Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Blueberries - nom, nom, nom

Today's Ten on Tuesday post asks - what are your favourite ways to enjoy blueberries? We're in the thick of blueberry season, and I've certainly been gobbling up this most delectable fruit:

1. blueberries in a bowl: on their own, my favourite way to eat them. You get all the flavour with no competition.

2. blueberry pie, with or without ice cream. Aside from blueberries on their own, does it really get any better? (Read on to decide for yourself)

3. blueberries with yogurt and granola: easy to combine, and you get all those wonderful antioxidants with your probiotic!

4. made in my favourite homemade blueberry muffin with cornmeal

5. as a blueberry sauce over pancakes or vanilla ice cream. Yummm...

6. blueberry grunt. Never heard of it? Basically berries baked with a sweet dumpling topping. 

7. blueberry pudding, the way Grandma used to make it. I miss that woman!

8. as a topping on my oatmeal

9. in a smoothie

10. blueberry crisp - I probably prefer apple or rhubarb crisp, but if I don't have apples or rhubarb on hand, and I have blueberries... voila, another dessert possibility!

What's your favourite way to enjoy blueberries? One of mine or something completely different?
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Is your home air conditioned? If it's not air conditioned, is that by choice? Did you grow up with air conditioning? If not how did you cope with the heat? Share about a time or place you remember as being too hot-the temperature kind of hot, lest anyone be confused.
Our home is air conditioned! When we purchased our home thirteen years ago, the house inspector told us that the a/c unit didn’t have much life left in it, but it’s still going strong. Thank goodness, since we need a new roof this year and wouldn’t be able to afford both. I did not grow up with air conditioning, though, and I don’t remember having to cope. Maybe I didn’t feel the heat as much then? Maybe I made a point of hanging out in cooling spaces (libraries, malls, etc.)? The hottest temperatures I’ve experienced have been during holidays in the southwestern States (Colorado Springs and Phoenix, to be specific). 

2. What's something in your life right now that falls under the heading 'up in the air?

My mom’s housing situation. She’s still trying to figure things out, so for now she’s with us.

3. Your favorite light and airy dessert?
Chocolate mousse or tiramisu.

4. When did you last feel like you were 'floating on air'?
That’s a toughie. I don’t feel that way too often these days. But I was pretty excited to meet my online friend, Debbie, this spring. We’d been corresponding for about thirteen years, so it was great to finally connect in person.

5. Airport, airmail, airtight, airhead...which have you most recently encountered? Explain.
I’d say airport (May), but there are an awful lot of airheads out there. People, who for one reason or another, just don’t get it. Or think they can get away with something when it’s blatantly obvious that they’re in violation of some law or policy. Case in point: the young man who is known to our staff by name, but tried to say he wasn’t using someone else’s library card to get extra time on our computers. Pfft…what an airhead.

6.  Have you ever been to the Alps? If so where did you go? If not, is this a destination on your must-see list? If you were headed that direction this summer, which of the following would be your preferred activity...a gentle walk, a serious walk, a bike ride, a boat ride around one of the lakes, or summer snow skiing?
No, I’ve never been to the Alps and the only real draw for me there would be to see my German friend who spends part of her year in Switzerland. Haven’t seen her since sometime in the ‘80s and we don’t e-mail very often. Of the suggested activities, I’d most enjoy a boat ride around one of the lakes.

7. What is one saying or phrase that was considered 'cool' when you were growing up?
“Gag me with a spoon!” – used to express disgust or extreme dislike of someone or something.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
My mom used to talk about building a house in Newfoundland. Sometimes my husband and I toss around the idea of having a cottage. We’ve rented a week somewhere the last couple of years – the first place was nice, the second not so much, though we were able to take our dog along. We’ve concluded that one home is enough to care for and that we don’t want to be stuck going back to the same vacation place year after year. There’s too much of the world left to see… But if my mom ever does get that place in Newfoundland, I might have to quit work so I have unlimited vacation time. :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Favourite Canadian Artists

This week's Ten on Tuesday blog hop asks us to name our favourite United States artists. Being Canadian and not really into the visual arts, I'm not particularly familiar with American artists apart from Norman Rockwell, Grandma Moses and Georgia O'Keeffe. Of those three, I prefer Rockwell's charming work and even visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachussetts when I was in the area a number of years ago.

And now for my list of favourite Canadian artists:

Robert Bateman 
wildlife artist

Emily Carr
modernist, post-Impressionist

Ken Danby

Lawren Harris
member of the Group of Seven - love his icebergs and mountains

primarily watercolours, with an emphasis on flowers - I own one original piece and am in the process of commissioning another

Trisha Romance
realistic and idyllic; when my daughter was born, a friend gave me a collector's plate depicting 'Nursery Rhymes', one of Romance's mother-daughter pieces 

Oswald K. Schenk
mainly marine; unfortunately, no decent website to share. I bought my mom one of his Newfoundland prints, which I purchased directly, meeting the artist in his home

Peter Etril Snyder
Mennonite life, along with a variety of other subjects

Tom Thomson
strongly influenced the Group of Seven; work similar to post-Impressionism, but also has aspects of art nouveau and arts and crafts movements
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: Death of a Cozy Writer

Author: G.M. Malliet
Publisher: Midnight Ink, 2008
Genre: cozy mystery
Series: St. Just Mystery

GoodReads Description: 

From deep in the heart of his eighteenth century English manor, millionaire Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk writes mystery novels and torments his four spoiled children with threats of disinheritance. Tiring of this device, the portly patriarch decides to weave a malicious twist into his well-worn plot. Gathering them all together for a family dinner, he announces his latest blow – a secret elopement with the beautiful Violet... who was once suspected of murdering her husband.

Within hours, eldest son and appointed heir Ruthven is found cleaved to death by a medieval mace. Since Ruthven is generally hated, no one seems too surprised or upset – least of all his cold-blooded wife Lillian. When Detective Chief Inspector St. Just is brought in to investigate, he meets with a deadly calm that goes beyond the usual English reserve. And soon Sir Adrian himself is found slumped over his writing desk – an ornate knife thrust into his heart. Trapped amid leering gargoyles and stone walls, every member of the family is a likely suspect. Using a little Cornish brusqueness and brawn, can St. Just find the killer before the next-in-line to the family fortune ends up dead?

First Lines:
The invitation, though embossed on the stiffest 100 percent rag-content paper Gribbley's, Stationers to Her Majesty, could produce, nonetheless had more than a whiff of the prepackaged Marks & Sparks sales offering about it. Ruthven could not remember ever having seen a missive so entirely festooned with angels, or, given his background, decorated with anything more festive than black engraving on woven cream.
My Review:

Sir Adrian certainly has it coming to him. His behaviour as a father is abominable and he has no shortage of enemies from within. Throw in a few other suspects - his ex-wife, his secretary, the cook's son, and the butler - and you have a story filled with potential red herrings and (maybe!) only one killer.

I'm a big fan of cozy mysteries and this one didn't disappoint. It kept me guessing all the way through.

Looking forward to the next in this series.

My Rating: 4 stars

Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Review: Lousy, Rotten, Stinkin' Grapes

Author: Margie Palatini
Illustrator: Barry Moser
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009

Good Reads Description

Fox wants the grapes, but they're too high for him to reach. He's nothing if not crafty, and in this humorous new spin on the well-known fable, fox's scheme is taken to new heights.

First Lines
Fox eyed a bunch of tantalizing grapes hanging from a vine growing high on a tree.
"Those juicy morsels are for me," he said with a grin.
The problem was, Fox was only so high...and the grapes were so, so, so high.
"No matter," said he. "I am sly. Clever. Smart. After all, I am a fox."
My Review

This is a cute variation of the old fable. Fox thinks he's so smart, but his schemes are hare-brained and he ignores the excellent advice attempted by bear, beaver, porcupine and possum. In the end, he throws up his paws and leaves the grapes to the others.

The illustrations complement the text nicely and are in bright, vivid colours.

My Rating  5 stars

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1.July 15th is National Give Something Away Day.  What can you give away? Will you?

I didn’t know this was an actual day! This is perfect! I have a bag of clothes ready to go to the thrift store, along with a water gun and a few other sundries.

2. Do you have a mantra? Please share with the class if you feel comfortable doing so.

I hadn’t thought of it as a mantra, but “this too shall pass” is something I often say or think, along with “don’t sweat the small stuff” and “choose your battles”.

3. Who does the grocery shopping in your house? How many times a week do you shop? Do you make a list or pray for inspiration in the produce aisle?

I do most of the grocery shopping, about twice a week. I usually have a list or have identified items in the local fliers. I try to price-match rather than run all over town.

 4. Is there a TV show you're embarrassed to say you watch? You're going to tell us what it is, right? 

I honestly don’t watch much television at all. We don’t have cable, so we don’t get many stations. I do borrow TV series from the library, though. Hawaii Five-0 and Person of Interest are favourites. When were on vacation earlier this year, we caught episodes of America’s Got Talent, Family Feud, Undercover Boss, and The Story Trek. Not embarrassed to admit it. 

5. A recent article listed fifteen words we should eliminate from our (written) vocabulary in order to sound smarter- that, went, honestly, absolutely, very, really, amazing, always, never, literally, just, maybe, stuff, things, and irregardless. Of the fifteen, which word is your most overused?

Probably always and never. Worse, both are generalizations.

6. So apparently dying your hair gray (in your youth!) is a thing right now. It's called 'The Granny Hair' trend. Your thoughts?

I guess it’s okay if that’s what they want to do. It wouldn’t be me, though. I am currently highlighting my hair and have no immediate plans to go gray. I hesitate because I don’t know if my gray will be beautiful or wishy-washy.
7. A while back Buzz Feed asked members to share the most beautiful sentence they've read in a piece of literature. A hard thing to narrow down, at least for me, but let's try. What's one of the most beautiful sentences you've ever read in a piece of literature?

This was hard; I had to go through my list of favourite quotes on GoodReads. Finally, I narrowed it down to this one:

“Love is holy because it is like grace--the worthiness of its object is never really what matters.” Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

8. Insert your own random thought here.

These days I’m thinking about what makes a good friend. I recently saw a 9-year friendship die and have been puzzling it out. To me, a friend is someone you stay connected with, even though you may not be able to get together often. It’s someone you care about and share with, and whom you help when you can. According to this 'definition', I was a very good friend to this person. I’d be interested in readers’ thoughts on this. What does friendship look like to you?

This blog hop comes from Joyce at From This Side of the Pond. Feel free to create your own answers and post your blog to the link-up

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I Scream, You Scream

We all scream for ice cream!! Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is - you guessed it - favourite ice cream flavours! I think listing ten is a bit much, but I'll see what I can do.

1. Chocolate
2. Tiger Tail - apparently this is a flavour best known in Canada. Essentially, it's orange with a licorice ripple.
3. Jamocha Almond Fudge
4. Pumpkin combined with Pralines 'n Cream (from Marble Slab)
5. Chocolate Raspberry with raspberry and coconut mix-ins
6. Chocolate Almond
7. Tin Roof - vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and peanuts
8. Revello Bars - magic shell coated bars with vanilla ice cream inside
9. McDonald's hot fudge sundaes with nuts (similar to the tin roof idea, but with soft ice cream)
10. Dairy Queen chocolate dipped

Too bad I can't have any right now; got on the scale this morning and, let's just say, today is the first day of my 'diet' :(

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