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Monday, 29 December 2014

Colder

   A lovely lunch at Judy and Dave's today - Yvonne was there, delivering Christmas presents so I got invited too. Lucky me!  We had butternut squash soup with wholegrain baguette slices, Pork Wellington, asparagus, green salad and potato salad, and a delicious crème brulee for dessert! And, of course, a glass of wine (just one as I still had to drive home). I am still stuffed so will only need a light supper later tonight. After lunch we played a trivia game but soon my head was nodding so I thought I'd better get home.

    The temperature is back to more seasonal levels, -1C was today's high. I saw a few snowflakes but nothing has accumulated so far. Dave has started a backyard rink at their house but it really hasn't been cold enough yet. He should be able to get things going over the next few days.

    After a short nap I spent the rest of the afternoon getting caught up with the weekend newspapers. Now I am about to get my fix of bridge with an online game; last night I was beaten badly by the computer but most nights I come out on top. Can't wait to get back to playing with real people! Some good shows on TV tonight so I should manage to stay awake until a reasonable time.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Two Recipes

   I found some blackberries at the store yesterday at a reasonable price  ($1.65 for a punnet) and will have then with my home made crème fraiche. It is so easy to make and, in my opinion, better than the real stuff which is quite high in fat. I use a small carton of low fat sour cream and a tablespoon of brown sugar, well mixed.

    Here's another recipe - my grandmother's recipe for stuffing. I used this to stuff the capon for the Christmas dinner but had a bread stuffing cooked separately for those that prefer it. But I did notice that both were popular. I had a little left over so mixed it with some sausage meat to stuff in the neck of the bird.. It was delicious too.

   8 ozs. oatmeal
   4 ozs beef suet
   1/2 onion, chopped
   1/2  tsp. salt and some freshly ground pepper
   milk to moisten

   After taking the stuffing out of the bird, fluff it and check it for seasoning (oatmeal does need quite a lot of salt) and add more if needed.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Lucy's Visit

     Lucy the dog arrived around noon yesterday. Steve and Alison were on their way up north for an overnight visit. Lucy didn't seem to object to being left and we had a pretty active afternoon, playing in the back yard and a walk to the park. She can spend an inordinate amount of time fetching a tennis ball and waiting for it to be thrown again.

    We had an early start to the day today with a trip outside at 5:00 a.m. However, after she had finished her business and come back in, I headed back to bed and got another couple of hours sleep before starting the day for real. That's actually a better performance than when the grandkids sleep over. More walks this afternoon and more action with the tennis ball! While in the back yard I did a bit of a clean up since it's still mild (up to 9C today and last week's snow pretty well all gone) and put a cover on my air conditioning unit. I would like to keep it looking new as long as possible The old one got very tatty looking before it was replaced.

   Now Lucy has departed (she was very glad to see Steve and Alison) and I can relax and start on the leftovers again. I have put half the leftover chicken in the freezer for another day and plan to start with the Taramasalata and a glass of White Zinfandel. I should be able to finish off the potatoes, gravy and green vegetables tonight and I gave Steve and Alison most of the plum pudding - there's just enough to have with some custard if I have room!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Back To Normal (almost)

     Just a day for sorting and tidying. The dishwasher is finally empty of all the pots and pans that had to be handwashed. A quick run (or rather fast walk) down to the drug store for milk this morning 
 - I knew they, at least, would be open, not sure about the supermarkets. Got the capon carcass in a pot and cooked up some soup - barley, lots of veg and spices, and, an interesting addition, a tsp. of vinegar. Supposedly it draws calcium out of the bones and into the soup - all the better for my bones!

   Steve and Alison arrived around noon with Lucy dog who is having a sleepover with me tonight. She is a delightful house guest, very low maintenance, except she is leaning on my arm, making it difficult to type. We went for a long walk just before lunch so she slept while I had a nap. I hope tonight is equally calm!


She loves her yellow tennis ball - we needed an indoor one and an outdoor one due to muddiness.

In her Christmas finery and eyeing the snacks on the table.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Time to Relax

    The meal is over, dishes all clean and put away, and the visitors off home. Lots of leftovers in the fridge and I shouldn't have to cook (other than heating things up) until next week.

    I had the bird (a capon) in the oven by 9:30 a.m. and everything else under control by 11:30 when the guests arrived. Following was a frantic opening of gifts (the grandkids) and some more genteel exchanges (the adults) accompanied by snacking on crackers, cheese and sausage. Soon the meal was ready - shrimp and smoked salmon, followed by capon, green beans, brussel sprouts, carrot and turnip mash. roast potatoes, two kinds of stuffing (probably a redundancy of carbs!) cranberry sauce (Judy's homemade), and gravy. It was quite tricky getting everything hot and served at the same time! It was only after we were finished that I realized I had forgotten the sausage stuffing in the neck of the bird. Well, I will eat it tomorrow.
Getting the bird ready for the oven. It was just under 9lbs.
 
A tranquil time around the tree.


   After a brief respite dessert arrived - fruit and crème fraiche, flambéed plum pudding, and mincemeat tarts. The little ones had to try everything (they have really sweet teeth) and Elliot had seconds of each. Coffee followed for the adults while the kids were excused to try out their gifts

   After a walk around the block with Lucy the dog, out  came the Christmas Trivia and that lasted as long as James's patience. Then the kids decorated gingerbread men while the adults had more coffee and the cookies came out. Surprisingly they disappeared pretty fast.

   Everyone departed around 5:00 p.m. and I have been sitting with my  feet up since. I did finish the kitchen cleanup; there's still  a bit of a tidy up needed but that will keep until tomorrow! 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve

    An early start today, on the road to Bayview Mall by 8:30 to pick up last minute groceries. As expected they didn't have everythng I wanted ( but I did get the bird for tomorrow) so there were three stops on the way home - the bank, Metro at Kennedy Commons (no smoked mackerel but I did get the rest of the groceries) and, while I was there anyway, a trip to Kitchen Stuff Plus for a new coffee press. I had a lucky event there; the guy in front of me in line had a 25% off coupon that he couldn't use and he gave it to me. Result - $4 off the coffee press!
 
   The rest of the morning was house cleaning (all done except the kitchen floor) and the afternoon was pre-preparing some of the food for tomorrow. I experimented with a stuffing recipe (sausage, celery and dried cranberries) and it turned out quite well although I think I was a bit heavy-handed with the spices. Also made a turnip and carrot mash which will heat up quickly. I decorated the mantelpiece and added some evergreens to the porch planter and wreath, so I think I am done! Luckily I have leftover lasagne for dinner.

Fireplace looking very festive.


Table set for 9.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Getting Close to the Big Day

    Two busy days - yesterday I spent the morning tidying the house and setting the table for Thursday's lunch. In the afternoon I took in a mediocre movie, "Interstellar", with Matthew McConachie. I had a free pass so it didn't cost me anything, thankfully. On the way home I stopped in at Adonis and got some tasty cheese, a gorgonzola and a piece of Shropshire Blue. I really shouldn't go there on an empty stomach! 

    Today I had a good two hours of tennis at Hendrina's condo with her, Lillian and Swan. We played three sets, changing partners each time but I was only on the winning side once. After lunch and a nap I went for a swim. Being the holidays there were lots of kids but they mostly kept out of the deep end so I was still able to swim lengths (actually breadths as they didn't have the lane markers up but I did 24 as they were considerably shorter). On the way home I stopped in at Walmart, looking for a new French Press coffee maker. I broke mine this morning carrying it to the table, so careless. However they didn't have one so I may have to stop in at Kitchen Stuff Plus, I know they have them. 

   I came home and made some shortbread to give to my neighbour - I knew I would cave and reciprocate the gift!  Then I made an artichoke and spinach lasagne which looks and smells delicious - can't wait to get tucked in!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Winter Solstice

      The shortest day has been and gone so now the daylight hours should be increasing. It's been my observation that there is no noticeable change until well into January but we can live in hope! It was quite pleasant today - above freezing with a bit of sun. I had a walk around the block before lunch as I have hardly been outdoors all week.

    I have started cleaning the house for my guests and today rearranged the dining area to accommodate my table with two leafs in. It should make getting around easier once everyone is seated and didn't require too much shuffling. Now that the grandkids are bigger, they require their own space at the table. Also Ariel (Alison's niece) is coming which brings us to 9. Plus there are so many dishes (the guests are providing the vegetables) that we need a big table. I will take photos before we start to eat.

    I went to Metro today to spend my Air Miles bonus - $10. I managed to spend much more than that but got smoked salmon and flavoured coffee at quite a reduction. So I am well started on the Christmas lunch menu. I just hope everything else is equally easy and non-pricey! I plan to pair the salmon with shrimp and (if I can find it) smoked mackerel, and some crusty brown bread. And, of course, lemon wedges - the grandkids love to suck on them until their mouths pucker!

   One of my neighbours came by with a small gift today, quite unexpectedly, as we don't normally exchange gifts. Now I have to decide if I should give a return gift or just accept it and see what happens next year. We had a brief chat at the door but, really, don't have much in common so I'm not sure why she decided to treat me. I will probably feel guilty if I don't get her something.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Last of the Christmas Purchases.

   I can put away my credit card as the only purchases I need to make now are the food items for the Christmas Day lunch. I bought the grandkids books this year as I am also buying items from the "Gifts For Hope" catalogue in their name. I usually do that for Judy and Steve and their spouses but I decided this year that the little ones get so many toys they won't miss one from me. They got to choose the item purchased in their name so everyone was happy with the decision.

   Bridge on Thursday was fun and I think my partner and I came out on top although we don't actually keep score. I had been to the golf clinic in the morning (the only person there) and went for a swim after bridge so it was a busy day. Friday was just a few errands then making some mincemeat pies in case anyone wants an alternative to plum pudding on Christmas day. Then I made a delicious pizza using my bread machine to make the dough. It had pesto, caramalized onions and mushrooms and a few anchovies under a covering of cheese and the crust rose up a treat. Yummy!

   Today I did a light grocery shop then made a gingercake from my mother's recipe. It is so easy, you just put butter, brown sugar, syrup and molasses in a pan to melt, add chopped preserved ginger and then the dry ingredients. So it's just one pan to clean and the tin it's baked in. I love it slathered with butter and it's also nice with a chunk of nippy cheese.

   A light dinner tonight as I had a big chunk of pizza for lunch along with butternut squash soup which I made earlier in the week. I have defrosted a basa fillet and will have it with sweet potato fries and peas - my go-to green vegetable when I can't be bothered cutting and chopping anything else. I will bread and fry the fish which is so quick and easy. There will be leftovers for tomorrow as the fillet is huge!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Festive Dinner

    Yesterday was my family's annual dinner at Swiss Chalet for their Festive Special - quarter chicken, stuffing cranberry sauce and a choice of salad, fries or a vegetable. This has been a mid-December tradition for a few years now and so far we haven't missed out on it.

    I had picked up the grandkids from school and spent an hour at my place before heading over to Swiss Chalet. They made some Christmas cards (lots of glitter in the process) and I left it a little late to tidy up and herd them into the car. But we got there just a little late and at least gave the other grown-ups (Steve and Alison, Dave and Judy) a chance to socialize and relax before the kids arrived.

    Everyone enjoyed their festive meals and all the plates were cleaned, even James. Steve opted for ribs and I understand they were pretty good too. We all got a little box of Lindt truffles and did some trading before departing for home.

    Today I wrote my local Christmas cards and got them in the mail. Then I bought ingredients for a Butternut Squash soup which I whipped up for lunch. I do like a hot soup on these dull rainy days. While it was cooking I put up the outdoor Christmas lights. Note to self: now that it's dark, check if any bulbs need replacing. Now the fire is on and I have finished off the cheese straws with a glass of wine. A salmon fillet is ready to be cooked for a quick and tasty dinner. Must fly!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Card Crafting

   I had a few errands to do this morning and, on my way home, stopped in at Home Depot. I have been on the lookout for an electric snow blower and they had just what I needed - and only six left! So I snapped one up and it is all ready in my garage for the next snow storm. Dave took my old gasoline machine last weekend but so far hasn't got it working. It sat unused in my garage for a couple of years as I found it too hard to start and too heavy to manoeuvre. That may be the reason it's on the blink.

    This afternoon I spent quite some time making Christmas cards, with mixed results. I am still having trouble getting a clean stamp, something I managed quite easily at the card-making class. I think the stamp and/or stamp pad I bought may be the reason but I will persevere. I now have enough cards for the local ones I will write and send off later this week and hope my friends will forgive their slightly sloppy appearance. After all, it's the thought that counts!

   Dining on leftovers tonight so it's an easy supper. I made some cheese straws this afternoon from leftover puff pastry and they turned out really well -almost all gone already!




















Sunday, 14 December 2014

Lots of Parties

   Friday's jury duty went quickly, no cases requiring our presence in the morning and we were released around noon. Seemingly one case was resolved with a plea bargain and the others weren't ready to come to court. I got home around two and went out right away to buy a small gift for our Friday night teacher, Wendy.

    Sheila arrived around 6:30 and we headed out for our party. We set things up then danced until 8:30 when we retired to the well-stocked tables for our party fare, really too much food but I was pretty hungry. We had a 50-50 draw which Ken won and lots of time to chat and socialize. After we had tidied up I had lots of food to take home, my contribution of sausage rolls and salmon sandwiches - usually there are no sausage rolls left but I will freeze them to bring out later.

   Saturday was the monthly dance - Family Night and there were lots of kids and some new dancers. We sold a lot of tickets for the 50-50-draw - the pot was $154 - and Pat won it, lucky girl! I got home around 11:00 p.m. but needed a hot bath to relax my muscles before heading to bed.

  Today I had a very late start, still in my p.j.'s at noon but after a late lunch and a nap, I settled down to writing my overseas Christmas cards. Then I had a walk down to the drug store for stamps (more expensive than the cards!) and they are now on their way. I am making a chicken pot pie for dinner tonight - shouldn't require any side dishes as there will be lots of vegetables in the pie and the puff pastry lid is all the carbs you need. Better get cracking!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A Day at Home

     Just a quick note before I head to bed for an early night. I have been shovelling snow all day and my driveway is only half done! Every time I went out I had to redo the portion that I had previously  cleared as the snow just kept coming down all day.
 
     Yesterday we were released around noon from the courts and were not required to go in today as there were no new cases. I have my fingers crossed that I manage to get through tomorrow without being selected - it would be highly inconvenient to be placed on a jury with just two weeks to go before the busy Christmas season.

    Still cold but it's supposed to warm up by the weekend, hopefully enough to get rid of all that snow. We have had around 10 cms. today and more expected to fall overnight.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Jury Duty

   It was an early start on Monday morning as I was required to be downtown at the courthouse by 8:30 a.m. I drove over to the subway station and parked there ($6! I won't do that again!!) then two subway rides got me there in plenty  of time. There were about 100 of us and we were divided into four panels and, after receiving copious instructions into what to expect this week, our panel was called to court to select a jury. The case was an "assault with a knife" and although my name was picked quite quickly, I was "challenged" by the prosecutor, so went back to the panel. No other calls that day and we were released just after 4:00 p.m.

   Last night was the year-end party at one of my dancing groups and it was lots of fun. We danced until 8:45 then ate and partied after. Sheila had organized the food and there were lots of nice treats. I had been starving when I got home at 5:00 and had some soup and a sandwich but I was still able to polish off quite a few treats!

   Back downtown again this morning but not as early so I left the car at home and took the bus. I was still quite early even though the bus took longer and the subway was quite a bit slower. Only one call again today and my name wasn't drawn so we were off again by 4:00. I just hope the rest of the week goes as easily. I spent the day reading, chatting and doing a puzzle. I would like to find 3 other people with whom to play bridge game but so far no luck.

    Leftover chicken for dinner tonight then an early night. Considering I have spent the day being completely inactive I am surprisingly tired. I guess it's not having an afternoon nap!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

My House of Fun

   It was fun and games at my house last night when the grandkids came for a sleep-over. Judy and Dave were hosting a dinner party ( or at least one course, I think it was a travelling dinner) and it made things easier for them to have the kids out of the way!

    The kids arrived around 4:00 p.m. and were go-go-go from then on. First off was getting the artificial tree out of its box in the basement and hauling it upstairs to the family room. Then came the lights and decorations. I basically left them to do it themselves and, under Elliot's guidance, they did a remarkable job. 

     Then we got out the Christmas cake that had been soaking in spirits for a couple of weeks. I had made some marzipan yesterday so rolling that out was Natalie's job. Meanwhile James had doused the top with honey and Elliot had prepared the icing. We got the layers on and put it in the fridge to firm up prior to decorating.

   Since I had company I had taken the opportunity to roast a chicken. Elliot accepted the challenge of carving the bird and did a decent job and proudly carried the meat to the table. With it we had roast potatoes and corn kernels. I was amazed by how much food the kids consumed but there is still lots left for a few more dinners next week.

    While the bird was cooking Elliot and James concocted a dessert. It turned into a sort of fruit sponge and Elliot wrote up the recipe. It went into the oven just as the chicken came out and was ready shortly after we had finished with the chicken course. It proved to be rather filling so we had small helpings. It took only a few minutes to decorate the Christmas cake and, as we had previously rinsed and dried the glace cherries and mixed fruit, it was easy to do. A few pecans added to the overall effect. I will keep half of it and they took the other half home today.

    They had brought a couple of DVD's to watch before bed so while they did that, I cleaned up the kitchen, quite a mammoth job! Then bath time, teeth brushed and into bed - not a sound from them, they were exhausted. I followed them shortly as I knew they would be up early. Before I knew it they were up and on the go again! It was still dark and I tried to ignore them but, as soon as the clock said 6:00, they were ready for breakfast. Pancakes, sausages, eggs, toast and a gallon of orange juice filled them up, in fact Elliot and Natalie had some cereal while they waited. At least they have good appetites. I was sorry and glad to see them go by 10:00 and headed back to bed for a couple of hours!

   

Friday, 5 December 2014

An Unusual Sighting

    I spotted some kind of hawk in my neighbour's tree early this morning - not close enough for a photo although I did try to snap it. It was still hanging around when I left for Fitness class but it soon flew off, probably in the hunt for a small rodent or squirrel - I hope it was successful. Yesterday I put out a couple of seed bells for the finches and sparrows who hang around my front porch and have been rewarded with their twittering whenever I walk out the door. The grey squirrels have been hanging around trying to reach the seeds but I give them short shrift if I catch them at it.

    The Gentle Fit class at the Senior's Centre is just my speed - not so much aerobically, but my muscles were aching and I had worked up a bit of a sweat by the end of the hour. Sad to say, this was the last class but I have registered (on the waitlist) for the Winter session which starts in January. I stayed to chat and have coffee with some of the other ladies and found we are almost neighbours. They told me of some other classes I could try to get into if this one remains full but I like this Centre as it is only a 5-minute drive from home.

   A quick dinner of leftovers tonight as I will be heading out around 6:30. It's not been quite so cold today and still no snow. Hope it lasts!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

A New Addiction

   Today was Bridge club and I learned that you can get bridge games on the computer. So that's how I frittered away an hour after coming home this afternoon! It is quite compulsive and will really help me with play of the hand. I was paired up with an imaginary partner and we came out on top playing against the computer. I can tell I will be spending a lot of time this way this winter!

   The ladies I play bridge with at the Senior's Centre taught me Gin Rummy today and we played that for the last half-hour. It's really easy and I will try to teach it to Elliot and Natalie when they are here on the weekend. I'm sure they could pick it up quickly. After Bridge/Rummy I went to the pool and did 16 laps - it was rather busy so I didn't attempt more but next week I might try to increase it. I followed this with a soak in the hot tub, as usual, and came home refreshed. I also hit 4 buckets of balls at the golf clinic this morning so certainly got some exercise today. In addition I spent some time sawing away at the dead bushes at the front of the house as the sun was out. The temperature was barely above freezing but I managed to work up a sweat in short order.

   I didn't cook the salmon last night - just had a bowl of my very filling Minestrone soup - so I will have it tonight. Luckily I bought quinoa this week at the bulk food store so that and green beans will be the side dish. My fridge seems rather bare this week so I will have a big shopping list on Saturday.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Staying Warm and Cosy

   Not much happening today.  I woke up to a chilly 2C and snowflakes drifting down but no accumulation on the ground. I lay and read in bed for a while so had a rather late start. Then a quick breakfast before getting a loaf of bread going in the bread machine. It turned out well. I have cut down the amount of yeast required in the recipe and am much happier with the results. While that was baking I got a pot of soup going - Giada's Winter Minestrone, without the beans. Its secret ingredient is a parmesan rind which I wanted to use up. So that cooked all morning.

    Made myself a delicious decaf latte around 10:30 then headed out to pick up a few groceries at Food Basics. Got a nice piece of salmon and some green beans for dinner. This afternoon I finished two books, "The Children Act" by Ian McEwen (excellent) and the last DS Wallender book by Henning Mankell " An Event in Autumn" - also good. I have nothing waiting for me at the library so had to delve into the bin of paperbacks destined for sale at the next RWTO lunch, but that's not until January so I will be finished well before then.

   Time to get dinner started and then just some light TV before heading back to bed - not much accomplished but managed to keep myself busy on a cold day!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Tennis and Bridge

   After a quiet day at home yesterday, it was all go,  go, go today. I started the day with a visit to Pusateri's to order the Christmas bird. I am getting a capon again as I've had enough turkey this year. I will pick it up on Christmas Eve and hope for a decent sized bird.

   Next, after grabbing a coffee at Chapters, I met up with Hendrina and Pat at Hendrina's condo to play tennis. She is just a bit north of Bayview Village Mall so it was sort of on the way. Swan was there too and we played for about an hour and a bit, before heading home. I had a quick lunch and made it over to the Senior's Centre for a bridge lesson by 1:30. I was at a table with quite experienced players and had to play most of the hands myself - lost the all! However, I did learn quite a bit about bidding and playing the hand. Eventually it will all make sense.

    Now I am cosily ensconced by the fire with a glass of wine and crackers, cheese and smoked oysters. I have some scallops defrosting and will cook them eventually but I'm in no hurry!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Last of November

    Just a short note tonight (a Downton Abbey preview is coming on TV in a couple of minutes!) to keep all my followers (whoever you are) up-to-date with my activities. Actually, today was a very quiet day - I didn't even get out at all except for half-an-hour digging up the dead hedge (almost gone, thankfully). It was very mild today - 11C - but dull and overcast. No rain though.
   
    Yesterday I had a late night babysitting the grandkids while Judy sand Dave were out for a special chef-directed meal with friends. They had to help prepare the meal and it took until midnight to cook and eat it! So I wasn't home until nearly 1:00 a.m. I slept until after 9:00 a.m. so I seemed to be behind with everything today. I had a long nap this afternoon which didn't help but certainly felt good. I am almost finished the P.D. James book and there are two more waiting for me at the library. Good times!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Kitchen Bridge

   No, we weren't playing in the kitchen but, I am told, this is the name given to our type of bridge - just bidding and playing the hand without worrying about conventions. We were playing at the community centre and seemingly there is quite a demand for tables so we were lucky to have a spot - and I was lucky to be invited! My partner and I lost most of the bidding wars but were successful on the hands we did get to play. I'm still a bit of a klutz but didn't make any horrendous errors.

    It's chilly outside so I have the fire on - not as cold as earlier this week when we had such strong winds. The power went off last night for about half-an-hour but there were areas of the city who lost power overnight. Not ideal circumstances in the winter as you also lose heat - the furnace needs electricity to run. 

    This morning I hit a few buckets of balls at the golf drop-in and after bridge I went for a swim. I managed 16 laps again but was fair gasping by the end. I think I will stay at that for the next while. Had a good soak in the hot tub afterwards.

   Chicken stew for dinner then my favourite shows on TV so my evening is set. I popped into "Michael's" ( a craft shop) yesterday and bought card paper, stamps and glitter to get started on making some Christmas cards. I just need to see if I can pop down to Judy's school tomorrow to use the paper cutter as I am hopeless at cutting a straight line!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Snow All gone

     Milder weather has arrived and the snow has almost all melted. Yesterday was a busy and tiring day so I have spent today relaxing and napping. Just a few chores, some grocery shopping (cashed in my PC Points so my grocery bill was only $5!), and reading. I am almost caught up on all the library books which arrived at the same time. Another mystery by Henning Mankell is on its way to the library and I will save it until my week on Jury Duty. It will be a great book to while away the time in the Jury room waiting to be called.

   Yesterday I was out of the house by 8:00 a.m. to attend a Scottish Country Dance workshop. It was held at Bishop Strachan school which is a great location although quite a trip downtown, for me, anyway. In between session (which were all excellent) there was tons of food - coffee and pastries in the morning, a delicious lunch of soup, wraps and sandwiches, and, during the break in the tea dance, more tea or coffee and a beautiful array of bars and cakes.

    By the time we finished around 5:30 my feet were aching but I was pleased that I had managed to last right through to the end. I'm sure I burned up quite a few calories, which is just as well as I certainly didn't restrain myself as far as the food was concerned. I even sneaked a couple of sandwiches to eat on the way home, and some bars for my dessert after dinner. There was lots of food left over so I'm sure they didn't miss what I took.

    Today I made a huge pot of winter minestrone from Giada's cookbook. It had pancetta, lots of vegetables, a can each of tomatoes and beans, and some spinach. The tastiest part was the addition of a parmesan rind which gave it a special flavour. It will last me almost all week for lunch. I love Italian food!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Winter is Definitely Here!

    Five centimetres of snow overnight and I was forced to get out the shovel and clear a spot for my car on the driveway. It was brilliant sun but quite a cold wind and I kept it up for 15 minutes or so while I waited for Marilyn to pick me up. She was taking me to a Probus meeting - an organization for retired professional and business people, hence Pro - Bus.

   I have added my name to the waiting list for the club and I can attend three meetings as a guest. The talk was very interesting although the title, "Canada and Sovereignty in the Arctic", sounded rather heavy. Fortunately, the presenter was knowledgeable and quite humourous, and had an excellent power point presentation with which to accompany his speech. I will certainly go again.

    After I got home I shovelled a bit more. The sun had dried up the part I shovelled earlier so all's good for tomorrow. The temperature is forecast to rise on the weekend so that should clear off the rest of the snow.

    Swimming this afternoon and I managed 16 laps although it was quite busy. After a few laps the pool cleared out somewhat and I managed to get into a rhythm and keep up my speed to the end. Quite an improvement.  Then into the hot tub for a relaxing soak. Good times. Dinner tonight is leftover fish and quinoa and I am quite hungry after all the fresh air and exercise. I might even reward myself with some dessert!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Milestone

   I'm very pleased to see I have had 4,000 views since I started my blog last year. At least I know some people are following my adventures. However, it would be nice to get the odd comment - don't be shy, let me know what you think of my musings!

   A fairly quiet day today as it continues cold and snowy. I sorted out some junk in the office closet because I needed the box it was in. Not sure why I hung onto all the stuff. Some of it I filed but most went in the circular file (as we used to call the garbage can when I was working).

   A quick trip to the library where I found in a magazine, and requested a copy of, Ina Garten's latest book "Barefoot in Paris". She has an apartment in the 7th arondissement which is the district I stayed in on my last visit to The City of Light. I'm sure there will be lots of interesting recipes and, I hope, tales of her visits there.

    A lazy afternoon reading. I am well into "Before I Go To Sleep" by S.J. Watson. It has been made into a movie and is in the cinemas at the moment but I am determined to read the book first this time. I did the opposite with "Gone Girl" and wished I hadn't.

   Fish on the menu tonight. Basa fillets breaded and fried with some leftover quinoa, an easy meal. No dessert but I might have a cookie with my tea later on.
  

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

First Snow

   It snowed pretty well all day yesterday and this morning I woke up to -9C (wind chill, -18C), a strong wind but sunny skies. Let's hope the sun melts some of the snow as I am very reluctant to start shovelling this early in the winter season.

   I had a burst of energy yesterday morning and got several household chores out of the way. I cleaned the oven, polished some of the glass tables in the family room and started preparing the room for its annual carpet shampoo. The cleaners are coming on Friday. I also managed to nail down the technician who checks and starts up my gas fire each fall. He is coming later today so I will be nice and toasty warm tonight!

I will need to brush off the windshield before I venture out today!
 
 -
View from my front porch this morning. Brrr!! It was chilly!

 
     Had a good lunch with RWTO - a nice salad followed by turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes (an over abundance of carbs but still delicious), peas and gravy. Strawberry cheesecake and coffee for dessert. It was the day to bring in Christmas presents and/or food for the charity we support so it was very busy. The Silent Auction raised a lot of money - people were very generous, really paying more than the items are worth. I brought in some preserves but they will be kept for the next luncheon.

   The guest speaker was a flower designer but, although interesting and knowledgeable, wasn't an ideal presentation for a room of 150 people. At our table we couldn't see what he was doing or hear his commentary as he declined to use the microphone. He auctioned off his creations (for a chance to pay for them) but I had to leave before that to pack up the books and get home by 3:00 p.m. for the "gas man". As it turned out, he didn't arrive until just after 5:00 but was done in 10 minutes and didn't charge me! Now it is warm and cosy in the family room and I don't have to heat the whole house.

   No need for much dinner tonight. I will just have some soup and a sandwich later.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Birthday Celebrations

   This is the time of year for birthday parties. Alison's birthday is Nov. 14th, Steve's is Nov. 18th and Natalie's is Nov. 21st. Natalie had a lovely time opening her presents early and will have another party for her friends (and more presents) next Saturday. Today we had a combined party at Judy's - a delicious brunch of  eggs, sausages and french toast drowned in maple syrup. There was also cake - a strawberry shortcake of unbelievable lightness and creaminess, and coffee. I was quite stuffed but, luckily, was able to work some of it off at a demo pool practice later in the afternoon.

    Dinner tonight is something light, probably quinoa with peas and a salmon fillet. The weather continues to be cold for November, around zero, with snowflakes floating down. They may amount to quite an accumulation by tomorrow morning but, hopefully, not enough to have to get the shovel out.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Another Plum Pudding

    The kids were here for a few hours yesterday and we made some more plum puddings in individual pots. They were really helpful and were thrilled to take home their very own plum puddings and some custard to top them off.

   A fairly quiet day today - after the morning chores I was out again hacking away at the dead hedge but it was a little too cool to stay out too long so there's still lots to do.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Snow!

    Yes, it was snowing this morning but nothing accumulated on the ground, thank goodness. I am really dreading when we have to start shovelling the white stuff!

   I went to the golf drop-in and hit a few buckets of balls - didn't seem to improve much but if I keep it up all winter, there should be some improvement by Spring. Then over to the senior's centre to buy a coffee and check out what's going on. Just the line dancers and the routine looked pretty basic so I don't think I will sign up for that next session. I took down the phone number of the volunteer who runs the coffee bar as they are looking for spares so I will put my name down to fill in occasionally.

   I had bought all the dried fruits for the Christmas plum pudding on Tuesday (Senior's discount day at the bulk food store) so I set about preparing it when I got home. It steamed all afternoon and is now wrapped up in foil to mature for the next few weeks until we need it on Dec. 25th. I had a few leftovers so when the kids are here tomorrow (another P.D. day) they will help me make a small one for them to take home.

   I went to the pool this afternoon and managed 16 laps but the last two were considerably slower than my usual (slow) speed. I think I will stick at that for a while. It wasn't quite as busy as usual so much more enjoyable.

   Dinner tonight is chicken drumsticks which I am going to bake in the oven coated in a yogurt and honey dip, then coated with breadcrumbs. I will make some fries and I think I have some green beans in the crisper which will round out the meal nicely. Big Bang Theory on TV tonight, then Doc Martin, then Inspector George Gently so my evening is set.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Back To Chilly Weather

     I managed to get the garden rubbish bins refilled for pick-up today (the truck made an early pick-up yesterday but I quickly got out with my saw, rake and clippers for another load) and there will be just one more pick-up this year. I am trying to get rid of the hedge by my front walk as it died last winter and has been a sorry spectacle all year. Some of the bushes are gone and will give me more space to shovel snow off the walk. I hope to get the rest out  before the snow arrives.

    Speaking of which, how the temperature dropped last night! After yesterday's beautiful, balmy weather, it was quite a shock to open the front door this morning. It only made it to 3C today and the wind was strong and bitterly cold. We are threatened with snow over the next few days - they already have lots out west and in the Maritimes so it is only a matter of time before it arrives here.

   A fun day today. I attended a card-making class sponsored by RWTO and came away not only with some new skills but also three beautiful cards which I made myself. I can't wait to get some of the supplies and get cracking on some Christmas cards. This afternoon I have been trying to finish "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell. It is finally beginning to make sense and hopefully by the end, all will become clear. It is quite a confusing (but fascinating) book.

  Going out tonight to an RSCDS meeting and wish I could just stay cosily at home. So I will have an early dinner of leftovers and hope the meeting doesn't drag on too long.
This cards is decorated with a stamp and watercolour paints. I am not at all artistic but it was very easy to achieve this effect.
 
This one had a blank inside to write your own message.
 
I added glitter to the trees to simulate snowflakes.
 
The interior message was also produced with a stamp. I will have to purchase something similar.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Indian Summer

    Beautiful day today, temperature in the 'teens, sunny skies. Quite Spring like except for the loads of leaves on the street and lawn. Did a little yard cleanup as tomorrow is garden refuse pick-up day. Tennis was cancelled (someone bailed on us) but I wasn't too disappointed as my hip is still painful. I did manage to dance last night but quit after the tea break, just as a precaution.

   Bridge class this afternoon but I didn't do too well. I have been reading up on the rules and conventions but am having trouble applying them when I have the cards in my hand. Luckily everyone is very tolerant of my poor play!

   

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Domesticity

   Baked a loaf today and it turned out perfectly. I have been fiddling with the yeast recently and I think I have finally got it right. It was a wholewheat and cracked wheat loaf and I will mostly use it for toast as it is a little heavy for sandwiches.

    I was out this afternoon at an RSCDS meeting and we were served snacks before heading home. I hadn't had much lunch so I nibbled quite a bit, so dinner will be later tonight. I am making a sausage and cabbage casserole from "The English Kitchen" blog - written by a transplanted American, no less! Not very healthy but last night I had salmon and quinoa with green beans so, on the whole, the weekend has been quite healthy.

   I had to miss dancing on Friday as my hip was quite painful but it is feeling considerably better today so I think I will be able to dance tomorrow night and should be fit for tennis on Tuesday. I haven't heard from Hendrina yet but hopefully she has been able to put together a foursome.
The bread machine did all the work!
 
The Hallowe'en house the kids decorated last week - looks yummy!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Golf Indoors

   The public courses are still open for another week at least but, with this miserable weather (rainy and cold today, only 9C), I have decided to try indoor golf. The local Rec. Centre has a drop-in clinic on Thursday mornings - free for seniors -  so I took myself over there today and got some tips on my drive and short game. Only three other guys there so we each got a personal lesson. After an hour of hitting I had had enough so headed home for coffee and a lemon cranberry scone. However, I will definitely go back next week as I already felt I was hitting better.

   Nothing going on yesterday, although I thought I had an appointment with my rheumatologist. However, it turns out it's next Wednesday. After that just a quick stop off at the library to pick up "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell. I have really got into it - can't put it down - as he writes intriguing time-shift stories that interlock with each other. He is the author of "Cloud Atlas" which had a similar theme.

   I went for a swim this afternoon and managed 14 lengths this time. I'm hoping to gradually increase this each week or so. I spent quite a long time in the hot tub as my hip was painful (all the bending over to pick up golf balls). It seems to be worse in the evenings when I am just sitting. Hope it clears up before dancing tomorrow night.

   I made a huge batch of butternut squash and parsnip soup yesterday and will be eating it for lunch for the next few days. The addition of the parsnip made for quite a new taste. The recipe I use has an apple and apple juice in it but I had no apples so the parsnip was a good substitute. Tonight for dinner it's liver and mushrooms with leftover broccoli casserole. Yum!!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Back on Standard Time

    The clocks went back an hour on Saturday night so now we have light when we wake up but it is dark by 5:00 p.m. I certainly prefer getting up to daylight in the morning but find it a bit depressing when it is dark so early in the evening.

   Although it has become much colder, Monday turned out to be a pretty nice day. I spent the morning on the golf course (got two pars but the rest of the round was pretty bad) and had my sweater off by half way round. The sun disappeared in the afternoon but by then I had managed to rake the leaves off the lawn and cut the grass for, hopefully, the last time this year. In the evening I took Marilyn with me to dancing and we had a great turnout and lots of interesting dances. She seemed to enjoy herself so hopefully she will return.

   Today was still mild but rainy. Indoor tennis in the morning for a couple of hours with Hendrina, Carol and Anna. The court is at Hendrina and Carol's complex, very nice and, best of all, free! I hope they invite me again. Then home for a quick lunch before heading over to the Senior's Centre for a Bridge lesson. I actually managed to win a couple of hands so was quite pleased with myself. The hardest part for me is the bidding and ending up in the correct contract. Right now I am just guessing as I haven't learned all the rules which seem to be  myriad.

   Basa fillets tonight and a broccoli casserole. I think I will also cook some apples in a pudding. This dreary weather makes me crave comfort food!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Cold Start to November

    Not much on the agenda today other than laundry and grocery shopping. I managed to rack up 1600 points today - only another 7000 to go before I get my free groceries. I love PC Points!

   We woke up to snow on the roofs this morning and it continued to snow until around noon. No accumulation on the ground, thank goodness. Now it is dull and overcast with 5C on the thermometer. I decided to forego any gardening today as it is just too chilly. But I am reading a good novel so the day has gone in quite quickly. It is "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, quite a suspenseful story although I saw the movie last week so I know how it ends. No suspense!

   Dinner tonight is liver and onions with mashed sweet potato. I'll probably add some sautéed mushrooms as well. Right now I am broiling a red pepper, which I will then allow to steam in a plastic bag before peeling. I really like it in a sandwich for lunch now that the tomatoes I brought in from the garden last month are almost gone. It has been nice to have fresh tomatoes for sandwiches and salads.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Bad News

     A letter arrived today from the Ministry of the Attorney General. I am requested (or "ordered") to appear at the Law courts on December 8th for Jury Duty! I can only hope I am not selected as it is a tedious chore, sitting waiting to be called for selection. The last time I had this onerous duty I read two Dan Brown novels before we were released.

   It has rained all day and been decidedly cold. Not a glimpse of sun all day. I have to go out this evening although I would rather stay at home, but I am on "tea duty" tonight. I would be very unpopular if I didn't show up.

    Going to have a quick dinner of leftovers soon. I've just eaten some chips and a whole avocado , mashed and topped with salsa and grated cheese so I am not starving. Then it's off to pick up Sue and Erich to take them with me to dancing. They will be happy not to have to take public transit on this miserable night!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Two Busy Days

   No tennis this morning. I had arranged to take the car in for its rust check, plus it was rather chilly, though sunny. This afternoon was the free swim at Agincourt Rec. Centre so I did my minimum, 12 lengths, then had a soak in the hot tub. I plan to make this a regular activity now that the weather is getting colder and will try to increase the number of lengths I do..

   Yesterday I went down to Dentonia Golf Course (a par 3 course). I have decided it is more my speed although it is a longer drive to get there and the course is very hilly. I felt much less tired after 18 holes there than I did after 9 holes at the longer regulation course. It was a little cool to start off with, even though the sun was shining, but by half way I had my sweater off. There are only a couple of more weeks before the courses close and the nets will probably be coming down this weekend at the tennis courts. The garden still requires some more work but soon that will also be over until Spring.

   Last night was Book Club but we were usurped from our usual spot at Chapters as they were inundated with new arrivals getting ready for the Christmas sales. We ended up in Starbucks but it was very noisy and not conducive to a friendly discussion of the book we had read for this month. Several people went away quite disgruntled. Lee is hoping to find a better location for next month as our group has grown quite large (15 there last night). Next month's book is "The Orphan Train" which I think I will have to buy as the library only has a few copies.

  I got my 'flu shot today while I was down at the drug store to renew a prescription. It's so easy to get it there instead of from the doctor - no need for an appointment, no waiting in a room full of sick people, just show up and bare your arm!

   Dinner tonight is kedgeree (a fish, rice and egg dish flavoured with curry). This afternoon I made some roasted tomato soup as I was experiencing a glut of ripe cherry tomatoes brought in from the garden. It is very tasty, flavoured with basil , garlic and balsamic vinegar. I'll have it for lunch tomorrow. Right now I am nibbling on some hummus made with the chick peas left over from the Tuscan chicken I made earlier this week. Making sure I use up everything in the fridge before it expires is always a challenge for me, but I manage to not throw out too much food. Yesterday I made a yummy dip from artichoke hearts (also left over from the Tuscan chicken), mayo and parmesan cheese. I had it with slices from a sour dough loaf that has been lingering in the freezer for quite some time.  

   "Big Bang Theory" is back to Thursday nights so my evening viewing is all set. Yaay!!!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A New Class

   It has rained on and off most of today but I didn't mind - I started my new winter activity today - bridge lessons! When I was at the Recreation Centre last week to vote in the Advance poll, I picked up a brochure advertising all the activities available for seniors. There are several drop-in activities but I discovered that free bridge lessons are offered on Tuesdays so I signed up for them and went there this morning. There are three classes, the first on bidding for beginners, the second on conventions (I skipped that as it was for more experienced players) and the third  was "Play of the Hand" where we actually got to deal hands, bid on them and play them out. I watched for the first part then got to play a couple of hands. It is coming back to me, but slowly (it's been at least 20 years since I last played) and a lot of the terms are new. It may take me a while to get up to speed but I have signed up for all the winter sessions.

   Yesterday the grandkids were here (a P.A. day in York region schools) and kept me hopping. James and I made soup for lunch (Elliot made the devilled eggs and Natalie helped with the sandwiches), they singlehandedly decorated a gingerbread Hallowe'en house, we planted crocus bulbs, visited the library, and spent an hour at the park. Luckily it was quite mild and I took along the tennis raquets. Elliot had fun hitting the balls over the fence although I told him the idea was to keep the ball in the blue court. He has quite good eye-hand coordination whereas Natalie had trouble connecting with the ball. James just chased the balls around the court. Even with all these activities we still had time left over so I let them use my computer for the last hour before Judy arrived to pick them up. After they left I had a nap!

    Dinner tonight is the leftover Tuscan chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. Just a matter of some chopping and reheating. Easy-peasy, just the way I like it!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Still Mild

   Friday was another brilliant day. I spent the morning on the golf course - at Tam O'Shanter which is 5 minutes from me. Rather a challenging course for my ability level so I just played 9 holes. However, I think I will  go back to the easy par 3 course I usually play even though it's a longer drive. But with the sun shining, 13C and the trees in all their glorious fall colours, it was an exceptional morning.

   That evening was the AGM for my local tennis club and as I am the designated note-taker, my presence was required. It started late and there were many long-winded arguments that I tried to document, but at last it was over and I now just have to type up the Minutes before I forget what my scribbled notes mean! I have until the Spring to do this but if I leave it too long it will be an arduous process.

   A quiet day today apart from the usual Saturday chores - laundry and grocery shopping. I was a bit late getting out and the store was crammed but eventually I was home, had a light lunch and headed for bed. Some rain this afternoon but my laundry was dry enough to bring indoors and is now folded and put away. An evening of TV awaits and there's a chicken casserole in the oven (my favourite, Tuscan chicken, thighs with chick peas, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. I also threw in the tiny eggplant from my garden, hope it tastes OK).  

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Brilliant Weather!

   I had made tentative plans to meet friends at the tennis courts this morning and we were in luck. The sun was shining, not much wind and reasonable temperatures. We played for an hour then I had to leave as I was heading out to the RTO craft sale and lunch.

   I got to Qssis around 11:15 and checked out the craft tables. I had been looking for the vendor that had marmalade last year but she wasn't there. Nothing else I was interested in but  I met up with two friends from the book club so we sat and chatted about our most recent book until it was time for lunch. Lunch started with a delicious carrot and pumpkin soup. Then roast pork (a bit dry) and vegetables; we were even offered seconds. I had another potato and some more asparagus. Dessert was apple pie and butterscotch ice cream followed by coffee, and once I had polished that off I was well and truly stuffed. All that for just $20!

     Since I was already near by, I went to Edwards Gardens for the Farmer's Market on the way home. I was looking for corn and a special cheese but neither were available. However, since I was already inside the garden centre I picked up some crocus bulbs which the kids and I will plant on Monday, if the weather cooperates. While there I spotted a bush just like the brightly coloured ones I have in my garden. They are Japanese Barberrys, planted by the previous owners. I was very pleased to find out their name. It was so warm and pleasant wandering around the grounds I was very loath to leave.

    Still stuffed from lunch so just going to have leftovers again for dinner.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Marmalade

   I had nothing planned for today other than the thought of a round of golf. But it really was too chilly so decided to give it a pass. However, I had a notion to make some marmalade as I had bought some oranges at Adonis yesterday. Squeezing and slicing the oranges (and one lemon) was quite a tedious chore but was made up for by the delicious aromas created once the sugar was added. From the three oranges I got three reasonable sized jars of marmalade which should set nicely as I used my candy thermometer to reach the "setting point".


So comforting to have home made preserves in the pantry!

 
   A little gardening this afternoon as it warmed up and the sun was out. The roses are protected for the winter and another border is cleaned up. Kathy and Cathy both contacted me regarding tennis tomorrow and we will give it a go. I just hope it's not too chilly.

   Still some ribs to eat up but I will cook some fresh vegetables, probably potatoes and broccoli.

   The news today has been full of an attack on the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. A bit too close for comfort! Tragically, a soldier has been killed and this comes on a recent killing of another soldier in Quebec. Both attacks appear to have been perpetrated by Jihadists.  It is very sad that conflicts in other parts of the world are now coming to our peaceful country. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Still Cold and Rainy

   It only got up to 9C today - it's too early in the year for these chilly temperatures! We have been promised a warmer few days soon but I'm not holding my breath.

   Lunch out today. It was the RWTO Craft show, lots of interesting tables but I didn't feel tempted to buy anything. Lunch was very good, Caesar salad, steak in a spicy pepper sauce, vegetables and a delicious chocolate dessert.

   Later in the afternoon, as it was still raining, I went to the movies. Also because Tuesday is bargain day - $6 tickets! I saw "The Judge" with Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. Both were excellent and the story was quite gripping. I must say I didn't notice the time passing and was quite disappointed and reluctant to leave when it ended.

   Just a light supper tonight. I stopped in at Adonis on the way home and picked up some treats which I had with a bowl of soup - a wholewheat baguette, some blue cheese and a smoked mackerel. Unfortunately the fish was terribly salty so I may not be able to eat it. Also it was full of bones. You win some and you lose some.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Putting the garden to bed

   Although the weather has been pretty dreary for the last few days, I have managed (in between rain showers) to get the last few garden chores done. Yesterday I planted the overwintering garlic cloves, nice and deep so the squirrels don't dig them up, turned off the outside tap and put away the hose and watering can. All the hanging baskets are indoors and we shall see which survive until Spring. The only task remaining is to cover the roses with compost. My compost bin is almost full and it will be good to dig out some of the finished compost to make room for the leaves which are already falling off the trees.

   Today I trimmed some evergreens but they should really be cut right down as they have outgrown their location, and then some! Not  a job I am keen to tackle right now. I would rather be indoors with a good book which is what I am currently doing. Dinner tonight is leftover ribs which I barbecued yesterday. They were delicious and there's enough for two more meals. No dessert tonight as I pigged out on chocolate cookies last night and went to bed feeling very guilty (and stuffed).

    I am very disappointed that the "Outlander" series is over. It seemed as if it had only just begun. I think there were only 5 or 6 episodes. Seemingly we have to wait until next April for the second season.
A colourful bush in my back yard.
 
As well as brilliant leaves it has lots of berries.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Getting Chilly

   A few glimpses of sun yesterday but, other than that, it has been dull and rainy for the past few days. Today is decidedly cooler but I have got all the outdoor plants inside in case of frost tonight. I dug up my huge poinsettia and have got it in the house. It will be interesting to see if it survives the transplant! It is now three years old.

   Yesterday was the end of tennis at Bellbury and it almost didn't happen as the day started out rainy. However, ever the optimists, we dried the courts with just a few sprinkles coming down and managed to start play by 9:45. There was only a small group so we played pretty continuously until about 11:15 when I left to meet Judy for lunch. The others stayed for an impromptu pot luck lunch, organized by Jasmine in her usually competent manner. I sneaked a devilled egg and a samosa before I left! I will see them all again next May.

   Judy is celebrating her birthday this weekend so I treated her to a lunch of sushi and teriyaki at a local Japanese place. I hadn't been there before and was quite happy with the meal - more than enough food (including miso soup and ice cream) and only $10 each. After all that food a small dinner of leftovers tided me over well enough and it's also leftovers (chicken and sweet potato) again tonight with the addition of a cauliflower and broccoli casserole which I have just in time rescued from the oven. I have had a very lazy day and am looking forward to some good TV tonight.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A Day At Home

   I had thought of golfing today but woke up to overcast skies and wet underfoot, so decided not to chance it. It drizzled on and off all morning and is still threatening a heavier downpour this evening. The temperature is still mild for mid October, 17C.

   I managed to keep busy - got a loaf in the bread machine first thing, finally vacuumed the family room (the carpet looks so much better, I had been thinking it needed cleaning but I may put that off for a while) and took my bike down to the drug store for a prescription refill in between rain showers.

    When I got back I made a huge pot of Winter Minestrone soup from Giada's cookbook. I used Swiss chard and parsley from the garden, beans and lots of vegetables but had no pancetta, a key ingredient in her recipe. It didn't seem to affect the taste - it was quite yummy. The secret ingredient was a rind of parmesan cheese which definitely rounded out the flavour. I had it for lunch with a toasted tomato and cheese croissant.

    Tonight I am braising a shoulder lamb chop in tomatoes left over from preparing the soup. I will also add the rest of the beans - that's the problem in cooking for one, everything comes in too large containers. So I have to organize meals around using everything up. I will also add some mushrooms later and have it with the rest of the quinoa I cooked earlier this week. Still have some of the almond apple cake to finish too!
  

Monday, 13 October 2014

Thanksgiving

   Lunch at Judy and Dave's today. All in attendance including Lucy the dog. Natalie is seriously attached to her and can't wait to dog-sit her sometime soon.

   First was roasted pumpkin soup, very delicious. Then came the turkey with stuffing, pumpkin risotto, two kinds of potatoes (roasted and cheesy), brussell sprouts with bacon, goat cheese salad, cranberry sauce and gravy. By the time I had sampled a little of everything I was seriously stuffed! And there was more, pumpkin pie and Judy's speciality, pumpkin cheesecake, with whipped cream optional. I managed to hold off on only having a small slice of cheesecake and no pie but it was hard.

    While we ate we went around the table sharing what we were thankful for. After we had  digested all the great food we took Lucy for a walk around the block, all except James who was on his bike and about half a mile ahead of us. Luckily Uncle Steve was up to the challenge of corralling him in, so he never quite got out of sight.

   Came home for a nap, after getting restocked with Girl Guide cookies - no more food for me today!
Table set ready for the meal.
 
Plates loaded and ready to eat.
 
Dishing out dessert - the cheesecake was the best ever (in my humble opinion.).

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Ho-Hum Days

     I'm trying to think back to my last entry - it's been a busy week. No golf this week but managed tennis on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. We had a little party on Friday at Bellbury as it was Magda's 80th birthday and Jasmine had brought in treats and a cake. It was lots of fun and some good tennis but next week is our last week before the nets come down. However, we should be playing at Bridlewood for a few more weeks, weather permitting. I am keeping gloves in my tennis bag just in case!

    I went to a movie on Tuesday afternoon - "My Old Lady" - it was quite good (Kevin Kline and Maggie Smith) but I got home too late to attend the Don Mills TC annual meeting. Oh, well, there's always next year!

   Just a day of chores today - laundry and shopping in the morning and a bit of gardening in the afternoon. I really need a rainy day to get caught up on the indoor chores. The carpets need vacuuming and it's time to get out the Windex for the glass tables, They are pretty disgusting!

    Salmon and quinoa for dinner tonight. I picked the last of the basil and mint today so will make a pesto to put on the salmon. Also found some Swiss Chard to have on the side. I will cook it like spinach. The next garden chore is to get some garlic in the ground before it freezes and some compost on the roses. It's supposed to get down to zero tonight but hopefully they will survive a little frost.

   
I have brought some of my planters indoors and have been rewarded with this beautiful bloom - probably the last of the year.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Some Domesticity

    Just made a batch of "Mediterranean Chutney". It has tomatoes, eggplant, garlic and zucchini as well as other spices and vegetables and is quite zingy. The day started out sunny but clouded over quite early and became very windy.

   This morning I attended a workshop on Parkinson's disease. It was sponsored by RTO and I signed up for it to find out if there were some indicators to follow so as to avoid the disease. Other than keeping active and eating sensibly, there was nothing else one can do to avoid it. It's almost purely genetic. However, treats were provided so the morning was not entirely wasted.

    I bought some winter hardy plants for my front porch planter on the way home, and got them installed before lunch. Now that the chutney is cooling in its jars I am going to make some cabbage rolls using the last of the Swiss Chard from the garden. The tomatoes and garlic in the chutney were also from the garden making it a cheap condiment. There are still lots of tomatoes on the vines and one lonely red pepper. I am just going out to pick some parsley for the cabbage rolls. My garden has given me lots of produce this year.

The last of the summer's bounty - lots of tomatoes, a red pepper, a tiny eggplant , and some Swiss Chard.

Fall colours on my front porch.