Monday: Muffins, Moos and Musings

Actually, some of the muffins were made on Sunday, but I am still up (it’s nearly one am) and by the time this is posted you will be reading it on Monday except for those who are bolshie enough to live across the Great Divide from us and who will see it on Tuesday . . . and I rather liked the sound of all that alliteration . . .   🙂

So here, in no particular order, are my thoughts and creative efforts.

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Here I am in the Canadian Army Peacekeepers jacket that my cousin gave me a while ago. I’m still wearing it without the snap-in very warm liner jacket. It was Army Surplus  when he bought it about 20 years ago and is still in great condition.  The other picture is of my new 50% wool socks, very heavy and meant for men who wear boots. I wear a pair of thinner cotton socks inside them and my feet are toasty warm.

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This barn is not far from where we live and I see it every time we head into Salmon Arm for some shopping or to visit the library. Don’t you think the red is extra cheery set down amongst all that snow? I do.

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I don’t know if you remember my writing about making something my Mum used to call “Pear Mousse“; at least that’s how I have always thought of the dish all these years. And then, a couple of weeks ago, searching for recipes that might have been made by my dad’s mother (he grew up in a Mennonite family who emigrated from Russia when he was one year old), I came across a site called “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” and I discovered that the correct spelling is “Moos”.  It seems to mean ‘soup’, but the recipes I saw were mainly for fruit soups. This photo is of my “Plumi Moos” as it bubbled away on the stove. I made more of the pear moos a couple of months ago and I made it as Mum always did; with  cornstarch, sugar and pears cooked in some water and then a can of evaporated milk added at the end. My cousin liked it well enough, but his Mum made it quite differently. Never just pears. She  made it in the winter with canned fruit, so plums, pears, peaches and sometimes cherries. And no evaporated milk. So a couple  of weeks ago I bought some pears and peaches because I wanted to use up the last of our home-grown plums.. And I made Plumi Moos. Without the canned milk, too. (and if you only use plums for the fruit, it’s called Pluma Moos) I thought it turned out very well, but of course I was using fresh fruit and my cousin’s memory was of canned fruit, so it didn’t taste like what he remembered. Still, he liked it and so did his wife, and it is now all gone. Cousin S and I both like oatmeal porridge (M doesn’t; he prefers uncooked cereal), so we ate the Moos mostly on our porridge in the morning. I added yoghurt as well. And a couple of times I had it for lunch with a piece or two of toast. Mmmmm . . . . .  I’ll be making this often for myself once I’m settled again.

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This was taken before I finished the pattern, which I’ve done now. Just one border band to do and then the last few inches of plain knitting to go. This is the second end of the scarf I started for my friend in Tacoma early this year. She did all the plain knitting once I had it started, but struggled with the patterning. Not to mention that I used two circular needles and there were loose ends flopping around. Surprising what bothers us, isn’t it? I never mind the floppy bits, but I’ve also got a few more years of knitting under my belt, so to speak. In the end, I did the first end’s patterns, she did the middle part and I brought the work here with me to complete for her.  I’ll post a photo once it’s done. Did I mention that this is worked in the round, Fair Isle and Norwegian style? And the yarn is fairly bulky, so it will be very warm indeed.

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Toe of one of my second pair of Fair Isle style socks.

Remember the pair of Fair Isle style socks I was working on? Well, they are on hold for a bit. My cousin took me to Armstrong to The Twisted Purl Yarn Studio so that I could add to my Jamieson & Smith yarn stash. I had run out of the colour I was using for the heels and toes. Black, I thought it was. But the yarn store had no black, only dark chocolate brown. <sigh> So I bought four or five balls of colours I would need for the next couple of pairs of Fair Isle style socks, ordered black and a couple of other colours to go with those and we went home. Where a niggling thought began to work on my mind. Could it be? I took the socks and held them under a very strong light and yes, it was true! The ‘black’ heels and toes were, in fact, dark chocolate brown. Now, Armstrong is close, but not so close that I was willing to ask for another ride to the yarn store. Especially as we would take the truck and gas prices have been going up. So I called the store and they kindly agreed to add a ball of dark chocolate brown to my order that was coming from Scotland. From Shetland, actually. And did I mention that I had ordered the new colours from Jamieson’s of Shetland. I’ve been wanting their yarn for a bit, but The Twisted Purl was out the day I first went there. And now they have some ladies wanting to try their hand at lace knitting and were putting in an order anyway, and so . . .  By the way, the J&S yarn is fine and I’ve been loving knitting with it. I’m switching because the company is part of The Wool Brokers. The fleece from Shetland is shipped to Yorkshire to be spun,  and I’ve read that it is mixed with fleece from other places, whereas the Jamieson’s spin their Shetland fleece right there on Shetland, unmixed with other fleeces. I’m quite excited to see my new yarn, which should be coming in soon. I’m not all that happy with choosing colours from a computer screen, as that isn’t always very true. So we’ll see. For socks, it will be fine, in any case. More on yarn in the mail in a bit.

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Same toe, further along.

I appear to be congenitally unable to do nothing and, as I can’t read much these days, I have begun my second pair of Fair Isle style socks. These are also toe-up, which I like very much, but I’m still not getting the joins along the sides quite right. The holes are a bit larger than I’d like. I may just stitch them up once the knitting is finished. I think when the next yarn order arrives I may try the Moebius toe-up cast-on. Back in Edmonton I knitted a Moebius scarf, so I do get the concept. This pair I began with more stitches in the initial cast-on, as I don’t really care for the wedge toe, at least not the look of it. The toes on the first pair do fit just fine, but I still prefer a more rounded toe. Just sayin’ . . .

Are you wondering about the other yarn shipment? Well, I’ll tell you . . . I’ve been invited to a good friend’s wedding next May and, of course, wondering what to wear. A dress, of course, and probably I’ll get some sandals, too. And then I came across this shawl, designed by Amy of Love Made My Home . . .  It is SO me! I fell in love and then, when I realized that Yarn Canada carries the same yarn Amy used, I went there and guess what> I not only ordered the two skeins the shawl requires, but I also ordered four balls of Kroy Sock Yarn, two in a lovely red and two in a colour called Clover Colours. I will be using my finest 2 mm double pointed needles, as I’ve read that using smaller needles and knitting tightly will result in socks that wear like iron. These two pairs should knit up faster, as I’m doing plain knitting for them, no patterning. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Above on the right are the two tuques I’ve been knitting for my RN sister’s two grandsons. Because my sister and I (and our siblings) are half Norwegian due to our mother’s parents both having been born in Norway, I chose a Norwegian pattern. The original was of a boy and girl holding hands, so I changed it to be two little boys. I’m calling it “Brotherly Love” as these two are very close, even at one and nearly four years old. But the top of the younger boy’s tuque didn’t decrease as expected, as you can tell from the picture on the left, although I did follow the pattern exactly. (goes to show you, doesn’t it?) So I will soon be frogging the crown and re-kitting it. After I finish the other tuque and make sure I have a decrease that works. frogging . . . not my favourite thing. Oh, well . . .

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On the left is part of the latest batch of cinnamon buns, before they went into the oven. I tweaked the recipe, of course, and used part whole wheat flour, along with some wheat germ for added nutrition and extra flavour.

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On the right is one of the pans after Cousin S added the slightly lemony glaze she makes so well.

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ON the right, the latest apple pie. I slice the apples; Cousin S makes thee pastry. She uses no sugar or cinnamon; she just adds a few tablespoons of cinnamon hearts as she puts the layers of apples into the shell, along with some cornstarch. The hearts were suggested by Cousin M to his Mum when ye was just a boy and it worked so well my Auntie never made apple pie the old way again. On the left is my serving.

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The last of the home-grown tomatoes. The cherry ones are already eaten up.

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I have been on a sort of muffin bender. Two weeks ago I made two dozen cornmeal muffins with some of our home-frozen corn in them, along with wheat germ and some whole wheat flour. I try to maximize nutrition whenever I can. I haven’t taken a photo of those yeat; the ones above are the second batch. Cousin S bought and cooked a lovely French variety pumpkin. She cooked it in the slow cooker and I mashed it once it was cool (she had gone to work by then) and put a couple of packages in the freezer. The rest I used to make the scrumptious muffins above.  I haven’t finished writing up my recipe, but will share it once it’s done. I had meant to put in some raisins and chopped walnuts, but became distracted half-way through by having to look for the new bag of cinnamon and then getting it into the tin. Still, we all agreed that these were the best so far. I’ll be making them again, with the nuts and raisins added next time.IMG_5353

My muffin efforts inspired Cousin S, who made these earlier today (well, earlier Sunday, really). They are Christmas Muffins, with molasses, candied peel, raisins, nuts and more. The recipe needs a little tweaking, but I’ll post it here once we’ve made it at least once more and finalized it.They were pretty good, though.

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The sum of Sunday’s Kitchen Creativity.

Left to right:  Christmas Muffins, Apple Pie, Egg Thingy (Frittata) and, in the slow cooker, the spaghetti (made with fusilli instead of spaghetti), which will be supper for the next five days. Some is packaged up for Cousin S to take with her to work.

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When I stayed with my last Auntie in Princeton earlier this summer, she loaned me some of her crochet books and patterns. I was very excited to see two patterns for Humpty Dumpty. One is for a toy that is made in separate pieces, each stuffed, and then set up on the edge of a shelf or table. When he falls off, he comes apart and the child then can re-assemble him.

That is not this one. This one is from the pattern my Auntie used over thirty years ago, when she heard that my RN sister J was expecting her first baby. That baby;s grandfather named the toy ‘Harvey’ and the little boy always slept with Harvey on one side and Pokey, a polar bear, on the other. My sister took very good care of handmade items and that boy, now in his early thirties, is the proud father of two wee boys of his own. Those are the two whose tuques I showed you near the beginning. My Auntie doesn’t follow patterns anymore, so I am making two of these Humptys, each with different colours for their shirts and stockings, as Christmas gifts to the boys from their Great-Auntie (me) and their Great-Great-Auntie. I am safe in posting about this, as to my knowledge, no one in my family reads this blog.

Well, that’s it, I think. It’s now after three in the morning on Monday and I really need to get some sleep. I haven’t been sleeping well, or at least often not through the night, so staying up may help.

 

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Some surplus pillowcases from the Dept of National Defence. More on this project later . . .

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Icicles outside my bedroom window a few days ago; Mount Ida as seen last Wednesday from Salmon Arm. This is close to the view we had of the mountain from our front yard, back when I was living here in my teens. Along the foot of it runs Foothill Road and that’s where the cemetery is where next year we will inter our parents’ ashes and those of one brother, with a memorial to another brother. Cousin M’s parents’ ashes are there already along with our paternal grandfather. We lived on Foothill Road when my RN sister J was a baby and I was seven; then later, when  I was twelve, we lived on Harbell Road which runs from the foot of it to where the last home stood, across the Trans-Canada Highway. A walmart stands where our garden and the neighbour’s home once stood and a dollar store occupies the space where the front lawn was, with the flowers and ornamental trees that were planted by my Mum. I love this view; it holds so many memories. I remember climbing on it with our Dad and the older brothers once, picking juniper berries and dad telling us how those were used to flavour gin. We trick and treated along Harbell Road for years and I would walk down to our former landlord’s place to buy eggs for Mum, taking the older siblings along and keeping them off the road by having them play leap frog and similar games. I know changes must come, but I do wish our home had been spared. I lived there for seven years, longer, I think, than in any other place ever. We moved at least once a year for most of my childhood and I moved often as an adult, too. The hosue was classified as a heritage house, with Arts and crafts details that I loved; I have no idea how walmart got permission to demolish the house. It was in good shape when I saw it last, just over ten years ago. Anyway, I like to remember.

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These are the Honeycrisp apples that we have been making into pie. They are good keepers, with a slightly waxy coat. Delicious flavour and very well named ‘crisp’. The tree was planted five years ago. Two years ago it had less than a half dozen fruits. Last year it had a couple of dozen apples on it. This year we took off over seventy-five pounds of apples. In the grocery store, Honeycrisp apples are already going for $1.99 a pound. So that tree produced over $150 with only a bit of watering and the picking to do. We would highly recommend this variety.

That’s it, my friends. I wish you all a week of good weather, good food, good friends and as much creativity as makes your heart sing. See you soon!  ~ Linne

 

March, April, May . . . part One

Wow, do I have a lot of catching up to do . . . but Mum’s computer is hooked up now and I can use it when it’s free, so here goes . . .

First of all, thanks to all my lovely readers for your comments, especially on the death of my much-loved Aunty. A loss is always difficult, even when expected. We seem to expect death to come; just not ‘today’ . . . I’ll catch up with replies to comments soon, now that things are settling down to some degree.

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Can’t remember if I posted a picture of this sweet bunny. I think I did, but he’s cute enough to share twice. Selma from the Eclectic Home and Life blog posted the pattern. Very quick and easy, they make lovely ornaments, bunting, etc. This one will be attached to the project in the following photo. I haven’t done any more on that project, ’cause it won’t be used ’til next winter . . . and you know, I’m all about the deadlines . . .

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While I was staying with the Crafties back in February, March and half of April, I ‘appropriated’ this cup for my morning coffee. Here it is, sitting on the coffee table while I work on one of the CAL blankets. I was struck by the colours of the cup, scissors and the table, as seen in the morning sunshine.

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Mrs. Crafty scored a huge box of assorted dollies and every day there would be a few sitting in the sink for  a bath and shampoo. Quite fetching, aren’t they?

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Below is the hand of the youngest Crafty granddaughter, busy working on something for me, to be part of my project that will travel far from here. More on that once I have the rest of the makings . . . Young Miss C was helped by her lovely big brother Master Z. The creativity seems to have skipped a generation, but is alive and thriving in the grandchildren. Wonderful to see!

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I finally finished CAL #1, and here is the second row of the edging just being finished.

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The third row of edging . . .

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This wee Scotty dog sits on a small table outside the room that I slept in at the Crafties’. I took the picture to share with Selma after she posted a pattern for a sweet little Scotty brooch. Isn’t he cute?

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This is a gallon jar, probably once holding pickles or mayonnaise; sometime later it was decorated by a talented folk artist. It found its way to the Re-Use-It Centre, and leapt off the shelf into Mrs. Crafty’s welcoming hands . . . For now it sits on a shelf at the foot of the bed I slept in. It’s so nice to be surrounded by handmade, home-made items. I can just feel the love, can’t you?

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Below you can see how I finished off CAL #1 – with a lovely hot pink ruffle!

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I rather like it and I do hope the little girl who will receive it likes it, too. It’s large enough to use on her bed even into her teens. She’s not very tall, so that was easy.

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Above, the house where Doc Martin and the lovely Louisa were to spend their honeymoon; I’m SO tempted to move to Cornwall and take over this place! It reminds me in some ways of a couple of the homes I lived in as a child.

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I borrowed this from a friend’s post on FaceBook; nice to know I’m safe 🙂

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One of the middle Crafty granddaughters; this is the girl I was teaching to knit. She’s been doing quite well with it and her piece was quite a bit longer when she left for home the next day.

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In the last couple of weeks I stayed with the Crafties I interrupted my  work on the three CAL blankets to follow the project that Selma’s class had moved on to: a ripple stitch item; for some, it was a blanket, but a couple of us chose to make a pillow. Mine is actually a pillow cover, for the pillow I used behind my back when I sat in the old recliner at my Aunty’s place. I ended it with a border of my own design, then realized the border wouldn’t show up once the piece was folded and stitched. So I added the white rows at the other end and now the border stands out just right. I’ll have to take a picture of the finished pillow; I rather like it.

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Two of the  antique dishes owned by the Crafties’ son and his fiancée. The brown lustre dish is meant to hold develled eggs around the edge and I assume a bowl of something in the centre (or crackers? or ???). The clear glass is a beautiful dish, probably meant to hold sweet treats at a ladies’ tea.

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A bottle of root beer, whose cap (and another) I have saved for Narfie7’s wall for Stevie-Boy. I hope root beer counts as a ‘beer’ . . .

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Thanks to Jess the Rabid Little Hippy for this section. She shared a picture of a waffle pattern baby blanket she had made (I think it was her first ever crochet project, too!); She kindly included a link to the pattern site and I just couldn’t resist . . . So this is part of one of the CAL blankets now.

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My Mum found this gorgeous towel in her things when she moved here after staying with my youngest sister for two and a half months. It looks rather old, but not antique. I’m planning to write out the pattern, once I find myself with more thyme . . . Thank heavens for spring and summer, eh?

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Some of the best banana bread I ever made! (and I’m not exaggerating, either!) I used a recipe from my Mum’s old Women’s Institute Cookbook, published back in the ’50s to celebrate British Columbia’s 100th anniversary. Most of the recipes have the ingredients in no particular order, so I missed something important when I started mixing things up; I saw ‘3-4 bananas’ at the end of the list, and rejoiced because I had exactly four that badly needed using up. So I mashed ’em and smashed ’em and mixed them with sugar and all the other good things. I had the wet items mixed and the dry items stirred and before I began melding them, I decided to go over the ingredient list one item at a time, just to be sure I hadn’t missed anything . . . and there in the middle was ‘one cup mashed ripe bananas’.

Oops!! Now what? I definitely had more than one cup; still, undeterred by fate, I mixed it all together, then added another half cup of flour or so, plus a spoonful more of baking powder. When I took them out of the oven I turned them out on a rack, as you can see by the clever pattern of indentations on the tops. Once cool, I cut into them, buttered the slices (no law against gilding the lily, is there?) and both Mum and I declared them the best ever!  If anyone is interested, I would be happy to post the recipe. Just let me know.

I’m going to stop here, as I have quite a bit more to go and I really don’t want to leave you all exhausted by such a huge post after the long months of drought . . .

Much Love and many Blessings to each of you; you are always in my heart and mind. More soon . . .

Serpentine Sagas

Well, that’s how my life would look if I were to do a Celtic drawing of it . . .

I will save the Saga of the Move for when I’m back at my Aunty’s; possibly after we move into the condo . . .

In the meantime . . . here’s my current bed at night:

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. . . and in the daytime:

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After we finished getting things out of Mum’s suite late on the 31st of January, I was pretty tired and mostly rested on the Sunday. But my Aunty’s cough had worsened, so Monday morning I packed my little backpack and brought her to the ER (Emergency Room) at the closest hospital. I was right; she has pneumonia. So we have been here since.

She’s doing better now, after a rocky start, and tomorrow (Monday) we start planning for her discharge.

I spent much of Thurs and Fri (plus the night betwedn) at the Crafties’, where I had a lovely shower and even lovelier sleep. On Thurs they took me to a department store, so now I have new jeans, T-shirts and a flannel shirt (very cosy!), as my regular clothes are ‘somewhere’ . . .

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My sort-of-tartan shirt shows here a bit, behind the Ian Rankin book I’m re-reading, topped with my last piece of Walker’s Scottish Shortbread. I took this, then realised I’ve been having a bit of a Scottish day . . . minus my favourite music, sadly . . . 😉

My Mum took a mild turn for the worse, too, hers due to the stress of the past months mostly. But she’s doing better now and is staying with my sister until the condo is ready.

20150208-183048.jpg Two of the Craftys’ granddaughters, who also spent the night and were each working on a doll made from old socks. They were adding hair, a fairly tedious job, which fell to Mrs. Crafty to complete:

20150208-183427.jpg The girls’ work.

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20150208-191306.jpg . . . and after finishing touches by Nana.
The weather stayed quite balmy until 31st Jan, which helped make the move easier. After that, though, the temperature dropped back to seasonal ‘normal’ and then we got snow . . .

20150208-191832.jpg Second last day of the move . . .

20150208-192155.jpg the day after the move was ‘done’ . . .
And while I was at the Craftys’ . . .

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Some views inside the hospital:

20150208-193017.jpg the atrium on the main floor.

20150208-193938.jpg the atrium on the second floor.

20150208-194059.jpg looking down from the 5th floor to the main floor of the atrium. Near the centre you can see one of the pianos. People just sit down and play and the large space magnifies the music perfectly.

20150208-194414.jpg the view from my chair-bed to the hallway . . .

20150208-194534.jpg there is a wide variety of artworks here. This has long been one of my favourites.

20150208-194846.jpg . . . one of my favourite queens, Queen Alexandra. She was married to King Edward, who succeeded Queen Victoria and whose short reign was the Edwardian Era, also a favourite of mine. Downton Abbey fans will remember that the series began just after his time.

Among my great treasures are two copies of Queen Alexandra’s book of family photos, one in good shape and the other a bit threadbare, with a loose cover. In 1908 she had these books made up and sold to raise money for charity. The photos are reproductions of ones taken by her and are mounted on the pages with the triangular black photo mounts so familiar from my childhood.
You can see an image of the cover and some of the pages here: http://www.google.ca/images?q=queen+Alexandra%27s+photo+albums&client=safari&hl=en-gb&tbm=isch&ei=WCXYVPfqBMa2oQSn84KQBg&start=60&sa=N#

Originally from Denmark, she was a strong-minded woman who did her best to play a part in the politics of the day. I mention her here because we are in a hospital named after her, the Royal Alexandra Hospital. I admire her so much, I correct people who call this place “the Alex” and forget it is named for a queen . . .

20150208-201832.jpg A closeup of her portrait, whixh hangs in the main lobby. The hospital was founded in 1899, two years before Alexandra became Queen.

I forgot to mention that I went with the Crafties and their granddaughters to the new Re-Use-It Centre, now south of the river. I was very good and only chose a small paper bag of items, including a book of patterns for old-fashioned crocheted doilies and a video teaching Fair Isle knitting. More on my finds later . . .

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Voyage Through the Virtual Village (AKA “Blog Hop Around the World”) :-)


OK, friends, here it is! So fill up those buckets of tea, gather some food and prepare yourselves for a somewhat lengthy stay . . . and big hugs to anyone who makes it through to the end . . . I’ve not written for a while and this is what happens when all that energy is kept pent up . . . some of you may need to come back and read this in sections . . . consider yourselves duly warned . . .

I’m sure you all know by now that everyone in this Village holds their own special place in my heart, each for their own unique self, and it’s been a great privilege to share vicariously in the lives of so many diverse people: gardeners, crafters, artists, writers, parents, travellers, designers, and so on and on . . . we may never meet in person, but in some ways we meet so authentically here in the Village that it makes no never mind to me, as some would say. You are each a treasured part of my HeartFamily and no matter what the future might hold for any of us, you will always be in my thoughts and prayers, in my heart, my mind, my memories . . .  but put that aside for now . . .

Today I want to take you on a trip, a Voyage . . . here we go, off to meet a few of the others in my Village. I hope some  of them come to dwell in your Villages, too . . .

I’ve been following posts by several friends as they participated in this Blog Hop Around the World and now I’ve been invited to join in . . .by Jess, the Rabid Little Hippy. In the beginning of my blogging days, I saw a comment by Jess somewhere and was enchanted by her blogname, being a Rabid Larger (and Older) Hippie myself. Since then, she has become a great friend, supportive and encouraging, not to mention inspiring. In many ways she is the daughter of my heart, just the sort of daughter I might have wished for . . . and maybe more like me than a daughter of the blood would have been . . .

I love everything Jess and her family get up to, although some days I feel I need to lie down and rest after reading about all she accomplishes in a day or a week . . .  😉

. . . and then there all my other new friends that she has led me to . . . this Virtual Village is just what any extreme introvert needs . . .

a new waterlily bloom about to flower more water primrose and I still have my water hawthorn flowering too. I definitely need more plats in there to prevent evaporation and to cover the water surface more though.  Orik's personal race track. He loves doing laps around the garden bed! The area where the bench now sits has had its tyres ripped out, the soil moved into the garden bed and tiles are down now. Todays work with Jas and Eggra as assistants.

 The removed bed is now in the corner here. Once the chooks have done their work the wire will be removed and reo mesh upcycled into trellis for the grapes I'm planting here. They will in turn shade the rest of the bed from the early afternoon sun onwards, providing a micro-climate. Well, that's the plan.  Above are three photos of the Rabid Little Hippy’s backyard garden, where chooks, goats and other lifeforms also reside. Also out there you will often find Martin, her husband, as well as three of the cutest Pint Sized Permies, whose activities are occasionally posted in their own blog. Jess introduced me to hugelkultur and rocket stoves, not to mention a wagonload of information about various ecological issues and more. The Rabid Little Hippy and her entourage dwell in Ballan, Victoria, Australia.

And me attempting to do the same

Here is Jess sporting her Katniss braid . . .

creativity comes in all shapes and sizes, doesn’t it?

From comments on Rabid’s posts, I found myself often on The Road to Serendipity with Narfie and Stevie-boy and the two pups . . . and that led me to so many others that I can’t name them all.

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DSCF7039Above are two photos of the Sanctuary, a HUGE veggie garden completely encased and roofed with fishnetting to keep out various predators. The netting was completely installed  by Narf7 and Steve last year. The bottom photo was taken on a walk with the two ‘pups’, looking across part of the river Tamar to The Road to Serendipity (somewhere in the middle of all that lovely green). Serendipity Farm is in Tasmania, south of Australia. Go visit the Farm and you will learn, love and laugh ’til you fall off your chair . . .

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Creativity takes many forms at Serendipity Farm; music, cooking, renovating, etc. Still, I feel the most creative thing of all  is found in Narf7 and Stevie-boy’s approach to life, love, learning and all that good stuff . . .

My blog-following is most eclectic, like me, and so I decided to invite an eclectic batch of friends and see what happened. I can now tell you that I’m quite over the Super-Moon (which was happening as I typed the draft for this post):

But first . . . My answers to the questions:

  • Why do I create what I do? Wish I knew! I just can’t help it; it’s like reading . . . if I were locked up with only a cereal carton, I’d read every word on it (several times), then I’d write on it (in blood if necessary), then I’d see what I could fashion from it . . .  Honestly, I think creativity is a vital part of each of us, although in some people it’s farther down the list of strengths than it is for others. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t create and the very act of creating has healed me, entertained me, amused me, given me hope and strength, distracted me when I most needed it, oh, and so much more . . . kept people warm and fed, made a home of wherever I happened to be living at the time, filled a gap when the budget didn’t stretch to something I wanted or needed. I learned to be creative with sewing because I am tall, with long arms and legs, and women’s clothing rarely fits me. Many tops have sleeves a couple of inches too short; pants stop above my socks, and so on. In my slightly younger days, I hand-stitched long skirts and dresses and even a couple of pairs of pants. I still have most of them, but they are not available for a photo session. I fell in love with Folkwear Patterns and hand-stitched the Kinsale Cloak from a heathery green fabric of unknown components. I never finished the hood, but I loved that cloak a lot. Fully lined, with topstitching and it was so cosy! Somewhere along the way, it seems to have disappeared, but I still have the pattern and would like to make it again one day; this time from a woollen fabric. More recently I discovered the Sense & Sensibility patterns for days gone by . . . I own most of the Edwardian patterns and some of the crochet and Romantic Era patterns as well. And that’s only the sewing of clothes bit of my creative endeavours . . .

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Some dyeing I did for the Etsy store (closed for a while now)

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My favourite drawing, which is the cartoon for a couple of watercolour paintings.

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A casual drawing of a ‘hobbit home’, done while drawing with children.

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A ‘plain’ shawl that I somehow managed to complexify and bits for two of several knitted bears, something I love to work on when possible.

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A round shawl I made up as I went along . . .

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My favourite shawl; mossy green and also invented as I worked. It has a macramé fringe and a pattern of ‘holes’ worked in just for interest.

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Two of the double-sided crochet bits I’ve made. This is from an easy pattern shared by a bus driving friend and posted here a while back.

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The most creative time of all . . . loving someone small . . .

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A crochet doily with white and ecru-leaved violets; I made this several years ago, when I was still living on the west coast of BC.

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Hexagon flowers for an eventual ‘Bestemor’s Flower Garden’ piece. Bestemor means Grandmother in Norwegian and it is what my grandkidlets call me, in homage to my Mum’s mother, who died years before I was born. I wish I had known her . . .

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Three of the hand-sewn dolls for my grandkidlets . . . from a rough pattern.

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Above, one of my Dad’s stained glass lampshades and on the back of the couch, a quilt made by my Mum, with her quilted pillow in the centre front. They both did so much more . . . I love that creativity has been passed down in my family for many generations.

My parents, with me and the first two of my brothers, back when we lived in a small one-room shack with no power, no indoor plumbing and a wood cookstove that also kept us warm. My creativity began even before that, though . . .

  • How does my creative process work? Well it’s different when you’re not so skilled and also very eclectic. (Do you think there’s a relationship between those two?) If I stuck to one or two creative endeavours, I might have mastered them by now and life would no doubt be quite different. But no such luck. I am inspired by an idea, a photo, a pattern, whatever; I gather materials and I start a project . . . then, “oh, look, a blade of grass!” (that phrase is a family joke among my sisters, often used when we are talking about something and then digress and then digress again [but we always come back to the original topic] ) and I am off learning about something else. Or maybe I had to move and my projects are in storage and I can’t stand the emptiness that comes when I have nothing on the go . . . so I read a bit (if you think I’m being honest with ‘a bit’, think again! LOL) but it’s never enough; I have to make something . . . so off I go on another project and then, there it is, that ‘blade of grass’ and away I go again . . .  In a perfect life, I like to have several things on the go at once, set up and waiting for me. Then I can ‘feel’ what I want to do for the day and pick up where I left off. In reality, I do have several things on the go at once, but practical considerations often determine what I work on at any given time. So, when at my Aunty’s, I need a project that doesn’t require me to read a pattern so that I can pay attention to our chats. One of the major reasons I fell in love with Dani’s Bavarian crochet afghan. I have finished two, have a large one well under way and am in the middle of one I haven’t really mentioned yet. Photos at the bottom of this post, but no peeking!

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The large Bavarian afghan above; two for the grandkids below.

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  • And I have enough yarn now . . . sigh . . . the first Bavarian was meant to use up two oversized balls of acrylic; then I had to buy more so there would be enough afghans for each of the soon-to-be-six grandkidlets to have one of their own and the parents to have one large enough to cuddle under . . . and then there is my other son and his former girlfriend. Like Scarlett, I’ll think about that tomorrow . . . A major part of my creative process is that simple projects somehow become complex and, like objects in the mirror, much larger and nearer than they seem) One reason they become complex is that I am creative with practically everything, and in a rather slap-dash, ‘what-the-hey’ manner. “oh, well” is a mantra heard often in the inner regions . . . but I LOVE it so much!! Why? I ask you . . . I makes me happy and frustrated, often in equal parts, to be creative; to learn and do; to master; to design (a life-long love of mine, designing); to teach . . .

When I can, I love to make things that are more challenging; last year I started my first Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’; some of you will remember it; not perfect, but it will be warm and cosy, and the lovely hot magenta background is very cheerful. Only the sleeves and buttonbands to go now (and maybe a hood), but it’s on hold at my friends’ place at present. I used traditional Fair Isle motifs, but the cardi itself and the arrangement of the motifs are all my own doing; the shape of the cardi evolved during the knitting . . .. as did the collar . . .

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A favourite quote . . . from Stephen Hunt.

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My Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ . . . and that’s my lovely, 94.5 year old, under-five foot Aunty helping out as my photographer’s model . . .

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A Fair Isle style bag I invented, also with traditional motifs.

  • How does my work differ from others of its genre? Well, my friends, if I had a genre, maybe I’d have an answer for you . . . The best I can say is that I am wildly eclectic, with a wide range of creative loves that encompasses language and languages, music, folk art, fine art, design, almost all the arts known to woman including fibre arts of all sorts, traditional skills and current ways, and more. Perhaps what is different at times is that I am a philosophical thinker by nature (my top strength), so things I make often have meaning for me that they don’t have for others. I like to make things by hand. I’ve done a little spinning, some weaving, some dyeing, and so on. I’d hoped to do stamping and free-hand painting on some of the silk scarves, but those plans are on the shelf for now. I designed a Cowichan sweater for my husband a few decades ago, with symbols that are meaningful to him and knitted from unspun yarn in cream with light and dark brown motifs. So far as I know, he still has it. I have a couple of photos of it and will post them here if and when I locate them . . .

I like to combine media, too. I’ve done a little printmaking and the idea of combining that with watercolour and then collaging on top of it all is very exciting to me. I have created a few masks and art dolls. One piece I especially like is a four-foot circle of thin plywood covered in canvas. I fastened three masks of my own face on the front, then painted the entire thing white; it looks like faces emerging from the background.

  • What am I presently working on? Well, the Bavarian crochet afghans, of course, and here is a series of photos of pieces of the latest one, which is my way of being creative with a lovely pattern:

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Does that seem confusing? The large piece is the centre; there will be twelve smaller pieces (below is the photo showing the centre and three of the smaller bits) surrounding it, then there will be several rows all around and all in white. I may throw a row of purple in there somewhere, too; that depends on having enough left to complete the work. I have only one ball of the purple, but have three balls of the white and a good chance of getting more if needed. No chance of more purple; the yarn is different from the same brand now; softer and finer spun. But I do want a purple edge, as it will show wear a bit less.

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Here you can see the centre piece. Each side of it will have two of the purple hearted squares and the four corners will be the white hearted squares. Hope that’s more clear.

Here are the latest photos of this piece, which is turning out even better than I dreamed:

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As you can see, this new piece is now wider than a single bed . . . and still growing . . .  I call it “Violets in the Snow” and it’s my favourite of the Bavarians I’ve made so far.        I think I’ll be keeping this one . . ..

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A detail of the corner as it is today . . .

OK, that’s enough about me . . . 🙂 Four people have been kind enough to allow me to twist their arms ever so gently and have agreed to take part in this Blog Hop Around the World, or, as I like to think of it, this Voyage through the Virtual Village:

(Please note: all photos from participant bloggers are used with permission)

First up is Sarah from the Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm
(pronounced: fruu-lings-cab-ee-na)

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Sarah and her lovely family live in an old California gold rush town. 20130228-195603.jpg

Backyard chickens and so much more . . . but I’ll let Sarah tell you about that . . .

Her creativity is evident not only in her approach to sustainable living, but also in her artwork:

2 Nordic Animal Prints of Hand Drawn Illustration Designs with Rune Poems - Goat, Chicken, Horse, Sheep, Duck

One of Sarah’s Celtic mandala drawings, perfect for using as is or for colouring in.

On the blog are a page for Printables, with excellent resources for small-holding farmers, as well as another page with a variety of DIY projects. Check them out!

Sarah has an Etsy store, the Little Farm Shop, and it was there that I purchased my lovely raven amulet necklace:

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. . . as well as her beautiful ‘Backyard Farm Coloring Book’ for my grandkidlets and for a friend’s children, too. These are a perfect gift, as you can email them to whomever and they can print out as many copies as they like. Children can colour the pictures, then send them to Grandma or . . . all while learning a bit about backyard farming.


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The Official Tea Towel of the 23 Thorns household . . .

Next up is . . . Mr. 23 Thorns! I first discovered him via The Road to Serendipity, and he makes me laugh and sometimes cry, often at the same time . . . Writing is one of my favourite forms of creativity, or I should say, reading other people’s writings.

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Mr. and Mrs. 23 Thorns (she has her own blogs: Tracy  Loves History and The Rubbish Collection Day Collection. This woman has the most inspired approach to taking out the trash that I’ve ever heard of; she, too, makes me laugh and sometimes cry. They deserve each other (and I mean that in the nicest of all possible ways)!

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Mrs and Miss 23 Thorns

As you can see, the 23 Thorns children are as creative as their parents . . .

Here are links to a couple of my favourite 23 Thorns posts . . .

  • Jesus died. But now he lives. In Detroit, sort of. This post introduced me to the work of Jesus Rodriguez, a man whose music and approach to life continues to inspire me. If you are intrigued, check it out . . .
  • Parenting for Dummies.  As my parents, and later myself, had quite ‘relaxed’ approaches to parenting, at least when it came to letting kids roam free, climb trees, take risks, etc., I found this post both refreshing and amusing. Don’t let the first line fool you; Mr. 23 Thorns loves his kids as much as any of us; he just doesn’t subscribe to the “wrap ’em in cotton wool ’til they grow up” philosophy.

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As you may have guessed from the photo on the left above, the 23 Thorns do not live in Canada . . . nope, they live in South Africa . . . I hope, if I ever get there, to camp somewhere nearby . . . I dream of hearing the birds, maybe even elephants, at night.

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Fierce Protector of the 23 Thorns household . . .

Mr. 23 Thorns also writes Why Books. That is a link to a wonderful post about WWI.


Getting Stitched on the Farm

Third brave participant is Kristin Nicholas, of Getting Stitched on the Farm. Kristin has her own shop, where you can browse for patterns (I’ve bought a couple), books, kits and more, even wallpaper!

  

Kristin has books of knitting and embroidery patterns in her shop.

One of the wallpaper patterns she painted by hand and which can be purchased.

Color by Kristin is her own brand of yarn. Half wool, a quarter each alpaca and mohair.

You can find these in the Embroidery Supplies section.

Kristin began sewing at age nine and, like me, learned to knit, crochet and much more soon after that. She was lucky to have a German Gran who taught her embroidery.

She sells her own notecards and postcards, too, in sets of assorted or single image.

  

Kristin has written several books, too, including these. I bought the centre one and love it! I will take it along the next time I visit my grandkidlets. My eldest granddaughter taught herself to stitch by age 5 and is still interested at 15.

Kristin lives a couple  of hours from Boston, Massachusetts. If you are going to be in the neighbourhood, you may be able to take in a class or two. This one interests me . . .

See her post on Fabric Printing if it interests you, too . . .

As you can see, Kristin’s creativity has many outlets. I have found her blog more than inspiring. Now if I only had more time . . . note to self, plant thyme next spring . . .


City House Studio

Fourth and final participant will be Michelle of the City House Studio blog. I found her through a couple of sewing and quilting blogs that I follow and was instantly smitten with her work and with her fresh approach to quilt design.

One of Michelle’s gorgeous quilts.

. . . and this is her Farmer’s Wife Quilt, completed in 2011. 90 blocks, to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday! More than impressive, isn’t it? There is a great story behind this quilt; you can read it here. It covers from the 1890s to the 1930s. I love the tradition that is carried on through the stories and by people still making this quilt.

here she is with her Gran and the quilt.

And here’s the back of it . . . equally lovely.

I love her Scrappy Asterisk Block tutorial and it’s on my ever-lengthening list . . . this is the first of Michelle’s quilts that I read about and it caught both my eye and my imagination. I simply adore anything not ‘in-the-box’ when it comes to design.

Michelle has an Etsy store and it should be open again soon. I happen to know she’s extremely busy getting some quilts ready for several fall fairs. Which explains why Michelle’s Blog Hop post will see the light of day in September – watch for it!

You can buy patterns from Michelle’s Craftsy store, too.

See her “Read” Library Tote pattern here or her Bionic Gear Bag Notions tote here.

Now, if you’re into free motion quilting, be sure to visit Michelle’s FMQ Challenge blog. That’s one example in the photo above. And then there is this:

Don’t know if I’ll ever have time for trapunto quilting, but I hope so. At least one piece, maybe a pillow . . . Project lists certainly give us reasons to live, don’t they?

 

Two of Michelle’s ‘Sticks’ quilts. I. Want. More. Time. !!!  🙂

I’m not sure where this Blog Hop began, but I have traced it back a ways for you, in case you, too, are afflicted with terminal curiosity . . .

Rabid Little Hippy

The Road to Serendipity

The Contented Crafter

Boomdeeadda 

One Spoiled Cat

These Days of Mine

A New Day Dawns

Simply Trece

I’m assuming the Hop goes back much further, but have run out of time; if you are interested, I’m sure you can do what I’ve done so far; go to the last blog listed and go back through posts to around June (or earlier, as you go on), then look for the specific post. It’s been lots of fun, just seeing all the different types of blogs that are linked through this Hop. If you read the posts, you will see that there are branches to this hop; as many bloggers have twisted the arms of found three others to ‘volunteer’ to join in.

It wouldn’t be a “post accompli” without a bit of music, would it? Much of it is folky, so if that’s not your thing, no worries. None of us have enough thyme for everything, do we?

Heiland Harry by The Corries, in honour of all the young men who never returned from the various wars they were sent to fight.

Like Janis by Jesus Rodriguez (Sixto Diaz)

Asimbonanga by Johnny Clegg (with Nelson Mandela!)

Hobo’s Lullaby by Arlo Guthrie (written by Woody Guthrie), in honour of all those out of work and homeless . . .

Two songs that link to my childhood now:

The Log Driver’s Waltz by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. My Dad used a peavey like these when managing logs in a boom im a holding pond. I don’t think he ever rode a log through whitewater, though.

The Frozen Logger by The Weavers. My Dad used to sing this all the time. I learned it as a young child and I still love it.

A half hour of Stompin’ Tom Connors, a Canadian icon. I don’t listen to a lot of country, but I still love Stompin’ Tom, who passed away not that long ago. A true, true Canadian!

His The Hockey Song will always be one of my favourites.

and, of course, Runrig, singing The Water is Wide and Steppin’ Down the Glory Road.

. . . performing An Sabhal Aig Neill, followed by the Drums . . . should make you dance!

Last, my favourite rendition of “We Will Rock You!” This one’s for the more rockin’ of my followers.If you want a lot more more rock and a lot less folk, here’s one of my favourites from Woodstock . . . Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this voyage . . . I sure did. Hope it was worth the wait.

Here we are, home again . . . someone has the kettle on and there are treats ready for our tea . . . too busy now? Come by another time; the door is always on the latch . . .

BTW, the Happy Hibiscus says ‘hello’ to all of you; this is the most recent of an amazing summer of flowering. I think it’s thirteen or fourteen so far and there are another two or three buds coming along. The most I ever had in one year, ever, was three and that was once. Most years there has only been one and occasionally there were none.

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about time . . .

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That’s a.m.! (my nice note from Christi is below – it came with poor Delilah, now deceased). But I think of Christi (and then the rest of you folks by association) whenever I’m in the kitchen . . .

Well, the ceilings have been looked at and discussed again and it’s possible they will wait for the place to be empty before fixing them. We hope!

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That’s our living room (lounge) after quite a bit of work (I’m not showing you the ‘before’ pictures LOL!)

So . . . finally everyone was gone, Mum was making her supper and I sat down at the computer to get some work done.

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I’d created tags for the scarves, but it took me a couple of hours before I finally figured out how to print them on business card blanks . . . and then the printer spoilt three sheets, drawing them in unevenly and also ignoring the margins. Aarrrgggghhhhhhh…………
The last sheet (part of it is seen above) was usable, just. Oh, well . . .

Then . . . I was planning to upload a couple of scarves into the store. I took pictures out on the balcony this afternoon (the Etsy Guidebook says natural light is best). Not for the iPhone, apparently, although I haven’t figured out why . . . All my photos here are taken with the phone. So I tried taking new ones by putting a large piece of cotton fabric on Mum’s bed, then a scarf and photographing it in sections so the detail would be clearer.

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An outdoor pic

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An indoor pic
What to do? I had set today as my deadline to open the store, but had no usable photos.
Woa… is me (I’m one letter away from turning blue . . . 😉 Nothing like a bad pun, eh?

But all is not lost! Last time I was visiting my friends, Mrs. and Mr. Crafty, I photographed her dolls Jenny and Jed. Remember?

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Jenny

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Jed

So . . . a couple more hours were spent invested and finally I had all the information typed up, photos uploaded and the Store Announcement changed . . .

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An adorable couple . . .

. . . and the store was officially open!
Whew!!! But at least I learned a bit . . .

By then it was 2:00 a.m., so Mum went to bed and I made some supper (no, not chocolate; steamed veg and pasta) and watched the last of the director’s commentary on “How to Train Your Dragon”, which I’d viewed over a few days last week. Just what I needed!

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. . . and fell asleep . . .

So, the linkie to the store is coming up soon . . .

Bet you thought I’d forget, eh? 🙂 It’s now after 5:00 am and I’m done for now, so . . .

. . . Go forth, my friends, and, as Jean-Luc Picard would have said (had he been captain of the spaceship ‘Serenity’, “Make it Shiny!!”

A different sort of Happy Mail . . . and what’s been up with me (sort of) ;-)

IMG_4995[1]There will be more about this quite soon! Nope, I haven’t opened it yet, either . . .

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We’ve had a lot of this again over the past few days . . . yesterday down to near -28C with the wind and today it was about -24C (with wind); it sure felt colder than that today, though. I was out today doing a library run (no coffee, though; I’ve decided to tighten my budget a bit and put the savings into my Sealed Pot (if you are interested, see my page with a link to the challenge) and then straight to the grocery store to stock up a bit. I must be feeling the cold a bit; I was easily tempted to buy green split peas and my favourite rice (Lundberg’s Brown Basmati) as well as a fairly large bag of navy beans. The split peas and rice will become a hearty and warming dish of Risi-e-Bisi, which I first learned to make from the original Laurel’s Kitchen; still one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks. Our whole family loved this one. The link takes you to a recipe for it that is online; it seems to be the one I’ve used for years. My Laurel’s Kitchen is here somewhere, but I don’t have time to search for it tonight. This dish, by the way, is just as good served cold, especially with soy or tamari sauce. Yum!

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I was not on the computer much today or yesterday and no, I did not do much of my longer than arm’s length list . . . I had fun, though! My crafty friend picked me up in the morning yesterday. We hit the grocery store for a couple of things for my Mum and also ingredients for supper at their place. Then a trip to the Re-Use-It Centre. I know, I know . . . I do have a few crafty items here and there . . . 😉  but how could I resist? I don’t have photos of my finds for you just now (I’m on a sort of mission); maybe in a couple of days. I found a not-special dictionary that I won’t mind cutting up so I can use the words on my Day Cards that I’m so sadly behind on. I revere books, if you hadn’t guessed by now, and I don’t write in them or cut them up . . . but this one is fairly new, so I think I can do it. 😉  I found other things there, too. But I was quite restrained (I thought) and did not go down any of the main aisles; a quick jaunt to the back where I found five pieces of cut cedar ready to paint; another detour into the books and ornaments (where I found two TWO!! glass chimneys for kerosene lamps – I like to have extras on hand; sometimes they get broken). A very fast scan through the fabrics, too, while my friend not only found things for her, but also two bags of stuffing for me. She also found a huge amount of basket making supplies, which I heroically refrained from drooling upon . . . my Mum and I both make baskets. But fair is fair . . .  I forgot to mention that I dropped off two bags of books before I went in, so I came out with three bags, leaving me having gained only one bag. I love creative math, don’t you too? This was followed by a trip to the Handy Bakery, a sweet little Portuguese bakery with special coffees and tables to sit and visit at. We didn’t, though. I bought some dessert for our supper and a couple of pieces of fresh pizza for my lunch, also a loaf of bread and some more desserts from the day-old section. More Yum!!  😉 Then it was home to my crafty friends’ place. The photo above is the path from their back alley to the patio and the back door. Nice heaps of white stuff, eh?

Inside, I found she had been very busy since I last saw her:

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I hope you can see the details of this table top: my friend painstakingly glued dozens of old keys in place, then poured several coats of rosin over the surface. It’s just lovely!

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Above are pictures of Jenny. Do you remember the pictures I shared of Jed, last autumn, I think? If not, no worries; I’ve included more photos of him below. Jenny is handmade down to her sweet little Mary Jane shoes and her hat with a couple of wild autumn weeds in the band. There are several Jennys and each is unique in expression and some of the detailing. Below is one of the Jeds:

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Aren’t those ears darling? And the freckles . . .

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My friend made Jed’s boots, too, including putting in the grommets for the laces.

Here’s a picture of one of the happy couples:

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The Gentleman Bunny is a work in progress. My friend was making the sage green velveteen vest while we visited. I’ll share more photos of him once he is complete.

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I love his big feet (they remind me of Hobbit feet) and, of course, his gorgeous ears . . .

While my friend stitched and I continued stitching along the front steek of my barn cardi, we watched three movies: the original ‘Heidi’, a life-long favourite, partly for the story and partly for the incredible log hut the Grandfather lives in, high on a Swiss mountainside.

This was followed by ‘Night of the Grizzly’, I think it was, a sort of western from ’66. then came ‘Severed’ . . . about which I won’t say much. Suffice to say it has loggers, hippie protesters and zombies . . .  😉

That’s all for now, folks . . . I have to open that box tomorrow quick smart and get going on the mystery project. Wish me luck, won’t you? If all goes well, there should be pictures and an explanation in a couple of days or so. I will leave you with two more photos: the first is a detail of a fern on our sliding glass doors to the balcony. The fern is courtesy of Jack Frost, whose work is amazing in its artistry and detail.

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This last photo is the walk at the front of my crafty friends’ house. Pretty, I think.

Have a great weekend, my friends and stay warm or cool as needed.  😉

. . . so, it isn’t the end . . . and other things . . .

Well, I’ve a fair bit to share today, so no Wednesday Word again. Maybe next week . . .

Stacy left me a comment that included this:

Did you ever see the Marigold Hotel movie? I love that movie – they say “All will be well in then end. If all is not well, then it’s not the end.” 🙂

I told her I was stealing part of it for my blogtitle. So now you know what that is all about . . . or you will further down . . .

Meantime, lots has been going on here; first, the weather continues unabated. Clear or nearly so skies in the early part of the day; mild clouding in the mid-afternoon; strong winds bringing hail, lightning and thunder, as well as deluges in the evening or the middle of the night. This is the hail from two or three days ago (the day I was caught in the first go-round; this was a second set a couple of hours later) Note that the railing in the picture is only the reflection; I loved how it came out all wavery and I think where the paint is peeling makes a very pretty pattern:

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We heard on the six o’clock news tonight that another bunch of thunderstorms was heading our way. I went out to look, but there was nothing in sight then. It’s now 9:30ish and the sun has a half hour or so to go yet. At 9:00 the sky  was looking like this (the photos range from slightly south-west to north-north-west, but are not in order):

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While I was typing, the storm arrived, with enough wind that I had to get up and close the windows and sliding doors. It sounded like hail or else very large and heavy rain. I got a couple more photos (sorry about the screening; I was looking through it and forgot the camera sees everything!):

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The lightning and thunder have been going on for a while now, but the rain has slackened. I can hear the tires shushing along the street that runs in front of the building. I just looked out the window again and there is another set on the way! So I suspect Mum and I will be sitting up for the third time, watching the lightshow from the living room.

The ‘plain’ garter stitch shawl continues to grow in size:

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I have been thinking about Christi and the BO’s slaughtered Cornish hens since I read her posts on Farmlet. Then I remembered an organic rancher whom I very much admire for his humane approach to raising animals for meat. His company is First Nature Farms and if you have time, it’s worth checking out his site. He and his wife, along with their two children, raise all sorts of stock, from bison to beef to turkeys (the wild variety, not the white ones), chickens, and more. They have large rolling meadows in which to graze their birds, so their solution won’t work for everyone. What he did, though, was to design huge cages on wheels, with netted tops to keep the hawks, etc., from an easy feast. Every day, he takes the tractor and moves the pens a length or so, which means the happy birds have fresh forage, grubs and all that yummy stuff to enjoy. I remember when he told me that he had wanted to reduce the levels of adrenalin and other toxins in the meat he raised; everything was fine on the ranch, but the ride in an unfamiliar vehicle to the slaughterhouse stressed the birds. So what Jerry did was to record the sounds the birds make when they are first moved to fresh pasture. “Happy Turkey Songs” I called them, as it was turkeys he was speaking of a the time. They had stripped an old school bus to use for transporting the birds. Jerry plays the “Happy Turkey Songs” all the way to the slaughterhouse. This keeps the birds happier and more relaxed, which results in healthier, tastier meat.

I don’t know if a movable pen would protect against weasels, anyway, now that I have given it further thought; no doubt they would just duck under the side netting. Of course if there were a way to have a second,  outer layer of mesh and then electrify it a bit . . .

A knitted doll my Mum made a few years ago:

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I’ve spent some time thinking about Kriscinda’s neighbours, and Narf7’s, and those of others who left comments. And now I have my own semi-equivalent! Today we had two pieces of paper thrust under the door; one was a notice that the water will be off tomorrow from 9:30 am to whenever some necessary repairs are done. The other was a thunderbolt that really threw me for a loop: An official notice from the condo board, whom seem more and more Nazi-like in their approach to dealing with tenants as we go along.

This is the same board that took from early January 2012 to late September the same year to finish the repairs to the suite I lived in until the flood (early January) from a suite several floors above me damaged at least 15 suites. I was staying at my Mum’s place when the flood happened (she was away on the coast), so continued to stay there (but was still paying rent, as my landlord-owner is a great guy). When I lost my job in mid-May, I moved the remaining items into a storage unit until I could find work and rent another suite. By then it was obvious that my Aunty needed some support, so that’s when I began the current regime of staying with her for 8 nights and at Mum’s for 6.

What this translates to, for two older women, both of whom have collections from well-lived lives and who both do nearly every craft known to woman (and have the supplies to prove it! This includes several floor looms that are in pieces, a small one that is set up, two warping mills, etc. we won’t mention the yarn and fabric stashes, nor the paints, dyes, fibres, stamps, and much, much more . . . ) is that we live in a two bedroom suite that is crammed with supplies and also with the things we love from our various lives. Mum has pottery she’s made, a few pieces of family china and more. I have a Hoosier cupboard that my Dad refinished and books in boxes.

The upshot is that a lot of what we have is wrapped in plastic and living on the balcony (we are on the ninth floor). We were bringing things indoors and going through them in an attempt to downsize without giving up all our joy in those things. Then we heard that after the building’s roof was repaired, all the ceilings which had water damage from leaking over the past few years would be scraped, re-textured and painted. And that the painters wanted the rooms empty or nearly so. This was a few months back. We’ve had two estimators come, but not heard anything more. But we stopped bringing things in and began planning to put more out.

You can imagine how we felt when we read the notice today, stating that from now on, balconies were to be considered ‘common property’ and all that would be allowed on them are bicycles, lawn furniture and barbecues. None of which we have or plan to have. The notice said that there is an inspector coming to check that the balconies are safe to use and the railings all secure. This is a real issue, as apparently a couple of units have railings that are no longer attached to the concrete and which could conceivably detach if anyone were to lean against them.

The scary part: if there is anything not on the “allowed” list still out on the balcony when the inspector arrives, the condo board will have the items removed at the tenants’ expense . . . I  presume that means that our things would be thrown in the Dumpster.

I doodled this at Christmastime; my sweet little hobbity hole . . . wish I were there now!

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My first reaction was that I would simply move out and take my things with me, but in the end what I think I will end up doing is this: move almost all of my things into another storage unit, except for a few necessities like clothing LOL. Then we can bring Mum’s things into the suite. I can still stay with my Aunty during alternate weeks. In between, I could sleep at Mum’s as I do now, so as to be available to both of them when needed. My cousins have been paying me for the help I give their mother, so I should be able to manage this. But it’s a setback to my long-range plans. I currently have managed to get a month ahead on all my bills and have been saving to make a lump payment on my bank loan in December. (thanks to Mrs. Saving For Travel and her challenges). I’ve even been able to set a wee bit aside to help here and there, as when the Living Waters Quilt raffle was on.

It’s doable, for sure, just another huge inconvenience imposed with no thought for the happiness, comfort or needs of tenants who don’t fit into the tiny ‘approved’ box. It’s painful to be constantly reminded that there is one ‘right’ way to live and that is not our way. I believe in accepting people as they are and am always shocked at the rigidity in some others; I know it comes from fear, and I’ve certainly dealt with lots of that in my own life, so can empathise, but I don’t understand how that translates into trying to force others into one’s own mould.

I wonder what they would think if I had the power to make rules that required them to learn a variety of crafts and amass the tools and materials with which to practise those crafts? What if I demanded that they cook from scratch and quit watching TV? Read books! Go green and walk or bike; get rid of the extra car? Oh, and wear clothes that I approve of . . .  😉  . . . you get the idea . . .

The world could use a few more hippies, I think . . .

I’ll leave on a lighter note now . . . the first picture here is a scan of a photocopy of a drawing I did some years ago. I based the wings on a photo of an owl’s wings and the angel on a photo of a model holding a large ball. The second is a watercolour I began from that drawing back when I was in my own suite. I got to this point and liked it so much I was afraid to do more in case I botched it entirely. So I started another watercolour, which was also turning out well. Then came the flood, the packing and moving, so that one is not completed, either.

One day, though . . . . it’s nice to have things to look forward to, isn’t it?

Have a great week, all of you!

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A Slow Sunday . . . well, that was then . . .

Actually, it’s been a pretty slow couple of weeks. Sorry I haven’t posted; the week before last, when we had heavy grey skies and lots of rain, I loved the weather, but after an intense week with my Aunty, I was totally wiped out. I spent a lot of time lying on the couch reading or else ‘napping’. So now I’m way behind with my Feed Reader, who likely thinks I finally found my StarGate and absconded to fairer climes . . .

Here’s a few highlights of the past while, though. (just to make a contribution to your FeedReaders lol)

I thought the article below (well, link to it, anyway) was worth reading (and a bit scary). why should we have to ask suppliers what’s in every little thing they make? I’m more for a total boycott (mind you, I eat fast food so rarely, I suppose my actions won’t even be noticed!

http://grist.org/list/taco-bell-is-making-its-meat-healthier-by-refusing-to-call-it-meat/?utm_campaign=living&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter

I have been working on several of my hand-work projects. This:

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has used up three skeins of yarn and now looks like this: 20130624-155806.jpg

Here’s a closeup of the edge: 20130624-155850.jpg

and a closeup of the yarn that I hope gives a better idea of the lovely colours: IMG_3337[1]

My variation of the Simple Garter Stitch Shawl: 20130624-155324.jpg

is now much larger and looks like this:

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You can see that I’m using four sets of cable needles now. They are each 29″ long, including the ends.

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Did you think I’d given up on the Mystery Project? Remember when there was only this:

20130508-052120.jpg and this:

20130514-183216.jpg and this:

20130511-184640.jpg ??? (and by the way, I’m not so happy with that very bright insert, so have figured out a way to cover it up (I’m way too lazy to take it apart and re-do that section). But I haven’t done it yet, so there’s nothing to show.

Still, this is the latest Mystery:

It began here: IMG_3408[1]

went on to here: IMG_3414[1]

and now is finished: IMG_3470[1]

. . . bet you’re still guessing . . . 😉

In between, while looking for some of the pieces I cut out to sew way back in December, I found this lovely bag again! My Mum wove the fabric that forms the body, then used fabric to make the ends and handles.

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She gave it to me a while ago and I use it to hold a plastic bag with the makings of several knit Teddies that I’m making from Astra yarn. I use two balls for each, holding a strand from each, so the body is extra thick and holds the stuffing better. As I finish each, I have a portion of each ball left over. My plan for those is to make my first Fair Isle sweater using the hot pink as the background colour and the Teddy remnants for the patterns. I’m planning on creating my own designs, although some will be based on the traditional patterns. Lucky for me; while I was at my Crafty Friends’ place, Mrs. CF found one of my boxes they are storing for me and on the very top was my book with the history of Fair Isle knitting and lots of patterns! This one will be for myself and I plan to call it my Teddy Sweater. (jumper for my friends who speak the traditional language) 🙂

Later, I’d like to make another Fair Isle, this time using all wool yarns. If I’m very lucky (and industrious) I will be able to dye the colours myself. The only other sweater I’d like to make in the near future would be a Cowichan or Salish sweater, again with my own designs. I’ve already done one, but it was in shades of cream and brown; mine I would like to be far more colourful. We’ll see . . . that’s a far-off dream just now. And I just remembered; I have a couple of partly-knitted sweaters (for me) somewhere here in a bag or box . . . guess I’d best get on with finishing the multitude of UFOs, eh?

Here are some of the Teddy pieces, laid out on our couch:  IMG_3402[1]

And here’s a closeup of two of them. You can see how they are knitted in one pice at first (the legs, body and head, in that order); then the arms, ears and nose are made and attached, stuffing as you go. Eyes and mouths are embroidered on with yarn. I used smaller bamboo needles for the grey and aqua Ted; larger needles for the hot pink one.

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Here is what they look like when finished (but mine are often a bit different, ’cause, as with cooking and sewing, I can’t seem to leave well alone; I am driven to mess around with perfectly good recipes, designs, methods, etc.!!)

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OK, that’s enough of creativity for now; I’m going to write a separate post about weather and what I’ve been up to with friends . . .

The word for Wednesday was . . .

. . . waste

I’ve been lazy/busy and so this word should really be for the week, not for Wednesday. Oh, well, I hope you all forgive me . . . (note: there are other thoughts in here besides strictly waste-related ones . . . those darn ‘blades of grass’ . . .)

What sparked this word was this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/05/wasting-food-stealing-poor-pope

I very much agree with the Pope on this and am thrilled that he is calling for global financial reform and other positive changes. This is very good news, if it is followed up by action.

I see waste so often; at work it was amazing. I got in trouble for suggesting that if people weren’t going to eat their ‘dated’ yogourt, etc., that they let me know and I would see it got to someone who would use it. I worked in the natural and organic food business some years ago and I know that food does not become inedible the minute the ‘due date’ arrives. I always check, of course, because sometimes even food with ‘time left’ has gone bad early.

Another way of not wasting food is to use leftovers to make frittatas, soups, stews, shepherds’ pies, and much more. I have always saved all the bones from chicken or turkey and used them to make stock. The hard part here is having so little storage room; a freezer would help a lot.

Small amounts of vegetables can be blended with liquid and used for making breads. I see that Dempster’s  now has a Veggie Bread that claims to provide half a serving of veg in every two slices. But I could do that for less . . .

Many large businesses here, especially retailers, do not recycle paper (no time, they say). The condo building (recently converted from apartments) that we live in only started providing re-cycle bins in the past year. Before that I would put Mum’s and my recycling items into blue bags; when I had two or three ready, I would call friends to pick them up. We would put them in the garbage collection area back of their house. I first began recycling long ago, when we had to separate everything (cans, glass jars, paper, etc.), then take it to a recycling centre and put each type into a separate collection box. At one time, when it first began, you had to pay for the privilege, too.

When I lived in Chilliwack, BC, there was a group called ‘The Gleaners’; they would come pick up any garden produce that you couldn’t use yourself. They came for the extra zucchini that I grew in the backyard. Not much of my garden did well, but I didn’t have much time for it, either.

I was not happy when I found out that untouched food in restaurants cannot be given to a local food bank; it’s a ‘health risk’. Apparently, throwing it in the dumpster, then letting homeless people dig through for whatever they can salvage is not a health risk . . .

For myself, I finish what’s on my plate (early training, along with ‘don’t take more than you can eat, come back for seconds if necessary’) or else I take the leftovers home for the next day. When I had a compost pile, anything I didn’t want to eat the next day went there to be recycled.

I don’t throw out my clothes, either. I mend if needed and I re-use the fabrics once they are past wearing. When I lived in the country, old clothes became what we wore for outdoor work. My grandmothers made quilts out of old clothing; none of what we do now (buying new fabric, cutting it up small, then sewing it back together). The art quilts are fantastic, and I plan to make some myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also make recycled quilts. My grandmothers often used old woolen things, like coats, for filling the quilt. Makes for heavy covers, but on an icy winter night, that’s often a good thing.

Instead of buying plastic ‘toys’ for kids, which often do nothing but clutter up the house and look ugly, we bought books and project kits or supplies (mostly supplies) for our own and other people’s kids. The books are often from the second-hand book store. My theory is that everything’s ‘used’ after you’ve had it for a couple of hours, so why the big deal? And my Mum often remarked that when we were toddlers, we were just as happy with a couple of pot lids to bang together and a cardboard box to climb in and out of, as with a new toy. Mum was good at helping us create fun from very little. By the time I was 9 or 10, she showed us how to tie a piece of string on one end of a long branch (about a foot back from the end, and the branch usually had no twigs or leaves; maybe a small bunch at the far end). We would straddle these ‘horses’ and gallop happily through the woods, across the meadows, down the driveway and back, making loud neighing sounds the whole way. (or we’d be cowboys . . .)

We made our own music and played board games of various sorts. All of us read a LOT!! As did my own two. And we mostly did things together, not each off in a separate room. Sundays we often went for a drive (cars were still a big deal then and no-one had thought about pollution or peak oil), sometimes to go fishing, more often to visit a favourite uncle and aunt, who had a son just younger than I was. Sometimes it was just a drive, off the main highways, with a stop at a lake to swim or an icecream and pop treat (those were fairly rare, even at 5 cents a cone for a single, 10 cents for a double scoop and 10 cents for the bottle of pop, it was still pricey for a family with nine kids).

We used to sing in the car. My Dad had a great voice and at home he played the guitar as well as singing, alone or with us joining in. We later had a small chord organ and all of us taught ourselves to play. Dad would accompany us while we sang.

We went to the drive-in to watch a movie most weekends when Dad was home. Mum popped popcorn and we ate it out of shared brown grocery bags. For a drink, we each got a glass of ‘Freshie’, which was the Canadian original to ‘Kool-Aid’. It was on the market from the 50s to the early 80s. Nowadays, I’d find something healthier to take along.

Friends of mine, whose three children lived at home back then, took their kids to the thrift stores every week or two. They would donate any clothes they had outgrown or gotten tired of, then were allowed to buy ‘new’ things to replace them. The littlest girl just loved it! I remember when she found a cute tulle tutu and wore it over everything; long skirts, jeans, pajamas; for weeks, it was her one constant garment. The parents bought nearly all their clothing at the thrift store, too. I’m quite tall, and in later years put on some extra pounds, so I’ve always had difficulty finding things that fit and looked ok on me. But that was true in the retail stores as well as the thrift stores. I’m not a fashionista, but I don’t care to look as though I thought the feed sack would do, either. My solution was teaching myself to sew. I hand-stitched (no electricity, then, by choice) so much of my clothing. I love long skirts and dresses, so that was the bulk of it. I still have those things, too . . . I saved money buying T-shirts and jeans in the mens’ departments. The sizing offers more choices (ladies’ pants just got wider but not longer, so I always looked as though I’d grown out of my things; and the blouses end a couple of inches north of my wrist; a look that only appeals if I was going for the ‘orphan Annie’ or ‘Little MatchGirl’ look . . . ) Sizing is a little better these days, but it’s still hard for me to find clothes I like that also fit.

I know some people are making ‘plarn’ (plastic yarn) by cutting plastic bags into long strips and using that for knitting or crocheting things like boot mats for outside the front door. Others are re-cycling old T-shirts into ‘Tarn’, using the same process. There’s not end to human creativity; and now we can share what we know and learn from others, too.

I’ve been lucky, I think. I never had the ‘new’ bug that so many people have. I like to get things the way I like them and then leave them that way. Occasionally, I might move some furniture to make room for a new ‘find’ or to accomodate a new hobby. The benefit to leaving things where they ‘belong’ is not tripping over them when you get up in the night.

I’ve been very happy salvaging from what others have thrown out, or intended to throw out. I have a few books from the late 1800s that I found in a house I was hired to clean out after the renters fled, leaving a few things behind. Three of them are music books with embossing and gilt lettering on the covers. One features English music, another Scottish Music and the third is all songs by the Irish composer Thomas Moore, who wrote “The Minstrel Boy”, still one of my favourites and it still makes me cry. Speaking of waste . . .

It’s not that hard to cut down on waste, at home, work or in public. And we can all put the pressure on companies to do more, and do it better, when it comes to re-cycling.

If you have a minute (and aren’t too busy un-wasting something LOL), share your favourite way to not waste or anything your community is doing to effect positive change in this area.

Last Saturday at my Crafty Friends’

Well, it’s been a busy week, catching up with friends and family. I had a good day with my crafty friend. She and her husband picked me up and drove me to the larger of the US dept. outlets. I wanted another brown/blue/orange Jelly Roll so I could make more patches for the quilt. Alas, no Jelly Rolls! None! I finally picked out some Fat Quarters in colours that will work (a couple were the same fabrics I’ve been using). I also chose three short zippers and some iridescent ribbon that I haven’t seen since Lewiscraft. More about the zippers in a day or three . . .

While there, my friends saw that the flooring they were planning to use in their basement was on sale, so they bought nine packages. We had fun fitting them into the car! Especially since I had brought three large bags with me! I should have taken a picture.

Next was a trip to a Dollar Store; my friend was looking for ‘weeds’ to put in the hats of the dolls she’s been making (photos in a bit). No weeds, but I found . . . MORE buttons! Two packs, each with several colours (five or six); one pack holds the long bugle beads, the other round beads in the same colours.
I blame the colours . . . (I won’t mention the large bag of red buttons and another of purple! Can I blame Kym for that? No, I thought not!)

Finally, back to their house to unload the flooring and our other items. Now I had four bags!

Their son and his fiancee came over to borrow movies, so I thanked her for the Easter bread (and asked for the recipe). She will copy it out for me and once I have it, so will all of you! She told me how to create the lovely shape, too. 🙂

By the time the young folks left, it as getting on towards suppertime, so my friend made lasagna and garlic bread while I sorted through one of the button cylinders I bought on Thursday at the fabric store:

20130408-215420.jpg (the pink container) it took quite a while, but I did find six; four the same and two that had a different design, but were in the same colour:

20130408-215625.jpg They look orange in the picture, but are an attractive pink; deeper in shade than the baby pink of the sweater and with a nice glow to them. Remember the cute little sheep buttons? Well, they are much too big for the knitted-in buttonholes, so I suppose I will end up making that sweater again; next time from washable wool and in off-white. Here’s a picture of the sweater edge with yarn marking the button placement:

20130410-043901.jpg The buttons, all sewn on:

20130410-044023.jpg Knowing me well, my friend made me weave in all the yarn endings. She was SO pleased to see another of my UFOs finished! . . . then I mentioned that I wasn’t sure where the two little pockets have got to . . . and I haven’t yet made the wee sheep that go IN said pockets . . .

While I was working on the cardi, my Crafty Friend (CF) was working on a set of “Jed” dolls (she has “Jenny” dolls in the works, too, but not ready for their photo op yet). The Jeds needed shoes, so my CF had made some; on Saturday she was adding the eyelets so they would lace up:

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20130410-051729.jpg A Jed, waiting for his boots to dry . . .

20130410-051837.jpg This Jed loves his new boots!

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Once all the boots were done and donned, the Jeds were ready for a group photo:

20130410-052218.jpg Did you notice their cute socks?? (CF’s husband donated some of his for the cause)

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One thing was still missing: the ‘weeds’! CF’s husband brought some real ones in from the snowy yard and CF sprayed them wirh varathane so they wouldn’t shed bits:

20130410-052804.jpg. She did this before starting on the boots; now the weeds were dry and ready to be glued onto each Jed’s hat:

20130410-053000.jpg it was late by then and I was packing up, so I don’t have a photo of Jed with the weeds. Next time . . .

We went out to the car to find this:

20130410-053225.jpg After scraping and brushing, I was taken home to find the vuew from our balcony was once again this:

20130410-053357.jpg well, that was next morning; the night shot was this:

20130410-053515.jpg Lovely to look at, isn’t it?

It was a day of fun, creativity, friendship and food, and I’m glad to finally share it with you!