Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Isobell is surveying the territory from one of the beams. Cats paradise here with all the things to climb up above. Maybe she`s seeing if Angus is anywhere waiting to tease her when she comes down.
Male cats seemed to be a lot like male boys. Even Teddy. They love to tease girls. Angus wanted to play with Isobell when she first arrived at her new home He sat on her and she didn`t like it. Now when he walks by, she slaps him in the face. It`s hilarious. She does it 3 or 4 times in lightening flash succession. You can hardly see her paw, it moves so fast. He just looks at her and carries on by. I wonder what he`s thinking at those moments?

I have really been slack with posting anything. Feeling zapped of energy lately and I usually feel like just flopping down on the couch after the few small chores after work. Lack of sunlight and nasty weather maybe. We`ve had about two sunny days this month and then, wam, back to the storms and snow and freezing rain and white sky. January was a record breaking warm month and February a record breaking cold one. What will March bring, I wonder. Very strange. I do hope Spring is able to push it`s way through and come when it`s supposed to. Who really can tell this year? The weather is really out of whack.

This weekend will be nice though. It`s my daughters birthday and we are going to Toronto and she`s coming the the British Show with us and then off to a nice Italian restaurant to celebrate her birthday and her new job within the company she already works for.
I`ll bring the camera.
"Fizz" from Coronation Street is going to be at the British Show. They have someone different every year. Also Prince William`s look-a-like. So that should be interesting. Hopefully we can see from wherever we`re standing. They have different things to look at and baked goods etc. We went a couple of years ago and saw "Eileen".

Off to check the spaghetti sauce and reeeeeeeeeelax :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ew, My Floor!

The ripping up of carpet and laying down of flooring has begun. That`s plywood you see underneath patched up to make it even. Part of the rug in the hall has been cut away, rolled up,tied and sent out to the garbage. To the right is the new floor. We`re laying it from the kitchen out to match up. A little more complicated, rather than starting at the front door like we were going to originally. More cutting small strips in this narrow area until we start the rest of the hall and attached front room. That should go a bit easier. This is going to be a slow process, done in bits and pieces when the time is available and although it`s much nicer to show a before and after picture...there`s no after picture for awhile yet. Bit by bit makes it easier to live in though. Not all bare and grubby at once. Elvis isn`t really sure what to think....

If I could guess, it would be " You are having some rug still, aren`t you Mum? Please."
And yes Elvis. The throw rugs are staying, so you`ll still have some nice soft spots to lie. That is when you`re not on the bed or your couch, you dear hairy monster.

Teddy looks as if he agrees. He couldn`t bare not having soft spots to lie.

Isobell is posing lately for some odd reason. She used to hate the camera. She wants to tell you about the new bit of green carpet under the animal dishes. I call it the slop carpet. It`s replacing another slop carpet. The water dish is the furthest back, so that when Elvis drinks and slops, it lands on the carpet instead of the floor, well most of it. Isn`t that plastic over the antique tablecloth glamorous? haha My couch isn`t covered in plastic. Honest. But there`s a big hairy back that rubs along there when he`s eating. Better the plastic than my nice cloth. Pets. Gotta love em to put up with the little extras that come along with them. But to me they`re worth it. I`ve grown up with animals and I couldn`t do without them. Luckily hubby is an animal lover. Hmmmmm, I might eventually end up staining those chairs and kitchen table. Or making those slip cover things. That would be less work. Even less would be to just paint them brown but I don`t think I`d like the end results of that.

I`ve been finding reading other`s blogs so interesting that I`m not paying much attention to mine lately. I think because I don`t have anything nice to show at the moment. So much to do and all you get is a picture of an ugly floor LOL So it`s been cyber travelling, reading a good book and watching decorating shows on BBC Canada and work of course and slow fixing up. Next I`ll have to decide which is more important to do after the floor, recovering the couch and chairs or buying a hall runner. One will have to wait until next fall most likely. Should I toss a coin? If I get the runner, the hall will be finished and we won`t hear Elvis`s toenails LOL. But if I get the fabric, the sitting area will be so much nicer.
Decisions, decisions.....
Going to an afternoon get-together tomorrow with some old girlfriends. A couple of them I haven`t seen for I bet... 25 years. Looking forward to it.
Have a great weekend everyone. And if you`ve got the mess of snow that we have here, be safe and may an angel be watching over you on those roads.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spiced Ground Beef in Wine and Baked Camembert

I found this yummy recipe at "Cherry`s English Kitchen" blog
Really quite good! And no, this isn`t going to turn into a food blog for reasons already seen and yet to be seen. She`s named it "Winter Rut Spag Bol That Tastes Even Better The Next Day".
Decided to give it a try last night. An unusual
and tasty combination of spices and herbs that I would never have
thought of combining. Just added a few extras to the pan as
well....salt and pepper and a small dollop of hehe. It probably didn`t need that because as it sits, the taste becomes richer. And I made
some Italian crusty bread to go with it rather than pasta. And a part
bottle of thePinot Noir. This is a nice wine. I`m not much of a wine drinker, but I like this type. I definately
need some napkins on that table and place mats. But alas, it`s easy to
just have a slap down dinner after a work day. This was just a bit more
extravagant for the week than usual though....

"Oh, yes please..."

Then I baked some Camembert in the oven. A gorgeous recipe below at bottom of post.

We had the cheese with these surprisingly good baguettes rather than as the recipe states.

As I reached over to sample the Camembert, I took in
the aroma of fresh bread and spices.....and knocked the wine glass over
right smack into the cheese :)

Luckily it all sponged off nicely with a paper towel and only one soggy wine soaked baguette. I seem to be on some sort of roll lately.......

Angus was busy elsewhere...

Baked Camembert with Garlic Ciabatta Toasts

Fingers of hot garlic toast dunked into melted parchment-baked cheese are great for sharing.

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
496kcals/30.1g fat/10.4g saturated fat/1.9g salt/1.9g sugars per serving

220g whole Lubborn Somerset Camembert
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ X 15g pack fresh thyme
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the garlic toasts
1 pack Loyd Grossman 4 Mini Ciabatta
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, cut in half
½ X 20g pack fresh flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt

the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Lay the cheese in the centre of a
30cm-square piece of baking parchment. Using the point of a sharp
knife, make lots of deep slits in the surface of the cheese. Place the
garlic slices, along with a little piece of thyme, into each slit.

the surface of the cheese with the tablespoon of oil and add a
scattering of coarsely ground black pepper. Gather the parchment up to
form a purse and tie with kitchen string. Bake for about 10 minutes
until the cheese is melted in the middle.

Meanwhile, make the fingers of toast. Preheat the grill to medium. Cut the mini ciabatta in half diagonally and then cut each piece in half lengthways
to make thin, elegant fingers. Toast the bread until golden. Drizzle
with olive oil and rub generously with the cut garlic clove. Scatter
lightly with the parsley, rubbing it into the bread so that it sticks.
Sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Remove the cheese from the oven and serve immediately in the paper. Use the garlic toasts as scoops.

Cook's tip
Other types of cheese with a rind, will also work well cooked in this way. Try Vacherin Mont d'Or.

This recipe was first published on in May 2006.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Square Foot Gardening and more Flooring...

We had a fun time at last night`s party and I collected some books I`d ordered the other day at the post office. One was called Square Foot Gardening. It`s the closest thing I`ve seen to my idea of squaring off sections of the veg garden with bricking, rather than doing typical rows.

Lots of good tips and info.Sorry about the dark picture.......

I also grabbed this while getting goroceries. Love Italian food and I`m not giving up yet on my culunary skills! Oh and I also bought two small tart tins hehe. And yes Sigrun, I am a fan of Jamie Oliver. His cooking isn`t the healthiest for watching that waistline, but he sure makes it look and sound good!

Picked up 19 more boxes of floor planking. One left over from the kitchen, so with 20 we should have enough for the hall and front room. Also some weather proof carpet for the front door area and back. The black backing is showing here, but it`s a mix of mottled browns in a fairly rich shade for a utility carpet. It will look better than the usual flat and dull dirty beigey brown ones there were to choose from. Wanted something that didn`t shout too loudly that it was there. A mud porch would be the perfect thing to have, but this is the best solution we can come up with. We`ve moved over the long low bookcase at the front door that seperates the hall from the front room as you walk in. This makes that area wider for coming in and taking off boots etc. The eventual den/bedroom is now even more cluttered than ever. This picture is the tidiest spot! Filled with crates of books and things with nowhere to go. Lots of ideas for that room, but it will have to wait.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bad Day Not by Daniel Powter

Well, partially bad day as in the tarts department. I used a muffin tin which was too big and they collapsed because they were too small and ran all over. Being one who enjoys looking at food blogs and all the perfect food pictures there, well, me......I like to be different.
Too bad because they were actually really tasty and the pastry was perfect. Here are the several tarts I manage to pry out of the tins........

I figure in about a week this guk will be soaked enough to remove out and off....

Dinner turned out perfect though. And the wine, delicious... a smooth French Pinot Noir....

I gave baking one more try and thanks to Jamie Oliver, I made his "Bloomin' Brilliant Brownies"......

Jamie Oliver`s Bloomin' Brilliant Brownies

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups sweetened dark chocolate pieces used (Our Compliments Belgium Fondue Chocolate)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
• 4 large eggs
• Optional: zest of 1 orange
• Optional: 250ml crème fraîche

Sprinkle with cocoa and
Top with .......
1/3 cup Semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Shortening

FOR CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE, place chocolate chips and shortening in small resealable plastic bag; seal. Place bag in bowl of hot water for several minutes. Dry with paper towel. Knead until blended and chocolate is smooth. Snip pinpoint hole in corner of bag. Drizzle chocolate over brownies. Allow chocolate drizzle to set before storing in single layer in airtight containers.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 25cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl over some simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate and mix until smooth. Add the cherries and nuts, if you’re using them, and stir together. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar, then add this to the chocolate, cherry and nut mixture. Stir together well. Beat the eggs and mix in until you have a silky consistency.

Pour your brownie mix into the baking tray, and place in the oven for around 25 minutes. You don’t want to overcook them so, unlike cakes, you don’t want a skewer to come out all clean. The brownies should be slightly springy on the outside but still gooey in the middle. Allow to cool in the tray, then carefully transfer to a large chopping board and cut into chunky squares. These make a fantastic dessert served with a dollop of crème fraîche mixed with some orange zest.

If they didn`t turn out it was a stop at the donut shop on the way into work to get a big box of donuts. But they did! Their more of a fudgey brownie and not extremely sweet. Though I still do like the sweeter cakey ones best plastered in chocolate icing!
If anyone would like the tart recipe though, I`d be glad to post it. It`s from a Bed and Breakfast in the States.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!

One of These Things is Not Like the Other......

We finished up at work early last night and I had a nice surprise when I got home. Chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne and a beautiful rose from my sweet romantic hubby. I couldn`t resist adding this other picture as you can see why......

The roads were really bad around here Tuesday night and not so good yesterday either. This mess of snow makes it so dangerous for everyone trying to get around. I`m so thankful I`m not driving at the moment. Go away winter! Grocery day is postponed until Friday after work, so I`ll make the dinner I had planned tonight, being that I`m working at a proper time again. Tenderloin steaks with mushrooms and asparagus tips and small broiled potatoes. A ceasar salad would have been good, but I forgot to buy the ingredients.
Then tomorrow we have pot luck at work so I`m going to make some butter tarts. Hopefully they turn out better than that bread. The first and only time I made them, they were really nice. We shall see.
Have one more party to go to Saturday night. A sort of get together of people who went to the same highschool. It`s in a hall with a band, so it should be fun. Then Sunday it`s off to see about getting some more of that flooring for the hall and frontroom. Then the work begins.....ripping up the ancient carpet.

If the tarts turn out looking good..."please let them turn out good....I need to take them out in public....I don`t have any immergency store bought things".....I`ll post the recipe for any sweet teeth who might stop by :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The History of the Valentine....

Happy Valentines Day!

If anyone`s interested in finding out where this idea came from, I found this at

Ever since I was a kid, I`ve loved Kewpie Dolls, they`re so adorable! This valentine below was done by Rose Cecil O’Neill (1874-1944) a famous children`s illustrator who actually created them. You can see more and read about her here.

So much for celebrating Valentines Day with the nice dinner I was going to make. It will have to wait until Friday now because I`m working tonight :(

Monday, February 12, 2007

Elvis is a Doilie-Head and my Sad Blue Grape Focaccia

The other day, hubby and I were sitting at the kitchen table chatting when all of a sudden he laughed and said "Look at Elvis!" "Did you stick that on his head when I wasn`t looking?" I asked. "No" says he. It seems there must have been a crumb or something dropped on my computer chair where this doilie usually lays and of course Elvis was doing his usual sniff out the food thing. How in the world he got it on his head though, I`ll never know. Glad the camera was near by!

Well, finally this year after being free of the flu or cold for almost three years, I`ve become immune to the Echinacea again and got me. Just before it got bad, I decided to try making that recipe below. Half of the grapes fell off but were sticky enough to stick back on. Doesn`t look near as good as the recipe`s picture, but not bad for a first try........

The first warmish piece was actually pretty good, although it looks more like a bull frog drooling jam than a fine and fancy Italian desert.....

I had to put the rest in the fridge with it being fruit. No one else wanted to try it and I gave it one more chance and then chucked the whole hard thing in the garbage along with four hard boiled eggs that had been lost and forgotten in the fridge.
Today when we got home from work there were some suspicious looking bits of egg shell in the kitchen doorway. Inside the kitchen was a tipped over garbage can and a trail of empty bags all over the floor.
It seems Elvis decided to have a little snack. Hmmmmmmmm.... almost a whole loaf of the focaccia and four hard boiled eggs. Boy, are we in for a treat tonight.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Friends and the Unfortunate Creature" by The Cat That Would Be Heard

"One moment please..."


"Right with you....."

"Ahhhhhhhh, that`s it then...."

Tis not a pleasant tale I have to tell today, but it is another true and memorable one indeed.
Let us go back some years to when I was but a young lad and Benjamin still amongst us.
One pleasant summer`s evening I was home alone and ventured outside for a late night`s walk. The mistress and family were away overnight and Benjamin was staying over the yard, at the Nana`s house.
I trotted along the side of the drive, gazing up at the full moon and smelling the luscious scent of rose in the air. "Ahhhh... the beauty of it all." I thought to myself. "Truly this was a cat`s grandest life. Here, living in the country."
Of a sudden, there was a shuffling and crashing about, coming, it seemed, from the garage.
Now, you must realize, that I was the master cat of these good acres and to have such an invader, such a disturbance was troubling. Off around the corner I crept, using my best mouse catching stance.
The door to the garage was almost closed, but a foot wide opening gaped at the bottom.
"Yes....something has gotten in and is doing no good in there!" I mumbled quietly to myself. "But it must be quite large to be causing such a stir!"
Ever so quietly, I stepped closer and looked inside. All was dark, but being a cat, my eyes were able to desern a rather large creature. Almost dog-like in appearance, up to no good. No good at all.
Now, even at a young age, I was wise enough to realize that this task was none that I could handle.
Off I trotted again, rather briskly this time, to the Nana`s house, where I knew Benjamin lay somewhere inside sleeping.

Now if you`ve read my introduction of myself, you`ll know that I`m annoyingly unable to utter a proper meow, if any at all.
So there I stood in the glow of the moon, at the glass doors, making a rather unmanly sounding "Mee yek" Again I repeated it. "Mee yek" Still nothing. "Mee yek!"

Finally Benjamin dog came over to the door, glimpsed myself pitifully standing there in the dark, pressed his nose up to the glass, sniffed and promptly trotted away again."Well for bloody sake, man! Come back!" I gasped.

I`d all but given up when suddenly back he came, with the Nana, yawning, in tow.
"There you go, Ben. But do hurry up and don`t stay out with Teddy too long." And back to bed she went.
Being we animals can communicate telepathically, I at once told Benjamin my predicament. Off we both went to get the business done. I won`t go into detail here, because whilst I stood outside the garage door, Benjamin went in and shockingly took care of the business in his own way. But the sounds that could be heard. To think that our gentle giant, Benjamin had it in him. Oh my!

Meanwhile, back inside the Nana`s house, the Nana, alarmed at a screaming noise outside, was trying to rouse the Grampa from a sound sleep.
"D! D! Wake up! I think Ben is murdering Teddy!" "Whaaaaaa? Go back to sleep B. Ben wouldn`t murder Teddy" murmered the Grampa, as he fell back to sleep.
But the Nana leapt out of bed anyway and ran toward the door. She stood there a moment, in the now silence and the moon`s soft glow.
Then much to her surprise and relief up to the house sauntered Benjamin and myself. Benjamin was let in and I, who prefer my own home, went there for a peaceful night`s sleep.

The next morning the Grampa opened the garage door and found a deceased racoon, lying peacefully as if in sleep.

And now my dear friends, I shall say "Tot wij opnieuw samenkomen." or "Until we meet again."
~ Theodore

Blue Grape Focaccia

This caught my eye in a gardening magazine and I`m going to try making it this weekend. If blue grapes are not found on grocery day, I`m going to see how it works with cranberries for now. Stay tuned.....hopefully it`s not such a mess that I don`t want to take a picture LOL

Featured in the Canadian "Gardening Life" magazine August/September 2004

Make the most of the short season of locally grown blue grapes with a delectable focaccia.

1 envelope (8 g) fast-acting dry yeast
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) bread or all-purpose flour (approx.)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
3/4 cup (175 mL) very warm water
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) liquid honey
1/4 cup (50 mL) melted butter
2 cups (500 mL) blue grapes, halved and seeded if necessary
1/3 cup (75 mL) muscovado or granulated sugar

Step 1: Stir yeast with flour and salt and reserve. Stir water with lemon juice, honey and melted butter in a large bowl. Stir in half the flour mixture and blend well. Stir in remaining flour mixture and turn out onto the counter. Knead for five minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding up to 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra flour if necessary. Place in a lightly buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Rest for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Turn dough out of the bowl and press out all the air. Roll dough into a large rectangle. Scatter half the grapes over the dough and sprinkle with half the sugar. Brush around the edge of the dough with a little water and fold dough like a letter to make a rectangle. Crimp the edges to seal. Sprinkle with remaining grapes, turning skin-side up and pressing gently into the dough. Sprinkle with sugar. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Step 3: Tent bread with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour. Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Bake focaccia on middle rack for 25 to 30 minutes or until well browned. Immediately loosen bread from pan with a spatula (it will be saucy on the bottom) and slide onto a rack to cool.

Makes 1 loaf.

Drink Match: A bubbly Italian Prosecco is a good choice for brunch, but if serving with a cheese course, opt for a California Zinfandel.

*** Picture Uploading Tip
I`ve noticed that unless it`s really early in the morning, I can`t upload pictures from the Firefox browser I use. Using Internet Explorer seems to work with no problems.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tea Time

We had a nice time at the party last night and my friend and I had a great catch-up today. These English Ironstone pieces are all vintage finds called the "Old Inn" series. I really like the green and white pattern. We just munched on tea cookies because we`re both trying to eat better at the moment. She lent me a bunch of gardening books and magazines and gave me this cute aged watering can and gardening gloves! It will look nice outside with maybe some herbs sprouting out of it :)

Think I`ll be reading tonight and dreaming of spring!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cat Nappin' and Stuff..........

Having a nap.........

"What the...?"

This pillow is going to my sister eventually and the cushion will be re-covered to match the new future colour scheme. The 1930`s doll will be either re-dressed or go in the library/bedroom, that`s at the moment stuffed with things getting re-finished etc. That will be more the ecclectic room. I want to get rid of all the red and gold in the frontroom and go for sage greens, dark dark rose or burgundy in accessories, creams and beiges and whatever. Nothing too, too feminine though. Sorry Teddy and Isobell, but the frontroom decor will no longer be matching you! I`d like to try and keep a balance of yin and yang somehow, though the yin will most likely predominate slightly, cause us girls rock LOL.

Angus likes sitting under this big plant in the hall.....

Although Isobell is nowhere in sight at the moment, Elvis didn`t want me to forget about him either.....

Off to my sister`s boyfriend`s house tonight for a party! Then tomorrow my girlfriend`s coming to visit. Fun weekend! Hope everyone has a great one too :)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Some Gardening Inspiration on a Winter`s Day

Happy February 1st!
Spring is a little closer, though it sure doesn`t seem like it here. I needed to see some green and fell on this.....
Skippy`s Vegetable Garden blog at

Great gardening inspiration here. There`s also great recipes, ideas and a sweet doggy there. It`s worth a visit :)
I might try this in the pottager garden we`re planning in the spring. Maybe along the fence and in a couple of big pots along the sides of the garden where we intend to surround it with more brickage for potted things that won`t fit on the back garden patio....not sure if brickage`s a word, but it sounds good :)....and that was one long sentence! She says that she`s never had such high vines.

A Tomato Teepee.

teepee in June 27

tomatoes growing on August 10