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.

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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

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From Tough to Fluff

Hi, everyone! It’s been an interesting day . . . the appointment with the ophthalmologist went as well as could be expected. I have to have an ultrasound on the left eye, as the cataract is too dense to allow anyone to view the back of the eye.That should be scheduled within a couple of days, but I have no idea how long I’ll have to wait for it. Measurements will be taken in early January and then there will be two surgeries, about a month apart. With any luck, I’ll have fairly normal vision from then on.  So that’s the ‘tough’ part of my day. I’ll spare you the details, as I’m rather interested in getting to the ‘fluff’ part of this. (Thanks for that, Marlene )

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The good news was very welcome and  It came in the box shown above We stopped at the mailboxes on our way into town and there it was! he thought of opening it got me through the appointment and all the waiting.

Finally, we were home and I got out my scissors to slice through the tape. Her’s what I saw first:

I loved seeing the care they took with my order and the checkmark gave me confidence that all would be as expected. And it was!You can see that the box came from YarnCanada, based in New Westminster, a bit east of Vancouver, BC.

Here’s what I saw next:

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Have you guessed yet? The lovely green skeins at the top are what I ordered for making the Meg Shawl, designed by Amy of Love Made My Home and for sale on Ravelry.. I wrote about that in the previous post. I was a bit wary about ordering based on a colour seen on the internet, but it was just what I hoped for. So I downloaded the patterns I’d bought from Amy and printed them. And then realized that I couldn’t read yet, due to the drops i’d had in my eyes at the eye clinic. Most frustrating, as part of me wanted to just dive in and start! The enforced wait was good, though; I had a wee look around and realized that I have four socks on the go, along with the two tuques, a knitted tea cosy ready to stitch together, a scarf to complete and a few other knitted or crocheted UFOs. sigh . . . So I shall be a good girl and finish a few things before I begin the shawl Oh, but I didn’t want to be good!

I slowly unpacked the contents, these first:

All four are Paton’s Kroy sock yarn. Washable wool and nylon for strength and durability. Two are Red and two are Clover Colours. The variegated are quite different, but I had been warned and was expecting that. I don’t mind some difference in my socks, but I do like them to look like a pair, not things I rescued from somewhere. So I have figured out what may be a solution. I shall use both ends of one skein (the more colourful one, I think) to knit from the toes up on both socks, as far as the yarn will go. Then I will switch to the darker skein and use both ends of that. We’ll see how that works. In any case, I shall have warm feet!

The red yarn is so I an make an easy, little concentration needed, pair of socks. Just knit and knit and , oh yes, make the heel . . . then knit some more. It will be a good break from the Fair Isle, much as I love patterns and stranded knitting. Next time I shall order four skeins for a pair of socks and use the wool for stranded knitting (one stitch one with yarn 1; the next with yarn 2 and so on) That will make the sock thicker and even warmer.

Here’s a close-up of the Meg yarn; the colour is between these two pictures in real life. It i a washable wool and SO soft and cosy. I could use a jumper made of this!

And a closeup of the Clover Colours:

They really are different, aren’t they? It would be interesting to use them for stranded work, I think.

Now, just before I finally lifted the smaller skeins out, I saw this:

I thought that was such a ‘sweet’ touch that I emailed the company immediately to let them know that I’d received my package and was grateful for the wee gift.

Disclaimer: I did tell YarnCanada that I was going to write about the quick service and the extra detail, but I am not affiliated with them in any way and will receive nothing for promoting their company and products. They did tell me, in a note on the packing slip, that if I post on Instagram about the products, my name will be entered into a draw for $50. Another nice thing, I think. That will have to wait for tomorrow,; I’m still seeing things far more fuzzily than usual.

I’ll wrap this up with something completely different: Africa! Do watch it; it’s one of the most inspiring performances I’ve seen yet!

See you soon, my friends!  ~ Linne

 

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

 

Three Things / Thankful on Thursday

Thankful on Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chocolate Banana Muffins 

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

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4  cup wheat germ

1/2 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali

1 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

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

3 large brown bananas – 1.5 cups mashed

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

1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup oil (I used safflower)

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

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

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

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts

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

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

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

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

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2  cup wheat germ

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

2 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

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

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

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

1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 cup oil (I used safflower)

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

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

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

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 to 2  cups chopped walnuts

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

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

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

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

METHOD:

Heat oven to 350 F

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

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

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

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

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

Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Correction:

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

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

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

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

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

Update on the Poppies

Good evening, my friends! Much has been going on here, what with Canadian Thanksgiving and all that. But I have managed to complete eleven poppies and will be airmailing them to Kendal tomorrow (see my last post for more details); fingers crossed that they arrive in time for the display! These are for the display planned by the group called Kendal Wool Gathering, to commemorate WWI anniversaries. They have a facebook page, if you are interested. It’s a bit late now to be making poppies for them (due date for arrival in Kendal is 30th of October) but you may wish to make a few poppies for your own community. Any poppies sent to Kendal with pins on the back are being sold as brooches to raise money for the Royal British Legion. I suggest we all think a bout making some for next year, when we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War. I am hoping our Women’s Institute will have some events planned, but have not contacted them yet to find out.

11 poppies lg

I made eleven because, as I’m sure you know, the Armistice was signed at 11.00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

There is some symbolism in these for me personally, too, as there were my parents and nine children in our family; the three red poppies are for my Dad and his brother and one of Mum’s brothers, all of whom served in WWII. The group as a whole is to honour the man I worked for in the late 1980s, Mr. Brown; he served during WWI, but was stationed in the Caribbean Sea in case of attack. He saw no action, fortunately. However, his brother was one of the 3,598 Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge between the ninth and the twelfth of April, 1917.

If I have time, I want to make a poppy scarf using mostly the white Peace Poppies and a few red traditional poppies. If not this year, then next year for sure, which will mark 100 years since the end of WWI.

I have permission to link to the pattern for these poppies. The designer is Emma Leith, of Emma Leith Atelier, who has been more than kind in taking time to respond to my emails. That link will take you to her site and to the poppy pattern that she designed and offers for free.

With her permission, I have adapted that pattern to make my own Peace Poppies. Remember that they are white with a black centre? I tried that, but it looked like this:

White Peace Poppy

I felt it needed something, so I tried this:

Peace Poppy 01

I like this one much better. I still used Emma’s pattern, but I used white for the last two rows, leaving the second row red. For me, this honours those who shed their blood, or at lest offered to do so, while still holding to the thought of Peace on this earth in our time. I haven’t written up my version for Ravelry yet, but I will do so. It will be linked to Emma’s pattern and will also be free.

Oh, one other change I made and it’s certainly optional for anyone else: I used Judy’s Magic Cast On. It gives the option of a tighter centre, but also means that the petals can become a bit more ruffled. In part, for me, that may be due to my using a rather ‘hard’ acrylic yarn. With a softer yarn, the result may be quite different.

Well, my friends, I’m going to keep this short. I’ve been up to rather a lot lately, which is why you haven;t heard from me as often as I’d hoped. Lots of creating going on here and more about to begin! Not to mention that, in honour of ‘Anticipation 301’ I’m giving advance notice of a HUGE PROJECT in the works for next year. Hints to come and then the Great Reveal!! I’m so excited! It’s lovely to be happy and excited again; it seems as though it’s been forever.

before I go, though, one last thing. I know that some of you have been facing great challenges in one form or another. You are all in my thoughts and prayers; in particular anyone near the horrific fires in California. I still haven’t unpacked my ‘go-bag’ from our fires here. I know how so many must be feeling, living with the uncertainty. I can only imagine how it is for those who have lost their homes or, worse, family members. I wish you strength and courage for the coming days and months.

I have been saddened by the Las Vegas shootings, too, and I hope none of you have been directly affected. One of my daughters-in-law had a business trip scheduled for Vegas two days after the shooting, but in the end was unable to go. In light of all the challenges out there, including the political facings-off, with Tom Petty’s death, I was reminded of one of my favourite songs that he did (the background to this song is on YouTube under the video and well worth reading):

Good night, dear friends. I shall attempt to respond to comments before too long. (But I do have a couple more posts to write, so those may come first). Warm hugs from rapidly-cooling BC.

Poppy Project/s

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” ~Eve Merriam.

Hello, my friends! Now (as of today) it’s officially autumn. Attention is shifting from gardening, harvesting and ‘putting by’ to crafting.  At least mine is . . .

Yesterday I saw a post on fb about the Kendal Poppies project to honour those who served in WWI. Apparently similar projects are happening in other towns, too.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/KendalPoppies/

If you don;t do facebook, you can read about it here:

http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/15530088.Poppy_pop_up_art_installation_to_be_created_for_Kendal_Wool_Gathering/

Sara Last, who is mentioned in the article, has created a group on fb for anyone interested in taking part.

I have made two poppies already today:my first two poppies

Luckily, I had bought some red and black yarn yesterday (inexpensive acrylic) for making some Christmas items I hope to sell. After reading about the meaning of the different coloured poppies, I went back today and picked up a skein of white, too. Inspired by Mother Teresa, I am no longer anti-war; I am pro-peace, so most of my poppies will be white. with a black centre; I plan to try out a black centre, narrow red band surrounding that, then white petals. To learn more about the various colours, go to

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-37798965/red-white-purple-black-choosing-a-remembrance-day-poppy

I am using a pattern that was posted to the group and have asked the designer for permission to post it here. I’m sure she won’t mind, but am waiting for confirmation.

If any of you knitters and crocheters out there would like to take part, your contributions will be most welcome. They are hoping to cover a WWI medical tent by spreading camouflage netting over it and attaching the poppies to that.  The initial display will be on 20 October, I think, so that gives us time, especially for those of us who don’t live in England. The poppies will be used for Remembrance Day, too, (and I think some may be sold), then donated to Wonderwool Wales for their curtain.

http://www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk/show-events/curtain-of-poppies.html

There are patterns for both knitted and crocheted poppies in the group, so likely online, too. If you don’t do either, but want to take part, they will accept other forms of crafted poppies. Felt, woven, stitched, etc.

Well, back to crochet for me! I’ll update this post later with my creations.

Oh, one more thing: I am contacting a local yarn shop or two and the local Women’s Institute (Mum was a member for years and I was, too, but not for as long) to see if anything is planned here that I might contribute to. You might want to do the same where you are. Love and Light to each of you. I wish you all Inner Peace. ~ Linne

 

Getting back on the horse . . .

Well, my friends, it’s time . . . to get back to regular posting, I mean, as I finally caught up with your kind and thoughtful comments!  I wonder if others find it hard to know where to begin, too? I’ve been thinking about what I want to share and so on, then decided I would simply upload images from my time in Tacoma (part One), then add notes and probably some of my thoughts along the way. I hope that works for all of us.

I took literally thousands of photos after I left Edmonton late last September, so there were plenty to choose from.  I think I will write above the photos (just so you know what I’m going on about . . .).

This is a long post, so don’t worry if you can’t get through it all, and don’t feel obliged to comment on all, or any, of it. I totally understand about that.

Here is a photo from my friends’ back porch in Langford, BC, where I stayed while waiting to get new ID suitable for entering the USA. That took longer than I’d imagined, partly due to the fact that I had only my birth certificates with me; all else is in storage ‘somewhere’. Anyway, the autumn colours were lovely and I especially liked this view through the latticing.

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We kept busy, ,y friends and I, as I waited. One trip we took was to a small country market and I couldn’t resist taking this photo of the pumpkin / squash display. I have a painting planned, based on this sumptuous collection of colours and shapes.IMG_5599

Once I arrived in the wee Varda (travel trailer; I like the original gypsy word, VArdo, but liked to think of Varda as a feminine form), I adjusted my diet to fit my food prep options. I have never cooked in a microwave, but really didn’t want to have the propane hooked up, so I quickly learned to make simple and delicious meals. More about that in a separate post, I think. Below is the glass dish I used for cooking everything from morning oatmeal to pasta and veggies.IMG_5710

It wasn’t long before I got back into crochet and knitting. More on that later, but I couldn’t resist sharing this cute photo. So true, isn’t it?

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I had fun taking photos in the Varda, too. Some of my oranges were especially interesting in shape and I liked the composition of this one sitting on my unmade bed one morning.

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My friends have a lovely upright piano that belonged to Mr. R’s mother. They loanded me a book for adult learners and I had a lot of fun any time they were both out, just noodling around and working my way almost to the middle of the book. I used to attend all my younger son;s lessons (violin, viola, piano, etc.) and had always wanted to play myself. Music is very healing, at least for me. There is a wonderful book called “Music as the Bridge” that gave me a different outlook on the place of music in the world and in my life.IMG_5834

AS I think I’ve mentioned, <rs. R was not well for most of the first month that I was there. Once she was feeling better, we had some fun making Christmas gifts for her grandchildren. Each received a fleece blanket, which was made by putting two pieces of fleece back to back, cutting slits along the sides (we used masking tape so that the slits would be even in length), then knotting eacch pair of ‘tabs’.IMG_5949

This is the back of the blanket pictured above.IMG_5950

THEN, we got more serious about creativity. Before I went south, my friend J (Mrs. R) had asked me to teach her to knit and crochet again (she’d learned as a child, then not done any for some years). You may be appalled to know that I pretty much threw her in at the deep end when it came to the knitting. we decided that she would make a scarf for her husband for Christmas and chose patterns that reflected their individual heritages.

The scarf is made of Classic Wool on two sets of circular needles, so the pattern is always facing the knitter (easier for the knitter and making any errors simple to spot and correct.

In the end, though, J found the loose ends of the unused circular needle were too distracting for her, so I knit the pattern bits. She did most of the plain knitting, though. Here is the first end once the patterns were completed. The row counter is there mostly to mark the beginning of the raven pattern segment.IMG_5960

At the bottom is a row of Fair Isle hearts; J’s grandmother was from Oban and apparently liked to tease her husband about his being only a Lowlander.IMG_5962

Mr. R’s grandparents, like my maternal ones, came from Norway,, so we chose to include two ravens, one on each end of the scarf. They were considered to be Odin’s birds, Hugin and Munin (Thought and Memory), who flew all over the world each day, bringing back news to Odin. This pattern came from a book I had from the library a few years ago. The book is called Selbuvotter (Mittens/Gloves of Selbu); it has many lovely patterns for gloves and mitts traditional in Selbu, Norway.IMG_5963

The upper pattern band is also from the Fair Isle tradition. It has Os and Xs for Hugs and Kisses, with Crosses in between for blessings.IMG_5964

This is the ‘back’ side of the scarf.IMG_5965

J gave me two lovely rayon tops from Holy Clothing, a company selling ethically made clothing. This photo shows the embroidery around the neckline of my favourite piece.IMG_6089

In January, J drove up to victoria to visit her son and his family, so I went along and while I was in Langford again my friend L trimmed my hair. The longest parts were finally down to my waist, after many years of wanting it to all be that long, but it was looking quite ragged, so I bowed to necessity. I don’t care for it this short, but it looks neater, so that’s ok. Besides, it should grow in again. IMG_6102

WE left late in the afternoon, taking a ferry to Port Angeles, WA. These are poor photos of lovely views from the ferry; James Bay (Victoria) in the last light of the sun.IMG_6120

IMG_6155

reativity!  While in Tacoma, J and I began going to Hobby Lobby and Jo-Ann stores; occasionally to Michaels as well. To start her off with crochet, we had purchased a small ball of variegated khaki Sugar n Cream cotton yarn.  With an eye to the future and savings (ha!), and knowing that J loves turquoise and teal, I talked her into buying these two cones of cotton (also Sugar n Cream).

But then, one evening as I was sitting with her while she worked on a square dishcloth in the khaki, I asked if she’d mind if I started a ‘small’ piece using these two colours. You see, I’d had an idea . . . what if one was to create a circle using both colours in concentric spirals?  Of course she said yes and so it began . . . You can see the beginning below. I never wrote down what I did, so if you feel inspired to make your own version of this, ou will have to do as I did, make it up as  you go along. IMG_6246

After a while, I switched to treble (US double) crochet, with a chain in between, which you can see in the first photo. Then, for a change, I began working in the back stitches, creating a lovely ripple as if there were waves washing up along coral and white outcrops. The piece grew like Topsy and I bought two more cones and two more cones and one final cone of the turquoise. so, seven cones in all. At one point, I found myself creating interesting ‘petals’ in the variegated yarn, but they vanished in the next row. I remembered them, however, and re-created them as I came to the ends of the piece. By that time, it measured around seven feet across, I think. The final photo here is of the centre. I do have photos of the completed piece, but I’ll have to look for them.  spread out over a recliner chair, it covered it and hung down the back!  I’m rather proud of this piece. I think it’s the larges I’ve ever made; certainly it’s the most creative in terms of stitches and overall design. Not many things make me as happy as pure creativity, making things up as I go along. (although it doesn’t always work out so well, I have to admit). I’ll post the photos of the finished piece next time, assuming I can find the photos.

In the meantime, I am thinking of each one of you out there in the Virtual Village; those for whom things are going well and those facing a challenge or ten. Take care of yourselves, will you? I’ll be dropping by to visit soon.

And here’s my newest favourite album; it was the first recorded by Runrig, back when there were only four members. It’s not so much rock and, while it’s in Scottish Gaelic, I find it hauntingly beautiful. I find myself hearing it in my dreams and often waking to it in the mornings. i hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I do.

Love and Light to each of you.  ~ Linne