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Kadri is Signed! And other off-season Leafs comments.

September 11, 2013

TorontoMAPLELEAFSlogoJust a short blurb to get back into the hockey swing of things. I do still love my hockey, after all and the season is starting soon!  The Leafs have been fairly busy this off-season, adding a solid goalie in Jonathan Bernier  and an effective, if somewhat overpaid feisty forward in David Clarkson. The additions aren’t bad, but I’m just not sure they were needed.

They bought out  a bad contract in Mike Komisarek and punted a good foot-soldier in Mikhail Grabovski.  Just because the coach doesn’t know how to make use of a good player, is no reason to humiliate the guy. Thanks for nothing, Randy.  Good luck, Grabo – we loved your heart here.

Mr. Nonis managed to give our top-scorer’s best pal a ridiculous contract (that would be Tyler Bozak if you didn’t know) and retained a defenceman that barely played during our first playoff run in years (Liles). While both are serviceable players, not sure either earned the contracts they received.

Now to the problems – the receding salary cap.  With those lovely contracts that MLSE has happily doled out – the Leafs are now in cap hell.  With two key young players, skilled sharpshooter Nazem Kadri and solid, heavy-shooting Cody Franson, still to sign, the Leafs started today with just under 5M in cap space. Not too much, considering they just recently tendered a PTO to Mason Raymond .

The good news is that Kadri has  signed a two-year bridge deal worth just under 3M / yr.  Now we turn our eyes to Franson. Will he be content with leavings?  Leftovers?    While there are quite a few d-men in the Leafs prospect pipeline, I think Franson has shown the necessary qualities at the top level. Maybe a bridge contract will work with him because it would be a shame to have developed him and then let him go because management was unable to juggle the salary cap correctly.

The Culprit Has Been Found! (But not caught)

September 10, 2013

If you’ve read my blog this summer, you know I have been griping about critters attacking my veggies, specifically my beets. My first attempt was to spray the leaves with a mild soap and water solution in the evenings.  This seemed to work well, but given the amount of rain we received – it was difficult to continue and it didn’t always work (just ask my now-deceased sorrel and the now-thriving basil).

Mangled BasilThe basil was definitely a victim of the caterpillar stage of our friendly pale yellow butterflies.  My second solution was actually a solution of soapy water and cayenne pepper. I’m not sure it worked, but the basil began to thrive after a lot of good sun and rain and a little relaxation on my part, where I found inspiration from a fellow blogger to “let the bugs have a few leaves.”  It worked, I have loads of basil.

Re-sprouting sorrelI suspected the insects with respect to the sorrel as well, but now I’m not sure.  I had ravaged the sorrel because it had grown into a tall (over 4′) mess. I was a little over-zealous and cut it to the ground, but tiny little leaves had just begun to poke their way through the mulch when they were munched off.  What an ignominious end – survived a stomping on from a dog, only to be mangled by its owner and  struggle to sprout again, then thoroughly eliminated by …?

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I was determined to bring my final crop (beets) to fruition. Excited that they germinated so quickly, I prepared the washtub to receive the seedlings. I happily  planted them at about 2″ tall, only to find myself replacing seedlings every morning as they were nibbled on.  I suspected everything four-footed from squirrels to bunnies.

I decided to become over-protective. I sprinkled mass amounts of cayenne pepper (wonder what that will do to their flavour?) , my final seedlings were going to become beets, dammit!  Still the nibbles. I covered the entire tub with chicken wire.  Success! However, I managed to leave the top up after checking up and weeding the tub this morning and of course, more nibbling. Aarrgh.

But this time, having frightened an audacious chipmunk off the porch, I was pretty sure of the culprit. The evidence is clear. note the obvious bite marks on the leaf in the middle. I haven’t caught him, but I’ve battened down the hatches on the beets. Chippy can just find some other leafy green to munch on!

Evidence of Chippy

What to do with Tomatoes, Basil & Garlic

September 4, 2013

The best thing about growing your own veggies?  Finding things to make with them!

So, dinner tonight was pasta, but not a boring dish of plain spaghetti – a dish combining  home-grown cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil.  Add grated parmesan cheese and substitute gluten-free rice pasta and corn meal  and  you have:

Seared Cherry Tomato Pasta 🙂

Simple and  yummy.

Cheers!

Beasts are eating my Beets!

August 27, 2013

I have now bought chicken wire to protect my beets in the bed, but in the meantime I decided to plant some of the seedlings in the newly obtained galvanized water tub.  In the space of just over one week, I have transplanted over 30 seedlings because SOMETHING IS EATING THEM!  Tuesday I happily put in a couple (one row of four) and mulched them with shredded coir from their seed flat. Not so bad.

Wednesday I finished filling the rest of the tub for a total of 21 (ok so I don’t do math well when it comes to planting in rows). Thursday, although a crappy day in the work world, I was able to come home and be cheered that my tub of beets was looking like they were going to be quite happy in their tub.  I had been a bit worried as much of the literature I’d read stated that beets did not transplant well and were better off with direct-seeding.

Saturday was market day – I was up bright and cheery and trundled out to check out the seedlings and … GONE!  3 of them were gone and a hole had been dug in the tub.  With insufficient time before I had to get going, I grumbled out the door and spent a great deal of the day wishing I were home to replace the missing seedlings.  I swear it was the work of the scrawny little grey squirrel that had scampered off the porch when I opened the door.

Back home and even more were gone.  Leaves were munched right off, leaving forlorn little stems. This has continued throughout the week. I go to bed with a nicely mulched and watered tub of beetlings and wake to missing beetlings.  Once there was a total of 10 missing – that’s half my tub! One or two were even pulled right out!  Last night I resorted to shaking cayenne pepper over them to deter at least the furry critters (possibly the skunk who wandered by whilst I was planting the second or third batch, or the bunny that walked by me into the backyard or the squirrel) if not the insect-types.

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BEFORE

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AFTER

Meanwhile, the remainder of the beetlings are waiting patiently in their flat, not three feet away – untouched.  It seems that I may never get them into the bed if I keep having to replace the ones in the tub… Is it worth it? Well some of them seem to be thriving!  I am going to continue with the cayenne (it rained today so I had to not only replace the 4 missing seedlings, but re-sprinkle) and re-planting. I think I only have another month / month-and-a-half of growing weather. Hoping that I’ll have SOME beets to eat. Even if they’re small.

Aside:  My transplanted rhubarb has sent up a few new leaves and is looking quite happy in its semi-shady spot on the edge of the patio, despite the inevitable little holes dug by unknown critter. Based on the bird poop, it appears the bird population doesn’t mind another place to hang out either.

Productive Week and Weekend!

August 18, 2013

It is so satisfying to eat stuff you’ve grown yourself.  And to share as possible.  I mention sharing because I have hopefully found someone to supply me with genuine (ie. it grows red for her) red shiso seed from her garden and someone at work has made many co-workers happy by sharing several grocery bags full of home-grown pears!  I grabbed a couple to go with my lunch and for afternoon snack, but they are still sitting on my desk as I had neither on Friday… I was cheered to see a note taped to the coffee room table thanking the ‘mystery farmer’ for their donated pears.

I will be bringing my mom a bulb of my home-grown garlic and hopefully giving a tub of  cherry tomatoes to a friend (if I can get my girl to stop eating them all!) I will also be sharing any of the herbs that we grow, because we have tons more than we can possibly use, even with drying/freezing.  I have been fortunate in the free plants/herb department, courtesy of friends and family, so it is only fair to pass it on.

That said, a little more gardening was accomplished this weekend as well. I toted home a couple of large bags of coloured mulch to cover up the mess some creature has been making in the front bed. It seems that something is living right under where a daffodil used to be and whatever it is, is worth moving the heap of rocks I piled over the hole as well. Sigh.  Oh well, a little mulch never hurt a garden, the gardener’s back, on the other hand…

I’ve had the beet sprouts outside on the porch for the past few days, acclimatizing until I get the bed finished and some chicken wire ready.  Today the bed received a new layer of black earth and tomorrow (hopefully) a load of compost will get mixed in and then all I need is to install some chicken wire and bed the sprouts!  Sounds easy…  The sprouts are recovering from last weekend’s debacle under the cloche and since they are also multiple seedlings from one seed, I may still get a decent crop of baby beets.

Slowly attacking my ‘list,’  I finally transplanted my little rhubarb plants – sad little guys were waiting and waiting for a space of their own.  Sitting in small pot on the porch was supposed to be a temporary situation since I’d already figured out where I was going to plant them in order for them to not spread insanely throughout the jungle that is the back yard.  The previous owners had left a large concrete planter about 3ft in diameter and I figured that it would do just fine for the rhubarb as long as I was careful to amend the soil.  It took me until now to get them into the planter, so I’ll see if they are happy in a day or two.

Last but not least – I picked up a galvanized wash tub at a garage sale and was thinking of planting directly in it, but my gf thought this would destroy the tub and we should put containers in it. Any thoughts?

Beet & Shiso Sadness Offset by a Smidge of Cherry Tomato and Fresh Chili

August 14, 2013

So the week following the planting of my beet seeds was exciting, per my last post.  As my seedlings grew (and multiplied – I didn’t know that beet seeds could generate more than one sprout!), I assiduously moved them into the warmer areas of the sunny dining room as well as moving them outside (still in the covered flat) for a few hours every evening after my return from work in order to catch the last warm rays of natural sun.  Things were proceeding fabulously until the Saturday following their planting.

Before I left for my trip to the farmer’s market, I took the flat outside and left it in a sunny spot on the porch.  Several hours later, to my dismay, I returned to wilted and fried seedlings. Not all of them, but enough that it definitely took the bloom off the happy glow generated by my purchase of lovely rainbow trout fillet, double-smoked bacon and mixed greens.  I am a sad beet mom.  The remaining sprouts were hurried back into the relative shade of the dining room and the cloche removed to allow them fresh air and the chance to rejuvenate. Crossing fingers.

Alongside my beets, I also planted some soaked supposed red perilla (shiso) seeds. My planter box of mixed green and red seeds has produced a lovely crop of leafy GREENS.  As a total amateur, I am never sad to see healthy plants, but I am entirely disappointed that apparently none of the red variety germinated. Thus I tried again in the planter flat with solely red seeds.  Unless I am unaware of some special treatment that makes these herbs go purple, I have re-sown in vain. some 9 days later, I have more green sprouts. Sadness again.

My sole joy (aside from my rather flourishing herb garden, including the newly sown fenugreek seeds, is that my one cherry tomato plant is producing delicious, sweet fruit daily. It is a bit of a monster (see below) which may be entirely due to my lack of pruning knowledge. I’ve tried to water regularly, fed it with crushed eggshells and coffee grounds and kept it mulched. It is now rewarding me with treats for Katy’s breakfast and my dinner salads!

Mutant Cherry Tomato

Last but not least (always save the best for last?), I finally used some of my home-grown onions, garlic, bay leaf, oregano and rosemary in a huge pot of chili.  I am rather proud that my garlic has humungous cloves and firm bulbs. My onions didn’t fare as well, being smaller than your average cooking onion, but milder – they didn’t make me cry when I chopped them up. Win!

Homegrown Garlic Homegrown Garlic and my Best Onion Homegrown Garlic vs Store bought Organic

International Olympic Committee May Join Russia in Punishing Gay Athletes

August 12, 2013

Talk About Equality

Most of you know what’s been going on between the Stoli boycotts and statements from athletes around the world with regards to the Olympics and anti-gay, draconian Russian laws.

For those who don’t, the short version is this: earlier this year, Russia passed some horrifically anti-gay laws making it illegal to “promote” homosexuality. Apparently you can BE gay, you just can’t ever tell anyone about it for fear you’ll be reported and go to prison. These laws have given cover to Neo-Nazi groups and others to take the law into their own hands by beating and murdering any person they think doesn’t measure up to their standard of heterosexuality.

Many have called on the Olympics to make strong statements against these laws and some have even called them to move the 2103 Winter Olympics out of Sochi to a place more accepting of all athletes.

The International Olympic Committee began…

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