Monday, September 25, 2017

Doggie Breath and Tidbits

After Saturday night's all-nighter getting the dogs all used to each other, we spent most of Sunday in bed watching Westerns. But...we managed to get ALL FIVE dogs up on the bed with us, I know, it's really cozy (hmmm, that should read "crazy"!)...I have two legs under there somewhere and so does Alex lol...At one point Oscar the cat braved the little spot he could find, but didn't stick around long enough to be photographed!

Check this out...I just took a picture of my little froggie thermometer on the's 43 degrees in the shade. This is weather we should have had from May to August!! I'm on the porch by myself in my bathing suit taking very good advantage of some quiet alone "Rain time". All the pets are inside with the A/C on (yes, Sam, I caved lol!!!). Being in the valley of the Laurentian mountains, there is also always a humidex, but I have no idea what it is and I really don't want to know! I just know that my normally straight hair is now an afro of picture required lol!

We are coming up on "monthly shopping day" next Monday so I have a bunch of cookbooks next to me and I'm starting my meal planning for the month of October. I've done so well the last year with monthly meal planning and grocery shopping that I actually have a really good supply of chicken, beef, pork and fish in the freezer! A year after starting this adventure, I'm cutting October's grocery bill by two thirds because I don't really need all that much food! Wonderful isn't it? Hard work DOES pay off! :)

One of the cookbooks I got at the thrift store had these little tidbits as part of the instructions, I thought it was funny!

I can't imagine turning the oven on tonight so I took the slow cookers out and I'm making two chilis. One with beef and spices for Alex and one with chicken and no spices for me (recipe: Rain's Chili). I was up AGAIN just before 5am, sigh...but I guess it was a good thing today because I got the chilis going before it got really hot.

I'm really taking advantage of this weather...before I know it, I'll be smack into six months of THIS:

Happy Monday! :)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

We Have Company! Cheese, Garden and Knitting Updates! (YOP Week 13)

FIVE dogs in the house! With our three, we have added Stella and dear Pavlov! Our friend in Montreal had to fly back overseas, poor guy, his father passed away. So yesterday at 4:30pm, he called and asked if we could babysit his dogs for 2-3 weeks because his flight was in 6 hours! 7pm, we were back in Montreal (oh the horror on a Saturday night), picking up his dogs. We babysat Pavlov for 6 weeks when our friend was trying to find a place to live back in June and July. Now we have him and his mom Stella. I think the next few weeks will be INSANE. Including the cats, there are eight pets in the house! 

Before the whirlwind craziness began yesterday, I did manage to knit something! I found a cute pattern for an engraved-style Pumpkin Dishcloth or place mat. It's the first time I followed a pattern like this, it was easy, just knits and purls, but it required focus! I'm going to make at least one more for place mats for Halloween I think. I saw a few others that I might try as well. (Visit the group on Ravelry for more updates!)

Speaking of knitting, I got my yarn order! These are two of the colours I chose for socks. First time sock-making imminent...since I can't handle double-pointed needles too well, I did some research and found these teensy tiny little circular sock needles. Oh my gosh, they are so small! This will be a learning curve for me!!! I hope I can do a lot of "porch knitting" this week. It's going to be hot and sunny until Thursday. The dogs will dictate my projects for the next little while I think! :)

The tomatoes are ripening and we're getting LOTS of little cherry tomatoes every other day! I'm still waiting to see if my pumpkins will turn orange!

On the cheese front: My Cams are still forming bloomy white mold all over (more on Rainy Day Cheese Making). It may be hard to see, but the raised white areas are the mold. This is all very exciting!! I can't wait to try all these amazing cheeses! I wanted to try making another poutine cheese this weekend, but with the dogs, it might not happen.

I made a baked spaghetti in our new (used) Corningware dishes. Of course, I used my homemade Mozzarella and look how wonderfully it melted! We have one ball of Mozza left so I have to find some time this week to make another batch for aging. I love making my own cheese! :)

And just for fun, I wanted to share these photos I took with my Canon camera. I admit I've been lazy with the photography lately because isn't it just so easy to pull out your cell phone?? But I've been up so early these days, at 5am for some reason, so Friday morning I decided to try to take photos of the sunrise. I had the mode on "burst" - which means it takes hundreds of photos one after the other when you just keep the shutter button pressed. But I kept moving around and look what happened.

Aren't they kind of neat? I love the tree photo, they look so wispy. They give me ideas for paintings too. It just goes to show that you don't always need to take still photography for interesting results! I used to really enjoy photography and that's one thing I've really let slide, but I'm going to make sure I keep it up from now on because it's a great way to be creative; and also in my case, bond with nature!

I hope you all have a lovely week my friends! I still hope I can do some painting this week...canine rules though! :) Wish us luck!!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hats!...Jukebox Burgers and Thrift Store Bargains

The reason why Alex and I drove to Montreal on Wednesday was to look at some Akubra hats! Akubra is an Australian company that makes great outback-style hats and we recently have become very obsessed with them. We love the look and we have definitely become hat people!

These hats are worth hundreds of dollars, but we found a seller who had a few of them used for very little money and they were in amazing condition. I feel like I can't leave the house without a hat on anymore lol...

Okay, I couldn't resist lol...Jack in his ten-gallon hat! :)

From our house to Montreal is two hours each way so we decided to treat ourselves to dinner in town. We tried out a really neat diner called Jukebox Burgers. It's very 50's style and it was really fun, a bit pricey, but what the only live once!

I had the "Cheesy Dean" burger and Alex had the "Humphrey" burger. All the food is named after Hollywood stars of that era. Of course, we had side-poutines!! Martha, if you're ever in Dollard, it's worth a stop!

A little Camembert Update! It's been 2 days in the drying box and already my little Cams are forming bloomy white mold. I darkened the photos and put a little yellow in it so you can see the difference but it's all very white in reality. Soon that will cover the entire cheese and hopefully look like this in mid-November:

Sam if you're reading, a Camembert is a soft cheese from France that is very much like a Brie. Very creamy in the middle, sometimes mild, sometimes really stinky and strong! I think mine will turn out mild!

We made it to the bi-monthly thrift stores again yesterday and I got another haul of cookbooks for fifty cents each. I also found a quilt-making book! Honestly, it's a score to find English books here!

The most expensive purchase of the day was this beautiful glass cake stand at $10. Our last one had a big crack in it and no lid, Alex saw this one and snatched it up while some other lady was eyeing it least there was no big fight! ;)  And I'll be putting these two Corningware dishes to good use tonight with baked spaghetti. 

We also bought some clothes and blankets...which the cats decided to use for bedding this morning...back into the washing machine they go lol...good lesson -PUT YOUR CLOTHES AWAY right away out of the drier!!! :) A twenty dollar day also included a really nice chandelier that we packed away for when we buy our place. We try to be very frugal and our goal is to buy everything used if we can. Not only is it good for the budget, but I find that you get better quality items - even if they are used they are better quality than a lot of new items for sale. As we all know, the quality of merchandise has taken a nose-dive the last decade or so, and it keeps sinking. Sad but true.

We were so stoked with the Akubra hats we bought, in fact, I got one and Alex found three. One is too big for him, but he's been learning how to clean, re-shape, stiffen and mold the hats to his liking, it's a nice new hobby and maybe one day he'll make one of his own too. They're kind of like Stetson cowboy with that in mind, I made a "Cowboy Dinner" last night! Chicken Fricassee and Fart & Dart Beans.

Hmmm...all that was missing was the ringing of the big triangle dinner bell and a stiff shot of bourbon! :)

Today's mountain view walking the dogs. Life is pretty good isn't it? :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Scribble Picnic: Watch Out!...Camembert...Garden Update

"Don't disturb the water and it won't disturb you!"

When you're in the ocean, do you think you're on top of the food chain? Think again. I'm a big fan of all critters...even the ones in the ocean that frighten me! I think we humans are much more dangerous...but that's for another post! :)

This week's Scribble Picnic theme is Watch Out! Whenever I do a watercolour, I'm always influenced by water...I guess that goes hand in hand! This is an image I saw online and only realized after I finished it that it is also an album cover for the band Faith No More. I know this because that's Alex's favourite band and he was pleasantly surprised to see it! I enjoyed doing this painting. The only area where I didn't use water is inside the mouth because I wanted it to be dark and dangerous! Who knows what's been in there??? :)

So how have you spent the beginning of your week? I had time to start my Camembert!! (I'll do a full post this weekend on Rainy Day Cheese Making!) This was such an easy recipe to make, but it took a lot of different cultures which I'd been waiting on in the mail. At this phase in the photo, the Cams are draining in the "Camembert/Brie Hoops" as they're called. They are molds with no tops or bottoms, which allows the whey to drain evenly downward; but also I've read this is to help the Camembert (or any soft cheese) sink down and you avoid holes.

This is a photo after about 18 hours of draining in the hoops. They still need to drain all day today. Tonight I'll be salting them, and then they go right into the cheese cave for about 2 weeks until that "bloomy white" starts to form all over the cheese. Then I wrap them and continue to age them about 4-6 weeks. They should be ready by mid-November!! I need to increase my dog walking because we have a Cheddar, a Colby, a Dry Jack AND TWO Camemberts to munch on from mid-October through to the end of November!!! Oooh la la! :) Gotta get more vino! :)

Camembert for some reason, seems intimidating...but it's not at all. The Mozza was more of a struggle! I made bread and yogurt while I was making the Camembert too, I guess I had energy about tempting fate though...good thing the pets were all quiet so I could focus and not mess any of the three recipes up!

I used a sweet yogurt bacteria to make my Vanilla Yogurt and it turned out okay - a little tart, it could have been sweeter...I have to tweak the recipe a little next time, but some maple syrup saved the day.

Gardening News!!  I have TWO pumpkins! I had to cut down most of the plants because little did I realize, my poor pumpkin plants were infected with white powdery mildew. I read that this is due to way too much moisture and not enough sun - the perfect description of our summer this year. Anyway, I'm hoping the pumpkins will do okay despite that year I'll be more prepared.

I do have two more small ones growing, do you think they'll make it???

We have some funny looking cukes growing too, I can't believe they are finally growing though!

The tomatoes are sparse but turning red!

Another foggy morning walking the dogs on the mountain, you wouldn't know there was a forest and lake back there!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jack's Birthday...Smoked Cheddar and Apple Fondue...YOP (Week 12)

Hi Everyone :)

Here is my Year of Projects update! I knitted another hat. You Ravelry people have created a monster !! :) I even did some more work on my Beach/Fall Cover Up. The weather is so nice I've enjoyed porch-knitting every day! :) I also found a Canadian based online yarn company and am happily waiting for an order of yarn and needles!! I can't seem to stop now! :) I want to make some socks and I have some fall decorative knitting in mind too! And I might make another colour for each of my moods, lol!!! :) 

All of my other projects have slowed down for now. No cheese making because I was waiting on an order, which I received on Friday! These are my Camembert molds.

And my Camembert moulds. :) This is my next cheese and if I have time this week, I'll make a few. Alex and I have some errands in the "big city" this week, gah....we hate driving to Montreal...but we'll grin and bear it. Heck, we'll even sneak in an authentic poutine while we're there to soften the blow lol! 

It was Jack's birthday yesterday!! Our little fella is eleven years old. We don't know his real birthday so we celebrate on the anniversary of the day we adopted him!

I made the Spoiled Dog Cake again and we cut a little piece for each dog after dinner. We have to cut Jack's up in small pieces or he'll swallow it whole!

The dogs wait patiently as Alex says "take your place"...they are ready to pounce as soon as he says "okay!"...the cake was gone in less than 7 seconds...I counted! :)

Alex and I celebrated four and a half years together last week too. :) I try to make a fondue once a month on our special day. This one was AMAZING...and perfect for fall. Smoked Cheddar and Apple Fondue. Wow...we had an apple cider with it, so nice! We had to go for a long walk after dinner to help us digest! One thing about Quebec...they do apples right. There are so many orchards here and a few spots that make ciders, apple ice wines and apple liqueurs.

The fondue called for Apple Butter so I decided to make some. I made it very bland since I didn't want any spices in it. It's just 8 apples (peeled, cored and sliced), tossed into the crockpot for 8 hours with a sprinkling of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. I blended it after and it made about 2 cups. Delicious! Since apples and pears are in season now, we're going to try to load up when we go out so we can store some...and so we can try making some apple and pear liqueurs!

The weather is PERFECT!! Each morning it's cool, around 10 degrees Celcius...when I walk the dogs up the mountain, it's been foggy every morning. I love it! Then the afternoons are hot and humid so I can sit on the porch and enjoy what's left of summer. I always take a photo of the lake to show you the view...

...and here is a photo from behind me. This is the top of the "Green Peak" where I live. It's nice that there are some benches there but unfortunately I often see cigarette butts and empty beer bottles. At least when I go early in the morning, there is nobody around.

September promises to be "Indian Summer" here in the Laurentians and I couldn't be more thrilled! My tomatoes are ripening on the vine finally! :)