Friday, August 14, 2009

View of the Day

The wet flower photos I took last week in between rain storms!
This is a closeup of a day lily just after a storm. We had many severe storm warnings last week.
But this weekend we've been blessed with SUNSHINE! That's right. You know, that round yellow thing up in the sky.
And it's been hot too. Hot enough to get you thinking about going to the beach along with 10,000 other people who are feeling exactly the same way you are :)
I had a sleepy, lazy day today. On my right slept Tom cat and on my left slept Tigger. I sat on my backyard swing for a few hours this afternoon and read some books and did some journaling. Most of the time though I just watched the birds and butterflies swooping back and forth.
Tom and Tigger have spent most of the summer outdoors and I've had a hard time convincing them to come in, even in the rainy weather. I have a roofed porch off the garage with cushions and that's where they can hang out all year round.

Tom and Tigger visited the vet today and had their shots. Tom weighed in at just over 16 lbs and Tigger at 13 lbs. No one could accuse me of not feeding them. If anything, they should probably be on diet food... shouldn't we all though?

I still have not done my back yard landscaping yet.
It was my plan to get most of it done this summer but the broken arm back in April kind of threw all my plans off schedule. There's always next year.
So my bags of soil and iron dragonfly will have to wait to be properly placed next year. I'm pretty easy about not getting it done. I wasn't completely set yet on how I wanted it so a delay will give me more time to think about it. I'd love a little pond.........maybe with an arched bridge....... Well, at least dreaming is free.

Most of my blogging this summer has been over on my other blog The Bee Journal
where I've been going on and on about my latest obsession: Beekeeping.

And here is a mystery that is solved, although I have no photographs of the culprit. Every year I'd find these perfect round holes in the soft leaves of my Red Bud tree. Now some people would be upset that some insect or creature had done this, thinking it was unsightly. Me, I thought it was pretty cool to see such perfect circles and all I wanted to know was who was doing it? And why?
When on my beekeeping course I learned that this is done by the leaf cutter bee. It cuts a round top and bottom and makes a perfect little leaf tube, and inside the tube it lays its eggs.
Just think, there's an insect out there that can cut a circle better than a kindergarten student and can fold it like origami better than you or I could probably do. Now that is cool.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Camping in Tobermory, Ontario, Canada

For a little while that afternoon Dad pretended that this was his boat. He claimed to have servants and all manner of people to wait on him.

This photo of part of the harbour in Tobermory, Ontario, Canada reminds me a little of a few harbours I visited while travelling by yaht in Australia. There are indeed a few well off people in this world who can afford these expensive boats.... we're just not those people.

Instead, we camp. But we're older now so we don't tent it any more where we're on the ground. We use a tent trailer and enjoy the comforts of soft mattresses and, forgive us, electricity. (We even have a small microwave that we use).

Hey, if you're thinking this isn't real camping, you might be right, but I must tell you I've paid my dues by camping in all kinds of weather and in different countries. I've lived outside for weeks on end and have numerous times given up the soggy tent in the rain to sleep in the car. Today though tents are much better made than in my day. We also used to cook all our meals on the camp fire (if it rained it got really interesting - cold beans from the can). Often we'd use a coalman stove set up outside on the picnic table as well.

Our camp site just outside Tobermory called Happy Hearts came with flush toilets, showers and even a Karoke Night.

For meals, each family member gets part of a grocery list that when complete, ensures we have healthy meals all week long... although the Chili on the second night might not have been such a good idea. There were 8 of us after all and that's a lot of 'music' after the meal, if you get my drift.

Oh and we had a "Chippy" too. A chipmunk found us on day 2. We noticed he was already trained to come up on the picnic table and beg for food. We happened to have a bag of peanuts so we kept him happy.

Every year I usually spend some time each day painting watercolours. A few years ago this generated a lot of interest among the family members at the camp site. They wanted to try painting too. What happened then was that everyone was busy painting except for me.

This year I didn't get to paint either. I had new students to teach, my niece's friend who accompanied us and a young girl from the next camp site.

I save all kinds of photos of wildlife and insects and flowers which are the inspiration for these budding young artists.

We take it easy for the most part and don't make too many plans ahead. Our focus is to have some down time and to relax.

My nephew Codie and I scuba dive so we had planned a few dives on some shipwrecks just off shore. I have an underwater camera but it uses film so once I get the film developed I'll post those photos.

The best treat of all this trip was the weather. There was this blue stuff up in the firmament called 'sky'. We hadn't seen it for so long that many of us couldn't recall what it was called ;)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Making Pocket Stews to Cook on the Camp Fire

I must have been only 10 or 12 years old when I learned to make pocket stew. My class was going on a day trip to a bog and part of the trip included a camp fire where we'd cook our own lunch. A man came to our class and taught us how to make it.

(Photo - my sister as she enjoys her pocket stew)

I'll never forget that field trip and the yummy stews. I have a camp fire in my back yard now and occasionally my niece and nephew come over and we make the stews.

Also, every year when we go camping its mandatory that Aunt Barb help everyone prepare their own pocket stew to roast on the fire.

Here's the recipe: Some people call them Hobo Stews.

Campfire Pocket Stews

  • 1 Hamburger or Turkey Burger Patty
  • Chopped Carrots
  • Sliced Potatoes
  • Chopped Onions
  • Frozen or canned Corn
  • Frozen or canned Peas
  • 1 can of Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 Can Beef Gravy (or Water – but gravy is better)
  • Spices such as Garlic Powder or Steak Spice, Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Large Piece Extra Strong Tinfoil about 1 ½ foot long
  • Campfire long handled tongs
  • 1 Plate that won’t melt with fire hot tinfoil
  • 1 Package of peanuts in the shell

1. Cut up all the vegetables
2. Make a patty from the meat (you can put onions right into the patty if you like)
3. Make a tinfoil pocket by folding tinfoil in half. Fold the edges over about ¼” once and then again to make a double sealed seam up the sides. It helps to fold the corners up too
4. Add the following to the tinfoil pocket:
5. Place the meat patty on the bottom (but it doesn’t matter if the meat goes on the bottom or the vegetables).
6. Add a good handful of each vegetable. You only need to add the vegetables that you like. It doesn’t matter if you put a little or a lot—put as much as you want depending how hungry you are. (Leftover pocket stew tastes great too).
7. Sprinkle on spices that you like (steak or vegetable spices are good)
8. Hold your pocket carefully and add 1 can of beef gravy (the campfire is hot and if you don’t add lots of liquid – either gravy or even water, it will become too dry and burn)
9. Fold the top edge down 1/4" once and then again to create a seal. The pocket should now be sealed on all sides and not leaking.
10. Handle the package carefully so you don’t poke holes in it. Place it on the campfire coals and let cook for 30 minutes (or the oven set at 350 degrees C for 30 minutes if it rains and you can't have a fire). Be careful not to puncture the package or the gravy will leak out. Sometimes holding it on a plate when putting in the fire and removing is easiest.
11. Check the meat to be sure it’s fully cooked before you dine.

Don’t forget to recycle the tin foil.
Oh, you were wondering about what you're to do with the peanuts? Well, they're for Chippy the chipmunk of course. He's a vegetarian!