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02/24/2017 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment

The “title” of Family

I once heard a small child tell her Mom that one of her friends at pre-school came from a “divorced family”.  Her innocent and earnest understanding of family was very simple: there are parents (sometimes only one, sometimes a Mommy and a Daddy, and sometimes two Mommies or two Daddies) and there are siblings.  Siblings could be older or younger (by just a little or even by quite a lot), and they could even not look at all like you or your Mommy or Daddy.  Sometimes your brother or sister came from a special place where children and babies didn’t have a forever family, and Mommies and/or Daddies chose them specially to be part of your family.  She had a simple understanding that family was somehow married or divorced as a unit.  It is often in these simplified childlike understandings that the truth of things can be found. 


During the last two weeks I have been privileged to experience family again in its best form – my Mom passed away two weeks ago, and it was her memorial services yesterday.


My hubby and I often debate topics, trying to unpack their meaning, the pros and cons of something, their truth or philosophical meaning, and we often disagree based purely on our different experiences of that topic.  For him, “family” is almost the lowest rank in his friendship hierarchy.  I have been extremely lucky in so many respects, and I have come to see more and more, extra-specially when it comes to family.  For me, if someone is a family member it means you can rely on them when the chips are down, you can always expect some kind of help or assistance (even if it is just a kind word of encouragement, a meal, and a warm place to sleep if you are down on your luck).  Family means that you have network of people who actively wish you well, who are rooting for you, and who are on your side.  Don’t get me wrong – my family has had its share of dysfunctional moments, its share of fights and traumas, but at the core was always an unwavering belief that there was somewhere I could return to, somewhere I would always be welcome, not matter what.


Perhaps this understanding has come from osmosis, or from learning the programming in an unconscious way, perhaps from example, and perhaps from words specifically spoken.  It may have also come from intent.  It may be from the sheer will of my Mom and Dad (despite their short-comings and misgivings) that their children would know who they were, and where they belonged.  I know my Mom in particular, doubted herself as a hostess and social being a lot.  I know she was not at ease with having people round, and did not ever feel like she had quite arrived when it came to be showing hospitality.  She may have sometimes preferred the idea of family to the actual presence in her house, but it was only because she felt to inadequate compared to the enormously high standard she had in her mind of how family should treat each other.  Mind you – she didn’t mean to judge people by her the same high standard she set for herself – she always felt welcomed by the simplest hospitality, revelled in the love of family, no matter how it was presented.


My Mom was one of those kind of people who never quite feels they have achieved even the most elementary goals, and despite her huge success in her professional life (I mean one can scarcely be honoured more highly than she was for her lifetime’s work) she always felt like she lacked.


She was a ferocious and uncompromising mother, both in the way she taught us, and in the way she protected us, and for her there was no higher goal than to instil and pass on her earthy, generous, and comprehensively inclusive understanding of family.  I realise this because of the way I have been able to receive and accept, and in the way I have been offered love, support, and kindnesses from family in a way that I have never quite understood until now.  Sometimes we need to be mature enough to receive being “familied”, but we also need to be able to have that basic understanding of what and how family operates in order to be in a position to truly appreciate the extent of love and kindness that is poured out at a time like this.


 I am so truly blessed and lucky to have been one of those for whom “family” has been so thoroughly modelled, explained, and inculcated, that I know in my “knower” that my Mom loved us all as much and as completely as a human could, in all her imperfect and eccentric ways, and that she also knew in her heart how much loved she was, even if those beliefs didn’t always reach her head.

02/10/2014 at 2:18 am Leave a comment

Cleaning gunk and melted plastic off a new iron

I was devastated this morning when I tried out a craft idea I had read on the interwebs, and instead of having a lovely item, got melted plastic on my brand new iron. 😦


I was trying to do a foiling technique that requires a laminating machine, but decided to try with the iron first in case it didn’t work, since I didn’t have the exact products mentioned on the post (overseas, etc.)  Instead of the foil joining onto hte printed image, the foil melted onto my iron and I ended up with a melted mess.


After searching for possible solutions, I wanted to try the ones that used only non-scratch alternatives. I tried putting the iron into the freezer to see if the plastic would indeed just “peel off”.  It didn’t.  Maybe a different type of plastic.  Then I tried putting some vinegar onto a cloth and rubbing the iron.


Firstly, let me say, I really did think it would just come off since it is what the blogger wrote, but alas, I needed a whole lot of elbow grease and the edge of my nail, but the iron is beautiful and shiny again.


Things I learned:

Don’t use metal scrapers – you will simply scrape the iron and won’t make any difference.

Use vinegar or some alternative gentle acid.

You will need to use elbow grease to get the gunk off.  You will have to rub it more than just a few times.

No matter how short your nails are, you can use them to get tiny blobs of gunk off an iron is you have softened it with vinegar first.


Now I am off to try find alternative foiling techniques, although I suspect I just don’t have the right type of foil-y type substance to produce the result.  No matter, I will just use a different finish.

11/05/2013 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

50 Silk Scarves – a book by Melanie Brummer

Having read Melanie’s book on Contemporary Dyecraft, when I heard about this book, I pre-ordered it while it was still in production. I was not disappointed.

The thing I like most about Melanie, is her enthusiasm.  Only second to this, is her passion to facilitate the bringing together of her world of creative colour, and anyone and everyone who wants to be involved.  This also specifically includes those who otherwise may not have had an obvious way in due to lack of exposure, lack of funds, lack of infrastructure, and so on.  In this magnificent book, her second title to date, Melanie uses her philosophy of taking what you find in your surroundings to produce stunning results. Even for those like me who may think we are not capable of doing such a thing.

Using the most unexpected items to produce the graceful designs; items such as bones, patterned glass bottles, Tupperware lids, and even old cardboard milk cartons; – as well as master-crafted lino prints; Melanie shows 50 elegant and stylish designs that would be at home on any haute-couture runway but are within the reach of anyone. 

The projects all say exactly what you need up front, as well as a guide to how difficult and time consuming the project is, which is useful because sometimes you need to know if you can complete a quick project in half an hour, or if you need to devote a few hours so that you can complete the steps properly, and not have to rush if you run out of time.  It is also useful because then you know what sort of skill level is required.  This helps because then you can “practise” on cheaper cloth, paper, or whatever, before trying to use your one and only beautiful piece of silk. 🙂

Being a craft book, it has a wealth of technical information about the types of materials you use for the colour (including a chart explaining fabric dye versus fabric paint), finishes, tools, and also other important things like how to clean up, safety, etc.

This book is a gem, inspiring creativity and imagination, and shows what you can achieve if you look beyond formal and traditional ideas.  Be inspired to create your own one-of-a-kind wearable art using objects you have in YOUR home.  

The original page by the publisher is here



10/21/2013 at 10:22 am Leave a comment

Latest creation

I have been wanting to use t-shirt yarn, also known as tarn, for a long time, but haven’t really had the energy or know-how to make it, and didn’t know where to buy it, plus it is not really that cheap anyway.

Then I came across two balls, and I made my first project – a bath mat for my folks.  They have been wanting a new bath mat for some time.  Tarn is perfect because it is absorbent, soft, and totally washable.

Here is a pic of it fresh off my crochet hook – ends still need to be sewn in.

It was made from a pretty reddish colour with sparkles, and a white.  You can’t really see the sparkles, but they are really pretty.


mat 2 mat 1

10/06/2013 at 9:58 am 1 comment

About home made cards (part 1)

I make home made cards, and some are actually quite good.  I admit, others are, well, not.  I have no expectation of any of my cards being kept, or more enjoyed than your store-bought ones, but I do like being able to give one that is specifically made with for an individual.


I came across a list of 8 reasons why home made cards suck.  Go check these out at someone else’s blog here: 


I will respond in a few days with 9 reasons why home made cards are better than store bought ones.


Watch this space…

08/20/2013 at 8:58 am 1 comment

What animals can teach us

Thoughts from the funny farm

Written by the chief Goober


14 August 2013

It is my opinion that growing up means the amount of sheer poop life throws at you consistently increases.  Exponentially.  Instead of being able to stomp down, and climb up the proverbial pile of poop to exit the well, it just hits you on the head, goes in your nose and mouth, and blacks out your eyes until you just don’t know which end is up.  I mean, it is just not funny any more.  In fact, I officially challenge the Cousin – Barry Hilton – to make a set out of my life right now. 

You’ve heard it all before, I am sure – the well-meant but somehow not-so-helpful: “this too shall pass”, “it is just temporary”, don’t worry, everything will be okay”, “I am sure it is just a phase”; or perhaps the less welcome: “Yes, but I have had the same thing and it all gets easier…”. Blah, blah, blah, vomit. 

Quite frankly my dear, the lessons I learn from my animals seems to be the most helpful thing right now.  Take our bunnies for example.  I have not seen hide nor hare (lol) of them for two days.  Observation: When the shit goes down, just hide the fuck away in your tower of sticks and branches and food, and comfy, comfy grass, and stolen towel.  Yes, for purposes of this story, read magnificent-plush-bath-sheet-given to us for our wedding rather than simply “towel”.  Towel doesn’t quite adequately explain the level of petty theft going on with all of our animals.  I mean, I know people can tell quality, but really?  Really! Take that crappy towel that lives on the floor by the sink please.  Don’t wait for the wind to drop that beautiful white acre of loveliness off the line as it glistens in the sun…

Perhaps the lesson here is to just go ahead and take the best of whatever is available.  After all – no one is going to just give it to you – even if it does belong to you.


Or perhaps, as witnessed by two of our kitties –  Lalee and Nonni.  There are enough for a bed per cat, and it used to be that they each only used “their” own one.  Nonni, bless her, has decided that whichever bed she is not currently in is the better one.  Every night, they seem to switch.  Upon closer inspection, I have learned from this that if the thing I want is busy, just get there earlier tomorrow.  Just like, kick ball in the early grades.  If you are not the first person there, you can’t choose the good ball or the best team mates.


Perhaps an added endorsement of this course of action is the way Zippy, our Jack Russel, plays with balls, sticks, ropes, well, anything really.  He sees what he wants, asks you to throw it, and then goes and takes it away.  He does not bring it back for more throwing, he simply goes and hides the item, never to be seen again.  I guess this is a cunning method of preventing others from using your favourite “towel”.


On the face of it, this seems to work, except that Nonni, having hidden all her toys to prevent others from playing with them, has now graduated onto catching birds.  Not for eating, not for releasing, but for absolutely playing with them until they are dead.  It is a sad side of having kitties – they do get hold of all the birds. Especially if their toys have been hidden.  Sigh.


Ok, so no lesson is perfect, but I think the lesson I will take today is one of hugging.  Even though not all the animals want picksy-upses, they do want to be loved, scritched, gently stroked, or just acknowledged with a head boop.  Each of them, in their own way, gives me what my friend and her son call “body love”.  This can take the form of a full length hug to a simple and comforting pat on the back.


Either that, or all animals, and therefore all people, only love the ones who give them the food.  Actually, that is the lesson.  Always be the one who gives the food.  Always.

08/14/2013 at 8:17 pm Leave a comment

Driving while 3am

The other night, Colin (my wonderful hubby) took me out for a wonderfully naughty midnight trip to the wimpy.  I love it when he surprises me like this  – it makes me feel so special, loved, and it is such fun that we sneak away for an hour while the kids (who are 16 and 18, so don’t freak out) sleep.


Interestingly enough, the other evening, as we were coming home, a cop pulled us over to just check if Colin had his license on him.  They also looked in the back seat with a torch, asking if there was anyone else in the car.


 There are MANY road blocks around us, and they ALWAYS check the license disc as well as license, but this time it seemed as if they were making sure we weren’t doing something we weren’t supposed to.  Colin laughed and said it must have been that the cop suspected us of “driving while 3am”…

07/26/2013 at 4:31 pm Leave a comment

Home made bread

My parents used to use, then gave it to us to use, a bread maker machine which made wonderful bread.  however, the blade used to always upset me when it would make that little hole.


Recently, I have started making our own bread using a recipe I got from my father for no-knead pizza dough, and one I found on the interwebs for making no-knead bread in a Dutch oven.  Let me first say, I don’t have a Dutch Oven, and although it sounds wonderfully exciting from the people’s blogs who I read, I suspect will be used for one or two breads and then be relegated to the corner of the counter…


Anyway, there are many recipes on the web, and I honestly don’t remember whose one I am using (but you can easily find one if you search using “no knead artisan bread”), but it is a huge success.  Yesterday I made two loaves as a trial: one round, and one squarish.  This is simply because I used casserole dishes with lids and therefore the shape was given.


This morning, I made a new one, and I have to say, although I left it in the oven for about half an hour too long (oops!) it is still fine, and is possibly even better for being crispy.  Since it is a Dutch oven recipe, I tried to convert it, and perhaps because it is a Dutch oven recipe, it is also very forgiving.  Those of you who know me will know I love to cook and bake.  Unfortunately, the talent doesn’t quite equal the quantity of enthusiasm; but this has never stopped me.


Colin, my husband, who is a bit of a self-proclaimed foodie, even said that he wanted me to make extra-gravy stew tonight so we could eat the bread with the meal. Now you  must understand, Colin’s food is always really really good, and he can even make eggs on toast into a gourmet meal.  My skill is less than his, so when he likes something, I am over the moon.


Here are some pics of the loaf that will be flattened this evening.


2013-07-23 12.34.24 2013-07-23 08.45.36


As you can see, the loaf is quite over done, but the inside is moist and delicious.  Also, since I did it for too long, the beautiful “cheffy” decoration on the top doesn’t show either.  Something I learned from Colin is to make the food look that extra bit special for added flavour.  True story.  Just like cutting sandwiches on the diagonal…  Ask any child…

07/23/2013 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

Little Sox

Little Sox

This is our sweet kitty, Sox. She was born in the bedroom cupboard, and have never lived in any other room.

06/17/2013 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

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