Kouign Amann – A French Pastry

Pinch me! Am I in the middle of Paris? One taste of a delicious, buttery, flaky Kouign Amann at the Breadfarm Bakery in Bow Valley, Washington, convinced me I needed to find a recipe for this French pastry. The origin of this taste sensation started in the 1800s in Brittany, France. The Breton name means “cake-butter,” referring to the layers of butter and sugar folded into a yeast dough. Fresh fruit, chocolate, cinnamon, and coconut often fill many Kouign Amann pastries.


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Turn Island – A Washington State Marine Park

Boat camping in the San Juan Islands is a lot of fun! Toss a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking gear ashore and sleep under the stars beside the sea. Sound idyllic? It is—especially after sailing, paddling, or kayaking to your destination with family and friends. One summer, good sailing friends took pity on us when we had to leave our sailboat in a dusty boatyard to have its hull resealed. They invited us to sail to the islands aboard their twenty-foot Flicka. Without room for all four of us to sleep aboard, my husband and I pitched our backpacking tent on the beach. We experienced the best of both worlds and so can you!

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Sailing by Washington State’s Cactus Islands

Moisture sweeps in from the Pacific Ocean, tumbling down as rain or snow on the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Heavy clouds spill 12 to 14 feet of rain each year in the Hoh Rain Forest as they drift northeast before wringing another 18 to 20 inches over the San Juan Islands. Combining this weather pattern with the unique topography of the archipelago and a perfect climate exists for the Brittle Prickly Pear cactus to inhabit San Juan Island, Yellow Island, and the Cactus Islands.


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A Tea Trivia Quiz

One of my favorite restaurants to sip tea with family and friends is the Abbey Garden Tea Room in the Fairhaven area in Bellingham, Washington. Established in 1998, it is a contemporary, British-styled tea room with interior décor similar to The British Pantry in Seattle and the James Bay Tea Room in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Over 40 kinds of loose leaf teas are served alone or with savory and sweet menu items, so everyone may discover the tea they like best.

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Watching the World Float by–or Not–on Crane Island

A column titled “No Grief on a Reef” caught my eye. Two articles explained how to navigate a boat through Wasp Passage, the narrow channel separating the western tips of Orcas and Shaw islands, and Pole Pass. Both waterways skirt Crane Island, the largest of the Wasp Islands, and are heavily used by marine traffic. Several times each day Washington State ferries, an occasional tug with a log tow, and a myriad of pleasure boats transit Wasp Passage. Only smaller vessels thread their way through Pole Pass.


Washington State ferry

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Posey Island – An Easy Sea Kayak Adventure

Venture into the San Juan Islands by sea kayak for a few days and the inevitable question arises about where to camp overnight ashore. One favorite destination is Posey Island, a one-acre marine state park located north of Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. It’s a short one-half mile paddle to the tiny island known for its charm, occasional pod of Orca whales, spectacular sunsets over Vancouver Island, and wildflowers.

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An English “Ruched” Teapot Cozy Knitting Pattern

Tea cozies can be knitted, sewn, and quilted in a large variety of designs to match one’s individual taste and kitchen décor. A teapot with an accompanying tea cozy is a fabulous gift for family members and friends on special occasions. These gifts are a fun way to introduce the “uninitiated” to a new taste sensation. I’ve often filled the teapot with assorted teabags, wrapped the teapot in a colorful knitted cozy, and attached a note card to the handle with instructions on how to brew the tea. Sometimes I’ve added a cookbook of teatime recipes.


Today, I’d like to share an advanced ruched tea cozy pattern my English mother-in-law taught me. At the time, I was an inexperienced knitter. I made the mistake of learning how to read the pattern and practice knitting on a single afternoon a few weeks before my husband and I left for an extended summer sailing vacation around Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. I took along the yarn, the pattern, and—found I’d forgotten what she taught me!


The ruched pattern

About this time, we befriended a Canadian couple on a ketch named Race Passage. I met Lily, a fabulous knitter from Denmark. She crafted fancy sweaters with appliqued flowers on them, selling over 30 of them annually to raise funds for handicapped children. One afternoon, while the men explored our anchorage, we sipped tea together and knitted in their cockpit. She retaught me the pattern. Here is a photo of the teapot I keep aboard our sailboat and the tea cozy my mother-in-law knitted for us. Normally, I keep the teapot on a hot pad on the galley counter or salon dining table, because the top of the diesel stove is very hot. We use the stove to cook and heat our boat when we are at sea.


English Ruched Tea Cozy

Materials: 1 ½ oz. in gold and 1 oz. in white (or your choice of colors); 1 pair of #3 (US) or #10 (UK) knitting needles; a medium-sized crochet hook.
Measurement: Height, 7 ins.
Gauge: 5 sts. to 1 in.
Note: The wool is used double throughout. (I’ve used it single, but it’s best double.)

Using gold wool, cast on 53 sts. and work 3 rows in moss stitch.
Next row: p. Change to white.
Next row: k.
Next row. p.
Change to gold and work in pattern as follows:
1st row: k.
2nd row: p.
Rep. these 2 rows once more.
5th row: With white – * k. 3, drop the next st. down 4 rows, then k. the st. from the 5th row, together with the loops; rep. from * to the last st., k. 1.
6th row: With white, purl whole row. With gold, work 4 rows in stocking stitch.
11th row: With white –  k.1, * drop the next st. down 4 rows, then k. the st. from 5th row, together with the loops, k. 3; rep. from * to end.
12th row: With white, purl whole row.
These 12 rows form one pattern. Continue to rep. them until a 6th or 12th row. Break off white.
Next row: k. 2, * k. 2 tog., k. 1; rep. from * to end.
Next row: * p. 1, make 1, p. 2 tog.; rep. from * to end. Work 4 rows in moss stitch. Cast off.

Make another section in the same way. Press the moss stitch borders, then join the two sections together, leaving an opening at each side for spout and handle. With 4 strands of white wool crochet a 16-in. chain, thread this through holes, draw up and tie in a bow. Sew a tassel to each end of the chain.

I use washable wool.
Use the crochet hook to drop the stitch down 4 rows.
Moss Stitch: 1st row – Knit one, purl one. 2nd row – Purl one, knit one.
Stocking Stitch: Knit one row. Purl the next row.

I like to knit tea cozies, hats, scarves, and sweaters. What do you like to crochet or knit?



*This article first appeared on Stitches Thru Time Writers.

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Canoe Island – Parlez-vous Français?

Winter sailing? You betcha! Snowflakes, like feathers from heaven, fell from the sky and blanketed our sailboat anchored on the west side of Canoe Island. Imagine evergreen trees flocked in white and the island’s rocky shoreline fringed with frost. Seabirds call to one another in the quiet bay shared with Shaw Island, where one can row ashore to Shaw Island County Park and amble the beach. Our first visit to the San Juan Islands in the snow remains a fond memory. Breathtaking!

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Saddlebag Island – Camping, Crabbing & Kayaking

An impromptu invitation to go crabbing on the north side at Saddlebag Island by a fellow boater introduced us to his favorite seafood spot. I’m no crab lover, but I enjoyed the experience of traveling the Swinomish Channel past La Conner perched high on a Grand Banks powerboat’s flying bridge. You view the environs from a totally different perspective than from a sailboat at sea level. In the photo below, the flying bridge is stationed above the inside main cabin. Grab a seat behind the short tinted windshield adjacent to the antenna and you can steer the boat from outside. And when not underway, it’s a great spot to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine!


Grand Banks trawler

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Have a Crumpet and Tea

One wedding anniversary I’ll never forget. On a beautiful summer day, my husband and I set sail aboard the SS Princess Marguerite II, a 1948 Scottish-built steamship owned by the B.C. Steamship Company, taking tourists from Seattle, Washington to Victoria, BC, Canada. We didn’t partake of crumpets and tea while cruising at 23 knots on the 373-ft. ship, but we did enjoy exploring the elegant wood-paneled cabin and wide promenade decks.


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