Odds & sods

Happy last week of November. I hope everyone had a nice weekend and a great Thanksgiving.

I know everyone always says that time flies, but I am seriously amazed that it’s already the end of the month–and one month from now will be Boxing Day. Hard to believe.

I’ve really been trying to be in the moment over the past few months and not look too far ahead. I want to savour my time with Ellie and Matt. It’s not about what’s next. It’s about what we’re doing now and enjoying it. Admittedly, life isn’t always enjoyable, but moments are temporary. If Ellie needs to be held a little while longer, I’ll give her that, because someday she won’t want to sit with Mama.

Speaking of the passage of time, our baby is 9 months old now. She’s been out as long as she was in. Ellie shared her 9 month birthday with what would have been my paternal grandmother’s 104th birthday, which made the day even more special. We marked the occasion by taking another photo of our girl with her tractor.

Ellie sitting on her tractor

Looking back over the rest of the month, here is a round-up of some things that have caught my eye.

Kitchen refresh by The Handmade Home

A really smart kitchen refresh

A checklist for making green home improvements

I’ve realized I have many feelings about names… and apparently others do too

How dog agility applies to all dog training

The world is better than we think (my book recommendation from Obama)

Worrying is praying for stuff you don’t want

Say yes to your life. Because… this is it.

My writing elsewhere:

How we care for our barn cat

Livestock Guardian Dogs – An Introduction

Why does my dog refuse to walk with other people?

We’re gearing up for a busy week here. We have a bunch of appointments, including a doctor visit for Ellie and her last swimming lesson. We’ve loved swimming and will be buying a pass to go on our own until Ellie’s eligible for the next level of lessons.

We’re also preparing to host some of Matt’s extended family for our annual month before Christmas party this weekend. It’s always so nice to see everyone and spend time together. While Christmas has obviously already hit the blogosphere, this party is my cue to start decorating and start getting my head into the season.

What’s ahead for you this week? Are you in Christmas mode yet? Or are you, like me, trying to live in the moment?

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Odds & sods

Do you guys like the round-up/links/personal posts that so many bloggers do on Fridays? I enjoy them. They usually have a few links that are interesting to me, and they give me some insight into the person behind the blog.

The Odds & Sods posts that I do every so often are kind of my version of these types of posts (odds and sods was a phrase my paternal grandmother used instead of saying odds and ends).

I’m thinking about making O&S a little more regular. Not every week, but maybe at the end of every month. What do you think? Is this something you’re interested in?

I’m going to put one out there today. Please share any feedback you have.

The Fall 2018 Canadian Bloggers Home Tour happened a couple of weeks ago. I love seeing bloggers come together and supporting each other. Plus, I am proud of the talent, diversity and creativity from my fellow Canadians. I encourage you to check out all the homes on the tour. Here are some stand-outs:

  • I love the style of Vin’yet Etc’s living room, and even more I love her hummingbird and the connection to her mom. We see so many signs that my Dad is still with us, so this resonates with me so much.
  • Beautiful neutrals, blue-green glass, flowers and one of my favourite foods (charcuterie) from So Much Better With Age.
  • Thalita from The Learner Observer is someone I connected with a looooong time ago. I’ve loved seeing how she’s built her career, her family and her lovely home. Thalita also published a real life (didn’t even put her bra away) tour.

In other home and real estate news, Justin Bieber is apparently going to be our neighbour. (What does it say about me that I didn’t recognize him in the twitter pics? And I misspelled his name when I first typed it? #notabelieber)

Ellie eating food for the first time

Ellie turned 7 months old yesterday. She’s been eating food for about a month now. She quickly began devouring her meals–and decimating my baby food stash. We’re still in the basic puree stage, but we’re looking ahead to more complex meals (and a time where dinner does not end up in her nose). Do you make your own baby food? What are your baby’s favourite foods? Do you have any good recipes to share?

  • Once Upon A Farm (with Jennifer Garner) has an interesting business model: they make organic baby food, but they also publish the recipes in case you want to make it yourself.
  • I’ve saved recipes for month of baby food–although I feel like my girl may go through this in less than a month.

Apparently I’m in a feminist kind of mood right now.

My writing elsewhere:

I hope you all have a good week. We’re wrapping up September with a date night for Daddy and Mama, hopefully a trip to the swimming pool (a test run before Ellie starts swimming lessons next month) and a very special family project that I’ve been wanting to do for years.

What’s on tap for you?

Odds & sods

Thank you so much for all of the kind thoughts on my last post. I appreciate your condolences and your stories of connecting with friends and having fun. It truly means a lot to read your messages.

I’m not really sure what to write to follow that post. I confess my head is a bit all over the place this week, and projects at the farm are somewhat the same.

This post will likely reflect that as I share some odds and sods of what’s been happening lately.

Ellie turned 5 months old a week ago. I’ve been sharing a photo every month on Instagram of her with her tractor. For the first time, she was stable enough to actually sit on the tractor (with a bit of help from Daddy).

Ellie sitting on her tractor at 5 months old

She’s rolling over all the time now. But only from back to front. She hasn’t figured out how to go the other way, and she doesn’t necessarily love laying on her tummy, so we spend a lot of time fixing the upside down baby–not a hardship during the day, but not so much fun in the middle of the night.

She’s still a gem, though, and takes it pretty easy on us usually.

Here’s some of what else has been going on:

  • I had a first animal sighting for me last week: a fawn. Six years into farm living, and deer are still special to see. But I had never seen a fawn. This one was way in the distance following its mom across the back field, but it was still incredibly special to get a glimpse. Butterflies and herons are holding special significance for Matt and me this year, and we’ve seen more of them than ever. We’ve also had a skunk a few days in a row, five mice (in the house… yuck), turkey vultures (Baxter’s nemesis) and an infestation you’ll hear more about in a future post.

Turkey vultures on the barn

Turkey vulture on the barn

  • A local farm went viral over the weekend. The farm where I buy our birdseed has fields and fields of sunflowers in bloom. They were allowing people to walk through the fields and take pictures (for a small fee). The response was surprising to me, but on Saturday it was unreal. An estimated 7,000 people showed up. I can’t imagine 7,000 people on our farm. The police were conducting traffic and the road that the farm is on had to be closed. I was caught in the jam and was blown away. When I got home, I found out that the police shut down the sunflower viewing for the season because of the overwhelming turnout. I’m happy for the family for what they achieved and disappointed that their season got cut short. I’m sure they could have made more income from sunflower walks than sunflower seeds. I am super proud to see a small, family business–and a farm–enjoying such success and hope they can come up with a solution for next year.

Field of sunflowers

  • I had another article published in the latest issue of The Canadian Organic Grower. (It’s a profile of potato growing at Calannire Organic Farms, and unfortunately isn’t available online yet.) I wrote this shortly after Ellie was born, and I still remember how good it felt to have this piece of my self–to be a writer for a few hours and not only Mama. Life is all about balance and finding what works for us.
  • I was first introduced to Pete Souza’s work through a PBS documentary about presidential photographers. Next I started following him on Instagram and then I checked his book, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, out of the library. The documentary is very interesting, the book is lovely and his political commentary on Instagram is cutting. I’m interested to see his new book Shade.
  • I’m currently reading Endurance, an account of astronaut Scott Kelly’s year in space. It’s a neat glimpse behind the scenes of the space program and the effects of space on people’s bodies and minds. I did not realize how truly international the International Space Station is.
  • I’ve been cooking mainly vegetarian for awhile now. Thug Kitchen has become one of my go-tos for tasty, easy recipes–and humour (as long as healthy vegan cooking with an abusive potty mouth appeals to you).
  • On Friday, I got my first haircut since Ellie was born. I now have a short little bob. Byebye pixie. I love having short hair, and I’ll likely go back to the pixie in a little while. My hair had basically already grown out–the hard part–and my hairdresser and I thought it was a good opportunity to change things for a little while.

Thanks to all of you for reading my posts and following along with our adventures and caring about what’s happening with us. Choosing to share some of our life through this blog has connected us with a lot of different people, and I truly feel those connections. I appreciate that you take some time out of your week to drop by and read what’s happening with us.

What’s happening at your house? Anyone else trying out a new haircut? Any special animal sightings or books or recipes to recommend?

Odds & sods

Whew. I feel like I could have slept all weekend. Of course, that was not what happened, but I did spend Sunday afternoon curled on the couch with Baxter. The fire was going, I was wrapped in a cozy sweater. It was a perfect low key few hours before we head into the final stretch of Christmas busyness.

Since I’m still feeling lazy, I’m starting this week simply, sharing a few tidbits of what we’ve been up to recently. And because I’m apparently feeling random, I’m throwing in a couple of favourite recipes. Also, dog pictures just because they’re cute.

Dogs hiking in the snow

  • Part of the reason for the couch afternoon was we spent the morning at the holiday dog hike our trainer organizes every year. There is something so special about watching dogs of all shapes and sizes running together–most of them off leash–and enjoying the outdoors.
  • This weekend included another treasured holiday tradition, a family potluck hosted by one of my (many) cousins. I took my favourite potluck dish, sweet cream cheese dip with green apples… or, as I sometimes call it, sugar on a plate (recipe below).
  • I started my holiday baking with a big batch of Matt’s favourite–peanut butter balls (recipe below). Up next, whipped shortbreads, which are one of my favourites.
  • Two new-to-me blogs that I’ve been enjoying: The Handmade Home and Arrows and Bow

Peanut butter balls

2 cups icing sugar

2 cups shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

(My grandmother’s recipe calls for equal parts PB, sugar and coconut, but I’ve been finding them way too sticky, so I’ve been cutting back the PB over the years. I fudged the quantities above a bit, as I make a much bigger batch. This year’s was 5 cups of icing sugar, 5 cups of coconut and 4 cups of PB, which resulted in approximately 140 balls.)

Mix sugar, coconut and peanut butter together. Roll into small balls (sticking the “dough” in the fridge for a few minutes helps to firm it up so it’s easier to roll). In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips with a bit of evaporated milk. Roll balls in chocolate and put on a tray to set.

I store mine in the fridge to keep them nice and firm.

Sweet Cream Cheese Dip with Green Apples

1 block of cream cheese

1 cup of brown sugar

Crushed Skor bars

Dulce de Leche (or caramel sauce)

Mix cream cheese and brown sugar together and spread on a large plate or platter. Sprinkle with Skor bits and drizzle with dulce de leche. Chop green apples into wedges. Scoop dip with apples and feel healthy ’cause you’re eating fruit.

And more dog pictures.

Our trainer giving instructions before we hike. (Don’t let Baxter fool you. He’s not actually listening. He just wants attention too.)

Dogs hiking in the snow

All the sniffs.

Dogs hiking in the snow

When you show up at the holiday party wearing the same outfit as someone else (although the little guy also had on pants and socks).

Dogs in matching plaid coats

The afternoon after a hike.

Baxter sleeping on the couch

Odds & sods

Ralph and Baxter relaxing on the driveway

Today is Civic Holiday here, so Ralph, Baxter, Matt and I are doing our civic duty and taking it easy. In that vein, I’m keeping it simple today with an odds and sods post.

  • The holiday Monday starts a week off work for me, so I’m looking forward to lots of time around the farm, a new writing gig, catching up with a few friends, and a bit of taking it easy. (But first I have a 17-year-old who’s excited to learn how to drive the tractor, so that means an extra pair of hands and a day of free labour for me. Yay!)
  • Later this week we’re headed into the big city to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Yankees. The Jays’ season thus far has caused Matt hours of angst. Even if this week’s game doesn’t tilt our way, he’s excited to see the Yankees live for the first time.
  • Matt brought home our first peaches of the season the other day. They are so good. My favourite so far is sliced, tossed in a frying pan for a few minutes with maple syrup and then poured over waffles–a perfect vacation breakfast. I love fresh summer produce. Next on the menu, fresh sweet corn,
  • Thanks to humidity, we had a couple of big rainstorms last week. As in tree branches down in the wind and driveway washed out due to who knows how much rain in just a few minutes. Fortunately, damage wasn’t too severe and our sump pump worked the way it’s supposed to.
  • Two new-ish to me blogs are The Grit and Polish and Chris Loves Julia. I really enjoy their style–both writing and home. They both also welcomed new baby girls to their families over the last couple of weeks.
  • Once upon a time a long long time ago, Danica wrote a guest post for me. She and her husband are still working hard on their Hillside Casa. They had a crazy productive week last week–and still have a just plain crazy to-do list for the next two months. What they’ve accomplished is super impressive and they’re a great example of what DIYers can do.

Happy August everyone.

Odds and sods

Collage of photos

We’ve had some ups and downs over the last couple of weeks, but tonight the first long weekend of the “summer” begins. We don’t have a lot of plans for this weekend, which is probably a good thing. There may be gardening. There may be hiking. I may simply sit in the garden with my book.

Here is some of what we’ve been up to, and some other interesting things I’ve seen recently.

  • One of the big downs was that Matt was in a car accident and has a broken arm as a result of the airbag. We’re very grateful that he was not more seriously hurt, and it looks like his car is going to be replaced fairly easily, so things are looking up now. Plus the blue cast that he chose put the Blue Jays on a bit of a winning streak–one that they can hopefully recapture this weekend.
  • While we’re watching the baseball games, I’m hoping I can multi-task and catch up on some of the One Room Challenge reveals that I haven’t seen yet.
  • I got a new phone two weeks ago. This is a huge upgrade over my four year-old Blackberry. I’ve been super impressed with the camera, which gave me one of my favourite pictures so far of Ralph surveying her domain from the barn.
  • Just because we can’t play favourites, there’s another cute photo of our other furry dude and some of his furry friends (are horses furry?)
  • Back to Ralph, I’m adding catnip to the garden for her this year. I came across this cat herb garden last week, and now I’m thinking our best girl might need a few other herbs too.
  • Another brilliant garden idea that I saw this week was this double-duty yard tool/yard stick for the garden–so smart.
  • Ending on one more up, trillium season is always special. I love seeing their flowers around the farm. We even have one blooming in our front garden.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. And to my fellow Canadians, Happy Victoria Day. How are you marking the weekend?

Odds and sods

New buffalo check plaid skirt and shopping with my dog at Rona

Today, I have another odds and sods post for you, where I bundle together some of the little things that are happening around the farm and some things that I’ve seen out on the worldwide web.

  • I don’t shop at Rona a whole lot, but I ended up there last Friday, and they may become my favourite store because they allow dogs! I love stores that allow dogs–even though Baxter doesn’t quite have the energy for shopping.
  • Before I tore my office completely apart, I managed to sew a skirt that’s been in my head for a looooong time. Flannel buffalo check laid on the bias (AKA diagonal). It’s a little bit country and a whole lot comfortable for the winter.
  • We’re at an exciting time in our family. Nephew #1 has his driver’s license–so proud of him. Nephew #3 turned 3 a week ago. Nephew #5 should arrive in the next week or so–so extremely excited. Niece #1 arrives in a couple of months. Oh and Matt and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary yesterday and 19 years together this month. Craziness.
  • Alexandra Franzen is a writer whose posts inspire me. This one for the “the hard worker, the un-complainer, the tenacious warrior, grinding and slogging and striving to create something beautiful in this world” was a particularly motivating way to start the year.
  • Other words that are inspiring me right now: “No, we don’t do busy.
  • Thalita, who runs The Learned Observer, is someone I connected with online and then met in person a few years ago at Blog Podium. Now she’s a super busy Work At Home Mom of twin boys and is embarking on a new career as full-time blogger. The work that goes into making your dreams come true is significant, and I’m so impressed by what she’s been able to accomplish. I’m loving following her journey and cheering her on virtually.

I am more than ready for this weekend.

It’s been a bit of a tough week at the day job, with 26 meetings in the past four days and lots of extra hours to get at least a little bit of work done. I am grateful that I’m still on a four-day workweek schedule, so I’m willing to put in the extra time to get that balance.

However, I am looking forward to a few days of hiking, getting back to painting the furniture for my office, sleeping in, snacking and spending time with Matt at our farm.

What’s inspiring you this week? What have you been up to? What are your plans for the weekend?

Odds and sods

 

Preserves and homegrown apples

It’s been a busy week–really a busy month (or months)–so I’m taking it easy today with a quick list of the odds and sods that have been happening recently:

  • One of my very best friends left a whole package of homemade preserves, muffins and fresh apples on our driveway gate this week. We’ve been friends for more than 30 years and still live less than 10 minutes from each other. Life gets busy and we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, but we’re still connected. Little moments like this are what friendship is all about for me.
  • The 30th anniversary issue of House and Home was full of great rooms. A lot of the old favourites were some of my memorable spaces too. Kim Cattrall’s ocean front home (seriously, she stood in the ocean and then sat on driftwood for two pictures) is pretty special.
  • Our warm fall lulled me into a false sense of security. We’ve had windchills, negative temperatures and even snow over the past week. I need to get cracking on the annual seasonal shutdown. This weekend’s to-dos are remove the tractor mower deck and turn off the outside water.
  • Speaking of cold weather, I’ve started knitting again–and am teaching a whole bunch of people at my day job how to knit too. Yet another pair of my favourite slippers from French Press Knits are on my needles right now.

Is anyone else feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day right now? Or the things I want to/need to do are too many for the time I have available? Obviously, my friend (who is also mom to two little boys) has found some deeper level of productivity than I have yet uncovered.

Odds and sods

Photo collage

Ahhh. A three-day weekend. What a nice treat in the middle of winter. Matt’s working on his goal of not leaving the property all weekend. And I’m taking it easy with a quick list of the odds and sods that have been happening recently.

  • I got to watch my 22-month old nephew “play soccer.” Lesson learned: there’s no way to get a clear picture of a toddler playing soccer.
  • Temperatures have been hovering around the -20ºC mark. And that’s just the temperature. The windchill makes it extra frigid.
  • I braved Ikea on Saturday. Thanks to the temperature, a lot of people opted to hibernate instead of shop, so it wasn’t the usual madhouse. I came out–in less than a hour!–with all of the hardware for the guest room curtains, two new pillows for our bed (finally upgraded to king size pillows to match the king size mattress), and my usual–a handful of picture frames.
  • Due to the temperature, Bax is having many quick outings rather than any long hikes. We’re supplementing with indoor fetch and tag. Our girl Ralph doesn’t seem to notice the cold. Matt picked burrs out of her tail, so we know she’s venturing outside the barn. A cat we’ve not seen before was hanging out in the barn a few mornings ago, so someone’s obviously feeling the cold.
  • The non-feline family members are focusing on indoor sports including painting a few items for the guest room, baking a fudgy cake for Valentine’s Day, napping fireside, watching some TV and movies (this one, this one and this one were interesting. I was really keen on this one, but I ended up falling asleep on the couch.)
  • My brother and I are sharing custody of my Dad’s router. After a bit of fiddling, I remembered how to use it and made some good progress on an art project for the basement. Adam, you can have the router back now.

And of course there’s been a bit of romance in there–Valentine’s Day! And some more family time yet to come–Family Day!

How was your weekend? What did you get up to?

Odds and sods

Mantel decorated for Christmas

Whew. I am glad it’s Friday–even if it is Friday the 13th. I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up all week.

It won’t be a quiet weekend for us, but it will be a good one.

We’re hosting our annual Christmas party for the extended family on Matt’s Mom’s side. It’s a little earlier than usual, but no one seems to mind. I’m glad that we’re all able to get together. It means a lot to us that Matt and I are able to keep this tradition going.

Here’s what else is happening in our lives these days:

  • Thanks to our early Christmas party and my MIL’s help last weekend, our house is already partially decorated. (That’s our mantel up above.)
  • The fall One Room Challenge came to an end this week. I did and I didn’t miss participating this time around. I’ve loved following along with many of the makeovers. Part of my weekend plans is to take some time to click through all of the amazing rooms from both the guest participants and the “official” bloggers.
  • Ashley and Adam at Domestic Imperfection are building a new house. I feel like their plan is really unique–not cookie cutter at all–and they’re making really cool choices for their family.
  • We’re on the hunt for a new freezer. My only criteria is I want an upright and as big as (reasonably) possible–ideally 20 or more cubic feet. Do you have any wisdom to share?

And that’s all I’ve got, folks. I think it’s time to call it a week.

How did your week go? What are your plans for the weekend?