Monday, July 28, 2008

Home again

We've been away to the east coast again- this time Prince Edward Island via Maine. It was a wonderful trip- lots of fun & relaxing, seafood and many many good memories. I didn't really want to leave.....I believe I was a Maritimer in another life- I belong by the sea!

Ethan really took to the ocean this year, and declared the "big waves" (picture arms outstretched) his "favourite" (a term used generously and with much abandon these days).

The waves were second only to the thrill of using bar soap. Yes, that's right- bar soap. There was bar soap at the cottage, which I guess we don't often use at home (being a less-mess liquid soap fan myself!) and it was the hands-down winner of new experiences for E. For this we travelled 2000km????


Some more pictures here.

Now, back to the laundry.....more garden stories coming!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Garden Saga- Part 1

If you know me personally, or even through this blog, you probably know I love gardening. You may also recall that we bought our current house just days before Ethan was born and were negotiating the final details during labour, taking a brief pause for delivery and recovery. It was all kind of done on a whim, as we weren't planning on moving but this house in our favourite neighbourhood came up for sale, and it just needed a little work, and the price was really right, and how much work could one tiny baby be anyways? Did I mention we bought it in February, under a blanket of snow, and no firm recollection of what the house looked like in summer? Bad idea.

Our old house went on the market when Ethan was 1 week old, sold rapidly and we were set to take possesion of the new one by May 1. After some floor refinishing, painting and minor fix-ups, we moved in when Ethan was 10 weeks old. We already had a feeling that we'd taken on more than we'd bargained for, what with the growing list of issues that needed to be addressed sooner than later (and the baby that was taking up a lot of our time!) and then, spring brought this:

So, breathe deeply....and try not to weep I told myself. It's a few shrubs and perrenials that need a little cleaning up, no big deal. Maybe some weeding. Except, it was just the beginning. We'd already taken down 3 hugely overgrown junipers which took over a third of the driveway, and now it looked like we'd be pulling weeds and digging and seperating perrenials for the rest of our lives. It kept growing and growing. And spreading. And multiplying. And, by August, it looked like this:

We were in violation of several city by-laws and we'd already had neighbours "dropping by" asking us what we were going to do about "cleaning up this shit" (as one of the retirees so nicely put it!). One woman actually showed up armed with gardening books and plenty of advice, treating me like I was a gardening neophyte, but made no offer to get her hands dirty or anything like that. She annoyed me so much, I still barely speak to her! It seems the garden had originally been planted by an environmental scientist, who filled it with native trees, shrubs and perennials.....and yes, even some weeds, because I guess that's authentic. I remember the house from back then, and he actually took care of it and it was under control. It was really nice, if you're into that kind of thing, and it even won some awards. Unfortunately, the most recent owner, had done nothing for 5 years, except for weed-whacking it all down in fall. So, we'd inherited a gigantic weed and wildlife infested mess. And it smelled weird too.

Now, we're not afraid of digging in and doing some hard work- we'd expected to do some projects- but this was beyond what we had time or energy for. So, I did what any frantic, overwhelmed, sleep-deprived new mother with a chronically sore back and infant permanently attached to her, would do- I called professionals. How much to pull it all out and just put it to sod, and we'd deal with it from there? Harry the landscaper (and I really do love Harry- he's very honest) came over, took one look at it, cursed a lot, then cursed the "idiot" that had planted it and told me that he had pretty much no interest in dealing with "this f&*#ing mess". But, if he must, it would be $7000. That was just for the front yard! I told him I'd think about it. Then I wept, called Colin, explained the situation, wept some more, and called Harry back and said no thanks. He thanked me profusely and proceeded to tell me exactly what to do to clear it up ourselves. It involved some power tools, possibly some large machines, and definitely a whole bunch of Round Up. I wrote it all down, wept some more and we made a plan. To be continued.....

Monday, July 7, 2008

Trampoline Boy

My cautious, shy & careful little boy is growing up, and I'm not sure I like it. I do not have the stomache to be the mother of a hellion. First it was rollerskates, then the stunts on his tricycle and big wheel, and crazy-high swinging at the park. Note the numerous scrapes, bumps and bruises. This weekend he took on a trampoline, along with his older second cousins. At first he wanted no part of it, but after dinner (and isn't that the perfect time to get on a trampoline??!) he snuck out with his dad and climbed on when no one was looking. His giggles and laughter could be heard around the block, and soon every kid at the party was on there with him.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Back in the saddle

Colin and I used to be avid cyclists. Two or three times a week, we used to head out for rides of fairly significant length- 25km, 40km, sometimes even 60km on a weekend. We loved it. Our favourite ride was always Friday evening after work. We'd get home, get changed, grab a bottle of wine and head up the Iron Horse Trail (a great rails to trails conversion in our city). First stop would be Vincenzo's, for gourmet sandwiches and other treats. Then we'd bike up to Columbia Lake and have a picnic. Kind of romantic, and a nice way to end the week.

Then, along came Ethan, and the romance died....well, not really, but it did put a bit of a kink in our bike rides. The first year, he was too tiny to fit in a bike seat or even in a trailer, and frankly, we were too tired to even contemplate dusting the bikes off. Year two, we bought a bike seat and went out a couple of times. Ethan seemed to enjoy it but only for 30 minutes or so. And still, we were tired and unmotivated, or maybe just old! Last year, he was too big for the seat and we invested in a bike trailer. Now that he's 3, he's really into it. Today was a beautiful day, and we did a big ride, for the first time in 4 years, and we both have the sore butts to prove it! But, it was great and we're so glad we did it.

We headed out this morning, sans wine of course, and followed the Iron Horse Trail up to Waterloo Park and beyond to the Laurel Trail, eventually looping around for a brief stop at Columbia Lake (where Canada Day festivities were just beginning) and then Waterloo Park (where we had to visit the zoo and the playground). We were happy to see that recent development hadn't obliterated our favourite part of the Laurel Trail- the part that winds through the farm fields.

Ethan loved it and was content to sit, greet other cyclists and walkers, and generally urge his dad to go faster, for a good 2-3 hours. Now we can't wait to plan some more trips.....


Sunday was BBQ day....mostly an excuse for Colin to cook a big hunk of meat on the Big Green Egg. We decided to try pulled pork, which involves a long (really long), slow, low temperature cook. It also involves a significant amount of meat, which in turn means we need people to show up and eat! And show up and eat they was a real crowd pleaser. One of our guests hadn't eaten pork in years but kept going back for more, and more, and more. His wife looked a bit concerned. Now he's in the market for an Egg of his own!

The process started on Saturday, when I went to pick up the pork shoulder I'd ordered from the butcher. When we showed up to pick up the 10lb shoulder I'd ordered, he happily presented me with 16.5 lbs instead....eeek! (or maybe I should say "oink"!). We rushed it home, where I slathered and massaged it with mustard and various rub ingredients and stuck it in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours at least. We started cooking it around dinnertime on Saturday night and it finished around 4pm on Sunday, so probably close to 22 hours. We had a bit of trouble keeping the temperature steady at 250F (at which point Colin kept bring up the BBQ Guru, which apparently he'd been eyeing up for some time, as in hint hint....he'd love one), ran out of charcoal once and had to bump up the temp to 300F when hungry guests were starting to circle the Egg and we still had 15 degrees to go. The effort was worth it...really tender and juicy, with a nice spicy crust. We'll definitely do this again.

The rest of the meal was rounded out by a bunch of interesting appetizers, salads, condiments and desserts, contributed by various guests & myself, and a giant pitcher of margaritas and lots of beer. The rain stopped and the sun came out, just as everyone was arriving....all in all, a perfect afternoon / evening.

Happy Canada Day!