Reading Harry Potter

 

I’ve been procrastinating about reading the Harry Potter series of books, by J.K. Rowling,  for ………. well, ever since they’ve been published.  “Too busy” or “Gardening to do” or “too tired” – I’ve had every excuse under the sun!  And I don’t know why – I absolutely LOVE the Harry Potter movies.  We’ve watched them over and over again for years now.  But I’ve just never gotten around to reading the actual books even though my daughter Nellie and my sister Betty have urged me to for years.  We’ve got several copies of each book too so I have NO excuse, none.  It is true that my eyes tire more easily these days……

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

My daughter Nellie to the rescue!  She offered to read Harry Potter to ME!!   I used to read to the children when they were young –  Berenstain Bears books, Dr. Seuss books, even reading Star Wars to young Marty every night for a bedtime story.   I can’t remember anyone reading me a story.  Nellie  read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, (the first book in the series)  to me in just a few days.  It’s pretty hard to stop when you get going reading/listening to such an amazing book!  The second book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  , was equally fascinating and took only a few days to get through.  I must admit, I’ve been SO relaxed listening to Nellie read to me every afternoon, that I have fallen asleep ~ I don’t mean to, honest!  Sometimes I even ‘tuck her in’ when she goes to bed and just happen to stay so she will read more to me!

Hogwarts Express Train

Hogwarts Express Train

The book that we are on now is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire , the fourth in the series.  THIS book is twice as thick as the other ones that Nellie’s read over the past few weeks.  My imagination has just soared listening to young Harry’s adventures as a wizard student at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Like all teenagers, he has best friends, Hermione and Ron, who see him through.  And of course, a good story wouldn’t be great without a villian – Lord Voldemort a.k.a. the Dark Lord or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named or You-Know-Who. I LOVE it!!

Hogsmeade @ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogsmeade @ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Last year I went to Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida just to see ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ (you can read about it here).  It brought these books to life and I can’t help thinking about this when Nellie is reading.

It’s time to post this story because Nellie is going to resume reading to me again!

Harry Potter books

Harry Potter books

Yin Yang Weather

It’s cold and rainy today.  For the second day in a row, I’ve had to make a fire in the wood cookstove because it felt so cold and damp in the house.  It was about 5 degrees celsius (41 F) outside when I woke up today and yesterday PLUS ‘wind chill’ factored in to make it feel even colder!  It was a cool, sweater-wearing 15C (59F) in the house.   I don’t EVER remember making a fire inside in June!

 Cookstove

Cookstove

In fact, a week ago we had record breaking hot temperatures of 40C (104F) with the humidex.  The Weatherman said that when it’s hot and damp it feels even hotter (humidex factor)  but when it cold and damp it feels colder (wind chill factor).  I waited to put my indoor plants outside on the back deck until last week when the weather warmed up and the cool May temperatures left making it feel more like summer.  But alas, it was just temporary I guess.  I’m not too worried though since I leave these spider plants out until frost at the end of September.  In my garden, I haven’t seen any of my bean plants sprouting so I’m wondering if it’s too damp and cool for them and they’ve rotted – I may have to replant……… again.  And my poor tomato plants………. they are a sad looking lot.  I started them inside from seed in April so I might have to break down and buy a few more replacement plants.  My Sweet Potatoes sprouts have rooted and are still indoors waiting for the ground to warm up.  This is my ‘experiment’ plant this year as it’s the first time I’m attempting to grow it.  My reference is my favourite gardening book The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook by Cam Mather from http://www.aztext.com/gardening_book.html

My favourite gardening book

My favourite gardening book

Yesterday I made soup since I just felt it matched with the cold, rainy day.  The recipe can be found here https://grammomsblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/chicken-vegetable-soup/ .  It is comfort food at this time of year……

Today my two granddaughters (9 and 7 years old) are here but we won’t be doing any outdoor activities in this cold rain.  On a brighter day, we could have fed the Koi in the pond or gone fishing in the river or gone for a walk.  But today we’ll spend the day reading Harry Potter, watching movies, or playing with their stuffed animals that they brought over with them.  My daughter Nellie crochets – http://www.etsy.com/shop/theBlackLory?page=2  and she made them a little mermaid  which they are playing with while they watch The Little Mermaid ll movie.

So I guess I’ll just have to go with the flow since there’s not much I can do about the weather anyway……

Bundle of Herbs

Bundle of Herbs for Soup

Zucchini – Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I thought that it was about time that I posted another recipe.  I just finished eating a piece of my freshly made Zucchini – Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing so I figured that this recipe would be the one.  Now that summer is here, there should be lots of zucchinis and carrots grown locally either in your own garden or another’s.  One zucchini plant doesn’t take up alot of room in a large pot on the patio or in a flower garden or in your vegetable garden.  Its leaves are large and help shade the plant.  I grow the common green zucchini as well as a yellow zucchini.  During the summer, I try to pick the young zucchinis when they are about 15-20 cms (6-8 inches) long but I’ve been known to miss one and find it in the fall grown almost to the size of my arm!  I freeze the multitude of extra zucchini, grated, and in one cup sizes for use during the winter (but I always drain it first after it thaws out).

This cake is a meal in itself:  it has all the components of the Canada Food Guide –  Fruits and Vegetables (zucchini, carrots, pineapple); Cereal group (whole wheat flour); Milk and Milk alternatives group (cream cheese) ;  and Meat/Alternatives (eggs).  Yup, it’s my excuse for dessert.

Zucchini Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing

Zucchini Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing

So without further ado,  here’s the recipe:

Zucchini Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

In a large bowl, mix together thoroughly :

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1  1/2 teaspoons of Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Salt

2 heaping teaspoons Cinnamon

Add:

3/4 cup oil (I use Canola)

3/4 cup honey or other sweetener like sugar

4 eggs

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained  (I usually add the entire 19 oz. can and drink up the drained pineapple juice)

Mix well together.  You don’t need an electric mixer to do this, just use a spoon.

Pour into a greased (and lightly floured) 9 X 13 inch pan and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes.   Cool completely for about 3-4 hours.  Leave it right in the pan and top with Cream Cheese Icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

1 package of cream cheese (250 grams) – beat well with an electric mixer

Add:

1-2 tablespoons butter (NOT margarine!)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla, if you have some

1/2 cup or so of icing sugar

Beat well until smooth and spread on top of the Zucchini Carrot cake.

Cover and refrigerate or eat.

The Jungle of Taman Negara

 

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed reading the stories written by my son about his travels around the world.   So I thought it was about time I shared one of them for my blog readers to enjoy (with his permission).  I hope to post more stories that he has written about his travelling adventures.  Today’s piece is about their experience in a wild jungle of Malaysia:

“After a long trip by bus from the Cameron highlands in west Malaysia we stood by the wide brown river that lead into the jungle. Not just any jungle, Taman Negara, one of the oldest jungles on earth.

Malaysia Jungle © Marty Mellway

Malaysia Jungle

After gathering our things we climb into a long thin boat with the other travellers heading up the river toward the park headquarters. There were 4 of us travelling together at this point. We were off at once, flying up the river into the unknown. On either side, great trees soared, exotic birds called, our eyes were wide searching for movement at the banks. We all know under those dark trees countless eyes were watching us roar past. Elephants, tigers, bison, snakes, spiders, leeches, monkeys, boars, giant ants. After three hours through the jungle on the boat, we arrived at the park headquarters and the small riverside town of Kuala Tembeling. We set up in one of the few hostels and packed it in. 

We awoke early in the morning excited to get across the river and into the jungle. Leech proof socks on, into the boat, and away we go. We crossed the river by a small motor boat for 1 ringgit (about 30 cents) and headed towards the park headquarters. After gathering some information there, we headed off down the path to get our first taste of the jungle. Only 100 meters into the jungle we spotted some beautiful blue ground birds with blue faces. It didn’t take long before we encountered the giant ants which were, well, giant. Some of them were an inch long – each body segment the size of a pea and pinchers that looked like they packed a nasty bite. We saw leeches soon after but our socks and boots seemed to be holding up well. We wandered down many paths until the distant thunder warned us of the afternoon rains which come around 2 p.m. everyday like clockwork. Its called a rainforest for a reason. Everyday we awoke early and took a new route through the jungle, the diversity of insects was what really amazed us. At first we were excited about elephants and tigers, but we never could have imagined all the incredible and sometimes terrifying insects. 

Giant Insects © Marty Mellway

Giant Insects

 

Jungle Insect © Marty Mellway

Jungle Insect

 

Beautiful Insects © Marty Mellway

Beautiful Insects

Nearing the end of our trip and only having spotted one deer, we decided we wanted to go deeper into the jungle and stay there overnight. We organized to stay alone in a hide high in the trees but we would have to trek to get there.  My partner wasn’t feeling well so she stayed behind, it was just me and Christina. We took another boat 1 hour down the river and trekked from there into the jungle. The trek was hard mostly because we had to bring all our food and our sleeping mats. The hide was about 20 meters high and had a good view of a clearing with a salt lick to attract animals. We arrived to the hide early on the first day and spent all afternoon staring out at the empty clearing watching for any sign of movement. Just knowing that at any moment a jungle tiger or elephant might walk out was very exciting. We kept watching as the light faded. With every passing minute the darkness grew and with it the sounds of night. I can’t even begin to describe the sounds of a jungle at night but I’m sure we are meant to have an innate fear of these sounds because even though I had never heard many of the sounds they were unsettling to say the least. Into the evening we kept watch with a big flash light. At one point we were sure we heard a cat of some kind but we couldn’t see anything. Eventually we went to sleep, or at least tried – on the ceiling only 3 meters away I could see this giant spider bigger than my hand and even though it wasn’t moving I was sure the moment the light went out he was coming for me. I think I checked to see if he was still there with my flash light every 20 mins for the first 2 hours. Each time praying he would still be there.” 

 

Jungle Nomad © Marty Mellway

Jungle Nomad

 

 

 

 

 

 

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