Friday, September 26, 2014

Best Gardening Tip of the Season

 So officially summer is over and Halloween candy is everywhere. My petunias and pansies, however, have no idea what the date is because they are thriving!
 A month ago my hanging petunia basket was looking very poorly, ready for the compost heap in fact! So I took the advice of the video that I posted at the beginning of the summer about caring for these showy blooms and I hacked them back. Yikes! I mean I really did a number on them. It was really hard to chop off the few blooms that were left but it was worth it. A few weeks later ... voila! I  guess professional gardeners know what they're talking about.

These pansies were a great investment this year. I bought them last Easter if you can believe it and they have been thriving ever since! The secret? Yep you guessed it ..... deadheading like crazy. When the blooms start to close up I'm ready with the snippers to cut them off. I love to prune and trim and these little lovelies have certainly satisfied my need in that area!

 I bought these fall mums a few weeks ago and hopefully they will take over when the pansies and petunias bite the dust (or should I say frost). However, they are not in full bloom as much as I would like. So ...... time to do a bit of Googling to discover how to get the most out of these babies. What Mr. Google told me was to give them lots of sun and keep them well watered. The website below was very useful - check it out!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Time to Switch it Up!

Another great weekend at our favorite resort! 

It's hard to believe that we have been doing this for eighteen years! We began in 1996 with a tent and limited camping gear to spend a "girls" weekend in the beautiful outdoors of Fundy National Park. Early September has always been the preferred time as the weather is usually sunny, not too hot, and perfect for hiking in the woods or along coastal trails. Besides burning calories, which we make up for with our consumption of pasta and wine, our goal has simply been to escape the rigors of work, and demands of family and home ownership. Over the years we have traditionally spent this weekend doing little else than wandering the trails of the park and enjoying each other's company.

Our humble beginnings with a tent and a cooler evolved over the years to a two story, two bathroom, fully equipped cottage on a cliff over looking the Bay of Fundy. Our epiphany came during a continuous downpour that flooded our campsite and gave us all a bad hair day. We looked at each other eventually resting our gaze on the one who had the fewest sips of Chardonnay and informed them that they were driving us to the nearest hotel. After grabbing our personal items, and leaving the drenched tent right where we pitched it, we checked into a motel unit a mile or so up the road. Clearly our camping days were over! For many years we spent our weekend getaways at the efficiency units in the park, but eventually upgraded to a lovely cottage that we return to every year.

In the past our girls' weekend has focused on the physical activity of hiking, after which our reward was a good foot soak and pedicure. We've traded beauty secrets, weight loss plans, and fashion tips (as you can see by our radiance in the photo below). Two years ago some of us even tried zip lining! As time evolves, and our bodies as well, we are no longer feeling the need to do an all day hike up steep coastal terrain. Other adventures await us; like sea kayaking around the Hopewell Rocks or attending a local "kitchen party" complete with fiddle music and story telling. This year and last I've taken it upon myself to bring a "craft" like wire wrapped jewelry and felted soap. After years of a predictable routine, we think it might be time to "switch it up" and try at least one new thing each year ..... like deep fried clams for supper Friday night! (At this stage of the game who cares about calories!)

Above is our group minus one - We missed you this year Sherry, but take comfort in the video below of the windy conditions that made our Saturday hike less than desirable!

View from the cottage on a calmer day!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Best Test Kitchen

The best test kitchen you will ever have is a potluck dinner. While it's true that trying a new recipe out on company is risky business, it can also help you quickly decide whether or not to add your latest culinary creation to your "bag of foodie tricks". Potlucks can often allow you the luxury of discreetly placing your contribution to the buffet table without too much notice. Thus if it doesn't disappear as quickly as some of the other offerings you can wash your hands of it and pretend that it wasn't yours (just make sure that you bring it in a dollar store dish that you are willing to leave behind!) ...... On the other hand, if guests are going back for seconds like they hit the jackpot, then you know you have a winner!

Alicia setting out a fabulous chocolate cake with boiled icing that a relative contributed to our potluck.
Recently my husband and I hosted his family's annual reunion, a potluck, and I'm proud to say that I made a few things that were a hit and discovered a few new recipes that I will be adding to my list of favorites.
As a main dish I thought I would prepare something cold in order to free up my oven for those who brought dishes that needed to be reheated. (I even cleaned it for this occasion hoping to create the impression that I was a good housekeeper!) The two dishes that I prepared were Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce and Tabbouleh, both of which are dairy free ..... something I keep in mind since my "daughter-in-law to be" (in the photo above) is lactose intolerant. The pasta salad is easy to make and the peanut sauce is delicious. Tabbouleh is one of my favorites and there are several variations of which my favorite is with cilantro instead of mint. In the video below, How to Make Tabbouleh, cinnamon and allspice are used, which I think gives it a distinctive middle eastern flavour!

Vegetable and Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce

For desert you can't go wrong with carrot cake and cream cheese icing. Let's face it .... you could put cream cheese icing on cardboard and it would taste good! And that chocolate cake with boiled icing in the photo above was gone before you could say Jiminy Cricket, or Tequila Sunrise. In keeping with my "lactose intolerant" theme, however, and the fact that I had a 10 pound box of blueberries in the freezer, I found a blueberry cake recipe that I'm pleased to say was well received. It was very moist with vegetable oil, eggs and orange juice concentrate as the liquid ingredient (recipe below).

All in all a potluck is the perfect place to test out a new recipe. If it's a hit you can take full credit, if it's not, just slink away and wait until after dark to claim your dish!

Happy relatives gathering in anticipation of a "great feed" prepared by some great cooks!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Misunderstood Words

I've been thinking about literacy lately. Mainly because I have started a new job with an organization that helps adults improve their literacy skills. While in my teaching career, I have taught language arts and ESL, I have never worked in the primary grades nor have I actually taught someone how to read. The older children I have dealt with have, for the most part, already had a basic ability to read - either in English or another language. Learning to read is an interesting concept. I vaguely remember the "Dick and Jane" stuff from my school days, and equally vague is my recollection of life before print. 

When I was little I used to call my brother, "bubba". Apparently, when I was first learning to talk, "brother" came out as "bubba". The name stuck for quite a while and it came as quite a shock, at the age of four or five, when I learned that his real name was Neil! I always knew that other people called him Neil, but I thought "bubba" was part of his name too ... like a second name,  Neil Bubba Drury! 

What you hear can often be totally different from what you see in print. It wasn't until I could read and was following along in a Christmas carol song sheet, that I realized that in "Jingle Bells" they were riding in a one horse open sleigh not a one horse soap and sleigh! When marking student writing once, I was amused when a kid referred to the term self esteem as self of steam! Today when I hear an unfamiliar word or name I like to see it in print in order to get a better handle on how it's pronounced. I'm not sure how I would get along in a world without print!

How many times have you heard a song and misunderstood the words until you read the lyrics?
Check out comedian Peter Kay's performance, in the link below, based on misunderstood lyrics!

misunderstood lyrics - (warning - may be offensive, for adults only)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Turkey Pants

by Grace AKA Blackbelt Oma

I am anticipating a trip to Spain in November (more on that later). I know it is a few months away, but I was thinking about what to pack (more on that later as well). I read somewhere that leggings travel well and take up little room in a suit case. That led me to think about putting outfits together that include a pair of "turkey pants" .... That's what I call leggings since they are so comfortable and they remind me of the episode of Friends where Joey wears women's maternity pants while he enjoys Monica's Thanksgiving turkey dinner. (View the 20 second video below to refresh your memory!)

Joey's Turkey Pants

(the link doesn't seem to work in tablets so you may have to copy the link below in your browser) 

I have already, as a "mature woman", ventured into wearing leggings. All the young girls are wearing them and they look great on "most" of them .... so why should they have all the comfort? I wear my leggings with a REALLY long top, which could actually be a short dress. My recent shopping experience, however, has proven that it is not easy to find just the right top (for an old doll) to go with my "turkey pants"!

According to my research, covering your butt is a must! (In fact more than covering it at my age.) For some great tips on wearing leggings check out the website below from Musings of a Housewife by Jo-Lynne Shane. Enjoy your "turkey pants"!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Green Curry with K---- Lime leaves

pic from Wikipedia

I absolutely LOVE Thai Green Curry! When I was in Thailand I rarely branched out to try other dishes because once I saw this on the menu, I had to have it. I couldn't get enough of it! Upon my return to Canada I thought about making it. I mean, if I love it so much, why not perfect it and make it "my special dish"? The simple answer is that, due to the large number of specific ingredients (that are not always easy to find here in Canada) it's just not worth the effort. Galangal, tiny eggplants, and Kaffir lime leaves are not exactly easy to come by and substitutions, I don't believe, hold up to the taste. ..... oops! I just said.... "Kaffir" lime leaves ..... so sorry to those who I have offended! I just discovered that the "K" word (kaffir) is actually a racial slur, similar to the "N" word that North Americans are familiar with. Apparently the better choice of term for these, (essential to green curry, in my opinion) Asian leaves is "Makrut" lime leaves.
So, the "moral" of the Green Curry story is:

  • don't bother making you're own green curry .... it won't taste as good as the stuff in Thailand
  • if you have a "hankering" for Thai Green Curry .... find a restaurant or take out that makes a good one
  • if you must make it yourself .... use Makrut lime leaves, not K ..... lime leaves!
Hubby enjoying a delicious meal in Thailand

CBC article and video

Green Curry Recipe  - check out the multitude of ingredients!

Ethnic foods can be found in all kinds of places, like local farmers's markets! I had a great Green Curry at our nearby Kingston Market the other day! Yum Yum!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


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