Three Things / Thankful on Thursday

Thankful on Thursday

I have been sitting here and contemplating what to write about tonight. There are things in the works that I’m not ready to share yet and things I planned and haven’t been able to begin. Still, there is much to be grateful for.

One: I am grateful for the skills that my mother started me on when I was a wee child; hand-stitching from the age of two or so, for one. Knitting and crochet and embroidery for more. I feel so deeply happy when I knit and crochet; I feel connected to such a long line of women in my family who all did the same, either to keep their family warm and cosy or to be creative or, in most cases, both. Last winter i crocheted an enormous throw for my friends in Tacoma. Out of cotton yarn. It began as an idea for a light (ha!) summer wrap, something to keep  one’s back warm when sitting by an evening campfire. And it morphed into this:

crochet spread teal white mango 01

I used two yarns; one teal and the other a variegate with teal, mandarin orange and white. I started in the centre, crocheted once around, then joined the second yarn. I just kept alternating yarns in a lovely spiral. I changed the pattern a couple of times, too, but now I wish I’d written down what I did. I would like to try this again one day, but with three yarn colours. I did find at first that the variegate interfered with the clarity of the pattern. Next time I will choose solid colours only. AS you can see, it’s five feet across or more. I’m still amazed that I created this in about two months, in the midst of other handwork and with only two to four hours a day, some days not at all, too.

The second thing I’m grateful for is my renewed love of sock making.  When I was in my twenties, my lovely mother in law gave me a pair of work boots for Christmas. I was living with my oldest son and his dad on one of the Gulf Islands and we walked everywhere. They were wonderful boots that fit me exactly and I have never forgotten her thoughtfulness. But I needed some warm socks to go with them. I didn’t than have the patience for knitting with fin yarns and I had some pure wool rug yarn, so I took a men’s dress sock pattern and did the math. The resulting pattern was a perfect fit and I had those socks for many years.

A few weeks ago my cousin and I were driving to Vernon for some of the weekly sales shopping and he kindly took me to Armstrong along the way. Armstrong is a small town about twenty minutes from here, not far off the main highway. We went to The Twisted Purl Yarn Studio and I bought some Jamieson & Smith pure wool two ply jumper yarn in five colours: black, burgundy, red, pink and a sort of sage green. I had not stopped to think what I might make, so gave the colour selection less thought than usual,; the selection was small for my taste and I simply picked colours that I thought I could use successfully in Fair Isle type stranded knitting. A few days later I decided I needed a pair of wool socks and the adventure began. The colours aren’t quite what I like, but I think they are working out fairly well. In any case, they will keep my feet toasty warm.

IMG_4694

AS you can see, I’ve successfully turned the heel and am about to begin knitting my way up the leg. The other sock is ready to have its heel created, too. There are a few errors in the knitting; While doing the hearts motif I was listening to Runrig on my headphones and lost track of the counting, so some of the hearts aren’t quite right. By the time I noticed it was too late for frogging. And while doing the heel, the pattern required using short rows with a wrapped stitch at the beginning and then picking up the wrap with the stitch and knitting or purling them together. Sounds easy, right? Well, try doing that with black yarn in the late evening and under rather dim lighting. Not to mention that my eyesight is not too good at present. However, I got through rather well, I think and the heel looks fine to me.

Today, with snow coming tonight for the firs time this autumn, we went to Vernon again so that I could buy a pair of thick work socks, some heavy work gloves for shovelling snow and the like and some more candied ginger. My cousin is a very kind man and made time to take me to the Twisted Purl again, where I put in an order for a few colours I feel I need before I begin the next pair of socks and another ball of the black for this pair. The Purl was out of the black but ready to make another order, so I asked for not only the black but also a medium green, a slightly golden yellow and I think another colour. And as long as I was in the store . . . I bought these:

IMG_4763

Two balls of dark green, one of a light blue, one of  a darker blue and one each of the three reds I’m already using in the current socks. We were in a bit of a rush to get all the shopping done and get home before dark, so I didn’t want to take time over the colours and order more. I think I can make these work, though. I have a happy pattern in mind for the legs of the next pair and I’ll share that with you all once I get to that. It’s all part of the plan for next year . . .

The third thing I’m grateful for today is my odd knack for baking ‘on the fly’; adapting recipes that I’ve never made before I make them and then having it all work out so well. Usually, anyway. Yesterday my cousin’s wife, Cousin S, gave me five bananas she had brought home from her work as a school custodian. They had black spots on the skins but were still firm. She mentioned that she had been thinking of banana bread and had Googled for a recipe, finding one for Chocolate Banana Bread. I offered to whip that up, as she rarely has time for baking and after lunch I set to. I added chopped walnuts, whole wheat flour and wheat germ to the original recipe (I like to maximize nutrition as much as possible). I doubled the recipe so that I could use all the bananas and when I found the batter a bit dry I added some yoghurt. In the end, we got twenty four muffins out of the recipe. I chose to do muffins instead of a loaf as it makes it easier to pack one for lunch and, wrapped individually, they keep very well in the fridge. They turned out scrumptious, especially hot from the oven with butter after I split them open. The chocolate chips didn’t hurt, either; they formed wee volcanoes of deliciousness that I’m sure you can imagine.

I will share the recipe here, likely tomorrow. It was very easy and well worth it.


Chocolate Banana Muffins 

INGREDIENTS for a single recipe: makes 12 muffins or one loaf.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4  cup wheat germ

1/2 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali

1 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1/2 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

3 large brown bananas – 1.5 cups mashed

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

3/4 cup packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter). This will work with less sugar.

1 large egg at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take one out, so I used a cold egg. You could use 2 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 to 1 cup raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour)

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

INGREDIENTS for a double recipe: makes 24 muffins or two loaves.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2  cup wheat germ

1 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali. I used a couple of heaping tablespoons more; we like chocolate around here.

2 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

5 – 6 large brown bananas – 3 cups mashed. I confess I didn’t measure them. Hence the yoghurt added at the end.

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

1.5 cups packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter) This will work with less sugar.

2 large eggs at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take them out, so I used cold eggs. You could use 3 – 4 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 to 2  cups chopped walnuts

1 to 2 cups raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour). I didn’t use raisins this time; cousin M has requested them for next timre, as he loves the large raisins we buy.

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

Variation: I think these would be wonderful made with chocolate chips and chopped candied ginger, too. But I love candied ginger! lol

METHOD:

Heat oven to 350 F

Grease one or two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans or one or two 12 hole muffin pans, I use a non-hydrogenated margarine made with olive oil. Safflower oil would likely work, too. I like the margarine because it isn’t absorbed so much by the muffins / loaves.

In a medium sized bowl mix the flours, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl mash the peeled bananas with a fork or a pastry cutter.Add the butter and oil. Stir until well mixed.stir in the brown sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, folding in carefully. I usually add the dry mix in three portions; it makes the folding in easier. Don’t overmix.

IF the mixture seems too dry, add a few heaping tblsp of plain or vanilla yoghurt. Milk can also be used. Use your judgement; less is more sometimes.

Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins.

Using a large serving spoon or a tablespoon (a small metal measuring cup would also work, I think), spoon the batter into the muffin cups or the loaf pans.

Optional: Spoon a little of the topping mix onto each muffin or top the loaves with it, if using. I didn’t and they were fine without it. It’s my idea, not from the original recipe; I just thought it would fancy them up for a special occasion.

If making a loaf, the original recipe calls for baking it for 50 – 65 minutes. I’d test them from about 30 minutes on, using a toothpick or table knife. When it comes out clean, remove from the oven, let cool for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove to a rack.

If making muffins, bake for about 15 – 20 minutes and then test to see if they need more time. Every oven is different. I had mine in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes and it was a wee bit too long; the chocolate didn’t burn, but it would have if I’d not checked them.

These muffins are fantastic eaten hot, split open and buttered. You may want to make tea, coffee or your favourite hot drink to enjoy along with them.


I have more to tell you, but it will have to wait. It’s well after midnight now and bed is calling me . . .

Correction:

I didn’t link to The Twisted Yarn’s Three Things on Thursday post. And a good thing, too! I was doing my best to get back to more timely posting and typed that from memory. Actually, the Thankful on Thursday posts belong to Mrs. Snail. My apologies to both ladies.

It’s too dark for me to type properly as it is. I’ll add that tomorrow, too. In the meantime, do share your Three Things / Thankful in the comments, if you feel inspired to do so. Love and warm hugs to each of you. I hope you are all doing well.

A final addition: This is what I woke up to today:

And, as to my Peace Poppies for Kendal; they arrived in time. In this photo you can see two of them quite clearly (the ones with the red bit around their black centre):

The second photo shows the WWI medical tent over which the poppies were draped after being fastened together by some wonderful volunteers.

16 thoughts on “Three Things / Thankful on Thursday

    • Superwoman? lol I can only wish. in fact, in case you are ever tempted, plain socks are quite easy so long as you pay attention while turning the heel. But I’ve always gone for the big challenges, so of course it had to be Fair Isle style stranded knitting. You can laugh now: first, I have found that the heel bit where the sole and the upward bit of the heel join is quite bumpy and not at all what it should be. They’ll be warm, though, and I’m NOT frogging them again. 🙂 Second, the Black colour I mentioned has turned out to be dark chocolate brown. Which I have run out of just before finishing the second heel and which I need to serve as a divider between the various motifs as I knit up the legs. AND which I did not buy at The Twisted Purl, because I was at that time still convinced that I had been working with black. They didn’t have black, only two skeins of guess what? Yep, dark chocolate brown. So now I’m grateful I ordered some more colours from them; I can phone and have them add the dark chocolate to my order. But in the meantime . . . I am picking up more sock size circulars tomorrow and beginning a new pair of socks and a tuque. I prefer not to be idle and besides, it’s already been down to -16 C here and I really want my ears and my hands to be warm. I have a new pair of heavy work gloves, but I think I’ll make a pair of knitted ones to wear as well. Some days I think there must be something wrong with me; other days I’m pretty sure of it . . . 🙂

      Hope you are staying warm and dry and finding creative things to occupy your time. Love and Light to you. ~ Linne

      • “Some days I think there must be something wrong with me; other days I’m pretty sure of it . . .” – you make me laugh!
        Did you say MINUS 16??????? I got a shock just reading that. I have obviously been spoiled by the “Mediterranean” climate that we enjoy in Cape Town… even in the middle of winter, it only goes down to 1 or 2 degrees – and THEN do we complain!
        I remain in awe of your sock-making talents and perseverance. I had the urge to pick up my knitting needles yesterday when I heard that an old friend in Germany had just become a granddad, but managed to hold back. I steered myself in the direction of the sewing machine instead.
        Love, Jill x

      • Wait ’til next year, Jill; it’s going to be interesting, to say the least. Always glad to ring smiles and laughter to others. lol

        Yes, it went to -16C for a couple of days; we are back to balmy somewhat for now. This means the roads and all the pathways my cousin cleared with the snowblower are clear down to the surface, grass, whatever. But the snowbanks are still there, now with some of the autumn leaves on top; The temperature even worked its way to north of zero during the daytime on a few afternoons. This is pretty common weather here, but it usually doesn’t begin so early; a month or so later would be more normal. And my cousin says that they have had many green Christmases here, too, with the snow and cold coming in January. Isn’t it nice that climate change is just a fraud? According to some who sit in high places, although I can’t call them leaders in any way. I have a couple of friends in Australia and they, too complain when it gets down to the minus temps. I often tease them about that, especially after my 17+ years in Edmonton, which were down to -20 regularly, -30 too often for me and even -40 at times. WE won’t talk about the wind chill factor, will we? 🙂 ON the plus side, though, we have few poisonous things and I’m fine with that. I could use some semi-tropical fruit trees and bushes, though.

        Now you have made ME laugh! (knitting needles vs sewing machine) I have begun another pair of Fair Isle style socks as I’m waiting for some yarn I’ve ordered to arrive. Soon, I hope. I have fabrics here now (my original stashes are still in the storage and I apparently can’t live without stashes, so have amassed even more supplies for several pursuits. I’m waiting for a parcel to arrive from Tacoma with a new rotary cutter in it. Then I have several projects that are now in the planning stage and then I’ll be getting ready to stitch. Some by hand and some by machine and/or serger. I miss the gardening, but am also grateful to be done with it for now; too much else I want to do. Another order I’m waiting on is coming from here in Canada, so should arrive this coming week; in it are two skeins for a shawl and four for socks. I’m going to try and make two pairs without the fancy patterning. Sure you don’t want to join in with me? I even have a link to a pattern for baby socks . . . in case you give in to temptation . . . Big hugs to you, Jill, and I hope you keep us posted on the water situation and whatever solutions are put in place. I like to know stuff like that. ~ Linne

    • Yes, I think we share quite a few interests. 🙂 As to socks: one of the things I bought in Vernon was a pair of 50% wool socks. Made for men wearing boots, they fit me perfectly and are fairly warm. I was looking for 100% wool work socks, but they were nowhere to be found. We were at a surplus store because I was actually looking for thermal underwear bottoms (also known as ‘long johns’ here); found those, but not in my size. If I don’t find any anywhere, I shall simply buy a pair of flannel pyjama bottoms and use them under my jeans. I’ve done that before. When we were young, my brothers always had flannel lined jeans for winter, but they never made them for girls. We had to wear dresses in those days in any case. I do love dresses, but walking in winter they are a bit chilly 😉 back to the socks: once I finish this pair I will try wearing them inside the heavier socks. That should work perfectly.

      I have two sock goals; the first is to knit enough for next year. The second is to have a sock drawer full of my own creations. I’ve been following knitters who have a sock drawer and am suffering somewhat from sock drawer envy . . .

    • I love your postts, so will take that as a great compliment! Yes, more socks coming up. I’ll post about all that soon. Hope you are keeping warm. Hugs. ~ Linne

  1. There is always a lot to be grateful for if you look. You are obviously looking quite carefully. Most of us would overlook the gratitude for what someone taught us to do. I am envious of anyone who can knit such lovely, warm socks. They just don’t make them that well for stores anymore. No one is going to look at the pattern hard enough to see any tiny mistake. As long as they are warm and fit, you are good to go. How sweet of you to make the banana bread for your cousins knowing they have so little time. I know they are kind to you as well. So thoughtful of you to share the recipe. Love the aqua throw. Such happy colors..I may never catch up but it doesn’t matter. Time for me to journal and read a short story and call it a night too. I hope to never see snow again. Ever! Have a great weekend.

    • Hi, Marlene! Yes, I’m returning to an old childhood habit, taking my lead from Pollyanna (to whom I was often compared unfavourably in those days and later on, too). I’ve known about this practise all my life, it seems, but was off the path for some time. Feels good to be back on again. The skills I learned from my Mum when I was under ten have lightened my load in so many ways ever since. They also gave me an appetite for learning more. One of the few things I regret about growing older is knowing that I may not have the time to master all the things I want to do and not only in the crafting field. But I try . . .
      Plain socks are actually quite simple to make and are what my Mum and all her sisters learned on, most of them before they turned six and started school. mostly it’s a matter of having the time and someone to show you. My great-grandmother did much of the teaching. She would start the sock at the cuff and once there were a few rows the pupil would be given the sock to knit on, first the ribbing and then the plain knit. Great-grandma would turn the heel (that takes a bit of concentration) and then the child would resume plain knit to the beginning of the toe. Great-grandma would finish the sock. She made socks for herself and her husband, their children and for Mum’s dad and eight siblings after their mother died. A lot of socks, especially when you think that the men worked in the fields! I hope one day to have the chance to teach my grandchildren the same way. Great-grandma taught the boys as well as the girls; her family in Norway were fishermen and knitting was necessary and also a practical hobby for men often away at sea for weeks or more at a time. Mum’s oldest brother made his own socks for many years.

      You are right about the mistakes, too, one reason why I didn’t bother frogging the yarn and re-knitting. i had recently read what one older Norwegian knitter said about the practises of the older days; she said back then mistakes were overlooked and that today people get all stressed out about perfection. She, too, felt that the goal is warmth first and the mistakes generally make no difference.

      I wrote the recipe up for us to use, seeing as how I’d changed the original so much, and then thought that maybe others would be interested. Cousin S froze half and I will see if they do well with that; I expect they will.

      Yes, my cousins have been wonderful to me. cousin M feels he owes me (I helped with advice for his Mum a few years ago and helped my RN sister take care of our Auntie after she passed away in ’03), but I’ve never felt that. In any case, it has meant a good place to live for the time being, with excellent food and shared interests. Easier than living with any of my siblings, much as I love them. We are simply too different and not everyone has room for another person. My sons have no room, either. Things are not the best here at the moment. I have hopes that the new government (provincial) will make a difference.

      The other thing is that I like making people happier and baking is an easy way to do that here. There is much that I can;’t do well at present and other things the cousins have their own ways for, as we all do as we grow old.

      Thanks for the compliment on the throw. It turned out much better than i anticipated. And I liked having something to do while the tv was on in the evenings, once my friend was feeling better. A small thank you for all they did for me last winter.

      You are right; catching up doesn’t really matter; one can always just jump in where they are and go from there.

      We had plenty of snow again overnight and apparently I slept through several hours of power outage. I don’t mind that, though 🙂 At least they have a pellet stove, so we won’t freeze. And I have a new Air Force (or Navy) surplus sweater that I simply love and am wearing at the moment. 100% wool and very fine yarn; I could never make it for $10 CAD, which is what I paid for it. Wish now I’d bought the other two she had; they were too small for me but I could have hand-stitched them into a cardigan. I do have her contact information and she lives in BC, but at the coast.

      The cold here is not as bad as in Edmonton, but it’s damper and so feels colder. I’m planning to buy boots soon, even though I never did in Edmonton all those years (except for one lovely pair whose seams came apart in the slush; they were meant to be fashion boots, not practical boots. Go figure . . . I always wore skateboarder runners there; they keep the snow out of the ankles and reduced the number of falls on icy sidewalks by a fair number.

      Well, this is as long as a post, isn’t it? I always feel as though we are chatting and I do love sharing my thoughts and memories. And my daily life. Thanks for dropping by my Virtual Home; it’s always fun to have a visitor. I wish you peace, warmth and joy in the coming days,Marlene.

      • I’ve enjoyed your visit, Lynne. Stay warm and cozy somehow. I never want to see snow again. I don’t mind the cold but I don’t want to drive in the snow anymore. Keep knitting.

    • Marlene, I completely understand how you feel about snow; I had a few falls while in Edmonton but no injury except to my pride, fortunately. And I did drive in the snow there, but have not driven for three years or so now. I won’t get my new driver’s license until the snow is gone.In many ways I’d rather live on the coast and be near my sons and their families, but there’s nothing there, either. My good friend L (I stayed with her last autumn when I was in Victoria getting new ID) had to move because the property is being developed. She couldn’t find anything to rent and ended up on one of the Gulf Islands paying $1,000 a month plus power, etc., for a farmhouse over a hundred years old that has one unusable bedroom due to the beams below having collapsed. I feel a bit like Alice on the other side of the Looking Glass. The world I left has irretrievably vanished and I hardly recognize what is here in its place. Mostly I don’t think about it; just accept what is and make plans for next year. Not sure how that will all work out, but one has to do something!

      I AM staying cosy, thank you (and thanks to the cousins’ pellet stove), and will get boots soon so I can be outdoors a bit more. In the meantime I’m knitting, crocheting and designing up a storm. Creativity always helps me cope.

      I hope you don’t get snow this winter, and no more rain than necessary. I think of you so often as we seem to be on parallel journeys in some ways. Love and Light to you. ~ Linne

      BTW, I appreciate your gentle nudges that remind me to stay positive no matter what; they help more than you can know. ~ L

      • Yes, we will! Thank you for that; I’m currently listening to Rhonda Byrne as I crochet or knit and when I wake in the night. One of the most useful things she;s said so far is that we don’t need to be positive all the time; even 51% of the time will tip the balance. Very useful, for me at least, and I’m seeing results in many small ways already and in a couple of rather large ones, too. Please know that I think of you daily and am sending Love and Light your way. For your sister, too, of course.
        ~ Linne

      • I will, Marlene. You, too. I know quite well at least part of what you will be doing. It’s an awesome opportunity, helping someone you love, but do try to take care of yourself, too. (I suspect you generally do that, but felt like reminding you 🙂 )
        Love and Light to you both. ~ Linne

    • Thanks, Marlene. I am looking quite closely and carefully. A good habit, I think. I was thinking today of all the things Mum taught me to do and how lucky I am for those skills. I don’t know what I would have done without reading all these years, although it’s on the back burner for now.

      You are right about the socks, although I did buy two pairs of 50% wool socks in a surplus store in Vernon and except for the elastic tops being too tight (I had to get out the scissors) they are keeping my feet toasty warm. I learned the other day (two lat for the first two pairs, but oh, well . . .) that if one uses smaller needles, even 2mm (size 0 in US terms, I think), and knit tightly, the wool socks WILL wear like iron. So I have ordered four skeins of wool from Yarn Canada and once that arrives will attempt two more pairs of plain (not Fair Isle style) socks on my very tiny needles and see how that goes. You are right about the patterns, too; but I still like to get things ‘right’. On the other hand, I’m not spending all my time frogging . . . I do love baking and it’s nice to be able to do it, although I think my approach may be a bit worrisome to others at times. I’m very ‘pinch of this, handful of that’ in may cases. I’ve been up to more of that and will post soon about more baking adventures. Thanks for the compliment on the throw. It was fun making it. I originally bought two cones of cotton for my friend to use, then thought I’d get her started, then she was working on a blanket and I just kept going . . . and it grew like Topsy . . . She loves those colours and the aqua is featured heavily in the trailer.

      You are right about catching up; just jump in where you are and all is well. You, especially, have a lot on your plate at present.

      I understand what you say about snow. I’d love it if I were at the coast again, especially if we could have snow a week before Christmas and up to mid-January. That’s all. I also like that one can eat from the garden on the coast most years.

      Anyway, I’m here for now and who knows for the future? Much love and big hugs to you. ~ Linne

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s