New Roads . . . and Campsites

Well, my friends, a lot of water has flowed under that proverbial bridge since I last posted here. I did have plans, but apparently I am to take a slightly different path for a while. So . . . to document my new travels, I have set up a new camp:

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click on the picture of my campsite to join me in the new spot.
And I will continue to post here as well, in case you were wondering.

 

After all this time, there is so much to write about, but I shall try to separate events, interests, thoughts, etc. into manageable portions. We shall see . . .

For now, I shall only say that I am finally back ‘home’ in BC, but not destined to stay here for long. And after that, who knows?

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Tonight I am writing on a laptop situated on an antique secretary desk, with a modern wood pellet stove just behind me, keeping the room nice and toasty.

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My cousin’s wife and I just made three dozen pumpkin muffins They were meant to be cookies, but the pumpkin was juicy and the dough too soft, so we added a couple of cups of flour, which meant a much larger volume of dough. Then came the bright idea to bake them in muffin tins and that worked out wonderfully!

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I shall write more soon, my friends. This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada and I have so much for which to be thankful, I am planning a post just for that. It likely won’t be published until after the Monday, though. Whether it’s a holiday weekend for you or just your regular weekend, I wish you all the best.

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because . . .img_3911

Thanks for all the love and support I have received, both here and privately.I expect to have time soon to reply to most, if not all, of the comments you have left for me. Hugs to you all!

Of all the things for which I am grateful, your friendship over the past years is very high on my list. The stories you have shared have given me the will to step onto this new and unknown path, with humour, faith, hope and, most of all, love.

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Unique Beauty

Inspiring post by a friend of mine. I think you’ll enjoy this. ~ Linne

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In May 2014 I held a competition call Project Individual Worth. The point of the competition was to nominate a person who you would call beautiful, and not the promoted Hollywood ideals of what beauty should be. The winners were given a free photo shoot in the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. I was able to catch up with two of the winners, and we had a fantastic day in the gardens. The last winners were unable to make it at the time.

Let me introduce you to the last winners Donna and Karis. Here is the letter that was sent in that nominated these lovely ladies:

I would like to nominate a mother and daughter who have amazed and inspired me since I was lucky enough to join their beautiful family in 2000 when I met my son’s dad.

Karis was a toddler then and the most gorgeous, tumbling haired Scottish…

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Martha s Original Christmas Cookie (biscuit) recipe

Sorry I had to leave out the apostrophes in the titles; no idea what I did, but this laptop is very touchy and all of a sudden began producing an accented è instead of the apostrophe. I am having trouble with the slanting line for fractions, too, (1é3) so have writtern them out. arrgghhhh

sigh . . .

First tray in the oven . . .

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

:Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper to save on cleanup and extra fat. Trust me, the cookies have their fair share of calories! And that is why I prefer to make recipes like this once a year for a feast, then get back on the straight and narrow; well, somewhat straight and narrow, if I have to be completely honest🙂

I am adding my notes as I go along, but will put just the necessary items in a list at the bottom. That way you can copy them and print as you like.

It is a good idea to take the butter out of the fridge and let it soften to room temperature. I used Olivina, unhydrogenated margarine, as it stays soft even in the fridge.

In a medium sized bowl mix the following dry ingredients:
2 c flour
(Mum used white, so I did that when making the cookies as gifts in her name. Myself, I would be more likely to use whole wheat, maybe some rye, a bit of wheat germ, etc. But then they would be MY original cookies, not hers.🙂
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
In a large bowl (I used my small bread bowl, but it is fairly large in size)
Cream two thirds cup butter, softened (or you can use margarine of good flavour)
Add two thirds cup golden brown sugar a third at a time, continuing to cream the mixture
Whisk in two large eggs and cream some more
Add 2 Tblsp milk and mix, then add
1 tsp. vanilla (we prefer the real vanilla, not the imitation)
Method:
Add the dry ingredients to the wet a half cup or so at a time, mixing thoroughly.
Fold in:
One half cu:p chopped walnuts
One half cup chopped almonds
Three quarters cup chopped maraschino cherries
Three quarters cup mixed candied fruit peel
One and a half cups sultana raisins
Stir until fruit is well mixed in, then drop by rounded tablespoons onto the parchment paper. These cookies do not spread, so can be fairly close together.
For smaller (and more) cookies, use rounded teaspoons of dough
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes – do not over bake! I suggest making a few as a test run first to be sure of the time. I baked mine for 12 minutes when I had tablespoons of dough and for 10 minutes when I had teaspoons of dough. Size does matter!
Remove to wire racks to cool, then pack into containers or zip lock bags for storing. Better hide some; they do not last long . . .

A closer view

Here are the easy and more readable instructions.

Martha s Original Christmas Cookies

Dry Ingredients:
2 c. flour
One tsp. baking powder
One half tsp. baking soda
One tsp. salt
Wet ingredients:
Two thirds c. butter
Two thirds c. brown sugar
Two large eggs
Two tblsp. milk
One tsp. real vanilla
Fruit and Nuts:
One half c. chopped walnuts
One half c. chopped almonds
Three quarter c. chopped maraschino cherries
Three quarter c. mixed candied fruit peel
One and a half c. Sultana raisins
Method:
Set Oven to 375 degrees F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease lightly with butter or margarine
Mix dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl
Cream wet ingredients in a large bowl
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ones, mixing well between each addition
Fold in nuts and fruit
Drop by rounded tablespoons on to cookie sheets, spacing fairly close together
Bake 8-10 minutes – do not overbake! Try a few first as a test batch, then adjust baking time for your oven and altitude.
Let cool on wire racks, then pack into containers or zip lock bags for storing
These are excellent hot from the oven with cold milk, as we would have them on baking day as soon as we were home from school and changed out of our school clothes.

Cookies cooling and snack plate set up

Cookies cooling and snack plate set up

Cookies cooling and snack plate set up

 

 

Life is what happens while . . .

. . . you’re busy making other plans . . . (John Lennon)

So there’s been a lot of life going on here, but first, thanks to everyone who has offered support and sent warm energy over the past weeks. I’m so sorry I haven’t replied to comments and, in some cases, emails. I’m still hoping to catch up soon, but a post is long overdue, so I’m doing that first. I think it may be a rather long one, so get your tea now🙂

IMG_2522I was at the hospital a few days ago to bring cookies to the unit and on my way back through the courtyard, I saw that the Healing Tipi had been set up for summer use.

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The Nurse Practitioner who was the recipient of the cookies has become a friend; he told me about a Sound Healing – Tibetan Crystal Bowls event that was coming up. It was held in the Bikram Yoga Centre some distance west and south of where we live. It was an amazing experience; I’m very introverted and a bit awkward with groups of people I don’t know, so I went in, laid out the yoga mat I’d been given, and lay down to prepare for meditation. Matt Welke, one of the organizers of these weekly events, gave a brief introduction to the use of the bowls. We were invited to play one if we liked, but I chose instead to spend the hour in meditation and prayer for those I love and also for those who have requested it.

In 1997 I walked a labyrinth for the first time (not to be confused with a maze – you can get lost in a maze; a labyrinth has only one path; you walk to the centre and then back to the starting point). After I’d been ‘there and back again’, I sat nearby and meditated until all of the group had walked. I had an extremely intense experience of energy in my hands, to the point where they felt so swollen I thought the discomfort came from the pressure of the touching fingers. When I opened my eyes, though, my hands appeared normal and the feeling receded. On closing my eyes and resuming the meditation, the feeling returned, as strongly as in the beginning.  I was told later that I should consider studying Reiki.

I’m  sharing this experience because a similar thing happened while I was listening to the Singing Bowls and it was strongest when the largest bowls or a combination of bowls including one or two of the largest, were played.If this is something that interests you, I highly recommend attending a session. I can’t vouch for the healing effects, but my knees were much more flexible after I stood up and walking was easier. The trouble with attributing effects is that I’m currently using more than one approach. Still, the Bowls were pretty impressive. . .

IMG_2540 . . . as is this uniquely Canadian item. Who recognizes this?

I’m still not ready for the move; it won’t happen at the end of June; most likely now is the end of July. And it won’t be to the Crafties’ basement; I am moving back to southern BC, to Chilliwack where the oldest of my sisters lives. Or at least somewhere close to her. Anywhere from Abbotsford through Yarrow to Chilliwack will be just fine by me. I will be…

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Wan to see where I’m going?  Click here!

The first hospital in Abbotsford was built in 1922 and is where I was born some years later.  The town wasn’t called Abbotsford then; at least my birth certificate says ‘Matsqui’ on it. A lovely name, I think. Abbotsford was named after the home of Sir Walter Scott in the Lowlands of Scotland The hospital was replaced in the early ’50s and then again in 2009. I looked for a photo or two online, but couldn’t find one.

Anyway, the new plan is to find somewhere to live and so I’ve reached out to a couple of old friends who’ve lived in Abbotsford, then Chilliwack for over 30 years.

My plan always was to go ‘home’ to BC, but I didn’t expect to be able to go this year. So amidst all the re-structuring of my daily life, there is some joy, too. And that’s a good thing. I knew the decision was the right one for me as soon as I made it; a huge feeling of peace and relief came over me and the dark clouds began to lift. I’m not done working through the sadness, but it’s become easier now that I feel a sense of hope again.

Once settled, too, I’ll be able to visit my sons and their families, as well as some old friends in Vancouver and Victoria. I have’t been to the coast for over seven and a half years and that’s a long time.

In preparation for this move I went with the Crafties to their property where my container sits with some of my stuff. Boy, have they done a lot of work since I was last there (over a year): I should have taken more photos . . .

Their son has a small two storey cabin half finished:IMG_2543

This 16 foot square shed is nearly done, too, and is already in use for storage. On the south side (away from you)  will be a porch for sitting in the shade and taking a break.

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The outhouse was one of the first structures to be put up; here’s the view from outside and in . . . it’s all boards that have been salvaged from here and there.

Three views: the picnic area, the squirrel grove and the garden. The painted tires each hold a fruit tree. All the fruit trees and a sweet little weeping willow have survived the winter.

Before we had our cookout (using the barrel behind the table to contain the flames), Mrs. Crafty brought out some lovely hand-made soap for washing our hands. That’s it there; the round cake just left of the hand towel.

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Mrs. Crafty loves folk art and painting garden ornaments. Here are some she’s brought from home and a panther they found in a discard heap and rescued. It will be painted soon, too, and the other items will be placed in her gardens and along some of the deer trails, which are wide enough to walk on..

Behind this cute picket fence grows an assortment of flowers, domestic and wild, and above the garden hangs a hummingbird feeder. Bird and squirrel feeders are in several places here and it’s so lovely to watch the birds and critters that the feeders attract. The gate was made by Mrs Crafty from twisted branches she cut from small trees they were felling for firewood. The birdbath is a clay saucer I gave her when I realized I was not likely to have my dream garden, with a fountain at each corner.

The other three, and most of my clay pots, are going to a friend who used to be my manager when I worked at her Lewiscraft store. Later she encouraged me to take on the Assistant Manager position and after that, to move up to Manager. I loved so much about working in a craft store; ordering unique colours of yarn, teaching clients to knit and crochet while we stood in the niddle of the store, especially figuring out where a pattern had gone wrong for the more experienced knitters and crocheters.  When Mum was in the hospital before Christmas, she had a room-mate whose daughter remembered me from over a decade ago. She had knitted a sweater, arms and body, to the yoke in six months. Then, for over three years she struggled to complete the patterned yoke. In despair she brought it to the store; we went over each stitch together and found where the pattern was wrong! It was quite gratifying to find that all her family knew the story and knew who I was, just from that one day.

Can you tell that old wooden chairs minus their seats were used as part of the frames for these garden beds? The right hand bed is full of strawberry plants.

We have no idea what this plant is, but my sister thinks it may be cowslip:

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We were out there for over eight hours and besides taking a tour of the property, Mrs. Crafty and I went through over a third of the boxes in the container. The container has settled at the back, so some of the boxes had fallen and others had been placed with heavy boxes on top of half=full or light boxes, so the lower ones had collapsed somewhat. We are re=packing those into stronger boxes and organizing them near the front for easy loading come moving day. I am giving the container to the Crafties and they will store some of my things that are not sensitive to moisture for a couple more years. They will be able to store some of their tools and equipment in it, so it’s a good deal all around. Below you can see how much the container is listing . . . The bottom photo shows some of my boxes. The old bed frames and other things at the front belong to the Crafties. I remembered there being a lot more boxes, so seeing them was a good thing. Much more manageable that I’d expected. It’s helping, too, that I’m giving some of my things to Mrs. Crafty, like the yarns for afghans that are mostly or all acrylic. I’ve decided I’m switching to natural materials, or mostly so, from now on.

If I had a piece of property, I think I’d place two of these 40 foot long containers side by side, but about 30 or 40 feet apart, then roof over the space and the containers and build walls with large windows at the back and front of the large space. A large set of patio doors at each end and a floor would make it complete (and a wood-burning fireplace, of course). It would be easy to fit one container out with a bathroom and two bedrooms and the other with a kitchen, pantry and storage space. The central room would be workspace, gathering room, etc.Using salvaged materials for most of it, I think one could have a great cottae / workshop for about $10,000. I’d extend beams from the roof supports, too, to create a porch on either side. Solar panels could be set up nearby to power lights, etc. The neighbour has several set up next to where he lives and can run a washer and dryer, cookstove, small refrigerator and lights as well as his power tools. Very nice, I think.

The driveway out to the gravel road . . .

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. . . but we didn’t go back to town immediately. Because, in spite of my parents’ being sure that I would grow out of it, my love for horses is as strong as ever and I simply had to see the neighbour’s herd, or two of them, anyway . . . These are quarter horses and I was sorely tempted to hop on the grey and ride home . . . but common sense prevailed . . .

Now, the other news: I have been unable to find my ‘toe-up’ sock that is still sitting at the first toe/ But I have been busy going through boxes and packing (and down-sizing for the first of what I think will be several times). While doing that, I found six skeins of this amazing mohair/wool blend with a little nylon for added strength:

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The colour reminds me of piles of autumn leaves and is more beautiful than the photos.

I have had this yarn for ten years, waiting to be inspired and finally inspiration struck! I decided to make a Pi Shawl. The pattern for this shawl was first created by Elizabeth Zimmerman and is loosely based on the mathematical Pi. You begin with 9 stitches on three double pointed needles, knit two rows, then usising yarn overs you double the stitches to 18. The next section is 4 rows of knitting. The next row you double the stitches again, to 36, then knit 8 rows . . . see how easy? It’s good to keep track of your rows with a stitch counter, though, especially with mohair or other fuzzy yarns. I haven’t located any  of my own counters, so I’m making marks on recipe cards, four verticals and one horizontal to  tie them into a group of five. So far, that’s working just fine. I am now up to 288 stitches and have finished 10 of the 64 rows called for in this section. I have seen this shawl knitted from smooth yarns and some knitters have done patterned knitting in each section between the increase rows. Those are stunning! Now, if I were truly ambitious, I would be considering knitting one using the Fair Isle patterns I love so much. Maybe one day, when I’m spending more time in a rocker by the fire . . . Here’s the work to date:

In the left hand photo, I’d hung the piece on a hook in the hallway, but the light wasn’t good enough. In the other two photos the work is flattened and the pictures were taken under different lights; I think the right hand one is closest to the actual colour. I’m using a circular needle now, so the work has assumed the shape of a bag or maybe a Rasta beanie… Soon I will put half the stitches onto another circular needle and the work will continue to go easily. I’m not sure how large this shawl will be, but I’ve only just begun on the third of the six balls and if I fold the work, it comes nearly to my elbows.

By the end of each day, we are generally tired and partly that’s from the emotional side of . through our mother’s things. Other factors come into it, too, but I won’t be posting about those. So we make our supper and watch some Netflix movie or tv series and I knit. Then it’s off to bed. A good distraction when I just want to turn off my busy mind for a while.

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These are not particularly healthy, although the recipe could be adapted. Our youngest sister found it and I made it up just as Mum used to do for Christmas. This is a double batch and made eight dozen, with some dough left over. No idea what happened to that…

I loved using my favourite bowl (which matches a larger one of Mum’s), Mum’s wooden spoon and my Aunty’s potholders. I felt as though they were just in the other room.

If anyone would like the recipe, let me know in a comment below and I will post it. It’s quite quick and easy to make; the longest part for me was chopping the nuts with a knife. If one had a nut chopper, it would go very fast. These were a great hit and the hospital bag of a couple dozen cookies apparently lasted less than an hour. Made me happy . . .

So . . . my day out in the country with no sounds but those of nature was most refreshing and renewing. I hadn’t realized how much i’d missed it until I was out there again. We had lovely weather, warm but not too hot (although while in the container we were both sweating heavily), with a light breeze to cool us off.  Jtust what I needed, that day . . .

I’m not sure when I’ll get to post again and it likely won’t be so long next time, but I’ll keep you updated on the move and settling in wherever I land.I wish you all a wonderful week / month / year. I’ve been reading your posts as often as possible, but have not been able to comment from my phone (forgot my password . . . again!). I’m still getting used to the laptop, but eventually it will behave itself and then we’ll see . . . Lots of big hugs to all of you in the Virtual Village.  <3