Brouhaha’s guide to surviving the northern winter

What’s a girl to do when the temperature dips way below zero, the sun never shines and daylight only takes place for a few hours a day?

(Yes, yes, I know… it looks sorta pretty, actually. Well, let me tell you, the sight of me arriving at work with trousers splashed up and down with brown slush by passing cars is a damn site less than pretty!)

I realise there are all sorts of pioneer guides written by those far more experienced than I (Jack London and Susanna Moodie come to mind) – and I certainly don’t intend to go roughing it in the bush to figure out how to write a better one. So, please treat this as my Six-Point Plan for the Modern Crafting Pioneer.

1. Knit things that cover as much of your body as possible while knitting them.
When you live in a 55 year old building with a heating system that most likely predated the building, you learn very quickly to dress warmly inside. At least, you might. I prefer to dress as though I were heading to the beach in Hawaii, myself. So, it’s imperative that my knitting projects meet my need to stay warm.

Here’s a good example:Now, I cannot tell you how $#&*@($&*#@( sick I was of this project (the Nina shawl from the MDK book) when I took this photo. However, it does keep me warm.

2. Knit other cold-weather stuff.

At the present time, as usual, I have too many ideas/projects on the brain and too little time. Right now I’m making a sweater.

For the next project, I’m trying to decide between the Jess gansey sweater featured in the Winter 2007 IK mag:

(and yes, yes, I know – it has short sleeves. But it is not a cotton T-shirt, so give me a break already!) using this yarn:(the Rowan Calmer I bought for the Morrigan by Jenna Wilson, which I recently acknowledged that I will never actually make…sigh) and the Bespoke Jacket from No Sheep for You:

using CotLin in a few colours.

As a quick and easy project, I’ll also be making another Moebius scarf with this lovely Noro Silk Garden yarn:
I also have another project mission on the go, which leads me to:

3. Think Pink!


Now, I’m not ordinarily a pink sort of gal, but when hunting through the stash today I was surprised to learn that my Pink cup runneth over:

Which is a good thing, because it means that I am prepared to undertake the Freeform Pink Fragment Challenge posted by Jenny Dowde on one of my listserves today. Essentially, we’ve been asked to create some knit/crochet fragments out of pink yarn for future assembly into an art piece to be raffled off for a breast cancer charity. A venerable cause… ! And, just look at all this pink yarn!

If interested, by the way, check out the Freeformations group on Ravelry or contact me for more info. Also, there is a Freeformations yahoo group.

(I know, I’m cheating… there is one there that isn’t all pink. However, the pink in it is very shiny so I thought it should go into the mix. And, speaking of shiny things…)

4. Make sure that your surroundings are as bright and cheery as possible.

In this regard, while cleaning this past weekend I came across some odds and ends and assembled the following display:

The vases both came from the Goodwill some time back and cost about $3.00 each. The flower bouquets are from the dollar store and were left over from my Homage to Carmen Miranda. Aren’t they cute? (Oh – the flower in the middle was the place card holder at a friend’s wedding.)

5. Use extra lighting when needed to keep you sane.

This lamp was an antique/junk shop find from a couple of years back. It is Art Deco, but I got it for $20.00 because there is a crack in it somewhere. The vase to its left is from the Goodwill. This colour cheers me up immensely, I must say.

The candy stash (which you can see in the standing ashtray at the far left of the photo, with Werthers caramels having a place of honour at the far right) doesn’t hurt either. And on the general topic of nourishment…

6. Eat nourishing cold weather meals.

Now, I don’t know about you… but I spend much of the summer foraging for exotic treats to stash away to keep us going through the winter…

This means that on winter weekends when I am snowed in (or alternatively, when I am too lazy to get any further than the gas station up the street for smokes and chips), I don’t have to worry about coming up with something better than stale bread and olive oil for dinner (actually, I have become rather partial to stale bread and olive oil over the years, but JJ will insist on eating a hot meal… ! Ingrate.)

Particularly in the winter months, the item on the left below is the Modern Crafting Pioneer’s best friend.

This slow cooker gets a lot of use in these parts. It is pictured here with the ingredients for tonight’s dinner, which, as I type, is merrily bubbling away:

Kristina’s Desperation Lamb Mexi-Mediterranean Chili

1/2 kilo (1 lb) ground lamb (thanks, New Zealand! I love ya!)
1 large jar medium salsa leftover from a party this past autumn
1 small jar garlic tomato pizza sauce
1 can chick peas (I don’t like those red beans)
Frank’s hot sauce to taste
(not pictured)
juice of 1/2 orange
cumin powder (probably about 2 t.)
cinnamon powder (probably about 1 t.)
salt and pepper

Make sure the lamb is thawed. Throw everything into the slowcooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Serve with lots of crusty bread.
By the way, you may have read in some fancy cooking book or homemakers’ mag that you should brown all the meat, etc. before putting in the slowcooker for better flavour. I’m here to tell you I’ve tried dishes with and without browning, and there is NO difference in flavour at all. I shouldn’t have thought there would be, giving that you’re cooking the hell out of the dish in the slowcooker anyway! So, a time-saving tip from Brouhaha – more time to knit!!!

(Oh – you can also add the beer if you want to. The beer in the photo was intended for the chef, actually – left there from the cooking effort last night.)

Nothing to it, eh? So – anyone from the South, consider moving on up here next winter. It’s really not as brutal up here as we like to let on. At least not in Toronto… now the people of Winnipeg or Angus, I suspect, would be laughing at me were they bothering to read it!

And, upon sober second thought, it is kinda pretty after all!

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