Sunday, 20 January 2013

January Joy - Indoor Fun

The best part of winter is the chance to stay indoors without feeling guilty about all those outside chores you ought to be attending to.

I have completed the first of my new designs for necklaces.  I have called it Winter Dove.  All pale blue and creamy white it reminds me of our doves at the feeder during the long winter months.  They prefer to stay on the ground and eat the seeds the cardinals and chickadees knock down from the hanging feeders.  There is a quiet cooperation in winter, all the animals accept one another.  On a cold day a wild rabbit will often visit the base of the feeder to pick up any peanuts or suet the birds have missed and the blue jays wait their turn at the heated bird bath, for once showing some manners.

Winter Dove

I have been studying Portuguese every day, an hour or two in the morning and an hour's review in the evening.  I'm using the Rosetta Stone CDs, which are quite wonderful. I have developed quite the vocabulary.  I can't wait until we visit Portugal again so that I can practice speaking with real people. Although I am normally quiet shy for some reason when I am learning a language I seem to be able the set that aside. The first thing I teach myself are a few phrases such as "I am learning Portuguese (French, Spanish) so please excuse my mistakes."  and "Please correct my mistakes I am trying to learn."  Most folks are thrilled to be able to help and so friendly that it just eliminates my normal shyness.

I have started sketching the next 2 necklaces, looking through my supplies, dipping into drawers and boxes to see what treasures lie forgotten that I can use in this series.  In the meantime I am making a couple of leather cuffs or wristbands from scraps of leather I've had sitting in a basket in the studio for months.  I love beading, stitching, embroidering and using the tiniest embellishments from my stash.  This one is a deep red, leather side out. 

I know the dogs would happily spend the afternoon in the hayfield, water up to their knees, chasing rabbits and exploring, but I am feeling warm and cozy and contented curled up on the sofa.  My list of things to enjoy in January doesn't include skating on the pond, or sledding, or walking through the snowy fields. I don't know where I first heard this remark but I love it, "My favourite winter sport is climbing on a plane headed south."

My Top 10  Things To Do in January

1. Get out my paper scraps and make a few Valentines cards for loved ones
2. Make clementine marmalade (see recipe below)
3. Take the afternoon off to watch a movie, complete with popcorn
5. Finish knitting the green socks I started before Christmas
6. Read a new book or three
7. Dig out my leather scraps and bead and embroider them to make leather wristlets
9. Invite friends over for a chocolate and wine tasting party. (read about that here)
10. Take a nap

At the moment there is a wild wind blowing outside.  My friend R. called to tell me that her neighbour's spruce tree fell on both her neigbhour's car and her own.  She had just gotten into the car when she heard a loud crack and saw the tree begin to fall.  She stretched herself out sideways on the front seat and although a large branch fell on her roof and engine she was able to wiggle out unharmed!

That's enough to keep me indoors for the rest of the month, but the dogs need walking twice a day, wind or no wind.  I'm hoping there won't be any cavorting in the creek, just a nice run in the hayfield and back home. Then I hope we can all agree on an hour by the woodstove, and maybe a little nap later on.

Cheater's Clementine Marmalade ( from Chatelaine Magazine)
Notes in italics are my additions.

8 seedless clementines (about 800 g or 1.6 pounds)
1/2 lemon (seeds removed)
2 cups white granulated sugar 9 (or 500 g or 1.6 pounds)

Remove stems from clementines and discard.
Wash fruit and pat dry with a clean dishtowel.
Cut clementines and lemon into quarters.

Fit your food processor with the grater attachment.

With the machine on high, push the fruit through the chute 4 or 6 pieces at a time.

Weigh the grated mixture on a scale.
Weigh out the same amount of sugar into a clean bowl, or work with the measurements above.

Transfer the fruit to a large wide saucepan.

Stir in the sugar.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.

 Cook until the sugar has completely melted, about 3 to 5 mins.

Pour the marmalade into clean sterilized glass jars.

Either cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks, or...

Using canning jars, attach the 2 piece lids and  process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Label your jars and keep in the pantry for up to 12 months.

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