Posted by: Kate | August 25, 2015

Jam!

This year has been so out of time when it comes to ripening fruit. Unfortunately I missed most of the blackberries while we were away, and I also missed the blueberries, as they were about a month early and finished the week-end we returned home at the local U-picks. This week however peaches were on sale, and I had managed to freeze a small bag of blackberries and had the raspberries I picked at the beginning of the summer at a local U-pick. So this past week-end was jam time!

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The short jars (we call them salmon jars around here as they are most commonly used for canned salmon, but I realize elsewhere may not call them that) have raspberry peach jam in them. Heavy on the raspberry.

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The skinny jars are blackberry peach, or more honestly peach blackberry. You can taste the blackberries but the jam is peach sweet for sure.

I was happy to get the jam made, as I really don’t like having to buy jam!

How about you, any jamming in your kitchen this year?

Posted by: Kate | August 18, 2015

Book Review: Delicious

I freely admit that I love a book written by a top-notch journalist. Ruth Reichl has a long history of food writing and has also written a number of non-fiction books to great critical acclaim. Delicious is her first foray into the world of fiction, and I welcome her voice.

Part mystery, part coming of age, part food celebration, Delicious brings the story of one young woman in New York to life. The reader is plunged into the middle of Billie’s story, knowing only that things have happened to make her turn left instead of continuing on a chosen path. As the story fills out, we learn more of why Billie has taken the turn. Reichl cleverly allows the reader to see what Billie cannot, which allows us to cheer for her character and want to encourage her through the story.

Reichl writes with passion, and fills not only the food aspects of the story but her characters and the places they occupy with passion as well. Her descriptions are lush yet clear, pulling you easily into the world she has created of food and eccentricity and publishing. Her main character, Billie, is a beautiful mix of self-doubt and sadness. Her journey through the story is one of growth and self-discovery. Reichl also fills the story with a cast of supporting characters who are just as complex and intriguing as Billie herself, weaving the stories together seamlessly so that it creates one main event that is easy to follow as it flows around Billie.

The story unfolds not only around Billie’s growth but also around a mystery Billie uncovers. Through hidden letters, Billie discovers someone else’s life and in the process begins to connect with the people around her in a different way. Watching Billie unravel both the mystery and face her own challenges provided great pace to the story.

Filled with amazing food references, great characters and even a love interest, Delicious is a story that will appeal to many readers. But it is the excellent, solid writing and story-telling that makes it a book worth reading and passing along.

Posted by: Kate | August 13, 2015

Being Welcomed Home

We arrived back in Canada the night of the August long week-end. Lined up at the ferry for hours, not sure if we were going to be on the 8:45pm or the 10:45pm sailing, but luckily made it on to the 8:45 sailing as one of the last five cars. We were tired and ready to head home, just chilling out on the observation deck. But then, the coast decided to welcome us home in true BC style, SuperNatural.

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The sun setting over Vancouver Island as we headed west was spectacular. Then the First Mate mentioned that people should look back towards Vancouver.

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It was a blue moon (second full moon of the month) and so stunning with Mt. Baker in the background.

I love coming home.

Posted by: Kate | August 8, 2015

Canadian vs. American – It’s the Little Things

North America is a pretty unified continent. Here in Canada we watch 90% US television and movies, our bestsellers are generally the same, we eat mostly the same foods, listen to pretty much the same music, eat at most of the same fast food restaurants. Although as Canadians we like to think of ourselves as really different, if you travel around the world it is hard for most people to move beyond the stereotypes to tell you how those differences exist.

After traveling through 7 states, I have determined it is the little things that make the difference. Here are four, in no particular order.

How we measure. The US is on the imperial system, while here in Canada we are on the metric system. This makes figuring out the true cost of gas complicated (how many litres in a gallon, again?) and made it hard to judge time based on distance. Apparently I have a very good grasp of how long it takes to go, say 150km. 150 miles? Not such a good grasp! (Hint – it definitely takes longer to go 150 miles!) Speed limits weren’t a big issue, as our speedometer has miles and kilometres on it. But it was weird not seeing any signs with speeds over a hundred on the big highways (and yes, I know they are called freeways in the US – another word difference).

Where we stop to freshen up. In Canada, at least wherever I’ve lived or traveled, we refer to a bathroom, washroom or toilet. In the US it is universally referred to as a restroom. Which I find a little funny, because I don’t go in there to have a rest :)

Letters on the hillside. Please, one of my US friends, explain this to me. Does every town put its initial on a hillside nearby? We saw it in at least five of the states we visited. I’d really like to understand this one better. In Canada we do love our large and odd monuments (largest beaver, etc) but I don’t recall ever seeing the initials on a hillside.

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Large flags. While Canadians are patriotic, and we really like our cool maple leaf flag, we obviously do not love our flag anywhere near as much as the people of the US love their flag. I had heard this before, but thought it was hyperbole. I was taken aback every time I saw a giant flag, and I saw a lot of them!

IMG_1527So there you have it. Some of the quirky little things that make you realize you’re not in your own, familiar country, as much as we all think we are becoming a part of the US culture. I assure you, based on my trip, we are not.

PS OK, one more thing. I know our money looks like monopoly money to a lot of other countries, but I’d never appreciated how it sure is easier to know what you are pulling out of your wallet when each of your denomination bills is a different colour! And getting pennies again was weird.

Posted by: Kate | August 3, 2015

The Trip of a Lifetime

Mr. Kate, Bushboy and I have just returned from what can only be described as an amazing family road trip. 7 States, four national parks, numerous state parks. Many, many miles of driving. Many, many incredible sights seen.

In 12 days we drove from Vancouver Island to the Grand Canyon and return. We spent time on the Oregon Coast, saw the Redwood trees, drove through central California, experienced the dry heat of Arizona, drove on Route 66, gaped in awe at sunset at the Grand Canyon, marvelled at the beauty of Utah, watched geysers spray at Yellowstone Park, and enjoyed Bavarian kitsch at Leavenworth, Washington.

In between all that, we camped, played a lot of Farkle, did some shopping, ate at too many fast food restaurants and some excellent diners, and generally managed to get along.

We arrived home this week-end, and I’m still at a bit of a loss as to how to sum up the trip. There were too many separate parts, too many incredible moments.

But I know it was a trip of a lifetime.grand canyon03

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Posted by: Kate | July 30, 2015

I Really Get to Work Like This

I’ve talked before about how fortunate I am that I really like my day job. I  don’t believe one should talk a lot about work on a personal blog, but I had such a great morning at work the other week, and am so spoiled, that I just had to share some of the photos.

We were out looking at a property, which required a boat trip into the Discovery Islands, just off shore from Campbell River. As we don’t have a boat at home I don’t get out into the islands as much as I’d like, so this day was a real treat.

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We went a circular route, so these pictures are great samples taken from all over the Discovery Islands. This region is very popular with boaters of all types and from all over, you can see why! I loved seeing the islands from the water – you get to see how many different types of people and projects are out here, from fishing camps to logging to huge retreats and small cottages. Way more populated than people realize, and especially busy in the summer months.

We are planning more of these office field trip days this summer. I know – I’m spoiled.

Posted by: Kate | July 25, 2015

Snake!

These knitted snakes are one of my favourite gifts. So when a little boy we love had a birthday coming up, I knew what I wanted to knit. Camo colours suite him so well. I worked this with a plain cotton and a camo acrylic. The pattern is from woolworks and originally came from a knitting list group in the 1990s. There are many other patterns out there, but I’ve used this one a number of times and it works well for me. You can find the pattern here: Harriet Kay’s knitted snake.

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I firmly believe that every knitted toy needs a book to go with it. I searched high and low in our small city for a story about a snake, but this book of snakes was the only thing I could find. A red bow and a red tongue seemed to go together.

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I look forward to hearing the name of this snake.

Posted by: Kate | July 21, 2015

Hibiscus Update

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The flowers have arrived!

Posted by: Kate | July 15, 2015

Stitches in Love and Surprise

As mentioned, I am working on a few sneaky secret projects this year. One is away already, but two are still in my possession and at various stages of readiness.

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I am enjoying both of them, and love thinking of the recipient as I knit. I hope both projects bring joy.

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Posted by: Kate | July 11, 2015

Summer Rain

I don’t know that I have ever been so happy to see rain in July. And it is the good summer rain, soft and constant and soaking. The ground is so parched here on the west coast, that this rain is very welcome. I don’t think a day or two of rain is going to undo the months of dryness and the incredible low level of our lakes and rivers, but at least it will help a little. It will stop my garden from dying a slow death, for now.

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As a child I loved summer rain. Bushboy did as well. Warm and yet wet to play in, just like swimming in a warm lake. Not like our winter rain, which is harsh and cold and bone-chilling. Summer rain like today is whispers, and joy, and relaxation.

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Summer on the coast is often dry and hot, and we all feel this compulsion to live every moment of it at full speed, to get outside and live it up in the sunshine. So a day of rain is perfect for feeling ok to remain indoors, quiet, introspective, contemplative. Cleaning, perhaps, reading and knitting for certain. Enjoying the beautiful rain, while it lasts.

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