Jan 13, 2024

Christmas and Birthday and Gifts, Oh My!

Feeling a little nostalgic today. We finally got some significant snow, but as this seems to be the pattern our weather has been following lately, it immediately warmed up and started to rain. While I appreciate I don’t have to clean off my car or shovel the sidewalk, it would have been nice to keep the white stuff around for a day or two.

I miss the Christmases I used to have when I was a kid. Mostly, I miss the snow. The snow would start coming down in November, and by Christmas we’d be up to our eyeballs in it. Thanks to global warming, it’s rare we have a white Christmas anymore. In fact, the weather was so mild I was still wearing my fall coat until the end of December. And really, I only put it away because I refused to wear it for New Year’s, even if I could have got away with it.

My birthday comes about 2 ½ weeks after Christmas, and I was hoping for snow for it but all I got was rain. And as anyone who has a birthday near Christmas will tell you, it really sucks. People think that just because Christmas is barely over, your birthday is no big deal. But let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.

Birthdays have always been a big deal to me. Not just my own birthday, but anyone’s birthday. Sometimes my big deals don’t always work out the way I envisioned, but at least I try. Take the daughter’s 16th birthday. I worked like a dog planning a surprise party for her. I’m not sure the party was a total surprise, but I know the fact that her boyfriend showed up without a present was. Seriously boyfriend? And here I thought I’d planned for everything. LOL

This year I had a milestone birthday, and while the one or two people who still thought of birthdays as no big deal made me sad, the number of Facebook happy birthday wishes helped make up for it. And my stitchery guild sisters sang happy birthday to me at our meeting, two of them contacted me privately for more birthday wishes, and I talked to one of my sisters for an hour and a half – and while I was talking to her, my other sister tried to call and had to settle for leaving me a voice mail. The hubby got me a generous slice of the healthiest cake he could find – carrot cake – that was still pretty decadent but hey, it was my birthday. 😊

On to the presents . . . the hubby and I usually get each other one big present for Christmas and a couple of little ones. This year we made the decision to get our own big present. So the hubby got himself a new colour printer, and I got myself this:

It’s a Singer Quantum Stylist computerized sewing machine. It took me a while to settle on which machine I wanted. For a while the leader was a Brother machine that did embroidery, but I figured if I was going to embroider something other than an edging, I’d probably do it by hand. Still, the Quantum did come with its fair share of decorative stitches:

Have you seen pictures of those stitching calendars? The idea being to do a stitch a day for an entire year? I always love looking at them and I always intended to start one of my own, but by the time I remember I was going to do it, we’re usually well into the new year. But this year, my daughter gave me this:

Not only does it tell you how to get started, it has iron-on templates for the base to work on, and pages and pages of ideas and inspiration. We went away for the new year, but I took my stitching bag, and the book, with me so I could make my start. I don’t know which is harder, coming up with a new little image for each day, or actually stitching the little image. It’s going to be a challenge to keep it up, but so far I’m having a lot of fun.

And apparently, great minds think alike. I don’t remember every mentioning the stitch-a-day calendar to my sister in New Brunswick, but she must know me better than I realized because she sent me this for my birthday:

This is a whole stitch-a-day kit, that includes thread, material, and a tutorial. Looks like I’ll be set for next year too. LOL

I can see this is going to be the Year of Sewing. I’ve yet to figure out my sewing machine, but I’m keeping up with my calendar and I still want to finish my zentangle. In the next guild meeting I’ll be learning sashiko (Japanese embroidery) and I’ve just started a 12-week stitch-along course in Blackwork.

But that’ll be a post for another day. 😊

Jan 1, 2024

Happy New Year

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? 😊

While I’d love to report I got scads done during my blogging break, I’d be lying if I did. After getting off to a slow start, I lost a week to illness. It might have been a bad case of food poisoning, it might have been a prolonged IBS attack, it might have been a reaction to a medication I was taking – we may never know because I was unable to get a hold of my doctor.

But in due course I recovered, and then it was full speed ahead for Christmas. You may recall that during the summer I went on a jam making frenzy, the idea being to make jam sampler baskets instead of cookie baskets this year.

I left it a little late to get the baskets, and the only ones left were rather on the large size. Now I’d already planned on including scones or biscuits (gotta have something to put the jam on, right?), but even with the scones the baskets were a little sparse. So I made four different kinds of fudge. LOL

The home made ornament for this year was the fabric stars I learned to make with the stitching group. It took me about four days to turn this:

Into this:

Half a day was spent cutting, a day and a half was spent folding and ironing strips, and two days were spent actually folding the strips into stars. I averaged about 3 stars per hours. But it gave me an excuse to sit in my chair and watch TV.

I had fully intended to make tiny God’s eyes using metallic thread and tooth picks as well, but they never got past the experimental stage. They turned out to be more fiddly than I expected, and while I’m tempted to give them a shot now that the holiday madness has died down, we’ll have to see if I’m in the mood for them or not.

One thing I did do while on my break, was a lot of thinking about what I want to accomplish in the new year. I came to the conclusion I could get a lot more accomplished if I eased back on the blogging.

When I first started blogging, many, many years ago I was writing short, pithy posts on random subjects. The last couple of years I’ve been bogged down in this strict blogging schedule that takes more out of me than might be apparent.

Coming up with a subject, researching, writing the post – these things can be pretty time consuming. So with that in mind, I’m scrapping the poetry posts – it’s getting harder to find new forms anyway. And I’m finding the only poetry I wrote last year were examples for the new forms, or homework for my poetry group. I wasn’t writing poetry for fun any more.

I’ve also decided that the posts on this blog are going to appear a little more randomly – I’m no longer locking myself into posting every Monday. If I have something to say, fine. If I don’t I’m not going to worry about it. This means I might post once a week, or two or three times a week, or skip a week completely.

AND I’m going to focus more on the crafting side of my life here – what I’m working on, the progress I’m making . . . I have a lot of things I’d like to accomplish craft-wise in the year ahead and a lot of things I’m going to learn. I’m taking a class in blackwork embroidery, and another in sashiko. And that’s just for starters.

I confess I went a little crazy, the last few weeks, shopping online for craft supplies. That alone should be worth a couple of blog posts. 😊

Dec 24, 2023

Happy Yule

As promised, here are a few of my favourite Christmas videos to help make the season bright.

I'm Climbing Up the Christmas Tree

Imperial March/Carol of the Bells

Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire

Little Drummer boy – David Bowie and Bing Crosby

Faith Hill – Where Are you Christmas

TSO – Christmas Eve in Sarajevo

TSO – Christmas Cannon

Dec 3, 2023

I Break For Christmas

December always seems to sneak up on me – so much to do, so little time to do it in. So this year I’ve decided to make things a little easier on myself and take a break from blogging for the month.

I’ll probably be back to post a few of my favorite Christmas videos, but that won’t be until later in the month.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and I’ll see you in the New Year.

Nov 29, 2023

Espinela Verse Form

This Spanish form was named for Vencinente Espinela, and is often referred to as “the little sonnet.” Being a musician, he designed his form to be pleasing to the ear when recited. Here’s where it can get a little confusing.

It is also sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Décima, which is a Spanish term for any ten-line stanza. However, there is also a popular song form from 15th century Spain called the Décima which consists of forty-four lines (an introductory stanza followed by four ten-line stanzas).

The Espinela has only two stanzas, with four lines in the first and six in the second for a total of ten lines. Each line has eight syllables, and it follows a strict rhyme scheme of abba/accddc.




I think the nickname of “little sonnet” is an apt one, it is very much like writing a sonnet. And like a sonnet, the Espinela can be written on any subject.

Evening Song

Skin still warm from the summer sun
Glimmering in the fading light
Waiting until the moment’s right
Waiting until the day is done

Waiting for that special someone
The touch, the taste, the feel of him
The bending to another’s whim
Anticipation building slow
Reach the peak and then overflow
The moment caught, too soon to dim.

Nov 27, 2023

Time For Christmas Crafts

Some Christmas tree ornaments do more than glitter and glow, they represent a gift of love given a long time ago.
— Tom Baker

The best things in life are handmade.
— Unknown

Christmas magic is silent. You don't hear it — you feel it. You know it. You believe it.
— Kevin Alan Milne

Crafting is like meditation, it allows you to focus your mind and release your stress.
— Unknown

Yup. It’s that time of year again. Time to dive into the Christmas crafts. Every year, since the daughter was first able to hold a bottle of glue, we’ve had the tradition of making a new ornament for our Christmas tree. The tradition became a little sporadic once she grew up and got a life of her own, but I carried on, and now sometimes I get the granddaughter to join me.

This year, I finally stiffened the snowflakes I crocheted several years ago. Actually, I’ve crocheted hundreds of the snowflakes, and mostly gave them all away. These are all I had remaining:

I used a solution of half mod podge glue, and half water to dip them in, and then I pinned them to cardboard with waxed paper under them to keep them from sticking:

It worked pretty good, although I had to peel the snowflakes off of the waxed paper when I was done.

If you’re local, and you want to see them in person, a few of them will be included in the display my stitchery guild is putting up at the local library for Christmas. I still have lots of the crochet cotton left, so maybe I’ll be making some more.

And seeing as I gave all of my Christmas prints away to a good cause (I’d had the fabric for yeas and never did anything with it) I found myself going up to Fabricland on the weekend to get some more.

The prints I chose have the Khaos seal of approval. LOL I’m going to make some more of the folded stars for the Christmas tree this year.

The granddaughter likes to do origami, so I’m hoping to talk her into giving it a try herself. She was over on the weekend to work on a super secret Christmas present, and was doing great . . . until my sewing machine conked out on us. Grrr!

I had her do a sewing test – sewing along lines drawn on a piece of paper with the machine unthreaded – and she passed with flying colours. A couple of the lines were darn near perfect! And even the ones that weren’t perfect weren’t off by much.

She also used a rotary cutter for the first time, and I was really impressed with how safety cautious she was. Those things are really sharp, but without being told she figured out how to engage the safety shield when she wasn’t using it.

Looks like she’s a chip off the old sewing block. 😊

Nov 22, 2023

Cameo Verse Form

For such a short little poem, there sure are a lot of rules to the Cameo. This rather interesting form was invented by Alice Maud Spokes. It is written as a single sentence of thirty-five syllables spread out over seven lines. The syllable count is 2-5-8-3-8-7-2.

There is no rhyme to the cameo, but each line should end on a strong word. Line breaks should be naturally occurring, where you would pause in speaking. The poem should be a single thought, so avoid using semicolons.



This actually isn’t as bad as it first looked. In fact, it’s kind of a fun form.

busy spinning webs,
you think I don’t see you up there
but I do
and I’m about to get my broom
to ruin all your hard work

you sleep in the sun
when there are mousies to be found
and hunted,
which is the job of the housecat
and you know it, lazy thing,
not me.