Category Archives: cooking

Getting Something Accomplished

Distractions have interfered with my writing only because I’ve looked for excuses to let them do so. I’ve had some different things to attend to but that was not the real reason for not stockpiling my writing over the summer. It must have been just a break that I needed for some creative purpose and now I feel compelled to start it all up again. I even bought new pens today.

My sister tells me I should write children’s stories and I will. My son tells me to write about the theatre experiences I enjoy so I will do that too. My good friends keep me stocked up with journals so that I will write about what I read or plant in the garden (that’s why I need lots of pens). I also handwrite a stream of consciousness journal that is just a flow of stuff I should be doing or what I’m thinking about doing (i go through pens like crazy!). That journal is amazing as it works in that it usually gets me off my procrastination sidelines and somehow motivates me to do some errands, repairs and duties. It is like being mothered again after losing my wonderfully feisty but very elderly mom. It is my push to get moving and get stuff done.

I need to write again and get something accomplished. Maybe this time, while I’m stockpiling the stories, reports, poems and observations I’ll find whatever it is that I need to say.

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Puppy Love

Today is my day off and it really felt like it for a change. Whew….I went out to the farmer’s market, greenhouse. did laundry, had a nap, worked in the garden and had another nap. Since retiring I’ve thoroughly adapted (like a big time slacker and I deserve it) to the laid back routine of extra sleep, reading, theatre,writing, puttering, little drives to fun spaces, some gardening, some short walks, cooking a  super healthy and gourmet farmstyle cusine, cleaning once in a while and visiting with friends and family. However, the puppy on loan has changed things significantly. Last week I ate cold meatloaf and pickles over the kitchen sink so she wouldn’t see me eat anything.

I offered to keep her last week to bond with Miss Moneypenny as she will be staying with me next week anyway to recover from some eye surgery to correct something called cherry eye, a common problem for little bullies.

Getting up to walk and feed her early has reminded me of my working days, but at least now after checking to make sure I’m dressed completely (long story) to walk around the quiet neighbourhood I don’t have to  shower and do my hair or makeup (for days if I don’t want to), but instead crawl back into bed for another snooze before really getting up for the day. The puppy maintenance schedule is bathroom walk, feedings, more bathroom walks, cleaning up wet newspaper safety targets, floor washing, more feeding, more walking, some training for puppy kindergarten, more or the aforementioned, over and over….playing, hugging, cuddling….writing several email updates to my son working in a beautiful theatre about his puppy child….and so…when she went home yesterday for the weekend…..I missed her.

No worries though, by evening tomorrow she’ll be back and into everything, upsetting the retired apple cart big time. Surgery on her eye is on Monday morning and both my son and I will be worried, concerned and relieved when it is safely over. Just think, next week, I’ll be doing the puppy lifestyle all over again but this time she’ll be upset about wearing a cone protector around her bulky little neck, she will be wild as a bronco as she won’t likely have her quiet time routine in her crate due to wearing the cone….thank goodness we bonded this past week. I’ll let you know…….( in case you haven’t seen her picture yet, (gush from Nana)….see my blog post Precious Penny.)


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Bleach Job

There is no turning back now. The wallpaper is being stripped as we speak. I’ve been wanting to paint the bathroom since forever. Priorities have interfered up to this pont until the paint the bathroom issue worked its way to the top of the list. After contacting Nicola, a recommended painter, cleaning everything nailed down and removing everything else I still had to face the big mouldy elephant in the room. My bathroom ceiling had to be bleached. As I am only 5’6″ and the ceiling is way more than that I had to get up on the step-ladder despite my better judgement to do the deed. Oddly enough, now that my son is living closer to his work, he didn’t visit this weekend to help me . Little arthritic Red Hen that I am, I did it myself.

Strange isn’t it ? Just a little effort mixed with the adventure of standing on a stepladder makes one feel satisfied with oneself. Even more exciting, is the tendency I have to do my little home improvement projects on my own in the dead of the night. I like to tidy up or cook or fix things in between reading sessions, writing when the spirit moves me and lulls in my British drama programs. Anyway, I’m pleased with myself.


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Third Thursday of The Month

Driving through the rather unique section of the city with its quirky little shops, coffeehouses and older homes I found my way to the library holding the writers meeting. Downstairs in the building a couple of meeting rooms are available to the public for various events and meetings. A few people were there early with me and the room filled eventually. It wasn’t awkward, honest.

Not knowing a soul I merely spoke a few words initially to the folks on either side of me. The dynamics of the group was interesting to me as I am a retired teacher. It felt like being with any new class except that it was a mixed group of ages, artistic personalities and writing enthusiasts. A few rarely spoke but they continued to write industriously throughout the meeting. Dominant personalities emerged from time to time. Everything from crime historical fiction, fantasy,plays, children’s and young adult literature , short stories and poetry were discussed with glee. A leader emerged to suggest a writing prompt and we all wrote madly for a few minutes and shared these little gems openly.Another gave a presentation on plot and pacing further stirring the discussion pot quite nicely. Someone brought cookies to share and this inspired an impromptu revenge story. ( You had to have been there!) A select reading of a current novel was shared by one of the writers. Feedback for this writer was positive and freely given.

Recommended books were referenced around the table much to my delight. I appreciated the loosely structured plan for the meeting. Imagine about two dozen people of varying backgrounds gathering for two hours of listening, writing, sharing, critiquing and laughing in the right places. A unique and quirky evening  in an interesting part of the old town and right up my alley!


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Etc., Etc., Etc.

Hmmmmm, what will I write about now? It is very late and so quiet  and my eyes are grainy with much-needed sleep. It’s interesting to be just sitting here and doing this while all my neighbours and family are asleep. Even the dog and cats have more sense than I do and have found their beds for the night. It seems that I have found a happy place and it is very late, quiet and grainy in my little writing nook. having absolutely no idea what I want to write about except the fun that I  have found in writing. Hence and furthermore, I will continue this little piece for my own selfish enjoyment. (Apparently the spell check is not working at this hour so I’ll be saving this draft but believe me when I say it is 1:54 am. Proving perhaps I need a life.)

Initially when I started to blog I thought it wud (spell check didn’t catch this so I left it in) be about cooking or books, possibly gardening with a dash of pets. In fact I wrote several posts along those lines. Alright, I wrote way too many. Then I tried out other things like memories, reflections and strange artistic writing exercises that got interesting reactions from my readers. Along the line I made contact with other writers  and examined their content and styles. Some have even blogrolled me ( cool) into categories like Life, Writing and Storytelling. Having subscribers sign up to follow has been exciting even if one of the subscribers is myself! Whoops. Now I just have to figure out how to blogroll other writers and use embedded features etc. etc. etc. (Don’t laugh at me.)

I meditated, examined my book shelves, sorted through my collection of books, music and scraps of previous writing attempts. Browsing expeditions in the library, bookstores, music shops and on-line have filled my days in September. Researching art, literature, politics and history, a tad of science (what the heck is a neutrino?), questioning my assumptions and generally opening up my mind to new ideas has been renewing. Writing some vulnerable material released bottled up grief. Some wacky allegories came out of nowhere and lifted my writer’s spirits and awareness . Edgy satire, although intriguing is out of my league at present. Abrasive satire is an acquired taste like sauerkraut .

Becoming an obsessed fiend for improving my reader stats I made more contact with other bloggers and enjoyed having a peek into new vistas that otherwise would have been off-limits.  I started using terms like vistas in my writing and making dreadful puns and not caring who liked it or not. I found out from a friend (hey there) that I should just write what I want as I am judge and jury of my creative life.  I found out I don’t know enough about certain things that I should care about like  politics and social issues. I intend to change my ways.

Realizing that first and foremost I am a storyteller with the soul of a poet (aw …) I will try to find a worthy niche to share these stories. Gentle humour seems to be my style for now but it may get testy unexpectedly. I need to read a wider variety of writers , think deeper and challenge more.

This stage of my writing life feels wonderful but that may just be all the vitamins and supplements that I have also recently tried to take…. kicking in.


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A Market Tip

Just a mile from my house is a restored Victorian  general store.  Just behind it is a conservation site with a leafy woods and an original but improved swimming hole pond. Rich with history the area once was the site of several mills and businesses. A community originally settled by Scottish and Pennsylvania Dutch( United Empire Loyalists) pioneers, it has retained its proud heritage well over the years. My Dad’s family traces it’s roots here to 1820 and I have both Scottish and Pennsylvania Dutch blood lines. It is a very nice place to live in and few take this blessing for granted. At this point I’d just like to tell you about the very tiny Coldstream Farmer’s Market that is held every Saturday, during the growing and harvest season, situated on a grassy clearing just behind the old Marsh Store.

The market opens about 9:30 am and is over, on the dot at 11:30 am. At the beginning of the season there might only be a couple of local vendors and a trickle of community folks coming to check out the goods and produce. After a few weeks with a little word of mouth advertising and a simple sign at the main road things start to pick up. This is the second year for the market and it seems to be really starting to catch on. An environmental group of volunteers host the market and insist on a few simple rules and criteria for the things sold at the market. The most basic rule is that the produce or goods must be local. The concept is something that I really enjoy and I just might be one of their best customers. As writing is more or less my thing I feel motivated to use my keyboard to share the local news of this nifty little farmer’s market held within the old woods of our community’s history.

Last week I arrived with two large shopping bags and could hardly carry them back to the car after merrily making my purchases. I see some folks shopping there with better self-control than myself but I just let loose and buy up scads of stuff. I enjoy cooking and eating and find it rather exciting to just experiment with the seasonal goodies available. This interest comes from my growing up on a farm locally and learning how to work with food creatively from my energetic mom.

The bounty that spilled onto my kitchen counters when I returned home was: maple syrup and maple sugar spread, cabbage, several varieties of peppers, potatoes, heritage and regular tomatoes, beets, green beans, buns, cookies, onions , garlic and sweet corn. I also bought a lovely necklace made by a young local designer! I resisted buying flowers, zucchini, and herbs as I have those at home in my own patch or available to me from my sister’s farm down the road. A couple of the neighbours have a table set up with conservation ideas and an impromptu garden advice talk was offered to anyone interested in self sufficiency. I hope the egg lady comes back next week as I always seem to miss her as she sells out fast. A young mom has a display of photography, handmade items and jewelery too. My neighbour sells fabric shopping totes as she visits with everyone coming and going.

After my shopping trip to the market I visit the local library just down the road and feed my need for good books as well. With a stocked up car of good things to eat and read I’m all set for the week ahead. Wonderful, wonderful food from the simple homegrown produce turns my summer into a time to nourish both body and soul. The smells that emanate from my tiny kitchen would make even Gordon Ramsey smile and jump for joy. The supply of good books from the library, including recipe books is just icing on the cake.

If you are driving through Coldstream, Ontario, Saturday morning, drop in and see our wee market, but don’t be late as the sign gets put away at 11:30 sharp and everybody goes home to eat all the good stuff. If you miss it just try again earlier next time! History repeats itself, every week, during the growing and harvest season.


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Dry Spell

When the cicadas can be heard during the long hot afternoon it seems like summer is starting to turn to autumn. There really is lots of warm summer ahead but with that rattly sound overhead it makes me feel like time is short and overlooked and postponed projects must be done. Previously, once it really was fall, the pace of being back in class didn’t allow for home renovation and strenuous projects such as sweeping out the shed or clearing clutter from the basement. Everything had to be done in the hot summer and it was rather icky and annoying for me. Now in retirement, the pace doesn’t matter and it can wait for cooler days. Long hot days are great if you are sitting under a tree at the lake but not so great otherwise. Fortunately for me I have a partially shaded yard, some fans positioned around the house, cool drinks,  good books and no real pressing schedule. A little guilt perhaps but I can live with that.

During this dry spell of activity due to the real presence of dry hot weather all that is palpable to do is the bare minimum. Laundry is manageable because of a new washing machine. Dishes are washed by hand as they accumulate. Bare minimum cooking is endured because we have to eat something. Yard work is almost nil except for watering the plants as the grass is too dry to grow and any weed that is still hanging on for dear life is ignored. The pets need  some extra attention with the heat and seem to be content with staying  under the bushes during the day and sleeping by the fan at night.  Grocery shopping is also for the bare necessities and mainly consists of salad fixings and cold drinks. General housekeeping doesn’t happen.  If the cleaning spirit moves then perhaps a blitz of five minutes of tidy up will sporadically occur. A leaky old dog necessitates some emergency damp mopping but  all is forgiven.

Socially there is an effort to visit a few neighbours and family members. A wedding anniversary, friends and colleagues reunion, family suppers at the farm, a trip to a special tea room, and regular jaunts to summer theatre round out the month of August.

 No plans for struggling back to a hot classroom for me. No need to buy school storybooks,  decorative  posters and other materials. No reason to plan, plan, plan for the year ahead.Things are different with retirement and  responsibilities have changed in many ways.

 After the dry spell, when the days are sweetly cool again and I can leave the windows open for the brisk breezes to blow through I will gather up my cleaning tools and sort through the books that need to be donated, the junk that needs to be carried away, sweep out the dusty old woodshed, fix the broken door frame on the shed, put in a new kitchen sink, trim the bushes and start cooking comfort food again. Once the baking heat  is over  maybe I will feel more like writing again. At present, it’s too much work, and I feel a little guilty about it.

 But…I can live with it.


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Especially Today

If I try to remember,…. especially today,…. the  window open and a cool spring breeze blowing the  curtains I think of all the activity going on to prepare for family visitors ….. Vases of old-fashioned garden flowers on the kitchen table and on the corner of the sink’s counter….. The linoleum floor scrubbed with a pine scented cleaner….. An assortment of different patterned dishes and a mix of glasses and mugs set as carefully as possible on the kitchen table. A variety of vintage tablecloths added a dash of personality and style on any given day.

 Several apple and berry pies would be ready on a pie rack and tea biscuits would be in the oven just as dinner was ready. A well seasoned roast with mashed potatoes, yellow beans,tangy cabbage salad, beet pickles, sliced cucumbers in apple cider vinegar, chili sauce, green onions , radishes  and individual small glass bowls of canned tomatoes would typically be prepared for the family gathering.

 It was usually a tight squeeze around the table but the best part was being so close to the hot food on the stove for second servings.These simple meals at any time of the year in the old farm kitchen  were made from what was in season or put by in the freezer or canned. Everything was homemade and took such effort and care to produce such memorable times around the table. A familiar prayer was always said by my parents before the meal.

 Pots of tea and a gurgling coffee perk were at the ready throughout the meal and afterwards to go with more pie and date squares as dishes were washed by hand. Conversation was usually about the farm work, neighbours, family, weather and church. It was good talk. The dishes were slicked up fast and put away in the cupboard.

The simple and tasty food was a blessing and the basis for those gatherings and fondly remembered times.

 This is the memory of the moment, especially today, pushing aside all the others competing to be brought forward ….I’m in the kitchen with my family just living the farm girl life…. I’m there again at the big, wonderful, tasty meal and the crowded table….A time to eat together, work together and drink all those cups of strong tea and over perked coffee…. As it turns out…. A time that is just part of me…. forever.


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It’s  three a.m. for crying out loud and here I am starting a new blog entry. During the month of July it gets hot around here and this throws off any semblance of a sleeping routine with me. I don’t do well in the heat so I snatch rest in the darkened, fan stirred livingroom  siesta style when I can. Often it is too hot to do much around the house until the sun starts to go down so that’s probably why I am still up doing dishes and laundry and blogging.

 I’m blogging in the tiny room off the kitchen as it is our only air-conditioned room in the house. It used to be a small garage years and years ago. I’ve painted it, added some cottage curtains, a sofa, recliner and tub chair, computer set up and television. The doorway doesn’t have a door on it as it opens into the entry way and kitchen. So the cool  air gets lost for the most part into the rest of the hot little house. I think I will try to block off the doorway somehow with a temporary sheet or something. Now, you don’t get decorating tips like that often do you?

Just before dusk I supervised my young neighbour as he cut my grass for me . I had trimmed a few bushes earlier.So my yard which is on a curved village street open to kindly neighbourly scrutiny looks quite presentable, thankyou.

I’ve read excerpts from my three new books today. The walking book is a nice gentle read and not bossy in its approach to suggesting healing walks. It’s got me moving despite the heat wave but only in little circuits of increased walking. I’d cite it for you but I’m too lazy to get out of the chair and check the title and author. I think it is called Healing Walks for Hard Times. Anyway. it’s good and I’ll refer to it later, in another blog, maybe. Wait till there is a snap in the air this fall and you will see my dust!

The two novels are quite unusual. One is funny and off beat to say the least. It’s called Jitterbug Perfume. I read only a chapter or two but laughed at the absurdity of it. The other novel is rather challenging and complicated with six narratives going on to just sit and read despite being beautifully written. Cloud Atlas is more of a cool day book when it is raining outside and you need a blanket on your knees. It’s too hot to read much of it today but I’ll carry on with it when I can.  A neighbour friend brought me a book last week called The White Bone and it is very different and epic in a Grapes of Wrath style but in this heat just reading it lulls me to sleep. It is the kind of book  to read when I need to be wearing  a wooly sweater and bed socks. Obviously my reading habits have something to do with the heat, hormone issues and my attention span.

 Supper tonight was a skillet affair as my oven is on the blink. Some dishes are still soaking and that’s fairly typical as we eat late and then I often bake even later (when the oven works). Most of the laundry is folded and some of it is put away. The cats are out wandering in the moonlight instead of being safely asleep inside the house.Things just seem to be out of sync but that’s perfectly okay.

 It’s the heat.


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It Pays To Keep An Open Mind

Recycling magazines is a good idea as they are expensive and many others can enjoy them once they have been read. Recently I was given a bag full of celebrity type magazines which were full of comforting news about the rich and famous.  A few tidbits of this and that actually were of interest to me . The disturbing thing is that a great number of the celebrities in the articles I didn’t even recognize or know anything about their work. If a target audience is what they are seeking  I must have missed the target. I’ve since handed on the magazines to a neighbour.

 Of all the information I was impressed enough by one article to apply its information to my own life. One celebrity gave her opinion on diets and eating and suggested making soup as a way to handle hunger  cravings while trying to control weight. This isn’t exactly earth shattering information. In fact, everybody knows this. However, it was  the right timing for me as I was trying to cut back on eating junk between meals. So pans banging I washed up all the vegetables I could find in the fridge and cooked them up in water and a little broth. At least ten different  vegetables were used in this soup. Some parsley, garlic and dried chilies in hefty spoonfuls got thrown in during the  cooking process. A couple shakes of sauce was added instead of salt. In only a few minutes it was cooked enough and ready to cool before blending it into a smooth puree.

 Of course I was too impatient and didn’t let it cool enough so it was very hot  and flew out of the blender onto my palm burning it  a little. Soon , after some pulses in the blender it turned into a very dark green smooth puree that looked liked baby food. However, it didn’t taste like baby food with those hot chilies and Worcestershire sauce.  After two bowls I felt quite satisfied and not interested in chips, dip, pop or chocolate. There was enough for today’s lunch and it got mixed reviews from my adult son, but he ate it up.

 So guess what is on the stove again? Tonight the amount of vegetables is only seven  and no broth but in substitution I’ve added some canned tomatoes.  The thing is that it is a step in the right direction.  It’s a step I knew about all along but it took a self-absorbed celebrity type to smarten me up. You never know who you will find a connection with or who can give some sound advice.

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