Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Shower of photos 2009, #20

An opportunity to be near the shore

Many do with opportunities as children do at the seashore; they fill their little hands with sand, and then let the grains fall through, one by one, till all are gone.
What opportunities are you missing today?

No, no, no...not the big eventful ones you might think.

How about simple opportunities present in your day, things like; thankfulness, gratitude, loving gestures, kindness, peace of soul, charity of heart or mind, pay it forward moments, inner examinations of conscience, showing love for another, warm words, offering a sincere compliment, a quick note to someone who matters to you in your life, smiling until it becomes contagious to others around you like a cheery balm in the midst of a busy day, and so many other multitudes of opportunities present every day in our lives.

What are you waiting for? Make haste, and get your thinking cap on.... (smile) and take action.

This post today now concludes my "April Shower of Photos 2009" entries. It's been so fun playing with angles and photo opportunities in general over the past month. I want to thank my blogging/boating (she lives on a boat!) friend S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen again for not only hosting but challenging me yet again to enter this year's photo challenge. Run over and visit with her and browse through other submissions from those who played along all noted on the right side bar of her blog.

Junior Chef in Training

Junior Chef - Cookie Guard
"Can I make some peanut butter cookies today?"

This is one busy kitchen helper/baker/cook to keep an eye on. When an idea strikes him, he takes off soaring about to create a feast for all to enjoy. Perhaps he's had a great example to follow the footsteps of his master cook father in recent months, and no doubt that can be the case here today.

Not only did he bake up a batch of tempting and warm peanut butter cookies, he also insisted on making everyone lunch just after the noon hour.

With an opened can of tuna and another opened can of crab, he set about making a seafood food fare that left me wondering and (quaking) as I sat spellbound by his enthusiasm for his surprising and nutritious meal making in my kitchen.

All those lessons learning about Canada's food guide pyramid has led me to believe he was really listening and comprehending the whole sense of good nutrition. Not only did he have his protein covered in this meal, he also added a few frozen peas, broken bits of hard corn tortillas, ripped up bits of romaine lettuce and dessert decorations graced the outer rims of this lunchtime meal with an abundance of cookies present to delight all. A fruit smoothie shake made with milk accompanied for a balance of protein, vegetables, breads, dairy and fruit. Oh, and anyone for dessert at the same time?

He knows presentation is everything according to his Chef Daddy, so with his creation in the photo above, isn't this a most interesting & appealing meal?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April Shower of photos 2009, #19

To everything there is a season and a time
to every purpose under heaven

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

Beauty abounds!

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here

All simply in the springing of the year

~ Robert Frost
Beauty abounds when spring arrives and floral beauties enter our lives more fully with multicolored explosions of color in private or public gardens, city parks and even on the floors of natural forest landscapes.

Displaying floral beauty in our homes not only offers us a gentle reminder to always remember to offer thanksgiving for the gift of God's creation all around us, it also offers us a loveliness present in our daily midst to ponder the richness of each seasonal cycle over the course of a year, realizing how much our lives are blessed daily with a simple observance of new buds, colorful blossoms and the smell of the seasons to come. Yes, *the smell* is what I said because here in Ontario one can truly SMELL spring wafting through the air, on its way over to us straight through until summer begins.
The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month
~ Henry Van Dyke

When spring arrives;
  • It's a time when subtle tones of earthy colors morph into an artist's palette of colorful rainbow hues.
  • It's a time when we begin itching to take our schoolwork outdoors.
  • It's a time when we can shed the winter woolens for cottons and pretty spring pastel colors again in our wardrobes.
  • It's a time to ponder the cycle of nature and new life.
  • It's a time to sift through the deep recesses of our garages, perhaps a shed, under decks and everywhere else a family stores the patio furniture and a time when the BBQ gets fired up again for dinner cooking abilities withe pleasant weather for cooking outdoors.
  • It's a time to rethink the family food menu by offering lighter fare and less hearty stick-to-the-ribs carb fests.
  • It's a time to realize to everything - there is definitely a season, and this is our season (we hope and pray) to relax a bit more with health issues ever-present still but not emergent, to be gracious in offering continuous thanksgiving every day for all we have been blessed with and the overall gift of life in general.
Here today, I have much to be thankful for, oh yes I do.

Have you ever felt like you're going crazy because you KNOW something isn't right but everyone you've consulted with simply cannot find a solution to the suspected problem? My problem has lasted four months!

Yesterday I had an emergency visit from the gas company where it was discovered and confirmed at long last that I did indeed have a gas leak in my gas dryer, the culprit for my long standing saga of continuous headaches since our move here. All this time (four months), I thought they came from either stress or hormone related situations, but not so. I am so incredibly thankful for the gas leak behind us as I shudder to think what could have been....and for the protection from possible tragedy and for the relief in store for headache reprieves.
And spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April Shower of photos 2009, #18

Spring hockey gear shuffling

Spring hockey 3 on 3 play time for this young man

He hasn't played any ice hockey since last year, with the only exception being the fun play he enjoyed at our local outdoor ice arena.

This young man of ours has expressed a deep desire to enter more formally into this sport by requesting to be registered in minor hockey levels for this fall. As a preseason game refresher and for the purpose of getting into fine preseason physical shape again, we found a fun 3 on 3 league for him to participate in, once weekly, but the catch is it begins tonight and runs until the third week of August. His father and big brother are in charge of this scheduled activity, so it's a "guy event" around here every Tuesday night.

In the photo our son is shown along with my hubby as he begins trying on all of his gear and realizing how much he has grown, hence the bulk of it is now too small. It's a good thing to have older "hockey-loving siblings" who have also outgrown their gear, so a real shuffling and sorting through the family's hockey gear stash was in due order to ensure in advance that he would be all packed and ready for this evening's game time.

We also found out he no longer had hockey sticks worth using on the ice, and the fallout from loving outdoor arena play on a rough surfaced rink was a result of terribly dull hockey skate blades involving and "extra charge" for sharpening from the damage on them.

With solid check marks on the to-do list in place for assurance of acceptable and ultra safe-fitting gear, new hockey sticks in tow, his own hockey tape to hold up his socks in his bag, hockey helmet adjustments corrected, and he is now at last (drum roll) good to go and so very excited to get out on the ice tonight.

Maple Syrup Festival Fun

Fresh from the sugar bush

New adventures are always welcomed here. Sometimes these sudden adventures come at a moment's notice and end up being a highlight of our week. Just like all those other special memories stumbled upon to date during our journey while living in the eastern parts of Canada, this weekend was no exception for planting yet one more special memory into our heart banks.

My favorite sister (the only sister I have) arrived for a weekend visit after realizing her business travel was just over the border in the state of New York, a very do-able road trip for spending her free weekend in between the two work weeks with our family. I personally was very excited to play hostess for our short time together as she has never been able to visit us while we've lived nearer to her the past few years.

On Friday evening she arrived shortly before the sun set and darkness soon fell upon us, laughing about surviving the thrust of rush hour through long corridors of the QEW highways and then along a series of 400 highways soon after. Our family porter (older son) retrieved her bags from her rental car and it was time to let the visit begin.

Good morning everyone!

Evenings were spent catching up over gourmet dinners courtesy of my husband or one of the local restaurants we thoroughly enjoyed dining in, the three of us chatting long into the evening together.

Our niece asked if she could join the party here and drove up from her eastern GTA area arriving midmorning Saturday to spend the better part of the day with everyone. She said she wanted to be where two of her aunties would both be at one time, and of course had a great desire to also see everyone else. Our older son and her share the same birthday in a few weeks, both bonded by special birth dates and reveled in the fact it wasn't far from now before they'd both be celebrating.

Cousins all

Everyone was pleased at the prospect of seeing her again. It seemed so long ago we were all together at Christmas. Her visit was especially thrilling to our young daughter who waited with baited breath at the window to be able to announce her cousin's arrival and already had her cluster of webkinz pets ready to place on display, after sharing their love of these adorable pets during our last visit. Afterall her collection now had grown since her one and only pet beforehand. She was hanging around her cousin again after bonding to her instantly last Christmas when she and her husband joined us for dinner and never really left her side the entire day while she was gathered here near to our family.

As it happened the initial dreary weather cleared up and soon we were marveling over the temperature rising upwards to the high eighties, having to begin removing our coats to enjoy the fine summer-like day as a few of us began to drive off to attend a Maple Syrup Festival not too far away.

Maple syrup facts & the taste testing area of one vendor

Light, Medium or Dark; Our niece was our taste tester

Not having any personal previous experience as a connoisseur as an attendee at a Maple Syrup Festival before, we weren't exactly sure just what to expect. Very soon after our arrival, our niece took it in her stride to begin a taste tasting small samples of syrup from each vendor, carefully accessing each sample from booth to booth in a search quest for the best syrup around. We were banking on her taste buds for our final syrup purchases, and she was so good at this task, we all ended up buying our stock from the same vendor below.

Each vendor exhibited their prize ribbons, and soon this was the very booth our niece guided us to for the most delicious quality of taste testing syrup trials.

Hoards of people packed roadways and were present for the same reason, and so many merchant booths were available with a variety of items on display. The pancake breakfast served all day had an incredible line-up well after the noon hour that saw folks lingering in long lines along the sidewalks. Boy, those pancakes were a draw but the line-up made us change our mind real fast.

Ontario Maple Syrup and sugar bush tours are plentiful for any tourist or local resident to keep their pantry stocked with delectable confectionery fineries such as syrup, maple sugar, maple spread, maple toffee and drops. We found fresh maple syrup as an ingredients in natural hand lotions and handmade soaps. Boy we smelled great!

Wall to wall people attended this annual Maple Syrup Festival

It was interesting to note all of the sugar bush steel containers for sale at each booth, later remembering what my father had suggested when visiting here with us last Christmas, that we should try to tap a tree of two in our own back property just to see what might end up in a bucket hanging from it. Any residual in the maple syrup department would be a good thing. Well maybe. Something else to learn about for sure though...someday.

Did you know...

Maple syrup came improve your health? It can because it contains large concentrations of antioxidants (phenols). Antioxidants help prevent heart disease, prevent cancer, and the risk of other age-related health issues. Phenols bound to sugar contained in maple syrup have a higher antioxidant capacity than those that are not bound to a sugar. Although maple syrup still contains calories just like any other type of sugar, it also contains important minerals to fuel your body, minerals such as; zinc, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. Next time you pour on your true (not fake such as those in the stores) and real maple syrup, remember it's good for you. (smile)

Youngsters begged parents to enjoy a ride in the carnival fair area and the midway was jam packed with fun games to play. Oodles of assorted culinary temptations grabbed our senses; everything from the scent of freshly popped popcorn, fresh sweet corn rolled in butter and placed on a stick, but for us, the fresh signature fry truck's delicious odor got our vote and we all decided to share a large dish together, all doused with vinegar.

The "Fry truck", the place to be but so very busy!

Later, it was famous long-lined schnauzer hot dog vendor supporting the local baseball players that we caught a whiff of and my sister had to snap the photo below because they looked so darned good.
My sister wasn't able to leave the smell of this vendor easily

Vendors were everywhere making aisles down the center of the roadways, tented unit makeshift stores were back to back and crowds thickened everywhere the live music was situated.

Fat quarters anyone? So many lovely colors are on display

We caught a fabric store opened not seen before and we drooled all over all those fat quarters nicely placed near to the front window.

The sudden onset of higher temperatures caused a few issues for her and my sister. What messes they were experiencing with ice cream melting faster than they could consume it.
As the heat rose higher, we all felt like we were melting so the day would never have been complete without a visit to the water's edge and one of the licky-licks available from the DQ nearby. Some (ah-hem) couldn't seem to contain their chocolate dipped cones from the melting ice cream inside and had a terrible time with leaks spilling underneath and onto the picnic table we shared. What a mess with the unexpected heat wave in our midst, but hello summer was the general feel of the day...that is until quite a bit of humidity swept up and became instant havoc to my poor hubby with his lung issues. Poor guy - he had a bit of a rough night dealing with its presence.

After our niece departed, a severe thunder and lightning storm blew through the area and forked lightning was upon us with a fierce rain shower. We weren't sorry for the rain, an overdue moistness our trees and ground required in this season of spring. One can just imagine the area we reside in with all the trees present having forest fire warning system in place throughout the year, so no doubt the firemen loved this rainstorm too.

I thought my eyes were fooling me the following day as the grass seemed so much greener and blossoms had opened up overnight in the gardens and throughout the forest floor out yonder.

Quick visits capture a true essence of time well spent with those we love. Better to have a bit of time when family are already in the local area than no time at all. And besides, the children created a mini-me for my sister on the Wii game system and introduced her to bowling and baseball. She was laughing hard and having fun so we know - she'll be back again. (wink, wink...)

Stolen moments were ours this past weekend, joyful hours spent doing whatever came natural. Saying goodbye though never comes easy, so until we meet again is still our motto.

A photo with my hubby, another with me.
Where was my tripod on such an occasion? Sheesh.

So long, until next time then... love you sister!

Monday, April 27, 2009

April Showers of photos 2009, #17

My New Boots!

John Deere doesn't only sell tractors!

Now don't laugh because THESE (very plain and simple rubber) BOOTS are practical and truly made for walking around this new property of ours!

I'm saying *no* to prickles hitting my ankles and I'm saying *hello* to new possibilities for exploring out yonder (seriously ugly as they are).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April Showers of photos 2009, #16

Beach side time again...

Hanging out around the boardwalk
Catching a sunset by the water
enjoying a little bit of this
some enjoying a little bit of this

with a little bit of that
...until we all got a chill sending us to the vehicle again

Finally as hubby's root beer float cup sat empty on the dash of the vehicle, he took in the detail before him and announced; "Take a picture of it"... and so here it is...for all to see.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

April Showers of photos 2009, #15

Come springtime...

Our boys' thoughts about golfing are in full bloom

Now to explore all the golf courses near to us. And there are many, many of them around here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April Showers of photos 2009, #14

Summer Preparations
for those memorable bonfires to come

From this pile above to this neatly piled stack below

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April Showers of photos 2009, #13

Freezer Blessings!

Buying turkeys on sale after a holiday blitz really allows for stretching the family food budget. It also allows for time saving future meal making blitzes when time permits to use the remainder of the leftovers and cook up extra food fare in advance. Freezer blessings fast becomes an instant bonus when extra busy days leave little moments around the dinner hour for creating timely meals, or when the mood strikes to just go ahead and skip the effort by using what we already have handy. Making meals in advance and using what we have in our food stock is a good thing, right?

My "chef" hubby donned his new "wild B.C. salmon apron" my parents gave him, and went to work the day after the last turkey was cooked up, the same day after the broth was created with flair and boiled up to meld the flavors, also the same day after all of the extra leftover turkey was segregated for future meals and placed into savory turkey pot pies. Oh baby!

Here is a glimpse of a few of the freezer blessings from one work blitz in our kitchen, for use down the road when all the yard work increases and many hours of outdoor laborious tasks take hold of our afternoon hours and when making dinner necessitates mixing up something in a jiffy for the starving family.

Thank you my chef hubby. You just keep up your new found hobby now, with my blessing. (wink, wink)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Wild Flower Song

My own little wildflowers

This past December we moved to our new home with three feet of snow already on the ground. It seemed to snow for the next three months, more snow than we had ever seen before during any one winter time. It was beautiful, so gorgeous in fact especially when the sun was high in the sky and everything looked crisp and beautiful.

The only problem with such weather conditions when moving onto our new property was never being truly able to view the back forest beyond the trees in the forefront. Who wanted to walk thigh deep in snow amongst fallen trees, broken branches and wild prickle vines during those days? Not I.

Ahhhhh, so this is what our property fencing looks like!

When the fencing companies came to offer estimate pricing for adding additional fencing down one side of the property to meet the other already existing fencing on the other two sides, they sent brave men donned in proper foot wear who were used to traipsing about in such natural property setting.

This week, once the tree cutters completed the final task of chipping the remaining branches on the ground, all that remained was a large pile of wood chips useful for our proposed trail system through the forest for the future. Quite suddenly this week my husband decided it was high time I grabbed my boots and took a walkabout on our property with him to observe exactly what lurked in our private forest system out back.

Two fences are already in place, lovely trails carved and semi cleared along both sides to walk through.

It was easy to navigate my way through the thick bramble if I remained alongside the existing fence down the right side, and then continued on my merry way by staying close to the farm fence at the back. About half way along the back end of the property, I became fascinated with the natural treasure trove greeting me there.

Rewind to a.....

......once upon a time when I was known to pack up to seven children in any given moment during the day for the express purpose of a brain break, venturing out together for a huge bout of fresh air while taking a walk/hike around a natural protected forest area near to us. It was a manmade sanctuary and nature lover's paradise and once was the location for a railway bridge system long ago used to transport fresh produce from country to the city to aid farmers' sales in the general area. Evidence of the crumbling structure remains to date in the center of the lake, and plaques with all historical information stand nearby for all to capture what it meant for nearby farmers of the day so long ago.

It truly was our family's greatest joy to spend time there, a place located near to us and completely within our cityscape setting. Remember we once were city slickers so this was tremendously appealing for us to partake in. Always my trusty camera tagged along and never was there a more tempting time to snap dozens of photos than there.

We loved to weave through the fabulous trail systems carved throughout the area, and when brave or able, to skip or jump onto the large rocks connecting the main land to the island in the center of the water. Duck and geese nests abounded on this island, so neat.

We became smitten for many years to observe all the changes from season to season, peruse through the natural areas for wildflowers, marvel at the large turtles basking in the sun atop of logs poking from the water's edge or even spent huge chunks of time hunting for beaver or muskrat living there, and often caught mama muskrat with her babies near the edge of the water.

We often hoped to catch a few fish spring up from the water to eat the bugs buzzing overhead, crossed over several bridge systems every time, sat and sketched or just enjoyed our time together there as a great escape from the mundane of the day to day routine of life. It was an outdoor education to bless all, even the grandchildren who enjoyed the unique entertainment when tagging along with the rest of us.

The wildlife living within the parameters of the trail systems was abundant and it seemed something new appeared each time we were able to visit. Always there was something to halt our steps and behold in our memories upon each visit there. So enthralled were we with this particular venue, we often brought our family or friends there to introduce them to it. The red winged blackbird never failed to greet us during two seasons, or the bald eagles perched on this nests high above the earth.

Each season we continued to explore changes in the treasure trove of nature gifts awaiting our discoveries, and it was there where our love of anything "nature" blossomed in our family. It was also there where I sensed the need to share our love of the outdoors with an entire group of other homeschooling families, and eventually I became the leader of the "Nature Club" every Wednesday during six week periods each season. We hosted our club rain or shine, loving our time together one and all.

Back to the present...

My eyes bulged and excitement grew deep within bringing my gait to a slow pace. Eventually I had to stop and take it all in because I could hardly believe my lucky stars over how much our property reminded me of those earlier days when the love of nature crept into our lives and took us along learning trails so vast and wonderful.

Okay so my friend Denise would laugh about now when I admit I never left for this walkabout without my camera in hand. Yep, I had it with me ...just in case, and I'm thrilled to present to you a few scenes from out yonder on the back of our property just in time for "Earth Day" today.

I already feel drawn to all the nature loving possibilities for spending many hours walking the trails we plan to carve within our private forest. I can envision a small pond and know there are assorted small animals lingering under tree root and way up on treetops. Nests are being built at record speeds, bunnies are beginning to creep from their dens and yes, even skunks nearby. It's hitting me that no vehicle emission output will be necessary for plummeting into the air when we travel to great escape natural choice setting areas nearby. We merely need to don our boots at any given moment and venture right out into our own back yard! Gotta love that!

The Wild Flower's Song

As I wander'd the forest,
The green leaves among,
I heard a wild flower
Singing a song.

I slept in the Earth
In the silent night,
I murmur'd my fears
And I felt delight.

In the morning I went
As rosy as morn,
to seek for new joy;
But O! met with scorn.

~ William Blake

Fungi on tree trunks

Shall we clear this, or leave it? Um, the woodpeckers liked it this past weekend.

So lovely! See the blue florals to the left side of this picture above?

Crevices below tree trunks, hibernating animals will soon wonder throughout our forest. No skunks please...

Wildflowers and an abundance of new growth of some of type of lovely floral. Anyone recognize it by the greenery popping up here?

Fallen trees and the promise of new leaves on the ones still standing

Wild ferns

More to come as we explore each season out yonder together...