Saturday, June 16, 2018

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You!

Recently I finally got my hands on enough rhubarb to make my annual rhubarb cookies. I mentioned them on Facebook and immediately people commented that they had never heard of rhubarb cookies before, and they asked for the recipe.

Well, I have given out this recipe many times but I do so with reluctance as I usually get a complaint later that it didn't turn out. It didn't turn out because people think they know what they are doing and don't follow the recipe. This recipe has to be followed if you want any kind of success. Do what it says, in the order it says to do it, Don't skip things. Be prepared to start the night before you plan to bake. If, by chance you end up with not enough liquid in the cooking pot after draining the required amount off, add just enough back into the pot to keep the rhubarb from sticking. You don't want this saucy. The rhubarb can be steamed, instead of stewed.. Be sure not to overcook it as you want it tender but still firm enough to be able to stir it into the dough.

Here's the recipe. Good luck.  I'd be happy to hear of your success!

                                                        Rhubarb Cookies

1/2 cup margarine                                          
1 cup brown sugar                                          
1 egg                                                         
1 cup cooked rhubarb, drained ***                
2 cups flour                                                     
1/4 tsp salt                                                         
1 tsp baking soda                                           
1 tsp nutmeg                                                  
1 tsp cinnamon                                                  
1/2 tsp ground cloves                                    
1 cup raisins          

*** Note:  It is important to cook the rhubarb as follows:
Slice 4 cups of rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces.
Toss with 1/2 cup of sugar.
Let steep overnight. Pour off 3/4 of a cup of the liquid and cook the rhubarb in the remaining juice, just until tender but still holding it's shape (less than 5 minutes).
The rhubarb is then ready to use in this recipe, or others, eat as is, or freeze.                                          

Cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the egg and beat until light
Stir in rhubarb.
Stir the flour, salt, baking soda and spices together.
Stir the dry ingredients into the rhubarb mixture until the are blended.
Fold in raisins.
Drop the batter by tablespoons onto a greased sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake at 350F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Colour in the Garden!

April showers bring May flowers......except when they don't.  This year we had a late April snow storm and a drought in May so the flowers only showed up on the very last day. But they are here now and I'm so happy to see them that I just have to share.

Both my peonies and iris are blooming right now, and I have several varieties of each.

 Besides this single red peony pictured above, I have a white one that I just love

as well as the more the common fluffy red and and pink ones.

Currently there are three more varieties that have not opened yet.

Of the irises I have, this one is my favorite.

with this one being a close second.

This purple iris is my most common one and I have clumps of them all over the place. I've given away so many of them over the years that I have trouble finding homes for them now.  I do wish the ones above would multiply more quickly but though I've had them several years, I still have just one small clump of each with just a few blooming stems on each.

The yellow iris my neighbour gave me have really brightened up the back corner of my garden and it looks like they might give the purple one a run for their money over time.

I have a couple of other mixed coloured iris as well, but I'm not all that fond of them as they have smaller blooms and are bordering on ugly. I expect I will likely replace them as I find others I can't live without.
The chives, along with the peonies and iris by my kitchen door, add colour while we wait for other things to bloom.

You may remember this overgrown section from my last post, but it has colour now.

As the bleeding heart end their cycle, a lot of other things are ready to take over.  I'm so happy to see the colour returning to the garden after such a long winter.

I hope I've managed to brighten up your day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Spring Ritual

In my last post, I suggested that you get more done if you can get yourself to focus on just one thing. This warmer weather has me focusing on my garden. In the meantime, the house is gathering dust and the usual piles of clutter.

Even in the garden I'm feeling overwhelmed. I had knee problems the past two summers so I couldn't dig. I grow lots of bulbs and perennials and everything seems to be overgrown now, and I expect to do a lot of digging and rethinking over this gardening season.

If I wanted to plant something new, or even divide and replant anything, I will no doubt run into a shovel full of bulbs. At this time of the year I like to leave them alone so they can gather strength for next year's blooms.  Even then, I'll have way too many as I've lived here for over 40 years and they just keep multiplying.

Where the bulbs aren't crowding the perennials, the perennials have grown over the bulbs and corms. I will wait until after the leaves of these die down also, before digging things up and reassigning space.

The flower strip between my place and my neighbours (formerly known as the fence garden before their old pool fence was removed) gives us both lots of pleasure with its assorted blooms, but the perennials there are currently battling for space and have managed somehow to intermix. My main job here will be to clear out anything that is encroaching on my peonies.  It means a lot of digging, and I'm thinking it's time to reduce this to nothing but peonies, daylilies and flowering bushes. That will have to happen gradually.

Some of the flowering bushes didn't do well this winter and I need to get in and cut out the dead wood. Even the apple tree seems to have a problem this year. The bark has stripped right off parts of it.  There is also another dead branch higher up. The hubby will have to take care of that branch but this may be the last year for this old tree.

The half with the bark problem isn't flowering, but the other half is making up for it and the lilac bushes are blooming too.

There is a nice little red maple that has appeared out front in my accent garden. I have to move that soon as it's growing right over the gas line.

In fact, that entire garden has become overgrown as I've been afraid to dig there since the gas line went in several years ago. I'd like to eliminate it entirely, but have waited too long once again. There are a few things in there I'd like to save and plant somewhere else.

At least I can report that my rock river project is starting to shape up nicely. The forsythia I bought last fall bloomed for me this spring and the new little globe cedar is looking good too. The weigela that I thought was dead is showing life.  I just need a few more big stones and some river rocks now.

My new raised garden is off to a slow start but there are baby tomatoes, lettuce and carrots in there so far, and a couple of things I found growing in my yard, which may turn out to be nothing but wild cucumbers, but I'm curious so they are in there too for now.

There is a lot to do, and as you may have guessed, I've been distracted from this story by one of those other chair legs. I've managed to clear out a huge pile of weeds that started to flower. I had to tackle that to prevent them from reseeding.

The goutweed likes to keep me busy too!  It's not mine, but it apparently wants to be.  I have peonies back there and I much prefer them so I have to draw a strict line as to where it is allowed to be. I think it will win this battle eventually.  I may have to relocate the peonies. But knowing goutweed, I'd likely end up with some of the roots getting transplanted too and start the problem in a whole new spot. Honestly, I'm getting too old for this fight!

Well, I think you have some idea what I've been up to outdoors around here.  At least I'm getting some exercise while I'm at it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Get That Chair Out of the Way

Lion tamer, Clyde Beatty was the first person to bring a chair into the circus ring to tame lions and other large cats.  A whip is just for show but a chair has a real purpose. the lion gets confused when confronted by the four legs of the chair all at once and rather than attack, it sits and waits. Likewise, when you have too many tasks in front of you confusion will set in and you won't accomplish much of anything.

Spring is such an incredibly busy time of year for me. Not only do I attempt spring cleaning indoors but the gardens need to be cleaned up too. A bit of early planting wouldn't hurt either. On top of that, I do taxes for everyone in this family and am grateful that is finally out of the way.

Mother Nature has discouraged me from doing much outside work so far, but I did manage to haul some rocks from a neighbour's house to my rock river last week.  I do need a few more though. This week promises better weather. I have a lot of dead stuff to cut down yet, as I left some of it over winter for the birds. It will be harder to rake the leaves out of the flower beds as it's been left so late this year and all my millions of bulb are growing well, and many are even flowering.

Spring cleaning got off to a good start but has now stalled as I got busy doing other things. Oh, and once again I'm adding fuel to my fire by doing various art projects. I've just finished a five-day course on drawing facial features and started another face drawing course this week with a different teacher. I'm also trying to at least watch the videos for a Sketchbook Revival course, and wishing I could find the time to do at least some of the class work along with the others involved. The card making course I started before Christmas still has not been completed as I keep getting involved in card exchanges with other students throughout the world.  I'm just finishing one of those now. So much to do, so little time, and it's easy to get confused as to where to turn next.

 Many people don't have trouble focusing on a task once they get started but they do have trouble deciding on what to do.  We all have to learn to get the chair out of the way and choose a task. Today I chose to finally post to this blog. Next, I will do my month end accounting for my business, and then I will get out to mail the latest batch of cards and do some garden work while I'm out there. At noon I'll watch a live presentation on attacking how to draw a face while I have my lunch. After doing some housework, or perhaps more gardening, I'll do my homework for that course. Supper is already made, thank goodness.  I'm sure I'll get distracted along the way, but I have a course of action and am bound to succeed at accomplishing some of it today.  I can already check the blog post off the list, eh.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Did You See That?

Did you see that?

I probably didn't.

I'm always amazed at how other see things I don't notice. But then, I probably see things they don't notice either.

I've been in a car with three other people who discussed some of the houses we were passing. I was totally amazed that they could recall the previous colour or some bush that used to grow by the foundation or what, to me, were just random houses. If you showed me a picture of any of those homes, I would not have recognized them. I guess I don't pay as much attention to what's flowing by while I'm a passenger. There have been times when I'm sure if I was put out of the car on the way to Ottawa I would have to walk a long way before I recognized something that would even give me a clue as to which road we had taken that day. Apparently, I'm not absorbing my surroundings as well as I should be.

A bad accident happened right in front of us on the way home one day. I was looking out the side window at the time of the initial crash and didn't see what happened at all. When I looked forward there was a red truck in the air doing a Dukes of Hazard trick, and I clearly saw the danger of the tires and other stuff that were flying towards us out of the back of the truck. That whole scene was almost in slow motion and stayed with me quite a while.

The brain is an amazing organ but while it is bombarded with so much visual imagery every moment of every day, it simply cannot process it all. It tends to edit it and simplify the information.

I'm learning to draw so while I study what's in front of me, training myself to actually see that object or scene, I'm probably so absorbed in the process of trying to render it accurately that I might miss that you have just made a silly face at me or the dog has just stolen my sandwich.

Police will question multiple witnesses not just to verify that what they are hearing is the truth, but because each person probably saw something some of the others didn't even notice. I have come across an interesting video that gives you real insight into just what it is you see, or don't see. Go watch the video HERE. I'd be really interested in hearing your results.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Ottawa Home and Garden Show

I managed to win a couple of tickets to the Ottawa Home and Garden Show and I got my hubby to take a day off so we could go. He chose Thursday, opening day, and we picked up the tickets across town from Ottawa Home Services shortly before the doors opened. I thought perhaps there would be a long lineup for the opening but if there was it was gone by the time we arrived and it wasn't crowded in there at all. It was great to be able to wander around and see everything without having to wait for others to get out of the way.

I've been to the EY Centre for other events at one end or the other but was pleasantly surprised to find that they could open sections up and make the display area bigger. This show took up three areas, side by side, connected by doorways I never knew existed before.  No wonder it didn't seem crowded!

I had seen pictures on social media of the work being done to construct the garden area. That was quite impressive, and the results were stunning. There were food concessions over in that section too, but by then we had already eaten.

One of my friends mentions he never goes to these events as he generally ends up buying something he later wished he hadn't. I talked to several tradespeople about some jobs that need doing around our place. I gathered cards and brochures, was given a collapsible plastic water bottle and a bookmark ate some of the candies available at the displays and filled in a few contest forms. I saw one or two products that I would happily have brought home but I wanted to see everything first. I've learned that if I jump on a deal too soon I find something I'd rather have had later so I always like to see everything that is offered before I make my choice. I often manage to talk myself out of such purchases before going home too.  Hubby, however, was quite taken with a silicone squeegee that got windows and mirrors spotlessly clean with no streaks at all.  I was even given the chance to clean a window myself and I have to admit it worked far better than my current method, Usually, I have to rewash some of my windows a few times to get rid of the streaks. Of course, there is always this deal where they offer you more if you buy it during the show, or in this case, if you are one of the first 50. The price was really high enough that I'm sure there was no real deal to be had, but we have two very large windows and one of them is very difficult to clean from the outside. The very idea that this tool will help is what sold us. It will be getting a good workout soon.

Earlier in the day, I was able to dodge a bigger bullet as I was scooped into a chair where a guy applied a product under my eyes that magically removed all traces of any bags, circles or wrinkles. He just did one eye first so I could see the difference. Well, there is always a difference with my eyes anyway, since I've had Bells Palsy and the other side of my face is ageing faster than the side he chose.  So yes, I saw a dramatic difference between the two eyes. I did, however, tell him that I would have been more impressed if he had done the bad side. So then he did that one too, which was good as I didn't want to walk around the rest of the day looking totally weird. The product did it's magic and made that eye younger too. He started to tell me which other products he would be throwing in as part of their early bird special. I said something about how I expected this all to be rather expensive. He said, "Oh, no.  Botox would be expensive and this is much cheaper." The price came in somewhere well over $300 and while he went to fetch a bag, I was able to escape from his chair. He seemed totally surprised that I wasn't taking him up on this deal. While it looked like it would fix any issues I'm starting to see in my face, I still think I'm doing rather well for my age. There is no way I want to start spending that sort of money knowing full well that once you start you would never suddenly want to see those wrinkles again when you ran out of the product in 6 months. I had a hard enough time growing out my natural hair colour!  This product pulled the skin tight and was not at all soft to the touch. I knew I had made the right choice when the product cracked and created verticle lines under my eyes. That certainly isn't becoming, not is it a natural look. At least not for me.  I'll keep my wee lines. I've earned them.

It was a lovely day out, but of course, by the time we paid for gas, lunch and the window washing system, it was hardly free. Maybe I'll win something.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Trick of the Eyes

One never knows what the next day will bring. Sometimes it's something good you weren't expecting and sometimes it's quite the opposite.
One day, more than 15 years ago, during a routine eye exam, I was told I had developed cataracts. For a few years, I was told to get my eyes checked every six months. OHIP covered that and I suddenly no longer had to pay for eye exams while my hubby still did, at least until he was 65. The cataracts have never developed to the point where it was time to have them removed and eventually the eye exams became more of a yearly thing.
This year, when I went to have my eyes examined, the optometrist discovered there was elevated pressure on my eyes and she sent me to a specialist. There I discovered that the cataracts were actually pushing my irises forward causing the natural fluid drainage system to be blocked. I was told I had closed angle glaucoma and was being scheduled for laser surgery. The idea was to prevent damage to the optic nerve so I wouldn't go blind.
I always say that no matter how healthy you are, by the time you turn 60 your body starts to play tricks on you. One moment I'm fine and even my cataracts aren't ready to come out, and the next, the darn things are creating another way to cause me to lose my sight.
It took just over a month to get my laser surgery. In the meantime, I had a chance to do some research. I found that they would freeze my eyeballs, just like when they did the pressure test, and then I'd have my eyes zapped and it would all be over in less than five minutes. The operation would create a new hole in my iris so the fluid could drain into my bloodstream and relieve the pressure.
There were all kinds of warnings to follow the doctor's instructions after the proceedure. I also read warnings of how I might experience scratchy eyes, blurred vision and/or bloodshot eyes. All this would last just a matter of hours or at most, a couple of days. I felt well prepared and not nervous at all, though I wasn't sure we could still enjoy the evening out we already had planned for that night. We were scheduled to celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary, which was the very next day.
We showed up at the hospital where I was given registration documents and told to go up the stairs and proceed three-quarters of the way down the hall until we came to a big eyeball. We went all the way but found no such symbol so we found someone to direct us. Once seated in the waiting area we had been sent to I noticed a sign that listed two doctors whose patients that area was meant for.  My doctor was not one of them. I went to a deserted registration area down the hall where I had to ring a bell and disturb someone who told me that was the right place to wait. Several minutes later she directed someone else to the same area and told him to put his registration forms in the bin hanging on the wall in the corridor leading off the main hallway just across from where I was waiting. I still had my forms as no one had told me to do that. I deposited my forms into the bin and hoped that I was doing the right thing.
The area was getting more crowded as everyone came with another to drive them home. Eventually, a man came out with a handful of registration forms and started putting drops in all the waiting patient's eyes. Everyone but me, that is. As he walked away everyone turned and stared at me. I had heard him say the drops would take about 20 minutes to work so I said, "You are being dilated. I'm going to be frozen."  Freezing only takes seconds I discovered when it was done during the examination I'd had previously. So, of course, I got called in first.
The doctor explained that some people have told him they feel "something" like a little electric shock or a pinprick perhaps, while others don't feel anything at all. He just wanted me to be aware that I might feel something and not to worry about it. He did not freeze my eyes. He just shone a light into each eye and told me to stare straight ahead and then zapped me. I felt nothing in the first eye which he said went easier than expected. I felt it in the second one, however,  and he actually zapped that one twice. I wouldn't call it painful though. 
He said he would send a report to my optometrist. I am under no restrictions and can even resume my exercise class. I have no drops or follow up visit to make.  He said he doesn't need to see me again and the next time I'm to go to my regular optometrist is next year for my yearly exam.
I am not bloodshot, nor do I have scratchy eyes or blurred vision. The whole experience was very quick and easy and the threat of blindness has been eliminated. I was not expecting any of this but it has a  happy ending. I am very thankful for modern science.
I wonder what trick my body will play on me next.