Sunday, October 30, 2011

Holidays Spent with family

I realized while looking at these pictures that I spent last Thanksgiving at my sister Lisa's house too.
My poor family!
Ah well, I know they had a great time and fabulous food at my in-laws so they didn't suffer too much.
I do love to spend time with family and get to know my nieces and nephews a little better.
Thanks for sharing Thanksgiving with me again! Not to mention how blessed I was by all the grandchild lending that went on during this trip. Seriously, I got to babysit toddlers and babies and dogs and snuggle every baby that got near me!
It should keep me going for a while. . . 

Mom enjoyed the chance to snuggle babies too. . .
Although in HER case she was snuggling GREAT grandchildren.

This is the best trifle I have had in ages! The cake was leftover from a wedding cake Lisa had made and I couldn't stop eating the little bits. Add in the homemade raspberry sauce also leftover from the wedding cake and some very high fat old fashioned whipping cream and . . . .Oh My!!!!
I still need to get that recipe! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Last Of The Harvest

It's going to be a busy few days around here.
Colder weather is really starting to settle in and it's time to take in the last of the harvest.
Mom dropped off her dehydrator yesterday so I will be bringing in kale and parsley to dry. Hopefully it's still good to dry. I was just looking out the window and realized that the kale is looking rather floppy. I know kale needs a frost for the best taste but now I'm thinking several frosts are maybe not so good!
The carrot , leeks and beets are still in the ground, so the time has come to dig them up and get them either pickled, (beets) or chopped up for the freezer.
The thing is, there are so many things going on at once it gets hard to prioritize sometimes. It seems the apples I had stored in the cold room to make pie filling from have softened too much for that to work, so at this point they are only good for applesauce. Now applesauce is good, but I still have quite a bit left, while the pie filling was gone a long time ago.
Preserving food really is an art and I am coming to see that it is not easily learned. Yes, making jam isn't that hard, but if it's not something you've grown up with and observed how that would fit into the rhythm of day to day life it's easy to think that it can always wait for a few day while you do other more 'important' things.
Obviously not the case.
So I am going to get off the computer and get down to some physical work.
The harvest just won't wait any longer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Love, Hate Relationship

I had a couple of posts running through my mind today.
My first thought was to post about the fact that I managed to make a coffee cake, one which I have probably made well over 100 times, without sugar! And it took me a while to figure out just what went wrong with it.
Then I thought perhaps now was the time to blog about garden building in unlikely places, but. . .
I got sidetracked.
By technology . . .
My kids (and poor Ev) can tell you that I have a long way to go when it comes to finding my way around new computer programs and other computer type things.
I have recently gotten my old desktop refurbished, bought a new screen (okay largish TV) and a new keyboard and mouse. I'm still kicking myself for not buying wireless, but it was $40 more and I figured I had to draw the line somewhere! ( Ev is probably killing herself laughing at that statement right now. . . )
 A few weeks back Jesse taught me how to make a power point presentation and I presented it to a class at the Ladies Night out using a projector borrowed from the school. Thankfully we set it up in the afternoon because it took quite some time for him to figure out why it wouldn't work. Had my brother-in-law R not been at school to offer his expert advice there would have been no presentation. (which, all things considered, would have been unfortunate.)
I have a somewhat love, hate relationship with technology.  I love all the cool things you can do with it but I hate how complicated it can be. Having trouble with the projector made me pretty uptight. I have seen my sister Tamara struggle with projectors and computers when putting on various presentations over the years and the thought that that was going to be happening to me over and over kind of freaked me out. ( Tam has it all figured out now though. Presentations run smooth as clock work for her these days.)
I am teaching a class at our garden club next week that has a hands on bulb forcing portion and a power point that needs a projector. Ev suggested I could borrow one somewhere. Nerves instantly kicked in. This would be a different machine and I wouldn't have Jesse to help me. What if I couldn't figure it out?
 Only there wasn't a machine to be had. Disaster of a different kind!
What to do, what to do?
I did the only thing I could do. . .
I bought my own.
Which meant I spent the afternoon researching projectors and then ran all over the west end trying to find one that I had actually researched!
In the end, I took Morgan with me, spent more than I had hoped for and came home with a very nice, easy to use projector.
Whoo! Hoo!
 Morgan spent the next few hours showing me how it and other computer mysteries worked.
He threatened to charge me a consulting fee. . .
Which is why Ev got a call earlier this evening, when I couldn't figure out how to load pictures on my new computer. ( had to download Picassa even though I have Photoshop. Who knew?)
Ev is my other go to person when it comes to techie (and marketing) stuff. I'm pretty sure there are days she wishes she was charging me a consulting fee!
I should probably just give her her eggs for free. And anything else I can think of. . . .
It took me all afternoon and evening, but I am finally settled in with my new computer, blogging and ready to put a killer power point together.

I love technology. . .don't you?

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Lovely Time Was Had By All

I haven't posted yet about the fabulous wedding I attended while in B.C.
My lovely niece married this nice young man whom I have known for years as he was a regular on my school bus.
It was extra special knowing both of them. Mind you I have seen the groom a whole lot more than the bride so that's kind of funny isn't it?
I had a hand in some of the wedding decor and there will be a post about that soon as well. (I promise Tam!)
But for now. . .
A beautiful day in pictures. . .

Why oh why do I always look so goofy when someone takes my picture????

Mom wearing her party favor 

Mom, Aunty Nancy and Aunty Grace all wear their party favors!

By the end of the evening the rules started relaxing a bit. . .

Her mom choose not to be quite so bold however. . .

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Crystal!

Crystal turned 26 this past week and today we are celebrating with a birthday dinner, a tradition we've had for several years now.
The birthday person gets to pick whatever they would like for their special meal.
Crystal choose halibut (which Henry caught on his trip to the ocean) cauliflower with white sauce and mashed potatoes.
 It occurs to me that it's all going to look rather white on the plate. . .
 Thankfully dessert is no bake cherry cheese cake, a family favorite, so there will be red cherries to brighten things up.

I decided to do something a little different to decorate.
Crystal loves hand made things, so I thought I would see if I could make a birthday banner.
I've seen them on lots of the crafty blogs although they generally seem to be made from cloth. My sewing skills are limited, so my banner would be made using some of the pretty scrap booking paper I had collected but never used.
I had a great time making it and her birthday card. (she loves homemade cards!)

Check it out. . .

I wasn't thrilled with the fact that the letters didn't show up as well as I had hoped

Henry had the solution as usual and suggested outlining the letters in black 

That man is a genius!
We pray that the Lord will bless and keep you in the year to come.
Happy Birthday Crystal!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

We Now Return You To Our Regularly Scheduled Program

It took a while, but the house is finally back together.
Clean towels fill the linen closet,  the basement hallways are once again clear and the produce drawers now contain fresh produce. (we won't talk about what they used to contain. . .shudder!)
I tend to plunge into projects and what have you, with gusto, working on things flat out until I am done.
Once a big project is done and I come up for air, I look around, realize the house has fallen apart and I am exhausted.
It used to take weeks to get things back to normal.
I would find dirty dishes hiding in the oven, or in baskets in the closest, stashed there when unexpected company dropped by. The fridge would be filled with little bits of leftovers with no room for fresh food. Laundry would. . . well lets not talk about what happened in the laundry room!
Over the last several years I have slowly purged much of our stuff and worked hard to find a place for everything that's left with the hope that it would make putting the house back together easier. (And it really has!)
Because, while most people likely find my way of doing things a little. . .(ahem) quirky, I have come to accept that's it's just the way I was made.
That doesn't mean, however, that I am willing to accept living in chaos for weeks on end.
I'm quirky, not crazy. . .
It has taken me longer than usual to get it back together this time.
 Some parts of the last few weeks were lots of fun, but others were quite difficult. I hadn't been back to B.C. since my dad's funeral in early May. Walking into his house for the first time brought back such sorrow, it really took me off guard.
Dad wasn't perfect ( who of us is?) but I loved him dearly. The thing is, he loved me just the way I was. He was proud of me.
I didn't see him often. As his illness worsened over the years, it took more and more of his energy  to just keep moving forward, to 'fight the good fight' without complaint, and he didn't always have much left over for the people around him, but he did the best he could.

Dad had a sense of adventure, (I was thrilled when he took my sister Lisa and I up in a little plane when we were young. She was not, poor little soul. . .)  and although he wasn't really a 'people' person, he enjoyed being  on the road, traveling to new places.
He loved to learn, to try new things and create beauty. Over the years he brought into being wonderful cakes, gardens and photographs. He played with food and tinkered with recipes for delicious baked goods. He filled his sun room with exotic birds and fish of all kinds (Not to mention plants. If I had half the indoor green thumb he had, I would be thrilled! But I don't. Indoor plants shake in their pots when I bring them home.)
I miss my Dad.
But I take such comfort in knowing that he is finally home, at peace, and free to be all the Lord created him to be.
It's time for me to move forward, to fight my 'good fight' and be all that God has created me to be.
It's a new day and I want to live it with joy.
Thankfully, I don't have to rely on my own strength to do it. . . . .

Philippians 4:4-9
New International Version (NIV)

Final Exhortations
 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's The Unexpected Things That Throw You. . .

I woke up this morning with a plan. . .
Breakfast, walk Jada, start some bread, blog and then out to the garden.
It was a good plan.
A fun plan.
But then came the phone call. . .
"Are you home today? I can come over and put that light in your living room."
A bit of mental readjustment and the plan still works.
My handy brother-in-law was up in the attic figuring out the wiring when I discovered that the light fixture that had been kicking around the house for over a year had disappeared!
For crying out loud!
I frantically searched everywhere with no luck. Henry dropped by for lunch and made his own, futile search.
There was no help for it. I had to go shopping for a new one.
Ugh! I really hate shopping!
I ran over to the lighting store and took some time trying to find the perfect fixture.
You know. . .
Beautiful and cheap.
Thankfully Crystal works there, so she helped me find a lovely fixture. Not necessarily all that cheap mind you. . .but beautiful.
Back home to give Walt a hand.
Mom dropped by for a visit.
Hmmm. . .
A little more mental readjustment. Nope, pretty sure the plan isn't quite working anymore. But maybe I can salvage some of it.
Dinner time, and Morgan reminds me that we are going to get a monitor for my just refurbished desktop computer. I'm hoping it won't heat up the way my laptop does when I work on it all day.
Shoot! More mental readjustment.
The plan is not looking good. . .
Supper, a new monitor, and back home.
"Did you pick up milk? We're out." Henry reminds me.
"Uh, mom, the old keyboard doesn't work. . ." Morgan informed me.
Another quick trip.
It's getting late!

Things are looking good though. I have a 24" tv monitor for the computer and working with pictures and making garden power points is going to be awesome!

I think I have just enough time to . . .

It's Morgan with the neighbor's clippers in his hand.
"You  said were going to do my hair tonight . . ."
The last time I did Jesse's hair with the clippers, I continually yanked his hair and then accidentally buzzed a divot out of the back of his head. . .
" Are you sure you want me to do your hair????"

Not too bad from the front. . .
No divots in the back

Mind you I am not 100% sure about the hairline. Thankfully it's not crooked but. . . Should I have rounded the edges?
 Any hairdressers out there willing to give me a few pointers?

It's midnight and I'm pretty sure my plan is toast for today!

Ah well. . .
Maybe tomorrow. . .

Monday, October 17, 2011

Safe Food

I will be posting a little later today about what I have been up to lately, but while finishing my tea this morning I came upon an interesting blog post from George Africa who owns a perennial plant nursery in Vermont.
It seems today is Blog Action Day a day when bloggers around the world add their thoughts about a single topic.
This year's topic is Food which is near and dear to my heart. I am very excited about learning how best to eat locally and a big part of that here, with our short growing season, is preserving local food to eat throughout the winter.
There is lots of that going on around me. Mom has been dehydrating like crazy and managed to burn out two second hand dehydrators! She decided to spring for a brand new one and left our house yesterday with a huge kale plant to dry for me. Ev  always inspires me with her preserving efforts. She has been jamming, canning, juicing and dehydrating anything she can get her hands on. I have a long way to go in that regard as I am easily distracted by gardening, fall decorating and just about anything else at this time of year. Truthfully I am not all that fond of canning things. What I am fond of however, is tasty home canned food, so I work hard at pushing myself to do it anyway. I still have apples waiting to be processed, berries to be jammed, carrots and leeks to be dug, chopped and frozen,beets to pickle and venison to be made into sausage.
And I'll be getting to it. . .  as soon as I put the garden to bed, decorate the front garden for fall and Halloween ( I'm thinking giant spider with webs on the gazebo) and I make a few more concrete leaf sculptures.
Hmmmm. . . .
I think I had better wake up Jesse and put him to work or I'll never get it all done! (Some days it's handy to have a strong boy who knows how to garden and cook.)
I'll leave you with the link to George's post and ask what you have to say about this year's topic. . .
What thoughts do you have about food?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ta Da!!!

 I'm so sorry I have been taking so long to post today, (Aunty Nancy ;) ) but I am a little overwhelmed at the chaos that being away and then so busy over the last two weeks has caused in the house.
While the boys did keep things fairly clean, I came home to mountains of laundry (none of us has been able to find a clean towel to use after our shower), dirty floors, and a big undertaking that kept me running until this morning.
Now it's time to catch up with the housekeeping.
So here, in pictures, is what I have been busy with since I came home. . .
The full story next week. . .

Last night's Ladies Night Out. I was busy teaching two garden classes so Jesse came along to man  the table. luckily for me, most of his friends are girls so he didn't mind being the only man in the place!

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Would We Do Without Family And Friends?

So I had a very good sleep last night, short though it was. . .
I woke up rested and ready to go, had breakfast, walked the dog and sat down to work on the next project for tonight.
And then technology reared it's ugly head.
You all know what I mean. . .
We love the fabulous things technology can do for us, until it stops working.
What do you do when it stops working??? 
My mom will ask how it's possible for you to text someone when their phone is off and have that text show up as soon as they turn their phone on?
Where was it while the phone was off? How is that even possible?
I just say I don't have to know how it works, I just have to know how to use it.
And that's true.
Until it stops working.
Because if you don't know how it works, you don't know how to fix it!
I am so thankful for family who keep you from tearing your hair out and friends who come up with solutions to the problem. (We hope!)
Now I am off to see if Ev can pull off the impossible.
Keep your fingers crossed!

Learning Something New and Another Hint

It's quarter to one in the morning and I have finally finished my first ever power point presentation.
Of course if Jesse hadn't kindly tutored my in this fine art, I would likely still not be finished!
He did however, which meant I had time to do various other things to get ready for tomorrow night.
Whoo Hoo!
Want another hint?

Now it's time to turn off the computer before it over heats and the screen blacks out again.
It's never had a work out like this before!
See you in the morning. . .

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A New Beginning

Some of you might remember that a while back I was trying to decide just what to do now that I have retired from bus driving.
It"s not that I had no ideas, but just that I wasn't sure if I should take a risk and follow my dream. . .
Well, after some soul searching, long talks with myself, and every friend I have, (I am so sorry that I have been driving you all crazy!) I have come to a decision. . .

I'm jumping in with both feet!

After all, if you are going to pursue your passion, what other way could there be?

What am I going to do?

Here's a sneek peek:

And what has Jada been doing while I have been running around like a crazy woman???

Hanging out on my bed of course!

Want more than this little hint?
Keep watching for the next 24 hours as I update you as I go.
Want to check things out in person?
Drop in at Immanuel Church tomorrow evening at 7 pm for Ladies Night Out, support a PICS school fundraiser and see just what I'm up to. . .
See you there!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gardening In Unusual Spaces

So you live in a tiny space and are dreaming of one day being able to do some  significant food gardening.
But  right now it is nothing more than a dream. The only thing outside your front door is concrete.
 Not much opportunity there.
After all, growing food requires soil. . . . right?
Soil is great and my first choice for growing food, but it is certainly not the only option.
Pots are an excellent choice as well.
If you want to go organic when growing your food in a pot and avoid chemical fertilizers, you can add a good helping of compost and composted manure to your potting mix and still have great results.
 Perhaps you are thinking that a few tomatoes or an herb pot can barely be called significant food gardening.
Which is true, although nothing to sneeze at when it comes to to opportunity to eat a little delicious home grown food.
But who said you can only grow a small pot or two???
If all you have is a driveway and you use the largest pots you can find, you really can grow a significant amount of food!
Here's what I grew in my drive way garden this year. . .

I would call that a significant amount of food! 
This is our fall harvest. On top of this we have also been eating tomatoes and peppers of the vine for a least a month now.
The real trick to growing  food in pots is to get the largest pots you have room for. This gives the plants lots of room for root growth and allows you to go much longer between watering for most of the growing season.
If I had been more consistent in my watering late in the season when the plants had gotten very large and required more water I would have had an even better harvest!
Live and learn. . . (I have learned that next year I will be putting in drip irrigation rather than counting on myself to water when I need to. Sometimes I get distracted. . .)
Gardening in pots is fun and best of all, they never need weeding!
So next season, why not give it a try?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dear Aunty Nancy. . . Or. . . Another Broken Promise!

Have any of you noticed that the older you get, the faster time seems to fly?
At this point I figure I must be well into my nineties because an entire month just whizzed by unnoticed!
I missed doing something special for my secret sister and  had to do a belated gift which was only possible because my friend Ev and her girls are so creative.
 I would fill you in on what I did, but Crystal was told by my secret sister that she thinks she knows who her sister is. (Which would be me!)
Have you guys been talking???
Some fabulous and exciting things have been going on at my house and everyday I mean to do long, involved posts about it.
Unfortunately those fabulous and exciting things have kept me hopping and before I know it I am lying in bed sometime after midnight thinking " Now did I post today or not?"
I could post pictures to show you some of what's been going on but. . .
I am travelling again!
Yes indeed, for the fourth time this year I am blogging from the damp, drizzly B.C. coast.
Tamara's daughter is marrying a young man who had been a student on my bus for several years and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to share in this lovely occasion.
Mind you, if I wasn't retired I wouldn't have been able to come at all, as the groom's father is my substitute driver. I am pretty sure that being the father of the groom would win out over being the aunt of the bride!
I have managed to sneak in a bit of quiet time to blog this morning but I am fairly sure that a search party will be sent out for me at any moment.
After all, a wedding with a " A Night In Venice' as a theme doesn't happen by itself.
Many, many hands are needed to make the transformation from large greenhouse space to enchanted Venetian garden.
So,  if you all will excuse me, I have some  fanciful masks to help finish!
And the enchanted  garden to arrange!
Isn't life wonderful?

© A Life of Whimsey