Category Archives: Shopping

Domesticity

My friend Kathy told me about something called Farm Box last year and I was intrigued. Canmore-based Farm Box is modelled after a basic CSA (community supported agriculture) program in which we (consumers) buy shares of growers’ harvests at the beginning of the season and receive our shares at our local farmers’ markets at harvest time. Farm Box represents a number of producers and the best thing about the shares (in my opinion) is that we don’t know what we’re getting until just before market day.  There’s something different every week.

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This week’s Farm Box offered us the chance to buy a case lot of Roma tomatoes, pickling cucumbers or peaches. I went in for the tomatoes and they’ve taken over my life for the past 2 days. I’ve still got a few pounds to process but truly, one can not live by tomatoes alone!

I turned this

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into 6 pints of tomato sauce, ready to add a fresh spark to dull, cold winter evening meals.

Another couple of pounds of tomatoes went towards this.

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Gazpacho shot, anyone?

There are still enough tomatoes left for some salsa and some freezer-bound tomato soup.  Tomorrow is another day.

Beautiful small beets went towards a fully-stuffed pint of pickled beets (one of BB’s favourites) and zucchini turned into zucchini-chocolate chip mini loaves.

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All of this cooking, freezing and processing leads me to naming my favourite kitchen gadget/tool of the week.

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A food mill. In this case, the OXO Good Grips Food Mill. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and has 3 discs for your choice of fine, medium or coarse processing. It saved me a lot of time and clean-up, especially when it came to making the tomato sauce.  I’ve wanted a food mill for years and just wish I’d gotten it sooner.

That extra time allowed me to start a new needle-and-string project.

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More on that later, as well as some new, and local, yarn (!)

Is It Spring Yet?

It’s a beautiful Spring day here in Banff.  Okay.  I know it’s not really Spring but it’s sunny, and breezy and above 0ºC and if only for today, I want to believe.

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I’m still getting over the rough beginning to last week when I spent the last three days of my vacation sick in my hotel room bed.  I’m still waiting for all my strength to return as well as my appetite .  In the meantime I’m making due with mostly vegetarian meals, long walks with the dog and some Spring cleaning around the house.  Oh, and I hung laundry out on the line this morning.  Because I could.

As horrid as the end of my vacation was, the beginning was everything I needed and more (except for the very cold weather.  That I could have had at home.)  We spent 10 days in Toronto, for both business and pleasure.  I know.  I’d gotten some grief about that.  Toronto?  Why not some place warm instead?  Well, it’s been a few years since I’d been back and I spent as much time as possible reconnecting with the friends I’d left behind. There was much food, and some drink, and lots of laughter and sharing of stories as we caught up.  For the briefest time, I was home.  Sounds warmer than sunshine to me.

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The other key point of the trip was to buy some of the yarns that Canada Post shipping rates keep from me.  Sadly, my brush with death illness took some of my shopping time away and I didn’t make it to Ewe Knit to pick up some Indigodragonfly yarn.  But I did make it to Lettuce Knit for some gorgeous MCN from Zen Yarn Garden.

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It’s Serenity 20 in the new Art Walk Series.  This colourway is based on Franz Marc’s painting, “The Fox”.  It’s going to make a gorgeous shawl.

And a too-short stop at Romni Wools (there is SO much to look through!) yielded the perfect colours of Cascade 220 Superwash Sport for BB’s requested Rasta Socks,

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as well as 2 skeins of Punta Yarns MeriTwist Hand Painted in lovely shades of brown for a cowl.

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Good thing it’s not really Spring yet.  There’s so much winter knitting left to do!

Falling

I know it’s still officially summer, but the past few days have felt particularly autumnal.  The start of the school year has always made me think “Fall”, even long after I’d finished with school.  And the weather, yesterday and today, has enforced that thinking.  It’s pretty cool out (6ºC, 43ºF) and a little rainy,  but not as rainy as yesterday afternoon – so far.  I stopped by the Banff Farmers Market before the rain started yesterday  and though much of the produce available still screams summer (and still tastes and smells like it too), a transition is underway.  Bags of onions, boxes of peppers, and bunches of broccoli mounded high are telling us to get ready for the season to come.  There were still lots of cherries and strawberries but it was the pears and prune plums that caught my eye.  I’m thinking pear crisp and plum kuchen.

And if you’re wondering how radishes fit into the autumn bounty, get yourself a couple of bunches, wash and trim them, cut larger ones in half and put into a bowl with about 2 lbs. of carrots, cut into chunks, and some peeled pearl onions.  Toss the veggies with some olive oil and freshly ground pepper then spread them out on a cookie sheet and roast in a 375ºF oven for 20-30 minutes, turning once.  When the carrots are tender, remove from oven to serving dish and toss with chopped fresh dill and salt to taste.  Bitter radishes?  Not this way.

A trip to our farmers’ market isn’t complete without a stop at the Black Forest Bakery stall for a loaf of bread.

Yes, you’re reading that right.  Bacon Bread.  Made with double smoked European bacon baked right in.  To get the real bacony flavour of this bread, toast it.  It was perfect with White Chicken Chili for dinner.

I finally finished knitting and seaming my Brigid Jacket, known as Ruby Brigid or just plain Ruby to me.  Happily, it’s been cool enough to wear it already and I am totally in love with it.  Totally.

The buttons proved a bit of a challenge in more ways than one.  It didn’t take long to find buttons to suit the colour and style of the sweater but I was a bit disappointed to find that the buttons I liked were, in fact, 3 sizes of the same button, displayed one atop the other (when space is an issue, shopkeepers must do what they can).  The largest of the 3 was the perfect size but it was so plain, sitting there all alone on Ruby’s buttonband.  It looked so much more fulfilled when I put the other 2 buttons back on it.  Obviously there was no choice but to buy the buttons as a set – times 4.  Yes, that tripled the price.  Yes, they were a nightmare to sew together (none of the holes lined up properly – don’t look too closely!).  And yes, they are totally perfect.  No, I couldn’t have done it any other way.  What do you think?

Shark vs. Collie: And the Winner Is …..

 We have a rather large kitchen.  Our kitchen table seats 8 comfortably so we often entertain there.  Some days I almost live there – cooking, eating, reading, knitting, watching TV, all in the company of our collie who loves it there as well.  It’s a great space, until it’s time to wash the floor.  The floor area is about 15 ft x 20 ft and it’s laminate.  I’ve discovered that dog drool sticks to laminate better than glue.  I did find a solution:  after thoroughly washing the floor, scrub at the drool spots with a Magic Eraser,  then rinse.  It feels like it takes a whole day to get that floor clean.  A friend suggested using a steam mop.  I said I’d think about it; and I did.  I researched.  I read reviews.  I did price checks.  While I was doing all that, I wasn’t washing the kitchen floor – well, at least not often, and not near as often as required.  The dog drool was gaining dimension.  I found myself in Canadian Tire the other day, deciding between 2 steam mop models.   

This is what came home with me. 

Shark Deluxe Steam Mop.  (The only difference between the Deluxe and the regular is 5 ft more cord and 5 cleaning pads instead of 2)

Safe for wood floors, ready to go in less than a minute(!), no wringing, no rinsing.  How could I go wrong?

Did I mention that the floor hadn’t been cleaned in a while?  I was getting streaks halfway through, so I switched to a clean mop pad and that did help.  The dog drool however, wasn’t going to give up without a fight.  I steamed it in every direction but couldn’t get it all up.  I finally gave up and used the Magic Eraser. 

Although the Shark Steam Mop did eliminate 90% of the dog drool, Round 1 has to go the Collie.  Way to go, Skyler.

Aside from that though, The Shark did a really good job.  It’s fast, it’s easy and the floor, aside from the aforementioned collie contributions, is noticeably cleaner.  I’m actually pretty amazed. 

Today’s another day, 24 hours since the last cleaning, and a new set of droplets have dried onto the floor.  This time, The Shark fared better, getting about 98% of the job done.  But in the end, dogs drool, dogs rule.  Sorry, Shark.

Woof, woof!

The Supreme Irony

    

 You’ve probably seen this before, on TV or in your local Home Hardware store.  The Benchmark® Safe-Cut™ Dual Blade Package Opener! I’ve wanted one since I saw the first commercial for it.  Not as enticing as anything the Canadian Tire guy used to flog, but it seems useful.  It seems especially useful when you don’t have one and you’re trying to open one of those stupid packages without cutting off your hand – or at least a finger.

There’s only one problem with it.

It comes packaged like this:

                     

  

“This is the last package you will struggle to open”

  Very funny.