Thursday, December 24, 2015

It's a Charlie Brown Christmas!

Poor Charlie Brown - destined to put that red ball on his wee tree for eternity! I know how he feels - my tree leans to the right and the star leans to the left. But I don't dare touch it - it just needs to stay in place for a week or so.

Oh crap, I made the mistake of leaning forward on my chair and now Luna is behind me - she's a rascal - if I leave my chair for 5 seconds she nabs it. She loves to be in or under - wherever it is warmest. This morning she climbed up on my bed between the comforter and upper sheet - she keeps me warm and lies very still while I meditate....she's a good girl.

Luna is like royalty - she moves solemnly and with great majesty. She reminds me of the great Sphinx with her legs stretched out in front of her. Lily is like the court jester - constantly running and jumping around, being silly. Right now she is running back and forth from the front door to the patio doors - there's a ginger cat out front and squirrels out back and it's driving her crazy. Luna just watches her with infinite patience. She knows Lily will get tired out eventually.

It is Christmas Eve. I hope everyone is settled in with their loved ones waiting the great arrival. From my home to yours I wish you the very best of Christmases!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Cost of Christmas

I really don't want to know!

Actually, it's not that bad. I started December with a misc budget of close to $1,000.00. That had to cover all gifts (Kazi, her boyfriend, neighbour, 3 girlfriends, 2 brothers, 1 sister-in-law plus her mother and brother, my nephew his wife and their son - my great-nephew). Oh...and me!! (my gifts to me are all from the used bookstore! I hope Luna doesn't pick the one I want to read first!)

And let's not forget Luna and Lily...I bought some treats and toys for their stockings...sorry, Lily, you have to wait til Friday!!!

But that's not all. My misc budget also covers entertainment - eating out, going for drinks etc. It covers decorations - I bought a new (fake) Christmas tree (40% off) and light up wall decoration...(70% off!)

...and then there's the baking supplies...Bulk Barn LOVES me!

...and the Christmas candy...yes, they follow me wherever I go! (Bulk Barn)

...the craft supplies... (Walmart and Michael's)

...and the liquor too! (tastes the same as Bailey's at a third of the cost!)

Christmas can easily get out of hand - I saw in the financial news today that Canadians are the worst abusers of their credit the entire WORLD!!  So...I must confess....that I used my President's Choice Mastercard for ALL of my purchases...then went home and promptly paid them off! Why? So I would have enough points to purchase Kazi's new comforter set and new pillows, new sheets and all of her stocking gifts!! That's what saves my bacon every year - POINTS! 

My cheap thrifty ways continue into retirement! My gift giving this year includes crocheted wash/dish cloths along with new Body Shop soaps and lotions;  homemade treats and 2nd hand books. Points bought the new stuff and my baking supplies were bought in bulk. I'm not a label whore so Cartier's Irish Cream is very satisfying. 

I am proud to announce that I still have $$ left in my chequing account! Not a huge amount but enough to get me to the end of the month. My fridge is stuffed and my truck has a full tank of gas. I vowed to myself I wouldn't take money out of savings and I didn't. Yippeeeeeee! 

Did you have a Christmas budget? Did you stick to it?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Almost Forgot to Put a Title!!

Everyone ready for the big day? Nope, me either, but I'm getting closer to being done than I was in my last post. I've got four dish/hand cloths made and have given two away; I was lucky to find a big ball of cotton yarn in Christmas colours at Walmart; I use a variety of stitches with the main pattern being single crochet alternating with double crochet. I still struggle with turns and sometimes it looks like I've lost a stitch or three!

I've been baking, sort of - most of what I'm making doesn't require the oven like this yummy cashew brittle. This batch turned out great but two other batches are more like fudge than toffee. Still tastes good though! I also made haystacks (chow mein noodles, peanuts and melted semi-sweet chocolate with a sprinkle of sea salt for added interest!) for the first time and they turned out well. My sister, Lannie, always made haystacks but now she's living in PEI so I have to make my own!

I found a spool knitter at Michael's and am using the leftover yarn I find at Talize (thrift store) - I'm amazed at how quickly it works up - I should have a good sized rug by the end of the winter!

I gave one piece of carved soapstone as a gift (sorry, no photo) and am finishing up the piece below for another gift; this piece is made of an opaque harder type of soapstone that I've never used before and is testing my skills - I love how it lets the light shine through it:

Here's my friend, Robyn, with me at the Village Pub. She's a fabric artist and gave me the SPIRAL pin below! The spiral shape continues to follow me - Annie and I encountered many spirals as we travelled along Hadrian's wall. I've done a wee bit of research and the spiral can represent the journey from the external to the internal which also explains the journey of meditation (outer world to inner world). 

We shared a veggie pizza and a bottle of chianti and had many great and creative ideas while talking - like forming an art collective for women in the Wortley Village area of London...stay tuned...that could just be the wine talking.....

And here's beautiful Luna sitting in the cupboard beside my chair where I work. I cleaned out the cupboard which is REALLY OLD (it belonged to my gramma and was black when I got it back in the 1980's - I have since refinished it); to make room for my yarn etc but Luna decided it was a good spot to keep her eye on me - you never know when a treat might come along!

And that's it for now. There have been several get togethers with friends and I'm heading to a friend's house this afternoon. There was a wee bit of snow in the air yesterday with the Toronto area getting a couple of centimetres. But the temps are going back up again next week bringing rain and highs in the teens!! Yikes!

Just a few more days and then Christmas come and go once again. Months of preparation for a few hours of chaos!

Monday, December 14, 2015


I can't get Adele's latest single out of my head! I. LOVE. IT. There's another version of "Hello" I like too, it's a more rocked out sound sung by Lukas Rossi who back in 2006 won "Rockstar Supernova" and the chance to play with members of Metallica, Guns n' Roses, and Motley Crue - a superband of sorts.  (Obviously they didn't have much commercial success). I don't usually watch shows like that but because Lukas was (and still is!) Canadian and super talented I got behind him and he won! Then I promptly forgot all about him, yes, I am fickle like that. I never thought of him again until his youtube version of "Hello" went viral. It's Adele's song so I prefer her lung power but Lukas really turns it on its head and gives it an amazing sound.

There endeth the music trivia for today. (Anyone tired of Christmas music yet??)

Well, what's happening in this wee corner of the universe? I've started to dream about crocheting so maybe it's time to put that aside for awhile! But lookee lookee! I've actually finished something!

Aren't I just a crocheting wizard?? My first ever dishcloth/washcloth in Christmas red. I saw on a website one of these folded twice with a lovely bar of soap on top secured with a Christmassy ribbon. It looked really cute - that's where I'm headed and I have another halfway done in green. If I can figure out how to add a border in white then I will. Otherwise- I won't.

I've made a wee bit of progress in Christmas preparations, though not much. I find it's much more fun to wait until the last minute and stress-buy instead! Hah! Okay people, I have the whole year now to prepare for Christmas so what gives? I was more prepared than this when I was working full-time! It seems the older I get the less Christmas spirit I have.  The worst part for me, I think, is trying to figure out what to get for the people on my list - everyone is OLD and already has a house full of stuff! People don't want or need or have the space for another doodad. So the past few years I've stuck to consumables - wine, homemade treats like cashew brittle or Christmas Crack and so on. Things gradually get eaten and drunk (HAH) and therefore take up no space. Sooooo I'm making a list today of what I need to buy to make said yummy treats and Kazi and I will bake next week.

Cards I have written and sent out, the house is decorated and semi-clean, get togethers planned with friends and family.

I received some really bad news the evening of the Mardi Gras and I know that has me feeling really sad. One of my friends that was at the dinner found out that day that she has two tumours in her uterus and will be having a biopsy this week. While she was at the cancer clinic she saw her sister-in-law, her brother and nephew. They had just found out that their three year old boy has leukemia! It's very serious and he's had a blood transfusion, samples taken from his bone marrow and spine and has already started on chemo. I went online to register for donating stem cells but was declined - they are only registering men between 17 and 35 who have an ethnic or idigenous background. I have to keep checking back.

Send out prayers my friends for this family as they go through a horrendously difficult time.

On a happier note...

CAT TV is back on with Luna and Lily being teased by Mr. Black Squirrel on a daily basis. He often comes right up to the patio door and pushes his rodent nose up against the glass and gleefully gives them the raspberry. They are not amused! But they are entertained!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Bit of This and That

Every year at Fanshawe College the students in the Culinary & Events programs put on a shindig to end all shindigs! This year the theme was Mardi Gras and so on Friday night my friends and I ate everything from hushpuppies and catfish to gumbo and blackened beef sirloin ( as I don't eat red meat I gave my piece to the 3rd member of our group for her husband) ....oh, mustn't forget the Oysters Rockefeller and Cajun Shrimp!  There's my friend Troy (she used to work in this program so we get a BIG discount on the ticket price :) There was a Dixieland band playing during the evening. I eat so simply that I found I had stomach cramps for the rest of the night and all the next dayfrom the rich sauces and hot spicy food - at least I THINK that's the reason!! I hope they teach FOOD HYGIENE in this course!!
**Last year at this dinner it was snowing like crazy outside - this year there is narry a flake in sight - well except for me hee hee!

LOOK - I had a giant head!! A pretty good selfie - I managed to get us both in! Kelly hadn't arrived yet.

The students do everything: cook, bake, choose the menu, make the decorations including the beautiful centrepieces,  set up, take down and so on.

Then on Sunday I went to a potluck with my fellow Council of Canadian members and no,  - "duck" was not on the menu. Just Aldous ducking horsing around!

We were celebrating the birthday of the group's chairperson, which is Roberta - red hair on the right side of the table.

It was a really yummy potluck - Roberta and her husband provided 2 big crockpots of homemade soup and then we brought things like salad, rolls, dips, wine and desserts. I took a big round pumpernickel loaf and spinach dip. There were 4 or 5 desserts - I had a thin slice of carrot cake, a piece of apricot tart and some cheesecake that was gluten-free, sugar-free, lactose free and yet was totally scumptious! (Though, if there's no dairy in it how can it be called "cheese" cake?)

Will I never learn? I didn't have stomach cramps this time - I ate very small portions but I have noticed my clothes are shrinking a little. That must soon be dealt with!

Here's my friend Julie staking out a chair for the movie we watched after dinner - "Stranger than Fiction" with Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson. It's one of Roberta's favourites and I highly recommend it!

At home I continue to crochet and rip out, crochet and rip out, cro........!!! Lily is checking out my latest attempt and agrees that it is looking more even down the sides and the tension is pretty good.

This is going to be (in my dreams) a man's hat; this is the brim so far. I'm thrilled I've managed to do this much! I may or may not get it done before Christmas, lol!   Hmmmmm, just had a thought, if I made it for a baby it would almost be done!!

We needed a new tree because when Michael lived here we would go and chop down a real tree but I prefer an artificial tree. This one was on sale at Walmart and it came with lights already on it. I liked it because it is narrow yet tall. I have only put one ornament on it so far just to see if the kitties will acclimate to something new in their environment. Well...

So far it's going great!! The kitties are just not interested in the tree at all! Said with dripping sarcasm!

We haven't had much (NO) interest in our birdfeeders yet, well, just a squirrel or two but so far they are unable to get to the bird seed. I'm sure they'll figure it our eventually! I read about this idea last year and had great success with it - and it's so easy and thrifty! Take empty toilet paper rolls, slather them with peanut butter and roll them in birdseed. Can you say "cheap cheap"! I stuck one on a rake and one on my butterfly ornament. You can't really see but I put a bowl of niger seed over ont the storage unit as I read squirrels don't eat niger seeds.

I assume we've had little activity because there is NO snow. I'm going to go out on a branch.....well, perhaps a small twig (because I think it's a pretty safe bet) and predict a green Christmas in these parts. With temperatures ranging in the 10c range the only precipation in our forecast is rain! I'm not complaining - it means I can still navigate the streets using my feet instead of my truck!

How are your Christmas plans coming along? Have you decorated? (I have that done); written Christmas cards? (NO); done your Christmas baking (NONE); finished shopping? (A BIG NO), wrapped gifts (kinda hard when you haven't bought them yet so that's another BIG NO!)

I've been obsessed with learning how to crochet, plus carving and many other non-Christmas activities. Well, the crocheted hat would be a gift if I could finish it but I'm not counting on it. I think the first few wacky-looking creations should be for me and when I get more profficient I can start gifting them.

Toodles - off to get the makings of a stir fry for dinner.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Go HERE if you are interested in entering Sluggy's 6th, yes 6th, giveaway of the year! This is it folks, until 2016!

There is chocolate, lots of chocolate, and other Christmas goodies! Don't delay - enter today!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Foto Friday

 One year ago today...

 Lily: nonchalontly waiting for a belly rub!

 Lily: ummm, hello?  I can only be cute for so long and then I'll have to shred the couch with my nails!

Getting ready for the new vinyl plank flooring in the basement!

  Lilu: persevering...maybe if I sit right in her lap she might rub my belly...

Had to hang on to these photos for when I got my new TV/fireplace set up. A techie I am not!

 Painting in the basement...

...and painting in the TV room...feline inspector on the prowl!

 Where is all my basement furniture? In my workroom!!

For an extra $65 Home Depot will deliver supplies right to your basement...instead of leaving them at the curb! Gee...thanks!

I can't believe it's been a whole year of enjoyment in our refurbished basement. Most evenings will find me down there by the cozy fireplace, riding my stationary bike and enjoying something on Netflix.

This project was a success!

Thursday, December 3, 2015


I made this monoprint (so-called because only one print is made) by putting various colours of printing ink on a large piece of glass. Then, with various implements, I created a design. You can use anything: paint brushes or rollers, nails, combs, cloth, add other mediums like sand or turpentine - the sky is the limit! 

When you have it the way you want it you then lay a piece of paper down on the glass plate. With a cloth or clean roller you apply pressure so that the paper picks up the design. Your ink may spread, depending on the pressure and amount used creating different effects.

Then you carefully pull the new monoprint and set aside to dry. You could add more ink etc if you want to create another print but it too will be a monoprint because it won't be exactly the same as the first one.

I don't remember at the time if I was trying to create something that looks like a poinsettia but it does fit well into the season, I think.  I have more monoprints that I will gradually frame. And I recently bought some new ink as I get back into exploring this medium once again. It is so wonderful to feel motivated!

P.S. I emptied out a big plastic bin so I'd have a place to store my yarn - hahahaha! This bin isn't nearly big enough! There's another layer under what you see here. Most of which was purchased at my local thrift shop :) I can't wait to get started on my spool knitted rug!