The Bros and I are heading to Guelph, Ontario this weekend for some fun and formal activities.  On Saturday I'm attending my friend Sarah's nuptials and catching up with my buddies from University.  Then on Sunday the Bros and I are driving around the area (Guelph, St. Jacobs, Elora) to see what we can see.  Apparently there are two covered bridges within 25 minutes of each other.  Looking forward to getting some awesome photos!!  Have a great weekend everybody!

Covered Bridge!


Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 27, 2010 No comments
It is blackberry harvest time, and I am lucky enough to live close to many public deposits of them.  The trails near our place are lined with berries, and even the side of the road has some wild patches growing.  We went berry picking yesterday, and even though someone beat us to it, we still came home with four cups of berries.  We could have gotten more, but I didn't really understand the consequences of berry picking, and I was completely under dressed for the excursion.  Turns out that blackberry bushes have lots of thorns on them and if you are wearing shorts (like I was) your legs get scratched all to hell.  Bad timing too, as I am wearing a dress on Saturday for a friend's wedding.  Whoops!  It's all good though - the scratches join bike riding bruises and mosquito bites, and on Saturday my legs will be a testament to a summer spent outdoors in the country.
Side of the road blackberries # 1


Side of the road blackberries #2

Close up blackberry.  Note the thorns!  They are ouchy!

Forest blackberry patch # 1

Forest blackberry patch #2
  In a few days these will be ripe and we can head back for more!

Blackberry art shot.

Our blackberry score.  Soon to be smoothies!!


Posted by Jen B On Thursday, August 26, 2010 No comments
Armed with gift cards from Christmas, Mom, the Bro, and I headed to the Keg in Barrie for an atmospheric meal of champions.  We went a few Wednesday's ago, and it was absolutely packed!  We were only there because we had gift cards (one person spending $50+ on dinner is easy) - not sure where everyone else came from.  Isn't there supposed to be an economic downturn right now?  Definitely not evident at the Barrie Keg on a Wednesday night.

Here are some illustrated highlights from the evening:

Appetizer: tempura snap peas and asparagus.  Tasty!


I ordered a half lobster - this is my "dipping butter" tea light!

Half lobster, sirloin steak, sweet potato fries.  I ate it all - no problem!

The aftermath of my fight with the Lobster.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 25, 2010 No comments
There have been many books on my coffee table this summer - most of which I actually got around to reading.  Thought I would share some titles with you.  What have you been reading lately?


Fiction

Storm Front, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril, all from Jim's Butcher's Dresden Files. Love, love, love, this series so far!  It's the little details about this Wizard detective and his adventures that are so much fun.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I have the next two books in the series on hold at the library and I can't wait for them. It was a long book for me (500 pages) but I read it in no time. I also watched the European movie based on the book and it was a pretty good interpretation. Plus I love sub-titles - they make movies more fun for me.

Bitten by Kelly Armstrong. I haven't started this one yet, but I Googled "urban fantasy" and she was one of the people who came up. The series has 11 titles, so if her first book is good, I'll have tonnes more to read. Also she is a Canadian from Ontario, so I already like that about her.

Non-Fiction


On Writing by Stephen King.  I've only finished the first third of this book, which is the autobiography part, and I have to say Stephen King is an awesome dude and a helluva writer.  I have to pick up this book again to see his thoughts on writing - I am sure it will informative.  I have also been catching King's articles in Entertainment Weekly - I am a sucker for Uncle Stevie's commentary.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  It's an autobiography and I only got through the first three chapters before I was too disturbed by the horrors of her childhood to continue reading.  She's a good writer, though, so I will try to get back into it sometime soon.

What's been on your coffee table this summer?

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, August 24, 2010 No comments
When it comes to a big sit down meal, my vote is always for Turkey.  My Mom raised me right in this regard, not hesitating to put a turkey in the oven at moments notice for any reason or no reason.  A turkey dinner makes the house smell great all day, you get to eat a ginormous meal with as many side dishes as desired, and there are leftovers for days.  DAYS!  I love everything about it.

I freeze all the turkey bones so that even months later I can still enjoy the leftovers in the form of turkey soup.  I made some on the weekend and it was yummy as always.

Step one: make a turkey, eat lots, then freeze the bones.

Step two: make turkey soup!  I'll show you what I did in photos:


Place the turkey bones into a pot of water.  Sometimes there are A LOT of bones, so I spread it over two pots.  It makes more stock and if we are talking about turkey soup, more stock = the better.  Add some chopped onion, garlic, and turmeric to give the stock some flavour/colour.


Let boil for an hour and a half.  The house will start to smell like turkey and that is amazing.  Drain the stock into a new pot, and keep the bones - we aren't done with them yet.


The two pots have boiled down to one pot of glorious stock.  It has a definite taste all on it's own, but it is time now to spice it up and add veggies!


Spice it up: salt and pepper, garlic salt, sage, spicy chili mix, turmeric (for colour).  Add whatever spices are to your taste!


Add veggies:  I add what is on hand.  This soup has broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach, lentils, tofu, rice, and garden green beans.  Add all your favourite veggies!


Now it is time to revisit the boiled bones.  In this pile of bones are tasty chunks of turkey meat - you just have to sort through and find them.  It is a little messy, but I actually like this part.  It feels good to use all of the turkey that I can.  Waste not, want not, right?


And then you find yourself with a cup or so of turkey meat.  Add it to the soup for an authentic blast of turkey in every bite!


Making turkey soup is a fantastic opportunity to make dinner rolls.  There is nothing like a fresh baked roll dipped into this mouth watering soup!  For me this is absolute food bliss.


Time to enjoy!!!


Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 23, 2010 No comments
My adventures in scrapbooking started about eight years ago when my sister-in-law Jeanette made me go to a scrapbooking party.  I had fun while I was there, but didn’t really get into it.  Regardless of my lack of enthusiasm, I purchased an 8.5 x 11 album and started a “Family Wedding Album” which would feature my sibling’s weddings.  I did most of my scrapbooking at Jeanette’s house as she had all the awesome tools from Creative Memories.  I scrapbooked all the photos for my sister’s wedding - and then I was just done with it.  Sure it had been fun, but I didn’t have any cutting tools of my own and I wasn’t excited enough about it to buy any.   

I forgot about scrapbooking until about three years ago, when I noticed Dollarama had an amazing amount of scrapbooking supplies and stickers.  Maybe I did like it after all, I just needed the proper tools.  With John’s encouragement, I spent about twenty dollars on neat scissors, stickers, and assorted papers; enough stuff to get me going on a few pages.  I even went to a department store and picked up a 12 x 12 album.  I was ready to roll.

I did a few pages for my “Family Wedding Album”, this time working on my brother’s wedding.  Something clicked and I was having a lot of fun with it.  I also did a few pages for my 12 x 12 album, and fell more and more in love.  I realized that scrapbooking combines four things I love: photos, organization, creativity, and (usually) TV on DVD.  It is a winning combination for hours of creative fun!

So for the past three years I have been thoroughly obsessed with scrapbooking. Beyond the initial supplies I picked up at the dollar store, I have since collected Creative Memories cutting tools (ovals and circles), three paper trimmers (two with strait lines and one with squiggly), a photo corner rounder, square punch, star punch, and countless other tools, papers, and card stock.  Scrapbooking can be expensive when you are first starting out (as are most hobbies), but I now have an adequate amount of tools and materials, that all I need to maintain my hobby are photos and accents. To keep costs low, I always purchase my photos during a photo sale, never wanting to pay more than .10¢ per photo. In May I printed 130 photos during a .10¢ sale, and I currently have 101 more photos waiting to be printed for when the next sale comes around.  I love photos as much as I love photo deals!

I have a pretty good sticker/embellishment collection, but I’m always looking for new accents at the dollar store, or the department store if there is a deal.  They don’t always make stickers for every page idea, so I sometimes make my own embellishments, either out of card stock, or other crafty materials.  I recently used a glue gun and some felt to make accents for a page I couldn’t find the right stickers for.  I got to be extra creative and using a glue gun is one of my favourite things to do.  Hot glue rules! 

I’ve come a long way from thinking I didn’t like scrapbooking.  I completed my “Family Wedding Album” last winter, which is good because the most recently married sibling got married over five years ago, so it was about time.  I also finished my first 12 x 12 album, which gave me an amazing sense of satisfaction.  Forty-two pages of cutting, cropping, positioning, accenting, titling, journaling...it really is a lot of work when you think about it.  I’ve also completed a baby book for a friend, discovered card making, and started three new albums.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, August 10, 2010 No comments
A chair that isn't normally indoors...


Plus a pair of my jeans...


Equals a new sleeping spot for the cat!


Obviously...


Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 09, 2010 No comments
I have acquired a new new sleep shirt.

My brother brought me a long sleeve shirt with his work logo on it.  It is a tiny bit too big and 100% cotton - which makes it perfect for sleeping.  Just a few nights ago, John was commenting that my pajama drawer was overflowing.  Regardless of my lack of room, I happily added a new item to my collection.  I really need more drawer space though! :) 

When it comes to clothes I have two favourite (and abundant) things: sweaters and comfortable sleepwear.  It all has to do with the old, cold, farmhouse I grew up in, and the iron fist my dad ruled with over the thermostat.  We never had the luxury of room temperature at the farm and it wasn’t odd to have the inside temperature colder than the outside temperature - in the winter!  There was always a battle with dad whether we could turn the furnace on, and the furnace was just to heat the downstairs (where the tv room was).  The kids rooms were upstairs, which lacked furnace vents, so we had to use space heaters for warmth.  Even the space heater was an issue, as there was a constant fight about how long we should have them on for (mine was on 24 hours a day in the winter, as I didn’t care about the fight it constantly caused).  Even with periodic moments with the furnace and keeping the space heater on full blast, it was always cold in the farm house.

So, I learned to sleep in sweaters.  And track pants.  And long sleeve shirts.  And socks.  And have multiple comforters and pretty much anything that would make me warmer.  Some nights I slept in two sweaters, long johns, sweat pants, and two pairs of socks.  The last few years I slept at the farm I had an electric blanket, but that didn’t mean I could sleep in less clothes: it was somehow still cold! 

Fortunately, since I have left home, I have lived in apartments that have had adequate heat.  I still have the mentality that I need to wear lots of clothes to bed, but I no longer sleep with a sweater on (though sometimes I want to!).  Even though sleeping at the farmhouse was horribly cold (one Thanksgiving dinner it was 13°C [56°F] inside!) sometimes I find myself enjoying when it is cold at night.  I don’t like being cold, but I do love lots of blankets, and through the comfort of childhood memories, I think the cold helps me sleep. 

For those colder nights, I have now added a new long sleeve sleep shirt to my comfortable sleepwear collection.  Here is what else my overflowing pajama drawer holds:

Flannel PJs (3 pairs)
Track pants  (2 pairs)
Doctor pants
Long sleeve shirts (3 - black, yellow, and pink)
Sleeping t-shirts (7 assorted; I will wear any t-shirt to bed!)
Sleeping tank tops (2) and comfy sleeping shorts (for summer months)

Also my sweater collection is always growing, I just counted 14 sweaters in multiple drawers. Some people collect shoes.  I collect sweaters and pajamas, I guess!

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, August 05, 2010 No comments
Achoo!   *Blows nose*  
Achoo!   *Blows nose*  
Achoo!   *Blows nose*

Blurgh.  :(

I woke up yesterday with a runny nose and a scratchy throat.  And I blew through an entire box of Kleenex, pun intended.  I have a stupid summer cold!  It is not completely debilitating but it is definitely irritating!  My nose is already bright red from having to blow it so much.  Boo!  That is my reward for having a fun weekend, I guess!

On the positive side of things, I haven't had a cold since last November, so way to go immune system for keeping me healthy for so long!  Great job!  Another positive is that I spent my sick time yesterday reading Fool Moon, the second of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.  Butcher writes fun stories and being sick isn't so bad when there is an entertaining book to read.

I'm taking it easy, dosing myself with Tylonel, vitamin C, and green tea, and trying to stay positive.  Here's hoping I feel better soon! :)


Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 04, 2010 1 comment

The Bros and I hit the beach again yesterday to continue our long weekend fun.  We would have swam and sat on the beach all day, if only the weather would have cooperated.  We did put in some awesome fun times before the rain hit, (we swam for hours!), but the sun did not want to be our friend this weekend.

The Rain from across the bay - it was only a matter of time before it got us!

A menacing cloud keen on destroying our fun day!

Of course, today the sun is shining and the temperature feels like 34°C out there.  Such is life.  And I have been sneezing all morning and trying to deny the tickle I feel in my throat.  Hopefully this summer cold is short lived and the hot weather sticks around until the weekend for more beach fun!

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, August 03, 2010 No comments
It is a long weekend here in Canada and I am celebrating it right!  So far I've had the perfect combination of friends, family, food, and fun.  Also hoping that before the weekend is over there can be a little more sunshine added to the equation, but all in all it has been a blast.

I went swimming yesterday with my Bros and despite it being cloudy and a little rainy, we still had tonnes of fun.  The Bros haven't been swimming in years, so it was such a joy to see Dave so thrilled.  Swimming is so happy inducing for us - I was giddy well into the evening and then slept soundly and solidly.  Awesome.

After all that swimming exercise, I was hungry for some long weekend BBQ.  We cooked up some veggies on the BBQ - carrots, broccoli, peas (from our garden!), zucchini (from our garden!) and green beans (also from our garden!).

We cooked up some farmer fresh corn with the veggies, husking it and brushing it with olive oil and yummy spices.  It tasted like a beautiful dream. :)


And we couldn't forget our favourite BBQ meat treat: Pork Buttons.  With the taste and texture of a pork chop and the fun and sauce of a chicken wing, these are a summer staple around here.


I'm pretty sure I could eat this meal every day.  Not sure how my heart/arteries/waist line would like it, but my taste buds and happy meter would be on cloud nine.



Posted by Jen B On Sunday, August 01, 2010 No comments
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