Friday, 29 January 2010

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays - The delta is My Home by Tom McLeod & Mindy Willett

The author of this book, Tom, is an 11 year old boy or mixed Gwich'in and Inuvialuit heritage. He is often called to tell his stories on CBC North Radio. He has a natural story telling ability.
In this book he tells a few stories about hunting with his father, muskrats and about living in Canada's largest delta, located on the Mackenzie River.
The photos in the book are by Tessa Macintosh and are amazing.
This is the type of book that you want to keep on your coffee table within easy reach as you will want to look at it again and again. I hope that we will be seeing more stories from Tom McLeod in the near future.
To learn more about this picturesque area visit the Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute website.

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays - Varlam Shalamov

An interesting article about Russian author Varlam Shalamov 1907-1982 has been posted at 'From Russia with Love'. He survived over 15 years spent in a Stalin era work camp.

To learn even more about Mr. Shalamov, visit the site of 'The Shalamov Society'.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Recipe Thursday - Sausageroni

On the weekend I made one of our favourite meals, Beefaroni, or actually Sausageroni, no beef.

750 grams Italian sausage (5 large sausage)
red pepper
3 cups spagetti sauce
2-3 cups elbow macaroni

This is one of those dishes where you kinda wing it and go with what you like.
Remove the casing from the sausage and brown it in a deep frying pan. (we like the spicy Italian) Remember to drain off the fat.

Add assorted veggies and stir fry for several minutes until soft enough for your liking. You could also add green pepper, zucchini, diced eggplant. Add what you have and what you like. I don't usually add garlic as I feel that the sausage has lots of flavour and the garlic might fight with it.

Meanwhile, add the paste to a large pot of boiling water. Ensure that you use a large pot, as pasta needs to be able to move around in the pot while cooking. You can use the larger amount of pasta if you want to dish to go further. When the pasta is ready, drain and then add to the meat pan. Add in the jar of pasta sauce and stir till warmed through. You can sprinkle with any type of cheese, we tend to like cheddar, but it tastes great without cheese.
Sorry, we were so eager to get eating that I forgot to take a picture of the finished dish.

If you have a recipe that you would like to share, post it to your blog, and then on Saturday, visit Beth Fish Reads and join in her Weekend Cooking Meme.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Haiti Peace Quilts

The plight of the many injured and displaced people in Haiti has been the biggest news story in the past weeks. I was curious whether there is quilting there. The first site I found is called 'Haiti Peace Quilts' and is a program to teach quilting to Haitians and help them learn how to market their works.

The quilt pictured is titled 'L'Arbre de Vie' (Tree of Life) and measure 51 x 51 inches. I borrowed the picture from the gallery section of the website.

There are several updates to the site in recent days. Many of their quilters have survived though though their houses are destroyed. They definitely plan to continue with their efforts and are providing immediate relief as they are able.

You can view many other works on the site as well as arrange to purchase them. The organizers have also set up a program called 'Win-Win' where you purchase a quilt and then use it as the prize in a fund raising raffle. Your group can either keep the proceeds of the raffle or donate them back to Haiti Peace Quilts.

If you want to make a quilt to be sent to Haiti, visit the Mennonite Central Committee website for instructions including sizes.

Needlework Tuesday

I started my morning with a cuppa black tea and some Tim Tams. They are a most popular cookie from Australia. Today is Australia Day and I wanted to celebrate with my friend Barb even though 10 000 km separate us.

Last night was the meeting for my local guild. It was a Community Service evening and we were making bags for the Mennonite Central Committee. These are 11x16 inch bags that they fill with various supplies and then distribute. Our guild had planned to make 200 bags, a goal which we easily exceeded. Here's the link to the MCC Kit Bags.

We also had a book vendor at the meeting. I purchases 3 books. The first, 'Jelly Roll Quilts' by Pam & Nicky Lintott was requested by my mother. First I'll have to make the pattern called 'Pineapple Surprise' and then she gets the book.

My daughter asked for a book with 'circles'. This one titled 'Circle Play' by Reynola Pakusich seemed to fit her requirements. Time will tell what we make from this book.

For myself I choose 'Shifting Perspectives' by Lorraine Torrence. I have looked at this book previously and didn't buy it and then later regretted it. So now I have a copy and look forward to trying this technique.

In the past week I have completed the quilting on two projects. The 'ABC' quilt is ready for binding as is a scrap quilt for Karen.. I have shown a corner of Karen's quilt. Hope to have the binding on both by next week as well as labels made for both.
I also have been working on the Bernat Knit along and just realized I forget to take a picture of the cable block that we knit. I have finished 2 of the 3 blocks and the third is more than 1/2 done. Will be ready when the final block is unveiled later this week.
As you can imagine, I am on a role this week and want to keep the momentum going. I'd better park myself in front of my sewing machine and see what I can accomplish before this feeling goes away.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Recipe Thursday - A healthy breakfast alternative

I've never been a fan of bacon and eggs for breakfast. It always seems to sit heavy in my stomach. Sugary cereals leave me hungry again in less than an hour.

I had some left over brown rice and decided that would do. I put 1/2 cup of cooked rice, 1/2 cup soy milk and a small hand of dried fruit in a bowl, popped it in the microwave for 2 minutes and voila, a filling breakfast. I usually add a tablespoon of sunflower seeds once it's warmed.

Occasionally I will mix in a whole egg before the microwave, but you need to remember to stir it every minute or so while heating, and extend the cooking time to about 3 or 3 1/2 minutes. Add fresh fruit when you have some. This keeps me going till lunch time.

I would love to hear what you have for breakfast. Leave a comment with your recommendations.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh (an snap a picture)

My dog, Atreyu, is seriously food oriented as are many Labs. He also can't resist shredding a box when the opportunity appears. He got in over his head yesterday when he tried to get the last few crumbs out of the Frosted Flakes box. He has a huge head and once he stuck it in the box he couldn't get it out. He just stood there waiting for help to arrive. I just had to make him wait a wee bit longer while I found the camera.
And yes, I did give him the crumbs after I pulled the box off his head. Honestly, I did not stage this photo. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Needlework Tuesday

I like weeks when I finish up projects.

First shown are the fingerless mitts I made for my daughter. I finished them over the holidays and yesterday darned in the ends of the yarn. Our dog wouldn't move so he is in the picture. I didn't use the recommend yarn, instead I used Patons Astra that knits up to the same tension. Also its very washable. Pattern for Fingerless Mitts. I didn't need to make any adjustments to the pattern. Will be making more pairs as my son wants t pair in a more suitable colour.

I made this cable knit hat using Bernat Satin. That's the same yarn that I am using for the Knit Along. Its a very soft yarn and suits the cables. You only need one ball of this yarn and there was quite a bit left over, so you could choose the slightly smaller variegated version. This is a free pattern that is found on the ball band or at the website. You might need to join Bernat to access the pattern. Free Bernat Satin cable knit hat pattern.

When i make this hat next I will add 4 more rows in the pattern before starting the decreases for the crown. Be sure to check your tension, if you are even a bit tight, the hat will be too small. I used a 5 1/2 mm needle instead of the 5mm recommended and as you can see, it fits snugly.

I did start the 7th pattern for the Bernat Knit along. This is a cable and twist patten and is taking more concentration. Rather a big step from last week's pattern. It does look really nice. Will have a picture for you next week. Then only one more block variation to go.

I am working on the ABC quilt. Its sitting at my sewing machine and needs on the boarder to be quilted. I think I will have to stitch around each of the embroidered letters so that they show up better. I used Hobbs Polydown batting, which I generally love. Unfortunately this piece of batting was cut smaller than the advertised size. It was supposed to by 81 inches wide but was only 76 inches, which was the exact size of my backing. I had planned to use that extra 5 inch strip in another project. oh darn. I will have to send an email along to Hobbs to let them know about this situation. I plan to finish this in the next day or so and get started on another top that has been sitting too long. I want them both quilted before my quilt guild meeting next monday.

Let me know if you try either of these knitting patterns. Would love to see a pic of the results.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Online College Course

I have signed up for an online College course and I haven't the slightest idea what I am doing. There is an intro letter that I read and an intro handbook that I am supposed to follow step by step on where to find the class info and assignments and how to submit them etc. I tried reading it once but it could have been written in Greek for all it was helpful (guess I should ask my sister in for help then as she is Greek). I will give it another read when the house is quiet and see if the second time through it makes more sense.

This may interfere with my blogging so maybe not as many book reviews in the next 2 months, but I will keep plugging away and give you the occasional update.


Friday, 15 January 2010

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays - Beth Cuthand & Mary Longman

Today I read the story of 'The Little Duck - Sikihpsis' by Beth Cuthand. She is a Cree writer who grew up in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.

This is the story of a lonely, little mud duck who wants some friends. He lives near a village of Cree and he greatly admires them and wants to be one of them. When the villagers are preparing for a dance, the duck dresses himself as finely as a duck can and went to the village. They are polite to him and direct him into the area of the dance, but neither the duck nor the people understand each other as they speak different languages. Finally the little duck realizes that he will never be a Cree and he goes back to his swamp. After he removes all his fancy dress he hears the calls of other mud ducks and realizes that he can understand them.

The text of the story is written in both English and Cree (both in English lettering and in the Cree alphabet). The second picture shows the Cree translation of the story, and the third picture shows the mud duck after he had finished dressing himself for the party. The Cree translation is by Stan Cuthand. The illustrations are by Mary Longman Aski-Piyesiwiskwew.

You can learn more about Beth Cuthand at the Internet Public Library, Native American Authors.
Mary Longman Aski-Piyesiwiskwew - Saulteaux is a member of the Gordon Band near Punnicy, Saskatchewan.
There is a really good podcast with Mary at the Mendel Art Gallery website titled 'Whose History? Reconstructing Indigenous & Settler Pasts on the Canadian Plains'
ArtSask features a sculpture or hers titled 'Ancestors Rising'

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Recipe Thursday - Orange Chicken Stir Fry

I don't get it, my family actually wants to eat different food every day and on weekend they want to eat several times. I get tired of making the same thing over and over again, so am always on the lookout for new recipes.
I was browsing online for how to roast veggies in the oven and came across the blog 'I love Kale'. They have a nice recipe for Roasted Potatoes and Tokyo Turnips . I modified the recipe by using tiny potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Mostly I wanted to pour balsamic vinegar over everything. I have added this blog to my list that I follow as they have some neat ideas.


My next meal choice arrived in my inbox in an email from Company Comings Cookbooks. Click the link for the recipe for Orange Chicken Stir-Fry. We were quite pleased with this dish. It is more savoury in nature and next time I make it will add either some diced hot peppers or a couple of dashes of hot pepper sauce. I used 2 boneless chicken breasts.

Miri over at 'Milk and Honey Quilts' has a nice recipe for Chocolate Sauce for your ice cream sundae.
Karen has a recipe for 'Hearty Tomato Soup' over at 'Quilts...etc. You will have to scroll down past the quilt blocks.
Visit Beth Fish Reads for more yummy weekend recipes and related book reviews.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Mask by Dean Koontz

This 1981 thriller still packs a punch.
Carol and Paul Tracy have been trying to adopt a child and are meeting with an adoption official when a freak wind storm hits the office building that they are in. Through out the storm, Carol gets the impression that someone or something is trying to stop them from adopting.
Shortly after that happens, Carol hits a teenage girl steps in front of her car. It turns out that this girl.... Oh I can't tell you any more. You will have to read to find out.
At first this book didn't grab me, but I kept reading as I know that Mr. Koontz tends to write very captivating stories and I figured this one wouldn't be any different. It wasn't long before I was eagerly turning pages and shushing my family when they wanted to interrupt me.
The story is only slightly dated, as in Paul Tracy using a type writer and making his coffee in a 'Mr. Coffee' coffee maker. I had one of those about 25 years ago.
All in all a good read and it didn't have me checking behind doors and hiding the knives in the kitchen, but then again, if there had been lightning and thunder...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Needlework Tuesday

I really like last weeks clue for the Bernat Knit Along. Its a nice diamond or lozenge pattern. I have two of the three colours completed. I took this picture in front of the window and it looks very grey where its really a deep green.

I started work on the alphabet blocks that I showed you last week. My friend, Audrey, was cleaning out for a move and found a set of alphabet blocks that she had embroidered more than 20 years ago. I matched them up with a set of fabric charms representing each letter of the alphabet. I adapted the pattern from a picture in the book 'Sensational Settings: Over 80 Ways to Arrange your Quilt Blocks' by Joan Hanson. My book is the 1993 version, there is a new 2004 edition available.

My dog, Atreyu, decided that he wanted to get in the action and take a nap in the middle of my work.

You can't really tell in the final picture, but there is a middle boarder of a marbled fabric. My friend is a paper maker/book binder and it was the perfect fabric to include. Also, I already had it so didn't have to leave the house. The only thing I will need to purchase is a package of Polydown quilt batting.

I hope to have this finished by next week so it can go on her daughter's bed. Its cold here and she might be needing it at her new house.

My (Worst) Best Sleepover Party by Anna Morgan and Dr. Rachael Turkienicz

Rose is excited. She wants to have a sleepover for her birthday party and invite all her friends; the girls from her class at school. After she has given out all the invitations, Hailey and Bailey tell her they won't attend if she invites Stacey, Rose's best friend.
Hailey and Bailey are bullies and they like to tell mean jokes about members of their class and they insist on choosing all the games that the class plays at recess. Now they want to determine who can attend the sleepover.
This book had me seeing red because it so accurately portrayed the events that are happening everyday in our schools. Even the teacher was being manipulated by the bullies. Fortunately Rose and Stacey have understanding parents who helped them through this situation and both their families and their friendship came out stronger for the experience.
Thank-you to the authors for tackling such a pervasive topic.
I received this autographed book from a Bookcrossing friend and will be passing it along to a young reader.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Shelf Monkey: Monkey droppings - Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde: "Once monochrome fundamentalism gets a hold, it can be hard to eradicate."

Shelf Monkey: Monkey droppings - <i>Shades of Grey</i> by Jasper Fforde: "Once monochrome fundamentalism gets a hold, it can be hard to eradicate."

Shades of Grey: A Novel by Jasper Fforde

Imagine a world where your ability to see colour is your most valuable asset and your next most valuable is your spoon. Jasper Fforde has created such a place in his latest novel.
Months before he is to take the 'Ishihara' and determine his colour competency, Eddie Russett is sent with his father, a Swatchman(health practitioner) to conduct a chair survey in East Carmine, a distant, rural location. He has started to question his life and the way things are done and 'head office' doesn't want anyone to upset the rules of the collective. What could go wrong by sending him to a remote location with his father to watch over him?
If he hadn't met Jane, a Grey, who appears to flaunt every rule she comes up against he might have got along just fine. Unfortunately Eddie is instantly attracted to Jane and that spells trouble for him.
I was fascinated by this book. In fact, I was distracted from the story a few times by thinking about the possibilities of this world. What would it be like to one see in one colour, for Eddie, he only sees red but lots of red. Mr. Fforde has devised a complex world that follows the rules of Munsell including the banning of the number that occurs between 72 and 74, being forbidden to count sheep, and not making new spoons. The idea of the Apocryphal man, who was treated as invisible, was most intriguing. I don't think that I could ignore a person who walked into my house just because some rule defined that he didn't exist.
While this is a fanciful world it does bear close resemblance to ours with a Yellow family of bullies and various political intrigues/conspiracies. I can't wait for the next book in this 3 book series.
Thanks to Penguin books for my advanced copy.
You can read Corey Redekop's review over at 'Shelf Monkey'
Visit Chris over at Book-A-Rama for another good review.
Also see what Marie has to say at Daisy's Book Journal.
You might also be interested in:
Another book with colour based segments of society is 'Only Forward' by Michael Marshall Smith. You can read my earlier review by clicking on the title.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays - The Snow Maiden - Russia

It was about 20 years ago when I first heard the story of the 'Snow Maiden'. It was via a sale flyer from a collectible business. They were offering this lovely plate depicting a scene from the story. Obviously I bought it.

I hadn't thought about it in ages, even though the plate has a special place in my china cabinet until I was reading at 'from Russia with love' and there was the story.

Please visit 'from Russia with love' to learn the story of the Snow Maiden.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Recipe Thursday - Lamingtons

My friend Barb frequently sends me recipes to try. I love them as she is an Aussie and its usually something totally new to me and my family. Recently she sent me a recipe for 'Lamingtons'.
They were amazing. A little square of cake dipped in a warm chocolate frosting and then rolled in coconut. very yummy. Hubby felt that he was in heaven. I made a few changes in the recipe to accommodate the ingredients we purchase here but you can click the link above and see the original. The piece shown is about 1 1/2 inches square.
6 eggs
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup corn flour (fine corn meal)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup self raising flour ***
2 cups coconut

4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp butter
2/3 cups milk
Grease 9 inch square pan. Beat eggs in a medium bowl with mixer for about 10 minutes or until thick and creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, dissolving after each addition. Mix the 3 flours together and fold into the egg mixture. Do not beat, but gently fold into the eggs to preserve the air bubbles.
Spread mixture into the prepared pan; bake in 350 F oven for about 30 minutes. Turn cake onto a wire rack to cool.
Cut cake into 25 squares. At this point you can leave the cake over night to get a bit stale, it will absorb more frosting this way and be more chocolaty.
To make frosting.

Sift icing sugar and cocoa into heatproof bowl; stir in butter and milk. Stir icing over pan of simmering water until it is of a coating consistency. Dip the squares of cake into the icing and cover the cake completely. I used a 2 prong roasting fork. Then roll the coated cake in the coconut.
*** To make self raising flour. Place 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp of salt in the bottom of a 1/3 cup measuring cup. Fill with all purpose flour. Mix well.
Darilyn has posted her instructions for microwave bacon without the stove top spatters.
Ami McKay, author of 'The Birth House' has posted her family recipe for Grandma Tilly's Lebkuchen


Visit 'Weekend Cooking' over at 'Beth Fish Reads' to see what other bloggers have been cooking this week.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys

This little book (5 1/2 " wide x 6 1/2 " tall x 1 " thick) is a real gem. Its the story of the the 40 times that the Thames River frozen over upstream from the London Bridge, in England.
That the river froze is factual, some of the stories that accompany a given year are also based on fact and others are fanciful. That did not diminish my enjoyment of this book.
There were several years that stuck in my mind:
The author tells us that Bess employed workmen to continuously build on her house as a fortune teller had foretold that she would die if the work stopped. Apparently it was so cold in 1608 that the mortar would not set and thus building stopped.
A significant moment in history worth noting.
Empress Anna ordered an ice palace constructed in Russia. This task was again undertaken in Saint Petersburg in 2006.
This is not a 'meat and potatoes' kind of book that you can really set into reading. Rather its like that bowl of tiny after dinner mints; you can read one story and walk away, come back later for a couple of stories and then leave a few in the bowl for the next day.
I do wish that there had been included a map of the Thames River with the mentioned locations, including the old and current London Bridge.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Needlework Tuesday

It seems ages since I was here on a Tuesday to present a needlework update.

I finally got to part 5 of the Bernat Knit Along. This is a straight forward lacy pattern of knit 2 together and yarn overs. I have all three colours completed and have printed out part 6 of the pattern. Should be up to date by the end of the week.

The week prior to Christmas I started this lovely red, metallic scarf for my sister. Last time she visited I showed her the gold, metallic scarf that I knit, but the colour was wrong for her. She has lovely red hair and so that's the colour I made for her. I knit 25 stitches on 6 mm needles, using 4 balls of Palette Collection Series 107/219. She is very pleased with this scarf.

This pillow case from batik fabric was made for one of the young people at my fencing club. She is drawing a picture for me in exchange. She does such lovely work and I wanted to encourage her to continue with her art work.

Friends of ours are moving and have been clearing out 'stuff'. She bought me a small bag of fabric and such. There was this crib size quilt top. The upper left corner is embroidered with a little piggie.

You can see him in this photo. The other squares are blank. I don't know if I should finish it as is, or remove that block and put in a blank and machine quilt in a new picture or design on each block. She has a 3 year old daughter who will love the finished project what ever it turns out to be.

She also brought a second project. 26 embroidered alphabet blocks that she had started to set into a quilt. I will be taking this apart and making a new setting though I have no ideas yet. There are a few yards of the floral fabric that I will be using. The blocks are about 6 inches.
I want to finish these two quilts quickly and move back to the others that I was working on earlier. Suggestions for both would be appreciated.
bye for now.