Books · hygge · make do and mend · Making things · out and about · Random Thoughts · the gardens · The Great Outdoors · Uncategorized

Hello again

Well it has been much longer than I had anticipated to get back to the keyboard and write a blog.

Winter around here does tend to get a bit dismal. After all of the colour and excitement of Christmas and blogmas I went into hibernation mode. You can imagine how pouty I get when we have to take down all of the Christmas lights and my garden is so dark at night.

We have had some lovely weather in amongst many cloudy days. This sunset last week was spectacular. Of course way better in real life that this picture can ever convey. The pinks were vibrant and shimmery.

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Today, February 22nd has been incredibly warm. Late in the afternoon it was 15 Celsius. I had the windows open in my office!

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You can see there is hardly any snow out there, and actual blue sky. I go nuts on a nice day.

I get all sorts of energy.

I even get around to blogging for the first time in 2 months!

I haven’t been entirely idle over the winter. I finished a knitting project that is making me very happy.

imageThis is the Light and Up Shawl designed my Caroline Wiens. The pattern is available on Ravelry for free. It is an easy pattern and was a good choice for the beautiful yarn I purchased at the Kitchener Waterloo Knitters fair last fall.

It is called Gobstopper yarn and is a 50% Merino and silk mix. Lovely to work with, deep colour penretration and a beautiful luster. I highly recommend it. You can find it here

https://gobstopperyarn.wordpress.com/

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I added an additional repeat of the lace rows to allow the full gradient of the yarn to show. Blue and brown are one of my favourite colour combinations. It turned out lovely, and is so soft to wear.  The colour name is “sinkhole” which made me laugh because I am terrified of sinkholes. But I believe this is the nicest one I have ever seen.

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I was knitting by the fire in January when the weather was much less friendly than today. I’ve been embracing the Hygge and all round cozy-ness. I loved these books.

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“The Little Book of Hygge” by Miek Wiking which is widely available. And “The Year of Cozy” by Adrianna Adarme.

I have read both cover to cover and keep them beside my chair so I can dip in and enjoy again. Lots of inspiration and ideas to make life more enjoyable.

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Nothing better on a winters day.

The weather today is making me think of spring. I have been out poking my fingers in the soil, standing and squinting at areas of the garden that are up for transformation this year, and yes I have already ordered some seeds.

The open window had my nose twitching at the prospect of garden time soon.

Blogmas 2016 · Books · Christmas · Random Thoughts · Uncategorized

Blogmas day 13 – Old Christmas

Hello my little festive baubles

Image result for washington irving old christmas

Today I am going to chat about my favourite Christmas story.

While I love the traditional “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens; it is The one above that I return to every year. In fact these stories precede the Dickens tales by many years.

The original Sketch book was a collection of 34 essays published in the early 1800s and included five essays that revolve around Christmas. They are often published separately as Old Christmas.

The five describe a visit the narrator made to an old English estate. Bracebridge Hall is remote and to reach it the narrator must travel by Stage Coach where he is joined by some young members of the Bracebridge family whose joy and anticipation soon rubs off on the traveler. They describe to him the pleasure that await him and squeal with delight as the house appears on the horizon.

Upon arrival he is thrown into the family celebrations that revolve around games, and food, and drink. In the old tradition Bracebridge keeps Christmas as a time to include the people of the entire estate. The locals are not just his neighbours they are dependent upon The Hall to provide them with work, order, and leadership. But in turn, the estimable Bracebridge recognizes the importance of positive relations in an interdependent society and treats his tenants to a large, long and loud celebration.

Unlike the Dickens stories which always have a touch of evil to counter the syrup sweet sentiment these stories have no “bad guy” there is nothing to overcome, they only chronicle the festivities.

I think that is what drew me to the stories when I first found them in my 20s. They are an ode to the “old ways” – even to Irving many of the traditions he describes were outdated in his time. It shows to me that as humans we tend to look to the past with a fond eye and all believe the world was once a better place.

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The wasail bowl, the Yule Log,  the dance, the feast are all lovingly described and it is hard to not want to step back to that time. Tho the realist in me remembers there was limited indoor plumbing and no electricity.

But it is the joy he captures that draws me back to read these stories every year.  I have a lovely reproduction of the 1875 version that includes all of the illustrations by R. Caldecott which are themselves a joy to look at.

Image result for washington irving old christmas

Happily they are available in many forms as open publications so you can find them online for free. This year I have discovered they are also available at LibriVox read aloud. I plan to listen to the tales of Christmas Eve as I bake, and wrap and clean. For me it is pure Christmas spirit.

 

 

 

 

Books · Random Thoughts

Book Review The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

So let’s talk books shall we? All my intentions of getting a crafty blog written this weekend fell away after my visit to the bookstore on Friday. I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket and there is no better gift to me than a book.

Or several.

Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

I had been waiting eagerly for the next installment of the Flavia de Luce tale. I could hardly wait to crack the cover of The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. The titles alone make these books intriguing.

The previous book in the series, Speaking From Among the Bones, had left the reader hanging on the final words. Exciting and frustrating at the same time, when forced to wait a year for the action to move on.

To be clear, I have not been asked to write this review, I am doing so because I just love this series and I wish everyone could read and enjoy the adventures of the 11-soon-to-be-12 year old Flavia. I will also attempt to not give any spoilers.

This is a series that you simply must read right from the start. It opens with the first book; The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, in the dawning of 1950’s England and introduces you to young Flavia as she cheerfully navigates the murky waters of that space between child and woman.  I am continually astounded that the author, Alan Bradley, can capture the essence of an eleven year old girl so well. As I read I am transported back to my own tween years and find myself saying – yes I remember feeling exactly that way. She is both wise and naive in equal measure, incredibly brave, possibly because she is young enough to not see her adventures as dangerous, and she is as resourceful, as she is fearless.

The books move along with fast-paced plots and have a wonderful set of characters that you come to cherish quickly. The immediate mysteries are resolved with Flavia’s determined, though unsolicited, help thanks to her remarkably well equipped laboratory, love of chemistry (particularly poisons), and her ever steadfast bicycle – Gladys.

The entire series of six books is spread over a transitional year for Flavia and you see her grow. While each book has a satisfying puzzle of its own, there is also an underlying mystery of what really happened to Flavia’s long lost Mother. Here lies the tricky landscape of spoilers. This most recent book answers many of Flavia’s questions and lays a path for her future. I am not sure if Mr Bradley will continue the series, I sincerely hope he does, but even as a standalone series of six, these books are not to be missed.

There has been talk of a TV series and I heard someone from the wonderful Call the Midwife is involved. This gives me great hope that it will be well done. It is essential that characters so well drawn be cast with care so as to not disappoint the legion of Flavia fans.

One of my measures of a good book is how often I notice something in my world and wonder how it would be viewed through the eyes of a favourite character. Flavia continues to live in my heart.

Some of my copies are pictured below, not in order or a complete set.

Author : Alan Bradley

Series in order:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s bag

A Red Herring Without Mustard

I Am Half Sick of Shadows

Speaking From Among the Bones

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

Alan Bradley books

Books · The Great Outdoors · Uncategorized

More snow, and more snow.

Narnia

“Meanwhile,’ said Mr Tumnus, ‘it is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long, and we shall both catch cold if we stand here talking in the snow.  Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”
―     C.S. Lewis,     The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

fir tree

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Books · Random Thoughts · Uncategorized

The Artist’s Way

It was Julia Cameron’s birthday the other day. I found this out through the wonderful world of Facebook. This reminded me to visit her website. http://juliacameronlive.com/

I first discovered her book The Artist Way about 15 years ago and I can honestly say it has help to form and shape my life ever since.

I have read this copy of the book several times. There are many passages highlighted.

One of the great things about Julia and her program is that she is so generous with the tools. The basics are right there on her website free for the use.

Morning Pages are 3 pages of long hand journaling first thing every morning. I did this for a long time and still return to the practice when I am feeling out of sync.  You don’t need to think about what you write or edit or even read it again, the important part is getting it off your mind. All the messy thoughts that fill up our brains and take up space.

The second tool is The Artist Date. It is a once a week “date” with yourself to look at or do something that inspires you. I was not always successful with this tool, but it can be very good when it works.

Julia has written many other books. As you can see I own quite a few.

They are simple tools, though many people struggle with the 3 pages of writing. Julia is firm that you must write in long hand, you need to feel your hand cross the page. It does not matter what you write, no one is going to see it. In my mind I began to think of it as the Mop and Pail (M P get it..) Because it was a chance to clean out all the muck.

Just lately I have a lot going on, so I am feeling the need to return to the practice.

Hmmmm where to go for an artist’s date this weekend? The weather should be nice…maybe the beach?

Thanks Julia.

Books · Cooking Things · Making things · thrifting

Saturday at Hedgehog Hill

Well there is much work going on at Hedgehog Hill theses days. We are very anxious to finally move in completely. We did stay over night on Friday, but there is no internet, no cable TV, and no shower. So really it is like VERY comfortable camping.

Still lots of banging and sawing and dust flying everywhere. I have caught up on the painting for the moment…oh, wait I have closet doors to paint, dang. Anyway I was general fetcher and holder and lifter and how-high-decision-maker on Saturday. But in between all of that I did spend time doing some fun things. I had to refill bird feeders. Now that the birds know we are there and have feeders, it seems like it is a constant battle to keep them full! It was snowing and the wind was blowing so I did not get any pictures of the feeders but I will try on Sunday when the sun is supposed to shine a little.

But here is what I did do.

I found a spot for the little shelf I thrifted on Thursday, and the green jug too. I keep adding things to this shelf so I will take pictures again.

I enjoyed looking through some new craft books I bought myself for Valentines day.

Sorry the picture is a bit dark. They are all wonderful and I can’t wait to start some new projects.

I have started a new crochet project. A ripple blanket based on the pattern from Attic 24. I am using the left overs from Miss Murfins afghan.

There was a little chocolate involved. Have you tried one of these bars? WOW I had to put it away or the whole thing would have been gone.

Then there was a big dish of mac and cheese. (Mr Murfins favourite)

And feet up in front of this for a bit before the banging and sawing commenced again.

A busy Saturday.

Books · Uncategorized

Books and Libraries

You know how sometimes you glance across a room and the sun is slanting in a window in a way that makes the objects glow? Or possibly you just notice the dust accumulating on the floor..

I grabbed my camera not long ago because I knew I was moving and these books would no longer be on this shelf in this house…you know it was a bit of a sad moment, but also they looked beautiful.

I truly love books. Not only have thy afforded me hours of pleasure reading but I also just like looking at them. I can be struck to silence in a great library, I am drawn across a room towards a shelf of books, I am giddy with delight when I see the sign Book Sale Today.

No wonder then that many of our holiday photos are of books and libraries.

We were in Ottawa last summer and spent a wonderful afternoon at the Laurier House. It is the historic home of two of Canada’s most renowned Prime Ministers and political personalities. Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier made it his home in 1897; after Laurier’s death, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King moved in and stayed until 1948, when he bequeathed it to the government and people of Canada.

We had tea and watched a short skit with actors in period dress on the porch and a great tour of the house.

Of course I loved the library best.

Another day in Ottawa we toured the parliament buildings,

And again my favourite part is the library of parliament, once save from a devastating fire by its heavy door. You can’t take pictures inside the library, but even the outside is impressive.

I love that it is round.

Later in our journeys we were in the Thousand Islands and visited Singer Castle.

Singer Castle

I hope to find or make one of these one day!

Soon I will have pictures of my library shelves at Hedgehog Hill. What back-breaking work, moving books! But the joy of seeing them all lined up on the shelves is all the reward I need.