SEWING PROTECTIVE CLOTH MASKS FOR HOSPITAL WORKERS

Dear, dear friends,

My blogging friend Gayle of GUSTAVANDGAYLE  posted  a blog about sewing protective cloth face masks for hospital workers.  There has not been a call for these masks where I live but they are urgently needed in  many areas of the United States and other countries.

If you have a sewing machine these masks are easily and quickly made.  They require  elastic and two layers of 100% tightly woven cotton.  The inside layer should be soft.  Comfortable to the face.  The material is washed in hot water and the highest dryer heat setting to shrink the fabric.  The completed masks are sanitized before being used.

I followed the instructions from SEWGOODGOODS (link below).  The instructions are CDC compliant approved patterns (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  I ran up a dozen in about  30 minutes.  I deviated slightly from the instructions by  first sewing the elastic in place with a strong double machine stitch.  You don’t want the elastic to pull off the mask.  If the request comes out for these masks I’ll be ready.

https://www.sewgoodgoods.org/face-mask-covid-19

Please take care of yourself and all you love.

Virginia.

 

 

LIGHT UP OUR WORLD . . . NOW!

My dear friends, my so very dear friends.

These are desperate times and our world is looking so dark and frightening .  Now is the time to shine light on the darkness.   Now is the time to show we are not afraid.   Now, right now, is the time to say we are standing strong together.

Defy this darkness.   Do it by shining a light in to the dark.  Please,  now, right now put a light in your  window.   In every window.   Any light.  A single candle.  A lamp.   Every Christmas light you own.  Then text, phone, e-mail a friend and ask them to do the same.  Ask them to call a friend.

I care so very much for you all.

Love   Virginia.

 

 

 

MY LONG AND WONDERFUL LIFE WITH THE WIZARD OF OZ

 

There  was never a moment in my life I wasn’t aware of  the story of Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz.     In that quiet time  when the evening becomes a silvery twilight, and I was very very young,  my Mother would read to me.   It was the children’s hour.  And this book.  This fairy tale of witches and wizard.  This story of a brave girl and her trio of unlikely saviours became an integral part of both my childhood  and my adult years.

My own copy of the book,  The Wizard of Oz,  was long lost.   For many  years I  searched for it.    I few weeks ago I discovered a copy of the book  waiting patiently for me on a Thrift Shop shelf.  Not just any book but but one published in l931. The book cover was a little worn.  The edges of the  pages  a little foxed.  But the coloured illustrations are as bright and vivid as I remembered them.

The movie The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939.  Up until that time our Saturday afternoons movies (generally Westerns)   were in  black and white.   To sit and watch the Oz movie turn from black and white to magical, brilliant colour was an experience I will never forget.   I really was in the land of Oz.  And all those years later Oz is still very much a part of me.

Nine years old and I would settle for nothing but red shoes.    I was obsessed with the ruby slippers Dorothy wore  in the movie.   In the 1940’s children’s shoes were special occasion black patent Mary- Jane’s  or  brown leather lace ups for school.  There was very little choice in  small town in Northern Saskatchewan.  I found red leather shoes in our only department store – Eaton’s.   Unfortunately a size to large.  I was  desperate for them.  My obliging Father had a shoemaker sew  a strap on  so I wouldn’t walk out of my  beautiful red shoes.

I still love red shoes ;  loafers,  sandals, pumps,high heels, court heels,  shoes with red beads, with gold buckles,  with velvet bows.   All a version of those famous ruby slippers

Then there was the Siamese cat.   In the last scene of the Wizard movie Dorothy holds a Siamese cat.  I wanted a cat with blue eyes .   That exotic breed did not exist in our northern town.   Twenty years later my first Siamese purred his way into my heart.  In the years that followed there was always one or two of these elegant creatures ruling my home.

Dorothy’s  journey to  the Great Oz takes her through a dangerous but glorious  field of fiery red poppies.   The image remained with me through the years until finally I was able to  grew my own field of poppies in our home in the country.

Finding one’s heart desire is not the easiest of tasks.   Finding a Wizard who can grant it is even harder.  L. Frank Baum wrote fairy tales that were also very much parables.  In these modern times it appears we need them more than ever.

“Home – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all.  And  – oh Auntie Emm,  There’s no place like home.”

Indeed.  There is no place like home.

 

 

 

 

 

SINFULLY SENSATIONAL DELICIOUSLY DECADENT WARM CHOCOLATE CAKE

This is the epitome of decadent desserts.  Deeply dark, warm chocolate cake served right out of the oven.  Warm chocolate cake is a dessert with an edgy  reputation for being a difficult production.  Many  recipes have you making the cake,  baking the cake, then serving the cake.   It is all too last minute.    Stressful for the hostess in the kitchen preparing the cake while dinner guests wait for dessert.

This is a straight forward recipe.  It requires a few ingredients.  The very best chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar and flour.  The secret to this gorgeous dessert is to MAKE IT AHEAD OF TIME.    One refrigerates the cakes for 24 hours before you bake them.

You bake the chocolate cakes for twelve to thirteen minutes.  The centres of the cake will feel soft and not quite fully set when you touch the centres.  The edges will be firmer.  This is the magic moment to pull your spectacular desserts out of the oven

You can serve these little darlings with a tiny sprinkle of fleur de sel (or flaky sea salt).     A generous scoop of cherry custard ice cream and you have a deconstructed Black Forest Cake.    When I want the dessert to be very very French I pour liberal lashings of my salted caramel sauce over the cake.

The recipe for WARM CHOCOLATE CAKE awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

( Cake baking photographs courtesy W. Lloyd )

 

 

OSWALD’S WINTER SOLSTICE PARTY CANCELLED . . . FRIDAYS FOR THE FUTURE!

YOU HAVE STOLEN MY DREAMS

Every December 21st Oswald, gentleman rabbit  marked the Winter Solstice with a wondrous party.    Once a year rabbits, big and small joined Oswald for the celebration  Rabbits are custodians and caretakers of all things growing.  This year the Friday  Solstice celebration was cancelled.  Instead  millions of  rabbits world wide  joined protests demanding emergency action on climate change.

Oswald watched and listened to the words of a child addressing world leaders.

“You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is – you are failing us. ” she said. ” How dare you – you have stolen my dreams and my childhood.”

“It has come this.” he thought.  “A child has the maturity and understanding they lack.  No country can claim to be doing their part.   No country can claim to be” the greatest” if they refuse to recognize the danger facing our world.  There will be no future for anyone.”

Outside his burrow, Oswald, gentleman rabbit,  quietly waited.  Then from the branch of the tallest tree a single bird sang.  The tiny bird sang of peace, compassion and understanding.  One by one from surrounding trees birds joined in song.  Louder and louder a song swooping, soaring climbing higher and higher until the very earth vibrated with its magnificence.

“Is anyone listening?” whispered Oswald.  “Does anyone care?”

 

 

MOCHA THE DOG WITH THE MAGIC EARS

 MOCHA AND HER MAGIC EARS

About ten years ago the most wonderful of dogs came into our life.    I wrote a story about Mocha for one of our grand children.  It is a magic story and it is a true story.  Mocha was loved deeply by all who had the  honour to know her.    A few days ago she passed quietly away surrounded by those she loved .  The farm is an empty place with out her.

Max is our four year old great grand-son.  He asked me “Do you have any rabbits on the farm?”  And so I told him the tale of Oswald Gentleman Rabbit and his magic red velvet coat.

“One more question”, said Max. Max always has one more wonderful question. ” Do you have any OTHER magic animals on the farm?”

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Max, my darling boy.  Let me tell you a story about our farm dog.  Her name is Mocha.  She is an enormous dog.  So big and so strong you could easily ride her – that is if you had a mind to Max.   She has the courage of a lion, a heart filled with love,  a soul overflowing with happiness, big brown eyes that sparkle with  mischief and most important Mocha has magic ears.  She hears everything.

 

 

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Mocha can hear the chatter of bugs.  She  rests her head on her paws and watches carefully as they natter and nibble their way through the grass.

 

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Mocha can hear the whisper of butterfly wings .  She bounds joyfully into the air following them through the garden while they entertain her with stories of their long journey  – flying thousands of miles to spend summer on the farm

 

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The big barn on the farm is filled with dairy cows and calves.  The cows are mooing  and Mocha listens carefully.   The cows are telling her about a coyote that has been skulking at the edge of the field.  Mocha paces back and forth – looking and listening until she spots the coyote.  Then she barks.  Loud,  loud scary barking that rolls across the field.   Angry barking that says to the coyote stay away or you will be in big trouble.

 

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Mocha’s magic ears hear everything.   She listens to Max learning to skate with his Grandfather.  She listens to brave Max deep underground caving with his Dad.   She hears Max splashing in the ocean.  Mocha listens and watches and bravely stands guard.

 

(Mocha really exists.  She is half Great Pyrenees and half Labrador.  When she is not guarding the farm she accompanies me to the garden and stands watch while I work.  There is big mound of dirt close to the garden. Mocha climbs to the top and barks letting is be known she is standing guard.

Mocha invents games to entertain herself.  Her favourite toy is a large orange pylon.  The big kind you see around construction sites.   She is so strong she easily carries it around.  Tossing  it in the air.  Catching it.  And then just because she can she puts her head inside  the pylon and plays a kind of blind man’s bluff.  She has a strange collection of toys – a few sticks to play fetch, a deflated soccer ball, a garden light.  She will gather all her toys in a pile then curl up next to them and sleep in the sun.

Mocha knows the sounds of the different vehicles that regularly travel our country road.  These she ignores.   She ignores the mailman, the person who comes to read the power and gas meter.  She pays no attention to the runners and cyclists that exercise daily on our road.    But let her hear a strange footstep or a car that she feels doesn’t belong and her barking is loud and important.   Brave and noble Mocha is doing her job.   Looking after the farm and her people.

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS GIFT WRAPPING . . . in the style of Coco Chanel

Logs in the ancient fireplace crackled .  Heavy faded velvet curtains shut out the cold and dark night.  On the old Victrola  Piaf warbled   Le Noël de la rue.  It was the top of the hour.  She opened the curtains.   The lights of the Eiffel tower filled the room.  Here in the magic of her little house in Paris she would wrap her gifts .

Plain brown paper unrolled.  Silver scissors cut.  A scattering of pearls.  An elegance of black ribbon.  A Coco Chanel wrapped Christmas gift.

Champagne chilled.   Cassoulet simmered on the ancient  La Cornue stove.   The room fragrant  with its rich welcoming aroma.  Footsteps whispered on the ancient stone stairs.  Her guests had arrived.  It was Christmas in une petite maison.   My little house in Paris is with me always.  To journey to it I have but to close my eyes and turn the key on the welcoming door.

(Dear Friends, This post of pearls and presents is a favourite.    I love the economy of wrapping with recyclable, inexpensive plain brown paper. Coloured tissue paper and metallic paper is not recyclable.  The pearls are easy stick-ons and the black ribbon is wireless.  Everything purchased in a quick trip to my favorite dollar store.  )