Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blooms and more

Friday evening was craft night here at Lauren Farms. Jenny came over for the week-end and my friend Lois and her husband came for supper and then it was time to make our sock monkeys. Jenny had found the red heeled socks at a store in St. Catherines and with help of a book and some other instructions we were on our way. Part way through we realized that it would have gone way faster if we had used the machine for part of it. We did not get it all finished, but we had a lot of fun. On my trip to town yesterday I stopped at Spinrite and got some red cotton yarn to make a few hats and scarves. That will have to wait till the latest pair of socks are finished. On Saturday Jenny and I started to work on a "Quiet Book " It's just what it sounds like. The book is made out of fabric and has lots of interesting things to do for smaller kids. I used to make them years ago for the Mennonite Relief Sale and according to Jenny she never had one for herself. Since lots of her friends are having babies she decided to learn how to make one herself, with help from mother that is. Pictures will follow as we get the pages done. I have kept my ammarillis bulbs over the years and have had some success with getting them to bloom again. Usually I put them outside in the ground and dig them up in the fall. Last year I put them in large pots on the deck and they did very well. Up to now 6 have bloomed, most with multiple stems with a few smaller ones to come yet. Those and the blooming orchids make it colorful in the house. For years I always hoped for a cardinal at the bird feeder. When finally one showed up just before Christmas I was very pleased. He was a little skitterish and as soon as he saw a reflection in the window he was gone. Over time he must have gotten used to us and would sit for a short period of time on the sill in the kitchen window. Then one day Laurence heard a strange noice and here was the cardinal, flying again and again in the window for about 5 minutes and then he would disappear. Then I remembered a neighbour, complaining of a cardinal doing that same thing over and over again. I wonder what it sees in the window. It always is at about the same time of the day, later on in the morning. This morning I happen to be close and have my camera handy and I managed to get a few pictures. Most did not turn out. By the time I took the picture, the bird was long gone.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011


Yesterday was our guild meeting and like most other months I made a day out of it. I make a list of things to do and yesterday it took all morning to get the things I needed .Jenny will be here this coming week-end and we will be working on a few craft projects. More about that next week. To get ready I had to clean up and I found a few kimono's I had made. It was a shame to put them back in the drawer. I came up with an idea for a small quilt. I put a few stitches of sashiko on the side ,fused the background around a piece of Timtex and sewed the ends with a zigzag stitch. Before I fused the back, I stitched the kimono to the front in a few spots. I have a few more kimono's and plan to make a few more of these small quilts. I have been appliqueing these tulips and I had fun finding the right fabric. All the pieces for these tulips came out of one piece of Phil Beaver fabric. I had bought it out west a few years ago and never found a good project to use it. Now I would have liked more. You get this effet by cutting very selectively and it does not take long and the "best" spots have been used. As I mentioned, yesterday afternoon was our guild meeting. As usual in February the programs in done by members, since the weather quite often is bad. Not yesterday. It was above freezing and sunny. We had our annual chair sale and I was very, very lucky. I arrived early and spotted one of the earlier books by Elly Sienkiewicz, the one I did not have, for $1, yes that is $1. I bought that right away. Then I spotted a piece of fabric I have looked for for a long time and got that for $2. It is not often that I'm lucky, but yesterday was my day. Five members had each a 10 minute demonstration and as usual you always learn a few things. All in all a good day.
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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Farmer Hofstra

When our children were still small I did some supply teaching and one day the librarian gave me a small book to read. It was called " The cow, who fell in the canal" The drawings were very well done and showed scenes of years gone by in Holland. When I opened the book and started to read I had to chuckle. The cow belonged to farmer Hofstra. Now my maiden name is Hofstra and my father was known in the area as farmer Hofstra. I could not find a copy in the store and the librarian was kind enough to get me a copy, which our kids loved to read. But as they grew older, the book was stored with the other childern's book and forgotten. Now forward about 30 years and we are in Amsterdam. On one of our walks a few weeks ago we ended up the old "Nieuwe Kerk" I guess it is the newest of the old churches. It was close to closing time, and we could not go through it, but the store was still open and since it was cold outside and we were tired we popped in. My cousin came up to me and asked me, if I had ever seen this small book about a cow, who fell in the canal.It was the same book I had at home! And it was in English I don't think that it was ever available in Dutch. I could not pass this up and bought a couple. They would make nice stocking stuffers. The next day we went through the Rijksmuseum, where we saw all the fantastic paintings and pottery and so much more. At the end you come to the museum store. And there, in the kiddy corner was another copy, this time 2/3 the size of the book at home. Had to buy another copy! By that time I had bought quite a few books, so I had to keep in mind, that I had to take all this stuff with me on the plane. Now to the real farmer Hofstra. He did wear similar work clothes as you see in the book, but I do not have a good picture of my dad in his working day clothes. My mother was the kind of person, who made you change in your "good" clothes before a picture was taken. But here is a picture of my father at a favorite activity of his, a show of his beloved Frisian horses.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


One of the places I wanted to visit in Holland was Makkum,where the Tichelaar Family has made pottery for over 400 years. On a cold and rainy Monday my cousin Sippy took me to see some Delft Blue pottery. Located in these old buildings they still make the plates, pots and vases, that they are known for. At the back was added a very modern ,light show room, where you can buy the old style pottery as well as very modern pieces. They were very accomodating and I could take pictures as much as I wanted. One thing had changed. We could not tour the actual factory anymore, but had to watch through windows. This was a fantastic piece( below), used long ago to show of tulips. That was in the time, that tulips were worth more than gold. They had done restauration work on some pieces for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and decided to make a few new ones. And what a job it must have been! One was left without the blue decorations and that gave it a very modern look. I would have loved to take some of the bigger pieces home with me, but after my fall I thought it better not to try. The first place I stayed in Friesland was at my sister's. They live in a 100 year old house which has been fixed up with a lot of the old things still in place. Included in that are a lot of old tiles in the living room, kitchen and outside beside the front door and above the windows. All are close to 100 years old.It was here, that I saw the book about the Tichelaar Family for the first time. In the book were pictures of the tiles and and of this house. As you can see, they made a lot more than what we think of as Delft blue pottery. It seems that they were very good at changing as the times changed. That might be one of the reasons, that they is still in business after more than 4 centuries. I did buy the book, so I can have a better look now that I'm home. And I could not go home without at least a few small gifts. For Tony and Jenny, who plays the French horn, I found this horn player and for Shawn and Emily I had a choice of different horse and riders. And yes, I got them home safely. It has been back to work for me. The crazy quilt is almost finished. It is hanging on my frame and it is (almost) square and it hangs straight. I will have to go over it with a magnifying glass to try and catch all the loose ends, but I'm happy I did not give up. It took me almost 5 years, of and on. We missed the BIG storm. We were warned, that we might get up to 30 cm of snow, but it ended up with about 5 to 10, but with some wind. Schools were closed, but all the roads around here were open. It was just a good day to stay inside and get some work done.
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