Christmas Yarn Giveaway Winner!

Thank you so very much everyone who entered the giveaway and was willing to give this lovely Plucky a new home.   I enjoy reading everyone's comments so much and it's fun to hear what everyone is up to.

By random number generator the winner is:  Barefoot Rooster!  I hope you enjoy the Plucky yarn.  If you email me your postal address to rycole at hotmail dot com I'll get it out into the mail and on it's way to you.

My Best to everyone!  Renee


Christmas Yarn Giveaway

Do you need a little help with your yarn stash?  Would you be interested in rehoming some gorgeous Plucky goodness?

This is 400 yards of Sock weight yarn in the colourway "Prickly Pear".  80/10/10 Merino, Cashmere and Nylon.  Oh - so - soft!  The colours are beautiful.  I see a little more of the greens when I look at it then it photographed.

Leave a comment and let me know how you are or what you're up to.  I'll leave the Giveaway open until December 16 at 4pm.  Be well everyone and have a Merry December!


It's starting to look festive around here...

Similar to last year ~ but different.  I love the "Chocolate Therapy" paint on the fireplace wall with all the other walls painted white.  Martina is still my favourite listen for the holidays.

Now that I'm looking back at last years photos I much prefer the new colours to the ginger walls we had before.

Next on my agenda is baking and knitting.  And more baking.  It's really starting to look and smell festive around here and the snow fall is adding to the atmosphere.  Wishing everyone a lovely first weekend of December!  Best,  Renee


Test, test - 1, 2

I've been meaning to blog most every day for the last 2 weeks.  How it got to be the last weekend of November I have no idea?  To say we've been busy here would be a huge understatement.  Kids, dogs, horses and work have taken up most of my time ~ the rest has been devoted to knitting.  Test knitting.  Oh my, but I do love test knitting.  One project is a coat for Nicole called Adeline from Lucy Sweetland.  The yarn is a sturdy gray/brown wool.  One skein was lighter than the rest, even though they're the same dye lot.  I opted to make it a stripe in the stocking stitch around the bottom of the coat.  If we don't love it at the end of the knitting we'll dye it all darker when it's blocked.  I want one for myself so I've pretty much resigned myself that when I'm done knitting it ~ I'll only be 1/2 way done.  Nicole can hardly wait to wear it.  It's her Christmas knit this year, but in no way a surprise.  She loved the pattern as much as I did and chose the yarn from stash. 

I apologize for the way behind in blogging and photos, I took these quite a while ago and need to take newer photos of the test knits.  Soon, I hope.  I'm further along on both knits, but behind on taking pictures.

The second test knit is so pretty!  It's White Russian from Thea Colman.  I'm knitting it in one of my all time favourite yarns:  Jaeger Roma.  The turtle neck is standing up beautifully (my favourite type of collar).  I could cry about this yarn being discontinued.  Jaeger closing is a shame.  I have a bunch of Roma in stash and am practically hoarding this yarn.  This knit is for me, so far.  The simple lace pattern is going to really be gorgeous after blocking.

Lots going on this weekend so I'm not sure how much knitting time I'll have, but if I'm holding still, it's these 2 projects that I'll be working on and a little Christmas decorating.  Hope all my American friends had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Have a great rest of weekend everyone!   Best, Renee


FO: Caera Cowl by Lucy Sweetland

This pattern was a pleasure to knit from start to finish. The cables are lovely and the pattern easy to follow. This is a gift knit, I like it so much I'll knit one for myself. I still need to block this cowl, then it's off in the mail.

Pattern: Caera Cowl by Lucy Sweetland, Published in A Black Pepper, free
Yarn: Naturally Hand Knit "Sensation", Shade 301 ~ about 1-1/2 skeins

I highly recommend a visit to Lucy's blog, it's wonderful and so inspiring. Beautifully photographed and one of my favourite places to visit. Thank you for the pattern, Lucy!

I've been knitting like crazy here: working on Christmas knits, finishing some WIPs and stitching away at test knitting. In the midst of all of that I finally got my new glasses. It's huge adjustment for me since there was a radical shift in my prescription which is rarely stable. They're my first pair of Progressives. That's been odd for me to adjust to. While my doctor said most people don't need bifocals at my age there was no other option. I picked them up 2 days ago and really am getting the hang of them. They've made knitting and pattern reading a lot easier. Everything is so much clearer that I'm sort of wondering how I was functioning in a blur...

I'll post more to the blog again soon, lots going on and super busy. Have a great weekend everyone!


been outside playing

The last few weekends I've been outside a lot playing with the dogs and friends. Tracking, actually ~ one of my very favourite past times. These 2 dogs are Tracking Champions, only 11 to date in all of Canada. They are Questa ~ German Shepherd and my boy Chase ~ Standard Poodle.

Yesterday we also were playing with three of these absolutely adorable 9 week old puppies. How cute is that face? They're field trial bred labs for working homes from Pat and Chris's B-Line labs.

Star and Pat are prepping for their next tracking test so we'll be out plenty tracking. With having been down sick for so long I really missed getting out to track. So did Chase.

This time of year the colours are amazing, but it's going away fast. The trees have started to drop their leaves pronto and will be bare soon. I have to keep reminding myself that a week from today it will be November. Yikes.

Last night I was swatching. The colour of this Valley Yarns Williamstown is glorious. Usually I dig out autumnal colours in October, traditionally I knit with reds... but when I went stash diving last night this is the yarn that I kept picking up and petting. Not sure what it'll be yet, I'm having trouble settling on my next project. I want to start lots of them... "Cold Sheeping" has given me a serious case of startitis. This one is washed, dry and ready to see it if hits gauge on my 5.5 needles. I like the fabric is produced on 5.5 the best. The colour isn't at all like it photographed, it's a lot more vibrant and apple green.

Hope everyone is happy, well and enjoying their weekend!


Mondo Cable Cap for Nicole

This is a must knit for anyone who likes hats and cables. Bonne Marie's patterns are wonderful and her newest releases with Mondo Cables are hitting it out of the park for fall. I knit this from the mini mystery KAL.

Nicole didn't know what it would look like finished, but I was barely into the second clue when she claimed this knit for herself. Clue 3 finished it up quickly. This yarn would benefit from wet blocking, but she's not parting with it just yet. It wasn't off the needles for a minute when it was on her head. It's still there. She wants to wear it to school tomorrow so blocking is going to have to wait a bit. Holding the Terra double with the Kid Silk Haze gives this hat a level of luxury I wasn't able to photograph, but the KSH takes it up a few notches.

Pattern: Mondo Cable Cap by Chic Knits
Yarn: Terra - Light Indigo (60% merino/20% baby alpaca/20% silk)
Kid Silk Haze - light smokey blue
Yardage: 190 yards

This hat's gotten my 15 year old style maven's seal of approval. I'll knit her another one in dark purple for her to match her school colours and definitely one for myself. It was a fast, fun and easy project.


Oktoberfest: Schnitzel 101 (and the Giveaway winner!)

Who won, who won??? I'll let you know at the bottom of this post.

Our city population has begun to swell beyond capacity. Kitchener hosts the second largest Oktoberfest in the world running this year from October 9 - 17th. It starts the Friday of our Thanksgiving weekend. Opening day is time to make Schnitzel. It's easy to make, really easy.

Cast of Characters, also known as the Ingredients:

Wiener Schnitzel, flour, eggs, bread crumbs, season salt, salt, pepper and Canola oil. That's it, don't need anything fancy, although a slice of lemon is usually served with each piece and a nice touch to squeeze it fresh on the meat. I'm not keen on the lemon myself, but most everyone else is. Just imagine that the flour is in this picture too, the canister is sitting on the counter just outside of this picture. Had a blond moment ~ what can I say?

Our butcher has a machine that tenderizes the pork. If yours doesn't a good smacking with a tenderizing mallet will do the job or even the flat side of a cleaver and then poke them up with a fork or meat prongs. My dad jokes you can drive over them with a steamroller in the parking lot yet too. Once they're tenderized and we put some weight into them they'll flatten out plenty.

Traditional Wiener Schnitzel is prepared in restaurants in a deep fryer that's shallower than most and has rolled pipes a few inch down in the oil to let the bread crumbs that separate float down into the basin of the fryer, keeping the oil cleaner where the meat is cooking. It used to only be fried in beef fat, but now Canola oil is the accepted healthier substitute. At home a fry pan with just enough oil to cook in and then turning them over works well too, that's how I do it. If I'm making a lot and the oil is starting to darken I'll start with a fresh pan and new oil. Use medium high heat. You want the oil good and hot so it isn't soaked up too much during cooking, but not so hot that it's smoking. I get a good rolling bubble going on in the pan.

Pay attention from here in out ~ because the real way to your loved one's heart is with Schnitzel. Men will be putty in your hands. I wouldn't kid about something like that. The trick to great Schnitzel is a double dip into the flour and eggs and super fine bread crumbs. Double dipping is allowed here. It's a must. This is a traditional flour, egg and bread crumb crust... just a little particular about how it's applied. Get ready to get your hands messy. I keep a big bowl of warm water in my sink and a plastic scrubby to give my hands a quick clean off between each piece. I use a bowl so that I can dump it outside instead of putting that down the drain to avoid any clogging issues. These fried babies will do enough harm to your arteries, don't need to call a plumber too. We don't eat fried food often, but seriously - it's Schnitzel and Oktoberfest ~ some times we need to live a little.

Use plain white bread crumbs available from the grocery store or baker. Now this is a biggy point: if they're a bit coarse, give them a few good rounds in the food processor to make them as fine as flour. There is a big difference in the texture of the crumbs and the texture of the finished Schnitzel breading. The crumbs on the left are straight out of the container and the crumbs on the right have been processed. You can see how the colour has changed too after the darker crust bits got pulverized in the food processor.

Let me apologize right now if you're on dial up... there's plenty of pics coming up next.
Set yourself up a little assembly line: flour, eggs, bread crumbs and your preheated frying pan, as well as a plate or pan on the other side with racks and paper towel to drain the schnitzel on when it's just out of the pan. Ok, here we go.

Start by seasoning the meat. I do this on both sides, unless I'm in a big hurry. To taste use Season Salt, fresh ground pepper and salt. I like to use Kosher or freshly ground sea salt. Tasty.

Press the meat into the flour. Bury it and give it a really good press. Both sides. Then give it a little jiggly-shake to drop off the loose excess flour.

Dip it into the beaten eggs.

Back into the flour. Don't skip this part. They need the double dose of flour and egg bath. Don't be shy, press it in well again on both sides, then shake off the loose flour.

Back into the beaten eggs for dip #2.

Now the fine bread crumbs. Press and cover it well. Turn it over and press it in again. Shake and jiggle off any loose bread crumbs. At this point you can either keep assembly lining the schnitzel and stack them up to cook, or keep it rolling and cook as you go. I start cooking right away. My family is starving the instant they smell the first one start to sizzle.

Into the hot oil.

Turn them over when they're a nice golden brown underneath.

As they're done you can put them on your waiting rack. I put a jelly roll sheet under the wire racks and paper towel on top. See those bubbles? The oil is nice and hot, but not smoking.

I did 3 layers of these. See how they're a little darker on the edges... that's what happens when your camera battery dies and you start rushing around looking for a new battery as the schnitzel keeps cooking. No worries, they're fine. They smell good. Mmm...

Ryan likes his plain on a bun. He's got 2 on there. See that smile, he learned that from his daddy. His mouth is full right now and he's making Mmm, mmm sounds.

Wiener Schnitzel 101. Enjoy!!

* * *

Thank you so very much everyone for the kind get well wishes. I love hearing from you all. I admit it, I adore comments. Love them. I'm happy to report that we're all feeling better. Thank you also for entering my First Blogaversary giveaway. I really enjoy having Giveaways and will do lots more.

By drawing from my favourite mixing bowl the winner of the books is: Celtic Cast On. Congratulations! If you could email me your address to rycole at hotmail dot com I'll mail them off as soon as the Post Office opens again on Tuesday morning. I enjoyed this Giveaway so much that I pulled a second name as well!! Second prize goes to Dandy. If you can send me your address at the email I just mentioned I'll ship a copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules your way.

Have a terrific weekend everyone! Enjoy Oktoberfest and to all my fellow Canadians Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Columbus day to our American neighbours as well. :)



1st Blogaversary! ~ Giveaway

One year. Wow, I can't hardly believe it. I'm surprised how much blogging has become a part of my day, my leisure and my social life. I get so much pleasure from it ~ especially reading all the comments ~ that I want to give back, 'tis better to give than to receive.

I'm sharing one of my passions: Books. Love them. Love. Seriously. I read quite a bit online, but there's nothing nicer than the tactile pleasure of a book in hand while reading. This giveaway it's an assortment of subjects that interest me: knitting, quilting and cooking/entertaining.

The Knitter's Book of Yarn, The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn by Clara Parkes is a must have on any knitter's shelf. From fiber foundations, making yarn, types of plyes, care of your yarn to patterns this book has it all.

Celebrate! by Sheila Lukins with Peter Kaminsky is a wonderful cookbook with 43 Celebrations/350 Recipes. Can't go wrong with this one.

Tips for Quilters by Rachel T. Pellman is 'a handbook filled with hints, shortcuts, practical suggestions from Experienced Quilters'. Lots of useful ideas in this little red book.

If you'd like these or could use some books to enhance your gift giving for someone special leave a comment to be included in the draw. Enteries will be open until Friday, October 9th at 4pm EST ~ when I start my weekend.

Thank you everyone for the get well wishes for us here with the flu.
Love 'ya all,


under the weather ramblings

We've been sick. All of us. Dragging on since Monday. Starting fall with the flu hasn't been fun. My mom made us homemade Chicken Rice soup to help us feel better. Mmmm. If this doesn't cure what ails us, nothing will.

The weather has been gearing up for Oktoberfest. Translation? Bitter cold and raining. Last night there was another heavy frost. It's not nice to be outside, but the maple trees are turning gorgeous colours and the sedum has changed to it's autumn colour. Pretty, isn't it?

Tomorrow we're invited to a wedding, the bride and groom are a warm and happy couple so I'm sure no one will pay much attention to the lousy weather. Isn't it supposed to be good luck if it rains on your wedding day? Think I heard that somewhere. Tomorrow is also my first blog anniversary. Where did a year go so fast? To celebrate I'm going to have another Giveaway. Check back tomorrow to see what it's for...

Have a great day! Hope everyone is healthy.


FO: 100% scraps throw quilt

The quilts I've sewn over the past few years have had lots of tiny triangles, points and little pieces. I'd finish them and then I'd give the quilts away, then start something else with lots of little points and pieces. This scrappy throw is a huge departure from that. It's scraps cut into big, plain 4-1/2" squares that I collected in a plastic shoe box. Sometimes I'd sew a 4-patch block and toss it into the box too. There was never a plan on exactly when it would get done. My normal project MO is to plot and plan and wrangle a quilt project to death with a feeling of urgency to reach the finished object deadline that loomed over my head from the get go. This throw happened on it's own peaceful time.

This is the most fun I've had sewing in years. I'm not a 'completely random sewer' so I played around with the layout to keep the same fabric pieces from ending up side by side and I spread out the white pieces.
There's an excellent tutorial (and many others) on binding quilts at Amanda Jean's incredible blog Crazy Mom Quilts for the same method I use to bind my quilts. Amanda Jean is always inspiring and TALENTED!

The finished throw is 40 x 60 inches: 150 squares cut to 4-1/2". I squeaked it onto the beige & red backing fabric with only a centimeter to spare on the width and maybe 3 inches on each end for length. I didn't want to piece more fabric into the back since my goal was to be as simple as I could make it. It's quilted in the ditch, not beside the seams a touch like normal in the ditch machine work, but literally in the seam.

We love this throw. It'll be well used, washed and worn. My husband doesn't want me to gift or sell this one. I've never felt as rewarded as I did to hear him say this one's a keeper. He's never said that about any quilt before. It's changed the sort of quilts I'm going to sew in the coming year(s). The reaction to this quilt when people see it tossed over the backyard deck rail or folded in the truck has been surprisingly positive. It's about colour and comfort, not skill or style. I'm going to enjoy the pleasure of simplicity in my quilts more now. More rustic and homey. More 'use-me' than 'be careful' with me quilts. I have 2 new shoe boxes on the go ~ one is a collection of 3" squares and the other is 4-1/2" again. I'll sew plenty more quilts like this one in the future.


Tasty Kitchen

Tasty Kitchen is a brilliant site created by Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman. Tasty Recipes from Real Kitchens. You can keep a recipe box of your own and/or other people's favourites in your profile. Recipes can be searches by category, ingredient or by name. There's also a chat wire, user feedback, a rating system, plus member profiles and links to their blogs. And it's free. There's photos of lots of delicious food. Think Ravelry for recipes. It's brilliant and wonderful. It's inspiring. Go check it out, you won't be sorry ~ you'll thank me ~ so will the people you cook for.

I've been spending a lot of time there. The recipes are printable. Categories and tags help you search for any recipe you could possibly want like chicken, chocolate, glutton-free, desserts, main courses, soups, salads, sides, canning. The list goes on and on and the data base is being updated constantly.

Every so often I find I've fallen into a culinary rut. Tasty Kitchen is a great resource to get me out of that. It's fun, it's free and maybe just a bit addictive.

Autumn sees the gourmand wanna be in me take a firm hold, happens every year. I spend more time in the kitchen cooking and baking. Like most people we barbecue less and eat heartier foods during cold weather. I've been checking out slow cooker recipes on TK, love those. Coming home after a long day at work in the fall or winter to a house that smells wonderful feels like walking into a favourite restaurant where I don't need to be the one doing the cooking. I'll often set the table for supper before I go to work so it's ready for us to just sit and dine at the end of the day. Tasty Kitchen is expanding our eating pleasures one recipe at a time.

It's been comfort type knitting on the couch while checking out the new season of tv for me. I'm not a tv watcher most of the year, but I'm hopeful of something I'll enjoy at the beginning of the new season that will hook me. Rowan Felted Tweed as Celeste's beautiful Wandering the Moor shawl is on my needles right now. On Rav you can find it here. I can hardly wait to get to the lace border. This pattern is going to be my Christmas knit gift of choice this year. Ssh, don't tell.

Be good and scoot yourself over to Tasty Kitchen!


"The Farm"

As requested, here is a picture of The Farm. We love this farm and farmhouse. Originally built in 1855 it's historically significant in our area and even on a bus tour for the region. The road it's on is one of the oldest roads in Ontario. It stretches from The Grand River all the way to Lake Huron. It was a main stage coach route with a stage coach depot about a mile up the road.

The area was original known as New Aberdeen but as happened to many towns as politics and settling happened it became a ghost town for many years, mostly abandoned. Years later is was re-settled by a German population and came to be known as Berlin. In 1916 during the World War it was renamed as Kitchener. It's surrounded by black walnut trees and very old evergreens. The settlers at the time it was build looked for land with black walnut trees on it as it was an indication of fertile soil excellent for farming and grazing livestock. A local university student wrote his thesis on the century homes on our road several years ago and supplied us with a wealth of history about this house. The photo above is the side view of the house.

Original working shutters lasted over 150 years, today's technology has not. Replacement aluminum shutters have quickly torn from the windows after just a few storms. I still have the original shutters and we've got them stash and coveted away until we get our own farmhouse one day. My dad didn't want "those old things" on the house anymore. Shame, that. Anyway, we have them and I wouldn't part with those historic shutters for anything.

The stone walls are up to 28" thick. They're awe inspiring. The main house is 2 stories. There are multiple chimneys for fireplaces and stoves. Many have been closed up. We discovered access to a chimney where the original kitchen was during renovations. We discovered a lot of surprises during renovations that previous owners had closed up... The interior walls are horizontal strip board with the original horsehair plasterwork. Protected under the plush carpets my parents fancy in the main house on both floors are the original floor boards. The main support of the house in the basement, which has been excavated to full height, is a very old tree as the post with it's bark stripped off.

The glass window sliders and centre peak area in the photos is now a solarium where the original court yard was. The single story stone portion between the solarium and garage was the regions ice house. Various owners over the years added their own renovations to the home and at some point the two stone buildings were built together. There are additions off the back of the house as well. Directly behind the original ice house is now the summer kitchen which was the wood shed before it became the summer cooking kitchen. After refrigeration was available and the ice house was no longer an area necessity it became a common room that opens to the solarium. The solarium transformed from court yard to a screened porch and now the sun room it is with high vaulted ceilings. The stories about this house and it's previous owners are mostly unknown, but the ones that are really are charming.

Previous to my parents buying the farm it stood vacant for 3 years, not considering the racoons, mice and rats, and numberous birds and squirrels that managed to gain access to the house via the odd hole and unscreened chimneys. There was a huge bank barn across the island (middle round grass area in the driveway where the pit is for fires and we have a couple of picnic tables, blocked from view by my suv) that was bigger and longer than the farmhouse. It filled the grass area to back side of this picture and then some. It was one of the largest historic barns in southern Ontario. Over the years it had seen many uses from livestock, hay and a riding school to storage and then dismantled for it's materials. The people my parents bought the farm from sold the barn to the Mennonite Community the summer before my parents purchase it. The Mennonites came by horse and wagon and dismantled the barn taking all they could from the materials. The only remaining wood was the center roof beam. It was old and petrified like hardened steel. They had tried to cut it up and couldn't so they left it behind. We spend a long, long time drilling it as best we could and burning it. It was too long and heavy to move or deal with. Chain saws didn't touch it.

The land surrounding the farm itself has fallen way to city development. Hundreds of acres surrounding my parents farm when they first moved there was leased grazing land for cattle and corn fields. I had plenty of adventures helping out the local police when the cattle would escape and their owner couldn't be found. They'd head for the road or into neighbours hay fields. We had the only horses around for a ways and the authorities always knocked on our door when they were loose assuming that the cattle were ours and asking if I could saddle up and help bring back the AWOL cows. As long as it wasn't the bull I was happy to help.

I was a teenager at the time and my horse was born and bred at the Saddle and Surrey Ranch in Aubrey, Texas. He was bred with the cutting gene rooted down deep. I have more than a few tales where well meaning city officers believed they could move cattle with their car and siren. I warned them otherwise, more than one hit the siren when they thought they had the cow penned between a fence and the cruiser and could move it in the direction they wanted to. It was darned funny (for me - Not Them!) to see a cow go straight over the hood of their cruiser, leaving a crumpled hood behind in it's wake. Yeah well, I warned them not to hit the siren, but did they listen? One officer looked at me sheepish and said, "Uh, you were right, but I'm not writing that part in my report."... and then woefully looked back at the cow mashed cruiser hood.
Wonder, my quarter horse, loved to cut and chase calves and cows. He had to be turned out well separated from the steers and sheep dad raised for meat because he would've run them around the pasture for hours on end. He came with his name by the way, Certain Wonder. I'll have to tell you about him some time.
My best to you all,


the Giveaway winner and Chase

Thanks everyone who was willing to give this yarn a new home. Without haste, the winner by drawing from a hat is: Philigry! If you email me your address to rycole at hotmail dot com I'll send the yarn on it's way. I wish I could mail it to everyone. If it was possible, I would. I'll go stash diving again soon and see what else lurks there that the knitters amongst you would enjoy. There's plenty of new non-knitting stuff looking for a home where it gets more attention than it gets from me here too...

We have a three dogs. Hunter is the oldest. Piper is the middle child at 7 years old. She's showing signs of her age with silvering in her coat but she's spry, playful and full of herself. She's the Grand Dame of her domain. Chase is the current baby, he's 4. My crew calls him Momma's Boy. He really is. He's my bud, my boy, my almost constant companion. He's happy to keep tabs on me and pose for the camera.

He's always on the job.

He needs a bath.

And a shave. Under all that hair is a handsome mug. Somewhere.

Have a great rest of your weekend everyone!

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