A frosty morning walk

It is such a joy to wake up and see the sun shining! Sam and I decided to go for an early walk.

img_0134.jpegI can’t go for very long because my fasciitis is back. Argh! But I do the best that I can, and this morning the pull was irresistible.

img_0139.jpegThere are so many things to look at!

img_0142.jpegI’ll bet this abandoned little house has some stories to tell..img_0137.jpeg

A garden waiting for spring. Don’t you wish you could walk through that gate and step right into summer?img_0156.jpegI hope Saturday is treating you well!img_0149.jpeg

 

Posted in life, outdoors, Sunnybrae, Walks | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Finally, finger-less mitts!

Well it took me several tries (three, to be exact) but I finally got these finger-less mitts made!

I knit the part that goes over the fingers a little bit shorter because  I personally prefer them that way. I’m less likely to wear them if the end bit is too long, hampering free motion of my fingers.

I also like short cuffs that just cover up the wrists.  I have a pair that are long, going way up my forearm, and they drive me crazy. I never wear them. Well, I guess I could, but they look silly under a sweater, and I always wear long sleeves in the winter.

017I had made a pair for my mother for Christmas out of a beautifully soft Malibrigo silk & merino wool blend, so that she could wear them while reading in the evenings. Her hands get so cold, I thought they would be nice for those times where she wishes she could wear gloves but wants her fingertips free for turning pages, ya know?  Anyway, I had enough left over for a second pair. Well, I was fairly certain I had enough left over, and I wanted to make a second pair. You can see where this is going, right?

Yup. You guessed it. I got to within about five rows and ran out. Totally, completely, not a single scrap of it left. Sigh.

026So since I wanted to make the second pair as a gift for my mother-in-law in the Yukon, I started all over again with this luscious ruby red wool (Cascade 220). This will be better for her anyway…heavier, warmer wool (hello…Yukon).

So I settled in and knit a mitt for the left hand. Then I knit another for the left hand.  Yes, you read that right. Two mitts for the left hand.

018Argh! So I knit a third one, making sure it was for the right hand this time. But when I had it all cast off and was trying it on for appreciation size, Mr. C noticed something. One mitt was shorter than the other, which resulted in another frenzied session of ripping out and more knitting.

After several sessions in front of old Battle-Star Galactica episodes, I finally have two pairs of beautiful finger-less mitts. One pair will be winging it’s way to the Yukon shortly.

014Despite the trial my lack of attention put me through, they are nice and warm, tightly knit on small needles to keep the wind out and the heat in.

I liked knitting them so well, I thought maybe I could work on a bunch over the year and sell them at a craft fair next Christmas. Or maybe I’ll get around to opening that Etsy shop I keep threatening.

I know pricing is a huge issue and you can’t ask a price that would actually pay a living wage. But here’s a question: Assuming a person wanted to purchase a pair of hand-knit finger-less mitts made from good quality, local yarn shop wool (not acrylic stuff from WalMart), and not a cheap made-in-third-world pair bought from a big-box store (like WalMart), what would a person realistically expect to pay for a set?

I wonder if $20 is in the right ball park. Hmmmm…

(linking up with Janine for Wool on Sunday. Better late than never, eh?)

Posted in Blog Categories | 9 Comments

Steel cut oats in the crock pot for breakfast

Just a few minutes ago, I opened the fridge and took out a container of left over, steel-cut oatmeal.  I’d made a batch the other day; it is my favourite dead-of-winter breakfast. Stomach grumbling, I spooned out a congealed glop, added a spoonful of honey, and poured a bit of milk over.  After three minutes on reheat in the microwave, my bowl of oatmeal looked, smelled and tasted as good as it did when I spooned my first bite fresh out of the crock pot two days ago. Yes, I said crock pot!

I’ve posted this recipe before… I thought you might like to see it again. Bon Appetit!

~

007Everybody seems to call these by a different name. I call them steel-cut oats. I’ve also heard them called Irish oats, or groats. Here’s what they look like:

006Here’s the box they came in:

005They are creamy and chewier than rolled oats, and have a rich, nutty flavour.

003My friend Maureen gave me the recipe and I played around with it a little bit. Do you want to make some? They are easy-peesy!

008Before you go to bed, get your small (I use a 6-cup) crockpot out of the cupboard and put 3 1/2  cups of water and 1/2 cup milk into it. Pour in 1 cup of steel cut oats.Put on the lid. Plug it in and turn the setting to low. When you get up in the morning, give it a good stir and let it sit for 5 minutes while you make your coffee. Enjoy!

You can add chopped apple, some walnuts or raisins right into the pot, whatever you like. I like mine plain with a teaspoon (okay, 2 teaspoons) of brown sugar. Sometimes I throw a handful berries on top just before digging in. Delish!

In a nutshell for you:
3.5 cups water
.5 cup milk
1 cup steel cut oats
6 -cup crock pot, on low overnight.009Do you love oatmeal? What do you call them: Groats? Irish Oats? Steel-cut?

Posted in Blog Categories, Cooking, food, Health, recipe | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lace-edged dish cloth: Sunday on the Needles

I’ve been knitting a bit lately. Like most knitters, the urge seems to strike with the first snowfall. Most of the time I gravitate toward the quick and easy finishes…I’m a bit of a knitting junkie, I guess. When I need a fix, I need it right now!

Wash cloths fit the bill just fine.

041If you need a last-minute Christmas or birthday gift, or hostess gift, or maybe even a “just because” gift, a set of knitted dish cloths is easy and quick.

Make them a bit bigger and they become lovely for the bath. I love to use these little cotton cloths on my face. They’re so soft, and yet have just enough texture to make them nice when you want to give yourself a good scrub .

043I recently ran across an old gem of a pattern and thought I’d share it with you. A little Christmas present. :) and it’s easy peasy, even for a beginner. (I’m looking at you, Shannon!)

Enjoy!

040Lace Edge Dish Cloth:
(this cloth is knit on the diagonal. You start with a corner. Sometimes I used a 4.5 mm needle and sometimes a 5mm needle. I used unbleached cotton dish cloth yarn. You can get it just about everywhere.)

Cast on 4 stitches and knit them.
Next row: Knit 2 stitches. Yarn over (bring the yarn to the front and then knit the next stitch as usual. You just made a little hole! that’s lace!)
Knit to the end of the row. REPEAT. (do this every single row until you have 44 stitches on your needle, or more if you want a larger cloth – make sure you end with an even number of stitches on your needle.
When your cloth is as wide as you want it to be (44 stitches or more), you will start the decrease as follows:
Knit 1 stitch, K2Tog (knit 2 stitches together at the same time as though they were one single stitch – in other words, put your needle through the next two stitches instead of just one and then knit as usual), Yarn Over (to make the hole), K2Tog (knit 2 stitches together) again. Knit to end of row. REPEAT until you have 4 stitches on your needle. Knit one row. Cast off.

038Merry Christmas and happy knitting in the New Year!

(linking up with Janine for Wool on Sunday)

Posted in Blog Categories, Christmas, Crafts, Creativity, Friendship, Gifts, Knitting | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Simplicity 4097 in the Fall of the Year

Combine 2.5 m of beautiful wool-blend Prince of Wales suiting and Simplicity 4097 and what do you get? The perfect fall jumper!

016I’ve always wanted a jumper, something easy that I can just pull on over top of leggings and a blouse (or a full set of long johns, lol!)

026It isn’t the most flattering outfit, I suppose, but I don’t care. Since when have I ever been a walking fashion statement, anyway?  Three people have already complimented me on it, and one (a total stranger!) said, “you must have made that because I haven’t seen a proper jumper in years. I’m going to pull out my sewing machine and make one for me, too!” I hope she does!

028This jumper pleases my little hippy heart and it’s both physically and emotionally comfortable. Since I’ve gained a bunch of that dratted weight back, I find that it’s harder than ever to find something to wear that I feel comfortable in. And not just physically, but emotionally. Because when you’re insecure about your body, being emotionally comfortable in your clothes is very important to how happy you are in your skin. Believe me when I say this is a struggle for me. My middle-aged body is…well…middle aged.

051Since my goal is to someday become an accomplished sewer-of-my-own-wardrobe, I’ve been trying to challenge myself with each new project. This time it was fitting the back bodice and matching the plaid. Actually, pattern matching went so well that I forgot to take a picture of it, lol! Trust me, it’s pretty darn close to perfect. :)

055The bodice is lined as per the pattern instructions, but they didn’t specify what to use for lining. So I used the same wool since I had enough. I also cut the bodice and the pockets on the bias. It was a bit tricky, as this cloth really stretched on the bias. But knowing that, I was extra careful which resulted in no problems at all. Yay!

049I’m also learning about fitting a pattern to my own body. My shoulders and upper back are narrow and my waist is wide. In fact, my shoulders are two sizes smaller than my waist, which requires some pattern adjustments.

I cut the back bodice an entire size smaller than the front bodice, and it was still too big. It might be time to learn how to do a sway-back adjustment.

013Since the bodice was already finished and lined, there wasn’t much I could do about the back. My solution? A box pleat and a vintage covered button to take in the excess across the mid-back.

059Was the box pleat a professional way to fix the problem? No, and thank goodness for long hair, which covers up some bits of messiness that I’d rather you didn’t see. However, you have to admit, the button adds a bit of charm. I adore buttons. There is a button on every piece of clothing I’ve sewn so far, whether one was required or not.

042Because it’s such beautiful fabric, I wanted it to be especially nicely finished on the inside. So I zigzagged every seam and then pinked them. I’m not going to show you any pictures because there are so many that are much more interesting than a bunch of pinked seams, lol!

044So, are you wondering what my fabulous fall jumper cost to make? I’ll give you a hint: everything came from the thrift store. Fabric & pattern: (insert drum roll……) $3.25.
047Thanks to my wonderful Creative Mr.C for taking the pictures at McGuire Lake park in downtown Salmon Arm.  This is what November looks like where I live now.  Love it!

038

Posted in Blog Categories, Creativity, Made by Me Clothing, me-made clothing, Salmon Arm, Samson, Shuswap, Thrifty | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Worst Job I Ever Had was Pulling the Heads off Dead Chickens

After I graduated from high school, and after all the cap-throwing and after-grad partying was finished (about 3 days later), my parents decided that I needed a summer job. After all, I’d be heading off to university in the fall; it wasn’t unreasonable to expect me to make a financial contribution. I had a student loan and my parents were chipping in what they could, but they were right when they said I needed to earn some money of my own.

Apparently my babysitting career was not adequate to the task, and so my parents announced that they had done me the marvelous favour of finding me a job. A real job. A job in a chicken processing plant.

So much for the wonderful freedom of adulthood.

To be fair, I doubt my mother realized exactly what the job would entail when she found it for me, and I never held the awfulness of it against her. Just sayin’ so there aren’t any hurt feelings, okay? Anyway, there were to be no lazy summer days for me! No sipping tea and yakking on the phone with Sally, no taking off for the lake. Nope! The summer between high school graduation and first year university was to be spent pulling the heads off dead chickens.

Now, what does one wear to work in a chicken processing plant? And what exactly is a chicken processing plant, anyway? I had absolutely no idea, so I dressed fairly nicely in a new pair of bell-bottom jeans (it was 1979) and a peasant blouse. I think it was rust and orange, and it had little ties at the neck with bells on the ends. And embroidery. I do recall it had some embroidery on it. Because, you know, it was a job! A real, grown-up job.

When I got there, I was led into a room containing several long tables and lockers – the staff lounge, apparently. Not only did I have a real, grown up job, I had a job with a staff lounge! How bad could it be? There, I was issued a largish white apron and a hair net. Suitably outfitted, I was escorted across a muddy parking lot to the plant.

Just as we reached the plant, a large truck drove up to the far end of the building. A truck full of…chickens. Live chickens packed neck to claw in boxes, so tightly together that the truck literally bristled, like a giant chicken pincushion. I don’t know what my face looked like, but I expect I must have looked very alarmed, because the manager – a man – assured me that I would not be killing the chickens myself. Someone else did that part.

And so we went into the part of the plant where I would be working. to my horror, I was given the job of tossing the headless, featherless, dead-but-still-warm bodies into a giant dumpster of ice.

The room was set up in an assembly line. At the far right-hand side of the room, an overhead belt of dangling meat hooks emerged from a wall of hanging plastic strips, circled the room, and disappeared back into the wall again; an endless twirling loop. Chickens were unloaded from the truck, killed (I don’t know how), then gaffed (or whatever you call it – my memory is a bit selective) and sent through some sort of furnace where the feathers were burned off. When they emerged onto my side of the plastic strip wall, they were met by a small army of immigrant workers who performed a variety of indignities upon the corpses. When the poor birds finally arrived at my station, they’d been gutted, de-feathered and were sans head. All I had to do was take them down and toss them into the dumpster.

Pretty simple, right?

Anyway, I wasn’t fast enough, and chickens were whizzing past my head and returning back through the plastic curtain faster than I could snag them down. (Years later, a bellydance teacher taught us how to swoop our veils by imagining that were plucking potato chips off of an overhead line, dipping them in yummy sour cream and chive dip and then putting them back on the overhead line. She called it the chips & dip maneuver, and it was a useful metaphor for most people. When I taught it to my own students, I never mentioned the chickens.) Anyway, I probably managed two out of three, but it wasn’t good enough. After a while, one of the immigrant workers came and got me, much to my relief. Maybe I’d be sent in to do office work, instead. After all, I’d gotten an A in typing, could manage an electronic typewriter like the best of them. I could file, too – in alphabetical order and by subject.

But no such luck. She led me to the front of the line, where the chickens were emerging, fresh from the feather-burner-thingy. She handed me a knife and then demonstrated with a quick flick of her wrist how I was to slice a circle through the skin, all around the neck. Sort of a garrote, I guess. I actually don’t remember even trying, I was so horrified just by the experience of being in the room at all. This is what a chicken processing plant was? I’d had no idea. I must have proved completely inept at chicken-garroting, because she gave up and led me down the line a bit further. Here, I was shown how to grasp the skin above the cut, and then…pull the head right off. It came off inside out when she did it. She must have thought that part of the job was easier, I don’t know.

Now, she didn’t actually explain anything to me in words that I could understand. She didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak whatever language she spoke. She demonstrated and then expected me to repeat the action. I stood there in front of the chicken dangling on its hook and I understood exactly I was supposed to do. I did! And I couldn’t do it.

I was a good girl, and this job felt like such an awful punishment to me. It wasn’t that I thought I was better or more special than those immigrant women I was working beside, not at all. I was just a very naive 17 year-old girl who hadn’t even known where chicken in the grocery store came from. What can I say?

Being pretty much useless at everything else, I was eventually sent back to tossing the corpses into the dumpster of ice.

Back then I was a pretty militant born-again Christian. You know the girls with long flowy hair that used to raise up their hands and sing Kumbaya O Lord in public parks? The ones always pushing pamphlets into your hand when all you wanted to do was get to your bus stop? Yeah, that was me. So there I was, tears soaking my pretty blouse under my by now not-so-clean white apron, keeping it all together by sheer willpower and by reciting the Lord’s Prayer under my breath the entire time. I think I got my chicken count up to 2 per recitation. Pretty good, actually.

After what felt like forever, it was time for lunch, and I followed the women outside and across the muddy parking lot to the staff lounge break room. The women sat in groups, drinking coffee, eating food from paper sacks, having a smoke. They looked at me out of the corners of their eyes and laughed. I took off my apron and hung it on a hook. Then I went into the office, and with all the dignity I could muster, I quit.

I drove my mother’s car to the mall where I hung out until it was time to go home. I knew I was going to get into big trouble, and I did. But later on I found a babysitting job. I earned $850 that summer, which was about one semester’s tuition, so it was all okay in the end.

Those 4 hours changed me. I’m not a vegetarian, though I’ve dabbled at it. I don’t eat a lot of flesh, and I don’t eat pork at all because pigs are too freakin’ smart for me to feel comfortable eating one. I have a tremendous amount of respect for life and the lives of the animals that are raised and slaughtered to feed us. I also have a great respect for migrant workers and those who do the jobs nobody else wants to do.

I don’t know what possessed me to write this story today, but there you go.   What was the worst job you ever did? And did you end up a better person because of it?

Posted in Blog Categories, Just Write, Memories, Writing | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments