How not to plant shrubs

One of the garden projects I have been working on lately reminded me how not to plant shrubs. These shrubs were not planted deep enough so the root balls heaved out of the soil this past winter.  As a result, the row of shrubs were all dead, and very unsightly. When I dug them up (didn’t even require a shovel, they came out quite easily) the root balls were still in the shape of the pots.  So were the holes.

 

 

 

The correct way to plant a shrub (and most perennials and trees too) is to:

  • dig a hole twice as wide as the pot the shrub came in and the same depth
  • remove the shrub from the pot and loosen the root ball
  • if the shrub is very root bound, use a sharp knife or trowel to scarify (gently scrape/loosen) the roots
  • add water to the hole before and after planting the shrub
  • water daily until shrub is established, (one week) preferably in the morning
  • ensure plant crown is neither too deep or too far above ground.  Roses do prefer their crown just below soil level

 

 

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On being a Grandma, part three

A few months ago (four to be exact) I shared the joyous news that we had welcomed another grandchild into our family.  After spending a lovely Father’s Day dinner with my family tonight, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have my three precious grandchildren nearby.

#51 @ 3months

They are all growing up so fast!  This picture was taken a month ago already, on Mother’s Day, just as the gang was leaving our home, exhausted from their busy weekend.  That’s one happy Grandma!

It’s all about the (farmland) smell

Recently I drove through a portion of the eastern Ontario countryside from Ottawa to the Cornwall area. I purposely took the back roads to enjoy the beautiful greenery of the local farms along the way. As well as the scenery, believe it or not, I love the smell associated with the farmland. I attribute this to my heritage.

farmland
Beaudette family farmhouse

My maternal grandparents were farmers.  They are long gone from this world, but never from my memories.  The farmhouse they lived in has since been renovated and just a portion part of their land still worked by family members.  Down the road from the farmhouse is the cemetery where these grandparents, as well as both of my own parents, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins are buried.

The main purpose of this recent (road) trip down memory lane was to clean up the memorial garden in this cemetery.  It was overgrown with weeds and other invasive plants.  Thanks to the help of a friend, an aunt and a cousin, we managed to rid the garden of unwanted greenery.  With a few new perennials added as well as the soil and mulch replenished, it looks much better.  I wish I had thought to take a “before” picture;  this is the “after”…

farmland
Pleasant Valley Cemetery

In between the sweltering hot jobs of weeding and adding the new plants, soil and mulch I took a “cool off” break in the form of an opportunity to meet up with a childhood friend with whom I had recently reconnected with on Facebook.  Isn’t it amazing how you can catch up on 30+ years in an hour?

The scenery and yes, the smell of the farmland too, were added bonuses.

Spring beauties

Wandering through my gardens this past weekend, I found these spring beauties…

Spring is my favourite time of year.  It has arrived a bit late here in Ottawa this year, but has finally arrived. You can see the exciting changes in the gardens daily as the bulbs burst into bloom and the perennials poke through the soil.

 

What’s with Carrie Underwood?

Is anyone else tired of hearing Carrie Underwood apologizing for “not looking the same?”  Her accident (falling off a step breaking her wrist and cutting up her face) sounds horrible, but is it just me or is she putting far too much emphasis on what her face looks like? She was quick to post a picture of an xray of her wrist, but her face was not even mentioned until weeks later.

I understand that her looks are an important part of her career, but does she really believe that her fans will think less of her if her face is not perfect?  Refusing to post pictures of her face throughout the whole healing process, she has just returned to the camera.  She looks exactly the same to me.  In my opinion, this whole incident makes her look ridiculously insecure and vain, nothing to do with any (invisible) scars on her face.

Sad, sad, sad that someone so talented feels this way.  I guess she didn’t read my last post about real beauty!

Carrie Underwood

 

That’s what makes you beautiful

What makes someone beautiful?  In the modelling world, beauty means perfect facial features and a tall, lean body.  By perfect, they mean a perfectly symmetrical face.  The eyes cannot be too close together or too wide apart, the mouth cannot be too big or too small, the eyebrows have to be just so.  And don’t forget the nose; a big or crooked nose is just not acceptable.

This reminds me of the old Jennifer Aniston vs Angelina Jolie debate.  Which one is more beautiful?  If you asked Ms. Aniston, she would probably say Ms. Jolie is.  Technically, according to the criteria above, Angelina is probably more beautiful.  On the outside.  What the Jennifer fans know though is that external beauty is not always the most attractive quality one can possess.

In my opinion, beauty lies within regardless of what the outside looks like.  Beauty is not just skin deep.  I remember my mother offering the advice “looks will only get you the first five minutes, after that you’re on your own.”  At the time I was a teenager, getting ready for a dance, so that advice fell on deaf ears.  It did sink in eventually though.

Those who spend all their time preening for a camera and need constant reassurance of how beautiful they are appear too shallow for my liking and are not so beautiful.  The song “You don’t know you’re beautiful” followed by “That’s what makes you beautiful!” by One Direction proves I’m not the only one that thinks so.

beautiful

Why do eggs bother my stomach sometimes but not all the time?

eggs

In addition to wheat, asparagus and cream (high fat), eggs bother my stomach, suggesting I am intolerant of them.  But only sometimes.  I have tried to figure out if it is the way they are cooked (over easy, omelets, scrambled etc), or what they are cooked in (butter, olive oil etc) but have not come up with a definitive answer.  Because I am intolerant of wheat, I have even wondered if I am reacting to eggs from grain fed chickens.

I have done some research to see if I could find the answer; here are a few suggestions I came across:

  • don’t eat eggs on an empty stomach
  • eat other things with the eggs like toast, home fries etc
  • cook them well (over easy used to be my favourite)
  • drink something carbonated with them
  • don’t cook them in butter

I have not tried the carbonated trick yet, but carbonation is not my friend either so I probably won’t.  My last attempt at consuming eggs was in an omelette, with just a bit of olive oil to coat the pan, but a few hours later the omelette went right through me with accompanying stomach cramps and diarrhea.

I ate it by itself though, with no toast on the side, and on an empty stomach, so I may have my answer.

Anyone else have this problem?

food-breakfast-egg-milk

 

What is a Paleo diet and how it can help you

Paleo diet

Many specific diets have come and gone in popularity over the years.  We have had the Atkins, Nutrisystem, Bernstein, Zone, Weight Watchers, Mediterranean, South Beach, Raw Foods diets and more.  Some are long gone, others still around.  The Paleo diet, short for Paleolithic, (think cave man era) is based on what our ancestors supposedly foraged for and lived on centuries ago.  I say supposedly because which one of us was around to confirm the info?

It is not that difficult to realize that all the additives, preservatives and other highly processed and or hydrogenated ingredients were not around back then.  The Paleo diet urges people to eliminate such items from their meal plans.  That includes salt sugar and artificial sweeteners, iodized (table) salt,  omega six oils (unrefined, organic coconut, olive, flaxseed, and avocado are allowed because they are omega 3s), dairy (except butter and ghee which are allowed.)

Beans and legumes (with the exception of green beans and snow peas) are not allowed on a Paleo diet either because they are (for most people) hard to digest.  The same applies to starchy vegetables like white potatoes (sweet ones are allowed in moderation) corn and squash, as well as all (even gluten-free) grains. Grains are taboo because of the lectins they contain that trigger allergic and autoimmune responses as well as leaky gut syndrome.

Paleo diet

Meats allowed on the Paleo diet are grass fed, pasture raised and organic. Fish choices should be wild or farmed under responsible conditions.  Eggs should be free range. Most nuts (except peanuts because they are legumes not nuts) and seeds are allowed too.

This diet is supposed to prevent and eliminate immune responses and many disease states, including cancer.  I must admit, other than eliminating dairy (cheese is a personal weakness) beans and gluten free grains like brown rice and quinoa (actually not a grain, but included in that category) my current choice of diet follows these Paleo choices very closely.  These choices came from figuring out (over many years) what works (and doesn’t work) for my body.  Go figure, here I thought I was unique!

 

Hearty and healthy home made soup recipes

I would love to share my recipes for home made soup.  If I had any.  I used to make soup for my mother in law years ago.  Her only complaint was that I could never produce a recipe for the different varieties. I was just reminded of this dilemma when my daughter in law asked for the recipe for my last batch of home made soup.

Since I was diagnosed with a sensitivity to wheat, I put much more emphasis on ensuring the ingredients I use for my soups (and any other cooking and baking) are completely natural and healthy.  No preservatives or artificial ingredients are allowed in these recipes. This is also particularly important if you are sharing your soup with friends or family undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Most of my soups are meat based, but you could make them to your specific dietary needs or preferences.  Here are a few tips.

  • store large bones from chicken and turkey dinners in ziplock bag in your freezer
  • also store pan drippings and liquid from vegetables in the freezer.  I use a plastic bucket for this purpose and just keep adding to the contents. Don’t be afraid to mix the different meats and vegetables , the mixture adds unique flavor to your soups. As soon as your contributions cool off, the fat will rise to the top and create a layer.  You should scrape of this layer (it comes off easily) before you add another one.
  • On soup making day, place the bones in a large pot, fill the pot with water and simmer for several hours.
  • Add garlic cloves, a chuck of ginger root and or turmeric (the stuff curry powder comes from), bay leaves or any other seasonings large enough to remove easily.  You can use powdered forms at a later stage if you don’t have the fresh stuff handy.  I have also added broccoli stalks (frozen, stored in freezer like the broths) at this stage.
  • After a few hours, remove the bones and seasonings, set aside to cool.
  • Next add frozen chunks of broth you have stored in the freezer.  You now have your base.
  • When your bones have cooled, pick off any meat from them and add them to the pot. Crush any softened garlic, ginger, adding to the pot.  Discard bay leaves if used. Puree  or chop broccoli stalks if used.  If you are using powdered spices like ginger, garlic, curry powder etc, add it now.
  • This is the time to add rice, quinoa or barley for added nutrients and chunkiness.
  • Add vegetables and or legumes.  Cherry or grape tomatoes, beans, frozen corn are my favourites.  When using beans, I do use canned, but the “no salt added” kind.  I rinse them really well before adding to the soup.
  • If you prefer creamy as opposed to chunky soups, you could puree everything at this stage.
  • Add salt (I use pink Himalayan) and or pepper to taste.
  • Add milk (I use almond milk) if your soup is too chunky or thick.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your variations. I prefer the hearty, chunky varieties with lots of ingredients, but others prefer simple broths.  I also like lots of garlic and ginger, but reduced these ingredients in my last batch so I could share some with my breastfeeding daughter in law.

If you like to record your recipes (and you might if you share your concoctions) write down what you have added.  For some reason, I never think to do so.

Why the tragedy in Humboldt Saskatchewan has rocked Canadians

Humboldt Broncos

The tragedy in Saskatchewan involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team has rocked Canadians this week. Regardless of whether you are a fan of hockey, this story cannot help but move you. The accident between a bus loaded with young hockey players and a truck loaded with peat moss was a hockey parent’s worst nightmare. The parents, families and friends of the 15 victims of the accident are all currently living that nightmare. The rest of us can only shudder in horror imagining how unbelievably awful this past week must have (and continues to be) been for them.

Whether you live in a large city or a small town in Canada, hockey cannot help but touch your life. After all, hockey is Canada’s sport. Whether you play, watch, or coach hockey, serve as team trainer or manager, your involvement in hockey means you love the sport and cannot help but get emotionally involved with your team.

The hockey community is very tight across Canada.  Whether we know them personally or not, we all cheer for and keep track of our hometown kids as they grow up and follow their dream to play in the big league.  We celebrate and share their victories and achievements.  This week we mourn the loss of these talented, hard working, ambitious, young athletes and the adults with them as the Humboldt Broncos team travelled together on their final hockey road trip.

As the country watches, listens and mourns, Canadians and others around the world have stepped up to show their support for the Humboldt Broncos team.  A Go Fund Me account has raised over 9 million dollars to date to help the families of the victims.  Professional hockey teams and players have offered their condolences. Families are leaving hockey sticks and lights on at their front doors.  Students and parents alike are wearing jerseys to school and work.

Humboldt Broncos
Nokia Kanata on Jersey Day

 

As difficult as this tragedy has been to watch unfold, the heartfelt response has made me (even more) proud to be Canadian!