Author Archives: Ev

About Ev

Living and loving life in the beautiful Okanagan!

Shopping

I will admit it: I really don’t like clothes shopping. Sometimes, though, a girl needs to replenish her wardrobe. For instance, I usually wear jeans to work; it’s the kind of job I can get away with wearing casual clothes. I bought some skinny jeans at Old Navy last year and I’ve been wearing them a lot. However, they’re starting to wear and before they reach the embarrassing stage, I decided it was time to get myself at least one more pair.

I went back to Old Navy last week. Yeah… for about five minutes. There were way too many people and no empty change rooms. I left. Empty handed.

This weekend, I decided to try my luck at Mark’s Work Wearhouse. I found a pair of pea green jeans that fit beautifully. They’re a little on the long side but I can fix that. I also found a great pair of blue jeans in the same size. I didn’t bother to try on the blue jeans as I had tried on the green jeans. They’re the same size; one’s a straight leg, the other is a skinny leg.

Once I got them home, I thought I’d model the jeans, and the blouse I also bought, for John. The green jeans and the blouse… he liked them. Then I tried on the blue jeans. My foot went through the knees. What the??? Both knees have holes!! That’s not what I wanted! Heck, I’m buying new jeans to replace the jeans that ALMOST have holes!

When they say “Buyer Beware”, I guess they were talking to me. They’re going back tomorrow!

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Categories: Blogging, Shopping, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s Been a Busy Weekend!

There are times my weekends are so busy that I look forward to my work week. Right now, at about 4:30 on Monday evening, I’m almost feeling that way. I said almost, okay? I’ve had a very productive weekend, though it didn’t feel that way at times. It was relaxing but, in looking back, I managed to get a lot done.

Just today, I finished knitting the pieces for one of another pair of slippers; this time it’s The Options Slipper pattern, not a freebie but a comfy looking slipper, another one of Kris Basta’s designs. The pieces knit up quickly and I like how the finished slipper looks. I’ll knit all the pieces before I sew mine together.

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This weekend, I managed to finish two pairs of slippers, knitted one of a pair, and almost finished knitting John’s felted clogs. I was hoping to have them finished today but won’t quite make it. I have one more sole to knit then seam together before I can felt them. I could finish them tonight but I have a little bit of a headache and don’t want to push it. Besides, the weather’s turned mild again and slippers aren’t quite as important as they were last weekend, when the temperatures were well below freezing.

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In addition to all the knitting, I put together a beef stew for tonight’s dinner and for leftovers this week. Leftover stew, with dumplings, makes a great workday lunch…. tasty and filling. I also made a loaf of Sourdough Whole Wheat and Rye bread, made with some of the discard starter that’s been waiting to be used. It turned out amazingly well, considering I didn’t have some of the ingredients the recipe called for. Seriously, I KNOW I have caraway and anise seeds somewhere in this house. Do you think I could find them? Anyway, the bread turned out really well, very tasty and should make some good sandwiches this week (if John doesn’t eat it all while I’m at work). I’ll definitely make this bread again.

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The stew turned out really well this time, too, better than my usual stew. I don’t use a recipe but this time I did things a little differently than I usually do, added a few ingredients I don’t normally add. Like what, you ask? Well, I threw in a little of my homemade apple cider vinegar and some tomato sauce. I don’t normally add those but I know that vinegar can help to break down the connective tissue in beef. There isn’t enough there that you can taste it, just a tablespoon or two. I thought the tomato might boost the beef flavour (again, just a tablespoon or two) and I was right. I can taste the tomato but it isn’t overwhelming, just an accent. All that’s left is to make the dumplings.

I had planned on making some body butter to help combat dry winter skin but, when I looked at what the ingredients were going to cost, I decided to buy a ready made, locally produced body butter. Once I got home, I indulged in a lovely, hot, candle lit bath. It was so relaxing, so enjoyable, and the scent of the new body butter so relaxing (it contains jasmine and ylang ylang in addition to a few other essential oils)… I might just have to have another bath tonight.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, bread, Cooking, Finished, Kitchen, Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slippers

With cooler weather upon us, and still some snow on the ground, slippers seem to have become the project of the month. I have two pairs on the go, John’s felted clogs and a pair of house slippers.

The Bosnian/Siberian slippers are off the needles; all that remains is the weaving in of ends. That’s so much fun…. not. It’s one of those little jobs that only, really, takes a few minutes but it’s tedious. I’m really pleased with the slippers, though. They’re colourful and they’re cute.

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Here you can see a bit more of how they’re constructed. They’re worked from the top down and once the upper foot is at the required length, the sole is worked in short rows to the back of the heel.

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The short rows continue up the back of the heel, picking up stitches along both edges. It’s a pretty ingenious method of knitting them, really. The garter stitch fabric feels cushy and I love the contrast between the multi-coloured yarn and the blue.

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If you do decide to make these, there’s one minor change I would make; instead of using  straight needles, I’d recommend using a circular needle. It has more give. As you can see, there’s quite a bend in the knitting. The center point becomes a little awkward to work on straight needles; that said, it’s definitely doable, just easier on circulars.

I’ve also started another pair of slippers for the basket. This time it’s a pattern by Kris Basta, aka KrisKrafter. This is the Better Dorm Boot slipper pattern (available free through Ravelry). The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, held double.

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These are going to be thick. I have one off the needles already and just draping it over my foot feels so cozy and warm. I might find myself wearing these rather than putting them in the basket for guests. The pattern, again, is an easy one to follow and well written. Again, these can be knit on straight needles but I found that, after a while, I was feeling the weight in my hands (I’m not a kid anymore, yanno?) so I switched to a circular needle instead. That made a big difference for me.

John’s felted clogs are coming along, too. One slipper is off the needles and just needs the second sole finishing. If all goes as planned, he could be wearing them by the end of this weekend.

And, speaking of this weekend….

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Categories: Blogging, In Memoriam, Knitting, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Knitting Kind of Day

It really is a knitting kind of day. Winter has decided to come early to our area. This week, we received a few inches of the white stuff. Pretty but, in the words of a much younger Ethan, I no like it. Night time temperatures have been hovering around -10ºC, with daytime temperatures around -1ºC.

When the temperatures are like that, it’s good to get your hands into wool. John desperately needs a new pair of slippers… again. I’ve been making him slippers almost yearly for a few years now. As long as he likes them, I’ll keep making them. This year, we’re going with a heathery brown with burgundy trim. I bought the yarn, then asked his opinion. Thankfully, he likes the combo.

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The pattern I’m using, as usual, is the Fibretrends Felted Clog pattern by Bev Galeskas, AC-33. I had to purchase the pattern because I can’t find the one I originally bought. I’m sure it will turn up somewhere but, I must say, the new version of the pattern, printed on white rather than the turquoise they used to print on, is much easier to read and follow.

At this point, I have the first sole worked, ready to start on the upper part of the slipper. It does take some concentration to knit these, which is why I only completed the sole last night. After all, drinking a glass or two of wine while knitting isn’t terribly conducive to concentration. Better safe than sorry. As the lottery corporation ads say, “Know your limit. Play within it.”

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The last pair I made… now in tatters.

I’ve also decided that we should have some house slippers handy for when Kristen and the kids (and/or whoever else) come to visit. The floors here can be chilly and, obviously, we really don’t want people leaving wet, snowy boots on in the house. A basket of slippers near the door would be a good thing. I do have a few pairs here but they’re old and they’re wearing out.

I set out to find a pattern. I didn’t want anything difficult; no felting because those are made to fit specific feet; as little sewing as possible; something appealing because no one wants to wear ugly slippers. I mean, seriously, would you wear ugly slippers?

In my Ravelry search, I came across a few patterns based on a Russian/Bosnian slipper. I downloaded three versions of the pattern and drove across town to Michaels to buy some inexpensive acrylic yarn (I want to be able to throw these slippers into the washing machine as needed without worrying about shrinkage). I came home with three skeins, one variegated and two solid colours, navy blue and dark green.

Then, last night, while John was napping, I cast on for the first slipper, in the small size for testing purposes. By the time bedtime came around, I had one slipper finished.

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Ends still need to be woven in

I’m impressed with the pattern. The whole slipper is knit in one piece on straight needles, although I did switch to a circular about half way through because the increase area at the top of the foot creates a 90º angle that bunches up a bit on straight needles. There’s no sewing up at all, only weaving in a few ends. And they’re cute. I’d wear these if my feet were cold (I like my Crocs with woolen socks) and someone offered me a pair to warm my toes.

The pattern I used is Slip Stitch Slippers by Nailya Plaskey. It’s well written, easy to follow, and turned out very well. The only small change I made was in the heel area. The sole is worked on 11 stitches from the toe to the heel; for the heel area, I decreased gradually from 11 stitches to 7 stitches, only because ankles are narrower than heels and I think it may help the slippers hug better. We’ll see.

Now, breakfast and tidying up. Then…… Knit on!

Categories: Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sick Day

I dislike being sick; I dislike (sort of) taking days off work because I’m sick. However, this cold is lingering and today, I woke up with a bit of an earache and a bit of a fever. I’m hoping it isn’t an infection, whether ear or sinus. That would really suck. That said, it’s definitely a stay at home and look after myself day.

This past weekend, Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, was spent looking after everyone else. Saturday was spent finalizing the menu and making as much ahead of time as I could. In this case, that was a batch of Smokey Pumpkin Soup (a recipe that came from my sister, Grace), two pies (a gluten free Dutch Apple Pie and a gluten free Pumpkin Pie… an afterthought), and mashed potatoes, in addition to getting the chicken into a brining solution. I think that’s it. Oh… also a batch of slow cooker stuffing (dressing). By Sunday morning, all that was left to do were the vegetables and the chicken.

After making the soup, I had a full quart of puree left so I decided to bake a pumpkin pie. I’ve never made Pumpkin Pie. I remember my mother made it once and no one liked it. I’m pretty sure the filling was out of a can so that may have had something to do with it. It may have been the texture. After all, I’m definitely not a custard person and, basically, the filling is nothing more than a baked custard. It wasn’t bad, not something I’d swoon over but not bad. With the remaining cup or so, I made a batch of Pumpkin muffins, which really turned out well.

DSCN1302 The Sweet Dumpling Squashes will be dinner another day; I’m still exploring recipes. If you know a good way of doing them, let me know! For now, they’re part of my table/Thanksgiving decor (a fancy word for centerpiece, in this case.

We decided to have our dinner on Sunday, the day before Thanksgiving, because Kristen had to work on Monday. The company she works also has outlets in the US and someone needs to be in the local office on days when we have holidays but they don’t. I didn’t mind as that gave me  Monday to “destress”. So, what do I do to destress? Yup, did more cooking.

The leftover Brussels sprouts (for once, they didn’t all get eaten) were turned into Brussels Sprouts Gratin…. delicious! Basically, it’s just the sprouts with heavy cream, cheese, and a panko topping. What’s NOT to like, right? They tasted much better than plain old reheated Brussels Sprouts.

Some of the leftover mashed potatoes (to which I added half a head of cauliflower that really needed to be used up) went into a batch of potato bread. The chicken carcass was transformed into a delicious chicken noodle soup with dumplings, my new favourite comfort food. I was in bed by 8:30 p.m.

Maybe I overdid it a bit but, I must say, everything turned out extremely well. We had a wonderful dinner, with good company (Kristen and the kids) and no one went to bed hungry. DSCN1306

Categories: Baking, Blogging, bread, Cooking, Health, Holidays, Kitchen, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Result?

Well, it was a very successful baking day. Everything turned out great. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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Sourdough Bread, just out of the oven and looking good!

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Oh the smell… heavenly!!

And by this morning?

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Ok, a few slices went to my daughter so she can try it to see if she reacts to it like she does to regular bread.

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I think this one speaks for itself. I’m glad I made two pies, rather than one large pie.

Categories: Baking, bread, Cooking, Fermentation, Kitchen | Leave a comment

Busy, Busy, Busy

Busy in the kitchen, that is. I’ve been told before that I need to relax on the weekends. I do. Honestly. My happy place is my kitchen. And I can tell you that hot summers are not conducive to cooking and baking. Now that the weather has cooled, I have my happy place back and this weekend has been no exception.

Yesterday, I started a batch of sourdough bread, the kind that uses no added yeast…. REAL sourdough bread. Right now, it’s in its final rise. It’s been a process, let me tell you. It’s taken about three weeks to get my starter to the point where I could use it to bake the bread. Once I had the first stage of the dough mixed last night, I finished the dough this morning and it’s been slowly rising all day today. At the moment, the dough is rising in the bannettons I purchased and primed yesterday.

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Bannettons – bread proofing baskets made of willow cane

From the first time I saw these, I’ve wanted one or two (or maybe three or four) of them. They’re made of willow cane and they’re meant for proofing the bread dough. Once the dough is ready for baking, its tipped out of the basket and onto the parchment and into the oven.

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Right now, though, there’s a Dutch Apple Pie in the oven and another one is waiting in the fridge. I hadn’t intended on baking two apple pies but, once I had the apples I thought I’d need peeled, there were three left over. I asked John what he thought I should do and his answer made sense….. make two pies!….. so I peeled the remaining apples, and instead of one two crust pie, made two Dutch Apple Pies. Problem solved.

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I’ve used three kinds of apples for the pies – Gala, Fuji, and Honey Crisp. And just because I could, I decided to try a little experiment. All of the trimmings – peels, cores, seeds, and stems – were put into a jar with some sugar water. Hopefully, it will all become apple cider vinegar in a couple of months. Why not, right? It seems to be a fairly simple fermentation process and I’m into fermentation experimentation. The only thing I’ll be out if it doesn’t work is about 1/4 cup of sugar and time.

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And then there are the peanut butter cookies. I made those yesterday. About a year ago, or so, I bought a recipe magazine (when did they get so expensive, anyway???) from America’s Test Kitchen. In it was a recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies that sounded amazing. You know what? They’re pretty darned good. Crisp, flaky, peanutty and yummy. I still had a little bit of Skippy crunchy peanut butter left, just enough to make a batch of cookies, and I figured I’d best use it up before it went rancid.

Does commercial peanut butter go rancid??

Anyway, I know John loves peanut butter cookies (or any cookies for that matter) and he was thrilled when the cookies started coming out of the oven. Our only point of disagreement regarding cookies is that he likes them “well done” (aka burnt) while I like them on the blonde side so I made sure some of them were “well done”, just for him.

I love my husband.

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Experimental Sourdough

Yeah, I’ve made sourdough bread before. I’ve been baking it since I was first married, in 1975 (yes, I know, I’m old). That recipe, though wonderful, technically might not qualify as a “true” sourdough as it uses yeast to get the process started and uses more yeast in the bread dough. It never explained how to maintain the starter and keep it going for years and years. Mine always went bad after a couple of weeks.

Recently, I came across the King Arthur Flour website and their recipe for a true, totally from scratch (as in no added yeast) sourdough starter. I decided it was time for some experimentation. There’s only one small problem. Well, maybe two. First, the seasons have turned from summer, and its heat, to autumn and its chilliness. The second problem, when it comes to encouraging sourdough to get growing, is that we rarely turn any heat on until we don’t want to add any more layers of clothing to keep us warm. We never have the heat on during the day unless it’s just to take the chill off in the morning and the evening. That’s not terribly conducive to sourdough health; it likes warmth, preferably around 20ºC.

It took a while but I finally did start a healthy, vigorous sourdough starter, one that doesn’t seem to mind a bit of chilliness. I keep it above the stove so, when we’re doing any kind of cooking or have the stove light on, it does get warmth and it’s thriving.

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Today, is bread day… Well, at least it’s the start of the process. The intention is that I will be making a true sourdough bread without any added yeast. It’s a two day process. Today, I’ll be making the dough; tomorrow, it will be baked.

Stay tuned!

Categories: Baking, bread, Fermentation, Kitchen | 2 Comments

Ah, Time…. how you do fly!

It seems that when I feel the urge to blog, the first thing I do is apologize. How Canadian of me. So many times, I feel I “should” pay more attention to my blog but there are so many other things demanding my time. The blog moves to the back burner, ignored for another week. Then I remember why I started a blog in the first place. It isn’t for my followers, as much as you mean to me. I started it for myself, as a way of keeping track of what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and when. It’s a place for me to look back and say, “Oh yeah, I remember that and it was THAT long ago??”.

That said, I haven’t completely forgotten the blog. My last post was in January… Wow! Where does the time go? It’s now September. It’s been a crazy, busy year so far. There have been medical issues (not with me, I’m fine), there’s been work (which has been busier than ever), there’s been family stuff, there’s down time…… life, in other words.

And now, October is upon us. Time to pick it up, yes?

Yup! Let’s do it!

 

Categories: Blogging, Just stuff | Leave a comment

InCoWriMo 2017

What the heck, you ask, is InCoWriMo? I asked the same thing and when I found out, I jumped in with both feet. InCoWriMo is short for International Correspondence Writing Month. The whole idea is to write one letter every day for an entire month. Thankfully, the month chosen is February, the shortest month.

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Seeing as I’m already a member of Postcrossing, a worldwide post card exchange, and I love my fountain pens and am looking for any reason to use them, this is a natural progression. So far, I have 18 people slated to receive some kind of handwritten correspondence, some through Postcrossing, some through other forums I’m on.

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Want to learn more? You can check out the web page here. Why not consider joining me? It doesn’t have to be a letter, per se, just correspondence of some kind… a letter, a note, a postcard… whatever. You just have to write one every day. You can mail it, you can hand deliver it, either way is fine.

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And, honestly? Everyone loves getting mail that isn’t a bill.Don’t you? Would you like to get a letter/note from me? Email me your snail mail address at peridot1454 at gmail dot com and I’ll add you to my list. Or ask me for my address so you can send ME some snail mail.

Snail mail concept

Categories: InCoWriMo2017, No Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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