Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Glorious Pom Pomery!!

Well my friends, it is a very busy time of year for all of us. Lots to do, to plan, most likely to not do, maybe it is a good way to keep us distracted from the long dark nights and short dim days of December.  I am actually sort of on top of my knitting projects, but not much else.

There have been a few hats knit for Christmas and since none of my family ever looks at my blog, I am A- OK to post a few pictures.

There is such a big trend in knitwear to adorn knit hats with big bold glorious pom poms! I love pom poms!! There was a time when pom poms were less than fashionable and were, I hate to say it, sadly considered downright goofy and rather gauche. My kids would have died a million deaths of embarrassment if I had affixed a pom pom to their hats or even worse if either of us wore a hat with a pom pom on it. And were seen wearing it in public!! Well, times change and a certain fashionista has requested a chunky cable hat with a large faux fur pom pom!!

The hat in the top picture is Katahdin  knit with The Fiber Company Acadia. This is really really lovely yarn. Its a blend of silk noil, alpaca and merino wool. It is so soft and has such a nice texture. When I found the bright pink pom pom, I almost swooned! It is so perfect! I did make some mods to the pattern and changed the needle sizes.

The rich green hat above is the Bray Cap a great Brooklyn Tweed pattern. I knit it with Tosh Vintage in Cousteau. It's a very rich bluish green colourway. The emerald green pom pom I found looks perfect! I love it! This was a great hat to knit.

My buddy Melissa very kindly modeled it for me!

And this hat has yet to be made, it is the last hat (maybe) on my gift list. Enough hat talk, I have more hats for another day. I am reveling in all this glorious pom pomery!!

My friend Wendy and I recently attended a Green Wreath workshop sponsored by our Regional District.

We were given materials to make green wreaths using plant and tree material we can all find in our yards and maybe our neighbours. It was loads of fun. We chose to construct a free form more organic design- at least that's what we called it. We really didn't have a plan. Now we are!!

Our friends Pamela, Heather and her daughter Meghan went the next day. They had a plan ahead of  time. They wrapped old picture frames with chicken wire and then stuffed their greenery into the form. Their wreaths are beautiful!

And then there are the bales. We had a very nice warm fall but an Arctic front swooped down into our Valley a several weeks ago. If you can believe it, we still had veggies growing in the bales. We quickly picked what was left of the tomatoes, ( turns out it was 70 lbs!) and lots of other veggies.We thought now that's that, the bales are done and off to hibernate for the winter. Bye bye bales!

It got cold, really cold. The ground was frozen hard. I felt a little sad saying goodbye to the bales but truth be told, our love affair had cooled. I needed a break,a little time away.  I went out one afternoon and the arugula, chard and kale and the rest of the lettuce were frozen solid. It was OK, I had moved on. 

A warm wet pacific front rolled in last week, bringing much needed moisture and above average temperatures. I looked out my kitchen window and I am looking and some of the greens were looking remarkably upright and green and dare I say, somewhat alive. It was like they were waving at me and saying "Hey Chrissie, you haven't got rid of us yet-don't give up on us!!" So I went out and can you believe it, the arugula, chard, kale  and some lettuce were alive. I picked a couple of bags of stuff for dinner. I just don't get it, and please don't get me wrong, I am ever so grateful but I am thinking this is really weird. Now I know you can extend the growing season if you tarp the bales with clear plastic but we just thought maybe we'd try that next year. Winter slothfulness has set in here! We have BIG plans for next year but we talk up a storm around here!

Lots of people online and on Pinterest rave about home made marshmallows so I thought I'd give them a try. They are currently resting in their pans overnight. I have no idea on how they will turn out or what to expect. They can made with lots of flavours, chocolate, cinnamon, squash, peppermint...etc. I am just joking about the squash, just checking to see if you are still awake. I'll report back soon on the finished product.

Until then.....

Keep Smiling!!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Still Veggie-licious and my Spincycle Hat

Do you ever just look at the calendar, shake your head and think Good Grief it is mid October already!?! It has been a very busy several weeks/months. I am behind on lots of stuff, but the earth is still spinning on its axis and the sun comes up every morning, so it is all good. 

There has been some knitting so for all you knitsters, here is my Spincycle hat.

The pattern for this hat is Cuba street, it is a great colourwork project. It is fun to knit and works up quickly. I used Spincycle Dyed in the Wool Yarn. I love this yarn. It has a great colour gradient that travels throughout the skein. The yarn is produced by two young women in Washington State, just south of us. It is a totally domestically produced wool. Wool is gathered from domestic sheep and then it is dyed and wool spun locally. It is a great example of complete vertical integration, I love it. This seems to be a big trend in the wool industry now. I think it is terrific as we are supporting our domestic industries, providing jobs locally and the best bonus is a beautifully handcrafted regionally local product. 

I admit I did knit this in the summer but I am a sequential chronological type of thinking person and I am getting all my knitting ducks in the row!

And the veggies are still growing

Herb bed

 We have been blessed with an absolutely beautiful fall, with warm sunny days and crisp cooler nights. I think our lovely weather window is about to close soon. It is mid October ! However the veggies are still growing in the bales and we will take whatever we can get! We have also planted some chard, kale tatsoi, arugula ,lettuce, collards and chiaggia beets for the fall. It will be very interesting to see how long we will be able to harvest food from the garden this fall.

anaheim peppers

still churning out tomatoes

mint alley
peppermint chard


a couple of carrots catching upon the latest bale buzz

beans, borage,  lovage and lemon grass
 Our squash groundcover experiment was a great success. The vines did cover and protect the soil and my sedums and we picked over 150 lbs of winter squash! That is not taking into account all the zucchinis we harvested from the 3 plants-we all know what zucchinis do! I think they are the rabbits of a garden!! It is squash nirvana here so brace yourselves for many squash based recipes in the weeks to come.

Recently we drove down to Summerland for the day. Summerland is a very pretty town south of us on Okanagan Lake. Their downtown streets are beautifully decorated for fall. If you are ever visiting there, go to Drew's Kitchen for breakfast or lunch. The food is soo good!

now is this straw or hay!/!

Have a great weekend friends!

Keep smiling!!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Veggie Jacked. The Canning Kitchen and some Brioche Knitting

Well it has been some kind of summer. Record high heat since May, level four drought conditions, wild fires everywhere and health threatening thick smoke. A week ago Sunday our town had the worst air conditions that day than any other city on the planet. Yikes!! I would have taken some pictures but I could not go outside as I have asthma. It has been tough cookies for everyone. Then this weekend some clouds rolled in, we had a bit of rain and the temperature dropped 15-20 degrees celsius. Where are my socks, shoes and hoodies?!? Holy doodle!

A friend of mine , Wendy, texted me recently and besides our usual knitty talk, asked me if everything was OK as I hadn't posted for awhile. Bless her heart! I responded that all I talk about now is veggies and knitting so I'm thinking that must be getting very old very fast. She kindly said no, its OK, in so many words. Thanks Wendy!! So here I am again , talking knitting and veggies, but worse things could be talked about I think .

When we first got our straw bales I think everyone thought we were a little cuckoo,especially some family members. One thing about this family, there are no hold backs on opinions! Hmmff I thought at the time, oh ye of little faith!!
 The picture above is the box of veggies that we recently delivered to our daughter and her partner. They have been getting these all summer long. Instead of a CSA program I call it the MDSA program-the MD meaning Mom and Dad. It is amazing the turn around of opinions, and I laugh as it has been suggested that production should triple next year!! Kids!!

We double baled for a second crop of beans

My nasturtiums are being strangled by the maters

Carrots from the in ground beds

veggies for a tomatillo relish

super sweet beets

Oh my aching back!

Look at those poor dowels above, they are ready to snap from the weight of the tomatoes. Good grief!! These plants have been trimmed and reinforced and double caged and we hope they don't totally collapse before the season is done. Hang on dowel buddies !!!

 I planted nasturtium, zinnia and calendula seeds in front of some of the bales to encourage the pollinators. I thought any excess water from the bales would leach down and water the flowers. Was I ever wrong, those bales do not give up a drop of water, not for love or money! I had to water them separately. I have flowers in my front yard , some annuals mixed with perennials but I really really missed having more zinnias. Next year I am going to plant tons more-I have a plan. They are really easy to grow from seed and now I know about neonics thanks to Tammy I will be surely be more mindful of what I plant in my garden. You have to go visit Tammy's blog, she is a cracker jack gardener, full of insights about life and so funny too. Make sure you read her James Bond post-it is hilarious!!

This was another one of our dead zones. It is a very dry hot sandy sloped weed patch. After cleaning it up I thought I would try a few things. In late June and well into July, I planted a bunch of different plants, some I have never tried before. The plant with the pretty blue flowers is borage. It is a drought tolerant herb that really attracts the pollinators. The bees absolutely love it. I just planted a few seeds and they all germinated. I also planted some lovage, lemon grass, chard, kale,  nasturtiums and some pole beans. The beans are climbing up the tepees we made from bamboo poles. Everything is doing well .We were more than surprised. (We have some epic fails too). The big leaves in the front belong to a Pink Banana Jumbo Squash. That vine is now more than 20 feet long now and is attempting to scale our fence. I should add we haven't fertilized our plants, too scared to!

Speaking of squash, our Cinderella pumpkins were ready to be picked. I know it is early but everything is early this year. These are an heirloom baking variety. They are very cute and do look like a Cinderella coach. I weighed them, in total they are 36 pounds. I am sure this is a good thing but now I have my work ahead of me. Good grief!

Peach Pickin

A few weeks ago my friend Laurie asked me if we wanted to go peach picking. She knew a great place with beautiful peaches that were easy to pick. No ladder climbing was necessary. Hell ya Laurie! So off we went. In less than half an hour, no joke, we picked 120 lbs of peaches. It was so easy and so much fun we weren't thinking this one through. ( Can you believe this property, 17 acres on the lakefront!) When we got home an action plan had to be made as they would all be ripe in a few days.

 I used to can a lot when our kids were at home. It was a great way to preserve lovely fresh fruit for the winter. I still have made some jams fairly regularly over the years but nothing like I used to. So with all these peaches ripening quickly we all thought canning peaches would be a brilliant idea , lol! With my helpers we put up 35 quarts one hot summer's day.We were all pretty hot, sticky and tired by the time we were finished.

this is a very small kitchen!
There were still lots of peaches left so I had to find more peach preserving recipes. I had also been recently tipped off by another buddy Pamela, about this woman in Lake Country that had the most amazing blackberries for sale.

70 lbs later

So with all this fruit and all the veggies coming in I started pulling out my old canning books and reading recipes on line. I think it was on IG, I saw a reference to this book. There were pictures of a canned peach cobbler topping and I knew I needed this book. ASAP! Fortunately my local book shop had a couple of copies. Honestly, if you do any preserving or would like to start, this book is a must have. It is geared to small batches which is a great way to use what you have grown yourself or can buy at a farmers market or wherever you shop. The recipes are well written, use good ingredients that are easy to find and oh my, they are so incredibly good. Amy, the author, did all her own photography and it is amazing! She is from Victoria, one of our favourite places! Her website is The Family feedbag . It is full of great recipes and cooking ideas.


 I am a little bit embarrassed on how bonkers I have gone over the recipes in this book. I have made jams, several kinds of relishes,, salsas, three kinds of chutneys, pizza sauce, smoky peach BBQ sauce, pickled beets, peach cobbler topping, apple pie jam and my favourite, salted caramel pear butter. And I could do more! It is potato chip canning at its best. I think it is because they are so doable,and they taste so good. And they are easy. My problem is they get eaten up so fast and disappear rather quickly. I am threatening to number the jars!!

Good lord, I am going on and on. Maybe if I got off my arse and posted more frequently I wouldn't inflict so much on all of you! ( this is a big post for me)

Brioche knitting has been quite in vogue this past year. I remember knitting a brioche hat many many years ago but I thought I would pick up the needles and knit a simple cowl. I knit this one with Tosh in Coquette. The thing about brioche is that it produces a very squishy thicker texture than a conventional stockinette. You are basically knitting each row twice so it does take longer and does use almost twice as much yarn. It looks particularly attractive using two colours. I was planning to do another with a grey and a cream but I have been veggie jacked so it hasn't happened quite yet.

There are two different distinct sides but it doesn't show up in my pictures. One nice thing about this cowl, it is reversible, so you don't have a less than pretty inside showing. That is a particular beef I have with some cowls.

Well that is all my excitement for now, how are all of you  going to spend the first week of September?

Have a great week friends and keep smiling!!


Networked Blogs