how did it get to be the end of November already??

Over the past month I have knit several pairs of fingerless mitts, all of which I gifted before taking pictures.  In the past 2 weeks I haven't knit a single stitch.  sigh.  Quilting?  nope.  Spinning?  nada.  I have baked up and storm for a few different parties and events, but that's all eaten and gone too without any pictures or recipes posted...
The only pictures I do have lately are of Nina - puppy girl is doing great in the show ring, so lots of fluffy poodle puppy pictures.  She's half way to her Championship and entered again in December.  No wonder I have no time to knit...    enjoy the puppy pic, she's looking very grown up, but just turned 8 months old.
Be well, be happy and hug those you love!


Thanks for the good luck wishes

They must`ve worked! 

Nina was expertly presented by pro handler Chrystal Murray - whom Nina loves.  She`s now Champion pointed and well on her way to her Championship!!  I`m crazy busy over the next 2 weeks and apologize for not being quick to respond to comments and emails - just wanted to let everyone know I appreciate hearing from you so much!  

Knitting posts to come - honest - lest you all thing this has turned into a poodle blog!!  Poodles and Wool do go so well together though...


Happy Hallowe'en

How did it get to be the last weekend of October already? Fall has been flying by. I won't be around the blog (or home for that matter) for the next 2 or 3 weeks much - off every weekend to dog shows with Ms. Bella Nina. Nina is fluffed, buffed and ready to roll with me before dawn tomorrow morning for her first ever dog show. She's 7 months old already, looking very grown up.  No - won't be sporting her pink elastic horns in the show ring, but I'm sure her halo will be showing.  Wish us luck.
Wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween.  Have fun and enjoy some candy!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I absolutely love this!  Sending it out to all the amazing women I know and have yet to meet for whom I am all thankful for.  Especially my mom and daughter.  This Thanksgiving I'm most thankful for family, friends and what each new day brings.

Wishing you all a great day!  Renee


S'more cupcakes

These are decadent.  Oh ~ so good!  Recipe can be found HERE

I brought 2 dozen of them to class to celebrate this

My comments on this recipe:  the cupcake itself is really wonderful and one I'll bake again.  The batter is watery and runny - but like the recipe says - it's ok and will bake up nicely.  They did.  Light and firm, tasty and tastes like homemade - very very good!

The icing recipe says it makes enough for 30 cupcakes - the recipe makes 24 cupcakes.  Truth is the icing makes enough for probably 60 or 70 cupcakes!  Even halfing it would be far too much.  I found the icing too sweet for my liking.  The first time I try a recipe I follow the directions as written.  Next time I'll drop the sugar added to 1/3 or 1/4 of recommended and 1/2 the marshmallows. The icing texture is wonderful - light and fluffy, just way too rich for me.
I grated some of the graham crackers over the icing and had no problem making the graham wafers and chocolate stand up in it.  These look even better than they photograph and are going into my recipe file, with the tweeking of the icing.  The cupcakes themselves would be great topped with whip cream and berries, how I plan to serve them next time.

If you like s'mores, you'll love these cupcakes!   They were a big hit at class.  I'm giving them a big thumbs up.  What's your favourite cupcake?  I'm looking for new recipes, I'd love it if you'd share your best with me.  :)

Be well, be happy and take care!  Renee



Piper completed her title yesterday with a big smile on her poodle face to match the thrilled one on mine.  As one of the judges told me when we left the ring after one of her qualifying scores, "Steak for supper for that poodle!"  Thank you Piper, you are an amazing partner!  

It's been a long journey with Piper to reach this level in her training and trialing.  An up and down hill journey with the excitement of new skills learned, friendships gained, exercises mastered and confidences (often) humbled.  Piper and I suffered through fear and guilt when she was attacked and hurt, a re-building of trust and confidence to keep her safe from other dogs in the sport, happiness and tears at moments when the light goes on -- when clarity and understanding sinks in.  She's had big wins, High in Trials and left me pleased and thrilled with our performance even on the days when we failed to qualify.  Piper never stops trying and works her heart out for me.  She 'makes me want to be the person my dog thinks I am'- as the saying goes.  As much as my life has been molded by my parents, mentors, friends, and teachers - it also has by the animals I've shared time with.

Training to this level creates bonds in many different relationships.  My dog of course, she knows me better than I know her.  My coach, mentor and friend Marie Sawford who brought us from Novice A to OTCh.  The supportive and amazing help from class and school mates at Companion Dog Training, those I've traveled to compete with and set up at trials beside to spend the weekend, other trainers we've met at shows and trials from Canada and the United States.  And especially my dearest and most wonderful friends in the dog world - those women and their dogs that are the "inner circle" of my friends.  Hugs to you and thank you for the support and your friendship.  Your being who you all are--  I can't measure the value or be thankful for enough.  There are far more of you than I can mention without forgetting anyone, but especially Pat, Andrea, Dawn T, and the SPW:  Dawn N, Cheryl, and Vivienne and all your amazing dogs.  I've learned so much from you all in so many different aspects of dogs, family and friendships.  I thank you.

Piper and I will continue our journey with no specific plans for her Excellent, Master and Grand Master title that follow her Obedience Championship - we'll take it one step at a time just as we have to this point and see how far the journey will take us in that direction.  As long as we're having fun we'll continue.  After reaching this point, the rest is just more icing on an already over the top cake.

Thank you mostly to my wonderful and 'Sweety Pie' girl Piper, you've taught me so much and made me a more understanding, patient and feeling person.  Who knew a poodle could do so much?  I do now.  And to my training buddies in the Tuesday night Utility class - there'll be cake to celebrate tomorrow!

Renee & OTCh Ravendune Piping Hot RE AGN CGN HIC(s) RNMCL aka 'Piper' or The Princess Pie


French Breakfast Muffins

Ryan especially loves these.  He's keen on the sugar and cinnamon topping, I prefer mine plain with my tea so there's always one in the dozen that's not dipped in the sugary stuff.  These store well and freeze well, but don't last long enough at our house for that to matter.

French Breakfast Muffins
Prep: 15 minutes  Bake: 20 - 25 minutes

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted

1. In a mixing bowl combine flour, the 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

2. In another bowl beat egg slightly; stir in milk and 1/3 cup melted butter.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened ~ the batter may be lumpy.  Lightly grease muffin cups. Fill cups about two-thirds full with batter. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are golden.

3. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl combine the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Immediately dip tops of hot muffins into the 1/4 cup melted butter, then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture until coated. Serve warm. 

Yield:  12 small muffins.  This recipe doubles well!!  I pretty much always make a double batch.

Make-Ahead Tip: Bake muffins as directed. Cool completely. Place muffins in freezer containers or bags and freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, wrap frozen muffins in heavy foil. Heat in a 300 degree F oven for 15 to 18 minutes.
This is one the Go-To staple recipes in my files.  It's easy and quick.  I enjoy one for breakfast cut in half and spread with a bit of jam.  You can also drop any of your favourite fruits into the batter to bake.  Give them a try!  Would love to hear what you think of French Breakfast Muffins. 

Be well, eat well and take care!


Because one just isn't enough & "Dark and Stormy"

This is another "not" Noro Striped Scarf a la Jared Flood's formula.
I had 2 tan balls of the Rowan Tapestry in stash and the blue/gray ones were on clearance for 40% off.  How could I not knit this again?... so this is a 1/2 stash busting project.

Now check out this knit pictured below!  There isn't anything I don't love about it:  the shawl collar is flattering on everyone, the colour - well, y'all know I'm nuts about gray.  The detail and shape of this garment is retro and yet cutting edge for today's knits.  I. Must. Knit. This!!  I can see myself trucking around town all stylish with a smile on wearing this cardigan.  And maybe my new boots.

These three 'Dark and Stormy' photos are courtesy Thea, copyright 2010 Splityarn (who takes awesome photos!!)
I can't stop thinking about this pattern.  Thea Coleman and Sarah Dimond have collaborated to release "Dark and Stormy".  If you're not on Rav click here for Thea's blog post.  I didn't get the yarn Sarah's selling to kit it (not that I didn't try!), and when I tried to sub Madeleinetosh worsted there wasn't anything in darks that I liked.  My weakness?  Lisa Souza in mahogany.

I'll be stalking my mail box for yarn to show up and casting on asap!  Thanks Thea and Sarah for what I think is the most appealing and wearable pattern for Fall 2010.  I'm biased I'm sure, I LOVE this pattern.  I'll be knitting like a fiend on my current WIPs because the second the Lisa Souza goodness arrives I'll be ditching everything else to swatch.

Hoping to have this striped scarf completed before the weekend is out and positively itching to cast on for Dark and Stormy!  The pattern is available separate from the kit from Thea is you (like me) weren't able to get it all from Sarah.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful fall weekend!

edited to add:  Ha, ha, very funny - you know who you are!!  I will not "only" have on this cardigan, a smile and my boots -- there'll be pants too...  sheesh!  lol  Renee


FO ~ Mara Shawl

Pattern:  Mara free as a download from Madelinetosh on Ravelry
Yarn:  3 skeins of Madelinetosh dk in "Silver Fox" from stash, originally purchased from The Backwards Loop
Needles: 5.5 mm circs
I'm way behind in posting, Mara was cast on and off beginning of January just before I broke my finger.
The yarn is delicious, the colourway is one of my favourites.
Love my grays either darkly saturated or light and fresh.

Very simple pattern and a pleasure to knit.

This shawl is going to see a lot of wear.  It's an accessory that can easily be dressed up or down.

Autumn is my favourite time of the year.  I love the colour, the produce and especially wearing sweaters and boots.  I'm a boot gal and newly shod too!  My well worn, comfy barn and hiking boots have seen better days.  These are my brand spanking new ones. 

Love. Me. Some. Great. Boots!   Definitely not office or going out wear, but for outdoors, I'm most comfortable in something solid and warm.  They're "Lowa" brand and extremely comfortable.  I can feel a sock knitting spree coming on...

My funky boots are "Bogs".  They come in various heights and styles.  The colours and patterns range from plain black to all sorts of flowers and designs, are rated to -65 degrees and truth be told - there's never been a more comfortable rubber lined boot.  They take rain/winter boots to a whole new level with neoprene uppers and handles for easy on and off.   
Been doing a lot of painting in the house fall makes me feel nesty and creative.  My favourite blog to fuel my reno mojo is Kevin and Layla Palmer's The Lettered Cottage.  Fall is also when I drink tea non-stop.  Visit Claudia at Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog for great info about tea.  Thanks Claudia, you've upped my tea learning and pleasure.  I never thought to use a French Press and can't wait to try it.

Be well, be happy and have a great day,


Nina has her own blog now and Piper had a nice win

Nina photographed by Kinnear and Chung at age 11 weeks
Nina's got her own space to hang out in now.  And Piper and I had a great time at the Poodle Club of Canada Specialty in Ontario winning the High in Trial from the Open B class.  Not bad for 2 old girls...

Some craftiness and baking coming up soon.  Promise!


she's finally here!

Let me introduce 'Bella Nina'
She's pretty as can be and her temperament is sublime.
Our new darling will be 10 weeks old tomorrow.  We couldn't be more delighted with her!


Happy Easter!

Onion skin dyed Easter eggs
and the first bloom in our garden for 2010

Both of which make us smile.   On Good Friday we enjoyed Tilapia and Bass for dinner.  Tonight we'll be hunkering down to watch The Ten Commandements on tv and on Sunday is church and Easter dinner is at the farm.  A lovely weekend with record breaking warm temperatures and spring fever.  Wishing everyone a very Happy Easter!


flowers for mom

I adore traditions.  Since becoming a mom myself there's 1 tradition I'm especially fond of.  On my birthday I give my mom flowers.  Chosing flowers for her each year is a pleasure.

This year is pure white and a hint of green flowers that are mom's favourite:  mini carnations.  She says carnations are dependable, long lasting and pretty.  Giving flowers to my mom not only tells her I love and appreciate her, but reminds me how much I love being a mother myself.

For the first time I also bought some for myself.  Buying myself flowers that I won't plant was such a hoot and novelty for me.  An indulgence I think I'll add to the annual tradition of getting flowers for mom.   Usually cut flowers are only enjoyed when they're seasonal to cut from our garden.  On a dreary, wet and raining day like today daisies are a really nice pick-me-up.

Do you have any non-typical traditionals you enjoy?  I'd love to hear what they are and maybe I can incorporate some new ones for myself.  Be happy, be well, stay dry!  Renee


where she gets back into the groove

I want a restart and I've decided it starts today.  I'm going to restart 2010.  Things have improved and I'm especially happy to report that dad is home and recovering well.  Thank you everyone for the continued support, kind words and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

What do you think of the new blog look?  Truth  be told, I forgot to save my template to the hard drive before I started playing with Bloggers great new template options so it'd take a bit (lot) to revert to the old format.  My last save is on a fried lap top that I can't get to any time soon.  I'm going to go with the change for now and see how it does or doesn't agree with everyone, or myself.  Let me know if you like it or not, and 'bear' with me while it gets some tweaking as I have a few minutes here and there.

Kids are busy with school, we're finally busy at work.  Dogs are always busy and the horses have spring fever.  While it's still doing a lot of that cold, dreary, snowy stuff around here the daffodils have broken ground in the front garden and are just peaking out.  I saw my first Robin today so spring is surely on it's way here.

There's been no knitting yet in 2010.  I mistook myself for Wonder Woman...  Linda Carter I definitely am not.  I accidentally (I'm the first to admit I'm not always the most co-ordinated diva and over estimate my physical prowess far too often...) tipped a heavy load on the wheel barrow hauling grain bags -- and in that instant where before you realize it's a really bad idea -- I tried to catch the side of the steel wheel barrow and found my hand between it and a steel gate.  It's doing and looking a whole lot better and needles should be sparking here again soon.  I did cast off a Mara Shawl pre-Christmas that I'll have to take some photos of.  I have 2 test knits that I'm terribly behind on.  Not only do I feel bad not having them done for the designers to see, but one was supposed to  be Nicole's Christmas present.  They're first on my list to complete. 

As soon as they're completed I intend to cast on Alexandria by Connie Chang Chinchino.  I have some gorgeous lavendar (it's definitely leaning more into the pink zone) Jaeger Roma that would be perfect for that.

On the tracking front, friends are preparing for tracking tests and I try to get out as often as possible to help lay tracks and enjoy tracking Chase.  Piper has started to track as well and she's really enjoying herself.  She's also had the light go on for her scent work in obedience so that's been a lot of fun for us too. 

I had a few people email to ask if we ever got our new standard poodle puppy?  "Nina" will be arriving here in May.  I'll be sure to post plenty of sweet puppy posts come summer. 

Hope everyone has been well and spring is being kind to you all.  I plan to have a great day 'cause it's my B-day!


an update

Thank you.  Everyone.  You're support, prayers and kind words mean so much to my family and me.
An update:  Tuesday, January 19th dad was able to be extubated from the ventilator and is now breathing on his own with oxygen assistence.  He's starting to be able to talk and responding well to physio and his doctors.  He'll remain in ICU for some time yet, but after several major setbacks including mini stroke and blood clots in his lungs while sedated on life support -- dad is on the path to recovery.  
I've had little time to knit or do much of anything, as you all understand life per normal goes on hold, but will post back to regularly to the blog as soon as I'm able.  I'm looking forward to visiting everyone on their blogs and on Rav as well.  Thank you so much everyone for the shoulders to lean on and emails.  Be well, be happy, be healthy  and tell those you love that you love them every day. 



2010 has been difficult.  My dad has been in ICU since Jan.1 and I'll be away from the blog for a while yet.  When things improve with dad's health I'll post an update.  Thank you everyone who has emailed to see if I'm ok because the blog has been quiet.  Your good wishes and prayers and very much appreciated.
Be well and hug those you love,


This was emailed to me and I think it's wonderful

Tequila and Salt
This should probably be taped to your bathroom mirror where one could read it every day.
You may not realize it, but it's 100% true.

1. There are at least two people in this world that you would die for.
2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.
5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
6. You mean the world to someone.
7. You are special and unique.
8. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.
9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
10. When you think the world has turned its back on you take another look.
11. Always remember the compliments you received.  Forget about the rude remarks.

And always remember.... when life hands you Lemons, ask for Tequila and Salt and call me over!

Good friends are like stars........
You don't always see them,
But you know they are always there.

"Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway".

I would rather have one rose and a kind word from a friend while I'm here than a whole truck load when I'm gone.

Happiness keeps You Sweet,
Trials keep You Strong,
Sorrows keep You Human,
Failures keeps You Humble,
Success keeps You Glowing,
But Only God keeps You Going

'Worry looks around, sorry looks back, Faith looks up.'
Have faith.


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