Just jumping in again . . .

Hello, my friends. Did you think I’d gone into retirement? Nope, still getting adjusted to being home again and also working on plans for this coming year.

I hope you all had a good Christmas or Solstice or whatever you celebrate in December. And I wish you all the very best in this coming year.

I still have not faced up to downloading the photos that remain on the camera, although I did get all the pictures off my old iphone. My youngest sister was going to send me her ‘old’ phone, but there have been glitches. (trying to get a new sim to work in the old phone so I’d have something until the new one arrives. Oh, well . . .)  I love techy stuff when it works and the rest of the time . . .   I think now she is planning to send me something else.

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Above is a photo of the Yarndale bus that ran between the train station and the exhibition site. (This year Yarndale was on the 29th and 30th of September and I had a ticket for both days. The first day I walked up through the park – you can see some photos of that walk on Lucy’s Attic24 site. The second day I took this bus, as I was on my feet the entire day both times, except for one short sit-down in the afternoon on the Saturday. There was just SO MUCH to see!) I think the bus picked people up from other locations, too. I loved the bunting on the front and inside there were small mandalas as well, making it all very festive.

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You can’t tell from this selfie, but I wore my Runrig Tshirt and jacket to Yarndale. That’s a small crocheted butterfly pinned to the inside of the collar. They were this year’s donations, made by volunteers around the world, and were sold to raise money for this year’s charity, Pioneer Projects. They raised 2,339.94 from selling these! BTW, did you know that the collective noun for a butterflies is a Kaleidoscope of Butterflies? I love that! I chose a green one made in the same way my Mum used to make them (for fridge magnets, in her case) and partly because green was her favourite colour, as it is mine. If you’d like to see the amazing number and variety of butterflies, go to Lucy’s post about Celebrating Yarndale 2018 and scroll down.

I mentioned the Runrig jacket and Tshirt because at least four women stopped me to say they had been at Stirling on that historic weekend, too! It was wonderful to stop for a minute and reminisce with others who felt as I do about the band and their music.

Now I’m going to pick up where I left off in October, more or less . . .  I did make it to Skipton twice more to join in with Lucy’s Knit n Natter group. Such fun! Everyone was lovely to me and the staff at the cafe were, too. In the afternoon, both days, I wandered around Skipton, just drinking things in, then went back to Cooper’s Cafe for a snack and coffee or tea before heading for the train and Heaton. Yummy food they have!!

The first afternoon (02 November 2018) I wandered in and out of a variety of shops, mostly the charity shops, looking for souvenirs. I found Wooleys and had a great chat with the lady there, but they didn’t have what I was looking for; English wool! The wool was all spun in Italy, as I recall. But it was fun connecting.

Then further up the High Street, I found the ginnel (Yorkshire for a passageway with a roof) leading to the Purl & Jane shop! I can highly recommend P&J; Jane has created over 2,000 designs  in the past 20 years, by the way (read her About page for more information) and she carries a gorgeous selection of yarns. I was so happy to finally see some English wools!! (She is an official supporter of The Campaign for Wool) So I bought three balls of variegated green, needles and one of her patterns. And some buttons. The design only calls for one, but I could never have too many buttons!! I got to pet the dog, too  🙂 This yarn is for a special project and I’ll post about that soon, with photos of the buttons. (Anticipation 101, remember . . .)

On my way back to the ginnel, I noticed a small shop that looked interesting; it had some unique items of clothing hanging on a line along the wall. I was SO tempted, but I resisted and went on my way.

Next week, on Friday 09 November, I spent the afternoon a little differently. I made my way back to Purl & Jane to show Jane my progress on the green project. I was so thrilled with her design, I bought some lovely deep rose (close to magenta) in the same yarn. And more buttons! I had my project about half done by then and was very happy with it.

After another chat with Jane, I walked back toward the ginnel and this time I decided to go into the wee shop I’d resisted the week before . . . just to have a quick look, you understand. I have a card somewhere, but can’t locate it just now. I’ve looked up the address and it says now that the shop called “Sophie’s Handbags and Accessories” is permanently closed. However, I don’t know if that’s the shop I was in or an earlier one. I hope it’s an earlier one . . .

Another lovely lady to chat with, and some very unique clothes, handbags and other things, like jewellery . . .  I continued to resist, although I did stop to admire two ivory lace dresses, each with a matching jacket and fully lined, to boot. Luckily, they were a Small and a Medium. I held the medium up and it appeared to be likely to fit, although I haven’t worn a medium for a few years now. It was midi length, too, which I prefer. Resolutely, I put it back . . . and left the store . . . and got through the ginnel . . . all the time thinking of how lovely it was and how much it was my dream dress (I’m not easy to please when it comes to clothing and my life is more suited to jeans and Tshirts in any case). And then I found myself thinking that I’d never have another chance to buy it and I did a quick U-turn and returned to the shop! I’m pretty sure none of you do such things, right? I held it up to myself again and it still seemed like a close enough fit. And it was only £10, which is about $17 Canadian. And I succumbed to temptation then and there!

I noticed a stack of sheer scarves, too, and bought a couple of those as well. Oh, I was happy as I walked away! More on the dress in a bit . . .

I walked up the High Street further and stopped at the Holy Trinity Church of England. I happen to love historical buildings and churches and cathedrals in particular. I found some small items in the gift shop from another lovely woman and had time to light candles for several people, including all my blogging friends. This church was founded in the early 1100s and it was an amazing feeling just to sit in it. The stonework and stained glass were marvellous to view.

After my time in the church I found my way to Skipton Castle next door.

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The castle seen from the air. You can see the church just above it and off to the left a bit is the High Street with the Market set up.

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I had been told it was free to visit the castle, but it isn’t anymore. As I’d splurged on the dress, I didn’t want to buy a ticket. I was able to walk into the front bit (where you can see people in the shadows), almost up to the courtyard. And I did get to see some amazing details inside the small room where they sell the tickets, postcards and so on.

I really do have to get on with downloading the photos from my camera, don’t I? I’ll make that a priority this coming week.

In the meantime, once I arrived back at my room in Heaton, I took out the dress and tried it on . . . and it fit! I am still a bit in shock at that, really.

(I was walking so much and eating as well as I do here in BC, but not snacking and it made a big difference. I did put a few pounds back on over Christmas, as I do like the Christmas treats, but it’s coming off again now that life is back to normal and my cousin’s wife and I are walking four or five times a week at the local arena.)

I don’t have a photo of me where you can see the entire dress, but this selfie will give you the basic idea (please forgive the poor quality; it was night and the lighting was a bit dim. Also my hair, as it was the end of a day spent outdoors in the wind):

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This is the prettiest dress I have ever owned and I’m looking forward to wearing it this coming summer. And I found a website that carries the exact shoes I’ve been thinking would suit it, too: Pompadour French Court Shoes! The heel height and shape are what I like best in a heel and the lace seems like the perfect finishing touch. The shoes won’t be in the budget for a while, but one day . . .

Well, I’d best stop here and get this posted. I’ll see you again soon . . .

And here’s some music for you:

Mingulay Boat Song by The Corries, who were my favourite group up ’til I came across Runrig. Now first place is shared between them.

Somewhere, featuring Canadian Bruce Guthro (lead singer) and Scottish Julie Fowlis (special guest) on the vocals. The video is beautiful, and the words, too.

 

No photos with this post, sorry. Just a catch-up . . .

Hello everyone; I’m quite frustrated with trying to use a tablet that’s a combination of touchscreen and keyboard. It’s a great idea, but the technology sure needs a lot of work.

Anyway, I thought I’d touch base here, at least, as it’s been so long since I posted. Uploading photos is very challenging, so I finally decided to just write and to post photos once I’m back in BC and can use the laptop.

This trip has been pretty amazing, although I’ve done little in the way of ‘touristy’ things. Instead, I opted to save up and visit Norway for three weeks. Definitely worth it, as I was able to stand in front of the house where my Mum’s grandfather was born and spent a couple of nights in a bed and breakfast that was the old Priest’s House at that time. He was likely baptized there, as the church burnt down the year before he was born.

In August I moved north from Surrey to a room in Heaton (part of Bradford, Yorkshire) and have been quite happy there ever since. The woman who manages the renting of rooms loves to cook the way I do (meaning that we use recipes as general suggestions and then just ‘wing it’ ) so we take turns cooking and share the meals. We both like spicy middle Eastern flavours, too, so there is often a lot of that going on. I’ll be sharing some of the ‘recipes’ I’ve concocted and some of Karen’s, too, later on. And I’ve adapted a vegan recipe for almond flour chocolate fudgy brownies that are possibly the best I’ve ever made. And a frittata and a couple of varieties of houmous, too.

Just a few days after I arrived here, Karen loaned me a tent and sleeping  bag and one of the owners of the house loaned me a sleeping mat and an emergency blanket (just in case) and I returned to Scotland to see Runrig for the first and last times. Yes, I said ‘times’!! I had a standing/camping ticket that included a campsite and free entry to a Ceilidh on the Friday night plus entry to the last-ever concert on the Saturday night.

My camping neighbours helped me figure out how to set up the tent (no time or space for a trial run beforehand) and then we helped other campers and made new friends as we did so. Then one of their friends came along and they brought him over to meet me. Colin had an extra ticket for the Friday night that he said someone had given him and he was looking to give it away. So yes, he gave it to me!! I gave him a donation for a cancer charity he supports, as I didn’t feel right about having a ticket for free when others had paid so much to be there. And it was worth every minute! So I missed the Ceilidh, which I heard was fabulous, but I got to see Runrig twice!! Something that’s been on my ‘bucket list’ since I first heard them perform on youtube.

The final concert was exactly eleven years previous, to the day, and I’m happy to say that while it did rain a bit, it was nothing like 2007, when it rained all day the day before, all night and then through the day of the concert. People were up to their ankles in mud, although no one left . . .

Anyway, it was all my heart desired it to be. I took photos on the first night with both my ancient iphone (4S, I think, and now they are up to 10 or 12 or something like that); the second night I couldn’t find the iphone, so only used the camera. I found the phone on Sunday when I was packing up, though, luckily for me.

I mention this because at the end of September, I went to Yarndale in Skipton, Yorkshire. I took plenty of photos the first day with the same camera. On Sunday, as I was sitting on the train heading back again, I was trying to reset the time so it would be accurate. I have no idea what I did wrong, but suddenly  the camera ‘ate’ all the photos on it; over three thousand! Shocking, at the time, as I’m sure you will understand. I had copied some of my photos onto a data stick (the terabyte sized external drive that I brought with me for storage worked perfectly in BC with the laptop, but refuses to talk to the tablet. So I bought a data stick. Downloading three days worth of photos took me nearly ten hours, tying up both the device and the tablet for that time, so I’d been putting off downloading more. Lesson learned, I tell you!

Now at first I was a bit down, to say the least, but then I heard that our friend Wendy’s grand-daughter had passed away and that’s a real loss. I have not felt down about my photos since. I figure that I have my memories and also whatever is on the iphone and that is more than I ever expected to have in this life, so I’m not going to be whinging on about losing my photos. I have felt quite wary ever since, though.

Well, Yarndale, too, was more than I’d hoped for. I met a couple of the bloggers I follow and that was a huge thrill for me. Christine from Winwick Mum and Lucy from Attic 24. Both were beyond kind and took time to chat a bit. I was lucky to meet them at the end of the second day, when the crowds had thinned out. Lucy invited me to attend some of the coffee and handwork meetings that occur at Cooper’s Cafe in Skipton and I will be doing that during the first two weeks of November.

I will post about some of the exhibitors I met (and a couple more bloggers, too) once I’m back in BC. I was very much looking forward to meeting the folks from River Knits UK, but although I visited the booths beside them and across from them, somehow I missed them. I was quite disappointed about that. They are a small family that hand dyes British wool yarns and until recently lived on a narrowboat. Now they have a house and the narrowboat has become the dye studio. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while and wanted especially to see a couple of delicious-looking green yarns.

I’m having a hard time believing that it’s mid-October already and that I have just over three weeks left of this amazing adventure! I will have been here six months less a day when I get back. It hasn’t always been easy and there was a long list of things I’d hoped to do that didn’t materialize, but that’s because I chose to do the things that mattered most to me, which certainly included the time in Norway with my cousin and on the island of Leka (where my great-grandfather and one of his sisters were born). I rather think there will always be items left undone on a list like that and the positives have been so wonderful that I really have few regrets.

I shall be returning to my cousins’ for the rest of the winter and looking for a place of my own, hopefully by late spring or early summer. I hope to buy a second-hand caravan but failing that, to rent something affordable where my storage items can be brought and then gone through. I won’t be keeping most of it, but I do want to enjoy the things I collected for my retirement, at least for a while. And there is plenty of crafting supplies, so life will not be the least bit boring.

I am quite sad to be leaving the UK; it’s been one of the best summers of my life, and I’ve had quite a few great summers in my 70+ years! Just living an everyday life here has been exactly what I both wanted and needed. Time out from all the stresses of the past couple of decades and nothing familiar to trigger sadness, nostalgia, etc.

I’ve made some new friends here and that has been so good, too. I wore my Runrig jacket to Yarndale and met three different people who had been in Stirling for The Last Dance and who stopped me to talk about Runrig. That was most exciting!!

I’d love to return for another visit and next time I’d plan more and have a larger budget. But really, for me the experience of living in another country and just savouring the days and everyday sights has been the best thing ever! I had a similar experience in Mexico City back in 1987, when I was there for a week on my way back from a work-related trip to Costa Rica (the world’s first all-organic foods and products trade show; my boss and I represented four or five Canadian growers) and so I learned that for me, living like a native of another country is one of the most exciting things I can do.

I haven’t done much here, either, but did go with Karen to Saltaire, a World Heritage Site, and that was lots of fun, too. I particularly enjoyed the David Hockney exhibition at Salts Mill, The Arrival of Spring.  That was especially interesting because the paintings were all created on an ipad, then printed out, five feet tall. There were signs saying it was ok to take photos so long as we didn’t use a flash, and I checked and it was true, so I have pictures of some of the images that most spoke to me.

There are a few sites here to visit still, like Lister Park and the art gallery there. So I shall have plenty to write about once I’m settled in BC again. I’m feeling ready to post regularly again, which I think is a good sign.

The other two things are Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, on 05 November and the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, a very important day for me. When I made Peace Poppies for the installation last year, I kept one for myself and I shall be wearing it this year and attending one of the ceremonies, most likely in Bradford.

I haven’t forgotten my 500 winners, either, although I’m sure they think I have. I started and then scrapped several ideas and now I think I’m going to go for something more simple and just get it done.

I’ve been working on a crocheted string bag for Karen these past weeks, I’ve finished my second pair of socks and have decided I like them so much I shall frog back the two pairs of Fair Isle style socks (three of them are up past the ankle, too). But re-making them on 2mm needles will make them both more attractive and longer-wearing. I like darning socks, but have no intention of making it a weekly event! 🙂

I’m knitting a sort of hat now, mostly because I know the cold weather is on its way; we’ve already had one fire and I’ve been using a hot water bottle for weeks now. And two thick duvets! I’m lovely and toasty warm at night, though. So nice!

I’ve done some rock painting and some watercolours, nothing wonderful but plenty of fun as I can sit at my lovely tall window and enjoy the view as I work. I shall be taking a teacher’s advice from when I lived in Victoria, BC. He said to never throw out a watercolour you are not happy with. Instead, cut it into small squares and sort them by colour into envelopes. Once you have enough, use them in collages. I’ve been doing some writing again, too, but nothing spectacular; just that I enjoy the doing.

I walk up to the allotment every few days, taking the bucket of compost material as a contribution. Karen’s friends have the allotment and during the summer we would find a bag of some delicious treat or other on the front door. And so I made the acquaintance of English runner beans . . . I shall be growing these next summer, even if I have to plant them in pots or buckets! Huge and delicious and wonderful in a frittata as well as on their own. If you’ve never tried them, do!

I bought two fresh mackerel when Karen was in New York for three weeks and the new room-mate hadn’t moved in yet (so the fishy smell wouldn’t be a problem; smells from the kitchen rise to the top of the house and we all know how fish lingers for ages . . . I stuffed them very lightly with chopped garlic and basil and fried them in a cast iron pan. Oh my word!! I would eat them every day if I lived here on my own!! And they were quite large, but only one pound each, so a real bargain. It seemed a shame to live here, where fresh fish abounds and in such variety, too, and not to try some at least once. I’d almost forgotten how much I love fresh fish.

When I was in Surrey, a new friend and I drove to Littlehampton and I bought fresh cod fish and chips and we ate them at a table by the beach. Unforgettable!

When I was a child, Dad and sometimes my brothers would bring home brook trout for supper. And when I was a very young Mum, living on South Pender Island (in the Gulf Islands that lie between Vancouver on the mainland and Vancouver Island, the Big Island), we would fish for rock cod at least twice a week (successfully, too!) and bake them whole in a cast iron frying pan. We dug clams and pried mussels off the rocks, too, and those went into chowders that we would eat three meals a day until they were gone, then we’d make another one. Somehow, I have never tired of any food that I love.

I had some excellent fish and chips at my host’s in Surrey, too, and before I go I plan to try a place in Shipley, where we do our grocery shopping. It was highly recommended to me by one of the lovely taxi drivers.

You know, I was warned several times about Bradford before I moved here, but my experiences have all been most positive. Everyone I’ve met has been friendly and helpful and interesting to chat with. So sometimes I think it’s what we bring to an encounter that defines it most.

Well, it’s late now and I’m tired of fixing the typos that occur in nearly every paragraph. I hope I’ve gotten them all out; if not, please forgive me.

I’ve dropped by the blogs written by many of you, sometimes leaving comments, more often just a ‘like’ to show I’ve been by.

I’d love to tell you about this house and the neighbourhood, and so much more, too, but I’ll leave all that for another post. In the meantime, stay warm (or cool, if you’re on the other side of the world). I’ve missed blogging and am really looking forward to resuming on a more regular basis.

Love and Light to each one of you, my friends. You are in my thoughts every day.  ~ Linne

For music, I have only one piece to offer. This is the Tweed Ceilidh band, who played at the Ceilidh I didn’t attend in Stirling. Everyone who did see them loved them!

On other fronts . . .

Hello, my friends! I am sorry I’ve been so neglectful, but life has been full and happy since I last posted. And busy! I’ll be continuing to post about my creative endeavours and all the usual ‘random harvest’ of thoughts and events and activities.

However, I have finally gotten a travel blog up and running. I had great plans (aren’t plans easy? Compared to executing them . . .) and wanted to have two blogs for my travels, one for family and friends and another for my grandchildren and other young people who might be interested. It’s taken me a while to get used to the tablet, though, and to figure out how to handle getting my photos uploaded without doing so one at a time. The tablet’s storage space is small and the little external drive I bought, which worked well with the laptop at home, just won’t talk to the tablet! Grumpy-making, for sure. But I have settled for only uploading the photos I use in a post and not all the photos. Those I am backing up to a 64gig flash drive. These are memories I really don’t want to lose! Anyway . . .

The new travel blog, which has two contributors, Flora (a mini sheep) and Bestemor (me, because that’s what my grandchildren call me). Feel free to visit when you have time and see what I’ve been up to. I’ve only three posts up so far, but will be adding more as time allows. I’m dating in the titles so you will know when stuff was happening, as the posts are not going to be in sequence by time experienced.

If you are interested, go here:  Gypsies: Flora and Bestemor [Another Great Adventure]

I had a marvellous time in Alba (Scotland) and the wedding was perfect! I wore my Meg shawl, too, although it still doesn’t have the finishing touches added. I absolutely love it!

The wedding was in Edinburgh on 18 May and I was able to watch the Royal Wedding the following day on my tablet at the hostel. Posts about all my adventures in Scotland and since then in England will follow.

I have been busy knitting since I arrived (with a little help from wee Flora):

Remember the Clover Colours socks? Well, here they are today:

Yes, they are done (and the yarn ends neatly darned in, too; I refused to allow myself to wear them until that was taken care of. I’m doing my best to mend some of my errant ways). They are SO comfy and I simply love them! No turning back for me, now.

I am beyond grateful to Ms. Snail for her recommendation of using the smallest dpns (2 mm or size zero are what I used) to achieve a dense, cushiony fabric that will wear well and so require darning further into the future. I’ll let you know when I have to make the first mend, but don’t hold your breath . . . for one thing, I’m wearing my cotton socks to work in t stable or field and even around the house if the days are warm.

Because of her recommendation, and after seeing the lovely results (and comparing the socks with the Fair Isle style ones that are still on the needles, I made the drastic decision to do this . . .

. . . yes, on 11 June I frogged the whole sock (well, half a sock, really, as it was just past the heel). And then I picked up my new favourite dpns and . . .

. . . began again. And now, as you can see, both socks are nearly up to the beginning of the heel. I think I have another ten rows or so to knit. And I am on my way to creating a Sock Drawer of my very own.

Another project that I began some years ago began as one of my ‘make it up as you go along’ creations. I had read about a jumper that was begun at one sleeve cuff and knitted across horizontally to the other cuff, increasing and decreasing and leaving openings as one went along. Sounded like fun to me . . . But I was using the yarn I had and it proved to be a bit heavy, considering that I was also working a Fair Isle style design into the sleeve. So in the end I changed my goal and decided this would make an excellent, if unique, knitted bag. The straps are different, as the less decorative one (small upper picture) is meant to be worn next to the body, with the other strap (large picture) worn facing outward.

The spiral piece is crocheted and was created to fill the hole at the bottom of the bag, once the place for a hand to pass through. Yesterday and today I have been:

joining the circle to the opening, using a crochet hook and slipstitches. It’s worked out rather well, I think. When I created the spiral piece I worked alternately with the pink and blue, switching to only pink for the last two rounds. Those two rounds I did not use any increase stitches, so the spiral took on a very shallow basket shape and its ‘wall’ is what I joined to the cast-on row of the former sleeve. I have yet to work in the yarn ends and I still have to decide if I am going to use a button and loop to fasten the two straps together. And what sort of button. And what colour . . . oh, the decisions . . .

And in the meantime . . .

This is young Cassie, a yearling filly and a miniature Gypsy cob. She looks rather wild with her mane blowing about, but is gentle, yet spirited. She is in a field with an older mare, a Thoroughbred and I am lucky in that I am allowed to feed them every morning (I prepare the food in the evenings unless my friend Veronica has already done it. I also get to groom Cassie as well as the two Gypsy cobs and two rescue donkeys in the adjoining field. When I was twelve or thirteen I was as horse-crazy as any young girl and begged for a horse of my own. Not a practical thing for a large family. My parents were sure I would grow out of it. I wonder when that will happen . . .

I also put out cat food for the feral cat here and it has shown itself to me twice  before today.

There is a big adventure (for me, that is) planned for Monday (tomorrow) and I shall have photos and a story to share. When I put out feed for any animal I always make a distinctive sound so that they come to know me and become friendly. With the horses it’s a two-note low whistle. For the cat it’s more of a ps, ps, psss sound. Today it came just after I filled the dish and called it.  And it allowed me to come quite close before retreating to its den under a thick mass of tree branches and shrubbery. But I got a photo first . . .

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This is one of my favourite colourings for cats and I adore long-hairs . . . I hope I get to pet this one before I have to leave.

I’ll be back soon; there is so much more to share with you all. In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful week from Chota Farm:

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Oh, I forgot to mention . . . I’m on Instagram and have been posting a few photos there, if you are interested. Search for Another_Great_Adventure, ask to follow me and I shall grant you entrance! I had some odd people wanting to follow me, so have kept the account private for now. But any of you, my friends, are more than welcome.

It’s too late to search for music, sorry. Maybe next time.

Instagram: Another_Great_Adventure

Travel blog

The Dancing Goes On . . .

You’ll need a large cup of tea or whatever you fancy, and possibly something edible, too. This is rather long, even for me . . . my excuse is that I’m making up for the long gap between posts. But even if I posted regularly, I’m not sure I’d be much better at brevity.

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There was a lovely parcel in the mail for me on the 2nd of March and the photo above shows what was in it (along with a lovely note). Back before Christmas, Ms. Snail of The Snail of Happiness blog had a give-away to celebrate her 1000th post. I was one of the winners and this package contains my prize. And what a prize it is!

Of course, it arrived the day after my eye surgery, so it was a while before I could properly appreciate the contents. But I have had a quick browse through the cookbook “Free Food for Rats” (although I still haven’t found an explanation for the title, which I find both endearing and intriguing) and it is SO my sort of thing. Ms. Snail had no way of knowing that I have a small collection of cookbooks of very eclectic sorts and that this will be very treasured and used for the rest of my days. My cookbooks, of course (and 99.9% of my other books), are still in the storage units and likely to remain there for another year, but I am enjoying browsing through this one and planning future feasts. The author is a friend of the Snails and that adds to its appeal for me.

This is my first cookbook with seven recipes whose names begin with ‘X’; there are many Asian (from China, Malaysia & Indonesia) recipes here. Also some family recipes from Germany; along with recipes from France & Spain, Holland and Wales.

I love the anecdotes that accompany the recipes, sharing where the dish was first eaten, who made it for her, or other details that I yearn for, being a person who loves plenty of ‘background’ to anything and everything.

But when I read the recipe for ‘Kota Bharu Special’ and saw that the ingredients included “a large knob of butter,  2 handfuls of dessicated coconut and 1 handful of caster sugar”, I knew this would become one of my favourite cookbooks. This is cooking as my foremothers knew it, more art and less science lab and all the better for it in my opinion.

The other two books are equally special to me; for one thing, they are Mr. Snail’s first two novels, for another, the covers captivated me even before I opened them. On the back of the first book, “Batdig” (whose meaning and origins I have yet to discover) are these words:

Twelve People
Eleven yellow packages
One destination

AT 9.25, EVERYTHING CHANGES

The first twelve chapters introduce us to twelve characters, and each (I’m assuming, as I’m only up to person 3 so far) is given a mysterious package wrapped in yellow plastic and told to deliver it to a destination near St. Paul’s Cathedral at 9.25 am.  I like the cover design very much, as it resembles the yellow packages and includes silhouettes of the Cathedral.

By the time I’d read the first three pages, I was captivated. I’m not the easiest audience to captivate, either, as I’ve read thousands of books in my life and many of those were mysteries or mystery/thrillers. I wish I could read more quickly, but my near vision is not up to the task and I still haven’t located my glasses (well, to be honest, I haven’t put much time into searching; I’ve been busy with other things, as you will see shortly). I am reading two or three pages most days, though, and I have to say that I love Mr. Snail’s style very much. The characters I’ve met are quite real to me already and I’m very eager to discover what happens to them all once I’ve met the rest of the cast.

The second novel I haven’t begun, as I prefer to read an author’s works in the order they are published, as a rule, anyway. It is titled “Kirkenes Blue” and again I have no idea why (yet!). On the back it says:

In the polar night:
A Librarian afraid of the dark
A Policeman afraid of the light
A Hacker who collects kicksleds

Together, they can destroy the Web

Now I don’t know about you, but for me those are nearly irresistible words. Especially ‘kicksleds’ (I haven’t googled that yet). However I am resisting them until I am finished exploring “Batdig”.  I’ll let you know what I learn (well, some, anyway; I don’t like to spoil a good book for a potential reader) at some time in the future. Stay tuned . . .

i have continued to make progress with the first of the red pair of wool socks; it is now above the ankle and I have suspended work while I decide whether or not to add a design next and, if so, what exactly. I have some ideas, though. I am still not too happy with the shape of the toe, but that’s ok; I’ve only recently begun knitting socks again, after a hiatus of some decades. The other thing I’m not happy about are the stitches at the sides of the heel, where I was to pick up both a wrap and the stitch the wrap encircles at the same time. If you have never knitted socks with this technique, just ignore this paragraph. I’m not competent to explain the procedure adequately. I shall likely shape the second sock in the same way, just to keep them similar, and in any case, my feet will be warm and the offending bits should be safely out of sight in my shoes. 🙂

The shawl I plan to wear to the wedding on 18 May is coming right along and I am more than happy with it. But, as usual for me, I am not following the pattern to the letter. I decided that the shawl, for whatever reason, is a bit shorter than I’d thought it would be. So I have taken the second skein of wool and wound it into a ball and have been busy crocheting a second triangle, which will form the other half of the shawl once they are joined together. This way I can continue to increase until I gauge I have enough left to complete the border and the dangly bits. And I am toying with the idea of ordering a third skein, just in case I decide to make it longer than the yarn allows. I could use the leftover yarn to make a pair of fingerless gloves or a small hat or . . .

Our meals here continue to be simple and yet amazingly delicious. These photos are of the pizza we had for dinner several nights a couple of weeks ago. Cousin M and I helped with the veggie chopping and Cousin S put it all together after she made the crust. She is very precise in her work, as you can tell. And the results are lovely as well as tasty.

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We went to Vernon just over a week ago and I loved the sight of these frozen ‘waterfalls’ along the highway. We went again a few days ago and most of them are melted and gone.

These will likely be the last pictures of huge piles of snow, as temperatures have been above freezing in the daytimes and even here in our narrow valley, or whatever it should be called, it’s beginning to feel as though Spring is really on its way. I love the smell of the damp earth as it’s revealed to us again. And in spite of the amount of snow remaining (and it’s entirely possible we shall have more before it’s gone forever), I found myself itching to get out and plant things . . .

The willows are beginning to colour up and we have spotted pussywillows and catkins here and there, too. Spring, indeed! But not yet . . . You can see the puddles in the road just south of our place, and that’s not entirely a good sign. We had minimal flooding here last year, but the year before the car had to be parked out on the road and Cousin S couldn’t get to it for work until she had a new pair of wellies brought to her. a few days later, the water was so deep it was higher than the boots. The water came up to the top of the bottom step of the porch that year, partly thanks to a neighbour a few houses away. A renter, he had filled in the ditch outside his place a year or so earlier (flooding doesn’t happen every year and it never occurred to him that it might happen one day).

All the other residents along this part of the road put in larger culverts under their driveways, but this one owner refused, so when there is a lot of snow, the water backs up and floods properties ‘upstream’ from there. When it floods the road, the highway maintenance people come out and deal with it, but otherwise, it’s every person for themselves, apparently. We are hoping for a gradual melt this year, but are prepared to face whatever comes.

The bottom photo is of Mount Ida, taken on a sunny day from outside our grocery store at the Uptown location.

Cousin M got up on the roof and pushed most of the snow off. When I looked out mu window later, I thought the lumps resembled giant sugarcubes and took these photos to remind me later. They are about a foot and a half on each side.

Baked potato, salad and steak cubes one night, Quinoa, salad and the rest of the steak another night. I’m the only one who eats quinoa here, but I’m using up my supplies of ‘odd foods’ before I go away. Quinoa, brown basmati rice, oat flour (although I use that in my scones now and they are quite delicious, if I do say so myself). I think there is still soem buckwheat and the like to use up, too.

As I was wiping my runners off one day I noticed these lovely astilbe plants in the snow right beside the front porch and took a couple of photos. The silhouettes are so delicate against the snow, aren’t they?

On the second trip to Vernon the cousins were going to shop for a new computer and dropped me off at Fabricland to browse for a bit. I hadn’t been aware there was a rack of remnants quite near to the door, but this time it caught my eye. The pictures at the bottom right are of the first fabric that caught my eye; then I chose several others that co-ordinate quite nicely. And then I saw the black strip with the floral design . . . I have been thinking of what to do with it. I’m reluctant to cut it up and I’m thinking it may make an interesting scarf. I tied it around my neck to see if that might work. Of course, it wouldn’t be worn over the red and black lumberjack shirt . . . 🙂  Serger thread was on sale, so I purchased four spools of that, too. And then I spotted the knitting needles. Double-pointed sock needles in sets of five, my preference. And for only $4.00 CAD with 40% off at the till because I have a membership. Very nice and most irresistible . . . They are already in sue, too, as you will see shortly.

The larger picture above is of an old farmhouse that I love looking at when we go by. Just what I’d love to have (well, one of the types I’d love to have; I have rather eclectic tastes in houses, too). The smaller pictures are of the barn and the farmhouse that are now owned and lived in (the house, not the barn lol) by another cousin, the daughter of my Dad’s oldest brother. We lived across the road in a motel when I was seven and we had just moved up here from the coast. It belonged to another family then. Later, my uncle and aunt bought it and raised their daughter there. I worked for them one summer picking strawberries in the front field. The house has had a couple of rooms and a large porch added across the front, so it took me a while to recognize it when I first returned here. It just didn’t match my memories. In those days it was simple brown shingles outside, similar to the house in the larger picture.

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I have been doing a bunch of small tasks as I prepare for my trip; here you can see the rosemary and lavender that I grew in a large planter last summer. I had sage, too, but we needed sage for the Christmas turkey stuffing, so I offered it up . . . most years Cousin M simply digs some out from under the snow, but this year we’ve had more than usual of the white stuff. Back in late summer, I chopped a good handful of these three and infused them in a mixture of oils to create my own hair oil. I’ve used it on my hair a few times and am more than pleased with the results.

I apply a few teaspoons of the oil to my hair, then sit in a very hot tub for about an hour, after which I wash the oil out using the “No ‘Poo” method, which involves washing the hair with warm water and some baking soda, then rinsing with warm water and a bit of vinegar. This gives hair a lovely soft finish and a bit of shine, too. The oil is meant to give a bit of natural colour, but I haven’t used it enough to say if that works or not. I’m considering making a hair rinse with vinegar and water and some of the above herbs chopped finely into it. If I do, I’ll let you know how it works.

Progress on plans for the trip has been quite satisfying, too. I have now booked two nights in the Tartan Lodge Hostel in Glasgow for my first two nights in Scotland. This will give me a day in between to walk about and see the sights. One thing I really want to see, whether I can see inside it or not, is the Barrowland Ballroom. Some memorable concerts have taken place there, including a few with Runrig, and it’s possible that Cousin M’s Dad might have gone there while he was stationed in Scotland during the war. For the first part of his service he was in a forestry outfit and stationed on a great estate. I don’t remember the name just now, but will find out before I leave.

GLA Tartan Lodge Hostel 01

http://www.tartanlodge.co.uk/pictures.html

That’s the Tartan Lodge Hostel above and the Barrowland Ballroom below.

GLA Barrowland Ballroom 01

I’m including a video from December, 1989, when Runrig played here. At about 2 minutes in, you can see some historic footage of the original Barrowland Ballroom, full of people dancing. (there are some nice shots of the MacDonald brothers, too, runnning in one segment and further on working on a sheep farm along with a lovely Border Collie). There are some interviews with fans, too, including one girl from Germany who says she saw them 27 times, in four countries, that year.

I shall check out early on the 16th of May and catch a train to Edinburgh, about an hour and a half away. If the trains have been held up due to rain, which apparently happens at times, I will have to take a bus. The train would be more comfortable, I think, especially since I will have both a large suitcase and a backpack.

There is a lunch planned for the 16th for all the wedding guests who are coming from overseas and I’m looking forward to that, too. I know the bride’s parents and sister, as well as some of her friends, from when she and I worked together at Lewiscraft in Edmonton.

I shall be staying at the High Street Hostel in Edinburgh for six nights in all, so I shall have time to see a few sights. Apparently the hostel is walking distance from Edinburgh Castle, with Arthur’s Seat next to it, and a few other places of interest, including the statue of Greyfriars Bobby; I read about this faithful dog as a child and since, too, and it will be thrilling to see the statue for myself.

EDI High Street Hostel 01

http://www.highstreethostel.com/

The Royal wedding is on the day after my friends’ wedding, so I will not be in London for that, unfortunately. Still, I have been told that many of the pubs will show it on their tv sets and that there are likely to be street parties that evening. I shall see how rowdy it is, but I may venture out for a bit just to be part of the fun.

Remember I said I’d bought two more sets of sock needles? In size ‘0’, by the way, which is 2mm in size. I read in a post by Ms. Snail that if socks are knitted on smaller needles and also more tightly, they wear better and so won’t need darning as quickly. So here is what those two sets are doing now:

This is the latest in my sock creations and so far the ones I am happiest with. The yarn is Kroy sock yarn, so washable, and the colour is a variegate called “Clover Colours”. I fell in love with the colours back when I ordered the moss green wool for the shawl for the wedding.

The balls are very dis-similar in colour (as you may be able to see from the first photo), so it’s not possible to make a pair of matched socks, well, not exactly, anyway.  I found a way around that, though. What I have done is to pull the yarn from inside to begin one sock and use the yarn from the outside for the second. It’s working out even better than I’d hoped. I found a different pattern to work from, too, so I’m more pleased with the toes. In future, I shall begin with more stitches so as to have a more usual rounded toe instead of the point. I’d forgotten how addictive sock knitting can be; now I see that one day not far off I shall have my own ‘sock drawer’, full of handmade knitted socks.

I’ve saved the best news for last: I now have a ‘home base’ from which to make as many smaller journeys as I can manage. I will be staying with a friend of my friends in Tacoma. He owns property in Surrey, south of London. So I shall likely see more of the ‘Big Smoke’ than I expected, an added bonus.

I will be returning to Canada in late October or early November, not staying for a year or more as I had hoped. One of my incomes would be stopped if I were away over six months and I can’t manage at present without it, so I shall simply have to pack everything in that I possibly can before I have to come back. I find it rather ironic that I must live here even when there is currently a near-zero vacancy rate and what little is offered to rent now has sky-high prices. But that’s how it is, for now. So the long-term plans continue to morph and that’s fine with me.

There is more news about one planned trip, but I shall save that for another post. It’s getting late here and I have to be up early, as I’m having my right eye measured in the morning in preparation for the second surgery. I’m feeling quite positive about this one, as the one week exam showed that I have regained 90% of my sight in the left eye and in early May I shall have laser treatment to remove the remaining cloudiness. So in the end, I shall probably have sight better than I’ve had most of my life.

Now, let’s have a little music, shall we?

Faileas Air An Airigh sung by Rory MacDonald (and the rest of Runrig) with the Glasgow Islay Gaelic Choir. The title translates as “Shadow on the Sheiling”. A Sheiling is a rough hut or shelter used by those herding cattle or sheep in more remote pastures.
The lyrics translated into English:

There’s a shadow on the sheiling
A shadow on the sheiling
The ship is waiting at the head of the bay
Early on a May morning

The sun of our memory is rising
The sun of our memory is rising
Walking the streets of foreign countries
And the cities of another era

The evening is calm and the skies are warm
The sun is in the west, a great ball of gold
The ocean is like a mirror, blue without blemish
And great is my desire to be in Uist with you

We will lift up our voices
We will lift up our voices
Although I am now so far from you
We will never sever

And here are Runrig singing An Ubhal As Airde with the Bethany Choir in Harlem, NY, USA. The title means “The Highest Apple”. Runrig were in New York as part of a charitable concert after 9/11.

The Highest Apple
The garden is well stocked
With mighty trees
With fruit growing for the whole world
Ripe, sweet
And bitter apples
And the one apple
That is beyond reach

The winds will blow
And the sun will shine
From generation to generation
Through the trees of the garden
But the day and the hour
Will surely come
To take the highest apple
From the knowledge tree

Who amongst us
Can exist a single day
Beyond our own time and our own limits
Countless and futile
Are times I’ve climbed
To reach and taste
The forbidden fruit

The winds will blow
And the sun will shine
From generation to generation
Through the trees of the garden
But the day and the hour
Will surely come
To take the highest apple
From the knowledge tree

Last, something different.
One of my favourite violin pieces is this: Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins
featuring Pinchas Zuckerman and Itzach Perlman, conducted by Daniel Barenboim
My youngest son played this with his closest friend and it brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience.

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Enjoy the good in the world and know that the rest will pass . . . I think of you all as I knit and first thing in the morning most days, too.

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

Passing on the Light 01

Three Things / Thankful on Thursday

Thankful on Thursday

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

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

crochet spread teal white mango 01

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

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

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

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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.