December 28, 2013

Favourites of 2013

I think it's fitting that my last post of the year (60th) should be about books.  In particular, a few of the books that are on my favourite list for the year.

About two years ago, I heard about a British writer named Penelope Fitzgerald. At that time, I couldn't locate one of her books on Chapters or Amazon. So I ran to the local library found one of her books and ordered a few more via inter library loan. In the meantime, I kept searching the book stores databases and eventually that led to more and more success. Now, among others, Amazon offers a boxed set of three of her {in my opinion} most outstanding books:
The Bookshop, Offshore, and The Blue Flower. 

Fitzgerald has a subtle yet skillful style that becomes more evident as you turn the page. There's a succinctness to her style, but that doesn't mean her books are without depth. When you read the last page and close the cover, you are left contemplating that book's depth and marveling at the genius behind the pen.

 Covers via Goodreads


This year, I also enjoyed reading Tan Twan Eng's novels. I featured Eng in a spotlight that you can read here.

                                                                Eng's second book.

Another  excellent book that I enjoyed reading this year was The Purchase by Linda Spalding.

I began blogging back in April, and, so far, it's been a journey of fun and mayhem. Many thanks to all of you for bearing with me and reading along this year.

I would like to wish all of you a healthy, happy, creative, and prosperous New Year filled with love and great memories!

For old times sake or Auld Lang Syne...

December 19, 2013

Hither and Yon

Finally, one for me ~ these are so sweet.    By Kelly Rae Roberts.

We are surrounded by banks of snow, but they definitely enhance the beauty of the Christmas lights that twinkle a welcome splash of colour outside the houses at night.  

Like everyone else, this time of year, I've been busy, but that, in my books, is a good thing and Christmas is such a special time.
So without further adieu, I would like wish all of you and your families a safe and happy holiday filled with:

 Have a very Merry Christmas!

December 12, 2013

Full Steam Ahead

A few more of my fine fellas.

My Quince and Co. order just arrived. Yes!  This yarn is for the Jemma Cowl; I hope to cast on early in the New Year, or, with luck, maybe before. The odd ornament was made from sea urchins.
A few hanks might make a fine sweater. Thank you Santa!
As you can see, I've been keeping my fingers busy.
Enjoy the weekend!

December 05, 2013

All is Bright

                         As you can see, I am starting to get into the Christmas spirit. 

In case you are interested, here are a few Amaryllis planting tips and tricks...

Check inside the box before you buy an Amaryllis to make sure the blub is healthy. Sometimes the buds are already growing. That's fine. I once bought one that was pushing its way out of the box!

Your Amaryllis will bloom earlier if you soak the roots overnight. Just pop it into a bowl, and add just enough water to cover the roots. The following day, mix the soil in the kit with water. I add a little soil to pot and a little water. (The soil will be very wet.)  Once the soil is ready, dig a hole and plant the bulb being careful not to crush the roots. Leave an inch or more of the bulb above ground, you may have less soil than that--no problem. Place the plant in the sun, or bright light, turn occasionally for even growth, and water only when the soil gets dry.  (If you do not soak the roots or add water to the soil as you go, an Amaryllis can take up to two months to bloom.)

If you haven't planted an Amaryllis before, I'll warn you that they are top heavy; to keep them from taking a swan dive brace with dowels, alders etc.  For added stability, tie raffia or other ribbon around the stocks and leaves and anchor to the dowel.

  Amaryllis will also bloom the following season, or later if cared for properly.
The tall Amaryllis should be bright red, but sometimes I get a surprise.
I think of Santa as The Spirit of Giving. I love to collect Santas.
Have a wonderful weekend!

December 03, 2013

Spotlight on Munro

This year's Nobel Prize for literature has been awarded not for the novel but for short stories. Stripped to the essentials, short stories are difficult to write well and until recently they have been over-looked by publishers and large prize committees alike. (Although Alice Munro's mastery won her, her first Canada's Governor General's Award in 1968.)

Several years ago, I read a selection of Munro's short stories called: Who Do You Think You Are? Not the best question to ask because even if meant to instruct, (bragging etc.) it is still, as the book points out, a loaded question that can erode self-esteem and undermine one's hopes and dreams.

So throughout the days, months, and years to come, I hope Alice Munro, the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature, feels ten feet tall and levitates a little when she crosses a room because she has earned the right. And should that happen, (doubtful, I'd say, from the interviews I've watched; she has her feet on the ground.) I am sure that no one will have the nerve to ask, Who Do You Think You Are?

A small sample from a prolific writer whose short stories revolve around  people living in small Ontario towns.

But forget tame and bucolic. Psychologically astute, Munro often exposes what people leave unsaid, or would not admit thinking. And she can slide the truth out there in a manner that has often left me blinking.

November 29, 2013


I've always loved the old samplers, so several years ago I decided to make my own. I'll admit that this sampler has been languishing in the depths of the closet, but I've been working on it in the past few weeks. 100% linen thread and cloth. 

 Mid to late 18th century reproduction. Currently working on the tree above the Shepherdess' head, so there's a lot of work left to do. For the scene, I must conquer a few stitches, but my greatest challenge will be the placement. Wish me luck! Yes, that's a tea stain.

Here's  a great site for kits, classes etc.
My first sampler.

November 26, 2013


 A little snow on the ground and that's okay, but I can wait a little longer for a heavy crop of snow. And I would not be disappointed if it completely disappeared.  As you may have guessed by now, winter is not my favourite time of year, but I do appreciate the beauty of a heavy snowfall.  What I miss most in the winter is colour, especially the bloomin' flowers so when it's cold outside, I try and create small islands of beauty inside.

For me, the aroma of something freshly baked adds to that beauty. My idea of a great afternoon, knitting, reading, and watching the amaryllis grow with promise before my eyes. On a sunny day, if I move these plants around so they can track the sun, they sometimes, depending on what type of bulb, grow a few inches a day. It's amazing!

Usually the Amaryllis bloom by Christmas, but they will be early this year, so I might plant another, and perhaps another when they go on sale after Christmas. I'm still looking for paperwhites; they are fun to grow too.
Banana bread. My mother's recipe.

Because the yarn is not very stretchy, I don't think that this cast on edge will even out after blocking.
 Did someone say frog?
( For non-knitters...  In knitting, frog parlance it means to rip it. In this case, all of it and begin again.)

Winter's winds whistle in
And snow banks the trees
Who huddle and rest 
And dream of spring

November 21, 2013

River Run ...continued

Cobscooch. A Micmac name meaning "bad, rough water." 
Pronounced  Cubscooch.
An old sentinel overlooking Cobscooch.
 The long shadows of a late afternoon.
Detail--old house on the above property; it is currently being rebuilt. ☺
An incognito tree hugger.
 I had to add this old character-driven house.
The old Post Office.

 A special thank you to Lorraine, my sister, for indulging my whims on my trip home.

And to Sheren who lit up the world with her presence and who I travel with everyday in spirit...

November 19, 2013

River Run

The weather was beautiful while I was in Nova Scotia, so that made it easy to revisit a few of my old haunts.

 When I was a child, I spent a lot of time on the river exploring, swimming, and making great discoveries, including finding in the shallows hundreds of baby eels, which I used to sift through my fingers. (Tomboy? I reckon.) Back then I wanted to know everything about the eels. I've had to wait a long time for information, but, in case you are interested, here are a few facts that have recently come to light.

 ~  Different from salmon, adult eels migrate from the rivers in N.A. and Europe to the Sargasso Sea south of Bermuda to spawn.  A few years later, the offspring return to the estuaries to acclimatize before they swim up the rivers. Sometimes they will even travel overland to the lakes where they will stay until something tells them it's time to return to the spawning grounds--that may take ten or twenty years.

Unfortunately, the baby eels, that piqued my curiosity so long ago, are now commercially fished.

 High tide has pushed into the estuary.

Another river in the same county. I spent a few glorious summers on a farm in this area, and it is still my favourite place. To the right, if I remember correctly, a fine place for a swim

Fresh air filled with the scent of the pines.

Cranberries... hmmm...maybe.
A hint of the miraculous? Sand in the woods.

November 12, 2013

In the Meantime...

After my trip, I decided to finish a few things that I've been thinking about completing for awhile.The scarf I wanted to knit as soon as I saw it, so once I got back, I whipped it up rather quickly.

On the other hand, the pie has been languishing on my want to do list since early July. I've come up with a few reasons for not making it. 1.)  In the past, pastry has  rated high on my misery index.
2.) That, in July, August, and Sept., it was just too hot to heat up the oven. But sometimes wisdom creeps on you...I must have been waiting for the apple harvest.

Old Shale Scarf
The wheat is grown in the village and carted to the mill to be ground and bagged.

Finished product.
One for me
The "trick" for great pastry: make sure everything is cold, including the bowl. Put a cup of cold water filled with ice cubes in the freezer until it's time to mix the required amount of water with the flour and shortening. It really does work! A great tip from a master pie maker and baker, my sister.

"Resistance is futile."

Onward to a little revision.
And for the bright spot. I'm still deciding on what to make, but I'm leaning towards the Longfellow Shawl.

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