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Snow Day

It’s December in the Okanagan. We expect snow. We’ve had snow for the past couple of weeks. I’m okay with that. Honestly, I am.

However, overnight we received another 5-6″, with more still falling. I did make the effort to get out the door and try to get to work for a four-hour day. No. Just no. The roads are dreadful and people are driving way too fast for the conditions. At one point, I was driving at a 45º angle! Four hours of work is not worth taking my life into my hands.

And so, time will be spent working on a project I started in October of 2015 (yikes!), the Hidden Light Cardigan for John. The back is done, the front panels are done up to the arm scyes. And then, I got bored. Or my hands hurt. Whatever the reason, the bag with the pieces and needles has been languishing in my yarn stash. Yesterday, after work, I decided it was time to pull it back out, dust off the pattern (which I would have done had I been able to find it) and pick up where I left off.

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This picture really captures the colour very well.

And so, today I will be spending time listening to the weather news and working on John’s sweater.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Christmas, Holidays, John's Sweater, Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lazy Sunday Morning

I’ve been battling a head cold this past week; thankfully, I’m at the end of it now and finally sleeping again. I really hate being sick (have I said that before?). It cuts into my ME time! So, today is kind of a lazy day for me.

And, what does someone like me do on a lazy day? Bake bread, of course. Because that’s what I do when I want to relax. Doesn’t everyone?

Today, I’ve gone back to one of my favourite bread books, “Great Bread Every Time” by Marilyn Barbe. I’m not sure how long I’ve had this book but it has to be at least twenty years.

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So far, everything I’ve made from this book has been successful and tasty. I even gave this one a big star and a couple of exclamation marks.

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I’m making, obviously,  Healthy Whole Wheat bread, which uses a combination of bran, wheat germ, oats, sesame seeds and, of course, whole wheat flour. It uses the sponge method, where you make a “sponge” with almost all the ingredients except the final addition of flour and allow that to rise for an hour. Then, the sponge is beaten down and the last of the flour is added to make the dough. The loaves are shaped once the dough is ready, then a final rise before baking.

The sponge, as it’s rising, smells so yeasty and delicious!

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And, of course, the smell of bread baking is one of the most amazing smells ever!

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Oh, and just because I could, I also made a couple of loaves of raisin bread. Just cuz.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, bread, Kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

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

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

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

Dessert!

Before I even start this post, let me make it clear that I rarely eat dessert. I love making yummy things but, after one piece, I rarely have any more. Seriously. You know that apple pie and the lemon meringue pie I made for Thanksgiving? One piece of each. All those cookies? Maybe 4 of each….total.

I love baking. I just don’t eat much of it.

I think tonight might be different.

A couple of weeks ago (Thanksgiving weekend, to be precise), in order to make the Lemon Meringue Pie, I bought a bunch of lemons including a bag of Meyer lemons. I still had quite a few left. Then, this week, John came  home with apples. Not just a bag of apples, but four boxes! I was told I could make as many pies as I wanted.

Today, I decided I didn’t want to bake pies so I went on the hunt for apple cake recipes and found a recipe for a French Apple Cake. It looked simple enough. It’s basically apples held together with a bit of batter.

Oh my!

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With some whipped cream, this cake is amazing! It isn’t super sweet, even with the icing sugar dusted on it. As I said, it’s more apple than batter. It’s also flavoured with rum, not so much that it’s boozy but just a flavour. If you do decide to try it, I strongly suggest that you leave the rum in it; honestly, it’s really good! Oh, we decided to make it a little more decadent by drizzling the cake with salted caramel sauce. It didn’t need it, though. Both John and I agreed that, though it’s great as it is, this is a basic recipe that could easily be modified. What goes with apple? John suggested, believe it or not, lavender. I thought, perhaps, almond. It’s a recipe that invites experimentation. And I just happen to have a few more apples.

Then there were the lemons. Sure, I could have made another lemon meringue pie, or two. I know Trinity would have been thrilled. It just happens, however, that I bought a new bundt pan today (something I didn’t have until now) so I started looking at bundt cake recipes today. A number of the recipes I found start out with a boxed cake mix but if you know me at all, you will know that there are no boxed cake mixes in my house nor are there ever likely to be. I kept looking until I found this one.

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With lemon juice in the cake, lemon juice in the glaze, and a sprinkling of lemon sugar on top of it all, this is one lemony treat. The cake is a hot milk cake and is so moist and flavourful, John was pretty much moaning with pleasure. I made on very small alteration to the recipe; when the cake came out of the pan (cleanly, I might add), I brushed the entire cake with lemon juice, giving it even more lemony flavour. I think Trinity will like it.

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Dinner was amazing. Sorry you weren’t here to enjoy it with us.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, No Knitting | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Further Adventures in Fermentation

So, a couple of posts ago, I told you about my first forays into the art of fermentation. Let’s see, I’ve made sauerkraut (not bad), pickles (nobody likes them… I’ve disposed of them), picked beans (um… also not a major success), pickled cauliflower (won’t ANYBODY try them??), water kefir, and kombucha.

Notice that those last two have no comments? Well, that’s because the kombucha has been going strong. I had one batch that went very wrong (smelled suspiciously like a sewage tank.. not very palatable) and started fresh. I was able to purchase a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast… look it up but be prepared – it looks like slime… see below) as well as starting another one from a bottle of purchased unflavoured and raw kombucha. A few months in, my kombucha is pretty darned tasty, if I do say so myself.

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The beginnings of a new scoby on the surface of a batch of kombucha. The larger blob is the original scoby, used to ferment this batch.

If you’re not familiar with kombucha, it’s a fermented beverage made with tea, sugar, and a scoby, a bacteria/yeast culture that feeds on the sugar and the caffeine in the tea. When the process is complete (or to one’s satisfaction), the resulting beverage is kind of tangy/sour/sweet and slightly fizzy. Flavourings like juice, berries, herbs, syrups, etc. can be added in a second ferment in a sealed bottle and the resulting drink can become quite fizzy. The batch I bottled earlier today (pictured below) is seasoned with blackberries and lavender and is one of my favourite combos.

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It’s a drink that has been around for a long time (possible thousands of years) and there are many reported, but largely unproven, health benefits. For myself, I can say that some developing hip pains have pretty much gone. Is is from the kombucha? I don’t know. Thing is, I like this stuff. It’s easy to make. It tastes good. I’m drinking something that’s filled with probiotics and that can’t be bad for my body.

The water kefir, on the other hand, seemed to be going very well. Unfortunately, it was so sickly sweet that I was concerned that it wasn’t fermenting properly. I threw it all out. I do, however, have a couple of bottles that turned out so well that I’m tempted to try again. Tempted. I haven’t broken down yet and purchased more water kefir grains. I have a bar fridge filled with kombucha that will need to be consumed before I seriously consider it.

As for other fermented foods? I like the idea of fermentation but, around here, if no one’s going to like or eat them, why make them?

Categories: Blogging, Fermentation, Health, Just stuff, kefir, kombucha, No Knitting, water kefir | 1 Comment

Sick Day

Ethan has been sick this week. With his mom working, and me working, babysitting duties have fallen to Grandpa John. That lasted one day. Then, I got sick, too. Yesterday (Thursday), both Ethan and I had a sick day. (I’m having another one today; this cough is painful and I’m exhausted!)

Yesterday was one of those gorgeous spring days. It’s chilly in the shade but the sunshine is oh, so lovely. Ethan was definitely feeling better than he did on Wednesday and, after a lunch of Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup and a hot dog, he decided to play outside… with my camera.

There’s been a lot of renovation going on in the suite next door and each of the guys working there, or watching there, has a dog. In all, there were four dogs around the property yesterday and Ethan adores all of them. That was one of the reasons he asked if he could use my camera. Here are a few of the shots we took…

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Categories: Blogging, Just stuff, No Knitting, Nonsense | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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