Sunday, 5 July 2015

Shake and Bake

A nice late lie-in followed by a pancake breakfast with yesterday's freshly picked strawberries, raspberries from our own garden and maple syrup in my homemade pottery jug. Then we sauntered on up to the pool and stayed there for the rest of the day. We had some homegrown Yellow beans brought to us from next door and then Otto's wife popped round with some lettuce (which we had to decline as we had too much of our own).

Whirlpool, splashing, throwing, jumping, river ratting and a game of Uno. As our breakfast was so late, we didn't bother with lunch and had an ice cream instead mid afternoon.

Later we played Upset, still up at the pool. Love it up there - it makes us feel like we are on holiday. We didn't finish the game as we ran out of time and the boys went back into the pool while Huffle and I made some dinner and FaceTimed Grandma and Grandad. We sat and ate and chatted with them and teased them with our scrumptious scones until it was time for us to take Smallest to his football practice.

It was a perfect evening for sitting and watching football and Small and Huffle played catch. The coach kept telling the team to Shake and Bake and we also heard the phrase 'That's a corner picker'. Where do they get these terms from?

Once we were home Small watered the veg and Huffle and I fought off the mosquitoes whilst Backwashing the pool. More watering was done on the garden and then we settled in for the evening.

What a lovely day.


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Trespassers will be pecked*

It's that time of year again, Strawberry Picking time. When hoards of people, including us, go to the Fruit Picking Farms. We decided to go to the same one we went to last year, armed with our Farm bucket (purchased for $4 last year) and a couple of extra containers. We picked only $7 dollars worth before and this year we were ready to pick a mighty crop.

Two more licence plates in the strawberry car park

It was, once again, very busy, with every nation (Huffle edit - in fact we didn't spot or hear any white Canadians) trying to park their huge trucks, queuing to get their buckets weighed (and some of the children ha, they should have, the amount I saw eating rogue strawberries - not including my own brood!). We were assigned two rows between the four of us. Huffle and Smallest took one row and Small and I took another. We had some Eastern Europeans climbing over to our row and getting in Small's way, sticking their bum in his face. I had to have a few choice words. It's a very territorial thing, picking strawberries. When we had exhausted our two, Huffle started to wander onto another row and he was shouted at by MissRowAssigner who said if he needed a new row, he should say! We were assigned two new rows and the woman next to me asked if I was on the same row as her as I was obviously picking her strawberries. I explained how the system worked and she was happy (ish). Everyone in our family ate a good amount except for Small who has decided this year that he doesn't eat strawberries by themselves, only with other things. Our bucket and another container was filled, we were very warm, it was getting very busy and we decided to stop. No Raspberries yet, that may be next week. We could have picked beans but we are hoping for our own crop this year.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Earlier this morning we bought extra sugar, pectin, whipping cream and flour so we could make our usual strawberry feast, so all we needed to do was to pay for our pickings and go home. We spent $23 this time.

After lunch at home we sterilised our jam jars. Small sat with his foot soaking (it was sore again) and cut the strawberries that Smallest washed. Huffle stirred the mixture and we kept adding to it. We actually used 20 cups of strawberries and had to sterilise some more jars to accommodate it all. Part way through reading the recipe, we realised you shouldn't double up your quantities as it may not work. WHOOPS - we not only doubled but we multiplied it by ten! It didn't ripple on the plate like it should have but we persevered and eventually canned our lovely scrumptious mixture (so much sugar!!!!!!). We ended up with 17 jars of Strawberry Jam, some just 250g jars but others bigger. I think we may have overestimated this time. Hope it works though because that's an awful lot of strawberries and jam we may have wasted. The original recipe can be found here (if this one works I will publish that one too at a later date).

We jammin'

I made Strawberry Muffins and Huffle made Plain Scones and we sampled a scone with our cup of tea. Huffle and I had been cooking, jamming and baking for two and a half hours but it was worth it. The scone was still warm from the oven, with still warm strawberry jam, freshly whipped (by Smallest) cream. Ummm ummmmm. Fabulous. Huffle does make an exceedingly good scone.

What do you think of these Paul Hollywood?
All tuckered out, jams stored for the Winter, we went out for dinner. Tonight we went to a local pub style place and I had a lovely Grilled Salmon Salad with a Mango Salsa - very good.
We won a 'cologne' at the Strawberry Festival last weekend and Huffle picked it up today - it was minuscule
We won a 'cologne' at the Strawberry Festival last weekend and Huffle picked it up today - it was minuscule

*On the way home we saw a Bird of Prey which was being harassed by a few smaller birds. We didn't know what they were doing so we looked it up. Apparently, the smaller birds are trying to get the bigger birds to move out of their territory by pecking at them. The bigger birds are less likely to attack the smaller ones as they are not as agile, but occasionally they turn on them. Just like the people trying to get in Small's way in the strawberry fields.



Friday, 3 July 2015

Christmas in July

Huffle and I didn't get up until just before 9am this morning (that's naughty). No-one wanted to do anything today so we stayed in our PJ's for most of the morning. Small's foot looked okay and clean although he said it was sore (understandably) and walked mainly on his tiptoes for the rest of the day.

The boys played a bit of football in the garden and tidied a few things away and then played on their tablets and the Wii. I did a few loads of washing, tidying, sweeping and a small bit of gardening.

Due to the fact that I have recently been buying Baked Beans (it seems every time I go shopping I buy a couple of tins - I don't know why, we have far too many) we had Beans on Toast for lunch. We don't think we have had this since we have been here - it was good. Huffle and Small eat Canadian Beans and Smallest and I always have either British Style Beans or imported Heinz ones (we are bean snobs!).

After lunch Huffle went back to work and the boys and I made RIce Krispie Christmas Trees. Small had a packet for Christmas from Cog as a Secret Santa gift and when we cleared the pantry out earlier this week, we came across them. They are out of date in September this year so we had to make them. They were incredibly difficult to make due to the fact that the marshmallows wouldn't melt and the rice krispies went all over the cooker and they didn't really squish well together without sticking to fingers, spoons etc. still we ended up with three Christmas trees (we didn't use the awful green powder that came with it and the decorations were horrid).

We FaceTimed Grandma and the boys played some piano for her while she sang (oh dear, cheese time). The boys and I had an ice cream on the porch and FaceTimed Moo. Small and I planted some seeds in the veggie garden after Huffle and I secured the Peas and put up a climbing structure. Small also planted some wildflower seeds near compost corner and watered the veg.

Huffle made dinner for us tonight. We had Turkey Burgers/Mushrooms, Salad, Jacket Potatoes and Corn on the cob. Very nice - I could get used to him cooking.



Thursday, 2 July 2015

A tie? How very unCanadian!

A very bright and sunshiny day again (but not as hot as the UK are experiencing at the moment). Huffle and I went to bed late and got up late. He instantly went to work (not drove to, but got on with) and the boys and I had breakfast.

In their own rooms with their tablets but still talking to each other through the wall!

Huffle noticed that a man came and stuck a road sign in front of our house and we wondered if they were finally going to resurface the much needed pot holes. They weren't, they were there to cut down a very large tree. He wondered if I could I flutter my eyelashes and see if they would give us the wood chippings - as if!!!! Well I did go and have a word (but I didn't flutter, I just put on my best British Accent) and they were only too happy to oblige. I got on with some gardening while I waited and then we all watched from the window when the big trunk was being cut down. It was fascinating. Apparently the tree had an Ash Bore and was full of ants so the tree fella or tree feller said I probably wouldn't want the chippings as they were full of ants too. Shame, we could have made good use of all that.

I'm a lumberjack......

The boys played on the trampoline and I carried on gardening and then stopped mid morning to clear the kitchen, empty and fill the dishwasher and catch up with a bit of The Intercepter.

We all had lunch and then the boys and I went to MrsRoyals to do a spot of gardening there. We set the kids off pulling tree seedlings out (not their most favourite job they told me later) and then planting Forget-me-nots in the pasture for next year (they didn't mind this because MrRoyal asked them to chop down the burrs). They also played baseball and went home for Ice Poles. When they got back we asked if they would take all the cuttings from the bushes and put them on the bonfire heap. Whilst there, Small stood on a piece of wood that had a rusty screw sticking out of it. He only had on his crocks, no socks and so it went straight through and pierced the bottom of his foot. Smallest came to tell us he was bleeding. MrRoyal zoomed off towards him at pace on his tractor mower and MrsRoyal and I followed behind. We helped him to the patio where we cleaned the wound with a hose, poured Antiseptic wash on it and put a plaster on. It looked clean so we took him home. Luckily I had been gardening for a couple of hours so it didn't interrupt my work as I had almost finished anyway.

Gardening at TheRoyals with a bit of tree climbing and moustache mimicking

At home he soaked his feet in a bowl of water and watched TV. Smallest didn't want to be left out so I borrowed a bowl from MrsRoyal and the pair of them sat like old men, soaking their weary feet, watching a bit of TV. Huffle checked the vaccination notes for Small and we think he is okay. The surgery wasn't answering their phones so I may just call in the morning to double check if he needs a booster tetanus or not. We also checked his temperature just to make sure.

I FaceTimed Grandma briefly while I tried to get dinner ready. We were going to have Roast Chicken but we were quickly running out of time, so I made a chicken cheesy pasta instead.

After dinner Smallest and Huffle went off to their football game and Small and I went off to his. He practised running around the garden to see if his foot hurt and it didn't. Smallest won his game 8-3 with no subs and one player who never touched the ball all game. Small's foot was fine and he played well. His team's 'scrimmage' game was a tie. One of the Dad's was standing next to me spouting rubbish through most of the 2nd half, mainly about Hockey (BOOOORRRIIINNNNNGGG) so I stood up and said "oh a tie - how very UnCanadian". He hurumphed but didn't say much. His son was angry with Small through most of the match!!




Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Happy Paraphernalia Day

After yesterday I felt very homesick, very sad at being here in Canada and disappointed with some of the people. I didn't sleep well and ended up awake from 3am and downstairs between the hours of 4am and 5am, playing scrabble online with Grandma.

Smallest added his latest frog (Charlie to his garden).

Today (July 1st) is Canada Day. A day off for all, so after a very late breakfast, we packed up a picnic and went to a part of the lake we haven't been to before. We ended up at Frenchmans Bay which was a lovely little seasidey type town with shops either side of the road leading down to a harbour, a beach and a lighthouse. It was very quaint, if not a little busy. Once we were parked, we walked down the Main Street and spied an Ice Cream shop. We definitely had to stop here because it was called Grandads (though they spelt it Granddad!) Ice Cream Shop. We sat outside on the verandah eating Salted Caramel Truffle and Black Raspberry Thunder, watching the world dressed in Canada Day Garb (I started to take photos of the many people dressed in Canada Day hats, tee shirts, etc but there were so many I got fed up) pass us by. The owner gave us a book she had written about 'Granddad' and we read that and then walked off towards the harbour.

Fishermen, Loons on sticks, a strange pair sitting in someone's front garden and Granddads Ice Cream Parlour

The temperature should have only got to about 21* but it got to at least 23.5* and was just lovely. We walked the length of the beach one way, stopping for a swing, a skim of stones, tree climbing, paddling, picking up beach glass for my new collection, and kicking the football. When we finally sat down and made a start on our picnic I finally felt at peace and was happy that we were here in Canada. It reminded me what a lovely place it is and it also made me realise that I am ready for our holiday. I think we all are.

A dredgers cutter, paraphanelia, splash pad with a giant bucket and spade, wind turbine, boat masts and shade covers (which were over the playground equipment - ingenious).
Swinging lakeside

I told Huffle our next house needs to be by the water as that is where I am most happy. Imagine me walking along the beach everyday, collecting stones, glass and driftwood (though Huffle says I would never get anything done so we are not in a hurry to move yet).

Wind turbine, skimming and football
Tree roots, tree climbing, us, fishing

Walking along the beach we got to the jetty and meandered towards the Little lighthouse. There were two in fact, one on each side of the jetty where the boats come from the harbour into the lake. There were many people fishing though it didn't seem too many fish were caught.

Weather vanes, flags, boats and clouds
Weather vane, harbour, bridge and bench
Fishing, rock walking, lighthouses and mushroom

Walking around the harbour again and round the houses we finally got back to the car. As it was still earlyish, we drove to another beach, one we knew well this time. One we go to often for bike rides, walks and picnics. Unfortunately the beach was full of dried lakeweed and it smelled horrible. The boys skimmed and I sat and watched the lake.

Skimming, sitting, paddling and the lake view

We had a little walk and then drove home via the Garden Centre where they advertised Lemon Trees earlier in the year. As usual we were disappointed with the lack of knowledge from the staff and we found no Lemon Trees. Apparently I have to rethink my Mothers Day present.

Would this make you buy a car?
Mushrooms -maybe I can make some in pottery? Rudbeckia and a new gargoyle for the front door?

At home Huffle and I sat by the pool while it was being refilled and the boys played on their tablets. A good day was had by all. Thank goodness.

We had our dinner and watched The Women's World Cup. What a disappointing game. Not only was a it a dull game but to lose to an own goal! Oh dear. The bunting came down immediately. BUMS!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hi Ho Hi Hi it's off to work we go....

Our garden - Rudbeckia

Everyone slept well because it was a bit cooler. Smallest didn't get up until 7:50 (which is a miracle). After breakfast, the boys and I went off to work at the Nursery. Jan and Wil were also there and we spent an hour emptying old pots. Soil in one wheelbarrow and weeds in another one. Small emptied the barrow for us and any plants we found, we were allowed to take home. I took six ferns and three hostas. Then the boys and I made a new garden by weeding and planting up Morning Glory, Salvia and another climby thing I can't remember the name. We stopped for coffee/water and a coupe of amazing brownies that Jan had made. MrsM had bought the boys a magazine about Toronto and a packet of HobNobs to take home. Wil and Jan both said they hadn't heard of them and MrsM said "that's because you didn't grow up in England!".

After coffee break, Smallest and I planted up six different varieties of Squash and Small helped label them. The boys went off exploring the gardens and I did a bit of weeding and clearing. We came home with our ferns and hostas, an Anenome from Jan, biscuits, magazine, some salvia flowers and two geraniums. The boys did really well today and MrsM told them if they come again, she will pay them 1c per pot that they empty. They are ready to go back next week. Smallest said it was more fun than being on the tablet. Small didn't say anything!

The boys had lunch in front of the TV and Huffle and I watched Kevin McCloud in the Sun Room with our lunch.

I left all the boys at home and did some food shopping and they all helped me unload and put away back home. The rest of the afternoon the boys played on the Wii and I talked to Moo, sorted out her FaceTime issues and had a good chat about gardening while I made my dinner. Huffle had made a Beef Chilli in the Slow Cooker earlier so that had been bubbling away all day.

It rained from lunchtime onwards today and yet we still took the boys to their respective football games. Tonight I took Smallest to his Rep practice and Huffle took Small to his game.

I met Malcolms Dad at the practice and he was complaining how both his sons (same ages as ours) were at different places. I offered, out of the goodness of my heart, to take Malcom home after the game, saving him an extra journey. He thanked me and left. I sat and watched Smallest practice and had a quick word at the end with his coach who says he is very happy with Smallest. Malcolm then asked if I could take him to where his Dad and brother were instead of home. RANT ALERT. I lost my bearings a bit and ended up nowhere near where I needed to be, so changed track and came home, dropping Malcom off first. I rang the doorbell, Malcolm walked in and closed the door behind him. Not saying thank you and not letting his Mum know I was there. I asked him to let someone know I was there and he said OKAY and turned away again. GOOD GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT CHILD? Eventually I made him understand that I needed to see someone in order to leave him (in case he was home alone - he is only eight after all!). In the end, someone (could have been anyone) half came out and waved and said what could have been a thank you. I actually walked away at that point and said FORGET IT. I am absolutely fuming. The child never spoke once to me, never thanked me. The parents obviously don't care who is with them, or what they do with them. THATS IT. I'M FINISHED WITH THAT FAMILY! So rude - I have just filled the swear jar just telling Huffle what happened. Not only do people think it's okay for them to leave my kids on the drive without checking I'm here first but it's also okay for me to drop their kids off without checking anyone is home. Why didn't his Dad just leave him to walk home from the local town then? SERIOUSLY PEOPLE SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT HERE!!!!!!!!



Monday, 29 June 2015

Hot wired

A sunshiney hot day today. The boys and I played Junior Monopoly and they went on their tablets while I laid three slabs, a stepping stone and did some weeding.

We all had lunch (including Huffle), attempted to clean the pool and then the boys and I cycled to the tennis courts and had a few games of tennis.

It was really hot and we had no energy so we didn't last too long. We cycled home and went straight to the pool.

The boys went in and I sat and read and blew up the big rubber ring.

Later, Huffle came out and we tried to backwash the pool but once again it went off and wouldn't start again. Huffle opened it up and one of the wires was very fried. We contacted MrBasement for some help.

He suggested it would be okay as there is more than one Ground Wire and we backwashed, Rinsed and got it back working again. It is spluttering along, will it last the season?

I mowed the grass and the boys trampolined. There were a couple of incidents where Smallest got a bruised knee and Small got a foot in the eye. Huffle raked the grass and I attended to the eye patient. I put a bag of frozen blueberries on his eye and sent him to the sofa. Unfortunately, the bag opened and there were blueberries everywhere, all over our new sofas. Whoops. Luckily they are a dark grey and there was no staining (that we can see). However, he did get a blueberry tattoo on his back and one stuck in his belly button!

I made dinner with the help of everyone. Smallest made the couscous and Huffle squeezed the lemon and collected garlic chives (and was my sous chef, fetching and carrying), small collected salad leaves from the garden and washed them all and between us we made fish cakes with lemon Aioli. Very yummy.

After dinner we all played football down the bottom of the garden. (The football from yesterday was played by Smallest's team on another field but they forgot to inform us. Smallest was very disappointed his team played without him).

Showers, TV, bed!