Thursday 28 July 2016

A New Perennial

   I put this new plant in my garden this Spring and it has come on gangbusters. It's called "Bee Balm" and is supposed to attract bees, butterflies and other good insects to the garden. I plan to move it next Spring as it's in rather an unattractive spot and may be able to split it to give me a second plant.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

A Surfeit of Tennis

   I have been absent for the last few days as I have been busy volunteering at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at York University. As well as my six hour shifts I have had to battle traffic there and back with roadworks and traffic jams to contend with. It makes for a long day.

    It has been extremely hot but, thankfully, the ticket takers are in the shade. I tried to sit in the stadium to watch a match on Monday but only lasted 40 minutes! Now I am watching at home. Today was my first day off since Saturday and I am on every day from tomorrow until Sunday. I will try to post some photos after that.

    One good thing is we get at least one free meal each day we work so I haven't had to do much cooking this week - I am still eating leftovers from the weekend! I made a pot of soup this afternoon and stewed some plums for dessert and that will be my backup if I come home hungry.

Friday 22 July 2016

Yikes! It's Hot!!

Yes, you read it correctly - 40C or 104F was the high today and it's still 35C according to the local news. I have been hiding indoors all afternoon (went for a swim half an hour ago but only stayed out until I was dry - 5 minutes!

    I went to tennis really early and was on the court by 8:15 but it was already hot. I played three times with long rests in the air-conditioned lounge in between, and was home again by 11:00 a.m. I have to admit to not playing very hard - my main aim was to get each game finished quickly and get off the baking surface of the court as fast as possible. I think everyone else felt the same but there was a surprisingly big turnout with people continuing to arrive even as I left!

    A quick immersion in the pool when I got home helped to bring my body temperature down and I spent most of the afternoon either reading or watching the tennis from Washington D.C. How they play at such an intense level in this heat is beyond me.

   My favourite snack tonight - bruschetta with loads of garlic and parmesan cheese on my homemade baguette  - the tomato was the first one from my tomato plants - and I picked some rhubarb to make a crumble for dessert. I am having a light meal, probably involving mushrooms and eggs, as tomorrow is shopping day and I have things in the fridge to use up. The heat continues!

Thursday 21 July 2016

The Temperature Rises

   I only managed one hour on the tennis court this morning - just too hot! Susan and Paul beat Kathy and me 6-3 although there was some discussion as to the final score. I was just too hot to dispute it so left the court and hurried home for a swim.

    Back on the road by 10:30 to drop in to the Probus meeting where I only stayed long enough to deliver some books, pick up new ones and grab a coffee. Home to prepare lunch for Judy and the grandkids who were dropping by for lunch. They left around 1:00 p.m. and I have just been relaxing in the garden, reading and cooling off in the pool since then. Now I am watching some rather uninspiring tennis from Washington D.C. - no major players in this tournament.

    A light dinner is planned - probably some soup and leftover sandwiches from lunch. I may add a bit of salad just to make sure I get all my nutrients today!

Wednesday 20 July 2016

No Urgent Problems

    No news is good news - nothing of any import occurred which, after the last two weeks, is very welcome! Everything in my little universe is working (touch wood) nothing is hanging over my head or in need of my attention.

    They say problems occur in threes and I have had my three - pool leak, A/C problems and a broken garage door opener. The pool is only partially fixed but at least I am not losing water and the water is sparkly clean.

    Beautiful, sunny day and no humidity but I spent most of it indoors at the senior's centre. My fitness classes were interrupted because no one showed up in the morning to tend the coffee bar and I had to hustle to get coffee started. I was there until 2:30 when I decided "enough is enough" and counted the change and closed up shop. I have arranged to switch to mornings for the next few weeks and they will try to get someone for the afternoons which are not quite so busy. Several people are on holiday or at their cottage so Wednesday is not the only day with gaps in volunteer coverage.

    I got home in time to have a swim and relax in the garden, water the plants and finish my current book. Leftovers for dinner so I can relax for the rest of the evening!

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Tasty Dinner

     I made cauliflower fritters tonight and they turned out really well - only one fell apart as I was turning it. I had them with a small salmon fillet and a cob of corn so I am well fed and satisfied, mainly because the cauliflower was approaching its "best before" date and I turned it into something tasty and nourishing.

    There are only 4 ingredients, pre-cooked mashed cauliflower, an egg, grated cheese and panko crumbs. I added some Za'tar mix and pepper for a bit of spice. They were easy to form and fried up to a toasty brown in just minutes.

     It has been another gorgeous day and I was in the pool twice - once after tennis and again after filling the bins for garbage pickup tomorrow. I gave the bushes at the front border a haircut (they look so neat now!) so I had four full bins. I also managed to dig up some of the roots of the hedge which died last year. They have very stubbornly refused my efforts to remove them in the past but a bit of muscle today did the trick. Next year I will fill the border with some perennials - hosta or sedum which I already have and of which I can take cuttings next Spring.

   I got another couple of cherry tomatoes from the garden to have with my lunch today. The big tomatoes are turning orange but will still need another few days to ripen properly. Can't wait!

Monday 18 July 2016

Fresh Corn

    The farmer was at his usual spot on Birchmount today with his truck of fresh corn cobs and I bought 3 for $2. I will have one for dinner with more leftover chicken in a wrap with avocado and red pepper. I also found a recipe on Facebook for cauliflower fritters which I may or may not make tonight. It sounds easy - just mash cooked cauliflower and add panko crumbs, an egg and cheddar cheese. Then shape into fritters and fry until golden brown - tasty!

    I had great cards at Bridge today - made a small slam twice, though I was too chicken to bid that high. Pinkie was my partner and was not pleased that I stopped bidding too soon. I also had a big loss-bid 3NT and went down 2. Win some, lose some!

   Two swims today but the wind has come up so I think a cold front is heading our way. It's still in the 30's but I expect that will fall rapidly when the sun goes down. 

Sunday 17 July 2016

Homemade Bread

   The tomatoes are close to being ready to pick so I need some French Bread for bruschetta. So baking was on my plan for this afternoon and it turned out fine. I will keep the loaves in the freezer until the tomatoes ripen. It's one of my favourite snacks in the summer, the chopped tomatoes with herbs and garlic, topped with grated parmesan on the toasted bread slices.

    I had a pleasant game of tennis this morning under sunny skies, but Susan and I were on the losing side to the two Cathies. A swim on returning home was called for but since then it has been on the cool side. I watched the golf from Troon for a while but didn't wait to see who came out on top. I will find out in the Sports section of the paper tomorrow morning.

   Still eating yesterday's chicken - in a sandwich for lunch and again for dinner with some green beans. I feel as if I have overindulged on carbs today as I had a croissant stuffed with omelet for breakfast, so will have to be careful tomorrow.

Saturday 16 July 2016

Too Cool to Swim

   What a change in the weather! Only 16C this morning and, despite sunny spots, it never got much further than the low 20`s. I had my jacket on while shopping and I wasn`t the only one. It felt more like fall. Luckily I hadn`t opened all the windows last night so the house is still comfortably warm. It was good weather for gardening but I hope it warms up again..

Another border tidied - fragrant phlox, sedum and bleeding heart
    I had a busy afternoon after picking up the `Food and Drink` magazine at the LCBO. I found a great marinade for chicken (actually cooked the chicken in it, too) and a new recipe for sugar cookies. They turned out really well but I have stored them in the freezer so I`m not tempted to pig out on them.

Mine looked almost as good although I didn`t ice them.

Chicken breasts in the lime juice, yogurt and turmeric marinade.

Friday 15 July 2016

First Tomatoes

   I picked the first cherry tomatoes today to have with my lunch. There are several (still green) on the other plants so I should have a good crop this year. I hope they don't all ripen at the same time!

 I had an early start this morning - around 7:45 - as I was in charge of the board (and coffee and cake) at tennis this morning. It went quite well and I did manage one set. My rhubarb cake was popular - none left! The only bad note was the roadworks on Don Mills on the way home. It was down to one lane and moving rather slowly, so it was almost 1:00 p.m. before I got home, a long morning! I think I will take Leslie Street next time.

   Although the morning was mostly sunny and warm, the afternoon was cooler and overcast so I got some weeding done. Then a quick trip up to the mall to pick up library books and milk. I will do the rest of the grocery shopping tomorrow.

   I made my own tartar sauce to have with a piece of fish left over from yesterday, and wrapped it in a spinach wrap with half a roasted red pepper that was needing eaten up. It was a tasty combination. Now the fridge is really bare. Breakfast tomorrow will have to be a banana smoothie; lucky I picked up the milk!

One of the plants on my deck has finally flowered!

Thursday 14 July 2016

Finally Some Rain

    We had a violent thunderstorm over night but it didn't keep me awake despite flashes of lightning. I dozed off thinking how badly the grass and garden needed rain. Another shower this morning around 7:30 so no tennis, although I took a walk over to the courts to see just how wet they were - definitely too wet to play. It was sprinkling as I walked over but that was the last of it.

    I spent the morning doing a few chores - the dust bunnies under my bed were the first to go - and intermittently watching the tennis from Hamburg. No big names playing but some interesting matches. Just before lunch I cut the back grass - it really didn't need much of a cut as it has largely gone dormant with the hot weather, but it does look neater now. I also pulled some weeds which had loosened up as a result of the rain.

   I had an early lunch (cauliflower soup and half an apple) and set off for my Zumba class on foot as it was still quite cool. It was quite a workout but I stayed for a coffee and cookies after. However, coming home all sweaty and tired, it was much warmer and by the time I got home I needed a rest. I was met at the door by the guy who was here to replace my gas meter (I wasn't expecting him today but knew it was to happen soon). He needed to get into the house to start up the furnace and water heater again. Immediately after he left I realized that he hadn't started up the pool heater, but he was just next door so came back to get that done.

My shiny new gas meter - free of charge from the gas company
    Finally I was able to take a nap (after a cooling swim) and felt quite refreshed after that. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and now it's time to fix fried fish and peas for dinner.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

The Heat Continues

   A scorcher today, 35C at one point this afternoon. I spent most of the day at the senior's centre which is nicely air conditioned, but even the short drive home had me sweating so it was straight into the pool (which, incidentally, is 82F). Since then I have been entrenched indoors, enjoying the cool.

    I had an innovative dinner last night - left over chicken, roasted red peppers and half an avocado in a spinach wrap - super easy and delicious. Some mayo spread on the wrap kept it quite moist and juicy. Tonight I made a dip with the rest of the avocado and some salsa and will grill a salmon fillet and fry some mushrooms later. That should be tasty. I also have to make cauliflower soup for tomorrow's lunch but that shouldn't take too long. Today my lunch was just half an apple and some sliced cucumber and red pepper.  Of course, being behind the counter at the coffee bar gave me free access to coffee and cookies and I have to admit I did indulge!

Monday 11 July 2016

Not Much Excitement

   Very pleasant today. I think it got up to 28C this afternoon with a nice breeze. I walked to my Bridge game at the senior's centre, about 20 minutes there and back (4,000 steps total). Diane brought a plum kuchen (cake) which we had in our coffee break - delicious! I had two great hands, one a small slam and one where I got 11 tricks, so it was a highly successful afternoon for me.

    The rest of the day was spent by the pool, reading, followed by a dip. I didn't sit out too long after my swim but watered the garden before coming in.

  Nothing much on TV tonight but I am at the denoument of my book so may just finish it after dinner. Chicken legs in the oven, corn on the cob and some broccoli ready to go and I opened a bottle of red wine to go with it, just for a bit of an indulgence.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Catching Up on Chores

   I had my favourite breakfast this morning, a veggie omelet in a croissant with some coffee.  I very rarely have a cooked breakfast so this is somewhat of a treat which I indulge in once a week, and Saturday is the one day I'm not rushing out somewhere. In fact, I rarely make coffee in the morning any more as it is usually on tap at the tennis club or the senior's centre.  

   A quiet day at home today - just a quick run to the store to stock up on fruit and vegetables. Of course I forgot to buy a cucumber but got a cauliflower   (slightly spoiled but good for soup) for $1.97.  I used my PC Points so my bill was only $5 and change. I love getting free stuff!

   I went shopping in between tennis matches from Wimbledon - a good women's final, then men's doubles followed by a very exciting women's doubles match. It is amazing how fast their hands are, our games are like slow motion in comparison. Serena won the singles and she and her sister won the doubles. Other than that I have just been watering the plants, reading and relaxing.

   Salmon for dinner with some kale from the garden. I think I will cook it like spinach with garlic and parmesan on top. Also some potato salad from the freezer. No dessert as I have been nibbling on Brazil nuts all afternoon - they were on special at the bulk food store today.

My current book - quite a tense murder mystery.

Lavender, sweet peas and echinicia  all in bloom at the same time.

Friday 8 July 2016

Summertime and the Living is Easy

    Not quite so hot today - overcast this morning and some rain sprinkles while we were playing tennis, but cleared this afternoon. Now 28C and my A/C is finally (I hope!) fixed. It is purring away as I type and keeping the house at a very comfortable 24C. The repair guys were here for three hours this afternoon and, although they were perfectly pleasant and hard working, I hope that's the last I see of them for the rest of the summer! It has been a two-week marathon diagnosing and repairing the fault.

   A bit of gardening followed by a dip in the pool were the extent of my activities today. I spent most of the time watching the men's semi-finals at Wimbledon. I have no clear favourite for the final on Sunday as it's going to be a Canadian versus a Scot. I think I will be rooting for the Canadian.

   "Outlander" tonight so I must get on with dinner so that everything is tidied away by 9:00 p.m. I am having tuna tikka masala (from a can) and broccoli tonight as the fridge is almost bare - my cue to give it a clean before I go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Relaxing By the Pool

     I finally got the grandkids to sit still long enough for a photo. They had just spent an energetic hour in the pool and were ready for lunch. Elliot is at camp this week so it was just the two younger ones. It was 35C in the shade today but it is supposed to be cooler tomorrow. My A/C is still not fixed - the guys brought the wrong part!

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Another Steamy Day

34C was the high today but the house is still quite comfortable and it has clouded over so may cool down tonight. The A/C guys are scheduled to come first thing tomorrow.

    I had to skip fitness class this morning as I had to get a cyst removed and although the actual procedure only took ten minutes, I was at the clinic for almost two hours! I also missed Milos Raonic making it into the semi finals at Wimbledon. I caught the last couple of games and he did better than Monday's match, only dropping one set . Hopefully I will get to see him play on Friday.

    It was quite busy at the coffee bar this afternoon and I had to make multiple pots of coffee. All the summer classes started this week but I may also have to miss Zumba Gold tomorrow afternoon if the A/C guys are still here.

   Last day of leftover sausages which I will have with a broccoli casserole tonight, no carbs. I am finding it quite easy to skip potatoes and bread although I did have a small piece of toast with my morning coffee. That hardly counts!


Tuesday 5 July 2016

Quite a Heatwave

   It is very hot again here - 31C I believe was the high today- and my A/C is still not fixed. The broken part was delivered in a huge box yesterday and a crew will be here to replace it on Thursday. Meanwhile I am trying to stay as cool as possible. The house interior is currently 24C and will probably rise a few more degrees before the sun goes down and I can open the windows. Sleeping may be difficult tonight and tomorrow night!

   I had a nice refreshing swim when I got home from tennis this morning and another after sorting out the garden refuse for tomorrow's pickup. I only played two sets of tennis today. The second set was quite strenuous - Yoshi and me against Debbie and William. We started out badly but came back to equalize, 4-4. My legs were quite wobbly when I got off the court so I finished my coffee and cake (a delicious apricot sponge brought by Maria) and departed for home, leaving the others to sweat in the sun!

   Nothing special for dinner tonight - sausages from last Friday's barbecue and a corn cob, but I have been overeating for the last few days and need a break from meat-heavy meals - perhaps fish should be on the menu tomorrow.

Sunday 3 July 2016

An Elegant Bloom

    Sometimes I stick things in the garden and hope for the best. This is one that really worked out - an Easter lily that has continued flowering each summer for several years. It is not only beautiful but very fragrant - a joy to behold!

Unfortunately it only produces one bloom but it and its perfume lasts for a week.

Saturday 2 July 2016

Canada Day

   There were big plans for Canada Day on Friday but the weather interfered. I had planned to go to the social at the tennis club but woke up to quite heavy rain. I pottered around tidying the house for my dinner guests, setting the table, vacuuming, and putting the ribs on in the slow cooker. By 10:00 a.m., even though it was still raining slightly, I decided to head over to the tennis courts. At least there would be coffee and Timbits and, possibly, some others there to watch Wimbledon on TV.

   There were quite a few at the courts and a good match on TV. By the time I had finished my coffee the rain had stopped and we had the courts dry by 11:00. We played until 12:30 when lunch was ready - chicken souvlaki, green and potato salads - and delicious strawberry desserts.

   Then home to switch on the pool heater, stir the crock pot and have a nap. Unfortnately, with the skies clearing came a change in the wind and a drop in temperature so no chance of having a swim. Steve and Alison arrived around 4:00 p.m. and the Athertons by 4:30. It was even too chilly to sit or eat outside (although Elliot did try!) so we had nibbles around the coffee table.

    Judy (and James) helped with the barbecuing and we had dinner around the table, even though it was only set for the food. We ladies retired to the kitchen table and ate in peace while the guys ate with the kids, My strawberry rhubarb pie went down a treat along with two kinds of ice cream, blueberries and cupcakes. There was no pie left but I will have strawberries and ice cream tonight!

    I am still eating the leftovers for dinner tonight. It has remained cool and the big event today was that the technician from Enercare finally figured out what is wrong with my A/C. It needs a new part which will come in a day or two and then it will finally be fixed (I hope!) Luckily it is not going to be too hot for the next few days.