Birthday celebrations and berry picking

Leah celebrated her birthday recently with a trip to the Cambridge Butterfly conservatory. She took one of her best friend, and they had a blast!

Leah really enjoyed not taking her sister along for the trip. The girls liked the waterfall and the fish pond.

Leah and her friend at the Butterfly Conservatory
Meeting a giant centipede
Giant Centipede
Skipping to see the waterfall

Last week we went berry picking. I have always gone to Marcy’s Berries. On Valens road and 97. Close to Freelton. It is a family owned and operated business that produce some of the best strawberries around, Their raspberries and other fruits are awesome too.

We managed to pick a flat and a half of strawberries and raspberries. The girls had lots of fun, although it was a bit “hard, and boring” for them.

Picking raspberries
Strawberries
Helping find all the good strawberries

 

Walking in the fields.

Once we got home, we got to do all the hard work of prepping the strawberries and making jam. I usually just make freezer jam so its a bit easier, Leah likes mashing the fruit the best. We ended up making 28 jars of jam for the winter.

Leah learning how to hull strawberries.

 

Jam heading for the freezer.

 

The garden is calling, I have more plants to go in the vegetable garden, and the weeds are starting to take over the flower beds. It seems like I picked a rather hot day to get that project going… Perhaps a book and a drink on the deck is what will actually happen.

The one about cottage trips

We have been to the cottage a lot so far this summer and it has been awesome!

We found a Spotted Turtle. I love showing the girls all about the plants and animals in the world around them. It is a great opportunity to learn about the type of turtle, where they live and what they eat.

Learning about turtles. This is a spotted turtle.
Spotted turtle

A first of many beautiful sunsets.

First summer sunset.
My favourite Iris.

For Canada Day, We got all dressed up and decorated our neighbour’s boat and joined in the Canada Day boat Parade on the river. It was a great social event. It was fun to see so many people out on the water and we had a great fireworks display to end the evening.

Canada Day! It is next to impossible to have all the dogs and kids in the picture and have them all looking at me!
Canada Day Parade
The Canada Day Boat parade. The water was a little bit rough and it was a little cloudy, but we had a great time!
The winning boat!
Getting ready to “march”

Having a cottage isn’t always about having fun. There’s lots of work to do around the place. One of our current projects is getting a better water system in place.

Cottage projects never end. This is for our water system

The cottage air, and being outside most of the day tires a little girl out.

Cottage air makes you sleepy
The girls soaking up some summer sun.
Another beautiful sunset!

 

The river was warm enough for me to get in last weekend. It is fun being able to get out an enjoy the water with the kids.

Swimming! Summer has officially begun.

As we are installing the new water system. We need to drill some holes for tie down points.

The boys working hard drilling holes in the rocks.
The river at sunset.

Rising early means, fresh blueberries for pancakes.

Blueberry picking
Fresh blueberry pancakes on the griddle
Breakfast outside in the summer sunshine

I can’t wait to head back north. It has been so awesome to get up to the cottage so many times this summer.

The one about building projects

So many projects, so little time. In the last month or so I have completed two bigger projects that have been waiting longer than they should have, but they are done now.

The first is I completed building the sandbox! However, there isn’t any sand in it yet. It will come soon. I purchased a bunch of 8ft mini ties and made slots in each piece, then drilled them together, the kids are enjoying the space as is right now but I can’t wait to see the sand projects that will come from this. I also realized that one can never have enough tools.

Creating notches in the logs so they fit together.
One joint all hooked together.

The other project I finished was the Crossfit box jump. It has three different heights to jump on. We used a sheet of 1″ plywood that was 4′ x 8′.

Measuring out the cuts.
Making the first of many cuts
The last side going together.
Taking it for a test jump.

The kids got to work on their own project. They got to excavate a dinosaur skeleton! I got a kit from Costco called Discover Dinosaurs. It has a great activity book, poster, wooden build your own skeleton and a fossil excavation kit. It is a well put together kit that kept the girls busy for about an hour digging, washing and building their new dinosaur.

Starting excavation.
Some bones start to appear! Leah was very excited to see the bones
A junior archeologist in the making.

Last Minute Trip

We had a great quick trip to the cottage. We left late Friday afternoon and came back on Sunday. The little time we had up there was perfect! The sun was shining and the breeze kept the bugs at bay.

a girl and her dog
Still best friends.

The girls spent the morning swimming. The water was warm enough for them, I think I will wait another week or two before I’m ready to get in.

Getting in the water for the first time this season!
Ava loving getting back in the river
Leah, acting like a fish. She didn’t want to get out!

We spent most of the day just relaxing and doing cottage things, like gardening, and playing with chalk, and a bit of fishing.

Leah practicing making patterns with chive flowers.
Ginger taste testing the chives.
Muskoka chairs, a drink and a dog. #cottagelife
Hawk, looking handsome.
Leah helping plant some tomatoes.
Ava planting some Jonny jump ups.
splashing in the puddles.

It is always hard to leave when you hear how hot the weather is at home, but alas we have to go to work. Then back we go next weekend!

The garden is growing

The warm weather is back and it is proving hard to keep up with my blog!

The girls enjoyed getting back to some of their favourite things. Today they did some painting on the deck. Leah is starting to get much more creative with her paintings, today she was working on “self-portraits”

Painting on the deck
working on her self-portrait
Ava experimenting mixing colours

The vegetable garden is starting to show signs of life! Leah, Ava and I spent some time last weekend doing some weeding and seeding.

Planting some sunflowers
Checking the seed package

The seeds we planted have started to come up – we have little potatoes, beets, carrots, peas, and lettuces.

Peas, sprouting up fast and furious
Lettuces peaking up
Potatoes, I think I might have planted too many.
Beans looking happy. There is a rabbit who thinks the beans are tasty treats at this size.
Tomatos all planted out. Lots of the saucing variety.

The peonies are looking like they are going to put on a good show this year! Our first Itoh Hybrid Peony is in flower, and it is stunning. The bleeding hearts, and primulas were beautiful last week, so were the last of our tulips. They need deadheading now.

Pink bleeding hearts
Bleeding hearts
My favourite primula
Tulips

We also had visitor in the garden today from Mr. Toad. He likes to hide under the peonies in the front garden.

Mr. Toad.

Our deck is getting its summer look. The hops are shooting out of the ground a mile a minute, and our planters are getting some basil, parsley, cilantro into them soon. I have some morning glories starting to sprout up and the fig has leafed out beautifully.  I love sitting on the deck in the evenings and soaking up the final rays of sun from the day with a good book.

The deck garden
Hops growing by leaps and bounds

I was out getting some lumber today for a couple new projects. Leah is getting a sandbox for her birthday! I will starting building it tomorrow and the sand will arrive when I get around to purchasing that part, hopefully before her actual birthday. I also have a box jump to build for our home gym, the bale of pro-mix soil just isn’t holding up anymore.

There are dishes in the sink that have my name on them, then hopefully a little bit quiet time on the deck before bed.

The Opener

YES!

Summer officially started for me this weekend. It is the beginning of many warm summer nights with bonfires, plenty of mosquitos and all the cottage atmosphere a person could ask for!

This weekend was cold and wet – as it seems to have been for the last few years. This means that the wood stove runs 24 hours a day and the dogs and the people love to curl up in front of it with a good book and let the day slide by with not a worry in the world.

Ava enjoying the rain
Leah splashing in the puddles

We did get a bunch of work done this weekend though, a part of opening the cleaning up from winter, and preparing the cottage for the upcoming summer events. We worked on the dock, got some firewood chopped and did a spring clean around the cabins.

Vegetable garden all cleaned up
Chopped logs
Trilliums in the woods
Hawk discovering the joys of chasing geese

We had a quick visit from a family of geese. The girls loved watching the little goslings.

Geese!

It feels so good to be back up in cottage country. I can’t wait for the next visit!

Spring Fun!

My favourite time of the year has arrived! The bulbs are coming up, the trees are starting to leaf out and the air is getting warmer. I have been so busy the last couple of weeks it has been hard to sit down and have time to write a post.

Hellebore in full flower. Love the early spring colour.
Hyacinths, looking beautiful.

My mom and I spent some time together with the kids a couple weeks ago at the Waterloo Region Museum(http://www.waterlooregionmuseum.ca ) to see the dinosaurs skeletons they have there! It was a bit scary for the girls at first. They have some loud animations that worried them a little bit.  Later my mom and I worked in my vegetable garden and got a little fence to keep the dogs and children out of the freshly sewn seeds. I got carrots, beets, lettuce, peas, dill, and borage planted into the garden and some other things started inside that are starting to poke their little heads out.

 

T-rex!
Mom, Ava and Leah

 

Mom and the girls after we finished our fence

I have officially started my new job at the University of Guelph. It has been an awesome but tough transition. I have weekends off now, and am enjoying working part time. I see the kids and Nick more, as well as being able to attend more events and get togethers. I have seen some of my friends more in the past two weeks than the last 5 years. This meant I was off for Easter Sunday. We spent the day at my parents house, My dad and I cooked a large meal and the girls enjoyed an easter egg hunt!

Easter egg hunt, in the fairy garden at my parent’s house
All the dogs enjoying being outside. Hawk, Sam, Ginger and Kodi.
A little ribbon snake. warming itself on the rocks
I think this is a mourning cloak butterfly, enjoying the daffodils.
Four Generations

I had the chance to try making pickled hop shoots. They turned out pretty well. I might tweak the recipe next time so that there are less fennel seeds in it. The hops grow like weeds so Im hoping to make more to keep them in check.

Pickling the hop shoots
In the jar and ready to enjoy!

The front yard is starting to look really good with the daffodils in full flower now.  I love watching the transition from tiny shoots to beautiful flowers.

Nick working in the yard, Finally a straight(ish) edge.
A couple days later. The first daffodils in bloom.
More in flower.
It changes every day!

 

The kids are thrilled that the weather is finally warm enough for spending most of the day outside. We have some maple trees in the back, and the girls love to watch as the trees sprout new leaves and flowers. It so entertaining and curious watching the girls discover and rediscover new things. Leah loves to show Ava things that she remembers and Ava soaks up everything her sister tells her.

Ava collecting maple flowers
Leah investigating her maple flowers.

Next week is Ava’s third birthday. Time flies thats for sure. It hard to know what to get a three year old, because she has so many toys that used to be her sisters and so many clothes that are the same. In any case I need to get some shopping done soon! Im hoping that once I get a little more settled into my new routine I will have posts out a little more often. With summer here I have more to talk about. Nick and my dad opened the cottage this weekend. I can’t wait for the may long weekend! It is usually cold, but nothing beats Georgian bay sunset, and nothing says summer like a beer on the dock.

Spring has Sprung

Every time I have sat down to write this post the weather has been different. Warm, snow, rain, sun… But it feels like we might finally have spring on the way. I finally have hopefully a few minutes of uninterrupted time to finish while the kids play outside rediscovering their outdoor toys.

Watching the birds come back is one of the sure signs of spring for me. I have seen robins, red wing black birds, and I’m pretty sure I saw some snow geese fly over the other day.  The chickadees have started singing their spring song, and the trees are trying their hardest to bud out.

Nick and I worked on getting some of the front yard cleaned up yesterday in the afternoon sun. I wish I could find the secateurs that vanished some time last fall. Clean up is hard to do without the proper tools!

Nick raking up leaves
Got my trusty wheelbarrow out. Cut all the grasses down and cleaned up all the garbage and leaves out of the front. So many bulbs starting to come up.
The kids figuring out which bike they fit on this year. they love riding up and down the sidewalk while we do yard work.

The gardens are starting to come alive, I hope that this last bout of cold hasn’t disturbed things too much. The crocus, daffodils, and some tulips are starting to poke their heads out and there are even 4-5 crocus flowering.  The buds on the peonies are starting to show some colour. I can’t wait to see what the bulbs in the back yard are going to look like this year. I got a bunch of Dahlias, and Gladiolus for the front that will get planted once the frost is out of the ground.

Crocus in the snow

Spring crocus happy the snow is melted.
Peony buds starting to burst.

The kids and I started some spring crafts this week to help curb the cabin fever that is starting to affect everyone.

Painting some spring pictures
Leah working on her reading. Hawk likes to listen to the stories.

The kitchen started to get a good cleaning today, and I got some seed trays ready for sewing.  I am starting to let some plants go outside for some sun and fresh air during the day, the rosemary is so much happier with some gentle rain and warm sun on its leaves. I have to drag the fig out from the garage and get out planters back on the deck.

I tackled a baking project that I have been wanting to try for a very long time. Macaron. A french cookie that is a meringue based with a butter cream filling. We made bright green ones for St. Patricks Day. They turned out better than expected for the first time and now I know what I will do differently the next time.

Macaron before I assembled them. I forgot to take an after picture, they were too yummy!

I also started a woodworking project that I need to finish up. Large wooden dice for outdoor Yatzee or other games.  Thank you Pinterest for more projects that I need to find time to finish.

Cutting up a piece of maple for wooden dice

Well thats it for my free time. The girls thought it would be fun to paint themselves with the dirt from the garden. Guess it’s bath time!

 

February Already?

The last couple of weeks seems to have just flown by! I am excited to get closer to the end of winter and watch for signs of spring. The days are starting to get noticeably longer and the temperatures look like they might be on the rise. Everyone in our house, including the plants are starting to get a bit cabin feverish. We seem to be keeping ourselves busy enough for now.

We have been busy with our CrossFit Lifestyle Challenge with our Box http://www.crossfitrebuild.com. It has been a great experience so far. We have been eating a Primal diet and Nick got us a barbell for home WODs so we are working out everyday.

Leah, Ava and I baking an almond flour tart. So yummy!
Sweet potato and ground turkey chili topped with avocado.
Nick is very excited to have his own bar!

While we were having breakfast this morning I looked out and saw that there were about 50 robins sitting in the trees! I hope that it means spring is coming soon, as it is a bit early to be seeing them back. The house is getting crowded with plants desperate for some proper warm sun and heat.

Three robins in the tree.
Picotee Ameryllis-White with red edges
Picotee Ameryllis
Plants under the plant light waiting not so patiently for spring.

The kids and I worked on some fun Valentine’s Day crafts this week. Pinterest is full of so many fun ideas! I remember making some of these things when I was a kid. There is a bit of nostalgia for me as we make the crafts together. I now understand how many crafts can be created by one child and the space to keep them seems to be getting stuffed to the brim. Perhaps when they are older I will be able to purge some of the crafts, but for now it will just cover the fridge and my wall in the office.

Finger painting and tissue paper gluing.
Making a tissue paper heart for Valentines day.
Ava very focused on her finger painting
Dug out the Cricut for fun Valentines Day cards

We went to the butterfly conservatory in Cambridge last week, to escape the cold. It is so close to us and a great resource for fun educational outings! This week we were focused on metamorphosis, so we watched some butterflies hatching out and drying their wings.

Butterfly sitting in the warm sun drying it’s wings
Fresh out of the chrysalis.
Having a snack.

I can’t believe we are half way through February already. I am putting together the last of the seed orders for the garden and probably getting my little deck greenhouse put together in the next week or so. Its almost time to start getting things going for the growing season. I am hoping to can way more beets than this year. I am also working on redesigning the garden. Peas and pole beans have never done well and they take up a lot of valuable space for tomatoes and potatoes. As soon as the ground is thawed I will be out in the garden.

Happy New Year

The holidays are over and the new year has begun. The Christmas decor has been taken down, and as usual there is always one thing I forget to put away, this year it is a cushion cover. With the putting away of Christmas comes the purge of no longer useful to me things. I cleaned out the linen closet and got rid of some of my old clothes. I finally said goodbye to my prom dress, its only been sitting there for 10 years. Its very therapeutic.

The holidays were very busy this year. I was working for most of it, but due to a cold ( nothing like a 100 degree fever on Christmas Day and Boxing Day) and a couple of snowstorms I did end up with about 5 days in a row home with my family doing all the wonderful christmasy things. Building snowmen, hot chocolate by the christmas tree with new and wonderful stories to read, and all the chocolate one could want (must resist eating the giant Toblerone with my name on it!)

Making a good track for tobogganing
Ava loves snow!
Ava after her first time down the hill by herself
Leah is a pro
Here we go!
Giant snowballs!
Hawk, Leah, Ginger and Ava in front of the christmas tree, It is so hard to get the to sit still!

It also turns out that we really didn’t take many christmas photos over the holidays, its hard to remember to actually take the photos when you are involved with the all the gifts and interacting with the people.

Ava and her Great Granny

The girls enjoyed helping out with cookie decorating and cake baking. I love making sugar cookies this time of year. It just feels so festive and gets me right into the christmas spirt. We usually have christmas music playing while we bake and decorate!

Decorating Christmas cookies

The winter weather has turned us to indoor activities. We got a wonderful set of Kapla blocks from my MIL. It is supposed to be for the kids, but I think I am having more fun with it right now. The blocks are all exactly the same size and the designs are really challenging and fun to topple over.

Kapla blocks.

Nick has been working on his pizza creations, we got a second stone for christmas so we can cook two at once in the oven now.

Pizza
Two stones in the oven.
Pizza is ready!

The warm weather has me itching to get back into the garden. The seed catalog arrived a couple of weeks ago so the planning is in full swing. We got a mini greenhouse from my parents. I cant wait to set it up on the deck and get growing.

Well thats all for now. Happy New Year to all! Wish all of you the best in the year to come!