Saturday, December 31, 2011

╰☆╮An Old English Blessing for the New Year


When I as a child, I had a wonderful friend named Kim. I missed her very much when I moved away from my hometown, but we wrote each other (remember letters?) for several years. She sent me this small book of poetry for one of my birthdays.


 I told you it was many years ago.


The last entry is a blessing for the new year.



I've been blogging for a little over six months, now, and have appreciated the kindness of those who have visited me here, 
those who have commented 
and those who have followed. 
I look forward to getting to know you better in 2012 and to meeting new visitors.

Happy Birthday to 2012.
  Happy New Year, Friends! 
╰☆╮

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Simmering


Although Christmas was green, a little snow has since arrived to add some nighttime sparkle to my backyard.


Inside, there is some simmering going on at My Little Home.
Some is contained in the stockpot.

Some is in me, wondering about whether a very old friendship is over or needs to be redefined. 
At what point does one say the following?: "I've tried, but this is one disappointment too many." 

(Funny how a letdown with one person led to delight with others filling in the gap.)


For now, I crave some quiet time...



...to decide whether to knit things together (again), or let them unravel and move forward.

Warm Wishes,
Karen

Friday, December 23, 2011

❆ Thanks for the Rugelach Recipe ❆

I've long maintained that I don't have a sweet tooth, but I may have to re-evaluate that position. 

The baking bug has taken hold lately. Now, I don't have oodles of different tasty treats, but there are shortbread and gingerbread cookies, mince tarts and rugelach.

The latter, with cranberry and raisin filling, is completely new to me; I hadn't heard of rugelach until this holiday season. Lorrie shared her delicious-looking recipe on Pass to the Left, one of her two wonderful blogs (the other being Fabric, Paper, Thread).

I made the rugelach just a little while ago, ate one (or two) samples while they were warm and one (or two) samples when cooled. YUM! I can see them making a repeat performance next year!

Thank you, Lorrie!

Holiday Greetings!
-Karen

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One Skein of Silk


Several months ago, I purchased one skein of recycled sari silk yarn to make a scarf, wound a ball, and then neglected it. Somehow, I'd fallen away from knitting -limited as it had been- but would now like to get back into the rhythm of clicking needles.

I'm feeling the urge to fiddle with my fingers and make something beautiful.



I haven't used this kind of yarn before. If I understand correctly, it is made from remnants and scraps of the silk used for colourful, shimmering Indian saris.



Rummaging through my knitting needles, I'll see if I can find suitable ones for the project. Then, some simple stitches will yield, I hope, a pretty product.

One skein of silk, one skein of salvaged-loveliness, one skein of possibility. 

I would do well to emulate "one skein of silk".

I'd love to hear your thoughts,
Karen

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christstollen: a German Christmas Treat




I can't claim any credit for baking this delight. Rather, it was a gift from a friend. A surprise gift, at that! She purchased it at a German market, here in Canada.




I've never had Christstollen before (here served with Merry Mint tea). However, I can see tracking down a recipe and making some for next Christmas. There is a German great-grandmother in the family tree, after all!


 Frohe Weihnachten!
Merry Christmas! 

And while I'm at it, Happy Hanukkah, which is almost here!
I once lived and worked on a Cree reserve; my Jewish neighbours included my roommate and yours truly in their traditional celebrations. I can still taste the latkes!

Ok, that makes 2 things I want to learn to make: stollen and latkes! 
Recipes, anyone?

I'm linking with Little Red House for "Mosaic Monday"  this week. Drop on over!
-Karen

Saturday, December 17, 2011

As Requested: Shortbread Recipe



A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on Scottish shortbread, some of which is in this gift tin. Judith, at Lavender Cottage, asked if I was going to share the recipe. Now, there is someone who knows how to bake!

As I mentioned on Thursday, "Years ago, a friend (of Ukrainian heritage) gave me a recipe for Scottish shortbread. A Scottish woman she knew had given her the recipe 25 years previously." 

For Judith, and anyone else who likes shortbread, here we go!









Shortbread Cookies (Scottish Recipe)

4 cups flour (all purpose)
1 cup fruit sugar (superfine, not icing sugar)
3/4 cup rice flour
1 lb butter, softened

Blend sugar into butter.
Add rice flour and mix.

Gradually add all purpose flour.
Dough will be very stiff and crumbly. (I use the dough hooks on my hand mixer when the dough starts to get stiff, much easier than a wooden spoon I used years ago!)

Pat dough into a jelly roll pan. (My pan is a cookie sheet about 12 by 18 inches or 29 by 44 cm.)
Use rolling pin to flatten.

Cut dough in pan to make "fingers" and use a fork to prick each "finger" a few times.
(Oops. Mine look closer to squares than fingers. See my earlier post for photos.)

Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 Celsius) for approximately 45-60 minutes. (It was closer to 45 in my oven.)

When removed from oven, cut along the same lines again.
Allow to cool slightly in pan.
Then, remove and cool on wire rack. 

(How you cut them will determine how many the recipe yields. I ended up with 5 dozen little cookies.)

I'd love to hear back if you give them a whirl!






A sampling of the shortbread is packed up and heading out with me later today. A few of my "traveling buddies" are getting together to have dinner and share pictures of our November trip. Some of you have read my travel posts and I'm very appreciative! There will be one or two more coming soon, featuring: Toulon, France; Cartagena, Spain; and Barcelona, Spain.

Have a fabulous weekend!
-Karen

Thursday, December 15, 2011

❄ Scottish Shortbread: Round Two ❄



A week ago, I was all set to bake shortbread, but the hand mixer went kaput
I'm going in again, oodles of butter is at the ready.





It is time to test drive the new mixer. 

Besides, after watching "White Christmas" at the local library today, I wanted to do another holiday-type activity.  

If it had to be an edible project, so be it!







Years ago, a friend (of Ukrainian heritage) gave me a recipe for Scottish shortbread. A Scottish woman she knew had given her the recipe 25 years previously. Tried and true, you might say.

♪ ♫ ♩ A-baking I will go... ♪ ♫ ♩





















The problem  with getting the baking bug at night is that one is in danger of creating a rather wonky grid system in the dough!



Nonetheless, I'll still nibble, and share, shortbread.

Note: After this post, I was asked for the recipe. You can find it here.

I'm linking with Sweetology. Wander over there for some sweet delights!
Thank you for visiting and for any comments you leave. I love to read them.
-Karen

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Decorating: A Light Touch

I've been enjoying Brenda's and Claudia's series on "Defending the Small House" (links below). At 1000 square feet, I would say My Little Home qualifies as a "small" one.  There are only so many places to put things, including Christmas decorations.  

Then again, a light touch suits me.

The first photo shows the placement of my sweet smelling fir tree. It's planted on the one suitably sized piece of old hardwood available and, when the lights are twinking in the evening, I feel that I'm sharing it with my neighbours.



The tree ornaments, primarily gifts, are a motley collection assembled over the years. The table in the foreground provides a perch for an angel to rest her wings.



A tiny snowman tucked into the weathered window frame, a lamp with a red floral shade, and the soft flannel quilt add a subtle touch of cozy holiday cheer.

Sunlight is this room's best friend.



Looking towards the dining area, you'll spot some red dogwood branches (from a neighbour's shrub) with hydrangeas from my garden, a reindeer plant holder, some jolly handcrafted gents and an outdoor lantern. Maybe a carpet would be a good idea! Thoughts?



Things are simple in my home.






There is candlelight and comfy chairs...



the warm glow of the sun, pools of lamplight...




and the soft shimmer of tiny white lights on the Christmas tree.

Put your feet up while I make some tea.

Thank you to Brenda at "Cozy Little House"  and Claudia at "Mockingbird Hill Cottage" for inviting everyone to participate in their wonderful "Defending the Small House" series. Please visit them to see their lovely homes and each woman's personal style. They don't so much "defend" the small house as "celebrate" it!


Warm Wishes,
Karen

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Travel Snaps, Part 3: Rome, Pompeii and Pisa


It's time for a little break from your holiday planning, Blogging Friends. 

For those who may not have read about my recent trip, I went to Italy last month. After five days of traveling solo, I met up with friends who had been having their own adventures. Should you wish to see earlier posts of the journey, you can find one about Florence and another featuring Fiesole & Orvieto.

This first photo was taken in Rome and shows the Spanish Steps.

If you look closely (on the left side of one of the landings), you'll see me (in the blue blouse) waving to you!



The bottom left photo in this mosaic shows part of the Trevi Fountain. One friend was amazed, having expected a small, round structure. We tossed coins in to ensure a return trip.  After all, I did it once before, and here I was again!

The other three pictures were taken in the Pantheon, an amazing round building with a fascinating evolving history. Raphael is buried there, as are 2 kings of Italy. (That's an honorary guard, made up of volunteers, in the colourful uniforms.)



As a day trip from Rome, our little gang of seven went to Pompeii and spent hours wandering around the remains of the ancient city. It had housed 20 000 people at the time Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, with catastrophic results.



These are some details of the baths. Amazing.



Following our time in Pompeii, it was back to Rome for 2 nights and then on to meet our ship for my first cruise.

At our initial port of call, I chose to take an excursion to Pisa. I wasn't about to be that close to the Leaning Tower and not see it!




The day was grey and damp, but that didn't negatively impact the experience at all. I was just sorry I didn't have more time to wander around before having to catch to bus back to the ship. 



For "Travel Snaps, Part 4",  I'll show some photos of Toulon, France. If you thought Pisa was damp...
Perhaps I'll include the photo of me in an outfit no self-respecting Frenchwoman would dream of wearing!

I'm pleased to be linking with Little Red House for "Mosaic Monday". Why don't you pop over and see who's there this week!

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. I truly appreciate it and love to read any comments you leave.

Warm Wishes,
Karen

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Christmasy Post, Gone Belly-Up!


They say, "It's the thought that counts." 

There I was, in my kitchen, still in my blue flannel jammies with the frolicking sheep on them (I know, I know, but I like sheep and flannel jammies) ready to bake some shortbread cookies.

I'm off to a friend's later this morning, with a pretty ornament for her tree, and had planned to take some fresh shortbread to her.


Alas, plans change.

This is the beast. 
The hand mixer that decided to growl, 
to spin on one side only, 
to clatter 
and roar
in its feeble, failing, fruitless attempt to move both attachments in unison.

So, the flour (wheat and rice) has been put in containers, as has the butter and fruit sugar. 
It's off for lunch I go, 
one hand empty, 
with plans to shop for a hand mixer tomorrow.

 If you have a favourite workhorse you could recommend, please let me know.

I've read gorgeous posts about holiday planning, where things seemingly go off without a hitch. 
Mine is a minor one.
I'm smiling, a good friend awaits, and the hand mixer didn't give up the ghost on Christmas day!

Warm Wishes!
-Karen

Monday, December 5, 2011

Trimming the Tree

 There it is! 
A fresh, fragrant, soon-to-be festive Christmas tree, wrapped in mesh and ready to enter my home.

Forget stuffing a turkey, try stuffing a six and a half foot tree into a small car!


Did I mention "needle-dropping" in the tree's description?
I don't mind, though, because the scent makes up for a few spent green bits.




While listening to carols, I enjoy going through my ornaments. 
Most were presents and it's nice to recall the warm sentiments with which they were given.




A shimmering angel, a shining sphere...


or a silk circle, each has its place.

I'm finding my place, too.


Warm Holiday Wishes,
Karen

Monday, November 28, 2011

Making Merry


Having seen so many lovely blogs featuring holiday themes, I thought I would dive into my basement, see what I could find, and start decorating.

It may be just me in my little home, but I mean to make it merry! 

In that spirit, there is a wreath on the front door and some pretty lights (joining in with those of my neighbours) helping to brighten the night sky.



I've pulled out one of my Christmas boxes and unearthed some festive mugs from former students...



...and some cheery plates from my niece.

Christmas isn't about "stuff", but it is fun to make life a little bit special with a small treasure or two.

Looking forward to all of your festive posts, whatever the holiday you celebrate!

-Karen


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Travel Snaps (& a Video), Part 2: Fiesole and Orvieto, Italy

A few days ago, I posted some photos (here) of Florence, Italy. What a place!

Just 9 km outside of that marvelous city is the ancient town of Fiesole, on top of one of the many hills.

The first photo in the following mosaic shows an inviting-looking house at the base of a steep set of stairs, which I descended (and later ascended). I can only imagine that those who live in this area have very strong legs as the entire town provides a beautiful workout.




The shrine reminded me of the one in the book/movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun". Not a big leap on my part, considering I was in beautiful Tuscany at the time, with the fabulous sound of church bells ringing regularly.


video

This short video gives you a glimpse of the bus ride up to Fiesole. The quality isn't very good, and you'll have to ignore the wisps of my hair blowing in the wind, but it may just give you a sense of the countryside. The landscape, the tile roofs, the bright buildings, the cypress trees...I love them all!



Following my stay in Florence was one night in Orvieto. You know you're in a lovely place when you open the bathroom shutters and see roses blooming in November. (You may have them at this time of year where you live, but not in my corner of the world.)

In the next mosaic, the first photo shows part of the steep hill I had just climbed (towing my suitcase), vowing to make an effort to get in better shape. Looking in the opposite direction is the old walled city. Thank goodness for the funicular!





Imagine narrow streets and pathways, pomegranates hanging over stone walls, colourful pottery, stunning views...



I hope you enjoyed these images, which I'm sharing with Mary at Little Red House for "Mosaic Monday".


I'll post some photos of Rome, Pompeii and a few other places soon, along with more homey pursuits!


Thank you for taking the time to visit.

Warm Wishes,
Karen

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