Saturday 29 April 2017

How We are Ruled by Cats and a Sky Shot

After my last post about cats and doves who get a second lease on life, I thought you might like to see the other feline in our family. Sampson is about 15 years old. We adopted him from a shelter. When he came to us, he didn't know how to purr. He was a pretty cool cat, though, doing his own thing and occasionally blessing us with a visit on our laps and a few head bumps.

He's not a big meower either. To let us know that he want out, he pulls at the mat in front of a door, lifting it up and letting it drop a couple of times to get our attention. If he wants to be let in, he rips the hell out our screens.

He does hunt and kindly leaves us offerings on any outdoor mat leading to a door. The worst thing he ever killed and left for us was an indigo bunting. I hated him for about a day after that.

He hasn't given us too much grief over the years, with only a couple of issues that needed vet assistance. As with many pets, he is a creature of habit. One of his habits (which likely is our own fault for having started it) is to expect to be dried off when he comes in wet from the rain or moving through long wet grass. One of us grabs a towel from the "to be washed" towel bin and does his bidding.

First, place cat on towel (or sometimes if you lay the towel out and invite him, he will go on his own).

Next, wrap cat in towel and rub gently.

Finally, note look of complete satisfaction and air of superiority on cat's face as you complete the task.

Now moving onto weather, as every good Canadian should, we had some pounding rain on Thursday evening, just in time for husband and I to leave after work to drive to the city where daughter is wrapping up her third year of university. We took both vehicles down so we could get all her stuff packed and moved home. At one point, I pulled over at a gas station to wait out the heaviest of the rain because it was a little hard to see while driving. At that time, an Amish horse and buggy with passengers went past and I thought, "This is not a good time to be Amish!"

We got there within 20 minutes of each other and daughter was all ready for us, we just took a few elevator loads down in her residence building, loaded up, and stopped off for supper. Daughter drove with me and we chatted the whole way home. The rain stopped by then and the drive was very nice. The setting sun was magnificent so I pulled over to take a picture. Daughter insisted that she take the picture (presumably I am incapable), which she did and then proceeded to enhance this and diminish that... here is the result:

Today is sunny, but not particularly warm. I might still manage to get some more yard work done and husband is working on taxes today (bleh!).

Monday 24 April 2017

Welcome, Spring!

Here are some hopeful signs from two or three days ago. I think we might actually be enjoying spring and that it is here to stay.

Forsythia is just beginning to bloom. I have this type of shrub in three locations around the property. Very pretty right now, not so thrilling later.

There are little wee clusters of tiny purple violets in the lawn. They're so delicate and such a nice shot of colour.

Peonies are emerging with their wine coloured feathery tops rising up over last year's stalks.

Hostas are just starting to poke up in a new bed that I planted last year. I'm hoping for even bigger clumps this year.

The pink hydrangea from that same bed are also showing some nice growth.

Early tulips are putting forth leaves.

The rhubarb is even bigger now.

Husband and I cut down some dying / dead scrubby little trees and lilacs from the edge of the property, cleaning things up nicely. The bigger trunks will be cut up to add to our firewood. The more branchy stuff goes to the burn pile (which will be a towering inferno if we're not careful).

Since I took these pictures, things have greened up even more. The air is full of birdsong and it just feels lovely.

Speaking of birdsong and on a completely different note, Husband and I were sitting on the front porch after work this afternoon, telling each other about our days and just relaxing. I saw Scooter the Cat with No Tail coming along the rail fence. I could tell he had something in his mouth and it looked big, but I couldn't see clearly because of the fence. At first, I thought it was a black squirrel because there was so much on either side of his face and it seemed to still be moving. The cat kept trotting along, coming toward the house. Of course, I shouted to my husband to do something, but by the time the cat came up to the front walkway and husband got up to "do something", we could see it was a bird. He had the bird more or less by the head and both wings were stretched out, very much alive and moving. I don't like the thought of animals suffering and the cat just came right up the steps onto the porch where I wanted Husband to pick the cat up and force him to drop the bird. The bird, by the way, was a mourning dove. They are not small birds.

The cat saved us the trouble. He opened his mouth and the bird flew out, scattering small feathers across the porch. The cat turned to look at us with a couple of small feathers still stuck in his mouth and whiskers. I think he was so proud to have caught this bird that he was bringing it for his humans to see and the whole thing just backfired on him.


This is likely what I would have done:


Actually, Scooter is black and white, much like Sylvester the Cat (except of course, with no tail).

                                    Looks rather innocent there, doesn't he?

Sunday 23 April 2017

How Do You Like Them Apples?

You know how you go into the grocery store and you don't need to buy laundry detergent, or a lot of meat, or something from the vitamin aisle and you think this won't be a big grocery bill this week? Then you get to the checkout and you're helping to load up your bags and the sweet girl at the counter announces your total and it's still over $200.00. So you pay for your groceries, then as you are leaving, you check over your bill and you see that you paid $13.74 for four apples. So you assume it's a mistake and you catch the eye of someone important and they say, sure they will check that for you, and you find out it isn't a mistake and they really do cost that much.

What kind of apple costs $3.44 per apple?? Well, I'll tell you: honeycrisp. Yes, I was almost the proud owner of some incredibly expensive apples. However, I decided I didn't need what seemed to be gold infused apples, and they gave me my money back and I went home apple-less.


After I got over my shock, I decided to find out why one needs to decide if they want to make a significant investment when they buy apples. It turns out that although Honeycrisp apples are truly delicious, they are incredibly hard to grow. In fact they are a huge pain in the backside for apple growers. Here are some articles that I read, from which I got my facts. This one  as well as this other one .  The trees are prone to breaking easily, so they have to be trellised, the fruit can't just be harvested one time when they ripen, instead they tend to ripen at different times, so they are usually harvested three times over the season. Honeycrisp bruise very easily due to their thin skin and even their own stems cause bruising so the harvesters need to hand clip the stems very short. They are also prone to a vast amount of diseases like cedar apple rust, black rot, cork spot, bitter pit, and soft scald.

These very finicky apples also must be stored at very precise temperatures when they are first harvested to prevent a whole host of other problems. This all adds up to extra costs for the grower which of course get passed on to the consumer. I don't begrudge the growers. If I had to mess around with a plant that was that problematic, I probably wouldn't bother. Just like flowers in my gardens, it is survival of the fittest. If a plant is not growing well and has to be moved, or treated specially, I don't waste my time trying to save it. But apple growers know that consumers love the texture and eating experience associated with Honeycrisp apples, so they deal with the hassels of growing them.

However, at $13.74 for four apples, I decided I didn't need to be an apple "foody". I was really only planning on cutting them up to take them to work as part of my lunch. I can certainly do that with a lowly Mackintosh, or maybe a Gala for the fraction of the cost.

In general, I find that groceries are very expensive. Importing produce from other countries so that we can have fresh fruit throughout the year results in expensive fruit and vegetables. I buy berries every week. They are a big part of my diet. But good lord, sometimes they are ridiculously expensive. Sometimes I don't want to spend $4.99 on a tiny box of blueberries, and so I don't, and I stick with just strawberries instead. There are many fruits that I won't buy during the winter months even though they are in the grocery stores. Peaches and melons tend to be hard, tasteless things unless "in season". I grow some of my own vegetables so I don't spend much when my own garden is producing, but of course that is just for a short amount of time. Winter is long here.

So there you go. Honeycrisp are so very good and so very expensive,  because they are so very annoying to grow. Happy eating!

Friday 21 April 2017

Could we Share a Pizza?

Friday night after a crazy week meant pizza being ordered and picked up (too far out of town for delivery) for supper.

There are so many choices of toppings for pizzas now, as well as crust variations (regular, thin crust, gluten free...). If you go to a restaurant that specializes in pizza, the options are a bit mind boggling. Anything from sundried tomatoes to chicken, Caesar sauce to multiple kinds of meat, hamburger to feta cheese is available.

I am not pizza compatible with my husband. He likes anything that involves meat. Tonight he had pepperoni, mushrooms, bacon, and anchovies. Usually Italian sausage plays a part as well.  Blah - I didn't even want the anchovy-tainted air touching my pizza.

I, on the other hand, had pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and green olives. I also requested thin crust to cut back a bit on calories (won't bother mentioning how many slices I had thereby defeating the whole purpose of thin crust).

Now, my lovely people out there in internet land, could we share a pizza, or are you an onion hater? Do you prefer a Hawaiian pizza? Veggie only? Or would you be shoving my husband aside and grabbing a slice of "meateor pizza"?




Tuesday 18 April 2017

A Bit of Easter

Easter weekend was very nice. I don't decorate very much for Easter because I would only want decorations up for a limited time.

I cut some daffodils that grow wild "down the lane" and put some on the kitchen table along with a cute little cream and sugar set.

I took the lid and little spoon away from the rabbit that is supposed to be a sugar bowl and filled it with chocolate eggs instead.

I put more daffodils in a pretty little pitcher and placed that on the coffee table in the den along with three metal rabbits.

I've had these rabbits for years. The basket on the upright rabbit detaches. I put a few foil wrapped chocolate eggs in his basket.

I brought out my cute little square bunny pillow as well.

This was the first year that I didn't set up an Easter egg hunt for the kids. They are now 17 and 20 years old, so I decided it was time to wrap up that tradition (even though the recent ones were a lot of fun because we made it very hard to find the eggs). I did make up little Easter baskets for everyone. They're growing up and had their respective girlfriend and boyfriend over, but it was still lovely to have an Easter gathering around our table.

I just read over this post and almost put myself to sleep!! I have nothing thrilling to add. Except maybe that Easter candy is like my kryptonite and I'm awfully glad I never got involved in any hard drugs or addictive pain killers because my lack of will power would be my downfall and I'd be writing this blog from rehab.

Of course, my twisted way of dealing with this was allowing myself a day where I could eat my chocolate eggs and tiny little chocolate bunny and not record any calories, and then the next day I had to rein it in and behave. And that's what I did. So there.

Saturday 15 April 2017

Like a 1950's Housewife / Seeing Double

Yesterday (Good Friday) the four of us went down to the city in which my sister, brother, and some of their children live. We had a very nice time eating, telling stories of when we were kids, solving some of the world's problems, and trying to get my niece's cat to sit in a square on the floor created with masking tape. (The cat wasn't interested, but my husband stood in it for a while).

Today I spent time doing the usual grocery shopping (however, the stores are crazy busy because yesterday was a holiday and tomorrow is a holiday and everyone, including me was buying what is needed for gatherings this weekend). I will have the four of us, and the kids' respective significant others, and my mother-in-law tomorrow. The menu will be appetizers of raw veggies and ranch dip, cheese and crackers, and a shrimp ring. Dinner will consist of turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, broccoli salad, and a new adventure, creamy corn done in the crockpot, as well as rolls or rye bread. Dessert will include lemon squares, pumpkin pie, and something new, which is actually something quite old. Sometimes I like to try to make different food as long as there isn't too much riding on it! I figured this was a safe bet and it's just immediate family, so if it didn't turn out perfectly, people could just eat their Easter treats!

I made my very first pineapple upside down cake!

Ta daaa!!  Please excuse the presentation. I needed something big enough on which to flip it and go from upside down to right side up, so I just used a foil covered baking sheet. My baking sheets look like they have been used, and no I haven't tried the Pinterest suggestion of using hydrogen peroxide and lord knows what to make them shiny and new looking again. But I digress... I was thrilled with how it turned out. It looks very moist and gooey and the pineapple rings with maraschino cherries are so pretty. I felt like I should have on a gingham dress, apron, and kitten heels after making this. Pineapple upside down cake just feels like a 50's dessert, something that baby boomers ate with Sunday supper. I haven't eaten any yet. I'm saving it for tomorrow.

On a whole other note, it would appear that Sampson the cat has a doppelganger, or perhaps a body double. This cat showed up about a week ago and has shown his (her?) face around our property a number of times. Sampson is not overly fond of his mirror image and gives a combination of a low grown / moan when he sees it.

Our cat is the one in the foreground. Doppelganger is perched above him.

For my sake, I hope I can tell the difference late at night when a tabby cat asks to be let in the house. This other cat is not terribly afraid of us.

Tabbies are great cats, I'm just not sure I need two of them.

Friday 7 April 2017

It's spring, no it's not spring, no, wait... it's spring

This past Sunday, we emerged from our house and wandered around the yard taking note of broken branches, raking we will have to do, the fact that a platoon of squirrels has been using our old chicken coop as a walnut husk depot, and the annual drift of gravel that the friggin'  delightful snowplow leaves on our property.

There were also some sweet signs of spring here and there.

A little patch of snowdrops is all that is left of a much larger grouping. Perhaps the squirrels dig them up and move them?

The two photos above are some little bulbs I planted years ago. They are similar to a crocus, but not exactly. I do have some actual crocuses, though.

I love how dark crocuses are before they open up.

This is the promise of rhubarb to come. (I really need to finish up all that frozen rhubarb first!)

Then, four days later, Mother Nature had herself a good old belly laugh. On Thursday night the winds howled and the snow came. This is what I woke up to this morning.

The snow was thick, heavy, and wet. There were no blossoms showing through that snow.

Thankfully the sun came out through the day and much of the snow has melted. This is April in Ontario.

Thursday 6 April 2017

Mom's Throw - Together

I make supper. I make every supper. Every once in a while, we get pizza (no deliveries out where we live, we have to phone in an order and go pick it up), or go out for supper. But usually, I make supper.

Sometimes I am very organized and I plan ahead what I want to make, purchasing the necessary ingredients on the weekend when I go grocery shopping. I have lots of staples in the house like seasonings, dry pasta, canned soup, baking supplies, frozen ground beef, and way too many frozen bags of rhubarb and pumpkin!

However, sometimes I just don't really know what I want to make and don't have a lot of desire to make anything anyway. Then it's time for a Mom's Throw-Together. That's what these meals have come to be known. I don't know if I started the notion of "throwing some stuff together" and then it evolved into, "What are we having for supper?" "Oh, I'm just throwing things together." Now they are just referred to as Mom's Throw-Togethers and my husband is usually very happy to hear that it is time for another one.

I'm sure this is nothing new. You open the fridge, see what is left over in some various plastic containers, check the freezer, look in the pantry and create something. Usually in casserole form, these meals are great to use up bits of this and that. Throw-togethers are never the same thing twice.
As I was driving home from work I was thinking about what I was going to make for supper. I knew there were sausages left over from two nights ago (unless the husband ate them late at night!) so I started building a meal around those in my head.

Here's what I ended up throwing together!!

Three leftover cooked sausages (and a piece of my finger apparently, at the side of this picture!)

Some leftover boiled red potatoes got cut up and there was a handful of leftover peas.

I boiled up some frozen green beans and threw them in, too.

I normally would use a can of mushroom soup but shockingly I didn't have any (I DO have several cans of tomato soup, guess I keep forgetting I have some on hand and keep buying more), so I found a can of cream of celery soup, which I mixed with a half of a can of milk.

I put in a half a container of French's crispy onions, just like the kind used in green bean casserole.

A few dashes of Worchestershire sauce helps.

Bubbling hot out of the oven, it is ready for a sprinkling of the rest of the French fried onions.

And, voila!  Dinner is ready.

What about the rest of you? Do you make use of your leftovers? Do you create your own versions of throw-togethers? I look forward to your comments!

Sunday 2 April 2017

Dryer or Hang to Dry?

Are you a toss it in the dryer kind of person, or do you hang your clothes to dry? I am definitely in the second category. In the summer months, I use my very long clothes line and hang my clothes, as well as bedding and pool towels. But as you know, summer is just a couple of months here (or so it seems), so clothing gets hung up inside the house.

I've had two drying racks for years: one that is wooden and folds out like an accordion, and one that is metal and is similar to the wooden one, but much smaller. The wooden one is nice and big, but the little metal one is pretty small and the wires are small and slippery. Things tend to slide off.

So, yesterday, I went out and bought myself a new wooden drying rack. I had been looking around for a while and saw many plastic / metal ones. Most of them folded out horizontally and would take up much more space when being used than the kind I already use. One kind was actually heated! I did consider that one for a moment, but thought not. I ended up buying quite a substantial one that is almost as tall as me when it is unfolded. Here it is with a load of laundry drying on it.

By the way, that's clean laundry that I'm airing in public! I tend to hang dry my clothes because I think a lot of items shrink in the dryer. I also think it saves a lot in electricity, not running your dryer all the time (electricity is quite expensive for us).

My husband throws everything in the dryer. My son does as well, except for his "good jeans". Sometimes I find my drying rack set up with just his two pairs of jeans hanging there. When my daughter lived at home more frequently, she would hang yoga pants and other exercise type gear.

I absolutely love the scent of sheets dried outside. It is supposed to be a nice day today, perhaps I'll wipe down the clothesline and rid it of its winter grime and  throw in a load of bedding to hang up later outside.

I know there are some urban communities that do not allow clotheslines, to keep the area more aesthetically pleasing. Heaven forbid someone should use a good breeze and sunlight to dry their laundry! What about you?  Dryer or hang to dry?