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Archive for July, 2008

Getting your kids disconnected from their electronics. It can be a bit painful at first. It takes them a while to come to their senses and realize that life was worth living even before graphics cards were invented. Even with our ‘Modern Amish’ sensibilities, my kids are no strangers to Facebook and computer games. Being deprived of all that artificial visual stimulation, for two or three days together, can stun them as surely as a baseball to the head. But then, ever so slowly, they come around. 

My Little Urchin gets pretty creative and shows signs of becoming a fine cottager himself one day. He split wood and whittled pegs to make these trivets for us recently.

trivet construction

trivet construction

Two models to choose from!

Two models to choose from!

Trivet in Action!

Trivet in Action!

Meanwhile, Big Urchin likes to play with fire! The beach is a good place to let him work this out of his system with relatively little risk of serious injury. Creative photography by Little Urchin.
Bu commands the flames

Bu commands the flames

Supervising the carnageThat can of Stella appears to have gone to Cottager's head.

 

 

 

That can of Stella appears to have gone to Cottager’s head.

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Last Sunday Stephanie from Bungalow Insanity and her family dropped in at Keats View for a how-de-do and a visit. My friend and I and our 4 kids had just arrived and were in a bit of disarray, but our guests, which included Steph’s (can I call you that?) two very cute kids, her husband and a local friend, took it all in stride.

Stephanie and her friend Jo, who lives nearby, managed to I.D. nearly all my unknown plants, and gave me some great gardening tips, and a mini colour consult on the cottage colour scheme (Stephanie is a professional architectural colour consultant and was pretty sure that a golden apricot coloured paint would be the way to go.)

It was fun to meet someone from Blogland – my first internet date!  Unfortunately, Cottager had the camera on a bike trip. Hopefully we will see our new friends on the Sunshine Coast again soon.

Thanks for dropping by Keats View!

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Good thing summer came late this year because it took us until last week to figure out how to get water to (almost) every corner of our compact garden. The solution came, as many have, from the Lee Valley catalogue. I love that place. While this is an unsolicited endorsement, I don’t want to discourage any impulse Lee Valley might feel to send me a gift card. Do what you think is right, Lee Valley.

The most amazing thing about this fence mount system is the price:  $32.50.  It consists of 50 feet of hose and some nozzles, clamps and other small bits and pieces that you might reasonably think is worth $20-$30. They put it all together for you, provide clear instructions, and then resist the temptation to gouge you for it. Very nice.

Our small garden is an ideal size and configuration for this system, since we have a railing about 50 feet long around our deck and most of the garden is on a slope just below. It took us an hour or so of tinkering to get it just right.

 

 

The kit comes with five 180 degree spray nozzles and two ninety degree nozzles.  I actually prefer the 90’s as they concentrate the water a bit more. The 180’s are mistier, and since we generally have some sea breeze, they initially gave quite a bit of blow-back onto the deck. But the nozzles are adjustable and we were able to almost entirely eliminate this problem by adjusting the spray.

We are thinking of adding a second fifty foot hose to the line with two or three additional nozzles to get water down to the ‘zen garden’ in the lowest corner of the yard. Apparently you can do this without significantly lowering the pressure, though they advise that with 20 nozzles your pressure will be reduced by fifty percent.  Now, thanks to a timer, the garden gets a short cooling drink every day.

If you think this might be the system for you, here’s the catalogue link with quite a bit more info.

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Last week the very kind soul who is B over at A Cotterpin House awarded my efforts with an ‘E’ for excellent. As a condition of acceptance, the honoured blogger is asked to award ten other blogs with an ‘E’. Mathematical laws suggest that we will all have an ‘E’ ere long, but this does not prevent me from feeling tickled all the same, so thank you Cotterpin. 

Here then are my picks – a small handful of my favourites, but not ten because, as you have probably already intuited, I am a crazy rebel living within sight of, if not actually near, the edge and breaking ALL the rules that I believe I am unlikely to be challenged on. 

One Project Closer – I don’t care that Cotterpin already gave them an E. They deserve two, and I am absolving them from the responsibility of awarding a second set of ‘E’s. Only bask in the glory guys and gals.

Owlhaven always makes me smile and nod. 10 kids and a sense of humour: She has everything worth having. 

Posie Gets Cozy is a delight. Beautiful photos, some interesting recipes and summer reading lists and book reviews.

Kitchen Confit is one I keep meaning to add to my blog roll. Great recipes and food stories. More great photos to inspire your cooking or possibly just make you feel hungry.

The Fixer Upper House is also one I check in with pretty regularly for amusing adventures in renovation.

There are others, but I think I will stop there.  Congratulations awardees. Well done you!

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Known to God and better gardeners

Not a honeysuckle?

Not a honeysuckle?

Do be kind and have a look.

Though I am beginning to feel intimately attached to my perennials, I have yet to be formally introduced to many of them. Now that they are coming into bloom, I beg leave to impose on you, gentle readers, to perform the introductions. 

The tall stalks with blue flowers I had half-imagined might be hollyhocks – but Wikipedia has disabused me of that notion. I also thought sure the vine is a honeysuckle, but I have heard that they smell wonderful and grow madly, requiring much cutting back. The flowers of this vine do not have a particularly strong scent, and the vine itself has demonstrated quite restrained growth. Finally, I have no guess to hazard with respect to the yellow stalks.

Please tell me their names so I can write them down in my garden journal along with a note to credit your good advice. 

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Flattened geraniums were the first clue

Flattened geraniums were the first clue

When I was at the cottage last weekend, one of the first things I noticed was that the geraniums were looking a bit flattened – “like something was laying there…” I mused.
A few hours later, I noticed a doe snacking on my neighbour’s apple tree.  The next evening, some local friends told us they had dropped by twice to check on the baby robins, to find a deer bedded down in our garden. They had observed a growth on its right hind leg and that it limped.
Next morning the doe was grazing outside our bedroom window. Later it bedded down on the shady slope behind the house. It does indeed look as though she has a malformation or possibly that her leg has been broken at some point, but she doesn’t appear to be particularly distressed or disabled. She is getting around, eating well, and quite calm. I left a bucket of water for her later that day, but she didn’t touch it and I didn’t see her again that weekend. I am very much hoping to find further signs of her when I return next weekend.
A lovely living lawn ornament

A lovely living lawn ornament

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Great tasting and good for you

Great tasting and good for you

 

This is my favourite muffin recipe. It makes 24 generous muffins, and they freeze well. I make them whenever I get an overpopulation of frozen black bananas in my freezer. I’m ashamed to say that I generally prefer to bake with all-purpose flour, but these hybrids, incorporating 2 cups of whole wheat flour, taste terrific. The apricots are a good source of vitamin A, fibre and iron.

Ingredients

1 and 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots

I cup orange juice or apricot nectar

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 and 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4 large)

6 Tbsp melted margerine

1 and 1/2 cup milk

 

Method:

In a small saucepan, heat chopped apricots in juice until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove immediately from heat and cool slightly.

In medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl combine beaten eggs, sugar, mashed banana, melted margerine and milk and apricot/juice mixture.

Stir dry ingredients into wet, just until combined.

Spoon batter into lightly greased muffin tins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 -22 minutes. Enjoy!

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