Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chocolate Ganache Cake

I made this cake as a donation for the Madagascar School Project at their gala fundraising dinner that took place the other night. This marble cake, soaked in Kahlua covered in rich chocolate ganache (whipping cream and dark chocolate melted together) and topped with chocolate buttercream roses and shells. The cake fetched $80 at auction.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Animal Farm

On my lunch hour at work, when it's raining and I can't sit at the park, I head to our local mill, bird seed and pet shop...mostly to play with the kittens. This time, there were no kittens so I checked out the budgies...

...and the cockatiels.

The ducklings were adorable.

I used to have turtles when I was younger (almost all of them were named Yertle) and didn't know you could still buy them. These were $29.99 each. I think when I was little they were $3!

It was lunchtime for the chameleon and the gal at the shop gave this fellow some live crickets and I got to see him extend his big, pink tongue and have some nom-noms.

This young, pale ferret was having a nice lunchtime snooze.

The best of all was this pair of Australian shepherd pups. The blue-eyed boy beauty...

..and his gorgeous brown-eyed sister. Both ended up being carried around and hugged by me. I went back to work with wood shavings on my sweater!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Windowsill Showing

Last Saturday was the vernissage for a group show in Vankleek Hill, Ontario and I was one of the contributing artists.

My painted ceramics looked terrific on the windowsills of the gallery.

They also stood out well on a few shelves in the gift shop.

Mostly I liked how the light and shadow looked on the works. Pretty nice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Walk with Peggi

I love going on walks with my friend Peggi. She's a nature lover with a keen eye. She pointed out these maidenhair ferns to me a few years back and they are now a fave.

Marsh marigolds are a bright and happy flower, almost at the end of their season.

Dragonflies of every colour and size were buzzing around happily in the spring sunshine.

This common yellowthroat warbler sang his little heart out and sat still long enough for me to grab a photo.

A mud puddle contained a happy, chortling frog.

Peggi noticed this very large garter snake, sunning itself on a rock.

The best part of the walk was coming upon these tiny Ram's Head Lady's Slipper orchids.

They are uncommon in Ontario and so small and delicate, they're easy to miss. And no, Peggi wasn't picking one...she was trying to show their scale by having her hand in the photo!

And not to be missed? The trip to Tim Horton's after the three hour walk. Here is the rare and seasonal s'mores donut, only around till the end of the month.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

American Bittern

For the past few days, all I've been hearing outside is the "pumping" sound of an American Bittern. You've got to hear this to believe it. It really sounds mechanical.

I went outside a few times with binoculars and as soon as the critter saw me, he shut down and stood stick-still to blend in with the reeds around him. It worked.

But timing is everything. I was taking the clothes off my line and there he was. I could see hear him and see him in action.

I took a few snaps and as I got further away, he started up again. I hope he finds a mate!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicky Mug Shot

My friend Gordon, after many years working in the government and most recently in downtown Ottawa, decided to pack it in and go back to what he really wants to do: live on his farm with his lovely wife Natalie, enjoy his chickens and bees, and go back to practicing criminal law.

Natalie asked me to make him a cake in honour of this big move. But what to do? Then it hit me! Immortalize my favourite of their flock (the poor, bottom-of-the-pecking order Chicky) in a mug shot.

The little chick protesters were a later brainwave...and they make me laugh every time I see them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sign of the Times

Guess what I'm doing today? Happy Victoria Day everyone. Summer's here at last!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Milkbag Mats

I saw this at my local Your Independent Grocers in Alexandria, Ontario last week.

For those of you who don't live in Canada, we can buy our milk in plastic jugs (rarely), cartons or in plastic bags. You get 4 litres in 3 tube-like clear bags which come in a larger plastic bag.

The larger bags are the bags that this group is looking for. Apparently, they cut the bags into strips and crochet them into mats to be sent to folks in Haiti as sleeping mats.

We squished the sample they had hanging and it was fairly springy and would be comfortable to sleep on. What a great idea!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Funky New Salad

While in Gatineau, Qu├ębec last week, we dropped into a huge grocery store and picked up this cool salad.

Inside it besides the micro greens were two packets of raspberry-poppy seed dressing, walnuts, cranberries and chopped apple. It was really good and great for a fast meal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mariposa Farm

On the weekend we were invited to meet at Mariposa Farm in Plantagenet, Ontario. It's about 45 minutes east of Ottawa and about a half hour drive from here.

The building sits on 175 acres where most of the food they serve is raised. It seats about 50 people and is only open for lunch on Sundays, or for special occasions.

There is no printed menu. They show you the food and it consists of a choice of 3 appetizers, 3 mains and 3 desserts. The chefs all work in an open kitchen...

... and the meat is cooked in an open wood stove.

I chose the foie gras with chutney garnish, apples and hazelnuts.

Richard had the barley and lamb soup.

For the main course, my friend Marc had the grilled chicken served with a puff pastry filled with chickeny goodness.

Richard had their duck, grown on the farm, served on a potato and cheese pillow of wonderfulness.

I had the bison served on smoked tomatoes and white beans, topped with in-season fiddleheads and hop asparagus. Oh my!

For dessert, Richard had the local cheese platter.

My neighbour across from me had the raspberry crumble.

I had the apple bread pudding. Everything was over-the-top delicious!

And the reason for the celebration? Our friends Dieter and Astrid who in 1961 got married...

...and 50 years later, are just as wonderful as ever. Congrats you two!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Groundhog Alert!

I noticed a pile of rubble beside a huge rock behind my house.

And there he was. A groundhog! We both stared at each other for a few moments. He was pretty curious. And so was I.

I checked the chickenwire fencing around the garden for holes. I know my carrots will taste pretty yummy to this guy. In the meantime, we're knew neighbours, just feeling each other out.


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