Sunday, October 25, 2009

This is what my ACD was born to do...

This is how my blind guy would be living his life had he not had his unfortunate accident which cost him his eyesight. The ACDs are an impressive breed and helps me to appreciate those certain qualities that are inherent in my boy.

See how they nip at the heels of the cattle? This is what my blind guy was doing to me when we first got him. He would also jump up very high and nip at the backs of my arms. We've had to work very hard with him on these behaviours so he's much better now, although he does tend to get a bit over-excited when we have outdoor play.

Suet Ball Instructions



You will need:


~ 1 med. size vine ball about a 5 in diameter.

~ 3 suet cakes (or make your own... less expensive and probably better)

~ Some extra seed, fruits, and/or oats

~ Peanut butter and/or Honey

~ Wired ribbon (Dollar Store)

~ Christmasy looking decorations (Dollar Store)

~ Twine

~ Glad Press N Seal plastic wrap



STEP ONE

Throw your suet cakes into a pot on a medium burner. Break them up and stir occasionally until everything is well melted.




STEP TWO

While the suet is melting, take your vine ball and find a spot on it that has a space big enough to fit a standard spoon. If you can't find one, break some vine pieces to make one. Wrap most of the vine ball up in Press n Seal wrap making sure you leave no holes except around the hole at the top.




STEP THREE

When your suet cakes are melted, add in some extra seed (black sunflower seed is best for the winter months), some oats, honey, peanut butter, fruit or whatever you have on hand and take it off the burner. In the pic below I added blueberries (about 1 c.), peanut butter (about 1/2 c), honey (a few squirts) and granola (about 1 c). You can't really screw up the amounts you put in, it will all be appreciated by the birds and will stick together well once the suet hardens again.



STEP FOUR

Once you notice the suet starting to harden up again (it gets kind of like a crumbly playdoh), put your vine ball in a bowl to hold it up right or just hold it in your hand . Start spooning in the suet and packing it in. Once it's done, put it in the freezer (still standing in the bowl) for about 10 minutes (don't leave it too long, you want it to still be a bit mushy for step 7)




STEP FIVE

While you wait for the suet to harden, get your decorations ready. I got the little do-dad in the pic below (on the right) at the dollar store. I undid the flower tape, separated all the individual stems and trimmed off any excess wire (what you see on the left). I also made a bow out of the wired ribbon. I just made 6 loops and one small one in the middle and stapled it.




STEP SIX

Take your ball out of the freezer and loop some twine through the vines. Make sure you go around thicker vines so that it will hold the weight, and then tie a knot.




STEP SEVEN

I secured the bow to the middle of the twine that was going across the hole of the vine ball (where you shoved the suet through) by, again, just stapling it into place. Now take your decoration do-dads and place them around the bottom of the bow by just sticking them right into the hardened suet. If your suet froze too hard, just leave it out at room temperature for awhile checking periodically. Unwrap and discard the plastic wrap, and Voila! Bird feeder that everyone will ohh and ahh over.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feed the Birds!

One of our favourite things about winter is feeding the birds and placing the feeders where we can watch them. Hubs modified a feeder by placing a shingled roof and mounting it to our front porch rails. Occasionally, we'll get special visitors like these beauties. It's such a treat!

Evening Grosbeaks. I was so fortunate to catch a shot of them as they are rather shy.

Pine Grosbeak. This makes me really, really want a better camera. My photography skills could use some help also. I suck at getting the right settings.

This year, I made my own suet. I'm fortunate to have a local butcher nearby that will give me as much fat as I want. It stinks up the house when you're rendering the fat but it's a worthy cause and the smells aren't permanent. This batch has dried apple, dried blueberry, chopped raisin, cornmeal, ground oats (from large flake oats), chopped peanuts, pumpkin seed and walnut. It was easy to make and I learned that the fat has to be melted a second time in order to set firmly. After slicing 2 inch thick pieces, I placed a couple in a suet cage and have them hung out amongst the trees in the back yard. I should add that there are many recipes to be found online.


While the fat was cooling, I occasionally stirred the mixture so that all the goodies would be evenly dispersed instead of just sinking to the bottom. At this stage, I just let it finish cooling. My stupid mistake was placing them in the freezer too long and then impatiently trying to slice them before they thawed out. Bad idea as they were too crumbly.

In a feeble effort to keep my posts from being too long, I will end here with a photo of the sweetest little suet feeder I found on a craft site.
I can't find the link but will try so I can give credit where credit is due. I copied the step-by-step directions so I could try my hand at making something like it. This was before I started blogging so I didn't think to bookmark the link, but these are too cute not to share so my next blog will have the instructions should anyone be interested.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Collector or Hoarder?



I've become an eclectic collector. I tend to be attracted to things that remind me of a gentler time, a time of wonder and innocence. My first antique pieces were a turn of the century love seat and chair, a mirror, a small table that I use as my TV stand and a vanity that I can't quite bring myself to refinish. I've had those pieces for over 30 years now which shocks me because I was quite the transient for several of those years but I somehow managed to drag them all over the country (and Canada is a big country!) I really started collecting vintage things about 15 or so years ago. It started with salt and pepper shakers, then it was lighting, then tablecloths and jewellery and lots of other odds and ends. I never buy pieces for their worth, I'm thrifty and LOVE a bargain. Recently hubs told me I was like one of those hoarders (you know, the kind who need professional help) and suggested that I don't clutter up the place too much. He's right and I must curb my urge to keep adding to my collections of things. Of course that doesn't mean I'll ever pass up something that is just too good to pass up. What is does mean is that I'll just not go in search of that special something as much as I'd like to. Fair enough, me thinks.

A few of my shaker collection. The single duck was a gift... he's quite old. So were the Indian shakers with wooden bodies a gift to me. They look to be quite old as well but there are no marks to indicate the maker. The headdress of the 'man' says 'Winnipeg, Manitoba' and he's marked at the top of the wooden part "S". Funny, I thought he'd be pepper and she'd be salt.

That milk glass jug in the back was only 50 cents! Now if only I could find the lid for it. One with a handle and pour spout would make for a great juice or milk jug.


I purchased this set of four cannisters in Vancouver. The fifth cannister was given to me by my sister-in-law. I'm not sure if she ever took note of them in detail. She just knew I would like it.

I love this old bakelite radio. It's a portable but the batteries for it are next to impossible to find. I had thoughts of getting hubs to make it electric but not sure if that's even do-able. It was a steal. A trendy jeans store was selling off several of their props and I was in the right place at the right time.

Little LuLu Belle butterdish back there was diligently hunted down and when I saw her, I had to have her. The price tag didn't impress me much but I was determined to take her home with me. I think she cost $35 or thereabouts but she was a rare find and purchased in a very popular antique mall in Vancouver. So it goes...

I'm in LOVE with my salt & pepper bird shakers. The ones in front aren't Lefton but still very adorable. After looking online for Lefton bluebird shakers, I think my $3 flea market purchase was a good one indeed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Home Reno Updates & Touches of Fall


Hubs built a shed. And it's a fine shed. Our old shed, well, it's just falling apart, it's half torn down and we fear it won't make it through another winter. So despite mind-numbing pain that never goes away, hubs got busy and did what he had to do. Our budget doesn't allow us the luxury of paying others what we can do ourselves (I personally feel hubs does a better job anyway). As hubs puts it, he's in pain whether sitting still or moving around and it's got to be done. So it was and even though it's intended for practical use, it really has some cute country curb appeal. There are still some finishing touches to be added and I hope they actually get done in... oh, let's say the next year. In fairness, pressure treated lumber should be out in the elements for a year before being painted. We want to put a loft in and maybe insulate but that's not important for this year.



Our screened 'house' is still waiting for paint on the 'window' frames even though they've been a good year in the elements. OK... not really windows but heavy vinyl coverings so that we can still enjoy our lovely space and view in most any season. On cool sunny days it can be a comfy 20ยบ C in there so it's very pleasant inside. Even though there's still some painting left to do (the shed took priority) and we're still not sure what to do about the floor, I love that little getaway space. I'm fine with the unfinished floor since it's prone to all sorts of abuse with muddy boots and doggie paws/claws. Overall, the most important thing is that our outdoor structures are built solid and made to last. With a perfectionist hubs, I tend to feel those structures are built like Fort Knox so little unfinished detail work is no biggie. Those chairs are on their way out. Some cedar adirondack chairs are on my wish list. Hubs can build them. (note to self: add chairs to hub's honeydo list)


The swing behind the screened room (house) overlooks the river. Fall is the best time to sit and enjoy the going-ons with the return of Canada geese, osprey, bald eagles and other birds, but I keep the cushioned seats stored away from elements and don't always feel like dragging them out to sit for a spell. Then, I kick my self for not taking more time to enjoy the view before winter comes. Pooey on me.




This is Mikey waiting for his 'papa' to come home.

Sweetest Boy! Such a gentle lovable dog, our little guy.

My sad attempt at a fall wreath. I ran out of patience.

I never thought I'd like potted Moms but the right colour and a healthy plant is alright with me. This one bloomed late so the flowers never got as full as the other one on the porch. It's still very pretty.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Limping Along...

I'm so seriously trying to maintain an 'attitude of gratitude'. I'd be getting a failing grade at present, me fears.

I have this little (unbeknownst to me up till most recently) issue with an under-active thyroid. hmmm... not a big deal I'm told and on a positive note I have really, really good cholesterol... my doctor kept stressing the words REALLY GOOD... so the bad stuff which would have concerned him was otherwise not a concern. Thankful!

I (we... me and hubs) are debt free, mortgage free! Like - HELLO! Really thankful!

I work... part-time from home and another little job as a caregiver to a couple school-age kids. All timing of 'things' worked together for good... for me.... so far. Hubs was forced into early retirement... so monthly pension but not exactly great compensation for what he's been through... long story but we're thankful. VERY thankful!

Another pending job on the shelf... fingers crossed cause this would be the BEST thing for me and I have the skills to fulfill this job and from home (oh joy!)... hopefully overwhelmingly thankful!

The limp in my gait comes from an existing, very debilitating 'job' that I've been enduring due to my complicated work/living situation. No details to explain regarding my 'job'...it's so old and so worn and so negative that I'll not get into the nitty-gritty. I'm undervalued, under appreciated and under paid not to mention over-qualified. I endure a huge amount of verbal, manipulative abuse, so much so that it's almost comical, yet I fail at not allowing the 'offender' to have the last word. This is my failing... my downfall. I am at a loss and horribly guilty of losing at the fine art of 'shut up'.

I am making a public vow (even if only ONE person reads this) to NOT respond to the snarky, snide and negative comments that come from nowhere and end up in some crazy, uncontrolled kind of pissing match that hits me like a 'bitch-slap'. I'm really at wit's end because my most sincere attempts to smooth over the misconceptions have been met with hostility and all done via gmail. ....sigh. I'm so done.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stinky Boy

Don't let that innocent face fool you. He may be blind but he sure knows his nose!

Ah.... Friday night and thinking I'd go to bed early but Colby blind guy has to be let out for pee time. Normally, this is a pretty routine event but not this night. A skunk had meandered through the yard and right away blind guy picks up on the scent, taking off like a lightening bolt. He's now having to wear a red, strobe-flashing ball on his collar due to a couple recent events of running off into the darkness and then coming home via the route we live along (80 km posted speeds!).

So, I'm out there with ugly old crocks on my feet, not planning on running through the wet grass with flashlight in hand, yelling and hoping I don't step in dog crap as I chase a barking strobe light. Suddenly the blind guy does an abrupt about-face and the strobe is... what is it doing... it has new batteries. Why is Colby rolling on the ground and what is that smell? NOOOOOOO!!!! He's been skunked. Again.

Sigh. This time, he's taken into the garage and left for a bit while I try to figure out what to do. His last outdoor, late-night bath resulted in disaster when he ran off. Poor guy. A quick internet search led me to a solution of peroxide, baking soda and dish soap but I didn't have enough of the first two ingredients. No matter. He just got sprayed around one ear and I'm desparate. So I cleaned that area with the strange solution, wiped it all off with wet rags and brought him in the house. It worked! Not 100% but good enough for all of us to get some peaceful zzzzz's. Except for my little meow-meow, CeCe. She was traumatized by all the commotion and hid on a shelf of the computer desk behind my keyboard. I had to pry her out and take her upstairs to comfort her (for about a half hour). So much for an early night.



As for Colby's late night pee time these days, he's getting leashed. Not that that means anything to him since he knows how to get free from it in seconds flat... if he must. So far, so good but it's only been three days!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Daughter of Eve

I came across this poem some months back in an online 'book of poems' and it touched me. I related to it at some level and thought of others I know that would either relate likewise or know someone who might connect to the message it conveys. I don't live in the past and I don't live with regrets but I do long to embrace those days of innocence when my world was right and I was safe and protected. I still believe (by faith) that I am safely kept and protected but I lost something along the way.... something I can't get back and learned some things I would rather not know about. And so I share this (and to think it was written in the 1800's!) I do hope it's legible... if not, I will type it out. (oh yes! I clicked on the image and it's nice and legible.)




Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall has arrived!

I'm not ready for fall. Summer had a late arrival so I was really hoping for an extended warm spell that would take us part way into October. However, fall here is breathtakingly beautiful and if my hubs is able to rest his severely sprained ankle long enough for it to mend quicker (I'm not holding my breath on that one, as he's not one to sit still unless it's raining), then we'll be taking some nice walks with the boys on one of many quiet country roads we can choose amongst.

Since that may not happen, I'd like to share some fall beauty from a couple years ago when I was awestruck by the many colours of an Eastern Autumn. Out on the West Coast, the common colours of fall are green and yellow with the occasional splash of red... just enough to tease and remind me of what I knew of fall beauty from my childhood.

Enjoy!

I apologize for the poor quality images... I could go and edit them all in photoshop but other things take priority. Please click on the images to see them up close. At least you'll see more detail, however flat or fuzzy the images may be. I really want a better digital camera but I'm holding out for a 'too good to be true' deal.

This is the view from the back field behind our home. The photo doesn't really do it justice.

Tomato harvest. Tomatoes ripening everywhere I can find room.

Now, if I could pick up our house and relocate it (like, with the snap of my fingers) I would put it smack-dab in the middle of this opening.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reality Stress..

Oh... my eyes hurt from strain. Strain from what? I can only conclude it's stress related. My bad news from blood work reveals a 'hypothyroid' but I have no symptoms. Or do I? Now, I question everything in relation to some stress issues regarding work, aging and other more personal things. Were these things contributing factors? Will I ever know? At the end of it... I'm having to take a pill everyday for the rest of my life. Perhaps I'll find out that I feel better and didn't even realize I was having symptoms till after the fact. That would be a bonus. I could use that.. a bonus.

I'm still very thankful for every good thing in my life. My blessings far outweigh my trials. Trials are like bad odours that take over the perfumed scents of life's beauty. Ever notice how that works?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Milk & Wine.... and Tomatoes


Milk & Wine Lillies, that is. Hubs came home the other day with some gorgeous flowers in hand. One of our neighbours used to own a florist shop and grew them to sell at his shop (for a tidy price of about $8 per stem, I'm told). A google search tells me they're called Milk & Wine Lillies (maybe). He's recently retired and has a nice bounty of these fragrant gems so when hubs was stopping by to say hello, our kind neighbour hand him these beauties.

See all those wonderful tomatoes in the background of the second shot? I'm a tomato junky and they are a MUST in our garden. This year, hubs planted several yellow pear tomatoes from seed. We normally buy plants but hubs is keen to learn as much about successful gardening from seed and only one way to do that... just do it. If it fails, try again. We had such a poor start to summer, too much rain and certain our tomato crop would flop. Not quite. Initiallly, the plants grew like they were on steroids (we're strictly organic) but no flowers on the plants. Then came rains and hurricanes along with some flowers but the leaves started to wilt and turn to brown shriveled clumps. Amazingly, we got tomatoes, lots of them. One patch in the garden didn't get staked so the tomatoes grew along the ground and didn't seem to mind one bit. Our beefsteak tomatoes didn't thrive but our pear tomatoes, paste tomatoes and lemon boys did pretty good. My freezer will house our bounty and we'll enjoy some spicy spaghetti sauce during the upcoming cold months.

When hubs makes an awesome meal that looks great on the plate, I run for my camera. This was SO delicious, I just had to take a picture of it so I can run across it and remind hubs to make it again. The beef ribs are from the local butcher and their meat is growth hormone and antibiotic free.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Summer's Perfect Ending

Normally I get a bit overwhelmed when my hubs family members come to visit from the 'city'. I'm never organized; I can't function in that state, nor do I want to. I just want to play and chat and laugh, but yesterday they came (even gave a day's notice!) and I was prepared, organized and determined to relax and enjoy the day.

We were six adults in all. I pondered over the eating arrangements which were to be in our screened 'house' that I'm not supposed to call a 'room'. I moved the 'lounging' chairs to the lawn, added a couple more, and dragged the bench swing over to create a nice little gathering spot. The location allowed for full sun, dappled shade or full shade and with the winds being on the warm side, this made for a perfect spot to hang out.

Inside, I put two tables together and dragged out of storage some additional patio chairs. Twas perfect! Everyone was relaxed, with no place to rush off to. The menu was simple enough that we didn't have to labour in the kitchen - a big mess of pork back ribs were pre-cooked and ready to be finished off on the BBQ, steaks which take little prep time, cooked lobster (tons of it) purchased locally, tomatoes in garlic, mint, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and hubs whipped up an awesome caesar salad. What an awesome feast we had!




Afterwards, we moved our chairs to the 'fire pit' and continued to enjoy what was left of the day. There was absolutely no stress on me as I watched my sink fill with mountain of dishes. I had everything rinsed and ready for doing in the morning, all food put away and that was enough. It was such a perfect day.


Every so often throughout the day, I took stock of my surroundings and was satisfied with where we've landed. It's the very thing many city folk long to have but the good paying jobs aren't in the country so necessity/debt keeps them bound. Of course, some folk love city life... been there, done that. But after years of planning, we own what we have and I rather like it.

Sometimes, I put too much focus on the many things that need doing and fixing, the challenge of living on much less than we were so accustomed to and, this is pure silliness... thoughts ending up old, alone and surviving on a diet of cat/dog food. (yes... this has been a secret fear that I'm exposing and uprooting, lol) When the rubber meets the road, I'd much rather have good company, comfortable surroundings, a messy kitchen and a rather daunting to-do list and to heck with worry or stress. Do these things enrich one's life? I think not.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm a dufus, goof ball and my Mama loves me...


I got skunked! At first, I was so excited and drawn to this 'scent'. It didn't help that my Papa let me loose to investigate whatever it was that Mikey was 'niffin.... his nickname being Niffer (short for Sniffer) and what with MY nose being somewhat superior to his. I didn't know what would happen, how could I be to blame? All I know is my senses were sent reeling with an incredible blow dealt by a little stinky animal. Who knew?

The commotion to follow was too much for me. They thought it was Mikey that got skunked and I just had to wipe my face on my couch. That didn't help much so, in my agitated state, I ran upstairs...my owners were too 'yellie' trying to figure out what was going on, so I sought relief on my Mommy's bed. She got me out of there though, outside where Papa washed my face. I was so upset I ran away and I could hear my Mommy calling my name and whistling really loud. My Papa was on his scooter, I could hear him but I was scared and the smell bothered me so much. My Mommy was crying and so I came home to comfort her. Her and Papa were so happy to see me and they kissed me, especially Mommy, even though I smelled really bad.

After a couple days, Mommy seemed really happy about something and then some men in a big truck brought new doggie beds to our house that smell new. They call those beds a couch and chair... but they're much nicer than that old stinky stuff and fluffier too. I'm a happy camper cause they let me go on the new 'doggie beds' sometimes and the stinky stuff on my nose ain't so bad now except if I get wet from swimming in river or running in the wet grass smellin' the good things in there. I like things my Mama finds disgusting.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Look Ma... No Bruises!

Having a strong, high energy blind dog means enduring pain. He gives me his paw with great enthusiasm and, having no depth perception, frequently misses the mark. He might scrape those strong doggies nails (black and really hard to trim) down my leg/thigh, inner arm, stomach, etc. etc. and I'm frequently heard saying, "ouch... that's a bruise."

He's sweet and he tries so hard. I'm actually bruise free at the moment and that's great for the heat wave we're having cause I can actually wear short sleeves and shorts without looking speckled.

Life's good.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I'm a little teapot...


I just adore this little teapot that was hiding in my favorite little antique shop by the ocean. I had to have it. This is the second one that I have purchased from that lovely place... another collection in the works? Heavens!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Summer... a time for

I love summer and those 'lazy, hazy, crazy days' but they seem to have escaped me this year. I've fallen behind on so many things and feel that if I were to do all that needs doing on a daily basis, I would never stop. So, I get some things done but mostly I go in circles, feeling overwhelmed and when that happens, I retreat to my computer and get lost surfing wonderful blogs and such.

I have accomplished a few things, though and our screened 'house' is shaping up quite nicely. I'm in the habit of calling it the screened room but it's a separate structure and 'room' implies that it's part of the main house. Hubby is very sensitive to this so I comply. I think I should come up with a name for this structure... have been asked but my only response is a shrug of the shoulders. I got the bench seat completed, a task that was harder than I thought... measure twice, cut once rule had to be strictly enforced. I had just enough fabric to work with.




New seat covers for these chairs...next year's project or maybe a winter project. These look nice with the chairs but don't suit the other colours and they're getting rather worn now, especially since our gentle dog, Mike likes to curl up in them.

I did manage to do some jams and jellies! Our 1 yr old red currant bush gave us two small jars of jelly. I'm quite thrilled and it's incredibly good. I also managed some wild sour cherry jelly and a nice batch of wild blueberry freezer jam. Hubby took me to a private stash of blueberries that nobody around here seems to be aware of so we're keeping it our little secret. It was discovered when hubby was out in the back field with the dogs and came across a beautiful (and huge) wasp's nest. They didn't seem bothered by our presence so we weren't concerned.

Right beside where we were picking the berries is a huge field of soy bean (edamame - yummmm). Potatoes would be typically grown in these parts and this field has been dormant for as long as we've lived here. I guess soy is a good cash crop and it will add nitrates to the soil. Funny thing, we decided to try and grow our own this year because we've been missing this tasty treat. Temptations abound... I wonder if they'd missing a few or more beans. hmmmm.. Well, we DO have our own and no chemicals. I can certainly live with that.