Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yarn Along - Fire Man Sam

Tino continues his obsession with all things Fire Man/Engine/Station and talks endlessly of when he's grown up and is a real fire fighter, with his best friend Logan and Ringo the doggie as part of his team!  He's watched every episode of Fire Man Sam in english and french, is now 'surfing' youtube for the german versions, and delights in telling us the names of the characters in each language.  So no prizes for guessing who this little chap is for...
much quicker to knit that to sew up!!

I've finished and hung up my crochet flower bunting and have added a few motifs to My Favorite Things Infinity Scarf.

After an extremely snowy winter we are experiencing a very warm april.  There's much activity outside in the garden these days - we've sown  onions, garlic and carrots in the ground and corn, beets, squash, peas and basil in the cold frame.  Things have calmed down for Richard at work so he's been busy building me a new table.
Hidden to me in this pile of lumber...

...Richard saw this beautiful table!!

I was even allowed to help - where there were no power tools involved!

So I'm managing only a few pages of  10 Ways To Destroy The Imagination of Your Child each evening before nodding off.  While parts of this book are enthralling, parts of it are a tad too long winded for my liking!
Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.  What have you been knitting, reading, planting, building etc this week?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Re-cycled pocket seed pocket

Gosh how I loved this hoodie!  
But unfortunately it got washed a little to hot a few to many times.
I intentionally finished off the unintentional felting process and have been using it for various wee projects.

First it got made into these handwarmers, and just recently into a seed pocket for Linda's Seed Swap Party.

I stared by cutting out one of the front pockets, which meant that I had no side seams to sew up!! Rémi made me a wooden button and I used the hood cord for fastening it up.
Then came the hard part - for me anyhow - embroidering a little seed evolution design on the front.
I've never embroidered more that faces on toys so this was a bit of a challenge.  My sister-in-law recommended using simple running and chain stitches.
But I must say, I'm very motivated to learn more!

I even whipped up this handle for my new cast-iron pan, but no pretty flowers on this one.  It's hard enough getting Richard to cook as it is, I don't want to go making the utensils look all 'girly'!!

Linking up with Nicole today for Keep Calm Craft On

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 Link Up - March 2014

only when the last tree has died
and the last river been poisoned
and the last fish been caught
will we realize we cannot eat money
                           - Cree Indian Proverb

 Linking up with Christine for Slow Living Essentials, looking forward to seeing what everyone has to share this month.

Tino, who has always eaten everything and will would try anything, is now claiming that pears, carrot sticks and chick peas are the only things he likes!  It could be worse, but still, why do children get 'difficult' with food like this? Needless to say, I'm currently whisking up batches of hummus left right and centre, he likes it heavy on the garlic and tahin paste.

Oh, and he likes cake too!
According to the 'old folk', drinking 'Séve de Bouleau' aka Birch Sap, helps prepare the body for the change of season!!  Not wanting to fly in the face of tradition we are doing like wise. This year the sap is crystal clear but last spring I remember Richard's uncle trying to convince me to taste something that looked suspiciously like a urine sample!!
Fresh sap lasts 36 hours in the fridge but can be preserved longer by adding cinnamon and cloves.  We are just drinking it when and as it comes.  When the sap has finished rising up the trunk the hole that the tap leaves will need to be plugged up to protect the tree.  By this time the dandelion leaves will be up and ready for harvesting.  Richard's aunty swears by their roots - it's her spring detox program.  Every year I try to eat a few but personally I think they taste foul, no matter how you dress them up!

The boys enjoy going to fetch it...

... and having a little tipple.
Stared off a few seeds in jiffy planters indoors, which I've now put outside in the cold frame that Richard very kindly made for me.  I haven't told him yet but I think it might need an extension.  It's been very warm here the last few days, and at the moment the ground has defrosted.  It's very tempting to put in some potatoes but it's too early, we will get frost again!!

Gone over to homemade dishwasher detergent using a borax free recipe found here.  I use their laundry powder mix also.  Any tips on using essential oils in the washing machine?  I've tried putting mine in the rinse compartment and directly into the washing powder, but my laundry never has any scent when it comes out of the machine.

A local village has just opened a new tourist office with great big publicity windows out front, displaying huge photos of all the fun things to do in the area.  Imagine Richard's surprise when he discovered that he's  the 'face' of mountain biking!! He remembers a photographer taking some pictures of him one day and giving her a business card, but she never contacted him to ask permission to use the images.   He doesn't really mind that much, jokingly remarked that it's good publicity provided you recognize him under all that gear!! (I wouldn't have)
"look it's daddy"
Seems he's 'appearing' everywhere at the moment - I happened to stop by my m.i.l's house in the week and she was watching a film about the famous alpinist Reinhold Messner.  Richard was an extra in the movie and if you know what he was wearing, what scene he is in and you don't blink at that precise instant you get to see him (fleetingly) on the TV!!

Completely at a loss with this one for March so here's a picture of Ringo instead
6 months old now - doesn't time fly when you have a puppy chewing his way through your house!
The kids call him our ecological vacuum cleaner.
Happy crochet flower bunting!  I figured that if I put up some flowers the spring will come - you know like when you are waiting for guests, you switch on the kettle and bingo they turn up!
Also working on a Fire Man doll for Tino, which thankfully is knitting up super quick because he wants it 'now please'!

Been recycling old t-shirts into spaghetti yarn to make a rug, adding a rows as I get given a t-shirts.  A friend just donated a big bag to me so they need to be cut up then I'll be supplied for a little while.

Last summer whilst helping out at the North Face Ultra Trail, I ran into a couple that I hadn't seen since the death of their son, whom I worked with at the time, 10 years ago.  We've since kept in touch and whilst they were recently spending a few weeks in Chamonix they came over for dinner (they insisted on cooking).  Turns out they know my f.i.l (who doesn't) and my s.i.l, so they came over too.  We had a wonderful evening and were never once at a loss for something to say.  Richard built our house 12 years ago and I think they were very touched to find out that their son had actually helped us with parts of it!!

Been having some great times with Richard, the boys and Ringo...

With a bit of luck, this will be my last Slow Living post containing snow for a few months - yippy!!
How was your month of March?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Yarn Along - Going around the bend

As often is the case in spring, after a winter of knitting, I get bitten by the crochet bug.  So out came the bag of old t-shirts for 'spinning' into spaghetti yarn.  This is my second attempt at a oval rug and it seems to be progressing in a fairly pleasing oval shape.   I don't quite recall how I did the increases on the previous mat but this time I'm working the 'bend' at each end much as one would when working in the round, i.e
2 tr in the same stitch, 1 tr in the next stitch (x3)
2 tr in same stitch, 1 tr in next 2 stitches (x3)
2 tr in same stitch, 1 tr in next 3 stitches (x3) etc etc
Obviously the difference in thickness of each t-shirt distorts the shape a little but with a good blocking at the end I think it will make a presentable oval.

We've had snow here again.  I need some color, all this white is getting a little tiring on the eyes.  These little flowers are instant brightness.  They're very easy to do and work up so quickly.  Bunting here we come!

My ripple is still alive and kicking and is approximately 16,400 stitches in size - not even at the half way mark yet! See the metal/plastic crochet hook? turns out it's much less appetizing than my bamboo one, keeping a close eye on my other two projects though.
On the reading front, I'm two chapters into A Long Retreat - the eight year spiritual journey of Andrew Krivak into the Jesuits Order, to the Dominican Republic, Central Europe, Moscow and the Bronx before finally leaving the priesthood for married life and fatherhood.
Linking up with Ginny today, what are you creating and reading this week?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Richi's photo shoot - What ever will they think of next!

Richard just received the pictures from his recent photo shoot.  It was an advertising spot for a mountain bike holiday on snow!!!
He claims he was hired for his dashing good looks and not for his ability to hold the 'pose' until the light conditions were just so!!  Turns out the whole thing was wrapped up pretty quickly, "owing to the extreme professionalism of the photographer and his subject" - (quote Richard)  
Nice pictures, not to sure about the product though. Call me an old traditionalist if you will, but I like skis on snow!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Slow Living Essentials - February 2014

la moraine d'Argentiere - cross country ski track
March 1st - St Davids Day
February has been a snowy month.  In general it always is but this year even more so.  By mid month I was getting seriously fed up of the stuff and the constant heavy snow filled skies that accompanied it.  But this last week or so, to the delight of the tourists and locals alike, the weather has been playing ball - heavy snow fall in the night and blue skies and sunshine in the day time.  Now thats better!!
So it with lifted spirits that I'm joining in with Christine for Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 Link up.

We've pretty much depleted everything from the garden (with the exception of jams and chutneys) so I've been turning to store bough to make this fantastic Butternut Squash Casserole, featured the last issue of Taproot magazine.  It's so adaptable - this particular time I added some left over spinach.

I also tried my hand at gluten free bread with a store bough mix that was so foul even the fowl wouldn't touch it!
We have a great organic supermarket down the valley which stocks a varied array of products but it has a very limited choice of flours. Thus i'm having difficulty getting my hands on the raw ingredients to make my own homemade gluten free bread.  The solution, you might be thinking, is the internet, but here's the problem with that...

... heavy goods traffic!  It's polluting our pure alpine air.  And it's only by choosing what we buy that we can ever hope to have some control over this flow of traffic.  The Mont Blanc Tunnel goes from Chamonix, France to Courmayer in Italy, and, as it's name implies, passes under, the Mont Blanc mountain range (you need crampons and ice-axes to go over it!).  It's mighty handy for popping over the border for a cup of very fine tasting coffee, but also for criss-crossing Europe with strawberries grown in southern spain and enjoyed in the alps at the height of winter!!!
While I'm up here on my soap box let me give you another example of utter stupidity - potatoes that are grown in Belgium are brought to France to be peeled and cut into french fries before returning 'home ' to be consumed!!  So, the hidden cost of buying things on-line for me is that I increase this already saturated traffic problem.
A protest march was organized at the beginning of the month to draw public attention to the problem, and I proudly carried a banner along side my father-in-law, my son's school teacher and about a 1000 concerned others.  The local Mayer is actively engaged in the combat as are most of the Doctors from the entire region, and many alternatives to decrease the heavy goods traffic have been proposed, so fingers crossed that the powers that be are listening.  If they are not we may have to get LOUD!

For this last month I've been busy with a Mystery KAL, while the boys have been playing with paper and wood

Despite recently buying a freezer with the intention of grocery shopping only every two weeks I'm sill only managing 7-10 days without a trip to the shops.
Still don't have the sense to prepare double helpings of meals to freeze either!  I really need to work on this one as in the long run it will save me time in the kitchen.

Organic or Local? - that is the question.  Local organic is the solution but unfortunately, rarely an option. With the need to reduce the goods traffic in the valley I've been buying local (ish).  The red flag with white cross means that the produce is from the Savoie region - we are in the Haute Savoie.  It's most definitely not a guarantee of organic goods but is often promoted as 'reasonable agriculture' - meaning as little pesticide as possible has been used.

Finally converted Richard to home made deodorant!!   After putting it to the cross-county ski-ing sweaty test he reported back that it 'really does work'!!

Managed to keep two basil plants alive all winter (so far), they are still producing leaves but they don't have much of a smell.  Didn't have the same success with a  Grow Your Own Bonsai Tree Kit -  couldn't get a single seed to sprout?

A few changes at the Chamonix Ladies Book Club - from this month on, not only will we be exchanging books but collectively reading the same book.  The chosen novel for march is Animal Farm.  I'm not a fan of dystopian tales but I think I will give it a go all the same.

Celebrated my birthday at a local hotel with Richard and the boys.  Tino visited the desert buffet more times than was healthy before wiping his chocolaty chops in the table cloth!!!

birthday gifts from my loved ones - Thank you all.
Richard's planning this winter has afforded him much more time with the family, so we've enjoyed lunch dates, ski outings and my firm favorite - sunday morning pancakes.
even more tasty when hubby makes them!
March 1st - St Davids Day - ski-ing at Les Choselets
sunny afternoons
How was your month?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Yarn Along and my first fat quarter

Phew - finito! 

Never thought I was going to come to the end of those l-o-n-g clue 5A rows!!
All the stitch counts came out right but I'm not sure I've done the last clue correctly.  The edge doesn't look as 'pointy' as it does on other people's  5A's?
It's been blocked but it's already starting to curl up.
 Oh well, never mind, I'm not frogging it now!!
Not quite sure how I'm going to wear it but I'm sure I will, some way or other.

Bought my first fat quarter last week.  I told Richi that I intend making us a patchwork quit for our 25th wedding anniversary, so that gives me approximately 15 years to get it done! Sewing projects never seem to graduate from the w.i.p basket around here so even with my best intentions this may never be more than a pillow case.  I think I should make the squares fairly big, I'll need to see it progressing rapidly if I'm to stay motivated.

Halfway through Sophie's World, my third attempt since university (all those years ago).  Can't believe I've never made it to the end before! - it's great stuff - 3,000 years of thought in 400 pages, as told to 15 year old Sophie by the mysterious Alberto Knox, her philosophy teacher and his dog/postman Hermes.
Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along today.