A blog about my interests, which include fabric landscapes and various and assorted other artsy pursuits and sometimes known to contain mumblings of a random nature.

Monday, February 29, 2016

you asked...

A couple of you have asked for the bread recipe, so DH is more than happy to oblige...

Simple Kefir Bread

4 c. whole wheat or all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. honey
scant 2 c. kefir*

Combine flour and salt.  Add honey and
1 1/2 c. kefir to flour mixture.  Mix well
and add more kefir until dough is sticky
but pulls away from side of bowl.
Knead 5-10 mins.  Transfer to oiled
bowl, cover and let stand in a warm place
12-24 hours.  Punch down, place in 
loaf pan, cover and let rise until reaches the
top of pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 mins.

* Kefir is a type of yogurt that you can make at home.  You will need to purchase kefir grains to begin with (although I imagine you can buy kefir at any health food store and use it in this recipe).  Rather than me trying to explain any further, here are a couple of sites where you can read more about it....


There are many uses for kefir - we've been drinking it for breakfast (with the addition of a little bit of hazelnut liquid coffee creamer)...yum!   The probiotic benefits are incredible, but I'll warn you now - the stuff multiplies!!  

The Grande Plan/Folly continues, to the detriment of my creaky bones.  See?.....

Right now it looks like a blob with pins stuck in it!!

Another autograph, dated Jan. 26th, 1940....

When things don't go to suit you
And the world seems upside down
Don't waste your time in fretting
But drive away that frown
Since life is so perplexing
It's now the wisest plan
To bear all trials bravely
And smile whenever you can

Friday, February 26, 2016

I'm so hot

And no, I'm not referring to my looks (get your minds out of the gutter!!).  I have spent most of the afternoon slaving over a hot iron (and if you think I'm ironing clothes, you're definitely way off base!) and crawling about on the living room floor.  
Yep, the Grande Plan (or grand folly, depending on what happens next) has begun.  I have pictures.  

These piles (and more besides) are being transformed.

Queen sized sheet,lying on living room floor (and before you ask, the wrinkles will be removed).

Below, a close-up of the beginnings...

There will be bits and pieces of fabrics, vintage and otherwise; bits of things that were made by my grandmother and other bits garnered from friends.  There will be doilies.  And there will be bits of tablecloths.  There will be lace.  And tatting.  

My chiropractor is  going to love me, 
once he finishes yelling at me, that is.

And, just for a change of pace,
here's what DH is playing with this afternoon....

That lump of odd-looking goo is, fingers crossed, going to end up being bread.  We've been playing at making our own kefir and have discovered that it's VERY prolific and now we're on a constant quest to find uses for it.  There is no yeast in this bread - this is what it looks like after 'percolating' overnight. Much like sourdough I guess, but no sugar as there is in most sourdoughs.

Yet another of our experiments.

Another from the autograph book series, dated Dec. 17th 1940....

Forget you that I never will
As long as I can whistle
I might as well forget to yell
When sitting on a thistle

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Totally disagreeable

Today has been a totally disagreeable day.  We have had snow, rain and now freezing rain.  There are icicles forming on our balcony and ice on the windows.  Brrr.  Very glad it's been a stay-at-home day!

I didn't get time today to lay out the 'Grande Plan' project so no pictures to share as yet. the meantime, how about a couple more ancestors?

The lady above, although named on the back, doesn't as yet fit into my family tree.The gentleman below seems to be wearing some sort of official vestment - but I have no idea what its significance might be.

There's a couple of things you might find interesting...

- Judy Cooper recently shared a post showing some of the beautifully stunning embroideries from the '1713 Treaty of Utrecht' exhibit. They are well worth seeing HERE.  

- If you'd like to knit something really cute for Easter (or any other time of the year) there's a little pattern HERE.  

Another in the autograph book series,dated Jan. 1940.... "Be discriminating in your charitable impulses.  After you have given a man a leg up in the world, you often find that the same leg turns around and kicks you"

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

At the brink

I put the last stitch in the latest secret project so you will soon be seeing something creative on this blog.  Mind you, the next project on my list is rather questionable!!  I may have mentioned previously that I have a 'Grande Plan' (imagine that said with an appropriate snooty air!!).  Said 'Plan' involves:

 - the lying of a queen-sized sheet on the living room floor (the only place in this apartment there is space for such an endeavor).  

- the opening of three large-ish bags of white 'bits' of fabrics/vintage pieces/doilies etc. and tossing the pieces in the general direction of the floored sheet

-  much crawling about on said floor arranging and most probably re-arranging all the bits  and even more crawling about pinning things down (hopefully not to the carpet!)

- hauling the lot to the sewing machine and sewing down, using one of my 'fancy' stitches 

- a visit to the chiropractor to re-align my knees

- standing back and deciding whether I've created something worthwhile, or something that looks like critter barf

The Plot Thickens!!

Another in the ancestor series.
I have no idea who this couple is unfortunately.

Here's another of the autograph book pieces, dated July 17, 1938...

You'll find there's nothing sweeter
Clear to the journey's end
Than one who understands you
A good and faithful friend
So here's the whole thing in a line
I'm glad I'm yours and you are mine

Monday, February 22, 2016

Series continuing

My secret stitch project is merrily happening in the background but I'm sorry to say it can't be shared quite yet.  In the meantime, I have two little photos for you to use in your art if you would like....

Both of these are relatives; above is Bella  (Isabella or Isabelle) Ganton and below is Marie Akhurst.
They are both my 1st cousins, two times removed.

I have mentioned a few times over the past week or so that my mother had tuberculosis and spent over three years in a hospital in Muskoka.  I was able to get a copy of the book 'The Plague and I' from the local library and read it over the weekend.  It was written by a patient who was hospitalized at the same time period as my mother (although the author only spent about a year undergoing care).  This book certainly gave me a lot of insight into the horrible 'treatments' that the patients had to undergo....including the barbaric practice of collapsing their lungs under the assumption that if the lung were collapsed it didn't have to work to breathe and therefore would help with healing.  It's no wonder the death rate was so high!!

Here's another of the autographs from Mom's book, this one dated 15/8/40.... 
The flowers rest in season
More loveliness to shed
You've only paused to gain
New strength for days ahead
You've only paused to learn of
The friendships warm and true
That make a loving shelter
In times like this for you

Friday, February 19, 2016

A case of mumbling

You can tell from the title of this post that there's nothing that's stitching that is allowed to be shown here at the moment.  Trust me, there is stitching happening though!

So, I shall mumble once again.  I know - I can hear the collective sigh from here!!

1.  Quinn has sent us over to see a livecam of a Great Horned Owl nest and I must admit I'm now hooked.  Go HERE to see!!

2.  There are some super-cute free patterns for super hero finger puppets for little ones HERE.

3.  These cute little rooster ornaments made me laugh out loud.

4.  Jennifer Clouston has just released a new book 'Fool-Proof Crazy Quilting' and you can read more about it HERE.  Of course you know I have it on my wish list!

5.  There's a great tutorial HERE for making continuous bias tape.

6.  For those of you who like to paint with water colours, there's a tutorial HERE on how to make your own.  Great activity for children to do, but also pretty useful for us as well!

There, if you've stuck with me until now, I will 'reward' you with another in my free series of images...

This one shows my grandmother (Alice Myrtle (Vesey) Webster on the back right), her siblings, and her parents Reuben Vesey and Fannie (White) Vesey.  Alice, who went by her middle name of Myrtle, was born 1893 & died in 1965.  Reuben (1855-1921) and Fannie (1865-1930) and the siblings are Olive (1897-1962); William (1890-1955) Henry (1888-1943); Mary (1905-1969) and Clifford (1902-1964).  

Another of the old autograph book quotes - this one dated Oct. 16, 1938... "This busy world goes round and round and keeps one busy too, but never too much occupied for just a thought of you"

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Christmas,'s not July OR December....

Betcha' that post title made you stop and wonder if I've finally gone off the deep end (something that many of my friends have accused me of doing multiple times already).  Well, anyone who is involved with magazine publication realizes that there's a several month lead-in so that the edition can be put together.

In that light, Pam Kellogg has just put the call out for Christmas themed submissions for an extra-special publication of 'Crazy Quilt Quarterly'.  Think in terms of the way Christmas was when we were kids - lots of tinsel on the Christmas tree and the smell of cookies baking in the air (and the ones we snuck when Mom's back was turned -and  from out of the freezer too!). 

Pam is looking not only for your Christmas and Hanukkah themed crazy quilt projects, but also for your special memories of Christmas.  The deadline is May 1st and you can find more details HERE.  

This sounds like such fun!!

Here's another in my series of old family photos (feel free to snag them and use them in your creations!)...

 Another of the autograph book entries, this one dated July 2, 1939....  "The world, Dwight Morrow once wrote to his son, is divided into people who do things and people who get the credit.  Try if you can to belong to the first class.  There is far less competition"

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One never knows....

Yep, one never knows what you'll find over here at Chez Magpie! Today it's this...

... our latest venture into the unknown.  

#2 son and daughter-in-love sent us kefir grains so we can make our own probiotic kefir.  We now have a couple of jars percolating on the back of the cupboard and a further couple of jars in the fridge ready for drinking and/or baking.  This morning we had some for breakfast with the addition of a little bit of Hazelnut  Coffee Creamer. We were told it tasted like ice cream and it's true!
In the top picture you can see the 'grains' in the bottom of the measuring cup and the bowl.  The jar holds the drained, and now drinkable, product.  The lower picture is a close-up of the grains.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
For those who might be interested, my little tablet is now up and running and connected to the internet (after a little hiccup that Computer Guru Ian dealt with).  Now I have another little black box (with sexy flashing blue lights) sitting on my desk that does mysterious wireless 'things' that magically lets my tablet access the internet.  Amazing!  Not only that, I am now re-training my fingers to type on a new (wireless) keyboard....funny how the letters can be in the same place but it feels totally foreign.  Oh yes, and there's a wireless mouse now too.  Phew!   Talk about advancing into the latest technology in one go.  Oh yeah  - and I had to go and buy a new power bar to be able to run all this 'stuff' and guess what?  It has blue lights too.  Cool.
- - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - -

Here's another of the old family photos for you
to use in your art...

This is my great-grandmother.
Isn't that chair amazing?

Here's another of the entries in the old autograph book, dated Aug. 19, 1938.... "If instead of a gem or even a flower we could cast the gift of a lovely thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angles must give"

Friday, February 12, 2016

Another freebie for you

This handsome fellow  (Freeman Webster) was my 
grandfathers brother,
b. Aug 1892 - d. May 1916 (of consumption)

I mentioned earlier that my mother was a patient in a hospital for tuberculosis (consumption) from 1938-1941.  She didn't talk about it much, but one thing I remember her saying was that they slept outside (on balconies) both winter and summer.  'Fresh air' was the only cure they seemed to know of in those days.  She said that many mornings she had to dig herself out from under a pile of snow.  Hard to imagine.

Even harder to imagine was the fact that only the more affluent patients were allowed to live in the main buildings.  If you were poor, you were placed in tents throughout the grounds.  It's no wonder the death rate was so high.  My mother never mentioned the tents (her memory was affected by a serious car accident when I was little), but I read a very interesting book about the hospital she was in and that's where I found the information about the tents.  

(btw - there were a couple of lovely comments that were left that I wanted to acknowledge...  first, thank you to V.E.(Wales) who left a very informative comment about how that sweater was made; and also to Gloria Elizabeth who suggested I find a book called 'The Plague and I' which is about the experience of having TB in the same time period as my mother.  I have put in a request for it through our local library and hopefully they can locate a copy for me. Thank you to you both - unfortunately you are both 'no reply' and I can't respond directly.)

This is another of the entries that are in the autograph book belonging to my mother.  This one is dated June 3, 1939...

Be reserved, but not sour;
Grave, but not formal;
Bold, not not rash; Humble, but not servile;
Patient, but not insensible;
Constant, but not obstinate;
Cheerful, but not light;
Rather be sweet-tempered than familiar;
Familiar rather than intimate,
and intimate with very few,
and upon good ground with all.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Toys and mumblings

I have a new toy.  And a whole new learning curve ahead of me.  

This new little piece of technology has arrived and now I just have to figure out how to use it.  Scary thought!   I am assured, from various sources, that I will love it.  Wonder how long it will take for me to get to that point?!!

I haven't mumbled for a little while and have come across a few things that might be of interest.

- There's a tutorial HERE for making a beautiful folded ribbon rose.

- How about a cute little crocheted heart for your Valentine?  It's HERE.  

- I absolutely adore this little yo yo dog!!  

- There's a really cute baby blankie tutorial HERE, using that really super soft fabric - they call it 'Cuddle Plush' but I've also seen it called 'Minkie'.  

- For those of you who are enjoying the current adult coloring rage, there are links here to over a hundred free pages.  

- Pam Kellogg has kindly shared three really pretty seam treatment designs for crazy quilting and you can find those HERE.  

Further in the little series of old photos, here's another one.  Please feel free to use in your art work (but I would really love to see what you do!).

This one is also my grandmother (on the right)
and her friend. 

As I've been sorting through these old papers and documents, I stumbled across a poem my mother wrote, dated 1940 (which would have been when she was hospitalized with TB)....

White caps set on a stormy lake
Beneath a sky of grey
A seagull stirred by the moving wind
Sails smoothly across the bay.
A sail boat set by a cool green shore
Rocks heavily in the breeze
And the bright red hues of autumn leaves
Are showing in the trees.
While here I lie on a bed so dull
But in my heart a ray
I dream of the day when my love and I
In our ship of dreams sail away.
I know the ship will sometimes toss
As the waters roughly roll
But I'll feel secure with the one I love
And hold within my soul.

- Evelyn Webster, 1940

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A freebie for you

For the past three days I've been immersed in computer wrangling with family photos, so needless to say there has been nothing of the stitching sort happening around here to show you.  

So, instead I thought I'd share one of the old family photos with you.  You have my permission to use it in your art work (but I would really love to see what you might do with it!).  Over the next while I'll share a few more because the next project 'up' on the embroidery frame has to be a secret.

Here you go...

This picture is of my maternal grandmother
Alice Myrtle Vesey
born in 1893

Continuing with the 'Autograph Book Series'.... 

A smile may be given to many,
It's only of friendship a part,
But give not a kiss unto any
who holds not the love of your heart"

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

More for baby

Another of my friends is expecting a grandbaby, so the new wee one will be receiving this little sweater from me...

The pattern is from a Bernat pattern booklet called 'Baby Love' and uses Softee Baby yarn.  

A bit more information has surfaced concerning the sweater I showed you the other day that was made by my mother.  Sue (Mrs. Noofy) found this reference online and I think it must have been the pattern my mother used, with the addition of a knitted ribbing at the bottom.

It does appear as though there must have been some form of loom used to form the lacy 'bits' which were then joined together with crochet.

Another thing I discovered while going through all those old photos and documents was an autograph book that belonged to my mother.  She spent over three years of her life (1938-1941) as a patient in a tuberculosis hospital and the book came about during that time.  There are a number of wonderful sayings and poems in that book so over the next while I will share some of them with you instead of my normal 'quotes'.  

God is in every tomorrow,
Therefore I live for today, 
Certain of finding at sunrise
Guidance and strength for the way;
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Let There Be Dragons!

Well, one dragon anyway!  

Our grandson, who loves to "roar-rrrrr", will be getting this.  It's actually a sleeping bag, believe it or not.  It's crocheted with a double strand of thick yarn with a size Q crochet hook - almost the size of a broomstick.  Not the easiest thing on arthritic fingers!

The pattern is the 'Bulky & Quick Dragon Blanket' designed by MJ's Off the Hook Designs and is available on Ravelry.  If you end up making one, I would recommend you buy one additional ball of each of the main colours.  I had to re-order  extra to complete this one.

Today your quote is from Peter Yarrow...."Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, and frolicked in the Autumn Mist in a land called Honah Lee.  Little Jacky Paper loved that rascal Puff, and gave him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff"

Friday, February 05, 2016

Done, done, AND done!!

Above - Front of hussif, folded

Left - the back

Below - the inside fold

Outside, unfolded...


I think this will be the last hussif, at least in the foreseeable future anyway.  I don't know anyone else in my immediate circle that are 'in need' of one.  This has ended up being one of my favourites out of all the ones I've made - maybe 8 of them, not sure because I've lost count.

Today your quote is from Jerry Ellis..."We're all only fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make"

Thursday, February 04, 2016

More treasures (of a questionable nature)

The great clean out of memorabilia continues and now I've come up with some 'interesting' (as I said - questionable!) pieces of old clothing.  

First, I found this sweater that my mother made - it appears that the trim is knitted and the main part is some form of crochet.  Very see-thru (and rather risque for the times I think).  

and a close-up...

I've never seen that particular pattern before.

AND, wonder of wonders...

I suspect this baby dress might have adorned my baby body, but not sure on that one.  The detail is amazing (and yes, I know it would benefit from a good ironing).

Two more baby dresses, both of which were mine.  They are both very sheer and (horrors!!!!) pink.  Yuck.  Obviously when I wore them I was too young to have any say in what went on my body!!  

And the find of the day - a wonderful apron that I know was made by my maternal grandmother.  She knitted the most incredible lace and it features prominently on this piece.

And a close-up of the trim.

Now the question arises, what does one DO with such stuff?  The apron is a keeper, but what do you suggest I do with the dresses?  There are actually several more, along with matching slips.  The fabric isn't in great shape (except for the first little dress and the apron), so don't think they would be wearable.  


The quote of the day is from May Smith... "The only place you find success before work is in the dictionary"

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tah Dah (sort of)

This afternoon I took the latest hussif off the embroidery frame, so I guess a 'tah dah' is in order.  I won't show you the whole thing today (the light was gone by the time I was finished so decent pictures weren't an option). In the meantime, here's the final section...

I added the iron and the vine to complete the stitching.  The vine is whipped chain stitch; the flowers are web stitches overlaid with lazy daisies with a red bead in the centre; and the leaves are simply three seed beads surrounded by another lazy daisy.  

For those of you who like to felt, you might find THIS interesting.  You might need to use the 'translate' feature to be able to read the directions.  

I promised I would let you know when Pam Kellogg's newest publication is available and I'm happy to say that you can get it now!  It's such a great resource - so much eye candy and filled with ideas galore.  It's the first of what is promised to be two volumes.  I can't wait to have my copy in my hot little hands so I can drool over it.  Click on the picture below to be taken to where you can order your very own copy! (oh, and while you're there, how about getting your copy of the latest 'Crazy Quilt Quarterly' magazine?).  You can also click on the cover picture in my sidebar to get your copy.

Today the quote is from Judith-Annette Milburn.... "Can you imagine experiencing the world as a great sandbox given for us to play in like we did as children?  As we play, we can also open ourselves to the exploration of our edges, always creating new adventures of self-exploration as we let go of old out-dated beliefs about ourselves"

Monday, February 01, 2016

Closing in

I'm closing in on the end of the embroidery on my latest hussif.  Over the weekend I managed to fit in some stitching time...

I added the little kitty sitting at her sewing machine (my daughter-in-love likes cats, so I had to fit one in somehow); plus the cup of tea and the pincushion.  The second photo shows the needle threader and three little spools of thread (used as a seam treatment).  
I promised to let you know when the latest issue of the 'Crazy Quilt Quarterly' magazine is available, and the time is now!  You can order your copy either by clicking on the cover picture below, or the one in my sidebar. 

It's another great issue, filled with all sorts of inspiration and how to's for the crazy quilter (or anyone interested in embroidery).  

Please don't forget that we're always looking for content for upcoming issues and we welcome your photos, articles and submissions.  Please don't be shy, and share your work!

Today the quote is from Milton Berle...."It's rough to go through life with your contents looking as if they settled during shipping!"