A Day in A Life that Was

It’s been 8 years today since Chris died.  This year, I salute his life in a series of unpublished pictures to try to show what our life with him was like.

1.1992 Teaching Nellie Mini-putt

Chris was a patient person, even trying to teach baby Nellie Mini-putt!  We always tried to find mini-putt whenever we went on vacation since the kids loved it so much.  Chris would do anything for the kids and me.

2. Carving Pumpkins

2b.Pumpkinmobile

At Halloween, every kid had their own pumpkin to carve…..after Chris scooped out most the seeds!  One year, he created the “Pumpkinmobile” for Halloween night by strapping onto the top of the van, a large carved pumpkin with a blue flashing light inside.  We drove the kids around our neighbourhood and nearby homes so the kids could trick-or-treat.

3.BuildingGarden

Chris was always building something around the house:  the front garden or the playhouse or the pond.

4.Patio

One of our favourite summer pastimes was ‘Patio’ where neighbours (human and canine) would gather at our house to visit and sing.

5.Rink

Chris prided himself in his skating rink out on the river.  This one had a rink plus a skating oval around it.  He’d spend hours cleaning it off after a snowstorm and flooding it on -20C days.  He hung lights for nighttime skating too.  Every winter, we hosted our annual skating parting for neighbours and friends.  We skated on the river, keeping warm at a bonfire at the beach then shared a potluck supper in our garage/party room.  Every Saturday night during the hockey season, we would host a ‘hockey party’ where we would watch NHL games while playing darts or pool with our friends and neighbours.

6.WhaleWatchingTadoussac.png

Chris would always take us anywhere we wanted to go at any time.  This picture shows us at Tadoussac, Quebec where we went whale watching and stayed at a cottage overlooking the St. Lawrence River.  We were on our way down home.

7.TorontoZoo

One year, we took the whole family to the Toronto Zoo and Wonderland for the weekend.

8.Waterskiing

At home, he loved boating on the river in the summertime.  He patiently taught our kids and friends to water ski.

9.JoeyVisit

He loved it when our brother-in-law Joey came up for his annual visit.  This picture shows their favourite spot to sit and talk and enjoy a cold ‘beverage’.

12.HardatWork

He loved working with Mark and Simon, travelling at times to Niagara and British Columbia on jobs.

 

9b. SantaGrampie

Chris was such a good sport:  he played Santa to all the kids in the neighbourhood at our annual Christmas Party.  Here he is with Kalia as Santa Grampie.

10.Camping

What an incredible man.  Even though he was in the middle of daily radiation treatments for cancer, Chris insisted we didn’t cancel our family camping plans.  We camped on the St. Lawrence River and him and I just drove up to the Ottawa Hospital for his treatment then back to the campground.  Pain and the side-effects from radiation treatments didn’t stop him from sleeping on the ground in a tent so the kids would still have a holiday.  He was adamant that he would try to make the kids feel like life was as normal as possible, until it wasn’t.

13.LastFamilyPhoto

Our last family photo when everyone came home in 2007.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Christmas Baking Recipes

It’s that time of year again for Christmas baking.  Even though Christmas is less than two weeks away, I still haven’t started any of my baking yet and I blame it all on global warming.  Yes, that’s right, global warming a.k.a. climate change.  IT’S +10C OUTSIDE these days and the temperature doesn’t go below zero overnight!   Two all-time record high temperatures were shattered in the last two days.  There has been no snow (this time last year we had 25 cms of snow) and the grass is still emerald green and growing!  How’s a person supposed to get into the Christmas mood?  I’ve tried by getting out my Christmas village and decorating the house to raise my Christmas spirit…..  I usually do most of my Christmas baking a few weeks before Christmas and freeze the baked goods in tins in my garage but since it’s unusually warm, my garage isn’t cold inside.  This year, I’ll be baking the day before Christmas unless we get a sudden cold snap.

I want to share my favourite Christmas recipes including Hello Dollies, Chocolate Chow Mein Clusters, and Rice Krispy Squares.  You’ll find my other Christmas recipes I previously posted for Cherry Cheesecake, Chocolate Cocoanut Macaroons, and Peanut Brittle by clicking on their names.

Macaroon

Chocolate Cocoanut Macaroons

 

Hello Dolly Recipe

I have no idea where this name came from!  I got this recipe from Karen Sibbett almost 45 years ago.  My son Darin really, really likes these.

¼ cup butter

1 cup graham wafer crumbs

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup shredded, unsweetened cocoanut

1 cup of chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Melt butter in a 9X13” pan and spread around including sides.   Add graham wafer crumbs, spreading evenly around.  Add the walnuts, cocoanut, and chocolate chips sprinkling evenly.  Top with sweetened condensed milk.

Bake at 325F for 20 minutes on the oven rack that is place one slot higher.

Cool completely and then cut into one inch, bite-size squares.  These freeze very well.

 

Chocolate Chow Mein Clusters Recipe

I believe that my son Taylor prefers these.

In the top of a double boiler, combine:

½ cup butter

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

½ cup butterscotch chips

¼ cup peanut butter

Stir often until melted.

In a bowl, mix:

2 cups dry chow mein noodles

1 cup peanuts

Add to melted mixture, stirring well to combine all the ingredients.  Spoon blobs on a cookie sheet.  Cool then store in a container with a well-fitting lid.  Freezes well.  Serve at room temperature.

 

Rice Krispie Squares Recipe

Of course, who wouldn’t love these anytime – my grandchildren sure do!

In a large pot, melt:

¼ cup butter

1 package of marshmallows

Add and quickly mix:

½ teaspoon vanilla

5 cups Rice Krispies

Press into a buttered 9X13” pan.  Cool.  Cut into bite-size squares…… or bigger.

Enjoy!

100_2033

Cherry Cheesecake

I Love a Real Christmas Tree!

There’s a lot of debate about Christmas trees.  Some people like an artificial tree for many reasons.  They feel that it’s less messy because there are no pine tree needles from a real Christmas tree falling all over the floor when they put up a fake Christmas tree.  Some say it’s more environmentally sound because no real tree is cut down and they reuse the same Christmas tree year after year.  Others feel that an artificial tree is easier to assemble and take down every year.  I appreciate all those reasons that fit other people’s lives.  BUT I LOVE A REAL LIVE CHRISTMAS TREE!

Searching

Searching for the Perfect Tree

Tradition.  I’ve always had a real Christmas tree for as long as I can remember.  When I was growing up, we used to buy a Pine tree for Christmas – they are the ones with the short needles.  I went with my Dad to the Woolco plaza parking lot and we picked out the perfect tree to bring home.  Later, after I got married, I always bought a Scotch Pine with the longer needles which didn’t seem to fall off as much.   We usually went out to a Christmas Tree Farm to cut our own tree but occasionally we bought one from a lot.  When Marty worked at a garden center once, we picked a gorgeous Balsam Fir from their selection – we hadn’t intended to buy one already cut but we couldn’t resist the urge.   One year when I was 9 months pregnant, we went out to a tree farm and picked the closest tree because I couldn’t walk too far – my poor husband was worried I’d give birth right there in the field!  Hahaha – I waited until 6 days before Christmas.  Some years, we went to a nearby Christmas tree farm where they had horse-drawn wagon rides and hot chocolate, but the commercialism of the entire operation began to nauseate me.  The whole spirit of Christmas was becoming depressing from the beginning of cutting a tree!

Timber2

Timber!

So I scouted out another Tree farm that just sold Christmas trees (and homemade wreaths) – cut and cut-yourself – at a reasonable price.  THIS is what I was searching for – driving into the tree farm fields, walking around (sometimes for a LONG time) to find that perfect tree, and sawing it down ourselves.  Some years, there is no snow while other times, there’s lots of snow to trudge through.  One year it was unusually mild around 0C degrees and another time it was -20C!  You just have to dress for the weather to stay comfortable.  There is plenty of room for everyone and the farm is never crowded like some other ‘wagon rides and hot chocolate’ Christmas tree farms.

I feel that Christmas Tree farms are very ecologically responsible.  The farmers who grow these trees use hands-on, labour-intensive practices to grown and prune their trees –  I remember my oldest son Robin working for a Christmas Tree farmer one summer, when he was a teenager, to prune them by hand.  The farmer’s livelihood depends on the seasonal sales of Christmas trees.  I support Farmers and I try to practice local consumption – Christmas trees are no exception.  After Christmas is over, I take my tree outside for the birds to land on or find shelter in for the rest of the winter.  Then in the spring, I cut off the branches and spread them around my blueberry plants.  I’d say that’s environmentally sustainable.

All my grown children and their families who live around here will drive out to the tree farm this year:  Nellie, Melvin, Sarah, Kristi, Mike, J, Josh, Taylor, Darin, Amanda, Kalia, Livi, Janet, and Frank.  After a fun afternoon searching for our perfect trees, we’ll come back home for a nice warm supper beside the toasty, wood-burning cookstove.  Our tree will have to wait till after supper to be brought into the house.  I just love the pine smell from a freshly cut Christmas tree!  Then we’ll let it warm up overnight before we decorate it.  And again, it will be the best Christmas tree ever!

Tree

Frostquake!

It’s been pretty cold lately. Abnormally cold. But then again, what is ‘normal’ anyway these days when it comes to weather with all the climate change going on – extreme weather in the summer with record-breaking heat and in the winter, polar vortexes every other week.

Freezing

At our house, when the temperature outdoors gets down to -30C or so, we get sudden BANGs which can shake the house. It’s a Frostquake or Cryoseism. I used to just  say it was frozen ground water expanding in the extreme cold, but now there’s a word for it. Living along the river, we have a fairly high water table. If there’s lots of rain in the fall, the ground becomes saturated, then freezes in the winter. We often heard them when skating on the frozen river.
Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson said the noise occurs when water filters into porous soil, freezes suddenly and becomes subject to shifting. “It’s like a low-grade earthquake,” he said. Yup, it shakes the house like an earthquake sometimes too.

Frost on the mudroom door

Frost on the mudroom door

I don’t like the cold anymore – it’s too………well, cold. I don’t drive to town on these really cold days – I wait for it to warm up a bit to just below freezing, every week or so. My faithful, 24 year old car with over 375,000 kms on it, doesn’t like going out in this kind of weather either. Instead I stay at home keeping the fire going in my cookstove or watching the birds or baking or making homemade dinners.  I don’t even have to go outside to get my firewood! I just walk through my unheated garage to the attached woodshed and bring it in. Oh, it’s just as cold as outside but it’s not technically outside – I still have to wear my winter coat especially if I’m splitting wood with my new electric 4 ton wood splitter that my two youngest kids got me for Christmas.

One thing good about the bitter cold outside is that I can get inside jobs accomplished. Like clearing out my cupboards of paperwork, deceased relatives dishes, clothes I never wear anymore, books/magazines I’ve read ….. you know simplifying my OWN life.

For now, I’ll keep feeding the birds beef suet and black oiled sunflower seeds and watch them eat while I wait for spring.

 

 

Bluejays on my apple tree *

Bluejays on my apple tree by Marty *

Cutting Our Christmas Tree

I want to share some pictures with you of our adventure to our favourite Christmas tree farm to cut our Christmas tree.

Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Krisit

Some of my children and grandchildren:  Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Kristi

 

This year, we were looking for a small tree under 5 feet.  I decided after last year that I didn’t want to move any large furniture to accommodate the tree in the corner.   After wandering around the field for a while, we found the perfect tree and Melvin skillfully cut it down.

Timber!

Timber!

 

Darin and Amanda and the girls were off in another direction looking for their perfect Christmas tree.

Aunt Nellie carried baby Josh around in his baby carrier – even Josh enjoyed himself!

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

 

While we were tying down our trees to the top of our cars, the kids enjoyed horsing around in the snow.

Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

Grandkids Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

 

Then we were off to Darin and Amanda’s house for hot chocolate, chili, and board games (of course!).

Loading up the tree

Loading up the tree

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Great Gifts

 

I love Christmastime!  I want to share with you some of the great gifts we’ve shared. Around here, many gifts have been long-lasting and fun, and hopefully a learning opportunity. Many of these gifts are inexpensive and affordable for anyone. Here are a few of my favourites:

Board games have always been a favourite, notably Scrabble, where everyone has spelled the most creative word at one time or another and where ‘house rules’ apply.

100_3659

Puzzles of all sizes have been hits around here for decades. We have large-size 48 piece childrens’ puzzles, 300 piece 2X3 ‘floor’ puzzles, as well as 500-1000 piece puzzles which take days to complete. I’m very glad that I saved these puzzles over the years because now my grandchildren enjoy making puzzles with me.

100_3660

My children have always loved to receive sketch pads, doodle pads, construction paper, markers, sketching pencils, and the like. They’ve never been big fans of ‘colouring books’ because they seem too restrictive to stay in the lines……. and heaven knows my kids don’t enjoy ‘staying in the lines of life’.

100_3676

At various times, most of my children have received binoculars. I usually have given them smaller, children’s binoculars – the first pair of binoculars I gave my babies were from Fisher-Price and I still have them around here somewhere. As they grew older, I gave them inexpensive ones from the Dollarama – they could always use the good binoculars which have sat on the kitchen counter by the back window, at the ready.

binoculars

A magnifying glass has been a popular gift around here. It’s always fun to look at something up close. Eventually most of my kids graduated to using the microscope. One year, my son Marty received two microscopes for Christmas to add to our collection. At that time he had jars of dead things (shells, crabs, etc. – thanks Fred) in his ‘lab’ which was my desk in the corner of the basement.

100_3673

We love to play cards around here. Whenever there’s a bunch of us together, we play Euchre or hearts or A-hole/President/or whatever name it happens to have at that time, or cribbage. For many years, every Friday night Chris and I played Euchre with our neighbours. When I was growing up, my mother wouldn’t allow us to play cards on Sunday…..

100_3668

When my children grow up, I love to give them a copy of my recipe book, Mom’s Recipes, so they will be able to make all the foods that they grew up with. Maybe some day, they’ll pass down these recipes to their children.

100_3636

Some years, when I’ve been more ambitious or had the time, I’ve painted pictures for my children. A dozen years ago, my son Taylor was living in Vancouver, far from home at Christmas. I wanted to give him something that would remind him every day of his home so I painted him a picture of our house in the wintertime. It was one of my first paintings of the new millenium. I think I’ve just reminded myself that I’d better start painting again.

Home - Taylor

My daughter Nellie is a crochet artist and has created many unique, hand-crafted toys as well as scarves, hats, mitts, etc. This year, I commissioned her to create some well-loved toys through her online shop, The Black Lory (here). I’m very pleased that I will be giving one-of-a-kind gifts to some of my favourite people.

Mermaid

Mermaid

And of course, there’s always my Christmastime baking – coconut macaroons, hello dollies, chocolate chow mien clusters, cherry cheesecake, etc

Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake

 

 

 

Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Eeek!

Well it has finally arrived in Canada with all it’s consumerism glut: ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’. What used to be an American trend has now migrated north like some insidious plague. Black Friday follows the American Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday is right afterwards. But now it’s ‘Black Friday Week’ and it’s only the beginning of seasonal shopping frenzy until Christmas. This morning before 7 a.m., the news reported that in the USA, fights broke out in line-ups and shots were fired……..in a WalMart Parking lot!

Insane.

Black-Friday-2012-Filled-With-Violent-Outbursts-as-Americans-Mindlessly-Participate-in-Consumerism
The momentum has been building feverishly this week – it reminds me of the children’s Christmas movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” where the citizens of the imaginary town of Whoville are in a shopping frenzy spending, spending, spending! Life imitating a cartoon, sadly. Every time I turn on my computer or TV this week, I am bombarded with Black Friday advertisements: “Save 60%! Spend, Spend, Spend!!” Honestly, it nauseates me.

grinch2
Okay, I have to admit, I used to be a “Who” – I used to love shopping for Christmas gifts…. lots of presents for each child so they seemed happy for that half an hour it took to open their presents on Christmas morning. But just as I’ve simplified my life in the past few years, dangerous consumerism seems to have swept North America and even Asian countries like a tsunami. I thought the USA was in dire straits financially? I thought thousands of families have lost their jobs and homes?  Canada hasn’t yet felt the economic impact on that scale yet, but the signs are there.

Homemade Peanut Brittle

Homemade Peanut Brittle

Black Friday is reported to be the biggest shopping day of the year in the USA – people buying sale items as well as regularly priced and even marked-up-for-the-season things. People line up outside stores for hours, often in frigid temperatures, to be the first ones inside, charging through the doors like maniacs practically trampling each other. Cyber Monday is the ‘at home’ shopping online frenzy, I guess. It’s always about the money……
I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I’m not a big fan of shopping. Thank you for listening to my rant on consumerism today. Bah, humbug?
Now on a completely opposite note, I want to mention ‘Giving Tuesday’ .  If you are so inclined to give rather than take, Charities have gotten together to give you the opportunity to give something back via a donation.

100_2382

Previous Older Entries

PERC

The Ottawa Peace and Environment Resource Centre (PERC) is an incorporated, registered charity. It is primarily a volunteer-run, grassroots organization with a Board of Directors to govern its operations.

Where Meeples Meet

Great Board Games Reviews

Wilderness Return

My Wilderness Return Return to Nature, bushcraft, scrounge craft, writing

Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness

Practical advice for off-gridders, homesteaders, preppers. 38 years off-grid homesteading experience. Blog, videos, podcasts, book (print, ebook, audio)

Powell River Books Blog

Life, Family, Friends.....

The Radical Homemaker

Warning: Blending authenticity with joy may arouse contempt.

Mother Matters Burlington

Pregnancy, birth and postpartum support. Conscious parenting too!

B&H Your Community Grocer

Supporting Your Community Since 1963

Just another Day on the Farm

Living a step back in time

Natural Life Magazine's

green living blog by Editor Wendy Priesnitz

Vulnerable Watersheds

Life, Family, Friends.....

Pete's Alaska

Pete's Alaska — God, family, country my view out the cabin window.

Tiny House Ontario

To fill this life, with words, art, and maintain a lovely living forest.

Cam Mather

Books • Speaking • Consulting • etc.

Wuppenif

wuppenif...in other words, "what would happen if?"

Lactation Matters

The official blog of the International Lactation Consultant Association