Category Archives: gardening

Taking Stock No.4

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Enjoying a walk through some of Old Quebec’s beautiful, narrow streets.

Hi folks,

As you have probably noticed, I’ve been out of the look since I last wrote to you about our woes with our new downstairs neighbors. They have not gone away and neither has the mental exhaustion caused by the situation. Many times over the pas few months I have found myself dreaming of packing up and moving to an isolated corner of anywhere but here. It would be quite easy to do and no one would ever find me. My name is so common that I wouldn’t even have to change it in order to never be found, even by the aforementioned pesky neighbors should they decide to attempt to hunt me down. That would be a cowardly thing to do though and highly inconvenient for My Darling who is quite attached to his job and his family (it’s not that I’m not attached to my folks, we’re just not even nearly as tight-knit as My Darling’s family is). He did, however, manage to whisk me away to Quebec City with him for a few days when he went there to attend a conference at the beginning of the month, which did me a great deal of good and allowed me to get my creative juices flowing. Then, when we got back, miracle of miracles, Spring appeared and I have been able to spend increasing amounts of time outside. The leaves are all out, the flowers are blooming, I planted my flowers and bought our strawberry plant and I am looking slightly less pasty. Phew…the work downstairs should finally be done next week, which is an excellent thing because I am becoming less and less tolerant of the group of loud, cigarette smoking, belching, cursing men who show up every morning at 7:00 and are present until the end of the afternoon. I want my quiet home back, I to not have to worry about parking in my own driveway for fear of puncturing my tires on a nail or being trapped in my parking space by a delivery of sheet rock or some worker’s pickup truck. For crying out loud, we found a worker’s discarded t-shirt in our parking space this morning! Ugh…Anyhow, I thought one of my ‘Taking Stock’ posts would be a good way for us to catch up and hopefully I will be able to get my creative juices flowing freely enough once things calm down to come back with another post soon. In the mean time though, you can head over to my photography blog Old Orchard Photography for more about my trip to Quebec and to see a few more of the photos I took there.

Enjoying: being able to walk out the door without having to pile on more layers than an onion.
Listening: to The Merry Widow on CBC Radio 2.
Wearing: my GAP striped sundress. I bought it at an outlet store in Las Vegas last Spring and it is my go-to dress as soon as the warm weather rolls around. It is just as comfy as a pair of pajamas, but completely appropriate to wear out around town as well!

Making: time for myself.

Cooking: Korean burgers for My Darling and his friend when they get back from their bike ride.
Drinking: Iced tea made with our Fortnum and Mason teas. We just emptied our jug of Irish Breakfast and I’m going to ice some Countess Grey next.
Feeling: relieved that the renovations downstairs are finally almost finished.
Reading: ‘Her Majesty: 60 Regal Years’ by Brian Hoey, the first biography of The Queen I have ever read and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I have also recently torn through Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ as I mentioned in my previous post and Camilla Gibb’s ‘This is Happy’ which I highly recommend.

Looking: forward to my vacation in Poland with My Darling next month.
Wishing: we still had a deaf lady in her 70s for a downstairs neighbor. Boy, do we ever miss Mrs. L.
Liking: eating breakfast with My Darling on the back terrace under our red parasol on weekends.
Waiting: for the next bunch of strawberries growing on our plant to ripen.

Snacking: on dark chocolate raspberry Lärabars
Coveting: some Prince Edward Island therapy. I would wish for August to come quickly, but I want Summer to drag on for ages!
Hearing: no construction noise, praise God.
Learning: to not let myself be intimidated by bullies.

Loving: how My Darling has been perking up since he has been able to take his bike out for long rides again.
Watching: not much, really! It’s been far too nice out to watch TV.
Admiring: nature, it’s amazing how quickly things start growing and blooming when the warm weather finally settles in!
Getting: ready to make my first batch of homemade ice cream of the season! It’s going to be matcha, made with this recipe

Wondering: when I’ll have time to go shopping before our vacation.
Playing: piano when I can, which is not often. Racket downstairs = not conducive to learning a new instrument.
Noticing: how badly I needed my week off two weeks ago to ground myself.
Giggling: over My Darling’s waddle when he walks around in his cycling shoes.

Bookmarking: by folding the corners of the pages of the books I read. I don’t spend enough time online to bookmark sites lol
Deciding: on where we’re going to stay in Warsaw.
Hoping: for less drama in my life
Contemplating: jogging with a group of our local Running Room store when we get back from vacation.

Wanting: a new pair of running capris, I noticed several holes in my favorite pair when I got in from my jog on Thursday…
Thinking: about my dad a lot recently and how happy I am that the lupins I planted in front of his grave three years ago are finally going to flower!
Knowing: that my father would be proud of how I’ve handled the difficult situation with our new neighbors so far.
Opening: my heart to as much kindness from others as I can in order to heal myself from the unkindness I have suffered recently.

Feeling: energized and positive for the first time in months.
Marveling: at how warm, sunny weather can help turn peoples moods around within a matter of days.

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Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (Our Lady of Victories) church in Old Quebec

The Sweetness of Summer

Hello everyone!

As promised, I’d back, although a bit later than I thought I would be. Life has been so hectic lately! My Darling was out-of-town for five days last week and I was sure I would have time to get a second post in, but things just didn’t turn out that way, mostly because I ended up being called into work more than I thought I would, but also because we had our go-to general contractor in redoing the closets in our two bedrooms (one of which is currently being used as a library since we have no need for a second bedroom at this point!) and naturally, mayhem ensued. I just finished reorganizing everything in the new closets and our dresser today and the work has been complete since Monday!

Nevertheless, I have had some time to take a few pictures around our place! Our flower pots are doing wonderfully and I also purchased an organic strawberry plant for us from the Pure Horticulture stall at Atwater Market. I’m afraid they don’t have an English website, but if you go to ‘Où acheter’, you will be able to see where you can get some of their wonderful plants and products! Our strawberry plant only cost us 20$ and we are going to get way more than 20$ worth of deliciously juicy strawberries from it!

Our strawberry plant and front balcony flower pot.
Our strawberry plant and front balcony flower-pot.

Here’s a look at the flower-pot on our front porch:

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The flower-pot on our front porch.

I am so, so thrilled with how my flower pots are doing! They look exactly how I imagine they would! They have also been quite low maintenance so far since we have gotten plenty of rain since I planted them, I very rarely have to pull out the hose to water them. A lot of people have been complaining about the weather we’ve had since May, but I just love what it has been doing for my garden and flowers!

As for what I’ve been up to aside from working a few days a week and gardening, I’ve been keeping up with my jogging, cooking and reading! I had a bit of a setback with my running a few weeks ago however when I tried to stretch the lifespan of my running shoes a bit too much and ended up with an inflamed muscle in my thigh. Since I have begun running more seriously, I’ve worn Ecco Biom running shoes. The first pair was wonderful, but I felt that the second pair never were quite right for me. I got a lot of blisters from them and they didn’t quite have the cushioning I needed for all the hill work I’ve been doing. This time I wanted to make sure I got the right shoes for me, so I headed out to The Running Room and boy, are they amazing there! I left the shop with blister preventing socks and an amazing pair of Saucony running shoes that have made all the difference for me when I run. I can now comfortably run 10 kilometers and have lost 20 seconds on my running time! So, if you’re thinking of taking up running or are already a runner but have felt like you’ve been having trouble progressing, go to the Running room and talk to them about your running goals and see if you’ve been using the wrong shoes!

As far as cooking goes, I tried this wonderful recipe for one dish roast chicken legs with sweet tomatoes by Jamie Oliver and it turned out beautifully! I made it before heading out to the airport on Saturday evening to pick up my Darling and it stayed nice and warm in the over so all I had to do when we got home was throw some quinoa in our rice cooker and voilà! Dinner was ready a half hour after we walked through the front door!

In the reading department, I finished reading Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, a very well put together account of the sinking of the Lusitania during WWI and the events leading up to it, last week. It was the second time I read one of his books and I thoroughly recommend both Dead Wake and In the Garden of Beasts if you are a history aficionado. Larson’s books always take on an almost fictional narrative since focuses on a few historical and develops his books around them. It makes them much easier to read than most non-fiction volumes that can be a bit too academic at times.

After finishing Larson’s book, which was the last in the previous stack of books I had bought, I headed down to Indigo bookstore on Ste-Catherine and picked up three more books. I chose to start my Summer reading festival with Jacqueline Park’s ‘The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi’ and oh my, what a treat it has been to read so far! I highly recommend it if, like me, you enjoy historical fiction.

And now, my current favorites:

1-My new David’s Tea Travel mug! I bought it this week and it is amazing, it keeps my tea hot or cold for hours on end! I have been filling it with another favorite of mine

2- Iced Afternoon Blend tea from Fortnum and Mason, sweetened with pure maple syrup. How very Canadian of me, eh?

3- Reading, seriously. It has allowed me to keep my sanity lately with all the craziness going on in our life, that and jogging. Without reading and jogging, I think I would have lost it by now lol

Finally, here is a picture of our two fur babies, Quinn and Magique, doing what they do best: lounging around on the back of our living room couch! This is their favorite place to be in the afternoon since it is nice and sunny. They especially enjoy it once the warm weather returns since they get a very nice dose of fresh air from the door to the balcony and the windows.

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Quinn and Magique lounging in their favorite afternoon spot.