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.


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!


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.


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.

Fruits of my Labour

….overhanging branches of sour cherries netted me 5 jars of jam

Thanks to my neighbour’s sour cherry tree I was able to pick enough cherries that were hanging over onto to our side of the hedge to make jam. I’d never really noticed the tree before, probably because I would have been at the cottage when the cherries are ready to pick. This year I’ve been home more than normal because of a family situation.

I knew the cherries were ready to pick because the neighbourhood squirrel was feasting on them a couple of days ago.

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I found an easy recipe in the cookbook, Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan.

Sour Cherry Jam

6 cups of pitted and crushed (I left mine whole) sour cherries, 3 cups of sugar and 1 packet of liquid pectin (3oz/85ml)

Combine the cherries and sugar in a large pot and boil for at least 20 minutes. Add the pectin and boil for another 5 minutes.

Ladle into hot, clean canning jars. Apply the lids and rings and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

The jam is a bit loose but it jells up more when it’s refrigerated. Delicious.

Thanks Nancy. Your jar is on its way.

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Happy Mother’s Day

….in Canada we’re honouring our Mothers today

My daughters and their significant others treated me to a wonderful day on Ward’s Island yesterday. G made a fantastic meal that included a rabbit and apricot terrine, homemade sour dough bread, cured salmon infused with beet juice and cheese cups with hot pepper jelly and those delights were the appetizers.

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After a bit of nourishment we went for a long walk and explored the beaches and neighbourhoods of Ward’s Island. I’ll post more about this amazing community in the coming week. When we returned to the little cottage that G’s mother-in-law was renting we enjoyed part two of our Mother’s Day Extravaganza.

For the main course we were treated to chicken legs, a faro salad and green beans and snow peas garnished with chopped hazelnuts. Dessert was a delicious panna cotta topped with rhubarb.

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At the end of the meal the table was cleared and we played a family game of Apples to Apples. It was a lot of fun but apparently I’m not very good at it. Either my answers weren’t clever enough or they were too embarrassing.

This morning my husband surprised me with a very special present…..a brand new ukulele. What a nice surprise. I guess I’d better learn to play better than I play now. After a nice breakfast, also prepared by my husband, I connected with my son and his fiancé in the Netherlands via Skype. After some minor glitches with the volume we spent 35 minutes catching up on the news and sharing plans for the future.

All in all it was a perfect way to spend Mother’s Day weekend!