Friday, December 31, 2021

Wrap Up


2021 is, according to the calendars we keep, coming to an end. This is the last day of that year but, as after every Friday, it will just be another Saturday. This Saturday is regarded as different - it represents the next cycle of time-keeping, which we Westerners call 2022. We recycle days and months, but not years. I wonder why? I know the Chinese culture does - they have a cycle of 12 years that repeat, yet each one of ours is seen as new. 

What are you doing with this 'new' year?







Thursday, December 30, 2021

Plastic Cellulite

I can't un-see the look of dimpled cellulite on the left hand side of this milk jug once it struck me! Can you see it? I know I'm nuts, but it's fun being nutty, and it helps endure winter seclusion!




Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Knitflixing

I recently came across the trending term Knitflix, and found it very relatable. It was coined to describe hobbyists who binge watch Netflix while they knit.  Some people blog about it (!), recommending shows or movies that are soothing and easily watchable while you follow a knitting pattern. Sometimes season repeats are recommended since you won't miss plot points.




Of course the term doesn't preclude anyone doing the same thing with YouTube, or any other streaming service, though I must say "YouTubing" sounds infinitely more active, doesn't it? Like snowtubing, perhaps? And of course, the creative activity is not restricted to knitting only - I do it more smoothly and mistake free when I crochet.

I had stumbled onto these pleasures on my own, as well as enjoying doing it with audiobooks (besides an Audible subscription, I get audible books through my Google rewards points, by taking advantage of promotional offers, and through the Cloud Library offerings) ... to the point where my book listening list has soared to a hefty

  86 

books completed (and counting) for this year - I guess that means I've been busy (sitting on my butt and knitting/crocheting, not busily, actively moving I mean).


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Nice Icing

Freezing rain always creates such beautiful sculptures. I can't help myself when it comes to photographing these sparking jewels.



I wonder if nice icing should just be shortened to Nicing?







Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Memory


My friend and I took this photo 10 years ago when we did the 'decorated Xmas tree hunt' in the Open Spaces in our town of Chelmsford, MA. It has become a lovely memory.


 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Friday, December 24, 2021

Festive Laundry

 



My laundry looks festive, with just a small introduction of text!




And then there's the invasive aquatic plant adaptation version





Merry festivities, all đź’—






Thursday, December 23, 2021

Nostalgia


My Mom baked and iced a fruit cake for Xmas every year when we were growing up, as is the English tradition. As kids we didn't really appreciate fruit cakes much, but the delicious aromas of boiled fruit, brandy, marzipan and royal icing have become a nostalgic and important piece of Xmas for me over time. My Mom would usually wrap a gaudy, fringed and festive ribbon around the sides of the cake, and there'd usually be a plastic sign pressed down on top of the cake saying "Merry Christmas."

The fruit cake I baked at the very end of October this year in preparation for Xmas has been 'kept moist' with weekly additions of brandy.


Once that stage was over, the next step involved rolling out marzipan into a thin sheet, and covering the cake with it. To make sure it sticks down firmly, I brushed the cake with warmed apricot jam, to act as glue.



 
Once that had dried out and set enough, it was time for the royal icing and decorating. I haven't taken out any festive decorations this year, including my cake toppers, so here' what I did instead.








Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Moonlight Grill

It had been a foggy day, but the mistiness was enhanced when we grilled steaks ...







Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Solstice Light





Yay!!! The shortest day is here - that means longer periods of sunlight each day. Hip hip hooray, something to celebrate. 









Monday, December 20, 2021

Pine Fears





Pine tops swirl in wind
like grounded beach umbrellas
Hope they don't snap off !


The house timbers creak
Sounding ominous, scary
Despite bold sunshine.







Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sun & Ice

 

An assortment of lake pics, as the ice and sun comes and goes.





The indentations and marks in the forming ice remind me of the time I once walked on our newly cemented pathway to the front door, at the urging of our neighbors, and despite the tape around the edges. Our footprints were etched in it forever.






Saturday, December 18, 2021

A Hot Mess!

 

I decided to try and find a way to get into the Xmas spirit - and baking cookies seemed to be the perfect way to do that ... except that I felt overly ambitious, and tried my hand at some cannoli-like, rolled, lacy biscuits called "Brown Buttercrunch Cookies." They were quite a challenge, since they require careful, deliberate and timeous involvement, something I usually pooh-pooh when it comes to baking. 

I detest multi-staged baking projects, and these just confirmed my prior conclusions. These delicate delectables required very careful monitoring and shaping, and sometimes re-shaping. I learned and adapted as I progressed through the batch, which required ... cooking only 4 cookies at a time, then letting them cool just enough to allow me to lift them and roll them around the handle of a wooden spoon before they got too brittle. Is this what is known as a 'hot mess'?




Mine look rather untidy and uneven, but I can assure you, they taste fine. They're light and caramely-toffee-granola like. It looks as if this recipe is not 'one for the books,' and it shall remain tucked away in the book for eternity- I don't see myself repeating this time-suck of a process again. This is how they were presented in my cookie cookery book:





They do taste good, though! And then most of the jam filling bubbled out of the thumbprint cookies ... which also, still tasted good.

As always, my tried and tested German PffeffernĂĽsse delivered without a hitch. And what can go wrong with rum balls?

It WAS fun, despite the hurdles I encountered, and the results are yummy!


Friday, December 17, 2021

Contrasts

 


December 9, 2021


It looked as if winter was laying down her cloak, and then 3 days later we enjoyed this beautiful December day, as if there hadn't been any snow or ice at all!



December 12, 2021


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Daily Bread


I'm loving making my own wholegrain bread. It seems easier than I ever imagined it could be. Only 1 hour of proving, and no kneading - woohoo, that's my style. I can't bear multi-stepped, prolonged procedures.






 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Powerless

Things to do when a windstorm knocks out your power:



  • Eat the snowball cookies you baked when you did have power
  • Write a story using a pencil
  • Drink coffee made on your gas stove
  • Read
  • Make up the kindling bags you've been meaning to do for ages
  • Knit
  • Watch a movie (if you've downloaded one in advance)
  • Use a car battery and inverter to power your CPAP
  • Water your indoor plants
  • Do Sudokus or other puzzles
  • Soak up the warmth of the woodstove






Monday, December 13, 2021

Leafy Luck


Watch those 'leaves' moving

A beautif 'ly camouflaged

Ruffed grouse it could be!


A foraging pair

Spied under the hemlock boughs

Without flushing them.





No photo, so here's my amusing camouflage 'art' piece instead!




Bonasa umbellus

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Embossed Ice


New ice - I'm obsessed with it. The surface impressions look like embossing on a piece of art.


Nature's lithographs:









Saturday, December 11, 2021

Frosty Roof


Frosty rooftops glint -

Ice crystals catching the sun

As the day begins.


Friday, December 10, 2021

Pudim de Leite

I've been wanting to make a Brazilian Flan (Pudim de leite condensado, fairly similar to a crème brĂ»lĂ©e, but made with condensed milk), ever since our tenants shared one with us some years ago, but somehow it seemed too difficult, too fraught with possibilities of failure, so I put it on the back burner.

Last week I found myself with an excess of milk beyond its expiry date, though not yet turning. So I sorted through the compost of my mind and found the solution to my predicament: make a Brazilian Flan. I have learned a lot more about a bain marie and caramelizing sugar since then, through watching the 'Great British Baking Show,' which has increased my confidence, so I tackled the project with gusto (it was also a dreary weather day of grey freezing rain).

It looks as if I've created the world's biggest glazed donut:




It feels incredible to be successful on my first attempt. And believe you me, whether it presents perfectly or not, it's obviously super delicious!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Messy Day

 


A wet, messy outlook can actually look lovely, given the right perspective. It's a matter of seeing through the grey veil. And hey, I got the CPAP checkup converted to a phone call so I didn't have to go out in it - win!




This was the first real whitening we've had this season, still some open water in the middle of the lake!



Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Crunchy Ground

 

Our overnight temperatures have dropped dramatically, making the ground crunchy to walk on in places where the moisture in the soil has frozen. It makes vertical columns as it rises to the surface, and lifts the soil up with it.



It can create air pockets beneath that look craggy, and collapse when something heavy walks over it.



It can look like a small burrowing animal has been busy on the lawn.




Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Baking Pride

 

A delicious apple and blueberry pie, made by moi! It was very yummy.



I've been inspired by the Great British Baking Show  on TVto work on my presentation a bit more.  Now to focus on the art of not getting fruit leaks. Soggy bottoms? Not my problem!