"Don't wish me happiness I don't expect to be happy all the time....It's gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all." Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Friday, 26 December 2014

Wheat Germ Bread Recipe

If your looking for a bread recipe that has a bit more to it than just white bread - this may be it. I make this bread quite a bit for that very reason. Like my other bread recipe's that I've shared with you this past year it comes from the out of print cookbook called All The Way Vegetarian by Dorothy Simms. Their were two wheat germ recipe's in this cookbook and I've chosen this one as the taste is more subtle because their is less wheat germ in it. Here is the recipe with a few of my own minor revisions. 6-61/2 cups white flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup powdered milk, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 23/4 cups water, 1/4 cup sugar, 21/2 tsp.(s) instant yeast, 3 Tablespoons vegetable shortening, 1 teaspoon sea salt.     Combine in large bowl 21/2 cups of the white flour, whole wheat flour, milk powder, wheat germ, and yeast. In saucepan, heat together water, sugar, shortening and salt until warm (110-115 degrees), stirring constantly to melt shortening. (Personally I always get this to hot and then I have to wait for it to cool. If you don't do this and it's to hot you will kill your yeast. I did that the first time. If this happens just wait for the mixture to cool then add more yeast. That's what I did and it turned out fine.) Add to dry mixture and beat thoroughly. Gradually add the remaining flour to make a soft dough, just until the stickiness is gone. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to grease surface. Cover and let rise ( I let it rise 1 hr) near wood stove.  Punch down, divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a loaf and place in two greased loaf pans. Place back by woodstove, cover and allow to rise until almost double. Bake 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool. Makes two loaves.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Almost christmas and traditions

The cabin smells yummy. Christmas is a wonderful reason to bake but I really must stop after all it's just the two of us. My mom made orange sugar cookies every Christmas when we were kids. Except she wouldn't put on icing or sprinkles. I like sweet things and it seems my daughter does to so today when we made them on they went. My mom made fruitcake but I don't like that so I never made it. She never made carrot pie for christmas but I have. This is the first christmas my daughter will remember and I will make it special. Isn't that the point of tradition?
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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Is it spring? And learning her a,b,c's.

Today I found this lone primrose in the garden but everywhere I look there are buds. Despite the wet, spring weather we are still inside a lot. I took up counted cross stitch recently not because I needed something else to do but I thought it would be nice to do with my two year old. It would have been easier had I decided for our first, small project to follow a pattern. I redid the first letter a B three times before I got it right and now my daughter is pointing out all the b's in her books. The first letter of the second word went even worse and she learned what a n looks like. I learned I can't count. The upside is I didn't prick my finger with the needle but I couldn't as cross stitch uses a tapestry needle and they are blunt. On this darkest day of winter I'm thankful for this peaceful, quiet life where I can be the mommy I am and for His strength.
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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Isn't love His favourite gift?

After spending every evening knitting (and sometimes very late) the Christmas sweater is nearly done. I just have to block it. Yes, you read that correctly. I realize I am doing things incorrectly if one follows traditional knitting protocol procedures which states that blocking is done before sewing the pieces together. If your a non-knitter blocking is wetting the pieces and then pinning them onto something flat to dry. I have a piece of styrofoam that I use for this purpose. As I near forty I am becoming less likely to bother with established ways of doing knitterly things. After all I have been knitting for almost twenty years and experience counts for something. Especially when it comes to shortcuts. If my pieces are the right size then I don't bother anymore with blocking until it is sewed together. Christmas eve will find me relaxed and knitting something else. I have given my best to my daughter and it doesn't matter whether or not she knows, because parenthood is all about giving. My gift reminds me of the continuous depth of the love of God. Christmas is about that love.

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Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Sweater and matters of the heart

I finished knitting the back of my toddler's sweater and felt a little smug. I was two days ahead of schedule. I'd also met my goal of carefully following the pattern word for word. I cast on for the left front and then it occurred to me. The pattern front is a lovely cable design but it doesn't do justice to the equally lovely smocking on the sleeves and the back. Why not add more smocking and pockets? Pockets after-all are for miniature toys, finger puppets and whatever else a two year old can hide in them. With the cables there is no room for pockets. So I parted ways with the pattern and this makes me a little nervous. I'm getting low on time for re-knits if this gift is going to be ready for Christmas morning. It's not like this is her only gift from me. It's just the one that I've poured all of my heart and soul into and that's why it matters. Yes, she is only two but I know she gets it. P.S. I did find the perfect buttons. They were in my button jar. All I had to do was look.
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Storm crossing

After six weeks we went to town and this time we got toilet paper. Lots of it. It was our first shopping day without me carrying my two year old in the deuter 2 backpack. I had boughten the pack used off ebay and it has served us well. Instead, I put my daughter in the wheelbarrow with the empty totes that were all tied together. I didn't pick the best day weather wise. It was raining, the southeasterly wind was screaming, and although it could't be helped it was still dark so I had my head lamp on. I hadn't gone very far before I felt something attached to me. A fir bough had gotten caught in the hem of my calf-length skirt. By the time we got down to the beach it was light out and I put the head lamp away. The beauty of the storm was breathtaking. It was even more so once we were out on the stormy sea and headed to the mainland. Our water taxi driver was a natural and handled the boat so well that if you didn't look out the window you might think it was a lazy, summer morning. Well, not quite. After all, we were the only passengers and I was to busy hanging on to attempt a picture. After we got to town the rain abated, the wind calmed, the sun came out and it turned into an unexpected, unpredicted lovely day.

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Sunday, 7 December 2014


I have a love - hate relationship with my splitting maul. I hate it because I think it's to heavy. I tolerate it because its paid for and given that I have huge blocks to break open I'm dubious that going lighter is the answer. So I've stayed faithful, chopping all of my wood with it for the past three years and staying hopeful that one day it will get easier. And It has. It happened today by accident. I broke a block open and because it was nearby I put a quarter section from the broken block on a very short block. My wood is all cut at 15" unless it happens to be the stump or the end of a log hence a short block. I was standing on uneven ground so I repositioned myself to the high side and aimed a blow. It was like slicing butter with a hot knife. Delighted like a child at Christmas I tried again this time with the remaining block. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. With a single blow each piece flew off the block. Sweet! I have been reminded about something. It's not just about persistence and determination. When something doesn't work it may need a different approach.

Monday, 1 December 2014

The beauty of winter

There were a few falling snowflakes and it was enough to lure us outside for a walk and to fill the wood box. I like the silence of winter. It is a breath of fresh air for the soul. I am drawn to the beauty of the leafless limbs on the plum tree. The wind blew most of them off yesterday and the ones that remain look artistically placed. The ground is frozen and there is ice instead of puddles on the tarps/plastic covering the firewood. The half frozen wood splits easily so I split an extra block. With each block I typically get about two wheel barrow loads. I am splitting firewood nearly every day. I don't want to burn my nice pile of chopped wood- not all of it not yet. I hold the little mittened hand as we walk through the second growth rainforest. We stop to watch a pileated woodpecker drilling in an alder and pause to listen to a flock of kinglets. Sparrows run ahead of us and disappear into the tangle of sword ferns. Back at home we put another cake of suet in the empty feeder. The new song sparrow spends most of its time feeding on the ground while the new towhee who spends alot of time hanging precariously off the feeder is considerably more agile. We offer some sunflower seeds to the pair of watching nuthatches but they are not particularly interested so we go back inside where cookies are waiting. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Learning patience

I have learned when I take time to linger, to enjoy the toddler holding my hand spashing through the mud puddles as we meander down the lane then I know I am in the right head space and everything else that happens in our day will be fine. And that's what it has come down to is for me to preserve the inner tranquility.  There are times when I feel impatient and I have learned that if I just stop and pause long enough before speaking I will regain the calm again. With practice and the constancy of prayer it is becoming a part of me. It takes hundreds of tiny stitches to make a quilt and hundreds of days to create the story of a childhood. May each day like each stitch be beautiful.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How I do laundry

Once a month I had been hauling our laundry to town until last February or so when I purchased the wonder wash made by Alternative Laundry. I bought my unit off amazon after reading the reviews. I use it six days a week and it hasn't fallen apart and neither is it leaking. I wash all of my daughter's clothing, my shirts, sock/underwear, pj's, and soft toys in it. Anything that is stained first receive's a soak and/or a scrub. It uses very little water and soap and is simple to operate. I crank it by hand for two and a half minutes or so for the wash cycle and then empty it out and refill it and then crank it for forty five seconds for the rinse cycle. As I have drain plumbing I let it empty into the kitchen sink and to fill it I pack rainwater in a bucket from a water tank outside.  I do not use it for sheets, towels, jeans, or anything that would be 'heavy' when it is full of water. Those items are to messy to remove from the top of the machine. They get washed by hand in a tote outside on my back deck. The wonderwash has made things easier and its small footprint is something I can live with.

Monday, 24 November 2014

To say I Love You

It's a Christmas Eve in a month and well, frankly I am nervous. You see I decided the very best gift I could give my daughter is a handknit sweater. After all what else could make you feel more loved or cared for than to wrap yourself up in something that has taken a zillion hours of someone else's time? Yes, she is only 2 but her favourite clothing items are the one's I've knitted. So I know she get's it. Yes, there is a population out there of unappreciative holders of knitted items. In my stash I found the perfect yarn and then I found the perfect pattern. Yes, I am going to follow directions for this one time. With this in mind I've gotten started but I've only gotten two sleeves done. Well, not quite there is still the embroidery part on each cuff to do. And then there is the fact that I don't have the perfect buttons. So much for keeping Christmas simple.

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Friday, 21 November 2014

Toilet paper and simplicity

(Picture irrelevant) I made a miscalculation. No an oversight. I forgot to buy t.p. (toilet paper) and it's going to be awhile before we go to town again. Just to make sure this won't happen again I have pinned a note on the bulletin board beside the shopping list to count t.p rolls. The plan is when there are four left I will switch to leaves for pee's. Lucky for me on the coast there is an evergreen shrub with large, leathery mostly soft leaves called salal so I don't have to use snow. What is simplicity? Is it easy access to t.p.?

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Monday, 17 November 2014

To be the best

In my quest to be the best mom I've taken to cooking and baking. Some of my latest efforts, like the walnut carrot coconut cookie recipe I created and the sweet potato fries I experimented with have been nirvana. The other day I decided to introduce to my daughter the wonders of popcorn cake. I have the recipe my mom used and while it contains a few preservatives that I normally shy away from this cake was a favourite of mine a long time ago. As usual before baking we put on our aprons and I set all the ingredients the recipe calls for on the table. The cake which came out looking a deep purple looked more like candy but I remind myself it's a treat on a once in awhile occasion. Although the only occasion I am aware of today is my sweet tooth. For a snack I cut a slice. My toddler takes a nibble while I straighten up. "No mommy," she says and pushes it away. "Oh, no I think what have I done?" The flavour was so intense that if I had a really bad cold I would have been able to still taste the grape. It took me until evening after the little angel was tucked into bed before I realized my undoing. I had put 85 grams of Kool-aid in instead of jello. I'm glad it wasn't a birthday cake. I'm glad her socks knit up perfectly.
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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

If I were a hummingbird

"It is a matter of surprise to many persons to see the great amount of energy of mind and personal exertion that women will make under the most adverse circumstances in this country. I have marked with astonishment and admiration acts of female heroism, for such it may be termed in women,...(as they) perform tasks from which many men would have shrunk....they have resolutely set their own shoulders to the wheel, and bourne the burden with unshrinking perseverance unaided; forming a bright example to all around them, and showing what can be done when the mind is capable of overcoming the weakness of the body." Catherine Par Trail, A Canadian Settler's Guide. I think the same could be said about hummingbird females in general but as I watch the Anna's and how they approach life outside my window during this cold snap we are having; I think it is specifically applicable to them. These girls are hardy, brave and gutsy. Yet they live so unaware of themselves, and in that they have a sweet humility. This is what makes them so beautiful and desirable.

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Friday, 7 November 2014

Lunch and Soap

This week my daughter and I were over at a friends place and we had lunch together. I haven't been to her place since I was pregnant. The visit made me realize how introverted I have become. I wonder if this is a permanent change.....or is it a part of the circle of grief that I am passing through? The weather is rainy but the thermometer doesn't drop. The maple leaves have turned gold but they haven't fallen. We eat two meals in twilight and watch two female Anna hummingbirds frequenting the feeder. (They don't visit at the same time.......) Is it fall or winter? I used to make soap but then it became impossible to locate lye without ordering it online. So I quit. I've since regained an interest in it but this time I will make my own lye from ashes. Somewhere in my woodpiles I have a small stash of yew. Perhaps enough for a partial batch of soap. But I have to locate it first. One of these days I am going to build a woodshed. Then the firewood will be organized like my knitting needles. It will also stay dry.

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Thursday, 6 November 2014


It's 5:51pm and I'm knitting the first toddler sock. I have the whole entire beautiful evening to knit. (Picture taken in daylight) I've got my thermos of tea and I'm sitting under my LED lamp. I know this pattern. That is why I knit the first pair for myself. Now I just have to make everything a whole lot smaller. As I knit I keep noticing I'm holding my breath. I remind myself that I've made a calculated guess before I cast on. I knit for awhile. Everything seems to be going really well. After all the leg part is just a tube. As long as I get the width right it will fit. The real question is how are things going to go on the short rows of the gusset heel? I know that once I nail that...I'm good. Everything else will be just fine. As long as I remember to keep breathing.

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

The functional has got to be beautiful

Having warm, cozy feet is important to me. So I only knit socks with wool/nylon sock yarn. I knit these on size 2mm needles so they are thin and I can easily wear them in my rubber boots. I am going to downscale this pattern to fit my two year olds feet. She can wear them in the pink rubber boots that she loves with the little, green jumping frogs on them. Then, I will know that her feet like mine are toasty warm.
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Monday, 27 October 2014

In between rainy days we picked some rose hips and made some jelly. While we are out we often see geese migrating. It brings to mind these lines by Mary Oliver. "You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - over and over announcing your place in the family of things."

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The road home

It's been raining a lot and when the sun comes out it dazzles our world. I made a couple loaves of French bread and bean dip. Then we made gingerbread cookies just because we could. I've been thinking about the pioneers. Their determination, self sufficiency, and hardiness is something I admire. I haven't been to town in a month and I need to go. And it's not just for toilet paper..... A hummingbird showed up at the feeder that has been vacant for months. I wonder if this little bird plans to over winter. The temperature this morning was 9 degrees celsius; that's our coolest morning yet but the cabin is warm and there is always cookies to be had.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014


I don't do sticky notes. I make my reminders from discarded envelopes and paper. A clip holds them together. And if need be I can attach the clip to wherever. With the changing weather marking the end of dry weather I have been putting out little notes like this one to remind myself to keep the kindling and wood box full out on the porch. It's much more agreeable to go out there in my slippers to get an armload of wood then to venture out in a down pour. Weeks ago I put out the suet (I put it away for the summer months) but the towhee and song sparrow who have regularly visited for the last couple of years have either passed away or moved on. Even the chickadees had vanished. It was horribly quiet and so still that I had to scrape mold growing on the suet. Eventually, the chickadees showed up and their little chatter attracted a song sparrow. Then, the other day a towhee arrived. My toddler took a look at the male in the feeder and said, "looks like robin." And so they do except their behaviour is a whole lot different. I'm happy to see them. Birds offer a simple companionship.

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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

New loom

I've been aware of for some time of what I have considered the limitations of weaving tapestry on both of my looms. One day out of the middle of nowhere it occurred to me how I could build the loom I wanted. Their is no loom being manufactured that resembles the specifications of this loom. I used what I had on hand - except for one, two dollar bit. I stripped pieces off one loom and used clamps, screws, 1x4's, & 2x4's. I used my handsaw and screwdriver to construct it. I am not a carpenter just a determined woman. It was at all times intense, sometimes frustrating, and a good distraction as I got mentally wrapped up in it. Now that it is built and warped I have woven on it a little. Mostly just to tweak things and curiosity. That's what got me started in the first place.

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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Honey Whole Wheat Bread/Bun Recipe

Several months ago I shared with you a oatmeal bread recipe. That recipe along with this one is from the out of print All The Way Vegetarian cookbook by Dorothy Simms. I like this cookbook for it's bread recipes. I particularly like this whole wheat one as it does have white flour in it. This is a melt in your mouth bun/bread recipe. The ingredients are: 4-4 1/2 cups white flour; 3 teaspoons instant yeast; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/3 cup honey; 3 tablespoons margarine; 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour. Combine 2 cups white flour, undissolved yeast and salt in mixing bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups warm water. Beat 2 minutes. Add 1 cup white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. Beat 1 minute more. Stir in remaining whole wheat flour. Gradually add enough of remaining white flour to make a soft dough. On floured board, knead thoroughly. Put dough in warm greased bowl and let rise until double. ( approx. 1 hr) Divide dough into two portions. I usually make a loaf of bread with one and the other I make buns. Let rise until almost doubled. Bake 400 degrees; 20 minutes for the buns and 35-40 minutes for the bread.

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014


I've had this ford truck for 12+ years as far as I can figure out. Last spring it needed more than a battery; although it needed that to. While I was trying to figure out why it wouldn't stay running the driver's door suddenly stopped latching. That was a bit of a surprise. The truck hadn't been running very well and with every trip I had wondered if it was the last. So now the truck that is older than myself is being barged back to the mainland for scrap metal. I will miss the truck. Going along for the one way ride is my old wood stove (it sure is nice not to have that lurking around my back gate anymore) and the washing machine I broke some time ago from which I learned that you cannot use unfiltered rainwater in them. We are ok. My arms are strong and the wheelbarrow tire is not flat. What lasts forever? I like this answer found in a quote by a pioneer woman. "The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong." Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Little things

I knit these mittens for my daughter from the left over yarn I had from my fingerless gloves. I put new batteries in the lamp (I do all of my knitting at night) and that made a big difference. Still I am glad that I am finished for awhile with black yarn. She is going to have a lovely surprise in the morning. I can't wait.
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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

For the kids

I was in town today and I bought each of the three kids who received new clothes a pair of new gloves and a tuque. On behalf of a generous giver winter coats will also be given to those kids. I bought new socks, tuque's and a girl's pair of gloves which will be given to other kids without homes when a need is seen. All of the item's purchased were of a sufficient quality to actually keep them warm. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support in helping me to fill a need.
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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Fingerless gloves

Since I found it impossible to do a selfie of both hands while holding the phone camera this is the best I could do. I actually just finished knitting them tonight and it's a good thing to because I need to make my weekly post. I knit 3 gloves but the first doesn't exist anymore. There really wasn't anything wrong with it but in my quest for perfection it was the teensy tiny flaw that tore me to pull it out and re knit it even if that meant knitting with my headlamp on. The evenings are getting so short and I should know better than to be knitting with black in lamp/candle light. These gloves replace a pair I knit 3 years ago from Shetland wool. They were very soft but I didn't think they lasted long enough so this pair is knit with sock yarn. That's a mix of wool and 25% nylon. Their not as soft but the potential longevity makes it ok. The pattern I followed was my hand. (They are both the same size. Is this a problem for some people?) Tomorrow morning I will be wearing them when my daughter and I take a beach stroller ride.

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Friday, 12 September 2014

For the kids

This is a box of new clothing that was given to three youth. They are all in their senior year and are looking forwards to graduating. They don't have a lot of parental support for various reasons and one has none. Thanks to all of you who made this gift possible. My daughter has a tape of children's songs and the words to one of them are; "Give said the little stream, "Give, oh, give, give, oh, give, Give," said the little stream, As it hurried down the hill; I'm small I know but wherever I go, The fields grow greener still. Singing, singing all the day, "Give away, oh, give away," Singing, singing all the day, "Give, oh, give away."
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Friday, 5 September 2014

Kitchen decor

There is a knitting pattern book called Dishcloth Dresses available for 6.95 from Mary Maxim. I don't have the book nor have I had the pleasure of looking inside but the dress on the cover inspired me to knit my own version. I used left over yarn from an afghan and made another to give away to a like minded recipient who agree's that dish soap belongs on the counter.
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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Plumbing the sink

Since I finally had the right bit and some time I put in the drain plumbing in the bathroom sink today. The sink itself I scrounged from somewhere and the driftwood boards are from a simple cabinet that I remodelled to fit the sink. I put the plug in and poured in some water from a bucket and my daughter had fun washing her hands instead of using hand sanitizer. It was a really fun time for both of us. It also brings to an end my summer projects. Now it is time to get the cabin ready for cooler weather.

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Cookie receipe

I was complemented several times at the studio sale on my cookies and I want to share this receipe with you. I call it the yummy cookie. You can call it whatever you like. 1 cup dark brown sugar; 1/2 cup margarine; 2 tsp(s) baking powder; 1 egg; 1/4 tsp. sea salt; 11/2- 2 cups flour; handful of craisons; 1 bar of unsweetened baking chocolate cut into pieces. Cream sugar and margarine. Add vanilla, egg, salt, and baking powder. Stir. Add in craisons and chocolate. Stir again. Add in 1 1/2 cups flour and stir. Add in enough flour to make nice dough. Use a tablespoon and spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake 400 for 12-15 mins. ( my oven is cool so you should bake them at same temp. you use for your other cookies)

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Friday, 22 August 2014

At the end of the day

To all of you islanders who gave so generously I want you to know that today we made the world a better place. Thank-you for sharing that vision with me.
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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Silent auction

I have decided that what I am going to do is have a silent auction on all of my paintings. I am posting this one for all of you who are unable to attend. If you would like to place a bid send me an email with your bid. The auction will end 6:00 pm on Saturday, August 23. I will mail the painting to you placed between two pieces of heavy cardboard and charge you for actual shipping. I will then let you know the total and you can send me a money order or cheque. I can also hold the painting for you if you are coming to the island. This particular painting is titled: In The Morning. I hope some of you will be able to come by on Friday the 22nd. I have made lots of cookies! The studio will be open from 9-3. Let's make a difference in these kid's lives together!

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An invitation

I am inviting you to come to my open studio this upcoming Friday, August 22. I will have a variety of handwoven rag rugs, handmade beeswax tapers, and island watercolors that I have painted in the last two weeks. I prayed about these paintings and I can take little to no credit for them. 40 percent of my sales are being donated towards disadvantaged B.C. youth. These are high school teens who I have recently become aware of their situation. There is a huge need and this is an opportunity for us all to make a difference. If you are unable to come I am going to see what I can do to make it so that you can participate. I will keep you posted.

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Blue Blooms

We planted these morning glory seeds this spring. The seeds were big enough for my two year old's hands that she could plant them herself. 

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Thursday, 7 August 2014

A woodland sweater

I built this simple wooden gate with my toddler. It's made from salvaged rough cut cedar I found. I used a handsaw to cut the boards as I have yet to fix my extension cord. I was pleased that except for one my cuts were straight. I had some choices to make about this sweater. After I knit the body I realized there wasn't enough yarn for sleeves. I sorta suspicioned that from the beginning but this was the perfect yarn for my woodland sweater so I threw all caution to the wind. Maybe there is more choices but to me my options were: 1. Turn it into a vest. 2. Throw it in the stove although it would be more resourceful to take it apart and use it as a learning lesson. 3. Put different coloured sleeves on and blend in the green I have left. I did none of the above. Instead I opted for 3/4 length sleeves and disregarded that stripes on the body should match the sleeves. This sweater is going to be worn when I do laundry and those 3/4 sleeves is what makes it useful. I will wear a cotton shirt underneath and if I'm still cold because I am going in and out of the cabin hauling buckets of water I will put on a vest. I divided the yarn in half using an electronic scale that measures in grams. I had just enough yarn to make the 3/4 length sleeves I wanted. The next thing I decided to do was instead of knitting the sleeve from the cuff edge to the armhole on circular needles I picked up stitches and knit it from the armhole down on circulars. I did this because I had no idea how long those 3/4 sleeves were going to be. I've never knit sleeves this way and it was interesting. It's also gotten me curious to try other methods of sweater construction. Of course it took several attempts to get it the way I wanted and that is why it has taken me so long to complete it. Never give up on what matters.
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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

When love was measured in firewood

The sun hasn't yet touched the corner of the yard where I am working. I am splitting wood again. The blocks are big. Each one when split fills the wheelbarrow. With each swing I am straining. I hate this maul. I remember reading stories of how things were in days gone by. Before a man left home he split enough firewood to last his family until his return. It's been three years on Monday that he's been gone and the firewood is long gone. I guess it's time to buy myself a splitting maul. I wish I could buy a new heart to.

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Monday, 4 August 2014

Sunrise - a finished painting

I have fallen more deeply in love with God. Never before have I known such genuine, unconditional care. There is no truer, purer love than His. The bible tells us, "God is light." 1 John 1:5. Is this more than a metaphor?

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Thursday, 31 July 2014


It's 5:30 am and we are hurrying out of the cabin for a stroller ride. The beach is deserted. We pass empty chairs and umbrella's. There is room to think. The ocean crashes and a bald eagle calls. The wind is crisp and cool to warm skin. This morning as usual is glorious and we are just in time to watch the sun rise. I found the perfect bag for my sketchbook in a garbage heap outside of someone's gate. Somewhere along this beach I will pause for several minutes to draw. Later I will paint. Summer is a season when life is easy. Everything is dry, there is always lots of light and there is no fire to tend. There is even less laundry.

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Monday, 28 July 2014


I was going to write and tell you how excited I am to have all of my drain pipes plumbed. But it's not done. The kitchen sink and shower are completed but the bathroom sink is not and since I was just in town it is going to be awhile. I need to drill a 2" hole through the floor and the sink stand. When I started I didn't realize the outside diameter of the pipe is 2" not 1 1/2". That meant the spade bit I had was useless. On the next visit to the store I bought a 2" holesaw bit. I didn't realize until I got home that it has an oval hole and not a round threaded one that the mandrel I have needs. I don't understand why the difference? My sweet little cherub innocently busted the prongs off my heavy duty extension cord. I've since re-organized things so it won't happen again but I need to figure out how to replace the prong. Isn't summer beautiful?

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

When things go wrong

Today was a town day. We were in the truck and I hadn't gone very far, in fact I had just loaded the empty totes into the back of the truck and was ready for the half hour drive into town when I looked at my gas gauge and noticed it was below empty. Things didn't look good. In the past I have had problems with gas getting stolen out of my truck. I have tried two locking gas caps which the thieves pried off but thankfully it didn't scratch the paint. So I've resorted to packing a small Jerry can of gas behind my back seat. I haven't used it in years so this spring when I barged the truck over I took it out. But I neglected to put it back and promptly forgot about it until several days ago when I cleaned out my shed. I was going to bring it back to town with me and re-fill it with fresh gas but I had a rather large parcel that needed to get mailed. So I brought the parcel instead. We started to town and I began to pray. Every day begins with a prayer and this morning was no exception. Infact we had prayed twice before leaving the cabin. When the truck sputtered and coughed and died while going up some lonely hill there was nothing to do but pull over. I pulled my daughter's backpack and carseat out and set it beside the truck and stuck my thumb out. Vehicles passed. I thought about my blessings. We were on a wide, mowed shoulder. We were in the shade. It wasn't raining. More vehicles passed. I thought to myself God is just sending the right person and I hope it's a woman but I have to wait. I felt very vulnerable standing there holding my little girl. I know my grandparents pray for me every day and I wondered what time of day they prayed. A vehicle slowed and then stopped slightly ahead of the truck. A woman stuck her head out of her open door. I told her what was wrong. She said she was on her way to fill up her jerry can with gas. We decided it would be simpler if I just stayed behind and waited. She drove up the road several kms where there is a small store and came back with gas. I tried to offer her a 30.00 cheque for the gas and her time and money. Infact, I had the cheque all written out and signed but she politely declined. It's been a long day and know I am going to end it with a prayer. Thankyou God for so tenderly caring for us.
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Friday, 18 July 2014

Salal Berries

I spent the morning chopping and then splitting firewood. No matter how nice the weather is at the back of my mind is the knowledge of winter. Despite the dry weather the blocks of wood are still wet inside. I keep my splitting maul sharp but even after using it these past three years it's to heavy. It worked better for a man. My daughter put the bark into the wheelbarrow and picked salal berries. Yesterday we picked some and I baked muffins. I told her the berries she picked now we would put in tomorrow morning's pancakes. Salal berries are mealy although the ones getting less sun could be described as having a moist, semi-sweet, woodsy taste. In baking with a little sweetener they are good and they hold their form nicely. This afternoon we are going to pick more.

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Monday, 14 July 2014

Frugal knitting

I just finished knitting these mittens for my daughter. They are the first pair to have a thumb. I hope it stays warm. The red yarn came from an acid dye bath and the brown from a natural dye bath that we did ourselves. The tiny green flower centres are from the sweater I am knitting for myself. The woolen yarn came off a bulk spool that is a natural white that I bought online a long time ago. I still buy yarn at shops but only for special projects.
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I decided to paint the stove as that seemed the best option. The store only stocked Tremclad flat black so that made things easy. The can cost six bucks and I only used half of it however I was disappointed in the quality of the paint and next time I would search out a different brand. The rust came out very easily with steel wool and in some places I also used a little paint thinner. We lit the christening fire this morning and it does stink a bit but it's no big deal as we got the door and kitchen window open to keep the cross ventilation thing going. I am happy that the rust is gone which is problematic in this coastal climate. Now I'm on to the next project.

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Tuesday, 8 July 2014


The path of motherhood is about going to unexpected places. I finished work for the summer and this change brought a shift in priorities. It was time to wean my daughter. I thought we would be done with nursing back in march when she turned 2 but she wasn't ready to end the bed time feeding and I was working and it was easier to continue with things the way they were. I really wanted her to self wean but I doubted that she would ever do that. I started to reduce the minutes and offered cookies, as I have done before. We also came up with a new bedtime game together. Then one night she never asked and suddenly this insanely beautiful experience was over. Like the seasons that circle around us so the sad and the lovely have their place in our existence. Like the butterfly who owes it's existence to transformation I like to think that tomorrow I will be just a little bit lovelier. I am really glad it ended the way it did.
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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Naturally Country

"Summer afternoons; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." Henry James as quoted by Edith Wharton.
For a long time I've wanted a wool sweater that is inspired by the woodlands around the cabin but I haven't been able to articulate until now what it would look like. Then I happened upon 6 skeins of various greens that I hand-dyed some time ago. This time when I saw them I knew what they would be perfect for. The greens are from wild herbs, remnants from long ago summer afternoons spent in the shadow of the mountains. Now I have the pleasure of knitting the yarn. I've followed the design of a worn out sweater with the exception that I have knit it in the round. I rarely knit sweaters in pieces. A seamless sweater has many virtues. The main two being the sweater fits and feels better, and it is a timesaver as there are no pieces to block and sew. I am now ready to begin the sleeves and I have very little yarn left. What to do?

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Saturday, 21 June 2014

The abandoned herb

I planted lemon balm probably about 5 or 6 years ago and until this spring I have only noticed it when it comes to life each spring when it wakes up with the blooming daffodils. Lemon balm is easy to grow and does best in shade. It has a subtle, delicate lemon taste and has many medicinal qualities that you may want to check out for yourself. I've been experimenting with it and one of my favourite recipes that I've created is this pesto. Here is my recipe:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil; 1-2 small cloves of garlic; 1/2 lemon plus the zest; salt; 7 pecan halves; 1 cup chopped lemon balm leaves. I have found that the best way to make this is to put the olive oil, salt, pecans, lemon juice and zest and garlic cloves in the blender and blend until smooth. Then slowly add in the chopped lemon balm leaves. Serve over any type of warm or cold pasta or oven cooked potatoes. When my plant grows back I am going to add 1 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan.
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X15 Fiskars

As I write this I am lying on the warm ground partially under the shade cast by the sword fern fronds. Pumpkin is busy making jelly and the ravens around us are having quite an animated discussion. I am tired and so my mind is drifting like the cirrus clouds above me. But I did want to tell you about my new axe. It's a Fiskar and they are made in Finland. The other axes that I had to choose from while 20.00 cheaper did not say where they were made and I am finished with making any purchases of value from china. It slices kindling like a knife through warm butter and is so much easier on my hands. I haven't had it long enough to tell you if it holds it's edge but I will write about that another time.

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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Wood stoves

I found this stove sitting dejectedly beneath the towering douglas fir trees. Behind it was a pile of ash where a cabin before it was demolished once stood. Once I got it home I waited another year while it sat on my back deck as the stove I had used much longer lengths of firewood. After the winter the wood was gone and the new to me stove got moved inside and I hooked it up. Unfortunately it has a bit of rust on it. I've always disliked things that are at this stage. If it was covered in rust I could let it go but since most of the stove is not rusted I have to do something. There are several possibilities. 1. I could paint it. If I do this should it be flat black or glossy or should I go for burgundy or chocolate brown or some other colour? 2. Since I don't have a grinder I cannot do the spark test and I can only assume it is a steel stove. Apparently I could use stove polish but that is for cast iron although there are a few people out there using it on there "steel" stoves but maybe they have cast iron and they are confused. 3. I could put peanut oil on it sort of like conditioning cast iron cookware after removing the rust. And again since it is probably steel the results are uncertain other than I would have one greasy beast to clean up. Now the rusted stove that was inside is sitting outside the gate.....maybe someone will come by and take it.

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

At the end of the day it is the beautiful I want to remember. Right now that is the warbling vireo's nesting outside my bedroom window, the first red rose from the garden and the fact that I can now shut the lid on the laundry basket.

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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Keeping the perspective

The baby robins are gone but when I ask my daughter what she wants to thank Jesus for at meal time she says, "baby birdies." So I will pray, " We thank you Jesus for the (at this point she joins in with me and says) baby birdies and amen."

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Monday, 26 May 2014

Gift from the forest

I've been making jelly and syrup from the young growth on grand fir needle tips. It's tasty.....citrus-like.....high in vitamin C and free. Other popular trees to gather from are pine and spruce. How the jelly or syrup tastes depends on the strength of the juice and/or how much sugar is in it. I've tried a number of different proportions and I am sharing one of my jelly recipes. It's got it's own particular taste-Yummy and it is low in sugar. It is so good I'm canning pints. To make the juice which is enough for 1 batch gather approx. 550-600 grams dry weight, young grand fir needle tips. Place tips in large kettle, add 6 cups of water and simmer for 30 mins. Allow to cool. Drain through colander and then strain through several layers of cheesecloth. This will give you 4 cups of grand fir juice.
For this receipe you will need: 4 cups grand fir juice: 1 1/2 cups white sugar: 1 package (49 grams) no sugar needed pectin (available at Canadian tire) 1. Sterilize jars and prepare lids. 2. Measure sugar and set aside. 3. Measure grand fir juice into large kettle. 4. Add pectin and 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine(to reduce foaming). 5. Place on high heat; stir constantly and bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. 6. Stir in sugar. 7. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute stirring constantly. 8. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam. 9. Pour into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. 10. Wipe jar rims and add lids. 11. Process in boiling water bath canner for 10 mins or in a 250 degree oven for 15 mins or leave hot jars to seal on counter.
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Friday, 23 May 2014

Cradle in the wind

Of all the birds the ones I love the most are hummingbirds. At this time in my life I take even greater delight in them than ever before. Female rufous hummingbirds are a symbol of courage and strength. They are to put it mildly downright gutsy. Alone she will build her nest taking anywhere from 6 to 10 days. Alone she will incubate two eggs for 16-18 days keeping them at a constant temperature of 96 degrees. After they are born they weigh about 0.62 grams- less than a quarter teaspoon of sugar. As they cannot regulate their body temperature, alone she will spend most of her time sitting on the nest keeping them warm. After a week or so her babies will have enough pinfeathers to regulate their own temperature. Alone she will feed her young for about three weeks before they leave on their own. She will have flown as much as 12 thousand miles round trip to do all of this. Pumpkin and I found this hummingbird nest complete with two downy nestlings. Their bodies are deep browns and blend well into the dark nest. The only bit of color is their tiny yellow beaks. The two were fast asleep, while the light wind rocked their bark lined, basket cradle in the long drooping cedar bough. Even their beaks were barely visible.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Pacific sideband

Pumpkin and I found this native snail in the nearby forest while foraging. Apparently this species is the largest land snail in bc. It lives only on the coast and is listed as concerned mostly due I think to habitat loss/fragmentation and lack of information on the species. When I saw it travelling along SLOWLY through the sword ferns along the path I asked myself where is it going?

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