Mittens' Journey

It’s early, but Mittens scratches and gnarls at the crate.

‘ OK, my human, I need to go pee".   It's New Years Eve, and the sun it peeping though the blinds.  I agree it's time at 7.58am.  I thank her for being my little piece of discipline.   I decide not to coax her out of the crate and leave her to her own devices.  Jumping into my slippers I make it to the back door.   She eagerly follows and runs outside for her pee!   

Mittens is calling the shots on this one.  Yea, I have her favourite treat already rolled up, ready to say "Yes" with enthusiasm.  We eat, all three of us.  Susie ( Boston Terrier ) is gaining weight but still quite itchy ( she has allergies) 

 

This 8 lb ball of fluff has me stomping through the snow in the back yard making a play-maze for us to run in. Yes, me!  I could fall....but she's worth it.

2016 is leaving my life.  What a mixed up crazy year.  I welcome 2017.  I like the number 7.  It's a time of change, and I'm welcoming that change. 

Mittens is teaching me so much, like how to put 2016 behind me and concentrate on her.  To accept, to be flexible, to keep an open mind.  

Tonight she plucked up the courage to take Susie's squeaky toy to her nest under my chair.  Beautifully done.  Possession is 9/10ths of the law.  

 

Happy New Year.   I have a new alarm clock that whines gently from her crate at 7.58am.  Mittens wants something. I open the patio doors to the trail we shovelled yesterday evening.  YES! she pees on command!   I have her treat ready.  She looks pretty happy.   She starts running around, back and forth from the kitchen to where she is fed.  She is speaking up.  It is such a joy to see her ask and relax enough to do so.  All fed and it's 10:30.  She's chewing on her chew bone.  Mittens prefers to run and jump not walk.  Susie on the other hand isn't doing too well.  Her allergies have become aggressive.  She's very itchy.  She isn’t eating too much either, but I do have her on vegan food again so perhaps she’s just a quick thinker!

 

Today is February 23rd 2017 and I’m catching up with this piece.  

We have progressed so much.  Mittens is now called Nellie!  Susie and I have benefitted so much from her joining our family.  We do think, though that she is related to a jack rabbit.  I have got to say the people at Rosie's know their stuff.  They know how to match dog to human and they follow up to see that both are doing ok.  The after-care is incredible and they have a wealth of knowledge to share.  

These rescue dogs come with their own baggage; some have had a terrible background. The absolute joy of working with an animal that another human has been cruel to becomes a gift.  I thoroughly believe that these dogs are eternally grateful. Yes, Nellie has changed two lives, mine and Susie’s.    Susie has had 4 significant losses in her little life, a contributor to her allergies could have been quite a bit of stress.  As Nellie grows to trust us, she has found a playmate in Susie.   They now play tug of war, run and play through the house and they are inseparable. They guard the house too.  Susie's allergies are now under control and she is starting to grow much of her coat back.  

I will never, ever buy a dog from a breeder again.  Definitely not a store. I will rescue.  

I can't recommend Rosie's enough.  Not everybody can have a dog from Rosie's in the time they would like because Rosie's want to find the perfect match.  Sometimes we have to wait for that great moment.  

If you wish to be considered for rescuing from Rosie;s Animal Adoption visit http://www.rosieanimaladoption.ca for more information.

A Day for a generator!

My trusty generator!    
I had no idea when I bought this house, why I would ever need a generator.   One such old beast came with the house.  
Living through the angry, frigid, damp winters of the east coast of Ireland pales in comparison to what I have experienced on the past 16 years here in Canada.  
Batten down the hatches has a whole new meaning.  
We had window shutters tucked neatly into side panels of every window, the original windows of an 1830s home.  You never changed those windows. Just replaced a pane when it broke.  As a storm edged it's way towards us, we as a family, would close the shutters tightly using an iron bar as the latch.   The fires we set in each bedroom and lit.  We would gather,  all 7 us, in the sitting room, warming ourselves to make that dash up the stairs to bed, with our hot water bottles.  
BUT THE HYDRO NEVER WENT OUT.
Not at the level that it does here.   Quebec seems to bring this experience to a whole new level.   I stopped a Quebec hydro worker one day and asked "why"!  "Madam, there are so many old trees".  
That makes sense.   Our hydro wires are still above ground.  
So when you stay at Gite 72 and the Hydro goes out, we switch over to "Fred"!    Our trusty generator.   
Keeping you warm, safe and content at Gite 72.  

The Queen Mother has left the building....

Ladies and gentle men, Mesdames et Monsieur's, Noble Lords and Ladies  
A Dhaoine Uaisle.

I am now the former Queen Mum!    Not the late but the former Queen Mum!

          The Queen Mum Emeritus. 

We started our evening in fine fettle indeed.  I was joined by some loyal friends for Irish Coffees here at Gite 72.  
Using a good shot of Jamiesons, our Signature Coffee and the most  essential ingredient (besides the coffee ), fresh cream  - 35% no less.  I lined up my spoons, glasses of hot water, glass of cold; the technique I learned from those fruitful days spent as a Medieval Hostess at Bunratty Castle in Ireland.  Note I did not use the word "Wench"!   
I gingerly balance the tip of the cold spoon against the glass at the line of the coffee.  
Lifting the gently beaten cream with the warm spoon you delicately slide the cream across the back of the spoon.  It will easily slide off and sit perfectly on the top of the coffee/whiskey mix, producing a fine Irish Coffee.  Your lips instantly meet the thick cold cream, then the hot coffee and whiskey.  Perfect. 
Once you have served and drunk at least three of these coffees , this next piece is extremely important,  you hide in the kitchen with a spray can of cream, singing " too la roola too ra" ,  to drown the sound of the aerosol.  


There must be a solid line between the cream and coffee.  Cold then hot!

Some snacks of smoked salmon, on dark rye and Irish Brown Soda bread topped with crème fraîche or Sriracha Mayo.  Some dill. 
For our vegetarian friends, slices of cucumber, egg and creme fraiche.  Cherry tomatoes stuffed with egg salad.  Of course never forget to have the dark chocolate cake with Jamieson cream icing.  

We made our way to Auberge Willow to attend the Queen and her court ceremony.  
Perhaps one or two sheets to the wind! There, that evening, I handed my reign over to our next wonderful Queen Mum for 2016. 

What a great year.  My gratitude goes out to the team of organizers, the firefighters, paramedics , indeed crowd control WHO keep everybody safe during the march.   
The organizing committee and the selection committee who will not disclose themselves, for fear of repercussion.  
In the year 2015 they created a Queen Mum who embraced the title beyond expectations.  
There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that I had a great time.  


                  Thank you so much

Shrove Tuesday - the feast before the famine.

We thought we'd share a recipe for the type of pancakes we all grew up on. Thin and crepe-like and a real treat for us.  The flipping of the pancake was always our favourite part of the preparation!

PANCAKES

Ingredients:

8oz all purpose/plain flour
Pinch salt
2 eggs
2½ cups milk
2 tsp melted butter plus melted butter for cooking

Method:

Makes 12 pancakes

Sieve the flour into a large baking bowl, add the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs and beat well until smooth and lump free.

Add half the milk and the 2 tsp of butter, beat well. Add the remaining milk and stir.

Leave the batter to rest for 15 minutes.

Lightly grease a pancake pan or frying pan with a little melted butter, heat until very hot and add a ladle of batter to evenly and thinly coat the base of the pan. Cook until set and lightly golden. Flip over (if you are really brave try tossing the pancake in the air, great fun) and cook on the other side for approx 30 seconds.

Remove the pancake from the pan, place on a sheet of kitchen paper and keep warm. Continue as above until all the batter is used up.

To Serve

On Pancake Day, pancakes are traditionally eaten sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon. However, serve as you like with jam/jelly, Golden Syrup, honey, chocolate spread, whipped cream; whatever you like..

Enjoy!

My Journey from the Emerald Isle to Missis....something - Part 2

I have two brothers living in Canada who have kept their eyes on their little sister over the years.  One was an expert at finding me playing out in the fields when I was called in for bed.  (Their little sister is now 59!)  I would hide, hold my breath and get everyone else to hold their breath, while he sought out my whereabouts.   He was usually successful.  

The other was sent to parties, when I was of the age to go, to be my escort and God forbid that I might meet anyone because unless this fellow passed the 'Paul Test', then there was no way any relationship would survive.   I can honestly say that it is such a great feeling to be loved and protected by two such great men.  I can also say I did everything in my power to circumvent them.  I failed miserably.  

In August 1988, David and I decided that we would go to Algonquin park so that I could be truely Canadianised!!   I was in great hands, I thought, David has been my protecter all my life. Well, at least sometimes.  Excitedly, I packed my designer clothes.  My favourite yellow shorts and white T shirt.  I had my nails done for the occasion too.  That day had come that my brother and I would drive off into the sunset in his burgundy Mazda equipped to camp in the wilderness armed with his canoe, other necessities, and my designer clothes.  Boy I was going to look good!!

The drive there was uneventful except for the fact that the canoe started to move.  The first part of my wardrobe was to disappear before my very eyes. Padding from my swimsuit was now strategically placed on the roof rack to keep the canoe from scratching his car.  Brilliant idea I though,t but I'm not going for a swim now.  Lord knows I might be seen without my trusty support!   

We arrived at the park, got our paperwork and off we paddled into the dark blue clouds.   I had never been in a canoe before nor had I paddled into a storm!!   After the storm had abated we paddled our way around Smoke Lake to find a camping site.   It was getting dark, late, and I found myself on my knees posing as a maidenhead with a flashlight in my mouth as David paddled further into the park.  

I had never camped before either!   

So....I got to pee in the woods and made the fatal mistake of looking into the pit. eat muesli while a squirrel argued with us, and drank water straight from the lake.  

The piece de resistance was covering ourselves with "Deepwoods" sitting on a rock and drinking Irish whiskey from a silver flask while colourful dragonflies danced around us.  We sang Irish Ballads and shared family stories while our voices carried across the lake.  

As for my designer clothes???  Well they ended up straddling a long branch onto the lake.   A steak had leaked its juices onto them and they were now flying like the Japanese flag from our campsite. 

My Journey from the Emerald Isle to Missis....something.

I sat in the cold porch.  The single panes of window glass were sweating on the inside, the phone pressed firmly against my ear.  The wind and rain worked their misery outside. It is going to be so much nicer in Canada.  

'Now Paul,' I spoke to my brother in Canada, my index finger firmly planted on the map of Ontario, 'this place called Missis something, outside Toronto, now would that be a nice place to live?' 

He sighed, 'I know nothing about Ontario or Toronto or Mississ something, I live in Quebec, in Montreal'.   'Oh well, sure for Gawd's sake, that's only up the road,' I said as I slid my finger along the map.  Lovely, just lovely.  

Paperwork, interviews, medicals, and vaccinations followed.  Canada used a points system then and we were on a roll.  We got points for everything and finally found ourselves sitting in front of the Canadian Embassador to Ireland.  We had our interview.  Terrified for no reason, we wore our Sunday best as if we had just stepped out of Mass with angelic expressions on our faces.  Sure they would want Angelic people over there.  We both had jobs and family and had every intention of getting through this interview so we could start a new life with great opportunities for the children.  

The Embassador greeted us with a smile and a hearty handshake.  What a lovely man, I thought.  They all must be lovely over there.  At one stage he threw his hands behind his neck, elbows outstretched and planted his feet firmly on his desk, shoes and all. I was never allowed to do that.   

He stated, as he lit his pipe, that,( puff, ) Toronto was a great place, (puff.)  You could go underground and shop and go to work (puff ) and never really have to come up to street level (puff.).  Oh what a great place, I thought, you could live like a mole. How exciting.  

In April, my husband left for Canada first.  He would stay with my other brother in Toronto as he searched for a job as a drug rep in the pharmaceutical industry.  Within weeks offers were sitting on the table.  I was to remain in Ireland to sell the house, which I did.  

On May 22nd, 1988 I boarded our Air Canada flight to Toronto from Dublin.  The twins, were given a sedative so I could endure the flight.  

It had the opposite effect! They entertained the whole aircraft, losing shoes, soothers, toys etc.  

Arrival at Pearson was arduous.  Lining up with now very tired and cranky children was nothing to be sneezed at, but I must say, everyone in Immigration was very helpful.  

Michael met us at Pearson, excitedly, jumping up and down waiting for us.  

A great big Cutlass Sierra in Silver waited for us.  This was to be our new company car to transport us through the next few years of "awe" as we settled into our new lives in Canada.   As we drove to my brothers house, I noticed how grey everything was.  I had left The Emerald Isle behind!   The daffodils, fields of green, snowdrops, a tapestry of colours. What had we done??

Within 2 days one of the biggest heatwaves descended on Canada.  Everything rushed to bloom.  Explosions of colour.  Everything was bigger, amplified.   We had left our island behind us in search of a new and better future for us and the boys. 

Within 6 months the economy picked up in Ireland!!  

T'is the luck of the Irish!

Mini Knickerbocker Glorious!

Little did we know when we brought a new item to our breakfast menu that it would prove so popular!  Our seasonally flavoured Mini Knickerbocker Glory has been a big hit with guests since we introduced it in the summer with fresh strawberries.  We have extended our flavours to pumpkin and rhubarb and ginger for the Holiday/Fall period.  We love to keep our breakfast menu new and interesting so we tend to change items seasonally, using fresh and locally produced produce whenever possible.

If you aren't a sweet tooth we also have a delicious ricotta cheese and ratatouille tart with sundries tomatoes....yummy!