Thursday, February 05, 2015

Creating the Calm Cowl

Creating the Calm Cowl and really warm hats!

I took a little fall on Sunday and messed up my leg. I just kept ignoring the pain, until I couldn’t walk. It was such a bummer for me, I have been trying to hit at least 8ooo steps a day on my fitbit now I am only getting 2000 and that’s on crutches.  My husband is now way ahead of me in milage so once my leg is healed I am really going to have catch up.

All this down time has lead to some serious knitting and crocheting.   

The hat is from Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitting Without Tears" book, it's a really easy hat to knit, you cast on 91 stitches and knit until it's the desired length, then you mark off 7 decreases and decrease every other row. It knits up quickly and my husband really appreciates having a nice warm hat.  I knit it with Knitpicks wool of the Andes in a blue and am working a another in Patons Classic Wool Worsted in Grey Mix. Elizabeth's book recommends knitting two and then putting one inside the other so that's what I am working on now. The book is really no nonsense and straight forward.  I have a thing for hats, my son, Michael loves to wear hats so I am always looking for a new hat to make.  

A good view of the crown of the hat 

The brim rolls up on the hat

It's a quick and easy knit and using wool makes it nice and warm. I plan on making more of these in the near future.
This is my year to have all the children together for Christmas.  We are looking to rent a vacation home in Michigan for the festivities. It will be nice to have all the children together, they haven't been all together since Tricia's wedding.  Since that time we have added 3 new members to the family, 2 grand daughters and a a daughter-in-law  or as my mother-in-law likes to say a daughter-in-love. Tim will be home from his mission so we will really all be together!  I can't wait. I have managed to acquire a bit of yarn here in China so I will be making quite a bit of the presents this year.  I am working on photo books and knitted items. Should make for a fun Christmas, I love giving presents to my children that I have made, I spend the entire time making the gift thinking about the person I am making it for.

The first gift I have completed is the Calm Cowl    by indigoDot....., it is a free crochet pattern that I found on Ravelry, my favorite knitting site. It turned out beautifully.  Although it is not as full as it is in the pictures with the pattern.  I used a wonderful light green yarn that I acquired here in China, it has a nice drape and the single crochet, chain one stitch really shows off to an advantage with this yarn.  I also plan to make a hat to go with the cowl for the Christmas present.  I just downloaded the Hurricane Hat Pattern, also found on Ravelry.  I will be using #7 needles on a 16" circular to knit the hat.  I love these needles for knitting hats.  I first started using them for hats I knit for this past christmas. The Seedling Hat by Jen Lucas (cost of $5.50) looked difficult but was so easy to make. I ended up knitted 2 of them will probably make more.

Michael wearing his new hat!
as the hat is being blocked.

This one is made from left over yarn from a christmas stocking.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger.

We have had a trying time here in China recently.  But hopefully, that is all behind us and we can now move forward with our life here as we settle into our new apartment.

About a month ago, we were informed by my husband's company that we needed to move to Fuyang. We didn't want to move, we had been in our apartment for 2 years and were very comfortable.  I find that it takes a year to settle in to a comfortable routine whenever we move, so was very disappointed to have to begin again. The company insisted that we move, and then informed Dave that there wasn't really any apartments available in Fuyang and we would be much happier in the Villa. The Villa is used to house high ranking expats who are here in China without there partners, while they work in China.  David informed his company that he wasn't interested in living in a boarding house and he received assurances that it would be our home and they wouldn't have anyone stay there without our permission.  Dave figured that would work because he wasn't going to give anyone permission.  The other problem with the Villa was the housekeeper, she had a known record of treating any woman living there badly. David received the promise that if this occurred she wouldn't be there it was our call.

Well, we moved in, the Villa is a large concrete building. 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, large living room, large foyer, large kitchen, moderate dining room, three seasons room off the living room and a laundry room off the foyer. Because it hadn't been used as a home in the past, David purchased 9000 rmb worth of furniture so that it wouldn't seem like such a mausoleum. W moved in, and David went happily back to work, traveling and leaving me there.

Then the difficulties began, the villa is isolated, so there aren't any stores for purchasing food or water.  When we ran low on the water that Dave had purchased before he left, I asked the housekeeper for more and she said mayo (which means not available). Further, the only food she would make available was a fried squash dish, she used my chicken and then served it only partially cooked.  I ended up very sick from her cooking and had to refuse to eat any other offerings.  I watched her one day and discovered she didn't wash her vegetables before cooking and washed the dishes in cold water with no soap. There was a sterilizer there, but she never used it for the dishes, that explained why I was so sick.  When I refused to eat her food, she became very angry. She would do all kinds of things to make me miserable. Like remove all the cookware and dishes so I couldn't cook for myself or eat.  I did my best to ignore her but it became very difficult to do, she would scream at me in Chinese and slam doors, (I have the bruises to prove it) unfortunately my 10 month old grand daughter was visiting at the time. Ceci was so scared of this woman, I have to admit that I was as well, no one should have to live in fear.  She had keys to all the rooms and wouldn't hesitate to to use them even knowing we were in there and didn't want to be disturbed. When David returned he requested that we be allowed to move. The company agreed but now we are responsible for the expenses of living in China.

I put out a call to the Relief Society to help me find an apartment quickly and we were able to move the following weekend.

We had to pay the movers ourselves. We were required to pay our rent 1 year in advance, and we now need to purchase a car so that David can get back and forth to work. But it was worth it, we live in a beautiful apartment overlooking the river, one of my good friends lives just a few floors below so once again all is well. Of course, now begins all the work of making the apartment work for us.  We had a washer delivered but it won't drain etc... I am exhausted but at least I don't have to head off for work like David does every day. He is traveling today and he started out so tired.  Moral of the story is, if you have a good employee and you want him to be able to concentrate on he work, don't make him move twice in one month. Also, for me, never have a live in housekeeper.

I came a across a beautiful song that I had to share It's called Beautiful Heartbreak by Hilary Weeks. The video is beautiful. It captures exactly how I feel about the trials I have had in my life.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars
We have a granola group here in China, we get together and make various recipes. This past week we made “Playgroup Granola” from

But of course we had to make some changes to the original recipe.  One just because of China and second because of what we like to eat!

2 cups of Quick Oats (recipe called for rolled which I didn't have)

1/2 cup brown sugar (called for 3/4 cups of packed, seemed like a lot of sugar)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (3/4 teaspoon didn't seem like enough)
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon of salt
Generous helping of sunflower kernels (handful)
Almonds (roughly chopped) (2 handfuls)
1 cup Dried Cranberries 
1 handful of chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup of coconut oil (called for 1 cup of vegetable oil)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract. (called for 2 teaspoons)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees or 175 degrees C. Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. I used the trusty Crisco which always works wonderfully when greasing a pan.
In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts! Make a well in the center and put in the wet ingredients, then mix well until everything is wet.  Press into your greased pan and bake.  It took about 20 minutes for mine bars to brown on the edges.  Cut them as soon as you take them out of the oven, they will harden and then you won’t be able to cut them. Let them completely cool in the pan.  Seal in an air tight container, especially if you live in a place with high humidity like I do!. Enjoy!

We haven't found a source for wheat germ here yet, but it is ever on my mind when I am shopping. the dried cranberries give it a nice tart taste that contrasts with the chocolate beautifully. The recipe really doesn't need eggs. They turned out so good, I have already made a second batch. There work great for breakfast and my husband loves them.

The most freeing thing about living in China is realizing a recipe may call for something that I don't have and that's ok, what do I have and how will that work in the recipe.  So far, everything has been amazing. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Socks, Socks, and more Socks!

We were on summer vacation, I stopped into a yarn shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Easy Cable Socks by Diane Hall. They were very easy, mindless knitting.   I just needed something to keep me busy, while we traveled across America visiting family. If you are new to knitting socks or cables, this is a good one to begin with.

I made the socks for my friends, Sarah and Dawn.  They each had a birthday in August and deserved a wonderful present!  The teal ones were for Sarah (who loves this color!) The purple ones are for Dawn! It's always important to have good friends they make life so sweet!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Basic Bread Recipe

 The bread that you can purchase near our home is very sweet, almost like a sweet bread rather than the traditional bread I am use to.

Basic Bread Recipe - My friend, Kelly Dumas, taught me how to make an amazing wheat bread. But it isn't very practical for me, here in China. I don't have a wheat grinder and don't know where to purchase wheat to grind.  Coming across this recipe has been wonderful!  I make it every week now. It has been very helpful to have a good easy to mix by hand recipe.  It cooks up nicely every time I make it. I find that the dough rises better with the honey rather than the sugar. I feel it is important to proof the yeast.

Basic Bread Recipe
2 Teaspoons active-dry yeast
1 cup (8oz) warm water
2 Tablespoons (1 oz) butter (melted)
1 cup ( 8 oz ) milk - whole, 2% or skim
2 tablespoons white sugar or 1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cup (1 lb 9oz - 2 lbs 3 oz) flour
1-2 tablespoons vital wheat glutton
1-2 tablespoons dough enhancer

Place the yeast in the warm water with the sugar or honey dissolved. Let it stand for 5 minutes for prove the yeast.

Combine 1 cup of the flour, salt, vital wheat glutton, dough enhancer and add melted butter. Add the yeast mixture and the milk, (this works best when the milk is at room temperature. And use honey instead sugar).  Mix in the remaining flour until the dough sticks together. Then turn it out onto a floured board and add more flour until it becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl and let rise until double

Punch the dough down and shape into loaves,  place into greased loaf pans and let rise until it tops the edge of the pans, bake at 350 degrees or 170 c until golden brown and they sound hollow when you tap on the top.  Remove the loaves from the pans to wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

I recently watched an amazing video.  It is such a great time to be alive! The video is called "Your Potential, Your Privileges". I realized I haven't been living up to my privileges as I have gotten casual in my scripture reading. Instead of studying my scriptures, I had fallen into the trap of merely reading them. So I set a goal to study them instead!  To help me study regularly, I have begun sending my daily journal to my children. Below is an example of what I send.

29 Aug 2014

Today I read 1 Nephi chapters 6 & 7, I finally had the answers to a couple of questions that I have had for a long time.  When you children read “The Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites” series, remember when they talked about Nephi’s sisters and I wondered where the references were to the fact that Nephi had sisters?  In fact the Book of Mormon states: “he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.” (1 Nephi 2:5), so I always wondered where the author came up with the fact that Nephi had sisters. You guys all tried to convince me he did but I was unbelieving ( I apologize.) Here is a quote from Eratus Snow concerning this matter which I found in “The Book of Mormon Made Easier, Part 1, by David Ridges.

“The Prophet Joseph informed us that the record of Lehi, was contained on the 116 pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgement is given us in the first Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehis’ family, and Lehi’s sons married Ishmael’s daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis, which says: ‘And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the land’ Thus these descendants of Manasseh and ephraim grew together upon t his American continent...” Elder Erastus Snow (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot. 1854-86: 184)

I can’t explain how cool it is to me to have something concrete to base that on!

I had another questions that I have wondered about for a long time, the issue of the priesthood. What priesthood did they hold?  Again, David Ridge provided a quote that cleared that up for me.

The Nephites were descendants of Joseph. Lehi discovered this when reading the brass plates. He was a descendant of Manasseh, and Ishmael, who accompanied him with his family, was of the tribe of ephraim (Alma 10:3). Therefore there were no Levites who accompanied Lehi to the Western Hemisphere. Under these conditions the Nephites officiated by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood from the days of Lehi to the days of the appearance of our Savior among them.:

It is true that Nephi ‘consecrated Jacob and Joseph’ that they should be priests and teachers over the land of the Nephites, but the fact that plural terms priests and teachers were used indicates that this was not a reference to the definite office in the priesthood in either case, but it was a general assignment to teach, direct, and admonish the people. Otherwise the terms priest and teacher would have been given, in the singular…

From these and numerous other passages we learn that it was by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood that the Nephites administered from the time they left Jerusalem until the time of the coming of Jesus Christ” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:25-26)

Now knowing these two facts didn’t make or break my testimony but it did strengthen it, the Lord was aware of the questions I had concerning these matters and made it possible for me to find the answers. I was also struck by how the Lord prepared wives for the Lehi’s family. He has a plan we just need to follow it.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

My New Passion!

My friend, Dawn, came and spent the day last week and showed me how to use Photoshop!  And although I still have so very much to learn it is consuming my time.  I found the templates for these pages on Pinterest. I never just pin, I always go to the page where the pin is from, because so often I just find that it was a page full of advertising and no valuable content.  But these are amazing and so very easy for me to do. (Even as a beginner!)

It took me an entire day to do the three pages, and I didn't do anything for "B" yet due to the fact that my granddaughters don't have any brothers, and I am not quite up to changing the template yet.

The template was designed and shared by Holly, by clicking on her name it will take you to her blog so that you can download your own quiet book and begin working on it yourself! I am so grateful for talented people you are so willing to share their amazing talents with the rest of us.  It made creating these pages so easy for me.  I will try and add more as I get them done.  The template makes a 4x6 book perfect for my granddaughters to take to church with them.  Hopefully, it will help them to remember their family, as we are scattered all around the world!. when Holly created the book she used Smarshmallows, available from The Shabby Shoppe, which is a wonderful kit. the cost is $6.50 but well worth the money! I can see myself using it for other things! Living in China, I am so grateful for the internet, it allows me to still do some really great stuff for my family.  I hope that these will bless them for many years to come.  The Shabby Princess has some wonderful designs that are free as well and I recommend checking them out.  The one that is featured right now is a great back to school questionnaire. What a great way to record the changes as your child grows. My friend also recommended Summer Driggs for scrapbooking papers.  She has some wonderful things as well. I think digital scrapbooking is a great way to bring the family history to life for my grandchildren.

By the way,  I don't get any kickback from the owners of these website, I just found them useful in my foray into digital scrapbooking.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pie Crusts, Cowls, Sock Mania 8

When I was a young girl, my mom let me cook as much as I wanted.  She and my dad would encourage all my efforts.  There was only one dish that was so inedible that even our dogs wouldn't eat.  It was a seafood pasta. Aside from that dismal at seafood pasta, I was able to successfully navigate the world of home cooking.

One of the specialities that I developed was in making pies.  My dad loved pies and so he enthusiastically encouraged my practice. Years later I was astonished when during a cooking class at church the teacher kept commenting on how difficult it was to make a pie crust...I had never found it so.  Some key tools are essential though.  I use a pastry blender, a canvas pastry mat, a rolling pin and a good all vegetable shortening.  I must admit here that I am very partial to Crisco shortening and will only use another it there is no way to get my hands on Crisco.  The recipe is simple

2 cups flour
1 tsp of salt
2/3 cups shortening
4 tbsp cold water
 I measure the flour and salt into the bowl, cut in the shortening until its like little peas, using a folk I add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together to form a ball. I find the amount of water added depends on the weather and the climate (dry or humid).  I gather it up and roll it out on the canvas pastry mat. I try to only roll the dough once.  The more I handle the dough the tougher the dough gets.  I then line the pie pan (I prefer a glass pie pan versus metal or aluminum). It's pretty much never fail. The recipe yields enough dough for a double crust of a 9" pie. Although I like using this for a single crust pie as well, that way it provides a good base and the leftovers when sprinkled with sugar were a delightful snack for my children.