Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Nada Week

August is a gentle reminder for not doing a single thing from your new year resolution for seven months and not doing it for the next five. ― Crestless Wave
I'm not sure I have much to report this week. I'm sitting here wracking my brain trying to think of anything I had accomplished to share, and I'm coming up with nada. I guess some weeks are nada weeks.

I'm feeling a little strange these days... perhaps a little displaced. I'm enjoying this new house, but I think I'm experiencing a bit of groundlessness from having so much change in my life over the last few months. People keep asking me if we're all settled in, and I'm sort of give a wane smile and nod and say yes when in truth, I don't quite at home yet. Maybe it's part of my yearly summer blues, or maybe I'm feeling a bit lonely for some friendship. Or maybe I just need to be more patient with myself.

I had a rare morning to myself in the house yesterday. I had grand plans of watching a romantic comedy on tv while drinking tea and eating muffins. I'm not sure how I managed to run out of time to do that. I took Mr. Seymour out for his morning constitutional and ended up chatting with a couple of neighbours whilst he was fed many tasty treats. When we returned, I sat around and drank a cup of coffee while scrolling away on my phone while he napped. Finally, I got up and made a batch of apple muffins out of some apples gifted to me by a coworker...

...which I almost forgot about in the oven and they turned out a tad darker than I had planned. At least I didn't burn them. That would have been a tragic waste of muffins:

I think one of the reasons I feel like the week has passed me by is because I've been worried about finding a dog sitter for Seymour for an upcoming trip we have planned. It's been something that has been in the back of the mind ever since we brought him home. The thing about having a dog is that, unless you never leave home, you really need a good network of dog friends who can help you out when you need to leave them, and I really haven't been able to build that up since he came to live with us. It wasn't for want of trying but changing jobs twice and moving house hasn't really helped to build up the real-life social network required. We did meet someone today who will likely be the one, but it's all I can do to stop wishing I had my regular dog-sitters from back in Alberta to come and stay with him.

Life's all about change, I guess. Sometimes, it's hard to be prepared for what comes your way:

Meanwhile, I was hoping to have more completed on my doily, but I'm at the stage where each round is taking a lot of time to complete. I'm also doing a great job at having to rip back nearly every round to fix errors. I'm dubious as to whether or not I have enough yarn to complete the entire pattern. I'm also wondering what I'll do with the thing once it's finished. What does one do with doilies these days? I don't have enough surfaces to decorate with such things:

I do have a tiny little idea in the back of my mind to convert it into some kind of garment... maybe add it to the back of a cardigan or tee or something... but I haven't really gotten any further with that idea. Maybe I need to do some digging around in my magazines and my Pinterest boards for inspiration unless someone out there has a suggestion for me. Or maybe I could just frame it and stick it on a wall in this new house of mine. We'll see, I guess.

I think I'll go and find a few magazines to daydream through. Have a good week.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Busy/Not Busy

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? --Henry David Thoreau
I'm slowly adapting to my new surroundings here in our new house. It's a bit like I've woken up in someone else's life and in someone else's house. Annoyingly, after doing such a good job of unpacking so quickly, I seem to have to do a full lap around the house to find anything around here because I can't remember where I put it away. Someday, I'll feel like this is my home... just haven't quite gotten there yet.

We went out to a local lake for a lovely swim last weekend. Seymour sat on the mat in the shade and watched the other doggies splash around. I've often wondered if he would like to go for a swim. Given his aversion to baths and garden hoses and water in general, I'm thinking no, but you never know:

I borrowed a life jacket from a co-worker to try on him to see if he'd wear it. You can see what he thinks about it:

Luckily for him, the weather cooled down this weekend and we got a spot of rain, so we haven't had a chance to test it out. It has been somewhat of a relief from the intense heat. I took the opportunity to take some apples that were given to me to make a batch of applesauce in the slow cooker. Mine is always caramel-brown, probably because I leave the skins on and add a bit of cinnamon, and without even having to add any sugar, it's lovely and sweet:

This applesauce gets turned into applesauce loaf cakes. I have so much of it that I made two and froze one. It's always a good idea to have spare cake around:

I've also spent time in the garden this weekend doing a bit of pruning and tidying up. I have a bunch of roses that needed a lot of looking after and a couple of shrubs that needed to be taken down a notch. The hydrangeas were starting to fade, so I "dead-headed" a few of them and took some of the fresher looking ones inside. I think I'm going to enjoy having these big, cabbage-y blooms around. I think they look like bunches of butterflies resting together. I also discovered that, in my pre-move purging frenzy, all of my vases seem to have disappeared. These ones are a couple of vessels that happened to be sitting empty. I guess I have some vases to collect again:

I think another reason I feel so out of place at the moment is the distinct lack of tasks piling up on me at the moment. This time last year, Sundays always felt like a bit of a race to get things done before the work week started. These days, it's a different life... not that I haven't found things to do. I turned to the hubby yesterday afternoon and said, "I feel like I don't have anything to do."

He looked at me and said, "Are you being sarcastic? Since this morning, you built a website for someone, pruned the shrubs, made two cakes and then made lunch."

I guess I can't sit still. Even Seymour is exhausted watching me:

I have been working on a little busy-work project using some leftover yarn from a shawl I made a couple of years ago. It's a free doily pattern I found on Ravelry called the Double Pineapple Doily I'm enjoying it so far, but it's been a while since I've crocheted anything with a 1.6mm needle. I love the look of it so far. I just hope I have enough yarn to finish the entire pattern:

The yarn is a cotton/linen/silk blend, which has a wonderful vibrancy, but tends to split, which makes each round a bit painful. I also conveniently keep finding errors right near the end of the round. I've consequently worked just about every other round twice. Guess I won't be running out of things to do anytime soon:

I know I should feel grateful to not feel so run off my feet all of the time anymore, but after years of feeling depleted all the time, it's strange. It's hard to stop looking over my shoulder all the time for the next thing that will run me over. I suppose that, like all things in life, I'll adapt... or I'll just find something else to keep me busy... dressing up my dog. Poor Seymour. Have a good week!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

I Am Never Moving Again: Our New House

All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move. --Benjamin Franklin
We're finally here, finally in the new house.

It all happened like a bit of a whirlwind... or what would have been a whirlwind, if it hadn't been so incredibly hot outside on moving day. Maybe we could call it a slow bake in a convection oven. And, poke me with a fork, because I'm long past done. I gotta say: the friends that helped us move are among the best people in the world... and I am very sure that's the last time they'll ever want to help me move again. Not that I want to move again. I give you all permission to give me a stern talking-to if I mention moving house ever again.

I couldn't bring myself to write a single blogpost over the past few weeks because all I could think about was packing our stuff, how we were going to move all this stuff, and how I was going to unpack all this stuff. Man, I thought I was done gathering stuff. Turns out, I'm just getting better at justifying it.

It got to the point where we started labeling boxes like this, which is always a bad sign:

And so, here we are, slowly getting to stage where this house feels like ours, complete with random stuff everywhere:

I still have to figure out where to hang some pictures and organize the spare room and office, but I thought I'd organize all our books and all my knick knacks first. I knew I just wouldn't settle until I had all my treasures in the right places:

Even the stash has a place... or at least SOME of it does. There's much more in the house, currently hidden away. This stuff is just the sock yarn. And no, I don't have yarn a problem, thank you:

In the midst of all this, I did finally finish my top. I can't even remember when I finished it, except it was on a stinking hot day when I finally sewed in all the ends and tried it on and stood sweating and looking at myself in the mirror and said, "Good enough!"

It was a bit of a hard fight to get it finished. I knitted the first side of the shoulders and neck, and was starting the second side when I realized I had a problem. I had been experimenting with doing my ssk stitches in a slightly different way to try to get them to lay more flat, which involved twisting one of the stitches. This worked for the most part, but when I had many of them in succession all stacked up on top of one another, this made them pull in tighter than the opposing k2tog stitches. I thought I could live with it... I figured I could make that side the back. I carried on with the other side and switched back to not twisting any stitches, but once I got it finished, the obvious difference bothered me. For illustration, here is what the ssk stitches on the first side looked like (stitches circled for clarity):

And here's what the ssk stitches on the second side looked like, with the stitches more open and more symmetrical to the k2tog stitches:

And so... I ripped back all the stitches on the first side again and did it all again. It was for the best: I was running out of yarn and I needed to shorten the first side anyway. That's what I told myself. I was too tired to grumble anyway.

Somewhere in the blur of the last couple of weeks, I washed and blocked it, and it got packed away somewhere with all my stuff, got moved over here, went missing for a couple of days, and was finally unearthed while I was unpacking things in the office. The weather finally cooled down long enough for me to throw it on and take a few photos on our back deck. Yes, we have a front AND a back deck. And a heckuva lotta trees, which made for quite a nice backdrop:

I am for the most part happy with it. I am glad I had enough yarn to make some decent sleeves, and I am also very happy with the overall length of it. I'm glad I ignored the instructions and worked more repeats, otherwise I'd be tugging at it every time I put it on:

I didn't work the neckline per the instructions, mostly because I couldn't be bothered trying to figure them out and because I was afraid of running out of yarn. In trying to make the neckline symmetrically, I ended up making the neck hole a teensy bit too small, which means I have to wiggle my head through until it pops out. I'm hoping I won't bust a seam sometime, but I do have a little bit of yarn leftover in case I need to re-do it... somewhere in the house...

It's a long weekend here, and I took an extra day off to give myself a four day weekend, and I'm ever so glad I did. I've got most things put away now and even took a few naps, so I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. I really love this house: I love the yard and the kitchen and the whole feel of it in general, and I especially love being away from the noisy highway we used to live next to. Oddly, I lay in bed last night and thought about the old house and started to feel a little homesick for it:

Perhaps I long for the familiarity of it. Or maybe it has memories attached to it that I'm afraid to lose: it is, after all, where Rascal used to live. I miss my boy, even now, and I'm afraid to leave him behind. He would have loved this house. But Seymour loves it just as much as he would have, and that is sort of like having Rascal here as well:

I'm off to bake a cake this morning. Have a lovely Sunday.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

I Keep Finding Lentils

Home's where you go when you run out of homes. ― John le CarrĂ©, The Honourable Schoolboy
We're coming down to the wire for our moving date, which is two weeks away. We've both been packing and purging, with almost daily trips to the thrift shop. It's times like this, surrounded by boxes and suitcases, when I truly feel like all my stuff is just a burden and I vow to never buy another thing ever again. I wonder if I'll stick to it this time. And it's not just clothes and shoes and other belongings. If I find another bag of lentils or shredded coconut from three years ago, I'm going to have a conniption. I will go down in history as the person who had an epic meltdown because of surplus dry goods.

The hot summer days have not been conducive to knitting. I find myself laying on the couch each evening, mindlessly scrolling on my phone until I'm too tired to keep my eyes open and then drag myself to bed to try to sleep. Summer, you are too much for me: too much heat, too much light, too much noise. I shall continue to whine until the autumn comes. Fair warning.

We decided to have a beach day yesterday, which is the first we've had this year and the first time we brought Seymour along. He seemed pretty happy to flop out on the mat and watch the kids playing. He got excited about watching a dog playing with a ball in the water, but he wasn't at all keen on getting in himself. Not that I mind. I didn't particularly want to take home a wet, sandy pup in the car:

The blueberries are in full flush and we are currently picking at least a punnet a day. The hubby loves them in his ice cream and cereal. I much prefer them fresh by the handful, but a Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin does not go unappreciated around here either.

I think I made a mistake and offered one to Seymour yesterday, which he promptly gobbled up. Later, he snuck up behind the hubby while he was picking and stole a mouthful for himself. Hmm. I may have created a little monster here...

My current knitting project is actually coming along, slowly but surely. If I can just get myself to sit down and knit, I might actually finish it before we move. I still don't understand how people are managing to knit this pattern as it is written: somehow, in working up the first side, I managed to get all the stitches shifted over by two, and absolutely nothing was lining up. I'm mostly just improvising at this stage, but it at least LOOKS wearable. Time will tell, I suppose:

I'm off to go to and figure out what I'm going to make for lunch this week out of a can of chickpeas and whatever else is left in the cupboard. Maybe something with lentils and coconut. Bleh. Life lessons in dry goods, seen here live and in colour. Have a good week.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Continued Cupboard Purging, with Knitting

Muffins should always be eaten quite calmly, as it is the only way to eat them! --Oscar Wilde
The heat wave broke earlier in the week, and I'm happy to report that we have been able to sleep without air conditioning and fans. I guess I must have been finding the hot weather difficult because I reached the weekend feeling quite tired. I napped for a long time yesterday afternoon. This after yapping on about how much more energetic I was feeling these days. I guess I jinxed myself.

Today, it was cool enough to have the oven on, so I went on another cupboard purge and made a batch of Lemon Semolina Muffins. I really can't remember why I had a bag of semolina in the cupboard, but it's been a good challenge to try to use it up before we move. I reduced the sugar by a third and didn't bother with the syrup or the glaze, and I used some of the lemon balm from my garden instead of using lemon zest. This is my second batch of these, and neither batch rose all that much, but I hereby declare them perfectly delicious: buttery, with a nice texture that comes from the semolina. It's a bit of a misnomer to call them a muffin. I'd call them more of a cupcake myself.... but they're so good that I might have to call them "finished" soon:

I also decided to try to make something with these enormous radishes I got the other day. I've never seen such big radishes. A lady at the local grocery store told me once that they were delicious quartered, steamed, and then pan-roasted in butter, and you know, she was right. I cooked them along with some quartered new potatoes, some onions, the radish greens and a couple of eggs to make a sort of hash. They were so delicious, but I'm not sure when I'll be making it again because these came from the United States and I'm not sure how much us Canadians will be able to get from that country anymore. I'll have to wait for the local ones to be ready... or I'll just have to grow my own.

And that's about as political as I'm going to get on this blog.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that our blueberries are about to ripen. Good ol' local blueberries:

I also decided today was a good day to make some rice pudding... at least a version of it. This is a dessert I feel like I should have grown up with, and I sorta did, except the Filipino iteration would have had corn in it. I did keep up the tradition of using evaporated milk, not for tradition's sake but to use up one more thing out of the cupboard. Traditionally, it would have also have been cooked on a small fire in a huge wok and would have been tended to by the youngest child (me) who would have had to have stirred it constantly so it wouldn't burn. That job was still mine. I'm still pretty good at it.

I decided at the last moment to add some lemon extract and a touch of sugar, and MAN it was good. I've still got more rice to use up, so I guess I'll have the hardship of making it again. Poor me:

And of course, the knitting continues. My top is coming along pretty well. I was so sure I'd be at the point where I could separate for the sleeves by now, but I haven't worked on it nearly as much as I thought I would this week. I am also somewhat mystified by the instructions in the pattern, which, had I followed them, would have made my top about six inches long under the armpit. I've read and re-read and re-re-read it, and I just don't get it. I've decided I'm just going to knit it until I deem it long enough, which experience tells me is at LEAST 15 inches from the armpit. So there.

I feel somewhat discouraged by the world these days. News of people who advocate for hate and separation and people who act in revenge and for pride have made my heart and mind really heavy.  I look at my parents and I feel bad that this is the world they are growing old in. I feel kind of lonely these days for folks who are happy to laugh and smile and to look out for the people around them. You're out there, right? I hope so. Do me a favour and try to bring a bit of sunshine to someone's day. We'll all be better for it.

Have a good week.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hot Days, With Knitting and Napping

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
It is so stinking hot today that we holed ourselves up in the house for most of the day to hide from the heat. Geez, summer really is not my favourite season... I hate the feeling of an electric fan on my skin, but we needed it on to keep the air moving in the house, so I often find myself paradoxically putting a blanket on to keep the air off me. Meanwhile, Seymour demonstrated how to best conserve energy:

Outside in the garden, our messy and wild-looking strawberry patch has suddenly started producing a bunch of fruit. We usually get one or two berries a day out of this lot, but we've been picking cupfuls over the last day or so. It's so lovely to have a freshly-picked strawberry. There is truly nothing like it:

Our blueberry shrubs are positively drooping with fruit. I'm hoping everything will ripen before we have to move. I would be so sad to miss all these lovely berries this year. Luckily, I had the wit last year to buy a couple of new blueberry shrubs, which are currently sitting in pots to be transported to our new home. Perhaps we won't have to wait too long to have shrubs like these again:

We've also been busy digging out a few transplants to take along with us. I've got a few strawberries, some lemon balm, some mint, and a bit of sage and rosemary, not to mention my unbelievable poinsettia which has survived four years with me and continues to bloom heartily throughout the year. It's a hopeful site on the deck these days:

I'm making really good progress on my cotton lace top. I won't say that it's exactly flying off the needles, but I'm really glad I decided to convert the written instructions into a chart. It's been much easier to work more intuitively with the pattern. I'm hoping that I'll make it up to divide for the sleeves this week:

I've been finding it really difficult to really capture the colour of this yarn. It's sort of a deep raspberryish purple... a tad darker than what I have here. It really is quite mesmerizing:

I attended a creating lettering workshop on Friday evening. To be honest, the class itself wasn't great and I didn't feel like I learned a lot. I spent the greater part of the class daydreaming about the chocolate bar I was going to buy after class, but it was interesting meeting the people there. We started off going around the group to introduce ourselves and to share a bit about why we were there. I was struck by how many of the group shared that they had all gone through some type of burnout, mostly job-related, and that coming back to some kind of creativity was part of their healing process. About half of the group expressed this, and while I didn't talk about my own difficult work experiences, it was so sad for me. Why are there so many people that go through this? And why do we lose touch with our creative sides when we are in the midst of it?

I do feel like I've come a long way since this time last year. When I go back to read my posts from last year, I notice how resigned and tired I seem in all of them. I'm in a very different world now, away from the stress and emotion I was in before. Last week, I realized how long it had been since I'd said, "I'm so tired," because these days, I rarely am.

What a difference a year makes. I wonder what the rest of the year will bring?

Have a great week.