Monday, December 30, 2013


As the current year winds down, I find myself craving a bit of "ordinary", the non-festive pursuits such as picking up the newspaper from my front steps and enjoying it with a cup of hazelnut coffee.

All is snow-covered outdoors, but that means I have a greater appreciation for the African violet which has decided to bloom after a long reluctance to do so. It must like its new home under the countertop lighting.

It's about time to return books to the library and find a new stack of reading material. The collection in the photograph seems a rather incongruous one, but I've been thinking about whether I'd go to see Saving Mr. Banks (have you?) hence the Mary Poppins book. I saw the Mary Poppins movie as a child and distinctly recall leaping over the basement furniture in a girlfriend's house while she played Chim Chimney on the record player.

As for the Louise Penny mysteries, I think I have a bit of a crush on Inspector Gamache.

One little treat to look forward to is this book, a present I gave myself, one that will carry me off to the English countryside.

A bit of reading, a bit of blogging, a bit of walking in the crisp winter air on this sunny day . . .

Ordinary pleasures.

Thank you for stopping by today.

Reminder: For those interested, Sunlit Sunday will resume on January 5, 2014 and run for 3 months. All are welcome to participate.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

A recent ice storm led to the loss of power in my neighbourhood for much of one day and phone/internet/TV for the better part of two.

Up to 300 000 people lost power in the large city nearby. I had plans to go have Christmas dinner with friends at their home, but on the 24th they were still in the dark. Which is why I'm sitting here, waiting for my guests to arrive. Fortunately, their power has since been restored. (I had invited them here a couple of days ago, but they were content with the heat from their gas fireplace.)

I hope your day is a happy one.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Food and Friendship

I've caught the baking bug of late. Some morsels were for a lunch I was planning, but the bulk of it was tucked in the freezer to have on hand. I wouldn't say that I have a very sweet tooth, but at this time of year an ancestral reflex must come into play as the temperature drops and the oven gets preheated. 

For starters, shortbread seemed like a good idea at Christmastime.

I'm a fan of Lorrie's rugelach recipe. These were a big hit with my lunch guest. I like them warmed up just a touch.

Mince tarts are a classic at this time of year, some people love them, some people don't. The pastry is homemade, but I confess that the filling came from a jar. I can live with that. Maybe I should try making the filling sometime. Have you done so?

Warm butter crescent rolls. 

Count me among those who still enjoy bread . . .

especially when accompanied by a bowl of hot soup and a fresh salad.

We celebrated lunch and and our friendship.
 And talked.
For hours.
 Then I sent my guest home with stockings and baked goods.

It was time well spent. Here's wishing you your own special times.
Thank you for visiting and for your thoughtful comments.

Note: For those interested, Sunlit Sunday will resume on January 5, 2014 and run for 3 months. All are welcome to participate.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Casting On: Mini Christmas Stockings

My knitting needles have been diverted away from the pullover I was working on and redirected toward some tiny ornaments. There's a lovely blog from the United Kingdom called Little Cotton Rabbits. The blog's author has kindly provided a free pattern for Mini Christmas Stockings and I couldn't resist making a few.

I used bits of yarn that I had on hand, which happened to be baby sport weight. In lieu of a button, I added a jingle bell to each of the four stockings. For fun, I played with combining three colours on one of them.

If you knit, you might enjoy this little project. I'm going to wrap up these ones and give them to a friend who's coming for lunch later this week.

I may have to knit some for myself. Working them up is pleasantly habit forming.

❇ ❈ ❅ ❄ ❆

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tires, Balance, and Casting On Stitches

The photo is not a pretty one for a blog post, but it's a day of puttering about here at My Little Home and Garden. The winter tires that I hauled out of my basement last evening and stuffed into my car have been driven over to the garage and put on, ready for cold weather and snowfalls. Now, the other set needs to be unstuffed, rather like the bird at Christmas, and carted to the basement for storage. This is why women have hips, to balance tires being moved from Point A to Point B.

I had the wheels balanced as well. Given I'd noticed a bit of vibration while driving, that job was overdue. I'm never quite sure how often to address these sorts of things. A bit of online research suggests a plethora of opinions. Balancing them now seemed necessary and occurred around the same time as thoughts about a good balanced life. With Christmas on its way, I'm thinking about putting my own parameters on it, what to do (or not do) for the season.

One little pleasure is that I've started a small knitting project. More on that later. 

Right now, I'm off to write some Christmas cards. 

Enjoy your day.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December tiptoes in . . .

Now that December is here, I'm fiddling about with Christmas decorations. Not a lot of them, just a few little things here and there.

A couple of small poinsettias add a touch of red, 

as does a new set of tea towels.

It's a quiet Sunday, just what I need. I hope yours is a pleasant one.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bowie, Hadfield, and The Lady of Shalott

A train ride, though not long, led to a place that took my thoughts far away. This is the back view of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. The old home now houses a members' lounge and serves delicious lunches. I like the juxtaposition of the stately, straight-lined, brick building and the modern, curving stairway which led from the first to the second level of the special exhibit.

I find it intriguing when evidence of synchronicity appears. Currently, I'm reading Chris Hadfield's recently published book, "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth". You may have heard him singing "Space Oddity"  last May while he was the Canadian commander of the International Space Station. It's his version of  David Bowie's song and, as it happened, I visited the Bowie exhibit on Friday.

I can't claim that I have closely followed Bowie's career, but it was fascinating to see his costumes, snippets of work in film, hand-written lyrics, sketches and such. I think I now have a greater appreciation for his incredible creativity and wide ranging influences. (Photographs, alas, were not permitted in this section of the gallery.)

From one of the songs that was played:

"This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today . . ."
     ("Space Oddity" by David Bowie)

From Hadfield:

"Now Scott can detach inside and come join me. Waiting for him I check behind me, to be sure I haven't accidentally activated my backup tank of oxygen, and that's when I notice the universe. The scale is graphically shocking. The colours, too. The incongruity is stupefying: there I was, inside a small box, but now - how is this possible? . . . It's overpowering, visually, and no other senses warn you that you're about to be attacked by raw beauty." 
     (pp. 89-90, "An Astronaut's Guide to Living on Earth")


Moving on to something quite different . . .

The Lady of Shallot, not completely unlike Bowie's solitary Major Tom, had her own set of troubles. She was shut up, alone, in her tower, permitted to see the outside world only as it was reflected in a mirror, weaving what she saw there. (The painting is by John William Waterhouse.)

"To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
    And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half sick of shadows," said
    The Lady of Shalott."

              ("The Lady of Shallot" by Lord Alfred Tennyson) 

Suffice to say, as they had for Major Tom, things turned rather grim for The Lady of Shallot. What lay beyond her restricted home led to her demise. Hadfield's story is a much happier one.

There will be no weaving or space travel here today, just an easy Sunday of knitting thoughts together

Any ideas to share? I'd enjoy reading them.

I`m linking with Mosaic Monday at Little Red House. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day

I shared this song with you last Remembrance Day and would like to do so again.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Turning Pages: "Still Life" by Louise Penny

It has been a lovely, quiet day, just perfect for curling up with my current knitting project. The back of this sweater is plain knitting, the front is an all-over cable design and I'm about 75% finished this section.

There was just one problem with the notion of sitting peacefully and carrying on knitting, purling, and fiddling with the cable needle.

A distraction. 

In the form of a novel.

As of a couple of days ago, after weeks of being on the library waiting list, the volume I had been waiting for became mine.

If you enjoy a good mystery and have yet to read Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, this is the first book. The protagonist is intelligent, observant, patient, compassionate, imperfect, and insightful: "Crime was deeply human, Gamache knew. The cause and the effect. And the only way he knew to catch a criminal was to connect with the human beings involved." (pg. 87)

I had already read A Beautiful Mystery, Penny's second-last book, and was completely captivated by her writing style, plot development, and the well drawn characters. Clearly, I had to go back to the first novel and start making my way through all of them.

I didn't knit a stitch today. I was in Québec, in the village of Three Pines.
Staying there until I knew, along with the villagers, who had committed murder.

I can always knit tomorrow. In a few days, I'll head to the library for Dead Cold
This sweater could take awhile.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Her Own Schedule

 Just when I had thought the backyard garden had wound down for the year,

 some colour appeared.

I've been reminded that Mother Nature operates

 on her own splendid schedule.

Thank you for visiting.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Reflecting . . .

Instead of a neighbourhood walk, I took a quick drive to a local trail and strolled around the area. Aside from one man with a very serious looking camera and another zipping along in bike-racing gear, the place was devoid of people.

Full of life,

just not much of the human variety.

Walking provides a good opportunity to mull over ideas,

 to appreciate what life has to offer,

and to consider how I want to spend some of my time.

I've been thinking about doing some volunteer work and have planted a few seeds.

  I'm waiting to see which of them, if any, take root.

Maybe it's because this is the autumn of the year, and the autumn of my life, that I'm feeling prompted to do things now instead of "one day".

The reflections in this stream are ephermeral, changing with the weather.

Apparently, I'm engaging in a few reflections of my own.

Thank you for your visits and your thoughts.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Plant, Knit, Read

After a rainy Saturday, today is a cool, sunny day.

The soft ground is just right for digging and planting. I didn't get all of the bulbs in the earth, but some of the tulips and all of the narcissi are in the soil. There is still much more to do: beds to tidy and edge, roses to wrangle, and more bulbs to plant. This week.

If it's possible to have a few pleasant aches, then that's what I have now; they're the sort that arise from having enjoyed time outdoors while getting yard work done.

The tools are put away,
a bouquet has been picked,
and all that is called for is . . .

knitting a few rows,

then curling up in the comfy chair to read.

 If the novel happens to be set in Florence, which I shared with you here, so much the better.

Sunday. Isn't it grand!

Thank you for visiting.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Walking: A Pleasant New Habit

I've been enjoying my new habit of a little walk before breakfast and another in the evening, about 1.5 miles each time It may not be everyday, but it has been almost all of them in the past week and a half.

One morning took me out of the neighbourhood and up over a bridge, where I paused to take a look at the train tracks heading east, wondering where people would be heading and why they'd be going there.

Another day found one nearby park in its misty, morning mantle.

I'm also fond of longer walks. A friend and I shared an impromptu stroll in the woods, after a delicious lunch at her home. That's one way to wear off a meal and a good place to chat about life.

Yesterday, it was a different forest to explore with my hiking group. We head out to a new location every month and hike for about 90 minutes. I find I can breathe in a forest.

Care to join me?


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