Thursday, 31 May 2007

Finished scarf and shawl

This pink/purple concoction is a scarf that I made as a distraction from the endless rounds of the Pi Shawl! It was a fun knit and I gave it away to a friend's daughter when it was done.

This is the Pi Shawl, being blocked. Yes, it's amazing, I actually blocked something. As I don't use wool (being vegan) I rarely need to block anything. However, this shawl is partly natural fibre - 50% cotton, 50% acrylic - so I washed it and stretched it and pinned it out on a towel on the living room carpet (in a low-traffic area). I hoped that the pins wouldn't start to rust overnight and make a mess of the edges! Considering the temperatures we've been having (33 degrees today) it dried quickly.

I was pleased with how it turned out. When I took out the pins, there was a small amount of springback - here it is on a circular table on my deck.

And here is my 8 (nearly 9) year old modelling it so you can get an idea of the size. I will be giving this shawl, and the baby surprise jacket that I made a while back, to a friend who will shortly be a grandmother.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007


Not only is this a lovely, cheerful little plant, it is so very useful as well. I like that William Morris quote, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." It is something that we have been working on in our home for years. Well, it seems to me that could apply to the garden as well.
E and I spent some time this evening picking the chamomile flowers so that we could pop them in the solar dryer (the dryer is not entirely finished yet because we still need to find something to use as an absorber plate as we want all the parts to be recycled - in the meantime we just put stuff in the dryer on an old blackened cookie sheet ).

Gardening is so much more fun with a helper, even when that helper gets distracted and goes off taking pictures of ladybugs and newly hatched spiders. (Do you say hatched for spiders or is there a better word? Can you ask J please, Katherine?) Anyway here is a batch to get started with, these ones will be used in soap, shampoo, hair rinses and skin balm. The boys are going to learn to make soap and since our lavender is almost ready it seems like a good time to learn.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.

I like that quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What a difference two months can make in a garden. Two months ago there was not much going on. Now we have been eating radish, rhubarb and lettuce. The spinach is almost ready. We have been using parsley and oregano in our cooking . I have enough dill in the freezer already to last for the year. Yesterday we had our first pot of lemon balm, chamomile and mint tea. I'm thinking W needs to get that solar dryer finished so that I can start drying herbs to tuck away into jars for the winter.

Here is another quote I like by Gertrude Jekyll.
"The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies."

Now if you had tried to convince me of that when I was little and it was my job to dig up all the potatoes with my brother I would have thought you were crazy, but now I think it is true. It is one of the reasons that I include my boys in all our gardening, I want them to have a love( and awe, really) of gardening to see them through their adult lives.

Monday, 28 May 2007

And about time, too.

Looks like we are on the same track, Samantha. I finally got my other sock done just in time for flip-flop weather. Ah well, at least they are both done. Although I see that I should've at least lined my feet up for the pic so you could see that I matched them up. I ended up with only a teeny ball of yarn leftover but I did get the socks the length that I wanted and didn't run out so I am pleased.

Just in time for summer

I have finally completed my very own pair of felted clogs. Here is the before picture:

And the after picture:

I was very excited to have a pair of my very own slippers, but alas, it was not meant to be. They are too small for me and my son has claimed them as his (they are too big for him but his feet are growing and mine are not shrinking...) So back to my stash I go, to pick out some colours for another pair of clogs and cross my fingers that this time they will stay mine.

If you're this

My sons and I just recently watched this dvd borrowed from our local library. Seemed quite timely considering the recent increases we're experiencing at the fuel pump. This dvd sparked many discussions with our sons (ages 15 & 12). Definitely worth watching.

Good Books.

If you are a gardener and you liked this book,

then I think you will like this book even more.

Great reads, both of them.

Friday, 25 May 2007


Yesterday we started eating radishes out of the garden - well, E and I did. We used dill from the garden to make tsatziki. Today we had our first salad from the garden. I love being able to go out into the garden and find things to eat already. E noticed today that he could see the berries on the strawberries plants, thankfully he is old enough now to wait until they are red (ish) to start eating them. A few years ago I just resorted to eating them while they were still white with a just a tinge of pink in order to get a taste of them at all, E was eating them all before they were ripe. Yesterday he was picking lettuce leaves and wrapping them around some lamb's quarter leaves and dill and popping them in his mouth to gobble up. Kids who don't like veggies??? Not around here.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

By request...

Here you are, Samantha, a couple of photos of me having fun on the trampoline - and a couple of S too.

From B.C or not B.C...that is the question.

Here is something that bugs me. ( I know, I know, the list is long but I'm just going to mention one thing)

When I see this logo I assume that it means the item was grown in a B.C greenhouse. But, this is not necessarily so. Three weeks ago I was taking the sticker off the cucumber I had purchased and noticed that beneath the BC Hot House line it said Produce of Mexico. How can that be, I thought, it is a BC Hot House product. I didn't get a chance to look into it and then when I was at the lake last week my mom gave me a copy of this article. It is a short article and worth the time to read it. During the winter months of B.C, when there is not enough light to grow the cukes and tomatoes here, they are brought in from Mexico. To me it is just another example of how on-the-ball consumers have to be. Companies know that we don't always have time to read every bit of information on a package and actually there isn't room on every item to give all the product information, so we have come to rely on easily identifiable logos to tell us what we need.

We see all kinds or different logos and we think we know what they mean. But do we? Do we know what they mean or is there a false sense of trust that we put into companies, are we foolish to take things at face value? I find this frustrating because when people want to "do right" in purchasing their food, I would like it to be easy for us to do so. I don't want to have to be second guessing all the time. Grrrr!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Green Clean

I have been enjoying this book. For anyone who is still using regular cleaners (why? why?) around their home, I highly recommend this book for its simple recipes for alternative cleaners. I think using simple things like vinegar, baking soda and water for cleaning is a very simple step that anyone can take to make their lives a little more earth friendly. It can be as simple as filling your old bottle of window cleaner with a solution of vinegar and water. It works and smells a whole lot better than store bought cleaner, it is cheaper and you won't be filling your home with nasty chemicals. I think any step that we can take towards a life that is easier on this earth is a positive step. None of these steps are too small, they all add up.
One thing I really like in this book is how the author speaks of "many points along the green continuum, each one a different level of choice, knowledge, cost and control." I think this is a very important point as it is often far too easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things we could improve upon in our desire to lead a more earth-friendly life. The idea of the green continuum is a very empowering idea, I think. I often hear that people feel that there is just so much to know, to do, to fix that it becomes so daunting as to be almost paralyzing. It can stop you in your tracks and leave you feeling that no matter what you do it won't make any difference... so why even bother. I really do feel that every little bits helps, inch-by-inch and all that. So, yes, who knew that a little bit of vinegar could save the world!! ;-)

We have a new look!

I hope you like the new look! I think it looks fresher and cleaner than the old template. I have rearranged a few of the elements on the right, but the content is the same.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

On the Road Again.....

Every year about this time I get that itch...that On the Road Again itch (did you sing that bit along with Willie Nelson in your head or is it just me who does that?). We are back from our first official "summer" road trip. My husband likes to call these my "travelling road show" trips referring to the fact that, at times, I have been known to drag along dogs, cats, and all manner of other things and/or creatures with me or back with me. Well, this time hubby was away in Mexico so it was just the boys, the dog and I on this road trip, and let me tell you that the dog was quite pleased to have a front seat all to himself. (Maybe hubby will decide not to make such smart alec -y comments when he learns that he can be easily replaced as navigator/sidekick by the dog - or maybe he will decide he quite likes a bit of time in Mexico sans famille and will decide to skip out on a few more of his sarcastic wife's road trips. Hmmmm. )

Anyway we had a great time and, as always, I did bring home a few goodies that I want to share pictures of, although without hubby's truck I had to really prioritize the things I wanted to bring back.
This is a solar food dryer that my Dad and oldest son W built out of all recycled materials. The window was salvaged from the roadside - at the lake there is always an assortment of "good stuff" on offer from people who are making their "cabins" into "lake houses". We took out two glass panels, one is used on the food dryer. Two were left in the frame and the next time my folks come down they will bring it for me to use as a cold frame over my garden beds next spring. One panel of glass I will use as a weed burner in my garden pathways. The wood is from the old deck on my folk's home. The dryer will be used for my cherries, apples, apricots, plums, grapes, currants and peaches and store-bought bananas. I will likely try it with some herbs and veggie bits too. I was pleased to hear W come up with some make-do solutions for using parts that we had while building this.

Have to post about a garage sale find that I know Katherine will understand how excited I am about. The lake that we go to has an annual garage sale at the senior's centre where several years ago I scored this for $1. It actually worked at that time ( until I brought it home to kids and pets).
This year I got this for $1, a sewing kit full of all kinds of goodies. I will never again need to buy sewing needles (nor will any of my friends). There are two sock darners, although I have no intention of ever wearing out my knitted socks ( after how long it takes me to knit them they had better not wear out!).

and also this for $1. A conch shell for E. For the last few years he has joined in a Maui Conch shell band to salute the sunset and now is lucky enough to have his own shell instead of having to use a snorkel. This one already has the blow hole cut into it and came with a hand carved wooden stand. It sounds lovely.

Those are my kind of bargains. Now if only I could figure out what these are and how they work. There is a whole bag of them. I think they are some kind of attachment to make all kinds of stitches on the sewing machine, I am just not sure if they will fit on my machine. It would be a nice bit of luck if they did and since I am a big fan of serendipity I am going to believe that they will fit my machine until Katherine tells me otherwise. ;-)

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Look what we bought today!

A 14 foot trampoline! Do you think this'll stop the kids from bouncing on my bed?

Current state of the knitting projects

Three projects on the needles at the moment...the first is a pair of socks that I am knitting from the red/white/blue elann esprit. After I knitted the long socks I had more than a ball left, so am seizing the opportunity to make a pair of runner socks. These are really fast to make because there are only 6 rows of ribbing before the heel flap! The second sock is at the decreasing stage after the heel shaping.

The second item is the Pi Shawl. After the final increase to 576 stitches I knitted only one round then started on the border. I attempted a couple of different edgings in both directions, but after ripping back about 5 times I settled for a plain garter stitch border which is knitted sideways along the edge of the shawl, eating up a stitch every other row. Each little row is 10 stitches, and there will be 576 X 2 rows, so that makes....11,520 stitches for the border - gulp! I am hoping that as this yarn is at least 50% natural fibre, it will block flat when finished.

And finally, a bit of fun knitting with some yarn I bought ages ago on sale. I have already made two scarves as gifts out of this thick and thin yarn (NoBo), one wide and shorter, one long and skinny. I was tidying out my yarn storage drawers the other day, detangling things, sorting like yarns into bags, and throwing out some things I know I won't use. I picked out this fun yarn and needles and cast on 12 stitches. The needles were made for my kids using a dowel and clay for the knobs on the end.

I decided on a challenge to shake myself out of the knitting doldrums and taught myself how to knit garter stitch without turning the work. In other words, I knitted across the row as usual, then knitted backwards to work the next row. Certainly gets your brain working! It was just like being a beginner again, as I found that stitches were mysteriously appearing or going missing. It was fun anyway.

Asian food

This was Friday night's dinner. I was rather pleased with my efforts to make spring rolls. I bought some wrappers from the Oriental Supermarket and filled them with a mixture of bok choy, green onion and beansprouts. I fried them in coconut oil in a saucepan so I didn't have to use too much, 6 at a time. I also made vegan sushi with brown rice, avocado, carrot and cucumber.

The stir fry is garlic, ginger, onions, carrots and broccoli, to which I added a can of pineapple, some agave nectar for sweetening, some rice vinegar, tamari and chili paste. It was thickened with arrowroot starch.

My children prefer rice noodles to rice, so I cooked some and offered a peanut sauce on the side.

The smaller kids were suspicious of the green stuff in the spring rolls (funny how they've never asked what's in the ones at the Taiwanese restaurant!) so the next day I made some more with leftover rice noodles and tiny tofu cubes with tamari. They preferred those!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Happy birthday Anne

What a great afternoon! I wish I had remembered my camera. Surrounded by friends, kids having fun, celebrating a birthday....not mine, Anne's...HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNE.

Wednesdays are homeschool support group days. It's been (I think) 8 years since the group started up, so some of us have known each other for a long time and watched each other's kids grow up. Many have come and gone, some have come and stayed.

Today the thermometer hit 28 degrees and we sat on blankets in the hazy sun until we got too hot and moved into the shade of a tree. The children rode their bikes on the BMX track and chugged gallons of water.

We four bloggers and Anne are a tightly knit group (pun intended) who don't just wait for Wednesdays to meet. We have girls nights where we knit or walk or watch movies or drink margaritas (that's at Heather's) and debate very important matters (Alan Rickman versus Colin Firth, for example).

Today, we enjoyed lemon cookies and chocolate cake while Anne opened her birthday gifts. I won't divulge how many candles should be on her cake!


A picture from one of our front gardens. I love Alliums because they are so gorgeous and also because they spread their seeds all over so that now we have hundreds of them. That is my kinds of plant, anything that earns its keep like that is welcome in my garden. I have little regard for annuals.

Now if I can only learn to embroider them as easily as I grow them.....

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Oh My!

Oh my! My first thrift find of the day was this vivid cotton print which someone had used as a drape. So lush that I couldn't pass it up. Then I wandered out of the section containing household linens and checked out the fabric section...

The fabric on the far left is 100% linen, but the rest are cottons. So I merrily began filling my arms with these beauties, but soon realized I really needed a basket to manage my finds. So off to the front of the store for the basket and that's when I saw this sign 50% off all fabrics and wool... Okay, now you can understand what happened to this fabricaholic today.

These went into the basket.

And then these...

And then I rounded out my haul with some pink flannels (for my nieces) and some dino jammy fleece (for my nephews). Now this was a major fabric haul for me.

Yep, I turned more than a few heads and probably offended a few fellow sewers who were so unlucky as to be looking for cottons after I got there first. The really exciting bit is that I bought approximately 26m of fabric for just over $20. Not bad. (PS. If you click on any of the above photos you will get to see the fabrics enlarged). Oh, I did look through for some yarn since it was on sale, but there wasn't anything to tempt me. Of course that may be because I'd already filled up on fabric...

A little Springtime beauty

In the form of a Columbine...
or two...
They are one of my very favourite spring flowers. They seem so delicate yet they manage to survive in my garden each year. I have about 8 different kinds of Columbine and I've noticed tiny baby plants coming up which means they are happy enough in my yard to send out seeds.

What would Spring be without a Lilac?

I wish I could post the smell as well. It is absolutely amazing!