Sunday, December 27, 2009

Photo Problems

I'm having photo issues, and who wants to read a blog with no photos? They're there when I open iPhoto, but not when I try to choose one for the blog; there's just a black square where the photo 'Event' should be.

Nor do I know how to diagnose the problem. I trust that when I get a little time, I can figure it out myself, cause you know how these things can be -- blogspot may offer no help, and Apple may say it's a blogspot problem and they can't help. You get caught in the middle.

So wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas and Computers

Yesterday DGS came and made Christmas gifts for his parents and sister. He's putting in a zipper here --

I took a photo of a sheet of cookies (Swedish Buttons) ready to go into the oven, and I downloaded (uploaded?) it to iPhoto, but it has vanished. Sometimes computers make me want to return to this:

Can't do much with photos using a pencil, but the English have found a creative use for pencils: I took this picture while on the bus to Heathrow to fly home. Much more attractive than the ugly fencing we put around construction sites here!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Quick Trip Back to England

One of the things I think might interest you in this Season of Light (tomorrow is the winter solstice) is the quality of light in English cathedrals. You would expect the interiors to be dark, given the massive stone walls and flying buttresses. But the genius of the English Perpendicular style of architecture is that it allowed the cathedrals to be so high, without sacrificing strength and stability, that levels of clerestory windows flood the interiors with light. These photos were all taken with natural light, no flash.

This is Winchester Cathedral looking up into the transept tower from beside the quire:

Norwich Cathedral looking from inside the quire west toward the nave:

Norwich Cathedral looking east from inside the quire:

Canterbury Cathedral from just outside the quire looking west into the nave:

Canterbury Cathedral looking from the transept crossing up toward the east:

Interestingly, we were told that the interiors of the medieval cathedrals were painted with murals illustrating stories from scripture and mythology. Here and there in the most protected spots we saw remaining vestiges of some of these paintings. Imagine what these places looked like when the entire interior was painted! It must have been like being inside a stained glass window.

Which brings up the subject of the stained glass windows: Many of the original stained glass windows which dated from the 11th, 12th and 13th Centuries, were destroyed in the bombings of World War II. Almost all the existing stained glass windows are post WWII.

The most prominent side chapel in St. Paul's Cathedral in London has 50 stained glass windows, each is the seal of one of the states in the United States. I easily picked out Wisconsin's, with the badger and miner. The windows are in honor and thanksgiving to the United States for helping Britain in that war. There's also a large, heavy book in a glass case which lists the name of every U.S. serviceman who died in the war; each day a page is turned by a verger wearing white gloves. Nearby is a copy of the book, kept under a velvet cover, which visitors may look at. We were told that every day people from the states come to look for the name of a relative in the book.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What on earth?

Except for this one, all the newer photos are still on my camera, which is upstairs and I'm too tired to go get it. So here's a 'contest' for you: I'll send a pack of fat quarters to the first person who correctly guesses what this is a photo of. Be sure to include your e-mail address so I can contact you for your snail mail address. Send to me at

I've been baking cookies 'around' several repairman visits to fix the oven. It's been an eye-opener: No wonder our landfills are overflowing! The stove is only 15 years old, but the manufacturer no longer makes replacement thermostats. DH called every dealer within a hundred miles and finally found one that had it in 'old inventory.' Instead of $1500 for a new stove, we spent $240 and it's good as new.

Today I potted some amaryllis bulbs for post-Christmas bloom; once the tree and decorations are down, the house feels kind of bare, and that's when we need a reminder that things do still flower. Even though it's been ten days since our storm, the snow is still sticking to the north sides of the trees. It's really beautiful -- it outlines their interesting shapes.

Now I need to get a few more rounds of knitting done on an under-the-wire Christmas gift.

such good friends
cuddly kitties
nice dinner out with DH

Saturday, December 12, 2009

English Gingerbread Recipe

Delicious. There are certain things I make only at Christmas, so they are always special, never 'everyday.' This is one of those.

English Gingerbread (more like shortbread than cake)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (don't substitute!)

2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon molasses

1/4 cup sultanas (golden raisins)

2 tablespoons finely diced crystallized ginger

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan.

Sift flour with the baking powder and ginger. Put into a bowl and add the pieces of butter, blending until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

Stir the brown sugar, sultanas, molasses and ginger into the above mixture - it will be very short and crumbly - not like dough or batter. Press into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until a knife blade inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool on a rack 10 minutes, then cut into narrow wedges. Transfer wedges to the rack to finish cooling.

Friday, December 11, 2009


You know how it is when you haven't written to a friend for a long time, and now you can't because there's so much to say and you don't have time? That's where I am with this blog . . . I keep putting off writing because if I go back to where I left off, it's overwhelming! So I'm just going to start with this week.

The snow on Tuesday night was simply beautiful. Here are our woods yesterday:

Good thing Mr. and Mrs. Wren go south for the winter!

I got this back from the long-arm quilter, and now have the binding machine-sewn on, but won't get to the hand-sewing until after Christmas:

I'm happy with it . . . it's the quiet quilt I wanted it to be. Quilted with feathers and feathered wreaths, it seems very feminine to me without being fussy.

During these snow days I've been working on a table runner for Christmas. I'm not liking it. Remember that column in, it was Redbook Magazine, I think, called "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" I keep looking at the table runner and thinking, "Can This Tablerunner Be Saved?" I wanted it to be festive and elegant, but it's just dreary. My friend Renee advises against working on a quilting project you don't like . . . maybe she's right. But I keep hoping something will jazz it up -- I'm making a border, we'll see what that does.

Tomorrow DGS comes for the day to make gifts for his parents and sister. If we have time, we'll make some Christmas cookies, and English gingerbread (quite different from the gingerbread here) for Sunday's Advent Festival of Lessons & Carols.

Now it's time to get my jammies on and have Evening Prayer.

winter's quiet beauty
a warm house
good homemade soup for supper