Friday, January 28, 2011

just a photo

I'm still playing and experimenting with post-processing. There's so much to learn.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

iron craft 4

My mug cozy, created for week 4 of Iron Craft.

It's not as beautiful as I had envisioned, but it works.

I wet-felted some wool roving around the mug, and then waited for several days for it to dry fully. I patched up some holes, and gave it some additional shaping using some felting needles; then I embroidered with blanket stitch around the top, and added some little stars for fun.

The bit that holds it in place behind the handle is a piece of covered elastic, with a button sewed down on each end. I cut button holes in the felt, and buttoned it together from behind. I rather like how that turned out.

And the cool feature about this mug cozy is that it also acts as its own portable coaster. The thick layer of felt underneath the mug protects whatever it's put down on. So no scorch marks, or condensation (should I happen to use the mug for a cold beverage in the summertime). Bonus!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Burns' Night

We celebrated Burns' Night this evening with the traditional Scottish meal... haggis with neeps-and-tatties. There was a green salad thrown in as a nod to good nutrition, but tonight was all about the meat (so-called) and starch.

Mmmmm, yum!

I know, I know. The idea of haggis is very off-putting to many. But really, the notion that some parts of animals aren't fit for eating is a fairly new one.

Our grandparents lived through the Depression years, where waste simply wasn't an option. My parents were immigrants, and couldn't afford to be picky.

Even I, a farm-raised girl of the 70s/80s learned the necessity of not wasting food of any kind.

We ate hearts, gizzards, livers... although I believe my mom drew the line at kidneys. Even chicken-foot soup showed up semi-regularly at our house.

Anyhow... I don't know quite where that little rant came from... this evening we ate haggis. And it was really really good!!

But the piece de resistance of our little meal was dessert. Naturally.

This is Cranachan.

It's kind of an unpronounceable name. Lots of hissing and spitting in the back of your throat. Most Scottish words are like that. Kind of like German.

But I digress. Again.


Cranachan is a heavenly mixture of toasted oats, honey (heather honey, if you can get it) raspberries, and whipped cream.

It's not a diet dessert.

But you should make some and eat it. You won't regret it.

And it's easy, too. You almost don't need a recipe. But I'll try to make one up anyhow. I based mine roughly on several that I found online, and it was amazing.

So here goes:

You'll need:
  • 2 oz oatmeal (pinhead if you're in the UK and can get it... I just ran regular rolled oats through the food processor til they were not-quite-flour-sized.) 2 oz, for those who don't have a scale, works out to about 1/2 cup.
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or 2 Tbsp whiskey if you're not serving it to children)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) raspberries
  • up to 1/2 cup honey
Prepare the components:
  • Spread oats thinly on a cookie sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven til they're lightly browned and fragrant. Allow to cool before assembling the cranachan.
  • Whip the cream with the vanilla (or whiskey) till thickened. Set aside.
  • Mash raspberries til they're chunky. Stir in a dollop of honey.
To assemble:
  • Spread 1/3 of the cream on the bottom of the serving dish.
  • Sprinkle with 1/3 of the toasted oats
  • Drizzle with a bit of honey
  • Dollop 1/2 of the raspberries on top
  • repeat the layers (cream/oats/honey/raspberries)
  • Spread with remaining cream
  • Use a knife to slice through the layers and marble them lightly. Don't mix too much. Level the cream mixture nicely in the bowl.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining oats, and drizzle with some more honey.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 - 4 hours.
So there you have it. Eat it. Enjoy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

date night

Nothing fancy... just him and me at the coffee shop. I have tea, he has steamed milk (plain); we play cards (I win). Then he plays solitaire while I take pictures. We chat. It's all good. Very very good.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

iron craft 3

As late as this morning, I was lazily looking at pictures of buntings, hoping that inspiration would strike me. The week three challenge for Iron Craft was, indeed, buntings.

Then suddenly I realized. Today is Thursday. The deadline for IC3 was yesterday.



So my choice was either to blow it off, and tell myself that I really didn't want to make a bunting; or to scramble something together.

I scrambled.

Killed two birds with one stone, even.

These fabrics are all from the quilt top that I made for Ellie a couple of weeks ago. After I cut the squares for the blocks, the rest of the fabric just sat in a heap on my cutting table. So, as I cut triangles from each of the fabrics today, I folded the remnants up and put them away.

I'm so proud of myself!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

sewing again

When I made the quilt top almost two weeks ago, I had 3 blocks left over.

So today, I chopped two of them in half, and the third one into quarters, and then I stitched them together around a plain center block.

Well, it was plain when I stitched them up.

After that, I sewed a pretty little heart into the center of it all. As you can see.

It might have been easier had I stitched the heart in place before I put the border pieces on. Keep that in mind if you decide to make a pillow like this.

So far, the back is just overlapped envelope style. I might add buttons/buttonholes to keep the edges together... depends on how much it gets carted around. I'm pretty sure Ellie's going to love it.

Oh, and in case you're wondering; no, I still haven't cleaned up the sewing room.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

iron craft 2

The challenge for week two of Iron Craft was a draft dodger/door snake thing.

I can't stand them. Any door in my house that could possibly benefit from having one of these at its foot opens inward. That leaves a big lump of fabric/stuffing that prevents said door from opening. Also it adds to the collection of things that are already cluttering my floor at any given time.

No door snakes for me.

Okay, some people do use them on window sills as well. Again, doesn't work for me. I have aluminum-framed windows, which means that they collect condensation and deposit it on to the window sill. A draft dodger there would just soak up all that water and hold it against the sill, damaging the wood. And as it is, I cover up my windows with plastic anyhow, so there's doubly no point there.

I did, however, come up with one place that would happily accept something with draft-blocking capabilities, and would also not add to the clutter in my house.

For some reason, our house has been graced with not one, but two mail slots. The one in the front door is used regularly. The one in the back door is pointless. Really. Who needs two mail slots??

The back door slot is now happily full of a mini draft dodger.

And my kitchen is a wee bit warmer.

I think.

Monday, January 10, 2011

picture day

Today I spent part of Ellie's ballet class time wandering through the hazel farm on which the studio is located. The snow makes everything look so different and mysterious.

After I got sufficiently chilled, I spent the rest of the time indoors working on a new sweater... knit in an alpaca blend, it should keep me warm. I sure do hope so!


This week's weather...

Only on the west coast, I think.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

happy day

Today I spent a happy time walking through one of the richest areas of Vancouver... oh the lovely old houses!!

I also got to spend a happy couple of hours with my sister, and with my nephew who is courageously fighting leukemia.

And when I got home, it was snowing. Oh, happy day!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

iron craft 1

You may have noticed a new button on the side of my blog... I've joined Iron Craft - a weekly themed crafting challenge. This week is all about lights.
I made a knit-and-felted tealight holder... goes without saying that this one (as with all lighted candles) should not be left unattended; however, wool is naturally flame-resistant - it's actually self-extinguishing. Cool, hey?

The combination of knit and flame is the perfect antidote to the wet cold gloom outside my windows.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

in which the sewing room still didn't get cleaned up

Does that bear any resemblance to the stack of fabric in yesterday's post?
I spent a few hours today chopping and stitching it all into Crazy Nine-Patch blocks a la Oh, Fransson!

27 different fabrics. 27 crazy blocks. Fastest quilt top assembly in the history of my sewing machine.

Only problem is, I can't baste it until I've finished with the other quilt I started... all my pins are in use.

Eh, well. I did say this was a year for action, didn't I? Time to get quilting!

Monday, January 3, 2011

doing stuff

Have you ever, on facing a task that looks overwhelmingly huge, just thrown up your hands, turned around and walked out of the room?

That would be me today.

Three times.

At least.

I had decided that my first 'action' of the year would be to tidy up my sewing room. I tend not to put things away when I'm in the middle of a project, and with Christmas just over, there's a lot of project detritus lying around in that room just now.

It's pretty bad.

So finally this evening I managed to convince myself to just get started on it. I folded fabric bits, sorted them out by colour into their stacks, put the little bitty scraps in their basket, threw out garbage, ate chocolate (hey! it couldn't just be left lying around, now, could it?), put tools back in their spots, started cutting out squares for a new quilt...

Wait... what???
Ummm, yeah. I did.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

another year begins

It seems like time just keeps on racing faster and faster. A year used to seem like eternity. Summers stretched out forever; winters (once they arrived) never wanted to loose their hold and make way for spring. Now it feels like I just turn around and suddenly it's a new season. I can't think what it will feel like when I'm old - something akin to a whirlwind, I imagine.

I'm not one for making big plans or resolutions at the new year. It feels artificial. If there's something that needs to be changed, why should I wait til a certain day and hype it up. Just do it, right?

That being said, I am starting a new thing today. Partly in an effort to get to know my new camera, partly to improve my photography skills, partly to be more intentional about documenting my day-to-day life, I am beginning a 365 photo project. A photo a day, posted here. Hopefully I can stick to it... I know that there will be days... weeks?... when it'll feel like a chore. There will be days that I just can't post for whatever reason. I won't feel guilty about back-dating if necessary, just so you know! I'm excited to find out what it will look like - to see what it will be that catches my eye on a regular basis.

Also, I've been pondering a new "word" for the year. Last year, though I don't think I ever really put it out there in public, my word was believe. It came from a random thought that popped into my head one night, and has remained in the background of mostly everything that I've done throughout the year. Often it became a conscious choice in the face of my own self-doubt. And as a result, I see myself a lot differently now than I did a year ago. I don't limit myself as much as I did. I allow myself to look for possibilities rather than telling myself that other people can do it better than me, so why should I even bother. I like it.

And this year, I think that it's time to put some feet to those hard-won beliefs. Time for action. Time to do the things that I know I can do.

So, here goes!