Monday, February 28, 2011

Snowy Vancouver

I live in Vancouver and we generally get lots and lots of rain over the winter. We get very little snow.

This year is very different. I heard it is due to El Nina. While I was away in Kenya in November, a Vancouver friend told me that snow had fallen shortly after I departed on my journey.  I think it was November 17th or thereabouts. That is extremely early snowfall for us in Vancouver.  The snow didn't last but it has snowed several times throughout the winter. Of course this is unusual too.

I was out this past Friday for a walk and we had another fantastic snowfall which I was able to capture as I had my digital camera with me.  You can't really tell from but there was quite a bit of snow on the ground after snowing for several hours.  We are expecting more snow this week.

I heard on the news that the local ski slopes will have great skiing well into April. I don't ski so that doesn't thrill me but I know it makes skiers happy and if the snow remains on the slopes that's fine with me.

I don't mind the snow so much especially if it isn't wet and mushy.  Wet and mushy snow makes a problem for proper footwear to keep your feet dry and warm.  Some people here wear colourful galoshes or rubber boots but I've never liked to wear them  myself and I don't think they can keep your feet warm unless you wear thick socks. 

If there is a lot of snow I do worry about the elderly people and the disabled.  Or anyone who has a harder time getting around even with a mobility aid. Walkers and wheelchairs can get stuck in the snow and make it harder for people to cope.

Another problem is that it should be warmer indoors than it is outside. At my place it is always cold and the electricity costs are very high. I do wear long sleeves plus a sweater, plus socks and wool lined slippers and then I still have to cover up.  Some of the newer homes in Vancouver are not made for cold weather that is for sure.

I stayed out until after dark and took this photo of the snow falling as I sat and looked up. I thought it was very pretty. I don't like cold weather and too much snow and ice for very long but I do think they make pretty pictures *wink.

One more for the road and the photo album, lol

I hope you enjoyed this short tour of my world.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Happenings

Today was a bit of a lazy day. With the cold weather and snow we've been having, I'm finding myself cold, even indoors and not up to doing a whole lot.  I'm only just over my cold but not back to normal routines and I have a busy week ahead.

I did some relaxing and a little laundry, tried to read my book, The Girl With a Pearl Earring and watched the Oscars with one eye though I missed all the key award presentations, lol. I got busy making a lentil concoction and some bread for dinner, as well as some blueberry muffins for breakfast.

This pot is filled with about 3 cups of lentils and twice the water and some sea salt.  Once this mixture boiled and the lentils were softening, I  added: one peeled and chopped sweet potato, several leaves of chopped kale, 6 chopped roma tomatoes, one half of a large red onion (chopped) and a big spoon of aged miso (probably about 4 tbsp.) for flavouring.  I cooked this all down until the water was all evaporated and the lentils were nice and soft.  This dish was accompanied by a ground beef/red onion and soy sauce dish, a side of brown rice and some bannock bread.  This was all very tasty and filling and hit the spot on a cold day. For a change there are lots of leftover lentils and rice to eat through the week. I've also frozen some lentils.

I also made these jumbo blueberry muffins for breakfast.  I guess blueberries count as being blue ;-) I've made these before and you can find the recipe here.  Sorry there is no longer a photo on the original post. It used to be on my hard drive but that was several computers ago!

I started another cleanse. I liked the one I tried in January.  Read about it here.  But I felt I needed a slightly longer cleanse and this one is for 30 days. This will spur me on to eat better also.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend and wish you a wonderful week ahead!

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nakuru National Park

Thank you to those of you who have been following my Kenya series and who have taken the time to comment. I've been enjoying presenting the information about Kenya as much as people seem to enjoy viewing the photos and hearing about the different sights and scenes.  At the bottom of this post you will find links to the other posts in this series on Kenya.

Today I have a real treat. I will be featuring the Nakuru National Park.  It will actually take me several posts to share with you everything I want to show you about this wonderful park.  It is particularly poignant for me to share this post now for I just learned that a huge fire broke out on Wednesday evening at the Lake Nakuru National Park and that it is not so easy to put out. In fact, I don't know whether it has been put out yet.  I am writing this post on Friday so I'm hoping the fire will be completely extinguished when it is posted on Saturday.

Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner Osman Warfa said the inferno had destroyed vegetation in more than 650 acres of the parkland consuming vegetation and parts of Europhobia forest.  Strong winds were fanning the blaze and spreading it quickly to the eastern side of the world renowned bird sanctuary. The Kenya Wildlife Service wardens and the Kenya army soldiers were battling to put out the fire. 

The park lies in Central Kenya, 140 km north-west of Nairobi, in Nakuru district, Rift Valley Province. The lake is surrounded mainly by wooded areas and bushy grasslands. The park supports a diversity of Flamingos (Greater and Lesser) and other water birds which are the main attractions of the area. However the ecosystem of the lake also consists of  about 56 different species of mammals, including the white rhino and buffaloes and a infinite variety of terrestrial birds, nearly 450 bird species in all.

The normally water-covered surface of the lake occupies about a third of the park. The lake water supports a dense bloom of the blue-green Cyanophyte Spirulina platensis from which it gets its colour and which is the major food source for the flamingoes.

The lake is fringed by alkaline swamps with areas of sedge, Cyprus laevigatus and typha marsh along the river inflows and springs. The surrounding areas support a dry transitional savanna with various types of grasslands. Elevated areas of the park are covered in dry forest and rocky hillsides.

There is a long and well tarmaced road leading into the park.

The grassy areas along the highway are well tended and provide park land for families and lovers to spend their free time in relaxation. Since these areas are outside of the park gates the people do not have to pay to sit and relax.

As we near the entrance gates to the park the green rooftops of various park buildings are in sight.

Before I go into the park I stop at the ladies restroom. I was very excited to see the restroom because it is so nice, clean and familiar. 

Anyone who has travelled to developing countries will know what I mean when I say the restrooms are familiar.  I am especially talking about the toilet. This one has a familiar seat rather than a hole in the floor.  Women in particular will appreciate not having to squat.

While we pay for our entrance, I survey the scene. A monkey climbed into the car above and "stole" the driver's lipstick.  She managed to get it back.

In the distance is the park restaurant. I didn't stop there as I had had lunch just before getting to the park.

A closer view of the restaurant.

We are now lining up to get into the park. The tourist in the green van had a monkey enter and try to "steal" things. I believe one of the tourists gave the monkey something to run off with.

This is the little office where you enter to pay the entrance fees and use the restrooms.

This is the michievous monkey that kept entering tourist cars and vans looking for things to take. You might see something red near his paws/hands. I believe that was the lipstick that he took from the woman in the gray car above.
Just past the gate and we see our first wild animal, a male waterbuck.

The Waterbuck looks so majestic. Look at it's liquid brown eyes staring at us.
Can you see the Waterbuck behind the fallen tree and Lake Nakuru in the distance just beyond the row of trees?
It's hard to pick favourites when it comes to wildlife but I have always loved the Zebra.

I love the way some animals can be just as curious as we humans. Here a Zebra checks me out.
If you click on this photo to enlarge it you might glimpse the flamingoes (more on them in a later post).
Here is a cute baby Zebra.

This Zebra was having a dust bath.

I'm  not sure what this antelope type is but you can see it is "hiding" behind the leafy bushes.  There are many kinds of antelope in the park.

Part of the fun of a safari is spotting the wildlife despite their camouflage.

Here we park for a bit overlooking the lake as we decide which direction to head in this vast park. More adventures to come!

Click here to read Part 1 in this series. It starts with my stopover in Nairobi, Kenya.
Click here to read Part 2 in this series in Kenya. It continues with my sojourn in Nairobi, Kenya.
Click here to read Part 3 in this series on Kenya where I stop to view a stunning lookout.
Click here to read Part 4 in this series on Kenya where I stop at Lake Elementeita.
Click here to read Part 5 in this series on Kenya where I talk about some hotels in Nakuru.
Click here to read Part 6 in this series on Kenya where I show you some tourist sites around Nakuru.
Click here to read Part 7 in this series on Kenya where I show you the Castle Without a Princess.
Click here to read Part 8 in this series on Kenya where I feature a collection of scenes from around Nakuru.

Scenic Sunday
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Sun Sets on Another Day

O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8:9 (NASB)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Easy Diabetic Raisin & Oatmeal Cookies

When I get a craving for something sweet I used to go out and buy chocolate bars and be tempted to get other fattening and sweet items at the same time. These days I'm trying to fill any cravings with made from scratch foods. In addition to the diabetic friendly chocolate chip cookies I made here, I've found this super easy raisin and oatmeal cookies. I hope you like them.

Recipe Ingredients:

  •  1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (OR 1/4 cup SPLENDA Brown Sugar Blend)
  •  1/4 cup margarine, softened 
  •  1 egg plus 1 egg white, lightly beaten 
  •  1 tablespoon thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla 
  •  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  •  2 teaspoons baking soda 
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt 
  •  1 1/2 cups uncooked quick oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Recipe Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350'F. Lightly coat cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Set it aside.

Beat sugar and margarine in large bowl. Add egg, egg white, apple juice concentrate, and vanilla; mix ingredients well. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix ingredients well. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. I was able to make 26 cookies out of this dough.

Modifications:  I didn't have any apple juice concentrate so I omitted these but added an equal part of water.  Initially I reported here that the dough was somewhat dry so I added more water until the dough was a bit sticky. I now realize that I misread the recipe mix. I forgot to add the additional egg white so that explains why my dough wasn't wet enough.  Review:  The cookies were good. Not too sweet and that is how I like it.  They were a bit on the dry side but not too bad. Next time I will measure more carefully and add the extra egg white and see if it makes a difference. I have a hunch that the margarine was not soft/melted enough but another attempt at this recipe will tell.

My roommate usually eats half a dozen cookies at a time every day until all the cookies are gone. I want to have cookies on hand for awhile so I don't have to keep baking them so this time I decided to make a second batch of chocolate chip cookies  so I could freeze some.  This time they turned out better because the dough wasn't nearly as dry so I didn't have to add any water this time.  This might have to do with using an extra large egg (more liquid in the egg) and the fact that I didn't add any nuts.

This recipe made 27 cookies. I think last time I made 30 cookies out of the same recipe.  My cookies are never that uniform in size or shape.  I can't be bothered with that unless perhaps I was sharing them with colleagues or giving them as gifts.
 By the way, do any of you know someone who has been on medication for diabetes type 2 and then had to start taking insulin injections? 

I have a friend who has had Type 2 diabetes for about 18 years. She has only been on metformin tablets to control it and now is being told she needs to start insulin injections. If you know of a  person in a similar situation, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ditchin' the Stitchin' - At Least for Now

Thank you to my newest follower Clavs. What an interesting user name.
I do hope you will enjoy the blog and that I will see you again soon :-)

I started this little project a week ago (over two weekends.....

I thought it was fairly close to finished when I featured the above photo on Wednesday. See post here.

It turns out there was still a fair bit of finishing to do. I didn't take photos of each stage of the process but there was the need to add to each sleeve as well as add a few rows of edgings about the neck and front.

After sleeves were added.

Then came the buttons and the ribbon.  Whew, I'm glad that little "baby" is done. Here is what it looks like.

After edgings, ribbons and buttons were added.  A few close ups are added below.

Sorry about the exposure on this one.
I also made this bonnet but I know I didn't make it right. Somewhere along the line I couldn't make sense of the pattern so I made the rest of it up. It didn't quite pan out. I've written to the pattern designer to see if she can help me with understanding her instructions. I'll  be interested in seeing if she will write me back as I've pointed out 4 problems (for me) in the pattern.
Here are the bonnet and the sweater together. It also comes with a  pattern for booties & trousers but at this point I don't have enough of this pink yarn to make the booties & trousers.  I don't like this yarn very much so likely won't use it again after I use up the blue, green & yellow stash I have.
Now I have a question for you. Someone I know has asked me how much I would want for this little sweater jacket.  I haven't a clue but I know that this person is usually very thrifty when it comes to paying for handcrafted items. In other words, she won't pay much.  I've done some research on the internet and this little item goes for anywhere from $40-$70 US, on Etsy and other internet shops. On Ebay the bidding is started at $30 US with the obvious hope that the final bid will be higher. On these sites the sweater generally sells as a set which includes a bonnet and a pair of booties.

Update:  I was able to get some clarifications from the pattern designer for this sweater and bonnet so I've corrected some of my errors and kept other modifications to make it my own.
Here is a back view of the bonnet.

Here is a front view of the bonnet. I've added the ribbon on the bottom edge.  I need to get a life size doll to model the bonnets and sweaters in future. I'll have to check out some thrift stores. I did check one already but didn't find anything other than stuff toys and one doll with a giant head.
I didn't make any crocheted changes to the sweater but I did move the ribbon up one row. I think it looks better this way as it doesn't cut off the sleeves and shortens the yoke so that it is more of a normal baby size.  You can see what I mean by comparing to the second photo from the top of this post.
This little sweater set is now ready to show my friend or to sell on Etsy.

  What would you pray for such a little set if you were buying it for a gift? 
I'll be looking forward to your answers.

Neighbourhood Street Scenes

Hello friends and fellow bloggers, I hope you are well today. These are photos I took on a recent walk in the neighbourhood. You can see the...