Sunday, September 23, 2012

Heading to the Lindsay Fair

For a day of fun, sun and farmy goodness with my sweetie and one of his co-workers. It'll be nice to spend some time with him awake! He's been on nights all month so I sleep all night, he sleeps all day, and if we're lucky we find a few moments to snuggle in the middle. He's got a few day off, so we'll actually get to do some things together, like go to the fair! We're thinking of maybe taking our friend's daughter to a pick your own orchard later in the week too. And he doesn't know it yet, but I've got a honey do list for him too. I figured I'd let him have one day to recharge before I drop that bomb.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Fall Everyone!!!

This is my very favourite season. It's akin to christmas for me! I love seeing the colours, and smelling the smell of fallen leaves, whistling on acorn tops, and going to fall fairs. Fall is for welcoming new pathfinders and starting off a fresh guiding year. Fall is for soups, and squash, pumpkins and chili, applesauce and apple cider. For getting together with friends and family and bringing back the warmth within our hearts as the world at large slowly cools off. Looking forward to the spicy smell of ginger cookies and pumpkin pies in the house. Can't wait to light the first fire in the fireplace. Oh yeah. There's not a darn thing I dislike about fall. The tree above sadly is from last year. No spectacular colours here yet.
Waiting and wishing...

p.s. it's no coincidence that my wedding is a year from today. I not only wanted a fall wedding, I wanted the very first of it. When my honey bear woke up (he's been on nights) he said "er... happy pre-anniversary??". I do love that man so.

Horse Shows and Chili

This week from Wednesday to Sunday, the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave is playing host to the Canadian International Show Jumping Tournament. World class riders from all over Canada, and a few from abroad compete in three consecutive grand prix shows, with ever increasing prizes. Some call it the triple crown of show jumping.
I found out about it yesterday, and since it was my day off and I had nothing more pressing to attend to... well, nothing I wanted to attend to anyways... I went online, found out the when and wheres, and was in the car by around noon. The public parking was abysmal... a low lying field WAAAAAAY in the far reaches of Narnia... or perhaps it was Oz? It rained on and off all day, so I was more than a little worried about parking my Altima on grass. The good part? I walked more than I have all week I'm sure, especially since I forgot my phone in the car, and then later went back for some business cards.
The rain wasn't too bad, and there was a covered porch area by the little cafe where one could watch the show in dry, and relative comfort. It wasn't overly crowded, I think everyone there had a personal affiliation with one of the horses or riders in the show. Apparently it will be busier on the weekend, but I didn't mind. I got a seat out of the rain. And, it was close to the action, center of the ring, with nothing in front but a few shrubs.
Those are my boots, and beyond, the arena. In fact, that white jump in the top right corner of the picture was the first jump on the course. Pretty good seats. And yes darlings, I wore my boots. Cowboy hat too. Not to mention a big wooly sweater and down filled vest. It was brisk out but I was dressed for it. When the chill got too much I'd wander into the trailers set up for Greenhawk, Richvale Saddlery, and the Running Fox, (all heated) and thaw out while I ran my reverent fingers over leather tack I want already for horses I don't even own yet. I also handed business cards to the staff. You gotta figure they hear of someone looking for equine massage therapists. 
I watched a couple of schooling shows, and then around 2:30 maybe? The big action started. I was sharing the patio with owners and trainers, and did a lot of listening and asked a few pertinent questions about conditioning, training, and learned a lot about correct horse and rider posture and conformation for show jumping, what it looks like, and what it looks like when it goes wrong. I was also able to get a bit of a feel for what people at that level are paying for equine massage. Good networking, that. It should count for CEU's.
The horses were incredible! I tried to catch photos of horses in different phases of jumping, so I get a visual reminder of what muscles are doing what and when, and what might be causing potential strains.
Above is a horse collecting itself to take off, and below is a stunning grey mid-jump. I took photos over other fences as well, but the white one closest to me turned out best because my iPhone camera goes grainy when zooming in low lighting. 
The athleticism of these horses is incredible. While carrying a rider on their back they launch themselves up into the air, sometimes over the height of their own shoulder. They have to have enough momentum to fling themselves across the width of the jump, and then land cleanly on their feet, get their head up and aim themselves at the next jump, all within the span of about a second. And the riders! I don't have a whole lot of riding experience, but in a nice, deep, western saddle I have a hard time staying on the horse at a jog. These men and women are perched on a flat pancake, and not only cantering (same as a jog), but smoothly weathering little bucks and shies, not to mention keeping their seat through jumps over a meter and a half high! Equine sports truly amaze me, each and every one of them. 
When all was said and done and it was time to go home, I was feeling rather nervous on the LONG walk back to my car. I had visions of my car sitting in a puddle of mud, sunk in up to the rims, but though the ground was feeling pretty spongy and marshy, my tires were right where I left them. I put my little baby in to reverse and slowly let her ease herself out of the spot. It worked like a charm. Three cheers for my "all-terrain" Altima!
It was already 5 by the time I left, and I was starting to get quite hungry! I was so grateful when I walked through the door and found a steaming pot of chili in the kitchen. My mother-in-law-to-be makes a heck of a chili. 
At the end of a brisk, breezy, damp day, boy was this ever the ticket. It was really a fabulous day all round! Andrew and I might go back on Sunday to catch the final show. Apparently there will be more public there, with an area set up for games, and falconry demonstrations... all kinds of good stuff. But you know me... I'm really just there for the horses!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Office Lunches...

Have never been so tasty!! The lighting in here is terrible, and my old iphone 3g really ought to have a flash, but there you have it folks, a jar of home made chicken soup. Paired with cucumbers, green beans and carrots to munch on. Hot Dawg!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A stock grandma would be proud of

All the more so because I don't believe my grandmother has ever made a soup stock in her life, but that's besides the point. Isn't it pretty? Clear and fortifying and so very flavourful. It's a stock anyone's grandma would be proud of I think. And best of all, it's all home made, and uses things (like the chicken bones) that otherwise would have been tossed. It's both recycled, and made from scratch. And the best part? Tuesday, when I add chicken, carrots, onions and pasta and turn it into a proper soup, the weather is supposed to be chilly and drizzly. Perfect soup weather!! Though, in my opinion, any weather can be soup weather...
Next on the docket is a nice creamy mushroom soup. I dehydrated a quart of portobello mushrooms earlier in the season with just such a soup in mind. I'm searching for a good recipe. Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Soupy Sunday

Or more specifically, broth. I'm making up a chicken broth with a few left over carcasses today, and then tuesday I'll make a proper chicken noodle soup out of it. I love soup. Soups of all sorts. And as the season creeps onwards and I feel the first whispers of fall in the air, I can't help but want soup, soup, soup and... what was it? oh yeah, soup. My parent's house looks like a Campbell's soup warehouse throughout the year, but the Sheehan's don't stock nearly as much of the stuff. Besides, I wouldn't mind cutting out some of the salt and ingredients I can't pronounce, so I'm experimenting with making some soups myself. The squash was less than spectacular, tasty, hearty and warm, but disappointing in colour and overall shelf appeal. You learn from trying though, and I can't wait to taste this chicken soup!

It's Cool, I've got CAA

This is my fiance's truck on the back of a flatbed tow truck this morning. Yep it's still black out. That's because it's 5:00 this morning. He had just finished a night shift and was on his way home. He made it most of the way with everything kind of acting funny, and then everything in the truck slowly died. About 5 minutes from the house she gave up the ghost. Power steering went, engine died. Night night truck. We figure it's the alternator, not too many other things it can be.
Around 5 I get a knock on my bedroom door. It's his mom. She's summoned the whole family... apparently the plan is to all go and push. Push where? I'm not quite sure. Home? Into the adjacent plaza? I don't really know what the plan was, except that it was 5 am and involved physical labour. Which is when it dawned on me: wait a minute, I have that brand new shiny CAA membership that I haven't even peeled off the paper backing yet. Of course, I realize this half way to the scene, so we turn around, go back to the house, and I grab the precious little card.
Not that I'm making out to be a big hero here or anything... a new alternator will be no laughing matter, but hey at least the tow was free. I was just too lazy to push a ford ranger up the hill at 5 am. Can ya blame me?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blurry but...

... You can see those gorgeous fins I was talking about!! That's him on the bottom right of the bowl.

Here Fishy Fishy

Several months ago my mom and I were invited to go through the storage locker of a friend's mom who had passed away. Her family took what they wanted, and then we were invited to see if there was anything we wanted or needed. The locker was pretty picked through, but we came away with some nice bamboo cutting boards, and more than fed my obsession with old mismatched teacups. There was also a big round glass canister. The type that is meant to sit with others of graduated sizes on a counter top with flour and sugar in them. Just the one. It had the lid still but all I could think was that the jar alone would make a great fish bowl. I thought of a pretty, showy betta fish swimming around in there. But the time wasn't right. I had my two bearded dragons, and as far as mom was concerned that was enough extra pets in her house (thank you very much!). So, now that I've moved, and found the bowl again during packing, I wanted that fishy more than ever. And so, enter Tokyo:
The picture is dark and the lighting is bad, but his face is black, his body is dark, and his fins are beautiful! blue-y green and very iridescent... He reminds me of a peacock. Also, around the middle of the bowl you can see two tawny blobs stuck to the glass. They are trapdoor snails, and they help me keep things clean. The one right above Tokyo's head I call Fred, and the other one behind his tail I've been calling Mouse, because it's small and rather timid.
Tokyo was brought home about two days after I moved in, but Fred and Mouse were just picked up yesterday, when I noticed that algae is starting to grow on the sides of the bamboo stalks. I also feed them cucumber, because I'm not quite convinced that there's enough algae to sustain them in an environment so small that's cleaned so often.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Soup

Squash soup

As expected, there was plenty of squash in the garden at Backus Mills. I boiled some up for our saturday potluck but the wood was damp, the fire wasn't overly hot, and the squash wasn't ready in time for dinner. So, I drained it and brought it home and today I'm making squash soup. One thing I didn't think about: when squash is boiled it loses most of it's colour in the water. So now that I've added stock and am boiling it a second time, it's looking sort of brown and sad. Oh well, it still tastes delicious!! Pictures to follow, don't laugh at my ugly soup.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Feeling Feral

Today, I went to assess and treat a horse and rider pair at an eventing barn. Lots of pretty, polished girls walking around in collared shirts and breeches, and tall shiny black boots. I wore my dusty cowboy boots and hat. I know it's not a western style establishment, but I'm a western style girl. To me, english riding disciplines feel demure, and restrained, and domesticated. It's about showing off how genteel and collected you can be while managing an animal that outweighs you many times over, and I get that, and I have miles of respect for that. But, it's still not me. Western riding can be less refined, rough around the edges, and utterly functional. There can be a certain amount of glitz and show shine in the western discipline too, don't get me wrong, I've seen the girls get all dolled up for the rodeo. But there seems to be more place for simple, functional, quiet partnerships that work to accomplish goals. No fuss. I like being a little rougher around the edges, I like letting loose and I will always prefer a trail ride to an arena.
So today I felt like a wolf among a pack of poodles (Lovely, wonderful poodles, great people every one of them. I look forward to meeting and working with every one of them again). And I felt utterly comfortable in my skin, because it was my own. I could have thrown on a polo shirt and breeches, but then I'd have simply felt like a wolf with curly fur. I'd rather feel feral, dig my claws in, and do my job.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Off to the battle of Backus Mills

... well the title pretty much says it all. This afternoon we're off to a conservation area near port rowan at a historic flour mill that was fired during the war of 1812. Think of flour being kicked up in clouds like dust in a flour mill, and then realize that flour is highly flammable. Back in the day it went up with a big fireball, and scared the bijesus out of all the locals. Great fun. Now there's a bit of a pioneer village at that location, and we show up and re-enact the battle once a year. Unlike Black Creek, Chryslers farm, Westfield, or some of the other bigger, busier pioneer villages, there simply isn't enough staff there every day to give it that lived in feel. The products produced aren't used anywhere in the village, and they plant a huge vegetable garden every year for appearances sake, and never use the produce that comes out of it. When we show up we swarm like locusts on that garden and cook up the produce throughout the weekend, it's a good time. Usually there are squashes galore, so I'll be bringing brown sugar and butter and roasting up some squashes for our potluck.

I'm off to pack! Later!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kitchen Confessions:

I can't cook rice.

It's so simple, the directions are written on the back of every package, and the average college student who can't work a can opener, can cook rice. But I can't. Either it's crunchy and mealy, or turns to mush... It's not something I enjoy eating, and therefore I haven't really put a lot of work into perfecting the art.
But, my mother-in-law to be had to work late last night, and left dinner plans behind that involved boiled rice. I thought ok... I can do this! But I won't do plain white boiled rice... I can hardly stand it. So, I boiled the rice, and then decided to fry it up with onions and mushrooms and red peppers. Except that the rice was overcooked and mushy and when I started stirring it around in the frying pan, it turned out looking like mashed potatoes. And mashed potatoes in a frying pan made me think of latkes, so we turned them into "rice cakes".

Andrew and his mom heard of my incompetencies, but the rest of the family just thought rice cakes were a new flavour I was introducing them to. I must say, they tasted pretty good. We had that with chicken thighs baked in bullseye barbeque sauce... It was delicious... but Darlene will never ask me to cook rice again I fear. Just as well I suppose!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Settling In

Well, I've officially arrived and am a citizen of Newmarket: I've located and visited the farmer's market. And it's fabulous!! Much bigger than the one in orangeville, but still the kind of place where you can talk to the growers and producers of your food, and get to know it's story, seed to supper.  Great prices, and AMAZING produce. I've never seen bell peppers so big! We bought three of them. As well, we bought an heirloom watermelon, a basket of green beans, a basket of peaches, a basket of pickling cucumbers, a cantaloupe, a HUGE bunch of radishes, a big beautiful red onion, and a jar of pickled onions. Oh yeah, a good haul for sure.
Tonight I went for a nice long walk around my new neighbourhood. I found choke cherry bushes, apple trees, oak trees with fat acorns and wide caps perfect for whistling on. Most heartening, I found a little thicket of buckthorn trees. My interest in the rhamnus cathartica, or buckthorn, started as mere coincidence. I liked the name cathartica, and shared it with these scruffy little bushes that happened to grow on the property my parents bought. Now it has a special place in my heart, and will likely live on or near every place I live.
My stuff is all unpacked and has found a place to belong. I absolutely adore waking up beside the love of my life each morning. I rather like it here all in all!