Odds and 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 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?

Odds and sods

Odds and sods collage

It’s been a good vacation week here. I feel like I’ve found the balance between productivity and relaxation.

All of the gardens–flower and vegetable–are weeded. We’ve bought wood for the garden gate but not built it yet. We “fixed” the bathroom tap–when we couldn’t find a new cartridge that fit, we lubricated the old one and reinstalled it.

I’m 2 1/2 out of 3 on my vacation goals: I’ve had lots of long walks with Baxter, one with Matt and one with our hike group (and one more to come this morning). I spent a late afternoon on the couch with half a movie (as opposed to a lazy morning and a whole movie). I discovered that I can in fact still turn a cartwheel.

Here are some other things that have caught my eye recently:

  • Some great art–including DIY options–from Brooklyn Limestone and The Makerista. I love the room that Gwen made for her son. The gallery wall is outstanding.
  • I just discovered Love Grows Wild a few weeks ago, and now it seems to be popping up everywhere. Liz has been open about finding her style, and the spaces she’s making are beautiful. Plus she lives on a farm, so she’s totally someone I love to read.
  • And speaking of open and honest, Jen at IHeart Organizing wrote a great post about the challenges of blogging for “the reveal.”
  • Eat that frog totally helped me get ready at the day job for this vacation, and it’s helped with the small day job tasks that I’ve had to deal with during the vacation too.
  • My Mom brought me a beautiful bouquet of gladiolas. Our flower gardens are pretty much done blooming. I need some plants that bloom past August. Perhaps gladiolas would work?
  • I’m feeding my love of gardening with a new Sarah Addison Allen book. Now if only our garden had a magical apple tree…

How has your week been? Any suggestions for late summer flowers to add to my gardens? Have you read Sarah Addison Allen? Did anyone else try a cartwheel?

Odds and sods

Vacation photo collage

I took advantage of the mid-week Canada Day holiday to turn this week into a bit of a vacation. I’ve been trying to embrace the “summer time and the living is easy” mantra, so I don’t have a DIY or farm update to share today.

Here’s some of what we’ve been up to instead:

  • We spent Canada Day with Matt’s brother and sister-in-law, as is our tradition. I cannot say that Baxter the Canadog embraced his adopted country. He tolerated his patriotic kerchief, the parade, the crowds and the fireworks. He wanted to meet all the dogs and smell all the smells, and was a bit disgruntled that he didn’t get to spend every second socializing. He got lots of compliments on his kerchief though.
  • I planted some more peppers–4 more red and 12 jalapeno plants. Matt and I both keep adding lots of plants to the garden. Good thing we have a big property.
  • I’ve visited a few antique stores–not my usual haunt–during this vacation. I think I might have found a set of dining room chairs. They’re on hold until Matt can check them out later this morning. Fingers crossed he likes them.
  • Chiot’s Run is a new blog for me. I don’t have a lot of gardening blogs in my reader, and I’m really enjoying this one. After spending a fair amount of time yesterday thinning my beets and rutabagas, I’ve decided that next year I’m going to follow Susy’s lead and make myself a square foot gardening template for root vegetables.

What have you been up to this week? What’s your definition of easy summer living?

I wish you all a wonderful weekend. And to my American readers, happy Independence Day.

Odds and sods

Ice storm 2013

Some happenings from this week:

  • This weekend marks the one year anniversary of #IceStorm2013. Parts of it were neat. Parts of it were really challenging. Moving out of my own house over Christmas was memorable, but something I’m hoping not to repeat.
  • A friend at work sent me this meme last week. I probably found it funnier than it truly is, but I can see Baxter trying this logic on us if he ever finds himself in this situation. It’s been years since we’ve had a Christmas tree, and he definitely won’t get the chance this season.
  • I discovered a new blog, Finding Home, last week. I love their story and their style.
  • I’ve been able to work from home for a few days over the past two weeks. I rarely work from home–I like the discipline that comes from being in the office–but I have really enjoyed my days at the farm, and I’ve been pretty productive.
  • A thoughtful post on the evolution of a blog and finding your niche.
  • I donated blood this week. I was a regular donor for years and years, but then I fell out of the routine. I restarted donating earlier this year, and it feels good to be back. Are you a donor?

We have lots of family activities happening this weekend–a real kick-off to Christmas. Can you believe Christmas is here already? I have one more day of work left and one more blog post for you next week before I take a little break.

Now it’s your turn. Were there any exciting happenings for you this week? What are your plans for the weekend? Has Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) “started” for you?

Odds and sods

Some happenings from this week:

  • Matt and I got the mower deck off the tractor. Taking it off is easier than putting it on, but either way the mower deck is a beast. This John Deere commercial blew me away the first time I saw it. Who would have guessed that I’d find tractor attachments so exciting? (And, yes, Wiley’s safe. We’re not trading in our Kioti any time soon).
  • We’re holding off on putting the snow blower on the tractor, although we’ve had a surprising amount of snow over the past week–although not Buffalo quantities. It’s only November for goodness sake!
  • A friend gave me a chandelier that she didn’t want in her house. It’s a gaudy shiny brass crystal monstrosity that I think will be wonderful in my office.
  • Matt and I are hosting our annual month-before Christmas party this weekend, including a full turkey dinner. Of course one of the oven elements is on the fritz. Matt sourced a new one and installed it, but it’s still not working. Argh.
  • I have the vision for our master bedroom worked out in my mind. That is, except for the paint colour. This bedroom has me thinking about navy.
  • The safe house bedroom that Kelly at View Along the Way made is one of the most thoughtful spaces I’ve seen.

What’s been the highlight of your week? Any special plans for the weekend?