Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Party!

You might say I'm a bit of an Olympic junkie.  You might say the same about some of my friends.  For the Opening Ceremonies we got together and joined our Olympic junkie-ness together!  I decorated with rings and a flag.

There was lots of Olympic themed food:

Cupcakes with coloured sprinkles and chocolate rings.

Watermelon cut in maple leaves. And lots of other goodies that had a sports or Olympic theme.

We munched away while we watched the Opening Ceremonies and played Opening Ceremonies bingo.  I made up cards with things I thought we'd see during the broadcast.  I was so happy with how that turned out! Everyone was really excited to play - we had to make a very official start to the game to prevent people starting while others were in the other room getting snacks!  It took about 20 minutes for the first person to win (about 15 minutes longer then I thought it would take!) and we saw all but two of the things I had put on the cards.  Everyone had a prize by the end of the night - I picked up some little Olympic items while I was in England just for this. Since it was such a success I took notes for ideas of things to put on the bingo cards for Sochi 2014!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jam Making

It's been on the to do list for years! This weekend I finally tried jam making with a friend.

We began with a lemon-lavendar infusion.

Got those jars sterilized.

Made a mess of a pot.

Got the sticky mess into jars and all sealed up.

Result? Delicious jam.  Yum!  We have room for improvement though, the recipe we were working with doesn't call for pectin so finding the "setting point" is a skill we have yet to hone.  We were supposed to have 10 cups of jam but ended up with 5.  I was the one who kept saying "I don't think it's ready yet," so I take complete blame for that!  On the upside all our jars sealed so we've got that bit down.  And the jam is still spreadable (just), we were worried it might turn out like a huge candy!

While we waited for the jam to set we made peach muffins which turned out perfectly - I'm much more comfortable baking then canning!

There are several more recipes we want to try - our go to book is We Sure Can.  I love it because it explains a lot about safety and process, as well as including recipes (by season!).  As an added bonus it's Canadian. Next up I think we're trying raspberry jam with pectin (we're up for a no-fail experience)!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend Goodness

1. Dock time.

2.  Crepes and sausages for breakfast.

3.  Jam making.

4.  Party plans.

5.  Celebrating milestones.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

England Experiences - Number 3 - Woolfest

When I was looking around on the Internet planning our trip I was overjoyed to find out we'd be in the right area at the right time for Woolfest!  Happily it turned out to be just as wonderful as I'd hoped.

The two day festival was held at a local agricultural centre.  In case you missed the signs pointing the way you could also follow this big sheep!

Some of these guys came inside 

It was really interesting to see the different breeds up close.

There were quite a few live animal displays as well as loads of vendors selling everything wool related: fleeces, rovings, yarn, felting kits, knitting needles, spinning wheels, felt, etc. etc.  I believe there were also sheep auctions going on but I'd have hard time packing one in my suitcase (not to mention customs!) so I stayed clear of that!

The rooms were decorated with wool bunting (what else?) and I participated in a small way by bringing in a knitted triangle to add to the bunting effort.

While I didn't exactly do as this sign suggests I did bring home my share of wool goodies.

I focused on buying local (or at least British) yarn I can't get here in Canada and was very successful! These three are from different types of sheep: Blue Faced Leister, Swaledale and Herdwick and are undyed.  Very cool!  I really like the Herdwick yarn as that type of sheep is really particular to the Lake District.

This was my splurge purchase!

A kit to make Kate Davies Rams & Yowes blanket.  The yarn is all undyed Shetland - isn't that amazing!  There should be enough yarn for a hat as well as the blanket.  I think this will be next winter's project.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

England Experiences - Number 2 - Filming Locations

I have to admit, a lot of my favourite TV shows and movies are British.  Pride & Prejudice (BBC version), Emma (BBC version), the Cranford series, As Time Goes By and Downton Abbey are a few that come to mind. It was very exciting to see some of the places these were filmed when I was in England!

Our first stop was Bath. Very Jane Austen-ish looking and generally beautiful.  A lot of Persuasion is set in Bath & they used some of the streets in the 1995 version.  I think the street in the second picture is where Anne & Captain Wentworth got engaged.

Not far outside Bath is the little village of Lacock which has been used in a number of period pieces.  Memorable ones for me were Pride & Prejudice, Emma and Cranford.  As a National Trust village Lacock remains historical and beautiful!  We walked around the streets pointing out familiar buildings from films and taking pictures of everything!

Any guesses which film this location was used for?

If you know Downton Abbey at all that shot pretty much gives it away (it's our take-off on the DVD cover).  We took a tour from London that visited the village that was used for places like the hospital, the Crawley cottage and the church, as well as Highclere Castle that plays Downton Abbey so well.  The tour was great fun!  While we traveled around on the coach we watched episdoes of the show and it was an easy, stress-free way to see two locations in one day.  Photography wasn't allowed inside but many of the rooms looked very similar to how they look in the film.  Especially the library, the staircase & great room and the dining room.  The outside bits are very distinctive as well.  Here's the courtyard (with film props stored in the arches) and the tree that is such a lovely shape.  You can just make out my sister & I sitting on the bench underneath.  I'm not sure what that last thing is called but I remember seeing it in the film.

The last location is not nearly as well known.  This farm, Bank Ground, was used for the 1977 film of Swallows & Amazons.  I'm a great fan of the books but hadn't seen the film till this trip (we borrowed a copy from the farm owners) as I haven't been able to find it in the correct format for Canada.

One day we took a steam ship down the lake and caught a glimpse of Wild Cat Island.

This sail boat is not at all like the ones in the book but we enjoyed watching it anyways.

How about you; are there any favourite filming locations you've seen or want to visit?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend Goodness

1.  Baked raspberry custard.

2.  Finishing my trip scrapbook.

3.  Farmer's market for produce and tortillas.

4.  Art on the Street.

5.  Pina Colada flavoured soft ice cream.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

England Experiences - Number 1 - Tea

I haven't mentioned here that I was in England for 3 weeks!  It was a great trip with my mum & my sister.  We have all been before and went back to visit some favourite places as well as discover some new ones.  Now that I've had a week to catch up with life at home there's time to blog and share some of my England experiences with you!

One of the quintessential English things is having tea.  Tea at breakfast, tea in the afternoon, tea in the evening, at the hotel, at restaurants, with friends.  As a non coffee drinker I love that hotel rooms provide a tea kettle rather than a coffee maker!  Adding some biscuits, scones or another treat makes tea even sweeter.  I'm not sure how many cups of tea we drank over 21 days but we enjoyed every one.

This picture sums up how we ended a lot of nights.  Tea in our hotel room supplemented with a selection of biscuits from Marks & Spencer.

In Bath we had tea at the Pump Room as people have been doing since the 1700s.  In London we had tea at Buckingham Palace!  Not, alas, an official garden tea party with the Queen in attendance, but out of a paper cup in the cafe set up in the garden after touring the State Rooms.

I ended up blending in with the decor very well!

At the end of the trip we bought some tea to bring home with us so we can continue to enjoy!  I think scone making should be in the near future too!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In my Mailbox

During the last couple months I had the pleasure of finding beautiful envelopes like these in my mailbox, most were part of the Elevated Envelope exchange.

The Elevated Envelope exchange was a great excuse to get creative and had the bonus of great mail showing up in the mailbox!  I've just got my exchange group & prompt for the summer.  If you'd like to participate you can sign up for the fall exchange here.

This was probably my favourite bit of the Elevated Envelopes I received; the way Tara wrote my address! I just couldn't stop looking at it and seriously considering getting this done as a stamp!

What could be more fun then finding beautiful envelopes in your mailbox?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Elevated Envelope


I just realized I forgot to show you what I made for the spring Elevated Envelope exchange! I wanted to make sure my swap partners got theirs before I showed them on my blog and then I lost track of time!

I had fun using watercolours to create the sunsets and the boats.  I masked off a circle for the sun and then did washes in different colours.  The boats were painted on after the sunset had dried.  If you're interested in participating in the Elevated Envelope you can sign up for the fall exchange here!