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A whirlwind trip… totality and back


My brother Charles got wind of the fact that I had Sunday and Monday off work. Just enough time to drive to the eclipse in Sweetwater Tennessee and back. He really wanted to go, and total eclipse was on my bucket list. It took me three asks to persuade Alan to come with us, but he caved. We checked the weather forecast on Sunday morning to make sure we weren’t heading for total cloud cover and headed off from Ottawa at about 10.30. We picked up Charles and left Mum’s by about noon.
Mum had packed us sandwiches and bananas so we didn’t need food until suppertime. Of course we stopped at a Crackerbarrel once it went dark. Charles had never been so we got a new convert. I picked up a road atlas in the gift shop because we had only managed to find maps of NY and PA before we left. Not that it was hard up to that point…cross the bridge and stay on the I-81. We got back in the car and drove till midnight when we stopped at a Motel 6. we were back on the road by 6 and stopped for breakfast at 8 at a McDonalds for the wifi. This was critical because we had to decide at this point if we were heading to South Carolina or Tennessee. The weather forecast looked much better for Tennessee, so back in the car and south we went.
Knoxville gave us pause and at one point I thought we were going to spend the eclipse in a giant traffic jam just north of the totality zone. How depressing would that have been? We did eventually crawl through Knoxville and on to Sweetwater. We pulled into the last space in the parking lot of a Burger King with an hour to spare and the moon already starting to cross the sun. It turned out to be a perfect location. We bought lunch from a very harried staff and sat down to watch eclipse coverage on CNN. Every few minutes or so we went to check the moons progress with our eclipse glasses left over from our Transit of Venus viewing in 2012. We left the restaurant for good about 20 minutes before totality and joined the legions of peaple with their lawn chairs in the parking lot.
Totality only lasted 2 1/2 minutes but I can say that it was worth driving 3000 km for. The crowd cheered, the crickets started chirping up a storm and the sun looked like the pictures (the ones taken with real cameras…not mine taken from my phone!). Someone let off fireworks a few hundred meters to the north west. I am not sure it was a good use of their totality watching time, but their choice I guess. The diamond ring effect happened, I got the men into the car and we booked it home. We only stopped for gas and subway sandwiches which we ate on the road. We got back to Mum’s in time for me to have a shower and head straight to work.
Road trips…gotta love em/

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Breaking radio silence…

Wow, I knew it had been a while, but 3 months since my last post. Bad, bad blogger…

I have decided to do a bit about work this summer. I am getting more comfortable with my open hearth cooking, so I have actually been taking pictures in lulls between visitors of things I am happy with

Here are a few images from the last couple of weeks. We are, of course, only allowed to use ingredients that they could have reasonably had in the 1860’s on any given day. We only have strawberries and rhubarb in the garden at this point, so the set table shows my rhubarb pudding cake with fresh strawberries on top. I had a dinner this week with roast pork, mashed potatoes, and boiled carrots. I had leftovers of everything so I put them in a pie crust with some fried onions and made a shepherd’s pie for dinner the next day. On Friday, I invited my carpoolers for afternoon tea, so I decided to go the extra mile and make cinnamon buns. They are a bit of a fiddle because you have to make the sponge, then let them rise twice before baking. Not to mention the kneading…I just got them baked in time so they were warm. Needless to say, they were well received. I have also included a couple of pics of the hearth as things are baking in the bake kettle. Fire is hard to photograph because it’s beauty is in the licking flames.

Rhubarb Pudding Cake Recipe
Cake:
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 cup finely chopped rhubarb
1/2 tsp vanilla
Sauce:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Blend butter and sugar. Sift in flour and baking powder alternately with milk. Stir in rhubarb and vanilla. Put in greased 8 inch pan. Combine sauce ingredients and pour on top. Bake 30 minutes or until cake tests done. For a regular oven, 350 degrees should be about right.
This is like a French Canadian Pudding Chomeur. The sauce sinks through the cake as it bakes and becomes a sauce on the bottom, then you invert it to serve.

On a personal, proud mum front, my son Jacob just graduated with high honours from Engineering Science at U of Toronto.

Merry Christmas, Barbara

img_20161223_190338
Heather is working on the minature train for Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village. We took Jacob down on Thursday and hung out. Al and I had gone a week or so ago and Santa Dave was not too busy so we visited him.img_20161211_190640
I have been going to town on Santa hats lately and here is the result:

From left Jake, me, Mum, Alan and Heather

From left Jake, me, Mum, Alan and Heather


Individual hats:

And the Christmas season starts, Barbara

One hat…four sentiments


When I was thinking about doing this hat, I texted both of my kids and said “do you think f… xmas would be too much on a hat”. Within 15 seconds, Heather had responded with “nothing is too much…go big or go home” and Jacob had responded with “can I have the hat?”. His dad took him the hat on the weekend and was supposed to take a photo for this post. He, of course, forgot. I just asked Jake if he had the hat on him and could he send a selfie for the post. This is what I got:

my baby boy....thanks for the selfie....now where is your hat?

my baby boy….thanks for the selfie….now where is your hat?

For the knitters: This is a reversible hat which uses two stitches, Houndstooth Check, pg 90 and Shadow Check, pg 103. I put positive Christmas phrases on one side and much less positive phrases when you turn it inside out. Barbara Walker illustrated both sides of the shadow check together in the book. It is a lovely, bulky but not stiff stitch that works really well for a reversible hat. I cast on 100 stitches with a long tail cast on (n.b.110 may have been better), and did one row of purl before switching to knit for the lettering. I worked my way through the Bah! Humbug and F… Xmas side, putting Houndstooth Check in between the sets of lettering. I did one row of plain knit in red when I was finished. I then picked up a set of stitches from the cast on edge and worked my way up the nicer sentiments. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the how the Houndstooth looked, so I just did a checkerboard instead on the second side. I put a knit row in red above this side too before I joined the two sides together. This avoids having the white purl bumps on one side. I continued up the hat in the shadow check. I used 5 points of decrease. I decreased 10 stitches around (slip one, k2tog, psso 5 times around) on every 6 row repeat until I only had 10 stitches left, then did k2tog around and finished off.

I made some shoes…

Made in the Oxford class at Art and Sole Academy, Toronto

Made in the Oxford class at Art and Sole Academy, Toronto

I am quite intrigued by shoes and shoemaking. We have a shoemaker at Upper Canada Village, but I have rarely visited his building. The way our breaks work, there is precious little time to visit other buildings, so you would have to go down on your days off to see anything. I hadn’t been in the woollen mill before I started in there. I had only cleaned and put the tenant farm to bed for the winter, never visited it while it was being interpreted, before I became a cook. The shoemaker before Peter, the current one (who started a decade ago with me), was a woman. She had to dress in drag because it wasn’t really a woman’s thing in the 1860s apparently.

I am a sucker for craft classes and I found one at the Art and Sole Academy in Toronto. The woman who runs it is excellent. She keeps the class size down to 4 people so she can guide everyone through the process of drafting your pattern and creating your shoes. Because I am me, I decided to make a non pair, so they are mirror images of each other. I need to find a grey shoelace for the one shoe, but she didn’t have any and I am not a shopper by any stretch of the imagination, so for now the beige will have to do.

I think they worked out pretty well for a first effort. I am going to take another class in the new year called Classic Flats. I am in the market for shoe lasts right now.

Beautiful Berat, Albania

IMG_20160408_090044We spent two nights in Berat. It is a unesco world heritage site. With two beautiful old neighbourhoods on hills on opposite sides of the river.IMG_20160409_125612This is a shot of the neighbourhood we stayed in, Gorica. We stayed at a hostel called Berat Backpackers that wasn’t officially open yet. The owner was a really nice Brit who was very accomodating and a wealth of information. I would recommend both the city and the hostel to anyone.IMG_20160409_111440High on a hill above the city is a great castle with a whole neighbourhood inside the keep.IMG_20160409_120522IMG_20160409_122206IMG_20160409_120928…you get the idea.

A couple of hats, Barbara

IMG_20160401_075441I have done a couple of hats since I posted the other one. This chinese lady liked this one so I gave it to her. IMG_20160401_075232I cast on 96 stitches and did Welted Leaf Pattern, pg.36, then increased to 116 for the Night and Day Stripe, pg 83. I went back to 96 stitches, did the Welted Leaf again, then decreased 12 stitches every 3rd row to 12 stitches, kept knitting 2 together and ended the 6.IMG_20160401_075354
The other hat started with 96 stitches and the X and Diamond Border, pg 36. I then did Jacob’s Ladder, pg. 33 and Halved Diamond Pattern, pg. 34.IMG_20160401_075259
I did 4 double decreases every other rowIMG_20160401_075331