Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sweet Memories

One of my earliest memories, one I've always held dear, is of my Grandma ... baking cookies for us.  I remember that she'd spend hours baking with us ... and then 'sell' her cookies to us.  We'd spend our money buying those cookies ... oh, so sweet.  She died when we were very little ... and when my mother went through her things, we discovered that every penny we had spent buying her cookies was put into savings accounts for each of us.  She was a special lady!

Christmas brings out the baker in me ... so when it's cold outside, and the snow flies, I think about baking ... and I think about her.  This year, I made one of her favorite treats ... good old fashioned Chinese Chews!

Chinese Chews - Figgy Goodness
 I had some fun arranging the cookies infront of our tree ... that's right, this year we put up our tree!  I'll post some pictures of the tree and all my favorite ornaments ... most of them hand-made.  But today is all about baking for Christmas.

My husband's favorite cookies are Texas Rangers ... just crammed full of oats, chocolate chips and rice krispys ... so I made up a batch ... I have not made them in a few years!

Texas Rangers and Hot Cocoa ... what a treat!
I love chocolate ... and I found a great cookie receipe on Veronica's Cornucopia for peppermint chocolate cookies ... I used mint chocolate, bittersweet, semisweet and milk chocolates ... and dark chocolate cocoa ... they are ooooh so good!  I love the little green flecks of mint peeking out from that dark chocolate cookie!

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies
And let's face it, peanut butter cookies are a classic!  I just had to bake up a batch.  I used all natural peanut butter and salted dry roasted peanuts ... they pack a great big peanutty punch ..... yum!

Giant Peanut Butter Cookies
And finally, again from Veronica's Cornucopia, these lemony-melt-in-your-mouth, pretty and bright lemon cookies ... just as advertised, they're like sunshine on a cold wintery day!
Lemon Krinkles
Actually, I did make up a few more batches ... both Steve and I took some to work, where they were set upon with frenzy ... and I've given a selection to Jean and Joe.  Still, I've got several dozens in my freezer!

Cookies for Christmas ... and sweet memories with Grandma ... I love this time of year (except for the cold, and the snow ... and the winter part)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First Snow

Well, it's happened ... it snowed ... and it stayed.  The only ones that seem happy about it are the dogs.  So here they are ...

Alf, Tuck and Syd ... early Saturday morning

Tucker ... again with the snow mask

Tucker's eyes are soooooo intense, wow!

3 Layouts ... squared

I've got three layouts to post today, and I've only just noticed that each one use square pictures or elements ... hmmmm.

So, the first one I actually finished 2 years ago ... for a friend at work after her first child was born.  To make the layout even more special ... I asked some friends ... including men, to stitch around a square (I'd already punched the holes).  Also, I made a small baby card that would attach to the layout as an embellishment with extra pages so that we could all sign it.  Well, it got away from me and I never did photograph it.  Since my friend is about ready to give birth to her second child ... a boy ... I asked her to return the layout so that I could make a layout for him too ... one that would compliment the first.  So here it is ...

Beautiful Jovana

Card detail
I did a lot of thinking this past summer ... and I spent time leafing through old photo albums, and I came across some pictures taken 20 years ago this summer.  The very first canoe camping trip in the wilderness for both Steve and myself.  We invited my brother and his wife (and their dog "Devil") to come with us .. they being experienced wilderness campers themselves. 

We headed into Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park in August 1992 and set up our camp on a site in the lake near the river.  Well, the remanents  of Hurricane Andrew swept north ... WIND and RAIN ... so we were shore-bound and under cover for most of the trip.  We all had a wonderful time ... I even tried to bake a pie, but I burned the crap out it!  The experience had a profound effect on Steve and I .. it was the start of our passion for the wilderness and all things wild!

at home in the wilderness
Using my digital camera, I took pictures of those pictures for the layout.  My brother's wife is a talented watercolour artist.  Every chance she could she sat out on a rocky penninsula with a view of our campsite (with Devil) and she painted our campsite ... that's her out there on the 4x6 picture.  That year she gave the piece to Steve and I for Christmas ... I was surprised and very happy to receive it ... and now I've got another layout in mind! 

And finally, 7 years ago my brother turned 45.  It was a hot, hot day and we spent the time outside having water fights etc.  I didn't get many pictures of him ... so this sketch worked well ... I only needed 3 pictures to pull it off.  I've used it before ... even just recently ...

Happy 45th Birthday
All layouts are based on sketches by Allison Davis, Scrapbook Generation.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Alfie and the Lizard

I have to admit, I had almost forgotten about the lizard ... but I laughed all over again when I saw the pictures today ... well ... I just have to post some.  Some of them anyhow.

Alfie and the lizard
I took these pictures in April, before the garden was in, so please forgive the mess of weeds and garbage ... you know how early spring can be, before the spring clean-up!

So, anyway ... I hid the lizard near the garden ... set up the camera, and then somehow missed it when Alfie saw the lizard.  He scratched at it with his paw, when it sprung-up and over the garden fence.  That scared the snot out of him ...

I'll get cha!
Sydney has no idea what he's all about ... she gave the lizard a quick sniff and decided it wasn't worth another ... but she's baffled by Alf!

He managed to get his teeth on it ... but he let go when it scrapped along a stick ...

Yikes ...
So, now the nasty lizard is even deeper in hiding ... but still visible ... (just look at Syd)


This is so funny ... he's not sure it's safe ... and even though he can easily jump the fence, he won't ... his back legs are still on the outside, suspended in the air!  Just in case he has to make a quick get-away!

Sneak Attack!
And then the retriever comes out ... he brings it back to us!

It's Oggie ... yuck
The lizard went into hiding again after this ... and he'll be back!

How did my garden grow Part 1

I've been told that I should post pictures of my garden ... I didn't post any this year, so I'm going to do it in little bits.  This is part 1.

Spring came early this year and I'd been looking through seed catalogs for weeks ... picking up seeds, soil and peat pots when I could.  I broke the rules ... I planted some seeds in March!  The weather was so warm ... I even put them outside for a week, and the seeds sprouted and thrived.  Here's a cucumber seedling.

I've had a plastic lizard for years ... I've always thought that it was funny .... I usually find a spot in the garden and hide it ... I love to watch people's reaction when they see it!  Anyway ... Alfie noticed it near the firepit.  Too funny!

What the *** is that!
And then he turned his head and barked furiously at it!  Ahhhh, this was just too funny.  We picked it up and hid it ... with devious plans for the future!  The lizard would return ... but when?

We spent as much time in our yard with the pups ... even turning on the hose to cool the pups ... this is what happiness looks like!

And at night, we gathered with friends around the fire pit to sip wine and watch the stars!  March of 2012 would be one for the record books ...

And then it was April .....

My tiny seedlings lined the ledges of my windows ... and grew long and spindlie, trailing all over the place.  But the weather was more seasonal, cool days and even cooler nights.  So, I planned my garden, and I bought more seeds ... and I worried over my neck.  And then I saw something on Pinterest.

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."  I really liked that ... I really needed to believe in tomorrow.

Steve with Tuck, Syd and Alfie (2012)
And as the soil warmed, we headed out to walk some trails.  First we headed north, to Algonquin.  On the second anniversary of Gem's death, we hiked the same trail that we hiked last with her ... just 5 days before we lost her ... Ragged Falls, located outside of Algonquin's west gate. I took this picture in almost the same spot as this picture of Steve with Ruff and Gem ... 2 years before.

Steve with Ruff and Gem (2010)

The sun was so bright and warm ... we sat with the pups near the top of the falls.

Wathcing the rapids, just above the falls.

Steve, Syd and Tuck ... What a view!
I love this picture of Sydney

And then we headed west, to Trillium Woods to admire the beautiful and rare trilliums that grow there each spring.

And then it was May ... I could hardly wait to get my hands into the soil.  With the help of our new friend Jean, the garden plot was soon weed-free ... not an easy task at all.  Over the next 2 weeks I worked in peat moss and sheep manure ... and dealt with the weeds as they grew back ... and back ... and back again!  To deal with the endless weeds, I rolled garden fabric over the garden and finally planted my sad sad seedlings, so long and fragile.  I ended up burying 95% of the stems of the tomatos and pepper plants, twisting the stems deep into the soil with just the tops above ground ... they were so straggly!  But once in the ground, they grew ... like ... weeds.  Soon I had tiny peppers, cucs and tomatos ... and lots of zuc flowers.

And more lettuce than we knew what to do with ...

Leaf Lettuce Patch

and Romaine
Our friend and neighbour Jean was busy too with her incredible garden ... and we started playing some silly games.  It started when Steve bought Henrietta ... a big rubber chicken for the dogs.  Well, she was way too heavy for them to play with, so we started "planting" her around Jean's yard ... only to find Henrietta hiding somewhere in our yard the next day ... and then she just disappeared.  We never missed her, and were very surprised when she showed up again ... in our garden plot, all dressed up like a scare crow.  Oh, what a great surprise, we laughed and laughed!  Henrietta became a permanent fixture in the garden!

Henrietta Hen Scare crow
And yet the days grew longer still, and warmer and my garden grew apace.  I worked happily every night when I got home weeding, watering, staking and prunning.  My peonies and honeysuckle bloomed, and Jean's wildflower garden bloomed in a dizzying splash of colour!

Giant peony


Table-top Flowers
Bachelors Button (Jean's Garden)
Poppy (Jean's again)
First Cucumber!

And then suddenly, there they were ... our Cedar Waxwings were back, sitting high in the trees.  I always hear them first, the soft whistles ... they come for the berries in the trees, they stay for the june bugs ... and then, by the end of the month they're gone. 

They're Back - Cedar Waxwings!
 And the robins fledged early too.  I snapped this picture through a window ... a baby robin bathing in the shadows under the tomato plants.

Splish-Splash ... takin' a bath.
And ... we spent almost every waking moment out in the yard with the dogs.  I love this picture of Alfie, he's such a clown.

Dance ... Like no one is watching!
The Boyz

Tucker in Jean's garden
Each year we plant some of our tomatos, peppers and herbs in containers near the back door, and as spring was winding down, a single cherry tomato ripened.  I had plans for that tomato ... including a full photo spread, but one morning as we headed out into the yard I watched helpless as Steve's arm snaked out, his fingers seized the precious fruit, a quick snap, and then ... it was gone.  Steve hummed his approval for the flavour ... the first tomato from the garden this year ... until his saw my face that is!  So to make it up to me, the next day another cherry tomato ripened and he announced that he had saved it for me.  What a guy!

Containers near the house - a single ripe tomato for me

Wait a minute!!!

More containers:  Rosemary, tyme and basil
 And then June was over ... July 1st brought spectacular fireworks to our backyard ... or rather, our neighbours backyard.  Happy Canada Day!

I like the idea of ending Part 1 here ... with a bang!  Part 2, coming soon!  I promise Danijela.