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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Rain and More Rain

   They say, "April showers bring May flowers", and we have had plenty of the former today. The back yard is just one giant puddle due to the fact that the downspout from the roof runs directly into it. I really need to get a rain barrel. Trees still bare but there are big velvety buds on the Mountain Ash, so leaves should appear soon. Even the Forsythia is still bare.

   Since I was stuck inside I tackled an indoor job, removing some ceiling tiles in the basement so the vent for the air conditioner can be installed on Thursday. I got two down but the third is a two person job so I will have to leave it to the installers. They suggested I do it myself in case they damage the tiles but, what the heck, it's not like they are irreplaceable! I also removed the insulation which was a much easier job.

   Rain finally stopped around 4:00 p.m. and I walked down to the mailbox to post my tax return. I owe money as usual which is why I waited until the last moment, but it is on its way and the money will be out of my account before I know it. That is one of my least favourite jobs; I am always glad when it is done.

   Off to fix dinner. Tonight it's a fish pie (of sorts, more like Shepherd's pie with a potato crust) and a broccoli casserole. I scored a huge piece of Parmigiano Reggiano at Longo's last week which had been incorrectly priced - entered as cream cheese so was half the price (is that dishonest?), so I have been putting it on everything!

  

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Weeknd

   A rather late rise today as I had been out late to the RSCDS AGM and Dance last night.  We didn't get to do much dancing as the meeting went on rather long -  a contentious motion to raise the membership fee led to a rather heated discussion. Result was the motion did not pass and the fee remains the same.

   Today I managed to get to the tennis courts by 9:30 and hit with Stewart and Ron for about an hour. It was sunny but a little on the cool side so only 7 people showed up. It won't be long until the courts are filled by 9:00 a.m. and I will have to get my skates on to be over there in time for a spot!

     A little bit of gardening this afternoon and a walk down to the drug store. Checked my blood pressure - in the "normal" range, so no worries there. Now it's time to relax with a snack and aperitif before fixing dinner. It's pork ribs tonight, presently braising in the oven, then I will finish them on the BBQ, basted with a tasty sauce. Garlic potatoes and broccoli on the side. That should keep me going until tomorrow's breakfast. I hope James is well enough to come as we have such fun together. I will really miss him in September when he starts school! 

Friday, 25 April 2014

A Day At Home

    James is sick today so has been kept home. I filled the day with a trip to the library -  I had books to return and found a couple more that look interesting. After I got home and fixed coffee and toast (using some of last year's rhubarb jam) I spent the rest of the morning working on my tax return. That is now completed and ready to put in the mail. However, since I owe money this year, it won't go in the mailbox until the last possible moment!

   The day started off looking reasonable enough but when I went out the wind was still very cold. Now it is raining lightly, good for the garden but rather gloomy. I have the fire on so things are toasty indoors. I am going out early tonight so will forego dinner in lieu of a light snack - I took some shrimp out of the freezer earlier so that, along with cheese and crackers, should suffice
Finally, something growing in the garden!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Hunting For Eggs

   Saturday was spent shopping and cleaning, and Sunday was cooking - specifically, stuffing a boned lamb leg. It sounded simple when I read the recipe but proved to be quite challenging. The first step was to marinate the meat, which I did 24 hours in advance, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary and olive oil. This made it very hard to handle. The stuffing was breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese, and I did finally manage to get it spread on the meat and tied into a reasonable facsimile of a lamb leg.
 
    The family arrived around 4 p.m. and the kids had fun hunting for little chocolate eggs around the house. They were very good about not stuffing themselves with chocolate and soon we were sitting down to the meal. Cauliflower soup (the bread I baked yesterday was a bit on the dry side), followed by the lamb leg, roast potatoes, gravy and a green bean casserole which Judy brought. Dessert and coffee followed - lemon cheesecake (Judy's best) with strawberries on top, and lemon meringue pie (Steve's signature pie). Not much left - we devoured almost everything!

   Bath time followed soon after and once the kids were in their pyjamas they settled right down to play quietly until it was time to leave. The dishwasher was filled and the counters cleared before everyone departed, leaving me with a beautiful Lily, a bottle of my favourite sherry, and a box of chocolates. Although I haven't opened the sherry yet, the chocolates are all gone!

   Since then the weather has been sunny but cool - a little warmer today. I got out on the tennis courts this morning, for the first time this year. I didn't play long - didn't want to overdo it - and there were just 3 of us. I should be able to work up to longer in a week or two.
The Easter Bunny Came!
 
The Hunt Begins!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter

   Yesterday was a holiday and, as the weather was less than obliging (cool and rainy), I stayed indoors and made an attempt to get the house in order for visitors on Sunday.

   Today was quite a different story - lovely blue sky and the temperature climbing - I couldn't wait to get outdoors. I had quite a few errands to run, mostly to do with tomorrow's meal, but I was home by 11:30 a.m. I whipped up a quick marinade for the lamb I will cook tomorrow, and got a loaf started in the bread machine using a sour dough starter I put together yesterday. Unfortunately, I must have omitted some of the liquid because the dough wouldn't come together. A quick fix (more warm water with some yeast added), some gentle kneading, then back in the machine to finish the cycle. Miraculously it has risen! Only on Easter could this happen. It is now in the oven and, hopefully, it will taste delicious.  
Risen and ready for the oven.


The finished product, ready to eat!


I saw the cutest little rabbits in the garden yesterday and managed to get a photo of them. They stayed for quite a while. nibbling at some moss growing among the raspberry canes. How they survive the winter is a mystery as the ground is completely frozen and snow-covered for months. But they look quite healthy and well fed. Maybe they are plundering my composter.
 


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

April (Snow) Showers

   We have had a few very unusual days, weatherwise, recently. Saturday and Sunday were beautifully warm and sunny. In fact Sunday reached 20C and I was finally able to discard all the winter clothing. Monday also was very warm, another record high, this time 21C, but extremely windy - almost gale force. While shopping I witnessed a light standard coming down in the plaza parking lot. Luckily no one was passing at the time so no serious damage. James and I went to the park but only stayed a few minutes as the wind was rattling the trees something fierce and blowing leaves and dust in all directions. The wise thing seemed to be to head for home which we did.

   Then, in the afternoon, we had a rain storm which lasted for an hour, battering against the windows. By the evening the temperature was dropping. It was 7C when I came home although the wind had subsided a bit. This morning we awoke to snow on the ground and the temperature has remained just below 0C all day. This had to be the day I had booked to get my "summer cut" so now I have short hair and a cold head!  All told the temperature dropped 21 degrees in about 18 hours so I am back to winter coat, boots and gloves. Too big an adjustment for the body to cope with!

   I am getting my furnace and air conditioning replaced in May and had the guys in today to check where it will go. Last summer the air conditioning was "on the blink" and it was quite unbearably hot on occasion. But, since it is located in the attic, it s very difficult to get at; in fact the technician told me that it would be well nigh impossible to get anyone to go up there to fix it. So now it will be part of the heating system, thus the need for a new furnace. There may have to be some reconfiguring of the vents so I will have to discuss it with Steve when he's over on the weekend, as he will have to help with the work. Hopefully, Dave will help too. I am looking forward to a big crowd (well, 9 of us) on Sunday for Easter dinner - roast lamb and all the fixings.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Crocuses

   Saw some crocuses while out on my walk today and when I got home, found I had a couple in my front border too. Also noticed someone has put up the nets at the tennis courts so it won't be long before we get a game going. Can't wait!

   I am making butter chicken for dinner today. The sauce, which has all sorts of interesting spices in it,  has to cook for a couple of hours then you blend it, add the chicken and cook until tender. Then serve it over rice. It's an easy meal and there should be lots of leftovers. It's supposed to be cooked in the slow cooker but, as I just make a half quantity, my pot is really too big so I just cook it in a casserole.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Elliot's Plunge

 The Landing
  Here are the photos from Elliot's big adventure at Brimacombe's "Puddle Jump" competition.  Well, he made it down the hill but not far into the "Puddle". Thankfully there were spotters on hand as he literally went in face first and did a somersault. But he was so proud of himself (after he regained his composure) that I'm sure he felt it was all justified. Plus he got a neat hat for participating. I wonder if he will attempt the jump next year.

   I went to quite a funny (hilarious, actually) movie yesterday - "The Grand Budapest Hotel" - with cameos featuring some big names. Ralph Fiennes had the main role and Jude Law, Adrian Brody, Jeff Goldblum and Tilda Swinton also appeared. It's worth a visit.

 Dried out and triumphant and having a well-deserved snack.



   We had another nice Spring day today. James and I were outdoors quite a bit,  at the park (our first visit of this year) after play group and again in the backyard in the afternoon. There was a bit of a cold wind but we didn't need gloves or hats. Although there is still quite a bit of snow lying in shaded areas, the majority of it has gone. The grass, seeing the light of day for the first time since early December, is looking very dead but it is amazing how quickly it recovers and starts to grow again. The ground is very soft and soggy so we really shouldn't be walking on it but I couldn't resist doing a bit of clean up as there is so much debris from the ice storm we had in December.