Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feng Shui Consultation #3 – Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, Terri Perrin (from Fine Art of Intention Feng Shui) came over on this past Thursday for a consultation – this one was very specifically limited to the back yard and the home office.  We sat downstairs and had a quick catch-up on how things are and, after completing our conversation about the back yard, we headed upstairs to discuss what I could do with my home office.

The challenges in here are not as bad as I initially thought they might be.  The suggestions Terri had for this space were actually not all that huge!  I was quite surprised because, since I changed things around a couple of weeks ago, it’s felt really different for me energetically.

Obviously, I still need to paint this door:

This shelving unit needs to be tidied up some, and the top shelf should be cleared off and used more for ornaments and a plant right at the corner – something like maybe an ivy, or a fern, something that likes the light and will trail down with big round leaves.

This corner – where a set of necessary drawers are - is the travel sector, and would benefit from having some travel brochures or books in one of the drawers. The table has a drawer in it and Terri suggested I place my Bagua map inside the drawer – to provide full energy to the space.  The desk is in my career section – as is all of the computer paraphernalia – which is good.

This wall is my fame sector and Terri suggested I take the three masks and place them on the next wall over (where there is one lonely little mask all by herself) and replace them with “me” stuff – so I will have some of my achievement certificates framed and hang them along with the two medals I received for completing my two half-marathons.

And finally, this corner – Terri suggests a tall plant here – again, something with round leaves.  Jasmine’s bed will stay in this space – she does, after all, like to sleep in here when I’m working away at stuff on the computer.

So this is my “rainy day” project space. I will look for plants for this room at the same time as I look for hanging baskets for the back yard, but all of the other stuff needing to be done in here will happen on gray and rainy days and on evenings when walks and dinner are done. 

With love across the waters,

Friday, April 22, 2011

Feng Shui Consultation #3 – Part 1

Right… so you know how much I love lists? I have new lists and LOVE having lists to work on - and to cross things off of!

Terri Perrin (from Fine Art of Intention Feng Shui) came over on Thursday for a consultation discussion – this one was very specifically limited to the back yard and the home office.  We sat downstairs and had a quick catch-up on how things are and then we started to discuss what should be looked at and done in the back yard. I’ve done a little with it – and when Terri saw it on Thursday it was overcast and a little cooler, so we didn’t venture outside for the discussion…  So the list – not too terrible – and THIS one will actually be fun to work on since I don’t get all stressed out when shopping for garden stuff!  Yay!

Essentially, I need to bring in more height.  This means taking advantage of the three hanging basket hooks that are already there – and in another week or so I will be able to purchase some hanging baskets with which to start to accomplish this part.  Along the back fence – which looks like this at present:

This is my back-yard’s Fame sector, I need baskets with reds – this sector covers the fire element – so I was thinking about bright cherry reds and oranges.  In the centre, between the two posts where the baskets can hang, I am looking for a decorative sun motif to hang on the fence. 

To the right of this, in my relationships sector, this little garden bed is fine:

But over the composter, where there is, conveniently, another hanging-basket hook, I can hang a basket that has more trailing stuff – vines and such.  The bed, when flowering, will have pinks and purples in it, so Terri suggested I bring in some white over the composter – maybe something called Million Bells.

Further over, along this wall:

Terri suggested some stationary planters based against the wall – with Sweet Peas growing up a trellis here in order to bring in height and colour. I can shift the planter stone that’s currently sitting that the base of the fence in the centre of the back yard over to join the other one, and place a couple of plants on these ones – or a small pair of statues – whatever I like.  It’s really just to add shape and interest to the space. I also need to move the sand bags. They need to stay in the back yard - did I mention the flooding on Christmas Eve?  If not, here’s what THAT looked like:

Anyhow, the sand bags could be moved along the wall and out of sight a little along the side of the building.  That way, they are still there if needed, but also not quite as completely “in your face” visible at all times.

The last two suggestions involve putting these two shrubs into larger planter pots with castor wheels on them – to make it so they can be shifted around if and as needed, and then simply adding a two seat bistro set – metal and glass if I can find one – to make this into much more of a living space.

Oh - and I have already dealt with that little bed to the side - it now looks like this:

A key statement that Terri made, one which really resonated with me, is that the back yard should be thought of as an extension of the indoor living space. So with the weather warming up, I will be starting to plan out how and when I will be accomplishing these changes – and am VERY excited to see how this impacts both the yard, my future and how things feel currently!

Next blog I’ll talk about the changes suggested to the home office… this will be my “crap weather days” project for the next while.

With love across the waters,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Planning for Some Quiet Days…?

Jasmine had quite a long and traumatic day… After her early morning walk, she got taken to the veterinary office and LEFT there… she had a patch of fur shaved off of her front leg and a needle got stuck in her – that’s where they started all of the drugs. Once she was really relaxed, a big tube was shoved down her trachea and more drugs made her sleep. While she slept, her belly got shaved and scrubbed, and then her ear got tattooed.  Then she had a microchip inserted (with a honking BIG needle, I am told) in the back of her neck. After that, she got loaded onto her back on a “V” shaped table, and her belly got cut open and her ovaries were surgically removed.  After that, she got all sewn back up and more drugs were given to her – this time to control any pain that she may start to feel from all of the other stuff… Then, while she was still sleeping, her toenails even got trimmed – ALL of them!

She was VERY well taken care of by Doctor Saskia and Nurses Cris, Chris and Margaret. I am grateful to have such a fantastic clinic of staff available to me to look after my fur girl. I collected her from the Shamrock Veterinary Clinic around quarter to four this afternoon, at which time she was still a little dopey and tired, but as soon as she heard my voice she started making “Mummy, save me” noises.  I am told that she was a very good girl all day and that it was only when she heard my voice that the fussing started.

That’s my drama queen!

It’s now nearly twenty minutes to nine at night on Wednesday and she’s asleep on the floor beside me.  She’s been sleeping off and on since I got her home and, aside from one outside to pee as soon as I got her home, she’s been pretty prone and still.

The clinic provided me with both verbal and written instructions for the next few days and the next two weeks:  No off leash walks; no running; no jumping; no rough play; and no swimming; no baths: no rolling in anything that might necessitate a bath.  Essentially I am to keep her (as much as possible) dry, quiet and clean and to prevent from stretching her incision.  So this means that, for the next while, I will be sleeping with her in the guest bedroom (the bed is MUCH lower to the ground) and when I am at work, she will be shut out of my bedroom as her preferred sleeping space (while I am a work) is on my bed – which is VERY high off of the ground. We will be taking things very easy and spending time being quiet and relaxing.  I have the next two days blocked out as “unavailable” for work – I need to be certain she is recovering well.

Dad called around 6:00 tonight to check in on us and see how we are both doing. One comment he made was interesting.  I had noted how much the whole procedure cost – and that the insurance plan I have for her (through Pet Secure) was worth every penny.  I have a plan on her that costs about as much as the plan I have for myself does – and it covers many things including her spay.  The peace of mind that pet insurance gives me is worth every penny.  Should ANYTHING happen to her, we are covered and I don’t need to worry (much) about how much a procedure would cost.  Dad noted that Jasmine isn’t just a financial investment for me – that since the very start, since that first day I met her, she has been am emotional investment for me.  And a good one – she’s a one-in-a-million companion and worth anything I need to do for her.

Through the whole conversation with Dad, Jasmine was asleep on the sofa beside me – just close enough to be touching my leg – reassurance that I wasn’t far away if she needed me. 

My hand was on her hip the whole time – reassurance that she wasn’t far away, if I needed her. 

With love across the waters,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Planning for Feng Shui Consultation Number 3

Well, I’m gearing up for my next consultation – booked for Thursday of this week, the focus will be specific – home office and back yard.

As the weather has been gradually improving, I’ve been making changes to the back yard.  I have so far installed the composter, fenced off the “No Jasmine” zones (so that she can’t turn figure-eights in them) and planted herbs, hostas and flowers.  I have a few more touch ups I’d like to do – maybe a couple of hanging baskets (there are hooks on the fence line to use) and *something* has to be done about the lawn…

I’m also thinking about maybe getting a bistro set or maybe a lounge chair… so I can sit out there with coffee and a book and relax (post dog walk, of course) in the evening sunshine.

The home office is likely going to be still more work.  I just don’t know what to do here or how, but I know this is an important space in the house and I know it needs some help.

With love across the waters,

Monday, April 18, 2011


Feeling WAY better on Sunday, I elected to walk the dog.  I figured that if, once the dog walk was done, I was still feeling better (meaning: not coughing, headachy or feeling any other plague-related symptoms) I could stop at the garden centre on the way home and get some plants and “fencing” for the side garden bed.

The walk was good and although I was a LOT more tired when I finished my walk, the sun was shining brightly and I wasn’t coughing, headachy or feeling any other of the aforementioned plague-related ills.  I think Saturday’s nap and rest was exactly what I needed in order to kick the plague away before it was able to latch on to me and do any real harm.  

I took a new turn on the Pipeline walk and, at the end of the trail, found a gorgeous little clearing:

Headed back to the car, listening to the water roar past, I took these two pictures:

On the way home I did indeed stop at Art Knapp’s and pick up some more “fencing” as well as a small army of herbs (and some onions and sweet-pea vines) to plan in the side garden.  I then stopped at the pet store to get food for Miss Jasmine and then home to have some lunch.

My Mum is an amazing gardener. The gardens at their home are spectacular and something I hope, one day, to come close to… She has a really great eye for what plants should go in which places and she and my Dad have sculpted the yard into a real work of living art.  A couple of years ago Dad and my brother built Mum a potting shed.  To me it looks enchanted most of the time – the potting shed being where a lot of the magic starts.  They put in a pond with goldfish as well, and there’s a little space to sit & watch the fish if so inclined.  In fact, when I brought Jasmine up to meet them, the very first time, Mum met us out near the garden for the introduction.

My Grannie also had amazing gardens for years – well, up until the last few, that is… Out in Yellow Point, their property had a huge garden – I don’t remember a lot about their property any more (they moved a number of years ago) but I can remember that when you walked out one of the doors at what I always thought of as the front of their house, there was a huge garden off to the left. 

The last three summers or so, though, my Grannie despaired of her garden. It wasn’t doing well, and I can clearly hear her saying that this was it, the garden was on notice – that if it didn’t smarten up, she wasn’t going to do it again.  The following early spring, Grannie would tell me that her “sap was rising” and into the garden she would go.

I can understand the feelings that Mum has about gardening and that Grannie had – the sap rising - the desire to be out in the dirt, planting stuff and nurturing it into something amazing and glorious.  Sunday was most definitely a day of rising sap for me.  The sun was shining brightly and although it was a little on the cool side, out of the wind it’s pretty close to perfect for planting a garden.

First up on my list was to plant three of the sweet-peas at the trellis in front of the compost bin.  Once they take and really shoot out, it will be a nice little mask to the bin.  Those in, the next step was to dig up the soil in the “flower bed” and loosen it up in order to get it ready for the herbs.  I moved one of the paving stones (that were, I think, initially used to hold planter pots) into the centre of the little garden patch. I needed something on which to stand, not only while I was working on Sunday’s project, but also to stand on when I am weeding and then when I start to harvest.

This is more of an herb garden than anything else. Along the wall I planted the other three sweet-pea plants, and yes, I planted four little Spanish onion plants in there, but the rest of what was planted was herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, and thyme.   I had planter pots when I was living on Jersey & I was able to grow all of these with great success – having them in a garden bed will just give them better ability to root out and grow.  At harvest, I have a food drier that will be put to good use.  Fresh, home-grown herbs, carefully grown, picked and used as needed through the summer and autumn, and then picked and dried for winter use – I can’t think of too many more satisfying things!

After all was said and done, I turned on the hose-pipe and watered the beds.  The Peonies and Hostas are coming along well and now that the fencing is all up and tied in place (hopefully that will hold it – otherwise I’m likely to be making another trip back out to the garden place to get some stakes…) it’s actually looking like a habitable and useable space!

I'll get out tomorrow afternoon and take some sunshine pictures of the changes...

With love across the waters,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spay Date

Wednesday of this coming week is the appointment for Jasmine’s spay. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling some anxiety over it all.  What has me concerned? Well, Belgian Shepherds are very low-fat dogs and sometimes anaesthetic-related procedures for them are tricky.

When I booked the appointment for her spay I made certain to ask which of the veterinarians in my clinic have experience with sight-hound spays – and Jasmine is booked in with one of them.  So that’s a relief.

In recent months the procedure also changed – still invasive, the surgical incision is smaller and they are now only removing the ovaries.  It doesn’t shorten the anaesthetic time though.

She goes into the clinic around 8:30 in the morning and I’ll be leaving work early that afternoon to pick her up around 2:00 in the afternoon.  I suspect that, until she’s home and through the pain (and I’ve made it through to the other side of that first night home post surgery) I’m going to be feeling anxious…

With love across the waters,

Super Easy Roasted Chicken!

It’s official – I love love LOVE Mark Bittman.  I also love his book How to Cook Everything: 2000 Simple Recipes for Great Food.  You may recall that the book was recommended to me by my friend Nan (at Yambo: Yet Another Mommy Blog) and that from it I had pulled the granola and bread recipes that I am now making on a regular basis.

Last night I pulled it out in order to roast a whole chicken.

What I especially love about his recipes is that he not only gives you a recipe, he gives you a list of variations you can make – and so the recipe I ended up using was for herb roasted chicken and oh my goodness, it could not be easier!

Anyhow, it starts with a cast iron frying pan (yes, you read that correctly!) and a VERY hot oven – 450*F. The instructions say to heat the pan and then just place the bird, breast up, in the pan when it’s hot. After half the cooking time is done (25 minutes in this case) I spooned a mixture of olive oil and herbs over the bird and then put it back into the oven and cook for another 25 minutes. The recipe actually calls for fresh herbs, but courtesy of my girlfriend Megan who is currently living in Paris (and posting about it in her blog, Postings from Paris) I have a bag of Herbes de Province – and so THIS is what I used.

When I put the bird into the pan it started making a delicious sizzling noise right away.  Amazingly enough, nothing stuck to my cast iron frying pan - clean-up was ridiculously easy.  I'm guessing that this is because my cast iron frying pan has been cured and well cared for over the years.  I used my BBQ fork straight into the cavity to lift it out of the pan and then spooned out most of the drippings and grease and made the gravy right in the frying pan - no additional dirty dishes!  Usually, when I use a roasting pan, I have to make the gravy in a different pot.  If I had been making a lot, or cooking a larger bird, I can see how the cast iron pan might not be the best utensil to use, but for a smallish bird, this is pretty much perfect.

The fast hot cook made me a GORGEOUSLY juicy bird – with LOADS of drippings (which I have saved for gravy) and sweet juicy meat.  Add to it a baked yam, carrots and some gravy and I had myself a wonderful dinner.  Leftovers include a fully made plate and some breast and thigh meat with gravy for hot chicken sandwiches, and the carcass went straight into the crock pot with lots of water to make chicken soup stock for my next few batches of soup - it was cooking on the low setting overnight and this morning the house smells wonderful.

I wonder what kind of desserts he has in there…?

With love across the waters,