Friday, 30 November 2012

First Nations Friday: Baseball Bats for Christmas by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak

 Baseball Bats for Christmas is unlike any Christmas story I have read before.  It is set in Canada's far north in the community of Repulse Bay, which is situated on the Arctic Circle.  Time, 1955.

Christmas in Repulse Bay is celebrate in church with family and friends.  Gifts are not bought, they are given from the heart.  Supplies that can't be found on the land or sea, are flown in by the Hudson's Bay Company.  This year, the pilot brought six trees, which the children had never seen before.  Trees don't grow this far north and they wondered what they were for.  Read the story and follow the children as they find a use for the trees.

The story is suggested for ages 4-8.  Each page has one to several paragraphs and is accompanied by colourful illustrations by artist  Vladyana Krykorka.

This book would be a wonderful addition to your Christmas reading, even if you no longer have little ones in the house.

Visit author Michael Kusugak's website and learn more about him and his works.

Also by Michael Kusugak:

The Curse of the Shaman: A Marble Island Story

This book is reviewed as part of the 6th Canadian Book Challenge, hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.  Visits John's site  for links to reviews of 100's of  additional titles by Canadian authors.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Needlework Tuesday - A Quilting Weekend

I love when Tuesday arrives and I have a chance to share my recent projects.  I invite my visitors to share links to their current needlework posts.  I find it very encouraging to see and read about your projects.
This past week was a very productive one.  I stitched to my hearts content and then on Friday I picked up my mom and brought her toy house and then again we stitched and stitched.  We ran out of planned projects and had to dig around for more. 

Last week I showed you tiger parts.  He went together very well and is cute as can be.  He does have a tail but he's very shy and it is hiding.  He also has little friend.  He is a bunny nugget, designed by Rebecca Danger.
I see a whole bunch more of these little bunnies in my future.  You can easily adjust their size by using different gauges of yarn .

Next up, were knitted wash clothes.  I was surprised at how fast these knit up.  They are made with worsted weight cotton.  After knitting they are a very funny bowl shape, which the pattern warned me about, though it did assure me that they were very easy to block.

As you can see, they did indeed block well.  Am looking forward to trying a few more of these.  These patterns are by Megan Goodacre.

Over the past year, I have been cutting strips for a jelly roll quilt.  Mom had hers ready months ago, we were just waiting for a time we could get together.  Since these quilts are being birthed on the same day, they will be fraternal twins.  Mom's with a Christmas theme, and mine more of an autumn one.

Mom's quilt.

My quilt.

The other week, I went on a shop hop with the ladies in my bee.  At each shop we were given a bit of fabric.  At the final shop, more fabric and a mystery pattern.  While mom was sewing gift bags on Monday, I was sewing up my project.  This little tree measures 20 inches square.  I fused the hexagons instead of using English paper piecing as suggested.  It is still in need of more quilting in the background and then binding.  Will show another photo when it's all done and hanging.

In the midst of all these projects, we sewed over a dozen gift bags.  Be sure to return next week for a contest to win a gift bag.  These are made of good quality twills and will stand up to daily use.  I also laid out and pin basted a lap quilt and a table runner.  Had to do those first and then I could use the left over batting for the little tree quilt.  It would have been aweful if I had cut out that 20 inch square and then not had enough for one of the other projects.  oops. 
I have also been knitting with Bernat Baby Jacquards Florals yarn in Orange Blossom.  I haven't included a photo as it looks kind of funny at this point.  I will buy some stuffing and have a photo next week.  I just might have to purchase another skein in a different colour.  Two nieces and I haven't heard of kids willingly sharing new toys.
I love to hear what you have been stitching this past week.  Leave a comment , better yet, leave a link to your current post, and I'll be sure to come visit and leave a comment and encouragement if required.

Be sure to pop over and visit at Lit and Laundry, the Christmas Cookie Quilt is gorgeous.  I haven't seen anything like it.  

Friday, 23 November 2012

Deadly Slipper by Michelle Wan

Deadly Slipper: A Novel Of Death In The DordogneI'm not sure where I came across this author, though it might have been in my local paper since Ms. Wan lives in Guelph, Ontario, which is the next town east from here.  As I was sending an email to a friend who loves orchids, I thought that if I am willing to suggest this book and author to her, then I should be willing to read it myself.  I immediately requested it from my library.  I'm glad I did, at it was a very enjoyable and informative read.

The story is set in the Dordogne region in the south west of France, where Mara Dunn is trying to find out what happened to her twin sister, Bedie, who disappreared nineteen years earlier.  While it is definitely a long shot, Mara needs to get on with her life, and knowing what really happened to her sister will let her do that. 

Recently, she found a loaded camera that she is convinced was owned by her sister, and has had the deteriorated film processed and prints made.  She has travelled to the Dordogne area to consult with orchid expert Julian Wood  to see if he is able to identify the locations shown in the photos.  The police have already told Mara that there is not enough identifying features in the photos, but she is determined to learn the truth.

Julian feels there is no chance of finding where these photos were taken, let alone finding Bedie, but he is fascinated with the final photo. The extremely rare Cyripedium, Lady's Slipper, could not be growing in this area, yet there it is, clearly photographed.  If only he could find it....

The descriptions of the Dordogne are were so vivid, I almost felt as though I had been there.  It's not an area I knew anything about, but now would be happy to travel there and search for wild orchid, walking the same trails as Mara and Bedie(skip the death part though).  That is, after I get back from the shop where I want to buy myself some potted orchids.  Since reading this novel, I have been looking in the stores for a colour and shape of orchid that appeals to me. 

Food is a significant part of this book.  Several times, the main characters meet in pubs/cafes to discuss how to find the locations in the photos.  The descriptions of the other diners and Julian's mates are quite realistic.   Dog lovers are not left out of this story.  There are few that recur in the story and further the plot.

Early on, I thought that I had figured out who killed Bedie, but subsequent evidence was presented, that had me doubting myself.  I was ready to convict the wrong party.  Then sure enough, further activities brought me back around to my original suspicions, though for different reasons.  I was totally caught off guard by some of the revelations in the conclusion.

Deadly Slipper is the first book in a four part series.  I do plan to read more about orchids in the Dordogne region of France.

Titles in this Series:

Deadly Slipper
The Orchid Shroud
A Twist of Orchids
Kill for an Orchid

Website of author Michelle Wan

Also reviewed by:

John  at The Book Mine Set

Thank-you to for use of the cover image.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Redshirts by John Scalzi

John Scalzi Redshirts
Redshirts was the November selection for my local book club. All of the members who read the book agreed that it was very funny and entertaining. We were all glad that we had read it.  It did help that all of us are fans of the Star Trek shows, though that is not required for one to read and enjoy this book.

 I will admit, that I was the only member who did not make the connection of the title, RedShirts, with what was happening in the story.  It seems, that in the first series, Star Trek,  that when a crew member was killed on an away mission, they inevitably had a low level ranking and thus wore a red shirt. 

The Intrepid is the flagship of the Universal Union.  It's crew, with the exception of the captain and his 4 supporting officers, know that something is wrong, that a crew member will die every time there is an away mission led by one of the 'five'.  They do whatever they can to avoid an away mission the captain or any of the other four.  This being said, no one is attempting to do anything about this situation until red shirt wearer Ensign Andrew Dahl is assigned to the Intrepid.  Fortunately for the rest of the crew, he is not willing to accept the status quo and seeks an explanation and a solution to these untimely deaths.

It seemed natural to me that the five new crew members: Dahl, Duvall, Hanson, Finn and Hester, would band together.  They were assigned to the Intrepid at the same time, and waited in the same departure lounge for hours awaiting their transport.   This quick camaraderie continued once they were aboard the Intrepid as they all noticed that something was amiss.

During our book club meeting, we had an interesting discussion but we kept getting drawn off track by talk of our favourite Star Trek spin off and by particular episode plot lines.  My new term for the day was 'Treknology', having to do with the futurist technology used during the various shows, particularly the tricorder.   The best example of this in the book, is 'The Box' which is only used during times of extraordinary difficulty, when an improbable solution is needed in an impossibly short period of time.  For an explanation of how it works, you will have to read RedShirts.

Visit Two Canadian Readers for a few comments on this book by another member of my book club.

Author John Scalzi's website

Thanks to MacMillan for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Needlework Tuesday - Tiger Pieces Abound

Stitching up a storm in the past week, mostly with the knitting needles.  I really wanted to get one project finishes as I keep finding new ones that are so very appealing.  As for the Tiger pieces, well, very vegetarian I assure you.
First, a project that my mother has been stitching away at.  Quite a while back, she brought home a project in a bag that a previous member of her guild had stopped working on.  Don't know the details there, but mom decided to adopt it.  A few weeks ago, she pulled out all the pieces and we discussed what needed doing.  She then spent days cutting bits apart, sorting them and re-sewing.  More cutting and sewing and finally a top emerged.

Pattern from Australian Patchwork and Quilting: Showcase Quilts. 
 Japanese Circles by Joy White
Mom will be taking the finsihed top back to the guild and another member will quilt and bind.  It will then be donated to a childrens' charity.

A few weeks ago I introduced you to a scarf that I was making for my son.  Refer to this post for pattern details of the Croak Scarf.  Here's what the scarf looks like straight on.

This is what it looks like from an angle.  I have no doubt that son will be amused. has been sending weekly emails with a Christmas project.  The most recent one was for a tiger ornament.  hmm, what the heck does a need have to do with Christmas? Still trying to figure that one.  As I thought about it, I realized that I would have to make at least one of the little guys.  My nephew Alex, who passed away last year, has a stuffed tiger when he waslittle, that he adored.  That was a good enough reason to get me stitching.  When it's finished, I'll take it to my sister's and place it beside his urn along with the sprinkle donut that I crocheted for him last Christmas.  Pattern link for Tracy the Tiger Ornament.  Next week I'll have a pic of the finished  assembled ornament.
Now my curiousity has been aroused.  Do you have any unusual ornaments either for your tree or around your house that have special meaning to you?  Please share you story in the comment section.  Better yet, leave a comment and send me a photo that I can add to next week's post.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Needlework Tuesday - A small project

Small projects are always a hit here at Needlework Tuesday.  It usually means I can finish something shortly after starting it.  Far too often, my projects drag on for months and some even years (ok, many of them stretch out over several years).  When Deanna at Wedding Dress Blue told me that she was going to write about small projects this week, I thought it would be a good chance to work on one that has been niggling in the back of mind for ages. 

Last year, Anya at Hills Creek Quilter, show a lovely tea wallet that she had made.  I printed the tutorial right away  ( here for the tutorial)
 but didn't get around to making it.  I thought it would be perfect for my mother.  She enjoys her tea, but not the caffine that more restaurants serve, so she brings her own bag, but carries it in a plastic baggie.  Well, no more, now she has her own lovely tea wallet.

I have supplies to make lots more of these beauties, though in different fabrics of course.  And no, I haven't made one for myself yet.

do you have a small and easy project that you are making ?  Leave a comment with a link to your post or to the project instructions. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Weekend Cooking - A visit to the Icecream shop

Amazing mural. That's my nephew Benn, my mom Elaine, and my Aunt Sandra.


 Did you want to have your own icecream shop when you were a child?  I certainly did,  though I have not actually acted upon that wish.  My cousin and her husband did.  A few years back they made the big leap and are now scooping icecream every day.  Join me while we visit Ricky's Big Scoop for cones and bowls of fresh made soup and garlic bread.

The shop is located on Front Street, in Thorald, Ontario.  Easy to find and lots of free parking in the vicinity.  My parents have been visiting the shop since it opened, but this was my first visit.  Too bad we live so far apart or I'd be a regular.

This is Ricky

Full menu.  Ricky makes his own gelato.  Comes in regular, sugar-free and dairy-free versions.  I had some dairy enzyme with me that day, so I enjoyed a dairy version of gelato.  Excellent.

 After icecream, it was time to eat. yes, my mom was with me d she was all for eating dessert first. Chicken dumpling soup with fresh baked garlic bread.  Ricky bakes bread 2-3 times a day, depending on demand.  After eating the garlic bread, I can understand the demand.  I am not big on bread, but this was delicious.

My regular readers might recall that I crocheted and knitted these icecream cones for my cousin's bridal shower.

Want to learn more about Ricky's Big Scoop, visit his website where you can "like" him on Facebook or get his twitter feed.  Even though I don't visit often, I love getting daily notices of which soup is available, daily specials and new icecream and gelato flavours.  An app is also available for Playbook users.

Did I fail to mention the giant Poutine challenge? 
For further foodie fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking meme.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Highland Rebel by Judith James

Every now and then I need a book that is a total break from life around me.  A trip back to the late 17th century England, during the short reign of King James, suited me fine.

Jamie Sinclair works for the King, as he did King Charles II before him.  While he serves as a mercenary, he also collects information from a variety of sources (read spies) which he then shares/disseminates as he sees fit.  When in Scotland overseeing some of James troops, he witnesses the not unusual rough treatment of a prisoner. Realizing that the it's a woman, he knows her fate will be unkind, and he steps in to protect her.  For some un-explicable reason, he determines that the best way to protect her is to marry her on the spot.  He doesn't even know who she is, though he suspects she is a camp follower, yet he tells the troops that she is a heiress who could be ransomed back to her wealthy family.

Catherine Drummond was out to save her mis-guided younger brother.  Unwittingly she is separated from her clan during a skirmish. She knows what her fate will be as a female prisoner of war, but she is not prepared  nor accepting that this huge English man actually wants to help her.

That's about all I can tell you without giving away too much.  Tempting isn't it.

Interesting time in British history.  Catholics versus Protestants.  Not only did this divide communities, but it also families.  Charles II being Protestant and his successor and brother James being Catholic.  To swear fealty to one king and then months or years later, swearing to uphold the next, often meant a change in religion.  Jamie had to find a way to deal with this if he wanted to continue to support himself.

I was most interested in the discussion of the coffee houses that proliferated across the London.  I had heard of them, but not an explanation of how they fit in with society.  They were widely referred to as 'Penny Universities', a penny being the cost of admission.  Once inside, social class was irrelevant when it came to discussion.  All present were welcome to join in  whether he be a titled man or a street vendor.  Fascinating.

I thoroughly enjoyed this diverting story.  It introduced me to a period in history that I know very little about.  I really must learn more about these social class crossing coffee houses.

Other books by Judith James:

Broken Wing

Cover image courtesy Sourcebooks

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Thank-you authors, your stories have such power

Dear Authors,
Thank-you so much for sharing your stories.  They have brought great comfort to me and my family, especially during the past few months.

Over the past year my father battled Multiple Myeloma.  It is a relatively rare cancer of the blood.  One side effect of the treatments was that he developed severe nerve pain in his legs.  Prescribed pain killers did nothing to lessen this pain.  There were only two things that helped: Tylenol Arthitis and reading.  In the final months of his life, he would often sit up all night in pain, a book for company.  Page after page, hour after hour, he would read.  He would get so caught up in your stories that he would be able to forget the pain for minutes at a time.  Before he knew it, it would be morning and another five or six hundred page book would be finished.  Yes, the pain would come back, but at least he had escaped it for a little while.

Once again, thank-you for sharing your stories and providing such comfort to my dad.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Needlework Tuesday - Finishes always feel Terrific

Thank-you for joining me for my regular weekly needlework feature.  Each week, I find myself working on a variety of needlework projects.  I am always thrilled when I finish one of them and it's a true bonus, when I finish two in one week.  This happens to be one of those special weeks.

Years ago, too amuse my kids one day, they asked me to sew together some squares and make them a tic-tac-toe board.  Don't know if they every used it,  but it did amuse them that day.  I found it on the weekend, and decided to re-work it.  I spritzed it with water and went to press it.  The border fabric shrank like crazy.  At this point, i decided it would be best to take it apart.  The border fabric had shrunk about 1 inch over it's 18 or 19 inch length.  eeks.  I added  3 more square and a new border.

Next it was time to get out my Lil' Twister Tool from CS designs and start cutting.  Before cutting, this piece measured 24x19 inches.  After cutting and re-sewing, it measured 15 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches.

Borders need to be added to the left and right sides. 

You might think there is a lot of waste, but after cutting squares and triangles using my Marti Michelle templates, all that is scrap is that little pile on the left hand side.

Finished place mat will be donated to Meals on Wheels through my local quilt guild.
 I have been working on a pair of socks for hubby. except for grafting the one toe, they are finished. They are stitches with a Mary Maxim wool called 'Simply Sock Yarn'. I came really close on the amount of wool; there were just a few metres left.

Now that the serious sock business is done, time for fun.  Last year author Gina Damico published her book Croak.  This inspired her to design a scarf to accompany the story.  I just had to make it an at the same time learn this new-to-me illusion technique.  First photo shows the motif area of the scarf straight on.

at a slight angle.

At an exaggerated angle. 
This is going to be a fun scarf to create. Croak  pattern can be found at Lion Brand Yarn.
Hope you enjoyed my 'finished projects' as much as I enjoyed finishing them.  did you finish a project this week?  Congratulations, I know how good it feels. Will be back next week with scarf progress and more quilting.