Thursday, March 31, 2011

pruning the roses

My Martha Stewart gardening book says to prune your roses (at least in my area) in late March, and that's what I always try to do.

It's been so cold around here lately, but the temperature was up a little today - and it's the last day of March!
It's supposed to snow tomorrow, but I really wanted to get it done.  It was drizzling a bit, but I made myself do it - I've certainly pruned them in colder weather than this.

I only have three now.  A rugosa -

which grows like a weed, is very fragrant and has lots of spiny thorns, 

and rose-pink blooms.

Another is a red grandiflora - Mr. Lincoln, maybe? - I like the way the blossoms turn blackish after a cold snap in the fall.

How messy they were, with many more broken canes than they normally have, resulting from a severely snowy winter.

The third rose is one of those newer, very hardy types, called Regensburg - a little, delicate-looking thing, which I left alone for now.

I have a thing about pruning - I'm quite severe with them.  Here's the grandiflora after-

and the rugosa  -

I assure you, it will come back.  When pruning, I often think of the way God "prunes" us - with our difficulties and sufferings of one sort or another - but it's so we'll be more focused and produce larger, more beautiful "blooms".  I didn't clean away the leaves, because of the weather that's coming - maybe they will help protect the roots.

I actually do have another rose, but it's a moss rose and blooms only in June, so I don't prune it till afterward  - I almost forgot about that one!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

learning cribbage

My neighbor has taken it upon herself to teach me how to play cribbage.

I like it!

(photos by my brother)

Monday, March 28, 2011

warm legs and fresh air

It's been quite cold here - especially in the mornings, and I've actually had to wear my new legwarmers.

They were kind of hanging around not quite done, but I quickly finished them up in time to take a comfortable walk in the cold, sunny, fresh air.


but true!  

This - when I came home from the dentist this morning  -

And only yesterday she was whacking him at every opportunity.

but what does it mean???

Sunday, March 27, 2011

pay it forward 2011

I saw it first on Hana's blog yesterday, and thought about it a bit - after all, I have very few readers. Who among them would even want to join in? 

But, I decided to do it anyway. And, this is it -

The first five people who comment on this post will eventually get a small handmade gift from me. There's just one catch: you have to pay it forward. So first you have to put up a post like this one on your own blog - you have to commit to doing the same thing.  It doesn't have to be much. Anything, just to be nice. Just to spread a little cheer. And don't worry about time - handmade things take a little longer, but are worth waiting for!

Is anybody game??

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"that inner quiet place"

I've been reading The Genesee Diary. This passage caught my attention:

"...during Terce,...we read 'Is anyone among you in trouble? He should turn to prayer.' Indeed prayer is the only real way to clean my heart and to create new space. I am discovering how important that inner space is. When it is there it seems that I can receive many concerns of others in it without becoming depressed. When I sense that inner quiet place, I can pray for many others and feel a very intimate relationship with them. There even seems to be room for the thousands of suffering people in prisons and in the deserts of North Africa. Sometimes I feel as if my heart expands from my parents traveling in Indonesia to my friends in Los Angeles and from the Chilean prisons to the parishes in Brooklyn.

Now I know that it is not I who pray but the spirit of God who prays in me."

                                               -  c1976,    Henri J. M. Nouwen

Thursday, March 24, 2011


We're having a get-together after work tomorrow, and I'm working all day. I had to make something today, and really wanted *real* food, but one which could be made a day ahead and still be good. 

Going through my recipe box, I came upon something I haven't made in years - a middle eastern hand-pastry. It's called sanbusak in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, and borek in Turkey, according to a middle eastern cookbook by Claudia Roden which I don't have any more - but I did save this recipe!

I baked up a batch with a spinach filling

which has sauteed onion, then pine nuts and raisins added to it.  There was some left over, so I made another batch of dough; and added feta and cottage cheese to the spinach mix, and dill weed and parsley.  Brush with egg before baking.

You can either roll out the dough or roll little balls, then flatten them. I did the latter, which is why some aren't so smooth and neat looking.   But they taste good, because I ate a few!

Sanbusak - look it up! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

a silk quilt top

On the subject of quilting, I remember an unusual quilt top I bought a few years ago.

Knowing almost nothing about quilting, I was surprised to discover from Anna's blog that quilt tops can be found in thrift shops and on ebay. I did not know this!   (dumb as it sounds)  Well, it gave the idea of quilting a greater appeal to me, with the fussiest part already done by someone else, so I started trolling the internet looking at inexpensive quilt tops.

One day I happened upon a silk one from an estate sale, with the beginning bid at .99!  I liked it - and I immediately thought of my friend, Cyndi, who loves silks and velvets.  I thought it would be a great surprise if I made her a silk quilt for Christmas. I got it for only $10, but when it arrived, it was so unexpectedly heavy, and I wasn't sure if I should go ahead with it.

A year later, I told myself to just do it.  Each square was backed with sheeting, which was the cause for the weight, and which also made it very sturdy.

Very well done!  I wanted to back it with something which seemed the opposite of something silky, and found in my stash, some pink flannel with little lavender flowers in it - a sort of wallpaper stripe. There were many colors in the quilt top, but it looked like pink was the most prevalent.

Purple shades were also common, so I got some corduroy for the binding.

I tied it in each corner with 2 or 3 strands of embroidery floss, but then I realized that the quilting wasn't close enough in some places, so after asking advice from others on a sewing forum, it was Anna who suggested the little circles in the centers of the squares. I used the eyelet cam on my sewing machine buttonhole attachment, and had fun changing thread many times to match it with surrounding fabric.

I include so many pictures here because the designs are so varied.

It was later brought to my attention that it might not be real silk, and in order to find out I'd have to do a burn test. But it was all right with me either way - it's a very interesting piece, and Cyndi - who, I should point out, sews much better than I - really liked it, and could appreciate the work I put into it.

A one-of-a-kind quilt for an unusual friend. And my first experience with quilting!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

still trying to like Saturday...

...and finding a few reasons.

daffodils coming up!

getting a nice Irish dinner going in the slow cooker while listening to Reel of Tulloch by Chatham Baroque - one of my favorite cds.

a sunny kitty nearby, and time to wash and shine up the bathroom floor!

Friday, March 18, 2011

whole cloth baby quilt

The whole cloth style quilt really appeals to me, and my neighbor's month old great-grandson has just come to visit - along with some other relatives. I looked through my sewing books and came up with this idea from Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts for a fast but nice present.

For her "super quick + easy baby quilt" it's just one fabric on one side, one on the other. Make three layers with batting, sew them together around the edge leaving a space, turn inside out and machine "tie" them, using an ornamental design at evenly spaced intervals to hold batting in place.

I had this pretty batik in a nice sized piece, which I used for a pillow cover last summer - but plenty left. An ocean blue with light golden yellow in it.  For the other side I used a gentle stripe with softer shades of the blue and yellow.

She suggested a tight zigzag if your machine doesn't do fancy stitching, so that's what I did. The stripes were a help in the placement of the zigzags.   I'm really pleased with it!

Such an enjoyable project, but I'd like to practice on a couple more - I had a little difficulty with keeping it smooth and straight, and it would be nice to resolve that before I forget entirely what the problem was. I can definitely see an advantage to doing something several times in order to master it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Patrick of Ireland

St. Patrick is a fascinating figure - kidnapped as a youth, tending sheep all alone outdoors - praying all day long, which brought him to a deep knowledge of God.

I am not Irish at all, and never had any interest in him until some years ago I came upon a quote from his Confessions:

"I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a presbyter, of the settlement of Bannaven Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts, nor were we obedient to our presbyters who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought down on us the fury of his being and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners.

And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.

I am, then, first of all, countrified, an exile, evidently unlearned, one who is not able to see into the future, but I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and, indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favours in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure."

There was something so touching about this, and I developed a liking for him which has grown over the last few years.

Imagine being snatched away from all familiar things and pressed into service in that way. But he was on his own while doing his work, apparently, and  "prayed without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

His prayer was fantastic - this was in the so-called Dark Ages, a time of little faith apparently, but his daily prayer - now known as the Breastplate of St. Patrick - encompasses everything which could possible touch him; he left out nothing.

"I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation."

An amazing prayer, and an amazing man of faith.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dolly watches TV

I'm sorry - I never intended to turn this into a cat blog, but I have to laugh every time I look at these pictures of a cat watching television. 

She rarely has any interest in watching the screen, but this particular time I was looking at a Homestead Blessings dvd  -  and there are Jasmine and Vicki West on the screen and Dolly watching. I wish I could remember what they were doing in this episode  -  I would quiz her on it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

chicken soup as restorative

I roasted a chicken Sunday, and after work today I looked at the remains but knew I couldn't face chicken and gravy - too heavy! 

So.... I simmered some sliced onion with a bit of garlic and bay leaf in broth for a good half hour - didn't want any strong onion taste, thank you - then added lots of chicken meat, leftover carrots with a bit of potato, some thyme and marjoram, egg noodles and frozen peas. Some salt. 

I ended having supper at eight o'clock!   But I'd really wanted chicken soup.



Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

kitty dreams

pom pom decor

In February's Country Living they'd made a bouquet of yarn pompoms -  hot-glued to twigs, put in a vase, and looking very cute. The day after I received the magazine my Lion Brand yarn catalog arrived and - what do you know - they featured the same thing!   -   though a more artsy version of it.

A while back, I'd bought some rug yarn from Anna's shop - put it away like a trying-to-be-neat person should always do, and forgot I had it. That is, until I saw these "bouquets".

So I've made a few pompoms but need to find properly slim sticks for the little things, and it's been rainy here. Everything's mud.  But meanwhile, they are insinuating themselves here and there around the house.

Friday, March 11, 2011

a good description of Lent

The meditations booklet they're providing for us at church this year is promising -

The Desert as a Place of Preparation

"In order to be filled by God one must first be emptied.

The desert does this for you. It empties you. It is not a place where you can decide how you want to grow and change. But it is an experience that you undergo, expose yourself to and have the courage to face. The idea is not so much that you do things there, but that things happen to you while there - silent, unseen, transforming things. The desert purifies you, almost against your will, through God's efforts.

In the desert, what really occurs is a cosmic confrontation between God and the devil; though this happens within and through you. Your job is only to have the courage to be there. The idea is that God does the work, providing you have the courage to show up.

In terms of an image, this is what Lent is meant to be, time in the desert to courageously face the chaos and the demons within us and to let God do battle with them through us. The result is that we are purified, made ready, so the intoxicating joy of Easter might then bind us more closely to God and each other."

            - Ron Rolheiser, OMI   "Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter Week"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

"Remember that you are dust,
and unto dust you shall return."

I'm trying.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

throwing over a skirt

In an issue of Country Living last fall - they've taken to putting a bit of fashion in, which is nice though a bit strange for a decorating magazine - there was a skirt - wool plaid, on the bias, maxi length and a hundred and seventy nine dollars, if my memory serves me. It was slightly a-line -  I thought I could copy it easily. Found a plaid I liked at which was mostly wool - a pretty plaid, and quite inexpensive.

The package arrived and I opened it. My first impression was that it felt like a blanket. When I took it out and held it up, it struck me that it looked very well in the living room. What a nice throw it would make! and so cheap considering it was mostly wool!  And it looked good with the curtains. But I had to decide: a skirt, or a throw?

It would make a terribly warm skirt; in fact, that was a concern. Would it be too warm at the library? It's pretty warm where I go to church, too.   I was inclined to make it anyway, but it was holiday season and other things were more pressing.

However now it's almost spring and if I don't make it soon, I won't be wearing it until next winter. Also, Lent begins tomorrow and I have a desire to force myself to finish up some lingering projects as something good to do during this season. So, this evening I took the fabric into the living room intending to cut out the pattern pieces, but it came to me again how well it looks in there. I can make a skirt out of any plaid, but how many fabrics will match the decor so perfectly?

The brown cord I used for a pillow cover will do very well for the edging. My mind is made up!

Monday, March 7, 2011

wasted textiles

I was talking to a friend today about thrift stores and re-using, and I remembered this quote in the current Country Living, from Natalie Chanin, "Don't toss out clothing just because it's got a small stain or rip. Instead, add personality by stitching an applique or patch over the spot. You'll also help cut down on the more than 12.4 million tons of textiles Americans throw away each year."


Saturday, March 5, 2011

fresh air

This may look like nothing to you, but today was the first day this year I could open some windows. March can be  a wild month around here, but that's okay. Spring is coming.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

a mending day

Today I eschewed housework (well, not all of it) in favor of applying myself to some mending.

I re-zippered some pillow slips which have been hanging around too long.

With many zippers from a couple of ebay purchases, I rather enjoy putting colorful ones in these pillow slips. This one got entirely topstitched, but for the next one I tried to do it properly.

That's a little better. I think I'd like to try and make some of these - they're not cheap. How hard can they be to make?

Somebody had a nice nap in the sun here.