Friday, June 26, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I've had fresh spinach salad everyday this week, and I brought it along to a pot luck last night also. There is something incredibly.. wholesome about going out to the garden to pick your dinner. I especially like that after quickly brushing and rinsing the remaining soil off, they're ready to eat!
My salads are usually the result of randomly selecting from the veggies, fruits, cheeses in my fridge and seeds and nuts in my pantry. For spinach in particular, try some of the following combinations.
- Strawberries, toasted almonds, mushrooms, and goat cheese with Kraft Olive Oil Fig Balsamic dressing
- Dried cranberries, blue cheese, sunflower seeds and grilled, strips of steak with Renee's Asian Sesame or Japanese Ginger dressing
- Carrots, tomatoes, ham and sliced, hard-boiled eggs with Thousand Island Dressing
I grew up eating radishes in summer. I planted them this year, because my mom always planted them in her garden. They are easy to grow, and you get a huge crop from only a small package of seed. They are a summer staple on my parents' lunch table, even if they are only ate raw with a light sprinkle of salt.
Now, as I pull basket after basket from the ground, I'm challenged to find uses for radishes in my cooking. I was surprised to find they hold up well in stir-fry. I tossed a few slices in a thai-style stir fry near the end to add a bit of kick, and they still maintained their crunchiness. Most recipes I've found, are for salads, however.
Do you have any recipes or uses for radishes? What about other summer veggies?
Monday, June 22, 2009
Being prepared for a week of travel, whether work or leisure, definitely contributes a lot to my personal sense of success also. On the flight to Regina, I noticed a weblink entitled 'travel-ready you' in my Homemakers magazine- I know what you're thinking, and yes, I read this magazine. For a $10 subscription, I love the recipes and having a great, little read.
- iPod. I don't leave home without it, ever. Drown out screaming babies, nasty-sniffly passengers, and obnoxious loud-talkers on the plane with your own music selection or use the headphones for the seat-back TVs. I also can not run without it.
- Running shoes & workout clothes. Combined with my iPod, I can squeeze in exercise anywhere, hotel gym or not. Running or walking outside is also a fantastic way to get to know the city your visiting. Ask the front desk for suggestions, especially if you're not comfortable in the area of the city. This is how I discovered the 'gem' of Regina - Wascana Park. A trip to Regina isn't complete for me if I don't run around the lake at least once.
- Flip flops for summer, crocks for winter. After 8 hours on your feet at a trade show, I need some comfy shoes I can slip into, even if its just to bum around my hotel room.
- Snacks. Open my carry-on bag, and you are guaranteed to find at least some homemade granola or trail mix and apples. Why pay for over-priced airport snacks when you can bring your own and know you're eating healthy? Once I'm at my destination, they give me a boost before a morning run and I stash some in my purse to curb the meeting cookie and pastry break cravings. Just remember - no liquids over 100mL or grams (ie. yogurt)!
- Travel mug. I just recently started bringing my own mug. I have become accustomed to taking my coffee with me in the morning, so this gives me a little bit of home while I'm on the road. I fill up for free before leaving the hotel, and I save $1.59 and at least 15 minutes getting a morning "Tim's" before my meeting or event. Having that additional 15 minutes this week definitely saved me some morning stress.
- An extra, zippered bag that's tough enough to withstand the airport luggage system. I have a bad habit of stuffing my suitcase full, so I don't have room for any 'extras' I pick up while away. An extra bag, like a tote that zips closed, can be folded up easily and packed, but provides another option when I can't jam my suitcase closed or I want to reduce my carry-on 'load'.
- Two "extra" outfits - one polished and professional for any unexpected opportunities to make a great first impression and one, swanky evening outfit. So many times, I have been without the 'right' clothes or shoes when invited to a reception or dinner unexpectedly. Having the extra outfits or incorporating them into my planned wardrobe ensures I am always dressed confidently and not pressured to buy a new outfit just because I didn't bring the right clothes.
- Unique bag tags, ribbons or luggage itself. I received Samsung luggage several years ago that is tan and silver. No one else has it (that I've seen on the luggage carousel yet), so it makes spotting bags easy. When I do check a plain, black bag, I tie on a bright ribbon and affix my unique luggage tags. Then I can stand back and spot my bag from a distance, as opposed to being one of those morons that crowd the carousel (this is my biggest pet peeve, EVER).
- A big shoulder bag. As a carry-on, this is my purse. It's big enough to put in my laptop, electronic gadgets, wallet and some snacks. Then I can stash my computer bag overhead and keep my purse on the floor with everything I need for the flight within arm's reach. It is also big enough to stow a file folder and water bottle for transit between hotel / meetings / events. A smaller, evening purse can be tossed in your luggage if its going to be needed.
- My Garmin. I actually bought my Garmin while travelling, because I was fed up with driving around lost in an unfamiliar city. Now, I take it everywhere with me. Why give yourself the extra stress? But beware - on country roads and rural areas, it may not be as accurate.
Any travel essentials you can't leave home without?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
As it turns out, Niagara Region is experiencing a severe shortage of bees! An article posted to the local news lately, tells of the bees disappearing from the wild, possibly due to the fruit crop sprays. I can't help but feel it somewhat disheartening and a little ironic even... the fruit and grape growers depend on the bees to pollinate their crops but the sprays they use are killing the bees. While I am certainly a proponent of conventional agriculture (vs organic), I must admit fruit requires A LOT of spray to prevent the diseases and pests the sacrifice that 'perfect' looking peach. I have seen so many 'misty' fields driving to work in the summers, I will not eat any fruit now before it is washed. But I digress...
I had a small nest under the garage roof overhang I knocked down earlier this spring, and it appears that the creatures decided to take up residence elsewhere. This is in the hedge directly beside my vegetable garden. YIKES!
I was ready to arm myself with aerosol wasp-killing foam today to take care of them tonight when I get home. The key is to wait until its cooler in the evenings, because the wasps go inside the nest and are less active. My neighbours may already have taken care of the problem however. They left me a note about calling a beekeeper to come for the nest. Do beekeepers look after wasps? I guess I'll find out when I get home tonight!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
As my rock garden has started to progress (I pulled/killed the weeds, turned the soil and dumped the rocks in a pile tonight), I have been looking up ideas for plants to add. Particularly, plants that my cats will enjoy. While there is the obvious - cat grass (which is really oats) and can nip (or cat mint), I have discovered a few more that appear popular. Alyssium, Heather and Creeping Rosemary have all been suggested, via About.com. Luckily, most are also pretty hardy, so they should grow well in the boggy, shaded corner I'm converting.
While doing some investigation, I thought it might be wise to also check out the toxic plants before I head to the nursery for my purchases. There is a great photo gallery here that shows some common, toxic plants. I guess I'll be avoiding ivy, which was originally in my 'rock garden' plan to cover the fence. I would prefer to avoid dealing with my pets' upset tummies, comas or death!