Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crockery cooking, Canning & Company

Holy SMOKES! It has been a while since I updated our blog! Can ya blame me? I've been a single parent every other week since the 1st of August... and there doesn't seem to be any chance of a slow down in life!

Ruby is LOVING preschool! She's still a tid bit apprehensive when I drop her off, but she seems to not think of me the minute Elias and I leave. And she always has a HUGE smile on her face when I pick her up! I wasn't able to get any info out of her the first 4 classes but she has since opened up and is a chatterbox all afternoon long (on school days!) 

Elias is enjoying his time with Mummy one on one. He helps me clean, or we bike ride into town for a coffee and a play at the park. Last week we were fortunate enough to stumble on a cement truck pouring a new basketball court. He was mesmerized!

Nick is here there and everywhere. It is trying in every conceivable aspect. He went hunting last week and came home skunked without ANYTHING, and the fiasco of picking him up from his brother's at 1 am didn't bode well. There were many a word said on the truck ride home, and I was completely grateful for my mother visiting so I didn't have to disturb the children.

So now we're broke, gonna starve and have a massive credit card bill. But hey, we're still all together, healthy and living in the Valley! God himself was merciful, I left at 11:45 pm to head south, fuming, and near tears and then I turned on the radio and heard; Lee Brice's 'Hard to Love' followed up by Jason Aldean's 'Why?'  So I smiled and kissed my hubby when he finally pulled in, weary, bleary and broken hearted.

Yes, I know we listen to country music!

So home for the weekend with a gigantic'To Do' List. There is SO much to get done before the rains come and I can't possibly get it done without him home. We tackled quite a bit, and made a great team doing it!

Alex the dreamy tree guy was back to grind out the massive tree stumps. Poor fellow spent all day in the blazing sun with this enormous lawn mower looking machine, that has gnarley looking 'teeth' and must weigh 250 lbs, grinding down the tree stumps, flicking dirt up in his face for 8 hours. Must be how he keeps so svelt! He had to come back to complete the job... I know 'poor' me!

But the yard is AMAZING! It's truly hard to fathom how just a few short months ago there were 3, 40+ ft maple trees standing, and now there are just leveled patches of dirt waiting for the grass to grow next spring. Nick and I were so pleased we'd asked Alex to come back to grind out the stumps. The machine is rentable but watching it done really made us appreciate being able to pay someone to do it! Well worth the money! (And the view ;P )

While Alex was grinding out the stumps Nick was making and canning, 'Carrot Pepper Salsa.' Our jungle of tomato plants yielded 20+ lbs of tomatoes that needed to be dealt with. The plants will probably yield another 15 if not 20 lbs ~  near 40 lbs of tomatoes total , not bad for not knowing what we were doing!

Nick was able to get 16 ~ 250ml jars of the salsa but had a bunch of tomatoes still left over. So he made tomato sauce, and had the BRILLIANT idea of breaking out his virgin 'food mill' to process the fruits. He cut them up, boiled them and then put them in the food mill, pressing out the flesh. All that was left in the end was maybe a cup full of seeds and skins. It was impressive! In the end he has 8 ~ 500 ml jars of tomato sauce canned.

While Nick was gone I had the chore of feeding children a minimum of 3 meals per day and tidying up the messes. SUCH a chore! But I have rediscovered my crock pot and a friend turned me on to 'Get Crocked' blog. Made life so much easier!!!! I made German Goulash and the next night Sweet'n'Sour Chicken. I LOVE my crock pot! I was able to make dinner, while I cleaned up lunch and it made those lonely nights go by a little easier with minimal clean up. I fully intend to use the crock more often as Ruby starts swimming in a few short weeks at 5:30 pm smack dab in the middle of dinner hour. Oy vey! Mrs. Crock Pot to the rescue! The blog even boasts crock pot cinnamon buns and other baked goods! I'll try it out!

Mum came up to keep me company and break up my single parent week. She brought with her GF muffins and cookies, which the kids devoured, and Ruby still asks for every morning! I had to promise her tonight that I'd bake muffins with her tomorrow or she wouldn't go to bed! Had to laugh, she'd walked in the door, kiss me and made a mad dash for the loo. (3 hours in the car will do that to a person) But apparently before she knew it she was sitting down and the dog was licking her knees, while Eli was trying to climb up onto her knees and Ruby was telling her ALL about the new shower curtain we'd bought and then proceeded to advise her on proper body washing protocols...."Want to try it out Grammie? I could help you wash your hair! We, we have to have bath before bed you know...."  I was splitting a gut!!!

Nick came home and the work began. He picked out all the large rocks by hand, filled in the tree stump holes with wood chips, covered them with dirt, and made a giant 'dune' out of the left over wood chips (Ruby had fun playing in it and was filthy dirty when she came in!)

His Mum Brenda and her hubby Rob came up Saturday afternoon, bringing with them a GF lasagna which was YUMMY and both kids had 2 helpings! I made a sweet potato pie for dessert. Nick raised and eye brow but I'd always wanted to try making one... and it turned out fabulously! It has a similar flavour and texture to pumpkin pie but is much lighter and less greasy? Sometimes pumpkin pie can be very heavy and greasy, I think it is just the nature of the sugar pumpkin squash. But the sweet potato pie was marvelous! I highly recommend trying it as an alternative to this coming Thanksgiving weekend's traditional pumpkin pie.

We're off to Country Maples in Chemainus to meet up with my sister's family and my folks for Thanksgiving feast. We're having a 'Bean Off' on the Saturday night, my Ma is making her famous beans, and Nick is making his 'Venison and Beans.' Winner gets bragging rites for a week! We'll be bringing our RV obviously and an older stove/oven from a dismantled camper, plus my sister's RV oven ~ we're hoping to make a Thanksgiving feast for 12! I'll be making brussle sprouts with bacon, and GF sweet potato pie and a GF pumpkin, caramel pecan pie. Yes, I will take pics and blog about it!

I'm hoping the festivities don't hinder my progress. After 3 years of pregnancy and child rearing I'm finally able to put on my skinny jeans!!! ...I can't do them up, but I can get them ON! Bike riding, towing 50 lbs of kids 4 times per week has made my hips and rear end shrink!!! YAY me! So I'm going to keep it up (as if I have a choice!)

I'll see about posting pictures! TTYL!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Up to date Pics!

Princess Peach on her 6th Birthday!

Cousin Evie, Auntie Sarah, Uncle Ken and Eli!

Ruby's stunning bowling outfit!

Being Daddy's cheerleader!

Grammie and her oldest grandbaby Julia!

Eli bowling with Mummy!

Some old guy pattin' Eli's head as he chased the bowling ball around the alley!

Under chairs...

Squeezin' through...
Playing with cousin Evie!
All our pretty toes that Grammie painted that weekend!

The fabulously inspirational garden at Pacific Shores!

Espaliered apple trees!

Kiwi's on an arbor!

A NEW and excellent GF product! Gluten free 'couscous!)

Symbols we're seeing more and more of!

The blush wine for the peach 'rose.'
40 lbs peaches!

Ruby's first day Preschool! She was upset the next day of class because her 'school' shirt wasn't clean!... Um, only bought it for the first day not for each class!

In came Elias quite upset, we both turned round to see that he'd been made into a human sticker book! He wasn't impressed!

More labelling I like!
Elias' First Birthday!

I made him chocolate cake and iced it with chocolate in my first attempt at 'basket weave' technique.

Ruby iced her own cupcake!
Elias didn't even take one bite; instead he wore it!

And then mushed it into my hand.

The cake I spent hours making, and he still never ate a bite.

Sweet little curls and blue eyes! Done he make yer heart melt?

My brother's 'vicious' Pit Bulls came for the visit.

I'm totally terrified!.... Aren't you?
The GF Pumpkin Pie I made for my own birthday!

Elias at the Toopy and Binoo Concert....

Ruby at the Toopy and Binoo concert.....

Despite the what the pictures are reflecting... both had a marvelous time at Toopy and Binoo!

Heard her pouring her own drink and went to investigate... she said she was using, 'Daddy's juice cup.'

Elias passed out with Daddy in the chair... he had the snufflies poor fellow.

Helping himself to a carrot the next morning...
Been a good summer! I just got back from using the trailer on a solo camping trip 10 minutes up the road. Nick survived 36 hours as a single dad and the house was still standing upon my return! ... Now gearing up for his absence as he goes on a hunting trip shortly! Better come back with some meat or I'll be skinning him.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our BIG. FAT. FULL. Life!

Sorry for the short hiatus! Life is all hustle and bustle!

The month of August was tough! Nick was up island working for 3 out of the 5 weeks and the 2 weeks he was home he was working MAD overtime. It was tiring and lonely. Even the kids were showing signs of having enough.

My niece's 6th birthday was the last day of August. But with Nick gone the kids and I couldn't leave the dog home, so we did a day trip on the Wednesday down to Coombs and Parksville where my sister was staying at her time share. Nick came home the Thursday night, so I had my folks drive the hour north to come and get the kids and I for a couple of over night's at my sisters vacation spot.

We had fun, but Ruby was ATROCIOUS. And I mean SERIOUSLY so! SO misbehaved that she was putting everyone on edge. She woke up at 6 am two days in a row and started shrieking when anyone even looked at her. I'd had enough so I texted Nick to come and pick her up which he did Friday afternoon. We had words but at the end of the day the OT was wearing on everyone.

Ruby returned on Saturday with a better attitude and had fun with her cousins. That Sunday we did a bunch of yard work before the beginning of fall. The tomatoes are still ripening but there are buckets full. I've ripped out all that had gone to seed, the only things left are some carrots, onions and the tomatoes.

We've been discussing what type of cover crop we might want to put in the raised bed to ensure that nutrients doesn't leach out over the wet winter. We will also plant some garlic and onions shortly.

The italian plums on the tree are finally turning to a deep purple! And one of the raspberry plants has actually produced fruit! Super excited about this!

There was a wonderful garden at my sisters vacation spot which I took pictures of. I was SO inspired by the espaliered apple trees, the pergola kiwi vines and the latticed grape vines that it gave me a whole new perspective on our own garden! Looking at the house I can see a spot for 2 female kiwi vines, a spot for a nice long pergola with grapes and room for at least 5 espaliered fruit trees up against the house!

Nick and I canned 40 lbs of peaches and I was able to pry open one of the centres to get at the two seeds within, I've put them in a pot and we shall see what happens. I'm going to do the same with the prune plums, Nick has read that the prune plums will produce more with two trees in close proximity to one another. I'm hoping he is right!

Ruby has started preschool two mornings per week and gymnastics class one morning per week. The first day of preschool felt odd, I dropped her off, stayed only 20 minutes and then took Elias to the park across the street. It was eerie just he and I! I guess I'll have to get used to it! Gymnastics class was FUN! Elias is upstairs in the rec centre's child minding while I take Ruby to the parent involved class. ... We were back in the 'foam pit of death,' but we were all smiles at the end!

Elias turned 1! Both Nick and I are agast that the year is already come and gone! Didn't we just blink and he's walking? He can even say a few words now; Mummy, Daddy, dog, kitty, hi.....I'm teaching him the names of his body parts, he likes mouth and fingers.

He does NOT like cake! I made cupcakes on his actual birthday and iced them with chocolate icing ~ he just made a great big mess. Then on Saturday I spent hours, HOURS making his first birthday cake, with homemade fondant, kneading it by hand over and over. Only to have him totally NOT eat any of it! Oh well.

Grammie and Papa (my parents) came up for two nights to celebrate with us. Grammie brought Ruby a new 'Dora the Explorer' book and Ruby insisted Grammie read it to her in her new bed. .... Oh ya last week of August Nick picked up a queen sized bed from his bro that he no longer needed. So we've taken Ruby's old captain's bed out and put in the queen. She quite likes it!

Elias got some clothes from each of his Aunties, a tool chest from Grammie and Papa and a foam chair from Mum and Dad. Nana and Papa Rob brought up a stuffed Curious George and a giant Curious George book. I had to take the stuffy out of the crib because everytime he looks at it he laughs out loud!

Nick's mum Brenda and step dad Rob also brought up Nick's maternal Grandma Driedger's dining room suite. It is exquisite! Brenda generously purchased it out of her parents estate as a gift to us, they even have stored it for us for nearly 3 years while we waited to be moved here to the Valley and then tried to make the logistics of bringing it up work. But it is finally here in all it's beauty! Brenda even brought the original sales receipt! Bought in 1986 for $3000+ Grandma Annette had saved up using money she made babysitting the neighbourhood kids! It was the first and possibly only significant purchase she ever made with her own ends; a wonderful peace of familly history in our own dining room!

Nick and I had fun the other night cleaning up some of Grandma's crystal glasses and some of our own crystal we had received as wedding presents 6 years ago. Some of the pieces were still in their original boxes as we never had any place fitting for them! I added two champagne flutes given to use as a gift on our wedding night by Nick's dad and step mum. They are a very near match to the glasses of his maternal grandmother's! I also added the dark green (almost teal) pottery coffee pot and two cups/saucers from a set my mother gave me which she picked up 30+ years ago in England. Made by monks in a monestary I quite like them and have always wanted to put them up; the box they were in has moved with us 3 times from Victoria to Port McNeill and now to the Valley but hasn't even been opened in 7+ years!

We included a beautiful silver mirrored serving tray from Nick's paternal grandmother and the cake toppers from my paternal grandparents wedding in 1947 along with our own cake topper. The hutch lights up and when the house is dark with just the fire place on and the hutch lit up I feel like I am Queen of my very own fancy castle!

My own birthday was yesterday. I got the kids up, fed, dressed and in the bike trailer for 8:20am to take Ruby to preschool. Once back home Elias had trouble finding what to do with himself. I put dinner in the slow cooker and made a pumpkin pie ~ I loath cake but could eat a whole pie to myself! Both turned out great! Took the dog and Elias back up to the preschool on my bike. I was a bit nervous about taking the dog but she was fantastic and enjoyed the exercise! Riding 3+ times per week, nearly twice a day I'd better be freakin' SKINNY by Christmas! In truth I can already tell that my body shape has changed because my pants feel quite loose. I am excited by this!

Last night we took the kids to the theatre to watch the stage production of 'Toopy and Binoo' a Canadian kids show. Both the kids were simply mesmerized! It truly was the BEST birthday present I could have ever received! Their faces were beaming, smiling in awe of the show. I couldn't help but look over at Nick, I caught his eye and saw the twinkle in my own eye reflected in his.

I am blessed. I am living my dream. xoxox

Life is BIG. FAT. and FULL!

I'll post pictures later tonight!