Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Odds and Sods

:: Those of you who come to my blog to see what I've been up to in the crafting department are probably wondering what's happened. I would like to reassure you that crafting is taking place, but there's a reason I haven't posted any pictures lately. In a word - Christmas. January should be awash in pictures of finished projects.

:: Gardeners, procrastination is not your friend. A fellow Garden Club member and I were in charge of planting garlic in the community garden. We had been talking about the need to get it in the ground since the beginning of October. Had we taken action back then we wouldn't have frozen our hands stiff planting it this week after an Arctic front had moved in.

:: Fresh turmeric stains everything it touches. I did not know this. I used it for the first time last week in a Jamie Oliver recipe, and for several days afterwards my fingers looked like they belonged to a 90-year-old smoker with a three pack a day habit.

:: My first book, Ting Ting, was just included in Great Reads For Kids, a booklet put out by the Toronto Public Library. It's a collection of over 200 recommended books for children ages six to 12.

:: The storm clean-up here at The Cottages continues. Our cottage wasn't damaged, but several others were. This cottage with the tree on its roof is just down the street from us.

:: Scarier yet is this cottage that has been impaled. The bottom part of the branch is sticking through their bedroom ceiling. Imagine what it would have done to a person!

:: Teapot Hill took quite a hit as well. There were over twenty trees down on the trail. This one was the most impressive. You can see how massive the root system is. Either that, or I'm very short. Or both.

:: Still on the topic of Teapot Hill, yesterday morning both our telephone and cable were down. It seemed odd to me that the two would have gone out at the same time, but we were in the middle of another windstorm, so I just figured that was the problem. Not. It turns out that in the middle of the night thieves cut through the wires right at the base of Teapot Hill and stole $10,000 with of copper wiring.

:: The latest windstorm came as an Arctic front made its way into our area. The waves on Cultus Lake were spectacular!

:: This wasn't quite what I had in mind when we put up the bird feeders.

:: Fergus and Jenny have both corners of the couch covered. They consider it their job to make sure no neighbourhood dog goes by unnoticed.

Have a great second half of the week! And Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stormy Days

I’m composing this post in the midst of a storm. It’s the fourth storm we’ve been hit with this month, and it’s by far the worst. The wind is howling and the trees are bending over, looking like they might succeed in their attempt to touch the ground. Branches litter the ground, and the threat of another one coming down when I took Fergus out this morning made for a very short walk. 

In a storm earlier this week a neighbouring cottage had a branch impale their roof. I shudder to think what the outcome would have been had it hit a person. And when a friend and I were hiking Teapot Hill a few days ago we were shocked to see this huge tree that had fallen across the trail. 

We discussed whether or not one would have enough warning to get out of the way if they had been in that spot when it toppled over. We came to the conclusion that no, there was probably not enough time to react. 

Fergus is totally fed up with the stormy weather. He despises the rain, but still hasn’t caught onto the fact that walking slower makes it worse, not better. 

Between storms we have had a few spectacular fall days. We have also had our first frost. 

Our power is out right now, and I’ve got candles lit. In spite of the fact it’s mid-morning, the storm has made for a very dark day. I don’t mind the power outage. The cottage is so peaceful and quiet without any appliances running. The flickering candles send out a warm glow, and I’ve got a nice cup of tea sitting next to me thanks to the Thermos I filled with boiling water last night. I plan to spend my day knitting, reading, and listening to the storm raging outside. I feel very privileged to be able to have a place where I am safe and warm, sheltered from the storm. 

***Our power was out until late last night, so this post is going up a day after the storm. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Brunch to Remember

I had something very exciting happen Saturday. Earlier in the week there was a writing contest. The contest was being run by North by Northwest, a weekend morning program on CBC Radio. To enter you had to write a paragraph of no more than one hundred words using titles from books published by Alexander McCall Smith. The six best entrants would win a pair of tickets to have brunch with Alexander McCall Smith Saturday morning in Vancouver at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks.

I entered the contest and anxiously waited to see if I would get an email informing me I had won a pair of tickets. Sadly, no such email ever arrived in my inbox. But one did arrive in my friend Cindy's! She had written a great entry, and the judges obviously thought so too. When she asked me if I wanted to go with her it took me less than half a second to say yes. (The half second was spent feeling guilty because if I went that meant her daughter Jennifer wouldn't be going.)

We headed into the city early so we would have time to browse at the bookstore, one neither of us had ever been in before. It was an incredible place! Also, a dangerous one as my friend pointed out before we arrived. (We both have a weakness for cookbooks.) Imagine a whole store devoted to nothing but books about food. In addition to cookbooks there were books about travel and food, and classics that have a strong food theme running through them.

At the far end of the book store there is a kitchen, and an island to seat people. The store does quite a few cooking classes, as well as hosting events like this one the CBC was sponsoring. Here they are, prior to the brunch, getting things ready.

Aside from the fact I was in a store filled with nothing but books about food, the biggest surprise for me was being given a drink before we ate. And by drink, I don't mean a nice cup of tea. The only other time in my life I've had alcohol before noon is when I've indulged in a splash of whisky over my porridge.

The brunch itself was delicious, sort of a take-off on a traditional full English//Irish breakfast.

As soon as we finished eating the host of North by Northwest, Sheryl MacKay, interviewed Alexander McCall Smith. That interview will be on the radio either this Saturday or Sunday. You can check the link at the top of this post later in the week if you are interested in listening, and if you can't listen to it when it's broadcast you can always catch the podcast.

He is an incredible man, and also happens to be my favourite living male author. At one point in the interview he talked about the importance of forgiveness, and about how we have lost our sense of community. They were the very words you would expect to hear Mme. Ramotswe speak on those subjects. It wasn't all serious stuff though. The humour you read in his books also comes out in real life when he speaks.

His latest book is another in the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine. There's something very appealing about that title. There was something also very ironic about it, as Vancouver was in the midst of what is known as a rainfall event. Here we are, getting our copies of the book signed.

Thanks Cindy for inviting me!

And for those of you who are wondering what was in that drink, here you go...

Flemington Cocktail from the book: Apothecary Cocktails by Warren Bobrow
3 Tablespoons muddled stone fruits ( I used frozen pitted cherries)
1 ounce Honey Simple Syrup
3 ounces Scotch Whisky
1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth
Few drops Angostura bitters
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large sage leaf, chiffonade
Muddle the fruit in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.  Add the honey simple syrup, Scotch Whisky, sweet vermouth, bitters and lemon juice and shake for 20 seconds.   Strain the mixture into a martini glass and garnish with the chiffonade sage leaf.  Sip slowly until the dark clouds start to lift.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fast Forward

My apologies for such a long absence. It seems like someone hit the fast forward button on my life in October. It zoomed by in a flurry of family and road trips, with a bit of crafting and hiking squeezed in when time would allow.

On October 25th my mom flew from Spokane to Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is just over an hour from our house, not counting the wait at the border, which, sadly, can sometimes be as long as the drive itself. I drove down a little ahead of her flight so I could stop at Trader Joe's. It's the only store I have ever been in that makes grocery shopping a fun experience. While I was there I wandered over to the beer aisle to pick something out for Jay. I'm not a beer drinker myself, so have to base my purchasing decisions on factors other than knowledge about the actual product. Which is how he ended up with this, a six-pack with a knitting theme.

Monday we drove into Vancouver, where my mom got to meet her new great granddaughter. I think they look quite pleased with each other, don't you?

In the latest development since I last saw her, Ella has turned into dedicated thumb sucker.

Thursday we headed over to Victoria so my mom could spend some time with Lucy. I think we were both humbled when were there. I can not for the life of me figure out how to undo the gates they have to keep Lucy out of trouble. Lucy has no problem whatsoever opening them. And my mom, who has owned an iPad for two years but has yet to figure it out, sat and watched Lucy play games and switch between apps.

Just in case you're wondering, in spite of what Lucy is wearing in this picture it wasn't an unseasonably warm day. My mom brought her this new outfit thinking it would be perfect for next summer. Lucy tried it on and refused to take it off again.

Friday was a very long day. We left Victoria at 7:45 Am and didn't get to Spokane until 8:45 PM. The main interstate highway across Washington was closed in central Washington due to a dust storm, which slowed us up considerably. I managed to take this picture as we drove along rural side roads, trying to find our way past the closure. It's very unique countryside. Interesting to look at, but I don't think I would want to live there.

This was my first trip to Spokane since my brother moved there, and it was nice to see his new home and do a bit of exploring on the trails that are right out his back door.

Now I am back home, and I have to confess I'm quite happy to be here. After being away for much of September and October I'm ready to settle in until next spring. Am I the only one who gets the urge to hibernate at this time of the year?

Have a great week!