Monday, 19 April 2010

National Volunteer Week

Mid-April is National Volunteer Week here in Canada, and my organization usually participates in two different ways. First, we join our central volunteer organization at an Info Fair in a local mall.

It's always fun trying to devise an eye-catching display as well as come up with a gimmick of some kind to draw potential volunteers to our booth, especially when there are 50 or 60 other booths in the mall also trying to do the same thing! This year, I took my button jar to the mall. Lots of great conversations ... "My Mom used to have a button jar!" ... "My gran kept her buttons in a cookie tin!" ... although guesses were WAY off. There were actually 3,311 buttons in the jar. Yes, I dumped it out and counted every blessed one before taking the jar down there! I had no idea my button jar was so well endowed.

The second way my organization participates in this annual week is by hosting a lunch for our own volunteers. Despite our limited budget, we always try to do something fun. This year we enjoyed entertainment by a drama troupe from one of our local seniors' activity centres. Oh my, I laughed so hard! However, I can't begin to do justice to their skits by describing them ... it was one of those "you had to be there" things!

The best part of our volunteer lunch was having our volunteers introduce themselves and tell everyone a little bit about WHAT they do for us, HOW LONG they have been volunteering for us, and WHY they volunteer for us. I was really touched by the diversity ... seniors, students, mentally handicapped adults, new immigrants, housewives, businessmen ... all pulling together to make our community a better place for seniors. Reminded me yet again why I love my job, even if 12 hours at a booth in the mall makes for a very long day!

Miss Boots, naturally, was not too impressed with her hu-mom coming home after 9 pm. Her dinner time is 6 pm!

No time for our evening play time when the hu-mom gets home that late! Consequently, she was on serious play time overdrive Saturday morning ... and made my morning Chai and newspaper routine impossible! I would have been annoyed, but knew I had to be gone most of Saturday in order to set up and clean up for our volunteer lunch. However, Miss Boots and I spent quality time together Sunday (yesterday) to make up for it, so all is forgiven!

It was a busy week and busy weekend, but I managed to finish reading a great book ...... The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. This story is based on real people and events, young Sarah Carrier and the Salem witch trials in the late 1690s, and is written by a descendant of young Sarah. Sarah's mother, Martha, was arrested and hung as a witch and for a time, young Sarah was incarcerated under the same charges. The language is picturesque, the story fast-paced and attention-grabbing, and the realization that fellow human beings are still hated or imprisoned or killed because some group or another objects to their "different-ness" keeps screaming from the pages. If you are remotely concerned about women's issues or human rights, READ THIS BOOK!

This book ...... Complete Book of Indian Cooking by Suneeta Vaswani ... caught my eye in the bookstore in the mall. I LOVE Indian food! And I love cook books ... what a perfect combo! Each section of this cookbook is subdivided into four geographical regions of India with explanations of the overall food and lifestyle, methods of cooking, and common ingredients including spices for each region. Most ingredients listed are available in the ethnic foods section of any major Canadian grocery store. The photography ... both regional and culinary ... is superb, and the author has included lots of personal and family snippets about different dishes and customs. I can hardly wait to start taste-testing, and have an interesting grocery list to take to the grocery store after work tonight!

Have a great week, y'all!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

I just dropped in to say ...

Just a quick post today ... it's been a busy week and I have a busy weekend ahead of me. The sun is shining outside, and I'm about to go out and get me some rays (by walking downtown to get cat food because Her Highness won't eat fish and the only tins left in the cupboard are fish)!

"What? YOU eat the fish stuff, why don't you! It's NOT for me!"

This has been an exceedingly crazy weather week. Yesterday, I walked about 6 blocks from a downtown committee meeting back to my office, and experienced sun, snow, sleet, hail, rain, and nasty gusts of wind alternately during that brief 10-minute walk!

The back yard ... covered with hail stones the size of small marbles!

If you don't like the weather, wait 2 minutes and it will change ... makes it damned hard to figure out what to wear! Winter coat? Or light spring jacket? Wool socks? Or dare to get out the sandals? I'm truly jealous of y'all out there in your gardens already, or enjoying spring flowers!

If you look at the side of this blog, you will see a wee poll asking for some blogging suggestions. I'm starting to feel like it's time for an update here ... but I'm not sure what direction to go. Comments welcome!

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Easter Weekend 2010

Hello ... I WROTE this post last Monday, but Blogger was being difficult about including photos at the time and I didn't have the patience to fight with it. So here it is, Monday's post on Friday:
Well, it is presently 6:56 pm Easter Monday, so I suppose the long weekend is about finished. Did y'all do anything particularly special???? I didn't ... just enjoyed being at home, and that was really nice.
Miss Boots assumed my presence indicated "play time", and she made quite a pest of herself insisting that I drop whatever I was doing to play. If I tried to ignore her, she started doing naughty things like jumping into the bookcase and knocking photos and books onto the floor, or climbing up the back of my legs! Besides hair elastics and scrunchies and dirty socks out of the laundry basket, Bootsy's favourite toy at the moment is this gadget ... a fake fur "tail" with a bunch of feathers and a bell at one end and a stick at the other end. The stick is brilliant! Keeps the hu-mom's hands safely out of the way of kitty claws. The game goes like this: Boots PRETENDS she's NOT really watching the "tail" go by ...
... then at the LAST possible second, she ATTACKS and KILLS IT! Repeat until kitty is too tired to continue. In between rounds of this game, I finished the "bubblegum and licorice" sock I (we) started last weekend. I managed to get it all done during the week while travelling to and from work on the city bus, but for the "bubblegum" pink toe . I got the ribbing and first row of the pattern of sock #2 started ...... with Miss Boots' assistance of course ... ready for this week's knitting on the bus project. In addition, I spent some time in the kitchen preparing a variety of things for the freezer. I like to have soup / stew type things that I can heat up quick if I'm tired at the end of a long day. I also bake my own bread, and try to keep some "baked goodies" on hand.

PS: Missing you L ... cookies are lasting so long these days that they're going stale in the cookie jars! ;-P

I had a couple of extra zucchinis in the fridge, so I made ORANGE ZUCCHINI BREAD. Here's how:

First, grease a loaf pan and set it to one side. Then, grate about a cup of un-peeled zucchini ...
... along with the zest of one orange. In one bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Yes, I used whole wheat bread machine flour. It's what I found in the cupboard! In a second bowl, mix together your grated zucchini and orange zest with 1 egg, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup veg oil, and the juice of 1 orange.
Mix the wet mixture into the dry mixture and keep mixing until the two are incorporated together but don't overdo it. Spoon batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake at ...
... 325 degrees F for 55 minutes. A toothpick should "test clean" at the end of the 55 minutes. If not, bake another 5 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing or storing.
I like to bake. And I like to eat. If I ate all the things I baked in one or two sittings, I'd be much "fluffier" than I already am. Baking is a real challenge for single people, did y'all know that? I have discovered a solution! Ziplock bags! I store one or two slices of home-made bread, Orange Zucchini Bread, cake, etc in the freezer in individual Ziplock bags ... then I can take out and eat a reasonable amount when I feel like it. For example, yesterday I had an urge for something chocolate and decadent after dinner, so I dug into the frozen chocolate cupcakes ...
... and served myself up one cupcake with a handful of frozen raspberries, a shot of raspberry liqueur, and a splash of cream ...... all in a fancy Margarita glass. Dessert for one! If I don't treat myself when I have the urge, I end up eating too much of the good thing after denying myself for any extended period of time. How do y'all keep your eating/dessert habits under control?