Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A VERY RAMBLING MIND - IS MINE!

Can you believe it is only 5 months until Christmas?  Hard to believe when we are smack dab in the middle of a hot summer, days of extreme temperatures and humidity.  Days when we are also smack dab in the middle of gardening season, watching tiny pumpkins coming on long vines, watching tomatoes on the vine turning from green to yellow, and then turning some more to deep red.  Days of watching robins speeding through the yard, and bees working tirelessly on plants and flowers that we will forget all about when they are buried under 6 feet of snow.

How privileged we are to be able to think this way, and to say such things.

Our fast paced lives have helped us forget about such things as the wonders of our seasons, and the things we will remember about them, and the things we will forget about them.  This is one thing that I have come to realize this past year.  Life gets so crazy that we forget much of what can truly make us happy - give us joy.

I am seeing this through my son's eyes this week.

He is a typical urban dwelling man.  He works full time as a teacher at a trades and technical college, teaching technical, architectural and commercial drafting to his students.  He uses the public transportation system everywhere he goes.  Even though he owns a home and a yard, his focus in life is technology.  He is very much into the cyber world and everything that goes along with it.

We pretty much forced him to come out and visit us for a few weeks in the country.  We played on his sympathies like only parents can do to their children - whining that we have not been able to see him much in the past year, telling him how very much we have missed him... you know the drill.

All true on our part, and I am sure on his as well  - and it worked -  he agreed to come out for a visit, and so he did.

What I have seen unfolding in him, is what I felt unfolding in me this past year.  The first few days he was still attached to his computer, but now he is out walking around the town.  He has latched on to my camera, so when he is on the computer now, it is more to edit the photos he has taken than to connect with social media.  His phone is no longer prominently in sight everywhere he goes.

He is excited about the huge bumble bees he sees in my garden, and has spent hours sitting outside on a chair with my tripod and camera set up watching and waiting for the best shot of one to catch and take home with him.

He is walking through the garden, asking the names of the plants.  He is seeking birds nests, and watching the sky overhead for hawks, owls, and birds other than the ones he sees in the city.



He is taking some awesome pictures, and remembering that there is a whole other way of life, that he once was very familiar with, but had grown away from.


And he is feeling the privilege of letting the world around him sink into his psyche, leaving him calm, content and happy.

He is asking to visit extended family, he is embracing his roots, his heritage, his life - and I am thankful to see that just a few days spent away from his life in the city, can recharge his mind, his heart and his creativity so profoundly.

However did I get from Christmas - to this?












Monday, July 25, 2016

HEY IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK HOME AGAIN!

Happy Monday, everyone!  I am back after a week spent mostly in Winnipeg at our son's home ( formerly our home).  It was kind of weird sleeping in my old house again, but nice all at the same time.  We were in the city for 4 days, and the time flew by.  Shopping, shopping and more shopping - which I found tiring.  I got to every place on my list, but the fabric store - that I will check out in another week or so when we go back.

We helped our son with a few chores around the house - repair kind of things, and then we all packed up and returned out here to the country.

Jonathan is enjoying spending time out here, and is relaxing and catching up on some much needed rest, but soon he and Gary will be doing some repairs to our home, so his rest will be over.

I came back to an out of control garden  - I can't believe how things grew and produced in 4 days!  The beans are ready - I picked 4 gallons the first night we were back - and froze them all - and today I think there will be another 4 gallons ready.  Tomatoes are turning red, zucchini is going crazy, carrots and beets are almost edible size, and the lettuce and spinach have gone to seed.

Last night we had fresh potatoes for supper.  I know for some, that's not a big deal - but it is the first time I have grown potatoes, so its a huge deal to me.  This was last nights supper... along with fresh farmers sausage... yum!


It looks like I will be kept busy with my garden from now on.

My garden is not the only change around here.  The Canola fields are in full bloom and haying has begun.  Everywhere you look you see round bales!

Jonathan was looking for something to do, so I handed him my SLR.  I fear I may never see it again!  I gave him some very basic instructions - the main one was to try and use the camera on full manual mode to get used to using his brain instead of the camera's brain.  
He is having a blast with it, and I think he has developed the photography hobby bug.

His pictures are really good too - I will be sharing some of them over the next days.  You will get to see what we see everyday - my new cover photo is one he took yesterday...

So for now, it's good to be back - 

We are heading into Neepawa today to do some grocery shopping, and to visit an aunt in the hospital.  A nice day for a drive in the country...

More later...



Friday, July 15, 2016

ALL THE THINGS THAT MAKE UP A DAY!

I am going to be taking a bit of a break from posting for a week or so.  Our son is coming out to stay with us for a couple of weeks, so I have some things I need to concentrate on to get ready for his visit.

We haven't been able to spend a lot of time with Jon since we moved to the country, so this will be a real treat for us all.

Gary has some chores lined up that he needs Jon's help with, but we also plan to spend some of the 2 weeks touring the mountain area around here as well.

We don't want to fill all our days - Jon needs to unwind and experience the peaceful country vibe after a very hectic and stressful year, but no matter what we do or don't do - it will just be plain wonderful to spend some quality family time again.

Today is our first year anniversary of living in the country - its a day to celebrate, a day to be thankful  - but it also is the first day of my dear friend Sharon's chemo.  She would rather me be joyful than sad - that's her way - but I am sad for her anyway.  Sharon if you read this - You know how very much I love you - I wish I could pop over to sit with you while you get your first chemo treatment today.

It's also another day of treatment for little Thomas.  He is such a little trooper.  His treatments continue - he has good days and not so good days, but his blood is responding, and his results are already showing improvement.  We hope and pray that his good progress continues without him having too many of those not-so- good-days!

Thomas and Sharon remind me of one of the real reasons we now live where we do.

There are many who wonder and perhaps just don't understand why someone quits work and retires before 60, perhaps giving up a larger pension than someone who works longer.  They don't understand someone turning away from a life that they think is optimum, maybe for one they believe will be substandard due to the lack of conveniences.  These people think in terms of money and acquisitions... big vacations... things...

Life isn't about those things to me anymore - hasn't been for over 10 years.  Life is about living everyday to the fullest, in contentment, in happiness, in peace.

We weren't living that life a year ago - but we are now.  Sure we still have aggrievations - but we don't have stress.  Yes we have down days, but our down days happen when the weather is not co-operating with our want and need to be outside - not by the realization that no matter how hard we are working we just can't seem to make a difference anywhere in our lives.

Futility or the feeling of futility has no existence here.  We are not rich - but we also are no longer worried about not being rich.  We have what we need - we have enough!

Ten years ago I didn't even know if I would be here today.  Sharon and Thomas know that thought... they and those who love them would give anything to wipe that thought from their minds.  I would have given anything 10 years ago to wipe that thought from my mind.

For some reason - I was given that second chance... and the lessons I learned then have now given me this third chance.

I hope no one has to wait for the day when the thought that is running through Sharon and Thomas' minds comes -  before they have the will to live everyday to the fullest, in contentment, in happiness and in peace.

Stay well everyone - talk to you soon!




Thursday, July 14, 2016

REPURPOSING - DALE STYLE!

It's not Repurposing Friday - but I had to do a little repurposing of my own...

I did a really stupid thing - I know - that's extremely hard to believe - but it's true!

A few months ago, I was in my move-things-around mode, and I decided to move my spinning wheel down to the family room in the basement for awhile.  I can't use it as the spindle part is being repaired so I decided that the family room would be a good place to store it until such time as it could be workable.

Instead of removing the wheel itself, I lifted the whole thing by the body, and started down the basement stairs.  About halfway down the wheel came loose and decided to make a quicker trip down the staircase by itself - bouncing merrily down every step and crashing into the cement basement wall at the bottom, before doing a fancy spin and falling to the carpet.

My heart sank as I watched it roll away from me.  When I finally caught up with the wheel, I noticed that a small part had broken when the wheel hit the wall.  In actual fact, I was pretty surprised that the whole thing didn't just fall apart.  It's an old wheel - but obviously stronger than I thought.

I found a spot in the family room and left it there - sort of out of sight, out of mind.

Yesterday I was moving my jungle of plants around in the sun room, I needed something to put a plant on by the window, and I have no spare small tables.

Then I got a repurposing brain wave!

Down I went into the basement, and up the stairs went the spinning wheel - in two parts of course.

It fits my plan perfectly in the sun room for now.



 You can see the part on the wheel at the bottom that broke in the fall.  This repair I can do myself, and I will do it, when the rest of the parts return, but for now my wheel will add a little country charm to my sun room.


This room is by far my most favourite room in the house - except for the kitchen, oh - and of course my studio!  





Wednesday, July 13, 2016

THE WOW FACTOR!

On Friday we will have lived in our new home and town for a year!  It really seems like we have been here much longer than that at times, but a year it's been.

It has been a busy year around here.  We have painted almost the entire interior of our home, added some things, taken some things away... spent the majority of our time when we could, working on the yard and property itself.  

Now we are ready to concentrate on the exterior of our home.

I have waffled back and forth for a year on "the look" I want for the exterior.  Our home is stucco, built in the 1940's.  It is classified as a bungalow with a finished attic - but I would call it a story and a half, because it has three full windows in the attic portion of the house.

As far as "character" or curb appeal goes, I would say it has none.  Good thing we bought the home, cause it's gonna get some!

I have finally decided on the colours for the exterior - and I am afraid, once again The Graumann's are going to shake things up.

My first thought was to go yellow, like we did with our sweet little home in Winnipeg.  This house originally looked much like our current home when we bought it - off-white(dirty) stucco - brown trim.... boring!  We painted it a bright yellow with white trim and it came alive!  I always wanted to give it a blue front door, but never got around to it!


I decided against a yellow house this time - our new house deserves something totally new, so new it will be.

Here are the colours I have chosen...

The stucco will be the green/grey colour, the trim the beige, and the doors the rusty red.


Because there is not much detail on the exterior of our home, I am thinking about making and adding shutters to the two picture windows on the west side and on the south sides of the house.  I won't go with the traditional style slatted shutters, but instead a more country style such as this... and they would perhaps be painted yet another contrast colour ...










Might be cute to add some window boxes as well! But I don't think I will go that far!


We will probably give the locals one more winter's grace before shocking them out of their comfort zone - Gary wants to replace eaves, downspouts and the garage roof this summer - but next spring - well I can't wait to start to WOW my house!

The honeymoon period is over - we are here to stay... watch out town!











Tuesday, July 12, 2016

THE SHED IS DEAD!

The saga of the shed - is dead!

Friday night our helpful man Kevin and his helper stopped over and moved our shed back to it's original position.

No easy task either!  I had planted a flower bed on either side of the shed, I was willing to sacrifice one side bed, but not the other.  When they started to drag the shed with a quad, it got hung up on the three wheelbarrow loads full of earth that I filled the flower bed on one side with.  It created quite a mess, and no end of frustration to all of us who were trying to do something we didn't want to do in the first place.



You can see how our privacy has vanished - for now!  We have to get the dead grass growing again, and I already dug up three shoots of the Karaganda hedge and replanted them.  The idea now is to extend the hedge and even bring it around a bit beside the driveway.  This week I will work on creating a small garden beside the shed, and I think we will move our park bench there as well.  I have to move my nicely established morning glories as well, as they no longer have anything to climb on with the shed and the trellis moved.

So more changes ahead - I didn't really need another project - but I got one anyway - guess you could say I have found some more opportunity to burn off some more of those unwanted calories!

It has been a disappointment for sure - but it's not the end of the world - and I still love it here.  A couple of whiny people will not kill my enthusiasm for living the small town life.  I have more up my sleeve for them to gripe about - but this time they will not be able to do anything about my property upgrades.  I'm learning -  one disappointment at a time!

I haven't been able to do much outside since Friday so this morning I am heading out to fix the mess.  I am going to enlarge the one little flower bed into sort of a half-moon shape, and build something for the remaining morning glories to climb on  - at least for the rest of this season.  Then I really need go and tackle the area around the shed where it sits now.

Hoping the rain will hold off for the rest of the morning so I can get something done outside.

 The next pictures will look better...







Monday, July 11, 2016

BAD WEEK -- LETS MOVE ON!

I sure am hoping that this week is going to be a lot more uplifting than last week was.  I am praying for no more bad news.  Instead - sunny skies, calm seas, fresh breezes, and lots and lots of love to everyone, everywhere.

One of my oldest and dearest friends is facing cancer again for the 4th time in her life.  She has been cancer free for 4 years, but it is back now and she will be starting chemo treatments this week.  My heart is breaking for her and her husband as they prepare to go through this, yet again.

So please - no one else get sick...

All this cancer talk has deepened my conviction that I need to get healthier myself.  I am a cancer survivor - I know I need to keep myself healthy to stay cancer-free, but I have become complacent.  My thyroid has quit working, so I have gained a lot of weight - that is being corrected, but I don't exercise enough, and since being out here, I have convinced myself that it's okay to eat all the great baking I am doing because I am working it off outside.

I may be working harder than I used to - a form of exercise?  I doubt it -  but I gotta get back on track with my appetite.

I have the best opportunity to eat healthy growing in my yard right now.  Talk about healthy - here it is!

            

Saturday night I decided to make a Zucchini quiche for supper, with a side of salad.  It was delicious, filling - and healthy!


I make my quiche in the microwave.  Seriously - it is so easy and so good, you will never bake one again!

I made a recipe for a double pie crust, and baked it in the quiche dish, and this is the recipe for the quiche I use.

ZUCCHINI QUICHE

2 cups grated unpeeled Zucchini
chopped fresh parsley
chopped fresh garlic chives.

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 eggs
3/4 cup light cream or evaporated milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder.

I added some garlic powder instead of onion powder, and some black pepper.


Bake pastry shell as desired - set aside.

Lightly mix zucchini, chives, parsley.  Place in baked pastry shell, top with cheese.

Combine eggs, light cream, salt, onion powder and pour over zucchini filling.

Cook in  microwave, Level 5, for 12-14 minutes or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean.


I have made this same recipe using salmon instead of zucchini - use 2 cups salmon, drained.  Add 1/2 cup sliced olives for a nice flavour.

This is a lovely light supper, and my family love it!

Yeah - real men DO eat quiche and enjoy it!


I am sorely tempted to bake a zucchini loaf, but for now - the fresh zucchini will be used as a meal ingredient, instead of a baking ingredient - I swear it!







Friday, July 8, 2016

A GO FUND ME FOR THOMAS, AND A YUMMY RECIPE FOR YOU!

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has sent their prayers for Thomas.  All your positive thoughts and prayers are so appreciated.

By now things are starting to sink in and reality is being realized by my niece and her family.  Thomas is in the best of hands and will be receiving wonderful care, but he will have a very long hard journey ahead of him, as will my niece Alanna, and her family.



That is why there has been a go- fund- me site set up to help support Thomas' battle with leukemia and the financial burden this family will face with Thomas' treatments being so far away from home.  If you should wish to help, any and all help is greatly appreciated.

Link to Thomas' go fund me...

https://www.gofundme.com/2d6bjx8

Thank You for your help!

...

I promised you a really great recipe yesterday... if I can find some wild Saskatoons before they are all gone, I am trying this one...  if you can't find Saskatoons, any summer berry would do with this one...

enjoy!

Saskatoon Berry Cream Cheese Crumb Cake

Crumb layer

1 1/2  C  brown sugar
1 1/2  C  flour
1 C  rolled oats
1 1/2  tsp cinnamon
2/3  C  vegetable oil


Berry layer

5  C fresh Saskatoons ( or blueberries)
1/3  C water
2  tbsp lemon juice
3/4  C white sugar
2  tbsp flour

Cream Cheese Layer

1 (4oz) package of cream cheese diced



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Whisk brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups flour, oats, and cinnamon together in a bowl; gradually stir in oil until mixture is crumbly. Press half the crumb mixture into the prepared pan; set remaining crumbs aside for topping.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until firm, about 10 minutes. Remove crust from oven and cool slightly, leaving oven on.
  4. Place saskatoons and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes; stir in lemon juice. Whisk white sugar and 2 tablespoons flour together in a small bowl; stir sugar mixture into berries and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes; pour berry filling over crumb crust.
  5. Sprinkle cream cheese pieces evenly over berry filling. Spread remaining crumb mixture over cream cheese layer and press gently with a potato masher.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until crumb topping is golden and filling is bubbly, about 40 minutes.








Thursday, July 7, 2016

SASKATOON BERRY CREAM CHEESE CRUMB CAKE

For the past few days I have been hearing and seeing friends and family members heading out to the road allowances of our beautiful prairie region to pick Saskatoons.  Some have shared pictures of their muffins and pies, and there have been a few pretty amazing recipes show up on social media sites as well.

If you did not grow up on the Canadian Prairies and experience the joy of walking around with purple lips and teeth - then you have missed something rare and wonderful indeed!

Saskatoons grow wild around my neck of the woods, and while they are harder to find than when I was a child - they still exist, if you don't mind spending a day or so scouting around to find them.

To say they are worth the effort is a complete understatement.  If you have ever had a slice of Saskatoon pie with vanilla ice-cream on it - you would agree with me whole-heartedly!

Lucky for me, I have a Saskatoon bush growing right in my yard.  I have been caring for it since spring, babying it along, tending to it like a mother hen with a prized chick.  It was almost dead when we moved in here a year ago - but this spring it was covered with blossoms and I was excited to see that I might have improved it's chances for producing some edible fruit this year.

The blossoms produced lots of berries setting on, and since May I have been watching and waiting for the berries to grow and mature, and ripen.

Last week they were starting to turn red, but they have to get darker than that, so I decided to wait a few more days.

Today I grabbed my ice-cream pail and headed outside to start my harvest, with visions of the Saskatoon Berry Cream Cheese Crumb Cake recipe that my cousin Lorraine posted on Face Book clearly imprinted in my memory.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words - you can imagine my conversation while standing there looking at my tree!


They didn't even leave me enough for a cupcake!  


No wonder I can't hear myself think for birdsong in my yard!  And here I thought they liked ME!  Apparently they like my berries more!

Well no Saskatoon Berry Cream Cheese Crumb Cake for me this year...

Darn!



look for the recipe here tomorrow....




Wednesday, July 6, 2016

WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS!



We all have experienced an event in our lives that has knocked us for a loop.  Life is hard for many people - tragedies happen, and we have become accustomed to watching and hearing about those tragedies without it hitting us personally.  But then the unthinkable happens, it hits home to someone we love, and all of a sudden we are experiencing that which we have watched before with someone else.  
We are never really ready for the day when the "unthinkable" happens because there is no way to prepare for some the things that are truly unthinkable.


Sunday night, my niece took her young son to the hospital because he had a fever which even with medication was not going down.  The hospital began running some tests, and they discovered that his blood count was very low.  More tests followed overnight and before noon on Monday my niece Alanna and her son were being air-ambulanced to Vancouver Children's Hospital several hundred miles away. 



Before they left the hospital in Kelowna, he was given a blood transfusion.  When he arrived in Vancouver he had two more, and a bone marrow tap to test for leukemia.  The unthinkable had already happened, but no one knew it, until late yesterday afternoon.

Thomas has been diagnosed with ALL - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  He had his first chemo treatment yesterday and will continue treatment for 3 years.  The next 6-8 months of treatment will be very intense, and he will not be able to return home to his family and his life anytime in the foreseeable future.  Even when he is not receiving chemo, he will have to stay in the Vancouver area close to the hospital.

...

Thomas was born during a time in my life when my future was very uncertain.  I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and was waiting to find out what treatments I would have to have.  Along came Thomas, and thanks to my incredible loving niece who bombarded my inbox with pictures and stories of her new baby, Thomas became my focus through a very difficult time. 

This sweet little face got me through the worst days of my life, and in my heart he became my Hope Baby!


Thomas is now 9 yrs old, he is a normal active child.  He loves hockey, his dog Buddy, his brother and sister and all his family.  


He is sweet, kind, good, and now he is also brave.  

Children have a spirit that adults no longer possess.  They can endure much more than we believe they can - and they can become our heros... Thomas will always be my Hope Baby, but now he is also my Hero.

It will not be an easy three years for Thomas or his family.  I cannot even imagine the trials this family will go through - but they have a lot of love behind them with faithful family and friends.  My niece is a strong, beautiful an incredible woman and mother - she will move through this journey like she does with everything else she has faced in her life - with grace, love, strength and determination.

And when she falters - we will be there to pick her up, hold her close in our arms and move her along in the right direction.


Please keep my little Hope Baby and Hero in your hearts and prayers.





A go-fund-me has been started to help support Thomas' fight against leukemia.  If you wish to help please click on the link below.  Any and all support is greatly appreciated.

https://www.gofundme.com/2d6bjx8

Thank You!