Sunday, 28 February 2010

Contest: Those Red, Canada Olympic Mittens: The hottest commodity in the Country

Its winning day today.  I was watching what I thought would be the final minutes of the Gold Medal Canada-USA mens hockey game.  arg, tied 2-2.  What better to do than draw the winner for these wonderful mittens.

I wrote a list of all the entries for each commenter, and then numbered them.  Then I went to and had them generate a random number in my range to determine the winner.

The winner is Dorte in Denmark.  Will be sending her a message right away.

Now back to the game.

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

John Sutter spent 3 years sailing the oceans and then 7 more in self imposed exile in London, England.  Now he has returned to Long Island, New York to settle the affairs of his client and friend Ethel Allard.  His ex-wife Susan Stanhope Sutter has also returned and is living in the old family home, metres from Ethel's cottage where John is staying.  This wouldn't be too bad, unless you consider that the last day they lived together as husband and wife, Susan had murdered her lover Frank Bellarosa, mafia don.  If that doesn't sound complicated, factor in that Frank's son Anthony, amother of his new neighbours, has paid a visit to John, and asked if he'll work for him. 

This is the longest book I have read in some time, 770 pages.  I will admit to being ambivalent for the first 100 pages, not sure that I wanted to continue.  I questioned whether I wanted to read a story about the mafia.  I kept at it, and somewhere around page 120 I was totally hooked.  I realized that the story was about John and Susan.  What had happened in their marriage and did they want to do anything to 'fix it'.  John also had to consider the other women in his life, Samantha and Elizabeth.  Were they important to him or rather a means of marking time.

At the same time John had to deal effectiving with Anthony.  How to tell a mafia don that you don't want to work for him, but also keep breathing.  I enjoyed how this story played out.  My favourite quote from the story:

"you're not supposed to invite a vampire to cross your threshold, and I think the same rule applies for sons of dead Mafia don's." 

I am glad that I continued reading as I found myself enjoying the characters more and more as the story went along.  I can't fathom being as wealthy as Susan's family, but can visualize the challenges John faced in dealing with her parents and the threat of her being cut off from her inheritence.

Mr. DeMille has written 15 novels, one of which has been made into a feature movie. For a complete listing of his books visit Nelson DeMille's website.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for this review copy.

Wicked Night Games by Kathleen Lawless

While away in Collingwood, Ontario during the New Years holidays, I happened into 'Cover-to-Cover', a used book store at 11 Ontario Street.  It is jam packed, floor to ceiling with thousands of books.  I wanted a Canadian written erotic novel for a friend and shouldn't be surprised that I found it there.   Of course I had to read it first before I could send it along.

The story begins aboard the 'Fantasy Cruise Line' where Cassidy Ferrill is seeking revenge on Sloan Hardt because he broke her heart years ago when they were both much younger.  On this ship any fantasy can be fulfilled. 

Since this is an erotic novel, I'll let you imagine the details.  Yes, much time is spent in bed, but equal time is spent with Cassidy and Sloan getting to know each other as adults.  They learn that the other is no longer the youth they think they still know. 

For me, the best part of the story involved the shelter for young/unwed/needy mothers and children that Cassidy was working to establish.

A fun read, not much depth, but then again this genre doesn't need depth to be entertaining.  Author Kathleen Lawless has several other titles available.  Check her website for details. 

This is my 18th read for the 3rd Canadian Book Challenge.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Recipe Thursday - Reggae Gumbo

On a cold winter day I need something that will stick to my ribs and help keep me warm.  Stew definitely hits the spot.  Not wanted to make it beef based, I went for a favourite 'Reggae Gumbo'.  It's from the 'LooneySpoons' cookbook by Janet & Greta Podleski.  While this 1996 book is not longer available new,  its was a huge seller and I have seen copies in the used book stores.  The sisters do have a new cookbook out 'Eat. Shrink and be Merry'.  I have no doubt that it contains equally wonderful recipes. 

As I have told you before, I tend to make the same recipes from a particular book again and again.  From this book that would be: Wowie Maui Chicken, Salmon Spy Rolls, Puddin' on the Ritz, N.Y.P.D. Blueberry Pancakes, and Tidy Joes.  My only complaint with this book is that it can sometimes be hard to figure out what the dish is from the wacky names.

This week i made the Reggae Gumbo, which my mom said was the best stew she had ever tasted and asked for the recipe.  I asked her is she remember that cookbook she gave to my sister and me and one for herself?  Yes, she already has the cookbook.

Reggae Gumbo

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 pound boneless pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1  28 oz can tomatoes, undrained, cut up
5 1/2 oz can of tomato paste
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and grated ginger root
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon each black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (small cubes cook much faster)
1 cup sliced okra (frozen ok) or zucchini
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add pork cubes and cook until browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Add mushrooms, onions, garlic, and celery.  Cook and stir until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, ginger root, oregano, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

stir in sweet potatoes and okra or zucchini.  Cover and simmer another 30-35 minutes, until pork and potatoes are very tender.  Stir in coriander during last 5 minutes of cooking time.  Remove from heat and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Hope you enjoy this dish.  Join Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking.  You can link with a recipe or any food related post.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Needlework Tuesday

Most of my needlework activity this week has been limited to the 'Wild Blue Yonder' blocks that I started 2 weeks ago.  I had to purchase addtional fabric on saturday as I was still short the dark fabric for two blocks and didn't have enough background.  Well, I didn't like the back ground fabric in the block shown in the upper right hand corner, so had to cut 2 replacement blocks.  will piece 22 blocks, though will only be using 20 in the final quilt.

I have been thinking about the boarder.  I want to finish the pinwheel and 1/4 square blocks that are around the edge and have cut a number of additional triangels for that, though haven't put them up on the wall yet.  Next perhaps.  Any suggestions for border???

Knitting: I have touched my needles but not much accomplished.  I did try and knit and watch the Olympics, but that involved too much ripping back due to missed yarn overs and such.  I should stick to stitching together my blocks for the Bernat Knit along.  The final assembly instructions for the knit border are now posted.

Leave a comment and let me know what you've been working on this past week.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

The abduction of a three year old child from her backyard in the middle of the night.

The murder of a young woman in her father's law office.

The murder of a husband by his wife in front of their infant daughter.

Each case is horrific enough on its own, now thirty years after the occurance of the first, all three have come to the attention of ex-police inspector Jackson Brodie. 

For the life of me, I couldn't imagine how author Kate Atkinson was going to pull these stories together.  The only thing they seemed to have in common, was the grief of the victims' families.

I enjoyed the back and forth arguing and sisterly concern/love between Julia and Amelia.  It was obvious that the two had never got over the abduction of their youngest sister and that they truly did imagine her living her life somewhere safe.

Retire lawyer Theo Wyre is a father torn by grief.  I can't imagine what a parent would go through at the lose of a child in such a traumatic manner.  I found his character intriguing.  He would feed his daughters the healthiest of foods, yet comsume huge quantities of very fatty foods himself.  He knew he should exercise, yet would cheat and take a taxi.  So real.

This story would have been nothing without Jackson Brodie, ex-Police Inspector turned Private Investigator.  His life is a mess, divorced, small business that is possibly failing, lack of a love life, and now 3 clients who want him to solve the seemingly impossible.  oh yeah, and then there is his very first client, Binky Rains, a slightly nutty old lady who constantly calls Jackson to find her supposedly missing cats.  She really didn't do anything active in this story, but as a passive participant she was invaluable.

This mystery will keep you guessing right to the final pages.  I look forward to reading about the next cases of Jackson Brodie in 'One Good Turn'.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for this review copy.

Other Reviews of 'Case Histories'

Dorte at DJs krimiblog

Friday, 19 February 2010

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays - Blood Sports by Eden Robinson

I didn't love this book.  In fact it scared me.  Drugs, pornography, murders and random violence.  This is a world that is so foreign to my comfortable, middle class existence.  It kept me on the verge of tears, and created a knot in my stomach that threatened to tighten with each violent act.

Tom and Paulie are trying to escape all this for the sake of their young daughter Melody.  They are having a rough go of it.  Paulie attends daily NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings and has kept clean for 3 years. Between his alcholic mother and his psycopath cousin Jeremy, Tom's not having much success.  He has done things with and for his cousin that few of us could ever imagine.  Using a sledge hammer to pound human bones to shards being one that made me cringe. 

This story is gritty and it gets right into your soul.  I'm not going to embrace it and remember it fondly.  Its going to come back and haunt me.  I am going to see each of these characters as I walk along some dank, shadowy alley.

One thing that I found made this book so successful at conveying this creepy feeling was the way the story jumped around in time.  If it had been told beginning to end, I could have dealt with that.  I was kept unbalanced by not knowing when I was at all times.  Very successful technique.  I would definitely read more by Ms. Robinson, she can use words to create realities so vivid that I had to pull my quilt tighter around me after making sure all the lights in the room were on.

The author, Eden Robinson, currently has two other books in print: 'Traplines - 4 short stories, and Monkey Beach.

She is a member of the Haisla Nation which is located at the head of the Douglas Channel on British Columbia's North Coast.  You can learn more about the Haisla Nation by visiting their comprehensive website.

Ms. Robinson was recognized by Random House in their New Faces of Fiction 2000.

A brief bio at McClelland  and Stewart.

There is a wonderful interview with Eden Robinson in the 'Quill and Quire' December 20005 issue.

There are some wonderful examples of Haisla artwork at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery.

Recipe Thursday - Blueberry Pancakes

What could be better than a large batch of fresh blueberry pancakes to tell your Valentines that you love them.  I had already decided to make pancakes for Valentines breakfast, when son came down to ask if I would mind making pancakes.  Was he reading my mind?  or are my pancakes better than my sister's?  ( he is currently living with my sister).

I went to my fall back cookbook, 'Five Roses: A Guide to Good Cooking 25th edition".  This is the book that I used when I was baking my wedding cake.  Its rather falling apart now and I have been checking used book stores to find a copy of the same edition.  There are at least 2 editions of this book currently available (1999, 2003).

Blueberry Pancakes

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1  1/4 cup milk (soy milk works)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated lemon rind
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In a small bowl, combine beaten egg, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour liquid all at once.  Add blueberrs and lemon rind. Stir quickly until it comes freely from side of bowl.  Drop in small amounts on hot panckae griddle or cook 4 at a time in an electric frying pan.  Grease frying pan at the beginning only.  Cook pancakes until they are filled with bubbles and the undersuface is golden brown.  Turn and brown other side.

Watch the bubbles carefully, they will tell you when to turn.  When a bubble breaks, if the surrounding batter quickly fills in that hole, then don't turn, when the bubble breaks and the batter is very slow to fill the hole, time to turn over.  You should also notice that the top outer edges of the pancake will be cooked at the same time.  It really is a matter of practice to know when to turn.  The second side will cook in less than half the time of the first.  To test if you griddle is hot enough, flick a few drops of water on it, they should dance around not lie there waiting to evapourate.

Join Beth Fish Reads on Saturday for links to addtional recipes and food related review.  Add a link to your food related blog entry from this week.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Healing Power of the Quilt Frame

I read a story in my local paper this morning that spoke to me.  It confirmed my belief that by sitting around a quilt frame with a group of your peers/friends/acquaintences/strangers can have a profound effect on your day or even on your life.

Inmates at the women's prison in Kitchener, Ontario have been working together to stitch and then knot comforters for those less fortunate than themselves.  Not only are they doing something good for others, they are helping themselves heal from whatever is broken in their own lives.

My guild will be cutting squares of fabric to donate to the Mennonite Central Committee in the next while.  Perhaps some of them will find their way to these ladies.

Visit the and read the article: Prison program stitches together community

There is a link at the end of the article if you want to find out more details of this program (how to volunteer or to donate supplies).

Here's a link to an earlier article where Mennonites and Muslims have united to create comforters for Haitian Relief.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Contest: Those Red, Canada Olympic Mittens: The hottest commodity in the Country

You still have 3 more days to enter to win a pair of these popular mittens.  I will close entries at midnight on friday 19th February, Olympic time.  I'll be asleep by then, but comments get time stamped. 
Canadians are eligible to enter, though they must nominate someone with an international address to receive the mitts should they win. Could be a relative, co-worker or an online friend.  Go to my first post to read the rules and leave your entry comment there.  Good Luck.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Needlework Tuesday

I'd like to introduce you all to my mom, Elaine.  She is proudly modelling the new scarf that I made her.  She really doesn't like getting her picture taken, so you have to applaud her for being brave.    I think I made a pretty good guess on yarn colour.  Its the 'Dusty Purple' Vanna's Choice from Lion Brand.  The pattern is one of their free ones called 'Gloria Scarf'.  I am glad I gave this one a try.  It is made of 8 units, but you don't sew them together after knitting, you pick up stitches from one of the side edges.  In the past I grumbled when ever I had to pickup stitches, but this time I was patient and slipped my left hand needle under and existing loop at the very edge and then knit a new stitch.  This turned out so nice and with no lump on the back.  My socks that I knit have a ridge on the inside where I picked up stitches.  I am so happy that I now know the secret.  yippee!!!

I finished another quilt.  (small happy dance).  It is for my friend Karen.  She gave me a couple of boxes of assorted fabrics and I wanted to surprise her with a small quilt.  Well, it kinda grew till it measured 60 x 76 inches.  Batting is Hobbs Polydown.  Nice and fluffy.  The backing is a dark burgandy and blue floral type print.  The pattern is from and is called 'Bricks and Stepping Stones'.  Very easy to make, lots of 4 patches and then brick size pieces.  You can't tell in the picture, but the quilting is straight lines along the brick sides and then diagonals thru the 4patches.  I can't wait to visit her, she lives out of town in beautiful Stratford, Ontario, home of the world famous Shakespearian Stratford Festival.
I kept working on the 'Wild Blue Yonder' blocks that I talked about last Tuesday.  Then I only had one completed, but now as you can see, I have 5.  Also, today arrived a package of fabric, several of which I ordered specifically for these blocks.  I did make a mistake and order flannel versions of two, so they won't be included.  oops.  Come back next week and I'll feature more of these blocks.

I am working away on my final block for the Bernat Knit Along.  Finally.  When i visited my sister on 'Family Day' I asked her opinion on whether i needed to block the squares to size.  She figures that once I have sewn them together and added the border, they will stretch themselves to the correct size and happily stay that way. 
You can't imagine how happy I am with that plan.  I really didn't want to wet and pin 24 squares.   I plan to have pics of this one next week as well.

You still have a few days to enter my contest to win a pair of Canada Olympic mittens.  The link is found near the top of the left side of the page.

Finished for Friday is hosted by Lit and Laundry.
If you have finished something this week that you want to share, visit there and add the link to your post.  While you are there, check out what others have finished.

Monday, 15 February 2010

It's Family Day - A real holiday in Ontario

It's 'Family Day' today in Ontario.  Shortly I will be off to London to visit with my sister Shelley (the one in the red shirt) and her family.  We are going to cook, eat, chat and just plain enjoy each other's company.  Will take the blocks I have stitched for the 'Bernat Knit along' to get some pointers from her before stitching them together.

My other sister, Nancy (the one in the red scarf that I knit her, and also does the blog "Give Away a Dollar A Day" lives in Calgary Albera, so she will be attending in spirit.  She said on her blog yesterday, that when she gives away a 'loonie' we win a gold medal.  She is going to give away a whole bunch more 'loonies'.  (A loonie is the affectionate nickname for a Canadian one dollar coin, whereas a twoonie, is a two dollar coin).

So, everyone go hug your family and give them kisses.  Happy Family Day.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Book Shopping at a Library Clearance sale

I want to the library sale at the next town yesterday.  I was told that they had 40 000 books that they needed to move out of storage real fast.  Instead of charging per book, there was a $4.00 admission for adults, and you could fill a bag or box of books and take it home with you for no additonal charge.  The first picture shows my bag.  I could just carry it out to the car.

There were tons of non-fiction, lots of hardcover fiction, and some paper backs.  I even found one cookbook.

If I had put nothing else in my bag, this book 'Beyond Tradition: Comtemporary Indian Art and Its Evolution'  would have made my day.  It is full of glossy colour pictures.

My nephew is a 'weapons tech' in the Canadian Military.  These two books will be sent to him.  I'm sure he'll love them.

This is the rest of the books.

Teen Novels:
Shark Bait by Graham Salisbury
Mercury Man by Tom Henighan
replica by Marilyn Kaye
Grave Secrets by Sylvia McNicoll
Edge by Diane Tullson
The Wolves of Woden by Alison Baird
Grind by Eric Walters

Adults Novels:
Spares by Michael Marshall Smith  (just noticed that this has been on my wish list)
Death Rites by Bruce Elliot
U-571 by Max Allan Collins (for my dad who reads this military/espionage genre)
The Potato Factory by Bryce Courtenay
God Save the Queen by Dorothy Cannell
Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evenovich
Wild Justice by Phillip Margolin
The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters
Killer View by Ridley Pearson
The Siege of Eternity by Frederick Pohl (this one is for hubby)
the tin collectors by Stephen J. Cannell
The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris
Shoot Him If he Runs by Stuart Woods
Six Moon Dance by Sheri S. Tepper
Death on the Rocks by Eric Wright
The First Patient by Michael Palmer
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Murder in a Cold Climate by Scott Yound
The Bus People by Rachel Anderson
Pretty Maids all in a Row by Anthea Fraser

Any Child can read better by Harvey S. Wiener (for a friend who's daughter needs a bit of help)
They Died too Young: Jim Morrision by Jon E. Lewis (for my son)
Canadian Writes and their Works: Hugh MacLennan by Peter Buitenhuis(oops, two copies by accident)
Canadian Novelists: 1920-1945 by Clara Thomas
secrets of Lactose Free Cooking by Arlene Burlant
Indians of the Pacific Northwest by  Karen Liptak
Burl Ives' Buitar for Beginners

Some of these books I plan to read or use, but the majority will be registered with and given away.  What a haul for $4.00 and 1/2 hour of browsing.

Friday, 12 February 2010

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays - Christmas at WAPOS BAY by Jordan Wheeler & Dennis Jackson

It is the days leading up to Christmas, and Talon, Raven and T-Bear are staying with their Mushom (grandfather) checking his trapline and keeping an eye out for animals.  They are hoping to bring home enough food for their families for the holidays.  The hunting has been bad and the children decide they will sneak out early on Christmas eve morning and go hunting.  Unfortunately they don't notice the approaching storm.

This is a good coming of age story set in Northern Saskatchewan.  The three children have been learning survival skills from Mushom.  It is not easy to live in the bush and keep a trapline, and Mushom is getting old and wants to pass tradition along to one of his grandsons.

I found this a very well written story.  The grandparents have kept many of their traditional Cree ways of life (living on the land) yet their children have all moved to the city and could longer hunt nor trap.  The children seem deeply attached to the lessons of life that Mushom is teaching them.

This story has been continued in 'Wapos Bay' a successful animated series that is broadcast on APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network)

Jordan Wheeler is the author of several novels as well as writer/editor for shows such as 'North of 60', 'The Rez', and 'Big Bear'.

Dennis Jackson is a film writer/producer, who with his wife, Melanie Jackson, operate Dark Thunder Productions.

I have not watched the television version of 'Wapos Bay'  but will be on the look out for it in the near future.

This is my 16th read for the Canadian Book Challenge.

Linda's Olympic Contest

My friend Linda (this is a real person that I know and have been to several quilting retreats with) is hosting an Olympic Contest at her site 'Living, Quilting, and Stuff'.

She will create a quilted wallhanging specifically designed for the winner.  Go visit her site and leave a comment to enter.  Tell her that Heather sent you.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Recipe Thursday - Molten Chocolate Cakes

It was hubby's birthday on Tuesday and that called for a special cake.  I wanted something that would seem decadent but not have 5 gazillion calories.  Ya right, like I had a chance.  After much searching and drooling, I came across a recipe for molten volcano type cakes that I had all the ingredients for.

It is from the 2003 book 'decadent Desserts' by Company's Coming.   I have also made the 'White Chocolate Mousse' cake  which was a bit complicated, but I took several deep breaths, mixed each bowl and then combined them.  It turned out wonderful .  The 'Cherry Cheese Dessert' was much easier and turned out equally as well. 
There are several recipes for filled crepes that beg to be attempted.   I can't even begin to tell what the 'Ice Cream and Mud Cake' does to me.  All of the recipes are wonderfully illustrated and special techniques are very clearly described/pictured.  These definitely are special occasion cakes.

Molten Chocolate Cakes (the cake where the middle oozes out when you cut into it)
2 tsp butter
1 tbsp cocoa, sifted if lumpy
2/3 cup butter, no substitutes
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Grease six 3/4 cup ramekins with the first amount of butter.  Coat bottom and side of each ramekin with cocoa, discarding excess cocoa.

Heat second amount of butter and chocolate in small heavy saucepan on lowest heat, stirring often, until almost melted.  Do not overheat.  Remove from heat.  Stir until smooth.  Cool slightly.

Beat egg yolks and whole eggs in medium bowl for about 2 minutes until frothy.  Beat in icing sugar on low.  Add chocolate mixture and flour.  Beat well until thick and glossy.  Divide batter among prepared ramekins.  Place on baking sheet. Bake in 450 F over for about 12 minutes until evenly risen and edge appears set, but middle is still wobbly.  Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes.  run knife around side of cakes to loosen.  Cover with individual plates and invert to remove from ramekins.  (at this point, cakes may sit inverted witout removing ramekins for up to 20 minutes. They will stay warm and the centre with still be molten).  Makes 6 cakes.

I only had 4 ramekins, so I baked the other two in Cappacino mugs.  They were about the same volume and they turned out perfect.  I liked the shape of them better.  Very important that you grease the dish/ramekin with lots of the butter.  If you skimp, then the cocoa won't stick and you'll have trouble getting the cake out of the dish.

Important Note:  If you are using this for a birthday cake, don't stick a candle into the cake and then wait for the birthday boy to arrive at the table.  The candle will start to melt and the wax will get into the molten part.  Don't even think of asking me how I know this...
On Saturday's, Beth Fish hosts 'Weekend Cooking'.  I will add the correct link at that point and you can view the book reviews and recipes that the other participants post.

Winner of the Fabric Panels

The winner of the fabric panels is: Noricum.   I liked Karen's comment where she suggested that Noricum should win.  That was a great idea of what I should do with the fabric. 

I really liked Noricum's idea of making napkins.  Will be looking for some panels in a colour that works for me and will make some.

There is no winner of the paper piecing pattern as there were no entrants.

Look in the left margin for the link for my contest to win a pair of really warm Red Canada Olympic mittens.  These are the same ones that our torch bearers have been wearing during the 100 days + that they have been carrying the Olympic torch across Canada.  International entries encouraged.  Over 1 million pairs of these mittens have been sold raising over 4 million dollars to support our athletes.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Needlework Tuesday

Ever get tired of working on old projects?  Recently I have been looking through that magazine I told you about last week, Quiltmaker's 100 Quilt Blocks.  I really like # 97 'Wild Blue Yonder.  I remembered some samples of floral fabrics that had been sitting on the floor of my quilt room for the better part of 10 years.  I figured I would find them and cut out a block and sew it up.  By the time I was finished cutting, I had enough darks for 14 blocks and lights for 8 blocks.   The first picture shows one quarter of the block.  Pretty straight forward piecing.  Rectangles and triangles.
Second picture shows the completed 12 inch block.  I have to admit that I rather like this one.  More blocks to be made  though I will have to purchase some similar light florals.  Don't know how many blocks I'll make, we'll see what happens.

The designer of this block is Scott Murkin of Patchwork Possibilities.  Here's the link to his photo album.

I have finally finished everything on the ABC quilt.  It is titled 'Lilybet' since it is for Lily.  Size is 70 x 81 inches, Hobbs Polydown batting, flannelette on the back.  Machine quilted.  In the next picture you can see a bit of the quilting detail.  I kept it simple as I had no other idea of how to finish it and I didn't want to detract from the embroidered letters. I did end up quilting free form around all the letters and it made a big improvement.  Can't wait to give it to Lily and her mom.  There is even a label on the back that gives her mom credit for the embroidered letters.
I didn't work on my Bernat Knit along project this week.  they did post instructions for how to arrange your blocks and how to stitch them together.  I will have to get moving and finish the final two blocks.  I do think i need to block the knitting as they aren't all the same size.  That will delay me a bit, but I really does need to be done.

the Olympic start on friday and I don't know how the will affect me.  Will probably get a bunch more knitting done. Still have one more scarf planned (2 yet to finish mending in ends and show you) and then on to a different afghan.

Remember, you still have to midnight to enter my two contest: 1) the 4 fabric pillow panels, 2) the paper piecing pattern

also you have another week to enter the contest for the Red Canada Olympic Mittens.  Look for the link on the left side bar.

Click the 'Finished for Friday' and see who else has finished a project this week.  Could be needlework, a book, or some other project that has sat unfinished for much too long.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Contest: Those Red, Canada Olympic Mittens: The hottest commodity in the Country

Were you able to get yours?  I'm talking about the hottest item in town. Those red Olympic mittens that every Canadian is trying to lay their hands on (ok, maybe not every single person).  I had been trying to get them since November, but they were selling out faster than Tim Horton's coffee. 
By the beginning of January over 1 million pairs had been sold.  Of the $10.00 price, $4.00 goes directly toward supporting Canadian athletes.  Finally there were more in the stores and I was able to purchase 4 pairs last weekend.  I was skeptical that they would be warm enough, but they are thick and have some sort of warm fuzzy lining.  I have been wearing mine all week and will be wearing them indoors as I watch the various competitions.  I think it might make knitting a little more difficult.
Yesterday I was at the postal outlet mailing a pair of them to a friend in New Zealand. When the employeed asked the contents of the package, so she could complete the customs declaration,  I proudly stated 'Mittens'.  She asked if they were the Olympic ones and proceeded to tell me that she has had lots of people in mailing those mittens all over the world.  Cool.  and I thought I was the only strange person mailing mittens to a place where it is summer right now. 

As soon as I find my address book, I'll be mailing another pair, this time to Australia.

As I have been typing this, I have decided to have another little contest.  This one is open to a follower of this blog who does not live in Canada.  To gain extra entries
1) blog about this contest
2) Tell about this contest elsewhere, twitter etc.
3) Show me a picture of the gear that your country will be wearing when they compete in Canada in the next few weeks.   email picture to heatherdpear @ hotmail dot com

Leave one comment with all your entry information.
** Special, If you live in Canada and want to join the fun, you can enter (become a follower) and have me send the mitts to someone else (international).

You have 4 chances to gain entries.  There are 27 followers of my blog.  When I hit 50 followers I will buy a second pair of mitts.  The Olympics start friday, and I will draw for a winner(s) on February 19.

My sister has posted additional pictures of these mittens on her site 'Give away a Dollar A Day'

Check out my other contests that are closing on Tuesday February 9

Win a 'Spinning Squares' paper pieced quilt pattern (gently used)
Win 4 fabric pillow panels.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Knit a cosy for a bridge

That's exactly what Sue Sturdy of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada wants to do.  She wants volunteers to knit pieces of yarn until she has enough to blanket a bridge in that city.  She already has over one hundred volunteers.

She hopes to have the blanket on the bridge sometime this summer.  After the exhibit the blanket will be removed, sections taken apart, washed and then make into scarfs and smaller blankets to be distributed where needed.

I know you think I'm joking, so check the article in my local paper.  Sue Sturdy wants to make a cosy for a bridge.

I don't have a contact for Sue at this time, but will check with the newspaper and will post when I have found one.

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays - People of the Buffalo: How the Plains Indians Lived by Maria Campbell

This  1975 children's book is a good introduction to the life of the various Indian tribes living in the short-grass areas and the prairie.  Ms. Campbell covers many aspects of daily life: respect for territory, music, beliefs, ceremonial smoking, housing, food, clothing etc.  She felt that the book had to include physical as well as spiritual needs to be complete:

"It was not possible for Indians to separate their life as people do today into different categories such as work, play, relgion and art.  To them, every part of life and all forms of life made up 'the whole'.  To ignore one part was to lessen, even destroy one's self."

The book is heavily illustrated with line drawings by Douglas Tait and Shannon Twofeathers.  Douglas also illustrated 'Mouse Woman and the Mischief Makers' by Christie Harris.

Native Wiki has a comprehensive biography of Maria Campbell.

I searched widely to try and find a biography for Shannon Two Feathers, but was unsucessful.  I am assuming that he is the same person that I found touted as a Legendary Aboriginal Musician who passed away in 1980 and was inducted into the Manitoba Aboriginal Music Hall of Fame, but can't confirm this.  If you have additional information on Shannon Two Feathers, leave a comment with details.  Thanks.

At the Spirit Wrestler Gallery I found pictures of grass baskets decorated with quills similar to the ones described in the book.

Teddy Rose has also posted a review at 'So Many Precious Books So Little Time'

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Life after Genius by M. Ann Jacoby

Mead is a genius and at the age of 18 is about to present a solution to an age old mathematical problem and then graduate from University, instead  he finds himself on a bus headed home.  He intends to follow in the footsteps of his father and sell furniture and funerals.  Only problem being that Mead is not a people person.

Throughout his grade school years Mead was subjected to many forms of bullying and at times it seemed his only safety net was his older cousin Percy.  Both boys are looking for a way out of their small town existence and the lives their parents have planned for them.

I really enjoyed this story.  It occurs to me that in general one would assume that a genius has it made.  That all he has to do is study, give the correct answers and a wonderful life will be presented to him.  As Mead finds out, it doesn't happen that way.  He had kept himself sheltered within his studies, but when he leaves campus for the last time, he realizes that he can't survive by hiding in an academic cocoon.  He has to live in the real world and interact with others if he hopes to succeed.

M. Ann Jacoby has based this story on events from her father's life.  She does plan a second book that looks to her mother for inspiration.

I won this book from a blog contest sponsored by Hachette Books.

Read Ellie's review at Stone Meadow Book Reviews

Recipe Thursday - Donair Buns

With cold weather upon us, it's time to move to comfort food.  Each of us has our own food that fills this need.  My kids loved this dish from the first time I made it.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly and that didn't seem to matter.  This 2005 cookbook is still available from Company's Coming

While researching this book, I read that Jean Pare, founder of the company, had recently donated her personal collection of over 6,000 cookbooks to the Culinary archives at the University of Guelph's Library.

Donair Buns

Meat Roll

1/2 lb lean ground pork
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup find dry bread crumbs
2 tsps dried parsley flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/16 tsp cayenne peper

Mix all ingredients together.  Shape into an 11 inch long roll.  Place this on a greased wire rack and place over a baking sheet.  Cover with a layer of foil, leaving the bottom of the loaf uncovered.  Bake in 275 F  oven for about 3 hours.  Remove from oven and wrap loaf in foil and let sit for 15 minutes.  Slice diagonally in 1/4 slices.

Donair Sauce

1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
1/3 cup light mayonnaise (not that white salad dressing spread)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dill weed

Combine these 4 ingredients in a small bowl.

Sandwich toppings

diced red onion
torn lettuce
chopped tomato

To assemble sandwich

The recipe suggests hamburger or hot dog buns, but you can be traditional and use Greek style pita breads.  Spread sauce on the bread, sprinkle with onions, lettuce and tomato.  Add a few slices of the meat and then additional sauce if desired.  Cover with top of bun, or fold pita.  You can wrap this in a square of waxed paper to keep the filling from dropping out the bottom, that's how they do it in the Greek restaurants.

I usually double the meat recipe.  Since the oven is going to be on anyway, might as well make several meals worth.  Left over meat should freeze well, but I wouldn't know since it gets eaten the next day.  This is an easy meal to make as long as you don't mind sticking your hands in the meat mixture.  I don't have a cookie sheet with sides, so I balance my wire rack on top of my cake pan.  Fat will leak out of the meatloaf as it is cooking and you must have something under the rack to catch the drips. 

Its sad to say that I haven't made anything else out of this cookbook.  I was browsing through it and came across several more recipes that I want to try.  Too many cookbooks and too little time to try them all. 

Be sure to visit Beth Fish's 'Weekend Cooking' page and you can check out other readers favourite foods and food related entries.

Don't - Miss Books to Read in February

I was visiting over at 'Beth Fish Reads'  this morning and she has a post of the books she is planning to read this month.  I think thats a great way to try and warm up our chilly weather, so I am going to follow suit.

Non-Fiction Titles
Unbound: This is the true story of 30 women who in 1934 survived the brutal 4,000 mile trek along with 86,000 Chinese Communist Army troops (of which only 10,000 survived). 

Who Owns the World: An accounting of land ownership around the globe.

Fictional Reads:

Christmas at Wapos Bay:  City raised kids are visiting their Grandfather at his remote cabin for the Christmas holidays.  They decide to surprise everyone by going hunting on their own.

Blood Sports:  This is thestory of two cousins caught in the world of drugs and crime. Set in the seedy areas of Vancouver's Downtown East Side.

Case Histories:  A private detective beings investing three cases that reach back 30 years.

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter:  Can three women set aside their differences and work together to win the world's biggest craft competition.

The Gate House: The past never stays buried and your ex doesn't remain that way especially when the mafia is involved.

lullabies for little criminals: 13 year on Baby is on the cusp of woman hood and her heroin addicted father in unable to protect her from the local pimp who wants to add her to his group of girls.  How is Baby to escape???

Storm Front: Harry Dresden is a Wizard and the Chicago PD have hired him to help with a case.  Black magic is involved...

What books do you have lined up to read in February?  Have you read any of the above and posted a review?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrision

Its 40 years since 'the Turn' and humanity's very survival is dependent on help from the various species of the Inderland.

Rachel Morgan is a white witch who lives in a church in Cincy with Ivy, her vampire friend, Jenk, a pixie, and Bis, a young gargoyle.  She is also a student to a demon named Al.

Rachel seems to be one of those people who inadvertantly is always getting herself into sticky situations that require complex solutions.  Fortunately she has a number of dear friends who are willing and capable of helping.  The fact that they include a living vampire, a pixie and a dead witch who has a replacement body makes the story all the more interesting.

Rachel never did anything to get herself in trouble, it just came looking for her in the form of the ruling members of the coven of moral and ethical standards (the supposedly good white witches).  Not satisfied with shunning her, they want her imprisoned and much worse.  Sorry, can't tell you the details, don't want to spoil the tale.  This story all takes place within the course of several days.  It is constant non-stop action.  There is no sitting around socially over a cup of tea, rather there is scheming, back stabbing, curses and spells.  Everything needed for a good, wicked read.

This book is actually the 8th book in the Hallows Series.  It took me several pages to figure out who everyone is and what their relations to Rachel, but not reading the earlier books didn't diminish my enjoyment of this book.  I had met several of the characters earlier when I read 'Unbound'.  It contains a short story by Kim Harrison about Jenks, the pixie.  I hadn't met Pierce in that story.  He is Al's familiar and thus well known to Rachel, and he's quite the hunk...

I was about half way through this book, enjoying it immensely, when  I stopped to order the first 4 books in the series, and then continued reading.  I'm looking forward to starting this series at the beginning and finding the answers to a number of interesting situations that have been alluded to in this book.

Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me this advance copy of the book and for the cover picture posted above.

Darla's review at Books & other thoughts

The Book Guru's review

Give Away a Dollar A Day

I want to introduce you to my sister Nancy.   Thats the two of us at the start of the Calgary half Marathon July 2008.  We ran together the whole way.

She has started a year long blog to record where and how she gives away money.  Yes, thats what I said, she is giving away a dollar every day of this year.

Please go and visit her blog and read more about the project and where she heard about it.  perhaps you'll find one of her dollars???

ps. please leave her a comment of encouragement. Thanks.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Needlework Tuesday and a Contest

Last week I received a package in the mail from Scott Hansen over at 'Blue Nickel Studios'.  Included were fabrics from a layer cake called Birdie by Me and My sister designs.  Scott designed one of the '100 Blocks' in the magazine and sponsored a contest at his blog when the magazine hit the stands.  There were a few other inspirational items in the envelope including an actual blue nickel.  Thanks Scott.

I promised this week that I would show you block 7 and block 8 from the Bernat Knit Along

The green block (yes, it really is a deep forest green) is filled with lovely cables.  This was the most fun to do.  I love the challenge of blocks like this.  In fact, I think I need to make an actual sweater (oh stop me someone, I don't need to start another new project).
The cream block is number 8 and the final one in the series.  I still have to knit two more of these, one in burgandy and one in the green.  The next update on the Bernat site will be how to stitch the blocks together.  Yippee.

I did get a bunch of sewing in last week as well. Quite a while back I won a pillow kit  from Purrfect Pastimes. ( the pattern is now shown at her new site Cotton Novelty Fabrics) It was supposed to make the front of the pillow and maybe enough for the back.  I really didn't want a pillow, or rather my daughter didn't want a pillow.  So with very careful calculations and cutting I had enough fabric to make 4 -12 inch blocks.  The pattern was designed for paper piecing, but I measured and cut correct size pieces and madeit by regular machine piecing.
My daughter is most pleased with the results.  Has her perfect Halloween colours and it features penguins.  She couldn't ask for more.  Well, she wants it larger.  So my mother is going to add a border and return it to me.  Then I'll add a further border and that should make it large enough for a lap quilt.  I had to manipulate the blocks to get the tiny penguins all in the centre of the blocks.  it looked funny when it was the largers penguins clustered there.
I did those orange corners using the stitch and flip methods and had 64 half square triangle blocks left over.  I trimmed them to 1 3/8th inch squares and put together this miniature block.  It only about 8 inches on a side. Yes, 128 pieces in an 8 inch square. It will be titled 'Halloween Barn' since it's in the log cabin barn raising form.  I think that it needs 2 narrow borders???

Now for the contest part.  I am finished with the pattern and would like to pass it along to another quilter who would enjoy it.   The pages are all there for paper piecing one block.  Also my calculations of cutting size for regular piecing.  Any follower of my blog is eligible to win.  International welcome.  Please note, there is no fabric in the pattern.  I will draw a winner next Tuesday from any comments that are left.