Navigation Pages

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I imagine that all the wrapping paper has been put in to recycling and the left over turkey is parcelled up and waiting to become hot turkey sandwiches or turkey hash.  The unwrapped presents lay gleaming under the tree, beckoning another look or touch and that you are asleep with contented hearts and full tummies.

I can't help but think how truly blessed we are, no matter our worries about making ends meet or making sure our children have what they need.  We live in a place where you can get medical care  and not be sent a bill, a place where if you truly are in need you can get food and clothes and, at least for the most part, ensure that you have a roof over your head.  I know that there are people out there in Canada who don't feel that way, who wonder where the next meal is coming from or if they will have somewhere safe to sleep tonight, but they are the minority.  (Yes, I know this is still unacceptable, but at least we aren't facing hordes of displaced people with no more than the clothes on their back and fear in their hearts.)
Back to the point - we are blessed.  We are blessed in our loved ones, our comforts and sometimes even in our hardships.  And for that I'm grateful.  So with this glowing sense of peace and prosperity I wish you (& Ron certainly does, too):
A very merry Christmas & a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year

Monday, December 17, 2012

When Jack Frost Comes A Callin'

Once again, much time has passed since I last took the time to transfer our mundane lives on to this little blog.  We've been blessed with a temperate fall, at least until yesterday, and it feels more like Vancouver than the chilly East Coast.  The downside of such pleasing weather conditions is that I'm feeling decidedly un-Christmas-sy...I know, not the usual status for this time of year, but Ron says I've been unusually grumpy for a while now.  (Yes, feel bad for the poor man, as he's likely right.)

Why so grouchy?  You may ask.  Dunno.  I should be feeling pretty good, my book is published and I've sold almost 50 copies (I don't have stats on the mainstream bookstores yet, or e-books).  Okay, 50 is a far cry from best seller status, but come one, it's not bad, right?  I'm healthy, working out (isn't that supposed to increase endorphins?) and have a loving, supportive husband.  I mean really, what more could any girl want?  And yet, I'm still surly.  Perhaps hormones are to blame.

On a happier note, we've started decorating for Christmas, which I normally enjoy.  The holidays are coming up which means some extended time with Ron, which I always appreciate and enjoy.  We've even managed to go to Halifax several times this year, as well as having a bang-up vacation in Newfoundland.  We haven't noticed any little fury critters invading the house (thanks to Ron) so in summary: life is good.

Jack Frost has been hanging around off and on and we've had a couple of snow falls, but the weather is predicting a green Christmas.  All our little bird friends are enjoying our offerings.  (It's amazing how much enjoyment you can get out of the little guys, they're quite amusing to watch.)

Last. but definitely not least is Ron's second attempt at pie making.  The pastry was awesome!  (So was the filling!)  Pretty dazzling, isn't it?
We will, I swear, put up a Christmas post, so no holiday greetings yet.  Be well, as always, and know that people, out there in the world, are thinking about you and hoping only good things for you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trees Three Ways

First things first...for those of you who don't know, my book is now for sale through the Friesen Books website: It will be a few weeks before you can find my book online at Chapters or Amazon etc.  Truth be told, I make a larger royalty if you buy through Friesen, but if you can get a discount on the mainstream providers, you get a better deal shipping and the cost is about the same (with discount).  Thank you to everyone who has already purchased a book or forwarded the link.  The more people I can get the link out to, the more likely I'll be to maybe sell enough to break even.  (Fingers crossed!)  Enough about me and my book, I'm sure many of you have tired of it already.

We've completed another cake.  This was a whole new process, as we had to build an armature and other things we haven't done before.  It's a willow tree, in case you're wondering:

Armature before fondant etc.

 So, obviously that's a tree one way!  As to the two other ways...we have sunset pictures (yes, again!), one with a tree in highlight and the other with a tree back lit.

We really do live in a beautiful place (at least when the sun is out), despite the wind blowing cold and wintry.  BRRRRR.  We're making osso buco tonight...lovely that we have a long weekend to enjoy a nice meal!  Here's the beginnings of it:

Yum, yum, yum!  Hopefully it turns out well.  There doesn't seem to be much else going on here.  I've been busy with our AGM plans (for the credit union), cake making and book marketing.  (The last isn't my strong suit...I have yet to find a USP or "unique selling point" in common terms.  It's just a nice little book with a good story, a bit of intrigue and romance.  I added a splash of deep thought, for those who care to see it...what else can I say?)  Ron's time has been filled with seemingly endless renovations, house husband duties (he's expanded his range to include cooking dinner more frequently), his job and yard maintenance...all those trees make for a lot of raking.  It seems that I've come full circle...started with trees and ended with trees, so with that: good night.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ornithology and Postal Bags

Well, here we are in November of all things!  It doesn't really feel like November, as it's 12 degrees out and we hit 19 on Thursday.  That being said, the leaves have fallen (for the most part), we've had a bit of frost and our heating system kicks in every once in a while.  The days are definitely shorter, which makes me grumpy (Ron would add an "er" to that, I'm sure), as I don't believe that people should have to get out of bed until there is actual day light.

We've spotted yet another type of little bird in our avian paradise.  They're called Dark Eyed Juncos.  (Our particular variety is a slate coloured Junco).  Here's what the little guy looks like:

We have quite a bit of fun trying to figure out what bird is what.  There's actually a web site that let's you input various characteristics and suggests what bird it might be.  It's not as easy as it sounds, but we usually persevere and find out what our little feathered friends actually are.

On the cake front, we have completed yet another one.  This one was for a retirement party and they wanted the theme to be "Big Shoes to Fill".  Here's what we came up with:

Canada Post Mail Bag (Can you guess where the person retired from?)

Add a high heeled shoe filled with the person's interests.

The blob on the top is a book about cycling and RVing.
That's a bike tire underneath with the handle of a curling broom and spools of thread.

The thing on the right is a camp fire...there's a better picture somewhere!
Anyhow, it was kind of fun to make, but as always the time pressure kills the joy a little bit.  I have to say, I'm not the only baker in the house.  Ron turned his hand to pie making this week.  (He was inspired by the windfall of apples that covered our yard during Hurricane Sandy - thankfully she was fairly kind to us, no major disasters, unlike other places.)  He even made his own crust!

It was very delicious.  The crust was very good, but not as flaky as Ron wanted it to be.  Maybe too much fat-I'm not a pastry expert?  He's going to try again sometime in the near future.  It's a good thing we're working out!

Our epic renovations are slowly coming to and end.  We have the flooring for our upstairs hallway and only some cosmetic work left to do in the back entry and kitchen.  (What will Ron do with himself when we're done?)  He's just reminded me that he'll have more work to do if we turn the TV room in to the master bedroom.  So perhaps I was a bit hasty in claiming the renos almost done.

News on my book: it should be in the home stretch, I've signed off on the final proofs and it's going through some sort of quality control process and then being sent out to the printers.  Here's how it works: if you order my book, it's printed on demand, so you won't get it in a few days, it will likely take a week and a half (or more) with shipping taken in to consideration.  If you order the book through I get a larger cut of the purchase price, but shipping on that site is expensive (my account manager suggested trying to get some of the shipping costs back from Friesen after the fact).  If you order from the mainstream bookstores, I get a smaller cut, but you can get free delivery to one of their stores nearest you.  (It's best to order online, as you'll get a fairly good discount, that you may not get in the store itself.  Here's the pricing (I was limited in what I could price the books at and still get any royalties - so it's not exactly what I was hoping.)
     Through Friesen Press, you can order the hard copy for $25.99 or the soft cover for $14.99 (e-copy (through an affiliate) for $2.99)
     Mainstream bookstores: hard copy $34.99, soft copy $21.99 (remember the online discount and free shipping to a store nearest you!)  The discount doesn't affect my royalties, but I do get much less through the mainstream book stores - it's kind of rigged, but that's the business I guess.  (e-copy also $2.99 if available - I'm a little unclear on that.)  Well, that's it.  If you check the Friesen Press site, they have a section for "Coming Soon!" books, mine isn't there yet but I keep waiting for it to show up.  (I'll try and find out this week when to expect the "release".)

I think that's about it for now.  Be well, we hope the autumn is treating you well.  Lots of love from the little red island.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More Tales from the Country

Yet again, time has flown and it's been a bit since my last post.  What's happened in the mean time?  Well, I completed another cake:

We encountered some other bird species in our back yard:

We think it's a female pheasant, but might be a grouse...we only saw her for a couple of days and then off she went.  (No...we didn't eat her.)  We had a lovely trip to Halifax, where we enjoyed a good hotel (The Prince George) and several good restaurants.  We also finally found a table for our bar chairs.  (I'm sitting at it right now, typing this entry.)  To top it off I enjoyed a trip to the spa, the first one in over a year.  The reality of autumn hit us on the drive home, but it's hard not to enjoy the amazing colours, even though they herald the coming of winter:

We thought we were getting to the end of our time with the little finches, but we seem to have more than we know what to do with.  The following photos were taken in different areas at the same time (meaning these are all different little finches) and we don't have a photo of the actual feeder that had eight or so of the little fellas.

But, I've left the very best "Story from the Country" for last.  As you know, Ron has a tenuous (at best) relationship with the local squirrel, Rasputin.  In hopes of catching him (the squirrel), Ron left the trap baited and open in the out building, where we know Rasputin is living.  Something came and ate all the food, but wasn't trapped, so we thought that was that (reconciling ourselves to not catching the squirrel) and never closed the trap door.  Low and behold, on Friday, Ron noticed that the trap door was closed.  Now you must imagine our out hasn't much light (especially if you don't turn on the lights) and the corners are rather dark.  (Of course, that's where the trap was...sitting in one corner shaded nicely from the window.)  Well, Ron went to investigate and lifted up the felt heavy.  He wisely decided to gently place it back down and get a flash light.  On further investigation, it turned out that he'd caught a skunk!  (On the good news front, the skunk was too big to be able to lift it's tail - which means no spray - phew!)  Doing a bit of quick Internet research, we discovered that skunks are fairly docile and hesitant to spray unless threatened.  Following some online suggestions, Ron covered the trap with some old carpet and wodged open the door, retreating calmly, but quickly back to the house.  Giving the skunk some time, Ron returned to discover that our little striped friend had high tailed it out of there and we haven't seen him since.  Moral of the story?  When setting traps, you must be prepared to deal with what they catch.  Ron said the little skunk was quite calm and seemed to know that Ron was there to help it.  (I was at work and could do little else than laugh at the predicament!)
On a final note, we found this bag of potatoes, that we just couldn't resist buying...good ole' Stompin' Tom would be proud!  (If you don't recognize the reference, google or Bing it...well worth a laugh!)
Only in PEI!  It's a very special place!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Summer's Final Bow

It has been pointed out to me on a couple of occasions, that I haven't put up a post for a while.  I really don't know what happens with the time, but I thought I'd bore you all once again with tales from the Gentle Island.  (Sorry, PE Island friends...but I kind of like the nickname.)

We had visitors, in the form of my father and his wife.  (Mike and Margaret.)  They stayed for a three days as part of their East Coast journey.  Thankfully the weather was fairly accommodating and we were able to enjoy some of the sights, sounds and tastes of the Island.

As you can see it was a beautiful day along one of the beaches in Cavendish and there were very few people around and about.  After Labour Day, the tourists pretty well disappear.  The day before Dad & Marg left, the weather turned and the rains came.  Autumn came in like a soggy blanket, but the temperatures only dipped for a day, so we've been having this kind of humid, wet unpleasantness.  Not that we can complain, as I've mentioned before, the summer has been perfectly stunning. 

Today, summer showed it's face again which was a lovely surprise. (Not so good for running, but fantastic for sitting out on the back deck; which I did with a certain wild abandon (didn't even put on sun screen!) that comes with knowing these types of days are fleeting and rare now. Here are some of the fauna that live with us out in the country.

Webber the Chipmunk stealing the bird's seed. (Note puffy cheeks!)

Even puffier cheeks.

Rasputin - public enemy number one.

Ron says "Wanted Dead or Alive"

Resident Blue Jay - unnamed, as there are several of them and I can't tell them apart.
There is also a suspicious something-or-other ripping up our lawn.  We're not sure whether it's a raccoon or skunk, but it does seem to be having a field day digging up grubs and what have you.  Two years ago today, we were checking out Chicago & as I recall it was also a lovely day where we sat out and had lunch on the patio of Topogigo's, a very good Italian restaurant.  Life is good and we are grateful.  I hope this installment finds the same with you and yours.  I must hie off, as I have chores and obligations to take care of - so much easier, now that I've taken a moment to enjoy our little piece of paradise.  Our thoughts to all of you!

PS: you might wonder why Webber is tolerated while Rasputin is not.  Truth be told, Webber won't climb up into our house - he's a burrower and the same can not be said for Rasputin.  He hasn't gotten in to the house, and seems content to live in the outbuilding, but you can't trust him,  I mean really - would you trust that face?  He also refused to go anywhere near the live trap no matter the bait - too smart for our taste!  Who knows what he's plotting?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Near the Close of Year Two

It is very hard to believe, but two years ago, at this very time, Ron and I were getting ready to start our cross country adventure.  We were packing and making last minute arrangements and generally celebrating and panicking all at the same time.  Our adventure was in front of us, as was the unknown and everything seemed possible.

Two years on, we've settled well into this little piece of the world.  We're still renovating...I never saw that coming, that's for sure.  The list of improvements on the house continues to grow, as does the list of things still needing to be done.  (Now tell me, how is that possible???)  We installed geothermal heating & upgraded the duct work, some of which was done before we arrived, we reinforced the foundation and plastic lined the crawl space and filled it with some good gravel for drainage.  We had someone put in a proper outside access to the crawl space/basement and then once we arrived, we attacked the living areas.  We painted the upstairs bathroom hoping to make it more appealing and then took on the living room walls.  (Side note...that's our most viewed post "Battle Wallpaper" seems everyone has similar problems and is surfing the internet for solutions.)  We painted the dining room and Ron then renovated the upstairs bathroom (we couldn't live with it...I could barely use the shower it was so icky!)  Last summer we levelled the porches and painted the front porch, having improved the banisters and PVC lattice for us! along with most of the trim.  (We still haven't completed it, as we need to rent a 40 foot ladder to reach the peak of the house.)  We seeded the lawn where the geothermal went in and did a bit of landscaping and planting. 

We decided to rest a bit, (if you don't include the fact that we had 4 windows replaced - the best money we've spent...such a difference!)but not long after, Ron decided it was time to redo the downstairs washroom, which is now completed (except for the roman blinds, which I have yet to sew.)  As requested, here is a picture of the shower area downstairs, plus our newly covered chaise.

Not beige, I's a silvery grey!

Now, there is some stuff from the living room in the bathroom, as we've started on the living room floors...why not, we thought?  How hard could it be?

Yes, those are the original barn board floors, but they're to patched to you can see in to the basement through the cracks.  The upper picture shows some of the quarter inch plywood that they used before carpeting the floor...they used 3 pounds or so of nails to tack down the evil.  I was on nail pulling duty, but Ron had to wodge up all the plywood with pry bars etc.  The floor actually looks much better in the picture than it does in real life.  We're hoping to have the three quarter ply laid down by the end of the weekend so Ron can lay down the felt and start installing the hardwood that matches the dining room.  (Can you say continuous flooring? Well, in two room and a hallway, at least.)  Then perhaps we can rest, once we finishing painting the back porch posts and replacing some of the fascia that has seen better days.  (Our motto for the house..."Better than what was there before!")  I'll throw in a picture of one of our local blue jays, just to finish up.  My back is sore and my knees feel like goo and I'm ready for a gin and tonic (I think Ron feels exactly the same).  We're thinking of you!  Lots of love from the "Gentle Island"...a particularly hated moniker around these parts!

Next trees (yes, autumn is approaching)...try not to get too excited!  For now, the barbeque beckons and the heady smell of mesquite grilled pork chops is on my mind.