I'm writing this from Ontario and will be brief, since I'd like to go out for a walk before the early effects of the Frankenstorm hit. There will be rain here for the next week; Vancouver is well into its wet season too, but last weekend the Okanagan was all perfect fall. There were apples, autumn colours, and a dusting of snow on the trees and mountains in Manning Park. Highlights of the trip included staying at one of the best bed and breakfasts I've ever been to, a fantastic dinner at a French bistro in Kelowna, and plenty of wine tastings (Desert Hills was a favourite). Coming back to regular life afterwards was tough, but I brought back more than memories - my "wine cellar" (i.e. the fridge door/ liqour cabinet/ kitchen counter) is currently stocked to the hilt, and I have the Mission Hills tour guide's suggestion for a gourmet snack to try out: popcorn with grated parmesan and a drop or two of truffle oil added to the butter , to be enjoyed with a glass of Chardonnay. Thanks tour guide lady!
This weekend was both rainy and unscheduled; perfect conditions for taking stock of uncompleted projects lying around the house, and also for making pumpkin cinnamon rolls.
These socks have been my main knitting project for the several weeks, and are going to be gifted soon.
Status: After taking this photo on Saturday, I finished the toe and now just have to finish weaving in ends. My self-imposed deadline will be easy to meet, and then I can focus on the pink beret that I've started in the meantime.
Last year I made two knitted ice cream cones (kawaii!), and have since had a request for one more. This is a great project for using up odds and ends of yarn; am I a bad friend because that was one compelling reason to say yes?
Status: The actual knitting went quite quickly. However, since finishing the "good" part, these pieces have been off to one side of my coffee table where they have been slowly turning into part of the living room decor. Once I double-check that the size/shape of the scoop is right, I just need to add sprinkles, and stuff and sew it up. Hey Mary, get on it already!
I've made several pairs of mittens over the years, and tend to turn to these general instructions for coming up with my mitten plan-of-action.
Status: Neglected for months, and thwarted on the finishing.
You see, I had planned on adding a duplicate-stitch rose to each mitten. To that end, I took my time coming up with the perfect flower design, but when I stitched it on to a mitten it looked like crap. I then tweaked the flower design. Once again, it looked like crap. The flower idea is now scrapped, but I've since been undecided as to what embellishment to finish the mittens up with. Beads? I don't know. Like the ice cream cone, they're nearly done. I'm just sort of uninterested in them.
In Part 2: the remainder of the knitting projects, and... oh gosh, who knows what I'll unearth when it comes to sewing projects...
Life bunches up sometimes, you know? While there has been a reasonable amount of couch and pajama time over the last couple of weeks, I've also been out a fair bit and have been mostly focusing on getting things done.
There was one morning last week where I left the house to go to work and got about a half a block before I realized that I wasn't wearing a bra. So yeah, that's where my head has been at (or not) lately.
Yesterday I got home from work feeling tired and dealing with an all-day headache, and had the energy for exactly the following: making vegetarian poutine, knitting less than a round on my sock-in-progress, googling some Okanagan bed and breakfasts, and getting under a quilt and watching Bette Davis' first film: "The Bad Sister" from 1931 (also starring Humphrey Bogart).
Today life is back to normal, and this weekend I'll be puttering around: making Smitten Kitchen's pumpkin cinnamon rolls, cleaning out my kitchen cupboards, and taking stock of all the half-finished projects strewn around my living space. Maybe I'll go to the UBC apple festival; maybe I won't.
It's going to be coolish and rainy here for the next week. Time to hunker down. On a fall note, I've discovered salted caramel mochas at Starbucks - a calorific cup of happy joy! And of course, Thanksgiving (aka the best holiday of the year) was lovely. The menu: roasted potatoes, baked cauliflower with cheese sauce, cornbread stuffing with cranberry and orange, lemon-y green beans, and pumpkin cheesecake. (All from Nigella's Feast.)
These pictures were taken on my birthday, a few weeks ago. This is part of the Metlakatla nature trail (near Prince Rupert), and while I was only able to go 1 - 2 km down the 10km trail, I definitely want to go back and see all of it - forest-y bliss!
Kitsch: something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste (so says dictionary.com).
Well, when Tara and I were out on Thursday evening and spied the flamingo and fairy-light covered patio of the Rumpus Room, we had to investigate. This establishment definitely appealed to our tawdry and undiscrimating sensibilities. The menu contains items like deep-fried pickles! Breakfast waffle burger! Burger with a side of waffle! To be sure though, they have lots of "real" food to choose from as well, and I was impressed with the extent of their vegetarian options. We stuffed our faces with spicy green beans, chicken for Tara, waffles for both of us, and some delicious strawberry mojito.
As a bonus, we had the nicest waitress ever, who could not wait to go chanterelle picking; apparently she makes a mean boozy chanterelle soup too!
I'd like to talk about how great the Yellow Aster Butte trail is, and how great Sunday was... but as today marks the end of a recent spate of busy-ness, and as I have baked oatmeal just coming out of the oven, some beautiful alpaca yarn to swatch, and a few things on my to-do list before meeting up with friends later on, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.
The bottomline? Any hike in the Glacier / Mount Baker area is bound to be pretty spectacular. What better way to work up an appetite for a glass of pinot grigio and a mammoth bowl of pasta puttanesca?
Last year I went to Garibaldi Lake for the first time, and thought it was about the best hike ever. But in some ways, this Saturday's Cheakamus Lake trail was even better: it incorporated the best elements of the Garibaldi Lake hike (not surprising since the two lakes are quite close to each other) with a fantastic effort:reward ratio (this trail is basically flat; Garibaldi Lake has about 800m of elevation gain).
The most difficult part of the outing was driving to the trailhead on a dirt road with some potholes.
The trail is flat and well-maintained, and goes through a lovely forest and alongside a glacier-fed lake.
The campgrounds - about 3 km in - were definitely filling up on a Saturday afternoon, but would probably be fairly vacant on a late-September weekday. We had the beach at the end of the trail all to ourselves.
Trees, trees, and more trees. Lush green everywhere. A perfect fall day.
Given my fascination with cakes that have grated vegetables in them, I needed only the tiniest of excuses to get around to making Joy the Baker's chocolate beet cake (as in, I've eaten all my brownies, and have buttermilk to use up).
Side note: I had leftoever buttermilk after making the buttermilk-basil-lime sorbet from Sprinkle Bakes. You should totally check out her blog; she is amazing.
Anyway, back to the cake. I made half the recipe, which yielded 10 cupcakes. While I'm no calorie-counter, I did shy away from the icing called for in the recipe, as it was replete with cream cheese, butter and icing sugar, and I've had a steady diet this summer of brownies and gin cocktails. This icing consists of a half a cup of icing sugar, and small quantities of softened butter, milk, vanilla, and grated beets. There wasn't quite enough icing to go round, but it's alright to have a few naked cupcakes.
And while we're on the topic of Joy the Baker recipe winners? This crostini is one of the best things I made this summer. Hurry while there are still decent peaches and tomatoes to be found!
Edited to add: Since I still had buttermilk to use up, and since I thought that leftover pancakes would be good food to take on a hike (I was not wrong), I subseqently made JTB's buttermilk pancake recipe. Now, I thought that I knew pancakes (as in, mix together flour, milk, eggs, and a bit of sugar, salt, baking powder and melted butter). I was wrong. These are the best pancakes I've ever made. Pancake epiphany. Amen.
Susannah and I (also known as mutual hat-enablers) went to the antique fair on Sunday. Out of the whole skating rink, this was the one item that needed to come home with me: a fantastical, freaky, yet totally-awesome pink feathered hat from the 60s - in pristine condition.
Over the last several years, I've thought from time to time about how, at least once in my life, I would like to have hair the colour of candy floss. But... think of the maintenance; the commitment; the unprofessionalism. And while I rarely go for novelty purchases - functionality is just too important to me - this seems like both a happy compromise, as well as instant mood enhancer.
(The seller noted: "I was sure this would be bought by a drag queen."
From time to time, I'll be doing a blog feature called "Best of Nigella". They say to write what you know, and I know Nigella's recipes; over the past decade, I've cooked so much from her books that I've built up a repertoire of personal favourites from her oeuvre. Let's start with a drink - because hey, we're on summer vacation!
Meet the "Fresh Green Gimlet" from Forever Summer. Nigella writes: "This takes inspiration in part from a mojito ... and in part from a gimlet. ... And frankly, this child outstrips either of its parents". My note in the cookbook simply reads "the best drink ever".
1 tbsp sugar
juice of 1 lime (approx 2 tbsp)
small handful mint leaves
3 tbsp (50 mL) vodka
5-6 ice cubes
splash or two of sparkling mineral water
Mix sugar and lime juice in a glass; stir to dissolve the sugar. Add mint leaves and muddle. Add vodka and ice, stir, and top up with sparkling water to taste.