Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hello Again!

Well hello again (and finally).  The end of a very busy year is winding down. So much has happened in a short twelve months.  I have been away often and very busy when I return home.

Here are some of the highlights of the year.

The year started with Barry working in Fort Mac and me heading to Saskatoon for a few weeks. My dad caught pneumonia and ended up in the hospital for a few days.  My mom doesn't drive so it was nice to be able to help out. Dad has completely recovered and is his busy self again.

I also got to spend some time baking with Josie and Mikhyan (my new grandkiddies) which is always fun. Over the year we made cookies and heart-shaped pizza for Valentines Day, chocolate chow mien noodle nests for Easter, pizza sandwiches and bush pies in the summer and chocolate wacky cake and cinnamon snowflakes this fall. 

spreading cinnamon sugar on snowflakes

cutting ham for pizza sandwiches

wacky cake ready for the oven

chocolate nest cookies - messy but tasty
I become a grandma again when Becky and Mike became parents and presented me with Katrina Grace April 5th. She was 6 lb 2 oz and 19 1/2 “ long. I was lucky enough to meet her when she was one day old.

Proud grandma
smiling for grandma
shirt from my sister
Becky asked if I would make jam as wedding favours for their upcoming wedding. I got busy and made 150 jars in total of five varieties. Becky cut out the cloth caps and mom and I labelled the jars and tied on the lids. They were very cute in red and white. 

Barry and I decided to plant one of the gardens to lawn this year. It is easier to mow than to weed the area. If we want to plant there again, it is just a matter of tilling it up. The grass grew thick and green due to all the chicken fertilizer that was in the ground. That was where the chickens ran and dug for bugs and ate chipped vegetables.
Since we have more lawn to cut, when Barry came home in June, we went to Kamloops and bought a John Deere riding mower. Boy! Now I can whip around and cut the lawn in no time! Some tree branches needed to be trimmed as I got scratched several times driving the mower around and under the fruit trees. Now Barry has to prune them from the bottom and the top (they can't hang too low for mowing but I also don't want them too tall so I have to use a ladder to pick fruit). I do have trouble backing up the tractor when the sweeper is attached to dump it. A semi driver I will never be.

Since I was away so much this summer, I only planted a few cukes and tomatoes. I missed the rest of the fresh produce but decided watching Katrina grow up was more important than growing my own veggies.

Most of the fruit trees produced quite well this year with the exception of the apricots. Spring was rainy and cool so the apricots were slow to grow. Then the summer heat hit with a vengeance and they started to ripen without growing any more. The result was fruit with very little flesh – mostly pit and skin. They never did get as juicy and tasty as usual.

The cherries produced well this year, but each tree had its own schedule - none of them ripened at the same time. This made for a longer cherry season than usual.

I was in Saskatoon the end of July for Mike and Becky's wedding. All three kids were part of the wedding and all of them looked wonderful. Josie was the flower girl dropping petals along the path and Mikhyan was the ring bearer but also pulled Katrina in a red wagon up the aisle. And Katrina just sat and stole everyone's heart. The day of the wedding started very cloudy and it rained hard but stopped just before the ceremony started when the sun broke through. It was a lovely day with food, music, good friends and family.

Josie spreading petals

Mikhyan pulling Katrina
Mike holding Katrina, Becky, Josie and Mikhyan

Katrina in her flower girl dress
The next day, my sister, Joyce and my family threw me a surprise 60th birthday party. I had been so wrapped up in Kat and the wedding that clues went over my head the whole weekend. Needless to say I was speechless. Joyce organized 60 chicken presents for me to open. Luckily the kids were there to help out with that or I might still be there. I received stuffed chickens, chicken mugs, wall hangings, ornaments, kitchen items, and more - ALL CHICKEN RELATED!  I was lucky to share the day with out of town guests from Calgary, Edmonton, Carstairs, White Rock, Shellbrook, Prince Albert, Regina and Battleford as well as the Saskatoon area. I was so honoured that so many people took time out of their busy lives to make the trip to celebrate the day with me.

Mikhyan and Josie helping open presents
chicken placemats made by my dad
fabric detail of tablecloth sewn by a friend of my sister
I visited my sister-in-law, Louise in White Rock several times this year. The last time was in October when it was nice enough to walk in the ocean barefooted. That evening, we also had supper on the patio of a beach-side pub and were able to watch a glorious sunset.

Our view from the pub deck, White Rock, BC
I decided to do some advertising to see if I could sell more jam. I advertised for jam as wedding favours as well as everyday use. I made around 350 jars of jam and chutney in more than a dozen varieties this year and only have around a dozen jars left. People seem to like the idea of jam made from homegrown, handpicked fruit with less sugar than the store bought jam.

Barry worked around Edson this year so I visited him there a number of times. It is about 8 hours from home and I can easily make it in one day. Before when I traveled with Lulu, we could make 6 hours max because of stops along the way. I still think of Lulu and miss her but having a new granddaughter did wonders to fill the empty space in my heart. I would like to get some chickens again but am waiting until Kat is older because I don't want to miss too many of her milestones. She recently got her first tooth and is learning how to crawl.

family picture taken at Josie's Kindergarten Grad
Kat and friend

Kat's first Halloween
getting into trouble
I'm not sure how often I'll be posting - it depends on how many trips to Saskatoon I take through the year.  ;)

I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas is Upon Us

I haven't been blogging much lately.   I was away again to Alberta to pick up my car.  We had to dig the car out of a huge snowbank and knock off the ice before I could even open the doors. I stayed and visited relatives when Barry went back to work up near Fort Mac.  I also did some shopping as well before heading home.

I got home and finished my fall cleaning and got my Christmas cards and letters all sent out.  I also had fun mailing parcels and shopping for the new grandkiddies.  There are such sweet clothes and crafty toys out there.  Shopping for kids is so much fun!

Barry got home about a week ago and we had +15°C when he got here.  The snow was all gone until Friday when we has about 6" and have been shovelling a fair bit since then.

I am planning on taking a break from blogging for awhile as I don't have much to share.  I do have some pictures of Lulu left that I plan to share sometime.  Since it is winter, there is no gardening to share.  And since Barry is away so much, I don't do much baking or trying out new recipes.

In the new year, I will be painting the ceiling in the kitchen so will not spend much time cooking anything too special with that mess in there.

I am still having a hard time missing Lulu.  I finally put away her kennel and stuff from her corner of the kitchen.  I just couldn't bring myself to put it away until now.  I would have never thought I would miss her so much for so long but I still have a hollow place in my chest when I think about her.

I found this poem that I would like to share with you.  One member of a Facebook group called The Chickenistas, that I belong to, posted it.  It is called The Night Before Christmas at Rainbow Bridge by Cindy Morgan.  I hope you take a few minutes to read it, especially if you have had pets that you have loved and lost.

I wish all my friends and readers a Merry Christmas and Happy and fulfilling New year.  Take care of yourselves.  Joan

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Killed A Pillow

It has been a very long week since we got home from Alberta.  There were many loads of laundry to do as I was gone almost a month plus we brought all the bedding, etc. from the trailer. 

I usually do fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning so had that on my mind as well.  We also bought several light fixtures, so Barry had those to put up too.

I revived my sourdough from sitting dormant in the fridge for a month and baked a double batch of bread.

There were carrots to dig and leaves to rake.  The herb garden and ground covers needed to be put to bed as well.  Lots of odd jobs inside and out.

Anyway, back to the pillow.  A feather pillow came back from the trailer stained, as I think it was the one my son used when he had a slight nose bleed.  Now this was not the first time I washed a pillow.  But unfortunately it was the first (and last) time I washed a feather pillow in the same load as a set of fleece sheets.  My mind was elsewhere when I was loading the washer much to my later dismay.

Now Barry loved these sheets and they kept him warm in the trailer on cool nights.  Ever since we got them, he has commented again and again how much he likes them.

Anyway, when I opened the washer after the load was done I found it full of feathers.  The pillow had exploded.  Now I'm sure I don't know how all those feathers fit in one solitary pillow (a fairly skinny one at that).  The machine was full of wet feathers and there was water in the bottom when we lifted out the sheets.  (I think the feathers had plugged the drain.)

The sheets were heavy with water and full of feathers, and I do mean FULL OF FEATHERS.  We took them out to try to shake the feathers off and to wring them out with not much success.  All that happened it we got feathers stuck to our pants and cold, wet hands.  So we left them sitting outside while we tackled the washer.  It took a long day to get enough feathers out so it started working again.  But for many washes after, it still spits our feathers onto the clothes - all clothes - knit sweaters, fleece pants, socks, you name it all come out a bit feathered.

We tried to rewash the sheets to get out the feathers but the sheets still looked bad and now we had to clean the machine again.  The dryer took many feathers out of the sheets but you can only run them through so many times on fluff.

The only way they will be usable will be if I sit and pluck each and every feather out by hand.  (Barry tried a lint brush and the vacuum with little to no success.)  That may be my winter movie watching project but we'll have to see.  I hate to toss them out as they are very new but really don't want to spend hours plucking the sheets either.

Oh well, some lessons are learned the hard way.  Hope you week was better than mine.  ;)

Monday, November 4, 2013

On the Road Again

Well I'm finally on my way home after almost a month away.  I started out by visiting Barry near Sundre, AB and cooking half a turkey (that's all that fit in the trailer oven!) for Thanksgiving.  He had days off so we just vegged out - eating, snoozing, reading, etc.  It was a nice restful break.

Then we took a trip to Battleford, Sask. for a funeral before I headed to Saskatoon to visit friends and relatives.  I had lots of time to visit mom and dad during the week I was there.  I went over to Michael's several times to visit the new grandkiddies.  Josie, Mikhyan and I decorated the windows for Halloween with skeletons, pumpkins and more.  We then made cheese biscuits cut in Halloween shapes to go with Becky's chili.  What sweet kiddies!  I had so much fun! 

I also had time to visit a number of friends, catching up on each others lives since we last got together.  I had some teary moments talking about Lulu.  I can usually talk about her but still get teary-eyed on occasion.  I ordered photos and made the photographer sad when he learned about Lulu.  He wrote some thoughtful words on their Facebook page under Lulu's photo (originally dated June 21). 

I took a day trip to Shellbrook, Sask to visit Kim and Marj (she wrote the poem about Lulu).  We had Marj's homemade soup and Kim's homemade bread for lunch.  Yum!

I went back to Saskatoon for a few more days to fix a few problems. I had just replaced my windshield before I left and got a big stone chip right in my line of vision the first few days of the trip.  I got it fixed in plus got my car stereo replaced as the cd player quit working and radio reception in the mountains is sparse. 

When I left for Sundre again, I met wet snow and slushy roads starting near Hanna, AB so the trip wasn't much fun.  I needed to wash the car when I got to Sundre because of an unexpected 4 mile detour on soupy gravel roads.  The car was covered with brown ice and mud.  What a mess!

I stayed in Sundre and packed up the trailer as Barry will be coming home for awhile and everything freezable needs to be removed.  We then took a day to visit Barry's brother in Lacombe, AB who had just got out of the hospital a few days ago.

When we woke up Sunday to start home, we found over a foot of snow had dumped overnight.  We decided to stay one more day so the roads would get cleaned before we head out.  So bright and early Monday we are on our way home.  I hope we don't have snow at home because I left carrots in the ground, not expecting to be gone so long.

Anyway, winter arrived on the prairies and I am heading home.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lulu's Photo Shoot

For my mom and dad's 60th anniversary, my sisters and I decided it was time to get family portraits done as it had been quite a few years since we have had them done.

We went to Picture Perfect Portraits in Saskatoon and they said we could choose about six to eight groupings.  When we were deciding what groupings to do, I asked Joyce to let the photographer know that I was bringing Lulu and would like some pictures done of her.  I had been thinking about getting her photo done by a professional  for quite awhile but hadn't ever gotten around to it.

The photographer, Adam was excited to have Lulu as a subject.  His mom had chickens as a child that followed her to school.  Adam couldn't wait to tell his mom about Lulu.

The following are some of the proofs that included (or showcased) Lulu.  We had other photos done while she waited patiently in her crate.

Adam started first with me having my arm around Lulu so she would feel comfortable before I left her on her own.

Then he started snapping photos of Lulu alone and I think they turned out marvelous.

Lulu was very busy looking around at everything.
I stood near Adam and called Lulu but there was so much to look at she ignored me.

It is going to be hard to choose which photos to enlarge as I love them all.
I was so proud of her because she sat so nice on the pillar and didn't make a fuss.

I am so glad that we had these photos done and that Adam was such a good sport.

I now will have some lovely photos of my sweetie to hang on the wall in her corner of the kitchen.

We had the group pictures done last and when we were almost finished, Adam said to go and get Lulu so she was in some of the group shots as well.  She is hard to see in the proofs because of the watermarks.

At the end of the session, Adam asked another photographer to snap his photo with Lulu so he could send it to his mom.  They then posted it on their Facebook page.
All in all, it was an exciting day.  The photo session went great plus then at supper, Michael, my youngest son told us he asked Becky, his girlfriend to marry him the evening before.  Michael has always been fairly mum about his girlfriends and we didn't meet Becky until that night at supper!
After spending time with her on that anniversary weekend, I couldn't be happier.  She is a lovely girl plus as a bonus, she has two young children so I am instant grandma!  Woohoo!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sourdough Sharing - Muffins

October is the time of year I finish putting the yard and garden to bed and to finish making juice, jam and other preserves.  I then travel to Alberta and Saskatchewan for several weeks visiting relatives and friends before winter hits with a vengeance.  So this month, I am linking to a previously blogged recipe.

This month's sourdough challenge is muffins and quick breads.  I have a preference for muffins as you can freeze a batch and then just take out one or two as needed.

I have tried several muffin recipes but always come back to this Bran Muffin recipe.  It is moist and tasty - I always loved bran muffins with molasses as an ingredient and this is my all time favorite recipe.

The recipe calls for raisins and nuts but I sometimes add chopped dates instead of the raisins and nuts.  I have also used dried cranberries or dehydrated cherries instead of the raisins and I have substituted sunflower seeds instead of nuts.
I hope everyone enjoys this month's offering of muffins and quick bread in the links below. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Canadian Geese

** photos taken in June 2013

Lulu and I spent the week after my parents' 60th anniversary visiting in Saskatchewan.  The following weekend, Lulu and I travelled to Regina with my parents to a reunion on my maternal grandmother's side and to meet relatives visiting from England.

While we were there, we visited the Legislative grounds and saw the Canadian Geese.

There are geese that stay in Regina all year long and no longer migrate.  There is a warm inlet on Wascana Lake that doesn't freeze all winter.

Lulu had to stay in the car while I was taking photos of the geese because there were a number of very large dogs around and I didn't want to take any chances.

The geese seemed to have set up babysitters (gosling-sitters?) because most of the adults were on the lake-side on the road and the young ones were on the tree-side of the road.

Oops!  These guys stopped traffic while they crossed to be with the others.

The goslings were all the same size except for one.  Can you see him in the crowd?

There he is bringing up the rear.

Here are a couple adults near the lake.

For some reason, none of them were in the water.  Everyone was on dry land.