Thursday, January 31, 2019

First Quilt of the Year... Done!

I started this quilt last fall...

I machine-quilted it before Christmas. Then it sat folded up for a month...

I recently finished the binding...

Now it's done!

First quilt of 2019!

The colors make me think of water and summer at the beach!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Back to Quilting...

My plan was to organize the fabric in my sewing room as Marie Kondo might organize it...

Then I opened a bin of scraps, some of them perfect for the binding on my latest quilt, which is almost done...

I stopped working on it just before Christmas...

This will make it easy to finish it!

At the same time, maybe I can sew the binding on another scrap quilt I haven't worked on in ages...

(Then when these two are done, maybe I'll find time to organize the sewing room!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Winter Walking

The weather has been so cold and snowy that I've taken to mall walking...

My favorite one has three levels and a lovely large sky light...

An app on my phone counts my steps...

And there are interesting diversions - like cats in a pet store... So cute!

Walking around each level once adds about 5,000 steps to my day.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Blowing Snow

Yesterday Terry and I were planning to go out...

... when the wind picked up.

All around us was swirling, blowing snow...

Memories of having to drive to work in blowing snow came back to me...

Suddenly not seeing the road...

I think I'd rather stay home, I told Terry...

(Glad that, unlike in my working days, I now had that option!)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Study of the book, Sacred Rhythms

A year ago I was reading the book, Sacred Rhythms, by Ruth Haley Barton. It talks about using traditional Christian "disciplines" in modern day life. It was one of those rare books I wanted to keep reading - to start all over again once I was done. (Instead, I passed it on to a friend who often shares books with me...)

I was recently surprised - and delighted - to discover that our church would be hosting a video study of the book... (Who in my church even knew about this book?! There are so many books out there!)

It turns out that the initiator - and leader - of the event is a young woman about my daughter's age...

Women of all ages attended... It was the first of 6 video presentations. I look forward to our second one... in a month's time.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A New Phase of Retirement?!

At the end of the month, I will be marking 11 years of retirement from full-time teaching. Time has flown by...

I don't recall having much trouble transitioning into retirement. My mother had just had surgery, so I was kept busy driving her to post-operative appointments.

In addition, the last few months of teaching, I had no time to go through my two cabinets of teaching files, so I brought everything home. Those first cold winter months, I spent hours going through my boxes, getting rid of what I didn't think I'd need. When spring arrived, I left that basement chore.

I find it interesting that, all these years later, I am again spending time this winter down in the basement, going through things our family has accumulated over the years - as well as boxes of my mother's papers.

I'm also trying to organize things - like here, in one corner, gathering all my art supplies in one place.

(The table and chair still need a bit of work!! They haven't been used in a while.)

I wonder if all this organizing and de-cluttering will open up a new phase of retirement. 

Will I discover new interests once my home has been "simplified"? Marie Kondo comments that by getting rid of things that don't "spark joy," some have discovered what is really important to them - their true passions.

I wonder if I will be surprised by joy as well...

Friday, January 25, 2019

Winter "Salad" = Homemade Vegetable Soup

I don't make salads much in winter...

Instead, I often eat my daily vegetables in the form of homemade vegetable soups. The soups contain many of the same vegetables I would put in a salad... tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, spinach, celery, onions, garlic.

This is my basic recipe:

  1. Lightly fry 1 or 2 chopped onions and several carrots in a little olive oil. Add garlic - either several whole cloves or a tablespoon of minced - and half a cup (or more) of chopped celery. (When I buy a bunch of celery, I like to chop the whole thing, freezing what I don't use fresh.
  2. Add 4-8 cups of vegetable stock. (I freeze the stock when I cook vegetables, so I always have a lot on hand.)
  3. Add a large can of tomatoes and a can or two of cooked beans. Sometimes I also add sliced zucchini, green beans or spinach. Recently I substituted dry beans for the canned cooked beans. I soaked the dry beans for 24 hours, draining and changing the water every 8 hours or so. Using the drained dry beans, I had to simmer the soup for an hour and a half to two hours.
  4. For seasoning, I add about a quarter cup of medium salsa to the soup while it's cooking... more or less to taste. I could add other herbs and spices to taste, but I often don't.
  5. When it's done, I freeze the soup in individual portions. That way I always have some on hand. 
I enjoy the warmth of a bowl of soup in winter, either as a meal by itself or as part of a larger meal.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Another Snowstorm!

We've had two snowstorms and a few days of extremely cold weather this past week.

In fact, I haven't left the house in four days!

(Fortunately I can always find a lot to do indoors.)

Terry has kept busy clearing snow from the driveway and the shed roof...

Sometimes neighbors help each other...

Here's Earl (Mary's husband) helping a neighbor across the street...

It's nice to live in a neighborhood with kind neighbors.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My Visible Mending

I enjoy using Instagram and Pinterest - two apps that allow me to get ideas by seeing the creativity of others.

I recently subscribed to #visiblemending on Instagram.

("Mend more - spend less!" is the motto of some visible menders...)

Inspired by the posts I see, I don't care anymore if my mending is visible on my hand-knit socks...

I haven't tried visible mending on other garments yet...

But - once I get tired of de-cluttering - I look forward to experimenting on old garments that are still so comfortable I don't want to throw them out or give them away.
This old hoodie, for example... It's an old favorite. I used to wear it a lot - until the cuffs showed visible wear and tear and the garment began to feel shabby...

I'd love to wear it again. This could be a perfect first project!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Summary of Marie Kondo's Book

I couldn't renew the Marie Kondo book on decluttering at the library - there were 6 holds on it.

I quickly placed a hold on it again - along with her newest book, Spark Joy

Then I summarized the points that jumped out at me from my first reading.

I want to keep organizing the house until I get the book back again. Looking through it a second time will be a quick refresher.

These are the points I remember:

  1. Don't make tidying a daily drudgery... Set aside special time for it and try to get it done quickly. (I've been working at it a lot. Maybe it has become a bit of a drudgery. But doing pottery again, I'll be busy elsewhere twice a week.)
  2. In deciding what to get rid of, keep only what you love. By eliminating what doesn't "spark joy" some have found their true passion.
  3. Store things vertically as much as possible, to maximize space. 
  4. Get rid of papers, unless they need to be kept permanently, like birth certificates - or for a set amount of time, like warranties. Even instruction booklets can be tossed - the information in them is readily available online.
  5. Even photographs should be thrown out if they don't "spark joy."
  6. Store things of a kind in one spot, not several.
  7. Store handbags inside each other to save space. Make sure the inside bag's strap is sticking out so that it can easily be found.
  8. Decorate closet space in an interesting way. Consider it like a small room.
With these points in mind, I'm sure I'll have enough to keep me busy until the book comes back to me and I can see what I've missed!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Snow Day!

Yesterday was a "snow day" for Terry and me...

We didn't go anywhere. I didn't even leave the house!

We woke up to find it had snowed all night.

The temperature was also very cold, an unusual combination - usually the weather is cold or snowy, not both.

Our dead-end street is always among the last to be cleared by the city...

It's not often that our house feels isolated...

(We could trek through the snow to the nearest grocery store, a  kilometer away. It's always open...)

But - until the roads are plowed and I can get out by car - I definitely feel somewhat "cut off."

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Snow Shoveling Memories

On their last trip here to visit us, our son and his daughter enjoyed shoveling snow off our back deck...

When you were young, I reminded him, we used to make a snow slide off the deck... and you would play on it for hours!

(I wonder if I have pictures...)

Winter is always fun for a child!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Getting Back into Pottery...

Last week saw me back in our local city-run pottery studio, in a local community center that also houses swimming pools and skating rinks.

One day I worked on the wheel...

(This is what the room looked like before the potters arrived.)

The next day I did hand-building, in a different studio. Here we work on tables, shaping the clay by hand.

Doing pottery twice a week will be my schedule until early April.
I also brought back an unfinished piece that I started last year. It needs to be fired...

As I go through the basement, tidying, I may find more pottery tools.

Maybe even more unfinished projects!

I've been doing pottery in winter for quite a few years now. Once a session is over, I drop my bags on a basement shelf and leave them... although I fully intend to go through them sometime to sort things out.

But, for some reason, I rarely open the bags until my next pottery session begins again.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Marie Kondo's "Magic"!

The past few weeks, I've been reading Marie Kondo's book on the "magic" of tidying...

At the same time, I've been trying to follow her advice as I do some tidying every day...

I started with sorting through drawers, folding clothing and towels in her amazing way...

She even folds socks and lays them side by side so that they can be seen clearly.

She notes that Japanese have a love affair with folding! They prefer to fold clothing rather than hang it up...

A few years ago, I wrote a blog on some Japanese folding methods, but not for clothing.

I remembered a former Japanese student and his lunch container: a folded square scarf.

Eventually I moved my tidying into the study, where getting rid of unnecessary bits of paper became my main challenge. I've shredded and recycled lots of papers and magazines. I still have a long way to go until the study is the tidy, peaceful place I want it to be...

But least I can see the top of my desk!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Winter Ice and Snow

Winter is definitely here - though places like Toronto... or Guelph, in southern Ontario, have much less snow than we do, from pictures we see.

Here in Ottawa, shadows are longer and days are still short... By 4:45 pm it starts getting dark. Not my kind of weather.

Often we get snow overnight - so Terry heads outdoors to shovel the driveway. I think he's only used his snowblower once...

I've been staying indoors a lot this winter. I only head out if the destination is a shopping centre where I can walk...

At home, I've been going up and down stairs a lot tidying and organizing.

A while back, I set myself the goal of making spaces in shelves and cupboards. That, of course, involves getting rid of things.

Winter is the best time for me to work indoors. Once nicer weather arrives, I'll want to head out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Winter: Decluttering Season

My prime decluttering season is winter - the four months, more or less, when I'm indoors most of the time. 

After reading the newspaper article on Marie Kondo's decluttering style a few weeks ago, I went to the library to borrow her book: the Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I've found it an interesting read. (I need a little life-changing magic!) I like a lot of what she says.
  • The concept of getting rid of everything that provides no joy - her gauge for deciding what to keep and what to toss. 
  • The admonition to gather like items from around the house, rather than tidying room by room. (All your coats or shoes, for example.)
  • The plan to start with clothing rather than sentimental items when going through things.
I've tried to follow her suggestions, but haven't totally succeeded... (I guess like every method, one does have to personalize it a bit! But does that mean I'm going to fail?!)

She admonishes working quickly to see a difference - hence the "magic"! Then she explains that "quickly" may take up to 6 months. Don't tidy and declutter every day, she writes. Plan it and make it a special event.

(I hope the book isn't on hold for somebody else at the library - I'm going to need it for more than 3 weeks!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

10,000 Steps?!

When my doctor first told me I was at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, he suggested I modify my diet a bit... and walk 10,000 steps a day. That has been my goal ever since, though I don't always achieve it.

My mother also heard about the health benefits of walking 10,000 steps - so she bought a pedometer and headed over to a nearby shopping center to make sure she did her daily 10,000!

But recently I came across a newspaper article that says there is no science behind the popular 10,000 step notion.

The idea of 10,000 was thought up by a Japanese advertising team in the 1960's.

In order to get people to  be more physically active, ads encouraged them to walk 10,000 steps a day - or twice as much as they were then thought to be walking.

But here's the interesting clincher... According to this article, research on the benefits of walking actually show that we should be taking not 10,000 but 15,000 steps daily if we really want to see health benefits!

(Hmmm... I hate to say it, but I guess that's what my new goal will have to be!!)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Tidying... One Small But Powerful Change!

I sometimes have a video chat with my daughter early in the morning as we are both drinking our coffee - she in her home and I in mine.

Not long ago, I had my cell phone propped up in the kitchen while I was pouring a second cup of coffee... My daughter had this view of the kitchen... and she commented: If you want to tidy up the whole kitchen, you only have to do one thing... Remove all that stuff that is stuck on the fridge with magnets.

If you remove those papers, your whole kitchen will look tidy...

So I followed her advice and removed most of the stuff... It took about 10 minutes - and she was right!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Moravian Daily Texts

Throughout my life, I've heard family members on my mother's side talk about the Moravian church, though I have little recollection of ever being in one. Most of my relatives were Lutheran or Baptist. As a child, I do recall going to a church where music was played by a brass band rather than an organ... Would that have been a Moravian church?

Though I was familiar with the name "Moravian," I really wasn't sure whether the Moravian church was a type of Christianity, like the Orthodox church. Or a denomination? Or was it simply a church from a country called Moravia?

Then I came across this tattered book of my mother's called the Moravian Daily Texts, with a date - 1990. It contains short daily readings from the Bible. But how was this book different from any other daily devotional?

Wondering about all this, I googled "Moravian Daily Texts" - and came across some interesting information.

I discovered that the Moravian Church is a protestant denomination that began in 1457 in Moravia, (in the modern-day Czech Republic).  The Daily Texts or "watch-words" originated several hundred years later, in the early 1700's, when an aristocratic landowner, a religious man, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, provided refuge to Moravians who were fleeing their country to escape religious persecution. Count Zinzendorf  welcomed these refugees. On his lands they began the practice of starting and ending each day with a verse or two of  Bible, which the Count chose. These verses became such a beloved tradition, that when the Count eventually died, his "watch-words" as they were called, were printed in books so that they could be read again and again. Wherever Moravians moved, they took the tradition of reading "Daily Texts" with them. It continues to this day... Except that nowadays, it's even possible to receive paperless daily texts via email!

(I've decided to subscribe to this free service myself!)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Wrist Pain Update

For years now I've had wrist and thumb pain from knitting and crocheting. At times it was quite debilitating.

When the pain would finally keep me awake at night, I'd end up seeing a physiotherapist. Several sessions a week for a few months usually cleared up the pain - but it would return again once I started knitting.

Isn't there a better way to manage the pain - so that it won't get this bad? I'd often wonder.

This year I decided to try a new approach: Doing wrist and thumb exercises to stop the pain from developing.

I also purchased a book on the ergonomics of hand-knitting entitled Knitting Comfortably. I'm slowly going through it, to learn how I can avoid injuring myself. I've already picked up a few tips - like choosing needles to fit the yarn - so as to avoid adding extra strain.

I've also started doing exercises I found online, which I do regularly.

I've come to the conclusion that I may have DeQuervain's Syndrome or DeQuervain's Tenosynovitis. I'm doing exercises for that.

The book, Knitting Comfortably, also mentioned an exercise called the Finkelstein Stretch, which is a wonderful help.

I'm not totally pain-free yet. Some days I re-injure myself. I realize that other activities, such as using a computer and writing can also add strain.

But I'm a lot better - and I feel as if I have a measure of control over the problem.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Back Where I Once Worked

For more than a dozen years, I taught part-time at the University of Ottawa, one or two courses a term. I loved the work and the students, leaving only after I was offered full-time work elsewhere.

Recently I went back to the university to buy a few souvenirs at the bookstore.

It was interesting to be back!

I looked at the buildings where I had taught so many courses (Simard, Morisset).

So much was familiar.

But my relationship to the place had changed: It was no longer part of my life and - to my surprise - I wasn't at all nostalgic or sad!