Thursday, 24 December 2020

Christmas Eve, A Different and Thankful One

 One morning I got a glimpse of special beauty. It was a frosty, blue skied, sun shining brightly morning. The old dried summer grass rimming the frozen pond was sparkling with bits of ice, looking like a field of diamonds shimmering in the sun. A little breeze added to the shimmering effect.  I took a photo but a bad one that did not do the scene justice. But it made me think how nature provides such beauty when left to her own devices, no matter the season. 

I found this tiny evergreen growing among the cedars. He will have to fight for his right to stay there but we know how strong trees are especially if they have the opportunity to run their roots deep. 

And on that same walk through an unfamiliar trail I found out why I occasionally find large pine cones close to the house like the ones Robbie and I collected. A huge pine tree reaching to the sky in amongst those cedars was loaded with large pine cones. Hard to see but all the blacker blobs are pine cones.

I succumbed to the yarny goodness lure and began crocheting an afghan for a Christmas gift. It's for Robbie so I chose blues and a few browns for contrast. 

 
Here it is now and it's all ready to give away.  He likes to get cozy in the one I made for his mom, the Sweet Pea version, so I thought he should have his own.  All treble crochet with Stylecraft Dk yarn; I order it from the Wool Warehouse in the UK. They provide excellent and fast service.
I also sewed this. ???
 I had never heard of Among Us, the newly popular online game. I was told Robbie will like getting it. They are astronauts apparently and it needed a little back pack which I made like a pouch and attached separately.
No pattern available, of course, so I had to wing it by looking at a little plush toy on Amazon. It reminds me of Minions or Teletubbies.  Fingers crossed it will pass muster with the 7 year old.

Cookies from daughter. I look forward to one each night as an after dinner treat. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost...

The Santa Claus parade was cancelled so our neighbours went ahead with making a little float for their grandkids and driving them around the neighbourhood. We appeared at the end of our driveway to cheer them on. That's grandad there dressed as the Grinch coming toward us to hand out candy canes and that's grandma waving. 

What wonderful grandparents!
While at the end of our driveways, our next closest neighbours, who we've just waved to up till now, trotted over to meet us. They had their house built the same time as our wooden one was being built so knew lots about it. For instance, they told us why a second well was dug down by the pond. Apparently the brothers who built the house loved animals and enjoyed how the pond was used by them. When it dried up the first summer, they decided to dig a well down there to keep the pond flooded. Which I am using for the same purpose these late years and so pleased to know I'm carrying on what they would have liked.  Up till now we thought it was to flood the pond for wintertime skating. The former owners had a skating shack and electric lights rigged up for their teenage son and his friends who used it quite a bit. 

Ontario is back to a complete lockdown as of Boxing Day. Though low where I live, the numbers keep rising and I think there is renewed concern because of the mutated version appearing in England and Europe.  

  I have a lot of things that need doing, one of which is a delicious one-cook a turkey. I'm really looking forward to having Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. However, the weather is not very Christmasy looking with rain pouring down. A heavy rainfall warning is in effect.  

The three of us here will enjoy the day very much nonetheless. We are thankful to have avoided illness so far and know enough to count our blessings, naming them one by one.  We hope your Christmas will be equally peaceful and wonderful! 













Tuesday, 15 December 2020

WIP's List!, Basket Case Finish, Magpie Art and Squirrels

 Breakfast in front of the fire. 

And from another angle. Smile says me; I am says he. 
Our Christmas was certainly never busy. I used to feel the need to deep clean everything before the big day but I won't bother this year with just the three of us here. Of course, some deep diving into totes and storage drawers would be a good thing but I have to be in the mood for that. Perhaps I'll feel like it more when the Christmas things have to go away.  

Basket Case has moved along nicely just this week.  As I showed last time, I used the yellow fabric for the central block which you all seemed to like. The baskets themselves went together quickly. It is larger than I thought at 40 x 44 and I had to use the floor to sort it out. I'm happy with it at this stage now, a flimsy; though being me, I will always have doubts about my choice for the center block. The small basket was a free pattern from the talented and generous Michelle at  Michelle Ridgway Designs.

 As promised here is my Stitching Wip's List. Don't gasp!
Medallion Quilt is stalled right now. Still more of the bow ties ready for stitching but just not getting it done.

Fans...almost there...getting closer. At least to the flimsy stage.
Solidarity blocks. I had made a decision way back to work on and finish these mostly red blocks in February. 
The last of three Christmas/Winter table runners is together in its layers ready for quilting. A project for this weekend. 

Quiltmania X-mas( I'm not fond of when Christmas is written that way). The last 7 blocks have been prepared and are ready for stitching and embellishments. 

Halloween Sampler. I've kept it in the t.v. room for those odd moments when I feel like hand quilting. I've got 6 blocks quilted with this very off hand method. 

A Year at Hawk Run Hollow cross stitch. I have it in the t.v. room too but sadly, this time of the year, the light is terrible- no sun for days at a time, so even with my special lights, I found it was giving me eye strain. I'm a little worried about this and hope it is not going to be a thing and prevent counted cross stitch. 

Tiny Triangles is my scrappy project for the RSC which I had totally forgotten about till seeing some of your projects getting finished. Lots of neutrals here but are they the shade of neutrals for this month? It is resting in its box waiting for attention but keeping very quiet for now. 

I'm not counting Book Club or Easy Hexagon Stars that need to be quilted or Other Baskets that just needs binding to be finished. Daughter has promised to help me when this is over.  I just can't handle quilting the bigger projects by myself. (That's why I did QAUG on my Dreamy Hearts quilt.)

Ongoing Quilt Bible blocks. I do sew one on the machine now and then.  I have 11 done.

Actually I'm not daunted by this list.  I seem to thrive on variety and usually enjoy all my projects right to the end no matter how long that takes.  And since I favour big projects, that can take awhile. I will get to them all-eventually.

This painting is From Swedish artisit Lennart Helje's Pinterest Board.  Just love the stark but also gentle rendering of the snow and tree and of course, the magpie, which Lennart favoured.  I have never seen a magpie here but had the fun of watching them in Alberta on one of my visits there. They were larger than I had thought, beautiful with their flashes of white and black and quite plentiful.

Below is a photo of the back window over the stairs to show what the weather looked like early Sunday morning. Lennart would have been able to paint this no doubt though it looks a little like a painting already especially a thread painting. And that reminded me of Mary Anne at, coincidentally, Magpies Mumblings, and her wonderful life like fabric landscapes too. Fabric artist, Mary Anne, also shares great links to a variety of items that are always interesting to me. 

Squirrel antics at the feeders. And by the way, I've sworn off any squirrel antics in the sewing room too. This is a large Eastern Grey squirrel that makes its way here every now and then from the far back property. He won't be able to open this one as it's got a little hasp on the side and the feeder tray also closes when triggered by weight. But the shaking will reward him with a few seeds on the ground. Splendid tail with pretty white trim. 

He went up and down a number of times. I wondered if he expended more energy with that effort than the sunflower seeds were providing. 
I'm kind of taken with squirrels as there were none in Newfoundland when I grew up and lived there. 
Meanwhile, all calm and peaceful here at the wooden house and in our corner of Ontario too though a little shivery with a newly arrived cold snap. Hope it is all calm and peaceful wherever you live too.
 






Friday, 11 December 2020

Links, Christmasy Fingernails, Nature Scene and A Favourite Bird

We've had a good week here at the wooden house or as SIL says "in the pines". Got in enough exercise to feel vindicated in treating ourselves to dessert and got our Christmas gift list in order to name a couple of things. The cut off for delivery to Canada was midweek so that stopped the dithering and we got our decisions made and everything ordered. Not that there is that much because our family circle is tiny. 

So here is a little round up of the minute joys and tiny things that I am happy/thankful/grateful for. 

About once a month I get to wishing I had better nails and make a goal to look after my cuticles. This time I decided to paint them a Christmas colour.  Essie A List, yes just like me. LOL But it does look very Christmasy.  I think I'm more aware of them just now because of the wood and all the hand washing. 
  I'm so happy that this little table topper is finished.  A very enjoyable and short stitching experience and that left side is much straighter than it shows. I wonder does the camera lie as I took a second photo and it looked pretty much the same. 
I quilted a soft diamond shape in the borders which was all it needed after all the heavy quilting in the middle. 
I also have the central basket for Basket Case finished. I fiddled with this a lot longer than I needed to. My first time trying broderie perse which was fun.  I tried to hit all the colours of the little baskets.
This week I enjoyed putting out what we named a nature woodland collection. During several walks around the property last year, younger grandson, Robbie, and I collected these specimens (as we called them) and put them together in this large dish. I need some fresh evergreens for it.  Turkey, Crow and Barred Owl feathers here.

Finding the tiny nest down the cedar trail was the most fun. He'd also included more leaves that have since disintegrated. At the time he couldn't decide if the tree ornaments should be on a window ledge or in this so I've left them here. 

 I liked these links.  Google reveals the 20 most searched food recipes for 2020.  I chased down several of the recipes.  I was interested in the Ikea meatballs and this one, Dole Whip, which I've talked about before. I found a recipe where you use coconut milk and mango or banana instead of ice cream. 
And this link found at Good To Know Latest...How to make Christmas patchwork ornaments, free tutorial included. It's all about the fabric for these. They are easy to stitch and can be embellished in any number of ways.

I'll leave you today with a photo of the wonderful Northern Flicker taken last summer. One seemed a little braver and actually checked out the bird feeders.  I'm fond of these birds for their pretty doe pink feathers with striking black dots and the way their red patch forms a heart. 
I'm still counting my WIP's...no not really. 😊 I'll share that list next time as this post was long enough. 
Have a wonderful weekend.  

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Advent Calendars, Snowmen Runner, Christmas Lights and Yarn Temptations

 It is the dark days before Christmas, as it used to be called and I do wish the sun would shine more. Hubby has mild SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and now has his special light turned on whenever he is at the computer. But we are barrelling towards the shortest day of the year and then the lengthening of each day will begin again. I keep reminding him.

We are being warned to stay home, not go out except for necessities and then use grocery pick ups- just like back in March.  But we have been good about staying in to ourselves all along anyway...the odd trip to Walmart being the exception. The Brits are getting vaccinated so it will be interesting to see how that goes. I am very hopeful and in amazement at what these researchers have accomplished.

Daughter gave us before Christmas gifts with the message that we had to open them right away. They are advent calendars. Mine is the Clinique one which was all I used for many decades of my life. Such a fun way to try out new products. 

Hubby's is Godiva chocolates and my, he's loving it especially the truffles. 
And Murphy's from Abby is special bone shaped biscuits and she loves them. So much so she got ahold of the box and completely 
mauled it trying to get them out. Deck the Howls With Cookies
I've been pretty good at doing my floor exercises. Every second day and first thing in the morning. Lots of leg work and planking. My core is sadly weak. I remember well all the sit ups and push ups I used to be able to do. Sigh  But my resolve is still strong to face 70 in the best shape that I can muster.

A number of you liked my Santas Here but mentioned they are now covering up my quilting. Well, truthfully I never thought of that till I'd placed them all there "just so"- what was that, some kind of brain glitch!  Then I figured I would change it up the next day.  That hasn't happened. But a few other touches of Christmas are here.  I do love the lights.

We had another sprinkle of snow overnight.
We did get back at the wood stacking with three loads each of the last two days being moved. Here we are about half way through this load. More stacking to do. We've moved about half of this pile now. 
I have another table runner to finish this week. I made the cute Turkey block for the center which I thought appropriate for this time of year and put the embroidered blocks on each end so they would not get covered. 
Look what's tempting me. A bag of "yarny goodness" as Lucy at Attic 24 calls it. 
But I must stay strong and keep working on  Basket Case, Fans and gifty table runners this week.  Next time I'll share my WIP's list, yikes!
Hope you all have a marvelous, productive week and do your best to stay safe.
Also  marvelous to link this post with Home Sewn By Us and Our World Tuesday.









Sunday, 6 December 2020

Hummingbird Cake, Big Stitch Quilting, Christmas Baking, WIP's ??

On Friday we were supposed to stack the last two loads of wood. It was damp and rained lightly the whole day and if it let up at all, we missed it. I made the executive decision that I didn't want to chance us getting wet and chilled so no wood got stacked. 

Instead we spent the day indoors working at our various chores/projects and putting up with a grumpy Labrador who just doesn't get it that we're old. Finally I couldn't take the harrumphing anymore and donned the heavy raincoat and took her out for a walk. Actually in the forest it wasn't too bad and I certainly felt better for the fresh air.  Her nibs was happy and Hubby got his paper. Peace restored at the wooden house!

I was utterly lazy when it came to supper. I reheated leftover mashed potatoes and carrots and opened a can of beans to go with it. Toast rounded out that fancy gourmet meal.

 Oh but we had another beauty of a cake from Daughter to enjoy. She tried her hand at a traditional southern U.S. cake, the Hummingbird Cake.

 It had banana, pineapple and pecans and cream cheese frosting. Delicious! Who cares what's for supper when this is for dessert.  Hubby was delighted to find out she has allotted us our very own cake carrier!
But I accomplished a few things that day. I did get the angels out, straightened their wings and fluffed their skirts for their 2020 showing. 
And our thrift store Christmas mugs.
And began big stitch hand quilting on the little table topper. Hope to finish this one this week. 
And catching up with Kate at her YouTube channel, The Last Lonely House By the Sea. Here she is talking hexagons and how she saves cardboard to make them. She is making a large quilt out of tiny hexagons. 
I love my blogging friends and am always in awe of their creativity and for many, productivity too. This time of year I also love when they /you share Christmas cooking and baking. For instance, last week

 Karrin at This post on her blog Karrin's Crazy World posted photos of her Christmas decorations including the most beautiful nutcrackers on a shelf ever and also her Fudge recipe she's been making for years. 

And speaking of fudge, Angela at Thoughtful Ramblings shared her fudge recipe that she has also been making for years as gifts. I remember a post with a photo showing just how much she made. Wow.

Cindy at this post on her blog, Stitchin' At Home shared her recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cookies. Since I love cinnamon rolls, that naturally caught my eye. 

And in case you missed it. Here is the link to the King Arthur Baking 5 Star Holiday Classics recipes. A wonderful collection to check out. 

I've been saying how much I love this season for all the home cooking and baking that goes on. Inspiration all over the place. I'm so happy I have a good appetite. 

I'm headed to the sewing room with my journal and fountain pen. It's time I wrote down my projects/WIPs- take stock as it were. Will I shock myself with how many I've started, I wonder. 😟

Happy to link with Kathy's QuiltsLove Laugh Quilt and Small Quilts and Doll Quilts.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Christmas Sheep and Santas, A Bird and a Book, Italian Panettone

 The days of rain ended with a light dusting of snow. Everything looking so white and clean.  The feeders were very busy even during the rain. I took this shot of  a nuthatch coming in for a landing. They, like the chickadees, seem to work so hard for their seeds.

And a better portrait.
Inside now some Christmas things appearing little by little. I remembered my scrappy wonky tree table runner and got it out. 
It's going to hold the Santas this year as it fits perfectly on the sofa table.
And here is our merry Santa gang.
Florence at Buzz and Flutter mentioned she is enjoying this audiobook, Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner, so I downloaded it from the library too. Very interesting.  The Crown has triggered quite an interest in all things royal it seems.
My Merry Christmas copy of Quiltmania arrived in the mail box.  I've always loved real mail.
Why must they have such cute projects! Christmas sheep. So hard to resist.
I couldn't resist this at the grocery store. There is something about the combination of bread with fruits and nuts that I love. This is an Italian panettone. Is this something you would enjoy? There's the butter to spread on it too.
Hope your Thursday is wonderful and your weekend even better!

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Moody, Memories, Christmas To Do, Table Runner Finish, December OMG

I've been reading about how long it might take for a vaccine to get around to us. Present thought is September 2021. Well now. Surely that's got to be the direst of predictions. Of course, who knows what the reality will be but it's given me pause to think there might be many more months of this ahead for us especially as our numbers keep rising.
 As you know, I have more than enough to keep me busy in the house and around the property but I do think I'm suffering some by not spending the time with the grandsons, daughters and my few friends that I'm used to.  I guess as Doris Day sang, whatever will be, will be. 

Meanwhile, we have been checking our temperatures, something I've very rarely done before all this. Mine is always lower than 37 degrees which I thought had to do with my cold toes and fingers till I read it's normal for the aged (is that really me!!) to run below the norm. 

A year ago, Daughter and I had our little weekend holiday in downtown Ottawa including an afternoon at the National Art Gallery. Here I am beside a print that was made during the time I lived and taught in the artist's community, Pangnirtung, Nunavut on Baffin Island. What an adventure that was!

Happy memories of both and certainly no idea of what was just around the corner which is a metaphor for life really. 

 Goldfinches at the feeder amidst the snow flakes. Snowflakes are tricky to photograph never mind the birds.

 I've moved along one of my table runner projects and it is finished.  The Scandi Snowflake Runner.
  I used a little heat and bond to adhere the snowflakes.
I found the exact shade of red- DMC 816, garnet, in the thread stash that I inherited from Mom. And embroidered a blanket stitch around the snow flakes.

I did not get to finish my Fans for the November OMG, so I'm moving that ahead to be this December's OMG at the Elm Street Quilts Linky Party . It is fun to find a little bit of pretty fabric in the scrap box that looks oriental in design.
I do have a few other projects to make up the five I want to finish for Christmas.  Included is the one below that is going to be a tabletopper. I have the quilting left to do so I hope to get it done this week. I keep thinking someday I will make a log cabin quilt. 
Do you ever do this?  Dig out orphan blocks from the scraps and see if they could fit together somehow. Here are leftovers from Scandinavian Christmas, Quilty 365- the circles, and a couple from I don't remember where. Every day I move one or two hoping a plan will leap out at me.
Pouring down rain for the last few days with no let up in sight has added to the moody feelings. Our snow is now quite patchy and no longer Christmasy.  But here is a photo of Murphy checking out that new fallen snow last week. Our girl looks a little portly in this photo. :)
Someone asked about the mice....I've stopped counting. Every day there was one if not two in the humane traps, one day two in one of them. However, since this recent warmer weather, the traps have been empty four days in a row. 

I'm slowly getting our Christmas things out.  I've decided against the big tree this year but then realized that meant the bird ornaments will not be out. So I may rethink that. Anyway, hope to have my Christmas hangings, etc. up this week for us to enjoy.  Our second load of wood has arrived so more stacking will have to get done when this rain stops. There is always lots "to do" around here.