Friday, November 27, 2009

Paper Snowflakes and Brown Sugar Buttons

I'm pretty sure that I might be the only person who chooses which mandarin oranges to buy based on the  colour paper in which the oranges are wrapped.

I love making  paper snowflakes - always have - and these orange wrappers are just the right size and thickness to make lovely flakes with.

We also did some baking yesterday and tried out these Brown Sugar Button cookies (Thanks D.).  They are divine.  I could tell right away that these will be added to our holiday recipe collection and become part of our traditions.  They are that good...and so easy.

And even though, in theory, they are supposed to be a holiday treat, they also made a delightful late afternoon snack yesterday.

The only thing about them that isn't great is that the icing sugar sprinkled over top leaves tell-tale signs on the pan of how many have been eaten.  You can see quite cleary exactly how many are missing so there is no chance of a mama sneaking an extra one without be caught.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

An X Day

What is an X day?  A very lovely thing.  Last month,  in a bid to ensure more time to do the things we love to do and to have more down time, I put a big X through a day on our calendar.  We stayed home, turned the phone off, didn't invite anyone over and didn't do any errands.  Instead we read, baked, had time for our hobbies, spent time outdoors and just....enjoyed.  It was so lovely and refreshing I decided to prioritize an X day each week.  On one week we managed 2 X days.  Even more lovely.  So now we are aiming for 2 a week.  Today is one and I've got big plans for my time. 

There will be time for knitting.

(still lots of gifts to make)
Time for needle-felting.

( I'm pretty sure this will turn out nicely even though it looks a bit strange now) ;-)

Time for putting out more greenery.  I can't resist tucking it in everywhere...even the bathroom now sports an old washboard on the wall filled with greenery. ;-)

Time for some reading - with the boys and on my own.  We've got stacks of library books waiting patiently on our shelves.
Time for yummy food.  I've been taking the time to try out some new recipes and found a red lentil soup we all really love.  Today E wants to try out something with the Shitake mushrooms we got yesterday and he is going to make portabella pizza (with the portabella as the pizza "crust")

And...there will be cookies baked. The boys sampled some cookies made by a friend at Lego club last week and really want to make them so the butter is softening on the counter.

I think what I love about our X days is that they feel like a little time out each week; a time out to celebrate...well, just our life, really, as simple as that is and time to just catch up with the things we want to do.

A funny thing - this morning I started this post and then went off to do a few other things with the boys.  I got an email from a dear friend asking me about our X days.  I think the important thing to me about them is that they really are a commitment on my part.  I don't see them as "just a day at home" when I could change my plans because something comes up or we are asked to do something.  I plan to treat them as I would any other commitment.   

I've been enjoying A Gift From the Sea again.  I've been reading about the instinct of woman to "perpetually spill herself away."  How we are taught, and how we naturally want, to give, give, give.   It becomes very easy to give so much and so often that one can end up exhausted.  The author writes of how "woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty" and how we seldom have the time alone, with peace and quiet, to fill ourselves back up. 

I love how Anne Morrow Lindbergh questioned why that was and why it is that an appointment  of any sort is seen as a reasonable excuse to not do something but an appointment with yourself, for time alone, seems selfish or strange.  Here is a line from her book that I really love.

"Only when one is connected to one's own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover.  And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude."

I imagine she would feel even more strongly about that were she still alive today, in these times when busyness is looked upon with admiration by most.  Perhaps she would even like an X day. ;-)

Monday, November 23, 2009


An excellent documentary on good food.

A really great DVD to watch and especially fun for me because much of it was filmed in this province, with two of our favourite farm markets (in B.C.) shown.

An excellent book on friendship. 

Such a moving story and so worthy of telling - forty years of friendship amongst women.

A CD full of lovely, fun music...

and, since I haven't driven the boys mad with my singing along yet I picked up this one from the library too.

If I can't drive them crazy with my singing The Lonely Goatherd or Do-Re-Mi then I likely will with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (although...I've heard them both singing bits of My Favourite Things!).  Is it even possible to listen to these songs and not sing along??

Now...since I picked up this book from the library on Friday I just need a little time for some crafting. ;-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Handmade Wooden Bowls

What a week!  We've had windstorms each night.  One night we were without power (due to a tree blowing down) and had to scurry around in the dark finding our candles, headlamps and flashlights.  Another night our decking blew off.  The next day our gate buckled in the wind.  Then we lost our internet connection for a few days because the metal tower providing our connection buckled in that night's windstorm.  We seem to be limping along now with a rather tenuous connection.  Has everyone had these crazy winds?

This weekend is the first in a long time (I think the first this year) when we have not had a single thing we HAD to do.  Lovely.   The boys have been sledding and enjoying the sunshine and snow.  We also went out wandering the property for some greenery to bring in. And S...he has been working away in the shop.

How do you turn this...

into these?

(These aren't quite done but I thought they were already gorgeous enough for a photo.)

Well, if you're lucky you have a talented, lovely husband who loves to work with wood and challenge himself to learn new things.  And...if you're really lucky he also likes to bake, cook, give back rubs, looks mighty fine himself in a white shirt and knows how to make you laugh. ;-)  I am very lucky indeed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Simple Gifts

Yesterday the boys headed out to the garage to have their own workshop time.  There're some 'big doin's" going on out there.  They've come up with all kinds of neat things in the past.  When they came back in E showed me some of the things he had made.

This one actually holds three candles but he needs to get making some more and we just haven't got to it yet.

W spent the afternoon with a friend and then went back out to the garage with S in the evening.  When he came  back in he showed me this.

He still has some work to do to finish it up and now has plans to make one with a "horsey" head as a play toy.  Fun! 

I had time to finish knitting these slippers (which are waiting to be felted along with some pothandle holders).

And I did some needle felting too.  Fun to do some little acorns...or "Fuzzy nuts!?!?"  as my husband said in his 'what are you up to now, woman?' voice when I showed them to him. ;-)

Such fun to take time to make things.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Simple Gifts

I finally put away the fruit dehydrator yesterday (I think I've got enough dried apples now) and we've used up almost all of our garden tomatoes so that must mean it is time to get started on Solstice and Christmas gift making. ;-)

We like to make all our gifts and find that if we get started in November we can usually do this quite easily.  We always choose some simple gifts as well.  This year I wanted S to make some log candle holders with the boys (E likes to make beeswax candles too).   S decided to do some test ones on Wednesday and quickly became hooked on making them.  He brought these ones in to show me.

I'll tie these together with a strand of raffia.  This one pictured below is my favourite and I quickly claimed it for our seasonal table.  The pumpkins and acorns are still on our little nature table but this joined them yesterday and now I'm eyeing  up the greenery in the forest around us.

The boys like this one below and it found a home on our coffee table.  It is desperately crying out to be surrounded by greenery and pinecones...mid-November isn't too early to start wintertime decorating, is it??

So...hopefully S will let the boys have a turn to make some too ;-) and they will be able to give these as simple gifts to family members (although they are also getting requests for more flower pens).  We are big fans of non-plastic type gifts (except for Lego, of course), consumable gifts and, there's something to be said for a gift that, once tired of, can just be tossed out to decompose, be composted or burnt. ;-)  Very earth friendly, I should think.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thrifted Boots on a Walk in the Park

Last week E and I had some time on our own in town while W was at Lego Club.  We wandered along the creek looking for things to take photos of.  We were practicing "seeing". ;-)

E got such a kick out of spotting these mushrooms, we would see them way up on the top of cut off (or broken off) Cottonwoods - at least 30 feet up, usually higher.

These ones we found just barely out of the ground, it's actually hard-packed crush. 

Imagine something so delicate growing out of hard-packed crush. Mushrooms are amazing.

Then we "saw" our shadows.  And we had to play our shadow game so we went from a  lovely hand holding walk along the creek.

To a shadow karate show down.


And, J, these are the thrifted boots I was so excited about.  Love them!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fixing Felted Clog Slipper Bottoms

For several years now I have been making Fibre Trends felted slipper clogs to give as gifts to family.  They have been a favourite gift to receive.  A few people (myself included) have worn holes in the bottom of them and still refuse to give them up.  This past week I fixed my son's pair for him before the bottoms got really worn out.  I had picked up a black suede skirt off the $1.69 rack at the Salvation Army thrift store just for this only took me about a year and a half to get around to finally using it. ;-)

Here are the well-loved slippers.

I just drew a rough outline of the slipper bottom onto the suede.

Cut them out.

Then used some of the leftover wool from the bottom to stitch the new suede bottom on.  The suede is not slippy so it works well for slipper bottoms.  When I finished these and W was happily wearing them I said I better get started on fixing Dad's slippers.  E said that I wouldn't have to fix his...because he didn't even have any yet.  Poor fellah. I'll have to remedy that this Christmas. ;-)

After finishing his I decided I would tackle my much more worn pair.  This pair is probably about 4 or 5 years old and should have been fixed a few years ago but I kept wearing them and managed to wear a hole right through both thicknesses of bottom.  I had tried a few quick patch jobs before by just needle felting some roving onto the bottom but these didn't last long.  Don't they look sad?

I had a knitted and felted rectangle on hand that I had made before to use as a patch so I cut that up and stitched it on with thread to cover the bits that had holes right through.

Then I decided to use one of my husband's old wool socks as an extra layer on the bottom before putting the suede on. (I never like to throw these out because I always figure I'll come up with some good use for them and now - much to my husband's dismay, I'm sure- I finally have)  I ended up deciding that I didn't mind the way this looked at all so now I think I will just leave it like this as that way I'll still be able to toss them in the washer when I need to.

And because I didn't want them feeling dowdy with that patched bottom I decided to give them a bit of ornamentation too.  I needed felted a daisy on the outside edge of each slipper - looks pretty and helps me know which slipper belongs to which foot. ;-) repair my mom's,  my dad's, my husband's....