Wednesday, December 30, 2009


There is no gift to compare to the look on someone's face when you surprise them with a visit for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Choose to be glad

Knowing that this was my last day of work before Christmas, I tried really hard to keep smiling all day long even though most people that either came in or phoned were all complaining. The new system isn't working 100% and a lot of people do not like it and they told us in no uncertain terms. Some even complained about the building, the weather, and our collection. The complaints just kept coming and even the bowls of candy did not seem to help. But listening to all this negativity at this time of year can really make you wonder; is there nothing to be glad about?

Here are a few things I am glad about:
There is hardly any snow so the roads are clear.
Surprise visit from friends late last night.
The neighbour really enjoyed the christmas cake I made for him.
A dear friend dropped in today for a christmas hug.
My girls are together, they have two weeks off, and they will do some travelling.
If I want I can have seven days off.
The birds are feasting on the sunflower seeds.
We have our health, the pantry is full, and there is a bottle of wine under the tree.

Wishing everyone a peaceful christmas and all the best in 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Relaxing Sunday

Risotto may seem like a lot of work but as long as you have someone who is willing to dice up the bacon and finely chop an onion and grate a hunk of parmesan cheese, then it really is no work at all. This recipe called for a head of radicchio, finely shredded, and yes I did this myself. It also called for cream which I do not usually add to my risotto but did this time just because it is a new recipe. The verdict - I will be adding this recipe to my risotto collection.
Outside it is snowing and foggy and cold but inside we have apple blossoms. This is the first of my amaryllis to bloom and it looks just like the picture on the box. One down, six more to go.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Christmas box

There is nothing like the sound of footsteps by the front door, the soft 'plunk' of something being dropped and then the wooden squeak as the lid is closed on the mailbox. And this time of year there are always a few letters, cards and packages waiting for us every evening when we get home from work. Dinner comes second to the ritual of sitting on the couch, with the special letter opener, and slowly going through the pile of mail.

I found a large wooden box at my favourite junk store and turned it into our christmas box for all the cards, letters, and pictures that we get during the holidays. This box was in bad shape but with Valodya's help, I reglued the back and reinforced the hinges. After a coat of paint, I covered the top with paper and fabric and some of my favourite buttons and jewelry. Did the same to the front and back and sides.
I did not change anything about the inside of this special box. On the inside of the lid there is a frame and the inscription reads,'To Rose from Ed, Xmas 1937.' I am guessing that Ed's photo would have been diplayed in the frame, I chose one of my favourite cards to fill it. And as you can see this box is quickly filling with all the holiday greetings from around the world.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goodies and chocolates

Tomorrow is our Secret Santa potluck lunch so I decided to try two new recipes from Organic and Chic by Sarah Magid. I already have a great recipe for lemon squares ( Peri Wolfman's The perfect setting cookbook) but the one I tried is a recipe for lemon-lime bars. It sounded so healthy what with the whole wheat flour and wheat germ in the crust.

The other recipe I tried was for double ginger cookies. I like these cookies because they are vegan and they are also made with whole wheat flour, ground flaxseeds, and applesauce.

This is day 15 - Valodya stood out in the snow this morning to give our garbageman a box of chocolates to thank him for all the great work they do. What would we do without our garbage collectors?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Seven and fourteen

Over a month ago, I started seven amaryllis bulbs as I had never done this before. I went around to all my favourite food shops and picked out bulbs with names like Red Lion, Apple Blossom, Minerva, and my favourite Sydney which has a red and white striped flower. The one pictured above is over two feet tall but some of the others are only showing about an inch of green. They are all getting the same attention, they are all grouped together in the kitchen, and I am feeding and watering as per instructions. I'm hoping that Sydney will make it.
Bloody cold out today but I managed to go down the hill and pay a visit to my favourite junk store. Found two Ralph Lauren wallpaper books dated 2002 and 2005. The papers will make an excellent feature wall someday, somewhere.
And for day fourteen, we each popped in for a quick visit with our GP bearing boxes of chocolates.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Double Sunday

Felt bad about yesterday - was a workday for me and because it was so cold I got picked up instead of taking the bus. As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with the aroma of Valodya's version of Julia Child's beouf bourguignon. And it was good - not as salty as mine since I had used pancetta instead of just regular bacon. Then after dinner I spent over an hour on the phone with the girls and we had a great chat.
The movie for last night, after that wonderful dinner was Julie and Julia. Thoroughly enjoyed it the second time just like I did when we went to the theatre to see it.
So first thing this morning we paid a visit to our local firehall. We met one of the firefighters and we presented him with a cookie tin for everyone to share. Just our way of saying thank you for all the work they do. And because we missed yesterday's act of kindness, we also put a cookie tin into the food bank box at the grocery store.
So this afternoon as the wind howled, I decorated our small tree with some of my favourite ornaments and I didn't feel bad about yesterday anymore.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Act of kindness # 11

Still searching for my Secret Santa gift. Today I went to the Shabby Shack but had no luck finding anything vintage. I have one more shop to check tomorrow. Normally I don't go in for these kinds of things - buying gifts for co-workers but I thought I would try it this one time.
This year it's all about the giving - giving to those in need. The cheque is in the mail to our Hospital Foundation.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Act of kindness # 10

It took me two hours this evening to make a thank you card for work. I rough cut two pieces of fabric, stitched them together, and then embroidered a heart flower in the center. I cross-stitched all along the sides, sewed on some buttons, and wrote thank you on a fabric label. The fabric was then machine stitched onto a huge paper card.

It only took me a few minutes to wrap two pairs of warm flannel pajamas, decorate the gifts with lots of ribbons and bows, and donate them to the Women's Shelter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Act of kindness # 9

A very simple act - just to be nice - put a few extra coins into someone's expired parking meter.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An update and act of kindness # 8

Happy to report that the baby quilts that I donated to the hospital have already been given to two new Moms. And I am working on another baby quilt so hopefully by the new year I will have a couple more to donate.

Today I finally got new glasses. My old ones had a chip in one of the lenses, the colour had worn off the frames, and they were slightly crooked from being dropped so many times. Still had two old pairs of glasses from years ago so I donated them to my eye clinic - they collect them and send them off to Africa.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Act of kindness #7

It was so cold today, -17, that I did not want to venture out but I had a list of errands a mile long. So I bundled up and out I went but did not accomplish much of anything that was on my list. The main reason I went out was to get a Secret Santa gift but the gift that I wanted was no where to be found. I did come across some very delightful looking chocolate walnuts but I did not buy them.What I did do though was drop a donation into a Salvation Army kettle manned by a volunteer standing out in the freezing cold. I will not be complaining about the cold any more.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dinner and act of kindness # 6

I have seen the movie and now I am reading the book - I'm talking about Julie and Julia. I have been laughing so much as I'm reading that Valodya now wants to read it too. When you read this kind of book it just makes you want to get in the kitchen and start whipping up some Piselli alla Romana with Mezzi Canneroni. That is obviously not in the book but that is what I made for dinner. I bought some spicy pancetta yesterday at Fratellis and made the tomato sauce with lots of onions, garlic, parsley and a glass of Montepulciano. We licked the plates clean.Tomorrow I am going to attempt to make Boeuf Bourguignon, with Italian wine, of course.
As I was shopping for my favourite fruits - persimmon and pomegrante - I picked up some baby food to donate to the Food Bank. I wandered around the store for awhile searching for the baby food aisle - I finally had to ask someone. Instead of buying jarred food, I picked out a variety of meals in a bowl, some cereal and lots of cookie snacks. It's sad to think that more people with children are using the food bank. Act of kindness # 6 may have to be repeated a few more times.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Act of kindness # 5

I had not been to the maternity ward since I gave birth to TG and that was quite a long time ago. The hospital has undergone major renovations and even though there are signs everywhere I still had to ask as I got on the elevator to make sure I was headed in the right direction.
I made these two baby quilts last year and they have been offered for sale at the store on Victoria and at numerous craft fairs. So, as my fifth act of kindness, I donated them to the hospital, stipulating that they must go to someone who does not have much for their newborn.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Act of kindness # 4

Someone did the unthinkable but nowadays I guess it's not too surprising. Quite a bit of money was stolen from the Hospice Society. And every bit of it is essential as they need forty thousand dollars a month just to keep the doors open. When we heard the bad news, we knew that for our fourth act of kindness we would donate to the Hospice Society.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Act of kindness #3

I remember one Christmas when the girls were home, we did quite a bit of baking. We gave some to the neighbours and some to our friends. The rest of it we packaged up and took it downtown to the New Life Mission.
This year, as our third act of kindness, we are again donating to the Mission. Our cheque will help feed eight people.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Act of kindness # 2

Four years ago this past May, our beloved cat, Carly, died suddenly. Yes, she was thirteen years old but she always seemed in good health and only went to the vet when she got into a scrap with another cat. Maura adopted her from the SPCA so it was really her pet.
For our second act of kindness, we donated our old sleeping bags (we are never going camping again) and the girls old comforters to the SPCA.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A O K # 1

It did not take us long to decide who was going to benefit from our first 'act of kindness'.All it took was a phone call; they said cash was preferable as they have more buying power. So we sent Christmas Amalgamated exactly what they wanted.It was that easy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Acts of kindness

I cleared the counter and then stayed out of the kitchen while Valodya baked up a batch of bean and cheese pyrahi. I suppose that could be considered an act of kindness, but I'm just goofing around.
The news is bad and it's getting worse. Donations to the food bank are down but the demand is way up. I'm angry and upset but that is not going to help anyone. So I am going to try and do an act of kindness every day until the 25th. It will be my advent calendar this year.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I am asking myself why I do what I do after participating in a craft sale today that was not a money-maker. What did I get out of it? Am I just in it for the money or do I really enjoy creating just for the joy of creating? But if I'm not selling it then I have a whole pile of creations and a lot of expensive supplies.
Of course the room was filled with crafts made by some very talented people and I'm sure that most of those people would have liked to take home less stuff when it was all over.
Some of the crafts I admired take a lot of work and effort - you can see the care that has gone into each and every one of them.
Some people are born with certain talents and can create with little effort but some of us have to really work and study and practice and toil at our crafts and hobbies in order to put them out there for public scrutiny.
That is a big chance we take because we are either going to be loved or we are going to be rejected.
I seem to get a positive reaction to my creations but that is all well and good but I do want to sell my stuff which is why I tend to make practical things like bags and treasure boxes and quilts.
Hours after the sale and I was prepared to just give my stuff away. It means nothing unless someone else is able to enjoy it.
I have decided to take a break from creating, I will not even go near my craft room. The paints and pens will dry up, my fabric piles will get that musty odour, the button jars will be covered in dust , and all my papers will get yellowed and brittle.
My bookshelves are filled with craft books and magazines of all kinds. There are jars full of rubber stamps, scrabble tiles, wood beads, old keys, clothing labels, old jewelry, and hundreds of spools of thread. Why?
Because at one point I had a vision of what I wanted to create so I surrounded myself with everything I thought I needed but in the clutter of it all, I lost my creative vision.
I found this beautiful fabric pictured above at a linen shop in Naramata.As soon as I saw it I loved it and knew that I wanted to make some bags. Went a step further and made a travel set - a bag, a bookmark, an eye mask, and a lavender-filled pillow. I thought it would be a seller but it was not.

I have been collecting pictures and ideas and patterns in my 'Create' book for a few years now. Why? I thought I knew but now I'm not so sure.
Why do you create?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Road trip

We always stop at Swan Lake when we head south - not only because the facilities are so handy but because they always have such a good selection of fruits and veggies, there is always a buttery aroma from the bakery, and during the spring and summer the nursery is well-stocked.
As always when we got to Kelowna Harvey was as busy as ever. We visited with family in the parking lot of HD and the only shopping I did was at VV in RD. I was saving all my energy for Falkland.

I have been shopping at this antiques shop in Falkland for years. Two years ago they built a new one but I still remember the old store - the uneven wooden floor, the dark dusty corners, the piles and piles of treasures some hanging from the ceiling beams, and shelves everywhere crammed full of books, dishes, and you name it they had it, or it would be coming in their next container shipment. I was so looking forward to browsing through the shop but on our return trip it was closed. I noticed that there was 'Beef dinner nite' over at the community hall so now I know why the store was closed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Walking on sugar

It was one of those evenings - lots to do and not enough time. Luckily, Valodya had made soup earlier in the day so right after work I made parmesan breadsticks (recipe from Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal) to go with Jewel's favourite soup (recipe from the Family Chef by Jewels and Jill Elmore). The breadsticks were a hit - they are flour, baking powder and salt and then you can add all sorts of stuff like olives or sun-dried tomatoes or fresh herbs. I was in a hurry so I just added grated parmesan.

I was in a hurry because I had to make a cake for work. I tried a new recipe for sour cream and cinnamon and walnut coffee cake. This one was so good that I was asked to share the recipe. I owe the cakes good taste to free-range eggs, organic cinnamon, and walnuts from Oyama.