Avoidance or Preparation?

I threw back the duvet, and rose from my cosy bed just before 630 am, intending to get in a full day of reading & writing. Almost 3.5 hours later, I just sat down.. cracked open my books, (laptop, ipad and notebook)

and decided to blog instead. … Am I avoiding? Or is this part of the process. 🙂

What have I been doing the last 3.5 hours? Well I decided I needed a clear head to study today, so first things first! A quick shower to wake myself up. Then, seeing how lovely it was outside, I plugged in my earbuds, and went for a 1/2 hr walk

– “gotta get the blood flowing so i can study well!”.. While I walked, I listened to a prescribed podcast (from Truth in Love re: Four ways to grow in biblical counselling) Chatted with the neighbour briefly – then prepared a good breakfast to eat outside, enjoying the morning sun, while doing my morning devotions.

eggwhite omelette with fruit & veg

I began a new 7 day devotional today.. “Tilling the Soil of your Heart” . If you have Youversion App on your iphone or Ipad.. I personally recommend that you listen along WHILE you’re reading.. it will slow down your reading, and help you to digest.

Well, then hearing about the Sower and His fields… i just had to tend to my garden and water, do a bit of weeding. Then clean up breakfast, the bathrooms, prep the boxes for tomorrow’s food drive pick up… make tea, put my Study Blend in the diffuser.. and so on… cause i can’t have mess and other things to do on my mind to distract me, yanno? 🙂

So am I avoiding Study? Or skillfully preparing.. by starting my day off right… preparing my heart and mind to receive what I’ll be reading today?

Thoughts I was left with during morning devotions were…

“What parts of my heart are hard to God?

Where am I unreceptive to His goodness?

Where do I need to say “Yes”?

I want to live RECEPTIVELY & SURRENDERED. Hearing His voice, and allowing the seed of His word to grow Fruit in me.

One of my main assignments in this first course is to write a one page journal (limiting to ONE page, double spaced will be DIFFICULT for me, I’m far to verbose..) each week about how one of the Fruits of the Spirit is growing in me. That’s an interesting task I have yet to wrap my heart & brain around.

I’m beginning to understand that a large part of this course will be about God counselling ME through His word.. sowing His seeds of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control in MY life.. so that I can bear fruit and then be a Conduit of His LOVE to others counselling them.

And I’m beginning to also understand how important these last 4 hours were in that process, as I prepared my heart.. tilling the soil.

Finding Peace

I’m going through a daily devotional on Youversion Bible App called “Finding Peace” by Charles Stanley. He wrote this gem that I read today.. I’m just going to put this up here… I have nothing more to add… may it bring you Peace.

You may say, “I can’t help feeling anxious, I’ve always been a worrier.” I’ve heard that from many people through the years. My response is, “Yes you can.”

There’s nothing about a circumstance that automatically creates anxiety. Anxiety occurs because of the way we respond to a problem or troubling situation. Your ability to choose is part of God’s gift of free will to every human being. You can choose how you feel. You can choose what you think about, and you can choose how you will respond to a circumstance. It certainly isn’t God’s purpose for you to feel anxious—He doesn’t allow situations in your life so you’ll have anxiety. The Father may allow a situation in your life to develop stronger faith, grow and mature, or change a bad habit or negative attitude. But God doesn’t set you up for anxiety. He’s always at work to bring you to a place where you’ll trust Him more, obey Him more fully, and receive more of His blessings.

So i did a thing…

As an introduction..

I work for a family run home construction company. My dad started this business in 1964, retired in 1990, and my cousin who worked for dad as his right hand man took over the business. I joined him in 2006 as his “right hand” in the office, doing payroll, bookkeeping, ordering, scheduling, all other admin… chief bottle washer. 🙂

I’ve been talking about ‘retirement’ for a couple years now.. with the hopes that I could when i turned 50. That milestone came and went last January. Then Covid hit, and several things happened in a row, that made me realize.. the time was now. One of those things was that my heart just wasn’t in it any longer, and I was craving.. something more.

I had lunch with a dear friend mid summer, shared my heart with her, and she asked me a question that over the last 20-25 years I’ve been asked several times. This time the question played over and over and over in my mind. I wondered if now was the time to answer the question?

It was this… “have you ever thought of becoming a Counsellor?” The last time I thought semi-seriously about this was about 20 yrs ago when I sat down with another friend who was a certified counsellor and social worker, and asked her how she went about certifying, the process. At the time, the thought of several years in College/University and the cost was something I just couldn’t entertain. I was single, in debt up to my ears, and had no way of supporting myself through the process.

But the last few years, the question has been coming up more regularly.. and this time from someone i minister alongside, and trust her to know my gifting. And this time i didn’t ‘fluff it off’.

I allowed myself chew on it. To reflect and pray. Fast forward a few weeks, and in the middle of the chaos of moving my mom and selling her house, I looked into requirements, and found a few options that allowed me to be certified in Biblical counselling, and to apply as a mature student. So I made an application to a Seminary about 45 min from home, and was in the waiting process to see if I’m accepted. I needed 3 references.. so my friend that asked me the burning question.. she was top of my list. Then my Pastor, and an elder at my church. The funny thing is… I’m dying to know what they wrote on the reference. I haven’t seen them. Maybe I need a little too much affirmation? 🙂

In the meantime, a few days after I applied, I stepped out in faith.. and met with my cousins and told them the news… and gave them a tentative ‘end date’ for my career with our family’s company. It was a nerve wracking conversation.

And then I told my family. Who were and are amazingly supportive & encouraging.

And I waited, and started reading and studying in Faith. Today I put in 6 hours- going cross eyed, and wondering if I could really do this – but then this verse came to me again- 2nd time in the last week. I prayed through it again this morning before I started my study time – knowing it was next week that this course begins- and wondering if it was the right time- or what God has in store…

Photo of storm clouds yesterday that threatened my plans yesterday – but I prayed for a time of blessing with family- and we received abundantly!

Then in my devotions I’m trying to do pre-study time, this verse came up- it was amazing how my devotional time today was all about trust, and faith in waiting.

Photo taken this summer at Varty Lake- family owned property.

I read and read and wrote copious notes of references and new thoughts and ideas- as my paradigms shifted and cracked.. and my eyes glazed over. after 6 hours- I closed my laptop and books and drove over to visit my mom to chat and bring her a few things. After driving her to my sisters for dinner and going home to prep dinner for Guillermo and I (turkey leg soup from scratch and corn bread) I sat down on the couch to watch Netflix and put my feet up while folding laundry – and heard my phone ding –

Woahhhh. What?? 😁😁😁

So … there you have it. I may not have much time for blogging in the nearish future, as my first course starts next week!! If you are a pray-er .. you can add me to your list- for mental clarity and time management. please and thank you!

Woah. After 32 years… I’m going back to school…. 😳😳

Ba de yah, Say do you Remember?

We’ve made it to September. (thank you Earth, Wind and Fire for those memorable lyrics… ba de yah… ) I don’t remember a longer hotter summer. I’m sure there’s some record books on it somewhere.

it was 17 C (my personal favourite temperature) on the deck this morning with a slight breeze, and clear blue skies.. the unrelenting humidity seems to be gone (for now!) Bird bangers and garbage truck air brakes are the only sounds interrupting the crickets, cicadas and happy morning birds this early Friday morning. A red throated hummingbird just stopped by the Scarlet Runners for a morning drink of nectar, the sun gleaming off his iridescent green feathers. So I broke my rule and made a second cup of strong black coffee.. because mornings like these are meant to be savoured.

Early morning Sun peaking through

breakfast nook

It’s been a long haul the last few weeks. Lots of hard emotions. If you’ve ever helped an aging parent move from their home to assisted living.. you likely know the soul tearing feelings well. Mom we love you, you made it through.. and you are shining bright, showing yet again that you are a true survivor. And this daughter is tickled that you’re back to your mischievous self.

Move in day, Aug 18 with my sisters
Mom holding a newly emerged cicada – threatening to unleash it on an unsuspecting person.

The crazy contract that Guillermo is working through right now is really wearing us down. I see significant changes in him. Those further away see the surface stuff.. how he looks drawn, tired, his posture shows the weight of the job and the weariness in his bones. I see the stuff inside – and how his personality has changed, and how sleepless his nights are. We keep eachother awake both trying so hard to sleep and lie still so the other can get rest, our stomachs in knots. We keep hoping to catch a glimpse of the end, but it keeps stretching just out of reach. At the same time, so thankful for the Divine provision.

He lamented last night quietly (not for the first time) while he picked beans in the dark “I’ve lost my summer, haven’t i?” His hope was always to retire (for real!) in the month April, and enjoy a long staycation at home in our backyard through Spring and Summer before venturing further beyond. thanks to Covid – he had April & May off this year, and worked hard in our backyard to make it beautiful for the summer.. those 2 precious months gave us a real taste of what retired life could be like. Then in June he started this contract of 4 x 10hr shifts a week, with 3 days off .. which stretched fairly soon afterwards to 6 x 11hr days. When he started in June he was getting up with the Sun, and now he doesn’t arrive at work til just before it dawns over the Eastern point of Lake Erie. So many of his compatriots retired from the steel industry at age 50 with full pensions.. and while “retirement age” in Canada is still typically 65 when we qualify for full CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) , and he’s just under 1.5 yrs from that, the last 15 years are hard when you’ve seen so many do it successfully early.

My tired Yum

I’m sorry Honey.. maybe next summer?

We had a surprise reprieve from the punishing pace this last weekend. A young couple from our church planned a small Covid wedding, and needed a venue for their reception. We offered our deck, and Guillermo was able to take the Friday off work to help me set up. Rain was in the forecast, so we purchased a new 20×30 white tarp to cover the pergola and the South side where the wind/rain was predicted to come from. He installed it with a large exercise ball as a rounded peak to help the rain water run off. (brilliant!)

I set the table with pretty dishes, the groom dropped off a centre piece he arranged with floating candles and curly twigs, and we festooned the area with lots of celebratory & congratulatory balloons. This was all a surprise to the Bride who was thrilled. We so enjoyed our evening serving the guests. While they left earlyish for a wedding reception, it was still well after our regular bedtime for a work night (Bill works on Saturdays now, and the reception was Friday night). He did plan on ‘sleeping in’ and going in to work later this particular Saturday.

7:15 am on Saturday morning, 3 hours after his usual wake up alarm, he was just showered, dressed and was readying his breakfast, when a phone call from the steel plant rang in, letting him know that the Day Shift was cancelled… he miraculously had the day off. This has never happened before. Somehow, he was gifted 3 days in a row off work. And we SAVOURED it. We actually puttered and worked around the house most of Saturday, had guests for home church & lunch on Sunday.. but we just stayed home.. enjoyed each other’s company..and wordlessly hugged – a lot.

Next week Wednesday marks our 15th wedding anniversary, he’ll be working his long day, followed by a Zoom meeting in the short evening afterwards. A few days later is my sister’s 65th birthday. Both are calendar events we’ll be celebrating later. I remind myself.. people have missed many a milestone- birthdays, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, cancelled major events, graduations, and vacations these last 6 months.. we’re no different. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not even sad about it. I want to celebrate when we’re both relaxed, refreshed, and have the time to remember.

So we move on.. we keep on living, doing, being, breathing, hoping, praying.. one step at a time. And we count our many many blessings.. the small ones like a beautiful September morning, or the big ones, like the huge gift of selling mom’s beautiful Condo privately in ONE day to the first person we showed it to, for full asking price, with no conditions. Yay GOD!!! (sold to another beautiful Christian lady who just lost her husband late last year and needs to downsize – which is what mom did 19 yrs ago after our dad passed away)

Back in February, when we began the slow process of purging at moms home, I found braids that mom cut off my 5 year old head, 45 years ago..

I’ve been waiting through the stages of Covid to be able to donate them, and was finally able to do that today. When I brought them to Wigs for Kids, they seemed very pleased. From my understanding, they only once received hair older than mine, 60 yrs old! Since my hair had been braided before cutting, it will be easy for them to use – no tangles to deal with. Mom also had 2 sets of braids from one of my other sisters; we mailed those to her direct in Vancouver, and she plans to donate hers as well. I saw photos on Wigs for Kids of young children being blessed with wigs and am so thankful that mom preserved our hair so lovingly.

It’s funny .. (not in a haha way..) how we often thing “giving” is mainly about money.. then we consider it about giving our time. But there are so many other ways/things we can give that can make a big difference in someone else’s life. Like 45 year old hair. 🙂

2 weeks after Mom’s move, we are now preparing to “dispense” of her furniture kitchen appliances, and some other small items. My sisters and I were taking a wee break after the move to start this next step.. when I received a call out of the blue from a local mission looking for some items for a young couple in need expecting their first baby. We didn’t even photograph, catalogue or prepare anything yet. Someone from the mission came to the house, and was able to take an old kitchen table set/dishes/cutlery/pots & pans. Many of these items 30-50 yrs old or older – but still in really excellent condition, as my mom is truly one of the best examples of a “wise steward” that I know.

A couple of days later, we heard of someone who needed a fridge badly, and this morning, a call requesting her sofa bed for a young man moving away from home to go work up in Northern Ontario in a street mission. We haven’t made calls or plans, or set up ads.. and are just waiting now to see what the next phone call may be, and who God brings to mom’s door with a need for exactly what we have to give..

We want to truly recognize that Everything in Heaven & on Earth is God’s.. (2 Chron 29:11). and we are His stewards.. whether that be money, time, gifts, our talents, the hairs on our head, or 30 yr old furniture we’ve so enjoyed – and wait patiently for Him to provide the next steward. He is faithful… all the time. 🙂

I leave you with a few more fun Bean photos… as they are growing over the pergola.. providing us with food, beauty, shade and shelter.

A different kind of summer

I came across this post from last year… I know what I did last summer just after i had been saying to someone what a different summer we were having this year. Not just because of Covid and the changes to weddings, birthday celebrations and social distancing, but because of Bill’s work, and moving my mom from her condo to a smaller apartment with some assisted living. It’s been tough emotionally, mentally, spiritually.. physically all around.
Just a couple weeks before her move.. a choke cherry tree fell on mom’s porch during a Sunday afternoon windstorm. It’s roots were literally choked by other nearby trees.

Due to Guillermo’s work, he is unable to get away at all, and in desperate need of sleep, (which I’m not very good at doing right now..) so my sister Geri and I took ourselves away for a few days a couple weeks ago. We began our trip touring for a couple hours through Prince Edward County on the North side of Lake Ontario.

inside the Handy Dandy Pocket Map of PE County

We ended up at “the Point” for a couple of days – this is a beautiful parkland piece of property in Eastern Ontario that has been in our family for a couple generations. It features water access on East, South and West sides, so you can capture gorgeous sunrises, beautiful lake views day and night, and extraordinary sunsets.


– 2 sleeping bunkies, a fully stocked open air kitchen, a shed and 2 outhouses, one of which is very well appointed.

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Guillermo’s hours at the steel plant have increased to ~11+ hours a day, 6 days a week for the last 4 weeks. I’ve picked up some of the workload of what he does around the house & property – there’s a lot I can’t do, and by the time he has his one day off on Sunday.. he really has nothing left to give, so there’s things we are just “living with” right now. THANKFULLY it’s been a very dry summer, and the grass only needs cutting once every 1-2 weeks, instead of some wet summers when it needed cutting every 2-3 days.

Old Faithful, our 15 year old van is chugging through 1100 km a week, still blowing AC with the radio keeping him company. Even peacocks find it acceptable (photo taken at a friend’s house – they have several peacocks roaming their hobby farm..these girls chose to park themselves to watch the sunset on top of Guillermo’s van)

Our renter who lived in our backyard cottage for 12 years moved out a few weeks ago – and we’re waiting for time to do some much needed repairs to the foundation and walls before re-renting it. It’s really cute. 253 SF, with a bedroom big enough for a queen size bedroom suite, kitchen & living area together, and a 4 pc bath. If I was single again, I would love to live in it. We really do miss our songbird, Melissa Shriner, who’s beautiful voice sang out the open windows on summer evenings as she prepared for one of her concerts or teaching voice lessons to students. She was a fabulous tenant and a great neighbour to have in our backyard. In the meantime, until we can get the repairs done, I’ll be lightly furnishing it as a temporary ‘guest house’ for family & friends who want to visit.

My dearly beloved usually arrives home around 7 pm, just 2 hours before bedtime, so he’s rarely hungry for more than watermelon and a light snack – but I still like to cook up a nice meal at least once a week. Last week’s meal was bacon wrapped sirloin steaks, with buttered mushrooms, beet green salad, grilled golden beets & mini eggplants from our garden.

Grilled mushrooms are simple and one of Bill’s very favourite things to eat. Just wash/trim/dry baby bellas (or whatever mushroom you prefer -but i find bellas grill the best) add a wee bit of butter, and some steak seasoning. (I added in some mini eggplant as well) Grill on a foil pan for a bit longer than steak takes. (approx. 10 min on medium) They turn out beautiful. No turning required. The juice remains in the cap, and is fantastic over the meat.

In case you wondered.. the beans are growing slowly on the East side of the pergola, we’ve only harvested a couple handfuls so far. They definitely would have fared better on the South side, but still, for my initial “living privacy on the pergola” project.. not too bad.

As for the rest of the garden, I have one remaining kale plant from last year that I harvested seed from, and within a few days of planting, I already have several new seedlings ready to transplant in the garden.

I seeded more golden beets for early fall harvest, and planted nasturtium for late summer salads. Today’s small harvest includes cucumber, tomatoes, jalapeños, over ripe eggplant and nasturtium for tonite’s salad.

How does your garden grow? How is your Covid summer?

Join me?

I’m gonna brag on my man right now… and at the same time ask ya’ll praying people to pray with me for the next few months, while curbing your desire to tease about retirement. Those of you who know us, know Guillermo has been talking retirement for a few years. Then came the addition/renovation.. and we found ourselves with a mortgage again after being mortgage free a few years.

Also, again.. those who know us, we both had to “start over” like young newlyweds, later in life due to failed previous marriages and some pretty big losses. It’s been almost 15 years now of A LOT of hard work, nose to the grindstone… saving, scrimping.. rebuilding.

Yah- so he’s not retired. But he’s beyond tired. Exhausted. And we’re facing some of the biggest challenges right now with him commuting 2.5 hrs a day (many of you say, so what? I do that!) in a 15 yr old van, to a very demanding new job in an unfamiliar workplace, while he’s 42 yrs older than when he first started his career in the steel industry.. when by right he SHOULD be retired.

On top of doing his best to be a great husband, church elder, treasurer and a whole lot more. It’s 11 pm, and he’s just finished his current work week, planning for when things get really crazy for the next 2 months of 60-70-80 hour work weeks plus commute.. and he’s still working at home planning next week.

He is work ethos embodied and every day I pray for his safety, wisdom and rest. Many say “first world problem” and yes I agree – he has work, we have income when many do not- I’m not complaining.

But I worry. About the 15 yr old Caravan with 310,000 km on it that he’s adding more than 750km a week on. About his exhaustion, mental health, our marriage.. cause we miss each other and tend to argue more when we’re finally together out of frustration. That we have ONE bedroom, he desperately needs his sleep and I can’t… so I end up keeping him awake..

Again.. all first world problems!! but it’s what is in my heart. On my mind. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the beans, the cucumbers, zucchini and the long rain we finally had after a 3 week long heat wave and drought, and I may even cook & bake.. but today- it’s all about my love, care and concern about this man who provides for us. I know to my orange painted toes that I’m blessed.

Garlic & Nasty Beetles

Have I talked about my love of growing garlic before? If i did.. its buried a few years ago, and it’s time to again. I grow way too much garlic. Way more than I or my family will use. In 2014 I harvested over 250 bulbs from our small kitchen garden. I did a TONNE of braiding that year. I don’t know why I love it. I think.. cause there’s a process and many steps over several months (3/4 of the year!) .. and it involves sowing, wintering, early growth (first growth you see, sometimes in January!) , 2 harvests (scapes & bulbs) then cooking/grilling, prepping, drying, braiding.. gifting… cooking with my own garlic! Each step has a sense of accomplishment.

If you want to know more about growing perennial hard neck garlic.. this is a great blogpost here.. that explains the scapes, bulblets, what happens when you don’t pull the bulbs.. when, why & how to plant. Very well written and documented.

It started about 10 yrs ago when my dear old Polish neighbour lady, Helen, was growing these interesting stalks in her flower garden alongside her driveway. They were green long leafy tall spikey things with these curlie queue heads. I discovered later they were hard neck garlic. She just let them grow between her roses, geraniums, hostas, daisies.. everywhere. She never pulled or cut off the scapes though.. they would straighten out, then flower, and leave seed heads, or Bulblets. One year I took a bulblet and scattered them in my rhubarb patch. Sure enough, the next Spring, I had garlic coming up. I left it, and the next year, I had more.. and in bunches. Eventually I googled ‘growing garlic’ and learned i needed to space them, to plant good sized cloves, and to plant them in late fall, same time as tulips. Thus began my garlic growing years.

Hosta bed harvest from a week ago

The past couple of years, I’ve been growing them in my Hosta bed just like Helen, as well as a very neat row in my vegetable garden. I harvested all the bulbs from the Hosta garden last week, dried them, dry scrubbed them, cut off the roots, and braided them today.

arranging heads to braid

Earlier this morning I harvested the veg garden bulbs which grew the biggest & best bulbs I’e ever had.. likely due to the rich and well drained soil, and consistent watering they received throughout the Spring. These will get dry scrubbed later today, and then dried in the garage for a few days before braiding.

Braiding Hard neck garlic is NOT impossible… but it’s a bit tricky… To be honest, I’ve never braided any other kind. You need to do it at just the right time, before the “necks” get too hard.. but are dry enough. I spent some time first breaking all the necks.

See the short video here: (and listen for the cardinal!)

midway through a 9 strand braid. far left stem over 5 stems to “middle” then far right stem over 4 stems to middle, and repeat…

I then laid out all the garlic in front of me smallest to largest, as each bunch was going to have one big one at the bottom, several medium, and some small heads, graduating in size.

after some trial and error..
I discovered tying all 9 heads together tightly first before braiding was the best way to start.

At first I tried starting the braid with 3 heads, and adding in the remaining 6.. but that didn’t work too well. I learned that arranging all 9 heads together first, tying tightly as close to the heads as possible (I use old embroidery thread I still have from 30 yrs ago when I attempted to be a “Proverbs 31” woman who did handwork & crocheting. .. hahah.)

Result.. i have several braids done, now hanging in the garage ready to gift or use.

If I were a REAL Proverbs woman, I would set up a roadside stand and sell these babies. 🙂

In other not so “exciting” news.. we have a veritable plague of japanese beetles in our backyard, that have nearly decimated our cherry tree.

I first noticed them about a week ago while taking laundry in off the clothesline.. about 6 or more on my sheets, in a mating frenzy. (ewwww) I told Guillermo right away, and he got the traps out. The traps are these green plastic accordion hanging baskets with a bright yellow T cross piece at the top that holds a piece of pheremone bait.

hanging on for dear life before they fall in.

The beetles are attracted to the smell (especially when the traps are in sunlight) and they hit the yellow plastic side wall, and fall into the accordian basket.. and can’t fly out.

The first week after hanging both traps we were suprised to find both traps filled already. Then both traps filled in ONE day, then AGAIN in one day.. then in less than a day. The plague has officially arrived…

This big bucket is almost half filled with ONE days trappings, then soaked in hot soapy water, a lid on, then when they stop moving, Guillermo digs a hole and buries them out in the back 40. Ughhh.. shudder.

dead beetles in a bucket. (how’s that for a song title?)

Ugh.. it’s disgusting… If anyone knows of a way to deter them other than trapping, drowning and burying… please let me know! (hit play below to see today’s swarm)

Happy July – What’s Growing on?

We celebrated CANADA DAY very unceremoniously this year.. thanks to Covid-19.  Honestly, Bill and i aren’t ones to celebrate Canada day very ceremoniously any given year.  Not that we don’t love our country and where we live.. but we just don’t love crowds.  We actually really really really don’t like crowds, traffic, parking, etc.  So typically we get out of Dodge on Can Day (and often to the States) – but this year, he worked, and I stayed home & inside due to 36C weather with 80% humidity most of the day, where I happily enjoyed the quiet, my new AC, and baked up a storm.   I did find this video, which I love.  I’ll share it ’cause A) I love “Walk off the Earth”, (the band) and B) I do love Canadian Products.  (French’s)  Please click and enjoy this fun rendition of our National Anthem.

One of the areas that Bill & I love to roadtrip is along the North shore of Lake Erie from Niagara to Leamington here in Southern Ontario, Canada.  We did it a few years ago on our September wedding anniversary in my cousin’s sweet little red BMW convertible. (lookit me rockin’ the head scarf.. LOL!)

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Leamington is known for it’s tomato fields and (used to be for) the Heinz Ketchup plant.  In 2013, it was announced that Heinz was closing the Leamington processing plant, putting 740 people out of work.  The plant was the largest employer in this lovely  southwestern Ontario town.  Then French’s came along (my favourite yellow mustard company, who also happens to be Canadian!) and bought the plant, and started making French’s Ketchup.  French vs Heinz

There’s a WHOLE lot more to the story, and this blogpost by Treehugger tells more about the Ketchup wars.. (note: i did not factcheck her blogpost on French’s ownership) but it’s nice to know that someone resurrected this Canadian Ketchup plant.  I didn’t mean to go off on that tangent – cause A) i’m so not political, and B) I do love my American Neighbours.. we love visiting you, and spend most of our vacation time in your fair land.. but C) I am Canadian proud, and the Ketchup wars  (article from McLean’s magazine in link) were pretty real here in Ontario, Canada and on our grocery shelves a few years back.

🇨🇦There’s a bit of social economic (recent) history for you post-Canada day.  🇨🇦


So… on to the “topic du jour”… what is Growing in my garden at the beginning of July?  With a late start to Spring (very cold May, with snow & frost second week in) we’re catching up.  the cucumbers are blossoming and climbing really fast now.

Zucchini are also blossoming and going gangbusters (no fruit yet)

The eggplant is full of fruit (mostly only about 3-4″ long)

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I’ve been harvesting herbs, radishes, lettuces every day.. even this celery stalk to give it a try, and my first mini eggplant!

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I harvested most of the garlic scapes recently, and may have been incorporating them a bit too much into my diet.. even Guillermo is complaining noticing when he’s near me.  😉 Woops!  time to eat a lot more mint!

I made my 4th batch of garlic scape & radish green pesto yesterday (adding only lemon juice & avocado oil, pepper & pink Himalayan sea salt) and added it to rotini pasta, white kidney & black beans, radishes, grape tomatoes, carrot, celery and onion.  It tastes fantastic.. but WOW does it have a garlicky punch!

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I was also using the pesto on my morning egg white breakfast wraps in the last week.. Actually had one of these a morning last week before I picked up mom for some errands.  (Sorry Mom!)   She noticed.. but honestly, as any of her daughters will tell you, she has extra sensitive and seriously super sonic Garlic radar.

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Today I switched up my egg white wrap.. instead of a tortilla wrap, I used a Rutabega leaf, and added in some hot peppers and a bit of havarti.  Turned out fantastic, and saved me all the calories/carbs in the tortilla while packing an nutritional punch into my breakfast.

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I’ve been using ALL the edible greens in our salads.  Mint, basils (yes, plural, 2 different kinds) Rutabega leaves, radish greens, several kinds of lettuce, and now beet greens.. which are my favourite!

img_9646This Romaine (pic below) is the crunchiest.. it came from one of my earlier plantings of kitchen scraps from store bought lettuce. You can see we’ve been harvesting from it quite a bit.  It will get tough soon, so i need to finish harvesting it – never fear – there’s lots more plants coming from the kitchen scraps.img_9672

the lettuce bowls are all taking off (one with a sunflower!)

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I thinned the golden beets to encourage growth a few days ago, and googled beet greens to see if they could be eaten raw (knew they could be cooked) and yes, they can, and also pack a wonderful nutritional punch.  From whfoods.com (World’s Healthiest Foods)

Our WHFoods rating system places beet greens among our Top 10 foods in terms of their total nutrient rankings of excellent, very good, and good. Beet greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, copper, potassium, manganese, vitamin B2, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and calcium. They are a very good source of iron, vitamins B1, B6, and pantothenic acid, as well as phosphorus and protein. Beet greens are also a good source of zinc, folate and vitamin B3.

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One thing i just learned reading further though.. is that they are HIGH in oxolates.. which is NOT good for Guillermo.. as he is prone to kidney stones and should be avoiding oxolates.. so they will no longer be going into his salads… (insert sad face here)

Whatever the case, the thinning of the beet row was important.. and as you can see, these lovely golden beets are doing quite well.

I seem to have a bug in my garden.. and need to research how to fight it. Yesterday I saw a few white moths fluttering around.. and noticed as well that the Daikon radish greens seem to be the most affected.  too bad, as I was looking forward to harvesting these greens and trying them out as well soon.

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img_9667-1The climbing beans are taking off!   We have our first contender to reach past the railing.. i guesstimate it’s about 7.5′ tall now.

These guys are so fun.. i love the way they wrap themselves so tightly around the jute and climb climb climb!   No blossoms yet, I do believe that they suffer being on the East side. (not getting enough sun)  Hopefully that will change once they get tall enough and the upper leaves get almost all-day sun.

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Well, as you know from my last post on Salons being open… (and thankfully VERY safely here in Niagara… (masks, plexi glass, temperature taking, reduced services etc) I went in to deal with the “tinsel”.. and this is the result! My wonderful colourist added in some blonder highlights to tie in my 3″ grey tinsel Sparkly roots.. and I’m now a silver blonde!

It’s been a couple days now, and I still shock myself a bit when i look in the mirror.

Hope you’re having fun enjoying your gardens, new recipes, new hairdo’s now that salons are open again.. or trying something, ANYTHING new.   We’re never too old to learn.  Sometimes our attempts at “new” don’t always work out.. like the rhubarb & blueberry coffee cake muffins I attempted yesterday (no photos, they were that bad) but keep trying something new.  Keep learning, keep on experimenting and trying.. you never know what you’ll discover!

 

Salons are open! and an attempt at a Galette

(edited)

I recently saw a blog post on “Cooking without limits” for rhubarb galette.  I’ve never heard of galette!  But MAYBE this would solve my pastry issues!   Her recipe called for Agave.. which I thought for sure I had in the house.. but then remembered I brought it to work quite a while ago, and my cousin has been using it in his coffee…  so I substituted…  I cut up all the rhubarb in cute angle pieces, hoping to achieve the beautiful pattern that CWL (Cooking Without Limits) did.. but i could not figure it out..

I substituted honey in the pastry, and white sugar in the rhubarb.. but then drained the liquid from the cut rhubarb that sat in the sugar (and corn starch) for over an hour while the pastry was in the fridge.  (did I drain off too much liquid & sugar??)  so  I drizzled a bit of honey on the rhubarb after I laid it out on the pastry.  I have GOT to learn to check my pantry & ingredients before I start a recipe!!

 

The pastry worked out!!!  I’m so so happy!  I’ve never weighed flour before  – her recipe didn’t call for so many cups or scooped ingredients.. but 180G.. so I tared my food scale and weighed out EXACTLY 180 grams of flour, and exactly 150 G of cold butter, which i then grated.. (another baking hack I learned recently)  I’m not going to post the whole recipe.. you should really use hers if you want to attempt this … cause I fiddled it with it so much to match what I had in the house..  below before going in the oven.. (it’s more polygon than round.. but NOT bad for my first attempt!)

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And after…

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mmmm .. so glad we have French Vanilla frozen yogurt in the freezer.. we may just skip dinner and have Galette!  Rhubarb IS a vegetable after all!!

Note to self: get the Agave back from the office….


Yesterday I received a call from my hair salon that they are back open, and I have an appointment booked for about 10 days… time to integrate the Covid Silver linings into my new look!  My nail salon also re-opened yesterday, with really great protocols in place.  No walk-ins, they keep the door locked, you have to book an appointment, don’t touch all the polishes on the shelf (no prob, I usually bring my own) wear a mask, they take your temperature with a temp gun when you arrive, and you sanitize.. every other chair is bagged and ‘out of service’  putting you at least 3.5 m away from the next person, the techs are all masked with surgical masks, and then plexi hoods.   I also had to sign a release form/affidavit of my risks/level of contacts and agreeing to policy.  All VERY GOOD things.

So today, a little over 3 months since my last visit, I had a wonderful visit with my favourite Vietnamese ladies who do a fabulous job taking care of my feet for me.  They’ve raised their (very low) prices slightly – and I’m happy to pay it.  They can only do about 1/3 of their capacity, and they’re working hard cleaning in between – even more so than they always did in the past.   I have Happy Feet.  And soon I’ll have Happy Hair.

 

The hair salon also is doing similar protocol.. and limiting appointments to what they can do in 1 HOUR for colour, plus cut.  No blow outs, no styles.   All this will save me money of course too.. I look forward to what they’re going to do with this…

 

Garlic scape & radish greens pesto

IF ever there was a time to eat more garlic and not worry about it… it’ s now during Covid.  For those people who just won’t stay 6′ or 2 meters away… they certainly will if you’re eating raw scapes! 🙂

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I’ve just started harvesting my scapes.  I like to wait til they’re curly.  My favourite way to eat them is with a bit of rubbed olive or grapeseed oil with some S&P and maybe a bit of lemon juice or lemon oil, then grilled.  We’ll be doing that likely in the coming week.

I found THIS recipe as noted in my last post for radish green pesto.. and thought instead of using garlic, I would use the fresh scapes out of my garden.

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Scapes are the “flower head” centre stalk of hard neck garlic.  the stem at the bottom can be woody like asparagus, you want to snap them off.  but the whole head and stem can be eaten – I typically cut off the top flat green piece above the white head if using raw, but leave it on when grilling.   You do want to pull/cut these because they will rob your garlic bulb in the ground if you let them “bloom”.   Use them any way you would garlic.. and more.   They are much milder and sweeter than the garlic bulb that is growing in the ground below, and I find a lot more versatile.  The great thing is, your garlic plant is giving to you twice!   My cousin dries them, and also ferments them.. they really are fabulous fermented.  I’m hoping to get a jar (or two!) from her this summer.  We tend to share a bit from our gardens, and she ferments EVERYTHING… but the scapes are my favourite.

I pulled out my trusty mini food processer, and before I got going on the pesto, I decided to pulverize all the egg shells we’ve been collecting to feed our garden.  We’re discovering that our green bin sometimes gets thrown right in the same  bin as the regular garbage on the weekly waste trucks, (so very disappointing!!)   so I’m hoping to do more composting, and using everything I can of my food.  Like the radish greens.  And all our egg shells, and coffee grounds to feed the garden.  These are going in the garden, because apparently in our area we are already very nitrogen rich, but our soil needs more calcium.  I baked the shells first in the oven, then cooled.  I’m guessing I could have processed them further into a powder, and may next time, but we’ll start with these.

Then a good clean out of the processor, and in went the radish greens, (prewashed several times and spun dry in my salad spinner) local cold-pressed grape seed oil with lemon from Niagara Vinegar Co., juice from half a lemon, heaping tbsp of Tahini, (the recipe link I shared from “From a Chef’s Kitchen” called for nuts, but i didn’t have any in the house that would work – so thought I’d try Tahini, and it worked.. really softened and rounded out any sharpness from the Scapes or bitterness from the radish greens) S & P and about 8 garlic scapes.

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The result is amazing.   I had quite a bit on some canape crackers.. and am now eating by the spoonfuls while I’m typing.. oh.. mmmmm.  SOOO yummy.

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I will definitely be saving all my radish greens from now on, and trying different pesto recipes.. and maybe even freeze some pesto cubes for the winter to have on pasta, chicken, in rice dishes.  mmmmm… Pesto season might be one of my favourites..

 

oh Guillermo… you better come have some, otherwise you’re not gonna wanna kiss me for about 3 days..

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