Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing a Merry Chirstmas and a very Happy New Year to all those who drop by to say hi, or just drop by.

I hope Santa Claus is very good to you and that 2010 brings you all the joy and happiness you can endure.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Doghouses and get rich quick schemes!

So, I decided to make my fortune building dog houses! "How hard could it be," I said to hubby. "We have lots of material left over from the renovations we did to the house and from the big shed you built". "I'll just whip up a couple and sell them via the local trading post on the radio".

I thought I'd build them for big dogs, making the house at least 4 feet long, 3 feet wide and 2 feet high inside, completely insulated good enough for 40 below, painted cedar siding and a shingled roof. Hubby said "Go for it", (he has learned that it doesn't matter what he says, if I get a bee in my bonnet I will do it anyway).

After 3 days of measuring, cutting, screwing together, taking apart and redoing I realized that there was no way I could get this thing out of the basement if I finished it down there, so I had to take it apart once again and drag everything out to the garage to work on it. I also realized that it was so heavy by this time that I couldn't move it by myself!
At this point hubby took pity on me and came to help, he cut the cedar siding and shingled the roof for me. Good thing or I would still be out there! Once it was finished I couldn't wait to advertise it and field the hundreds of telephone calls of folks wanting such a fine dog house. So far I've had said it was too expensive, and two said they would call me back, I'm sitting waiting for that phone to's not ringing - do you think they lied to me!
In the words of Randy Travis "Since the phone still ain't ringing, I assume it still ain't you (them)"

In the meantime I still have enough material to build another one....think I'll wait till this one is sold, no use having 2 doghouses sitting around not being used!

On the other hand I did build a house for the squirrels in the trees next to the driveway - they were very grateful. They have filled it with all sort of neat stuff including stuffing from under the hood of an old car, peanuts and pine cones. I'm glad some one appreciates my!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's a girl to do....

....when the flowers are gone, the garden is finished and winter is coming? Well, if it's this girl I play with dead people, at least that's what my hubby calls it.

It really started with my search for my ancestors and the web site Find A Grave. There were tons of my family listed on there, all done by volunteers who like me, like hanging out in graveyards. Whenever I get a chance I stop by one of the local graveyards and take a few pictures, load them onto the website. Later when the snow is falling and the winds are howling I can do some research on who they were and maybe help someone else find their ancestors.

Some stories are happy with epitaphs such as "We live together in happiness, now we rest together in peace", some are sad as was little Esther Erickson.
Esther died in 1928 in what some say was a murder/suicide by her father, others say it was an accident and her father was so horrified by what he had done he then shot himself. Maybe one day I will find out the truth. In the meantime her marker was broken and in danger of being lost........ I bought her a new one. It was odd even before I knew Esther's story I was always drawn to her grave, and yes, I know the people who made the marker spelled her name wrong, I hope she doesn't mind.

Some stones are just so peaceful like Kerry Haywood's. On the back it says "Gone Fishing" with a picture of a fishing pole and with a fish on the hook. I always smile when I see his marker.

Then there is the unexplained!! I stopped by to start photographing this small cemetery, I took pictures of about 80 graves and a few of them in the middle of the group didn't turn out. Two of children's graves and this one. The picture after this one is as clear as a bell, but this one is blurry and give me your that an orb in the middle?
I am hopefully going to get back before the snow flies (I'd better hurry) and redo the few that didn't turn out. I will have to have a talk with ghosts and tell them I'm not going to do anything to upset them and would they please let me take their pictures.

It's OK if you think I'm a bid odd in my hobby, truth be known I'm quite sure my family thinks I'm completely off my!

It really is a peaceful way to spend an afternoon, just the birds singing, my dog who always accompanies me and maybe, just maybe an occasional ghost.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I canned venison today. I only got 7 quarts so far, but have more to do tomorrow as well as some moose meat to can too. I will probably do the rest in pints and maybe even mix some deer meat with the moose for a little different flavour. Hubby and I actually cut up an entire deer carcass and froze steaks and a couple of roasts. Any pieces that didn't fit into either of the first two categories got cut into chunks and canned.
Canning meat is very long and labour intensive, if you don't have a pressure canner (I bought my first one last year), it is even longer. Meat being easily contaminated takes extra work to keep it clean, the jars must be sterilized and the canning time must not be cut down. Although the pressure canner is only 90 minutes cooking time as compared to 4 hours cooking time with the standard boiling water bath, the prep time and cool down time make it feel like 4 hours. The best thing about the pressure method is there is much less chance of any contaminates living through the process.
It all got me to thinking about the "olden" days, not even that "olden", just 50 years ago. My parents didn't have a freezer until the 60's and my grandparents never had one or even electricity! I remember the brine barrel in the basement when I was very young, we would butcher a pig, cut it up and then keep it in brine in a oak barrel in the cool. Roasts and cuts that could be cut into chops would be kept in there, the bacon and hams were cured by Mum and the rest was canned.
Mum also told me that they used to try to butcher or get wild meat late enough in the fall that it was freezing out, they would cut it up, wrap it and keep it buried in the grain in the granary, natures own freezer. Maybe that's why farmers kept and ate a lot of chicken, you didn't have to worry about the meat until you were ready to eat it.
On another note - my Christmas cactus is blooming. It is one I've had for 5 years and started as just a little branch., this is the first time it has bloomed. I have a really big one I got from my sister -in-law Genny, and it is covered in buds too. It usually blooms from November until late February a bright spot in a cold grey winter.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Cornucopia

There are some good things about fall........I'm sure I can think of a few if you give me a minute!

The best part for me is enjoying the fruits of the harvest - the potato bin filled in the cold room, bags of onions hanging on the wall, jars of preserves, pickles and fruit lining the other wall of the room. The freezer packed with lots of frozen peas, carrots, beans and our own butchered beef. This year however the pickin's are a little slim. The garden did so poorly I only got about a quarter of last years veggies, the strawberries however did well.

I thought ever bearing would be nice to have with strawberries all summer long, but they just don't survive the winters up here. By the time they have recovered from the cold, they didn't produce much fruit. So last year I took them all up and planted the June bearing kind, they produce lots of fruit in late June/early July and are much hardier. Surprisingly enough, after the initial rush they went on to have berries right up until it froze a couple of weeks ago so I was able to pick and eat strawberries all summer.
As well as these jars of fruit I also was able to eat lots, make strawberry cheesecake, and freeze several large tubs without sugar for other baking projects this winter. Today I started canning my tomatoes, sadly there won't be many of those either this year. I managed to get 7 quarts this time and probably have enough ripening to can another 4 or 5 quarts. Last year I had 27 quarts - even though the plants were in the greenhouse, it was just too cold to have any sort of good crop.

The other thing I always can are pears., I did 14 quarts of them 2 weeks ago. They were always one of the favorites Mum did when I was growing up and I still like them, hubby does too which is a plus. Sadly he doesn't like peaches so I quit canning them, it's easier to buy a can now and then if I want some.
I usually make strawberry jam, raspberry jelly, crabapple jelly and my 3 fruit golden jam, but I'm running behind this year. I have a pail of raspberries in the freezer waiting to make jelly, but no crabapples this year because of the weather and no yellow plums for the golden jam either. The strawberry jam......maybe if I feel like it later on - I can always buy strawberries.
It does give me a great feeling of satisfaction to sit down to a meal and know that everything I'm eating including the dessert we grew on our farm.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The last rose of summer

No words needed - this greeted me this morning.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The kitchen saga.....

There comes a time in every woman's life when she just has to toss in the towel and say ........ "Dang it, I have no idea what I'm doing"!!!
My kitchen is coming along, new back splash, new paint, but there is something missing. A theme to tie it all together - something that when the neighbours see it they will say "Wow, what a great idea".
I thought of the little fat Italian Chef, or maybe a wine and grape motif. The old black and white cows, cute piggies, and blue and white geese things have run their course I wasn't interested in them. What I needed was something new, something catchie, something that said "This is Thelma's Kitchen".
That's when it hit me, my love of old things and genealogy what better was to express that than............Outhouses!
When our family moved west what was the first thing they built? A house, a town, a barn? No, they built an outhouse.
I mean; think.....what's the first thing you want once you have completed a days trip? Yup, a nice comfy outhouse.
So, I offer to you my shrine to our forefathers........

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Witner projects

The garden is finished, the flowers are finished and I am bored! So I have started on my winter hobby - wood working.
My friend redid her kitchen recently and was going to toss out all her old kitchen cabinets, I hate to see anything go to waste so I took them. They're are all the top cabinets (the bottom ones were wrecked getting them out), and all different sizes. She had painted the melamine doors royal blue - not my colour, but other than that they were in good shape.
I decided that I needed a new cabinet in my office as the one I have in there is too old, too big and too UGLY!!! I used the 3 cabinets in this picture the one in the middle with the two door on top and the two smaller ones on the right side.
This is my work room in the basement. It's a little on the small side even though we moved a wall last year, but it works for what I do. Hubby likes it, gives him something to give me for Christmas - more power tools!!!
This is what I ended up with. I repainted the doors to match the avacado colour in the office, built a pine frame and counter top and added glass door handles. I want to add two glass shelves in the middle, but will have to get some glass cut next time I'm in town. It is smaller than the old one but still holds nearly all the stuff that was in it and the best thing is I don't walk into the corner of it everytime I come into the office like I did with the old one.

I still have 3 cabinets left over - I will have to think of some other things to do with them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

As Summer Winds Down

It's hot outside today - well, as hot as it get in Alberta at the end of August - must be pushing 90 degrees. We have had very few nice days this summer either it's been cold and dry or extremely hot and dry, it's been hard on the garden and the flowers.
Considering half my garden didn't even come up I am surprised at how well the other half is producing. Last year I got almost 25 bags of frozen peas, this year I'll be lucky to get 8 or 10, the same with the yellow beans. The spinach didn't grow for a long time then it bolted and and turned yellow within a matter of days, so won't have any of that to freeze.
I didn't plant many carrots cause after 10 years of planting, weeding, freezing or canning carrots hubby finally tells me he doesn't like carrots..... WTH!!

The potatoes on the other hand are doing really well. I started digging potatoes yesterday and will probably get about 6 or 7 - 5 gallon pails full for the cold room. That will do the 2 of us till next spring. The onions too are doing well, I will have to dig them up, cure then in the green house and then hang them in sacks in the cold room too.

The rest of the farm work is coming to an end. The hay is cut, raked and baled and most of it is stacked in the bale yard. We still have green feed which is oats cut before they are completely ripe and baled for feed for the cattle. It is cut but needs to dry for a weeks or so before it can be baled - hopefully this weather will stay hot and dry till that is done.
Once the feed it finished and hauled home, we still have fencing to do. We have to build about 3/4 of a mile of 4 wire barbed wire fence across the pasture plus some minor fence building/repairing closer to home. Hubby does most of this type of work, but I sometimes drive the tractor or help pound the staples to keep the wire in place.

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of the cattle - first one is mama and her baby - she's a sweet little calf. If we keep any heifers (female calves) for replacement cows she will definitely be one.
Hubby running the tractor and baler

Finally some calves out in the pasture. The front two are twins even though they don't look the same or are even the same colour. Sadly when they were about 3 months old their mama died. We have no idea why, just found her dead laying in the bush. She might have eaten some poisonous weed or she might just have had a heart attack - some cows do. But they seem to be doing just fine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The kitchen continues......

I decided I didn't like the light mint green I had painted the back splash boards or the hallway beside the kitchen, so I redid them. I tore out the pineboard, bought new ones and stained them. - to get this colour I first put on a coat of Danish Walnut and then a coat of Red Mahogany. Hubby says he likes this much better than the light green, good thing cause I'm getting tired of redoing it! I still have to put on a couple of coats of satin varethane so I can wipe it down.
I painted the hallway the same light mint green as the kitchen, that's when I decided I really didn't like that colour at all. I had painted my office an avacado green, so I mixed the last bit of that with the light green and repainted the hallway. It looks much better, it's not as dark as the office but makes the white trim stand out much better. I may repaint the kitchen (just the wall above the cupoboards and around the fridge with the same light avacado, but that will just have to wait a while, my gardening is getting behind.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Kitchen!

Not being of sound mind or that great a body either, I decided to redo some of my kitchen. I needed a project to keep my mind busy while I tried to quit smoking. Not one of my brightest ideas - yes, the kitchen needed doing, but maybe I should have given a little thought as to how much stress it was going to create in my life! Never the less it is done.

As you can see it was ceramic tile and although they did match the counter top they had never been installed properly and were falling off leaving large ugly spaces.

Around the top was a border of sunflowers - was being the operative word, half of it was gone leaving just the paper backing. The woman we bought the house from said she was in the process of redoing the kitchen, but had sold the house before she could finish. Like so many other things in this home, her projects were very poorly done just quick cover ups to make a sale. She said she had hired a contractor to do the work, turns out it was her uncle who had no prior experience and it shows!

Anyway I ripped off all the tiles, got rid of the border wall paper, washed and scrubbed every inch of the kitchen and installed pine bead boards. That took me 3 days and once that was done, much to hubby's horror I painted it all a light green.

It did clean it up nicely, but hubby was right I should have never painted the back splash. It should have stayed the natural pine and I should have covered it in a couple of coats of varethane so I could wash it easily.
So, as soon as I get the energy I'm going to rip it all out and start again!
The kitchen saga will contine............

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quitting Smoking!

I decided it is time to quit smoking (again). I have quit several times in the last 20 years, sometimes for as long as a year, sometimes as short as a day. The last time was in 2002 - that one lasted almost a year. I did well from November till the following September when my Mother died, followed closely by our dear old dog Archie in November and then my Mother-in-law at Christmas. It was too much, I went back to smoking.

That spring of 2003 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I said to my doctor, "I guess I should quit smoking again". He said, "No! It's much too stressful and you don't need more stress right now".

Six years later I'm thinking maybe it's time again. I could use the money (I'm saving for a trip to Kentucky, you know), I'm sick of the smell, it would be nice to be able to breath and smell again plus it's just plain STUPID to smoke.

Today is actually day 10 of the plan, I haven't had a puff since the morning of the 4th of August. Although I have nicotine gum, patches and lozenges in the house I haven't needed them. I have stocked up on hard candies, sunflower seeds, caramels, lots of fresh fruit and some jumbo drinking straws cut to the length of a cigarette to suck on or chew on while I'm on the computer.
The one place I thought I'd have a hard time was when I was on the computer, I literally drank coffee and chained smoked while sitting here. I have had to limit my time a little at first, but it's getting better already.

I also decided to keep my mind busy I needed a project, so rather than just put up wainscoting in the bedroom, I decided to redo the kitchen first! Trying to do this while quitting smoking was not one of my better ideas! But it is about half done, and I haven't had a ciggie but that old drinking straw has sure had a chomping a time or two. Hubby bless his heart has had the brains to stay out of my way and not give me any little tips on how to do what I'm doing.

I hope this is the last time, but you never know.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Walk Around the Farm Yard

It is such a beautiful morning I thought you might like to go for a walk around the farm. The first one is in the field looking north towards the farm yard.... then looking south from the deck to where I was standing for the first picture. You can see the bales we did yesterday in the far field - due to the cold dry spring and now grasshoppers our hay crop is pitiful. Last year we made 160 bales on that field, this year only 97 - it's going to a miracle if we get enough feed for the cows this winter.

My garden and greenhouse - the potatoes look good, the garden on the other side of the greenhouse is pretty sad looking this year.

Looking at the east end of the house.

The north side....

and the south side. Tomorrow I'll take you haying!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pride goeth before a fall!

I bought a new (to me) truck last month - it's a 2005 Dodge Dakota, and has all the toys you could ask for and fancy chrome everywhere. Although it's 4 years old it has really low milage and has been very well looked after. A couple of days ago I washed it and shinned it up and the next morning and went to town. While I was in grocery shopping I could see through the front windows a couple of young men looking at the truck and discussing something. Of course I thought "Oh, they like my truck" and felt rather proud of how good it looked. A little while later after I had come back from another store and was walking down the street, I saw a man and a woman point at the truck as they walked by and say something, again I thought they were discussing how good it looked.
When I got home as I got out I glanced at the windshield and OMG there was a DEAD MOUSE stuck to it!!! It was just below the windshield wipers, there is a black edge at the bottom of the glass and I couldn't see the damn thing from inside. I realized what everyone was pointing at and talking about - I felt rather silly to say the least.
I knew Simba had been playing with a dead mouse the night before beside the truck, tossing it up in the air and doing kitty things with it, when I went to get it and throw it in the bush I couldn't find it. Now I know where it went!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Walking in the rain

We had horrific thunder storms last night and about 1/2 an inch of rain. This morning it was grey and drizzley and the temps. hung around the 50 degree mark.
I tried to find housework to do, but couldn't find anything that interested me (like it ever interests me!), did some digging on family genealogy, tried to nap, finally gave up and went walking in the rain.
Molly the Collie and Max the Mouser came with me and we wandered for about a mile around the farm. Strangely Max always likes to come for a walk with me even if it's raining, some of the other cats will start out, but the least sign of dampness they head back to the house (the big woossies).
I've always loved walking in the rain, even as a kid, as long as there was no thunder and lightening. It clears my mind, refreshes my soul and gives me time to think about things. I love getting back home and dropping the wet things at the door, towelling my hair and putting on nice warm dry clothes - my jammies this time. Depending on how cold I got I like a nice cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate and warm fuzzy slippers.
On this trip I've decided I must loose some weight, it's really been creeping up the last few years. That and the fact that we had company the other day and after they left, I mentioned to hubby that Liz had gained a lot of weight. He replied "Oh she's not that bad, she's no bigger than you, it's just her clothes are 2 sizes to small". I really had to remind myself that hubby is one of those people who couldn't care less what someone looks like, as long as they are decent and honest.
I also decided that my fall house project will be to put bead board wainscoting in the bedroom. I'll use pine boards and then put a white wash on them. I built a headboard last year of the same stuff so it should match. I did wainscoting in the spare room a couple of years ago and used the sheets of fibre board - the stuff was horrible and I still don't like the look.
I'm going for the romantic victorian look, maybe some nice plates on the wall along with some old photos framed in antique frames. Floral bedspread and curtains, my grandmothers lace doilies placed here and there.....
Yes, walking in the rain inspires me!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Growing roses

Growing roses just takes patience. I've been doing it for about 15 years with some sucesses and lots of failures.
First roses need sunshine and lots of it - mine are planted where they get sun all day as well as plenty of water is dry spells. Other wise they will won't bloom. Although I do buy hardy roses, I also plant the tender tea roses. What kills the tender ones is not the cold - once the ground freezes and there is a layer of snow, the become dormant and are fine - it's thawing out in the spring then having temperatures drop to abnormal lows as happened this spring.
The two I have shown here are a Teresa Bugnet (pronounced Boonyay) the first pic. and a William Baffin a hardy climbing rose. I'm thinking the William Baffin would look lovely on your pergola. The TB lost a few branches this spring, but it still stands nearly 8 feet tall and is covered in blooms now. The WB which had a lot of "winter kill" and I had to cut it down to about a foot high this spring (it's in the picture of the old bedframe), but it is already putting up lots of new branches.
I have another one called a John Davis which is planted by the back door, it too is a climbing rose but has nothing to climb on so it is always hanging over the step and getting in the way! It has light pink flowers and is so pretty but no smell.
All three of these roses are from Canada and are bred to withstand the cold, but you should be able to find them in Chicago. They are listed in the American Rose book.
The Teresa Bugnet is one of the few roses which will bloom repeatedly in the shade. I had a neighbour who had one planted on the East side of her house behind some trees, it never saw the sun but it didn't seem to care.

Monday, July 13, 2009

More flowers

We must be nuts in this country - we wait 10 months for 2 months of flowers! When they finally bloom we're so excited, I guess we're easy to
This is a favorite of mine the Morden Blush Rose, it's hardy and the blossoms are so delicate, but no smell. The columbines on the north side of the house are in full bloom.

Morden Fireglow Rose also hardy but no smell, it looks a lot like a tea rose with long stemmed blooms.

Buff Pixie Lily

One of the new tea roses Pat Austin, I bought to replace those that died.

A new lily called Cappuccino. I have about 20 different lilies, they grow so well here. I hope to add more this fall or next spring.