Monday, June 27, 2016

End of June ...

Greetings blog friends ....


I've been neglecting my blog as I have been outside 
enjoying the beautiful summer that we've been having
since the middle of May.   Hot and sunny and little in 
the way of rain ... though we do need it desperately.   The
garden is parched and watering with the garden hose is
a poor substitute for actual rain from the sky.

I do stitch while I'm out on the deck, so long as the
wind isn't blowing up a gale that threatens to sweep
my threads off to somewhere over the rainbow.   I've
been concentrating on Pretty Little Toronto and making
fairly good progress on it.    So, top left is Casa Loma,
the middle part is St James Cathedral,  next to that is the
slim column which is the base of the C.N. Tower  (40
years old this week) but it needs the restaurant/observation
platform to be stitched on top, and to the right of the C.N.
tower is the St. Lawrence Market.   Oh, and a wee bit
of Toronto's city hall just over top of that.

I'm getting the itch to stitch a new project .... we'll see
if I stand firm with my current WIP or if I'll succumb
to temptation and start rummaging in my stash cup-
board.   Stay tuned .... 

*****************************************************


Road trip.    A day spent visiting friends up near Lake
Simcoe which is an hour and a half drive from here 
and a glorious day it was.   Phil and I went up early 
so that we could spend time on the beach and have a 
picnic lunch before heading to the home of our
friends.


We found a park near the water,   parked our car in the 
lot there (and paid half a years salary for the privilege)
then found a nice tree and spread our picnic blanket in it's
shade.   It was a hot day, the shade was welcome.   We 
ate our sandwiches and then I left Phil snoozing on the
blanket and wandered along the lakeshore until I found
a quiet place and a nice rock out in the water where I 
could sit and dangle my feet in the water.  It was bliss!


Clear, cool water over a pebble and stone surface.
I sat there for over half an hour, watching the boaters
going by,  a muskrat or mink fishing in the water,  and
ignored the hopeful seagull that settled nearby in hopes
that I might have food to share.


I love being by the water.   It's restful and stimulating
at the same time.   Watching the waves is both mesmerizing
and hypnotic. 

I found it so very hard to tear myself away when it came
time for us to pack up our gear and head to our friend's
home.


Close by our friend's home was a quilting store and this
beauty was hanging out front on display.   Isn't it 
gorgeous?

**************************************************


Our front garden is looking pretty good even though it
gets the full sun all afternoon without any shade or
respite from the unrelenting heat.   The Peonies made
a nice display during the short time that they were at
their peak ... and then they dropped all their petals in
the garden and made a horrible mess.   Oh well.   That's
gardening for you.


One of my favourite flowers is Lantana.   These pretty,
colourful flowers last quite awhile and they come in
such wonderful, bright colours.  These are in one of the
pots on our deck.

**************************************************


Yesterday was the Georgetown Horticultural Society's
garden tour.   So Phil and I headed out and visited all
but one of the private gardens that were open for a few
hours to visitors to raise money for the Society.


Some of the gardens were in town and some were properties
in the country.   I guess that we spent about three hours 
wandering through each place and we got some great ideas
and tips for our own modest garden.


Unfortunately it was a terribly hot day and even
with a bottle of water to hydrate ourselves (which
soon became hot enough to make ourselves a cup
of tea with, unfortunately)  and hats on our heads to 
keep the sun off it was often very uncomfortable and 
draining as we walked.


Out in the countryside the temperature was a bit
lower and there was a breeze to help cool us off.


**********************************************




I've been reading .... lots!!!   As a matter of
fact I've been devouring books like there's no
tomorrow.    

The Imposter Bride takes place in Montreal in
the 1950's with flashbacks to the second world
war.   


The Raven Boys saga is Young Adult fantasy with a 
touch of ... um .... I don't want to say horror because
that is too strong a term I think .... but they are a bit
dark.   Loved them.


These two books are by one of the most popular
Young Adult authors around.   But they are
definitely not Young Adult stories because the
characters are quite ... er ... sexually active.


Book one was good but book two was fabulous!!!
I could not put it down!!!

Perhaps it's obvious that these are also 
fantasy stories .... and there will be another
in this series ... and the wait is going to be
agony!!


And finally, for those of you who might be like me and
adore a good vampire romance novel or two ... you know
who you are .... this series I bought on Kindle and could
not put down until I had read all four of them.   Great
stories,  lots of interesting history and a new take on the
vampire genre.   

I don't go into plot synopsis when I list my reads because
I figure you guys can easily check that out if you're 
interested.   Just know that for me I love a story with
strong characters ... which includes the secondary characters
.... a really good myth building or history relating tale ... and
snappy, crisp and lively banter in the dialogue is a definite plus.

****************************************************


Rupert wanted to join us whenever we headed out on one
of our adventures but sadly we could not oblige him.

Thanks for stopping by.   Hope your summer is a 
good one so far.

Happy stitching,  happy gardening and happy reading!



Thursday, May 26, 2016

It's Spring! No, Winter! No, Spring ....

Greetings and welcome.


I am delighted to be able to share a finish with you today!
Here is Little House Needleworks design with a few little
changes here and there to make it my own.   A cute design
that is perfect for this warm and green growing time of year.


Um .... yeah!

These pictures were taken on Sunday, May 15th.   Phil
went out to mow the lawn even though the sky was heavy
with clouds and it was obvious that we were in for some
sort of precipitation.    When the lawn requires mowing
there is just no stopping Phil.


Clicking on the pictures will allow you to see and fully
appreciate the irony.

I looked out the window and there was my husband pushing
the lawn mower up and down the yard with grim determination
while the snow came down in a steady, fierce curtain.   At one
point I could barely see him through the snow!   I opened the
back door and suggested that perhaps he might consider taking
a break until the worst of it had passed but ... oh, no! ... he
motored on through it all.   

We had several periods of this throughout that afternoon and
since I'm much more pragmatic and sensible about these things
I just locked myself in my craft room with the heater humming
at my feet and refused to look out the window. 


One week later and it was the Victoria Day long weekend.   The
sun shone for all three days and the temperatures soared into the
mid 70's Fahrenheit and we relished every second of it.

Our cherry trees bloomed at the beginning of the week and put
on their usual glorious display of blossoms.   One day of 
strong winds has pretty much finished off the display unfortunately
and the driveway now looks like it's still snowing out there.


We painted our three year old red bench ... which was
peeling and shedding it's red coat alarmingly ... a cheery
yellow colour last week and have been accenting it with
matching flower baskets to enhance the results.   We
still have to get more flowers and stuff but this is a nice
start.



Martha Washington geraniums are one of my favourites.
Pretty, frilly flowers in a wide range of colours including
this sweet little plant.   The garden centre where I found
this had just the one like this and as soon as I saw it I
had to grab it.    It's in the pink watering can .... see
the previous picture.


I'm a fantasy geek.   Did you know that?   Fantasy books, TV shows,
movies and graphic novels are all things that make me very happy.
This week's book order (yeah,  I order books every week ... why?)  
included the above two Elfquest graphic novels and they are 
as gorgeous as ever.   Not familiar?    This series was created by
Wendy Pini who writes the stories and does the art work.   Her husband
Richard also writes the stories with her.    First published in 1978 the
story has continued until present day and is the longest running, 
independent fantasy series published.

I found the series way back in 1978 and have been a fan ever since.
The art work is breathtakingly gorgeous and the story is exciting,
captivating and engrossing.


A few other books arrived as well,  and of course as soon as
I'd removed the books from their box Rupert took over.  It's
an agreement that we have.


I'm also a Trekker.   

Whilst at the post office this week I found these specially issued 
collector's packs which are to commemorate the 50th (!!!) anniversary 
of Star Trek.   I thought that they were pretty cool and decided to 
add them to my collection.   I can't believe that it's been 50 years
since the series began.     

We've been having rain and thunderstorms off and on today
which also makes me happy since I love the rain and a good
thunderstorm.    We've managed to do some planting of our
pots between each performance of inclement weather and then
we take refuge in the house again until the next wave blows over.

Ah summer.

Cheers!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spring is Everywhere


Greetings and welcome blog friends.

In the past few weeks the weather has settled down and
warmed up a bit, the snow has left us for good (well, until 
next November or December or whatever anyways)  and 
things are greening up nicely.

Phil has been out in the garden raking, mowing, mulching
and digging, getting muddy and wet and grass stained
 and basically enjoying himself thoroughly.   And as goes
the season so goes my stitching mindset.   A theme of
green growing things and gardening outside inspires the same
indoors with my stitching.

Or I could be honest and admit that I just wanted to have a
new start.   Whatever.


So here is Little House Needleworks design "Garden Pleasures".
I have been working on this since my last blog post and as is 
always the case with LHN designs I've been enjoying it so much!

While I've been stitching I put on Flosstube vlogs and listen to
the stitchers chat away and so many of them have multiple projects
on the go all at once .... and by multiple I mean LOTS!!!!   The idea
has a certain appeal to it, and I can be a chronic starter if I don't 
watch myself anyways sooooo .... away we go!

As long as I have a finish once in awhile I can handle that.


We've been making plans on how to enhance the enjoyment
of our backyard during those precious, short months when
the weather is kind and warm and welcoming.   Our old
gazebo's awning shredded itself last Fall so we have to get
a new gazebo this year for the deck.    We've been looking
at other garden furniture and stuff and decided that we 
really, really just had to have a garden swing!

So we went out this week and picked one up and Phil spent
yesterday afternoon setting it up.    And we're thrilled and
delighted with it!    That corner of the yard is sheltered from
the wind and gets the afternoon sun and has a great view of
the bird feeders and the rest of the garden looking toward
the house so it's a perfect fit.

And it's just the thing for any book lover!!   I took it out
for a test run with my latest book and it works beautifully!
It also suits napping and chatting and the consuming of
beverages and meditation (another form of napping for me)
and bird watching.    I love how versatile it is.


And speaking of books (as I often do) above is my latest
finish.   I devoured this book in two days and could not
put it down.

Jennifer Robson is a new to me author who has three books
published, all of which take place during the early part of
the 20th century.   A favourite time period for me.   I'd
seen her books around, had read the descriptions for them
and knew they'd be right up my ally so I got all of them at
once and I'm so glad that I did.   

Jennifer Robson manages to write a fascinating story with
emotional impact,  she presents well researched historical facts
woven expertly into the narrative and her characters are 
so real and clearly imagined .... no matter how big or small
their roles are in the story.

I did not realize that Jennifer Robson lives in Toronto until
after I got the books but that's pretty cool too .... being able
to support a local author who so clearly deserves it.

I can confidently say that Jennifer Robson has been added to
the list of my most favourite authors and any new publications
from her will be automatic gotta-haves ... right-NOW!!!! 


Walking around Georgetown, camera in hand, enjoying the
sight of everyones gardens bursting into colour.   It's  mostly
tulip time now and we're slowly easing into tree and bush
blossoming season as well.


We're nearing the end of the daffodil season but there
are a few still popping out here and there.   Not as 
colourful as tulips perhaps but when it comes to their
shapes it's amazing how diverse they can be.


The summer movie season has begun and my movie
viewing partner Darlene and I began it on the weekend
by going to see two highly anticipated movies that
headed our list of must sees.

I'm a Marvel geek and love to see whatever might be
released from that stable of super heros.   The Avengers
are a great favourite and the Captain America movies 
have always been fabulous!    We could not wait to see
"Civil War" and it did not disappoint.   WOW!   Great
story and lots of action both of which were well balanced
with great performances.    I'm team Captain America by
the way.


And then there is the magic of this newest production of The
Jungle Book.     Again the story and the performances were
spot on but it's the seamless blend of real and CGI that is 
jaw dropping amazing.   You can't even tell what is live and
what was created in a computer lab.   And the young boy who
plays Mowgli was wonderful.   And Bill Murray providing
the voice of Baloo is just perfect casting.   I mean ... who else?


Did you know that over on Flosstube the one and only Vonna
of The Twisted Stitcher fame has just posted her very
first vlog post?   You must go and watch it.   

And as always we finish off with a picture of the cats.
Rupert with his face buried in Phoebe's fur.   I have no
idea how he's breathing in there.

Cheers!!!


Monday, April 25, 2016

Confined to quarters ....

The rain is pounding down on the roof above my head which
is a comforting, pleasant sound.    It's evening and I have decided
to update my blog since I am not really in the mood to do much
else.    I've been watching "Booktube" videos on Youtube,  I've
been stitching,   I've been reading .... but I am (I confess) feeling
a tad ... dare I say it?? ... Bored!!!!

Recovery from the gallbladder extraction has been uneventful
and everything seems to be fine.   Nurse Phil continues to 
monitor me closely and gives me hell heck if I do too much
bending or reaching.   Hopefully by next week I'll be able to
return to Curves to work out, though I realize that I'm going
to have to start out slowly and work my way back up to
where I was before my little adventure.

We went for a walk today and by the end I was flagging a
bit.  Now that the nicer weather is on the horizon I'm ready
to get out and walk, walk, walk but once again it's
something I'm going to have to build my endurance up for.


Being confined to the house and with the weather too cool
to sit out in I've been dedicating a lot of my time to my
current cross stitch project and I've gotten a lot done!
Now I am not the world's fastest stitcher by any means
so I'm not sure if this is a lot by anyone else's standards
but I'm fairly pleased with it.

The canoe and the streetcar were my favourite things
to stitch and the trees as well.   To the left of the 
streetcar is the Prince's Gates which lead into the
Canadian National Exhibition grounds.    On the 
far right of the design is the Skydome where our
baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays play.   Between
those two Toronto icons is the designers rendition
of the Royal Ontario Museum ... and that thing 
was a stinker to stitch!!!


Now above is a picture of the original building which is
quite a venerable old pile ... classy and typical of the
architecture of the 1914 era that it was built in.
     

And this is the section that was added in 2007.
It's called "The Crystal" and it was designed by 
Daniel Libeskind.   It is very ... modern and reactions
to it were ... shall we say .... mixed (!!!) when it's
plans were first revealed.     

I'm not a fan of modern architecture.  I much prefer
the original structure which the Crystal kind of wraps
around in one area.    And when it came to stitching the
darn thing it was ... for me ... a royal pain!

I couldn't picture in my mind how the stitched structure
corresponded to the real one.  It just seemed like
sections of random shades of blue and white.  It
still looks weird to me but at least I can sort of
see what the designer was trying to do.  I guess.
But that part is now done and I can move on to the
next layer of this piece.

And in case you're wondering .... yes, it seems that
at least for awhile the Crystal's roof did leak.   Ooops!


My reading for the past few weeks has been the
acclaimed fantasy series by Naomi Novik.
The first book came out and was nominated
for a Hugo award  for best novel in 2007


The novels are a retelling of the Napoleonic
wars but with dragons!!!   So a meld of 
fantasy and history which is skillfully 
blended into a fascinating and riveting
story by the author.   


I don't know why I haven't gotten these
books to read before this because I knew
that they were out there and were well
reviewed and quite popular .... but I didn't.
There are more books in this series which
I have in my collection and will read in the 
future but I wanted to get the first three books 
done all in one marathon read.   I don't know
if I'll pick up book four (then five, six etc) next
or if I'll go for a change of pace.   We'll see.

I don't have much else to write about tonight
so I'll just add a cute picture of the cats and call
it a night!


Cheers!




Monday, April 18, 2016


I meant to update my blog sooner then this however, as
happens, life got in the way.    Specifically... after five
attacks in the past four months due to gall stones ....  I had 
to have my gall bladder removed last Thursday night.   It
was something I was planning to do but a particularly bad
attack starting on Tuesday hastened the deal.   That was fine
since it didn't give me any time to fret and stress while 
waiting for a specific date to arrive.   It was a case of:  we're
here in emergency ... the surgeon is available .... we don't
have any other plans for the evening .... let's just do it!!!

A night in hospital ... spent in Obstetrics of all places ....
and a return home on Friday afternoon to recover.   Phil,
being retired now,  is able to provide nursing care and to
keep an eye on me during my convalescence ... and he's 
been quite diligent and very solicitous of my every need.

So all in all it's been good.   Keyhole surgery means an easier
and quicker recovery with minimal discomfort and that is
greatly appreciated.    So now I'm able to putter around the
house a bit, go for short walks around the neighbourhood
.... with my nurse accompanying me ... and relax at home.
It's all good.   


I've been enjoying my renewed delight in stitching again and
made further progress on my Country Chessboard as seen
above.    More border which defines the size of the piece
plus more houses.   And yes,  each house square completed
feels like a mini finish which provides a sense of 
accomplishment and encourages further production.


But of course what would the joy of stitching be without a
new start???    I mean, really?     Thanks to the enabling of
fellow stitchers I became aware of this chart available on
Etsy from a designer and had to get it, along with another
for Pretty Little Amsterdam.   There are charts for cities
throughout the United States and Europe featuring those 
well known iconic sites that each city is known for,  and 
each chart is in bright, vibrant colours.


So here is my progress so far on Pretty Little Toronto.
Some trees,  the shores of Lake Ontario,  a streetcar
(sometimes known as the Red Rocket) and starts on
other landmarks.   Loving it!!!

Hey!   Did you know .....

                                                So, I was on Vonna's blog site a week ago 
and discovered that she'd made some videos on how to 
do various styles of finishes which she'd posted on Youtube.
Well,  Vonna being the Queen of Finishing .... along with
Andrea from The Craft Room .... I knew that I had to check
those out at once.   I went to Youtube and watched Vonna's
videos and was suitably impressed and fascinated with her
skill and her talent.   Then I looked at the videos "suggested"
at the side of the screen and was surprised to discover that
there is a community of cross stitchers there who are calling
themselves "Flosstubers"!!!!

I am quite aware of the "Booktubers" on Youtube plus various types
of crafty vloggers, and I follow those communities regularly, but it's 
never occurred to me to check for cross stitchers.

DOH!!!!!

So while I stitch on my projects I watch vlog posts from cross 
stitchers from all over the world as they display their WIPS,
hauls,  and UFO's as well as discussing other things related
to their hobbies and interests and lives.

Did any of you know about this community?   Is it the "it"
place to be now that interest in blogging seems to be waning 
for a lot of people?   I would think that vlogging would be
much more time consuming and more work then blogging
plus you'd need some degree of technical know-how and 
the equipment to make decent vlogs.    

And with vlogging you'd have to be more aware of your own
personality and have the ability to "selling" yourself on screen
to your audience to hold their attention and engage them.   I
think an ability to write a good, interesting and colourful blog
post may not necessarily translate to the vlogging world.

So, go check out Flosstube on Youtube (if you haven't already) 
and see what you think.


In early February I spent a weekend in Toronto with my
friend Darlene for our annual "Girls Weekend".
This time we had tickets to Kinky Boots at the Royal
Alexandra theatre as the highlight of our weekend.
         

What a fabulous show!!!!   The music was fantastic
(courtesy of the talented Cindi Lauper with book by 
Harvey Fierstein)  and the production colourful.   The 
story was a nice mix of thought provoking,  tender,  
upbeat and a bit sad at times.   But ultimately it was a 
celebration of our differences and acceptance of ourselves 
and of others ... be who you want to be!!

Our "Lola" in the show .... Alan Mingo Jr .... has left
the Toronto production to reprise the role on Broadway
which is quite an honour.    But given how amazing he
was here it doesn't surprise me at all that he was given
the opportunity.


The show was Friday night.   Saturday we walked a
bit around Toronto on a bright, sunny and warm day.
We went to the St. Lawrence Market to check out
the colourful, diverse selection of foods and goods
that are available there.


The place is a crowded, colourful and lively
mix of ethnicities with already prepared foods,  plus
the fresh ingredients needed to make your own and 
the seasonings and the tools as well.


It's a feast for the eye and for the stomach.


And full of welcome colour in the midst of the dull,
grey days of winter.


We spent the afternoon at the Art Gallery of Ontario, taking
a tour as well as just walking around on our own.


The architecture of the place was as fascinating to
see as the art works were.

In the evening ... after dinner at Swiss Chalet
(of course) .... we went to the movies and saw
Kung Foo Panda 3, which was quite cute and
fun.

Sunday we slept in,  swam in the hotel pool, 
went out for breakfast and then lined up to buy
Japanese cheesecake from a shop near the
bus terminal called Uncle Tetsu's. 


Another book I read this year was The Aviator's
Wife.   A fictionalized account of the life of 
Anne Morrow Lindberg which I really, really
enjoyed.    I knew something of the lady's history
and I knew about her husband's accomplishments
and scandals ... and of course about the kidnapping of
their baby son but I'd never read anything about either
of them before.   It's a really good story, well told by
Melanie Benjamin who has also written about Alice
Liddell (Alice ... in Wonderland fame) in the book
Alice I Have Been and The Autobiography of Mrs Tom 
Thumb.   I'm going to check those out soon.

Phil has been relishing his retirement ... in spite of the
fact that the weather changed as soon as Spring hit
and gave us a good wallop of cold and snow for a 
few weeks that had us all questioning Mother Nature's
sanity ... in rather colourful language.   Ahem!
After a very mild and dry winter it stung a bit.  Especially
when we had more snow and colder temperatures in 
the first 10 days of April then in all of February!
But now the temperatures are warming up and the sun is
shining and we can sit outside without coats and boots,
hats and mittens.   Blissful!

Meanwhile, Phil will be out mowing the lawn and racking
last Fall's leaves and puttering around the garden to his
heart's content .... as well as a bit of puttering around the
house.    Life is good!

Cheers!