Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring is here.......


I know, I'm sorry it has been a while..... I've even forgotten what's happened since my last blog so this could be rather short!

So, the snow has melted, Easter has been and gone.... but what a glorious weekend we had. Temperatures reached highs of 29 degrees celsius which made a prefect time to spend outside. Stu and Ruth came over and we had a great time a usual, we took a long walk into the village, took photo's, barbequed and drank, but not too much :) The boys had lots of fun learning to fish with their rods they got at Christmas. They also found a baby snapping turtle that they insisted on keeping so that is now in a tank that they bought in their play room!!

Apart from the usual everyday stuff not much else has been happening really, I am enjoying the return of all the birds and watching the drab colourless garden starting to bloom with the spring sun and rain!

I spent a whole day trying to figure out my first tax return the old fashioned manual way and was getting frustrated with them as nothing is easy to calculate when the paper doesn't talk in plain English! Also it was a nice day out and I wanted to be out enjoying it rather than stuck in on my day off, anyway cutting a long story short and after speaking to Ruth about them..... I went online got a program and let that calculate it for me, I just have to look over it, print it and mail it with just a week or two to spare :) I promise myself not to leave it till the last minute next year!!

Not much happening this weekend, spring showers and sunny spells is the forecast so might be in but might also get my vegetable garden started.... If not I can see it being a small job for Paul, I know how he loves the garden and it would give him something else to do on thier visit :)

Well that's about all for now.... Be back soon

Monday, March 1, 2010

Winter is back .....

And I was almost beginning to believe it was spring, (but only a smidgen)!! The buds are starting to appear on the shrubs, the sun was shining with bright blue skies, wildlife coming out of hibernation then.... SNOW!! For most of last week we had snow and lots of it, I suppose it was just making up for the lack of what we'd had. A good one and a half feet of snow fell altogether in just a few days and this meant lots of plowing for Craig and the 2nd 'Snow Day' of the season for the boys on Friday. They had lots of fun playing out all day building an igloo. Which has totally collapsed now as it hasn't been cold and the weekend temperatures reached a whopping 5 degrees :)
...... After all my complaining about not having much of a winter I am now ready for the snow to melt and wishing for spring.

Well I can't believe it is the 1st of March today..... Where is time going!
We have had a few Birthday's in February, including mine and a good one it was too! Ruth, Stu & boys came over for my birthday weekend and helped (as always) with preparing for the 'Party' so thank you for that. Craig had decided to throw a party... mainly as a house warming for people from his work place but we incorporated both our birthday's in there too. Not everyone came that should have done and it was also missing all our friends back in England but I still enjoyed it and was still standing at the end of the night :) Maybe because Sharon wasn't pouring the triple B&C'S!!

The boy's have been busy, they went on a skiing trip with the school a few weeks back and also went ice skating with the school... they really enjoyed both events but it wasn't without injury! Brad decided that it might be good to fall without putting his hands out to save him! Smack on the floor he fell (ice skating).... which resulted in a broken front tooth. Thank goodness we have insurance that is all I can say. We have a skating arena in the village and every Sunday it is free public skating. We took the boys this weekend, Michael didn't go on much and as his skates fit me I had a try. I haven't been skating for a good 15 years or so and was a little rusty at first.... Fun though! It brought back memories of when I used to go with Karen and Sharon. Good times :)

I was hoping to post something a couple of weeks back now but to be totally honest I really didn't feel like doing anything so I decided that I would do some cooking & baking.... and I did lots of it too! It gives me a little bit of an easier few weeks as I now have enough home cooked meals in the freezer to last a few weeks which equals more ME time :)
Other than that life is just running along just fine and not much else going on right now.
I do have lots of photo's to share with you and hope to get them organised later but for now I will leave you with this quick scrap page that I threw together yesterday.... not my favourite but I promised myself that I would try and do some new pages this year, I used a template from designer digitals and the kit from here.

I have a few things on my agenda for today so I will sign off now but hope to post some pictures at a later date :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

'Brack' Irish Tea Cake

Just a short interim post today with a recipe I would like to share with you.
This is very similar to the Tea bread that I remember Wendy making, I was inspired to make this after Ruth and Stuart brought the whiskey loaf with them a Christmas, (which I said in a previous post)!!. After a little searching I found this recipe and it worked out just as I remembered it :)

300ml cold tea (no milk)
4 tsp Irish Whiskey (although I'm sure any would do!)
110g Sultana's
220g Currants or Raisins
55g Chopped Glace Cherries
55g Chopped mixed candied peel
200g Brown Sugar
225g Self-raising Flour
1 Egg (Beaten)
1tsp Mixed Spice

1. Place the cold tea and whiskey in a bowl. Add the dried fruit, cover and set aside to soak overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 180 C /Gas 4
3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, egg spice and soaked fruit (with soaking liquid) until well mixed.
4. Transfer to a lined loaf tin (1 1/2 to 2lb tin)
5. Bake for approx 1 1/2 hours (depending on oven)!!
6. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out on a wire rack.
7. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy with a nice cuppa!!
If you can't get the self-raising flour and using all purpose flour instead then substitute approx 4tsps flour with baking powder.... this is only a guess though but should lighten it just enough (hopefully).
Sorry I don't have a picture for it.... maybe next time I make it I will remember to take one and add it here!

Back later with more updates :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

What happened to winter?

We are having a very wet day! Miserable, wet and very slushy!!
I hate rain and it hasn't stopped since last night. The temperature is fine at plus 8 but I would prefer a little colder with snow if I had the choice.

I don't have much update on last week really so this will be a short blog.

As I have my new camera and I need to start learning how to use it properly, I have learnt some tips from Ruth and this website which has been very helpful. I am learning how to take photo's on the manual setting along with all the other technical details.
I decided that I needed to set myself a challenge and I am going with photo's of 'Birds in Flight' which is definitely easier said than done and may take me a long time to get what I want. Yesterday I stood for a long time trying to get just one shot and then finally I got this one below.....

It isn't the best photo but it was certainly a good start. The photo is a little noisy so I need to work on my settings some more but I am slowly learning some new techniques and hope that I will get the 'perfect' shot with practice.

I hope to be back later with a recipe that I would like to share with you from last week.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weather today is.....

Overcast and a warm 2 degrees.
We seem to be having a real mild spell right now and a little bit of a thaw going on :) Which brings out the squirrels which as you will see get into all feeders possible. I know lots of people find them a pest but I find them quite comical in their ways and enjoy watching their antics :)

If only it would stay this mild, but from what I have been told it happens around this time of the year and we will get cold snowy days again soon!
I know I shouldn't say it but so far I have felt a little disappointed in the winter here, not because I like the snow so much but just the fact that I expected it to be a lot harsher than it has been. The temperature hasn't bothered me at all (so far!) and neither has the snow..... Maybe because when in the UK you couldn't go out much anyway because of it raining all the time and the fact that there just wasn't much to do without spending money it doesn't seem so bad but at least with being in Canada and having the land we have got, there are lots of things to keep us busy and lots of walks to take. Every time is different too as you never know what you will come across :)

The weekend was just the usual of shopping, cleaning and general day to day stuff!! So nothing much to report there.

Tasks for today:
1) Make Irish tea loaf (Brack) This was triggered off by Stu and Ruth at Christmas. They brought with them a Whiskey cake which was delicious and remined us of the Tea loaf that Wendy used to make many moons ago. If it is any good then I will be back to share the recipe at a later date.
2) Make Saucy Cajun steaks in the slow cooker - Dinner for later in the week
3) Vacuum house from top to bottom (or other way round!!)
4) Do laundry
5) Get outside and see what photo's I can take :)

In one of my last postings I did say that I would be back to show you where we had been the other Sunday. Well we went to see this fella

I emailed a few people before about Nicky but haven't ever posted so I thought I best share him with you. We have been to see him see him quite a few times since we moved here and have taken Shanara there too and she loved him!! He is a three year old Cougar also known as a Mountain lion here! and has been hand reared by Paul who lives just 10 minutes from us.

As Ruth had mentioned it here it thought I would share the photo with you, and yes they are really quite fun.....

and now for one of myself, this is on the Grizzly though and having a try at plowing the drive after the last snow fall :)

and just in case you are wondering, I have spelt 'Plough' the way it should be but also included the Canadian spelling as this is where we are and should do things and spell things the Canadian way :)

I haven't really said much about my work life but as Lisa had asked in a recent email I will tell a little more about it....
I work for a family run business which is a tractor dealership in town. I work part time as an accounts payable clerk, responsible for making sure that all payments are made to vendors on time, statements are kept up to date and invoices posted to the computer system amongst other duties. I have my own office and work by myself and to my own time schedule! We take 2 tea breaks, each 15 mins to 30 mins everyday and an hour lunch, but you don't have to only eat or drink then! The coffee pot is always on and free to help yourself anytime, there is a water dispenser for hot and cold water, a toaster and microwave :) They are flexible with family commitments, which means that if the kids have something going on at school then I am free to take time out whenever I need too without question. It is very relaxed, not stressful at all and it is a great pleasure to work there. I never think I don't want to go to work anymore and have time to enjoy my work rather than feeling pressured all the time which only makes for a bad atmosphere and errors.
Best move I could have made..... Wake up UK and give your employee's a break :)

Well that bring me to an end once again, time to go and grab some lunch just one last photo to share of our Pileated woodpecker. It hasn't been easy getting a good shot of him and then only managed to get one through the window. They are the large woodpecker with a wing span of 29" and stand at around 17" tall.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back again

As promised but it will be short and sweet....
I got too busy doing other things today but I managed to put together just a few pictures from Christmas. I couldn't find the photo's Craig took though and he has a few others I would like to of used so maybe I will change the picture at a later date!!

The boys were back to school today and it wasn't easy for them to turf themselves out of bed at 6.30am. I can't say that I liked it much either :)

It snowed for the most of Saturday and yesterday and then started again this afternoon so another covering on the driveway!! I really need to go and buy the plough kit for the ATV tomorrow so we don't have to shovel anymore, as that is no fun at all. Tempreture today actually rose to about -10 which was a nice treat and the sun showed up for a while too :)
Anyway I did say short and sweet.... Hope you like the pictures, back with more soon as lots to post.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year

As I am late and didn't get a chance to post anything at all before Christmas I will start by wishing all my Friends and anyone else who comes across my blog a very happy new year for 2010.

I had all good intentions of blogging but never seemed to find the time. Just when I thought about it something else cropped up! But I am here now and I will try and fill in the missing gaps of past events!! I know what will happen though, as always start of detailed then trail of with scatty blogging with not much info and as most of you who know me, will know that I am not a person of many words!! (On paper anyway!)

Winter seem to arrive a month late this year, we were told that generally by mid November snow is already well established but this year it didn't happen until the 9th December when we had a snow storm. We had had a few flurries before this but never much. Then this particular morning a storm came and the roads were very tricky, the snow ploughs were out in force trying to clear what they could to make the roads safer.... All school buses were cancelled so the kids enjoyed their first snow day. A good six inches had fallen overnight with already 2 inch on the ground. It took us an hour to get into work when it only usually takes a little over 30 minutes! A drive I didn't enjoy but something I would have to get used too! The temperatures fluctuate between 0 and -22 but sometimes feeling more like -28 with the wind chill. I like the snow though, it makes everywhere look so beautiful. Luckily just before the snow storm Craig and I had got an electronic garage door opener, so we can just hit the remote in the car and in we drive! Perfect.... we don't have to get out the car until in the garage now and then straight inside with having to bear the cold outside!

I didn't feel organized at all this year for Christmas and it seemed to come around so quickly... I was late in sending out cards for those that I did send, I didn't even wrap any gifts until Christmas eve which is not me at all. I would have normally finished a week before this so I could concentrate on baking all the Christmas treats.
I did make a Christmas cake this year which I don't usually as it is only me that really eats it but as we were having Stu and Ruth over for Christmas I thought it would be a nice treat, I found the recipe here..... I didn't bake it until a week before but it turned out well and tasted good too, one that I will definitely make again.... I just did a simple decoration too as not much time to do it!

My other favorite from last year is Nigella's Christmas Rocky Road. Trying to find ingredients here though is not easy.... they either just don't stock the items you need or call them something totally different! I am sure this is something else I will get use to. Recipe below, sorry no photo for this one!

250g/9oz dark chocolate, chopped
150g/5oz milk chocolate, chopped
175g/6oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g/7oz amaretti biscuits
150g/5oz shelled Brazil nuts
150g/5oz red glacé cherries
125g/4oz mini marshmallows
1 tbsp icing sugar
edible glitter, to decorate (optional)

1. Place the dark and milk chocolate pieces into a heavy-based pan. Add the butter and golden syrup and cook over a low heat to melt and combine.
2. Place the amaretti biscuits into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin to make crumbs of various sizes.
3. Place the Brazil nuts into another freezer bag and bash in the same way.
4. Take the pan of melted chocolate mixture off the heat and add the crushed biscuits and nuts.
5. Add the glacé cherries and mini marshmallows. Fold the mixture carefully to coat all of the solid ingredients with the syrupy chocolate mixture.
6. Pour the mixture into a 25cm/10in x 30cm/12in greased and lined baking tray and smooth the surface as much as possible (although it will look bumpy).
7. Refrigerate for two hours, or until firm enough to cut. Dust with icing sugar, then sprinkle with edible glitter if you wish.
8. Remove the block of rocky road from the tray and cut into 24 rectangles.

Then on to making the stuffing for the turkey..... This is another of my favourites taken from Gary Rhodes 'New British Classics'

Enough for a 10-12lb Turkey
A knob of butter
2 large onions, finely chopped or grated
Grated zest of 2 lemons (juice may be needed)
1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh sage
675g (11/2lbs) good-quality pork sausage meat
100 - 175g (4-6ozs) roasted chestnuts, chopped
2 apples, grated
100g (4ozs) fresh white breadcrumbs
2 eggs
Turkey liver (optional)
Salt,pepper and ground mace
The stuffing is best made 24 hours in advance and chilled, allowing the flavours time to mingle.
Melt the knob of butter and cook the onions for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the lemon zest and sage, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, add the onion to the sausage meat along with the chestnuts, apples and breadcrumbs. Season with salt, pepper and a good pinch of mace. Stir well and season with salt, pepper and a good pinch of mace. The eggs can m
now be added as the binder, to hold all together. Check for seasoning. Pan fry a small amount of the mixture so that you can taste it safely-you may find you need to add a squeeze of two of lemon juice. The turkey neck can now be filled with the stuffing. I like to leave some out and make into ball and bake on the side for a nice crunchy stuffing!

And that is my few recipes shared.....remember for this years Christmas to give them a try :)

Christmas was a good one this year, not only because it was our first one spent in Canada but we had great company. Stu, Ruth Ad and Ol came to stay..... I don't think we ever got to have a Christmas with them when they were in the UK. It was a really good time to be had by all. The boys all enjoyed playing out on their new toys....

I think Ad and Ol enjoyed them too!! They also spent many hours playing on the Wii and watching DVDS.
We had a few walks out in the wood tracking footprints of deer, coyote, fox etc. in the snow. We haven't seen any on the property yet but there is definite signs of them being around. The one thing that we did find was two porcupines in this tree, I couldn't get them both in on the same photo but here is one of them anyway....

They had torn the bark off the tree and had been there for a good while by the looks of the base of the tree!!

Unfortunately we don't get a great deal of holidays here so it was back to work for most on the Monday..... I had an extra day as being part time and returned back on the Tuesday :)
New years eve was quite with just the four of us, we watched the new movie '9' and played on the Wii fit, ski jumping was the favourite and I believe I am still top of the leader board on this one :)

I am going to call it a day now on this one but I will be back (promise) hopefully later or tomorrow with some snowy scenes and where we went today, and also to fill in any other gaps that my scatty blogging has missed!!