Saturday, December 30, 2006

Portzelky (New Years Cookies)


It's been suggested to me that I post some recipes from time to time. I've decided to do just that. You will find them under the "label" to the left of the screen. Ordinarily I will try to post a photo of the finished product but since New Years Day is fast approaching . . well you will see the picture on January 2. I thought to myself. . . now, should I wait and post this recipe after new years day so that you can see how we celebrate? And then I thought but no, what if they then feel cheated out of this nice Mennonite tradition? If you do try these or if you would like to add some comments to this recipe post I would welcome that feedback. I will try to explain the method as simply as I can. For those of you not familiar with Mennonite foods I can only say that yes these are deadly but yummy.

I just went to the barn to get some fresh eggs for the ingredient photo and now Terry thinks I'm all set to make some of these. He's a big fan of the Portzelky and in fact he has a penchant for all Mennonite food. I'll just be directing him to the calendar to review what day it is today. We only make these on January 1 . . no exceptions, not even for him.


Portzelky (Terry's Grandma's Recipe) pronounced . . . parceltche

In a large bowl put
2 tbsp. yeast
1/2 cup warm water (like a baby bottle)
1 tsp. sugar

Stir the yeast, warm water and sugar together slightly and let rest 10 minutes.

Add

1/2 cup sugar
5 beaten eggs
1/4 cup very soft butter or melted is fine
2 1/2 cups of warm milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt


Stir this together very well.

Add

6 cups of raisins (these must be fresh . .not something you dig out of the bottom of the drawer)
If you don't want this many raisins that is just fine.

Then start to stir in the flour. You'll need 7 cups.
This will make a fairly stiff batter.
Cover this up with plastic wrap or a lid and let rise until its doubled about 1 hour.

Drop by tablespoons into hot, deep fat ( I Use Canola oil) and fry until golden brown. Now this can be a bit tricky. If the fat is not hot enough they will soak up too much fat and that is not good. If the fat is too hot they will brown too quickly and still be doughy in the middle. It's a good idea to throw some bread cubes in first to see how they fry. After all these years I still usually have to throw out the first one or two. It's a good idea to stick in a toothpick to the middle of the Portzelky every once in a while to make sure it comes out clean.

When you take them out of the oil, put them on some paper towel to sop up the oil.

OK now, Put out a big bowl of sugar and dip them in and have a cup of coffee to balance it into a proper meal.

Don't forget to call all your family and friends and invite them over for some good ethnic Mennonite food.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

it's installed

Did I mention that I got a new sewing machine for Christmas? I've read the manual through at least 3 times and I'm ready for the install.
I don't have a sewing room in our bungalow but Terry has made a sewing closet in my laundry room. It's the niftiest and I quite like it. He had built in my last Bernina which as I have mentioned earlier is 28 years old and is now happily residing in Bea's house. In the above picture you can see Terry is now measuring the difference to my counter top. Luckily this new machine is a pinch bigger for the adjustment.

Ah, the joys of marrying a handyman. Terry is a master Bricoleur. If a college degree could be had in Bachelor of Bricolage, he would certainly already achieved that several times over. You single girls might want to think about that and even ask about your date about his handyman credentials.

So, here it is all installed. Pretty slick, don't you think? Yesterday after the install I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure the "sewing computer" out. I laughed when I realized that it threads itself. How perfect is that for my middle aged eyes? My mom used to say that God threaded her machine for her every time. She would point the thread in the right direction and say a prayer. She was always quite amazed that it literally threaded itself.
I practised how to program in special stitches and how to write my name. A little like school. It is definitely a dream machine. I will try very hard not to talk about my new sewing computer in every post.

Tonight we are having friends over for dinner and I'm trying to make a "authentic spaghetti and meatball" sauce that I found on the Internet. It's called Anthony's Spaghetti and Meatballs. I've spent the last three hours making this so I hope it will be worthwhile. The recipe is detailed down to how many minutes to stir the sauce before you add the next ingredient. I've always felt that I have a pinch of Italian blood in my Mennonite veins. I just love Italian food.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Day 2006


Apparently I've been a good girl.
Breakfast for two

Bea's Poinsettia napkins . . . that girl has such patience.

Lunch time snack of spincah and aritchoke dip.

Every year Terry's sister Brenda and her husband Rik have given the boys cash. Every year they begin to plot sometime after Boxing day about how they will make that cash somewhat difficult to get to. The game started quite simply when they were still quite young. They had put a couple of Santa Claus ornaments on the tree with money hidden in them. Since then they've hidden the money in old ties, inside wine bottles with the corks securely in place, money made into lovely japanese fans. folded into tiny little squares and put into those little foil decoration boxes that are used in floral arrangements, inside 2 of the rolls of toilet paper of a 4 roll pack and then taped back into the package and I can't remember what all. This year it was put between 2 blocks of wood which were glued together and then bolted 4 times with long screws. I think that they could put in Monopoly money and the kids would still be happy.

Rik and Brenda plotting their next move, looking none to pleased that those kids got into the money again. How many sleepless nights will they have before next Christmas. Thanks Rik and Brenda for being a great aunt and uncle.

Stuart and Karlee with a Christmas "Halo"? and new Christmas socks.

Mom enjoying her family.

All in all it was a really great day. We sadly overindulged and we suffered a bit for that. I tried a new turkey brine this year which I'm happy to report was quite tasty. I tried a new Yam Puff recipe that was delish. The boys didn't complain about the few dried cranberries that I snuck into the dressing. I didn't overcook the broccoli. My girls cleaned up after the dinner which was so sweet of them. After they all left Terry and I quickly cleaned up the mess and then relaxed, listened to Christmas music and talked about what a wonderful time we had.

Monday, December 25, 2006

peace on earth

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to all men on whom His favour rests."
Luke 2 :14

Sunday, December 24, 2006

the sun of righteousness



On this Christmas eve morning I was making the bed. It was 7 something in the morning and I glanced up at the window and saw a pink reflection on the side of the barn. I ran for my camera, and my slippers and tore out to the field to capture the sunrise. As I looked at it I nearly cried and I thought . . . was it a morning like this? I cannot imagine how beautiful and majestic the star over Bethlehem must have been but I thank God for this briefest moment of amazing delight. This is the third verse of Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Hail the heav'n born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with the healing in His wings;
Mild He lays His Glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new new-born King!"
Charles Wesley 1743
May all of you have a blessed Christmas.
Thank you Jesus.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas letter vol. 1

While other families have consistently and kindly sent out Christmas letters each and every year, Terry and I have enjoyed, read, contemplated, procrastinated and haven't. I have however found a new avenue in the world of blogging and have therefore decided that this year will be volume 1 of the Family Christmas letter.

We have had a wonderful year. There has been nothing earth shattering so it's all good. We've worked and played and learned to be a empty nest couple. Terry and I often look at each other and realize how blessed we are to be in love. How is it that a couple of 19 year old kids can date for 4 years of high school, get married and as far as it is humanly possible . . live happily. So now we are finding a new balance in our lives of wanting to enjoy our adult children and at the same time allowing them to have a new center of gravity in their own homes.

Terry has continued to enjoy full time work on our laying hen farm. His highlight this year was building the shop. We had our tractor stolen from behind the barn early this year and realized that we needed to have a secure area for our equipment and also for Terry to have a workspace. I have jokingly said that I need to install one of those big rounded mirrors on my porch so I can see if the lights are still glowing in the shop. He is the handyman of handymans and tends to lose track of time in his new favorite dwelling.

I have enjoyed some time helping Dorothy at her Bed and Breakfast. It has been purely for pleasure and they treat me so well. I've learned much about hospitality in their home.

The highlight of this year was taking our family including our Mom to Maui in May. We left the same day that Bea handed in her last assignment at university. We had such a great time together and will forever enjoy the memories of that uninterrupted family time. Bea had the misfortune of breaking her arm but she is a noncomplaining trooper and continued to smile.

This has been a milestone year for Bea. She graduated from university and has started to teach. She has recently accepted a position and we know that she will be a blessing in her class. Terrence and Bea built a house this summer and have been busy making it a very welcoming home. Terrence continues to work in the Steel Industry and this year he started a side business with a friend, wiring and installing home theatre systems.

Stuart and Karlee continue to work hard in their careers. Stuart is a software developer and Karlee is a Registered Nurse. They have begun a renovation in their basement and have completed the media room. They worked together to redo their entire yard and have done a great job of making their home really cozy.

While our children are grown up, we are still their parents and we still feel joy when they are excited and full of anticipation. We stress when their plates are too full and they are exhausted and we want to carry them and not let anything sad ever happen to them but that would not be realistic. We try to do what our parents did for us. We pray for them and trust that God will bless them and strengthen them and make them a blessing to others.

As for Terry and I . . well on most days if you drive by the bungalow at 7:00 am, you'll find us sitting at the island in our kitchen having breakfast. If you drive by at noon, we'll be sitting there eating our lunch and at 6:00 we'll be enjoying our dinner.

It's a wonderful life.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

working in the shop

Terry is making something "special" for our friend Ken who is retiring on Thursday. On Friday we are having a care group Christmas/retirement party. Terry's new shop is still a huge novelty for him as it was finished just a few months ago. Up until now he has worked in the barn in the generator room where I can walk straight and I don't flinch anymore but Terry has bonked his head more times than he'd like to remember.

When he said that he was going to move over his work bench the boys groaned and really wanted him to splurge and buy a proper work bench. Terry doesn't just discard things so easily. He had inherited his grandfathers workbench who was a cobbler in Yarrow when he first immigrated from Russia. From Yarrow the workbench moved to a small house in Vancouver and somewhere down the line Terry got it. It's still as solid as the day it was made. Terry moved it over from the room under the barn and painted it all up and put a new work top on it. Do you ever wonder if there is something that you have used for years that someone will want to keep forever just because it belonged to you?

So now Terry is making a special plaque that will properly commemorate Ken's faithful years at Chrysler and although I could have shown it to you, we won't unveil it until Friday and then perhaps I'll shoot a photo for your perusal. It is actually quite a hoot and we hope he'll find the humor in it. When Terry retired from Safeway a few years ago, Ken and Linda made a scarecrow effigy using all the old Safeway work attire. We were going to burn it but it was such a thoughtful gift we couldn't quite part with it.

It's actually quite crazy that we are even thinking down the road to retirement. We are having a party for a friend who is retiring. How crazy is that?

Oh, and this is a PS. Terrence is not having a time out. He is perhaps a little zoned out after another short night and early morning to work.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

visa card art


I'm finished shopping.
How can you tell? I didn't want to post something one week before Christmas and not be festive about it so the picture is my take on the "festivus" of this.
I'm somewhat reticent about posting this story because it reveals several character flaws which I'm not obligated to reveal but in light of the fact that I've delighted in telling stories of Terry I suppose I will tell.
Yesterday I made a purchase over the telephone after doing my homework on the Internet. I've done this plenty of times before and did not feel at all apprehensive about the procedure. I was in a bit of a hurry as I had nearly forgotten to do this and I needed some flowers delivered yesterday.
The questions were all quite familiar except that after asking for the expiry date she also asked for the last three numbers on the back of the card which I quickly gave her and finished the call. It wasn't until later when we were with friends and we were discussing it that I began to feel uneasy and actually quite worried. Those of you who know me will understand that once I worry I become fixated on my concern.
When we got home I asked Terry if I should call Visa and he said well if your not going to sleep then yes, but I said "no, it'll be fine after all, I initiated the call. Right"? Wrong. I didn't sleep. Terry did. I finally got up and went and laid on the couch waiting for the morning to come so I could call Visa with my concern. I know that they have a 24 hour call line but our bungalow isn't big enough to do that without waking up Terry and he has a cold and I couldn't do that to him.
To make matters worse in the middle of the night as I was fidgeting around I realized that my necklace was missing and I never take it off as it was a gift from Terry. Oh brother, I couldn't do anything about this either because our bungalow isn't soundproof and the wood floors creak in the middle of the night and so I couldn't run around looking for it.
So first thing in the morning I phoned Visa and . . no there had been no unusual purchases made and yes the card was still fine (but as you can see I asked for a new one). The card I had yesterday had just recently been turned into art work. Then I looked for my necklace and there it was nicely put on my dresser. I don't know, I was obviously in a state last night.
I'm actually really very thankful that there wasn't a problem this morning and even though I prayed like the dickens last night I still worried and I don't like that very much about me. Someday I'll list for you the ridiculous things I've worried about for nothing. My Dad was a wonderful and kind man and the only thing I can think of that could be perceived as a character flaw was that he well . . .worried. I'm not the only one in the family that was blessed with this trait and I probably won't be the last.
So, today I have a headache. This morning by 8:00 we were at Starbucks after I got my life sorted out. Terry bought me a very nice mug with his Visa card. All is well. I'm very thankful that God blessed me with a man who doesn't scorn me. I'm very blessed.
Let the week of Christmas begin.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"shoppa go-nna" & the quilt

I finished my quilt this week. I'm glad. I just thought I'd let you have a look. (Especially those in the Essential quilt club.)

"Shoppa go-nna" is my own personal neologism and I like it. I coined this phrase some time ago and my girls know it means serious stuff. Yesterday Terry and I went to find the last few trinkets for our beloved and deserving children. We know that Christmas is not about the gifts but we delight in finding them a treasure or two. It is mind befuddling to think that if we feel joy in such trivial and superficial giving, how much joy must God have felt when he sent Jesus as a gift to us.

Although the storm outside was brewing and I felt somewhat compelled to stay at home so as to not miss a speck of it, but we once again put our feelings aside to think of our beloved children. We went to the mall (inside with no windows to see the storm rip) and Terry went upstairs to Sears' tool section to seek stocking stuffers and I headed downstairs to look for goodies there. We always check to make sure our cell phones are turned up so that we can locate each other when we are done. As you may well know, cell phone reception leaves a bit to be desired in the mall. After just a few minutes, I realized that there was nothing to fit the bill downstairs and tried to call Terry for a rendezvous point. Ah, the phone kept cutting out and I wasn't even sure it had rung for him so I figured I may as well head back up the escalator to find him. I was about half way up and I see him coming down the other side. We wave and I point to the bottom as if to say I'll meet you downstairs and he also points down. I then took a short cut through the boys wear and hurried to the down escalator. I'm half way down and I see Terry heading back up the other side. He just smiles. Now, I don't know should I wait down there or should I head back up knowing that I'll see him grinning again coming down. I won't call him any names. Last time I did that, people started calling him a kook on the street. Not nice.
We later ate a hot dog at the mall. We find it strangely enjoyable, sitting there waiting for people we know to come by for a visit. Terribly fun.
Well on the storm note. It was not disappointing. We lay in bed and at one point I almost suggested that we move away from the window. The bungalow took a bit of a shaking and I wondered whether Terry would be going up again to glue down more shingles. At 11:00 the wind gusts were 91km. and it was even more frightful a bit later on. I was hoping the schools would be closed for my dear ones who teach but alas, the storm cleared.
I just love a good storm, its so invigorating.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

big egg little egg


When I ask Terry to please bring me in some eggs for baking, I'm never entirely sure what will come to the house. He'll walk in and set the tray down like nothing is at all unusual. I look at him and say "what is that thing?" to which he replies "you said you wanted eggs."
When I cracked this massive egg open, it actually had another complete egg inside. Pretty wierd. I just feel bad for the hen. What would go through a hens mind after delivering that? I can't think of anything else to report about this and no I won't sit in the barn with my camera waiting for some super clucking to begin.

Monday, December 11, 2006

tim and flo

This morning Tim and Flo came for breakfast at 8:30. They both had the day off and because of our busy schedules we've resorted to breakfast get togethers. I copied Dorothy's breakfast bake thing that she does for her B&B and made some blueberry muffins to boot.

Terry and Tim were friends first because they both worked at Safeway and he certainly would have been Terry's best man but he went off to Europe to do a stint of Bible School. Later on when Tim and Flo got married we started to develop a friendship that has lasted more than 26 years. Our kids were a bit older than their kids but nonetheless we went camping together every summer for 14 years. We looked forward to that all year long, saving a little every month so we would have the funds available for 2 weeks in the Okanagan.

We have played more hands of Rook, shared more dinners, discussed the ins and outs of Safeway, and hiked the trails of Manning Park with them more than with any other family. They were there for us when we found out 25 years ago that Terry had cancer and we felt sick with them when 2 of their children were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Friendship really does set in deep when you work through tough times together.

The Tim stories are endless but the one I'll relate today happened during the time that Terry had a broken leg. (sometime I'll tell you about that era in our lives) We decided that even though Terry's leg was broken there was absolutely no reason that all of us should suffer with boredom. It was a beautiful summer day and the kids wanted to go to Stanley Park. We were always looking to borrow some vehicle that could manage the nine of us and at the time the only option was my parents camper van. We borrowed a wheel chair for Terry and off we went. We weren't 10 minutes from home when Tim nearly drove us over a 4 foot embankment which would have surely toppled our camper van. Had it not been for the collective scream to alert Tim we would have been down the other side of that narrow curb. This did not bode well for the rest of the day but we were not to be discouraged.

When we got to Stanley Park Terry obediently presumed the position in the wheelchair and off we headed to the Kids train. This was at a point in Tim's life where his energy was abounding and he set off at a rather brisk pace. The more Terry told him to slow down the faster he went. The warning bells were ringing. Now I don't know if you are familiar with the path leading up to the train but it has a lot of gnarly roots under the scant layer of pavement. We could see the small front wheels begin to quiver and Terry could feel the wheelchair begin to shake. Without any warning at all the wheelchair abruptly stopped, hurling Terry into the air. As fast as he went up he came down skidding to a halt with his plaster cast scraping along for a good 2 feet. When it was all said and done his heel was exposed and had it not looked so funny we would have been more convincing about our concern. Ah yes, these are the memories that will be retold year after year and they just get funnier. I will be sure to tell more Tim tales another time. We have been continually amused at Tim's defiance at the status quo. His hair styles over the years have changed from big Afro when they got married to shaved absolutely bald in more recent years. I really need to invest in a scanner so I can amuse my loyal readers with pictures from the past. This morning he informed us that he is working on a Grampa Munster look. Ah yes, he really is an entertainer at heart.

Tim and Flo have been a blessing in our lives. We don't even bother to get out the rook cards anymore . We would be doing too much talking and not enough playing. Now we are just like I remember my parents being when they would have "old" friends over talking about the good old days. Oh my.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

care group

Sunday mornings we generally have an early morning coffee with our care group. I can't remember what year we began doing that and although it's not a hard and fast rule it is assumed. We recently ran into a snag in that our usual establishment closed its doors and this morning we hunkered down at Starbucks. Did you know that you are not allowed to take pictures around their displays?
We have a diverse group of people which makes our conversations intriguing and sometimes down right intellectual. Why just this morning Ray and Becky were saying on the way to meet us that all of us girls end our names with an A and all the guys end with either a Y or and N. At this point I said but if we start to say John . .nY and Ken . . nY, well then all the guys will end with a Y and we'll be good to go. One day we realized that all of us girls but Linda had Peters for our maiden names, but none of us are related. This gives you a bit of an idea of the useful information that goes back and forth. It is quite invigorating.
Together we have shared our daily lives and have tried to be an encouragement to one another. We spend a good deal of time laughing and talking. We have gone on Dinner Cruises to see the Fireworks, we helped at church functions together, we've even helped each other with a bit of renovating, we've enjoyed the benefits of each others expertise but I daresay, what we enjoy most is eating together.
Together, we've come up with some great ideas. One year we even planned a wedding together with Ken and Linda when their daughter Karlee and our son Stuart got married. (Stuart and Karlee actually came up with the idea to date by themselves . . really)

Yes, it is a blessing to have friends who are a constant in our lives. Friends, who are accepting of us but who are also willing to help us in our areas of struggle. What a wonderful thing it is to belong.
Well I must hurry to get brunch ready. The chill'ns are all coming and we have dinner guests coming tonight and I still need to finish the Creme Brulee.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

happy anniversay

Happy 32 Anniversary Gerry and Heidi. Thank you to both of you for being such a wonderful brother and sister-in-law. May God bless you with many more wonderful years together. I had such a fun time looking for a perfect picture. I had to do some pretty tricky cropping to post this picture of you. It's not too often that you both behave yourselves at the same time. You bring life and spunk to every event. Have a wonderful anniversary celebration. We love you both.

chickens on the tree

A few years ago I put a trio of fake alpine trees our family room. I hunted around for some Chicken decorations and couldn't really find anything casual. I left it for a few days, planning on looking around a bit more, quite happy with some mini lights to add a bit of ambiance in the evenings. Later Terry came in with about 20 of these chickens that he made out of sheet metal, a nail and hammer and some tin snips. I added the raffia ribbon. He draws the line at making bows. Such a sweet thing to do. A little romantic I think. I'll love them forever. Someday when Terry and I become superannuated and our kids cart us off to the old folks home I hope they have the good sense to decorate our little fake tree with the little chickens. If we're not allowed a little tree, perhaps they could string the chickens together and tie them to our bed posts.

I helped Dorothy a bit again today and I'm happy to report that I didn't dump anything on the floor. It was a bit funny though, after we served lunch we were making croissant sandwiches for ourselves. I said to Dorothy . . ."oh shoot, did they eat all the lettuce?" at which she replied "did you put it out?" Oh boy, Dorothy and I had an entire carefully crafted lettuce flower sort of thing (that I had bit a bit proud of) all to ourselves.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

up at the B&B




Dorothy is finishing up her famous Lemon and Blueberry muffins and Monica is ironing the sheets for the beds. She does such a beautiful job.

I ran up to give Dorothy a hand again today at her Bed and Breakfast. She had a group in for a meeting and needed a bit of help with lunch. Dorothy made Cream of Potato and Leek soup for the starter. This was followed by a Christmas Salad which consisted of Spinach, Cranberries, Avocado and a fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette. I made Turkey and Asparagus Lasagna which had a Hollandaise base in individual gratin dishes. For dessert they had Creme De Mint Pie. Talk about a decadent and yummy lunch.
Dorothy suggested that we make enough lasagnas for our own dinners later which I whole heartily agreed to.
Everything went really well and then I went home.
There are some days when it seems like I'm so clumsy I can't hardly believe myself. I took my lasagna out of the oven and promptly dumped the entire thing on the floor. After that Terry and I argued for a bit who would be eating that one. Oh no, its not what you think, I had to wrestle him for the dumped one. He even wanted to trade half way through. If you don't hear from me in a few days, it will be safe to assume my floor was not quite clean enough. I should just be very thankful I dumped it on my floor and not on some poor unsuspecting guest. That thought sends a quiver up my spine.
It reminds me of the time I helped my mom make individual trifles for the Christmas dinner she was having for her brothers and sisters. She happily ran off to LaRose to get her hair done in a lovely beehive while I carefully made mini trifles in her Pinwheel crystal parfait glasses. When I had them all finished I proceeded to put them on a cookie sheet to chill in the fridge. What I neglected to do was to put a tea towel under the glasses and when I started to walk with them they started in slip and in dreadful slow motion I watched them all crash to the ground. No one ate those. Needless to say I cried. My Dad came in to see what the problem was assessed the situation and promptly ran to town and came back with 20 more Pinwheel Crystal parfait glasses. Such an incredibly sweet man. The good news is that they did have their individual trifles for dessert that night.
I just want to say thank you to Dorothy and Monica for indulging me with the picture taking. You are great sports. God has truly blessed me with the fun of this sort of part time gig. It gives me a chance to get out and meet interesting people and at the same time meet my gregarious nature.



Sunday, December 3, 2006

debacle and decor

Well I've had a fabulous week and a frustrating one at the same time. First of all I'll tell you about my debacle to post. I went to post a picture and my edit toolbar was gone. No spellcheck, no picture uploader, nothing, zilch. I finally went onto the blog group help and realized that many others were having the same problem. One way to fix it is to clean out the cache or something. The other suggestion was to press F5 and refresh. Poof, the toolbar was back. So if you run into a similar problem, try that.
Otherwise the week has been great. I would like to tell you that Terry and I have always romantically chopped down our Christmas tree together but sadly that would be a fib. We have however the past few years started that tradition. I've realized that we need to continue to start new fun things together in our "autumn" years. (that was a bit of a joke about us being in our autumn years) This year with the bad weather we just didn't have the gumption to go out into the field and cut one down. Typically it's the one in the very back of the field that I love the most and neither one of us was willing to go there. This year we went to the Garden Store for our tree hunting. Again, because of the storm they also didn't have any fresh trees in yet except for the flocked ones. Thus the flocked tree. It was fun to do and next year we will trudge through the open field Starbucks in hand choosing the right tree.

The other thing I wanted to mention in the picture is the antique cabinet. It is possibly the most valuable, sentimental piece of furniture we own. It was built in 1937 by my paternal grandpa for my Dad and though I'm uncertain, it was possibly for my parents wedding gift. It was their closet, kitchen cabinet, desk and chest of drawers. It has survived a trip across the prairies, the flood of 1948 and a move to the city and back to the country again. I love imagining what it must have held over the years. They would have never imagined that one day it would be our entertainment center.

We also hosted a dinner party in our bungalow for 10 guests. I love to make the house look festive and inviting for Christmas but without the laughter and sounds of people filling our home it would mean nothing. Somewhere between Terry's claustrophobia of having too many people squeezed in and my love of filling the house to the rafters, we have learned to compromise. It wasn't until this particular party where I said, "you really do feel claustrophobic?" The poor guy has been telling me that for 28 years, and I always thought it was more of a . . . "we're going to be a little full aren't we?" He always offers to sit at the island which is simply not an option. We had a couple over fresh from New Zealand. They have only been in Canada 1 week and so I asked if they have found very many cultural differences at which he replied . . "well we are quiet while we eat". Oh dear, this must have been a bit of a shock.

We were invited to both of our sons and daughter-in-laws for dinner. Everything was amazing. The dinners were wonderful, the houses were perfectly decorated in warmth and Christmas splendor.
What a bunch of blessings.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

winter 1939

I was out taking a few pictures this morning and I was once again glad as I have said to Terry time and time again these past few days . . ."I'm glad I'm the lady". This wind is still gusting from the northeast and I'm more of a "window" snow storm lover. As I was thinking about how much I love to stay warm in my cozy home during storms, I was reminded once again of my Mom.
I thought about her childhood winters and her experience when my great grandma passed away. They lived in the prairies where cold doesn't begin to describe winter. I'll give you a few excerpts of her record.

"It was February 1939. I had just turned seventeen. . . .Uncle Peter Penner came on the yard . . .we knew something must be wrong for him to come in the bad weather. He told us that Grandma had a bad stroke and he wanted me to go with him to stay with Grandma and Grandpa till she would feel better again.
The roads were drifted over and the horses kept falling into the snow up to their stomachs and would always have to jump to be able to move on. It was a terrible drive. It must have been the Lord that helped us to their place without the harnesses breaking or even the sleigh. "
She goes on to tell that they couldn't make it to the grandparents in one day and stayed the night at her aunt and uncles. It was only ten miles. By the time they got there her grandma had another severe stroke and they asked my mom to walk two miles to the train station and then take the train to Glenbush and from there find her way home.
She says " I walked along the railroad. I ran almost all the way. I was so afraid the train might come, and I had no where to go to let it pass by. There was only deep snow to fall into. I was at the station only a short while before the train arrived and I was so thankful I made it, the Lord helped me again."
When she got home her parents immediately left to go to the grandparents and the children were left to take care of the farm. My mom was the oldest. They had to water the cattle and horses. They hauled water out of the deep well with a pail. They milked the cows, cleaned out the manure put down fresh straw and brought in enough wood to keep warm at night. She says that they were on their own for 2 nights in the storm. At one point one mean horse bopped her in the nose and broke it but she had to keep going.
Once again I sit here humbled by the strength my mom obviously had. She had an indomitable strength of character I never fully appreciated while she was alive. As I have recently reread her 300 hand written pages, I realize again how blessed our family is to have had a Mom who had an inveterate trust that her future lay in the hands of her Lord Jesus.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

first snow

Otis has a perfectly dry place to sleep but he's a manly dog and likes to pretend he pulls dog sleds in his spare time.

Real icicles. Not like the ones that reached the ground when I was five years old, but they'll do.

Terry saw me taking this picture out of our front door and called over to me something like. . . . "oh here we go, that figures" I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

Terry just came in and said he thought that I would report that he was pushing the snow across to the neighbors yard. . . . that had not occured to me. He is a little paranoid.
I just love the first snow of the season. Some years I wait and wait and wait and feel disappointed at the end of the winter and I sulk around in sad sense of privation. This year we've had fabulous weather already and it's only November.

The first snow of the winter is most exciting. When I was a young thing I would be the first to rise and listen to CFVR (that was our radio station) and listen with anticipation for the school closures. When our children were in grade school I'd be the first to rise hoping that I would have exciting school closures to report. Even when our kids were in university there was still that chance that school could be closed and life would be different for a day or two. Now some of my favorite people are teachers and even now I still hope for them a snow day.

My sweet man knows how much I love the first snow of the year and hid away my engagement ring to propose marriage on that occasion. Luckily for me it was not a snowless winter and we got engaged on November 23, 1977. He knew his chances of me saying "yes" was a given because the world around me is absolutely perfect when it snows.

I know that in a few days the snow will be gone and we'll be back to rain but I thank God for the celebration of a snow day today. Tomorrow morning I'll listen to see if the schools are closed and I'll be on the phone spreading the good news.

Friday, November 24, 2006

lunch with my friend

Today was a delightful day. Kathy and I first met when her and I were both pregnant with our first children. We had sons and they had daughters. We lived a short distance from one another and often went for long walks together pushing our strollers.
A bit of distance has now separated us and the daily walks are long gone but this morning Kathy and I went to do a bit of Christmas shopping. Now that I have daughter-in-laws and she has son-in-laws we can actually Christmas shop in the same stores and advise on each others selections.
Around 11:30 our proclivity is to consider our lunch options. We both love to cook and bake and so we naturally share ideas for recipes and entertaining ideas. We settled for a bowl of steaming Potato Corn Chowder and a Cornmeal muffin.
After a relaxing lunch we went up to the B&B to see how the Christmas decorating is coming along and garner inspiration for our own homes.
Kathy headed home and I landed up staying at the B&B to help Dorothy for a bit. I made 3 chocolate ganache tortes and a caramel sauce. I think I'll find my way back there to help with with that event.

As I think about my day, I feel so grateful for the blessings in my life. This week at my ladies care group, one of the ladies gave us each a little angel holding a sign that says "Give Thanks".
I have so much to be thankful for. God has blessed me with the gift of a husband who loves me, children who love their wives, (and I think us) family and friends who understand my heart, inspire me, and share my joys. Lord help me to honor You by being a blessing to those that you have put into my life.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Otis


Otis came to live with us almost 12 years ago. I had gone grocery shopping to Costco one morning and I noticed a man selling puppies out of the back of his truck. We had recently buried our black lab that never really did understand why rules about going on the road were for his benefit. Knowing that buying puppies from someone out of the back of his truck could be a bit dicey I peered in. I couldn't count because of the ruckus, but he had at least 20 puppies, all different breeds. I spotted this adorable German shepherd puppy and raced home to confer with Terry. Within the hour we had Otis in the back of our truck heading home.
After reading Becky's post (random ponderings) about her vermin problem I was reminded of Otis's early years and our similar problem. Our good friend Peter the poop hauler would invite Otis into the barn at the beginning of his day. Otis would then race back and forth in the barn while Peter moved out the manure, and hunt rats from morning till night. He'd sniff them out grab them by their throat and fling them as high as the rafters and then move on to the next tunnel.
We had a big white cat named Oliver a few years back. Otis and Oliver had an understanding. Otis held the subaltern position. When Oliver met his untimely death on the dangerous road we went back behind the barn to bury him. Otis followed behind looking suspicious of Oliver's lack of movement. When we placed Oliver in the ground Otis stuck his head in the hole to make sure he was not moving. Terry couldn't resist , he let out a loud meow and Otis jumped vertically about 3 feet. It made the otherwise sad occasion quite amusing.
We never taught him to do his toilet behind the barn, he just had the common sense to think of that himself. We never taught him to sit on the loading dock looking ominous, he just knew it would be helpful.
Otis has been slowing down lately. He has retired I suppose since we haven't any vermin left for him to hunt. He seems to be losing it a bit. In the last year or so he has taken up gardening. He knows we don't appreciate his efforts so he's always careful to enjoy his hobby while we are away. On occasion we'll come home and see bark mulch tossed everywhere and he'll slowly skulk away knowing that we'll not be impressed. We've not ever caught him that is until yesterday. Terry had taken off in the afternoon and I was looking out the kitchen window because we were having a major downpour. I watched Otis slowly get up off the porch and head down the steps. The horizontal rain was getting him wet so he must have figured it was as good a time as any for some good digging. He found himself a nice spot, gave a quick glance around and started to dig. I couldn't believe it. I opened up the door and called his name and the look he gave me was "oh shoot". Poor guy. I just couldn't scold him. He looked so guilty all on his own.
I thought I'd write about Otis today and not on some sad day when we have to bury him under the Cottonwood tree beside Oliver. When you buy a puppy out of the back of someones truck and have no idea where it came from and what the temperament of its parents are, you take a risk. Otis is a bit unorthodox as far as German Shepherds go. He's the ruler of our porch and he is just a great dog.

Friday, November 17, 2006

relocating the leaves






Well that was quite the storm. It would be rated at least a eight or nine. When I left off last time, Terry was calling me to come outside and enjoy the fall festivities with him. When I went out it wasn't really raining yet and we still had power. The leaves had pretty much all come off the trees and they were blowing around with gusto.

I was really admiring Terry's method for removing the leaves from our property and I was as usual trying to document his actions. You can see from the last photo that my endeavour to capture every moment of his technique ... well, it wasn't terribly appreciated. He was corralling the leaves along the length of the barn and was doing a fantastic job of making a row which would then be able to be blown behind the barn. At that point the wind was blowing from the west which was the direction Terry was blowing them as well. What you can't see is that when he got them to the end of the barn the wind shifted to come from the south. The picture of the leaves blowing across the street is not our house, its our neighbors house. I know it's just not the same coming from me but you'll have to take my word for it, it was pretty funny. He felt really bad and was quite embarrassed but it wasn't really his fault and we just hoped that the neighbors were not looking out the window.
Our power from the road was off for thirty hours. The winds were clocked at 95 kilometers per hour. Power lines were laden with fir tree branches and telephone poles were leaning over.
Technically we had power through our generator. We were denied cable which put us in a quandary as to the evening activities. We took out our Scrabble game. Imagine that. . . a board game. It was fantastic. The game nearly ended in a tie but I had the good sense to save a blank tile for the very end as well as an "s". So it was all good.
Do to my new found enjoyment of being a "reporter" it may be some time before I'm invited out on a windy day date again but that's all right. I'm not concerned. Winter is coming and I'll l be invited out to see the snow. Such fun.



Wednesday, November 15, 2006

rag quilt craziness


Last night at our Essential Six quilting class, Lori moved us on from cutting squares to sewing squares. We sewed from one corner to the next through the top layer, the flannelet and the bottom layer (which is just like the top). That was easy and I felt quite successful.
This morning I was anxious to lay the squares out so I could have some idea of the finished product and also to be able to sew them together. Originally I started to lay the squares on our table but after I ran out of room I moved it on to the area rug. I should have put a sheet down first so that the border of the rug wouldn't add to my craziness but I'm sure not moving it all again.
There must be a mathematical way to lay out the squares to make them even but math was definitely not my strength so I just went for it. I actually had to take a break and go for a good brisk walk on the treadmill to clear my mind. I'm used to patterns and instructions step by step. I decided it would be good to take a picture of it so I could get a birds eye view of my color deficiencies. Well, I can see that the picture is a good idea and I'm sure you are looking at the same thing I am . . . . noticing the too many beige and too many blue or red in one area. I think after a relaxing lavender bubble bath I'll be ready to tackle it again.
We are quite the scene working together. Last night we put Gilmore Girls on for those of us that enjoy the "fast talkers". I was actually requested to do my sewing during commercial breaks due to the noise velocity of my walking foot. I was quite happy to honour this request since I had my back to the television.
Weather Alert. . .
Terry just came in and told me to come outside for a bit. It's crazy windy weather out there . . . my favorite kind. The wind will blow the cobwebs out my brain and I'm sure that I'll be able to see better when I come in.
Stay tuned for tomorrows weather news and pictures of Terry dealing with the leaves.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

the magnolia tree


It's raining again today and as I look at my precious magnolia tree I see that once again it is giving into yet another releasing of its leaves. It's a rule with me, where we move the magnolia tree moves with us. So far this hasn't been such a difficult task and fortunately it seems to grow quite slow. My parents gave us that tree as a constant reminder of my father-in-law when he passed away. We haven't really needed reminders of Dad, he is fondly remembered often. He was a hands on Dad, with a willing heart to help. He's been gone 12 years already and yet it seems like yesterday. What a wonderful gift in life to be able to call up your Dad and see what he thinks about things and just shoot the breeze.
So my tree will sit quietly for another winter and wait for some warmth to coax its beautiful buds forth. The buds will start already in winter when only an optimist can imagine Spring around the corner.
I have no idea why I thought about Dad today; it's not unusual though. I loved my father-in-law and enjoyed the times he'd stop in for coffee. He would often pick up the boys and drag them around the countryside with him because he hated being alone. He'd bribe them with a promise of doughnuts at the end of the outing. He would tinker endlessly on anything broken and enjoy making the useless, useful again.
When I look outside and see that tree I think of Dad even if its just for a fleeting moment. For now we'll enjoy our memories and anticipate our reunion in heaven ...and we'll continue to be thankful for a Dad who left a legacy that was priceless.

Friday, November 10, 2006

empty nestin


It sure is amazing to me how fast the past 28 years have gone. I married my high school sweet heart right after high school and we really never gave much thought to goals for our life together. My dream from my earliest recollections was to get married and be a mom.
A year and a half into our marriage we had our first child and a year and a half after that we had our next child. I wouldn't claim that it was always terribly easy or that we didn't have difficult situations to work through but we settled into life as a family. We focused on the celebrations of birthdays, holidays and vacations. Every year we saved enough money to take our kids camping. It was nothing fancy. We bought a used soft top tent trailer with a zip on add-on-tent. We usually went with our friends and had such a good time. I'll tell you more about our camping trips another time.
We always said that we were quite happy that we would be young enough to enjoy life after children. I never actually realized how fast that would happen. This year we went camping alone to Manning Park Provincial Park which was always one of our favorites. We have long since ditched the soft top tent trailer but camping is still camping and we'll love it forever. We had a blast.
So where is this all going? Well, now it's just Terry and I. He still amuses me with his antics. We have a bit of a thing at bedtime. He knows how much I hate being the last one to bed so he purposely tries to sneak in first just to be a pest. Last night I realized he was gone and I kind of looked around the house. Now, our bungalow isn't that big and there aren't that many places to hide. (we try that sometimes) I thought to myself; well perfect I'll just sneak into bed first. I went into the dark bedroom and started to take off the many cushions and pillows and I noticed a bulge under the covers. That kook was hiding under there for I don't know how long . . . in wait.
On occasion we feel like we have the empty nest syndrome. I think that's probably normal. On most days though my nest feels just right. In it is the one person I chose to share it with. What a blessing.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

the essential six




Last night was the the first night of the new quilting club. The whole idea started after my niece Lori presented my great niece with a beautiful quilt. It was so beautiful in fact that it inspired within some of us girls the desire to start this craft. I have often thought about quilting, it was something my mom really enjoyed. She blessed many of her grandchildren with cozy grandma quilts. It never really appealed to me until the idea of quilting together with family was brought up.
We actually started a few Saturdays ago by going to the quilting store togther and picked out our fabrics. We met together last night and began to cut our 5 inch squares. I have sewn for a lot of years but I have to say that the pressure of perfect squares made me quiver. Lori is a fabulous teacher and she scurried back and forth between us, helping us figure out how to achieve this goal.
Tanya was unable to attend but she is very organized and already has all her squares cut. She is busy this week preparing for a fundraiser on the weekend which I'll tell you about another time.
I really thought that we should have a proper name. This caused some heckling and good natured teasing. I'm the Aunt and Mother-in-law to these girls and I want this special grouping to have a name. After some debate Lori suggested "the essential six". It's really quite simple. There are six of us quilting and if any of us choose to quit after the first quilt is completed we will change the name accordingly. On the other hand if anyone else sees how much fun we are having together and wants to join, well then we'll adjust the name again. Unfortunately some of my nieces live across the country and can't join in the fun.
Our family has grown over the years and some of the originals have moved away. How fun it would be for me if I could see all of my family regularly. I really hope that I can convince more family members to join in the blogging fun so that we can stay connected. Seeing other families blog together has inspired me and I hope it becomes a contagious joy.
From time to time I'll give updates on our quilting achievements and perhaps you will be inspired to start a quilting club within your own family.


Sunday, November 5, 2006

little coats



There is something I find quite satisfying about sewing surprises. I found this pattern for little girl coats and just got so excited about sewing a few up. It could be that the patterns have become better, but I never seemed to sew that much for my boys when they were little. (not that they would have looked very good in little girl coats)
I sewed the first one up for my great niece baby Shaye. She is now only a few months old and I hope it will fit her next winter and not on Canada Day. The little blue coat Bea helped me come up with the fabric design for her little niece Camryn. Bea covered the buttons and sewed them on. It was a joint project to be sure. It will fit her this winter after I shorten it a few inches.
I'm using my mom's sewing machine that she bought brand new to sew my wedding dress. That machine has sewed like a charm for 28 years. When she passed away 11 years ago I inherited it and many memories. The rolling chair with 2 drawers that came with it still hold the same things that I got it with. Many times I've opened those drawers and thought that I should clean them out and reorganize them. Every time I just put the same things back in. They hold 60 year old knitting patterns that I'll never knit up, a pattern for making birth certificates for her grandchildren, old scissors that can't cut through cotton, an old fur collar that must be from an old coat, knitting needles, bits of fabric, and few old notes that I gave her and on and on, all jammed in those 2 drawers. Someday when my girls clean up that old stool they'll wonder why I never organized those drawers and made use of perfectly good space in my limited sewing closet. When I went through my mom's things after she passed away I sure wondered about a few of her drawers, they must have held memories that were for her alone.
I'm thinking of retiring that old machine. I've put a request into Santa for a nice new Bernina. I'll let you know how that goes. Karlee, my first daughter inherited her grandmas sewing machine so I'll pass this old relic onto Bea. My mom would have like that. In the meantime I'll keep going with my surprises. What fun. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 31, 2006