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!

 

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.