Saturday, March 27, 2010

Me and my pitchfork!

OK Dan and Granny!  I'm in ... I love my pitchfork ... and it's used everyday in the garden!  But alas, not for gardening!  You see my pitchfork is a baby bird maker ... and each and every year I 'hatch' at least one nestful of babies ... wrens, chicadees, and even a batch of meadow mice!

I enjoy it daily as it sits outside my kitchen window and brings me alot of pleasure as I watch my 'reality show'!  Move over Mark Burnett!

Now as for the shoes - goodness only knows what's been collected on there!  Today proved to be another day for gumboots.  Even found a little mouse with my son which we fed acorns and water before gently sending her on her way home to her family ...

So Dan, not as handsome as you look (alot like Paul Newman on his cookies I'd like to say), and Granny, definately not the Sultry Madonna glamour shot on your blog either ... but at least I can say ... you showed me yours, and I showed you mine!

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Husband thinks I'm a Wack Job!

Ha Ha!  I probably am ... what is 'normal' anyways ... ???

What I can say is .... I LOVE my new solar powered lights that I now have in my Vegetable garden!!!  LOVE them - all 8 of them ... they are in fake rocks ... got them on clearance from Costcos for next to nothing last year ...

As I was lovingly installing them last weekend he wanted to know why on earth I would want solar power lights in my vege garden.  He doesn't get it ... but as I look out my window at night, my vege patch is lit up like the stars!  And only what I can call 'gardeners joy' - fills my heart when I see them.

You can see one of them by his feet in the photo above as he was helping me build the hoop house ... next to a kale plant that survived the harsh winter ... and in the photo below you can see them at the back of one of the beds ...

Interestingly enough, and fortunately for me, he loves me in spite of me ... and graciously rearranged the solar power lights so that they function better to meet my vege gardens layout.  And also has it set up so that once I have the hoop house being utilized for my Winter harvest, I'll have 2 lights inside so I can see what I'm doing!

But he would like to know (and I really don't know if he does) "what kind of person puts Solar Power lights in their vegetable garden?" 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Seriously challenged!

When it comes to electronics, I'm seriously challenged!!  Take the new video camera my hubby just got me.  It's so pretty ... small, going to be great on our trip to Europe ... but I gave it a 'try' yesterday and after uploading (not me, hubby) it turned out to be a disaster!

No surprise really ... but it was rather hilarious!  Needless to say, I don't have much time to figure it out.  And it doesn't help when my 7 year old, who hasn't seen it either, picks it up and shows me what to do!  So what I'm hearing is: 'no mama, you do it like this!'

Shameful really when you think about it!  The only reason I can load pictures on my blog is if I take them on my iphone - and even then my friend had to show me an 'easy' way to do that!!!  As for using the computer, well ... that's entirely another comic show!

So I'm thinking, wouldn't it be great if I could 'show' you some video of our travels?  I don't know how, but I know it has to be possible ...

It would look like this ... we're off to London to see the Queen ... OOOOPPPPPSSS ... that was surposed to be a picture of her face!  Disgraceful!

Anyways, that's the plan ... but I still may have to depend on my trusty iphone ... tried and true ... either way, I'll get some pics to you!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why the tats? (Topic: Miscarriages)

I put the topic: Why the tattoos?  (Miscarriages)  so that you can choose to read on, or if this topic is too squirmish for you, no worries, best to stop here ... :)

I get this question a bit.  The easiliest answer is because I like them!  They have meaning for me.  Tatoos that is!  I'd have to, as I get to live with them.  Really when it all boils down to it, it's got nothing to do with anybody else.  I know that many of the folks I know just don't get it but that's ok!  My tattoos actually have been a major part of a healing process in my life.  Tattoos are healing you say - read on and you'll see tattoos have the power to heal!

You see, I'm a member of the 'Infertility group'.  For me - 10 years of drugs, hormones, injections etc - even  IVF cycles, 6 pregnancies - and one miricle. Cody was #3.  Every cycle offered the chance of hope - life was like a roller coaster.  Once you buckle in the infertility seat, get ready for the ride of your life!  You really no longer 'own' your body, you're at the descretion of science, doctors and nurses.  If they say jump, you say 'how high' and proceed to do everything requested of you ... and then some!  Like standing on your head, taking your temperature daily, eating certain kinds of foods, driving warm 'swimmers' to the clinic snuggled warmly in your bra, having injections and then more injections followed by pills and blood tests and dyes, etc, etc ... a full body invasion of whatever you hope will work!!!  Goodness only knows what all the side-effects of the medications will bring, but desperate people often use desperate measures!  All in the hopes of starting/or growing your family.  

And hope is all that it is, as there are no guarantees!

I'm classified as a 'habitual aborter'.  Meaning that for whatever reason, my body doesn't seem to work the way it should and when I get pregnant, which isn't that often, and then my body rejects the baby.  And even though both hubby and myself have been studied from head to toe, there is no reason that can be found for my bodies behaviour.  After some of the fetal autopses, they have found genetic errors, and the genetic councellors have told us that it's like getting struck by lightening - repeatedly - just plain bad luck!!!

Let me take the time to clarify here - there is no term 'miscarriage' used in medical circles - they are all called abortions.  And even when you insist that this is NOT AN ABORTION, they look pitifully at you and say 'abortion'.  So whether your loss is filled with longing for the child you are never going to have, or a chosen path, you are still called an aborter.

Me, I'm the sucker who never gave up!  I used every cycle available to me.  They did discover that I had endimetriosis, and I had regular surgerys to address the growths and leasons.  But I never gave up ... so much so that in my mid 40's my IVF specialist sat me down and told me - no more - I was too old!  And that was that!  I didn't feel old, but, I could live with the fact that I had done my absolute best.  I would never be able to question my committment to having a family.

Going through a miscarriage is indeed one of life's cruel and inhumane experiences for a woman (I can't speak for a woman who is choosing to abort, but I'm assuming it just isn't cut and dry - it never is!!!), but it is a very dark period of lonliness in a woman's life.  I say lonliness as the husband hasn't the life connection that a woman has, and does not feel the loss in such a devistating mannor.  There's a lot of self examination - and not in a very healthy way!!!

Hint here for the husband/man/father: don't try to talk her through the grief, allow her to go through the grieving process.  The best thing you can do is to hold her and just let her cry.  Acknowledge that this is a loss, no different than the loss of any other family member.  It is real to her.  And always will be.  She will cry - a lot!  It's ok!  She is entitled to her feelings!!

Pregnancy is supposed to be one of lifes treasured times for a woman, but miscarriages have a way of stealing that treasured time away from a woman.  Pregnancy becomes a time of fear!  And subsequent pregnancies are increasingly hard to enjoy with mutiply miscarriages.

There are many well intentioned folks who try to 'justify' the loss by saying things like:  it was meant to be dear, it's natures way of taking care of things, oh well, try again!, be greatful you already have a wonderful child, etc, etc, etc ... but those kind words make it hard.  Truely folks, there's a lot more to be said with a simple and honest hug!

I think one of lifes sad evolutions is that we as women don't talk about the topic nearly as much as we need to.  Have you had this conversation willingly with anyone lately?  And as I'm not a man, I can only assume it's all methodical, logical and has no emotional content if ever discussed? ???  I'm only guessing here ... but have an idea as I have heard the family conversations my hubby has had about the topic.

It is a fact of life that there are many women who have miscarriages - yet because of the personal nature of the emotions felt, we don't share as we need to.  I believe a woman needs to know she is entitled to feel the way she feels and that she doesn't need to feel isolated.  Life does suck and sometimes bad things do happen to good people.  It's ok to feel the way she feels!!!  Don't push her to move on until she has come to acceptance.

Anyways, back to the tats.  I've got tatoos that are visible, and others that are not ... and we'll just leave it at that!  Mostly my tatoos are of forget-me-nots.  I've used a wonderful Tattoo artist - Greg from a Way Cool Tatoos in Oakville, Ontario.  He's absolutely fabulous with matching skin colour to your skin tones, and I enjoy his work so much, that about half the work he has done on my body is freehand - yes, I loved his work that much!

When I was going through the miscarriages - it hit me that I was really the only one who was able to truely remember each child within me and I wanted to make sure that their short time (some a lot longer) remained important, and that they each one were very special and that their time with me counted!  I wanted to celebrate their lives ... I chose to do so through the art of tatoos.  So I have tatoos on different parts on my body - each reminding me of the special life that shared life with me - even though their time was short - in the form of 'forget-me-nots' - and I don't forget!

Time has a way of helping with the healing of loss, but I will never, ever forget!

"Least I forget"

Monday, March 22, 2010

A weekend made for gardening!

I bet you're thinking we worked on the kitchen ... AGAIN!  But alas, no!!!! 

Firstly we installed 2 new loos.  Hubby did most of the work, I was the assistant and kept him company.  The new loos are white, high efficiency duel flush - nice, but don't match the 70's pink, grey and beige interior - translation - once the kitchen is finished, I have more major projects!!!  And if you would like an explaination on the duel flush, my son will tell you "the half moon is for pee and the full moon is for poop" ...

After installing 2 new loos in the bathrooms, we took all our efforts outside and made the most of this spazzy weather.  An acre of land keeps us very busy ... Cody and Pierre detached the lawn with the help of Bumblebee - our ride on lawn mower, and then picked up the loose dry lawn matter.  After detaching they spread iron to natually help with the growth of the lawn,

We raked up lots of leftover leaves from the fall.  I finished cleaning up all the vege beds and the surrounding areas.  Cody was excited to see the snow peas starting to come through the soil.

I have yet to start tidying up the perennial garden beds.  That's going to be doosy in itself! 

Hubby was a great help building the hoop house!  This year I plan on a year round harvest, so I'm very excited to see how this is all going to work!

The hoop house is made out of electrical piping as it withstands the temperatures better than the pretty white pvc.  The frame is attached with pipe clips to the existing bed and then held together with electrical ties.

 I'm still looking for clips to hold the plastic on with, but I'm sure I'll find something before too long!  I felt like Goldy Locks at Lowes - that ones too big, that ones too small!

Then I made up a potatoe growing frame.  I found some offcuts, measured them - 24 inches and screwed them together to make 2 layers.

Found some left over weed mat and stapled it to the bottom of one.  Placed them by my beds and filled both of them up with the remaining 'good compost' dirt!  One to grow potatoes in and one to add when the potatoes get higher.  I'll temporarily put some flowers in until the potatoes are ready.

I cut cardboard boxes(12 inches wide) to make better walkways in the vege gardens (waiting to build the kitchen cabinets so I'll have the cardboard for the rest of the garden).  

I made boxes to go around the bases of the birdhouses for planting climbers in (still have 2 more to make), filled up the bird feeders, cleaned up the birdbaths and moved the soil accordingly  ...

The great thing about the weekend was being able to enjoy all our meals outside in the warmth of the day!  I just wished I had more hours in each day!  The body feels tired, yet very good!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I can can! Depression Stock!

Tis a funny thing.  I grew up in a family who preserved to the hilt.  All the cupboards were full with jams and fruits to tide us over through the winter months in New Zealand.  My Grandma was the champion of preserving ... not the 'new, improved, safe methods' now preached ... but the good old fashioned germy method - which surprisingly enough, I lived through ... pleasantly so!

Now I'm trying to provide nuitricious, healthy foods for my own family, and I seem to have come full circle!  Only for some unknow reason, canning scares me ... but for some absolutely bizzaire reason I did it last night!  You seen I had no intention of it ... even after I had put Cody to bed last night ... it was one of those, if I don't try, I'll never succeed moments in life ... instead I had set out to make stock as I was all out.  I'm pretty chuffed with myself that I figured that out last year!  But I really want to utilize my vege garden to it's fullest this year, and I won't be able to unless I figure out how to use that pressure cooker!!!

So I started yesterday by making 'Depression Stock' ... that's my name for it because I feel like this is what life was like then ... and I didn't follow a receipe ... so here's my own one:

Save your good cut offs when you are chopping veges for dishes and store them in a bag/container in freezer until you are needing to make stock ... like this:

I also used some chicken bones that I had previously made stock with and froze them for a second time around.

Toss them in a large pot and add plenty of water ... after a day of simmering I made 22 cups of stock, so I'm done for a while!  I didn't know really what to add, so I added 2 bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon of tyme, and 4 fresh sprigs of parsley that I have kept inside all winter ... it looked like this when I started:

I got it up to a nice boil for a tad bit - say 1/2 an hour, then dropped the heat to simmer for the next 4 hours, turned the heat off, left it on the element, and let it cool ... notice how I don't do too much ... you see I'm actually quite busy, and if it's going to take a lot of time in my house, it just isn't going to happen!!!

At the end of it I use a colliander and pour the liquid gold into another container so I don't have to do any of the skimming and 'mothering' throughout the cooking process!  And this is what liquid gold looks like:

The smell was to die for, and the stock looks like it's full of nutrients!!! 

So now I'm thinking ... wouldn't it be great if I could can it instead of taking up my freezer space????  No thawing in advance when I'm in a hurry to whip something up for dinner????  So I went into the basement and dragged up the canning equipment ... thinking, what's the worst that could happen ... really, what's the worst?   Well, I could screw it up, all the bottles could break, it could taste narley, or I could poisen my family and myself ...

So I found 4 lonely empty jars, cleaned them up, got the seals soaking, and bobs-your-uncle, there they are sitting in the pressure canner ready to pressure can!!!  (This looks like a pressure cooker, and is a pressure cooker, but it is also a pressure canner - yes, I do know there is a difference ... I didn't a year ago ... but this is a duel featured pressure pot).

I googled the instructions as I went, and waited ... and waited ... and waited ...

And wouldn't you know it, I have 4 beautiful jars full of liquid gold sitting on my counter still cooling!

So my verdict is, that this could be useful.  That it takes time.  I would need a bigger pressure canner to make the process worth my time and efforts.  I didn't break the jars.  The seals have sealed!!!  And I can can!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hurry up and wait!

That's what it feels like!  We're in 'limbo' with the kitchen renovation.  This weekend we once again made our deadline.  The pole is resized to perfection - thus making my husband a very happy chappy!

The window is ready to go - bar one more application of corking ... The walls 100% and that miserable popcorn ceiling is completly off ready for the 'professionals' to come and mud, sand, plaster ... so we're waiting.

You'd never guess just how hard it is to get good help at an affordable price.  I can tell you the folks in the mudding business definately aren't going through a depression!  I can also tell you they are in no particular hurry for business either ... if you need mudding, plan months in advance ....

Here we have the tools to complete the job ... and here we have the popcorn!  Popcorn anyone?  Unsalted!

Couldn't we do this ourselves?  You ask - well yes, we could, however, 2 major factors come into play.  Firstly - this is one really messy, dusty job, combined that with asthma - not good!  Secondly - the ceiling is so large and we're not so confident that we can get the perfect look we are wanting.  I for one don't want to be doing and redoing the ceiling until it is perfect!!!!

Never fear, we have plenty of other projects to keep us busy in the mean time!  

Monday, March 8, 2010

Business Trip!

One of my favourite tidbits of 'work speaks' when my hubby comes home are the words ... work is sending me to ???????   Translation ... we're going on a fieldtrip!  We thought we were going to Korea this year, but were pleasantly surprised with a trip to the UK instead!

So this last couple of weeks I've been trying to fit in making a 3 week itinary fieldtrip to London, England!  It's quite one thing to plan a tip away when it's just yourselves, but to keep a 7 year old happy is quite another!  Needless to say, Legoland is one of our trips highlights planned ... as is the zoo!

The other piece of the puzzle is how to travel on a shoestring!  Obviously hubby is very well taken care of - hotel, taxis, business class flights, food delic and much more - but Cody and me, well, we're the luggage handlers ... sandwiches, public transportation, economy flights,  lots of parks - you get the picture!  But worth every effort and wouldn't change the opportunity for anything!

We're also thinking of going to Paris for one of the week-ends - taking the chunnel - yeah!  And coming back via Rome ...

With the kitchen still in the middle of reno (over the hump now and see the light at the end of the tunnel), spring gardening in tow, school in full session ... well, it's going to be a crazy month!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hoist away!

Interestingly enough, we moved from 'shell' to 'room' status last weekend ... sadly enough, we're still recovering!

This last week-end however, we had a 'secret weapon' - our friend - Greg Rushton!  Thank you Mr Greg!  Mr Greg came and assisted us with putting up the ceiling and the walls on Sunday!  His help made the difference of the ceiling fully up, or just still in the process!!!! 

On Friday morning, we had the 12 foot ceiling boards delivered - they arrived before 7 am (image the door bell ringing and everyone - except Cody - in bed ... trying to get a sleepin ... it did give us a great start for the rest of the day!!!).  Pierre had taken another vacation day to expedite the process.  Cody had 2 karate graduation ceremonies, so that took up Friday evening and Saturday morning - and just to make the mix more interesting, my Mum was here for the week from Canada ...

Don't forget Smoko break!!! Just how you want the house to look when you have company over!

Then that same evening, Pierre went and rented the 'drywall ceiling lift helper ' for lack of the right tool term ... it looks like this ...

You can see Greg hard at work!   Doesn't he make it look easy????  That rented tool from Home Depot was awesome!  Those 12 ft sheetrock boards are very fragile and can break just like that!  So once the sheetrock was loaded, there was no more holding, and it made the job much quicker and smoother!  Definately worth the rental!!!

You can see Greg putting in supports.  These supports are going to hold the cabinets in place.

So it's about 9 pm now and we're putting the kitchen back so that we can function until the next week-end!  Our bodies ach!  My arms are still sore ... the house still is covered with layers of dust - cleaning continues to be a nightmare ... laundry keeps mounting - it's at K1 proportions!!!!

So this weekend we're planning on tweeking some stuff, revisiting the window, completing the 'shell' by finishing the walls, removing the remaining popcorn off the rest of the ceiling (blugh!!!!) - and as we have a contemporary home, that means alot of popcorn - in time for the plaster to come and give our kitchen a pretty 'skin'.  There, that should keep us busy!  But will we complete everything we need to do ??????  I guess we'll have to wait and see ....