Saturday 30 November 2013

Joy

 
Today is day 30 of NaBloPoMo and I survived!  It was touch and go at times, but not only did I manage to post every day, but I also found something to post about.  For my last post of November, I thought that I would post about things that are giving me pleasure today.  Firstly, preparing my advent calendar pockets with obligatory chocolates! 

 
Reading The Book of Christmas by Jane Struthers.  Hanging my advent calendar pockets in our kitchen ~ my first hint of Christmas decorating each year.

 
And finally, some JOY cushions to add a hint to the festivities.

 
Wishing you all a lovely weekend full of joy and a festive Christmas season.  Now I'm off to get ready for some fun ~ an old fashioned Christmas dinner this evening, which is part of the Christmas in Sherbrooke Village weekends.

Friday 29 November 2013

Fair Isle In Miniature


I'd love to be able to write an inspirational post today, but after being called out to work at 3 a.m. I just don't have the energy.  Instead, I offer a small sample of something I was working on last weekend. 

I'm not quite ready to show you the end result, but this is a taster.  It is a Christmas project and I promise to post more photographs once it is completed. 

Now I'm off to put my feet up and watch a Christmas film (or maybe have a nap under a warm blanket).

Thursday 28 November 2013

Yorkshire Knitting

 
Today, I thought that I would share a couple of knitting projects with you.  I have been busy knitting for two of my nieces and these are the results.
 

As they both love pink and they share a bedroom, I thought that it would be best to make two dolly nightdress/pyjama cases for their beds in similar colours.  This pattern was a fun project and the end results have been much admired.  I just hope that they bring a smile to their faces on Christmas morning.  They will be packaged up with Herdy and on their way to Yorkshire as soon as I can get their big sister's gift finished.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

The Doors

 
One of the fun parts of Christmas in the Village is that 'doors' are added to the old homesteads and then decorated.  We were told about this by the lady who runs the café, where we headed for a warming cup of tea before spending half of a late November evening outdoors. 
 
 
I liked the idea of the hearth ~ pity that the fire wasn't lit though!  At least the Christmas stockings are all arranged and ready for the big day.  It looks like a large family...
 

 
Oh that's better!  Come home to a real fire!  I'd like to get a bit closer to take advantage of those warming flames....

 
Could this be Rudolph in disguise? 

 
This one is of a person heading downhill on a sled, in case you are having trouble working it out.

 
A handy pair of snowshoes in case of deep snowfall in the coming weeks.  I'm told that they work very well, but I've never tried a pair.  Modern-day ones are a little more sophisticated.

 
And finally, a tartan one, reflecting the Scottish heritage of many of the original settlers.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

The Milk Carton Kids



We rented a film at the weekend and towards the end, I heard the song 'The Ash and Clay.'  Who was making these beautiful harmonies?  There was something reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel about this song.  I rolled through the credits until I found the music and discovered The Milk Carton Kids.

This Indie folk duo of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan are from Eagle Rock, California.  They have recorded three albums in the last two years and their first two albums Prologue and Retrospect are available as free mp3 downloads from their website.  How many groups release their albums for free?  Look out for their 2014 tour, which includes stops in Canada, the US and the UK.....I wonder if I can get to Toronto next spring to see them....or Glasgow?

Monday 25 November 2013

Rootless

Yesterday's post was Thought For The Day, which was Simon Weil's quote about the importance of having roots.  When I read this earlier in the week, it really struck a chord with me.  Why do I feel so rootless?

For a long time now, I have felt as though something were missing.  There is a sense of impermanence about many aspects of my life.  I know that all of us face changes throughout our lives, but I think that what has had a huge impact on life here is the lack of a sense of belonging.

When I saw Simon's quote, I realised that being rooted is probably the least recognised human need.  We all need to feel like we know where we come from; to feel part of a family and a community.   Living thousands of miles from my family has been hugely challenging at times and I miss them. 

The question is where do I go from here? 

Sunday 24 November 2013

Thought For The Day ~ 4




To be rooted is
perhaps the most
important and least
recognized need of
the human soul.
 
Simon Weil

Saturday 23 November 2013

An Old Fashioned Christmas

 
Yesterday evening, we travelled to the village of Sherbrooke for the start of their Old Fashioned Christmas celebrations.  The opening night event was their Christmas tree lighting, followed by a candlelight procession and Christmas carols.


Sherbrooke Village is a living history museum, which is a representation of a typical Nova Scotia village of the 1860s.  Located on the St Mary's River, Sherbrooke was a boom town of the 1860s with the main trade being in tall ships, timber and gold.  During the summer season, the museum part of the village is brought to life by costumed interpreters who recreate the daily activities of the community in 25 heritage buildings. (The photograph above is of the General Store).


This was our first visit to the Christmas event and so we were unsure quite what to expect.  We parked on the edge of the modern-day village and walked into the museum along dark streets.  As we approached, we saw buildings decorated for Christmas and lots of lights.


There was actually a large crowd estimated at about 3,000 people for the event, although these photographs do not give that impression.  After the carols, we went for a walk around the village whilst other entertainment continued.  The night was relatively mild, although we were well bundled against the cold.  After almost two hours outside on a late November night, we were glad to make an early departure and beat the rush.
 

I was not very well prepared for photographs, so please excuse the quality, as I took them with my phone.  Also, it is hard to get great quality night photos without a good quality camera.


This is obviously Santa's landing pad and behind that, the Church.


It looks like he may have just arrived.

 
I love this house.  I can just imagine heading up those steps to a warm welcome.

 
The current fashions of the 1860s can just be seen in the right-hand window.

 
The nautical theme is picked up here with a dory bedecked with a Christmas tree and presents in the light festooned fishing net.  Sherbrooke Village is close to the Atlantic Ocean.

 
This majestic home caught my eye and I love the way that the tree is highlighted.

 
This is the village Courthouse, where concerts are held during the summer.


This lovely house is actually outside the museum grounds in the modern-day village, which still contains many century-homes, as they are known here.
 
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.  There was a very special atmosphere and a happy crowd of people all eager to join in the festivities in preparation for Christmas.  It was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.


Friday 22 November 2013

Flying The Flag


My blog posts seem to have been one long round of purchases this week, but I promise that I am working on some creative projects in the background. 
 
As someone who always wanted a Mini in the days before they were taken over by BMW, I do have a soft spot for all things British.  I was browsing on eBay one day during the summer when I came across this weekend bag.  How could I resist?  I placed a bid and won the auction and soon afterwards, my bag arrived. 
 
At first, I was disappointed with my purchase.  I knew that it was a used item, but I hadn't anticipated the rather musty smell which accompanied it.  It spent several days hanging outdoors, but this did not improve matters.  I threw it in a corner and forgot about it for a few weeks.  I got it out again with the thought that I might get rid of it, when my husband suggested that I wash it.  So against all label warnings to the contrary, I threw it in the washing machine.  Not only did it come out smelling fresh, but the colours are now significantly brighter than before and my bag is now a favourite for weekend trips away.
 
In case you are wondering, I still drive a Mini, so my  bag could be said to accessorize my car.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Santa Express From Vermont


Yesterday we awoke to not quite a winter wonderland, but more of one of those dismal snow-squally days when the roads are slippery and the wind is gusting strongly.  Although this was not our first snowfall of the season, we have yet to have one of those crisp, bright mornings when it looks all pristine and I am inspired to go out and take photographs.  On days like this, the priority is staying upright and not falling over when walking or skidding off the road when driving.


Some Christmas cheer was awaiting when I got home from work in the shape of a package from Vermont.  It seems like a very circuitous route to order an advent calendar which was made in the UK and have it delivered from the US, but I can only assume that Santa's GPS was malfunctioning. 
 
I am a child at heart and still take great delight in opening those little windows on the days leading up to Christmas.  Christmas just wouldn't be the same without one. 

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Christmas Present


One of the things that really marks the start of the Christmas season for me is the arrival of those luscious December issues of British magazines.  The English Home is not one that I subscribe to, but I always look out for because it is so full of Christmas traditions and my dreamed of country home....

 
Woman and Home is posted to me each month and I do enjoy those little indulgences of luxury Christmas gifts, if only on paper.  Well, a girl can dream.....

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

 
The question was what to do with 7 pineapple slices which were left over after I made some pizza on Saturday.  The answer ~ make a pineapple upside down cake. 

 
Look away if you are of a nervous disposition, as the first step is to caramelize the pineapple in melted butter and brown sugar.  Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying goes....

 
This recipe came from Lorraine Pascale's book Home Cooking Made Easy, but I changed it a little, as I don't like rum and didn't want any in my cake.

 
This photograph does not do it justice. The cake was absolutely delicious, with just a hint of cinnamon and the sticky caramel topping.  I served it with Devon custard....a little indulgent, but I took the remains of it to work, so I don't have to feel too guilty!

Monday 18 November 2013

Glad Tidings


Yesterday, we went for a drive to visit one of my favourite spots at any time of the year, but particularly now, as the Christmas season is approaching.  Our destination was the Christmas shop, called Glad Tidings.
 
 
The location is breath-taking.  The scenery is beautiful in any weather, but really spectacular on a sunny afternoon.

 
The shop is actually located in the owner's house and she always seems to be there offering a warm welcome and a cup of hot apple cider.  We've been a few times now and she remembers us.
 
 
The three bears are seen climbing a telegraph pole in her garden.
 
 
And look who we came across on his way down the chimney! 
 
I did make some purchases, but I'm going to save them for a little while, until such time as I can unpack them and put them on display for Christmas.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Thought for the Day ~ 3

 
 
A Wish for a Friend
 
Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers -
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For happy golden hours -
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!
 
Irish Blessing

Saturday 16 November 2013

The Inn At The Top


My memories of Tan Hill Inn are of a country pub which is located in an isolated part of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales.  The Inn is Britain's highest pub, at 1,732 feet above sea level.

I last visited Tan Hill Inn some years ago and remember a hostelry with a warm welcome and good food, which is a far cry from how it was in the late 1970s when Neil Hanson and his wife Sue took over as landlords.  The Inn At The Top, which I am currently reading, is a fascinating and at times hilarious account of  their first year at the pub. 

I find social history really interesting and I'm particularly interested in the origins of language.  Anyone who has visited this part of Yorkshire will know that the local dialect can be hard to understand without a translation!  Many of the words used in modern day language are derived from Norse, at the time when the Vikings invaded.

Picture a wild and windswept ocean of peat bog and heather moorland which stretches as far as the eye can see and you have an image of upper Swaledale, which is breath-taking in its beauty.  Stand outside the pub and look around you ~ enjoy the view.


Friday 15 November 2013

Christmas Past


Christmas is fast approaching and so I have been on the look-out for something seasonal in the way of festivities.  I saw this brochure in the café at work and discovered an old-fashioned Christmas celebration, complete with Christmas dinner.

The festivities are spread over a couple of weekends towards the end of November.  We plan to attend the opening night of this event when the Christmas lights are switched on and a carol concert takes place.  The following weekend, we will be having an early Christmas dinner and hopefully return the following day for a candlelight carol service. 

This is something that I've really missed attending at Christmas since we moved to this area as I had been unable to find such an event.  It is also many years since we went to a carol service by candlelight ~ the last one being in Yorkshire in 2004, so I'm really looking forward to it. 

Thursday 14 November 2013

Raspberry Muffins

 
I was in the kitchen this week when the urge to try something new was inspired by Lorraine Pascale's book Home Cooking Made Easy.  The recipe for raspberry muffins caught my eye.

 
I've never made muffins before, but these were delicious fresh out of the oven and still warm.  I've put most of them in the freezer so that I don't indulge too often ~ the recipe stated that it made 12 muffins, but mine must be smaller, as I baked 24.  Anyway, it is nice to have a tasty treat set aside for unexpected visitors.  Anyone for a  cup of tea?

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Pantry


I know that I have blogged about this before (I think that it was when we first moved to this house), but I dream of having a walk-in pantry.  My earliest recollection of a panty was of the one in the home of my grandmother when I was little.  I used to think that it was something of an Aladdin's cave, with all sorts of interesting and mysterious packages and usually one or two treats. 

What we commonly refer to as our pantry is a large cupboard which houses some of the appliances which we use only occasionally, in addition to cans and dry goods, most notably cereal.  Who knew that we had twelve boxes of cereal in there, in addition to a huge bag of porridge oats?

It was high time that our pantry was organized, a job which I had been putting off for weeks.  Isn't it amazing to think that a job which I estimated might take about 10-15 minutes, actually took the better part of an hour? 

Thankfully, there was only one stale box of crackers and everything else was still fit for human consumption.  Now all that I need to do is try to keep it this way! 

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Autumn Ramblings

 
 
Would you care to join me for a walk around town?  We start our adventure close to the parish church, which was established in 1804.
 
 
Along the main street and down to the park.  As in much of rural Nova Scotia, the buildings are generally of wood construction with siding, rather than built of brick or stone.

 
The bandstand is in the park, which is adjacent to the river.

 
Past the Cathedral and onto the University campus.  The population of the town doubles during the academic year.


Not quite dreaming spires, but still some impressive buildings to be seen.

 
The last of the autumn colours before this week's wind and rain brought down the leaves.  The campus was quiet because it was Saturday morning, so my walk was uninterrupted.   It was great to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise on one of the last remaining fine days before winter.