Friday, September 29, 2023

Genova - Liguria - Italy

 The hotel we're in was built in 1897 (we think - it might have been 1891?).  It has operated as a hotel that whole time and was the first hotel here.  They still use the old phone.

Hah, just kidding.  That's the phone in the ELEVATOR.  One of those fun ones where you have to open the two doors, then close the two doors before you push your floor button.  When you arrive at your floor, you have to open the two doors on the OTHER side of the elevator, get out, then close those two doors again so the contraption can carry on it's mission of making people slightly nervous about whether their will is up to date.

And, btw, that's the ONLY elevator for the hotel.  If we were closer to the lobby instead of being on the 5th floor, I'd be giving the stairs more of a workout.  As it is, I'm only taking them to go down.  Not up.  Lazy - yes, and cranky knees.

I didn't sleep last night.  Suffering from jet lag I guess.  I also like to read for a while before bed, and what do you supposed landed in my inbox from the library just when I was leaving home?  Yup - Steven King's Fairy Tale.  It is very good so far, which also makes it a challenge to fall asleep.

And, we are eating supper very late for me - 7:30 last night is when we sat down for a wonderful meal of pesto gnocchi, then sea bream, then coffee flavour semifreddo for dessert.  We got back to our room at 9:50 pm with a full stomach.  

I can't even talk about our first night meal in Milan - it was at Casa Tua, and consisted of eight courses, along with many bottles of wine.  That night I thought I was going to explode.  But running on zero sleep over the previous 24 hours I fell into bed and konked out.  In the morning, Janice remarked that at one point she wondered if I was dead.

Here, our little breakfast cafe in the hotel is really cute, done in reds and pinks.  This is the first time I've seen any hint of vegetables.  At breakfast???

Today we had a morning walking tour over to the waterfront, which finished at noon.  We travelers (37 of us) were released on our own recognizance until dinner at 7:30 tonight.  Janice and I browsed the shops for a couple hours - look at the beautiful floors on the outdoor pathways!

We didn't buy anything and both of us were kind of running out of steam.  First we got lost in that downtown area, but managed to find our way back to the waterfront so we could retrace our morning tour to get back to the hotel.

Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn somewhere and got lost as f**k when we were within 5 minutes of our hotel.  We came upon a nice lady & her husband who were taking their two dogs for a walk.  The wife convinced him to lead us in the proper direction while she continued on with the dog walkies.

When we manged to get back to our room, I had a couple glasses of water and we both passed out for a nap.  The weather is gorgeous, sunny & warm.  This is the view out our window.  It's on a rather busy road, so every couple minutes "Anthony" lets "Vincente" know that he's a terrible driver, if you get my meaning.  And emergency vehicles are also running by regularly with their horns blaring.
Tomorrow we have another half-day tour and then we'll be heading to Chiavari for two nights.  More adventures await!

Thursday, September 28, 2023


 It was a long 24 hours to get here, from the time we left the house, two plane rides and a bus ride.

Flying over some Alps, between Paris and Milan.

Waiting for our hotel rooms.

Our room in Milan.

Sunrise in Milan.

Gotta run, before the bus leaves without me!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

She's having what for lunch??

 This is a bowl of leftover green beans (DH does not like green beans) and pickled beets (DH also does not like pickled beets, the weirdo) and feta cheese.

This is what I have picked so far today:
That's 5 sweet peppers, 2 lovely tomatoes, a bunch of cherry tomatoes, 2 strawberries (now gone - they were my lunchtime appetizer), a container-thingy of purple beans (which turn green when you cook them), and 3 zucchinis.  I already have 9 zucchinis in the fridge and I gave away 3 yesterday.  I have to go back out again to pick the Roma tomatoes.  And don't get me started on the kale - OMG, so much kale out there. 

This is what I picked two days ago.
That was 7 sweet peppers, 4 zucchinis, 2 lovely tomatoes, a bunch of cherry tomatoes, a few peas, and another container-thingy of purple beans.  Along with a whack of Roma tomatoes which are still sitting on my kitchen floor.  I pick them a little bit green, hopefully before some pest starts nibbling on them.

If food is medicine, then... I should live to be 248 years old.  God save us all, lol.  Which is why I will indulge in some not-so-healthy chocolate later on.

Tonight's supper will be Charlie's Beef & Zucchini.  My friend Sue gave me this recipe years ago - it's one of my favorites (although as you can probably guess...not DH's favorite!).  I suggested that he could make himself hamburgers but he's decided to grin & bear it.  😫 His face at the supper table.

What I also have in the fridge is about 3 litres of fresh raspberries from the neighbour.  Mmm, raspberries & yogurt for breakfast ❤.  She already gave me that many a week or two ago, which are in the freezer.  

And I've frozen three cookie sheets worth of Roma tomatoes.  The last few years I've been canning tomatoes but I still have several jars from last year, so I'm going to skip all that labour.  I do plan on doing a couple sheets of roasted tomatoes...they are sooo good.  I'm almost out of what I roasted two years ago.  Roasted tomatoes make an excellent base for pizza, instead of tomato sauce.  And I'll throw in a couple dollops whenever I need a bit of tomato flavour, or sometimes I use it instead of tomato paste.  I freeze it in little half-cup portions, which is close to the size of a can of tomato paste.

I've also frozen sheet #1 of diced sweet peppers.  We make a lot of soups/stews/stirfries and, fyi, sweet peppers are very expensive in the winter.  I can save that money for chocolate.

I was wide awake at 3:15 am today and had my nap from 8 - 10 am.  Crazy.  Here was the lovely sunrise, though.  Taken at 6:52 am when I'm sure I was the ONLY person on the planet who'd been awake long enough to have had two cups of coffee already.

And when I get sick of PRODUCE (which is starting to happen most days, some years I'm very glad when November rolls around), I'm working on this lovely quilt:
The stitch-in-the-ditch is all done.  I'm now quilting the motifs in the blocks.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Things have to look up soon, right?? And random stuff.

 I bought a layer cake.  Well, actually I bought a lot more than a layer cake, but we'll leave it at that shall we?  At least this goes with a border print that's been in my stash for many years, AND I have a pattern that will work with all this stuff.  So it's good!  Well, except for the part where I'm not supposed to be buying fabric.  Ahem.

Even Coco thinks some of DH's t-shirts should go in the trash bag.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. 

WEDNESDAY Aug. 23rd: I was half way through this quilt.  Then BAM the hydro went out while the quilting machine and the computer were all turned on.  No more work that day because the hydro stayed out until 8:30 pm.

THURSDAY 24th:  Quilting equipment was acting weird and kind of schizophrenic so I reached out to my support team.  They gave me a couple of suggestions which did not help.   Blecch.   Then 9:30 pm BAM the hydro goes out again.  And stayed out until 6:30 am, by which time the basement had flooded.  Because of course the generator decided to act like an asshole.
MONDAY 28th:  We had an outdoor guild meeting.  Just a nice social event to catch up and show off our summer stitching work.
TUESDAY 29th:  DH changes the start/stop switch on the quilting machine, and that seems to be the fix.  Yay!  Broken machines are very stressful.  Apparently the first hydro outage fried that little sucker.
FRIDAY Sept 1st:  I get an email from one of the guild members who was at the Monday get together.  Uh huh, she'd just tested positive for covid.
SATURDAY 2nd:  We had 1-800-LUKE and his wife here for dinner.  I spilled a whole mug of fresh HOT tea in her lap.  Oh, dear God.
SUNDAY 3rd:  The internet is out A.L.L.  D.A.Y.  Puhleeze... people can't live like that!!

Have you been reading news stories about how fast fashion is not sustainable and is really bad for the environment?  You may rest assured that that does not apply to me.

I made a lovely batch of Peach Marmalade.  One of the recipes without added pectin, where you have to watch the temperature and when the jam gets to a certain temperature it's ready to put into jars.  Uh huh...after I gave away two jars I decided to have some myself on toast.  Oy vey...that stuff is hard as a rock.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

WIP Wednesday, the Colour Wheel, and a Pasta Recipe (sort of)

 Since today is Wednesday you're getting a WIP Wednesday post.  You're welcome. 😁 I've been working on this quilt since last fall.  It's the Colour Me Creative block of the month from Phoebe Moon.  I have one more border to go, then it'll be ready for quilting.

The design is meant to be scrappy, so I chose that black fern print first.  I have a lot of it and it's been hanging around for Y.E.A.R.S.  Like much of my stash, I'm ashamed to say (although I know I have lots of company out there).  When I plunked the colour wheel on it, it did NOT identify in the yellow-greens where I expected it to be.  It matched in the yellow column.  Huh.  So I used the TRIAD guide to pull my other fabrics from reds and blues.  BTW, I purchased my colour wheel at an art supply store.  It was about half the price of a comparable item from a quilt shop.

Out in the garden I've been battling cucumber beetles this year. They killed my first crop of squash.  (why are they in the squash, anyways???)  By the time I replanted seeds I thought the beetles had flitted off to greener pastures, but nooo - they are still here.  The other irritant is cabbage moth.  They're working on the cabbage and the kale.  I think DH is paying them to stay in the kale.  It's definitely NOT on his list of favorite foods.

Anyhow.  Garden pests are the reason I've only picked TWO zucchinis this summer.  The first one was pinky size, so really small.  The second one was P.E.R.F.E.C.T.  I've also got a few nice tomatoes, lovely big onions, enough purple beans for a Helen-sized serving every two days.  We'd been out for dinner to an Italian restaurant on Sunday so on Monday I was still in that mood for tomatoes & parmesan.  Here ya go...very informal pasta recipe:

GARDEN PRODUCE PASTA (serves 4 but very easy to amend)


- half pound of bacon

- 2 cups of dry pasta, my preference is fusilli

- 1 or two leaves of kale

- a couple onions and a couple cloves of garlic

- some tomatoes, enough to dice into about three or four cups

- garden veggies, whatever you have:  peppers sweet and/or hot, zucchini or other squash, peas, beans, carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.  Mushrooms if you have some on hand.

- some fresh basil leaves, diced

- 1/4 c. heavy cream and 1/4 c. parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)

  • cut up half a pound of bacon into 1" pieces and cook it crisp in a BIG frying pan, drain off the oil and set the bacon aside on paper towels to drain.
  • chop up the kale leaf(s) (mine are huge).  Toss the big fat rib in the compost, or dice it small and freeze it for winter soup/stew/meatloaf/pasta.
  • dice a couple onions and a couple cloves of garlic.
  • add a bit of olive oil to that big frying pan and saute the onions, garlic & kale for 5 minutes or until everything is getting slightly soft.  The liquid released from the onions should help to scrape the bacon stuff off the bottom of the pan for extra flavour.  Yum.
  • dice up some of your garden produce - I used a HUGE green pepper and a jalapeno pepper and a zucchini, but pretty much anything is fair game:  peas, beans, carrots, whatever.
  • add the diced veggies to the pan and saute them for a few minutes.
  • enough diced tomatoes of any type to make about three or four cups - add them to the pan and cook until they're soft and the liquid is simmering and reducing a bit.
  • add 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup parmesan, the basil leaves, and the reserved bacon.  Stir, throw the lid on the pan and shut the heat off.
  • MEANWHILE you will have been cooking about two cups of pasta - I like fusilli because all those little ribs grab the sauce and other bits, so you get a great mouthful in every bite.
  • drain the pasta.  You can either add the pasta to the pan with the sauce if the pan is big enough, OR return the pasta to the cooking pot and throw the sauce in there.  Whatever - mix all the contents together.  Serve with extra cheese and a loaf of lovely bread.  Add a salad if you like.
** I do not usually add salt to my food (blood pressure, you know?).  In this recipe the bacon is already very salty, but if you're a 'salty' person, go ahead and add some.  

** This is also a good fridge cleanout recipe for the day before your weekly grocery shop.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

the Sewing Watch, a Beautiful Border, and Strawberry Biscuits

Waaay back in 2013 my Singapore niece was married in Bali.  If you have insomnia some night, you can scroll back through my blog and find my stories about that.  BUT, on the way home from Bali I had a layover in Hong Kong.  While strolling around, killing time, I wandered into a little gift shop and saw a watch that was clearly made JUST FOR ME.

It was originally equipped with a red, fake leather band.  Which lasted about two weeks.  Seriously - that's no joke.  Two weeks.  On one of my adventures with Beach Girl Diane to a quilt show somewhere in the USA, I found twill tape printed as a measuring tape.  That self-made watchband lasted almost 10 years, but it truly needed replacing this year.  And what did I do as soon as the new band was installed?  I dropped the watch on a ceramic tile floor.  🫣  Had to take it in to the watchmakers and get new guts installed, which cost me $65.00.  How much was the original watch, you ask?  About $20.00.  (we will not add on the $5000 wedding trip cost).

This was a fun quilt I worked on last winter.  Love, love, love those borders.

It's high season for strawberries now.  My freezer still holds a large bag of berries from LAST year.  A few days ago I was awake at 4 am, so by 6 am I was getting hungry.  And I wanted sugar (which seems to be a companion to insomnia???).  Hmm.  What to do, what to do...
Strawberry Biscuits.  Very good. (**)  Used up some of the frozen berries.  The biscuits were totally gone the next day.

(**)  Recipe was adapted, because y'all know how I like to cook healthy, if I can:
  • replaced 2/3 cup flour with Whole Wheat Flour.  
  • for the buttermilk I used leftover whey from when I made yogurt a few days ago.  There wasn't quite enough so I topped it up with sour cream.
  • I whizzed up a handful of walnuts in the food processor and added them to the mix, for the Omega 3's.  If "bad" food is on the menu I can at least try to get some good cholesterol, right?
  • Slightly smaller size - I made 12 biscuits.  Although that didn't help much, as we still managed to eat all of them in the space of about 30 hours.
This message was brought to you by my cutting garden.


Wednesday, May 31, 2023

It's 31.4c in the shade

So, yeah.  This is not where I am.  It's where I WAS on the weekend - up to visit my friend Margaret in the Kawarthas.

We went to the Lindsay quilt show one day, ate too much every day, hung around the dining table gossiping catching up, and of course sewing.  I got this stitched together - it will be the center of my version of the guild Block of the Month.

Here is the whole quilt, made by my Program partner.  I donated the quilting. The guild will give this to Glanbrook Community Services to assist in their fundraising efforts.

It's hard to see the border quilting...a side light helps.
Fresh veggies are on our plates... lots of asparagus.  And look at all that fresh lettuce!  

I am a messy gardener who would rather pull weeds or cut flowers rather than deadhead stuff.  Which means that after the lettuce is finished, I turn a blind eye to the flowers.  Then I turn TWO blind eyes to the seedheads that are blowing all over the place.  The benefit to that is early spring lettuce that I didn't have to plant.  DH rototills the garden but he leaves this swath where the asparagus comes up.  And it's coincidentally full of lettuce.  For many years I would start lettuce seedlings in the basement under lights, until I finally realized that those plants were edible at the same time as the lazy-man version.

Up in the top left of that photo you can see the garlic is looking very very happy.  In front of that, today I planted onions & beets, then some beans over to the right.  Yesterday I put in cabbage seedlings.  About 10 days ago I planted pea seeds but so far they are still hiding.  Unless Peter Rabbit is eating them as they sprout. 😒

Now, I'm taking a break and having a "Mommy's Special Drink".

Here's your giggle for today...