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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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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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2017 – Keep It Simple

Happy 2017, my friends. Yesterday was a day of relaxation, getting outdoors, and reflecting. The last day of the year was a thoroughly enjoyable day. I did some prep for today’s eating but I also took time to get outside with my daughter and two of my grandchildren. I’m feeling it today, believe me!

I did get on the ice, too. Yeah, I fell and, yeah, I’m feeling it today. Trust me, I will not be putting the skates back on today.

As I said, it was also a day of reflection. One of the things I dislike about our suite is the clutter, especially in the spare/craft room. I look around some times and am completely overwhelmed as to where to start. I know it’s something that I just need to do and it’s me that needs to do it but I’m just not even sure where to start. Well, this is the year for simplifying my life, getting rid of the clutter.

This is the time of year for resolutions but I don’t see this as being a resolution. It’s a goal, something I’ve been wanting for a long time.

I know what needs to be done; I just have to start doing it. What about you? Do you have any goals, resolutions, desires for 2017? What about suggestions? Do you have any suggestions that might help me out?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Even though today is our Canadian Thanksgiving, we decided it would be nice to have a do-nothing kind of day before going back to work and school tomorrow so we had our dinner yesterday.

Normally, I wouldn’t post about what we ate for dinner but I’m really proud of the meal we had. I mean, the dinner itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We had a roasted chicken, slathered with Dijon mustard, liberally sprinkled with my seasoned salt for chicken, and stuffed with a blend of sweet onion, rosemary, sage, and thyme. We had a cheesy cauliflower casserole, boiled carrots, brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes with gravy. I didn’t buy enough brussels sprouts, apparently. We all love them and I think, had there been more, Ethan would happily have had a meal of nothing but chicken and brussels sprouts. For the kids, I picked up a bottle of Martinelli’s sparkly crisp apple juice (served in wine glasses). Everything was perfectly done. That, in itself, made me happy.

The best part of the meal, though, the part everyone was eagerly anticipating was dessert. You saw the Lemon Meringue Pie I posted yesterday. Well, after posting, I thought about the other half of the pie dough in the fridge and decided to run out to pick up a few things. Like Jonagold apples. And whipping cream. And brown sugar.

The first thing I made was a Salted Caramel sauce. Oh my, so good I could eat it by the spoonful. I didn’t. But I could.

Then, I made a gluten free Dutch Apple Pie.

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There are one or two things I would do differently next time but they’re minor. For instance, next time I would make more of the topping and use more butter in it. I’d sprinkle a bit of lemon juice over the apples just to brighten the flavour a little more. As I said, minor things.

I did do something a little different with this pie, other than making it gluten free. Instead of using cinnamon and nutmeg, I used Speculaas seasoning, a wonderful warm and aromatic blend of spices.

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It came out beautifully! The only critique I had was that the bottom crust didn’t bake properly (I should have baked it in the lower third of the oven, not the middle). No one else cared. We served it with freshly whipped sweetened cream, drizzled with salted caramel sauce.

I think Trinity had at least two pieces of the Lemon Meringue Pie (lemon is her favourite flavour!) and we all left the table feeling rather stuffed.

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We had a wonderful dinner and we all shared some of the things we were thankful for… family, friends, a bountiful supply of food, a safe place to live…. from the big things to the little things.

I hope that you all have a very happy Thanksgiving. Remember, there’s always something to be happy for. We are, truly, blessed.

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It’s Been HOW Long?

Yeah, you probably think I’ve fallen off the face of the earth or are out and about doing something so exciting and time-consuming that I have no time for anything, let alone blogging. Well, you’d be wrong on both counts although it has been busy, just not with anything terribly exciting. I guess it’s called life.

Truth be told, I’ve simply been too tired and uninspired. Every time the thought of blogging has entered my mind, so have thoughts of other things that really should be done first. Or, something’s come along to take up my time or distract me from the thought of writing anything.

So, now that I have time and I’ve actually sat down and started typing, where to I start? It’s been a fairly busy summer, one that has flown by. My mother and one of my grandsons came for a (short, very short) visit. It was good to see them both. John and I did manage to get away for a week, just after my birthday. We traveled around southern British Columbia, through the Kootenays. It was a much needed getaway from our daily routines and, even though it was a lot of driving, it was relaxing, a time of simply enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. Even our old car (1993 Mazda 626) behaved and gave us no real concern. Now, the days are beginning to shorten and cool; the kids are back in school and life is settling down into something resembling normalcy.

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I’m still cooking, still knitting, still making the occasional batch of soap, and I’ve started making more fermented foods and beverages. If you follow me on Ravelry, you’ll know that I’ve started a small knitting project that I won’t be blogging about until it’s finished and in the hands of its recipient. (Ha! how’s that for a teaser, huh?)

So, now we’re at the end of summer. Life is settling back into a regular routine. Now that we’re “back to normal”, I’m hoping to spend more time doing the things I enjoy, which includes blogging… well… writing. It’s been too long a break.

For now, I’ll leave you with a few photos taken this summer…

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The Sun Still Rises

I’ve been spending some time working on John’s cardigan this week. I think I’m making pretty good progress.

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I still need to work about two inches until the shoulder shaping. I’ve also been making more soap. This week’s batch is another batch of the BNA Blackstrap Ale soap. I’m really pleased with how my soaps are turning out. They look good (in my very humble opinion); they are not strongly scented (I don’t like overwhelmingly scented soaps); they lather (that’s the important part!).

BNA Batch2

The colourant in this one is, once again, cocoa for the bottom part and titanium dioxide to make the foam, along with a hanger swirl to make the “foam” swirl.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post. What does it have to do with knitting and soap? Nothing, really. It is, however, relevant to my family’s experiences this past week. It’s a reminder not to focus on the difficult times, a reminder that there is another day coming, a day that will bring new beginnings, new experiences, even, perhaps, joy. Right now, joy is difficult to imagine.

My family is hurting this week with a pain that will never fully go away. On Tuesday afternoon, my eldest grandson, Zachary, was found dead in his apartment. I will not go into details other than to say he and his roommate were both found deceased. Until the cause of his death is known, we’ll have to wait for a funeral. Please, if you pray, keep us in your prayers. Both his parents are, justifiably, devastated. We all have a hole in our hearts that will never completely heal but we do know that sun will rise tomorrow and our lives will go on.

Zach

Categories: Blogging, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

So… Colour Me an Idiot

John’s cardigan is coming along. I worked on it for a bit last night and came to a realization.

Let me back up a bit. Before I cast on any project, I choose the size I’ll knit and circle or highlight the numbers for that size I’m knitting, usually as I go along. I did the same with this cardigan. Except….. sigh…

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I’m up to the arm scye shaping and my stitch count was out. Apparently, after 17.5″, I cast on for the wrong size, one size larger than the size I had intended to knit. It’s only a few stitches difference and I don’t think it will really matter a lot but, really??

I’ve been knitting how long?? (Since I was seven, thank you very much.)

Did I mention I’d already knit seventeen and one half inches? I am NOT frogging it. John may have room to grow but from what I’ve already checked, it will fit him just fine.

What was I thinking?? Or maybe I did intend to cast on for that size and I circled the wrong numbers.

I think I’ll go make some soap.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Knitting, Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Tomorrow, Tomorrow….

Tomorrow is the deadline for entering the soap sample giveaway. Leave a comment on my blog tonight, telling me what you love about autumn… or handcrafted soap… and you’re entered. I’ll announce the winner on Sunday.Mermaid soap

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Well, THAT Week’s Over!

I can honestly say I’m, happy it’s the weekend. It has been quite the week. There are always the usual things… work’s still busy, busy, busy; will it ever slow down enough that we have the opportunity to catch up? Then, on Tuesday, I got a call from Kristen. Ethan was in a lot of pain and she wanted to know if she should take him to emergency. I went over, took one look at him and told her to go. He’d broken his arm while playing at a friend’s house – boys being boys! That meant an evening of back and forth between the hospital, Kristen’s and my place. Trinity ended up staying the night here.

At the same time, we had company. John’s boss had been here for 10 days and would be leaving early Wednesday morning.

Ethan ended up being discharged late Tuesday but had to go back in on Wednesday morning to have his arm surgically set. They anesthetized him, set the arm, and put a temporary cast on. There was a chance that they would have to install pins to set the arm but everything went well and no pins were required… thankfully. Once the swelling goes down, some time next week (eta: Monday), he’ll go back to the hospital for a regular cast. In the meantime, we’re all watching him to make sure he doesn’t trip or bump into anything. It’s times like this that you really want to put your child in a bubble so that nothing more can ever hurt them.

Then, on Thursday night, I ended up with a couple of cuts to my right hand when I put my wine glass down a little too forcefully. It shattered, slicing my ring finger and my pointer finger.

By Friday morning, the stress and tension of the week decided to center itself in my head and I woke up with a killer headache. Needless to say, I stayed home and did a whole lot of nothing! Yes, I’m feeling a lot better now, thank you.

Yesterday was a good day. I went out for lunch with a friend, did a bit of shopping (bought a couple of tops and visited my favourite art store) and even got creative. It feels like it’s been a long time.

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded a pdf with some crochet patterns for these…

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I think I found the link on Pinterest; I’m really not sure, to be honest. The file has been sitting on my desktop for a few weeks now, with the intention of making a few. I used to crochet a lot. I have numerous doilies and my mother has even more that I made for her.

I went stash diving and came up with three or four yarns that would work. The pink is some ancient crochet cotton; I’m not even sure where I got it as it isn’t a colour I particularly like. The blue yarn is something I picked up a few years ago at the thrift store.

006I’ll be able to cover a LOT of rocks with that cone of yarn. To top it off, I have two cones of the stuff and I have no idea what I’ll ever do with it, besides crochet what John calls rock cozies.

I also have some off white cotton (10 balls of it) that I can use. I was thinking of doing some yarn bombing of my own. Can you picture walking along the creek and coming across crochet covered rocks here and there? I think it would be fun… and whimsical. For now, though, I’ve put them in the little pile of rocks at the edge of my flower garden.

And, speaking of garden, this is what’s blooming in my garden at the moment.

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Categories: Blogging, Crochet, Garden, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Live!

Well, I’ve gone and done it now. Strings ‘n Things Press is live!

You can find the Press here. Right now, there are some greeting cards available. More will be added as they become available. For anyone interested, I don’t have Paypal set up and would rather not. For now, purchases can be paid for by e-transfer through your bank.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

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