Ok, enough waffling around . . . here’s the Big Reveal!! My plans for 2018!

2018 GoalsWell, my friends, you are about to learn a wee bit more about me and I warn you now, you may end up thinking I’ve gone entirely barmy! Or was that way from the beginning . . . Fasten your seatbelts and hang on!

Note: This is the (slightly) shorter version of my story; I did write it out in long form, but will post that to Thought & Memory later on. If you are like me and want to know the background, you will be able to  go and have a long read. I’ll tell you when.

A lot has been happening in my life, but I didn’t want to post until I was really sure of most of it. But the time has come . . .

cat weddng invite 01Last spring, after I returned to stay with my cousins again, I received a wedding invitation for May of this year from a friend, Gen, who worked with me at Lewiscraft in Edmonton back around 2003 or 2004. This is not the actual invitation, but there is a cat theme!

dont wait 01Then I began thinking about really going and wondering what I might add onto the trip if I did, to make the cost and all worth it. And I found an excellent reason and here’s the story:

More on my friend: Gen, who has been my friend since we worked together at Lewiscraft in the early 2000s, wanted to do stand-up comedy (she had us in stitches on a regular basis and once on the bus a lady missed her stop because she was listening to us, mostly Gen, and laughing ’til the tears ran down her cheeks!) Anyway, the  Edmonton audiences weren’t the best for Gen; her family came from England and her humour is more their sort. So, not too long after Lewiscraft closed, Gen moved to London. That’s England, not Ontario!  And then she moved to Edinburgh, where she not only does some stand-up but also started her own business as a photographer. And met a really nice man who loves and appreciates her as she so deserves.

Still, you can see why I was waffling about going, can’t you? I haven’t won the lottery (yet). But I have enough Air Miles to get to Europe and back once. Not enough to get to Australia or New Zealand, sadly, although I should have had. I’ve been collecting for decades, dreaming of travel once I felt free to do so.

I began, as I said, looking at things I might do while overseas in order to take advantage of my One Big Chance. (well, that was my thinking at the time; more on the shift in my thinking in a while). I knew I would love to visit Shetland to see the mill where Jamieson’s of Shetland creates their fabulous yarns. And Fair Isle, where the wonderful patterns I love first were designed. And . . . so I started a sort of ‘bucket list’. Any idea what else went on that list?

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Runrig in Bremen

You bet . . . Runrig! Their music has helped me get through the past couple of decades in ways I find hard to explain. I do listen to a wide variety of genres, artists, groups, etc., and always have done. But when the going got tough, it was Runrig I turned to, every time. This song (the first one, An Sabhal Aig Neill, or Neill’s Barn) was my alarm tune those last five weeks when I was staying at the hospital with Mum. It’s still my alarm tune 🙂 It was good to wake up to something up-beat (pun intended) when I was up every two to three hours in the night. You wouldn’t think it, but I have only good feelings when I hear this; it was the soundtrack to all the nights of my last weeks with my mother. And other songs by Runrig make up the rest of that soundtrack. And their music was what kept me going since then. So, on 26 September I checked to see where they might  be playing in 2018; seeing them live has always been on my list, but I honestly never thought it would happen. Still, I’m a dreamer . . . and I’m sure you can imagine my feelings that day when I read this:

 

On the 26th of September 2017 Runrig announced that after 45 years they would be “pulling the curtain down” on their music careers.

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As Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way. I had “Jump . . . and the Net will appear . . .” on my business cards when I was doing contract work from home a few years ago.

Well, that did it! I sat up until 2 am in the morning of the 29th (which was 10 am in the UK), cursor poised over the button that said “tickets on sale soon”, eyes on the digital clock counting down to when the sale would begin. When the clock hit zero, I clicked the button! I didn’t wait for the text to change or anything. Then I ended up in a queue for over six minutes and finally I was in and purchasing my ticket!!! I found out later that 25,000 tickets sold out in under ten minutes.

So I don’t have a seat; I have what is called a ‘standing / camping’ ticket. Awesome, eh? A second concert was added, this on the Friday night, and those tickets sold out in under six hours. My concert is on the Saturday night. The gates open at 8 am on the 17th of August for those of us who are camping.

TLD poster 01Then there is a Ceilidh that evening. I’m sure there is going to be some awesome Scottish musicians there, too. (Runrig will be performing at the additional concert that night) So, I get to camp out that night (not sure how much sleep I’ll get, though lol), do as I wish the next day, and that evening I get to see Runrig! Live!!! And by the way, if you are a fan of amazing lead guitar work, listen to Skye and imagine me getting to hear it live!

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Stirling City Park – an earlier Runrig concert

So now I have well and truly jumped! I still can hardly believe that I actually got a ticket! What were the odds?

As well as Runrig to see, there is Yarndale in Skipton, Yorkshire at the end of September. After music, all things woolly make my heart sing! I don’t have a ticket to Yarndale yet, but soon . . .

Alba GLA 01

Glasgow!

Gratitude Attitude 05.jpgI do have my air fare to Glasgow on the 13th of May . . . the wedding is on the 18th. And I did that on my own, no help from Air Miles.  I was a bit grumpy about that at the time, too, but I’m working on having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ instead of being grumpy when things don’t go my way.

Canadian PassportsI haven’t booked a hostel yet, either. First things first. Like a passport. 🙂 I will be sending the papers in next week. It took a while to get things organized. We were in Vernon and I got the required photos and not too convict-looking, either.  🙂

Then I had to send the papers to Victoria to a friend to sign and all that. In spite of the Christmas mail rush, all was done in a most timely manner.

My friend in Tacoma gave me a suitcase when I left there, as I had somehow accumulated more yarn and fabric over the winter months. Not sure how that happened . . . 😛 The suitcase has already been to England and I feel it wants to go back for another visit. I’ll take a photo of it and share in another post.

jump 02There’s more to this epic pilgrimage, though. After Mum died, I was in an odd state of being; not crying or anything, just sort of disconnected in a strange way. I’ve done some serious thinking about what to do with whatever time remains to me and after a while of simply resting and recuperating (and binge-watching Netflix), I realized that there is time remaining, no matter how short or long and that my parents wouldn’t thank me to stay mired in that sad fugue state. No, I had to find a way to move forward. But sometimes, a way forward doesn’t appear immediately.

I’ve been here before, though, so I sort of knew what I needed to do. Sort of. I began in my own way. I had been knitting and crocheting since early in the year, which helped more than I’d expected. I really need to create! Through the summer I played with my mini-gardens and got back to basics by helping with the preserving and all. And I started blogging again, slowly at first, then picking up the pace in December.

Now, I’m sure many of you have heard of a book and movie called “The Secret”. I’ve had some interesting experiences using some of the concepts. I’ve shared a couple of those stories, but not all of them. I began reading an e-book called “Playing the Matrix” by Mike Dooley, who sends out inspirational messages called ‘Notes from the Universe’. Playing the Matrix has helped me get back on my figurative horse and start moving forward again. So when I heard of Mike’s new course, called “Love Your Life in 30 days”, I signed up for that, too. In two weeks, I’ve gone from feeling very ‘stuck’ to suddenly having many ideas about where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. And I don’t mean Scotland and WestJet!  🙂

Alba WJ 01

The only downside to this course is that facebook, in it’s ‘wisdom’ has insisted on sending me notifications whenever anyone in the group posts. It took me a while to learn the solution. So if you have emailed me this month and not had a response, I do apologize, I shall continue to delete the unwanted mail as often as time permits.  [Update: I finally got those turned off, but still have plenty of deleting ahead of me]

But, now that I’m on this roll, I’m actually rather busy. Today I made eggnog muffins, also scones, in addition to emptying the closet and the suitcase and organizing the first and sorting through the contents of the other.

fearless dreamer fabric

Fearless Dreamer!

Last spring I also joined a group called “Stitch Upon a Time” it’s a stitching group that mainly uses patterns from the SUAT website. These are designed for cotton fabrics with at least 5% lycra (spandex). People are making their own underwear, as well as dresses and more. Some great kid’s patterns, too. Before I knew I was going away, I bought several patterns from them, as cousin S has a sewing machine and a serger and I will be able to use them. I have fabric, too. Including some stretch fabric with a Disney design on it: Fearless Dreamer! Just what I needed. I have some jade co-ordinating fabric for the exterior of the top, too. If any of you sew and are looking for a great supplier of this sort of fabric, I can highly recommend Purple Seamstress Fabrics.  Great service and prices. Mel is awesome!


gold 500For now, I have knitting to finish as well as the ornaments to make for my lovely winners. I have decided what to send to some of you and I have most of the bits assembled. I’m giving myself a month to get those done.

Well,it’s late (again!) and I shall save some of what’s going on for me for another day,. Wherever you are, I wish you a wonderful day. If you are facing challenges, know that you are not alone; this Village is always there for you.

Passing on the Light 01

Spreading Love and Light . . . that’s what we do!

As for music . . .

If you have housework to do and want some upbeat sounds, here’s 40 minutes of highlights from Runrig’s Party on the Moor.

. . . or how about my favourite Great Big Sea & The Chieftains  video? Love this and it makes me laugh every time.  Lukey’s Boat makes you want to dance!

A great mix of some of The Corries‘ best work.

Figgy Duff singing Henry Martin, another old favourite of mine.

and Pentangle performing Willy o Winsbury with Jacqui Mcshee’s lovely voice.

My favourite of Stan Rogers’ work: Northwest Passage

From Runrig’s 30th Anniversary Concert: An Faileas Air An Airigh

Another upbeat song: Celtic Thunder’s “All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir

I hope your week is going well. See you here soon! Love and Light to you all.  ~ Linne

 

 

 

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Cornmeal Muffins . . . and Music :-)

For this week’s suppers, the cousins made a fantastic stew with umpteen vegetables and we are adding fresh steamed veggies as well on the side.  Not to mention thins like green onions and small home-made dill pickles. Mmmm . . . . . . . could there be anything more appetising? Apparently, the answer to that is ‘yes’.

Muffins!

The first night (Tuesday), they mentioned cornmeal muffins simultaneously. I had made some a month or so ago to accompany the chili that was on that week’s menu). Turned out, there had been a sighting of said muffins in the freezer; it only took a few minutes and the microwave and we were all enjoying one with our meal.

There were only six in the freezer, but there are plenty of bags of home-frozen corn kernels and it didn’t take me long to volunteer! I planned to have them come out of the oven just in time for the meal, but my timing was off. I had not allowed for the fact that I might not be able to find all the other ingredients quickly. Around here, things are kept in identical containers (several types, though) with labels on. I am primarily visual and although in my own kitchen I prefer to use containers, they often have an identifying quality and are always kept in the same location. Around here, things ‘migrate’ from time to time to allow room for new supplies, etc.  so, after opening a multitude of containers and not finding all my ingredients, I sought help.

ASK for help 01

Problem solved! I used cousin S’s wonderful Muffin cookbook, but, of course, I tweaked the heck out of the recipe! I like to maximize nutrition and my thinking is that if people enjoy their food, then they will eat it, so the nutrition goes where it’s meant to go. In case you might like to try this,here it is:

Linne’s Cornmeal Muffins

Single Recipe – makes 12 large muffins Double Recipe – makes 24 large muffins
Dry Mixture

¾ c white flour

¾ c whole wheat flour

½ c wheat germ

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

¼ – ½ tsp salt

Dry Mixture

1 ½ c white flour

1 ½ c whole wheat flour

1 c wheat germ

3 tsp baking powder

3 tsp baking soda

½ – 1 tsp salt

Moist Mixture

1 c cornmeal

½ c powdered milk

1 ¼ c water

 

1/3 c vegetable oil

2 – 3 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 large egg

 

1 c corn kernels, fresh, thawed or canned

Moist Mixture

2 c cornmeal

1 c powdered milk

2 ½ c water

 

2/3 c vegetable oil

4 – 6 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 large eggs

 

2 c corn kernels, fresh, thawed or canned

Method

Assemble ingredients. Prepare the muffin tins (I grease lightly with non-hydrogenated margarine).

.Mix cornmeal and powdered milk together well in a smaller / medium mixing bowl.

Add water and mix well. Leave cornmeal to soak.

Combine the Dry Ingredients in a medium / large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre.

Set the oven to 4000 F. (This gives you time to make the batter without having it stand too long. And it saves power, as the oven won’t be on for too long while empty)

Beat the egg/s in a 1 c measuring cup. Add the lemon juice and beat again.

Add the egg & lemon mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir well.

Measure the oil in the same cup. Add to the cornmeal mixture and mix well.

Measure the sugar in the same cup. Add to the cornmeal mixture and mix well.

Pour the Moist Mixture into the well in the Dry Mixture and stir in gently.

Note: Do not over-mix!

Add the corn kernels (if using) and fold in gently.

Use a large serving spoon to fill the muffin pan/s, dividing the batter evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes and test with a toothpick or knife blade. If it comes out dry, they are done. If not, bake for another 5 – 7 minutes. Test again. The muffins should be light golden and the tops springy to the touch.

Options:

When I make this sort of savoury muffin for my family or just for myself, I also like to add from one to three tablespoons of nutritional yeast, Engevita, for example. Women in my family tend to be Vitamin B deficient, but not me . . .

You can cut the sugar further; I will use only two tablespoons in the larger recipe next time. I cut the amount almost in half from the original, but it’s still too much.

If you have honey, that would work instead of the sugar. I’d make sure it was quite runny by heating it and then add it to the wet mixture.

You can substitute liquid milk for the powdered milk and water; I find the powdered is often cheaper and it’s easy to have on hand.

Yoghurt makes a good substitute, too, for the powdered milk and water, but you may need to add some water if your batter is too dry.

Instead of corn kernels, grate some cheese and add to the dry mixture. I like to add a bit at a time, sprinkling it as I stir, thus making sure the cheese doesn’t clump together. These are wonderful for breakfast with a bit of jam or for lunch with a salad. I made some once with a good cheddar cheese and we ate it with jalapeno jelly, which was an amazing combination.

Instead of corn kernels, add a cup of dark raisins. I like to soak them for a few minutes in very hot water, dry them on a towel, then add them to the dry mixture.

With either the cheese or corn kernel options, you can add finely chopped sausage or ham or bacon. Veggie versions of these work just as well.

I had an extra one before retiring to my room this evening, and I had it with the special cherry jam I made just for Christmas. And then we forgot to open it that day.

I forgot to take photos of the  muffins, except for the final treat, so these pictures will have to do. Trust me, this recipe turns out wonderfully delicious!

By the way, the Christmas Cherry Jam was not made with our own cherries, but with Lapins that I bought at the local organic market in early July. They were the closest I could find  to the Bings of my childhood, which I love dearly. My Auntie M used to make her cherry jam from Bings and I wanted to make some for her that was as close as possible to her own recipe. She told me her secret ingredient was lemon juice, but nowadays the recipes all seem to call for that, so I guess the secret is out!

I took her a small jar marked for Christmas back in July and reminded her to open it in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. She loved it!

 

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A bit of inspiration for you!

And, in case you are feeling musically deprived, LOL,

Life Is . . . by Runrig (of course) from a concert in Bonn in 1999, shortly after their lead singer left to enter politics and was replaced by a Canadian!!! Bruce Guthro, from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This is an emotional song, so, as an antidote . . .

Maymorning, also by Runrig. This is from their 40th anniversary concert in August 2013, Party on the Moor, held at Muir of Ord near Inverness in Scotland. There’s a cute surprise at 6.30, too. And I there isn’t praise high enough for Malcolm Jones’ lead guitar, in my not-so-humble-opinion.

and I don’t think I’ve shared this before: The Ghost of Tom Joad, sung by Elvis Costello and Mumford & Sons. Although I like Mumford & Sons a lot, it’s still the only song I’ve heard by Elvis Costello. {the notes say: Bruce Springsteen titled the song after the main character from John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. He hoped the song would personify or represent the voices of the hopeless, disenfranchised, and invisible as the book was said to do in the 1930s.}

I guess I’d best share something happier, too, eh? How about this?

That Old Time Religion by Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie (son of Woody Guthrie). This is not what you probably expect (unless you are familiar with Pete’s music).

and this caught my ear, too . . . Precious Friend, also by Pete Seeger.

I have found, in my few years in this Virtual Village, that you are all Precious Friends to one another. It gives me hope . . .

Dream another Dream

And here is Pete Seeger again, singing another favourite, The Garden Song, and ‘garden’, in this case, is a metaphor for many things. So I add it for all of you, who, in your own ways, work ‘inch by inch’ to effect change in this world that needs it so much. Gardening, knitting, yarnbombing, cooking & baking, writing, painting, singing, dreaming, protesting, thinking, sharing your thoughts, your actions and your words in so many ways that words fail me . . .

Pete Seeger banjo 01If you don’t listen to the whole thing, at least listen to Pete’s introduction. So true . . . I also love that his banjo had on it these words:

Much Love and even more Light to each of you. Stay warm, eh?

Unless, of course, you live on the downside . . . can I send anyone a bit of this?

Hugs to you all.  ~ Linne

p.s. While getting this ready to publish, the music was still playing and this came on: This is for all of you, as you do what you can to make this a better world:

Garbage by Pete Seeger. Here’s to a better world in 2018!

 

 

 

Happy New Year, my friends!

For some of you I know the first day has come and gone and it’s business as usual again. but I am still up and it’s not yet midnight on the first, so I’m sort of still on time.

I hope you all had a good Christmas; it’s different for everyone and it’s different every year, but still . . .

IMG_5930Our tree, an artificial one, which the cousins bought two years ago after Spooky had moved in. A real tree would prove too much temptation, was the idea. This year the tree was not on the dining table, but next to the tv. It went up on Christmas morning and was put away at the end of Boxing Day, after Spooky had managed to get up and knock off one of the ornaments and was looking seriously like he wanted to climb the tree.

Below is a very poor shot of the table decoration cousin M made by putting a string of faery lights inside a huge ;brandy snifter’ made of  strawberry glass. It’s so lovely, but the photo doesn’t do it justice., really.IMG_5924

Our Christmas was good; quiet, but the usual feast. I found stockings at a dollar store and used them as ‘carriers’ for a couple of small gifts for the cousins (and myself), including a chocolate ‘orange’ in the toe.

And the cat instructed me to wrap and deliver three packages of nuts to ‘the staff’ as he likes to think of us.

IMG_5925

The Lord and Master of the House

We also had more of this between Christmas and New Year’s Eve:

And I received this as a sort of joke gift, but I really like it:

It’s an alarm clock with two features I need: (a) the sound changes every few seconds, becoming more and more insistent and (b) if set correctly, it will roll off the table and ‘run away’ if you don’t shut it off promptly . . . and ‘hide’. Of course I don’t use the ‘run away and hide’ option! I shot a couple of short videos of it ‘running’ but can’t share them here. Too bad. 🙂

I don’t know if anyone will remember when I was on a basket-making binge early in the summer, but I finally dug out the largest one; it’s meant to be a workbasket so I can take my projects with me in the car and not have the needles poking through the plastic (and the annoying rustle of plastic bags). Besides, I’m working away from using plastic whenever possible. Anyway, the large photo is of the basket body and the other two are the straps, which will cross over the centre of the bottom and be held in place by a third piece (not shown ’cause I forgot to take a photo). They will let me carry the bag slung over one shoulder.

I haven’t finished stitching on the handles yet, but am telling you to increase the ‘guilt factor’ I’m SO good at beginning things, not so good at the final steps.

And in the meantime, I had another “great idea” I thought I’d make some popcorn and cranberry strings, but quickly realized I didn’t have enough time and there was nowhere to hang them. So the idea morphed into just feeding the birds . . . with bird balls.  So I popped a LOT of popcorn, added both bags of cranberries and melted a pound of lard and poured it over the lot. Mixed it will by hand, then realized it wasn’t going to form nice tidy balls, so I packed it firmly into my spare yoghurt containers, with the string in the middle (see the photo of the strings). WE shall put them in a box on the back porch tomorrow to freeze, then decant them one at a time into a mesh bag to be hung in one of the trees. I only hope the birds like them, as cousin M is not enthralled with the idea. He has read up on bird feeding and has his own ways. I, on the other hand, leapt before I looked, as they say. Oh, well, as I say . . .

They do look rather pretty, though, don’t they? We have been feasting, too, did I mention that? I was too slow to get a photo of the bird and the side dishes. But I did take pictures of the baking . . .

The first three pictures are the shortbread I made on the 31st. I had another bright idea, this one a success: I melted two squares of unsweetened dark baking chocolate and the same amount of semi-sweet; this in a mug. I had to add a bit of milk to make it soft enough to dip the shortbread into. In the end, cousin S simply used a table knife and frosted them while I phoned my Auntie. She made the cute face on a couple, too; only this one remained by the time I had the camera out. 🙂 The next picture and the last two are of the same ‘tart’ in the old-fashioned sense. In it are some of the last of the Macintosh apples from the tree here. There is one more tart in our future, I think and then we shall have to resort to frozen cherries, also from our tree. It’s a hard life we lead here, believe me. 🙂  The remaining two pictures are of some of the butter tarts I made from a recipe my sister J sent to us. I like it best of all I’ve ever eaten. These are the first I’ve made and it was surprisingly easy.  It’s a pity I’m giving up sugar on the 8th, isn’t it?  but I know I’ll be healthier and my food won;t ‘go to waist’ as much in future.

Cousin M loves old things as much as I do, although his are less of a sentimental nature and more of an investment. Still . . . I thought I’d share these photos of a lamp with cast iron work that dates to the 1880s. I’m sorry the pictures are poor; my camera phone is an old one and not the clearest or best for photography. Its reservoir is also strawberry glass, more lovely than you can tell here, even with the light behind it.

I have pretty much finished one side of the pocket scarf but can’t remember if I shared this photo or not. The other two pictures are of the knitted tea cosy, which I have been stitching up the sides. I won’t finish that, as I want it to fit the teapot my sister has; it used to belong to my Aunty in Edmonton and, since I have her wee coffee percolator, I wanted my sister to have the teapot. she prefers tea and I mostly drink coffee.  Or at least I used to. I don’t know if you can tell, but the cosy is of green cotton like the yarn used for dishcloths. I took a close-up to show you the stitching; it makes ridges down the sides.

We had to go to Vernon just after Christmas and the cousins needed to stop off in Armstrong on the way back. The landscape pictures show how misty it was that day.

They dropped me at my LYS and I was so careful watching my step as I entered that I missed the sign on the door saying they were closed for inventory until the New Year.  However, they recognized me and remembered that I was not local, so offered to let me buy the yarn I had on hold. I was waiting for an order to come from Scotland, but that may take more weeks, and, as I was in the neighbourhood . . . so now I have the dark chocolate brown I need to complete the pair of Fair Isle style socks, if you remember.

. . . and two balls of green, dark and light, which I had meant for a pair of rather special socks. I’m now deciding if I still want to do that or if I’d rather have a nice waistcoat to keep me warm.  I do like the paper bags they pack the yarn in, don’t you?

I’ll stop here. I’ll need more to write about in a few days. I haven’t finished the post I’d intended for today, nor the Big News post, so you shall just have to keep on Anticipating.

And for those of you on the other side of the equator, here’s what I woke up to this morning, on the first morning of a new year . . .

So lovely, but it can go away now, any time soon will do . . . I’m not quite ready for spring, but spring like weather would be rather nice. It went to -18 C last night, but warmed up a bit today.

This is the purple poinsettia we gave to our Auntie in Princeton. I sent my cousin there some money to pick up a blue one, but those had sold out, so she chose this instead.

Auntie M Poinsettia Christmas 2017

I wish you all the very best in the coming year; whatever that may be for you.

Much love from here and may this be a year when we share the Light between ourselves and with others.   ~ Linne

Passing on the Light 01

Day 20: Æthelflæd . . . was she ready?

Æthelflæd_as_depicted_in_the_cartulary_of_Abingdon_Abbey

Æthrlflæd

 

A thought crossed my mind today, as thoughts do; I was thinking about Christmas and the fact that I am not really ready. The name Æthelred the Unready was the first thought and then I wondered if there was a feminine version of the name, so I looked it up. Ms Google can be an obliging friend at times . . . But I have no idea if Ms Æthelflæd, who succeeded her husband, Æthelred the Unready, was also Unready. Perhaps she was not. She is a very interesting person, though, but I’ll leave it to you to look her up.

I also learned that, in fact, the epithet “Unready” actually meant ‘ill-advised’ and was a pun on his name, which means ‘well-advised’. I knew immediately that you would all be waiting with bated breath to learn these facts, so there they are . . .  Any idea why I am ‘unready’? And no pun intended or existent. Ah, well . . .

So I have spent much of today not preparing for the Day, but rather immersed in one of a series of mysteries, one with  descriptions so realistic that it is often depressing. But I have to know what happened next . . . I used to read non-stop, pretty much; more than a book a day for many years, and over the past months have read hardly anything. Until I discovered e-books, at which I once sneered, as I love the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hands, the older the better; the smell, the look, the touch, it’s all part of reading for me. Sitting hunched over the laptop is not quite the same thing. Still, at least it’s reading. And I have also found out that Amazon has an amazing variety of free e-books for Kindle and an app that lets one read them on a smartphone or PC or laptop. When I found the Amazon books, I spent two days going through the first 400 pages (about a quarter of what’s available in only the section :Classics;) and downloading the books that I’d always meant to read, or re-read in many cases.

an-old-fashioned-girlEverything from ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ to Plato.  I  had forgotten what a natural appetite I have for reading and learning. But I haven’t touched any of those except ‘An Old-Fashioned Girl’ by Louisa May Alcott. The rest are waiting until next year. I’ll be sharing my resolutions and plans in a week or two.

In the meantime: I did no baking today, and no preparation of the various cookie doughs that need refrigeration overnight, either. And tomorrow Cousin M and I are going to town to shop. I want to buy some things for their stockings, so will have to give him the slip for a while.

I still have an email to finish composing for my winners (see yesterday’s post) and, of course, music to locate. The music takes me the longest, as I always find myself lured down memory lanes, roads not taken and just plain jaunts cross-country, musically  speaking. A close second to reading, is music . . .

For today, then:

A song that made me intensely homesick for BC all the years I was living in Edmonton: The Hills of Ardmorn by The Corries, whose music I loved long before I came across Runrig. Beautiful voices and harmonies.

kate and anna mcgarrigleCanadians Kate & Anna McGarrigle and friends (Rufus Wainwright – son of Kate -, Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, Rod Paterson) perform Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More during the Transatlantic Sessions. (If you haven’t heard of the Transatlantic Sessions, do look them up.)

More of my favourite Christmas music: Pete Seeger’s Working Class Christmas Tunes. I like them all, but Ode to Joy on the 5-string banjo, with my favourite lyrics, is wonderful.

Off to write that email now. Much Love and Light to you all. ~ Linne

Day 19: Winners!

I was busy today again and did begin baking. Not Selma’s goodies yet, but I did get two batches of shortbread made.

The first was a fairly common recipe that I made especially  for cousin S, as she is on her last week of work before retiring and is tired.

IMG_5751 These were the ones with white flour, granulated sugar and butter, plus a bit of vanilla. Very good, indeed! As you can see, that recipe made four dozen, although there are a few less now. 🙂

And then I made the Scottish oat flour ones I shared the recipe for recently. But I doubled the oat flour and halved the rice flour. They are also very good, delicious, in fact, but the oat flour has made them a bit too textured for us. So I shall ‘have’ to make another batch and go back to the recipe and follow instructions. How hard can that be?

 

But I know what you really want to hear: who has won a small ornament? Well, that was easy, as it turned out . . . only five people left comments, so each of you is a Winner! But we knew that already . . .

And the winners are:

Marlene of “In Search of it All” I’ve been reading Marlene’s posts for several years now, and have learned much from her, especially when it comes to facing the challenges of life. Her positive attitude inspires me every time I visit. Marlene’s interest in books and stitching are only some of the things that make me feel connected to her.

Jessie of “Twinny Acres” and “Rabid Little Hippy” Jessie’s been too busy to post for some time now, but her past posts are well worth reading. I connected with Jessie years ago, too, and am grateful for my introduction to permaculture via her posts. She led me on to other blogs where I continue to learn about this and more. Jessie crochets, too, and has learned to do things I dream of learning, like making cheese and soap and all that.

Jan of “The Snail of Happiness” Jan is another inspiring writer and makes me think about the impact of some of my choices. I have been thinking about choices and consequences for decades now, but there is always more to think about and new choices to be made. I was doubly delighted to see her name come up, as I earlier won a prize from her! Soup, Socks and Baking are a few of the things we have in common.  Also, Jan’s Thankful on Thursday posts have inspired me at times to write my own.

Selma from “Eclectic Home & Life” I have been following Selma for years, too. A few years ago, 2014, I think it was, she held a series of crochet classes in her home and invited anyone online who wished to join in. I was the only online participant and it was so much fun (except tat I never once got to taste any of her delightful Norwegian treats. Selma made one of these for each week’s participants. We have Norwegian backgrounds in common (Selma is from Norway, but lives in England), also crochet,  knits, loves traditions, baking and more.

and last, but not least,

Jon of “Writing House” I connected with Jon’s blog years ago, too; then, as my life became more complex, I stopped visiting many of the blogs i was following and his was one of those. Not a conscious choice, by any means. Jon has a knack for wordplay that I enjoy very much. He is an author, but I have yet to read any of his works. One day, when I am reading print books again.

 

Runners-Up:

There were two people who ‘liked’ my post but did not leave a comment. So I have decided to make them a wee something, too. They are:

Sue Dreamwalker from “Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary“, “A Dreamwalker’s Thoughts”  and “Dreamwalker’s Garden” I have followed Sue for years, too, although sometimes I have forgotten to get over and read her posts. I especially like the Sanctuary posts and feel that I have much in common with Sue. Her latest post on a holiday to Oban with her husband really resonated with me.

and

Ina Vucik of “Croatia, the War and the Future” Ina has been an activist for some years now. I have known people who had to leave Croatia because of the war and the poor economy. Ina’s blog is very informative, if you have an interest in that area of the world, its history and its future.

I have email addresses for all of you lovely readers except for Jon and Sue, so if you could drop me a line at maelinne (at) hotmail (dot) com, I’ll have a few questions for you. You may put “Winner” in the subject line; it will help me to find them in the midst of all the daily mail.

As to the rest of you, I’ll be sending an email either tomorrow or the next day. Now, I DO know it’s nearly Christmas, so there is no rush on responding. I do understand.

Your gifts will be created after Christmas and I will post when I mail them, as well as emailing each of you. I’m quite excited about doing this, more than I expected, but I am wondering why I chose a time so close to Christmas . . . oh, right, it was the 500th post!

Thanks to everyone for leaving a comment; I so appreciate your taking part.!

I am re-posting a photo of the pocket scarf, as Jill from “Nice Piece of Work” has said she isn’t getting them where she lives. That may be due to them being a larger pixel size or whatever you call it . . .

On the right is the front, showing how I am working in the new colour; on the left is the back, with an extra skein of yarn stuffed in the opening so you can see the pocket. The bottoms have yet to be finished, as I’ve decided to do a few rows of the new colour and then stitch them closed. I do envy people who live lives of simplicity <sigh>  🙂

All right, music . . .

Christmas in Vienna 1999 by The Three Tenors

Duelling Banjos with Joe Brown and Richard Collins

and a little-known Canadian group, Shanneyganock, from St. John’s, Newfoundland, singing “Grey Foggy Day

Wishing you sunshine and harmony today. Love ~ Linne

 

Day 16: A Second Story for Saturday

Before I begin, I’d like to remind you, if you haven’t been here for a while, that if you leave a comment on the Day 5 post celebrating my 500th post, your name will go in the bag for my giveaway draw.

Another Travel Story:

Last week I shared my story of a rather amazing trip I took a few decades ago. Well, ten years later, I made a similar trip. I had inherited some money and one thing I did for myself was to return to Virginia in June. No camping this time; I love camping, but I wanted something different. So I booked one night in a hotel, but nothing else. I was prepared to camp again if I had to. Plan Z, I call it, this ‘what I will do if all else fails’. I’ve never had to implement a Plan Z, but I feel better when I have one.

This time, getting there was much of the adventure: It was significantly cheaper to fly from SeaTac (between Seattle and Tacoma) than from Vancouver, BC. So I offered to pay my younger son and his girlfriend enough for them to have a weekend away for a change and they drove me to the airport. Well, we decided to leave a bit early and stop for breakfast on the way. Except we forgot it was Sunday and we were on the freeway. SeaTac 01In the end, we left the freeway and finally found a place that was open. After a more hurried breakfast than we’d have liked, we resumed our trip. Traffic was bad and we were held up a few times, possibly due to accidents. In the end we arrived at the airport at exactly the time my plane was due to take off. I wasn’t worried, and I told the ‘kids’ so; I urged them to go on their way, reminding them that things have a way of working out for me. But my daughter-in-law was not budging. She insisted on staying with the car and sent my son with me to make sure I was ok. When we got to the desk, we found that the plane had not taken off, due to problems with the landing gear . . . So they checked me in and we said goodbye and my son left, likely still worried a bit.

Things continued to unfold . . . because I was so late, they had given away my seat and there was nothing left in the economy class, where I usually fly. But there was room in first class. Hmmmm

First Class 01

I had a comfy seat similar to this.

And apparently I was to be treated as well as if I had paid for it. Nice. Only, I had a very sore throat (I used to get laryngitis frequently back then) and was unable to swallow anything but some warm water. I could have had a drink or two otherwise.

We sat on the tarmac for several hours, then were asked to disembark, as the problem with the landing gear was still not solved. No worries; I didn’t really want to fly with flaky landing gear, anyway. Although I did love the leg room!

So off we went; me holding back because some passengers were in a huge rush; they were trying to get to New York or other big cities where they had to catch a connecting flight to Europe or the like.

By the time I arrived at the booking desk, the poor staff looked so stressed; passengers were upset and shoving, raising their voices and so on. I felt that if I missed the evening sign-in at the conference, it wasn’t the end of the world; if they missed a connection, it might be the end for them. So when I got to the head of the line, I told the young woman that I didn’t have to be in Virginia exactly on time, so long as I got there eventually. And I told her she could send me anywhere, the more unique the place, the better, as I do love an adventure! Her relief and gratitude were almost tangible. So she booked me through to Minneapolis, where I would stay in the Embassy Suites hotel. Now that’s a very nice hotel and it really was a suite. I ordered room service for my supper, as I’d not had lunch and it was late in the evening by then.

Embassy Suites hotel room

My suite was even nicer than this!

After a good night’s sleep I took time to look out my window. Across the street was a huge military graveyard, with row upon row of white crosses. The sight has stayed with me all these years.

Shortly after, I went down to the dining room for my complimentary breakfast. Some of you may have stayed in places like this, but I hadn’t; there was a large room with cooking and serving stations all around in an oval shape. I could have had a Korean breakfast, a Japanese breakfast . . . you get the idea.

Embassy Suites hotel dining room

Much like this, but all around the dining room.

Then it was time to return to the airport and continue on my way. The flight went smoothly and I was soon landing at Norfolk. I forgot to tell you last week that on my first flight here a decade before we flew through a huge lightning and thunder storm. It felt like being on a roller coaster; lucky for me I love roller coasters! But we made it safely and the sight of lightning flashing all around was truly spectacular.

Atlantic sunrise 01

Like this, only redder . . .

I spent my first night in the fancy hotel, on the 17th floor, in a room that faced East. I left the curtains open and woke to the most incredible sunrise ever; a huge red sun rising out of the Atlantic Ocean, right in front of my eyes! I shall never forget the sight.

The next day I learned that there was a beach cottage informally called the Canadian Cottage and that one of the ladies had been unable to come at the last minute. I was offered her room and, of course, accepted. It was right next to the beach and when we crossed the street to the west, we were at the conference. I suppose one could call this serendipity at its best.

I had a great time, renewing acquaintances from the previous trip (the couple I’d stayed with before had moved out of state, so I was unable to visit them) and meeting new people. This time, thanks to my inheritnce, I was able to be more supportive of the organization and I bought a few souvenirs and some raffle tickets.

Did I mention that I had booked this flight for three weeks, also? I did. and I met the nicest volunteer there and we hit it off immediately. She invited me to stay with her for the last two weeks and we had such a good time, visiting historic sites and places of interest to me.  The only hitch was spending a day at the beach when it was very overcast, but warm. My new friend fell asleep and I was reluctant to wake her. I ended up with the worst sunburn I’d ever had. Fortunately, this was the day before I had to go back to BC, so it didn’t spoil my visit. But three days later you could still feel the heat in my arm.

VA Cape Henry historic lighthouse

Historic Cape Henry Lighthouse, Virginia

There is more to this story, but I’ll continue it either next Saturday or the one after that.

I wish you all some time for relaxation and creativity today.

Music:  I’ve been enjoying Selma’s posts on Norwegian Nisse, and I always think of dwarves as larger cousins of the Nisse. Here is Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt. This is the first piece of classical music I ever heard and I still recall how vividly the images of dwarves marching underground were in my mind’s eye. It’s a bit rousing, so here is an antidote, also by Grieg:

Morning Mood

 

Day 13: An easy special treat for Christmas Eve breakfast: Skaters

It’s very early on the 13th and I’ve been visiting blogs instead of writing a post. Then I spent some time deciding what to write about. Posting every day is a bit of a challenge, but fun, too. But today I have solved the photo-inserting mystery, so there will be pictures!

IMG_5573    IMG_5585

The cottage pie, before and after it was cut open.

Today I went into town with cousin M to have a notary public sign a single page document. I’ve never had to make an appointment for that before, so hadn’t called ahead. Anyway, we are going back on Friday to have that done. We stopped to order the Christmas turkey from a small shop where we purchased the Thanksgiving turkey; they are raised naturally and so delicious they are worth the price. Then we went to a small speciality yarn shop that is mostly too expensive for me at present. I wanted to buy one more skein of yarn for the scarf, as I’m afraid that my leftovers from the tuques aren’t going to be enough for a decent length. This took a bit longer than I’d hoped, as they no longer carry that brand (why it was on sale in the first place), but I was able to find some pure wool that is very lovely and ought to work colour-wise. And if I don’t need it, I may have to knit or crochet something else. This is what I get for wanting to use up my leftovers . . . I don’t really like to knit with wool for others, as nowadays people often don’t want to take the time to hand-wash items. But my sister will, I know. he values hand-made, too.

The real bonus was finding bamboo double pointed needles in size 0 (that’s a zero) and size 1. You may remember that I have my great-grandmother’s dpns, but one is size 2 and the other three are smaller.  So now I can make socks using her needles, the ones that she taught her children on and also my mother and her siblings. I can hardly wait!

Johan Jorgine Carlson Stromme 01

I’ve had another message from the Norwegian professor and he sent me a photo of my great-grandfather  with three other people. In return I sent him this photo; This is my Mum’s beloved Grandfather Johan and Grandmother Jørgine (Georgina in English and it is Jørgine’s steel knitting needles that are now mine to love and cherish. Behind them is their farmhouse, where Mum and most of her siblings often spent a week or two in the summer and where the family gathered for Sunday dinner on many a weekend. The children were aged 3 to 20 when their mother died and their grandparents stepped in to help whenever possible. I don’t know if I met them when I was taken to Saskatchewan for my first birthday; I hope so.

But you must be wondering about the easy treat, right? It’s very simple and you may use whatever bread recipe you prefer for making buns or rolls. Depending on how many people will be at the breakfast table, you may wish to make only enough for one loaf of bread. I always used a standard recipe for two loaves, as my two boys loved these. You can also make the dough, freeze half and use the other half for one batch. If you prefer a sweet dough, go ahead and use that. I like whole wheat nearly all the time, so that’s what I made, but half whole wheat and half white work well, too. You can add a little wheat germ for extra flavour and nutrition if you wish. I always do.

Now I don’t have photos of these, but if I get to make some during the holidays I’ll come back and update this post. (I’ve searched the internet and am surprised that there are no photos of them anywhere that I looked.)

You can make the dough in a bread machine, too, if that gives you a bit more time.

Once the dough is ready to form into buns for baking, here’s what you do”

Divide the dough into about 12 – 24 pieces. Take one piece and roll it into a cylinder. Form the top into a cone-shaped cap. Twist a bit to form a neck, not too  narrow, though.

With a sharp knife, make a slit from the bottom about 1/3 of the way up the cylinder. This forms the legs. Then form the arms by making two slits from about a half-inch to an inch below the shoulders down past where the waist would be.

Now separate the legs a bit and twist the last inch or so to make feet that stick out to the sides, like feet with skates on. I like to make the tips curve up, like the old-fashioned skates from Victorian days.

Twist the arms a bit, too, pulling them away from the body. You can pose the arms and legs differently to make them more interesting. If you want to be even fancier, pinch off a piece of dough and form a scarf, then wrap it around the neck with the ends blowing in the wind a bit. Don’t make the scarf too thin or long. You want these to bake evenly.

Arrange the skaters on a greased baking sheet as you make them. We used to use two raisins to form eyes and three more to make buttons where the jacket would be. Poke raisins well into the dough so they don’t get shoved out when the dough rises.

You can let these rise now, then bake at 350 F until browned like any dinner bun, or you can put the tray of skaters into the fridge (assuming you have room) and let them rise in  a warm oven in the morning while the stockings are being unpacked (that’s what I did). We always had them with butter and home-made jam., as well as our scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. It was the only time of year that we had bacon, so that in itself was pretty festive.

If you are fairly new to bread baking, I recommend a trial run ahead of the big day so you have an idea of how long it all will take. If you have any questions, do feel free to ask me in the comments below. but I think this is one of my easier Christmas recipes.

IMG_5649  IMG_5582  IMG_5654

The last of the Honeycrisp apples, the pie we made from them (and a few more) and, on the right, the mincemeat turnovers waiting to be baked.

IMG_5655

The ends for the Dancing Granny scarf as it was yesterday. Today they are a bit longer.

Have a lovely and stress-free day today.

Here’s some music that I like for this season:

Peace Train by Cat Stevens

Imagine by John Lennon