Saturday 26 March 2011

The party goes on

Would you like to have some tea or coffee? The fun part of getting old goes on, as some presents arrived this week. First I'll show you Stephanie's loveliness, as it was on the way across the Atlantic for more than a month.

A beautiful Dresden plate (she is really good at them!) in vintage fabrics, and yarn for some soft and lovely socks. The colour is called Thyme. I think I'll try to grow some thyme in my vegetable garden this summer. I'm addicted to knitting at the moment. Here is a closer look at the Dresden plate and its feedsack fabrics and other beauties:

Thank you, Stephanie!
The other parcel came from Candace, with a link to Stephanie. The bag is Stephanie's Loft Tote pattern; Candace is one of her Supreme pattern testers. It is a nice, roomy bag for all my things I carry when I go to town. Candace also sent some chocolate (to be shared with Mr. K.) and four fat quarters of Moda fabrics, and a tiny bird for a zipper or just so.

Closer look at the fabrics:

Thank you, Candace! Everyone knows I'm trying to get rid of my fabrics, and now I have several new, lovely fabrics to play with. The best part of this is, that I didn't BUY them, so they will only be counted when I use them some day!

The tulips from last week are gone now, but my special sewing group  friends brought me a beautiful white orchid which will bloom for months. It will also keep reminding me of the special wall hanging project I should be working on for PN.

The weather is changing ten times a day, typical for the coming of spring. One minute we have beautiful sunshine, and the next time I looked out of the window, this is what I saw:

A gale with snow and hail for two hours, and after that sun again. The temperature keeps below zero so there is not much melting going on. The bullfinches don't come for group lunch any more, they come in pairs. A finch, could be the same we saw in early February, came today again. Normally finches migrate and we get to see the first of their species in early April, when they have the colourful feather dress and are ready to sing. The Mr. Pheasant arrived also this weekend, widening his territory. Mr. K. bought a third 25 kg sack of sunflower seeds for this feeding season; we can't stop feeding our little friends before the weather has warmed up and there is food available for them in the nature.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Porvoo, part 2

This will be a long post, so you may want to take a cup of coffee (it is still my birthday party!). Yesterday you saw the Cathedral of Porvoo in snow. The first church here was built in the late 13th and early 14th century, and the present church in the 1450s. Let's go in now through this door.

Behind the altar ther is a window and a crusifix. The altar painting is on the far right (not in sight), a version of the Last Supper.

The church's roof was badly burned in a fire in 2006, and it took two years to rebuild it. I think the dark colour in this vault is fire damage. The chandeliers fell on the floor but the ceiling was not damaged.  The church has suffered several fires during the centuries, but it has always been rebuilt. During reformation it was usual to cover all the paintings in churches with white paint. The original paintings could be restored only partially.

The four apostles are painted on four pillars in the church. St. Matthew

St. Marc

St. Luke

and St. John

Miniature ship  hanging from the ceiling. Some ships were donated to the church as votive ships by grateful seafarers after a dangerous voyage, or before one. This tradition has spread to Finnish coast areas from Sweden.

I thought you wanted to have a better look at the unicorn.

The organ opposite to the altar.

Two galleries on both sides of the church. Usually there is just one, but this is a cathedral. The wood is painted to look like marble. 

This was the end of the tour. - In the evening we had the most delicious meal in the restaurant Wanha Laamanni. They have a special organic and local menu for this month. I had the soup and Mr. K. chose the Islander's plate with various cold fish. We both took Fried whitefish with Beurre blanc for the main course, and Colostrum panna cotta with lingonberry sauce for dessert. Yum! The restaurant was very close to our hotel, and we enjoyed the walk in the snow after the meal.

Back home I had the lovely gifts from friends waiting. Big sister P must have read my earlier post about bright flowers, because she brought me a bucketfull of tulips, one for every year. I needed three vases for them!

Then I admired the presents again. ( I must admit I opened them before I left for the weekend.) These are all from my European blogging friends, it takes surprisingly long for mail to cross the Atlantic. In alphabetical order, first the presents from Anne Marie from Norway:

Two beautiful cup mats, four lovely fabrics folded like a star, and some Easter marzipan chocolates. Thank you, Anne Marie!

Next comes Melanie, she has been busy sending me presents - I showed the wonderful book already. We share a love for mushrooms, and she knows I have a messy sewing room, so she made me a unlose-able pincushion in the same style as her houseelf's house.


In my Christmas parcel came a birthday-wrapped present I have kept in the closet waiting, and finally got to open it. The prettiest ever Miss Bunny was there, cramps in her legs and her pretty dress all wrinkled, but after some ironing (for the dress and apron) and some stretching (for the legs and ears) she was happy to find Christobel's old place on the fireplace corner.

This is Christobel, the Christmas elf from Melanie:

She is spending the off-duty time in my sewing room, and I bet she'll tell Melanie that I don't deserve any gifts for next Christmas because I'm so messy.

The last lot is from dear Suzie. She sent me a fabric with old sewing machines, very inspirational for the cutting mat bag I have ben planning to make for several years already. It will be perfect for the front side. Under that fabric is some "pocket Coffee", chocolates with liquid espresso filling. The first night Mr. K. and I had three of them each, and stayed awake half the night! Now they are restricted to one/night or two in the afternoon.

Here is a closer look at the sewing bag Suzie made. You can see part of the heart stitching on the right.

Inside she used other lovely sewing themed fabrics, and I found some hand sewing needles and machine needles and some quilting thread in the pockets. Thank you, Suzie!

I think I need to show you one more present, this is from Mr. K and DD Kaija. Some of you know that Kaija has started a new blog showing old black and white photos taken by my Great Auntie Saima's husband, Emil. She has scanned the photos from an album my mother gave her, and now she has hand picked lots of them for me and had them made to a book.

The front cover shows Saima at very young age in a white summer dress. In the next pictures she is a grown woman, with a lovely hat. Kaija did a wonderful job with the layout of these not-standard size photos, and now I finally have some photos of my dear Great Auntie Saima.

This was the end of the birthday party. I hope your liked the whitefish as much as we did. Don't eat too many chocolates!

Monday 21 March 2011

Porvoo, part 1

Welcome to take a tour with me in the second oldest town in Finland, Porvoo. I had a mini holiday with darling Mr. K. there to celebrate my birthday. Like most places in Finland, Porvoo is at its nicest in the Summer. In winter some of the alleys in the old town looked like this:

It is not possible to keep the snow away from the smallest alleys  so they are closed for the winter. The little streets are not much wider:

There were interesting yards with the gates open:

I wanted to se the toy museum, but it was unfortunately closed. I have seen it about 20 years ago, when the children were little:

Details from the same yard.

The houses are built of wood, as usual in Finland. The town has burned down many times, but the houses have been built again on the same foundations. The buildings standing there now are built after the last big fire in 1760.
The icy streets were so slippery that I didn't want to walk across the bridge to get a nice picture of the storehouses by the river.

We stayed at the Hotel Onni (=Happiness). There are only 5 rooms and a suite. The service was friendly and we loved the room. Welcome in:

We had a bowl of fruit and chocolate crisps waiting.

We had chosen the Peasant room. Each room was decorated in a different style.

We had fluffy bathrobes and slippers too, Melanie!

The bed was better than average. This kind of beds used to be pushed together for the day to make a sofa. I think they used straw mattresses at the time, so they could be folded away.

The breakfast was chosen from a list for each of us at arrival, and served at the time we chose.

The hotel is just across the street from the Cathedral, so it is a popular accommodation for newlyweds.
 I will take you to the church in my next post. As you see, it had started to snow on Saturday when I looked out of our window.

There is a little cafe in our hotel.

They sell decorations and little gifts there too. The Easter is coming!

In the morning the crocuses placed under the decorated tree were all covered in snow. I hope they will survive the cold temperatures. In the gardens the crocuses will not show their heads before May.

You must be exhausted and cold by now, so let's go back in and have a cup of something hot. Pick your cake here, please, and enjoy!

Thursday 17 March 2011

Surrounded by snow

You might think that spring is almost there, but it certainly is not here. We had some new snow last Friday

and the weather has been so cold that the white new top layer still is there making the snowbanks look fresh and clean.

Last weekend we cleaned the birdhouses for new nest builders, and the tits have already started looking at the houses again, and singing their little songs.

I have been working on some secret projects I can't show before next week, and enjoying my new book I was allowed to open as soon as it arrived. The sweet Melanie had come across this book when she was looking for something else, and she knew I would love it. And I do. I think this is the finest, loveliest, most interesting book I have had in ages, maybe ever. And the most inspiring one too. I think it is wonderful that someone knows you so well that she can choose you a gift better than you would  yourself. Thank you, Melanie!

I'm half way through machine quilting the 9-patch quilt, but for some reason I have no pictures of the backing I had such trouble with. I will show it when the quilting is done. I made the binding for this in class tonight.

On Mondays and Wednesdays I go to Järvenpää for errands and grocery shopping, and I usually have a moment of my own time in the cafe at the shopping centre. I like the view to the florist's shop, always changing with the seasons and special days.

At this time of the year we need colourful flowers in the house, because the gardens are still covered in snow for weeks, and after the snow is gone it takes some time before the greenness wins the battle against night frost and the autumn's dead leaves and grass.

I'm going on a little holiday during the weekend, just a short trip to an old little town Porvoo. I try to make some nice pictures there, but the weather forecast tells there will be snow again on Saturday. Maybe I just need to concentrate on staying on my feet on the icy pavements. Maybe I'll need a walking frame now.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Stash use report for Fabruary 2011

The short month of February slipped through my fingers without much progress on the Nine-patch quilt. I just happened to buy quite a lot of fabrics. I have shown you earlier the sweet cake fabrics, and after that I have bought 3 m of flanell for baby quilt backings, two 1.2 m bits of linen on sale, and this pile:

These are 0.5 m bits of curtain fabrics for the new bag I'm making with Melanie, Suzie and Simone. The pattern in Lisa Lam's book uses bright Amy Butler fabrics, but I just couldn't see myself carrying such an exclamation mark. My boldest choice was to take a checkered fabric instead of a plain solid as the third fabric to go with the dots.

My fabric stash grew by  8.9 m  in all during February.

I only finished some small (pillowcase, boob and needlebook size) projects and 12 QAYG blocks for Oz Comfort Quilts. I sent them today to Kaite along with the three I made this morning before I ran out of batting. The three new blocks will be a good start for my March sewings. The pillowcases were also mailed today, to Jackie.

I used 1.2 m of flannel for a gift to a sewing friend, but even with that addition my fabric use was only 5.1 m in February, so the stash has grown by 3.8 m. I hope to finish the ninepatch quilt this month and some other, more secret projects, to get the stash in balance again.

The weather has changed a little, as the temperatures have gone up to almost 0 C. It still looks like this outside:

Snow is everywhere, and it is deep. The birds have started to practice their songs, and the day is more than 4 hours longer than at Christmas. The roads were dry today, and the dirty snow by the roadside is melting. This helps us believe the spring is coming after all.