The Weather

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.

DSCN1349

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.

DSCN1350

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.

DSCN1348

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.

DSCN1353

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….

rememberance-day-november-11-lest-we-forget

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

White Christmas Indeed!

We did, indeed, have our forecasted white Christmas. And it hasn’t stopped snowing yet. Here are a few images we took yesterday (by “we”, I mean Ethan and I; he stayed the night).

1924011_10153849922308792_8451575245024676605_n

Our back yard. It doesn’t look quite the same this morning as the kids played back there later in the day. And there’s more snow there now.

1936394_10153849645318792_7963198965018003726_n

My car, before Ethan and I cleaned it off. There’s about 8″ of snow on there. We used a broom to clear it off and, even so, it took nearly half an hour to clear off the car and the snow immediately around the car!

1916925_10153849922088792_8114764774277567599_n

My helper. The two things they forgot to bring were his snow pants and his boots. He definitely had fun, though. He did have mittens but when you’re playing with a remote control car (all weather vehicle), mittens just don’t work!

1005503_10153849922143792_6999461937831085005_n

The guys who belong to the trucks cleared the driveway for us, thankfully. John was under the weather and barely got out of bed all day. Charlie was having a blast, looking for her (imaginary) ball.

Categories: Blogging, The Weather | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Almost Christmas

Time certainly flies when there’s much to do. It’s almost Christmas already. Here, in the house, you’d never know. The only decorations up are the Christmas cards that have been trickling in and the giant 3D snowflake Trinity made for us.

3d star

While the kids were here yesterday, we made a batch of sugar cookies; Ethan was more interested in breaking eggs and adding ingredients while Trinity was most helpful when it came to rolling out the dough and cutting it with cookie cutters. We embellished them very simply with some coarse vanilla sugar. When they left, I gave Kristen a small tin of cookies and kept a small tin for ourselves.

Sugar cookies

Today, I’ll be baking up a couple of very Dutch recipes, speculaas squares and koek, a spiced loaf cake. If you’re interested, you can find the recipe on my cooking blog (also sorely neglected), In Ev’s Kitchen.

We’ve decided to go completely non-traditional with this year’s Christmas dinner. When I asked Kristen what we should have, and suggested turkey, she nixxed the idea right away. Between the three of us, Kristen, John, and myself, we decided to have a prime rib roast with Yorkshire puddings and a variety of vegetables. No stuffing, unfortunately. That’s my favourite part of Christmas dinner. Yorkies make up for it a little bit, I suppose. They’re definitely a favourite around here.

As for Christmas day, the weather man has guaranteed that we’ll be having a white Christmas this year. There’s snow on the ground now, with light snow falling.

Snow

To all of my family and friends, I hope you have a wonder-full, safe Christmas and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2016.

Christmas Tree Hand-Lettering

 

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cooking, Just stuff, No Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

And The Winner Is….

Heather!

Email me your relevant information, Heather, and six samples of my hand crafted soaps will be making their way to your doorstep, along with an extra surprise or two. Congratulations!

Yesterday, Beth asked how she might be able to subscribe to my new soaping blog by email. This morning, I figured out how to add that to the blog and there is now a spot to subscribe by email… for anyone who would like to.

002

This is how the soap turned out, by the way. It’s a nice hard soap that was hard to cut. It did gel but not completely; that won’t affect the final product, just the aesthetics. Considering that it’s soap and will all be going down the drain eventually, I’m not overly concerned about it.

I did do a little more knitting on John’s sweater yesterday; I have about 6″ done so far. Right now, it’s straight up the back for 17.5″ before starting the armhole shaping. I don’t think much knitting will happen around here today; there is lasagna to be put together (I made the meat sauce yesterday) and a dinner to prepare for.

John’s planning on making a cheesecake for dessert, using a recipe his mother received years ago from a NYC native. I’m looking forward to it; he’s never made it for me. This is a traditional, basic, baked cheesecake with the cherry pie filling on it. Yum! It will be a lovely finish to our dinner, I think.

Now, it’s an absolutely gorgeous fall day around here. We had a bit of a wind storm last night; it was an amazingly warm wind that scattered chairs and leaves around the yard. Today, it’s bright and sunny out.. beautiful! It’s time to get motivated and out there!

Enjoy your weekend, all, and to my Canadian family and friends… Happy Thanksgiving.

grapes

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Cooking, Making Soap, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Down, Another On The Needles

The Waffle Stitch face/spa cloth is finished! It only took a little over a week to finish one cloth – that actually surprised me; it felt like it took forever! I do have to say, though, that I’m really happy with it. It has a very nice feel to it, not thick but still cushy, with enough texture to help exfoliate and stimulate the skin without being rough. Now, we’ll have to see how it stands up to use. Looking nice is one thing, performance is another.

I’ve also cast on for another face cloth; I figure that if I have the yarn and needles out, I may as well keep going. I think I know a few people who will appreciate these. This time, I using a checkerboard stitch, 5 knit stitches, 5 purl stitches, 6 rows, then alternating the knit and purl stitches. I’m really liking how this one’s working up, too.

faceclothsx2

The soap in the picture, incidentally, is the Java Jumpstart soap, one of my favourites (who am I kidding? They’re all my faves!). This one has the most amazing scent and so far, everyone who smells it, wants it.

And speaking of soap, I did a bit of experimenting last night. I’ve been seeing some amazing pictures and videos of something called a Taiwan Swirl (google it and you’ll see why I’ve been blown away). I used two colours (does uncoloured count as a colour?), natural and ultramarine blue and poured alternating sections of each. Then, with a chopstick, the colours are swirled together to form a pattern. Here’s how it looked after I’d finished the swirling…

Taiwan swirl

I chose not to add any scent to this one because I wanted to see how it turned out. If/when I make another swirled soap, I will definitely add some scent to it. To be honest, it takes almost as much time and thought to decide what scent to use as it does to plan and make the soap. It’s one of the reasons most of my soaps aren’t scented. That, and the fact that I don’t care for perfumed things on or near my face.

This morning, I took the soap from the mold; it’s still too soft to cut but I anticipate that I’ll be able to cut it tomorrow. I am really eager to see how the swirls look inside the soap.

Taiwan swirl2

Normally, I cut my soaps in about nine bars, straight down. In this case, the recommendation is that you first cut about four bars across the mold, then cut each of those bars horizontally. That way, the swirls you see on the top become the sides of the bar. If that sounded confusing, just wait for the pictures.

Back to where we started… knitting. The weather here definitely has autumn overtones. Mornings and evenings have that unmistakable coolness that comes with the changing of the season. Another sign that autumn is on its way is the fact that John’s been whining about not having slippers to wear.

That should be remedied by the end of the weekend. I started his slippers last February; they’re almost done. I think I only need to work one more sole, then put them together and felt them. I’m making a point of getting them done and off my plate.

slippers to finish

Then, I can start on a pair for me!

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

September Already

It seems that summer has taken its leave. The weather has suddenly turned cooler and wetter. That’s very good news for the British Columbia/Washington State fire situation; if I’m not mistaken, all of the fires burning around here are now under control and a campfire ban has been lifted. Our skies are clear of smoke; they’re not clear, though. It’s still overcast but it’s regular clouds, rain clouds, not smoke. This doesn’t mean winter’s on its way yet; September and October can still be very warm around here; it does mean that autumn crops are coming on strong! Apparently, the farmers growing pumpkins have them ripening far ahead of their usual season.

Around here, life is interesting. There have been a few changes around the yard, nothing I need to share but it is definitely more quiet (a welcome change, to be sure) around here.

Trinity and Ethan were here last night while Mom had a much needed night off. They’ve been (and are) outside with their roller blades, trying not to fall, and avoiding the rough patches on the road (we live on a fairly quiet street so I’m not worried). So far, there have been a few tears but no major injuries, thankfully.

One of my co-workers let me know this week that I’ve become obsessed with soap making; you know what? She’s right. I made another batch before I left for work yesterday, in addition to the batch I’d already made this week.

This is a soap from Anne L. Watson’s lovely little book “Milk Soapmaking”, which was available on Amazon at no charge. As the name of the soap suggests, it’s made with yogurt! I’m surprised at the array of ingredients that can be used in making soap.

Yogurt Parfait sliced

I wanted to be able to tell, at a glance, which soap is which, so I coloured this one with some blue colorant that I still had from my lotions and potions making days. I didn’t want a solid colour so I mixed some of the colorant with a bit of the oil and coloured half the soap batter, which I then swirled back into the uncoloured mixture before pouring into the mold. I love the result.

This one has also been scented. In this case, I used a blend that I’ve used in the past as part of a muscle rub – equal parts of ginger, juniper, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils. Now that it’s curing, the scent is amazing; the peppermint is definitely there and the remainder blend very nicely with the mint, making it an almost masculine scent.

The one I made yesterday is also from one of Anne L. Watson’s books, “Smart Soapmaking” (also free on Amazon). This one is the Almond Facial soap, made only with liquid oils (just how many people do you know who just happen to have fractionated coconut oil lying around?). I wasn’t sure what colour to make it because, again, I want to be able to tell at a glance which is which, and decided on pink and purple, simply because those are the other two colorants I have on hand.

Mermaid soap 1

This soap took a lot longer to solidify than any of the soaps I’ve made so far; I think it’s because of the fact that there are no solid oils (fats or butters) in it. The colours are amazing and it makes me think of a mermaid’s tail, with the swirling pinks and purples that Trinity loves so much. Because the soap is still a touch sticky on the top, I decided to take it a step further.

Another item I have left from my lotion making days is some opalescent cosmetic grade glitter, very fine, very sparkly, and very Trinity! Before I let her cut it, I sprinkled some of the glitter on the soap and we now call it Mermaid Soap. The wavy cutter only adds to the mermaid feel, don’t you think?

Mermaid soap

As for my knitting, the face cloth is about two inches from being finished. I’m hoping to have it finished this weekend but we’ll be taking Kristen and the kids to the I.P.E. That stands for Interior Provincial Exhibition, the longest running exhibition in British Columbia. That will take care of tomorrow. Monday is Labour Day, though, and I’m off; perhaps I’ll have time to finish it then… and immediately cast on for another one.

Now, I’m rambling so I’d best go finish up the breakfast dishes and get this day going. Happy Labo(u)r Day to all!

8_ribbons

 

Categories: Blogging, Finished, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Soap Making, Part 2

We woke up to a very smoky sky here in Kelowna. From my reading online, a lot of people were under the, thankfully, mistaken impression that Kelowna was on fire. As I say, thankfully there are no fires within our immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, the smoke is coming from the Stickpin fire, burning across the border in Washington state. That fire is now threatening to move into BC and it’s being watched carefully by both British Columbia and Washington State fire officials.

001

This picture doesn’t quite capture the redness of the sun. It was quite the surprise to step outside and see a red sun up in the sky. We were even able to look at it with binoculars and could very clearly see solar flares on the sun’s surface. It was a truly unique experience. How often do you get to look directly at the sun and not hurt your eye? The smoke, however, is extremely unpleasant. The radio has been warning that outdoor activities should be limited while the air is as smoky as it is. To be honest, it’s affecting me a little; my nasal passages are stinging and… it stinks!

My soap making adventures are continuing and, I have to tell you, it’s almost addicting. Once you’ve made one batch, you start looking at recipes and wonder what this recipe would be like, or that one…. That’s exactly what’s been happening. After last week’s three batches, I’ve made another two batches this week.

The first batch I made yesterday is a bit of a riff on a recipe I found online. It’s a shaving soap for the men (and possibly the women) in my life (not that there are a lot of them.. men, that is). It’s based on this recipe. I didn’t have all of the oils in the recipe and I certainly didn’t want to make 5 lbs of shaving soap. That’s a lot of soap! Using a lye calculator I found online, I altered the recipe to make a smaller (approximately 2 lbs) batch using ingredients I had on hand. I only had to buy a pound of shortening (which includes palm oil and can be substituted 1:1 for said oil).

In the photo, it’s the loaf of soap in the foreground. It’s a little on the dark side right now but as it cures, it will become lighter, like the bits stuck on the paper in the extreme foreground.

Shave and Goat Milk

The second loaf of soap is one that I’ve been wanting to make since I first came across the recipe on Pinterest. The recipe is Nana’s Lavender Goatmilk Soap and it smells amazing! Even though I made this loaf about eight hours after the shave soap, it’s already much harder. I have a feeling this will be a hard, long lasting soap. It, too, should lighten up quite a bit with drying. If you read the recipe at all, you’ll see that it contains powdered lavender flowers in addition to lavender oil. I just happened to have some of that, left over from my cream and lotion making days. It’s nice to be able to use up some of the stuff I still have on hand.

This morning, I cut both loaves into bars… 9 of each; each loaf measures 8.75″ and I cut them into 1″ bars, leaving one slightly smaller bar. I’m even thinking of cutting some of the Lavender Goatmilk bars in half as they’re fairly large bars. It might help make the soap last a little longer, too, although that could just be perception.

Shave and Goat Milk2

Now, there’s just one more soap I’d like to try. This one, which is also the featured image for this post. Can you imagine the scent? Coffee, along with ginger, cinnamon, clove, patchouli, and sweet orange?? It would be like chai meets breakfast (coffee and orange juice?)! The coffee grounds in the soap help to provide exfoliation and/or scent removal (garlic? fish?) in the kitchen. And it looks like a fun technique. Maybe next week.

Edited to add: I did make the Java Jumpstart Soap this afternoon. Tomorrow, I’ll have an idea of how it turned out. It’s my very first attempt at mixing colours. For now, my soaping has come to a halt (we’ll see how long THAT lasts!); I probably have enough soap to last me the rest of my life even though a few bars have already been earmarked as gifts for family members and friends.

In the comments on last week’s post, I asked if anyone knew where I might be able to find lye (not that I’ll need any more for a long time); after phoning my local Home Hardware store, I found out that they carry it (in Aisle 5, thank you very much). Question asked and answered. Coincidentally, had I really looked at the container my mother gave me so many years ago, I would have seen that it, too, had come from Home Hardware.

Categories: Blogging, Finished, Making Soap, No Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mini Vacation: Part Two

For our first full day on Vancouver Island, we decided to drive across the island to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The drive was hot; British Columbia and, indeed, western Canada, has been experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures holding steady in the high 30’s and low 40’s C (high 90’s, low 100’s F) for a few weeks. Vancouver Island is extremely dry and fires are a definite threat; the Pacific coastal rain forest hasn’t had significant rain in weeks, if not months.

We encountered some construction along the route but we made good time, arriving in Ucluelet around lunch time. When you’re at that side of the island, you must, absolutely must, visit Long Beach. I love it there, and I know John does, too. The beautiful, sandy beach stretches for miles, as far as you can see.

From the parking lot, we followed this path

From the parking lot, we followed this path

The Pacific Ocean... our first glimpse!

The Pacific Ocean… our first glimpse!

The water was surprisingly warm and John took full advantage of it; he was the only person I saw who was swimming in the ocean, apart from the surfers who were suited up against the chill. I did go into the water but only about waist deep; honestly, I’m not much of a swimmer but I do enjoy being near the ocean.

LB5

Kelp... amazing to see how long the

LB$

We wandered the beach for a while, just soaking it all in… until the sand fleas started biting. After that, we hotfooted it (literally! our feet were too sandy for our shoes so we walked barefoot; the sand was HOT!!) back to the car and continued our drive. On the way back to Qualicum Beach, we absolutely had to stop at the world famous Cathedral Grove. It isn’t as I remembered it.

The first time I was in Cathedral Grove, many, many years ago, it was a wild place; there were paths, certainly but no fences, no railings. Now, there are parking lots on both sides of the highway; groups of tourists in tour buses stop to wander through the fenced paths and the wooden viewing platforms to marvel at the huge Douglas Firs. We didn’t stay long, just long enough to walk the paths, take a few pictures,  have our pictures taken, and that’s about it. It does still inspire, though.

Cathedral Grove3

Cathedral Grove1

Look up, waaaaaaay up! The tallest tree in Cathedral Grove.

Cathedral Grove2

Cathedral Grove4

Once we left Cathedral Grove, we drove straight back to our motel to experience low tide. That was fun; it’s for another post, though. This one has more than enough pictures for one day.

Categories: Blogging, Just stuff, No Knitting, The Weather, Vacation | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Into Every Life

You know the saying, right? Into every life a little rain must fall. Well, it’s a grey day here in the usually sunny Okanagan and it’s raining. It’s not the kind of rain those of you in the Fraser Valley get; this is a gentle rain. To be honest, the only reason I know it’s raining is by looking at the puddles; I can see the ripples of the rain drops hitting the water. It’s a welcome rain; it’s been very dry here. So dry, in fact, that many are comparing this spring to the spring of 2003, a very notorious year here in Kelowna (the year of the fires). Trust me, we do not want a repeat performance.

Speaking of performance, yesterday, Kristen, the kids, and I were treated to a performance of Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai. It was John’s Mother’s Day gift to the two of us. John drove us to Penticton (about an hour from here) and he explored the town while we enjoyed the performance. And we did! It was amazing!

The kids were absolutely enthralled with the entire show and we were all swept up in the music, the colours, the agility, the fun. Afterwards, we went for dinner, stopping at the Blind Angler in Summerland, one of our favourite places to eat. We don’t go often but when we do, we always enjoy it. Along with good food, the ladies who own and run it treat you like family, right down to telling Trinity she couldn’t leave until her plate was empty (we took the leftovers home).

All in all, it was a wonderful, memorable day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Categories: Blogging, Just stuff, No Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Valentine’s Day

The middle of February… already! And, yes, today is Valentine’s Day. It’s pretty gorgeous here today. Right now, the sun is shining and it’s about 9ºC (48ºF). It’s definitely a day to get out there, something I intend to do shortly.

I did wander about a bit this morning, checking on the garden out front. I wasn’t surprised to see bits of green showing.

002

This is a stand of poppies, the nice big, bright red ones. I was surprised to see it, and the other stand, as green as they are; I think they may be the first to flower this year if they keep growing like this!

004

Even the roses are starting to put out buds; I noticed the irises and daisies are starting to come up, too. I did tell John that I’d wait until the beginning of March before getting into clean up mode but we may have to start sooner if this weather keeps up.

006

This is all that remains of our January snowfall. At one point, the kids had tunnels in this pile; it really was a big pile, higher than the kids were tall. They were even sledding down one side of it.

Now, though, spring is on its way and I, for one, am more than ready for it. We’re coming in to my favourite time of year.

This past week did see some progress on the knitting front.

001

That’s the first of John’s pair of slippers. I always chuckle as the size of these slippers before the felting process; they’re huge! I still have the second sole to complete but the knitting, at least, is done on this slipper. The second sole has been cast on. It doesn’t take long to knit the sole but it does demand some concentration; if you’ve ever knit this pattern, you’ll know what I mean.

I’ll try to get this pair done this weeked but I have every intention of enjoying this mild weather while we have it. In the meantime, I wish you all…….

VDay

Categories: Blogging, Garden, Just stuff, Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fermented Not Demented

Adventures in fermentation... a whole new world for me

Stuff Dutch People Like

Your satirical guide to Dutch culture and the Netherlands!

: silviasblog.com :

sketches, paintings, photos, random things that inspire me and other kind of art related stuff

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

domestic diva, M.D.

my mother raised the perfect housewife...then I went to med school

soknitsome

so knitsome ... so knit some