Monday, December 30, 2013

Knitting More Socks....

Knitting socks are projects I like to do.  They knit up fairly quickly and it's a small enough project that I can carry around with me and knit whenever and wherever.

Here's a couple of pairs I recently knit for my nephews for Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A View From My Window

An ice storm hit our area this weekend.  Twenty-eight hours without power.  This time we were prepared !

- We have a wood burning insert in our fireplace and had enough wood cut to last a few days.
- We were able to cook with the insert - and had a kettle of hot water ready all the time for hot drinks and washing dishes
- Our propane BBQ tank was full.
- Gas tank in my car was topped up the day before.
- We had a good supply of candles and matches and batteries.
- Our oil burning lanterns were full and ready.
- We had flashlights ready.
- We had a battery run radio so were able to keep up with the news.
- Cell phones were fully charged.
- We have a land line which was operational and didn't require electricity.  This was really helpful in contacting elderly friends to ensure the were safe and okay.

Some friends, who weren't as prepared came over.  We played board games by candlelight by the fire listening to Christmas music on the radio.

Alot of trees came down in the area as well as power lines covered the roads.  We had alot of large branches come down off our very large tree.  No major damage done on our property.  However, neighbours weren't so lucky.

Now the clean up begins outside.....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Renovation Update - Before and After

Old paneling
After months, fixing, dry-walling, painting, etc. our family room is now completed.  It has taken quite a bit of time, much more time than expected.  Isn't it always the way, when you start what you expect to be a fairly simple project becomes a much bigger one.

The family room was the last room in the house to be painted since we moved in over seven years ago.   The existing 35+ year old faux-wood panelling had seen much better days, with scratches and fading from the sun.   When we took down the panelling we were left with some surprises underneath - no drywall and little if any insulation on the outside walls.

So began the renovation....taking down old paneling, insulating and dry-walling.   New baseboards were needed as the existing ones were plastic wood and broke easily.

Here are some before and after pics.

Demolition Stage ......

Insulating / drywalling.     Lots of dust ....... 

Our cat is happy, she's back in her favourite place to sleep

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Wreath

Many years ago my mother made me a pine cone wreath.  It has stood it's test of time and still looks as good as it did when she made it.   Each year it comes out a Christmas and is the first decoration I put up.

The various pine cones were all soaked in water until they closed up.   She then wired them on to a wire frame. Some cones were hot glue gunned into place along with nuts, acorns and decorations.  When the cones dried they opened up beautifully and filled into the wreath making the snug and tight.  She then sprayed the wreath with a clear coat of shellac / varnish.    End result - beautiful ! 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What to do with left over sock yarn ?

Over the years I have knitted alot of socks, over 50 pairs.

I had a bag of left over sock yarn, which I couldn't bare to throw out, being the frugal person I am.   Quite a bit of it went to my daughter who crocheted up a beautiful afghan.   The rest came back to me.

There was still quite a bit of yarn ends, and since we now have little feet in our family again with grandchildren arriving, what better way to use up all this yarn but to knit toddler socks !

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Gift Series... Homemade Cards

My mother loves cards.  She loves giving and sending cards.  She loves getting cards.
Every year for her birthday and Christmas I make cards for her.

This year, while visiting her house this summer I took a number of photos of her garden and made cards from those pictures.   She'll be surprised this Christmas ....

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Gift Series - Meal of the Month

Last Christmas I gave my Father-in-law a gift basket of homemade jams and preserves along with a meal-a-month.

Since he lives alone, this gift was greatly appreciated.   Each month I cooked up a meal that could either be eaten right away or put in his freezer and reheated another day.  Now that his health is failing this gift of a meal a month has grown into a more frequent pattern and meals are regularly taken over.   Up until just a few weeks ago he at the age of 89 has been very independent.  He still lives in his own home and drives is own car.    A gift of meals means alot to him and because it was started as a gift he still feels his independence too.

Here are some examples of meals that were made with links to some recipes.  Most meals were vegetarian and freezer ready.

- Shepherd's Pie
- Sweet Potatoe Thai Soup and Carrot Cake
- Scalloped potato, salmon croquettes, harvard beets and Christmas pudding.
- Chick pea ragout, Quinoa pilaf, Rhubarb Strawberry crisp
- Squash Fennel Soup, vegetarian samosa, rhubarb orange muffins
- Zucchini pie
- Spagetti Squash Casserole, blueberry coffee cake
- Rice/black bean tomatoe cheese casserole with fresh green beans from my garden
- Lentil Soup and twice baked potatoes
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup and baked onions
- Stuffed peppers
- Vegetable and black bean soup, apple rhubarb crisp
- Vegetable fritatta and cooked beets.

Stuffed Peppers

Twice Baked Potato

Stuffed Acorn Squash with cranberries

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baking Day

Today I took a vacation day from my workplace and used it to get all my Christmas baking done.  As I write this blog I am having a break with a hot cup of tea, while the dishes from the day's baking awaits me upstairs.
Whipped Shortbread

I accomplished alot in one day and happy it's all done now.  Today, I made Thimble Cookies, Shortbread, Fruitcake Squares, Date Squares, Church Windows, Whipped Shortbread, Snowballs and Nuts & Bolts.  Some of the recipes I have shared before and some are listed below.   I like to bake extra each year and make up tins for seniors as gifts.  

I have learned a few time saving tips over the years.   One of my favourite is using parchment paper for lining cookie sheets and baking pans.  Not only does it cut down on the fat used for greasing up your bake wear but also makes clean up a breeze.   Getting squares out of pans is simple and that corner piece doesn't get broken as you try to get that first square out of the pan.   By lining your pans and allowing the edge of the parchment paper to be a little higher than your baking, makes it simple to lift out the entire pan and allow for easy cutting.

Recipes first appeared in Canadian Living magazine about 20 years ago. 

Fruitcake squares from Chatelaine Magazine.
Fruitcake squres

Thimble Cookies awaiting jam or jelly. 

Parchment paper was used to line baking pan - Shortbread lifted out of the pan easily


Friday, October 18, 2013

My Creative Book ....

I have found a number of photos / magazine articles / newspaper clippings etc. and over the years have created my own little scrapbook of ideas / quotes / recipes / gardens ideas, etc.

This is much like the on-line "Pinterest".   I do like Pinterest, but call me old fashioned, I still like the paper concept.    After working at  computer screen all day I don't want to turn my computer on when I get home. I do like my own little book where I can keep ideas / things I want to do / make / and dream about.

I don't own a laptop, just an old desk top, which isn't as convenient.  It's stationery on a desk in another room, away from the rest of the house 

Creative Side...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nothing is What It Seems .....

What started off as a simple painting project has turned into more of a summer renovation project, which is now turning into a fall project too.

Our family room, where we spend most of our evenings had 35 year old faux-wood paneling.  Over time the paneling has become faded and scratched.   It also made the room dark.  My plan was to remove the paneling and paint to freshen up the room.  Seemed simple enough... right !   To our surprise, when removing the paneling there wasn't much underneath, including hollow outside walls (which explains why it was one of the cooler rooms in the house). We've only been in this house seven years now and learned from the neighbours that when the house was built this room wasn't finished - was an extra expense at the time.  Most new owners opted to finish the room themselves. 

So began our renovation project.  Removing the paneling on the outside walls, insulating and dry walling.
Above the fireplace the paneling had been glued and removing 35 year glue has been a challenge. The project has been going at a snails pace when we can fit the time in and when added expenses will allow.

Hope to have the room finished soon as this room is used the most during fall/winter/spring.  The fireplace insert in this room is a major source of heat. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Old Plants ....

I read an article recently in the newspaper entitled "Old plants bind family roots".  "Passed down for generations, greenery keeps memories alive.  Some things bond a family more strongly than you'd think.  A plant is a legacy, a living thing that you nurture and pass on". 

I have a few plants in my garden and in my house that came from my grandmother's, my mother's, my aunt's gardens and from friends as well.   Each house I've lived in these plants have been with me.  I have dug them up from my gardens when moving and they come with me to our next home.  My Hoya plant, was given to me as a clipping almost 30 years ago.  It is still growing in the same pot, but have started many other pots with clippings.    A Christmas Cactus that a co-worker gave me a few years ago, is still thriving and has started another plant with a piece that fell off.   The ivy in my garden came from an aunt who has since passed away.   I have other plants which came from my grandmother's garden over 60 years ago. 

Every time I'm out in my garden it brings fond memories of those who nurtured these plants before me.

Hoya in bloom
Christmas Cactus


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Favourite Lentil Soup

I like to make a large pot of soup every week

This recipe comes from the Canadian Chatelaine magazine - February 2001 issue.

This nutritious low calorie, soup can be made in big batches and frozen.   Soup is hearty without being heavy and can be ready in about 30 minutes.

1/2 lb Red Lentils (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 cups of Chicken / vegetable stock or water
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
3 medium size carrots
1 small sweet red pepper
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 - 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper

In large pot set over high heat, bring lentils and stock to a boil.  Skim off froth.  Stir in chopped onion, garlic, seasonings and bay leaf.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer, covered.  Dice carrots and red pepper.  Stir into soup.  Continue simmering, covered, until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes.  Lentils in soulp will need a total of about 20 minutes to cook.  Stir in green onion, coriander, lemon juice and pepper.  Remove bay leaf.  Serve immediately or refigerate covered, up to 3 days or freeze.

Enjoy !

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Enchanted Garden update

I found a few more houses for my enchanted garden at various thrift stores.

These little gems were $0.50 - $1.00.  I'm amazed at the detail on this little houses.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Knitting Break .....

Not only did I take a blogging break this summer, but also stepped back from a few other things too, like knitting.  My heart just wasn't in it and my hands wouldn't cooperate for more than 20-30 minutes.  Plus with the warmer weather, holding wool seems to make you feel warmer too.

I had a child's size 4 sweater on the go but has taken almost the entire summer to finish.    This sweater was made entirely with wool I found at a thrift store.  Now I just need to find the perfect buttons to finish it.  The right button can make/break the look of the sweater.

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