Monday, 14 January 2019

Tracks in the Snow (now with answers!)

When I go out my back door to open up the chickens, I often see animal tracks in the snow. I love thinking about what must go on at night when we aren't looking. Take a guess at what made these tracks:

Tracks number one (above).  Quite certain this is mouse. Where snow was deeper, they created marks that looked more like open tunnels.

Tracks number 2 (above). Cottontail rabbit who places his front feet close together.

Tracks number 3 (above)  Squirrel - black squirrel to be exact.

Tracks number 4 (above). Me, wearing my husband's big rubber boots.

Tracks number 5 (above). Chickens!

Sometimes the tracks criss cross over each other. I'm taking a wild guess that the animals weren't actually out there at the same time.

What are the most interesting tracks you've seen on your property? What are the most common?

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Saints Alive!

It is a beautiful sunny, snappy cold day. I've been up for quite some time. I let out the chickens, yes they do still venture out of their coop even winter as long as it isn't too windy or snowy, the snow is packed, and especially if I put a little food out for them. This morning they got some leftover mashed potatoes and ate it like I haven't fed them in a month.

Then I got myself settled with a cup of coffee and blog reading. I absolutely love starting my weekend mornings with reading blogs and perhaps commenting if I connect with something that somebody has written. I was reading Rachel's blog. She lives in England and has a lot of interests and knowledge about things of which I have very little (politics, soccer, travel to wonderful exotic countries...) but I love reading about them anyway. Today, she mentioned it was the feast day of St. Mungo, and that Saint Anthony was her favourite saint as a child, and I questioned what he was about. Apparently, he takes care of helping you find lost things. That's usually not a problem I have. In fact, I pride myself on being a finder. I once found the popped-out lense of my husband's glasses in a hay mow. Top that!!

So, that got me wondering who my favourite saint might be. I know a little about the more "popular" saints, but not being Catholic, or anything really, I did what we all do, I went on the 'interweb' and looked up a list of Patron Saints and had a good old time finding out who represents what. Here's what I found that might relate to me, should I become interested in appealing to saints:

St. Cassian of Imola, St. Gregory the Great (I like that name!), St. Thomas Aquinas (that one didn't surprise me, as there is a school named that in a city I used to live in), St. John Baptist de la Salle, St. Marcellin Champagnat, and St. Francis de Sales are all saints of teachers.

Not to be beholden to my profession, I also found out that I might appeal to St. Dorothea of Caesarea, St. Fiacre, and St. Phocas if I need some extra help with gardening. If they could help with tomato blight and squash beetles, it might be worth a shot.

The chicken girl in me noted that St. Isadore the Farmer, St. Norburga, and St. Walstan are patron saints of farmers. I don't know if owning five chickens counts as being a farmer.

Today, however, I feel more like needing the assistance of St. Hunna (laundresses, laundry workers, washerwomen) or St. Martha (housewives, domestic workers, servants)! I do so enjoy noticing mucky pawprints across my kitchen table!! I've cleaned the tub, toilet, swept and spot cleaned the kitchen floor, and put in a load of towels so far.

I took a course in university, so long ago, where I read a fascinating book on the saints. I can't even remember what course it was, or what the book was called. I'd forgotten most of what I learned (seem to be noticing that a whole lot lately) (oh hey, is there a patron saint for memory loss?), but this was an interesting bit of time spent scratching the surface.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Catching Up

I've been out of the loop for a bit now. I'm still not over this evil cold/flu experience - going on two weeks now. Husband is now sick with it. Oh my dear lord, he snored like a freight train last night with the congestion and night time cold medicine. Now that daughter is back at university, he has agreed to sleep in her room tonight so that I can actually get some sleep, too.

We celebrated son's nineteenth birthday. Husband was all hopped up on cold meds and came to the restaurant with us, ate food, and after we came home, he fell asleep on the couch after cake. Good times. We took daughter back to 'the city' on Sunday and she is now feeling cruddy with a soar throat and clogged up ears. I'm waiting for her to also lose her sense of taste and smell, which happened to me with this, too.

Anyway, at some point, Christmas was packed up. My sweet family carried the boxes down from the 'rubbermaid' room upstairs and I disassembled displays and put things in boxes, disregarding the labels I have Sharpie markered on the outsides. Yup, threw caution to the wind and put snowmen in the box that said 'Santa collection'. Chaos will ensue next Christmas! They then carried the boxes back up to the store room and assembled the jigsaw trying to get everything to fit back in there again.

To back it up even further, my big gathering on Boxing Day went off without a hitch. We fit everyone in the kitchen, there were enough plates, and more than enough food. I think everyone had a good time and the weather behaved itself.

And now here is January. Absolutely NO New Year's resolutions were made. In fact, New Year's Eve was a sad little event with me being sick and we cancelled on friends, but I'm sure we will get together with them some other time. They are actually going to be first time grandparents quite soon. I can't even imagine!!

The wind today blew from the east, bringing in nasty weather including freezing rain. I'm glad none of us had to be out driving at that time (around supper time). I've been enjoying reading bloggers posts about epiphany and wassailing, and various other celebrations. I love finding out about those kinds of traditions.

I did get an Instantpot (fancy pressure cooker which also doubles as a slow cooker) for Christmas and the only thing I've made in it so far was split pea and ham soup (using up some of the ham from Christmas). If I had made this soup from scratch using dried split peas and did it on the stove it would have take me a couple of hours to make sure that the peas were soft enough. If I did it in a crockpot, it would be simmering away all day. When I made it from scratch, using dried split peas, with my Instantpot (pressure cooker feature), after it had come up to pressure (which takes only a few minutes), it cooked in 18 minutes. It was good. The vegetables (carrots, split peas, celery) were soft enough and the soup was good. It made a lot, and I even took some today for work for my lunch. My verdict so far with the Instantpot is a thumbs up. I haven't tried a roast or anything like that, but when I do, I will post about it and let you know.

Right, time to throw away some Kleenex and do a final tidy up in the kitchen. Hope you had a good Monday everyone.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019


It has been about a week of coughing, blowing my nose, taking drugs during the day, drugs to help sleep at night, being in my pajamas all day long, having zero energy, whine, whine, whine. 

My house is still fully decorated for Christmas and I just want to do that Bewitched thing where I twitch my nose and my house is back to normal. Haven't had energy to do anything - husband picked up Chinese food because there was no way I was making supper and we've pretty much eaten the leftovers from Boxing day. I am feeling so sorry for myself because this is  my two weeks off work and spending it doing nothing is really not what I wanted. Oh well, at least I don't have to wipe myself out planning lessons for a supply teacher which is what I would be doing if I were back at work right now. 

Don't know if this is just a really rotten cold (plus sinus), or the flu. I got my flu shot (the only one in the family who did), so maybe it's a lesser version of the flu. Thank you for allowing me to complain. No comments necessary because quite frankly, I'm annoying myself! 

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Aftermath

The Boxing Day gathering of fifteen bodies went very well. Note to self: do NOT make as much food for appetizers if I do this again. It was simply too much. I baked too much, I set out too much, there was just too much. I have frozen a lot of my baking, and there is still half a plate of cream cheese / hot pepper jelly in the fridge, and I just dumped the rest of the cut up fruit in the chicken run for the birds. They were appreciative. We managed to fit everyone into the kitchen to eat with the help of one of those collapsible plastic tables that I got on sale before Christmas. My sister and sister-in-law were invaluable at that "crunch" time when everything is coming out of the oven and being sliced and put in serving bowls...

Then I got sick. I am hacking and coughing and trying to breath and feeling a bit like the truck of Christmas hit me, backed up, ran over me again... It was inevitable. I had three colleagues on antibiotics for strep throat before Christmas and others who were just plain sick. I had students away in the last couple of weeks leading up to Christmas holidays. Regardless of the amount of hand washing and hand sanitizing, it really was inevitable.

I'm trying this product now. I'm not sure it's doing a whole lot, but at least I feel like I'm trying. I've already set up an appointment with my doctor (the soonest I could get in was Jan. 8th!) to deal with the sinus infection which this has already turned into and will continue to be. Yes, poor me.

The house continues to be decorated to the hilts. I am in no way, shape, or form to be dismantling Christmas and hauling out the Twelve Boxes of Christmas and trying to pack and put away. It shall remain this way until I feel up to it.

One of the highlights of the holidays, however, was receiving a package through the mail.

These gorgeous tea towels were sent to me by a fellow blogger! Joanne from Cuponthebus wove these and sent them to me! I was so excited to receive them and haven't even had a chance to send her a thank you card yet. My husband suggested I use them at Christmas, but I'm glad I didn't because they wouldn't have been on display for long, as we went through several tea towels, sopping up messes, anchoring cutting boards, or just becoming drenched too quickly. No fear that they won't get used however! The one thing I love about them is how soft they are, not stiff and non-absorbant like so many of the new ones.

Husband has another round of follow up appointments for M-I-L's eye (cataract surgery) tomorrow, late in the day in a 'nearby' town. I call these Dementia Days. We've kindly been invited by old friends to join them at their cottage for New Year's Eve (just a gentle get together, not a big party) that same day. I'm hoping I can pull myself together / drug myself up enough that I can enjoy myself. We're not big New Year's Eve revellers these days, usually just staying home or maybe getting together with friends.

I hope you are all well and have survived the Christmas rush. Here's to a happy, healthy, prosperous 2019!

Monday, 24 December 2018

Warm Wishes...

It is Christmas Eve, the last of the food is purchased for gatherings in the next two days, the fireplace channel is on tv, the presents are 'neath the tree, a one-dish casserole is in the oven, and my feet are up! To everyone that I have had the pleasure of "meeting" in blogland, I wish you all a very merry Christmas! 

Saturday, 22 December 2018

How Many More Sleeps?

I am writing this at 6:57 a.m. and I can hear Bruce crowing like a crazy beast in the chicken coop. No, I am not going out to open up the coop. Why is one crow not enough?? When are the "neighbours" going to start complaining and come over with an axe? But I digress. I have decided to just stop dancing around what I do for a living, so that you may have a clearer picture of my world right now. Husband and I are both elementary school teachers. I've been in this game for twenty-eight years now. Yesterday was the last school day before Christmas holidays. I am tired to my bones. The enthusiasm and craziness of the lead up to holidays is more of a young person's forte. At fifty-two years old, I crash at the end of the day, especially after a week of Sprit Day (every day  e.g. Ugly Christmas sweater day, Christmas hat day, Christmas pajama day...), the Festive Lunch for the entire school, carol singing in the gym every day, Festive skate at the community centre, and desperately wishing our salt dough ornaments were dry enough to paint. Do I still love it? Yes, but it's more tiring now. Add a spouse who's doing the same things (different school), and that equals two people who sit on the couch at the end of the day.

Anyway, when I came home yesterday, toting wonderful, thoughtful gifts from students and spreading them out on the kitchen table (and husband adding his own collection - we are never without Tim Horton's cards!), I declared that I would not be making food for anybody and phoned a restaurant in a nearby small town (everything around here is a nearby small town). It's nothing fancy, but the food is always good and there are always leftovers to bring home, which makes son happy. (He, by the way, was working his part time job, then happy to be seeing his girlfriend who is now home from university, and then going to coach his basketball team). We set up a reservation, and then I had a much deserved glass of red wine.

When we got there, we saw that the little shop two doors down had a new window display. I had featured this display in a previous post. There are always moving features and lights. I have no idea who builds these displays, but this one was very well done with details and quotes from 'A Christmas Carol'.

This centre piece rotates around with the before and after Scrooges, the after one featuring lights, and other parts of the display also light up at the same time.

Do you see the big goose hanging in the butcher shop window?

Well done, to whoever the craftsperson is who creates these wonderful windows.

As we quickly approach Christmas (my big gathering on the Boxing Day, a smaller gathering here as well on Christmas Day), the weather changes constantly. We had a ton of snow just a couple of weeks ago, then it became ridiculously mild and it rained and we lost most of it, and now the temperature is dropping and it's calling for more snow. Although I am not a fan of winter, I would actually like some snow on the ground for the holiday. The pretty outdoor lights would look better, and it would just feel more Christmasy. A couple of nights ago, the sunset was just incredible. This picture does not really capture the colour well, but imagine the sky on fire.

Notice the grass? Crazy.

Another sight from a few nights ago...

Scooter, just casually lounging on our kitchen table (excuse the clutter - that's life). This is a big no-no. Not that I am foolish enough to believe that they never go where they aren't supposed to, but to be so bold as to just be lying on the table when I'm around... tsk tsk.

I am still rushing about, trying to get ready for the gatherings. I did some more "baking" (these cookies don't really qualify as they don't spend any time in the oven). They are chow mein noodle cookies, or as son calls them, 'spiders'. Do you make these?

I have lists upon lists of things to do. I have always been a list maker. I have lots to keep track of. Some of the items on my list read, "put away boxes / stuff from front hall", "bake Christmas crack / marshmallow things / choc. cookies", "quick Swiffer upstairs", "wrap presents", "flies in kitchen lights"...

For what it's worth, the rooster has now stopped crowing.