Monthly Archives: June 2011

Biophilia

 

I have discovered my latest condition.  No that I have a lot of conditions but I definitely have biophilia – the human desire to spend time outdoors among plants and trees. Doing so can reduce stress, lengthen your attention span and possibly help you live longer. This was quoted in Womens Health magazine, so we can assume it is valid. I don’t know about the rest of you, but these days I am in serious need of something to lengthen my attention span and sharpen my focus. And I am fortunate to live and work in a place where I can be outside lots.  I hope everyone else who suffers from this condition also has some opportunities, particularly now that summer is here. Have a good one.

P.S.  Still working on blog layout.

– Kelly

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Wildflowers

Trying to update

This is Checkers, the wonder horse.

Just so you know, over the course of this wet weekend we are working on updating our blog layout. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. So don’t be alarmed that your computer has a virus and is about to
crash.  Happy weekend.

-Kelly

Life’s Simple Pleasures

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 There are many books and websites encouraging one to take a positive approach to life. Author, Neil Pasricha, did not intend to take on a positive philosophy project. He was simply at a bumpier spot in life and thought it might be helpful to start looking at some of the simple things that made him feel good. That was the beginning of his blog, 1000awesomethings.com. Many joined in commenting on awesome things in their life. Then he had requests to do a book, The Book of Awesome, a best seller. And he has recently completed,  The Book of (Even More) Awesome.  As he says, “I am just an ordinary guy, writing about life’s simple pleasures.”

  • Finding money you didn’t know you lost.
  • Sleeping in new bed sheets.
  • When cashiers open up new check out lanes at the grocery store.
  • Perfect parallel parking on the first try

    Riding out pairs

 

And some of my own – the smell of  clothes dried on the clothesline; discovering someone else has cleaned up the kitchen and done dishes; grass growing; wildflowers; my kids playing their sports; Fresca; hanging out at the library; exploring greenhouses. . . .  the list could go on. But I think the whole point of 1000 Awesome Things is taking a few minutes to think of some of the things that bring you pleasure, no matter how small. What are some of your Awesome Things?

– Kelly

Pass the sugar

 

 

 

In an effort to try and eat better food but still have some treats, I have been buying frozen yogurt or sometimes sherbet. I was under the impression that sherbet is more or less frozen juice and quite healthy. Then our oldest made some in her ice cream maker at the request of her younger cousin. Of course the six year old likes it! Fruit juice (already laden with sugar) and then add more sugar. I definitely have some incorrect ideas on sugar content. On the Womens Health Magazine website – womenshealthmag.com, there is a quiz on sugar content. I barely passed! Some of the products were American so I was not familiar with them, but still,  5 out of 10. In an effort to reduce fat content to make claims of a food like product being light, guess what they do so it still tastes decent. Add sugar. It is also used to lengthen shelf life.  For some time I have watched sugar content in cereals, but to my kids’  frustration. It turns out that Frosted Flakes actually have less sugar than Frosted Cheerios.  It is definitely not simple to navigate through all the food choices. The more I learn, the less I think I know. But I am still going to stand by my theory that the less processed the better. Pass the sugar or pass on the sugar. You choose.

– Kelly

Father’s day

Okay – I’m going to take a short break from Pinterest….I mean finishing our year-end books…..to tell you about how Kelly and I spent Father’s day with our families.

Father’s day can be tricky.  Fathers are well known for their ‘Oh no, don’t get me anything, what more could I possibly want when I have you’ attitudes.  A more truthful statement would go more like ‘what more could I possibly want when I buy whatever I want when I need it, instead of waiting to get it as a gift….and when I have you’.  Men have got it all figured out.

Men having it figured out means that we are left with limited ideas on what to buy for them when Christmas, birthdays, and Father’s day rolls around.  We used to have it made when the kids were in elementary school and they would bring home their tissue papered, glued and sparkled treasures to hand to Dad on the morning of Father’s day.  However, as the kids get older, their teachers get less interested in heading up the Father’s day arts and crafts.  It’s too bad really, because can you imagine the cool gifts our kids could make Dad from the physics lab?  Or Chemistry?  That could be really interesting, and quite possibly dangerous.

So, with the knowledge that there were no Father’s day freebies coming home from school this year, we set out a plan.  With unseasonably cold temperatures, gusting winds, some lightning and 120% chance of rain in the forecast for Father’s day, we thought – what could be better than to go fishing?  That’s right, Kelly and I decided that it would be great fun to load 5 unhappy teenagers and one skeptical preteen into the car and spend the day crowded into a boat on stormy waters while getting drizzled on by the rain and possibly electrocuted by lightning.

OK, let’s give credit where it’s due.  This was the guys’ idea.

 

With our gear loaded and the sides of the boat nearly level with the water in the lake, we were excited to spend the day fishing.

 

It was starting to look a bit dismal, with a few impatient hook changes, one snarled and tangled reel, a lost hook that may or may not have cost $40…..

....maybe if I tell them that I have to pee....

….when suddenly…..

 

One boy caught a fish.  Quickly followed by Kelly showing off her prime fishing skills, and catching this monster………

Finding Nemo

She wanted to eat it right there, but we convinced her that the poor thing was just a mere fetus of a fish, so she let him swim back to his momma to grow a bit more.

It was just as the fish had started really biting that we girls in the boat decided that this would be a good time for the guys to take a break and to make the 15 minute boat ride back to the cabin so we could avail ourselves of the facilities.  (Pee).  They were happy (not really) to oblige, and quickly and efficiently delivered us across the very bumpy splashing lake to the warm and cozy cabin.  We lingered inside just long enough to give the guys a chance to escape back to the lake without us.

It turned into a great day.  We passed the time in the cabin and along the shore, showing off our stellar fashion sense while skipping rocks….

 

….and generally solving all of the world’s problems.

I'm the one on the left

Hours later, the true fishermen in the group returned.  They had a successful day as well!

 

After a course of light hors d oeuvres’ (nachos and crackers with salsa) paired with some home-made raspberry wine…..

We enjoyed our main course of fresh veggies and freshly caught fish.

I would love to share the fish recipe, but since I had nothing to do with cooking it I happily cannot tell you much about it.  I know that it involved garlic, other spices, flour, butter, oil and beer.  If you want a great fish recipe, we will track down Kelly’s fisherman husband and see if he would be interested in being a guest writer.  But only once.  We can’t have the guys taking over our blog with all their enthusiasm.

We are very happy that we planned such a wonderful Father’s day treat for the whole family.  At the end of the day, the point was made clear-

You need a little rain if you want to see a rainbow.  Or in this case, a double rainbow.  What a great day it turned out to be.  Don’t know how we’ll top this next Father’s day….sometimes we just set the bar a bit too high.

Happy Father’s day to all you great Dads.

<Terra>

Rainy Weekend

There’s nothing like a rainy weekend to catch up on laundry, finish up those books in the office, clean the house, paint a room…….or develop a brand new addiction.

 

I spent some time with my sister, (the fertile one) on Friday.  She and her adorable two-year old are having a girls’ weekend, while her husband and three – yes three – sons went away for a weekend of motorbiking.  The forecast shows 100% probability of rain, so she chose to stay home rather than spend the next 48 hours chasing a toddler around a camper and telling three (maybe four) boys to keep their mud outside.

During our visit, I was treated to my niece’s newly developed alphabet abilities.  They go something like this – ay bee cee deee   hm hmmm hmmm, hm hm jay kay elemenopeeee,  hm hmmm hm, tee you vee, hm hm hm, ex, …..oh yukit antie, a puppy!  I applauded loudly and told her that she was so great.  I think she gets her singing ability from her grandma, our mother.  I remember fondly the family car trips where mom would belt out the songs on our Anne Murray 8 tracks….”could I have this dance… for the rest of my life…..would you be my partner…..hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm…..when we’re together….hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmmm hmmmmm…………   It was great.  One day (probably now actually), my kids will laugh about my singing too, only it’s because I get the words wrong.  For years I’ve tried to be so cool, rocking out to Guns N Roses by singing Welcome to the Dungeon.  Until my oldest finally rolled his eyes and said “Mom…. it’s welcome to the jungle”.

On this lovely visit with my sister she introduced me to the latest tool by which I can avoid doing anything productive.  This is nice timing too because I’m getting pretty Facebook efficient and it’s not wasting nearly as much of my life as it used to.  I can log in, skim the updates like breezing through a newspaper, respond to whatever appeals to me, and log out again in about 10 minutes flat, leaving me with over 23 hours left in the day to do actual productive things.  For those of you doing the math, I count sleeping as a productive thing.

But now my unusually fertile sister has planted the seed of a whole new addiction for me to grow.  This addiction is a website called Pinterest.  It’s a site that puts up all kinds of interesting things.  If you like something you can pin it to your board.  You can see what your friends like on their boards and if you like theirs you can put it on your board.  You could make a board called ‘Johnny’s Birthday’ and put up all the great ideas you can find to plan Johnny’s birthday.  There are books and quotes and recipes too!  It’s so cool.  Here’s the address –  pinterest.com

Go see if you like it too.  If you do, check out my board – there’s probably some things there that you’ll enjoy.   However, here’s your warning.  Only go to Pinterest when it’s a rainy day and you have lots of extra time on your hands.  There’s a load of information there and you’ll find yourself very distracted.  Kind of like my niece when she’s singing her alphabet too near the window….oh yukit antie, a puppy! 

 Looking at my Pinterest board I have found that I really like quotes, and recipes….oh and books!  And horses, and farming….and, oh look a butterfly!

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe idea on our blog.

This is because it has been warm out.  When it’s warm out in the spring I go outside and I don’t really like to come in until it’s absolutely necessary.  Our accountant will attest to this, because this is the time of year that I am supposed to be finishing up our year-end and I really don’t have the attention span or discipline to do math right now…..it’s really really boring…..don’t tell our accountant that I said that.Go to fullsize image

 

So, with this new beautiful weather I have been whipping up such gourmet offerings as ‘Nuked Hotdogs’.  This is where you stick a hotdog in the microwave, turn to get ketchup out of the fridge and in those 35 seconds your hotdog explodes and turns into a twisted rubbery mess.  I examine my protein source for a moment, consider the health implications of eating something so traumatized, then down it in a flash before anyone else comes in the house incase they try to get me to cook for them too.

I truly do love home cooked meals and trying out fun new recipes,  it’s just that spring is new right now and I feel the need to enjoy every outside moment that I can. 

Other quickie meals that I love when it’s too nice out to cook are scrambled eggs with a bit of red pepper and cheese, BLT’s, and everyone’s suppertime favorite…..frosted flakes with a nice glass of red wine.

However – it rained yesterday.  So, in my effort to further frustrate our accountants I found a baking recipe to try and it was great.

I had to take a picture fast, because our kids were around and they were trying to eat it before it had even cooled off.  I had left the cake resting on a cooling rack, and came back to find all of the top lumpy bits had been picked off of the top.  It looked as though some magpies had gotten in the kitchen and pecked at my cake.  Sheesh!

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

Here is the recipe – It came from a magazine, and I believe it was Canadian Living.

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest …. Watch your fingers
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½  cups fresh or frozen blueberries

For the lemon syrup:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice               Microwave sugar and lemon on high until hot and sugar is     dissolved.  This takes about 30 seconds.

Beat the butter and sugar until light.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Beat in Milk, lemon zest, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all but 1 tbsp of the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into butter mixture until smooth.

Toss blueberries with remaining flour, and fold into the batter.  Scrape all into a 9×5 inch parchment paper lined loaf pan.  Bake in 350F until a cake tester (stick) comes out clean.  This takes about 1 ½ hours.

Take it out of the oven, and poke holes with a skewer all over the top of the cake. Brush or pour syrup evenly over the top.  Let it cool in the pan for 10 min, then remove and let cool completely on a rack.  But watch your kids.  They’ll eat it before it cools.

“I figured if I was going to make the world a better place, I’d do it with a cookie.”   -Ana Pascal

<Terra>

Baby Bird Adventure

I was supposed to be helping to process (vaccinate), some heifers.  I really do enjoy processing cattle; it’s another of the many weird things that makes me tick.  There’s a long list of the unusual things that I enjoy – like fixing barbed wire and electric fences (my favorite), vacuuming (although you wouldn’t know that right now), giving medicine to cats….the list goes on and on.

 On this day of vaccinating heifers I had a little headache so I left the chute area to go and steal from my husband’s Advil stash.  I have noticed that it seems when you don’t need it there is a huge bulk bottle of Advil around every corner and behind every door of our house.  However, when pain strikes, the Advil must get frightened because it runs and hides.  All those bottles that are falling out of the cupboards every other day are no where to be found….so we buy more.  Which makes all the lost ones reappear…..but I digress.

 While looking for medicine, I noticed two robins flying in and out of our evergreen tree.  I grabbed my camera, and this is what I found…..

No photos please

 Awwwwwhhhhh!  He was so cute, so I took his picture.  This was not a great idea.

 The baby bird, which was doing a pretty good job of looking undisturbed by my cooing adoration, became agitated when I took his photo.

 He decided that this seemed like a pretty good day to try flying.  It wasn’t.  He appeared to be lacking some of the important feathers or something because he hit the ground running.  But not fast enough for our house cat.

 I didn’t even know that Gypsy was outside, and she knew exactly how to take advantage of the situation.  Within a millisecond of that baby bird hitting the dirt she appeared out of nowhere, grabbed him in her mouth and ran away from me.

I learned something almost immediately, and that is this – shrieking “No!  Gypsy, sit!  Put that down!  Drop it!”  does not work with a cat.  Especially not with a cat who has a baby bird in its mouth.   Our two dogs on the other hand recognized both the commands as well as the voice of Terra coming unglued, and were frantically sitting, standing, and generally looking at each other like “I don’t recognize that name, but whoever she means is getting a licking so let’s just do what she says.” 

"Am I being a good dog?"

Add to this the poor frantic bird parents who were screeching and dive bombing us, and I think it was quite a sight in our backyard.

It seemed like it took forever, but it was probably only a few seconds before I got hold of the cat, stuck my finger in the back of her jaws so she couldn’t bite the bird and got him away from her.  She thanked me by swiping at the back of my legs before running away.  The dogs just sat there looking guilty.  They must be catholic dogs.  They hadn’t actually done anything at all, but I assume they must have had impure thoughts regarding the cat and bird situation because something was clearly bothering them.

I checked the baby bird out thoroughly and he appeared unharmed.  A bit wet and very unhappy, but no puncture wounds or other abrasions.  I apologized to him and set him carefully back in his nest.  His parents were very displeased.

I found the cat, told her she was bad (she didn’t care), and put her back in the house.

By this time, the guys had finished all the vaccinating without my help, and I saw the truck leaving the yard to move on to the next project….and my headache was gone!

It has been a week since my incident with the robin family, and the baby bird grew stronger during that time.  With the cat confined to the house, he was free to try flying a few more times, and now the nest is empty.  I wish him a happy life, free from paparazzi and house cats.

“Nature is my medicine”    Sara Moss-Wolfe

Proud to be Canadian

RCMP Musical Ride

It has often been my observation that our neighbors to the south are a very patriotic bunch. Canadians in our quieter way, not so much. However, this weekend we were lucky enough to witness an event that definitely brings out my partriotic nature and I suspect many others. The RCMP Musical Ride came to town. They have been here before but the show never fails to impress. Our 4H horse kids were also fortunate enough to have a special meeting, tour and viewing of a musical ride practice. It was a fantastic opportunity. The members of the ride are extremely friendly and hospitable and willing to share information.  The horses are predominantly Hanoverian and of course black. They range from 16 to over 17 hands high. For the 4H kids, who mostly ride horses in the 14 to 15 hand range, these are big horses. A hand equals 4 inches,  so the tallest muscial ride horse at 17 .3 hands is over 69 inches! Most of the riders have little to no horse experience. Once they are selected, learning to ride becomes their full time job. They usually stay with the ride for two years. While part of the ride they are stationed in Ottawa and then travel all over the country. What a great job!

The Onion Lake Native dancers also provided entertainment.

Waiting to dance.

 

– Kelly