Friday, May 26, 2017

A STONE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS!

The "Shed" garden... new garden created last year.  Sweet Peas for the trellis are just popping out of the ground!

Vegetable Garden planted.


What was I doing before all this garden stuff happened?  I feel like I am going on vacation now that so much of the spring yard work is done.  I still will spend as much time outside as I can every day, but it's time to think about all the other things I was doing before spring hit.

Crafting comes to mind.  Even when I was out in the yard, crafting was never far from my mind.  Because I had never tilled my garden myself, I never realized how many stones were in that big garden.  As I tilled up pebbles, stones and yes even some rocks I started to pick them up and put them in a pail.  It took minutes for the pail to be full to the top.  I also found bits of glass - the prairie version  of sea glass - SOIL GLASS.  All this went into a pile.

I started making a stone border around the garden thinking maybe it would deter good old quack from creeping into the garden, and I finished one side of the garden in just hours.  And still I pick stones.

Do you ever wonder where they all come from?  I do.

Most of the stones I have picked are smooth, lots of different shapes and some pretty interesting colours... and of course when you wet them - better colours yet.  I feel the need to do something creative with them, just as I used to do with the stones I collected from the beach at the lake.  I made families of ducks, people, even a dog... I would fashion my figures together with epoxy, then put a shiny coat of sealant on top of it all.  My Mom had those little figures all over the house.  I don't know whatever became of them, but they were something I loved to do about 50 yrs ago.

Imagine my surprise, when I wandered onto Pinterest one evening and found hundreds of just such figures being made and sold  - some for over 100.00 !

I guess the saying holds - "Everything old becomes new again".

I find that a lot on Pinterest.  People claiming they created something new - when really the same craft was done in the 1970's by people long gone.

I am waiting to see someone create flowers out of fun fur and say they thought the idea up themselves, then I will laugh myself right off my rocking chair.  ( My Mom made fun fur flowers for just about everyone she knew in the 1970's).

So back to the stones - no I am not going to make figures - well maybe I will make a dog in the likeness of my Molly - to sit on my desk, just for me.

But I am going to go back out there and sift through those stones again, and really look at them with my creative eye this time... maybe something will hit me.


Have a Happy weekend

Till next time....




Thursday, May 25, 2017

A TREAT FOR A DAYS HARD WORK!

The vegetable garden is in.  It took me two fairly solid days to get it planted, but I managed to finish it and a still had some energy left to plant some bedding plants around the flowerbeds as well, before last night's rain fell.

I am pleased with myself this year as I took the time to really plan out everything I wanted to plant in the vegetable garden - not like last year where I just kind of thew a bunch of things in the garden and hoped for the best.

Vegetable gardening is all about eating.  My parents always had big vegetable gardens and I grew up eating fresh vegetables all summer long and then as good as fresh for the remainder of the year.  I had forgotten the difference in real fresh from the garden and fresh from the grocery store.  Believe me, there is a difference.

I froze a lot of vegetables last fall and even those were better - more flavourful than any you could buy in the store, and I am sure loaded with much more food value than those processed in big plants across the country.

We are just now finishing up the vegetables I froze last fall.  If this years garden produces as good as last year, I will be more than happy.

As a reward for a good couple of days work completed, we had our first "fresh from the garden" treat of this season last night for dessert.... Rhubarb Crisp.







It was so refreshing, so tasty that I can't wait for dessert tonight!

Rhubarb is loaded with nutrients and vitamins, the best being Iron.  Some just don't like it, but I would wager even if you don't like rhubarb, you would love this dessert.  It is sweet but still has enough tang to make it refreshing.  If you can get your hands on some fresh rhubarb, give it a try.


Rhubarb Crisp

4 cups fresh rhubarb
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix these ingredients together in a bowl and pour into a glass baking dish

Topping:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup rolled oats (oatmeal)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

mix together and sprinkle over the rhubarb mixture.

Place in a heated  375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until topping starts to turn brown.


Bon Appetite!



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I FINALLY DID IT!

Canada's 150th birthday is July 1st.  To  commemorate her birthday, a special tulip was designed and created that when open resembles a flame, or a maple leaf - ( there are two versions of the description for this flower).

Last fall, thanks to my cousin Debbie, I managed to snag a box of bulbs.  There were supposed to be 25 in the box, but all I could salvage was 16 bulbs, and none of them were that good.

 A lot of the bulbs were powder, but I planted them anyway, hoping for the best.

I have never had good luck growing tulips.  My former neighbour Elaine is the tulip growing queen of Canada I am sure, I wish you could see her yard at this time of the year.  Over the years she has given me really good advice and lots of encouragement , but even so, my tulips either never had a bloom, or didn't show up at all!

So when I planted these rather sad bulbs, I was kind of thinking that really I wouldn't be too surprised or disappointed if they didn't grow.

But low and behold leaves popped out the ground this spring, and soon after I could see the flower buds in the center of every plant.  They stayed that way for a long time, and slowly the stem started pushing the bud up, but the stem remained very short short, so I was still skeptical.

I got out the picture from the advertisement of the bulbs and noticed a couple of things.  First the leaves in the ad had a white stripe down them.  Mine did not.  Secondly the flowers in the add were white and red... mine looked like they were going to be yellow and burgundy.

So I waited and watched some more.

Yesterday I was walking past the bed they are in and I had to stop and stare.   Overnight the stems seemed to have stretched, and almost every one of the tulips were open.  A few of the flowers appear as if they are looking around a corner... but they are there.

So back in the house for the camera I went.

This is the image on the box that I bought.


and here are my tulips.


I was prepared not to like them, but turns out that I do love them.  Maybe they are different than the picture on the box, but I can see the flame, or the maple leaf ( which ever version of the description you want to believe) and I am happy with them.  I hope in the years to come that they get stronger, multiply and get more beautiful with each year.

But for now, I can look at them with a smile and a certain amount of pride, that finally I seem to have been successful in growing some tulips.

Happy Birthday Canada!

So Proud to call you home!






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY WISH!

Today is a very special person's birthday.  Happy Birthday Colleen!

Colleen is one of the sweetest people I know, and lucky for me she is also my cousin -  our Dad's were brothers.  We didn't grow up close, like I did with some of my other cousins -  we really only saw each other a handful of times over our childhood years, and then not much at all until just a few years ago.  We connected with each other at a family reunion and have kept in touch ever since.  I am always amazed at how very much alike we are.

Colleen and her husband Cam live about 40 minutes away from us, up in the Riding Mountains.  They have a beautiful place off the beaten path where one can really appreciate all that mother nature has to offer.

They invited us up to spend a day with them at their farm just before Easter, and it was an experience like non other.  It was a mild end of March day, the snow was melting, but the scenery on the way up the mountain was so beautiful.  I kept telling Gary over and over again how I couldn't imagine how beautiful the drive would be when everything was green, because even with snow, the images were wonderful.

We found their place and turned up a long plank fence lined drive to the most charming country home, complete with two woolly horses watching our approach from their paddock near the lane.



We had a wonderful lunch with Colleen's Rouladen as the main course, and Bee Sting Cake for dessert - talk about feeling like we were dining at a 5 star restaurant - it was all so delicious!   And then we put our winter coats and boots on and went for a long walk on their country roads.

I had my camera along and got some nice photo's.

                                                                an old farmstead....


Chickadee's eating out of Gary's hand...


Gary and the horses...
Eagles...


After our walk we hopped in the truck and went for a long drive around the area.  We saw where last year's tornado went through - not far from their home.  We drove past lakes that I never knew existed and everywhere we looked - white tailed deer - in the fields, on the roads - everywhere.

I almost felt like crying when we had to leave for home.  It had been the perfect day, with the most perfect family hosts.

I am so happy that Colleen and I live closer to one another now - I know we will have many many more such days with her and Cam in the years to come.

Another reason to love living in the country!

Happy Birthday Colleen - I relive that day over and over - Thank You both for making our memories so special.









Monday, May 22, 2017

A PLANTING WE WILL GO!

It's time to plant the vegetable garden - and I am ready to get to it!


Seeds   - Check

Markers - Check

Why markers? - well the garden is so big and I am planting so many different vegetables, and I am rotating my plants like a good gardener is supposed to do - so how else will I know where I planted what... where?

I know you can buy fancy garden markers at the garden centers, but I am just too cheap so I went to Walmart and bought myself a wood burning tool ( which I will be able to use on other projects as well ) and I found some very large "say ahhhh" sticks in the craft section and so I made my own...


These should last for a few years and if they don't I have a lot more sticks to make new ones.


Map - Check!

I really am not crazy - I know you are all thinking I'm over the top - but I need some sort of plan so I have a general idea where I am planting each vegetable.  So I made a map...


It in no way accurately tells me how many rows of each vegetable I will be able to plant - but it does tell me where in the garden each vegetable will grow.  Did you know that like people - not every plant gets along with it's neighbour?  Apparently it is true.  So I have done the plan with companion planting in mind.  I am placing plants that get along close to each other... so yes - I need the map.

The garden is staked out so today I am starting to plant.  The temps are warm enough and more importantly the over night lows are now warm enough - hopefully we won't get anymore frosty nights but you just never know in this corner of the world.    I will cross my fingers and hope for the best.


It's cloudy and a bit windy, but we are not supposed to get any rain today so off  I go to play in the dirt.  It will probably take me a couple of days to get this done, but done it will be before the rains come at the end of the week.

Come back tomorrow - even though I will be planting I will have a very special post for you to read.










Tuesday, May 16, 2017

AN EVENING STROLL !

This evening, I decided to take my camera for a stroll around my property.  It was a cloudy day all day but just at suppertime the sun began to come out.

The song birds were tuning  up for their evening concert series, so I sat on my park bench, turned the camera on  - and waited.

First came a Robin - I think it's Baby from last year as whenever I am in the yard this young Robin is less than a yard away from me.

A pair of bright yellow canaries swooped over my head, one lit on the telephone wire above my head but by the time I raised the camera and focused - he or she was gone... 

And then there were these little fellows.  There was much activity in and out of this old birdhouse at the back of my garden...  but this little bird must have been on watch because he pretty much stayed on top of the house as long as I was outside watching.
The yard is really greening up nicely now, quite a difference from last weeks picture, isn't it?


And I have a plant blooming in one of my flower beds (don't know the name of it)


But the best pictures this evening were the fruit trees in bloom.  Once again they are giving quite the show...




What a great way to finish off the day, and I didn't have to leave my own yard.  How very lucky I am indeed.

Thanks for coming along with me for my evening stroll...







Monday, May 15, 2017

ON MOTHER'S DAY!

Happy Monday, everyone.  I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend, and that Mother's everywhere enjoyed their special day.

Mother's Day is an honour for those of us who have children,  and everyone one alive has or has had a mother, so we all should celebrate Mother's Day to some extent.

Is that being completely fair?

For some, Mother's Day is painful.  What about the people who have lost their mother, or those who never knew their Mother, or those who's Mother's mistreated them, or how about the women who lost every child she carried, or the ones who never got the chance to carry a child at all...

I saw something this year, that I am not sure I noticed before.  I use social media to connect with family and friends just like so many other people.  Yesterday social media exploded with Mother's Day tributes, pictures, and that is nice - but right along with the major explosion was a sentiment of quiet despair.  I saw it, I read it and to be perfectly honest - I felt it a bit myself.

At times I wasn't sure if I was seeing Mother's Day - or Christmas!

I am not saying I am against Mother's Day being celebrated - I most certainly am not - but is this in-your face - look how I treated my Mother today- truly celebrating Mother's Day?

Growing up we celebrated Mother's Day with a hand made card, maybe a handmade gift, breakfast in bed, and lots of love and appreciation throughout the day.  As we got older perhaps the card was bought, maybe we added flowers instead of a gift,  if we were still living at home, maybe we made breakfast - lots of love and appreciation - not just on Mother's Day - but every day of the week, month and year.

Were we neglectful compared to the celebrations of present day Mother's Day?  Not at all.

Most Mother's I know only want one thing - to be loved by their children - not just on one day, but every day of the year.  We work so hard and do so much for our children as they grow into adulthood, its nice to know they appreciate everything we do and have done for them.  Do we need to be shrined in gifts, flowers and pictures?

One comment I did like on social media about Mother's Day was from a cousin of mine who is a bit older than I.  She told of a tradition long past where it was customary for people to wear a carnation on Mother's Day to honour one's mother.  If your Mother was alive you wore a pink one, if she was deceased - a white one.  In her case growing up in a small town where there was no florist the carnations were made of crepe paper, but Gary tells me his family practiced this tradition, and they wore real carnations.

A silent tribute to your Mother worn over your heart - all day long.  It brings tears to my eyes.   How very special.

I have a Mother's Day card taped to my wall above my computer from my son.  It's from a few years back.  I have it there because it tells me how much my son does love me.  The sentiment inside the card is simple... "Happy Mother's Day, with love and thanks for all you do."  He has signed it from himself, the dog and the bird.  

But it's the front of the card that tells me how much he cares... he took the time to find the special card for his Mom.  He knew that I would appreciate the "crafty" look of the card over one with a picture of real flowers.  That alone, makes this card so very special to me, and is why it hangs on my wall as a reminder of just how much my son loves me.    I know his love will be the same today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my days.   That's all I really need to make every day  -   Mother's Day!







Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A WISH... AND A PROMISE!

I want to take a moment to congratulate my Great niece Alyssa and her new husband Lucas, on their marriage yesterday.  They are celebrating their wedding in Mexico this week.  I wish them both well.

I doubt she will be on here, so I will show you the wedding card I designed for them.  This one was so much fun to do.

I added a black and white ribbon along the left side of the couple to complete the card.


So back to the promise of Sweet Peas for Dad.

This spring when I sent my order of vegetable seeds in to T&T seeds,  I included an order for 2 pkgs of sweet pea seeds.  I ordered a Mammoth Mix, which are supposed to be a very large long-stemmed sweet pea, and Streamers Mix, the flowers of which are shaded like they have been dipped in paint.  Both are frost hardy for this zone.

I soon realized that I had nothing in my yard for the sweet pea vine to attach itself to while growing.  I have no fences,  I do have one trellis against my shed, but it doesn't get enough sunlight for this plant so I was stuck.

We were in Dauphin at the Canadian Tire store and while wandering around the seasonal section I came across some 6 ft hardwood stakes.  I bought them thinking of staking tomatoes... then I saw some plastic chicken wire - I bought that as well.  When I got home I realized I had everything I needed to make a fence for Dad's Sweet peas so I got the staple gun out and got busy.

Here is what I ended up with.






I poured both packs of seeds together, soaked them for 24 hrs and then planted all the seeds in front of  these two fences.  I am making a marker for the garden that says "Joe's Peas"

This little garden pictured here is one I started when I moved the shed last year.  Initially it was supposed to be a garden around the shed - but then we moved the shed back (a previous post) and so now I am slowly making this into another flower bed.  It is still in it's infancy, but hopefully I will have some color there this summer with some of the perennials I planted last year.

You can see my vegetable garden in the back - all tilled and ready to be planted just as soon as the weather is more stable.




Here is a better picture of that garden.

Yes, I know it is very large.  We are going to seed a strip on the right side by the hedge in grass - nothing much grows there anyway.   At the front left side I have my strawberry patch already growing and at the very back I just moved 5 rhubarb plants from the front yard where the fruit trees are planted.  

I have the garden all planned out on paper with companion planting in mind.  Now all I need is some heat and no hint of overnight frost, and I will be busy putting it all together for real.

Now I am off to get some trees and shrubs.  I know what I want - the trick will be to see if I can find them out here.

Check in next week and we'll see how I made out!

Stay safe everyone!







Tuesday, May 9, 2017

KEEPING A PROMISE!

How many times have you promised to do something?  Have you kept that promise?

I don't really know that I have promised too many people anything - not in a real promise way - you know not with the words - "I promise You".  I don't really think we do that anymore in our busy lives... at least not verbally.

I made a promise last summer to my Dad.  We were having a conversation over the phone about gardening - one of many.

If you knew my Dad you knew how much he loved his vegetable gardens.  It kind of was something his whole family believed in and enjoyed doing.  When I was a kid we had a small vegetable garden in the back yard, but he also rented a large garden plot on the outskirts of the city to grow even a larger garden.  He loved his vegetable garden -the larger the better.

One of the things he was so excited for me on our move to the country was that I would have a vegetable garden - a large one!  He immediately started coaching me in the right way to plant.  He was a believer in the Farmer's Almanac, and always planted his gardens by the moon cycle charts in that little book - must be something to it - because his gardens always produced high yields of everything!

In this particular conversation I was telling him about my rose gardens, and how troublesome I was finding the task of keeping quack out of that particular garden.  He wasn't interested really - so I asked him why he never got into flower gardening as much as vegetables.  I know a lot of men who loved to have gardens of both.

His words... "The only flower worth planting is the Sweet Pea.  I used to plant them all the time, years ago."

Have you ever had a few words just zap you back to another time and place?  Zap - his words had me standing in my parents backyard watching my father tying string onto an old white wooden picket fence.  I can see it as plain as the day it happened... and then I could see his sweet peas - and I could smell them!  I was maybe 6 yrs old.

I told him I remembered his sweet peas when I was small, but couldn't remember them in the later years.  That's when he told me he quit planting them because of me.  I was allergic to so many plants as a child, his sweet peas were on that list - so he quit planting them.

Well that made me sad... so I made him a promise.  I said I would plant some next spring just for him, and send lots of good pictures to him when they bloomed.

Dad didn't make it to this spring.  I can't send him pictures of his sweet peas, but I did make a promise, so I'm going to keep it.

But like everything in the garden - there is a process...


Stay tuned!





Monday, May 8, 2017

THE STORIES BEHIND THE PICTURES!

We are starting the week off with the first real rain of the season.  We had a thunderstorm overnight and there are big puddles everywhere.  The grass is greener this morning and even though its a gloomy day, life seems to be just busting outside.

I wanted to start today's blog off with word about the new photos on my page.

First  the one of the dog and the lamb - is that not the cutest thing you have ever seen?  I didn't take the picture but I edited for my friend, who has a sheep farm a few miles down the road from here.  It's been a busy spring for her and her family as birthing lambs can be somewhat iffy at the best of times.  Sheep don't always automatically make the best mothers, according to my friend, Diana.  Because of that, they are constantly having to check the new lambs.

They have companion guard dogs on the property that are there mainly to watch the sheep and the lambs, keep them safe from predators like coyotes and wolves, but often her dogs really go above and beyond.

The dog in the picture is often found with a lamb in its great jaws, as he picks them up and moves them when they get away from the flock or away from their mothers.  And like in this picture - sometimes a cuddle and a fuzzy warm tail works too....

Diana's son noticed an Ewe without her lamb.  He went searching thinking the lamb might have died but instead he came across this scene.  He reached for his phone and snapped the picture... a one of a kind moment that would never present itself again!  How lucky he was to be in the right place at the right time.

Now on to my cover photo...

There are several things special about my cover picture.  The picture is one taken of my Mom and Dad the year before she passed away - it is special in itself - but check out that tiny bouquet of flowers beside the picture.

Those are wild Manitoba Prairie Crocus - Manitoba's official Flower - and my Easter gift from my Cousin Lorne and his wife Debbie.

Who has a cousin who stops his truck and tramps through ditches and fields on his way to Easter dinner, to find three little precious wild flowers that he knows will bring a tear to his cousins eyes.... I do!

I had actually never seen one of these before - but I have heard about them all through my childhood and beyond.  My Mom always talked about fields and fields of them when she was a child walking to school in the spring they were one of her favourite memories of childhood, and certainly one of her favourite plants.


I posted my picture on face book, and the very next day I received a email from my nephew in Calgary with a picture of some crocus that are growing close to where he lives.  I can't tell you how happy that made me.  I just love it when things like that happen...

These tiny beauties are disappearing from our landscape, like so many heritage wild flowers.  This year I got to see them not once but twice, I count myself very lucky indeed!

Such tiny treasures as these need to be protected and cherished, for the next generations to enjoy.   As a society we are loosing touch with these treasures at an alarming rate.   We need to do better... all of us... to keep these treasures alive for those yet to come.




Friday, May 5, 2017

ARE YOU READY?

I am always amazed and thankful when I see how many visits I have to my blogs each day - even when I haven't posted for a few months.

Yes - I have been gone far too long - I certainly feel that way, but my time away was well spent catching up on so many things while I awaited the arrival of spring.

And what an arrival!  Is there anything better than that first few warm days when the song birds are back, the grass is turning green, the green leaves of early perennials are popping through the ground, and tulips are poking their pretty little heads out?  Remember those 25 special tulips I planted last fall to commemorate Canada's 150th Birthday?  They are all up and every day I am peering down at them to see if I can see a bud.  Finally I can!

I was industrious while I was away for those couple of months.  I finally got around to pulling the ugly wall paper off in our bedroom and painting the room.  Oh - so much better.  Part of the reason it has taken me so long was that I kept changing my mind on a paint colour.  In the end I chose a very soft pale green - and it is so restful and soothing - perfect for a bedroom.

Then I moved on the the main floor bathroom. It has taken me almost 2 years to get this room done as well - but done it is, and I'm loving it.

My biggest project was my studio.  Hate to say it - but I couldn't really work in it after I reorganized it just after Christmas.  I didn't like the colour I had painted and I certainly didn't like the layout.  So I stripped it down, repainted and put everything back the way it was before the wasps invaded last fall.  It's home again, and I'm not changing it ever again!  (mark that on the calendar, would you please!)

I am so glad I got all the inside work done, because now I just want to be outside working in the yard.

I bought myself a little electric tiller, and tilled my big vegetable garden all by myself, instead of having to wait for someone else to do it.  The garden is ready to plant.  I decided to wait on the raised beds for another year.  I wanted to try some different vegetables this year so thought the space would be easier to handle if I just used the big garden.

Believe it or not - we are just finishing all the vegetables I froze last fall - so perhaps I didn't plant too much last year as I originally thought!

I am looking forward to a new season of growth, new journeys, new adventures, and hopefully some more new friends.  Hope you can join me for whatever spring and summer 2017 will bring...

See you next week!