Sunday, April 29, 2012

A week of braiding, reading, and planting

Oh, it has been such a busy, but fun week.  A satisfying one in which I learned a new craft/skill.  A week in which I took the time to think about a book I finished last week, found myself engrossed in another, and watched as little seedlings grew just a bit more as more seeds sprouted.  Yes, weeks like that are extremely satisfying.

I am not saying that the week was without problems.  An extremely windy day managed to pry my window screens from my bedroom window and by the time this was noticed, the screens were long gone.  So, at this time, I am unable to open the window lest something fly into my flat.  New screens are on order and the company that is to install them and who installed the first set of screens, has been asked to make sure that the screens are now screwed into the window frame preventing the wind from absconding or a wee feline from pushing the screen out and find herself on the ground below the window.

As you know, last week I told you about Twixt, the book written by Diane J Reed.  I find myself still thinking back to the book and the story.  Diane, if you are reading this, I think you could write another book carrying on with these characters as there is more to the story of Chance Murphy.  I am not prepared to let him go just yet and feel as if I have lost a friend with the book ending, the story completed.  I am certain that Chance has more life lessons to teach us in his gentle way and so I ask you to at least think about another installment about the man/bird.  Enough said.  I will only add that if you enjoy a story with a bit of the mystical in it, then you really do need to read Twixt.  I would be interested if you found yourself as involved as I did and reluctant to say good-bye to the characters.

The next book on my reader is Persuasion by Arlene Dickinson, a very successful entrepreneur who runs a major company in Canada with branches in Calgary and Toronto.  The book covers a bit of her early life, where she was, what happened to bring her and make her who she is today and lessons in how to go through life successfully either in business or I have found that the lessons in the book can be applied to your daily life.  The book is a good read, chatting to you as if you both were sitting in a cafe chatting comfortably and you find that the discussion is one that you want to remember word for word in order to make notes about it at a later time.  Good common sense advice given in a way that you do not feel that someone is preaching to you and making you feel incompetent.  I am enjoying the book immensely and cannot wait to get back to it each day.  I suspect that I may have a couple of late nights in order to find more time to read since the daytime hours are full with me spending time in the studio, trying to stay on top of the tidy up required to keep one's home in prime condition and all other tasks that crop up in my daily life. 

My little garden is progressing nicely with more seeds sprouting and waiting their turn to be potted up into larger pots that will hopefully be their final home.  More seeds are ready to be planted in order to bring about more crops of basil and dill for later in the season.  I suspect their will be a few more seeds planted to bring about some flowering plants, just to add a bit of colour to the balcony.  Keeping an eye on all the plants and seedlings to make sure that they are watered enough keeps me busy along with the potting up of the larger seedlings.  I have hauled home enough soil that I am certain the shoppe clerk must wonder what I am doing with it and what kind of garden is growing on a balcony.  Some day when everything is growing and showing a lot of greenery, I will take some snaps to bring along with me when I am out shopping and show the clerk just what I have been trying to accomplish.

The big project for the week was to learn about kumihimo, the art of Japanese braiding.  I purchased the loom from an online supplier of beading supplies and it arrived very quickly.  I watched a tutorial on a web site and away I went to load up the loom and see what I could accomplish.  The art of braiding is actually very calming and you can easily find yourself in a zen like mood whilst calmly moving one thread to another position and on and on.  I was foolish enough to use embroidery floss for my first project and it did take considerable time to produce the strand of braiding that will likely become a bracelet or a bookmark.

Moving on to the next piece to be made, I used a material known as rat tail, a tightly wound piece of fabric that is much thicker than embroidery floss.  This actually worked up into a lovely piece suitable for a bracelet once the proper end caps and clasps have been added.  Surprisingly, I had woven the piece in less than

Just because I was curious as to how the finished project would turn out, I tried the braiding using thin ribbons that I had on hand.  These translated into a lovely braid that worked up quickly without too much angst.  In fact, I was able to do the weaving and watch a bit of telly at the same time. Now, I am not saying that you do not need to be mindful of what you are doing.  That is not the case.  But, when you are moving along nicely, feeling confident that you can follow the pattern without actively thinking about each placement, you will find yourself relaxed, in a happy place and able to listen to music or be somewhat aware of whatever babble is currently being shown on daytime/night time telly.  I find the braiding much more interesting than the television and find myself thinking that certain colours of ribbon would be quite attractive if paired with some beads I picked up on a whim not so long ago.  There are directions for weaving and working beads into your project in online tutorials and I hope to tackle this variation sometime in the near future.  At this point, I find myself content to work with just the threads and want to try a few variations on the placement of the threads.

I see that there are several good books available on the art of kumihimo.  I hope to purchase one or two of these to get more ideas as to how to proceed with the craft and what all I might be able to make.  From what I have seen online, there are a lot of bracelets and necklaces that can be made, with some of them being very trendy while others would be suitable as gifts for the more traditional persons that are in our lives.  Kumihimo is definitely something that I will be working on for quite some time.  I have included some snaps of the pieces that are currently done in terms of braiding.  They need only have the end posts added along with clasps or split rings on which keys can be placed.  A few may become bookmarks and I would likely finish those off with some beads to swing on the end of the braid.  Might just as well make pretty bookmarks instead of using a stray piece of paper.  The nice thing about the weaving is that you can easily tuck it in your purse and pull it out when you find yourself waiting at the doctor's office or when you are sitting having a quiet cup of coffee in a food court.  I love being able to work on pieces to keep my hands busy whilst out and about on my day.  Idle hands and all that, you know.  I am just not someone who can sit idle for any length of time or I begin to get stressed and feel that I should be doing something.

So, that is the week that was.  This week will find me continuing to read Persuasion and working on my kumihimo braiding.  My little garden will continue to grow or so I hope and I plan to plant up more seeds on Monday.  I am eagerly watching my plants in anticipation of the herbs and flowers that will hopefully appear in due time.  That is part of the joy of gardening, the anticipation of what is to come along with the realization that a certain amount of work that will be required to make it all happen.  Everything that brings joy or satisfaction requires a certain amount of effort.  That is the way life is supposed to roll out or at least that is my belief.  No gain is made unless a certain amount of effort is expended. 

Just a mention of a web site that has just celebrated its first anniversary.  Julie Anne Rhodes, the chef behind has an approach to cooking that we can all benefit from trying out.  The Personal Chef Approach provides you with recipes for a week's worth of meals that can be cooked in a few hours.  You set aside a few hours to do the cooking of all the entrees and freeze them for later use.  In my case, I can decide what recipes I am going to cook and whilst it takes me a little longer to get the cooking done in my small kitchen, the end result is that I have enough meals put away in my freezer to last for two to three weeks.  I do not have to worry about what I am going to eat for my evening meal each day, the meal is portion controlled and I save money in that I am not tossing out unused food that is beyond being safe to consume.  Julie Anne puts up a new menu each Wednesday along with the directions for cooking and the shopping list.  All you have to do is go through the shopping list, mark off items you already have in the pantry and shop for what you need.  Then, pick the time when you can have a few hours to cook, using the oven, your slow cooker and the stove top.  Get other items ready to go into the oven and you are in the home stretch, meaning that you will soon be portioning out the meals, cooling them and then freezing them until you are ready to use them.

I really recommend checking out Julie Anne's site and joining the group.  Membership gives you access to the recipe library as well as the forum where we all chime in with our opinions or ask for help with something cooking related.  Molly, Julie Anne's assistant, joins in and answers questions, especially those related to baking.  Julie Anne's specialty is getting you cooking some amazing meals without the stress of not knowing what to cook, what to buy, how to safely handle the foods and freeze them.  The site has web tutorials to help you learn new procedures.  It is as easy as signing up for a membership which is more than worth the amount you will spend each month or if you are wise, purchase the yearly membership and save a few dollars.  Give it a try for a few months and see how much you come to depend on the site for meal time assistance.  You will never look back to how your dinner time prep used to be.  You will have more time for activities that you want to pursue or time for you to spend on yourself, your family.  Truly a win/win situation!

Have a wonderful week!  I hope you have plans to work on some personal pursuits whether they be of an artistic or other nature.  Take some time to enjoy each day, you never know what pleasures await you at the next bend of the journey.  Let me know what you are doing and how your garden is growing, how your art project is progressing.

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

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