Saturday, September 13, 2014

Grace in Small Things 77

cool air, the smells of autumn

classes full of keen students...and waiting lists

being encouraged by my coworkers to ask for something I deserve

feeling like I'm sitting in an indoor jungle since bringing in so many plants for the winter

yummy thrift store haul

two dresses and linen tunic with ample pockets




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Grace in Small Things 76

a free and neutral net
a job I love
not only a roof over my head that keeps the rain off me, but... a setting so peaceful and restorative that every single visitor comments on that upon their first visit
teaching someone to read for the first time in ANY language--there's no feeling quite like it


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Grace in Small Things 75

getting off to a good start with our new downstairs neighbour

a pile of scrap metal items (left behind by former neighbour) magically disappearing from the curb within two hours--relieving me of having to haul it to the dump or ask the landlord to do so

a damp morning spent out in nature with my tribe

watching eagles, warblers, and shorebirds on their way south

a very nice 20 hours spent with my love between work weeks

Riverside Sportsmen's Club (Windsor)

I've blogged about this place before, as we ate ribs there once. This time we ended up there for a weekend breakfast.

Service was pretty good, though in no way comparable to the excellent service we got at Scoop's in Niagara Falls where our server seemed never to lose track of the level of coffee in our cups. Our food was also good enough that we'll probably return here for breakfast, especially since it's close to home.






One thing I found rather amusing was the evidence that this establishment may have had trouble at some point with people settling in and taking advantage of the coffee refills, or maybe even stashing away extra jam packets in their purses/pockets. I say this because of the "One free coffee refill" note on the menu and the fact that our server asked us if we needed jam, then brought exactly two packets of the requested type, no more.

Riverside Sportsmen's Club on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Beans and Greens (Kelly)

Chuck has discovered a new dish that all the Italian establishments in Niagara Falls, NY have on the menu: beans and greens. Or maybe it's greens and beans. The place that makes the most delicious version uses more greens than beans. There are MANY recipes on the internet, and I've yet to find THE ONE to recommend to you. This was my latest attempt. I used kale this time because the store was out of escarole. The restaurant that makes it the best uses escarole. It's actually a sort of soup, though in this photo I have it on a plate.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Skippy's (Windsor)

Call it lazy or call it pressed for time, instead of posting my review of Skippy's here, I'm giving you a link to my TripAdvisor review.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Emo-Ne (Windsor)

Finding myself downtown too many hours past my last meal, I looked quickly around for anyplace to eat cheaply and quickly so I could get on with my errands. The only available parking spot on Pelissier happened to be in front of Emone, so in I went.

Service was prompt, the strawberry in the salad was a nice detail. The dish I had was generously laden with all sorts of crunchy veggies and bean sprouts, but the egg disappointed me a bit. Japanese and Korean restaurants often advertise a lovely hot noodle dish on the menu sporting a photo in which the yolk of the egg on top is still yellow. But when I order these dishes, the egg arrives 75% cooked through already, leaving no yolk to drip down into the noodles when I pierce it with the chopsticks. This was one of those disappointing occasions. But there was still a bit of runny yolk, so I survived.

The complimentary green tea was tepid and weak, but it's hard to complain about something you've not been charged for. Frankly, I'd rather pay and have it be hotter and stronger. Oh, well.

The music playing was clearly aimed at a young demographic, perhaps the many university students now taking classes downtown. It was somewhere between hip hop and techno. Or maybe there's a new genre I don't yet know the name of.




All in all, this was good value for my dollar. I would go back.
Emone Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grace in Small Things 74

the lesson embedded in this

that the magical moments of my trip happened after wrong turns

like when I exited the gas station right instead of left

and chose the nearest unpaved farm road to turn around

then saw the enormous hawk on the wire RIGHT OVER MY HEAD

turned around again, I saw them

people.

humans.

falling gently from the sky

twirling, dancing wide spirals downward

as a large fox darted from high corn to high corn just ahead


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grace in Small Things 73

zinnias in a riot of hot colours

discerning dowitchers and yellowlegs without the help of an expert

driving alone for hours and hours through rolling pastureland

sun on my skin

being surrounded by tangle and brush



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Grace in Small Things 72

being welcomed into the home of others

learning new things from someone who has lived and taught ESL a lot longer than I have

squirrels, chipmunks, orioles and cardinals coming and going as we worked

being invited to share in a delicious Thai meal


finding the courage to put money worries aside and give myself a very special gift (an experience, not a material possession)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grace in Small Things 71

One of the best decisions I made recently was to spend some of my summer volunteering.

Another decision that is proving to be a good one is having set 9:00 a.m. twice a week as the time at which I do one of those volunteer gigs. It gets me out of bed, showered, dressed and moving early in the day.

This article helped me get back on the meditation cushion after a long period experiencing strong, strong resistance.

For today at least, I have broken free from a frustrating and very discouraging cycle of anxiety and procrastination, each of which feeds the other to a snowball effect--the end result of which has been utter paralysis. I think that the same article, along with a good meditation session, also helped me get back to the project I'd been dreading.

A dream in which a small bird with jewel-like colours flew over and sat on my head.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Grace in Small Things 70

VISITORS!


We hardly ever get visitors at the city cottage. My friend said it is even more [I can't remember which adjective she used] than it looks in the photos and videos. More serene. More beautiful. More soul-nourishing. That's what!

And my visitors included CHILDREN!!! Children among my midst. Oh, yes. Children can be exhausting and trying, but they can also lift one's spirits like angels sent from heaven.

Oh, the fun I had shopping for child-friendly snacks last night at Meijer in the states. I had a blast picking out stuff I wanted to try with the convenient excuse that CHILDREN were coming: goldfish, dream animals, organic raisins in tiny boxes and fruit-at-the-bottom yogourt in little cups.

A group of young ducks was obliging enough to come by asking for handouts just when children happened to be standing on the riverbank with fistfuls of cornbread. (Of course I never feed bread to wildlife, but I feel no compunction about giving them cornmeal in a form that floats.)

A gift.



Sunday, August 17, 2014

White Kidney Beans and Ribs in the Crockpot (Kelly)

One thing Chuck always requests when I ask him what he wants for dinner the night he rolls in from whatever city, USA, is VEGGIES. Road food usually means whatever he can find in a local pub near his lodging, which is not really heart-friendly fare.

Even though he was slated to work Saturday, he made the four-hour trip back here that night for a family reunion over in the Detroit area the next day. Knowing he would want something healthful for dinner Saturday, I got some chard. (I have a friend who is kind enough to offer me chard from her garden, but I was too lazy to drive to her town to pick it.) I also looked on the internet for a recipe that would make use of one of the many bags of dried beans we have on hand. I decided on riblets and white kidney beans in the slow cooker.


It was yummy. I heard the words "tasty" and "good" come out of Chuck's mouth a number of times while he was working on his first and second helpings. This is not a man who gives insincere flattery. In fact, the first words out of his mouth when he saw the strip of peg board that I'd painted and mounted above his desk, and to which I had glued some clothespins so he could get stacks of papers off the tiny desk's surface, were: "That's atrocious. It's scary!"

My feelings were hurt since I'd spent a good part of the day painting and gluing, but he was right. It really was awful. I took it down and thanked him for his honesty, asking him never to stop being honest with me. I value honesty a lot more than I value never having my feelings hurt.



Well, back to the meal. He never says something is good if he doesn't mean it.

I also made a buttermilk pie for the next day's family barbecue and garnished it with strawberries and a kiwi slice. I forgot to take a picture before the plastic wrap went on, and forgot again before I sliced into it at the gathering.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Grace in Small Things 69

Jungian analysis. It's the BEST. I have been in and out of therapy of all sorts since I was about 13 years old, so I can call myself a connoisseur. After getting amazing, miraculous, inexplicable results during 3.5 years of analysis with Anna in Waterloo, I have recently decided to avail myself of the services of Paul Adams in Windsor.

Thanks to a friend who recommended magnesium bisglycinate for nighttime and morning stiffness, I am no longer faced with having to buy a new mattress. It never was the mattress, after all! Taking the mineral on an empty stomach ensures that nothing competes with it for absorption. Taking it before bedtime means I am falling asleep faster, sleeping like a baby, and waking with no more stiffness. I can now SLEEP LATE for the first time in a decade or more.

Having the freedom to spend today slowly working on tonight's meal. I put the main course in the slow cooker at 9:30 this morning. At 3:00 I made the corn bread and started washing the chard. The house smells wonderful.

My sweetie will roll in at around seven tonight after a 60-hour work week far from here. Together we will enjoy the meal I've worked on all day.

I am a slave to the animals and birds that visit "Kelly's Cafe." I refill the hummingbirds' feeder frequently, take in the Baltimore Orioles' feeder nightly lest the raccoons should drain it, and toss peanuts to squirrels with silky black coats who stand on hind legs, front paws tucked to their chests, supplicant.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grace in Small Things 68

I think a friendship may be forming between me and someone I would LOVE to be friends with from now until forever

meditated today

it helped

after a week of eating only what I need instead of every yummy thing I WANT, the new dress fits

how blessed I feel today to live where I live--in a peaceful country with a RELATIVELY acceptable degree of social justice



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Upcoming Events (Windsor)

Hey!

There is so much fun stuff happening around Windsor in August and September. The following is just a small sampling of events I have seen advertised around town over the past couple of days. Just click the blue hyperlinks for all the details, like dates, time, place, and cost--if any.

Starting tomorrow, Ribfest

August 15th through 17th - Leamington Sunset Tomato Festival

August 21-24 - Tecumseh Corn Festival

August 23-34 - Amherstburg Art by the River

August 28th through 31st - Harrow Fair

September 13 - Vintage in the Village Street Festival

September 27th and 28th - Doors Open Windsor

Do you plan to participate in any of these events? Which one appeals to you the most, if any?


Monday, August 11, 2014

Grace in Small Things 67

taking a walk among the wildflowers

rain, rain, rain

finding the exact music to lift my spirits when I was feeling low

giving a free English lesson to a monk

wee wildflower arrangements in tiny vases


Sunday, August 10, 2014

A New Dress

Somehow McCall's 5042 and this lovely 100% cotton material found at Joann Fabrics in Detroit brought out the best of my patience and attention to detail.



I'm very pleased with the result, especially the inside, which looks almost as good as the outside thanks to some very skilled seamstresses who share freely of their knowledge via YouTube. I get to soak up lessons for as long as I want for the small price of watching the first four seconds of advertisements.

Inside of dress - bodice lining

I'm very glad I chose to put in an invisible zipper. My next one will be even more invisible, as I my dressmaking skills are a bit rusty. But still, doesn't that give the dress a polished finish?

Invisible zipper
I'm also pleased I diverged from the pattern instructions and did not leave the shoulder seams open for later slip-stitching. As MANY experienced seamstresses confirmed, this is an unnecessary burden. The dress looks fine with the entire armhole seam machine stitched. If it were not for the internet, I would still be doing things strictly according to pattern instructions and wasting a lot of time on hand stitching certain areas.

Another great move was following this wonderful teacher on how to sew a lining to a zipper on the inside of the garment. She saved me from yet more hand sewing. Thank goodness we now have YouTube.

Finally, I am happy that the sewing machine my late step grandmother (step father's mother) gave me decades ago has a set of embroidery / zig zag cams for producing special stitches. I've never used any of the cams except the blind hem cam. It allows you to hem up a skirt, pants or a dress whereby the only thing you see on the outside of the garment is one very tiny little vertical stitch every two inches or so. Can you see one little pink stitch in the middle of this photo and another one on the yellow flower on the right?  The crease is from the ironing I did before hemming; it should come out in the first wash. Isn't that subtle?

blind hem

What a beautiful dress. It cost me about $30 USD in material and notions, but could be cheaper if I find material on the sale rack. I already owned the pattern and had made this dress once before in lilac coloured linen, though not as well. Oh, I still have to make a belt to go with it, as I don't really want to wear an off-the-rack belt with it.

McCall's 5042

Can you sew? If so, do you?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Container Garden

I am SO glad I decided to try to have a container garden on the deck this year. I spend most of my time when I'm home either on the deck or within view of it through a bay of three big windows. I was right when I thought last year that I would like to see colour and thriving greenery whenever I look out or sit out. Also, it's been wonderful having fresh cilantro all summer. The mojito mint, rosemary, sweet and Thai basil have also come in handy, though I haven't used the thyme, rosemary or oregano very much yet. Soon?

Based on what I've learned this year, next year I will plant more cilantro and maybe not bother with dill. I won't buy celosia, but will get more zinnias. Also, if I try again to start anything from seed, I'll start them a lot earlier.


I saw a beautiful potted combination when we were walking around Buffalo. Don't these colours look gorgeous together? I love the way the little purple flowers in the bottom of the pot make the orange and red-orange zinnias POP.


Did you have a garden this year? If so, what did you grow? What, if anything, will you do differently next year?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Windsor Palace (Windsor)

Having finally tried it, I have to say that Windsor Palace may be Windsor's best kept secret when it comes to Middle Eastern fare. Although my Iraqi students had been talking about it for ages as the place they go for anyone's birthday or special treat, I'd been put off by the facade. It is squeezed between Baled Bulk Food & Butcher Shop and an alley.

My colleagues and I chose it for our mid-summer get-together, and I'm so glad we did. The dingy strip-mall outer appearance is no indication of what is awaiting diners inside.

I had the Iraqi kabob, which came with lentil soup and a choice of potatoes, rice or salad. The soup was very good and the meat was tender and juicy. I especially liked the rice with golden raisins.

Iraqi kabob at Windsor Palace

After dinner, a couple of people in our group ordered a plate of baklava for sharing. That was nice of them! The baklava was made at the bakery across the street.

baklava and tea at Windsor Palace

Service was prompt and friendly.

Windsor Palace on Urbanspoon
No longer will I limit my Middle Eastern restaurant outings to Mazaar and El Mayor. Next I'll have to try Akkad.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Buffalo, NY

Once again I've had a chance to explore an American city thanks to Chuck's job.

We stayed on the Canadian side, which is also where Chuck is lodged for the duration of this contract. I was tasked with finding us a room on short notice on a three-day weekend (for Canucks) near the falls in high season. Since we are not into $300/night rooms, and since even the cheap places were filling up fast, we made do in a scruffy motel badly in need of renovations where the proprietors' eagerness to please plus the cleanliness of the room constituted the tenuous thread that kept us from calling the whole thing off. Yes, I would have driven the four hours back home again had we not managed to find Chuck some flip flops for the shower. To be honest, I would stay there again were I alone. The surrounding green hills were lovely.

We found a neat little diner in Niagara Falls where we had a late breakfast.

2-egg breakfast with pea meal bacon at Scoops, Niagara Falls
Chuck offered to show me around Elmwood Village, a cute neighbourhood of Buffalo. We spent a couple of hours window shopping, and I fell in love with a store called Thin Ice for their soft, pre-shrunk, garment dyed PlanetLove tee shirts, sun catchers, and wee colourful ceramic wall hangings with sayings. Oh, and for the slender grey tabby cat who wandered in and out, greeting customers.

I noticed a sign inviting passersby to a little labyrinth hidden behind the Unitarian Universalist Church. Chuck waited while I walked it.

When my tummy started to growl, Chuck took me to a place he's video-called me from before: Fat Bob's. Wow, was that a great meal! Our server told us that everything was made from scratch on site. The collard greens were the sort of tender you can only get by cooking them "slow and low," as they say.

collard greens, 1/4 rack ribs, corn bread at Fat Bob's
Chuck had to rise at 4:30 the next morning for work, so I headed back to Windsor right after this meal to enjoy Civic Holiday shopping in Detroit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Missing Mexican

My palate is still geared to cilantro and limes, moles with subtle chile undertones, fresh tortillas and pico de gallo done right. And so this week we made our way across town to Windsor's only Mexican grocery store, a tiny place on Tecumseh near Pillette called Mexico Lindo.

We got tortillas made in Detroit, probably in "Mexican Town," and a little tub of pico de gallo. I can make it myself, but I felt like letting someone else do the chopping and dicing this time.

By thawing and cooking some thighs we had in the freezer, we were able to create some pretty authentic tacos for that night's supper. I added Monterey Jack with peppers and sprigs of fresh cilantro from our herb garden. Alas, the avocados I bought still need a few days in a paper bag before they'll be ready for consumption.


My next attempt at Mexican food was ceviche, a total failure. The recipe I followed suggested keeping the raw shrimp submerged in lime juice a day or overnight. Since this ceviche came out tasting like lime-soaked erasers, I'm thinking I over-marinated the seafood. After reading a few more resources online, I'm convinced the shrimp can "cook" in far less time (maybe even 40 minutes?) and thus the lime flavour will not drown out the taste of the shrimp, as happened this time. Maybe I'll dice the shrimp before marinating, too, as some recipes suggest. The ones I had in San Carlos were butterflied but not diced.



After this photo was taken, I placed lime slices on top to keep the shrimp fully submerged, covered the bowl and placed it in the fridge. I thought the longer it "cooked," the safer it would be. Sigh. I'll post again if I get it right.

In the meantime, I made my way back to Mexico Lindo for more staples I'll need for a few more attempts at la cocina mexicana using the beautiful cookbooks I got at the library. While shopping to stock the pantry, I noticed some steam trays at the back behind glass. In Spanish I asked the old fellow behind the cash register to show me each item. I ended up with a take-out container of chicken in mole, rice and refried beans. When I got home, I discovered that the chicken was some of the tenderest and juiciest I'd ever bit into. The mole was made with chocolate and chiles (very mild heat), and the rice was plump and moist in a way mine never comes out. This store is definitely going to go on our list of places to consider on nights neither of us feels like cooking.

take out from Mexico Lindo, Windsor, ON