Happy Dance

Can you see my happy dance? We have high speed internet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've just picked up the Bell 3G data stick and it's wonderful. Now I won't have to spend hours sitting in front of the computer "waiting".

Grilled BBQ Pizza



After finding out that I'm vegan, people first call me crazy and then drop their jaws and ask, "Oh my God, how do you live without pizza?!"

My question to them is, "Who is living without?!"

I guess they probably mean the standard issue North American cheese and grease pie and I can't turn my nose up at it too much, because once upon a time I lived on deep dishes from Pizza Hut. Now the thought of one makes me want to puke my crazy vegan brains out.

Okay, I'm being a bit ridiculous. I have to admit that at least half the people I come across are inquisitive and intrigued more than they are defensive. I've just happened to have several run-ins with the other kind over the last couple days. Truth be told, however, the majority of people may crack jokes but I genuinely believe they are not trying to be snarky. Although they usually do follow it up with a, "That's really great but I could never live without _____________"

I used to always start sentences that way. "Omg I could NEVER live without my digital camera"...."I could NEVER live without air conditioning"..."I could NEVER live without cheese". When you stop and repeat these sentences to yourself a couple times it finally registers how ridiculous they are. I refuse to believe we are that dependent and that controlled by things. We are not as addicted to things as we seem to think we are, and we really sell ourselves short as a species...aside from a handful of necessities (I'm talking water and air), we really can live without the majority of things we've become dependent on. In fact, we thrive without a lot of them.

So, these days I make a conscious effort to own my words a bit more. I try not to say "I can't eat _______", and instead say "I choose not to eat ________". I'm a sociologist, I like agency...humans are active beings with the capacity to reflect and evaluate and make choices. I like sentences that own that agency. So yes, it's not that I can't eat cheese pizza...it's that I choose not to eat cheese pizza. And look at that, I'm still alive and kicking...and much more feverishly than I was when I had all that cheese weighing me down.

This is a vegan pizza that uses no soy product and no fake cheese.

The other night I was making a ton of homemade Memphis bbq sauce to marinade and freeze tofu in, for "oh my god there is nothing to EAT in this house" nights. I remembered my pre-vegan love of Domino's bbq pizzas, where barbeque sauce is used instead of tomato sauce, and the veggies have char marks all over them. I decided to create a vegan version.

The Domino's version obviously has some sort of meat so I could have used fake chicken strips or even tofu to make it a bit more "authentic", but I'm not into the fake stuff and we try to limit our soy intake. Instead, we grilled portobello mushrooms, which have an almost-creepy meatlike consistency when charred a little bit. We also grilled eggplant, bell pepper, onion and zucchini. We smothered everything in bbq sauce and threw it on a homemade whole grain pizza crust and then into the oven for about 20 minutes.

It turned out really, really well. The only change I would make is the style of bbq sauce. I was already in the throes of making memphis bbq sauce when I decided to make the pizza, so that is what ended up on the pizza, but I think a hickory style bbq sauce would suit the portobellos more.
















The light at the end of the tunnel we can definitely see. The electrical was completed for the staff, store and bathroom. The electrical was started in the front room (processing area) and should be completed once all the plastic walls are in place.





We have put a new hole in the exterior wall for a basement door. The side door will be higher and the stairs will be removed so the whole process area is one level. No more stairs to lug fish up or down. Our side porch will be going up to be the same level as the side door so that we will have a loading dock of sorts.





The shed that will house our smokers will be started in a couple of days. The floors in the plant will begin to be sloped once the plastic walls are started.





Today will be the last day of demo in the plant. Just the rebuild to do. By tonight the stairs will be in place for the basement, no more stairs from the side and the final wall will be built to block off the basement completely from upstairs. The drywall may be put up and mudded tonight depending on energy level. That means I will be sanding and painting tomorrow while Andrew either starts the plastic wall or cement pad for the shed or both.





We are looking at late next week to being back to somewhat normal depending on the progress of this project.





The 28th was our 14th wedding anniversary so we would like to see the completion of this task as one of the more massive challenges we have overcome together. It was a true test but it wasn't the first thing we built together. Our house we built together 12 years ago and we moved in when it was just a shell and the second floor wasn't even in place. Our front bay windows was the door with a sheet a plywood and our ceiling was a leaky tarp.





I hope you enjoy the pictures but I wish I had some from before for this is not even close to how it use to look.





Again, thank you for your patience and support through this project. We will be back shortly. The boat is waiting for us with all the nets on the dock.

The Seattle area is being scorched with high temperatures that are off the charts since records started to be kept. The high temperature recorded at Seatac Airport yesterday was 104 degrees Fahrenheit! The usual temperature for this time of year is about 77 degrees F. There are news stories of brush fires, power supply brown-outs and people suffering from heat exposure. Great warnings are being given to stay hydrated and to keep as cool as possible. We are fortunate to have air conditioning in our house which is working really well to keep us cool. Which leads me into how I've been keeping cool for the past few days ... apart from spending hours yesterday reading terrific and varied blogs on the topic of Inspiration.

I decided to get stuck in with some piecing. I'm back with a Small Lone Star design which you can see I made a mock up for on some cardstock. I put the mockup down inside the Jan Krentz design mirrors to get an idea of what the finished block would look like. I tried the diamond both ways up and like this layout the best. Each of the 9 fabrics in the diamond is different. What made this especially fun was that I purchased a package of 2 1/2" strips from Harbor Quilt. They have been putting together their own selection of "Jelly Rolls." I couldn't resist the lovely black, yellow and red fabrics which have a decidedly contemporary twist. Having the strips already cut, certainly lightened the workload on my cranky hands, which I still haven't had seen to. Once again I played my "Jan Krentz Teaches You Lone Star Quilts" DVD to remind myself of the nifty tricks Jan presents in that work. Today I'll be blocking those diamonds and pondering what fabric to use for the setting squares and triangles. I have enough strips left over to make two Lone Star blocks. I think it must have taken me only a couple of hours to stitch up these diamonds. I can't say enough good things about Jan's methods for making this ever-popular design. Her recommendation to press the seams open makes for lovely flat patchwork.

There also is progress on my Baskets quilt. I have 8 more blocks to make and got to sewing the rest of half square triangles needed for these yesterday as well. The Triangles on a Roll papers are just terrific to use and hasten the process of making all those half square triangles.

I am pretty happy with the precision on both these projects. I'm finding it fun to have a goal to do my best work rather than whizzing through and settling for less than perfect points!

So bring on the heat again today! It's a great excuse to stay inside and play with fabric!


The New Miss Ella


I decided to get Ella's hair cut yesterday. It is so fine. Belinda's hair was the same way until Mom cut it short, now it's nice and thick. I hope Ella's will do the same. I can't believe how much thicker it looks just being cut. Ella loves her new hair, now she can comb it herself and not get tangled.

Inspiration Wednesday

If you're interested in the Inspiration post below, please go to Weaver's blog to read about this meme.

I entered The Royal School for Daughters of Officers of the Army in Bath, Somerset at age 10 in 1953 and left at age 17 on the brink of the 1960s. It was the aim of the school that “all girls should prepare themselves for a useful career.” Hmmm. I think many of the well-meaning teachers thought that we were primed to be educated as army officers wives and the mothers of tomorrow, for the most part.

The activities that fired my imagination and inspired me the most were the times spent in arts classes. In particular the world of theatre arts struck a deep chord in my young soul. I was an only child and already had a very fertile imagination, which was guided to expression when I discovered the joys of acting. In our “Elocution” lessons I was whisked away from the rigors of Latin, Arithmetic, Chemistry and Nature Study into the arms of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, TS Eliot, Dylan Thomas, John Betjeman, Moliere, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Ogden Nash and many more. We weren’t impressed by the famous names of these playwrights and poets, we were just amazed how our voices and hearts could lift words from a page and breathe life and meaning into them as living and spoken words as we recited the poems and performed scenes from plays.

My first big chance at performing at school came with the role of the Queen Mother in A.P. Herbert’s play "Fat King Melon," performed before the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester at Founders Day at the school. I was just 11 years old at the time. I remember playing Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” a very Dame Edith Evans performance I’m told. I donned a periwig and bound my chest with a corset to play Sir Anthony Absolute in a production of “The Rivals.” I also performed Le Misanthrope, in French, at a Festival in Bristol. I played Juliet, Portia, Lord Brutus' wife, Katherine the Shrew and other Shakespeare heroines. I got so carried away at the Mid Somerset Festival when I played a scene from J.B. Priestley's "Time and the Conways," that I think I almost didn't return into my schoolgirl body for several hours!

I loved preparing for the LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) examinations in speech and drama and remember with gratefulness the amazing Miss Norah Ball, our beloved drama teacher, and the excitement of performing in front of the famous LAMDA adjudicator and teacher, Frieda Hodgson. Those two dear women believed that the confidence gained by learning to act could help students in their approach to interviews for jobs, public speaking and business meetings. They were so right about that. But it was more than that for me. They encouraged my talents and rewarded me with their praise and constructive criticism for which I shall always be grateful. My career was not to be in the theatre; I turned into mostly a wife (not an army wife) and mother, but now that the sons have grown, I have been fortunate to dip into those well learned lessons of long ago and work in various aspects of TV production, more recently as Voice Talent and On-Camera Talent. I love when things come full circle, don't you?

Nowadays, whenever I record a voice over or appear on our local PBS station during pledge drives, I send a little upward glance over my shoulder to make sure Miss Ball and Mrs. Hodgson are approving of my diction and delivery.



It's summer, so we've been trying to do two things 1) eat lighter and 2) not cook in the house. Of course there's a lot of BBQ options, but the weather around here has been really rainy and miserable for the majority of the summer. Funny, I don't recall moving to Seattle, but that is sure what it feels like.

However, I'm trying to cut Mama Nature a little slack, being that we've been abusing her quite some time now...I'm sure my weekend patio plans are the least of her concerns.

Last week on a day that was *finally* a bit sunny, I found myself with an abundance of fresh Ontario "summer squash" (zucchini)



and my most favourite way to eat said zucchini is fresh off the grill. I was clicking through Susan's blog and saw her recipe for stuffed zucchini. I don't have an apple corer and I am not patient enough to carve out the centers as neatly as she did, so we opted for the less classy zucchini "boats". The stuffing is made up of basmati rice with fresh parsley, basil and oregano from my garden. I normally buy brown basmati rice, but it was nowhere to be found in our under-construction supermarket. I reluctantly took a bag of white. It's okay, but I much prefer the brown...it takes longer to cook and it's firmer than the white version, but it is less starchy and I find it to be much easier on the system than the white. Hopefully I will find some california brown basmati again sometime soon. Either way, the zucchini boats cooked up great on the grill



and we ate them with spicy garlic hummus and fresh cut pitas. It was a nice light meal and they turned out great, but we are compulsive face-stuffers and so were starving about an hour later. Sigh... the effort was at least there, right?

Eat Your Zucchini!
The traditional nutrients provided by summer squash are equally impressive. Our food ranking system qualified summer squash as an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C and a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A (notably through its concentration of carotenoids, including beta-carotene), fiber, potassium, folate, copper, riboflavin, and phosphorus.

Many of these nutrients have been shown in studies to be helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Summer squash's magnesium has been shown to be helpful for reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Together with the potassium in summer squash, magnesium is also helpful for reducing high blood pressure. The vitamin C and beta-carotene found in summer squash can help to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol.

In research studies, extracts from squash have also been found to help reduce symptoms of a condition occurring in men called benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH. In this condition, the prostate gland becomes problematically enlarged, which can cause difficulty with urinary and sexual function. Particularly in combination with other phytonutrient-containing foods, squash may be helpful in reducing BPH symptoms.

[excerpt from whfoods.com]

A BROTHER'S LOVE



For years he called her four nostril bum face, teased her incessantly, and kept any potential boyfriends at bay but every weekend for the last month Matthew's been working hard in our yard doing landscaping in preparation for Brittany's big day. He offered to do it and it's been a labour of love. Some days I think I have the best kids in the world, other days I know I have the best kids ever.
We are at the point we can see the end. It isn't very close but it is there. Andrew is working on the electrical for the bathroom, staff room and storage room right now. I am running for parts and wires.
We are missing the fish but believe when we are finished it will be for the better. Just to get there is testing our patience and working as a team. Seriously, husband/wife shouldn't do a couple of things together like putting up drywall or making up floor plans. But we can laugh or just smile about it later even if it needs to redone a few times.
Our one son is off the Band Camp this week. The other two just returned from a day of dryland training for skiing. They had to run 6 km, kayak for 5 km, roller skiing and do some other things. Today they are feeling it but they are off to do some more training at the Cape Croker Park. I think by the first snow fall they will be able to run circles around the rest of us. Just hearing about all of this running and so on is making me sore. They are wishing for snow already so they can go skiing again. I think they should enjoy the cycling for a bit longer and not rush the summer(?).
Well we are hoping to be back in the markets shortly. Still lots to do but we are moving quickly and have a game plan. We know what needs to be done and the order it has to be done in. Slowly it is being checked off our list and the changes are looking good. Still looking at maybe two weeks but that is pushing it. We are hoping though.
This recipe comes from my Great-Grandma's cookbook -Kate Aitken's Canadian Cook Book It's one of those books I like to sit and read even when I'm not looking for a recipe. It's not very "chatty" but I find Kate's "Note to Brides" interesting and a window into a world gone by.

Chicken a la King

3-4 lb chicken, or 3 cups leftover chopped chicken (bite size)

if using raw chicken, simmer in water with a chopped onion and a couple whole cloves until cooked. Cool chicken (saving broth) and remove from bones and chop.

In a largish saucepan (I use my non-stick) melt 3T butter and 2 T green relish, cook till tender. Add 5 T flour or cornstarch and cook 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups broth (or gravy) and cook over medium heat until thick and smooth -stirring constantly. Add 3/4 cup cream (milk will work), 1 eggs and the chopped chicken. Heat to boiling, but don't boil.

Serve over toast cups or patty shells.


This week's beef roast is too big for the crock pot, so I'll do it in the oven. Nothing fancy.

7lb beef roast
sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder
a little water in the bottom of the pan to prevent smoking

Roast 350F for approximately 20min a pound, until it reaches 160F for medium. I always use my digital meat thermometer with an alarm -no more overcooked meat.


Another Monday has arrived. I have such a pile of laundry. I've been hoping for some good days, but I'll have to give in and use the dryer today -we are out of face cloths. Not too much planned for this week, not officially anyway I have a few things I would like to get accomplished. Nothing too exciting on the menu this week, I seemed to be having a brain cramp last night :) Maybe I'll look through some cookbooks and come up with a surprise or two.

Monday:
toasted tomato sandwich -the first from the garden, peanut butter and honey for the crazy non-tomato eaters

spaghetti and Swiss garlic bread

Tuesday:
grocery day

chicken a la king -leftover chicken from Saturday

Wednesday:
pizza

roast beef -since I'll be using the oven, I will likely roast some potatoes

Thursday:
pizza

l/o chicken a la king

Friday:
hot dogs and chips

l/o roast beef

Saturday:
mac & cheese for Daddy and Ella, pierogies for Momma

pork chops on the BBQ

Sunday:
hamburgers and salad

hot beef sandwiches and french fries

Don't forget to head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas.

I have a new favourite website. It's called Mennonite Girls Can Cook. There are so many great sounding recipes. I tried a bunch this weekend:

Swiss Garlic Bread

Cheesy Onion Burger Buns -I'd make these thinner, but that's our family preference

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies -ok, I'll be honest, I haven't made this one yet but it's on the plan for today.
UPDATE: these cookies are yummy. I had to put the extras in the freezer to keep Daddy from eating them all! They were easy to roll because I used my silicone baking sheet, I would think parchment would have worked too.





The Weekend

This was supposed to be a really nice weekend. Belinda and Stefan came up Friday with the "new" car. I had a lovely supper planned for Saturday (Uncle Stefan's b-day last week). Colin woke up Saturday morning at 6 and discovered we had NO water. This is a very serious situation. The pigs can start dying really quickly with no water. One good thing was that it wasn't that hot/humid Saturday. Panic call to the plumber only got the answering machine. Nothing Colin tried was working. At 8 I headed up the highway to the plumber's house (our neighbour) and woke him up! Oops! Anyway, he was down by 9 and trying to figure out what went wrong. Colin thought maybe a leak in the waterline to the house -not good since it runs under my perennial garden.

They had to pull out the pump, which is 200 feet down and replace some little gasket. This gave us some water in the house. Since we had water I decided to go ahead and make supper at home, instead of at the in-laws (they are away). Shortly after starting the water went out again. We had no more water. You can imagine the piles of dishes I had by the end of the day. You don't realize how often you wash/rinse something until there is no water. The plumber had to come back and they pulled out the pump again. This time he replaced the entire pump.

We finally had water again!!!! 7:30 Daddy finally came in for his first meal of the day. I don't know how he didn't fall over from hunger. I took advantage of the MIL being away and used her dishwasher to wash all the dinner plates and such :) Mom came over this morning and helped me wash all the remaining pots and pans.

We had fun with Auntie Belinda and Uncle Stefan even though Daddy couldn't come and play. We even got in the pool in between rain storms. We even took Auntie Belinda to Walmart to get a new picture of the three of us girls.

Let's hope that's the last problem with the well for a while. I shudder to think what the plumber's bill is going to look like, considering he was here nearly 8 hours.

Landscape Mini Quilts


Here's a little quilting journey I've been on. Mini landscape quilts! This is a low- stress, instant gratification technique developed by author Joyce R. Becker. These are my first attempts after a recent workshop with Joyce.

Using purchased matte boards, the landscape images are designed to fit inside the opening of the board. The final work will be framed, like a picture, and hung on the wall. The first image I have titled "Secret Garden." I used a 16 x 20 matte to determine the size of my landscape (10 1/2" x 13 1/2"). The second piece, "End of Summer" was designed to fit in an 11 x 14 matte, ending up with the landscape measuring 91/2" x 12." I added details and dimension by coloring with fabric inks, a touch of rubber stamping of grasses and a little free motion embroidery sketching on some of the natural elements. I'm still not very good at the free motion part, but had a go anyway!

Since I am a total beginner at this, I kept it simple for myself. I had a nice stash of suitable fabric (some generously shared by Joyce in her workshop, I might add) and went to work cutting out various elements from the fabrics to build my design. I have no advanced formal art training, but I have learned a thing or two about design along my quilting journey. However, I can snip fabric out and stick it down and embellish it. So this felt quite painterly to do and most satisfying. I still have some thread work to do and will find some simple frames to place them in and Ta-Dah -- instant original landscape mini quilts in a manageable size.

(The first DVD title I produced for C & T Publishing was "Joyce Becker Teaches you Landscape Quilting" and I am surprised that I've never tried to make a landscape quilt before now. But it's never too late, and I'm hooked!)


I have always had a weird aversion to leftovers. I think it's because I am kind of a germaphobe and somewhere along the line a Discovery show drew my attention to the bacteria that grows in last night's dinner as it sits away in the fridge. It is ridiculous and wasteful both in terms of throwing out perfectly good food AND in terms of the time spent in the kitchen.

With things as busy as they are these days, I've jumped on the meal planning bandwagon. Not only do I map out our meals for the week (so that we don't go to the supermarket and spend $100 on nothing and then starve for the week), but in an effort to save time and money I've been plotting meals that incorporate the same staples so that I don't overbuy. I know, this is like "Life Basics 101"...but being that as little as two years ago I didn't cook at all (toast was considered an extravagance), this is kind of new territory for me.

One of our favourite meals is spaghetti and lentilballs. Making the lentilballs isn't that difficult, but it is a bit time consuming because you have to cook the rice and lentils first, then put all the ingredients together and then bake them for a half hour or so. This week I thought I would try doubling the recipe and using the leftovers for lentilball subs (a vegan version of the classic deli meatball sub). Look at those cute lentilballs!



This all happened to coincide with my discovery of the Grainharvest Bakery and their assortment of vegan-friendly bread products (after sensing my utter euphoria at the plethora of fresh baked dairy-free and sugar-free breadstuffs the lady even offered us each a FREE soft pretzel...do you know how long it's been since I've had a soft pretzel?!!!). The only downside was that she didn't have any fresh baked whole grain buns available when we were in there, but told me to call ahead next time and she would whip some up. Awesome.

I followed Isa's recipe for Brooklyn-style "red" (marinara) sauce:



We stuffed the buns with lots of baby spinach, red onion and green pepper. It turned into quite possibly the messiest meal ever eaten in our kitchen (as evidenced by the picture above), but also one of the most delicious.

Leftovers, for the win!

(no title)

Wow, it's been about a week since I was out to the barn to check on the chicks. I can't believe how they have grown!!! They look more like chicken than chicks anymore. They have such big, strong feet/legs. I really like the brown ones, they are so nice looking.

Uncle Stefan and Auntie Belinda (aka my sister) are coming up for a visit this weekend. I really need to get some housework done. I swear this house grows dust, dust bunnies certainly multiply. I need to get some extra baking done too.

I had a friend once tell me that I must have a golden horseshoe stuck up my backside (not her exact wording). She seemed to think that good things happened to me for no apparent reason. I argued that good things happened to everyone you just had to recognize it. Being the pessimist she is, she didn't buy it. Another friend once commented that I have the luck of the Irish sometimes. Having done some genealogy, I couldn't argue, there's definitely some Irish ancestry. Brittany it would seem, has inherited it too. I cannot believe how things are coming together for her wedding and the deals we have been able to get. It's been nothing short of amazing. I believe we've really been blessed. First there were the wedding invitations that we got at 75% off the sale price that just happened to be the right colour. Then there was the whole ordeal of trying to find a tent to rent. Only one was available and it was 50x70 feet. I told the rental agent it was a wedding we were holding not a circus. I mentioned it to my neighbor and he told me that right in the little town we live in, the Lions Club rented tents. I was able to get just what I wanted at half the price of any place else. I could go on and on but I won't bore you with the details, I'll save them for their own separate posts. I hope that things continue to go in this direction. There is still a lot to do yet but I am confident that it will all come together. I just hope that one day when I am bending over to pick something up, that golden horseshoe doesn't pop out.
Here's a couple recipes for pickles. I love pickles and relishes. Guess it's the German in me:)

Just an FYI, my recipes are minimal, if you are unfamiliar with canning, please, please find a good canning book. Don't mess around with canning, be sure your family will be safe. But don't forget to have fun. It's not hard once you know "the rules"

Pickled Beets

Cut the leaves off the beets, leaving about an inch of stem. Boil for about 30 minutes, until fork tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. If they are fully cooked, the skins will slip right off in your hand (I wear plastic gloves). Cut off root and stem ends. Slice or cube beets (your choice) into freshly washed Mason jars. Fill jars with hot brine, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch head space. Wipe rim and place on snap lids/rings. Process 30 min for pints and 35 min for quarts

Brine

Heat and combine completely: 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water
Make up as much as needed depending on how many beets you have on hand.



Spicy Dill Pickles

Brine

Heat and combine completely: 5 qts water, 2 qts vinegar and 1 3/4 cup pickling salt

In clean Mason jars, place 1-2 cloves of garlic, a head of dill, and 1 tsp pickling spice in the bottom of each jar. Scrub up a pile of cucumbers. I use small ones but use the size you want. Cut off the blossom ends. Put cucumbers in jar, slicing if necessary. Pack in fairly tightly (will prevent floating). Make sure cucumbers will be covered by brine. Fill jars with hot brine, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Put on lids and process 15 min for pints, 20 min. for quarts.

Dill Pickles

Use recipe as above, leaving out the pickling spices.

Isms


Hey! Nope, no great post about stereotypes here, just a few amusing anecdotes from life. :-)

So I've been teaching a lot of swimming classes, and the kids are great. It's a lot of fun, if challenging, and I really enjoy it. Teaching is so worth it in so many ways! With that said, sometimes they amuse me, so here are some tiny-swimmer-isms for you!

Age 5: (as he gets in the water) *big eyes* "My ears are on fire!!!"

Age 5: (I had just told them they couldn't go over the black line [so they would stay put!] because it was made of lava and would burn them... boys. :-P ) "I can touch the lava because I'm in a BUBBLE!"

Age 4: (I had just asked them to float like their favourite animal) "I'm a chipmunk!!!" *beady eyes and bulging cheeks)

Age 8: (As I randomly hum "You Belong With Me") "Hey! I know that song!" "Taylor Swift." "I know!!!" (Seriously, how do these kids notice this stuff, I only hummed a few notes?!)

Age 4: (After just doing a lot of hard swimming and diving and such [Note: Fun day is our last day where we just play games, go on the rope swing and jump off the diving board.]) "Hey Mom! Today was like fun day!!"

Age 4: "Why do you have so many holes in your ears?" (haha!)

Age 5: "Let go, let go, I can do it!" *proceeds to begin to drown* "Noo! Don't let go! Why did you let go? Don't ever let go! Nooo!!"

Age 10: (When doing simulations for how to call 911) "I need the ambulance, I'm in the Himalayas and someone just fell down and hit their head."

Age 9: (Same 911 simulation) "I'm at the pool and I need the ambulance, someone just ate pickle juice!" *prompting from me that it needs to be an injury* "... and then they fell down backwards and hit their head!"

Age 5: "Mummy..." *big eyes* "I mean Sheila!" (and she did it twice, on two different days. Aww!)

And then of course there are the kids that are just generally adorable, or the ones that hold onto me like I'm the centre of the universe. Or the place where you get to play counselor for a second while a 10-year-old girl comes up to you looking really sad and concerned and says "Do you like this swimsuit? It makes my hips look big." And of course where has she heard that? So sad. No honey, your swimsuit, and your whole body, are just lovely, don't you ever worry about that! There are the girls who have long hair that always gets in their eyes and I take out my own pony and pull their hair back and they look at me like such darlings, and the little ones who always ask me to fix their goggles as they are too big or too small or have gone askew.

It's like any teaching, really. I had one little 7-year-old piano student crawl into my lap, crying about something that had happened at home, and I just held her for a minute and wiped the tears away from her sweet, little eyes. Or just the joy in making some seemingly unimportant little flute piece feel important and grand by giving it a story and emotion and seeing the kids smile and bring it back the next week with all the grandeur of a Mozart concerto.

Sometimes I don't feel like teaching. Sometimes I slog through it, or nip unkindly at the kids. But they are so forgiving, and at the end of the day, they bring me such joy, not only in what they accomplish, but in the little 'isms' that I see that seem so trivial to some, but in the moment, make my world go 'round.

Hugs and bubbles,
Sheila
We are hurrying. Just days are flying and the little jobs are turning into huge ones.
We want to thank all the people supporting us through this challenging time and as soon as we can we will be back.
The fish are just waiting for us and our boat is tugging at the dock. We just replaced her prop so she would like to give it a spin.
The nets are cleaned and just waiting on shore. Just waiting on the plant to get finished.
The last coat of mud went on the walls today so the painting will start tomorrow. The sloping of the floors will also begin. A whole lot of math which I was never to great in. Luckily Andrew is great with numbers and knows how to use all of the tools and machines.
The boys are doing well through all of this. All of them did a bike race in London and won 2 first places and one second place. Also one won a brand new bike. One of the boys just finished Band Camp in Southampton and has earned a scholarship to attend another Band Camp in a week again held in Southampton. Training will begin this weekend for cross country skiing(winter -bah). They also joined baseball and they are enjoying it. Another beach volleyball camp is being set up and that will add to the schedule. So they are keeping busy and going to bed tired. Just reading this little blurb about the boys is making me tired.
Again, we will be back asap. We are doing as much as we can for we need to get back to the markets and doing something we love and have a strong passion for.


I haven't been in much of a blogging mood lately. When you spend all day in front of a computer screen working on the same project you've been working on for the last three years (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) the last thing you want to do during downtime is to further stare at that screen. Plus, we've been really, REALLY busy and constantly on the go..so I haven't been too adventurous in the kitchen lately.

We did go to an engagement party at The Flying Dog on Saturday night, where I had some really delicious thai rolls and a tortilla salad (arugula, avocado, tomatoes and chipotle-lime dressing..YUM!). They were very accommodating and even allowed Paul to have tofu instead of chicken in his pasta dish. I (of course) took pictures of all these things and then accidentally deleted them! Boo. :( You will just have to go there and check it out for yourself.

Anyway, the above burritos are the most interesting thing I've cooked lately that you haven't already seen. I followed the recipe in Eat, Drink & Be Vegan and once again Dreena Burton has outdone herself. Seriously. Being burritos, they undeniably have a Mexican flavour, but the curry used to flavour the beans gives the whole thing an unexpected kick. She recommends sprinkling vegan cheese on the top for the last 5 minutes of baking but I'm not at all into fake cheeses. For one they are full of chemicals and soy proteins and for another, they just don't taste all that great. I don't really miss real cheese so there is no need for me to learn to like them...I just leave them out of recipes or try subbing in something else.

Thinking that the burritos might be a little dry if I didn't have any sort of topping, I served them with a generous helping of smoky avocado sauce (also from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan) on top. The verdict is a double-win, with both me and the mister agreeing to add it to our recipe roster.

Well actually, it's a little early for pickle season but the garden is ready. I've already made 5 pints of spicy dill pickles (Colin says there are more cucumbers ready). Since today is the last day of nice temperatures, before the hot and disgusting return, Grandma and I are busy making pickled beets. Daddy thinned out the beet bed and came in with a laundry basket full of beets. We've got 5 jars filled already and 2 large pots cooking away on the stove. That's the only problem with beets, they take so long to cook before you can peel and slice them. I like to preserve food, I just wish it didn't always coincide with the hottest days of the year :)

I haven't got time to put the recipes up right now, but will get back to them soon -I hope

Menu Plan Monday -20 July 09



I just realized that I forgot to post my menu for last week. Oops :)

Here's what we're having this week.

Monday:
Hamburgers and salad

Parmesan chicken, roast potatoes (if not too hot)

Tuesday:
Polish sausage sandwiches and chips

Short ribs leftover from Sunday

Wednesday:
Cowboy Casserole

Pulled pork fajitas -new recipe

Thursday:
??

spaghetti and garlic bread

Friday:
Sloppy joes

Leftover fajitas

Saturday:
Pierogies and Alfredo -pierogies are homemade from our St. Jacob's trip, Alfredo is for the two who don't know what yummy food is -ha ha

Roast chicken -garlic roast chicken if our garlic is ready for harvest


Sunday:
Waffles (frozen)

Roast beef

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for other menu ideas.

MOTHER OF THE BRIDE DRESS

Perhaps the biggest difficulty I have encountered with this whole wedding is trying to find an appropriate Mother of the Bride dress. Apparently it needs to be "special". As one web site puts it "you are the most important woman in the bride's life and your dress should reflect that. You should be the second most beautiful woman in the room."
What???? That's got to be some dress that can pull that off. I haven't found it. Most of the MOB dresses I have seen are either dowdy and old fashioned or terribly immodest ( I am talking plunging necklines down to the navel). I wonder how many high class hookers (an oxymoron if there ever was one) masquerade as MOBs to buy those ones.
Shopped out and discouraged, I made my way to the fabric store to see if I could at least perhaps find a pattern and material I liked. I lucked out and found some gold taffeta at less than three dollars a meter ( I only needed two) and a Vogue pattern which was more than the material. I normally wear a size 6-10 in clothes depending on the make and brand but on the most part a size 8 is normal for me. I got the pattern in a size 12 knowing that you usually get the pattern a couple of sizes up. I set to sewing and had everything done but inserting the zipper when I took a good look at it and thought that it looked a little small. It was. So now I have a mostly finished dress that is too small and I am back to square one. In the end I think I will just dig around in my closet for a dress to wear and if anyone compliments me on it I will just smile and say " Oh this?, it's just a little something I pulled out of the closet" I won't be lying.

The MoonlandingNot only did Sgt. Pepper teach the band to play, but Neil Armstrong was the first human to put his footprint on the moon! I remember it well.. the shadowy black and white images and the slightly crackly voice coming from a small TV in Encino, California. The famous words: "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It really was a huge achievement and I think it's good to stop and remember that day for the bravery of the crew of Apollo 11 and for the technical wizardry of all who made that mission possible. Also remembered this day is the late Walter Cronkite, whose calm voice shepherded the TV audience through this momentous adventure. May he rest in peace.

Daddy's TV Appearance -100th Post

A while ago I mentioned the local tv channel was coming out to do a segment on the OVFC. Well, here's the link. I think Colin did a great job portraying the reality of farming today.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWVwTZ_qqac

I just realized this was my 100th post -woo hoo me :)

A few pics!



Hey! Sorry I've been so bad with posting. Don't worry, my diary isn't seeing my pen as much as it should either.

I'm crazy busy with work and just living my life, studying, practicing, visiting friends, learning new things.

Point is, I want to write lots, but I don't have a lot of mental space for it. If I'm not around, don't worry, life is fine, I am well! Enjoy a few pics!

Hugs,
Sheila


Just a quick note. We are in the middle of renovations to the plant. When we are completed we hope to return to the markets asap. But it looks like it will be at least 2 weeks maybe even a month from now.
We have not been fishing since we started so the push is on to get back in the water soon. Again the fisherman on shore to long is not a great thing. I would like to get back to what we know best and that is fish. So as soon as we can, we will be back.
Thanks again for your patience. We will be back soon we hope.

Pinto Bean Vegan Hot Dogs



We're going camping in a few weeks with a very large group. I've been trying to determine what to take because like many vegans, I compulsively overpack for everything and then end up eating less than half of what I bring along. The excess foodstuff ends up soggy and gross from being in the cooler for several days and it ultimately finds its final resting place in the trash. Wastefulness resulting from the anxiety that I'm going to be trapped in the wilderness with nothing to eat.

When it comes to vegan camping you can generally duplicate any omni treat you remember from growing up. There are vegan marshmallows (which I haven't tried, but Paul is obsessed with so I'm assuming they are good) and dark chocolate (or vegan milk chocolate...or carob..) for s'mores. There's veggie burgers and dogs for roasting on the fire. I don't feel left out in the slightest when it comes to camping.

While tofurky sausages are delicious and easy to prepare in the middle of the woods, I saw Vegan Dad's attempt at Isa's from-scratch vegan sausages. Obviously, I had to try it and see how it would hold up to the authenticity test.

The first step calls for mashing the pinto beans and it is so weird but mashed pinto beans have that 'hot dog' smell. Who knows..it could be that along with all the mystery meat and random parts there are pinto beans in regular hot dogs.

Maybe not. Maybe I don't want to know what makes up a regular hot dog and have a right to not know since I don't eat them anyway.

So, the pinto beans give them the hot dog smell (and taste) and the wheat gluten gives them their texture. The spices are just for fun and I put an ungodly amount of red pepper flake but avoided the fennel because we're not its biggest fans.

I don't think I mashed the beans enough before putting in the gluten because the mixture was sticky and a bit difficult to work with. I had the same problem making Isa's chickpea cutlets that was easily corrected by not mixing in the gluten until all other ingredients were combined. I'll try that the next time I do these dogs.

Shaping them was also an epic fail on my behalf...I didn't roll them tight enough in the tin foil and so while they were steaming they took on interesting shapes. They still tasted awesome...just didn't look as pretty and hot dog-like as they could have. Next time!

I love these things because there is virtually nothing in them...none of the chemicals or isolated soy compounds that are in the packaged brands. And I don't know if I just forget what hot dogs taste like, but these tasted pretty damn authentic to me. They were great just coming out of the steamer, but we threw them on the BBQ for a few minutes to get that real summer hot dog taste.

Paired up with peppered green beans and fresh corn on the cob from the farmer's market, they made for quite the summery meal the other night. And I think they will package up quite nicely for our camping trip (and taste awesome grilled over the fire!)

Also, I have to note...that ridiculous amount of condiment above (hindering you from actually seeing the damn dogs I am talking about) is the result of me pound on near-empty mustard and ketchup bottles, only to have them make a huge mess. I do not normally consume that much, I promise. I really should have started over with a different dog to take a classier picture but they smelled so good and I just wanted to eat them instead of fuss with my camera.

Chipotle-style Guacamole



Saturday night marked the highly anticipated UFC 100. Being that I'm not all that into UFC I don't think I fully grasp the epic-ness that was this event, but it is something Paul has been going on about for months now. We typically gather with friends to watch the UFC pay-per-view events throughout the year, but since this was one for the history books I thought I'd make a snack. While I started out with some ambitious ideas about what to contribute, in my infinite laziness I took the easy way out and threw together a zippy little guacamole.

While I like cilantro just fine, Paul can't stand it and so I strayed from traditional guacamole and used dried cumin instead. Red onions, tons of tomato, garlic, lemon juice (because I was all out of lime), red onion, and of course avocado. And chipotles in adobo to make it a little fancier for such a big event.

Chipotles (or chipotle chili peppers) are just jalapeno peppers that are smoke-dried. Adobo is the marinade, made from garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, salt and spices, within which the chipotles are stewed... making a deliriously delicious concoction that tastes like barbeque, no matter what you put it on.

Finding chipotles in adobo has been a real pain around these parts lately. Our supermarket used to always carry them in the "Mexican" section. Then they only had chipotle adobo salsa which seemed to work fine. Now they have absolutely nothing that even resembles chipotles in adobo. I managed to find one lonely can at a specialty grocer last week and it cost me four freaking dollars. Which sucks, because I put them pretty much everything...chilis, tacos, enchiladas, burger patties, sandwiches, even pasta sauces now and again. It is such an easy way to add crazy flavour. Why oh why does the supermarket have to be difficult just when I've become addicted to the stuff? I have dried chipotle chili powder and liquid smoke, but it's just not the same.

Anyway, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to chipotle peppers. If it were up to me I'd probably have thrown half the can in, but I didn't want to make it too spicy in case the others weren't keen on breathing fire for the night. And this way I have some left over, because heaven knows when I will be able to find another can that doesn't cost me my unborn first child (okay, I'm probably exaggerating, but I am extremely cheap and $4 for a tiny can of anything makes me crazy).

Chicken News

Our "baby chickies" (as Ella calls them) are doing well and growing like crazy. Yesterday Daddy decided it was time to move them out of the box in the summer kitchen. He's fixed up a smaller pen inside the large pen that will eventually be part of their home -I hope to convince Colin to make an outside run for them as well as the safety of the barn.

This morning, Daddy came in from his morning chores and said that he'd made the right decision. The little chicks were running around playing and trying to fly. They definitely like the bigger pen. They will have to get much bigger to be turned loose in the big pen, as it is not barn cat proof. Our barn cats are pretty good, but it wouldn't be fair to tease/tempt them, they are still carnivores after all.

I miss hearing their little peeps though.

Sorry its been a long time

We are still here.
Just dealing with algea and weather. We are catching fish but also a lot of algea.
We hope to be back to the markets by the weeks end but no promises. If not, we will aim for the following week.
Thanks for your patience and hope to see the markets again soon.

Maia is too young to be in the wedding party (nine months) but she is going to be as sweet as pie in the dress Brittany picked out for her at the GAP. We just happened to be in there checking out their sales rack when Brittany spotted this dress that was on sale but not in the sale section. It was the perfect colour, right size, and it was the only one left. We were thrilled with our find and know she will look absolutely adorable in it.

INVITATIONS....DONE!





It took a heck of a lot longer than we planned but I can now officially say that the wedding invitations are in the mail. Whew, that is a huge task taken care of. We got quite a deal on the invitations and with a little creativity we had them looking like Brittany wanted. Here's the story on my amazing bargain.
I was in Staples looking for some black card stock which unfortunately they did not have, when I just had this feeling that I should walk to the back of the store and look around. At the very back of the store hidden at the end of an aisle was a table of clearance items and lo and behold on the table were some do it yourself wedding invitations in the same colour Brittany is using in her wedding. They were twenty dollars marked down from thirty and I wasn't sure if I should pick them up or not so I decided on a packet of gift bags for six dollars (also in her colour) instead. I went to the checkout to pay for them and discovered that they were an extra 75% off. It was at this point that I did my best Arnold impression and uttered those infamous words " I'll be back!" I cleaned them out, programs, place cards, seals, invitations, and table number signs all for under fifty dollars. I was in my absolute bargain hunting glory.

Top picture: Finished invitation
Top middle: Our assembly line
Bottom middle: The cute little gift bags I got for two dollars (not each but all).
Bottom: The original invitation in the box


It's been a stressful couple of days in our house, relating to some seriously heavy life choices on my part. I know you're not supposed to turn to food for comfort but really, it can be a pretty cheap source of therapy if you're responsible about it. Sometimes, a little extra sugar and the joy of eating something really and truly delicious (and treasuring every calorie) can clear your mind and mellow your soul.

I'm such an enabler - what a meagre attempt at me justifying the stray from my low-sugar diet. Did you buy it?

The truth is I had an abundance of strawberries and rhubarb and needed something occupy my hands other than the impending doom that is my thesis. I just needed to be distracted for a little while.

I guess it did mellow my soul a bit. There is something about the bright colours of summer that make it hard to feel sorry for yourself:


These are the days for slowing down and stopping to enjoy the gifts of nature and man. How about sitting on this park bench with its metal sculptured back featuring graceful salmon swimming upstream? What a great way to enjoy a timeless view of one of our local creeks!

Late-Night SUPER Pancake!



We typically get groceries on Tuesdays. I plan out a week's worth of meals and then make a grocery list accordingly, otherwise I end up with a cart full of nonsense (hello, oreos!) and the constant "there is nothing to eat in this house" plaguing me for a week. By Tuesday, the cupboards are usually bare, save for a staple here and there and a whole lotta spices. This week, however, we had a ton of random leftovers kicking around on Tuesday so I thought hmmm maybe I'll just go on Wednesday this week. When Wednesday rolled around I thought hmmmm I wonder if I can delay this just one more day so that I can go to the farmer's market tomorrow, rather than the supermarket today.

So, for dinner last night I managed to scrape together a bunch of not quite bad foodstuffs and made a quinoa casserole. The problem was that we didn't really have lunch (because we were busy, and also because a couple flakes of cereal weren't quite doing the trick) so we had a really early dinner. Meaning that we were starving by 9pm and our kitchen was not only out of food, it appeared to be out of the basic elements of food.

Please note that I do not condone this type of grocery russian-roulette (okay, maybe that expression is a tad excessive) because it can almost guarantee that you will eat like crap and subsequently feel like crap. But I really, really wanted to go to the market and get everything absolutely fresh -- it is summer after all, and the luxury of local freshness is fleeting in these parts... pretty soon I will be living on winter squash again.

So, last night before bed we macgyvered our way through pancake making...we laugh in the face of depleting kitchen resources! [Note - I also do not condone sugar highs before bed]

We had flour...a TINY bit of rice milk...baking powder and, could it be...enjoy life chocolate chips which we NEVER have, but I bought because they were 50% off when my beloved Green Door closed its doors.

We put together the monstrosity pictured above, split it in half, smothered in agave, et voila - a late-night super pancake that we enjoyed on the floor of our living room because that is the only way we can see what is happening on the tiny tv screen that we currently have down there..yes, Stevie the TV is still in the hospital! :(

And yes, we did go to the farmer's market this morning and now have a kitchen full of fresh broccoli, peppers, onions, potatoes, garlic, avocado, arugula, carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries and rhubarb (you know what that means -- summer pie time!).
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