Category Archives: good food

Silver Hills

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I have just had the most relaxing and rejuvenating week. The blog was neglected, not because I didn’t take my iPad with me, but because I was out of town at a health spa right here in the province of British Columbia.

Silver Hills guest house has been operating as a health spa for over 30 years. It’s set in rural countryside surrounded by hiking trails and unpaved logging roads, with its own garden which produces much of what is later served in the kitchen.

The food is all vegan, except for the honey, abundant, and beautifully presented at three set times per day. Snacking between meals is discouraged (and really unnecessary)! There is very little caffeine available, only decaf coffee for the diehards, and a little cocoa powder in the zucchini muffins.

The schedule incorporates two walks per day, one after breakfast and one after lunch. Health lectures each night explain the importance of correct nutrition, water consumption, deep breathing, exercise etc. It’s run by Seventh Day Adventists and therefore there is a spiritual component, saying grace before meals, and a short gathering each morning, which you can embrace or not as you wish. The morning gatherings did include a lot of laughter as well as inspirational readings.

The spa is beautiful,  with a steam room, infrared saunas, hot tub, and treatment rooms where you can enjoy salt scrubs, massages with or without hot stones, detox wraps, reflexology etc. What a treat.

When I initially heard about Silver Hills I looked up their website and thought it sounded expensive but now I think otherwise. You get a beautiful room with en suite bathroom, three enormous meals a day, spa services, guided walks, cooking classes and health lectures. And at the end of the week, you leave with the feeling that you are part of a bigger family (the staff eat with the guests). It’s actually a non-profit organisation and the cost is worth every penny.

While there, there was some downtime, so I worked a little on my crochet blanket which attracted a lot of attention. So far, 122 squares out of a possible 180 have been added. So 67% unless I decide to do more or fewer. In the photos below, the newest squares are at the top.

I hope your week has been awesome too. If ever you feel the need to destress, I strongly recommend a visit to a place like this, even if it’s just for a day. But a week is better!

Getting in the mood for…

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…Christmas/Yule/Solstice or whatever you like to celebrate in December!

Woke up to this this morning…

  We have seen snow at higher elevations before now, but last night it snowed on us!

I am not good at planning far ahead for December festivities as we don’t make a huge deal of them, but one of the things I do like to eat around Christmas is mince pies. The last couple of years, I haven’t bothered to make mincemeat, but this year I decided it was time to make the effort again. You may be aware that a lot of commercial mincemeat is made with added suet (animal fat) unless you buy a specifically vegetarian brand, and even then, it’s so easy to make one’s own, why not just do that? Then you know what went into it.

  
The recipe I have says to make it four to six weeks ahead, and I’m just squeaking in on time, what with Christmas being only a month away. 

I don’t remember where I found the recipe as it was years ago, but it’s vegan, fat-free, and divine. 

Mincemeat recipe

3 cups currants 

1.5 cups golden raisins or sultanas 

1.5 cups Thompson raisins

(I think you can use any combination of your favourite dried fruits; I usually use dried cranberries in the mix too)

1lb chopped apples (say 3 good-sized ones or 4 small)

2.5 cups sugar (it’s tempting to cut back on the sugar but it is probably there for preservation properties)

1 teaspoon allspice 

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Juice of 2 lemons (and zest if organic)

0.75 cup fruit juice (please, not from concentrate)

Mix all together in a large bowl, cover and leave in fridge overnight. Pack into sterilized  jars with lids (no need to heat or vacuum seal), refrigerate for 4 – 6 weeks. 

This is really delicious used in tarts (small or large) for a traditional taste of a British Christmas. 

Smoky Sunday

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I seem to be very chatty this weekend.

The smoke and the crappy air quality in the valley led to us postponing the visit to Wild Play so we went to lunch at the only restaurant we ever visit, as it’s vegan and we can eat everything on the menu.

We went with friends and even after we paid the bill we carried on chatting and were there longer than usual. I received a lovely birthday gift of unusual yarn (from a LYS in Nanaimo), a pack of Zentangle cards and some Faber Castell PITT artist pens. And a loan of a book which comes highly recommended by my friend.

The photos I’m going to upload will probably come out all random as I still haven’t perfected their positioning even after years of blogging!

What else have I done today? Started reading the book…started colouring in my Secret Garden colouring book with my new pens…baked gluten free vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting to take to work tomorrow…started using up some sale yarn which I have had in my stash far too long. I’m forcing myself to crochet a big granny square with two strands of this Lion Brand Homespun in the colour Spice, just to get it used up and out of here!

That yarn is new – so new, it wasn’t in the Ravelry database. It’s basically rubber, the thickness is similar to bulky yarn, and I haven’t a clue what to make with it, though the Phildar website suggests jewellery and a small bag. We shall see…

Phildar Phil Techno

Phildar Phil Techno

Homespun blanket in the works

Homespun blanket in the works

Enjoying the new pens

Enjoying the new pens

A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being

Recipe from the book Vegan Cupcakes take over the World

Recipe from the book Vegan Cupcakes take over the World

Sorry for the silence

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I have no excuse, other than that I didn’t feel that I was doing anything interesting enough to blog about! 

Our house guests came and went. They ate my cooking without complaint: with compliments, in fact. It was certainly different having my father-in-law here without my mother-in-law. She died last December and he is still in that early phase of grief, trying to get used to doing things without her. My aunt and uncle in law also visited for about ten days and I enjoyed having them here more than I expected.  We took them out and about as much as we could, bearing in mind our work and social commitments. 

Now the sofa beds are folded back up again, the bedding and towels washed, and family life is back to normal. Youngest son just turned 17. It was a low key birthday but I made sure to bake goodies for the occasion. Cinnamon rolls in the morning and carrot cake in the evening…

   THAT was a sugar rush and a half!

Actually there is still some cake left. We have been sensible about pacing ourselves.

Lots of work this week, with extra hours to look forward to in July. The fabric store is getting ready for inventory – one day for fabrics, one day for notions. One of my work days starts at 7am!

So as I alluded to at the beginning, not much excitement to report in the crochet department. The Apache Tears scarf is moving along…

  
(Note: Hello Kitty pyjamas)

One more row of yellow and green, and maybe three of black, and I’m calling this done. It was an experiment but this isn’t my favourite yarn to work with (especially the black)! As you can see, the back is quite plain in comparison. 

 Fifty six squares done out of a probable 180 on the blanket. It struck me how I always have something to do with my hands when we had our visitors here. They had no craft to work on, no books to read, not even a pen and notepad. How could they survive a ten hour flight each way, waiting at various airports, and downtime during their holiday without something creative to do? Ah Muggles! Every evening that I was at home, I’d pick up my crochet hook, and add another square or three. I’d have taught them how if they’d asked! 

The weather has been hot and sunny and dry and we’ve already had smoke drift into the valley from a large forest fire to the west, between here and Vancouver. I’ve swum in the lake on two separate occasions, the first being numbingly cold and the second being refreshing and pleasant. The lake is warming up fast.

And now it’s time to pull the laundry out of the machine. I think you’re all updated so I’ll say good night for now (and hope that this post publishes successfully as the photos are taking absolutely ages to upload).

Great food, Great company, and some knitting

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Hello peeps, what an amazing couple of days of gastronomic delight I have had. 

Last night I cooked a huge Asian style meal for seven (five of whom are my direct family, and the other two are sort of my kids’ local adopted grandparents). A range of dishes, including tofu coconut curry, lo mein, steamed buns, summer rolls, soup and rice were served on our new brightly coloured (dollar store) dishes. As soon as I walked into the dollar store, I knew all that colourful stuff had to come home with me. 

Dessert was a last minute blast in the Vitamix, a sorbet made with coconut milk, frozen berries and maple syrup. Plus some homemade chocolate almond bark.

  

Today we carpooled with some friends an hour south to join a vegan cooking class at someone’s home. There were probably about 25 people there, all armed with kitchen knives and aprons, and we chopped, diced, sautéed and stirred up a veritable feast.

  

Kale salad, sweet and sour taro, tofu Turkey with mushroom gravy, crispy fried mushrooms, quinoa salad, stir fried noodles and vegetables, and a raw lime pie and almond cookies for dessert. 

And people ask me how I can survive on a vegan diet! It’s more like, how can I lose weight on my vegan diet? I think I’ve put on a couple of pounds in the last two days alone! 

As I wasn’t driving today, I took the Unforgettable scarf and knitted in the car both ways. Surprisingly it grew about 7″, but whilst it is a pretty yarn I am definitely going to turn it into a cowl. The bonus of this is the shorter knitting time and the fact that I can now mark my progress on the Ravelry project page as 50% done. 

  

I thought I was done buying yarn for now,  but I’ve been receiving newsletters from places like Willow, Deramores, Red Heart and Lion Brand. And I had an idea in the back of my mind that if the right deal came up, I would probably add some yarn to my small collection. I still have Christmas money from my mum, which is my personal fund to spend as I wish, no questions asked! 

And whaddya know, Deramores have a sale on all their Aran weight (worsted) yarn. I’ve heard so many good reviews from bloggers and people on Ravelry of the British Stylecraft yarn that I have invested a large chunk of cash into their Stylecraft Special Aran. It’s 100% acrylic and comes in 30 colours and would be perfect for some more afghan making, or whatever. 

What I like about Deramores is that their shipping rate is a flat $7.95, unless you spend over $75 in which case it’s free. Guess which option I chose <ahem> #enormousboxofyarn

Well, I have only enough energy left after all that good eating to move my fingers over the iPad’s keypad and hit “Publish.” Happy Sunday!

Adult granny slippers

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I used up almost all of my Willow Wash Little Flower yarn with these slippers, being left with only a yard or so at the end. The edging is, I think, Cooked Quince, of which I have only about 5 grams left.

These fit me just right. The toe section is 10 rows and the sides are 13 rows. I used a 4.5mm hook so the stitches are nice and firm.

We had a big family dinner tonight, now that Tai Chi Man is home. Squash soup, nut pate en croute, roast potatoes, vegan Yorkshire puddings, green beans and gravy, followed by ice cream. I did make a lemon coconut pie but no one could fit any In!

And now it’s off to bed to rest and digest before work tomorrow.

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The days are flying by…

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And while I am not doing anything in particular for Christmas (so I don’t have that excuse) the days have been full and crochet is proceeding very slowly.

The vest is still only partially sewn up and has been languishing in the basket next to the sofa (even though I really want to wear it).

I have this much done on the first cushion cover for the dining room.

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It’s nowhere near big enough yet.

I will share a couple of links with you. I’m hoping to get them to copy paste nicely. The first is bobwilson123’s You Tube tutorial for a basic granny square. I think she does a chain between each group of three and two chains in the corners, whereas I usually do one chain in the corners and none on the straight edges. But it depends on your tension and whatever works to keep the squares flat.

The second is an interesting find via Ravelry. I favourited the post so I could find it again. It’s a clever way to work in your beginning tail when starting a new colour. It’s Bethintx1’s video here.

Sad news today. My mother-in-law passed away (or, as I call it, “passed over to the bright side”) today. It was not unexpected. Tai Chi Man already had his flights booked for a trip back, anticipating the event, so we will be apart over Christmas. That’s okay, we will make up for it when he gets back.

I’ve been baking up a storm today so that I have cookies for the library knitting drop in group this afternoon.
Marzipan chocolate chip cookies, which spread into one big cookie, so I had to cut them apart!

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Gluten-free thumbprint cookies, though I didn’t use the buckwheat flour suggested. I used the Namaste Perfect Flour Blend to replace all the flour in the recipe.

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I used less sugar in both recipes and added some chia seeds to the marzipan cookies. Taste test later.

I hope you are enjoying this time, however you choose to celebrate it. Remember to relax and enjoy the light and the love and don’t sweat the small stuff!

Flower block #4 ‘n stuff

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It’s nighttime and the colours are a little off, but this is flower block #4 for my Groovy-scrap-ghan. The centre is lurid pink (it’s actually called Lurid), flower is purple, outer colour is the Aruba blue which I used for the knitted sweater.

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I really must hit the sack, but I will say that I had an interesting evening. I went to a sound healing session at a local winery. It involved focusing on our chakras, breathing and toning, then lying down and listening to sounds made by didgeridoo, rattle, drum, Himalayan singing bowls and voice.

It was pretty chilly by the end, though, and I had the heat blasting in the car on the way home.

Earlier today, Tai Chi Man was out in the backyard digging up turf and planting fall bulbs to make things pretty in the spring. While he was doing that, I was making carrot and coconut soup, cake, chocolate filling, raspberry frosting, and cashew nut roast. These days I often Google recipes for new ideas and this time I searched a cashew nut recipe. I had the idea to make a loaf-type thing, but ended up finding a recipe for cashews and vegetables surrounded in puff pastry, so I made a sort of rough puff pastry (which I learned to make many moons ago at school) and assembled it ready for tomorrow’s dinner.

It’s nice to have a large part of the preparation done the day before.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a pleasantly non-rainy afternoon tomorrow so we can keep to our plan to walk with friends.

Thanksgiving weekend

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Are you doing anything special for Thanksgiving? That’s assuming you’re in Canada, of course, as the U.S. one isn’t until November, and the Brits don’t do Thanksgiving at all!

Tai Chi Man gets the Monday off work of course, and I usually do a bigger fussier dinner than usual. The plan is carrot soup (we have carrots in the garden), cashew nut roast with gravy, yam and potato wedges, roasted Brussels sprouts and salad, and a raspberry-topped chocolate-filled cake for dessert.

I haven’t forgotten about the blog giveaway draw, I just haven’t got around to it yet, so if you haven’t left a comment on my post of a few days back, the one with a photo of the booty, then go do it quick!

Last night I started the stripe strip on the Groovy-scrap-ghan and used all colours, the brown twice!

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Tonight I made a flower block with green, red and blue, while watching a movie. I was at the point where I was crocheting the first blue round and realized I was doing double crochet instead of treble. My brain is mostly used to U.S. terms now, but for some reason I ignored the fact that the pattern said “tr” and did doubles instead. Before continuing on, I had a realization that I was doing it wrong, and corrected it, but when I compared the new block to the first two I can see that the second one I made (the yellow, turquoise and pink) has doubles in the first round after the flower.

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I did consider redoing the pink, but I really don’t think it’s going to matter if I leave it. The size of the square is fine and if anything I think it looks better than the other two!

Well, it’s time for bed so I’ll say goodnight and have a great weekend.