Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Victoria Day Weekend and other visitors.

Christine has arranged a get together of her friends, at the cottage, for the last few years and this year there were 10 of us for 3 days and one extra for Sunday. The weather forecast was a bit "iffy" but this is a relaxed group who are quite able to entertain themselves with or without beach time. There were books read, loud discussions, drinks drunk, food eaten, games played, engagements and birthdays toasted and the sun co-operated on Sunday so there was also kayaking (by one brave soul), bocce, walks on the beach and a fair number of sunburns.
The beach was not crowded this year, unlike other years. It's been a cool spring
and people are not thinking "beach" yet.
Some interesting nutritional contrasts. Meals are generally healthy and accommodate
a variety of dietary needs but there are also copious snacks eaten over the weekend.
Kendra kayaked and Jason went on long bike rides, offsetting the snacks maybe.
We all played a hilarious game of Trivial Pursuit which was as much about betting on the other teams abilities as it was about general knowledge. (Jason and Kendra won, I just noticed that they were also the most physically active, wonder if there's a link?)
My bird visitors are getting quite used to me sitting on the deck and trying to get pictures of them.
There are many shots of a swinging feeder as they have just flown away as I push the shutter.
The downy woodpecker is quite tame however and in the spring and fall will eat from the suet as
I walk down the path no more than a couple of feet away.
The male oriole chatters at me angrily but still comes to eat while the female is
just hungry and ignores me. Lately I have noticed the downy woodpecker and the
house finches also eating from the oriole feeder.
The hummingbirds couldn't care less and just zip about as if they own the place.
Even turkey vultures need a beach day.

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Combine, Simcoe and local food sourcing.

A little behind in my posts. Spring busyness still the only excuse.
Simon, Danielle and Fiona took me out for dinner for my birthday (60th, shhhhhh) at the Combine restaurant in Simcoe. They had been a couple of times but I had not. It is in an old house on the main street through Simcoe, back from the road. The menu changes with the seasons as the chef likes to buy locally. We shared a meat and cheese platter (locally cured meats, Canadian cheese, candied nuts, pickles and mustard made in house - more on that later). Fi had the Combine burger, Simon the Chicken fried steak and Dan and I shared a pizza (cheese, couchons, smoked duck) and two sides. We had a bottle of Burning Kiln Cab Franc and shared desserts. The food was interestingly varied, delicious and the service impeccable but what made the night truly outstanding was the servers response when asked about the mustard. She suggested we go back into the kitchen and inquire of the chef. He discussed the difficultly sourcing Canadian mustard seed even though we grow it in Ontario and out West (I gather most is shipped to Europe) and then gave Danielle a detailed recipe. So welcoming and enthusiastic.
On Fridays and Saturdays the bar stools in the kitchen can be reserved and you have the opportunity to watch the kitchen process and, I'm sure, have some more delightful "foody" conversations. I would like to try it sometime.
I am also trying to source my food as locally as possible. The last honey I bought at the grocery store had come from Australia. That struck me as ridiculous and the next time I bought honey it was Hunts that is produced just outside of Port Rowan and sold at the local grocery store (and, oddly, the service station).
Can't get much more local than my own deck. This planter has celery, parsley,
 two kinds of lettuce, oregano and basil.
This one has swiss chard, parsley, sage, marjoram and basil
I like the vegetable garden in the spring when its in nice neat rows but I prefer it later on when
its a jungle but I can pick a variety of veg and cook or eat it immediately. This bed has kale,
swiss chard, two kinds of lettuce, spinach, celery and stevia, so far. The radishes, beets and
pole beans that I planted last week have already sprouted (surprising considering how cold it has been)
My own little "hack" (I gather from Chris that this is the term when you re purpose something).
When I had the driveway done the hydro line had to be located. They used spray paint and little flags.
I cut the Hydro One part off the flags and am using them to mark the ends of the seeded rows.
I am already using spinach, kale and chard in my morning smoothies and lettuce and parsley in salads. Its been too cool to plant the peppers, tomatoes and basil but they will go in next week. Bush beans were sewn today. I have asparagus farms all around and am able to buy it fresh whichever direction I am going in. This area makes sourcing local food quite easy.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Edmonton - Avery at 4 months

I spent last week in Edmonton visiting my grandson, Avery (and incidentally Mike and Aimee). This post will mostly be pictures of Avery. He has grown so much since I saw him in January and has developed into a little person. A person with moods, expressions, likes and dislikes.
We woke to 3 inches of wet snow the first day I was there and it snowed all day. Oh Edmonton!
Avery is not terribly impressed with the beard Mike has grown while on paternity leave.
When he smiles and laughs you can't help but smile back. It's infectious.
Looking a little surprised that he had to get dressed up to go out to Mothers Day breakfast.
"You keep taking pictures, I may have to punch you Nana"
Sitting up is a bit of a balancing act and he often finds himself face down.
He has discovered his hands but does not yet have a preference; sometimes he sucks a finger, or two, or three,
or his thumb, or his whole fist.
"Are you still taking pictures Nana?"
I finished his rug while I was there.
Iggy, part Jack Russel, part Italian Greyhound. He was not keen on the snow but we walked
every day after it melted. 
Bath time
and finally, asleep.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Long Point - spring chores 2015

I spent a bit of time in Toronto last week and watched people there doing their spring chores; sweeping the paths and driveways of winters grime, raking the lawns, refreshing the flower beds, washing cars and garden furniture. Here, in Norfolk County, all those things need to be done too but  farmers have additional spring chores. It is lovely driving down my regular routes (to Port Dover or Simcoe) and seeing tractors in the fields, turning over the soil. Even sandy soil is a richer colour when tilled and there is a distinctive smell to fresh turned soil. And yes, there is also the smell of freshly spread manure.
On Long Pint we have our own brand of spring chores:
Chris and Jason came down and took down the snow fence and most of the plywood boards.
Then all the sand that has accumulated over the winter is bulldozed back onto the beach.
Some people opt to leave these high banks of sand
Others choose to leave an area un-bulldozed and gradually it grows grasses and
My bulldozing and that of my neighbour were completed within the deadline but we
still have this charming lawn ornament.

After the bulldozing I put up a privacy fence.
Heather and Don kindly helped me this year.
Rasta rather enjoyed Don's housecoat arms.
Greg taught me how to change a kitchen faucet and also  replaced my porch light.
Aimee helped me hang up the swallows, that I bought in France, on the chimney wall.
Similar to the swallows swooping around outside and fighting over the nesting boxes. That was
another spring chore; putting up the 3 new birdhouses I got for Christmas.
Pansies planted in pots on the porch posts. Try saying that fast!
One of the vegetable beds uncovered and today I planted chard, kale and lettuce.
And Rasta is, of course, helpful in oh so many ways:
Wool? What wool?
I really don't know what wool your talking about.
Why would she put it here if it doesn't go anywhere?