Summer Weekends

I have been so busy with life that it is hard to keep up with my blog as well. June seems to have promptly disappeared, and we have survived the first full week of summer vacation (wish it was for adults as well – guess I should have been a teacher?) Most of that week has been spent at the cottage doing summer things. Swimming, fishing, hiking, being eaten alive by mosquitos, and a camp fire for s’mores.

One of many sunsets!

Leah has finished her first year of school and is looking forward to starting grade one, and being able to show her little sister the ropes as she starts junior kindergarten.

Leah on her last day of kindergarten!

Leah had her birthday at the end of June, I had a party for her with 8 of her friends. It was a bit wild, but the kids were such a good bunch, and so well behaved. It was a good first experience so I guess she can have another one next year.

A whole crowd of kids for Leah’s Birthday!

The two girls have grown and changed so much this year. I can’t wait to see how they take on the new challenges of the new school year. For now though, it is summer, so let the kids be kids!

The water has been maintaining a good level this year, which makes our river quite nice to go swimming in. It was up to 72 degrees this weekend, perfect for a cooling swim after spending the day replacing water pipes under the cottage. The girls are loving being able to swim two or three times a day. They are also getting better at self entertainment and have their own games they play while we get some work done or just enjoying a good book.

Ava enjoying the water.
Leah is getting brave and fast, as long as she has her lifejacket.
Nick and the girls watching the Canada Day Boat Parade.
Hazel loves the water too.

Nick and I put in a new water system this weekend. We have changed over to  new pipes and run through a UV filtration system and we have an RO system that we should hopefully be able to drink. This will be great to reduce the number of water bottles we need to buy and hopefully we will be a bit better about drinking more water.

Nick working on the plumbing under the cottage.
After I had to hacksaw a tap right out of place! This is a reason why I am not a plumber. Cheers to those who are. Its tough work!
Working on installing the UV system.

This summer has been busy, and the weekends just seem to fly by. I can’t wait to get back to the cottage for our August week. It is so great to spend more than just a weekend.

Such a nice way to finish the evening!
Sunset on our cruise out towards Georgian Bay.

Around the House

The weather has been hard to work with this spring. It was so cold for so long and then bam it was 30 degrees, Which I love and I am not complaining at all, I just feel late getting the garden in.

Crocus popping up through the dusting of snow.
Hyacinth starting to bloom
The daffodils sprouting up, They all came up early and got their tips burned from the ice storm

May was slow to start and it was quite chilly for Ava’s 4th birthday. She had a wonderful day and celebrated over several days, I am sure that is every kid’s dream presents every day for almost a week! I successfully made a cake in the shape of a hedgehog for her birthday. I think its pretty cute, however, I know more than ever that I need to work on the making good icing and cake decorating skills.

Ava celebrating her birthday.
A cake that sort of resembles a hedgehog.


Ava got a Wheelbarrow for her birthday and you can tell with these pictures I used my phone. The image quality is not quite the same, but Ava is still just as cute.

The garden has grown and changed so much since we moved in almost 5 years ago. We have added so many bulbs and flowers, each spring is a surprise. We got some wonderful new tulips that I bought on a whim and they turned out great! We are going to order some more this year and finish putting a border on that garden, They look so cute mixed in with the forget me nots, The blue and yellow match so well.

Honky Tonk tulips and forget me nots looking great. I am going to be getting another case of these.
Honkey tonk tulips.
Double Pam Daffodil
Daffodils
The driveway in full bloom
Cream Primula
Red primula so happy in it’s spot under the lilac tree
The hops have started their ascent, Ginger likes to eat the tips.
The hops about 6 days later. The grow so fast, you can practically watch them.
The tulip garden looking beautiful. It is starting to come together.

We took most of the side garden apart today, and rebuilt it. We have a few new Hydrangeas to put in and some of the lilies and the Anemones needed to be divided. I got all the plants out of our bedroom where they stay warm and safe during the winter. It seems like I regained at least half of the floor space. I got a bunch of leaf litter and sticks from the maples all cleaned up and ready to go to the curb on Thursday (at least I hope its compost week this week) It was so satisfying to get all of the work done. Nick’s mom came to visit today too. She spent most of her time playing with the girls, which gave us a few less interruptions and we got more done today than we have in months. I got the vegetable garden weeded and prepped for plants on Friday. We seeded in beets, beans, peas, and dill. I planted some peppers and tomatoes that we picked up from Colour Paradise (http://www.colourparadise.com) They have an awesome selection and have so many plants that they start early so they are a really good size when you get them home, It is great for when you know little children want to help.

Getting the planters ready to go.
Nick fertilizing everything.
All the little basils ready to grow.
Tomatos all planted
The yard all cleaned up after a day of work.

So much work to do so little time. I am hoping to get a some house work done over the weekend, but I know that I will probably just play outside instead-the kids have more fun anyway.

May Days

I finally put my office back together after having it torn apart for the better part of a month to redo the flooring. It is much easier to use my computer when I have a desk to work at, being home helps too. I was away for the first 3 weekends in May. I got to attend a fantastic Symposium for Animal Health in Quebec City. I learned so much and had some awesome networking opportunities. I also learned that I really need to go back there and eat more food and tour around a bit more. We went to visit Nick’s relatives in Kingston the following weekend. It one of my favourite cities to visit for the food and time with family. We always stop in at Pan Chancho’s and I finally got to eat at Wooden Heads (http://woodenheads.com) The pizza was awesome, and some of the conversations we overheard were very entertaining.

We finally made it to the opening weekend of the cottage, with a new boat in tow. That drive up with the boat attached is one of the most nerve wracking things to me. Which is why we make Nick drive the truck up. It was one of the most smooth launches we have ever had. The trailer handles really well. We had been itching to get to the cottage since we closed it. Friday afternoon the weather was perfect! We got the water all hooked up, the composting toilet set up, and we discovered a family of mice had moved in for the winter. I spent most of the rainy day on Saturday cleaning up. I was glad that it was raining because at least I didn’t feel bad about wasting the sunshine being inside.

Saturday morning was spent getting the garden cleaned up and planting in the potatoes, they grow so well in the compost we have. As the weather gets warmer we will be taking up some tomatoes, and some herbs for cooking. The girls were so desperate to go swimming that I finally agreed to take them. The ice had only been out for maybe a week or so and the water was at most 60 degrees. Leah hopped in a refused to admit she was freezing until a boat went by and splashed her. She was in cottage by the fire in no time after that. Ava managed to get her toes wet and said that was enough until the water warms up.  There was a power outage while we were there. I am so happy that we use the BBQ for most meals and we have some beautiful cast iron pans that we use on the wood stove to make breakfast. Bacon cooked in a heap in a pan is so delicious and it makes the cottage smell so good.

breakfast cooked on the wood stove! So yummy.
First toe in the river, She was so brave. I probably won’t get in until end of June.
Ava followed suit and was chasing her sister in.
Getting the compost turned into the garden and planting the potatoes

On Sunday it was sunny but cold. We got the smoker up and running we made a great chicken, we brined it and then did a dry rub and smoked for a couple of hours. It was so tender and flavourful. I definitely want to give that a go again. It was great to catch up with everyone after the winter and relax in the fresh air. The Beavers were busy in the swamp this winter, building lots of new dams and creating quite the large mosquito breeding ground.

Our smoker all ready for the chicken!
Wood all chopped and ready to use, mostly Maple and Birch.

The weather is always the best on the day we have to leave. The girls had their bikes out and we enjoyed several cups of coffee on the deck watching them play and the river lazily flowing by. We took the boat out into the bay for a few minutes. The wind was just a bit too cold to last long, I found myself wishing for a toque. Then we came home and slowly ate our lunch, and then packed with a mad dash after noticing the time. We seemed to lead a bit of a mass exodus from the river. I’m guessing everyone does the same thing. At least the drive wasn’t overly long either way this time. As summer progresses the traffic will get worse. One day I would love to just stay there for the summer,I guess that is for when I can retire.

Fist sunset of the season, there will be plenty more to come!

The cottage box is starting to build up in the front hall again. I sense another trip soon!

 

Spring time.

I am getting a bit more free time in my days now that the puppies have gone home, so hopefully I will be able to write more again. It is a very peaceful afternoon, the dogs are all asleep in the spots of sun that come through the windows, Ava is away with Oma, and Leah is sick on the couch having a nap. I am having a cup of tea and writing, in between hanging laundry on the line and reading some stories to Leah when she is awake. Looks like she will be home from school tomorrow.

We have been carefully watching for signs of spring since probably February. We had that lovely thaw a few weeks ago and I was sure that was going to be spring! We noticed how the the trees buds were starting to swell and the bulbs were pushing up through the soil.

Two girls sitting on a log in the woods.
Leah and Ava watching for spring
Heading into the wood by Leah’s school
Dropping Leah off for a fun day at school.
Moss in the woods.
Ava loves “mommy and me days”

We had a lovely Easter weekend, spending time with all our family. The girls love the annual egg hunt at my parents house. My mom carefully lays out all the eggs and then the girls take all of maybe 5 minutes to find them all. This year we were a bit late arriving and my mom had to fend off a squirrel who liked the look of the brightly coloured eggs, and maybe has a bit of a sweet tooth.

Easter egg hunt
They gathered all the eggs and only had to fend off one squirrel who thought he should have the eggs too.
Comparing numbers.

Now I think we have finally made it through to spring. I got the front garden all cleaned up and the bulbs are starting to flower. I have a few crocus, hyacinths, and iris coming up. The daffodils are shooting out of the ground as fast as they can, with the tulips following quickly behind them. I love this time of year, watching everything erupt with the heat of the sun.

Leah Loving the warm weather, good for chalk drawings and bubbles!
Ava checking on the flowers in the garden.

We ripped the carpet out of the office a couple of weeks ago, and now that the warm weather is here. I have a feeling that we won’t finish that project until October. There are more fun things to do outside, like getting the garden going, and Cottage Opening should be just around the corner. If the ice would get out of the river!

Welcoming the New Year

I finally have 10 minutes to spare. Well, I guess I will see how long this lasts before a small voice calls for 1 more cup of water or another hug and kiss good night.  It is good to finally be getting back into the routine after two weeks of holidays. The girls had so much fun being together, however I think I finally understand why parents want the kids back in school so much.

We have enjoyed the family time we have spent together. It was a games and puzzles Christmas for the girls, so we have spent many days playing the new games and being outside. Even though it was cold we got a few toboggan runs in. The new sleds the girls got are almost like the crazy carpets I had, but have a bit of padding and don’t go quite as quickly.

Rouge Bella Bar in Pink
Rouge Bella Bar in Pink!

Surrounded by presents! Which thing do we try first!

 

Leah testing out her new sled!

Ava loves her new sled.
Tobogganing at Granny’s. Always a blast!
Ava loves to ride with Granny on the sled. Kodi likes the trip too!

It has been a busy January for us. I have been spending a bit more time at Crossfit Rebuild( http://www.crossfitrebuild.com  ) preparing for my competition that was on Saturday. I was thrilled to place 3rd in the women’s scaled division. It was great to get back into the competition space. It had the same feel as a dance competition and I was at home right away. I met so many wonderful people and got to cheer on a few others who were competing from our box. Check out my instagram page for some pictures from the event!

Leah has discovered a love for Flamingos and had asked for Flamingo Pyjamas for Christmas. Turns out finding kids clothes with flamingos on them in December is a very hard task! So I made a trip to Len’s mills and got some awesome pink flamingo fabric and made up a cute set of PJs for her. She hasn’t really taken them off since. I am going to have to find a “stain” on them and get them washed soon!

Ava is growing like a weed and becoming a great helper in the kitchen. We have started making cookies together on Fridays after we drop Leah off at school. She loves to measure and wash the dishes. I can’t believe she will turn four in just a few short months. She is begging to start school in the fall. I don’t know if she will be ready, or for the most part will I be ready?

Ah, there’s the small voice. Someone needs to be tucked in again. I remind myself that they are only small once, and one day they won’t want to be tucked in anymore.

Cheers!

Getting ready for Christmas

The Christmas season is finally here! We have decked the halls, and trimmed the tree. It is all looking rather festive, perhaps a bit cluttered…

Getting the tree up and decorated is probably the most exciting part of getting ready for Christmas for the kids. We get the tree and it sits in the stand for a few days to relax the branches and get a good drink, and then we get the big boxes out of the basement and the girls just can’t wait to see the lights and hang the decorations. We usually sing Christmas carols and have sugar cookies. By the time it’s up and decorated, the girls are wired and it’s way past bedtime, but that is most fun.

Getting the 900 lights on the tree.
Starting to hang the decorations.
unpacking the box is half the fun.
Admiring the tree and asking if Santa is going to come tonight

The girls are having so much fun with the snow that is ever so slightly starting to accumulate. Tobogganing is great this year as Ava is finally able to get around in her snow suit without too much help and they can stay outside for much longer periods of time. As much as I complain about driving in it, I love the excuse to go out and play in the snow! Building forts and sledding are some of my favourite things to do. This year we have started making some small ramps on the hill to make us go a little further into the yard. I am so happy that we have such a good hill in our own backyard.

There may just be a sprinkling of snow, but we have to get the sleds out.
Cheeky grins all around.

We have started doing so Christmas prep around the house, some baking, and some handmade Christmas cards. I had some friends over last weekend and we made some beautiful gingerbread houses, as well as some sugar cookies. The girls really enjoyed building the houses and are slowly eating their way through houses. I fear some of the gingerbread boys and girls only have one leg or one arm.

Getting the stamps out for Christmas cards
Ava preferred to fill a page with paint… She’s still working on the finer points of stamps…
Our cards are drying and almost ready to send.
Our decorated Gingerbread houses!
Sugar cookies!

I finally got around to taking some Christmas photos of the girls. I am going to share one of the not so great ones as it is kind of funny and show that pictures I share are usually one of 50 or 100 that just didn’t turn out as well.

The girls Christmas photo for this year.
Our not so great photo. I call it “The grumpy elves revolt!”

 

A trip to the zoo, and other stories.

We have been busy as always since the last time I was able to check in. We made a family trip to the Toronto Zoo with my mom and dad. Going back as a guest was kind of strange after having spent many summers working with the pony ride, that appears to no longer be there. It was also so much fun watching the kids see all the animals for the first time.We packed a large picnic lunch and spent the whole day and saw pretty much everything. I forgot how big the zoo really was.  Leah’s favourite animal turned out be the flamingos. She also really liked seeing the giraffes and the tigers. Ava’s favourite was the gorillas. It was a cool wet day and many of the animals were very close and active.  I am looking forward to taking the kids again maybe in the summer when it is a bit warmer.

a visit with the Giant Pandas
Leah having a bite to eat, the Komodo dragon was watching closely.
A gorilla, contemplating the meaning of an opposable thumb…
Leah, Ava and Granny checking out a pigmy hippo.
Zebras up close and personal.
Giraffe! Leah asked the see these first.
Sumatran tiger.
A pile of baby snow leopards. One of my favourites.
Leah, Ava and Granny reading some signs.
We found Dory!

Halloween was also a a bunch of fun. The girls enjoyed dressing up, Leah was Elsa again and Ava was a genie.

Elsa and Shimmer. They couldn’t stand still. Thus, this is the best photo we got.

Nick and I finally got most of the fall clean up done in the last week or so. It seems just in time to get the yard waste bags out for the last pick up. Also just in time as the first snow was upon us that evening. The girls were so excited about the snow they woke up early so that they could play outside before Leah went to school. Ava enjoyed the first sled run of the season.

On a mission!
The first run is always the best!

Christmas is coming! Having kids of a certain age has really made me enjoy celebrating the season a bit earlier. We got the lights up on the house outside and my dad came and built our winter planter. It is looking very festive. Our Christmas tree has also made an appearance. It will have to wait a few days until we can put any decorations on it and with that, the Christmas season is upon us. I have been busy making lists and planning various Christmas cooking expeditions for dad and I to embark on. The LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine always has so many fun and different recipes to try and play with. It is time to stock up on things before the mad rush at the end.  I got some beautiful alpaca wool today, I have some projects in mind for that. Well, off to check out some cyber Monday deals. I’m sure it will be just as successful as black Friday i.e. nothing purchased.

Fall Things

October is coming to a close and I’m finally finding some time to catch up on the many things that have happened since the last time I posted.

We enjoyed a beautiful weekend at the cottage. It was the last one of the season for the girls and myself. With such perfect weather it is really hard to close up and say goodbye for winter. We enjoyed a morning in the bush picking cranberries, and hiking around the swamp.

Learning about cranberries.
Cranberry in the sun.
Cranberries.

We stopped for a snack on the top of one of my favourite rocks and actually took a family photo for once. (see, we do things together)

All together!

After our hike, Leah and I tested the water, it was still pretty warm being the last day of September, however it was still chilly and the swim turned into more of a quick dip. However that is something that can go on the calendar as the latest swim of the season.

Leah deciding that the water might be just a little on the cold side.
I went for quick dip after supper, I’m so glad I did, but I am so glad that there was a fire in the cabin to sit by after!

Back home we got our apple picking done (look – another family photo! We are getting better at using the timer on the camera) and made several batches of apple sauce, a bunch of apple pies in the freezer and a couple apple crisps for the freezer too. I also made 11 jars of poached pears. I can’t wait to try them! The garden is finally producing some beautiful tomatoes and I grew enough tomatillos to make a jar of salsa verde properly rather than making it with mostly green tomatoes.

The girls enjoying the fall sunshine and a wagon ride!
Leah showing Dad how the wagon works.
All together again!
A beautiful apple catching the evening light.
Fresh heirloom tomatoes from the garden!
Salsa verde stewing.
The girls love the leaves that fall in the backyard.

This weekend I got most of the spring bulbs planted. I think this is the best weather I have had for planting. Im usually out in mitts and a hat, hoping that its still warm enough for the bulbs to settle in for the winter before frost sets in.

Cyclamen in full bloom, they are loving the heat too.
Planting bulbs. Loving the new Felco secateurs that my mom got for Nick for his birthday. Naturally, I use them whenever I can get my hands on them.

Im hoping that the weather holds out for a few more days so I can get the last 120 bulbs in. The girls are getting excited for Halloween, They have their costumes ready and I will hopefully get some pumpkins this week. Pinterest has some new and great ideas (as always) that I am excited to try. Off to bed now, school in the morning.