Gone Fishin’

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It is time for vacation here at The HomesteadGone Fishin_July From Sunday, June 30th to Sunday, July 7th I will be incommunicado.

There will be no posts, no pictures, no stories,
no gardens, no critters, no yummy recipes.

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

So enjoy the virtual peace and quiet for the next week
and I will be back bright and early on July 8th to hound you all
about the GangUp Challenge… which will be due that evening!


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Next Weeks Menu

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It is time for another Long Weekend in Canada!
This coming Monday marks our Country’s 146th Birthday.

Pretty much half the population of Southern Ontario will jam the 3 major highways heading north on Friday afternoon, all desperate to escape the city and relax in their quiet, lakeside settings with plenty of food, fun and frivolity (and beer too).

We are no different, except we will be leaving at the crack of dawn Friday to avoid the ‘Indianapolis 400′….better known as Highway 400 heading north from Toronto to Barrie.  The worst stretch of highway for traffic in the summertime on Friday afternoons.  It soon becomes a parking lot of hot, tired, cranky parents with ill-tempered children whining ‘Are We THERE YET?!’ over and over.  Parents will down a two-four of beer once there to calm down from the drive and the kids will run amuck in the lakes screeching at the sight of leaches while trying to catch minnows.

Aw yes, a good ‘ol Canadian long weekend makes getting there worthwhile.

From My Family to Yours, I hope you all enjoy a Safe & Happy Holiday Weekend!

maple leaves green frame


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How Does My Garden Grow?

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Pretty darn good actually.

At home and at the Homestead, both of my gardens are bursting out all over.

In no particular order, here are some random shots taken over the weekend..

Tomatoes Beets Carrots Serrano Chile Romaine Romaine Lettuce Radishes Radishes & Carrots Peas Oregano & Thyme Mesclun Lettuce Lettuce & Carrots Herbs Duckies Cottage Peas Cottage Herbs clematis Cherry Tomatoes Beets Beefsteak Toms Basil

I hope you enjoyed a walk through my gardens,
sorry there wasn’t anything for you to pick yet (except for the herbs),
but soon enough there will be produce busting out all over!

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Battle Of The HeadBands

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Summer is finally here and as I cruise the highways and country roads on my way to various destinations, with the sunroof and windows wide open, tunes cranked and my sunglasses on…. I soon find the wind whipping my hair into my eyes, instantly making me curse my long locks, swearing when I get home I will grab the scissors and lop 8 inches off.  I spend more time driving with one hand while my other is constantly pushing hair from my face.

Major pita.

I have had many types of headbands over the years, and nothing seems to stay in place. elastic hair bands
They all slide out of my thin hair within minutes of putting them on.  From hair bands made out of the same material as hair elastics…. or the plastic bands with the teeth circa the 1960′s, Hair Bandto the funky banana clips of the 80′s, nothing seems to be able to keep my hair under control and not give me an instant headache from the pressure they exert on my head.  By the way, how many of you gals still have at least one banana clip hiding at the back of the linen closet? banana clip hair band

I could wear my cowboy hat, but that would just make me want to head to the nearest dude ranch, which would lead me to wanting another horse, which would lead to my husband divorcing me after I bought one.
So the cowboy hat really isn’t an option.

Last week I finally did something about it.  While I had my sewing machine out to do my Rejuvenated Flip Flop Project, I decided to make a headband out of leftover material (of which I have oodles of) so I can at least drive and be able to see Bambi before he jumps out in front of me and thus avoid making him into a hood ornament on my car.DSC09969_A

I free-styled a pattern about 30″ long and 3″ wide in the middle, tapering down to 1″ at both ends so it could be tied into a knot at the back of my neck.

Thus keeping the hair out of my eyes so I can keep my eyes on the road.


Now all the Bambi’s (and Thumper’s) out there are safe…from me anyway.

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Rejuvenated Flip Flops Project

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Last weeks Flip Flop Fashion Fad post was a teaser, like those trailers for every blockbuster movie that ever comes out touting it as THE must-see movie of the year.

My Flip Flop Project is no different.

I bet you were impatiently waiting all weekend for it too.

After Beta testing the flip flops fashion fad last week, I decided there had to be a better way to make these straps.  The on-line tutorial I found called for way too much fabric and the straps and knots ended up too bulky.  I like thin and streamlined straps.  Plus, there were no finished edges, so once you cut the fabric, all the edges started fraying while I was attaching the straps to the flip flops.  I was covered in threads from head to toe.  Annoying to say the least, not to mention I had to get the vacuum out afterward to clean up myself and the sewing room.  The finished project was messy looking and not at all attractive.

If the flip flops were for Bigfoot they would have been fine, but for my little size 6 feet, they were overpoweringly h-u-g-e.  For those wanting to see the first pair I made, look here.

Hence my desire to make them a little classier and refined.  This project was super easy and done in an hour from start to finish, my kind of project as I hate things that take forever.

Here is what you will need for this project:

A standard pair of Flip Flops (Michael’s Craft Store sells flip flops for $2.00!)
1/4 meter scrap fabric and matching thread (Scrounge the remnant bins at your local fabric shop, 75¢ is what I paid for mine)
**Note, do not use stretchy fabric!  Preferred
fabric should be cotton or polyester

Sewing machine
Glue gun
Knitting needle
Large ruler
Fabric pencil


DSC09821First, snip the plastic straps from the flip flops

DSC09872With fabric folded in half lengthwise, measure and mark strips of
fabric 26″ long and 2 1/2″ wide

DSC09873Cut your strips, you will need two per flip flop (I cut extra as I wasn’t sure how many I was going to use as I was still in the design stage at this point).

DSC09877Fold each strip lengthwise (right sides together) and pin.

DSC09887Stitch a 1/2″ straight seam, followed by a 3/8″ zigzag seam (to stop fabric from fraying)

DSC09892Trim the seam allowances with pinking shears.

DSC09894Turn each strap right side out by folding one end out and over, then insert a knitting needle (not the pointy end) under the folded over edge.

DSC09900Pull the fabric end down while pushing the knitting needle up through the tube.

DSC09904Voila! straps are now right side out.

DSC09909Snip the ends of each strap diagonally so they will fit easier into the holes of the flip flops.

DSC09911Poke 2 straps through the toe hole (use the knitting needle to help if your fabric is thicker)

DSC09918Tie a knot and tighten down as much as you can.
Don’t worry about the bulk of the knot, it will sit into the divot of the flip flop.

DSC09921Snip the ends off close to the knot.
Twist the 2 straps together for 3 rounds and do a half knot to secure

DSC09926Insert the other end of the straps into the 2 other holes.  Try the flip flops on and snug the straps up fairly tight (the fabric will stretch some and you don’t want them too loose).

DSC09927Tie a loose knot and then test drive the flip flops by
walking around in them to ensure they are tight enough.

DSC09932Double knot each strap tightly, pulling on the straps from both sides of the flip flops to ensure it is tight and secure.

DSC09934Cut off the tails and then using your glue gun, dab some glue into the divot before snugging the knots back into each hole.  Do the same for the toe hole.

Let the glue dry and Voila!
You now have a rejuvenated pair of flip flops that will NOT give you blisters!

DSC09946_ADSC09940_A DSC09938_ATotal cost: $2.75 for the pair.
What is even better is if you get bored with the fabric,
it will be easy to swap the straps out for a new fabric choice.

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Guess What Time It Is?

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It is GangUp Challenge Time!

It has been far too long since we have done one of our cooking competitions.  Almost 6 months to be exact, (view last posted GangUp here) and I have been asked by a few folks in the last little while wondering WHEN the next one was going to be.

Well, wait no further.  The time has come to flex your culinary muscles and come up with a unique dish from the list of ingredients below.

The rules are the same, and for any newbies to the Challenge out there, here is how it works:

Rules & Reg’s:  There are 3 items that are in addition to the list of 10 ingredients that are ‘standard pantry staples’ that you are allowed to use.

They are Water, Salt & Pepper

You can modify the ingredients with substitutions as follows:

1. You can either use all 10 ingredients as is, or add 2 ingredients, or remove 2 ingredients or add one/delete one.  But the changes made must equal 2.

2. You can make one dish out of them or two or three, but they all must be part of the same meal i.e. entrée/side dishes.

3. Once you have created your masterpieces of the culinary world, email me a photo of your dish, as well as what ingredients you used and the recipe you came up with.

Usually I pick a theme or use the time of year as the basis for the chosen ingredients, and seeing as we are now just entering summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, homegrown Spring/Summer ingredients will be highlighted for a ‘Picnic‘ theme.

This ties in nicely since we are heading into a long weekend here in the Great White North, July 1st marks our country’s birthday followed closely by Independence Day south of the border, I can’t think of a better time to prepare a picnic feast!  Bonus, you will have a captive audience of guinea pigs (family members) to test drive your recipes on.


Fresh Pod Peas
Olive Oil
Rice (any kind)
Spring Greens (baby romaine, mesclun mix, etc.)

I bet you all are wondering what the heck you are going to do with rhubarb, radishes and chicken!  I am sure you will don your Chef’s Hat and come up with something that will surprise yourself and your family….or leave them running for the phone to order Pizza.

You will have until midnight (EST) Monday, July 8th (that is 2 WHOLE WEEKS!) to think, plan, shop and prepare your picnic meal.

Email your recipes with photos to me at: info@deborahlsykes.com to be featured in a post for that week.

All I need from you NOW is your confirmed participation by leaving a comment below.  Any questions? Leave them below too.

Hope you all are looking forward to it as much as I am!

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Next Weeks Menu

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Do You Know What Day it is TODAY?


I am so excited.  Maybe the nice weather is finally here to stay for oh…say the next 3 months.  My garden depends on it, my pool depends on it…and I depend on it.  I savour the short respite from Old Man Winter, who is getting awfully cranky in his old age (like me lately – oh wait, that’s the menopause).

Next weeks menu below highlights a Surf & Turf Week at The Homestead.  Deliciousness all around it will be…. and don’t forget a huge pile of sauteed mushrooms to go along with that steak.  My mouth is watering already.  I know it looks like a beef-fest for the first 3 days of the week, but hubby may just be solo for a couple days and these are easy meals for him to put together, plus, what guy doesn’t love over-indulgence in beef?

Hope everyone enjoys the first OFFICIAL weekend of Summer!
and if you are out partying, remember..


maple leaves green frame

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Flip Flop Fashion Fad

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I think I just started a new name for a new craze.  I will be RICH! People will fall all over themselves offering me their abandoned flip flops to remodel for them, paying me mega bucks for the privilege too!

A girl can dream can’t she?

OK, so maybe not the outcome I was looking for, but, practicality and comfort go along way with me.  I love the idea of flip flops, and even don’t mind the thingie between the toes, but I do get annoyed very quickly with blisters caused by the plastic straps rubbing on my feet, especially when you get sand underneath them.

So as is my normal routine… I googled: ‘How to stop your feet from getting blisters from flip flops’ and BAM! a nice tutorial popped up on how to swap the plastic straps out for fashionable fabric.  Oh crap, this means I didn’t think up the idea first – dammit, so much for being rich.

This post is just a tease for next week though as the actual tutorial will be posted then.  I wasn’t 100% happy with how they turned out following the online instructions.  What does that mean?  Aside from making me seem anal.  It means I am making the necessary changes to make MY Flip Flops PERFECT.  I just never seem to let things alone as I am a firm believer that tweaking should be mandatory on just about everything.  Except mouse traps and hand grenades, those are already perfected.

For now, here is the lame finished project…

Flip Flop Beta SampleStay Tuned for Perfection Next Week!

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Pancakes Or Waffles?

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It is Wednesday and inquiring minds want to know…

Do you prefer…



waffle clipartWaffles?

Secondly…WHY do you prefer one to the other?

Please write your comments below as I am putting together an unscientific study to be compiled into a post at a later date.

Many thanks for your cooperation!

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I’m Shrinking….

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I feel like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz…..

Wicked Witch_Oz

Last week I went for my annual checkup…you know, that place you go once a year to be told to lose weight, eat more veggies, exercise more and stop drinking so much.  After sitting in the waiting room for 26 hours (I know why they call it a waiting room, I take my knitting with me to pass the time), the nurse takes me into teeny cube room #1 for weighing and measuring…like your a trophy Bass or Muskie.

Weight was ok, exact same as a year ago – bonus for me cause I know I gained a few over the winter, but all the gardening lately and the new bike routine must have worked its magic….so I hop off the scale and she says ‘nope! not done yet – get back on here’…crud, I forgot the measuring device was attached to the scale.  My Doctor’s office has the oldest weigh scale on the planet, I swear…it has the weights to slide from one side to the other to balance the weight, and at the back of it there is a long steel measuring stick poking up with a slide thingie (technical term) that slides down to the top of your head.

She says “Five feet, one inch”


Wait a minute, I was 5′ 1 1/2″ a year ago!!!!

I have lost a half inch in height in one year!!

At this rate, I will be three foot nothing when I am 98.

After I got off the crazy fortune telling device, the nurse shows me into teeny cube room #2, where I sat knitting and ‘waited’ for another 10 minutes until the wisecracking Doc pops in.  ‘Whatcha knittin’ he asks….a body bag I tell him, for you if I have any more bad news.  He cracks a smile..what bad news? I just walked in here…..OK, let’s just cut to the chase I tell him…. I have lost a 1/2″ in height in ONE YEAR!  He says it is normal for people of your age (He has one leg in the body bag for that comment) to lose some height.  I would be concerned if it was an inch in one year, but a half inch is OK.

Doesn’t concern HIM, but it sure does concern me!  I am called a short-ass by my loved ones already, my only saving grace is that I have one cousin and one adult niece that are WAY shorter than I am and I feel like a giant standing next to them…soon I will be just as tall as they are and then who am I gonna poke fun of? The squirrels outside?  Pfft….

I can’t believe how miffed I am about losing another half inch in height, yes ANOTHER… I used to be 5’2″ back when I was 20.  We went through all the rest of the physical stuff, but I still kept hearing those words in my head repeating over and over…

You are 5’1″

I left the Docs office and immediately went to the nearest shoe store
and bought 12 pairs of 6″ stilettos.

I then went home and sulked the remainder of the day until hubby came home.  He asked how things went… I told him I lost a half inch in height in one year – I am now only 5’1″!!!

He leans his 6′ 2″ frame over me to plant a smooch and doesn’t say a word….
He knows better….

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