Monthly Archives: October 2009

Hasty Halloween Luminaries

Halloween and we have no pumpkin. I don’t know why we didn’t learn our lesson last year, when we left it too late and ALMOST couldn’t find one. This year we couldn’t. I’m not overly interested in Halloween, and we get very few trick-or-treaters, but it seems somehow a bit wrong to not have a pumpkin. (we have candy, that much we managed) So when we returned empty-handed I felt we really had to figure out something so that our house would be at least a little bit festive. So I threw together these quick little paper-bag luminaries. I hastily cut out some spooky silhouettes from black construction paper and glued them on the bag. When they were dry I dumped a bit of rice in the bottom, to weigh them down. I was going to use tea lights in glass jars but…. surprise surprise, we only have one. And anyway, it didn’t seem to be giving off enough light. So we stuck a flash-light lantern and a headlamp in instead. Ta-Da!

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Happy Halloween!

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The Making of Delicious Yogurt

As you may have guessed from the title, I made yogurt! And delicious yogurt it was too. I have been wanting to do this for a long time but was recently pushed into doing so when I discovered the wonderful yogurt I so love from the market comes in a container that we can’t recycle in Halifax. (As does all of the yogurt and pretend yogurt in the stores.) I was feeling guilty about throwing away a plastic container a week, so it seemed like the perfect reason to start making yogurt. (Yes, I still have to buy milk but the carton can be recycled.) Plus, it’s just the kind of thing I like to do.

I gathered my ingredients:

1 L of homogenized milk (you can use any milk, but I like it creamy)

I used 4 tbsp of skim milk powder to make it a thicker yogurt. This is optional, and I more or less guessed an amount.

1/2 cup of yogurt

And gathered my materials:

a pot

a crock-pot or wide mouth thermos (there are lots of recipes for making yogurt in a crock-pot from start to finish but…..I didn’t. I might try it though.)

candy thermometer

Then, the making:

Warm the milk SLOWLY in a pot on the stove to 180F or 80C. While you are doing this mix the yogurt and milk powder in a bowl. KEEP AND EYE ON YOUR MILK!  When milk is heated, remove from heat and cool to 110F of about 54C. Preheat the thermos or crock-pot with boiling water. I used a crock-pot and also put it on low for a bit to heat it up. Take a bit of milk (say, 1/2 cup) and mix it into the yogurt mixture. Then add that to the rest of the milk in the pan. Empty the water out of your thermos or crock-pot and unplug the crock-pot, if using. Pour in your milk mixture. Put the lid on and keep it in a warm place over-night (up to 24 hours). I covered my crock-pot with a warm blanket for insulation. The next morning you will have yogurt! It’s all VERY exciting.

Here is some of mine, with a bit of blueberry jam. I made 5 cups of yogurt, 1/2 cup of which I will save as a started for my next batch.

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Yarn Bits for Birds

Yesterday I was cleaning up a little pile of yarn ends left after my weaving-in on a pair of socks when I thought of the birds. I have heard of people providing pieces of yarn and string to birds for nest-building. Of course, it’s a little out of season, but this is the prime knitting time, so it actually makes perfect sense to start collecting now.I did some research and it appears that the yarn should be in 2 – 3″ pieces, to prevent the little birdies from being tangled up. Standard delivery methods are mesh onion bags or suet cages. I think maybe I’ll see if I can come up with something attractive made out of a recycled material. Alas, Pekoe has proved himself a keen hunter so I don’t want to actively encourage nearby nesting – I would feel complicit if tragedy (in the guise of Pekoe) should strike. Maybe I can make a few “yarn dispensers” to give away. And come up with a nicer name.

So let the collection begin! Maybe it is the perfect thing to be thinking about as the weather gets colder; a reminder that spring, however far off, will come again. But I’ll tell you what HAS come – my copy of Selvedge! So many beautiful things to look at.

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Morning Yoga with Erik Satie

Recently I’ve been trying to acquire a habit of morning yoga. I’m getting there. I have only limited experience of yoga practice so I’m using a book for my routines. I suppose it’s more like a glorified stretching session, but I do try to incorporate breathing (hard not to!) and balancing mind and body. Today, as the beautiful fall sun spilled in the window,  I found myself wishing I had a place to do yoga outside.  For me this would mean a private place – I’m too self-conscious to be doing yoga anywhere I thought people could see me! But as I’m inside, I usually like to play a bit of music. I’m sure that strictly speaking you are supposed to practice in silence but for my purposes, I find that gentle relaxing music helps me in that it stops my mind from going on to other things. This morning I chose some Erik Satie, and found it perfect for relaxing, breathing and being in the moment. I’ve tried lots of other music, even some with soothing nature sounds, but this was by far the best. It was too tricky to get a photo of me doing yoga ( I’m fine with that!) so, in honour of Satie’s “Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear” here is a little drawing I did a few years ago.

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Care Package

Yesterday I finished my little care package project. Just a quick little neck-warmer using a lace rib pattern and DK merino held double.

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I attached buttons and because the pattern structure includes many little eyelets, I didn’t have to worry about getting a buttonhole in the exact right place. Incidentally, I really haven’t mastered taking arm-length photos of myself. I took about a million and still haven’t achieve any kind of intentional framing!

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Also for the care package –  Teapot Cookies! (this was the “feeding” part of the caring)

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I used a basic sugar cookie recipe,  minus the vanilla, added 1 tbsp of loose Earl Grey tea leaves for each cup of flour, and replaced the vanilla with some lemon juice and rind. I think in retrospect that shortbread would make a particularly good vehicle for tea flavour as the ratio of sugar to the other ingredients is a little less, and that might help the subtle tea aromas come through more. Still, Gary had one before he knew what they were and said immediately “It tastes like Earl Grey”. Just think of the tea possibilities! Oh, I just thought: PossibiliTEAS.

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I added a handmade card, a few bits and bobs and the care package was in the mail!

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Little Bits

Today I just have a few little bits to share.

Here’s something I started knitting for a care package that’s in order.

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Because really, how do I say I care? I make things. Yep. That’s pretty much what I do. And it doesn’t matter how irrelevant it is to the situation, that’s how my caring “instinct” plays out. I’m either going to feed you or knit you something.

And not that this has anything to do with that, but I once again got sidetracked from my photographing mission in the back yard by some beautiful fall foliage.

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Look how the colours shift from warm to cool when the camera angle is only slightly different. These could make an interesting little painting study.

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Baked Beans, Vegetable Soup and Squash Muffins!

I did a fair bit of cooking yesterday. I made some baked beans in the slow cooker – delicious and ever so easy to make! They also freeze very well so after we scoffed some for supper and Gary took some for lunch, we had enough left over to freeze for some evening in the future. We had a lot of veg in the fridge which I wanted to get a start on – things from the market on Saturday and some  from the allotment. I cooked up a big pot of vegetable soup, which I blended (we were given a fantastic hand-held blender so I do that a lot these days!) and will add some cheese and milk to when we are ready to eat it. Incidentally, I am really enjoying the vegetable bouillon cubes I made and am getting through them. They don’t have quite the kick of the store bought cubes, but this is probably because they taste of vegetables, not salt! I find it encourages me to find other ways to add flavour, and once you get used to a slightly more subtle soup, it’s very nice. I will have to make another batch while we can still get the vegetables.

And finally, I struggled into a buttercup squash and improvised some squash, honey and cranberry muffins. They are funny, squat little fellows, but pleasantly moist, and healthy I’m sure, so we’ll call them a success.

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