Thursday, April 28, 2011

This is a Test!

I am testing myself.  I am a person who tends to take on too much at times.  I love to make things, fix things, grow things and do things.  The last few years I have been challenging myself to slow down a bit.  And ooooh, is it ever tricky for me.  So...I am testing myself.  When we moved here I found an apricot tree -a very sadly neglected but still living apricot tree - down the bank amidst some dead apricot trees and, what looks like, some plum trees.  Here is my challenge - I am going to see if I can leave this tree well enough alone.  No pruning.  No mulching.  Not even going to pick off the old mummies (even though I KNOW they are harbouring brown rot fungus which I used to oh so painstakingly pick off my old tree!  Horrors!!).  No, none of that.  I am only going to enjoy whatever fruit it gives us just as I have enjoyed the beautiful blossoms it is giving us right now.  So delicate and beautiful.

Now...why couldn't I have issued myself the same challenge for the wallpaper in the bedroom?  That is definitely something that should have been left well enough alone.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Through My Child's Eyes

W went for a hike down the bank today with his camera.  He sent me this picture when he returned.  I love getting to see things through the eyes of my boys.  When my boys were little I came across this quote:

A mother focuses the lens through which her children view life.

I've always found that to be quite true and wonderful - and it can also feel like a beautiful, huge responsibility at times too- and now I find it so interesting to have a chance to view things through their lens...literally too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Favourite Thing!

My friend Anne used to enjoy telling this joke about dogs (partly, I think, because she loved dogs and partly because she loved to laugh) and I always enjoyed hearing her tell it because it always made her laugh.  I loved her laugh and, even though I miss it very much, there are some days when I feel that I can still hear it. 

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!

1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favorite thing!

7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

That's the joke and the reason I was thinking about Anne and that joke yesterday and today was because it occurred to me that much of the time I am not unlike that dog, things capture my attention and I can't help but think- my favourite thing!

Yesterday morning we had an Easter egg hunt.  My favourite thing!

I found a dark chocolate bunny.  My favourite thing!

We puttered outside in the garden.  My favourite thing!

I did some edging.  My favourite thing!

The sun was shining, the sky was blue and it was gorgeous and warm.  My favourite thing!

We ate lunch outside on the deck.  My favourite thing!

Rhodo blooms are starting to open.  My favourite thing!

Friends came for dinner.  My favourite thing!

We made perogies together and had time to really talk.  My favourite thing!

And had delicious hand-made apple pie and angel food cake and ice cream.  My favourite things!

This morning at work I got to drive the tractor for the first time this year.  My favourite thing!

Oh!  Killdeer eggs on the ground right by the garden.  My favourite thing!

Planted loads of seeds and seedlings out.  My favourite thing!

Do you see what I mean?  And so now I can't help but wonder if I have more in common with a dog than most people or if everyone feels this way.  Does everyone have endless amounts of favourite things?  I have to say that I'm not too worried about this doggy tendency because I've always thought that dogs, in general, are pretty happy creatures so it must be a good thing to think rather like them.  Right? ;-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Eggs

There is just something I love about traditions - the constancy, the stability, the...comfort, I suppose of knowing that each year around the same time you will take part in the same thing.  Whether it is making heart-shaped somethings, planting seeds, dyeing eggs, going camping, beach days, harvest celebrations, Solstice fires or Christmas gift making there is a rhythm to our lives that I love.  I look forward to each of these things and, in good times and trying times, I know that these things will occur...and I feel a sense of comfort in that.
I have coloured eggs every year of my life that I can recall - actually my family often came up here to the very city where I now make my home to dye eggs with our extended family.  I happily recall Easter egg hunts with cousins and delicious meals made by my aunt (with Amazing mashed potatoes).  My mom made traditions an important part of my childhood and I am extremely grateful for it.
My boys have also always dyed eggs.  I expect (and hope) we will always do so (yes, I am picturing them bringing their children to "Gramma's" house to dye eggs). 
We've had a trying couple weeks here - unexpected news of cancer and major surgery in our family.  Feeling very unsettled and uncertain.  Feeling very grateful and relieved to get good news Monday that all had gone well.  Counting our blessings.  And...on Wednesday...having a last-minute visit from a dear friend and deciding to dye eggs with her and her littles.  Using brown eggs because that is what we had (I usually make a point of buying white for dyeing) and enjoying the difference the shell colour made in end result. 
And this is E's favourite - his dragon's egg.  Beautiful.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Salad Garden

When we first moved in I found this patch of ground that I'm pretty sure must have once been home to some veggies (there is a chive plant there and not much else besides weeds).  I decided to make it our salad garden since I will still have a large garden in town (that I feel very blessed to have access to) where I will grow most of our food. 
I'm in the process of clearing it out.  I planted some greens and radish there last week and am now trying to figure out a way to keep my cat from digging up all the seeds!!  Today we are having an unexpected day (mostly) at home and so we will plant some peas out there against the wall as well (with more peas to be planted in town to try to satisfy E's hunger for fresh peas).
Yesterday after work I was given a bag of freshly grown greens from the greenhouse.  What a treat!  E kept taking some and eating them and I kept saying that they were for dinner.  Finally I gave up and we both munched away for a had been so long since we'd had fresh young greens - because I do try to keep to local and/or in season foods as much as possible, E had only convinced me to buy him had lettuce twice since our last harvest.  He loves lettuce and was delighted with the gifted fresh greens and I was delighted to see him appreciate and savour them as the seasonal goodness that they are - there simply is no comparison between just picked greens and store-bought shipped greens.  Happily there were enough greens left for dinner as well and those we enjoyed with our favourite liquid gold dressing (we use grapeseed and/or olive oil instead of flax, parsley instead of cumin and always raspberry vinegar not balsamic - this is SO good that you want to drink it!).  So nice to be at the start of growing season again and have all sorts of fresh vegetables to look forward to.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rag Rugs, Beauty and...the Humble Cabbage

I've enjoyed making crocheted rag rugs since my sister-in-law showed me how to about, oooh...probably almost 15 years ago.  A little while ago my friend gave me a couple old sheets that are the perfect colour to use as a rug in E's newly painted bedroom.  I painted his room as soon as we moved in and, since it has wooden floors, would like to get his rug done as soon as possible - they make for a great spot to sit while playing Lego or sketching and they also make it more likely that a feline friend will venture into your room for a nap. 
Crochet rugs are very quick to make once you have the ripped sheets ironed into strips (it really is worth doing this step because it makes for a much nicer looking and way longer lasting rug).  Normally I find this part of rug making a bit of a drag but in this house I decided to bring the ironing board into the sun room to make this task enjoyable.  Yes, that's right...enjoyable. No, I'm not an ironing fan but the view from this sun room makes any task a pleasure.  I mentioned how blessed we feel to be living here and this is one of the reasons.
Most of our time inside is spent in this room.  It makes a great spot to eat meals, read, play, chat, grow seedlings(!!) and just sit and look out the windows.  Beautiful!  I would like to make a rug for this room too (I have a feeling it will be a bit cold in the wintertime due to all the windows across the whole front) but I'd like to try making a braided one out of recycled wool clothing, that sounds like a good wintertime project.  Now the only problem is that his rug seems to hit a bit of a stall because we keep having sunny weather and I have a very hard time working on anything but the gardens when the sun is shining.
Now, I'm sure my dear friend would tell me that perhaps if I stopped doing things like rescuing people's cabbage seedlings (by pricking the extras out of 4 flats of someone else's seedlings) then I would have more time for other things but how was I to resist?  I never have been able to toss out or cut off seedlings and apparently I can't even bear to hear about other people planning to do this.  So...I now have about 88 cabbage seedlings living happily in the sunroom.  It's a good thing I hadn't finished making up my garden plan yet. ;-)
One of the reasons I couldn't resist is that cabbages are so easy to store for winter use and also because of my family's love for cabbage salad and coleslaw.   You wouldn't have been able to resist either, would you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Counting My Blessings

I am a big fan of "counting your blessings" although I admit that that saying used to annoy me.  Perhaps it was because older relatives would say it to me when I was a teen and wanting to complain about something.  These days I take it quite literally and I actually do count my blessings.  I write them in a gratitude journal, I say them to myself each day, I give thanks out loud for particularly wonderful or touching blessings and sometimes...sometimes I take photos of them but always I am aware of the multitude of blessings in my life.  Friday afternoon the boys and I took a break from working to do something we'd been looking forward to since we knew we were moving here...actually something I've been looking forward to doing for many years.  This move brings us back quite close to our old neighbourhood and that means we are back near our old bakery and little neighbourhood grocer but now I'm actually close enough to bike to it.  Hurrah!  So Friday afternoon the boys and I donned our helmets, got out our bikes and E timed us to see how long it would take to get there.  Five minutes.  Five minutes to delicious fresh made bread.  Definitely a blessing!
I was so tickled to be able to get my bread (without even a plastic bag) and tuck it into my basket to bike home.  E made us mushroom soup again and when S got home we happily had our fresh rye bread with soup.  S asked me if I was tickled pink to have been able to ride to the bakery and, as I happily nodded my head, W answered (in his dry way), "Yes, she even made me take a picture".  I really did and now I can share it with you. ;-)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Finding Treasures

One silver lining of moving into a new place is finding treasure tucked away in gardens that were planted by someone else at long time ago.  This home has a yard that tells me this was once a well-loved home with a well-loved yard.  We've been finding all sorts of treasures in the flower beds and I know there are many more hidden treasures that haven't started to come up yet. 

One of the first things we found (besides crocus) was a huge planting of forsythia so I couldn't resist bringing in a jar full of branches to force an early bloom -such a cheery plant to bring indoors.  Then we found hellebores, what a beautiful bloom these have.
Then my nose led me to this gorgeous plant, Rose Daphne, and I've since found several more - two yesterday that are tucked under huge evergreens and in desperate need of transplanting to somewhere they won't be covered in needles and will get some light.  They have the most delicious scent of anything I've smelled and rank right up there with plumeria, old roses and lilacs as personal favourites.
We've also found loads of Prairie Crocus (in a deeper purple than the ones I had in our old garden), Grape Hyacinth, tulips (E is thrilled - he missed the tulips at our old home so much) and yesterday I also spied tiny buds of hyacinth coming up in one bed.
Lovely!  And now, although I can tell what to expect in many of the beds due to the leaves and stalks left from last year, I can't wait to see what else we come across that is still hidden from view beneath the soil.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thrifty Thursday...a Day Late

This move brings us back to our old neighbourhood so we were happy to return to our old home branch of this library system and see our favourite librarian again.  We're also back by our old favourite thrift store and so we thought we'd better stop off and see what they had.  I was happy to find two very fun handmade aprons.  This one I LOVE because of the pocket on the front, the whole flowered part is just one big pocket - perfect for clothespins, seed packets or all sorts of other things.
Plus I love the little ric-rac trim detail on the pocket edges.
And this one I love because it is reversible.
How fun!
I also found some lovely linen napkins in a very cherry spring colour that I couldn't resist at 4 for 25 cents!
We put them to use that night when E made us some Hungarian Mushroom soup for dinner.  It was beyond delicious!
There is just so much to love about thrifting - the unique treasures we find, not consuming more brand new goods, no packaging and very inexpensive.  I always especially love finding someone else's handmade things and enjoy giving them a loving home where they will be used and loved.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


We've had so much going on these last couple weeks including a week with no Internet access that I haven't been able to post here.  Happily we were so busy outdoors that none of us noticed the lack of Internet all that much (although I did hear W grumbling about it a bit since he uses it for his online courses and was also missing having easy contact with his friends).  There has been lots of cleaning, unpacking, exploring, digging new garden beds, pruning, weeding, edging and, best of all...
seed planting!  Oh, what a treat for me to get my seeds out and get some plants started.  First priority went to tomatoes, of course, and I've got Scinocca Plum, Franchi Italian red pear1884 Beefsteak, Azoychka Orange Beefsteak, Amish Brandywine, Striped German,  Djena Lee's Golden Girl (we love the description of this one from The Cottage Gardener) and more.   I especially love being able to plant my saved tomato seeds and I've got Tigerella, huge long-pointed paste, Andrea's Large Round Italian, Silvery Fir, Yellow Pear Cherry, Brown Berry Cherry, Red Roma Cherry and some paste varieties. 
I planted these with a friend on Friday and then on Saturday I asked S if there were any particular varieties he wanted more of or if he thought we needed more. We did a quick count of how many were already planted and then his answer was that "88 tomato plants almost seems normal", meaning that I'd never done anything in a normal way before so why stop now with only 88 plants.  And, instead of taking this as an insult, I took it as encouragement and planted more. :-)  Now, I just need to find more tables to put in the sun room because the table and book shelf are filled.  There are so many tomato varieties I'd love to try -Boxcar Willie is one, just because my mom used to have a cat with the same name - wouldn't it be nice to be able to taste one of every tomato and then choose your favourites to plant? Would love to hear if you have a particular "must-try" favourite.