Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday, March 30th - creativity prevailed once again

It's an overcast, chilly -2' this morning but we should reach 3' with a mix of sun and cloud today so that's not so bad. We may also experience a few flurries overnight but since March came in like a lamb I expected it to be much more lion-like in it's leaving. Perhaps Mother Nature got her days mixed up and thought Tuesday was the end of the month.

Last night I almost had my first bonfire of the year but not intentionally. When I got home from work I decided to clean some of the ashes out of the stove. I filled my bucket and took it out and poured it on top of the firepit, which is heaped with dead branches and dried grass from last year. A little while later I noticed a plume of smoke out the kitchen window. Sure enough some of the dead stuff had caught and was smoldering. Fortunately it wasn't a windy evening so it didn't go anywhere and didn't really amount to much. I was surprised it even did that as it would still be wet from the snow earlier in the week.

So, I have this project I've undertaken. A fellow I work with is getting married in July. He actually got married last summer in China but they want to have a reception her for his friends and family. I was talking with his wife, Willow, one Saturday at work and by the end of the conversation I said I would do their cake as a wedding gift. I've been thinking over ideas and one thing I wanted to do was have some chinese symbols on the sides. I was trying to figure out how to do this neatly. I decided I'd like to print them on. How do you do that you ask? Well, you can actually buy printer cartridges filled with food colouring and if you have a dedicated printer just for that you can use it. You can also buy sheets of
'paper' made from sugar with a paper backing that you print on. That's how you sometimes see cakes with photographs on them. But the issue I had was trying to find a model of printer compatible with the cartridges available. They are all older models and not easily found. So I dispatched Lloyd to try to find one with his vast array of resources but he wasn't successful either. He could have done some more digging but I figured out an alternative.

Yesterday I remembered I have a light box that I use for scrapbooking sometimes. (They don't call me the gadget queen for nothing!). Last night when I got home I located a Chinese symbol and printed it onto regular paper. Then I rolled out some pieces of fondant - a white one and a blue one - as a test. Sure enough, you can see through with the light box. I 'painted' on one piece of fondant with  a couple of different colours of paste food coloring and the other piece I cut out with the tip of a knife. I'm not sure where I'm going with this idea but it will work. I've been tossing around a few thoughts in my head and I'm meeting with Willow and Mike tomorrow. I wanted to have some possibilities to share with them and to get some ideas of what they are looking for.  I also need Willow to verify what the appropriate symbols look like and what they mean.I'd hate to put something offensive on her cake because I didn't know what it said.
I still have some more research to do but this is one option. Another option is markers filled with food colouring that are available.

I'm going to go now and look for those and send Lloyd the details so he can pick them up for me before he arrives next week. (It is a little handy sometimes having someone coming from Ontario once in a while)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday, March 29th - more seasonable today

Last night was a chilly but beautiful night. The sky was clear and filled with bright stars, The temperature this morning is -6' and heading for -1' with a mix of sun and cloud. Much more appropriate weather for this time of year!

Well, I know I've said in the past I'm not a big fan of Indian food. But last night Brenda and I went out for curry at the Churchill Arms. They have a 2 for 1 special on Wednesday nights. We really could have used Lloyd there to help us order but we managed to figure something out. I ordered the Butter Chicken and Brenda ordered the Madras Beef. They each came with your choice of rice and/or fries and Chapatis. The curry part was served in a separate dish so we just asked for a couple of side plates so we could split both curries and share. The Madras indicated on the menu that it was very hot but it really wasn't. There was some heat and the flavour was good - but it wasn't so hot you couldn't taste it. The Butter Chicken was good as well. It wasn't like the buffet type of things I've been too where everything always tastes the same. It's still wouldn't be my first choice for a meal out but I would go there again. (Lloyd will be glad to hear that), I chose to order half rice and half fries but I think I would just go with rice the next time. I really like basmati rice and this was good mixed with the sauce from the meat.

Other than that it was a pretty uneventful day. Work was really busy so the day went by pretty quickly.

We left the restaurant a little before 7:00 and it was still bright daylight outside, as it was when I got home. Spring is here for sure.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday, March 28th - finally a snow day - well at least for some

So yesterday morning it didn't look too bad but when I got out onto the road and had the radio on, all the schools were closed as well as lots of the businesses in town. Even the liquor stores were closed for the day. But fortunately for the population of the province, they were still able to buy cars. Out our way was okay but the closer you got to town the worse it got. There was more snow there than here and it was really blowing around. The winds were very high during the day, gusting up to 90 km per hour. They predicted it would last into this morning but that doesn't appear to be the case. It's a bit windy outside but nothing too serious. It's -4' and heading for -2'. Hard to believe this time last week we were wearing sandals and short sleeves. (Patti told me last night they are supposed to be 15' today).

So Brenda and I owe Bernie really large.  Brenda received an email a couple of days ago regarding the Village Feast in Souris:

In celebration of the Food Network premiere of “Village Feast” documentary on March 31st, 2012, at 8:00 p.m. ADT, the Village Feast committee has arranged a public viewing of the documentary on the night of the premiere at the Souris Show Hall at 8:30 p.m. The public is invited to join the committee as it hosts the viewing the Food Network’s portrayal of the beautiful town of Souris, its people and their role in the Village Feast fundraiser. An informal reception will follow.
Food Network will re-air the documentary Sunday, April 1st, at 4:00 p.m. ADT.
Village Feast Inc. is a non-profit children’s charity based in Souris, Prince Edward Island. It supports local and global initiatives whose goals are to improve the lives of children in our world. Some of the benefactors are Farmers helping Farmers, a P.E.I. NGO which builds school cookhouses in Kenya, Africa, the Souris Food Bank, Coats for Kids, and Main Street Family Resource Centre's Young Mothers cooking classes.
We are currently planning our fifth annual Village Feast event on July 8th, 2012.

So yesterday Bernie had the Food Network installed just for us! What a guy. We owe him a really nice meal this time. Of course, I suppose we could have always gone up to Souris on Saturday evening to watch it but now we can do it in the comfort of the Van Gaal living room!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday, March 27th - so far, so good

Well the wind has been blowing all night long but we don't appear to have very much snow as yet - at least not in my back yard but who knows how much has blown away. It was pretty snowy last night on my way home from the Van Gaals but nothing to be concerned about. Hopefully this mornings warning of blowing snow won't be as bad as the wind sounds right now. It's -4' this morning and that's about where we will stay for the rest of the day.

Yesterday was a very busy day at work so the time went by pretty quickly. Lucky for me the local exercise class was cancelled so Brenda decided to make a roast chicken for supper and emailed to invite me. And what a feast it was - roast chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots and turnip - yummmmm!

 Since we moved here most people know our house as the 'Old MacAvin' (?) place or the Walsh place. I knew the name Edwin Walsh but no one seems to know where he went. He was the nephew of the original owners.

So yesterday I was at my desk and an older gentleman came in to speak to one of the fellows in the business office.He told me his name was Edwin Walsh. You can imagine my surprise and I'm sure the poor man thought I was some kind of lunatic. I just stared at him and I said "You're Edwin Walsh?  Did you ever live in Pisquid"  He replied that he had. "I live in your house!" was my response. So after chatting for a couple of minutes about when we bought it and so forth, he had to go to his meeting.
When he was finished  he came back to my desk and I asked if I could be so bold as to invite him for supper when Lloyd comes to visit. He sort of hesitated at first and then I realized he was thinking. He said he would do that, but first he would visit his sister and see if she had any old photos of the house. I was ecstatic.
I have his phone number and he has our name and number and I'll touch base with him later in the week.  I have a plan. I want to put together a bit of a scrapbook with whatever history I can compile but make two copies. One I will keep and the other I will leave with the house when the time comes that we sell it (many years from now).  It would be neat to leave that for the subsequent owners down the road, with the stipulation that it say with the house.

Only on PEI!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday, March 26th - 10 cm of snow - SERIOUSLY???

What a difference  in 24 hours
This morning I woke up to a light blanket of snow on the ground and 0' and we're heading for a high of 5' and maybe some rain. But the weather network has a blowing snow and high wind warning posted and they claim we may get up to 10 cm of snow by tomorrow. Are they kidding??? It's quite a slap in the face from the 26' we enjoyed on Thursday. But it is only March and Mother Nature seems to just want to make sure we're paying attention. I guess the sandals are out for this morning!!

All in all, a pretty quiet weekend. Brenda and Bernie got home from Boston around 8:00 or so on Friday evening so nothing going on that night. Saturday I worked, as usual and then did a couple of errands on my way home. There was a recipe in the new What's Cooking magazine I received last week that I wanted to try so I picked up what I needed and took it to the Van Gaals around 6:00 Saturday evening. It was quite good and I'll have the recipe for you tomorrow. It was a stir fried pork tenderloin served with brown rice. It was tasty and went together in minutes so it's something I would make again. Brenda made dessert from a recipe that was in last weeks paper, It was equally delicious so a great meal was enjoyed by all.

The view from the window Sunday morning
Sunday was sunny but frosty in the morning - and with no snow on the ground it was the perfect conditions for cleaning up the back yard from the dog being out there all winter. Once that was done I filled up my wood supply then came in and had some breakfast. It was a lovely morning. The sun was bright and quickly melted the frost off everything.

I spent the morning baking muffins to take for my snack in the mornings at work, the tried my hand at a dutch recipe that Brenda introduced me to. Stroopwafels are a filled wafer type of cookie that she gets from the dutch truck. I used a pizzelle baker to make them and she said they were pretty close to the real thing. I didn't use the recipe for filling, which looked pretty much like a caramel type of spread but instead opted for some caramel I had in the fridge I did alter the tradition slightly by filling some with jam and some with peanut butter for Bernie as he's not a big caramel fan. They were an interesting project and I'll try them again sometime but with the proper filling and see how it works.  I'll post the recipe for those later in the week as well.

Brenda came over and picked me up and we went to the art exhibit in Fort Augustus. Yes indeed, the seniors of the community participated in a program throughout the winter where they learned how to paint and I must say I was pretty impressed with the results. There were a couple of paintings that I would have been quite happy to bring home and hang on my wall. Who knew we had such talent so close by?  After leaving there we headed back to my place and went for a walk to the corner and then down MacKinnon Point Road. What a busy spot. There is hardly any traffic on my end but on the other side of the Fort Augustus Road we encountered numerous cars and at least two other people out walking. We're not used to that much activity on this side of the main road.

By the time we got back we were pretty parched so a glass of wine was in order and some nachos seemed like a good idea. But just as they were almost ready to come out of the oven, I realized I didn't have any sour cream. What to do? Turns out Brenda had planned to go get gas in Mount Stewart on her way home anyway so she scooted out to do that and pick up sour cream at the same time. I was beginning to wonder where she went because she was gone for quite some time but it turns out she encountered some fellows just putting their kayaks in the water by the bridge. Of course she had to stop and chat with them - and I can't blame her.  But they were dressed in wet suits and ready for the elements so it wouldn't have been an option for us yet. Hopefully we'll get out more often this year than we did last year.

After she went home, it was a quiet evening - some laundry, a chat with Lloyd, a movie and then off to bed. A relaxing weekend for sure.  But the big news (at least for Lloyd) is that they are doing the Burger competition again this year and it's in April so good thing he's coming for Easter! I can see I won't have to plan much in the way of meals while he's here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday, March 23rd - what a difference a day can make

Yesterday we reached a sunny 24' with a humidex reading of 30'. This morning it's 7' (although that's warmer than I was expecting) and the wind had been howling around since last night. Our temperatures will drop throughout the day and remain around 5' - much more seasonal for spring in Atlantic Canada.

I feel sorry for people who look after large buildings because it's so difficult to regulate the indoor temperatures of commercial buildings when it fluctuates so wildly. It's almost impossible to get them stable. We had the doors propped open yesterday to try to get a bit of a breeze in. Don't think that will be a problem today.

Yesterday I finished off Lloyd's resume and cover letter and got a couple of opinions at work. One expressed that Lloyd was way too qualified for anything on THIS island. I suspect that's not entirely true. Now all I have to do is find someone else who thinks that way as well.  I sent it off to him for final approval and then I'll send it out to a new company that's coming to town and see what happens. They might not mind that he's from away!

So with this extreme turn around in the weather, one must always be prepared.

This was my foot wear yesterday:

And this is what I'm wearing today - are these not the funkiest rubber boots you've ever seen?  They had them in the Marks Work Wear House flyer yesterday so I had to check them out. Unfortunately they were out of the style that I wanted (more of a slip on type) and these only came in this colour or bright yellow so I opted for these. They look quite pink in the photo but they are much more purlpley than they appear here. I thought they would be perfect for this time of year. I have lots of mud in my yard so they should work well!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday, March 22 - the end of summer is near

Somewhere in Charlottetown
It's a balmy 13' at 5:00 in the morning in the middle of March. How bizarre is that? It got up to 20' yesterday and in the sunshine it was absolutely beautiful but it's just not right. I sat outside on a lawn chair and read a magazine when I got home, while my supper was cooking in the oven. Today should be more of the same but tomorrow is back to normal and we may have snow again by the beginning of next week. We know it won't last but we're sure enjoying it while it's here. Brenda told me the other day she has tulips starting to come up.

I still have some snow around but it took a real beating yesterday, so of course now everything is mud. But if we do get more snow, it probably won't last too long.

Yesterday after much thought I decided to suspend my satellite service. I still had two programs saved on the PVR and  I can still watch those. So what did I do with myself all night long? Well, I had supper, then I sat down to work on Lloyd's resume. I had done quite a bit of it at work yesterday and the program I used indicated it was free, but it turns out that was just to actually write up the resume. In order to save it or copy it or print it you have to pay a fee. It's not a lot, only $4.95 for a 7 day window to do what you want with it but then on the 8th day you are billed $39.95 monthly for continuous use but you can cancel at any time. Yeah, right. I suspect it would be one of those things where you have to fight like crazy to get it cancelled and in the meantime you spend a ton of money. So, I had to re-create it. Too bad because the one I had was a really great one (well, in my opinion anyway). Most of it is done again but I have a little more to do. Hopefully I will finish it tonight so I can send it to Lloyd and he can give it his stamp of approval. Today I'll work on the cover letter. I did find an interesting article on what NOT to include on a resume and it was a really valuable tool.
If he has trouble finding a job here, it won't be because I didn't do the best I could!

I worked on that until around 10:00 then went upstairs and read for a bit before going to sleep. It's amazing how much time I have to do other things when I'm not parked in front of the TV.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday, March 21st - what a beautiful day we had yesterday

It's currently 3' outside and heading for 16 sunny degrees this afternoon. It's a little chilly in the house this morning because I didn't need to light the fire yesterday afternoon so it's cool right now but I know it will warm up later. I filled up my wood last night because I know I'm not done with it yet! There will still be many cool evenings when I'll be grateful to be able to keep it going. But today I shouldn't need it.

I picked up a few branches last night after getting the wood done, then came inside and had something to eat. By that time the day was pretty much over. I've caught up on the TV shows I had taped and I'm giving serious consideration to suspending my satellite for a few months as there are so many other things I could be doing with my time. It just seems so easy to park myself in front of the TV and before I know it the evening is over. Maybe if I don't have that available I'll make better use of my time - especially now that it's daylight so much later in the day.  I know we will still have some cold weather ahead and that's fine but that's no excuse to become such a couch potato.

Brenda and Bernie are heading off to Boston this morning. Hopefully they won't have any break downs this trip. If the weather is anything like it is here, it will be lovely travelling.  But it is March so you never know what you could run into down the road. Rumour has it we could get some snow on Saturday or Sunday. After this week that will be a brutal awakening.

Well, not much to write about this morning so I will leave you with some words of wisdom  someone sent me as quoted by the legendary John Wayne:

Five Rules to Remember in Life

1. Money cannot buy happiness but its more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle.
2. Forgive your enemy but remember the bastard's name.
3. Help someone when they are in trouble and they will remember you when they're in trouble again.
4. Many people are alive only because it’s illegal to shoot them.
5. Alcohol does not solve any problems, but then again, neither does milk.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday, March 20th - okay, we're ready for some of that nice weather

After reading and hearing about the out of this world March temperatures in southern Ontario for the past week, we're really ready for a little bit of that ourselves. Today is supposed to be 13' with a bit of wind and a mix of  sun and cloud and tomorrow is heading for 16'. I hope it happens as promised because that's all everyone is talking about. Ontario is always very quick to pass on the cold wintery weather when they receive it, but they've been especially stingy about sharing the nice weather with us this time.

I'm hopeful that all the snow in front of the wood storage is cleared away so I can use the cart to fill up my wood supply. On the weekend the snow was too deep to use the cart but there wasn't enough to use the sled so hopefully I can accomplish that task this afternoon. Besides if it's 13' I want to be spending some time outdoors and enjoying it after being cooped up inside all day looking at it through giant picture windows.

Lloyd sent me this  picture of the guys at the airport relaxing in the sun after eating his Irish Stew on Saturday. We just want a little of that. I think they're really going to miss his cooking  when he leaves. Oh well, we'll certainly enjoy it out here.

I've posted the recipe for the Coconut Cream Pie that Brenda made on Sunday on At Our Island Table. Check it out. It was SOOOOO good!

Enjoying the corned beef and cabbage on Sunday evening

So Brenda has a very bad cold, as does Lloyd but they can't blame each other due to the distance. Brenda figures she caught it from one of the kids on the bus. I'm reminded of how many colds I suffered through the first year I worked in Day Care back in the 70's.  One of the girls I worked with even got the Chicken Pox and was off on Workers Comp because she contracted them at work. Go figure.
Because she was feeling a little under the weather we didn't scrap book last night. I was just as glad as I hadn't slept very well the night before and I was really quite tired. After heating up some leftovers for supper, then doing the dishes, I watched a bit of TV then went to bed. A good nights sleep and I'm ready to take on anything today has to throw at me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday, March 19th - It was VERY Irish weekend!

We had a really nice weekend, mild and sunny. so most of our snow is gone but there are still drifts hanging around. It's 4' this morning but the weather says we are only expecting a sunny high of 1' so no idea if they are wrong or it's going to get colder. Only time will tell. But we're all looking forward to 10' tomorrow and maybe 16' on Wednesday. Pretty amazing considering it's not even the first of spring yet!

Well, it was a pretty Irish weekend. We were going to have supper here on Saturday but Brenda came up with a better idea. Since St. Patrick's Day was on Saturday perhaps we should find a pub somewhere. Great idea. So we met in town after I was done work and it just turns out that our friend Marlene was at the Old Triangle and was able to snag some seats for us. It seems she and some friends had started out there with breakfast at 9:00 in the morning and were there until 10:00 that night. But we can assure you, they were not drinking that entire time. In fact they'd all had no alcohol by the time we got there at 2:30. But there was music all day and lot and lots of people so a great time was had by all. I only stayed until 5:30 so I could come home and let the dog out. But it was enough for me to get a taste of what the 'event' is here on the island. I ran into my old boss from the university there and they were also having a wonderful time.

As you can see, a great time was had by all.

Sunday was our Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner. Since we moved it to Sunday we decided to invite others as well. So there was Brenda and Bernie, Richard and Daralen, Raymond and Marlene. Brenda made a delicious coconut cream pie, Marlene brought some wonderful biscuits and Daralen brought some Irish Cream liquer. What more could any of us ask for?  Most of the meal turned out okay but not Lloyd's bread pudding. I have no idea what I did wrong. It's a dead simple process but it was mush after cooking for 3 hours so I'll have to get a tutorial next time he's here. We didn't even put it on the table, it was that disgusting. Oh well, next time. There are some things that should just be left to the experts!

The big news this morning is the rioting that took place in London Ontario. Fortunately Caitlin wasn't involved. It looks like it was mostly students from the community college in town. Not a bright thing to do.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday, March 16th - and we still have winter...

unlike our friends and family in southern Ontario. Brenda received a text message from Caitlin yesterday that she was contemplating enjoying a beverage on an outdoor patio while we drove home in freezing rain. Now I ask you, what is wrong with this picture?  It's not even spring yet, and they have 17' temperatures during the day with lows at night of 10'.  Hopefully they won't pay for this with a cold wet summer. We'll have our summer weather in the summer, thank you very much (well at least that's what we keep telling ourselves).
It's -2' this morning but it should rise to +2' with maybe some sun this afternoon so that's not really so bad.

Brenda and I went to see 'The Iron Lady' last night and I totally understand why she won the academy award. She did an amazing job in that role.

When the movie ended, we decided we would try out a new restaurant in town - a Lebanese place called Byblos.  We couldn't decide what to have so the waitress suggested a mixed platter to try out several items. We can't really say what we had because we don't really know what it was but it gave us a good idea of what we would order again and what we would not. They've done a great job with the interior of the place. I'll have to take Lloyd there when he comes next time.

James and Patti went to the Sportsman's Show in Toronto yesterday and she sent me several pictures as they toured around. I especially liked this one with the note that he'd found his first bike.

They had a fishing booth but he didn't catch a fish. I suppose that's because his papa hasn't taken him fishing yet, as promised!  Hopefully that will happen before June 1st or it will have to wait till he visits when papa is here.
But he did get a fish balloon hat!

He's always been fascinated with recreational vehicles and suggested to his mom that when he gets older he won't need a house, just an RV. We both reminded him that he could only live in there for the summer but he thought the one with a heater and a little bathroom would be fine year round. I don't think he's ever been camping in any kind of recreational vehicle so maybe it't time to do that. It might take some of the appeal away. Maybe he could camp out in Bernie's trailer the next time he comes down!

Saturday is St. Patrick's Day so we suspect the bars in town will be a zoo on Saturday night. I might be fun but I think it's probably a good place to avoid. We may do something Irish in the line of food instead. Maybe an Irish stew and some Irish soda bread, but who knows - it's a day away and anything could happen in 24 hours! Happy St. Patrick's Day to our friends of Irish descent!
(Thanks to Kay  for the pictures!)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday, March 15th - I love the Ides of March

I've always loved the Ides of March because there's always some radio announcer who tells everyone to beware. I love it because my friend Cathy's birthday is today and it's always a reminder for me.  So, if you read this, Happy Birthday Cathy!

Well, we got some snow but I don't think it's any 20 cm. It's always a little hard to tell out here on the hill because if there's any wind at all it blows around so some spots are bare and others are drifted. Not easy to get a feel for quantity until I get out on the road. But from the back door, it doesn't look too bad. Of course I was a little envious yesterday when I checked the Toronto weather to see that they were sitting at a sunny 17' and likely to remain that way through to the beginning of next week where it's predicted to be 20' on Monday. Come on guys, it's not even spring yet.  While it would be nice, it's not right. I'd much rather have that weather in summer, thank you very much. I'd be afraid if we had that now, we might have a cold and wet summer and who needs that? Certainly not us! So we'll take the snow in March, where it's supposed to be.

I'm sure that weather will mess up some Ontario folks plans for March Break. It's nice but not beach weather and anyone who planned to go skiing on their holiday is pretty much out of luck. I'm sure they'll find other things to do but how weird is that?

I was talking to Lloyd last night and he's decided to stay at his current job until June 1st. He feels he needs that amount of time to finish off the plane as well as have time to put the flying hours on it that it will require. I am a little disappointed that it will be that much longer but the time will pass quickly. He also decided not to come down for Easter as he can use that time for building. He'll have to come down to pick up the car but he can do that on the 24th of May weekend. Then he won't have to find a place to park the car and trailer until June. It will all work out in the end. I still have trouble believing it will be over 3 years since this all took place. Sometimes it feels like a really long time but other times it feels like it was only a few months ago.

I was hoping to put in a vegetable garden this summer so hopefully we can rent a rototiller while he's here in May and get it ready and we can plant it when he gets here. That will still be lots of time.

Tonight Brenda and I are going to see The Artist. It's playing at the little theatre downtown. It's our favorite place to go to see movies. The Iron Lady hasn't played there yet but we expect it will in the next couple of months. That's the other one we really want to see. Next week we can get back on track with our scrapbooking nights.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday, March 14th - a quiet evening

It was errily quiet at the Denny house last night. All the bustle and activity is gone and it was just Cooper and I waiting for the snowstorm, which this morning isn't much of a storm. There are a few cms of new snow on the ground but not too much. The wind hasn't started as yet, to speak of, but we may get more snow throughout the day today. The upside is it doesn't look like we received any freezing rain, but then it's kind of hard to tell until I actually go outside. It's only -3' at 5:30 and we're heading for 0' later today.

It looks like they made their flights yesterday with no trouble. I received a picture Patti sent of James walking through the Montreal airport. Seems there were a few raised eyebrows as he went through, although I'm not surprised. Most kids his age have to be tied down to get them dressed up like this.  I know the guys at my work were quite impressed. All he needed to complete the look was a laptop or I-pad.

So after a bit of TV and some laundry, I called it a night and got a great night's sleep. Lots of activity as well as the time change finally caught up with me I think. I'm sure everyone slept well last night, back home in their own beds.

And finally this little story to bring a smile to your face this morning, because many of us have been there...





















Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday, March 13th - a sad grandma this morning

Well, everyone is on their way home, despite several last minute requests of "please mommy, can't we stay just one more day?"  Yesterday was another beautiful day with the temperature reaching a sunny 7'.  I left home at 7:00 and everyone was still fast asleep, including the dog. I called home around 9:00 and they had just gotten up around 8:30. I think their weekend has finally caught up with them.

It was a fairly quiet day, just hanging around. Tristen and his mom baked some cookies so he could bring them to work but Jamie wasn't there. He'll have to get his this morning. But everyone else who was there really enjoyed them. Before they came to get  me they went to the pool for a final swim. They love the slide there.

We had decided to go to see The Lomax which didn't start until 6:40. The timing was perfect. We had time to go downtown and have something to eat at the Old Triangle. Then it was off to the movies. James questioned how they could make a two hour movie out of a 10 minute book, but apparently it's possible. It was a cute movie and everyone enjoyed it.

On the way home we stopped in at Brenda and Bernie's to deliver a thank you card the kids had made for them. We had a quick cup of tea and then we were off. A quick tour through the house to pack up everything and then it was off to bed for some sleep before our 4:00 am wake up call.

We got up this morning to a pleasant -1' so going outside wasn't too bad a shock to the system. Of course today they are predicting up to 10 cm of snow by tomorrow morning. Just what we could have used when they were here.

We got everything loaded into the trunk and off we headed. I got a call from Patti shortly before 6:00 advising that they had indeed gotten on the flight, so they are bound for Montreal as I write this. James of course, looked ever so dapper in his suit and tie.

ZZ Top had it right - every girl's crazy for a sharp dressed man!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday, March 12th - I get one more day with the family!

It may not be spring yet - this morning it's -2' and we're headed for a sunny + 4' this afternoon but looking ahead it's predicting 5 to 10 cm of snow on Tuesday.  If that happens, it won't be around long according to the temperatures predicted for the rest of the week. I suppose it's that time of year when it can be anything.

So yesterday Patti got James hockey schedule and  it looks like they can stay one more day. Needless to say we were all pretty happy about that. The day started off chilly but that didn't stop Tristen, the true outdoors man of the group, to be outside sliding on the hill by 7:30 in the morning. At various times of the day, he'll just put his coat and boots and and announce that he's going sliding, usually all by himself. He's definitely gotten the most mileage out of that little hill this trip.

We made fish cakes for breakfast with the left over fish from the medieval feast the night before. I didn't put any salt in the mixture as I assumed there was enough in the brined fish, but in reality they could have used a bit more. But they were still okay. A handful of shrimp tossed in with the the cod and steelhead trout, mashed potatoes and some onions, dipped in flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs - I can just tell papa's mouth is watering right now!

After cleaning up the dishes - again - we got down to prepping the ingredients for our New Orleans feast. Everyone pitched in and the chopping of all the veggies took no time at all. Patti and Meghan made the gumbo, that was really delicious. Then they made the pralines. It's been a while since I had a freshly made praline and I'd forgotten just how tasty they are - but they must have a million calories so no wonder they taste so good.

Once we had all our prep done, it was time to clean up a bit. Patti and the kids took Cooper and went for a walk in the back fields while I swept and mopped the kitchen floor. Then I went out to join them. I found them way back in the woods where they had found what must be a low spot that had flooded because they had their own little skating rink that they spent a lot of time sliding around on. We made our way back and half way up to the house was another flooded area that I ventured over to check out. Not a great idea. I managed to put my foot through the ice and sunk my right boot completely under water. Needless to say my toes were sloshing around inside until we got back. Once back we set about filling up the wood and with so much help it took no time at all.

Then we tackled the inside - cleaning the bathroom, sweeping and generally tidying up before company arrived. Meghan made place cards and there was considerable discussion about the seating arrangements - seems everyone wanted to sit beside Bernie.

When Brenda and Bernie arrived they brought a  game called Apples to Apples for the kids. They had great fun playing it after supper and we all had a game later in the evening after baths. That was really nice of the Van Gaals and the kids really enjoyed it.

Supper was a success. The Gumbo was really delicious and the jambalaya was also very good. It's been a while since I made either of those recipes. Meghan and Patti made beignets for dessert to go with our pralines. Brenda would have really enjoyed them if they hadn't had nuts in them and I never thought that we could have made a couple without nuts. Next time we'll know better.

Napping on the chair
The scary part of the evening came later on. The dog was sleeping on the chair and every once in a while he would open his eyes to see what we were up to. He'd had a busy day romping in the woods. I was in the kitchen when the kids started yelling for me to come quick. We determined that he had some type of seizure.  He was walking across the floor and suddenly collapsed and you could tell from his eyes that he had no awareness of his surroundings and his whole body was shaking. It was pretty scary. Patti picked him up and we laid him on the couch and after a few minutes he was fine again. I called the vet clinic and they had someone call me back. By the time they called back he was okay again. I had a lengthy chat with the vet who called, and she asked me a lot of questions. She suggested that from what we described it was possibly an epileptic seizure. She asked how old he was and when I told her 5 years old, she said that was about the time they start if they are going to develop them - usually between 5 and 7 years. She said to just monitor things and if it happens again to take him to the vets and they will do bloodwork to see what they can find out. But I will call them this morning and make an appointment. He's overdue for his shots anyway. It was a scary few minutes. Thank goodness we had a health care professional on hand. She suggested that it seemed to her like a seizure and it turns out she was right.  But once he came out of it he seemed his old self again in a matter of about 10 minutes total. I'm glad there will be someone home today to monitor the day after.

So this morning I'm off to work so they're all on their own this morning. I'm not positive what we're doing tonight but we may be taking in a movie. We'll see how the day progresses and what everyone wants to do.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday, March 11th - A return to the Middle Ages

Hanging out at Lakeside
Saturday was a pretty relaxed day. When the kids were done breakfast (baked banana donuts and fruit salad)  we just hung around and then went over to the beach. It was a fairly pleasant day, with -1' temperatures but it was colder at the shore. We had a great time running and playing on the sand. We took pictures and ventured out onto the ice (but cautiously).
On the way home we tried to find another place for sliding but without much luck. We thought the road past the lot on Five Houses Road might be a good choice but it wasn't steep enough and I think the snow had just gotten a little too soft. So then we headed over to the Fort Augustus Playground. After sliding around on the ice and playing on the equipment we headed for home. Everyone decided that the hill in front of Grandma's house was the best spot after all.

After we got home made panini sandwiches and hot chocolate. Then it was time to start prepping James' medieval feast. The menu he had planned went something like this:

  • Pan fried brined fish
  • Goat Stew served in bread bowls
  • Roast leg of lamb with roast potatoes and carrots
  • Cheese wafers and apple slices

It took a lot of chef to prep all those veggies

There was lots of help to prep the stew. It included chunks of carrots, parsnips, celery, turnips, onion and garlic, pan seared goat meat and some stewed tomatoes.

Adding the seared goat to the stew pot

Once everything was cut up and ready, it was put into a clay baker, soaked in cold water and then put into a cold oven to simmer.

While the stew was cooking we hollowed out the bread bowls for the stew,

When it was close to being done, we put the carrots and potatoes in the bottom of a pan and the leg of lamb on top.

The cod being pan fried
Once that was almost ready, we pan fried the fish and served it on wooden boards (no glass dishes allowed). One exception was the ceramic tankards for the ale (served mixed with Beer, which we were told was quite authentic). On more than one occasion through out the prep, we commented that this was a  classic example of  "a little knowledge being a dangerous thing".  We were also required to eat entirely by candle light - something that didn't quite go over so well with our youngest diner.

The fish was very salty (as we expected it would be) but we managed to eat it anyway. Once you got used to the saltiness it wasn't so bad.

The finished stew in a bread bowl

The stew was very good although Patti would have preferred it without the goat meat. It wasn't her favorite. It was served in a bread bowl and the bowl was Tristen's favorite part of that dish.

The roast leg of lamb and veggies

The lamb and vegetables was probably the favorite. Everyone seemed to like that one.

Presentation was everything?

The final course was something called Cheese
Wafers - a recipe that James had copied out of the book he had read. It was a plain dough made simply with eggs, flour and a bit of salt. In retrospect it might have been good boiled like pasta. It was meant to be fried in a pan until golden and then topped with a piece of cheese until the cheese melted. The wafer part was very doughy but we managed to eat it. If you combined it with a piece of apple it wasn't really too bad.

All in all it was a really interesting evening. We sat at the table for over 2 hours and it created some lasting memories!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday, March 10th - an electrifying experience

This morning we woke up to a chilly -5' but bright sunshine. Yesterday was a warm 7' and a great day to go swimming. I had to go into work for a little bit so I dropped everyone off at the pool. We'd finished our bread which turned out wonderfully, and it was time for some rest and relaxation. It had been a very busy morning, baking bread, making crepes, cleaning strawberries, whipping cream - exhausting!

Everyone had a piece of hot bread fresh out of the oven and all declared it a success. While they were at the pool I stopped in at the grocery store and picked up some stuff we needed then went to work. I still wasn't done when they were finished so I went and picked them up and brought them back to work with me. James had dazzled everyone on Thursday when he arrived in a suit and tie so he didn't have to do anything to impress anyone yesterday - they were already in awe that a kid that age WANTED to dress like that!

When we finally got home, we made pizza dough and then we each made our own pizza. A bit of TV and it was time to get to bed. That's when the lights went out - well in part of the house anyway. But we were going to bed  so we didn't worry about it till morning.

In the morning the sun was shining brightly and all the water from yesterday was frozen solid. SO the kids were outside in the front yard by 7:30 sliding down the ice. A great time was had by all. In the meantime I went down to the basement to see that all the breakers on one panel were flipped off. So I flipped them back but nothing happened. We had power in the living room and the bedrooms on that side of the house but nothing in the kitchen or either porch. We also didn't have any water either.

So I did what everyone in the community would do - I called Bernie. He said he would finish his coffee and be over and take a look before I called an electrician.  He and Brenda arrived shortly after and the problem was fixed. I don't know what he did but he opened up the panel and did something and all was well. He assured me there was nothing  to worry about. I'm sure it was in part due to the excellent help he had from James and Meghan.

We were back in business. So we made some fruit salad with a pineapple we had on hand (left from the pizza) and some oranges and grapefruit and apples I'd gotten from someone at work who was selling them for some fundraiser. We also tried out the Banana Baked Donuts. We had 12 large and 12 minis and there were none left. Needless to day they were a hit!

So, now we're all cleaned up and ready to head to the beach for a walk and to do some exploring.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday, March 9th - the troops are here!

After a gorgeous sunny 10' day yesterday, we woke up this morning to 7' and rain. It looks like that's what we'll have for the rest of the day, turning a little cooler this afternoon. Needless to say, cross country skiing is now off the table. Not an option. But we'll manage to keep busy. Probably a trip to the pool this afternoon.

James has all kinds of ideas he wants to try for a medieval feast he learned about at school. Apparently it involved rabbit and brined fish and all sorts of different things. So yesterday they picked up some fish while they waited for me to get finished work and we made a brine after supper and it's sitting in there. He says it has to sit there for a couple of days. I'm a little skeptical about that one but we'll see.  They also have the menu planned for their New Orleans menu on Sunday. It will be a busy time in the Denny kitchen.

In fact it started early this morning with a batch of bread. Some first hand experience was gained at kneading. After a couple of minutes Meghan was an expert and giving instruction to her little brother. We're going to have crepes this morning with fresh strawberries so we can play with the new crepe maker.

As I write this Meghan is sitting beside me writing in her journal. Today is a good day, so far, but I have no doubt at some point in the day it will become "THE WORST DAY EVER!!!" which James says happens pretty much every day!

We had a simple supper last night - mini burgers and french fries. Nothing too fancy - even though Patti texted Greg and told him we had just finished boiled lobster and butter, mussels and medium rare steak! But she did tell him she was just kidding. And Greg might be glad he's not here for the rabbit stew James wants to make. I told him if we can't find rabbit, we always have some goat meat in the freezer. He decided that will work equally well.

Stay tuned for news over the weekend.....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thursday, March 8th - but it feels like Friday!!!

Okay, it's the 8th of March and the temperature is 2' at 5:00 am  and we're heading for a mostly sunny 9' later. How bizarre is this? It should be beautiful by the time Patti and the kids get here. Unfortunately it will play havoc with our snow, as will the mild rainy day in store for tomorrow. But we'll keep our fingers crossed. It's supposed to be colder again on Saturday and with any luck at all, there might still be enough snow to cross country ski, but it might be too slippery. I'm not holding my breathe on that one.

Today's weather was all everyone talked about yesterday. I truly hope it turns out as nice as everyone is expecting or there will be a lot of disappointed islanders.The up side is they've taken the rain out of the forecast and replaced it with sun so it might be even better than we expected. Let's hope. I was watching the Toronto news last night and they had the nice weather yesterday - well nicer actually. It was 16' in Toronto and everyone was out taking advantage of it. Golfers, people in the parks, outside patios - we Canadians do love the first warm weather of the spring. But we know's this isn't it yet.

I did get a text message from Brenda yesterday that she was at Dalvay waiting for her cousin to go skiing. I must admit I was  a little envious. But my turn will come when I don't have to go to work everyday and can take advantage of those opportunities.

Well, not much else to report right now. I have a couple of little things to do before the kids get here today so I'm off!  (3 days off!!!!! YAAAAAAY)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday, March 7th - so far the snow is still here but...

We're heading for a high of 0' today but it will get milder overnight. Our high tomorrow is expected to be 9' but there's a good chance of rain on Friday. Hopefully it won't be enough to ruin all the snow. It's a clear morning with a bright full moon and no wind but it's a chilly -12' right now. That will change...

Quiet day yesterday. Although I did get a comment on yesterday's blog from a university student in Nova Scotia asking if I might answer some questions for her and give her some feedback on how things have changed on the island in the past few years. It appears to be a paper she's working on. So I emailed back and suggested that I've only been here for a short 3 years but my friend Brenda would be a better choice. So I sent this girl - Iris - the contact information she needed to get hold of Brenda. I called Brenda but didn't get an answer so I sent a text message. Turns out she never got the message but she did get a call from Iris. Of course she was a little blindsided by the call. So after talking to Iris she called me. I did explain that  I had tried unsuccessfully to get hold of her but yes, it was in fact me that connected the two. So in the end, Brenda agreed to talk to Iris but she also still wants to ask me some questions. So I may be hearing from her again. Brenda's only concern was "I won't be reading this in the Guardian, will I?"  A very valid question but I'm fairly certain we're safe there.  So you just never know who's out there reading your silly little blog.

Brenda called me again later in the day to invite me to supper - seems she had cooked a ham and scalloped potatoes (that's potato scallop here on the island, but on the main land it's scalloped potatoes). Since this is one of my favorite meals, how could I refuse?

So a pleasant dinner and then home again. I have a couple of things to do before the family gets here but nothing too serious.

I got this email from our friend Richard yesterday, and I thought it described Cooper's life pretty accurately:

It's just dawned on me....
My  dog sleeps about 20 hours a  day.
He  has his food prepared for him. He can eat whenever he wants.

His meals are provided at no cost to him.

He visits the Dr. once a year for his checkup, and again during the year if any medical
needs arise.

For this he pays nothing and nothing is required of him.

He lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than he needs and he is
not required to do any upkeep..

If he makes a mess, someone else cleans it up.

He has his choice of luxurious places to sleep.

He receives these accommodations absolutely free.

He is living like a King, and has absolutely no expenses whatsoever..

All of his costs are picked up by others who go out and earn a living every day.

I was just thinking about all this, and suddenly it hit me like a brick  ........

OMG! I think my dog is a member of Parliament!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday, March 6th - 2 more sleeps!

It's a mild -6' this morning and will stay around -4' this afternoon. We have another cm or so of snow on the ground but I'm concerned it might be gone by the weekend. Thursday is predicted to get to 9' and rain and that will really make a mess of things. So we'll just have to see. Yesterday morning we had a good 7 or cms of light fluffy  snow out here but in town it was more like 2 cms. Doesn't bode well for Brookvale, but we'll see.

It was a fairly mild day yesterday. I think it hovered around the freezing point all day but you can definitely feel spring in the air.. Even in the morning when I was brushing the snow off the car, you could hear birds chirping in the trees, so it definitely had a spring feel to it.

Last night Brenda was supposed to have a meeting but it got cancelled so she was able to come over and do some scrapbooking. We generally work from 7:00 to 9:00 and then we'e done. While she was here I got a phone call from two of the kids. Meghan and Tristen where at Lloyd's because "My mom's at work, James is at a hockey game and we don't know where my dad is. Oh yeah, he has a meeting",  They were calling from Papa's I-Pad so they thought that was pretty cool. And they seemed quite excited about coming down here for the weekend.

When we finished up the pages we were working on, we had a cup of tea and a slice of Mandarin Orange Cake. I've made it for Brenda before and she really likes it. so as requested, the recipe is now on the other site. (Click on the name to be redirected)

Tonight and tomorrow I'll do a bit of cleaning and some laundry to get ready for my guests on Thursday. Other than that, it's a pretty quite time but I know that will change by the end of the week!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Monday, March 5th - it's been a quiet and mild weekend

Our weekend was very mild. I was hoping that all of our snow would be here for the next week but now I'm not sure sure.  There's a blanket of fresh, light and fluffy snow on the ground this morning, with more scattered flurries expected throughout the day. The temperature this morning is -1', which is about as good as it will get today but we are maybe looking for rain later in the week. Hopefully they will be wrong.

Brenda and Bernie arrived home around 9:00 on Friday night and it had been a very snowy drive for the entire day. That was not the case here. And Saturday morning dawned just below freezing but with a threat of rain. I'm amazed to realize that it's daylight so early now. I was just about out of wood in the house and when I woke up on Saturday morning at 6:30 it was very bright outside. When I let the dog out I was pleasantly surprised to find it not too cold and not windy in the least. I had half a stack of wood in before 7:00 and still had lots of time to get ready for work. That's  the one good thing about working Saturdays - I don't have to be there till 9:00.

We were meant to get up to 5 cm of snow before it turned to rain but the snow never materialized. We did, however, get the rain, and lot of it. It didn't start until later in the day but rain, it did. Brenda called me at work to suggest we have supper and I had just the idea. I'd been collecting the newspaper sections that come out once a week with recipes in them. I decided it was time to go through them and type out the ones I might actually make some day and get rid of the rest. So that's what I was working on when she called. I had just typed up a pasta recipe that sounded tasty - Cajun Shrimp Linguine - so I picked up what we needed on my way home.

I went home for a bit, and gathered together the remaining ingredients required for our dinner. Then I sat down to watch a program I had downloaded on the computer. It was an old,  short lived TV series I had started watching and there were a total of 20 episodes. I watched two before heading over to Fort Augustus to make supper.

As usual, we had great fun cooking, chatting and catching up on our week while enjoying a glass of wine. When it all came together, we summoned Bernie to the table and we enjoyed our dinner. Bernie would like to see slightly less cayenne as he found it a bit too hot for his taste but Brenda and I enjoyed it as is. After our meal we had an apple pudding cake type of dessert that Brenda had made,  with ice cream. The apples were delicious and the cake layer was light and fluffy. She was given this recipe a long time ago and it's definitely one worth keeping. I'm hoping she will share it with me so I can add it to our list.  Another wonderful evening.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny. I was awakened to bright sun shining in the bedroom window  - I love waking up that way. It wasn't very cold although it was below freezing but it didn't take long for the sun to melt the frost on the cars. It turned out to be a nice day, although the wind did pick up a little bit later in the morning. It wasn't a great day for skiing and Brenda needed to go and spend some time with another old friend.

So I gave HER the day off  this time, and spent a quiet day at home. I did a few things around the house but I'm a little embarrassed to say I spent most of it sitting in front of the computer. I totally got into the series I had started watching on Saturday afternoon and try as I might, I just couldn't drag myself away. It was like reading a really good book that you just couldn't put down. So needless to say my day was pretty much wasted but you know what?   I don't care!   Lloyd always used to accuse me of never just doing nothing - well today was the day. But the upside is that I finished all 20 episodes so now I can get on with my life!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday, March 2 - a night of Rock and Roll - without Grandma

It's a calm -10' this morning, much better than the really cold morning yesterday. We're warming up to -3' and a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. We may get some rain tomorrow but I hope not too much. I really want there to be some snow when the kids get here next weekend.

So, yesterday afternoon Patti and I were texting back and forth about what the kids would like to do when they are here. At the end of one of the message she mentioned that she and James were going to see 'Hedley'  last night. James has become quite a fan in the past year or so. Then a little while later I received this message from her:

"Hedley" at the pet store

Oh my god, we just stopped at the pet store to get Meadow some food, and Hedley was there! They were buying fish. They let me take a picture. Too bad James wasn't with us!

I can only imagine how disappointed James must have been to miss the chance to meet them up close and personal.

This morning I got this message from Patti

Well, here we are. The opening acts just ended, and we are waiting for the main event. Its times like this that I wish you were still here, cause then I could stay home while you take him to these things! (Haha)

It seems the Rock and Roll gene skipped a generation! (ha ha )
I would have loved to be able to take him to the concert last night, and last year. I was so thrilled that I got to take Meghan to her first concert - Taylor Swift. As I said at that time, when she was standing on her chair waving my lit cell phone back and forth in time to the music (lack of bic lighters these days) I knew that my work there was done - she totally gets it! (and not everyone does). I suppose there are worse things they could have inherited from their grandma...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday, March 1st - already???

It's a chilly -15' this morning with a light dusting of new snow on the ground. It's expected to warm up to -8' this afternoon with a mix of sun and cloud. Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful sunny day although a little cold. But if you were inside enjoying the sunshine it was great. Good thing as the tulip truck broke down and the Van Gaals spent three hours sitting on the side of the road waiting for assistance to arrive because of a broken fan belt.  Gotta love the text messaging! At one point Brenda, Meghan, Caitlin, Will  and I were all involved in the same conversation. We pretty much had the entire country in the loop! But it was sunny where they were and warm inside the truck. A perfect place for a nap and really, what else could you do? But eventually they were on their way and signed off as they crossed the border. Hopefully the rest of the trip will be uneventful.

I'm slowly making progress on my weaving project. It's tightly woven, which isn't what I had initially intended but when it's finished it will be a very soft, very warm scarf! I'm really glad I have something on the loom so the kids can see how it works.  There was nothing on it when James was here in the summer and he was very curious to see how it worked.

It's pretty quiet this time of year, with not a lot going on. (It's amazing how much free time you have when there's no grass to cut!) I pretty much come home at night, make some supper then either work on weaving, or crochet or watch a bit of TV and then it's time for bed. I'm making some crocheted dish cloths. They are quite an old fashioned thing to make but I love them. I had a couple a few years ago that a friend in Guelph had made for me but they wore out. Brenda gave me one a couple of weeks ago along with a pattern to make my own. Some are knitted and some are crocheted but I'm really not much of a knitter so I'm crocheting some. I have one finished although it's a bit small. I'm using a slightly smaller size hook that what it calls for because that's all I could find (but I know I have more SOMEWHERE). I'm using a bigger stitch and a different pattern for the second one and it's going to be quite a bit bigger but I'm okay with that. What I really like about it is it's pretty mindless stuff and I can do it while I'm watching TV. It appears  the rest of the winter will pretty much be about the fibre crafts.