Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Annual Family Pumpkin Carving contest!

I am posting this a little late but what the was too good not to share!

We hosted our First Annual Pumpkin Carving contest (FAPC) starting the night before Hallowe'en! We are at the stage in life where the kids are now adults and all the fun things associated with Hallowe'en sadly no longer involve us as much. However, we decided that we needed some family time and still needed to decorate outside with pumpkins. So we held our first annual Family Pumpkin Carving Contest.

Our daughter and her boyfriend and ourselves literally dug into four lovely orange globes to each create a masterpiece! Each of us took a pumpkin and went off to our respective corners and slashed and carved and carved some more. We handed out knives, scrapers, bowls for the guts and hoped for the best. Although everyone tried to keep their design "secret", it was pretty hard especially when we all sat on the kitchen floor together, cutting, scraping and moulding our respective gourds. We were only somewhat successful. Well, truthfully, not particularily successful but it made for some good fun and camaraderie.

Finally, they were done. The men chose logo type of carvings, while the two women were more creative and opted for more art/sculptural types of pumpkins. One was an outdoor, traditional scene and the other an incredible 3D face.... Our older daughter and her boyfriend came over the next day to do their rendition of a masterpiece. We still needed to see what they would bring to the table...and it was to be interesting! The judging took place after supper, in the form of ballots, and interesting prizes were awarded.

There was lots of food but, in the name of safety, no liquor was served at our FAPC until all the cutting was done. I could imagine severed fingers and slashed wrists adding to the drama and mess in the kitchen.

Kiwi, the dog, participated fully - eating her way through numerous pumpkin seeds and pumpkin viscera. Seems she has a penchant for raw pumpkin - all of it - not even fussy which piece she ate. Could hurt in the morning when she goes outside though...

The pumpkin results were wonderful - all were executed in good detail and we had diverse skills levels and subject matter.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Things are growing in the Dark...

Things are growing in the dark and destroying my beautiful batches of wines. I have had trouble with the last few batches of my wine turning, shall we say, rather undrinkable? It is very disappointing when I would bottle a batch of wine and it tasted quite nice - raw but nice - only to have it be almost undrinkable a few months later. It was a smell and taste I couldn't put my finger on. I started to super sterilize (obsessively?) all my equipment and nothing seemed to make a difference. The last batch of raspberry broke my heart and I knew I had to do something about it.

I grabbed a bottle and went down to the local wine store. Neil and his buddy opened it, sniffed it, and tasted it. They pulled out the manuals and went through it all. We finally decided that the wine was oxidizing - that perhaps I hadn't stirred it enough before bottling it. So I bought a wine whip and hopefully this will help my wines in the future.

Now, I had a conundrum - what to do with all the oxidized wine? I considered dumping it then gave my head a shake. Why on earth would I dump it? It is only a couple steps away from being wine vinegar. As you may remember, I make various types of vinegars: red and white wine, cider and also ginger beer vinegars. However, an over-sized pickle jar would not hold all of the wine that has oxidized. I dug around and realized that I had a glass carboy that had a huge opening and that I had never used because I couldn't find a food grade cork big enough locally. So - I now have a container. I can still use a paper coffee filter to act as a cover and keep the vinegar flies out and other unsavoury treasures but the oxygen can still get in. The first batch of wine to go into the carboy was my Riesling. Thirteen bottles later, I had filled it almost halfway. I added a jar of white wine vinegar that had a nice little mother in it and gave it a stir.

Now came the second conundrum, where to put this carboy? We have a nice house but it didn't come with very many or very large closets and storage is always an issue for us. I definitely couldn't put it in a closet and it is too heavy to go in the cupboard above the fridge. Vinegar, in the making, needs to be kept warm and in the dark. I mulled this over in my pea-brain and decided that a cover was the way to go. I went downstairs and again dug around for something suitable that could just stay in the kitchen in a corner. Nothing appealed or matched. As I was walking through the laundry room, I spotted an old, black heavy knit dress of mine. Aha!! the lightbulb went on and the peas sprouted! I took it upstairs, cut part of the skirt off, and sewed a sleeve out of the skirt with elastic on the bottom and a drawstring on the top. It looks reasonable enough to sit in the corner (although I think I will change the drawstring to black once I find where I put the old black shoelaces) and it solves the problem of leaving it somewhere in the dark!!
So the next conundrum will be what to do with 5/6 gallons of white wine vinegar? It has to sit probably until the spring before it is ready and mellowed. However, I think I have this one already taken care of - I have many friends who are thrilled with the prospect of vinegar in the spring when it is done.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Show and Tell and Do!

I spent a wonderful evening and day at a trunk show and workshop put on by a couple of our local merchants. It was a treat for all of us who attended.

The guest quilters/owners (Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks) were from The Quilt Patch in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. (Shelley and Jeanne recently published a quilting book called "Tis the Season." It was their first time publishing a book and were they pleased with it!! It is a very nicely laid out book with lots of very brightly coloured, easy to follow designs in it. I expect it will do very well for them.) They not only designed but created the quilts that were featured at the trunk show. For those of you who are not quilters, a trunk show is like a fashion show of quilts. They talk about each quilt and then they are literally paraded around the room for everyone to look at. To our surprise and delight, we were advised to touch them. This is unusual because the audience usually does not get to handle the quilts because the oils from our hands can discolour and stain them. Shelley and Jeanne believe that quilts are meant to be handled and used in order to be fully appreciated. I applaud them for this because quilters are a tactile bunch - we love to feel the fabrics and quilts, turning them this way and that for a better look.

Unfortunately, my camera was dead and I didn't get to take photos of the trunk show. I did, however, get a few pictures the next day from the workshop.

We made a good dent in the lap quilt "High Strung",from their new book"Tis the Season," before the end of the day. It was an exercise in applique!! Cutting and sewing those numerous points on the trees definitely took time, as did the holly leaves. It is a very striking looking quilt; my picture does not do it any justice. I decided to try using felted wools for the first time. I was quite impressed with how they handled and how the felting prevented them from fraying. It did need a bit more pressing to get it to adhere to the cotton for appliqueing - quite a bit. I am pleased with the overall effect though - it adds a tactile/rustic quality that you don't get if you use only the cottons. I was disappointed that we ran out of time to finish our quilt tops. (Yes, I am This workshop would have been great as a two day event so we could finish more of the top. I never expect to completely finish a top at these workshops but always hope I will get done. I was very pleased with how they were on hand to help us and they gave us some great suggestions while we were sewing.

What a wonderful group of women from "As the crow flies...quilting workshops", Sheila McNish and Marlene Biles, that organized and attended the two day session! Everything was well planned and they, very generously, gave out numerous prizes throughout the two days. (My friend, Peggy, was one of the happy recipients of a turnover of fabric.) We had a lovely snack of homemade dainties Friday evening, a generous breakfast of muffins and coffee cake along with a variety of teas and fresh coffee for breakfast. We later had a very nice luncheon of tea sandwiches, fruit and (you guessed it!) more dainties. I don't think anyone could slight the organizers for their first ever quilt endeavour! They did a super job!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

No password! No entry!

I changed my password to my Google accounts and then discovered, the next day, that the one I thought I had chosen was not actually my new password!! I had changed it but had not gone back to use it a couple times and as a result forgot it. I have to admit I did panic somewhat...ok quite a bit...more than I should have. I had not realized that not being on-line would even create a void for me. I sat and examined my feelings. I realized that I was actually quite bereft; I felt left out. It was like knowing about a party and not being invited into it.

I tried numerous words that I really like the sound of and had considered in the past for passwords. Words like shalloon, guidon, or flowers like day-lilies, or peonies came to mind but they definitely were not my new password. After numerous attempts I finally decided I should contact Google and see if they could help me track down my new, elusive code. I attempted to fill out the form, which I discovered is not for the non-memorizing types like me (like who ever memorizes email addresses or the like?), and submitted my information. I am still awaiting a reply. I have to give them a bit of leeway here because they did say 24 hours and it has only been about 18 hours...

I dug through the pile of papers on my desk in hopes that I had written down this elusive word. Again, I had no luck. This morning, I was grumbling and rolling words through my mind, all of which I quickly rejected knowing my pension for odd words - most were just too ordinary.

So, by now I was getting pretty pissed off with myself and Google! It was they who had informed me that my account had been hacked and to change my password. It was just so easy to blame them, when in fact it was neither of our doing. Damn hackers! It felt good to blame someone other than my rather elusive memory.

I told my husband, in hopes that I had given him the password. No luck. Now, I was definitely upset and hoping Google would have a password for me. So, I have to admit I waited - not very patiently.

I sat down and read the local rag. As I turned the page I happened upon a word that seemed surprisingly the point where I ran downstairs and typed it into the password section. I hit paydirt!! I now know my password and have written it down elsewhere so I don't forget it again. Still haven't heard from Google though...

This got me to thinking about our aging society. We use passwords for everything; access to our bank accounts, our phone service, our computers, pin numbers for our debit and credit cards, just to name a few. I recently read an article in Time magazine how the number of people that will develop Alzheimers or age related dementia will be astronomical in the coming years. It makes me ask the question: What will happen to all the accounts that people don't access and lose track of? Are they contacted by the companies that they subscribe to? And just what if? It is kind of scary thinking about this but it can conceivably happen that we just forget and don't even know that we have forgotten, as is the case of many of these brain/memory related diseases.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I thought I should throw a bit of fiction out, for a change. I seem to documenting my life instead of writing like I originally intended to...this piece is called:


She was devastated when she got it, even a little confused. It was beyond her understanding this little piece of paper. Although she knew that it would have to be done sometime, she assumed that she would get a call or an email from them not a bill from the church announcing that it would happen the weekend coming up. It was less than five days away; she just couldn’t get her head around it.

She was still heartbroken from when he passed. God, she missed him so much. She missed visiting him, and chatting with him. She missed his big warm hands that held hers while they sat together in the common room at the home a few times a week over the years. Despite his infirmities, they always had a nice time visiting. Him, quiet and gentle while she was more outgoing and chatty. They were good friends and respected each other in their own quiet ways. She would ask him what he wanted to do with this or that whenever issues came up or if it was ok to change something or if she needed help with Mom. He was good that way and would let her know if that was fine or not, he liked that sort of thing.

He had had such a hard time; his body gave him no rest and robbed him of whatever dignity he tried to maintain. She would pretend that she didn’t notice anything and he would pretend that nothing happened. It was their way of caring. They both knew that time was getting shorter and shorter and that each day was a gift. He never complained or took it out on her. Whenever there was a problem, she would quietly talk to the nurses before leaving, out of sight from him, letting them know if he was having difficulties. She didn’t want to embarrass him; he had so little left that was his.

When her mother-in-law passed, he held her hands and mourned the loss along with her knowing how much she had loved her. He told her, choking on his emotions and words, saying “It’s ok my girl, she is resting now.” He was showing how much he loved her by trying to soften the pain, the only way he knew how. He wept with her and she loved him all the more for it. He had always been this way with her, always gentle. That was why it was so devastating to get the bill -no one had told her that they were going to bury him the next weekend.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I am so Lucky!!

I am a little late at posting this because I have been so swamped but Sarah at Cottage Garden Studios has invited me to join her e-course on photography ,Photo Bee, for free!
She is a fabulous photographer and does amazing things with her camera. I am so lucky!!

Anyone out there who does not know her blog should check it out . Not only is she an exceptional photographer but a talented artist as well. I admire her creativity in her artwork and her wonderful sense of colour and balance in both disciplines. Click on her follower link on my site and see what I mean.

So - thank you Sarah!