For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The joys of winter...

What fun it is!

We cooked up our tourtierre filling last night. It went really well, though next year, I'm going to have to invest in a large stock pot or something similar. The 12 pounds of meat just fit in my roaster, making it pretty difficult to stir, not to mention work with on one element.

I had plenty of help, as well. Eldest had met up with a friend downtown, but it was so cold, they ended up coming here. I was on the way out to do the last big grocery shopping before Christmas, so I picked them up at the train station so they wouldn't have to walk or bus the rest of the way. I intended to just drop them off at home, fill the gas tank, then go shopping when I jokingly asked if they wanted to come along. They decided to come with me! That worked our rather well.

Oh, it was quite nice to fill that tank from about 1/8th to full for only $31. The last time I had to fill that tank when it was that empty, it cost me almost $60.

The girls were a great help at the grocery store, and carried most of the bags in for me, too. Then, when it came time to actually cook the tourtierre filling, and had 3 extra sets of hands to make short work of thing. I got Youngest peeling garlic cloves for me - in the living room, since there was no space in the kitchen. Eldest's friend measured out the salt and spices for me while Eldest prepped the food processor and started peeling onions. Meanwhile, I was unwrapping packages of meat and mixing them up in the roaster. That grossed everyone out. LOL

Youngest chopped up the garlic cloves for me, too. We've got a handy little chopper for that. By the time Eldest finished peeling the onions, she was weeping from the fumes, so we kicked her out of the kitchen to deal with that while her friend quartered them for me and I pulsed the pieces in the processor. I love kitchen appliences! Can you imagine having to finely chop a bag of onions manually?

When the cooking was done and the meat was cooled down a bit, I covered it with a layer of foil, popped the lid on the roaster and we set it out onto the balcony for the night.

Problems started this morning, when my husband couldn't open the inside sliding door. Water had pooled in the tracks and frozen overnight. We ended up having to use a hair drier - and a towel to sop all the water up - to be able to open the door. It took something like half an hour before we could get the meat back inside! Unfortunately, it's going to happen again. Things get pretty humid in here, and the baseboard heaters are under all the windows. There's going to be constant melt and freeze all winter. Last year, we only had to thaw things about a couple of times. We'll see how it turns out this year.

The frosty meat is a bit of a chuckle. It isn't actually frozen solid, though the outer edges are pretty close. We'll start making the pastry in the afternoon. It should be workable by then.

We're really looking forward to trying our first tourtierre tonight. We've never had boar meat before. I wonder how much it'll change the flavour?

Friday, December 19, 2008

I love my kids

Things have been pretty busy lately - what else is new? - as we slowly get ourselves ready for Christmas on top of everything else. Today was one of those days were I really appreciated having older kids. We ended up meeting my husband for lunch today, then after a brief stop at home, I left the girls to themselves while I ran out to do some errands. I had only one thing I needed them to do while I was gone. Cruel parent that I am, I told them this was a good time to watch the library videos, since they have to be returned soon. Eldest found a list of the top 50 distopian movies of all time, and she's wanting to see as many of them as she can. She found quite a few in the library and put them on hold, ending up with 5 of them at once - with 3 more waiting to be picked up tomorrow. The problem is, we don't watch tv much at all, even with the girls having a working dvd player of their own again, so the movies have been just sitting around.

I ended up being gone long enough that Dh and I met up after he finished work so I could give him a ride home. It's been another foul weather day, so I don't mind saving him a ride on the bus if I can. As we were on the way home, we decided to pick the girls up and got for a fast food supper, since my being out all day meant no supper ready. I did think that the girls might have made something, but figured they wouldn't mind eating out even if they did.

Which means the girls had several hours on their own to watch the library movies and do whatever else they wanted. So what did they do?

They cleaned the apartment.

I walked into a living room that was all tidied up - library books organized into piles instead of spread out all over the place (which reminds me - I haven't posted the library list. We didn't take out anything new last week, except for Eldest's movies; we just renewed everything we could). Youngest even vacuumed up the little bits of carpet tufts the cats have been working loose from their scratching post. They even made the table all pretty with Christmas candles and decorations. Then there's the kitchen. Wow, did they do a good job there! Everything looks so great. They even prepped the recycling, so all we need to do is take it downstairs.

Ah, those irresponsible teens and tweens. Can't depend on them for anything. LOL

I love my kids!

So it's been a pretty productive day all around, though it had it's odd spots (I'll be writing that story here, after I'm finished with this post). Among my errands, I found a butcher I could order our tourtierre meat from. The game portion is going to be wild boar! We're pretty excited to try that. I have to admit, I was *really* tempted to try Musk Ox. Just because it was there. I mean, how often do you see Musk Ox? They also had ostrich, elk, venison and some uncommon cuts of more common meats. I'm going to like this place! Our order will be ready Saturday morning, and we'll be cooking the meats that afternoon so that we can make the tourtierre themselves on Sunday. There's just a few spices and stuff that I'll need to pick up before then.

The girls are helping me work out a menu for our Wigilia on Christmas Eve. Eldest wants to make a salad. She's been doing that quite a bit lately, but she wants to experiment and make something more substantial - and protein filled. She's thinking seafood. Youngest is thinking deserts. She's suggesting something cheese cakey. If that's what we go with, I'm cheating and buying one, since I don't have my supplies for that and am not willing to buy another spring form pan right now. That and we'll have enough to do with the rest of the meal. :-D Dh wants me to make something with lentils; the Herbed Barley with Pancetta might fit the bill, though I'll make something else the girls, too. Eldest doesn't like barley or lentils, and Youngest likes barely, but not lentils. :-/ Meal decisions can be pretty difficult sometimes. *L*

Well, time to go do a bit more writing before I head to bed. Tomorrow is another day of running around.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hot Spiced Apple and Cranberry Juice

Since we were having a more special supper tonight, thinking it was the Feast of St. Catherine, Eldest made her spiced apple drink. It's really excellent, so I thought I'd share the recipe.

Hot Spiced Apple and Cranberry Juice

2 L apple juice
2 L cranberry juice
cinnamon sticks
whole cloves
1 apple, optional
whole ginger, optional

In a large pot, combine juices. Add spices. Experiment with the quantities of spices for your own tastes. Eldest likes to use about 6 cinnamon sticks, enough whole cloves to fill the bottom of a tea ball and about a tablespoon or so of ground nutmeg in a little baggie. I think she used a coffee filter to make the baggie. The tea ball and baggie aren't needed, but they do make clean up easier, and you don't get dregs of spices in your glass later on.

If using an apple, wash thoroughly, cut into slices and add it to the juices and spices. If using the ginger, peel and slice a piece about half an inch long. The ginger can be a bit strong, so start with less before determining how much you like to use.

Heat over low until the juices are hot and the flavours are combined, which may take as long as an hour.

Serve hot. Any juice left over can be strained and refrigerated.

First Day of Christmas

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the US. I hope you all had a wonderful day of it. :-)

It turns out I got my dates mixed up. I thought today, the 27th, was the Feast of St. Catherine, which we mark as the first day of our Christmas season. Some Acadian families traditionally make their Tire (pull toffee) on this day. Except, as I started to write this post and went looking back at older posts, I discovered St. Catherine's Day is actually on the 25th.

Oh, well. We celebrated it today. Not with making Tire, which no one felt up to making, but with a slightly fancier supper with candles and such.

We also put up our tree today. We didn't decorate it. It's just up. With our new kitten (who's almost old enough to be called a cat), we wanted a bit of time to train her NOT to go into the tree, using the spray bottle method. Not something we want to do with strings of lights on the tree!

So far, so good. She started investigating the tree once and got sprayed. When she started to look like she was heading for it again later, Youngest picked up the spray bottle, and that was enough for the kitten to run away. Several hours later, she seemed overly interested in it again but ran off when Dh picked up the spray bottle. He ended up leaving the spray bottle under the tree - and the kitten hasn't shown an interest in it since! LOL

We'll give it a couple more days, then decorate.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Slow Cooker Pea Soup with Lentils

I whipped together this variation of my usual pea soup (I don't usually have spare lentils hanging around) in the slow cooker before heading out for the afternoon. It turned out really well, so I figured I'd share it.

Note: I made this using a 6 quart crock pot and it was filled quite handily. If you have a smaller pot, adjust quantities as needed. This also makes a very hearty soup that does better as a meal than a starter.

Slow Cooker Pea Soup with Lentils

1 pkg (900g) split yellow peas
about 1 cup lentils
1 meaty ham bone*
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped small
about 10 - 12 cups broth or water

if using water, use salt and pepper to taste, as well as any other herbs or spices you like.

*Whenever you have a big, bone-in ham, leave a fair amount of meat on the bone and freeze it for future soups. I try to have 1 or 2 in the freezer at all times.

Pick over the peas and lentils, then rinse until the water runs clear. Add the peas and lentils to the crock pot liner. Spread them evenly.

Place the ham bone in the middle of the pot, pushing it into the peas and lentils a bit.

Add the chopped veggies around the ham bone.

Pour the liquid into the pot. If you're using broth (I like to use chicken, but vegetable works fine, too. I haven't tried beef broth), you shouldn't need to add anything else for seasonings, unless you'd like to throw in a bay leaf or something. If you're using water, add salt and pepper to taste. Just be careful not to use too much salt, as the ham bone will add its own salty flavour.

You'll need at least 10 cups of liquid for a really thick soup. Remember that the cooked soup will continue to thicken as it cools, so feel free to add more (I used 11, cups but I like a rather thick pea soup). If you later find you haven't added enough, use freshly boiled water to thin.

Cover the stock pot and set it to high for 6 hours.

Near the end of the 6 hours, you can take the ham bone out and leave it on a cutting board to cool for a bit. Give the soup a bit of a stir before putting the lid back on.

Once the ham bone is cool enough to handle, remove the meat. Chop the meat and add it back to the pot. Stir well. Toss away the bone and whatever gristly bits remain. If you've used a bay leave, remove it and toss it away at this point, too.

Adjust seasonings to taste, if needed.

Serve with a heavy, solid bread, like Black Russian Rye, and a green salad. Pea soup is also great served in bread bowls.

Left over soup can be refrigerated, or put individual servings into Ziplock bags and freeze.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Extended library list

Our library visits for the last while have been sporadic. Scheduling has been a bit of a problem, and I won't do a library trip if I've got a shift that night, and my shifts aren't always on the same days. So we've been doing more renewing than taking out. *L*

This is what we've got right now.

Starting with the multi-media items (because they're easier for me to reach right now) we have:

The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwin. This is a 9 CD set of the book by Michael J. Behe (who was also interviewed for the dvd, A Flock of Dodos). We've only got to disc 4 so far. Fascinating stuff. Behe is also the author of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.

Kissey Asplund: Plethora. Music cd; I didn't really like this one.
Energy Avenue: Shh, Just Go With It. Music cd; I didn't really like this one, either.

Samurai Japan: A Journey Back in Time. From the Lost Treasures of the Ancient World dvd series, this was quite interesting.

The Sherlock Holmes Collection Vol. Two. A four dvd set of old black and white movies: Pearl of Death, The Scarlet Claw, The Spider Woman and The House of Fear. The kids found them all right, but I had a really hard time watching them. I've never seen Holmes portrayed so ... erratic. It wasn't the most flattering portrayal of Waston, either. The stories were set in a more recent time period, and had little to do with the original stories at.

Origins of Life: Parts 1 and 2. From the Great Courses series, each part is 2 dvds for a total of 24 lectures. Eldest had been watching these during her home alone times, but she hasn't have many of those lately.

Now to the books. Youngest's list is short and sweet. She took out Folk Tales of Ireland and has been really enjoying it.

Eldest's list is a lot more extensive... *L*

Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science - from the Babylonians to the Maya. Totally fascinating. I highly recommend it. Lots of read-aloud parts. I might have to renew it again so I can read it from top to bottom myself.

The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen. This one got renewed so I could work on it. I think many home schooling families recognise that the stereotypical teen angsty behaviour is not as inevitable as our culture has lead us to expect. It's another book I highly recommend. When Eldest read it, there were a lot of read-aloud moments, too.

Sundays with Vlad: From Pennsylvania to Transylvania. One Man's Quest to Live in the World of the Undead. This book is quite hilarious and entertaining. The author, Paul Bibeau, has a very conversation writing style, and great sense of humour.

A Dictionary of Sacred and Magical Plants.
Garden Flower Folklore.
I don't know that Eldest has actually read either of these. They both seem excellent sources of historical information surrounding specific plants.

A Venetian Bestiary. This one looks at the portrayal of creatures both real and fantastical.

Juice of Life: The Symbolic and Magic Significance of Blood. Eldest just finished this one, but I don't know what she thought of it yet.

Nursery Rhymes of Newfoundland and Labrador. Samples from a random page include:

The last living father is dead
The last living father is dead
Oh, take off his glasses
And put him to bed
The last living father is dead.


Vote for Wyatt: she won't be quiet


Diefenbaker, thief and faker.

From the opposite page:

Here's to our foes,
May we cut off their toes,
So we'll know them again
When we see them limping.

Alrighty then... LOL

And finally, Cassell's Dictionary of Superstitions. This one was still sitting in the book bag, so no one's tried to read it yet. *L*

Now for my list!

In the weather/climate category I've got:

The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization
Extreme Weather: a guide & record book
Blame it on the Weather: Strange Canadian weatehr facts

I also grabbed:

I Love my Life: A mom's Guide to Working from Home. This would be much more useful for someone in the US.
Fix-It and Forget-It: Diabetic Cookbook. I recently picked up the regular Fix-It and Forget-It slowcooker cookbook. This one has diabetic friendly recipes from the same book
Every Day's a Holiday Diabetic Cookbook: More Quick & Easy Recipes Everybody Will Love. Interesting recipes. Lame commentary.

Then there's my stack of craft books.

Let's Make Cute Stuff by Aranzi Aronzo! Cute Dolls. A suprisinly hilarious book I picked up for Eldest.
Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts: Amigurumi. I've discovered I like Amigurumi techniques. I'm going to have to start coming up with my own designs, though.
Mr. Funky's Super Crochet Wonderful; Included Supercute: Amigurumi Animals, Super-Cool Accessories. More varieties of amigurumi than in the previous book.
So Simple Crochet: A fabulous collection of 24 fashionable and fun designs. Some really nice stuff in here.
Quick Crochet: 35 fast, fun projects to make in a weekend; bags, jewelry, scarves, accessories, hats. Some nice some, some... uhm... kinda weird stuff.
Crochet for Today. A wide variety of projects in here.
How to Crochet: The definitive crochet course complete with step-by-step techniques, stitch libraries and projects for your home and family. Some nice projects that demonstrate the different techniques.
Crochet Style: chic and sexy accessories. A few nice projects and one that kind of freaked me out. It was billed as an ankle bracelet - or arm band. The idea that anyone's upper arm is as thin as their ankle really alarms me. Yes, they had photos of models wearing it both ways.
The Harmony Guides 220 more Crochet Stitches Vol. 7. Useful and practical. No projects, just patterns.
Party Crochet: 24 hot designs to get you in the party mood. Some very beautiful projects in here!

Embroidery Techniques & Patterns. I got this for a reference more than anything else.
Creative Backstitch. This is the book that got me to change my mind on my yearly Christmas decoration. Beautiful patterns and projects.

All done!! :-D

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'll help you!

I just had to share these photos I took of Eldest with Youngest's kitten.

Whenever Eldest paints or draws, the kitten comes right over. Today, Eldest set up on the living room couch and the kitten promptly nuzzled her way onto her lap.

I wasn't fast enough to catch her actually trying to catch the brush, but I did get her in hunt mode.

Though walking across the wet painting was a bit much!! LOL

Too funny!


We are all big fans of digital photography, though Youngest's interest seems to have waned. Four years ago, we had none. My husband got me a little point and shoot in the fall of 2004. Now we have 3 DSLRs and 3 older point and shoots, plus we'd had another point and shoot that we sold. I still use one of the point and shoots for it's video capability. Between us, we've easily taken in excess of 10,000 photos in the last couple of years alone, though we certainly haven't kept them all. The joy of digital - if you screw up a photo, you just delete it. One of the reasons I'd stopped using our film camera long ago was because there were so many wasted shots - the camera never seemed to focus where it was supposed do - and I got really tired of paying for garbage shots.

As great as digital photography is, there's still something to be said for film photography, and Eldest and been itching to try it out. More specifically, pinhole photography. Today, Dh noticed a site in a photo magazine that we checked out. Corbis Readymech Cameras. I love the idea that you can print out a camera!!

We ended up printing out the Freud-cam (Photos of Your Mother) and the red Pablo version. The pdf printouts include instructions, of course. Eldest has started assembling the Freud version, but is still missing pieces - like film and a film cannister - to finish it, so it'll be a few days before she can try it out.

It should be interesting to see how they turn out!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I've changed my mind

I've got 45 minutes to post before I have to go back to doing laundry. One plus side of living in a large apartment block. I've got 5 loads to do today, and they're spread over 5 floors. Two and a half to three hours is a lot better than the 7 or 10 it would take otherwise (most likely 10, since the drier on our floor doesn't dry well and always needs extra time).

So just a quick post.

Every year, I make new Christmas decorations for our tree. This year, since I've taken up crochet again, I was planning to make things like crochet snowflakes in white glow in the dark yarn.

Then I found a book in the library called Creative Backstitch and was totally inspired! I'll still do some crochet. I'm going to use the glow in the dark yarn to make a spiral garland edged in red. For the other decorations, I'm going to make spice sachets. I'll be backstitching designs on aida cloth strips, make the strips into little baggies, then put whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and other spices I can think of inside. I'll include some fibrefill to keep things from moving around and, since I'm adding that in, I'll pick up some scented oil - vanilla, I'm thinking - and add a few drops. Then I'll decorate the top edge (haven't decided exactly how, yet), gather them closed so that the cinnamon sticks still show out the top, with loops for hanging. The sachets in the book are stuffed with lavender blossums and trimmed with lacy ribbon.

I'm looking forward to making them and most likely have everything I need to make them - I'll know for sure once I've decided on the decorative edging - but I can't start them yet. I refuse to allow myself to get distracted away from the coat I'm currently crocheting for Eldest. I'd really like for her to be able to wear it before things get too cold for such a relatively light coat. I'm working on the last sleeve, with the back panel and both front panels already blocked and waiting. After the sleeves are blocked, it needs to be assembled and I'll get my daughter to put it on while I figure out how to do a collar. The pattern I've modified for this is a cardigan with no collar, and I've never done collars before. I have several ideas, but I want to see how it sits on her shoulders, before I made any decisions.

Once that's figured out, a button band needs to be added, which is made up of 5 rows of crochet going up one side panel, around the neck, down the other, then back again. For added interest, when that is finished, Eldest has chosen a contrasting yarn she'd picked up for her doll making that I'll use to add a few rows to the bottom of the coat and to the cuffs.

So I'm really wanting to push getting this finished. I do hope it fits her well. I deliberately chose a larger size for this, but the panels still look so narrow. The book I got it from was for plus sized clothing and the models where all a lot larger than her, but none of them had her broad shoulders and generous front. I keep looking at the panels and thinking there's going to be trouble on her upper body. Especially since it's meant to be worn over cool weather tops. The button panels will add a couple of inches, but still... well, we'll see. Something else to figure out when I get her to put it on after assembly. I might add extra rows to the button panel or something like that.

Working all this out is fun!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a safe and fun night.

Eldest is off on a Zombie Walk at a local mall, so Youngest dressed up and went along - whether she'll join the Zombie Walk or trick or treat in the mall, we're leaving for her to decide. Normally, there's just one Zombie Walk a year, and that was last week, but the owners of the mall actually asked the group to invade the mall! There's a club that requested an invasion, too, but the girls are a bit young for clubbing. ;-)

Me, I'm working tonight, though I don't start until 7pm. So I'm missing out on their fun. It's my only shift of the week, so I wasn't about to cancel it. Ah, well. I'm sure my husband will take lots of photos! :-D

Have fun, folks!! :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The girls and I just finished watching the dvd, Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus. It's supposed to be neutral, in that it "...tweaks egos and pokes fun at both sides of the evolution vs. intelligent design debate."

No surprise that it wasn't all that neutral. Heck, it even devolved into a Democrat (read: intelligent and open minded) vs. Republican (read: backwards and ignorant) thing.

What we all came away with was some interesting observations that have little to do with the validity of either argument, but rather the attitude of those who hold them. There was a significant difference in the two sides.

On the one hand, there were those who supported ID. When interviewed, they responded intelligently, openly, and respectfully. Sometimes they messed up, but they never lost their cool, so to speak. More telling was their attitude towards their "opponents" and detractors. They spoke respectfully of those who disagreed with them, without denigrating them for holding opposing opinions. Most importantly, they seemed to speak on the assumption that the listener was capable of grasping what they were saying, regardless of what the listener's opinion on the subject was. (Granted, some refused to take part in the documentary, so I have no way of knowing if this applied to them as well.)

Then there were the evolutionists. In part of the movie, a group of 8 PhD's were gathered for a poker game (there's a history behind this). There were others interviewed separately, or in smaller groups. A few things quickly became noticeable. One was the mocking attitude towards those who dared question evolution. There was no acknowledgment that there are even other theories of evolution besides Darwinism (I only recently discovered there are a number of theories, of which Darwin's Natural Selection/gradualism is the least likely or provable). There was a strong disrespect for those who disagreed, with a lot of open, often hostile, emotions displayed. Above all, they came across as thinking that people were just too stupid to believe the truth - and the only truth was their own conclusions.

Near the end of the documentary, one of the poker playing PhD's hit the nail on the head, IMO. He spoke of the difference between Darwin and his contemporary, Agassiz, and how Agassiz was able to relate to ordinary people (well, white ones, anyways - he was pretty racist). Agassiz worked on the assumption that people were intelligent enough to understand what he was saying. The PhD who brought this up suggested that something similar is happening today, where the ID proponents are the Agassiz's to the evolutionist's Darwin.

I think this is the most telling difference between those who insist that only evolution be taught in schools, as if there were only one theory and only one possibility, and those who propose to "teach the controversy." The evolutionists seem to think that anyone who disagrees or questions them are idiots, and that the ordinary person (or student in school) isn't smart enough to come to their own conclusions, and must be told only the 'right' things. Alternative possibilities are simply unthinkable.

Whether or not these individuals truly believe that is debatable. It's how they're coming across.

Another problem I think a lot of scientists have is that, when faced with the gaps in their theories or knowledge, they don't know how to say, "I don't know." Nothing unusual about that. I think most people have a hard time admitting they don't have the answers. When it comes to science, though, there's a different level of expectation. Scientists are supposed to have all the answers. Scientists, like anyone else, like to be right, but they have more at stake than others. Most of us aren't at risk of loosing our reputations or careers if we turn out to be wrong about something. So when presented with a challenge to their theories and conclusions, scientists have the very natural human response of wanting to defend those theories and conclusions in ever more convoluted ways.

Some of my favorite scientific books were those that 1) treated the reader as being intelligent enough to understand what was being presented, without dumb-ing the information down, and 2) are able to say "this is what the evidence is right now, this is what I (the author) think the evidence is saying, but in the end, we just don't know."

I think the most powerful thing anyone can say, but especially a scientist, is "I don't know."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to take a moment away from today's preparations to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. (For those of you visiting from the US, our Thanksgiving is on the second Monday of October.)

We have much to be thankful for, not the least of which is that tomorrow is election day - which means all the disgusting antics shown by our campaigning party leaders will finally be at an end! I can't imagine going through two years of this, like in the US!! I feel for you guys. Really, I do!

So today, I hope my fellow Canadians get to enjoy a lot of good food with family and friends, then go out and vote tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cookin' with Hippocrates

I finally tried a recipe I've been eye-balling in The Philosopher's Kitchen; Recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome for the Modern Cook, for some time. I happen to really love barley, but the rest of the family isn't quite so enthusiastic about it - and Eldest doesn't like it at all. I tried it anyways. ;-)

Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.), by the way, swore by barley's healthfulness and "prescribed a diet consisting solely of cereals and breads made from barley for the duration of an illness."

Herbed Barley with Pancetta

4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, halved and thinly sliced
1 celery rib with leaves, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf (not pictured)

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried savory
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup pearl barley
1 quart chicken stock
1/3 cup lentils
salt and freshly milled pepper

(note: remember to pick through the lentils and barley to get rid of things like the blackish piece you can see in the lentil bowl.)

Saute the pancetta and onion in a large stockpot over medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes

This photo was taken at about 8 minutes. I figured it looked right.

(I suppose the pancetta was supposed to provide the fat necessary for this part, but it didn't seem to be enough, so I did add a touch of oil.)

Add the garlic, carrot, celery, leek, bay leaf, and savory. (See - I remembered to include the bay leaf...) Saute until the vegetables become tender, about 5 minutes.

Raise the heat, add 2 tablespoons of the dill, the barley, and the stock and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat, cover and slow-boil for 45 minutes.

Add the lentils and continue cooking until tender, 15-20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with the remaining 2 tablespoons of fresh dill.

The verdict: It went over fairly well. I loved it, though I think I'll go a bit slighter on the salt next time. Dh liked it, too. The girls... the word "strange" was used, but they said it tasted good. Eldest said she just needed to get over the fact that it was barley. *L*

Way cool video!

I found this on The Presurfer.

What you're seeing...

A loudspeaker with a metal plate on top, sprinkled with salt.

The patterns show the different sound vibrations as the tone changes.

WARNING: Keep the sound low or even shut it off. It can get pretty hard on the ears.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another library list

I guess I'd better get in the habit of posting more often, since the "school year" has started, though we don't actually have our facilitator visit until next week.

So this is our new library list. We ended up returning two large bags and one small one when we went in, only to come back out with two more bags of books. *L* We hadn't returned everything, so I figure I'd better write up the new list before everything gets hopelessly mixed together. ;-)

Eldest got her usual varied selection.

Gene Future: The Promise and Perils of the New Biology - Thomas F. Lee
The Trial - Franz Kafka
The Stories that Haunt Us: More Terrifying Tales from the author of Maritime Mysteries - Bill Jessome
Dracula - Bram Stoker
Nemesis: The Death-Star and the Other Theories of Mass Extinction - Donald Goldsmith
Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires - Michael E. Bell
Night Creatures - Enchanted World Series (usually, Youngest picks books from this series. ;-D )
Vampires, Zombies and Monster Men - Farson

The irony of all these vampire books is that Eldest doesn't like vampires and really detests vampire stories. She started reading the Anne Rice books and was totally turned off the entire genre. But, she's doing some stuff that requires vampire research, so there ya go. Eldest is also staying away from this entire list until such time as she finished the books she hadn't returned yet. She's finished Fly, which was a fascinating - and hilarious - read. Who though a book about evolution, genetics and fruit flies could be so funny?

Youngest still has stuff from last time, so she only took out one more book, Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels - Scott McCloud

I've already gone through a lot of my books, so I can tell you more about them. ;-)

Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker - Debbie Stoller. This book has a wide variety of designs from different designers, as well as the basics of crochet. Some of the patterns are hopelessly tacky. Others are pretty fantastic. And I'll never understand why anyone would make a crochet string bikini, never mind actually wear one. *shudder*

Vintage Crochet: 30 Gorgeous Designs for Home, Garden, Fashion - Susan Cropper. Usually when I see things like "vintage" or "contemporary" in craft book titles, it's a warning to me that they will be filled with the weirdest things ever. Happily, this isn't like that. There are some designs that had me scratching my head a bit, but most of the patterns in this book are really good renditions of old techniques and patterns.

Christmas Ornaments to Make: 101 Sparkling Holiday Trims - Better Homes and Gardens. This one has some thread crochet patterns that I really like. Not anything I can use my glow in the dark yarn for, mind you; I have chunkier items in mind for that.

300 Slow Cooker Favorites and The Best Family Slow Cooker Recipes - Donna-Marle Pye. These were the only two slow cooker books I found, and it wasn't until I started looking at them later than I realized they were by the same person, and that the smaller one was basically a pared down remake of the 300 Favorites one. Which is fine. A lot of amazing sounding recipes to try out!

Once-a-Month Cooking - Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. I've been curious about once a month cooking for years, having talked to people on a home school email list that actually do it. It's not something we can do right now, but once every two weeks cooking is a possibility. ;-D

Margaretta Acworth's Georgian Cookery Book - edited by Alice and Frank Prochask. The authors found the handwritten cookbook of Margaretta Acworth, which gave a wonderful glimpse into life in the time period. The recipes were pared down to a few that could be more easily recreated in modern kitchens - and which they found taseted great, too. ;-)

The Roman Cookery of Apicius: A Treasury of Gourmet Recipes & Herbal Cookery, Translated and Adapted for the Modern Kitchen - John Edwards. Apicius defines ancient Roman cookery, even though he didn't actually write all the cookbooks attributed to him (there were also other people of the same name, but none as famous or flamboyant). Both recipes and history are fascinating, and I'd love to try and find some of the ingredients and try a few out.

The Philosopher's Kitchen: Recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome for the Modern Cook - Francine Segan. I actually took this out before and enjoyed it so much, I went hunting for it again. Really interesting. This is the source of Eldest's mushroom dish. The actual name of the recipe is Field and Forest Salad.

Now for the cd's of the week...

Bach: Art of Fugue - Vladimir Feltsman piano (I'm actually listening to this 2 cd set as I write this post)
Jungle Drums - Morton Gould and his Orchestra
Canto Gregorian
Dowland: Fancyes, Dreams and Spirits: Lute Music 1 - Nigel North, Lute

and the dvd's...

Joanne Weir's Cooking Class - this is a 4 dvd set. We've already watched most of the first one, and are more impressed than we thought we would be. No preaching are demonizing of certain ingredients. The people on here actually *like* their food!

Crochet Fasions in Motion: Create Trendy Fashion Accents - Liesure Arts. A how-to dvd with projects ranging from a hat and scarf set to a sarong skirt and fingerless gloves.

Fit for Real People - featuring Marta Alto. A how-to for sewing clothes to fit your own body type.

Shark Mountain: The Expedition of a Lifetime with Award-winning filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall. Because we like shark stuff.

Dogfight Over Guadaleanal - Secrets of the Dead series. We'd really liked the Headless Romans dvd of this series and wanted to try out another.

Eldest picked this next bunch with her dad in mind.
France is Free - Rene-Jean Bouyer
1805 The Battle of Austerlitz - narrated by Brian Blessed
D-Day: The Battle that Liberated the World
The Libertation of Holland
The Battle of Britain: the Official History

I'd say this will tide us over for a little while. ;-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

We got a rather large slow cooker recently. I'd never had any experience with one before, but I knew so many people who swore by them, I've long wanted to get one. I ended up getting it for free, too, using the loyalty points at our local grocery store. Can't go wrong with that! :-D

I don't have any slow cooker recipes, save the ones that came with the cooker's instruction booklet. So I've been experimenting with recipes and suggestions in the booklet and modifying recipes I already use. Not that I'm a stickler for using recipes much in the first place. ;-)

This morning I used the cooker to make a stew while Youngest and I were out for most of the day. It worked so well, I thought I'd share it here.

(Note: both girls have expressed interest in cooking, so you'll probably be reading many more food and cooking related posts in the future.)

So here we have it. My version of Slow Cooker Beef Stew.
I'm sort of loose on the quantities - feel free to adjust them for the size of your cooker.

approx. 2 pounds stewing beef
5-6 potatoes (I used Russet, because that's what I had)
4 carrots
1 large parsnip
(normally, I'd include an onion, but I'd used my last onion up a couple of days ago. Include 1 yellow onion, if you have it handy. Also, most recipes for beef stew call for celery, but my kids don't like cooked celery, so I use the parsnip instead. Feel free to adjust veggies to your personal preference.)
approx. 1 1/2 cups beef stock
approx. 1/4 cup flour
salt, pepper, paprika, bay leaf, garlic granules (or fresh garlic)

First, get your stew meat out and plop it all into the crock pot.

Shoo cats out of kitchen.

Add the flour, salt (about 1/2 -1 tsp) and pepper (about 1/2 tsp).

Pry kitten off ankle and remove from kitchen.

Stir or toss the meat until evenly coated with the flour. Place crock into cooker and set aside.

Use spray bottle of water to chase kitten out of kitchen.

Peel and slice the parsnip and carrots, tossing them on top of the meat, spreading evenly. (This would be when you add the onion, chopped, if you have one. )

Note both cats sitting just outside the kitchen, hoping you drop some meat.

Peel and cube the potatoes, then add to pot, spreading evenly.

Sprinkle on paprika, garlic granules (or fresh chopped garlic) - I have no idea how much I used - and add bay leaf. Or use whatever herbs and spices you like best and have on hand.

Pour broth into the pot. (I just made some up from powdered bouillon.)

Put lid on crock and set the cooker to either HIGH 6 hours or LOW 10 hours. I used HIGH 6 hours today.

Note disdainful expressions on cats' faces as you leave the kitchen.

Head out for the day. Go to the park. Run errands. Do stuff with your kids. Relax in the knowledge that, by the time you get home, supper will be ready. Swoon at the heavenly smells filling your home when you get back.

After the slow cooker switches from cook to warm, uncover the stew. Remove the bay leaf. Thoroughly stir the stew. Note how the meat is so tender, it practically disintegrates.

Chase cats out of kitchen.

Chase hungry husband out of kitchen.

Shut off the cooker and leave the stirred stew to sit and cool down for a while.

After about 5 minutes, give up waiting for the stew to cool down and have the entire family dig in, putting up with burned lips and tongues from insanely hot potatoes.

Resolve that next time, you'll wait for the potatoes cool down more before eating. Laugh at yourself, because you know that'll never happen.

Goes great with buttered buns.

Note to self, once again, that getting a slow cooker was a really, really good idea.

Actually, we're now talking about getting a second, smaller, slow cooker. I found some slow cooker recipe books and some of the beverages sound amazing. I figure we can have one small slow cooker for drinks, and save the large one for meals. I'm already dreaming of waking up on cold winter mornings to the smell of hot spiced apple cider...


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A sort of library list

I've been lax in keeping up with the library lists lately. We've been renewing and taking out more so often, I figured it'd be easier to just do it this way.

Click on the photo for the larger size.

The CD titles are illegible, though. They are:

The Good Road by Cheryl Bear
Joy of Life by Karunesh
Love/Hate by Nine Black Alps.

The stack on the right - everything below the dvd's - is mine. The stack on the left is the girls' stuff. Not that it matters much. Our current read-aloud has been Darwin's Blind Spot. Great stuff - I highly recommend it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My first string crochet.

Not too far from us is a Reuse Centre. I'd been meaning to check it out for ages, and the girls and I finally managed it. I had to ask how things work, since we'd never been there before. I knew people donated stuff, but not how people acquired stuff. It turns out that you can grab as much as you want for $2. The only thing is that they weigh what you've picked up, since that's how they keep track of things.

There was so much stuff there; books, knick-knacks, bin after bin of fabric sorted by colour, and more bins of all sorts of stuff. Youngest and I found one with yarn in it. There were a couple of spools of crochet thread in variagated colours. I got one in greens and another that ranged from pale yellow to bright orange.

Which meant I needed to get some tiny hooks. I ended up getting set of them, since I had no idea what size would be best. Then I went through a book of crochet motifs I bought a little while ago and settled on the pattern you see in this photo. The sample in the book was make with yarn, and the effect is very different. It's like a miniature doiley, measuring about 3-4 inches across.

I've decided on this year's Christmas decorations. I picked up a ball of white glow in the dark yarn and will be using it to crochet various shapes. I just need to find a variety of patterns I like.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

That time of year again

Although in some places a lot of kids have already started school, today was the first day of school locally. It was also the day of our annual Not Back to School Picnic. A whole bunch of us gathered together at one of the local parks. There were a lot of wee ones at the play structure while the older ones played in the trees, kicked some balls around, and so on. Youngest and I both brought our crochet. I'm pausing with the sweater I'm making to whip up a pair of slippers for my husband, using chunky yarn and a large hook. Youngest asked me to show her how to make slippers, and is making a pair for her dad, too. I don't follow a pattern with these at all. A number of years ago, my Italian pen pal sent me a gift that included some exquisite cutwork embroidery and a pair of crocheted slippers, made by her mother. When I learned to crochet, I studied those slippers to figure out how to make another pair, as they do wear out rather quickly. I adjust them to fit whoever I'm making them for, so no two pairs are ever quite the same, which makes explaining how to make them a bit of a challenge! *L*

Elder daughter isn't wanting to go to the park days anymore. She'd rather stay home and work on her studies and other projects. Today was a chance to spend time with a friend who's going to school now - a very different school that allows the students to be very self-directed. If we were to send our girls to school, a place like this is exactly what I'd like. I don't want to know how much the parents are paying to send her there, though... :-P

Just for fun, Eldest dressed up for the day, including a purple wig styled in a short bob. Although she's had the wig for a while, this is the first time I've actually seen her wearing it. I thought it looked really great. She got creative with the make-up, too, and the entire ensemble was really quite nice.

There's a young girl among the group that, quite some time ago, decided my daughter was a witch. Or a vampire. Or a witchy vampire. *L* Today, she sat for a long while, staring intently at Eldest while munching on a muffin. When she finished eating and had to walk past my daughter to leave the picnic shelter, she suddenly stopped and said, "you're a purple haired witch!!" and dashed away.

Eldest finds her really funny.

I'm trying something a bit different this year. With the girls getting older, I feel a bit more focus is needed in certain areas. I've made up a chart with two columns for each of the girls. One is for "must cover" areas - things we (Dh and I) feel the girls need to work on. Just as an example, I included "time management" for Youngest, as she tends to sort of forget about time completely, and ends up not accomplishing things because of it. The other column is "want to cover." For here, I've asked the girls to brainstorm and just write in whatever they feel they'd like to do this year. Eldest wrote in that she'd like to recreate the delicious, buttery flavour of waffles in beverage form. That's going to be a challenge. LOL

Once we've got the feedback, we'll talk about what's been written in, decide on what we want to work on, how and when, and prioritize things a bit. After that, it'll be a sort of guide for the year. We'll see how this works out.

In the mean time, I've gone and found myself another job. The one I was hired for in the spring is still there, except I've only had one shift all summer. I haven't left them, but it looks like I will end up doing so. I'm going to be working as a cashier again, this time in a huge, warehouse style grocery store that's a fair bit farther from us. I could take the train there, but since I'd be leaving after 11pm every shift, I will be driving. Taking the train, as well as the walks to and from the stations, isn't very safe that time of night. The pay is less than the other job, but I'll have my 4 nights a week. In the other place, I can't even get through to anyone at the office to sign up for shifts - or even find out if there *are* any on days I'm available. It's a bit of a shame, really. I do enjoy working there, and the pay is pretty darn good. A higher pay doesn't mean much when there's no shifts. I'm going to wait and see before I officially hand in my vest, though. This new place, though, has quite a lot of benefits that will more than make up for the difference in pay, once my probationary period is over.

Tonight was my first day in training. It went well. At this point, there's not much different from any other grocery store, so there isn't much that's new for me. I've got two more training shifts this week, then another 3 training shifts next week. On the last day, we'll actually be working till for the 4 hours, while supervised by the trainer.

I was a bit surprised at how old their Point of Sale equipment is. This is a HUGE, successful national chain. You'd think they could spring for new POS system once in a while. These tills look like they haven't been upgraded since the 80's. The only new stuff they've got are the debit machines and passcard scanners, and those are external attachments.

The training group is very small. Only 4 people. I think that's a good idea. The last grocery store I worked at, the training group I was part of was somewhere around 10 people. It gets a bit confusing that way. Escpecially when we had to all crowd around a single till to learn how to use it.

So we'll see how this works out. I'm a bit trepidatious about it. The place is always insanely busy, and they're really short staffed with cashiers. Sometimes, I'll look at the huge line ups and wonder, just *why* did I apply here? Then I remember that really, there's only one customer - the one in front of me. I just need to focus on my one customer, and that's the part I really enjoy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Philosopher's Kitchen mushroom salad

Today, Eldest and I headed to a specialty grocery store and picked up the missing ingredients to make the mushroom dish she wanted. (Recipe posted yesterday.) She was tolerant enough to let me take photos as she made it to go with today's supper. :-)

I prepped the ingredients for her - the mushrooms are white buttons, crimini (baby portabello) and oyster mushrooms. We also got unsalted pistachio nuts. We weren't able to get the fresh herbs we wanted, so just the parsley is fresh, with dried sweet basil and mint.

Because we were using dried herbs, she mixed them in with the oil and vinegar first thing, leaving them to sit and reconstitute a bit while the rest of the preparations were done.

Then she chopped up some Italian parsley.

Then shelled and chopped the unsalted pistachios.

Then she grabbed a few of each of the mushrooms and sliced them to make about 2 cups.

Once everything was ready, she popped the mushrooms, pistachios and parsley into a mixing bowl.

Then she poured on the oil, vinegar and herb mixture.

Finally, she sprinkled on some coarse salt and pepper and mixed it all up.

We had this with our supper of steak and tortellini with Alfredo sauce with sundried tomatoes. No, I didn't go quite all gourmet - the tortellini was frozen, and the sauce was from a jar. *L*

Youngest didn't like it, but she doesn't like pistachios or mushrooms in the first place, so that was no surprise. It was very different from what we usually eat, with a strong vinegar flavour, and went really well with the tortellini. It's not something we'll have often, but it went over well. Dh even included it with the lunch he packed for himself for work tomorrow. :-D

Friday, August 15, 2008

Drawstring bag

One more post for today, and I'm all caught up.

I've been working on a crochet sweater for myself; a project that will take at least another month to finish. Every now and then, I have the urge to FINISH something. So I went through our basket of odd bits of yarn from an exchange we'd done in the spring, got out a new, large size hook I'd just bought, and made this.

It's a pretty basic drawstring bag done almost entirely in double crochet. I made it up as I went along. The base is just a flat circle, though with this yarn, it doesn't look flat at all. The flat part is just 4 rounds, then I stopped increasing and built up the sides until it was as deep as I wanted it. The top was decorated by first doing a row of single crochet, then making a row of small loops of 3 chains in between double crochets, skipping one stitch from the previous single crochet row. The final row was made up of 4 double crochet in each loop and 1 single crochet in each double crochet in the previous row. The drawstrings are just a pair of long chains, woven into a row of double crochets under the single crochet row. Although they're in the same row, I wove them under and over alternating double crochet pairs, so that they finished opposite each other. Then I tied the ends together and trimmed them to the same length. The bag is closed by yanking the knotted ends in opposite directions.

That left me enough yarn to make the tassel, which I sewed into the starting ring. I even have a tiny bit of yarn left over, much to my surprise. :-D

I gave the bag to Youngest. She loves it, even though she has no idea what she'll use it for. *L*

Youngest, meanwhile, splurged on some gorgeously soft chenille yarn in lovely colours and made some new scarves. I'll have to get some photos of them to post here. :-D

From the Philosopher's Kitchen

One of the cookbooks I'd borrowed a while back was The Philosopher's Kitchen, which recreated recipes from ancient Rome and Greece. We'll be borrowing it again, soon!

Eldest wrote out this recipe that she wants to try, though she neglected to write out the title. We're still looking for the raspberry vinegar (though I've got red wine vinegar to use, if we can't find it), and some other types of mushrooms. Once we do, I'll be sure to write how it turned out.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
salt and fresh milled pepper
2 cups very thinly sliced assorted mushrooms
3/4 cup assorted fresh herbs, such as basil, mint and parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped pistachio nuts

She didn't write out instructions, either. I imagine it's just all tossed together.

Back to the library list

We've been rather lax with our library trips for that past couple of weeks - things would come up, and we just couldn't make it. Some things we were able to just renew, but most would end up in the drop off chute outside the library, on the way to somewhere else.

Even today, we ended up having some time constraints, but that didn't stop us from getting a good selection.

I've actually hung on to two books from the last trip we made. One is The Whole Soy Story, which I've finished and will be writing a review for on my other blog. The other is A Mediterranean Feast; The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisine of the Mediterranean, From the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with More Than 500 Hundred Recipes.

What is it with these incredibly long sub-titles???

Youngest just picked one book for herself, again from The Enchanted World series, Seekers and Saviors. She also grabbed another Miss Marple dvd, At Bertram's Hotel.

Eldest got her usual eclectic variety. She chose:

The Life of Alfred Russel Wallace, The Heretic in Darwin's Court: Wallace and Darwin were contemporaries, and sometimes rivals, who had come up with the Theory of Evolution independently. Today, Wallace is largely forgotten. It should be interesting to learn more about him.

The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche: This was originally published in 1908 as part biography, part explanation of Nietzsche's ideas.

The Humboldt Current; Nineteenth-century Explorations and the Roots of American Environmentalism: Now this should make for an interesting comparison between early environmentalists and those of today.

Catholic Etiquette; What You Need to Know about Catholic Rites and Wrongs. You know, I was raised a Catholic, and had never thought there was such a thing as "Catholic" manners. It makes sense that there would be, though.

God; A Brief History - The Human Search for Eternal Truth. *snort* Yeah, brief. The book is only 2 inches thick... ;-) A cross-cultural, multi-religious examination of God. It looks to be a very interesting read.

The rest of her choices follow Eldest's interests in historical fashion, including Children's Costume in America 1607-1910, A Visual History of Costume - The Twentieth Century, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Costume and Fashion 1550-1920, and Chinese Clothing from the Cultural China Series.

Finally, she indulged her latest passion for old (or just unusual) movies, grabbing (originally released in 1916), Intolerance, The Glass Menagerie (starring Katherine Hepburn), Blood Tea & Red String (a stop-motion animation), Bela Lugosi 75th Anniversary Edition of Dracula, and Nosferatu; The Vampire & Phantom Der Nacht, a 1979 remake of the 1922 classic.

As for myself, I deliberately went to only 2 sections of the library before meeting the girls in the audio/visual section, and refused to stay there for long. So I didn't get as many books as I would have, if I'd allowed myself to indulge. LOL

I got some more crochet books, looking for more challenging projects.

Hooked on Style; Fabulous Fashions to Crochet: There's a lovely selection of items in here, though very few clothing items are patterned up to my size. I can make things for the kids, though.

Hip to Crochet; 23 Contemporary Projects for Today's Crocheter: I have to admit, whenever I see "contemporary" in the title of a craft book, I automatically expect very weird "experimental" designs in colour combinations that make my skin crawl. There is some of that in this books, but not as much as some others I've seen. *L* This is one I would buy, if I could find it in a book store (and if it was in budget...).

Loop d-Loop Crochet; More than 25 Novel Designs for Crocheters (and knitters taking up the hook): Quite the variety of projects in here! Ranging from accessories to hammocks, as well as children's clothes, a men's sweater that men might actually be willing to wear in public. It's mostly women's clothing, though, and some of the designs are rather daring, so put it mildly! At least with other crochet fashion books I've borrowed, the models wearing mesh and lace clothing had some sort of garment underneath. These models clearly don't! Well, they *are* wearing panties - that goodness! LOL

Next, I grabbed a new batch of cook books.

The Pioneer Cook; A Historical View of Canadian Prairie Food: It's always eye opening to read about what our pioneers ate and how they prepared their foods. A fascinating glimpse of their everyday lives.

The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark; Recipes for an Expedition: Part history book, part cook book. This one is right up my alley!

The Storm Gourmet; A guide to Creating Extraordinary Meals Without Electricity: When I saw the sub-title, I couldn't resist! Growing up, we frequently had power outages. This wasn't much of a hardship, as we still had the old cook stove to fall back on. Few people have those anymore, and this book is geared to them. This is more about preparing for emergencies, and how to weather them when they happen.

The Flavours of Canada; A Celebration of the Finest Regional Foods: A coast to coast exploration of Canadian cuisine. Not the territories, though. Ah, well. I can't have everything... ;-)

On the dvd front, I found some interesting titles - hopefully, the movies will be interesting as well. ;-)

Through the Eye of a Needle; Stories from an Indian Desert: I was actually looking in the "how to" section when I found this. It doesn't seem to be a how-to at all, but rather a history, which needle crafts often play a large, though unrecognized, part.

Carthage; A Journey Back in Time: a Lost Treasures of the Ancient World series we haven't seen yet.

Hadrian's Wall; Edge of the Empire: From the Lost Treasures of the Ancient World series.

Agatha Christie's Poirot; Collector's Set 2: One disc with three movies; The Cornish Mystery, Double Sin, and The Adventure of the Cheap Flat. With how well the Miss Marple movies are going over, I though Poirot might be worth looking into.

And finally, some music cd's...

Growing Pains: Mary J. Blige
Songlines: Top of the World - a CD of world music
The Silk Road: A musical Caravan - 2 cd set of music from Chine, Iran, Kazakhstan, etc. of the 13th century played by 21st century artists
Spin the Weaver's Song: Carla Sciaky - no clue what type of music this is. I actually got it because I liked the photo on the cover, and the weaving themed titles of the songs.

And that's our list for this week. :-D

Friday, August 01, 2008

100 books

I found this at Boombatti and thought it was interesting. Give it a go, yourself! :-)

The rules:

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline (or mark in a different color) the books you LOVE
4) Reprint this list in your blog.
5) Strikethrough those you hated or couldn’t get through.

The premise of this exercise is that the National Endowment for the Arts apparently believes that the average American has only read 6 books from the list below.

(Note: I can't find how to strike through on this and am feeling too lazy to look up the html for that, so the ones I couldn't get through will be in pale grey. I didn't hate any of them.)

1 Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible -
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables- LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks94 Watership Down- Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Friday, July 25, 2008

My daughter's creations

I finally got some pictures of Youngest's crochet creations. She was playing around with a basic mesh pattern I'd shown her and came up with these.

This neck warmer is done in variegated yarn. She did another version in green for her sister.

A back view of the neck warmer and it's button closures. The button holes are just the mesh openings.

This is the exact same pattern using some chenille yarn we got from a yarn exchange. She had just enough to make this and sew on the buttons.

The mesh openings required much larger buttons in this one.

I like the neck warmer idea. No long ends to get tangled up in, and they'll never slip loose.

She's also made a whole bunch of these wrist cuffs using the same pattern as the neck warmers, working in a round, for both herself and her sister.

She liked the effect so much, she made herself a pair of "sleeves" as well. With these, she started off the same width as the wrist cuffs and increased as needed as they got longer.

I think she did quite well! :-D

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Last night, Eldest and I went up to the lounge where I assembled the pieces I blocked yesterday while we watched The Food Network and chatted with the security guard. Today, Youngest helped me choose the buttons for the flap closure.

I think it worked out well, for an experiment. I'd choose a solid colour if I ever wanted to make it again, though.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Making stuff...

For the past while, Youngest and I have been crocheting like crazy, it seems. I've been borrowing books from the library and trying new things, with some success.

This is an example of "some" success. My younger daughter, who is 12 now, is modeling it. The problem? Eldest is the one who asked for it, and it doesn't fit her. This was supposed to be a "one size fits all" cover. I deliberately used larger yarn than the pattern called for and a larger hook, as well as adding a bunch of extra rows in the body, to make it roomier. Even after blocking it, the body was much shorter than expected. The arm length was fine, though, and I didn't add anything extra there. The biggest problem for her, however, was the neck opening. This, too, was wider than in the instructions, yet she found it tight, the way is sat on her shoulders and pulled at the arms.

The joys of being built like a tank and trying to wear something being patterned for tall, slender women with no chest to speak of. :-/

Youngest saw this pattern for a capelet and asked me to make it for her. Again, it was "some" success. I used the pattern for the XL size (I should have been able to do it in M and she should still have had a roomy fit) and once again used a larger hook, though the yarn was the same weight. It *should* have been big enough to fit me, based on the instructions. It fits youngest just right, though the turtleneck opening is a bit tight going over the head. A couple of washes will loosen that up a bit more, though. Hopefully. She really likes it, though, and that's what's important.

Here, I'm blocking a work in progress. I've made several different small bags, but they've all been pretty much single pieces. No blocking or assembly of parts required, other than straps and buttons. This time, I'm making one that will need to be sewn together. Not visible in this shot is the piece that will be the sides and bottom, which is about 1 inch wide. After assembly, I'll be using single crochet to finish the edges at the top, then make a strap and add 2 buttons for the flap. I didn't use a pattern for this at all, just making it up in my head. I hope I got the proportions right.

I started a tank top for myself but so far have only finished the back panel. In this case, I worked out the pattern to a larger size - the pattern went up to XL and I increased it to the equivalent of XXL. I like my shirts roomy. When making it, I compared it to a shirt in the size I wanted it to be, and it was the exact same width, so that worked out. Unfortunately, it used up so much more yarn than I expected, I don't have enough to finish the front panel. Which would be fine except that the yarn I chose turned out to be discontinued, and now I can't find anymore. Not sure how I'm going to work that out. Until then, though, I now have the materials to make a sweater. In fact, I should have at least 1 ball of yarn extra - and it's *not* a discontinued yarn! LOL One the bag is finished, I'll start on the sweater.

Next, I need to get some photos of the items Youngest has been making.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Sandwich from Hell

As I sit here, reading my daily news, Eldest is enjoying her Sandwich from Hell - courtesy of Spike, the author of Templar Arizona - link not safe for work.

The recipe is as follows...

Lightly toast 2 waffles
Pat down with lettuce
Layer deli meat of choice
garnish with imitation maple syrup and horseradish to taste.

It also says "wash down with pickle brine," but you can leave that out...

My daughter was a bit heavy on the horseradish. She was sitting behind me, gasping and wiping tears from her eyes a moment ago. Now, she's toasting more frozen waffles for another sandwich.

A little lighter on the horseradish, this time.

I found it interesting that our jar of creamed horseradish has no expiry date.