New Skirt

In May, I realised that I no longer had a dressy bottom garment when needed. My formerly dressy-ish trousers had degraded into acceptably average and the modification to expand a skirt’s waistband only bought me a few extra weeks.
On a Friday night alone, I cranked up NPR and pulled this gorgeous teal wool knit from my stash. I was methodical about measuring, flattening the fabric many times and repinning, as my Mother-in-Law taught me as we began making my wedding dress. I made an infinity dress without the top half by omitting the straps and doing a yoga waistband for the band.

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I followed the directions and used the stretchiest direction for the waist. Don’t do this. I had read many comments warning against this and heeded them when I made my wedding dress and wish I had remembered for the skirt. It’s nice for a casual day or event but, as I learned at a recent wedding, not the best waistband for a ceilidh outfit! The fabric is just a bit too heavy for that.
But oh, do I love circle skirts!

Forgotten Photo Friday: LLandudno  

We have family in North Wales and were supposed to visit them as part of our vacation this summer. Unfortunately, the trip had to be cut short so we missed out on seeing them.

Besides a full heart from family time, I always leave Wales inspired by the visuals. The sea is obviously a big win for me, but LLandudno and Colwyn Bay are full of other treasures: beautiful charity shops, building features, and cute cafes.    I captured these images in LLandudno in December 2013 and was ‘saving’ them until I wrote something ‘insightful’ or talked about our trip, but my brain was busy with other things at the time. Here they finally are for Forgotten Photo Friday.  

  

  

Lentil Loaf Update: Red Lentil Loaf

When I discovered that red lentils had more protein than brown or green lentils, I knew I needed to revisit my lentil loaf.
I had the idea that red lentils were sweeter than others, which is why they were always my last choice, but they’re actually perfectly mild for mixing with other flavours.

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The best part about this loaf is how well it holds together. It’s sliceable and diceable and I’ve used it in stir-frys, with pasta dishes, and cold mayo and veg salads. It’s great to bring along when sharing a meal with omnivores, or when you’re just not quite sure what kind of gluten/dairy free veggie food you’ll be fed.

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I made up the recipe around June and it’s already a staple.

2C cooked red lentils, cooked in stock for extra oomph but fine if you forget. Cooked until soft on the edges.
1C sunflower seeds
1C gf quick cook oats
Diced onion, smallish
Season to taste with salt, pepper and other things like: smoked paprika, sage, cayenne, etc.
1C egg whites (whole eggs fine but we have a lot of whites to use up).

Pour into a waxpaper lined loaf tin.

I haven’t made this vegan with flax egg replacer, but if the lentils are cooked well and you use enough flax mix it would probably bind fine.

Cook at around 200C then lower to 175C or so once top begins to harden. It’s cooked when a knife comes out clean.

Remove from tin but not paper and allow to cool. Makes 8 servings, with 18-20g protein per slice.

Sea(loch) Kayaking

For our birthdays, my mother in law bought us a morning’s sea kayaking excursion in Arisaig with Rockhopper Kayaking and we booked it for this weekend. We drove up to Fort William on Friday night and met the kayaking guide on Saturday morning. While the trips usually leave from Arisaig, they took us on the sealoch instead due to very windy weather on the coast.

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Honey and I went in a tandem kayak and we were both happiest when she steered (there was a rutter) and I set the pace. We paddled around Loch Linnhe and [the one next to it]. It was cloudy and windy but still so beautiful. On the return trip, we spotted a harbour porpoise and rafted the boats together to watch for a while.

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Introducing Forgotten Photo Friday

In June, my camera was stolen. I lost about three weeks of photos of beautiful living. My 5 week old nephew with each of his parents, my niece’s first birthday, and a family weekend away with four generations of women. 

My cousin loaned me his camera when we went on holiday the next week and that helped in capturing things, but the sting of losing the family moments cannot be fixed. 

Besides the family photos, which I don’t tend to post often on here, I generally have a backlog of photos and things I want to blog about but don’t because the image is ugly or doesn’t capture what I had hoped it would. 

 Well, not only are my phone and ipad (okay, and camera memory cards) bursting with photos that represent beautiful living captured in ugly images, but there are so many things that I am behind telling you about. 

Losing the family photos has prompted me to get with it and regularly post about what fills me with joy, even if the photos of those moments don’t. I will be catching up on talking about our summer adventures, as I need to do each season (!), but also introducing Forgotten Photo Fridays, which will bring those older adventures out of the woodwork and on here where they belong. 

Blackberry Jam, Diner Style

Yesterday I picked nearly 3 Lbs of blackberries: certainly the season’s peak and the most we’ve harvested so far.
After Honey amused me by holding the harvest up for a large volume of photos, I washed the berries and knew I wanted to taste them this winter. I have a few containers tucked away in the freezer, but thought I’d see how much jam I could get out of the day’s loot.

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I blitzed the first batch of berries in the power blender with about 1/2C water and then used the blackberry juice for the rest of them. I added one apple and at least 1/2C honey to taste. I like mine fruit flavoured and authenticity astringent. Since I haven’t properly made jam since ditching sugar, I wanted it to set and have the jars seal well. I put in a few Tbs agar agar to the mix and when it was set (about 2 hours later so I don’t know if the agar agar made a difference), put it into these wee jars with brand new lids. The jars are about 4oz.

Shakespeare in Stirling

I love being outside, love theatre, and love Shakespeare’s romantic comedies so had always wanted to go to a Shakespeare in the park production when I lived in the US. I had heard about Bard in the Botanics but wasn’t sure about buying tickets to something that could end up being soaking wet and cold.
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Seeing an advert for Chapterhouse Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream closer to home at Stirling castle was too good a chance to pass up.
Last Thursday after work, Honey and I brought our camp chairs, warm and waterproof layers, flasks of hot tea, and snacks and joined the rest of the audience in the castle’s gardens.
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It was a lovely night- a very entertaining cast, relaxed atmosphere, and a chance to connect with some summer magic. Oh, and it even stayed dry. I’ll definitely risk the rain for an outdoor production again.

Farewell, July

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July is my favourite month. It is far enough into the summer that you’ve really gotten into the swing of it actually (finally!) being summer. It’s also still quite distant from the pleasant yet melancholic August afternoons that somehow both move gently along and careen past you.

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Although I deeply adore Thanksgiving, golden and sweet smelling autumn afternoons, crisp and sparkling white blankets of winter snow, the joyful burst of flowers heralding May’s arrival, and so many other beautiful seasonal experiences, I think that I could happy live year-round in the bountiful, contented, and hopeful month that is July.

Farewell July, Oh Beautiful Month!

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End of July Garden

Today was beautiful and aside from some dishes and laundry, my only goal was to BE. This meant that I wandered over to the quasiallotment at breakfast to harvest some peas and then headed back for most of my day. DSC_0097smallerI weeded, removed rocks, sprinkled manure, sat in the middle of the plot and admired it, watched the bees dip in and out of the nasturtiums, felt the soil on my feed and the sun on my face, tied up (again) the drying peas, thinned the turnips and ‘carrots’ (which turned out to be parsnips), photographed things (with my 1-day old camera), and planted some more seeds. I planted more peas next to the slowing vines, put some sweet pea in to grow with the purple climbing beans, cleared a section that had failed and planted some very old spinach beet (which may have been the failed sowing in the first place?), and scattered an old packet of wildflowers and crossed my fingers they grow and last into the autumn.DSC_0105 copysmallI pulled up two kale plants that were too close to larger plants. DSC_0102 copsmall

DSC_0087The asparagus peas are setting!DSC_0082 smallThe runner beans for drying are beginning to flower.DSC_0101smallerMogget often comes along with me.DSC_0094smallerThe first calendula flower of the year. I really like the yellow-peach colour. DSC_0106small copyThinned the turnips again and am excited to see 3-inch roots peeking out of the ground!