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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

When to deconstruct Christmas?

Christmas is one of those big events that takes a lot of planning and preparation leading up to the big day. Then the big day happens in a flurry, but you are too busy to genuinely be part of things and really relax and enjoy it. In a short time, the day is over and you are left sitting, tired, and wondering what happened.

Christmas was very nice here. Christmas day was spent quietly with just the four of us and a ham. The next day, Boxing Day, was spent with 16 people mostly in the kitchen (good thing it's big enough) eating WAY too much food ahead of time and then not actually able to cram around our table even though we had two extentions on either end. (I really thought we would all fit!). The meal turned out well and I had lot of help tidying up.

But now, on December 30th, I am tempted to pack it all up. The kids are older, so it isn't like the "magic" of Christmas is the same. We are not having anyone over for New Year's Eve, so it's not like I should have decorations up for company. The giant rubbermaid bins are still upstairs, waiting to be repacked and put away for another year. Yes, it is a royal pain taking everything down, apart, packing, padding, re-labelling because they don't end up in the same boxes as last year...

How long do most people keep their Christmas decor out? I suppose it depends on how long it has already been on display. But for me, it's like the rush and exhilaration is over and now it is time to move on. It may sound a bit "grinchy", but even though we are still picking away at turkey leftovers and ham leftovers and lord knows, chocolate and cookie leftovers, I'm so done with Christmas! Anyone else feel that way?

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Baking

I've spent some time doing my usual Christmas baking. One of my family's favourites starts being baked in the fall and continues throughout the winter as well. They are formally called Molasses Sugar Cookies.
Here they are laid out on baking racks to cool. The recipe that I will include makes this amount (a little less than 2 dozen depending on the size).
They are never-fail, easy to make cookies which are nice and crinkly on top and moist on the inside. I take them to the staff room for special occasions and have brought them to family Thanksgivings.

Here is the recipe:
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
additional sugar for rolling the cookie balls in

In a large mixing bowl, mix the oil, sugar, and molasses together. Add the egg and mix well. I do not bother to pre-mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and ginger and mix well. Use a teaspoon or scant tablespoon as a scooping guide, roll small ball of cookie dough in your hands, then roll in a small bowl of white sugar. Place on cookie sheet (I use parchment paper as well) in ball form. They do not need pressing down. Bake at 375 for aprx. 7-9 minutes.




In addition, I also made:

Sugar cookies which got decorated later...





These are peanut butter rice crispie squares. Enough corn syrup and peanut butter to choke a horse!

I also made the chocolate clusters made from chocolate chips, peanuts, butterscotch chips, and chowmein noodles.

Good thing not everyone is stressed over holiday baking!

Oops, he's a bit blurry! (and furry)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Danger Zone

I am entering the danger zone. (cue Kenny Loggins). This is the time where I am now off work for a bit, and I am questioning the shopping I have already done. Who doesn't have enough? What about the stockings? Are they equal? Do I need to get a bit more for this one? What about mine? Do I buy something else and just say, "Oh, just get me this." And what about the perennially impossible-to-buy-for husband????  Drives me nuts. This is when I forget what is already crammed in bags in  my closet behind the clothes hamper (not yet wrapped). This is when I enter stores and, in an act of  desperation, start buying little things, just in case it doesn't seem fair.


What also makes it tough is that teenage son has a very early January birthday. So you end up buying more for him and keep some of it back for the birthday. ( I know people whose birthdays are December 24th and December 25th and I think it must have really sucked when they were kids, feeling cheated out of a "real" birthday).


Can anyone else relate to the last minute scramble?


Oh, and I also begin my baking frenzy. I will, however, post about my favourite Molasses Spice cookies! Crackled on the top, chewy, moist and heavenly in the middle.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Setting Up For Christmas

Many years I go on a mad marathon frenzy of setting up the whole house for Christmas all at once. (Apart from the tree which depends upon when we buy it and when my husband gets it ready in the tree stand). I keep all of our decorations in large Rubber Maid boxes and bins whose labels have been scratched out and re-written over the years, some saying "1/3 village", or "snowman collection", or "tree ornaments".


The boxes are kept in a small room or large closet, depending on your frame of reference which I have deemed, "The Rubbermaid Room". It is part of the addition built onto our house and has shelving that fits three levels up and can hold two boxes deep, depending on the box. This room also holds other boxed things that are to be kept, not gotten rid of, such as children's toys, our own momentos, an album collection (??? why?), Hallowe'en collections, and work-related items. But the largest stash is definitely Christmas.


This year I did not go on a frenzied marathon, instead I did a little here, a little there. Today I will focus on the village. This is something started by my husband. He always wanted a village display and it began humbly with a couple of buildings and a few little stand alone items. When we first started the village, there were various kinds of village displays from which to choose and we had to decide on the size we wanted. Some had quite small buildings, others larger. My husband had a "go big or go home" attitude about it, so we started in on the larger size. It was a lovely tradition, where one or two more buildings would be purchased each Christmas to add to the village. We would always find a large selection at Zellers, a department store in Canda, which has now unfortunately closed shop.


Because our village started small, it first was displayed on a simple dresser that we used as a piece of furniture in the corner of our big old country kitchen. Single layer, very simple. Our daughter was wee little at the time and we have a video of her telling about the different buildings. One is a rustic log pub which shows people sitting at tables through the front window. She announced, "And this is where people drink..." It still makes us laugh when we watch it.


As the village grew, it required more space, so it then moved to being displayed on top of a sideboard that we bought early in our marriage at an auction. We paid $75.00 for the sideboard and it has stayed in our home in different rooms playing various roles ever since. At that point I started using the original cardboard boxes that the buildings came in (always stored them in those with the Styrofoam to keep them from breaking), draped them in quilt batting (snow), so I could create different layers. We had more 'upscale' homes, so those were uptown. A downtown core was also created with the different stores we purchased.







Then, after a trip to Prince Edward Island, my husband built me a hutch very similar to one we saw in our travels, so the sideboard got moved. That Christmas, the village also moved to the top of a huge t.v. unit in the den. It was no longer at eye-level, but it was lovely to look at from a distance and the little lights inside each building created a nice, warm glow in the evenings. I still elevated some of the homes. It was quite a snaky confusing mess of wires and power bars hidden behind and below the 'snow'. At some point, the kids also helped to set up the village. We each would perch on top of wooden stools from the kitchen and help to hold things, move things, plug things in.


One year my husband set it up because he thought it would look nice on the hutch he built, but I could not see how it could be done by having wires and power bars showing at the fronts of the shelves due to where everything could be plugged in, so I said, "Go for it!" and let him figure it out.
Last year, we sold our huge t.v. unit and replaced it with a gorgeous Craftsman style piece which cannot possibly hold our village, so the village now occupies the hutch again. However, this year, my husband, my son, and myself put it together. Our daughter is off at university writing her exams, and so she was unable to help. (We did promise her we would not decorate the tree until she was able to come home). It looks wonderful. I still have a shelf above the village that is currently empty. I am not certain what I will put there. I want something simple because I don't want anything to "compete" with the details of the village.
This was the first year the village was set up on the hutch that my husband built.


If you were to visit our village, you would see: 3 rather grand homes, 3 simpler houses, a school, a museum, a mill, the country pub (where people drink), a book shop with a small coffee shop attached to it, shoe store, Christmas shop, and a bakery.  All of these were chosen for specific, personal reasons. As well, there is a tree house (in honour of the tree house my husband built for the kids which is no longer in existence due to a nasty wind storm), a bridge, a duck pond, a gazebo, and many trees, stone walls, fences, people, and Santa Claus.
This is the village this year. It now occupies three levels.

The stone mill beside the treehouse and duck pond (because a mill needs to be close to a water source!).

One of the larger homes with an older couple drinking tea inside and carolers outside.



Here you can see the bakery with children building a snowman by the town square's gazebo. Santa is available today at the gazebo.

We would probably add to our village even more, but as stated earlier, Zellers does not exist anymore. We have not found any other villages in stores like ours. (Keep in mind, we are pretty rural here and don't get to 'the big city' very often, where likely we would be able to find something that would work with our village). So for now, there is no expansion in the works. But every year that we unpack the village from its three large bins, there are still comments like, "Oh ya, I forgot about this one." or "I've always liked the people in this window." or "We should put the pub beside the mill so they can go for a drink after work."
Do any of you have a village as part of your Christmas decorations?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Talking about the weather...

I've heard it said that Canadians love to talk about the weather. It's really the only conversation I've been having with people for the past few days. Living in the Grey/Bruce area now for 25 years, we are used to weather extremes. We get what is called "Lake Effect" snow, coming off Lake Huron. As well, I've heard that if the lake is still open (i.e. not frozen over yet), you will get a lot more snow. This is again the case. As it was last year.


A general rule of thumb for us is to use the screens on our windows as indicators of how bloody awful it is out there. If the snow sticks to the screens, stay put. It means we are experiencing a snow squall with next to no visibility and it will continue until is just runs out of steam. Could be a few hours, could be days, could mean road closures. So... on Thursday of this week, the snow stuck to the screens. In all directions. The snow just did not let up. All. Day. Long. Surprisingly we did not have road closures to the extent that I thought we would.
Hmmmm, I guess I better move the bistro set soon.


I do not know how much of this snow we will keep. There has been talk of freezing rain. That ought to be interesting.  Kids got a few days away from school. My teenager slept in like it was an Olympic sporting event. (How do they not have to get up to go to the bathroom???) The cat tries one door, then decides perhaps a different door would have less snow in front of it, and on it goes. Husband has been burning a lot of wood in the woodstove because it is "cozier" that way. (We don't actually heat with it, apart from just that room that it is in. The heat doesn't travel well to the nether reaches of our old house). But I must admit it makes me feel Christmasy. It makes me think 'gingerbread'. I had a dream last night about not getting a Christmas tree and it was Christmas Eve. In the dream my husband was convinced that a piece of turkey could be propped up and used as a tree. Good lord.


And now for true confession time, there are still pumpkins and potted mums sitting on my porch and by the carport door. They are now covered in snow. I had full intentions of composting the mums and tossing the pumpkins into the old chicken run that is fenced in, in hopes that they would start to rot and self-seed, thereby giving me a separate pumpkin garden so I wouldn't have to provide space for pumpkins in my regular garden.So... snow or no snow, that is on my "to do" list for this weekend.

Spot the mum and the pumpkin. (I know, I can't see the pumpkin either).


One more note... the alpaca mittens are cozy cozy cozy. They also shed like a bugger and my black coat looks like I own a large fluffy light-coloured dog who loves me a lot.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

October Happenings

Misty, frosty October morning.
This has been a month of many happenings, some wonderful, some busy, some "under the weather", and one quite tragic. Thanksgiving came and went with turkey, outdoor work being done, and then coughing and nose blowing! Our daughter celebrated her Commencement at her highschool being an Ontario Scholar and winning other awards as well. We were very proud and she looked lovely in her little black dress.

Our son just got braces on his teeth, a new experience for our family, as neither my husband nor I had them when we were young (but gosh, I wish I had, would still love to have beautiful straight teeth), and our daughter, who is older, never required them. I discovered that mouths really hurt after braces are first installed and one must have enough "mushy" food available for the first few days. (The discovery of making a protein shake of frozen yogurt, vanilla protein powder, banana, and milk in the blender was a happy one!).

More work was accomplished in our kitchen by hubby, but then he was struck down by evil viruses. It is the ceiling trim that is currently being worked on.

We have wasps in our house. Everyday when I come home from work, there are a few wasps to swat as they gather against sunny windows. We think we know where they are coming in, but do not have  a ladder tall enough to reach the upper most corner of our old house, nor do we wish to crawl around on our bellies in an insulation-filled attic. I am hoping that cold weather will decimate them. Unfortunately, one landed in braces-boy's hot chocolate the other day (unbeknownst to him! with unfortunate results!).

The tragic event is one which has made for sobering discussions and moments. The young mother (42) of three lovely teenage girls, one of whom my son had a special relationship with for a couple of years, died after fighting cancer for a year and a half. In a small community such as ours, this hits people very hard. My heart goes out to that family and I wonder, as a mom, how these girls will cope. I will attend the visitation with my son. I feel, lately, that I have gone to too many visitations of people who have not lived long enough.

To end on a much more upbeat note, when the family was all together after Thanksgiving, with my coughing daughter home from university for "reading week", I decided to get an animal "fix". I grew up in the country, spending time at my uncle's farm a lot. I love watching animals, being around them, talking in ridiculous voices to them... Now that I do not have my backyard chicken flock anymore, I do not have the same contact with critters, other than our two cats. So, I read in the local paper that there would be an open barn at the alpaca farm at the edge of town. Off I went with son and daughter on a cold, windy morning to visit a lovely farm with a small barn filled with alpacas. Many were outside grazing and wandering around, but inside were still others. Moms and babies, weaned young ones, all willing to be photographed. The people who own these creatures take them to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, the C.N.E. (Canadian National Exhibition) in Toronto, sell breeding stock, and have their incredibly soft fur (wool?) knit into gorgeous items. I treated myself to mittens for this winter! I was in my glory in a barn, surrounded by animal / hay smells. My kids enjoyed the experience too, although perhaps not to the extent that I did. Enjoy some of the pictures that were taken that day.


This is one of the young alpacas. Doesn't it have sweet, gentle eyes?

Alpacas eat hay. When you have such groovy, spiky hair as this, sometimes you get a little caught in your hairdo.

These two were brought out into the aisle and enticed with treats so that I could pose with them. Hubby saw the charge on our credit card account before I came home and was worried I had put a down payment on an alpaca, but it was just the mittens I bought.

I'm ready for my close up!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumnal Pics

Here are some fall photos from various years.


I love the combination of yellow and purple with the black eyes susans and the asters.

These are two of our maple trees (they are much bigger now) in our back yard.

I love rainbow pictures. This one was an autumn one.

An autumn display from several years ago. I now grow my own pumpkins and got about 7 or 8 good ones this year.

Hamming it up with my pumpkin pies. Again, a few years ago.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Thanksgiving Morning

In Canada, this is the Thanksgiving weekend. Today we are celebrating as a smaller family. Often, we get together with my siblings and their children. Many years ago, we would gather at my parents' home, but both my father and mother have passed away, so family traditions change over time. Thanksgiving is a time of food and variable weather. This morning there is a definite bite in the air. I can see frost on my neighbour's dark charcoal coloured shingles.


On the menu today is a frozen pre-stuffed turkey. I bought one accidentally years ago. I took it out of the freezer a couple of days ahead of Thanksgiving to begin defrosting it and read the label more carefully. (You don't thaw pre-stuffed turkeys, you stick them in the oven frozen). It ended up being an absolutely delicious turkey. So some years I buy pre-stuffed (usually for Thanksgiving), and other times I just buy a frozen turkey, thaw it in my big cooler with cold water in it and go through the process of making stuffing and stuff the turkey myself. Honestly, it's much less hassle going the pre-stuffed route.


On the menu as well is mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, cranberry sauce (yup, out of a can, although I have made my own at times), buns, gravy, and a little pot of brussel sprouts for me (I'm the only one in our immediate family who likes them). I baked two pumpkin pies yesterday so the oven would be free for the turkey today. I have also, in the past, gotten up early and baked my pies in the morning, so I could put the turkey in around noon so it would be ready for supper.


However, due to the time of year, the Thanksgiving weekend is often a time of getting things done. For example, the farmer who owns the land around our property has been busy combining soy beans. He just drove past in his large truck that they dump the beans in. I still have to clean out flower pots and urns, rip out my vegetable garden (or at the very least take in my tomato cages and other support structures), put mouse poison in my shed, and get started on cutting back my perennials. Tomorrow is a holiday Monday, so that should give me some good time to get things done. My husband was busy cutting and putting up trim pieces to create the moulding around the ceiling of our kitchen which was renovated this past year. My daughter arrived home from University and celebrated Commencement on Friday night, receiving numerous awards (so proud!), and is now going to study for the remainder of her mid-terms.


I will post Thanksgiving, autumn-type photos later when I am able too use a different computer. I tried Google Chrome on this one, but it messed up other necessary things, so I deleted it. Without it, I am unable to put photos in my blog. I also tried Firefox with similar annoyances, so that too went away. So, for now, imagine pictures of beautifully coloured leaves, shiny brown roasted turkeys, and steaming pumpkin pies... Can you smell them?


I will sit on my porch in a moment with my coffee, but might need a blanket to wrap around myself!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

September Breakfast

One thing I love about September is ripe peaches. End of August, and then into September, peaches are available and at their best. Any other time of the year, peaches are horrible little round tasteless orbs of hardness, like a croquet ball. One of my favourite breakfasts at this time of year involves oatmeal, cinnamon, a cut up peach and yogurt, preferably vanilla yogurt.







I heat up water in the kettle, put some "instant" oatmeal in a bowl with a good sprinkling of cinnamon, pour on enough boiling water to soak the oatmeal, then cut up a peach, and top the whole thing with a few dollops of yogurt. It is heavenly and filling.
Watching the proceedings from the windowsill is Nelly, once again waiting to be let in. It was quite brisk this morning.
Husband and I went to TSC for two bolts with which to finish the front brakes project on the vehicle I drive, and for the biggest amount of mouse poison we can legally buy without a license. Already I am hearing the mice skittering around in the walls of our 100 + year old house. Our other cat, the mouser, is gifting us mice (full, partial, and unidentified internal organ) on a regular basis, but there is no way he can keep up with an acre of property surrounded by soybean fields and fallow land full of lovely weeds.
We have had enough mouse damage over the years to things such as riding lawn mowers and the bottom rubber sweep of a garage door to the shed that I have no sympathy for the little buggers.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Beans!

     The beans in my garden are coming on fast! I need to get out there and pick them more frequently. So, the other day, I picked a big bowlful, and took out the other beans that were waiting for me in the fridge and began the process of washing, cutting off the stem ends, blanching, and bagging them for freezing.
These are my green and purple beans all washed and cut up waiting to be blanched.

I blanch them in boiling water for three minutes. The handy dandy inner pot is a strainer that just lifts out.

Beans are now cooling off in a very cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve all the goodness and colour. Notice how the purple beans are not purple anymore.


The beans are now in medium sized freezer bags and labelled with the year. I probably have last season's beans still in some bags buried at the bottom of my freezer, so it is best to eat those up first! I squeeze as much air out as possible by tightly folding over the top of the bag before zipping it shut.

     I ended up with 9 and a half full-sized bags (medium size zip freezer bags) which would provide a side dish for one of our meals. One way that my kids really like green beans is in a casserole, the one with the mushroom soup and the French-fried onions. I never used to make that until a few years ago when I clipped the recipe from a magazine advertisement. It is usually a Thanksgiving or Christmas thing. Normally I would just boil them up in a pot and put some butter and salt on them.


     So, as a result of weeding, picking, cutting back the jungle which encroaches our property (we have "fallow" land, i.e. weed filled, on two sides of us, and a neglected overgrown neighbouring yard which is hatching baby walnut trees and wild grape vines at a break neck speed on a third) I developed a very itchy blistery rash on my lower arms and legs. It was even disturbing my sleep, so I ended up seeing a doctor about it and he diagnosed contact dermatitis. This means my skin came in contact with something irritating. I got a prescription for a good anti-itch cream and some recommendations for taking antihistamines. The itch is abated somewhat, but the nasty looking red blistery things are still there. Kind of grosses me out, actually.
     Anyone else have sensitive skin which complains about the plants in which you work?
    

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My Heart is Sad

To me, Robin Williams was Mork. You could even buy those rainbow coloured suspenders when I was in grade school. He made his first appearance as Mork on Happy Days.


His interviews on talk shows. That incredibly quick mind. I adored him.


To my children, perhaps he started out for them as the voice of the Genie in Aladin. My 18 year old daughter was truly sad last night.


Just a theory, but I wonder if many of those comic geniuses don't suffer from a form of bi-polar disorder which allows them to be so full of energy and amazing talent when manic, but then experience the lows privately. I do not know what brought Robin Williams to make that ultimate decision to end his life. He will be tremendously missed.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Follow up on the cat...

     So... Mr. Samson got to the vet yesterday. She was great and gave him a thorough once-over. Then I had a deja vu moment. Samson had an absess on his bottom. He had been bitten by another cat and it became infected and absessed. We didn't even know!
     Now, why was this a deja vu moment? Well, a few years back, we brought our other cat, Nellie, to the same vet location thinking she was on death's door, only to be told she had an absess from a cat bite. Same location.
    Where did Nellie's bite come from? Samson.

     Karma.


     Anyway, he got some subcutaneous fluids for dehydration and a week's worth of liquid antibiotics with a follow-up appointment to make sure he is healing and gaining some weight.
This is Nellie. She is 18 and a half years old. 

     It is highly unlikely that Nellie is the culprit this time. Samson spends most of his time outside, patrolling. Nellie spends most of her time in the house, sleeping. He does NOT enjoy having the liquid antibiotics administered to him, so this morning he received his dose with some salmon in a bowl.

Amount of times Nellie wanted to be let out/in within a half hour span this morning: 5

Monday, 4 August 2014

Bees

     I love bees. Because I spend a lot of time surrounded by flowers, I end up spending a lot of time around bees. There has been much concern about bee populations dying in our area. Bee keepers are talking about chemicals being sprayed on fields. I also remember news of bee diseases in the past too. If the bees in my gardens are any indication of bee health and vitality, then I am happy to report that all are alive and well here.
The bees have especially been enjoying this hydrangea, "White Dome".
     I also enjoy bumble bees. They make a wonderful sound as they crawl in and around blooms and are slow enough that you can watch them, and see how covered in pollin they become. Bumble bees remind me of a Beatrix Potter story, "The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse". We had videos of Beatrix Potter stories that our kids watched when they were little and in this story, the mouse was a rather anal, O.C.D. creature who was cleaning up her mouse hole and then a toad shows up wanting food. He smells honey, and as it turns out, there is a honeycomb in the mouse's house and the toad ends up with a mouth full of bees. A big mess ensues and the mouse then has to clean up all over again.
     I know many people, children especially, who are afraid of bees. Personally, I have never been stung by a bee. I have even brushed them away while gardening. No problem. I have been stung by a wasp. Wasps are different. Wasps have a bad attitude. 
     Enjoy your day and go out and watch some bees.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Do you suppose he heard us talking?

     So... yesterday our "younger" cat had a vet appointment. He is not himself. About a month ago, something happened to his tail. Some kind of injury caused a bunch of hair loss and a decent wound, but he took care of it, licking it, and it didn't seem infected, so we let it go. However, since then, he just seems morose. He moves carefully, he still complains when you touch his tail, and he is skinnier than his normal "outdoor cat in the summer" skinny.
     So, I made an appointment with our local vet located about an eight minute drive away. I saw the cat earlier in the morning, let him in from his usual sleeping spot on a chair on the back porch. He had a bite to eat and then wanted out. I left for an appointment of my own and then returned in time so I could go with the husband to the vet and find out what kind of money this would run into!
     No cat. We called and called and called. I'm sure the entire village was sick and tired of hearing us call our cat. I rattled the bag of treats as well. Husband drove around and called. (Crazy people!) No cat.
     I had to call the vet and sheepishly explain that we couldn't find him. Thank goodness the gal at the desk laughed and agreed that it sometimes happens with outdoor cats. A new appointment has been made, but of course it is a holiday weekend here in Canada, so he won't be seen for another four days.
This is normally what he is like. Stealthy, full of personality. 

His name is Samson.

 Anyway, he showed up at about 4:00 that afternoon.

    

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Can you find the vegetables?

I am not the most committed weeder. I will go full force for a day, feel it in every muscle for the next three, then life gets busy and the weeds set in and before I know it, they've taken over. As proof, here is a picture of my vegetable garden. In it, there are potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, strawberries, zuchinni, and about 5 sad little peppers currently protected by a screen. Can you find any of them?

I spent a couple of hours weeding yesterday. The carnage remains thrown around the outside of the garden to be raked up and dumped, but here are the results. I can now see patches of soil and ended up picking two huge collanders of beans and harvested a zuchinni that was about a foot and a half long!

For the past couple of years I have planted these really neat purple beans. They are called Royal Burgundy. The flowers are very pretty and the beans are a lovely dark purple. They taste just like green beans and after they are boiled in water, they turn green.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Concerning this weather...

     O.K., I know it is very Canadian to talk about the weather, but seriously folks... it feels like October in the morning when I get up, and again at night, and pretty much throughout the day. We are not lacking in rain. The plants are growing (as well as the weeds) but imagine their delight if the temperature were to go up! Imagine how they would breath a sigh of relief at not having to huddle together to stay warm or brace themselves against the wind. Imagine how excited I would be at wearing something sleeveless.
    Yesterday I popped into a friend's for a quick visit and we sat out on her charming patio surrounded by daylilies and hydrangeas. It was beautiful. And cold. I think I literally shivered, short of teeth chattering, while we talked. She was wearing a sweater!!!  In July!
     I have heard the term Polar Vortex being thrown around to describe our current weather system. Others speak of global warming. All I know is I feel rather cheated out of a summer so far.
     We have a pool. It was a husband do-it-himself project. Yes, he put in his own in-ground pool. (Save that for a later post!). We heat the water using solar panels through which the water runs. This means our pool water heats up if there is sun. We also drag a "solar blanket" (large blue bubble wrap) over the pool at night. But unfortunately lack of sun and extremely chilly temperatures at night have resulted in a refreshingly brisk pool. This is sad. I think we may make better use of one of those nice metal firepits on the pool deck.

one of my favourite dark daylily called "Salieri"

glorious hollyhock catching a fleeting ray of sun







Hope you are having a nice warm day wherever you are, and enjoy a coffee on the porch.

Going for it!

      After being a lurker for quite a while now, I am beginning my own blog. In this light-hearted blog I will share my trials and tribulations with gardening, (both flower and vegetable), inform you about which particular do-it-himself project the husband is currently working on, figure out what's for supper, and tell you how many times I've let the cat out.
      I'm not quite at the half century mark and have accumulated some experience and wisdom (?) in a few areas. I'm a Canadian mom of two teenagers who have turned out to be pretty great kids. I have a full-time career of 25 years. My family and I live in an old brick house in a really small village. We are quite rural, and up until a year ago had a backyard coop of several chickens. The husband also has a career and is pretty confident in doing projects himself, from car work, to general repairs, to renovations. Long-suffering wives of D.I.Y. husbands may enjoy this aspect of "Coffee on the Porch with Me".
      I love growing things and digging in the dirt, and I'm a true believer in the "survival of the fittest" approach to gardening. I've never hired a landscaper or garden designer (perhaps that shows!) and I am happy to share perennials as well as advice. I get an incredible amount of joy from eating, freezing, and canning vegetables that I have grown. My vegetable garden is not pristine, and if bindweed was a cash crop, I'd be independently wealthy.
      I am embarking on the new experience of sending a child off to university this fall, so there may be future posts on that topic as well. Also, my second child is beginning highschool in the fall. Many firsts for our family.
      I am looking forward to learning more about blogging and posting what are hopefully amusing, interesting snippits of my life. So, please join me for a cup of coffee on the porch.

These happy eggs happened accidentally when I was making chocolate zuchinni cake the other day!