Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday, September 19th - an unexpectedly busy week ahead

We recently had the pleasure of being asked to provide finger foods for a local company's grand opening. Trouble is we just found out last week and it's this Friday late afternoon/evening. So our weekend was pretty much prep, prep, prep, what we could ahead. The next couple of days will be a little chaotic but only in a good way. We weren't sure how many of the 200 people  invited to this event would actually be coming but at least now we know it's somewhere between 85 and 120.  We can work with that.

Throw my card job into the mix and it gets even more interesting. Besides my regular calls to three stores in town, we are also setting up in a couple of new stores as well as replacing another card company in a few existing stores as well. Today I will be traveling to Summerside to help out there and then on Wednesday at another location in town. My own calls will have to wait till Saturday, after Friday's event. 

Our starting point. Each pocket is numbered and ...

... corresponds to a pack of cards. It's a match game to put them all in the right place.

The weekend was busy with prep for this Friday's event but we did take some time out for a bit of  entertainment as well. We enjoyed an evening of fun and frivolity at the International Shellfish Festival with Brenda and Bernie, to help celebrate Brenda's birthday.  A good time was had by all.

Lots of music and dancing...

...lots of beer...

...and lots of yummy oysters! 

 Our Sunday was slightly quieter, and moved slightly slower, being as we still had work to do and we didn't get home till midnight the night before! Our friends Jens and Linda came over for coffee in the afternoon and ended up joining us for homemade pizza. It had been a while since we'd seen them so it was nice to get together and catch up.

Better go, I have to get to Summerside this morning. Wish us luck this week!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday, September 12th - ooops, I did it again!

Once again I have to apologize in the month of September as I missed my son-in-law's birthday - again. I seem to miss it every year. With everything that goes on with the beginning of September I seem to always be late with my best wishes. Well, at least I'm consistent! So, a very  Happy Belated  Birthday. I once got a card from someone that said, I didn't forget your birthday, I just wanted my greetings to be special. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Hope it was a happy one.We're just ever so glad that you're here to celebrate it after the scare you gave us earlier in the year.

Well, the boys made it home. Bernie had a very in depth tour of Newfoundland and had way more food to eat than he would ever want or need. Welcome to Newfoundland, Bernie! They were pretty fortunate to have warm sunny weather for pretty much the whole week, quite uncharacteristic for that part of the Atlantic provinces at this time of year. They met with several of Lloyd's relations and visited some old family spots so it was a great trip for Lloyd as well.

They made it home safe and sound on the boat on Sunday evening. Brenda, Meghan, Will and Amanda rode their bikes across the bridge, toured the sunrise trail and met up with them at the boat. On the way home Lloyd and I stopped and got supper at the local golf course before coming home so he could go to bed as he was working later that night.
On the way to the boat, I saw a sight that put the sunshine into perspective - fall is definitely coming...

I managed to have a relatively productive week while he was away. I had purchased an old washstand last summer and it's been sitting out in the garage since then. I had plans to paint my bathroom and give it a bit of a makeover but it just hadn't happened. So I took the opportunity to tear it all apart while he was gone. Then I could do it in stages over several days and leave the painting mess in place till I was finished. It was a dark beige before and I never liked the colour so I chose a light blue paint for the walls and ceilings. There's a lot of white in that tiny room and it goes quite nicely with the blue. Some new shelves, metal containers to house all the "stuff" and it's now a done deal and I'm pretty happy with it.

In between that and some other re-organizing, I still managed to find time for some fun stuff.

Saturday evening Meghan, Brenda and I went to the Trailside to enjoy a nice meal and some great music. Always a good time there. The rest of the weekend wasn't really great weather so it was a good time for me to work on my painting project.

Then the three of us met in town on Tuesday evening at Fishbones for a beer and a bite to eat. We've been up on their rooftop patio before but it's always been in the evening and it's always been packed. This time it was earlier in the day and later in the year so finding a seat was no problem. It was a lovely evening and we had a table overlooking Victoria Row. A lovely time was had by all.

Thursday was the first day of school here on the island so I invited Brenda over for some snacks and a beverage on Wednesday evening to mark the end of her summer vacation. It was quite a warm day so Pina Colada's  were the order of the day upstairs in the garage.

This week we had the pleasure of attending the open house held by the College of Piping. They have teamed up with Holland College and are now offering courses in Charlottetown at the Prince of Wales Campus. We were treated to a performance by the grade 4 band who came first at the World Competition in Glasgow last month. We wanted to go as Brenda's nephew is an instructor at the college and our friend Jordan was a member of the winning band. Unfortunately neither of them were in attendance.

James and I just missed it - these signs were all over the city

The hardware

 Chris was teaching a class and Jordan was performing somewhere in Ontario.  So we didn't get to chat with either of them. Still, a nice evening, especially as we ended it with a meal at a local restaurant.  All in all a great week.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Tuesday, September 5th - Happy Back to School for those affected!

Hard to believe another summer has come to a close. The kids here on the island don't return to school till Thursday but I know other places go back as early as tomorrow.
Brenda's summer vacation is also about to end.

Good luck to Tristen on his first day at Junior High. He'll be able to walk back and forth to school, a real treat for him (and his mom!). Big day for him as well as for his big brother who is entering his final year at Bishop Mac. Meg is back at Centennial for another term. Have a great year everyone.

It was another week of cookies. We had delivered 36 packages of cookies to Cavendish last Monday and on Wednesday they called and asked us to bring another 36. So Wednesday afternoon and evening were spent baking so I could deliver them on Thursday morning. They're gearing up for the last of the season. They expect to be shut down by the 21st of September so that will be it till next year.  I think there were high hopes for the long weekend but in the end the weather turned out to be pretty miserable. Not likely as many people out and about as they had hoped.

Saturday was raining off and on and Monday was pretty much wet all day. Sunday was the only day that was nice. Brenda and Meghan were going for a bike ride but I declined to join them. I was busy painting the kitchen window I took apart a couple of months ago. While I was at it I figured I may as well paint the door frames around the kitchen. They were starting to look pretty worn. Of course now the kitchen needs painting but that was too big a job for me to undertake all by myself. I suppose I might have tried it if Lloyd was going to be away for a couple of weeks, but it's only 10 days.

He and Bernie left bright and early on Friday morning under cool, overcast skies. They were headed to Sidney, N.S. to catch the ferry to Newfoundland. I've talked to Lloyd a couple of times and they made it safe and sound. The first day was a  brutal, long drive in the cold and rain.  With any luck at all, the rest of their week will be better temperatures.

I had the pleasure of accompanying Brenda and Meghan to the Trailside on Saturday night. Good food, good music and god company. Can't go wrong with that, so thanks girls!

We are hoping for some very warm days later in the week. Brenda and I plan on enjoying an outdoor patio in town on one of those days - something we haven't done yet this year.

And lastly, a couple of photos from Fort Augustus - the one in Scotland!

What an absolutely lovely little village.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Tuesday, August 29th - a busy birthday month!

They say time flies when you're having fun. I must be having a blast cause I can't believe it's the end of August already. Where has the summer gone?

When we get to the kids birthdays I know that fall is just around the corner.

A belated Happy Birthday to Meghan, who turned 15 on Sunday

Cavendish Beach Music Festival - July 2010

and an early Happy Birthday to Tristen who will be 12 on Friday!  Where has the time gone?

 First bonfire of the season - April 2011

And where has the summer gone?  But we usually get some pretty nice weather in September and often into October as well. The nice part of it is there aren't quite so many bugs as in July and August.

We made a decision on Friday to participate in a fall flavours event : "Farm Day in the City". It's an opportunity for farmers and the like to showcase their products. There are also craft people as well as folks selling all manner of items and products. We've ordered a large banner with our Wee Bee name and logo on it to hang in front of our table. It's really just to get some exposure. We'll have business cards, a slide show running with food and event photos (not that we have that many) as well as some samples and a few items for purchase. It's really more just to get our name out there and this is an excellent way to do that. Especially if it's a nice day, there are throngs of folks who pack the streets downtown for this event. It it rains, not so much. Let's hope Mother Nature cooperates and brings us sunshine.

I've been working on a list of things I need to make before, to be prepared. I spent Saturday morning up the road picking what turned out to be the last of the raspberries at Coffins. I hadn't planned to make any jam this year but this was a good motivation. It took quite a while to pick them as they were few and far between but at least I got some. Then it was off to our friends back field to pick blueberries. Last night was spent out in the "Wee Kitchen" making a double batch of raspberry blueberry jam.

Summer 2011
 Every time I make it, I'm reminded of one of James' visits a few years ago. (as you can see, he's grown a bit since then) We'd gone to Alan's and picked raspberries on our way home from somewhere. I was looking through my Small Batch Preserving Cookbook to find a recipe and there was one for Raspberry Blueberry Jam. James thought that sounded good, just too bad we didn't have any blueberries. I told him if he took a walk down the back lane he'd find some in the fields back there. So off he went, and I have to say, he's the best blueberry picker I've ever met. There was not a single stem or leaf in that bowl. He did an excellent job of picking but I doubt he'll ever pick them again. It took him quite a long time but that's because he was so meticulous.  So this jam will forever remind me of one of his visits to the island.

Farm Day is the 1st of October so we should have a bit of honey by then as well. I'm going to bake a few varieties of cookies so folks can sample them as well as a couple of other things to try. We'll be pretty limited in what we can serve so I have to give it a bit of thought.

We have a tent for shelter to keep out the elements, on three sides at least, and a couple of tables so we should be all set.  It will be an interesting experience as even though we will have a little bit of product for sale, it's primarily the service that we're promoting. Hopefully it will be successful.

Sunday was spent baking cookies for Cavendish. We took 36 dozen packages to them last Tuesday and by Saturday there was 4 left. But this will likely be our last order. Now that school is starting soon, there won't be many tourists in the Cavendish area so the store shuts down usually in mid-September.   I imagine we will likely get the same contract again next year. They seemed happy with what we did this year.

Other than that, not a lot going on right now. Lloyd is getting ready for his bike trip to Newfoundland. Lots of little details to work out before heading  on an adventure such as this. Part of the challenge is the time of year, and the part of the country. September isn't included in the 2 weeks of summer that is typical of Newfoundland!  Better dig out those long johns while you're packing.

And finally another little piece of our trip this summer - James was SUCH a good sport!

"I want to hold your hand...."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday, August 22nd - I really must check the calendar at least once each day!

Just finished watching the news and realized it's Tuesday and I forgot to post a blog today.
Not a lot going on right now. Saturday we had a catering event so most of the few days prior were busy getting ready for that. Unfortunately the weather was a little less than cooperative, bringing some drizzle initially, and then rain after that. We managed to get most people fed and moved to a neighbouring cottage before it got too bad.

Our food was well received and I tried a couple of new things that I will keep on the menu. One was some steak skewers that were marinated overnight and then cooked briefly on the grill. They were a huge hit. The other was a new recipe for ribs that was also quite successful. So far, so good.

A shot of the trial run at our place of the new BBQ spit a couple of weeks ago

Sunday was kind of a quiet day. Wash up and put away stuff from Saturday and then just relaxed for the rest of the day. We took a little drive into town in the afternoon and the weather that had started out cloudy and cool on Sunday morning transformed into a beautiful sunny and warm afternoon.

We still have cookies at Cavendish Tourist Mart. Lloyd called them on Sunday and they only had 2 packages left from last weeks 36 so it was back into cookie production on Monday.

Cavendish cookies, waiting to be labeled and delivered...

The last couple of days have been very warm and I was grateful to Brenda who arrived at my door around 4:00 to announce she was going to the beach - was I interested? Seriously? Of course I was. We were only there for about an hour but it was just perfect to cool off and chill out.

Now that our last scheduled catering event is past, I can focus on reorganizing my kitchen and getting my craft room back in order. Before we built the kitchen, we piled all kinds of kitchen stuff up in my craft room. It's now time for it to go - anywhere but on my craft table, thank you very much!

Lloyd is heading out to Newfoundland on his new-to-him motorcycle on September first. Some folks reading this will be getting a sense of deja vu.  It's not so many years ago he headed to Newfoundland on his bike with our friend Walt. That trip did not have a happy ending - let's hope this one is more successful. He's going to visit his sister Norma, who has recently had surgery. When he was telling Bernie about all the places he hopes to visit, it sparked the travel bug in Mr. VanGaal again. He's only just returned from biking all the way out to Edmonton, but he's ready and willing to take off again!  Can't say I'm sorry that Lloyd will have company. It's always scary for them to travel distances alone. You just never know what might happen.

Remember back a couple of months ago when I tried planting a garden in some used pallets?
By the time I returned from Britain, the entire thing was one mass of 3 foot tall weeds. I finally got around to looking at it this morning and I couldn't believe what I found. The bulk of the weeds were in the pathways between the pallets. The pallets themselves contained mostly my plants, with maybe a few weeds here and there. I found beans and peas, that admittedly, were past their best before date, but still usable and masses of tomatoes. I found 4 small ones that were ripe and ready to be picked. Another pallet revealed parsley and basil. The lettuce and spinach were no longer usable but the Swiss chard I planted is still good to go. So it seems my little experiment may have worked after all. I'll try it again next year and see if I have the same results.

This was the state of my 'garden' when I returned from vacation

Somewhere in there I know there are tomato plants

Voila, and there they are!

And finally, can it really be over a month since this was me?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday, August 15th - well hello strangers!

It's only been two weeks but I'm feeling like I'm a little out of touch with the whole world right now.

It's been a very busy time, especially last week. We had a pre-wedding BBQ to cater and it was our biggest challenge yet. After many long weeks of cutting, welding and lots and lots of research, our big BBQ was finally ready for it's first try out.

We had a few people over a week or so before, so he could test it out. We BBQ'd about 20 lbs of pork and a whole turkey. By all accounts it turned out well. Now the big test. A 70 pound pig was picked up and dropped into our bathtub full of ice to keep cool till the next morning. It was a challenge the night before the BBQ to get the pig loaded onto the spit and attached with various clamps, etc. Once it was suitably secured, it was covered in a flavourful rub and then wrapped in plastic. Did I mention that it weighed 70 pounds?  It took all our strength to get it wrapped and then put back into the tub till morning.

2:45 am the alarm went off on Wednesday morning. Time for a quick coffee and then load said pig onto the back of the truck. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Lloyd was barely able to walk by this time. He'd woken up on Monday with a left leg that would not bend and a very painful knee. We got him into the car and off to the doctors office, where it was decided he had bursitis. Meds were prescribed but we had no idea how long it would take for them to kick in. It was a little better by Wednesday but still not great. Once again the VanGaals to our rescue. Bernie was still away so we were able to borrow his truck which is an automatic. No way he was able to drive a standard.

So, load the pig onto the back of the truck and he was off.

Brenda was helping (thankfully) and we headed up to Wheatley River with the rest of the meal around 11:00. They had tables all set up outside and beautifully decorated. There was a huge tent set up for the wedding, which was the next day. Fortunately for us there was a smaller tent attached where the food was going to be prepared on Thursday. It was the perfect spot for us to set up and prep everything. Things went smoothly, but it's always a learning experience and I did learn a couple of things that I would have done differently but all in all it went very well. The best part was the pig. After spinning around slowly for 9 hours it was golden brown, juicy and delicious. It was absolutely perfect.

(I don't have any photos, but some will be coming to us from the hosts)

A lot of the guests present were from Holland and had never seen such a thing so they were quite intrigued. Needless to say, the pig was an important part of the day's entertainment.

All in all, I would say the day was a success, as did the hosts. Again, many, many thanks to the VanGaals for Brenda's help and the use of Bernie's truck. We could not have done it without you guys.

Speaking of Bernie, he returned on Sunday from his very long trip to Edmonton.  While out there he also managed to visit Alaska! Needless to say, he put a lot of kms. on his bike this summer. He arrived back on the island on Sunday afternoon. Lloyd drove over to New Brunswick and met up with him in Salisbury. Brenda, Meghan, Ethan, Will and Amanda all rode over to Borden to meet them when they came across the bridge.  Well done Bernie!

We have another pre-wedding BBQ this Saturday but it's quite a bit smaller and doesn't involve a whole pig, so it will be much easier!

Our guys have all been very busy. James had Maxville highland games right after he got back from our trip. He hadn't played in over two weeks but still managed to place 4th out of 19 in one of his pieces, and 6th out of 13 in his more complicated tune.  Well done. 

This year in Maxville, they also held junior heavyweight events:  discus, shot put,  caber toss, sheaf toss, and tug of war There were 170 kids in the events. He got 3rd place in the caber toss in the 9-12 year old division. Well done, T.

Meghan spent the past two weeks at Diabetic Summer Camp. There's no contact with the kids while they are there but judging by the photos that are posted online, it looks like she had a great time again this year.

And finally a couple of photos to share from my 65th birthday. Besides getting to walk across the Abby Road Crosswalk with James, we also had dinner at Jamie Oliver's restaurant in London called 15.   It was a nice evening with both Patti and James and I was thrilled that my friend Petra, who lived in London, was also able to join us.

Thanks again guys, for making my birthday so very special!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wednesday, August 1st - back home again

Good morning everyone!

I had tried to send a small post from Scotland, but now that I'm back in Canada, I realize that my previous post didn't actually go out. Here it is in its entirety:

So, just thought I should post a little something. Internet hasn't always been the greatest and typing on the iPad is not that much fun, to be perfectly honest. It's officially 7 full days since James and I left Toronto. 

I think we're having a great time. If he disagrees he hasn't said anything to me. Tonight we are in Loch Ness, and here for two nights. What an absolutely gorgeous place and we're not even anywhere near the loch. That will be tomorrow when we go on a boat cruise of the loch. James has a lengthy hike planned for tomorrow morning. Sure glad I'm not going. The hills around are massive. 

Liverpool was all I'd hoped and more. I have to admit that there were a couple of times I was almost teary at the realization that I finally made it here.

That made all the castles and museums worth it. But in reality I've managed to skip some and go off and tour on my own. Win/win all round!

I'm going to close off for now, but just wanted to check in 

 So now for the rest of the story:

All in all, we had a really great trip. Saw lots of sights that we both wanted to see. Fortunately James is old enough to go off exploring on his own.

After Loch Ness we took the train to Glasgow. A totally different city than Edinburgh. We were meant to just stay for one night and then head to Cardiff, Wales, but it was a longer train journey than we thought so we stayed a second night in Glasgow.  We went to the National Piping Centre and I asked the right question of the right fellow and managed to get James a piping lesson while he was there. I think he really enjoyed that opportunity.

Then before we knew it our trip was drawing to a close. We headed to London and met up with Patti who was just there for 24 hours. The three of us enjoyed touring around a bit and doing some shopping. Patti and I went for dinner while James attended a cricket match across from the hotel at The Lords Cricket Grounds. Quite a unique opportunity for him.

Patti left early on Friday morning so James and I were on our own. We did some touring around, Buckingham Palace and a couple of museums he was keen to visit. Then I went and spent a lovely time in Green Park while he visited the Churchill War Rooms.

When I arrived in London I saw that there was a stage play entitled Bat out of Hell - the musical. Sounded like it was right up my alley, so I got myself a ticket. I went there on Friday night, and it was absolutely brilliantly done, while James explored the city on his own.

On Saturday, we toured the Tower of London, and strolled along the Thames. In the afternoon we met up with my friend Petra, who lives in London. I stayed with her and had dinner and James left to go on a ghost walking tour of the city.

Sunday morning,(aka happy birthday to me!) our last full day in London. We got up and packed up our stuff as we were transferring to Patti's hotel. She got back to the city again that morning. Once again the three of us headed off. We wanted to visit Westminster Abbey but unfortunately we didn't realize it was closed on Sundays. Guess we'll just have to go again another time.  We toured around a bit, visited Abbey Road studios, did some last minute shopping, then headed back to the hotel to get changed for dinner.

We had reservations at Jamie Oliver's restaurant 15.  I had invited Petra to join us. She was already there when we arrived. We all enjoyed a lovely dinner and before we knew it, the time had come to depart. We said goodbye to Petra at the tube station and made our way back to Patti's hotel.

Early Monday morning we were on the crew bus headed to the airport. James made his flight and was put into first class. Not to be outdone, I had the same good luck. So both our flights home were very comfortable indeed.

Took two tries to get from Halifax to Charlottetown but fortunately I arrived home that same day I started out - always a great thing when traveling standby.

All in all, a really great trip, a once in a lifetime experience, and really fab way to spend my 65th birthday!

I have a ton of pictures so I'm going to have to start working on a new scrapbook.