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.

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.

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”