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!

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.

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.