Sunday, October 14, 2012

Today Was a Gift

I went out to the garden today. It is one of my favorite ways to spend my time.
Some of the trees in my backyard paradise
The temperature went up to 75 degrees. It was perfect! I kept thinking to myself "This day of warm weather is a gift to me, perfect for what I need to do."
Planters cleaned out for the Winter
The first of the Fall leaves gathered
 I know in my heart that every day is a gift. But today it felt particularly so.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Happiness Formula

I did four things today to make myself feel good. I have decided that they are part of my happiness formula.

I talked to John. I needed time to chat with my best friend and my love, John. I didn't need him to solve any problems or even advise me (although that was acceptable, I decided.) I just needed John to listen and to spend time with me engaged in conversation.

It was good. Just what I needed. 

I went out to the garden. For the past several weeks, the garden has lost its charm. The sprinkler system along with the rain drowned the impatiens. Many of the beds are looking sad. But today the crisper air and quiet in the neighbourhood beckoned me to my backyard paradise. I cleared away some dead annuals and small accumulation of autumn leaves. 

Oh, it does my heart good to be out there. Always. It works for me.

I practiced my yoga. It has been far too long since I practiced regularly. I started this afternoon by heating my room. Then I found some lovely choral music that would play longer than forty-five minutes without a CD change. I did one set of the Bikram magical twenty-six. 

It is magic. Something happens when I do Bikram yoga. A shift. To the good side.

I watched a great movie. As new subscribers to Netflix, we have enjoyed watching many films this summer. Most were good and some were great. Tonight was a great one. Hugo is a delightful tale about dreams and courage. As added bonuses, the movie has a happy ending and a wonderful final piece of music.

It was an easy film to watch. Great acting and a good story. It set my heart right. 

I am off to bed settled and happy. All feels right with the world. It is so great when you find the right formula!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Settling In

It has been just over three weeks now since "the little one" arrived at our house. Fancy Pants a.k.a. Tuxedo has made himself quite at home and to say that we put out the welcoming blanket....well, that would be an understatement.

Oh, the joys of having a puppy in the house again! It has been such fun to get puppy licks, even though Tux's licking is so enthusiastic that it is hard to breathe! And the shenanigans that go on between Tux and his half-sister, Emma is non-stop.

Tux wants to do everything that Emma does and today was a big day. He made the leap up to the raised bed in the backyard where the squirrels and chipmunks hang out and collect their peanuts. No more safe territory for Emma, away from Tux's constant harassment. 
Emma & Tux on watch for the critters
I celebrated Tux's gymnastic achievement and his third weekend with us by creating some special labels for their crates: the pink label for the Princess Emma-lotta-Trouble and the slick black & white themed one for Mr. Fancy Pants, Tuxedo. 
Decorated Dog Dens
What a pair! It is amazing how quickly these dogs steal your heart. In less than a month, we are absolutely smitten with not one, but two lovable Lhasas.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pickle Day

Today was the perfect day for pickle-making. It was one of the first days of cool weather. It was cloudy and the wind was blowing. The sound of the leaves dancing on the trees and the sunlight leaving shadows on the ground was very Fall-ish.

I have fond memories of these kinds of canning days...the windows steamed from the boiling water in the canner and the smell of dill, cucumbers and vinegar in the air. I usually turn on some music and sing while I am in the kitchen. And then after the long day of standing and hauling yet more supplies up from the basement, I collapse into bed, dead tired but so satisfied with the line-up of jars on the kitchen counter. As I fall asleep, I can hear the final few lids popping and I hope for 100% success in the jars being sealed. I dream about biting into that first crunchy dill.
Gallagher's Market on Highway 20 in Pelham
The canning process began this morning with the purchase of baskets of cucumbers, fresh garlic, onions, dill, vinegar and coarse salt. This year, I went to Gallagher's in Pelham and was delighted to find a good supply of small cucumbers at a decent price: $25 per half bushel. I willingly paid for the small cuces. They are so much easier to pack into jars and the small ones ensure that each jar is packed to capacity. While at Gallagher's, I met a fellow canner, Norma, and we began to talk prices and sizes and recipes. We traded email addresses and kept each other posted during the day. Norma cooks her jars in the oven, a technique that I had never heard. Oh my, it is great to meet kindred kitchen spirits. We could have talked for hours while at the store but I was anxious to get home to get started.
I bought two of the baskets on the floor along the right side
Thanks to my late mother-in-law, Madeleine, I make the best pickles across the land, if I do say so myself! The secret recipe was handed down many years ago and I have never strayed from the formula. The only time that I have had any difficulties is when I somehow messed up the salt/vinegar/water proportions in the brine or kept the jars in the water bath too long. This year, I was very careful.

I wanted these to be perfect. We are almost out of our supply, so this was a much needed day of putting-away. Last year, I missed the 'window' of cucumber supply, so I promised myself that this would be the year and that I would not leave it too late. The 2010 jars are getting a little tired and we have been rationing them so that they would last until now.
2010 Pickle-making: I had help from our new Lhasa pup, Emma
I was very organized this year, getting the kitchen clean, the jars and lids ready, the water boiling, the recipe reviewed, and the onion and garlic cut up all before the canning process began. Auntie helped and we had a great time chatting and washing cucumbers together. What a great help she was. At 86, she is doing so well and loves the local produce. So this putting-away was right up her alley. With her help, I finished canning the bushel. The result was 39 jars, packed full as you can see!
2012 Pickle-making: Thirty-nine jars of Heather's Famous Dill Pickles
"To every thing there is a season." And this is canning season, no doubt. It felt so good to enjoy this autumnal ritual and to stock my pantry once again with the produce of Niagara. Thank you Auntie, Madeleine, Norma, Gallagher's and Niagara!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Full Snowy Days

Some thoughts on this wonderful day:
Emma decked out in her Cone of Shame
Emma is wearing the Cone of Shame after the surgery to fix her cherry eye. It is not slowing her down one bit.
Three of the sisters: (from left to right) Emma, Pepsi, and Meme
I attended my first Handling Class with Emma in Milton with Sandra (breeder of Emma) and Emma's two sisters, Pepsi and Meme. Emma was a natural in the ring and an instant star. I was so inspired to see her prance about, as if she owned the ring. 

We were sure that Pepsi (the middle one in the photo) was going to be great in the ring. But as Sandra was coaxing Pepsi around the ring, tail down, obviously uncomfortable, Meme was observing from her crate and barking non-stop as if to let us know that she wanted to be given the chance. And sure enough, shy little Meme outperformed Pepsi. The instant she set foot in the ring, her head and tail went up and she strut her stuff. It was amazing to see! Despite the snow storm and accompanying slippery roads on the way home from Milton, seeing these wonderful dogs learn the Show routine was worth it.
My first homemade card...well, first in a long time
I designed my first card, inspired by a woman named Dawn on the web. This first is for my Dad. I was up until 3. So much scrapbooking inspiration….so little time!
2010 Christmas Tree
It is the end of Christmas and our beautiful tree is put to bed until next year.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quilters With Big Hearts

The Quilters from Albright Manor in Beamsville hosted a luncheon today at the Friendship Centre. This group of women create beautiful quilts to give to those in need in our community. Many have been given to cancer patients and last week, five were given to the new patients at McNally House. Each quilt is created with love and before it is given, the women gather to say a prayer for the recipient. One member of the group spoke about the fact that she knew nothing about quilting when she joined the group. Now she is one of their most prolific quilters.

It was an honour to be among these women with big hearts. I hope that they raised a lot of money from today's lunch and that they can continue to cover our community with the special kind of warmth from their beautiful quilts.

In the photo, from left to right sitting are: Kathy Kirby-Smith, Bev Rennie, Margaret Oliver and standing are: Clare Minarcik, Heather Carter and Carol Holmes.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Great Day Planning in NWG

I have had the great privilege of working with some fabulous women. These are some of the best. They are interested and interesting. Today, they, along with one male supporter, took the time - on a Saturday morning in Spring - to talk about campaign strategy. Our facilitator, Lynne Steele, did a great job of balancing our talk about policy and ideas with our plans for winning the next election. How lucky I am to work with such interesting, committed and talented people!