Monday, June 28, 2010

First Garden Harvest of 2010 - Spinach!

Weeks of hot weather and ample rain has resulted in, albeit a weedy, but still very healthy-looking garden over at my house!

My tomatoes are huge and have resisted the bugs pretty well so far. A former boss was a tomoto farmer, and he once told me to clip off the bottom branches and the plant will focus on making more tomatos. I've been following his advice, and I'm looking forward to lots of flower buds soon! My cherry tomato is already full of flowers, so yummy tomatos are right around the corner!

I picked spinach for a chicken & spinach salad tonight. In fact, were it not for the avocado I threw in, my entire salad would have been Ontario-grown. Even the apricot-lemon dressing was made with local, apricot jam (an entertaining staple in my opinion). I seasoned the chicken with lemon-pepper before grilling, then tossed with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, green onion and avocado.

Normally, I would throw in seeds or cheese, but tonight I opted just for dressing and it was perfect! Give it a try if you're looking for a semi-sweet dressing for fresh greens.

Savvy's Lemon-Apricot Dressing
Serves 1. All measurements are approximate, so adjust to taste.
1 tbsp spoonful apricot jam (or jelly)
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
Salt & pepper

Back to my garden. My potatos are a disappointment. Not one sprouted. I didn't expect all six to sprout, especially since a couple were "old". They had gone soft, but they still had eyes (those are the sprouts potatos grow when they're in your cupboard too long), so I thought it was worth a shot. All six rotted in the ground. Perhaps, it was too wet?

Since I have space, I may try to plant a fast-growing vegetable still, however it's getting pretty late in the season (and hot) to be planting. Anyone have any suggestions?

Friday, June 25, 2010

The SD Card I Thought I'd Lost

So,  my last post was far too serious and Debbie-downer. Undoubtedly, due to some delirium and lack of sleep. I need to redeem myself, and while equally random, this post is far lighter and a great Friday perk up!

Last week was like Christmas for me. I was certain I lost an SD card almost exactly one year ago. It had a variety of pictures on it, some important, others not so much. Nonetheless, I was frustrated. I looked everyone I could imagine, and I could not find it. Finally, I decided it was gone forever.

While emptying my laundry basket last week, imagine my surprise to see an SD card at the very bottom.

"It can't be," I thought, and shoved the card in my pocket. It had clearly gone through the wash at least once. I was sure, if it was even the lost card, then the data was likely damaged in the wash.

Not only was it the missing card, but all the pictures are fine!! Most were from last spring.. my seed-planting experiment (unsuccessful), Tim Hortons Brier, garden and a few from the farm. Here's a few.

Well, hello there.... how do you do?

Hard life when you're royalty.

Silly spring bunnies and Brownies!

Don't tell her she's on my blog....

Have a
F a  b  u l o  u s     F  R  i D a Y !!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Missed an Earthquake Today

Thus far, my focus on Savvy Homegirl has been primarily tangible actions, items or results. With the exception of a handful of personal, random posts, I have paid particularly close attention to avoiding any philosophical, opinionated posts. I don't deem conversation I might have with close friends or coworkers fit for this space.

Until today.

I spend little time, if any at all, understanding conspiracy theories. Despite this, of the theories I'm aware of, I believe their basis lies in some truth. Some of which, serves to condemn the very industry within which I have spent my entire life. I'm not a hypocrite, just realistic. Ultimately, consumers 'choose their adventure' with the dollars they spend. There is a consequence to every choice we make. It's the butterfly effect. Post-recession, in the 'era of sobriety', as my advertising agency calls it, consumers will be more empowered to choose sustainably and change the future.

Or will we?

I missed an earthquake today. Possibly, and hopefully, the only earthquake I will ever experience in my lifetime. I was out of town and did not believe my co-worker when she emailed me. My first thought - an explosion or an act of terrorism (seriously, you'd think I was American - no offence intended). Human error or bad choices, but not an earthquake. We don't get earthquakes.

  • We are 2 days away from the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto. Toronto and the entire Southern Ontario border felt an earthquake today for the first time in 50+ years.
  • Chicago experienced such a drop in air pressure last week, windows blew out of buildings.
  • Saskatchewan has had the wettest spring also in 50+ years.
  • A volcano erupting for weeks on end shut down airspace.
  • Random areas of the U.S. are flooding and on one particular day this winter, 52 of 54 states recieved snow.
  • Hurricane severity is predicted to be higher than normal in 2010.

It is quite possible I pay more attention to world events now than in the past. Nevertheless, the strongest conspiracy theory in the world won't convince me when it comes to weather. BUT there is something going on with this planet and the atmosphere we live in. Something is re-aligning, and when I truly think about this, it scares me beyond belief. I suppose I could google it and learn what interpretations exist. There are likely all sorts of myths and extreme beliefs, not to mention pure scientific explanations. If this is the reality of the world we live in however, then we can not change this. We can only choose how we behave within it. Can we change our actions to counteract any of the above or is this fate 'mashing up' all Mother Nature's baggage on us at once. Only time will tell...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Officially Has Arrived!

Happy first Day of S U M M E R !!!!!

In honour of the first day of summer, I'm sharing a few shots of my mother's flowers. I love my mom's knack to bunch of trays and fill her pots at random. They always turn out bright and cheery and full of variety! Here's a few on her front deck. On the right, one of her beautiful, red lilies.

It seems as if summer has been here for months already, so it's a little hard to believe today is only June 21. I've seen icky fog, had 2 sun burns and Toronto had the 2nd highest UV rating in history last week. Yes, seems like summer has been here for a while.

I have this theory; our Canadian seasons are shifting. We had really warm weather in May last year, then it was cold by July and August. I'm hoping my theory is incorrect, because I'm looking forward to at least 2 more months of this weather. I have a whole bucket list left! 

I also didn't plant my garden soon enough! I'll have to snap some updates for you this week. I caged all my tomotos tonight, and my zuchinni and squash are huge. On the advice of my mother and recollection of the 'everlasting- zuchinni' of my childhood, I ripped out several plants this evening. One plant will bear several zuchinni, so I don't need 15. I also don't need it to take over my garden. My potatos still haven't sprouted. If I don't see anything this week, I may dig them up and plant more spinach or beans.

All my dahlia bulbs have sprouted. I have sunflowers galore from 2009, not to mention leftover onions which have now gone to flower!

I bought and planted my annuals just this weekend. I've been searching for Snapdragons and Sweet Willam (dianthus), and they must be early annuals, because all the garden centres here are sold out. I found them up north at Granny's, in Neustadt. If anyone knows the area, you know Granny's. It's been a fixture in the hamlet for as long as I remember. Every spring and summer, their back lot is full of flowers, and they had beautiful annuals. I grabbed a flat for $10!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Antiquing in South Bruce

 Strike one off the bucket list! Okay, I didn't exactly spend the day with my girlfriends, rather than my bf and a couple friends who were as enthusiastic about finding deals on great junk as I was, but who's counting anyway?!

We decided to explore South Bruce County on this treasure hunt, after determining the area perhaps had the most antique shops and flea markets of the area. Unfortunately, the listings weren't entirely accurate and we found some of the stores didn't even exist, or we couldn't find them. Nevertheless, we had a great day meandering the streets of Kincardine, Tiverton and Paisley. There were certainly some highlights:


  • The Plant Place and Salt Box Shoppe, Kincardine - We weren't even going to stop here originally, but this was my favourite of the day. The eclectic collection of rustic, handmade birdhouses and outdoor decor mixed with iron figurines and welded garden stakes was beyond charming. One of these bird houses is on my wish-list for next time!
  • Olde English, Tiverton - A random collection of antiques and collectibles, we had a good chuckle at the variety of salt and pepper shakers, and I thought the prices to be quite reasonable.
  • The Rare Bird, Elmwood - I have to admit, we didn't get to this gem on our day trip. Bf and I stopped the next day on our way back to the city. We were there an hour! It is jam-packed with collectibles including milk bottles, china, old toys, records, trading cards and vintage Coca-Cola items. I picked up 2 milk bottles and 2 cobalt blue china plates.

The owner explained to me why milk bottles are so rare - recycling companies would only take the bottles, when the industry went to bagged milk, if the glass was broken. Many dairies smashed all their bottles, so the few that are left will sometimes sell for over $1000 at auctions! My plates are circa 1850 and were only $5 each! They will never sell for more as they're quite chipped and cracked, but they will still make a lovely addition to my 'blue collection'.

If anything, this trip has piqued my curiosity and interest in antiquing even more! I've started a list of shoppes that I plan to visit before the summer is over, so you can expect more 'antique road shows' in the coming months!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Savvy Homegirl Goes Camping!

"We are the Brownies! Mighty, mighty Brownies!" 

Like being transported back in time, I spent this weekend reliving my childhood as I watched a handful of my Brownies develop their own childhood camp memories. It has been a long time since I sat around a campfire, singing songs like Herman the worm, Bug on the wall and Brown Squirrel. I watched the girls picking up the words and trying to keep up with the actions, and I was delighted in finding some of my personal favorites coming back to me. Our site had a good laugh when I got up to teach Three short-toothed buzzards, and I was amazed at almost one hundred girls weaving into and back out of a snail-shell spiral singing the most ridiculous Snail Song.

It was an exhausting weekend, no doubt, but it was totally worth it. Waking up to the birds above my tent (and the rain in the middle of the night), to boiling water for dishwashing, and even cleaning the lats (outhouses), I regained an appreciation for the Girl Guide program. What a truly awesome opportunity for these girls. 

All this does not even begin to include the basic skills the program teaches girls, including the opportunity to be themselves. As a Guider, it is the coolest thing to watch your girls try and conquer new tasks. It's even more amazing to see their ideas form and creativity come out. 

During the Muffin Man, the Brownies were busting out dance moves that had me in awe. Then at campfire, 3 girls offered to lead Princess Pat, a repeat song that was new to me, and I was amazed at their excitement and energy after 14 hours on-the-go and little sleep the night previous.

I watched a little Spark approach one of our leaders in a 'wide game' yesterday. 
"Are you going to the party?" She asked the all-important question in this game. 
"No," the leader replied. 
To which the little spark, all 3 1/2 feet of her, dressed in her pink rain coat and rubber boots, peered up at the leader and with the most solemn voice, said "Oh, you weren't invited eh?" My face melted into a big smile, and I immediately loved this program even more.

Guiding celebrates 100 years in Canada this year, in 2010. It is humbling to think how long this program has been in existence and how little I have been involved in it, yet I feel this is about to change. In the fall, another leader and I will take over our own unit, which is very special to us but also to the history of Guiding in Canada. It's rare a worldwide program takes root in Canada so early in its existence, but Guides was started in Canada almost very shortly after launching officially in England. 

The heritage aside, it's not surprising Guiding is bringing former Brownies and Guides back to the program as volunteers. How can you not enjoy campfire songs, crafts and games? We're just like the kids, except a little bigger with a little more responsibility. Why else would we wear the camp-hats and be just as passionate about hat-crafts?!

Interested a little more in Guides? Check out this cool photo project on what the girls are saying!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Garden We Will Grow...

High-ho the derry-oh, a garden we will grow!

Finally, here are some garden pics for you! I spent the long weekend in May planting my garden and flower beds. Here it is freshly planted.
I'm growing spinach, lettuce, squash, zuchinni, a few peas and beans (leftover from last year), tomatoes and peppers. See the left side of the photo? Those are marigolds coming up from last year.

Here is the garden 3 weeks later.

It's hard to see, but the marigolds are blooming. The zuchinni and squash are thriving and the lettuce is also up. My grandma starts tomatoes and peppers in a greenhouse every year, so I scored a few plants from her, then picked up a few mature plants at Canadian Tire. I should have tomatos in only a few weeks! So far, I haven't had much trouble with pests, only weeds. The creeping vine weed we have in my area takes over if you let it, and I pulled another pail-full from the garden on Sunday night.

Finally, I want to share a little dose of colour on another dreary day. My clamatis has been overflowing with blooms for over a month. I am pretty proud of this little guy. I planted it the first summer I was at my house, and today it brings a gorgeous splash of deep-purple to my deck. Enjoy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why I Want an iPad...

I travel a lot. This explains my sometimes-abscence of posts. Afterall, it's hard to blog about your home, when you're not at it. Nevertheless, I manage to file away ideas and find snippets of time to hopefully keep you, my readers, interested and updated.

Up in the AirI haven't blogged much about travelling, although I often feel I should. As I come to know airport hubs like the back of my hand and pack a carry-on in 10 minutes, there is a constant dialogue in my brain I sometimes feel you would enjoy. And yes, I completely identify with George Clooney's character in "Up in the Air", and I only fly a fraction of what he does. P.S. He is 100% correct about checked baggage. You waste time (and it now money in much of the U.S.). Invest in a carry-on suitcase and save yourself the time. Upscale hotels are also a great source for quality, carry-on-sized toilettries! ;)

Interestingly enough, my most creative moments tend to occur on planes. Work-related or otherwise, there's something about being strapped into a 6ft space that puts my brain into overdrive. My best ideas have been dreamed up on a plane, and the intricate details thereafter usually come together 30,000 feet above. Because of this, it dawned on me today.

I need an iPad.

I'm not usually an early adopter of technology. I tend to "make do" with what I have, until I feel compelled enough or find enough 'reason' to purchase. My iPod, for example, is still a Generation II Nano (I have no idea what makes it different than the Gen 1) purchased at Costco close to six years ago. I bought it after wanting one for a few months but not wanting to part with the money. In fact, I still have it today, and I haven't felt the desire to upgrade to a newer model. I listen to music when I run or while I drive, and I have a laptop to watch movies, to which I rarely desire doing. I got a Blackberry a few months ago, so I can browse the internet (if I must) and tweet on-the-go.

What I can not do well with all this technology is capture any creative energy. Yes, it sounds a little artsy, but I have a notebook on hand just for this reason. Nevertheless, I enjoy typing more than scribbling. In addition to that, starting up and shutting down my laptop often feels cumbersome and time-consuming, especially on short, one-hour flights. Bringing my Macbook would be too heavy and buying a newer, lighter version is out of the question financially. BUT.. an iPad, this I could afford!

I recently ate dinner with a marketing manager I respect very much. Coincidentally, it was the same day the iPad was released in Canadian stores. He had gone out and bought one that very day. Like me, he hadn't the desire to get one when the hype first started. After using a family member's U.S.purchase, he was hooked. Interesting, I thought, this technology hooked a gen X'er like. that. "Maybe I need one." I immediately put the thought out of my head. No one NEEDS an iPad afterall, and certainly not me.

Yet, today I've all but convinced myself otherwise. One question will remain after I determine if I can actually afford an iPad. Will it let me type as I want to? Has anyone used one yet? What about email- do I need to sync it with my Blackberry? I would LOVE your comments on this!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do Bees Burrow Nests? These ones do...

Two years ago, I first noticed these perfectly round holes under the eaves of my garage. 'Strange place to drill a hole', was my first thought. Of course, there were ample discoveries that summer, which seemed strange. Then last spring, I discovered a pile of fine sawdust and realized the holes were multiplying. Soon after, I noticed the bees. Not only were there more in my backyard, but they seemed to hover close to the holes. Could it be? Were these seemingly harmless bumblebees creating this swiss cheese effect? It seemed to silly for me to believe, and I reminded myself repeatedly to do some reseach. Repeatedly, I forgot.

This morning, I discovered new sawdust. This time, it is on my front porch and sure enough, there are two new holes. Google was not to wait any longer and behold the answer: Carpenter bees. Bumble bees that burrow or tunnel nests into wood. Specifically, wood which has been unpainted, weathered or soft. All of which, apply to the 2x4's around my garage and front porch.

As I read this University of Kentucky article, you can image how visions of rotting lumber, followed by my house collapsing into itself fast appeared. Accepting what I had previously wanted to ignore, I have decided I need to make these guests know they are no longer welcome. They make a mess also. Pollen, sawdust, call it what you want.. this is still bee poop.

Enter: A new "to do" list
- Paint all exposed wood around the garage
- While I'm at it, I might as well paint the window frames
- Kill the bees
- Plug the holes

It really shouldn't be too bad getting rid of these bees. Of course, I have all the time in the world to commit to it! (sarcasm to the MAX here)!