Friday, July 29, 2011

Flower power!

The closet is done. We took some -- okay -- quite a few bags to Goodwill yesterday morning. Now I have to move on to the re-organizing phase. This takes me forever. It will be days before I finish. More on that later.
But, I needed to learn something new. Wendy, the Crafter's Apprentice, has issued a challenge that has its own button. Learn a new technique (LANT) encourages the expansion of brain cells while amazing and delighting ourselves.
For my LANT, I cued up this youtube video to make those cute little five petal flowers that seem to be blooming everywhere on the blogosphere.  I am not kidding when I say that it took me back to the summer day when I was 10-years-old and trying to learn crochet from Aunt Rita. Her hands seemed to fly through the yarn. She claimed she was going slowly too. I tried all afternoon to progress beyond the nine foot chain I seemed to have created.
I greeted my Uncle Dave on his front porch steps, crying over my own grubby ball of yarn, hook dangling uselessly in my fingers. He told me that I would one day learn to crochet, but maybe that day wasn't the day.
I loved Uncle Dave. He was from Glasgow, Scotland. Almost no one could understand his accent, but he was the most patient man God ever made. His heart, while big, did not work well. He died from heart failure not long after our chat on the porch.
Yarn and I have never been lifelong friends. I am a thread and floss girl. However, the flower thing appealed to me, so yesterday was the day I would learn to crochet something. I found some bamboo yarn in the closet in various colours. Since it does not have the texture of yarn or wool, I decided I would give the flowers a go.

So sad!
A bit better!

Much better!
The first flower was so sad. But, then the first pancake you make is always sad looking too. I switched hooks, yarn (a rayon blend this time).
The second was middling effort, but at least I was learning the pattern.
For the fourth one, I switched hooks and yarn yet again. I think the result is delightful.
Now, I will keep doing them until I am confident in the technique. They will likely start showing up on my work soon -- as long as I can make them better with each one I do.

Sure, I've had to ice my tennis elbow, but I learned a new thing! Can the installation of zippers in lined bags be far off?
The mind boggles...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

... from deep within the depths of the den closet

Hello. I am busy rediscovering the contents of the den closet at the moment. This is the closet where everything we didn't have a place for went when we moved seven years ago. In the Bible, all large tasks seem to take place in the seventh year, so I supposed this clearing out is meant to be.
I had no idea how large this closet is -- it is sort of like Dr. Who's TARDIS -- it is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. However, extensive editing is going on.
This was 20 years ago...
It is excessively warm up here on second floor. My dear daughter and I are doing our best to get it finished today. It is slightly disconcerting that I can still remember where I used to put things in the old house, and when I find them in the closet, I can still picture where they used to be in our old place.
Anyway, enough nostalgia. The pile for the Goodwill run is looking pretty healthy, and I feel less like I could appear on an episode of Hoarding, Buried Alive. All in all, my time is pretty productive at the moment, though I am in the throes of de-cluttering as opposed to creating stuff. I consider this process a necessary downside of being creative. Sigh.
There will be no photos of this process. It is just too embarrassing! However, here is a photo of dear daughter and I in the old days, working together on a cooking project -- which is more fun, but less cathartic.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nothing rhymes with orange simple syrup

Christmas, 1962:  I probably got everything I wanted
This adorable child is me, back in the last century. Back when you could get the things you wanted by asking Santa. Now, I guess I have to make what I cannot find. Thank heavens I like that sort of thing!
In this century, I am a lot older and I seem to spend a lot of time looking for the things I think I need -- like instant orange cappuccino mix. I hunted high and low for it today. I think I must finally acknowledge that they are either not making it anymore, or not selling it anymore in my area.
Now, I realize there are greater needs in the world than instant orange cappuccino mix. However, it was  a little treat I afforded myself when days were going a bit rocky.
It seems I have a lot of those days now, as I try and help my mother through dementia. On the days I really miss my mom, I can do with that orange cappuccino.
As I scanned the shelves for what was not there, I came up with a do-it-myself idea.
I made my own orange simple syrup, which I will add to my warm skim milk and instant coffee. Yep, there is sugar in it the syrup. I use only a teaspoon -- and not all the time -- a treat now and then is okay.
Here's what I did:
1 cup sugar
1cup water
Stir together in a medium saucepan until sugar dissolves completely. Boil on high for five minutes, but do not stir. Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool in the saucepan. When it is warm, stir in 3 tsp of pure orange extract. Cool completely and pour into a squeeze bottle. Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
I wonder whatever happened to that toy piano?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Scented strawberries finished on FNSI

A bumper crop of sachets!
Last night's Friday Night Sew In was a lot of fun.
Gathered around my kitchen table were Sandra, Amanda and Berni (my vintage Bernina 830).
We had some delicious blueberry squares made by Sandra, some fruity cool Sangria (brought home to the feast by the darling husband), and a lot of laughs.
I made more than a dozen lavender/rose sachets using my homemade potpouri, and the pattern and instructions from Sew Pretty Homestyle.
These whipped up pretty quickly and they smell wonderful, if I do say so myself (and I do). I gave Sandra and Amanda one each -- mostly because Sandra was tempted to "steal" one and we can't have that! :-)
These little strawberries are a good size for settling in a drawer or I might attach some cording to the top so I can hang them in a few closets around here that could use some freshening up.
The scent is more delicate than commercial potpourri, but I like the gentle fragrance. When the scent waffs away, they can be "recharged" with a just a few drops of essential oil.
From my browsing around the web, it looks as though lots of folks also enjoyed FNSI -- and it was wonderful to be able to visit with you and see what you're up to!
Yesterday afternoon, I sang at the funeral of a lovely woman who had been a nurse in our community for many years, and before that with the Canadian Armed Forces.
Judy was a special person who took the time to listen to people and then gently guided them along a path to wellness. She treated her own journey home with the same gentleness, and cared for the people who cared for her with heartbreaking grace.
Earlier this year, when she learned her disease was terminal, Judy arranged a special evening of prayer and thanksgiving for her life. Family, friends and colleagues came together to share stories, read prayers and poetry and sing the music that she loved. At the end of the evening, we had a cocktail party, because she loved a good martini. Judy also loved all things handmade. And so, while I shared a laugh with my pals, and thought of you all working away on your projects, I also thought of Judy. She was a patron of our art and a wonderful steward of mankind.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Lavender sachets -- comin' up!
For tomorrow night's Friday Night Sew In -- to which I have added the prefix Freakin' Hot -- I will be making some little lavender sachets shaped like strawberries.
The idea comes from Sew Pretty Homestyle -- I have so far harvested pounds of lavender from the garden so far this year. It has been warm all spring, so my little beauties began producing by the second week of May and have been going strong ever since. Come September, I will be making potpourri the way some people make spaghetti sauce.
The Freaking Hot part comes from the fact that today in Toronto it was 50 degrees Celsius with the humidity factored in. Humidity is always factored in here. We have a giant lake to the south of us and several in-land lakes and bays. We have all the humidity you could ever imagine.
Anyway, today was a record breaker.
I have set up shop in the dining room, close to the central air vent. We never eat in there until Christmas anyway, so why not?
I am doing the machine sewing of the strawberry leaves and bodies, and then I will do the filling and hand finishing tomorrow night when my partners in fabric crimes, Sandra and Amanda come over to play. I am turning the AC up tomorrow night. Creature comforts and all that...
I have heard the my daughter is coming home early from her Great Northern Adventure because of the more than 100 forest fires currently burning in around the area in which she is working. The Ministry of Natural Resources has been relocating people for days now, but now the community she is in is also threatened by the smoke. She is dreadfully upset because she has loved her job, but we are looking forward to having her home safe and sound soon. Send everyone involved good thoughts, please. I can't imagine trying to fight fires in this heat.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Christmas in July....

 I am back from two weeks R&R at the family cottage. It was truly restful. I read by the lake, on the dock, on the deck, and anywhere else I pleased.
I had some craft books with me, my e-reader and some magazines. I relaxed and got inspired all at once.
While I was away, I noticed some new folks have come to visit Heaven is Handmaid. Welcome to you!
I hope you enjoy your stay, and thank you so much for stopping by.
My cousin, recently returned from a Newfoundland visit, came to the cottage for some R&R as well. She brought me Jam-Jams -- delicious with ice cold milk -- and some summer savory. This is essential for the Christmas turkey. Sure, you can get savory in Ontario, but it is not the same as this one. I was running low, so this jar will help ensure successful Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
When my cousin and I returned home, we got busy on her grandson's Christmas stocking. (See, the theme is developing here...)
Her grandson lives in a sunny paradise, so we wanted to make his Advent Calendar stocking more tropical. Gone is the snowflake marker, replaced by a wooden palm tree. The Splendid Sandra machine embroidered his name for us onto some tone-on-tone white fabric, and I hand embroidered the applique band on to the cuff.
We went to our local quilt store to buy some buttons, and some new bobbins for the embroidery machine.
Finally, although it is not Christmas quite yet, Wonderful Wendy recently sent me some Tilda fabrics AND my favourite Cath Kidston prints, along with two of her beautiful handmade cards.
It was such a lovely surprise to find the package waiting for me.
So here's a big shout out to (and hugs) to her for making my holiday return that much more special.