Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Quilt and Cookies

Have you seen Hazel's new quilt? I think it's a lovely way to commemorate her Grandmother. I was mentioning to her that I made a similar quilt a few years back, though not as sweetly sentimental.

Nigel has always bought beautiful shirts to wear to work and when they would begin to wear out I couldn't bear to throw them out. So, I saved a few and then made a quilt.

The idea came from a Kaffe Fassett book called Glorious Patchwork. He calls it a "Bricks Quilt", though I've seen it in older books referred to as "The Canadian Soldiers Quilt". The story goes that wounded Canadian soldiers would work on quilts as therapy. If I remember the story correctly, the quilts were made out of discarded woolen uniforms. I had a quick search on the web, but couldn't find a reference to the tale, but, well, I read it somewhere at sometime.

Now, Nigel's shirts are hardly made of military grade wool, in fact, the cotton is very fine, and after many wears and washes, it becomes almost delicate. Not really the best choice for a quilt, and as a result I've had to patch it many times. Some of the rectangles go the same direction as the originals, and some the opposite.

It continues to disintegrate, and I had to artfully photograph around all the worn bits. It's a good thing I've got tons more shirts to cut up and use. It's also a good thing that Nigel consistently buys blue and white. There isn't any lurid canary yellow to have to contend with.

It was our turn for treat day at the office this week, so I made Linzer cookies. Now, for purists, Linzer cookies always contain almond extract or ground almonds, but I cheat a little in case there are allergies.

I make a basic shortbread dough (though this one is a little sweet and has a teaspoon of vanilla extract), you could also use sugar cookie dough.

Roll and cut the dough into hearts or circles, half plain and half cut with a small heart out of the centre.. Normally I use a little heart cutter, and then a smaller one for the centre of the tops, but I thought I'd do things differently this time and I used a fluted circle (this was a minor disaster, as the cookies were bigger than usual and I had to make more cookies to have enough for treat day). After they've been baked and cooled, spread the bottom halves (the solid ones) with seedless raspberry jam (or whatever seedless fruit spread you like), and dust the top halves with icing sugar, then sandwich them together.

Why, it's almost easy-peasy, except for all the effort.

The other cookies (the one's I made so that everyone could have a cookie) are super easy-peasy, no-bake, fantastics. Just take two ready made meringue cookies (I used Miss Meringue plain vanilla) dip the bottoms of each half in melted chocolate, a good one (I used Bernard Callebaut semi-sweet baking chips), stick them together, chill a bit in the fridge, et voila. And, even better, I made a batch in under fifteen minutes. Low-fat, wonderful, quick and impressive looking little cookies.

I suppose I should mention the idea came from the December issue of Weight Watchers magazine. I didn't actually read the recipe, I just looked at the picture and guessed, still though, I suppose they deserve the credit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dismal Cursed Ramblings

The weather has been DISMAL, I'm using that as my excuse for not blogging more frequently.

As I mentioned back in October, the leaves all fell early this year and the city has been looking quite bleak. Bits of rain and the odd dusting of snow, mostly overcast skies, it all adds up to a big drag and almost impossible to take a decent picture, inside or out. Of course, it's only a matter of time until the snow falls and stays, but I'm growing impatient for the blinding white of the deep snow. Today there was a bit falling. It was very pretty, like inside a snow globe.

I thought I'd take a moment and try taking a photo or two. Here are some vintage marbles:

I had to make them a little tissue paper nest, as our dining-room has a pronounced slope:

I really should learn more about vintage marbles. Apparently, collectors can tell by looking at a marble, who made it and it what era it comes from, and some of them are quite expensive. Not mine, they're just old.

I have a powerful affection for toys, both modern and vintage. I can't tell you where it comes from. I wasn't denied much as a youngster (compared to others of my era, not compared to kids today - my two have EVERYTHING). Marbles would have to land in the same boat as buttons for me, one needs lots and lots of them, and to turn them over and over admiringly. I love the scene in Amelie, where the title character plunges her hand into a big barrel of grain in pursuit of a simple pleasure. I feel the same way about marbles, and buttons. Wouldn't that be glorious, a big tub of buttons to plunge your hand into and swirl them all around? Oh, joy and rapture!

I have another little item, unrelated to the first. I need to confess that part of our house is haunted. The landing between the first and second floors. It's CURSED.

No matter what plant I buy for this beautiful big bay window that faces east, it dies almost immediately.

I bought this plant just three weeks ago at Shelmerdine's (a very reputable plant shop). Already it's almost finished:

And don't start thinking it's me, we have other plants that have fared well for years:

No, it's not me. It's the cursed landing.

If anyone knows how to get rid of a curse, please let me know, keeping in mind that I've de-cluttered (fairly thoroughly) and have done all the burning of sweetgrass and chanting that I'm capable of.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Contribution

Has everyone heard about Oliver's Blanket? It's a charity knit project to help raise money for a boy in the UK named Oliver (you can visit his Mum's blog here). Oliver has cerebral palsy and is always in need of new equipment, so fund-raising is a constant for this family. Andrea at Noricum was knitting up these 4-inch squares for the project and I thought I'd join in.

I made some from Lanett Superwash Merino in red and green:

The yarn was leftover from mittens I made for Ian last winter:

Before the red and green, I made some squares in Mission Falls 1824 100% Wool Superwash Merino:

Beautiful colours, but after I had made them I bothered to read more about the project and realised they were looking for 4 ply weight, not knitting worsted. Oh well, I sent them all in anyway.

The project is being spear-headed in the UK over at Stashbasket and it's been picked up in North America by Mason-Dixon Knitting. The deadline for the squares to be sent to Mason-Dixon is November 30Th, so there's still time if you're quick. If you want to buy a raffle ticket instead of knitting squares you can at Pretty Posies (that's Oliver's Mum's Blog)

From my last post, Shelagh had asked to see a better picture of the small stained-glass window in the door between our kitchen and dining-room:

This is on a swinging door, so it's sensible to have a bit of glass, yes?. The panel has a green-grey border and the central motif is a bronze-brown, similar to the woodwork trim on the main-floor of our house.

I much prefer this glass panel insert:

It's on a door between the dining-room and media room. The glass is very beautiful, covered in etched leaves :

Gorgeous, but a bit of a brute to photograph.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fresh Paint

I haven't done much knitting this week, but instead I painted the dining-room.

When we first moved into the house I painted the dining-room a deep red. More or less the same colour as the dining-room at the old house, which I loved. The last house, though, had white trim and pale maple floors, whereas this one has dark teaky coloured trim and spice coloured oak floors (pegged oak, no less). We also bought a very beautiful dining set in a dark espresso finish, at the last house we didn't have a dining set, just a large rush mat and a giant wicker chair in the middle of the room. There were built-in shelves on one wall, so it had the look of a reading room. Our bunny, Pip, loved to chew on both the mat and the chair, so the room also had the look of a barn, but I digress.

I found the red in the newer, but older, house too dark and dreary, even at times oppressive, so I painted. Here are some before shots:

I painted with a Ralph Lauren Regency Metallic, colour Champagne Toast. It's quite nice, not as metallic as you might think. It has a deep satiny look, a bit shimmery, but not cheap looking, very nice. Here's a little look:

On the week-end, Nigel and I will be discussing artwork for the walls in this room and the living-room. We've been putting it off for the three years we've lived here. It's a bit like picking children's names, I'm expecting this to be a long and arduous task. With luck I'll post next week with some decisions...maybe...hopefully.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wendy Boston

This is Wendy Boston. She was a Christmas present for me when I was two (that's going to make her 41 years old this December). I'm not going to tell you she's the most beautiful of the dolls I have, but she's certainly the one I've had the longest and I think she's probably my most beloved. Originally she was wearing a pale pink organza dress. I have a vivid memory of this despite my possessing a poor memory for many other things, and she was gifted to me by my maternal grandmother. She also had shiny black button eyes and a red button nose. Unfortunately, I was a little monster when I was younger and I pulled off her eyes and nose! My mother, being more thoughtful than I, kindly embroidered her some new features

I made her a dress recently (not that that makes up for past sins).

This pattern, this view. She also has matching knickers, but she's a modest old girl and won't show them to you. As the weather has turned now, I knit her a little cardigan too:

A girl's got to keep cosy.

I didn't have a pattern for this, I just made it up as I went along (dolls never complain about the fit). I used some leftover Fiddlesticks Country Silk that I had used to make a clapotis shawl last year.

I've decided I'm going to bring her with me whenever I wear this shawl.