Wednesday, 28 January 2009

It's Snowing Again!

The view from my bedroom window. Brrrr!

I've been continuing the House Decluttering project, this time the living room bookshelves get the focus of my attention. Our local library has an annual used book sale in April, so I've sorted about 4 boxes of books destined for that. Plus I've listed some for sale on Amazon and eBay. Wonder if I'll get any customers?
That's enough for today. Now I'm heading outside to declutter the snow in the driveway.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Decluttering - Step 2

The decluttering continues!
Here's my fridge. Do you think it's time to spring-clean the magnets and all the attachments? But I need them all.... honest!

I've always admired plants with a silvery hue to the leaves, as in the picture of the garden top centre.... maybe this is the year that I create a silver garden of my own. The pictures on the right at the top are of my home town in England... a little bit of nostalgia to make me feel homesick.
The horses pinned to the main door live just down the road from here... zoom in and you might be able to see the birds keeping their feet warm.

What's pinned to your fridge? Or do you have one of the new stainless steel variety that doesn't accept magnets?

Of course, I can rely on expert assistance in the kitchen when the cupboards need emptying....

.... and my helper is extremely thorough when it comes to sorting out the plastic storage containers.

There's so much decluttering going to happen round here I might have to get a huge garbage skip delivered to the driveway.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Decluttering - Step 1

The first step to decluttering the kitchen...... tidying up the cookbook shelf.

I received the Good Housekeeping Basic Cookery book as a school prize.... for Progress.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Rabbie Burns Night 2009

Welcome to the 15th Annual Rabbie Burns Night Dinner hosted by the local Presbyterian Church, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland's favourite poet!

We spent a whole day giggling laughing gossiping working hard in the church kitchen, peeling, cooking and preparing 70lbs of potatoes and about 25 large turnips. This makes mashed tatties and champit neeps. With the addition of coleslaw, green peas, roast beef with horseradish, haggis and gravy, this is enough to feed 160 hungry Scotophiles. Here are some of the hardworking kitchen help.... don't ask about the fingers....

.... and this is the resulting dinner. All this and entertainment too for only CDN$16?? What a bargain. Don't you wish you had bought a ticket?

Our expert gravy maestro makes two, yes TWO, kinds of gravy, one with onions (my favourite) and one without.
What's a roast beef dinner without gravy???

Besides, many people claim that it drowns enhances the taste of the haggis!

Everyone stands in respect for Rabbie Burns as the haggis is ceremonially piped in by the piper.
Strains of Scotland the Brave assail our ears.

The haggis is carried behind the piper on a silver tray, and traditionally follwed by glasses of Scotch for drinking the health of Rabbie Burns, even though Rabbie's been dead since 1796.
In this case, the Scotch is replaced by apple juice.... this is a church function. Don't tell Rabbie.
At this point in the procedings, it's time for the traditional "Address To A Haggis".

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!
Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost!
on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit!" 'hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thissle.
Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

It's all Greek to you? Desperate for a translation and/or explanation?
Click here.
After the dinner plates are cleared.... it's time for dessert. Help yourself to a piece of pie.... your choice.

The evening's entertainment includes music, poetry, song and dance, all with a decidedly Scottish flavour. Our Scottish Country Dance group demonstrated "Wisp of Thistle" a strathspey, and a reel, "Reel of the 51st Division".

The table centres depicted Scottish Dancing around the world......

... created by four ladies sitting round a kitchen table one winter afternoon not long ago, armed with paper and scissors and glue and tartan ribbon.... fuelled by homemade shortbread and cups of tea!

On 25th January, don't forget to wish everyone a Happy Rabbie Burns Day!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Longjohn weather!

This morning just before 8:00am in my sunroom at the back of the house. No sun. No heat. And it's even colder outside.

Positively balmy compared with the -24C we have endured for the past 2 nights.
At least it's warm indoors.

But 250,000 people in Toronto lost electricity for 24 hours during one of the coldest nights of the winter, and had to find other ways to keep warm. Thankfully the power has been restored now. But at the cost of more than just a few burst water pipes.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Four For Four

OK, so I copied the title!

Mad challenged all comers to a meme, which I don't usually do, but I thought, well, just this once, especially as it's -24C outside today and I won't be going out there with my camera.

If you want to play along, here's what to do.
1. Go to the 4th picture folder on your computer.
2. Post the 4th picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture.

I have to admit guilt.... I pilfered this from eBay quite a while ago. It's in a folder with other historical pics of the area where I grew up. Great for family history research!

This is a post card image of Watermouth Castle in 1903, situated halfway between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin in North Devon. I passed this building every day on the green double decker bus taking me to the Grammar School in Ilfracombe.
The building was designed by George Wightwick for the Basset family in the mid 19th-century and is not a true castle, but a large Victorian country house. It's no longer a private home, but has been opened to the public as a hotel and theme park since the 1990s.

Thanks Bob, for this modern picture.

If you want to add your own Four For Four post, be my guest, I'm not tagging anyone.

Monday, 12 January 2009

The NanaBlankie

It started out like this last February.

I never really did get any lessons on how to crochet between all the squares, so I made it up as I went along.

So now it's the official NanaBlankie, especially made for cuddling with grandchildren on the sofa while reading stories or watching movies.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Bye Bye Birdie

When I got home yesterday, I went to open the garage door, and something pink caught my eye. My heart skipped a beat. This lovely bird was laying on the snow.

At first glance I thought it was a cardinal, but there's no crest, and the beak isn't quite right, and the plumage is more pink than red.

I've never seen a bird this brightly coloured during the winter, such a contrast to the stark white of the snow.

Then early this morning, my big pine tree was alive with little pink birds, perhaps 30 or 40 of them, pecking away at the pine cones, and fluttering from branch to branch.
Then, at some secret signal only understood by the little pink birds, they all flew away in a pink cloud of wings.... I've been watching but they haven't returned.
What were they... and where did they come from?
Abe Lincoln has identified this bird is a Purple Finch. Thanks Abe!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Staying Safe

During the cold Canadian winter it's common to read about carbon monoxide leaks. This family escaped with their lives, many others are not so lucky.

My basement contains three natural gas fired pieces of equipment: the furnace, the water heater and a fireplace, and there's another gas fireplace on the main floor, so I bought two of these CO detectors, one for the basement and one for upstairs.

They plug into the wall, and contain a rechargeable backup battery in case of power failure. CO is colourless, tasteless, odorless and a silent killer, so I wanted to be sure.

Plus I installed new batteries in each of my smoke detectors on January 2, one on each floor. I do this every January.
I urge everyone to do the same. Don't wake up dead one morning!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Christmas Past...

Christmas 2008 and New Year's Eve are all a distant illusion now.
The decorations have been stowed back in the box in the basement, and the turkey bones have been simmered into soup. The torn wrapping paper has been recycled and we've all enjoyed Chevy Chase's antics in "Christmas Vacation" and Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" on the telly.

I love the excitement of Christmas and New Year, but I'm always glad when it's over and life can get back to a routine. But the memories of all the fun endure....

Friday, 2 January 2009


Tonight we're all getting together at YoungerSon's house.
On the menu : Tourtière.

A mixture of lean ground beef and lean ground pork cooked up with garlic, minced onions, black pepper, a dash of cognac (I used sherry owing to sad lack of cognac), and spices.... cloves, perhaps some cinnamon, some cardamon, celery salt, drain off any fat and add some breadcrumbs...

... and then pile the cooled meat filling (mmmmm so aromatic!) into a flaky pastry shell, cover with more pastry, decorate and brush generously with beaten egg.
Bake at 425F for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 350F for another 20 minutes, or until it looks and smells so delicious you can hardly wait for dinner time!

Then eat and enjoy!!!