The Party’s Over

Gardening is coming to an end for the 2012 season.  It is time to put the “farm” to sleep.

Where’s Waldo?

 We continue to marvel at how things grew this year.  How most things grew might be more accurate.  Here’s a few lessons learned as the season draws to a close:

Little seedlings that look like 90 pound weaklings can grow into behemoths.  Have faith.  And a watering system.  And add lots of mushroom compost. 

Yes, I was once a little bitty seedling

Do some research about what plants might look like if you have never grown them before.  In our case, it was parsnips.  We have been lamenting that our parsnips never germinate.  We plant, they never grow up.  We buy news seeds.  Nothing.  Late this year we discovered we had been mistaking any little parsnips for weeds and had been regularly plucking them out of the ground.  Darn things don’t look like carrot tops when they emerge.

Pay close attention to invasions of insects and other pests.  And then try to figure out what to do about it before it’s too late.  

Cleaning up the garden can be bittersweet.  Good bye to the growing season, sigh.  No sooner does that thought enter your mind than you start thinking about crop rotation and what you’ll plant next year.  

One of the greatest joys of gardening is sharing the results with others.  This year we actually had some produce to share and we did so with great joy.  Do you have any gardening or horticulture highlights from 2013?

Yes, we grew this.

Simply Biscotti- Installment13

It’s about time

The summer seemed to stretch out so nicely but now as it draws to a close, it seems the season went by quickly.  I hadn’t been to Simply Biscotti for quite a while and since that’s the reason this blog got started in the first place, the trip was overdue.  Rosa, the proprietor, opened a second Simply Biscotti location in the Westboro area of Ottawa this summer.   

Simply Biscotti Westboro Location

Once you get started

I visited the new Simply Biscotti location a week ago and in the days since I have been to one location or another a total of four times!  Each time I enjoyed Simply Biscotti with someone else, with Rosa, the owner, with a friend, with my husband and with a family member from Saskatchewan.  Adding to my quest of eating my way through the showcase, I have now tried an apple muffin (moist, flavourful) and a ginger biscotti (never had one of those before and had thought there might be a stronger ginger flavour).  Once I get started, it seems I can’t stop.

Service With A Smile

 Rosa talks about her shops and how she and her team work hard to make things look and taste great.  She’s a great local success story.  She establishes her shops in places where people have other choices for food and drink and it seems many of those customers prefer Simply Biscotti to the chain outlets.  She now offers employment to over 20 people in Ottawa.  Rosa has been nominated for an Immigrant Entrepreneur Award. I look around the shop and think she had to make all the decisions.  Lots of responsibility.   She’s proud of what’s been accomplished and so she should be.  As they say these days.  You Go Girl!

Don’t Just Take My Word For It

Yesterday as I entered the shop I held the door for a man as he exited, hands full with coffee and a treat.  After a thanks, he said “Go on in, there’s good stuff in there”.   

Fruit smoothie, fruit custard tart and coffee on a Sunday afternoon

A Rose Inside a Teardrop

I wear a necklace, a rose inside a tear drop.  It was given to me eight years ago and is said to be a symbol of love that never dies.

Eight years ago on this date, September 11th, my sister died.  She began feeling ill on Thursday and by Saturday night she was gone.  It was a very rare condition but that’s beside the point for it doesn’t much matter, rare or common, does it.  She was not yet 50 years old and by the dawn on the Sunday, the lives of her husband, two beloved teenage daughters and the rest of us were forever changed.

She was a loving mother, wife, daughter, aunt, sister, friend, colleague, nurse and salt of the earth.  

You’d be rare if you have never had someone close to you die.  There’s no rhyme or reason, no equitable formula where grief is spread equally across families or friends.  Some people, some families seem to have such loss.  I wonder at times how some manage.

Our thoughts and reactions in grief are unique.  I remember thinking it felt as if our family had been walking along, all arm in arm, all marching in time and collectively we fell flat, face first.  The wind was knocked from our lungs.  We couldn’t breathe.  I remember wondering (just as I did when each of my parents died) why the world hadn’t stood still, at least for a while.  

Time has a way of taking some of the edge off the sharpness of the days, weeks and months and now years that follow the death of a loved one.   Her place in our family endures, I see her in her daughters.  They are vibrant, accomplished and enjoy so many of the interests she instilled in them in their young lives.  Her husband has been a strong, caring and dedicated single parent.  

I have tested the strength of that gift, the necklace.  Many times I have forgotten I was wearing the chain and yanked an article of clothing over my head, the necklace flying across the room.  The chain has never broken.  It has occasionally fallen off, gone missing and somehow re-surfaces.  The necklace endures, as does its symbolism of love that never dies.  

Love you, Joanne.

A Eureka Moment-Scrubbing Data

It’s back to school time.  Today there’s a fleet of yellow school buses on the road and the newspapers have been filled with stories of how to pack nutritious lunches and how to encourage conversations with your children and so on.  Under the banner then of the well-known phrase “And what did you learn today” and as a testimony to lifelong learning, here goes my true story.  

I am not a researcher but I have worked with many a talented person who was.  I would hear them speak of ‘scrubbing data’ or ‘cleaning data’.  My understanding of what it means is meagre but I get the concept.  You take a bunch of information that is stored in a database and through some mysterious process you separate the wheat from the chaff as a farmer would put it, or you remove the extraneous bits and keep the solid data that can be used in your research.  

I have discovered a new method for scrubbing data and am putting it out there for researchers to comment upon.  Perhaps this eureka moment will save a lot of time for those who toil in the details of data. 

Step one:  You are the secretary.  Using your laptop and a memory stick, take minutes at the Annual General Meeting of a local organization.  No paper back up is needed.  Good for the environment and efficient too.  Save the minutes, the only record of the meeting, on your memory stick.

Step two: Stick the memory stick in your pocket after the meeting (you don’t want to lose it).

Step three: Do laundry.  Washer and dryer.  Find memory stick in drum of dryer after cycle is complete.  

Step four:  Sweat.  Insert memory stick and find out….ta da!!  It works!

Moral of the story, well actually two morals:

1.  There is more than one way to scrub data.

2. Those high-efficiency (HE) front loading washers really are gentle on your belongings.

A true story.

Virtual Soup Across the Miles

We have a dear friend who loves soup.  Any kind of soup.  I wish we lived closer together for I think he would like what I made yesterday.  It started with this picking from the garden: 

And thought I’d make cream of broccoli and cauliflower soup.  Most of the ingredients were fresh from the garden. 

Onions, broccoli, cauliflower simmered together














I used a hand blender to puree the soup.  Add a little cream and fresh parsley and there you go!  Now if I could just figure out how to get a bowl of it across three provinces and still serve it hot.  And so it is really a virtual bowl of soup across the miles.  I hope it’s the thought that counts.