Saturday, 18 November 2017

Think I could Make a Million?

If you read my blog, you know I'm not a "basher" of any sort, so this is not where I am going with this. But if you are alive and living with , or have lived with, a member of the male species you are already well aware that there is a clear and distinct difference with how men and women think, how they take on tasks, how they prioritize.

I always used to pride myself on being someone who could find things. Seriously, if someone dropped an item and couldn't find it, I was in there, hands and knees, finding it. (These days, I would need to grab my reading glasses for close inspection). If a form, or receipt, or bit of paperwork went missing, I was the locator, eventually holding up the offending article. A familiar call of , "Mom! I can't find my..." was taken care of by me.

Because of this super power of mine, I don't find the regular day to day locating of things like my keys before I leave the house, the newspaper on the porch, the half of a mouse on the back porch mat, a laundry basket in which to put dry clothes a difficult task. In fact, I can find all the necessary food to create supper, or a snack, or any meal. We have two refrigerators. The main one in the kitchen holds 90% of our food and the one out in the mudroom tends to be for extra bags of milk, beer, an extra container of strawberries because there was a sale on if you buy two, the bag of apples because it takes up too much space in the other fridge... The food that does not need refrigeration has a few other locations, but none of them are top secret or require a map to get to.

So why is it that my husband cannot find things in the fridge? One day when I was cutting up fresh veggies for lunches, I made some extra containers and left one in the fridge for my husband. I asked him later if he liked his veggies and he said he couldn't find them. Along with the obligatory eye roll, I joked if it was because I hadn't left them at eye-level in front of everything else in the fridge. And that's when it occurred to me how I am going to make my million dollars!

I present to you a rough mock up of... The Man Fridge.

The Man Fridge is wider than most regular refrigerators. The first key thing to note about The Man Fridge is that it is to be mounted on the wall at eye level. This must be determined first upon receiving the appliance by measuring the dominant male in the household and then adhered to strictly during installation. 

The Man Fridge consists of four clear glass doors so that the contents of the fridge can be seen from the outside. The glass doors are opened by using a remote!!! A lifetime supply of batteries is also worked into the purchase price. 

Now, here's the second key feature to The Man Fridge. It is only the depth of one large Costco size bottle (of olives that nobody wants, or Stubb's Barbecue sauce, purchased only because it is fun to say in a low-voiced, exaggerated way). It is crucial that The Man Fridge be a shallow depth because there can never be items placed behind any other item. They will never be found if placed behind other items. 

The third key feature of The Man Fridge is that it is self-cleaning. I haven't quite worked out the technical details on that yet, but leave it with me. 

As well, The Man Fridge has an internal sensor that lets the user know if there is a very small (i.e. three teaspoons) amount of milk left in the bag, or if it is the last piece of pizza, pie, cake, what have you, so that the dominant male can leave the milk bag exactly as is, or can consume the last piece of something without asking if anyone else wanted it.

The Man Fridge comes in a few different styles: industrial, retro, camo, pub, or embossed with favourite team or automotive logo. It always gets delivered to your home with no assembly required at a convenient time. (I am later editing this to add that my own dominant male thinks this is a fabulous idea and contributed the clear glass door feature to the overall design. )

And there you have it: my millions await.

Additional New Info:  I just read this post, including the comments, to my husband as he is making a mess on my glass top stove cooking his eggs (see, he is not useless in the kitchen). He wanted me to add another feature that ties in with the self-cleaning feature. He said there could be, along with purchase, a pre-scheduled person to come to your house every six weeks who will clean the fridge. At which point I just said to him that if I add that to the post, every woman who reads it will roll her eyes and say, "My god, he actually thinks that the fridge only gets cleaned every six weeks?!?!"
I rest my case. 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

November 11

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. We have been pretty lucky to have mild weather for the past two years on this day, but this year it is more typical. I always feel for the very elderly veterans that I see on tv attending special ceremonies huddled under wool blankets in wheelchairs, stoically putting up with cold, wet, windy weather. I suppose they've put up with much worse.

Here is what it looked like this morning:

Quintessentially Canadian shots of the pumpkins / jack o'lanterns and mums still on the porch for the first snowfall. As well, the outdoor furniture like this little wooden bistro set, still not put away in the shed for the season. As you can tell from the pawprints, our two cats are very much outdoor creatures who don't seem bothered by a bit of snow.

This snow won't last. The temperatures will be above freezing later this week, but it is a good kick in the behind to clean up the last few things outside that should have been dealt with already.

After a few hours out in the cold, Sammy has opted for something a bit more cozy.

See how we've chose décor to match him?

I went into town for the usual weekend shopping and wanted to take out some books at the library only to find that the library was closed for Remembrance Day. I guess I should have known that. Oh well, the books will still be there this week. I've taken to spending more time reading blogs and other computer activities in my downtime that I realized I haven't been lost in a good book for way too long. I need to find a few books to settle in with. I love mysteries, especially those set in England. I'm not much of a historical setting person (for mysteries anyway). I have several favourite authors, but you know how it is, you finish reading all of their books and they haven't quite finished their next one, so you don't know who to read now. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

As soon as I hit "publish" on this post, I'll be preparing a meatloaf. It's comfort food tonight, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, maybe carrots, a slice of whole grain bread, a glass of red. Perfect.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Netflix and British Series

Today was a day to just sit and do "nothing". I had a marathon session of getting work commitments done yesterday. I've been nursing a cold. To top it off, the weather was miserable. There was actually a tiny bout of lightning and thunder this afternoon. So, I got into something stretchy and decided to get into a new British series on Netflix.

I've thoroughly enjoyed other series: Midsomer Murders, Broadchurch, The Killing (this isn't a British one), Hinterland, Scott and Bailey, Shetland... I have loved all of these but probably The Killing and Broadchurch have been my favourites so far. One thing I love about series coming out of the U.K. is that the characters look like real people. Their faces show wrinkles and flaws, they have normal looking bodies, and their hair isn't perfect. None of their female leads are chasing the bad guy in four inch heels. I like how scenes are shot and how the actors act, but don't over-act.

I decided to start watching Wallander with Kenneth Branagh. I watched a few episodes and love it. I'll see it through to the end. Apart from putting through a load of laundry and hanging sweaters to dry, and making beef stir fry for supper, I did little else. It feels very decadent for me to not fill my time doing whatever needs doing, but I'm glad I did. I haven't had a day to just "do nothing" for a while now.

The clocks have all been set to the new time, as we "turned our clocks back" one hour this weekend. It is time to turn in, back to work tomorrow.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Sunday Night Catch Up

I feel like it has been a whirlwind two or three weeks. So here's what's been occupying my time and energy lately.

We were down one vehicle due to an unfortunate accident in a parking lot. (The "kids' car" got badly damaged while it was parked in a highschool parking lot - the insurance company declared it a write off, so it got taken away and we were paid what the car was "worth" which wasn't a whole lot). We decided to let the kids (and I say kids, but they are 17 and 21) use my vehicle which I've been driving forever and is still a reliable workhorse of a vehicle, and I would get something different and "new".

New doesn't mean new. New means different. We like other people to experience depreciation of brand new vehicles. I also prefer someone else to put the first scratch in the car, so it doesn't have to be me. For three (?) weekends now, my husband and I have been driving around going to various car dealerships looking for the right car for me. I like SUVs. We have brutal winters here and I like to be up off the road with four wheel drive below me. I wanted a slightly smaller SUV than I've been driving and was partial to Kia Sportage, or Kia Sorento. We just couldn't find the right combination of all wheel drive, the correct colour, heated seats (a deal breaker for me!) and price.

Again, I remind you, we do not live in a city where there are great numbers of car dealerships to search through. We drove a lot! In one way, it was kind of nice, just the husband and I. We'd eat out, chat a lot, look at cars, test drive some, it was kind of like dating, except more stressful because I really needed to get a new vehicle!! It has been exhausting for him, as he's been dealing with his own health problems, but that's a whole other story.

Anyway, finally, on Saturday, we drove to yet another town (maybe an hour and a bit away) because I had found a couple of vehicles on the website of a Toyota dealership that looked promising. I am now the proud owner of a Toyota Rav 4 that I will be picking up this Thursday (more driving). I'm very happy. It is a "limited" which means all the bells and whistles (leather seats, yay!!) and it was still in our price range. We do not spend big money on our vehicles but we have yet to buy a "lemon".

As well, I have  been working Monday to Friday as always with extra work commitments. I've had a long overdue dentist appointment and now have lovely clean teeth with no cavities. I FINALLY cleaned up my little vegetable garden and packed away stakes and tomato cages and dug out the last of the potatoes and thrown bean plants into the compost. I cut back more perennials and cleaned out the last pots and window boxes of their faded summer flowers. One cat has been treated for worms and probably fleas and I have to remember to take care of the other cat. That's the dilemma with cats who go outdoors. They hunt and get parasites, you treat them for said parasites, then they go out and hunt some more. Yechk!!

When I was cleaning out my garden, I discovered two lovely not-too-big zucchini, so I made a batch of my regular chocolate chip zucchini muffins for this week's lunches and snacks. I also made a ham for supper. We haven't had ham for quite some time and I'm planning on making split pea and ham soup with some of the leftovers. It's becoming home made soup time!

We have been very fortunate and have not had hard frosts or snow yet. Hallowe'en is in two days and there have been Hallowe'ens of the past that have been cold, snowy, rainy, mild, windy, any combination of those... We don't get a ton of trick or treaters, but some years we get a fair amount, especially if the weather isn't horrible, so I purchased some treats to be ready.

People at work dress up for Hallowe'en and I'm a bit of a straight laced party pooper, but this year I decided , why not? So I found a costume at Value Village which was not some kind of suggestive sexy vampire get up (why are they all like that???) and instead I'm going to be a giant banana (and no that wasn't meant to be suggestive in any way).

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated my mother-in-law's eightieth birthday. We took her out to dinner at a nice place in a nearby town and then brought her back home for cake. She is in a retirement home due to her dementia, but she's very healthy otherwise. Generally she is in good spirits, but maintains that people have been in her room and moved things around. This is a common theme. She wouldn't remember if she had put an item in a different spot, or even what she had in her room, so it might just be easier to believe that others are doing things. Being around someone with virtually no short term memory is a very good reminder to live your life NOW, not put things off, and not worry about the little things.

I've been watching Outlander on Sundays (Diana Gabaldon's novel). I've read her whole series and enjoy the tv shows, but some are quite borderline pornographic in spots and I always have the remote in my hand ready to switch to something else if my son should walk into the room. Not that I think he doesn't already know the whys and whereabouts of human sexuality, but more that he should say something along the lines of, "Mom!! What are you watching?!?!"

Well, there you have it. There's the Sunday night review. Have a great week, everyone.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Piano Lessons

I was mindlessly clicking around in Pinterest and an image of a piano lesson book came up. It took me way back to when I was a girl, taking piano lessons. We always had a piano in the house. It was an old Heintzman upright that came from my father's family, I believe.


This is not a picture of our actual piano, but in my mind it was something like this:

My lessons were once a week at Mrs. Rowe's house. My mother would drive me there and sit in a chair flipping through magazines while I would sit on the piano bench with Mrs. Rowe and pick away at the keys. She always smelled of coffee and her hair was black and white and wiry. I would choose little coloured foil stars to lick and glue on the pages in the lesson book when I had learned a piece.

I was not a very good piano student. I did not practise. Well, I did practise, usually the day before my lesson. I absolutely hated playing in front of other people. I would much rather play when nobody was around. When I was taking lessons (because yes, I quit, a disappointment to my musical father), I went through this series:

My piano teacher had many students and once a year, she would have a recital at the local United church. Oh dear lord, how I dreaded those recitals. Once, I got up to play my piece and partway through I forgot my notes and sat frozen on the bench until my piano teacher came and rescued me. Later, she regaled the crowd with a pounding rendition of "The Entertainer".

What I much preferred over taking lessons and preparing for piano exams was buying sheet music, or begging my mother to buy me sheet music for different pop music. I would wait until nobody was in the house, or at least busy doing something else, and then I would work my way through it (always preferably in a key with few sharps or flats) until I could (haltingly!) play it. I was not a particularly talented player. It did not flow out of me, but I was passable.

I loved this music! Do you remember the theme song from Hill Street Blues? I loved the tv show as well. I had a black and white cat named Cleo who would jump up on a nearby chair when I played the piano and meow incessantly. She was either complaining or accompanying. I'm not sure which.

I always wished I could play more easily. I had a friend in highschool who had perfect pitch (you could play any note on the piano without her looking and she could tell you what it was). She was also an incredible sight reader. She could sit down in front of any piece of music and with very little problem, play it flawlessly. I was friends with a guy in highschool who played by ear. He could hear any piece of music and then play it himself - absolutely amazing! I wonder whatever happened to him? I always thought he would become a talented studio musician who could play back up to anyone, in any style.

I had an aunt who lived in a different province (British Columbia), so I did not see her very often. When she did visit Ontario, there would inevitably be a gathering at a relative's house and Aunt Betty, drink on one end of the piano, cigarette propped up on an ashtray on the other, would pound away, playing chords while my father sang. I loved those times and admired what Aunt Betty could do, just play after somebody shouted out a request.

Several years after we were married and our kids were very little, I thought I wanted to take up piano again. We bought an old upright - very plain - not particularly well tuned and it sat in our living room. I dug out old music and even bought a couple of new books. It was fun, but still not something that came naturally. We kept the piano for a few years, then gave it away for free to someone who was willing to transport it out of the house. (Those old pianos weighed a ton!)

What about you? Did you take lessons? Did you have your own "Mrs. Rowe"? Do you still play?

Friday, 6 October 2017

Kind of the Anti-Martha

My husband and daughter came back to the house far too long after they left to quickly go into town and get the few things I needed for the Thanksgiving food tomorrow and Sunday. One of those things was a proper trifle bowl. None to be found. Not one in Walmart or Canadian Tire, and Home Hardware was closed. Once again, I remind you I live in "small town Ontario". No HomeSense, no Costco, no Pier One, no Stokes... the list goes on and on.

Because they felt badly about not being able to locate a trifle bowl, they chose a little something for me. It was a nice little surprise. I LOVE red in the kitchen and I have always loved little jugs and creamers.

Cute, huh? Now, for those of you that have been blogging for a while, you may know that this is a Ree Drummond piece (the Pioneer Woman). She started off with a blog. Yup, just a regular blog, but then it grew and turned into more of a cooking / food blog and then she took off like a house on fire and now she has a whole line of kitchen décor and items. They sell it here at Walmart. People, she started off with a blog.  We all started off with a blog. Do I see myself being able to grow and expand like Ree Drummond? Will I be videoing myself stirring ingredients in a bowl and making suggestions about the perfect place setting?

Well let's just say I'm more of a realist. I'm kind of like the anti-Martha Stewart. In fact, I was really ticked at Martha Stewart for a long time. She just rubbed me the wrong way with her perfection and chickens with blue eggs or green or whatever colour they were, her perfect décor and the way all of her food always worked out perfectly due to the magic of television and magazines. She set women up to be the perfect everything. Just got home from a long day at work and Susie is puking down the front of her shirt and the dog has fleas? No problem, just whip up the perfect meal complete with homemade dessert and relax in your New England paradise. She created an unachievable standard which made women feel inadequate by not being able to reach it.

Here's the thing. My food is not very pretty most of the time. Some of my dishes have chips in them. It wasn't until two years ago that I finally got some decent cutlery instead of the stuff my mother collected in a promotion at the local grocery store. My pie crusts are sometimes purchased frozen in a flat box, and sometimes homemade. The homemade ones often have patches where the crust split, or wasn't quite big enough on one side, so I took some of the extra that got cut off around the outside and used it to make up the difference. I don't LOVE making lunch in the morning at 7:00 a.m. and I sometimes swear at the cat when it "sproings" on the window screen just as I am getting all the ingredients out to make a low calorie bagged salad with pre-cooked chicken strips. I drink a glass of wine on Tuesdays, not waiting for Friday, if Tuesday laid me out flat exhausted because sometimes work sucks. Some of my furniture matches, but not all of it and our livingroom looks like a furniture warehouse or display floor because we are stuck with the mother-in-laws furniture and have no where to put it all and god help us if we ever decide to sell this place because there are so many unfinished bits and the thought of packing up our lives makes me feel ill, not like we are thinking of immediately selling, but we'll have to downsize one day.

So, to go along with this theme of anti-perfection, here are the preparations for the food that will go to "the city" with us to my brother and sister-in-law's house. I offered up dessert. My brother said they already had a pie in the freezer, so I said I would bring something that "wasn't a pie". So naturally, I looked on Pinterest. I have this HORRIBLE habit of experimenting with recipes that I haven't already tried when we have company over, or when I'm taking food somewhere else. It doesn't always go well. You would think I'd learn.

I found a recipe for a pumpkin trifle. Lovely autumnal flavours, but not pie. I also decided to bring something that I had already made once, so would likely be successful: Lunch Lady Brownies. These are also from Pinterest. Not particulary Thanksgiving-y but will go over well, if the aforementioned trifle is a bust.

Here is the reality of going to work all day, staying after work to get a bunch of stuff done, getting home to immediately thaw some hamburger and making a quick spaghetti supper whilst throwing in some laundry of clothes we might want to wear to the family gathering tomorrow. At the same time, husband and son had gathered up a rental car because the insurance company has deemed the "kids' car" a write off after being smashed into in a highschool parking lot by a young lady who perhaps needs more practise driving.

The trifle was described as easy and delicious. I beg to differ with the 'easy' description. First you have to bake a whole separate dessert - a spice cake. It does come from a boxed mix, so that's not terribly bad. Here it is posing in front of my dollar store compost container which gets used every single day and is hideous inside.

Here's my work space part way through the process. Notice the not-quite-a-trifle-bowl. I used to use that as a fruit bowl. It'll have to do. You can see my computer print outs of my recipes I was making tonight. I didn't quite get the reading glasses in the shot. Not being able to see properly anymore is a royal pain in the arse, as my baking consists of putting on the glasses, reading the next step in the recipe, taking the glasses off because they make me kind of nauseous if I'm just looking at the world normally, putting the glasses back on because I forgot what the instructions said to do, shifting the glasses down my nose because it bugs me to keep taking them off, pushing them back into place to read the next instruction, taking them off again because it's like swimming through water every time I have to go to the fridge, putting them on...

After the spice cake is baked, you cut it up and rip it apart and making a layer at the bottom of your not-a-trifle-bowl. In retrospect, that layer was too thick.

The next layer is a combination of pumpkin pie filling mixed with vanilla instant pudding (which I also had to make before hand and chill in the fridge), and a little brown sugar and something else that I can't remember because I'm 51 and a little tired.

Here's the pumpkin filling / pudding mixture in my beautiful and well organized fridge underneath the chilling bowl of "stabilized" whipped cream which meant doing the whipping cream thing until you get soft peaks, then using some dissolved gelatin whilst beating the whipped cream to achieve stiff peaks. (How many steps are we at now?)

Next comes a layer of broken (on purpose) ginger cookies. They are these...

President's Choice English style Gingersnaps which pack a bit of a punch that lingers.

Next comes the whipped cream. Then repeat the whole process again.

Meanwhile, I had already made a pan of brownies (tonight - between making supper and making the multi-step trifle) and then iced them right after they came out of the oven so the icing would melt and flow over the top, to harden again as it sits on my table next to the L.L. Bean catalogue with the Chelsea boots that I really want to order, but the exchange rate from American to Canadian makes them rather expensive but I love the look of them and all the other ones I've seen on line have been more expensive and did I mention I live in small town Ontario and there isn't a decent Chelsea boot within a 200 km radius?

But I digress. I realized I hadn't even taken a picture of the finished trifle product so how do you like this one?

There it is with plastic wrap, all tucked up in our 2nd fridge out in the mudroom, which is perhaps one of the best things in my life. Do you have a second fridge? It makes summer watermelons and beer so much more convenient, and it is indispensable at Christmas (and Thanksgiving and Easter and staff parties ...).

Finally, after hanging my freshly laundered pants and shirt on my lovely newish drying rack, and unloading and reloading the dishwasher, handwashing the big cumbersome stuff, and wiping down the counters, I did this.

Then I sat down and wrote this blog post. Just a regular blog. A trifling blog.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

October First

Today couldn't have been more lovely. What a wonderful way to start a new month in my favourite season. I left the house around 10 this morning to get groceries for the week and checked the temperature before I left. I had on jeans, long sleeves and a light jacket. By the time I got out of the store and loaded my groceries, I had to put the air conditioning on for the drive home.

My favourite grocery store (where both of my kids had / have part time jobs) had a great deal on fall mums. I bought some more. I set some up on the porch.

I need to pick up a few more pumpkins. I did not grow any this year. The Mennonites down the road always have many for sale at a good price.

My hydrangeas (have no idea what kind!) are still putting on a nice show of colour.

I spent a lot of time outside today doing various outdoor clean up projects. Here are some of my pots / urns that are going to be emptied soon. They are looking a little rough. I just put them all in one spot for now and will tackle these sometime this week.

I'd say the creeping jenny did well this summer!

I put in a couple of hours cutting back and ripping out perennials from a couple of beds in the back yard. There's still a bit more to do here and probably three or four more beds larger than this to complete before the snow flies.

I'll leave the sedum and black eyed Susan for some colour.

When my back screamed that it had had enough, I helped the husband to finish up the last of the pool house chores which consisted of emptying big concrete flower pots, emptying and moving the little fridge that stays at the pool house in the summer, rolling up the rug, stacking furniture, general tidy up... It was a bittersweet task because of the rainy, quite cool summer we had. We really did not enjoy our pool and outdoor space as much as we would have liked. Oh well, some years are like that.

All tucked in for another fall / winter.

As I was walking back to the house after taking pictures, I thought I would take a shot of the shed with its remaining flowers that still look pretty good. I love the long shadows at this time of day (it was about 5:45 in the afternoon).

Finally, as this is the time of year for caterpillars, I was told by a colleague that the white caterpillars are to be avoided. After handling them, you can develop sores and blisters on your skin. I think this might be the kind she was speaking of. It was crawling on a back door window. I didn't feel like having blisters, so I moved him unceremoniously with the broom.  Anyone know anything about these critters?

I'm now having a nice glass of Beringer cabernet sauv. waiting for son to come home so I can fire up the barbecue for some homemade burgers. Have a nice evening, everyone.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Having not Dropped off the Face of the Earth...

Hello anyone out there who might still be looking at my blog and wondering if I've stopped altogether,

I am busy with work, but I'm frequently busy with work and still managed to blog, so what's different this time? I just don't feel like writing right now. I also don't have anything but the mundane going on. I could take pictures of fading perennials or spider webs. I could tell you what I'm having for supper and how many calories it is and how I've been stuck at the same bloody weight for more than a month regardless of tracking every morsel that has passed my lips. (I have managed to lose 30 pounds but the last few are killers). I could describe the latest hot weather which has now turned into typical late September weather.

I've written about all of these types of things and I've just hit a wall. I read the blogs on my blog list and thoroughly enjoy everyone else's thoughts and musings and experiences. I truly do look forward to finding out about your lives in England, and the United States, and Greece, and Wales, and France, and other parts of Canada (sorry if I forgot someone). I've just come up a bit empty.

So, I am healthy, contented, taking care of my family and myself, letting cats in and out, getting ready for Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving is in a week), reading a bit, binge watching some British Netflix, wondering how long four years is going to be until I retire, and still picking green beans from my garden. It's all good.

No doubt I'll be back blogging regularly down the road. Until then, a very happy Thanksgiving coming up to all my Canadian friends!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

As of Lately,

I have been fairly absent from blogging lately due to many busy times. My husband's mother finally got moved to a much nicer retirement home after a year's wait, which meant us packing up her belongings, ahead of time, storing them at our house (or in my case, driving around with my vehicle packed to the hilts until the precise time came when she was to move in), and then moving everything into her new room. Precise is really the word, as we were told she had to come between 4:00 and 4:30 in the afternoon (on a work day!). She is now moved in and much happier, although not really unpacked and I suspect I will be taking some time this week to get her more unpacked (dementia - organization is not really her forte anymore).

As well, our son started at a new highschool this past week due to his previous one closing (thank you Ontario government) and the changes and adjustments that came with that are being dealt with. Daughter went back to her fourth year at university, taking on the roll of Don again in a residence. She has Don duty from 8:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. for a few nights. I asked her when she sleeps!! Hopefully not at class time.

We feel like we went from summer ( a very wet summer) directly into late fall. It went down to 6 degrees Celsius! (That is six degrees above freezing). I feel like I might as well just rip out my vegetable garden now.

Here are some pictures I took in the past couple of weeks of what is blooming right now. There is still lots of beautiful colour in the yard.

This is a flower that was gifted to me by a work colleague. This was its best year (all that rain!) It is informally known as turtle head, but I am not sure of the specific name.

Here are the blooms up close. It is a really lovely plant for this time of year.

Of course, Rudbekia (Black Eyed Susan) is in its glory.

I believe this is called Pink Diamond hydrangea. It has turned an even darker pink since I took this picture.

I don't know what this little guy will turn into.

Last weekend, husband and I went out for brunch and then drove around the general area, about an hour and a half away from our home. It was a pretty nice day (i.e. it wasn't pouring rain) and we drove quite a bit along a lake and marvelled at the beautiful homes, imagining what these people must do for a living in order to be able to afford them! At one point during our drive, we saw this.

What is going on with that dead tree?

Oh look! A face!

And another face!

In this portion of our province, you can see many rock faces which are part of the escarpment. Many moons ago, my husband did quite a bit of rock climbing. He looks at these rock faces and imagines how he would tackle them.

This is also the time of year for flocking. A couple of days ago, I walked out into the kitchen and it was a scene from "The Birds". The pictures don't really capture how MANY birds there were. I think they are starlings.

We are currently watching news and weather reports regarding Hurricane Irma. A friend of ours is waiting to see what happens for her mother who lives in Florida and will be going to a shelter today. I'm hoping that with all the pre-warning, as many people as possible have been able to be prepared and get some place safe. But it's not just the actual hurricane, it's the aftermath and how long it will take to clean up, wait for the water to recede, and rebuild if necessary. I can't imagine. We've been to Cuba a couple of times and know what type of housing the average person lives in. I also can't imagine what a category 5 hurricane will do to those! Take care, everyone!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Writing - You'll Never Know Until You Try

Writing has always come easily for me. I never found the concept of grammar difficult. Spelling isn't usually an issue. I enjoy words. I like finding out the origins of expressions. I so appreciate well written stories, books, instructions... I write a great deal for my job. This blog, however, was the first time that I had ever written for pleasure and allowed other people to read my writing.

I have never been one to put myself out there in situations where I think I may come off looking like a fool. For example, I do not possess great physical prowess, so I am always hesitant (read "never will") to try things like downhill skiing, roller blading, group sports, etc. for fear that I will be so atrocious at it (or will seriously hurt myself). I'm not saying this is a healthy attitude, but it's how I am. Please don't recommend counselling. The one thing which is in stark contrast with this chicken shit persona is speaking in public. I actually don't have a problem getting up in front of a large group of people and speaking as long as I am prepared, or know what is needed of me. But don't ask me to hit a ball, or dive into the deep end, or play piano. Please don't ever ask me to play piano in front of anyone except maybe my cat.

So it was a bit of a leap for me to blog and send my words out into the great "inter web". It was shocking to receive that first comment. It was a greater shock that people returned to read what I had to say. I'm still completely thrilled and delighted to see comments (unless it is that creepy weird Asian spam comment).

Many moons ago, when my crazy grandmother was still alive, she would say that I was going to write children's stories when I grew up. When I was little (4, 5, 6 years old or thereabouts) I spent a lot of time drawing stories in booklets of plain newsprint. I would draw out the various scenes of stories, often about the Easter bunny (still love rabbits!), then would narrate them to my grandmother as she was working away in the kitchen. I did this because my older sister did the same thing. She would draw stories for me and tell me the stories out loud. There was an ongoing one that involved a squirrel (Sammy?) I adored these stories. It wasn't unusual to create illustrated stories. This was long before technology or even cable or satellite tv. I drew and created stories for fun. But as I say, my grandmother was crazy, so what did she know? She had full on arguments with the radio.

Where am I going with this? I am trying to gather up the nerve (because I feel this is a brave thing to do) to take that first leap into writing. I get worried about the what-ifs. I think too far into the future. My husband, who is always so encouraging, has told me to not even think about publishers or rejections, or copyrights, but instead to just write. Just write something. I think I could write for children because I've read a great deal of junk written for children and question how it ever got published. I feel that I could write rhyming stories, humorous stories, stories that children could relate to.

With my humble little blog, I am asking for guidance, suggestions, practical details, anything that you could tell me because YOU have written something and got it published, or your brother has, or you have a neighbour who works for a publishing company, or you are a free lance writer, or your great aunt Matilda writes for Hallmark cards, or anything! I'm not digging for compliments. I'm actually hoping somebody out there has already been down this road and can offer up some helpful hints on how to even begin and how to go from writing in long hand on three ring binder paper to actually sending an idea to a publisher.

Thank you, ahead of time, for any and all suggestions!

Friday, 25 August 2017

What's For Supper / Nearing the end of August

There is a palatable change in the air. It is always this time in August that the crickets are noticeable, there's a bit of a snap to the morning air, many flowers have faded, while others become dominant. Although I LOVE summer, I actually really like how this time of year feels. Normally, flower beds look bedraggled and crispy, but of course this year with our relentless rain, everything is lush and full. The "snap" of the morning air was closer to "bloody cold" these past couple of mornings. We are supposed to go down to a low of 6 degrees tonight!! (Celsius - have no clue what that is fahrenheit, but 0 is freezing).

Normally, as well, I have a glut of garden produce, but the relentless rain caused a lot of blight, etc. so my glut occurred with my strawberries. I have some beans, some zucchini, quite a few cucumbers. The rabbits continue to trim the peas as soon as they grow a little, and the tomatoes, well let's all just bow our heads and grieve over the loss of the potential tomatoes. I've dug out a few potatoes (like buried treasure!!) but even they show the effect of too much moisture with hollow discoloured centres, although the rest of them are still quite edible.

Recently, blueberries were a very good price in the grocery store, so I bought a giant container. I seemed to be the only one eating them, so I had to decide how to use them before they became a loss. I got out my trusty recipe book.

I love these recipe books (there are three altogether, created by the two sisters pictured on the front cover). They were originally published as low fat recipes, but they are just tasty and fun, regardless of being low fat or not (sugar is the devil, anyway, not fat).

I love the names of their recipes, always with some kind of corny pun involved. I frequently write in my recipe books, with helpful future hints, or even a rating from the family. Obviously this recipe was a winner. So I made it again and indeed it was very good.

This was the oats mixture that gets put on top.

Here are the blueberries mixed with sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.

This makes a big dish of dessert. I like it served warm with a little milk, but we've had it with vanilla yogurt, or frozen yogurt, or just plain. It does stain the dickens out of your teeth, however, so brush well after eating!

Today I got my hair dealt with, regrowth at the roots dyed and some lowlights dragged through my overly blonde hair. I sincerely hate getting my hair coloured, not because of the chemicals, or the price (although it is pretty pricey), but being captive for almost two hours having to make small talk with someone that I have very little in common with. I'm a fairly private person (who writes a blog... I know, a bit of a contradiction) and I just don't enjoy that constant banter of question / answer that is part of sitting in a hair stylist's chair. I have tried various hairdressers over the years. I know it's just my problem, probably other people think it's a lovely treat, but I just want to be quiet.

Anyway, after getting home, I embarked on something I've been wanting to do for a little while. I was inspired by Mama Pea over at A Homegrown Journal who has written a few times about her stuffed peppers. Now, I do NOT have any mature peppers yet (the poor little things, I don't think they'll ever see full maturity before we get frost!), but I have been harbouring a few zucchini in the crispers for a little while now. So, I looked up a some recipes for stuffed zucchini, had a look at what I had in the house and concocted some filling for my scooped out zucchinis. In no particular order or quantities, I combined ground beef, onions, green peppers, soft bread crumbs, egg, parsley, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, leftover cooked rice, and some plain spaghetti sauce. I let my stuffed zucchini bake away in a 350 oven for at least 45 minutes (the meat mixture was raw when I put it in the oven) and then put a little mozzarella cheese on top to melt. They were pretty good! I like that you get the flavour of meat / spaghetti sauce without the pasta, and it uses up at least two zucchini!

Here are a couple of hollowed out zucchini boats.

I really heaped up the meat mixture so each one got lots of filling. Here they are pre-baking. I didn't take a picture of the finished product, because we were hungry. I would definitely make this again, although the filling could change depending on what's in the fridge.

I've been typing this while listening to news casts about the hurricane affecting Texas and surrounding areas. I hope everyone is safe and secure. We don't get hurricanes here. I guess our natural disasters would be tornados and to a lesser extent, blizzards. It's always scary when nature takes over and is far more powerful than you are.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Jiggity Jig

Yesterday, we went to the "big city", well, a big city. Just husband and I. We went to Costco. This is a big deal because we never go to Costco. (It's a big box store where you have to buy a membership and you can buy all kinds of large amounts of things from office supplies to groceries to toys). We had been earlier this summer to renew a very expired membership, but their machine that takes the pictures and produces the membership cards wasn't working, so they sent us home with an official piece of paper saying we had paid.

We decided to officially get our membership cards and have a look around. Because we so very rarely go to Costco, the place still amazes me. The giant boxes of everything just astound me. I am also floored by the prices of food. There was a huge pie for an incredibly good price. Why would you bake???? My husband bought a great brick of old cheddar for the price that we would pay for one half that size. I can see why some people who live right in the city do their regular grocery shopping there.

Costco is also a very dangerous place, to me anyway. You can easily convince yourself that you need the 24 pack of coloured Sharpie markers ( I LOVE Sharpies), or the dual pack of Nutella, or the muffins that are the size of cakes. Heck, you could buy a mattress, or a refrigerator, or a sectional couch. But I have now discovered the best way to go to Costco. You must go there in a little two-seater car, which is what we did.  No back seat and a relatively small trunk completely prevents you from overspending! I actually had to take things out of boxes and throw the boxes away in the parking lot garbage can so they would fit in the trunk! I think the worst way to get to Costco is in a van, or a pickup truck. Then, you likely would leave with a refrigerator.


As it turns out, we will never run out of packing tape, I will truly enjoy my Sharpie markers, there is a tray of giant muffins in my fridge, my new slippers are fabulous, we have enough extra strength no name ibuprofen for an infinite amount of headaches, and I've already stashed away the triple pack of goldfish crackers so my son doesn't eat them all in one day.

I am actually very glad that I don't live close to a Costco. I fear my control would be tested.