Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Foot Note

It's been so nice having a kindred spirit in the neighbourhood. Lynda and I have gotten together several times now to knit and visit, and we've had a great time. She must be feeling like she's getting to know me better, because she recently asked me a very personal question. It wasn't about politics or religion. No, the question she asked me was this. "How many pairs of socks do you own?" Of course, she didn't mean store bought gym socks, or crazy socks from Korea. She was referring to my handknit socks.

I don't know what was more surprising - her courage in asking the question, or my cowardice in dodging it. I mumbled something about not being sure. She asked again. I dodged the question again. Then she asked me to just estimate how many I had. Feeling cornered, I visualized my sock baskets (yes, there are two), and started doing a rough count in my head. All I can say is that degree in mathematics might have finally come in handy.

When I got home curiosity got the better of me and I decided to do something I had never done before. I counted my socks. It turns out the "B" basket, which contains bed socks and older, worn out regular socks, had 14 pairs. The "A" basket? Well, I have to say even I was surprised. It had 25 pairs in it. Add to that the pair I was wearing, and the pair waiting to be mended, and that makes for a grand total of 41 pairs of socks.

In my own defence I would like to point out that I have been knitting socks for over a dozen years, and in all those years I've rarely thrown out a pair. I just demote them to the "B" basket. So you can see how they can add up over time. Also, one of the 41 pairs, in fact the nicest pair I own, I didn't actually knit. They were gifted to me by Lynne, the Sock Lady. So that takes me down to just 40 pairs that I've actually knit for myself.

I think one of the reasons my socks last so long is I only hand wash them, even though some of them are knit with yarn that is supposed to be safe to put in the washing machine. Then I hang them to dry on the clothes rack in the spare bedroom upstairs. I love the look of them, especially when the sun shines in the window. It's the knitter's equivalent of stained glass.

Once they are dry I roll them up and place them in my basket. I don't think they worry about being worn again anytime soon. The competition is pretty stiff.

So I would like to hear your opinions. Is 41 pairs of socks a bit extreme? And, if it's not too personal, I would love to hear how many pairs of socks you own. There has to be at least one other knitter out there who has me beat. Or the friend of a knitter.

I wanted to say thank you so much for all the helpful comments and suggestions you left for me on the post I wrote about my feet/shoe woes. I've already made one change. I have ditched my Crocs inside the house and am trying my Birkenstocks. Time will tell as to whether or not this makes a difference. I am also researching different brands of hikers, especially ones that come in wider sizes. I might be on the hunt for new shoes, but I don't think I'll be needing any new socks for awhile.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five on Friday

It wasn't hard to decide on a theme for this month's Five on Friday post. All I had to do was take a look around my kitchen! There's a lot on the go at the moment.

First up, and by far the strangest thing, is a batch of sauerkraut. This is my first attempt at making it, and I have no idea if it's going to turn out. The process was easy, but a bit of a mess. Shredded cabbage decorated most of my kitchen counter.

I'm using a special jar called a Perfect Pickler. The jar has been sitting on my counter for almost a week now, where I hope the fermentation process is underway.

A few days ago I was digging around in my pantry and found a huge container of Medjool dates. Darn. I bought them at Costco right before Christmas, and they were meant to be eaten over the holidays when everyone was here. I couldn't stand thought of them going to waste, but knew Jay and I could never finish them before they got dodgy, so went on a search for a healthy date bar recipe. This one was a winner.

Jamie Oliver's Beef and Ale Stew is one of my favourite comfort foods. We had this last night, and as an added bonus there's enough left over to have it again tonight.

First thing this morning I loaded up my yogurt maker, so tomorrow morning's breakfast will include some yummy homemade yogurt. It's been quite a while since I made my last batch, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Of course, I need something to stir into my yogurt. When I was at the market yesterday they had some Meyer lemons. So this morning I've made some lemon curd, using this recipe from Ina Garten. I plan to eat lots of it, and not just stirred into yogurt.

Happy weekend!

I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things. Please go and visit the other people who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Amy from Love Made My Home
Patricia from A Place For Everthing
Katharine from Art-e-facts
Selma from Eclectic Home & Life
Marion from My Two Girls
Teresa from Knit Bake Cultivate

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Let's Take A Walk

Lately I've been thinking a lot about walking. Usually I don't think about walking, I just do it. But for some reason over the past couple of months my feet have been bothering me. At first I blamed my shoes. The problem started when I took an ancient pair of Keen hikers out of retirement. The soles are worn to nothing and the backs are broken down, making them perfect for gardening, but not much else.

You are probably wondering why I didn't just get new shoes. Well, I actually did have a new pair of Keens in my closet. But I was hoarding them. My reasoning was if I could avoid wearing them this winter when they would be exposed to constant rain and mud, and waited until the spring to break them in, they would be just right for the walk Kath, Melissa and I hope to take in September. I figured I could get through the winter by wearing my summer hikers on the dry days and my old beaters on the wet ones. I overlooked one very obvious flaw in that plan. We don't really get very many dry days.

By the time the holidays rolled around I had to admit there was a problem, and decided it was better to sacrifice my new hikers than my feet and knees. So a couple weeks ago I took them out and started wearing them. I wish I could report that the problem was solved, and my feet are happy once again. But they're not. The new shoes haven't made any difference. None whatsoever.

At first I was sure the company must have changed something about the way they make their shoes. After all, I've owned several previous pairs of Keens that fit like a glove. Then I read a post last Thursday on the Dovegreyreader blog (you might have to scroll down until you get to the post from January 15) and it suddenly dawned on me it isn't the shoes that have changed, it's my feet. I haven't entirely given up on my new Keens, but I have a feeling we might be parting ways. Has anyone else had a problem with their feet? And if so, what have you done about it? And if you have a suggestion for a good brand of hikers please share your discovery in the comment section.

I know it's a very boring topic for a blog post, but walking is a huge part of my life. It's more than simply a way to exercise and stay in shape. For me it's almost a form of meditation, and one of the main ways I connect with the nature that surrounds me. Now, to make up for such a boring post, I thought I would invite you along with me on today's walk. I have frequently blogged about hiking Teapot Hill, but the walk I most often take is down to the small community of Lindell Beach, nestled at the south end of Cultus Lake.

Fergus thought he was going with me, but I can't take pictures and hold his leash at the same time. Poor puppy.

Once I leave our cottage community I turn left and head down this road. I walk as far as the eye can see in this picture, then turn left again and head down to Lindell Beach.

It isn't as boring as it would appear thanks to these mountains on the right.

I pass this mossy stone hanging on the end of a pole.

And this picturesque wood fence.

At the end of the road that runs through Lindell Beach there's a path that follows Frost Creek. If I turned left it would eventually take me back to the cottages. But I turn right, towards the lake.

As I head down the path a junco lands in the bushes beside me.

When I get to the lake and turn towards Lindell Beach the morning fog hasn't quite burned off yet.

But the view up the lake is stunning. I especially love how the mountains and trees are reflected in the water.

Home again! You won't have burned any calories on this walk, but hopefully you enjoyed the scenery.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

No Theme Thursday

I'm finding it hard to believe it's Thursday already. The past week has involved a certain amount of drama. I hate drama. But here's the strange thing. I only hate drama when it's in real life. Give me a good fictional crime or period drama and I can't get enough of it. I've blogged about this once before.

I've been on a bit of a binge lately and have just finished watching Line of Duty,  Scott and Bailey and the latest season of Vera. Now I'm onto season 2 of Broadchurch. I hope I can hold up to the emotional roller coaster this show is. Broadchurch makes me feel a bit like someone passing by a horrific car accident who knows it's going to be awful to look, but just can't quite stop themselves from sneaking a peek. I really do need to cut back on my crime show consumption though. Jay was away one night this week visiting his sister and I had a very hard time falling asleep. I just couldn't stop looking at the bedroom door. Waiting. Watching. Listening. Imagining bad things.

Thank you for all the great comments you left on my last post. Quite a few of you commented on the fact we have things growing already. I have to admit, having spent most of my life in places where no green thing would dare pop its head up this early, it seems a bit strange to me as well. But the corner of British Columbia we live in has quite a mild climate. Yes, we do get snow, but it doesn't stay around for too long. And while we do get cold snaps (the coldest it has been so far in the two winters we have been here was -17 C), the temperatures usually hover a few degrees above freezing.

A few of you wondered about the need for a hat when things look so lovely and green. Well, there's a downside to the weather here, and a reason things are so green. It's a nasty four letter word called RAIN. We get tons of it. So even though our temperatures are moderate during the winter, there's a damp, pervasive cold that permeates the bones. It would be a rare winter day that I wouldn't have a hat or headband on, along with a pair of mitts, when I went out walking. We do get the occasional dry day wedged in between the wet ones though. Here's the sun burning off the fog along the Vedder River.

I was also asked about how the couch cushion covers came out after being washed. I'm happy to report they look just like new. Maybe even better, given the reason for washing them in the first place, they also smell like new. Of course, right after they were dry and I put them back on I forgot to wipe Fergus's paws when he came inside, and the first thing he did was run and jump up on the couch. Sigh...

Yesterday morning I read The Hostess of the Humble Bungalow's post on some of the blue things in her life. Then in the afternoon when I was hiking up Teapot Hill I spotted this teacup someone had left beside the trail. After reading her post earlier in the day I just had to stop and take this picture. (It normally wouldn't be a big deal to take a picture, but my phone battery is on its last legs, and as soon as I pull it out of my pocket and expose it to the cold air it dies.)

Finally, in a post that has no theme whatsoever, I had to pop into the library today and pick up a book that I had put on hold. It suddenly occurred to me that one of the books I have written might be there, so I decided to have a look.

I have to admit I was tempted to check it out.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Some January Firsts

I've spotted the first signs of life in my garden! I planted lots of spring bulbs last fall, hoping that at least a few of them would escape being eaten by the squirrels. I was very happy to see the first of them poke their heads up above the ground this week.

I've also suffered my first appliance death of the year. When I plugged the iron in this week the red light came on to show there was a connection, but the iron didn't actually get hot. This is not the kind of malfunction one can overlook in an iron, so into the garbage it went. A new one has been ordered.

I washed several of my new couch cushions this week for the first time. It was when I went to iron them that I discovered the iron didn't work. I won't go into the details about why I had to wash the cushions, but I will say this much. Our cat has used up eight of its nine lives in one go.

I've also finished my first knitting project for 2015. It's the Dicey Highland Hat, a fun pattern from Jenjoyce Design.

It was an interesting social experiment, standing in front of our cottage taking selfies of me wearing the hat. People driving by tended to stare. Imagine that!

Finally, here's my first picture of Cultus Lake for 2015. I love the way the late afternoon light is shining on the lake.

How about you? Do you have any January firsts?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

First Footing

I celebrated the New Year by wearing a new pair of socks. I'm not exactly sure what that means for the year ahead. Warm feet? More knitting? I'm rather odd? Possibly all of those things, but in this instance it also had another meaning. This First Footing pattern is by Kate Davies, and is meant to celebrate Hogmanay. They seemed the perfect way to start 2015, a year I hope to be able to return to Scotland.

Ravelry details here

Saturday I drove into Vancouver to visit Kellen and Anita. We walked a section of the Seawall I had never been on before. The more popular section is the part that goes around the edge of Stanley Park. The section we were on started in the downtown area and was directly across from Granville Island. The colourful building across the water is the cement plant located next to the Granville Island Market.

We saw these people paddling by at high speed. I'm not sure if they were going fast so they would get a good workout, or if it was so they would stay warm. As you can see from the pictures it wasn't the nicest of days. They were brave to be out on the water.

Then we went out for Burmese food at a restaurant not far from their home. It was a little "hole in the wall" kind of place, and had many good reviews online, which turned out to be very accurate. It was delicious!

Now it's back to routine and reality. I always find the first week of January to be an odd mix of fresh and flat. The flat part is that feeling of letdown that comes after the holidays are over. So much time and energy is spent planning for Christmas, then whoosh, before you know it the tree is coming down, decorations are being packed away for another year, and the house feels oddly quiet and empty.

The fresh part is how clear my mind is now that all my thoughts and energy are no longer focused on holiday planning. It feels like there's room to think about something else again, to plan beyond the immediate, and make room for some new things in the New Year. Happy 2015!

Friday, January 2, 2015

We Did It!

We actually did it! In spite of a flight delay (Rebekah and Anton's plane had a mechanical problem and had to turn around and go back to Seattle), and bad roads (David and Heather drove over the notorious Coquihalla in the snow), everyone managed to gather together to celebrate Christmas 2014. There was more than enough food, not a single appliance stopped working, the power didn't go out, the rental cottage worked brilliantly, and I won the game of Settlers of Catan. (That last bit wasn't necessary for a successful holiday, but it did help my self-esteem as I hardly ever win.)

The one glitch was several people were sick. The day we had our celebration Lucy had a fever, and the next day Rebekah was under the weather. Unfortunately that was the day she had planned to make a Russian themed dinner for everyone. I wasn't looking forward to making dozens of cabbage rolls by myself, but I needn't have worried. There were lots of helping hands, and with Rebekah's guidance we put together quite a feast.

Here's a peak into the Hammond cottage during Christmas 2014:

Kitchen helpers...

Sharing the love, and maybe a few germs...

Stuffing blocks down her dress...

Opening gifts...

The corner of shame (it actually got worse after I took this picture)...

It's what happens when you have this many people and pets gathered together...

The sweater was a perfect fit...

There were fairy lights...

A constant blur of people and pets...

And an abundance of Christmas joy...