Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fun for Some

Snow days are for the birds.
Snow days are fun for some (such as the boys that live at my house) and not so much fun for others (such as their mother). Here is what I learned from Friday morning's snow 'morning' (school was delayed two hours):

  1. When DH leaves for a business trip, we will have a storm.
  2. This particular storm was half snow and half rain. This is 'heart attack' snow.
  3. I didn't have a heart attack but part way through shovelling I did feel the need to reiterate to Eldest to call '911' if ever something should happen to me. I worry about that when DH is away for some reason. Especially when I'm on the drive way in my snow boots.
  4. I do not like shoveling snow. At. All. Friday morning's snow needed to be shoveled because it was the wet heavy kind. Which brings me to my next point.
  5. The snow blower doesn't seem to work well with heavy wet snow. I suspect it's a user problem as my neighbour was able to use his to good result. The fact that I don't really know how to use the snow blower when I really need it makes me mad. It remains to be seen if I'm mad enough to get more lessons from DH when he gets back. Darn snow blower.
  6. Trying to get up and down a long icy driveway pushing and pulling an uncooperative snow blower is not fun. I may have sworn. A lot.
  7. My children are fearless until they learn otherwise it seems. Me yelling at them to stay out of my way when I was using the snow blower because I don't know what I'm doing didn't scare them. Me actually using the thing must have put them over the edge though because I turned around at one point to find all three of them hiding in the trees next to the drive way.
  8. Having my seven year old ask if he should do the snow blowing instead of me is demeaning.
  9. A two hour late opening for school does not give a person a whole lot of time to clean a drive way and get a child to school. But I did it. It wasn't pretty.
  10. The Fitbit app does not allow you to log snow shovelling as a form of exercise. It should. It really should.
  11. 10:45 AM is too early to go back to bed when you still have a five and three year old racing around. I really, REALLY wanted to though. Darn it again.
I hope everyone else is having a nice Winter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


 Eldest and DH had a sleepover with their Beaver group on Saturday night. Seeing as I was home with the other two, I thought it prudent that we have our own sleepover event. Middlest and Littlest were THRILLED to have a 'bedtime party' as Littlest described it. They have never slept on our pull out couch in the family room before. Even pulling the bed out of the couch caused exclamations of surprise and excitement. Both went for their baths before the movie and popcorn without complaint. If it wasn't for the lack of sleep I got that night (no fault of theirs), I might consider a 'bedtime party' more often!

In keeping with the illustrations in one of their favourite books, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, the boys were very serious about setting up their toys around the perimeter of their bed just like Eamon and James.

Once their bed was set up, I was sent upstairs on popcorn making duties while they settled in.

Popcorn at our house is made on the stove with a bit of olive oil and a dash of coarse sea salt, 1/4 - 1/2 of popcorn kernels and heat. Naturally, it needs to be watched carefully. My record is better with this type of cooking than with microwave popcorn. I made microwave popcorn in our brand new microwave in Kanata, got distracted and only remembered the popcorn after the smoke hit me while I was somewhere else in the house. That darn machine smelled of popcorn every time we used it afterwards and we used it for five years.

Love those toes.
They finished watching TMNT from earlier in the week and then moved onto Madagascar 2. Look at that concentration!

 Apparently Pooh didn't make it to the end of the movie and passed out where he was.

I didn't get much sleep because I started sleeping on the floor on an air mattress with my sleeping bag and then got told to join the boys on the bed by Littlest when he woke up at some unholy hour. It was a bit...crowded.

The next morning I was immediately whipped into pancake duty. The Beavers were having pancakes Sunday morning before being picked up by their parents. As Middlest said "It just wouldn't be fair for  Eldest to have pancakes this morning and not us." All right then.

I do believe I scored significant Mommy points this weekend. Go, Mommy!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Knitting Progress?

I had the chance to sit down and knit a half row or two each day for the past few. I thought that Bessie (the name I gave the dress form my lovely friend ML gifted/loaned me years ago) does a nice job showing off my cardigan so far and using Bessie was far easier than me trying to capture a selfie.

Someday I hope to gain some photography skill and perhaps a regular camera (I use my iPhone 4 for most of my pictures). Here is a 'behind the scenes' look at Bessie's photo shoot. Look at me trying to be all professional using the diffused lighting from behind the curtain.

Oh look! A cat bombed my photo shoot!
I also received a wonderful belated (aren't they the best kind?) Christmas gift from Little Sister via the nice Canada Post dude on Friday. He caught the boys and I on our way down the hill on our sleds. Gotta love a garden (in Newfoundland and Labrador, your 'garden' is the space around your house which could be grass, vegetable, trees etc) that allows for not one, not two but three fantastic sliding spots!

We have been in our house almost five years (!) and I'm getting itchy to repaint and restyle a bit in the cheapest possible way of course. I had added this book to my Secret Santa list before Christmas and I love it as much as I thought I would. Thanks again, Sis! Although Eldest is balking at my suggestions of painting the whole main room white (he does not like change. At. All), it's coming...

Proof of knitting. Like my fancy drinking glass?
I think mason jars are the best thing in the world to drink out of
mainly because they are difficult to spill and I need help with that.

And not a belated Christmas gift at all but I finally got one of my Christmas gifts up on the wall where Littlest's art is the first to grace it. What a grand idea. Thanks, A!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Whatcha' Been Eating?

When the crowd was here over the holidays, I did a lot of cooking. I'm the main cook here these days anyways with DH working full-time so I have a few 'old faithful' recipes that I turn to when we have a lot of people here. I thought I'd share a couple of those with you and hope that you'll share a couple of yours with me!

For company, a party or any gathering of people, I love Skinnytaste's Kalua Pork. My preferred way of having it is to make it into a roll using lettuce with a bit of rice at the bottom, shredded pork and hoisin sauce to top it off. Yummy! My crock pot cooks too hot so mine is usually finished in 12 hours versus 16. I still put it on overnight though, just in case.

Another family favourite (and one even the boys ate last night without me hearing 'Yuck! I'm not eating that!' was shared with me by my friend ML years and years ago. It's Cooking Light's Braised Herb Chicken Thighs with Potatoes recipe and it turns out gorgeous every time. I don't bother to use small potatoes and just cut up whatever potatoes we have on hand into ~1" chunks. I have just started increasing the recipe by 50% to ensure we have leftovers for lunch the next day. The boys are only 7, 5 and 3. Lord help us with the groceries when they're teenagers!

I found this recipe awhile back and love it. My PC skillet goes right into the oven so I find this an easy to put together and fantastic tasting recipe. I serve it with rice (brown for me, basmati for the boys) and a green salad. It's WW's Maple Baked Chicken recipe. As I've found to be true with so many WW recipes, this dish is jam packed with flavour. 

Finally, this next recipe is a new one I found over the holidays that I tried out on my poor unsuspecting family, using them as guinea pigs. Luckily for me (or them?) it was a hit. I wanted to use up some fresh cranberries that I had in the freezer and the Crockpot Chicken with Cranberries recipe met my requirements. As my father is diabetic, I made his in the oven excluding the sugar and he said it tasted great. I also didn't add extra water at the end but scooped out some broth from the bottom of the crock pot while the chicken was still in it and only added about 1.5 tbsps of flour to that. Whisk up the broth and flour mixture until there are no lumps then slowly whisk that into the hot crock pot. Be careful though. The chicken is so tender that it will fall apart easily if you hit it while you are stirring. Not a big deal for me but it might be for you.


Sunday afternoon was simply gorgeous. I love clear blue skies and sunshine on sparkling fresh snow. It makes my heart ache with happiness. If we're going to have Winter then, please, let there be lots of snow. Enough for skiing, sliding, snow shoeing, snow mobiling, etc..

Our town was a Winter Wonderland over the weekend.

My favourite kind of winter day.

And if you think it looks cold, it was. The wind was BITTER! I stopped next to the post office to capture these pictures looking right into the bay.

We see these spectacular icicles each year but this is the first time I've slowed down long enough to take pictures.

No, I have no knitting progress photos as I'm on the third time knitting the same two inches (tell me you do that too!). Apparently an easy pattern and my hand brain coordination make a challenging mix.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hooked Rug Ta Dah!

A ta-dah post about this rug is waaaaay overdue. I wanted to write something about it last summer just after I finished but we immediately went away to BC for our family holiday, one of my best friend's passed away, school started, Halloween costumes needed to be made, another close family friend passed away unexpectedly again etc, etc, etc. So, here I am. 

A loves purple!
I have never been commissioned to hook a rug before. My friend A was returning to the UK in the summer of 2014 and wanted a Newfoundland and Labrador memento of her and her family's four year RAF posting to our fair province and country. She asked me if I'd hook her a rug one day and I believe I said 'no' the first time she asked. Up until that time, I'd been dabbling in small rugs and was not interested in hooking on a deadline. I am a slow hooker (and I can just imagine the comments I'm going to get from that statement...) using hooking as a creative pastime and outlet versus a job. 

I eventually said 'yes' and we had a bit of a back and forth discovering what she was interested in with respect to a rug. It would be my design but, obviously, I really wanted her input to ensure that she would be happy with the end product. Our commission agreement was that she pay for the hooking materials and I would donate my time. I have been a craftsperson long enough to know that I do not create well when being paid for an item. I work very well when the item is a gift for someone though and so my hooking time became my gift to A and her family for their friendship and a tribute to the great times we'd experienced together.

"Cappy" the capelin.
A looked through my collection of Deanne Fitzpatrick books and put yellow sticky notes and comments throughout them to help me get an idea of what she was drawn to and I designed from there. My original design was sketched on a piece of 8 1/2" X 11" paper. I then taped a piece of even weave burlap (from Atlantic Rug Hooking where I purchased most of my supplies for this rug. There and from Deanne's online shop) on the wall and used my projector and a Sharpie black marker to trace the pattern onto the burlap.

I traced the pattern at the size that I felt it should be which left me with a fairly large rug and certainly the largest that I'd ever hooked. And this one was on a deadline as my hope was to get the rug to A before she returned to the UK. I'll be upfront and tell you that I missed my deadline by almost two months. Once the rug was whip stitched around the edges and carefully steam ironed, I rolled it up, put it in a drafting tube and sent it off to the UK where, happily, it has since found its new home.

Hooking a house is far easier than building one. The spring
snow is still melting in the garden on the right. 
I hooked this rug in the bright, cold, clear Winter months but began to get tired of the blues and greys so the rug began to warm up to early Spring which is the season this rug depicts.

I was inspired by the quilting stipple stitch for the sky detail.
Completed sky detail.
In Newfoundland and Labrador in the early Spring, the ice bergs are moving along the shore (we get to watch them from our living room window!), a snowfall or two is not unusual despite the fact that the tulips and daffodils are struggling to burst through recently frozen soil and sometime in May or June, the capelin roll (when you can, literally, catch fish with a bucket!) which always causes much excitement in our house and the province in general.

This shot was taken in bright sunlight.
My feet included for size comparison.
Hooking complete now to finish the edges... 
Almost completed. I love how the whip stitching allowed for
such a lovely curved border. 
Humpback whale detail.
A's husband is currently with the RAF and A used to be. I included these bright poppies on each corner as a tribute to them and their service to their country.

Poppy detail.
Right poppy detail.

Do you see a little yellow dory in the water to the left of the salt box house below? There are three in the rug altogether.

The red salt box.  
The years the family was in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I hooked the ice berg twice. The first time, I tried to capture the gorgeous blue and green that ice bergs reflect but didn't like the end result. This ice berg is my second version. I'm really pleased with how the blue roving adds so much movement around the bottom of the ice berg - as if waves really were lapping against its sides.

May I present to you, "Capstick Cove" circa 2014. Ta-dahhhhhhhh! I hope that wherever it hangs, it provides lots of joy and triggers many happy memories to the family who sees it every day.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Best Beachcombing Ever?

A couple of weeks before Christmas holidays when DH was in Abu Dhabi, Mudder and I ventured out for a visit to Middle Cove Beach with the boys. It was a gorgeous misty morning.

Buckets were essential to the adventure.

Rocks were chosen with precision and great concentration.

Rubber boots were also essential adventure equipment.

Watch those shaky rocks, Grandma!

"Mudder entranced by the beach."

I love beachcombing (and hate it when Auto Correct keeps making that into two words. Take this, Auto Correct!!!).
I love this one: "Middlest entranced by the sea."

The best foraged item for the whole day? Do you know what this is? No, nothing to do with fishing or sea faring but much to do with sea watching...

Anyone? It's one of these. Talk about the perfect beach combing day for a knitter.

Friday, January 9, 2015

After A Storm

Yesterday was a wonderful snow day. Crazy busy with screaming children (for both good and naughty reasons), home baked chocolate chip cookies (used this recipe for the first time. Not too bad but I'm still seeking a 'best' cream cheese chocolate chip cookies recipe. Any suggestions that don't include chilling the dough two hours before baking?), "snow storming" (that's playing outside in the snow in Littlest's language - his new creative word for the day. He asked his brothers if they wanted to go "snow storming" with him and so they did) and general lazing about. We took down the living room Christmas tree and I was thrilled that Eldest in particular was home to do that. He struggles with changes and the transition from full on Christmas decorating to none is always easier if he is involved in the process. We leave our trees and holiday decorations up until Old Christmas Day (January 6th) and I waited a bit longer to start dismantling this year as the weather office was 'promising' a snow day. Luckily for me it worked out.

It took me all day to unravel another mistake I'd made in my knitting between the jigs and reels of the day. I had it fixed and then my needles disconnected from the cable and I lost a few stitches so had to catch them and frog (that's taking out your knitting painstakingly stitch by stitch for you non-knitters) a couple of rows back. Can you lock circular needles to their cables? Mine seem to unwind regularly.

Mudder, Fadder, Sister, Niece, my three boys and I were all at home sharing the snow day fun. Naturally, DH went off to work. We had a lot of snow fall but it was fairly windy so the main part of our lawn is barely covered and you can still see grass.

This morning, the world seemed whipped clear and we enjoyed a beautiful sun rise.

We are leaving our outside lights on for awhile yet. They are clear white and help me through the winter darkness. Neighbourhood rebels we are!

Foot patterns from sliding yesterday during the storm.

One of the reason's we were up early enough to enjoy the sunrise was that my sister and niece were off on their first of two flights back home. So, a sad morning from that perspective though we had a wonderful two weeks of intensive family time. I am hoping that Littlest and I can visit them in CO sometime in 2015. Fingers crossed.

Our beautiful Christmas tree got well covered by blowing snow.

We might have had a storm but our regular feathered visitors kept coming so much that I refilled the bird feeder yesterday. When you're that small, you have to eat to stay warm and alive. I love seeing their little tracks.

Winter magic.