Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Wishes

The Bag Lady needed to go to town yesterday to finish up her shopping and get a few groceries for the holiday feast she is preparing. She had just finished drying her hair and was about to put on her makeup when the power went off. The sun was barely up, but the day was overcast, so her house was on the gloomy side. She had not yet put any makeup on (which consists of mascara to try to define the sparse, stubby little blonde things that pass as eyelashes, and some moisturizer to try to plump up the deepest craters) and was forced to do her ablutions by flashlight. She scrubbed her teeth with what she belatedly realized was the denture adhesive left in the drawer by a long-ago visitor. It tasted minty, but she couldn't force her teeth apart for the rest of the day.

Her optimistic estimate of how long it would take her to run her errands was quickly revised once she reached the outskirts and saw the traffic. Six hours later.... she was home again, triumphantly clutching a frozen turkey, a bag of cranberries and staring perplexedly at a red felt chef's hat with "Kiss the Cook" emblazoned on it. She's still not sure how it came to be in her possession.....

She spent the rest of the day alternating between worry over whether the Rancher will like his gift, find where his gift is hidden, and whether he will go ahead and buy one for himself when he does his traditional Christmas Eve day shopping.

Today begins the marathon of cooking and cleaning, decorating and wrapping that will consume the Bag Lady for the next couple of days. She has done some baking already, but needs to do more. She wasn't smart enough to hide the first batch of shortbread cookies....

She actually feels quite confident that she is well-prepared this year, which is probably partly due to menopause-brain. If you can't remember what you had planned to do, you can't be upset about not getting it done, right?

She hopes all of you have a safe and happy holiday season, regardless of whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or Festivus!

Monday, December 19, 2011


The Bag Lady had an audience the other day when she was feeding cows. Of course, as soon as the audience realized that they had an audience, they left.

Added another photo that will (hopefully!) enlarge. (But there's only one audience member left - the other was already gone.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another Day, Another Sunrise!

(Yet more sunrise pictures. The Bag Lady does love her sunrises!)

These pictures were taken mere seconds apart - can you see the difference? (and yes, it's pretty obscure. Try clicking on them to enlarge.)

Can't see it? Here's a hint - he was singing like a mad thing.

Monday, December 5, 2011


This was taken last year at this time. There is less snow on the ground this year, but the sunrise is still as pretty!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Monday - Bounty

The Bag Lady is taking a page from her cousin Leah's blog today and posting about gratitude.

She is grateful for the fact that she lives a rural life-style and has access to a bounty of all manner of things, but especially home-grown food. Recently, a neighbour pointed out that a fellow down the road from him had raised some pigs that were now ready for sale for slaughter. The Rancher and the Bag Lady were more than happy at the opportunity to buy pork on the hoof.

The neighbour and the Rancher hooked onto the stock trailer and picked up the pigs, then took them to an abattoir. The Bag Lady defrosted and re-arranged her deep freezers in preparation.

Soon there will be a bounty of pork and ham and bacon in the freezers, and for this the Bag Lady is grateful.

(How do you feel about meeting your meat, so to speak?)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Enter at Own Risk

Winter arrived on the ranch this week. The Bag Lady did not take pictures of the snow. She has taken many pictures in the past, and snow pretty much always looks the same, doesn't it? Cold. White.

She has been pondering and ruminating about an article she read in a "farm" paper recently. Those of you who reside in cities and towns probably don't realize that rural residents receive several free publications aimed specifically at farmers and ranchers. The Bag Lady uses them to start the woodstove doesn't usually read them, but the Rancher does, and he was outraged enough that he had to share this particular article with the Bag Lady.

There is a "movement" sweeping the nation (and probably the continent, too) that has the Bag Lady slightly worried. It takes several forms, and encompasses all of us in ways that are yet to be revealed. She refers to the burgeoning preoccupation with the multi million dollar industry of safety.

Yes, our society has become obsessed with safety. The Bag Lady is uncertain where this obsession comes from - did it start with the infamous McDonald's coffee incident? She has heard that there is a company that once manufactured perfectly good ladders, but stopped because there was not enough room to print all the safety labels that would have been required.

From bubble-wrapping our kids (cutting all the limbs within 8 feet of the ground off trees in daycare centres.... no hard balls such as soccer or basketballs on the playground in schools...) to forcing workers to take a multitude of courses in order to have the required tickets to go to work, we seem bent on completely eradicating risk from our lives. Whatever happened to natural selection? If you're not smart enough to recognize a potential life-threatening situation, should you really be allowed to procreate?

How does this affect the Bag Lady, you ask? Well, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has implemented a safety program. As far as the Bag Lady understands it, currently it is voluntary, but she is sure the government in it's infinite wisdom will soon force compliance. Here are a few of the high points from the article that the Rancher pointed out to her:

Establish clear visitation rules and post the rules in writing in a visible location.
--- This one cracks the Bag Lady up. She is already working on a sign, really.

Show visitors where you keep the fire extinguishers, first aid kit, eye wash station, and other emergency supplies.
---Eye-wash station? Really?? (Do any of you 'city folk' have an eye-wash station? You'd better start planning one, 'cause the Bag Lady doesn't want you to be caught flat-footed when the Safety Police come to your door.)

Clearly establish safe on-farm attire such as shoes instead of sandals, long pants, no loose strings, sleeves, etc. Provide water, insect repellent and sunscreen.
--- If you come to visit the Bag Lady, don't wear sandals. She would hate for you to drop a beer bottle on your toe.

Inform guests of the location of all restrooms and hand-washing stations on the farm.
--- plenty of trees around the Bag Lady's yard, and, depending on how dry the season is, there are a couple of dugouts, a hydrant by the barn, garden hose by the house. You may not want to wash your hands in the stock waterer. There's usually a lot of cow slobber in there. An alternative, of course, is to not pee on your hands. Or..... you can go to the house. It's pretty modern, and has toilets and running water that anyone with common sense could find.

Oh, wait.... there is no common sense anymore. As evidenced by this article, visitors to a working farm or ranch would have no freakin' idea where to find a bathroom.

Yes, the Bag Lady is poking a bit of fun at the Safety Industry, but she is also deeply concerned about its gathering momentum. What ever happened to personal responsibility? She knows in her heart that most adults would be aware of potential hazards on a farm or ranch..... wouldn't they? Stay away from those big machines with all the moving parts (and huge freakin' wheels!), don't try to pet that enormous bull snorting in the pen, and keep your fingers and toes out of places they don't belong. How simple is that?

The Bag Lady worries that she doesn't have enough ink in her printer to produce all the signs she would have to post, so, after much discussion, she and the Rancher have come up with what they think is the perfect solution, and plan to post this at the end of their driveway, right above the box containing the waiver forms.....


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting Ready

Winter is coming. The Rancher and the Bag Lady have been getting ready. The Rancher came home with this.....(which is half of the stock trailer, so that pile is about 10 feet long.)

With him splitting and the Bag Lady stacking, they spent a busy afternoon and turned it into this......

(which is two rows deep, although it's a little difficult to tell from the picture)
That pile is now a little bigger, because they weren't quite finished when the Bag Lady took the photo, so she spent a morning splitting and piling the remainder by herself because the Rancher was busy elsewhere.

This will definitely help keep them warm for at least part of the winter!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Autumn Re-cap

The Bag Lady composed a fabulously witty post whilst lying in bed last night waiting for sleep to come, but now that she's awake, she can't even remember the title. Sigh.

It's been a very busy autumn season around the ranch. Because of the cool wet summer, a lot of the regular ranch work had to be postponed. The last several weeks have been cool but dry, so she and the Rancher have been playing catch-up. On top of the regular fall work, they have been doing some maintenance that could easily have been done earlier in the summer.... if it hadn't been raining.

It's hard to believe that it's almost Halloween! What passed for summer this year passed pretty quickly. She and the Rancher winterized their holiday trailer yesterday, which feels like the day after they un-winterized it.

They sold their calves this week. She marvels at how fast they grew, because it feels as though they were just born about three weeks ago. (Oh, wait, one of them was! And no, he didn't go to the sale with the others.)

Amidst all the work these past few weeks, they did find time for some fun and entertainment. They had an out-of-town visitor who is quite an accomplished musician, so spent a fun weekend making music. Their visitor was even able to teach the Rancher, who has never actually played a musical instrument other than a stereo, how to play a few chords on the banjo!

(And they were having so much fun making the music that the Bag Lady forgot to take pictures, hence the rather odd photo of the instruments that were being tortured played.)
Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Photo Finish Friday - Firepit

The Rancher and the Bag Lady were invited to a barbeque recently. Their friend had just purchased a fire surround for his firepit.

Here is a picture of one panel of the surround.

Happy weekend!

(Photo courtesy of Harold)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Kitchen Stories

So. The Bag Lady made her stewed tomatoes the other day - here's a picture of all the yummy ingredients in the pan. Aren't the colours pretty?

She has been digging the last of the carrots, and wanted to share this carroty hug with you!

There have been some really strange-looking carrots coming out of the ground! Because of all the rain earlier in the season, she didn't get around to thinning the carrots as she should have, which has resulted in some closeness, obviously. And some of the carrots have grown strange-looking side shoots, probably due to the hard ground. But regardless of how funny they look, they taste wonderful. She just wonders what she's going to do with all of them. She has, so far, filled two 5-gallon pails, and still has half a row in the ground. Carrot soup, carrot cake, carrot souffle? She gave a huge bagful to her mother-in-law to share with her friends, but still has more than she really needs. Maybe next year she'll remember not to plant quite so many!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Out the Kitchen Window

The days are noticeably shorter, and the Bag Lady has been busy. Even though her garden, for the most part, drowned because of the deluge it received early in the summer, she still has enough produce for a lot of the canning she does. Although she had to buy garlic and onions, her tomatoes and peppers produced very well. She has already made one large batch of salsa, and has enough ingredients for another batch. Unless she decides to do something different..... She grew celery this year for the first time (bedding plants because the growing season where she lives is a little short for celery.) She has been amazed at the hardiness displayed by these plants.
It has dropped below freezing several times in the past few weeks, but the celery does not seem to have been affected in the least. And the flavour? Fabulous!

So.... she has quite a lot of celery to use, and has been pondering canning stewed tomatoes rather than making another batch of salsa. She could still use up the onions, garlic, some peppers, and, of course, all those tomatoes.... and she does already have a lot of salsa.

The stewed tomatoes combined with her home-grown beef would make fabulous spaghetti sauce, wouldn't it? Okay, that's what she'll do. She's glad she had this chat with you!

Oh, and here's the view from her kitchen window this morning!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pretend there is a picture of wild turkeys in this spot....

(Picture would be here, if Blogger would allow it!)

The Bag Lady is very thankful for everything in her life. She is going to spend the day cooking a turkey dinner, then sharing it with family and friends.

She hopes that all of you are having a wonderful day, even if it is not Thanksgiving where you live.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Recipe Day! Who Wants Cake?

The Bag Lady has been extraordinarily lazy busy lately. Between canning, preserving, gardening, cooking, working, and home renovations, she has scarcely had time to make shit up think of something to post on her sadly neglected blog.

She finally processed the last of the apples she brought home from a visit to her cousin. She ended up with a couple of cups of apple juice and 3 cups of applesauce. She searched the internet for a way to use the applesauce and discovered a recipe for an applesauce cake. She decided that the basic recipe sounded good, but it called for cocoa and she wasn't in the mood for chocolate (I KNOW! WTF??) so she set about making up her own recipe. She left out the cocoa and added some spices and ended up with a fabulous cake. Definitely a keeper.

Of course she will share it with you! Sadly, there is no picture because she forgot to take one and the cake is all but gone now. Two tiny pieces are all that remain.

Applesauce Spice Cake

Step One - pick some apples.

1/2 Cup oil
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 Cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ground ginger and ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Cups applesauce

3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Cup chopped, toasted pecans

Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Grease and flour 13" x 9" pan or two 8" square pans.
In large mixing bowl, combine oil and sugar and slightly beaten eggs.
Mix well.
In separate bowl, combine flour, spices, salt and baking powder.
Add flour mixture to oil/sugar/egg mixture, alternating with applesauce.
Mix until well-blended.

Pour into pan.

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans, sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350F for 30 - 35 minutes until top springs back when touched.

The Bag Lady served it with whipped cream, but it doesn't really need it (and actually, neither does she, but it was darned good!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photo-Finish Friday, Sunrise

The Bag Lady's world this morning. Pretty, isn't it?

Photo Finish Friday is the brainchild of Leah, at the Goat's Lunch Pail.

Monday, September 19, 2011


A neighbour came to the Bag Lady the other day with a problem. The cafe/caterer where she works routinely uses those big steam tables with the trays that hold enormous quantities of food, and they used a double oven mitt for handling the hot trays. The problem was that the double oven mitts were not quite long enough, and the neighbour wondered if the Bag Lady could manufacture some that were perhaps 6 inches longer. And could she make more than one set?

The Bag Lady said she would certainly try because she loves to sew and she loves a challenge. She dug through her fabric stash, considering and discarding several pieces... some fabric was too thin, some wouldn't stand up to the constant washing. She knew she had some batting that would work well - the kind that is quilted, with the heat-resistant silver backing - and she had plenty of cotton for lining. She finally stumbled upon some fabric that she had planned to use for a CartSmart Bag for herself. Of course, she already has several CartSmart bags, so she decided to sacrifice her cute fabric.

Here is the result....

One down, two to go!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Photo Finish Friday - Last Year

On this day last year, the Bag Lady and the Rancher (and their travelling companions) had arrived in Couer D'Alene, Idaho. This was the lake that day.

Photo Finish Friday is the brain child of Leah, at the Goat's Lunch Pail.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bridge on the Canal

This is a bridge on the Rideau Canal. Somewhere in Ottawa.

Isn't it a lovely sight?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jammin' (And Jellyin')

(Is anyone using the new Blogger interface?
The Bag Lady has been so busy with real life, she wasn't even aware they had changed it (in other words, she's probably the last person in Blogland to even know about it!)
She doesn't know yet how she feels about it, but it certainly is different - now that she's tried it, she is not impressed...... she can't make it do what she wants!
 If she could get Blogger to co-operate, she would tell you that these are only a few of the jars of jam and jelly she has produced this season, and that things are almost ready for her to move on to pickling and salsa. But Blogger isn't co-operating, so when she's finished with this post, she's pretty sure she will go back to the old interface, if allowed.)

This is what has been occupying the Bag Lady's time:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Garden Report

The Bag Lady is too embarrassed by the state of her garden to take any pictures to share with you, but she will admit that she is not going to be spending hours and hours harvesting the homegrown bounty. Her potatoes drowned. Her beets drowned. Her corn grew to the enormous height of about 8 inches. Her cucumbers didn't survive, either. She does have bean plants that are producing. The plants are about 6 inches high, but the beans are (seriously, she measured!) 10 inches long! Her turnips drowned, too.

For the first year in many, she has more lettuce than she knows what to do with, but not a hint of spinach. It's been a very strange year. Her peas drowned. The cabbage plants that survived the attack of the wild deer...... drowned. About the only things that didn't drown were the weeds. And the carrots. She has a lot of carrots.

On the other hand, due to the generosity of friends and relations, she has fruit. She has made raspberry jelly. And apple jelly. She made pluot jam. She has raspberry/apple jelly. She has half a pail of apples still to be dealt with, and a neighbour brought her a huge bag of crabapples just last night! So far, she has 42 jars of jam and jelly. If things continue at this rate, she would advise buying shares in sugar.

She heard through the grapevine that the high-bush cranberries are bountiful this year, so she might have to go berry-picking. She really likes high-bush cranberry jelly .... apparently, one can never have enough jelly! But there have been numerous sightings of cougars and bears lately, and bears really like high-bush cranberries, too.

The Bag Lady is hoping she will have enough tomatoes to make some salsa. She didn't plant as many tomatoes this year as she has in previous years, but thinks she will have enough for at least one batch of salsa. Her peppers and some of the tomatoes were in pots on her deck, so they escaped the deluge of rain that ruined the garden.

And she grew celery this year. She has never tried growing celery and is quite pleased that it seems to be doing well. She planted it in the tomato bed, which has better drainage than her garden, so it didn't drown. She may not be able to do much canning and preserving, but she can have salad!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Photo Finish Friday - Racing the Rideau

Well, okay, hardly racing, but this picture is a little blurry because the Bag Lady took it from a moving vehicle.
She kinda likes the effect, though.

Have a great weekend.

Photo Finish Friday is the brainchild of Leah over at the Goat's Lunch Pail.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ottawa Visited

In Ottawa, the Bag Lady stayed with her brother in his fabulous old house. The house was built in 1853, and has undergone many changes in its life. It started out as a single-family dwelling, but was eventually turned into a duplex.

The Bag Lady's brother has done many interesting things to it, and it is wonderfully decorated, with all manner of interesting and quirky things.

There's a little room just beyond the back entrance where he spends a good deal of time.....

And a beautiful built-in cupboard holding glass of all description:

Through the dining room to the living area....

And on to the front entrance hall:

Up the stairs to the second floor

past the library:

You come to the stairs to the third floor, where the guest room is located.

As you climb the stairs to the guest room, you pass the "memory cupboard":

Until you reach the cozy guest suite.

The memory cupboard contains, along with many other things, a photo of the Bag Lady's parents...... (her camera battery was dying, so the photo is blurry. Sigh.)

(Blogger liked the pictures so well, it uploaded 4 or 5 copies of each one, so the Bag Lady has spent a lot of time trying to fix this post!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Photo Finish Friday - Dry Island Buffalo Jump

Please click on it to enlarge the following picture for an explanation of the above picture!

Photo Finish Friday is the brainchild of Leah over at the Goat's Lunch Pail.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Photo Finish Friday - Look Up, Waaaay Up

(If you aren't Canadian, you may not get the reference to the Friendly Giant)

One of the many tall buildings in Chicago that block the sun (which, when it's 101F, is a good thing!)

Photo finish Friday is the brainchild of Leah, over at the Goat's Lunch Pail.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Random Chicago

Here are more pictures from the Bag Lady's trip. The Marilyn Monroe statue in Chicago.....

She found this store front fascinating - it is completely full of antique sewing machines! The Bag Lady didn't go inside, but she thinks it was a clothing store. (you may have to click on the photos to enlarge)...

There were thunderstorms a couple of nights during the Bag Lady's stay. One of the storms lasted well over two hours! She tried to take a picture of the storm, but it's blurry and doesn't really show the water cascading in sheets from the sky.

The day after the storm, the skies were clear and beautiful, and the Bag Lady took some pictures of the charming little lake at the resort where her conference was held.

There was a fountain....

And a family of ducks.

And the Bag Lady was surprised to see that the resort maintained a "kitchen garden", with onions and strawberries, etc, as well as this one....

The Bag Lady then traveled on to Ottawa to visit her brother. She will share some pictures of that part of her trip in another post.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Canadians Loose in Chicago!

The Bag Lady has returned from her sojourn to the east. She went on a business trip to Lincolnshire, Illinois, which is a hop, skip and jump from Chicago, so naturally, she had to see the city!

Her first view of the city was out the incredibly tiny window of the airplane as it banked for the approach into O'Hare airport.

After landing and getting settled into her hotel, she made arrangements with a fellow conference attendee to travel into Chicago the following day.
Bright and early the next day (well, okay, 8:30 or so, which is not all that early as far as the Bag Lady is concerned, but....) she and her traveling companion made their way by taxi to the nearest train station.

After an hour or so on the train, they arrived at Union Station.

They made their way on foot across the canal...

And the cowardly, chicken-hearted Bag Lady remained with her feet planted firmly on the ground while her companion rode up to the (glass-floored!!) observation deck of the Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower).

They then proceeded to stroll (at a rapid pace) to Michigan Avenue, known also as the Magnificent Mile. The Bag Lady snapped a few photos along the way, including this one of the Chicago Board of Trade building....

The woman the Bag Lady was traveling with (tagging along after?) had an agenda, and the next stop was the Art Institute of Chicago.

They spent a lovely hour perusing the art displayed therein (and enjoying the air conditioning) before they continued along the Magnificent Mile.

It was an incredibly hot day (101F, the hottest day of their visit), and the travelers stopped several times along the way to cool off in some of the shops they passed. But the Bag Lady's traveling companion had an agenda and was not to be deterred (American Girl - MUST have doll! Coach - MUST have purse! Another Coach outlet to pick up matching wallet! Must NOT stop and rest, or eat, or chat with the locals! Although the Bag Lady did insist on finding a souvenir shop in order to buy the Rancher a ball cap. She promised! And she is an equal-opportunity tourist - she bought him one of each from both the Cubs and the Sox.)

The Bag Lady was wearing an extremely comfortable pair of sandals, but still developed blisters on the soles of her feet! She and her companion the Dragon Lady finally reached their objective (well, the Bag Lady's objective - the only other thing she insisted upon seeing).........

The Drake Hotel!

From the Drake, they took a taxi back to Union Station and caught the train back to their hotel in plenty of time for the Bag Lady's traveling companion to attend a dinner that evening. (The Bag Lady, on the other hand, collapsed in her room with her feet on a bag of ice!)