Wednesday, 30 May 2012

What's On My Frame

Sorry, I haven't had much to report, hooking-wise of late. A complete lack of hooking time has been making me insane. I thought I'd just share what's out in my hooking room and what's on my frame.

So I just finished this small hanging, just steamed it and have to finish the edges.

Sorry about the shadow that my camera adds to the bottom left corner - drives me nuts!

And I finished this one a while ago but just steamed it. It's called 'Greening up the Escarpment' and was a mini assignment/trial that I did as part of Deanne Fitzpatrick's online course. The challenge was to do a rug all in one colour.

And this is what's on my frame right now. Just started it a couple of days ago. Not planned at all, taking it by the seat of my pants. I seem to do that a lot lately.

There we go, not very exciting, in fact....really boring, but at least you see what I'm working on. I have a large portrait that I'm just about to start, but I want to get at least a teensy bit of it done before sharing any of it. I still need to transfer my pattern to linen. Need a chunk of time in daylight, not something I have an abundance of.

The Long Awaited Kitchen Reno Pics

I know, I know these were promised a long time ago. But really we only finished about a week ago because the brand new high end dishwasher wouldn't work when installed. Then we waited over a week for a part, then half a week for dude to come back and install it. So really, I couldn't honestly take 'done' pics until now.

And well frankly, we're really not done because there's no backsplash. It doesn't seem too bad in person, but these pics point out the need for it. But alas, we'll be waiting a while for that because when you've had your kitchen upside-down for months, you're not anxious to go there again for a while.

So here are some lovely, oh so lovely, before pics. Why oh why did we feel the need to.....oh ya, it was hideous.

You can see my attempt to improve the cabinets once upon a time - painted the lower cabinets but it didn't work too well. This photo also features the miracle faucet, held in place by calcification. That was Rocketman's favourite part!

You will see in the after photos that we ripped out this closet/pantry. It allowed us to move the fridge further along, so we could actually have more than 3 feet of countertop. We're livin' large now!

Just for your entertainment, here are some during photos:

I actually cooked on the stove with it pulled out like this many a night.

It was helpful that we yanked out that closet because behind it lurked the ductwork and we found it gaping open - explained the cool upstairs despite having put in a high efficiency furnace. All is right in the heating world now too, or well, was right until it turned to summer. It will help with the air conditioning as well, obviously.

And here's how it's looking today. Yes, still have to paint around the window, eagle eyes! And you can see that it's needing some backsplash. But that will be fun when the time comes.

This last one is a whole new wall of cabinetry. There was just a baker's rack here before which wasn't too efficient. Working much better for us now.

So despite this total gut job and lengthy reno....two things haven't changed. Do you know what they are? 1) The fridge is still covered in kindergarten artwork; and 2).....

Charley is still more interested in what's happening outside the kitchen than what's happening inside.

So now you know why I'm hooked on cooking and baking these days!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Grow Your Own Grass

No, I am not a proponent of making your home into a grow-op. That's not what I'm talking about, sheesh! I'm talking about wheat grass, which once upon a time I mentioned would be an upcoming topic. And here it is.

So besides sprouts, you can also easily grow your own wheat grass. First you needs seeds, a growing container (this one is called the SproutMaster) and some growing medium.

This growing medium shown in the picture is called baby blanket. It's a natural material, felted, and easy to cut to the size you need. This piece that I bought is going to last a very long time.

The growing medium needs to be cut to fit, then soaked in water. The seeds also need to soak for a while, just like they do for sprouts. Then the baby blanket gets placed in the bottom of the growing tray, and the seeds spread out in a single layer on top.

Spritz the seeds twice a day. Don't be misled by my misleading photo - beside the spritzer is a jar of alfalfa sprouts. I didn't discuss them because we've already been there, done that.

Then after a few days, you will have wheat grass.

Voilà! Munch away. I just tasted some and I like the grass better than the sprouts, they're not as sweet. Now you can use them in smoothies, etc. without having to pay big bucks. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Who Knew?

I discovered a new website the other day, that's actually quite intriguing. It's essentially a "funding platform for creativity". So entrepreneurs with ideas, innovations, etc. can outline their idea and request funding. Then anyone can peruse the different projects and decide if they might like to fund one of them. Each project has a fundraising goal and a timeline to meet that goal by. And in most cases, if you pledge at a certain minimum level, then you will receive a bonus from that entrepreneur once they get up and going (if).

The website is and you can choose to look through a number of different categories such as art, music, photography, fashion, and many more. I took a stroll through the art section looking to see if there were any fibre (that's 'fiber' for non-Canadians) ideas.

I can't say I spent a great deal of time on the site, but I did find it interesting and found one fibre nut! It's Becka and you'll quickly see that she loves to dye yarn. So when I visited again today I saw that Becka had met her fundraising goal, but she's still got 18 days to go, so that means you can still pledge her. Check it out, it might be something that even works for yourself for that idea that's been jostling around your noggin for a while. Becka's page can be found here. If nothing else, go watch her video for the awesome eye-candy!

I'm not affiliated with kickstarter at all, and no, I don't know Becka from a hole in the wall. But my first impression was a positive one, and since I'm just such a sharing type.....well, you know the rest.

I'm hooked on yarn also!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

One Week Later

Okay, so it's not quite Sunday night, but since it's sooooo hot outside, I gave up gardening for a bit to come in and quickly update you on my "get stuff done" week.

So, I actually didn't do too badly. Methinks I need to get similarly motivated every week. I did a ton of other things also; like stuff around the house that was driving me nuts. Cleaned some windows, cleaned some curtains, touched up some paint jobs, cut the grass, pulled a million and one dandelions, then gave up.

So the list, here we go:

  • mail thank you package to one person
  • mail swap mat to another
  • finish sky on house rug
  • finish edges on the "Greening up the Escarpment" mini-mat
  • finish Spirit Moose rug - worked on it but not finished
  • create a list of all the ideas for rugs floating around my mind
  • prep the photo file for my portrait rug
  • check my dyes and plan out the dyeing for the portrait rug (because I actually figured out how I'm going to do this rug tonight)

  • Not bad, not bad at all. Hoping to dye tonight, maybe when the sun goes down and it's not so hot out. No I'm not complaining, it's nice that the weekend has been so amazing.

    I am ssooooooooo hooked on long weekends!

    Wednesday, 16 May 2012

    Some Progress and a Hint

    Well, despite my grumbling I am making some progress this week. Having a “go forth and get things done” mindset is definitely helping. I finished the house rug last night, or so I thought. I pulled it off the frame and tried it on the bench/chair that it’s for. It seems that I need another row or two to give enough room for covering the seat sufficiently. And alas, I have done what I frequently do……I have run out of ‘sky’ wool. So I will add additional foreground instead I guess. Can you say “oops”? Anyway, I don’t usually like to show ‘in progress’ photos but decided I would show you. The bench itself needs to be sanded and painted, and the rug obviously needs to be steamed and readied for the upholstering process, but here it is.

     And the hint. Well today I have mailed off two packages. One was a bit of a thank you to EM for sending me some information, so watch for that if you’re reading EM! And the second package mailed was sent to KF, which was my summer swap piece. I can’t show you the finished mat until she receives it (wouldn’t want to spoil her surprise), but below is a little snippit of that rug just to tease you mercilessly.

    Hooked on finishing!

    Tuesday, 15 May 2012

    High Horse

    Yup, my high horse, not the low one, that's what I was on Sunday night. Yup, just out of the blue i declared it was UFO finishing week, without a thought to the appointments, activities and obligations of the week ahead. Well when my brain actually allowed the thought of the week's activities to push through, I said to myself "self, you're an idiot, you got all task-oriented and goal-list-y (yes I also allow myself to invent words) and gave no thought to everything else you have to do this week". Well as some say "my bad". So we'll see how I do with that list in my previous post, could be a good laugh for us all at the end of the week.
    I should share with you that I said to Smidge on Sunday, "you need to start your own rug hooking project".
    She said "yes, I'd like that".
    And I said, "okay we'll use that hoop for you and I'll cut a piece of burlap....".
    "No mom, not burlap, I have to use linen because remember I'm allergic to burlap", she interrupted.
    Yes you heard that right, my 5-year-old is a linen snob. She sneezed once when she was around burlap, and that was it, she self-declared a burlap allergy.
    I said, "okay I'll cut you a piece of linen, and then you can draw a picture to hook and get hooking".
    "Ok, can we do it now? I want to get started", she responded.
    Well, what followed was another in a long line of motherly failures on my part, I didn't have time to do it right then. I had just opened my mouth and spoken without thought, a classic error.
    So on top of the already ridiculous long list of things to do this week, I really should get my daughter started on her hooking project that I have suggested. I guess I was feeling that it's important that she start hooking now, before she turns 6. Time's a-wasting, don't ya know? ha ha. And of course I'm now wondering where I have put spare hooks and whether I'll be able to find one to get her started. Maybe that means I had better add "clean up hooking room" to the aforementioned list!
    oh my.....

    Sunday, 13 May 2012

    Happy Mother's Day

    Hey folks, just thought I'd drop in to say "Happy Mother's Day" to all. Even if you're not technically a mom, I bet you 'mother' your friends, nieces, friends' kids and generally contribute to the molding of the next generation.

    I had a lovely day: breakfast was made for me and dinner was ordered in. Plus lots of gifts (photos to come) and hand-made cards from Smidgie.

    I've decided that this week is tackle-the-UFOs week. I mentioned that to Rocketman and he took 5 minutes to try to figure it out and then gave up. He had 'object', and that's all. So I'm currently trying to complete the house rug. And I'm hoping that I can dig in this week and get the following done:
    • mail thank you package to one person
    • mail swap mat to another
    • finish sky on house rug
    • finish edges on the "Greening up the Escarpment" mini-mat
    • finish Spirit Moose rug
    • create a list of all the ideas for rugs floating around my mind
    • prep the photo file for my portrait rug
    • check my dyes and plan out the dyeing for the portrait rug (because I actually figured out how I'm going to do this rug tonight)

    So I'm hooked again on hooking and it feels good. I'll be reporting in when I have accomplishments to show!

    Tuesday, 8 May 2012

    New to the Neighbourhood

    Just a quick post to show you what I'm hooking right now. I found this antique bench at a thrift store, so I decided to hook a cover for the seat. I decided to do something somewhat whimsical and this is what I've got so far.

    Need to push ahead and get that sky done. And I have to re-finish the bench/seat itself. I'll post some pictures of it as I get closer to the finish with this project.

    And I'm off to hook! As soon as a million other things get done.

    Little Sprouts

    It took a few days to get all the photos necessary to share with you the very simple process of growing your own sprouts. If you get worried about eating sprouts bought at the store, for fear of getting sick from them, this is the solution. It's also a great thing for kids to be part of, watch happen and then enjoy.

    So first you will need a large mason jar, fine mesh (how fine depends on the seeds you're using) and an elastic band. Oh, and water, you need water.  

    Pick your sprouts du jour. We have quite a variety to choose from, and it's amazing how different each one tastes. There's a daikon radish sprout that we've grown that is hot, hot, hot!! Yowzers. Most people are familiar with alfalfa sprouts, but there's so much more you can do.

    Here's the Smidge picking out two varieties with her Jersey hair on a Saturday morning, in last year's pyjamas. Yup, we're photogenic around here.

    Next you measure out some seeds in the jar. The amount you use depends on the size of the seed. For teensy seeds like the ones we've chosen here, you only use 1 tbsp. For a very large seed, you would use 1/2 cup. Then you place your mesh over the mouth of the jar, and secure with a rubber band.

    You then add water until the jar is half-filled and allow the seeds to soak for about 4-6 hours.

    After that amount of time, you drain out the water (hence your mesh better be securely in place). And lay the jar in a tilted postion with the top down. So I use a soup bowl, to have the jar on an angle. You want to make sure that you shake the seeds about (and do the hokey pokey) so that they're spread out in the jar.

    Each morning and evening, you add a bit of water, shake the water about to get the seeds wet, drain the water, and replace the jar in its inclined position.

    Depending on the seed type, you'll have sprouts in 3-10 days. So if you have a fast growing sprout, you'll start to see progress by day 1.

    And with the quick-growing seeds, you'll have sprouts in about 3 days, and if your family is like mine, you'll come home to find them half eaten. Thanks Rocketman.

    Et voilà!

    If you're interested, Mumm's is a great supplier of organic seeds and the stuff you need to get started (they also offer free shipping on orders over $25 in Canada or over $50 for US customers). If you don't want to get too much to start, your health food store may sell seeds, so you could get just one little packet to try. Be adventurous though, it's fun to try all the different flavours. I'll post again soon on our adventures of growing wheat grass.

    Yup, we're hooked on growing our own food, one painfully slow jar at a time. 

    Saturday, 5 May 2012

    And more baking

    I made a couple of batches of scones this afternoon. We have new neighbours this week, who originally hail from the U.K., so I thought it might be nice to bring them some scones. I figured they won't have had time to bake yet, if they're so inclined at all. And it was a good excuse to bake more.

    So I'm going to share a friend's scone recipe. It's also easy, and pleasing to most.

    Nana Peg's Basic Scones
    2 cups All-purpose flour
    1/4 cup white sugar
    4 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 cup butter (i find this recipe easiest when the butter is soft)
    1/2 cup currants (optional)
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup milk

    Mix all dry ingredients together. Mix the wet together in a small bowl, then add with the butter (depending on whether you consider this a wet ingredient or not), and then mix dry with wet until just blended. Do not overblend. Drop dough in scone-sized globs (now there's some good kitchen lingo for ya) onto baking sheet (lined with parchment or non-stick silicone baking mat). Bake in 400F oven for approx 15 minutes. Take them out when they're cooked through (I know what you're thinking but you've got to come to the table with some basic knowledge) and just getting golden-brown on their juts and edges. Makes about 18. They won't last long...seriously. As long as you don't overbake them.

    When the Smidge and I delivered them (along with some delish lemon-blueberry scones - a recipe for which I can't take credit), the one new neighbour had just arrived home. She didn't take more than about 20 seconds to fish a scone out and bite in. We decided to deliver some to the other neighbours too, since Mr. B. was involved in the dishwasher non-installation. Get it, non-installation.....okay more on that later, when I can speak nicely about it.

    Hooked on baking, yes I am. And yes, Nana Peg herself is originally from the U.K. too, so it was like a reunion of sorts....well not really, but in my demented way I thought it made sense.

    And then there was baking

    At long last, I was able to have a baking afternoon today, well a partial afternoon, there are enough weeds about to occupy an army. And no, since you're asking, the kitchen is not 100% but that's okay. Do not ask about the dishwasher (when I have something nice to say about the dishwasher, I'll say it). I have a countertop and running water, that's all I need to make it a great day for baking.

    I thought I'd share my basic, yet healthy carrot muffin recipe. No these aren't glamourous, just like me. They aren't decadent, but they're good, and they're healthy. And they're easy and happily eaten by 5-year-olds. In fact, I made these once and my friend's little guy, I think he was 2 or 3 at the time, ate his liner and all. 'nuff said.

    Ally's Carrot Muffins

    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp salt
    2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
    2 eggs
    1 cup grated carrots
    1 tsp vanilla

    Stir together all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry at the same time. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are well blended. Spoon into 12 lined muffin cups - about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake at 350F for 22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Et voilà!

    Smidgie's hooked on these carrot muffins, and as her mom, I say, hey that's not a bad thing. Figure it out folks, that's 1/24th of a cup of sugar per muffin, and the rest of the ingredients are awesomely healthy. Go forth and eat muffins young girl.

    Thursday, 3 May 2012

    The Rocket Sandwich

    Okay, so the kitchen is almost finished, more pics and details later on that. Not today, I want to get a couple more things finito first.

    But tonight it's just the Smidge and I, as the Rocketman is working an afternoon shift (don't bother trying to come by and blow our house down because he works locally and is always circling by). Because the Smidge had swimming class, we didn't get home until after 6, so I wanted to make a quick dinner. So here's the scoop on a Rocket Sandwich. It is by no means glamourous. But if anyone's thinking I'm remotely glamourous, then you don't know me very well.

    Actually I have to say the Rocket Sandwich is named after its inventor, none other than the Rocketman. He had already invented these when I met him and I have to say they are awesome because: a) they're fast; b) they're delicious; c) you're more than likely to have all the ingredients in the house at any given time; d) if you don't you can make substitutions because, as I eluded to, this isn't cordon bleu cooking; and e) they fill that need for comfort food. Ah yes, they're all that and more.

    First decide on whether you're going to use 2 or 3 eggs per sandwich. I went a little crazy tonight and used 3, but usually I just have 2. I'm a bit of a glutton, don't tell. You need to crack them in a frying pan as if you're going to simply fry them. Put two slices of bread in the toaster, then boogie over to the stove and break the sacred rule of frying eggs - break the yolk. Don't balk, just do as you're told.

    Then prepare the other ingredients: mayo, ketchup, cheddar cheese. Cut slices of the cheese to line one piece of toast. Add mayo and ketchup, to your heart's content on the other slice of toast. Now this is critical. Once the eggs are cooked through, place them on top of the cheese, so that the heat from the eggs melts the cheese.

    No, it's not a lovely photo, I didn't say this was a photography blog. This is a "here's how to not do photography" blog. Stay tuned for more brutal photography.

    Then put the two sides of the sandwich together, cut down the middle and enjoy while it's still hot.

    Ta da, I introduce to you, the Rocket Sandwich. Not necessarily the best thing for the waistline, but this is not a dieting blog either.

    And yes, you guessed it, I'm hooked on Rocketman....and his Rocket sandwiches.

    Bigger isn't necessarily better

    No, this is not an x-rated post. You people...(shaking head)....honestly.

    While making dinner tonight, and every night, I enjoy looking at the Smidge's artwork on the fridge, and one wee piece of my own. It's amazing how much I enjoy it, considering it took about 5 minutes or less.

    I left a bit of the photo above it where it's placed on the refrigerator, to give you some perspective on its size.

    It's my house magnet. Hooked with leftover worms (wool strips, for the uninitiated), glued on the back to hold it all together. Though normally I usually only glue around the outside of the hooking, very close to the last loops, to hold the linen backing together. Then the backing is snipped away as close as possible without cutting into the loops or that last strand of linen holding the loops in place.

    You'll see below that I recycled old magnets taken off used grocery list pads, cut one of them in half, and glued it to the back of my house.

    The best thing is that you get the satisfaction of finishing something quickly. It's a good little piece to sell at craft shows, or add to a homemade gift. You can obviously do all kinds of shapes. Let your imagination run wild....just not that kind of wild, this is a family show, people.

    I'm kinda hooked on these little mats, and recycling, I think I'll do some more tonight.