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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A Visit to the Dump

   We are not done with the rain yet and it continues to be unseasonably cool, only 17C today. I got to tennis around 9:15 and played a couple of sets. But I was just about to go on for a third set when the rain came down. It was quickly obvious that that was it for today so we all headed home. At least the grass is nice and green. The downside, however, is that it constantly needs cutting and the weeds are growing like crazy. Now I know what it's like in the UK where they have abundant rainy days! Luckily I had cut the back grass yesterday (and trimmed the edges) but will have to wait until tomorrow  to cut the rest.

   I have 5 books "in transit" at the library and one arrived today. So, since I am almost out of reading material, I hopped over to pick it up. Now I am all set for the next few days. I also got rid of my old back door which has been sitting at the kerb for almost a month. with no pickup. I managed to haul it into the back of my car and dropped it off at the local dump for which I was charged $10. The smell of the place is still lingering in my nostrils. It was pretty disgusting. At least the guys there took the door out of my car for me!

   More tennis from Wimbledon again today but one of the Canadians is out, losing in 2 sets to a qualifier, how ignominious as she was seeded 12th!

   I will warm up some leftover chicken with the kale casserole from a couple of days ago and cook a potato for dinner tonight. I haven't bought any green vegetables in ages as I have an abundance of lettuce and kale in the garden. But I did pick up a couple of red peppers and two avocado yesterday just for a change of flavours. I roasted one red pepper for my lunch sandwich, which I like to have in a croissant with cheese, toasted.

  

Monday, 29 June 2015

A Visit to the Doctor.

   I spent most of today watching tennis from Wimbledon. One of the Canadians is through to the second round, the others play tomorrow.

   I had to get some antibiotics from the doctor today as I have been bothered with an earache for a few days. Hope they start to work soon. It's "swimmer's ear" but I can't believe that swimming caused it as I practically never put my head under water. While I was at the doctor I asked him about my sore hip and he sent me for an X-ray. It would be nice to know the cause. Luckily it doesn't bother me on the tennis courts, just when I go on a long walk.so it's probably due to the repetitive motion. It was a nuisance when I was in Portugal as walking was my main way of getting around.

    I made a loaf in the bread machine this afternoon and had a slice with a chicken salad I put together. It had lettuce from the garden, half a pear, half an avocado, some red pepper and a few slices of cucumber. I made a tasty dressing and jazzed it up with a dab of spicy artichoke and asiago dip I had in the fridge. I cooked the chicken in the oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. Very tasty!

    No dessert tonight but later on I may have a scone or a slice of rhubarb bread with tea.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Rain Continues

   It is still raining! It stopped for a short time this afternoon and I sneaked out to pull some weeds but that didn't last long. Everything was very wet and, although the weeds came out easily, I was soon wrist deep in dirt. So the rest will have to wait until everything dries out a bit.

    I made some scones this afternoon with a new recipe and I think I will stick with it as they turned out well. The recipe called for buttermilk but I had to substitute plain milk with some butter added. The scones were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle and delicious with some homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, my mid-afternoon treat!

   Still some chicken left for dinner but tonight I will make a kale casserole with lots of cheese to go with it. I picked the kale during a dry spell this afternoon. There's nothing like freshly picked fruit and vegetables. I think I will get a picking of raspberries tomorrow!

A rather soggy back yard!


Kale fresh from the garden.....

.....and scones (minus one) fresh from the oven.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Deterioration in the Weather

   Started the day watching the final of the Women's tennis tournament from Eastbourne. Very exciting and the newcomer won over the veteran. This is a lead up to Wimbledon which starts on Monday. A short trip to the grocery store - I didn't need much - then made some soup for lunch. There were still some sandwiches left from yesterday's lunch (I always make too many as the kids can be a bit unpredictable) so finished them off.

    It was a cool start to the day and has been raining since early this afternoon with the temperature continuing to drop. It's about 16C now which is unseasonably cool. Hope it dries up for tennis tomorrow and the rest of the week! Spent the afternoon reading a new book from the library - "One Plus One" by Jojo Moyes and now I am watching a couple of cooking shows, one from Spain and the other, the food of Mexico. The chef is making carnitas which is marinated and roasted pork on a taco smothered in guacamole. Looks juicy and delicious! I will be eating the leftover Tuscan chicken for dinner tonight. But first a glass of wine and tostitos and dip.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Visitors

   I was up bright and early this morning to turn on the pool heater as I was expecting the grandkids for the morning. They arrived around 8:30 and settled in with books, toys and exploring my basement (Natalie has converted one of the areas into a home away from home with all her special stuff ) while I watched a tennis match from the UK.

    Later we took a stroll down to Tim Horton's - a pleasant visit as they chose their treats with a minimum of fuss while I drank my coffee. Even James was quick with his choice - a Blue Jays doughnut!  On the way home we stopped at the park for a little while, played on the splash pad (James), climbed the "mountain" (Natalie and Elliot) and watched from a bench (me). It was a beautiful morning, sunny but with a fresh breeze.

    Home again and I got Elliot set up to clean the pool. He did a reasonable job of it and got right in the water after his hard work. The other two followed shortly after and stayed in for almost an hour. By then it was getting close to lunch time so I got them dried off and back into their clothes while I started on lunch, egg and salmon sandwiches and soup.

   Judy came to pick them up around 2:00 and since then I have been waiting for the furnace guy to come for my annual checkup. However, he has not appeared and I am afraid we may have been in the back yard when he called and didn't hear him. I guess I will have to reschedule.

   I made my favourite chicken dish for dinner tonight (and tomorrow night and probably Sunday too, if I'm not bored with it by then). I call it Tuscan chicken as it is from a book about Tuscany. The chicken gets cooked in a pot with artichokes, sun-dried tomato pieces and chickpeas. It calls for red wine but I used marsala which is a very tasty alternative. I overcooked it a bit (too busy playing bridge on the computer) but it was still good.
Looking good, James! Isn't he a cutie!!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Lunch Out

    Tennis first thing this morning but I didn't stay long - felt a bit wiped after an hour. We only had three on our court and took turns being on the single side.

    Met with the ladies from Probus for the RODEO lunch. It was held at Bluffer's Restaurant down by the lake, a very picturesque location and nice room. There were 15 of us and I had a seafood quiche with a lovely salad, also a glass of wine. So I am still not hungry but will have a small meal later.

    I came home for a nap and, unfortunately, slept until 4:45. I must have been bushed, or maybe it was the wine! I may have trouble sleeping tonight.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Last Night of Dancing

    Just a quick note as it is really late (for me) but it has been an eventful day so I thought I had better get it recorded.

   Thunder and lightning all through the night and torrential rain so I slept late. But one good side, the pool is filled again, saving my water bill! Despite the rain and soggy conditions, I left for tennis just slightly later than usual and found the traffic much lighter. The courts were dry thanks to a strong wind and sunny skies. It was tricky playing and terribly humid but I managed three sets and stayed until 11:15.

    I had a light lunch as I was due at Sheila's at 1:30 and she always feeds us. It was the Scarborough Dancers annual committee meeting where I have to produce the financial statement for the year. We had rather a large loss over the past year but it was accepted and approved. Some of our big expenses were one of - they won't occur again or at least not for another 10 years. So we have some time to build up our bank balance. We had quite an increase in members so that should help, if they continue to attend.

   Left there at 3:00 to pick up the grandkids for their last visit to "Dancing in the Park". We had fun fixing dinner together and preparing stewed rhubarb for dessert. iI went down really well. Then off to the park where they both did several dances with help from assorted other dancers. Home here by 8:15 and Judy was there to take them back to Markham. I wouldn't be surprised if James nodded off on the way home!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Routines

   This topic is borrowed from another blogger but her entry struck a chord as I like to think that, since retiring, I have been able to cast aside routine activities and let the days unfold as they may.

   Having said that, I do realize I am a creature of habit. I cook the same selection of meals, I do chores on specific days, and the week is governed by my set activities. And I grocery shop and do laundry on the same day each week.

    Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday start with a game of tennis (not in the winter, unfortunately). Wednesday is fitness class and, until I open my own pool, Thursday afternoon is Senior's swim at the community centre. Monday and Thursday I have a permanent bridge game organized though the participants vary, and the last Wednesday of the month is Book Club. The middle Thursday morning of the month is the Probus meeting (so no tennis that morning) and the following Thursday is RODEO (Retired Dames Eating Out) lunch. This week we are going to Bluffer's Restaurant down by the lake  which should be very pleasant. The middle Tuesday of the month is the RWTO lunch and on Tuesday also we have the Executive meetings but that only happens a few times a year. And, lastly, Monday evenings are Scottish Country dancing at Scarborough (September to May). 

    I have come to realize that my best friend is my pocket planner otherwise I would never keep all these activities straight. As it is, this week I overbooked myself as I had a meeting of the Scarborough Dancers committee planned for tomorrow afternoon then realized I had to scoot up to Markham to pick up Natalie and James. The other committee members obligingly agreed to start the meeting early so that I can be at the kids' school for 3:30.

    Tonight I am driving with Susan to Rexall Centre at York University for a meeting of the Ticket Takers (more on that later this month) and surprise!  Sandy is providing a "light dinner" ! So no cooking required tonight.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Another quiet day at home.

    A quiet day at home although I did run up to the store for milk just before lunch. However, I was quite busy - tennis for an hour this morning, made soup and roasted red peppers for my lunch sandwich. Then this afternoon I made a rhubarb loaf - it looks delicious, can't wait to try it - and cut the back grass. I also had a couple of swims as it was quite hot and sticky outdoors. Liver and onions for dinner tonight but I will pick some lettuce from the garden for a salad.

I have a busy week ahead - stay tuned!
Rhubarb bread - it has a lovely crunchy topping, secret ingredient, lemon zest.


Saturday, 20 June 2015

Recap of My Week

   I have been very remiss in not getting on here since Monday, so here's what's been going on.

   Tuesday: tennis in the morning - it was the Wimbledon brunch and there was a ton of food. I took sausage rolls and came home with some leftover sandwiches. A short nap then it was out again to the RWTO Strawberry Social in Markham. Luckily not too much food as I was still stuffed but everything had a strawberry theme. First we had a demonstration of crafts using strawberries - the cutest were mice with almond ears and liquorice whiskers and tails. Then "Farmer Mike" from Whittamore's Berry Farm told us about strawberry production, including the trials and tribulations. Finally there were door prizes and I came away with a punnet of strawberries. After leaving there I went to pick up the grandkids for "Dancing in the Park" but came away with only James as Natalie had a crisis and decided to stay home. James and I had a nice time together regardless, he danced three dances, and I got him home tired but happy by 8:45.

Wednesday: an at-home day as I was quite bushed after all the activity the day before. I got some chores done and a bit of gardening and had a couple of dips in the pool.

Thursday: Probus meeting in the morning (the speaker was from the Toronto Environmental Agency encouraging us to recycle) then straight to Bridge at the Senior's Centre. My partner was Sami and we had several heated discussions over my bidding. However, I played two hands and won them both handily so was quite pleased with myself.

Friday: tennis again and I was in charge of the board. It wasn't very busy and I got to play a couple of sets. Stopped at Panera Bread for my lunch as I had a coupon. It was a delicious but spicy Thai Chicken salad which did me two meals.

Today: usual Saturday chores and then watched the tennis from London and Germany. I am so pleased to get the tennis channel finally! Dinner tonight is grilled rainbow trout, quinoa and Kale from the garden which I will steam and add garlic and lemon. Still have some strawberries left so that will be dessert. Phew!!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Roses in my Garden

    I have had a couple of busy days, despite having an upset stomach (just the pills I have to take but very annoying).  Yesterday I came home from a demo at a church feeling quite queezy and didn't eat much supper. Unfortunately the pills I am taking are supposed to be taken with food so I can't just eat nothing. This morning I just had some yogurt and, later in the morning, a muffin and a cup of coffee. I was able to eat a proper lunch but still with some stomach pangs. Tonight I have cooked some chicken and potatoes as I had defrosted the chicken yesterday before going out. I will have to see if I can stomach it otherwise it will be dinner tomorrow.
 
     Off to bridge this afternoon for a couple of hours and then home to cut the grass. I also made a couple of dozen sausage rolls to take to tennis tomorrow. It's the Wimbledon Strawberries and Cream party although Wimbledon doesn't start for a week or so.


There are lots more to come on this bush.
      I took a tour around the garden this morning and found the first roses of the year in bloom. 

   BTW, the chicken was delicious - and no stomach pangs so far. I also have a jam turnover for dessert, made from the puff pastry left over from the sausage rolls. I think I will have it with some custard that has been lurking in the fridge since I made rhubarb fool for Natalie last week. I will have to come up with something interesting for dinner tomorrow as Natalie and James will be eating here before going to "Dancing in the Park". James is so excited!

Growing among the primroses.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

House For Sale (not mine)

   As well as my usual Saturday chores (laundry, grocery shopping) this afternoon I cleaned the pool and cut the back grass. This was sweat inducing work so I was in the pool for a cooling swim after both jobs and a well deserved nap to boot! Tomorrow I will have to cut the front grass as it is getting long too. I had lunch outside after my first swim and sat in the sun for quite a while to dry off. It was  very pleasant, one of the nicest days we've had so far.

   Early this evening I dropped in at an open house on my street to check out the asking price - $979,000! They may well get it as the house was immaculate and beautifully staged. However, another neighbour with a slightly smaller bungalow has their house listed for $589,000. Why the huge discrepancy, I wonder? One is probably over-priced and the other under-priced. It will be interesting to see what they actually go for.

    Fish, peas and sweet potato mash for dinner tonight and maybe just some yogurt for dessert. I boil the sweet potato cubes then mash them with a little butter and some sour cream and a dash of nutmeg, my secret ingredient! The fish is fried with a light batter - just a dusting of flour then dipped in egg. I bought a couple of humungous lemons today - they were priced individually, not by weight so I picked out the biggest I could find - so everything will get a spritz of lemon juice.

     Then Miss Marples on PBS; that should keep me entertained until bedtime.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Rain Again

   Friday is my usual day for tennis but, this morning, the sky was black and rain threatening, so I was undecided. Just before I left home the rain started but I had a backup plan. Gentle Fit is on Fridays at 9:00 so I headed over to the Senior's Centre. Unfortunately, the instructor had cancelled the class as she was going out of town and hadn't been able to find a substitute.

    By the time I got back on the road it was almost dry so I decided to  head down to the courts at Don Mills. As luck would have it, the rain hadn't arrived there so we were able to play on dry courts. There weren't too many people (14) there but enough for three good sets which was more than enough for me. Coffee was on tap and Nancy-Jean had brought some home baked cookies, so I was well satisfied.

    I was home by 12:00 and got some celery soup cooking for lunch. Then a lazy afternoon and some work on the computer (typing up the minutes from yesterday's meeting). More rain this afternoon - in fact quite a deluge - so no chance of any garden work. It should be dry over the weekend which is just as well as the grass needs cutting again! At least I won't have to fill up the pool for a while.

   Fish for dinner tonight. I think I will bread and fry it and serve it with French fries, baked in the toaster oven, and peas. I have a good book on the go, "The Lavender Garden" by Lucinda Riley. What's not to like about retirement!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Busy Day

   I was out of the house by 8:50 this morning and not back until around 3:00 p.m. A meeting this morning which dragged on until 11:45 (thankfully there was coffee and some yummy bran muffins) and then straight to the Senior's Centre for my usual Thursday bridge game. I had rather a queezy stomach this morning and only ate a banana and peanut butter for breakfast and another muffin (pinched on my way out of the meeting) and some dried fruit for lunch. However, I seem to be back to normal now and will have a proper dinner.

   When I got home at 3:00 I had a swim, washed my hair at the outdoors tap and sat in the sun for a while. Nothing much to do tonight and will be quite happy with a glass of wine and some crackers and cheese. I may eat later but nothing fancy.

   Here are some photos from the garden which is looking good after all the rain this week.
Bleeding hearts are still in bloom and the hosta is filling out well.

Red peonies by the pool. The pink ones will be out next week.
 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

In The Garden

   The garden is looking lovely at the moment with all the rain we have had recently. Long may it last! The peonies are just about to bloom and the wigelia bushes are full of deep red flowers. No flowers on my eggplant and red pepper plants yet but the tomatoes are coming on well. One sad note: my climbing rose, which I thought was recovering from the winter die off, is not producing any flowers - and it seems to have extra leaves, 7 instead of 5, on each shoot. I think it has "gone wild". So disappointing!

   Hot enough for a dip in the pool after gardening today. It's barely 70C but very refreshing when I get too sweaty. Keeping ahead of the weeds is hot work!

   Last exercise class today, so the last coffee chat with the ladies at the Senior's Centre. But I will still see them as it is my turn to man the coffee counter on Wednesdays while Maria is at her cottage for the summer. It's an easy job and probably will be quite quiet there as some of the classes don't run during the summer months. But at least it is air-conditioned.

   Natalie and I had fun at Dancing in the Park yesterday, only it was "Dancing in the Church". Although it was a nice evening the weather forecast called for thunderstorms so, rather than take a chance of a soaking, it was transferred indoors. Natalie did three dances, her favourite was The Dashing White Sergeant. I did a couple more as she was quite happy to sit and watch. Next week James will come with us. He was very upset that he didn't get to come this week, but it was for the best as it happened. He would have been hard to entertain at the church.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Finally Some Sun

.... but later in the day. I lay in bed this morning listening to a heavy downpour, telling myself there was no point in rising early as it was to be an indoor day. However, I finally rose shortly after 8:00 and had a leisurely breakfast of egg, toast and coffee, followed by a good thorough read of the newspaper.

   By 9:30 I was ready for some housework followed by a stint on the computer - I really only got it fired up to finish printing a couple of documents that had jammed up the printer yesterday but, while I waited for them, I dialled into Facebook and got involved with a couple of interesting sites. Finally quite around 11:30, went for a shower and got ready to go over to the Senior's Centre (still raining) for bridge. This will be a regular Monday afternoon pursuit as I am filling in for someone who has departed to spend the summer at their cottage. I had terrible cards and only played two hands, but was able to make the contract both times (barely!).

   The day has finely brightened up and looks hopeful for a dry morning for tennis tomorrow - fingers crossed! I may even get out for a bit of garden work before dinner tonight as I am eating leftovers so needn't bother with any fancy cooking. I made a stew in the crockpot yesterday and it is simmering away again as I type - it only gets better with further cooking. And there's some leftover rhubarb crumble calling my name.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Not More Rain!!

     Just had a read of a couple of blogs I follow - I sometimes need to be inspired by other people's efforts, to finally get around to writing mine. One I follow, an English woman who is making a new life for herself in Bulgaria, writes faithfully every day. In fact if she misses a day panic sets in with all her followers. I'm not nearly as conscientious so no one worries if I miss a day or two.

    I was thwarted in my garden clean-up this afternoon by a thunder storm. I was half way through cutting the back grass when the heavens opened and I had to rush to put away the lawnmower and my book which I had left on the sun lounger. It stopped later and I went out to finish but no sooner had the machine out again when the rain (and thunder) returned. Now I will have to wait until the grass is dry enough to cut by which time it will have probably grown another few inches. Grrr!!

    First stop this morning was to drop off a box of books at Variety Village. It's (sort of) on my way to Don Mills TC - just a slight detour. The books were leftover from the book sale table at the RWTO lunches and I am glad to see them go. They had been well and truly picked over. I also took a few over to the Senior's Centre as they sell them for a quarter to raise funds for the special days and lunches.

   There was a bit of rain on my way to tennis but it had stopped by the time I got to the club and the courts were dry. It got quite hot and humid by 10:00 so many people departed early. I hung on until just after 11:00 then went home to watch the tennis from Roland Garros in Paris. It was the Men's semi-finals but the last one had to stop after the third set because of darkness. I will be up early to watch the Ladies final tomorrow morning, Serena Williams against Lucie Safarova. Should be a tight match.

   I am making Mac 'n Cheese from a box for dinner tonight but will add extra cheese, peas and mashed sweet potato. I also plan to make a rhubarb crumble as the rhubarb is growing like gangbusters with all the rain we have had recently. Soon I will have to start picking the lettuce and kale as they are also growing with abandon. So I will be hunting for kale recipes. It's my first time growing it and it is already producing lots of leaves. No flowers on the red peppers or eggplant yet but I did find one small tomato starting to form. Good times ahead in the vegetable garden!

Kale ready to harvest.
Lettuce and basil coming along.
  



   

     

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Much Improved Weather

    No need to water the garden or fill up the pool as we had a ton of rain over the weekend. But finally, the skies cleared and it has been beautifully sunny for the last three days. The temperature is gradually rising and should be more seasonable by the weekend. 

   Judy, Natalie and James came over yesterday evening so that we could all go to "Dancing in the Park". We practiced a couple of easy dances and Natalie tried an easy strathspey as well. It was a lovely evening and the band was in good form. James joined in enthusiastically and vowed to come back next week. We shall see!

   I have got a good start on tidying up the garden as the borders are quite a bit more malleable after all the rain. I have pulled up a ton of weeds so my composter is well and truly filled. I even transplanted a small fir tree which had sprung up in an awkward spot. So it is now in a new location and, hopefully, will survive.

   I have a new contact for my Tribal Pages website - Rachel from New Zealand. I have added her to the site and am waiting to see if she adds more of her family and, even better, some photos. Our great-great-grandfathers were brothers. Rather a distant connection but one nevertheless. It is wonderful when, out of the blue, you get a contact like that.

   Not much on the agenda today - exercise class in the morning, chatting over coffee afterwards and then watching the French Open for a couple of hours. Made some soup and then back out in the garden until the heat got to me. Leftover kedgeree for dinner tonight with some of my homemade pickled beetroot. I don't think I will need any dessert.