Monday 29 July 2019


Snapdragons are magical flowers. They take me right back to my childhood. My mother often planted snapdragons in pots or in the "rockery". Did anyone else have a rockery, or was that just a term that my mother and grandmother used? It was a flower bed, lined with rocks and had special rocks placed throughout.

Snapdragons were wonderful because of their variation of colour, as well as the nifty trick you could do with them by squeezing the blossoms "just so" causing the little mouths to 'snap' open and shut.

I don't put snapdragons in every year, but I did this year in the window boxes on the shed. I like the rocket series because they are tall. Generally though, they bend and stretch, rather than staying completely upright. Here are some of the gorgeous colours they surprised me with:

Picking a favourite flower would be like picking a favourite child, but snapdragons might be in the top ten! What is your favourite flower?

Saturday 27 July 2019

New Favourite Salad Ingredients or Save Me From a Boring Salad

I grew up with boring salads. I honestly remember leaf lettuce from the garden, diced white onion, and some sort of "cream" dressing. It was probably made from cream, a little bit of sugar, maybe a bit of vinegar. I ate it, because that's what you did.

Then I became a bit "obsessed" (lord, that's an overused word out there) with Caesar salads. It was THE THING to order from the menu. In fact, I would just have a large Caesar salad, nothing else. But it had to have real bacon on it (what are those nasty little nuggets of fake bacon??), big "homemade" croutons, a good dressing... I got into making my own, rubbing the inside of the bowl with a cut clove of garlic, washing the individual leaves of the fresh (i.e. not packaged in threes, plastic wrapped romaine hearts) romaine lettuce and getting out my little salad spinner, centrifugal forcing the water out of them like mad. When I was all worried about fat and calories, I used turkey bacon instead of real bacon (ridiculous). I might even have purchased anchovy paste for the dressing. This was back in university days, early 20's, thinking I was all chef-like and special.

But mostly, salads were tossed salads with the same old boring ingredients: lettuce, cucumber, peppers, onion, and if life was really exciting, some grated cheese. Open up one of the sixteen different bottles of salad dressing (and hope it wasn't one of the expired ones), and there you go - salad.

I also came from the era of the jello salad. Now how those could be called salads is beyond me. My Aunt Lois was the queen of the jello salad and a summer family gathering had to feature one of her famous salads. Think orange jello with grated carrot. (Uncle Ed in white undershirt and socks with sandals, husband of the Aunt Lois, would also come with a giant roasting pan filled with cabbage rolls - now THAT was memorable!!)

Where am I going with all of this? Well, here is my lettuce now:

It's doing quite well, and with frequent watering, should continue for a while. I've planted another little row, which hopefully will keep us in lettuce into August. Pretty as heck, but again, boring.

So... here's my suggestion for jazzing up boring old lettuce.

Nope, not a sponsored post (but again, Unico, etc. anytime you want to advance me some money...). Marinated artichoke hearts (I cut them up a bit), marinated sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and capers. I don't even know what capers are! Are they a seed, a bud, what plant do they even come from? Throw a few of any of these in with your lettuce, maybe crumble up some feta as well, how 'bout some red onion, slices of peppers, and maybe some Greek dressing, and BOOM!   Flavour.

These ingredients are also great with a cold pasta based salad as well (think orzo, or fusilli), or even great tossed with plain, hot spaghetti and a little pesto.

And for those of you wondering what I do with all those eggs (from the previous post)? Last night was a sausage and cheese frittata (uses up eight eggs!).

Hungry yet?

Thursday 25 July 2019

July 25 '19

After the excitement of a birthday and an anniversary comes the normalcy of every day life. Because I am on summer break right now, my days consist of all the normal tasks that everybody is responsible for: tidying, gathering up garbage and blue box (recycling), making meals, laundry, getting groceries...

A big part of my time has been spent digging. As described before, I hand dug my vegetable garden where the strawberries and ridiculous amount of weeds and grasses had taken hold. Here is my garden now, with the plants that I had already put in (in the little space that was to be had in the late spring). Now I have thrown a few more seeds in the ground and covered them with husband-designed rabbit munching prevention devices. If some of them germinate and produce by the time fall frosts come, well then, that will be a success.  You can see the old carpet (upside down) on some of the bare earth. I want to see what else we have lying around that can be used on the other bare parts to kill off anything that I didn't manage to hand dig / pull.

I need to be more diligent in watering the plants that are already up. This heat has been pretty tough on growth (when there hasn't been much rain at all). I'm looking at the picture and it really doesn't fully show the size of the garden area that I dug up and weeded. It really makes the whole thing look quite small, but trust me- there was a lot of digging - in 28 degree heat with a humidex of 36, 38, even 40 (this is Celsius, by the way).

Anyway, late July is not as spectacular in the flower gardens as beautiful late June, but here are some of the highlights:

Salieri Daylily.

Cement planter with sweet potato vine, geranium, and coleus.

Our little arbor with potted red geraniums, covered in trumpet vine. There are some buds, so hopefully it will put on a decent show. The bugs tend to eat the buds before they can open.

Lucifer crocosmia.

Daylily, possibly 'red magic'.

So, the heat has been a little hard to take (I'm actually fine with it, but son, the cats, the chickens seemed to have more difficulty). Here is symmetrical Samson in one of his favourite spots, where he can look over his kingdom.

The chickens prefer it when things are little cooler. I think egg production was down a bit during the extreme heat. I made sure to give them fresh water every day. They have shade in their run as well. When I come out the back door, they race to the fence, as I am usually the provider of food. Their favourite is leaves of dandelions, although leftover mashed potatoes can send them into a frenzy as well.

Sorry, girls. No treats right now.

Now that most of the hens are old enough to lay, I get a lovely collection of eggs.

There is a whole variety of shapes, shades, and sizes depending on who laid what and how old they are.

And there you have it.

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


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.