Saturday, December 5, 2009

I'm not saying for sure....

...But, there was a very large hole in my pillow case when I went to make my bed, and I don't remember it being there before. It was big too, not something I think I would overlook.

And then, my married sister came over in the evening and told her, "I had a nightmare last night that we had five black and brown Chihuahua's and they were very mean, they were biting me." Suddenly a horrid thought occurred to me, were there mice on me, last night, while I was trying to sleep? They couldn't have bit me, I didn't have any bite marks, but.... the thought is simply ghastly.....Scream! No, I didn't, wouldn't have even considered it. Well, I might have considered it.

It is disconcerting to wake up in the middle of the night and hear little pitter patter of mice feet. Especially disconcerting after discovering a hole in your pillowcase. Unnerving if you can't tell if they are climbing up your bedpost, I froze, really I did, that cessation of movement that descends on you when faced with grave danger and you have to decide how to react. I wondered if I suddenly felt a mouse on my pillow I was going to sit up so fast I would hit my head on the bottom of the bunk. It is higher than ordinary bunks, but I haven't ever sat bolt upright before and this was a concern. I considered calling out, "I'm awake, I can hear you. Go away."

I can only consider myself fortunate that I'm not terrified of mice, though I certainly don't wish them as bedfellows. I wonder if watching Cinderella would help alleviate the apprehension I feel with mice loose in the house?

We did get a whole bunch more mouse traps and my little brother was going around placing them in drawers and in the rooms while singing to himself, "Oh, mousy won't you come out and talk with me...."

My little sister Twiglet though, has it all figured out, she placed pictures of mouse traps and warning signs on her bed. "No mice allowed. All trespassers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If you can read this, you are too close."

And she doesn't have any holes in her pillow case.

The Wedding III

I still haven't been able to get other pictures of the wedding decor, so I'll just have to make due with the ones I already have. Enough time has elapsed already. I apologize in advance for the very poor lighting in the the photographs.

What you plan and what happens are not always the same thing. But sometimes they are close. The wedding d├ęcor was very similar to what I hoped it would be (and what I hope pleased the bride and groom), with the exception that we were not planning on orange roses. But, in the end I think they complemented the green very nicely – and made the wedding very similar in color scheme the bride's parent's wedding. And, the bride wore the same necklace as her mother; a beautiful jade teardrop suspended beneath a pearl.

The front of the "sanctuary" where the wedding took place. It is a rustic floral arrangement placed in a large tin can that had green burlap glued onto it, and into this I placed: cedar, laurel, rose hips, branches with leaves in fall color, what I believe might have been the ends of a butterfly bush flowers, wild apples & pears and roses. The only thing we bought were the roses. I was able to minimize the use of flowers by combining lots of textures and colors. They were large arrangements and I only ended up using about five roses each. I had more roses available to use, but I didn't need them. Sometimes the key to floral arranging is knowing when to stop.

The Guest Book table.

Another poorly lit photograph - the aisle ends.

This was centered at the back of the aisle. Right smack dab in the middle was a huge multipurpose printer and it couldn't be moved. So I drafted my father and brothers to build this rustic fence. It turned out very nicely. This arrangement didn't have any flowers in it and was actually one of my favorites. An old milk pail, color and texture did the trick.

And the other side. This arrangement did have a few roses in it and was assembled at the facility when I decided I needed something in the corner. I wish I have better pictures! Oh, well.

This is the neatest wild grass that I found on the roadside out by our place quite by accident a few months ago. I like how it looks like it belongs to the wheat family but is very lacy. It's called Squirreltail Barley (or other and assorted names).

And the most important part of the wedding: The cake (I know, not really). My sister-in-law ended up pulling this together and I really appreciate it. She was planning to do the piping all along, but assembling it wasn't supposed to fall on her shoulders. I'm very grateful that she was willing to pitch in and help to make sure it got done. And I think the topper my brother found at the last minute was perfect. And, special thanks to the same brother for this cake photo.

A sweet picture of the flower girl... and don't touch this groom's girl!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall Colors I

I thought over the next few weeks I would post photographs featuring the colors of my favorite season, fall.

There is something comforting and old fashioned about autumn. It stirs nogistical images of cabins nestled in meadows; with smoke curling from a chimney that is venting the smoke from a stove that is tinting the crusts of pies to the perfect light brown, slowly giving gold crusts to baking bread and heating a pot of stew for cold hunters.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Wedding II

I didn't get very good picture of the wedding decor, but there were lots of other people taking pictures so I will try to get permission to use some of theirs. I thought it turned out very lovely. Rustic, fall, slightly woodsy and feminine, in just the right places.
The bride was beautiful. I know they always say that, but she was stunningly beautiful. What a lucky guy that groom is!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Today is Monday and I really should be doing something very productive...

Because I'm in charge of planning my sisters wedding this coming Saturday...

But I love roses...

Because roses just make life less stressful. And because its fall and the roses have all been frozen but I don't like to forget them.
Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Wedding Approaches

I haven't posted wedding preparation pictures as I would have liked, but here's one of the invitations.

Up in our cabin I have a collection of bark pieces and really pretty grass that looks like lacy wheat. Come time for decorating that should be joined by ceder bows, ivy cuttings, asparagus fern, pumkins, ivory roses with blushing tips, green burlap, ecru ribbon, rose hips, twigs, leaves, etc. And lots and lots of work. I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall Days

It was crisp and cold. Rather chilly actually. But I wanted to enjoy the coolness of the fall day, to savour the beauty of it. So went outside and and wrapped myself in a down comforter, with a cup of hot water (it was emergency status around here: no tea) and sat out in the cold and read a book. Cassandra by Chance by Betty Neels. It was the perfect book for a cold day. Because it takes place in cold weather with lots of hot tea and cakes. Some of my very favorite things in life. I have to say though, I looked at the table beside me and wished for a pot of hot tea and cake and then just had to be satisfied with going back to reading. I guess life can't be perfect.

I think I'd like to go outside and do it again today. But first I have to go find a good book. And today I can have tea. We are no longer in emergency status. The cakes? If only I had a solution to that.
(Photograph from another fall day.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Story of a Painting

Recently I rewatched Rose Marie starring Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddie. I love their movies, though I haven't seen all of them. There is at least one I've missed, it has a sad ending I hear. I don't like sad endings.

But, Rose Marie reminded me of a painting I saw one time in an antique (junk) mall and which I doubt I shall ever forget. I don't remember it perfectly but my recollection is of a man out in the snow, wind blowing, he was bundled in a heavy fur coat, a rifle in hand, a hard grizzled face beneath a wide brimmed hat. He looked mean. Outlaw? But then I looked at him, really looked, and thought, he looks like the kind of man you could trust, someone to turn to in trouble.

I wish I knew who the painter was, because they had talent. I've often wondered if the painting portrayed a person from real life and what his story was.The artist had captured the ruggedness of the man and his surroundings, but they had also captured his spirit. The painting was simply called.......

The Mountie

Monday, September 14, 2009

From the Wedding....

I'm afraid I don't have very good pictures of the decorations, probably because that really isn't what the wedding is all about. For most people at any rate. Anyway, considering we were working with a gym, with a large blue stripe running about four feet up the wall - and the wedding was supposed to be red and ivory, I think we did alright with the budget we were using. I really wish I had good before and after pictures to show what a transformation there really was.

One of the aspects of decorating that I felt was important, was to not try to cover up the fact that it was a gym, but make it look festive and as nice as possible.

Here are a few picture to give you an idea:

I got the idea for the suspended dots from BHG Simply Creative Wedding Spring 2005 (Yes, I've had the magazine for while - and I don't even remember what it was in there that I actually broke down and bought the magazine!). I wanted to make paper chains, but mother suggested that it would be a whole late easier to use crepe paper and it looked great.

November Wedding: I'm thinking of using the dot idea again, but this time in a leaf shape.

On the right in the top picture, you can see large pom-poms hanging below a red tulle bow. I was perusing the Martha Stewart Weddings website and the bride loved these, I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to use them, but she obviously really liked them so I definitely wanted to work them into the decor - and I'm glad we did. And I'm so grateful my little sister was willing to make them all. I directed and critiqued from my reclined position on the sofa. Very important that.
Another idea from Martha Stewart Weddings, but this time I combined her idea to make something I liked better. This wreath was the inspiration, but I didn't like it, just the concept. Instead, I used elements of these paper flowers (with different centers) and paper roses my sister found, which I would give you the link to, but I can't seem to find them! The ladies from our Sunday Bible study group all worked together to make some of the roses and assemble the petals for the other flowers. I finished putting them together while - reclining. :) We attached them to cardboard rounds mother cut out and then wrapped tissue paper around the circle to form the base. The bows are two layers of tulle ribbon.

November Wedding: I might use the idea of paper flowers again, but this time using gold tissue paper. Maybe just a few touches to give a little elegance to the rustic ambiance we want to keep.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Bridesmaids Dresses

There was actually a maid-of-honor and three bridesmaids, but this is just two of the girls. What a beautiful color.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Gown

The bride's beautiful dress:

I had made the pattern before so I was elected to help her with it! The pattern: Butterick 4919. We used the same alterations I made to make the cap sleeves, but we altered the neckline to make it wider. And we altered the skirt, using the two back pattern pieces from a vintage wedding gown pattern to form the train. She overlaid the whole thing, except the ties, with lace. It was truly beautiful. One of my favorite memories of this dress is the two of us lounging on either end of the sofa while we hand stitched the hem. Great girlfriend time.

We definitely couldn't have done it without the help of my mother and sisters. They gave advice and helped, especially with the lace we carefully hand stitched along the bottom to make the border. Many hands make light work, as Mummy would say.

And notice the amazing arrangement of flowers? That is thanks to Miss Penny with help from her daughter and a friend, who did almost all the flowers for the wedding. I'm so grateful to her for doing them. She did a beautiful job with a cheerful servant's heart. One thing I especially appreciate about her is that she is quite a bit older than me with a lot of experience doing weddings, but she didn't try to usurp in any way, but made herself and her talents available for whatever was needed.

I should also mention that those flowers didn't cost a small fortune. The gorgeous dahlias were from the couples soon to be neighbor, an elderly gentleman that kindly shared from his garden, and the roses were from a city rose garden where you can pick with a permit from the Community Center. The greenery was from assorted yards. Beauty doesn't have to be expensive.


I decided that while I liked the black and white, it was time for a little color. And red seemd to be just the right cheerful greeting. What do you think?

I'll probably continue to tweek as time goes on, but after being sick in bed over most of the summer, it is time for some changes, now. At least that is how I feel. It seems like updating helps me to get back on my feet and feel like I'm ready to handle life again. Usually after being sick with just a common cold or flu I feel very unattractive and icky, and then just spending a little extra time grooming and doing a nice outfit works. But many, many weeks sick? It's time for some major overhaul all the way round. New haircut tomorrow?

Saturday, August 29, 2009


With a week just passing since my brothers wedding, we're full swing into preparations for my little sisters big day. We went wedding dress shopping yesterday and may have found the perfect gown - we'll see what she decides. If she doesn't want it, I'm trying to convince one of my other younger sisters to buy it for her wedding - and she would, except she doesn't have a guy and she is not going to buy a dress in anticipation.

The plan is for a casual fall wedding and we may have found the perfect barn to have the event. They had wanted to do an outdoor wedding, but since it is in November, we are going to just do it in a casual facility. Casual is not my style, but I'm really looking forward to this wedding. I think with a barn and the groomsmen wearing Carhartts, it is going to embrace the more rustic, casual feel the couple wants, but with her wearing a beautiful dress and some more elegant touches, it is going to be a perfect blend that reflects their personalities. And I think it is going to be a lot of fun!

Green is their main color, and then they want to incorporate a fall color scheme, not leaning to heavily to either side. Not to much green and definitely not too many fall colors. We've already got some really good ideas and I can't wait to get started. Hopefully I'll be able to post picture as we go along.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Announcing Another Victim....

...of Cupid's Arrow

She was so subtil about it, leaning against the back of my chair in which I sat ironing the ties for my sister-in-law to be's wedding dress, and when I glanced back at her, she smiles and holds up her hand, flashing the ring along with her million dollar smile.

One of my little sisters is engaged. The one that was courting. I'm beginning to think that waiting isn't what the guy's around here do. Or perhaps my brother sent a new trend. He's the type to set new trends.

This will be the first time we'll be on the actual planning side of the wedding and it should be exciting around here for the next few months. Three to be exact. Well, didn't I say just this year that she was the one that needed to get married first? She is an absolute dear, but I think it is going to take all of her sisters working full time to get her married. This is the sister that always waits till the last minute to finish important dresses.

I can see it now, "You are not walking down the isle until I finish your hem. Just hold still a minute, he's used to waiting by now."

He's always puntucal, and she's the one just getting into the shower when we're supposed to be leaving. I'm sorry, but I think this is very funny.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Caution: Cupid at Work

Life was a lazy summer day, warm and comfortable, pleasant, with just enough of a cool breeze to keep it from being uncomfortable, and then the wind came up, crisp and stirring, it has my attention. Will it just be a stiff breeze and then die down again, or are we in for a little stir me up wind?

The courtship lasted two weeks, one day. And the answer was, yes! My little brother, shall I rephrase that, younger brother, the one that used to have an adorable mop of curls and make me scream, is all grown up and getting married to a absolutely fabulous young lady!

Their story is beautiful, romantic, incredible and funny. And it has only just begun! She's been interested in my brother since before she actually met him, but she still didn't believe all the wonderful things his sisters said about him, because a guy that good just couldn't exist. Then she met him and she was a believer. I know, he is a rare breed, but take it from me, there was one once - but he's taken now.

The first time her father met him, he called his best friend up and told him he thought he'd found his daughter's future husband. And I think the first time my parents met her they decided she would make a very nice daughter-in-law. So you see, the parents had this figured out from the first. They were very smart though, they didn't push, they didn't hint, they just waited.

Everything has happened fast, very fast, but knowing them as I do, it's perfect and romantic and wonderful. I asked her when she showed up with a ring on her finger if she was surprised. Yes, but she was wondering how long it would take him. They're so cute.

And in there someone asked to court one of my little sisters. This past Wednesday they had officially been courting for a week. And we've seen him every day since. I don't mind, he's pretty nice. And that is another really cute story. His brother-in-law actually tried to talk him out of doing it, not because he didn't think my sister was the right one, but he thought she wasn't interested. His reply? She'll have to learn to like me. That'a guy!

Well, considering I've spent the last few months being nearly embarrassed with how obvious it was that she had a serious crush on him, I was very relieved to hear it. I guess I did know that it wasn't obvious to anyone but her mother and sisters, but I was afraid she would betray herself if not strictly monitored. Of course, there are some things only a sister, an attentive one at, that is going to catch. When I really realized she liked him, it was because she was holding her jaw differently when she was talking one time when he was over after a hiking trip. Now really, who is going to pick up on that? Of course, if someone was watching they might have guessed when not two feet behind him she got a chair to stand on so she could turn on the ceiling light. She could have asked him, it would have been a very simple reach for someone over six feet. And I'm sure he would have been very happy to oblige. My hero!

Want to know something, it's pretty obvious now that she likes him.(And vice-versa) People in a certain condition, seem to have a certain look about them. And she has it. It's pretty cute. She's pretty cute, and he's pretty lucky. Really, he's into the outdoors, hunting, fishing, etc., and she's always had that interest and has actually been bear hunting in a group that he was out with. All that and she's very beautiful and has a good sense of casual style - and then she can still go to the ball in a beautiful gown and be lovely. He is lucky, what?

I think I'm going to enjoy this nice summer storm - but I'd better hang on. It is going to be quite a ride through the whirl of wedding preparations!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm Back!

I was away for a month staying with my brother and sister-in-law helping them settle into their little home with a young baby. I missed home dreadfully, but I very much enjoyed visiting with my brothers, two sister-in-laws and my very adorable nephew and niece. It was very sad when it came time to finally bid them all goodbye.

I will miss: Cuddling my niece as she sleeps in my arms, smiling at her smiles, laughing when she giggles, laughing at the absolute adorableness of her when she puckers her little mouth to cry, and marveling at how big she's getting.....Walking my nephew around and around the room, letting him explore my teeth with his little finger and then feeling his, just so he knew the two he has are important, playing with his toys after he's gone to bed, being thrilled and surprised at his excited greeting when I went to visit.....Long talks with my sisters-in-law and getting to know them better, the long walks with Mrs. M III and sometimes my brother, and the wonderful new recipes I tried that my sisters-in-law made.

And then it was home again, traveling with a good family friend that was coming for a short visit before leaving for Peru. We had a wonderful, though sleep deprived, action packed long weekend. We danced and then played a game of volleyball at the park, explored a ghost town of old log buildings, took a ten mile hike and got rained on and very muddy and we squeezed another game of volleyball in before she left town. All between wonderful conversations with confidences, laughs and counsel.

I'm absolutely exhausted, but in a happy way. And now I have to get back on schedule, and see what life holds for me in the future. One thing it seems to contain is another new sister-in-law. We shall see, what we shall see.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oat Fig Bars

I was looking for a regular fig bar recipe when I found this and it looked easy and it was already healthy so I thought I'd try it. Frankly, I don't trust recipes that purport to be healthy and I don't know if I even gave it a try in its original form, but this is the version I've settled on - pretty much.

Oat and Fig Squares

1 + cup dried figs, cut into pieces
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon molasses
1/4 cup milk

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F . Put figs in a medium saucepan, combine figs, water, honey and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally; cool.

2. Grease a 9X9-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, combine flour, rolled oats, baking soda, salt and orange zest. In a medium bowl combine, butter, honey, molasses, and milk. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well. Dough will be sticky. Chill to make handling easier.

3. Place a little more than half of the oat mixture in the prepared pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Spread figs evenly on top. Add remaining oat mixture on top of fig layer, allowing some of the figs to show through. Pat lightly to flatten. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. When cool, cut into 16 squares.

These really are very good. I should go try the recipe again, just to make sure it still works.

Chocolate Nests

A few years ago I discovered Cadbury Chocolate Mini Eggs and they have become a spring tradition. I never did Easter egg hunts as a child, but now my siblings and I do; we go all over town hunting the best prices on Cadbury's mini eggs!

I made these nests for Easter, but I don't hold them exclusively to the holiday and think they are appropriate anytime during the spring.

Incredibly simple to make they call for four ingredients: Chocolate chips, shortening, Chinese Noodles and Cadbury Mini Eggs. Next time I might skip the shortening and see if the chocolate holds up a little better. They seemed to melt rather fast and I wondered if it might have something to do with the shortening. Or maybe I just didn't let them set up long enough.

The eggs come in multiple colors but I like to use only one color per nest, it makes it a tiny bit less cutesy and a little bit more sophisticated.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Vintage Dress Pattern

My sisters have collections of vintage patterns but this is the first one I've actually bought for myself, adding it to the few I've been given by my sister Retro Girl Creative. I'm going to have to make myself a dress using this pattern one of these days. I might even have the perfect fabric already. With snow still falling these last few days, I'm not feeling in any hurry to start on spring and summer clothes though.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Whole Wheat Elephant Ear

On any day, but especially a cool day, there is something almost perfect about a warm elephant ear rolled out from whole wheat dough, cooked to perfection and topped with butter that is melting into the honey and finished with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Hot off the grill and sooo delicious!

I can't believe the good ol' days when we made fresh bread almost every day and I had one of these for lunch, or maybe two or three. That was the life.

My sister even made bread today, but it's almost dinner time. Warm rolls out of the oven will have to suffice. Do I hear any pity?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

That sounds so very Irish. Blessings to your and yours this Saint Patrick's Day. (And may I never see you limping. :))

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Honey Vanilla Frozen Cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup honey
1 ¾ cups whipping cream

In medium heatproof bowl combine eggs, egg yolks, honey and vanilla. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water). Whisk mixture constantly for 5 to 10 minutes or until egg mixture reaches and remains at 140⁰ F for 3 minutes or 165⁰F on instant read thermometer. Carefully remove bowl from saucepan and transfer egg mixture to another bowl, beat until thick and pale colored. This should cool the custard mixture to about room temperature.

In another mixing bowl beat cream until soft peaks form. If egg mixture has started to separate, re-beat. Fold custard into cream. Pour into freezer-safe serving bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm (6 to 24 hours). Makes 6 – 8 servings.

This recipe is especially good with a fruit dessert. A warm plum sauce is delicious.

I originally got this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens August 2005 and I adapted it to honey.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Proof that I made it into the New Year

Contrary to all appearances, I did not drop off into the abyss of the past along with the old year. I didn't make any earth shattering resolutions or goals either, but I have been suddenly motivated to diligently work on getting things done! Which includes, but is not limited to: streamlining my wardrobe, finishing projects, working on a personal improvement schedule, sorting through recipes and doing more reading. I've already finished two of the books on my "list" and I am in the middle of The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian.

Today I went into town with two of my younger siblings for our annual lunch together. For almost exactly two months out of each year, our ages are a year apart. We're quite close and it's a fun excuse to do something together. After lunch we ran errands and picked up: books and magazines at an antique store, discount paint at the local hardware store, books at the library, and miscellaneous and sundry items. The paint was a real answer to a prayer of the heart for me. Just recently I've been wanting to talk to Mum about getting paint for the kitchen because I feel a nice paint job would really be uplifting, but I was somewhat hesitant. Paint isn't that expensive, but I still wasn't sure if she'd spring for it. I keep thinking about it, but I hadn't had a chance to talk to her yet. When my sister and I saw the right colors at $5 dollars a gallon, I gave her a ring and she said to go for it. I'm really quite excited, except, Why do I end up getting more projects just as I'm catching up?

I have some really good recipes I want to share with you soon, but I'll have to try to squeeze them in on the limited time I have on the computer, and between all the things I'm so diligently trying to get done.