Two weekends ago I spent time away from home with a very good friend of mine. I have known Rosemary since we both were 13 and it is fantastic that we are still close friends. The sleepovers we did as teens have now become weekend getaways and conversations now run along the the lines of children and spouses instead of boy crushes and dancing to Cyndi Lauper. We laugh, smile, drink, eat and then drink some more on our escapes. Who would have thought that we both would end up on the West Coast of Canada, raising our families so far away from our childhood homes? Sometimes it truly is a small world we live in. We trade off on destinations. I will travel to the mainland and spend the weekend in Vancouver with her or she will travel over to the Island and we stay in Victoria. We have our favorite haunts in both places. This time I failed to bring my camera, and Rosemary left hers in my car for most of the weekend. From our trip we have one picture, the one she took at the ferry terminal before she left, of the birthday gifts we bought each other. One can never have too much jewelry, Happy Birthday to Us!
This post brings about sharing a purchase made last year when it was my turn to visit the mainland for a weekend. Come on! Do you think we just drink and eat? We shop till we drop! Blue Ruby was the place where this piece from Love Heals called to me from under the glass counter top. Yes, it did, honest.
When I wear it I am always reminded of a wonderful friend. I feel the luck of the four leaf clover and am reminded of Irish eyes. I feel the warmth of the heart on my skin and feel love. And when I bought it 10 trees were planted and I helped protect a child from blindness in need. It really is an all round, feel good, piece of jewelry that I receive many compliments on when I wear it.
Summer means outdoor cooking. I try to make use of the barbeque as much as I can simply because I would rather spend my time outdoors instead of inside a hot kitchen. Lucky for me my love of cooking on the barbeque comes naturally.
At my home, my dad took over cooking the main dish as soon as the weather was warm enough, which meant he was barbequeing from June to the end of September. Mind you, my idea of cooking outdoors means I can read a book or putter in the garden while food is cooking, whereas my father's concept of outdoor cooking allowed him to sit on a lawn chair, beer in hand, and watch a CFL game on the portable TV. Or golf for that matter! Still he was, and still is, an awesome cook!
Yesterday it was a warm 35C. By all accounts, a perfect day to make dinner on the barbeque. And aside from having to let the potatoes simmer in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, our dinner was basically cooked outdoors on the natural gas grill.
Grilled Potato Caesar Salad
Couscous Salad (no barbequing required)
Fresh Red Snapper (sprinkled with a little of this)
For dessert Thistle's Fudge Cake.
(Thistle is a precocious 18mth old with amazing blue eyes)
Cleanup was a breeze. You gotta love summer!!!
When I make a pie I think of my grandmother. I think of the many summers I went blueberry picking with her in the woods, filling my tummy and an ice cream pail with wild blueberries, and always (always) being worried about black bears. She and my grandfather, had a massive garden in their backyard complete with raspberry bushes that ran along one edge of the plot. When I think about it now, my sisters and I probably picked it clean and left little to no berries for a pie. There was however a huge rhubarb plant that provided ample stalks with which to make strawberry/rhubarb pie. In the fall there would be apple and pumpkin pie brought to the house - my youngest sister did not like pumpkin (talk about favorites!)
When I make a pie I also think of how my mother was so lucky that she didn't have to bake a pie herself since her mother, my Nanny, would always provide one for our Sunday family suppers. I am not so lucky since my home is over 4,000 km away from her and my grandmother. So I have had to learn to make my own pies...with a little help from Schmecks Appeal.
Consisting of 92 pages, with recipes such as Satan's Choice, Barbie's Peach Pie, Whisky Pumpkin Pie and Grandmother's Lemon Apple Pie, one gets a story and sometimes a little advice. Something you would expect if you were in the kitchen with your mother or grandmother. This little book, Pies and Tarts with Schmecks Appeal, was purchased right before leaving Ontario for British Columbia in 1990. It has since survived 4 moves, a flood while in storage (The Joy of Cooking was not so lucky) and some messy situations in the kitchen. This is the book I sought when I needed to make my first lemon meringue pie - from scratch. Nowadays I cheat (shhh) and use Sheriff's Lemon Pie Filling, but I always make a Schmecks meringue.
Considering that I live in "rural suburbia", 22 acres of which most is field, cats seem to be a logical pet to have. We have four cats. Three were rescued from feral litters over the past years and the fourth, a pet store kitten, is our first cat when we moved to the property in 2003.
I mention cats because our latest feral cats, the kittens I fondly call them, have had their 2nd birthday. They are a pair, a brother and sister rescued from our neighbor's open garage/workshop. They came to us as a spitting, biting black and a timid orange with blue eyes. Originally my daughter and I were pushing to name them Dolce & Gabbana but, aside from the receptionist at the Vet's office, no one in the house understood the reference. So Comet and Mia they became.
Our intention for taking in Mia and Comet was to eventually adopt them out.... the summer we took them... in 2008... Umm, that didn't quite happen.
We named them,
We loved them,
(We also did the responsible thing and had them spayed and neutered)
And we insisted they go as a pair.
Three reasons why we are celebrating a second year with the kittens!
Lets face it, this was the first time we (I) "planned" to do something like this. Our intentions had merit, but personally I believe the plan was to always keep them. Just these two I tell myself!
So the other two are not put out...
Pepper is our first feral cat. He was brought home by one of our Great Pyrenees Guardian Dogs. We aren't too certain which dog brought Pepper home from the barn across the road, Hera or Badger, but I think it was Hera our female. Pepper was so tiny he nicely fit in the palm of my hand. This was quite handy when it came to feeding him formula. Pepper in one hand, medicine dropper in the other. He would hold on to the syringe with his two front paws and suck away!
Even though he spent most of his early life with humans, I swear from the beginning he imprinted himself on the dogs, since he behaves more dog-like than cat-like. Mind you, he seems to hop like a rabbit...so who knows. No matter, he takes beautiful pictures and I like it that he pretends I am not doing it.
Last but not least is Smudge. He keeps the troops in check and is the hunter who likes to come home with the occasional "gift". He is what one calls the Alpha male. I have to remind myself that his offerings of headless mice and lifeless shrews are just his way to let me know he is doing his job and can provide for the family...(sigh) Men!
After a week of cool temperatures (there was a fire burning in the wood stove to chase away the dampness) finally today there was some sunshine, some cloud and some wind. I am hoping the wind will chase those clouds away and bring only sunshine from this day hence. "Ha", says Environment Canada.
At least with the sunshine comes field strawberries, which have just started to peak here in the mid-island area. Strawberries don't last long in my house. Case in point, 4 pints purchased late Wednesday afternoon was a poor attempt to have strawberry shortcake. Poor attempt since they never made it to the shortcake stage. Darn those pesky kids! So there were only some stragglers left to have with vanilla ice cream for an evening treat.
Today I broke the bank and purchased several flats. Now I have fresh berries in the fridge and bags in the freezer. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to have that strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream.
My daughters have affectionately named me the Bird Lady (I sincerely hope there is a little love behind this nickname) and I smile with them and really don't mind since I have always been quite fascinated by these magnificent creatures. It is much to the girls' dismay that we can be traveling down the Island Highway, 90-100 km/hr, and I will call out, " Check out the Kingfisher on the hydro line! Or, oh look, Bald Eagle! Or, Trumpeter Swan! Hawk!", as I hold on to the steering wheel whilst craning my neck to watch one fly over head. They in turn shake their head, mumble something under their breath, and keep their eyes peeled for stray Mule Deer that enjoy playing Chicken with the highway traffic.
I am especially in awe of the American Bald Eagle. To catch a glimpse of one makes my day. Usually I do. There is a mating pair that have a perch on a Douglas Fir close to the highway that I am guaranteed to see on those days that I drive one of my daughters to dance classes. We, the eagles and I, are going on our eighth year of highway watching!
So it was quite obvious that when a "flock" swoops, dives and soars over the field at my home when hay is being baled I abandon all cares, worries and tasks.
It figures that I would take a seat on a bale of hay, endure a runny nose and itchy skin due to grass allergies, and "wait" for that picture perfect moment - which never really happened. Maybe eagles are camera shy? The wild ones that is. Or maybe just the ones that decided to make the field their gathering place.
Eventually I did get some shots of one flying overhead, and believe me, I felt those eyes looking down at me. It came in low from behind before circling in front. My early-warning detector to get the camera ready was a very funny looking black cat (Comet) who suddenly went Halloween on me and began growling like a dog!
Today I counted at one given time 4 Adult Bald Eagles, 3 Juvenile Bald Eagles and a handful of Turkey Vultures for good measure, either flying overhead, catching a snack in the field or keeping things in check from a high vantage point in the Douglas Firs. I would guess that there were yummy morsels of field mice, snakes and, sad to say, rabbits to satisfy their appetite.
Spying a mischievous nymph said to hide in the petals of the Peony can be a wonderful pastime for any little girl on a warm summer day in her grandparents' backyard.
Sitting on the sun warmed green back porch stairs. A gentle breeze rustles the young leaves of the giant Silver Maple. Underneath the peony jungle.
Like weeds, they grow along the property edge. Invading the cement walkway laid in the grass.
Sandals abandoned elsewhere. Toes curled downwards as knees clench a chipped tea cup filled with fine white sugar. A rhubarb stalk, freshly cut, juicy and crisp clutched in my sun browned hand.
Greedily I dunk it into the depths of the sweet crystal snow. My witch's brew that would alarm any dentist. Swishing and swirling the granules to ensure a heavily doused treat from heaven, my taste buds sing to the angels as I suck.
Encouraged by the warm breeze, the Peonies nod in agreement as I scamper up the stairs, warm feet shocked by the cool kitchen linoleum floor, in search of more sugar.