Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Could it be ... ? Is it possible ... ?

Walking home from work today, I heard a sweet SWEET sound ...... water running down into a street drain! That's the first time I've heard that this ... dare I say it? ... shh! ... s p r i n g ! What a difference a couple of warm days have made ...... city sidewalks are reappearing! And what's that I see?Grass! Okay, DEAD grass, but where there's dead grass, there's the potential of GREEN grass! And look at this ...SHOES! I walked home in SHOES today! Of course, my toes won't be happy until they can go NEKKID in sandals. However, this is a step in the right direction! Do you think all these signs mean ... you know ... the S word???

The next part of this post is for you, "L". Yes, I do finish sewing and craft projects! Perhaps not in the order started. But eventually. For example, I have now finished ...... this apron from the cool medieval map fabric I found last Saturday. I also finished ...... this bear and maple leaf bag. It's really cool too! Pockets outside ...... and more pockets inside! Really handy for all my "stuff". Oh, and I also completed ...... the long-arm cross-stitching for this project. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to finish it yet. I'll keep you posted.

By the way, "L" ... how are those leather gloves coming along? What was that? Can you speak up a little ... I didn't quite catch your answer?
Oh. They're NOT QUITE FINISHED YET. And you've only been working on them for ... is that two years now?????

Saturday, 21 March 2009

First day of spring

What a week this has been! It began here ...
... with myself and one of our board members making a presentation about our non-profit organization to a group of individuals interested in forming a similar organization in their community. No, the ground was NOT that bare of snow while we were there! That area of our province generally has LOTS of snow. The mountain pass between here and there can be quite the adventure, so we decided to leave the driving to ...
... which was a good thing, except for our sore butts from sitting for so long! The rest of my week was very BUSY. Every time I take a couple of days out of the office, I swear it takes me twice that time to get caught up again. I still wasn't feeling quite caught up by Friday afternoon, so decided to go in today (Saturday) to finish a few things. Besides, someone needed to check on the fish. Remember when I told y'all about our inter-office custody battle over Rocco, the (MY) Betta following our office renos?Rocco is residing in my office (where he belongs). In order to "smooth the waters" ... so to speak ... we invested in another fish tank for our reception area. Let me take this opportunity to introduce y'all to ...
... Flash theBetta and a few of his little Neon Flashers. Okay, that didn't sound so good ... his Neon Flashettes? Hmm. I'll have to think about that one some more! Flash is very small compared to Rocco, but I'm sure he'll grow ... especially with all our loving staff members lavishing attention and food on him! Oh, if you look in the hole in that rock (left side of the pic), you can see the suspicious eyeball of Sucky the Pleco peeking out. Flash spent his entire first day in our office "flaring" at Sucky ... "I'm big and dangerous and don't you dare come out from under that rock!" ... it was quite amusing.
On my way to my office today, I just HAPPENED to get off the bus a couple of stops earlier than I usually do, and so just HAPPENED to walk past my local quilt shop. (It was TOTALLY a spontaneous coincidence ... HONEST!) While there, I found a couple of fabrics to go with my bear prints ...
... one is an indigo / black geometric print, and the other a small floral dark red print. Now I just have to figure out which one will look best as the bear PAWS and bear CLAWS in the actual quilt blocks. Of course, I just HAPPENED to notice a maple leaf print ...
... that goes with my third chunk of bear print fabric. I've decided this bear print isn't going to be part of my bear paw quilt. And that's okay, because I noticed this ...
... tote pattern in a magazine, and immediately imagined it with that particular bear print. Oh, and I also picked up a piece of this fabric today ...
... a zany medieval map complete with castles and knights. I intend to make myself a zany apron out of this. I love zany aprons, and my usual supply of zany aprons has become sadly diminished.
Did y'all think I rushed home from the office and began apron sewing / tote building / bear paw quilting? I did not. I'm very particular about prewashing (thus preshrinking) fabrics before I start sewing, and I'm not allowing myself to prewash the bear paw quilt fabrics until I finish up other projects currently on the go. So did I finish any of those projects today? I did not. I sewed wacky wabbits instead.
Seemed like a fitting Saturday afternoon project for this time of year. This one is made from Easter print fabric. I made several flannel wabbits too, and they're really cuddly soft. Tomorrow I must dig through craft bins to find suitable ribbon for big floppy bows for all these wabbits.
What a nice day it was today! It was actually warm enough for me to go out in a fleece jacket. I'm SO tired of bundling into layers and layers of heavy clothes and putting on extra socks and heavy boots. My feet need to get NEKKID! BRING ON THE SANDALS! STRUT THOSE TOOTSIES!! Still too much snow and ice around for sandals though. This is my driveway:
Most sidewalks around the city still look like this:
As you can see, the snow banks are still pretty high, and will take more than one sunny day to melt away. The most well-travelled streets are bare ...
... but storm drains are still frozen, so by this afternoon, there were a lot of small oceans like this:
Of course, small oceans freeze into large skating rinks over night! Another reason to stick with the winter boots for a while yet. Is it spring in your part of the world???

Monday, 9 March 2009

Apples past their prime and quilting incentive

I love apples ... nice crisp tart juicy apples. Nice crisp tart juicy apples are hard to come by this time of year. I bought apples a few days ago, but when I decided to eat one yesterday, they had already started to get soft and wrinkly. What to do with soft and wrinkly apples? Peel them (can you peel an entire apple in one long strip without breaking the peel? Inquiring minds want to know!), chop them up, and make APPLE BREAD of course! Unless you're in the mood for apple pie ... I was in the mood for APPLE BREAD. So I thought I'd share my favourite APPLE BREAD recipe with y'all. This recipe makes 2 loaves. First, peel and chop up 3 cups of apples. Set this aside.Second, in a large bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Set this aside.Third, in another bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1 cup applesauce, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.Stir these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until JUST incorporated together. Lumps are fine. Lumps are fine when you're making muffins too. In fact, this recipe can be cooked up as apple muffins.Fourth, fold in chopped apples. I like walnuts in my apple bread, so I folded in about 1 cup walnuts with the apples. Feel free to leave the nuts out if you prefer.Fifth (or is that sixth? I've lost count!), spoon into 2 loaf pans. I bought these cool miniature non-stick bundt pans at Christmas, and I've been using them instead of loaf pans for something different. Bake at 325 to 350 degrees F for about 50 to 55 minutes -- or until a knife blade "tests clean". Remove from pans to cool. At this point, you can sprinkle powdered sugar over them to make them fancy, or even drizzle with a bit of cream cheese icing.I prefer my apple bread warm from the oven with a (generous) dab of unsalted butter. Mmm mm mmm! Yummy! So that's what you do with apples past their prime. Now here's the quilting incentive story. I've long admired a BEAR CLAW or BEAR PAW QUILT BLOCK ........ but could never quite picture the right combination of fabrics to make me a BEAR PAW quilt of my very own. The BEAR PAW is a very special personal symbol to me. Over the years, I've collected numerous bear and bear paw images ... mostly aboriginal designs ... and each unique piece is truly a treasure. Naturally, any BEAR PAW quilt that I might create would have to be made from very special fabric. Y'all can't begin to imagine how excited I was to receive an unexpected parcel containing this fabric ...... aboriginal BEAR PAW symbols ... and this fabric ...... aboriginal sun symbols WITH BEARS! As well as THIS fabric ...... MORE BEARS, including grizzlies! There's about 3 yards of each fabric! WOW! Now if that isn't great incentive to get my tipsy coffee cups ...
... and Country Kids quilting projects finished, I don't know what is! However, because I could easily have a serious relapse of FEBRUARY FEVER, I am NOT prewashing this fabric ... that would just make it too tempting to start measuring and cutting pieces for quilt blocks. Instead, I've got it draped over chairs where I can see it (touch it, dream about it, plan it ...) every single day and hopefully become motivated to FINISH MY OTHER PROJECTS!!! I'll keep y'all posted ...

Monday, 2 March 2009

answers and updates

First, here's a couple of answers to comments left on my last post (or delivered via telephone for you dinosaurs afraid to post a comment via the InterWebz):
1. My essential oil warmer came from Body Shop. I have several. That particular one is my favourite. I like oil warmers because I can control the amount of "stink". Plus I really like candles.
2. Some of us ladies, obviously myself included, PREFER underwires in our bras. Unless you male types are REALLY in touch with your feminine side, just sit back and enjoy the results instead of puzzling over the physics, okay? Nuff said.
3. I'm guessing the wood thing you are curious about is my YARN SWIFT ... I suppose not everybody has one of these ...It's called an UMBRELLA YARN SWIFT 'cuz it works something like an umbrella. More on that in a moment. A yarn swift comes in very handy when knitting with wool that comes in skeins like this:REAL wool often comes this way. Skeins like this are NOT ready to knit from. Synthetic yarns tend to come in tidy little balls and all you have to do is find one end and start knitting. As y'all know, I prefer working with natural fibres, as in real sheep's wool. When you try to find one end of the wool in one of these skeins, you will end up with this ...... a giant apparently endless circle of wool. In the OLD DAYS, knitters had to find family members, partners, and friends to "volunteer" to hold the circle of wool while you wind it into a ball, like this patient young lad:Eventually, family members, partners and even very good friends learn to RUN AWAY when they spot UNWOUND SKEINS of wool on the horizon. When that happens, the knitter either has to clone themselves and have their clone hold the circle of wool, or use a yarn swift. I haven't mastered cloning me (and believe me, there are days when I could REALLY use a cloned me!), so I carefully untie the knots holding my wool in this circle ...
... and then put my unwound wool on the extendable ribs of my yarn swift, like so:Then I tighten the ribs ...... just like popping open an umbrella. A quick twist of this knob ensures my swift stays open and the circle of wool is held taut, like so:Then I wind one end of the wool around my fingers ...... and keep on winding ...... and winding. The "umbrella" twirls as I wind.It helps to put on some good music, or catch up on Coronation Street for the week while you wind. Eventually, you end up with a nice tidy compact ball of wool, all ready for knitting. Coronation Street was particularly good, and I was really ON A ROLL so I wound up all THESE balls of wool ...They're for my gurnsey cardigan.

And here's the update on my FEBRUARY FEVER:
  • gurnsey cardigan: 1 1/2 sleeves to go (Thought I had a photo, but apparently not).

  • pink and purple socks: one sock done, second sock started (yes, this is an extra-long sock ... I want to wear them inside boots).
  • long-arm cross stitch project: one half done, second half started.
  • guitar practise: has been happening ... okay, not EVERY day, but more frequently!

It's March, but we're still up to our belly buttons in frozen snow banks, so I'm still in the throws of February Fever. Stay tuned!