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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Country Livings Blackberry Vodka Recipe

Last year we attended my sister in laws wedding in Halifax, England.  It was on September 12th and I'm sure it was the hottest sunniest day of the year (or so the locals swore)!  It really was a gorgeous day and a lovely wedding, and a really wonderful time spent with all of my husbands family both from England and Ireland.  I wont drone on and on about my trip, especially as it wasnt 'perfect' from a truly selfish standpoint.  We hadnt rented a car, and my husband wouldnt get on the train to go to York so we didnt get to a Cath Kidston store.  I know its selfish, but I'd crossed the Atlantic Ocean, was one train ride to go shopping that taxing?  APPARENTLY.  Hmm...

Anyway, on the flight back I bought a Country Living magazine (I think...could've been another UK Country magazine but I'm pretty sure it was CL), and it had a great Blackberry Vodka recipe:

  • one part blackberries
  • one part sugar
  • one part vodka
Thats it!  Mix all in an airtight bottle or jar.  Gently shake, or tip bottle upside down a few times, over the next few days until all the sugar has disolved, leave in a dark place, and forget about it for TWO MONTHS!!  That my friends was the hardest part of the whole thing!   Then you drain and eat the boozy berries (too strong for me), and keep the vodka in a clean bottle for ANOTHER MONTH.  Then you enjoy!  I'm only two weeks away from "enjoying"!!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

All you need is love...

Ok, so last night the 3 kids (all in the same class by the way) spring on me that their having a Valentines party today at school and they signed me up for popcorn.  I've made Mother Goose Popcorn for them in the past but I couldnt find my tried and true recipe (cause I'm sooooooooo organized).  So I searched for it on the internet, and numerous versions popped up.  The first one I tried was absolute rubbish and turned my 8 cups of popped corn into popcorn soup.  NOT NICE.  The next one was this one http://www.recipezaar.com/Mother-Goose-Popcorn-48667 and it seemed easy enough, with simple ingredients.  So I pulled out all my gear/ingredients and lo and behold I had no vanilla left!!  Well, I like vanilla or some kind of flavour just so its not sugar popcorn.  If I'm baking and I dont have vanilla, I usually replace it with cinnamon, so what was another 8 cups of wasted popcorn if it didnt work?  I always experiment, not necessarily successfully, but that doesnt stop me...

Here is a peak at all you need, including that antique air popper (you can get them for next to nothing at Walmart).

Very basic requirements here.  My tweeked version of this recipe is:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 8 cups air popped popcorn
  • red food colouring
  1. Mix milk and sugar in  small saucepan, and heat on medium till it boils.  Let it boil for a few minutes just to give the syrup some body, but dont let it burn.  This must be watched.
  2. Add the cinnamon, and mix well so it disolves into syrup.  You dont want clumps.
  3. Now add as much food colouring as you like.   I made it a bit darker, like cinnamon hearts. Mix in well.
  4. Pour hot syrup over popcorn (in a large bowl) and mix as well as you can.  Try to coat the popcorn evenly.  The syrup will gather at the bottom of the bowl, so scrape it up and keep mixing, almost like 'folding' eggs.
  5. Pour sticky popcorn in two shallow cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Place in warm oven.  I usually heat my oven to 200 - 250* F for twenty minutes, then turn it off, and place the popcorn into warm/off oven.  I leave the popcorn in the warm oven overnight. 
  6. In the morning (or whenever you're ready) break up the popcorn and place in airtight container, or just eat it!
Just a warning- Remove any unpopped Kernels prior to coating with syrup or they stick to the popcorn and you dont want anyone to break any teeth.  Enjoy!!

Sorry I didnt take any photos of it once it had dried.  I was too busy/late trying to get it ready for school!  But it looked soooo good!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Where is the time going???

Wow, I cant believe how this week is flying by, and its only tuesday.  Why is it that we've just begun the week and I already feel like I'm waaaay behind?  I'm feeling so guilty too, because I've signed up for the lovely dutch sisters spring swap, and have been partnered up with the very talented Carolyn.  Carolyn I think you're way above my crafting league!!!  Please please please dont be too disappointed!!  I'm still trying to decide what to make, and then I've got to shake my bootie to get it done!!!  Hmm...thinking thinking...what to make...

In the meantime, I thought I'd bring to you poor bored readers another installment of 'An old house in Markham'.    This beauty is called the 'Ambrose Nobel House' and whats so interesting about these old houses, is that they form parts of my childhood.  This particular one used to be on the corner of Markham road and 16th avenue, and its where we used to buy balloons when we were teenagers.   

It was built around 1830 and if you notice, it has two front doors.  Mr. Nobel owned a tannery and its believed that he lived in half the house, and the tannery's office was in the other half.  The Nobels came to Markham from the United States prior to the war of 1812.  So although it started as a tannery, we still call it the balloon house.

I'm also saddened to say that I think its time to remove my Halloween mice from my stair risers.  I find mice so repulsive, but paper images of them are so cute, why is that????   Anyway, the Martha Stewart mice I'd stuck on my risers have finally disintegrated with paws and tails missing, torn and askew...BYE BYE MICKEY and DORIS (sniff sniff)!! 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hellooooooo out there in Webland...............Can anybody heeeeeaaarrrrrr meeeeee??

I'm probably just typing on and on without anyone out there reading...Oh well...

Anyway, it was late last night and I was tired so I didnt give to much info on the Udell-Hamilton house.  Did you watch that video?  Wasnt it great?  The movie wasnt shot there at all, they just made a film trailer there for it.  Anyway  it was built in 1850 for Mary Udell and her four kids.  She was the widow of Mathew Udell, who was imprisoned for his role in the infamous (infamous in Markham) Markham Gang.  The house was sold to Abraham Hamilton in 1871, and was said to have added the front addition to it.  It began as a 1 1/2 story and was subsequently expanded to a 2 story at the end of the 19th century. 

So now I thought I would show you the last of my amigurumi (spellcheck???) toys.  My kids are very excited, but are perplexed...they are also embaressed that at 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 they love stuffed toys.  I promised to keep their secret. 

The dog is cute and quite large, but the boy bear isnt quite as nice as Maxine...  NO MORE AMIGURUMI for me!  Not until I finish piecing together that all demanding Afghan/bed spread for my daughter.  How can something so lovely instill so much dread into the pit of my stomach?  Everytime I see it sittting there so idly in my craft room (aka my daughter who now lives in San Francisco's room) it makes me cringe with guilt!  Ciao for now!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hi Guys!!  Its Thursday evening, and its ******** cold here!!  We've been relatively lucky this year, and have had little snow.  The reason it didnt snow much this year is because we paid for a snow removal service this year.  I dont feel ripped off though, I think of it as insurance...If I pay someone to shovel the snow, it wont snow, and is that such a bad thing?  Its like paying for it not to snow...and my friends, I would pay for that!  I know, I'm living in the wrong country if I dont want snow...but I like the country!!

So I thought I would show you a picture of one of my favourite houses in the neighbourhood.  Its really quite an interesting house, and it was actually built in bits and pieces, but blended in so you cant really tell that it has changed quite a bit over time.  Its called the Udell-Hamilton house.  Isnt it beautiful?  Actually if you live in Canada, you may have seen it in a Canadian Tire commercial this Christmas, but they just zoomed in near the door and you probably wouldnt have recognized it.  However, if you really want to get a good look at it closer...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyNy5lj2jkQ  Fear the day...  Eeerrie!!! 

The house backs onto a senior citizens home, and when they filmed this commercial, the seniors werent aware it was a film shoot, they just thought crazy people moved in and needless to say, the town received numerous phone calls from concerned residents warning them of the strange behavior...  I wont tell you what the behavior was...you'll just have to watch the video...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A bit of Canadian (Ontario actually) history...

I live in a very interesting place, a type of place where many of you probably didnt even know existed.  I felt it would be truly selfish of me not to share it with anyone who reads this blog.  Since many of you share similar hobies and likes/dislikes, I think this will be an interesting read for you...


Markham Heritage Estates is a very unique heritage subdivision owned by the Town of Markham, Ontario (a subdivision near Toronto).  It is divided into 42 lots, with its sole purpose being a last resort for the heritage homes of Markham, which are under the threat of neglect.  Heritage homes in Markham can no longer be legally demolished, however many land owners leave these beautiful structures unprotected by the harsh Canadian elements, in order for them to disintegrate.  Thus, freeing the now very valuable lands for commercial or new subdivision use.

The Concept of the Heritage Estates began when a toll highway (Highway 407) was being built through Markham, and many of the Towns' heritage homes were under the threat of demolition.  This subdivision was created to relocate these homes.  These lots are sold below market value to owners of endangered heritage buildings, to provide incentive to relocate and restore these buildings, and undertake such extensive and expensive projects.  Markham has implemented strong policies for retaining heritage buildings on their original sites, surrounded by new developments, and also with the development of this heritage subdivision, it is ensuring the survival of its esthetic and important architectural past.  The remaining lots are reserved for homes which as mentioned above, are in danger of loss by neglect.    The wonderful subdivision truly is a last resort for our architectural past, and is a tourist destination in Toronto (although it is still relatively secret). 

I am fortunate enough to say that I live in one of these lovely homes.  We didnt actually relocate the home, but bought it from the family which did (after significant arm twisting -me doing the twisting, my husband being the twisted).  However, we did a lot of its internal restoration, and added a beautiful (not to mention architecturally accurate) addition.  The town has a Heritage Committee and a Heritage Board which must approve all additions/changes to these homes, including paint colour, materials, design, windows, etc...All to ensure the integrity of the changes to the original design, and time frame of the structure.

As this is truly a unique subdivision in North America, and possibly world wide (anyone have any information/objections on that???)  I thought that you old house lovers out there would enjoy reading about this area, and its individual homes.  I'll see if any of you can guess which one of these homes is mine...

Monday, February 1, 2010

...and then I got hungry!!

Well after all that crocheting, I got hungry!!  Anyone would!  I had a nice package of german mini sausages in my fridge which I had been intending to make sausage rolls with.  No better time to bake than when you're hungry.  The dough is really quite simple:

Dough recipe:

1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola, corn, etc..)
1/2 cup hot water
big pinch of salt
3 cups flour

Directions:  In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, oil, salt and water.  Mix in 2 cups of flour.  Mixture will be quite soft.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and work in as much of the remaining 1 cup of flour as it will take.  You may not need it all.  Wrap in plastic wrap and either refridgerate for an hour, or you may freeze for later use.

Take the dough out and cut into thirds.  Place one third between two long sheets of parchment paper and roll out until even and approx 1/6 of an inch thin.

Now you can cut dough sheet into squares and then cut each square in half on the diagonal.  You wrap each sausage in a triangle.  Brush with a beaten egg, and bake for approx. 22 minutes (give or take according to your ovens strength) or until slightly golden.  Yummy with or without mustard.  Beer optional!

Spring Surprise Swap '10

I'm so excited!!  I'm taking part in the Spring Surprise Swap 2010, organized by Heleen of Dutch colours http://dutch-colours.blogspot.com/ and Corry of Dutch bluehttp://dutch-blue.blogspot.com/.  I've just been partnered up with a buddy and we get to make each other a spring gift and pick and send each other some fresh spring fabric.  I feel like a kid getting a pen pal!!!  I'm so excited (I said that already didnt I??) 

I normally just make things for myself, my kids or my sister, so they look great but are held together by duct tape or stapes in the back (only kidding), but seriously this is the first time I'm making something for someone else, so I'll have to be extra extra neat and tidy about it all...getting worried...

Last week I wasnt feeling well, and was mostly couch ridden, so I thought I'd start practicing my crafting skills.  Some months ago I had bought a great book on Amigurumi, called 'Amigurumi World' by Ana Paula Rimoli.   So, on Friday I started making the first project in it, and within a few hours I had this:
And she soon became this - Lovely Maxine!!!  She turned out so sweet that my sons both picked animals they want made, as did my twenty something daughter in San Fransisco and my niece!!  I had to go to shopping and get more yarn, as Maxine was made with the wool I'm reserving for the afgan I'm going to  make (after I finish the neverending one I've been working on for months) and it was too soft for this project. I dont like to use acrylic, but to be honest, the new yarn I bought was acrylic and the new toy I started is much tighter (better in this case).  Anyway...all I want to do is crochet cute animals now. This book should have come with a warning!  So if I decide to make one of these lovelies for my swap buddy, It'll look oh so professional (by which I mean no hidden duct tape or staples anywhere!!!).