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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Puttering in the garden

Feels like summer is finally here!

I got the summer planters up and potted up on the deck and the garden is brimming with life. The fig looks like we might actually get some fruit this year.

Planters on the deck

I got some much needed weeding done while the girls were doing one of their favourite summer activities, painting packing paper that has been taped down to the deck. They have complete freedom as it is outside, and we just turn the hose on the kids and the deck after.

The lettuce is tasting great and growing faster than we can eat it, The beets and carrots are getting eaten by I think peter cotton tail, or maybe his chipmunk friend. I think they realize that a Pomeranian is not the most vicious and can outrun her.  There are lots of games of chicken that seem to be happening, it is rather entertaining to watch them interact.

Ginger sunbathing in the garden and monitoring the squirrel activity.

It is great to have my kitchen planters back too. Fresh basil, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, dill, mint, and many others make all the food taste so much better. The girls love grazing in the gardens everyday. I have to keep an eye on my mint and sorrel, Ava is eating faster than I can harvest it for dinners.

Nasturtium flower

We will soon have some peas, and zucchini ready to eat, I have a feeling i will be making lots of zucchini bread, in the future.  I can’t believe how tall my potato plants are getting, they are almost outgrown the tomatoes. I hope they give us a good crop.  The peppers are really liking the heat and have produced lots of babies that are working on ripening. I am going to pickle a bunch of hot peppers again this year. I just opened last years batch and it would appear that I need a slightly different recipe with less mustard seed in it.

Peas
Zucchini

The hops have really taken off this year too and promptly climbed all the way up the deck railing and are quickly running out of space. I have heard of pickling the hop shoots, so I might give that a go, apparently its similar to a pickled asparagus.

Golden hops