Thursday, 22 December 2011

The day has arrived and Mother Nature greeted us with a dazzling show  - the sun was out and shining through a veil of icy trees, grass and leaves. Hubbie was so captivated by the beauty that he went out and captured these images...

While I pulled-out the ingredients for tonight's feast following the bonfire at sunset - I wanted to celebrate the foods which we were able to collect and grow on our land so we are having lasagna made with fresh egg noodles (thank you to our little feathered girls) and garden tomato sauce followed by our friend lroick's recommended Apple Cake Recipe which will use our organic wild apples and more fresh eggs, thank you so much Lynn!

We shared our celebration with the little birds and woodland creatures outdoors - I made some peanut butter, seed and dried fruit 'cake's and wired-up some freshly cut fruit and we took a walk into the woods to gather greens while depositing little snack surprises along the way...

another of my wood bird cutouts ...

It will be fun to look to see if anyone takes the food gifts offered along our trail

We know a squirrel lives in this pile of logs and twigs and we can easily imagine the eyes *popping* in surprise at this little find!

The top of a pear on the top of a fence post

Of course, the hens were treated to lots of seeds (their favourite treat is the seeds I scatter in the run) and lots of veggies leftover from making dog food (the cores of cabbage, ends of carrots etc)

Winter Solstice Mittens...I will share more about these on another day. I am so pleased with my new favourite mittens - the wood buttons are Sugar Maple and made by me!

I had contemplated buying treats for the dogs but after reading the ingredients lists I put them back and made my own treats which are so good that Hubbie threatens to eat them! They are made with cheddar cheese, chic pea flour and peanut butter.  Wrapped in little bundles - one per dog.

In late summer I made some smudge sticks - we will burn this one to bless our home with wishes for the new solar year.

This Christmas card arrived today and I love it for it's beauty and it's simple message...I would like to wish you all Peace, Happiness, Kindness and Love (and good health, always) during the coming days. I will be off for a week or so, thank-you for sharing this little place of mine on the internet and for being so very kind.

Wishing you quiet moments...Pinney and Peanut 
and the whole gang here in the woods of beautiful Eastern Ontario

Monday, 12 December 2011

Winter Greens

This story is as much about a husband's love as it is about making your winter home a little more green.  Without Hubbie, none of this would have been nearly as wonderful nor as successful. 
He is too good to me!

Streeeetch! This photo just won't come out right - ah well...

This late November I asked Hubbie if we could hike out to the old farmhouse at the back of our property to gather more wonderfully aged wood for me to use for my winter woodworking projects. I had made some rudimentary backpacks last year so we headed out with a saw and the backpacks.

The squirrels hide apples in the crooks of trees or even impale them on branches - very amusing

We carefully pulled-out pieces and Hubbie cut them into manageable sizes  for the backpacks.

Is this not the most magnificent vintage green and red combination? The colours of the exterior of this old house.

This time we found a huge, heavy piece which I'm not sure what I'll do with and I was very hesitant to have hubbie drag it home - it's 89 acres straight back from our house...Bless him though, he trudged through fields and forests struggling with this heavy load which swayed back and forth and finally, a strap broke on his backpack. How lucky am I to have such a great guy? We got really warm and were pooped by the time we arrived home but now I have a nice supply of wood.

What do I do with all this wood? Well I have made many frames for homemade chalkboards and shelves for the house and stools. I realize this is most likely lead paint so I am very careful in my method of cleaning and using this wood and add a sealant to keep the pieces safe when necessary. Young children are extremely susceptible to lead poisoning so I'd never make anything from this wood that would be handled by a child.

The first project for the newly gathered wood was a little bird cut-out. I knew I'd find something pretty in this lovely book by Caroline Zoob (see photo below) - I adore this book! The bird design was meant for an applique to sew onto a quilt.

The last time I read about Caroline Zoob, she and her husband were living in the house that belonged to Virginia Wolf (the writer) and acting as tenant/curators to the estate. It is called Monk's house. I've seen photos of Caroline's sewing room - be still my heart! Sweet, simple and filled with vintage pieces she uses in her beautiful work. It's hard to believe she was thrown out of needlework classes in elementary school - she didn't sew again until she was in her 30's and friends began having children for which she began to sew gifts - her style is so sweet and uses vintage textiles, buttons, lace and even quotes from vintage children's books.

Gathering the greens...and pining for red berries...

This past week I announced to Hubbie that I was going on a hike for my annual 'gathering of greens' walk. Hubbie wanted to come along (he loves being outdoors and he worries I'll get lost) so we went together and of course, he gathered twice as much as I did.   I then headed out for some red dogwood at the wetter section of our land. We don't get big pinecones on our land and I yearned for a bunch of red berries but we have never seen any on our land .

Driving home from my excursion to the new Ikea store in Ottawa I noticed bunches of shrubs with red berries on them in the ditches and medians all along the highway - I could not possibly stop to pick them but they got me to looking for some closer to home - and I found some but they were about 10 feet from the side of the road in about 12 inches of water - rats. I tried to get them and contemplated getting a proper 'soaker' as the price for the berries but then I decided against it and went home moaning to Hubbie that I was 'that' close to getting my red berries. Well the next day, Hubbie took the boys for a drive into town and brought some snippers and didn't he find me a small bunch of red berries - how sweet is that? He drove all over the place and finally reached a spot where it wasn't too wet and snagged a modest amount and they are that much more special to me as I know what went into getting them to me.

Poor little bee-girls, I worry every time I look at the hives...

A bit of red dogwood by the old fence

Equipped with secateurs, wire, my newly cut bird (on my wonderful band saw) and a funny audience of Hens - I was ready to make my swags.

Some years I gather a bunch of grapevine to make wreaths and garlands. I also have stuffed old milk cans with natural bits of green and red but this year I kept it simple and made swags for the house. The star of the show being the centre swag with the wee birdie and the precious berries.

Watcha doing Mama?
 I assembled while squawking to the Hens and breathed-in that crisp fresh air. The land is so very quiet when it's is this cold out - frozen and hard, the only sounds are the crunch of my boots in the snow, the cheeps of the birds at our feeders and the constant chatter of the curious hens. A perfect afternoon.

Indoors, I planted my Amaryllis bulb and I watch it grow a little every day. It will flower in the bleakest time of the year when a giant flower is most welcome - this one will be a blush-pink colour. I had planned to order some Narcissus bulbs but so far have not - at least I'll have the Amaryllis.

Amaryllis growing in the sunniest windowsill in the house.

Jack is doing great!

Here he is hugging his bottle of Strawberry Ensure which he gets daily for now (in his food) to try to put on some weight - he will never be as uhm, shall we say solid as Charlie (no ribs showing on that boy!)  but he is filling-out nicely and is a very happy boy. 

Sweet sweet Jack Jack with his strawberry 'milkshake' bottle

Jack would like to wish you a sweet strawberry milkshake kinda day!