Thursday, 31 January 2013

It's Thursday...

I have realized that I have a very hard time keeping myself to a schedule.  I was so desperately trying to keep to the "baby steps to preparing for emergencies" by putting it together with "three things on Thursday" but things are just too darn unpredictable, especially when the kidlets end up sick on Thursdays.

Here is something interesting though:  if you are a regular reader, you may remember from my last "Thursday" post that I was trying to clear up the least get everything up off the floor.  That Thursday night, I finished off roughly 1/3 of the basement.  Every last bit was off the floor near the door that goes outside, and consequently, near the washing machine which, plumbing-wise, is the low point of the house.  Saturday morning, our plumbing backed up and partially flooded the basement floor.  The newly cleaned basement floor that just two days before had cardboard boxes full of "stuff" lying all over the place.  Pheee-yoof.  Close call.  So, there is # 1 for today - emergencies come in all shapes and sizes.  It's not the end of the world as we know it that I am preparing for, but all those little nasties that catch us unaware (not that I judge the preppers who do - more power to you).

I received this little booklet at work - from our insurance company, which I thought was pretty funny since most people I know don't give it a second thought.  It had a great suggestion in it, which I plan to do.  Since most of the important phone numbers I need are stored on my cell phone, I will be printing up individual cards with important numbers that we will keep in each evacuation bag, in my purse, and on the bulletin board in case of emergencies.   They suggest the following:

-adult workplaces
-ambulance/medical services
-children's school/daycare
-credit card companies
-dentist (this one is already on the bulletin board from the time that S smashed out his 3 front teeth- baby teeth thank goodness)
-doctors and specialists
-electrician (good one - I hadn't thought of this - ever)
-family, friends, neighbours (since these are in my address book, I am not sure I will include them)
-fire department
-home security provider (if applicable)
-hospital/ health clinic
-insurance provider (wouldn't have thought of this one on my own either)
-plumber (you bet it's going on the list after the other weekend)
-poison control
-provincial telehealth or health information hotline (I won't be adding this, since the 3 times I called they couldn't answer anything I asked - what, pray tell, is the point?)
-utility providers - gas/electric/water
-veterinary (need this, wouldn't have thought of it)

#3) Also from the little booklet:  they list some emergency preparedness resources.  I haven't visited them yet, but I will be doing so this week, hopefully:

St. John Ambulance
Canadian Red Cross
Provincial/Territorial Emergency Management Organizations
Public Safety Canada
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
Insurance Bureau of Canada
For kids:  Scouts Canada and Girl Guides of Canada

So, how about you?  Any baby steps, or big giant leaps, getting ready for emergencies.  Please share.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Learning new skills

I have been working on learning some new skills in the knitting department.
 I decided to give toe up socks a try.  In yesterday's post, I remarked that sometimes I feel like I work and work and work at something and get nowhere. This sock is the perfect example. Over the course of a couple of days, it seriously took me over 4 hours to figure out how to turn the heel on this sock.  I read the instructions in the pattern, I read the  description in the front of the book, I googled, and searched, and knit and frogged and knit and frogged until finally I figured it out.  Sort of.  It is all messy, and twisted because I was really struggling with it.
 This is the sock that was supposed to be in the Terpander pattern from this book that I started a few weeks ago, but the yarn really did not lend itself to the cable pattern.  So instead, I thought I would try some colour work.  Some proper colour work - fair isle style, also a new skill for me to learn.
 Turns out that I love colour work.  Like most other new knitting skill I am learning, I don't know why I waited so long!  Oh, I almost forgot - the colour work charts I used were bits and pieces from the patterns in
this book over here.
However, the sock doesn't fit.  The foot part is too long and the leg part is too all those hours of work - being frogged today!  I will try toe up socks again, but not yet...I will do colour work again - oh yes I will.  Again and again and again.

On the bookshelf - Middlemarch of course.

In the home:  The kids were taking turns being ill.  I think it has finally left the house.  I really really hope it has.  This nasty bug sure is making the rounds.  Turns out that on a daily basis, 10 to 25% of the kids in school are  out sick.  Yikes.

Linking up with: yarn along at small things

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Fixing mistakes

Do you ever feel like you work on something for hours but aren't getting anywhere with it?

The studio has changed clay bodies, so I need to use mine up in a hurry to make sure it will get through the kiln before they switch over.
 I spent entirely too much time making some stamps...I had to keep squishing them down and starting over because I wasn't happy with them.  These are the ones I kept.  I have a plan - hopefully you will see the results in a few weeks time.
These little candle bowls were dry, but I had to get the handles wet to remove them because they dried on crooked.  I saw cat prints in the slab I had next to them.  Just sayin'.  Once the handles were removed, I had to fix the carving.  Thursday I will put new handles on as I have to keep them damp (but not wet) until I can work on them again.
This little candle bowl was reworked 3 times until I was happy with it.  There are two of them - so really that makes six...
...and just when I thought I was all set, I woke up this morning realizing that this little set that I dried is actually not supposed to be dry.  I need to decorate it before it goes through the first kiln.  Because the studio is changing clay bodies, they will be changing glazes as well - which means there is hardly any glaze left to choose from for the old clay.  So now, these two are resting under damp paper towels in the hopes that they will be just right for slip decorating on Thursday night.

Here's to hoping the final results are nice, because it sure was a lot of work to get to this point.  I hope you are having better luck with your crafting.

Linking up with: Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams
                         The Backyard Farming Connection - Hop 17
                             -because this is what was going on at my "homestead" this weekend
                         The self sufficient homeacre - Hop
                             -because I am learning to be self sufficient by making things myself, and because
                              this was reclaimed clay - waste not, right?
                         Stash Bash at Crunchy Catholic Momma
                             -because this one is all about using it up

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A twist on a Classic and an Eat what you grow update

I am pretty sure that every French-Canadian family has it's own tourtiere recipe (a kind of meat pie, I suppose) that is passed down through the generation.  I imagine that every generation puts a little twist of their own to suit their tastes and their needs.  Although we love the flavour, "someone" in my household is not to keen on the idea of eat pie for dinner.  So, here is my twist on the classic tourtiere...
Saute one chopped onion with about a cup of chopped celery in a tbsp or two of butter until they are soft.  You want the leafy, inside bits for this, not the green outside stems (which suits me just great because for eating raw, I only like the green outside stems).
Add in about 1 pound or thereabouts of ground pork (or whatever ground meat you like to use - I like pork - my mother uses a blend of meats in her tourtiere) and saute until the meat is cooked through.  Add 1/4 cup boiling water, 1 tsp each salt and pepper and dried thyme.  Cook down until the water has pretty much evaporated.  Then add a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves (don't add these earlier on or the whole thing will become bitter).

Normally, at this point you would refrigerate it until cool and then put it into a pie crust to bake...but we twist it up...
Cut a baguette in half and remove some of the inside "guts" to make room for your filling.
I save these, dry them, and use them as bread crumbs...unless someone sneaks into the kitchen and polishes them off before I can dry them out.
Spoon your filling "generously" into the bread trough.
Side view so you get a better view of the spooned out bread.  I serve this with a salad on the side, or some nice sauteed green beans and mushrooms.  Really any vegetable that you like will work.
It's a quick weeknight meal because the filling doesn't have to cool, and then you don't have to bake the pie.  How awesome is that?  Oh - we cut a baguette into 4 pieces, but the filling is more than enough for that...someone usually takes the rest of it in their lunch the next day.

I realized that it has been a while since I posted about my self-imposed eat what you grow/grow what you eat challenge, mostly because I thought it would be a little boring for my readers to read the same list all through the winter.  I also realized that when we are home (not on holidays or visiting family) we eat something from the garden every day without even trying or thinking about it.  Jams, pickles, salsa, relish, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce made with home-canned tomato juice, dilly beans, etc have kept us in good supply.  The mainstay though, are the herbs.  I put them in almost everything I cook.  Plus we use them for tea.
They were on several different shelves before, but when we were putting the dining room back together after painting (that nice light green in the background) I put them all together so the boys don't have to look for them.  Look at that - I grow 18 food herbs in the back yard (plus that red jar which is dried strawberries that I want to test out in the boys tea - N, I think, will like that). Huh, if I had guessed, I would have said 10 to 12.  Interesting.

So, the jams are almost all used up now, but I have some berries in the freezer to turn into jam when we run out.  We are about halfway through the pickles and tomato juice.  We have hardly touched the hot sauce, but only have about 3 jars of salsa left.  It will be interesting to see what we have left when we get back around to the new garden season.  Some of the herbs I am afraid will run out - specifically the thyme and lemon thyme.  Others, I have aplenty - specifically the mint and lemon balm.  I will update again near the end of winter.

Linking up with: Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia
                         Tutorial Thursday at Marigold's Loft even though I am linking up a day late.
                         What I am eating over at Townsend House a new link up.
                         Simple Meals Friday at Nourishing Traditions  a new to me blog I am excited to have found.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Slightly less creepy

 I have finished ski mask # 2.
It is only slightly less creepy than the first one I finished but I like it in green better than in grey.
...and I imagine it will look less creepy on a child than on an adult.  So very difficult to take your own picture isn't it?
This project is from Son of Stitch and Bitch, and was a much better go than the first one.  I learned a few things the first time around so I had many less ends to weave in, and I added 8 stitches when I cast on, so the fit is better.

I had planned to put these is the "to be gifted later" pile, but we are in a cold snap right now,so they just might get them to walk to school tomorrow.

Edited to add: 
 They did get them to go to school with as it was -25 degrees Celsius with the wind chill.
They love them!

From the bookshelf:  Still plugging away at Middlemarch.  I am only on page 128 (I started 2 weeks ago so I should be done by now) because we have been painting and removing and replacing trim, and patching walls and what have you, so there is little  reading going on.

Around the house:  By the way, if you are interested, the living room and dining room are now green. Woodland Mystery actually.

Linking up with:  Yarn along over at small things
                          The Backyard Farming Connection - Hop 16
                          Fiber arts Friday at Wisdom begins in Wonder 

Friday, 18 January 2013

From the Kiln

Before Christmas holidays, I missed a week of pottery, so I had to wait until last night to get my pieces.
It felt like a mighty long wait, let me tell you.
 A Brie baker/small casserole and a kinda jumbo candle holder.
I love making candle holders - and they are almost always glazed in Kaki (above).
They look old-fashioned to me that way.
 Brushwork on a pitcher - I guess I went a little heavy on the green.
Using a community studio, you never know how the oxides will be mixed - I was expecting it to be quite light like the brown I used the week before.

 There are actually 8 son used another blue one for breakfast, and 4 are not yet glazed.  I love the way the colour turned out on the inside (2 each of 4 colours by the time I get them all) so I kind of regret glazing the outside in Ferguson Yellow - but I did it so they would co-ordinate with the set of mugs I made - with a little surprise on the inside.
A pitcher for things like pancake batter.
I really liked how the glaze turned out on the inside rim of this one...but wait, what's that?
One of the unexpected surprises that comes with working in a (very) shared space -somebody's piece exploded in the kiln and a piece landed in my pitcher and fused there.  Grrr.  I am told I should be able to use my dremel to grind it out.  If I do it carefully enough, it shouldn't wreck the glaze....we will see.

Linking this one up with:  Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Children's artwork

We have been having an art show at the school for the past couple of years where the children make artwork from recycled/reclaimed materials.  This piece was made by N's class (grade 2 at the time) the first year we hosted the show.  I came across it while I was working on cleaning out the basement and I thought it would be worth sharing.  The teacher drew the outline on a large piece of paper - about 2' x 3'- and the children filled it in with recycled bits of newspaper they cut and glued on.  I love the eyes!

I really like this project done in black and white, but if you used magazine pages, really any kind of image could be created.  And I am so glad they had a teacher that year who put some effort into their art class - coming up with interesting projects for the children to work on.

I need to re-use the frame, which was already reclaimed from another project for the image above, so I have taken photos of the husky (incidentally, it is the school maskot - that's why they picked it) and I will go have a proper copy made and frame it for N's room.  That way he still gets to keep the image, but we don't have to hang a huge project in his room...he doesn't have the wall space for it.

Linking up today with:  Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams
                                   The Backyard Faming Connection Hop #15

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Time again for Three things on Thursday.

I have something a little different today for three things on Thursday/ planning for emergencies.

This week, I did not buy or prepare anything for the evacuation kits, any supplies, not a single thing was added.  Instead I have been working on:
1) de-cluttering the basement
2) cleaning the basement
3) organizing the basement

...but I still think it applies to Thursday's "chat".  We have an unfinished basement, and all of our extra "junk" seems to accumulate there.  Baby stuff, kid stuff, craft stuff, "we'll need this some day" know what I mean, right?  The thing is, it still needs to serve as our "shelter in place" since it is below ground.

During the spring, we actually need it more than you would think.  One of my children is terrified of tornadoes and severe thunder storms (severe to him, that is).  In the spring, every time there is a storm, we all have to go down to the basement until he deems it OK to come back out again.  The problem is that with all the junk down there, there is little space left for us.  Plus, we had some work done on the house and there is still construction debris all over the basement.  So this past week, and over the next week at least (hey, it's a big big job) I am getting rid of all kinds of stuff we really don't need any more, cleaning it properly, and organizing what is left.  Hopefully, by spring time, when we have to go down there for the next tornado watch, it will be a lot more comfortable.

By the time I am done, there should be a place for everybody to sit, all of the emergency supplies should be together in one area, hopefully everything will be up off the floor (the four houses on either side of us get spring time flooding - we are up a little higher, so we haven't yet, but why take the chance), and hopefully there will even be a little space left over for putting out candles or lanterns the next time we have to go down there to wait out a storm.

Incidentally, my child's fear of tornadoes is what got me started preparing for emergencies in the first place - kind of by accident.  Every single time it rained, every single time there was a lot of wind, he would panic (he might have been about 3 or 4 when this started).  We started collecting supplies under the basement stairs - blankets and pillows, flashlights, juice - just simple things that make a child more comfortable, and like magic the panic disappeared.  He still worries, and we still have to go wait out the storm in the basement, but nothing like the panic attacks he would get before.  In fact, many of the things in our emergency stash were his idea, we've just kept adding to it.

So, here's my question of the day - what do your kids think are must-haves in the emergency stash?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A finished object and other random goodness.


This project has been on my to-do list for the boys for 2 years.  I have one done (modeled on myself because it is a surprise for gifting later in the year...) and I have only just started the second one.  Although I think it looks rather creepy on myself, I think it will be hilarious to see them all together on the sledding hills (I plan on one for each of my boys, my husband kinda wants one, one for their cousin, which means probably one for his dad/my brother too) - all in different colours so I can tell who is who.  The pattern is from Son of Stitch and Bitch and was my first real attempt at colour work.  I was surprised by how much weaving in of ends there was (because of the mouth and eye holes, so you kind of have to do two balls at once, of each colour for half the hat - and partly because I didn't realize you could just twist the yarns together to make a "jump" of more stitches...I will try that properly on this next ski mask).

In the kitchen:
This picture does not look at all appetizing, I realize now that it is posted, but this was delicious.  Baked brie with mango/peach chutney and toasted pecans on crackers.  In an attempt to make plain old ordinary days feel more special, I am trying my hand at appetizers that we have wanted to try for a while but have been saving for "special occasions".  Three of us liked this.  One, most emphatically did not!  I was sure that N would like this, since it is basically cheese covered in jam, but he is determined to not like brie - ever - because it is "fuzzy".  Huh?

Around the house:  
 Although the ornaments have been off the tree for days, I only packed it up and put it away yesterday.  Our living room looks huge now.  I am, however, leaving a few of these "greens" around the house because they are pretty, and they don't scream "holidays".  Other than the tree, these greens were pretty much the only holiday decorating that was done at my house this year - they were all over the house - and I liked it that way.

From the bookshelf:  Still reading George Elliot's "Middlemarch", but only just barely.  It's not a hardcover, so I can't prop it up and read it while I am knitting, and I have had an awful cold (which always makes my eyes water like mad) and reading has been difficult, so I have only read maybe 20 pages in the last week.

I will be linking up with: Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams today.
                                    Backyard Farming Connection
                                    Yarn along over at Small things on  Wednesday.
                                    Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia
                                    Fiber Arts Friday at Wisdom Begins in Wonder

Thursday, 3 January 2013

More baby steps to emergency planning

I took a little break from my "planning for emergencies" while I was preparing for the holidays, but once we got back into town, I realized we were missing a few things that I should get as soon as possible.

Our biggest threat right now would be power outage from a winter storm so I thought it was time to get my self in gear and collect the items to make these emergency long lasting lantern/candles:
picture taken from salt n prepper's DIY list
 which I found via Pinterest

I was able to find narrow lantern wicks at Canadian Tire, and the liquid paraffin is from Green Earth.  After I bought the paraffin ($5.99 for 500ml), I realized that although it burns cleaner than kerosene, it is still lamp oil, so if I need to refill them, I will probably stick with the kerosene as it is $6.00 for a liter.  I didn't buy the squat mason jars, as I have plenty plenty of mason jars at home.  I will be cutting the slits in the jar lids this week (hopefully) to fit the wicks, but as I read that the paraffin wax evaporates, I will only fill them when I need them.  I still have plenty of candles on hand to light the way long enough to fill the lanterns - thanks to my lovely sister who brought me a whole box full on her last visit.

# 2  While we were out at the mall (that's where our Canadian Tire is), I found $5.00 flashlights on sale for $1.49, so I bought 4.  One for each of our evacuation bags...something I had forgotten until my sister mentioned that on her visit as well. Oh, and I added a peanut butter jar of dried cat food to my own bag, for our furry little friend.

And #3:
This is something that I tucked into the boys' stocking this year - for camping I told them (sly).  The tutorial for the little pouch is on my sidebar if you need it.  I added a small floating compass that pins onto your clothes, a whistle and bright yellow bandana to attract attention should they need it, and a tiny knife (because they love knives, and I don't have scissors in the evacuation bags).  They have clipped it onto the strap of their evacuation bags, so that when we go camping we will know right where to find the pieces, at which point it can be clipped to their belt loop.  Since my husband already owns a compass, he just got the whistle and bandana (I think that will be used more for answering the boys' whistle calls than anything else, but you never know), and I made myself a little kit too, but mine is in one of the pockets of my backpack as the bag does not have a clip on it yet (very typical of me, by the finish theirs but not finish my own).

What I'm finding as the weeks go by is that taking these little baby steps has actually gotten us ahead faster than I thought.  We still have a long way to go, but at least now it isn't as overwhelming as when we began this journey.'s my question...are you doing yours in baby steps or a whole bunch all at once to get it out of the way?  Anything you would like to recommend to those who are following along?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Knitting - learning new things

I took a much longer break than I had anticipated, but sometimes it's nice to spend time with family and friends without thinking about anything else...especially when the littles (and some not so littles) are feeling under the weather and just need that time.

This holiday season seems to have been exactly what I needed.  I have not felt "in the spirit" for the last couple of years.  We took it very easy this year for the holidays.  Hardly any decorations came out - just evergreen branches clipped from the garden mostly, and a few natural elements, and the tree with a few bits and pieces on it.  Most of the decorations stayed in storage.  Our holiday party was downsized to just two couples.  A very relaxed potluck dinner was added to the agenda, and hardly any gifts were exchanged - even for the kids.  And now, I am looking forward to a new year of celebrating all year long instead of saving it all up for "big occasions".  A tiny change in the way I was thinking, but it has changed me significantly none-the-less.

This year, I am going to learn some new skills:
My first real attempt at colour-work.  I am planning on a few of these, because everyone who sees the picture in the book seems to want one of these ski masks.  It is from Son of Stitch and Bitch.  And then I will be moving on to more complex colour work.
...and I am going to learn toe-up socks.  See how far I got?  I lost my 4th knitting needle some time on Christmas Eve and noticed the next day.  We were out of town in a hotel and all the stores were closed.  I bought a new set a few days ago but I haven't gotten back to them yet.  Here's the was the only project I brought with me, so for days I could only look at my knitting bag - totally unable to knit a single stitch.  These socks are from Sock Knitting Master Class.

On the reading front:  I have decided to re-read lots of the books on my bookshelf.  Things I haven't read in a while.  I just started re-reading "Middlemarch" by George Elliott.  Not very far into it yet, and little things are coming back to me as I read it, but it's kind of like reading a new book.  I don't remember much of it at all.

I'll be joining:   Yarn Along over at small things