Thursday, April 19, 2018

THE BEST CLASSIC CHOPPED SALAD!

I promised you a recipe every Thursday for the foreseeable future.

This one is a new one I tried this week for the first time.

We were invited to our neighbours last evening for dinner.  I offered to bring something, and was asked to bring a salad.

At first I thought I would just bring a regular tossed salad, or a Caesar Salad - but that is same old, same old - so to Pinterest I went.

I choose a salad called  "The Best Classic Chopped Salad"  posted by Melanie F. of nutritiouseats.com .

It's a bit more time consuming to make than a regular salad - but well worth the time and effort that goes into making it.  If you have to take a salad to a Pot Luck or just want a nice dinner salad, that you could use as an entry itself - here's the one to try.



2 Romaine ( 8-10 cups finely shredded/chopped)
3/4 cup diced tomatoes (or 1 cup grape tomatoes)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion ( or 1/4 of a medium onion)
2 avocados, small dice
3 hard boiled eggs, fine chopped
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese

5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
a few tablespoons of Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl ( Romaine through blue cheese).  When ready to serve, stir in Bacon and toss with dressing.  You will have left over dressing.


Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or Agave
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a jar combine balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper.  Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking with a small whisk.  Place on lid and shake well until combined.  Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.

Shake well before using.

NOTES:
I couldn't find any Blue cheese in the smaller country stores out here, so I substituted Herbed Garlic Feta cheese, and I did buy an avocado, even chopped it up, but made the mistake of popping it in my mouth to try it - and the rest went in the trash... for some reason I really don't like them.  I find them tasteless and mushy...

I made the Balsamic vinegar dressing but found it a bit strong, and because this salad was intended for a family including 4 little boys ages 3-8, I did not toss the salad ahead of time.

Instead I took along a some Creamy Poppyseed ( for the boys) and some Greek with feta, for the adults.

The salad was amazing, my huge bowl of salad vanished - everyone loved it.



Special thanks to nutritiouseats.com  for the recipe.





Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ALLOTMENT ADDICTION, AND A CRAZY IDEA!

Its been a long winter, and a miserable spring so far.  It's very hard to stay focused on the coming of summer, and long days of sunshine and heat.  A local farmer told me we are in for an unusually cold and wet summer.  I hope he's only 50% correct.  We could use the moisture, but cold weather is something we have all had enough of.

How are you coping with this somewhat disappointing spring weather?

I have to say, I am spending an awful lot of time on YouTube of late... particularly watching all the "allotment" videos from the UK.  It started with "Katie's Allotment", and now I am also hooked on  "Jane's Allotment" video series.

Jane is an older version of Katie - and funny beyond funny - but also very knowledgeable about gardening.

My love affair with the "Brits" way of gardening has not just blossomed now.  Long before there was a thing called YouTube, and long before I even had a garden space of my own, I was buying gardening and decorating magazines that featured Typical English Gardens.

In particular, I have always loved the wild hodgepodge look of an English Country garden.  The natural look of them - so like Mother Nature's planting, really appeals to me.

Jane's Allotment, is a typical English Gardener's Garden.  She has vegetables, flowers, herbs, all stuffed together in a small space, which might seem a little over-much to Canadian gardeners - but it all works for her.

It works for me as well - and I want it all - in my garden!

So, as well as choosing to plant my garden according to the phases of the moon - I am also going to change up the arrangement of the garden.

To begin with, I am going to make a relatively small flower garden right in the middle of the vegetable patch - to encourage the bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects to come to my garden.  And I will follow that up with interspersing more flowers throughout the vegetable patch itself.

I am going to section off my vegetables into proper "beds", so I can grow companions together.

I am going to dig up some more lawn and add a Raspberry patch outside and behind my garden where I planted my little cherry tree a couple of years ago.  I love raspberries, I know they can become a pain in the neck, but hopefully giving them their own separate space will give me a chance to keep them under control.

And this morning while I was having a soak in the tub to help my very sore joints and back, I came up with the most brilliant idea!  Yes - she thinks about gardening in the tub!!!

I'll tell you more about that - next time!





Monday, April 16, 2018

PLANTING BY THE PHASES OF THE MOON.

I mentioned in one my last post that I was going to plant my vegetable garden this year according to the Phases of the Moon.

It sounds pretty radical, but in actual fact it makes a whole lot of sense once you figure it all out.

I watched my Dad do this every year, and he always had productive gardens and high yields in his vegetable crops.

If you want to give it a try this year, there are a few things you have to know first - and that's where the Old Farmers Almanac comes in.  You can purchase the book, just about everywhere - the books are specific to each country - so mine is the Canadian Edition - and they are also available online.

The Canadian Version online is Almanac.ca

It is a good idea to first make a list of the crops you want to grow - actually make 2 lists... one for crops grown above ground, and one for below ground crops.

Next you must determine the "Area" you are gardening in.

I am in Area 3.

There are really only 2 rules to follow.

1. ABOVE ground crops (annuals, vegetables) must be planted during the light or waxing of the moon ( from the day the moon is new, until the day it is full).

2. Flowering bulbs, biennial, Perennial and vegetable crops that bear crops BELOW the ground must be planted in the dark or Waning of the moon ( from the day after the moon is full until the day before it is new again).

That's pretty much it - except not quite.

So here's an example for my own planting.  I will be planting my vegetable garden in May.

in May the New moon is the 15th day, and the Full Moon is the 29th day.

Tomatoes (above the ground crop)  can be planted any time between the 15th and 29th of May.
But there is one more thing to consider - frost.
According to the Almanac the last spring frost for our area will be May 22.

So now... I will plant my Tomatoes between the 23rd and the 29th of May.


For May, the New Moon is May 15th, and the Full moon is the 29th.

Carrots (below the ground)  day after full moon is 30 and 31... and the new moon is early in May,

so the only days in May that I should plant my carrots are May 30 and May 31.
Frost will no longer be a consideration.

I have gone through my list of vegetables and determined when the best time to plant every one of them, and marked it down on a calendar.  So we will see how this goes...

Dad, if you are watching from up there.... no laughing!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

AN OLD FASHIONED DESSERT

I have decided that Thursday's are going the be Recipe days - at least for a little while...  What is the use of having a garden patch of vegetables, if you don't intend on cooking with the food you grow?

So, I'll start off with this one...




Remember the days when our Mother's canned fruit grown in their own yard, like Raspberries - or from purchased fruit in season, like Peaches, Pears?

I don't think many women have time to can like that anymore - and kudos to those who still do.

But it got me thinking.  I was raised on home-canned fruit.  It was so good - not near as sweet as the canned fruit you buy in the stores, and you knew that the fruit that was used was as fresh and as perfect for canning as it could possibly be - perhaps that is why it tasted so much better.

We always had dessert after our main meal - but it wasn't always flour based, like cakes or cookies or other baked goods - sometimes it was just a fruit nappy ( now there's an old term) of  Mom's canned peaches.

I was going through a book I found at the recycle shop last year called Herbal Treasures, by Phyllis V. Shaudy's  The book is from the 1990's but it full of wonderful ideas of growing and using herbs in everyday living.  It has really great recipes in it as well for all kinds of things, like Herb dressings and vinegars, herbal teas.  Main courses that accommodate fresh and dried herbs - and even crafts made with natural and herb elements.

I stumbled upon a recipe that the moment I started reading it, had me sitting back in my Mother's kitchen as a child, waiting for supper, so we could get to dessert!

This was a particular favourite dessert of mine - and Oh My Goodness - why did we ever stop making it?

This recipe is not exactly like Mom's but even so - I am going to try this one just as soon as I can get out to the store and get the ingredients.

This is good healthy eating, for sure!


Baked Apple with Fennel


6 apples
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons walnuts
3/4 teaspoon fennel

Cinnamon
Honey
Butter
1/2 water

Preheat over to 300 F.  Core apples and place them in a baking dish.
Combine the raisins, walnuts, and fennel, and divide the mixture into 6 even portions.  Stuff the mixture into the apples.
Top each apple with a dusting of cinnamon, a drizzle of honey, and a pat of butter. 
Pour water into the pan around the apples.
Bale for 1 hour, or until apples offer no resistance when poked with a fork.

Can you imagine the flavours in this...

Tart apple ( I would use Macintosh apples), sweet raisin, with a hint of Licorice ( fennel), the beautiful spice of cinnamon, made just a bit crunchy from the nuts, honey and butter.

OH MY GOSH....My mouth is watering!

If you make this - let me know how you liked it!

Enjoy!






Wednesday, April 11, 2018

STILLS OF MY HAPPY PLACE!

I promised you some still photos of my studio and office area upstairs - now minus the dolls and the bed.

I can't tell you how much I am enjoying the extra space.  Since I have finished moving everything around, I have spent hours sitting and working on blogs at my desk, doing some stitching at my table, and just plain enjoying the area the way I used to, before it all became too overwhelmed with "stuff".

So without further babble on my part... here's my tour of sorts!

Staircase to the second story attic... lovely steep stairs that are just plain miserable for hauling dolls and furniture up and down.  I must have made a 100 trips up and down these and the basement stairs the past few weeks, while moving everything around.   Could be why my bones and joints and achy now?

Staircase:


Right at the top of the stairs is a little sitting area and my desk and office space.



This end of the room is the north end of the space.  My desk used to be at the other end, under the south facing window, but often times it was so bright I couldn't actually see the computer, so this works much better for me.  I kept just a few of my really large dolls up in my work area for company.


 Two large book cases with pattern books, and patterns I've acquired and saved over the years.



I dragged this chest of drawers up those stairs myself,  I really needed someplace to store fabric... 
My spinning wheel is under that brown cover beside it.



This is looking towards the middle of the room and the other end ( south) where my desk used to be



In the middle of the room I have a large banquet table, that I use for cutting fabric, ironing and stitching.


and on the opposite wall is my sewing machine table


At the south end of the room where my desk used to be located, I have set up another table which will be my potting/seedling table, once my seeds are up.  Right now they are in the dinning room in the hot south sun, but in a week or so, I will move them up here to the smaller south window and florescent lights until they are ready to go outside.


On the wall behind the table, I have a felt wall - which is just an old felt-lined plastic table cloth I have attached to the wall.  I use it to put quilt pieces that I am working on.... right now there is just odds and ends on there.

And then there is the nook.  This is the little room, I once had a single bed in.  I decided it would be a great place to put all my supplies, so now it is the supply nook.  It's really great to have everything in one spot, instead of scattered all over the place.




And finally a shot of the full space from the south end to the north end.
It's not a small space, and now without the dolls and the bed - there is so much more room for me to rumble about in.




So now you know what I have been doing the past few weeks.  

I will have the doll room tour soon - 







Tuesday, April 10, 2018

INDOOR SEED PLANTING AND VIDEO FRUSTRATION!

Its a new week - it still feels and looks like winter outside, but we are already into the second week of April and up until this past weekend, I still had not started any of my vegetable seeds indoors . 

I was going to put that on my "to do " list for this week, but changed my mind and got it done on Saturday.

I am usually much more excited about spring planting than I am this year, and I think its because the weather is still so much winter - ish!  How can you get excited about being in the yard when it is still covered in snow?  Blah!

So what did I seed on the weekend?

6 (Bush) Manitoba Tomato plants
6 (Staking) Big Beef Tomato plants
6 (Bush) Prairie Pride Tomato plants
6 (Bush) Cherry Supper Sweet 100 Tomato plants.

6 Cool Breeze Cucumber plants
6 English style - Sweeter Yet Cucumber plants

6 Golden California Pepper plants
6 Blazing Banana Hot Pepper plants

3 Pumpkin plants

3 Sunflower plants ( will plant 3 more in the ground in the garden)

3 Acorn Squash Plants
3 Butternut Squash Plants - don't think these will grow as I harvested seeds from a squash, and they don't look very seed-like!

A tray of 12 marigolds
A tray of 12 Cosmos (Sea Shells)

Some of the herbs that I had planted earlier did nothing so I might try them again, or wait and just plant them in pots outdoors when it is warm enough.

Of course if everything comes up and grows well, I will be sharing plants with friends like I did last year.  It's one thing to plant a seed, but needing all the plants that grow might be somewhat of a tricky thing!

I have purchased a Farmers Almanac, and this year I am testing out what was my Dad's chosen spring planting methods  I am going to be planting the whole garden according to the moon cycles.  That means no mass planting on the long weekend of May as I have usually done.  I am beginning to understand why he gardened this way - it actually does make a lot of sense, if you study it enough to understand it.

So wish me luck!


Last week when we were in Winnipeg, we both got new iPhones - it was the end of our contract, so time to upgrade.  I am not attached to my phone what-so-ever.  I do use it more now than I ever have, and I have taught myself to carry it with me so I hear it, but really for me - it's just a phone!

But - this new phone has a real neat camera on it... and I have been playing around with the camera since I got the new phone.  Don't care a scrap about the phone - but love the camera - how typical of me!

I finally completed revamping my studio space, after removing all my dolls and the single bed to one of the basement bedrooms, so last week I decided to make a little video tour of my space.

I am amazed at how much more room I have now that the dolls and bed are gone.

I tried to load the video here so you could all see - but its too large, and I have no idea how to compress it myself ( some sites do it for you, but not this one)

So I will take some stills and post them next time...

Until then...







Monday, April 9, 2018

A LITTLE BOOBIE TALK!

You might have chuckled a bit (Gary did) when you read my post a couple of days ago, that said we had to stop at Walmart for underwear when we were in the city this past week.

While it may have sounded comical - it was actually quite urgent on my part.

This has less to do with underwear and more to do with having only one breast after a total Mastectomy for breast cancer.

If you have had a Mastectomy -  this post is for you.  A God Bless each and every one of you my dear sisters in Cancer.

When you first have a Mastectomy, you are fixated with the loss of the breast... how it feels, how it looks... and very early on you have to totally change your choice of bra's, tops, sweaters etc.

I couldn't wait to get my first free prosthesis from Cancer care - I went and had it fitted and got the right bra that went with it, and I was perfectly content and comfortable.

But then my cancer medication added weight to my body - a lot of weight, and it felt like most of it went directly to my remaining breast.  My breast spilled out of the prosthesis bra, and the prosthesis itself was half the size of my real breast with the weight gain.

Then the real misery began.

I had returned back to work full time - I needed to wear a prosthesis so I found a larger one and adapted a regular bra to hold it.  I bought several prosthesis and I even knit myself one, which strange as it seems was the best one I owned - until I threw it in the washing machine...

When I retired and moved out to the country, I decided I would scrap the idea of wearing the prosthesis - sounds easy, but actually it is not.

Without the weight and fill of another breast or a prosthesis, the torso part of your body is always off.  I tried wearing regular bras, and they were extremely uncomfortable - the weight of one breast completely pulls the bra out of alignment on your chest, and you end up with the side that has no breast all riding up very uncomfortably in your arm pit.

Enter the Fruit of the Loom sports bra's or sport tanks.  They are soft, stretchy and most important I have found they have 2 regular straps, that help to anchor the piece across your chest.  There is minimal pulling into the arm pit, if you get the right size - if it is too small for your breast - it will pull terribly on the side without the breast.

The sports bras with the t-strap back, don't work for me at all - they completely pull under the arm pit and can actually become quite uncomfortable.

I cannot tell you how many years I wish I had had the option for a double mastectomy - I'm still counting those years.  Quite frankly I would rather have none, than one... but at the time of my surgery it was not an option.

Implants were not something I was interested in - much for the same reason as the prosthesis issue of weight gain.  Imagine going through the surgery to have implants and then gaining weight - your chest instantly looks wrong - the implant won't change, but your real breast always will.

So - yes - the trip to Walmart was really urgent for me, as all my sports bras needed replacing, and I absolutely cannot live without them.

It takes a long time to be comfortable after mastectomy, and I'm not talking about pain.  I am talking about the mess in your head and not on your chest.  It's a physical thing for sure, but more than that it's a psychological thing.  If you can find your comfort balance with both aspects of your loss - you are on the right track.

No one way out of this dilemma is correct - you have to find your own comfort - but if my little rant on this post gives you one more option - then I've done my job.

For those of you regular women ( by "regular" I mean two breasted) who don't need the support of a regular bra every minute of your day... try one of these sport options... they come in many levels of support, and if you don't care about perky... you may love them.

I think it's about time we got comfortable - don't you?