Menu Plan Monday -31 August 2009

Well last week was such a write-off! I don't think I made more than 2 items that was on the menu. I wasn't planning on spending so much time at my MIL's taking care of corn and pork sales. Oh well, it had to be done. Hopefully I can spend some more time at home this week. I need to make more pickled beets and get the icicle pickles started. Not to mention clean this mess.

Monday:
pizza

chicken cacciatore and roast potatoes -this simmers unattended, so I should be able to get this done even though we have pork to weigh and label -thank Heaven's for Grandma's help with that

Tuesday:
We having a "Not Back to School" picnic with the new Pembroke area homeschool group. I can't wait for Ella to meet some other children. Daddy will have his usual pb & honey sandwich.

pork chops -I may marinate them with the souvlaki marinade from last week. It was yummy.

Wednesday:
pizza

bbq meatballs -I may try these in the crock pot or else I'll use the MIL's oven

Thursday:
I have to have an ultrasound this afternoon. When I was pregnant with Ella, the u/s techs would always ask "did anyone ever tell you you have fibroids", so my RPN has finally decided to look into it. We'll likely just have sandwiches to be quick.

pork stir fry

Friday:
hot dogs

leftover meatballs

Saturday:
leftover stir fry

turkey casserole (in freezer) -made the same as the leftover chicken casserole but with turkey

Sunday:
spaghetti

bacon and eggs

Check out the other great menu ideas at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

THE LASHES PART 2

They're off!!! The infamous fake eyelash extensions are a thing of the past. I know I should be happy about it, but part of me is a bit ticked, after all they were very expensive and lasted only two weeks of a promised eight. Apparently if you want them to last for the eight weeks, you're not supposed to blink, wash, rub, or even smile with the things on. Unfortunately for me, I suffer from seasonal allergies, and with all the ragweed we have growing in the field at the back of our house , my eyes have been watery and itchy. It just about killed me but I did manage to refrain from rubbing my eyes. There was nothing I could do however about the tearing. My right eye in particular seemed to be affected and one morning I awoke with a little bit of the lash falling off. It was on the outside corner and when it came off it was hardly noticeable. The next morning there was a little more coming off and I wondered if there might be some glue I could use to put adhere the few lashes that had come off. I could tell the lashes on my right eye were doomed. It was like having a loose tooth as a child and I just couldn't resist touching and playing with the lashes, they were drooping and getting in the way of my vision. At this point, I was now driving to the city to attend Daniel's wedding. The lashes on my right eye tore off easily and I was in the predicament of having overly long, lush, dark eyelashes on one eye and barely noticeable, stubby, fair lashes on the other. As I am a safe driver, I did not bother to look in the mirror to check out my new look which probably would have made me laugh so hard I would have driven off the road and ended up in a fiery heap. My problem then, was how to get the lashes off my other eyelid? I had another couple of hours of driving left which gave me plenty of time to work away at them. I started on each corner and slowly worked off the glue and soon was left with a narrow little strip in the middle that was being quite stubborn. I took a deep breath and yanked firmly on them. Ta dah! Off they came with just a little discomfort. I relished in the joy of being able to rub my eyes again. Pure heaven, but wait..... what???? No!!!!!!!!! It seems while removing the last of the fake eyelashes I ripped out a rather large chunk of my own. Child number 5 thought this uproariously funny and couldn't wait to tell his other siblings. They have no respect for me whatsoever.



I've never in my life had chicken cacciatore, so I'm not exactly sure what prompted me to try making a vegan version of it. I think i saw a picture somewhere and thought it sounded interesting..plus I had a bunch of random stuff in my fridge and cupboards that needed to be used.

It was okay...I don't think I put enough spice in it and I think next time I'll used fresh tomatoes instead of canned diced OR go with canned crushed because I always find canned diced tomatoes to have a bit of a sour taste to them. Could just be me and my weird taste buds.

I like the idea of cacciatore, which involves a mishmash of slowly stewed vegetables (carrots, green beans, onions, bell pepper...anything would probably go, really) this just didn't have as much flavour as I wanted it to. Perhaps a hot pepper and some more oregano and marjoram will do the trick next time because the flavour was good, it just wasn't strong enough.

Plus the fettuccine noodles that I used were not great...they are the PC Blue Menu whole grain. They were on sale and $2 cheaper than the Eddie's Spaghetti brand I usually buy (which is organic, vegetable-based as opposed to strictly wheat-based and so ridiculously awesome) but I found them to taste like rubber even though I cooked them twice as long as I normally cook pasta. I could be doing it wrong, but I don't like my pasta cooking to be too complicated so I think I will pass on this particular Blue Menu product in the future.

What a Week!

27 Aug -So much for any plans I had this week. Even my menu went out the window. Ella and I have spent the week over at my MIL's "minding" the corn and pork sales. The corn is supposed to be self-serve, but people up here don't seem to like it. The pork, of course, is kept under lock and key. I did manage to get some fruit relish made. We had such a beautiful day and the MIL's house catches the breeze so well -I couldn't turn down such a good relish making day. I've also been feeding Colin's Dad, since his Mom is in Ottawa recovering from having her knee replaced. She's doing really well. It's amazing how soon they get you up and walking. My Mom's had both of her's replaced.

28 Aug -We left the corn unattended and headed off to the 150th annual Cobden Fair. Luckily we had 2 free passes. It's no wonder the Fair is going broke. They charged $10 just to let Ella in!!! She's 3 for goodness sake!!!!!! There were only 3 midway rides she fit/I let her on.!!!!!!!
As you can see, though, she's having a blast! We couldn't get to the midway fast enough to get to the merry-go-round.
The first time we were the only ones on. The guy running the ride was great and obviously loves kids. He chatted with Ella and acted like the horses were real. She was grinning like crazy and shouting "wheeeeeeee" the whole time.

I think I've created a "ride monster" she loved the kiddy roller coaster. She screamed even louder than the "big girls" that were riding behind us. Grandma could hear her over everybody. We had to ride that one twice. Auntie Belinda will be happy to hear Ella loves coasters. I'm not a real coaster person (too short for the restraints to fit right, really get shook around) I like the ones that go around; i.e., tea cups, scrambler, alpine express. I think Ella will like those ones when she gets a little bigger.
At the bouncy castle we found her little skating friend Gracie. Gracie's mommy and Ella's Daddy went to school together. I didn't recognize Gracie at first -she wore a full helmet and face mask at skating :) It was hard to get bouncy pictures.

Ella didn't want to leave. We had to tell her about the Renfrew Fair that's coming up in September. A young lad buys pigs from Daddy to raise for the show, so Daddy always goes to Renfrew Fair to see how the pigs place and how they do at the auction.

29 August -today we are off to Pembroke. Grandma Isobel was finally transferred up to the Pembroke Hospital Rehab Centre. She was supposed to leave Ottawa at 2 yesterday, but she didn't get up here till nearly 8pm (it's only 1 1/2 hour drive). We're going to the library too, there is a curriculum I want to use for Ella, but I want to make sure the books are available. I did get some beautiful books yesterday. They are by Usborne. I hadn't heard of them before.

UPDATE: out of the 2 pages of books, there were only a small handful of books that were not available at the library -hurray!! And, since the books are mostly Canadian, it's likely that the library will be able to order them in from other/larger libraries. I'm very excited.

Our friend Rick who has his own company in London called First Choice Masonry put the last brick in Thursday. I am excited at the thought to try them the first time. Sure they have a way to go but at least it is almost there.

We have been working on the plastic walls. What a challenge that has been. But it is giving the place a very professional look. Today we hope to finish that. Of course we ran out of glue for the last board and the tub of glue is $35.00 each. But once the last board is up then is just to epoxy the last time and tomorrow to move the tables in.

The work is getting done. School starts soon.

We hope to keep updating this blog but we may not be able to. The bills would like some money and well they will need to wait till the plant gets the a-okay. We will still be here working away and hopefully sooner than later we will be back. We are trying to remain positive but as days slip away it is getting harder but I know we will be better off in the end.
Thank you for your patience and support. We hope to be back soon.

Hand surgery update ...

My surgery went well. They didn't bandage the top of my hands, so I have fingers! So far no pain meds necessary, so now it's just waiting to heal all the way.

Taking a break...

I finally bit the bullet and will be having hand surgery on both my hands tomorrow. I finally got fed up with being limited with the stuff I can do comfortably with my hands... like hand sewing (as on Mr. Salmon in the image of quilt I made last year), computing and other activities for which healthy hands are crucial for happy outcomes. Cooking, for example...

After about 3 weeks of recovery, I should be able to gently mosey back to some hand sewing for one thing. It will be nice to not dread using scissors and rotary cutters for my quilting projects, and I shall be glad to get full strength back in my hands for just everyday tasks in general. Right at the top of my list of things I look forward to doing is resuming my knitting! I need to whip up a pair of fingerless mittens for the winter, for one thing, and have more Unfinished Objects in the knitting department than I care to confess.

I have treated myself to a nice fat parcel of new novels which will be delivered from Amazon.com, so I can continue with my feast of reading as I recuperate from the surgery. I highly recommend "The Weight of Silence" by Heather Gudenkauf - if you like a good suspenseful thriller with well drawn characters. I just love it when you can't put a book down. Last week I felt very diligent as I ploughed (hmm... plowed?) through Phillippa Gregory's "The White Queen." It was quite a history lesson about the Plantaganets of England, that much good I will say about it. It did inspire me to rush to my anthology of the lives of the kings and queens of England (since 1066 and William the Conqueror). I think I wasn't paying attention in English History lessons at school. How bloody the battles were and how many ambitious and colorful characters enlivened the rich royal history of Great Britain. Next time I think I need a history fix, I'll go back to my anthology to read about it.


BASIL, Lettuce and Tomato!


I tried my hand at organic gardening for the first time this year and the results have been mixed. I'd like to think it partly has to do with the fact that we've had a ridiculous summer weather-wise...super cold and rainy, then super hot, then rain for ten days straight. But I'm pretty sure it's just because I fail in that department.

My beans didn't take at all. My field lettuce was pretty good. My bell peppers have been okay, except for the lot that earwigs decided to make their home. Lesson learned: if there is a tiny little hole in a pepper, do not attempt to cook it...ohh, you should have heard the screaming coming from my kitchen when I cut that sucker open.

I'm not so big on bugs. I am more than willing to coexist with them...but having them in my food really freaks me out. I let him keep the pepper and set him free on the back porch. Earwig: 1, Mary: 0. I did use another one in polenta the other day and he was earwig free and delicious, so I guess I get a half point for that.

My tomatoes are finally starting to come around and they are actually quite wonderful! I have cherry, beefsteak and errr...standard issue? The cherry have been ready for awhile and we've been using them for salads, in tacos and as snacks fresh off the tree.



Yesterday, however, marked the first beefsteak tomato day!

Of course, I had to make a toasted tomato...a favourite in our house throughout the summer (even before we were veg) and I have been simply dying for one using my own tomatoes. It was amazing.

The toasted tomato is an awesome sandwich...IMO it doesn't get the credit it deserves for such awesomeness. Especially when people weigh it down with all that nasty bacon ;P.

If you've got the resource, I'd also highly recommend a B.A.L.T. Yes, a balt. Basil-Avocado-Tomato-Lettuce. That one is my most favourite, but I had devoured the last of our avocado the night before.

122 days to Christmas!!!


Boy, I used to drive my co-workers crazy when I worked at the stock broker's. I LOVE Christmas, I mean really LOVE Christmas. Now that I'm not a slave to the calendar, I don't have the exact number of days to Christmas right on the top of my head. But I certainly notice the 25th of every month and announce how much time is left. I used to start counting down at about 200 days -and would make announcements every so often :)

I've already started Christmas shopping. I have a few more items to buy and stocking stuff. Everything else is homemade and needs to be started/finished soon. These socks are for my sister. They are made from Regia's Softy Color wool and feel fabulous. If I didn't have such warm feet all the time I'd make myself a pair. I have enough wool left over that I am starting a pair for Ella. Knitting two at a time, the socks were done in record time. Beside the socks is a knitted lace bookmark. I'm not sure who I'll give those to, but they are super easy to make, I've even sold one through OVF.

Here's a picture of Ella, Daddy and Grandpa having a well deserved coffee break (Pepsi break really). Our front steps have seen better days, but since no one uses the front door out here in the country :) I guess it doesn't matter too much. I would love to tear the porch off an make a nice wide verandah and have it wrap around the side of the house to connect with the "back" door (really on the side of the house).


I had a meeting with a few homeschool moms on Friday. Remember the neighbour who I haven't worked up the courage to meet? Well she called last night and offered to drive me to the meeting! Finally we got to meet. The meeting was great, about 12 moms with a few more who couldn't make it. We're having a "Not Back To School" outing/picnic Sept 4. It will be great for Ella to have some fun with kids like her. There seem to be quite a bunch around her age.

Menu Plan Monday- 24 August 09

Another Monday rolls around. I'm late getting my menu listed. I actually just finished making it. It's not my most favourite job. I love grocery shopping, but not the menu planning. I need to find a way so I don't have to re-invent the wheel every 2 weeks :)

Monday:
hamburgers and chips

leftover maple glazed ribs and fresh corn

Tuesday:
grocery day so Daddy has his PB&H and we eat out

pork souvlaki -trying new marinade the grocery store had on sale last time, likely roast potatoes and a salad

Wednesday:
meat perishky -still trying to find time to try this recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook

some sort of dish with the beef that will likely be leftover from lunch

Thursday:
lunch meat sandwich

souvlaki pitas

Friday:
pierogies and mac and cheese

chicken cacciatore and roast potatoes

Saturday:
spaghetti

steak

Sunday:
French toast

leftover chicken cacciatore

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for lots more ideas.

I've been doing a fair bit of knitting these days, in my spare time (ha ha). I made some lace bookmarks for our OVF site, plus some Christmas socks. I'm working on a sweater for Ella, but keep getting pulled away by more interesting patterns (a fault of mine). Thought I'd share some pictures I found at allposters.com I've seen one of the Madonna knitting, but couldn't find it on the site. That was the one I really wanted to share.

Knitting Girl, 1869
Knitting Girl, 1869


This one below was so "me" when I worked at the stock brokerage in Toronto. I would often take my hand work (knitting most often) and while away my lunch hour. Not to mention the 2 hours on the GO Train every day. Boy, those were the good days for productivity!

Woman Knitting Among Lunchtime Loungers Relaxing at Base of Statue at New York Public Library
Woman Knitting Among Lunchtime Loungers Relaxing at Base of Statue at New York Public Library



I've included this one because this is a better picture of my hand work now. More often than not, Ella is trying to sit on my lap and "help". I'm going to have to try and teach her to knit because I don't want to discourage her by saying "no" all the time. I worry that she's too young.
Young Mother Sewing
Young Mother Sewing


This one I just like. It's very much like the kind of garb I was gravitating towards when I was part of the SCA.

The Milkmaid, circa 1658-60
The Milkmaid, circa 1658-60


I'm working on my menus and grocery list right now, so I will hopefully get it posted soon.










Our plans changed for the weekend but for the better I think. My smokers were started. I am sooooo happy to see that happen. A friend came up from London for the weekend and poured the pad and laid the block with Andrew. This coming weekend he is coming up again to finish it and then we just have to do the finishing touches like the doors.




Today we hope to start working on some of the loose ends so we can check them off the list as being completely done. The plastic walls may be also be started today but if not today very soon.




We ordered 2 more boxes of epoxy but even just the one coat is looking great. They will be in on Thursday and Friday could be the last coat of epoxy. That means this weekend all the tables and such can be moved in.




So it looks like another couple of weeks to finish up but we are getting there. I always thought doing my smokers and epoxying the floors were the markers to say we are nearing the finish line. Those things were not able to be done until everything else was completed.




6 Years Ago Today ...

Six years ago today I married my Knight in Shining Armour -sorry Women's Lib. he really does exist and the fairy tales are right!!!!

To be more exact, six years ago we were finishing up the pictures and nearly falling over from hunger :) We took the pictures on the side lawn of our church. Colin's talented cousin was our photographer (she's in high demand for cows after the Royal) and she was able to "remove" all the cemetery stones.

Colin looked so handsome all dressed up. He even managed to get the tattoo ink off his fingers. I was so happy. My face was tired at the end of the evening from smiling so hard.

There were only two things wrong with the day, the first being that my Grandpa Johnson wasn't there. Oh how he would have loved Colin. He's been gone since 1991 but I still can't write/talk about him with out tears and such an ache in my heart. The second was knowing that the OPP were driving by the church/reception on the lookout for my father, so that he wouldn't show up drunk and spoil everything.

Where has the six years gone??? It seems like just yesterday, but at the same time it feels as if I've know Colin "forever". I wouldn't change too much of what's happened. I do wish Ella had an older or younger sister to play with -but I thank God every day for our miracle baby. And I certainly wish Colin didn't have to struggle so much, but I do my best to make his hard earned income go as far as possible.

It's a dream come true to be married to such a wonderful man and be the mother of his beautiful little girl. Whoever said fairy tales don't come true, didn't know what they were talking about!!



We searched high and low for a modest wedding dress with not much luck.I suggested to Brittany that we try looking on the internet and came across this great site that custom made dresses at a very, very reasonable price. Brittany saw one that she really liked and as I was about to place the order I noticed that they required more time than we had to make the dress. To say we were disappointed was an understatement. I decided that I would email them and see if they could accommodate our request to have a dress made in time for the wedding with the understanding that it would cost extra. I wasn't overly hopeful so was pleasantly surprised when I received a reply to my question within an hour. The contact person (Libby) told me she would get in touch with the designer and get back to me as soon as possible. Later that day, I received another email from Libby telling me that if I placed my order by the end of the day, we would have the dress in time for the wedding. The cost to have it rushed? 30 US dollars. We took measurements, placed the order and waited.
I can tell you that there were a few raised eyebrows when we told people we had ordered a wedding dress on the internet. My friends were pretty dubious about the whole thing thinking I might be getting ripped off. I wasn't too worried because Libby had been so good about communicating even after the company had received my payment.
Exactly a week before the wedding, the dress arrived. It fit perfectly, looked beautiful, and Brittany was very happy with it. The total price including the rush order and shipping came to $238 US Amazing!
I cannot say enough good things about Libby and my experience with modgowns.com I would highly recommend them. So if you are looking for a modest custom made dress for a wedding or prom , check them out.

WHAT FUN


I had no idea that decorating a tent for a wedding was so much work or so much fun. The joy in it came from working together as a family to create something beautiful for our only daughter/sister. It took us the better part of an afternoon to set up tables and chairs and hang lanterns but the end result was well worth the effort.
The most amusing part of the day was the phone call I received from my dear husband as he tried to purchase more fabric for the tables. I had decided early on that I would prefer one long piece of cloth to cover a row of tables rather than smaller tablecloths for each table. It ended up being much cheaper than buying tablecloths and the effect was nicer. I am now the proud owner of 25 meters of white material. At $2.50 a meter it was a fraction of the cost of the cheapest tablecloths I could find at $14. I would have needed 12 so that was a saving of over $100 dollars. Then there was the added benefit of talking my husband through the ordeal of having to go to a fabric store and finding/purchasing the appropriate material. With the help of an attentive employee at the store, he passed with flying colours and arrived home quite pleased with himself. There is hope for the man after all.
Have you ever thought of life as a great puzzle. With each day a chance to find another piece and place it into the puzzle? It's like a new opportunity for discovery and exploration every day.




Life hasn't been exciting lately. Pretty normal, pretty boring, with a few bits of excitement thrown in for good measure. I feel torn, between me, and me. You know how that is?

Floors are painted and walls to be started
















The floors are painted will get the first coat of epoxy tonight. We are getting the base boards today and they will need to be painted. The wall coverings will be started tomorrow and hopefully it will be all done by tomorrow night. Then the last coat of epoxy that will cover the base boards. Then we have to stay off the floor for 24 hours but it will give us time to finish the railings on the porches and flatten the area for the smokers.





If this all happens the way it should, the plumbing and securing in place our big 3 sink can be put in place. Also some of the tables can be brought in by Sunday. Then it is just the smoker, plumbing to all the sinks, placing the ice machine, and finishing the walk in cooler. Then it is all the finishing touches.





But in other news around our house. Yesterday our dog had 7 pups and our conure parrots laid an egg. Something our friend who gave them to us said they would never do.





Our boys are off to a dry land training for cross country skiing with a national coach, Angus Cockney. He is from Canmore, Alberta. They are trying roller skiing today.





We are busy but being very productive and nice to see the progress of the plant.

Sweet Surrender ...

I love surrendering to good novels and movies! I've had a real feast during the past ten days. Here's my reading list:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

When I say feast, I mean sitting down with the books and almost inhaling them till I come to the end! Never mind about housework or other things domestic... a comfy chair, cups of tea and the books! Heaven! I don't presume to give literary reviews, but suffice it to say that on a personal enjoyment meter, these four books hit very high levels.

And here are the titles of movies I've enjoyed: Julie & Julia, The Time Traveler's Wife. Being a huge fan of the late Julia Child's cook books, the first movie was a real treat. Meryl Streep was nothing short of spectacular in the film. I got a bit lost in the second movie. I had a hard time reading the novel with all the time traveling, and had the same difficulty in the movie. I found myself looking at the scenery and lighting and listening to the music which isn't such a great sign! All those elements need to feel seamless and not one element should stick out more than another in my humble opinion. It was enjoyable to see these two movies on the first day of their releases and to view them without being influenced by reviews or opinions about them.

We have a gorgeous new multiplex movie theatre in our neck of the woods and they start their screenings at 11 am in the morning, which I love! On Mondays they are running remastered classic movies. It only costs $2 to go in and that box office money goes to local schools. The popcorn and soda pop is the big expense for those outings...I had never seen Sunset Boulevard all the way through and that was a treat to see.

With these happy distractions, the quilting has fallen by the wayside a bit, although I do have my Lone Star diamonds pressed, the background fabric chosen so that's just a couple of hours to put that block together. And I got all the half square triangles prepared for the baskets quilt. Just need to find the enthusiasm to get to finishing. I don't have a deadline. Maybe I should self impose one to get these two projects further along!



Over the years my children have managed to talk me into doing things that if I had a clear moment to think about, I would probably never seriously consider. For some inexplicable reason, my usually dependable common sense seems to fly out the window when my daughter becomes involved in matters of beauty and fashion. There have been many purchases I have regretted upon returning home from a shopping excursion with her. Last week, as we were preparing for the big day, Brittany suggested we go and get manicures and pedicures. Safe. I love my painted toes. It was then suggested that we get spray tans (I wonder who's paying for all this?). I declined, worried that I might end up too dark or perhaps even orange. Smart. Brittany did not turn out orange but you should see the inside of her white T-shirt. Her wedding dress didn't fair much better. The crowning glory to all the beauty prep? Eyelash extensions. No, not the false eyelashes that go on in a single strip across your eyelid but rather a lengthy and expensive process of glueing longer and thicker lashes to each of your existing lashes. Once done there is no need for mascara or eyeliner. Did I mention these are expensive? As the technician pointed out, they do last for two months if you look after them.
All my life, I have wanted longer eyelashes. Mine are short, sparse, very fair, and they are hardly noticeable even when I am wearing globs of mascara. I worried though that the extensions might be too drastic and I debated with Brittany for a long time over it. She won and we made the appointment in Toronto (this service is not available in the city we live in). Brittany went first. It took the better part of an hour to glue them on. She looked great. My turn next. I lay down on the table, the technician taped closed my eyes, and proceeded to glue on the shortest lashes in her collection then almost an hour later, handed me a mirror. I wasn't impressed. Maybe there is a reason I don't have long, dark lashes. I got back to our hotel and my little grandson was reluctant to give me a hug and kiss goodnight. I went into the bathroom to check out my new lashes and laughed so hard I almost fell over. My boys could hardly contain themselves when they first saw me. Brittany thought they looked great and my husband thinks they are nice too. Seriously? How can you not break out into fits of giggles when you see me?
I have to thank all those that came to the wedding receptions (there were two) and did nothing but look curiously at me as they came through the receiving line. I appreciate your feigned ignorance of my ridiculous lashes. Why do I let Brittany drown out the little voice of reason that warns me against these follies?
It's been almost a week and I am starting to get used to them. I am no longer startled when I catch my reflection in a mirror and I am getting used to the way people check them out when talking to me.
I won't be posting pictures.

Portobello Burger



Yum.

I marinated two incredibly massive portobello mushrooms in a homemade BBQ-sauce concoction. Smoky BBQ flavour, to be exact. I've recently stopped buying bottled BBQ sauces because of the ridiculous amounts of sugar and even high-fructose corn syrup found in them (blegh...is that really necessary?!). Don't get me wrong, my version has sugar...just of the raw cane variety and far less of it. We threw them on the grill for about 10 minutes until they were nice, charred and strangely 'meaty'.

I had never had a portobello burger before, which is weird because it's kind of a vegan staple. And I learned a valuable lesson, something I have known all along but often stray from: enough with trying to mimic non-vegan foods and instead fall in love with what is vegan and natural. Not that tempeh burgers are evil and bad for you in any way; a portobello is just better. It still had dirt on it when I bought it, how's that for natural!

I am so very desperate for veganism to return to its roots (pun): VEGETABLES! Convenience foods will always have their place in the back of our freezers, but there is so much to be said for avoiding them when you can. Grilling mushrooms instead of frozen veggie burger patties is a good start and something I think even omnivores can get on board with.

We topped them with tomato, avocado chunks and red onion, and found that the BBQ flavour elminated the need for any mustard or ketchup. Any burger fixings will do, though. Paired with some baked sweet potato fries and a cob of fresh-picked Ontario corn, and you've got yourself a tasty little late summer meal there.

AN INSPIRED IDEA


A few weeks ago Brittany and I went looking for some fireworks thinking it might be a fun thing to do at her outdoor reception when I felt a sudden wave of inspiration. "Let's get a bunch of sparklers and we'll light them when you and Ben have your first dance" I suggested. We cleared the store out of their small supply.
The effect was magical.



Weather continues hot, hot, hot. I've been able to keep the house "livable" by closing it up after the cool morning air. Oh, for central air :) I know, that's not very old fashioned of me but I just don't like the heat.

Monday:
chicken sandwiches

pork chops on the bbq

Tuesday:
French toast

short ribs in the crock pot

Wednesday:
spaghetti

maple pork ribs -recipe later too

Thursday:
cowboy casserole

leftover beef ribs

Friday:
mac & cheese and pierogies for me

leftover pork ribs

Saturday:
??? -OVF delivery day and errands in town

shoulder chops on the bbq

Sunday:
hot dogs

oven-roasted chicken -recipe later

As usual, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie and check out all the other menu ideas.

We are getting there
















What a difference a week makes. The floors are sloped. A walk in cooler is in place. Bathroom is just needing plumbing.





Jamie Kennedy very generously gave us a walk in cooler. A huge THANKS to Jamie and it will help us greatly. It needs a compressor but we may have a friend who has one that we can get.





Bathroom is almost done.





The porches are up and just needing railings. The electrical is done.





All the exterior doors are now in.





Now just the final stretch. The plumbing, floors and walls to be sealed and the smokers to start.





Also all the little but costly touches like 3-4 touchless faucets, door and floor trim and vinyl curtains. But the end is in sight just the final push.





We are pushing through but it is getting tough for it has been over a month now with out any fish. Things are very tight but knowing the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer with every passing day.





We thought this endeavor would be next to impossible but it is becoming a reality with all of your support. I hope you enjoy the pictures. Really it doesn't show all the incredible changes or challenges we had to over come to get it to this point. But we are happy with the changes and how much easier this will make our future job. Soon we will be back to fishing and doing what we love.





Peanut Curry from Bangkok Cuisine, Kitchener



B.V. (Before Vegan) we ate at restaurants at least three times a week. The other days we got takeout or some other pseudo-food from the freezer aisle at our local supermarket. It was a different time in our lives and it seemed like a logical response to our lack of time and my outright refusal to try turning on the stove. Sometimes, I don't even recognize those people that we used to be.

Now I get sick to my stomach thinking of 1) all the garbage I ate and what it could still be doing to my body, years later and 2) how much money we wasted on it. The change in our diets coincided with change in careers and as our wallets tightened we had no choice but to stop handing out hundreds of dollars to the restaurants of our fine city. At this same time I looked in the mirror and realized I had packed on a solid 15 pounds since our wedding. I was also heavily involved in various social inequality/rights and environmental issues by virtue of my schooling and my addiction to current events and somewhere along this line, all of these factors amounted in going vegetarian and then a year later going vegan. I cautiously turned the stove on and attempted to make something from scratch...subsequently my health turned around, my pants fit better, my soul felt more at peace, our wallets grew a tiny bit thicker and I even cleaned out our takeout menu drawer. I try to keep my politics out of this blog so I won't press this issue. But, I really and truly have never felt better than I do right now and so whenever anyone asks me how I can give up so much to be vegan, I respond with "Veganism has given me so much more than I could have ever given it".

Part of this has to do with eating fresh, something that is lost on a lot of restaurants since the invention of the deep freeze. I don't hate on restaurants, though. They are a great place to gather with friends and a good resource to throw together dinner when all else fails. I just think that back in the day we abused this privilege and our health and bank account suffered for it.

Nowadays, restaurants can be challenging for me. They are tricky for vegans, because how sure can you be that what they say is vegan is actually vegan? You can't, unless you're at an all-vegan restaurant. Which we don't have here.

A lot of restaurants are coming around to veg, though. There are some all-vegetarian places (fingers crossed for an all-vegan one sometime in my life!!) Even some roadhouses here have vegetarian burgers. They're probably not vegan, but it's a start and I'm appreciative of the effort.

The B.V. restaurants we used to frequent are not as useful to me now, so going vegan gave me the opportunity to venture out of my comfort zone and try new foods, something I was really cautious of my entire life. Veg Guide has been a great tool for locating these off-the-beaten-path places, which are often overshadowed by the neon lights of big money restaurant chains.

Still, we don't go to restaurants much. I'm so cheap, I usually spend the entire meal thinking about how I could have made it better and for cheaper than the $13.99 they charged me. The only times we really go is to gather with friends (which is why restaurants are great and I want to re-iterate that I'm not somehow anti-restaurant lol) or to celebrate something. I don't even remember the last time Paul and I went and just ate together at a restaurant because we both see it as a waste of money (we are so unromantic and lame, I know).

That is until Wednesday, when I decided I had a craving for a peanut curry from Bangkok Cuisine. I needed it immediately.



Bangkok Cuisine is my favourite Thai place, not just because they have awesome food, but because they don't look at you like you have five heads when you tell them you're vegan. The staff is really knows their stuff with regard to what is in things (i.e. egg noodles versus rice noodles, fish oils, etc.) and if they don't know they go to the kitchen and ask. If you go there, you have to have the peanut curry. Bamboo shoots, waterchestnuts and baby corn in a peanut sauce. I usually take the tofu option, but mixed vegetables are good too...and it comes with a side of rice. This peanut curry is by far my most favourite food on the planet (at present - this happens to change a lot).

And yes, Paul and I went, just the two of us. We totally went for lunch though, because it's $10 bucks cheaper than at dinner.

Bangkok Cuisine
1500 Weber St. East,
Kitchener, ON N2A 2Y5
(519)748-7676

Book Reviews

Here's a couple more of my favourite books. They are knitting books, but still books :)

I was at Soper Creek Yarn on the weekend and picked up some sock wool (Christmas presents, don't tell). Tina's are a really good price and she has nice selection. I also treated myself to a new book. It was a bit expensive but Grandma talked me into it. Like she says; " you'll use most of the patterns for presents anyway"

Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. I have some of her other books and this one doesn't disappoint. I have a number of these old patterns, but the originals don't give gauge or real wool suggestions. Nancy has done all the hard work of "translating" the old patterns into modern knitting English and modern wool suggestions. I can't wait to try it.

Knitting Circles Around Socks
by Antje Gillingham. This book has revolutionized the way I make socks (and sleeves for that matter). Anyone who has wanted to make socks but thought they were too fiddly and take too long -read this book!! I now whip out socks two at a time. I may even make a pair for Daddy's size 11 feet :)

Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I've had this book for a number of years. I sometimes just read it. Elizabeth has such a nice "chatty" style, it's like hanging out with a friend who just happens to be a knitting guru. This book is great for your knitting confidence. Elizabeth encourages you to feel your knitting and not be a slave to a pattern. She is also a big believer in circular knitting; i.e., having as few seams as possible. This not only makes the finished project more comfortable to wear/use, it means fewer ends to sew in and seam.

Hot

When all else fails, make a chicken post :)

Daddy has turned the chickens loose into the bigger pen in the barn. It is amazing how big they are getting. We still aren't sure who are the girls and who are the boys. It's harder to tell since these chickens don't have wattles and such. We'll know once the crowing starts.

Sweet corn is coming along nicely. It is delicious! Sales are going well, we've been selling corn since Tuesday. We are even supplying the local grocery store -a first for us. The tomatoes are finally turning red. Cucumbers are stacking up, in fact, that's what I should do this afternoon. Ella and I are hiding in the house, trying to keep cool. August weather has finally arrived, though I must admit it's not terribly humid yet. Always a bonus. My lungs/asthma doesn't like to wring the water out of the air before breathing it :)

Udon with Green Beans & Almonds



My friends, we are in those glorious days of mid-summer when just about everything is in season.

The early-summer vegetables are winding down, but there are a few of the last crops of asparagus, scallions and strawberries left to be devoured. And now the late-summer crops are starting..enter diverse squash, cobs of corn and fresh Ontario-grown field tomatoes!

I am also patiently awaiting the fruits of my labour in my own little garden, as I've got dozens of little green tomatoes sprouting all over the place. Late August will be characterized by many a toasted tomato sandwich, I'm sure.

I also tried to grow green beans, and it was an epic fail. The plant produced two beans. Two. One of which was pecked to pieces by a bird. Fail. Big, fat, organic fail.

Have no fear, a local farm has come to my rescue and for a small fee ($3 for 3 meals worth of beans...not too shabby) has supplied our green beans this summer. Although they are easier to come by in June and July, there are still lots of green beans still kicking around here in southern Ontario.

Green beans are my favourite side dish in the summer...boiled a bit but still crunchy, topped with freshly ground pepper and nothing else. So many folks drench them in butter first, but that concept is lost on me. They are good just as they are, with a tiny bit of seasoning...good enough to even replace french fries at bbqs in our house.

Sometimes, we even let green beans be the star of the show. After obtaining a basket-full at the market, I decided to try out this recipe from Nava Atlas' Vegan Express. She suggests using soba, but all I had was udon...it really doesn't make a difference, IMO. I just prefer spelt to buckwheat, so I buy Sobaya Spelt Udon and use it for every Asian-inspired noodle dish that we rock in our kitchen.

This is by no means a fancy meal. It uses standard ingredients (soy sauce, hoisin, etc.), nothing crazy or awe-inspiring. But, on lazy summer nights after a long day at work you don't want the crazy. You want tasty, somewhat nutritious and above all QUICK, so you can get back to solving the world's problems. Or a good book. Or, in our case, bad reality tv in the form of Big Brother.

This was done in 7 minutes, and was so tasty that I literally licked my bowl when I was done. Literally.

Menu Plan Monday -10 August 09


We're expecting a heat wave this week, so actual cooking will be kept to a minimum. This house get's so hot. When the in-laws replaced the downstairs window, for some reason they put in ones that don't open!

Monday:
leftovers

rib steak, corn and green beans -Daddy cooked the steak on the wood BBQ for a change :)

Tuesday:
peanut butter and honey for Daddy, our usual McDonald's after groceries

pork chops on the BBQ

Wednesday:
meat perishky that I didn't make last week

spaghetti

Thursday:
lunch meat sandwiches and chips

hamburgers

Friday:
pancakes

crock pot chicken -maybe bbq'd

Saturday:
hamburgers

roast pork on the wood BBQ -invite in-laws

Sunday:
french fries

leftover chicken

Don't forget to check out other menu ideas at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

THIS TIME NEXT WEEK


This time next week the tent will come down, the company will be gone, and I will hopefully be relaxing with my feet up on the sofa. I can hardly wait. Ian has taken this entire next week off of work to "help" with the final preparations. I will probably send him golfing (read it and weep Haki). I love my husband dearly, he has many talents but helping with wedding preparations is not one of them. For the time it would take me to explain what I want done, it would be faster just to do it myself.
Ian: What can I do to help?
Me: Can you make some paper flowers for me?
Sure I think I can manage that.
Take eight sheets of tissue paper.
How can you count out eight? These papers are all sticking together.
Dampen your finger.
It's putting holes in the paper.
I said dampen it not slobber all over it.
Okay, I've got eight now what do I do?
Do an accordion fold all the way down.
What size do I make the folds?
About an inch wide.
Does this look right?
Yep. that's fine.
But I don't think it's an inch.
It will be fine.
How come it's uneven on this side?
You'll have to redo it.
It's still not going right.
Here let me fix it. Now wrap a piece of wire round the middle and snip the ends into points.
Is this the middle?
Close enough.
How should I cut the ends?
Into points, you know, like an arrow.
Where do we keep the scissors?
The same place they've been for the last eleven years.
Oh... in the kitchen?
Yep.
It's hard cutting through all these layers. I can't do it. (frustration creeping in)
Just cut through a few layers at a time.
Okay now what?
Carefully peel each layer up and to the middle one at a time.
Oops... it ripped.
Gently, gently.
Uh oh, I ripped another piece.
You have to be really gentle.
Ummm.... how come it's ripping all the time.
It's tissue paper.
How come mine doesn't look like yours?
Maybe it has something to do with all the rips.
Is there another job I can do instead?
This was the simple job
Oh!
In the meantime, I've made three paper flowers, and written this post.





PAPER FLOWERS


Brittany's reception is being held at the house and I thought it would be nice to have some sort of decoration along the path to the tent so I purchased some stakes, some tulle, and I am in the process of making giant paper flowers to line the walkway. Cute eh?

Scalloped Potatoes



I know that turning on your oven is pretty much the last thing that you should be doing on a hot summer's night. But when cravings call...you gotta answer.

I love summer but when August hits I start to get excited for fall, which is really and truly my most favourite season. We eat a lot of potatoes in the fall...and while I'm still basking in the hazy laziness that is August, I thought I'd jump start the comfort food.

I had this recipe saved from Fat Free Vegan and decided to give it a go the other night. One thing I really like about the recipe is that Susan precooks the potatoes a bit before...which means that the dish only had to be in the oven for about 25 minutes, as opposed to the standard 50-60 minutes needed for scalloped potatoes. Much appreciated on a hot August evening.

I am terrible at slicing vegetables...I'm really sloppy and lose interest quickly. For scalloped potatoes, there needs to be some uniformity among the potato slices. Knowing that my not-so-great knife set could not handle this, I borrowed a mandolin from my mom...a tool that came from another continent and a time long before my birth:



Paul pretty much begged me not to use it. You see, I am clumsy enough when it comes to regular, modern tools...I have cut myself with a butterknife. A BUTTERKNIFE, people. This mandolin is sharp despite having what I can only imagine as 30 years of solid slicing under it's belt (blade?). And there are no grippers or safety features like you find on modern, plastic mandolins. No sir .. this is hardcore, straight from the old country.

Evidently the gene pool is diluted and I am missing the hardcore-ness of my ancestors, because I most definitely sliced my thumb open. On the first potato, actually.

I motored through though...very carefully...wasting a lot of potato because it was getting too close to the end and I thought I might sustain further injury.

While this dish was delicious, I should probably hold off on making it again until I can find slicing equipment that I am more capable of operating. Does anyone know if Fischer Price makes a mandolin? Anyone?
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