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!

 

October in our house

Thanksgiving has come and gone, so has Halloween. I have been very busy  the last few weeks with Thanksgiving prep, costumes to make, and candy to gather. In the last bit of nice weather I got all the spring bulbs in the ground, and started tucking in the plants for the winter. There are a few things left to do, so I hope the warmish weather holds out just a little bit longer.

We had our usual Thanksgiving traditions this year with a visit to The Rockton Worlds Fair, followed by a very hearty meal prepared by my father and Nick.

My mom and I take the kids to the fair for the day while the men stay home to cook. Leah and Ava take in as much as possible, however the rides still seem to be the biggest hit. I have been going to the fair for as long as I can remember. My mom and I have volunteered in the Ag Alive tent for many years helping with the Cambridge Spinners and Weavers booth. Ava loves the horses and chicks the best and Leah seems to be more fond of the cows.

Ava and the chick
Playing the corn pit in the Ag alive tent at the Rockton Fair

Leah built up the courage to pet a ball python, turns out she really likes snakes as well.

Leah and the Ball Python

After our busy day we headed home. I made three different desserts this year. A sweet potato pound cake, an apple pie and a pumpkin pie.

Apple pie, Pumpkin pie and Sweet potato pound cake

Then it was time to get ready for Halloween.  It all started with a visit to Shantz Family Farm in Mannheim, http://shantzfarm.ca  We picked up some pumpkins and gourds for decorations.

Pumpkin picking at Shantz Family Farm

Thanks to Pinterest, I have discovered that there are so many different ways to carve a pumpkin. I tend to use a drill as my primary tool in carving now. We created two fun pumpkins and two scary faces.

Pumpkin Carving

The kids were too excited to take a nice picture of costumes together. Leah was Elsa and Ava was a ladybug.

All dressed up and ready to go

Nick was able to get a few days off the first week of November, so we headed to one of our favourite travel spots, Kingston ON. We stay with Nick’s Aunt, and visit with his grandfather.

Playing the organ at their great grandfather’s house

We spent a fair bit of time there over the years and have developed many favourite places to eat and see. It is wonderful to head back year after year and have it stay mostly the same. We had perfect weather for the time of year we were there, and enjoyed walking along the waterfront and playing in one of the lovely large parks that is there.

All the girls playing at the park
Leah at the park
Ava playing at the park
Walk home through the warm fall day, surrounded by beautiful fall colour
Arie den Otter surrounded by Nick and his great granddaughters.
Leah and I sitting by the lake on a stunning November day.

We had dinner at one of our favourite places, The Kingston Brew pub (http://www.kingstonbrewing.ca), and lunch at another, Atomica(http://www.atomica.ca). As well as a stop at Pan Chancho’s(http://www.panchancho.com) Nick and I have been eating at these places for 10 years now and they never really change. The food is always fantastic, the atmosphere is charming, with a mix of “did I really just overhear that?” and above all it brings back so many happy memories.

 

Well here it is November already! I suppose that Christmas will come sooner than I am ready for it. My closet is slowly filling with little gifts and crafts to finish assembling.  I have already heard a little bit of Christmas music and seen some windows in some shops preparing for the rush of holiday shoppers. I always hope to avoid the last minute rush, but there is always one thing or another that gets forgotten until the last moment.

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.

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!