Sunday, November 28, 2010


I forgot how magical the first snow of the season is.  Ours happened yesterday.  It wasn't a big snowfall.  Most of it has already disappeared but it speaks of what is to come -- whiteness, snowballs, snowmen, hot chocolate. Watching a local Christmas parade last night from the sidewalk with a full belly of pizza was the perfect way to end the day.

I am embracing the cold.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Toadstool on a Grassy Stone

With winter really nipping at our heels today, last night I had grassy, spring mushroom thoughts.   I hasn't snowed yet but if the boys had anything to do with it, we would be out sledding this afternoon.  So while wishing for snow for them, I'll be looking to this little guy to remind me of the spring to follow.  I know I should probably embrace the cold, I just really don't want to at this moment.

Wishing all warm fingers and toes (and thoughts) in the months to come.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Theresa's applesauce Cake

Friendship can be dynamic.  When I was a child, I thought my best friend and I would be best friends forever.  We aren't.  Nothing dramatic happened.  My family just happened to move when I was in Grade 8 and well, distance sometimes means we move on, not for the better or the worse.  Change happens.  As an adult ( wow, I just called myself an adult.), I have come to realize that people come into our lives for different reasons.  Sometimes the friendship is a lasting one.  Sometimes it's a short-lived one, a couple of years or so.  You find you need each other mutually, then life changes and life moves on.  I am, of course, grateful for those long-lasting friendships but those short-lived ones are also often pretty special.  Although they may have come to a quiet end, they still leave something behind.

About 12 years ago while I was going to school in Toronto, I worked at a popular diner serving tables.  ( Don't underestimate my age from that statement.  I was more or less a professional student for quite awhile.  Just ask my parents and husband.)  I worked with Theresa, a woman about ten years older than me but so much wiser really.   She was funny.  She introduced me to Leonard Cohen and yoga.  She showed me areas of the city that I may not have had the nerve to see by myself.  She made my experience of living "in the big city" so much easier than I thought it would be.  When I graduated, I stopped working at the diner and eventually moved out of Toronto.  And that was kind of it.  I sometimes wish the friendship had continued but things can't be changed.

  At some point during our friendship, Theresa gave me a recipe for applesauce cake.  It's a simple, yummy, moist, all-in-one-bowl kind of cake.  I still have the piece of paper she wrote it on.  I want to share it because I think it should be shared.  Let me know how you like it.

Theresa's Applesauce Cake

1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Oil and flour an 8 inch cake pan.

Mix oil and sugar well.  Add applesauce and mix.  Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth.  Pour into prepared cake pan.  bake for 45-50 minutes.

That's it.  Pretty simple but let me know if something isn't clear.

I'm going to end this post with a picture of two little owls.

Acorn owls, that is, in a little felted wool nest.  More wonky than wise but we love them anyways.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reminders of Her

My mom and I moved in with my grandmother when I was about 18 months old.  We stayed with her until I was about 13 years old.  So I was raised by two exceptional women.  If changing other circumstances in my childhood meant that I wouldn't be able to spend those years with my grandmother, well, then there is nothing that I would change.

My grandmother died several years ago but she has never left.  I think of her often.  Somtimes those thoughts are brought upon by home baked bread, by knitting mittens or by the mention of the soap opera The Young and the Restless.  In addition to the memories, i also have a couple items around our house that remind me of her when I see them.

I gave these little glass birds to my nan on two consecutive Christmases maybe about twenty years ago after we had moved away.  Each little bird is supposed to bring health and happiness to the receiver.  I love these little birds with their simple lines, chubby round bases and clear glass.

My grandmother's tea cup.  She used it every day in her last years.  So delicate.  I am more of a mug person but my Aunt Jean thought that I would like to her her cup and she was right.  This cup is very much my grandmother.  She was very proper at times.  never left the house without lipstick.   I remember these little (she was a tiny woman) slippers she owned -- high heels with a feathery little pom-pom ornamenting each shoe.  She wore these slippers when visiting someone on special occasions.  I'm afraid I may be painting a picture of my grandmother as a delicate little flower of a woman.  She wasn't.  She was small but strong.  And oh, the first time I saw her dance. . . it was awesome.  I was literally awe-struck as her legs started kicking the air.

This last picture shows a corner of a pair of hand painted clay tiles that I bought a few years ago.  They were made by a Newfoundland artist Michael Osbourne.  Each tile depicts Newfoundland scenery.  The above tile shows a woman picking bakeapples, also called cloud berries, I believe.  My nan loved berry picking.  I did not but I spent many hours berry picking as a child.  Actually, it might be more appropriate to call it berry eating  since I ate the berries once I had filled the small mug I had been given.

I don't think it can be overestimated how important a grandparent can be to children.  Abd don't tell my boys but she also used to let me eat cookies for breakfast.  yup, breakfast.  My sweet tooth reminded her of my grandfather's sweet tooth who passed away shortly after I was born.  I was more than willing to eat those cookies and indulge my sweet tooth.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My New Favourite Hat (For Now)

I usually like to start with a picture because, well, it just seems like a nice way to start.  But today, I want to say a few words before the first picture.  I don't like having my picture taken.  I'm uncomfortable in front of the camera.  Do I look at the camera?  At the person?  To the side?  Smile?  if yes, teeth, no teeth?  If no smile, how do I not look grumpy or sad?  Yes, this goes through my head every time a camera is aimed in my direction.  However, I really wanted to show a hat that I knit a while back and a hat just doesn't look the same if it's not on a head.  So today the camera was aimed at me.  Oh, and I was doing the aiming so keep this in mind when you look at the first picture.

(See, I went with no smiling.)  Anyways, on to the hat.  This hat was knit several weeks ago.  I wanted a slightly slouchy, simple hat.  I came up with a plan and I knit.  When I finished, I thought the hat was perfect.  tried it on the next day, and I didn't like it as much as I had the previous evening.  After several more tries, i gave up.  I didn't like the hat.  It's been sitting on my dresser since then until I have the time to rip it out and start over.  So basically, it has been forgotten.  until this morning.  No time for a shower.  Saw the hat, plopped it on and you know what, now I kind of like it.  It has just the amount of slouchiness I wanted so it looks more accessory-like than toque-like yet is still warm and cozy.  It covers my greatly-in-need-of-a-cut hair fairly well.  I like the colour.  I just like the hat.  I can't promise I'll like it in a couple of weeks because that seems to be the way I am with all hats.  But for now, it's my new favourite hat.

After that first picture, I think I am owing some pretty pictures.  A gardener I am not but sometimes you don't have to be in order to find pretty things in the garden.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarn Along and Sour Candies

I'm joining Ginny for her Yarn Along this week.  On the needles, a pair of fingerless mittens.  I really enjoy knitting stripes lately.  I am still reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods which I am loving, just not finding enough reading time during a normal day.  After paying my sizable library finds, the boys and I are getting ready to start Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl.

My diet this week has largely been a fluid based diet -- tea, juice, broth.  See, I have an infected gland under my tongue (sublingual) and it's painful, especially when I eat.  It makes me grumpy, very grumpy, and I feel for those who have to live with me this week.  However, on the up side, my mom (who under different circumstances should have been a nurse and a wonderful one at that) was researching my condition which is often caused by a stone blocking the duct.  She called last night with the advice that eating sour candies sometimes kicks the salivary glands into overdrive, thus forcing the stone away.  Heck, I've just been given an excuse to eat my favourite candy.  The only problem is I don't have any candy and it's dark, very rainy and windy.  Ugh.  Standing ovation for Mike who agreed to change out of his pyjamas and go out into the rainy night to buy me candy.  I guess I made a good decision all those years ago.  I'm not feeling much better today but I do get to enjoy a sour candy every now and then -- guilt free.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Crafting: Watercolours

While at the craft store this weekend to buy wool for felted clogs, I passed by the art supplies.  The trays of watercolours caught my eye and one just happened to land in my cart.  They are not the best quality watercolours but they sure are much better than the ones we've been using.  And the colours!  So pretty!  Who can resist them?  My little guy tried when I first suggested painting together.  Then he saw the new paints and resistance was futile.

I'm finding I'm more relaxed about drawing lately.  It happens spontaneously, a few minutes at a time.  I'm not worried that what I'm drawing doesn't "look right".  I'm just drawing.  And now painting a little too.  And you know what?  My page is no longer blank when I sit down to draw because the ideas are there.  The ideas are simple but I think that's what I need to do, what I always wanted to draw.  Kind of neat what happens when you get over those self-imposed expectations and just do something.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Bird in the Hand

No school today.  Yeah!  So after sleeping in a bit, breakfast and a stop for donuts (yes, I know we just had breakfast), we were off to feed the birds.  The boys needed a few minutes to warm up to the idea of holding their hands out so we started by leaving seed out first.  It didn't take very long before we had our first visitor.

It wasn't long after this that little hands were reaching into the bag and scooping out seed, lots of seed.  Keegan  loved it and was quite successful.  At the ripe old age of 6 1/2, he had the patience to wait quietly.  Quinnie, however, was lacking just a little bit in the patience department but couldn't (or wouldn't) understand why the chickadees were landing on Kee's hand but not his.

Did you know there was cheating in chickadee feeding?  Neither did I.  Apparently, sticking your hand in front of the other person's hand when a chickadee is approaching constitutes cheating.  Who knew?  A 6 year old, that's who.

Keegan calls this a chickadee's dinner plate.  So cute!  He was actually able to get a chickadee to eat out of it too which was very exciting.

Don't worry.  I didn't break the branch.  I found it like this but it was just such a pretty colour of green.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yarn Along

I am joining Ginny for another Yarn Along this week -- a picture of our current read with our current fibre-related project.

The boys and I have moved on to our second Roald Dahl book.  The first was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and they loved it.  I picked this book up at a used book store about a month ago.  It's the story of a boy and his father and  their big adventure together.  The big adventure is perhaps a little dated in that it is about poaching pheasants from a nearby wood but the story itself is wonderful.  So much of it is just about the daily life of this father and son and their beautiful relationship.  The boys are quickly becoming Roald Dahl fans, as am I.

Just off the needles and out of the washing machine are what I believe to be the cutest little slippers ever.  Okay, this might be a slight exaggeration since they don't have bunny ears or anything like that but they are still pretty cute.

See?  They fit in the palm of my hand .  That makes them pretty cute.  Oh, and the cuff seen in the above photo is from the lovely Amy.  She used vintage feedsack for this cuff and it has a wonderful feel to it.  Thanks, Amy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend Crafting: Book Cozy

I tend to carry a book in my bag wherever I go because you just never know when the opportunity to read may arise.  I'll admit that it doesn't often happen but I don't want to take the chance of being stranded without a book.  There is a risk though.  Most times, my bookmark comes out of my book and I lose my place.  This irks me, oh does it irk me.  And then sometimes the corners get bent and guess what?  This kind of bothers me too.  Now I'm sounding kind of anal but I'm not really.  There is no need to be afraid to borrow a book from me.  I don't mind when books become worn.  It means they are well loved and well read.  But to become worn from my wallet smooshing it?  Different story.

So for the past few months, the idea for a book cozy has been rumbling around inside my head.  But it wasn't until last night while doing the dishes, that the idea for this pouch made from a felted sweater popped into my head.  It's a simple idea but I was excited.  (It is kind of embarassing how long it took me to come up with this but, on some days, I do call my youngest child by the cat's name.)  I would like to say that this was leisurely weekend crafting but it wasn't.  I had 30 minutes to work on it before our nightly chapter book.  I also have more urgent projects that need to be done.  I considered all this and then ran downstairs and pulled out my sewing machine.

My book cozy had to have a flap.  Otherwise, my book mark was just going to slip out the top of the book.  (See, I really have been thinking about this.)

I am pretty happy with how it turned out.  i love the colour.  I love how soft it is.  Yes, my blanket stitch could be neater but I was on a time line fueled by the feeling of guilt that there were other things I should be doing.   I figure my books deserve a little wooly love too.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


This morning after swimming lessons, we went to the first Christmas craft sale of the year held at the local church.  The countdown to Christmas can now officially begin.  After having a snack and visiting the children's treasure room where items were 25 cents, my three men promptly abandoned me.  Abandoned me in the sense that they went home, leaving me alone.  By myself.  At a church sale.  Alone.  So much fun.  My first stop was the Spirit of Christmas Past room where I found these little ones who will be joining us for many Christmases to come.

My next stop was at the "Nearly New" book room.

Several good finds here.  A Paddington bear book.  A book of Greek myths and gods.   Not that I need another copy of Pride and Prejudice but I couldn't resist this small hard cover edition with hand written notes in the margins.  Oh, flipping through this book, I just found a piece of paper with information about polio vaccinations.  The book that I am really excited about is the book on the bottom of the pile:  Speaking Canadian English.

  Said the famous Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock: "I myself talk Ontario English; I don't admire it, but it's all I can do; anything is better than affectation."   I cannot wait to read this book.  I have always been interested in language.  Can't wait to get to Chapter 8: Slang.

Having been abandoned meant I had to walk home and it was a beautiful day for a walk.  I bought a couple of other things but I think I'll share those on another day.  I'm going to end this post with a picture from my walk home.  These berries were too pretty to not take a picture or two of them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

An Impromptu Lunch Date

Mike worked from home today and, since both boys are in school, he invited me out for a lunch date.  How cute is that?  But in a very manly way, of course.

yummy Greek food and a glass of red wine.  A very nice way to welcome the weekend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yarn Along

I am joining Ginny for her Yarn Along -- a single picture of your current read and current yarn-involved project.  Love the idea.  Please check out the link to see what others are knitting and reading.  So, on my needles, a pair of fingerless mittens and in my hands, Neil Gaiman's American Gods.  The gods of whatever kind of mythology you can think of are in America and they are just like us except, well, they are gods.  Which means they aren't like us because they have all those god-like powers.  The oh-so-likeable Shadow is a man caught in the storm brewing among the gods.  have I mentioned that Shadow's deceased wife makes the occasional  appearance?  Ah, I am loving this book.

Between preparing breakfast for the boys and getting them ready for school, this morning I was able to sneak outside and take a few pictures of our early morning frost.  It was a good one.