Monday, April 29, 2013

Ten Things I'm Thankful For ~ a spring rose edition

Yep...I'm definitely awaiting the spring's roses yet to come... Aren't you?

Here are my "Ten Things I'm Thankful For"....

When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
and you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
just remember, in the winter,
far beneath the bitter snow,
lies the seed that with the sun's love
in the spring becomes the rose.

(The Rose, sung by Bette Midler)

Well, in the last blog post I did warn all about our strange weather patterns looming before us, and indeed the snow did visit to cover the earth once more, with its (once again) wintry white snowy blanket.

The air grew very damp, and a tornado bounced off a farm an hour away from us. The odd weather offered us more bitter cold for a 48 hour period, and then all began to thaw and warm up again. 

I'm happy to report we have only a little rain today, and the weather forecast to come for the rest of the week, is sun, sun, and more sun! The temperatures will rise, and with a steady increase of 20C+ of thermometer reading blissness, we will - at last, feel the effects of spring in our midst.

- 1 - I'm thankful for the gifts of spring. My husband gifted me with these lovely tulips yesterday. He too, felt the sun rounding the bend ahead.  

I'm happy to report our trees are filling up with tiny buds, a sure sign that we still require patience for spring to finally begin blasting in with full force. 

I am filled with great anticipation for a visible change of season to remain for more than a day, and having experienced one very beautiful day already as a teaser this past weekend, enabling doors open wide, and being able to sit for a bit and soak up the sun's rays while quietly listening to the multitudes of returning birdies, well now, that was so very wonderful.

- 2 - I'm thankful for the many blessings intentionally sought after day to day. Our world and personal circumstances still prove that there is so much to pray for, and still so much to be ever-thankful for. Always. 

There are important family dates filling up our calendar, ones we will highlight in bright yellowy hues, glowing radiant like the sun to provide some blessed excitement ahead. 

On May 19th, our future son-in-law will be baptized and receive his First Holy Communion. We will celebrate his and our daughter's wedding this August, and in both September and November, two more grandbabies (Yes now 2!) will make their welcomed entrances into our family. Other extended family events are dotted in between these ones, milestones for some and delights for others. So blessed!

- 3 - I'm thankful for the heart of our home - our kitchen! With Lent now behind us, and the Easter season in our midst, sporadic and impulsive baking moments are present in our kitchen. 

The goodies are becoming a habit, and I hate to spill the beans to one daughter that our traditional "Lenten Pie Sundays" are now over. Two pies this weekend, and happy faces resulting from serving those were quite funny. 

- 4 - I'm thankful that our schooling is rounding the bend, and the light at the end of the tunnel ahead is now (finally) beginning to brightly glow. 

At this time of year, there is a tattling with our teens showing definite preferrences for some subjects over others. The dawdling becomes quite remarkable when a least favorite subject is presented for the week's "catch-up" scheduling mode. Oh, but we all know, those essays, and assignments that they really aren't a fan of will still be there come Monday. Right? 

Seize the day children, for this part of schooling too shall pass...and then there will be many more challenges and learning opportunities ahead throughout your entire life. Real life-schooling never ends! Know that. :)

- 5 - I'm thankful for this old solid oak  "Wilson" piano, the one that is daily adorned with sheet music, or a favorite piano book. It's the one that fingers pass across the ebony keys, offering joyful song and rhythmic tunes enough to fill our home with the sounds of music

Thank you to our children who still love to play, we love to listen to your efforts, and thank you mom and dad for having it surprisingly dropped off that one day, now so long ago. This is the piano all of my siblings played tunes upon, the one we had in our home growing up.  

All eight of our children have been privy to piano lessons, in the hope that they would learn to especially, and simply love fine music down the road. It is my fondest hope that they all still appreciate having had the opportunity of being introduced to, and playing on this timeless musical instrument. Maybe they won't continue to play in the future, but it will remain here whenever they wish to sit and run the keys again in the future.

- 6 - I'm thankful for the opportunity and pleasure of having guests in our home at Easter, for the very first time since our move to Ontario almost seven years ago now. 

My sister and our friend spent many hours driving here from Cape Cod, arriving late on Good Friday, and not leaving until Easter Monday morning. It was very special to have them here with us, one of those really thankful things in life to have additional family around on a special weekend. Love to you sister!

A highlight was the men's pool table games, so neat to see them enjoy circling around it and having a great time. Our friend used to own his own billiard hall many, many years ago and really enjoyed revisiting that special former hobby of his.

- 7 - I'm thankful for the formal change of winter to spring sports. Our son is playing ball hockey again this year. He's made a move to a new venue, with the biggest change being that this particular new-to-him league is outdoors, snow or shine. 

He was over the moon crazy-happy to be able to grab his favorite number 10 again, one that he's had for most of his ice/ball hockey seasons thus far. 

Though these photos have the sun shining, it was freezing cold out there, hovering around a mere 3C degrees! So cold, the sun didn't even warm a body up, so these boys were wearing layers to keep warm, and working it out there to keep pumping up their circulation.

Team win of 6-1 was a hearty bonus for all the kids on his team, but all were happy to run for warmth as soon as they exited their arenas. 

I'd like to mention the incredible professional flooring they are able to play on, a formal floor used in roller hockey games, so there is a cushioning for joints moving about throughout the season, as opposed to playing in an indoor arena's concrete flooring. Bonus!

- 8 - I'm thankful for attempts at resolving issues with short cuts to cleaning hardwood floors. This "shark steamer" allowed me to make an unexpected happy dance when locating it locally and finding it on sale for almost half the price. Ohhhh, was I ever thankful when the cashier surprised me with that good news, as it was the night before the actual mark down event and she offered it to me early. Yay!

With the recent purchase of this steam cleaner, I worked and worked at cleaning for some additional super shine on our abundance of flooring in this house. My verdict? Perhaps the sales pitch is hailed by many to be fantastic, yes it did clean well, and I'm still thankful for having it, but honestly, I think I'm needing a commercial unit instead to perform for us here. 
Though the manufacturer claims it will disinfect at the same time as cleaning, even at its lowest steam setting, I found it left a rather dull streaked flooring as a result of all that abundance of cleaning. I still really like it though, specially on my tile flooring in the hallways, doorways and bathrooms, but one thing was sure - performing the task with such a large amount of flooring required several breaks when the motor obviously became too hot to continue. (Your thoughts, if you own one are most welcomed.)

- 9 - I'm thankful for this white frothy cuppa sweetness! I gave up these and other things for lent, and boy oh boy was I ever thankful for this special and unexpected serving placed before me! Yum! Yum! 

It's a ceremonial thing for me, not to be indulged in too often, but slowly savored when present. Bliss! 

- 10 - I'm thankful for daily cell phone reminders when viewing my newest photo placed on my cell phone's home screen. This was a photo I snapped a while back through my window, one that I love to check out daily that is graced with this window decal, which has become so special to me.
It makes me smile, when every single day my cell phone offers a little reminder not only to see the sunshine in my days, but to also fill my heart with gratitude for the many, many blessings given unto me. 

As this week's Sunday epistle bible reading details;

" Dearly beloved, Every best gift, and every perfect gift is from above: coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration...."
~ 1 James 1:17

 And once again, ten - only ten out of hundreds of thankful things are offered for just a minor glimpse at some of my simple things in life ~ from me to you.

Grab a pen, grab something to jot down your favorite and thankful things today. Count your blessings and know they really do come down from the Father of lights.

Have a great week everyone! 

"People from a planet without flowers would think 
we must be mad with joy the whole time 
to have such things about us."

~Iris Murdoch

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The winter that would never end!

     “It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.” 
~ John Forsythe

      Today as I type this post, I am once again quietly plagued, with yet another slowly developing sinus infection. Only on one side of course, the side I sleep on. Drats! 

This winter may never end, at least that's what most folks around these parts are thinking.

Currently, there is a thunder storm brewing outside, complete with visiting monsoon rains and rather large balls of hail.

Just two days ago, all of the accumulated winter snowfall on the ground finally thawed. Well almost. 

As today's weather forecast heads into the 25C range, the report for Saturday isn't wrong, but feels like it should be, with snow arriving again and temperatures spiraling back down to 1C. 

This has been the longest winter I've ever experienced in my whole life, not a bad thing, just l-o-n-g! 

Though, I am a snow-loving woman, I'm not totally sorry to see the snow disappear to expose the dead looking bush and bramble on our back property, for I have been enjoying observations of returning robins attempting to dig through the snow to the solid core beneath in search of nourishment. 


Oddly enough, even in extreme weather conditions, life in nature rotates with the seasons.

While local coyotes howl on the warmer spring nights, the horses must be fetched from recently thawed outdoor paddocks, with their softened (temporary) mud caked hooves. Much to everyone's dismay at the barn, this creamy muck adds great effort to their tacking up details, specifically having to ensure a proper cleaning, brushing and scrubbing of horse's feet, legs and tails, before any riding pleasures can commence. 

It's definitely been an odd year to say the least. 

This week, while the snow was "still" thawed, I threw in the towel and had my husband and daughter remove the spigets and sap-filled buckets hanging from our trees. 

I'm done with the boiling and stove top monitoring duties. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get outdoors, in a much different way. 

We have but a month on our open window timeline, at best, until the thick of bug season begins anew again, so enough of winter, let us begin clearing up our forest floor, and pathways out back before we turn into half eaten insect-pricked-pin-cushions

The broken branches now exposed since winter's frozen thaw, and those additional ones from last week's severe ice storm dearly require our attention. Many hands do make work light..

The incredible amounts of road salt and sand brought home this year from our vehicle's winter tires, has our garage and driveway begging for a good pressure washing. 

Our work efforts on our doorways' indoor carpets will have a slight reprieve, from the daily, sometimes twice daily vacuum sessions necessary these past weeks, from sand also entering on the bottom of our footwear. I've never seen so much of the stuff! Honestly!

All is well though with the changing of yet another season. After enjoying the winter sun's daily teasing, the freezing nights and continued snowy days seems to offer another story. Some want to ask about the obvious; "Are you really sure spring has sprung?"

Another sudden round of colds and flus has hit the entire area it seems, a concern as they always tend to be in our home.  

For me, cold or warm, I have a growing and grand desire to continue focusing on obtaining more fresh air, even if just having doors open wide (brrrrr) for a time. I'm wanting to begin placing outdoor furniture back on the decks (now that the snow left this week), and hoping to very soon take my daily cup of tea out on the back steps (think COLD butt!)

I'm dreaming of the simplest of pleasures to begin again, just the ability to enjoy witnessing springtime buds aplenty, hearing the singsong of birds while nesting, and hoping to spot returning familiar little critters in our forest and meadow out yonder.  

Since spring has sprung, or is arriving so late here, there are yet so many things to look forward to observing, and enjoying ahead. And with spring, all things new and beautiful await our wintery weathered souls. Everything will begin feeling clean and fresh again, time will slow down just a little with the longer days allowing for respites before bed because the sun still shines, and everyone will once more begin migrating out of doors just because...

In light of all the good and evil happening in our world this past month, there is a pressing need to keep up the faith, for there is so much lately to ponder, much to continue offering prayer for, and still - so much to be thankful for. 

There is comfort and joy, and then very quickly, there is indescribable sadness that often lacks understanding.

Life is indeed very fragile... Everyday is an absolute gift... please remember to live it well my friends.

“Life is fragile and temporary. 
 The faces of today quickly become the faces of the past. 
 Sorrow, pain, and anger... it all fades- except love.  
Love is forever and there after, even when we've fallen to our graves.” 

~ Lee Argus

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our maple syrup efforts...

Maple sugaring is;
It's a  hobby with a mandatory time and effort commitment attached, a whole specific and precise process tagged to it to be sure...

Daily checks to empty all the sap buckets continue.

On any given day, as soon as one bucket is emptied and returned to the spiget's hook, one can hear the dripping chorus repeating itself again. 

Drip, drip, drip...

Just as soon as we have boiled and evaporated up all of our collected reserves, it seems it's once again time to repeat all over again. 


Observing the clear sap over several hours, finds everyone getting excited once we (finally) begin to notice a color change. An amber brown color quickly becomes a favorite around here. Now for it to begin to darken even more, and thicken up.

When it's all ready to strain, I've been placing the remaining boiled down maple syrup contents into this glass pitcher. 

With my syrup jars all hot and ready for the big pour, lids are sealed and another batch is complete. And then, after upwards of six to eight hours of boiling and adding, boiling and adding, a few (no names here of course) begin muttering the question of; "Why are we doing this again?" much work for so little syrup. No wonder it's nicknamed "black gold". Now, I know why. 

Will we do it again next year? Ask me later, but likely the answer would be "yes"...

Meanwhile, we have a winter storm warning over a period of the next two days, just when all the snow has finally been disappearing. Collecting sap, it would seem, will continue instead of cease. 

No matter, it'll melt, but for  now, more syrup to come for us.

A little bit of foodie fun...

Serving crunchy, green salads has become a custom around here, and one often finds some sort of addition of chopped fruit, assorted nuts (this one has chopped up dry roasted almonds), asiago or some sort of shredded cheese, and lots of goodness for every body. 

I am not a dressing person, never really have been. But, with company coming to join us for Easter, well that was a cause for more celebration by complimenting all of our various salads with "Renee's" salad dressings. 
Favorites are;
Pear and blue cheese, Asian, and Italian herb. 

Many years ago I could not for the life of me find one thing bearing my own unique name. Now, it's everywhere, even in my grocery aisle. 

Loving it

Saturday, April 06, 2013

OUR new horse!

All of the boarders and their horses have now gone. They've left for other pastures, and the fields are beginning to be tilled and tended to by the new owners. 

As for the barn happenings, there are only nine horses out of thirty remaining, two of whom are still for sale.

A surprise happened last month. Yes, a HUGE surprise. I'm sure you know what I'm about to announce, the title of this post an obvious leak to the news.


WE, my husband and I, are now owners of a horse of our own! Long story short, with all of the barn horses now mostly sold, and if our daughter wants to remain as a rider over summer there, or show at all this upcoming show season, the horse she had bonded to for it all to happen (Aussie), became available for sale. 

Actually, he belonged to the coach's daughter. While expecting her first baby and birthing her last December, our daughter was offered to train and bond with this horse for the show season. What a HUGE surprise to us when she decided to sell!

As each of the owner's other horses at the barn were sold, many of them meant for a more beginner rider anyway, once the news this particular horse's upcoming sale was announced, there was only one rider to offer it to who would/could be a perfect match, before placing an actual advertisement in the online horse sale section. 

Guess who that was?  

With a whole lot of discussion, promises aplenty, and a great big wince, we decided to bite the bullet and purchase the horse.

Yes, our girls are like cowboys. 
They have spurs on their winter riding boots.

Buyers remorse has rolled through my mind at least a dozen times ever since we committed to the sale, but now here we are still pinching ourselves, the new owners of a horse!  

Let's hope for many ribbons this summer, to increase the value of this horse. (winking)

 The white marking on Aussie's forelock resembles 
the outline map of Australia, thus the name "Aussie". 

Since our older daughter also owns her own horse, one she purchased recently this past December, it's quite handy for both of our girls to buddy up when making their daily visits down the road to the barn, to tend to, and ride their horses freely as they choose. 

For the most part, yes, I'm babysitting while they are present at the barn, but their dedication and camaraderie so far is working out quite well.

So far, so good. And what an opportunity!

A few warmer days have allowed me to attend and observe where they are advancing in their abilities, grandbaby along with me

At least the horses are friendly and seem to love having a baby squealing with glee and watching their every movement. 

And, Aussie is such a great sport too! He was all dressed up for a costume show last fall. I'm afraid this photo below was the only one I was able to snap from such a distance that turned out. I'm sure you get the picture though. His tolerance level is very high for things like this. :)

Here's to Aussie, the thoroughbred horse we now own! And here's hoping for a fantastic upcoming show season for both of our girls. Oh, and a wedding too for one of them... Whew!