Sunday, 30 July 2017

Jammin' Again

Big juicy blueberries were on sale at the grocery store yesterday so I just had to buy some, and jam fever took over. Add some sugar, juice of a lemon and some pectin and I was jammin'. Yes, I admit it.... I am a serial jammer, I just can't help myself.

First clean the blueberries of stalks and leaves, and smoosh them to a pulp. I suppose you could put them in a blender for some super-smooshing like the commercial jam factories do, but I've never done that as I prefer some whole fruit in the jam. Lets be real!

Squeeze the lemon juice in (a real lemon is best, not that stuff in a bottle!) and add the pectin and bring to the boil, making sure you squish any large fruit against the side of the cooking pot. And then gently mix in the sugar..... a cup of sugar for every cup of fruit, and stir constantly for at least a couple of minutes with a wooden spoon when it comes to a hard boil that you can't stir down.

Take the pan off the heat, stir for 5 or 6 minutes to cool the jam (listen to music and stir in time to the beat to pass the time) and make sure the fruit doesn't all float to the top, then pour into hot jars and seal. The seals will POP as the jam cools. These 7 jars cost me approximately $18 for ingredients, not counting the cost of the electricity, so about $2.57 each, half the price of store jam, and 10 times better!

My runner beans have started to produce, and I picked the first beans yesterday. So exciting! I've never grown runners before. Lots of little baby beans are ready to grow so I'll have to water the plants faithfully every evening during this sunny weather, just to make sure!
Krisk Bean Slicer - Made in Australia
Come on bees.... come buzzing by and make me some more beans. I love these beans, they remind me of Sunday dinners as a child in England. And the humming birds love the red flowers too.

This is my magical bean slicer... the Krisk Bean Slicer - Made in Australia! It top'n'tails the beans with a sharp blade, then will slice the bean and take off the strings all in one easy action. Fabulous! Every kitchen needs one.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


....... intruder, trespasser, incomer, squatter, gate-crasher, uninvited guest, unwanted visitor, an invasive species has reared its head in my hanging flower basket.

But you have to give those dandelions points for perseverance!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Juried Art Show 2017

The local Art Gallery holds a Juried Art Show each year in the spring, and artists all over Ontario are invited to submit their work. A panel of experts..... well, people who know about such things, I don't really know how they qualify as experts...... decide which works will be on display. It's only a small gallery so not everything will end up on the walls.
Here are just a few of the works that I really liked. But sadly I didn't note all of the titles or the names of the artists.

This was a depiction of Bingham Canyon Mine, Utah, the largest open pit copper mine in the world.

Life of the Ocean by Vicky Talwar. Acrylic and mixed media 36"x48"
Collage.... many printed images combined to make one large image.  I wish I had made a note of the artist.
Some more images to come.....

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Dirt Bike

What could be more fun for a nine year old boy than your very own dirt bike? And he lives on two acres of grass and trees, so there's plenty of room to ride it off-road without getting into too much trouble. But first, it's necessary to learn the rules of the trails and how to handle the bike safely, so off he went to Honda Junior Red Riders dirt bike school for some training and hands on experience.
 Junior Red Riders is a learning experience for ages 6 to 12. A day at dirt bike school teaches the fundamentals and the importance of safety gear, how to ride safely off-road and why it is important to respect the riding environment and conditions.
Safety gear is essential. The kids learn basic riding skills, acceleration, braking, balance, starting, stopping, some maintenance and some trouble shooting. He's hot and sweaty after a morning of instruction. And it looks like he had lots of fun.

Sunday, 16 July 2017


The last location on the garden tour was a small plot of land behind a bright blue country cottage. It was obvious that the owners are madly in love with their garden. It was a riot of flowers, shrubs, vegetables, mature trees, all accessed by flagstone walkways. A little pond with chubby goldfish. An enclosure for ducks and chickens. Even a busy beehive tucked away behind some shrubs by the back fence. Perhaps a harvest of honey and beeswax in the fall.

This wire trellis supports an arch of peas. Look closely and you'll see the maturing pea pods hanging. The little wooden bridge takes the path over the fishpond.
There was no wasted space in this tiny garden. Every piece of ground was put to good use, growing flowers, herbs or vegetables. And there were even plants for sale, but I have no room for more plants in my tiny front garden, although I'd love to have a garden like this. I'd be out in it every day, rain or shine.

This was my favourite garden of all the places on the tour. I loved the fact that it was so full of life and love of nature.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Sign of the Times

in other words.... don't be a litterbug.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Garden Again

Two of the gardens are owned by artists who have been featured on the local Artist Studio Tours.

This secluded garden and summer house are both decorated with the artist's creations of fabric garden art sculptures. Fairies, elves, gods and godesses, witches and wizards populate the flower beds and peep out from behind shrubs. They are made of all natural materials; cotton, bark, moss and wood. Most of these creations are no more than 18" high, but some are life size.

I didn't take a photo of the next garden, although I should have because it's so tiny and charming, or of the artist's studio which is in a late 1800s coach house where wagons and carriages were once built. However, this is her garden shed! I loved the colours.
And a village of little houses decorate the grounds, along with all sorts of whimsical objects scattered among the vegetables and flowers.
More to come.....

Sunday, 9 July 2017


Saturday dawned dull and grey with a threat of showers, but by noon the sun came out. A $20 ticket bought me a tour of 6 lovely gardens in the hamlet of Claremont, and a stop at the Claremont Masonic Hall for freshly baked scones, home made strawberry jam and a cuppa tea served in elegant bone china cups and saucers.
The gardens varied from grand and exquisitely manicured without a single blade of grass out of place, to small and humble and obviously a work of love.

This garden on a 2 acre lot featured a magnificent six tier waterfall and pond. Lots of mature trees, and at the top of the slope was a fire pit surrounded by comfy Muskoka chairs and a grassy labyrinth to walk around, which of course I did!

Across the road was an enormous house with a spectacular back garden. A large pool with a cabana surrounded by stone walkways, a flagstone outdoor living room, a pavilion, an outdoor bar with a huge flat screen TV (Blue Jays were playing!) and a fireplace with a roof, all beautifully landscaped..... everything you need to spend the summer outdoors, no need to go into the house at all! I didn't take any pictures, sorry, it was all a bit overwhelming and more like visiting an expensive resort and spa than somebody's private back yard. I prefer simpler living, but I certainly wouldn't say no to a swim in their beautiful pool! More gardens to come......

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


OK, Pelargonium is the fancy word for the plant generally known as a Geranium. A friend is the current president of the local Pelargonium Society and he can waffle on talk for hours about the various shapes, colours, scents and blossoms, but I know very little about them, other than they make a nice show of colour in the summer.
This bright scarlet red geranium came in a mixed hanging basket as a gift on Mother's Day. Most of the other flowers in the arrangement have finished now but the geraniums will keep blooming as long as I keep watering it. Or it rains.

This pink geranium was given to me as a small twig last September. I put it in water until it grew some roots, and then planted it in soil, talked to it nicely and sang it some encouraging geranium songs, gave it some nice nutritious plant food and now it's decorating my deck and covered with blooms and buds. The pink flowers are small, and never really open wide.

Citronella ... also known as Mosquito Plant Geranium. According to the internet, the mosquito plant geranium came about from taking specific genes of two other plants – Chinese citronella grass and African geranium. It gives off a lovely lemony scent when the leaves are brushed, and just look at those sweet little flowers. And I haven't seen many mosquitos buzzing around here recently.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Rhubarb and Beans

Living in a condo situation doesn't leave me much land for planting, but I make the best of it, although I'd love to have a big veggie garden. I planted two tiny baby rhubarbs at the end of May, and the constant rainy weather through May and June has really given them a good start. I tried to grow rhubarb last year but I planted it in a place that wasn't sunny enough and it failed. So perhaps I'll be making rhubarb pie next year, I hope so.

And another of my favourites is scarlet runner beans, often grown as a decorative red flower, but the young beans are delicious. Just top'n'tail them, cut off the strings, slice, and steam. The plants are climbing up the poles nicely, but the leaves look a bit dogeared, something is chewing on them. That's OK, as long as they leave the beans for me. I see the first red flower is starting.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Canada 150

Happy Canada Day! Canada is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation today. The British North America Act provided for the unification of the Canadian provinces and created the Dominion of Canada on 1 July 1867.

Lots of celebrations are going on all over the country, the biggest being a huge party on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Here in my town we celebrate with our annual Strawberry Festival. I'll be there in the park later today, so perhaps some photos tomorrow.