Tuesday 28 February 2017

A Special Chocolate Valentines Cake

Hubby did get his chocolate cake for Valentines, just a few days later. We had a few treats around and I decided to postpone the cake, sort of pace ourselves with the goodies.  I decided to try something a little different for this year's cake.  We'd had chocolate cake made with quinoa a couple years ago at a friend's house and really liked it as unlikely as it sounds. So even though neither of us have gluten issues I decided to make one this time.

I found many recipes online and settled on this one at Making Thyme For Health because I had everything on hand it called for.  The quinoa must be cooked beforehand and I used regular butter and sugar.
 It was very chocolatey, very very moist and days later was still moist.  You really can't taste the quinoa and I think it is an excellent substitute for flour, no doubt.  The only difference was it didn't rise very much so did not have the nice lofty layers you might prefer for a cake. But that may have been something I didn't do as well as I should have.  Anyway, Hubby loves it but then you just have to call something 'cake' and I think he'd like it. 

When I was out of the kitchen, it had to go in the microwave for safe keeping.  Why, you ask.

Because I didn't want this to happen.  This happened back a few years ago when I didn't know the kind of reach a German Shepherd dog could have.  I'd made Hubby another Chocolate Cake for his summertime birthday that time and sat it on the dining room table for the afternoon for all to admire. It wasn't there long when Rex decided he wanted a piece. Cake Loving Dogs was the post I wrote about that experience.

I just reread it and it is interesting to me to see what I was up to way back then (the beauty of a blog as a record).  Apparently besides making yet another chocolate cake, I was knitting a scarf, watching The Good Wife and enjoying all the birds at the feeders.

Monday 27 February 2017

And Then We Got Into the Chicago Popcorn

I've been pretty good about diet lately and my exercise.
  Trying to rid myself of that sluggish feeling one gets mid winter when the comfort food wish takes over so have been eating salads alternating with heartier fare.  Saturday night watching t.v. and Hubby remembered we had bought a bag of popcorn at Costco as a treat.  Now it is not like him to seek snack food at night...he enjoys his parade of tea and bikkies during the day but calls a halt once supper is cleared.

                                             Image result for chicago popcorn

So we started in on the bag and it is Chicago mix popcorn which if you are familiar is a combination of cheddar cheese balls and caramel balls...the salt and sweet combination that taste buds adore, or at least mine do.  It was so good we both munched through a couple of programs before one of us had the strength to say take it away.  I daren't look at the calorie count. I wonder how many days of supposedly good eating did I undo.
 But the wicked bag is still down there in the cold room on the top shelf calling my name.

A smile from Felicity and Christine at Quilters Diary.  A little too close to home for me!


Just look; hunting for knitting needles in one of my totes I found a little bag containing these guys...14 more of my Quilty 365 circle blocks I'd made and poked away.  Too late to make it into the quilt.  Drats.
But that is so me.  Nothing is ever really lost, mislaid yes, but lost, no.  But sadly for me I didn't even know I was short on circles.

About my feeling the blues post...
Thanks everybody for your comments, emails and suggestions re mood control and combating the winter blues.
 It seems a lot of us have dealt with mood fluctuations and have come up with our own and varied solutions.  As a result of this latest little bout...I am feeling quite neutral at the moment, I have been down many rabbit holes via the internet.
 One I will share is learning more about the pineal gland and its function in the body.  I knew nothing much about this tiny gland before but have come to understand its importance in helping regulate mood and sleep patterns.  I've told you before that I am not a good sleeper so this intrigued me to do further exploration.
Briefly, I discovered that exposure to light is extremely important to good pineal gland functioning.  And artificial light doesn't count.  So my walks each day in the fresh air and light are vital in more ways than one.  I'll try to keep this in mind (unlike my circles!).

Being proactive in this way is a good thing.  It's keeping me thinking at least.

Friday 24 February 2017

My Week This Week


I puttered around the house, cleaned two garbage containers, mopped the floors, did some laundry and put away two Christmas cloths that were still somehow hanging around. Surely Valentines must be the final cut off date to have Christmas stuff still about. :)
I did settle myself down around midday to do a little cross stitch.

The view from my Pet Chair.  I love working on this piece, the Cornwall Cottage Sampler, and it is moving along quickly.  You can just see my lap top screen there and I am listening to another audio book, Mary Queen of Scots by Jacob Abbot.

  Later in the day we had a nice drive to a nearby town and shared Chinese food with friends and that helped perk me up.


I got to spend the day with littler grandson and the evening with older grandson.
 I played Superheroes, Hide and Seek, read some books, and played more Super Heroes with Littler grandson who is on a real Super Hero kick.  With older grandson (who I get to sit twice a month when his mom works an evening shift) we went to Walmart and he checked out the electronics while I eyed the Keurig coffee makers. We went to McDonalds (where I indulged in a Skor McFlurry!), then to the library so I could return books and look at the new book collection while he sat and read some anime titles(or whatever that section is called). At a calm 12, he is like spending time with another adult now, more or less.
I got home at 11:30 pm, a very happy grandma.  It is my privilege and pleasure to spend time with the two of them.


We had to go to another funeral.  This time Hubby's 99 year old auntie (by marriage).  It was as one would expect saying good bye to someone so aged though Hubby has very fond memories of Christmases and get togethers spent at her house after they all emigrated to Canada. He also got to catch up with the cousins who had come from Bermuda for the funeral.  The two brothers emigrated to Canada and their sister went to Bermuda.

 When we got home, we walked the dogs. The three of them are thinking, take the picture already!

And then I got to work on one of my appliqued Tuesday Flowers block. It is so relaxing I must say.

I cut around the shapes on the back and removed the freezer papers and extra fabric.  Do you do that? 


A totally " in the house" day except for the two walks with the dogs.  I worked out on the elliptical trainer first thing in the morning.  I try to get in at least 3 sessions a week but I don't push myself too much during them. I have upped the time from 20 minutes to 30 though; I figure if I'm going to do it I may as well make it count. I'm not fond of exercising but I do it because my body feels better for having done it.  But if I didn't have music to listen to, I don't think I could get through it.

A photo of my Purl Soho wool.  It had to be wound into balls which I didn't realize when I ordered it. Duh  That's my feet and Miss Murphy's paw and tail there.  Rex is outside the door blocking the hall. They definitely live up to the title of companion to me. And I don't think anyone is ever going to be able to sneak up on me. lol
I spent my stitching time yesterday with the little embroidery kit...Nancy's bird.

Friday - today

I am a homebody so this was a week with a  lot of "out" for me.  It is usually nothing like this.
For the next two days I'll make up for it...I'll be here, doing a little cooking, going to make chicken tortilla soup, very little cleaning, and a whole lot of stitching.
Hope your weekend is shaping up like that too!

Thursday 23 February 2017

Things I Like....Thursday

I like this quote.

I like it because it shows the difference between dating and having a relationship.  Opposites may attract but it is more often the sharing of values, goals, how we view our roles and the slogging through all the minutae of our days that makes a relationship strong and calm. Yes, calm and strong...that's a pretty good goal for any couple, imo.

Image result for antoine de saint-exupéry love does not consist

I like Victorian or British Sponge Cakes.

 I like desserts that are versatile and you can use whatever you have on hand,  A Sponge cake is pretty basic and adapts well to many toppings...frosting, custard, ice cream, fruit or any combination of these.

You can read my post and the recipe I use HERE.  It's a recipe that has never failed for me.

I like cozy...cozy anything but especially flannel nightgowns and pyjamas and lounging pants, bedsheets too. Add to that fleece.  Maybe it's because we have real winters here in Ontario with snowfalls and freezing temperatures for a lot of December, January and February that cozy is important.  Cozy inside the house, cozy in our clothes.  Warmth and Comfortable too.  My clothes have to be comfortable, translate loose. lol
 This is something I've just begun...PURL SOHO 's very cozy "Ticking Stripe Scarf".  Lots of cozy yarns and patterns at their site.

                                              Ticking Stripe Wrap | Purl Soho

I like these mugs.  I love a pretty cup or mug and when I spied these at Walmart, I knew I would be buying a couple.  It's an economical way to have a little beauty for your eye to fall on.

I like the Pantone New Top Ten Colours for Spring 2017.
Interesting, aren't they?  Do you think they would make an interesting palette for a quilt?

Image result for pantone colors of the year 2017

How do they strike you?

I'm linking this post to Not Afraid of Color where you can read lots and lots of Thursday things to like!

Monday 20 February 2017

Was It Winter That Made Me Blue

This helped me on Sunday because I woke up feeling very down in the dumps.  All was right in my little world so why I was feeling like that, I just don't know.  I felt like I had a ton of bricks on my shoulders. I've been challenging myself to write a little deeper lately and it has not gone well but I really don't think that was the cause.  And I couldn't blame the weather...Sunday was so mild all the snow was melting and our walks were wonderful.
I proudly claim right there in my profile that my stitching is my therapy so after our walk and breakfast I got out the freezer paper and scissors and started to work. 
I've finally settled on a quilting project to take me into spring...now that's a hopeful thought.

 About the project I have chosen...

Quiltmania offered this as a Mystery BOM in 2016.  It features 20 blocks from the book 2001 Patchwork Blocks by Chuck Nohara which I have.  They settled on choosing patterns of flowers and gave this venture the title "Tuesday Flowers" because they released the new blocks on a Tuesday.  I really wanted to tackle EPP again but not 100 blocks so this 20 will be perfect for my mood right now. 

The great news about this is that you do not need Chuck's wonderful book to complete it.  The patterns and videos featuring instructional tutorials are on the Quiltmania site and are free.  
I don't have the snazzy fabrics the show piece was sewn in,( I do love that polka dot fabric) but I have nice florals that I  think will suit the flowery parts.

The very first block has 32 diamonds


 and I decided to leave that one till I got my applique stitch up to speed again.  So all day Sunday I beavered away and prepped four blocks; traced the parts on freezer paper, ironed onto fabric and got them kitted up into individual containers.  Which sounds far more organized than I feel.

 Here is my first block laid out just to look at.  Right away I see two centers the same so will have to change one.  Lots of circles in this set of blocks so maybe I can use it somewhere else.

I already love this appliqueing again and using EPP.  There is definitely something therapeutic in the process and in the hand stitching. I then spent an hour with the folks on my blog Reading List.  I enjoy reading about life all over the globe, Wales, Australia, Holland, etc. and so many parts of the US.  While I won't say I was ready to kick up my heels at the end of the day, I definitely felt good about such a productive day in the sewing room and reading has always been a comfort to me.

Oh I just hate when this happens though...a mood sabotages you right out of the blue.  Does it ever happen to you?  I also feel guilty  too when I know there is so much happening in this world to get people down and none of it applies to me. Sorry for whining!

Our local newspaper just had a big spread on the serious consequences of falling down especially for seniors.  With the icy conditions we've had in January and February, emergency rooms have logged hundreds of cases involving falls.  Damaging a hip, knee, or breaking bones can change life as we know it.

Hubby is worried about his stumbling about.  He says he is no longer stumbling about in the dark 😊but in broad daylight too and he doesn't need ice to instigate it.  He's so tall...was 6' 4", now 6' 2" or about so when he gets unbalanced it is a long way to the floor.  It scares him but he is so cautious he has not had a serious fall yet. Fingers crossed!

Ooh it's such a cheery post today; hope it won't get you down. LOL

Friday 17 February 2017

Variegated Anything and Embroidering Again

How do you feel about variegated yarns?
 My answer would be it depends on the yarn.  Because I know some are really beautiful.
 I crocheted this afghan several years back. I'd chosen the wool with pink, brown and cream because I love the combination but when it was finished I didn't care for the look of it at all.  Too spotty or something.
Recently I got it out to have a look thinking maybe with time my eyes would view it differently, but no.

However, I do remember feeling good that I learned how to crochet a circle in a square with this project.

I had this tucked away in one of the big plastic totes we had 'invested' in for the move.  I have three of them devoted to my sewing 'stuff'.  It made me think though just how many times must I take everything out and reorganize them to feel I can put my hand on whatever.  Even the lists I made and posted on the top didn't seem to last.

 Just like my fridge.  I always seem to be organizing it; yet come across things I'd forgotten about or have to do 'deep diving' (as I call it) to find something. Do you find that?

I think of embroidery as my first love.  One of my grandmothers wrote my name on a piece of cloth when I was around 10 or 11 and showed me how to embroider over it and I was hooked.  I can't think of a time in my life when I haven't had a project 'on the go'.

  I love Nancy Nicholson's birds; they are folk style with colour combinations that are unique to Nancy's work. Her flowers and trees to embroider are also interesting and you can see what I mean HERE.
 I've had this lovely little kit in my stash for a couple of years.

                                                   Image result for nancy nicholson bird embroidery

This week was its turn to get my full attention. Funny how sometimes things just naturally seem to have their time to be worked on.  It will be a quick project and no counting.

Loving getting reacquainted with French knots and fly stitch again.  The kit uses 10 different stitches,  all illustrated right on the fabric.  None new to me which is too bad as I enjoy trying to learn new ones.
This is Nancy's latest book and it offers 30 original designs to be made into folk art projects.


Did you know it is the 75th birthday of Little Golden Books which means they were around even in my childhood. lol  I had plenty of reading though working my way through The Bobbsey Twins first and then Trixie Belden and Cherry Ames.  And that brings to mind a fond childhood memory too of my grandmother who always had one of these books in her suitcase for me (along with gum and peppermint knobs) when she made her every two month's regular visit.  Grandmothers are so important!

I just had to show you this since it is still the month of love; it is part of the Little Golden Books "Everything I Need to Know About" series written for adults...isn't the look on her face something. Yes, her feet are firmly planted on the ground. LOL But it has been described as witty so I might need to read this.

Image result for little golden book about valentines

I'll have some quilting news on Monday.
Hope your feet are firmly planted on terra firma and your weekend is filled with good things start to finish.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Are You Putting This On Your Face?

I've talked about my poor face before...the vitiligo and rosacea so I am a little sensitive about my sensitive skin.  I have to protect it especially during sunny days which has not been a problem lately at all. Sadly.
I've used most of the drugstore varieties of face moisturizers in my time but recently I've been trying something completely different.

Anybody else out there using coconut oil on their face?

This occurred to me because I read a couple of blogs about using household items for a variety of remedies.  The idea of using the things you have in your cupboard appeals to me and I never forget the 'real' research on face creams says for what good the expensive creams can do, you may as well be spreading lard on your face.

  Lately with winter's drying power making my skin fair creak, I decided to try coconut oil.  I've been adding 3 tablespoons to Rex's nightly kong treat and it seems to be helping his coat tremendously.  If it can help that coat of his, which was in such a sorry state, I'm thinking it could help my old skin. Or at the least, not hurt it.
This is so comical to me...the dog and I sharing the same beauty regime.

We also have friends who swear by coconut oil and their skin is very smooth.  Last time we saw them they suggested we both try it, which I took to be a hint of sorts.  So I've been washing in the morning and rubbing a little amount, for a little goes a long way, everywhere on my face except my nose.  I'm using the organic brand so it doesn't smell quite as coconuty.  I notice it takes a while for it to be completely absorbed but it does disappear and it doesn't feel greasy at all.
  I'll let you know how this works for me...or doesn't.  I wonder.

And here might be a good reason I'm obsessing about dry skin right now.  During our heavy snowfall on the weekend and starting on our walk with the dogs, Hubby took this photo of me.

A big hello from snowy Canada to all my good friends in the blogging world.

 I'm so happy to have you as a part of my life.

Happy Valentine's!💕


Sunday 12 February 2017

Sewing Problem and Scottish Flapjacks

On the wall! Quilty 365

I'd started hand quilting this and then switched to the machine. I'm still learning free motion quilting and  tried to be a little creative with a few curlicues in my circles. Free motion quilting is one thing where you really know practice pays off.

I had an interesting time quilting this piece.  I ran into a big problem with my machine part way through.  My upper thread kept fuzzing up and then breaking.  I would re thread the machine and it would run okay for a while then the same problem again.
 I tried all the usual remedies.

Changed the tensions.
Changed my thread.
Changed my needle...even though it was a new one put in in January
Took out the bobbin and cleaned all around it.
Unscrewed the plate and manually readjusted the upper tension.

It would work fine for a little while and then stop.

 Do you know what I discovered was the problem?  A certain fabric was the culprit! I've had this particular yard or two kicking around in my scrap bin for ages. Probably came from a bundle at a thrift store.
It is a true white cloth that I had set aside because it was difficult to get a needle into it while embroidering I'd discovered.  The cloth is like a thin canvas, very smooth, irons beautifully but is tough, tough, tough.  I had used it as a backing on some of my circles before I realized it was hard to stitch into.  I never dreamed it would also cause a machine problems.

 Sure enough, as soon as I avoided trying to sew those circles, my machine worked beautifully.
Not all white materials are the same, obviously not.

I'm not totally sorry this happened. I learned a lot more about my machine and how to troubleshoot issues. And I feel proud any time I use a screwdriver successfully!

BTW, Hubby pointed out to me that the size I've made the two birds relative to the house, in real life they would be the size of Boeing 747's! lol

I made Scottish flapjacks this weekend.

 They are not at all what we think of as flapjacks here in North America...which would be a kind of pancake.  This is completely different.  I actually came across this recipe while researching oat recipes.  I love oats and we eat them for breakfast a couple times a week.  I wanted to make a square with oats, bran, flax seeds, nuts, whatever...you know a basic healthy kind of snack to go with a cup of tea.
What I made tasted great...marvelous in fact, but I swear if I'd added chocolate it could pass for a candy bar.  Next time I'm going to reel back the sweetness of them.
  There are many recipes for these (who knew??) and some are labelled  British Flapjacks and are basically the same thing.

 Here is what I mixed together...

Into a large saucepan I put
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar and
3 tablespoons golden syrup
When this melted and was well stirred I mixed into it
almost 2 and 3/4 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins

Mixing it reminded me of making Rice Krispie Squares. You feel like you have to stir this while it's warm to get it all to mix properly and before it hardens.
I spread it in a buttered 9 inch pan and baked for 25 minutes in a 350 oven.  It must cool completely before trying to get it out of the pan.
 Next time, I'm using a smaller pan so they will be thicker.

I'll say again these are delicious (had to rush to get a photo before they were all eaten) and I am going to try them another time but make them a little more healthy-ish.

Friday 10 February 2017

Hexagon Finale and Frosty Fields

My Crocheted Hexagon Afghan

So happy to have this project completed even though I loved working on it.  I crocheted an edging of double crochet all around the outside to finish it off.  Such cheery colours.  I've decided to keep it on our upstairs sofa for now just to enjoy it in its completed state...finally!

I've kept out our little snowman that appeared with the Christmas decorations. He's technically not Christmas and we are still in the snowy season that's for sure.

The fabric rocking horse is from Hubby's childhood. I try to find a good place to display him each Christmas. He is now packed away.

And speaking of Christmas, I recently checked this book out of the library.  301 Country Christmas Quilt Blocks by Cheri Saffiote.

                      Image result for 301 country christmas quilt blocks

I really liked it. The blocks, worked in fabrics or wool, are primitive in design, a style that is still very very popular. I think people like the way primitive blocks don't have to be precise or perfect which is freeing in and of itself.
   I looked on Amazon and it can be purchased, very good used for about $9.00 which seems like a good deal to me.

We have had a very strange set of weather circumstances.  Snow, freezing rain, and then deep freeze temperatures that have turned all outside surfaces into ice.  On main roads, enough salt was used to clear them but all the fields and gardens are shiny, slippery surfaces with about a quarter inch of ice covering them.  I tried to get a photo or two to show you.

I was hoping the light shining would show the very smooth icy texture of all the ground.  Tuesday on our walk, Hubby used his fancy new clamps on his boots and was heavy enough to break through and I trod carefully in the steps he made.  Yesterday I decided I didn't want to take a chance on slipping and falling so I didn't go out.  

I know these conditions are not just hazardous for people; deer and other animals struggle to cope during these days.  Very cold with -33 C (with the windchill) overnight temperature so no end in sight for it just yet.  

Hope your weekend won't be as frosty as mine. 
Any special plans?  Early Valentine dinner perhaps...  

Monday 6 February 2017

A Few Photos of Our Day

Miss Murphy waiting patiently for me to exit my Pet Chair and take her for a walk. Or she'd also be just as happy if I went to the kitchen and started cooking.  She loves helping by catching anything that drops to the floor. 

She tries to show me by looking longingly out the window and then back to me. If only she could speak.  But then, she is getting her point across without saying a word.

Don't worry she'll get her walk; in fact, she gets two a day, one around 8 am and another around 4 pm. no matter the weather.

It's been snowing and snowing. Just about every day, just about all day. Grey days mostly. I don't know if you remember that wonderful golden maple tree I showed you back in the fall. That's it on the right.

The front steps. Lately I've been waiting till later in the day to shovel. This is around 5 p.m.

 Rex, proving big dogs can look cute too.  He can just barely fit in the largest dog bed we can find.  Thankfully his coat has recovered and the shedding has slowed down.

Does this happen at your house? Sometimes you just want tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for supper. (That is whole wheat bread made in the bread machine. Loving it.)

Shopping and Buying

Do you spy these too?

You might be a quilter/knitter/crocheter when you spot the quilts and afghans used in t.v. episodes or movies.
Besides the shows you would expect to see lots of quilts in such as Little House on the Prairie, I've spotted many quilts and a few afghans in The Big Bang Theory, Ripper Street and even The Walking Dead. In the Season 6 rv scene with Maggie really ill, there is a wonderful clear shot of a quilt she is lying on done in the Spool pattern.  I feel a little curious about who these unknown stitchers might be.

                         Image result for monica's apartment showing quilt and afghan

On the set of Friends, in the famous " Monica apartment", they have a quilt prominently displayed on one sofa and a crocheted afghan on the other in several seasons. Btw,  I did not know it was such a trend to recreate that apartment till I saw all the links about it on Pinterest.

Image result for monica's apartment season 1

 It's neat to see quilts or crocheted afghans lurking in t.v. or movie scenes; I guess it amuses my little mind. lol

I showed you Susan Smith's "Stonefields" quilt in a post recently. I didn't mention that she was commissioned to make a quilt for a movie set in Ireland and that is the one she made.

So back to the shopping and buying part of this post.

Meanwhile in real life, I took advantage of some after Christmas sales which were fun to look at.
And a few parcels have winged their way to my door and certainly brightened early February blahs.

Things I've ordered lately.

Valdani Perle Cotton threads.  Twelve balls of thread for approximately $40 and there was a choice of 7 colour combinations, all gorgeous which made it so hard to choose.  This was offered by Massdrop which has a nice selection of quilting and crafting items offered at reduced prices.
Truthfully I've never worked with this thread but I know so many embroiderers who do so I am looking forward to trying them.

                        Valdani Pearl Cotton Collections

My next cross stitch project.  

This is "Cornwall Cottage Sampler" from Rosewood Manor and I was thrilled to receive it last week. It looks just as wonderful as the pictures in the catalog.
 It requires Weeks Dye Works threads and is stitched on 32 count cream Belgian linen which I'm no longer afraid of!

                              Cornwall Cottage - Cross Stitch Pattern

The designer, Karen Kluba, said it was a challenge for her to create a border made up of Half Quaker motifs.  Do you like Quaker motifs?  I've worked several kits that include them...always enjoyable.
I've made a tiny start and I love how rich this burgundy, slightly variegated colour called Cayenne, is.
 The kit came wonderfully set up with the threads all separated and a 14 page booklet with the pattern nicely enlarged.  I zeroxed page 2 where it begins so I can shade in the parts as I work them.
Though a slightly large piece at 294 x 294 stitches, this is rather easy because of the way each motif is separated and also there are only 6 thread colours! A new record low for me.

My world would not be complete without a little wool.  A package of mostly Highland wool from Purl Soho.  It will be the finest wool I've ever worked with if I do get it onto needles!

And on this very cold but bright February Monday morning, a vision of winter fun from many decades ago.  I don't know how often this actually happens.
 "Skating in Central Park" by Agnes Tait, 1934.  I love how you can tell it is New York City in the skyline.  I've only been there twice but loved it so much; it has a unique vibrancy all its own and of course, you could spend a week just at the Met.