Monday, February 28, 2011

Seeds!

Hip hip hooray! It's the first of March and I can start some seeds. The thought of getting dirt under my fingernails is a definite turn on to me. I know... I know...I am a bit weird when it comes to my gardening of vegetables. Flowers I can leave. Except for sunflowers as they entice the bees to my garden.

My friend who has a CSA garden has already started stuff. Primarily tomatoes I think. They'll be huger than huge by the time I get mine started. But, I don't have a greenhouse like she does. Lucky girl. So I have to wait. Oh and I have a total of 20+ different varieties of tomato seeds to grow from. I won't grow that many types... but, oh it's so nice to have them.

I will be starting, brussel sprouts and peppers. I have only one variety of sprouts. But, peppers I have a couple of different kinds. Of course I have the big ole ones you see in the grocery store and then I have some heirloom/heritage ones too. I am definitely planting Jimmy Nardellos again this year. They are a small, sweet frying Italian pepper. Plus, there's such an interesting story behind the seeds. You can read the story here if you are interested; http://seventrees.blogspot.com/2008/04/who-is-jimmy-nardello.html

Anyway, all this really means is winter is coming to a close soon. I can hardly wait!!!!!

Can you?

Can you do nothing for 2 minutes?
Hit the link below and see if you possibly can sit still for 2 whole minutes.
I could and did but, then again I almost fell asleep listening to the sound of the waves. :-> )

http://www.donothingfor2minutes.com/

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where is the Sun?

We have had no real sun for the past couple of days. Grey days and snowing. Not much snow to write home about but, enough to create miserable days.

Each morning when I get up I always check the weather forecast for the day and the coming week. Our week ahead doesn't hold much promise for better weather. Unless you consider the temperatures. They will be above freezing starting tomorrow and going on for the next couple of days. But, there is only ONE day we are going to get to see the sun. The other days will be cloudy with either rain (!) or, snow in the forecast.

Sigh.... is winter never going to end this year? It seems as though it has hung on long enough to me. Or, do I just have a bad case of cabin fever this year? Or, is it that I am longing to get my fingers dirty and I can't? I am yearning for Spring and it seems so far away... sigh.

Here's a picture from one of my lilac bushes this past year. It's up as my desktop background so I can see it all the time. It's a sure sign of spring when I see the lilacs in bloom. Well late spring anyway. Sigh.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Today's post

Strangely enough is below yesterday's post.
Hmm.... wonder what's up with that?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How Would You Do?

http://playspent.org/

This is an interesting game to see how you would live on limited funds.
The premise is you have to take a job to support your family.
The only option for work you are given is a low paying job without benefits of any kind.
This game follows you through the month tracking your spending.
You get your weekly paycheck and the real game begins.

The game has a number of mishaps and misadventures it presents to you.
It tracks food shopping for one.
Would you pay your electric or, water bill if you could only afford to pay one of them?
What would you give up.... watching your child in a school play or, another day of work when your funds are rock bottom and there's no food in the house?
What choices would you make?
Would you risk losing your dead end low paying job for stopping to talk to a union rep?
You have $100 in the bank.... no insurance.... you ding someone's car in a parking lot. Do you leave your name and number or, do you just leave?

Play the game.... see where you stand or, don't stand on your ethics and morals when cash is tight and it's either feed the family (or, not) and work or, go without. Or, maybe even lose your job.

There are an estimated 12.5 million unemployed right now in the US.
In Canada... it's 7.8% of the job force out of work.
These are staggering numbers.
Go play the game and see is my suggestion.

Foolish Jocularity

NCPR Photo of the Day for 02/24/2011

After being so serious yesterday, I am doing something different.

Have you by any chance ever seen one of these?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pink Shirt Day February 23, 2011 PSA



Do you know about Pink Shirt Day?
It's all about calling attention to bullying.
What you just watched was the PSA (public service ad) for it.
Here's the link to the Canadian site; http://www.pinkshirtday.ca/
The site isn't just for Canadians, it's for everyone.
It talks about ways to prevent bullying, laws being enacted
to prevent it, tougher stands taken by the States and the
Provinces.
Take a stand. Talk to your kids. Help. No one, and I mean no one,
should have to go through this. And, especially not alone.
From someone who was bullied.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's Monday and I need a good laugh



I hope this makes you smile. Life is way too short not to enjoy the laughing of a baby. In this case the laughing of 4 babies.
I have seen this any number of times. I guess I might be a tad strange but, every time I see it I laugh like a fool.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Cold ass Sunday

I can't believe the difference 24 hours can make on the outside weather and how I view it and respond to it. Two days ago it was almost but, not quite shorts and tee shirt weather. Here this morning I awoke to a -15 C with a wind chill factor of - 21!

I know, I know... it's still February. And, I still live in Ontario, Canada. Canada for god's sake is way the heck above the 24th parallel latitude of Key West, Fl. I am closer to the 44th parallel of Kingston, ON, and man oh man, the difference in temperatures variations between these two places is EXTREME. And, yes, I am shouting about it. AGH!

I guess you could say I have cabin fever. Definition of cabin fever (I like the term HYSTERIA in this one): A type of hysteria brought on by spending too much time indoors in small cramped quarters. During the cold winter months as temps drop, daylight hours are shortened considerably. Add to the fact the shortage of sun light, caused by an increase in mostly cloudy days and there you got it..... the perfect ingredients for a chronic case of Cabin Fever. I right now am prone to this as the last months of winter linger on and I am in hostile despair, as the winter goes on and on and on.

Even though the best Cabin Fever cure is for me to stay busy, this could add to my "fever". Instead I could kick back, listen to the river and watch the deer amble by. Not! I don't have a river close by and if the deer were ambling by they would at this time of the year be gnawing on my garden's fruit tree trunks and tender limbs cause they are hungry.

Or better yet, I could be imagining my body basking in the warm seductive sunlight, hair fluttering in a warm breeze and my toes nestled in the white sand of the Caribbean. (Key West, maybe?) Or, crank up some vintage Buffett, wiggle into my flipflops and mix a margarita--a sure way to cure a Cabin Fever Daze.

I guess what I am saying is; remember to celebrate, love and laugh. Mine and your fling with spring is just around the corner.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Spring time Treat


Draw your own spring flower garden.

Planting time?

I have a friend who started her tomato plants yesterday. I was amazed and excited. Amazed at how early she got started and excited because I know soon I will be doing the same thing.

Our situations for our gardens are a bit different and she grows for a CSA whereas I grow for our own use. And, with the warming trend we have had for the past three days.... I too wanted to do some seed starting. But, I had to put the brakes on..... whoa Nellie... and stop myself from becoming too exuberant and planting everything I have.

I will though in another couple of weeks be starting the pepper plants. They take a bit longer to germinate and have a longer growing season. I want them to be ready when the tomato plants are fruiting heavily. That way when I start my canning marathon all the most used items for the canning will be ready in the garden at the same time.

Today I'd like to go and grab up a couple of boxes of clementine oranges. I have used up all those I had on the canning shelves and should really get on the stick and can some more. They are so good when just refrigerated and eaten straight out of the jar during the heat of the summer.

Last week I found down in the bowels of the chest freezer a couple of bags of raspberries. I made some of the most delicious jam out of those berries. I even went so far as to strain the seeds out. Which I have never done before. But, I am here to attest.... seedless raspberry jam is to die for!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Better Times

I spent yesterday out of the house. (Not all my readers know I have been sick with the flu for the past week so this was a much needed break.) The weather was overcast but, did not matter much as the temperatures were hovering around zero all day. Woo hoo! Today is supposed to be even warmer with RAIN showers, not snow. Even nicer. (Is that Spring I see lurking around the corner?)

I did get a hold of my friend, Lisa like I blogged about yesterday. Since we live quite a distance from each other (almost 70kms) we agreed to meet half way. She had a couple of errands do in this particular town as did I, so it worked out well for our meeting place.

We met, we talked, we laughed and we had a great time well, except for the crappy lunch we had. But, that's another story. She is a wonderful listener. Because I am in the process of getting my permanent resident status here in Canada (which is why I can't leave the country) she gives me the Canadian take on issues as she used to work for the Canadian government. She knows the ins and the outs and sees different ways to go about doing things I would never know or, think to do.

I came away from our meeting (which was way too short) remembering the hug she gave me, the insights into the craziness surrounding me she helped me to see and the knowing I have a great friend in her.

PS Thanks to all of you who left comments yesterday on my blog. You ladies are great. I really appreciate your concern and the thoughtful comments you left for me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Times They are a Changin'

I have a bunch of stuff going on in my life. I have been trying to deal with all of it and it's ramifications by myself. It doesn't seem to be working. I need help. The best way I know to get the help is to ask. So I have asked....

Today I called (emailed actually) a dear friend who lives close by and asked her to lunch. Even though money is tight.... I will pay for our lunches. For she too is having money issues. But, I need and want her take on what is changing. I need another's ear to listen to me.... rant, cry, be angry and then take the time to tell me their feelings and thoughts.

I hate this alone-ness I am feeling. I live a long way away from my family. I can not cross the border to go and visit them. In April it will have been two long years since I have seen any of them. I miss them especially now even more.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Valentines Day - early



This in honor of Valentines day on Monday.
The music is "Love's Theme" by the late great Barry White.
(Plus, I am still sick.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Food Storage and Survival Blog

I added the blog called Food Storage and Survival to "My Blog List" because the blog owner, Angela, believes and practices much of the same things I do. Her posts are quite relevant and she has done a wide range of appealing blogs on a long list of subjects. For example, today's blog entry was about seed saving from cucumbers. I never would have thought to have tried this till I read her blog. I have saved a gazillion seeds from different vegetables and flower types but, never thought to try cukes. Now, I know this is possible.

Today she is changing up her blog (it looks really great Angela!) and in doing so and to bring more traffic to her blog she has a big give-away going on. Please go on over and see what she's talking about first and foremost.And, of course enter to win one of her great give-away gifts. (There's like 9 different things she is giving away, any one of which I would accept. LOL!)

Soup on a Sick Day


  • Slightly Lumpy but oh so good Cream of Corn soup

  • 1 can of whole corn kernels or equivalent amount of frozen corn
  • 4 cups (about 1 l) milk, whole or 2%, or evaporated canned milk
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stock cube of your flavour choice (me I prefer chicken)
  • salt and pepper

Optional lumps:

  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 4 Tbs. white flour

Equipment: immersion (stick) blender, regular stand blender or food processor

Slice the onion thinly. Cut the potato into small chunks.

Heat the butter in a thick-bottomed pan. Add the onions and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the milk and all the other ingredients, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the corn kernels for later. Heat up slowly over medium-low heat, and simmer until the potato is totally tender. Take the bay leaf out.

In the meantime, make the lumps. (This is basically a badly made roux.) Melt the butter in a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the flour. Blend and stir until you have a rather lumpy mix. Set aside.

Blend the soup with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender or food processor, until smooth. Add a little water if if it’s too thick. Add the reserved corn kernels.

Add the lumpy roux and stir briefly, but not too well - you don’t want it to disperse evenly in the hot liquid, you want it to remain in little lumps.

Season with salt and pepper (taste first since the stock cube is salty). Take off the heat (if you let it keep cooking it will curdle).

Makes 6 servings.

This is for when you are sick and the dear dear hubby is kitchen clueless.
Add a quick bread or, some muffins and you are set to go.

Stay well though is my refrain.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Savings Tips

1. Line the bottom of your refrigerator’s crisper drawer with paper towels. They’ll absorb the excess moisture that causes vegetables to rot.

2. Don’t throw away sparkling wine or, champagne that’s gone flat. Restore the bubbles by dropping a raisin or two into the bottle. The natural sugars will work magic.

3. To keep herbs tasting fresh for up to a month, store whole bunches, washed and sealed in plastic bags, in the freezer. When you need them, they’ll be easier to chop, and they’ll defrost the minute they hit a hot pan.

4. A bay leaf slipped into a container of flour, pasta, or rice will help repel bugs.

5. Stop cheese from drying out by spreading butter or margarine on the cut sides to seal in moisture. This is most effective with hard cheeses sealed in wax.

6. When radishes, celery, or carrots have lost their crunch, simply pop them in a bowl of iced water along with a slice of raw potato and watch the limp vegetables freshen up right before your eyes.

7. Avoid separating bananas until you plan to eat them – they spoil less quickly in a bunch.

8. Put rice in your saltshaker to stop the salt from hardening. The rice absorbs condensation that can cause clumps.

9. Stock up on butter when it’s on sale – you can store it in the freezer for up to six months. Pack the butter in an airtight container, so it doesn’t take on the flavor of whatever else you’re freezing.

10. In order to make cottage cheese or sour cream last longer, place the container upside down in the fridge. Inverting the tub creates a vacuum that inhibits the growth of bacteria that causes food to spoil.

11. Believe it or not, honey is the only nonperishable food substance, so don’t get rid of the stuff if it crystallizes or becomes cloudy. Microwave on medium heat, in 30-second increments, to make honey clear again.

12. Prevent extra cooked pasta from hardening by stashing it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerating. When you’re ready to serve, throw the pasta in boiling water for a few seconds to heat and restore moisture.

13. Keeping brown sugar in the freezer will stop it from hardening. But if you already have hardened sugar on your shelf, soften it by sealing in a bag with a slice of bread – or by microwaving on high for 30 seconds.

14. If you only need a few drops of lemon juice, avoid cutting the lemon in half – it will dry out quickly. Instead, puncture the fruit with a metal skewer and squeeze out exactly what you require.

15. If you’re unsure of an egg’s freshness, see how it behaves in a cup of water: Fresh eggs sink; bad ones float.

Courtesy of Country Living

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What do the Supermarket, Gardening and Composting have in Common?



Let's start right at the Supermarket....

Don't buy anything that comes with clear plastic packaging. I'm told there's no market for those clear egg containers and other clear plastics and while you may not see it, they're simply landfilled rather than chopped up and sold for recycling. Remember the cardboard ones can be used for starting seeds.

So don't buy anything in clear plastic....

That's easy enough because there are mostly alternatives for everything in this class of packaging. What's that got to do with gardening? It sets the stage for the next level and that is to compost the things that come into your house.

Ask yourself....

Ask yourself a simple question before you pick something up at the supermarket. Can I compost or recycle the packaging? If the answer is "No", then simply pick or substitute another product.

Composting...

Get those composters working.
For example, it is possible to recycle any newspaper and it is also possible to compost it by shredding and laying it on the vegetable garden as mulch. The mulch will break down and your soil will be improved.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Storm


The bad, bad weather system is just now reaching us. It's traveled all the way from Texas to here in less than 3 days. Brr... the wind is howling, snow is blowing. Obscures your vision when you look outside. It's hard to see what is happening out there. And, of course there's the dark that impedes a true and accurate view. Daylight is a ways away (it's just 6 am as I write this). I just hope and pray we don't get the freezing rain the midwest got. That's when tree limbs and power lines come down. And, there you are or, here I am without power.

The Weather Channel is on and all they are talking about is this storm. Just like when I lived in Florida,and there were hurricanes.... the Canadian weather network has people strategically placed to give updates on the snow storm.

Have you ever heard the term, "Thundersnow". It's when you get thunder and lightening mixed in with a snow storm. Never knew such a thing could happen. But, I guess it's happening in Toronto. The thundersnow is setting off car alarms and scaring people awake and out of their beds.

Just fed the yawning hole of the black monster of a pellet stove. We have for whatever reason had it go out on us on more than one occasion. Pellet rate of fall into the fire pot changes with temperature flucuations outside. If, you don't pay attention.... woe is you if you run out of the pellets.

The rest of the family still slumbers. I want to see out before I try and go back to bed... but, my eyes are drooping. It's a lot less scary when the winds are howling if you can see outside and gauge the weather yourself.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Frugal Shall be My Middle Name

Doggie Treats
Instead of spending money on expensive dog biscuits, buy a bag of a different kind of dog food and give as treat or reward to your dog. They do not know the difference. The pieces are smaller, and they may actually lose a few pounds in process.

What to Do with Canned Fruit Juice
Whenever you open a can of fruit, instead of pouring the liquid/juice down the drain, save it in a salad dressing type container. Then add some balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and spices to your liking to make a delicious salad dressing. I also use it for braising meat, such as pork or chicken, and it makes the meat so much more flavorful. The store bought fruit flavored salad dressing can run about $4. You can make your own for a fraction of that. Enjoy your own gourmet salad dressing!

Sweet Potato Slips
Sweet potato slips are expensive, so I start my own in February/March by putting a sweet potato in a large glass or clear plastic jar (pickle jars work great) and suspend the potato in the jar with toothpicks. I fill it with water and put it in a sunny window, and in no time at all, the slips grow out of the top. When they are about 4 to 5 inches tall, I cut them from the potato and root them in their own water. You can make many slips from one sweet potato.



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