Sunday, November 11, 2012

Harvesting: The Last of the Lemon Verbena

Taking advantage of some sunny weather to get into the garden. I need to pot up and protect my lemon verbena plants for over-wintering. 
The stevia needs to be harvested and dried as well.

But I got the garlic in, and covered with a lovely winter blanket of leaves. I'll be so happy to see those green shoots in the Spring!

I'd like to try making some lemon verbena hand cream with this last harvest of leaves. Now for internet research!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Knitting: Organizing my Yarn



Unfortunately, much of this isn't for gift knitting so it just sits there all pretty, calling to me, and making me want to cast on about 10 projects at once. ;)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Knitting: Renfrew and Rathtrevor

I can't resist the call of my new Island book, even though I should be doing my gift knits first. Thankfully, these were quick, so I didn't have to feel much guilt! 

 Rathtrevor: (only my favourite place in the world, and now I believe I have discovered my favourite colour way in the world to go along with it. Charcoal, brown, grey...shades of everything that will go with everything!! Love Love Love.)

Am I wrong to be trying to convince Jay to head over to the Island so I can wear my mitts on Rathtrevor Beach?? Expensive photo shoot, perhaps??

And Renfrew, a quick and lovely slouchy hat, knit with a skein of Tanis Fibre Arts aran in the Dove colourway. Faire chose it for me for my birthday and I immediately cast on (after dealing with a horrible mess of a skein and having to spend 2+ hours winding the damn thing by hand - this is when non-knitters wonder why I don't just buy a hat!!)
I love how these hand-dyed yarns look in the reverse stockinette stitch. And thankfully, Jane designed the pattern to be knit inside out, so very little purling!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Knitting: On the Needles and In the Baskets!

A Sand and Sea shawlette. I'm using Habu silk lace - awesome! I'm determined that this pattern will help me get over my aversion to short rows!
This is a gift for the holidays and I know I will be sad to se it go. I anticipate leftover yarn though so I may get a little something for myself out of this silk!

I went to Knit City last weekend!! Greatest thing ever.
And I was number 48 in line, so I was able to score a Fabulous Swag Bag!!

(Thank you, Faire, for patiently waiting with your mom for an hour in line before the event opened so she could score said swag bag. And for enjoying the Knit City as much as your mom and asking to return the next day. You enabler, you!)

Plugging away on my Wisteria sweater. I can't wait to be warm and cozy in it! I have finally signed up for the sweater knitalong at luvinthemommyhood to provide some incentive to finish this, even though holiday gift knitting looms over me!

My beloved yarn purchases from Knit City: Four skeins of Madelinetosh (one Pashmina, two Tosh DK, and one Tosh Merino Light), one skein of Malabrigo sock, and a three-skein set of fingering from We Will Tell You All of Our Secrets (the lovely Caitlin at Baaad Anna's)

None of these will become gifts for others. Just sayin'. ;)

Got my hard copy of the book Pacific Knits, which I had already bought digitally. And I scored an advance copy of Island!!!!! By Jane Richmond! Five patterns all inspired by life on the Island. Anyone who knows me will know that my own love for Vancouver Island is boundless. One day, I will live there. Some of the skeins in the basket above will be used in these patterns. I'm deliberately not winding the skeins into balls so that I am forced to do some gift knitting first!

My easy-access yarn stash is a mess. Today I will figure out what is being used over the next few months, wind it into balls if need be, and put the rest away in the craft room stash area.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Canning: A Typical September Weekend

Ahhh, September.
All my children went to school this year, something that I still find unbelievable!

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the often-repeated question posed to me: "Wow, what's it like with no kids all day??" I'm sure many of them really wanted to ask me when I was going to get a "job"! But that is a post for another day. Ahem.

Mainly, I filled the September days the way I always do - in the kitchen, often with my sister-in-law Kyla, standing over a canning pot! Even though we have go it down to a fine art, it still wipes me out by the end of the month. At this point, I am okay not seeing a fresh tomato for a while. At least not one that I have to peel anyway!

Once I add everything up, I will post my canning yields for the year. There is always more over the next few months, but not major undertakings like in September. I wrote it down last year and it was fun to check back this summer and see what all I accomplished. I wish I had posted it, because now I need to hang on to that paper list!

Until then, a few glimpses at what surrounds my family during this busy, busy month...

For school, Shea had to make an About Me page. Under his mother, he wrote "busy in the kitchen"!! Not surprising right now!

When we run out of space inside, the jars get "downgraded" to the back porch! 

**Now that it is October, and life is settling in somewhat, all these jars have found new homes for the year in our cold room, or kitchen cupboards. What a big job that was!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Savouring: Tayberry Semifreddo

This week, after leaving our broken van in Hope and finally getting home from the Okanagan, we loaded up on the last of the u-pick strawberries, and also picked up flats of raspberries and tayberries. Tayberries are my favourite! A raspberry-blackberry cross, they are lovely and floral. They make a delicious jam with honey, so I froze some to do that when I have more time on my hands (after my sister's wedding!). Shea, however, knew exactly what he wanted with the berries - semifreddo! A family favourite for sure. I love the mousse-like texture of semifreddo. Easier than ice cream (at least you don't need a special machine), and hey, lower in fat, if you care about such things. So after making strawberry-rhubarb sorbet to use up the fast-approaching-death strawberries, semifreddo it was. Oh I love summer berry desserts!

Tayberry Semifreddo

3 cups tayberries (or raspberries, blackberries, or a combination)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
3 large egg whites
1 cup whipping cream

Line a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with 2 sheets of plastic wrap, leaving an overhang on all sides so you can remove the semifreddo easily.

Pulse berries in a food processor until broken up, them push through a strainer to get as much pulp/juice as possible. Set aside.

Bring sugar and water to boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Beat egg whites in an electric mixer until foamy. With speed at medium-high, slowly, and carefully add hot sugar syrup, avoiding the beaters! Beat 8-10 minutes, until egg whites are cooled to room temperature. 

Beat cream until stiff. Fold berry puree into egg white mixture until almost blended, then fold in whipped cream.

Fill loaf pan, spreading the mixture into the corners. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

I usually have a bit of mix left over, which a put into some little dessert glasses. Jay and I enjoy them after the kids go to bed (shhhh!) Let's call it a taste test!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Flying!: Okanagan Lake

We spent the weekend at Sarah and Padra's in Kelowna. At one point on Sunday afternoon, their neighbour arrived in his helicopter. The kids have seen this before and thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Even cooler, though? This time, unbeknownst to them, he was touching down in order to take them up!

All the kids wanted a turn, even the smallest ones! That's six kids altogether. So sweet neighbour John took us up in 3 trips! An adult and two kids each. They were stunned.

Riding up front. She looks like a pro!

I love all the lines.

I didn't get a shot of it, but I was amazed at the amount of backyard pools in Kelowna! I guess it's the Vancouverite in me. I felt like I was flying over LA!

View of the dock, coming back home...

He won't forget this!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gardening: Beginning of July

Boxes are filling in. These are taken from my porch because it's wet. Lots of rain and cool days lately.

The tayberry row looks so spindly, but it is loaded with berries. Can't wait!

Garlic scopes need to be harvested. Beans are starting to sprout around the bean poles, and the lettuce is beautiful, and delicious!

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Graduating": Preschool

Preschool is done. I'm sad about it, and I do believe Isla is too. She struggled through the ceremony, and, while she couldn't put it into words, I knew what she was feeling. Transition is hard.

At the end of the ceremony all the "Caterpillars" (the name of her preschool class) released butterflies as a symbol of their transition to kindergarten. It was so sweet.

Oh, and Hisae, her teacher, loved her shawl!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Celebrating: Our Baby is Five

Isla turned five! There is a part of me that cannot believe my little bean is "school age" and heading off to Kindergarten in the Fall. She has enjoyed preschool so much and made some sweet little friends. Fingers are crossed that she has as good an experience at the Fine Arts school as her siblings.

We had a Luau for her party, mainly because I wanted to use the leftover Hawaiian themed decorations, leis, and grass skirts from a party we had for her brother when she was a newborn! She asked for ice cream sundaes instead of cake, just like Faire did, and man, that makes it easy!

But the day after her party, when the house was finally quiet (we had an adult birthday party for her Dad later in the day/evening of her birthday - yes, we are ridiculous) I decided to make a vegan dessert that we could all enjoy. And we happened to have 5 ripe strawberries in the garden, ready to hold her candles. The chocolate cake recipe I often use happens to be vegan anyway, and I made chocolate avocado mousse for the icing. Delish.

We love parties, but having a quiet birthday cake together felt much more like "us".

Happy Birthday little Bean!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Harvesting: Lemon Balm

This year I am trying to dry the ingredients I use in my favourite tea blend, since many of them grow in my backyard. Buying raspberry leaves in the winter was driving me crazy, knowing I had an abundance all spring and summer and didn't do anything about it!

This morning I harvested the first basket full of lemon balm. It takes no time to dry in my second-hand dehydrator. I've already done a batch of raspberry leaves when I pulled out all the new shoots that appear in the spring, and mint. The mint in my pot is growing great this year, and I'm keeping it there for many a fresh mint cocktail (mojitos, anyone?). But the farm market I regularly visit has big bunches for a low price so I'm trying to bring one or two home each time and dry them so we have lots for winter tea.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Eating Vegan: Day 5

Well, we've had various detox symptoms. I was exhausted and angry on Day 3, but perked up yesterday. I thankfully haven't had any trouble cutting out eggs, meat and dairy. Jay has had some mega detox but is coming out of it now, wow! I am so proud of him for sticking with this, even after two 14 hour days on job sites with crews munching on pizza, timbits, and coffee. And I was easily able to handle a "single-parenting/school performance/dinner needs to happen immediately" scenario yesterday and felt just fine with my choices, or lack thereof. Great, actually. Sitting in a pizza place and watching your kids eat pizza,  moaning about how awesome it is while not partaking yourself is actually doable. Good to know.

I got Dreena Burton's newest cookbook in the mail so that will certainly inspire some meals. This week I've cooked a lot out of the Rebar cookbook. I love that book!

Dinner alone tonight. I promised the kids turkey burgers, but afterwards made myself Heather's easy fried rice (delicious!) and roasted sweet potatoes with orange-cilantro glaze. I was full and happy after the fact (the glass of black currant wine didn't hurt, I'm sure)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Preserving: Food in Jars cookbook!

Aren't they pretty?

I received the new Food In Jars cookbook yesterday and today made two of the recipes. A double batch of Rhubarb syrup (now I can drink Rhubarb soda in November!!) and a batch of Meyer Lemon Jelly. Come to Mama. I predict this jelly and I will be having a great time together when I am no longer following a vegan diet and can make crepes. Yum...

I love to buy a new canning/preserving book at this time of the year, and I'm so happy with this book! She obviously loves rhubarb and meyer lemons as much as I do. And she has got me thinking about a few other types of jams that I would normally not try. Cantaloupe? She described it as tasting like an adult Creamsicle. Um, yes. Many recipes make small batches so you don't have to have vast quantities of produce on hand to whip up some canned goods.

Can't wait to try more!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Knitting: Ishbel Shawl

Why, yes, another shawl! 
This one is for Faire's teacher. 
All three teacher gifts done, and it's not even June! 

This leaves me lots of time to knit more shawls (I'm not kidding,) and other knitted accessories, for my sister's wedding in July. In fact, I believe I will cast on her wedding shawl right now.

Pattern: Ishbel, by Ysolde Teague
Yarn: bfl sock, by Sweet Georgia, in Riptide

Monday, May 21, 2012

Eating Vegan: Day 1

Jay and I are excited to be taking Heather's 30 Day Vegan Workshop, starting today!
I loaded up on produce and have been pouring over vegetarian and vegan recipe books, looking for new ideas to try.

Today for lunch we ate roasted yam wedges with an amazing sage-lime aioli.

Sage-Lime Aioli (Vegan)
2/3 cup vegenaise
zest of one lime
juice of half a lime
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt

Oh so yummy. Will use this as a veggie dip as well. And next time I will try a lemon-basil version. 

I'm looking so forward to trying new recipes, and giving lots and lots of veggies a starring role on our plates!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gardening: May Long Weekend

 Raspberry canes, fully loaded.

Freshly painted "lounge" area. The white tub in the table was Isla's little water play area, but now we've discovered it's true calling : ice cold beer chiller.

 New garden boxes filled and mostly planted.
(This is the view from my back deck.)


So much brown. Soon enough it will be filled with green!