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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.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Sausage Fingers

It is nearing the end of May and if you live anywhere in my part of the world, you know that it is blackfly season. Blackflies, for the uninitiated, are not as large as a house fly. In fact, I don't think they ever come into a house. They can be found outside when you are gardening, cutting lawn, canoeing, camping, just sitting having a beer...

This past weekend, I got quite a bit of weeding and yard work done. Even though the temperature was fairly warm, I had on jeans, a long sleeved shirt, and leather gardening gloves. By the end of Monday, I had been bitten on my wrists (where gloves met sleeves), side of face, and inside my gardening glove where one little bastard had found a way in. I also managed to sunburn that shiny white piece of skin where your shirt rides up and your jeans ride down on your back. Every. Year.

I react badly to blackfly bites. First, they take a nice little chunk out of your skin when they bite, and then they spit in the hole they make. Nice. I swell up after I've been bitten, and the itching continues to the point where I could take a cheese grater to my skin if it didn't gross me out completely. I take antihistamine for the itch, but even that doesn't help completely. Topical creams and gels are fairly useless.

Now let me tell you about my morning. I know that I had been scratching throughout the night on the tops of my wrists. I got up at about 2:00 a.m. to take more benedryl so I could get some sleep. When the alarm went off at six, I stumbled downstairs and had a shower. Then I had a good look at my baby finger. It was extremely swollen (that's where I got a bite from inside the gardening glove). In fact, I didn't have a whole lot of sensation. This was due to the fact that my ring was cutting off the circulation and probably had been all night long. Then mild panic set in. What if I'd already lost too much circulation? I tried to pull on the ring. Absolutely nothing. No movement. It was on there for life!

I googled something like "loss of circulation, swollen finger, ring" and found videos showing me how to wrap my finger in dental floss and ease the ring over the wrapped finger. Tried it, and no. Then I went to my husband. Did he have a tool in the shop that we could maybe use to cut my ring off? We both chickened out of that idea. Too close to the skin, not enough leeway.

At this point, I knew I would have to go to the emergency department of our little local hospital. I'd heard of people having to have their ring cut off for various reasons. That's what I was on my way to do. A very nice nurse brought me into a room. It was about 7:15 a.m. at this point. I had to go to work by about 8:45. She agreed that this wasn't looking good and brought out a box that contained the cutting tool and some instructions. She'd done this once. A year ago. So, a little guide / spacer was put under my ring and she affixed the proper cutting blade to a little dremmel-like tool. When she put it in place and started cutting, I pulled my hand away in a hurry because my ring heated up like a thing on fire!!  Upon second glance, she noticed that the instructions called for lubricant to be put on the finger to help keep things cooled down. So, she started up again and managed to whiz away a few times before she had to stop to let things cool down again. This continued several times (now with another nurse watching just to see what was going on) until a score was made into the ring. Then we had to rotate the ring and cut again on the other side. My finger was a lovely shade of purple. Finally, after the second cut was made and we were able to pry the ring apart and get it off my huge purple sausage finger.

This ring was just a simple little gold band that I wore on my pinky finger. It wasn't a family heirloom and not a priceless piece of jewelry and quite frankly I was just so relieved to get it off my finger! Then I started to look at my other hand and all of my other rings. Oh boy. Remember, I had been bitten on the tops of both wrists and the swelling was travelling through my hands. So I decided to get all of my rings off. Two on the opposite hand just took a bit of soap and some twisting. However, my engagement ring and wedding band were frighteningly tight. That finger was also swelling. The two nurses had other business to attend to, so they left me at the sink with soap and hand cream. I managed to get my engagement ring off because it had a higher stone setting that I could grip onto and keep turning. The wedding band was another story. At one point I was certain we'd have to cut through that as well. But with lots of hand cream and twisting and saying to myself, "Just relax, just relax" I managed to ease it toward my knuckle and then micro-measurements at a time, I got it onto the knuckle, and then finally off. That finger was also a horrible purple mess by the time I was done. The relief was incredible. The nurse gave me a sample jar to put all my rings in. (Those were the best things I've ever had to deposit in a sample jar, let me tell you!)

After I got all registered (they had brought me in and started proceedings without even registering me), the nurse said the dr. would be in after 8:00. I asked if I really had to see him. She hemmed and hawed and finally I signed something saying I was leaving the emergency dept. without seeing a dr. against advice (or something like that). I reassured her that she did a fabulous job, but I hadn't even had coffee yet, I had to whip home, do something about my scary hair, eat something, and then whip to work. Which is what I did.

Ready for some pictures?

Here is my big fat hand.

These are the dents in my fingers where rings used to be. This is nine hours after getting the rings off.

This is my sad little ring. 


Here's the lesson I learned today. When I get bitten on my hand or on a finger by a blackfly, I should take off my rings immediately. 

O.K., folks. I'm guessing someone out there in blog land has experienced some sort of similar mishap. I can't wait to read about it!!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

May 20, 2018

I did not watch the Royal wedding, so let's get that out of the way. It is currently 10 degrees Celsius and I'm waiting for the temperature to warm up, but traditionally, the long weekend in May is wet and cold and totally unacceptable for the camping and outdoor get-togethers that many Canadians engage in. We do not camp. However, there are so many outdoor jobs that need my attention, that I may just have to put another layer on and get on with business.

I walked around a bit this morning and took a few pictures to share the Spring progress with you. It rained throughout the night and was extremely foggy at 1:00 a.m. when I was out picking up son from a party (arranged ahead of time, yes I'm a good mother). He still managed to get up in time to go to work at 8:00 this morning.


There isn't much in bloom yet. I do love these pink tulips, complete with raindrops.


Wet grass means wet paws, and underbelly, and everything else for Scooter the-cat-with-no-tail.


The rhubarb loves the rain and it is exploding. Time for rhubarb crisp soon. Note how the dandelions are also enjoying the rain.


When we first bought our house, we were at the end of a dead-end road surrounded by farm land on three sides and a little yellow brick house on the fourth side owned by an older couple who only came up from the city a few times a year. Now we have a very big house right across from us and another house is going to be built beside that one. It is currently a big mess, but no doubt with the good weather upon us, there will be a flurry of activity. We're practically in the suburbs now! (You would find this amusing if you saw our little village which doesn't even have a store or gas station anymore).


The forsythia is fading and the ground phlox was very soggy this morning. Oh, the grass, the grass, the grass that I must try to dig out of my flower beds.


More wet tulips surrounded by taller phlox which will show their blooms later in the summer.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed at this time of year when the earth wakes up rapidly after the final dregs of snow disappears and Spring seems to last about a day and a half before Summer hits us. Yesterday I juggled grocery shopping, baking muffins, and doing a bit of trim mowing and "whipper snipping". Supper was chicken and pork souvlaki that was on sale, with rice and Greek salad. It was the first time I used the barbecue this season and it felt nice to be on the back porch with the smell of meat barbecuing and a half a glass of red wine.

I am happy that it is a long weekend (Victoria Day weekend) so I can have an extra day to tackle chores. I still have some perennials and shrubs that need cutting back, so much trim work to do along fence lines and around trees, weeding, and it's best not to even talk about the strawberry bed and vegetable garden. I did manage to push the vacuum around yesterday morning, however. Although it seems like I'm bemoaning the fact that I have all of these seasonal jobs to do, I get a great sense of accomplishment when I can look at a cleaned up flower bed, or see how nice and neat the property looks when the trim work is done. It's always this first push of the season that is so daunting, but once that is done, the rest is manageable if we keep on top of it. How are you spending your weekend?

Thursday, 10 May 2018

This is all I have...

I don't write about work, and I don't write about "personal" life, so this is all I have to offer.


Behold my smoothie. This was my breakfast a couple of days ago. My home is decorated in very traditional colours with lots of wood. But there is a little piece of me that adores pink and green - together. When I made my smoothie, it turned out to be such a lovely shade of pink that I popped a spring green straw (bendy!!) in it to create the perfect combination.

This smoothie was, I believe, frozen chunks of banana, frozen strawberries (from my very own garden, although it is very weedy, Mama Pea), frozen cherries, vanilla protein powder, and a little container of whatever yogurt I grabbed out of the fridge.

You can see from the picture that part of my normal routine in the morning after showering, putting on my face, straightening my crazy frizzy hair, is to have a coffee  while sitting at the computer desk and reading blogs. Then breakfast at the same computer desk. After that I throw a lunch together, sometimes make a sandwich for a child if I'm feeling nice and motherly (they're not really children anymore and can make their own), and then off to work. If you look closely, I was reading Martha's blog, Plowing Through Life. If you haven't read it, it's great! Another Canadian girl, like myself.

I don't always have a smoothie. In fact, I can't eat the same breakfast every day or I would go berserk. I need to change up my food. I always have coffee, though. No sugar, just milk. Instant coffee. Yup.

And there you have it folks, I have just written a post about my breakfast. It's a safe subject. We can all relate.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Storm results

Here is our big old Norway Spruce in our front yard with its limb reaching down to the ground. The winds were very strong. Lots of trees came down in various parts of Ontario, as well as hydro poles. Thank goodness it wasn't our Blue Spruce which is on the opposite side of the house. With the direction of the wind, it would have come down right on our roof.


As I post these pictures I realize it is a little difficult to see the damage. I guess you'll just have to trust me! Have you ever had a tree come down in a storm?

Friday, 4 May 2018

birthdays and cakes and wind

Yesterday our daughter turned 22. I know everyone says, "When did that happen?", but truly I believe the expression that the days go slowly and the years go quickly. Sometimes the hours go slowly!! She's just finished up her fourth year of university and is home to live with us for the summer and to work a summer job.

We had a little family gathering with her requested supper of "Greek food". That means chicken breast done up with Greek seasoning (often on the barbecue, but not this time), a big Greek salad, basmati rice, tzatziki  sauce, and Naan bread (yes, I know that's not Greek). She also requested chocolate layer cake. This is the standard birthday cake for everyone. I asked if she wanted me to change it up, make a different kind of cake, a different dessert, but no. It had to be the chocolate cake. (Homemade, not from a mix, with homemade icing). And so of course that is what I did. Tradition is a good thing. Traditionally, some candles are put into the top of the cake, husband dims the lights, and I carry the flaming cake to the table while we all sing "Happy Birthday" and then pictures are taken. The candles are then blown out, and then I cut great big slices and we have coffee or milk with cake. As well, the Happy Birthday sign is hung on the wall and a few streamers are strung from the light over the table to the corners of the room. It does not matter how old you are - you get the Happy Birthday sign and the streamers.

We had a very nice wine, from a local winery called Hoity Toity Cellars. They produce ciders and wines. This one was called Dusty White Glove.


Here is my "baby girl" and I before the candles were blown out.


At one point, daughter's boyfriend commented about how she was eating her birthday cake. She just laughed and had him look at my plate. This is what he saw:


Yes, this is how you eat layer cake so that you finish with the most icing possible. You eat the cake part at the bottom and between the layers, and then the decadent icing in the middle, at the outside and on the top. Is there anyone else out there who does this?

Today we had a heck of a wind storm. Our power went out from trees toppling on wires. Our very large Norway Spruce had a huge limb come down, thankfully not on the house, or on wires. I will take a picture in the light tomorrow so you can see it. I have no idea how we are going to deal with this, but we will need outside help for sure. Thankfully the wind has died down now, but there will be much clean up tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

A Day to Stay in and Read

This will be a short, lacklustre post. Not to belabour the point, but our weather decided to be cold and dreary yesterday, followed by snow. After I did a bit of general house keeping yesterday, I decided to head into town to the library. I had looked up "Cozy Mysteries, Gardening" and compiled a list of authors that write such a genre. I was in the mood for some light, easy to get through books that combined a typical murder mystery with the overall theme of gardening. I'm itching to see the grass grow and the flowers to emerge, but nature isn't cooperating.

Unfortunately I found only one of the authors on my list and when I took my pile of books to the check out counter, I was informed I had already read that one. Sigh. So I put it back and got another one instead.

Here's what I grabbed, nothing too high brow or deep thought-inducing.


None of my favourite authors has a book out (available in the library) yet, so I chose these. It was a Rhys Bowen one that I had already read, so I chose this one instead.

I ended up settling in the living room, all comfy, one light behind me, feet up on the ottoman, and finished this one last night.


I liked it enough that I will probably read other books written by Ruth Ware. Apparently she has one called The Woman in Cabin 10. In this book, a writer ends up at a Hen Do (we don't call them that, here they are called Stagettes and not every bride does this) with a friend she has fallen out of touch with. Events lead to her waking up in hospital in rough shape and someone is dead. She has difficulty remembering what happened leading up to the death. There's a bit of a surprise at the end.

As I said, it's light reading. (Obviously if I finished it in half a day). I did enjoy it, though. How do you like my fancy Dollerama reading glasses? I hate that I need reading glasses now. My eyes were the one thing that worked perfectly, but not anymore.

Today is the weekly grocery shop, catching up on some work related work, and then maybe I'll start in on another book.

We have our daughter home with us from university and she's been busy trying to organize all of her "stuff" and move back in to her old room. It's very nice having all four of us back together again. In an effort to use up what I already have, I baked a strawberry, rhubarb pie yesterday that was incredibly good. The rhubarb and strawberries were both frozen, the strawberries from last summer, and the rhubarb from.... 2013!! Still tasted great. Now I only have probably 25 more bags of strawberries, rhubarb, and shredded zucchini to go!