Maine or bust!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tired, but feeling accomplished!

So I didn't get the vacuuming done this weekend (I'll do it tonight). I did get some awesome jam made, went to the gym, and took the kids to a movie. I'm now very sore, tired (thank you neighbors, for gabbing on the balcony until well after 2am - right outside my bedroom window!) and wishing I could have a nap, but I feel pretty good about all I got done.

Tonight's plans are going to be a bit more mellow. I might make some soup for dinner (vegetable cocktail base, baby bok choy, a small turnip, an onion, and some canned corn and frozen peas) with sausages, and we'll get the vacuuming done & put some laundry in. But other than that, I plan on relaxing, knitting, and going to bed early. I do have to put some strawberries through the blender to make some fruit leather (they'll go bad if I don't) for the kids, but that's a 5 minute job! (note to self: remember to put either plastic wrap or waxed paper on the tray, or you'll NEVER get the stuff out of there!)

I really wish I could take next week off to head to Chicago, but it's my first week flying solo at work, and my boss has already set a meeting with me (apparently I have to go to DC for training in October). Why can't I be independently wealthy and have a private plane jet me down there whenever I want some cuddling? Oh yeah... one must EARN the independently wealthy bit... ;) Working on that! (note to self: check lottery tickets).

On the knitting front, I am SO excited about my new project. It's small, it's fiddly, and it's a steep learning curve for me (hint: I'm knitting SOCKS) but I can't show you just yet, since it's a test-knit for a friend. Sock the first is coming along nicely though. :) Maybe I'll make it through the 2nd pattern repeat this evening. I'm a bit sad that I've run out of CSI Miami to watch (no more Horatio.... whatever will David Caruso do with himself now?) so I'm currently on a rewatch of the first season of Glee (yes, I like Glee). I might get an episode in this evening, I might not. I'm kind of "meh" about the whole thing.

Ooooh remember that movie I said I took the kids to see? We went to see Brave. See it. See it again. Best Disney film I've seen in YEARS. SEE EET. I'm going to go back to feeling lazy and sore now LOL

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pineapple Express!

I had all kinds of ambitious plans today. I was going to make strawberry muffins and rhubarb cake (so as to use up the bounty of fruit in my fridge before it went bad), but when I opened the fridge, I noticed that the plastic tub for the pineapple I had bought was leaking! GAH. Pineapple juice all over my nice clean fridge! Well, after cleaning that up, I realized that I'd have to do something with that pineapple right away, or say goodbye to it. So I poked around my cookbook collection (disappoint!) and fired up my trusty Google, and I found the answer - Pineapple jam!

It was such an awesome, delicious success that I'm not even waiting for the jars to cool before sharing it with you guys :) Recipe will be featured below. Start by prepping your fruit:

You can also use canned pineapple and juice for this recipe, but I prefer fresh.
One trick I've recently learned is to mix your pectin crystals with 1/4 cup of sugar and mix it in with your uncooked fruit before heating it up:

I'm going to have to get a bigger pot though, because the jam splatters something awful while at the "full rolling boil" stage.

And then process the way I would most fruit jams (hot water bath for 5-10 minutes).

Now, I'll confess that it was looking a little too chunky for my taste before I added the rest of the sugar (once it had boiled), so I put about half of it into my Ninja and blended it smooth, then added it back to the pot. Sue me, I like my jam to be spreadable :) There was a tiny bit left over after I filled the four half-pint jars, and I tasted a bit, and it is so sweet and intense, I am very happy with how it turned out! The recipe makes four half-pints as opposed to the five it said it would, but it's so delicious, I won't hold that against anyone :)

Pineapple Jam (makes 4 half-pints)

1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped finely
6 oz pineapple juice (I didn't have any, so I used water)
1 pkg light pectin crystals
3 cups sugar

Chop the pineapple and place in a large saucepan. Combine pectin crystals with 1/4 cup of the sugar and add to the fruit mixture. Add the pineapple juice (or water) to the saucepan and heat over high heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture has reached a full, rolling boil, gradually add the remaining sugar. Return to a full, rolling boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and continue stirring for 5 minutes (this prevents the fruit from floating in the jars). Ladle the jam into half-pint or pint jars with 1/4" head space. Place caps and rings on fingertip tight. Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes and let cool on counter. Once sealed, store in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate any jars that fail to seal.

Enjoy your bottled sunshine! :D

Four half-pints of pure sunshine!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More jam and other various projects...

Last night was grocery night, and the kids were a bit more helpful than usual :) It was a somewhat later evening than we're used to, so I waited until after they went to bed, and then I made this:

That would be strawberry-kiwi freezer jam :) Three pints and one half-pint of it. I still have a pile of strawberries left, so I may try my hand at some plain strawberry jam tonight or tomorrow if I can get my hands on some jars at a reasonable price.

I realize that I haven't mentioned knitting in a while. I'm still plugging away on Rob's curtain (which now looks like this):

There are five pattern repeats so far, and I think I calculated that I needed six or seven once blocked, so it's coming along nicely. I've also been working on Sadie's baby blanket:

I'm not sure why my couch and wall are that orange... the couch is beige and the walls are dark brownish, but the colours of the blanket are accurate enough. It's about 2' x 1 3/4' right now, so still a few more weeks to go. I learned to do this:

That's a solid granny square blanket, which is currently about the same size as Sadie's blanket. (And weirdly, with the orange blanket, my couch looks green. ARGH.) I don't have an intended recipient for this one yet, so we'll see where it ends up. I was reminded last night that I never posted a picture of the granny square blanket I had completed in a 24-hour period, so here's the ugly ;)

I had a few balls of Wendy Pampas left over from Rob's blanket, so they became this. Even with the enormous holes, this thing is WARM (Pampas is 80% acrylic and 20% wool, if I'm not mistaken, and it is THICK... like, thick as my fingers thick). No intended recipient for this one either. Maybe I'll start a box for Project Linus blankets :) I have a new project that I can't take pictures of yet. I'm very excited to be test-knitting a sock pattern for a friend of mine (who is a brilliant designer just starting out!). These are gorgeous, and I'm very excited because this will be my very first pair of hand-knit socks! (and hopefully I can finish them in time to show the Yarn Harlot when she comes in August!)

Plants are still going strong... I still haven't had time to transplant the herbs (or the two cherry tomato plants). We'll have to see what I can manage tonight. I'm heading over to the gym after work to renew my membership :D *SQUEE* I have committed to a walking plan with Rob (sorry Roxane, I tried to reply to you, but Yahoo Mail was going bonkers yesterday! I will send you a copy of the plan!) and I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym. My hips and knees will thank me, I'm sure (since they've been quick to give me hell since I stopped going). It's been a busy week, but a productive one. Tonight I just have to remember to go to bed at a decent hour.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (and plant porn...)

I promised you guys a step-by-step of the Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam process, but first, some plant porn: (I am laughing my ass off at anyone who arrives at this page searching for "porn"....)

Regular tomato plant - needs a bigger pot.
Cherry tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes.

Not sure quite what these are... probably marjoram and oregano?

My lone surviving basil & chives from the 2nd planting.

Parsley, if I'm not mistaken. I'm pretty sure the cilantro didn't take.

1st planting chives. Believe it or not, these have been eaten by cats at least four times.

Sorry for the image-heavy post, but I was hounded by a few people for plant pics :) I'm very disappointed that the neighbor's cat destroyed my four other basil seedlings. At least she was too busy destroying those to attack my tomatoes. I need to do some transplanting this week. The tomatoes need bigger pots, and the herbs need a bit more room to move around in.

And now, for the jam!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam (makes 5 half-pints)

2 cups crushed strawberries.
Caution: 2 cups crushed is not the same as 2 cups of uncrushed. Measure carefully.
2 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped.
Boil your jars to sterilize.

2 cups crushed strawberries
2 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 package light pectin crystals
2 3/4 cups sugar

Combine the pectin crystals with 1/4 cup of your sugar. Place berries and rhubarb in large dutch oven. Pour pectin mixture in and stir thoroughly. Heat to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. When full rolling boil has been reached, add remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar, stirring constantly. Return to full rolling boil and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and continue stirring constantly for 5 minutes (to keep fruit from floating). Skim off any foam.
Using a canning funnel, ladle into prepared jars. Add lids and tighten rings to fingertip tightness.

Process jars in hot water bath for 5 minutes.

Remove from hot water bath and set on counter overnight to settle. Once the lids have popped, tighten lids fully and store in a cool, dry space. 

Once we were done with the jam, this was all I had the energy to make for dinner... broccoli, cauliflower and pork stewing cube stir-fry with black bean sauce.
I'd have taken pictures of the cooking process, but I was too busy "stirring constantly". You really do need to, because otherwise stuff sticks to the pot and burns. I ended up with less than half a cup of "garbage" for the compost! And here's where I start wishing that blogger was a bit more intuitive and I could place my pictures side by side. *grumble*

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's over, and an attempt at healthy eating ;)

My house is clean, y'all. It's cleaner than when I moved into it! I am SO exhausted (yes, even three days later). Now to attack the few remaining disorganized areas (my movie collection needs a serious going over, as do my bookshelves and the tops of the dressers - the insides of my kitchen and bathroom cupboards could probably do with a clearing out as well). But it's CLEAN. I spent most of Saturday morning walking back and forth through the apartment just because I *could*. Now the fact that there are a few specks on the carpet is bugging me, and I'm feeling compelled to vacuum again LOL

As for the attempt at healthy eating... I had some asparagus in the fridge that was in danger of going off if I didn't eat it, so here's what I did with it:

A bit of olive oil, a bit of sesame oil, some asparagus and a handful of frozen peas.

Add a splash of milk and four eggs, season with a bit of dill and black pepper.

Attempt an omelette, fail to flip it, and end up with scrambled vegetarian hash. Add a bit of cheese to complete the meal.
This ended up being lunch on Saturday and then breakfast this morning as well! DELICIOUS! I am so thrilled at how cheap asparagus has been at the grocery store that I'm contemplating buying some more and pickling some of it (I've never done pickled asparagus before)!

I'd show you the beautiful strawberries I bought at the Orleans Fruit Farm, but I forgot to take a picture of them. They, and some rhubarb from my mom's garden, are going to be turned into jam this evening! I may attempt the pineapple rhubarb jam as well if I have enough rhubarb left, seeing as I promised some to my friend Sue. I'm going to have to go buy some more jars as well, since most of mine never made it back home. But I'm told they're super-cheap at Walmart, so I may have to bite the bullet and buy them there. They were $12 at the grocery store, in my defense... I'll try to take pictures of the tomato plants and the babies tonight (the herbs I have left after the neighbor let her cat onto my balcony....).

Enjoy the beautiful weather!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Is it over yet?

Holy crap did we do a lot last night! The common areas of the apartment are clean. And I mean CLEAN! Tonight I have to clear off the couch, but everything else has been scrubbed, tidied, etc. Now there are just the bedrooms left. Once this is all over, THEN I'll start organizing. I'm just wondering where I'm going to hide all the yarn LOL

Now why can't I get THIS guy to come clean my house???

That said, today I feel like crap. Part of that might be what seems to feel like an episode of reflux I didn't wake up for (I certainly woke up this morning with a bunch of metallic-tasting crud in my lungs), but the rest of it is muscle and joint pain from the past week's activities. Ow. On a more girly front... my manicure is finally starting to show signs of wear after last night's marathon cleaning session ;) Sad, I know :) (Not bad, though, considering I got it a week ago!)

I'm really looking forward to knit night tomorrow - especially as the store has scheduled me for an 8 1/2 hour shift on Saturday (yikes!) As for tonight, I'm hoping to finish somewhat early so I can get to bed at a decent hour!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kicking Ass and Taking Names...

Yesterday was amazingly productive. Day one of a two-day Quickbooks 2012 course, did groceries, cleaned my fridge to within an inch of its life (I have photographic proof, but I have no idea how to get it off my phone!) and my son swiffered all the fluff off our kitchen walls. Throw in a ridiculous amount of dishes done by hand and a few other chores, and I was pretty exhausted by 10pm. Today was day two of the Quickbooks class (thank goodness that's nearly over!).

So last night we had a bit of a strategy brainstorm and we decided to finish up the common areas of the apartment tonight and then concentrate on the kids' bedrooms for the remainder of the evening / tomorrow night. My room isn't a huge deal, because the furniture takes up so much of the room that it shouldn't take long to clean up what's left.

I've been actually getting a bit of knitting time at work (lunch time is great when you bring your own lunch!). Making progress on the curtain and the ten-stitch blanket. The one-row scarf is currently hibernating until I finish one project or the other. I'm hoping to start a baby sweater soon (no intended recipient, just want to knit something small & cute and stash down a bit). Then maybe a solid granny square blanket. We have the Color Affection KAL starting soon, so I need to get some mindless projects out of the way first.

The lady I'm replacing has been fantastic about showing me how to do individual tasks, but the thing is that most of what I do needs to be done on a regular basis (once per pay period, once a month, once a week, etc.) and I can't help feeling that while she's on holidays this week, I'm doing things in the wrong order. I can't find anything in my notes to indicate the order things should be done in, and I can't find the notes she created for me (they're not where she was keeping them while she was here). Bit of panic on my part, but I knew there would be a learning curve here, right? Even if I screw things up a bit the first month, I'm sure I'll figure things out quickly enough (and take copious notes).

One thing my ex-coworkers would find hilarious - yesterday, before the Quickbooks course started, I was scrambling to print the training manual and create a binder from it about 10 minutes before the start time. Why did I wait until the last second? Took a while for the IT guy to give me access to the printers and such on my own account. But the fact that I was scrambling at the last second to make a binder would have my old gang in stitches ;) (It was the one thing I bitched about constantly over there - the fact that we were always jumping at the last possible second to get training materials made). I miss them!

Here's to another really productive evening!

borrowed from

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Big fun, little stress....

So Rob flew in on Thursday evening during a huge thunderstorm. Fortunately, his flight landed on time, and without getting fried ;) Sorry I haven't been around since then... I've been a busy girl. Friday, I had to work, so he drove me to work and kept my car, picked me up for lunch, and came to get me at the end of the day. We went to knit night on Friday evening, and had a fantastic time! We tried going to the Mill Street Brew Pub for dinner, but it was an hour wait for a table (screw that). We headed for the Royal Oak on Wellington instead. Saturday, we mostly spent around the house, but then we decided to go out later in the day... we walked a 3.5 km nature trail near my house and then went out for dinner. OMG you guys... DINNER.....

Photo borrowed from
We went to Fatboys Southern Smokehouse on Murray Street in the Byward Market. I can not say enough about these guys. The concept, the decor, the food... OMG THE FOOD... Rob ordered the brisket, and I ordered the pulled pork. We opted to share three sides - collard greens, smashed potatoes with gravy, and Kentucky corn bites with maple butter.  The meat was so tender and delicious that it really didn't need sauces, but the three signature sauces that Fatboys has sitting on the table (yellow is a tangy mustard sauce, white is a sweet BBQ sauce, and the red is a hotter version of the white) were so delicious, we were happy to slather them on everything. The collard greens were crisp and delicious, with a hint of vinegar, the smashed potatoes were deliciously creamy and the corn bites were fantastic. Rob says he'd have been happier if they were served warm (the corn bites). For dessert, we shared a fudge brownie with CANDIED BACON, y'all!!!! It was to die for! All through the meal, Rob kept saying, "This one's a keeper... we're coming back here!", so I think we'll be going back. A lot. Oh, and the two of us ate for under $35. If you're in Ottawa, TRY IT. If you have a bike, there's free motorcycle parking out front.

Then we went to see Men In Black 3, but that plan backfired. I usually check show times etc. on Cinema Clock, but although the show time was correct, the theatre was only showing it in 3D (which is also usually indicated, but wasn't there this time). I don't do 3D, so we ended up going to see Snow White and the Huntsman. I didn't think Rob would like it, but we both enjoyed it (I really REALLY enjoyed it!). Definitely worth seeing, and I plan on buying it when it comes out on DVD. Oh, and the best part? We got in free thanks to my Scene points! :)

Sunday was the big day. The Walk for Arthritis. It was so freaking hot outside. We schlepped our sorry butts down to the Aviation and Aeronautics Museum with a load of gatorade and sunscreen. After some rather interminable speeches (hint folks, if you're addressing a crowd of arthritis sufferers who are about to walk a very long distance, don't keep them standing around for 20 minutes beforehand!), we got going. Most of the crowd had passed me by the time we got to the half-way mark (they provided water, bananas, apples and granola bars, so I refilled my gatorade with a water bottle) and by the time we were about 1km from the end, I was bringing up the rear. As Rob likes to say, I was DLBF (dead last, but finished). He'd argue that he was the DLBF, but he literally walked around me to come in behind me. We did not attend the barbecue afterward, because I just needed to cool off, so we headed to my mom's instead and we jumped in the pool :)

Yes I did, in fact, get the t-shirt!

Monday, I had to go back to work, so Rob and Zachary stayed home and cleaned my car! They also did quite a bit of laundry and Zachary vacuumed the front room. Rob flew home last night, and yet another weekend visit has proven to be way too short to come close to doing all we wanted to do.

I got a letter from my landlord that someone complained about a foul odor coming from my apartment (wtf??? I've noticed a foul odor in the hallway OUTSIDE my apartment, and reported it to the landlord two months ago, but there is no smell coming from my apartment - Rob confirms this), so I need to get the place super-duper clean by Friday when he's going to come over to see it. *sigh* Not a huge deal other than the mountain range of dirty laundry in everyone's bedrooms. Stupid laundry multiplies when I'm not looking, I swear! Just annoying, since I'm working late every night this week (training course). Should anyone be feeling particularly generous and want to help, well... I'd supply pizza! LOL

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New additions!!!

I'm pretty excited :) Last night, we had to hit Rona for some plumbing supplies, so I took advantage and checked out their garden area. I brought home one Sunsweet tomato plant and two cherry tomato plants! (can't remember what kind they are off-hand). So now there are three beautiful tomato plants sitting on the balcony. I just hope they'll get enough sun where they are. If not, I may have to beg the landlord for roof access, since that's the only way they'll get full sun.

I was tempted to look for a rhubarb root, but to be honest, I really don't have anywhere to plant it. I am tempted to see if it would do well along the wall of Rob's garage, but that may be a project for next year (he has a rhubarb plant next to the house, but I think it's in too shady a spot, and it got planted pot and all, so the roots probably don't have enough space to grow). Besides, I get more than enough rhubarb from my mom's garden every year. I still have some of last year's in the freezer. I need to come up with a better freezing method though (the baking sheet thing is starting to look like a necessity... maybe I'll devote the bottom shelf of my fridge freezer to that from now on, since the stuffing it all in a ziploc bag and praying thing isn't working out too well).

None of the flowers we planted at Rob's took :( Granted, doing it late at night in April probably didn't help either. It was cold and wet, and I really should have planned things a bit better. Next year maybe :) He does have a lovely daffodil patch that comes up at the front of the house (leftover from an ex) that I've had fun with and the lilies may just decide to surprise us next summer. Suffice to say that slap-dash gardening as an afterthought is really not the way to go ;) My basil is really going crazy - I'm hoping it will continue to do so when I transplant it. The chives are doing so-so (whoever would have thought CHIVES would be hard?)... the marjoram is doing well, but the parsley and cilantro are pretty much dead again. I think next year, direct sowing  in the pots instead of using expandable coirs might be a better idea.

On the knitting front, I crocheted a huge, ugly granny square blanket that I think will be going to charity. I shouldn't really say it's ugly... it isn't. But the bigger the yarn you use to make a granny square, the bigger the holes will be, and this one has some pretty spectacular holes. It was really just to get rid of some leftover Pampas from Rob's blanket, and it served that purpose, so now it might go live at the Humane Society for a while. I've actually been making progress on the kitchen curtain, and the ten-stitch baby blanket continues apace. I'm looking forward to finishing one of these, since I really REALLY want to start on something else. (Socks, a shawl, anything!) We're going to be doing a Color Affection knit-along (c'mon, after seeing the one the Yarn Harlot made, who could resist?)

And because for some reason, whenever something I'm looking forward to is approaching, my brain goes into shut-down mode, I have to do a mad dash cleaning thing tonight and tomorrow before Rob arrives *sigh* If only I could function like a normal person, the house wouldn't always be a disaster and require rescuing before guests arrive... (he's not really a guest though... he has his own key!) Somewhere in there, I also need to pay the babysitter, buy new mattresses for both kids, and figure out when to get them delivered.  Never a dull moment.

Did I mention that there are tomato plants on my balcony? :D

Monday, June 4, 2012

Weekend fun...

Okay, I'll get this out of the way right now. Rob will be here in THREE DAYS. I woke up with a majorly goofy grin on my face and have been smiling to myself about it all day :D THREE DAYS THREE DAYS THREE DAYS :D

Okay, I think I'm done.

(three days)

So Friday was knit night. I headed out to Bridgehead with the girls and everything was going great until BAM. Tooth pain. Really sudden tooth pain. Like worse than childbirth tooth pain. Not good. After a little while, I couldn't even see my knitting anymore, it was that bad. I cadged a few advil off Kari and waited for them to kick in. We headed for the pub. They never kicked in. Then the shooting shocks up the nerve started, and I was miserable. I went to the drug store and bought some T1 to hold me over until the emergency clinic opened at 9am the next morning and went home to bed. I don't remember if the T1 ever got rid of the pain, because the codeine knocked me out, and the next thing I knew it was 10am.

Saturday morning, I was meant to be making jam. All kinds of jam, and I was really happy that I'd be making jam, but... um... tooth pain. So off I went to the emergency clinic for half a root canal (which will be completed in two weeks). Holy effing OW. The root canal didn't hurt in and of itself, but the freezing wore off as he was working on me, and I was in more pain once he was done than I had been before I got there. Then I had the joyous fun of going off to work for a five-hour shift. I'm aware of the entire shift, but if you ask me to remember anything from it, only the last hour or so stands out. It was interesting.

Sunday, I slept until 2pm (yay codeine) and then the kids and I went off to Boston Pizza to celebrate my nephew's 2nd birthday (YAY CAEL!). I got him one of these:

My brother and I had JUST been talking about these on Facebook the day before, and when I walked into Mrs. Tiggy Winkles to buy his present, there it was. So, of course, I *HAD* to get him one. I think my brother was more excited about it than my nephew was (of course... he's only TWO).

All in all, a very eventful weekend, and hopefully this week will be much quieter. I'm off to Sarah's graduation ceremony this evening, and hopefully getting the living room floor clean and ready to vacuum (still working on that).