Looking in…

*sigh* I swore I was going to blog more often, and then depression set in a bit more deeply. Binge eating followed, and a lot of knitting, and there we are. I’m heading off to Rhinebeck, NY for the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival on Friday, so I figured I’d pop my head in really quickly to say hello and update you all on some knitting content. I finished the college dorm blanket of doom, and on Monday evening, it made its way across several states – one step closer to actually being used! I also knit my dad a pair of socks, which I didn’t even manage to snag a picture of. Let me tell you why my dad will always deserve new socks:

One Sunday a few weeks ago, I finally had the finished socks with me when I went to my parents’ house for dinner. I tossed the balled-up socks at my dad. He immediately plonked himself down on the couch, took off his store-bought socks and pulled on the hand-knit ones, got up, and walked off, calling “Thank you!” as he left. Yeah. Dad will keep getting new socks :)

I also did a test-knit for a friend of mine. I met Emily when she worked at Knit Knackers Yarn Warehouse here in Ottawa. When the store moved to Smiths Falls, Em stayed here! She designs knitwear and is pretty all-around fabulous. She’s also a big Doctor Who fan. This new pattern? It’s called the Tardis Toque. It’s not available for purchase just yet, but will be soon (the link is to her project page). Here’s the one I knit (featuring the lovely Julianna – an ex co-worker and friend of Emily’s):

Knit on 3.75mm needles out of Cascade 220 in shades 814 and 817.

Knit on 3.75mm needles out of Cascade 220 in shades 814 and 817.

Over on the Two Tangled Skeins board, we’ve been having a knit-along for the Cool Clavicle Cover (by Megan Williams of Stockinette Zombies fame) and the Tan House Brook Shawl by Jennifer Lassonde. I finished my Cool Clavicle Cover a couple of weeks ago…

Knit on 5mm (US8) needles from Bittersweet Woolery's Guilty Pleasures sock base in the Pressed Petals colourway.

Knit on 5mm (US8) needles from Bittersweet Woolery’s Guilty Pleasures sock base in the Pressed Petals colourway.

And I’m currently working on the Tan House Brook Shawl (sorry, the only picture I have is a week old, and doesn’t show the MASSIVE progress I’ve made since!)

Knit on 4.5mm (US 7) needles out of Julianna's Fiber Lucid Dreams sock base in the Harvest colourway.

Knit on 4.5mm (US 7) needles out of Julianna’s Fiber Lucid Dreams sock base in the Harvest colourway.

I also located the Flax sweater, so that’s back in the rotation. A marketing company sent us some lovely Bijou Basin Ranch yarn (mine was the Lhasa Wilderness, which is a Yak/Bamboo blend, in the Skye colourway), so I found this fantastic pattern to knit up with it (Etoile Hat by Linda Irving-Bell). The hat took me all of four days to knit, and although I made it for my daughter (Skye), she decided she wanted the finished Tardis Toque, so off the Etoile went to my mom, who loves it! Sadly, I do not have a completed picture of the hat, only an in-progress picture:

Knit on 3.5mm (US4) needles out of Bijou Basin Ranch's Lhasa Wilderness in the Skye (#52) colourway.

Knit on 3.5mm (US4) needles out of Bijou Basin Ranch’s Lhasa Wilderness in the Skye (#52) colourway.

I’ve also re-started a linen stitch scarf out of scraps from other projects, I’ve been diligently working away at my non-stuffed Hexipuffs for the Beekeeper’s Quilt, and I cast on the Child’s Provence Cabled Pullover by Classic Elite Yarns out of Berroco Comfort DK solids in a faded denim blue. I don’t have any progress shots of that one, since I’ve only got about an inch on the needles :)

My goals at Rhinebeck are to find a wall-hung cable needle organizer, perhaps a woven basket to keep current projects in, maybe a Woolee Winder, yarn to make myself a Taliesin sweater (by Leeana Gardner) and some Bittersweet Woolery yarn (duh…) There are four of us going this time, and we rented the same cabin Rob and I stayed at with the kids last summer. I am very excited about it and can’t wait to leave :)

Sorry it’s been so long. The fog has been lifting slightly of late. Rob and I spent the entire long weekend reorganizing my bedroom, moving furniture, and sorting things out to make my bedroom the perfect little oasis, but I’ll share the details of that in a future post :) Thank goodness no “before” pictures exist!

Oh well….

I did promise I would tell you all about the super wonderful fantastic exciting thing that was happening. Except now it’s not happening, and that sucks.

I was trying to buy a house. Went to the bank, applied for a mortgage, the loan officer told me I was good to go. So I found a house, went to see it, confirmed with the bank that I was indeed good to go (I was told the proof of financing documents would be sent to me the next day), and I placed an offer. I was so damned excited, and the kids were psyched, and things were moving right along.

And then on Friday, late in the afternoon, the loan officer called me from the bank and said, “Sorry, no dice.” Um… what? I’ve placed an OFFER. I’ve got an INSPECTION scheduled. What do you mean, no dice??? Apparently, she had jumped the gun in telling me I was good to go, and I wasn’t good to go at all. Nowhere near good enough to go. I messaged a friend who happens to be a mortgage broker, and in about 20 minutes, he determined something the loan officer should have noticed straight off, before even submitting the application for the mortgage. I don’t have any established credit. No credit cards, no loans. I don’t owe anybody money, and I pay cash for whatever I buy. Apparently that’s a bad thing, but what can I do now other than retract my offer on the house and cancel the inspection?

So now we’re back to square one. I’ll be going back to my REGULAR bank. I had gone with a different bank because my office does business with them, and I’d developed a rapport with the loan officer from seeing her so often due to office banking. I’ve made an appointment with my regular bank to look into establishing credit and getting a bit of direction on what needs to happen if I want to try again in a year or two.

So it’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for the last three weeks. SUPER excited about the first house, then horribly disappointed when that one turned out to be a dud (Gorgeous, but VERY OLD house that needed a LOT of TLC and was VERY far away). Super excited when the bank said I was okay and I found the second house. Crushing disappointment when the bank said they wouldn’t loan me the money. A bit of a ray of hope with the mortgage broker, but not too much. Slight disappointment when that didn’t pan out. And now I’ve just been wandering around in a fog for the last couple of days, not sleeping, eating too much, and on the edge of tears pretty much constantly.

I need to get out of this funk, go back to the gym and start moving again. I feel like my life kind of crumbled there for a while, but now I’ve got to start putting things back in order and get back to being an adult. The worst part, I think, was how disappointed the kids were when they found out we weren’t getting the house after all. They hadn’t even SEEN the house yet (well, only in pictures online), but they were so excited at getting our own little patch of dirt that I really felt like I failed them when the bank called. But, we’ve lived in our apartment for ten years now, and I’m sure we’ll all survive living in it for a couple more years. And in the meantime, we can put ourselves on more solid footing so we don’t get tossed overboard the next time we decide to venture out into the scary world of real estate.

Make me feel better. Tell me your real estate horror stories!

RAK – what does it mean?

The super-fantastic-exciting-wonderful news I’ve been waiting to share with all of you? Well, I can’t QUITE share it yet, but I will be able to VERY VERY SOON.

In other news, my daughter was meant to have her first day of Junior High today. That all got cancelled when some idiot shot a couple of people and barricaded himself inside his apartment less than a block from the school. *sigh*

What the hell is going on in the world right now? THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR, PEOPLE. This is not how a decent society operates. People don’t go around shooting each other. Watching the news has become way too depressing. Race riots in the US??? What the hell? Students invent nail polish that can detect date rape drugs??? Bombing and fighting is STILL going on in at least eight different places around the world???

I can’t tell you all how it discourages me. ANY time our local classic rock station posts something on their Facebook page that involves language, discrimination, or any kind of controversy, it gets really, really ugly. People will say that francophones should go back to Quebec (I come from a francophone family that settled in Ontario in the 1700s and has been there ever since – why should I be lumped into a province my family isn’t even from??) and call all French people ignorant. I hear similar comments from francophones in Quebec about anglos. It’s all xenophobic bullshit, and I’m tired of it.

I don’t care who you are or what your beliefs say. Just be freaking decent to each other. Is that so hard? Open a door for someone. Smile at the person next to you. Ask people if they’re okay. Introduce yourself to your neighbor. The world is becoming a very scary place. A sense of entitlement and anonymity has made being rude, hurtful or just plain mean more acceptable. That needs to stop. Imagine how awesome the world would be to live in if we all looked out for each other and genuinely cared about the people around us? Not just the people who are in your family or circle of friends, but EVERYBODY.

So the title. RAK – What does it mean? Well, RAK stands for Random Acts of Kindness. This is a practice everyone should learn. Just randomly do nice things for people. Mow the lawn or shovel the walk for someone who lives alone. Bring a few cookies to a neighbor when you’ve been baking. Open a door for someone or give up your seat on the bus. Let the guy who’s been waiting to get out of the gas station on a busy road for five minutes go ahead of you. Just smile at someone as you pass them on the sidewalk. It doesn’t take much, and it’s not hard. And the rewards? They’re infinite! If we all start doing this, EVERYONE benefits.

Please help restore my faith in humanity and tell me about a random act of kindness you have witnessed recently :) And I promise I will share my OH-SO-AMAZING news soon :)

Missing in action…

I know I haven’t had much to say recently, but there’s a reason for it! There’s something pretty freaking huge and super, SUPER secret going on with me right now (HELL NO, I am not pregnant). I am very much looking forward to being able to tell everybody about it, but that time has not come quite yet. I’m hoping it will come very shortly!

I’m DYING to tell you all (well, show you, actually)…. please bear with me! Very soon, you will all know what the excitement and secrecy is about (I hope)!


Grey day…

I’ve been meaning to blog all week, and I’m only now getting around to it (notice a trend?). It’s grey and ugly and depressing outside. Normally, this is my weather, but this week it’s just been making me tired and bummed.


I’m sitting here at my desk looking at the gorgeous roses Rob sent me for our anniversary (4 years last Sunday!!!). A stranger parked at the bottom of my parents’ driveway while we were getting dinner together. We thought it was a salesman or something, so we gleefully started plotting over who would deal with him. I was chasing my niece into another room when my mom called out and said, “It’s for you!” I thought I’d been elected to send the water heater salesman packing, but it was a delivery! A beautiful vase with four red roses (our tradition – one for each year)! I’m really spoiled!


I’m also sitting here wincing in pain from my many, many muscle aches. And I’m proud of them! I haven’t taken any painkillers yet because I EARNED this pain, dammit! I have been going to the gym for the last 10 days or so – not every day, obviously, but on days when I can’t get to the gym, I’ve been walking or doing other exercise at home. Right now, I am sore because I upped my weight on a few machines yesterday, and spent longer on the bike than I’ve been able to for a while, and I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished! I had a reasonable dinner last night – salmon with sauteed onions and zucchini – and so far I’m on day 16 of the Whole 30, and haven’t cheated once! (well, okay, I had to use evaporated milk in my curry one night because my can of coconut milk mysteriously vanished). Fourteen days to go, and I feel pretty good :)

Right now, though, I’d happily go for a nap…

Raspberry picking

I was in despair when I got home from Chicago that I had missed the last of the raspberries, because the PYO place I drive by on the way to my parents’ house was closed last weekend. Oh foolish woman! My parents were in Edmonton this past weekend for a family wedding, so not having any clue what to do with my recalcitrant teenagers, I figured I’d drive out to the fruit farm and try my luck. The one we frequent is the Orleans Fruit Farm – what started out as a tiny little farm stand has become a pretty major operation in my parents’ town.


We were in luck! Not only was the PYO open, but oh my, the raspberries! Of course, I left my phone in the car, so I couldn’t even snap a bad picture, but believe me when I say there were so many raspberries, the branches were weighed down. I left my oldest at home and only brought my daughter with me (she’s a bit more of a joiner when I have impromptu plans). We picked three baskets of the most juicy and delicious berries – it has been YEARS since I’ve been able to get my hands on raspberries other than the little overpriced tubs at the grocery store. Fresh-picked berries are always better. We also sweated like pigs and got eaten alive by mosquitoes – although the bugs only came out during the last ten-fifteen minutes we were out there. But HOT… I sweated in places where I didn’t know sweat glands existed! But we had a lot of fun :)

I figured we’d visit the produce store in the hopes of procuring some peaches so I could experiment a bit. That was a tiny bit of a mistake… I came home with apricots, yellow plums, peaches, pomegranates… I had to forbid myself from going farther into the store! I’ve been chopping and peeling and cutting and freezing. And I’m looking forward to slightly cooler weather so I can begin USING all this fantastic produce I’m putting away. I think I got into canning fever a bit late this summer due to the accidentally-unplugged freezer fiasco this spring. But it’s here now, and I can’t wait to get started! I made a conscious decision not to make cucumber pickles this year – I’m still trying to find a recipe I really like, and I just don’t have the time, energy or patience to get it done right now.

Sue and I are progressing apace on our French Cancan shawls… we had reached the same spot on Saturday, and sat down to do one pattern repeat on the border together. Then Sue went camping and got confused, and ripped out the whole border :( So her Cancan will wait until she’s back in town, and mine will progress slowly – I’m only about 6 pattern repeats in (out of about 40?). I’ve made some progress on my dad’s sock, but it’s a boring sock, so there’s nothing exciting to report there.

The Whole-30 is going well. I accidentally got a Caesar salad last night instead of a garden salad, and had to pick out the croutons and cheese before I could eat it LOL I would cut someone for a doughnut or a pizza bun or some ice cream! But I know it’s just because I’ve told myself I’m not allowed. I’m on day six right now, and doing pretty well – the kids were impressed with our Whole 30 dinner. A head of cauliflower, two onions and some chicken cooked in pasta sauce with hot sauce added in (and some cumin-mint seasoning). It was pretty damned delicious, if I do say so myself! Well, I’m going to go enjoy my lovely grapefruit sodastream and wind down for bed! I went to the gym tonight, and I imagine I will be quite sore tomorrow!!!


Chugging right along on the Whole 30, and I goofed. I have a major sweet tooth, and I figured, hey, dates are fruit, right? (Yeah… they’re also LOADED with natural sugar). So here I was, chowing down on my dates, when the horrible thought struck me that they probably weren’t allowed. So I checked with my Whole 30 posse on Ravelry, and sure enough, if you struggle with sugar addiction, they’re to be avoided. *sigh* Guess my mom’s getting a present this weekend. (She loves dates!) I had some truly awful store-bought guacamole yesterday, so I’ve pretty much determined that whatever I can make myself has to be better. Especially since I like spicy guac and this stuff was really oily and bland. Unnaturally oily. Even though there was no oil in the ingredients list. I am skeptical.

A weird bug passed through our house this week. I think my daughter picked it up at camp. It started with her having a headache, dizziness and and upset stomach on Tuesday. By Tuesday evening, my son had a headache and he was sick as a dog on Wednesday. Last night, I had a headache and basically passed out on the couch as soon as the kids were in bed. So there hasn’t been a whole lot of exercise going on. So as soon as I was feeling better (woke up with a headache today, but it was mostly gone by lunch), I picked my youngest up from camp and we took a 2-mile walk together in Little Italy!

I’ve been working on my French Cancan like a fiend, trying to get it to the border portion before Saturday. My friend Sue is also knitting one, and she’s been having a bit of trouble getting the border started, so my thought was that if we were both at the same point, we could start it together, and we could see where she’s going wrong – I went wrong SO MANY TIMES the first time I knit it, and then it just clicked. I’m hoping I can help her out, because I think everybody needs to knit at least a dozen of these things! (Right, Krystal? Krystal knit four of these WITHIN two months for her bridesmaids just before her wedding – then cast on another!) I haven’t dared touch anything else because I need to haul ass on the shawl :)

My friend Elizabeth has started a blog over here. Go say hi! (tell her I sent you!) She’s a much better writer than I am, and definitely a better photographer! And yes, this is the Elizabeth who has traveled to Maryland with us!

In canning news, I hope to be able to procure some Pomona’s and some raspberries from the Parkdale Market tomorrow! (the Pomona’s comes from a store, obviously, not the market). I’m lucky enough to work only four short blocks away, so I’ll walk over on my lunch break! Have a great weekend!


A little bit about Whole 30…

Someone on a Ravelry group I frequent issued a challenge for folks to join her in a Whole 30, and I excitedly agreed! A Whole 30 is a 30-day period where you do away with all dairy, grains and legumes and eat whole foods for the duration. Meat, fish and seafood are allowed, tofu and soy products are not. Coconut milk is permitted, cow’s milk is not. No butter, but ghee is okay (clarified butter, for the uninitiated, used extensively in Asian cooking).

I’ve been having a bit more trouble with some food intolerance issues recently, and decided this would be a good way to isolate some of the things that were giving me indigestion. I know dairy is a big one for me, because while it gives me intestinal cramps, the discomfort has not been enough to make me stop eating it. But last week, I had several days of very intense joint and bone pain after consuming heroic quantities of dairy, and I started to wonder. It’s possible that it was just a bad arthritis day, but the pain struck very suddenly, and at the same time both days (about 2 hours after I’d consumed a lot of dairy for dinner). I know it all sounds very woo-woo, and my ex-husband is laughing at me, but I firmly believe that we can do ourselves harm or good with what we eat, and I’m willing to give this a try :)

Did my shopping today – some chicken breasts (bone-in and with the skin – I skinned and deboned them all tonight and portioned them out into ziploc baggies); cherries – meant to pit and freeze them (I’ve discovered a new love of frozen fruits as a snack – especially cherries and grapes!) but I couldn’t find my cherry pitter. That will be done tomorrow. Lots of fresh veggies – mushrooms (want to try making these Roasted Mushrooms), celery, Lebanese cucumbers, some lovely nectarines, one of the most beautiful cauliflowers I’ve ever seen, a bag of onoios, some sweet potatoes, etc. I am so psyched about this! Also a bit terrified.

In knitting news, I’ve been steadily working on my 2nd French Cancan, and I’m down to the heel flap on my dad’s first sock. I also picked up the 41 blanket again – Rob’s cousin sprogged last week (unexpectedly for us, since she wasn’t talking about it much on FB), and I’d like to get it out to her!

I’ll be keeping everyone apprised of progress with the Whole 30, and sharing a few recipe links here and there :) Right now, I need to go rescue my son’s cat from his bedroom before she pulls his door apart.

Here’s what happened…


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It’s all Sue’s fault. No, really! It’s her fault that instead of working diligently on Zachary’s Flax sweater or his Totoro, I suffered a slight bout of startitis and cast on a new French Cancan.

IMG_20140711_113013137_HDREntirely her fault. Here I was, trying to be responsible and knit stuff I had committed to, and she just kept talking about her French Cancan, and finally I couldn’t take it any more. I searched my stash for some DK and found some lovely Freedom Spirit by Twilleys of Stamford that I bought years ago at Knit Knackers (when they were still on James Street in Ottawa!). It has sadly been discontinued, as has most of the yarn in my stash. It seems to be a trend. Granted, I did buy a lot of my early yarn from the “fun bin”… that was the odd balls bin where they put stuff they were trying to get rid of at discounted prices. So much Rozetti and Twilleys and Katia and other things we just can’t get anymore. *sigh* Twilleys still exists, as do other forms of Freedom, but the Freedom Spirit is no more. It’s quite a heavy DK… I’d almost be tempted to call it worsted. And it’s scratchy yarn (for felting) so we’ll see how it works out. You’ll have to excuse the photo quality, I was using my phone!

I also cast on another boring pair of socks for my dad. He loves the ones I made him last year, and I was able to get some more Bernat Sox on Ebay – another sadly discontinued 100% acrylic sock yarn – it’s actually more of a sport weight, I have to use size 3 needles (3.25mm) to knit the socks. He’s hard on socks, and they have to be very loose and stretchy for him, so I prefer to knit them out of acrylic, and that way my mom can toss them in the washing machine whenever she needs to. There’s also less concern about darning them because the acrylic wears like STEEL WOOL. It’s soft and warm though, and I highly recommend it if you can get your hands on some. I don’t have a picture of the boring socks, because they’re still in my suitcase from the trip to Chicago (I swear, I will empty that suitcase out this weekend!).

Stitches Midwest is coming up, and I’m still not sure if I’ll be attending. I haven’t looked at the Market sessions yet. There were no full-length classes that called my name. The one I was interested in (Beyond Basic Crochet) filled up fast and is no longer available. I’ll keep poking around the website until Sue and I decide what we’re doing. I had to drop out of the Tour de Fleece this year, because I spent the first two days in and driving home from Chicago, and then spent the next three days in excruciating leg pain. Way too much pain to consider pulling out the spinning wheel. It occurred to me later (yesterday) that perhaps the increase in joint pain was due to the rather ridiculous amount of dairy I’d been consuming. I’ve always been somewhat lactose intolerant, but could eat yogurt and most cheeses. Well, I spent Monday and Tuesday eating yogurt for dinner (that lovely thick Liberte stuff with the flavoring in the bottom – YUM). And that likely wasn’t a good plan. So we’re going to cut back the dairy for a while and see if that helps any. Last night, my daughter and I walked around Lac Leamy – it’s not as big as Lake Andrea (2.3 miles vs 1.55 miles for Lac Leamy), but it was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed the walk. I’m still not at the point where I can handle the walk around Pink Lake, because that trail is through cliffs and hills and is mostly stairs (it’s also over 3 miles long).

Bit of a non-sequitur, but Rob has been collecting photos of company logos that incorporate the maple leaf (he claims we’re obsessed!). McDonald’s has them, as do several other stores. I was following a large truck the other day when I saw this:


Don’t worry, we were stopped at a red light in a traffic jam when I took this :) If you look closely, you’ll see that there are little maple leaves in the center of each of the side stars. I guess maybe we are obsessed? All I know is that it always gives me a little thrill when I’m driving home and start seeing Canadian flags on the road instead of American ones. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing nothing but the US flag everywhere – if I ever move down there, I’ll have to bring a Canadian flag with me!


Slowly but surely…


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Oh how frustrating… I had written about 2/3 of my post when I tried to insert a photo and WordPress locked up, making me have to close my browser, losing everything! Argh. Let’s try this again, without the oops.

Things got a bit out of hand before the trip to Chicago. I haven’t written anything in a while, because I was swamped. Such is my life, what else is new? But now that university is done for the summer, and college will be finishing on Saturday (YAY!), I should have more time on my hands. Time to organize, time to clean, time to knit, time to spin, time to cook, time to consider, time to connect, time to share, time to stop, and time to breathe. I’m looking forward to just being able to sit back and enjoy, or get my hands dirty, or whatever we feel like doing!

On June 27th, the kids and I packed up the car and headed for Chicago. We had a fantastic time! We went to the zoo, we swam (they swam), we cooked (I cooked), we rode trains, we rode bikes, we walked, we saw family and friends, we missed others (sorry!), we got to attend a lovely service at Rob’s mom’s temple (BJBE in Deerfield, IL), we shopped, we laughed and we enjoyed each others’ company immensely. My daughter proved herself to be fearless, and my son proved to be adept at juggling. Rob’s freezer is now full to bursting with chili, spaghetti sauce, seafood rosee sauce and lasagna. His cupboard is packed with cherry jam. This makes him happy, because it makes cooking real food easier and makes eating healthier a bit more likely. We came home with tans and mosquito bites and clothes for the school year. We were miraculously spared from any of the tornadoes that visited both homes (Rob’s and ours). The only sour spot to the trip was the little bit of heartbreak that always comes with saying goodbye and heading home. It gets harder and harder as time goes by, but we look forward to a day when we won’t have to anymore.

I did get some knitting done as well. The French Cancan shawl by Mademoiselle C is finished! Well, the ends are woven in. It hasn’t been blocked yet. I made it in time for the Summer Shawl KAL/CAL we had going on at Two Tangled Skeins! I’m so psyched with this pattern – I love it! I can see now how my friend Krystal has managed to knit five of these. It’s addictive! Once you get out of the garter-stitch hell portion, anyway. Two of my friends have had babies since I last wrote, so now I need to get moving on the baby blanket front. I also need to produce a few sweaters for babies I missed!


Before I left for Chicago, I managed to finish the “54” hat by Julie Mellor that had been on my needles since just before Stitches Midwest last year. I kind of misplaced the hat for a while, and recently found it, so it got finished too. The trick now is going to be if I can pick up Zachary’s Flax sweater by Tincan Knits without having to rip back to figure out where I am!


Just before I left, I visited the Orleans Fruit Farm and picked up four gallon baskets of strawberries! I knew I wasn’t going to have time to make that much jam, so we headed to my mom’s house with some large Ziploc freezer bags in hand, and processed them all. With the bounty from my mom’s rhubarb patch, we managed to prepare enough fruit for three batches of strawberry-rhubarb jam and four batches of whatever other strawberry jam catches my fancy – I want to make at least one batch of strawberry balsamic jam, and we found a little shop in Kenosha called Elsie Mae’s Canning and Pies that had strawberry mojito jam! I want to try my hand at that one too. That means I have seven bags of prepped strawberries in my freezer, ready to go now that I’m home and have a bit more time. I did miss out on getting any Pomona’s pectin while I was stateside, but I’m still hoping I can get my hands on some at home. (AND BONUS! I just found out that Herb and Spice, a local health food store, carries it! Ottawa canning friends, take note!)

This weekend’s plan is to go raspberry picking at the fruit farm, if they’re out yet. I’ve always wanted to take my kids berry-picking, and never done it. My fondest memories as a child involved trekking into the woods at the farm to pick raspberries, choke cherries, currants, blackberries and blueberries! We did find a small patch of wild raspberries while walking around Lake Andrea last week, but we only grabbed a couple, since they weren’t quite ripe and we wanted to leave some for other walkers.

One of our outings early in the trip was to the Milwaukee County Zoo. I’m always torn when I visit a zoo. On the one hand, I love seeing the animals up close, and photographing them. The Milwaukee zoo has the added advantage that they have a narrow-gauge railroad that goes in a big loop around the zoo (Rob’s a train fanatic). On the other hand, the animals are in cramped quarters and can’t possibly be as happy as they would in the wild. We saw some big cats that were just pacing in their enclosures, over and over again, and looked miserable. The elephants looked downright depressed. I can’t reconcile the joy people get from visiting the animals with the misery the animals endure for our privilege. It’s a paradox I’m not sure how to resolve. And I feel both happiness and guilt when I leave. My daughter, however, had some grand adventures at the zoo. I have to admit, I would not have been so brave. She went zip-lining, which involved climbing a rather imposing wood-and-rope structure with not much more than a tether for security, and whizzing over the heads of all the zoo patrons below. She also rode a camel!!! The camel was kind of amazing. Dude POSED for us when they walked by so we could get a picture of him. I’m not kidding…. he stopped, turned his head, and I swear he smiled, and then held that pose so I could get a picture.

IMG_4194 IMG_4223IMG_4224And that’s what we did on our summer vacation… ;)



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