Sunday, 30 November 2014

Thought For The Day - 5


 This Advent moon shines cold and clear,
These Advent nights are long;
Our lamps have burned year after year
And still their flame is strong.

Christina Rossetti

The beginning of Advent and the start of the preparations for Christmas.  In the kitchen, I've been drying oranges which will form part of our Christmas decorations.  I love to have naturally scented additions to our Christmas tree, as they make Christmas much more memorable.
 
My angel chimes are out in preparation for the season and the light of the candles shines out in the darkness.  The Advent nights are long, but indoors, it is cosy and warm.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Noel


I started a knitting project a year ago and I wrote a short post about it here.  At the time, I promised to post a photograph of the completed project, but for some reason, this post remained in draft.

This photo is a little dark, but if you look at the previous post, you will see that the letters are in green and white.  It was fun to knit, although challenging because of using small needles, but I love the end result and will have this on display again soon.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Holly Berries


I first saw this pretty holly berry jug in a magazine last Christmas.  My patience has been rewarded, as I found one on eBay and it arrived just in time for the Christmas season.


It is small, but perfectly formed.  A delightful addition to my Christmas table.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Kitchen Chefs


I've left the mice in charge of the kitchen and they've been busy feeding the Christmas cakes with brandy.  Yes, there are two of them this year (cakes, not mice, although there are two of them as well).

I baked the first cake and was then asked to bake a second.  I'm hoping to keep the extra one until later in the winter or early spring.  If I hide it away, maybe no-one will find it....

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Update

We were ready to leave for the hospital this morning and were just heading out the door when the phone rang.  My husband's surgery was cancelled at the last minute.  He has been told that he will now have to wait until mid-January.

Waiting


Today I am waiting: just like my garden waiting for spring, but for different reasons.  For today is the end of a three year wait for my husband's surgery.  It has been a long time waiting, but not nearly as long as the wait will be later today when I'm counting the minutes and hours until I know that he is safely in recovery.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Steeks


Although I have knitted for years, I've never had much success in the past with 'knitting in the round' and steeks are completely new to me.  The basic idea is that they reinforce the knitting and allow an opening to be formed into which I will then knit a sleeve.  The scary part of it is that at some stage, I actually have to take my courage in both hands and cut them!


Anyway, as you can see, I have made progress with Snowstar and I'm now at the neck shaping.  Not without incident, I might add, as I've had to do a fair bit of unpicking to correct mistakes along the way.  

Monday, 24 November 2014

Welcome To Winter


Saturday morning dawned grey and snowy, but later in the morning (after the initial clean-up of our deck), the sun came out.  If there was ever any doubt that winter had arrived, it has certainly gone now.  At least we didn't get a dumping of snow like New York State!  (Take a look at the photo from the New York Times.)


The garden now has a blanket of snow and I think that I may be too late to protect my Camellia (hoping that the snow acts as insulation.)  It can be difficult to decide what will survive our winters.


The trees are frosted too.  It seems a little early to be looking so festive, but it may not last as there are signs of a thaw.


We have a snow fence this year (the orange netting to the left of the photo) as we get a lot of drifting from our neighbour's garden.  It is only partly erected, as it will extend further back between the houses.  The reason for this will be explained later next week.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Stir Up Sunday

Stir Up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot. And when we get home we’ll eat the lot!


Today is Stir-up Sunday, the day on which traditionally, Christmas puddings are made.  I've only ever made one pudding from scratch and I wasn't very pleased with how it turned out, so this year, I've done my research and chosen Eliza Acton's Christmas Pudding recipe.  


First published in 1845, her classic Modern Cookery book described this as 'A remarkably light, small, rich pudding.'   According to my research, recipe tasters have voted it the best Christmas pudding every year, so it seems a safe choice and one which is unlikely to disappoint.


I followed the steps as described, stirring each of the ingredients in turn.  It is a very straightforward recipe and fairly quick to produce the mixture.


The addition of eggs and brandy act to bind the dry ingredients together.  Once fully combined, I made a wish and packed the mixture into two pudding basins.


The top of each basin was covered with greaseproof and then a layer of foil added.  The string forms a handle to enable the pudding to be lifted out of the boiling water.  The lengthy part of the process is three hours of steaming before the puddings are put away for Christmas to be reheated when needed.


As the saying goes, 'The proof of the pudding is in the eating.'  I shall await the results with interest.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Friday, 21 November 2014

Unfinished Projects


I'm not sure if I've posted one of these roses before, but I'm still making them from time to time.  This was intended as a present for my sister's birthday last year, but never got made.

I knitted the flower and the leaf, then couldn't track down the brooch clips that I had bought, so it was one of those unfinished projects for much of the summer.

I finally sat down and stitched it together and put it in the post for my sister's birthday this year....better late than never!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

It's Never Too Early To Practise...


Some of you may recall that I started piano lessons in January.  This was a long held ambition, as I had wanted to learn since childhood, which I first wrote about here.  With less than six weeks until Christmas, I have been spending my free time learning some of my favourite Christmas carols.


When my teacher asked me if there was any Christmas music that I wanted to learn, I immediately said In The Bleak Midwinter.   This is a beautiful carol and I would love to be able to play it perfectly by 25th December.  Others on my list include Silent Night and The Holly and The Ivy.  On a lighter theme, I want to be able to play White Christmas, but that may be a trifle ambitious for someone who only started playing a few months ago and is still struggling to read bass clef music (treble clef being no trouble, as a former flautist).  My teacher told me that I would definitely be able to play it by Christmas 2015 though....

In the meantime, I've asked Santa for that beautiful piano that I saw when we visited Ontario in the summer.  I'm not sure how he will fit it on his sleigh, but I have great faith in his abilities....

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Comfort


Comfort is my glider chair and my winter blanket to keep me warm.  I knitted this treasured blanket some years ago and store it away carefully.  It is always a pleasure to get it out again and snuggle up under its warmth once the nights get longer and the temperature starts to fall.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Lemon Curd


I was grocery shopping last week when I found these beautiful Meyer lemons.  They have such a short season and are only available for a few weeks, so I couldn't resist buying a couple of bags.  I wish that blogs were available with scent, because their lemony aroma is amazing.


How could I resist the opportunity to make some lemon curd?  It reminds me of childhood, when I used to have it spread on my toast.


Made with the zest and juice of squeezed lemons, butter and sugar.  I made three jars and tasted the first of them yesterday.  It is absolutely delicious!


I still have some lemons in reserve, so I may have to make a few more jars, especially as I'm not the only one at home with a taste for lemon curd.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Christmas Is Coming


I know that Christmas is not far away once I find The English Home in the shops.  Generally, British magazines take an age to go on sale here, long after their publication date, but this one is always the first to appear.

I've spent some time admiring all of those beautiful homes and dreaming of the perfect Christmas.  As usual, the reality will be slightly different, as I've left it too late to make many of the items on my wish list.  Oh well, there is always next year.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Thought For The Day - 3



 
Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.

Eileen Caddy

Saturday, 15 November 2014

From The Kitchen Window


This morning dawned crisp and cold with our first dusting of snow for this winter.  Little more than frosting, but a sign of what is to come.

This was the scene that greeted me when I looked out of the kitchen window.  A fairly leaden sky, with a patch of blue in the distance and the snow has persisted throughout the day, though with very little accumulation.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Putting The Garden To Bed

I grew Geraniums for the first time this year.  I bought them as little more than rooted cuttings and I was impressed by the fact that they flowered by July.

Geraniums tend to be grown as annuals here, as they do not survive our winter.  I searched online and discovered a gardening website with information about encouraging them to go dormant over winter, so I've decided to try it.

The first step was to dig them out of their containers, which have been sitting in our kitchen since the frosty nights started.  I had left them unwatered, so at least it wasn't too messy getting them uprooted.

After cleaning off the loose soil (photo above), I have soaked the roots in water for an hour.  Once the excess water has drained, I will hang them up in the basement.  The instructions state that the leaves will die back, but the plants will survive if soaked in water once a month.

Now all I have to do is remember to water them....

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Weathered


We are all aware of the effect of climate on our environment but nowhere more so than by the sea, where the salt water can cause significant weathering and damage.

We came across this building a few weeks ago.  It is a former lighthouse which is now used as an interpretive centre.  It dates from 1930 and has clearly weathered a lot of storms.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Dawn's Early Light




This was the view that greeted me when I got up and looked out of our kitchen window on Sunday morning.  The day dawned crisp and bright with a beautiful sunrise casting a soft pink hue over the sky.


I wish that I could claim to have been up early enough to see the dawn today, but I'm feeling a little under the weather at the moment, as I'm fighting a virus.  Now I'm off to take some more cold medication and to crawl back under the duvet.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Remembrance

We Shall Keep The Faith


Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

by Moina Michael, November 1918

Monday, 10 November 2014

Trees


I love the sight of trees up close as it gives me a glimpse of their beauty.  Many trees in Nova Scotia are stunted due to poor soil and there are huge boggy areas of stumps.

Just look at the colours and the texture of the bark on these trees.  I stood and stared and enjoyed the sounds and scents of nature.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Thought For The Day - 2


These autumn days will shorten and grow cold.
The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall.

Charlotte's Web: E B White

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The View From Here

 
We seem to have had endless days of rain.  I still haven't managed to get outdoors to tidy up the front garden before winter and now I'm starting to think that I may never be able to do so before the snow arrives
 
 

This is the view from our living room window yesterday afternoon.  Torrential rain was falling yet again and I was glad that I had finished work early and managed to get home without getting too wet, as I had already been out in heavy rain this morning and again at lunchtime.  Instead, I was able to sit by the window and watch the rain fall and feel grateful for being warm and dry.

Friday, 7 November 2014

For The Love of Radio



Call me old-fashioned, but I love listening to the radio.  Not to the kind of radio where the presenters drone on about themselves and are full of their own self-importance; but to the type of programmes where I can lose myself in a drama or an edge of the seat thriller.

Most recently, I've been listening to programmes which commemorate the centenary of the First World War.    The first season of Home Front started in August on BBC Radio 4 and ran for nine weeks.  I tuned in at regular intervals to catch up with the people of Folkestone in the days leading up to the declaration of war and in the early months following as their lives were changed forever.

This landmark radio drama will run for four years and there will be 500 episodes, each around 12 minutes in length and it will conclude in 2018.  I usually catch up with events in the Omnibus edition which is broadcast on a Friday evening.  I'm looking forward to the second season, which starts next month.

Tommies is another programme marking the centenary of the First World War.  This one is based on war diaries and eye-witness accounts of actual events exactly 100 years prior to the date of broadcast.  I've only managed to listen to the first episode so far, but I'm planning on catching up on this soon.

I listen to the BBC all of the time when I'm at home.  Usually it is a mixture of Radio 2, Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra, which has some terrific older dramas repeated, many of which I'm hearing for the first time.

I find radio more stimulating than television and it's also great when I'm working on something creative, as I don't need to be able to stare at a television screen.

Interestingly, I had been thinking about this post and had even chosen the title when I came across this article (above) about a new book with the very same title. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Little Red House On The Hill


I like to add a new piece to my winter decorations each year.  Although this was found in the Christmas section, I feel that it is pretty enough to be displayed throughout those dark months of winter. 

What could be more cheering than the warm glow of a pretty lamp to come home to?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Pot Holder



This is a little knitting project that started months ago before being forgotten about for quite a while. The main delay was in going out to find some suitable fabric for the contrast on the back and finding something to act as insulation.

In the end, I bought the fabric locally, purchased orange felt and wadding of the kind that is used for quilting.  I made a 'sandwich' of layers - knitting, felt, wadding, felt, fabric - so that there is hopefully enough to make these little pot holders functional.



I would have preferred a heavier weight yarn from a knitting point of view, but on the whole, I think that it turned out rather well.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Driving Home



Last week we were driving home in the sunshine on the Trans-Canada Highway.  There is a point in our journey when we come over the crest of a hill and we see a panorama of the shore in front of us.  I have tried to capture this view on so many occasions, but it is very difficult because the shot is a split second due to the speed of travel and on most days, the horizon is too hazy for a clear photograph.

I captured the moment on my iPhone camera taken through the front windscreen of my car (and no, I as not driving at the time!)  The feint lines visible are due to the fact that the windscreen has a heater, but if you can ignore this distraction, I think that my photograph came out quite well.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

There can be few people who have not heard of the art installation at the Tower of London called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by artist Paul Cummins.  It commemorates the centenary of the start of the First World War.  As the end of October arrived, the sea of poppies made a dramatic sight, especially from the air.

Each poppy commemorates a British or Colonial life lost during the four years of conflict.  By the time the final poppy is added to the moat on Armistice Day, 11th November; there will be 888,246 poppies.

As you watch this short video about the making of the poppies, please take a moment to think about those who gave their lives so that we could live in peace.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Thought For The Day - 1


You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by;
but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.
J M Barrie

As Daylight Savings' Time comes to an end in the early hours of tomorrow morning, my thoughts turn to time and how it passes as well as light, or rather the lack of it; as the nights grow longer.  It is easy to get caught up in busy days and weeks and it is only when we stop for a moment that we can appreciate that these minutes and hours are our lives passing by.





An extra hour to treasure as we slip back into Atlantic Standard Time (that's GMT - 4 hours, in case you were wondering).  I'm not really one for long lie-ins so I will doubtless be up and about.  I plan to spend my time quietly enjoying a morning cup of tea and savouring a golden hour (by lamplight, if necessary).

Saturday, 1 November 2014

NaBloPoMo 2014


Well, it's that time again and I can hardly believe how quickly November has rolled around.  Where does the time go?  In many ways, 2014 has been a stressful year and I'm not really trying to add to that stress by taking on the challenge of posting every day throughout November.  It is rather more that I'm looking for a purpose to my blogging and trying to stimulate my creative juices.

I don't feel that I have blogged as much this year as in the past.  Nor have I had much time to visit the blogs that I follow and leave comments.  Weeks have passed without my even finding time to open my blog.

My hope is that I can find the interesting in the everyday and produce a diary of a month in my life.  I hope that you can find something of interest and that you will come back at regular intervals to see how NaBloPoMo 2014 is going.