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.

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.

Christmas crafts

Finally a chance to sit down at the computer. I am so happy that it is finally my weekend! The weather this week has really got us thinking about how Canadian we are – who else checks the current road conditions and current weather statements before getting out of the bed in the morning? It was a nice change to not have to clean my car off this morning before work.

Leah learning all about snow shovelling

I didn’t make it to work on Saturday because of snow and road conditions, this unexpected day off thrilled the girls to bits. We spent the morning making an excellent toboggan run in the back yard, followed by a walking trip to the park, where the girls discovered bigger hills and that snow makes the slides a lot shorter.

In the last week or two the weather has gotten colder and snowier. It is hard to spend as much time outside as we do in the summer, so I have been setting up more indoor projects.

Before the real snow came, I made some simple homemade snow for the girls. It is made with 1/2 cup hair conditioner and 2 cups baking soda. It has an endothermic reactions so it really feels like snow, and it packs and kind of rolls up like snow too.

Ava playing the in fake snow
Leah playing in the fake snow

Leah and I made some paper snowflakes to hang in our front hall. These are one of my favourite crafts. They look awesome and really don’t take that much work to make. Link (http://www.craft-craft.net/christmas-ornament-paper-snowflake-tutorial.html) The only thing I change – and it’s merely for ease and time – instead of glue I use staples.

Leah and I making paper snow flakes
Finished!
Snowflakes hanging in the hall

We got the tree up! The girls love helping me dig out all the decorations and put everything on. It is one of my favourite things to share with the girls. I remember going out with my mom to harvest all the evergreen for wreaths, swags, and garlands and the house would be filled with the fresh smells of pine, cedar, and fir.

Starting to get the lights on the tree
All done!

The one other project we did in the last couple weeks was making borax snowflakes. Theses were a simple craft that we could do all together and watch as the crystals formed on the pipe cleaner. I mixed 1/3 cup of borax to 2 cups of water, I tried boiled water and just the hottest water out of the tap and both worked effectively, I found the tap water to work a bit faster.

Pipe cleaner snowflakes
Snowflakes soaking in the borax
Snowflake in the tree!

Its the final week before Christmas! I have sugar cookies to decorate and presents to wrap. I can’t wait to see their smiling faces with the surprises that will be under the tree. I’m hoping to attempt a Buche de Noel. There is a recipe on Pinterest that has been catching my eye for a year or so and perhaps its time to try. The next time I get around to updating this, it will probably be after Christmas and probably after New Years. So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and all the best in the New Year!

Leah rolling out sugar cookies

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Fall.

Well, November disappeared in a hurry. I still can’t believe how nice the weather has been. We spent as much time as we could outside. Leah and Ava really love the trees we have in back yard. Playing in the giant leaf piles we make is so much fun. With the cold weather coming, there are frozen puddles about and the kids love playing with the ice.

Leah playing in the leaves
Leah and Ava in the leaves
Ava rediscovering ice.

In the last couple of weeks we have made some crafts for Christmas. Pinterest is very inspiring; however, we end up with so many little projects and its hard to decide which ones to keep. The kids and I love stretching our crafting skills as each project brings a new challenge. I love the hand print art the best, watching their little hands grow every year. Time goes by just too quickly.  We started working on a new craft for the grandparents for christmas. I can’t give away too many secrets but there are some pictures of before its completed.

Hand print Cardinals
Christmas craft in the making
Christmas craft in the making

We have been rather under the weather the last couple of weeks, so we have been taking it slower. Leah was so sick that her giant stuffed Nessie suffered a flu explosion and never really smelled the same. It was old and looking rather torn so I made her a new one with a slightly modified pattern. Hopefully this one will last a bit longer.

Leah and her new Loch Ness Monster.

Our family grew a little bit this month, we got a new dog! His name is Hawk.  He really enjoys playing with the kids and Ginger.

Hawk
Leah and Hawk playing in the back yard

I got a a couple of christmas photos of the girls this week. I can’t believe that December is here! Time to get that Christmas tree up soon!

Leah and Ava all ready for Christmas.
Santa’s little elves