Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm GOOD!


It's been a while since my last blog post. I feel guilty, but hey .... it's summer! I'm not sure if that's much of an excuse but I'm going to use it anyway. The weather this summer has been "interesting" to say the least but in spite of a "post tropical storm" and a two day power outage, I'm good. - not "well" - GOOD!

Now I do know that "good" is an adjective and "well" is an adverb, and I would never say "I'm doing good at school," or The team played good yesterday. But ..... It drives me crazy when someone asks, "How are you?" and the reply is, "I am well". It may, or may not be grammatically correct (you can check the debate at "Grammar Girl" below), but it just sounds too highfalutin!
So, if you ask me how I've been, my reply will always be .... GOOD! 

Here a little clip from 30 Rock about the use of "good".
Grammar faux pas on 30 Rock

If your interested in the "grammar debate" read all about it below.
Grammar Girl

Monday, June 23, 2014

We All Need a Good Hair Cut Now and Then!

It's not even July and my Petunias and Pansies are already looking "long in the tooth"! We've had some heavy rain and strong winds so I could blame it on that..... but once again good old YouTube comes to the rescue! Little did I know that all they need is a good trip to the hairdresser (or some serious snipping with the garden shears) to make them look beautiful again. (If I thought it would work for me I'd get my sleeping bag and camp out at the beauty parlor!)

My "leggy" Petunia basket below has already received a good "snip", but I think I may have to be more brutal .....  hate to see it having to endure the humiliation of a bad hair cut though! Check out the video below for some great instructions on how to care for Petunias and the proper method of deadheading. Apparently I've been doing it all wrong all these years!


My pretty Pansies are crying out for a makeover as well. From the video below I learned that all I have to do is snip away the little seed pod (see below) and any wilted looking blossoms.


So..... if some of your posies are looking a little peaked, all they may need is a good hair cut!

Caring for Petunias

How to Keep Pansies Flowering All Season Long

Deadheading Annuals

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ai Weiwei

I just saw this photo posted on Facebook by a former colleague at CISB (Canadian International School of Beijing), a school that I taught at a few years ago. The famous Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei is in the center. Apparently his son now attends this school! The two ladies on the left are Canadian teachers with whom I worked. How impressive is that? 


If you are not familiar with the Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei you can check out some of his work below and listen to an interview with him by Jian Ghomeshi.

Interview with Jian Ghomeshi






Friday, June 13, 2014

Garden Musings

Ah .... warm (well warm er)  weather at last, and time to poke around in the garden. It can be very therapeutic but, if you are infested with deer, very frustrating. Therefore I do it with a "grain of salt". I only spend money on things that are safe from "Bambi" like hanging baskets (hung really high) or pots you would have to climb stairs to get to.


The Fuchsia and Pansies are on our upper deck and the Phlox and Spurge are perennials so no cost there .... if the deer eat them .... there's always next year!



Our woodsy gazebo serves as a cool retreat when the sun is blistering (well maybe just very warm as opposed to "blistering!). I would like to adorn it with showy, colourful flowers but I know that would be a mistake. So, I've filled a few pots with leafy perennials, that I have tonnes of, just to add a little visual interest. For colour, I thought I might paint the flower pots bright colours .... perhaps get colourful chairs?? See .... there's more than one way to skin a cat (.. or deer, or anything that buggers up your garden decor!)

Happy Summer .... and gardening !- (if you're into it!)


Monday, June 2, 2014

Gastronomical Adventures!




There's nothing like a road trip in spring ..... especially if it includes great food! Last week my friend Diane and I headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia to attend her daughter-in-law's graduation from medical school and to visit my son and his girlfriend in the lovely town of Lunenburg. The scenery was awesome, the companionship and visits with family was wonderful and the food was deeeelicious! No fast foods joints for us, just nice restaurants and scrumptious little cafes! 

Diane and I are travel companions from way back ..... I mean way back! When we were backpacking through Europe in the 70s, gastronomical delights were usually foil wrapped triangles of Laughing Cow processed cheese and a package of Knorr soup prepared over our portable "camping gas" tank. Things did improve, however, when we found ourselves a couple of "sugar daddies" in Germany who treated us to some good schnitzel and other German cuisine. Later on, when our kids were young, we would get together for yearly visits that included meals for a crowd (six kids and four adults) prepared at home ..... my standby was "prepared ahead" lasagna. As our families got older we continued to travel together and enjoyed eating out but often we had the tastes of other travel companions to consider as well as distance, time constraints, costs and whether or not there might be a nice washroom. On this road trip, however, our first consideration when choosing an eatery, was satisfying our own taste buds!

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Agricola Street Brasserie on Agricola Street in Halifax (did you know that agricola means farmer in Latin? - I should know - I took 4 years of Latin in high school! LOL!) was our first stop. I had a mushroom quiche and a side of squash with toasted barley and lime juice .. yum!
  • After walking around downtown Halifax Saturday morning for an hour and a half and hoofing it up that steep hill back to our lodging , I was starving. Not wanting to take another step, we found a great deli for lunch across the street from our hotel. Diane had a club sandwich that could have fed a family of four, and I had the delicious combo below. The soup was different but delicious!


Corned beef sandwich with sweet and sour borscht at Hali Deli


Since I was in Thailand I've been hooked on green curry! I mean I LOVE this stuff. It's almost embarrassing .... Diane sent a text to my husband while we were in the restaurant to say that I was moaning over my green curry! 

  • En route between Halifax and Lunenburg we chose a scenic tour, stopping at Peggy's Cove, Chester and Mahone Bay. In Chester we had lunch at the Kiwi Cafe where I enjoyed a BLAT  " A grilled Panini roll filled with bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and garlic mayo" and a nice cup of tea! Lovely!


Peggy's Cove 

  • The culinary fun just kept on going during our two day visit in Lunenburg. We enjoyed meals at two great restaurants just a short walk from Joel and Alicia's place. On Saturday evening we ate at a new Restaurant called Lincoln Street Food where I had some delicious scallops. I couldn't find their website but I did find this blog featuring the restaurant with some great photos - Lincoln Street Foods. After some serious second hand shopping on Sunday we had lunch at the Salt Shaker Deli, where I enjoyed a delicious chowder packed with sea food. On our last night, Alicia made a fabulous meal of manicotti and  kale Caesar salad with homemade, dairy free, coconut cream pie! 

While it may look like all we did was eat, that's not exactly true. We did lots of sight seeing as you can see by my pic of Peggy's cove above. Lunenburg also has some great sights with its fabulous architecture ..... Diane even found a building that matched her outfit! Joel showed us the community garden that he and Alicia have been working on (an incredible amount of administration on Alicia's part and Joel worked on building the raised beds) as well as one of the recent carpentry projects he's worked on. The modern looking home in the collage below is a house designed by Brian Mackay Lyons, a Nova Scotia architect, that Joel and his company are completing. We had fun in a vintage clothing shop in Halifax and visited a great farmers market..... and I just had to sneak in a pic of my favorite cat enjoying a rest on my sleeping bag. Our great four days on the road ended with a walk down memory lane for Diane when she visited her old stomping grounds in Greenwood and finally a relaxing ride on the Princess of Acadia back to New Brunswick. Can't wait for the next road trip!

 



Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Club Worthy

Well I have to admit that I have been a bit desperate lately for a blog post idea. However, the other night I was talking "books" with a group of friends and one of them suggested that I send her a list of books that I have enjoyed and might recommend for her book club. Thus ..... this blog post!

The following is a list of a few books that I have read recently and enjoyed (obviously I have left out the ones that I struggled through or gave away after the first chapter!).  As I said, I liked them all but I have added a bit more info to a few.

photo from Good Reads

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This was delightful! The book is written in a series of letters, which at first I thought I would not like but I quickly got used to it. It takes place, for the most part on the Guernsey Island just after WWII. The story is mostly about how the residents of the island coped with the German occupation during the war ... and of course a romantic interest doesn't hurt the plot either! Check out the link below that includes a great little video narrated by one of the authors.
Random House - Guernsey Lit


 The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Lit Lovers - summary

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Lit Lovers - summary

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Lit Lovers - summary

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Sisters Brothers, I believe won the Man Booker Prize in 2011. It is very different from most titles I choose and has a (believe it or not) a "western" theme! My husband read it and liked it and a female friend also enjoyed it so I thought I'd give it a go. Indeed, I did really enjoy it and actually laughed out loud several times!
Man Booker synopsis of Sisters Brothers

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This is an incredible biography of the childhood and family life of the author. Her and her siblings endured and eventually thrived in spite of the poverty and instability brought on by their good spirited, intelligent, but extremely dysfunctional parents. If you've ever fretted over your parenting skills or feared that your children will be scarred for life if you miss a school event, your parental confidence will be restored after you read this book. ... sad but delightful and funny at the same time!


Photo from Amazon

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong

This is one of my all time favorite books. It is a good read written by a Canadian journalist and human rights activist with a New Brunswick connection. In fact she recently had a speaking engagement this year in Hampton (a community 20 minutes away from my home.) If you are interested in hearing her speak check out the link to a video of her on the National Speakers Bureau

Charlotte Taylor lived in the front row of history. In 1775, at the young age of twenty, she fled her English country house and boarded a ship to Jamaica with her lover, the family’s black butler. Soon after reaching shore, Charlotte’s lover died of yellow fever, leaving her alone and pregnant in Jamaica. In the sixty-six years that followed, she would find refuge with the Mi’kmaq of what is present-day New Brunswick, have three husbands, nine more children and a lifelong relationship with an aboriginal man. Using a seamless blend of fact and fiction, Charlotte Taylor's great-great-great-granddaughter, Sally Armstrong, reclaims the life of a dauntless and unusual woman and delivers living history with all the drama and sweep of a novel. (copied from Amazon )

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
lawrence hill -summary etc

The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman
alice hoffman - synopsis

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Lit Lovers - summary

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
I particularly enjoyed these because of my experience in China, but I think that they would interest anyone else as well. Dreams of Joy  is the sequel to Shanghai Girls.
Lit Lovers - summary

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The book is based on the relationship of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson. I was inspired to read this after reading The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway ..... I'm not a big Hemingway fan or anything, but I felt the need to read one of his novels after touring his home in Cuba. The Sun Also Rises, among other things, depicts the lifestyles of expat Americans and Brits living abroad and, in that way shares similarities with The Paris Wife.

Monday, May 12, 2014

All They Need is Air!

My little air plant in its home of sea glass in a shooter glass.
The little statue next to it is from Thailand.

On Easter Weekend my son and his girlfriend came to visit and when they left I found this little plant in my bathroom. I immediately new where it came from since I had been admiring these delightful little plants, that just "sat around" requiring no soil what so ever, at a local garden center with my weekend guests. It is now part of my kitchen table decor since that is where we and our guests tend to congregate and it is a great source of conversation.
Upon further research I discovered that these little wonders of the plant world are actually called Tillandsia. Some sources recommend immersing them in water once a week, while others advocate a bit of misting now and again with a spray bottle. It seems that their care depends on the local humidity and conditions in which they live. I didn't do anything to mine in over three weeks and it seemed to be fine, although yesterday I did give it a brief "bath" ..... still looks good! I think these little cuties would be the perfect gift for a person with a "black thumb" (or - non-green one!).

The photos below are from Dots and Loops, a lovely little store in Lunenburg Nova Scotia that sells a variety of handmade items. The little hanging pods below are a perfect container for air plants and would add a contemporary look to your home decor!

photo from Dots and Loops

photo from Dots and Loops

For more info on air plants check out the BHG website below.

Better Homes and Gardens article on air plants.