Thursday, December 29, 2011

It Doesn't Look Like Knitting

 I completed  the Milk Run Shawl for my mother-in-law for Christmas.  I squeaked so close to completing it for Christmas that I wasn't working on anything else, as in no other knitting.   This shawl was the only knitting I did as gifts.   It seemed that anything small was already knitted for previous Christmases, and this shawl consumed most of my hours.    A picture is still coming of the shawl.
So, in between knitting this shawl, I went to purchase someone a gift at Beadworks, which is a local beading store.  I saw these beautiful beaded ornament glass balls.  I asked if they taught classes in them, and did not I proceeded to get written instructions and purchased the beads and supplies. 

The short and long story of this project is that I  spent a couple of hours at the store, while a very patient employee of Beadworks helped  me get started.     I managed on my own ok at home, while breaking thread, needing a magnifying glass to thread the itsy bitsy needle, and chasing seed beads.    But this darn ornament consumed me..I needed to work on it.    I had planned on offering this as a gift to someone, so I could at least justify my time with it.  After patching a string of beads that broke off and I didn't know how to fix it except with glue, I couldn't give this away to anyone and be totally happy with my work.  So I'm keeping it !   I'm thinking of one in pink now !

Christmas is now over and I am happily picking up a few knitting things for myself that I would like to complete before looking at some yummy yarns that I spotted at the yarn store today.

Hope your Christmas was a wonderful one and the New Year is looked upon with a sense of anticipation of all good things to come.

Alice xox

Monday, December 19, 2011


This is Moxie sitting on Jim's lap.   If this isn't the look of relaxation, I don't no what is.     She looks like she she couldn't care less what happened around her, but I'm sure if a bowl of ice cream was to appear she would be wide awake in attention.

What do you do next when the lap disappears?  Well, find the next available pillow of course !

"I don't need you now..unless you appear with a lap or icecream" look.

"Now, I don't even know you exist pose"

Big sis Pixie, also taking the role of " do as others do on Sunday afternoon"

Pixie, is known to not like Moxie too close to her, and this is "too close".  On the same couch !!!   She quickly awakens from her slumber.

I do remember a time with our first stray cat we adopted, she was not allowed up on the couch.  My, how things how now changed with these two  Or maybe it's more about how we have changed.

Alice xox

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blooming Surprise

I had taken this picture of a mum that was being attacked by slugs over the summer, but still managed to produce a flower.  But...

Look what I found yesterday, the mum was blooming in December !!!   Not just one little flower but the whole plant was thriving !!!   What a treat to see.
       What a great way to enjoy this time of year with colour and beauty still outside in the back yard.

Let's switch gears and talk about shopping...which I don't do much of in the mall.  Went to the mall today to do some Christmas shopping, and found that I was very impressed with the service of a particular store that I was in.   Not only did they have lots of staff, but.. WOW..they were so helpful, don't know what they are like when it's not Christmas season, but if they are like this all year, no wonder it is a growing company.  Young, trendy..and high end.      I told the young lady who served me that I appreciated her help and that it was great to see that.   You gotta tell people when they are doing a great job..

I better get back to my knitting, which I'm not getting highly motivated to do.   I'm hitting a wall with this particular project as I plan on gifting it, I want to pick up other things, but I know I'm falling behind on time.   Does this happen to you?   Having to knit something and losing the motivation to keep going ?

Bye for now,


Friday, November 25, 2011

I Think I'm In Love.

with this.  So read on.

The other day I caught myself noticing that a particular blog that I read on hadn't posted anything new in a long time, I realize "why do you think someone else should do that, you don't "  OOPS..very true !! I decided to get busy and show you something new that I started in a class at my local yarn store.  I wanted to learn to knit continental style, which means you hold your working yarn on the left hand instead of the right hand.   This is ideal when you are doing colourwork, as you are carrying multiple colours of yarn and that can create a big frustration if you are not doing it with two hands involved.   I have to say it was frustrating to learn to use the two hands simultaneously, but once I got the rhythm it is a lot of fun.  I wouldn't say it was quicker, but it is more efficient. 

I chose this pattern from Spillyjane Knits and it's  called  Camilla Mitts..   It is a free pattern on Ravelry.   My notes on Ravelry are here.

 I have followed Spillyjane on her blog for awhile and really liked her glove patterns.  Lot's of fun, fresh ideas.   It's a great way to get to know a  designer  when you can try it out free..that says alot about the designer too...very generous people out there.

I have only worked about 2" inches but so far I would recommend this pattern, I tend to complicate things myself....but..oops..I was wrong I did mess up with the instructions at the beginning.   Here I was thinking  that I just breezed through this, but that was not the case.   How quickly we forget the steps that brought us to where we are !!!    The pattern says "Round 1: K2tbl,p2. Repeat accross all sts for the entire round|"   After I did that I had less stitches than I started as I interpreted that as K2together through back of loop, I had never seen K2TBL....they are not the same thing !!!!   I couldn't figure out how this was going to work, when I read ahead, the pattern does not tell you to increase at anytime ahead in the pattern.   So I did a call in to my local yarn store, Black Sheep Yarns, and read the instructions, of course she got it right away.   Experience definitely makes you better at your craft..and this was new to me.   I have seen K1tbl..but I was not computing that this was anywhere the same thing.   The funny thing is, when I did "get it" it seem so obvious !!    I tell you, knitting is so much like life, you  learn lots about yourself along the way.

Go ahead and have some fun and make yourself some gloves for this winter, or maybe it's someone you've been thinking of.  

Forgot to mention, I did change the pattern a bit..I had read the notes on Ravelry that people found them too big.  Which means enormous for me.   So do check my notes to see that I changed the cast on stitches for the cuff and then increased the asked amount to start working on the pattern.    

Well, I better get back to my knitting..they won't knit up by themselves.

Have a super weekend.

Alice xox

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Muffin Break

I have been exploring some great food blogs over the last couple of months, what I have enjoyed is their passion for food, being told through their skills in photography, and wonderful  story telling.  These people so  love what they do, they graciously give so much of their time to their readers.   How awesome is that !

I don't have a sweet tooth, but my husband does, so there is baking most of the time around the house, just not made by me.    But the last month or so, what has been in the house has been made by my loving hands.   It's really not that hard, I thought baking was some mysterious force that I just didn't care to investigate.  Not saying I know everything, but I'm not scared to try it now.

I have found a blueberry muffin recipe I wanted to share with you, as it has been the favourite for the last week.    It's not a healthy or unhealthy sort of muffin, but I'm starting to believe  when it's made by your own hands it's healthy in so many levels of your being.   Everyone benefits.

I hope you give these a try, especially great in the evening with a cup of tea.  Enjoy !   This recipe was copied from Smitten Kitchen Blog, which is the link I have if you click on the heading under the picture.

Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Muffins are really best on the first day (another argument for halved recipes) but I’ve never met one I couldn’t resuscitate split, toasted and patted with salted butter.
My major changes: As always, attempted to rewrite this into a one-bowl recipe (because muffins should just not require a lot of work), halved the recipe and added weights.
Makes 9 to 10 standard muffins

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces or 71 grams) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces or 191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces or 105 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then yogurt and zest. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter. Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in your blueberries. The dough will be quite thick (and even thicker, if you used a full-fat Greek-style yogurt), closer to a cookie dough, which is why an ice cream scoop is a great tool to fill your muffin cups. You’re looking for them to be about 3/4 full, nothing more, so you might only need 9 instead of 10 cups. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean (you know, except for blueberry goo). Let cool on rack (ha), or you know, serve with a generous pat of butter.

Now, on a knitting note, I have finished a super beanie/toque for my husband.  I had knit this pattern before for him, but he has lost his first one.    But at that time, probably 2 yrs ago, I didn't belong to Ravelry, so I don't have any notes on how I did it.   Somehow this one appears to be a lot bigger, and Jim says it's also itchier.    So, the lesson is..keep good notes !!!   

The pattern is  Turn a Square, by Jared Flood,

My notes are here on Ravelry:

Back view

Give the muffins a try as they are super simple to make and you probably have most of the ingredients at home, the only thing I didn't have was the sour cream, so I'm warning you now, put that on your grocery list, you'll need it.

The toque is a must as winter is coming on, so if you are not knitter, this is a good starting project.  I hope it inspires you to start.

Alice xox

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Walk in the Park

This morning I purposely took the camera with me to caputure some trees in the neighbourhood for their striking autumn colours, but most of their leaves had now fallen down.  So instead I went to a local park.

I had seen people earlier at the parking lot of the grocery store wearing heavy coats and gloves and thought that looked a bit too much, but once I was in the park even though it was sunny it was cold.   A hoodie does not constitute as a jacket.    But the park was beautiful.

Enjoy your day wherever you are.

Alice xox

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Search Continues

I had promised I would continue where I left off in my book "Everyday Zen", love and work, by Charlotte Joko Beck,.  She is a Zen teacher addressing her students who are practising meditation:

"If we cease looking, searching, what are we left with?  We're left with what's been right there at the center all the time.  Underneath all that searching there is distress.  There is unease.  The minute we realize that, we see that the point isn't the search, but rather the distress and unease which motivate the search, but the magic moment-when we realize that searching outside of ourselves is not the way.  At first it dawn on us just a little bit.  And it gets clearer over time, as we continue to suffer.  See, anything that we search for is going to disappoint us.  Because there are no perfect being, perfect job, perfect places to live.  So the search ends exactly in one place which is.... disappointment.  A good place.

I we have any brains at all, it finally dawn on us:  "I've done this before."  And we begin to see that it isn't the searching that's at fault, but something about where we look.  And we return more and more to the disappointment, which is always at the center.  What's underneath all that search is what?  Fear. Unease. Distress.  Feeling miserable.  We're in  pain and we use the search to alleviate that pain.  We begin to see that the pain comes because we are pinching ourselves.  And just this knowledge is relief, even peace.  The peace we've been searching for so hard lies in recognizing this fact:  I'm pinching myself.  No one's doing it to me.

So the whole search begin to be abandoned and instead of searching, we begin to see that practice (meditation)isn't a search.  Practice is to be with that which motivates the search, which is unease. distress.  And this is the turning around.

It never happens all at once.  Our drive to go after things is so powerful it overwhelms us.  No matter what I say, after we all leave here, in five minutes we'll all be looking around for something to save us.  As the vow says, "Desires are inexhaustible." But you won't exhaust desires by searching; you will exhaust them by experiencing that which  underlies them."

I'm typing this from the book, so I hope I have not missed anything.   There is a bit more so I'll post that under another day.   Of course you don't have to be in a Zen Center to be doing this practise of being with what is, but it does take  discipline to push yourself through your self-created illusions.   

Thank you for reading.

Alice xox

Saturday, October 1, 2011

For the love of yarn

I like to introduce you to Moxie.  She is one of my cat's (we have 2).    This is my knitting basket.     I managed to get a picture of her on her way out..but for a moment she was laying in it..then kneading my yarn..way too cute!!!   First time ever doing this little trick.  Moxie likes to get herself into things..sometime it gets her into trouble.  But this time she did not get into trouble..just a good laugh by me.

As soon as I turned my back from watching her climb out of my basket, I find her in this position.  This girl loves her yarn.  

Alice xox

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Search

Wanted to share some reading I've been doing..this is a book I've had for years:  I plan on sharing some points that I find very powerful, here is the first, hope you find in it meaningful:

"Every moment of our life is a relationship.  There is nothing except relationship.  At this moment my relationship is to the rug, to the room, to my own body, to the sound of my voice.  There is nothing but my being in a relationship at each second.  As as we practice what grows in our life is this first, our realization that there is nothing but being in a relationship to whatever is happening in each moment, and second, our growing commitment to this relationship.  Now that seems simple enough - so what interferes?  What blocks our commitment to a specific human relationship, or to studying, to working, to having a good time? 

Because we don't understand what it means to be in a relationship to the present moment, we search.  What are we searching for? Depending on our particular life, our background and conditioning, what we search for may seem different from one person to another but really we're all looking for an ideal life.  We may define it as an ideal partner, an ideal job, and ideal place to live.   Even if other people's ideals sound very foreign to us, people are sure of what it is they think they have to find.  And they are searching for it".     (to be continued)

 - taken from Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck.

Alice xox

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Summer Vegin

The summer has warmed considerably the last couple of weeks  Wanted to share some more of the lovelies still shinning their beauty:

Here are a combination of yellow onions and shallots, the package called them gourmet onions, being that I have never bought shallots, that's what I'm calling them.

We've had probably 4 of our own cucumbers this summer.  Gave a few away too.  A couple of weeks ago, one of neighbours down the street came by with her little girls to check out the backyard.  The girls had fun seeing the veggies grow.  I gave them each a carrot and a cucumber  to take home.  They were so cute, they began to eat the cucumber like it was a popcicle.  Apparently they love their veggies. I was so impressed.

Green peppers are big, we are just waiting for them to turn red ! 

Sunny Sunflower, I had to get on top of ladder to get this picture.

First time growing gerberas, but did really well, lots of flowers!

These are grapes that my dad had given us many years ago,   We don't make wine with them, but they are good to eat, if we ever have a chance at getting at them before the raccoons.  They are not fully ready yet, but raccoons are making a fine mess of checking them out. 

In the last week or so, since our temps have risen I have started a scarf.   A knitting friend who has written a pattern asked me  to test knit it for her.   I would say I would make a good test knitter because it wouldn't take long for me to find something I don't understand.   The pattern has not been fully completed,  but so far I am  enjoying  working with cables, it's an easy pattern to memorize, but you do need to keep an eye on your row counting.   Sorry, I can't show you a picture of it, or at least I don't think I should !

May summer continue to shine !

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Gentle Art of Knitting

 Got my copy last night from Chapters "The Gentle Art of Knitting" 40 projects inspired by everyday beauty, by Jane Brocket. I've followed her blog for a couple years,great writer, photographer in all sorts of subject, now she's put out a knitting book too. Looking forward to making one of her funky colourful throw pillows..or socks..or pull over etc.

I have been baking biscuits for 3 days in a row.   I can say that I have been baking more in this week than I have in years.  I have also made muffins as well.   This is the blog/blogs that have inspired me Joy the Baker and Shutterbean, they also produce a fun, energetic podcast together. 
I made them a bit thin, but they have been delicious with Jam.  Super easy !!

Look who's got a new perch..Pixie !!   Jim built her a bigger "cat deck" so she wouldn't fall off, it's about 10 ft high.    She get's out through the window and sits perched out high and checks out the local wildlife.   She somehow can jump out the window, but wants us to pick-up her up to get her in..haven't figured that out it..I think she is spoiled ???   Only the best for Pixie..the construction of her "cat deck" is cedar boards.   They had been used elsewhere and now got put to good use.  She loves it !!

Hope all is well with you.

Alice xox

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gone to the beach

This is where I was at today.   White Rock Beach.    Haven't been there in years.   Today I packed a towel and lots of change for parking and off I went this morning.  

One of signs for me being in a happy  place is that  I go to the beach , to the ocean.   I don't necessarily go to lay out in the sun but more for the expansiveness of the ocean and the sand.    I did sit out in my  skimpies for awhile and then ventured out for look about.   Another sign I'm in a happy place is that I enjoy what I eat.   I had not intended to stay there through lunch hour (I didn't really have much plans for the day) I picked a hummus sandwith at a cafe and sat promped on a log and watched the passers by and happily ate my lunch.  

The sun was warm and the ocean breeze was fresh.   I packed my camera too, and hoped to catch some unusual shots but at the end they all looked the same...the ocean.

Love the colour of  this shell.

Bathing beauties

This a retired train station that is used as the local museum.   It's also a great place for souvenirs and local artisans.   This is one of my fav shots of the day, I still don't know what I'm doing with the camera with it's angles and zooms, but it's always a surprise when I see the shots I've  taken.

Close up of the beautiful basket at the stationn

 This was the extent of my body in the water.

 I  stayed into mid afternoon soaked up lots of sun, felt the quiet solitude of the ocean and had some fun chatting with other people hanging out too.   Being outside like that reminds of how vast we really are, and it takes nature to reminds us, we can't be contained in small boxes.

Alice xox

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mad about Madelinetosh

I think this may be the last (for now) of the Pretty Twisted by Cat Wong pattern I am making.  This one I'm keeping for myself. 

This time I  used a DK weight instead of a sock yarn as the previous ones, I really like the look.  Of course the shell buttons with a lacy motif  is such a beautiful effect to finishing.    I took the pictures today and our weather has gone back to being cloudy and cooler and I can see my goosebumps on my arm.  Made me laugh.

Here is a link to info on this pattern if you are interested.    It really feels great on not tight at all  and is a fun accessory.  Give it a try !

Alice xox

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Sweet End

Well here it is July 31 and I must say it's been a well travelled road.  

To write on a blog is easier if you  know people are reading it daily by the comments they leave, but it's another story when doing it solo.   Who or what are you doing for?  It's not like writing in a diary, your intimate personal thoughts (I guess some people do that too) so what purpose is it?   I feel that there are several modes for this outlet.   You are offering inspiring stories, sharing practical everyday accounts,or  promoting a service, this list can be long.    But one of the things about writing is just for the sake of writing. The  ability to have your thoughts free flow and be expressed.   A reader can feel the difference in the energy that it flows from.

I knew that I could stop anytime in the month, it wasn't like there was a blog police checking up on me, and I had told probably 2 other people what I was doing.    But there was a bit of a underlying fear of quitting, or jinxing myself if I did.   Time did fly by.   

I am writing this and then I remember "I haven't taken a picture of anything today to post"  then the pressure of how to take a great inspiring photo sets in.  I`m going to stop now and take one.

Remember the sunflower? , Here it is after almost 3 weeks from the last photo of it, probably won't see The ruler is against it for comparison   Probably won't see a flower till the end of August.  

Thank you everyone who comes to check here regularly,  hope you found  something put a smile on your face.

Alice xox

Saturday, July 30, 2011

They Say it's your Birthday

Can you believe  it, I've just about blogged daily for 30 days straight.    

Tomorrow will be my last day.  

I want to start reading from day 1 and see how it all evolved.  

 I thought I would write more personal stuff, but didn't find myself pulled to do it.   I don't want to read other people's stuff, so I'm certainly not going to write mine.   I did see that the majority of the readers to this blog is from Ravelry, which means knitting enthusiasts, but then you don't want to be reading or writing totally on one subject.   I did discover that writing for 30 days straight in the summer, resulted  in talking about our garden, so I guess depending on the time of year, you will find your interests will guide you in your subject.     I did find taking a photograph challenging, as you can write just about anything, but to take a photograph every day more intimidating.  That's a skill I'm still new at.   I commend the people who do this full time.

Onto a way better subject....look at this pretty thing !

This is  another one of the Pretty Twisted bracelets by Cat Wong, that I made for a friends birthday.   I wasn't sure if this would be something she would like, after all it's quite a unique piece of "jewelry".   I have to say my friend was totally surprised and happy with her gift, which made me so very pleased for  her and for me.   It really looked so pretty on her.   

Till tomorrow.

Alice xox 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tracking Device

Do you remember this :

So...this a.m. Jim's heading out for a hike..I ask him if he has his cuff bracelet I made him..he proceeds to get it.. He's on the road..I phone him..tell him jokingly that I had installed a tracking device on his bracelet..he then asks me "where am I now?" I quickly say "gaglardi way"..dead silence..I was right on..

Alice xox