Sunday, June 29, 2008

Quiet Sundays

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Veggie Garden

My backyard is quite small and my friend Ev's is tiny.

My yard has shrubs, flowers, an apple tree, pond, fire pit and work area.

Ev's yard has a swing set, playhouse, columnar dwarf fruit trees, BBQ, small veggie garden and an above ground swimming pool.

Any open space she had has been filled by their new pool. Literally!

I've been wanting to try vegetable gardening for the last few years but, as my yard has be designed to within an inch of it's life, there really was no space unless I redesigned it.

That was not going to happen!

Driving my afternoon bus route I would pass a large field beside a major highway with a big sign that proclaimed 'Garden Plots For Rent.'

I finally decided to phone this spring.

I won't tell you how much it cost me to rent it, because, depending on where you live you might very well find it an outrageous price.

The owner rototills for you and water from a dugout is included in the price.

If the garden grows well, it would still not be less expensive than buying from one of the cheaper grocery stores, but it would be cheaper than buying all the produce from the farmers market.

I was a little nervous about being able to maintain it so I talked Ev, who is my neighbour as well as my friend, into sharing with me.

Our plot is 15 feet by 50 feet and Ev gardens one quarter of that.

I like to use a hoe to weed.

Ev prefers to weed by hand.

Ev's daughter Alice was happy to bring the weeds to the compost pile. (For a little while anyways!)

This is my portion of the garden. I've planted, among other things, heirloom plum tomatoes, spinach, three colours of beets, corn and purple potatoes

Ev's garden has an awesome crop of carrots, spinach (already harvested), yellow zucchini, corn, purple potatoes and more.

We've both found it much easier to maintain than we it thought we would and are already considering a larger plot for next year.

We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blue Flax

The flax is blooming.

Isn't the colour amazing?

This plant was a gift from Ev's garden.

Tune in tomorrow for a peek at our new veggie garden.

*Today was the last day of school.

Tomorrow I sleep in!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mouse poop is gross!

* This picture has nothing to do with my post. I'm sure you'll understand why.

I've started working on decluttering the house.

Crystal is moving back home in a few weeks so everything we've stored in her room for the last year has to find a new home.

A lot of the stuff is actually for the bathrooms. Tile, fixtures, sinks and what have you.

Henry suggested clearing out the bench area in the garage. This is where I used to store my gardening supplies before he made me my lovely potting/bike shed.

I started clearing things out.

I found lots of pots, bowls, old tools, etc.

I also found. . .

You guessed it. MOUSE POOP!!!


I ran to the house to scrub my hands, put on plastic gloves and refill my water/bleach bottle.

Shudder. . .

The mice themselves don't bother me, but cleaning up the poop!

I sprayed all surfaces heavily with the bleach water.

Now I'm letting it sit.

I think it needs to sit until tomorrow. You know, for the best possible disinfection power.

Truthfully I'd rather not face it tonight so I think I'm just going to make a cup of tea, and take that along with my book and the shortbread cookies I made on Thursday to bed.

Henry told me that he had known about the mouse poop but decided not to tell me and let me discover it for myself!

I think he was worried I'd make him clean it up.

Two more days of school left!

Whoo Hoo!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Look what's blooming in my garden

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Upstairs Bathroom

Well, as promised, I am posting pictures of my main bathroom. The basement one will have to wait until I figure out a way to light it so you will actually be able to see something!

As you can see I have a bit of a mold problem as well as a rust issue. ( the grab bar has rust all around it)

What you can't see (thankfully) is the fact that there is no glazing left on the tub, which means that it always looks grubby! The tiles aren't in much better shape.

The paint is peeling right down to the plaster.

My light fixture only works one one side. I was going to replace it as it's something I've done myself before, but. . .

As you can see it has a plug outlet on it.

This is the only outlet in the bathroom and I have no idea how to do anything about that!

So. . .

It's all going to go.

We will be starting fresh.

And I wanted to say thank you to Jenny and Lynn. Their comments reminded me just how blessed I am.

I have been worrying (and praying) about all the things that needed fixing for so long I seem to have gotten into a bit of a negative mind set in regards to home renovations.

But. . .

No more!

I'm going to have new bathrooms and it occurred to me that I'm not the one doing the work!

Which means I should have time to do some of the things on my list.

And to blog about it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unexpected treasure

While walking Jada this morning I noticed one of my neighbours was having a garage sale.

Once we had gotten back and had breakfast, I wandered over to check things out.

Look what I came home with!

I love dishes with roses on them and the little bowls will be perfect to serve dessert in one of theses days.

Henry stopped by for lunch and wanted to know if he will get more than one bowl. He seems to think they are a little small!

I also purchased these canning jars. I love the older ones with the glass lids, although it did just occur to me that, although I can tell when metal lids have sealed, I have no idea how you know with glass lids and rubber rings!

I'll have to do a little research.

Now I'm off to clean the house.

Remember? I didn't get it done yesterday. . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gardens, Renovations and Home keeping

Well, I've been somewhat delinquent in blogging everyday and I'm afraid that will likely be the norm this summer.

It's not that I won't have lots to blog about. There will be plenty!

However I'll be so busy getting things done, there won't be a whole lot of time to blog about it!

About a year and a half ago we ripped out our downstairs bathroom, intending to redo it ourselves.

Well. . .

We ran out of both money and know how.

A toilet, trouble light (the kind you use when you need to look underneath the car), plus a box of wet wipes was all that was left of our second bathroom.

In a house with six people. . . three of whom are women.

Now our main bathroom seems to have sprung a leak. Every time we shower, water leaks into the downstairs bathroom.

So, what to do?

We no longer have a choice.

Both bathrooms must be ripped out and redone.

Thankfully the value of our house has gone up significantly since we bought it. That means we can use some of our equity to get things done and we found someone who can start very soon.

But once you start thinking about renovating and money is available, what happens?

That's right!. . .

Well. . . while we're at it. . . we might as well. . .

In our case, the furnace is the same age as the house. 48 years old. Every winter we wonder if this is the year it will give up the ghost. And say a little prayer, that if it does, it's not -30C!

Then there are our windows. We just had a major storm last night, with high winds and driving rain which caused water to come in around the edges of our kitchen window. The same window that freezes up every winter and who's opening mechanism is no longer attached fully to the window, which requires paper toweling to be stuffed in the resulting hole.

I hope we don't find anything else we might as well do, because this is more than enough for me!

The storm didn't drop any hail here at our house but in the garden plot where I have started a veggie garden ( another post I haven't gotten to yet! Sorry!) hail flattened a good portion of our garden .(Ev and I are doing it together)

The only bright spot is the fact that as we hilled up each bed, they were not underwater like many of the other gardens!

I still haven't weeded the gardens at the school across the street that I put in over the last few years, but thankfully Ev and her friend managed to get to that, as well as planting more plants for me. (Thanks Ev!)

And then there's home keeping. . .

My plan had been to spend the summer ruthlessly purging anything I haven't used in the last six months with the exception of seasonal items. I had also hoped to try out new recipes for meals as well as baking .

I wanted to preserve the harvest, learn to draw and putter in the garden.

For now though renovations come first.

I'll blog when I can and. . .

I'll have a guest blogger over the summer!
My friend Jurrina is going to Holland soon and will blog about her family's adventures while they are gone and I can't wait to read about it!

Oh, no! I just looked at the time and I have to leave in a half hour! I haven't even cleaned the kitchen yet, never mind the huge piles of clean laundry waiting to be folded!

Got to run, but tomorrow I'll try to post pictures of the garden and bathroom (you may feel the need to cover your eyes for that bathrooms though.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quiet Sundays

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bread Recipe

As requested, here is my sister Lisa's bread recipe.

You do need a stand mixer for this to work.

White bread. . .

Place ingredients in mixing bowl in the order given (yeast must be on top of the flour!)

1/4 cup milk powder (I used actual milk because I didn't have milk powder, but it does change how much flour you use. You'll need more)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1 tablespoon salt

1 egg

2 1/2 cups hot water

5 cups flour ( you can add 1 or more cups if needed)

2 tablespoons quick rise (instant) yeast

Start mixing with 5 cups of flour and add more flour until desired consistency is reached ( soft but not sticky)

Beat on med/high for 5 minutes (this eliminates the need to knead by hand!)

Remove bowl from mixer and cover with a clean cloth. Let rise for 30-45 minutes (I usually go for the full 45 minutes)

Punch down. Form three balls and let rest on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes,

Form three loaves of bread or 30 buns. (this dough could also be used to make cinnamon buns)

Let rise for 30-45 minutes.

Bake for 15-18 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Shake loves from pan onto a clean towel or cookie racks and let cool. (If you can! If anyone is home at my house when the bread comes out of the oven, they all have to have a warm piece with butter.)


*And Chandra, the loaf pans are not doubled. These are the new ones I bought. They are Wilton brand 21.6x11.4x6.35 cm / 8.5x4.5x2.5 inches.

They work very well.

Any one notice how I used the same pictures as yesterday? Tricky aren't I?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baking Bread

Baking bread, among other things, was on my To Do list today.

I love bread.

All kinds of bread.
I can even remember where and/or when I had bread that was something more than just good.
Bread that was sublime.

Like the dinner buns served at my sister-in-law's wedding some 13 years ago. We had dinner in the officer's mess and the buttery, flaky bottoms of those buns!. . .

Oh my, I can still taste them. . .

In the past I would have used my bread machine. For this to work with my schedule, I would have to start it the minute I got home in the morning or I would not have time to bake it before I had to leave again in the afternoon.

If I didn't mind baking the loaf in the machine it would work alright I suppose but,(sorry if you are a bread machine lover) I really don't like the crust you get that way.

However, thanks to my sister Lisa (an awesome cook and baker) I have a dough recipe that's fast,(which suits my timetable) and doesn't need kneading. (which suits my arthritic hands!)

This recipe uses quick rise yeast and gives three decent loaves of bread. With a good store bought loaf now $2.79 I think I may do a whole lot more baking!

As soon as school is out two weeks from now, I'm going to try the foccacia from The Martha Stewart Cookbook.

What I'll try after that is any body's guess. . .

Any favorites out there?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Rainy Week

The forecast is for showers all week.

It's been quite gloomy with the odd sunny break and I didn't think any gardening would be happening this week.

So far, I've been right!

This is due less to the random showers however, and more to the fact that the end of the school year is always busy!

Last night was a "Thank you for the music" concert which showcased the church choir past and present as well as the school band, past and present.

It was a great evening, although somewhat sad as well, as we said good- bye to our band/choir director and acting school principal.

He will be sorely missed.

I got very teary watching the junior, senior and alumni band members on stage. I have a child in each of those bands.

This was Morgan's last trombone performance as a senior.

Things are changing. . .

But I can always find solace in the garden. . .
Although I think I'll wait until it stops raining!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Quiet Sundays

Friday, June 6, 2008

Look what else is blooming in my garden

The iris have just started blooming!

I was given a division of this particular iris, from my friend Nicole several years ago.It has a very interesting scent, one that reminds me of the candy necklaces I ate as a kid.
Somehow, the flower smells like the candy tasted.

Odd, but true.

Blue flax, a gift from my friend Ev's garden.

I started these ground cover plants from seed last winter and they are now blooming for the first time. I'd like to tell you what they are, but I'm not sure.

I bought the seed package at my local dollar store and it had a common name which could be one of two different plants.

It doesn't really matter though, because I know they are hardy and pretty. What more could you need?

My daisies were started from seed my friend Jurrina's mom brought back from Holland. You've got to be careful with these though, because they seed themselves all over the place!

I always leave a few because I love to have 3 or 4 flowers in a little vase in the house. It wouldn't be summer without them.

Dianthus 'neon flash'. These were purchased at a garden center.


Tiny flowers on the creeping thyme!

And last but not least . . .

Creeping babies breath. Also purchased from a garden center.
Now. . .

I have to go clean a pan so I can cook dinner.

I only kind of cleaned the kitchen the other day. Every pot I own is dirty.

I keep thinking it would be nice if I could afford a house cleaner for those times in the year when gardens madness takes over. The only problem is, I know I would end up cleaning the house before the cleaners came, so I wouldn't be embarrassed to have them see what a slob I can be sometimes.
Kind of defeats the purpose though. . .

I did, however, bake a coffee cake.

It's delicious! Especially with a cup of tea.
Which I am going to have right now, along with my (cough!) third piece of coffee cake.
Told you it was good!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A day in the garden

I spent a lovely day in my garden.

The long range forecast is calling for rain from Friday through Sunday, so I wanted to get as much done as I could in the next two days.

I finished up with the front garden yesterday and as you can see, the alliums are in bloom!

I began in the back this morning.
I tend to clip back most of my perennials in the fall, but some are left up for winter interest and to provide seeds for the birds.

I also have spots where the grass grows long and becomes rather unsightly.

Jada loves long grass and in her mind I grow that grass so she can have snack whenever she wants!

So, I started at the back of the garden, weeding out the grass and dandelions from the garden beds.

My two dogwood bushes didn't fare too well over the winter and and quite a bit of pruning had to happen.

I mulched this back bed last year, and, because of it's slope, most of the mulch ended up at the bottom.

What to do?

A while back Henry brought home two wooden pallet sized boxes full of different types of stone.
A local stone company that installs things like slate/ granite counter tops and stone facing for the outside of houses was cleaning out their warehouse and told Henry if he wanted he could have what ever they threw out!

A long slate counter top was one of the items .

They hadn't been able to fit it into the dumpster so the broke it into smaller pieces!

Can you imagine!!

Today I used those pieces to edge the back part of the garden bed as well as using some of the bigger pieces for stepping stones.

It looks pretty good!

The plan was to get back to work after supper.

The thunderstorm however, brought rain with it and I've had to change my plans somewhat so. . .

I'll be giving my kitchen some much needed attention. (I was seriously contemplating Styrofoam dishes for this week!)

And I do believe. . .

I'm going to bake a coffee cake before I go to bed!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sunny days

It's a beautiful sunny day today and where do you think I'm going to spend it?
If you guessed the garden, go to the head of the class!
I seem to be finished with all the extra stuff for now and I finally have time to do what I want to do!
I took Jada for a walk to the pet store as soon as I got home this morning.
We got her a nice smoked bone that would keep her busy. (and from noticing how short her walk was)
Of course the first thing she did when she got home, was to scout out the perfect place to bury it!
So much for that idea. . .
At some random time in the future, when she feels it has rotted long enough (that's why I buy smoked ones. They don't really rot!) she'll haul it out, and drag it into the living room to chew.
Sigh. . .
Oh well it was a good idea.
I hope to get all my plants into the garden this week as the forecast is calling for rain on Saturday.
I don't really mind because then I can do something in the house instead.
I might bake, declutter, or sew.
I just picked up a bunch of fabric from my sister-in-law who is purging before she moves to her new house. With a little stash of my own I can now sew something on a whim. How fun is that?
Well. . .
Got to go, I hear Henry's truck so he's probably home for lunch.
See you tomorrow.!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Graduation part two

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the young women who graduated, composed and wrote a song for the graduating class and then performed it with three other young ladies.

I was so impressed that a 17 year old was able to do this, that I wanted to share.

Thanks to my cousin Chandra, I now know how to attach a movie.

She also told me how I could edit it, however, most of what you see is the back of two heads so. . .

Just listen to the music.

I was also going to publish the words to the song, but it occurred to me that I shouldn't do that without asking.

Here's a small piece of the girls singing. . .


Morgan graduated high school this past Friday evening.
As you can see from the picture above (the text chosen by the grads for this event) this is not my best work, photographically speaking.

Let's just take that as a given, or I'll spend the whole post apologizing rather than telling the story!
I wanted to start the story with a picture of Morgan coming into the church, but he walked so fast that I didn't get there in time!

This is a picture of four grad girls who, as a surprise to the rest of the class, sang a beautiful song composed and written by Lisa, the young woman who is third from the left. They managed to keep it secret for an entire year!

I had managed to take a short video with my camera but, I don't quite know how I would download it and link it to my blog.

Chandra? Any ideas?

I wanted to take a picture of Morgan accepting his diploma and all I got was his blurry back!

Instead I give you his best bud Brad, who's dad is president of the school board. ( That would be the man hugging Brad. I saw a few tears as well Ron!)

Presenting the graduating class of 2008.

Morgan and Cam in the receiving line.

Do you thing Morgan's happy it's over?!

Morgan with his friend and escort Chantal.
* Note her lack of shoes. The picture I took when they actually came down the stairs was so dark you couldn't see a thing!

Of course Brad had to get a picture too!

The kids had rather interesting centerpieces on the table.

Each of the grads did shadow cutouts of themselves. This is the pose Morgan chose. Brad's was a large black piece of paper with a stick man on it! . . .
Oh Brad!

The gym. (and Jesse.)

This is my sister Lisa who came and stayed with me last week. I hadn't seen her since November.
As my sisters and I live so far apart, it doesn't often happen that we are able to attend these types of things together, so when we can, it's very special. Sorry you missed it Tam. Hope this post helps.
But not to worry, I'll be at your daughters wedding this fall without fail!

This is my daughter Crystal. She's the oldest at 22. She'll be moving home this summer for a while when her roommate gets married.

Holly's 20 and as you can see does not like having her picture taken! The girl beside her has been her best friend since kindergarten, although they haven't seen each other much since Kristen moved away.
Kristen came home for her brother Brad's graduation!

See! She still doesn't want her picture taken!

But she consented to taking a family picture when I used a bit of mother's guilt by reminding her that soon they would all be out of the house, and then what would I have to remember them by?

It was a lovely evening.
© A Life of Whimsey