Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Day in Carleton Place

Saturday we decided to check out the Bridge Street Festival in Carleton Place. The highlight of the event, in my opinion was that there was some good music along the street. Though I don't know who any of these performers were, some of them certainly got my attention.

There was a fellow playing flamenco guitar. I could happily have listened to him for longer than I did.

There was also a band that drew a decent sized crowd playing some lively tunes. At one point the 6 year old daughter of one of the musicians got on stage and was supposed to sing.  She forgot the words, but nobody cared. She was so cute. 

Her little sister thought she'd get in on the act by dancing around in front of the stage.

Speaking of dancers, these two did a demonstration on the street to drum up business for their dance class.

I'm not sure these two are old enough for the classes, but they decided to dance along.

After we walked the length of Bridge Street in both directions, we decided to go find a few geocaches. That was even more fun.  You will have to slip over to my other blog, called On The Prowl to learn about that.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Night at the Races

We had a nice quiet day at home Friday. But when the rain promised to hold off for the evening, we decided to go to Rideau Carleton Raceway for dinner and the races.  We called a lot of different people but nobody was available to join us on such short notice, so we went alone. 

We did find friends there, sitting just a couple of tables away. They didn't seem interested in the races though, so they might have been better off to have come on a different night, when the buffet is only half the cost.  They wandered off to the casino while we stayed and played the ponies.  We figure the races are a lot easier on the wallet as we just bet two dollars "to show" just so we will have a horse to cheer for.  The worst we can do is lose a twoonie every 15 minutes or so.  LOL   Most of the time we come home within a dollar or two, one way or the other, of what we went with. Tonight we didn't do as well, but even so, we got 3 1/2 hours of entertainment. We also got to eat the whole time and while we managed to lose ten dollars on the horses, others lost a lot more in the slot machines, I'm sure.

Actually I'm sure we lost more tonight than we ever have before.  We generally like to brag that we have been playing with the same little purse of coins for three or four years now.  And I guess we still can as I topped up tonight's losses with winnings I keep in another change purse.  We're all set to go again sometime soon, and I'm sure we'll do better next time.

Picton Craft Fair

Things went much more smoothly Thursday.  We went to the Picton Craft Fair.

I had a coupon for a 2 for 1 breakfast special at Buds on the Bay in Brockville, so we stopped for that on the way. It was a good offer as I never knew they did breakfast there, and it was a good meal.  We didn't actually eat again until supper time, and never felt hungry all day.

The craft fair was held at the fairgrounds in Picton, and there were vendors in 4 buildings, including 100 in the big arena.  There were also some in stalls outside. There was certainly lots to see, but way more jewelry than anything else. 

We brought home a freshly baked cherry/rhubarb strudel and a little pottery egg separator (I don't need it but it's cute and matched my kitchen, and I've never seen one like it before, so I couldn't resist).  I also bought a package of stuff (sugar, eggs and flavouring) that you mix with whipping cream and make gourmet icecream.  I got strawberry for a dollar off the listed price, because, according to the vendor, they had run our of vanilla.  Not that I wanted vanilla mind you, but if you want to give me a dollar off for some strange reason, I'm all for it.  Funny though, it was vanilla that they were still giving away as samples.

There was so much to see that we didn't have time to explore any other part of Prince Edward County this time.  Now we'll just have to come up with a reason to go back again soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day Two of Misadventures

It's happening again.

We had decided to travel to Wakefield to explore, and see why everyone raves about the place. I have a new premium geocaching membership (thanks to a friend as mentioned here) that allows me to plot a route and download caches along the way. That wasn't our primary purpose for the day, so, after seeing how this application worked, I narrowed the choices down to just thee caches around Wakefield and Chelsea and proceeded to download them to my GPS.

Off we went, armed with directions from Map Quest.  We were fine until we got onto Route 105 North. A big storm last month had apparently washed the road out and we found it was still closed.  We backtracked to Old Chelsea, where we searched for two separate geocaches, but didn't find either one. It was still a nice area though.

We decided to have lunch at a little coffee shop in Chelsea. Two sandwiches and two cold, non-alcoholic beverages came to $22.  Yes, the meal was enjoyable, but the price was outrageous!

We got directions on how to get to Wakefield by another route and off we went again.  We failed to get another couple of geocaches at that location also.  One because there were too many people around, and the other because there did not seem to be a safe way to reach it.  We have never had such bad luck finding caches in the past, so it's all just part of this curse we seem to be living under, I'm sure.

We spotted a covered bridge and tried to go down the road that led to it, but it was also closed. Perhaps there had been a washout there too.  Whatever the reason, we never got to go to the bridge.

We drove through the village and when we found a place to park at the far end, the first store we entered turned out to be a grocery store.  A sign indicated there was a boutique on the second floor, so we went up there. But a wall of heat hit us and we turned around and came back out.  The rest of the shops were quiet a distance down the road, so we set off to find another parking spot.  There weren't any.  So much for Wakefield.  I'll never know the attraction.  The steam train, by the way, has also been cancelled this summer because of the washout.

Within moments we discovered something didn't seem right as the blinker was going too fast.  It turned out that one of the signal lights had burned out.  We were in Quebec, with Ontario licence plates, so we stopped and bought a new bulb and got that problem fixed right away.

We decided to go to the Mackenzie King Estates.  We had not been there in a very long time.  It was relaxing to wander around the ruins, but other parts of the estate were closed.  Perhaps it was too late in the day. 

Gatineau Park is alive with bikers. There are far more of them than cars, as far as I could tell.  We always seemed to be close behind one, waiting for the road to be straight enough, or flat enough,  to see if anything was coming before pulling out to pass.  It make for some pretty slow travelling at times.

On the way home, we were starting to get hungry again. As we neared Rideau Carleton Raceway, we decided it would be a good place to stop for supper. $9.99 for the all you can eat buffet is a darn good deal.  We had to cruise around that parking lot quiet a bit too, before we found a spot someone had just vacated.  When we got inside we found the longest line up we have ever seen there.  Everyone must have had the same idea tonight. We turned around and came back out.  By this time we were laughing. 

Once again, the day didn't go as planned, but we enjoyed it anyway.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One of Those Days!

Did you ever have one of those days when nothing went right?
I had one today.

First we thought we would make reservations to go on the Lost River Cruise, out of Morrisburg, as they are having Old Home Week there this week. Last year this was a very popular cruise and was sold out. Today we found out it had been cancelled "due to lack of interest."  Well, I doubt it was really lack of interest, but rather the poor way in which it was advertised. I had a hard time locating any information about it and I'm actually better at searching out such things than most people I know.  Anyway, we couldn't book the cruise.

Next we decided we would go to the IMAX today, and eat in Ottawa before the show.  I had two coupon deals. One was for a place we have been to many times, and the other was for a place we had never been to.  We thought we'd try that one.  We managed to get confused about just where it was, and ended up at the one we knew after all.  The portions have shrunk, and they no longer included the salad, but we got enough to eat, and enjoyed the meal. The waitress forgot about the coupon at first, but then remembered after she brought the bill. She fixed that and off we went.

There was a little discussion about which side of the river the IMAX was on, but I won that one, thank goodness.  My memory isn't the best these days, but I was sure I knew where that was.

So, we got there in plenty of time, drove around and around until we finally found a place to park and then proceeded to stand in line for our tickets.  The show was sold out.  We had driven all this way and paid for parking for a show we could not even see. 

We decided to head for Michaels on Bank Street, as I have a gift card to spend, and we had run out of ideas for the day.  As everyone knows, Ottawa has two seasons:  Winter and Construction.  It was definitely construction season as we saw lots of scaffolding where buildings were being renovated or repointed; great holes in the ground at various places, where new buildings would soon be built; and cranes lifting things high over other construction sights, and sometimes over the roadway, which is a little scary.  We also came across at least five areas where road construction was underway.  One of those was Bank Street.  That required a rather long detour.

I found some of the items I wanted at Michaels, but there were still three I couldn't find. Perhaps I'll have better luck at Deserres, where I usually shop, next time I get a chance to look. 

We stopped to pick something up at a store closer to home.  I thought I was lucky to find a cashier with only the person she was dealing with and one other person in line.  But then another cashier beckoned me over to her cash.  There was a man there, ready to pay by debit card, and I would be next.  She actually had the "Cash Closed" sign up, but since I only had a couple of items in my hand, she was being nice to me.  But as luck would have it, as least for today, the man's debit card wasn't working for him.  He had to try several times before he was able to pay for his purchases. I would definitely have been better off to have stayed where I was. 

Yep, it was just one of those days!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Herbfest 2011

Today we went to the 16th Annual Herbfest on Old Almonte Road.  We have never gone before, but being it's 16th year must explain why they have this thing down to a science.  It was very well organized and everything ran smoothly.  Even the weather was cooperative.

There was a Chef Cook-Off between Executive Chef Cesare Santaguida of Vittoria Trattoraia, Executive Chef Brian Vallipuram of The Lord Elgin Hotel and Executive Chef Neil Mather of Graffiti's Italian Eatery and Saloon.  The recipes had to include the special herb of the year, Horseradish.  Some of the recipes can be found here .  I got to taste the dish with the salmon and scallops, and understand why Chef Brian won the contest today.  It was marvelous!

Under the same tent, after the chefs were finished, Vanessa  Simmons guided us on the Great Ontario Cheese Discovery.  We were given a plate with 5 artisan cheeses on it, and we worked our way through these, one by one, as she told us about each of them and the proper way to taste cheese. 

Pictured here are the 5 cheeses, starting with the fresh Chevre from Claremell Farms in Manotick. (at the top) I've never been fond of goat cheese, but I rather liked this stuff.
The second (going clockwise) was also a goat cheese, and the third (the greasy looking one) was made of sheep's milk. I can say that I discovered I like goat milk cheese better than sheep milk cheese.
The fourth cheese was made of cows milk, and is called Lakaaster. It's somewhat like cheddar in flavour, but not quite the same. It comes from Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster. This was my favourite of the five and I'll be wanting to buy some of that for sure. The 5th one remained on my plate, after just a tiny nibble. It was also a cow's milk cheese, so I did expect to like it.  Apparently I wasn't the only one that didn't care for that one as others sitting near me didn't eat it either. I guess my palette is not sophisticated enough to handle that yet. It's unfortunate that it was the last one, and I'm just glad I had a mint in my purse!
There were also numerous vendor stalls to browse through.  There were plants for sale, and houses for birds, bats, butterflies and bees. You could get your fortune told, or get a massage. There, were, of course, a lot with food related items, and I came home with a package of tortilla soup mix that I just have to add crushed tomatoes and water to. There was even a lady selling mixes for totally gluten free bread.

The most fascinating thing I saw were phone books that had been impregnated with mushroom spores, so you could grow your own mushroom farm. Unfortunately I'm the only one here who likes mushrooms and I was afraid it would produce too many for me to consume alone. I suggested they find some smaller growing medium for people like me.  I would have enjoyed just watching it grow, but I left it there.  The ones in the photo are pink oyster mushrooms. Pretty eh.

Then came the fairies.  Folk dancers worked their way through the rows of vendors stalls.  Occasionally a child would join them.  Too bad others didn't fall into line too. It could have been quite the sight!

Elsewhere there were food stalls and music to be enjoyed.  You could also visit the gardens, the greenhouse, and some other vendors in the Century Barn.  One of the gardens was even a small maze that you could walk through.  There was lots to see, and it was certainly an enjoyable way to spend the day.

While we did a lot of sampling at Herbfest we didn't actually eat until we were on the way home. We stopped at The Old Mill in Ashton.  This was also a new experience for us.  The building is old, as indicated in it's name, but it's nice to see they have found a way to use it.  It was quiet when we first went in, but it got much busier as time went on. The riverbed was pretty dry today, so I may have to go back there again sometime, if I want to enjoy the view.

Out and About

When I started this blog I said I'd report on the various places I go, other than when I'm out geocaching.  Apparently I have not been very good at that, as I'm often out somewhere and not telling you about it.  I'm going to make an attempt to rectify that.

Saturday we spent the morning hauling poplar branches to the dump. We had to have some large limbs removed after recent wind storms. There's still a lot to move yet, but 3 trailer loads was enough for one day. 

We decided to head to Perth, just to wander around, but when we got there we thought, since we had not been to Balderson for quite a while, we would go there instead. 

Things have certainly changed.  The Balderson Cheese Factory is where we used to take the kids for a nice ice cream treat way back when we still had kids at home.  They don't make cheese there anymore, but they still do sell cheeses and ice cream and other good food stuffs.  Two "small" cones, consisting of two large scoops of ice cream each, can still be had for just $5. 

What has really changed is that they have turned the old cheese factory into an Amish Store.  It's an amazing place.  We really enjoyed wandering through all the rooms and seeing all the interesting things they have to sell.  There were chairs in a wide variety of styles and I sat in several of these.  Who knew a simple wooden chair could be so comfortable!  The prices were high but I doubt these things would ever fall apart.

If you had a new baby, how could you resist a rocking chair and a cradle that are linked together.  You rock, and the cradle rocks too. Fantastic!

In the kitchen displays I noticed they had what looked like an old wood stove, but it was really an electric range.  I'm not sure that's "Amish" but it was certainly interesting to see.

The thing that fascinated us the most was the clocks.  Some where regular clock faces but you could also see the works behind the glass.  Others had their faces split in two or more pieces and when you pressed a button they would open and spin around while playing music.  I've never seen anything like that before. 

There were several different styles and once you got one working it would attract other people who would then press the button on another one.  While this was going on you would have no idea what time it was, but honestly, you really wouldn't care.  It's a genuine conversation piece.

We also discovered that within the shop there is a  nice little restaurant. Of course, by then we were already full of ice cream, but we'll remember to check this out next time we go.  They are even open early enough for breakfast.

We did stop at Stewart Park, in Perth, on the way back home.  There had been a wedding there earlier and the photographer was still taking pictures. The general public was also enjoying the water and shade. It's always a nice place to go to relax.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Taking Another Step Forward

The local United Church was going to hold a fund raiser they decided to call Hats & Hostas.  There is a  man in this village that grows over 100 different kinds of hostas, and he said that visitors could come and view his garden.  He would sit in the shade and play his keyboard and various local artists would sit in the garden and paint.  There would be a lovely tea held in the church hall, and the public could go there either before or after visiting the garden. 

I was asked if I'd like to sit in the garden and paint.  I thought they had to be kidding.  I live in a village full of artists, but I'm certainly don't consider myself to be one of them.  I have been taking painting classes for numerous years though, and my instructor encouraged me to take part.  No one else in the class would accept this challenge though. 

My first question was, "Will there be members of the local arts guild involved in this project?"  The answer was no. I felt somewhat better about that, as I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable working among them. I mean, I'm just not at that level, and I had no wish to totally embarrass myself. 

Then someone asked me if I had a hat, as you were supposed to wear one while sitting among the hostas.  The event was called, "Hats & Hostas" after all.  Well, hey, I have a hat!  I have a hat that is so grand, I'll likely never get a place to wear it.  I mean, where could I ever wear this thing?  If I wore it to a wedding, I'd outshine the bride!  So, I said I'd do it.  Nobody would ever notice what I was painting as they would all be so fascinated with the hat, they wouldn't be looking at what I was doing.  I decided to do it.

The event took place this past Saturday.  It was great fun actually.  It was very peaceful sitting among the hostas, painting hostas (of course).  I was working in watercolour, and since I didn't want to have to sit around waiting for paint to dry all afternoon, I got 3 underway before the event started.  I thought it would be more interesting for the people who came early in the day  not to find us all with blank paper.  My  instructor also thought that was a good idea and got hers started ahead of time too.
Mostly, I think the people were more interested in the hostas than in us, but we each had a few people comment on what we were doing.  One lady noticed I was using frisket, and said she always had difficulty with that.  The variegated hosta with the white around the edge required me to use that though, as the lines are too thin for me to have been sure I could preserve them any other way.  Since I was working on more than one painting at a time, none of them are anywhere near finished yet. 

It was an entirely new experience for me, and I think I've taken a step forward by doing this.  Would I do it again?  Sure, if someone had enough confidence in me to ask.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pleasant Surprises are in the Stars for Me

There must be something special in the way the stars are arranged lately. Something strange is going on around here.

Remember I told you, in May that my next door neighbour brought me her glass pot and one of her blooming tea balls?  I invited an old friend over to enjoy the experience and quickly ordered my own blooming
teas from China.  They have now arrived safely, and I also now have my own
glass teapot and am ready to start sharing this experience with 16 more

Anyway, that was just the first incident of a sudden pleasant surprise. There have been many more since then.

Friday one of my neighbours called to say she was going to Kemptville to
pick up this weeks specials.  While in the grocery store, she found this display of miniature roses that
were just being marked down. She started loading her cart with them.  There
were a couple of larger pots that were not being marked down, but she liked
the colour of one of them too, as it was an unusual shade of purple she had
never seen before, and there was just one so she grabbed it too.  Then she
picked up a pretty pink one and said that one was for me and she was buying it because I'm a good friend. 

Then we were in the meat department as she wanted some kabobs that were on sale.  They weren't on the shelf, so she asked about them.  The clerk went and fetched a box, but they were souvlaki as opposed to kabobs.  She wasn't interested in them but I sure was.  There were four in a package for just $2.79.  The clerk went back and got what she wanted, and I grabbed the 2 package per customer limit on the ones that were originally brought out.  My friend bought six packages of the ones she wanted, and then decided to get two of the other ones as well.  When we got home she took them out of her bag and plopped them into mine.  She said she bought them for me since there was that 2 per person limit.  We put our groceries away and I invited her for lunch.  I paid her for the meat, which she wasn't expecting, but I did accept the gift of the rose.  It's now planted out under my kitchen window and I sure hope it lives through the current heat spell.

Recently a local church held a Fashion Show and Tea, and I was one of the models. Yesterday I went to Doree's Habit, with plans to spend the $20 gift certificate I was given for having done the job.  That was totally unexpected too, since I was already able to enjoy the tea party without
paying the $10 admittance just for having taken part in the show.  I looked around the shop and  found this cute little black hat that turned out to be the an even swap for the gift certificate.

Last month a cyber buddy of mine finally took up geocaching after listening to my stories for the past several years. He wrote about his first geocaching experience, and blamed me for the whole thing.  Since then he seems to have become hooked on these little adventures, and this morning I discovered he had gifted me a full year's Premium Membership at . This was totally out of the blue, and a great surprise, since I think about upgrading my membership every year, but have never done it.

All this got me thinking and I realized that within the past week I have also received fresh lettuce when I walked by the home of friend who had just picked some from her garden. Another friend had been cleaning out her closet and was taking some things to the Salvation Army, but she saved a couple of red and purple garments for me to use in my Red Hatter outings. And yesterday my daughter-in-law brought me some rhubarb from the cottage. I had not managed to get any rhubarb this year, until now, so that was greatly appreciated.   

Businesses are getting in on this gifting thing this week too.  Last week I received a nice mug from Harper Collins just for "liking" them on Facebook and today Kashi sent me a new product. It's soft baked bar in an apple strawberry flavour. They also sent a $2 off coupon so I could by some more, or try the blackberry ones. 

I don't know what's going on, but I'm starting to really enjoy all these pleasant surprises.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Oh Deer, oh Deer

For many years I had a small garden in the back yard and various flower gardens scattered around the property.  I learned a long time ago that deer liked tulips and started planting early, middle and late varieties, so that no matter which ones the deer got each year (and they always got some) the others would still bloom.

It was always a big joke that the darn deer would wait until the one tulip that was left to grow by my side door was just about to bloom before one of these wise guys would suddenly chomp it down.  My hubby would burst into laughter.  Other people would tell me to get a dog.  I not only had a dog at the time, but he slept just inside that doorway. He never paid any attention to the deer.

In the garden I grew many things over the years, but had finally settled on tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. I liked to stir fry that combination for my lunch. I'd check the zucchini every day, waiting for it to be just the size I wanted. Apparently the deer liked that size too, as it would always have bites out of it, or be just about polished off when I'd decide to go out to pick it. If it was a dry year, the deer would bite off the tomatoes, suck the juices out of them, and then spit them back into the garden. I'm pretty sure they chomped on the pepper plants too, but I really can't remember now. I do know there was absolutely no point in trying to grown green beans as the deer really liked those plants.

Gardeners in this neighbourhood tried every kind of deer deterrent, including human hair and one male neighbour even tried peeing around his garden plot. Nothing worked. I eventually gave up wasting my money on what I had come to think of as "deer food" and I have not planted a vegetable garden since.

Then we had the winter with the really deep snow, and between that and the culling of deer about the same time in Lanark county (they were destroying too many farmer's crops too), and the increase in coyotes, the deer population went down considerably.  Thankfully I was no longer hearing stories every week of people I know hitting a deer.  The roadways had become safer, and it seemed the gardens had too.
I had just thought it would be nice to pull out the blackberries the birds had kindly planted in what used to be my veggie garden (AFTER this year's crop, of course) and maybe plant a real garden next year.  I rather miss having my own lunch time veggies growing here. Then this morning a neighbour phoned and told me there was a deer out behind her house and it had been there for at least 20 minutes. She told me to come on over and watch it with her. 

The grass is long in that field, and while we stood on the deck and watched, the deer stood in the shade of some bushes, happily munching away.  She knew we were there and stopped to look at us from time to time, but never made any attempt to move away from us. 

Eventually she crossed the ditch into the field on the other side, and then started walking towards the nearest house.  She seemed totally unconcerned that it was broad daylight and there was really no place for her to hide if she felt the need. 

I'm told there was a deer with a fawn in the field the other day. I don't know if this was the same deer, or another one, but I do know that they are not usually alone like this in these parts.  There have been as many as 17 deer in that field, all at the same time.  They think nothing of crossing the street to get to my yard.  I may not have the vegetable garden anymore (or the tulips either since they managed to get all three varieties a few years back) but I do still have an apple tree that they seem to like.  I found out last year that they are very fond of hostas too.  Oh, that reminds me.....I better get out there and put some Irish Spring on top of some garden stakes or I'll wake up some morning and find nothing but hosta stems.  Irish Spring, by the way, actually seems to work if you suspend it just above the height of the plant you are trying to protect. 

I guess the blackberries can stay after all.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Canada Day in Eastern Ontario

We had choices to make as there were Canada Day festivities all over the place.  We decided it would be a nice day to spend by the water, so we headed to Brockville for Riverfest.  It's been years since we've done that! We got to town just in time to see the parade.  Honestly, it wasn't any bigger than the one they have in Merrickville, but at least it didn't have as many firetrucks in it. I took a photo of that one year, and managed to get I think  the entire parade in just one frame of my camera. Kemptville has the best parade around these parts. 

The Dock Dogs competition was at Riverfest today.  I've never seen that before, and it was great fun. The dog owners throw something in the pool for the dogs to retrieve.  The rules state that the object must float, be none edible and be retrievable.  The dogs had all kinds of interesting toys to fit the bill.  Some of the dogs had done this before, and knew the routine. Others had never done it before, and thought twice about going off the edge of the platform.  That made things interesting as then the owners had to find a way to get the dog to jump into the water, without actually pushing or pulling them off the dock.  Only one dog flat out refused.  But later in the day, even that one figured out he was missing out on the fun, and jumped off the dock with no hesitation during the second round.  There was a competition to see how far they could jump, another to see how high they could jump, and a third to see how fast they could retrieve something from the far end of the pool.  A good time was had by all.....especially the dogs!

Other things we saw today were a karate demonstration put on by the Brockville Karate Club, various musical performances, and the Wildcat II, a boat that takes people for a wild and speedy ride....but it had some kind of problem and had to come back to shore.  Too bad too as I really wanted to see how fast that thing could go.

There was an area for children that had such things as a petting zoo, a pony ride, facepainting. There was also an area there where the budding artists could make chalk drawings if they wanted to.  Apparently it was not just the kids that were enjoying that.  Too bad all this work will be washed away in the next rain.

We went for a lovely lunch of fish and chips at Buds On The Bay and then went back to the park for another walk around (to wear all that food off) before heading home. 

This evening we went to watch the local firework display.  I feel like I packed the whole weekend into just one day.  I'll be happy to sit around and read for the rest of the weekend......or maybe just sleep.  It was a really great Canada Day this year.