To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I've been making Sangria since I was 20 and a friend of mine served it at her cottage. Cid and her family were amazing cooks and every time I visited their cottage, I was in awe of the delicious food they served. My mother was not the best cook, nor was she creative in her cooking so everything I've learned, I've learned from other people. I have a couple other recipes of Cid's that I continue to make on occasion, but this remains my favorite version of Sangria, except for that time I had it with Tequila, but we're not talking about that one. (kidding)

This photo is just the base. I let it sit all day in the refrigerator and added the wine and soda in the evening.


1/2 c sugar
1/2 c hot water
1/2 c brandy
1/4 c Triple Sec
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1.5 liters dry red wine (use cheap, young wine)
1 liter club soda

Dissolve sugar in hot water and pour into a large pitcher. Add Brandy and Triple Sec, orange, lemon and lime slices, give it a good stir and let marinate all day, if possible. Add red wine and club soda, and serve in pretty glasses with lots of ice and a slice of fruit in each glass. Enjoy on the front porch with your feet propped up and a smile on your face.

Really, I love this stuff. Would you please let me know if you make it? I would love to know how you like it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boating sort of week.

I don't paddle my kayak much when the weather is in the 90's. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but really, it's hot on top of the water too and I can barely handle the heat wave as it is. Instead, I count my blessings in that I have friends with power boats, and that I live with an ocean just a few miles away. There is nothing like an evening boat ride to cool down.
This is a charming place to go for dinner on a week night and I get such a kick out of it's eclectic decor - definitely a throw-back to the 60's and 70's. During the week it's quiet, laid-back and peaceful, so unlike the chaos of a Saturday afternoon.
It's really called 'Red Dock.'
You tie your boat up to a floating dock, climb a couple steps, grab a seat and you're here. There is no indoor seating.
Oh, they mean it too. I was eating here with friends one evening, talking and having a good time, we turned around to order another beverage and everything was locked up. Closed. Not a soul in sight. ~grins~ It was sunset and they went home. We could stay as long as we liked, but we couldn't get service. How funny is that?
Another lovely evening on the water. But still, it was very warm once we got back to the slip. Can we go for another spin?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

If only they could talk.

Want another post about my love of old items? How about these?
These clothespins were rescued from the cellar of my friend's mother's house. They were given to me in a plastic bucket and had been stored for years. Being the particular person that I am, I wanted to clean and sort them so I took the pins to the back yard and dumped them in a box for sorting. Then I laughed. I laughed because I found two stubbed out cigarette butts in the bucket and the next thing you know, my mind wandered into a story of how they came to be mixed in with the clothespins. Now, my friend's mother died a few years ago, but it was much longer since she had hung laundry to dry on the line. I also know that she hadn't smoked since my friend was a young child so it was at least 50 years ago.

Imagine a summer day. With her shoulder, Mrs. L pushes open the back door with it's ever familiar squawk and steps barefoot into the backyard with a basket of freshly washed laundry on her hip. It's hot, not miserably so, but it is hot. Glancing up, she notices the sky is a gorgeous blue except for those couple of fluffy clouds that will provide brief respite from the blazing sun. From two doors down she can hear the sound of children laughing and the rhythmic squeal of metal on metal as a child pumps his swing back and forth, back and forth. Mrs. L sets the basket on the ground, reaches in for a piece of her child's clothing, shakes it out, takes a pin from the bucket and pins the shirt on the line. She does this repeatedly, finding the task comforting and thinking of her child as she slowly hangs shirts and shorts on the line. As she reaches for another pin, she notices the packet of cigarettes she has hidden in the bucket. You see, she doesn't smoke anymore, hasn't for months...well, except for those few she sneaks when no one is around and she has a few moments to herself. She glances about the yard and not seeing anyone close by, she takes a cigarette from the pack, puts it to her lips (she always wore red lipstick), lights it, inhales...and a slight smile forms on her lips. She really does like smoking. Just then, she hears the footfalls of someone running on the sidewalk along side the house and then the sound of her son's voice calling, "Mom?" She exhales quickly, bends to stub the cigarette out in the dirt and pushes it down into the bucket so he won't see. She turns to her son and is soon lost in his questions and stories, and the cigarette is forgotten. That is, until I find it some 50 years later. It could have happened that way.

Did you know that Zippo made clothes pins? How about that? They make lighters for cigarettes so this mom from the 50's could sneak puffs while hanging clothes, so it fits that they made Zippo pins too. Imagine some marketing person coming up with that idea. "Hey, we know our customers sneak smokes while hanging laundry so let's sell them clothespins too." That's funny.
There was only one of these ingenius pins. Notice that it doesn't matter which end of the pin you grab because there are slits on both ends to hang clothes. Someone was thinking.
I should make some sort of shadow box for the laundry room with my collection of pins. You know, in case they have more stories to tell.
So, do you have any old finds you can make a story out of?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Playing With Knives

B found an Ulu knife in the barn at his mother's house...I just happened to want an Ulu knife. I wish I had a before picture because the knife was in extremely rough shape. Apparently it took an entire day and every tool in B's arsenal to get this cleaned up and sharpened. He went a step further and made a knife case out of selvaged wood from a cherry tree that had fallen in his yard a few years ago. He went even further and made me a knife sharpener. When he gave it to me I asked him how sharp it was, "very sharp," he said giving me a knowing look, for I have a bad habit of not respecting knives. I can't tell you the number of times I've cut myself over the years...including my tongue. Ouch!
The next morning I oiled the knife to keep it from rusting. I was being very careful, I swear I was. How sharp is the knife? Oh, yes, it is very sharp. There were blood spatters all over the kitchen sink and I think I said something like, "oh, shoot," or something like that. I texted B to tell him the knife was indeed sharp. He immediately called me and said, "you cut yourself, didn't you?" I did he know? And I hadn't even had the knife for 12 hours.

Still, I love the knife...and the case...and the sharpener. Thanks B.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I went for a walk...

on the premise that I would forage some free food. I love free food. I wasn't disappointed. The sights were pretty darned good too.
Whenever I need a quick, simple walk, I head for the creek and this bridge. It's always a peaceful refuge in the middle of the city, but I was also sure the path would provide me with an abundance of summer fruit.
Just a few puddles left from the torrential rains on Monday.
I see you lookin' at me.
My goal was wild red raspberries, but they were well protected by these vicious, vicious things. I brushed up against just one when reaching for the red berries. Ooooh, instant searing burn. All of the red raspberry patches seemed to have nettles mixed in. The pain was just not worth it to me. I went looking for blackberries instead.
There you are my pretties...
There you have it. Free food. I now have blackberry cordial brewing in the cupboard and I have more berries stashed in the freezer. Not bad for a couple hours of foraging.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I just found out I'm a criminal. Are you kidding me? Composting in my city is illegal???

Um, too bad. I refuse to stop. What are they going to do, dig up the compost area of my garden to see what I have buried there? "Hey, Mister, let me get you one of my shovels so you can turn it all over for me. It will decompose even better." Hah!

Stupid laws. Just sayin'.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cherries are in.

I love cherry season, and the sight of trees loaded with juicy red fruit just about makes me swoon. I love the smell, but especially the taste of freshly picked, sun warmed tart cherries. Heck, I don't even mind my fingers being sticky and stained from picking. Fresh picked fruit is so worth it.

Picking cherries (and blueberries) was my summer job for a few years. I always liked the sense of accomplishment that came with filling those buckets one right after the other, and of course I liked the money. Hey, five dollars a day was a lot to me back then. However, some of my favorite memories have to do with sitting perched on a branch high up in the tree, shaded from the blazing sun and gorging on juicy deliciousness as I watched others walking around beneath me. Oh, the taste...
As a young girl, I remember staying overnight with an aunt whose house was surrounded by a cherry orchard
and she would send us out to pick fresh fruit from the trees in her yard so she could make a pie. I. Love. Cherry. Pie. I really do. I'm trying to figure out what my favorite pie is and I can't be sure, but at the moment I'm saying it's cherry.

So, Saturday morning, tart cherries were in and my plan for the day was to pick some. I ended up with 15 pounds of tart and I could have used more, but I also accidently ended up with 12 pounds of sweet. I seriously only meant to pick enough to eat within a couple days, but because it took me a long time to fill a bucket with tarts, I guess I got carried away with how easy it was to pick the sweets and before I knew it, my bucket was full. So easy to pick. So easy to eat...I ended up giving away most of them, but I did keep just enough for me to eat within a couple days...or so.
The end result is cherry jam and canned cherry pie filling. I love having homemade pie filling in the cellar so I can whip up a pie any time I want during the winter. I'm thinking a cherry pie will be delicious in January.

Next up, blueberries and apricots. So much summer goodness.

Friday, July 1, 2011

African Violet

I've mentioned before about my grandmother keeping violets in the north window and how she always gave them the remainder of her nightly drink of water--and how they thrived for her. Well, it seems mine also love her cake stand.
I'm sure they feel special and pretty sitting on this stand and that's why they bloom so profusely. That, and the light, and the extra water I give them all the time. Still, I miss my grandmother.