Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cooking with my Oval

Not a great picture, but should be able to get the gist of it. I got DH an indoor foot operated log splitter! You pump it with your foot, it forces the wedge into the wood and VOILA! Split wood or kindling if you so desire.

Fits perfectly under the wood stove when not in use.

I'm going to build a twin section wood box outta pine next week, one side to store kindling and the other for larger pieces for cooking and heating. The splitter makes life easy in a pinch I can get the size I need.

I bought two lifters for the stove, glad I did! Makes life easier when I want to get at the firebox quickly and to adjust the damper. GUESS WHAT! My cast iron Wok fits perfectly over the firebox when you remove the lid. The seal is as tight with the wok as with the lid in place!

I made lazy lasagna tonight on the cook stove. This is a picture of it, just outta the oven and being served up. I moved the rack up and was able to broil the top after it was baked. Tea water boiling beside it, and more on the go as I type.

I'm thinking the electric stove/oven is becoming a glorified clock! Might even become a bread box in the near future. I'm so excited about the water jacket, it seems to be working very well. I guess we'll know when the hydro bill comes next month. I know we are saving on oil, if all goes well we won't be needing anymore this season.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

and a good time was had by all...

Christmas morning hugging at Lee's house!

An outdoor arrangement that I made...taken before the snow!

Our new kitten, Baxter, that we rescued.....$300 later and the vet throws in a little christmas scarf.......
Annie helping with a batch of peppermint patties...

Christmas dinner with my was delicious and really fun!

We had a really lovely, quiet Christmas. It goes by so fast tho! Cheers!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dec 1st..let the holiday rumpus begin!

Kate and Cass....random photo unrelated to my post:)

Lee here....We have snow on the ground and are listening to my all time favorite Christmas cd :) I like to wait till Dec 1 to play Christmas music, start making cookies and crafts, break out the decorations etc....anything before that and its just too much.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tea Why

Me again..another photo since its so easy to do!! Stef with the band she is in "Tea Why" and her boyfriend on drums. Playing at the Organic Underground.


Its me, Lee. Oh my goodness I cannot believe how fast photos download with highspeed!! This is a picture of my daughter busking at the local farmers market in Stirling this past summer....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where did the time go?

Oh yeah! I was busy gardening, enjoying summer and just got back from our annual homeschooler campout! So much for the garden wisdom and pics we were all going to share throughout the season. I am definetely a winter computer chick. Time for catching up:) Lee

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's already May!

Its a dark but warm day today and its going to rain any second.....As I went outside, robins were in the yard I assume looking for bugs. The road was covered with worms and I wanted to scoop them up for my garden and then wondered why the robins didnt just come out onto the road to get them? Why isnt the road covered with birds feasting on worms? And why are worms all over the road after it rains? Why not just hang out on the grass? Any ideas? to google.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Green heron

I wish I could say I took this picture....but it's one I got off of the internet. I wanted to post this beautiful bird because we have one on our pond! He is very shy though and I haven't been able to get close enough for a picture. (I will have to get out into the duck blind by he was on the pond when I got up at 6am) We have had them for about 3 years now and think/hope they are nesting somewhere down at the pond. Yesterday he was at the pond for most of the day, just standing in the water and catching frogs and tadpoles too I guess. They have an amazing sound too!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Duck blind

Aidan and I decided to sneak down to the pond to take a closer look at the wood ducks (via the woods, so they wouldn't see us approaching) and decided we needed a duck blind at the pond's edge so we could watch them. We used pine branches that we had trimmed off some trees a couple of weeks ago. We stacked and piled them on three sides so we would be able to see them on both ends of the pond. I want to be able to sit down there and be hidden so that the ducks won't notice me. Maybe I'll be able to get some photos too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Birthday money

Annie bought more Lego..this time a farm!

A Poem.... by Kate Nicholas

Home Again, then Roam Again

Grey sidewalks and blvds,
as far as the eye can see.
Chewing gum and parking meters
on every single street.
Buildings tower, the sky they scrape.
Oh how I wish I could escape,
the sewer smells, polluted air,
the "getting hit by a taxi" scare.
Oh how I long for the country,
sweet smells and starlit nights.
The wolves howl to the moon lit bright,
their howls sound like men
saying "oh damn! let me catch that bus
so I can be home again".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I love Spring for it’s renewal. Everything begins again and I find it the most hopeful season. ANYTHING seems possible! Out here, it begins with the pond. First the ducks come, usually a few mallards, then the wood ducks arrive. Greg and I saw the female try out the wood duck box! So hopefully we’ll have baby ducks on the pond again this year. Then we begin to hear the frogs calling…spring peepers, wood frogs, leopard frogs as well as the trill of the American toad. We haven’t heard the call of the green frog, which sounds like the twang of a banjo string, or the bullfrogs yet, as they are the last to join in the singing. Soon we’ll be able to see the clumps of frog’s eggs and the strings of toad’s eggs. On Sunday, Greg and I were down at the pond and saw a painted turtle and 2 snakes! They looked like black rat snakes…so cool! (from a distance..) We also have a muskrat on the pond, only visible with the binoculars from the house, because he slips under water if we try and get any closer.

The yard too is filled with signs of spring.
There are several robins around, digging
through the newly raked garden beds for
worms, and building yet another nest on
the posts of our porch.
(we’re up to 6 now!) Today, while I was
raking I uncovered a very cold, very
slow-moving salamander.

The early blooming flowers of Hepatica and Lungwort are lovely spots of colour in the otherwise brown gardens. (A walk in the woods will reveal more blossoms of the many wild flowers that will soon be up…that will be another day’s blog)

The tomato and pepper seedlings are still tiny, but coming along. As long as it’s sunny, I am able to put them into the little greenhouse/coldframe, as the temperature in there is always much warmer. Right now we’ve got 9 trays of seedlings, but they are still only in cell paks. Once they are transplanted in to their pots, the trays will only hold about 12 or 15 plants, instead of the 48 plants they hold now. My hope is that by the time the plants need to be transplanted to a pot, the temperature at night in the greenhouse will be steady at about 7 degrees and then we will not have to bring all of those trays in every night and back out every morning…usually we do have to do that for a couple of weeks, but I started the seedlings later this year, so maybe we’ll only have to do it for a few days.
Either way, I do love that little contraption and am thankful that I am able to grow so many plants. The onions, lettuce, greens and chard have been able to stay in the greenhouse overnight for a while now. They are not so tender and aren’t hurt by the cold, but I’m sure a bit more sun would really get them growing too!

Another thing I love about spring is the fact that although it’s too wet to get into my vegetable gardens, I can still work outside on my perennial beds! I have started 2 new ones. One near the compost area ( where the old pile was) and one near the house along the front walk, where we have a few big rocks that needed a garden around them! I built the front garden as a ‘lasagna’ garden. I laid wet sections of newspapers all over the grass where I wanted to garden to be, they covered it with a layer of leaves, then some soil and compost, then hay, then more soil, then more leaves. I then covered it with a black tarp to really get it ‘cooking’. I had to cut a few holes in the tarp, because I actually have a few plants started in that garden…a little bush, and a hosta from zee last year, and I transplanted my hydrangea into that garden too. I hope to let that sit for a few weeks and then start planting more things into it. If I could, I would spend all day outside in my gardens!

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
- Margaret Atwood

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Feeling crappy today:(

I am getting a cold..Im taking oregano oil again hoping to nip it in the bud and should have taken it as soon as Kate and Annie got colds.

I feel like a slacker...I should be doing some fundraising for the Relay for Life. So many things I could be doing outside. The house is messy. I have no energy. I'm going for a walk today even tho I dont feel like it but I know I will be happy I did. aaarrrrgggghhhh.... Sigh.....(hoping that sums up how I feel) Lee

Thursday, April 16, 2009

a day spent outside

Annie so desires a tree house, that for the time being, she has created a little perch for herself. She made a shelf and a basket with a rope and even made a flag...I had to hoist up (the 4 feet) water and snacks and her novel and stuffed animal.
And look!!! I have lettuce mix growing in my cold frame!! Not sure what will happen to it but it will be fun to watch!!

A yummy snack

Lee in the kitchen:) I found these little appetizer sized vegetable samosas at the grocery store and they are surprisingly good..let alone easy to just throw in the oven for a yummy snack or lunch! With PC "memories of Thailand" Spicy red pepper sauce...mmmmmmm.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's a sandwich!

Yup..this is how we treat our guests!


Lee here..some of the seeds we planted have now been transplanted into bigger pots. It gave me the chance to thin some of them out and free up space from seeds that didn't sprout. I think next time I will bypass the little containers (the egg cartons and peat pops) and go right for these larger pots, expecially for things like perenials, herbs and the marigolds Annie started. I am going to plant some lettuce and other greens directly in the soil in one of my cold frames. I'm happy to see some success with these seeds. The lettuce that we planted got long and spindly too fast...and I dont have the space inside at the moment to put them into larger pots...for something that grows really well directly in the ground. Lots of lessons to be learned:)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's sunny this morning!! Okay, it's only 1 degree, but there's sun!! I have been craving the sun and so have my seedlings. Poor little cold things, waiting for some heat and more light than the grow lights can provide. I hope to sit some of the tomato trays in the windows, just so they'll get some heat, since they aren't thru the soil yet. But I think I'll put the onions out in the greenhouse this morning. Tomorrow will be even warmer and I hope to put all the trays in the greenhouse (which will really heat up if it's sunny all day) I was compost building yesterday and have 3 huge piles ready to go into the gardens...what a stash this year! I still have work to finish on the new bins, but already I love composting more now that it's more organized. It's a lot like my house....if it gets disorganized, it gets too overwhelming and difficult to maintain. I want to get some old clothes/stuff/junk out of the house this spring. It always feels good to purge, sending some to the Sally Ann, some to the Rag Bag, and some to the Craft Box. But not is a good day to be outside! We hear the frogs all the time now; the spring peppers, the green frogs, and the leopard frogs. The wood ducks are on the pond everyday now, and I am hopeful they will use the duck box again this year. Every day there is much to look forward to and somehow the sun reminds me of that!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just Stuff

I've just finished reading the "House of Night" series by P.C Cast and Kristin Cast (Mother & Daughter) ok. there is one more to go "Hunted" but I've decided to wait until it's out in paper back. I think it could be a good T.V. series, have to wait and see. Reading stuff like House of Night has been a real time suck, to ease a really important time suck, like jumping up on the eliptical.

I've managed to set aside a heap of linen that will make oodles of double sided reusable bum wipes. I think I have enough for the whole family and even more to gift to family and friends... Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmans Kathee and Lee ;) and yup Papa! You're septic systems and butts will thank me in the New Year.

I finally finished my red lotus and OM symbol. "This symbolizes the original nature of the heart (hrdaya). It is the lotus of love, compassion, passion, activity and all the qualities of the heart." I want to add a quote, but alas the wall paper is anaglypta and is embossed, making it difficult to paint anything that requires detail or fine lines.

Now to tackle my clothes and find a practical solution for storing them. Wish me luck!

Zee.. over and out

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

As Ed Lawrence says...

Thank goodness we are having this break from spring. What a nice optimistic way to look at it lol. Too much of a good thing is never good right? I little break away from nice yard work weather in case we've already forgotten about the joys of winter. Its snowing here non stop. Our yard is completely covered and I had to trudge (as in its deep enough to need to trudge) through packy snow to get to the wood pile yet again. Anyone up for making a spring snowman? Temperatures supposed to rise enough this week to melt it...its good for the water table right?

Monday, April 6, 2009

gardening etc

It’s been ages since I’ve been on the blog. Aidan and I enjoyed our visit to Lee’s! The cold frame project was fun. It’s too bad we’re so far from each other that we can’t do more projects together…at least we can share stuff through the blog! Thanks for such a great visit Lee!!
Zee, I really enjoyed our (short but sweet) visit together too. SO MUCH to talk about, so little time!! Gardening of course is one of my favourite topics! And I totally agree…”A garden is never finished”. I feel like my gardens ‘evolve’. I have plans or ideas but as I start them, they seem to ‘happen’ the way they were meant to. I have plans this year of expanding the little garden I started last year on the hill on the left side of our yard. It’s almost impossible to cut the grass that grows there, so I have been turning it into gardens and will extend the path I made too. I have plans to work on our fire pit area too and a new perennial bed near my compost.
The compost area is the project I’m working on now. It’s too early to get into the garden, so it’s the perfect time to do the reno job I’ve been wanting to do for some time. I cleared an area to the west of where my compost used to sit and have expanded it to three bins. I was able to use the pallets I was using before, with only one new one needed. I got it all banged together, but plan on getting some slab wood and covering it, just so it looks cool, and I want to make a roof too. Here’s where it’s at right now…this is the old pile...and the new set-up...

I want to re-pile the winter compost and get it ‘working’ and will spread that out right near that area so it can become the new perennial bed. I have a lot of flowers that would do better in a wet spot, and this area is right near the creek so it’s perfect. I want to lay some newspapers then the compost, some soil and some hay. I’ll let that sit and ‘cook’ and then will add the perennials a little later as things warm up.
My greenhouse is up early this year. I call it ‘the little greenhouse that I hate to love’…I would love to have a ‘real’ greenhouse, but instead we make do with this contraption that we scab together every year. The structure is made of metal poles from part of our camping canopy as well as wood duct taped to the poles, then plastic stapled to the wood. We reinforce it with more wood on top of the staples, because the wind can be brutal. (Actually the wind IS brutal, and I have to say I really do NOT like the wind when it comes to my greenhouse) We got the greenhouse up early this year, so we will be ready to pop the trays of seedlings in as soon as they’re up. As long as the sun is out, it can get really warm in there. Of course, if it was a real greenhouse, we would be heating it and wouldn’t have to bring all the trays in every night. BUT, the only power we use is that of our legs and arms to truck them in and out, so I guess it’s much more environmentally sound than a real one! I do love it… So far, the onions are up and almost due for their first clipping. (I keep them cut to 4” tall) A few greens and a couple of lettuce are up, but looking a bit spindly. I pre-sprouted my pepper seeds and some were sprouted by Saturday, so I potted them up into cell paks. Tomatoes are the next to be sprouted. SUCH a great time of year!! (Just a bit more sun would make it perfect...)

Friday, April 3, 2009

London Fog

Annie with a London good as any Starbucks drink!

I got this recipe from the Nurturedbylove site posted on our side bar. Its so perfect for a rainy day such as today! Our power was out twice today for a total of 4 hours. Our house is just too cold and damp with all this rain so I had to go out and find dry fire wood and kindling..nice and warm in here now.

London Fog

Steep an earl grey tea bag in half a mug of boiling water

Add 1 Tbsp brown sugar and 1/4 tsp vanilla

Add steamed milk make it foamy, blend with submersible blender
Sprinkle with Cinnamin or nutmeg


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A visit from Kathy and Aidan!

It is so great to see friends in real life! Great conversation, yummy healthy food and we did some work too!!
Annie starting some seeds in a seed tray...letuce mix, tatsoi, basil, spinach and arugula and brocoli to eat as seedlings.
This is our lunch...salad, hummus, Kathy's spicy feta (post your recipe Kath!) and pita wedges.

Kathy drew some plans for my new cold frame (I will post a pic soon!) The math was way over my head!

Took three of us to cut a piece of wood:) We were trying to be environmentally friendly by using human power tools:)

The time went by too quickly!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The view from here.....

The lighting was so beautiful its difficult to capture!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Life is so incredibly crazy

The crazy is merely the result of not being able to accept the reality that life is just that, up and down, good days... bad days, grey then lit with hope.

"Things are always changing, so nothing can be yours. ~ Shuyryu Suzuki

As difficult as it can be, the message is to kick back and go with the flow. I'm learning to spend less time trying to alter the journey and accept where it leads me.

One of my favorite Garden quotes, from the same person above

"A Garden is never finished"

So stop grinding about what needs to be done and just do it in the spirit of fun, because no matter how many chores make your list, the garden will never be finished. What a gift this is! The joy and pain (in the arse, or any muscle group) a garden brings, it’s an ongoing, always changing, forever opportunity to learn... I'll die, my garden will flourish and the job of tending that garden will simply pass on to some other person providing a whole new opportunity to learn. I'm also thinking of other things we tend to. Like raising children or nurturing a relationship with a partner, that job will never be finished. Kathee and I were discussing an article in McLean’s magazine about timing sleep for children, training them to sleep to optimize a parent’s right to look after themselves. Such a strange concept, training and altering... heck molding children to better fit into our busy schedules. It makes me wonder how we value and recognize the purpose of life. You can waste a lot of time and energy trying to shape and mold things to create your perfect existence, or you can let the garden grow.

Life is crazy, this is what makes it so wonderful. You'll never finish all that needs to be done before you die, but you can certainly waste your time trying.

Kathee you inspire

Thursday, March 26, 2009

From Seed to Table

From Seed to Table. A Practical Guide to Eating and Growing Green by Janette Haase
Lee here... I saw this book at the library and brought it home. I think this is a nice general gardening book and I even love the weight and feel of it. Not as many photos as I usually like but it feels down to earth. This lady lives in Ontario so I appreciate that it is "local". This book is set up with chapters that go month by month, suggesting what can be done each month, what foods are available and what to do with them. It talks about seed starting to cold storage and nothing is too overwhelming. Every chapter has recipes and a little activism blurb called "Food for Thought" with topics ranging from school yard garden programs to eating local to gmo's. I would like to have it on my gardening book shelf!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Princess Amalia

Kate as Princess Amalia in "The Little Mermaid" with some of the mermaids. She was also a mermaid at one point but these photos were taken after the show and her wedding dress is the last of her 3 costume changes.

The girl in green is the Sea Witch who was amazing! After each show (5 shows in total) the cast signed autographs for all the much fun! Kate is really going to miss all the time she spent with these new friends!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

mud pies

It's me, Lee....What a great day today. It was overcast and started raining once we went inside but it was so nice to go out and play in the mud. Annie made some delicious sloppy joes (lol) and mud sandwiches with rock and sand "toppings" and bark for the bread. She also made a river in the muddy tire ruts in the driveway and damned it up. It really would have been convenient to have the water hooked up outside but its still to early for that. Before playing outside, we had dropped Kate off at rehearsal and went for a walk in town. I have really thought lately about how thankful I am to be home with my girls. We do live pay check to pay check and that really sucks but there is really no where I'd rather be and nothing Id rather be doing. What could I possibly be doing more important than being there for my children. I know they are growing up but there are lots of times when any one of them will seek me out and talk with me about something important or pressing to them. Im glad Im there for them at that moment when they need me.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Good Day ~*

Life is full of surprises. I was tweeting "I have many projects that need attending to, it is now part of my daily practice... order is bliss" I've been re-reading my copy of Crooked Cucumber, what do ya know? Inspiration abounds in this book. I often nudge myself into re-eveluating my thoughts towards certain daily activities and chores, encorporating the hard stuff reaps the rewards you often don't come to realize, this is the desired result.

There are a bazillion and one things to do, maybe even more than that... but the most important thing is to be grateful for the opportunity to tackle them.

I got my book "Seed to Seed" and hope to spend some time over the course of this summer to learn. I may not be able to put it all into practice just yet, but I am capable of learning. DH and I are going to get the chicken house up and ready for the good weather, hoping to welcome a new group of ladies to their new homestead this spring. I've been hanging out with my Storey's Country Living, imagining ten acres and al l the possibilities. I think we'll resume the search when things settle down here and life is less intense.

Gardening is... let the seeds thrive and eventually come full circle!
Here's to Spring Lee and Kathee and all the other Eclectic womyn out there.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We did it!! It's March!

Lee here...I'm so happy its March. Even though it is really really cold out, it is sunny and bright. It has put me in spring cleaning and garden planning mode. I bought a few containers to sort some things..a bin for letter writting which I love to do, one for my little stash of embroidery floss and hoops, patterns and material, and one that remains unfilled for now. I have bought most of my seeds and just need a few more like some clover, sunflowers and more herbs. I want to start some inside this year to get a jump start on some yummy fresh food.

Some fun things for March.......Annie is getting excited for some march break activities at the library this year. The children's libarian, Jaye is so amazing and Annie enjoys spending time with her. Kate is getting a bit nervous about being in the young company's production of "The Little Mermaid" at the Stirling Festival Theatre. It's a big deal in our area and it has 5 shows. She is really enjoying the rehearsals and having such a great time! It is such a great opportunity! Stef wont be able to see the show since she is off to Louisianna with her youth group for a week of working on houses as part of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. She is so excited about travelling for the first time without us and getting to hang out with friends. They get to go to the French Quarter for a day trip as well.
Happy March!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

See you in March

Lee (hibernating) in the house...If I could sleep through the last few days of February, that would suit me fine. I usually have a pretty heavy duty winter funk and this year Ive done pretty well with eating better and getting some fresh air and exercise (need more of all 3 tho). But for the past week or so, I can feel the dread of winter...wanting it to be March 1st so bad! I know March has lots of nasty weather as well but it does feel like the home stretch till spring. I know its all psychological and that every day and month is as good as the is what you make it, etc.....but today I feel like I have a cinderblock of dread of my shoulders. I will have to fight it off. I am bringing in wood from outside which is my fresh air and some exercise...I will walk the dog for more of both...I will do my yoga tape for sanity and stretching... I will eat fresh fruits and veggies..I will play music and enjoy the sunshine. At least I am aware of this problem I have and not in too deep to dig myself out. 3 days to go!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Scottish Mum

February is bitter sweet for me, I'm celebrating the birth of my first born child who will be twenty in a few days, February 9th is just around the corner, its been 23 years since my mum passed away. You'd think the separation of a few decades would soften the blow, but you know it feels pretty intense.. still after all these years. There have been so many milestones in my life where I think of my mum and feel sad knowing we didn't get a chance to experience them together, the good and the bad. Life is... I try to not project too many what ifs as I do believe it is crucial to live today, knowing that the time I did have with my Scottish mum built the foundation of my life. Its difficult someday to remember not to be sad, February is always the most challenging. I get through it, we light incense a candle.... pick up some carnations or daffodils and set them by her picture. I look into her eyes and feel such gratitude well up inside me for all that she was able to give me. I thank her for the wisdom, her spontaneity, her loving and nurturing ways that have inspired me to become the mum I want to be.... most of all I thank her for Dad. So you big kids out there who have a mum near by that you can hug and give flowers to, give her some daffodils and let her know what a gift she is.

zee aka Gracie

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quiet time!

Lee here...After last week with too much to do, this week we dont have alot and I am so thankful for it! Its nice to just go outside, maybe pop into the library, do a craft, make a pot of soup.......I know this time of year we usually get cabin fever but we have been out so much that I really appreciate this! We are planning a little trip to a water park in Niagara Falls for maybe the end of next week. We went last year when we were all so desperate to be out of the house and the girls were craving wearing bathing suits and having fun in the water. Its a little more money this year sadly, but we are trying to swing it...not without pain tho. We havent done a big thing as a family in a while and I cant even remember the last time we stayed in a hotel. Its a great break in the winter.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

bưởi aka Pomelo

Happy New Year Everyone!

If you were born in 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997
congratulations you are an Ox!

We had a great time visiting family in Toronto this week. Lots of yummy food, tea reconnecting with friends and family. The kids hung out and played games, chatted and ran up and down the stairs in search of treats. Monday morning brought the family home once again to enjoy a hearty bowl of vegetarian Pho soup for breakfast, New Years day is vegetarian eating!! The kids received beautiful red envelopes with lucky money from their aunts and uncles. After some more time visiting, we got into our cars and headed over to the cemetary to bring offering of food and incense to grandpa. Dh and his brothers shoveled a twenty foot path in the deep snow to make way for everyone to get up close to the tombstone and place the incense, fruit and flowers, I'm sure it was at least 20 below. We had to head home after the cemetary, but the rest of the clan headed downtown to visit the Temple.

It's time to get a move on and start thinking of change, what can I work towards in this new year to make the lives of those who surround me near and far better, and what could I be doing to improve my own situation. Life is Good!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Unexpected guest!

Early Tuesday morning, I slowly opened the curtains, as I do most mornings, so as not to scare the birds from their breakfast at the feeders, when I saw the most incredible unexpected guest sitting on a branch of the tree!

He was not spooked at all, and I was able to run for the camera and snap this shot. Little did I know that he was actually sticking around for the little chickadee that was in the lower branches of our old christmas tree...suddenly, he (I guess it could have been a she...) flew down and flushed the chickadee out of the tree and literally, 'chased' it around the tree 3 times before the chickadee was able to dive back into the center of the branches. The hawk (we ID'd it later with our new "Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds", as a Sharp-shinned Hawk) then flew up into the oak tree in the yard and the chickadee immediately
flew off into the huge hemlock in the driveway. WOW! Watching that was both incredibly amazing as well as terribly frightening. The hawk looked HUGE and the chickadee looked like a butterfly beside it and they moved SO fast! The hawk was back later in the afternoon as we happened to see it fly in to the birdfeeding area and caused a little junco to hit our window. Then when we were out in the yard, we found evidence that this was not the hawk's first visit to our feeders and that he had been more successful than he had been today...So what are we to do? I feel terrible knowing that we have set up a "feeding station", not just for the birds, but for the birds who eat birds!! Yet, I know that we are providing needed feed to so many of the birds. Aidan says that hawks get hungry too...and that is a good point. I think we're just going to have to spend a lot more time out in the front yard and get Buddy to hang out there more too, just so the hawk might think it's too busy an area to hang out. Sheesh, nature, in all it's beauty, can be cruel...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to Kathee!!

It was this past friday:) I hope you had a great day:) Big hugs!!

Wishing you good health and happiness and time together with friends!

Look what I got in the mail!!!!

Lee first order from a website I love to spend time looking at...This is from the Layer Cake Shop http:// I found thru Etsy. http://
I love how kitschy these are. These are gnome cupcake toppers that I thought would be cute to have. Annie has had fun playing with them...setting up little scenes. I'd like to collect more..and little woodland things like deer, toadstools little trees etc. I am definetely developing an interest in gnomes and tomtens and would really like to find a little cement one for my garden..tis a fine line between tacky and kitschy cute tho! I guess tomtens and gnomes are related but from different parts of the world. Their personalities can be unpredictable but I know any in my house will be polite and playful;)
They will be very helpful in the garden too!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Garden Planning!

kathee here...
The seed catalogues seem to arrive earlier every year, but I make myself wait until after Christmas before I go through them. I like to have all the Christmas decorations put away and the house back into some semblance of normal and’s Garden Planning Day!
I begin by collecting all the ‘tools’ I will need: last year’s garden plan (so I can review where I planted things last year and how they should be rotated this year), the seed catalogues, (with their promise of possibilities!), last year’s garden journal, where I hope that I did actually keep track of all the important things that went on in the garden last year,(nothing more than an old binder, but decorated with garden mag photos for inspiration!), my clipboard, graph paper, ruler and a brand new, perfectly sharpened pencil, and of course a hot cup of Earl Grey!
First though, I take out my seeds from previous years, and figure out what I will be able to use this year. Then I know what seeds I will be needing. I always buy my seeds from William Dam. They aren’t organic, but are untreated. I like the ‘family’ story of the company and that was the first catalogue I ever bought seeds out of. I like the choice that I have come to depend on and have always been pleased with their service, and products. In the past few years though, I have been wanting more heirloom plants, so I have been ordering from a few other companies. Aside from the practical issue of being able to save the seeds for next year and not have to buy those same seeds again (not possible with the hybrids), when I pick out seeds of the heirlooms, I really get caught up in their "story"...okay, maybe I just get suckered in by their marketing strategies, but who wouldn’t?! The thought of growing a tomato whose seeds have been around since the 1800's when someone had the foresight to stuff a few seeds in their sock as they left the "Old Country", or a Sweet Pea that has been traced back to a reclusive monk in Quebec in the 1500's......that thrills me! Such history! These were people like me, who were passionate about gardening and wanted to make sure their plants would survive not only all the perils of everyday growing, like insects and disease, but would also survive time and distance. So after taking that tiny seed and tending to it, until it’s grown into a huge plant, that then provides us with food or flowers, I feel connected to the past and those people.
The two Heirloom seed companies that I like to buy from are:
Terra Edibles,
and Upper Canada Seeds,
Upper Canada offers over 250 varieties of tomatoes!! (occasionally they’ll offer a couple of peppers, but they specialize in just tomatoes) I LOVE reading the info about every tomato and what these growers think of it as well. It is a much more personal experience. Although it’s said that the heirlooms might not have the best disease resistance, ( I have never had a problem with any heirloom I have bought), their taste far surpasses ANY hybrid! This is what I remember tomatoes tasting like when I was a kid.....a REAL tomato taste! And once you’ve figured out how to save tomato seeds (not hard to do, but there is a method), it is great being able to have your own seeds for the next year. What makes these even better, is that they have now grown in your soil, in your part of the world, and will be the best suited tomatoes for you. That’s pretty incredible.
Every year, I like to try a few varieties that I’ve never grown before. This year, I am going to grow 2 new green tomatoes. (Green Velvet is a deliciously tasty one that I have grown for 3 years now, so it will be fun to compare taste with the other 2. I’m also trying to find a new orange cherry tomato, since the one I have been growing for years has to be ordered from the States,( which I usually get a friend to do for me when she orders hers) But I am determined to find an heirloom that is just as good, if not better! I’ve also ordered a new paste variety, a couple of large red ones and 2 new orange ones. So exciting!
Terra Edibles sells more than just tomatoes. In fact they sell more than just seeds. But since I get my tomatoes from Upper Canada Seeds, I look to Terra Edibles for heirloom varieties of other plants that I would like. I am buying a bean this year, that has "dark purple stems, lilac flowers and purple pods"which I plan on putting in one of my flower beds as well as the veg garden... doesn’t that sound beautiful! I am also going to try growing a bean for drying. Since we’ve been trying eat more beans lately, it seems to make sense to grow our own. It will be a new experience for me. Kale is another veg that we have started to eat a lot of, so I am ordering a Red variety from T.E. (And a green one from William Dam) And one thing that I am very excited about it, are the Sugar Snap peas that I have ordered. I have always bought Sugar Snaps from W.D, but last year they were unavailable because of some disease problem they had...? So I ordered the only other variety they offered, but was not impressed. This year, the catalogue doesn’t even have Sugar Snaps listed, so it looks like they taken that one right out of the catalogue.. They were the most prolific, sweetest snap pea, and was our family’s favourite veggie. I was so disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to buy them anymore.....but THEN, in the Terra Edibles catalogue there is a snap pea, also called Sugar Snap! So I am going to try that one this year, with fingers crossed....
Today I am going to spend some time writing in my garden journal, recording my plans and some ideas and some projects that I want to work on this year, both in the veggie garden and the flower beds. I’m also going to drag out my back issues of Organic Gardening Mag. for the months of January/February and maybe some of my favourite garden books: Eliot Coleman’s ‘The New Organic Grower’, Better Homes and Gardens ‘New Garden Book’, and a few new-to-me garden books I found at a used book sale last year and have been ‘saving’ for just such a day. With a temperature of minus 30 this morning, I am going no further than the couch, where I will be sitting in the warm sun with my books and mags (and a cup of earl Grey) and dreaming of the garden days ahead...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hotay in the garden!

Lee in the house:) Not a very good picture but here is Hotay....a statue in my garden, given to me by Kerri a few years ago. You can't tell, but his eyes are closed and he looks completely peaceful burried up to his neck in snow. Sometimes he is uncovered when the snow melts down a bit and other times he is completely drifted in....but he just goes with the flow:) Annie's Christmas money was begging to be spent and the gift from T and M put her up over the $100 here is her investment..she put it together by herself. A great way to spend a day inside!