Autumn on the West Coast is sometimes cloaked in the dazzling shades of orange and yellow that you expect from the season.
But more often than not, like every other season, it's dressed in more shades of green than your eyes can see.
In autumn you breathe the cold in deeply and your lungs are filled with air that smells of fallen leaves as well as the darker, damper smells of moss and mushrooms . These are the magical forests of my childhood and I can't imagine a more beautiful setting for a fairy tale.
Inspired by Alicia, who's been holidaying in my neck of the woods, I decided to make Nanaimo Bars today. This is usually just a Christmas thing as they are truly the most calorie and fat dense food on earth, they mess up the kitchen and they are so tasty that you're guaranteed to eat too many and get a stomach ache, but after reading the post on Posie Gets Cozy I just had to have them and David didn't argue even though it meant he had to start his Sunday by going to the grocery store. Either it doesn't take much to get me thinking about Nanaimo Bars or Alicia has a lot of influence on me, since just last night I was
whining and complaining discussing with David that going to the gym isn't enough and I needed to start getting serious about saying no to the treats. I guess I'll start exercising my willpower after the Nanaimo Bars are gone. Maybe David should take some to work with him tomorrow. Extra points for him and less temptation for me...
The recipe for Nanaimo Bars comes from my Nanny. It was one of her specialties, and even though they're expensive and rather a pain to make, they truly are best homemade. The binder is her recipe book, which is the third thing I'd save in a fire after David and the cats. I love to look at her beautiful handwriting and remember opening this book and cooking with her. We always talked about organizing all the random slips of paper, cuttings from magazines and notes written on envelopes, but I'm glad we never got around to it.
4 squares semi sweet chocolate
I cup butter
4 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups graham wafer crumbs
2 cups fine coconut, unsweetened
Optional: 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup soft butter
9 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons Bird's Custard Powder
6 cups icing sugar
8 squares semi sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
Base: Melt butter and chocolate together then cool slightly. Stir in vanilla and eggs. Add graham crumbs, sugar and coconut and mix well to combine. Press firmly into a lightly greased 9 by 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 16 to 20 minutes. Chill until completely cold before adding the filling.
Filling: Combine butter, milk and custard powder. Using a hand mixer, blend in icing sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread evenly over cooled base and chill for 15 minutes.
Glaze: Melt butter and chocolate until smooth, pour over and spread to edges.
Note: The Nanaimo Bar in the photo is thicker than yours will be as I don't have a 9 by 13 pan and had to use a smaller one.
Another Note: Scoring the chocolate before it is completely set will make the bars easier to cut once they are completely firmed up.
David is actually from Nanaimo and he declares these the best Nanaimo Bars he's ever eaten. I asked him if where he's from they just call them "Bars" but he gave me that look and never answered.
I think I'm working on the gusset? I've acaccomplished the heel (with step by step instruction from my teacher) and once I get through the gusset I think we're heading straight to the toe and towards being finished. I've never been happier to have tiny feet. My poor finger hurt for the first couple of days from those pointy little needles and now it's just plain numb. I can't say socks are my favourite things to knit, but I'm determined to at least get through this pair and I'm glad I'm taking the class. Knitting in the round on two circular needles is definitely a technique I'll use again.
Two new skills went into this girl. I finally found instructions for yarn hair that made sense to me and after many, many tries I made a pattern for an item of softie clothing besides bloomers or a sack dress that actually fits. Yay! Adding shoulders to my softie pattern really helped the dress fit better and it just took trial and error (and error and error and error) and looking at some patterns for both human and doll sized clothes to help me figure out how things go together. I think both these new skills definitely have some potential.
Today I'm celebrating Thanksgiving (yes, we Canadians do it in October) eating a fabulous meal that I didn't have to cook and likely won't have to clean up after, surrounded by all the people I love and that right there is a lot to be thankful for. I hope that if you're celebrating you have a happy day and if you're not I hope this day brings you many things to be thankful for.
Musette is thankful for good hiding places, warm nights in front of the fireplace, chin scritches and cheese.
I've always been into monkeys. I suppose I probably had a sweet teddy bear or two as a girl, but my true companions were Curious George, a banana eating primate called Monkey or Bad Monkey depending on the day, a Basset Hound named Duffer and Whitey, the world's rudest rabbit puppet. Not a really cute bunch, but they had a lot of personality. I'll have to take some photos of the surviving members of the gang some day soon.The monkeys were always in trouble, Duffer was a melancholy sort and that obnoxious rabbit said all the things that a quiet and polite child like me never could. I still love monkeys - the cheekier the better - so it's a natural that I would try a softie monkey sooner or later. This one was inspired by the fabric I found at the thrift store which is a soft, almost flannel-like brown plaid that when paired with some corduroy just said "monkey" to me. The pattern is my own and I'm mostly pretty pleased with it. Unlike some of my earlier softies, this monkey can sit independently, which I like and he's quite pose-able. I think I'll tweak the pattern a bit and then put a couple of monkeys up on etsy. I'm thinking of adding snaps or some velcro so that he can hold a banana (which I'll also have to make a pattern for) or so that he can hang. The ability to hang is important to my concept of what makes a good monkey companion. One of my most vivid early childhood memories is of the weekend I left my monkeys with my Nanny so that she could babysit them. When I returned, she was very frazzled and told me that my bad monkeys had been nothing but trouble the whole time and she had a hilarious list of mischief that the monkeys had been up to. She said that she didn't even know where they were or what they were up to and that I should go look for them. After a search I finally found them hanging from the light fixture in the bedroom and I really believed that they had made it up there by themselves and I gave them a good talking-to. So hanging is an important skill for my monkeys to have so that maybe some grown-up will make a little magic for a child like my Nanny made for me.
I've said many times that I would never knit a pair of socks. NEVER. Tiny needles. Tiny yarn. Gussets? I don't even know what that word really means and it doesn't sound very friendly. Short rows? Heel turning? The stores are full of socks and even though few of them actually fit me because of my tiny hoof-like feet, I didn't think I'd ever want to MAKE socks. I'm a lazy knitter, I admit it. I can do most of the fancy stuff, but my favourite project is something with miles of stocking stitch in the round where you just knit knit knit and don't think at all. I've tried just about everything - lace, cables, intarsia, fair isle, textures, felting, straight, circular and in the round, but usually only once before I go back to a tube or rectangle of stocking stitch or ribbing. So this makes it seem very unlikely that I would sign up for a "socks on circulars" class at my local yarn shop. I told myself it was so that I could get out of the house and meet some creative people and learn to knit small things like softies and the tops of hats without the porcupine effect of usingdouble pointeds, but it's a SOCK CLASS after all, and what I'll be making is a pair of socks. With tiny yarn. On tiny needles. In front of other people. I've never knit in front of another knitter before - I have this fear that the class will be full of snooty super-knitters who already know how to do everything and will tell me that the way my Grandma taught me is all wrong and there will be eye-rolling and stifled laughter at how slow I am. Okay, I really know that all of that is extremely far-fetched and that none of it will actually happen, but I'm a person who always fantasizes about worst case scenarios before everything. I'm sure it will be good. I'm a confident (though admittedly slow) knitter who has knit with yarn and needles smaller than this before (on the neverending lace stole project which is stalled again), I'm usually good at learning new things and I like to meet new people.
Update: Some of those knitters are FAST, but none of them are snooty, I'm in the middle as far as skills go and the "knitting something round on 2 circulars" is an interesting and useful technique. I'll never make a hat with double pointed needles again. I need to finish the whole 7 inch shank of my sock for the next class and already my finger hurts from that pointy little needle...