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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.

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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.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Save Some

It's Tuesday. Nothing special, just a normal Tuesday, so I made just a normal supper. We had burritos. You know, the kind made with Ol' El Passo tortilla wraps and ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning. Throw on some cut up peppers, onions, cheese, and salsa and there's dinner.

My daughter was working tonight and would not be home until after 9:00. That means she will want supper when she gets home. That means I had to remind my husband, when he went back for seconds that he has to save some meat for her. There was plenty of everything else, but a limited amount of seasoned ground beef. Sometimes (often) my husband will just "clean up" the food that is still there by eating it. I do have to mention that one, or both of our kids will want some of this when they get back home. This is standard. But I still say something. I must be annoying.

There is a reason, though. I don't know if you have a husband, wife, partner, dog, whatever, that cannot be trusted around food. Although this picture is not my daughter's, it is something she has done on various occasions with leftover take out food, usually pizza. (She does not include the death part).

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Sometimes it works, other times he doesn't even look at the box. There have been many sticky notes over the years. One thing I have had to hide is cheese. God love him, he really can't be trusted with cheese. I will put cheese in the crisper drawer instead of in the drawer where we keep sandwich meat, eggs, and cheese. In the past, when I was the lunch-making mama, I would sometimes buy special sliced cheese like Havarti or swiss for sandwiches. If I did not hide it, there wouldn't be enough for sandwiches that week.

His birthday was this past week. He LOVES Stilton blue cheese. I bought him a nice big piece, but I was planning on using a bit of it in the salad and to go with the steak I was making for his birthday dinner. So, I put it in a paper pharmacy bag and kept it in our other fridge until the birthday supper. It was safe.


I work in a place where almost everybody brings their own lunch from home. There is a fridge in which you can keep your lunch if it needs to be refrigerated. Every once in a while someone mistakes someone else's food for their own. This usually happens when it is not in an actual lunch bag. Some people bring their food in just a grocery bag, or they just have a yogurt or some fruit that they put in the fridge. I find this utterly ridiculous. If I made my lunch, I would know which one is my lunch!

But what is worse, is the person who just leaves their food in the fridge, and then forgets about it. I've gone on some mighty fridge purges at work, reading "best before" dates out loud before chucking them in the garbage. The mold encrusted food, the leaking container, the shrimp dear lord the shrimp, the very very old cream... it's all been tossed after I just can't take it anymore. How do you not know you've left your food for that long??

But I digress, my theme was making sure there are leftovers for those people who are not present at meal time due to varying work schedules by reminding my husband not to eat it all. You know, this is usually only a meat issue. I've never had to say, "Leave some of that salad!" or "Make sure there are still cucumbers!" or "Don't eat the last of the carrots!" It's not that he doesn't eat vegetables, but meat is really his passion.

Not to sound perfect, if there is chocolate in the house, there really is no hiding from me!

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Sometimes chips are on sale (potato chips = crisps to my lovely English readers) so I will buy a couple of bags. Both of my children are terrible for staying up late. One likes to be in front of the tv in the den until all hours and the other prefers his bedroom with his computer. They both like to snack. I hide the chips in my bedroom closet. I think they both know they are there, but they know my closet is off limits (like little kids at Christmas who know where the presents are hidden, but don't want to spoil the surprise). I like to have snacks in reserve if someone should drop by.

There have been many times over the years when I have gone to the fridge to get something that I was planning on making, or using in a recipe, or putting in someone's lunch only to look high and low, and then utter the famous words, "R., did you eat the ________?"   They are usually followed by a , "Sorry, I didn't know!!"

I shall finish with something that perhaps a few of us can relate to:

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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A New Post.

I admit I've been a neglectful blogger. I just haven't had a lot to write about. However, I have taken some pictures, some from a while ago, so here goes a long, "picture-ful" post.

I had taken some flower pictures last week to show what's thriving.



Although this constant rain has been a pain in the neck and interfered with sunshine for most of the summer, my urns are doing very well. I try to fertilize every week or week and a half.


I took this picture for Joanne (Cup on the Bus) to show her my obedient plants and see if she thinks that is what she has in her garden. They are definitely August bloomers.


This clematis was given to me 11 years ago. It has bloomed once before. (I am a patient gardener). This year it is putting on its best show ever.


Quite obviously I have not managed to rip out all of my black eyed Susan. This picture is actually trying to show you one of my favourite fillers: Russian sage. Again, this year it is doing remarkably well and the purple plus the height create a lovely background for so many flowers. You can see my giant hydrangea behind it.


Onward to the vegetable garden, which you would think, would be thriving beautifully with all this rain. Not so much. This is a collection of about 4 or 5 cucumber plants. In previous years, the vines would have been roaming across half the garden. I am at least harvesting some cucumbers here and there.


May I now introduce to you the world's saddest patch of tomatoes. This well and truly breaks my heart. They developed blight very early in the season and there was no coming back. I even bought expensive copper-something-or-other powder that I mixed with water and sprayed on the leaves. It didn't matter. By now in other years, my tomatoes have been so huge that I've had to pound wooden stakes in along with the tomato cages so they didn't keep falling over from their own weight. Next year I will have to plant them elsewhere because I think the blight can stay in the soil. No, I do not put the dead leaves in my compost.


These guys are my only hope for toasted tomato sandwiches. Sniff. It reminds me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree bending over with the weight of  one ornament.


Here is what husband has been busy with . Our shed now has a red metal roof like the rest of the structures on our property. He's been working away, strapping over the old shingles, and cutting the metal and putting it up. This morning he was finishing the ridge. Do you see him up there? I asked him if his running shoes had "sticky" enough soles. He makes me nervous. He built the shed himself about 16 years ago.


There he is!


This, to move onto a totally different subject, is the back of my daughter's head. She had just quickly put it back into a braid and I took a picture of it on my phone so she could see how incredible her hair looked. All those variations of colour are totally natural. Lucky duck. I'd have to shell out about a hundred dollars to get highlights like that!


Yup, so that didn't work. Sorry those are sideways. I am also too lazy to go back and try to turn them before uploading them again. Tomorrow is husband's birthday. He'll be a big 53 years old. Today I will bake a cake, a really good decadent chocolate cake, layered, for his birthday. That is what I do. To me, a homemade cake means 'I care' and 'you are important enough that I will make the effort to bake you a cake'. I remember being shocked and little disapproving when I first started going out with my husband and on birthdays in their family, they just got a purchased cake, and not even anything terribly special. Funny, the things that matter to one person, but not another.

Finally, I need to ask, are any of you getting weird comments on your blogs that are just pieced together comments written by other people and seem to be coming from an Asian source? What have you been doing with them? I delete them sometimes and other times click on spam, although truth be told, I have no idea what happens when you mark something as spam. I'm concerned it is some sort of virus infiltrating my computer and doing terrible things. Anyone know anything??

Hope you are all enjoying your second week of August. It is lovely and hot here (for the moment).

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Gorgeous Day, Hanging out with Alpacas

Well it doesn't get better than the beautiful day we had today. It was sunny first thing in the morning and the temperature was lovely and hot. We even hung out down by the pool for a while. Husband went in, but it was still too cold for me (76 degrees F). It is difficult getting the pool up to temperature this summer due to lack of sunshine (we use solar heaters) and the fact that any heat we have is lost over night. If we get a couple more sunny days, it will make a huge difference!

Today our daughter went to a local alpaca farm. She has a summer job working for a radio station, driving around to events and places helping to promote them by posting photos and writing information that goes on the radio's website and other social media. She had contacted the owners to see if they would like her to promote their business and they were happy to have her. My husband and I tagged along. I had visited this farm a couple of years ago with my kids and previously posted about it. This was the first visit for my husband.



We learned a lot about alpacas and how to raise them from the owner. (He is a retired secondary school math teacher and was a fantastic tutor for our son this year, too!)


They all wanted a treat from the bucket! They are very gentle. One thing I love about them is the sound they make which is little bit like Chewbacca from Star Wars.


I think this little one is about three weeks to a month old. I just wanted to hug it, but it stayed just an arm's length away.


My daughter really tried to get these little ones to come closer.


Almost!!


No, this isn't a disturbing picture of an alpaca having some sort of seizure. She is just enjoying a nice rolly dust bath.

I'm a real sucker for animals. If money were no object, I would have a perfect little hobby farm with chickens, ducks, a couple alpacas, maybe a sheep or two, perhaps a miniature horse. I do realize what a lot of work it is to have animals, so for now I'm more than happy to visit other peoples' farms.

The alpacas are tidy, inquisitive animals. They are not good at being solitary animals, you should always have at least two. The couple who own the farm make most of their money selling the fleece. I am certainly not a knitter, so the fleece is of little interest to me. Because these pack animals are originally from South America, they have all been given Spanish names.

Back home after supper, I put in some time raking and loading up more apples. At least this bunch is bigger than the first very small ones which made clean up easier.

It is amazing what a difference a change in weather can make in one's mood and perspective. I was about to say I am looking forward to another nice day, but when I just checked the online forecast, it indicated rain for the next seven days. Oh well, I have some books from the library to keep me happy for a few days.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Great Outdoors

When the heck did it become July 26th? Summer seems to be zooming by and I'd be hard pressed to say how I've been spending my time. Today, I awoke to a cool, drizzly morning. When I got dressed, I put on shorts, and a long sleeved top. It just felt too chilly for short sleeves. After the light rain passed over, I got outside to do a little weeding in my vegetable garden and a perennial bed. My goal has been to dig out the "baby" trees that have shown up where they shouldn't be. Many of these are walnut trees, no doubt planted by squirrels. The others are what I call Manitoba maples. Yesterday I got started on some and had to call on my husband because they were just too difficult to dig out. Well, naturally a small job became a big job and after much cutting, lopping, digging, and loading up of the Gorilla cart (three times) and dumping in the burn pile, most trees were gone. They had grown up in and around a giant old mock orange and some other shrubs.

I set my sights on smaller trees that had to go. I didn't start without my two best friends:


-gardening gloves and bug spray!

I managed to get rid of a few more, although there was one that I must confess I just cut off close to the bottom. I never would have been able to dig it out without a complete massacre of all plants and shrubs around it. I also tackled some basic weeding.

With those jobs being done, I moved on to the next one. It is an apple year with our old apple tree which only produces every two years. Someone else is also aware that it is an apple year.



Now, don't get me wrong, they can eat as many apples as they want. We don't use them as they are too tiny, sour, and insect ridden for us. However, they don't stop at apples. They enjoy beans, peas, and parsley.

They apples need to be raked up so that the grass can be properly cut. As well, they quickly rot and attract wasps. I got my rake and tackled the job.


The apples get raked into piles.


Then, the apples are scooped up and loaded into the Gorilla cart (what would we do without that thing??) and pulled by the lawn mower and dumped elsewhere. This process will continue several times throughout the summer until the apples are done dropping from the tree.


I did stop to admire my window boxes. They are doing well now, filling in nicely.


I really like creeping jenny in window boxes and urns. It makes them look so feminine and pretty.

Did I mention how much I love crocosmia? It is the reedy looking plant with the red flowers.


I came in to have a snack (and to bandage up a blister that I still managed to get even though I was wearing gloves), and then naturally it started to rain. So I did not get the raked apples loaded up into the cart yet, but they'll certainly be waiting for me when the rain does eventually end.

Guess who isn't the least bit bothered by the rain?


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Walk Around Wednesday- Blooms, Cat, Rain and more

Yes, I realize it is Thursday, but I planned on posting this yesterday, using photos I took on Tuesday. Come for a walk around the property with me.


-spiderwort


-close up of spiderwort bloom


-daylilies are in bloom - beautiful sunny yellow, so eye catching across the yard


-a soft, peachy orange


-a gorgeous, hot reddish orange daylily


-one of my favourites, these are big, sturdy blooms


-I like the colour combination of the "hot" daylilies with purple sandcherry


I only have two roses. This Hansa is normally quite healthy and prolific, but it didn't get cut back properly, so it has had to move forward from a severe cutting back too late this spring and is only now showing a couple of blooms. I'm not much of a rose officiando.


-taller cranesbill are now blooming and fill in spaces in most of my beds


-best year yet!


-purple coneflowers (Echinacea)


-one of my most favourite - crocosmia         -didn't realize how blurry this photo was until I uploaded it :( 


I am quite happy I took pictures of the current blooms, because naturally this morning began with thunder and torrential downpours. These pictures do not capture the intensity of the rain...




Scooter-the-cat-with-no-tail managed to make his way home through the rain and picked up quite a few sticky seeds in his fur on the way.


He's looking a bit bedraggled. I brushed the seeds out of his fur after he was done eating. I can hear him meowing from the windowsill again, as I am typing this.

How are your gardens growing? For those of you in hot, dry places, I would gladly send you some of our rain if I could!

Oh yes, one final addition: we now seem to be the proud "owners" of a skunk. It crawled under a little low porch (the one I stand on to hang laundry - on the two days it didn't rain), it rummages through my compost container (no I don't put meat scraps in it), and it digs around looking for grubs in the lawn. So far, smell is not a problem, and Scooter has not decided it is his long lost mommy, so we are o.k.  I'm just a little concerned about accidentally surprising it with dire results. Anyone have experience with a resident skunk?


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Fifty-One

Yesterday I turned 51 on the 15th which I thought was a neat twist on the numbers. Both of our kids were working yesterday, so husband and I went for a drive. It was the first nice day in I don't know how long. Husband has recently acquired a little new-to-him convertible, so I pulled my hair back and secured it on my head and away we went.

We were on a bit of a quest for something to put on our den wall. Since I had painted the den a few months back, this one main wall has remained pretty much bare. We had some ideas. I love William Morris designs and we thought maybe a tapestry hung on the wall would be great. I also like botanicals or maybe a nice pastural scene. I don't even mind animals (sheep, a stylized rabbit, maybe some cows?) We travelled about an hour or two from our home, to the east to a few small towns along the lake. Oh my, there were some amazingly beautiful homes. (Who lives in these??? What do they do for a living?) The sun was beating down and there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was just so nice to be out.

We didn't find anything that really suited us. In fact, most of the art and prints and other wall d├ęcor in the shops had nautical/ cottage / wilderness themes to them, due to where we were and that's not really what we were after. However, it was nice to poke around and see what was available.

We stopped for a drink and a bite to eat. Yes, I took pictures of our food and felt a bit foolish because that's not really what I do. ("Here's a picture of my lunch! Allow me to bore you with other details about my life!") The reason I took a picture was that I was thinking of soon to be retired John Gray at Going Gently as my husband ordered a Scotch Egg for the first time. It's not really a common food here, but of course I knew what it was from reading John's blog.


Do not be alarmed by the pink colour of the food. The umbrella over our outdoor table was red and it cast a rosy glow over our food and drinks. Husband declared the Scotch Egg to be "awesome". He was especially pleased that he was able to substitute the side of smoked cheddar with a chunk of blue cheese.


My Caesar salad was excellent. (Real bacon, thank you very much)


My ice cold Stella was perfect on a hot day. Husband had a cider. I really despise cider, but he loves it.


I love the sign for the restaurant. You can't get more Canadian than that!

The drive home was equally nice and I took some pictures on the way. The views are gorgeous.




Ha! Expert photographer that I am, I managed to get myself in the shot!

Back home, the kids got home from their respective work places and we ordered Chinese food (husband went to pick it up, we are too far away from town for delivery) and we sat down by the pool and had supper together. Then, of course, it began to rain, so we went in the house for dessert. I normally bake a cake for everyone's birthdays, but I really didn't expect husband or the kids to attempt a cake from scratch and homemade icing (they did one year with memorable results), so we had picked up not one, but two small cakes (I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so got them both). Here are my kids ready to bring the cakes to the table and sing Happy Birthday after having a little fun with the barbecue lighter.


Not sure what son is doing, maybe he already started singing.

It was all very fun and just the way I like it: low key and just husband and my kids. I'm not one for big celebrations. I don't even like birthday phone calls. In fact, I don't even like talking on the phone. I can't do small talk. In my regular life, I am a true introvert.

As I was reading blogs recently, I discovered that many people have the same birthday as me. So, if I missed out on some of you, happy birthday to all those July 15th babies, or any July babies for that matter. Most of us are probably Cancers, an unfortunate horoscope sign by association, but real lovers of home, security, honesty, and fairness.

So, yesterday was lovely. Ahhh, but Mother Nature didn't want us getting too smug, so here was this morning.

More rain. I took the hanging plants down so they could get a drink, too.


The bird bath stays filled. Birds don't even use it. Those are metal birds that are attached to the bird bath. The cat sat in it once, though, when it had no water in it.

In fact, the power flickered on and off a couple of times this morning. I gave up on writing my blog until now, this evening. It cleared a bit later in the morning but the day stayed cloudy and not nearly as warm as yesterday. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

I'm not really a binge watcher. There are only a small amount of tv shows that I regularly watch and I'm not a big movie person. However, I recently discovered a crime drama on Netflix that I absolutely couldn't tear myself away from. What else are you going to do on a rainy day after you throw in a load of laundry? I am now finished two seasons of "The Killing". It is so good. There are two more seasons and I'm looking forward to watching the rest of it! Has anyone else watched it? Don't tell me what happens, please!