Monday, February 10, 2014

Completely unrelated

Good day and here is an almost mid-Februray updated. I can see how people would think these two items are related, but I assure you they are not. I only drink in the mornings on weekends and when out for brunch.

Item 1 - New Years resolution complete! 30 days and no drink pour, see what I'm doing, moi. And to break my fast, I have adopted CJ and her beau's "cocktail hour" philosophy at Lonsdale. And thanks to Kitkat, I broke it with Botanist grace and style.

Item 2 - Now you might think I'd had an early morning cocktail for this to happen, but I didn't. Too lazy to walk back upstairs for proper stockings perhaps, but I like to think of it as bad luck. From the attached pictures of my achilles tendons, you might think I have new boots and blisters to go with them. But no, that would be the result of frostbite. 

As the bike path was neither ploughed nor salted after the last snowfall, I managed to get so much snow built up down the back of my boots, that frostbite set in. I own a piece of the blame here as I was only wearing ankle socks so the snow did have direct contact with the skin. 

And yes, I felt the numbing cold but it went away which I thought was due to my building up of body heat. I felt the boilers were generating enough to keep my feet and heals nice and toasty. Sadly, this was not the case.

Apparently I killed enough nerve endings to no longer feel the cold and get a couple sweet ass cold burns to prove it. 

I do not recommend trying this at home as every shower is dreadfully painful as water gets into the cracks and groves. Wearing shoes of any sort is also proving quite unbearable. Listen to your mothers and be sure to dress for the weather!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's raining turds.

Being 180-odd years old and formerly owned by an artist, Lonsdale has its quirks. One oddity is a huge room at the back of the house used as a studio. Perhaps odd isn't the right word, 'architectural point of interest' sounds more high-toned. Instead of drywall or lathe and plaster, the walls were done with old barn board.

I would rather have the barn outside than in, but it certainly added some charm and character to the house. And mice apparently. When we head back to the city, I set out a few traps in hopes of not finding dropping throughout the house. Country living I know equals mice, but they should know their place.

Before people get up in arms about how cute mice are, I would let you know that they do not sleep in matchbox beds, use spools for tables or borrow little dollhouse chairs despite what Kenneth Grahame and others might have you think.

They do however, pack down insulation, chew holes in it, crap in it and generally destroy what they don't take to make nests with. The studio was always cooler than the rest of the house and as we wanted new floors put down, we figured we might as well stop the drafts and do a spot of spray foam insulation.

As the boards came down, so did the showers of mini black raisins and pink fibreglass. In addition to expletives for the rodents, there were plenty for former owners Robert and Lena. Massive 4" nails were used to 'tack' up the barn board and the trim used 5" screws. The heads of which were plastered over so you had to find, clear and then remove or risk pulling down the ceiling.

We also discovered the boards were put in before the floor and the ceiling for they run about 8 inches into the attic and 1/2" below the floor. Two more things that dashed my hopes of just "popping" them off.

After our twice as long as usual drive in the snow, wind and ice, I thought this little job would take a couple hours. A full day later, we are about 80% done. I know IronMan loves me and has the patience of the saint as he removed the offending nails as I pried off the boards whilst reminding me to be careful as I scurried up and down the ladder.

I hope that once the spray is in, the mice will be out, of that room anyway, and we can stop using the studio as an extra fridge.

Have to go and get back at it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

18 days, 6 dollars and 6 rabbits

August 26th! My my, where does the time go?

Well, here we are and happy new year!

You'd think, and I'd hope, there'd be more for me to blog about. I do catch myself during the day thinking "oh, I should remember this and blog about it" and my mother, likely the last Light and Flaky fan standing, certainly asks me for new posts. Today I promised I'd write, so here I am.

It must be said that owning two homes is mucho work, especially when one is upwards of 180 years old, and that has really zapped my time. Whoa is me with such first world problems. Acknowledged - I have nothing to complain about.

One thing that has not taken my time is my usual drink. I have now gone 18 days without an alcoholic libation. It would have been 19 but BlueGirl at the dollhouse forced a mimosa down the gullet on New Years day.  My hangover and I protested violently, but in the end, there was no denying my jovial Italian host. The end of my resolution to not drink for a month is in sight, the countdown numbers are now smaller than what's in the rearview mirror and my liver seems happy.

Make no mistake, don't think it's been easy for me. Our well stocked party pantry calls to me upon my daily arrival home. Just yesterday CJ's husband turned 40. A 40th birthday and not a single bubble to tickle my throat in celebration.

There have been 2 Thursday night dinners with the boys - complete with Kitkat's eye rolling at the first. A hunting trip with my cursing cousins, where hot toddies usually keep me warm and sane, saw numerous beverage consumption opportunities slip through my fingers as if I were trying to grasp the liquid itself. Perhaps that's why my aim was better than usual and I was able to contribute more to our haul. Or was it my frustration?

And contrary to what Elmer Fudd has told us, one does not want to be very very quiet when hunting for rabbits. You actually want several loud, heavy footed folks to flush the brush while you lay in wait on the other side.

Let's see, what else have I been up to? Oh right, complaining (insert your high maintenance jokes here). That foolish polar vortex forced me to forgo my usual method of transport to work, Molly the bike, and "ride the rocket" (insert your dirty jokes here).

Picture it. Toronto, 2014 a polar vortex and frozen streetcar brakes. Frozen brakes! Obviously the TTC does not abide by The Bay's "we're made for this" mantra. I get that it was extreme weather and am not suggesting they operate the car in an unsafe manner, but if the brakes weren't working, why was it out in the first place?

Long story short, the streetcar I was on, and by my count, 6 others that got stuck behind it, got, well, stuck. "Buses are coming" an admittedly charming and good natured TTC member told us but one look at the waiting masses told me that there weren't enough buses in the city.

Fur hat flaps down, collar up and Anna Kendricks Cups song on my lips, I headed for home. The "two bottles of whiskey for the way" lyrics tortured me a bit when I turned up 4 km later with popsicle like fingers. Streetcar nor bus passed me on the way, so my choice to walk was sound.

And so was the e-mail I sent to the TTC customer service hotline for just this last Friday, quite a nice letter and TWO tokens, a $6 value, turned up in my mailbox. I had a picture of the tokens but it's a bit of a let down after the rabbits.

This high maintenance squeaky wheel says justice was indeed served.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meat hand, trees and harvest

Despite my last post where I extolled my own culinary skills, I managed to turn my pinkie finger into ground beef while, of all things, frying an onion. I wasn't actually frying the onion at the time, I was putting the onion in very hot oil when it decided to leap from the pan and disfigure my sixth favourite digit.

Prolonged ice bath and kisses from our new roommate did nothing to stop the blister and subsequent blood and ensuing goo. It actually doesn't hurt that much as third degree burns are so bad they burn off the nerve endings so there is nothing to sense the pain. Gross.
And I STILL haven't heard back from MasterChef Canada yet. I know people who were declined have been told 'no' and that they've invited people back for the Top 50 category so I think I'm in limbo land on a "maybe" list. Time will tell.

My damaged digit got little rest this weekend at Lonsdale. As I rounded the corner of the house heading for the front door, I found a 60 foot tree sprawled across the front lawn. Silver lining, it had fallen away from the house and didn't even hit the downspout. It came a little too close for comfort and an arborist will soon visit to inspect the rest of the trees.

Ever efficient IronGirl was on it like a tick on a june bug and with the help of the chainsaw, we had that timber sliced, diced and moved in about 4 hours. As we made like a termites, we checked out pintrest and have decided to make a side table, with a fierce whitewash, out of one of the chunks.

And on a less destructive note, the tomatoes are in! 7 pounds of cherry sized ruby jewels of goodness are on their way to giving me my first canker of the season. Can't wait!

Now that we've finally got some heat, they are starting to ripen but the cool dry weather also made them deliciously sweet. Fine soup and pasta sauces are on the way.

Monday, August 12, 2013

D46 Master Baker - hee hee.

No, that does not mean you sank my battle ship but it does mean I cook a mean pie!

It was a long exhausting weekend and as I promised mother I would blog about it, I best get on that.

It all started last Thursday when IronMan sent me the following link with the subject heading "you should do this". With no time to prepare and a busy weekend of Scottish Festival (beer drinking) ahead I thought, much like Alfred in the BirdCage who didn't have time to wax, I didn't have time to prepare.

But, around rolled Friday night, and halfway through a bottle of red, I found myself donning an apron and busting out the flour. Two hours later I had my blue ribbon winning pear and ginger pie cooling on a rack and was flittering about getting china dishes, silver serving utensils and my to-die-for picnic basket ready for a 7:00 AM open casting call.

Confident no one in their right mind would actually be at the Inter-Continnental at such an early hour, I left at 6:45. My heart sank as I ordered IronMan out of the car to reserve a spot in the massive line that snaked around the corner.

Luckily, I got the spot I did. I met my new besty from Ottawa, Carrie, and her support group of two - Jenn and Jan. All, fabulous. I thought I'd get there, they'd say "nice pie" and "go home" and I'd be done by 9:00. Well, I was done by 9:00, but it was in the PM, not the AM. That's right.... I was there for 14 hours.

It was mostly sitting and waiting but that's because I continued to move through the various stages! That's right, suck it other lady with PBF two rows in front of me that also brought pie! HA!

After waiting for HOURS, I got my competitor # - D46. Carrie was D45 and we rocked it bitches. Once we were in the 'tasting room' you had 3 minutes to plate your creation. As mine was pie, a dusting of icing sugar and three blueberries, I was done in about 30 seconds. Then, more waiting...

First, someone asked us why we made what we made, if you made sweet, did you also make savoury (and vic versa) etc. Then came the taste test and more questions. I don't remember all my answers but I made sure to play up the queer-beekeeping-gun-toting-fall-fair-winning-Lonsdale owner at every turn. guessed it, more waiting. But it was worth the wait! Of the 62 "D" people, 15 or so of us asked to go through one exit while the others were told to keep on cooking and thanked for their time.

At this point, text my brother so he could tell my mother I had entered a baking contest and was doing better than I thought. She expected me about noon. Oooooops.

There was then 3 hours of the iPhone version of head bands, I taught a table of 8 how to do Anna Kendricks "cups". IronMan had gone to work and Carrie's cheerleaders had gone to see a Jays game and we was still waiting when they got back.

Finally, I, and the camera, were ready for my close-up. Lights, camera and a mystery box later it was 8:30 and I was done. For the day. I wasn't gone 45 minutes when I got a call-back! What?????? Of course with my cell phone habits, I missed the call. Genius! Helen and I played phone tag but I now have to go back for more screening. Eeeeeeeeeeeee! So excited, I'll keep you posted.

This was followed by a drive to Fergus for the Scottish Festival and games. If I was smart, something I do not claim to be, I would have gone right to bed. But no, CJ and most of her family, my brother, one of his best friends and his dad were all up watching the MudMen and as I will attend the opening of an envelope, I sinched on my kilt and toddled up the hill for one beer.

And four beers later, I came back to a very restful sleep on an air mattress. Good times. Mom was up at 6:00 AM, opening her pocket door, making coffee all while trying, I'm sure, to be quiet. "Are you ready to run?" she asked at 6:12.

I would be if I could sleep for two more hours! But that was not to be. Despite these less than ideal circumstances I still ran the 10 km race in 49:58!!!! That's right, suck it again! BAM.

My good friend Beeton Betty was there for the third year as were Fauntleroy (who ran an AMAZING 45:something) and CJ with family in tow.

Apres brunch and a desperately needed nap, it was a three hour drive to Lonsdale where I fought the darkness to get the grass cut. My day there included dropping a paint ladened roller down the stairs and phase one of the fireplace upgrade. More will follow on both of these as my dogs are barkin' and I need some zzzzzzzzz.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rote Grutze!

You might well be forgiven for saying "God bless you" or "Gusundeit" after reading the post title, but no need. It's not a sneeze and I certainly hope it doesn't taste like one! Probably as much as Kitkat and Fauntleroy as they will be eating it tomorrow night.

Last weekend, Lonsdale produced it's last 6 cups of red currants and having made a batch of jam with the first, struggled with ideas for the end of the season bounty. I've tried two variations of red currant pie and both were runny, sour messes. 3 jars of jam is more than enough as it's not exactly my favourite but does look nice on the table at Christmas.

As mother nature seems hell bent against my getting culture in the form of Shakespeare in the Park, raining me out yet again this week, I got myself to thinking about a sans picnic dinner for the boys and what else I could do with my little red harvest. Three spoons and big tub of red currants not being an option.

Deep in the recesses of my mind, I remembered a Martha Steward dessert composed of the red globes of sour goodness and after an ask of the Google, the idea of rote grutze to round out our Thursday night meal was born.

This German dessert is apparently very good for you if a little on the sour side. Not exactly selling features for a dessert in my estimation but one must try what one must.

Six cups of red currants takes a LONG time to pick. Especially when the base of the bush is home to a snake and the mosquitoes were out in force. Luckily neither of those ended up in the pot and now four dishes are a chillin' in the fridge for tomorrow night's festivities.

If all else fails, the dollop of whipped cream will become a bowlful and we'll just be done with red currants for now.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

From the gardens

From Lonsdale we have treats that will last the year. Dilly Beans and Malt Vinegar Onions.

From the Beach garden, Teatro Verde served me well!