After a not-so-restful night (thunder-and-lightning DID keep us awake, unfortunately... And so did Wee Three, who serenaded us all in her sleep at 4am with loud, tuneless humming), we awoke "for good" at 7am on Saturday morning, and set off for one of the highlights of our weekends home: The Stratford Farmer's Market.
It was there that we discovered a brand, new TREAT amongst the throngs of vendors that crowd the grounds... And that treat is: "Brit's Frits". Brit is a lovely English lady with a broad accent that matches her cheerful personality. And I tell you, people: the heavenly creations she concocts in her little shop-on-wheels are some of the most scrumptious things I have ever. eaten. in. my. life.
THESE are REAL Apple Fritters.
That is to say: honest-to-God, thickly sliced pieces of Ontario-grown APPLE, that have been coated in sweet batter, then quickly deep-fried, and generously sprinkled with sugar.
Let us just say this: I could have eaten the entire truck-load. Yes, as if I needed any MORE enticement, the Stratford Farmer's Market has proven, once again, that there is no better place to find GOOD FOOD.
Once the children had been provided with their requisite cookies-on-a-stick (Wee Three manged to drop two of them on the floor, one right after the other, as they were still so soft and fresh-out-of-the-oven), we went off in search of beautiful cheeses and produce and summer sausage, which would later become our dinner. The Ontario asparagus is "in season" right now, so I bought armfuls to take home with us, with the plan to make a delicious soup this week.
And then, we hit the downtown. The kids wanted to visit the amazing toy shop, and, of course, our own personal "Mecca": Chocolate Barr's.
But, the highlight of my day yesterday was a leisurely stroll through the amazingly imaginative gardening shop: "Anything Grows". (For all who are interested: this is currently a link to their online news-letter, which I highly recommend for anyone obsessed with gardening. Their website is under construction, but will soon be up-and-running, so bookmark this link, and keep checking back!!)
It is a little jewel of a place, nestled just in-behind the city's main street, and tucked around a quiet corner... but the treasures found within are astounding. The owners have managed to gather all the most useful, most attractive, and most creative gardening tools and ornaments imaginable, and put them for sale in one place. It. Is. Heaven. And luckily, they even have a very sweet, very agreeable dog on the premises, who amused the girlies by allowing them to pat him while their mother examined every single article in the shop, and made selections.
I found a wonderful brass plate, that will soon be screwed on to the back door. The message to all who enter my home?
I found a wonderful wooden tool that will be just the thing for planting bulbs in the fall, and even for setting out plants in our new vegetable patch this spring:
This is called a "dibber". It is used to poke holes in the ground, in preparation for planting... It is made of hand-turned Canadian hardwood, comes in three different sizes, and sports inch-markings on the side, so that you know how deeply you will be setting out your plants and seeds. I was told that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, farmers used a long-handled dibber of metal or wood to plant wheat and other crops. One person would walk backwards with a pair of dibbers making holes about four inches apart. A second person would drop a seed into each hole and fill it in. It would take two days to plant an acre. Whew. I now have even MORE respect for my maternal ancestors...
And this? Is the "Garden Bandit". It is like a miniature version of an old-fashioned garden hoe, and cuts weeds off at the roots. I can't WAIT to get home and use it in one flower bed in particular... The one that is positioned directly underneath where a bird-feeder hung all last winter (oh, the foolishness... Oh, the WEEDS... What. Was. I. Thinking??!) I've no doubt, I'll have all those dratted erroneous sprouts cleaned up in a trice with my purple-handled Garden Bandit. Because I've got a "thing" about purple...
And, last but not least, LOOK at the Morning Glory seeds I found:
These are from the Livingston Seed Company, and called "Picotee Blue".
I have never seen anything like it. We'll get the seeds going in a little covered indoor tray, and then set the plants out to climb up one of our side-fences. I can't WAIT to see these beautiful blossoms!
After all that shopping, we slung our purchases into the trunk of the Loser Cruiser, and plugged the parking meter for another hour, so that we could go on a paddle-boat ride:
The local swan population is currently "nesting", and so rather than risk our lives trying to sneak up and take a peek at them on land (because, swans may be silly, but they can also be extremely violent if they feel at all threatened...) we decided to try and catch sight of their hiding spots from the water, as the boat bobbed by.
According to the boat operator, there are currently two nests:
One in a small, enclosed area that the Parks and Recreation board has isolated exclusively for "swans-only" usage... (A bit blurry, sorry, the boat was in-motion at the time, and Wee Three was tugging at my arm, clamoring for me to "SEE???!!")
And one here, at the foot of a very popular bridge. Strange choice of residence, perhaps, but apparently the pair come back and make it their "home" year-after-year.
After lunch, we headed to the park for a good, long swing...
And a trip over-the-bridge to see the little water-fall. This area of the park makes a gorgeous spot for photos-- there are usually bridal parties lined up, waiting to use it every fine weekend of the summer. But, we were lucky enough to have it all to ourselves, and I was able to snap a few particularly lovely, "sisterly" photos of the girlies...
When they weren't running away from me, of course.
It truly is a slice of heaven here, my home-town...
Dandelions and all.