Are you a risk taker?

It occurred to me this past weekend that I am a bit of a risk taker.  At least when we are talking recipes.  Oh, and anything related to gardens or flowers.

I very rarely follow written recipes completely, modifying them with favorite, gluten-free, or on-hand ingredients. For family dinners I usually try out at least one new recipe, and this past (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner was no exception.

I made the perennially favourite pumpkin pie as well as cherry and butter tarts, but instead of apple pie or crisp,  I tried a strawberry rhubarb crisp.  My brother had commented on Facebook a while back that he was craving strawberry rhubarb pie and no one would make one for him, so as he was hosting dinner this past Sunday I took the bait.  One of my clients donated the rhubarb and I had frozen strawberries on hand.  The recipe called for fresh strawberries, so I just let mine thaw on the counter before using them. I do believe the dessert was a favourite at the table; the bit that was left in the pan was scooped up by my nephew to take home for later.

 

Tired of the popular vegetable dishes this time of year too, I decided to try roasted zucchini as my vegetable contribution.  It too turned out delicious; I will definitely make it again.  I simply sliced 3 yellow and 3 green zucchini lengthwise into about 6 spears each (you could slice them into coins instead) placed them on a greased cookies sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with a parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano and dried basil mixture, and baked then broiled them to perfection.  Yummy!

 

pictures from Pixabay and Pexels (forgot to take some of my own)

 

Someone asked me after I volunteered to make my daughter-in-law’s wedding bouquets if I wasn’t nervous they wouldn’t turn out.  My new daughter-in-law is wonderfully laid back, so I knew if the bouquets weren’t exactly perfect, she would not stress over it, otherwise, I might have been more nervous and (probably) would not have offered my services.  All five were different and definitely unique creations…

 

I consider cooking or baking and gardening to be artistic adventures, and I think most will agree that artists of any kind have to take some risks to be unique.  I guess I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants (as I call it) or like to take (some) risks, but it is (almost) always worth it!

 

 

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Which plants you should prune back in the fall

 

For some reason, the fall season is when many gardeners get the itch to prune back plants in their gardens.  The guidelines are as follows, at least for our zone 4 to 5 gardens here in Ottawa, Ontario:

  • if a shrub blooms early (before June) wait until after flowering to prune.  Some examples of early bloomers that need that old wood to bloom on are lilacs, forsythia, bridal wreath spireas, sand cherries, weigela, ninebarks, rhododendrons, viburnum, cranberry bushes, flowering dogwoods and magnolias.
  • if the shrub blooms after June, it can be pruned back in the fall or in the early spring when new growth is visible.  Examples include Snowball and PeeGee Hydrangeas, spireas (except for bridal wreath), Butterfly bush, smoke tree, hibiscus (rose of Sharon), and red stemmed dogwoods.
  • woody shrubs like boxwoods, junipers and cedars can be trimmed back in the fall too, but also throughout the growing season (spring and summer)
  • some shrubs are best pruned while dormant (late fall to very early spring, late February to early March)  These include barberries, smoke bush, crepe myrtles, spireas (except bridal wreath variety), dogwoods, and cotoneasters.
  • to rejuvenate shrubs that flower poorly, are overgrown or straggly, cut them back to just above the first bud above the soil while the plant is still dormant.  Shrubs that do well with this drastic treatment include spireas, lilacs, ninebarks, forsythias, barberry, weigela, blue mist, forsythia, honeysuckle, and potentilla (cinquefoil).  You may sacrifice the flowers the first season after this rejuvenation, but the plant will be healthier.
  • deciduous (non-evergreen) trees are best pruned when dormant (late winter) as well.  It is much easier to see the structure of the tree before the leaves come out.  Winter pruning also prevents the formation of bacteria and disease in the cuts. The wounds will heal quickly as new growth starts shortly after pruning.
  • dead branches can be cut off any time in the season.
  • after the first frost, remove any leaves from roses and apply mulch to the crowns. This prevents the plants from heaving from the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. You can cut the longs stems of the most tender floribundas, hyrdrid teas and grandifloras back to 20 inches before winter too to prevent them from breaking off under a heavy snowfall.  Another tip for tender roses is to apply a collar around the bush and fill it (loosely) with leaves.  Wait to prune others back until daffodils start to bloom in the spring to ensure the ground temperature is sufficiently warm.  Dead or broken branches can be cut off in the fall or any other time of the season.  Suckers can also be removed in the fall, cutting them out as close to the base of the plant as possible.

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Perennials can be, but do not have to be, deadheaded (remove dead blossoms) and cut back in the fall.  Remove sturdy flower stalks (coneflowers etc) right back to the foliage at the base of the plant.  Some gardeners like to leave these stalks on the plants over the winter for birds and their snow-covered beauty.  On softer plants simply remove the browned and dead looking, limp or soggy foliage (daylilies, peonies, bleeding hearts etc) and cut back their stems to six or eight inches from the ground.  I like to do everything I can in the fall because spring seems to be so short lived these days and I run out of springtime hours in the gardens.  Whenever you clean up your gardens, remember to harvest the seeds for future (freebie) plants as I did for my cottage garden.

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pictures from Pexels and Pixabay

Happy Thanksgiving

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It is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  We celebrate the second Monday in October, while other countries celebrate in November.  I believe the reason for that is the fact that our winters arrive sooner here, so our harvests are earlier.   Afterall, Thanksgiving did originate as a celebration after harvest was complete.

Regardless of when you celebrate Thanksgiving, be sure to remember all the things you are grateful for.  This previous post listed the things I was grateful for two years ago.  All of these still apply, with the wonderful addition of my sons’ significant others and two (with a third one on the way) grandchildren.

With the arrival of grandchildren comes a new addition to my dining room furniture, just in time for Thanksgiving…

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October blooms

I love this fall (summer like) weather we are having here in Ottawa.  Many of the perennials in my own and my clients’ zone 4 to 5 gardens are still in bloom even though the calendar says October…

 

 

I cannot ever remember a clematis reblooming in October as this beautiful pale purple one has…

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Las Vegas tragedy makes gun control seem like a no brainer

I was going to write a post about this sickening tragedy in Las Vegas, but Jimmy Kimmel says it all right here…

well said Jimmy! I only hope the powers that be are motivated enough to do something about it.

Increased taxes for small business owners

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Our Canadian Liberal government wants to increase the income tax rate for small businesses.  As a small business owner, I cringe at the significance this has for me.

Like myself, many small business owners have risked starting a business based on a particular passion and taken many years to build a clientele and show a profit.  Tax breaks are few and far between making it possible to follow a dream and succeed, but rarely get rich.  Some years are good, others great, yet some not so good.  Proceeds from the good and great years must be used to subsidize the not so good years; you know the saying “save for a rainy day.”

 

Both owners and employees of small businesses are, for the most part, dedicated and passionate individuals that do not get benefits or pensions or severance packages if the business goes under.  The absence of these “perks” creates a great risk for both the owner and the employees.  All these new tax rules will do is squash the dream of entrepreneurs with a passion whether the business is already up and running or still in the planning stage.

Does the Liberal government really believe that increasing the income tax levels of small business owners will significantly build their coffers?  The money gained will be a drop in the bucket compared to the massive national debt owed. They might want to look elsewhere for bigger fish and leave us little guys alone.

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pictures from Pexels

Rooms with a view

As renovations continue at our family cottage, our front door and bedroom window have now been replaced with patio doors, creating rooms with a spectacular view of the lake..

 

 

We enlisted the help of two sons and a friend to remove the old door and window, create the necessary rough-ins and install the new doors…

 

 

The process of finding, ordering and getting patio doors delivered to the cottage was a frustrating experience.  In this age of online shopping, it was next to impossible to see the doors in real life before ordering.  Due to the possible extreme weather conditions at the cottage, we wanted something more durable than the base models available at local DIY stores like Home Depot or Lowes.  Stores that specialized in patio doors could not show us any doors and were very confusing on the details of what we were trying to order.  Thanks to the manager of the Lookout Home Hardware Building Center in Plevna we were able to order doors specific to our needs and even get them delivered to the cottage.

 

 

Now that that project is complete, we plan to replace the window to the left of the patio doors, add windows to the side of the cottage, and replace the door at the side as well as the window at the back with patio doors.

When the exterior is complete, including new siding, the interior renovations begin…stay tuned!