Monday, February 28, 2011

A little bit of a splurge...

I'm not one to spend money on "stuff". If I really need it I buy it and I mean dire need. For example, I'll replace my girly underthings only when the elastic is done, white becomes gray and only when material is threadbare and holes start to appear. That goes for clothes as well ...

But on Friday, Art and I made stop at a local second hand store, and I found something I absolutely love, which has no functional use, it just makes me happy to have it and see it everyday. But then again it might just have some function...if I can find inspiration in it and get my creative juices flowing...

In addition I purchased a pair of jeans and a vintage yellow dress, made of 100% silk and fully lined. It's a large size so lots of material to work with, not sure what I'll make, thinking of a skirt...

Friday, February 25, 2011

My furry family...

I never thought of myself as a cat person, dogs were my thing. Dogs will do almost anything just to be with their owner, their love is never ending, they are always happy to see you. Their silly grins and antics will turn any frown into a smile. I look forward to taking my dog on a walk after work and no matter how tough my day was, my laugh can likely be heard a block away as my dog, in all his excitement, trips and stumbles off the side walk, really he can be quite silly.

And then one day, a visit to the vet with our dog, brought us face to face, with two tiny, little critters, the future Miss Daisy and Dagwood, litter mates, looking for a nice home.

That was then...

This is now....Miss Daisy helping me in my office. No matter how many times I push her off, if she wants to up there, she will be up there, end of story!

...and Dagwood waiting for a little morsel of something, anything, from my dinner plate. He is a much bigger moocher than his pal Seiko. He meows for " I want out", "I want in", "make it stop raining", "I want a snack", "I'm just meowing to piss you off"... No kidding, he can drive me to distraction. He is the most vocal cat I've ever come across...

And let's never, ever forget my pal Seiko, keeping guard and ready for a good chase, especially if you are a bear, raccoon, squirrel or chipmunk.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Braised pork

These boneless loin chops are an inexpensive cut of meat but boy are they bland and tough. I tried to just fry them but that did not work so well unless of course you are want to strengthen your jaw, chew, chew and chew some more...

Braising these gives them some flavour and makes them tender enough to eat with a fork.

All you need are some pork loins, salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, garlic, white wine, and broth.

Salt, pepper and brown the pork on medium high heat.

Remove the pork, lower the heat and add the chopped garlic, sage and rosemary. Stir for a few minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

De glaze the pan by adding the wine and broth (water will also work), stirring up the brown bits, bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes. You want enough liquid so the pork is almost covered.

Lower the heat to simmer and put the pork back in the pan, cover and simmer for about an hour, until the pork is very tender, flipping the pork a few times during the process.

Remove the pork and keep warm under foil. Turn the heat on high and reduce the pan juices until thick about 20 minutes...did you let it reduce to much? just add a little more water, nothing to worry about. Lower the heat again and place the pork back in the pan, turn once or twice to cover the pork.

Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies.

Easy and delicious and this method also works really well with chicken, just remember that it has to simmer really, really low. One word of caution...careful with the salt at the beginning of the dish because as the juices reduce the flavour concentrates and can become quite salty if you added too much at the beginning. You can always add some salt at the end if needed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When man...

...plans, God laughs.

A little while ago I posted that our February weather seldom gets long periods of sub zero temperatures. Oh sure, we have had snow in February, quite a lot sometimes, but it usually passes quickly. Not this year. And this is the year I "planned" on early planting in my new cold frames. Well that is a no-go. Nothing is sprouting and the ground is slightly frozen....I guess I'll start again when this Arctic air heads back North. And more bad news, the broccoli seeds I started, which I said I would not do, sprouted but I didn't check on them yesterday, and I guess yesterday was the day they decided to bolt and look for light, so in just a day, they are long and yellow, I guess I'll have to restart those to.

And now for the good news. This sunny but cold weather is beautiful and lifts my spirits. The bright skies seem to stay brighter a little longer and afternoon walks in this crisp cool air are invigorating.

Everything just seems a little brighter, look at these snow capped mountains on Vancouver Island, just gorgeous!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Art took this picture yesterday at 6:30am. Neither of us are very good with our camera but this shot of the moon taken from our backyard was an effort to show how big the moon was. Sadly it does not look nearly as big in the picture as it did in real life but I like the shot all the same.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The week....

...I would like to say, is almost over but for me it's just starting.'s been a crazy week and I'm glad that today was quiet and I had a chance to sit, drink some coffee, read the paper and oh happy days, I got bathroom breaks to.

It's been busy, really busy, top it off with the dinner event I had on Feb. 14th and my feet are just now starting to feel somewhat normal.

This post is really about last weekend, I'm just now getting to write about it. It started with chaos and ended with chaos! Run Margaret run. See how Margaret runs? Will Margaret blow a gasket? Oh yes...

Then a small miracle, a customer comes in with a brown paper bag full of sewing patterns. She read my blog and knows that I like to sew. My customer, Lee Mackenzie, a local artist, used to sew professionally but decided some time ago that painting was her artistic passion. It was time to clear out some of her sewing patterns...and... I got them. Lee. together with two other local artists share a storefront studio on Marine Drive in Powell River. You can view Lee's art at Monkey tree Studio.

Now you might ask yourself what a bag of patterns and a busy weekend have in common. Well... I did not have any time to look through the bag when Lee first dropped it off but I knew the contents, and the anticipation alone got me through the weekend. I was thinking about what I would sew, what materials I might use and how I would fit the patterns. That bag of patterns got me through a very chaotic weekend, Monday and Tuesday and into a blissful Wednesday, my day off.
I quietly sat in my craft room, with the snow falling outside, a cup of coffee in hand, and slowly I went through the bag of patterns. It was wonderful. Thanks Lee.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Ever heard of it? Me neither...until I read the "The 0 mile diet" a book about growing veggies year round. The reason I really like this book is because it's specific to my growing region. Of course bits and pieces of information can be taken from it and other books for any growing region but I really like that I can open this book and take the information on any given page and apply it to my backyard.

Anyway oca (Oxalis Tuberosa), aka New Zealand Yam, can be grown in my back yard.
The following information is taken directly from the book " Oca has ornamental oxalis-like leaves that make an attractive ground cover. During summer, the swollen stems (stolons) grow above ground and spread; when the days shorten, they go underground and swell into plump little tubers. There are many different species of oca around the world. prepared in different ways. In North America they are enjoyed as potatoes, as the fleshy tubers a good source of carbohydrate. They can be drizzled with olive oil and roasted for 25 minutes, or tossed into winter soups and baked in veggie casseroles. These tubers can multiply like mad. Oca tolerates cool weather; the tubers can stay in the ground without freezing over mild winters, but the foliage dies down as soon as hard frosts appear. The tubers don't shrivel in storage, but actually stay firm and can be eaten as needed through winter."

Sounds good to me!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dumpster diving....

Although I live in a relatively mild area of Canada, if I want to start veggies early I need a cold frame. I asked Art what the cost would be...about 100.00 he replied...yikes. Well Art, you have about 20.00, and this is what he has come up with.

The wood for this cold frame was salvaged from a demolition about a block from our diner and the plastic is a left over piece from my son's renovations. The lighter color wood was originally a raised bed Art made for me last year. Art found that wood washed up on Powell Lake.

In it I planted some mesclun, butter crunch lettuce and radishes.

Tuesdays Art takes all the garbage and the recycling to the dump and on this last dump run he found some old windows. Using an existing raised bed, Art will add some wood cut at a 45 degree, then attach the window with some hinges. He still has one more window to use. Wow, three cold frames, dollars spent? 0...

He found these pieces of plastic in the Walmart dumpster. They were used for a tent of some sort. My thought is to place row covers over them to protect some of my veggies from bugs. Not sure if it will work...the row covers might be too narrow. If that doesn't work then I'll likely make them higher and use them as temporary green houses for tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

And finally here is my garlic. It's about 4 inches high. This is my first time growing garlic and I'm hopeful that it will grow well for me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Remember the post about the pants I was going to sew? Well they are finished, and I'm wearing them.

They were very easy to sew and I'm mostly happy with the way they turned out. The crotch is not quite right, it's a little too long even after cutting away what I thought was a significant amount, thus making the waist a little high. I'm not sure I'll make any more pants, I think I'll just stick with skirts and tops. All the pants I've made over the years have never been quite right...and I can't sew a fly zipper to save my life so I think I'll just leave it.

Next on the cutting table is a wrap around skirt made with soft hazelnut corduroy...this one should work out quite well...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Leather...leather and more leather

My dear brother in law asked if I wanted some leather samples he no longer needs from his furniture store...of course I do, I said.

I don't really have any great ideas but I must be able to use these somehow. They are all different colors and all are 17 inches square and I think I must have about 200 samples.
Purses, wallets, slipper bottoms, patches....
Any ideas? Anyone? Patterns.....

Thanks JJ, love the leather, now I just have to get busy with it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

seeds, seeds and more seeds

It's time for me to make an effort to organize my seeds, well at least figure out what I have so I know what to buy...
If I was a real gardener, rather than the pretend one that I am, I would catalog my seeds and make notes on how well they grew....I would keep a garden journal and fill it with useful information about this and that and the other and maybe even a pressed flower or two, hmmmm!
I have two recurring problems, actually I have many problems but in the seed department just two.
I forget what I have and buy more of the same seeds and forget to start seeds in the summer for fall crops. That's it, just two.
So...I now have a list of the seeds. I will perform seed germination tests, oh yes I will. How you ask? Super some seeds, about 20, between damp paper towels, then into Ziploc bags placed on a warm surface, like the top of the fridge, they should sprout in a few days, if most of the seeds sprout I'm good and if they don't, I'll have to toss them. See easy!
And now onto problem number two...I mustn't forget to start the seeds. And my solution for this second problem? I researched each vegetable to determine the start date for summer and fall harvests, and put that date in my Outlook calendar. Outlook will give a reminder on the due date and all I have to do is do the deed...and not dismiss the reminder.
I won't bore you with a list of my seeds, but honestly, do I need six different types of chicories?