Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quick Barbecue Chicken

Can you ever have too many barbecue recipes? Not a chance. Here’s another great way to cook chicken on the grill.

Quick Barbecue Chicken

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) bone-in chicken breast halves (I use any type of chicken pieces)
Cooking spray


1. Prepare Grill

2. Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well. Loosen skin from chicken by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat; rub spice mixture evenly under skin over meat. Lightly coat skin with cooking spray. Place chicken, breast-down, on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill for 30 minutes or until thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 degrees, turning twice. Let chicken stand 10 minutes. Remove skin, discard.

(Note: I rub the spice mixture on top of the skin. It’s delicious!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Halloweeny Things To Look Forward To

We’ve had an amazing summer this year, which allowed me to enjoy an amazing gardening season. And although one side of me doesn’t want it to end, there’s another side that is looking forward to a little winter rest, and a little more free time to take care of other things.

And...

I’m looking forward to some of the things that the fall season has to offer. Like Halloween and the Halloweeny things that you end up bringing home. Like this here cool doll:




Isn’t she just adorable? Okay, adorable is not quite the right word. How about interesting? Or colourful? Or Halloweenish? Yeah, definitely Halloweenish.

This is just one of many things to look forward to in the next few months!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunflowers Coming Up!

It’s a very exciting time here in my little part of the world as we anticipate the sunflowers coming into bloom. It’ll be any day now.





Can’t wait!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Silliness

Seeing that we have a pet cat, it seemed fitting to include some cat humor on this week’s silliness post.


Basic Rules For Cats Who Have The Run of The House

Doors

Do not allow closed doors in any room. To get a door opened, stand on hind legs and hammer it with forepaws.

Once door is opened, it is not necessary to use it. After you have ordered an "outside" door opened, stand halfway in and out and think about several things. This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow, or mosquito season. Swinging doors are to be avoided at all costs.


Guests

Quickly determine which guest hates cats the most. Sit on that lap. For sitting on laps or rubbing against trouser legs, select fabric which contrasts well with your fur. For example: white-furred cats go to black wool clothing. Note: Velvet takes precedence over all other cloth. For the guest who exclaims, "I love kitties!" be ready with aloof disdain, apply claws to stockings or arms, or use a quick nip on the ankle. Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything - just sit there and stare.


Hampering

If one of your humans is engaged in some close activity and the other is idle, stay with the busy one. This is called "helping" otherwise known as "hampering." Some rules:

When supervising cooking, sit just behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and thereby stand a better chance of being stepped on and then picked up and comforted.

For book readers, get in close under the chin, between eyes and book, unless you can lie across the book itself.

For knitting projects or paperwork, lie on the work in the most appropriate manner to obscure the maximum amount. Pretend to dose but every so often reach out and slap the pencil or knitting needles. Sit on the paperwork they are working on. Roll around on the papers, scattering them to the best of your ability. After being removed for the second time, push pens pencils, and erasers off the table, one at a time. Embroidery and needlepoint make great hammocks.

When a human is holding the newspaper in front of him/her, be sure to jump at the back of the paper. They love surprises.

Dart out quickly and as close as possible in front of the human, especially on stairs, when they have something in their arms, in the dark; and when they first get up in the morning. This will help their coordination skills.

When a human is attempting to "make the bed," hop on it and curl up in the middle, or pounce on the sheet the human is trying to rearrange. If the human tries to ignore you by covering you with the sheets, move around and try to mess things up. Protest loudly when you're evicted.

Laundry presents many opportunities to hamper. Laundry fresh from the dryer is a perfect bed, since it is warm and soft. As soon as it is put down for sorting, arrange yourself for a nap. If the human removes you, keep returning until the laundry isn't warm anymore. Now it's playtime. Pounce on anything the human tries to move around for folding, especially socks and nylons. For added fun, grab a sock and hide under the bed with it.


Play

This is an important part of your life. Get enough sleep in the daytime so you are fresh for your nocturnal games. Listed below are several cat games. It is important though to maintain one's Dignity at all times. If you should have an accident during play, such as falling off a chair, immediately wash a part of your body as if to say "I MEANT to do that!" It fools those humans every time.


Games

"Catch Mouse": The humans would have you believe that those lumps under the covers are their feet and hands. They are actually Bed Mice, rumored to be the most delicious of all the mice in the world, though no cat has ever been able to catch one. Maybe YOU can be the first.

"King of the Hill": This game must be played with at least one other cat. Sleeping humans are the hill which must be defended at all costs from the other cat(s). Anything goes. This game allows for the development of unusual tactics as one must consider the unstable playing field.

WARNING: Playing games 1 and 2 to excess will result in expulsion from the bed. Should the humans grow restless, immediately begin purring and cuddle up to them. This should buy you some time until they fall asleep again. If one happens to be on a human when this occurs, this cat wins the round of "King of the Hill."

"Tag": This game requires two or more cats and may include a dog. One cat is "it." The other(s) chase him around the house until they catch up. Then follows the "Scrimmage," after which the cat who caught the other becomes "it" and is chased around. Great fun but has the greatest potential for loss of Dignity from maneuvers such as the Non-Carpeted Floor Skid and the Throw Rug Wipeout. Whenever such a situation occurs, all felines must immediately wash themselves. Dogs are generally too stupid to do this and may continue to play. In this case, the dog automatically becomes "it" and should be subjected to the "Pileup."

"Tube Mouse": This is a game played in the bathroom. Next to the Big White Drinking Bowl is a roll of soft white paper which is artfully attached to the wall so that it can spin. Inside this roll is the Tube Mouse. When you grab the paper, the Tube Mouse will spin frantically as it tries to escape from you. When the Mouse is exposed, it dies of fright and stops spinning.


Toys

Any small item. If a human tries to confiscate it, this means it is a Valuable Toy. Run with it under the bed. Look outraged when the human takes it away. Watch where it is put so you can steal it later. Two reliable sources of toys are dresser tops and wastebaskets. Below are listed several types of cat toys.

Bright shiny things like keys, brooches or coins should be hidden so the other cat(s) and humans can't play with them. They are generally good for playing hockey with on uncarpeted floors.

Dangling and/or string-like things such as shoelaces, cords, gold chains and dental floss also make excellent toys. They are favorites of humans who like to drag them across the floor for us to pounce on. When a string is dragged under a newspaper or throw rug, it magically becomes the Paper/Rug Mouse and should be killed at all costs. Note that playing with shoelaces when the human is trying to tie them is a great source of Hampering.

Within paper bags dwell the Bag Mice. They are small and the same color as the bag, so they are hard to see, but you can easily hear the crinkling noises they make as they scurry around the bag. Anything, including shredding the bag, can be done to kill them. Note: any cat you find in a bag hunting for Bag Mice is fair game for a Sneak Attack, which will usually result in a great Tag match.


Food

Eating, however, is only half the fun. The other half is getting the food. Cats have two ways to obtain food: convincing a human you are starving to death and must be fed "NOW"; and hunting for it oneself. The following are guidelines for getting fed.
When the humans are eating, make sure you leave the tip of your tail in their dishes when they are not looking.

The best times to inform humans of your dish's emptiness are when they are unable to ignore you, such as when they are sleeping or on the toilet.

Should you catch something of your own outside, it is only polite to attempt to get to know it. Be insistent - your food will usually not be so polite and try to leave.


Scratching Posts

It is advised that cats use anything which is most useful to you. They are very protective of what they think is their property and will object strongly if they catch you sharpening your claws on it. Sharpening your claws on a human is a definite no-no!


Water

Dripping taps are the best sources of fresh water. Toilets are the next best. It is imperative that any sound of running water be investigated immediately for a possible drink. A plaintive meow and licking the faucet usually will get most humans to turn on the tap.


Vacuum Cleaner

This appalling Beast is known by many names, "Cat Eater" being the most prevalent. Humans will turn into raging monsters while under its influence, sucking up all the carefully shed cat hair and terrorizing the feline residents with evil glee. All you can do is run and hide.

Occasionally, the humans are forced to open the vacuum cleaner and remove a swollen bag from within. This is its stomach, and must be destroyed at all costs. Do not worry if the human yells at you, for the yell is really that of the Beast in pain.


Sleeping Humans

It is known that sleeping humans are boring. The "direct approach" is nearly always successful in rejuvenating a dormant human. Do one of the following:

Trample, purr, meow or head-butt. If the human is being stubborn, you may have to resort to more drastic tactics, such as ripping down posters, rattling blinds, or singing at the top of your voice. Eventually the human will get up and do what you want, usually in a disgruntled manner.


Mornings

In order to provide for you, the humans must leave the domain every morning (usually before you take your first cat nap). To help them on their way, howl loudly, massage their scalps with your claws, or gently bounce on top of them in bed. See Games. The best time to do this is about 24 minutes before their alarm clock goes off. We must protect them from that blaring noise for it could ruin their hearing.


Medicine

The vet is where your human takes you when you are sick. The place smells funny; there are cats, dogs and awful things like needles and pills. Don't let humans cat-handle you. The following are some tips for dealing with vets and medicine.

When you see the carrier come out, run and hide. Once the human grabs you, struggle gamely. Splay your legs out so it is difficult to cram you into the carrier. If the human is trying to put you in with another pet, allow the other pet to bolt out the door. In the car, meow plaintively all the way to the vet's. Reach through the bars of the carrier and claw the human as s/he drives. At the vet's, once again splay your legs and brace yourself against the carrier's walls so they can't dump you out easily.

At home, resist attempts to feed you pills or liquid medicine. As soon as you hear the pill bottle rattle, hide. Resist attempts to open your mouth. Squirming is good. Shake your head vigorously to remove any medicine placed in your mouth. Refuse any food that smells like it may have had medicine sprinkled in it.


Illness

If you have to throw up, get to a chair quickly. If you cannot manage in time, get to an Oriental rug. If there is no Oriental rug, shag is good. When throwing up on the carpet, make sure you back up so it is longer than a human's bare foot.


Conclusion

Humans need to know basic rules. They can be taught if you start early and are consistent. You will then have a smoothly running household.

Good luck!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo Of Clair

I’ve read that male ferrets are much more energetic and active than females. I’m not sure if this is generally true or not, but in our household that’s the way it is. Bailey, our male fuzzy, is much more vigorous than our female fuzzy, Clair. He plays harder, he stays awake longer, he’s much more mischievous than Clair and he‘s certainly more eager to get out of his cage and explore the world.

Clair, on the other hand, lies around a lot, sleeps more than Bailey, plays quietly and often has to be dragged out of the cage to get some exercise. If it was up to her, she’d be swinging in a hammock all day. Oh, wait, she already does that...


“Of course she does, Clair...”

If you’re looking to get a ferret and would like one that’s somewhat lazy, you might want to consider picking up a female.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today's Trivia - Assorted

Time to add some useless but interesting information to your knowledge base...


- The last prisoner to leave Alcatraz Prison was Frank Wathernam on March 21, 1963

- Statistically speaking, you have the greatest chance of landing on Illinois Avenue when playing Monopoly.

- The human nose has five million scent receptors.

- A town named Tidikelt in the Sahara Desert did not receive a drop of rain for ten years.

- Because natural gas does not have any odour, most gas companies add a chemical that smells like rotten eggs to help us detect a gas leak.

- A squash ball moving at 150 kilometers per hour has the same impact of a .22 bullet.

- On average, Americans spend more time in their cars than they do on vacation.

- “Psycho” is the first motion picture in which a toilet is flushed.

- It costs approximately 3 cents to make a $1 bill in the USA.

- A cat’s jaw cannot move sideways.

- In Britain, there are approximately 50,000 pubs with 17,000 different names.

- Venetian blinds were invented in Japan.

- The most widely eaten fruit in America is the banana.

- The first ‘foreigner’ to fly into space with the American space program was Canadian Marc Garneau.

- Americans use about 100 million pounds of tea leaves every year.

- The top-grossing movie of all time is James Cameron’s “Titanic”, raking in $1.8 billion worldwide.

- There is a real place called Hicksville.

- Anne Frank addressed all her diary entries to Kitty.

- The use of the word "rat" as an insult goes back to the 16th century.

- Singer Prince was born with epilepsy.

- About 15% of the world's wine bottles have screw caps.

- Monkeys floss.


- Crayola crayons come in 120 different colors, but the labels are only made in 18.

- Experts say people have an average of 150 friends.

- More than 97% of all e-mail traffic is spam.

- The last major Hollywood movie to be released on VHS was "A History of Violence" in 2006.

- Cows given names produce more milk.

- The skin that peels off after a sun burn is called "blype."

- The record label, Motown, was originally called Tamla.

- King Tut was buried with 145 loincloths.

- In Great Britain, 53% of all homes have a Scrabble set.

- People buy more blue toothbrushes than red.

- The risk of being struck by a falling meteorite for a human is one occurrence every 9,300 years.

- Sneezing may be a symptom of pregnancy. Expectant mothers often sneeze for no apparent reason.

- The typical pine cone is female.

- The first World Wide Web search engine was called Wandex.

- According to a recent study, 87% of women use scissors as their first throw when playing "Rock, Scissors, Paper."

- Ancient Greeks believed wearing amethysts would help keep a person from becoming drunk.

- The original Scrabble game didn't have a board. It was played with tiles only.

- The U.S. has the highest dog population in the world. France has the second highest.

- In casinos, $50 bills are known as "frogs" and are considered by many to be bad luck.

- During the ice age, there were six-foot tall "mammoth penguins."

- Bubbles in champagne were seen by early wine makers as a highly undesirable defect, one that should be prevented.


That’s all for this week! Hope you all had a great day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It’s All About The Simple Things

After a few days of rain, we finally got to enjoy a beautiful, sunny day yesterday. I took advantage of the nice weather and spent the day outside catching up on some garden chores. Aside from deadheading and weeding, I worked on improving the soil in the flower beds by adding layers of fresh soil and compost. I actually began this job a couple of weeks ago and have been slowly moving forward, one flower bed at a time. Weather permitting, of course.

Anyhow, so there I was yesterday kneeling down beside some coneflowers as I worked on improving the quality of their living quarters when, through my peripheral vision, I noticed something fluttering around nearby. I thought it must be a bee or butterfly or wasp or something like that since I’ve been seeing these types of critters hanging around the backyard all summer. You know, because of all the flowers and stuff like that there for them to visit.

But when I turned around to see what was zipping around my garden, I discovered that it was not the usual suspects. Instead, it was a hummingbird. A tiny, adorable, sweet little hummingbird. It was zooming around, checking out all the floral treats I’ve planted for it this year. And as soon as I spotted it, it just stopped right in front of me for a few seconds, just 3 or 4 feet away, and looked at me before it flew away.

Well, I was just thrilled. My mouth dropped open and I gasped. It was the first time I’d ever had a hummingbird so close to me. After it flew away, I thought to myself: “This is what it’s all about, the simple things. Life’s simple pleasures; that’s what makes me happy in life.” Yup, the simple things...that’s what it’s all about...

I really wish I’d had my camera with me when the little hummer was checking me out. But even if I’d had it with me, would I have had enough time to snap a photo? Probably not. By the time my camera would have loaded up, that little critter would’ve been long gone.

So instead of a picture of yesterday’s visitor, I’ll just share some photos of pretty flowers. Better than nothing, no?











Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pan-Fried Shrimp

I prefer shrimp on the BBQ, but when the weather isn’t very desirable, I find other ways to cook this seafood that the whole family loves. Here’s one recipe you might enjoy.


Ingredients:

1 lb. medium to large shrimp (I often use precooked)
4 - 6 garlic cloves, minced (depends how spicy you want it)
1 tbsp olive oil (I use canola)
½ tsp crushed pepper flakes (I usually add more to make it spicier)
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of cumin (optional)
Salt (optional; the other spices add enough flavour)


Preparation:

- Thaw the shrimp if frozen; shell and devein if not using precooked.

- Heat oil in medium heat and add garlic and spices, except for salt. Sauté for about two minutes; add shrimp.

- Season shrimp with salt (if using) and cook until shrimp is ready (takes just a few minutes, 2 – 4). Make sure not to overcook.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Flowers In The Garden

Although it’s been raining and gloomy for the past few days, I have appreciated that my garden has been getting watered without my help. It’s given me a chance to catch up on other chores around the house, which is great. But those chores have also kept me very busy, which isn’t so great because it hasn’t left me with much time to put together an interesting post. Can’t do much about that now. The day is almost over.

What I can do is share some photos of flowers growing in my garden. I figure you can never tire of pretty flowers. Can you? Of course you can’t.

Here they are...














I hope you’re all enjoying some pretty blooms in your own gardens!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dragonflies Are The Coolest Bugs

Last weekend, we took a drive over to Sandbanks Provincial Park; one of southern Ontario’s most delightful recreational spots located near Picton, Ontario. We walked along the beach and took some nice photographs.

On our way back to our car, my husband pointed out a couple of dragonflies sitting on the tips of a couple of car antennas. Lucky for me, these amazing critters stayed put long enough for me to photograph them.



Aren’t they incredible? I love dragonflies. They’re just so darn cool.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Photo Of Bailey

In a few days it’ll be one year since we brought Bailey home with us. I remember how excited my daughter was when we walked over to the pet store that day and she finally got her pet ferret, a pet that she’d been trying to convince me to allow her to have for the longest time. I have to admit that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the idea as she was that day, but one year later things are so much different. Not only have I become attached to this sweet and docile little fuzzy, but I’m already imagining how sad it will be when he’s no longer with us.

Look at this cute face:


How can you not adore him?

We do. We definitely do. And I hope that he’s with us for many more years.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today's Trivia - Chipmunks

Today it’s all about chipmunks; those small and lively critters that scurry around our gardens...

Here we go...

- Chipmunks are small members of the squirrel family.

- They live 2-3 years in the wild, and 5-8 years in captivity.

- The eastern chipmunk has two fewer grinding teeth than other chipmunks.

- Chipmunks take an average of 75 breaths a minute.

- A chipmunk can carry nine nuts at a time.

- The eastern chipmunk is larger than most of the western species.

- Chipmunks are solitary animals but they will socialize during the breeding season and while rearing young.


- Chipmunks eat insects, snails, nuts, berries, seeds, fruit and grain.

- Eastern chipmunks mate two times a year, during early spring and again during the summer or early fall.

- There is a 31-day gestation period and two to five young are born in April–May and again in August–October. The young are sexually mature within 1 year.

- The chipmunk is a ground dwelling mammal. It constructs burrows which can be up to 30 feet in length.

- Eastern chipmunks spend a lot of time gathering and storing food for the winter.

- A chipmunk’s predators include: foxes, weasels, badgers, bobcats and snakes.

- There are about 20 species of western chipmunks and one species of eastern chipmunk in USA and Canada.

- They can be found in woodlands, forest edges, bushes, gardens, parks, around houses or cemeteries.

- The largest chipmunk is the eastern chipmunk, which grows up to 11 inches and weighs as much as 4.4 ounces. The smallest chipmunk is the least chipmunk, which grows up to 8.5 inches and weighs up to 1.8 ounces.

- The home range of a chipmunk may be up to 1/2 acre (0.2 ha), but the adult only defends a territory about 50 feet (15.2 m) around the burrow entrance.

- Chipmunks are most active during the early morning and late afternoon.


- Although chipmunks hibernate, they do not store fat. Instead they slowly gnaw away at their summer bounty throughout the winter.

- Some chipmunks become active on warm, sunny days during the winter.

- Most chipmunks emerge from hibernation in early March.

- Depending on species, chipmunks can be gray to reddish-brown in color with contrasting dark and light stripes on the sides of their face and across their back and tail.

- Their shrill, repeated, birdlike chirp is usually made upon sensing a threat but is also thought to be used as a mating call by females.

- For the most part, chipmunks, although susceptible to forest fragmentation, are not currently threatened.

And...

...they are adorable!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunflowers On The Horizon

I’m excited to report that there are flower buds on my sunflowers! Finally... It’s just a matter of time now before I see some flowers on these giants. Look how big they are:


I grew these amazing plants from seeds that I planted in late June; they are now over five feet tall, some of them still growing. That’s me in the photo; I’m about 5’4”.


Hubby posing with the sunflowers; he’s about 5’10” tall.


The stem is as thick as the stem on a young tree:



And the leaves? Huge!


I can’t wait to see the flowers, size and all. It’s going to be quite a show! I’ll make sure to take lots of photos and share them with you.

Stay tuned for more...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BBQ Chicken Wings

One of my favourite ways to cook chicken wings is on the grill. Below is a terrific – quick and easy - BBQ recipe that I hope you enjoy as much as I do.


BBQ Chicken Wings

Ingredients
Serves 8

2 dozen chicken wings
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup mustard
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar

Directions

1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well blended.

2. Add chicken and mix until it is completely coated.

3. Preheat grill to medium and lightly oil grates.

4. Place chicken on grill and cook until done; about 20 minutes or so.

That’s it! Enjoy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Day At Canada's Wonderland

Last week, on Thursday, we spent the day at Canada’s Wonderland, a 330-acre theme park in Vaughan, Ontario, which is located within the Greater Toronto area, that features over 200 attractions.

One of the rides we all got on was this one:



It’s called the Psyclone; it goes back and forth as it spins and turns, eventually reaching heights of over 120 feet. It isn’t the most frightening ride, but it does wake you up.

And yes, we did ride ‘The Behemoth’, one of the newest and most exhilarating additions to the park. It’s the roller coaster of roller coasters, taking you up to 230 feet and then sending you speeding down at a 75 degree angle with speeds reaching 125 kilometers (78 miles) an hour! It has open air seating, so you don’t miss a thing, and the track length is 5,318 feet. You feel like it’ll never end. It was the most terrifying – and amazing – roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on.

Not sure I would do it again. You know, the heart can only handle so much...