Wednesday, April 27, 2016


I spent another day in the yard - raking needles.  Gary hauled 10 bags to the dump today and we haven't even hit the main part of the back yard yet.  But we are getting 99% of them bit by bit so we will keep at it.

I was digging around in a small flower bed I created last year, and dug up a nest of baby bees... OH I AM SO SORRY!  I quickly covered them up and left them alone.

Do you know how much our bees mean to our survival?  Do you know that the solitary bee is in danger of being gone forever if we continue the way we are going now?  Do you know there are ways that we all could help?

The first food in the spring for bees is Dandelion's.  We all want gorgeous lawns with no yellow flowers - but those yellow flowers are much needed for the bees in the early spring... leave some for the bees - Please!

Plant wildflowers.  My neighbour in Winnipeg started a small patch of wildflowers in a little corner of her back yard a couple of years ago, and the bees came - and she had a fantastic vegetable garden that year.  So the next year she planted more.  Not only does she get to enjoy the lovely colours and scents of the wildflowers growing in her yard she is experiencing first hand the benefit of keeping the bees happy.

Make or buy a bee house.  This is something I am doing in my own yard this year.  Back at my old house, the Bumble Bees took over a small birdhouse that my son had made for me.  It has been a bee house for about 5 years now, and my yard was always full of Bumbles every year.

Real bee houses are much different than a birdhouse.  Here is an excellent article on building a Mason Bee House.  It is as simple as drilling small holes into a block of untreated wood.

I am putting the challenge out to all my readers - Do something good for the bees this year - lets all do something to make the bees happy in our own yards.

The best commercial I have seen this spring is the Cherrios' commercial.  If you haven't seen it, take a look.

Lets help bring back the bees.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Is there anything better than working outside in the yard all day until you are tired and dirty, then crawling into a hot bath and soaking until your muscles say AHHHHH...?

Don't think so... well maybe a few things are better - like getting an all's clear on your recent mammogram - that trumps just about anything for a cancer survivor.

But a hot bath after a day working, is such a supreme pleasure, is it not?

That's what we have been doing.  Cleaning up the needles left everywhere in our yard by our now removed, dead trees.  My main task has been getting them all removed from the actual garden where I want to plant vegetables.  I have accomplished that, I hope - but still everywhere one walks in the back yard one hears and feels the crunch of needles beneath one's shoes.  So far we have four large orange bags of needles, and we have only done  1/3 of the yard.

It has been hard work, but I really don't mind being outside under the bright blue sky... it is so much better than rain and snow!  And there have been some delightful surprises along the way.

I had a pile of compost I had left last fall in the furthest corner of my garden, I decided to move it and clean the area up so the whole garden can be tilled in a few weeks.  As I was lifting the compost with my garden fork, I saw a bit of movement.  Turns out my very large Toad had been wintering in the compost pile. (Remember my post about him last fall?) There he was fast asleep, all buried safe and warm in rotting vegetation - talk about living in luxury!  I covered him back up and marked the spot with a stick.

Now I am worried about his location when it comes time for our garden to be tilled.  I really want that spot to be tilled, but I don't want to disturb him, and I don't want him to leave my yard.

What I do want to leave, is the blasted MOLE that is still there.  He has moved under the hedge to start some more tunnels in my neighbours yard, but also is digging up a storm in mine.  There had been no activity last fall, so I thought that he had moved on - Not so!

My neighbour has bought and placed a trap that looks like a torture chamber in extreme, but I am not sure it will actually catch the critter.  I have declared war on this pest - he's goin down - one way or another!

That is a story that will be continued at some point...

For now it's endless days warming to real spring temps; working outside every day accomplishing much on my to-do list, and enjoying my first spring in the country.

Can't get much better than that!

Thursday, April 21, 2016


This week seems to have gone by quicker than usual.  Guess that's because so many things have happened this week - we exposed our house to whomever drives or walks past, I got a job, we took a short trip in to Winnipeg, I had my 10th year post-cancer and mastectomy mammogram, I rescued Beauty, I got to see and visit with my very much missed elderly former neighbour, and I got to spend precious time with our son... all in four days.

No wonder the week flew by!

I would really love to be able to be outside working, but it has turned chilly once again, so instead I will work upstairs.

I am pretty excited  about something totally different however.  I recently had 30 some vintage baby dresses to sell.  I posted them on one of the Face Book doll sites I belong to, as they are suitable for larger dolls, and a friend of mine on the site said she wanted them all.  That was just before Molly left us, and while I was still painting anything I could find.

I finally connected with my friend again, and we discussed the dresses I am to send her, and she had the best idea -

How about we do an exchange!  We were talking about our Chatty Cathy's she has over a 100, and I have 8, so she asked it I would consider and exchange, a good condition, brown eyed brunette Chatty Cathy and some Chatty dresses for the 33 dresses I am sending her.

Would I consider?  I leaped...

I haven't had a new Chatty Cathy in a few years, and just the thought of acquiring another, makes my heart pitter-patter... I don't have a brown-eyed doll - they are not all that common, so I am excited to get her.  I can see a spa day coming up - and while I am at it, perhaps a spa day for some of the other Chatty's that sit not too far away from me in my studio.

I wasn't expecting this - so it is a wonderful surprise.

In the meantime, I will try to continue to clean up some of the mug rug projects that I have started - OH and the two I gave away as gifts this weeks, were very much loved.

So what a week, it's been - I am kind of looking forward to a quiet weekend.  Maybe we will be really lucky and get to have a complete weekend without snow - now wouldn't that be ideal!

Talk to you next week -


We had to go into Winnipeg yesterday- just a quick trip in and out.  It was time for my mammogram, and although it is a bit of a drive, I really appreciate my new doctor allowing me to return to the facility where all my records are, and where all my scans have been.

It was a special anniversary, of sorts.  The technician, whom I have come to know quite well over the years,  welcomed me with a huge smile a hug and congratulated me on reaching my 10 yr mark, post- cancer and post mastectomy.  As I told her, I pretty much never think of my cancer anymore, except when I have to return for my regular mammograms.  She agreed that it is the way it should be for survivors like me....and then she ruined all the nice sentiments by squeezing the day lights out of my one and only boob.  But I did thank her for it...I can stand 10 seconds of torture if it means I can continue to live a healthy cancer- free life.

It was very surreal returning to Winnipeg.  I haven't been back since we moved to the country 9 months ago.  I cannot honesty say I enjoyed it, except for a very brief visit with my former neighbour, Elaine, and a hour long coffee and chat with our son, Jon.

We had very little time to do much, but we did go to our old house (now our son's) to pick up some items we had left behind.

My main focus, was on 4 large house plants that we were unable to bring with us 9 months ago, and most especially...Beauty.

Beauty has a story...

My Mother had a huge Christmas Cactus for as long as I can remember that bloomed for half a year, every year.  It was her pride and joy.  It sat in a standing brass plant stand, in her living room as long as I can remember, and she only moved it to clean, but then the stand went right back to the same spot.  

Mom's living room window faced south, but her plant was never in the sun.  It sat off to one side where it got plenty of light, but never direct sun.  Every fall Mom would drag her big cactus down to the coldest darkest room in the house( her root cellar) and she would leave it there for a couple of months, pretty much forgotten.  A few weeks before Christmas she would drag it back upstairs, put it in its rightful place and water it, and within a couple of weeks it would be loaded with buds that would bloom for months.

When my Mother passed away 32 years ago, it was in full was March.  I decided I wanted the plant so I took it to my townhouse, set it roughly in the same position in front of my south- facing picture window, and within six weeks it was dead.

I knew everything there was to know about the care of this plant, and I followed it to the letter, but the plant died anyway.

It had been dropping sections before it died, and I potted those tiny pieces... Every one of them.  

They all died as well.... Except one.

And that one is my Beauty!

Over the years Beauty has come to mean just as much to me as my Mother's plant meant to her, so when I had no choice but to leave it behind when we moved, I was heart- sick, and when I saw how sick it looked yesterday, I almost cried.

I could have blamed my son for its poor appearance, had I not experienced almost the very same thing with another plant 32 yrs ago.

So, I gathered my sad Beauty up, shoved her in the car and brought her back home with me.  In actual fact, she was much easier to transport in her wilted state than she would have been 9 months ago when she measured at least 3 ft from side to side.

I started talking to her as soon as I got her in the door, I gave her some water and left her sitting on the island overnight.  This morning she was already starting to respond.

An now at almost noon, she is really starting to look good.

 I don't believe it has anything to do with the care my son gave or didn't give at all, just like the care I gave or didn't give my Mothers plant... It was all about the caregiver.

My moms plant needed her, not me.  My plant needed me, no Jon.  Pure and simple love!

I have done nothing different than Jon did...its just that he is not I.

Welcome Home, Beauty... You are here to stay... 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Yesterday was tree day at our house...after 9 months of dreaming about it, our six half-dead spruce trees were taken out.  I can't say enough positive things about Kevin, the young fellow who worked so hard all day, just he with his partner, the mini backhoe.  He was awesome and we would recommend to anyone needing his type of service.

I have to say, with those trees gone, we are feeling somewhat exposed!  Guess we were more used to living behind those trees than we realized.  It was pretty difficult seeing the TV last evening as well...our living room window faces west, so until the sun went down, it was somewhat bright.  However all that can be fixed with time.  We will plant some trees in front of the house again, just not as close or not as large, I can get different window coverings, or we can think about an awning.

Before (front of the house)

Before in front of the back yard.

After all six trees are removed!

You can see why I would be feeling somewhat exposed! 

During the day there was a constant trail of vehicles parading past the house.  You have to love small towns, something this major brings out the curious.  So many people stopped to chat, about the history of the trees, the history of the house and everyone commented on how they never knew what the front of our house actually looked like.

They will see many more changes happening over the summer months ahead, and perhaps by the time fall approaches our home will no longer be known as the " Stefanishyn House"

If all that wasn't enough excitement for one day, I still had my interview to attend for a position I had applied for weeks ago.  So at 4 pm, I got cleaned up and headed downtown.  The interview went well, they had three candidates to see, but they said they would let me know later this week.

I just came in from working in the yard for lunch and when the phone rang, I knew I had the job.  I start May 1st as the custodian of the town library.  It is 8 hrs a month, and will be a wonderful opportunity to do something for my community, while getting to know some more fellow residents, and give me some pocket change as well.  

I plan to advertise for piano students for fall registration soon as well.  The wonderful thing about retirement, is you can do the things you want to do, when you want to do them. The freedom is so refreshing, after years of dancing to the tune of others!

So now, I am off to head back outside and work in the yard some more.  There is much to do out there, and the weather is beautiful finally...

Monday, April 18, 2016


Our weekend was full of rain and snow - lots of rain and lots of snow.  Thank you Montana - very much for sharing that with us!

While I was chomping at the bit to be outside working in my flowerbeds, that wasn't going to happen - so instead I spent the majority of my weekend up in the studio working on projects that I had yet to finish - and of course creating some more.

I quilted 4 of the mug rugs, and attached the little poem on them, so they are ready to be given as gifts.  They really do look so much better when they are quilted.

Now I am working on a couple more campers, and having so much fun doing so...
  Detailing them is the best part of making them - you can get as creative as you want... or not!  Those are going to be potted plants in the window, when I get around to embroidering the plants!

Still a lot to be done on these before they are finished and ready to be quilted!

This one is for a female musician or singer, and I have the match for it cut out in blue for a male musician or singer. - same top, blue and white stripe bottom for the male.  Terribly cute, don't you think?

The weather is supposed to turn around now, nothing but heat and sunshine in the forecast for the entire upcoming week.  Maybe - just maybe we will be getting our trees cut down today - thanks to the nasty weather it has been postponed three times already.  Hope it can happen today.  So maybe my little campers will have to take second place to the yard - but we will see - it might still be too wet to work out there - and if it is  - I will keep working on campers and such!

At this rate, I will have all my Christmas gifts made by July!  Whoot Whoot!!!

Friday, April 15, 2016


April showers bring May flowers!  Let that please be the truth!  It is raining here, a good steady soaking rain which anything growing in my yard is going to need because the soil in the flowerbeds around my house is bone dry - or it was yesterday!

I did get on my knees for about a couple of hours yesterday, working in the south facing rose garden.  I have six roses that have black rot, and I think they are gone - but I have left them for now.  I admit I know very little about growing roses, so if anyone has anything to share on this matter - please do.

Then I moved over to the other rose bushes in an adjacent bed.  These have fared much better, but then they are still well buried in quack at the roots. I spent an hour clearing the quack away from yet one more rose bush, and as you can see there is hope for this one, at least.  

 I am making progress, just have this quack left and then I will have completed this bed.

This is back-breaking and time-taking work.  On most of the bed I just dug it out with a garden fork, but here in the roses I have to pull and clean it by hand.  The quack root system is entwined with the roses and it is tedious work.  That one rose bush took almost an hour to clean around.

I have to say, even though I dislike quack with a passion - I do enjoy being out there on my hands and knees on a warm spring day, digging in the earth, finding treasures like the tiniest snake skull, listening to the Gold Finches and the Robins singing for all the world to hear, and talking to the plants.

Oh the things I tell them!

In yesterday's case there were apologies given, and promises made.  I am one who believes that plants respond to communication through speech.  I have heard so many people say that I can grow anything, or that I have a green thumb - not true at all folks.

A lot of the time I am the most ignorant of gardeners - but what I lack in knowledge, I make up for in love of the beauty that I might be encouraging; patience - which isn't always easy; and speech - I always talk to my plants - whether they be indoors or outside in the garden.

If there be a secret to growing things - that would be mine!

I can hear the rain pounding on the roof now - so I guess it is safe to say the rain has changed to a downpour.  Don't really need that much water - but it is what it is.  Spring IS here, and I have proof...

Tomato's, Rhubarb, Tulips, and I think Echinacea that was just a root when I found it tangled in some quack I pulled a few weeks ago - I knew the root was something other than quack, but didn't know what it might be until I potted it and it grew to a leaf I could recognize -  now I know....  A perennial saved!  Wonder what colour it will be when it grows up?

I also have lavender, Rosemary and Lemon Balm growing in pots - and ginger, from that little nub that started all on it's own...

So let the rains come - then let the grass grow green and tall, and the flowers stretch to the sun and produce beautiful blooms... and leave the dandelions of spring for our bees - they need this first food of spring - some wildflowers waving in the wind wouldn't hurt them either -

Thursday, April 14, 2016


These sure have been busy days for me.  I have completed all the painting in the basement family room and surrounding areas, and now I am just in the process of decorating, hanging pictures and adding personal touches that speak my name.  

I have spent very little time in the family room since we have been in this house, but now it will be an area that will be wonderful to spend time in and entertain friends and family in.  I look forward to that!

Our basement is a weird space, there are several areas that could be used for many interesting things besides the family room itself...I painted these areas as I just need to decide what purpose they will take.

Yesterday was so warm outside so Gary and I emptied out the shed to get it ready to be moved.  We fixed the broken BBQ, which has been taking up idle space in the shed since we have moved here, and I marked off the new location for the shed so there will be no questions needed when the time comes to move it!

I really wanted to spend some time on my knees in my flower gardens, but I had an upset tummy, so instead I painted the breezeway between the house and the garage....yes this too will be decorated into a " space"!

I did manage a walk around the flower gardens and I am alarmed to see black rot on most of the rose bushes.  I am heading out there soon to investigate further.  All the bushes were in very bad shape and I did cut them back last season in hopes to get them to come back from the root better.  I have new soil arriving next week to add to these beds so maybe if I work hard enough and give them the love and care they have been missing for years, I can coax them back to health!

We are expecting heavy rains over the next few days, but after that sunny warm weather.  I have mapped out my gardening plan for the next 6 weeks or so, and if I can accomplish half of what I mean to do...i most likely will walking with the aid of a cane, or in traction!

I am kidding, of course....I hope!  But are a lot of changes going to happen on our property this year... The challenge for me will be to keep in mind, that it might not all get done as quickly as I want it too.  I have a very bad habit of pushing myself to exhaustion until something is completed.

I will try to remember that I am retired and have time to enjoy my tasks and just enjoy who I am and where I am...

Did I tell you, that I applied for a job, and have an interview next Monday?

Another note to self, coming right up!

Monday, April 11, 2016


We had a crazy weekend.  The craziness started on Friday morning, when I went into the bathroom to wash my hands.   When I shut the tap off, all of a sudden the pipes in the sink and toilet started shaking and pounding and making a horrible noise - and the water wasn't even on.

Gary rushed in and turned the water line off coming into the bathroom and then turned it back on again, and everything seemed fine - until he went downstairs.

I don't know what made him go into the closet in the spare room where the water meter is, but I am so very happy he did - a main pipe had burst and water was shooting everywhere.

We put a call into the plumber - (who think we need to put on speed dial - we have called him so much of late)-he came and replaced the pipe, flushed out the system, and all was fixed.

Saturday morning we got up early - I was on a mission to finish painting the basement family room and get that all put back together again before nice weather hits - and when I went into the bathroom - there was no water.

About an hour later there was a trickle, so I quickly washed my hair and had a bath and just as I was finishing the water went out again.

This was the big weekend in our town.  The Maple Syrup Festival was going on in venues all over town, and also at the Country Club across the highway and a little up the mountain.  When we called the emergency number for the Municipality we were told that there was a major water main break, and the whole town was without water.

We were without water all day until just before supper time.

And then there was the Snow!  We had the second and maybe even the third and fourth Alberta Clipper pass through here since late last week, and the strong gusty winds to go with it.  Thankfully most of the snow melted as it hit the ground.  Except the stuff that fell overnight last night.  We woke up to bright sunshine this morning - and everything covered in white!

And it's cold out there too,  This is more February weather, than April!  So much for the idea of spring!

I have plenty of inside work, so I went back to my painting project in the basement family room - it is looking pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.  I can't wait to decorate that space, and hopefully, finally, we will be inclined to sit a spell in our cozy pretty room!

I also found a few minutes to make a Doily Doll.  I had seen one on Pinterest awhile ago and saved it to my doll board, and then forgot about it.  I was browsing through there on Saturday morning, saw it again, and decided to make one of my own.  First I had to crochet a doily - which I did...

Here is my first little Doily Doll.  There are a couple of things I might do differently the next time, but for a first effort, I think I can be pleased with her.

Saturday marked a full month without my Molly.  I realized that I have not gone for a walk since she has been gone.  Today I am starting back on my walks - gonna take my camera along to talk to as I walk - or maybe I will just talk to myself ( wouldn't be the first time).  Molly would want me to get walking - we enjoyed our walking time together so much - but it has become the one thing I have avoided since she has been gone.  I might have to wear those snow boots - but I will be walking today.

So time to get this day started!  Have a good one!

Thursday, April 7, 2016


SO - there must be a brilliant saying somewhere about intentions - I know there is, I have heard it - but don't care to remember it at the moment.

For starters, I am looking out my window from my desk upstairs in my attic, and I need sunglasses.  The bright white SNOW is glaring me in the face from the sun room roof, right outside my window.  Do you recall my post last week about working so hard in the garden and loving every minute of it?

Just a memory now...

This is such a let down, on so many levels.  We were supposed to have our 6 pine trees removed yesterday - and the big old crocked cement step to the back door as well.  The young fella was bringing me 2 yards of top soil, and he was going to remove all the soil from the area where the pine trees were and put nice new soil from his property on it for me.  I was even going to try and sweet-talk him into moving my shed the few feet I need it to be moved.

No wonder I am in a funk!

Here I sit staring at a glaring bright white roof, and I have no blinds to pull.  Gonna have to get Gary to put the mini blinds back up on this window.

"ACH"!  Is all I have to say!  That is a direct quote from my Auntie Annie - Bless her Soul, she always made me chuckle when she did that!

So because I was in a complete funk, and flat- out refused to put on my snow boots, I didn't go to the Re-opening of the Uniques and Antiques shop yesterday.  So There!  I showed em all, and spent the majority of my day wallowing in my self-pity on Pinterest!

I did sort my material scraps into piles according to colour, and they are all neatly ready waiting on the little bed in the nook in case I should get the itch to make more mug rugs!

This morning I got out of bed at 7am, had breakfast and headed up to my studio.  I have been doing all the hand stitched embroidery on the mug rugs that were waiting, so now I have 7 ready to be quilted, which I will do just as soon as I post this piece.

What got me going?

There is nothing that gets me out of a funk quicker than hearing that a friend is having difficulty in some way.  This particular friend is a fellow craft buddy and doll collector, who suffers severe back pain.  I want to do something special for her, so where else would I head - but to the studio!

I am just realizing that perhaps I have discovered one of the reasons that I have always been able to weather things so well - I worked in the medical field for over 40 years - I saw people worse off than myself every day... it kept me focused, not on myself - but on others.  This might also be the reason I enjoy my time playing for the residents at the nursing home here so much - I am focused on their happiness - not my own.

This past month, I have only focused on my own self - my grief over loosing my precious Molly  - which was major to me, but I haven't weathered this loss well at all - because my thoughts have been on myself.

So - note to self - Focus more on others, and less on myself...GOT IT!

And I know just the right place to start!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


I have been avoiding my craft room since Easter weekend.  Not sure why that is, but I go up there, turn on the lights, walk around in a daze, turn off the lights and head downstairs.

I think it might have something to do with having too many projects started and not finished.  This is my flaw.  I start something, and while I am doing that, my mind is on two or three more of a different variation of what I started, and then my mind adds different ideas - expands and expands until I am way beyond what I originally started.

This is what has happened to the applique quilt projects that I had started.  I started with one small wall hanging for my main floor guest room - then I discovered mug rugs - I started with one free pattern and from there went to many many more patterns of my own that I designed from colouring books.  I have at least 14 cut out and piled on my cutting table - 7 or eight that need a little embroidery, and 3 ready to be quilted.

And fabric on every surface of my upstairs craft area... so much so - that I am repelled by it all!

So my mind switches to primitive work.  Primitive sheep, primitive signs, primitive everything!  I go to Pinterest - and it begins anew...

Oh boy oh boy - I am my own worst enemy!

What to do?

Well for starters I have to clean up fabric everywhere, and put it away.  Then maybe I should go back to January's stitching projects which are in a cabinet in the sun room on the main floor.

Good plan - I am going to go back to January and work my way forward...

Trouble is the first next nice spring day - and I will be outside again and forget all about any kind of indoor projects.

But first - I have to check out the newly re-opened Uniques and Antiques shop in town - today!  The owner has been posting pictures of her inventory on her Face Book page all week... yup  - gonna go there today.

Then I will go back to January... or not!

Friday, April 1, 2016


Happy April Fool's Day!  If you play a joke on someone today - make it a nice one!

I want to continue with the Repurpose Friday Posts this week, and this week I am focusing my finds on Repurposing ideas that can be done by and with children.

So many of my friends have grandchildren that love to do crafts - so this was my inspiration today.

But first I want to show you the horrendous quack roots I was struggling with a day or so ago.  My aches still have not disappeared, thanks to this lot.  I am happy to say that after I finish cleaning one more large flower bed, I should have rid all the gardens on the property of this nuisance - at least for the time being.  I am not naive enough to believe they will stay gone, but I won't be letting them take control of my garden as was the case here before we moved in.

So, now on to RePurpose Friday for the kids.  Hope there is something here that all the Mom's and Grandparents can use to while away a rainy afternoon with the kids - and have something hand-made to treasure for days to come.

Here we go....


I love these sun catchers, simply made with only three things - in fact if I can find the clear Elmers Glue, I am making some of these for my own garden.  These would be perfect for Mother's Day.

Next up  -Adorable planters made from Pop bottles.  Adults would have to cut the bottles, but the kids could do the rest... adorable!

Here's another item for Mom or Grandma's Garden made from things you can find around the house, except maybe the wood slice - but I am sure that Grandmas everywhere could be creative and use something else as a substitute for the wood slice if they didn't have one lying around.  Another adorable project!

This super project could be so much fun - dollar store frames would be perfect for this one.

Some markers, some old CD's and some string - Voila!  So pretty!

And last but not least - Every Mom or Grandma needs some of these in her kitchen - you never know when you will need to clamp aside a curtain - or better yet - these would make a great bookmark...


and remember -

The smile on your face is the light in the window
That tells people that you are home.