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The ABCs of My Last Two Weeks…NEW POST!

Note: This is another LONG post…a lot builds up in two weeks!  You might want to get a cup of tea or coffee before you start…WM

 

Airport.  Wednesday night, we took Anna to the airport to fly to Ontario to go to her cousin’s wedding (see Wedding), and see her dad and her uncle (see Cancer).  It was her first time flying solo…she was a little nervous, but got there fine. 

Birthdays.  Summer is a busy time for birthdays in our family: mine was July 17th, Jim’s was July 21st, Hope’s was July 31st, and Anna’s was August 3rd.  Jim’s mom had a party for him at her house.  His sisters were there for the barbecue…his dad and sister, Tracy, were cooking in the rain!  Smoke was getting in Gordon’s eyes!  Hope had a party with her friends at the Carleton Community Centre (see Disc Jockey).  The whole family got together for a combo party at Jungle Jim’s  in Saint John for Hope and Anna on Tuesday night (see Tip).  We tried to get into the new one in Quispamsis, but they would not take my reservation (for fifteen people!)…needless to say, I will not be patronizing them in the future.

Cancer.  We learned a few weeks ago that Anna and Kaylee’s uncle, Scott E., had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  It was a terrible shock…Scott is a truly wonderful man, and a great husband, father and grandfather! Anna hadn’t seen him for four years, so I decided to fly her down to Port Hope for Scott’s son’s wedding this past weekend (see Wedding).  Anna also got to see her dad for the first time in four years. 

Disc Jockey.  Hope celebrated her birthday a couple of days early with eleven of her friends at the Community Centre in our old neighbourhood on the West Side.  Most of the attendees were West Siders, and I felt sorry for the three girls from Quispamsis who were looking rather left out.  Eventually, the kids started to talk to each other, and then they all went outside, leaving me alone in the dance hall with the DJ who I was paying $15/hour!  I went downstairs and told the girls that I was “paying big bucks” for this, and that they’d better come in and start dancing, or I would!  “Don’t embarrass me, Mom!” Hope begged.  Hope was quite happy with her presents: loads of cash and gift cards.  One girl gave her some cute earrings her sister had made.

Extension.  I got another extension at work, until September 30th.  The City has also decided to post the job I’m doing now.  Of course, I applied for it!  I’m enjoying it a lot, and most people seem to like me.  If I get it, I’m going to have to figure out how to manage squeezing in some blogging time!

Found.  We have at least 2-3 cruise ships come into port every week between June and the end of October in Saint John.  Many of the ship’s passengers end up at the Saint John City Market where I work.  Invariably, someone loses something important!  Last week, a lady from New Jersey lost both her driver’s license and her ship card, which I returned to the commissionaires at the port after one of our Maintenance guys found them.  When I got back from my walk in the rain, the woman who’d lost her ID was waiting at my office.  After I assured her that her documents were safe down at the ship, she gave me a huge hug!  This week, a Market customer found a Visa card on the floor, and brought it up to me.  I called Port Security to see if it might belong to one of the ship’s passengers.  When I told the guy the person’s name, he said, “The police just brought me her Amex card, and her ship card.”  She came to get her Visa card herself.  She was breathless, but grateful when she arrived.  “You people are so good!”  I told her that’s just how we are in Saint John!

Girlfriend.  Devin’s girlfriend, Kat, finally came over to our house for a visit.  We were worried about how our neurotic dog, Jake, would react, so we armed her with a handful of dog treats.  Soon, Jake was literally eating out of her hand!

Harvest.  Since the deer have been helping themselves to my garden on more than one occasion, I haven’t been able to harvest much lately…beans apparently don’t grow very well without leaves!  We’ve had two meals of them so far, and will probably not have enough to put any in the freezer (I had about forty bags last year).  I picked a few peas the other day.  The tomatoes are starting to form, however.  I have high hopes for them…the deer didn’t damage those as much!  I should be able to pick some zucchini soon too.  The raspberries are just finishing, and I started picking blueberries this week…should get a few bags of those frozen at least!

Ice Cream.  I love summer because ice cream goes on sale!  I’ve bought four 2-litre tubs in the last two weeks!  Farmer’s Peanut Butter Caramel Cookie Dough is amazing!

Jets.  Some people thought the stunt jets flying over the U2 concert (see U2) in Moncton last weekend were neat.  I did not…I have a recurring nightmare of a plane crashing on top of me!  Of course, they flew over while Jim was at the souvenir tent buying a T-shirt!  There I was, curled into a fetal position with my eyes closed and my fingers jammed in my ears!

Kale.  This year was the first time I’ve grown kale in the garden.  Since we seem to like it both cooked and raw, I think I’ll grow it again next year.  Perhaps I can keep the deer out of it, because they love it too!

Landscaping.  Since our yard now has a very steep hill at the bottom of it, Jim had the idea of just planting a bunch of flowers down there instead of trying to mow it.  I’ve been collecting seed heads from the poppies in our front yard, and hope to dry them and plant the seeds next spring.  I’m having a bit of a problem with mold though…we’ll see how it goes!

Mud.  As alluded to earlier, Jim and I went to Moncton for the U2 concert at Magnetic Hill (see U2).  I had purchased the tickets back in March for Jim’s birthday, because he loves the band!  It rained all day…driving up was a bit hairy at times.  It stopped just as we got there.  As we made our way on to the field, I started to regret leaving Anna’s rubber boots I’d planned to borrow at home.  It seems that 75,000 people traipsing across wet grass multiple times has a negative effect:

These girls were trying to negotiate the mud in front of the concession tents...notice the depth...photo by Jim

 

My feet in my unfortunate choice of footwear after a trek to the Port-a-potties...photo by Jim

Nails.  Jim decided to trim Jake’s nails while I was at work on Saturday.  Unfortunately, he cut one too short, and poor Jake was bleeding!  After he jumped all over Jim’s clean laundry, we made the dog a makeshift bandage to prevent further stainage!

Old Friends.  We were very fortunate on our trip to Moncton to be able to stay with our friends, Brenda and Chuck.  I’ve known them for about twenty years, and they are always warm and wonderful hosts!  Brenda actually came downstairs in her nightgown when we stumbled into her house at 2:30 a.m. to ask how the concert was!

Brenda and Chuck...still holding hands after three decades together!

Park ‘n’ Ride.  For the U2 concert (see U2), the City of Moncton had organized a Park ‘n’ Ride program.  We eagerly decided to use it again, remembering how easy it had been when we went to The Eagles concert at Magnetic Hill three years ago.  Unfortunately, it worked a little differently than in 2008…it took us 2-and-a-half hours to get out of the concert site and back to downtown Moncton!  Please don’t “fix” what ain’t broke! 

Quiet.  Jim and the girls left yesterday for vacation (see Vacation), and Devin’s at his mom’s house this week.  It is quiet in the house (except when Jake barks at nothing outside).

Reba.  Hope was saying the other day about how she was jealous that I’d met so many famous people (from my days of being married to a country DJ).  She asked me to list some of the people I’d met, and I started: “Alabama (twice), Sawyer Brown, Ricky Skaggs, The Rankin Family, Reba…”

Hope interrupted: “REBA!  I told Gabrielle you’d met ABBA!”

Potato, pototo…

So You Think You Can Dance.  Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I love this show.  I finally got to watch the PVR of last week’s show this morning.  Sasha dancing with my favourite boy from last year, Kent (an Ohio boy!), in a Tyce Diorio choreographed piece moved me to tears.  I also absolutely adore MelanieMarko, and Tadd!

Tip.  As I mentioned before, there were fifteen of us at Jungle Jim’s for dinner last week.  It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever left a $40 tip!

U2.  Despite the lineups and the mud, Jim and I had a good time at the U2 concert.  I was happy I had purchased camping mats to sit on, and Jim was glad he’d bought binoculars, even though we had to wait while the clerk at the Wal-Mart in Sussex fiddled (unsuccessfully) with the showcase key!  We were sitting in what we dubbed “the senior citizen’s section” up near the top of the hill, in a less muddy part of the field.  A couple of old hippies in yellow rain gear sat to our left and alternated between smoking joints and regular cigarettes.  We watched as inebriated people negotiated (and failed to negotiate) the mud on the way to the Beer Garden.  “What Not to Wear” would have had a field day if they’d had cameras set up at the concert!

Jim and I at the concert...the guy in the red shirt is mad because he got stuck sitting in the Old Fart section...photo by Jim

  

Vacation. Jim, Hope and Brianna left yesterday for vacation (Anna will take a train from Port Hope to Montreal, and meet up with them tonight).  Jim has a “Six Flags Extravaganza” planned, hitting three parks in one province and two states!  Sadly (NOT – I hate amusement parks!), I couldn’t go with them because I had to work.  I will miss them, but I will also enjoy the quiet and having less laundry and dishes to do!

Wedding.  Anna and Kaylee’s cousin, Corey, got married on Saturday.  I still remember him being the ringbearer when he was five at my wedding to my ex-husband (27 years ago!).  I wish Corey and Christine many happy years together!  Anna got to be the official photographer too!

eXceptional.  Okay…I know this is cheating, but X-ray is the only word I know that starts with “X”.  My granddaughter, Elise, will be two in September, but already knows all her numbers, letters, and symbols (question marks, etc.), as well as the sounds the letters make!  I predict she will be reading by the time she’s three, just like I was! 

Yellow Pages.  We got our new phone book the other day.  For some reason, they’ve started putting the Yellow Pages in the front.  I find that very confusing!

Zebra Stripes.  My girls are crazy for zebra stripes.  Anna has a zebra striped sports bra, spankies, bathing suit, cheerleading bag, and suitcase.  Hope had pink and purple zebra stripes on her birthday cake!

Congratulations on making it through my longest post ever!  Now go have a snack!

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Of Gardening, Greens, Greenery and Goldbricking…NEW POST!

Well, here I am again: “live” so to speak, and thankfully still “alive” after a rather stressful week.  Here’s what’s been happening in Hammond River:

After virtually ignoring my garden all week, I was surprised to find that the weeds were trying to take over (funny how that happens!).  I spent much of Saturday evening and Sunday pulling out the invaders and rediscovering the plants underneath (Dad helped with the hoeing on Sunday too, as well as installing poles for the climbing beans, and strings for the peas).

This year, I tried to plant things in a different spot than they had been in last year, “rotating my crops” like a good farmer would.  The squash and beans are at the top of the garden, instead of in the middle.  The tomatoes were planted at the top last year – when we were weeding, we discovered all kinds of tomato plants that were growing from fruit that must have dropped on the ground last year (Dad calls the orphans “volunteers”)!  Some of them were bigger than the seedlings I’d grown in the house…how ironic is that?  Of course, I have no idea what varieties they are (I had about a dozen different ones last year), so it will be fun to see what I get!

This is some squash (notice the lacy leaves from the cucumber beetles!), with the "volunteer" tomato plants in the middle and the bottom right corner of it.

 

Two rows of peas, with newly-installed strings...

 

Pole Beans...

 

Bush beans with purslane at the foot of the plant...

Midweek, we were able to have our first salad from the garden, mixing seven or eight kinds of lettuces and greens, including kale and arugula (this is the first year I’ve tried those).

Salad greens: three kinds of lettuce, tat soi, arugula, kale, and other greens...

Yesterday, we had our first feed of cooked greens: spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, bull’s blood greens, and kale.  It’s a good thing there are only three of us who like them, because this big pot of raw greens fit into a small bowl once cooked:

Greens before cooking in a big pasta pot...

 

Small bowl of greens after cooking...

 
Here’s an update on how our back yard looks after the landscapers have been here:

Yard levelled, grass seed planted...uprooted peony bushes still in the foreground...

 

Looking straight (?!!) down our fence...didn't they do a great job putting it back up? NOT!

 

Other plants in the back yard are blooming:

Pink peonies that the deer didn't eat the buds off of...

 

A pretty bush beside the back deck...I don't know what kind it is...

 

Jim spent Saturday rebuilding two of our rotten front steps…here is his finished handiwork:

Jim fixed our front steps using a mix of old and new lumber...nice and solid now!

 

Here he is relaxing on our new porch swing with Jake after he was finished:

Jim and Jake take it easy...

 

Hope everybody has a great week…more archive posts to follow…will feature some of Anna’s dragonfly pictures next week!

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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!): 

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