Sunday, 30 November 2008

More crafts

Once I get going on a craft "binge", there's just no stopping me. Naturally this obsession occurs when I SHOULD BE working on term papers and final assignments! What can I say? The sun was shining into my kitchen window ... which the plants loved (look at the blasted Wandering Jew on the right ... it's going to need a good trim back soon before it takes over) ... and it was just too darned nice to waste all that great natural light on studying! No? Okay, how about the kitchen cows TOLD ME TO??? (Cows are a very bad influence!) It started with the Christmas stockings, or ... more specifically ... with digging into my fabric bins for suitable fabric for the Christmas stockings. I came across this piece of stashed fabric ... 24 colourful coffee cups on a black background, 2 of each design ... and it preyed upon my mind. (Fabric will do that, especially when one can procrasinate about other tasks.)Naturally, I had to spend some time digging in my fabric bins to see what else I had stashed that might work with these colourful coffee cups. Here are the results: 2 pieces of hot pink that work with the hot pink in some of the coffee cups; 4 pieces of assorted browns, including 2 whole meters of plain mocha-coloured fabric, some cool retro multi-coloured polka dots, and 2 pieces that remind me of the swirling contents of various creamy coffee beverages when stirred.I also found a big chunk of a turquoise print that sort of works with the colourful coffee cups, and a piece of yellow ... just in case this project turns into something that might grace my kitchen table. My kitchen is all about yellow (and cows) don't you know! With a little imagination, I started envisioning a table runner with the colourful coffee cups forming the centres of the squares, and perhaps bordered by that plain mocha-coloured fabric ... oooh! quilted with white thread in that swirly stirred coffee pattern!Of course, THAT picture in my mind inspired me to MAKE a cup of mocha (which is somewhat darker than that mocha-coloured fabric 'cuz I don't like milk in my mocha) ...... 'scuse me now. I'm going to drink my mocha and contemplate this quilting project further!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

I blew it!

So much for Nablopomo! I came home from work last night, made a cup of tea, sat down in my chair to unwind ... and woke up about 4 am this morning. My refreshing cup of tea was cold ... but not spilled ... and my neck was stiff from sleeping in a weird upright position. I guess the week was more exhausting than I thought! Anyway, I didn't post anything yesterday. Good intentions, but my poor old body had other priorities.

So here are the craft pictures I've been promising ... Christmas stockings.First, I drew out the stocking shape I wanted on newspaper. I didn't realize until I started cutting my fabric that the newspaper headline said "day cares suffer as parents have to tighten purse strings". Kind of a bummer, eh? See my nice old-fashioned dress-maker's scissors? They belonged to my great auntie. I did a quilting class last winter, and everyone laughed at them ... they all used rotary cutters. The instructor said I wouldn't be able to cut straight lines or small details without a rotary cutter. Hah! My great auntie did her share of fancy sewing and quilting LONG BEFORE rotary cutters. These babies are razor sharp, and those long blades aimed straight cut really impressive straight lines. But I digress ...After that first stocking, I turned my newspaper pattern over. A photo of a local children's choir was definately more cheery! And here we are ... a whole bunch of fabric stockings cut out and ready to be sewn. Since the stockings are for my office staff and volunteers, I felt obligated to do plaid ones for the gentlemen ... the little old-fashioned lady carollers just didn't look masculine enough.Here I am sewing stocking halves together. Have you ever tried to snap a picture with your non-dominant hand and sew something at the same time? No easy feat!Here are the sewn-together stockings with seams clipped, turned right side out, and pressed ... ready for ...... adding the cuffs. The stockings themselves are woven fabric, but I used some inexpensive white jersey knit fabric for the cuffs.Next step was top-stitching the folded cuffs, and then ...... adding bias tape loops for hanging the stockings up.A final pressing, and ...
A gaggle (herd? bunch? coven?) of festive finished Christmas stockings. The entire project took maybe an hour and a half, and cost less than twenty dollars .
And here are the stockings hanging in our office. I'm not so sure about this location ... on the bulletin board under our "donors' tree" ... but I didn't choose where they would be hung. My office staff and volunteers all came in today (Saturday) to do the Christmas decorating, which I really appreciated as last year, I decorated the place on my own and didn't feel particularly festive about it. (I AM a Scrooge at heart ... mostly ... don't forget!) I arranged lunch for everyone, so it was quite the party atmosphere. My office has really changed over the past year ... for the better! And my staff and volunteers really deserve Christmas stockings (and the goodies Santa is going to be putting in them).
Okay, I've hung up my snowflake at home, and done the office party thing ... can I disappear until after Christmas now???

Thursday, 27 November 2008

November 27th

Sorry, no Christmas craft pix tonight. Long day at work. Important paper and final project due ...... headache from eye strain from reading. This should have been one of those "In five words or less" posts. Assignment deadline approaching ... must run.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

November 26th

I just realized that Nablopomo ... or whatever the heck it's called ... is about 4 days from over. This is day 26, and I have actually ... faithfully ... posted something every single day for the past 25 days! I had no idea I had so much trivial crap ... er ... INTERESTING STUFF to blog about.

This post is not what I planned. I was going to share pix of Christmas crafts. Okay, y'all can get up off the floor now. S'true. I did say Christmas crafts. But y'all have to wait until tomorrow now. My mind is kind of full of other stuff at the moment, so that's what I'm going to blog about.

Some time back I was busy grumbling about the task of convincing other people to be so thrilled with the Christmas season that they would make generous donations toward our Christmas hampers project. I really do dislike begging for money! I'm not a happy camper when it comes to fundraising. However, this week we've been realizing the fruits of my fundraising efforts, and today in particular was a very good day.

First, a local business called to say they would sponsor not one but TWO families (families = grandparents raising grandchildren), and could we please choose LARGE families 'cuz the more kids the more fun for their staff! This is the first time my organization has done this sponsor a family thing, and I wasn't at all sure how well it was going to be accepted. The community response has been astounding so far. THEN a local retiree group arrived at my office with ...... 75 hand-sewn shopping bags filled with goodies for our elderly hamper recipients! I have to admit the generosity of this community is very touching this time of year ... even to a Scrooge like me. And THEN I was invited to a local crafters guild meeting to receive ...... a substantial cheque toward revitalizing one of our organization's most important outreach programs! This is a photo of me receiving the cheque ... and that smile is absolutely 150% genuine. And look! My broken right foot actually fits in a shoe again! Okay, the shoe is unbuckled, but don't tell anyone. I also received a fabulous little perk after that cheque presentation ...... an invitation to stick around for a craft demonstration, and the gift of a kit to make my very own Cathedral Window Pincushion. How cool is that?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

November 25th

One month from right now, I hope to be ... well, not here! I hope to be doing what I like to do for Christmas. Y'all know I'm basically a Scrooge at heart, right? Well, you should also know that my heart is not COMPLETELY Scroogish! Close to completely, but not completely.

How can I claim this?

'Cuz I DECORATED my livingroom last night! See? No, NOT the Christmas Cacti ... but they are starting to bloom rather nicely, and just in time. They are both about double the size they were last year when I got them. Get a little closer to my living room windowsill ...... now do you see? No? Well for Pete's Sake look closer ...... surely you can see all my decorations NOW! That's right! The beaded snowflake in my Norfolk Pine! That's my official Christmas decorations. That's it ... that's the sum total. Unless of course you count Marge the Moose's festive red bow ...... although it isn't REALLY a Christmas bow. It just happens to be red. And festive. Like Marge.

Just wait until tomorrow ... I've got pictures of something that will really astound and amaze you (coming from a Scrooge)!

Monday, 24 November 2008

November 24th

Y'all will be relieved to know ......Tackle is safely back in his tank and giving me "the tail view" ... his typical pout-because-I-spent-the-night-in-a-bucket behaviour. He'll get over it in a day or two. He always does. Fortunately, his tank circulates quite well and only needs a major scrubbing out every couple of months. While on the topic of fish, I thought I'd take y'all for a tour of my office at work (This is my computer desk. I was busy preparing the agenda for our next Board of Directors meeting here) ...... and introduce you to "Rocco" (chief of office security and ambience) ...... and "Hoover the second" (chief of algae control).Rocco is a Lion-tail Betta, and beautifully coloured. Mostly brilliant blue with reddish-orange fins. He's quite sociable, and seems especially fascinated by ringing telephones. He can tell time too! He begs for his daily pinch of dried blood worms at 11:00 am precisely every day. Hoover is a Pleco. He will soon outgrow Rocco's bachelor quarters and go back to the Pet Store in trade for a much smaller cousin Pleco (who will become Hoover the third).
Would you like to look around my office a bit while you're here?


Okay. Please bear in mind I didn't DECORATE my own office. I INHERITED it as is. For example, here's my pen holder ...... I haven't been to Nanaimo since about 1969, and since that was the 1960s, I certainly didn't bring home a coffee mug. To the best of my knowledge, I have never owned a pencil with a pink fuzzy thingee on the end of it, but there it is ... in my Nanaimo pen holder. This is MY coffee mug ...... er ... tea mug. I get VERY cranky when someone sticks it in the sink with other dirty dishes (just ask my staff!). I left Douglas College in 2001, and this mug was a gift from my co-workers at the Academic Learning Centre. It keeps my tea hot ... even when I get busy and forget it for awhile ... and it has a nice stable shape that doesn't tip over easily. This is my regular desk ...... today was a productive day because you can actually SEE the surface of the desk. Well, at least part of it. I can keep an eye on our front office and reception area through that window on the right. We don't have a full-time receptionist, so some afternoons I get to play front desk person. See the chicken in the window? Wait ... we'll step outside my office for a moment ...... there. This is looking back in at the window sill behind my "IN" basket. I inherited this bizarre-looking chicken. He doesn't do it anymore (I think the battery died), but he used to do a very animated "chicken dance" complete with zany music when you squeezed his right wing! Yes, THAT chicken dance ... the one that everybody's uncle dances at wedding receptions! See those two little dark things between the milk bottle-shaped vases? A bobble head moose and a bobble head bear. Apparently SOMEBODY thought they were suitable knick knacks for a northern office! And if you think THAT'S weird ...... check this out. It's a TOILET SEAT! It's in its original packaging. It's lived under my computer desk since I started working here. The funny part is, it doesn't even fit the toilet in our building! Somebody explain THAT mystery to me! Believe me, I've TRIED to figure it out ... the nearest connection I can conjure up is to this picture on my office wall ...... no? Boat in the water ... toilet seat above toilet bowl water? You're right. There really isn't a connection. Have I added ANYTHING to my office decor? Yes I have! I bought this ...... at our local Farmers Market last summer. I figure a "Shopping Angel" is very badly needed in this very tacky office space! Thanks for visiting. Now go forth and find me a decorator!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

fruit bread, fish, and freaky things

This was another puttering day at home. I slept in and missed the bus to get to church on time ... perhaps not completely by accident ... so lounged about in my jammies to get caught up on Coronation Street. Do y'all watch Corrie? If you never watch another soap, you should watch Corrie! I've been a die hard fan since the 1960s! This is the sum total of my television viewingk, and since I don't own a television, I watch Corrie online via CBC.After Corrie, I decided to make fruit bread. I wanted something different from the usual "seeds and sticks" whole grain bread I make for myself. I don't make fruit bread very often as I don't always have the necessary ingredients ... I like it with golden raisins, almonds and candied peel. However, I must have been thinking ahead the last time I did a big grocery shop as I opened my pantry doors, and ... voila! ... all the necessary things. As I don't make fruit bread very often, I referred to my favourite fruit bread recipe. All those fruity goodies are expensive, so you don't want to take chances on goof ups. Or so I reasoned.

I don't know what I did wrong, but it DID NOT RISE! I thought maybe my yeast was getting too old, so I got dressed, got bundled up (it's really cold and windy here today), and walked to the grocery store for a fresh jar of yeast. I even checked the date on the jar to make sure I wasn't buying outdated yeast.

Fruit bread batch number two. It didn't look to me like it was rising enough, and sure enough...... it didn't. This pathetic lump should be four times that high. I haven't had a bread disaster in YEARS, and have no idea what I did wrong. Any suggestions to use up this heavy lump of baked sweet dough???

Cleaning the fish tank went much better than baking fruit bread.This particular chore usually DOES involve disaster. "Tackle" is a leaper, and if I don't keep a very close eye on him, he leaps out of the open tank ... or net ... or hand ... or bucket ... and goes carpet diving! I can't begin to tell you how many times I've had to chase him across the carpet, then rush him to the sink to rinse the dog hairs off him before putting him back in the water. For all that, he is still healthy and HUGE.He's spending the night in a big bucket with an aerator ... and a lid on top ... while his tank circulates fresh water for 24 hours. He is not a happy camper. He's so big ... longer than my hand, finger tips to wrist ... that there isn't much room to play in the bucket. He'll be unsociable for a couple of days after I put him back in his clean tank. Who says fish can't pout!

Once I finished cleaning up the muck and mess from cleaning the fish tank ... it's a very messy task, did you know that? ... I flopped in my favourite old chair with a cold drink. And happened to glance at the clock on my bookcase. It's a lovely hand-made wood burl clock. I bought it at a silent auction last summer because I loved the wood. I didn't really need the clock, but I'm a carpenter's daughter, and I appreciate fine wood and skilled wood work and finishing. As soon as I got the darned thing home, however, I regretted spending my money on it because it DIDN'T WORK. I went and bought a fresh set of batteries, and it still didn't work. Dead as dead can be. Not one tick, not one tock. I thought about replacing the clock works, but never got around to going all the ways across town to the Michael's craft store ... a two-bus expedition from home.

When I glanced at the clock this afternoon, IT WAS RUNNING! Not the correct time, but merrily ticking away. I reset the time, and it's been running ever since, and appears to be keeping the correct time just fine. WHAT THE HECK???

Saturday, 22 November 2008

In Five Words Or Less

Term end.Laundry day.Groceries.

Friday, 21 November 2008

November 21st

Friday night. Another work week done. And what a week! Long hours, stressful, but positive. Anyway, y'all don't want to hear about my work week. I've posted a couple of times this month about my new obsession with RED in my living room, so I thought tonight I'd share a little update on that topic.
Here's the RED moose from the Jysk store that started this whole thing.HIS name is Marge the Moose. Apparently HE has gender issues as no respectable bull moose would be caught dead in a fancy bow like that. Or so I've been told. Whatever the moose's issues are, I think he makes a right fine addition to the fireplace area!
Here's my sofa and all those lovely new RED cushion covers I sewed last weekend. Oh, and a snuggly knit blanket I found at "StuffMart" for $12. You would never know under all those cushions and blankets that my sofa is 1970s LIME GREEN!
I found this RED vase at "StuffMart" too.It cost $10. That's my aboriginal talking stick in it. My talking stick was a gift and it's very special to me. Oh, and one of my guitars to the left. I have a bad habit of sticking music sheets under the strings. One of these days I need to buy myself a music stand. Do you think music stands come in RED?
Here's the worn out old chair that sits beside my sofa, covered up with a blanket and made more comfy with a couple of RED cushions. The small cushion is the one that reminds me of my friend Sally.Did you notice the little stool in front of my chair? It's an old wood milk stool that I found at a junk store last summer. Looks right spiffy with its new coat of RED paint, doesn't it?
This is about to be an important part of my Friday evening ...... a glass of RED wine! I'm going to get cozy and read a book ... Clive Cussler's The Chase ... and unwind from my work week. Happy Friday evening!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

November 20th

When I came home from work yesterday, everything was shrouded in a thick cold fog. By the time I walked from bus stop to house ... takes about 4 minutes ... my coat and hair were as wet as if I had been walking in the rain. The temperature was hovering right at the freezing point, and must have dropped below freezing overnight. This morning, every tree, bush, and blade of grass was coated with eerie white ice crystals. It was a little spooky ... but beautiful!

I don't keep a blog roll ... y'know, that list of OTHER blogs you like to read ... on this blog. That doesn't mean I don't have a few favourites ... some I've been following for ages, and a few new discoveries. One of my new discoveries belongs to Suzanne ... a farmer's wife living 9 miles from anything and writing about all kinds of interesting stuff. (Go check her out ... and while you're there, turn up your speakers 'cuz she always has great music happening.) Suzanne just posted a book tag, and instead of playing tag the traditional way, has allowed her readers to tag themselves ... or not ... if they be interested. I ALWAYS love an opportunity to talk about books, so decided to tag myself.

The rules are:

1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share seven random and/or weird book facts about yourself.

3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

My seven random book facts:

1. The first book I truly fell in love with was Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. I was about 8 years old and had just experienced two very traumatic moves, away from the little rural town I had grown accustomed to, and then back there again. I was confused and lonely at the time. I had returned to 5th grade mid-year and didn't fit in with the 5th grade cliques that had already solidified for the year. I identified whole-heartedly with the main character!Since then, I've re-read Les Miserables 14 or 15 times ... I re-read it again last spring ... and each time I love it a little more. Something new or different catches my soul each time. I've seen the musical, seen two versions of the movie, but the book remains my all-time favourite.

2. I have a SECOND favourite book, Like Water for Chocolate. Actually, I read it (labouriously) in Spanish as well as saw the Spanish version of the movie before I read it in English.I think it loses a little something in the translation to English, but the English version is still a great story. Like Water for Chocolate weaves together PASSIONATE LOVE and LOVE OF FOOD ... what better combination is there?

#3. I love reading about food, and I especially love reading cook books.I love old cook books, ethnic cook books, small town and community or church group cook books. I OWN a lot of cook books, and it doesn't take much to convince me to collect yet another one.

#4. I own a lot of knitting books too.I love craft books in general, and knitting books in particular. Recently, I got my hands on a copy of Richard Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting ... mmm mmm! Celestial candy for this knitter/book collector!

#5. I get really excited over books about historical clothing! Some of that excitement centres around developing my SCA persona (Emma of Otterbourne ... early 14th century lady from the borderlands between England and Scotland). If you combine historical clothing and ethnic clothing in the same book ... ooh la la! baby! One of my favourite book possessions is Mary S. Parker's The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing.

#6. Sometimes I read Sci-Fi to escape. I particularly like reading about dragons. Shh! Don't tell anyone!
#7. Seeing people deliberately damage or destroy books causes me physical pain. I can't stand it. I hope I'm never subjected to a book burning 'cuz I'd probably dive right into the flames to rescue the books. It's like a sickness. Or maybe a curse. Or maybe a tragic memory from a past life.
So there you have it. I'm going to do the same as Suzanne and let you tag yourself if you're interested. Just leave me a message so I can check out YOUR fascinating book facts, okay?