Easter With the Family

This year we celebrated our Easter Sunday on Saturday. Our daughter and son-in-law in Hamilton invited us over for an Easter dinner of lamb ragu. We invited my niece who is working in Toronto and our oldest daughter and my daughter-in-law drove to our house, where we all jammed into one car and made the 40 minute drive to Hamilton. IMG_1668

The day started out very rainy but in the afternoon the sun came out and we experienced an early summer day. We spent a good deal of time outside without jackets and went for a nice walk to the park down the street. My niece had never been to G’s place and she enjoyed hearing stories of being pregnant and she saw first hand what it can be like raising a toddler. She’s due to have her first child in August.

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Our granddaughter is always a little shy around new people and even her grandparents who she hasn’t seen too much of this winter because of illness on both sides. It didn’t take long though before she warmed up to her cousin, once removed and they engaged in a game of peek-a-boo in the backyard.

For Easter this year I bought Winnie a garden set because she likes to help her father   clean and plant flowers in the the garden bed.  I knew she’d love the watering can because she loves anything to do with water. When I showed her how it worked she let out a shriek of joy and came running to her Oma. For the next hour or so she kept busy watering the garden and herself.

After spending some time in the garden and walking to the park we enjoyed a very nice dinner. Our son-in-law made the pasta from scratch and the ragu had cooked most of the day. We were in charge of dessert so my husband called up one of his favourite clients who works in an Italian bakery and asked her for advice on what dessert we should bring for an Easter dinner.

She quickly recommended a pastiera, a south Italian Easter tradition. It’s a wheat and ricotta pie flavoured with orange blossom water and adorned with a lattice top. Yum!IMG_1666

Today I’ll be spending time with a friend whose partner went into the hospital yesterday. He’ll be there for a few days as the doctors try to figure out what kind of treatment he will need.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Sunday. Lucky me, I get one more day off tomorrow. Time to get the snow tires off the car.

 

Shopping, Shopping and More Shopping

….after our long walk this morning we decided to go out and buy food for the weekend

Not any old food, mind you. We were shopping for food for our family get together on Sunday. Four of us are driving to Hamilton to celebrate Family Day at G’s and B’s home (parents of Winnie). I suggested that we do a pot luck lunch and everyone quickly agreed.

Our contribution is going to be a charcuterie platter and then some smoked pork chops, German style (Kassler rippchen). To get all the ingredients we needed we drove out to Mississauga and went to the Brandt Meat store. What a treat for all the senses.

We left with 5 different meats and three cheeses for the platter, 8 smoked pork chops and meatloaf for tonight’s dinner. As we got back into the car we decided that potato salad would be a nice addition to the chops so I went back inside and bought a few containers of ready to eat salad.

Hard to imagine that I couldn’t find everything that we needed in this one amazing store but we did need milk, cream, fruit, vegetables and dog food so we made another stop at our go to No Frills grocery story just down the road from our home. I love the produce aisles in this store. It is so bright and colourful and everything is very fresh.

After we loaded up the car with more groceries than we had planned to buy my husband thought of another thing we forgot to pick up. Batteries. Instead of going back into the same store he suggested that I go over to the Dollarama which was next door.

Here’s another store that appeals to the eyes. Bright and colourful and kind on the pocketbook. The line-up was pretty long so I decided to take a quick look around and took a few more photos of some of the merchandise. You can tell that St. Patrick’s Day and Easter are just around the corner.

The teacher in me wanted to buy numerous items for my classes but I resisted temptation. Besides my husband was waiting in the car and if I had returned with anything but batteries he would have given me a questioning gaze.

As soon as we got home we put away the groceries and I started dinner. For those of you who know me well I did it voluntarily and without any coercion from my husband. Once in awhile I still like to cook.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend. Mine is just beginning. Hopefully I’ll have more photos and stories about our Family Day get together tomorrow.

Cheers!

Happy Birthday, Valentine’s Day and Family Day

….for my friend Maria all the good stuff comes together in less than a week

This week my friend Maria celebrated her birthday and was finally well enough to have company. She recently had her hip replaced (her second one) and didn’t recover as quickly as with the first one; however, this week she was finally receiving visitors. In honour of her birthday I decided to bake her some cookies and bought her a nice new mug, some tea and candy. I also collected some of my favourite novels that I’ve read in the past year or so and put them in a bag for her to pull out and read at her leisure.

Over at Life in Between my blogging friend, Jodi posted a wonderful recipe for Amish Oatmeal Raisin cookies and I was very eager to try it. The instructions were easy to follow and the recipe made  four dozen very large cookies. My husband loves oatmeal raisin cookies and the only fault he found with these was that there weren’t enough raisins. Easy solution; just add more next time. I, however, found the amount to be perfect. This recipe is a little different from most oatmeal cookies because it has molasses in it and that’s why the colour is darker.

I packed a dozen cookies into a small disposable loaf pan and placed it inside a special translucent bag with hearts on the outside. I then placed them into a square basket that I had purchased and placed the other items (tea, mug, candy) next to the bag.

Before making my way to Maria’s house I decided to make her a card. I took some watercolour paper and watercolour markers and created a simple design to acknowledge her birthday, St. Valentine’s Day, Family Day and a speedy recovery.

In the end I had a very nice visit with my good friend. Her husband spoiled us with wine to start, a plate of cheese and then before I left he made us tea and we enjoyed some of the cookies that I had baked.

If the cookies interest you be sure to check out Jodi’s recipe over at Life in Between.

Cheers and have a wonder Valentine’s Day!

A Bit of Cleaning, Some Reading, Making Bean Soup and Visiting Friends

….Monday, July 6, 2015

People often wonder what I do at the cottage all day, especially when I’m up here alone. Well there’s lots to do but no pressure as to when I do it. I like that.

Instead of spending two days of solid cleaning when I first open the cottage I like to spread it out and do a little bit every day. I take care of the absolute essentials when I first arrive, like fill up the water barrel, start the fridge, make the bed, uncover the furniture and wipe down all the surfaces that I’ll be using right away.

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On subsequent days, I’ve washed all the dishes, even though they were clean when I left in October, wiped out the cupboards and restocked them and organized my clothes and put them back into the dresser. All of this is necessary because at some point in the months when we’re away a few rodents manage to find their way into the cottage, looking for warmth, food and shelter. Unfortunately for some of them they don’t survive and I usually find a few carcasses lying about and of course evidence that they’ve been around. Luckily this year the evidence has been minimal and a few of them had drowned in a bucket of water that was inside the cottage.

One of my goals this summer is to finish reading the books that I started this year and then didn’t finish before I picked up another to read. I’m happy to report that I’ve finished two of them and am concurrently reading two more. I also started a new book and I finished that as well. I think I will report on those books in a future post.

Another goal is to do a little bit of art everyday or at least a couple of times a week. I completed one art assignment this week and I started sketching in my art journal. Another goal well on it’s way!

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I didn’t bring up a lot of food on this visit but enough to get me through the week. When I was cleaning out the cupboards I noticed that I had left a container of dried beans here over the winter. I decided to make soup from scratch. I turned on the side burner on the BBQ and cooked onions, celery and carrots in a large soup pot. I added a chopped clove of garlic and then 4 cups of broth, 2 cups of water, a tin of diced tomatoes and 1 cup of dried beans. I added salt and pepper to taste and then I let it cook for 2 hours. After the two hours I looked in the fridge to see what else I could add and I found some chick peas, cooked hamburger and fresh mushrooms. I chopped up the burgers and the mushrooms and added everything to the pot. I let it cook for a few more minutes and dinner was ready. I grated in some fresh parmesan cheese. Delicious!

Of course I had way more soup than I could eat so I put the rest into container and froze it for future meals and I kept some in the fridge for another dinner this week.

While I was cooking I got a phone call from a friend who has a cottage four roads over from mine. She invited me to come to her place for a chat, a glass of wine and to see the finished renovations on her cottage. The soup had pretty much finished cooking, so I turned it off and walked over (1500 steps). The cottage looked fantastic and since we hadn’t seen each other since January we had a nice long gab and got caught up on each other’s lives.

When I finally left it was going on 8:00 and I ended up having a late dinner. The nice part was that it was already cooked, I just had to reheat it. Even though it was getting dark I ventured down to the beach for one last walk and just managed to get in my 10,000 steps for the day. I did decide though that leaving my walk for that late wasn’t the best decision because the mosquitoes also come out at that time. Note to self, walk before the sun sets.

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So that’s my day in a nutshell. Everyday I read a little, do art a little, cook, clean and visit friends, either in person or on the phone. I hope all of you enjoy your days as much as I do. Cheers!

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Birthday, Brunch, Books and Best Buys

…..Dec.30 is the birthday of my twins, G and B

Today we celebrated a birthday. Thirty-three years ago I gave birth to two healthy children, a girl and a boy. We celebrated at G’s place where she treated us to a wonderful brunch of homemade bread, homemade ricotta cheese, jams, honey, coffee, fresh fruit salad, kale and goat cheese frittata and a delicious green salad. Everyone contributed to the meal but the bulk of the work was prepared by G.

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Gifts were exchanged earlier in the day and then again at the brunch. Our son loves books and our daughter collects cookbooks. Yesterday G ordered B a very special cookbook that he had expressed an interest in and surprisingly it was delivered while we were there. Now that’s service!

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After brunch we (our oldest daughter, our son and his fiancé) drove north on Yonge St. and   stopped at Super Khorak to purchase some special food items for dinner. Our future daughter-in-law is Iranian and we wanted to purchase some authentic Iranian food. My son and my husband literally cleaned their bowls and the food containers with the flat Iranian bread that we bought. There wasn’t a morsel of food left over. It was definitely a ‘best buy’ today.

Share Your World – Week 32

…..more great questions from Cee at Share Your World

Do you prefer ketchup or mustard?

I like both but over the years I’ve grown to like mustard more than I did as a child. Now I prefer mustard on my meats and ketchup on my eggs, fries, grilled cheese and mac and cheese.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

This is a tough question. It certainly wouldn’t be an action or science fiction film. It would have to be a combination of the first three genres. The romantic comedy would be my teenage years and my relationship with my husband. The comedy portion would include the years raising my children and my years teaching children. Finally the drama would occur when dealing with the deaths of parents, friends and colleagues and the break-ups and disappointments suffered by our children and the divorces of friends and family. Luckily there is more comedy than drama in my life.

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

The gifts I would most cherish would be peace of mind and happiness.

For potlucks or parties do you cook it yourself, buy from a grocery store, or pay for catering?

This depends on the day and the time of year. If the party is on a week night and I’m working  I will purchase something special from a deli or take away from a restaurant. I will cook something myself if the party is on the weekend or in the summer when I’m not working.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for time together with my daughters and their significant others. G and her husband had dinner with us last Friday and A and her partner came by the house on Saturday and helped us clean out the garage. Cleaning the garage and taking everything to the city transfer station was a huge job and I can’t thank J and her family enough for all their hard work.

Later on Saturday G and I drove up to the cottage together and spent a couple of days enjoying each other’s company and the fantastic weather.IMG_2195 IMG_2199 I’m also grateful to D at the cottage for helping me dig a new outhouse hole.

This week I’m looking forward to visiting my aunt again, helping my friend A organize her basement and garage some more and seeing my friends G and L. I’m also looking forward to working on more art projects from my on-line summer camp.

It’s also our 39th wedding anniversary this Saturday and I’m looking forward to anything that my husband and I will do to celebrate.

Harvesting the Garden

….we’ve had a bumper crop of lettuce this year but today we picked beans, peas, zucchini and jalapeno peppers

As I was weeding the garden this morning I noticed that the purple beans and the sugar peas were ready to pick. Looking at the garden the night before I didn’t notice anything hanging from the pole vines but in the light of the morning sun they stood out like a sore thumb. photo-31

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the zucchini and picked three the night before and one more this evening. The jalapeño peppers were also ripe for picking. photo-32

Three of the four vegetables made it into our stir fry tonight (will save the jalapeño for another time) and to our surprise the purple beans turned a dark bright green. Everything was so fresh and delicious.