Friday, November 19, 2010

sugar dusting

** I wrote this a bit ago, had trouble uploading my photos with my slow internet, thus the delay...

Coupled with the fact the skyline was filled with several colorful rings around the moon, and rainbow blasts of color shooting from its center core the night before last, yesterday I also welcomed the snowy white with open arms.

Such strange beauty rendered the skies ominous, and almost eerie. We found they were the beginnings of the "Leonid meteor showers", which seemed to calm down a very freaked out older son who wondered greatly what in the world was happening to the skies when out for the late evening dog walking duties. Even at that later hour, he alerted all here, and texted many friends to get outdoors and check it out.

You see, we had rain for two days, accompanied by darkened gray skies, so wet and so dreary.

I found everyone here wanting to climb back into bed during the day, me included.

We woke today to calm and bright and the promise of a lovely day. It may be short lived though, for we are expecting more rain in the forecast which will wash this all away. boohoo.... Until then, we'll just cuddle up and enjoy this weather.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

A homeschooling field trip everybody should take,

... lest we forget ...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

With Canada Post's deadlines looming nearer with each passing November day, surprisingly I seem to have my act together by reaching my goal of shopping, wrapping and about to mail all off before Advent even begins.

The joy of having a big beautiful family offers one special blessings. Today, I'm especially thinking and loving them all from afar.

Makes me feel like celebrating today, knowing we already have all "22" December birthdays and Christmas gifts ready to mail to our Westcoast older children, grandchildren and parents.

First though,

some crafty busyness today for final touches on packages.

to you

as you prepare for winter ahead
and the season of Advent right around the corner

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ten Things I'm Thankful For

It's time once again for another installment of my "Ten Things" to be thankful for, always varied, always random bits in positively NO particular order.

Some of these are overdue, but here are a few more things in our home the past week or two;

-Purging of many of my older blog posts once abandoned to the draft section many months ago. Wow, that felt great to be able to click the publish button and I only have a few more left to get rid of in there!

- Finding out our fancy thermostats had glowing warnings and realizing (eventually) out all they required were new AAA batteries to replace the original ones. They take batteries? There is something to say about learning something new each day in our lives. Who would have thought THEY would require a battery change?

- Almost having our Christmas shopping complete and ready to package for sending across the miles.

- Remember the coffee pot saga a few months back? Well, guess what? The new coffee pot already bit the dust and when I took it back to Costco, they never questioned me at all, rather used my member number to look up my original purchase and price paid, followed by a full reimbursement of my money. I love Costco!

- I love Costco enough that when I was able to extinguish a small fire in our toaster a week later, I threw that away and my hubby drove back there to purchase a new one, stainless steel this time! You see, I have no idea what happened except that the spring mechanism just stopped working and six inch flames were rising from the toaster towards the kitchen cupboards above it. Yikes!

I am so thankful I was standing nearby or disaster may have happened! Even with the burnt offering removed from it, the toaster itself was tested again, flames rose out of it once more and the outer plastic was so hot to touch, and a little blackened. GONE!

- Having a clean freezer drawer beneath my refrigerator in the kitchen just makes me feel so good inside! I know, I'm strange like that. But, with mystery packages removed (someone doesn't use a marker and they all look the same when frozen, don't they?) and the whole thing scrubbed out, all is now restocked and wonderfully organized again.

- I stumbled upon a super sale on classic leather pump dress shoes at my "Naturalizer" shoe store, and not having purchased a good pair of shoes for years myself, it sure feels great to be able to take my former pairs to the shoe repair man to get them spruced up a bit. I even joined their club and became a recipient of two coupons, saving thirty dollars right there! Now, all those little rubber bits on the heels of my former shoes that have worn down, and the same ones who sport scuffs around their backs from driving damage, will soon be buffed up again.

Meanwhile, I have new shoes, brand new ones at that for the first time in a long time, and not my usual Value Village specials. :) These ones are classic and dressy ones for occasions that warrant wearing them and my former "special" shoes will be more for everyday usage. Feels great to update the shoe wardrobe again! Now to find a good pair of warm boots for winter!

- We used the last extra scapular in the house when I had purchased many ahead before moving east, so I'm wondering if anyone has a recommendation on where to find more at a reasonable price. We like the fabric ones, but not so big that they are uncomfortable. Also, if anyone knows where I can buy a few child sized ones, please let me know.

- We're in rodent control season here, so many traps and things to think about. My husband and son were up surveying the attic already, the garage door rubber replacement makes them nice and tight to foolproof them against mouse entry, so it's only the chipmunks who are wreaking havoc now to deal with. Cute as they are, they can do extreme damage of a property, so we've armed ourselves with information for continued rodent control over them. I feel like a tracker and trapper at best, like Daniel Boone or someone similar these days.

- I've got another appointment all booked for donating blood again in the new year. Did you know you can save three lives with one donation? I'm all about doing this every sixty days or so, now that I am beyond the baby nursing years and in relatively good health, honored in fact to be able to offer this to the blood bank. How about you?

Without further ado, let me present my "Ten Thankful Things", just sparks of thankfulness appearing in my days this past week.

Please know for certain that my own personal thoughts on true thankfulness can obviously never be offered, nor delivered in true completeness within one simple post.
And in case you just might find it interesting and want even more today, you can always skip along to view other "thankful" posts by clicking onto the archives located - right HERE.

1 - I'm thankful for surgical masks this time of year when necessity warrants having to wear one to protect a loved one.

There are two kinds available to us locally, one with elastic over the ears and another with double ties. Each child and adult living here has their own personal style preference, though the one on the left offers much more to safeguard germs from flying free and infecting another here. No matter the reason, even a sore throat warrants protecting someone because when one has serious trachea and bronchial issues on top of respiratory weakness, we are better off not taking a chance at all by omitting this practice.

The signs are back up around our home, and the masks packaged and ready next to them. Packages are also in position in the vehicles, in my husband's desk at work, and a couple in my purse, just in case...

2 - I'm thankful for board games that also teach something educational to our children. I remember playing the game of risk as a youngster with my younger brother. It was a puzzle actually and in order to conquer another land, one had to make the puzzle from one end to the other until both players met up together for a final finish. Sorry to my little bro, but I usually won.

Fast forward a few years until we owned the actual board game, and he usually beat me. No matter who wins, it's a great way to learn world geography, world history and allow for a bit of friendly competition round the dining room table.

3 - I'm thankful for
having my spice cupboard all neat and tidy again. When one home has two cooks sharing use of the kitchen, and one in particular keeps stopping on a whim when the mood to cook hits, doubling up on things just in case we don't already own them, this little area of life can soon become a little battle ground when realizing how many spice bottles it take to keep a pantry well stocked! Rather how many doubles and triples of the same item (when some are rarely used and we will hardly use to rid ourselves of them anytime soon) do we need? And exactly how many empty bottles must remain behind when empty to increase the tally for storage beyond what is acceptably normal for said items? Ode to my husband; please just ask me first before buying more and more... LOL

4 - I'm thankful for
the small set of six lessons this son was able to attend, those offered by a local teacher for guitar orientation. He had his final class this week, my brave son who tootled off to class with only a few middle aged woman in his midst and no males. He did so well, loves the instrument so much, one of the woman (old he said, about your age...) suggested maybe she get his autograph now in case he becomes famous some day. True to form, the testosterone flew and his smile beamed when reiterating this to me later after pickup. Now, back to piano lessons...and maybe some more guitar in the new year.

5 - I'm thankful for
young chefs in my kitchen who insist on creating special items for dinner's dessert. We only occasionally eat dessert here, usually opting for fresh fruit instead, and our younger children have never had the occasion to attend cake decorating classes or such things.
They are homemade, home grown and home loved in their kitchen skills! And I love their attempts at delectable presentations, even though they don't always look to be that way. Rest assured this chocolate cake was DELICIOUS, a tried and true family recipe I will keep forever because it uses all things usually stored already in my pantry.

Here it is below if you'd like to try it in cake form, cupcake or loaf pan.

Wacky Cake
(great for those with dairy or egg allergies because it uses none of them)
1 1/2 cups of flour
4 tbsp. cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup oil
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cups chocolate chips (optional, I rarely use these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, whisk well. That's it! Bake in square pan, or loaf, or cupcakes, or bundt (might want to double the recipe first) for 25-35 minutes.

6 - I'm thankful for
Autumn (again and again!), a season filled with vibrant colors that have the ability to perk up any weary soul. Now that autumn is fast turning toward winter, and though the color itself has all but disappeared, I'm so grateful for being able to share it all with my parents when they were visiting here last month. It's been such a beautiful season this year!

7 - I'm thankful for
the copper statues depicting the way of the cross at the "Holy Martyrs Shrine". I snapped this photo because I felt emotionally drawn to the heart of Mary shown here, the agony on her face most evident for the love of her son.

The facial expressions of all statues spread about on the shrine grounds touched me so much once I noticed how breathtaking they were, but this one was my very favorite of all. I cannot compare myself to someone like Mary, but I do know and feel that kind of love for my children, to the extent of trying to grasp any unintended pain and/or sorrow surrounding their lives, and feeling the deepest love possible toward those very souls, always reflecting and pondering sincere desires for their journeys here on earth and beyond.

8 - I'm thankful for
these sweet little scarecrows added to our autumn decor this year. This guy stares through my window at me in the morning while I sip on my cup of coffee and attempt to clear the cobwebs from my eyes.

How wonderful to be greeted in such a way when the color of the season has gone, and the smile on this fellow still remains. Very soon he will be brought indoors and stored away until next year, but in the meantime I've really enjoyed he and the other we have set up this year on the property.

9 - I'm thankful for
our little bonfire area we've been able to enjoy this year for it has completed and fast become a gathering spot of choice for many wonderful moments of conversation, cooking food fare and celebration.

Singing round the campfire took on new meaning this year, after our son brought out the guitar and played for us while he sang. That was the start of something really good. It continued with similar evenings of others singing along, even if it happened to be to the tune of Veggie Tales. So fun!

10 - I'm thankful for
my teenage years as a coin collector for these have made their way round to practical show and tells with our children and their friends throughout the years. I have coins from all over the world, not worth a fortune, some filled with memories from my travels only.

I have very old coins; Indian heads, King George of England and others that keep the children in awe when we take them out yet again and buff them to a shine. They have no value other than sentimental worth to me, though perhaps I could get a few dollars for them should I choose to sell them one day. Why bother though? I have grandchildren who will also see them, and get to know any stories behind them some day.

There are a few trivial but random meaningful things I'm thankful for today.

Since gratitude often begets happiness, why not go now and plunge in to creating your own daily gratitude lists!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

apologies for the flood of draft posts - now published...

Apologies to the email subscribers of this blog, for I have been in a publishing frenzy, shooting out most of the "old" blog drafts still sitting and awaiting final send offs. I think I counted upwards to fifteen of them so far.

To those who read the blog through a reader, they shouldn't be appearing as they are back dated and would fall into time line position rather than on the reader, or even on the main blog itself online, therefore this doesn't apply to you. (Whew!)

It has been my aim to accomplish this wee feat, and my sincere hope is that you haven't been overwhelmingly inundated with so many posts appearing in your email box.

So sorry for this (blushing) and just a little bit of a warning that there are only a few more to complete to get the "draft" section emptied again.

Thank you for your understanding.

Blessings; Renee

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I spy.... things that are ~ ORANGE ~

It reminds me of "JOY", in abundance.

It makes me smile.

It makes me feel like sunshine has warmed the very core of my heart.


Yes, ORANGE...

And, I spy with my little eye -
some things that are ORANGE around here...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (well, sort of)

when winter weather approaches....

...the outdoor chairs are comfy-perfect inside.

Monday, November 01, 2010

winter prepping home and property

Ask any homeowner and they will concur with me on the very necessary steps for winter prepping both their home and properties.

As anyone who knows me can attest, when house hunting in our former area, after visiting and previewing the area before actually moving there, I strongly suggested to my hubby not to seek out living in one particular area after seeing so many home owners out raking mounds of leaves, and bagging them for their roadside pickup.

How ironic that now, here we are living in a boreal forest, with leaves all over the place this time of year to rake and compost/bag.

Fast forward to now, two autumn seasons later since our move here, and we are again raking, raking, raking!

The secret for us was making it a group event by purchasing everyone living here their very own rake and a pair of gloves.

Next as fall passed by, it was ensuring we had enough prepurchased paper leaf bags to load up for compost pickup, the one happening today, only twice yearly here.

Having a reliable wheelbarrow to haul the heavy bags to the roadside is a definite asset, and always being certain to book ahead by making the clean up time a family affair.

I didn't have enough afterall, making a run to the store to acquire more

With a few of us enjoying some music from ear buds resting from our necks, we were still able to carry on conversation as we proceeded in 6C weather to offer several hours of grunt work and since the cold was not a good thing for this type of activity, gloves definitely were required.

Using a leaf blower was a big help this year for clearing out the garden beds with ease, and sending the perimeter of the property leaf piles further into the denseness of the forest.

My husband was in charge of the leaf blowing for a time, at least he attempted to greet the challenge of clearing the front garden beds before requiring several rests in between. Next we assigned him the duty of riding around on his lawn tractor, mulching the back property leaves to save us from having to bag them up.

You know, there is something to say about having more neighbors. It seemed as our time working outdoors went by, other neighbors jumped on the bandwagon and were out in force preforming similar actions.

One neighbor across the street purchased a "John Deere" lawn tractor like my hubby's, but that very morning, he had decided to purchase the leaf sucking vacuum with bag attachments. Sure to catch my hubby's eye, this is how he and our neighbor visit one another now, so funny.

It becomes another problem solving situation when having the luxury of a clear garden bedding, uncovering and noting the enormous plethora of chipmunk holes now exposed, pesky critters we don't want hanging out near our concrete foundation, for they are notorious for eventually gnawing through it to create much in the way of damage.

Many of those holes had acorns resting inside of them, surely a winter's store lay beneath the garden ground in vast tunnel systems for winter's protection.

The older ones were so helpful in accomplishing this task with me, at least in and around their work shift scheduling for the day, and while the younger ones were actually absent for much of the day while attending their "Red Cross Babysitters Course", the final two in our home to obtain their passing certificates.

Once home again, the younger two were assigned "Nut picking duty" because the continued ground cover leaves it difficult to use the lawn mower, likely to ruin our blades one day AND, rids the food supply for tempting those critters to live so nearby in the first place. Friends came and went to offer a hand for such a nutty gathering time.

Rest assured if you feel sad for our forest pals, life in a boreal forest offers no shortage of food for them, so they are most welcome to seek food supplies and begin living further from our home. Besides, I have a friend who was very pleased to be gifted with several extra large freezer bags of acorns for crafts.

~ ~ Over the past week, many other things were tended to including;

  • Garage doors;
We hired a company to tend to the growing concerns over lack of proper installation of our doors. Immediately they knew what they were to do in order to solve the problems, removing and installing the ceiling supports so they were straight, removing the shoddy weather (mouse inviting) stripping and replacing them and the side stripping as well.

After lubricating all properly, light bulbs were installed in the opening units (we never had any before) and the suggestion to place outdoor push button openers was the most fantastic thing ever! Now when our teens forget their house key, or the dogs require walking and garage doors closed behind them to keep the heat inside, with a simple device outside the large doors, access is immediate. No more ringing doorbells or having to rush home now when someone is not mindful of carrying a key! Yeah!

  • Cleaning out the duct work;
Outside of ensuring our furnace filters are cleaned and/or changed frequently (every billing period one should detail this), having our duct work vacuumed out has created a home where respiratory issues are as healthy as possible.

"There is nothing so great as clean air"

The duct work took a substantial amount of time, 3 1/2 hours to perform and that was only due to things being a bit cleaner than the last time when they were here for an hour and a half longer. Our furnace, duct work, all air vents (cold and hot), HRV air system, and dryer vent were sucked up. We never did know what the blockage in the dining room furnace vent was, maybe our lost short tailed weasel from last year perhaps?

We really won't know the extent of other things aside from dirt buildups in there, but no doubt plenty of mouse poop was vacuumed up and whisked away in the process. The air is already so much cleaner and I had been awaiting this process before even considering turning the furnace on again for winter.

  • The furnace inspection and tune-up;
Each year in both pre-winter and pre-summer, we hire the company who installed our furnace and air conditioning systems to run a check on both before the new season ahead. We also have in ground hot water heating in our basement floors, which didn't seem to be working well when my folks were visiting.

All was inspected and detailed for us, that is until we heard an awful sounding sawing of a pipe and wondered what in the world the guy was doing down there! Wanna know? LOL

There was a blockage in our intake pipe, one that warranted removing the pipe and scraping/vacuuming it out. I wondered what in the world it could be myself, but when it was disclosed, I thought, hmmm, maybe not. He scraped out a dried up bat, many leaves, acorn nut pieces and obviously other incinerated items, likely rodents. ICK!

I'm so thankful my hubby went around to every opening around the house and placed a finer steel mesh covering over top of each to prevent more things like this happening. Imagine turning on the furnace and having a blockage first thing? So thankful for our furnace company for inspecting the furnace, the heating boiler, the flooring system, the HRV, gas line systems, and the intake piping for sure!

Nothing like a little peace of mind for the winter...

  • Storage room loading for winter;
We have a concrete storage area underneath of our front porch deck. It's the perfect tornado shelter, and also the perfect storage area for seasonal items awaiting usage once more.

Both sons and I ensured it was cleared out, and all things summer were returned there to keep safe over our harsh winter weather. The patio furniture is now off the deck for good, bicycles, hockey nets, gardening supplies, and all else not required for winter are also there. It feels to good to have this task accomplished.

  • "John Deere" - seasonal equipment duties;
Our local John Deere dealer offers a service to those like us who live in the country. They have a mobile unit one can book ahead and find useful for coming right to our driveway and maintain our equipment at home.

Twice yearly they arrive as expected, and this time they tuned up our snowblower (we're ready for the white stuff now, believe me!), our lawn tractor and our push mower, all in the convenience of not having to get the equipment to them.

I just love this service and find the technicians so helpful. It simplifies our lives to allow them to come to us at the comfort of our own home, especially when I am already at home anyway.

~ Last but not least, we can shout it from the rooftops now;


Today, my muscles are actually sore from all the hubbub of activities the past while (oh, ah, ug - snickering at the thought of needing a human oil job on my leg joints and back), and I've resolved to take the day easy as the children too are feeling mildly pooped out alongside me.

We are deserving of a bit of a lull today before heading off to mass tonight to celebrate in the feast of All Saints Day.

Happy "All Saints" Feast Day everyone!

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he as called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance of the saints. "

~ Ephesians 1:18

My garden florals still offer such a lovely abundance of color.