here and there, was satisfied with a pattern.



Sewed 20 of these 'trees' all the while hoping they would grow on me but I'm not loving it.  Looks too pointy or something.  I even had Hubby take a look.  He thought they looked fine but as he agreed what he knows about quilting wouldn't fill a tooth.




He thought if I sewed it together and they lined up neatly, I might like it more so I did just that but it is still isn't exciting me.

Perhaps a border would help the overall look was my next thought so more casting about for a pattern that would look okay with this modern tree look.
 I've always liked the square in a square pattern so gave that a go.  
Honestly, I like this more than the trees and liked the look of them all together. These squares are freezer paper templates and hand appliqued...very slow but enjoyable work.  I've been careful to take lots of breaks.



Sewed it together and it behaved so well for me, both the machine and the blocks and I now have another flimsy.


It is minimalist looking which is different for me but I am going to forge ahead with it.

Almost have all the slow stitching on the Shiny and Brite done, a little a day.  Can't wait to have that one finished completely!

My feelings are being corralled again; the unusual sensation of heaviness left me yesterday and I am basically fine.  I guess it is the ebb and flow of life. We are complex creatures after all, as much as I want to keep it and me all simplified.  

Friday, 9 December 2016

No Good Reason


Feeling a little overwhelmed today for no good reason.





It's when my best is not good enough that gets to me.


Hope you are definitely NOT overwhelmed, in reality or just in your mind, this weekend.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Now I Will Wear Hot Pink And Thrift Store Finds


At the stage in life, where I can put together an outfit out of just about anything I want and don't care so much what others would think.
Are you there yet?  It is a great place to be. This is a departure for me because I've been a very rule driven, obedient, compliant person all my life. (Having a Dad who was ex-military might have had something to do with that.)

I love when I can put together pretty much a complete outfit from consignment or thrift store bargains.
Take this get up for instance. The skirt is from a thrift store...Joe Fresh with the tags still attached.  I love the vest and I consider it one of my best finds of all time.  It is Land's End, 100% goose down with a fake fur collar.  It has several inside pockets including one zippered.  Though it reads dry clean only, in the five winters I've worn it, it's been through the washing machine many times with no adverse effects.  I think I paid about $5 for it.  Here I'm wearing leggings too because it is all about layers in a wood heated home.  And Rex is my constant accessory. Nothing like real fur, LOL.


My hair is growing, but still a little wonky.





    
The top, while not purple like the saying "I shall wear purple", is hot pink.
 It was one of my Black Friday online purchases.  The Bay filled my mailbox with offers including this one; two Lord and Taylor long sleeved t-shirts for $35.  I bought a black and this very pink one.  They are excellent quality which is a good thing for all the washings I know they will get.
  It was hard to block out the bright light to get a good photo as overnight our world turned completely white again. Hubby figures 25 cm fell though we'd  been told 2-4 cm by Environment Canada.


In stitching news, I've been crocheting a little each day.  Enjoying all the 'yarny goodness' as Lucy at Attic 24 calls it.   Would be nice if I can finish this by Christmas.



And being careful of my right hand.  I found this little video of hand exercises to do to help combat carpel tunnel syndrome. Am I the only one having hand/arm issues with stitching/knitting/crocheting.  I haven't read about it with anyone else.
I'll do these till the feeling leaves me but then probably slack off which I really shouldn't do.



I've stitched a little bit on Shiny and Brite, about half way around the wreath now. Can I finish this by Christmas, I wonder.
And I did start another little quilting project that uses just scissors and the sewing machine so shouldn't be hard on my hand. Hope to have enough of it sewn to show you later in the week.



Sunday, 4 December 2016

Still Didn't Get To The Mall

Even the radio announcer said it- can it really be December again already.
It does seem a little unreal.  It's both wonderful and eeek at the same time.  I still have some serious shopping to get done though I have been online a bit.

But it must be December because the Christmas lights are up on Parliament Hill.  So pretty but some tax payers do complain about their money being spent on thousands of Christmas lights.

Image result for christmas lights on parliament hill 2016


But back at our place, good weather on Saturday meant a good day for getting wood.  Hubby let me use the brand new log splitter and with two of us working at it, we had a load in no time.
 You know we play act a little at living a basic life...burning wood for heat in winter.




And composting as much as we can.  Recycling and reusing as much as is possible.

 

But it is really just a drop in the bucket to what some folks are doing.  I watched this wonderful video about a family in northern Canada who are living entirely off the grid.  The way they are managing this is amazing.  Lots of food for thought.  I wonder how they are handling Christmas in the woods with nary a store in sight or even mail delivery for that matter.



Also on Saturday I made a large pot of pea and bean soup with the leftover ham roast.  It had to simmer most of the day for the beans to soften but wound up being tasty enough. I made us a little apple crisp using up three Golden Delicious apples to go with it as a treat for eating such a healthy meal.


Late afternoon, we had this visitor in the front yard.  Very tame it seemed as the dogs in the back yard went savage barking at him and he just kept nibbling at a bush and took his own sweet time to finally saunter off.  Here he is just watching me as I stepped out on the veranda to snap the photo.


And here are said dogs.  What a life they have.  I tease them about earning their keep, helping us out in some way, but they just ignore me.  At least Rex can claim he is doing guard duty at times, but Murphy is nothing but a pretty face.


Happy Monday! Stitching and shopping news tomorrow.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Three Sewing Things I Love and Other Stuff

Fog...wow have we had fog.


 I thought I knew a bit about fog but living here has furthered my foggy education.  I just hate driving in the stuff which I've had to do lately.  The way a car emerges suddenly right in front of you is so unnerving. And I get nervous thinking about animals on the road; you'd have no chance to see a deer in such weather.  I'm slightly claustrophobic so I think fog stirs those feelings a bit in me..it sets.a little smothering sensation tingling in my mind.
Then two days of heavy on and off rain.  The world looks a sodden mess right now with little orphaned splashes of snow here and there.

 No sign of my little chipmunk so I think he has put himself to bed for the winter.  I hope the peanuts in the shell that I sprinkled around for him are safely stored with him.

Speaking of tingling things, my right arm has been sending me the signal that I'm overusing it.  Ever since I had the problem with my right knuckle I've been very careful to favour it and the arm, but loading and stacking firewood seems to have set it off again.  I've been limiting my hand stitching to just an hour a day this week and not lifting anything heavy with my right arm.  But really, I'd have to have it taped down or in a sling to not automatically use it.  You can read my Post about what the doctor said about my hand last time.  My gosh that was that long ago!

So light on the stitching show and tell today which gives me the chance to chat about these sewing things I love.

MY OTT LITE

Sorry if I'm boring you banging on about this light.  Okay this is the last time I'll mention it.
Ahh, there's a picture of it at the old place. ( I can't remember what that is I have on the sofa??)
Though it is a bit cumbersome, my special light has proven itself invaluable with the stitching projects lately.  I've not had one complaint about eyestrain since beginning to use this light.



My THREAD CUTTING GIZMO


This really works.  You can cut your strings so much quicker than using scissors.



My SEWING MACHINE

I took a very long time to buy an updated sewing machine (I'd had a very nice one in days gone by but lost it) and had been managing with an economical just straight stitching Brother.  After a bit of research I bought myself the Singer Quantum Stylist 9600 and I'm so happy with it. It's the smartest machine I've ever had...it can thread itself! I'm still discovering all the wonderful things it can do.






Not a thing but I'd be lost without YouTube Videos

YouTube Videos are a boon to me whether I'm crocheting, knitting or reviewing a new to me applique technique, I am sure to find it on YouTube.  I've also found it so helpful for cooking, blog applications, product reviews, music, watching t.v., etc. etc.; the list is endlesss.  Think of any topic or subject and there is a video about it.

Like this one...


Jan Patek showing how to applique a house block...who doesn't love houses.  It is such a common motif for needle workers whether in cross stitch, embroidery or fabric..  I love Jan's approach to appliqueing.  She is so easy going and down to earth; she insists that it's not rocket science so we should relax and enjoy the process.  And with  her unfussy designs you can do just that.
And YouTube brings her right into my sewing room with me.

New Sewing Things I'd Never Heard OF

I loved this article from  Sew What Alicia.  Often it seems sewing tools are rulers, so many rulers out there.  It's nice to know there are many different gadgets both practical and clever.  My cutting gizmo made it onto this list, I see.

                                        10+ Sewing Gadgets You Never Knew Existed | www.sewwhataliicia.com

What are your favourite little sewing things?  Anything I should look in to?  You know me, I need all the help I can get.

My wool has arrived so the weekend will see me catching up on crocheting- very carefully.

 Hope you have hands that aren't letting you down and something fun to be catching up on too.