Friday, August 28, 2015

Colors and Completion

We have found someone to paint our boat and we have picked the colors!  They will make her look beautiful.  She will be mainly a creamy color with azure blue accents (to go with the a fore mentioned blue cratch and cockpit covers) with a grayish/brownish/greenish trim and roof color.  They will put the name on the bow and restore the outside cratch support to its beautiful teak color (it is now painted!!!)  It will look sooooo nice.   Yeah for the Emma John.

I have also finished my extra long shrug, including working in all the loose ends from color changes (a job I HATE).  It is by no means perfect but since it is for me I do not demand or expect perfection.  I am happy because it will be warm and cuddly and that appeals to me.  I made it two strand to make it warmer.  But, it allowed me to use up a lot of balls of different color yarns that I had gotten very cheaply and turn them into something useful.  If nothing else, it will be good with my jeans and jean skirts.

However, I did discover that sweaters purchased on the used market are cheaper than ones I can make using  thrift store yarn.  The sweater cost me £9 or $13.50 and I could have purchased a sweater from the thrift store for about a third of that.  BUT: it would not have been handmade; I would not have had the satisfaction of doing the making; I would not have gained the confidence to make such things myself if needed in the future.  I may not have won financially, but the other considerations make this a win in my book.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back from Berlin

We have returned to our boat after our week of babysitting our two fur grands Max and Chewie.  Speaking as a proud fur grandma they were very well behaved and gave grandma lots of cuddling.  My only complaint is that when two lab sized dogs (that is not their breed, though) decide to sleep with you in a twin bed it doesn't leave a lot of room for the human.  But, a small price to pay for love. 

We have moved down the canal to Lymm after returning to the boat yesterday early afternoon.  Today Mike is going to talk to some people at a marina about possibly painting the boat for us.  That leads me to the change of plans as to colors that necessity dictated. 

I really would like a cream and sage green boat but the vinyl covers for the cockpit and cratch are navy and since they would cost a couple of thousand to replace we have to live with them.  Hence a rethink on the color choices.  It probably comes as no surprise that we are leaning towards cream and navy with the cream being the dominant color.  We will let you know if it changes again, as it could.

I have given myself a gold star on the calendar because I came back yesterday to a bare fridge and  still managed to put a dinner on the table using shelf stable ingredients:  bean and mock meat tacos with vegan cheese sauce made with nutritional yeast.  I even made some of my grandma's half hour pudding for dessert.  I thought that definitely deserved a star.  I keep reminding Mike that my cooking skills save him $$$$ or ££££ as the case may be.  Such a modest woman am I.  :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Their Names Are On The Line

I have been watching more Youtube videos about Victorian and Edwardian rural life. I was reminded of how cooking used to be a matter of family recipes handed down through the years. There were no celebrity chefs or a stack of cookbooks, let alone an internet to search.

As I pondered I realized how many of my best, most trusted, can't fail recipes have the names of good cooks attached:

Grandma Young's Christmas Bread
Aunt Joan's Sugar Cookies
Aunt Bobbie's Peanut butter Fudge
Mrs Kolesar's French Pancakes
Minerva's Bread and Butter Pickles
Dot Burke's Concord Grape Pie
Aunt Evelyn's Zucchini Relish
Grandma Burdette's Potato Doughnuts
Aunt Joyce's Chicken Salad
Grandma O'Neill's Fig Pudding
Aunt Ellen's Homemade Kahluah

And the list goes on.

When you need to be sure trust the recipe with the name of a person attached.
They won't steer you  wrong.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It IS A Very Small World!

On August 29, 2014 I wrote a post about harvesting firewood with a dad and his two sons.

Well yesterday, deplaning in Dusseldorf, who should be ahead of us but dad!

Almost a year later and in very different and unexpected circumstances, this lovely young man recognised us AND remembered our names!

We had a much too brief chat but then stairs and planes to catch separated us before we could really catch up.  Our hopes of seeing more of him in the airport were not to be.

But, I hope he knows he made our day.  I have returned to thoughts of him and his family many times and always with a smile.

Here's hoping we meet again for a longer chat.

Oh, and thanks for helping us stay warm this past winter.  Much appreciated.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Babysitting the Fur Grands

Today we are parking the boat and heading towards Manchester.  Tomorrow we will take a plane to Germany and end up in Berlin where DD1 is now posted. 

She has to travel back to the states for a wedding and we get to babysit the fur grands, Max and Chewie. 

They are sweet and lovable dogs.  And, although they are large animals, they think they are lap dogs so a lot of snuggling will be done. 

I am so looking forward to "having" a couple of pets for about a week. 

If you think some spoiling might occur, you could be right but I will never admit it to their mother.  Otherwise I may never get to sit again. 

What happens with grandma stays with grandma, right?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cross My Fingers and Hope

Today has been that kind of day.

I decided this morning to make a Minion hat.  I have never made a Minion hat before. 

But I worked on it for most of the day and now I have a respectable hat to show for it.

Is it perfect?  Nope.  But the little boy it is intended for won't notice or care.

Then I decided to start to crochet something for me.  In all the crocheting I have done this past year, and I have done a lot, I have only made one dishrag for me.  Now I am working on the foundation row of a shrug for myself.  Think good thoughts, please.

And this evening, while I am waiting for the pizza and french bread to finish, I decided to try making homemade maraschino cherries to use in Grandma's Christmas bread.  They are now sitting on my counter and all I have to do is wait.  Let us hope they are good.  But how bad can cherries, cherry brandy and amaretto be.

Did you know the cherries you buy in the store have been bleached and then the color and flavor have been restored using artificial everything.  Yuck!

So today I have done a lot of crossing my fingers and hoping or praying.  And I am OK with that.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Going Back to the Wartime Farm and the Wartime Kitchen and Garden

As I sit and crochet I have been enjoying two series of YouTube Videos related to the home front in Britain during WWII.  I have always been a history buff and as I grow older I have become more interested in how people coped during the difficult days of The Great Depression and WWII.  There are lessons to be learned here that we actually might be called upon to use during some of our darker financial days.

Although, even I can not see myself making a substitute mayonnaise using boiled potato, mustard, salt, vinegar and oil.  If I don't have the egg I think I would rather do without.  I know, heretical.  I also cannot see myself eating steamed nettles in place of other green leafy veg.  Or, the "black bread" made with silage as the raising agent instead of yeast.  Nope.  NOT going to happen.  Even I have limits with food experimentation.

But, I might try the slices of corned beef encased in stiff mashed potato and then covered with a white sauce and baked.  That actually sounds rather good and VERY filling.  I also might try the leek pudding which is basically seasoned chopped leeks encased in pastry and cooked until very golden brown.   Or the baked chocolate cake type pudding sweetened mainly with grated carrot and only a very small amount of the precious sugar ration.  Sounds yummy to me.

I was interested to see how people improvised needed machine parts from odd  bits and pieces; made toy airplanes out of tin cans; learned to make clay roof tiles to repair buildings when commercial tile was unavailable; wove baskets from willow locally harvested, and so much more.  This often required learning new skills never before contemplated but necessity gave them no other choice. 

I wonder if I would have the stamina, mental and physical, to get the job done today if required.  One can only hope. 

But, in the spirit of the thing, I am off to work on my mock meat for dinner:  mock Italian sausage patties made from barley flakes cooked in beef broth and seasoned with fennel, garlic, onion, thyme, sage and a pinch of cayenne.  It actually might work.

Beautiful Scenic Worsley

Located on the Bridgewater Canal less than 6 miles from Manchester, this picture perfect little village's reason to exist was that it originally was the entrance to the area's underground mines.  Believe me when I tell you that looking around at the park like setting one would be excused for believing that someone was trying to pull their leg with that story.

    Image result for Worsley   Image result for Worsley

However, if you stop to think of why the canal water in this section is the color of ochre from an artist's palette, you will find a clue to the past.  The water's unusual color is the result of the water having dissolved the iron ore found in the ground in this area.

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Worsley is acknowledged to be the location where the idea of a canal system originated, although it is not where the first canal ended up being built.  The third Duke of Bridgewater was said to have conceived the idea while touring his underground coal mines in 1753 and watching the coal being mined be moved by small boats through an underground system of waterways. 46 miles in total.  Once on the surface, however, the heavy coal had to be dragged to Manchester using teams of horses.  Observing this is said to have caused the Duke an Eureka! moment and the idea of surface canals to move the coal to Manchester was born, although the actual surface canal would not follow until 1765. l

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Leigh Branch

The Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool begins just outside of Wigan after taking a right turn.  And, after just two locks, you have the joy of the next forty miles being lock free!  Music to my ears, may I tell you.

However, to get through the last of those two locks required the shifting of a sleeper sofa so that we could get the gates to the lock open and the boats into said lock.  Having done that, we were good citizens and moved it out of the way of other boaters and using a piece of our rope tied the sofa to a small bollard so that it would not drift back into the center of the canal to bother future boaters.  We weren't scouts for nothing.

I will spare you with my thoughts on those who would deposit an old sleeper sofa into the canal in the first place.  Because, as is obvious, it did not find its way there on its own.  What creatures humans can sometimes be astounds me.

We are now moored at Plank Lane enjoying the scenic views of semi-rural England.

It is difficult to believe that this area was once a scarred landscape due to intensive mining.  It has now been rehabilitated into lovely meadows full of local wildlife.  It must have taken a great deal of time, effort and money but it was definitely worth the work and cost.

Another aftereffect of the mining has been the sinking or subsidence of the countryside caused by the "underpinnings" being mined out from beneath it.  The canal, today, sits above the surrounding countryside due to the need to build the canal up over the years using mine waste.  Otherwise,  I assume, the surrounding countryside would have been awash in canal water until the canal ran dry.  Lucky for us, that never happened.

How full of history is England, as well as how beautiful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to Spend £26 in Under Two Hours

I have, once again, been charity shop shopping.  And today I spent a bit more than usual but I am quite pleased with what I found.

First, I found a pair of pjs and a nightgown for myself.  I will have need of these in September and the ones I have are to raggedy for polite public wear.

I also found 13 balls of yarn at 20 pence per ball.  Wow!  I am already scheming how to use them.

I have been looking for buttons ( to use in things I craft ) and have been striking out.  But today I found a box of them and purchased a total of  59 of different sizes and types for just under £9.  I am quite pleased considering the price of buttons new.

I also found two puzzles and 5 books for my grandchildren and a sleeper for the little girl.

I found a chrome cutlery organizer for £1 that I plan on using in the bathroom to organize makeup, creams and hair items.

I also found a picture frame that will be part of an upcoming wedding gift.  It was still wrapped in its protective plastic with the original price still on it.  My price was much better.

Lastly, I found 5 candles that will be used to make fire starters for the stove to be used next winter.

Not a bad haul.

Back at Wigan

We are now moored back in Wigan after a leisurely few days of cruising.

One day as we headed out the weather was soft:  a very light sprinkle with raindrops so small that they didn't make you feel wet.  Not a hardship to cruise in that.

Then the dark clouds rolled in, the rain picked up pace, and the foul weather gear came out.

When we got to a lock the rain was definitely coming down hard enough to get you wet, as evidenced by my jeans that were not being protected by the foul weather gear I had donned.

But Mother Nature quickly changed her mind and by the time the boat was through the lock the sun was beating down and the sky was a beautiful blue full of puffy, cotton ball clouds.

And it stayed that way for the rest of our cruising.

From here we will head towards Manchester.

We are hoping to find someone there to paint the boat for us.  It is currently two shades of blue with gold and yellow accents.  Traditional but too dark for my liking.

We are planning on cream and sage green with a beigey/browny/tan if a third color is needed.  In my mind, much more soothing and restful to the eye.

Today I have made an oat scone with dried fruit for breakfast and a corned beef and potato casserole is on the books for tonight's dinner.

But for now, I am on my way to the local charity shops for some retail therapy.  Who knows what might call my name.  Maybe even some more yarn since I have  already used 5 of the 11 purchased recently.  It would never do to run out.

Monday, August 10, 2015

From Dream to Reality

I am not sure why, but all night last night (or at least it seemed all night) I dreamed of baking bread. 

Not just any bread, but my super duper high fiber healthy bread that is lower in carbs and higher in protein. It us full of wheat bran, oat bran, flax meal, oats, soy flour, extra gluten so it will rise, and just a small amount of wheat flour to hold all the rest together.

I woke up several times during the night but each time I fell back to sleep I kept having the same dream.

Finally, at 6:00 I got up and started making the bread.  It seemed to be my destiny. 

Two loaves are now cooling, one for me and one for some friends we are currently traveling with.

Currently, I am finishing baking some banana bread to use up three super ripe bananas and some getting old kefir.  It smells lovely.  One loaf will again be ours and one will go to our friends.

I also made fried potatoes and onions with eggs and toast for breakfast.

It is only just after 11:00 and I feel like I have done a days work already.  I love feeling like things are being accomplished.

Later I will start a fresh batch of kefir, do some locks and swing bridges as we move down the canal, and make Mike's Mom's spinach salad with egg and bacon for dinner.

Sounds like a good day to me.  Wonder what I will dream about  tonight.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Charity Shop Score!

We stopped in Burscough Bridge for a few days and I just had to stop by the two local charity shops.  They are quite nice for such a small town and I highly recommend them if you are in the area.

I really found a treasure trove in the first one I went into:  11 skeins of yarn, one of which was 100% wool, for only £11!  I have been busy dreaming and planning and searching the internet trying to determine what I will create with them.  Such fun.

I also found two small casserole dishes.  They were white and matched our other dishes.  I will donate our larger casserole dishes.  Maybe now I will be forced to learn how to cook smaller portions.  I live in hope.

Mike and I also found 12 movie CDs for £2!  Some new to us evening entertainment.  Exciting.

And, I found some great books.

All for £16.

Life does not get much better.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Lily Pads, Moses Rushes and Long Legs

As we make our way out of Liverpool we are traveling through an area of canal full of rushes and lily pads.  In many places what you see is greenery across the canal as a whole with only a small path for the boats to travel through.

The lily pads are mainly of the small variety   Image result for lily pads images  with small yellow flowers.  They blanket the surface of the water and undulate slowly as you pass.

There are some of the larger variety  Image result for lily pads images  and they are also in bloom.  Mike likes these better.  Me, I like them both.

Image result for rushes along the canals images  ///The rushes that line the sides of the canal are home to the shy little moorhens that I love to watch.  Get too close and they scamper off into the rushes until they feel safe again.  If the lily pads are in the way they run right over them.  The adults with their long legs are fun to watch but the little ones look like furry blobs on toothpicks and they are cute as can be.  Enough to make you laugh out loud sometimes as they run for cover.

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Who needs a TV when nature provides programing like this.

A Cautionary Tale

I wanted to make homemade potato chips to go with the pizza I had made for dinner the other night.

A perfect time to try out the new  to me mandolin slicer I had recently purchased.

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While this is not exact, this is close to what I have.

Notice that little round disc.  That is there to come between you and the very sharp blade that slices things into very thin slices.  Slices perfect for potato chips or crisps as the British call them.

I was half way down the first of two potatoes when it happened.  I had curled my fingers around the round top part and since mine does not have that little edgy thing under the round disc I soon found myself in trouble.

Yep, you guessed it, I added a thin slice of my finger to the potatoes.

Boy did that sucker bleed.  No worry about infection there.

But eventually I got it bandaged in multiple layers to cushion and absorb.

And, I finished the potatoes and made the potato chips.  They tasted great by the way.

So, if you ever by a mandolin slicer watch how you place those fingers. :-)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Goodby to a Diverse and Wonderful City

The fact that Liverpool is a port city has contributed to its ethnically diverse population was drawn from a number of cultures, and religions.

Liverpool is home to Britain's oldest Black community, dating from at least the 1730s.  Some Black Liverpudlians are able to trace their ancestors in the city back ten generations. Early Black settlers included seamen, the children of traders sent to be educated, and former slaves, since slaves entering the country after 1722 became free men.

The city is also home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe.  Liverpool's first Chinese residents were 19th century seamen who jumped ship.  The gateway to Liverpool's Chinatown is the largest gateway outside of China.

The Irish Famine resulted in two million Irish people migrating to Liverpool in the space of one decade.  While many left for the US, many others never left the city of Liverpool.  By 1851, more than 20 per cent of the population of Liverpool was Irish. 

This diverse city is full of life, humor, irony, fun and a joy of just being alive.  Well worth a visit. 

The Merseybeat

In the 1960s Liverpool was the center of the "Merseybeat" sound which became synonymous with The Beatles and other Liverpudlian rock bands.

Designated as the World Capital City of Pop by Guinness World Records, Liverpool has  been home to such groups as The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers of "Ferry Cross the Mersey" fame.

Being the home of the Fab Four was, in itself, enough to mark Liverpool as a tourist destination for young and us not so young alike. 

Albert Dock is the home of The Beatles Story, an award winning display of  of all things Beatles. 

     Image result for the beatles story albert dock      Image result for the beatles story albert dock

Image result for the beatles story albert dock
  The information, images, memorabilia and interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison, Cynthia Lennon and Yoko Ono helps to bring the era alive.

One forgets that these four lads were actually lads in their teens when they first set out to make a name for themselves in music.  Fame had overtaken them by the time they were 20 or younger.  They were no more before they were 30.  They recorded for only eight years.  And yet, they are ageless and timeless and will live forever in history and memory.

The Super Lamb Banana

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 Buffalo has its bison, Erie has its frogs and Liverpool has its Super Lamb Banana.  This sculpture can be seen in its many incarnations throughout the city and in the city's many souvenir shops.

The Super Lamb Banana is  a cross between a banana and a lamb and was originally created by the Japanese artist Taro Chiezo to warn of the dangers of genetic engineering while symbolizing the playful spirit of Liverpool. .

The original has spawned many other interpretations, just a few of which are shown below.  They are now tourist attractions in their own right.
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