Tag Archives: tomatoes

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...


Filed under books, family, food, gardening, shopping

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!): 


Filed under cooking, family, food, gardening

Still Learning in 2010…

Taking the lead from my blogging friends, Todd Pack, Izzie Darling, and Lady Justine, here’s a list of the things I learned this year…if you want to read the full story on any of these lessons, search a keyword or click the appropriate tag in the sidebar:

1. Our dog thinks porcupine poop is dessert.

2. Hope loves Jake enough to share her toothbrush with him.

3. Homemade rolls don’t have to be “pretty” to taste good.

4. Egg cartons are not good containers to start plants indoors in.

5. Dogs love to destroy egg cartons with seedlings in them.

6. Jim’s parents are our biggest supporters.

7. Bleachers are hard things to sit on for more than a couple of hours.

8. I am really out of shape.

9. Seeing a toy from your childhood 40 years later brings you right back to that time in your life.

10. If the winter is mild enough, spinach from last year can survive.

11. Maple vinaigrette makes spinach salad a beautiful thing!

12. There’s no such thing as “too many bird feeders.”

13. Squirrels can do amazing tricks to get to a bird feeder.

14. Some people keep their toilet paper in the breadbox.

15. Mothers-in-law are often right.

16. More people in Saint John knew when the new Costco was opening than were aware of the city’s 225th birthday this year.

17. Rhubarb runs amok if left to grow unchecked.

18. Orthodontists make more per hour than most of us.

19. Sometimes plants get a lot bigger than the seed package says they will…my five-foot sunflowers ended up being seven or eight feet tall!

20. I like portobello mushroom/swiss veggie burgers.

21. Our dog enjoys eating Popsicle sticks.

22. Cosmopolitan was a literary magazine back in the early 1900’s.

23. There is only one kind of hummingbird which frequents New Brunswick: the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.

24. I love Mint Crisp M&M’s.

25. I learned what a “fisher” was, after seeing one cross the road in front of our car.

26. Before you construct a really big birdhouse, figure out where you’re going to put it and how to get it up there!

27. My dad’s a good singer, and I’m not the only one who thinks so!

28. They sell live ladybugs at Home Depot.

29. Right after you purchase twenty tomato plants, the forty you started from seed will rally.

30. Ladybugs aren’t always red with black spots…sometimes they’re brown with cream spots.

31. As long as they’re under warranty, Vogue Optical will replace glasses which have been chewed by a dog!

32. We have a cherry tree, and eight high-bush blueberries I’d never noticed before.

33. “Beaver Tails” are too expensive to buy now.

34. Hope really likes getting muddy.

35. Wallpaper is nearly impossible to find.

36. Hummingbirds are fearless.

37. The Chinese cabbage I planted is not the “head” type.

38. How to make good piecrust…the secret is lard.

39. Some people will ignore a sign that says: “Danger – Do Not Touch.”

40. Deer can be aggressive.

41. Organic broccoli often goes to seed faster than I can harvest it.

42. I love rutabaga!

43. I found out what “purslane” looks like.

44. It’s never a good idea to put a chicken burger into a toaster.

45. I don’t hate all sci-fi…I enjoy “Eureka.”

46. You can purchase a sailboat on the Internet.

47. Ripe canteloupe is not a good lunchbox food.

48. Picking things from the garden in the dark is really difficult.

49. I suck at “Musical Chairs.”

50. The blogging community is full of incredible people…I am so happy to have made their online acquaintances!

I’m looking forward to learning more in 2011!


Filed under blogging, cooking, family, food, gardening, memories, nature, self-discovery

A Wilde and Snowy Weekend…

I apologize for the four-day gap between posts…even though it was not a holiday weekend here in Canada, it was a busy time!

1. Sinking to New Depths.  On Wednesday afternoon, Jim looked out the window and saw a septic tank cleaning truck stuck up to its axles in the mud in our front field…very bad idea on the part of our landlord’s brother, who owns the lots next to our house and is trying to sell them!  Needless to say, no sewage was sucked that day (although I imagine the truck driver was probably throwing the S-word around pretty freely)!

2. Lost Subscriber.  I think it was sometime on Thursday that I discovered that someone had cancelled his subscription to my blog…being obsessed with stats as I am, I was upset and hurt.  Had I said something to offend him?  Was my blog quality slipping?  After second guessing his motives for a few minutes  hours days, I decided to get over it…he “just wasn’t that into me.” 

3. Parent-Teacher Conference.  While my American friends and family were eating turkey on Thursday, I was on the Stairmaster meeting with Hope’s teachers at Quispamsis Middle School.  I met with six of her teachers in five different classrooms on two different floors.  Suffice to say, whoever made up our schedule must have known I need to lose a few pounds…the first meeting was on the second floor, second meeting on the first floor…you get the gist of where this is going!  I was up and down more than the Canadian dollar!  All of Hope’s teachers were very nice, and told me what a pleasure she was to have in their classes (I’m pretty sure they were actually talking about my kid).  I was relieved because I had been dreading the encounter with some of them.  I made sure Hope was thoroughly embarrassed by giving a lot of them my bookstore business card.  I also ran into one of Kaylee’s former high school teachers (he has a child attending QMS).  To Hope’s horror, I whipped out the photo album with Elise’s pictures to show him what Kaylee’s daughter looked like!

4. Alice’s Adventures.  One of the things that came up at the Parent-Teacher conference is that Hope needs to spend more time reading.  When we got home, I took down our copy of Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and asked Hope if she wanted me to read it to her.  She was unsure at first, but trudged upstairs with me anyway.  That book is quite enjoyable to read aloud, and Hope laughed in all the right places (I decided that the Mouse would have a Manchester accent).  We read two chapters Thursday night, and two more last night.

5.  Back to Work Friday.  The kids had the day off Friday because of Parent-Teacher conferences, but it was Jim’s first day back to work after his surgery.  He arranged with his boss to leave a couple of hours early in the afternoon…wanted to ease into the routine.  Hope came to town with me to hang out with her friend, Gabrielle, and go shopping.  Here’s what Hope bought for Jake at the Dollar Store:

Hope and Jake (photo by Jim)...this will be Hope's Christmas card this year...

6. The Importance of Being Earnest.  Jim and I went to see an ultra-modern version of Oscar Wilde’s excellent satire on Friday evening at the Imperial Theatre (there were references to Facebook and e-mail, and characters were checking their PDA’s).  The Saint John Theatre Company did a bang-up job as usual, delivering Wilde’s lines with the biting sarcasm we’ve come to expect from Oscar.  My favourite is Lady Bracknell’s response when Jack declares that he’s an orphan: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

7. Santa and Snow Come to Town.  Saturday morning was bright and sunny when we woke up…surely the weatherman was mistaken about snow later in the day…Anna had to be on the West Side at noon for the Lancaster Santa Claus Parade.  After an emergency stop at the mall for black sweatpants, she arrived just in time to make it into the team photos being taken before the parade.  By then, it was snowing like crazy!  We watched the parade from the car (Hope got out…she collected the candy given out during the parade, but didn’t share with us!).

Anna...self-portrait after the parade...

After a nap for Jim, and a quick supper, we were back on the road enroute to the Kennebecassis Valley Santa Claus Parade, which Hope’s cheerleading team was marching in.  The coach had told the girls to be there by 5:30…we were a little late due to a stop at Co-Op for a can of tomato paste.  The parade was forming at the high school, and by the time we got near it, the road was blocked off.  Traffic was crazy!  Jim drove us to his parents’ house, and we all walked to the high school from there (about a mile, I think).  Hope got there just in time to join up with her team.  Anna and I watched the parade, while Jim followed Hope’s team in the parade, snapping photos like a paparazzi.

Hope and her cheerleading team in the parade...photo by Jim

After the parade, Anna and I met Jim back at Jim’s parents’ house…Jim’s mom made Anna hot chocolate, and some tea for me.  I was exhausted, but not as tired as Hope, who had walked another half an hour longer than I had!  She went to bed as soon as we got home!

8. Little Wendy Homemaker.  Sunday morning, I got up early…in addition to four loads of laundry, I had plans to make homemade spaghetti sauce with tomatoes from our garden.  Kaylee, Scott and Elise were coming over for supper.  Jim suggested I make chocolate macaroons for dessert…we call them “doodoo drops” at our house:

"DooDoo Drops"


I took precautions and put up the baby gate in front of the dining room door, to prevent a repeat of the unfortunate molasses brown bread incident.

9.  Ridiculous Gifts.  In between loads of laundry and cooking, I had a little time to peruse some of the many catalogues which have made their way into my mailbox.  Here are a couple of examples of what people are supposedly plunking down their credit cards for: 

Cast Iron Giraffe Toilet Paper Holder - $27.95...what kind of self-respecting jungle animal wears Charmin as an accessory? I could make him a scarf...

The Hot Seat Swivel Stool...$395...I can't have one of these because they only deliver to the continental U.S....darn!

10. That’s What She Said.  When Kaylee and Scott arrived (early, as is their custom), Elise happened to find the TV remote, and turn it on.  The big-screen TV also acts as Jim’s computer monitor, and he had been looking at his photos onscreen.  Anna and I took the opportunity to show our guests some shots from our PEI trip this summer.  Jim had several shots of some very tame foxes.  Kaylee looked at one and announced confidently, “That one’s definitely a girl!”  Anna asked, “Are you sure?”  After taking another look, Kaylee said, “Oh…I thought that was a hole…”(the poor girl inherited my eyesight!). 

One of the fox photos...not the one that fooled Kaylee!

We had fun with Elise…it had been a couple of weeks since we’d seen her.  She has added the word “flower” to her vocabulary…she had flowers on her very cute little coat that she got for her birthday.

Kaylee, Elise, Hope, and the fuzzy flower coat at Elise's 1st birthday party...

11. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.  After simmering for a little over five hours, the spaghetti sauce was finally the right consistency.  To save a major mess, I decided to serve it with penne rigate instead of spaghetti, since we don’t have a high chair for Elise yet.  She rejected the old dishtowel I tied around her neck as a bib (it was clean, and only had a couple of holes in it!).  I also offered utensils, but she preferred to use both hands to feed the pasta and carrots into her mouth.

12. Nick Needs to Go!  Amazing Race is down to the last four teams…last night, Nick showed himself to be the whining dickhead that he truly is once again (sorry for the potty mouth, but Nick is a waste of skin).  Poor Vicki was struggling to run in the heat with her asthma, and he was telling her to “suck it up”!  She spent the episode throwing up after a food challenge, but didn’t want to quit.  When faced with finding a certain fishing boat in the dark, Nick gave up, and said he was going to go to sleep, leaving Vicki holding the ball again (she is the only one who has any, apparently).  They ended up at the pit stop without completing the task, and now have a six-hour penalty and a speed bump…it was a non-elimination round.  Please, Vicki…stop wasting your time with this buffoon…he keeps saying he’s changed, but he lies!


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

Tiptoeing Through Tuesday…

Tuesday has never been my favourite day, but it’s nearly 11 a.m., and it’s actually been not bad (so far…touching wooden desk as I speak!).

Here are some random things from my last few days:

1. Snow/Whirlwind Shopping Trip/Music on Saturday.  We woke up to snow on the ground on Saturday…not much by New Brunswick standards.  In what was probably record time for shopping with the girls, we managed to pick up winter boots for Hope on Saturday at Old Navy for $19…WIN!  We were rushing to drop off Anna and Brianna at the new Harry Potter movie, and then dropped Hope off at her dad’s to watch the Santa Claus Parade in (uptown) Saint John.  Her dad is one of the judges, so the kids get to watch the parade from the comfort of a Saint John City Transit bus.  This year, the head judge brought them pizza and pop.  Jim and I stopped for groceries (sans kids) on the way home…we hadn’t done a major food run since Jim’s surgery!  We spent $165…nobody had better look in the cupboard and complain “There’s nothing to eat!”  There will be two more parades next weekend: the Lancaster Santa Claus Parade (West Saint John), which Anna’s cheerleading team is in, and the Kennebecasis Valley Santa Claus Parade (Quispamsis), which Hope’s cheerleading team is in.  I finally had the chance to listen to a Richard Shindell album I’d ordered (Courier), thanks to my friend Hippie Cahier.  It was so amazing, I listened to it twice in a row!

2. Laundry/Migraine on Sunday.  Four loads of laundry…first migraine for a while!  Family ate pot pies/fries for supper instead of planned lasagna.  I ate Multi-Grain Cheerios and Saltines (neither of which stayed down).  Opted to PVR Amazing Race instead of watch it (you know I’m sick when that happens!).

3. Jim’s Sense of Smell Came Back.  Since his sinus surgery almost two weeks ago, Jim hasn’t been able to smell much.  Anna was scrambling eggs Sunday morning, and he actually caught a whiff of them!  He’s also happy to be able to blow his nose again!

4. Relaxing Monday.  Worried that the migraine might come back, I stayed home from the bookstore on Monday.  Played on the computer and made lasagna (with homemade spaghetti sauce from our garden tomatoes) while Jim slept through old Newhart and M*A*S*H episodes in the La-Z-Boy.  Dad and Anna got home late – they had seen a car hit a deer (one of a group of three), but the deer got up and ran off after doing a little cartwheel.  The man’s car was slightly damaged.  We watched Amazing Race after supper, and were happy to see Chad and Stephanie go…I give their marriage a year…tops!  Two and a Half Men came on at ten…I’ve been underwhelmed with the show this season…the writing was a lot funnier when the dirty jokes were subtle.  I used to let the kids watch it, knowing they probably wouldn’t pick up on the raunchy parts, but now, it’s just “in-your-face” crass!

5. Weird Dreams.  I dreamed of running again last night (for somebody who doesn’t run, I dream about it a lot!).  I also dreamed that I was in town with no purse, no wallet and no phone.  Then I ran into another running man who was “having a low” (Jim is Type 1 Diabetic – he has “low” sugars a lot in the night), so I followed this poor guy into the men’s room to try to help him.  Realizing I’d wandered into forbidden territory, I came out and informed the staff in the snack bar that there was a man “having a low” in the men’s room, and that they should get him some juice.  Then I used some Chinese girl’s (I think she was a stripper) Hello Kitty cell phone to call home to ask Jim to come and get me…but not before we went to my old apartment in Moncton to deliver a blanket(?) to a bad mother who was letting her two toddlers run around outside by themselves.  While we were there, my brother wandered in (having made the 1000-mile drive from Ontario)…my aunt from Florida was already there!  If I’m going to have weird dreams, I do it right (I think it might have been the hot dogs we ate for lunch)!

6. Stats.  Opening up a friend’s blog post this morning, she was complaining that she had gotten some 1500 hits this past WEEK by searchers using the search term “turkey” or variations thereof…I think I’m going to tag all my posts “turkey” this week!

7. Airline Security.  A friend on Facebook posted a link to a note written by someone else about the recent airline security “personal” searches, and how ridiculous they were.  It was quite well-written – the poster declared that he would choose the “patdown” search when he flew home for Thanksgiving.  I got a chuckle from a commenter who suggested that he “Wear a quilt [my italics].  Go commando.”  Yeah…that will make it better…

8. Perfect Stranger Chills in PA.  Another friend on Facebook lives in Pennsylvania, and celebrated her 40th birthday this past weekend.  She was at the ice cream machine at the Old Country Buffet in Scranton at the same time as Bronson Pinchot (Balki on Perfect Strangers).  I wonder if she did the “dance of joy”? 

9. More Shopping With Teenagers Tonight.  Jim is bringing Hope and Brianna with him tonight when he comes to pick up Anna and I…Hope needs a new winter coat (she’s grown out of last year’s), and both Bri and Anna need new boots (Anna’s $90 ones from last year are totalled!).  I’m hoping that my MasterCard escapes with cuts and bruises rather than a skull fracture…

10. Holiday Decorating.  I have friends who have already decorated their homes for Christmas…I personally think they’re deranged!  I saw a couple of Target ads for Black Friday last night…nuts! 


Filed under blogging, cooking, dreams, family, food, satire, shopping

Macho Deer, Calzones, Aggressive Squirrels, and Fallen Trees…

Here, for your Wednesday reading pleasure, are some random happenings from my weekend:

1. My landlord and I had a fun discussion about our gardens on Friday when he came to collect the rent.  He told me that he had paid $1500 to install a solar-powered electric fence to keep the deer out of his, but that the bucks had recently started breaching security.  “I don’t know if they’re proving their manhood…they twitch a little when they go through, but do it anyway!”  It made me giggle to see his impression of the bucks as they passed through the current.  He said they had taken a bite out of every one of his beloved squash (he told me he was boiling them anyway)…I invited him to come and help himself to some of our “unused” squash!

2. A new bird has joined the flock which comes to feast at Jim’s Bird Feeder Smorgasbord: it’s quite shy, and just flits onto the deck and picks up the seeds the greedy goldfinches spill.  It’s a white-breasted nuthatch.

White-breasted nuthatch...

The Smorgasbord has been closed for the last couple of days as it had been raining most of last week, and the water had gotten into the feeders, causing the bird seed to sprout.  Not wanting to hurt our fine feathered friends, Jim has been washing the feeders out with bleach and soapy water, and will refill them shortly (he buys so much nyger seed at Bulk Barn, I think we should own stock there by now!).

3. It was a gorgeous day on Saturday…who would have thought I’d be sitting on our deck shelling orca beans in a T-shirt and bare feet on October 2nd (in case you’re wondering, I was also wearing jeans!)?

4. I’m liking this “give Mom a break” thing we started with cooking.  On Saturday, Jim made an amazing pot roast with potatoes, onions, carrots, turnip, rutabaga (from our garden), peas, corn, and homemade gravy.  Last night, Anna and Hope made Chinese food…it was awesome!  The kids are cooking again Friday night…can’t wait to see what they have planned!

5. Anna was taking pictures of one of our resident grey squirrels through a window the other day…when it saw her, it started launching itself towards the window!  It did it at least twice…

6. Saturday night, Jim and I went to see the new movie, “The Social Network.”  In case you haven’t heard, it’s about how Facebook got started.  It was quite an interesting social study…Jim liked that the technical parts were accurate!  The writing is very good, but it’s definitely not an “easy” movie…the teenagers talking behind us made it somewhat difficult to follow sometimes!  The way Mark Zuckerburg’s character talked was sometimes reminiscent of “Rain Man.”  Jim had to go for a pit stop in the middle of the movie…while moving my knees out of his way, I managed to dump half my box of Raisinets on the floor (glad I bought them at the Dollar Store and not the theatre – that would have been an expensive accident!).

7.  Sunday morning, I started boiling down tomatoes from the garden for pizza sauce.  Jim wanted me to make calzones similar to what we’d had last week at a local restaurant.  There were quite a few tomatoes, and it took them several hours to get thick enough for sauce.  I added minced onion and garlic, chili powder, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and sugar.  It was delicious!  Then I made the calzones, which while easy, take time to shape and fill (I used pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese, along with the sauce).  We ate late that night, but they were good!  I had a whole bag of pizza sauce left, which I put in the freezer for another time.

Two of the finished calzones...yes, that's a dinner-sized plate! Yummy!

8. In the afternoon, we went over to Jim’s parents to pick up some firewood.  While they were away visiting relatives last week, a big maple tree in their back yard had fallen down during a windstorm, narrowly missing their carport!  They offered us the wood.  We filled up the back of the van…we went back to get the rest last night.  It should be close to a cord…that will save us some money next year!

9. Sunday night, Jim and I went to the Blue Olive to see Rose Cousins, one of our favourite folk singers.  She was her usual, funny, charming self, although she was fighting a cold…she joked that a Canada Goose had gotten into her nose.  Rose introduced us to a couple of other singers who are just starting out: Heather Green and Ria Mae.  We liked them both, and especially enjoyed the end where everyone sang together!   There had been a mixup with our tickets, and our seats had been given to someone else…to compensate, the hostess paid our tab for the night (which would have been higher had we not been drinking pop – Jim did get a nice Greek salad, though).  We sat with our friend, Stephen Webb, from CBC.  Jim grew up with him.

Rose Cousins...

10. I was out picking tomatoes Monday night, and got into a mild disagreement with a doe.  There was a whole group of deer out there, quite close to the fence, and I waved my arms and yelled at them to make them move away (Dad is terrified that they’ll get into the garden some day!).  They did move, but one stubborn female stayed closer than the others…she stomped her foot and snorted at me.  I waved my arms and told her to “Git!”  She stared at me like my kids do when I’ve told them to do something they have no intention of doing…she snorted and stomped again.  We repeated this exchange for about five minutes before she and her posse hightailed it into the woods.  I win!


Filed under cooking, family, food, friends, gardening, music, nature

Sunday, Seals, Siamese Twins and Sci-Fi…

On Friday night, Hope had a friend come over for a sleepover…as kids do, Hope stood gazing into the freezer, looking for “something to eat” as every child does.  “Are those waffles?” she asked.  Vaguely remembering buying waffles a couple of months ago, I answered, “Umm-hmm…” without looking up from my computer screen (as every blogging mom does).  “You and Gabrielle could have those for breakfast tomorrow morning.”

Fast forward to Sunday morning (Gabrielle was long-gone):  I came down from having my shower to hear a fabulous story about Hope putting a chicken burger into the toaster!  She was fooled by the woven pattern stamped into the meat.  Note to self – don’t put stuff in the freezer in unmarked plastic bags!

To make the morning even better, Hope and Anna spent the next hour bickering (whipping the dog’s tennis ball at each other until one cried).  It ended after I ordered them each to make a list of ten nice things they could do for their sister, and then do one each day.  The first day, Hope came up with telling Anna, “You dress cool.”  To which Anna replied, “You sing well.”  We’ll see what today brings…

After brunch of (burned) toad-in-the-hole flax bagels (accompanied by more bitching), we went to Superstore to pick up last-minute school lunch makings (stores here are closed on Labour Day).  I vetoed the 24-pack of lunch-sized potato chips…I refuse to pay $3.49 for 120 chips!  Hope was happy to get pear-flavoured applesauce, and yogurt tubes.  Anna got Bear Paws and Vachon snack cakes.  I grabbed some bread, and a pack of bologna and ham for “real food.”

We brought the groceries home, and unloaded them.  We got right back in the van after that…Jim had suggested we visit the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews.  Anna and I had never been, and Jim hadn’t been for at least 10 years.  Hope had been there on a couple of school trips.

On our way, we stopped at McKay’s Blueberries in Pennfield.  The lineup was long, but it was worth the wait.  We watched as people walked by laden with pies, muffins and jams.  Finally, it was our turn:  Hope had a strawberry sundae, Anna had a blueberry sundae, and Jim and I had blueberry shortcake with homemade biscuits.  Everything was covered with real whipped cream!   Awesome deliciousness!  I have to say my mood improved remarkably after that…

We arrived at the Huntsman Centre  about 3:00.  What we didn’t know is that they were in the middle of an $8 million dollar renovation, which meant that the entire aquarium population was housed in temporary facilities while a new building  was being constructed.  We paid our admission in a large tent…the attendant informed us that they would be feeding the seals at 4:00 (we knew that already).  We proceeded to the seal tank, where two harbour seals swam around.  After that, we watched sturgeon and stingrays in another tank.  We made our way to the “main building” where several other marine animals were displayed.  Hope had fun with the “touch tank” where a number of sea animals could be picked up – her favourite was the starfish.  I tried to stay out of the way of the hundreds of strollers (okay, I’m exaggerating – it was probably five).  It was a pretty small space!  We were finished our tour by 3:30.  We went back to the main tent and sat down to wait for seal-feeding time.

Jim took this picture of Hope and a starfish...

This is Hope's photo of a rare blue lobster...

This is Anna's shot of an anemone...


We staked out a space beside the fence just before 4.  Finally, two female attendants came out with plastic dishpans filled with herring.  Each had a bright blue rubber glove.  One of the women proceeded to give us background information about the two seals:  They were father and son: Loki was 17 years old, and Snorkel was 5 years old.  The son did tricks (Dad was learning by watching the son).  The attendant explained that the tricks were to help prevent boredom (for the seals).  “We don’t want bored seals!”  The crowd (which was filled with bored toddlers) was getting restless…the woman asked if anyone had any questions.  I listened in amusement as I overheard the young mother next to me tell her 5-year-old to put her hand down: “Just let them feed them!” she hissed, holding her restless 2-year-old.

The attendants started throwing individual fish either into the tank, or up on the sidewalk next to the pool.  Anna, Jim and Hope snapped hundreds of photos as Snorkel performed some cute tricks, including “kissing” the attendant on command (she made a comment about her husband wondering why she smelled like fish when she came home…ewww!).  It was fun to watch – harbour seals are very dog-like in their facial features – they’re called “seadogs.”  In fact, our Saint John hockey team is called the Saint John Seadogs.  Hope was annoyed because she was standing beside a kid who kept yelling, “I want to see their whole body!” over and over again.  After the show was over, the little girl beside me finally got to ask her question…I forget what it was now.  Everybody headed for their cars (except Hope, who headed for the port-a-potties – she loves those – NOT!).

Anna took this picture of Snorkel...

The senior attendant with Snorkel...photo taken by Jim...

A full-body shot of one of the seals...these guys are about 300 lbs...photo by Anna...

This seagull was hanging around hoping for a handout...apparently seagulls are one of seal's menu choices too...

Back in the van, Anna mentioned that she wanted to go into St. Andrews to see if the candy store was open…it had been closed in the spring when we were down in St. Stephen for Brianna’s cheerleading competition (https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/adventures-of-a-reluctant-cheer-mom-part-2/).  Kandy Land was open this time…I was happy to find Milk Duds (I’ve never paid $2.29 for a box, though!).  Jim and Anna got surprise bags, and Hope filled a tube with banana-flavoured powdered sugar (it had a name we can’t remember, came from a big machine, and cost $1.99 – it must have been good!).

We hit the highway, bound for Pennfield again.  Jim and his friend, Scott, had discovered a good Chinese restaurant there right next to McKay’s:  It was called (are you ready for this?) Highway’s Good Wok.  I don’t make this stuff up!  We all ate until we were about to burst.  Jim ordered Curried Chicken and Vegetables, and Hope kept edging away…she doesn’t like the smell of curry.  I traded her eggroll for my garlic spareribs – the eggrolls were amazing!  I had chicken chow mein and sweet and sour chicken balls too.  Anna had beef and broccoli, chicken balls, and garlic chicken wings.  Everybody had fried rice, which was also very good – not too greasy.  While Hope and I made a pit stop, Jim and Anna paid the bill and got doggy bags for the rest of their food (Hope and I finished ours!).

We arrived home about 7:30, and I rushed out to the garden to pick tomatoes.  I needed two mixing bowls to hold them all!  The yellow light bulb tomatoes were really starting to come now (https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/blackberry-cobbler-and-light-bulb-tomatoes/) …I even found “regular” tomotoes (I think they were Early Latahs) which had grown as Siamese twins…The beans will have to be picked tonight…there was no light left last night!

Tomato Siamese Twins...photo by Anna...

While a load of laundry went through, Jim and I watched another episode of “Eureka”…despite it being sci-fi, I’m really starting to like that show (not to mention that the star, Colin Ferguson, is Canadian, and very hot!).  It’s been on since 2006, but I’d never seen it until Jim found out about it from Scott.  It is filmed mostly on location in British Columbia.  The writing is pretty sharp, and it’s funny too!

Colin Ferguson in his "Sheriff Jack Carter" uniform...what's not to like?

So that was my last Sunday of the summer…sigh…


Filed under family, food, gardening, satire, tourism, travel

Of Broccoli, Baby Showers, Book Sales, and Back-To-School Shopping…

1. Broccoli. On Saturday night, I harvested our very first broccoli from the garden.  I made a tasty broccoli/cheese frittata with it for supper, along with a salad made with our lettuce and tomatoes, and cucumbers (from the store).

Fresh Organic Broccoli...

Broccoli/Cheese Frittata...

Saturday's tomato harvest before I cut them up for salad...

Other firsts from the garden this weekend were carrot and rutabaga…we had them tonight.  I love rutabaga – it’s a mild flavour, especially good with butter and salt and pepper…it’s my new favourite vegetable.

Our first Scarlet Nantes carrot...

This Gilfeather rutabaga tasted a lot better than it looks!

2. Baby Shower.  On Sunday, the girls and I went to my oldest daughter’s best friend’s baby shower.  One of the games Kaylee came up with for her friend’s shower was melting chocolate bars in the microwave, and then inserting them into numbered disposable diapers.  The shower guests were then asked to pass them around, examine them, smell them, and even taste them (!) and try to determine which chocolate bar was in each diaper…I don’t think I’ll be eating “Crispy Crunch” again any time soon…

My middle daughter, Anna, won that game, and also two other prizes because she got the “marked” plate and the marked cup!  The macaroni salad she and Hope made got rave reviews too!

3. Book sales.  This morning when I got to the store, I totalled up my haul from the Sussex Flea Market – I spent $53 Canadian, and got just over $575 U.S. worth of books.  I went to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Book Sale at Brunswick Square today, and spent $25 Canadian, and came away with almost $340 U.S. in treasures (and I saw “Witchy-Poo” before she saw me, and escaped!).  I put $100 on one book I bought – if it had the Andy Warhol-designed dustjacket, it would have been worth at least $250! 

The books continue to come into the store faster than we can get to them…four more banana boxes came in while I was at the book sale this morning (these were added to the nine boxes we already had from last week).  I jokingly complained to the guy that brought the four boxes that I’d just stopped having to do hurdles to get to my desk (Dad took the extra books to our new bigger storage space before the Open House).  I also have four boxes of books to photograph for the Internet…coming back from vacation is tough!

4. Back to School Shopping.  This afternoon, Anna and I went to the mall to pick up some school supplies (and a new pair of flats for her).  Hope skipped the trip, preferring to hang out with her friend.  Our bus ride to the mall was not fun: some teenager sat behind us playing his music without headphones, and singing badly along with it (the same song, over and over).  In between, he was on his phone, telling everybody who would listen about getting beaten up last night:  “They cracked my head open, I got a concussion, the inside of my mouth is all messed up, and I’ve got four bruised ribs,” he bragged.  I was ready to add to his injuries by the time I’d heard the story for the third time!

We got to the mall, and Anna found a pair of shoes (not flats) that she liked and that fit within the first half hour (it’s a miracle!).  We also bought Hope a Justin Bieber T-shirt that Anna claimed she would “love” (when Hope opened the bag, she announced it was just like the one she just bought, except for the colour – FAIL!).  We went to Zellers for school supplies…the first thing we saw was lined paper for $2.99 for 400 sheets.  That sounded pretty good to me…I loaded four packs into the cart (one for each kid).  We picked up mechanical pencils, whiteout, highlighters, Sharpies, dividers, and some notebooks, and then continued to another section of the store where signs told us there were more school supplies.  That’s where I spotted the display of lined paper that was $.39 for 150 sheets.  I ditched the other paper (I admit that I just put it with the cheap paper instead of where it was!), and picked up a dozen of the smaller packs (three for each kid).  Anna picked out expensive scissors, impossibly-priced erasers (“But they’re so cute, Mom!”), and a zebra-print pencil case that cost $6!  We found a couple of binders for Hope (Anna still had hers from last year)…they were purple, so I figured she would like them (wrong again! – “Mom, I can’t have hard binders!”).  We managed to tick off almost everything on the list except the 10 duotangs that Hope needed, and the bag that Anna wanted (none of them was the “right size,” which translated means “not expensive enough”).  I also picked up some Charmin toilet paper on sale (I’m usually not a brand-name girl, but Charmin rocks), some red Twizzlers (one of my favourite snacks) and a couple of things for Elise’s first birthday next month…

We went to the checkout, and emptied our cart…I had predicted it would be $150, and Anna said $200…we were both wrong: it was only $119!  The next shopping trip will be with Hope to get her pants and shoes for gym…


Filed under books, cooking, family, food, gardening, rants, shopping

Hammond River Harvest…

I spent most of yesterday in my garden…it seems the work never ends!  I pulled out some of the lettuce greens that had gone to seed, picked beans, blueberries, black raspberries, zucchini, swiss chard, beet greens, and more lettuce for supper.  I also harvested my first yellow cherry tomatoes!

This yellow cherry tomato was about 1 1/4" in diameter, sweet and mild!

This is the first red tomato to begin ripening...it's Scotia Red, I think...

Tonight, I will make chocolate zucchini bread with the zucchini I picked.  All the squash and pumpkins are doing amazingly well.

Two Red Kuri squash, about 7" in diameter...

Uncle David's Dakota Dessert Squash, about 6" diameter - should be ready to harvest in a few days...

There are at least three pumpkins the size of a basketball already...

This little pumpkin is growing on the fence, about two feet off the ground...not sure how long it will stay up there!

The Autumn Beauty sunflowers have surpassed the height given on the package by several feet…it said they were 5′ high, and many of mine are 8′.  This is with no fertilizer whatsoever…I wonder how big they’d be if I’d put manure in the soil?

My "Wall of Sunflowers"...

I’m really excited that my first broccoli head is nearly ready to harvest…I’m trying to hold off until it’s a little bigger.

My first broccoli head...

Also imminent is the harvest of the first rutabaga.

This is Gilfeather rutabaga, named for John Gilfeather, a bachelor farmer from Vermont...it's about 4" in diameter...

I still have a little while to wait on the cauliflower and the purple Brussels sprouts.

You can see a head forming in the center of this cauliflower...

This Purple Brussels Sprout plant is about two feet high, but still no signs of sprouts!

My shell beans are coming along well too.

These are Italian Borlotti beans...

These are called Orca or Yin Yang beans...the seeds are black and white...

I will harvest these later in the fall when they have dried, and then use them for chili and other soups.

I’m off to make tonight’s supper – corn on the cob (from the store), and chicken thighs, with green beans from the garden.


Filed under food, gardening