Monday, January 31, 2011

Something Fishy

Today we headed into town for our weekly round of shopping. Lots of food shopping, including a stop at T&T, an Asian grocery store. It was so interesting, with lots of different foods - sauces, noodles, dried mushrooms, dried fish (picked up a little pack for dog treats), rices, meats (the dogs scored some pork neck at $0.69lb), tanks of fish (the American eels and huge king crab caught my eye), frozen fishes (got a pack of frozen fish for the dogs for $2.99 for almost 1kg), and the list goes on. We will definitely be going back, next time though we'll meet my parents there and have some lunch in the little restaurant. Plus we hit up the fabric store for some more piping filler and Michaels (a craft store) for some more yarn. My projects are moving ahead and I'm actually going through materials. I have 14 granny squares now, one or two that actually look decent.

Idle pleasures today: This morning the sun was shining in such a way that the steam from my coffee was highlighted, down to the droplet of moisture. The cool morning air of the house caused rivulets and eddies, swirling the steam around. Lame I know... Another pleasure, stopping at the abattoir and getting a big bag of beef neck bones for just $5.00. Better still, when I opened them up at home and saw how meaty they are I was especially pleased, the dogs are going to love them. Here's another one - coming out of a dark store into the bright winter sunshine - it was just so nice, even though the high was only -16C.

Sometimes Spike is a bit of a hoodlum
(young ruffian)
Today's word of the day is hoodlum (HOOD-lum noun 1: thug; especially : a violent criminal ; 2: a young ruffian). The civil unrest in Egypt has brought out all the hoodlums from the woodwork. It seems that they would be having peaceful demonstrations and concourse if it weren't for the looters and other criminals that are taking advantage of the situation. Many countries are afraid that the extreme fundamentlists will find a way to takeover - lets hope that the common man's rights and desires prevail. We are so lucky to live in a peaceful, democratic country.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Coiffing the Poodles

one done, one to go
Today is a poodle clipping day, no fun for dogs (or me for that matter). Its been ages since their last hair cut, and I think I left Spike's body last time so he's especially furry. He won't be as warm, but hopefully he won't collect as much snow either. All this getting wet is likely to make him mat, which we don't want. There's something to be said for wash & wear dogs like Kabira.

After the dogs were naked we went outside, just as the sun came out - it was a truely beautiful winter day. The snow was just dazzling in the sunlight. It wasn't too cold either. The dogs had a blast and their lack of fur didn't slow them down in the snow one bit.

When we got back inside we were both famished as we had skipped breakfast - time for lunch. I had some spinach in the fridge, leftover from the party last weekend, so got on the internet and googled "spinach egg" and came up with this, a spinach, mushroom and goat cheese fritatta - perfect as I also had some mushrooms to use up. It was easy and delicious and made enough leftovers for our breakfast tomorrow. For camping I'll just lightly scramble it or I could broil in the camper oven to finish it off.

Today's word of the day is urbane (er-BAYN adj : notably polite or polished in manner). Neither Carm nor I would normally be considered urbane as neither of us is really that polished. Maybe if you dress us up in suits we might be closer. We both try to be polite, although I think I'm better at it than Carm. Maybe you could consider us urbanish, which as a word looks a bit like (you) u r (are) banished, which is maybe what polite society would like to do to us!

Today's Inspiration Peak:
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900
Irish Author, Poet and Playwright
Idle pleasure today was going outside just as the sun came out. It was beautiful, especially since it snowed again last night. My other pleasures: getting into freshly washed flannel sheets ; seeing a new pink geranium bloom ; testing out a new recipe and having it turn out ; sweeping up the last of the poodle hair and knowing that the job is done for another 6 weeks.

Crispy Potato Chicken

Last night I made Crispy Potato Chicken, another new recipe from "Lighthearted Everyday Cooking" by Bonnie Stern. It was really tasty and easy to make. Carm rated it a 4 out of 5 stars. It was very tasty and the chicken was perfectly cooked. We served it with steamed green beans tossed with garlic sauted in olive oil and a heaping teaspoon of chinese chili sauce. I used boneless, skinless breasts instead of bone-in and sort of flattened them on the baking sheet. 1 medium potato per chicken breast was about right.

Jane Frieman's Crispy Potato Chicken
Yields: 4 Servings

1 1/3 cups Potato shredded, peeled (8oz)
3 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 large clove Garlic minced
4 Skinless chicken breasts 2lb
1 1/2 teaspoon Olive oil
Fresh parsley or coriander or chives minced

1. Place potatoes in a bowl of ice water; let stand 5 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, combine mustard and garlic. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Spread mustard mixture evenly over meaty side of chicken breasts; place bone-side down in foil-lined baking pan.
3. Drain potato; pat dry with paper towel. In bowl, toss potato with olive oil, mixing well. Evenly spread about 1/3 cup pototo shreds over each breast to form a skin. Sprinkle lightly with pepper.
4. Bake in 425F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside and potato is golden. (if potatoes are not browning, broil for about 5 minutes or until golden, watching closely.) Sprinkle with chopped herbs to taste. Serve immediately.

Lighthearted Everyday Cooking
Cuisine :
Main Ingredient : Chicken

for a crisp golden potato topping, but sure to pat the potato shreds as dry as possible. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which I flattened out on the baking tray instead of bone-in - cooked for 30 min. I used 1 medium potato per breast. It was perfectly cooked, moist and tasty.  I don't think its right for the camper as the grated potato made a big mess. Not too much mess for home though.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wetwood not Hardwood

It was snowy for most of the day, perfect for staying inside. The sun did peak out for a little while so out we went to play in the snow. The snow in the field is now over Spike's back - he really has to work hard to plow his way through it, but that doesn't stop him from chasing snowballs. Even Bella was having to work. Kabira didn't come out to the field, I don't think she likes the cold snow against her mostly bare belly (and who can blame her). Spike and Bella however had a blast in the fresh snow, they are like two little kids jumping and running and making snow angels. Once they were back in the house they left lakes of water on the floor. Spike still had huge snowballs stuck between his legs and under his arms - he was so miserable I had to lie him on his back and pick the ice out bit by bit. Then he crashed out for the rest of the day.

Last night we watched "Martin Clunes A Man and His Dog" and since it had dogs in it Bella watched the whole thing with us. She loves any TV with dogs and will sit and watch an entire hour long program, even keeping her attention through commercials. She know's the music for the "Dog Whisperer" and comes running at the first few notes. We have to sometimes keep her from jumping up to the TV, but mostly she just watches intently. She especially loves Agility, maybe because she's done some herself. I wish I knew what she was seeing and her intrpretation of it. The other dogs will watch a bit, but not with the same attention span.

I got some more sewing projects done today and guess what - ZERO seam ripper! I did one more pillow and the throw cloth that I have on the back of the loveseat. Since Spike spends so much time there I've had a towel across the back cause easier to wash a towel than the whole cover. Now the throw is coordinated with the rest of the fabrics. I'm a coordinating fiend these days! Once I got the throw and the new pillow done I set them out on the loveseat - it seemed to me that it needed just one more fabric to finish the look and wouldn't you know it the pillows that I made for the camper look just right. Its funny how all these fabrics purchased at different times have fit together. They have one unifying thing - color - there's a few blues that are in all of them. I guess I know what my favorite color is (other than pink of course).

Today's word of the day is euphoria (yoo-FOR-ee-uh noun : a feeling of well-being or elation). I could say that I've been euphoric since retiring as I've felt very good and have had a feeling of WOW, this is just too good to be true. However, euphoria is a word often used to describe the hypo-mania associated with bipolar, and since I don't feel hypo-manic at all, and instead feel very centered and normal, I will refrain from using that word to describe my own feelings. Retirement is good, I haven't had this length of wellness for years ;-)

What was my pleasure today... it could have been the fluffy white snow puffing up at every step ; or maybe it was having leftovers for lunch and thinking that I was sick of them until I took my first bite and I wasn't sick of them after all, it still tasted good ; or maybe it was taking still warm sheets out of the dryer and holding them in my cold arms ; for sure it was going outside just after the sun came out and watching the dogs leap and play in the fresh snow ; certainly it was laying out all my recent sewing projects and being happy with the results ; or maybe it was thinking about the word of the day and knowing that it wouldn't describe me right now. I guess its hard to choose today!

It's gotta be down there somewhere

Friday, January 28, 2011

A No Sew Zone

Today's word of the day is tog (TAHG verb : to dress especially in fine clothing -- usually used with up or out). This almost immediately brought to mind a dress that I bought years ago. I was going to my Aunt's wedding in Medicine Hat Alberta and needed a nice dress. As I was walking through the shopping mall I spotted this gorgeous coral sequin dress. I immediately fell in love - I had to have that dress. The last few weddings that I had been to were big Italian weddings where this dress would have been totally in fitting with everyone else. Medicine Hat on the other hand... lets just say that I was togged out way beyond what was normal for there. It was more than a little embarrassing. I wore that dress one more time on that trip, in the restaurant at Chateau Lake Louise. Somehow it seemed more fitting there - my dress just paled against the grand setting. I still have that dress and maybe, just maybe I'll be that size again so I can wear it one more time.

I spent more time with the sewing machine and seam ripper again today. I was making a cushion cover for a bed size pillow (for the window seat). It has a few different fabrics and piping. I may not be cut out for sewing - it's just too hard - I'm pretty sure Grace learned a few bad words... Part way through I put the partially completed cover over a pillow and asked for Carm's feedback - silence. Oh boy - how about the piping? "the piping is great...". He did redeem himself after I was all finished and had the cover properly stuffed with a pillow. Then he went on about how nice it was and what a great job - husbands are sometimes good for making you think you are good at something even when you aren't.

I wish I would have put piping on the loveseat cover as well...
Almost forgot to mention my pleasure for today - its probably not hard to guess though - today I celebrated each time I did a row of sewing without having to rip it out! I did a couple of boneheads early in the day so every successful stitch after that was good/excellent/hurray I did it/whew!

Beef & Broccoli with Baked Noodle Cake

Last night we made Beef & Broccoli with Baked Noodle Cake. It was good, but not outstanding, however it was easy to make and can also be done on the camper so its a keeper. I didn't do the baked noodle cake, it just seems so weird, but I'll try it next time I make it. I also used pork as I had some lean pork roast meat that I had picked up cheap for the dogs. I think I'll throw in some chinese chili sauce the next time to give it a bit of heat. I made 1/2 the recipe in some parts (pork & broccoli), but should have also reduced the amount of sauce, it was just too much. Mine didn't look anything like the photo as mine had way too much dark sauce (camera batteries were dead).

The recipe is from More Heartsmart Cooking with Bonnie Stern, so its good on a diet.

Beef & Broccoli with Baked Noodle Cake

You can use lamb, pork or chicken instead of beef, and you can use peppers, beans, celery or chinese greens in place of the broccoli.
Yields: 4 Servings

1/2 pound Angel Hair pasta or thin chinese egg noodles or spaghetti
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
3/4 pound Flank steak

1 tablespoon Soy sauce
1 tablespoon Rice wine
2 tablespoon Water
1 tablespoon Cornstarch

1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
3 cloves Garlic finely chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh ginger peeled, chopped
6 Green onion chopped
1 bunch Broccoli trimmed & cut in 1" pieces (1lb)
1/2 cup Water

1 cup Chicken stock
2 tablespoon Oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Soy sauce
1 tablespoon Rice wine
2 tablespoon Cornstarch


1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Add noodles and cook until tender. Drain well and toss with sesame oil. Place noodles in lightly oiled 9" cake or pie pan.

2. Meanwhile, cut flank steak on diagonal, against grain, into thin slices (for easier slicing, freeze the meat for 20 minutes first).

3. To prepare marinade, in large bowl, combine soy sauce, rice wine, water and cornstarch. Add beef and marinade for 20 minutes at room tempreture.

4. Bake noodle cake in preheated 400F oven for 10 minutes. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes until slightly browned and crisp.

5. Meanwhile, to cook beef and broccoli, heat oil in wok or non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until just coloured but not cooked through. Remove from pan and reserve.

6. Return pan to heat. Add garlic, ginger and green onions. Cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add broccoli and water. Bring to boil, cover and cook for 3 minutes, or until broccoli is tender-crisp.

7. Meanwhile, to make sauce, combine stock, oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch. Add to broccoli and bring to boil. Add meat and combine well.

8. Slide baked noodle cake out onto large platter. Spoon beef, broccoli and sauce over top.

 Source: More Heartsmart Cooking by Bonnie Stern

Cuisine :   Asian    
 Main Ingredient :   Beef, Broccoli

Cook chicken or pork through. For camping serve over rice or unbaked noodles.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No Worries

It's warmer today with a high of -3 C. It was a nice day for a longer walk although it was warmer so the dogs turned into snowballs. Then after talking to my sister in NZ for an hour it was time for some Kinect play. It was just me as Carm had errands to run (and claims a sore knee) - I'll have a leg up when we next compete!

Today's word of the day is censure (SEN-sher verb : to find fault with and criticize as blameworthy). Its important not to censure people who do things differently. When you eat, are you a mixer or do you keep everything separate. Do you mix multiple things on one fork full or are you careful to take only one item at a time? I'm a mixer - almost every bite has a bit of a couple of things, my plate ends up with things mixed and looks quite chaotic. Carm on the other hand keeps everything neatly apart and only takes one thing on his fork at the same time. I don't censure him just because he's different though (I just laugh at him).

Spike imitating a snowball

Today's inspiration - I thought it was a good one:
If a problem is fixable,
if a situation is such that you can do something about it,
then there is no need to worry.
If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.
There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.
Tenzin Gyatso
14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
the blue side is less BLUE in real life
Today I spent the afternoon with my sewing machine... and a seam ripper... Persistence did prevail and I eventually got the seat cushion for the loveseat done. I decided to sew my own rather than rely on the one that came with the slipcover as it was too delicate and was already getting pilled. Plus the fabrics coordinate with the other cushions I'm going to make. It turned out looking a little funny and I realized once it was done that I should have used piping, but I've never done a box cushion so adding the piping on top of things would make it even more complicated (and possibly even more seam ripping). The underside is a heavy denim so I can flip it over for muddy spring. All in all I'm pretty happy with it and now I feel inspired to do the rest of the living room cushions.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bathetic Babble

Grace playing with her toys
I forgot to post my idle pleasure yesterday - coming in from an afternoon out, starving, and munching on some sweet, salty beer nuts that were leftover from the party. They are so yummy, sweet and salty at the same time.

Here's another notable pleasure from yesterday - as we were driving into town there's a stretch of road that has a lot of scrubby bushes and some taller trees. Its usually not particularly attractive, but yesterday the light was just right to highlight the deep red mahogany color of the bushes against the grey trunks of the trees. It was very pleasing to the eye.

And yet one more, not quite an idle pleasure, but something that gave a good feeling non-the-less - I was waiting in the crowded doctor's office, expecting a long wait, when just 10 minutes past my appointment time I was called into the office. Excellent :-)

Today's pleasure - eating my homemade bread straight from the toaster with a little butter. The toast is warm and slightly crunchy, with a slight salty taste from the butter. Add to that the pleasure of knowing that the bread is made my my own hands and you've got a satisfying moment. (do you notice a trend with the eating pleasures - I'd better start loving a salad or I'll be in big (no pun intended - okay, yes there is) trouble!).

The speech and blog that I posted about yesterday made me realize that I have to have better awareness and celebrate all these little moments that bring pleasure. I'm going to try - no, not try, I AM going to be better at that - maybe being in the habit of noticing will help to divert any depressions that may otherwise come my way. They aren't all idle pleasures, as per the title of my blog, however, I find many of my daily pleasures are not based on idleness (although some certainly are), but on my accomplishments (however small), and my experiences with the world around me.
Love yourself first
and everything else falls into line.
You really have to love yourself
to get anything done in this world.
Lucille Ball, 1911-1989
American Actress and Comedienne
Today's word of the day is bathetic (buh-THET-ik adjective : characterized by triteness or sentimentalism). Maybe the writing in this post has become bathetic as I try to incorporate more positive thinking into my life. This morning I sat down to my computer to get a start on writing this, I had nothing to say, and then blurp it was there.

I added a new blog to my list - - its a fun site that re-purposes Ikea stuff into other things. Handy for around the house or camper. A lot of Ikea stuff is of slightly smaller dimension which makes them perfect for the camper. I replaced the pedestal table that came with our camper with a smaller, 4-legged, table from Ikea. The smaller size frees up more room (at a premium in the camper) and it expands to seat 4 when needed, The space beneath it, which is freed up by having 4 legs instead of a pedestal, fits Kabira's bed perfectly - one less dog underfoot!

And finally, I'd like to welcome my new follower - Serenata - she's a kiwi that lives both in Britan and NZ. She's a musician whose also into sewing, cooking, and all those fun retro things. She also has a horse :-) And who knows, the world is so small maybe she'll run into Kirsten while she's in NZ!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Up the Mast

We woke up to a snowy day, which was a big drag as we had to go into Ottawa this afternoon for a doctor's appointment. Oh well, at least we didn't have to brave the morning rush hour as well - there are some advantages to retirement.

The word of the day today - lobscouse (LAHB-skouss noun : a sailor's dish of stewed or baked meat with vegetables and hardtack). Does a bowl of chili and a homemade biscuit count. Otherwise, since I'm not feeding any sailor's these days, we'll have to go back in time to when I was a teenager and my parents had a sailboat. The whole family used to spend weeks at a time sailing around the 1000 Islands and camping at the designated park islands. It was a fun carefree way to spend a summer. Lots of swimming, reading, sailing, and meeting new people. Sometimes we'd meet some musical people and stay up late playing instruments, other times just talking and laughing.  There may have only been a few summers spent this way but they stand out as special years. Mom would always keep a can of SPAM and some crackers on hand in case we were having too much fun to get to the mainland and a grocery store. She'd cut it into slices and pan-fry it till it was warm - I think you could call it a lobscouse meal.

One time on our summer vacation, the jib halyard came undone and raced to the top of the mast (a halyard is the wire that pulls the sail to the top of the mast). There was only one way to get it back - someone had to go to the top of the mast and grab it. It was decided that I was the perfect one to risk life and limb as I was just the right teenage size and age (after all who would miss a miserable teenager if she fell to her death!). So we gathered up the jib to get it out of the way, put down the mainsail to free up its halyard, dug out the bosun's chair (a little - and I mean little sling to sit on) and hooked it onto the mainsail halyard. I hung on tight and Dad winched me up the mast. Did I mention that I'm afraid of heights? We had to keep the boat motoring to keep it more stable, but unfortunately we were also at one of the most narrow channels on a major shipping route. And yes, a big tanker did come by... only when you are at the top of a mast, hanging on for dear life, do you realize just how big a wake a tanker makes, and just how much a little sailboat tosses around, mast swinging wildly. There may be big dents in the mast from where I held on so tight but I survived, got the other halyard down and even took a few photos (can you believe they made me take a camera with me)!

Neil Pasricha: The 3 A's of awesome | Video on

Carm got sent an online video with a guy who started a website: . The video is an inspirational talk about having a good attitude, being aware, and being authentic. Its probably one of the best motivational speeches that I've heard. Its long, but certainly worth listening to.

His blog, 1000 Awesomethings is a much better version of my idle pleasures, here's some examples of his awesome things:
#323 The sound of a freshly cracked egg hitting a hot frying pan ;
#325 Jumping through the sprinkler in your bathing suit ;
#335 Catching someone you love admiring you from across the room.

Really good stuff! He notes fleeting great moments that we may just notice in passing (or not pay attention to at all) but don't stop to savor. This blog is now on my must read list.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Connect the Kinect

Last night it got down to -28C - burr burr burr. That's one night that I didn't miss going out to feed the horses. Although there is something beautiful about the rawness of nature and the crisp, clearness of the sky on a cold night. The sky would be ablaze with stars, almost as if they were magnified by the coldness of the air. The sound of our boots on the snow, the horses munching and the fluffy warmness of their coats enhanced the experience of the brutal night. The horses never seemed to mind the cold, they didn't seem to mind the icicles hanging from their noses - as long as there was no wind. Of course they loved the extra hay to help them stay warm - the fjords lived to eat! And since they are a nordic breed they grew hair coats to match the season. I do miss them.

Today's word of the day is telegenic (tel-uh-JEN-ik adjective : well-suited to the medium of television; especially : having an appearance and manner that are markedly attractive to television viewers). I've only known one TV personality - Stephanie Beaumont. She is a good friend of my sister's from university. Stephanie hosted a segment on the A channel in Ottawa and roomed with my parents while she was here. Now she's back out east and is a co-host of Breakfast Television on A-Atlantic and also hosts , a website that promotes the Atlantic provinces. She is just a wee thing but her bubbly, lovely personality fills a room. She is most certainly telegenic.

This afternoon a friend that I haven't seen for ages was over for a tea. It was nice to catch up with her and find out what's going on with their family. Their oldest girl just turned 18 - it seems like just yesterday that Margot was pregnant with her. How time flies!

Then the rest of the afternoon was spent setting up the new pvr and yes, finally, the kinect. We spent a little while playing some adventure games that came with it, surprisingly getting a bit hot and sweaty in the process. That's the whole idea though isn't it. I think we will have fun with this!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


The word today is adversary (AD-ver-sair-ee noun : one that contends with, opposes, or resists : enemy). My adversary today is fatigue, a slight queasy stomach which was difficult to overcome (but not impossible - a cup of coffee and some leftover salmon/cream cheese roll did the trick). Too late a night and perhaps one glass two many of wine.

Last night turned out pretty well. We had a pretty good turnout (32) - not the biggest party ever, but a good size to ease back into the entertaining groove. It was great to see people that we haven't seen for a while, however a party setting is not ideal for having a good conversation - too many people and too much to do. We have tons of leftovers - I can't believe that the nacho chips didn't get all eaten - I think maybe we got the hot salsa instead of the mild. We have lots of spreads and pita leftover - they'll be good for lunches so I'll freeze some of them in little tubs. The biggest hit - hot Italian sausage and the Italian meatballs. The chili is almost all gone, as is the Lentil Curry with Squash and Cashews (recipe in another post).

After the cleanup (all those wine glasses!) we just relaxed, read, napped and rested our weary legs for the rest of the day. Even the dogs are bagged from the late night and from being admired by all those people. Spike was so excited and wiggled his way around the room saying hi to everyone. He was especially excited to see Jo Ellen - one of his favorite friends from his working days. Even Kabira did well with all the people and she's quite shy.

My idle pleasure today - the most notable was a hot bubble bath in the middle of the afternoon with the sun streaming into the tub. Oh my aching muscles... I really am getting old!

Lentil Curry with Squash and Cashews

Yields: 6 Servings


2 teaspoon Olive oil
1 medium Onion chopped
2 cloves Garlic minced
2 tablespoon Flour
1 tablespoon Curry powder
1 tablespoon Ginger root grated
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Vegetable broth (I use chicken stock)
1 cup Water or apple juice (I use water or more chicken stock)
1 cup Dried lentils picked over and rinsed
2 cups Butternut squash peeled and chopped
1 large Potato (I don't bother with this)
6 cups Fresh spinach leaves washed and trimmed
1/2 cup Cashews (salted or unsalted)

1. In a skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until softened and translucent. Stir in flour, curry, ginger root, cumin, fennel seeds and salt; mix well.

2. Stir in stock and water; bring to a boil, scraping up bits from the bottom of skillet. Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Add lentils, squash and potato; stir to combine. cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

3. Add spinach leaves; stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for another 15 minutes or until leaves have wilted. Spoon into individual bowls and sprinkle with cashews.

This recipe published with BigOven, and can be imported instantly by BigOven users viewing this page. Download your free trial at

Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes

Cuisine : Indian
Main Ingredient : Beans

I don't use the potato. I used green beans instead of spinach as they will hold up better when curry has to sit for a while. I'll try spinach when I know we'll be eating it soon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Party Time

Today will be a really short post as we are rushing around getting ready for our party. There were lists and schedules to be typed, dips to be made, hot nibbles to be cooked, curry dish to make, chili to cook, serving dishes to be found, wine glasses to be washed, dogs to be brushed, house to be cleaned and the list goes on. I feel pretty relaxed about the whole thing though - everything is well in hand as we kept the food a bit simpler than usual and Carm is a most excellent helper/partner/sous chef.

Another good inspiration:
The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything.
They just make the best of everything.
Author Unknown
Today's word of the day is imbue (im-BYOO verb 1: to tinge or dye deeply ; 2: endow). We are hoping to imbue this evening with a feeling of fellowship and good cheer. (lame, I know).

And that's that for today!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Shine Out of Your Face

I loved this inspiration:
You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth
and a double chin and stick-out teeth,
but if you have good thoughts
they will shine out of your face
like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
Roald Dahl, 1916-1990
The word of the day today is cavalier (kav-uh-LEER adjective 1: debonair ; 2: marked by or given to offhand and often disdainful dismissal of important matters). This one is easy. The HR personnel at my old place of work has a cavalier attitude about my last paycheque. I wonder if they would be so cavalier if it was their own paycheque that someone forgot to mail them...

Last night we skipped the healthy made at home supper and went out to Lucky 7, a local sports bar, for a hamburger and fries. Ugh. After all was said and done I had wished we stayed home and tried the Curried Pumpkin Soup that I saw a recipe for on another blog. Live and learn. I'll do the soup on Sunday or Monday and serve it with homemade biscuits.

Xbox 360 4GB Console with KinectIt was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a drive into town for some groceries and yes, finally, xbox! We got everything we need for our party tomorrow night - lots of food, and the plates and bowls to serve it all with. Then we headed over to Future Shop. They finally had the xbox kinect bundle but no e-reader cover yet. We'll wait to set it up till Sunday as tomorrow we'll be busy getting ready for our party. We used to have huge parties once or twice a year with sometimes up to 75 people but we haven't had a proper party for several years. Retirement is good for the social life!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Harmonious Harmonica

The word today is ninja (NIN-juh noun : a person trained in ancient Japanese martial arts and employed especially for espionage and assassinations). I just can't think of how this might work into my life. I don't watch martial arts movies (although Carm does on occasion). I have never taken any martial arts (although Carm took ju jitsu years ago but he hardly became a ninja). I don't know anyone who's studied martial arts to that level (neither does Carm). So that's that!

Our house cleaner came in today for perhaps the last time. We'll keep her phone number around in case we want to call her in for a one off, but it looks like it will be Carm and I with rags in hand trying to keep the place spic and span (remember that old cleaner - does it still exist?). We've had a cleaner since just after we got married, except for a short period a few years ago when we were between cleaners. It took a large extra task out of the week, which was important as we worked full time and had the parrots for the first number of years and then added the horses when we moved here. We were busy all the time and would have been really stretched if we had to keep the house clean as well. As it was, in our previous house, I spent one hour cleaning parrot cages everyday, and an additional 30 minutes preparing their food. In this house things were easier as the bird room was set up to be hosed, which I did once a week. But then we went and added a bunch of horses, just a different (heavier!) kind of cleaning and feeding. When I think back to how much we got done during those years with the birds and the horses I wonder how we did it.

I started reading "A Place of My Own" by Michael Pollan yesterday. One paragraph really struck me as it put into words my feelings about work and my relationship with my job.
"Oh, it was real work (I guess), but it didn't always feel that way, possibly because there were whole parts of me it failed to address. (Like my body, with the exception of the carpal tunnel in my wrist.) Nor did what I do seem to add much, if anything, to the stock of reality, and though this might be a dated or romantic notion in an age of information, it seemed to me this was something real work should do."
My Dad sent us a link to a guy playing the harmonica at Carnegie Hall. The guy is amazing! Who ever knew a harmonica could sounnd like this!  (the site is like youtube).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

7 Things That You Might Not Know About Me

Today's word of the day is snitty (SNIT-ee adjective - disagreeably ill-tempered). I am happy to say that at the three week mark (today!) there has been no/zero/nada snittiness at our house. We haven't gotten on each other's nerves at all and in fact are getting along even better than usual. Could the reduction of daily stress be making us more agreeable?

Writing down 7 things that you might not know about me was a challenge on another blog. It sounds like fun so I'll give it a shot.

1. I failed English twice when I was in high school. I just couldn't write essays. I hated writing. You couldn't have paid me to write - especially in my spare time - FOR FUN!  I think I got caught up in the neatness of the writing so had to write everything perfectly the first time. This was way before the time of pc's. Now it's a fun challenge that I enjoy very much.

Yes, those are Kabira's legs - she was
just too darn fast for the
2. A few years ago I liked to Tole Paint or Folk Art paint. I haven't done it for years but hope to get back to it now that I have more time. I'm not sure what I'll paint but I'd like to get the camper redecorated to be more of a French country or cottage look so the first pieces will be along those lines.

3. I used to breed parrots. We had Blue & Gold Macaws, African Grey Congos and Timnehs, and Eclectus. I had to re-home the last of the breeder birds a few years ago due to health issues. I miss them like crazy and still can't think (or write) about them without crying.

4. My hair is still its natural colour and does have a few grey strands. They are hard to see though as they blend in with my lighter coloured hair. I did dye my hair twice - the first time by accident. It was after having a perm my friend and I decided to put food colouring in our hair and tell our boyfriends we had dyed it. I put mostly pink with one bit in the back green. Guess what - it didn't wash out and I was left with faintly pink hair for ages. The second time I dyed it red for my 30th birthday. It was fun to be a red head for a while!

5. I once fed a live rat to a boa constrictor. My sister was looking after her boyfriends snake while he went off to college. It was a huge snake that only had to be fed once a month or so. She was too chicken to feed it so I was the sucker. We went off to the pet store and picked out a rat, then I carried the box home in my lap. Before we fed the snake, Kirsten brought it out so we could look at it. As it was slithering over to me I remembered about the rat sitting on my lap so I got out of the way. Kirsten put it back in its terrarium and left the room. I had to stick the rat in with the snake and wait until it caught, killed and started eating the poor meal. The idea was that if the snake got a bad hold, I would somehow release its grasp from the rat and give it another chance to make a better grab. Huh! Thank goodness the snake knew what it was doing and everything went smoothly. I'm not certain that I had what it took to adjust things if it hadn't.

6. I have a tap in the living room for cleaning out Grace's cage area. It feels weird to use a hose in the living room.

7. I used to ride a motorcycle. I bought it when I was 19 years old and kept it for a few years. It was a Suzuki GN400. Just a little guy but oh how I loved it. The first time I sat on it in the show room I knew I had to have it. It was like it was made for me, it just fit like a glove. I loved riding up somewhere, taking off my helmet and shaking out my long blonde hair. Guys eyeballs would pop out. Back then it was the rare time you'd see a woman on a bike as the driver. It was one of the last kick start bikes - it was just so satisfying to start - it felt so motorcycle.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Squash with names of Nuts

Today's word of the day is gloaming (GLOH-ming noun : twilight, dusk). From the window she watched the sun dip behind the horizon. As the day moved into gloaming, before the moon rose, the shrubs outside the window turned from friendly to spooky intruders. The wind howled against the limbs making the bushes groan as they tried to escape from the earth's grasp. She wished for daylight to return. Okay - so I'm not going to be a fiction writer anytime soon - it's fun to play at it though!

Carm was talking investments, dividends, rates of return, etc - I started out listening and then I found myself thinking to myself "I wonder why so many kinds squash have the names of nuts - butternut, acorn, what others are there?"... I kind of wandered off into my own little world. I've got to find myself a book that explains all this stuff and try to get myself interested. After all its our future he's talking about - you'd think I'd pay more attention.

I made another Moroccan style vegetable stew today - lots of chickpeas, zucchini, onion, butternut squash, carrots, green beans, peas. Healthy and low fat. The diet that I follow suggests that we eat at least one cup of legumes a day. So we often have some chickpeas in our salad at lunch and try for a few legume rich suppers a week, last night lentils, tonight chickpeas.

I finished two library books this week: Between, Georgia ; and Drop the Pink Elephant. One fiction, one self-improvement. They were good, but not the greatest, although the Drop the Pink Elephant had good ideas on how to better communicate. I will try to put some to practice. I've read more in the last few weeks than I have for ages! Life is good.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Crochet Two

What a beautiful sunny COLD day! It was just -21 C at 11:00 am and didn't get much warmer than that. A quintessential Canadian winter day. Even Spike didn't want to go for much of a tromp today and ran back to the house at the earliest opportunity.

It seems that Merriam Webster is living in my house as today's word of the day is procrastinate (pruh-KRAS-tuh-nayt verb - 1: to put off intentionally and habitually ; 2: to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done). Wasn't it just yesterday that I talked about the treadmill? Didn't I find a "reason" to avoid it today? Oh dear. I should be more aware of my tendency to procrastinate about the things I don't really want to do and try to overcome it.

This morning I was carrying clean laundry into the bedroom, as I was walking I dropped 3 socks. So I asked Spike to bring them to me in the bedroom. He first brought one and then went back and picked up the other two together. Needless to say he got a big treat for being so helpful and clever! "Bring it" is a very useful command that once its generalized can be used to bring any number of things that you might point to. Although the danger of course is that he'll start bringing things on his own (crochet comes to mind!).

I surfed the internet till I found easy to follow instructions for a Granny Square. This was my goal today and with much trial and redo I managed to get two squares done. I still need practice for sure as the squares are a bit wonky...

my idle pleasure - crocheting in the sun

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gramma's House

still long shadows at 4pm
It started out sunny today - the day held great promise, but by 10 am it had clouded over and was quite gloomy, and then by 1 pm it was sunny again, hurrah.

Today's word of the day is ossify (AH-suh-fye verb - 1: to become or change into bone or bony tissue ; 2: to become or make hardened or set in one's ways). As each day flows into the next we are both slowly ossifying into our morning routine. After letting the dogs out, feeding them and Grace we both turn to our computers with cup of coffee in hand. We rarely deviate from this routine, although I should be adding the dreadmill in there somewhere. It's hard to face before a cup of coffee, and then again worse after as the coffee sloshes about. Next week, vacation is over and no more excuses otherwise I will become totally ossified.

its still Christmas at Gramma's house!
Gramma LOVES Christmas almost as much
as she loves me - woof
We headed into town today, this time to have lunch with my parents. Before we left we racked our brains about what other stops or shopping we could do while we were there but didn't come up with anything since Future Shop still doesn't have the xbox. My brother Graham and his family were also at my parents - it was nice to catch up again so soon after Christmas festivities. Spike came with us - he loves to go to "gramma's house" - he gets quite excited when I ask him if he wants to go. Its good for my niece and nephew too as they don't get any other exposure to dogs and are a bit afraid - Spike is slowly winning them over as he thinks they are wonderful. He got all brushed up to go and is now a fluffy, puffy dog. I don't think his hair has ever been so long but he's totally cute, although maybe a bit warm.

Now for a nice quiet evening tucked cuddled up on our cosy sofa and maybe a glass of wine to warm the innards after all, its a work day tomorrow - oh wait - NOT.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Crochet a Square

It was a snowy day with 10 cm predicted. We were going to go for a little tramp just around the hay field to let the dogs stretch their legs, but changed our minds once we got out there - the wind was coming sideways - Kabira was hunched and shivering - we people were bundled with our hoods up - the wooly poodles were the only ones raring to go. Kabira spent most of the day bundled up in her Mickey Mouse sweatshirt - she asked me this morning for it by sitting in front of me and shivering. As soon as I dug it out she ran over and stuck her head in. She even lifts her legs to help me get the arms onto her. They she prances and stamps around all happy and warm. She always shows her appreciation.

Today's word of the day is charisma (kuh-RIZ-muh noun 1: a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (as a political leader) ; 2: a special magnetic charm or appeal). What public figures come to mind for you. For the first meaning of the word, my first thought was President Obama, his charisma is based on cool, thoughtful wisdom. Politics aside, he has a grace and aura about him that makes him a natural leader. He is someone that I would be proud to represent my country on an international level (we won't talk about our PM though - he might be the anti-charisma). For the second definition though, I'll have to go with Guy Fieri (from Food Networks "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" - we watched it tonight). I would say that he has a special magnetic charm, he is very likeable and engages those around him as he traverses the US in the search for good food. I think charisma is a gift that someone is born with, but perhaps it can be cultivated.

my first square!
The last few days I've been "trying" to learn how to crochet. I found a utube video to get me started, and then from the depths of the basement dragged out a magazine that showed a few stitches. I had learned a tiny bit about 20 years ago, but only made a scarf and a dog coat - I never learned any real stitches or techniques - so its been like learning all over again. As you can see from the photo of the square (yes, square) I'm trying to make I have a lot more practicing to do!

Spike has been watching me with the ball of yarn and was a bit curious, though not overly so. Yesterday afternoon when it was time to make dinner I stuck the yarn and my "work" into a magazine and left it on the coffee table. I went into the kitchen and was in the middle of dinner preparations when I looked up to see that Spike had dropped the ball of yarn at my feet. OH NO I said, expecting to find a huge trail of yarn over the whole house, but no, just around the corner was the end with my "square" basically unharmed (as if you'd be able to tell). We had a good laugh and thought Spike very helpful, and a little bit naughty.

Tonight I made "Penne with Roasted Eggplant and Wild Mushrooms". It is not on the healthy diet plan, but one night should be fine. I didn't have wild mushrooms but instead used a combination of dried porcini, baby bella's, and portabellos. The recipe also called for 1 cup of ricotta cheese but I just used 1/2 that to keep the calories down. I don't think it suffered from the change, in fact it was fabulous! Then to make it a real night off the diet we had apple crisp (which isn't really that bad as I don't use the full amount of sugar and use double the rolled-oats). Our stomachs were FULL.

Friday, January 14, 2011

House of the Rising in the Sun

its a very sticky dough
This morning I made bread from my own recipe (it didn't literally rise in the sun, but the sun warmed the house where the bread was rising, hence the post title - its a stretch I know!). This bread is about as healthy as bread goes - here's the ingredients:
 whole wheat flour; Bran ; Cornmeal ; Yeast ; Molasses ; Olive oil ; Water ; Salt ; Eggs; Oatmeal ; Ground flax ; Sunflower seeds ; Seasame seeds (I didn't have the last 2 ingredients so used chopped walnuts - a good source of omega 3's)

Its a heavy, grainy bread that tastes good fresh or toasted. You wouldn't like it if you just liked processed white breads. We  find it is great for sandwiches and is fantastic with stews. We'll have it tonight with green beans and mushrooms sauteed and then tossed with lentils cooked with sage, paprika, garlic and onions. Simple but healthy. Lucky for me Carm loves these types of meals.

fresh out of the oven with butter and proscuitto - yum

Today's word of the day is jubilate (JOO-buh-layt verb : rejoice). I can think of many reasons to jubilate - just being alive and healthy is one. I jubuilate in the returning of the sun (although you wouldn't know it from all the cloud cover we've had lately); I rejoice in the love of my husband, family and friends. I will really be rejoicing at the end of winter when we can hitch up the camper and head out somewhere!  If we all look at our lives I'm sure everyone can find reasons to jubuilate. Its sometimes easy to find them when times are good, but its most important to remember them when times may be bad. Try not to forget about your reasons.

Its hard not to have a feeling of well-being on such a glorious, sunny day. The sun drew us outside so we went for a tromp around the property. There is not much snow cover so it was easy to traverse the fields. We still had to keep the dogs away  from the creek as it is still running in places (so pretty!) - I think they would have stayed away anyway. I had forgotten how lovely our property is and some of the trees have recovered without the beavers - umm - I mean horses - gnawing at them.

homestead hill - there's an old stone foundation just over the crest
Oh yeah - my idle pleasure (there were many) but I'll pick for today having a hot bath in the afternoon sun. If I wait till just the right time in the afternoon, the sun actually shines right into my tub. I love it and it never fails to make me feel happy. Grace had her little tub beside mine where she splashed around in the water a bit - I think she liked it too.

Life is good - retirement is wonderful :-)