Friday, December 31, 2010

year's end

hope you've all had a restful wind up to the old year, and are ready for the new, whether you've got big plans for tonight or just a quiet evening in. i think ours will be a fairly mellow evening, a few friends over for a bit of eating and drinking, maybe a wii competition (wow, that sounds lame). we'll see how it plays out, but i have zero expectations, so it can't go wrong. the weather has been very cold and clear the last few days, the ground and plants crunchy with frost. in contrast, i thought i'd share some photos taken during a christmas day walk with A and my mom.


the days leading up to christmas were a bit, er, stormy, to say the least. however, there was a bit of a break the next day that allowed us to get outside for a bit. moisture clung to everything, as the earth and every bit of surface was fully saturated with water. i love the way the drops hang amongst all the branches, little mirrors floating in the air.

after the storm

the winds and waves had done their work on the beaches, piling up carpets of driftwood even on the sheltered side of the beach. in the photo above it's a bit hard to see where lands stops and the sea begins. we were walking at rebecca spit provincial park, which is a finger of land poking out into the ocean.

driftwood and grey clouds

on the more exposed side of the spit, the driftwood pile-up was much the same, with the ocean showing a bit more energy as the wind started to pick up again. the clouds hung low over the nearby islands, completely obscuring the high mountain peaks of the coast range beyond. we watched as a bald eagle swooped in circles overhead, from the open space to the trees and back, avoiding the pestering gulls who chased after. i was too in awe of his power to remember the camera in my hand.

moss & lichen

i love the many variations of moss and lichen to be seen, even on just one small branch.

big cloth in progress

lastly, i wanted to share what the big cloth finally looks like. this is the gift that did not get finished in time for my parents. above my mom is holding it in place where it will hang when finally completed. it is all handstitched. i'm glad i didn't rush through it though, so i have the time to think on it a bit and make sure it ends up how i wanted. much stitching still to go, but it's definitely taking shape. i was also glad to get a good look at it in daylight too - never being home during the day and many evenings spent stitching meant i had kind of lost the real colours and dimensions of it. this gives me a good regroup to see what i still want to do.

wishing you and yours and happy end to the old year and all the best for the new! i'll be back this long weekend with another post or two.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


young buck

it seems the last few days have been full of creatures, both wild and fenced. my parents' property tends to be especially overrun, but at this time of year it seems easier to spot wild animals as they come out in the open in search of food. above is a black-tailed deer i spotted out the window on boxing day. there are often does and their young moving through the yard, but a buck is a slightly more rare sight. he was very alert, and once he saw me he stepped quickly up the drive into the forest's edge, although once there seemed a bit more secure and paused to nibble some leaves before disappearing. in this second shot you can see him high-stepping along with isabella the sheep watching in the background (i suspect she was more interested in me, and if i had any treats to offer!).

Jumper in the muck

speaking of sheep, there are three ewes right now on the "farm". after the torrential rain we had for several days on end, they were looking at bit worn and wet, but probably a lot warmer than me with those thick wool coats.

alfalfa-head Cookie

Cookie seemed to have made a good mess of herself, turning into a green sheep from her eagerness to eat her alfalfa.

disheveled alpacas

the sheep have two alpaca neighbours, who seemed a bit more put out by the rain, or rather the indignity of being photographed in such condition. i guess they all have covered areas to be in when the weather sets in, but usually prefer to be out in the field, so it can't be all that bad. however cuzco was not thrilled as i snapped a few shots of him - a few later on have him with his ears flattened in displeasure, and i suppose i was lucky i was not within spitting range. the second set of ears behind him belong to quito, who is generally a bit more friendly. quito is also a full alpaca, while cuzco is half alpaca and half llama.


as mentioned on monday, the birds were frantic around the feeders much of the weekend as stormy weather blew through. my mom usually tries to put out enough food for each day, but not too much to avoid nighttime visitors. three fat masked bandits appeared on the deck on sunday night though, eagerly scooping up any bird seed left to be found. the two smaller ones were a bit more shy and ducked into the shadows, but big mama racoon was feeling a bit more brave even as my young nephews squealed eagerly on the other side of the glass.

varied thrush

finally back at home, things were a bit more quiet at my own feeders. this varied thrush visits often though (i can only assume it is the same one each time), darting about the lawn and bird house and up into the bare fruit trees as he flits about the yard.

what about you? do you notice the wild animals more at this time of year? or is it just different animals that you see than in the warm months?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

a small pod...

made up of three different species, but they seem to make a happy group, ready to swim through the oceans together, or just sit and be admired.

humpback whale #4

A's mom is a great supporter of all the crafty things i do, and was the recipient of the first landscape piece i made. she was a big fan of the first humpback whales i made, so i was thrilled when A's dad commissioned me to make her a set of three for christmas. however, i had one suggestion which he readily agreed to.

minke whale

while i like the three humpbacks together, i thought it might be more interesting to have three different whales if one was going to have a set. so i set about creating the three that you see here. at top is another humpback whale, in the middle just above is a little minke, and at the bottom is a grey whale. all three can be found in the coastal waters around here. the minke is a bit smaller than the other two, as he is in real life. minkes are rare to be spotted, slipping cleanly through the waters alone.

grey whale

i enjoyed making the grey whale the most i think, although there was lots of stitching to do. greys are all over lighter in colour than humpbacks, with lots of scarring and barnacles covering their skin. they have much shorter flippers than most other whales, and their throat pleats are much less noticeable or numerous than the two above (in this case i skipped them altogether).

i'm planning to make some more of all three of these for the shop next month, as well as many other oceanic creatures. i think i may finally tackle an orca (which i think i have been avoiding simply because they are the most commonly spotted around here), as well as a white-sided dolphin or two (in honour of my friend Erin, the dolphin-studying graduate student). there should also be lots of littler creatures. i hope you'll check back to see what i've come up with.

today is my last day before back to work, and while i'd like to do some crafting, i imagine a fair bit of time will be spent cleaning and organizing the house. the sun seems to be peeking through a bit too, so i will make sure to get outside for a bit of fresh air as well. hope you do too!

Monday, December 27, 2010

popping in...

just wanted to say a quick hello with a few pictures from the past few days. i've got more images to go through, and hope to share more soon! hope you had a restful holiday. i don't have to be back at work until wednesday, so am enjoying a little recoup time back at home after lots of family time over the weekend.

christmas eve storm

we had a miserable southeaster come through, starting on the 23rd. on christmas eve, the wind was howling and the rain fell sideways. i snapped a few shots on the way up island, but there was no way i was getting out of my car! thankfully the ferry to my parents' island was running, although it was a bit a of rocking ride!


inside my parents' house, all was warm and cozy as the wind swirled around outside. my parents are from denmark, so we celebrate with a big dinner and present opening on christmas eve.

ornaments on the tree

my dad got the tree this year with the help of my niece (7) and one of my nephews (8). and then my mom and niece did the decorating. i think it looked wonderful.

fox sparrow

the day before, we had watched the birds frantically feeding in the cold. they had trouble with the suet feeder though as it whipped around in the wind. this fox sparrow had a bit more luck on christmas day, when the wind died down, at least for a little bit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

mouth watering...

bacon amazingness

just checking in before the holidays to wish you a good one. i have been baking up a storm tonight, as well as some treats made over the past week. above are super delicious smoky bacon ginger cookies. i actually got the recipe from the current edition of martha stewart cookies, but the linked recipe is almost exactly the same. these are so deadly, but how could you go wrong with bacon? yum.

cheddar jalepeno cookies

a few people have been making these cheddar jalepeno cookies, and i'm glad i finally got around to it. flaky and delicious, i think they'll be nice when the sweet overload of christmas gets too much. who am i kidding, they're delicious anytime.

obviously neither of the above are particularly healthy cookies, but 'tis the time of year, no? i did try and sub in some whole wheat flour, and even a little ground chia/flax seed mix, but let's not kid ourselves. i also made some orangettes the other night (yummy but messy to make) and last week made my usual chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies. so you could say i am well-stocked with treats, many of which i will be taking with me tomorrow as i head to the small island where my parents live for a couple days of family and relaxing.

unfortunately, i did not finish the big present. yup, i had to admit it just wasn't going to happen. but i am confident the recipients will be accepting of getting a present that will then be reclaimed for a few more days of work. i could have rushed through it, but i felt that i would be unhappy with the hurried result (and ever after just seen the things i wished i'd done on it), plus my hands and shoulders were suffering from the constant stitching. so you'll have to wait a bit longer to see it, although i will probably share a bigger look at it once it has been gifted tomorrow night.

for now though, wishing you all some comfort and joy. whether you are celebrating or not, i think this time of year is good for a bit of reflection and rest, and i plan to spend some time with loved ones (and good food and drink!). i should be back in a few days with some more gift projects to share, plus some new things in the works. peace, k.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

diy heat pads

i'm worn out. first day on the hill, lots of deep powder, and my legs are very tired. unfortunately, visibility was terrible and we didn't even make it for a full day. powder loses some appeal when you can't even really see it, let alone anything else farther than about 50 ft. hard to have fun when you're worried about hitting things and other people, and can't really see the slope of the snow either. but it was still a fun first day out with a couple girl friends, and i feel like i got my exercise for the day.

heat pack - homemade gifts

so i promised yesterday that i had a little last minute gift idea to share. the comfort pad, microwaveable heat pack, whatever you want to call it. this is not a tutorial really, as a quick google search will give you several others to choose from. i was inspired by parikha's post, although i skipped the awesome gathered top she did as the ones i made are for men. but i will tell you how i made mine, in brief form anyway.

heat pack - homemade gifts

i made a rectangular pouch, roughly 14" by 7", by cutting white quilting cotton twice that length, folding it in half, and sewing it securely closed while leaving an opening of a few inches at one end. i then turned it right side out and pressed it flat. i filled my packs with flax seed, roughly 900g each (they might be a little too full). there are many options for fill, but i thought flax was a suitable and cheap option. i also managed to spill it several times - i recommend a funnel to do this properly! i then top-stitched the opening closed (make extra sure you sew securely - i obviously did not the first time and had a little flax seed leak, again!). this is your main pack.

heat pack - homemade gifts

i then made a washable cover for the packs that can be removed easily. in this case i chose some soft chambray that i had on hand, and added a few patterned stripes inserted in the middle to liven it up (again, without getting too "crazy" for the boys) . i cut these the long way again, and made them a few inches longer than the original rectangles, so that i could fold over and stitch the ends neatly. i then folded the rectangle so that the patterned stripes would be positioned on the front and the ends at the back would overlap while leaving an opening (right sides facing in). through the sewing machine again along the long edges to finish the pack (you can see one inside out in the above pic), then turned right side out and pressed again. i then slipped the white cotton pack inside the cover, and voila, finished heat pack.

heat pack - homemade gifts

again, these instructions are probably not particularly clear, so please let me know if you have any questions, or check out parikha's tutorial above. i think these are great idea for a quick gift (i made two in about an hour) that will be appreciated by most people - who can't use something warm to soothe the aches and sore muscles once in a while?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

miles to go before i sleep...

dreary day

when i woke up this morning, snow was mixing with the rain coming down. it increased to a heavy wet slush that never settled but kept coming down, keeping the day cold and dark. eventually it went back to rain. the trees started moving too, tops swaying back and forth and branches bending as gusts past through. i was just as happy to stay inside today.

and on it goes

my current gift project is becoming a bit of an obsession, as i continue to hope that by some miracle it will be done by next friday. i'm not really sure that will happen though, so i'm trying to prep myself to avoid disappointment. it seems quite likely i will be gifting it, only to reclaim it to take back home for a few more days of work. i've never made a piece this big before, and under such a tight timeline. my hands and my back are stiff and sore. only for family would i probably make this effort. i'm still on the fence over how it's progressing, but i have high hopes.

long to go before i sleep

it's very blue at this point. but really, how can you have a west coast landscape without lots of blue? i'm working on adding in some brown and other colours right now though, so finally it's starting to evolve into a more complete look. so many stitches to go...i think tonight will be a late one. but i'm taking tomorrow off - going to give my arms a rest and use my legs instead (which have been underused recently as i sit and stitch) and go up to the ski hill, strap on my board, and get in some fluffy white turns (i hope!).


in the grey and brown that predominates lately, the rosehips seem to be the one bright spot of colour. little globes of orange red popping out between branches.

if you are still looking for quick make-it-yourself gifts, i am going to share something tomorrow that i also made today. nothing nearly as labour-intensive as the above, i promise. and hopefully they'll be a hit with the recipients. please check back...

Monday, December 13, 2010

ducks and other birds

a seriously low cloud kind of day

I mentioned before that the estuary and river are full of birds this time of year, and as you can probably see from the photo above, i wasn't kidding. i brought my telephoto lens with me yesterday in the hopes of capturing some of the different birds. the geese don't seem to be settling too much, only seen flying overhead and honking as they pass by. there is always an eagle or two to be seen, along with a great blue heron, and the ever present gulls. but the ducks in particular are very busy in both the slow moving waters of the estuary and bay and the swift high water in the river.

green winged teal

there were a few of these green winged teals moving in and out of the reeds, occasionally puffing up their chests as they pushed themselves higher out of the water in display.

mallard pair

the mallards were predominant, both in the estuary and in the river as seen here.

glaucous winged gull

always glaucous winged gulls to be seen. i liked this guy, who seems to still be holding on a little to some of his juvenile plumage before his head becomes pure white. i liked the horizontal grasses as well, flattened from the river's movement when the water was higher (the bottom part here is also heavily affected by the tide from the bay).

wigeon pair

many of the ducks were busy nibbling away with their heads tucked underwater, and i only managed to capture these widgeons in a quick instant where they pulled their heads up. there were also several mergansers, scoters and others that dove repeatedly, making tricky targets to catch in the low light. the cloud hung low in the sky (as seen in the top photo) like a heavy blanket. incidentally, i checked the web cam at the ski hill and saw sunshine(!) so it seems if you could get above the clouds it was an okay day. but i also heard they had rain earlier in the day, so i was just as happy i didn't go up and fork out money to play in the snow. the freezing level is due to drop today though, so here's hoping fresh snow will fall.

hope you had a good weekend, inside or out! i hope all the bird talk didn't bore you - there will be more craftiness to share soon!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


worn sky

it's beginning to look a lot like, well, like i'm fighting a cold. argh. that's not really how i was hoping to approach this weekend. the days are disappearing fast as christmas approaches, and as usual, i'm not doing very well at just "enjoying" the days, but rather budgeting all my not-at-work time for lots of other work. the truth is, really, that i enjoy all of it, but sometimes just wish i was a better planner, and perhaps not so much of a procrastinator.

above is a little peek at a gift i'm working on, for someone who rarely asks for anything. i'm hoping they will like it, and hoping i will finish in time. there is still much stitching to be done, but it is building slowly, layer by layer. these worn holes are part of an old sheet my sister gave me years ago. i had salvaged some of the better hole-less pieces from it for earlier projects, but only now am i starting to appreciate the rips and tears and seeing new purpose in them. these bits are becoming a ragged sky, torn up behind mountain peaks.


while i'm not working on anything for my shop just at the moment, i've been plugging away at a few custom orders. this little one above is part of that, but he is also inspiration for a shop update i hope to do early in the new year, a larger collection of ocean creatures. sorry to be so secretive, but it's just that time of year i suppose.

holiday vignette

a dark sort of day here, and i imagine tomorrow will be too. since i'm not getting up to the ski hill yet, it will probably be another day at home, stitching away and puttering around. bread was baked today - tomorrow there will be cookies. i hope i'll find time for a walk though; a little fresh air is always a good idea, even when it's wet and windy. better go take something to clear my head now though, so i can breathe to sleep tonight!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Mitts for sister...

mitts for sister

my sister's birthday was yesterday. i didn't get to see her, but today her and our mom came down for a nice lunch out and a bit of shopping. even in our relatively quiet town, i get worn out from tramping from store to store, and i'm glad to be home again, watching the glow of the christmas lights i put up yesterday and the two candles now lit for advent.

mitts for sister

i always have trouble finding something for my sister. we are eight years and a generation apart, and although we get along well, we don't have similar tastes at all. when you factor in that her birthday is so close to christmas, and so i have to be thinking about another gift for just a few short weeks later, i tend to really struggle. so while i have not figured out christmas just yet, i hope she was happy with these fingerless mitts i knit up this week. full details can be found here. i knit them from a sturdy superwash wool (my sister can not be counted on to handwash), in a pale icy blue colour. considering she showed up today with a coat and scarf in the same shade, i knew at least the colour was a win. i'm hoping she'll get some use out of them on cold mornings heading to work or taking the kids to school. i wrapped them with a nice candle for these dark days.

mitts for sister

so that's one project down. so many more to go before the big day - yikes. i better get on it. i always try to incorporate some relax time into this month, but i also always have big goals for gifts. i always have trouble in stores - either the items just seem cheap, or i figure i could make something better. if only i could get more organized and start earlier...

Friday, December 03, 2010

waning days of a darkness...

or at least that's how i like to think about it, as we count down that last few weeks until the solstice and things start to turn around again.

dark sky

another recent walk, down by the river estuary. i love looking at all the spent plants and flowers, stark and bare. i think only recently have i noticed how much beauty they have in their own right, separate from summer's bounty. the pale yellow and golds of many stalks are surprisingly warm against the generally grey sky, and their architectural shapes are so pronounced.

silhouettes by the water

unfortunately, i forgot my telephoto lens at home for this trip. the estuary is full of birds at this time of year: many kinds of duck and geese, gulls, bald eagles, and occasional herons and trumpeter swans. i will definitely bring it next time - perhaps this weekend? - so i can get some good shots of the wildlife. i have a good bird book, and i think i know many species, but there are many ducks i am unfamiliar with. maybe that will be a goal over the winter, to learn a few more. looking at some of their wonderful plumage, it also gives me stitching ideas...


gartley bay

the sky, as usual, was threatening. i think that's just a common state for this time of year. they are forecasting a bit of sun for tomorrow so hopefully i can find a bit of it to warm me up. then again, sun in winter usually means a cold day around here, so once again i'll be bundled tightly - all except my fingertips, which generally get numb holding my camera!


hope you have a bit of sunshine for your weekend too! i think there'll be some crafting and baking too, along with a visit with my sister and mom as it is the former's birthday tomorrow. (after which, i can share what a made her!)