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Sunday, 21 July 2019

Happy Anniversary

Our 28th year anniversary was yesterday and our tourism-y daughter prepared a detailed itinerary for us, which was good, since I'm always quite indecisive about what to do and where to go. The weather, which had been very hot and humid, calmed down a bit with the day being overcast and the temperature dropping a bit. Here are the highlights:


Jones Falls

So, here's the couple, doing the bad selfie thing. We started out with a walk through beautiful craggy limestone and ancient cedars to see a waterfall. The setting was magical - I love trails like this.


Dappled sunlight, woodsy smells, birdsong, things to climb on - lovely!







Next, we moved onward to a restaurant to enjoy one of husband's favourite things in life... a charcuterie board!!


His favourite, stilton, was part of this. There seemed to be more 'crustini' than cheese, but he enjoyed it nonetheless. I had a baguette sandwich which was very, very good. This place is all about cheese, so the sandwich had brie cheese in it. Who puts brie cheese in a 'ham and cheese' sandwich? Well, it was delicious!

This was the restaurant. The interior is nicely done, all brick walls and wood shelving.

After lunch, we drove a ways to a magical, wonderful place. I love a good garden tour and this one did not disappoint. The place was called Keppel Croft Gardens and it is the result of forty years of slogging done by a couple who had an amazing vision of what could be done with their property.


This is the Garden Ruin, the owner created in a couple of stages. There are many details that don't show in this picture, but it helps to create a little microclimate area and divides the space up into another outdoor "room".


They created Keppelhenge in an open area in a field. They have little signs on the base of each stone telling that the sun sets here on the winter solstice, etc. They do a summer solstice event here. They are very much into astronomy and have created a wonderful inlaid "calendar" of sorts on the ground. I forgot to take a picture of it, unfortunately.


I so admire people who can envision. They have taken four acres and created spaces and rooms and paths. People are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch and there are many spots where you can have a seat and enjoy. The gardens are in a bit of a lull at the moment, as the June flowers are done blooming and some areas were a bit beaten down by a recent hard rain, but the structures themselves were enough to keep me intrigued. The owners use rock (because there's enough of it available in this area!) and concrete to help create planters and barriers and groupings.


Husband was inspired to try creating some concrete work, as he always is when we see sites like these. Unfortunately, we decided we had to cut our visit short because we were being eaten alive by mosquitos and deer flies. That's summer in Ontario. If you feel like having a deeper look into this wonderful place, I'll direct you to their website which really tells the tale of all the work they have put into this - forty years- that's dedication. There isn't even a charge to get in, but donations are accepted (which, of course, we did).

After that, we had an ice cream cone at the local, and only, corner store. No pictures. And then eventually we meandered down Lake Huron to a restaurant we hadn't tried before for supper. The rain was coming down in buckets. I wasn't impressed by the restaurant at all (do NOT flip over the burnt naan bread and expect me not to notice!), so I won't bother mentioning the name. However, husband's meal was o.k. and the day in its entirety was great, thanks to daughter getting it all organized for us.

Today will be a day of digging in the dirt and maybe a bit of reading. I'm ripping out the "strawberries gone wild" portion of my vegetable garden, which really should be called the "strawberries, twitch grass, dandelions, and bindweed" bed. It's been a tough slog, as I am digging it all by hand so I can find every fat white root and eradicate as many of those perennial weeds as possible. The next step is to, and it is NOT going to be pretty, take an old, ugly, blue carpet and lay it on top of the soil, leaving it there for the rest of the season, over winter, and into early spring of next year in order to kill off anything else I might have missed. I will weight it down with some of the many rocks that are piled up here and there on the property. What I'd really like (Mama Pea, this is because of you!), is to have raised beds there with proper crushed stone pathways in between. Still not sure what kind of wood to use. Pine will rot over time, pressure-treated will likely leach deadly chemicals into the soil to be soaked up by root vegetables, and cedar is too expensive. What to do, what to do?

Anyway, I've been up for two hours and I'm starving, so I'm signing off for now. Have a great Sunday, all!

Friday, 19 July 2019

Infiltrator

When I got up this morning and checked my phone, this was my screen saver:


This is my kitchen.

This is not my cat.

This is who I have already referred to in my blog as, "orange cat".

I'm guessing son witnessed this when he was up much later than the rest of us and put it on my phone knowing how much it would 'amuse' me.

Orange cat seems to be making use of the cat door again. Thank goodness we don't buy expensive organic cat food!

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

July 15th

I do not have an easy time treating myself. I cut back on myself, I take the broken cookie, I wait for the sale, I do without, I'll make something special for someone else, but not myself. Boo hoo for me, but yesterday (the 15th), I got treated by my own request. It was my birthday and anyone who has been married for more than 20 years knows that buying presents for your spouse is difficult, if not ridiculous. Husband just asks if there is anything I would like rather than trying to pick something out.

I usually say not to make a fuss, no there's nothing I really want / need... but this year I thought about it and said that I wanted a new hair straightener  / flat iron. Not just a new one (as the old one has now rubbed all the paint (?) coating (?) off the flat iron part and is quite frankly a piece of junk), but a better one. I went online and researched and much to my shock and horror discovered that the really good ones run into the HUNDREDS of dollars (i.e. even above $500!!). Now, I have always had what I refer to as, "unfortunate hair", with abundance of frizz, texture, and the inability to lay flat. I have used straighteners, electric round brushes, electric flat brushes, curling irons, argon oil, smoothers, tamers, balms, creams, and serums. Sometimes I just give up and let it dry naturally and end up looking a bit like a Woodstock festival attendee.

I ended up with this little beauty:


The brand is called "Chi" (and no, I'm not getting any money from the company, but hey, anytime they want to contact me and give me some money, I'm game). I got it on sale, yes it was over $100, but not by much. When I used it for the first time, I was so impressed. Seriously impressed, and realized that the crappy last two straighteners I had been using were indeed crappy. I'm pretty sure I never spent more than 39 dollars on either one of them. So, there you go. It is nice to treat oneself (because quite frankly, the purchase made by husband came out of our joint bank account, so I kind of bought it for myself, but he's the one who stepped up to the cash register to formalize it).

So, here's the old girl with husband on the porch before we all went out for supper.


We went to the same place that we went for daughter's birthday in May. Great food, fun atmosphere.

Mom and daughter.

Daughter and son.

Husband and wife.

Because it was my birthday, there was a complimentary dessert which of course I shared with the family, so we all just had a couple of bites. It was so darn good, this is the only evidence that I have that it happened.


Then back home afterwards for my other request: Dairy Queen ice cream cake!! Again, I'm always the one baking birthday cakes for other people, and be darned if I'm baking my own cake, so this year I asked for an ice cream cake.


It was so pretty! Daughter arranged for the colours, which I thought were perfect. Notice the candles? Anyone else have an assortment of number candles in the drawer with the ziplock bags and tinfoil left over from various other birthdays? Ha ha - now you know how old I am, too!

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Bloomin' Lovely!

We had such a rainy, cold late spring. As a result, those flowers which would have been in bloom in mid to late June are in bloom now. On the plus side, they are huge and lush due to all the rain. Here's a morning walkabout (well, really, not all that much walking, just around the front porch!)


The delphiniums are just starting to open. Absolutely, heavenly, iridescently blue!!


This is a luscious weigela shrub (sorry, I'd have to look up the precise kind) beside a spiderwort plant.


These sweet little self-seeding dianthus usually don't amount to much, but this year they are putting on quite a show. (Kind of makes me think I need to water more!)


I've had this stachys (big betony) for years, but this is one of its best displays.


The Siberian iris has now faded, as has the lilac tree in the background. Everything else is filling in really well. We have split rail fencing in front of this front garden.


The cranesbill around the bottom of the Norway Spruce has become the perfect ground cover. The bird bath in front of it has two fake metal birds. No other birds use it, although the cat has sat in it occasionally.


Peonies beside the steps. Their scent is heavenly.


Lighter pink dianthus with hostas which exploded this year (again, I'd have to look up what type of hostas these are - once upon a time I knew all my plants - Latin names included, not so anymore).

Well, there you have a July 3rd garden. I'm off to the dentist - yippy.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Not pretty, but good.

That's kind of a theme in my life - not pretty, but good.
Case in point, my cooking. I'm a pretty good cook, but my presentation will never win any awards. I wouldn't place first in a fall fair competition, but what I make is usually pretty tasty.

Today, for instance, I decided to make a pie with the ridiculous amount of strawberries and rhubarb I still have (tired of hearing about that yet?). I made my usual strawberry / rhubarb custard pie. If I had made my own pastry, it likely would have been a little bit pieced together, repairs made with a smear of a wet fingertip. It wouldn't have mattered because the pie filling would have hidden any ripped or repaired sections. Not pretty, but good. Today it was frozen pie crust time. I always have a little extra filling which I put in these little baking dishes. The kids call them "mini pies". Thank goodness I set everything on a cookie sheet (which, by the way is not shiny and silver, but permanently darkened and stained). The filling oozed out over one side (because my oven is not level because our floor in our very old home is not level - not pretty, but good).


The pie tin I used (well, actually just put the aluminum foil pie plate inside of it) is very old - came from my mom, I think. Not pretty, but good. (the pie plate, I mean)


The little 'mini pie' is in something that is pretty. This little baking dish is from a set, all very matchy, various sizes of baking dishes. The set was a gift (I never would have bought that for myself) from my mother-in-law when she was somewhat addicted to the Home Shopping Channel. Thoughtful, though, and I have used them.

Tonight for supper, I made use of some of the bulk purchased peppers and zucchini. At my store, they offer a product called, "Naturally Imperfect" from No Name. It's great - you save money by buying produce that has slight blemishes or are not picture perfect in shape or size. Not pretty, but good. I bought the zucchini that way. I turned a couple of them into zucchini boats and I made stuffed peppers as well. No recipe - just a throw-together ground beef mixture much like meatloaf inside of the peppers and zucchini.



See my crumpled up tin foil to keep the pepper upright? Not pretty, but good.

One of my chickens' names is Lacy. She was named that because she was so pretty with a lot of white feathers mixed in with her brown feathers making her appear "lacy" around her neck. Well, she ended up being quite the favourite of our twice-as-big rooster and many of her feathers were (permanently??) broken off and worn away. She is truly the rattiest looking chicken I've ever seen, but she faithfully lays an egg every day. Not pretty, but good.

And to wrap up the theme (tired of it yet?), here is a picture of Scooter-the-cat-with-no-tail who once had truly the most magnificent, glorious tail ever seen on a cat, lounging on son's used car which also has a few little less than perfect features but is a hell of a fun first car for a young adult male.


 I quite like my less than perfect life - it's good.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Jammin'

Bought some new small jars, bought some Certo, bought a boatload of sugar...


Lots of strawberries to wash and hull.


This is what my world looked like.


Cooking up the jam (and the sugar, lemon juice, certo)


Jars of strawberry jam - so pretty on the windowsill.


Strawberry / Rhubarb jam. This might be the first time I've made this. I had to do something with all that rhubarb - but it barely made a dent in it.

I'll make one more batch of just plain strawberry jam then freeze the rest of the berries that don't get used up in some other way. I love this time of year.

Friday, 28 June 2019

The Last Day

I am officially done another year of school (cue Alice Cooper). What will I do now? Garden and other yard work, read, visit family, try out some new recipes, organize some stuff, clean out some stuff, read some more...

It's been a good year for strawberries with lots of rain at the right time.

Tomorrow I want to start making jam. I do love homemade strawberry jam!

Here are some pictures of the new hens. The black and white ones are Barred Rocks and the white ones are Columbian Rocks. I have three of each.






This is a long weekend in Canada (Canada Day is July 1st). We currently don't have any plans, but that may change.