Friday, November 27, 2015

Something to sit on

A few weeks ago, I bought a bunch of upholstery samples at the thrift store.
Since none of them matched each other, I couldn't use them for bags. But I did think they would work well as pillows, or maybe as a large floor-sitter. I sewed eight of them together, four for each side, and Mr. Fixit bought a 30-inch piece of 3-inch thick foam for stuffing. We had to trim it a bit, but the two of us managed to get the foam into the pillow sleeve. I sewed up the last end by hand, after vacuuming the bits of foam off Mr. Fixit. (They like to cling.)

Here is Dewey trying it out.
I stood the pillow up against the love seat so you get an idea of the size.
Not bad for $2 for fabric (and $12 for foam).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Blessings Edition

1.What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel like it's too late to learn?

Driving, I guess. I gave it a few tries, but it just wasn't going to happen.

2. Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?

Shoes. I have strange-shaped feet that are happiest in something comfortable, but I don't want to feel like I'm wearing Grandma's shoes either. When I do find a pair that fits, I wear them into the ground rather than have to go back before, maybe, the decade is up.

3. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?

Canadian Thanksgiving is in October and I don't think it's changed much. Church, food, usually good weather. But we never heard of Black Friday in November until a few years ago.

4. What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of you? Explain.

That's probably a better question to ask the other people! Maybe old books?

But I did have a couple of friends tell me that they liked my kitchen gewgaws, the jars and spice containers with names on them.  I've had some of those containers for a long time (Jam 'n Jelly was my great-grandmother's), but every so often I find a new one. The chicken jugs are marked as measuring cups.

5. If you could guest star in a TV show, what would it be and why?

I would avoid it like, um, shoe shopping. I hate being filmed.

6. Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from a roadside stand or farm shop? 

 I once spent several days living in a pup tent at the Canadian branch of The Farm, in Eastern Ontario. If you know anything about the vegetarian food scene of the 1970's, The Farm in Tennessee was a big deal in the popularization of soy foods, and they also had a Canadian entity. By the time I visited in the 1980's (with a group of international students), there were only a few people left living there, but they were still making tofu and selling soy ice cream. I helped make the largest batch of tofu I've ever seen; I wish I still had the pictures.

 I live in the city, but it's only a few minutes out of town to farm country, and we have farmer's markets as well. We're most likely to stop and buy apples, because farm apples are so much better than supermarket ones.

7. What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?

Miracles, literal ones, happening in the lives of people around me; but I can't tell those stories, they belong to other people.

 Little things that come together in ways you don't expect.

 The first real snow here this week, while it's still beautiful and not just a reason to have to wear boots.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

I'll ask a question back, for anyone visiting: do you still bake the same holiday things, or the same amounts, that you did years ago? So many people have changed their diets for one reason or another, or there just aren't as many of us's fun to think of making a lot of cookies and things, but then you have to have a reason to eat them. Is this ever a problem for you?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Frugal and fun: quilted Dayrunner cover

Two years ago I bought a brand-new, black, zippered Dayrunner (the 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch size) at a church rummage sale. I was happy to find it, but after all this time I was getting bored with the black cover. But I hadn't seen any prettier ones at the thrift store, and I didn't know how you would go about putting a handmade cover around the binder hardware and the zipper.

Today's Handmade Holidays post at Sew Mama Sew linked to this Composition Notebook Cover from Amanda of  Jedi Craft Girl for Riley Blake Designs. I decided to make one, not really thinking of my Dayrunner but just wanting to use some fabric that had been given to us, and thinking I would find a blank notebook to put inside. It took me most of the morning to make, but it wasn't hard. You cut an upper and a lower piece for the outside front cover, sew them together with some batting, and machine-quilt lines three-quarters of an inch apart.The inside lining is made with one large piece and two smaller pieces that are folded in half for the flaps. The whole thing is sewn together with a gap at the bottom and turned inside out. (The heart applique was traced from a cookie cutter.)

It was when I was choosing the button to sew on the front that I noticed my tired-looking Dayrunner on the table, and the lightbulb went on. On examining the case, I discovered that the inside of the Dayrunner lifts out of its zipper cover, so I didn't have to destroy it. (Bonus!)

I am so happy with this!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mama Squirrel's Daybook: Doing things, making stuff

Weather: still hanging in there, colder but still not quite "November." That could change.

News from the Squirrels: Lydia's school is having a Flop, Drop and Read day today (you were also supposed to wear pajamas to school). Sounds like they have been taking lessons from the homeschoolers.

Things we've been watching: We finally started the fifth season of Downton Abbey (I was on a waiting list at the library). Longmire. Death in Paradise. Two movies: Steven Spielberg's Super 8, and Finding Forrester (we'd seen that a long time ago, but it was worth watching again).

In the slow cooker: Chicken Cacciatore, from our freezer meals.

Also to eat: Applesauce Muffins, made from dry ingredients mixed ahead for Crockpot Applesauce Cake, but since the Crockpot is full of dinner, I did mini muffins instead.

What are the best deals at the dollar store? These candles-in-a-jar, sold for religious purposes. The pictures on them are just shrink wrap and come off easily. I bought four candles for an Advent decoration. (They're going to get some trimming.)
Using up thrift store finds: Do you remember this ribbon embroidery kit and the diecuts of Victorian children? (I thought they were stickers but they were diecuts.) 
I used them, along with a few other cutout photos, sticky letters, buttons and ric-rac, to make Christmas cards. The base for the cards was a package of blank watercolour-paper cards that we had bought several years ago and never used.
Also making: crocheted pinecones, with a pattern from Planet June. (I downloaded the pattern a couple of years ago and then didn't have a chance to use it.) I had a bit of brown yarn left from old projects, and then I found this strange-scratchy-textured stuff at the dollar store while I was buying the candles. I don't think you'd want mittens made out of it, but it's perfect for cones.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

That I find myself middle-aged, so soon. When I read stories about fiftyish women, or see magazine stories about "makeup/health/whatever for those over fifty," I realize they're actually talking about me.

Other than that: technology.

The Church Mice Adrift, by Graham Oakley: a rat cafe?

2. Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionarythis year...awesomesaucebeer o'clockbrain fartbuttdialcat cafe(apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross-read the definition here)fat shamehangryMx (gender neutral), and skippable. 

Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say out loud? Which word would you be most likely to use in conversation?

We prefer to say "pocket dial" when referring to making an accidental cell phone call. Recently Lydia pocket-dialed Mr. Fixit, and he could see that it was her number, but there was nobody on the line, so he  said, "Ly-di-a, this is the little man living in your pocket, I'm talking to you" and a few things like that. (I don't remember if she said anything about it when she got home from school.)

"Hangry" sounds like a situation that's always been there, just waiting for a word. It could cover anything from a child's church-went-too-long-and-I-want-my-lunch grumpies, to something more serious, like unrest during a famine.

3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you'd rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy...which one on the list is your favorite?

I never heard of sausage gravy until I was an adult; people around here eat fat sausage with sauerkraut, or skinny ones as a side with pancakes and syrup. But never with gravy. Gravy for us is what you have with roast beef or turkey, and that's about it, unless you count poutine, and I try not to.

But I do know that you can make a pretty good vegetarian gravy with water, milk and soy sauce thickened with cornstarch.

4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.

Homeschooling and having young kids in general gave me lots of outlets for planning: school needed plans, holidays needed plans, groceries needed plans. It didn't mean that I always stuck to the plans, but at least I knew they were there in the first place.

I still make plans (that's why my little zippered book is my planner, not my journal or some other name). Right now I'm in the middle of a holiday crafting plan, a book project plan, and the plan for how I'm going to finish this post in the next five minutes and get out the door for a church work day.

5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?

Our oldest owns the original Monopoly (so it's at her place), but we have Canad-opoly in the cupboard, and also the new version (Monopoly Empire), Monopoly Deal (card game), and we used to play Monopoly Junior when the girls were younger. One year we had a Monopoly Junior birthday party for Mr. Fixit, and when he landed on certain spots, we had entertainment or activities relating to that place.
For people who do a lot of "frugal," you would think we were a bit obsessed with money. But I think most of those games were gifts...except for Monopoly Junior, we got that at a thrift store.

Whoops, five minutes are up. Better half a Hodgepodge than none at all.

This post is linked from Wednesday Hodgepodge with Gravy at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What does Veteran's Day / Remembrance Day mean to you?

I read an interesting blog post recently: Simone Weil and Homer, by David Beardsley, on the Circe Institute blog. This is the part that struck me:
By not making the clear connection to the one war, however, she made a clear connection to all War; to the eternal process that is inevitable when one country, one sect, one person, seeks domination over another. 
She also describes those moments of love that do break through the “monotonous desolation:” hospitable, filial, brotherly, conjugal, even the friendship that can occur between mortal enemies such as Achilles and Priam.  “These moments of grace,” she says, “are rare in the Iliad, but they are enough to make us feel with sharp regret what it is that violence has killed and will kill again.”
2. What's your favorite film with a patriotic theme woven into the storyline?

Right now I'm in the middle of reading War and Remembrance, so I guess that counts too.

But a movie? How about the 1979 O Canada T.V. signoff?

3. Flu shot-yes or no? If you answered no, do you plan to get a flu shot? If not, why not? Have you ever had the flu?

I am ambivalent about the shot, that's all I can say. And yes, I've had the flu. To quote Jan Karon: "It feels like you've just eaten a dish of Miss Rose's week-old, unrefrigerated banana pudding and on are on your way to the emergency room in the back of a van that's been lived in through a long, hard winter by seven Russian wolfhounds..."

4. I've seen lots of people posting pictures of their Christmas trees up and decorated. Many stores have had Christmas on display since well before Halloween. Red cups are back at Starbucks, sans the holiday decor; and that has some people up in arms. What are your thoughts on all the holiday ruckus this second week of November?

My November ruckus is just about making things--it's the month when the holiday crafting roundups appear, and I'm usually in the mood to sew or crochet something. I pretty much ignore whatever other quasi-holiday stuff is going on out there, until after we light the first Advent candle.

5. What 'critter' are you most afraid of encountering unexpectedly? Why that one?

I am not really afraid of bugs, other than the fact that they can bite you and make you sick. I cheerfully swat them, or go somewhere else without feeling particularly traumatized. However, I am phobic about mice. I've decided that the differences between mice and bugs are a) they're bigger, and b) they have faces, c) with teeth.  Hamsters, I was okay with; I usually knew the hamster. (We haven't had a hamster here since Snowball.) Mice are just anonymous housebreakers.  I'm not so sure about Rose Fyleman's "I think mice are nice"; I agree more with the lines that come before that one: "They nibble things they shouldn't touch, and no-one seems to like them much." 

6. Do you like building things? What's the last thing you 'built'?

No, not really a builder here. Mr. Fixit is the tool guy.

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude...what are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?

The sugar maple beside our driveway, for its greenness in the summer and its orangeness in the fall.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Quote for the Day: By the aid of imagination

"Rightly taught, every subject gives fuel to the imagination, and without imagination, no subject can be rightly followed. It is by the aid of imagination that a child comes to love people who do not belong to his own country, and as he learns the history of their great deeds and noble efforts, he is eager to learn something of the country in which they lived, of its shape and size, of its mountains, woods and rivers, of the causes that made the people what they are. We English people, I am sorry to say, have not usually the art of teaching our children to love other countries, and many of us think of foreign lands as we might think of a show at the White City, something that is there for us to look at, something that may rest us or divert us, but not something that stands as high, if not higher, than we do. We are still deluded by the idea that we may travel in a missionary spirit with civilisation streaming from our garments. We must change something in ourselves before we can hope to do much for our children in this respect." ~~ E.A. Parish, "Imagination as a Powerful Factor in a Well-Balanced Mind" (Parents' Review article, 1914)

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Saturday thrifting, an eye towards the holidays

 Eleven fabric pieces (upholstery samples, I think), for a dollar. Not washable, but still good for crafts.
 Stickers, fifty cents.
Pack of silk ribbons and trims, also known as an unused craft kit, two dollars.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Quote for the day: On hope

"If we are to know how far we live by hope, how far it is bread of life to us, we must go where hope is not." ~~ Charlotte Mason, "Children as 'Persons'" (from The Story of Charlotte Mason)

Remember: the Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Besides Thanksgiving, something you're looking forward to on your November calendar?

A couple more days of sunshine and warmth? Some years at this time we are already into snow.

2.  If I gave you a thank you card right now who would you send it to and why?

The teachers and other staff at Lydia's new school. They work very hard at making it a good place to be.

3. Of the breads listed, which one's your favorite...bagel, cinnamon, sourdough, garlic, banana, biscuit, pita, Naan, or plain old fashioned white bread?

All of the above, plus whole wheat, tortillas, rye,  croissants, and beer bread.

Be gentle when you touch bread
Let it not lie uncared for--unwanted
So often bread is taken for granted
There is so much beauty in bread
Beauty of sun and soil, beauty of honest toil
Winds and rain have caressed it,
Christ often blessed it
Be gentle when you touch bread.
(poem quoted in The More-with-Less Cookbook)

4. What's something you have in abundance? Is that a good thing?

Warmish November weather has brought ladybugs, too many of them. Ladybugs are cute, but they bite hard. Lydia reports that her school also has a ladybug problem, and it was especially bad when they were outdoors playing soccer for gym class on Tuesday. She says she had about twenty clinging to each of her  legs, and they did not want to "fly away home."

5. November 5th is National Love Your Red Hair Day. Are there any redheads in your family? Who's your favorite redhead?

Several of my dad's family are red-haired; I think it's the Scottish coming out. 

Favourite, as in celebrities? Greer Garson. She looks sort of like my aunt.

6.  The travel website Busbud recently calculated the most Instagrammed spot in every state. Go here to see what made the list where you live. Are you happy with your state's #1? If not what do you think should be the most photographed spot in your state? Have you snapped a photo there? If you live outside the USA answer as it relates to your state, city or province.

According to Busbud, the most Instagrammed spot in Ontario is Niagara Falls. Which probably goes without saying. But I think Georgian Bay should come a close second.
(Wikipedia's photo)

7. I'm going to try to have something related to gratitude in this spot each week during the month of November. Here's this week's question-

What's something you've learned about yourself this year that you're grateful for?

That I can enjoy change. Sometimes.

Linked from Remember Remember the Hodgepodge November at This Side of the Pond.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Porch fixed.

Mama Squirrel's Daybook

What I'm working on today: a revision of an older Plutarch study.

What I'm listening to, in between that: Reading in Morning Time, a Morning Basket podcast with Pam Barnhill and Brandy Vencel. (The opening rooster was a bit startling...)

What I'm making for dinner: Mr. Fixit is going to make hamburgers.

What I'm making for some other dinners: Dry mixes for split pea soup and lentil soup. (I package beans and lentils separately from the seasonings.)

What I'm looking at: a blue, blue October sky, with orange leaves all over the ground (and some left on the trees). Sparrows and chipmunks. Ladybugs--still lots of those around.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Where is the YEAR going?

A thought for All Saints' Day

 "The great recognition that God, the Holy Spirit, is Himself personally the imparter of knowledge...this is the key to the whole education of each boy and girl. Practical discernment and knowledge of everyday matters, the discovery of the secrets of nature, the great inventions, every conception of beauty or truth and their expression--all have one history, each must have been a great idea when it first made a stir in the mind of the man, woman or child who conceived it." ~~ Charlotte Mason

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do... 19 Consequently, you are ... fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2, NIV)