Monday, 28 September 2009

Back to Earth

I woke up this morning to the sound of wind and rain pounding against the window. After yesterday's boisterous birthday bash, I actually welcomed the cozy, darkened mood of this wet and blustery day. The boys and I spent the morning coming back to earth after such an eventful weekend. While I sat snuggled up with my tea, Chi-Chi and Muffy occupied themselves with some great new books, new toys and half-deflated balloons!

Around noon, I decided it was finally time to shed my PJ's and emerge from our cave. I'm entering a few items in the Annual Surf Art Show at the Laughleton Gallery in West Chezzetcook and I needed to deliver my goodies. The show opens this Saturday and runs until November 1. The show is described as a celebration of surfing, the waves, coastal life, the ocean and seaside people. It's a creative gathering of surfers and non-surfers (like myself) from the community who all share a love of life by the ocean. As in the past, I'm entering a selection of my hooked rugs. These were a few I hooked earlier in the year, during the cold winter months where the boys and I found ourselves playing endless hours of basement hockey. I thought I'd add a little twist to my contribution this year by entering some of my hand-dyed wool skeins. I chose a collection of ocean inspired hues. My basket is overflowing with some Sea Lettuce, Low Tide, Seafoam, Tidepool, Stormy Seas and my favorite, Rainbow Haven Beach! If you live in the area and are in search of some fun on Saturday, I encourage you to check out the show. The beautiful drive down the Eastern Shore alone makes the trip worthwhile.

Upon returning to our cozy little nest, some quiet time was enjoyed by all. I love this shot of little Muffy snuggled up in his mama-made cozy kit. The bithday garbage truck most definitely had the spotlight at the party. Now that the dust has settled, I'm happy to see my little guy enjoying this special gift.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A Gift for my Cuddle Bug

This weekend, our family will be gathering to celebrate sweet Muffy’s third birthday! The festivities will be fun yet simple. My bug lovin’ boy’s only request is a stinkbug cake! Yes, there is going to be some creative baking going on this weekend. I’ll likely whip up my favorite chocolate zucchini cake recipe and do a bit of dissecting. He’s pretty particular about his bugs so I better get it right!

I’ve been chipping away at a very special gift for my little cuddle bug. With the cooler weather creeping in on us, I thought he could use his very own “cuddle kit” to keep him cozy and warm this winter. I set to work on creating a wool comforter/duvet and I’m so pleased with the results, I want one for myself! I used this tutorial as a starting point for the project. My goal was to source as much of it as possible from used materials. I purchased a bat of wool for the lining and sandwiched it between two repurposed bed sheets. I tied yarn at regular intervals to keep the wool from shifting and bunching. Because my little stinkbug can actually be little on the “stinky” side, a washable cover was an absolute must! I still had some sheeting left over from my curtain project so I paired it up with some new velvety soft flannel to create a cover. I’ve fallen in love with this quilt! It’s so soft and cozy and has an incredible weight and warmth to it. It measures 60" by 60", which seems just about perfect. I picture many hours of snuggling and cuddling under this blanket over the years, curled up with a few good books and a comforting serving of milk. To complete the “cuddle kit”, we purchased Muffy his own sheepskin rug. Chi-Chi received one a few years ago and it’s been a favorite spot to play or read. Since these rugs really only fit one child at a time, I though Muffy deserved his own.

I’m well aware that a handmade blanket does not classify as the most exciting gift for a three-year-old boy! I little birdie told me a shiny, new garbage truck just might be Muffy’s near future. Certainly, he’ll be over the moon about that truck! Though the cuddle kit lacks in the fun and flashy department, I know it will have lasting value and provide endless hours of comfort and love to my boy for a long time to come. My childhood blanket, “Ticky Bing-Bing”, is with me to this day! Ticky is now a mere ball of threads, but I still pull him out now and then and give him a hug. I may not tote him around like I used to, but the fond memories of him remain with me forever. He was a constant source of comfort for me as a child. The night I went into labour with Chi-Chi, I actually pulled out dear Ticky for a little dose of soothing

So, I hope my little stinkbug loves his special gift. If he doesn’t, I know someone who’d be happy to call it her own!!!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Autumn's Arrival

It's almost official! My calendar tells me that Autumn will make it's grand entrance tomorrow, though it has been making it's approach well known with crisp mornings and cool nights. We're blessed with blue skies and sunshine in our neck of the woods today. With Chi-Chi in preschool for the day, little Muffy and I are off to perform some clean up duties in the garden, and likely a bit of bug hunting as well.

I'm looking forward to getting out in the fresh air! I was feeling a little under the weather this past weekend so focused most of my efforts inside the four cozy walls of our home. With a batch of apple sauce on the stove, the boys and I set to work on revamping the family's seasonal nature table. Some of the bits of summer were tucked away in favor of autumn inspired objects. Anyone who owns a copy of Amanda Soule's latest book Handmade Home is likely familiar with the "fibre garland" project. Drawing inspiration from this idea, we cut leaf shapes from my rug hooking stash and created a set of vibrant garland to add some festive flair to the table. Chi-Chi in particular enjoyed this activity. He used a blunt darning needle to do the stringing and had no problem piercing the wool fabric. I crafted a few new items myself including a fall-foliage dyed playsilk and an autumn tree puzzle. My handmade wooden toys always add a bit of fun to the table. Muffy in particular loves playing make believe with them. In no time he was placing falling felt leaves under the tree to help in the decorating. The nature table has been such a huge success in our home, helping the whole family gain awareness of the gifts of each season.

With a whopping seven cords of firewood piled neatly in the backyard, my mind has also been on the upcoming wood stove season. Though it's a bit too early to light the stove just yet, I've been doing a bit of planning for those cozy reading sessions by the warmth of the fire. This past summer we picked up a couple of child's rocking chairs on our antiquing adventures. I recently did a bit of furniture rearranging to incorporate a rocking/reading nook into the living room. I thought the space could use an extra touch of comfort and warmth so I set to work on set of hooked chair pads for the little chairs. Though I actually started these chair pads over a month ago, I finally put the final touches on them this weekend. I've definitely neglected my rug hooking frame the past nine months so this was a nice fast and simple project to ease myself back into it. Chi-Chi and Muffy were quite pleased with the extra bit of padding for their little bums!

In the meantime, I think I'll throw on a pair of shorts and a tank top and get out to soak up the sun. Though the calendar tells me it's fall, I'm hoping to take advantage of the lingering hints of summer that still remain!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Every Rose has its....Rose Hip!

As a gardener living close to the majestic, yet unforgiving Atlantic Ocean, I'm always in search of plants that can sustain harsh seaside conditions. Through trial and error, I've managed to grow a rather eye pleasing perennial garden of flowers and shrubs that can hold their own against the bitter cold, wicked winds and stinging salt spray. Our rugosa rose bushes in particular have been very successful. Nothing pleases my nose more than their heavenly scent during an early-morning stroll through our garden path. With autumn drawing near, the beautiful pink blossoms of the summer have been replaced by plump, bright red fruit - rose hips.

Until recently, I had only admired rose hips for their beauty and the cheerful splash of color they added to my fall garden. Little did I know the culinary treat that I had growing in my own front yard! A long-time gardener friend introduced me to their edible nature after she enthusiastically picked a ripe red hip and began to nibble on it. Of course, I joined in on the fun and was pleasantly surprised by their tasty apple-like flavor. A few Google searches later and I had big plans to make my homegrown batch of rose hip jelly.

Despite a few thorns in my side, I was able to pick a few quarts in no time. Not only did I make a delicious batch of jelly, I even had enough left over to make yummy rose hip cake. Ironically, the cake recipe was supplied by Chi-Chi and Muffy, directly from the pages of one of their favorite story books, A Whole Day Full of Surprises from The Adventures of Broughton Bear series. My gardener friend (who has more patience than I do) seeded a basket of rose hips and popped them in the blender with a dash of honey. She claims it makes a very tasty topping to her morning yogurt. I just might give this a try!

As a bonus, rose hips are an excellent source of Vitamin C! With cold and flu season on its way, a little extra Vitamin C in the house might not be a bad idea. I've still got lots left to dry for a healthy and tasty cup of tea during the colder months.

Now I'm starting to wonder what other tasty treats are hiding in my flower garden....any suggestions?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Preliminary Preparations...

There is an undeniable hint of autumn in the air this past week. The cool mornings have me grabbing a warm sweater and woolly slippers for my morning cup of tea on the deck. Though I feel a sense of sadness to see the summer depart, I do look forward to the fall season. I dream of cuddling by the wood stove, eating crunchy apples and soaking up the golden hues around us.

The slight shift in the seasons has me instinctively preparing for the long, cold Nova Scotia winter ahead. My dye pot has seen lots of action over the last few weeks. A colorful set of skeins has already been delivered to my good friend April. In the near future, some very cute woolly goodness is going to be on the shelves at her shop. I can't wait to see the final product!! Of course, I could not neglect the cold weather needs of my own wee ones. I mixed up a recipe for this lovely shade of "sea lettuce" green and have been busy knitting up a new fall sweater for Chi-Chi. This is attempt number FOUR so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for success. My knitting to do list is growing by the day - hats, mittens, scarves for all members of the family.

I've also been tucking away bits of summer to pull out on the coldest and dreariest of days. The upcoming fall season has me dreaming of the yummy sauces, soups and stews that will be keeping us warm from the inside out. I purchased the most gorgeous organic tomatoes from our local CSA, Taproot Farms. I spent last evening blanching, peeling, chopping and freezing these sweet and tasty gems. On a bleak day in late January, I'm certain I will appreciate my efforts. I'm anticipating some seriously good Friday night spaghetti suppers in my future. I froze them in increments of 28 fl oz, the same size as a standard can of tomatoes. What a tasty and healthy alternative to the sodium-laden canned variety.

With the sun shining today, I'm off enjoy summer in all its glory! Fruit pop anyone?