Saturday, December 30, 2006

From Leisure Arts leaflet #470 - Three's Company - design by Frankie
Buckley. Stitched away back in the 90's. Not yet framed. Stitched on
a sort of greeny Aida.

The week at work was busy. Not a surprise really, since it's end of month,
we were closed for two business days, and several people were away on
holidays. So I got two full days of work, but part time on Friday, which
was fine by me because we had company coming for dinner that night,
so I was able to get home in good time. A week ago, on the last work day
before Christmas, it was a rainy day out, and it took me about 3 hours to
get home.

I should clarify here that I work for a company that processes work for
the banks, among other companies. I am a part time employee, but
will work full time when they need me. DH drives me to work in the
morning, which takes about 45 minutes, but I have to make my own way
home by transit and Go service. That takes me about an hour and a half
on a normal day. But when the weather's bad it can take longer....much
longer. So on my way home from work I read. Lots!

On Friday night we had friends come for dinner, and my Mom came as
well. Our friends live outside of Glasgow, Scotland but have relatives living
here in Ontario. So every Christmas they come here to spend the holidays
with their relatives. And one evening each year they come here for dinner
and a visit. It's one of the highlights of our Christmas season.

Last night we went to a Fondue party. It's an annual thing put on by one
of the members of the smaller choir that DH belongs to. He belongs to the
main church choir, plus this smaller, folkier one. There must have been
about 35 people, including teenagers and kids of various ages, and
spouses. Long tables were set up in the basement of the house, with
Fondue pots placed at intervals along the length of each table for 4 to 6
people to share. Bowls of raw chicken, beef, potatoes and two kinds of
sausage were also set out in each area and each person had two fondue
forks to use at a time. It is a meal that requires patience, as you have to put your food into the fondue pot and then wait while it cooks in the hot oil.
But it is also the best kind of meal to just relax, and chat with your
neighbours. You can't rush. Desert was cake. One of those confetti cakes,
with a candle in the centre to celebrate Jesus's birthday.

I took my new camera to the party and managed to snap a few pictures. I'm
having so much fun with this little camera, snapping candid pictures as the
mood hits me. And once I load the software onto my computer to be able to
download the pictures onto it I'll be (inflicting) sharing some of those
pictures with you on this blog. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Here is Phoebe, settled on the back of the love seat in our living room. Don't
you just love her fluffy tail? You can't tell from the picture, but in the centre
of that white fluffy tail tip is a dot of black fur. Right now she is laying here
on the desk top, on her blanket, next to my elbow purring away.

So how was every one's Christmas? Hope it was wonderful. Since DH has
been nursing a bug for a couple of weeks we decided this year to skip the
outdoor Christmas Eve service that we usually attend in Ballinafad, a small
town just north of here. Instead, after dinner, we drove to the homes of a
couple of our friends to drop off gifts and share a cup of cheer (beer for DH,
tea for me). And to look at the Christmas lights around town. We were
home around 11:00, and into bed soon after that. Didn't want to risk
running into Santa doing his rounds by staying up too late. I hear he doesn't
care for that sort of thing, with adults anyway.

On Christmas day we spent part of the morning doing light household
chores. I made my turnip casserole, which my SIL and Mom and I love and
DH hates. Then I brought the gifts down from the spare room where they'd
been kept safe behind closed doors, away from curious Kitties who find the bows and trim fascinating things. DH arranged them under the tree so that
we could have at least a few hours of seeing them looking pretty under there.

DH picked my Mom up around 2:30 and brought her over, and SIL arrived
soon after. The roast went into the oven to cook, and then we opened gifts.
As usual we were all quite spoiled. I gave DH tickets to a concert by one of
our favourite bands, the Irish Descendants. They are coming to the Rose
theatre in Brampton next March and we love seeing them live. This will be
the third concert of theirs that we've been to. Proving that we certainly
think alike, DH gave me a lovely card, with a beautiful note that he'd written
inside which brought tears to my eyes, and a promise to take me to any live
show that I'd care to see next year. So sweet. I think I'll keep him.

Another gift that knocked my socks off was from Darlene. My very own
digital camera!! Yes folks, soon I'll be taking my own pictures and posting
them all over my blog. And poor Darlene won't have to spend half her visits
here walking around the house, with me pointing at things and shouting
"Ok, take a picture of that! And that! And that over there!!". Of course, first
I have to figure out how to work the thing, which of course means
instructions and assistance from Darlene. So she's not quite off the hook, yet.

More Christmas stuff from around the house. This lot is in the front bay window of our living room. Note the green grass on our front lawn. It has been unseasonably warm for this time of year here, with lots of rain and no snow to speak of. Which unfortunately meant a green Christmas. We should be below freezing now that Winter is officially here, but we're actually 5 or 6 degrees warmer then that, and sometimes more. DH reports that our Crocus's are poking up out of the ground at the front of the house.

Dinner was delicious and we all stuffed ourselves silly. SIL made a heavenly coconut creme pie, which made a nice change from the usual pumpkin pie I usually make. And best of all, she left us the leftovers to finish off. Tonight dinner will be warmed over left overs, which will probably taste better then they did last night.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

This is the display that I have set up in our kitchen for Christmas. The
kitchen is blue, which is not the most Christmasy of colours, however
with the help of my friends I've managed to collect a fair number of
ornaments to make the room festive. Behind the kitchen table you can
see the narrow counter which is a part of a built in wall unit made in
the style of a hutch.

With apologies to our friends Rob and Sandy, here is the same area lit
up at night. The red, glowing piece is a glass brick which has had a hole
drilled into it, and a string of red lights pushed inside. Then it's been
wrapped in a bright sliver and red bow and trimmed with beads and
stuff. I picked it up at a craft show in November and I love it.

The coffee table in our living room. The Snowmen and friends under the table are from Hallmark card stores and when you press a button each one sings and dances. Quite cute, quite irresistible.

A blurry picture of our living room on the night of our Christmas party. It shows the Christmas tree all lit up, and from top to bottom. The glowing thing on top of the tree is a gold star. No tinsel, because of the cats. We don't have a fireplace mantel, so the stockings are hung by suction cups on the bay window.

Today I wrapped the last of the Christmas presents. Tomorrow my Mom and SIL come to join us for Christmas dinner. Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, Mashed potato's, Turnip casserole and Cauliflower. SIL is bringing desert.

I hope that everyone has a most wonderful Christmas. Special shout out to Darlene who took all the above pictures, and who is such a dear, wonderful friend to us. Thanks for everything Dar.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Christmas project from Better Homes and Gardens - Cross Stitch
Christmas magazine dated 1992. I'm stitching the boarder with a blend
of DMC #304 and Kreinik metallic #003HL red. The snowflakes are DMC
#321 and #498.

I've never used this metallic stuff before and it's not the easiest thing in the world to stitch with. The thread won't stay straight, and it frays so that little black "hairs" escape and stick out all over the place. I'm managing about 8
to 12 x-stitches before I have to change the blended thread. So it's taking
me a heck of a long time just to stitch a straight boarder. And there is a
smaller boarder inside the square of snowflakes to be done as well. Then I
stitch the words "and on Earth Peace" in shadings of the three reds. It'll
look lovely when done. I love red.

Well, we had our yearly Christmas party here on Saturday. It was a busy
time for us, but in the end it was great fun. And I think that everyone had
a nice time.

To begin, Darlene came out on Thursday night since we were both off on
Friday. We spent Friday baking. I made some of my shortbread cookies
and some mini mince meat tarts. Friday night we, including DH, went to
the pub for dinner and had a nice visit with Brenda, the proprietor and her
daughter Tracey who helps her on weekends to run the place. When we got
home DH went off to bed while Darlene and I sat up to watch a DVD. She'd
rented "The Devil Wears Prada". It was great. Meryl Streep is something
else, isn't she? What an amazing actress. And such a natural, striking
beauty. Very classy lady.

Saturday morning was spent cleaning around the house, setting up the
dining room table as a snack station, arranging chairs around the living
room to supplement the existing seating already there and puttering. I also made a double batch of macaroni and cheese to be part of the buffet dinner. Then a trip to the grocery store to pick up the snack trays that we'd ordered
for the day, as well as other necessities. Then home to sort everything out,
get the M&M's frozen lasagnas into the oven to warm, and to get dressed.
DH went to pick up Mom at the residence and brought her back here just before the official start time of the party.

Promptly at 3:00pm people started to arrive and from there it was a roller
coaster of non stop running for us. In all, counting children, we probably
had about 50 people here, although some couldn't stay the entire time.

A few glitches included DH having to make a beer/pop run when we began
to run short. And then there was the food. Every time that we have a party
and I'm planning the food order/menu DH nags me that I'm making/buying
too much stuff and it'll go to waste. I would rather have too much then not
enough. Well, two large lasagnas, a double batch of mac 'n cheese, a large
pile of honey/garlic chicken wings, friend Mary's home made "Mother's
Stupid Casserole" (her name for it, not mine), two of those small smoked
hams, and rolls and butter were laid out for the hordes. And it disappeared
in short order. I think everyone got enough to eat. Well, except me. Being
the good hostess, not to mention a worry wart one, I waited until everyone
else had eaten before I went to fill my plate. I got a few chicken wings and a
roll. And some of the "Stupid" casserole. Nothing else left. And that's after
they'd been noshing on a fruit tray, a veggie tray, two trays of shrimp, a
cheese tray and a bread and spread tray. Good Grief!!

Ah, but it was grand seeing everyone, and the time just went so darn fast.
By 11:30 the last of the guests had left, and the cleanup begun. DH,
Darlene, SIL Nora and I finally fell into bed at 2:00am Sunday morning.

Sunday morning DH was up to feed the cats at 8:00am since he is an early
riser. The rest of us were all up by 9:30. The rest of the day was spent
doing the final clean ups, laundry and just being lazy. SIL went home
around noon and Darlene around 5:30. DH then drove me over to Mom's residence where they were having the family Christmas dinner. DH was entertaining a mild cold so he didn't join us but Mom and I had a nice
meal and visit.

And that was our weekend!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

This project was done one summer away back about 18 years ago. I
remember taking it with me to summer concerts at Ontario Place
which is located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto.

At that time there was an outdoor venue there to go and see concerts.
The concerts were free with your admission to Ontario Place. The
concert stage was in the centre of a bowl shaped indentation in the
ground, with seating rising up on three sides. There was a high roof over
the stage but the sides were open to the elements, and you could also sit
on the grass on the higher slopes above the seating area. The stage area
could rotate (like a lazy Susan) during the shows so no matter where you
sat you would eventually have a couple of opportunities to face the

I was on holiday from work for a couple of the shows that my friends and
I wished to see that Summer, so I would go down to Ontario Place in the
afternoon, and pick out seats for us on a row of benches close to the
stage area, and settled in. Usually the person, or group performing that
evening would show up in the afternoon to run a sound check, and would
perform a few songs, and do what ever needed to be done to prepare for
the show. So those of us there early to hold onto seats were treated to a
preview of the show.

To pass the time while waiting for my friends to come from work to join
me at the Forum (which is what the venue was called) for the show I would
take something to read, and my cross stitch. It passed the time quickly and
made the wait of about six hours bearable. Those wooden benches were
hard on the back side when sitting for so long but that was the only draw
back to the whole experiance.

So who did we see back then at the Forum? At the risk of dating myself
I'll list who I remember seeing. Some of these would be Canadian groups
so I don't know how well known they would be away from here.
1) Mike and the Mechanics
2) Rita MacNeil
3) The Monkees (all but Mike)
4) 1964 (a Beatles tribute band)
5) The Box
6) Glass Tiger
7) John Williams conducting the Toronto Symphony Orchestra....Star Wars
done live....WOW!!
8) Gowan
9) Blue Rodeo
10) The Nylons
Ah, it was so much fun. Now the Forum is gone, a standard concert stage
has taken it's place, and you have to pay a good chunk of change to get in.
It's no fun anymore. We saw The Rankin Family there once and though
they were great the venue was nothing special. And too expensive.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Darlene took this picture of a picture of my parents on their wedding
day 50 years ago last September.

As with many other people back then, all of my parent's official
wedding pictures were printed in black and white. I sometimes wondered
what colours the clothes were that my Aunt and my grandmothers were wearing in the pictures, when I looked through the album. The Bride
of course wore white, and the men were in dark suits. The pictures in
the album were the only ones I'd ever seen of my parent's wedding day.

About eight years ago a cousin of my Mother's came over from England
for a visit, and she brought along a package of pictures that she had
found in her Mum's belongings. These were pictures of us here, taken at
various times over the years and sent to England for the relatives there
to see. Pictures from the time when I was a baby, up until my wedding
day, and some a bit after that too.

Among the photographs was a small box of coloured slides. Now my
parents never used slides. Our pictures were always developed into
photographs. We've never had a projector and screen to view slides with.
At that time that my cousin gave the slides to me I glanced at them and
saw a couple were of me as a baby that I knew we already had in our own
albums so I packed the box of slides away with other family keepsakes
and sort of forgot about it.

Not long ago I was browsing through the boxes of family memorabilia
and came across the box of slides. I opened it, and began to really look
at each of the slides individually. I that's when I realized that there were
about eight pictures that were taken of my parent's wedding day, and they
were in colour!! There were also other pictures of my parents which were
taken around the same time.

So DH and I took the slides into our favourite local photo shop and asked
about having photographs made from them. And the one especially of my
parents, taken on their wedding day, standing shoulder to shoulder. That
one I wanted to have made into an 8 x 10 picture, if possible. We left
the slides at the shop and returned a week later to see what they'd been
able to accomplish.

We were told that some of the pictures were blurry, and many of them
were faded in colour, but the technician had worked with his equipment
to get the best possible prints from each slide. They said that the slides
were probably made within the first year that it had been possible to make
colour slides, so the technology was still being perfected.

Most of the pictures of my parent's wedding day are blurry. But some
are pretty clear, and it's no big deal either way because at least now I can
see the colours of the day, which is pretty amazing after all these years.
Other pictures are of my parents in their first apartment. It's so
strange looking at these pictures because my parents look so young in them.

And the 8 x 10 picture turned out fantastic, as you can see at the top of this
entry. My Mom Norma, and my Dad Chuck (Charles). My Dad passed
away eight years ago. Today my Mom celebrated her 85th birthday. We
gave her the framed picture for her birthday. She never even knew it existed.
Needless to say she was speechless when she saw it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Above is picture of The Drawn Thread's "Spot of Autumn".

I got stash today!! As you may have guessed from the projects that
I've been stitching this year, my stash is rather dated. My stuff is
mainly from around the mid 90's and before. Then I stopped
stitching and collecting charts for about 10 years. Now that I'm
back in the "game" and cruising other stitcher's blogs I see all the
new designers and their lovely cross stitch designs and I want them
all too. But these things are expensive so I'm trying to go slowly and
make sure that the charts that I buy are the ones that I really really

My favourite designers? I seem to be leaning towards the following:
A Prairie Schooler ~~The Drawn Thread ~~Just Nan~~Lavender and
Lace~~Little House Needleworks~~

Today's stash delivery is all designs from The Drawn Thread. They are:
Spot of Autumn~~Spot of Summer~~12 Houses Sampler~~Halloween
House Sampler.

Of course, now that I have these nifty new charts, I need to order the
specialty threads to stitch them with, and the fabrics to stitch them on.
But that will have to wait until after Christmas, when all the bills are
paid and I can afford them.

Oh, and I then need to quit work and stay home so that I'll have all the
time in the world to stitch all these projects, plus all the others sitting
in my crafts cupboard.

I'm currently reading a biography of John Gielguid, written by Sheridan
Morley. A wonderful read and quite funny at times. Sir John had the
unfortunate tendency to unintentionally stick his foot in his mouth when
talking to people. He was quite famous for it. Or would that be infamous?
Anyways, he didn't mean to say the things that he said, or how they would
sound once spoken aloud. But it makes for humorous reading.