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!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Enjoying winter:)

Its me, Lee. It was a lovely sunny, but cold day today. I really like fridays...the week winding down, getting ready for a relaxing weekend. Today we went to the library to get some books and to use their highspeed internet connection. We had lunch and then Annie, Cass and I headed outside. Kate missed out but curled up inside with a new book. We made a little fire and had some ho-cho.
Enjoying the sun in the comfort of the snow:)

Greg has cleared the snow off the pond and we have been able to get out on it a couple of times now. We are so lucky to be able to pop down for a skate any time during the day. This morning it is still covered in the snow we got Wednesday. We left it on yesterday so that the top later would melt a bit under the snow and make a smoother surface. We plan to be on it this weekend and as much as we can, while it lasts! We are going to hook up some spot lights and Christmas lights so we can do some night skating too. With a bonfire pit and seats close by, it will make it even more fun! We hope to have a skating party soon, because you never know how long the rink will last.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

a beautiful scone!

Lee here..I had looked at the Mennonite Girls Can Cook site that we have in the side bar off to the left. Its a great site! They posted a Savory Cheese Scone and I tried it today...I used my cast iron fry pan and it was a total success! The bottom was perfect and it was delicious. We had it with a salad for lunch. Altho I didnt realize until I looked at their site again just now, they cut their scones before baking..I didnt. The pictures are out of order because I dont know how to change them around yet!

Garden talk...

Ahh look at this summer day..clear blue sky:) I am fascinated by this dome at the old Expo 67 site in Montreal. We went there 2 summers ago. Chris's parents were living in the US and it was their trip to Expo that helped them to decide to move to Canada. Montreal is so awesome!

Lee here..Wow Kathee you have some great plans for this upcoming spring!! Thanks for sharing!
We too have made a vow to get out and enjoy winter...we try to get out everyday to go for a walk...walk through the neighbours fields, tobagan, even bringing in wood is a good opportunity to get out for some fresh air, vitamin D and some exercise! Its easy for me to get in a winter funk come feb or march but my exercise and better eating plan will hopefully prevent that from happening..and keeping busy with little things. Today is a beautiful snowy day...calling for freezing rain too later, so a good day to stay in. (we will most likely go outside but we wont be going anywhere in the car) We will try to get out to the library tomorow to have a visit with the librarians and to gather up some books.
Today I plan on sitting down at the table with a cup of tea and making out some meal plans. I would also like to spend some time reading "The secret life of bees".
Happy New Year!
I love this month...when a whole new year and all it’s potential lay ahead! I think for me, it begins with my gardens.(no real surprise there, I guess) My seed catalogues arrive just before Christmas and I only take a quick peak at it, before I tuck it away until the holidays are over. Because of the size of my gardens and the amount of plants we grow, I have to make a pretty detailed garden plan. Crop rotation is the main reason, but also planning out just what we are going to plant and how much of it. Honestly, it is my FAVOURITE part of gardening! I love busting out the graph paper and sitting down with pencil and ruler, along with the seed catalogues and my notes from last year’s gardens. My gardens, on paper, are perfect! The tomatoes are perfectly staked and planted 18" to 2 ft apart, the cukes and zucchini are hilled and planted 3 ft apart, the carrots are in perfect rows, 5 inches apart and the mesclun is sprouting and protected from flea beetles, under a floating row cover. I can see it all in my mind’s eye. No weeds, no bugs, only healthy, strong transplants, and soft green shoots of newborn veggies! I can see past the snow banks and the ice pellets, to the crumbly brown soil and the vibrant green leaves of spring...
That’s not to say I don’t like the winter. In fact we are making a point to do more enjoying and less hibernating this year. We have already managed to get out on the pond a couple of times now for a skate. We’ve got our bench set up cushioned with some wool blankets, hockey sticks and net at the ready, and a plan to set up a bonfire pit and hook up some lights for night skating. If the ice on the pond cooperates, we hope to be out on the rink every day. We also plan on doing more snowshoeing this year. Hubby got a pair for Christmas and now Aidan and Greg and I can do some trekking in the woods, equipped off course, with a thermos of hot tea!
I love this time of year because it makes me slow down and gives me a chance to reflect on what I want to accomplish this year. I have already started working on some ideas for my flower beds this spring and will be planning out some additions and changes to them. I want to collect and dry more flowers and herbs for teas and want to make some ‘bath teas’ as well. And my driveway garden needs an overhaul and rethinking. I’ve got a few plans for the yard as well, starting with our bonfire pit and then the path to our back garden. There are so many possibilities ahead!
So here’s to a happy, healthy, productive 2009!

I have been having trouble uploading more than one photo at a time...but I did have a couple more to is em, making christmas cookies

Helloooo! It has been AGES since I was on the blog...the weeks before Christmas and just after, were so busy. We had some lovely visits when the girls came home and hubby had 10 days off, so it was a wonderful Christmas. I must say though, I don’t think I could keep up that pace of cooking, eating, celebrating and laundry! Here is a photo of our Christmas tree, now relegated to the bird feeding station outside (still adorned with the popcorn/cranberry garlands!)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

old cheese

Lee here...anyone who knows me knows I love cheese...I plan on eating super well as of monday (having decided that Im enjoying every last day of these holidays) so, as I type, I am munching on the last bit of 4 year old cheddar that I bought as a treat 2 weeks ago. It is delicious....good bye cheese old friend.


You cant even truly appreciate how low this guys pants are...they were low when he was sitting and then he stood up with no effort to at least cover it with his sweat shirt..the top of his pants are really at almost the bottom of his butt. The fact that he is wearing a belt totally cracks me up! Thank goodness for underwear...Ahhhh the youth and their fashion lol.

Plans for 2009

Lee's list....I hesitate to write down what I hope to achieve in the new year but maybe the act of writing is enough to motivate...I should make a copy to post on the fridge as well.

*Set up more structured home learning activities for kids (this has its own sublist)
*Learn some simple, satisfying, useful crafts..purchase the supplies and have them on hand at a moments notice
*knit knit knit..socks, mittens, leg warmers, shawl, sweater, animals Annie move on to a knitting project
*yoga dvd with Kate and whoever wants to join in.....daily...and meditate
*long exercise walk with dog...starting today with a half hour jaunt.... Everyday
*dust off the spinning wheel..and use it for something other than an ornament
*start picking up things now for B days and Christmas...Im not kidding.
I think that is it for, education and learning new skills....sounds good!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Lee here...This is a new year's day craft I did with Annie and my nephew. We talked about birds and made these pine cones covered with peanut butter and bird seed to hang outside.
When we were kids, my younger sister and I used to play a game called "Princess Michelle" where I would treat her like a princess...She is 7 years younger than me. I would carry her to the car, carry her to the living room, wait on her etc...and call her princess she is at my house sleeping while I entertained her children..some things never change!