Weekly Review – “Making a Life”

Weekly Review – “Making a Life”

Yay!  I had some time to prepare a couple of hooked pieces for the wall. I created and attached labels and hanging sleeves to “Time” and “Autumn”.  They are ready to hang!

I started reading ”Making a Life” by Deanne Fitzpatrick the other day.  It is a great little read with lots of wonderful photography of her work.  I think it’s her most readable book yet.  It’s interesting how, over the years, you can see a writer’s skill progress.  This is true of other authors as well as Deanne.  In this book Deanne writes about her life as an artist the past twenty-five years.  She talks about her initial views on art and artists, and how she grew into thinking of herself as an artist and being an artist. A lovely read.

Next up?!  Colour planning my next project!

 

Weekly Review – What’s Next?!

Weekly Review – What’s Next?!

This week was productive.  “Gyeongju “ is finished and up on the wall!  “Time” is also finished. I have to put hanging sleeves on it and “Autumn”. My serger is back from having maintenance done on it, so I’m good to go!

I’m checking my Someday/Maybe list and crossing these projects off.  Time to decide what’s next. I’m tempted to work on “The Weave”. Or maybe “Where are we Going?”. Or “The Bubble”. Or something totally different.

Some people have a shortage of ideas to hook. I’m not one of them!  I have sketchbooks full of ideas.  I think I’ll pick smallish projects I can carry with me this summer – projects I can work on out on the deck, or at the cottage, or at my sisters’.

I have three smallish to medium sized poetry pieces on backing left to complete.  I will pick one and colour plan it.  I’m narrowing things down this weekend…hoping to have made a decision by Monday.

I have been busy since Covid began.  Enjoy this slide show of some of my finished work.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Weekly Review – International Nature Journalling Week

Weekly Review – International Nature Journalling Week

Good morning everyone!  I’m right in the middle of International Nature Journalling Week put on by Bethan Burton and friends. It’s quite good. It’s free, but there has been a request for donations. It’s seven days long with two sessions per day. I’ll have to miss a couple of sessions due to previous commitments, but overall I’ll be able to get the flavour of the week.

In other news, we spent the week in the yard. It’s been the first decent week of weather for planting since last spring. I took advantage of the situation.  All our seedlings are in the ground, and a good deal of seeds.

I’m having incredible luck with growing from seeds down here!  Everything seems to grow!  I gave a third of my tomato plants to one friend, and another third to another friend. Same with pepper and oregano plants. I still had twelve tomato plants of three different varieties to plant!  I had six  or seven pepper plants of three different varieties. Plus, leeks, onions, peas, Swiss chard, kale, two kinds of beets, radishes, lettuce, squash, zucchini, cucumber, turnip, carrots, and much more.

My pots and raised beds are going to be overflowing. We had too many tomato plants, so we planted them and the remaining marigolds in the perennial bed.  We’ll see how they do in the part shade.

The weather has been gorgeous, for the most part. I’m spending a fair bit of time on the deck, relaxing.  When I’m not pulling weeds. We have a severe goutweed problem here. So we’re busy dealing with that. We back onto a Municipal green space that has become infested. It’s spreading into our flower beds.

Well, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Weekly Review – Museum Hanging System

Weekly Review – Museum Hanging System

This week was a week of moving forward on various projects.

I finished spinning an alpaca fibre I acquired from a lady out in Regina, Saskatchewan many years ago (thank-you Sharon!).  It’s a beautiful soft yarn, and I haven’t processed it yet!  This yarn will be used for knitting.

In the process of cleaning up my studio last week I found my old doll.  It’s over 50 years old!   It needs new clothes.  I believe the last time I sewed for her was in the 1980s, and it was just a pajama top and panties set.  This time she’s going to sport a coordinating sailor dress, panties and bonnet in various patterns of hot pink!  The sewing pattern is decided and cut.  Today I plan to do some sewing.

In the rug hooking arena I dyed more purple wool fabric to finish hooking the border on “Gyeongju”.  I figure I have 6-8 hours of hooking left to do.  Then it’s onto blocking and hemming the edges.  I have to decide what kind of hanging system to use with it.  It’s a pretty heavy piece, so I may take the time to make a full museum quality hanging system.

What’s that? You ask?

Well, I take a strip of thin wood (check out the trim section of your lumber store), cut it to length, and shellac it.  Then I staple hook and loop tape to it – the hook side.   I sew the loop side to the top of the rug.  I drill a couple of holes either end of the trim…right through the hook and loop tape.  I screw it to the wall where I want to hang the piece, making sure it’s level.  Then I just push the loop part of the tape onto the hook part, making fine adjustments as I go to make sure the rug is hanging level.

It is a time consuming way to hang a rug, and is not cheap.   But it’s the best system I’ve seen for big heavy rugs like mine in the long run.

Well, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Studio Organization

Studio Organization

Hi everyone!  This past week has been a busy week spent trying to get my studio in order. It was much worse than I thought!  We had initially bought furniture to fit the space as measured by a laser measure.  Well the laser measure was wrong – it was out by 1-2 feet. So I had furniture positioned at right angles going into the room.  But this week I took another look. I measured the room again and drew up an “as is” plan.


Then I took some photos to post online for some of my friends and see what could be done. Here’s the job half done on Wednesday.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I posted a video for some online friends to give input on the situation and decided to measure up furniture to see what could be done.

In the end Hubby came down and  moved some boxes of scrapbook memorabilia and old journals upstairs for me to sort through later.  I still have wall hangings I’d like to hang on the wall, mending to do, a project box to sort, and a doll to dress!  But first I have to sew her clothes!  Here is a video of where I’m currently at with the studio.

Studio Update

If you have been, thanks for reading!  Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

It’s been a busy week for me. In between rug hooking, yard cleanup, sewing and gardening, there’s also been nature journaling. I’m really enjoying learning more about observing and recording nature, even though I struggle with the scientific end of it…primarily thinking of questions to ask about my observations. But, the drawing practice is invaluable!

I spent some time watching YouTube videos by John Muir Laws on nature journaling.  He uses coloured pencils outdoors.  Because I’ve been working from photographs indoors, I’ve been using watercolours.  You can use either in either location.  But I’m thinking I could use a greater variety of journals, at a more affordable price, if I learned to use coloured pencils properly.  So I put an order into Michaels craft store for curbside pickup of a few pencils and a case to hold them.

Here are more watercolour pages in my nature journal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In other news, I finally finished the last project for the L.L. Bean shirts that belonged to my dad when he passed away three years ago.  Dad loved L.L. Bean clothes – their shirts in particular.  He had white hair and blue eyes. He could wear just about any colour, and did!  The bright orange nylon one became a cushion cover for his widow. The rest I took and sewed into various projects – one for each descendant.  You can find “The Shirt Project” video here .

While all of the projects but one were finished within a few months of Dad’s death, one project in particular was vexing. One of my nephews wanted a knife sheath for a jackknife. The shirts just aren’t built for that. But I happened to have some tanned moose hide, so thought I’d try. Then we had to focus on moving. It wasn’t till last fall that I picked up the project again. I broke many needles and couldn’t sew the moose hide on my home machine, even with leather needles. So, after consultation with my nephew, I sewed this alternative gift. Here’s the final project for my last nephew.

Hubby and I also put together a raised garden bed to run along the side of our raised deck.  We traded our deformed cedar we had to have cut down (it was growing in power lines) for some milled lumber leftover from a neighbour.


We also put together a Muskoka Bear chair, which is really a type of Adirondack chair.  Hubby is working on the matching chair now.  It came in pieces.  Hubby sanded it, painted it and assembled it.  The colour is Aruba Blue by Benjamin Moore, and I just love it!

Well, if you have been, thanks for reading!  I hope you all have a wonderful, productive weekend.  Take care.

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Good afternoon everyone!  I worked hard this week and finally finished off the Sketchbook Revival 2021 lessons I wanted to do. This week there were classes in printmaking, mark making to loosen up, character design, costume design, collage, watercolour and nature journaling. I was enamoured with the nature journaling and think I’ll do more of that.

To that end I ordered two books: John Muir Law’s “Nature Drawing and Journaling” and Clare Leslie’s and Charles Roth’s “Keeping a Nature Journal”. Our library had multiple holds on both books, so I decided to buy them.

Here’s a slide show of finished work from the second half of Sketchbook Revival 2021.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In other news…

I hooked quite a bit on the border of “Gyeongju” (the South Korean roof tile end caps rug).  Still have a lot more to go.

Hubby and I also took a day off and went with a friend for a drive out on Digby Neck here in Nova Scotia.  We meandered around, taking the scenic route on the way there.   My imagination wasn’t captured until we got out of the car at the wharf in Delaps Cove.  I was mesmerized by the age of the wharf, how battered it was, the rusty spikes and bolts holding it together, the huge granite boulders that made up the breakwater, and, of course, the fish shacks.  I took a lot of photos and endured quite a bit of teasing for doing so!

But that was just the beginning for me.  I requested we stop at the wharf in Parker’s Cove on the way back.  Once again I took lots of photos.  Our friend, from a fishing family, was having a good chuckle at me taking pictures of rope.  But you know, I’ll say here what I said to her – every good original design starts with a good photo.  I will probably get one or two pieces out of all those photos…and that’s okay.

If you have been, thanks for reading.  Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Weekly Review – Dyeing Nylons

Weekly Review – Dyeing Nylons

Hi everyone!  This week was about hooking more on my Workshop Week courses, and dyeing nylons.

I am done the abstracts from Donna Mulholland’s class.  I’m finished the tote bag from Beth Miller’s class.  I’m about halfway done the hourglass wall hanging from Nadine Flagel’s class.  I still have the Fraktur chair pad from Susan Feller’s class to hook.

I had a great follow up Zoom session with Nadine Flagel yesterday. She  confirmed some of my thoughts about the hourglass piece.  I made some changes already, but have more to go.  I have to be careful because I don’t want the finished piece to be overdone.   I want to embellish the sand with beads and embroider some orange flowering vines up the brown hourglass supports.

But onto nylons…

Why dye nylons?  How do you use them?  Well I use mine for added texture in my rug hooking.  I think it’s a good way to recycle them and keep them from the landfill.  I also find a pair of nylons goes a long way. If I cut in a spiral down the leg, and pull taut, so it forms a rope, I end up with a small ball of nylon “yarn” I can hook with, and have fewer ends.

Nylons have a long history in rug hooking. The Grenfell Mission rugs were hooked in straight rows with “silk stockings”, the precursor to nylons. Now, imitators of that style of rug hooking use…you guessed it…nylons.

Today I’ve invited a couple of friends over to watch me strip colour out of  nylons and dye them.  I strip the colour out using RIT colour remover following the package directions.  Then I dye them with acid dyes.  My favourite dyeing techniques for nylon are just a solid one colour in the dye pot type dye job, and spot dyeing.  By Monday I’ll have something pretty to show you!

If you have been reading, thanks!  Have a great weekend!

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

So after looking at my project mind map Monday, how did I do this week? Well, as you can see from the above photo, I’ve removed some of the hooking on “Autumn” to correct a composition error.  

I also took the second session of Beth Miller’s class on hooking a tote bag and finished my project bag. It was a fun class and it was interesting to do something a bit different with my hooking, rather than making another piece to hang on the wall. I really enjoyed this class.

I also worked more on the hourglass for “Time”, a poem my youngest daughter wrote when she was 11 years old. I plan on adding embellishments to this piece. And I will be attaching the poem, on a label, to the back of the wall hanging. This project is for Nadine Flagel’s class.

I have pressed and pinned my abstract pieces from Donna Mulholland’s class. I plan to hem those today.

That leaves the chair pads from Susan Feller’s class to do. Tomorrow I’ll be dyeing fibre for those. I plan on dip dyeing some coral/pink for carnations. I may need more blues for “Time” as well.

Next up after the first chair pad is to finish my South Korean rug. It’s been sitting around far too long. I started it last January 2020. Then I bought a house and furniture and decorating and well, lots of time with family (when Covid let us) and on artist retreats…it was a great year in a lot of ways, but I didn’t work much on the South Korea rug.

Thankfully, come last October, Karen Miller’s first Workshop Week gave me a bit of a wake up call to get hooking again. It’s been slow over winter. Mostly I’ve been playing with finishing class projects and organizing my studio so I can actually get in there to work! I have entirely too much stuff there still.

I have, however, been sketching new designs. Hopefully this year I’ll get to those. I find large projects bog me down. This South Korean End Cap Tiles rug is large for me.

 

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Good morning everyone!  It’s been a busy week for me. I’ve been working on Workshop Week 2 projects.

Monday I focused on the market tote bag from Beth Miller’s class. I finished hooking the mandala on the first side. Tuesday I started the second mandala.  By Thursday I finished it.  Now I’m looking forward to the next session to sew the tote bag up.

Monday I also worked on designing my fraktur chair pad. I had a video/text meeting with Susan Feller to help with the design. I was having problems with the placement of one element – a bud. Thankfully she knew just how to fix the problem. Basically it was an issue with balance – there were simply too many elements on one side of the stem of my carnation pattern. I was glad she could make the time to help me.  I quickly sketched the new design properly and put it on backing.  In the process of sketching the design I used colour pencils to determine colour placement. I don’t normally do my colour planning like that, but in this case it helped a lot!

Tuesday morning I worked on a design for Nadine Flagel’s class – Text to Textile.  I decided to use the hourglass shape and focus on the phrase “time to grow” in my daughter’s poem. This wall hanging will have beads on it, and, if my hands can handle it, embroidery.

Thursday I came in late to Beth Miller’s Parris House Zoom hook-in.  I had a good time listening to everyone chat while I finished hooking the mandalas for the tote bag.  I cleaned up from that project and started the hourglass pattern.

Today is Lunar New Year and we will spend time chatting with our Asian friends.  I also hope to make more progress on the hourglass pattern.

I decided this week it was time to get an overview of unfinished projects, or “planned but not started” projects.  So I created a mind map of different types of projects that need finishing.  It’s a bit disconcerting, but also a relief to have them all on paper.  I can see where I’m going with them now.  Most of them have some progress, I just need to focus on them one by one and finish them!  But that discussion is for another blog post.

If you have been reading, thanks!  Have a great weekend!

 

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

This week my emphasis was on sewing new blackout curtains for our master bedroom. It faces the street and there is a street light right out front of the house. I finished all but the hemming by Wednesday night. They have to hang a while before I attempt to hem them.

I did start in on fixing the hand quilting on the 44 year old quilt, but the damage is more extensive than I thought. This is going to take some time to fix.

Tuesday we ended up running errands. Thursday I spent preparing for next week’s Workshop Week 2 through In The Studio, and organizing items to be framed. I took all of my needlework to the framer. I only wanted three pieces done at the moment, but I wanted her opinion on the others. She was very generous with her time and expertise. I have a better idea how to handle my items now. I’m going to cull them further to see how much I really want done.

I still want to finish the South Korea sketches, the South Korean rug, and my Autumn wall hanging. I haven’t decided how I’m going to hook the corner yet.

This week we had a number of health checks that took up time. Plus I go walking for an hour every morning with a walking buddy in my Covid bubble. Next week will be rug hooking time! I’m looking forward to Workshop Week 2!

If you have been, thanks for reading everyone! Have a great weekend!

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Not much happening here these days. I’m busy binding a quilt. It is giving me no end of problems on the corners. A friend offered to do it for me. I am debating it. It would be the first project I’ve ever given to someone else to complete! I’m hesitant to do so.

I had an email exchange with a framer this week. I’ve been trying to find one who does lacing or uses brass pins for framing fine needlework on linen. I found a lady who will lace small pieces only. So next week I will be taking three small pieces in to her. Two are Hardanger embroidery pieces and one is a free style embroidery piece. I have a lot more that needs framing, but these are a start. I’m trying to frame or hang finished work here. I have a lot in boxes and bags still.


That’s it for this week in the fibre department! If you’ve been reading, thanks! Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Oops!  I’m Late!

Oops! I’m Late!

I promised y’all a post on Friday, and here it is Saturday evening!  I’ve been busy and wiped by turn. This past week has been busy.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook will have seen the cushion covers I finished this week.  I knit the cream coloured ones as the front and back of a pullover sweater for myself. They are from Handcrafter Cotton. I had to resize the sweater to fit, and design my own sleeve pattern. That’s where I stopped many years ago.  So I decided enough is enough. I did not want to finish the sweater and I liked the colour to go in my living room.  Into two cushion covers it went!  A friend gave me some fabric for backing.

What really started me going was the desire to finish the cushion covers from the pieces I knit last January (2020). This yarn is a gorgeous soft bamboo.  I used the same fabric to back these as the previous cushions.

Having finished cushions, I turned my eye towards rug hooking. I watched Tracy Jamar’s retrospective of her work over the last twenty years and really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed my time with Donna Mulholland and the other ladies on Thursday.

I finished “Autumn” while on Zoom with Donna, et al, but I’m not showing it here until I’m satisfied with it. If you want to see it in its current condition you’ll have to check Jean Ottosen Studios on Instagram or Facebook.  I’m not happy with it and plan to change it until I am.

I then turned to home reorganization and decluttering.  A friend came over Friday afternoon and evening to help. She has very good spatial sense. I was impressed. I’ve only had to change a few things since she left.

Today I went for a walk with my walking buddy. We just started walking regularly this week. It’s been very good for me.  I hope it is for her too.

I’ve also been exploring new recipes with my new Instant Pot. It’s been illuminating, and yummy!

Well,, that’s been my week in a nutshell.  I didn’t get everything done I wanted to, but I did finish the cushion project. One baby step at a time!

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Well I did not accomplish any crafting this week. I did accomplish a lot of decluttering and reorganizing. Mostly in the kitchen.

Today we ran errands in the morning and had a meeting in the afternoon. Then off to pick up a 2×4 from some friends in our bubble. Of course that meant tea. I love tea with friends!

What did we want with one 2×4? The 2×4 was cut down this evening to make one spice stand in the kitchen cupboard. Tomorrow we’ll do the second one.

This all started when the square glass spice bottles I ordered from ULine arrived today. I spent the evening transferring spices from plastic bags to jars. I often cook with spices, using them instead of salt and pepper in my food. I also cook a wide variety of food. I love cooking! There were close to forty different spices to make room for in that cupboard.

The 2×4 was cut to fit the width of the cupboard and laid flat about an inch from the back of the cupboard. Then another piece was laid flat on top of it, but pushed back to the back of the cupboard. About 2/3 of it resting on the 2×4 piece below. It created a step like situation on which to set spice jars.

This is a very temporary situation until we have our kitchen renovated, which we hope will happen this year. It’s better than the previous situation, which was having a hiking boot box full of spices spilling out onto the countertop!

Here’s to tomorrow. May I get the second shelf done and then work on moving my dye equipment and supplies upstairs!

Merry Christmas !

Merry Christmas !

A busy week visiting within our Covid bubble. Exchanging cookies and gifting a pie to the neighbour. Baking…and baking….

The cookie exchange cookies disappeared quickly. I made Hubby some of my version of the mini brownies from the store – just to keep him out of the cookies! The recipe is from an old website of an old acquaintance. I can’t find it online now. So here is the recipe for Bernadette’s Brownies.

Bernadette’s Brownies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the sugar and shortening in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add remaining ingredients and blend till smooth. Either pour into a greased 8×8” pan or divide into 24 mini muffin pans with one side foil cupcake liners. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Bernadette’s Brownies

I made more Danish Butter Cookies. This time I made the Almond-Cherry Cookies. I also made an orange flavoured cookie dipped in semi sweet chocolate. Only I didn’t have any oranges for rind, so I grated up some clementine rind. Now that’s tricky business! Clementine rind is thin!

Chocolate Dipped Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, unsalted and softened
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons grated orange peel (I used clementines)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl press flour into butter to blend. Okay, this is where I gave up initially. I washed my hands and used my fingers to break up the clumps of butter and mix it with the flour. Much easier and quicker.

Add sugar, orange peel, and egg. Stir until a stiff dough forms. You can refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes at this point if it’s too soft to roll. Otherwise, roll it between two pieces of wax paper to approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 1 x 2” bars. Place 1” apart on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool. Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second increments. Be sure to stir between microwave sessions. Dip cookies halfway in melted chocolate. Place on wax paper to cool and harden the chocolate completely Makes 30-40 cookies.

Chocolate Dipped Cookies

I also made my Ninety Minute Rolls from “Dining on a Dime” cookbook. Only I use a different method. If you feel brave enough to take on yeast, read on!

Ninety Minute Rolls (modified)

  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast (one package)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted

Mix flour and yeast together in big bowl. put sugar, salt, and butter in smaller bowl. Heat water and milk to lukewarm, either on the stove or in the microwave. Add lukewarm water and milk to salt, sugar and butter. Stir with wooden spoon till butter is melted and the salt and sugar have dissolved (doesn’t feel gritty under the spoon).

Stir liquid ingredients into dry. Stir till dough forms. Knead a few seconds till everything holds together. Place a dishtowel over it and let sit 10 minutes. Then knead on oiled or floured surface (depending how tough the dough is) 20 minutes.

Let rise 15 minutes, or till double in size, in a warm draft free place with a dishtowel overtop. Punch down and divide evenly into roll size amounts. This should make 8 or 9 rolls (I often quadruple this recipe). Place formed and pinched rolls into 8×8” lightly greased pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

Ninety Minute Rolls

I wrote on Monday that I’d made tortiere for the Holiday season. We often serve it Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. My recipe makes enough for both days for 4 people. I have modified the recipe by using my ex-sister-on-law’s pastry for the crust.

So here are the recipes for both. As you can see from the size of the pastry recipe, it’s a good idea to set aside a whole day for the pastry and make pies and tortiere at the same time.

Shirley’s Pastry

  • 1 pound vegetable shortening (or lard!)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon salt (this could be cut in half)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening until smaller than pea size. In a one cup measuring cup mix egg and vinegar. Add cold water to make one cup. Mix into dry ingredients. Shape into balls to roll out between sheets of waxed paper for pie crusts. Makes enough pastry for four double crust pies, or several tortiere!

Tortiere

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs, finely chopped (I use my food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • One recipe Shirley’s pastry, or enough pastry for two deep double crust pies.

Put oil in a large pan over low heat. Add all ingredients but pastry. Mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes. Cool. Line 2 – 8×8” pans with pastry. Divide meat filling between them. Cover with pastry, seal, and prick with a fork to allow steam to escape. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes.

That’s it for my Christmas post everyone! Have a great Holiday Season and Merry Christmas!

Christmas Preparations

Christmas Preparations

Hello all! Christmas preparations are underway here. I am busy cooking for the freezer. Yesterday I had Hubby’s help in making a huge pot of Hearty Salmon Chowder from Anne Lindsay’s “Lighthearted Everyday Cooking”. We had some for supper and froze the rest

Hearty Salmon Chowder

I made cranberry sauce yesterday, using a long time favourite recipe from “From Old Nova Scotia Kitchens”, modified, of course. Cranberry sauce was one of the items requested for Christmas Day dinner and I am happy to oblige.

Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce (modified)

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Put this all in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Boil hard for 3-5 minutes. Then pour into sterilized cup canning jars. Makes 2-3 cups.

Lemon Tea Loaf

I also made another lemon loaf, just so I could take photos and share the recipe with you, my readers. Well, okay, it was so we could enjoy it too! Here is the slightly modified recipe. The original is from Anne Lindsay’s original “Lighthearted Everyday Cooking”.

Lemon Loaf (modified)

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Rind of one lemon

Prepare pan by lining sides and bottom with tin foil, shiny side up, and lightly greasing with butter. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg and yogurt and mix well. Add milk and mix well. Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir into egg mixture. Add grated rind. Pour into a prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Remove from oven. Leave in pan. Let cool 3-5 minutes. Mix juice of one lemon with 1/4 cup sugar. Spoon over top of loaf evenly. Let sit till until lemon juice and sugar soak in a bit. Then lift from pan, peel off tin foil, slice, and serve.

Aside from that this week has been busy with arranging a safe way to acquire Christmas gifts and devising safe ways to give. Tis the season for online e-gift cards folks!

Talk to you all on Monday!

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Well my creative weekly review is short and sweet today. I didn’t do anything creative. I decided to take a break and deal with some things we’ve been putting off since our move. We’re working on organizing finances, rewriting wills, stocking the freezers for winter, and enjoying the season by using technology to visit with friends and family.

The Christmas season is in full swing here. I was helping a friend decorate her Christmas tree Monday, and I’ll be helping the second friend decorate later this afternoon. I mailed my first batch of cards this week, and hope to mail another batch today.

I did bake one batch of Danish butter cookies. I split it into four parts and made two parts Finnish nut logs, one part cherry topped butter cookies, and the last part apricot jam filled butter cookies. I put half in the freezer for our two person cookie exchange, and then Hubby and I ate the rest! Granted it was about 12-18 small cookies, but still! I promised Hubby I’d make him more before Christmas.

Danish Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1-2 tsp. Water, if needed
  • 2 1/2 cup flour

Put everything but water in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Mix until it forms a smooth, pliable dough. If dry, add water. Gather dough into a ball and knead briefly. Can be refrigerated up to one week.

Now for the fun! You can make different types of cookies with this basic dough! I make:

  • Finnish nut logs which are this dough rolled into ropes and dipped in beaten egg before being dipped in a mix 1/4 cup almonds to 2 Tbsp. sugar. Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes.
  • Raspberry Ribbons where you make a rope, press an indentation down the centre, bake 10 minutes, fill with raspberry jam and bake another 5-10 minutes. When cool you drizzle them with 1/2 cup icing sugar to 2 Tbsp. milk.
  • Cherry cookies. Make 1” balls and place on baking sheet. Just cut maraschino cherries in half and push a half into the centre of each cookie. You could also push a whole almond in instead. And you could add 1 tsp. almond extract with the teaspoon of vanilla extract when you make the dough.
  • Apricot cookies. Form 1” balls. Dip in beaten egg, followed by a mixture of 1/4 cup chopped almonds and 2 tablespoons sugar. Press an indentation in the middle of the top with your finger. Bake 10 minutes. Then spoon in apricot jam. Bake another 5 – 10 minutes.
  • There are other options. These are some from “Scandinavian Cooking” by Beatrice Ojakangas, an old cookbook in my possession. I combined several to create the Apricot cookie recipe.

Enjoy the cookies!

It’s Looking more Like Christmas!

It’s Looking more Like Christmas!

We had a couple of friends in our small Covid-19 bubble come over to help decorate our home for Christmas. They did a lovely job! I provided some food, as did they, and we went from 3 PM to 7 PM one day working on it. We capped the evening with a challenging but fun game of Scrabble.

I posted some of my Christmas ornaments for sale on Instagram and Facebook. Reach out to me through my contact page here on the website, my Facebook page, or my Instagram account if you’re interested. I’m known as Jean Ottosen Studios on IG and FB. I’ve sold several ornaments and have more to sell.

The 3 1/2” diameter round burgundy and gold ornaments are $15 CAD plus shipping and handling. They are lined with burgundy wool flannel and hung with a gold silk ribbon. They come in a gold star or circle pattern.

The star ornaments are 4” square, lined with quilting cotton, and hang from a red silk ribbon. These stars are a brighter colourway. They are sure to liven up your tree or decor. These are $20 CAD each, plus shipping and handling. There are five different types left, the sixth type, red star on green background, having sold out.

The five types left are:

  • Yellow star on red background,
  • Yellow on green,
  • Green on red,
  • Red on yellow, and
  • Green on yellow.

There are also larger 6” stars designed to be hung on walls or in archways. The ones designed for archways are lined with quilting cotton and have a silk hanging ribbon.

The ones designed for the wall come with a hanging sleeve, dowel and cup hooks with which to hang them. When hung properly the hanging system is hidden behind the wall hanging, giving the feeling that it is floating on the wall. These wall hangings look good hung in groups of three.

If you want them for this Christmas order soon to avoid disappointment!

If you’ve been reading, thanks!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  

 

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

I’ve had an enjoyable week with family and friends, albeit most of it long distance due to Covid restrictions. Our area of Nova Scotia is restricted to our five person bubbles right now. We included a couple of friends in our bubble. Wednesday both friends were over and we sewed and visited. It was a great opportunity for me to make headway on some projects.

I’ve had a challenging week with projects. You know how sometimes a project just eats up your time and you feel as if nothing was accomplished at the end of the day? Well the moose cushion cover has been one such project. It should have been a quick and easy project, but it hasn’t been. The machine appliqué stitch I used has been a bear to rip out. It needed ripping because the tension on my sewing machine went wonky last week. I finally sat down and dealt with it. I had also accidentally ripped the Black Watch plaid back of the cushion cover while ripping out the side seam of the cushion cover. I found a suitable patch for that. That is one project I am going to be glad to have finished!

I have also been hand sewing the binding of the Trip-Around-The-World quilt. I’m looking forward to finishing it and enjoying it on our bed.

This past weekend was taken up with other activities. Christmas is fast approaching. We, like a lot of people, are used to more social gatherings this time of year. Covid is putting an interesting twist on things. We are still having a tree decorating party, only this year it’s a house decorating party. I think we’re having at least one other person over. I also have a small cookie exchange plan in progress for closer to Christmas…with the same individual.

I am lamenting the state of my Christmas home decor. It is a mishmash of items that do not coordinate. I don’t know what I was thinking when I packed it to move! I think there will be some serious decisions made this holiday season in regards to what stays, what goes, and what comes into the house.

Well, that’s it for now. If you’ve been reading, thanks! I hope you all have a great week! Till Friday…Jean

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Lots happened this week. We finally received our upright freezer – only four months after ordering it. I now have a small fridge freezer, a small chest freezer, and a medium size upright freezer. That has got to be enough for two people! I started filling and rearranging them this week.

I also finished sewing the hanging sleeves on the quilt. We went shopping for a curtain rod to hang it from. It’s more like a cafe rod. The quilt will be at the top of the bed by tonight.

I’m almost finished “Autumn”. I have just a bit of hooking to do around the letters on one side of the wall hanging. Then it’s onto finishing.

I struggled greatly and have the binding sewn onto one side of the Trip-Around-The-World quilt. I’ve pinned it down the whole way around the other side, ready for hand stitching. The quilt itself is not square, so it looks dreadful from the front. But then I remind myself I was only 17 when I started it, and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. It was a major learning experience.

I almost finished my nephew’s cushion cover when my sewing machine went wonky. The tension is totally whacked. I took the threading out and rethreaded the entire thing. Crossing my fingers it works. Today is the day to try it again. I hope it does work, because I have another face mask order to fill!

If you have been reading, thanks! Have a great weekend everyone!

“The Best Laid Plans…

“The Best Laid Plans…

Of mice and men often go awry.” (Robert Burns, adapted from “To A Mouse”) .

You know I planned all that sewing and rug hooking this week. Well, we had a wee surprise. A good friend out west lost her job and is struggling emotionally right now. She booked a one way ticket to Halifax to visit us without consulting us in advance.

She is not native to Canada and her grasp of English is not great. She has never lost a job before and is down because of it. We explained the Atlantic Bubble and that she’d have to do 2 weeks quarantine in the basement. We had to phone our doctor, the local 811 Covid-19 line, and check a few websites to see what is required.

Out of an abundance of caution my hubby and I have decided to self isolate at the same time as her…just in case. She arrives next weekend.

So instead of sewing and rug hooking I’ve been running around town with Hubby buying stuff to make our basement suitable for self sufficient living. We bought a small freezer because our upright one hasn’t arrived yet. We’re looking at purchasing a mini fridge, microwave and kettle as well. It’s going to be Air BnB status by the time we’re done! 😂

Because there’s no closet in the guest room we spent an entire morning in IKEA trying to find something suitable. Hubby spent yesterday afternoon and this morning building it. Looks great!

I’ve been listing items for sale on Kijiji. I may list elsewhere. I’m getting little to no response there.

To complicate matters we already had company planned for the weekend our friend decided to come. So we quickly talked to them and they, thankfully, adjusted their plans to miss her. We still have a couple of dinner engagements to bow out of during the quarantine time.

We’ll be rearranging our home to make room for her. I won’t have access to my studio for 2 weeks, as it’s in the basement. So my iMac and rug hooking will have to come upstairs. Hubby and I are trying to figure out where to put things.

My other friends and family members are not impressed. But I understand our friend needs a place to heal right now.

In sewing news, I’ve started the face masks. They are looking good. I hope to be finished by Monday.

In rug hooking news, I’ve started hooking the letters in the Autumn wall hanging from Beth Miller’s Workshop Week class. It’s slow going.

That’s it folks! Thanks for reading. 😊 Jean

Weekly Review – In The Studio Workshop Week

Weekly Review – In The Studio Workshop Week

Hi everyone!  It’s been an exciting week full of learning, struggle, and fun.  I took three very different classes during the In The Studio Workshop Week, and was impressed with all of them.  I took Karen Miller’s Travel Design course and came away with more ideas for my South Korean mats.

I was hesitant to take Beth Miller’s Here and Now Words and Fibre course because I don’t really read poetry, much less write it. But she was very flexible and forgiving.  I wondered if I could use it with my children’s poetry and after her approval I gave it a try. I found a “here and now” image that means a lot to me. It’s the view out our living room window about a week ago, with trees blazing set off against a bright blue sky, and my favourite cup of tea on the table, waiting for me to sit down to surf the Net on my iPad or read a book.  I was surprised by how quickly this piece came together and how fast I was able to hook it.

Yesterday I stretched myself.  I took Meryl Cook’s class.  It was hard but good for me. I am a very practical person.  Meryl’s class caused us to look deep inside ourselves for design ideas.  I have Meryl’s book and I’m working more from it after the class. I was not Meryl’s star student I’m afraid. Sorry Meryl. The class was great for getting me thinking though.  I love learning about the different approaches people take to rug hooking!  It is energizing to be around other rug hookers learning something new.

Wednesday evening was a great hook in with some lovely ladies. Friday night was the final panel discussion.  I loved all the links and resources that came from the week.

I understand Karen Miller will be organizing another Workshop Week in the future.  I plan on being there.  It was a great week ladies!  Thank-you to all the teachers and others who made it possible.

 

Studio Makeover

Studio Makeover

Hi everyone!  I thought I’d do an update on the studio makeover. The main part of my studio is ready.  However we are storing stuff in it until the basement guest room cum family room cum classroom is completed.  The paint is drying as I type!

I’ve been working in my new studio, enjoying it for a couple of months now.  It has been a great space to work!  I have projects strewn everywhere. I could wish for improved lighting still.  But the LED overhead lights are a great start.  I wish I had some kind of track lighting to light up my gallery walls.  I have two gallery walls at the moment, and hope to have a third before too long.

Check out my current photos. It’s a bit messy because of all the work going on here, but it functions for me.  That is good!

My current projects are:

  1. an appliquéd moose wall hanging or cushion cover for my nephew, in memory of his grandfather.  I’m not sure which will be better for him.
  2. Fixing a hand quilted quilt I started when I was seventeen.  We won’t say how long ago that was!
  3. Dyeing the border colors for my South Korean roof tile end caps wall hanging,
  4. preparing for Workshop Week next week, and
  5. getting the guest room stuff out of my studio!

Hoping to get considerable movement done on these in the next couple of weeks.

 

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Happy Friday everyone!  This week was short, but productive. I’ve been busy reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I wrote down everything I had in my mind that needed doing, then created a project list from the things I needed to focus on, and then a next actions list for the list of things to do.  I’m swamped!  I’m also loving it!  But I can’t take on anymore.

I’ve also been working on my South Korean roof tile end cap wall hanging. It’s slow going, but looking better these days. A friend was over to help me pick out fibre for the border. I will be doing some dyeing and overdyeing.

We also went through the poetry wall hangings I want to hook. They are on backing and ready to go.  I just have to finish this South Korean wall hanging and swing back to them for awhile.

I’m still sketching the South Korean designs in my sketchbook. Lots to do yet. Plus I’m still working through Meryl Cook’s “The Creativity Workbook”.   I’m enjoying the inspiration of the fall colours around me.

I’ve been listening to Cindi Gay’s rug hooking podcasts while hooking or afterwards.  She is a very wise lady full of all kinds of knowledge about rug hooking.  I don’t hook the primitive style, but I still learn from her.  Thanks for doing the podcasts Cindi!

The last week of October will be a busy week.  The In My Studio Workshop Week is on then.  I have a Travel class with Karen Miller, a Words and Images class with Elizabeth Miller, and Intuitive Hooking with Meryl Cook.  There will also be a group hook-in and a panel discussion  I’m looking forward to stepping outside my comfort zone to learn more from these talented teachers and others.

If you’re interested in taking classes I believe there are a few openings left.  Contact Karen D. Miller on Facebook and check into the events she is hosting.

If you’ve been reading, thanks!  Have a great weekend!