Bermudiana Flower

Bermudiana Flower
Bermudiana Flower

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Shirt Back-to-Front & America Election Day

This morning I started my day with putting my shirt on back-to-front but luckily noticed it within a minute - it just didn't feel right and when I checked myself in the mirror, walking past to leave the bedroom, I saw it was on backwards and turned it around.

Never get dressed in the dark.  I hope this is not going to be the kind of day I'm going to have. LOL

Today is America's election day - dooms day - voting for dumb or dumber - the lesser of two evils - Reggie or Veronica (if you read the Archie comics like I did) - I sure am glad I'm not American because I wouldn't want either of them as my President.

I believe it's a shame that the first female president could be Hillary Clinton.  Of all the millions of people in America, and all the women in politics, I am so glad I am not the one having to vote.

I wonder how many people will abstain from voting or spoil their ballots because of this dilemma.  Good grief - how could these be the only two choices for President?  They say the system must be broken.

While I mention the American politics, our own political scene is not much better.  Our system is outdated and needs to be changed, and our system is not working for us either, and the seats in Government are voted quite differently.  But... still also broken.

It would be nice, one day, to see more equality in the political scene - for running, for voting, and for bringing in better people who can do more good for the nations and economy and support the people in a favourable way, instilling more jobs, peace, harmony and successful economy.

Those are my thoughts today.
Cheers!  Good luck America - no matter who wins, you'll need it.

PS - My two cents... I vote for President Barack Obama to have another term, or for his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, to become President!  Now that would be a good thing for America!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Halloween & Homemade Orange Jam

For Halloween, we don't get any Trick-or-Treaters in our neighbourhood (which saves me a bit of money) but I like to decorate for the occasion in any case, yet I didn't want to spend more than $20 (my Halloween budget) in decorations, so this is how I did it...

At virtually no cost to me... being very thrifty...

On the walls, I printed out a couple pages of different sized 'monster' feet images I found on the internet, cut these out and taped these to my walls in the entrance way and hallway.
Cut out paper monster feet decor taped on walls
I also printed out 12 small Halloween clip art pictures and a skeleton hand image I found on the internet, which I cut out and stuck to a piece of printer paper to make a clock and taped this to the wall.
Cut out Halloween clip art for numbers and taped to paper to make a clock, with skeleton hands
My mom and I usually but 1 or 2 magazines a month to share and read (I deliver them to the hospital waiting room once finished for others to enjoy) so I cut out 4 Halloween photos from one of the October magazines and taped them to the corners of my mirror at the front entrance.

I stuffed a spooky clown mask (we've collected about a dozen masks and a few costumes over the years) with newspaper and rested it on my entrance table.

We have red, green and blue table cloths (I use blue year round mostly, and red for October, Green for November, and Red for December) so I put the red table cloth on the front entrance table.

We've received three wine candles as gifts from people over the years - one large wine candle (like a real sized wine bottle), one medium wind candle and a pack of 6 little wine candles - so I put the two smaller ones on the table as well for added decoration.
Front entrance table and mirror Halloween decorated
Then, at a cost of about $19.00, I was able to...

Fill a small dish with a handful of mixed Halloween candy (not even $1.00 in cost - my mother bought a huge back of mixed candy for $13.00 for us all to share - for multiple uses to share with the kids at the bowling league where I volunteer, for a bowls of goodies at the art center where my sister works, some for our home, and some for my sister's home - she get's trick-or-treaters).

Buy 8 balloons ($5.00), blew them up and hung them in pairs around the house with ribbon which I already had.
Halloween orange and black balloons
We also found on the Saturday before Halloween a discounted wall decor banner discounted at $2.25 (was originally $7.00) which we purchased and taped to our entrance wall.
Halloween plastic banner taped to wall
Plus, I bought a bag of tiny oranges for about $8.00 (some are already eaten and gone LOL) and put them all in a bowl to go along with the orange/pumpkin color/theme but to also consume later, so it wasn't a waste of money.
Bowl of oranges for table decoration at Halloween
Lastly, I purchased a $2.50 plastic Halloween table cloth to cover my dining table and laid out some masks we had already, as decoration.
Plastic Halloween table cloth with masks laid out on it for decoration
With all of these things, we managed to make a great effort at decorating simply but inexpensively and it looked great without a lot of effort and time.

Now that Halloween is well over, today I've decided to make Orange Jam with the left over oranges for us to eat through the week.  We will only have enough oranges to make a small/medium jar of jam and as it will be eaten over the next week or so, I won't have to add in any preservatives or boil any jam jars.  I'll just use a freshly hot washed jar and lid and put the jam in the fridge until we've eaten it all up.

The recipe I'll use is going to be really easy - I do prefer SIMPLE recipes...

My Basic Quick Homemade Orange Jam (should be refrigerated and consumed in about weeks):-

4-5 oranges
1 tsp orange zest (optional, you can double this if desired)
1 1/2 cups of warm water (cold water can be substituted for warm water)
1/2 cup of sugar (optional, you can halve this, add more if desired, or use none at all)
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional, not essential but helps with thickening)

20 small oranges for the jam

Wash the oranges really well.  I peeled all the oranges we had left in the bowl from Halloween (the ones you see above), and removed the outer skin and the inner white stringy bits and the seeds (I had about 20 tiny 1.5" oranges, which equalled about 5 large oranges).  This preparation takes a bit of time - perhaps 20 mins.

I grated about a tsp of the orange peel from a few of the oranges to add some zest and tartness to the jam.

 I put the oranges and zest, plus any juice remaining in my plate while slicing them up, into a greased medium sized pot on the stove and boiled it for about 20 minutes over medium heat, mashing them up every minute or so, stirring them regularly, to make a pulp.
Zest and oranges in pot on medium heat, starting to mash them to make a pulp
Next, I poured in the warm water and sugar.  You can use cold water if you like but I like to use warm water.

Note: I did not add in the lemon because I wanted a thinner, more liquid, pure orange jam but I do add a squeeze of lemon (about a tablespoon) in my jams usually.

Stirring and mashing every minute or so, I let the mixture boil on a medium heat for 30 minutes - this allowed a better pulp and reduced the liquid a bit in order to make a jam consistency.

Mashing and stirring the oranges every minute, really well, during the first 30 minute boil process
The sugar must be all dissolved.  Don't over boil - you'll make the jam too thick because it hardens as it cools.  You'd prefer it to be more liquid than solid if anything - this part takes trial and error and after doing a few batches you'll know when to turn it off and get the right consistency you like.  If you take it off the boil and let it sit for 10 minutes, check the consistency - if it's still too liquid, put it back on medium heat for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Boiling during 2nd 30 minutes, having mashed and stirred them each minute during the process, to make a good pulp

Jar of homemade orange jam ready to be refrigerated and consumed
I washed a re-used jar and lid I had in my cupboard already.   I washed it with hot soapy water, then rinsed it before pouring the jam into it (you can store it in anything you have with a lid that can take heat and be refrigerated).  I put the jar of jam in the refrigerator - ideally you'd want to consume it within the next two weeks.

Some ways to enjoy this jam is to put it on bread, toast, crackers, spread it over the top of some cheese (brie, cream cheese, any soft cheese will do), pour a couple spoonfuls on top of vanilla (or your desired flavor) ice cream, put a dollop on garden or chef salad, pour a few teaspoons in with a bowl of fresh fruit, or even heat it up and mixed in with some cooked chicken (in a skillet or baked in the oven, cooking them together).

Enjoy!  Cheers, B.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Potatoes and Making Homestyle Bread

It's been just over a month since we planted seeds and potatoes in the planters, and we admit the expired seeds did not grow (we tried - what else would have done, lol) but a few of the potatoes did sprout up with leaves!
Wooden Planter made of scrap wood, with potato leaves flourishing

The plant looks fairly healthy except for a few nibbles off a couple of leaves but they are nice and big, and green, and it's quite a full bush.  I can't wait to pick my own potatoes from the garden soil.

Potato plant leaves
 Last night I made a loaf of bread from the recipe off the Robin Hood bread flour packaging.  Instead of punching down the dough after the first rise, then halving the dough and turning them into 2 greased loaf pans after the first rise, for the 2nd rise, I just put all the dough initially into a greased 9" foil pan, covered & let rise the first time as directed (for me it was about 50 mins where it doubled in size), then I punched it down and evened it out in the same foil pan and let it rise there again for the 2nd rise (about 40 mins this time where it filled the pan completely and was higher than the top) then I baked it in the same pan in one big loaf rather than separating it in two smaller loaves.  I found this to be much easier and less work.  We then just sliced it as normal and cut each slice into 3 pieces to share/eat.
Robin Hood flour bread loaf

Here's the recipe from off the Robin Hood flour package if you want to use it...


1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water 
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar
1 (8 g) envelope active dry yeast
1 cup (250 ml) warm milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water 
2 tbsp (30 ml) butter (I used 3 tbsp hard butter left out at room temperature for 15 minutes beforehand, and added the butter in a microwave bowl with the water and milk together, and microwaved it on high, twice at 30 seconds each, stirring in between and after, to get it all warm and to soften the butter - you could even put them all in a small sauce pot on the stove top together, first melting the butter on low heat, then adding the milk and water in and heating it for another minute (or so) until warm)
2 tbsp (30 ml) sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
2 tsp (10ml) salt
5 1/2 cups (1.3 l) Robin Hood Bread Flour (I'm sure you can substitute this flour for another if  you like - sometimes you may need a tiny bit less or more flour depending on what you use - and if you find it's still too sticky - my recommendation is after adding in the first 3 cups, then add in the next 2 cups by 1/2 cups at a time (for a total of 5 cups), then add it in 1/4 cups at a time so you don't put more than needed, or you can add a tiny bit more if desired.  You can always add more but you cannot take it out once it's in the mix).

Here's how I did it...

Combine first 2 ingredients (1/2 cup warm water & 1 tsp sugar) stirring with a medium size spoon for about 30 seconds, into a large mixing bowl

Then add the 3rd ingredient - sprinkle the package of active dry yeast on top of the water/sugar mixture and then set it aside for 10 mins - the yeast will foam up and the mixture will turn a cream color on top.  After 10 mins, stir it a couple times with the medium spoon and set aside again.  

In another medium bowl, combine the next 5 ingredients (1 cup warm milk, 1/2 cup of warm water, softened butter, sugar and salt). Give it a good stir together with the medium spoon for about 30 seconds, then pour this into the bowl with the yeast mixture and stir it all together again, for about another 30 seconds.

Then add in the last ingredient, the flour, bit by bit, stirring with the medium spoon until all flour is incorporated each time, and until the dough is not too sticky to handle.

Put dough into center of a greased dish (I used a 9" long x 2" high foil pan and I took a few seconds to push the dough out a bit in the pan to spread it around a little more) and cover it (I greased a piece of foil and used it to covered the pan, then I laid 3 tea towels over the top of the foil (to cover and for warmth) and set it aside on my kitchen counter to rise for 1 hour.  

Then I removed the covers carefully, and set aside, and punched the raised dough down in the foil pan, spread it out a bit more to cover the corners as evenly as I could (this took about 1 minute of my time) and then I recovered it again with the foil and tea towels and set aside one last time for 45 minutes more.

At this time, the dough had doubled and filled the foil pan.  I turned my oven on and set it to 400F degrees, removed the tea towels and the foil cover (discarding the foil cover) and put the foil pan in the oven on the middle rack and set the time to 30 minutes.  This helped it rise a slight bit more as the oven heated, then it baked perfectly golden brown.  It was done in 30 minutes.  Each oven varies, you may need a little less heat or a little more time, in order to not burn it or fully bake the dough.

The bread turned out of the foil pan very easily - I put it onto a cooling rack and let it sit 10 minutes before slicing the first piece, adding a little butter and eating it with my homemade chicken soup.

Below is a picture of the original recipe on the Robin Hood Bread Flour Package if you want it...

Robin Hood Bread Flour Homestyle White Bread Recipe

Cheers, B.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Lost Seeds!

Life can surely be very serious at times, and sometimes a real struggle, but there are many times that something fun or funny happens and it is my intention to blog about those experiences.

In posting 'the funny side' of life, let me begin by mentioning that we started to plant a vegetable garden.  We take so long sometimes to do things.

We bought some packages of seeds months ago, before summer began.  We made a vegetable planter out of scrap wood about a month ago; we bought soil yesterday and decided today to plant the garden.  We filled the planter with soil and then went inside to look for the seeds.

Scrap Wood Vegetable Planter
You bet ya, we can't find the seeds we purchased months ago!  I remember putting them into a plastic zip lock bag.  They've been hanging around for months and I'm sure I've just tucked them away somewhere, and we don't have a lot of places to look, but we still can't find them.  I have no idea where I put them.

As we are finally in the momentum, during our search, we did find a few 'used' packages of seeds and out of desperation, we decided what the heck!  Let's just plant these anyhow and see what happens.  We have nothing to lose.  The half used packages have an expiration date of them 2014 (it's 2016) and rather than discard them, we may as well see what happens.

The seeds we had were for corn and carrots.  We planted these few remaining expired seeds in a third of the planter each.  We looked around and found some old potatoes and decided to plant these in the last section.  Waste not, want not, I say!  We will be extremely surprised if anything grows.  One never knows.  We'll water it (perhaps for nothing) and see if something pops up.  We will be so excited if we see something sprout up.  As far as the potatoes, we'll rummage around the soil in about a month to see if there is any growth activity as they grow in the ground and won't sprout up out of the soil.

Having done this, with continued enthusiasm, we picked up two round, empty plastic planters and put soil in them as well,  There were a dozen apple seeds drying out on top of my kitchen counter from a couple of apples I ate this past week, in the hopes to plant them one day just to see if something would grow.  I also had about 6 lemon seeds I saved this week, and I rummaged through the fridge and found a few scraggly green seedless grapes on a vine left that were slightly bruised, so I grabbed all three of them and we put these in the 2 planters - the apple and grapes together in the larger one, and the lemon seeds in the smaller one, then we topped them up with a couple inches of soil and watered them.

Our enthusiasm satisfied, we ended our 'planting' for the day.  Tomorrow, we'll pick up a couple packages of 'new' seeds and plant them in the garden we have, on the ground.  We don't know what's in season here, so we'll pick something accordingly and then we'll be ready to go.

We are going to make 2 more planters this week, we hope.  Then we'll be able to buy a few more seeds and plant four more different types of vegetables.

We tend to save the seeds from the fruit and vegetables we buy, so it is my hope in the future, that I can just throw those into a planter and see what evolves.  The more seeds I plant, the better my chances of a small home garden growing.  We are not experts, as you can tell, and any real gardener or farmer would probably cringe at the thought of what we've done and will do, but right now, it's a chance we take in trying to grow something until we become a bit more organized and a bit more knowledgeable about how to do it and when to do it.

For now, we have no expectations and will just enjoy the activity of trial and error. LOL