Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sockmaking 101

I haven't done any scrapbooking in quite a while...May 22nd to be exact, which was the day that my last assignment as guest designer on the CSI: Colors Stories Inspiration Challenge site was due. But in that space of time I've been creative in other ways.

I'm sitting here wearing handknit socks, thinking about how comfortable they are and how much I love making them. I first fell in love with knitting socks back in November 2011 when Jen and I embarked on a sock adventure together. We had some pretty hilarious moments and in the end it turned out that making socks is really not all that difficult. I was hooked. The one thing I didn't like was falling victim to Second Sock Syndrome...that feeling you get when you've finished the first sock and know that you now have to start again and do the whole thing all over, hoping that the mate to the first one will come out the same to make a nicely matched pair. 

I dreamed of knitting socks from the toe up using the Magic Loop method on one circular needle so that I could make both socks at the same time. I thought about taking a course at my local yarn shop but worried about being able to keep up and wondered how much could be accomplished in the two hours there, not mention what would happen if I ran into problems at home doing my homework. Then one day I stumbled upon an online course on Liat Gat's Knit Freedom website and knew I had found the solution that would work well for me. I bought the course and started learning some new knitting skills!


Knitting socks from the toe up lets you try on the socks as you progress to check the fit. You are guaranteed two socks that are the same since you complete the same steps on each sock at the same time. And the Magic Loop method is such a fun, innovative way of knitting in the round.


I'm still working on improving my technique and learning ways to make a better fitting sock but I'm very happy to have accomplished my goal of knitting socks toe-up two-at-a-time. I envision lots of handknit socks in my future and have even indulged in a skein of really good quality Madeline Tosh sock yarn which I'm sure will be a dream to work with.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Catness

There's a little bit of snow forecast for our area tomorrow but today was a beautiful warm day, so Richard and I decided it was the perfect opportunity to put away the patio furniture and clean up the gardens before winter hits. We hadn't been outside more than five minutes when our favourite feline visitor hopped onto the fence to see us. After talking with her owner a few weeks back we have learned that her name is "Catness". She kept us company as we cut back plants, raked and swept, and bagged dead leaves. As usual, it wasn't long before she was up in one of our trees surveying the world from above and chewing on branches.





Is this not the cutest cat ever? She just makes me smile.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Did It

Today was a big day for me. I donated blood for the first time in my life. At the beginning of 2012 I blogged about 10 goals I had for the upcoming year, one of them being to donate blood. A year later I reviewed my success or failure with these goals and sadly I still had not donated blood because of silly squeamishness.

However, life experience changes perception. Two weeks ago I stood with my sister beside my mother's bed and we stroked her hand and face as she breathed her last breaths and her heart came to a stop. I know there was nothing that anyone could do for my mother. Her time on this earth had simply come to its natural end. But a few days later as I was driving near home I noticed a sign advertising an upcoming blood donor clinic and I had thought... Perhaps my blood could help save a life and spare someone somewhere the sadness of losing a loved one. I knew that my time had come to get over my fears.


I did this with my mom in my thoughts and I feel happy about it.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Goodbye Mom

I don't really know what to say except that I am sad. So sad. Tomorrow would have been my Mom's 80th birthday but she passed away last Sunday just 9 days short of reaching it. She was a kind person. She didn't judge others. She tried always to see the good in other people even when they weren't being nice to her. My Mom was a big kid at heart. Even as an adult she had trouble falling asleep Christmas eve night because she was excited about the coming day. She loved to collect Royal Doulton figurines, and porcelain dolls and she had a real soft spot for teddy bears, especially if they were dressed in little outfits. She knew how to choose the perfect gift for a grandchild - not the ordinary, run-of-the-mill toys that every kid was getting - but always something unique and different. She knit hats and mittens for charity and enjoyed buying toys to donate to Secret Santa at Christmas. She was a good person.

After her stroke she graciously accepted her new situation in life and was well-loved at the Long Term Care center where she lived. She always made a point of telling us not to worry about her living there and that she was happy. She didn't complain, wasn't demanding, and enjoyed her days the best she could. One of the condolence messages left for us on the funeral chapel's website says it all:

"My name is Twyla and I work security at the Wetaskiwin hospital.
I have known Pat for only 6 months, but in that short amount of time,I grew very fond of her. I will miss our morning talks and her shining smile that was always present, even when she wasn't feeling well."

That was how my Mom was. Always friendly and ready to have a little chat with whoever went by. Always happy to introduce her family to the staff and other residents of the home.

We knew she was starting to decline over the past couple of months. She wasn't able to speak as easily or find the words she wanted to say but she had a good sense of humour about it and would laugh at some of the things that came out of her mouth. On one of our last visits to see her she wanted to know how Richard was doing with his new CPAP machine and referred to it as his "bubble machine". She rolled her eyes a bit because she knew she hadn't used the right name and then we all had a good laugh. It was sad to see her slowly lose the ability to knit over the past few months. Week after week she would ask Jen and I to teach her how to knit the dishcloths she loved to make and give away to staff at the home, but by the next week she would have forgotten again.

It was very difficult watching my mother slowly slip away over two days but we are thankful that when these final days arrived she didn't appear to be suffering or in pain. She left the world peacefully and Jen and I will always be grateful that we were together and with her when she passed. I'll miss her. 


Mom with Chris and Matt - Christmas Day 2012
Pat White
October 15, 1933 - October 6, 2013

Until next time...
Susan

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Storytelling Sunday - Freddy

I'm joining in this month with Sian's Storytelling Sunday, sharing another one of my precious things and a little story behind it. This is Freddy...


During the summer that I was about 8 years old I participated in an Arts & Crafts group held at our town hall. This was both an exciting and scary thing for me. I guess I've always been a crafter at heart so I couldn't wait to go be creative and make things, but at the same time I was (and still am) terribly shy so the idea of going to a strange place with people I didn't know was definitely frightening to me. However, the lure of crafting won out and I went. I don't actually remember much about the whole experience except for the day we were to bring a sock from home so we could make sock dolls. This had to have been my first attempt at sewing - the proof is in all those crooked, crossed, multi-coloured stitches! I made this little doll, named him Freddy and loved him because he had come from my own two hands. Born of an old sock!

Fast forward a few months to the school year. Jen and I shared a bedroom - it was a mess and really needed to be tidied up. As we were getting ready for school one morning our mother told us that if we didn't clean our room when we got home that day she was going to gather up everything that was lying around and throw it away. As sometimes happens between parents and children, parents make idle threats without realizing how it will affect their children, and children in their innocence take those threats to heart and take them very seriously. I feared that my mother might start throwing things away while we were at school so I grabbed Freddy, put him in my schoolbag and brought him along with me to school. I remember going to my locker at recess, taking him out of my bag and saying to him, "Don't worry, Freddy, you're safe here." It's funny to look back at the situation now but it wasn't funny to me at the time.

I have no recollection of whether we cleaned our room or not and I seriously doubt that my mother would have thrown away any of our belongings. But as an 8-year old girl, with the prospect of losing some of my possessions, Freddy was the one thing that was precious to me and was the only thing I "saved". 

There are lots of great stories about more precious things linked up on Sian's blog. Go and have a read - you won't be disappointed!

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Pretty Birds Have Arrived

Finally!! With the exception of one day when a House Finch dropped by for a few minutes, I've been looking at little brown sparrows at my bird feeder all summer long and hoping for something more interesting.  Sorry, Sparrows...it's nothing personal, but all those brown feathers are just a tad boring after so many months.

Maybe it's the change of season, or maybe it's the fact that two weeks ago I filled the feeder with black oil sunflower seeds, but suddenly this afternoon my new offering of food was discovered and I had a variety of interesting birds to look at.

I have a lot of respect for anyone who takes wildlife shots successfully - some of these birds move so quickly that it's near impossible to capture them. I put my limited ornithological skills to work, grabbed my "Birds of Alberta" book and tried my best to identify these birds.

Black-Capped Chickadee


Red-Breasted Nuthatch

I'm not sure about this one but I believe it is a juvenile Robin or maybe an adult female. It looks like a robin but not like the ones I normally see which have a darker red breast and are the males.

Downy Woodpecker

So it was a pretty exciting afternoon for me as far as birds were concerned and I hope to see more pretty ones visiting again. I showed the photos to Richard when he got home from work and he said, "Wow, finally some quality birds!"  I had to laugh at that one.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Photo Scavenger Hunt...Done!

Today I'm posting the final photo for Rinda's Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt. I knew this would be the one photo that I put off taking until the very end and it's surprising actually that I got it done 4 days before the deadline. I'm not a fan of having my photo taken, much less having to take a "selfie", but in a moment of pure spontaneity this afternoon I grabbed my camera, stood before the bathroom mirror and clicked away. I have to say it felt weird but I got the picture I needed to complete all 21 items on the list and for that I'm happy. 

#21 A photo of me with a Craft Tool

I chose my all-time favourite paper punch - the Martha Stewart Starburst. If I could only keep one of my scrapbooking punches this would be the one.  I wouldn't even think twice about it.

And now that the challenge is done, my plan is to make an 8"x8" scrapbook album using all my photos. It will be a great souvenir of the fun and adventures we had this summer while doing this.

A big thank-you to Rinda for hosting the challenge...and thanks also to Sian because it was through her blog that I found it.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

One Photo & Twenty Words


A beautiful piece of  moss.  So soft and green.  There's an island in the palm of my hand.  Amazing nature!
~

I found this piece of moss in my backyard and was somehow awed by how it looked like a little island.  I took a photo so I can do a scrapbook page of it.  Sometimes it's the seemingly insignificant things in life that have the biggest effect on us.  Twenty words really wasn't enough to say what I wanted to.  This was hard! And I think I've just cheated by adding all of this! LOL

Thank you to Sian of From High in the Sky, who got the inspiration from Abi of Creating Paper Dreams, which in turn inspired me to give this interesting idea a try.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Winding Down the Photo Scavenger Hunt

I'm back again with the last group of photos which I took for Rinda's Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt.

One Sunday on the way back from visiting my mother at the home we stopped near Edmonton International Airport, certain that we would easily be able to photograph an airplane coming in for a landing. As we approached the airport two planes passed overhead but by the time we'd parked and gotten out of the car, it seems that there were no more flights arriving. There were plenty of planes taking off but it turns out that photographing a moving aircraft is really hard (at least for me!) and all I ended up with were specks in the sky.  Jen suggested we try the airport closer to home so the next day we drove to Edmonton City Centre Airport but after standing around for a while there was absolutely nothing happening there either.  Luckily, we had noticed the Alberta Aviation Museum along the way which has several stationary aircraft outside.  I have no idea what this airplane is called or the story behind it but I thought it looked really nice - so bright and yellow!

#4 Airplane


The past couple of weeks I've been keeping my eyes on the sky waiting for a nice sunset, but where we live there seem to be too many buildings and trees obstructing the view.  Richard suggested that we go to the top level of the parkade at a local shopping mall in hopes of getting up high enough for a decent shot. What a good idea!

#5 Sunset

This rustic fence line was photographed at a beautiful park close to where we live. There's an off-leash area where dogs can play and run free, picnic tables and BBQ's, trails to walk, and a really cool water play area for kids. It's a great place to go to spend a sunny day relaxing and we've also done some geocaching here as well.  

#13 Fence

A good old-fashioned black & white police car! I was so thrilled to see this type of police car when we moved to Edmonton because I hadn't seen any like this for years and years in Quebec. They have such a great, retro feel and remind me of when I was a kid.

#15 Police Car

This was the one item on the scavenger hunt list that I really had no plan for until the last minute. I have candles at home, but nothing special and nothing that I particularly wanted to photograph.  When we went to the police station to take the above photograph, I decided that a trip to Target was in order because surely they'd have some nice candles in stock.  It was a toss-up between an elephant and an owl but the owl won because he's just so darn cute.  I didn't bring him home with me though because it bothers me to light a shaped candle and see it disintegrate slowly into nothing.

#17 Candle

This is the Tim Hortons which is within walking distance of our house. It is a favourite spot for my boys who are particularly fond of the cool and delicious Iced Cappucino that is sold there, not to mention the donuts and muffins.  I'm not a coffee drinker myself so it's not a place that I go very often but I did try an Iced Lemonade this summer which was very refreshing.

#18 Local Coffee House

And that just about wraps up the Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt for me. There remains just one photo left to be taken - me with an artistic tool or craft supply.  We'll see how long I procrastinate on taking that one!

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Someone Call the Fire Department!

Continuing with Rinda's Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt, I have a little story that goes along with my next photo. I put up a bird feeder in my backyard this summer with the hope of attracting lots of beautiful birds to the area, but several times when I looked out the window, instead of seeing birds in the trees I saw this...

#9 Something That is Clearly Out of Place

...clearly not what I expected to see in the trees and clearly out of place!  We love this little cat who comes to visit us.  She's so friendly and "talkative" and the first time that we found her stranded in the tree we did our best to help her get down.

She meowed at us...


We called up to her, giving her verbal instructions even though we knew she couldn't understand a word of what we were saying...and she moved even further out on a limb...


And looked down longingly at the ground...and we joked that maybe we should call the fire department to rescue her...


But in the end we got a ladder and Chris was able to turn her around and guide her to a branch that was the logical route down...


And then she was on her way to the safety of the ground...


After doing this twice within about a week we realized that we couldn't drag the ladder outside all summer long to rescue this cat who probably didn't really need rescuing anyway.  Since then when we see her stranded high up in a tree we just watch, amused, as she eventually finds her own way down.  Just yesterday I saw her go higher and higher until she literally "fell" her way out of the tree, grabbing on to branch after branch with her claws until she finally landed at a large one near the bottom.  It's probably a good thing that cats have nine lives.  ;-)

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

More of the Scavenger Hunt...

You wouldn't know it today by the temperature - it's 26C, 29C with the humidity - but fall is definitely on its way.  I've heard the geese honking overhead lately and seen them congregating on ponds, which is probably a sign that they're getting ready for their big trip back to warmer climates.  I also heard the school bell ringing down the street this morning - proof that summer is over, so I'm trying to wrap up the Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt that Rinda hosted once again this year.

At the beginning of August, Richard and I took the LRT downtown so I could capture some of the photos I needed.  I don't use public transportation very often so I am a bit like a little kid when the occasion arises.  I totally enjoy the ride and all the people-watching that I can do (which for me is the best part of the whole trip!) Once we'd arrived downtown we had lunch at a nice sandwich place and then set out in search of some of the items on the list.

This was my first time seeing Edmonton's City Hall.  I thought the triangular glass roof and enormous clock tower where quite impressive, but what I especially liked was the large wading pool complete with water sprays that sits right in front.  I like the idea of  people being able to come down here to let their kids cool off and have fun in the water.

#3 City Hall


Winspear Centre, on the other hand, is not at all an impressive building on the outside, but I have been there with Jen and Rob to see a comedy show and the inside is very nice.

#2 Theatre for Performing Arts

And finally, sitting directly across from City Hall is this sculpture (statue?) which I thought makes for an original bench.  It is called "Lunchbreak" and was created by J. Seward Johnson Jr.

#10 A Bench that is Outside

And that was how we spent a few hours downtown one Saturday afternoon before getting back on the LRT for some more people-watching and heading back home.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More of the Photo Hunt...Bison

It's hot here in Edmonton right now...27C but it feels like 34C with the humidity. It's nice to have weather like this as summer winds down, and Richard has had some vacation days too which has been nice and thanks to Rinda's Summertime Photo Challenge we've been getting out in search of some of the items on the list.

We didn't want to go look at caged animals in a zoo so we decided to pack a picnic lunch and head out to Elk Island National Park today in search of bison.  We weren't disappointed...

#11 Bison at Elk Island National Park

These animals roam free throughout the park, at times crossing the road and making traffic come to a standstill.  They are impressive creatures - the males massive - and I may or may not have been heard to exclaim in a panicky tone, "No, no, don't go any closer and don't get out of the car!"  As much as I was awed watching them, they made me nervous.  Not that anybody was attempting to get out of the car to approach them, but mother that I am I was just laying down the ground rules even though I no longer deal with small children.  ;-)

We also saw a coyote moving along the edge of the road, a nice sight to see but the poor animal had some sort of large growth hanging off the side of his body.  You can't really see it in this photo since it had sort of swung up against his body as he ran along but it sure made us feel bad for him having to deal with it and wondering what will happen to him....


Goose tracks on the beach near a lake...


And then the geese...


A pretty butterfly resting on the ground...


Some interesting plants spotted along the floating boardwalk...


And some pretty flowers...


That was how we spent our day today, enjoying nature and its beauty.  And we're happy to have seen one more little corner of Alberta that we hadn't yet explored.

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fishermen & Dinosaurs...Photo Scavenger Hunt

I'm back with a couple more photos that I took for Rinda's Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt

Richard was on vacation the first few days of this week so we decided to check out the Royal Alberta Museum to get a photo of a dinosaur.  We've always liked visiting museums and this was our first time since moving here in 2010.  There was a really interesting exhibit called "The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design" which featured chairs from the early 19th century to the present.  There are some truly amazing chairs in this world!  This museum also has an impressive live insect collection which had me feeling itchy just looking at them!

As we entered the first gallery I was disappointed to see a sign stating that it was forbidden to take photographs.  I'm a rule follower so the thought of taking a picture when I was not allowed to, and the possibility of getting caught, bothered me.  But as we moved along I saw many people with their cameras in action, flashes included, and they seemed oblivious that they were breaking the rules.  As we approached the dinosaur display I was happy to see that the security guard was nowhere in sight and the room was empty.  I quickly got out my camera and snapped a few shots before anyone could see me.  This dinosaur is the "Albertasaur" which was discovered in Alberta in 1933. It was a small, carnivorous tyrannosaur which existed 80 to 65 million years ago.  I suppose this is an "illegal" photo of sorts but I sure am happy to have it!

#20 Dinosaur


We also spent a day at an "urban fishing pond" in the northeast of the city.  The pond is supposedly stocked with trout but it was a hot day and those fish were not biting for anyone.  Still, it was a great day to be outside.  We had a picnic lunch and then I read a book and enjoyed watching the Canada geese roam about while Matthew and Richard fished. 

  #19 Fishermen


Doing this photo challenge has really encouraged us to get out and explore some of the things that the city has to offer and I'm thankful for that. 

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Catching Up on the Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt...

It's time for me to catch up a bit with posting my photos for Rinda's Photo Scavenger Hunt. I've been lazy with blogging the past little while but I've been busy knitting and am still searching out and taking photos for the scavenger hunt.

#1 Open Air Market

This is the farmer's market which is located close to where I do all my weekly food shopping.  We used to buy bread there a lot until I decided that I could make bread that was just as good using my bread machine and at a fraction of the cost.  Now we go once in a while to have a look around and sometimes treat ourselves to a bag of kettle corn or some fresh cherries. 


#6 Someone (Tabby) taking a nap


#7 A Sign That is Intentionally Funny

I went with Richard last weekend to his workplace to help him move into a new office.  As we were passing by the small lunch area I noticed this sign taped to the refrigerator and thought it was quite funny.  When I first decided to do this photo challenge this was the one item on the list that I really had doubts of finding, so I was thrilled when I saw it.


#16 Windmill

Not an actual windmill, but a windmill of sorts!  It was the best I could do at the time I was searching for a windmill but since then we have discovered several windmills in our travels and even learned that there is a hamlet called Neerlandia, located northwest of Edmonton, which was founded by Dutch immigrants. I bet there'd be windmills of some type there.

I'll be back soon with more photos from the challenge...

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It's been just over 3 weeks since I blogged about my little vegetable plot at the community garden near home and things have really changed since then...


We've had a good amount of rain so I haven't had to water the garden very much and it's really taken off! I decided to try the Square Foot Gardening method and this tiny raised bed, which is only 3 x 8 feet, is overflowing with vegetable goodness.  Apart from a nice section of carrots I've also got...

Green Peppers

Cherry Tomatoes

Lettuce...which we've been enjoying for weeks now

Beans...which should be ready very soon

And beets...which I'll be pulling and pickling this week.

Matthew also has a plot (actually he was asked to forfeit one of his two plots to me when I requested one and they'd run out due to overwhelming demand) and he's growing carrots, beans, onions and cucumbers. Between the two of us we'll be eating lots of fresh-picked vegetables for the next while. If only it was possible to garden year round!  It's such a good feeling to eat food that you've grown yourself and know that it's healthy and hasn't been treated with chemicals. I am enjoying having this garden so much and plan on doing this every year from now on. What's growing in your garden?

Until next time...
Susan :-)