Category Archives: food

Seedlings, Saling, Streamers, and School Picture Day…

It’s been a busy week in Hammond River:

1. A week ago Friday, Hope and I were on the way to Giant Tiger to get presents for Dad for his birthday.  As we approached a pedestrian light, Hope observed that it should be the type that makes a noise, “You know, for the deaf people.”

I looked at her and asked, “What did you just say?”

“Oh!” she said sheepishly.  “I meant blind people!”

2. We celebrated Kaylee’s 25th and Dad’s 74th birthday with a combo party last Sunday.  The sun even made an appearance!  We enjoyed sitting out on our deck for a while, although I was dismayed to find that some small animal had chewed a hole in the seat of one of our deck chairs that we just bought last summer!

Kaylee reading in the background while Elise plays with her mom's birthday balloon...

 

For dessert, we had pound cake (thanks for the recipe, Lenore!), and chocolate cinnamon cake:

Kaylee's Birthday Cake...decorated by Anna...note to self: remember that Kaylee loves pound cake but doesn't like cream cheese icing!

Dad's Birthday Cake, decorated by Brianna...

3. Seedlings.  Monday was a holiday for Canadians: Queen Victoria’s birthday.  I took advantage of the lack of precipitation to finally get seeds planted in the garden!  My seedlings, however, are still hanging out in my back kitchen, waiting to go outside.  It’s supposed to be decent weather tomorrow, so I’m planning to stay home from the bookstore and get them transplanted!

Mostly tomato seedlings, with peppers at bottom left and brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and bunching onions in two trays at top left

4. Saling.  Saturday was the Annual Quispamsis Yard Sale.   It was misty, but not really raining, so Jim and I and the girls piled into the van, equipped with our highlighted map…we actually got away from the house within 15 minutes of the time we’d planned to leave!  Pickings were fairly slim compared to the first year we went, but I managed to get about $250 worth of books for less than $20!  Jim got a new leather wallet still in the box for a dollar (his old one is like George’s on Seinfeld!), 5 sets of Magnetix building toys for $1 each (which will be kept well out of Elise’s reach!), and a mitre saw for $15.  This was our best buy though:

My New Old China Cabinet (minus the shelves - we took them out to clean them)...reflections of my dining table in the glass

This china cabinet was sitting with a sign that said “Make an Offer” on it…it was filthy…I fell in love immediately!  After Jim saw me get all excited about it (and some discussion about where we would put it), he made an offer (I told him it could be my birthday present)!  After a little dickering, he got the cabinet as well as a bright green desk and chair for Brianna for $120.  Hope and I cleaned up the cabinet last night, and it already looks way better than it did when we bought it!  I’m planning to put my mom’s collections and some of my other family knickknacks in it.

5. Streamers.  I spent yesterday catching up on laundry, seven loads to be exact…I should have it all folded by Tuesday!  Dad worked on deerproofing the garden.  He installed the poles we got a few weeks ago, and strung them with string and streamers.  I hope it will do the trick!

Our (hopefully) deerproof fence...we are officially country folks now...only the best families have yellow caution tape flying from string in their back yards!

6. School Picture Day.  Wednesday, June 1st has been designated as School Picture Day by Clay Morgan at EduClaytion.  I will be participating along with my friends Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom), possibly Chase McFadden (Some Species Eat Their Young) and a bunch of other folks.  You’re invited too…just dig out your yearbook photos, write a little post, and then link up on Wednesday!

Graphic courtesy of ironicmom.com...

45 Comments

Filed under books, family, food, gardening, shopping

Nom, Nom…Thank You, Mom!

We pretty much ate our way through the weekend due to birthday celebrations and Mother’s Day…hence the title…

Saturday was Brianna’s 15th birthday…we were invited to Jim’s parents’ house for a combo birthday party for Bri and Jim’s brother-in-law, Chris, whose birthday is May 12th.  Jim’s mom made a delicious ham with scalloped potatoes, vegetables, and broccoli salad (one of my favourites!).  For dessert, we had two cakes: ice cream cake for Bri and chocolate cake for Chris.

Brianna and Grammy...photo by Jim

Brianna and Uncle Chris showing off their birthday presents...photo by Jim

Bri was happy with the underwater digital camera Jim got her…Anna, Hope and I got her a pair of snazzy rubber boots for when the kids go looking for frogs at the pond, and some cash to buy more clothes (because I need more challenge when I’m folding and sorting laundry – I don’t ask “Whose is this?” quite often enough!).

Sunday was Mother’s Day, of course, but also Jim’s and my third anniversary.  It’s lucky that we’d gone out to dinner a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of our special day being overshadowed by other activities…we were so busy on Sunday, we hardly saw each other!  I’m incredibly happy that our online dating experience turned out to be a success story…Plenty of Fish…you rock!

All four kids brought me breakfast in bed (even Devin, who rarely gets up before noon on weekends…he poked his hand out from under his blanket wrapped tightly around him, and presented me with my silverware).  There were cards and presents too, including my garden stone from last year, which had gotten broken and been epoxied back together.

Mom French Toast made with 12-grain bread...

Anna and I had arranged that Jim would get Bri out of the house in the afternoon so that we could make her a birthday cake.  Hope wanted to help too, but Anna wouldn’t let her.  I told Hope she could decorate a Mother’s Day cake for Kaylee, who was coming over for supper with Scott and Elise.  Jim took Bri and Devin to see the new Thor movie…while they were gone, we made these:

Anna's cake for Brianna...Kerri (the cranky judge from Cake Challenge) would not have been happy with the fondant, but it tasted good!

Hope's cake for Kaylee...the icing was mauve, and a little odd (I don't know what Anna did to it!)...tough to work with...

Kaylee, Scott and Elise arrived just as the girls were finishing the cake decorating.  I was washing the huge pile of pots and pans that had accumulated on the counter and in the sink.  Jim, Bri and Devin returned home shortly after that.  Jim and the kids got right to work making supper: lasagna, fusilli, caesar salad, and garlic bread.  It was nice to have time to just play with my granddaughter (and hard not to interfere with what was going on in the kitchen!).

Elise fist-bumping Auntie Bri...Bri took the photo with her new camera...

Kaylee and Scott got me a HUGE pizza stone for Mother’s Day (we may have to build on another room to store it!).  I can’t wait to try it out…I hope my pizza will turn out as well as Kaylee’s does!

Supper was delicious (Thanks, hon!), although Elise decided that throwing fusilli on the floor for Jake was more fun than eating it!  After licking ten spaghetti sauce covered plates, Jake needs a bath…his beard is a lovely shade of orange now.

Elise sharing her Cheerios with Jake...it's the only time he really likes her...

When we’d finished eating, I showed Kaylee my seedlings, and then sent her out to the yard to gather some rhubarb to take home…it’s just starting now, but when she comes back in two weeks, it will be huge!  Here are some fiddleheads Jim gathered down by the river last week (fiddleheads are ferns that grow in swampy areas…delicious cooked with lots of butter):

Fiddleheads fresh from the riverbank...

After Kaylee and Scott left, we loaded the dishwasher and sat down to play our highly-addictive computer games relax for a while.  Then we watched the two-hour finale of Amazing Race…I was happy with the winners, although I liked all the remaining teams and would have been fine with any of them winning.  I’m looking forward to the premiere of my other favourite reality show, So You Think You Can Dance, in a couple weeks!

Happy Mother’s Day to all my Mom blogging buddies…hope you had a fun day!

49 Comments

Filed under cooking, family, food

Cruciferous Vegetables, Cheer Competitions, Cakes, and Canada…

Jim and I were happy to survive another busy weekend…back-to-back cheer competitions for Anna and Hope Saturday and Sunday!

Jim dropped Anna off at Simonds High School for her competition for 9 a.m. on Saturday…on the way home, he and Brianna and Hope stopped at Costco for some essentials (and not-so-essentials)…I got my mango juice, and Anna got her fix of Veggie Sticks.  We’re also stocked back up on acetominophen and allergy meds.  While they were gone, I got up and checked my e-mail, and watered my plants.  The cruciferous vegetables are taking off nicely…I have broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and purple Brussels sprouts (will post photos later this week)!  So far, Jake hasn’t made an effort to jump up on the table and destroy them!

We got to the cheer competition fairly early, and Hope and I went in and grabbed seats in the bleachers while Jim parked the car. We brought our pillows again…there were 10 teams competing, and we knew we were in for a long afternoon! Luckily, the gym at Simonds is fairly large…

Anna’s team looked tired during their performance…all those extra hours of practice seemed to take their toll. Anna is covered with bruises from people falling on her (she’s a “back” and catches people). I was surprised when they made callbacks again, along with three other teams!  Five out of ten teams dropped their flyer at least once (no one hit the floor, thank goodness, but there were far too many “close ones” for my liking).  A toddler about Elise’s age who was sitting behind us cried for most of the afternoon…taking little kids to a three-hour event is not a brilliant idea!

The Harbour View High girls nailed their second outing! They were enthusiastic, and tight…I thought surely they’d place in the Top Three this time…I was wrong! Foiled again…their Provincial Championship is two weeks from now. Maybe the third time will be the charm?

Anna also performed with a quad or stunt group at this competition.  She had a different flyer than her usual one during the team events.

Anna (top left) with her quad in their final pose...photo by Jim

We stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home for a snack, and also at Canadian Tire for some rope…Hope had asked Jim to make her a tire swing in the back yard.

When we got home, we discovered that Jake had been having fun with Jim’s lunch bag in our absence…another Rubbermaid lunch container was now history, and a new lunchbag would also need to be purchased.

We were pretty exhausted Saturday night…I didn’t do any laundry, and no swing was installed out back.

Sunday morning, Jim got up early to drive Hope to her Middle School Provincial Cheerleading Championships…the girls had to be there by 8 a.m…luckily, the venue was Devin and Brianna’s high school (and Jim’s alma mater), Kennebecassis Valley High, so it was only a 15 minute drive from our house.  Before they left, Jim took some photos of Hope before her very last cheer competition (she doesn’t want to cheer next year).

Hope before provincials...photo by Jim

There was a huge lineup when we got to the school…we grabbed the first seats we could find!  Jim took his camera and roamed around, looking for the best photo ops.  After a long competition (12 teams – boy, did I regret forgetting the pillows to sit on!), Quispamsis Middle School wasn’t called back, but had improved significantly since their last outing.  It was fun to see some “different” creative stunts that some of the teams performed (and it was another accident-free competition…hooray!).  I appreciated that the DJ at this competition remembered there were some members of the crowd born before 1995, and played some 80’s music instead of the constant current pop drivel that normally dominates these events.  Anna was suitably horrified when I started bobbing my head when they played “Footloose” (my work here is done!).

Since it was Hope’s last competition, Anna decided we should celebrate by eating supper at Vito’s (somehow, I missed the part where she offered to pay for it!).  We had a fairly relaxed meal.  At one point, Hope commented, “Hey Anna…I can sit with my legs apart because I have spankies on!”  We all laughed (we weren’t nearly as amused when Hope started blowing her straw all over the table).  My Creamy Pesto Chicken Club sandwich wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but the fries were great.  Jim polished off his Chicken Parmigiana in record time, and Anna finished her Gnocchi au Gratin with some difficulty (we also had a lively argument about how to pronouce “gnocchi” – I was right).  Hope had the last half of her pizza packed up to take home…she took it for her lunch today.

When we got home, Hope was happy to see that Grandad was hanging up the tire swing…she helped by holding the ladder steady.  I started four loads of laundry while Jim refilled the bird smorgasbord…he reported seeing another pigeon out there…luckily, we don’t get many of those!  Anna and Hope went out to try out the new swing.

Later, the girls and I watched Cake Challenge on the Food Network: The contestants were asked to make a cake to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Dora the Explorer.  One young woman’s design included a 4-foot Dora figure with a 2-foot wide head…huge mistake!  As one of her competitors commented after Dora lost her head, “That was cake carnage!” I have to say that I was impressed that the baker and her husband/assistant took the “epic fail” a lot better than most people would have…very classy!

Dora, before she became The Headless Toddler...photo from blog.oakleafcakes.com

We watched Amazing Race before going to bed…let’s just say “whiners can’t be winners”!  I also don’t think I’d want Gary and Mallory or Zev and Justin rescuing me if I were ever buried during an avalanche!

Today is an important day in Canada…we are voting in a new federal government. We have been in “election mode” for about six weeks here, and will finally get the chance to cast our very important ballots. Jim and I will be stopping on the way home from work to exercise our right (and indeed our responsibility as Canadians!) to vote. If you are eligible to vote today, please do so…together we can decide the future of our great country!

Google Canada's election graphic

43 Comments

Filed under family, food, rants, satire

Yes, We Have No Wine, and Other Random Things…

Welcome to another chapter in my oh-so-exciting existence! We’ve got lots to cover…the transitions will be abrupt, so please keep a firm hold on your tea, lest it spill as we careen around corners!

1. Monday morning was sunny…I hated to have to work, but came into the bookstore anyway…I had three boxes of books to photograph, and 90 pages of our database to print off!  Hope was off school that day, so she came into town with me and helped take the pictures (it’s much easier for a 12-year-old to get up and down off the floor than it is for me!).  Anna and Brianna went to the mall…Anna used the money I gave her for jeans to buy shorts (because apparently 47 pairs aren’t enough!).  Brianna got some nail polish which is the perfect colour for my toes…maybe she’ll let me borrow it!

Anna and Brianna goofing around with the webcam last fall...

2. My friend, Dale, surprised me by dropping into the bookstore…I first met him in 1980 when we worked in two neighbouring stores in the Quinte Mall in Belleville, Ontario (I worked in a camera store, and he worked in the record store next door). I used to go into the record store and buy all kinds of albums (that was before I had kids to spend my money for me!). The following year, my boss decided to move his store to another strip mall in town, and Dale and I lost touch. Fast forward to the early 2000’s: I was receiving correspondence about an upcoming reunion of some of my buddies from Loyalist College, and saw a familiar name on the e-mail list. I e-mailed the guy and asked “Are you the same Dale who used to work in the record store?” Sure enough…turns out Dale went to Loyalist about the same time I did, and used to hang out with the radio guys I knew! We were reunited at the reunion, and have been in touch ever since…coincidentally, Dale now lives in Moncton, New Brunswick, which is only a little over an hour’s drive from where I live now. We chatted for quite a while, and then Dale left to get to a business meeting, promising to return soon to add to his “classics” collection.  We’re planning to meet up with some more friends from school this fall at the Gregg Allman show at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton in September.  I’m looking forward to seeing them all!

3. When we got home in the afternoon, Hope checked her e-mail, and excitedly called me over to the computer.  “Look at this, Mom!”  There was an e-mail from the Marketing Coordinator for Market Square…on the weekend, Hope and Gabrielle had sent her a clip of them singing “O Canada” and had asked if they could sing the national anthem at the Canada Day celebrations on July 1st.  The reply said that she would like to have the girls sing, and would be in touch soon to arrange the details!  Hope called Gabrielle right away to tell her the good news!  We were really proud of her for taking the chance to do something like that!

Gabrielle and Hope singing at a Talent Show last fall...photo by Jim

4. Monday night (after writing my Easter blog post), I remembered that Tuesday was our long-awaited book club meeting…we hadn’t gotten together since bidding our friend, Selina, “Adieu” in December when she moved to Winnipeg. We usually bring food of some sort for book club. Our book was “Secret Daughter” by Shilpi Somaya Gowder, which is set mainly in India.  What I know about East Indian food would fit neatly on the head of a pin (and I don’t eat much spicy food), so I Googled a local store where I might find something to bring to the meeting.  Upon reaching the website, I was confronted with the name of the product, a photo, and the price…no description whatsoever.  Back to Google…Nanak Gajar Halwa: “carrot fudge”? That sounds disgusting!  Nanak Rasmalai: “Soft Cheese Patty in thickened milk and sugar sauce”.  My lactose-intolerant stomach actually did a somersault after reading that!  I decided to go with something a little safer…I had a bag of Ganong Chocolate Marshmallow Eggs I’d bought on the weekend…everybody likes chocolate in our book club (and these are made in St. Stephen, New Brunswick)!

5. Tuesday morning was rainy, but at least I didn’t have a lot of work waiting for me at the store when I got there…I took the opportunity to catch up on the 40-50 blog posts I hadn’t had a chance to read over the long weekend!  It took me a long time, but there weren’t many customers wandering in to disturb me, so I was able to get it done!  I bought a Meditteranean Chicken Salad from Sagratti’s in the City Market for supper, and brought it back to the store to eat (I picked out the black olives…yuck!).   I hoped the family would save me some of Jim’s famous Turkey Soup…

Jim's soup and homemade biscuits...yummy!

6. I was the first to arrive at our Succulent Bookworms meeting (as usual – I don’t like to be late!).  I chatted with our hostess, and one of her three cats soon curled up on my lap, where it stayed for the rest of the night (if only I hadn’t been wearing black…oh well…that’s why they invented lint brushes!).  My friend called to me from the kitchen and offered me a drink, apologizing that she didn’t have any wine on hand, but that one of the other girls would probably bring some.  I declined…book club is the only time I get to indulge in red wine…I would wait until it arrived!  When she came back, she extended a ceramic plate towards me with little brown things on it.  “Oooooh…what’s this?” I squealed, thinking these must be some of those unidentifiable Indian delicacies I’d seen on that website.

“They’re the marshmallow eggs that you brought!” she prompted.  “Don’t you remember?”

I’m sure I turned about three shades of red before muttering, “Oh, yeah…” (damn peri-menopausal mushbrain!).  The chocolates looked a lot classier on that plate than they did in the compostable bag they came in!

The other girls trickled in over the next hour-and-a-half…nobody brought wine, but we did have a nice selection of food to choose from by the time everyone arrived!  There were two kinds of naan bread with mango chutney and guram masala for dipping, some pita chips with yogurt dip, some mini caramel muffins, and some decadent squares which were purely Western but awesome anyway!  We had some delicious mango juice to drink, which I’m planning to seek out next time I’m at Costco!  The hostess’ 3-year-old daughter demonstrated some of her ballet moves for us before her dad took her up to bed (he was mumbling something about getting her away from us before we corrupted her…another Bookworm man thinks we’re “witches”)…

We chatted about the book for a while (everybody liked it – excellent choice for a book club read), and then got off on our usual tangent…that was the first Worms meeting I’d ever attended where no one was drinking!  It was weird, but good…I can’t wait for the next meeting!

I was happy to get home to bed soon after 10:30…it had been a long day…

37 Comments

Filed under blogging, books, food, friends, satire

Easter, Elmo and Elise Come to Hammond River…

After another busy holiday weekend, I’m happy to say that we survived to go back to work this morning…

One of the things I wanted to do on Friday morning when I woke up was get my indoor seeds started…it was sunny and warm on our back deck, so it was perfect for it.  I also made an executive decision that it would be a “jammie day”, which for me consists of a T-shirt and yoga pants (I don’t do yoga…I just like the pants!).  I set my 130 small peat pots out on some metal trays that I bought at Value Village…13 to a tray.  One at a time, I brought the trays outside to fill the pots from the industrial sized-bag of dirt, and put the seeds in.  As I worked, the birds flew past me on their way to the 392 bird feeders on our deck, some brushing close enough to me that I could feel the wind from their wings (I was glad they were birds and not bats!).  I was leaning over the table poking holes with my finger in the soil to deposit the seeds into, when I felt something on my back.  Reflected in the glass of the deck door, I saw that a chickadee had landed on me.  I have no idea what he thought I was, since I didn’t resemble any local tree in my bright orange T-shirt!  I hollered for Jim, who was immersed in a computer game in the living room on the other side of the glass…by the time I got Jim’s attention, my new feathered friend had abandoned his perch.

After I’d finished planting, I carried the trays carefully into our back kitchen, where I set them on a table I hope is high enough to prevent a repeat of Jake’s destroying my plants like he did last year!

Trays of planted seedlings...

Saturday afternoon after picking a few groceries for our Easter family dinner, I decided to try out a new recipe for the rolls…Clover Leaf Rolls.  I spent all afternoon making them…three rises…they looked amazing!

Rolls before putting them in the oven...photo by Anna...

I put them in the oven, being careful to reduce the temperature by 25 degrees, as our oven is quite hot.  Fifteen minutes later, they came out looking like this:

Finished clover leaf rolls...

Unfortunately, I baked them a little longer than I should have, and I decided they weren’t good enough for company…I had Jim pick me up some more rolls that afternoon.

While I was baking, Jim had conned the kids into helping him raise the giant birdhouse from last summer into one of the apple trees…it ended up one platform down from its intended resting place, but at least it was finally off the ground!

Remember this from last year? (photo by Anna)

I dragged myself out of bed Sunday morning at 8:30…I had a 12-lb. turkey to make stuffing for and have in the oven for noon, 7 loads of laundry to fold, and mega cleaning to do for our company (Jim and the kids helped after they got up)!  I was still working on all that when Kaylee, Scott, and Elise arrived at 2:30 (dinner was at 6).  Hope had organized a small Easter egg hunt for Elise in the living room (Hope hid them in plain sight).  Elise fed Hope and Jake some of her Fruit Loops (much to Jake’s delight).  Later, Hope took the opportunity to improve on Elise’s hairdo:

Elise...hair by Auntie Hope, photo by Auntie Anna...the theme of Elise's bedroom is Dr. Seuss...surprised?

Jim presented Elise with a fun children’s CD by one of the singers from the Presidents of the United States of America (they did the theme song for the Drew Carey Show), Chris Ballew, aka Caspar Babypants.  We also gave her an Elmo building toy, which led to a rather hilarious slip of the tongue from Hope:  “Look Elise…it’s Elmo Kotex!”

Maybe "Kotex" is his horse's name?

Jim’s parents and his sister, Tracy, came a little closer to dinner time.  Jim had made his Grammy Clark’s dressing and gravy…I did the turkey, mashed potatoes, squash (from the garden), cauliflower/broccoli mix, and corn.  Synchronising all that food takes a little talent.  I realized as I was serving myself corn that it was still frozen, and took it back to the kitchen for a couple more minutes in the microwave.  When it was done, I brought it back, and spooned some more on to my plate.  It was only after I finished loading up my plate with other things, that I discovered I’d made two piles of corn!  Other people had noticed, but were too polite to point it out! 

After dinner, most people were too full for dessert…Jim and I put the food away in lunch containers, and he put on the bones to boil for turkey soup.  We chatted for a while and then I served apple pie to those who wanted it.  By this time, Elise was so tired she could barely stand up!  Her parents took her home, and Jim’s family left soon afterwards. 

We watched Amazing Race before I went to bed…we were all sad to see Jet and Cord eliminated…the Goths have gotta go, especially that whiny Kent!

Happy Trails, boys...you were true gentlemen and awesome competitors! (photo from cbs.com)

Jim stayed up to finish making the soup broth and finish his game on the computer…
 
I hope all my readers had a Happy Easter…I’m going to spend tomorrow catching up on all the blog posts I haven’t read yet…

42 Comments

Filed under cooking, family, food, gardening, nature, satire

Reluctant Cheer Mom Tears Up, and Other Random Events…

Here’s what’s been going on around Hammond River the last little while (this stuff is true…not like my recent Mark Twain post!).

1. Regular readers of this blog know that even though three of our four daughters are or have been cheerleaders, I’m not a fan.  Anna’s first competition of the year was Sunday, and her team was so amazing, I actually stopped thinking about how much my butt hurt from sitting on the hard bleachers, and teared up a little!  Here’s Hope and Jake before we left:

Hope and Jake before competition (photo by Jim)...apparently you can tie Jake's ears in a bow...

Anna’s team made callbacks for the first time in five years! I guess those ten hours of practice the week before competition paid off! Here’s the team during the routine:

Harbour View High Cheer team...Anna is the one under the middle red banner (photo by Jim)...

The girls were even better in the callbacks, but ended up fourth (several spectators around us were as shocked as we were…we thought they’d won!). We’ll get them next week!

2.  Jim’s been buying camera equipment on Kijiji to keep up with the girls’ competitions…we met a guy in the Wendy’s parking lot on Monday night to buy a flash meter (Anna’s comment: “That wasn’t sketchy at all!”), and then drove to another guy’s house to pick up a lens.

3.  Monday night, I learned that not having a plunger in each bathroom is a mistake…Hope flushed the toilet in the “kids’ bathroom” and it started overflowing.  I panicked, and it took several minutes for me to turn the shutoff valve off.  By the time I found the “good plunger”, Jim had already used the crappy one to unclog the toilet!  Then I got to wash the mats and the dirty clothes which had been on the floor during the mini-flood.  Note to self…do not put clothing in the dryer with rubber-backed bathmats…little balls of rubber will come off, and permanently attach themselves to very expensive hoodies…

4.  Speaking of sewage, we found out this morning that the lot next to our place has been sold (bad news).  This means that the landlord is redoing the septic field (good news!), but that our yard will be torn up (it will be flatter when it’s finished…good news), and we will lose the lilac trees by our back deck that the birds like to hang out in (bad news).  On the upside, they will be redoing the driveway so that it actually drains instead of a 20-foot puddle forming in front of our garage every spring…the bad news is that the neighbours’ new driveway will be through our front lawn.

5.  Hope made cinnamon muffins, but neglected to read the mixing instructions under the ingredients in the recipe.  They tasted okay, but were rather lumpy and heavy.  She redeemed herself last night with some delicious chocolate chip cookies, which she proclaimed were better than mine!  I actually agree with her this time!

6.  Anna baked chocolate chip muffins, and almost forgot to put in the chocolate chips…she ended up poking them into the individual muffins just before putting them in the oven!

7.  Jim and I went to see the movie Source Code last night while Anna went to a school dance…I’m not usually a sci-fi fan, but I made an exception for the chance to drool over Jake Gyllenhaal.  It was quite good, and had us on the edge of our seats a lot of the time.  While we watched, I ate a couple of Lowney Cherry Marshmallow Creme Eggs…almost as yummy as Jake G.!

Jake with his "Source Code" co-star Michelle Monaghan...photo from tom-samp-journal.blogspot.com

8.  Anna found out this week that a design she submitted for the Drama Fest at her school had been the one chosen for use on posters, brochures and T-shirts!  Her teacher wanted her to submit a short bio to be included in the brochure…I wrote it for her.  We’re very proud of her!

9.  We’re hosting Easter dinner for the family at our house this year…Jim’s parents are serving Easter Breakfast at their church, and his mom says she’ll be too tired to cook.  We’re still on the hunt for a turkey (Kaylee can’t eat ham)…will try to find one tonight.  We also need to clean up our house for company!  I’m looking forward to seeing everybody, especially my “Puddin’ Pop”!

"Oh, dear...how did that get there?" Elise tries fingerpainting for the first time...

10.  I got a Facebook friend request from musician Thom Swift a couple of days ago…I “Liked” his fan page…maybe he read this piece I wrote about his concert last summer…

48 Comments

Filed under family, food, rants, satire

Post #200…What Do You Mean “There’s No Party”?

This is my 200th post…do I have anything earth-shattering to report?  No.  A profile of an extremely interesting person?  No.  Great news?  Not really.  What I’ve got is another collection of random things:

1. Dread of Deer.  About three weeks ago, we looked out the window into the back yard, and discovered with dismay that the deer have learned that they are capable of jumping the fence!  Unless I can think of a plan to keep them out, gardening this year is going to be a dangerous thing…I’ve been so obsessed that I actually dreamed that we had three baby deer in our living room (I let them out the back door)…

"Are you lookin' at me? Because I'll totally snort at you if you come any closer! It's way more fun on this side of the fence!" (photo by Anna)

2. Discriminating Darlin’.  My granddaughter, Elise, is almost 19 months old, and has recently learned how to count to 10…sort of.  She starts at “3” because she feels that “1” and “2” are too trivial to bother with!  

 3. Doh!  Every morning as we’re on our way into town to the bookstore, we listen to the CBC News World Report at 7 p.m., which is usually hosted by Peter Armstrong.  When talking about the ongoing issues in Ivory Coast, the illustrious anchorman reported that the militants were “fighting definitely”.  Um…I think “defiantly” is what your copywriter meant, Peter.  While we’re at it, can we talk about your improper pronunciation of potash (“pott-ish”), Afghanistan (“aff-gan-i-stun“), and Pakistan (“pack-i-stun“)?  Wrong, wrong, wrong!

4. Decisions and Debates.  Speaking of CBC, they’ve been promoting a nifty new “tool” on their website which is supposed to help decide which tool party leader to vote for in our upcoming federal election on May 2nd.  I used the Vote Compass, and was not at all surprised that I lean left on both economic and social issues.  I still don’t know who I’m going to support…all the candidates have not been announced in our riding yet.  The lone female, Green Party candidate, Elizabeth May, is fighting for the right to be included in the leaders’ debate…I hope she succeeds!

The Candidates..."Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, and Curly" (photo from workliveplaycafe.com)

5. Dunce.  Yesterday afternoon, I received this e-mail from my daughter’s high school, I have copied it verbatim, except to remove the principal’s name and change his initial, to protect the  idiot innocent:

Good afternoon all,
This is Mr. B. calling to inform you that the school recieved a threatening phone call today. Although it turned out to be a crank call, we took it very serious placed the school into a lockdown. The police were called and very quickly resolved the problem.
I also want to tell you that this is the week of our musical and the tickets are going fast. If you are thinking of attending, you better pick up your tickets at the office or get them at the door.
Thats it for now,

Mr. B.

Hmmm…97 words…three grammatical/spelling errors that I can spot immediately.  My daughter tells me the students refer to the author as “Slow Marvin” (not his real name), and that he doesn’t actually teach any classes (what a relief!).  I’m so glad that the school took the threat “serious”…I wish they were as serious about grammar.  “Now Mr. B…please don this dunce cap and go sit in the corner!”

This isn't "Slow Marvin"...(photo from businessinsider.com)

6. Deliciousness.  A random Herding Cats post wouldn’t be complete without food!  Feast your eyes on these photos of Jim’s banana bread (we have to hide the banana bread bananas from my dad, or he’ll eat them!), and my cornbread-topped chili!

Jim's banana bread: regular, flax, and chocolate chip

 

Chili topped with cornbread...yummy!

You can do this chili yourself:  Make your regular chili, and then put it into a casserole.  Mix up some cornbread batter and pour it over the top of the chili.  Bake it in the oven until the cornbread is done.  Instant deliciousness!

Thanks for coming over to celebrate my 200th post…I sincerely hope that none of the stuff you’ve learned here keeps you awake this evening…

71 Comments

Filed under blogging, cooking, family, food, rants, satire

Fondant Stars, Chicken Hearts, the Pillsbury Dough Boy, and Prawn Skips…

I haven’t done a rambling, random post with lots of food in it for a while, so here’s one for you:

1. Anna convinced me to buy her some pre-made fondant at Bulk Barn a couple of weeks ago so she could do some cake decorating…last summer, she and Brianna had made fondant from scratch for a cake for Jim’s birthday, but it was apparently a sticky nightmare to work with.  So Mom forked over $16.00 for 4 lbs. of fondant.  Anna made yellow cake, which looked like this when she finished decorating it:

Anna's Star Cake...she cut out the stars freehand with a knife...

2. Kaylee and Scott came over for supper on Sunday…I made gingerbread for dessert (sorry, no photo…it’s gone!).  Lucky Scott found the “bonus hair” in his!  I apologized profusely, but he seemed okay with it (of course, he might have been scared to make a big deal…would you yang at your mother-in-law about her cooking?).  Apparently, Kaylee’s hair is all over their house, and hers is a lot longer than mine!

3. Speaking of hair, I finally got to the hairdresser this week after four months (I normally go every 6-8 weeks).  My grey is gone again (Anna says I look like a “ginger”) and Heather cut about 4″ off the bottom.  I now have a somewhat sexy bob (which unfortunately accentuates my fat cheeks!).  I’m waiting for the last of the snow to melt so I can get out my bike and get rid of the extra inches around my middle!

4. Devin got his learner’s permit last week…Jim is looking forward to passing the torch to Devin as “family chauffeur” once he gets his license!  Anna and I are next!

Elise and Uncle Devin checking out "Dwarf Fortress"...photo by Jim

5. Hope, Dad and I enjoyed a feast of Chinese Chicken Hearts early this week (no one else in the house will eat them, although Kaylee converted Scott and his friend!).  I sauté them, and then add soy sauce, garlic powder, ginger, and brown sugar…yummy!  I made rice pilaf with chicken for the non-heart eaters.

Sautéed Chinese Chicken Hearts...don't they look delicious?

6. I was excited to pick up my seeds for the garden last week!  I can’t wait to start planting the indoor stuff.  I’m going to try leeks, kale, arugula, spaghetti squash, a yellow tomato called “banana legs”, and a black cherry tomato for the first time this year.  I was dismayed to discover that I only have three bags of green beans left in the freezer…will be rationing those from now on!

7. I was supposed to donate blood today, but found out that the clinic was cancelled…I’ve been drinking (water) like crazy all week, to avoid the problem I had last time.  I read somewhere that drinking a couple of glasses of water a half hour before one eats is a good weight loss tool…it makes your stomach think it’s full sooner, so that you don’t eat as much.  I tried that yesterday with my Chinese food at lunch…my stomach told me it was full, but I pretended it was one of the kids and ignored it!  Today I’m paying for that beef and broccoli…the day I stop eating red meat all together is looming!

8.  The Pillsbury Dough Boy is 50 years old today…how ironic that a big-bunned girl like me was born the same year as a guy known for his rolls!

"Wow...you made me a cake?" Photo of Pillsbury Dough Boy from about-recipes.com

9. Jim decided to make banana bread at 10:00 at night on Tuesday night…the two loaves are nearly gone three days later!  Kaylee sent me a recipe for soft pretzels, but it only makes 10, which would disappear in about five minutes at our house!

10. Hope came home from cheerleading with an injury on Wednesday…she had gotten hit in the face while trying to catch their flyer.  Her glasses dug into her nose, and her nose was dented and bruised.  Anna messed up her knee at her cheerleading practice on Thursday.  She used a bag of frozen corn as an ice pack last night.   Competititions start in a couple of weeks…I hope they’re better by then!

11. I got some awesome new cookie sheets last night…ours are getting really decrepit.  The ones I got are heavy Pyrex brand, non-stick ones for only $6 each…I bought two.  They even have the spots for cookies marked on them…how cool is that?

Pyrex cookie sheet...see the markings for those of us who have trouble making straight rows? Photo from productreview.com.au

12. Elise is getting some experience tasting international foods.  Kaylee has a cyber-friend in Ireland named Clodagh (they’ve been friends about ten years), who sent her a book recently.  Knowing Kaylee’s penchant for UK foods, Clo thoughtfully included some Prawn Cocktail Skips (shrimp-flavoured chips), Jaffa Cakes (chocolate covered cookies with jelly in the middle), and Barratt Nougat (chewy candy) in the package.  Here’s a video of Elise trying the Prawn Skips (Scott is not a fan!): 

38 Comments

Filed under cooking, family, food, gardening

I Was Stylish Three Times in Three Weeks!

Or at least other people thought my blog was…I have received this award three times recently:

I was given the first one by Nancy at Embracing Myself on February 17th.  Then Todd at Todd Pack’s Messy Desk gave me the nod on February 28th.  Finally, Ian from The $#!& I Think About awarded me again on March 8th.  All of these folks are talented writers, and I am pleased to also call them my friends!  Please check out their blogs!

One of the requirements of the awards is to tell some stuff about yourself that people don’t know…that’s a tall order for me, because I probably share way too much in my blog as it is!  So, that’s been one of the things holding me up in officially “accepting” my awards!  The other barrier has been that I’ve gotten a lot of awards (not bragging…just stating a fact…well, maybe bragging a little!), and I’ve run out of people to pass them on to!

I visited a new blogging buddy’s site today after she commented on mine…Melissa at Play 101  had also been a triple winner of the Stylish Blogger Award.  Some thoughtful soul had provided her with questions to answer about herself, so I’m stealing borrowing the questions…I hope Melissa doesn’t mind:

1. How long have you been in your current relationship, and how many children do you have?  Jim and I are coming up on three years together…between the two of us, we have five kids (4 girls and one boy) and one granddaughter.

2. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?  That I’m not as big a “Goody Two Shoes” as I appear.  I’ve never broken any laws (that I know of), but I swear a lot (not in public usually). 

3. What are your greatest fears?  Running out of things: time, money, food, love.

4. What is your favorite food?  Sour cream and bacon Ruffles potato chips.  And bagels.  And pie (any kind except cream pies).

5. What is your most rewarding memory?  I’d like to say the births of my three daughters, but that hurt a lot (I did it naturally).  I think that some of my happiest memories are of doing things together as a family: eating, playing board games, making music, or outdoor activities.

6. At which store could you spend an entire day by yourself?  I really don’t enjoy shopping, but if I had to be in a store all day without kids, I’d definitely pick an old bookstore.

7. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?  Tough one…so many choices!  There was the time I walked around the mall in Newfoundland with my fly down for an hour-and-a-half before discovering it (no one told me!).  Once, I accidentally got on the Super Express bus to Toronto from Ottawa, and found out just before getting to Belleville that the bus didn’t stop there…luckily, the driver took pity on me and let me off at the exit ramp…I picked up my suitcase and walked into town!  One of my favourite activities is dancing when my teenagers have friends over…it’s worth it just to see the looks on their faces!   

8. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?  I once took a temp job doing data entry for a non-profit organization’s fundraising event.  The hours were 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., so I spent all but half an hour of my shift by myself, and the work was boring!  I also found it difficult to get up with my daughter in the morning and take her to school…I always needed a nap after dropping her off!

9. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever worn?  I made myself an absolutely hideous maternity dress when I was pregnant with my first child…the style and fabric were both ugly…I don’t know what I was thinking!  Thankfully, no photos exist of that one!     

10. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? I read Cosmopolitan at the hairdresser’s.  Please refer back to #2!

Instead of passing the award on in the traditional fashion, I’m going to steal borrow another idea from my friend Kathy at Reinventing the Event Horizon: she suggested that readers respond in the comments with a post of their own that they’re really happy with, and a post of someone else’s that they recommend reading.  So here’s an early one of mine that not many people saw: https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/pickin-and-grinnin/.  My friend, Amanda, at Life is a Spectrum, wrote this heartwarming story about her son: http://www.lifeisaspectrum.com/The-long-distance-runner

Please read, enjoy, and tell us about your favourite posts in your comments!  That’s one of the best parts about blogging for me: hooking up my friends with great blogs to read!

48 Comments

Filed under blogging, family, food, friends

Molasses, Mozzarella, Mountains, and Mom Time…

1. Molasses.  In one of my very first blog posts, I talked about my Grandma Shoots’ yummy molasses cookies.  Hope and I decided to make some yesterday, since it had been quite some time.  Here’s the recipe (I have no idea who “Shirley” is):

Shirley’s Cookies

1 cup molasses

1 cup water

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup melted lard or shortening

4 tsps. baking soda dissolved in 1 cup boiling water

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

10 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Using a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together and beat gently with a wooden spoon (add flour a cup or two at a time).  Roll out to 1/8″ thickness, and cut with large round cutter (I actually use a plastic tumbler).  Place on cookie sheets, and bake about 10 minutes, until puffy but not hard.  Makes about 6 dozen BIG cookies.  Keep them in the refrigerator.

Working on cookies...Hope threw some flour on my face for extra authenticity...photo by Anna

Molasses Cookies...these are only 3" in diameter...Grandma's were about 5" or 6" across! Soft and awesome...they'll also keep you regular! (photo by Anna)

2. Mozzarella.  I was in the mood to cook last night, but had planned a fairly boring menu of chicken burgers, curly fries, onion rings, and green beans (from the garden).  Then I remembered the fresh mushrooms and mozzarella cheese I had in the fridge, and the huge onions I’d bought at Costco…why not make Philly Cheese Chicken?  I cut the onion into long, thin pieces and sautéed them with the chopped mushrooms in a little bit of butter in a non-stick pan.  Then I laid on slices of processed mozzarella cheese (I would have used real cheese if I hadn’t been pressed for time).  After the cheese melted, I stirred it and spooned the mixture on top of the chicken burgers.  If you try this, make sure you use real chicken burgers (not the breaded ones!).

My lunch today...yummy!

3. Mountains.  We had a little more snow on Friday night…slightly more than a foot.  Weather forecasters had dubbed it the “worst storm of the season”, but I think it failed to live up to their expectations!  I sent Anna out with her camera yesterday to show what kind of snowfall we had:

This is Hope and Jake in our driveway yesterday...photo by Anna

This is Brianna (about 5'4") standing next to a snowbank...photo by Anna

4. Mom Time.  Jim took the girls to see Gnomeo and Juliet this afternoon, giving me a 3-hour break from bickering, pop music, and general hubbub…thanks, Honey!  I am using the time to do laundry; write this post; practice my new addiction game, 4 Elements, on Facebook (I just about cried when I found out Dad had closed my window on the computer this morning when he checked his email…luckily, it remembered where I’d left off at midnight last night…attempt #8 on Level 15…aarggh!); and get ready for Kaylee, Scott and Elise to come over for supper.  I’m making Barbecued Chicken (in the oven – the barbecue is under two feet of snow!), mashed potatoes, corn, and carrots.  The kids are going to be home soon, so I’d better get to cooking!  Happy Sunday!

28 Comments

Filed under cooking, family, food