Revamp

Ducky
It's been awhile... Yes, I know. Some days it was because I was busy. Other days, we were out of town. Sometimes, it was because I just didn't feel like it. Quite a while ago I thought it was because of the format here on LJ and started a new blog. I started two actually, but never actually did anything with them. Then yesterday, I went back to one of the new blogs I started and they had a pretty nifty import tool. You know where this is leading to now, yes?

I've moved. (Literally too. We bought a house!) So from now on, stories coming out of this crazy brain of mine will actually be over here: http://onesheepthrill.wordpress.com/. New format, new name, new lease on life. Time to change your bookmarks/links! See you over at the new place!

Mary

PS I'll still be on LJ every now and then. We still have our official Bitchy Bees knitting page on LJ, though most of our interactions are over on Ravelry.

Ready. Game On!

Wallace Eeeee!
My beloved Canucks are playing their first playoff game tonight. Usually this time of the year, I wear a jersey, maybe my hat or hoodies and sweatshirts, but for well over 20 years, this has not worked. This year is our magical year. 40 year anniversary and top in the NHL, first time EVER!

So for the first time ever, I'm breaking my own traditions. Why the heck not. Do what I normally do, because that's what the boys will be doing. So, here I am doing what I would normally be doing... Such as getting the finishing touches done on the kitchen!

Shiny!

Shiny and sparkly! Cleaned off the grout last night. It was still all hazy the other morning when I made oatmeal for breakfast.

Oats Two Ways

I like oatmeal for breakfast, but now I LOVE oatmeal for breakfast! After coming back from New Zealand, Jon was craving some granola that we had bought there. We tried all sorts of brands and every time Jon said it wasn't quite the same. Hubbards was the brand and you just can't get that here. In NZ, Jenny from the Bushy Point Fernbirds Homestay once told us that she doesn't know if NZ was ahead of the times or behind the times, but there they don't put preservatives in their food. Boxed cereals, chewy bars, cookies, you name it, no preservatives. So then it got me thinking, why haven't I tried to make my own granola!?!?!

So here I am, reading Vanilla Garlic's blog as usual and low and behold, a granola recipe!

Instead of coconut and dried cherries, we threw in pumpkin and sunflower seeds, plus dried apricot and raisins. And you can mix and match what you'd like in it as long as the oats and liquid measurements are the same. Oh and I didn't have a vanilla pod on hand, so a tsp of vanilla did the trick. The combination of maple syrup, brown sugar, orange and vanilla is smack dab perfect. So in the morning, I make my version of oatmeal.

Take a serving of cooked steel cut oats (I really like the texture of those, but in a pinch, regular quick rolled oats work quite well too), throw in a bit of brown sugar and milk. Stir and then throw in a handful of your own homemade granola! Stir and ta-da! The textures here are wonderful! A bit of bite in the oats, but the hardness of the granola and every now and then a sweet blip of dried fruit.

Heck, I'd even eat it as a snack during the hockey game!

You Don't Say! Photos!

Vacation
Almost 3 months to the day after we got back from New Zealand and I have FINALLY got my act together. Going through well over 600 photos on my camera alone (not even adding up Jon's photos), I've finally got 311 photos put together on an album of sorts.

I'd totally understand if you skipped the "show info" descriptions (on the top right hand corner) or quickly breezed by most of the photos. I'm warning you now, there's lots of sheep, knitting, and food photos along with the wonderful scenery. You're just lucky that I'm keeping my signed contract promise not to post any of my Hobbiton photos since they're filming the Hobbit now. Trust me, there were waaaaay too many Hobbiton photos anyway.

So without further ado, photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/organized-sound/sets/72157625882772008/show/

Enjoy! Baa!

Clifton Wool n Things

Let There Be Light!

Housewife
The sun has finally come back... But we all know it won't last that long. Showers are in the forecast for the weekend. However, the last few days, I've strolled slowly to and from work and taken time out during the day to run errands, just to be outside. Although, still cold, the sun makes you smile. It's finally feeling more like spring. Though I was really eager to start my garden this year, I'm glad I did. I had my very first evidence of a pea this morning!

Sugar Ann Pea

See that!? There was a flower last weekend and over the last few days, the flower was drying up. I knew there would be a snap pea there eventually, but I didn't realize it would be that quickly. It still looked like a dried flower last night and then oh SNAP! Pea, this morning! I didn't even get a chance to take it outside since it's been frosty here and there in the mornings.

It is spring. The sun is out and there's forecast for more rain all of next week. :)

Yes and No.

Presents
I must admit that I've lost the love for Livejournal. It's been this way for a couple of years now. I opened up a Wordpress account a few years ago and put in a few months of archives, but then lost that love too. Earlier this year, I activated my blogger account and I think I'll probably end up there soon. So, soon, you too will not have to deal with the bad Livejournal experience. (Uh, hello pop up ads for those who aren't members!?!?! Hate that.)

Catching up...

'Twas my birthday last week. Kept it low key as usual. Every year I think I'll do something different, but in the end, I didn't want anything out of the ordinary. So we went on our usual Saturday... Though I did get a pancake breakfast that morning instead of the usual Sunday.

Pancake Breakfast

We took off to run some errands, popped into the first 1/2 day at the Moss St Market, and did a little bit of shopping downtown for some tea and chocolate at Plenty (which I'm sad to say is closing). Took my Sister out again for another driving lesson in the afternoon and made it back home to make dough and filling for some Chinese boiled dumplings for dinner.

Birthday Dinner

The next day was the fun though. We drove up to Glenora, just outside of Duncan, to visit an alpaca farm. Stayed for about 2 hours and just talked and talked about alpacas, yarn, fibre processing, spinning, knitted products, fibre shows, markets and even having (or not having) children. For someone we had never met, it was easy to chatting with Jenn from Pacific Sun Alpacas.

Pacific Sun Alpacas
We couldn't go on my birthday as she was really busy with shearing day. So Sunday it was. We'll have to go back in the summer time and take in a winery down the road too.

And since it was Sunday, most places in Duncan were closed. We drove around and checked out the old neighbourhood and stopped into Craig St Brewery for lunch.

Craig St Brewery

I can't eat cheese, cold/raw things or anything too spicy, so I was glad that the beef dip was really good. Sometimes the meat can be a bit dry, but Craig St uses prime rib and it was darn tasty.

Speaking of which, my new food reality is no cheese. Not lactose intolerant. Not no dairy. No. Cheese. I knew before my stomach wasn't very good at processing certain things, but I never thought cheese. No more pizza. No more lasagne. I don't see the point of soy cheese or cheese substitutes. So I'm just not going to eat it. It makes sense though. If you take a look at hereditary lines, Chinese people don't have cheese on their menu. China doesn't produce cheese. My bloodline explains that I can't digest cheese. Gotcha. Plus, it's all in moderation. A fine balance. A weeeee bit of cheese once is fine. Say sprinkled on pasta one meal during the week. Stomach can handle that. But cheese scone for breakfast, chicken and cheese calzone for lunch and a cheesy veggie casserole for dinner all in one day? Not so good.

*whoosh* Had to go. Now I'm back...

Anyway, I've lost my train of thought now. So I'll just leave it at that. I'm off to dream about non-cheesy dinner ideas. Which really isn't so bad. Tonight we're having soy braised chicken (tantalizing chicken thighs slow cooked in a sweet soy/star anise sauce) with Chinese greens and rice. (Can't live without my rice! History tells me that I can DEFINITELY have rice. Phew!)

Green Spring

SMRT
We've had crocuses popping up in our yard even before our freak February snow storm. They're all going strong now with lots of green leaves popping up. It won't be long before spring colour fully engulfs this garden city.

This year, I'm going to be a little more ambitious with the container garden. Yes to tomatoes as usual, but I plan to add bush beans and have already started peas!

Spring

Jon's even got his sunflowers sprouting too. Quite excited to see what the growing season is going to bring this year.

And what's the start of spring without the end of a different season - curling. Now, I've never curled before, but yesterday our work got a few people together and rented a couple sheets of ice for our first try.

1st Time Curler!

My team and the opposing team. Everyone else was already finished by the time we were done. Look at us looking all professional!

1st Time Curler!

We had the ice for 2 and a 1/2 hours, which seemed like a lot in the beginning, but wasn't enough by the end of it. We got lessons and got to play 2 short ends with only 6 rocks for each team. I was flying down the ice with my duct taped shoe (to slide with relative ease) and sweeping like nobody's business. I was a pro sweeper. Not too shabby at throwing (though it was more luck I think). I got most of the rules and stuff, but still wasn't confident enough to yell and scream. HURRY! HARD! YUP! YUP! YUUUUUP!!!

Of course, we weren't that confident when we first started out.

1st Time Curler!

That was me losing my balance when we tried to throw rocks for the first time. Hilariously fun indeed. :)

Oh How Time Flies...

Yarn
Here there and everywhere. I always say that I like to "multi-task". But that's more of a nice way of saying I get so easily distracted, that I'm working on a bazillion things at once. I start a bit of knitting here. Watch a load of episodes of the Wire there. (We're on the season with the school system and elections. So. Addictive.) And sporadically spin fibre and do other daily things everywhere else.

Spin fibre. Yes. The magic has begun. After a few weeks of "spin 10 minutes each day" (something I picked up somewhere along the way of this spinning learning journey) and pulling and wrestling with fibre and my spinning wheel. I was able to FINALLY coordinate my hands, feet, eyes and fibre all at once to make actual singles of yarn. Real yarn I made myself. Proud, proud, proud.

Spinning!!!!!

Seriously. Total geeking out happened. I'm pretty sure I yelled out "I think I got it!" mere minutes after I was telling Jon that I don't understand how I can coordinate everything and get a good rhythm going. But just like that. Magic. But now that I have this great understanding of what the heck I'm doing, I'm almost out of my leftover green fibre that I had hanging around. I think, next, I'm going to tackle some of Jon's Mom's fibre that she gave me too. Some real honest to goodness sheep still with lanolin intact. Oh and I guess I have to learn to ply too.

For the past year, knitting was coming slowly because of my wrist. But now that it's had over a year to heal, I'm churning out knits like there's no tomorrow.

Sweet Possom Beret

A hat with some NZ possum/merino yarn.

Pagona Shawl

A shawl that I started on in the Victoria airport on my way to NZ. Finished pretty quickly, just took my sweet little time to block it.

Romeo's Sweater

A handsome doggy sweater for a friend. Which came in handy when it was snowy and poor doggy had to go for a shave a few days after the sweater was delivered. Fits better now too, what with all that hair gone.

Shalom

Yes, it does get wintery here, so a chunky cardi to keep the chill off.

Fetching

Oh yeah... These too. I got the yarn from my knitting group's gift exchange and pretty much cast on right away. Finished in no time too, but I never liked the picot edge bind off and they kept staring at me for weeks on end. Finally, I knew I was never going to like them or wear them if they had the picot edge, so I took that off, re-did the bind off and tah-dah! Warm, soft, woolley silken mitts.

So that has been my life in a nutshell. You know, minus work and eating and sleeping and such. Yes, that's right. That means I still haven't finished organizing my pictures. Perhaps a nice way of saying that I'm prolonging the process for me to take time and enjoy all the photos I have, so I can reminisce. :)

Where I Wake Up Laughing

Snow
Last night at knitting, I kept saying things like, "Oh no. The snow won't stick". Or "Pffft. Snow? Here? Nah."

Then I wake up and walk to work in this:

Snowy Cherry Blossoms

There was no snowfall WARNING in effect until in the middle of the night. What happened to 40% chance of FLURRIES?! Bah-ha-ha-ha! Snow in Victoria! Our cherry blossomed trees are probably really confused.

On the other hand, let's distract you from today's snow, to show you this:

Spinning Wheel!

That is the 1964 model of the Ashford Traditional Wheel, that Jon's parents bought in Ashburton, NZ back in the early 70's. (Jon says probably 1971.) His Mom gave it to me when we went over for Chinese New Year last month. It was sitting in her crawl space for years. After talking about wool and yarn and New Zealand, she repeated again that she was more than happy to give me her old spinning wheel. So I finally accepted.

The next weekend, I took it up to Dianne Cross in Sidney to get it looked at and see if I was missing anything besides some springs and the hook. She expertly fixed it up with an elastic band (a hair tie really) and a twist tie instead. Now how's that for MacGuyver'ing it! I see now why the Ashford Traditional is still so widely popular today.

When Jon's parents first put it together, they put on a walnut finish that they messed up on. So they tried to take it off, but that didn't work and so they left it that way. Years and years later, now that I have it in my hands, I polished her up with some tung oil, bought some steel wool to get rid of the rust and threw on some spinning oil to it's metal parts. About an hour of work outside in the cold, but well worth it. It's now sitting in my living room and every time I walk by it, I give the wheel a little spin. I'll have to oil it up a bit more and start playing with it this week. Work on just getting the motion of the wheel and fine tune it to it's optimal performance. Weeeeeeee!
Wallace Oops
So I'm only half way with going through and uploading my NZ photos. In fact, I haven't made a dent since my last post. Terrible. I know. But Jon is away for the evening on Saturday, so I have grand plans of uploading photos, doing some painting, and restoring that old spinning wheel. (So I can finally show you guys and actually give the girl a spin with some yarn!) We'll see how I do.

Jon and I never do anything for Valentine's Day, but this year, we did do something. He proclaimed on his Facebook page that he got me a present. A Valentine's Day mop.

Valentine's Mop

Alas, I'll break it to you that it was not a serious present. We thought it would be funny if someone got an Al Bundy type gift, like a mop. We took our mop from the closet and I tried my hardest not to laugh when the photos were taken. Although funny, I'd like to point out that the photo shows our new kitchen cabinetry. (See? I did say I was going to show a photo, didn't I?) We've picked out some glass tiles for the back-splash, but have yet to purchase them or figure out how to tile ourselves. (Me watching various DIY TV shows don't exactly count.)

Oh and I did knit socks while on the road in NZ.

On the Road NZ Socks

And Jon got to dig through his parent's stash of sheepskin cutoffs to pile onto his head.

Man in Sheep's Clothing

I'll just leave you with that one. ;)
Vacation
The funny thing about going on vacation is that you need a vacation after that. You get back, you re-adjust (needing to wake up when it's been pitch black out has been the hardest thing to get back to), catch up on work and poof! Weeks have gone by, Chinese New Year has come and gone and I've got some finished knits to show you! Where has the time gone?!

Of course before the knitting photos can happen, I'm still in the midst of organizing my well over 800 photos (and that's just from my one camera, there's still the matter of my cell phone camera and Jon's too) and picking and choosing my favourites to upload. I'm a little more than half way through right now, but it's not a priority at the moment. My short attention span has got me sorting photos, fixing and painting trim in the kitchen, finishing gift knitting, polishing up a spinning wheel (YES! A spinning wheel!!! However, not from New Zealand, but that's a story for another day.), getting ready for Chinese New Year, eating my way through Chinese New Year, having my Brother come to visit this week, and being really addicted to watching the Wire (Jon's watched all 5 seasons and now it's my turn). Oh and then there's work too. :) But back to New Zealand...

New Zealand was everything we thought it would be. I got my fill of sheep, yarn, and scenery. I even got a photo of what I had pictured in my mind before we got there. We were leaving National Park (the day after our 19.4km one way hike through 3 active volcano valleys) on our way to Lake Taupo/Wellington... The sun was out and Mt Ruapehu was in the distance. Jon stopped the car and I got my "picture perfect New Zealand" shot.

Mt Ruapehu

Sunny skies, mountain, rolling green hills dotted with sheep.

Once I get all the photos up (don't hold your breath, it'll probably be another week or two), I'll let you know. For now, let's just say, we ate, hiked and photographed our way through most of New Zealand and wish we could be back soon. So much to see (The birds! The penguins! The volcanos! The trees!) and though 3 weeks was lots, it certainly wasn't enough. Baa!

Hobbiton Sheep

I am glad to be home though... and not living out of one suitcase anymore.

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