Saturday, November 27, 2010

That Time of Year

This is the time of year when I hate going shopping. Don't get me wrong I like the Holiday season; snow on the ground; and flashy, shiny lights. But, I hate shopping during this time of year. The malls, free standing businesses, and even the grocery stores are packed with hurried, stressed, and generally rude people who think their needs are far more important than yours.

Even though the Christmas season officially began Nov 26th, stores here have been pushing Christmas since before Halloween ended. Mostly they started setting up their display but in some cases they started with the blue light madness sales. And, like most stores recently, they are not stocking anywhere near enough of the sale items to fill everyone's wants.

You can't wait until the end of the 5 day sale period to get that new tool, or whatever thingy you want. You have to arrived the morning the sale starts and rush to the location the item is displayed and hope that they have enough so you can get one in addition to all the other people who need or want that same thing. While this strategy works well for the store's bottom line it just makes the masses go crazy and stress levels skyrocket.

For the last few years PeterC and I have been buying our gifts to each other online. While this relieves a lot of the stress and general annoyance at having the wade through crowds, it does come with its drawbacks. To guarantee the gifts arrive on time we place our orders in late November and if the post office is very efficient we get the gifts before December even starts. But, retrieving the package usually gives away what, or at least from where, their gift is.

Unfortunately, you can't buy groceries on line. If I could I think I would seriously consider it at this time of year. Luckily we do the majority of our grocery shopping once every two weeks, which requires going into town to get the items we need. The local grocer does carry the essentials, like milk, if we run out early. So no matter how much I hate leaving the house during the "Shopping Season", I still have to. It could be worse.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cock - a - Leekie Soup

There is something infinitely comforting about chicken soup or stew. I love it all especially if I am feeling under the weather, depressed, or just plain lonely. Normally I make chicken noodle soup or chicken and dumplings. Occasionally I'll make chicken and rice soup, especially good with wild rice. This week I had leeks, caught on sale at the grocers, and decided to give cock -a-leekie soup a try. I was very happy with the recipe and found the soup to be as satisfying and comforting as I could have wanted.

Cock -A - Leekie Soup
4 Chicken thighs - Skin on
2 Leeks - sliced into rings
1 - Bay leaf
2 - Carrots diced
1/2 cp Barley
2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Garlic
2 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Thyme

1) Place chicken thighs and sliced leeks in a large soup pot. Cover with water and simmer until the chicken is cooked.
2) Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
3) Add bay leaf, carrots, and spices. Simmer until carrots are just tender crisp.
4) Add Barley and simmer for about a 1/2 hour. Adjust spices if needed. I ended up adding another couple teaspoons of salt and more garlic at this point.
5) Chop chicken into 1/2 inch pieces, removing skin and bones. Add to soup pot and simmer until chicken is just warm.

Serve with fresh ground pepper on top and some dinner rolls. You can't ask for a nicer and more tasty way to eat chicken, leeks, and barley. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Keeping Busy

With the weather heading resolutely to the wet and cold variety I have been taking advantage and getting some more products ready for my online store, Chestnut Tree Creations. Truth is I spend 6-8 hours every night working on stuff but the cold and wet has allowed me a few extra hours in the day, too. I've also spent some extra time in the kitchen making bread, but that is a once a week project.

Besides my normal projects, wood carving, nalbinding, and weaving, I've also taken up jewelry making. Mind you it is mostly an offshoot of my wood carving, though a few of my pieces are metal only. I don't know why I decided to take up jewelry making, but for some reason I decided it was a good skill to add. It also gives me a few different things to list and sell. There are only so many needles or spoons you can carve before you go insane.

Once I get the current projects finished I am considering carving some tree ornaments. I still haven't decided on a pattern but I know I don't want to do the classic Santa or elves that are so popular with wood carvers at this time of year. I still have to give it some thought, though I can't procrastinate for to long. If I wait much longer, the carvings will be for next year not this.

So even though the garden has been put to bed, the ground is cold, and the air damp, there is plenty to keep me busy. Now if I could just get motivated to clean the house once a week. Ho, hum. Oh wait I here my carving knife calling. Gotta go.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


The leaves turned several weeks ago but the trees have been doing a great job of holding onto them, even through wind storms. That was until yesterday. Every single tree in the neighbourhood dropped all their leaves yesterday. It was as if some giant had sneezed and they all came down like so many dandelion puffs.

Here a picture of our yard guardian looking contemplative in the newly fallen leaves. Actually he looks kind of sad. Maybe he is thinking about the blanket of snow that will soon be covering him and keeping him from watching the yard like a proper guardian.