My Days and Anniversaries

Hi, out there! I’ve been a tad busy and somehow the days just flew by and here we are, a month on from my last post. This after I promised myself to do better . . . oh, well . . .

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Sometimes the cat knows best . . .

By the way, if you are curious about where I am living, go here:

https://www.google.ca/maps/@49.8829593,-120.7609463,7.3z?hl=en

That link should show you the bottom west part of British Columbia, with Vancouver (BC) in the lower left-hand corner and Salmon Arm near the top and east of Kamloops. That will give you the general idea. If you zoom out you can see where we are in relation to the entire province.

And this link is a close-up of our area:

https://www.google.ca/maps/@50.6861583,-119.2831572,10z?hl=en

We live just west of the words ‘Grandview Bench’ and slightly east of the 97B Highway.

And for comparison, this shows the size of our province compared to the UK:

UK-BC Map 01

. . . and where I live should be somewhere along the French coast north-west of Paris and south of London. (now that I think about it, I should live there!)

I thought I’d throw those in here because I’ve had numerous remarks from people who don’t know my province. The towns where I live or have lived are generally quite small and not shown on average maps.

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Hoarfrost on the trees in the mornings was lovelier than this photo can show . . .

Back to what I was saying . . . The days have been cold here, as you can see from the photo, especially the last couple of weeks, but with some nice bits, too. I’ve begun attending a couple of handwork groups in Enderby, a smaller town than Salmon Arm (also fairly small, though) and about 15 minutes drive south and eastish (Is eastish a word? Guess it is now!) from here. And now you can see where those towns are ūüôā

My cousin’s wife S and I were out shopping for Christmas and stopped in a lovely wee coffee shop in Enderby. It’s called Country Coffee House and it’s too bad all you lovely people live so far away . . . I bet you’d like it as much as I do. Awesome home-made soups and equally delicious latt√©s, too. A super-friendly owner/operator and so is the group of crocheters; they call themselves the Happy Hookers and they are, too. I’ve been twice so far and there has been a small baby both times, not in the group, but the mums are friends with the group members, so I got to see them close up. Hard to look and not touch sometimes.

I finally began using one of the balls of yarn I bought on Leka Island in Norway (I was quite disappointed because it was spun in China, of all places, so not actually the Norwegian yarn I’d hoped for. But I never had the chance to shop at an actual Norwegian wool yarn shop, and at least this carries the memories of the little convenience store on Leka and of my time there. I have begun a free-form cushion cover (free-form because I am making it up as I go along; I’ve already had to frog it a couple of times when it wasn’t working out the way I wanted. Price you pay for not following directions . . .) The right photo shows just a bit of the latt√© I was drinking as I worked. I felt so reminded of Cooper’s Cafe in Skipton, where I met with Lucy’s Knit n Natter group at the beginning of November.

So . . . when S and I stopped in that day in December, I saw the sign about the Happy Hookers and realized they meet the same day as the Sit n Knit group meets at the library, which is a very short block up the street. Crochet in the morning and Knitting in the afternoon! How lucky is that? So three weeks ago cousin M drove me to Enderby in the morning. I had a great time with the group, then had soup and a bun, and left, second latt√© in hand, in time to join the knitters at the library. I was first there that day, so got to sit in a wing-back chair right next to the electric fireplace!¬† I’ll have to take a photo of the fireplace and the chairs to share next time I go.

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I love wing-back chairs!

Members of both groups were SO friendly and welcoming! And the groups are open as to what one brings to work on, so I saw both knitting and crochet there, and I think there was a piece of cross-stitching at the knitting group.

My cousin was great about coming to pick me up again when the group was over. Both groups meet for about two hours each, so it makes for a good day out. And the cousins get a day at home without me. We get along fine, but I’m still a visitor . . .

Two weeks later, I spent the day in Enderby again and I’ll go next Tuesday, as well, barring blizzards and/or freezing weather. We’ve not had a real blizzard, but I got up today to a gentle snow falling and I think it’s still coming down . . . still, this winter will be very short compared to winters in Edmonton, and it’s been surprisingly warm for the season, with not much snow until after Christmas. I don’t mind, really. We will need the moisture in the ground this summer when we are back on forest-fire alert. Not looking forward to that, I can tell you!

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This was taken shortly before Christmas! Not the usual here; last year we had about six feet of snow over the winter. This year it only started in January, really.

In other Crafty News lately:

The black and white Did I mention that I bought fabric at some point in January? And then some more . . . no idea what got into me ūüôā

The photo in the bottom right corner is what I bought when I was first back here. I’d borrowed a book about making “Inchies” and felt inspired. Inchies are tiny quilts an inch on each side (2.5 cm for you youngsters). Then my cousins gave me a gift certificate for Fabricland for Christmas. And by then I’d borrowed another book, this one on making cloth bags, “The Bag Making Bible”. I fell in love with the bag on the cover, decided to buy fabric to make it, then fell in love with more . . . and the post-Christmas sales were on, from 70% off to “buy one metre, get two free”. The poppies on a dark background really wanted to go home with me and then I saw the black and white with poppies, ladybugs and more . . .

The black and white fabrics are actually going to become bags, but the first fabric I chose pulled at me to make it into a summer dress, and when I couldn’t find more of it in our store here, Cousin M drove me all the way back to Vernon (a half hour or so each way), where I bought the first length, so I could buy more. And while in the store the second time . . . I saw the same pattern, Queen Anne’s Lace, on a blue background (the first, in the larger photo above, has a background of deep red)! And I saw another lovely floral, too, the one on the left of the top small picture. I’ve had my eye open for large florals for some time now, and this is the first I’ve seen of any. The fabrics in the bottom right photo are likely to end up in bags.

I have my patterns traced and ready to use now. And the fabrics have all been ironed (I really, really love ironing, especially fabrics!) But I hit a snag when I tried to decide what dress pattern I wanted to use. At first I was thinking of one of my patterns from Sense & Sensibility, especially the Romantic jumper (see the link) or the Edwardian dress, but somehow I don’t see those as suited to large florals. But I did like the idea of making a sort of sundress that I could wear over a long-sleeved white blouse, partly because I bought a cotton blouse that I really like in Oslo while shopping with my cousin Tove and it would be perfect under a jumper. (In Canada a jumper is a sleeveless dress worn over a blouse, not what we call a sweater, which is a jumper in other countries).

Still in Crafty territory:

I don’t know if any of you will remember the Fair Isle style socks I started before I went away last spring. I was using the recommended size of needles and they were looking all right, with only a few errors in the patterns. (I started these before I had my cataracts fixed and actually thought that chocolate brown yarn was black!) Anyway . . . after reading what Dr. Snail recommended on her blog, The Snail of Happiness, where she said that using the smallest possible needles would result in a thicker, longer-wearing fabric, I decided to frog all five of my partly-completed socks. So far I have only found three of them and above you can see what they looked like and the beginning of wee balls of yarn after the frogging began . . .

I have begun another pair of socks, well, one sock so far, and am still working on the toe. This time I’m making another change: I’m using two strands even for the toe and heel, partly to keep the sock consistent in thickness but mostly to give me the extra cushioning. I love comfy socks, especially in the winter!

I’m so¬†glad I knitted some mitts for myself while I was in Yorkshire, too. I’ll share the story behind those in another post, though. They are wonderful to wear right now, but not quite as warm as I’d like, due to the fineness of the yarn. So I’m planning on making some larger ones to wear over them next year if we get another really cold spell . . .

The last photos today are of my trip up to Stirling, the campsite (with the blue tent I borrowed from my housemate of three days), my wee sheep companions¬† Flora and Anastasia seen here peeking out of my sandals, where they stowed away so they could see Runrig for themselves (another story that will have to wait) and a couple of shots from Friday and the first night’s concert. I have no photos of the Saturday at all. I’d misplaced my iphone (thought I’d lost it) and used only the camera. Those are among the photos I accidentally deleted in late September. I’ve been afraid to look at my iphone photos until today, worried I might not have any from the gig. So I’m quite happy to have these, at least.

Music is still a major part of my day, as you likely expect. Runrig are having the most fabulous “Poll of Polls” on Twitter right now. I missed the first couple of days, but have taken part every day since then. Each day they take the songs from one of their fourteen studio albums, divide them into three or four groups and have us vote for the one we like best in each group. The winners move up to Round Two and eventually we will know which song is the all-time favourite of Riggies around the world. It’s been lovely, revisiting the music itself and also remembering those two nights last August. It was exactly six months ago on the 17th and 18th of this month, only a couple of days ago. That was the first anniversary I had in mind when I began writing this post.

The others are what would have been my Mum’s 96th birthday tomorrow (Wednesday) and my Aunty’s 99th birthday on the following Sunday. It’s hard to believe they will have been gone three years and four years, respectively, this April. interesting that they were born four days apart and died two weeks apart. Bittersweet days, for sure, as I remember the companionship we shared for so long. I miss them both so much. April is also the first anniversary of my last Auntie’s death and she would have been 94 this coming May. I was lucky to have as much time with each of them as I did, though, and that is what I shall focus on this year.

Here’s a Canadian song for you, sung by Bruce Guthro of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, who was lead singer for Runrig for the past twenty years. He has a lovely voice and this is an old favourite song of mine in any case. Farewell to Nova Scotia

Another of my Canadian favourites: Lucille Starr (born in Manitoba, but grew up in BC. Quand le Soleil dit Bonjour aux Montagnes, also known as The French Song back then.

More Canadians:

Kate and Anna McGarrigle singing Dancer With Bruised Knees

One of Kashtin’s most beautiful songs, Ishkuess

And, of course, Buffy Sainte-Marie. This is No No Keshagesh  and

Darling, Don’t Cry

I’ll leave you with Judy Collins and Cook With Honey

And I’m off to listen to more Runrig and then vote . . .

All the best to each of you. See you soon!

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 . . .¬† ūüėČ

. . . 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 macram√© 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 . . . ūüôā 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 Fr√ľhlingskabine 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.


23 Thorns tea-towel

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.

Mr. 23 Thorns  Mrs. 23 Thorns

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)!

Master 23 Thorns  Miss Carmen Miranda

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.

23 Thorns kids n elephant  23 Thorns kids road trip

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. !!!¬† ūüôā

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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A lovely sunset a couple of days ago . . .

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I was watching Doc Martin yesterday night and this lovely cottage caught my eye . . .

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I have fallen in love! Yes, a new mystery writer! From Australia, too! The first one takes place between Melbourne and Western Australia; the second has an anti-hero (one of those bad guys everyone loves) whose hiding place is on Tassie! Launceston is mentioned, along with other places familiar from The Road to Serendipity. ¬†ūüôā

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On Friday I got busy and organized the flours into our favourite gallon sized glass jars, which are kept in the bottom of a cabinet, so away from light. Then I made a half recipe of the Feather Buns, this time with more whole wheat flour and also a good two cups of rye flour. Well, the dough didn’t rise and it didn’t rise and it didn’t . . . you get the picture . . . Did I use a recipe? Silly question! Nope, I ‘winged it’ (and if Tom or Will of the Technoblog are reading this, they will be quaking at the thought of me messing around with a computer . . . LOL However, finally I quit waiting for the miraculous rise, as the dough felt ok, just not high and puffy; into the pans it went and then baked. What a yummy aroma, too! It’s quite heavy, and the buns look like dense muffins, both inside and out, but they are chewy and tasty, so I’ve only got the two loaves left now. No good for sandwiches, but I may try them toasted tomorrow for breakfast.

The next time I use the rye flour, it will be to make a Norske rye bread; I got the link to the recipe from Rabid Little Hippy.

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Two days ago, I woke up to this . . . yep, more white stuff! Luckily, it didn’t stay past noon. Still . . .¬†¬†¬† Good thing I¬† don’t have a garden, isn’t it?

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Yesterday morning early . . . thick mist . . . lovely! Brings with it a bit of heimthra . . .

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Earlier today . . . I do love clouds and living high lets me see some awesome ones!

And then . . .

Mum went down to check the mail and guess what she brought back for me?

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Happy Mail!! I was quite excited . . .¬† ūüôā

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On first opening it, I didn’t see what I had been expecting; instead, there was something¬†I never ordered! Sarah of Fr√ľhlingskabine Micro-Farm¬†had tucked in a lovely handmade market bag! You can see my lovely Mum holding it up on the right.

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And, inside the bag . . . my raven amulet necklace! Beautifully inked by¬† hand, not printed. Oh, I just love it! Ravens mean a lot to me and so does wheat and pine trees (and you’ll notice there are clouds there, too!)

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My happy mail . . . bringing joy to my heart and a smile to my face!

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I’ve been doing a wee bit of hand-stitching again; not much, just while I was downstairs with my Aunty. Bet you can’t guess what this recycled item is / will be . . .

Let the class in Anticipation 201 begin . . .

And speaking of Anticipation, I see that the lovely Pauline of The Contented Crafter has blogged about her Happy Mail, so now I can add a bit, too . . .

This was my first-ever Skype session and was it fun!

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Pauline, wearing her purchases . . . you can just see Mr. Orlando on the couch behind her; he slept through the entire chat . . . we’ll meet face to face another time, I’m sure.

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My Mum again, talking with Pauline and explaining the ‘bag bag’ which she knitted and especially wanted to send along with the scarves. Mum knitted enough of these to fill a shopping trolley. They are good for organizing shopping bags, kids’ socks or underwear, toys, anything that can be rolled up small or that fits through the opening. What fun it’s been! Sending Happy Mail beats receiving Happy Mail, in my books . . .

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I know this is late, but here are some May flowers for your May Day; enjoy!

And another Mumford & Sons song for you, too . . .

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 . . . ūüėČ 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? ūüôā 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 . . . ūüėȬ† 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. ūüėȬ† 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!!¬† ūüėČ 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 . . .¬† ūüėČ

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.¬† ūüėČ

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.

Heads up if you sew or quilt:

Sew Sisters fabric shop has a sale on! Even if you’re not buying fabric at the moment for your sad and diminishing stash (LOL), you will want to see these gorgeous patterns. I borrowed one picture to show you the set I like best, but there are other sets, too. Check ’em out!

http://sewsisters.blogspot.ca/2013/06/sale-on-art-gallery-fabrics.html

fabrics alhambra II

That ‘Crazy’ Quilt

I finally completed the nine patches for a quilt top! I’m not happy with the final, square, patch, as I couldn’t find enough of a co-ordinating colour to make it, and the store hasn’t had Jelly Rolls in stock for weeks. I finally used strips from a similar, but not matching, Roll. Oh, well . . . it will still keep someone warm . . .

20130504-075614.jpg Here is the final patch; see the dark square in the centre? When I was done, I felt it was TOO dark, so I unpicked the stitches and replaced it with a lighter block:

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20130504-081553.jpg They won’t be assembled in that order. First I need to buy some plain brown cotton fabric for sashing (separating the pieces with strips of another colour). There will be three rows, each with a square, a medium length and a long piece, but not in the same order. I’m not sure when I’ll get the fabric; the finished top may not happen ’til June or later. But I’ll share pictures once it’s done.

And I may still change the outside row on that last square . . .

The Pillow; and Cooking

I haven’t done much crafting over the last couple of days; I did make a lovely Shepherd’s Pie (what my Down Under friends would call a Cottage Pie), which all three of us enjoyed:

20130411-085138.jpg Here it is after supper:

20130411-085217.jpg . . . and that’s before Mum had any (she eats later than her sister)! I found a recipe at Simply Recipes, then (of course) made a few changes, some deliberate LOL. I had planned a meatloaf, so the extra lean ground beef was already in a bowl with breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic salt, white pepper and poultry seasoning (’cause I like it, that’s why!). Plan altered, I went ahead and mixed it all up. Melted a bit of butter in the cast iron skillet (at medium heat) then sauteed finely chopped onion ’til it began to brown and added about 2/3 of the meatloaf mixture, breaking it up with our smallest wooden spoon. Meanwhile, I set the oven to 450 to pre-heat and buttered an oval casserole dish. When the meat was browned, but still soft, I turned it into the dish. More butter melted in the pan, then the remaining meatloaf mixture was added and broken up. Next I added a cup and a half of frozen mixed veggies (I’m more adventurous when cooking only for myself, so use what you like in the way of veggies. I stirred from time to time. Then I read skimmed the recipe! I recommend reading the recipe first, but I myself usually skim it, often, as now, when halfway through and working from hazy memory . . . Anyway . . . beef broth was called for! We never buy it, but do keep chicken broth powder on hand. Good thing I’d added the poultry seasoning, eh? So I added a heaping teaspoon to a cup of boiling water, then poured a bit more than half into the skillet to simmer with the veg and meat mix. It reduced fairly quickly and I dumped spooned the whole thing over the meat and onions and stirred it all up. I poured the rest of the broth over the mix and stirred some more.

Back up a bit here: as the first set of meat cooked, I took the leftover mashed potatoes from the fridge. Someone had been using them for suppers past! Only about a cup was left . . . too late to peel and cook more . . . what to do? Easy solution: I ‘baked’ two large potatoes, scooped out the insides (I ate the peels; YUM!!) and added that to the mashed in the bowl; a bit of butter and a dash or two of canned milk (use what moves you); then I beat ’em up with a fork! When the lumps were gone, I used a large spoon to make little mounds, spaced out, all over the meat/veg mixture. After smoothing it out so the meat was completely covered, I used the fork to shape lines and peaks all over (because they are so decorative after baking, when the tips of the peaks and ridges have browned a bit).

Popped the dish into the oven, turned the oven down to 400F and set the timer for 30 min so it would bake, bubble and brown . . .

15 min later, I could tell it was bubbling; a distinct smoky scent was drifting into the living room, where I was stitching on my pillow. I hastened to the kitchen, checked the oven for flames (none!) and formed a makeshift tray from aluminium foil. Slid that between the two oven racks and returned to my stitching.

15 minutes more and it was done. There wasn’t much ‘drip’ on the foil, so I brushed that off, turned it over and voila! the drip tray became a cover . . .

We all enjoyed ‘pie’ for supper ūüôā

Then it was back to crafting:
A couple of days ago, I dumped one of the button cylinders into a small dish my CF kindly gave me

20130412-084507.jpg and picked out all the green buttons that were
(a) one of a kind and
(b) the right size

20130412-084815.jpg I don’t know why, but I changed my mind here and instead picked out buttons that somewhat matched the variety of colours on the batik side. I chose seven I liked and started sewing:

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I had planned to use satin ‘rat-tail’ to form button-loops, but all the store had was white. So I bought two hanks of embroidery floss (different greens) and cut three long pieces to braid. After a couple of inches I saw that it was too thin and, anyway, would take too long. But I had a crochet hook in my bag of tricks . . . I chained the whole length in no time, then began sewing it on:

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20130412-090704.jpg I began to wonder if the chain was long enough, but resigned myself to making a second if needed (passing lightly over the question of making a decent join). Somewhere the sun was shining, though:

20130412-091006.jpg that’s the last button, my friends, and you can see that the chain is just long enough, and enough ‘tail’ left over to tuck inside and secure with a few more stitches . . . resulting in this:

20130412-091228.jpg another FO!!

Here’s the pillow on my cousin’s forest green recliner:

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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. ūüôā

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!