Spring Time in Monet’s Gardens

I had the great fortune to been in Paris this week for a Columbia Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Institute focused on Digital Media and Literacy.  We were in class all day at the American School of Paris.

Student artwork at the American School of Paris

Student artwork at the American School of Paris

We wandered Paris during the evenings, and then worked on homework late into the night.  We were delighted with the spring temperatures and flowers.


Paris gave us an unseasonably warm week of sunshine and temps in the 70’s.  Getting out in the afternoon sun and walking 5-9 miles per day helped us beat the jet lag.


We enjoyed the architecture and the easy strolls along the Seine. On Tuesday the institute even hosted a ride on the Bateau Mouche. We had fun socializing and taking in the sights.


Of course, you can’t keep teachers away from book stores.


I enjoyed seeing so many Parisians out with their pets.


On Friday, I made a quick train trip to see Monet’s gardens in Giverny. They were bedecked in spring splendor.  Enjoy!


You can view my Giverny album by clicking this link.


A Valentine’s Day Bike Ride

I can’t remember the last time I rode my bike. It was probably in September before I was leveled by mycoplasma for 6-8 weeks.  In any case, it felt great to be with Kent and to be riding my bike today. The weather was perfect, sunny, breezy and cooler than usual.  Not cool; just cooler than usual.

Lots of other creatures seemed to agree that the weather was lovely.  I had lots of fun catching glimpses of the creatures below. None of the photos are mine. Hover over the photos for the credits.

First were the changeable lizards.  They are actually an interloper here in Singapore, pushing out the native green lizards.  Even so, I enjoy them. I occasionally catch a glimpse of them sunning on a tree or scampering across a sidewalk in my neighborhood.  Today, as we rode on a trail along a ridge, most of the trees sported a sunning lizard.











After we passed under the freeway and were on the trail between the greenhouse and the military base, I saw a flash of red in the jungle.  Perched on a tree was a common holdback. Or at least I think it was. I could only see the head and the breast, not the back.

Common Flameback , male (Dinopium javanense) - Flickr - Lip Kee

We often encounter long tailed macaques on the Mandai Park Connector.  Today they were aggressive.   It is mating season and we saw them loudly scolding children. They also chased Kent’s bike for a short distance. I rang my bike bell like crazy and they watched me intently but didn’t offer chase. I was more frightened one would dash erratically in front of me and we’d both get hurt.

Long-Tailed Macaque (7668280042)










As we rode out over the Seletar dam in the Upper Seletar Reservoir, there was a raptor riding the thermals far above the reservoir.  Unfortunately I couldn’t see it well enough to identify which raptor.

In the park by the dam we spotted a collared kingfisher on our way out and on our way back.  It was flying from the same spot each time. I wonder if it is nesting time for them.

Collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) - Flickr - Lip Kee

On our way home, we were on Mandai Road near the crematorium.  We heard a crashing on the hill across the street.  It was a wild board. We just glimpsed it before in slipped into denser vegetation. Back in January I was in a taxi on the BKE at night and saw one eating the plants in the embankment. Before this year I don’t know that I’ve seen them here in Singapore.

Chek Jawa Wetlands 47 - Wild Boars


In addition to these animals, there were many butterflies. Most common were the yellow ones, the orange ones and black ones with a greenish-yellow stripe.  However, I never had a clear enough view to identify them – just enjoyed them.

The entire ride was 10.75 miles.  We walked in smelling the Slow Cooker Creamy Tortellini, Spinach and Chicken soup.

No Bake Chocolate Bars

This great recipe has been making the rounds at work. I think it originally came from here. The first time I made the recipe as written except for using almonds instead of walnuts. It was fantastic. However, the bars were really addictive. That let me know the sugar level was too high.


I figured I could substitute cocoa instead of the chocolate chips which would cut out a bunch of the sugar. I did some research online and found if you’re going to substitute cocoa for dark chocolate chips, you need a certain ratio of oil or butter and sugar. Since this recipe already has honey and coconut oil I figured I would not need to add anything. Further research showed I needed about 20 tablespoons of cocoa to replace the 1.25 cups of dark chocolate chips.


I made them last night and they met my all of my requirements. They are as delicious as they were the first time, but the lower sugar makes them less addictive. They are rich, chocolatey and satisfying.

No Bake Chocolate Bars

2 c dry oats

1 c shredded coconut

1/2 c chopped walnuts or almonds

1 t vanilla extract

1 cup peanut butter – get the good stuff

1/2 c honey

1/2 cup coconut oil

20 T unsweetened cocoa.

My Directions

  1. Coarsely chop the almonds.
  2. In large food processor bowl combine oats, coconut, almonds. (Or mix by hand.I just like using the food processor.)
  3. On cooktop, melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil, stirring constantly.
  4. When melted, add in cocoa and vanilla.
  5. Add melted mixture to dry mixture.  Blend until mixed.
  6. Spread in 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ pan.
  7. Cool in refrigerator until set.

They aren’t pretty but they are quick, easy and delicious made with ingredients I usually have on hand. I can’t say how long they last in the refrigerator since we ate the first batch in 3 days. Here in Singapore I need to store them in the refrigerator to keep them firm.  Back in Minnesota they could probably sit on the counter and stay solid.

Here is the gratuitous photo of the cat who slept through the entire process.


K5, P1 for Me

Time to catch up on back projects.  I started this next pair in April 2015 and finished them in July in time to wear to work at the start of the new school year.


As per usual, I made them toe-up, two-at-a-time with a gusset and heel flap. The pattern is a simple k5, p1 ribbing.  I think that would be too wide for some colorways, but since is colorway has enough going on I think that gave it some focus.


The yarn is Fortissima Socka Cotton Color by Schoeller+Stahl.  The colorway is 6504.  The yarn is a fingering / 4 ply with 45% Cotton, 42% Wool, 13% Nylon.  Each skein is 392 meters / 100 grams.  I used maybe 2/3 of each skein.  The yarn feels like it will wear like iron.


I’ve worn them a few times. For this hot climate that amount of cotton does make them cooler, but they still feel like a wool sock, which I like.  I love that I can wear them with tan or blue slacks.

Heather’s Christmas Scarf

A number of years ago Heather was kind enough to make me some indoor session scarfs. I wore them out. This year, I decided to return the favor. The pattern I decided on was the Dream Weaver Luxury Scarf by Natalie Sapanaro.  The yarn it calls for is sequined beaded.I didn’t know that Heather would actually wear sequined scarves so I went with Moonshine by Juniper Moon Farm in colorway 108.  It is a worsted / 10 ply yarn made with  40% Alpaca, 40% Wool, 20% Silk.  The skein held 180 meters / 100 grams.  It is a lovely, drapey yarn.


The pattern is a simple two row with rest on the WS.  The pattern pulls the yarn so the scarf slants slightly on the bias. I liked that effect.


Despite how simple the pattern is, I managed to make numerous mistakes resulting in lots of frogging.  At one point, this straight scarf had a bend like an elbow in it.  Oops.  In any case, I am pleased with the finished product and Heather seems to be, which is most important.  Given how cold it is in Minnesota right now, I hope she is wearing it.


Kathy’s Christmas Socks

I started hitting the socks on June 8 and finished them just before Christmas in December. I think I’ve been knitting less this year than most years. Part of the problem maybe Facebook. In the past, I would knit while watching TV. Now I tend to scroll through Facebook while I watch TV. In any case, the long flight to Singapore in July  and in the long flight back to the US in time for Christmas gave me enough time to finish.


They are a simple K3, p1 pattern. I knit them toe up, two at a time.  The yarn is  Opal Memory by Zwerger Garn in colorway 2493.  I was worried that the socks were too big. I was thinking she had a size larger than she does. However, she was says they fit well and I really warm? Who could ask for more?

Ella and the Orchids

To ease the transition back to work, I came home from the grocery store today with an armload of orchids. I was not surprised this evening to capture this video on the dining room table. Batu usually just enjoys them, jumping up to sniff them delicately.  Ella’s enjoyment is a bit more physical.