Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter! I have been absent for a while, battling a nasty cold coupled with some painful back problems. Thanks to my ailments, I have had a chance to become one with the couch and crappy daytime TV (boo)! Hopefully I will be feeling better soon so I can get back to a normal life and get back to posting!

Monday, 18 March 2013

It's that time of year again!

The time of year where I have had my fill of the cold and snow and just want spring to hurry up! I don't mind the winter but a day comes when you are tired of being in hibernation mode and you just want to get outside. I also need to get cracking on the garden and until the lingering snow melts, the ground dries up and the weather gets a bit warmer, I can't get outside and get down to work.

When we moved into the house last August, our main focus was cleaning and decorating on the inside, and unfortunately the garden was ignored. Now that the major work is done in the house, I can focus some attention on the backyard so that we can enjoy the outdoor space we have. First things first, the yard needs a good clean up! There is an attempted flowerbed against the neighbors shed and it is overrun with weeds, garbage and dog bones (not the bones of a dog, but bones a dog has been chewing know what I mean!). I need to get out there and determine what is a weed and what is a plant to keep. Once that bed is cleaned up I will look at adding a few new plants.

Hidden under garbage and weeds there are signs of real plant life! I am not sure what the purple plant is on the left, but it looks fairly sturdy. It may be hard to see, but there are the beginnings of some Irises in the photo on the right.

The area behind the garage and our shed needs a good clean up too. It is pretty wild when everything comes to life, in fact until I snapped this photo I didn't even know there was a downspout form the garage roof back there - it was completely hidden behind a mass of leaves last summer!

To get a jump on things I have some seeds starting indoors - an assortment of herbs, wildflowers and tomatoes. My goal is to get some wildflowers into the flowerbed once it is cleared up and to get the tomatoes and herbs in pots and planters on the deck. There is a lone planter built into the deck that is currently home to some sort of bush but I have no clue what is is! The bush looked like it was in agony last summer, it clearly should not be confined to such a small, dry container. I am hoping it has survived the winter so I can relocate it to a more suitable space in the yard...I can then make better use of that planter.

When we viewed this house last May, we spotted a birds nest wedged in a space between an outdoor speaker and a downspout attached to the garage. When we moved in months later the birds were still there, minding their nest. Every once in a while the parents would leave and I would see the was one HUGE baby bird! I don't know much about Morning Doves, but the massive baby was making no attempt to leave the nest and the parents never stopped doting on it. I didn't mind the doves, but was hoping they would leave so I could move the nest and get rid of the useless speakers. Unfortunately by the time they did leave it was too cold and rainy to get outside and clean the space so I left it, thinking I could do it in the spring. But early one morning a couple of weeks back guess who reappeared?! They are back and have reclaimed their much for cleaning that space up! They were only gone for about 3 months, and if they make a repeat of last year I will have them hanging around (pooping on the deck) until next November.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Well that didn't last long!

How stupid I was to think I could keep a houseplant alive and well in my home...the home I share with the world's most destructive cat! Everything had been going so well, I haven't over/under watered the plants and they are getting as much sun as they can at this time of year. But that was short lived. I just popped into my tiny studio (home of the plants) to drop some papers on my desk. I was just going to brush my teeth and head back into the studio, so I left the door open (stupid move). Part way through brushing my teeth I realized the cat that had been hovering around, watching me brush my teeth was gone, but he had not gone far. He was in the studio. I stuck my head in the open door, his eyes met mine and he bolted - he knew he had done something bad and ran, and I didn't need to look at the plants to know what had happened.

In only 30 seconds Buster managed to maul three leaves. Sure, it may not be the end of the plant (I hope) but it goes to show that nothing is safe when that cat is around. And here I was hoping he may get over his plant chewing ways so I could have some plants around the house, rather than keep them locked away in one room! What a disappointment.

Something else I had considered way back was getting hanging plants, something that would be out of reach from Buster. But I just don't trust that he wouldn't still try to get at a plant that is suspended from the ceiling. I can picture him climbing up onto nearby furniture and jumping for a leaf...and knowing this cat, he would either get the plant and destroy it or destroy the furniture trying (or both). In the past, when my mum has cat-sat him, she placed any/all tempting plants up high or behind a closed door. Putting plants up high was not enough of a deterrent; he was caught red-pawed teetering on the edge of the dining room table, positioned and ready to launch himself to the top of the china cabinet where a plant had been moved for safe keeping! And more recently I have been finding evidence that Buster has been climbing up on the tops of the kitchen cabinets when no one is around (or when he thinks no one is around - I caught him Saturday night!). He jumps onto the stove (safe, right?!) then up to the fridge, then from the fridge to the cabinets. I have no idea how long he has been doing this. It seems he just has to get into everything, and everywhere he goes he leaves a trail of destruction, paw prints and fur. What am I to do?!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Giving it another go!

Okay, I hope this doesn't make me a bad person, but I have gone out and got myself a few more houseplants. Why would that make me a bad person you ask?! If you recall, I don't have the best track record of keeping houseplants (succulents in particular) alive. It's something to do with wanting to show the plants my love by watering them...and apparently I am showing too much love to my cacti?! Also there is the problem with the soon as there is a plant in sight, he must paw at it, rub up against it or try to eat it. 

This one (above) is going to be the biggest challenge, since Buster was successful at demolishing a similar plant at my mum's house a couple of Christmases ago. He silently chewed off the ends of every leaf in one evening, I have no idea if the plant was safe for him to chomp on, but he showed no signs of illness. I am protecting this plant from the cat by keeping it in the studio, which is basically a cat-free-zone. I am also doing my best not to over-water these guys (below). Fingers crossed!

Buster has rubbed up against a cactus before, he didn't seemed phased by it, but the spikes were not terribly sharp. These two cacti are much tougher, should he try to rub his chin on these, he would be in for a painful surprise!

Monday, 4 March 2013

This past weekend...

This past weekend was full of boring old housework. Laundry, cleaning, shopping for necessities and all that boring, tiring and time consuming stuff. So after all that work, I decided to treat myself! I made a crumble...or is it a crisp? What is the difference - is there a difference? Whatever, I made a dessert and it was good!

I will admit that last week I sort of made a trial apple crumble. It was very spur-of-the-moment and I made do with what I had on hand. It was not bad, but I think I may have perfected things this past Sunday! The recipe is is nothing ground breaking, just a fairly standard fruit crumble recipe, but something about making a warm, hearty and fruity dessert is satisfying on a cold day (and damn it was cold Sunday!).

Apple and Berry Crumble


4 granny smith apples, peeled/cored/cut into pieces
1 cup mixed berries (I used frozen)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/4 Tsp ground cloves
1/4 Tsp nutmeg (I use whole nutmegs on a grater, so 1/4 Tsp is aprox)
1/2 Tsp vanilla extract


3 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp rolled oats
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 Tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter
pinch of salt

Combine apples, berries, sugar, vanilla and spices for the filling in a large bowl, then transfer to your baking dish (I used an 8" glass dish). In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter for the topping. Mix together by hand until the butter is in smallish (pea-sized) pieces, then add in oats. Mix well and pack on top of the fruit mixture in baking dish. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees (or until fruit is bubbling and top is golden). Makes 4 hearty servings. Best served warm with vanilla ice cream...or custard...or whipped cream...or vanilla yogurt...this list goes on!