Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Will this Matter in a Day? a Week? a Month? a Year from Now?

Tonight, with my daughter's help, I purchased a large pale pink album with plastic sleeves inside. I also purchased  two floral boxes, one medium sized, the other a little smaller. In these items will be placed papers and drawings and little bits and pieces of two little lives so that their mother can cherish them because that is all she has left.

Please consider, when you snap at your spouse, or become impatient with someone in a workplace, or even judge yourself harshly, will it matter in a day, or next week, or will you even think of or remember it next year. Life is just so incredibly precious. It can all go so horribly wrong in an instant and wouldn't you rather have wonderful memories and feel good about your last exchange with someone?

Please also be diligent with safety. Please check all of your smoke detectors and maintain your vehicles, and look both ways, and don't dive into the shallow end. Don't get into a car with someone who shouldn't be driving. Wear your helmet. Listen to your little voice.

As well, enjoy your life. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Make someone's day brighter. Buy yourself those shoes. Bend down and take the time to watch your little ones explore the anthill, or pick the flower. Then put the flower in a little glass of water in a cherished spot.

Monday, 11 June 2018

glorious compost

I wrote this yesterday:

I've just come in from being out in the garden for a couple of hours. I always get my vegetable garden in relatively late compared to others due to this being a very busy work time for me every year. I drove around to two different garden centres, disappointed to find they had no four packs of tomatoes. Not even a sad little zucchini plant, either. I did pick up seed potatoes and onion sets and some bean, pea, beet, and lettuce seeds. I ended up in our little village at the family run greenhouse to discover they did have plenty of tomato plants left and some peppers and (yay!) zucchinis!

I also picked up six bags of composted cow manure. I'm never sure which to buy: cow or sheep. I went for the larger animal this time. They were the same price anyway.

I had already hand dug my "increasingly smaller" vegetable garden, but it was time to rototill. My husband had unearthed my best friend, the rear-tine tiller, from the shed (past car parts and an actual car - well, a project car, perhaps we could call it a potential car...) .

You might think he is a lazy sod who doesn't do gardening work for his wife, but I prefer to do it myself. Gardening is my main form of exercise in nice weather and I get an incredible sense of exhausted accomplishment from doing 99% of the work myself. The rare time I will ask him to build something I need, or perhaps dig if I've hit an unmoveable rock (which happens more times than you think) or the ground is the consistency of dried cement). I ripped open and shook out the composted manure on my garden and tilled it in. This is the first year the tiller didn't get caught up on a big rock and proceed to dig itself to China. I take that as a good sign.

Then I felt the need to dig the twitch grass from around the front, open side of the composter. It looked ugly - and yes, I ridiculously care what my compost container looks like. I discovered that there was some pretty nice compost in there. So I grabbed a couple of big round bins and dug the fresh contributions off the top. I would save those to put in once I had taken all of the well-composted mixture out. Would you believe I had almost two full wheel barrows of lovely rich dark compost. I tipped that on my garden and raked it through. Every once in a while I had to stand in the shade of a tree and pant like a dog. Not that I'm complaining about the heat, but it is tiring work.

Once I emptied almost all of the compost out of the container (made from three pallets by my kids under my direction), I put back the two big bins of fresh material so that it could continue the process. I have high hopes for my little garden this year. (Oh, and for the benefit of any readers from "across the pond", we Canadians call a garden the actual piece of soil in which flowers, vegetables, or shrubs grow. The rest of the area we call our yard. Front yard, back yard, side yard... Sometimes we might call it a bed e.g. a perennial bed or an asparagus bed.)

I must now get busy with supper preparations. I've ripped off a few more rhubarb stalks. Dessert for tonight in some form or another. I may take some stalks to work for anyone who wants them. There's no way I'll use it all or need to freeze it all. It's roast chicken breast and a quinoa salad tonight.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Car Show Day

Yesterday was almost perfect, if that's possible. We hadn't been out doing something fun for I don't know how long - long over due for many reasons. My husband has a love of cars and has had since he was young. He loves British cars and currently drives an older model Jaguar. I personally just love vehicles that go, and prefer to be higher off the ground which is handy when driving through our six to seven months of winter. He loves car shows and especially loves British car shows. I love to be out in my garden, but we each do things that make the other happy, so it was off to a British car show together yesterday.

The location was about an hour away from us and the route was a nice one. On the way there, we met these guys.

They were just tiny. We hoped Mama Raccoon was close by, ready to give the signal that it was safe.

The location of the car show was a "village" built around ski hills. Here is what ski hills look like in the summer.

Can you see the treeless strips on the side of the hill, past the houses? Husband and I are not skiers, but both our kids have skied here before.

The car show itself was set up in the middle of the "downtown" core of this ski village. We drove past some gorgeous condos and homes set inside the village. There are also hotels and convention centers and many rental places. All of it was neatly kept and very impressive.

In this picture, you can see some of the cars brought for the show, as well as some stores with rental accommodations above and an outdoor patio of a restaurant. You can also see the big long slope on which people were walking up and down the side of the hill. In the summer months, there are tons of mountain bikers who ride down the side of the ski hills on trails. As well, there is also a track you can ride down in little sled-like cars, and a zipline.

As I said earlier, I'm not the car fanatic in our family and car shows can be pretty deadly after the first fifteen minutes of walking around, but this one yesterday was wonderful. I could walk around and look at the shops. There were so many people that people watching could have gone on all day. (And dog watching because a vast number of people brought their dogs). We ended up parked right beside a beautiful car (an Aston Martin) and a lot of people were attracted to it, so I was always entertained.

There are many shops and restaurants.

There was even live music. These guys were great, played a range of music, and had a sense of humour.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of lunch. We ate at a brew master restaurant that featured a huge amount of craft beers which is a big thing now. My meal was a falafel burger that was to die for, but so huge (and tall) that it was difficult just holding it and eating it so that parts of it didn't slide out. Even the fries were excellent. The big glass of beer went down well on the hot day that was yesterday.

We also got a text from dear friends who we haven't seen in a while asking if we wanted to come for a visit later, which we did, and it was so good to see them again and have great conversation and a walk around the property. We ended up on their covered back porch each choosing songs from our "youth" to listen to on their newly purchased big Bluetooth speaker they had set up outside (They, like us, are in a very rural setting, so no worries about bothering the neighbours).

Are there any other "long suffering" wives of car guys out there? Although, yesterday didn't involve much suffering in such a lovely surrounding.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Feathers and Flowers

We have lovely neighbours down the road in our little village who have a collection of interesting birds. His name is Lorne and he has wonderful, large enclosures where he keeps very special care of doves and pheasants and guinea fowl and peacocks. He has also had a beautiful old fashioned pair of turkeys and some quail. These are the neighbours from whom we obtained our two runner ducks. They met untimely ends, those runner ducks, but they were very interesting while we had them.

My daughter and her boyfriend went for a walk the other evening, while it was still light, and stopped into say hello. Betty knew who she was right away, but it had been years since Lorne had seen our daughter. When he realized who she was, he invited both her and her boyfriend to come back and see all of his wonderful creatures. His peacocks are in their mating season (we know, we can hear their calls from our house). The gorgeous white peacock had knocked off a few feathers, so our daughter came home with four of them.

Here are some pictures of Scooter-the-cat-with-no-tail enjoying a very unique cat toy!

I wonder if he was thinking, "I wouldn't mind a shot at the rest of this bird!"

And now, in celebration of the fact that only about one month and five days ago we had snow, here are some blooms from my home. A periwinkle blue centaurea and a purple iris with beautiful yellow centres.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Recipe for Rhubarb

Hello all! I must say I'm proud to be part of a group of red wine with ice drinkers!! Cheers!

Now, onto recipes. I was asked if I could post the recipe for my strawberry / rhubarb crisp (or rhubarb / strawberry crisp, depending on what you like more!). I don't know how to do that fancy attachment business where you could print off a lovely copy of the recipe complete with nutrition facts, so here it is the old fashioned way:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter or margarine (it doesn't matter)
4 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb (could thaw it a bit and squeeze out the water if it's frozen)
aprx. 2 cups strawberries roughly chopped (fresh or frozen - again squeeze out a bit of water if it is thawing)

1 cup white sugar
2 tblsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients (flour, br. sugar, oats, cinn.) Cut in butter or margarine and combine with fingers to make it crumbly. Press half of this mixture into a large ungreased baking pan (9 inch).
Combine rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl and spoon over the pressed flour and oat mixture.

In saucepan, combine white sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the water and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes (it should be rather thick). Pour over the fruit. Sprinkle with remaining flour / oat mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for aprx. 1 hour. Nice served with ice cream, but fine on its own.

I hope all of my fellow Ontarians have enjoyed this beautiful blast of summer weather. The lilacs are in bloom and everything smells heavenly.

viburnum bush 

very pale purple lilacs

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Fifty-one captured in a snapshot

This picture tells the story of a fifty-one year old woman. A woman who swallowed her perimenopausal / menopausal supplement with a swig of wine after she used her reading glasses to read the instructions on the jar of curry paste. Sigh.

No, I am not being paid by the makers of promensil, and yes that's ice in my red wine because it is now summer.  I also managed to pull some sort of shoulder/chest muscle by weeding my garden.. I so enjoy middle age.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Ode to a Rhubarb Crisp

Tomorrow is pot luck Friday at work. Sometimes I participate, sometimes I don't. It isn't every Friday. In fact, I can't remember the last pot luck we had. I am participating in this one and I called dibs on bringing something with rhubarb in it.

I did not like rhubarb as a child. My mother made stewed rhubarb which is essentially boiled rhubarb that ends up being mushy and slightly stringy. We ate it warmed up. There was something about rhubarb that made my teeth feel funny. Does anyone know what I mean?

Now that I grow my own rhubarb from a plant that I bought years ago at our little local nursery, I have some favourite recipes. Tonight I baked a strawberry / rhubarb crisp. The strawberries are from my garden (frozen from last year, it's still too early for berries now) and the rhubarb I pulled from the corner of my garden.

There is something about the colours in rhubarb, that scrumptious combination of green and pomegranate red, that I just love. Combine that with beautiful red strawberries and you have a winning combination.

Is that not glorious?

Here is my crisp as it was being "built".

There is still a syrupy mixture to pour over top and a crumb topping made with flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter to add.

The finished product ready to be taken to work to share with my fantastic co-workers.

I have many white blossoms on my strawberry plants. I think it will be a good haul this year. I will freeze more rhubarb as well, so I can keep making this dessert frequently throughout the year.

I will not, however, be making stewed rhubarb.