I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


I'm continuing to run, currently sitting on Week 7 of the program - trying to get back at it after a two-week hiatus. Today was 13ish minutes running (covered 2km in that time, hooray), then the return distance home a mix of running and walking. I'll get there.

It was on the homestretch that I got this strange sensation.

I was looking down the road, and the horizon point was completely the focus, as if the peripheral had faded away. All seemed still. My feet as I ran felt more stable, more sure on each step. My legs forgot they were mad at me and whispered that they could run all day. My breathing felt as if it didn't matter.

It felt oddly out-of-body (or maybe just in a better body?). For a moment I felt good, I felt strong.

Then reality jumped out of the bushes in a flying tackle and reminded me I was dead tired. From the surreal zone back to life, I plodded the rest of the way through the run home.

But that moment ... I want it again.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

road trip recap

- a post in which I just realized there a lots of initials. hmm. But, in interests of a shred of internet anonymity, I will use them. If you simply must know who an initial is, email me and I might just tell. -

July had a first for me: a road trip with just me and the girlies. R and A had been in Birmingham for World Changers and after a week of hot work painting and scraping, stayed on in the city with the B's. Several fun days with S, B, and L later, they started driving north.

Meanwhile, I headed south with M to meet them part way. After an overnight stay with the H's in PA, we got an early start and headed past Baltimore and Washington, to meet S and the girls at a hotel in Williamsburg. Happy hugs and reunions all around!

We had entertained thoughts of Colonial Williamsburg, having missed it in December after a snowstorm, but with the day half gone we decided instead to try Jamestown Settlement - open later, and cheaper admission. It's very cool: a recreated fort, seaside (complete with ships!), and Native village with people in period costume showing different aspects of life in the area in 1607. The girls got to try twisting grass into rope, watching flint tools and clay pots be made, scraping a deer hide, and seeing a musket fired. It was so hot though and we were glad to get back to the hotel before supper.

M being stately on the ship's deck

The next day S returned south (boo for not being able to say when we'll see her next!) and we started north. Had an last minute scheduled lunch meet-up with a friend from WoW in Richmond, which was lots of fun and at Panera! Love that restaurant. Then we got to face Friday afternoon Washington traffic. ouchies.

Eventually though we did return to our first night's stop in PA, where we stayed on for a couple days. Saturday was spent at Gettysburg, a place D would have loved and I want to go see again. We did a self-guided car tour led by a CD (note: that's an audio CD, not somebody's initials ... sigh... this gets confusing). Sunday was relaxing with the H's, something we definitely liked after all the driving and before our return home on Monday.

A few highlights:

- bashing my head on most of the beams on the ship. Low ceilings are not my friend.
- long talks and silliness in the truck with the girls
- many games of pool at the H's, the girls loved that. (A: "can we get a pool table?")
- s'mores! yummmm. Many thanks to GH for that great idea!
- seeing S, even for only such a short time, and hand-delivering my letter. Wonder if she followed the instructions of putting it in her mailbox a la Mr. Bean when she got home?
- meeting DH's parents, listening to his dad play the banjo and singing along with him for a short bit. That was fun!
- seeing history, both re-enacted and walking the places where it actually happened.
- sitting and talking, often described as 'doing nothing', are simple pleasures that I really do enjoy.
- learning about some PA railway history, also interesting. Realizing that I would not have the patience to make a scaled, accurate model railway :) But it sure was cool to see the one others had made.
- one of these days, we really do need to make it to Williamsburg.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

daring kitchen, july

This month's challenge was a fun one and once again had me trying something new: nut butter. Yes, there is in fact more out there than Skippy.

"The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online."

I started this one early (and posted this entry late, thanks to travels).

I made cashew butter in the food processor - a loud process but it made a nice butter with a more subtle flavor than peanut butter. This was then added to all sorts of goodies - soy sauce, raw garlic and ginger, sesame oil, and rice vinegar - to make a sauce that was simply AMAZING. The smell of it literally drew my family into the kitchen to taste it. This brought rave reviews and the requirement of chasing them back out so there would be less sampling and enough sauce for the noodle salad.

making cashew butter.
and yes that's duct tape on the food processor thanks to a drop a year ago. oops.

Some rice noodles boiled and rinsed (first time using those, and very good), peppers, basil, a bit of lime juice, scallions, and some sauteed shrimp were tossed with the dark brown sauce to finish the dish.


And, in a word, WOW. We loved it! Me, D, and all three girls cleaned our plates and wanted more. The sauce was so good and savory, the shrimp just barely cooked to be tender and flavorful. Definitely a make-again!

I would like to try it again with roasted cashews versus the raw ones I used. I also played with pecan butter later (yum!) in the month to make a sauce with port wine for venison. That had a nice flavor but was almost too much with just the meat - that deserves another go with a stroganoff-type serving, methinks.

Friday, 9 July 2010

chicken surprises

It sounds like some sort of food but is in fact a description of the last 24 hours.

Yesterday while rescuing a teensy swallow (so cute!) that had fallen out of its nest I had a funny feeling on my skin. You know when you wake up at night, and think "there's something crawling on my arm!" but it's just your mind being silly? Ok, picture that feeling but when you look at your arm, there really ARE tiny somethings crawling on your arm. Ick, ick.

They look like dark specks of dust. Well, if dust was self-propelling I guess. But they are indeed the return of bird mites, commonly carried by wild birds. So, after a quick wash to get them off, I looked at the chickens who hang out in that barn. Oh goody, things moving around under their feathers.

One trip to the feed store and D's return from the hardware store (I needed a respirator,
apparently) later, I suited up looking like I was ready to clean up the Gulf Oil spill AND Three Mile Island, all in one. I looked just that good. Not really, but in the 30C (upper 80sF) evening it was, quite literally, hot. I put the anti-critter dust on the ten hens, who refused to enjoy the little massage they were getting and instead got annoyed with me. This morning they seem no worse for wear but I've not yet checked for effectiveness.

Further research last night makes me think some of what I saw were not bird mites, but the also-common bird lice. Double goody! At least the powder I put on them was good for both. We get to repeat the process in ten days, hooray!

This morning's surprise was on my visit to the barn to which D had evicted the swallow nest. I looked to see if the wee ones had made it and found none. Either snatched up or moved by the parents, I'm not sure, but I fear the former. While standing there, I saw one of our 4-week-old chicks also standing there and looking at me. Somehow it had snuck out of the pen, missed being counted when we shut the doors, and - most surprising - survived the night. With M's help she was caught and put back with her friends where I'm sure she'll tell them stories about the big world.

Wonder what today will bring?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

obligatory hot weather post ... and food.

Ah, Canadians. We love to talk about the weather. We are in the middle of a heat wave the likes of which I've not seen for a while. It's hot, stupidly hot. Mind-meltingly hot. I walked outside yesterday and my sunglasses fogged up. The humidity outside right now - before 9 am - is 84%, and with the humidity the weather network cheerfully tells me it already feels like 37C (98F). At what point can one drown in humidity?

Making decisions is only well done inside, in the relative cool of the air conditioning; to try and decide something outside leaves me standing, my head on a slight angle, thinking ... thinking ... and then I forget what it was I was trying to decide. This is because while my mind is trying to be logical, my body is screaming "the pool! It's blue, and clear, and cool, and refreshing! Go now! The pool! It calls to us! Why aren't you there yet? Go!"

Last night, as the base temperature was 34C (93F) and the humidity made it feel like 45C (115F), I made supper while I floated in the pool. The rotisserie I bought for our grill turned happily, cooking a pork roast perfectly. I'd adapted a recipe to end up with a yummy marinade (soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lots of ginger and garlic, crushed pineapple), then made a salad with a similar vinaigrette (soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar) and some toasted almonds (hooray for the grill's side burner!). It was tender, tasty, and my kitchen was no hotter for it.

Today promises to be at least as hot. A tapas-style meal has a lot of appeal for me today, and I may have the stuff in my fridge to pull it off. Tapas by the pool with a crisp dry Riesling sounds delightful.

Well, that's one major decision taken care of. Whew.