Sunday, July 09, 2006

Crazy summer

This blog has been quiet for a while… I feel so way behind in my ramblings. Not that you’re noticing. It’s just that I’m writing everything in my head and I need a release… Thank goodness I could steal a few minutes before I move on to my next chore.

I have been very busy. Crazy busy. In one week, there were two graduations in the family (hooray!). Mickey from Grade 12, Gabriel from Grade 7. Then we spent a weekend in Seattle and spent time with my Mom and Ate Lan’s family on my father’s second death anniversary. And then school was over. That means my boys would be home all day and I need to have something ready for them to eat any time of the day!

And so I’ve been cooking and cooking and baking and baking, sometimes till midnight. Or I would sleep after dinner and get up before 12 and cook till 2 am. It’s a good thing that early last June, I found a recipe book in my kitchen that I hadn’t opened since I got it at our office Christmas party two years ago. It’s called Company’s Coming Make Ahead Meals. I discovered several recipes that are easy to prepare and store for three to four months in the freezer.

I prepared bags and bags of seasoned ground beef, marinated chicken strips, sliced pot roast, gravy, mashed potatoes, mango starter and cornbread mix, and stored them in the freezer. Each one was labeled, some good till the first week of September. I was stocking up for when my homestay students come so then I could easily pull out a bag from the freezer and quickly whip up a dish when I get home from work, or bake cookies or muffins before I sleep at night or leave in the morning. Well, I have been using up these frozen pre-cooked or ready-to-cook bags of meat and goodies and my students have not even arrived!

Summer is also a good time to do painting jobs around the house. I actually started in the spring to re-paint the ceilings of our two washrooms. Little by little I prepared the one upstairs for painting -- patching here and there, taping edges (I didn’t skip this one this time.) I did the major part of the job this weekend. I primed the walls yesterday and did the final painting today. The walls of this washroom are now a light tinge of pink called Bashful, even though when you are in this room, you are anything but.

My boys are not too happy to have a girlie coloured room. But that’s the idea. I want one place in this male-dominated turf to be dedicated to the only lady in the house. And what better place than the washroom. Hopefully, it will remind these guys to lift that toilet seat!!!

I am so surprised that I finished painting a bigger washroom in less than two days. Last year, I spent 4 days on the small washroom downstairs. Am I getting “gooder” at this? I used up less paint too. I didn’t even finish a gallon. I can still do one more coating. The only thing I did not bother to do very well is sanding. I can't stand the sound of scratching. Almost as intolerable as the dentist's drill.

My friend said painting walls is therapeutic, just like gardening. I agree. It is exhausting and relaxing at the same time. I know I will wake up aching all over tomorrow, but quite happy at my accomplishment.

Now that I’ve mentioned gardening, I should make a quick inspection of my little garden in front of our house. My green peas are ready for harvesting. I need to pull out some lettuce. They are overcrowding and therefore not growing as they should. I have lots of pepper and basil that can be used, except that right now, I find more joy looking at, and not cooking, them. It's the parsley plants that I want to mature faster so that I can use them in making Kenyan samosa. But they are taking forever! Some insects are eating my broccoli leaves. Arggh! Broccoli is everyone's fave at home, I was hoping to have lots of flowerets this summer. I guess not. My one rose plant is blooming. I have counted 13 blooms so far. Last year, I thought it was dying. I tended it this spring and look at it now. A little TLC does make a difference.

On my deck overlooking the backyard, I have a planter of purple-pink petunias that keep flowering and three clusters of yellow African daisies are about to bloom again. How lovely! I love looking at them from the living room. Occasionally, I take out a cup of tea or an icy glass of halo-halo or ice cream and sit under the patio umbrella. I watch children play or squirrels run around the backyard, or just stare at the tall evergreen trees that separate our complex from the Toys R Us parking lot. This greenbelt makes me forget that we are just in the neighbourhood of Canadian Tire, Price-Smart and Future Shop, all a stone’s throw away but hidden from sight.

Ah summer. I love summer (when it’s not too hot). Crazy busy or not.

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