Day 10: A Story for Saturday

This is the beginning of my introduction to TMMT, soon to be revealed.

Today I want to share one of my favourite stories with you all. You know, there have been times in my life when I was ‘out of sync’ and things didn’t flow easily; in fact, sometimes it seemed as though they had frozen right up. But I’ve had a few times when I was ‘in sync’, too and then life seemed easy, even magical.

I rarely had much money and so had not travelled other than a few short trips into Washington State or to visit friends in upper central BC. Once we even drove to Peace River to visit my husband’s sisters. But nothing further.

Then, one year, I was chosen as a delegate to an international conference in Virginia on the East Coast of the USA. I was given enough money to cover my air fare and a week in a hotel, plus some for incidentals. But I wanted to maximize the opportunity, so I booked my flight for a three week stay, not knowing how that might work out. I didn’t book a hotel room, either.  I did know that there was a campsite set not too far from where the conference was being held, so Plan Z was to stay there for the duration and take the trolley back and forth each day.

I did stay there the first night. I had arrived at 9 o’clock in the evening and it was already pitch dark outside. I’d forgotten that, the further south one goes, the earlier the sun sets in the summer. But no worries, eventually the trolley came and I took that to the campsite, where the overnight staff were rather astounded to see a single, 40-year old woman on a Friday night. Well, what did I know? I grew up when camping meant camping, not drinking and raising hell . . .

So the staff gave me a site near to their office and kept an eye on me all night. They were great! For the first half of the night there were loud sounds of people carrying on, drinking, singing, talking loudly; a while later there were  sounds of people being sick in the bushes. But eventually all was quiet and I did get some sleep.

I should tell you about my camping style here, too. I didn’t own a tent but I did have a sleeping bag. So I took five large black plastic bags and a piece of kitchen twine. I had a plan, you see. I made and lived in a tipi the  year myboys’ Dad and I worked on a small truck farm in the Okanagan and I had a book on tipis. so I knew how they were fastened down to keep themf rom blowingover in high winds. And I adapted the idea to make a sort of tent/shelter. I cut one bag open at the bottom to form a tube, then overlapped it with another bag. I put a pebble inside and pushed it up through the two layers, winding the string around a couple of times, then forming a half hitch to hold it in place. I didn’t cut the string. Another pebble about six inches away, more string wrapping, and so on until I had a long sausage shaped bag. I cut another plastic bag open down one side and hung it from a tree branch with more string until the corners touched the ground. I used small rocks to anchor the corners after I’d spread them out. The two remaining garbage bags I used to cover the backpack so it would stay dry. I got the sleeping bag into the ‘sausage’ bag and myself into that, with my head under the cone shaped bag hanging from the branch. I slept well and was dry as could be, although it did rain a bit during the night. The only thing I lacked for was food, because I wasn’t allowed to bring any on the flight. It’s amazing what one can do when motivated and informed, isn’t it?

I woke early, bought some snacks from a vending machine and sat on a picnic table eating my makeshift breakfast and revelling in the sound of the Atlantic ocean just over the dunes. Then I walked to the shore, took off my shoes and waded into the chilly water. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

By 9 am I was on the trolley and on my way to the conference to sign in. We stopped for a break at a small fruit stand and I had a treat that I’d dreamed about for years, but never expected to realize: I bought a real Georgia Peach and ate it right there, bent over to let the gushing juice fall onto the ground. It was amazing and all I had imagined it o=would be.

When I finally arrived at the conference , I did ask about places to stay and was given a list of people who always provided a room to attendees. but, of course, all were filled. Indeed, some people had booked their rooms the year before. Well, no worries. I went back to the nice lady at the desk and asked if she knew of anything else I might try. And she mentioned a young couple who were usually on the list but not that year. So I called them and it turned out they were artisans, one a potter and the other a silversmith, with thousands of dollars worth of tools and stock in their home. They were going to Washington, DC that week for a few days and hadn’t wanted to leave strangers in their home. But they said if I hadn’t found anything by 3 pm I should call them back. I explained that I didn’t need to be in their house; I just wanted a place to camp. I planned to wash up at the conference itself. I’ve lived outdoors several times in my life when younger and I do love it, so I was quite fine with the idea. And there was always the campsite.

By 2 I still hadn’t found anything else, so I called them back and was invited over. We hit it off immediately and an hour later they left for DC and, much to my surprise and delight,  I had been left in the house with keys and all. Best of all, when I walked out the back door, across the yard and then across a narrow lane, I had only to climb a small bank and I was at the conference! I was closer than anyone who had booked way in advance. The couple asked if I thought $10 a night would be ok, as I was going to buy all my own food. And of course it was! I stayed with them for two weeks (they returned a few days later, maybe 3 or 4) and I did what I have always done; I helped with the dishes, babysat their lovely 3 year old daughter, generally made myself useful when not at meetings. And when I left they would only take $5 per night. There ARE miracles in this world!

But I still had a week to go before my return flight. I had brought enough of my own money with me to cover a few extras and one of those was a massage at the massage school. The trainee who gave me the massage was a lovely young girl and we connected right away. She asked me questions about where I was from and where I was staying. And she said that if I needed a place to stay at any point to let her know and I could stay with her. At the end of the second week I had to leave the couple’s home; his older children were coming to stay for the summer. So I did contact the masseuse and ended up spending a delightful week with her. She was paying her way through the massage school by working part time in a fast food place that specialized in something called, I think, Cajun Boil. They had large pots of water with spices in and in those they cooked a wide variety of seafood, all sort thrown in together. Crab, lobster, clams, mussels, oysters, fish of several types, etc. And if a customer placed an order and didn’t pick it up, the staff was allowed to take it home. So I had all the fresh seafood I could eat for a week, every day.  I could never have afforded to eat like that back home. And she was great company, too. ONe night we went to see a movie and sat in the car outside with paper towelling tucked into our collars, feasting on fish and shellfish before going in to see :Raising Arizona”. I shall never forget that time.

That trip was on my bucket list, although we didn’t use that term in those days. I learned a lot about stepping out on faith and having trust.

I have two other stories to share with you, but it’s too late tonight.

May the day be merry and bright and may you find time for creating something, baking, stitching, painting, writing, anything that makes your heart sing.

Dubliners Travelling People

Music for today:

An all time favourite of mine: The Travelling People, also known as The Moving On Song,  sung here by The Dubliners. My brother in law who died three years ago first introduced me to this recording and to The Dubliners. I particularly love the pictures used for this video; I had horses like that years ago and nearly ended up living in a gypsy wagon then, too. A long story . . . But I’ve learned that sometimes a simple life is a hard life; all the same, it usually gives us greater gifts than one might imagine.

And another song, Go, Move, Shift; this one by Ewan MacColl, is even more relevant in these days and for Christmas in the original story.

See you tomorrow.  ~ Linne

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Monday: Muffins, Moos and Musings

Actually, some of the muffins were made on Sunday, but I am still up (it’s nearly one am) and by the time this is posted you will be reading it on Monday except for those who are bolshie enough to live across the Great Divide from us and who will see it on Tuesday . . . and I rather liked the sound of all that alliteration . . .   🙂

So here, in no particular order, are my thoughts and creative efforts.

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Here I am in the Canadian Army Peacekeepers jacket that my cousin gave me a while ago. I’m still wearing it without the snap-in very warm liner jacket. It was Army Surplus  when he bought it about 20 years ago and is still in great condition.  The other picture is of my new 50% wool socks, very heavy and meant for men who wear boots. I wear a pair of thinner cotton socks inside them and my feet are toasty warm.

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This barn is not far from where we live and I see it every time we head into Salmon Arm for some shopping or to visit the library. Don’t you think the red is extra cheery set down amongst all that snow? I do.

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I don’t know if you remember my writing about making something my Mum used to call “Pear Mousse“; at least that’s how I have always thought of the dish all these years. And then, a couple of weeks ago, searching for recipes that might have been made by my dad’s mother (he grew up in a Mennonite family who emigrated from Russia when he was one year old), I came across a site called “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” and I discovered that the correct spelling is “Moos”.  It seems to mean ‘soup’, but the recipes I saw were mainly for fruit soups. This photo is of my “Plumi Moos” as it bubbled away on the stove. I made more of the pear moos a couple of months ago and I made it as Mum always did; with  cornstarch, sugar and pears cooked in some water and then a can of evaporated milk added at the end. My cousin liked it well enough, but his Mum made it quite differently. Never just pears. She  made it in the winter with canned fruit, so plums, pears, peaches and sometimes cherries. And no evaporated milk. So a couple  of weeks ago I bought some pears and peaches because I wanted to use up the last of our home-grown plums.. And I made Plumi Moos. Without the canned milk, too. (and if you only use plums for the fruit, it’s called Pluma Moos) I thought it turned out very well, but of course I was using fresh fruit and my cousin’s memory was of canned fruit, so it didn’t taste like what he remembered. Still, he liked it and so did his wife, and it is now all gone. Cousin S and I both like oatmeal porridge (M doesn’t; he prefers uncooked cereal), so we ate the Moos mostly on our porridge in the morning. I added yoghurt as well. And a couple of times I had it for lunch with a piece or two of toast. Mmmmm . . . . .  I’ll be making this often for myself once I’m settled again.

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This was taken before I finished the pattern, which I’ve done now. Just one border band to do and then the last few inches of plain knitting to go. This is the second end of the scarf I started for my friend in Tacoma early this year. She did all the plain knitting once I had it started, but struggled with the patterning. Not to mention that I used two circular needles and there were loose ends flopping around. Surprising what bothers us, isn’t it? I never mind the floppy bits, but I’ve also got a few more years of knitting under my belt, so to speak. In the end, I did the first end’s patterns, she did the middle part and I brought the work here with me to complete for her.  I’ll post a photo once it’s done. Did I mention that this is worked in the round, Fair Isle and Norwegian style? And the yarn is fairly bulky, so it will be very warm indeed.

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Toe of one of my second pair of Fair Isle style socks.

Remember the pair of Fair Isle style socks I was working on? Well, they are on hold for a bit. My cousin took me to Armstrong to The Twisted Purl Yarn Studio so that I could add to my Jamieson & Smith yarn stash. I had run out of the colour I was using for the heels and toes. Black, I thought it was. But the yarn store had no black, only dark chocolate brown. <sigh> So I bought four or five balls of colours I would need for the next couple of pairs of Fair Isle style socks, ordered black and a couple of other colours to go with those and we went home. Where a niggling thought began to work on my mind. Could it be? I took the socks and held them under a very strong light and yes, it was true! The ‘black’ heels and toes were, in fact, dark chocolate brown. Now, Armstrong is close, but not so close that I was willing to ask for another ride to the yarn store. Especially as we would take the truck and gas prices have been going up. So I called the store and they kindly agreed to add a ball of dark chocolate brown to my order that was coming from Scotland. From Shetland, actually. And did I mention that I had ordered the new colours from Jamieson’s of Shetland. I’ve been wanting their yarn for a bit, but The Twisted Purl was out the day I first went there. And now they have some ladies wanting to try their hand at lace knitting and were putting in an order anyway, and so . . .  By the way, the J&S yarn is fine and I’ve been loving knitting with it. I’m switching because the company is part of The Wool Brokers. The fleece from Shetland is shipped to Yorkshire to be spun,  and I’ve read that it is mixed with fleece from other places, whereas the Jamieson’s spin their Shetland fleece right there on Shetland, unmixed with other fleeces. I’m quite excited to see my new yarn, which should be coming in soon. I’m not all that happy with choosing colours from a computer screen, as that isn’t always very true. So we’ll see. For socks, it will be fine, in any case. More on yarn in the mail in a bit.

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Same toe, further along.

I appear to be congenitally unable to do nothing and, as I can’t read much these days, I have begun my second pair of Fair Isle style socks. These are also toe-up, which I like very much, but I’m still not getting the joins along the sides quite right. The holes are a bit larger than I’d like. I may just stitch them up once the knitting is finished. I think when the next yarn order arrives I may try the Moebius toe-up cast-on. Back in Edmonton I knitted a Moebius scarf, so I do get the concept. This pair I began with more stitches in the initial cast-on, as I don’t really care for the wedge toe, at least not the look of it. The toes on the first pair do fit just fine, but I still prefer a more rounded toe. Just sayin’ . . .

Are you wondering about the other yarn shipment? Well, I’ll tell you . . . I’ve been invited to a good friend’s wedding next May and, of course, wondering what to wear. A dress, of course, and probably I’ll get some sandals, too. And then I came across this shawl, designed by Amy of Love Made My Home . . .  It is SO me! I fell in love and then, when I realized that Yarn Canada carries the same yarn Amy used, I went there and guess what> I not only ordered the two skeins the shawl requires, but I also ordered four balls of Kroy Sock Yarn, two in a lovely red and two in a colour called Clover Colours. I will be using my finest 2 mm double pointed needles, as I’ve read that using smaller needles and knitting tightly will result in socks that wear like iron. These two pairs should knit up faster, as I’m doing plain knitting for them, no patterning. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Above on the right are the two tuques I’ve been knitting for my RN sister’s two grandsons. Because my sister and I (and our siblings) are half Norwegian due to our mother’s parents both having been born in Norway, I chose a Norwegian pattern. The original was of a boy and girl holding hands, so I changed it to be two little boys. I’m calling it “Brotherly Love” as these two are very close, even at one and nearly four years old. But the top of the younger boy’s tuque didn’t decrease as expected, as you can tell from the picture on the left, although I did follow the pattern exactly. (goes to show you, doesn’t it?) So I will soon be frogging the crown and re-kitting it. After I finish the other tuque and make sure I have a decrease that works. frogging . . . not my favourite thing. Oh, well . . .

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On the left is part of the latest batch of cinnamon buns, before they went into the oven. I tweaked the recipe, of course, and used part whole wheat flour, along with some wheat germ for added nutrition and extra flavour.

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On the right is one of the pans after Cousin S added the slightly lemony glaze she makes so well.

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ON the right, the latest apple pie. I slice the apples; Cousin S makes thee pastry. She uses no sugar or cinnamon; she just adds a few tablespoons of cinnamon hearts as she puts the layers of apples into the shell, along with some cornstarch. The hearts were suggested by Cousin M to his Mum when ye was just a boy and it worked so well my Auntie never made apple pie the old way again. On the left is my serving.

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The last of the home-grown tomatoes. The cherry ones are already eaten up.

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I have been on a sort of muffin bender. Two weeks ago I made two dozen cornmeal muffins with some of our home-frozen corn in them, along with wheat germ and some whole wheat flour. I try to maximize nutrition whenever I can. I haven’t taken a photo of those yeat; the ones above are the second batch. Cousin S bought and cooked a lovely French variety pumpkin. She cooked it in the slow cooker and I mashed it once it was cool (she had gone to work by then) and put a couple of packages in the freezer. The rest I used to make the scrumptious muffins above.  I haven’t finished writing up my recipe, but will share it once it’s done. I had meant to put in some raisins and chopped walnuts, but became distracted half-way through by having to look for the new bag of cinnamon and then getting it into the tin. Still, we all agreed that these were the best so far. I’ll be making them again, with the nuts and raisins added next time.IMG_5353

My muffin efforts inspired Cousin S, who made these earlier today (well, earlier Sunday, really). They are Christmas Muffins, with molasses, candied peel, raisins, nuts and more. The recipe needs a little tweaking, but I’ll post it here once we’ve made it at least once more and finalized it.They were pretty good, though.

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The sum of Sunday’s Kitchen Creativity.

Left to right:  Christmas Muffins, Apple Pie, Egg Thingy (Frittata) and, in the slow cooker, the spaghetti (made with fusilli instead of spaghetti), which will be supper for the next five days. Some is packaged up for Cousin S to take with her to work.

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When I stayed with my last Auntie in Princeton earlier this summer, she loaned me some of her crochet books and patterns. I was very excited to see two patterns for Humpty Dumpty. One is for a toy that is made in separate pieces, each stuffed, and then set up on the edge of a shelf or table. When he falls off, he comes apart and the child then can re-assemble him.

That is not this one. This one is from the pattern my Auntie used over thirty years ago, when she heard that my RN sister J was expecting her first baby. That baby;s grandfather named the toy ‘Harvey’ and the little boy always slept with Harvey on one side and Pokey, a polar bear, on the other. My sister took very good care of handmade items and that boy, now in his early thirties, is the proud father of two wee boys of his own. Those are the two whose tuques I showed you near the beginning. My Auntie doesn’t follow patterns anymore, so I am making two of these Humptys, each with different colours for their shirts and stockings, as Christmas gifts to the boys from their Great-Auntie (me) and their Great-Great-Auntie. I am safe in posting about this, as to my knowledge, no one in my family reads this blog.

Well, that’s it, I think. It’s now after three in the morning on Monday and I really need to get some sleep. I haven’t been sleeping well, or at least often not through the night, so staying up may help.

 

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Some surplus pillowcases from the Dept of National Defence. More on this project later . . .

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Icicles outside my bedroom window a few days ago; Mount Ida as seen last Wednesday from Salmon Arm. This is close to the view we had of the mountain from our front yard, back when I was living here in my teens. Along the foot of it runs Foothill Road and that’s where the cemetery is where next year we will inter our parents’ ashes and those of one brother, with a memorial to another brother. Cousin M’s parents’ ashes are there already along with our paternal grandfather. We lived on Foothill Road when my RN sister J was a baby and I was seven; then later, when  I was twelve, we lived on Harbell Road which runs from the foot of it to where the last home stood, across the Trans-Canada Highway. A walmart stands where our garden and the neighbour’s home once stood and a dollar store occupies the space where the front lawn was, with the flowers and ornamental trees that were planted by my Mum. I love this view; it holds so many memories. I remember climbing on it with our Dad and the older brothers once, picking juniper berries and dad telling us how those were used to flavour gin. We trick and treated along Harbell Road for years and I would walk down to our former landlord’s place to buy eggs for Mum, taking the older siblings along and keeping them off the road by having them play leap frog and similar games. I know changes must come, but I do wish our home had been spared. I lived there for seven years, longer, I think, than in any other place ever. We moved at least once a year for most of my childhood and I moved often as an adult, too. The hosue was classified as a heritage house, with Arts and crafts details that I loved; I have no idea how walmart got permission to demolish the house. It was in good shape when I saw it last, just over ten years ago. Anyway, I like to remember.

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These are the Honeycrisp apples that we have been making into pie. They are good keepers, with a slightly waxy coat. Delicious flavour and very well named ‘crisp’. The tree was planted five years ago. Two years ago it had less than a half dozen fruits. Last year it had a couple of dozen apples on it. This year we took off over seventy-five pounds of apples. In the grocery store, Honeycrisp apples are already going for $1.99 a pound. So that tree produced over $150 with only a bit of watering and the picking to do. We would highly recommend this variety.

That’s it, my friends. I wish you all a week of good weather, good food, good friends and as much creativity as makes your heart sing. See you soon!  ~ Linne

 

Interesting Times . . .

Greetings, everyone!  I’ve been doing a lot of resting, napping and binge-watching series on netflix and I’m beginning to feel better and ready to begin focusing on plans for whatever is left of my life. Along with making plans and designing a daily routine that will take me beyond cocooning and into renewed creativity, I have spent time just thinking about world events and the like. Now that I’m in Tacoma for a while, the likely changes that will come to pass after 20 January have occupied my mind more than a little.

I remember as a child being told that an ancient Chinese Curse was: “May you live in interesting times”. As it turns out, this is an English saying and no-one has ever traced it back to China. But either way . . . I think we are now living in VERY interesting times. And, as usual, even if it’s too late to do much about what’s happening (and I’m not sure it is too late, at least for everythig), we always have the choice about how we respond to these times.

I’ve been catching up with various Villagers and was interested to see in a comment on one post that heroin sales have skyrocketed in Pennsylvania due to the lack of available work. So that’s one response, I guess. I also read that a city in Florida (Miami? I should have taken notes, eh?) is proposing to build up all of their roads so that the rising of the sea level over the next decades won’t affect them. Short-sighted, but maybe better than nothing. What do you think?

As I said, I have been thinking (one of my favourite things to do) about possible responses to current political situations and working out a strategy for dealing with the stress I feel about some of them. I’m focusing on creating a response that is healthy for me and for those around me, but that doesn’t sugar-coat the issues or just ignore them.

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So . . . what makes a tree grow and bloom? If we look at the naked stick that itis in mid-winter and decide to withhold sunshine, water and food until it gets it together and starts doing what it’s supposed to do, is it likely we will see leaves and blossoms and eventually fruit? Nope, not so much.

 

And when a baby begins learning to walk and falls down . . .first-steps

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. . . do we scold them? Tell them they are hopeless and don’t deserve to walk, let alone run? Do we ridicule, shame or punish them? Of course not. We know that nurture and love, along with some teaching, will work wonders as children grow and develop. The same is true for adults, too, isn’t it?

So I have decided that when a politician worries me or threatens to do dreadful things, the healthy response for me is to surround that person or persons with love and light; to bless them, even as I sign petitions, join boycotts, and so on. And that leaves me in a happier place. It will be interesting to see the results. One thing I know, this approach will leave me happier and healthier in the long run, for me at least.

Creativity

I have to confess that I haven’t done much creating for these past months. My considerable stashes of yarn, fabric, art paper, etc. are all in storage in Vernon, BC. I did bring my knitting needles, though, and some crochet hooks.I started teaching my friend J to knit. She had done some as a child, but needed a refresher course, so I threw her in at the deep end with a tubular scarf with a Scandinavian pattern created with two-stranded knitting. Most of it will be plain knitting, though, so that will be easier for her to manage. After all, it’s only two circular needles . . .

J has been ill for three weeks, but is now feeling better, so tomorrow we are going back toJo-Ann’s to purchase a crochet hook and some cotton yarn for her to use making dishcloths / bath scrubbies. We were there over three weeks ago and I found a lovely teal cotton remnant; tomorrow I’ll be looking for a complementary piece and some batting. Then I plan to get on with finally making a tea cosy using Kym’s directions: Tea cosy design. I’ve been talking about doing this for several years now, and it’s finally time to act!

I did bring my Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ with me, but haven’t gotten back to working on it, although while at my cousins’ in September and early October I did work on one sleeve so that they are now nearly at the same point in the design.

Christmas

The past few years I’ve done little to nothing for Christmas and this year will probably be similar. Christmas boxes are simply too expensive to ship anymore. More than fifteen years ago I sent a box to my older son’s family. It held a selection of home-made cookies (biscuits) that I used to make when the boys were young, plus a book for each grandchild and a small gift for each parent. The postage was over $50!  I felt they could have used the money more, so for a few Christmases I sent a money order. However, that never feels christmassy to me; I enjoy finding the perfect thing for each person, then wrapping each gift creatively and ecologically.

Some years I used brown paper for the gift wrap; some years it was white tissue paper. I used green and red yarn instead of ribbon and tucked in a small cluster of seasonal greens: cedar, holly, sometimes a cinnamon stick or two. Inexpensive and lovely, at least we thought so.

I was thinking the other day about the first Christmas I shared with my husband and two sons. We lived in a very old house in Victoria that hasd a bay window. We were able to find a tree that reached nearly to the ceiling, but the budget was tight. We could afford gifts for the boys or ornaments for the tree, but not both. Of course we opted for the gifts.

For ornaments, I got really creative. I ‘borrowed’ small squares of plywood that the boys used for building blocks, wrapped the in white tissue and tied them with red and green yarn to resemble tiny presents. I used some veriegated yarn; some red and white, some green and white, to crochet a couple of dozen wee stockings. Those were hung on the tree with co-ordinating loops of yarn. Tiny candy canes were shaped from red, green and white pipe cleaners and we found a few dozen of the real thing at a nbargain price; just two inches long, they fit in perfectly.

Inspired by my favourite childhood books, I popped bowls of popcorn and we began threading onto heavy cotton thread. I like to string three or five kernels, then one cranberry and repeat until I have a string about four feet long. We made so many of these that I lost count! Then I tied the ends together carefully as I hung them on the tree.

The only other bought ornaments were some strings of tiny white lights that were on sale shortly before Christmas Day and some tinfoil icicles, which I hung one by one from the popcorn strings, spacing them as carefully as I could. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to a Christmas tree.

The angel I made myself and I still think she was beautiful.

We used those decorations every year from then on, adding a few each time and they are in my storage unit now. I hope they have survived their long hibernation; if not I will simply have to make more.

Often I would wrap cookies in cellophane and hang them, too. The popcorn strings were left on the tree after the other bits were packed away and the tree was set up outside as a feast for the birds. This was always after the first week in January.  That, I’ll explain about in another post . . .  🙂

For some excellent Christmas baking and other recipes, and for more ideas for yuletide decorations, including a knit pattern for a wine box cover, check out Selma’s blog here: Eclectic Home & Life She lives in England, but hails from Norway and I love her traditional recipes. You may remember y post about making her Mocha Roulade for my Mum and myself on Mother’s Day in 2015. Light and scrumptious, it was the perfect dessert!

I hope you are all enjoying the run-up to Christmas, taking time to enjoy the music, colour, lights, etc. Do try not to stress. It’s a good time for gratitude and I have to say again that I am grateful for each one of you, my Virtual Village neighbours.

Here, to help keep you in the mood, is a set of Christmas songs by Sissel, one of Norway’s great singers: Christmas songs by Sissel

Some of you may be familiar with Newfoundland’s group Great Big Sea.Here are some of their Christmas songs: Great Big Sea Christmas songs

And what is a post from me without a song from Funrig?

Silent Night

These are by Bruce Guthro, lead singer for Runrig and a Canadian from Cape Breton Island:

Christmas songs by Bruce Guthro

And, again by Bruce, a video in the true spirit of Christmas, featuring footage from the Christmas Truce of 1914. Christmas at the Front, 1914

And finally, a mixed bag, beginning with one of my own favourites:

Let There Be Peace on Earth and more

 

 

a quick note and then the recipe for Feather Buns MMmmmmm . . .

Hello, my friends in  this Virtual Village . . . if you have emailed me and not seen a reply, don’t worry; I’ll be getting to them by later next week at the latest . . .

In the meantime: by popular request, here is the recipe for Feather Buns (and/or bread, of course). There’s nothing much more frugal and deliciously so, than baking your own bread. This is good enough to make me want an outdoor oven so I can enjoy it in summer, too . . . And if you have kids, let them help with the punching down (helps to oil the hands first, then make a fist and punch right in the middle. Great fun!). They can be given a bun-sized piece of dough to form, making a roll for themselves to enjoy later on. They might even want to shape one for Dad (or Mum) to have with their supper or tea. That’s how I learned . . . by the time I was making bread alone (about age 12), I’d been changing diapers for a couple of years, so I knew exactly what a baby’s bottom felt like. LOL That’s the best guide to achieving perfect texture and resiliency in bread dough. 😉

Our wee tins are a great size for a child to make a loaf of their own, too.

My older son was at a YMCA summer camp one year when he was about 10 years old and came back all enthused about having made bannock (a quickbread dough wrapped around green willow sticks and then baked over the coals from a campfire). So I asked if he’d like to learn to make bread. A hearty ‘yes!’, so I taught him, just as I was taught, and he made all our bread for a couple of years, ’til we moved back to the city.

I have this recipe courtesy of my friend Debbie (AKA Mrs. Crafty) and she got it from her mother, Shirley H., who passed away last year. (in case, like me, you put notes about provenance on your recipe cards for later when your memory is a bit sketchy) 🙂

I’ll put the ingredients at the end without the notes to make it easier to read. The notes on ingredients and procedure are mine, of course.

Feather Buns

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In a large heavy bowl (like our bread bowls, if possible, but use what you have) put

2 c. lukewarm water (I like to fill the bowl with hot water beforehand for a couple of minutes; it seems to help the yeast grow a bit quicker; especially if your room is a little cool.

add 4 tsp. sugar and mix,
then sprinkle 4 Tblsp. Yeast over it and let stand for 10 minutes.

Next, add:

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cup melted margarine (or use butter or your preferred oil)
3 eggs, beaten well

Mix thoroughly (I used our heavy wooden spoon for this).

Start adding 8 cups of flour (this recipe calls for white; I used about 4 cups whole wheat and the rest white, mostly ’cause I ran out of WW; if I’d had any wheat germ, I’d have thrown some of that in, too; ditto nutritional yeast. LOL);

Mix thoroughly to make a soft dough.

Then: fold in flour until the dough isn’t sticky. If you’re a Mum, it should feel like a baby’s bottom. If you’re not, use your best judgement and imagination . . . 🙂  )

Cover (I used a teatowel wetted thoroughly with hot water, then wrung out. The extra warmth is good, and the steam keeps the top of the dough from getting ‘crusty’.

Let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. Make sure your bowl is a large one, or else halve the recipe. Seriously . . .

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Punch the dough down and make loaves or buns (or both). Grease your pans before putting the dough in. I used margarine (cheaper than butter), but you can use oil or whatever works for you.

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When I made this, I had a dozen good-sized buns, three large loaves and two tiny ones which could have made an extra large loaf. I was guided by how many bread pans we have and also what would fit in the oven in two loads.

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Let rise in pans ’til double and then bake at 375° F (about 190.5° C) ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

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As mine wouldn’t all fit in the oven at once, I turned the oven on low just before I punched down the dough in the bowl. I put the buns (in our large rectangular casserole dish) and the two tiny loaves into the warmed oven to rise as above (I’d turned off the oven, of course, once it was warm, but not hot). I left the three large loaves on the counter where it was cooler and covered them with the teatowel, this time wetted with cold water and wrung out. This was to slow the rising of the second lot.

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Once the first batch were done, they were left on a rack to rest for a minute and the second lot were popped in to bake. Then I greased the tops of the first set with Mum’s pastry brush and margarine (again, use what you like or even leave plain for a crustier finish), then turned them out to cool.

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When the second lot were baked, same thing: let rest a few minutes, then butter (or oil) and turn out of the pan to cool. If you leave them in the pans, they tend to ‘sweat’ a bit and this can lead to them moulding earlier than usual. Not nice . . .

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Ok, here’s the straight ingredient list, in order of adding:

2 cups lukewarm water
4 tsp. sugar
4 Tblsp. yeast
Let sit for 10 minutes (the yeast should be foamy)

________________

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cups melted margarine
3 eggs, well beaten

Mix thoroughly, then add:

___________________________

8 cups flour. Mix well, then
add more flour to make a non-sticky dough.
Cover and let rise to double in size.

Pre-heat oven to 375° F or 190° C.

Grease pans.
Punch down dough.
Form rolls and/or loaves.
Let rise in pans.

Bake  ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

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Make your favourite hot drink. Tea is especially nice with this, though.

Ignore the old wives’ tales about not eating hot bread (designed to keep kids out of the fresh bread so there would be some for dinner 😉  ); punch a hole in the side of a bun or slice off a good bit of heel from one of the loaves. Slather with butter and then home-made jam (store-bought if you must . . .).

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Enjoy.  I insist!  🙂

And here’s a great bolshie song by a wonderful bolshie song-writer and singer, Malvina Reynolds. Have a listen while you enjoy the fruits of your labours . . . I don’t think Malvina wrote this one, though. That’s Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger on Pete’s tv show, ‘Rainbow Quest’ singing and playing along with her . . .

The Little Red Hen

Not much new here… but after feeding you all that heavy stuff…

I thought it was time for something lighter and more nutritious . . .

Mum’s been reading in the kitchen all day, so I haven’t wanted to do the dyeing yet. I don’t know if the fumes are toxic or not, but would rather err on the side of caution. So I’ve been on the computer most of the afternoon instead of going out to the store. It’s supposed to warm up to -11C tomorrow, so I’ll go out then. We are nearly out of bread and I’m a bit anxious about using the bread machine after my last fiasco . . . I thought at first I’d make some biscuits, but when Mum didn’t want any, I made this instead and was quite impressed that it turned out . . . PERFECT!!  I love this brown rice (Lundberg’s Brown Basmati), but sometimes it’s had a bit too much water left at the end of the cooking; then I have to cook it some more and wait for it to dry off a bit; somehow it always seems a bit gummy after that (not like that stops me eating it!)  😉

By thee way, the Lundberg family pioneered growing organic rice in the States. They were far ahead of their times.

Four Lundberg Brothers

These are the four Lundberg brothers, Outstanding in Their Field!

But tonight it was everything I wanted; dry, fluffy, slightly chewy but not too much, and just that bit aromatic . . . so I had a bowl with butter, garlic powder and soya sauce while I waited  for the other dish to cook. You know, I think a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid is a great part of the secret . . . and using the correct burner on the stove (I think a couple are a bit old and not heating to the proper temperature when left on the ‘lowest’ setting.

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Now this is what I really started to tell you about (but the amazing rice distracted me):

What was it, you say? Well . . . I’m calling it ‘Mish-Mash’. When my kids were young and at home, I made soup from leftovers and whatever was in the cupboard on a regular basis. I called that soup ‘Cupboard Soup’. I thought this was going to be more like that, but it wasn’t. And it, too, is PERFECT! How unlike me . . .

I found ‘pork bones’ at the grocery the other day – a package for $1.22 and it looked like a fair bit of meat on them, too. Now, I didn’t eat much (or any, sometimes) meat for many years and the only pork I ate for longer than that was bacon as a treat at Christmas. But this was a frugal deal not to pass up.

I dredged the bones in flour with salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic salt in a used bread bag, then  dropped them in my old heavy pot where waiting for them was bacon fat from my breakfast yesterday and as much olive oil, too. I browned them while I chopped half an onion fairly small along with the end of a stalk of celery plus some celery leaves from the new stalk. those were tipped in and stirred around, then I added enough cold water to come a third of the way up the pot, brought it to a boil and let it simmer for several hours. Then it was let to cool and popped into the fridge.

This afternoon I got it out, started it heating and sliced three carrots, unpeeled (I only peel stuff that has skin too hard to eat, like winter squash). After those were added, more water went in, then a cup of the green split peas left over from making the Risi e Bisi. Brought to a boil again, I tasted it, then added a dollop of soya sauce, turned the heat to half-way and left it to simmer away while the rice cooked. After I ate my bowl of rice, I chopped a quarter head of cabbage into squares about an inch or less on each side (no, I didn’t measure them! Really!! But I knew you’d ask . . .)

Since the rice was done, I used that pot’s lid to cover the big pot. Not a perfect fit, so of course some dripping onto the stove top ensued, but hey . . . at least I can improvise as needed. I have a lid somewhere for that pot (it was our soup and popcorn pot lo, these many aeons ago), but have no idea if it’s here in Edmonton at the apartment, in storage here or in storage in BC. Oh, the life of a Gypsy Collector . . .

Anyway, back to the FeedReader and commenting near and far . . . I had the timer going, luckily or I’m sure I’d have had burnt whatever for supper. 😉

What I DID have was this:

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A bit more butter (I filled up the round butter container and this time cut off the corners to make an octagonal shape that wouldn’t smear at the corners, then get on the lid; well, I had to do something with those bits, didn’t I? A shake of salt and pepper, more garlic salt and cayenne, a sprinkle of soya sauce and back to the computer, where the Mish-Mash distracted me mightily from the screen. I think this would be just as good without the meat, if one was vegetarian or vegan (you couldn’t add the butter, then, either). Maybe I’ll try that another time. For now, it was just right for this slightly cool evening (indoors, I mean).

Before I post, I wanted to say that I was sad to hear that Shirley Temple died yesterday evening (10 February) at her home. She was 85. It seemed so strange, hearing that on the news tonight when I was watching ‘Heidi’ only a few days ago with my crafty friend. It’s one of the few films I feel lives up to the original book. I haven’t seen her in ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ yet, but now I see that’s on YouTube, too. Also ‘The Little Princess’ . . . nice to have something to anticipate, right?  🙂

If you haven’t seen it, and like old films (this one’s from ’37), it’s on YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPaNtPbeuWQ  This is the colourized version. It may be posted in the original, too; I didn’t look for it yet. What I love most, I think, is the Grandfather’s hut in the Alps. I’d give a lot for a home like that . . . goats and all.

ShirleyTemple 03 Grandfathers Hut

See what I mean? I want this near the sea, with an orchard and a garden like Narf7‘s.

ShirleyTemple 01

Not sure where this one is from, but I think it’s so cute . . .

ShirleyTemple 02

Heidi and The Grandfather

A different sort of Happy Mail . . . and what’s been up with me (sort of) ;-)

IMG_4995[1]There will be more about this quite soon! Nope, I haven’t opened it yet, either . . .

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We’ve had a lot of this again over the past few days . . . yesterday down to near -28C with the wind and today it was about -24C (with wind); it sure felt colder than that today, though. I was out today doing a library run (no coffee, though; I’ve decided to tighten my budget a bit and put the savings into my Sealed Pot (if you are interested, see my page with a link to the challenge) and then straight to the grocery store to stock up a bit. I must be feeling the cold a bit; I was easily tempted to buy green split peas and my favourite rice (Lundberg’s Brown Basmati) as well as a fairly large bag of navy beans. The split peas and rice will become a hearty and warming dish of Risi-e-Bisi, which I first learned to make from the original Laurel’s Kitchen; still one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks. Our whole family loved this one. The link takes you to a recipe for it that is online; it seems to be the one I’ve used for years. My Laurel’s Kitchen is here somewhere, but I don’t have time to search for it tonight. This dish, by the way, is just as good served cold, especially with soy or tamari sauce. Yum!

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I was not on the computer much today or yesterday and no, I did not do much of my longer than arm’s length list . . . I had fun, though! My crafty friend picked me up in the morning yesterday. We hit the grocery store for a couple of things for my Mum and also ingredients for supper at their place. Then a trip to the Re-Use-It Centre. I know, I know . . . I do have a few crafty items here and there . . . 😉  but how could I resist? I don’t have photos of my finds for you just now (I’m on a sort of mission); maybe in a couple of days. I found a not-special dictionary that I won’t mind cutting up so I can use the words on my Day Cards that I’m so sadly behind on. I revere books, if you hadn’t guessed by now, and I don’t write in them or cut them up . . . but this one is fairly new, so I think I can do it. 😉  I found other things there, too. But I was quite restrained (I thought) and did not go down any of the main aisles; a quick jaunt to the back where I found five pieces of cut cedar ready to paint; another detour into the books and ornaments (where I found two TWO!! glass chimneys for kerosene lamps – I like to have extras on hand; sometimes they get broken). A very fast scan through the fabrics, too, while my friend not only found things for her, but also two bags of stuffing for me. She also found a huge amount of basket making supplies, which I heroically refrained from drooling upon . . . my Mum and I both make baskets. But fair is fair . . .  I forgot to mention that I dropped off two bags of books before I went in, so I came out with three bags, leaving me having gained only one bag. I love creative math, don’t you too? This was followed by a trip to the Handy Bakery, a sweet little Portuguese bakery with special coffees and tables to sit and visit at. We didn’t, though. I bought some dessert for our supper and a couple of pieces of fresh pizza for my lunch, also a loaf of bread and some more desserts from the day-old section. More Yum!!  😉 Then it was home to my crafty friends’ place. The photo above is the path from their back alley to the patio and the back door. Nice heaps of white stuff, eh?

Inside, I found she had been very busy since I last saw her:

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I hope you can see the details of this table top: my friend painstakingly glued dozens of old keys in place, then poured several coats of rosin over the surface. It’s just lovely!

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Above are pictures of Jenny. Do you remember the pictures I shared of Jed, last autumn, I think? If not, no worries; I’ve included more photos of him below. Jenny is handmade down to her sweet little Mary Jane shoes and her hat with a couple of wild autumn weeds in the band. There are several Jennys and each is unique in expression and some of the detailing. Below is one of the Jeds:

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Aren’t those ears darling? And the freckles . . .

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My friend made Jed’s boots, too, including putting in the grommets for the laces.

Here’s a picture of one of the happy couples:

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The Gentleman Bunny is a work in progress. My friend was making the sage green velveteen vest while we visited. I’ll share more photos of him once he is complete.

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I love his big feet (they remind me of Hobbit feet) and, of course, his gorgeous ears . . .

While my friend stitched and I continued stitching along the front steek of my barn cardi, we watched three movies: the original ‘Heidi’, a life-long favourite, partly for the story and partly for the incredible log hut the Grandfather lives in, high on a Swiss mountainside.

This was followed by ‘Night of the Grizzly’, I think it was, a sort of western from ’66. then came ‘Severed’ . . . about which I won’t say much. Suffice to say it has loggers, hippie protesters and zombies . . .  😉

That’s all for now, folks . . . I have to open that box tomorrow quick smart and get going on the mystery project. Wish me luck, won’t you? If all goes well, there should be pictures and an explanation in a couple of days or so. I will leave you with two more photos: the first is a detail of a fern on our sliding glass doors to the balcony. The fern is courtesy of Jack Frost, whose work is amazing in its artistry and detail.

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This last photo is the walk at the front of my crafty friends’ house. Pretty, I think.

Have a great weekend, my friends and stay warm or cool as needed.  😉

If you want a cute craft to do over the holidays . . .

http://getting-stitched-on-the-farm.blogspot.ca/2013/12/holiday-birch-house-tutorial.html

These wee birchbark houses are sooooo cute! Sounds like some people are making them with their kids or grandkids. If you don’t have birch where you live, what about other types of bark or even leathery leaves? If you use lichen or moss, using a strong hairspray (like the old ‘helmet hold’ stuff) will help keep the house from dropping bits all over. I’m thinking these would be cute outdoors, too, maybe with some protection from the elements . . .

Off to get stuff done now. ~ Linne