Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's now been two years since I left. Two years and so much has changed, yet so much remains the same. A year ago today, I was able to bring my Golden Retriever to live with me in my new apartment. She and I are so happy. We have made so many new friends, both of the canine and human variety. Norma Jean has just blossomed. She is no longer aggressive and frightened, she is now happy, secure and ever so friendly. And she loves to dress up. She has sweaters, sweats, t-shirts, dresses, costumes, and of course, a holiday sweater.

Last month, I got some news that I was expecting that my darling girl was suffering from cancer. At her age (13), and the stage of the cancer, surgery was not an option. So, we are having the time of our lives. Anything she wants, she gets. Even if that means I have to walk her at 3 in the morning. While she is still feeling quite well, she is tiring easily.

I'm still working at my barely above minimum wage job, and loving it. I could tell so many silly customer stories - like last night, I asked a gentleman to create a "test location", and he asked me how I wanted him to spell "test". You really don't want to know what I wanted to tell him.

Telling my runaway story is so hard. I miss my old life and friends. I miss the man I married, but not the man I left. Leaving him was the hardest decision I have ever made. It was the best decision though. My future is now secure. My relationship with my sons and their families is awesome. I have the most amazing grandchildren. I'm so lucky.

Have a great day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snowy Day Baking

Several months ago, I saw a link for Crock Pot Bread and thought it might be a good thing. You just put salt and yeast into a container, add lukewarm water and then the flour and stir it just until it's mixed. Then you let it rise for a couple of hours, put it in the fridge, and after the dough is chilled you put a hunk of it in a crock pot, and bake it for an hour. No kneading, punching down, and letting it rise again. No flour flying all of the kitchen and up your nose and into your hair. Seemed too good to be true. However, things happened and I didn't get around to it. Then I ran away from home, leaving all my baking things behind (that's what happens when you run away - things get left behind!).

The weather forecast was calling for a major snow storm to hit today, and I thought it might be a good  time to try this method of baking bread. I put a plan into action. If I was going to follow this recipe exactly,  I needed to get flour and yeast since I had none. So I headed out to the grocery store on Wednesday without giving thought to the other items that may be needed. I always had a good supply of baking needs, so why would I check?

Since the dough needs to be refrigerated, I mixed it up yesterday. That's when I realized I should have checked the other supplies needed. A 6 quart container is needed to mix and rise the dough, and I didn't have a large enough container, so I mixed it in one large Pyrex bowl, and divided it into two bowls for the rising and refrigerating.
no knead dough rising
 Mixing it in one bowl was messy! but I got the job done.

The snow arrived on schedule, and  it seemed like all systems go for the baking of this bread.
Except, I didn't have the parchment paper - I used to have rolls of it, but not any more. I hoped that the little convenience store at the corner would have some. So, I put on my coat, hat, mittens and trudged through the snow to the store. There was no way I was going to drive - especially since two cars were already stuck in the parking lot, blocking the driveway and I couldn't have got out anyway. Alas, the little store only had foil, waxed paper and cling wrap. Shrugging my shoulders, I bought the aluminum foil, praying this would work.
it doesn't look big enough, but I trust the recipe
After, the bread baked it was doubled in size, but isn't nice and brown on top, so it must be broiled.
I made an egg wash (one egg yolk and half an egg shell of water whisked together),
and looked into the cupboards for a broiling pan. Nope, I don't have one of those either. I did have a foil pie pan though, so I put the little loaf into the oven to broil for 10 minutes.

And voila!  After 50 minutes in a crock pot and 10 minutes under the broiler, I had this!

A teeny, tiny, one pound load of bread.

 It is delicious! A lovely, yummy, no knead loaf of bread to enjoy on a snowy day. The original recipe makes 4 loafs and the dough can be kept covered in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Even though I didn't follow the recipe and method exactly, it was a success. Next time, I will use parchment so the bottom of the loaf browns, and I may leave it in the crock pot an extra 10 minutes for a total "baking" time of 1 hour.

Total prep time (excluding trips to the store and searching cupboards for none existent items) was less than 10 minutes. Seriously, less than 10 minutes. And, I still have enough dough for three more loaves. I know I will be making this again. And again! If you like fresh bread, I do hope you will give it a try.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crazy Cat Lady

That's me! If I could manage to home and care for a gazillion cats, I would. I feel I have the two most wonderfully awesome felines on the face of this earth living with me. (Apologies to Purrl and Pork Chop - you both are awesome too.)

This morning, I was sorting through some of my mom's belongings I took from her room. To say my mom was a bit eccentric would be an understatement. She surely marched to her own drummer. One of the items that I brought home and now own is a wire pet brush. My mom lived in a nursing home, so what was she doing with a wire pet brush, you ask? She liked to use them for brushing her hair. Now, mom had very thick hair and lots of it, and wire hair brushes worked well for her. You can see in this photo of Mom with Olivia and Liam just how thick her hair was.
 My brothers and I were so embarrassed by some of her peculiarities, and the use of  pet brushes were close to the top of the list. It didn't matter how many human wire brushes I bought her, she wanted pet brushes. And, she told everyone and anyone just how wonderful wire pet brushes were for their hair.You should have seem some of the looks we got!

Last September, on what was her last shopping outing, Mom and I went to the Pickering Town Centre and she purchased two of these brushes in Dollarama. Yup, only the best for mom.We had a wonderful time that day. There was a farmers market in the parking lot that we walked through, a nice lunch at her favourite eatery (Tim Horton's) and she reveled in just being out. You see, she'd been in hospitals and nursing homes since she broke her leg on February 12th, and she was truly suffering from cabin fever.

Back to the brush. I had to take it as it was a reminder of the lovely day I spent with her. It's a strange souvenir that one would not put on display, but I still had to have it. As I pulled it out of the bag I brought it home in, I smiled and put it down beside me on the couch. Ella, the wonder kitty, saw me do this and immediately started to meow. Incessantly. Loudly. She wanted to be brushed! NOW! Both Ella and Stinky love being brushed. Ella was first in line, but Stinky kept butting in. Two wriggly cats and one brush is not a good thing.  I tried to explain to them  I only had one brush, and they had to share. This worked as well as when you tell two 3 year old children they have to share a new toy (or two teenagers they have to share the tv remote!) It just doesn't work!

I don't know if you have ever brushed a cat. Especially one who loves to be brushed. It's like trying to brush a moving target. (Gratuitous photos of Ella Bella Cinderella follow)
They walk back and forth just out of your reach.
They roll over and need their bellies brushed, then they get up and move just out of your reach again.
And they purr, and make the happy blinky eyes, and worship you for your efforts.
Brushing kitties is hard work and I wanted a cup of tea, so I left the brush on the  floor, and came back to Ella declaring the darned brush was defective. It was just lying on the floor and not moving at all!
I brushed them both for a little while longer, then decided I had had enough brushing for the day, and needed to get back to packing for my visit to Geoff's to watch the Super Bowl. I tossed the brush up on the couch. I haven't figured out a suitable place for the kitties' toys, so the couch seemed like a good place while I locate a box or basket for them. Plus it will always be handy for brushing duty, won't it?

In  any case, it appears Stinky is concerned about the safety of the brush, and is guarding it with her life.
I suppose I need to put an attractive storage basket for pet supplies on my shopping list this week I can't have my little babies worried, can I?

Saturday, February 2, 2013


A week ago, I was working away on the daybed cover, blissfully unaware of what the week would bring. On Saturday morning, I received a text informing me that my mom was not well. Quickly, I cleaned up as much of the sewing mess, and went to her. Before leaving, I took a bunch of photos of the daybed's progress to show her. I still have some sewing of bolsters and stuffing of cushions to do, but I think it looks pretty good.

Sadly, Mom passed away on Tuesday evening, the day we were supposed to go for lunch and shopping. She never regained consciousness after the stroke on Friday. She was 90 years old, had 4 children, 9 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren, and lived life to its fullest.

In our last conversation, she asked me what I was going to do with the money she was leaving me. The question took me by surprise, and I didn't know what to say. The first thing that came to mind was an iPad mini (Lynn and I had just been drooling over them on Monday) and I would name it in her honour. She laughed, and thought that was a good idea.

I'm ordering one as soon as the new version is available, and I'm having it engraved "Marge". She will always be with me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How quickly things change!

On Thursday evening, my mom and I talked for over an hour on the phone, we made plans for a shopping trip this Tuesday.  Yesterday morning, I received a text from my brother that mom was not well.

There will be no shopping trip for Mom and me ever.  She's not expected to live more than a day or two. This happened so quickly and unexpectedly....even the staff at the nursing home are surprised.

I'm so glad I had that wonderful, long chat with her on Thursday. I only wish we could have more of them.