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!

 

Christmas crafts

Finally a chance to sit down at the computer. I am so happy that it is finally my weekend! The weather this week has really got us thinking about how Canadian we are – who else checks the current road conditions and current weather statements before getting out of the bed in the morning? It was a nice change to not have to clean my car off this morning before work.

Leah learning all about snow shovelling

I didn’t make it to work on Saturday because of snow and road conditions, this unexpected day off thrilled the girls to bits. We spent the morning making an excellent toboggan run in the back yard, followed by a walking trip to the park, where the girls discovered bigger hills and that snow makes the slides a lot shorter.

In the last week or two the weather has gotten colder and snowier. It is hard to spend as much time outside as we do in the summer, so I have been setting up more indoor projects.

Before the real snow came, I made some simple homemade snow for the girls. It is made with 1/2 cup hair conditioner and 2 cups baking soda. It has an endothermic reactions so it really feels like snow, and it packs and kind of rolls up like snow too.

Ava playing the in fake snow
Leah playing in the fake snow

Leah and I made some paper snowflakes to hang in our front hall. These are one of my favourite crafts. They look awesome and really don’t take that much work to make. Link (http://www.craft-craft.net/christmas-ornament-paper-snowflake-tutorial.html) The only thing I change – and it’s merely for ease and time – instead of glue I use staples.

Leah and I making paper snow flakes
Finished!
Snowflakes hanging in the hall

We got the tree up! The girls love helping me dig out all the decorations and put everything on. It is one of my favourite things to share with the girls. I remember going out with my mom to harvest all the evergreen for wreaths, swags, and garlands and the house would be filled with the fresh smells of pine, cedar, and fir.

Starting to get the lights on the tree
All done!

The one other project we did in the last couple weeks was making borax snowflakes. Theses were a simple craft that we could do all together and watch as the crystals formed on the pipe cleaner. I mixed 1/3 cup of borax to 2 cups of water, I tried boiled water and just the hottest water out of the tap and both worked effectively, I found the tap water to work a bit faster.

Pipe cleaner snowflakes
Snowflakes soaking in the borax
Snowflake in the tree!

Its the final week before Christmas! I have sugar cookies to decorate and presents to wrap. I can’t wait to see their smiling faces with the surprises that will be under the tree. I’m hoping to attempt a Buche de Noel. There is a recipe on Pinterest that has been catching my eye for a year or so and perhaps its time to try. The next time I get around to updating this, it will probably be after Christmas and probably after New Years. So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and all the best in the New Year!

Leah rolling out sugar cookies

 

 

 

 

Welcome Fall

The air is cooler, the days are shorter and the gardens need a different type of tending to. I love watching the changing leaves and the hearty comfort foods of fall and winter, I can almost taste the schnitzel and spaetzel already! I also really enjoy filling up the freezer with perserved foods for the cold months ahead. Putting food that we grew ourselves and have preserved for the months ahead is so satisfying. Sometimes I think that I would have liked to be a homesteader, but then I remember how much we take for granted, like indoor plumbing and heating, and refrigeration.

One silver maple leaf changing colour
Fall colour is coming, One part of one leaf is burning red.

We started a new family tradition this year. Apple picking! I had never really been before and it was so easy compared to picking strawberries and raspberries. It took no time at all to pick 20 pounds of apples which meant that it was still fun for the girls.

Macintosh apple ripe for the picking
Macintosh apple ripe for the picking
Walking through the fields to apple orchard
Long rows of Gala apples
Long rows of Gala apples
Child holding an apple
Ava admiring the apple she picked
Leah thinks her apple tastes the best
Leah thinks her apple tastes the best

Leah and I turned all 20lbs into applesauce. She really enjoyed running the apple peeler. I have never used one before and it really made a difference Leah could peel one in the time I could chop an apple up so it only took us maybe an hour to process all the apples.

Child using an apple peeler to peel apples
Leah peeling the apples

The garden is starting to get ready for its winter nap. This week I pulled all the tomato plants out. Nothing was really ripening anymore and I wanted to use one of the nice warm days to do it. I collected about 8 pounds of green tomatoes! So I made up a batch of my version of Salsa verde. I use the Hungarian hot and sweet wax peppers and a ghost pepper for spiciness and then add some onions, cilantro, oregano, and some lime juice. Blend it up and put it on fajitas, or as chip dip.

The vegetable garden starting to get ready for winter.
15 jars of homemade Salsa verde ready to be put away for winter
15 jars of homemade Salsa verde ready to be put away for winter

With Thanksgiving just around the corner we picked up the turkey today, I already am having visions of too many leftovers, but it will taste good all the same. I made an apple pie, a pumpkin pie and tried out a new recipe for sweet potato pound cake. Leah got to help make the cake today, she is loving helping out more and more in the kitchen.

Whisking up some dry ingredients for the Sweet potato pound cake
Whisking up some dry ingredients for the Sweet potato pound cake
Finished product! Apple pie, pumpkin pie and sweet potato pound cake
Finished product! Apple pie, pumpkin pie and sweet potato pound cake

Our spring bulb order came in today, More daffodils, tulips and some new amaryllis for christmas time. I look forward to seeing what the look like, I kind of dread the planting part though.

September at the Cottage

This week of the year tends to be one of my favourite weeks in the whole season. It was even better this year as the warm weather stayed the whole time. Most of the summers only cottagers head south on Labour Day, leaving us pretty much alone and the river is almost silent. It is an excellent time for hikes and being out on the water. We got stunning sunsets every night, this time of year the sun sets straight down the middle of the river.

My dad and I went out for a quick walk one evening, and he got a picture of me that pretty much sums up my life. You can dress the girl up, but that doesn’t mean you can take her out.

Out for a walk in my Ralph Lauren dress… Country girl at heart.

We saw lots of birds, bears and some very special red squirrels who claimed the cedar trees beside the cottage and they yelled at us every time we walked out the front door. We were fortunate enough to see a mother bear and her cub swimming while we were out for a sunset cruise with friends of ours. It was such an amazing site to see, I was very thankful to be in a boat and far away though.  We saw some Common Mergansers swimming in our little bay fishing out all the little minnows. I also caught sight of what I think was juvenile gar fish, most likely the spotted Gar. Leah caught her first fish, and I hope she will be as hooked, pardon the pun, as me.

Child catching a sunfish on a dock
Leah caught a sunfish
Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

My dad got so much work done on the cottage this week. All the logs and sticks from the beavers this spring got burned.

 

bonfire at sunset
Dad supervising the bonfire

He and Nick did a lot of painting, while I worked on cleaning up the insides. We still have lots of things left over from my grandparents, and stuff that was left by the people before them. It is kind of like a museum going through some of the stuff.

Nick and I got the smoker up and running again this week, and we finally have a pretty good grasp of smoking ribs. They spend about an hour soaking in a homemade dry rub, followed by 6-8hrs on the smoker, followed by an hour or so being basted in a homemade BBQ sauce. Each time we do it, it gets a bit better. Some day my dad and I might actually get around to writing the recipe.

I got my old paddle boat out for the girls and leah learned how to drive it very quickly, and we spent a lot of time paddling around our little bay looking for fish and turtles.

Out in the paddle boat with the girls and the dog
Out in the paddle boat with the girls and the dog

The girls swam almost every day. The water was so warm and a great place to cool off after a hike in the bush.

Ava starting to swim on her own
Leah loving the water
Leah, Ava, and Ginger drying off after their swim

I spent most of my time with the camera at sunset, each day brought a new stunning view.

Sunset on the Key River
Sunset
Sunset
Sunset
Last sunset

August

The dog days of summer are here. The weather has been wonderful! I love the heat. Although I have to complain about the sun setting WAY too early for my liking. There aren’t enough hours in the day anymore to get the things all done.

The gardens change so much every day. Since the last post, the gladiolas have stopped flowering the Dahlias are now in full colour, the cosmos are putting on a beautiful show and the tomatoes are finally ripening all at once.

Gladiola
Gladiola
Dahlias
Dahlias
Cosmo Double click mix
Cosmo Double click mix

I have been very busy in the vegetable garden the last week or so with harvesting many Hungarian hot wax pepper. I have pickled so many jars of them I’m not sure what I am going to do with them all. I also have harvested the first round of beets, they went straight to be pickled. I also made beet jelly for the first time this year and it is awesome!

Pickled beets
Pickles beets
Carrots from the garden with dinner
Carrots from the garden with dinner

The potatoes are ready now too! I harvested the whole lot today and out of the maybe 15 plants I put in the ground I filled two three litre baskets.

Fresh fingerling potatoes from the garden
Fresh fingerling potatoes from the garden

I also have been keeping myself busy with kitchen things as well. I got a few peach pies made for Nick. I do have to toot my own horn a bit and say that I finally nailed the pie crust, the crispy light layers of crust are just so decadent.

homemade peach pie
homemade peach pie

I’ve also made a lot of roasted tomato sauce for the winter too. Its one of Chuck Hughe’s recipes from the show Chucks Day off. It freezes really well, and so it makes for quick winter dinners.

Roasted tomatos to be blended for sauce
Roasted tomatos to be blended for sauce

I can’t let a post go out without sharing some pictures of the kids.

Ava got to “climb” a tree this week. She loved being able to see “so far”

 

Ava sitting in a tree.
Leah
Kids splashing in a bird bath
Leah and Ava splashing their reflections
playing hopscotch
Leah playing hopscotch

I can’t believe that it is September tomorrow. We are heading back to the cottage this weekend, for the final trip for me, the kids might make it back up once more before close up. It will be good to get back into a routine, swimming lessons, and possibly some dance lessons starting soon. As well,Leah will be starting some kindergarten work at home this year. I am really excited to get started on the path of homeschooling. So many new things to come this fall. I can’t wait!

Fresh from the garden and summer fun

Hello again,

I am noticing that it is really hard to keep up with computer work when the weather is so nice outside. I have been spending my evenings walking with the kids and the dog, and sitting on the deck reading my book in the last of the suns rays. That does mean however that my blog is getting neglected.

With all this summer heat the kids have been outside in the yard a lot. I am so happy that I got a little splash pool last year, They are in it almost everyday.

Ava looking for a leaf to eat
Leah investigating the tomato plants
Pool fun to cool off

I am so happy for the few rainstorms we have had the last couple of days. The garden is so happy, there are so many new blooms everyday. I have a new variety of day lily that I can’t find the name of, but it is really showy!

Day lily

The hydrangeas are hitting peak and so are many others.

Hydrangea
The bees loves the gladiolas

My dad got us a beautiful double Hibiscus for our summer planter, it is stunning.

Hibiscus

Our gardens are growing and producing rapidly too. Leah really enjoys eating the borage flowers, and I can’t keep Ava out of the basil.

Leah loves borage flowers

We have been eating zucchini almost every night for almost a month. The beets, carrots, and potatoes are growing well. I can’t wait to try them. I tore out the last of the spring lettuce so that I could plant another section of beet to last us later into the fall. I think I need to find a new place to grow peas and beans. They just don’t seem happy in the place I have them. Sounds like another garden expansion to plan over the winter. The tomatoes are full of green tomatoes, I hope they start to ripen soon!

I harvested and dried a bunch of Dill this week, Ava loves to give me a hand. I have also tried my hand at making dill pickles this year and so far so good! I opened one jar already and its mostly gone. Its one of my favourite summer things.

Ava helping pick dill leaves for drying.
Homemade Dill Pickles.

Off to the cottage I go! I dont really have internet access up there which is awesome. It is a good time to set down the phone and play games and have fun with the whole family.

 

Recipes

I had a request for what I put on my fajitas, so I thought I would share the recipes from the crepes and fajitas I have posted about already, and I am adding in my chocolate mousse recipe.

Fajitas are one of my favourites. They’re quick, easy and fun. We usually do chicken but sometimes we use beef rouladen depending on what is cheaper that week. Recipe is as follows: Continue reading “Recipes”