Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Busy Weekend

What a busy weekend I had but what fun it was! I made Crabapple jelly Friday afternoon and went to see "Surrogates" with Bruce Willis Friday night. (Well I didn't GO to the movie with Bruce Willis .... although I would have is he'd have asked me .... and I'd have even bought the popcorn! But what I meant was that he was the star of the movie --- just in case you didn't realize that and thought I had a more affluential circle of friends than I do have.)
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Yeah ..... okay ......
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Then Saturday I did soooooo much cooking and baking! (I wish I had pictorial proof, but I will much "floury" to pick up a camera.) I made chili, veg/beef soup, lasagne and a pork chop with apples & sauerkraut casserole (a good German/Lunenburg dish). Then I made 16 tarts (apple and blueberry), an apple/blueberry cake and a banana gingerbread. The tarts were topped with real whipped cream and were mostly inhaled by foreign students by suppertime!! Those little girls!

Saturday evening, I went out with friends. For about 5 years, we've been competing as a team in an annual trivia contest. What fun it is? (And did I mention humiliating??) We are called:
You'd think after all these years, they'd learn to spell the name right!! Oh well, I'm glad they're not on my team!!
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Here are the two Sandys that the team is named for: ME and my very good friend and ex-next door neighbor Sandy!
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Next, we have Doug and Glen -- neither of them are serious long enough to get a good picture. But then, this is what they mostly look like during the whole evening. Doug (on the left) is one of the most entertaining people that I know; and Glen is godfather to all my children and was my EX's oldest friend (since age 4)!


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And these are the long-suffering wives of the two buffoons above. Carol, godmother to all my kids and Kim who is smart enough to mostly ignore Doug! Wonderful people!!




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Our other usual team members, Tom & Meho, couldn't be there because they're in the process of selling their house. So, we had surprise fill-ins: Mark & Ed. They were great and had quite enormous brains!! So, we were very happy to have them!



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We actually won 1st place one year, have been 2nd 3 other years and last place last year!!! This year, we had a lot of new teams and more competition. And we came in at a very respectable THIRD!
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The food was great and the company even better. It was so much fun! (Which is the only reason we annually subject ourselves to this kind of humility!)
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Then on Sunday, I drove my daughter back to the city and went shopping with my new daughters. Adriana (Mexico) needed a good warm coat and boots because she'll be with me until the end of next June! (Poor little mite is smiling because she has no idea of how much she'll need this coat!!!)

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And what's a trip to the city without hitting my favorite thrift store, Value Village. The girls didn't mind shopping there (God has blessed me greatly!!); and they even found a few t-shirts for themselves. I bought some pretty Christmas envelopes, a white blouse and these beauties:


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It's Wednesday ................ and I think I've finally recouperated from my busy weekend!
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Ahhhhh -- putting my feet up in my pretty new shoes!





Monday, September 28, 2009

CRABAPPLE JELLY

I was a domestic goddess last weekend! Lots of cooking and baking happening at my house on Saturday.
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But before that, I spent my Friday afternoon making crabapple jelly. You don't see a lot of crabapples around anymore, so when I saw these lovelies at a local farm market, I grabbed a basket. I adore crabapple jelly -- taste and color!

Can't make jelly, you say? Well, come along with me and I'll tell you how to do it.

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Lovingly wash beautiful ruby-red crabapples & pull off the stems. Gaze at them with delight for a few minutes before you assemble all your necessary beloved old friends/jelly-making paraphernalia whom you haven't seen in a few years. Smile! Caress the ladle and the wide mouth funnel. Give a gentle sweet pat to the pretty lids you found at the thrift store. Wash and sterilize your jam jars, including those adorable little ones you got at the yard sale. Smile again.
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Measure out your fruit (according to the pectin package 'cause you ain't takin no chances on this labor of love not jelling properly!)
Boil washed fruit in small amount of water for about 15 min.

While it's boiling, go to the living room and pick out a CD. Colin James is perfect for jelly-making! Crank it up and twirl in your apron for a bit. After all -- it is Friday afternoon and the girls are still in school and you have the place to yourself.

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Improvise a new jelly bag ('cause old one was discarded by thoughtless non-jelly making children when you packed up and moved 3 years ago). Use a new, previous washed, wet dish towel (that you didn't really like anyway 'cause it isn't yellow); place in a large collander over a large bowl & allow juices to drip into said bowl for a few hours.

Dig that opened bottle of red wine out of the back of the fridge ('cause we can't allow it to go bad!!) and pour yourself a big glass. Go to living room & continue to listen to Colin & twirl some more. Sit & finish your crossword!

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Measure juice and pour into a large, tall pot. Open your 2 pectin packages and add to the sugar you've measured out (determined by reading that good ole pectin box). Add this to the pot, stir until dissolved and bring to a full rolling boil.

I can't remember how long it boiled!

And it had nothing to do with the glass of wine so you just get that right out of your mind! If you need to know so badly, find out for yourself!! Read your own dang pectin box!! Who do you think I am? Martha freaking Stewart!

Oh ... sorry ... that does have to do with the wine!


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Take jelly off the heat and skim off the foam. Using your beloved paraphernalia, ladle hot jelly into hot jars and immediately cover with hot lids.

(This was all done by Hot Mama in yellow striped apron.)

When you're finished, scoop out all jelly left on the ladle with your finger and say "Yummmm!"



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Pour another glass of wine and sit and listen for that satisfying "ping" as the lids seal.

Ahhhh!


Friday, September 25, 2009

LOOK WHAT'S BLOOMING -- MY END OF DRIVEWAY GARDEN

It's Fertilizer Friday with http://tootsietime.blogspot.com/


I've wanted to plant something cheerful at the end of my driveway since I moved in. But all that grew in my "soil" of shale and building lot dirt were these awful Indian bamboo. You cut them down, they grow up just as quickly.



Regardless of that, I took the plunge last weekend. This is what it looked like when I went to tackle it.







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I've hacked and pulled and cut, and here's what I'm left with.



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And here's some what I have to plant; they've been sitting around since last spring!





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Man! What hard work it was. I used the pick to break up the ground and pull out some of the larger rocks. I used the shovel to dig down the first 6-12" (which would be filled in with topsoil). Then I began to lay out the garden stone.




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And here it is, finished to-date. There's a Hosta at the back, a Forsythia bush, a small Spirea, a clump of Dianthus , some wild Geranium on the far left, 2 small sedges in front and a couple of colorful fall Mums. I'm going to bring in another load of gravel to finish the lower parking spot off from the driveway.





I'm debating on whether to add another layer of garden stone and raise the bed a little. And I also have to come up with an idea to warn the winter snow-plow that there are garden stones that he should not run over!! What do you guys think??

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FIVE WORDS .....






Suzann from The Olive Cottage gave me 5 words today to talk about.




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1. Friendship


So important!! It's true that some friendships are for certain seasons of our lives -- young, single girl; new mother; toddler mom; etc. I've been able to roll with the seasons most of the time; some friends have been left behind and yet some have come full circle back into my life. (How wonderful that is!) And there's one friendship that fell apart only to be rebonded a few years later even stronger and more caring than before ... all because of forgiveness and acceptance. The mercy of God is good!

Alas, I'm in the process now of leaving some friendships behind because we're moving in different directions. Ohhh! It's difficult! It hurts! But in many ways, I think it's an extention of the aging process -- of simplifying my life and focusing on what is positive! Forward ho!! (Sob, sob!)



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2. More

Is "more" good or bad?


More sleep, more fruit and veg, more free time, more exercise, more love, more friends, more laughter, more money, more shopping, more chocolate --- these are good things!


More greed, more junk food, more TV, more ME-ALL-ME, more money, more shopping, more chocolate -- these are bad things!


See some things in both categories? Well, I guess my attitude is that in some things, more needs to be tempered with moderation. But you all already know that! I'm preaching to the choir!




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3. Blogging






The first thing that comes to mind is friendship; next is like-minded community; after that, an outlet and a forum to speak; and then, of course, there's laughter and encouragement and amazement and prayer. Where else can you find so many people willing to listen to your mindless drivel or your moaning?


Another wonderful thing about blogging is that we have time to choose what we say (rather than blurt out those foot-in-mouth comments); and we also get to choose whom to follow and how often we visit (without making a nusiance of ourselves or being told to "Go home! You have cooties!").


Are we online stalkers??





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4. Loyalty


To God, family, friends, country and my boss -- really important! To a particular brand of cereal, mascara, musician or TV show -- an individual but a not so important choice.


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5. Home

A place where my kids hang out and fill it with noise and bread crumbs and empty milk cartons and wet towels and doors left open and laughter!
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A place full of love and frustration and love and anger and love and tears and love and love and love and ..... so many shoes!! (OMG! There are 4 full-time women in residence; one occasional and one still hanging on! You can't imagine the shoes!!)
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A God given place of sanctuary and blessing, where the moment I open the front door, I feel relief.
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A place with a garden of earthly delights; a place where God is present all the time and at the same time, there's a special, secret place to meet with him. A place where the fast-food counter ir right next to the gourmet diner! A place that I'm always organizing .... and can never find things! A comfortable, warm, pretty place where friends are always welcome and there's enough for everyone.
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A place I love!


YOUR CHOCOLATE AGE!!



Can you figure out your current age by how many times you would like to consume chocolate in a given week? Click here and find it out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FALL IS HERE!!

Autumn has arrived.
Come join in the celebration!




There's a fall party at: http://rhondisrosecoloredglasses.blogspot.com/













Monday, September 21, 2009

DAY TRIP Part 2 - CHESTER

The second leg of our Saturday daytrip had me driving and singing my way along Highway #3 past such places as Boutlier's Point, Queensland, and Hubbards. It brought back wonderful memories of a younger me driving with my ex on our antique hunting trips. I hadn't taken this drive in a good 18 years; so, it was actually nice to have a quiet car that I could fill with my reminiscences of earlier days full of young love and ready cash! (Something else I haven't seen in 18 years!)
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The village of Chester is 250 yr old this year. It has a rich heritage as a seaport and boat building community, and the village is dotted with beautiful victorian mansions and modern day estates. It's also one of the wealthiest communities in NS because of it being a vacation and resort destination, with lovely specialized boutiques and shops. Every August, it hosts Chester Race Week when sailboats and yachts from around the world come and compete for the cup.


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When I turned off to head into the village of Chester, the snoring stopped and 4 little eager-to-shop heads popped up. I'd had the earliest breakfast, so I was hungry. Do you remember this jolly guy from the Farmer's Market??
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It's Julian -- the guy with the beautiful pastries and breads. Remember the sunflower-shaped bread?

Well, one of my purposes in stopping in Chester was to find his cafe and bakery and see what new delectables he'd have to offer there.

The girls kept saying "Oh, I'm not hungry yet!" "No, I don't feel like eating." But I stood my ground and said "Well, I ate at 8 am, and I am hungry. So, you can sit with me and watch if you want!"
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We didn't have to walk very far before we found it.

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And look what greeted us when we walked in! Lovely cheeses and sausages and breads. The smell of coffee and various sweets filled the air; and over on one side, fresh baked Christmas stollen with it's fruit and nuts and almond paste and icing sugar was being wrapped. It was heavenly!
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I was perusing the lunch menu trying to decide what to have ....................

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..... Then I turned to the left. And ..... well, there's no other way to explain it .... I FELL IN LUST! Yes, bloggie friends, this display case was the Chippendales that ignited overwhelming passion in my loins that afternoon. (And still does on reflection!)

As I stood there -- forcing myself with every fiber of my being NOT to press my body up against the glass and sigh .... eyes glazed over .... drool dripping from the corners of my mouth --- I made the lady behind the counter describe what every single thing was ---- slowly please! Not just their names , but what's in them. Many of them had French names. Ahhhhh! It was like poetry!

Then 4 little foreign bodies lined up next to me in rapt attention. "Maybe I'll have one of these!" "Yes, perhaps I will too". So, we each took something different to the table while we awaited either a tall, fluffy hot chocolate or a small fluffy cappuccino.


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This was my desert. It is a brioche filled with French vanilla cream custard on top of a layer of almond paste and glazed with a very thin toffee-like almond/honey mixture and sprinkled with powdered sugar. OMG! I was falling in love! As they sing in Motown ... "Hep me, hep me!!"***
This was my second choice and Nadine's pick. Isn't it beautiful!
She let me have a nibble, and that was the moment I knew I was really smitten! (Isn't that a great word!) Okay, let me describe this beauty to you from the bottom up: It has a beautiful shortbread crust, with a generous layer of white chocolate, then it's filled with bittersweet truffle cream and dusted with bittersweet cocoa power; and it's topped with a dark chocolate wavy ribbon/flower.

I could feel myself being overcome by "the vapors and the dizzy spells" (said in pseudo Southern accent!)
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Kurumi had this chocolate bread pudding. (I didn't know her well enough to demand a taste.) Do they share in Japan??
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And Diane had Black Forest cheesecake which looked divine. I would have possibly asked for a wee corner to taste (being as I adore both Black Forest cake and cheesecake --- and for the sake of sharing this necessary knowledge with my viewing public!). But alas, before I could finish my first whiff of cappuccino, Diane had inhaled her cake and was repeatedly demanding her hot chocolate. Oh well; you snooze, you lose!!

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Adriana was hungry for lunch; so she had a turkey sandwich and a huge, yummy peanut butter cookie.

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We all enjoyed our "lunch"; and my girls and I all said we wanted to come back again to sample something different!
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To my bloggie friends I offer this: If you come to visit me (and you're welcome to stay at my house), I will take you to Julian's .... if you promise me that I can have a nibble of whatever you're having!

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We finished off our trip with a walk around Chester and a visit to this little craft shop. Thanks for joining us on our trip.









Saturday, September 19, 2009

DAY TRIP Part 1 - PEGGY'S COVE


I headed out Saturday morning for Peggy's Cove with 4 lovely and slightly sleepy foreign students. (Above is a panoramic view of the place; I hope it comes out well enough for you to see it.)**

We took the fast highway there and returned via the old highway, winding through all the small villages. The weather was cool when we left Bridgewater at 11 am (9 deg Cel). But by the time we got to Peggy's Cove, on the Atlantic ocean, it was cold! I mean COLD!! **
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This first shot I call "Freezing our International Butts Off in Scenic Peggy's Cove". (Not sure if the postcard company will take off on that one! And somehow I doubt if there'll be a lot of interest on the part of the NS International Student Program; could/maybe/possibly be a slight deterent to anyone from warmer climes!!)
This is Kurumi (Japan), Diane (China), Adriana (Mexico) and Nadine (Germany) -- all terrific sports about treking around on gracial rock formations with bracing winds creating apple cheeks and frozen smiles.
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Come walk with us and enjoy this truly awesome place! It's like walking on another planet.






I know Kurumi was really grateful for the shelter provided by this rock.
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Although her comprehension is great, she doesn't speak a lot of English. The poor little sparrow was very cold! But she kept walking and walking without complaint; periodically I would hear her do a sort-of low moan/shudder.


It just made me want to feed her large quantities of Canadian bacon and thick slabs of hot buttered toast with honey and platter full of some good old Poutine! Get some Maritime fat on that little tiny body!

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We finally made our way to the lighthouse and the path back to the car park. Just a few more pictures please ....****



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In this next photo, you can almost hear Kurumi calling out to her homeland, 'The Land of the Rising Sun', from her temporary home, 'The Land where the Sun forgot to Rise Today!'
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Listen carefully now ....................
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"Tasukete!!! Get me out of here quick! ... Dōmo arigatō!"***

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So, we finally head to the blessed warmth of the car and begin our scenic drive back to Bridgewater. How happy I am to show them this shore of my beautiful province!
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"Oh, look at that! Isn't that pretty! .......... Ahh! How quaint!"
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But, in spite of our invigorating walk, I notice that they're all nodding off again in their seats! Youth!!
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That's okay; I get to choose the radio channel and sing along with the hits of the 60's and 70's!
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Next stop is Chester -- a warmer and much tastier leg of our journey! Check it out tomorrow!