Tag Archives: snow

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!

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Flax, Fishing, Flickr, Flatulence, and Frustrations…But the Alliteration Stops Here…

It’s been another “can’t get out of my own way” week…here are some of the highlights:

1. Flax.  Spurred by my friend Suzanne’s success with homemade bagels,  I decided to give them a try.  I make bread a lot, but have only tried to make bagels one other time (with disappointing results!).  I eat a bagel (with jam) every morning for breakfast…my favourite flavour is “Sunflower Flax,” so I looked for a recipe for Flax Bagels online (thank you, Kristin!).  The recipe I used recommended dividing the dough into small balls before forming the bagels by sticking your thumb through the ball and stretching the hole a bit.  The boiling time was also quite a bit longer than Suzanne recommended: 5 minutes (I compromised with about three minutes).  One thing I learned is that I should have loosened the bagels from the cookie sheet right after I took them out of the oven…as they cooled, the sugar water stuck them to the tray like glue (even though I oiled the pan first).  Here are six of my 18 “beauties”:

Flax Bagels...they tasted as good as they look!

2. Fishing.  One of Jim’s work colleagues invited him to visit his ice-fishing hut this past weekend (we wanted to go, but were too busy ferrying kids around – maybe next weekend!).  I’ve loved to fish since I was a kid in Rednersville in Prince Edward County, Ontario…the best part of fishing is digging for the worms!  My younger brother and I would buy fish hooks at our neighbourhood store (2 for 5 cents), and take our rods down to the Bay of Quinte.  Mostly, we caught sunfish, perch, and large and small-mouthed bass…we always threw them back (the only fish we ate then came in stick form, and the Bay was known for its mercury contamination).  One day, I caught a big catfish. Unfortunately, it had swallowed my hook…I tried and tried to get it out (I even went home and got Dad’s needle-nosed pliers!).  After an hour-and-a-half, I reluctantly cut the line, knowing that the fish would probably die…what a decision for an eleven-year-old!  I was a guilty mess for the rest of the day!

The last time I was fishing was about seven years ago, when Hope was five…we took the kids to a Fish Farm, where they had a pond stocked with speckled trout.  You could catch as many as three fish, and pay, based on the weight of what you caught.  Hope has a rather short attention span…she was done in about three minutes.  I took over her pole (Anna stuck with it!).  We got our three fish, and took them home.  Once they were cleaned and filleted (a part of fishing I refuse to do), I stuffed them with fresh mushrooms and baked them in the oven…yummy!

Jim and I got fishing licenses the first summer we lived at Hammond River, but never ended up going fishing…maybe this summer!

3. Flickr.  Anna got a spiffy new camera on the weekend, the Nikon D3100.  The plan is for her to start building her portfolio for her post-secondary education (she graduates in 2012).  She’s been borrowing Jim’s zoom lens and taking photos of our back porch wildlife.  Anna has a new account on Flickr if you want to see more (link also under “Photos” at right).

One of our kamikaze squirrels...someone should tell them that plastic isn't good to eat! (Photo by Anna Matheson)

 

4. Flatulence.  The other day, I was having a spirited conversation with a customer at the bookstore about the beauty of structural details in old buildings.  We were standing in front of the “Technical” section…I heard a series of small explosions as he stepped quickly away from me, excusing himself.  Whoo-eee!  I don’t know what the man had for breakfast, but my money’s on beans!  I bit my lip, trying hard not to laugh…it doesn’t take much to get me going…I wonder sometimes if I was a 10-year-old boy in another life!

5. Frustrations.  We had another snowstorm yesterday, which dropped another foot on us, and gave the kids another snow day, their fifth one this winter (it came at the end of the high schoolers’ exams, and two “turn-around” days, so the older kids had a whole week off!).  Since Jim had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, his boss suggested he work from home in the morning.  I decided to take a “snow day” too.  I stayed in my jammies all day, stepping away from the computer every once in a while to break up arguments in the family room (and load the dishwasher with millions of cups and bowls!). 

Jim left for the doctor’s office around two…the snow was a blizzard by then!  He texted me to let me know he’d made it to the office, and then called once he was finished with his appointment.  He advised that he was going to pick up a prescription and then return home.  My dad called at 4:00 from the bookstore to say that he was planning to close early and come home…he wanted to know how the driveway was.  I told him our plow guy hadn’t come yet, but he’d probably make it in if he hurried!  Fifteen minutes later, Jim called to tell me the transmission on the car had died a mile down the road…he was waiting for a tow truck, and directing people around the car, which was still in the roadway.  Luckily, our neighbour who lives in the house near where he broke down invited Jim in to get warm while he waited…he usually wears several layers of clothing (he once went to work with two pairs of pyjama pants under his jeans), but had left the house in a hurry in the afternoon (at least there was a toque and gloves in the car!).  He finally got home about 5:15…the tow truck driver had kindly dropped him off (for just over $140, it was the least he could do!).  So our Toyota is sitting at the transmission repair place in Saint John waiting for parts, in line behind several other vehicles whose parts were delayed by the snowstorm.  Did I mention we just had our van towed to the garage on Monday to have the problems with the power steering and the blower fixed (tally for that is over $1000 so far – they found some rusty lines)?  Thankfully, Jim’s parents will lend us a car until we have at least one of our vehicles back!

I got to bed late last night after a long distance phone call to a dear friend who’s going through a big crisis in her life.  Apparently, I neglected to set my alarm, and woke up an hour late this morning (and spent ten minutes looking for Anna’s cheerleading shorts, and then her coat).  I’m hoping people won’t notice that I haven’t had a shower…

At least I’m not farting…

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A Premature Passing; Pecans, Pesto, and Pizza; and the Plowman Pops In…

The past week was pronounced…no matter how I persevered, people persisted in being a pain in my patoot:

1. A Premature Passing.  On Wednesday night, I was poking into the family photo albums, looking for the prized pictures of phenom puck-passer, Wayne Gretzky, for the post I published for his prestigious birthday.  As I perused the pages, my dad was peering over my shoulder.  “Oh, was that when Anna was cremated?  You looked good there!” he proclaimed.

Taking pains to prevent the peals of laughter that would probably provoke my pop, I parried with “I think we’ll wait until after Anna dies to cremate her (my very much alive 16-year-old was standing next to me at the time).” 

Putting on a pained expression, Dad picked up on his mistake.  “You know I meant christened,” he pouted.

Anna...not quite ready to be cremated...

 

2. Pecans, Pesto, and Pizza.  Thursday, the “powers that be” proclaimed a snow day for public school pupils.  My “pets” pronounced it “Piss Off A Parent Day.”  Anna and Hope passed the day at the bookstore with me, plundering my purse for every penny.  They prevailed that they were “parched” and might “perish” if their pleas for payment were pooh-poohed.  When not pestering me, they picked at each other.  Anna proposed patronizing Pomodori for supper.  Jim and I permitted it, since I had no prior plan for our evening meal.  I ordered the Spinach Salad with Sugared Pecans, Feta, and Figs, something I’d been pumped to partake of.  The progeny both had Chicken Pesto Pizza, and Jim got Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza with hot peppers.  After paying with pre-purchased gift cards, we polished off our plates, and the girls took some pizza home in a package.

3. The Plowman Pops In.  I preach to people I know that I’ve got “the best plow guy in the world.”  He was that every other day but last Thursday.  On our way home from Pomodori, my phone rang.  My dad called to tell me he was stuck partway down the driveway…he had tried to power his way through the plentiful snowdrifts…the plow guy had not been there at all that day.  As we approached, we saw Dad shovelling behind the paused vehicle.  That was when the plow guy made his appearance, approaching from the other direction.  Jim parked by the side of the road, and the girls and I plunged through the knee-deep snow towards the house to get more shovels.  When we got there, we were exhausted.  I changed my socks and was at the door putting on my boots, when the plow guy came to the door.  He asked if I wanted to pay him!  I was more than a little peeved, thinking I’d be more inclined to pay him if he’d shown up before my dad’s car got buried up to its rims in pesky precipitation!  I wrote him a cheque (a preposterous amount, since he hadn’t asked for payment all winter!), and then waited as he plowed near the house so that I could get back out to where Dad’s car was.  I made it just in time for his car to be freed, and for Jim’s battery to die at the end of the driveway.  Dad parked his car in front of the garage, and then helped me push Jim’s car until it started again.  It was after 8 by the time we got in the house!  We plunked down on the couch.  We were all pooped!  Our pooch was pleased to see us…he parked himself on my chest and pushed his head up under my chin.  After a few minutes of “puppy love” the pains of our predicament were forgotten…

Puppy Love...(photo by Hope)

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Welcome to Hammond River…

Today, I’m guest hosting at my friend Maura’s blog, 36 x 37, while she’s working on a special assignment…I’d like to thank Maura for trusting me to “mind the store” while she’s away.  For my regular readers, please check out my post (it’s from my early days) and Maura’s archives if you haven’t yet…she’s an Ohio girl like me, and a talented writer!

If you’re new to my blog, please make yourself at home…the tea is always on (I’m afraid if you want coffee, you’ll have to make it yourself…being a bit mechanically-challenged, I’ve never learned how to operate a coffeemaker!).  There’s probably some Peppermint Cheesecake left in the fridge:

Peppermint Cheesecake that Hope and I made...

You might want to bring a warm coat, boots (please leave those by the back door!), a hat, and some mittens…this is what we woke up to this morning:

Jim's Toyota Corolla is somewhere under there...that's our driveway and garage in the background...

The kids were happy to have a Snow Day (no school)…the first one this year (this snowfall wasn’t bad by New Brunswick standards…only about a foot).  They’d probably say they got a Snow Day because they wore their pyjamas inside out and backward last night (a tradition among Maritime children).

As Maura said, my blog is a mixed bag…some might call it “unfocused,” but I’d prefer to think of it as “eclectic.”  It’s probably easier to use the tabs to get around…if you want funny, click “satire.”  If you’re looking for stories of my childhood, look at “memories.”  There’s a lot about the daily life of my rather large family: hit “family.”  Last spring and summer, I worked on my garden, which will be found under “gardening.”  Since I love to cook and bake, you’ll find some delicious things under “cooking” as well.  I talk about pretty much everything here, except sex and religion.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Hammond River, and come back often (click on the Sign Me Up! button, and I’ll come to you in your e-mail!…how easy is that?).  Also, over the nearly 10 months I’ve been writing my blog, I’ve built what I think is a pretty amazing community of blogging buddies (you’ll find links to them on the right side under “He Said”, “She Said”, and “They Said”).  Check them out too!

Thanks again to Maura for directing folks here, and thanks to you for taking time out of your busy day to read my “musings.”

Enjoy,

Wendy

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Winter Tales…

Long-time readers of my blog know that I was born in Ohio, and spent the first eight years of my life there.  Winter in Ohio is kind of “hit and miss”…sometimes you have snow, but not very much, and sometimes it gets cold, but not very cold (at least, not by Canadian standards, where I live now!)…

When there was snow in Ohio, my brother, Jeff, and I would put on our snowpants and boots, and take out our sleds, which had metal runners…generally, they didn’t work very well because more than three inches is a lot of snow in Ohio, and doesn’t happen a lot!  We had better luck with our red “flying saucer”…which looked a lot like a giant Frisbee with rope handles.  Our back yard in Oregon (a suburb of Toledo) had a big hill which was fine for “flying.”

We moved to Ontario when I was eight…Jeff and I were ecstatic to live where there was snow pretty much continuously from mid-November through February (and sometimes March)!  Our parents bought us a big wooden toboggan, and we also had Crazy Carpets to use by ourselves.  We had lots of snow the winter of 1970-71…my dad would pile the snow he shovelled out of our driveway at the end of it, where there was a deep ditch.  With the snowpile being about ten or twelve feet high, we had a great long run from the top of the pile down into the ditch…often we didn’t even bother using vehicles…we’d just slide on the bums of our snow-encrusted layers of jeans (we’d outgrown our snowpants by then – we’d just put on 2 or 3 pairs of pants and play until we were soaked to the skin!).

Here's a picture of Jeff and I standing on top of our snowpile in the winter of 1970-71...yes, those are power/phone lines beside our heads!

We had great fun sliding behind/beside the Rednersville house too!  I remember at least one occasion when my brother and I were on the toboggan together and going very fast, when suddenly, we stopped dead and we both flew off the toboggan landing face-first in the snow.  We weren’t hurt, and couldn’t stop laughing because when I emerged from the snowbank, the snow had packed itself into my glasses!

There was a big field beside the house.  One winter, we’d had freezing rain, which had created a beautiful crust on about eight inches of snow…it was so slippery, you could barely walk on it!  Our family decided to take advantage of the excellent conditions and got out the toboggan.  That was the only time I recall my mom actually going out sliding with us (Dad came out quite often).  Mom sat on the toboggan by herself, and Dad let go when she was ready.  A minute or two later, we heard a thump and a blood-curdling yell: “Dave…I think I broke my back!”  My mom had “found” the one apple tree in the middle of the field!  Dad made his way out to the scene of the accident, loaded Mom back onto the toboggan, and pulled it to the car.  After we were all in, we left for the emergency room.  Mom’s back wasn’t broken, just badly bruised!

We were lucky at the Rednersville house to have 43 acres of land with a big hill behind us.  With our friends, Jimmy and Dougie, we could go to the top of the hill, and slide several hundred feet, almost all the way back to the house.  Crazy Carpets were the best vehicle for that, once the trail was established.  One winter, there was a friendly dog around which we christened “Wolfie” because he sort of looked like one.  Wolfie used to like to jump on our backs as we hurtled down the hill on our stomachs on our Crazy Carpets.  The worst injury we ever got was ending up in thorn bushes!

A couple of times, my best friend, Angela, took me out “Skidooing” in the woods behind her house.  We were about eleven, I think (snowmobiles were a lot smaller then).  That was always fun!  My dad hated it when snowmobilers trespassed on our property…he’d go out and yell at them until they left!

I moved to New Brunswick in 1984…winter was different again…you could have snow in late October, right through April sometimes!  There is also not much of a spring…you can literally go from wearing your parka to wearing shorts (and back again, sometimes several times).  There is no gradual warming like we had in Ontario.

I lived in Moncton in February of 1992 when an all-time snowfall record was broken…Moncton had a total of fourteen feet of snow that month in THREE storms.  The biggest storm was on February 1st.  At the time, I worked at a non-profit agency which was about a 10-block walk from our apartment, and we didn’t have a car.  Buses were off the road.  I walked to work, wearing a skirt (I was wearing other clothes too!).  When we got to the building, there was a snowbank about twelve feet high in front of it!  I met one of my co-workers outside, and together we decided to go around the corner and get a coffee, in hopes that our boss might arrive soon, equipped with a shovel to dig a path to the front door!  We had our coffee, and went back to work…everything was as it was when we left.  Since it was already past time to start work, I decided to bite the bullet, and climb the snowbank!  I probably didn’t resemble a mountain goat very much in my long black wool coat, and knee-high boots as I clambered up the hill.  When we arrived in the office, there was our boss, clad in a snowmobile suit…she had come in the back door, and hadn’t thought about us trying to get in the front!  I never liked her!

I tried to find public domain photos of the big Moncton snowstorm on the Internet, but failed.  I remember a paint store on St. George St. cutting “windows” in the snowbank in front of their store and setting paint cans in them to let people know they were there!

Winters in Moncton could be very cold too…I remember one year that we had three solid weeks of windchills between -30 and -36 C. (which is almost the same temperature in Fahrenheit).  School was never cancelled for cold weather, and every day I walked Kaylee the three blocks to her elementary school.  It’s a wonder we didn’t turn into Popsicles!

I moved to Saint John, New Brunswick in November of 1997.  Winters are milder in this area due to the proximity to the ocean.  There are a lot of freeze/thaw cycles, and a lot more ice.  We had some freezing rain in November of 2007 when my dad was undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer.  About 6:30 a.m., he was walking to the bus stop to go to the hospital, and ended up flat on his back in the driveway two doors from our house.  He got up, and continued on his way.  While Dad was having his treatment, he mentioned that he’d had a fall and that he might need an X-ray.  The X-ray confirmed that he’d cracked five ribs.  I didn’t find out about the accident until several hours later…when I asked Dad why he didn’t just come back home, he said, “I didn’t want to mess up their schedule at radiation!”  Sometimes, my dad’s so stoic, I just want to shake him!  I was glad he wasn’t more seriously injured though!

We moved to Hammond River the following year…there’s a little more snow here than in town, and it gets a little colder, but we love it!  I’ve got the best snowplow guy in the world, which is a good thing because our driveway is a quarter mile long…way too much to shovel!  He always has us plowed out by 7 a.m.  When we can get them off their computers, the kids go out sliding, or skating at the little pond down the road.  Here’s a photo of Jim and I taken in January of 2009…not much snow then:

Wendy and Jim beside our house in Hammond River...that's the back yard behind us, and the view of the hills on the other side of the river...

 It’s been raining all week, with more to come…I hope we get some snow before Christmas!

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