We are back in Canada, safe and sound. Three cats, three dogs and a carload of baking/cooking equipment accompanied us on our nine-hour journey. Much to our relief, Clementine seems to have outgrown her car-sickness. We used to begin the journey with her on my lap, enabling quick action to deal with matters, but this became very awkward as she topped 60 lbs. But “she’s a big girl now,” and much of her earlier nervousness has passed. 

Nervous, you say? Not so much!

I’d now describe her as pretty darned confident, chasing Churchill into the water on one of our last days in the Cape. Dogs are allowed on the beach between the hours of 8 pm and 8 am, and we tried to get them down for an early morning walk when the tide was low.

They loved it. Every morning as we snapped on their leashes, they would quiver with anticipation as we headed down the driveway. Which way? Left and beachward? Or right, on the boring street walk? Alleluia! To the beach!!!

Churchill is crowing with delight. Row-row-ROW!!!

Before grabbing the ball and bringing it back to be thrown again.

…coming up on the outside, Clementine races to overtake Churchill, who has held the lead…

Getting tired now. All that running is hard work.

Time to go. Let’s start walking back; we’ll dry off a bit along the way, then have a nap in the side hall. Mum will vacuum up the mountain of sand later.

Taylor doesn’t do the beach romp any more. At nearly 15, we are a bit concerned that a vigorous hip check from one of the younger two would do some real damage. Her appetite is as keen as ever, though. There she is giving us the side-eye beside her litter-mate, Burton, who passed away around this time a year ago.

She’s as cheeky and engaged as ever, racing in from the back yard and up the three steps into the house. We can’t believe it and count ourselves very fortunate that she’s enjoying such robust senior years.

Back at the ranch, we’ve settled in for our two weeks of quarantine. It’s difficult to be patient with the confinement, as we are eagerly looking forward to reuniting with family and friends, but the time will go quickly, and there is no point in getting wound up about it. The upside is it gives us plenty of time to get recalibrated and put both the garden and house to rights after our extended sojourn in the Cape. 

So far, I’ve torn the kitchen apart, overhauled the pantry, scrubbed, reorganized and put everything back together. Is it just me, or do you wonder why you didn’t rearrange things before? Dundee’s treat cupboard has been repurposed. All the food items have been moved to the side hall pantry cupboard. I used to go mad, bent over, scrambling to find various containers of fruits and nuts (they used to reside on the top shelf where you see Dundee).

That cupboard now holds mixing bowls, measuring cups, roasting and braising pans.

The mixing bowls on the top right are a new acquisition. They’re from the “In the Forest” series by Mason Cash; from large to small, they depict a Fox, Bear, Owl and a Hedgehog. Who could resist? The picture below is from the Silver Mushroom in the UK.

King Arthur Baking usually sells the complete set, though the bear is currently out of stock. I got mine from Redbud House.

Last year for Christmas, my daughter, Kirsten, gave me the hedgehog measuring cup set you see below. The In the Forest Series is keeping them company nicely.

The new home for dry goods is a pantry cupboard, with pull-out drawers, glimpsed on the far left of the photo below. It forms part of the side hall/butler’s pantry that runs between our kitchen and dining room. The dining room is through the door between the cat clock and the lighted cupboard with all the glassware. 

The pantry cupboard now contains pasta and rice in the top drawer; flours and sugars in the second drawer; legumes, canned goods, jams & jellies on the third; dried fruits and nuts on the fourth. The bottom drawer is for overflow, granola and packaged goods like crackers. 

All the cake and cookie decorating paraphernalia have taken up residence in two drawers in the butler’s pantry – the top two on the far right in that bank of drawers.

The shallow top drawer holds piping tips, food colouring, flavours, spatulas and basic shaped cookie cutters.

The second, deeper drawer holds cupcake liners and toppers, sprinkles, squeeze bottles and disposable piping bags.

I moved baking sheets and cooling racks from their awkward, overhead location (which used to scare my daughter Kirsten to death), replacing them with much less frequently used tart tins and cupcake pans.

The rimmed baking sheets and racks are now down below the counter, beside the cutting boards.

That left enough room in the shallow drawer below the ovens for cake and bread pans.

The deep cupboard on top of the ovens now holds seasonal cookie cutters and bulky bundt pans. I couldn’t get the last 6″ cake pan into the bottom drawer, so put it up there, too. Separating it from its mates made me a bit twitchy, but I persevered. 🙂 

That left the spices, oils, vinegars, flavourings, leavenings and thickeners. 

Most of the spices fit in the top section of the pull-out cabinet that you see above. I love the square spice tins from the Spice Trader in Toronto and was very disappointed when they switched to round ones. Why do they have to mess with a good thing?  The square ones don’t roll around but sit nicely on their flat bottoms.

This small cupboard (bottom right in the photo below) is directly above the pull-out drawer.

It holds the rest of the spices, salts and peppers.

Glenn has been busy with the outer reaches of our back yard, dealing with the seeded garlic mustard, which thankfully is much, much lighter than last year. We were dreading the task of clearing the dratted stuff, as last September saw us clearing and shifting 75 wheelbarrow loads; the dogs were coming in utterly breaded with the seeds. We’ve gotten off very lightly this year, thanks to a previous clearing by the gardening people. Whew! Small mercies.

The hard copy of Entertablement – The Four Seasons has arrived at Amazon and is being uploaded for shipment. It should only be a few more days before it will be available for shipping. Thanks for your patience, everyone. I’ll let you know as soon as it hits the shelves. The Kindle version is already available. The Kindle app is free, so for those of you with iPads, the digital version has all the colour pictures.

I leave you with Dundee, who is quite happy to be home. All that fuss and bother, cleaning and scrubbing. Yuck. Just give me treats and somewhere to nap,

Preferably snuggled up to Taylor.

We’re almost in the middle of September, with Labour Day behind us and the kids back to school in various forms. I’m looking forward to taking some long walks with the dogs once we are out of quarantine. Meanwhile, I’ll get my exercise gardening and continuing with the fall reorg and turnover.

Have a good weekend, all.