Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking forward to 2017

It's snowing today in my town. The lower par of the province has had huge amounts (for them) of snow this month, but all we've gotten so far was a long spell of cold, nasty weather, which was bad enough. It's not the temperature that's the problem here so much as the winds that lower the temperatures by as much as 10 degrees. Even though it's snowing now, there's very little wind and so the temperature is quite mild.

So I've restocked the bird feeder and put out some fresh apples that the house finches, flickers and blackbirds like. The goldfinches flock to the "sock" filled with nyger seed, and as I type this I an see a downy woodpecker in the tree next door.
My parents were enthusiastic amateur birders. I was never interested in them all that much, even though I grew up within a 90-minute drive of Point Pelee National Park - a birders' paradise. We used to go there often - for family drives, to visit friends in nearby Leamington or on school fieldtrips. As my parents would scan the trees for interesting birds, my oldest brother and I would follow along with our eyes glued to the ground, looking for the beautiful native ephemerals and other unique woodland flowers of southern Ontario.

About 11 years ago a few people began a Christmas Bird Count in this area and I went along to see if there was something I could use in the
newspaper I worked for. It was fun if one could ignore the frozen fingers and toes one suffered while tramping through the snow hunting the elusive birds. Eventually I bought a copy of Sibleys guide to birds and began feeding them, as my parents had. I assured my indoor cats that it was for their own amusement, but I can't deny that I enjoy watching the birds at my feeders as much as they do.

And so on this last day of 2016, the falling snow is picking up speed and the birds are chattering noisily in the front yard as they elbow their way to the feeders. And I should be at my sewing machine, but instead I am sitting at my computer while providing a comfortable lap for Rusty - a common scenario these days.

My last post reminded me of something I had forgotten because I hadn't posted in months - that my new blog interface was a horrible and clunky thing. It may well have been responsible for my absence from my blog this year, so I'm hoping that I'll get better as I use it more. It looks like I may be buying a new computer in the new year since this one seems to be dying... Which is too bad because I like this computer. It's also such a pain in the neck to switch all of your files to another computer, and I can't afford a new computer that's as good as this one, but it's been a good computer for nine years and it doesn't owe me anything. And perhaps a new computer
will offer a better interface for blogging.

So, although I haven't finished anything in two or three weeks, I have finished quite a few wallets and bags over the summer. I've made several more of these little wallets, using my experience with the pattern to fussy cut the fabric in some cases - it's a really nice, attractive, simple little compact wallet that I enjoy making.

I've also wanted to make this little Japanese knot bag for some time now, and once I got started, I couldn't stop. I just love the rounded bottoms that provide so much more space in a bag. There's more to making the handles that these instructions describe, so if you find yourself stumped, just drop me a line and I'll try and help you. These bags are very comfortable to carry and are great for holding a wallet, pair of glasses, keys
and other small items, and they look really sharp!

That's all that I have for today. It's time to start the macaroni and cheese casserole for supper - an old family recipe that's a big favourite for days like today. So, my best wishes to all of you for a happy and healthy 2018! I'll see you next year.

Until next time,


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

 Happy longest night of the year to everyone. Snuggle up! The days get longer from hereon in.

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. So long, perhaps, that I was afraid that I might forget how to do this!
The fact that my computer is dying doesn’t help me. However, we’ll forge ahead.

I may have been absent from my blog, but life hasn’t slowed down. Being retired only means that I no longer have an income. Good thing that I built up my stash while I was working. The above picture is Rusty (of course) making himself a nest in a very small part of my fabric collection – the part that covers the dining room table. I’m very bad, I know. I’m trying to use it up as fast as I can, but it doesn’t seem to make a dent in it.

In my spare time from my retirement activities (which I’ll tell you about one of these days), I’ve been making bags – more bags. I found this pattern from Around the Bobbin for The Annalise Bag over the summer while I was visiting my brother and his wife on Vancouver Island. It looked like it would be fun  to make, and it was! I made a practice bag – the orange one – before I made one for my sister-in-law, and I was very happy with the way they went together. I added a couple of pockets for my SIL’s bag, and included this little zipper pull that used to be an earring. The bags have given me the opportunity to use up lots of heavy duty “upholstery” fabric that I buy as cheap remnants. I used linen for the lining of her bag. I also made my very first yoyo as an embellishment for the front of the bag, and attached it with a metal “brad” – the circle has two metal prongs on the back that split in opposite directions.

I was happy with the first two I made, so I did two more. That was, as you can see from the photos, over the summer. Since then I’ve wandered on to some different   bag patterns. I was hoping to move onto some baby quilts and other “flat” pieces by now, but finding the time to commit to them is still hard to come by. In the past three weeks alone, I organized one indoor market and one Christmas concert, was involved in three more concerts, and spent today tromping around town looking for birds for our annual Christmas Bird Count. That was in addition to several other activities I was involved in as a town councillor, as I was elected to the municipal council back in June.

Like I said, life hasn’t slowed down any. And I don’t really want it to, either. It’s slowed down enough that Rusty and Ginger get a lot more lap time, and I have a bit more time to work in the yard in the summer. I actually got my vegetables planted on time this year, and planted flowers as well! It was a nice feeling. I’m hoping that I’ll get back into the habit of blogging as well. It’s not like I have nothing to blog about! Just as long as my computer keeps working.

Until next time,