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by the lakeside journal

weekending with viola and the moon

My sweet friends Eric and Ramona invited me to tag along on an adventure to visit Emily Foden's lovely studio space from Viola Yarns.  We packed a picnic lunch, our knitting and made the 2+ hour drive to Mooresburg, Ontario.  Time flies when you are laughing with friends and enjoying the beautiful country roads of Ontario.

Viola HQ was as picturesque as I had imagined and I may have revisited thoughts of a country life after walking into the general store turned home and studio.  

The colours were just perfection and something beautiful was hidden in every nook and cranny of the space.  This wall with socks was particularly stunning and Eric informed me that Emily has a great sock pattern which I have since purchased here.  Emily was such a kind and gracious host and really blew me away with her colours and yarn bases.  She will also be releasing a book ithis fall which I am now very anxious to get my hands on.

Surely, the rain helped add to the mood (knitter's always seem to love a bit of rain, don't they?)

This little yarn tasting station was also brilliant!

Careful thought was put into each of our baskets and we left anxious to start new projects.

We were quite pleased at our forethought to pack a picnic lunch and the rain did not stop us.  We found a conservation area nearby with a covered picnic area and pulled out all sorts of delicious food.  If it wasn't so chilly, we may have stayed a little longer to knit.

I really didn't plan on purchasing so much, but it was a rare opportunity to acquire her yarn (and sometimes friends can be very convincing). 

In the end I chose this gorgeous fingering in a peach colour way to make a new shawl.  And the muted green BFL on the right is going to be a sweater.  I may also have one special skein that Eric purchased for me for a hat. It is super special to me and I will share more on that soon.

If you ever have the chance to get your hands on Viola Yarns, I highly recommend you do.

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pizza adventures

If you have been following me for a very long time, you will know how much I love food (my first blog was mostly about food and cooking).  My love for feeding my family and food traditions around the kitchen table are really what fuel me.  And I'm pretty sure my cooking style is rooted in how I ate growing up (Italian dad + French Canadian mom = delicious).

Every Friday night, my mom would make homemade pizza along with either Italian sausages or chicken wings roasted in the oven and a big green salad.  It was expected every week and so delicious.  (I always loved the section she added anchovies, olives and peppers to).  When I got married and moved out, I kept this tradition and would toggle between making my own pizza dough in the food processor or pick up a dough at the local Italian bakery.  

Throughout the years, the Friday night routine came and went mostly because I've become a little tired of the dough.  It's been chewy and tough at times and recently replaced in our hearts by a local Italian restaurant with a traditional wood oven pizza.  I've been dreaming about a wood burning pizza oven in my backyard for years, but it's not the most practical for us.  

Then I heard about the baking steel.  I did a little research and ended up buying a version of it on amazon since shipping to Canada was a little pricey.  Oh my goodness, is it a game changer!  I already have stoneware and love it, but the steel seems to almost flash bake in a short amount of time.  You preheat the steel in the oven at 500 degrees for an hour, then slide your pizza in using a pizza peel, bake a few minutes, then switch to the broiler to get a nice bubbly top.  

I found some great dough recipes online and have tried a few, but this one here is most definitely our favourite!  It's a no-knead version and super easy to make!  It can be rolled out quite thin (how we like it) but bubbles up nicely around the edges. It also uses bread flour (and not all purpose) which may contribute to the perfect crust.

I like using a simple tomato passata for the sauce and make one pizza each for everyone in the house, with whatever toppings they like.

Here are the things I picked up, in case you'd like to give it a try too.  (This is not sponsored, I just wanted to share some of the tools I found that are making all the difference to me.)

Baking Steel

Pizza Peel

Digital Scale

If you like making pizza at home, I hope this helps.  Bon appetite!



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around here :: june edition

I'm not quite sure what happened to May, it seemed to drag on forever and pass quickly at the same time.  We've had a few changes in our daily life around here... a new summer soccer schedule for James and a totally new schedule for Glen.  Throw in a hectic month of school team meetings for my high schooler and a last minute decision to reorganize the house (again), and I have been busy.  

Knitting and podcasting time has been very minimal and I have mostly been working on a beautiful test knit for my friend Tracie of the Grocery Girls podcast.  I am almost done the first sock and loving every moment.  I will be sure to update you more on it when the pattern is released!

After my last shop update I decided to make some changes to the way I work.  I have been redesigning a new website and planning to transfer my etsy shop over to the website.  It's been a lot of admin work but I am excited to make the change for a while now.

In my little studio, there have been lots of changes.  I put in more Ikea shelves to help with the piles of fabric and bags.  It's cleaned up a really messy corner and makes me feel calm.

And meet Edna, a new industrial sewing machine that has found its' place in another corner.  I've named her Edna after my favourite character from the Incredibles movie and think she will also help increase productivity around here.

I am in love!  And see those project bags to the left?  They are dream knitting projects that are piling up and I can't wait to cast on.

Of course, this studio cleanup sparked a need to purge and organize so many other spaces in our home.  It seems every time I pull out the contents of one closet or organize one room, it sets off a whole other area to clean up.

I feel like I am nesting in preparation for a really simple summer with the boys.  Streamlining work in the shop should allow me to stay on top of things while enjoying more knitting (which is a big goal for me right now) and spending more time just hanging out with 2 of my favourite people.  What are your summer plans?

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start as you mean to end

I have had a few blogs over the years, and after thinking about this wonderful quote I went to find a post I wrote back in 2009 and thought I would repeat it here ...

glen's late nana used to tell me 'start as you mean to end'. I was 16 years old at the time, and i really didn't understand the meaning behind it. she would repeat it occasionally through the years, but it wasn't until i was married that it truly resonated with me. 

 being a mom has led me to new interpretations of it. specifically with how i start my day. now that i am home and caring for the boys all day, i find myself easily distracted and without focus. if i haven't accomplished much by lunchtime, i feel that my day is lost. and there is usually no getting it back at that point.

 but if i start my day with unloading the dishwasher, clearing the kitchen counters and perhaps even a plan for dinner that night, then things are much different. if the toys are in their place (reasonably so, at least), then i think more clearly. if i manage some of this early in my day, i find myself able to spend more time with the boys reading and playing and maybe even spare some moments of quiet alone time with my coffee.

all this being said, i am not sure why those days of starting off poorly creep in. today, i had one of those days and i can just hear nana with her thick scottish accent telling me 'sandra, start as you mean to end!' 

i wish she was here to see me finally get it. and also to remind me of it when i forget. because i'd rather the boys remember the days with me as being organized and calm, with as little stress as possible and with a mama who was really present. so, starting tomorrow, i will be starting the day as i mean to end it....with purpose and a clear head.

I found it so interesting that I wrote about it at a time when I was briefly a full time stay at home mom.  And while I am at home again now, it has become a constant reminder to me of how I want to approach my days with my family and my work.

Isn't it funny how you hear things when you need them most?

I hope your year is starting out as you mean it to end.  If not, don't forget that every morning is a fresh start.

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leather love

leather love

It is no secret that I love pouches.  I use my small patchwork ones for a variety of things in my handbag and they make me feel like I am more organized.

I've been thinking about making leather ones for quite awhile and finally managed to source some leather, the right zippers, purchase a new presser foot for my machine all to test one out this week.

 I am super happy with the results and with a few very minor tweaks and additions, I plan on making some for a future shop update.  I have ordered more supplies and will work on sewing more as soon as everything arrives.

This is what I consider a medium size which is just perfect to pop inside of a larger tote bag or use to run to the store with just the essentials on hand.  I have plans on making an even bigger one which could do double duty as a clutch or project bag.  I love the versatility of these, especially if you travel.

Stay tuned for more colours and sizes soon!   

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