Sunday, May 26, 2013

Getting my hands dirty

Last year I bought way too many plants for my planters and several disappeared under the more hardy ones never to be seen again. This year I really held back, so for now my container gardens are looking pretty sparse.

But there are a few petunias in each box, and I know from last year those are rigorous growers. While I was contemplating the plant below in the greenhouse, a woman was suddenly at my side saying how it's her favourite flowering plant. Nope, she wasn't staff. Just a real enthusiast for these particular blooms.

The firework-like blooms are lantana. I also got purple and pink petunias, and white verbena and geraniums.

This year I added two herb gardens. One container is dedicated to mint with three varieties. I've been cooking a number of dishes lately with fresh mint and thought it would be nice to have sprigs ready whenever needed. The other pot has lemon thyme, basil and curry, which has an amazing aroma that makes me want to rush out for a curry dinner.

Next I need to hang the bunting around my front porch to get into full fair-weather mode.

Grizelda's kitchen

Since I love both crafting and eating, I figured why not add my kitchen adventures to my blog. I try new recipes pretty regularly and already pass along the keepers to friends and family, so why not put it here? A lot of recipes I find online, making them easy to share.

Yesterday for lunch I made this spicy Indian vegetable soup I found on Meet Me At Mikes, which is a great crafty/cuisine combo blog. The soup's super easy, tasty and satisfying. Plus you probably have all the ingredients in your cupboard already. I used a cup less of broth and an extra carrot, so mine bordered on being more of a stew. Oh, and spicy paprika because that's what I have.

I served it with heated naan and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top. I had to stop myself from going back for a third scoop. (I may have sampled some cold soup while setting up this picture and it's just as good!)

I spotted this recipe during my blog surfing last night for hot and cheesy caramelized corn dip that I'm going to have to try soon.

Looking for a tasty new breakfast? I've been obsessed with Smitten Kitchen's spinach and smashed egg toast since she posted the recipe. It's my new favourite way to make eggs for just about every breakfast dish.

(For those wondering who is Grizelda, check out the brilliance of Hilarious House of Frightenstein and Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet.)

Sunday, May 19, 2013


This blog should really be called "stuff I make infrequently." I am working on a few things, but not seeming to get a lot finished. (I've tried a number of new recipes in recent weeks - does that count? Please let that count. Ah, who am I kidding - even this blog post is a cheat.)

Anyway ... I'm plugging away on my cross stitch Bill Murray when I feel like a relaxing evening of crafting in front of the television. The pattern is deceptive - it looks small, but it's got massive solid patches of crosses.

Slowly but surely I am working through my stack of Hawaiian fabric cut for napkins. Last night I whipped up this pair for a present.

I think I'm getting faster because these two were done in a snap. Or maybe it only seemed that way because I was listening to a favourite podcast to distract me from the tedious measuring and ironing for the mitered corners.

At the Creativ Festival earlier this spring, I picked up two kits to make wonderfully soft rag quilts. The first step is making the sandwiches of batting inside two flannel squares. Charm packs made the tasks much easier, leaving only the batting to cut into squares.

The sandwiches are stacked neatly on my work table, ready for the sewing machine. Which is where I should be and not fooling around on the computer.

Sheep to shawl

A few weekends ago the Kitchener living history museum Joseph Schneider Haus put on a sheep to shawl competition, drawing the local weavers' and spinners' guild and two other in the area to make a wearable shawl starting from a fleece. The teams had four hours to card, spin and weave.

Seeing the teams in action was interesting - they were working diligently and quickly, but still chatting and having a nice afternoon. I like to think that's how it was in circa 1816, the period the museum captures, when the women gathered with their walking wheels in the wash haus to spin the fleeces freshly sheared from the farm's sheep.

Alongside the sheep to shawl competition, museum staff were demonstrating parts of the process of turning fleece into fabric - colouring with natural dyes, spinning on the great wheel and picking the dirty bits from the fleece. This guy drew the short straw and was looking after the rather smelly and greasy fleece. I think he was relieved to sit back when a helper showed up.

Inside the wash haus, two women in period clothing were tending to the open hearth cooking - a warm job on a warm day. These dedicated people do everything in heavy woollen and cotton clothing from head to toe, even the gardening. That is almost more admirable and amazing than managing the endless farmstead chores. My air conditioned existence is so blissfully far removed from that time.


Fighting the urge to tuck away my lap quilt somewhere safe and pet hair-free, I put it on the back of my couch to admire. It has become the new favourite spot for the cats to sleep. Sigh. Even better than sleeping on the neatly folded quilt, they like to make it into a cozy tent to curl up under. Double sigh.

But how can I get angry at such a cute, and obviously very content kitty?