December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!

Merry Christmas to all my friends, family and blog readers.
My sister Heidi calls it the 'Silly Season' which I think is very apt. Amber had a few of her friends stay with us over the weekend and they enjoyed playing in the snow.Christmas eve saw a steady stream of customers rushing into the store to buy those last minute gifts. Plenty of them men I might add - funny that :) Many with their young children giving them advice on gifts for Mummy.
There had been no friendly visit from the jolly man in the red suit when we awoke this morning. We had overslept by an hour to find that we had no electricity! Quickly racing down the stairs at 7am, torch in hand Craig and I surveyed the damage. We live in a very old house with its own well and sump pump which, when the power goes off ceases to work and it's amazing how quickly the water builds up. During the night the rain had come down in buckets plus the snow had melted. Our basement was on the verge of being seriously flooded and the actual pump was completely submerged while the contaminated water was rapidly seaping into our well. Not a good start to Christmas day at all. The next plan of action was to wake the girls so they could help bail out some of the water and move everything to higher ground (you can imagine how two rudely awoken bleary eyed teenagers felt about that). Actually they were a big help, lighting candles, phoning the electricity board and moving stuff upstairs all the while giggling, can you believe it?
Luckily we have a really good friend Greg, who lives fairly close by and came to our rescue with his portable generator, we managed to pump all the water out of the basement before it did too much damage.
Finally the panic was over and the daylight streamed into the house and I looked sadly at the forgotten Christmas tree with no presents beneath it. I don't think we would have got away with that a few years ago somehow! No, the days of Santa quietly visiting in the middle of the night, leaving his footprints and nibbling on the mince pie so carefully chosen and placed alongside a glass of milk or wine are long gone for us :(
Heidi take note, enjoy them while you can, they are truly precious and innocent years.
On the bright and less nostalgic side, Craig and the girls were all pleased with their gifts, which did eventually find their way under the tree and the giggling carried on until this afternoon when we were all a little too full of home cooked turkey dinner and terry's chocolate orange. The electricity was thankfully back on by midday and all is well again, we will just be drinking bottled water for the next few days.
So here I am typing away and planning on going downstairs to watch a movie 'Love Actually' a little later this evening with Craig and girls and possibly a glass of mulled wine :)
I got a few special little treats myself under the tree this year including a sweet little Christmas heart in white emboidery anglaise with red trim from my friend Keriann in NZ and arriving in the post from England just yesterday, the Judith Glover 2009 Note Nook Calendar which is adorable and will adorn the wall in my kitchen for a whole year.
Hazel xx

December 06, 2008

Another special birthday celebration

Last weekend we celebrated Amber's 'real' birthday. I say real because she tried an experimental 'half birthday' in June to see what it would be like not so close Christmas time. The outcome was that although she enjoyed the day it just didn't feel quite right. So, with Dec 1st falling on Monday (a school day) we had a special lunch together at Boston Pizza on Sunday. Her present was a long awaited and well deserved Ipod nano chromatic, or is that a shuffle? Anyway it's a pretty nifty looking gadget. I have a lovely green Ipod that has, wait for it..... a total of 50 songs downloaded and no photos (how embarrassing). Amber's already contains over 500 songs !!! as well as videos, images and photos. She absolutely loves music, all kinds from Indie and jazz to the current pop sounds. This is the child that likes to get up and dance as we are yawning and ready for bed!
My other little girl who is heading swiftly towards her 18th birthday in the summer is suddenly seeming very grown up too. With the upcoming semi-prom only weeks away she began a little project and turned this.......
Into this! I would like to call her a 'chip of the old block' but I'm not particularly fond of the word 'old' . She is most certainly creative in her own right and very determined, not needing a stitch of help from me, as she created a sweet little dress that is unique and was admired by her friends on the night.
Both Jemma and Amber had a great time at the school semi-prom dance, Amber wore a pre-loved black taffeta number that had been altered to fit perfectly by her big sister too!
Today it's 6.30 am. as I write this and I have a Saturday off work - yippee!! Why am I not having a lie in you may well ask. I just have too much on my mind and don't want to miss a minute of the day I suppose. Also I was feeling in the mood for writing a blog post :)
My Etsy orders are doing fine considering the little time I spend working on promoting! I have had a few local orders through word of mouth. My friend Mel requested a couple of tiny Westies with the initials BFF embroidered on them for her young daughter and best friend to remember each other by. They are soon to be moving to another part of Canada. I was so keen to give them to her that I forgot to take a photo, so perhaps I will make a couple more and list them as a pair in my shop. Also had a cow request to complete a farm set locally and a custom brown bunny using my guinea pig pattern!
Traditionally the weekend following Amber's birthday is decorating time! This morning Craig is going to collect the tree they picked out last weekend and after a quick shop for groceries I shall return for a family tree decorating afternoon, which I shall endeavor to report on next weekend if I get the chance.
Hazel x

November 24, 2008

Any sign of Mr Tumnus?

This weekend we woke up to a land resembling Narnia! It would appear that Winter has arrived a little early for us here in the Maritimes. Icicles on the roof. Driving home from work in blizzard conditions on Thursday I was very glad to have had my snow tires fitted in time. Everything came to a standstill as the snow had drifted into such deep dunes by Saturday morning that we couldn't get out of our driveway to go anywhere.
Having been very excited about my appointment with the hairdresser on my day off, it didn't look likely that I would make the 9am slot! Sure enough, I phoned to discover that I wasn't the only one trapped by a giant snow drift. Most stores and shopping malls were only going to be open by lunchtime at the earliest.
Well this did mean that we had no choice but to remain indoors keeping cosy by the wood fire. Actually that is not not entirely true. Amber had an invite to her friends house for a sleepover and as we had 'promised' she could go I volunteered to do the driving (kind or mad - I'm not sure). A local farmer showed up by lunchtime and ploughed the driveway so we could at least get the car out on to the road.
It took a little longer than usual, cautiously driving through 'mashed potato' type snow is interesting, guessing where the road, ditch, fences etc merged with my nose practically pressed against the windscreen! Needless to say I managed to get Amber delivered to her friend's door and make the trip back safely, with only a couple of dodgy manoeuvres along the way. Some of the roads had been ploughed, but on one side only, not that I encountered many fellow drivers crazy enough to be on the road! There were however plenty of cheery folk out shovelling and blowing snow, all sporting rosy cheeks and cute bobble hats! - keep in mind that this is early in the winter season and still somewhat of a novelty. Grinning doesn't come as spontaneously as the weeks of snow go by, unless they are frozen ones :D
This afternoon the sun is shining and the girls are home from school and already wearing their snowsuits and giggling as I write. Archie on the other hand is quite perplexed by the whole snow deal and would like some answers please.

Archie gazing out of the window, looking a little puzzled
Hazel xx

November 07, 2008

Ships in the night ....

At least that's what it has felt like over the past couple of weeks. Between my erratic working hours the girls with their various after school commitments, volunteer work and Craig's full time job almost an hours drive away. So last Sunday Craig decided that we should go on a 'family drive' forcing us to spend 'quality' family time together. This was met with groans, rolling of eyes and slumped shoulders, and that was just me! Only kidding, we all went along with his special request and meandered around the back streets of the valley for a couple of hours, only getting lost once, which after a quick group study of the map set us in the right direction again.
Our unplanned route took us past this place
Tangled Garden
Run by a friendly lady called Beverley who chatted to us whilst preparing some herbal concoction behind the counter. Her business and premises are quite enchanting and we will most certainly be going back for a visit in the summertime when her gardens are looking their best. If you are into gourmet food then it's a gem of a find, some of the jellies looked yummy and the bottled vinegars quite intriguing!
I can see myself snuggled up by the wood stove on a snowy Saturday evening sipping one of her new liqueurs too :)
The girls disappeared outside with the camera to take a few snaps in the now out of season garden which still looks delightful. You can see from Beverley's website link that it does look stunning in the summer.
Jemma amongst the 'tousle bushes'
All in all, our spontaneous drive went very well, with a more than a little reminiscing taking place in the confined space of our car. Remembering what, when and where funny and memorable events have taken place over the many years and several countries on our travels can be quite challenging but between the four of us we came to realise what a huge catalogue of memories we have built up and it was a great afternoon.
Thanks to Craig's persistence I might add ;)
Hazel xx

October 31, 2008

Orange is not my favourite colour

Both Jem and Amber had fun dressing up for school today. Amber for the second time this week as she also went to a Halloween party on Wednesday night and had a great time.
They are both a little too old to go 'trick or treating' this year. Thank goodness we don't live in town where the residents apparently get close to a hundred groups of children/teens visiting them, many armed with a big black garbage bag which they expect to fill with treats by the end of the evening! I probably sound a bit mean and grouchy, sorry. I think the younger children are very cute all dressed up going door to door, but not the ones with facial hair, who look like they are pushing 20 years old!
This afternoon I prepared a stress free quick and easy family meal. I am the first to admit to NOT being the greatest cook in the world, but Craig and the girls seem to like my home made turkey burgers. There should even be enough left over for tomorrow, so I won't need to do any cooking when I get home.
1 pound extra lean turkey mince
2 large eggs (whisk with a fork)
1 large carrot (grated)
1/2 apple (grated)
1 medium courgette/zucchini (grated)
4-6 fresh sweet basil leaves finely chopped (dried leaves can be used) 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp sea salt
Mix all the ingredients together well, with the mince added last.
Spray a wok or non-stick frying pan with a little oil, when hot drop in tablespoon sized portions. I do 3 at a time, flattening them down with a spatula. Cook for about 3 mins each side until golden brown. Turn onto some absorbent kitchen paper before putting on a plate. Voila! Served with wholewheat rolls and a baby spinach, peach and toasted almond salad - oops I seem to be out of almonds today!

I think it's the Sweet Basil that makes them extra flavourful :)
Finally, I shall share a sad little foxy tail....
A customer contacted me a few days ago with a special request for a tiny felt fox with a 3/4 length tail! He is to represent a little fox cub called Fitz from a family of foxes, which Annika has been photographing since April. The poor little guy showed up a while ago with a third of his tail missing :( OUCH! To make matters worse he now seems to have vanished and hasn't been seen for several days. I really hope that he does show up, I will be sure to let you know if I hear any news from Annika.

Hazel x

October 19, 2008

Apples for bicycles?

Jemma and Amber spent some time on Saturday morning picking apples to help raise money through the school, for bicycles in Africa (no further details forthcoming from the girls at this point!) There was a good turn out of kids, despite the chilly early morning air as they set to work filling their buckets.
Gathering the fallen apples, destined for 'juicing'

Almost home with thoughts of hot chocolate and a biscuit :)
My mum and dad are visiting my brother Michael and his family in Adelaide Australia this week and I am really looking forward to hearing all about their first trip to the land down under. They will also be spending some time with my aunt in Sydney, a city I would love to be able to visit one day. It's strange to think that they have the whole summer ahead of them in Aussie and also in Africa when they return home, while we are making some serious preparations for winter.
Today Craig and I swept the chimney!! It was quite a complex hands on procedure requiring some strength and inginuity. Armed with an extra strong home made bag to catch the soot we proceeded to shove the custom made brush up through the chimney from the laundry room. Gradually attaching 5 interlocking fiberglass 5ft. rods to push it right to the top. It took some tricky maneuvering and we were a little apprehensive when the brush got stuck a couple of times. Running outside I was relieved to see the 'poof' of soot finally appear at the very top. Actually it wasn't nearly as messy as I had expected and my laundry is now back in use! We can now safely light our first wood fire in a week or so, without the risk of the chimney catching alight. I know we could have got the experts in to do the job for us, but where is the adventure in that I ask?!
Hazel xx

October 13, 2008


The changing colours of 'Fall'
Today is 'Thanksgiving' here in Canada. That means we all get the day off work and school - Yippee! As a family we don't usually celebrate the holiday but the girls asked if we could make a special effort this year and join in the Canadian spirit of things.
I cooked a roast chicken along with sweet potatoes, carrots and red peppers, all tossed in olive oil with a sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon. Pureed pumpkin, broccoli florets, gravy and homemade cranberry sauce on the side made for a colourful and delicious late lunch. Desert was an apple and caramel cake with maple/walnut ice cream. Unfortunately the battery is flat on my camera so I wasn't able to capture it on film.
Following our meal we played board games while laughing hysterically at random things (but you really had to be there)
Alas the sun did not shine, though yesterday was beautiful so we can't complain. Jemma went into Halifax with two friends on Saturday and we visited some new English friends at their lakeside home in the evening. Two different lots of visitors went home with bags full of our apples yesterday as well as a few baby potatoes from Craig's experimental 'potato crate'! Personally I thought it seemed like a lot of hard work for a meagre offering of spuds - but I think he had fun, especially dismantling the crate and digging in the sawdust by hand, along with his friend Greg, (boyish memories of mud pies perhaps?)
This afternoon we have (well, Craig mostly) insulated a few windows. Every little helps and the big picture windows lose a lot of heat so we have put up some temporary plastic film. The type that can be dried taut with a hairdryer. We used the stuff way back when Jemma was born, in our first home in Camberley and it worked well then.
No news on my shop this week, I have stopped promoting my animals on-line, if fact I hardly ever seem to get on the computer these days, just not enough hours in the day to do everything. My work hours at Wheaton's have been longer than I had anticipated for the last month. I apologise to my friends on facebook who I feel I have neglected recently :( I think I may need some practice at 'time management'
I actually cheated on the photo above (it was taken this time last year looking across at our next door neighbour's house and garden). Since it was taken their beautiful 'pavilion' gazebo got blown into a crumpled irreparable heap (rather like ours did in Spring!)
Hazel x

October 06, 2008

Archie, will you ever learn?

I wonder?
It's just as well he has 9 lives. Since living in Nova Scotia he has managed to get himself attacked by a Racoon, had a few near misses with fast moving trucks and has even had a very close encounter with a skunk! (not a pleasant experience). His current enemy is the stray cat our next door neighbours have adopted.
You see, Archie, being a creature of habit only goes out for about 15 minutes early in the morning at this time of year, then a couple of hours before it gets dark in the evenings. He even looks forward to his 'bedtime routine' and usually comes and meows at us a few minutes before 10pm. He is quite happy to be put to bed in his little room where he views the nighttime activities safely behind a window. The Tom cat next door however is a little more streetwise and of the nocturnal variety. He struts his stuff along our barn late at night and we have even spotted paw marks outside Archie's window. Well, all of this taunting has led Archie to seek some revenge I think. I always know something is wrong when he doesn't come home on time. Sure enough a couple of days ago he finally emerged with one eye half closed, blood stains around his neck and ears, looking very ashamed of himself. After gently wiping him down with warm water followed by a baby aspirin for the pain and a large dose of sympathy, he is once again on the mend.
Archie aside, this weekend Craig and I joined some friends and went to watch a live show featuring singer songwriter Coco Love Alcorn. Sitting in an intimate lounge setting in the Wick pub, her one off performance was a sell out. Even though jazz/folk is not usually my cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed her amazing voice and sense of humour. A very talented lady. We were even lucky enough to get a special limited edition fabric poster. Coco, along with her new hubby screen print pre-loved tee-shirts and men's cotton shirts, which they sell at various events. For this particular concert they designed just 8 posters for a select few who attended the show.On Sunday Craig and I left the girls at home and went out to buy some fresh organic veggies and fruit. Pumpkins, squash, peppers and of course apples are in abundance at the roadside stalls this time of year. Whilst out we decided to call in on a friend of mine, Terri and her husband James. Both from the UK and fairly recent immigrants to Canada like ourselves. They are in the middle of doing a big renovation project on their home as well as an extension for a tea room and very special garden. Terri is a horticulturist who worked on The Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan in the UK, so has a ton of experience and a passion for plants. Her love of William Morris was quite evident in her collection books featuring his work as well as a selection of rich wallpapers that will one day grace the walls of her home. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon spent chatting about all sorts of interesting topics. Terri grew up in Zambia and Craig in Zululand, so they had a few childhood memories in common.
We ended the weekend by splitting and stacking more wood for the winter! It's that time of year already, our hard work will hopefully pay off in the months ahead.
Craig sorting out the best logs to split in the hydraulic monster wood splitter.
As you can see, the leaves are now turning orange and even though the evenings and early mornings are a bit nippy, the sun will be shining all week. It's such a beautiful time of year.
Hazel x

September 28, 2008

Family Team Work

It was the first title thought that came into my head this morning as I started to write this weeks blog post!
On the home front, my brood has really pulled together over the past couple of weeks, adapting to my sudden absence as we have moved into a new chapter.
Jemma and Amber are now quite capable of preparing varied meals (that don't come in a packet or tin). Dirty clothes are finding their own way into the laundry basket, they don't get washed otherwise! Archie is now 'extra' affectionate to the younger members of the family, he has cottoned on the fact that they are the ones feeding him at around 5pm! I still get my 6am friendly wake up 'leg weaving' as I stumble towards his biscuit bowl. Craig is becoming a dab hand at picking up the odd top-up grocery shopping, as well as fetching and dropping off the girls when I am not around.
The dust bunnies hiding on the stairs and under furniture generally wait patiently for my day off, as does other housework and ironing of course. Well they wouldn't want to rob me of that privilege would they :D
I shan't bore you with too many details of my own day to day activities at work, except to say that I am enjoying my job and learning something new every day. I really must invest in a good pair of comfy work shoes soon. It has been many years since I worked in retail and the one thing I don't remember too clearly was how sore my feet are at the end of the day! Or is that just because I am not 18 anymore? Thank goodness for Peppermint foot lotion and my soft M&S bunny slippers.
I am now able to 'speed eat' in the 15 minutes we get to 'inhale' our lunch, as it is referred to by one work colleague. Don't think I fancy liquidised salad, but soup and yoghurt are always a good option. I need a quick cup of coffee in the afternoons too, something I haven't done before, as I couldn't get to sleep if I had caffeine after midday.
A little update on the girls.
Amber, fast approaching 15 and the social butterfly, has been making lots of new friends in high school and there seems to be something going on every weekend from movies, school dances to bands playing in basements. She is revelling in all this new found social activity. This week she completed and handed in her Bronze Duke of Ed. and will be getting her certificate in October.
Jemma has so much on her plate in this final year of high school, but seems to be coping well with both extra AP courses. These on-line lessons linked into other schools fill in her 'spares' whereas her friends get to go out to fast food outlets or go home early, she is always working. It will all be worthwhile in the end and she does enjoy the challenge. She also single handedly runs the school campus store and has been busy designing and ordering new merchandise for the winter. Being creative rather than just academic makes for a healthier balance.
Both girls have now got regular babysitting jobs locally, so they are quickly becoming independent and responsible young ladies.
Today is Sunday and we are just relaxing at home as a family. I have promised to make up a batch of turkey burgers, using my special recipe which includes sweet basil, garlic and our own grated courgettes. Always a favourite served with wholewheat buns and a side salad. Then a family movie this afternoon before the predicted power cut! Yes, hurricane 'Kyle' is heading our way this evening with 120km winds! So far we have only had 100km ones which were pretty fierce. I shall have to report any damage in next week's post.
It's calm outside right now, but looks can be deceiving so I'm off to batten down the hatches!
Hazel x

September 21, 2008

A little bit of quirkiness!

My friend Kat tagged me last week, asking for a list of 6 quirky, but fairly ordinary things about myself.
So, in no particular order here goes...
1. I have a 'thing' for painting things, often white, sometimes cream or pale blue. Particularly old furniture that's in need of some TLC. I love the Swedish or Scandinavian decor style, especially when it's a little distressed, simplistic and fresh.
2. I actually enjoy doing my ironing, outdoors preferably if possible in the summertime. I find it calming and the perfect time for creative thoughts.
3. I absolutely 'hate' brussel sprouts, liver and stew - Yuk! Always have, ever since 
those nasty primary school dinners that we were made to eat while some very stern dinner ladies or prefects watched over us.
4. I am gluten intollerent (not Celiac's) and I used to think it was just wheat but it is in cornflour and oats too! Just can't digest the stuff and get the most unbearable tummy cramps if I eat some by mistake. So cakes, biscuits and pasta are a no no for me unfortunately. It's not such a big deal as I love so many other foods and will occasionally treat myself to some 'gluten free' yummies. But not the gluten free bread as it usually resembles a brick!
5. I am a bit of a neat freak (or so I am told) If my house is messy I start to get a tad irate and reach for my rubber gloves or a broom quicker than you can say 'dust bunny'.
6. Cold fingers and toes, yep those extremities of mine struggle to get warm in winter no matter how many layers of clothing I wear. Is that quirky or perhaps a little worrying I wonder?

I don't really like tagging people, or at least not too often but I think my sister Heidi, my friend Kathy (who already has some on her blog) and Lyn might like to take part at some point in the future. I would be interested to read their 6 quirky, but ordinary things about themselves if they feel like sharing them.

Hazel xx

September 15, 2008

Working Girl

There are going to be a few little changes in our family home starting this week, as I now have a new job!
I will be away during the day, working for a lovely family run company called Wheaton's. I believe I have mentioned Wheaton's on previous posts, it is not only a wonderful store but has a great cafe too, one of my favourite places to have lunch with my friends :)
Following a phone call last weekend, an interview on Monday, and then a job offer on Tuesday to start on Friday! It's only early days so I am still in the process of 'settling in' and learning the ropes. An exciting change for me after doing secretarial work from home and helping children with learning difficulties at elementary school. Not forgetting my sewing business of course. I am in a way, stepping out of my 'comfort zone' the time feels right. Saturday was spent in the Christmas room at work (frighteningly early I know) getting familiar with all the gorgeous products, unpacking, stocking up and meeting some lovely people in the process, both work colleagues and customers. It was incredibly busy, with many customers getting a head start on Christmas shopping, so the day seemed to fly by!
With a resourceful husband and two capable teenage daughters (please do take note if you read this girls!) I am sure our 'new' family dynamics at home will work out, with the word 'delegate' featuring a little more in my vocabulary from now on. Being a great one for list writing and planning, it is a challenge I shall relish (I hope?).
My little shop will continue to remain open. I intend to catch up with my 'stitchery' on Sundays, along with all the other jobs around the house. Luckily there is now a descent stock of felt animals waiting with optimistic anticipation of a busy run up to December.
Here on the farm, there has been a lot of 'apple activity' in the orchards this week. Huge piles of crates have been strategically placed ready for the harvesting season. I am sure that both the local and Mexican pickers will soon be swarming among the trees and we will hear that familiar hollow sound of apples hitting wood as well as laughter and chattering, while the crates get filled, ready to be shipped off to various places.
The leaves are turning golden and starting to fall at a rapid rate suddenly. Today there is such a gale blowing that it almost knocked me off my feet early this morning. Despite it being of the warm tropical variety it was incredibly powerful, with a headwind going up the hill and a tailwind practically blowing me home again, just in time to see Craig leave for his day in the office.
Well I shall have to dash now, lists to write and a quick load of washing to hang out, making the most of this perfect laundry weather....
Til next week, I hope you have a good one :)
Hazel xx

September 07, 2008

All good things must come to an end.

After an incredibly long summer break, both girls returned to school on Wednesday. It was eerily quiet with just Archie for company again. At 2.30 the familiar yellow school bus pulled up outside and my two chattering teens tumbled inside, bags and all, with stories to tell and mixed feelings. Amber is no longer in a class with her two good friends, but was pleased to finally be with her big sister in high school. Jemma found her new schedule had been messed up with some of her chosen subjects needing to be sorted out by the guidance councilor. Like many other students, nobody seemed to know exactly what was going on. In other words a normal first day. Thursday and Friday were a little better, with the weekend coming as such a relief that they went to bed early on their own accord, totally exhausted!! That's one good thing about getting up with the birds at 6am.
On the subject of birds, our dear little hummingbird friends seem to be rapidly diminishing. The males, babies and stronger females have already flown off to warmer climates. Left behind are just a few females who will sadly not be able to make the long tiring journey to Mexico. I keep topping up the sugar water feeder with a heavy heart, knowing that when the first frost arrives they will surely die. Nature can be cruel sometimes.
Last weekend was our final 'family day' of the holidays and we headed for Upper Clements Park on an impulse visit, using the 'buy one get one free' vouchers I had cut out from some cereal boxes ages ago. I secretly hoped that they would come in handy. The park is very low key as far as theme parks go (chalk and cheese compared to Universal Studios in Florida!) It has always a fun day out, being relatively close to home, we have visited each summer since we arrived in Nova Scotia.
It seems hard to believe that it is over a year since we took my parents for the day last summer. The only Roller coaster ride in the park has seen better days and I have to admit I felt a little uneasy as it rattled along. It felt like I had left my tummy behind somewhere along the way! The home made fudge is delectable and always worth a little sample (that would be 'after' riding on the roller coaster of course).
Amaretto, vanilla and peanut butter and chocolate flavours, all equally delicious!
We left at 4pm, just in time to see the first drops of rain as a thunder storm blew in, which we managed to out drive all the way home.
Same time next year? Who knows, we will have to wait and see.

Hazel xx

August 30, 2008

Bats in our brolly!!

Imagine my surprise a few days ago when opening up the umbrella on the deck, I found two of these little chaps hiding inside!
We had seen them flying around in the evenings and I believe they usually spend the day in trees (but maybe not).
They squirmed a bit and were quite reluctant to leave. After debating whether or not to close the brolly up again I decided that we needed the shade more. Eventually they flew off to another resting place for the day :)
My intended blog post was put on hold last week because I wanted to take part in The Tree of Happiness. I was going to tell you about the 'little vintage clothing trip'. Both Jemma and Amber were really keen to investigate the various used clothing shops in the city. Amber downloaded a street map for us to follow. Wearing suitable comfy walking shoes we trekked the streets in the city centre. Craig and I made a few 'patient' coffee stops at Starbucks, while the girls hunted amongst racks of dresses, tops and jeans. They both managed to find a couple of cute items at bargain prices and were pleased as punch. It was a lovely day with the City having a great Cosmopolitan atmosphere on a Saturday. Such a lovely memory point. As the children don't have a school uniform here (how I wish they did!) their clothes become one way of expressing their personalities. Our local shops are quite limited, with the clothes all being fairly similar, so it is always refreshing to find something a little different in vintage shops and on e-bay occasionally too. Actually some of my own favourite pieces are finds from many years ago in the English charity shops I found hidden away in quaint villages. I have a couple of 'designer' pieces picked up for a song, even though I am not into labels at all they are extremely good quality and classic.
This week I was approached by Rebecca over at The Ardent Sparrow, she is also an etsy seller and has compiled a little ongoing competition with various etsy sellers in Canada donating a 'freebie' from their shops. It has given some sellers including myself a little more publicity at a quiet time of year. With people starting to think about Christmas (crazy I know!). I think her timing is perfect. Also, someone is going to win a great collection of goodies. I included little Hanna, a golden labrador puppy to go into her prize parcel. If you pop over to her blog and you can read more about it.
Finishing off, I just had to include this picture of Craig looking ever so happy whilst picking peaches at a local farm. I love this time of year!! Yummy fuzzy peaches
Bye for now, til next week
Hazel xx

August 25, 2008

The Tree of Happiness!

I was surprised and delighted this morning to find a comment on my last blog post from Emily , giving me 'The Tree of Happiness Award' Yay! Thanks Emily for choosing me and also for the links to some lovely new blogs to visit.
The award states that I must list 'just 6 things' that make me happy. Well that shouldn't be too difficult so here goes.....
1. My family (an obvious one for most I am sure)
I met my wonderful husband Craig on an aeroplane, it was pretty much love at first sight (sounds cheesy I know, sorry) we have been together for almost 20 happy years! My two daughters' Jemma and Amber have put countless smiles to my face over the years and still do on a daily basis. I am so proud of my family and love them to bits.
2. Friends.
My real friends living in various parts of the world, who accept me for who I am, don't judge me and who I know will be there either in person,on the Internet or at the end of a phone line through the good and bad times. Never underestimate the importance of true friendship.
3. My early morning 'me time' walk.
Every other day I walk the same route at around 6.30am. It's never boring because I don't know what I will see from day to day through spring, summer and autumn. Breathing in the crisp air, being close to nature and the ever changing view from the top of the hill across the valley.
4. Growing our own organic veggies and fruit.
Picking washing and eating it ! Thanks to my husband, who is so much better than me at remembering to water it regularly! Nothing compares to the fresh taste of a salad full of baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced courgettes, tiny carrots, sliced peaches, toasted almonds and creamy poppy seed dressing.
5. The Internet

I like to keep up with the times and the Internet gives me the opportunity to keep in touch with friends and family (not everyone likes to write letters anymore) It enables me to run my etsy business, which I love, find new ideas and inspiration. All of which makes me very happy in a modern world. It also keeps me sane through the long cold winters in Canada.
Whether it's a new song that makes me want to get up and dance or a song that brings back a memory of a different time and place. Something about certain music just fills me with happiness.
Here are a few happy friends I am passing the award to, I would love to find out what gives them their own 'happy feeling'.
Kat, Kathy, Kali and Keriann (all the K's!)
In my shop this week I had a flurry of interest over this little guy!He was a special order made up for Taci who's daughter specifically wanted a green dinosaur with a blue tummy. After designing, sewing and listing him as reserved I had three customers ask for one of their own :) I do enjoy designing something new and this one could be for the boys too for a change!
I hope everyone has a happy week :D
Hazel xx

August 15, 2008

More Berries......

Moving on from the blueberries last week, we went on this summer's first 'blackberry' hunt yesterday afternoon. I had noticed a couple of days ago that they were coming along nicely at the side of the lane. With a recent dose of rain and some early morning sunshine, the first little berries were just about ready, not as sweet as they will be in a few days but tasty none the less with a sprinkling of icing sugar on top, Mmmmm. 
It was Craig's birthday on Wednesday, which coincided nicely with a company function we were invited to in the city. All the nearby hotels were fully booked, so we opted to stay in a B&B instead. This turned out to be a very good decision, as we discovered The Pepperberry . A beautiful heritage home in Halifax city centre, run by Mike and Karen, a friendly couple who emigrated from England in 2004. Our room was perfect, in the Garret loft and the breakfast was 'excellent' with fresh fruit and home made pancakes. They were even kind enough to serve gluten free pancakes and toast, which I was able to enjoy!
Jemma and Amber were happy to hold the fort at home taking care of Archie. It was the first time we had left them alone overnight!
My final 'berry' to get a mention is the cranberry, an essential ingredient in a 'Crantini' One of several drinks mixed up at a girls Martini party up at lake George last night. About 25 ladies, including my friend Tina (no men or kiddies allowed). We all had a fun evening sampling a few different Martini cocktails, including the Crantini, Appletini and a Pomegranate martini.
"Ok who's next?"

Hazel xx

August 07, 2008

Yummy Blueberries!!

The blueberries are now ripe and ready for the picking!
Amber and I went for our first visit this summer to the 'pick your own' blueberry farm, which is just a 3 minute drive away. Normally I manage to control myself, but they were so juicy and tempting I lost track of my 'tasting' and ate a few too many thus confirming that purple lipstick is really not my colour! It was fun to be amongst other eager pickers in the early morning sunshine. We collected two punnets full, most of which have now been measured into little bags and put in the freezer for later. Of course I left a generous bowl on the table for Craig to nibble on when he comes home from work.
Some other Organic 'edibles' to be found in our own veggie patch are the sweetest baby carrots. When I pulled up this one (or two) I thought of my online blogging friend Rachael.
Cute carrot couple :)

Of course my graphic computer skills are not quite up to her standard but I couldn't resist having a go, just for fun.
The days are slowly beginning to get shorter now with the sun going down at around 9pm. This huge lone and rather ominous looking cloud appeared in the sky the other day. Craig was hitting a few golf balls out in the field and called us all outside to take a squizz, while he took a snap of it.... and gave it the thumbs up too I see :) My little etsy shop remains awfully quiet, but I promised myself that I would not become despondent. I have to remember that it is the very thing that keeps me sane during the winter time, along with my computer, which enables me to remain in contact with my friends. I am trying to sew a couple of animals each day in anticipation of busier weeks ahead. I was however quite upset to receive my first 'neutral' feedback a few weeks ago. A new customer reported on the feedback section in my shop that she hadn't received the tiny puppy I had mailed to her. I quickly made her a replacement for free and sent it with my apologies. The original one did show up, just a little late (I suspect the replacement one did too). By then she had already left her comment in my shop and didn't bother to change the wording. I am disappointed to have my selling reputation slightly tarnished, but am trying not to let it get worry me too much.
My growing army of tiny animals!

Hazel xx

August 01, 2008

Summer Thrifting

So far this year my finds on the 'thrifting' front have been a little on the sparse side. Perhaps because it's our third yard sale season here and there are only so many 'bargains' a girl can snap up! Craig and I did stop at a couple early last Saturday morning. We met a very friendly lady called Shannon who was selling some of her unwanted items at her parents home in our closest town Berwick. We got chatting and have since visited each others blogs. Shannon even bought a couple of my tiny felt animals!
I didn't find any items of furniture, which I am always on the look out for, just a few small bits and pieces like this cute little recipe book from the 1950's.
I selected some vintage craft books and magazines, which are always fun to look through especially on those cosy winter evenings, if only to laugh at the advertisements.
My shop bought 'Sale' find this week is this pretty candle chandelier. I had in mind the library, above the stairwell as the perfect spot. However, within minutes of bringing it inside the girls had disappeared with a collection of 'props' including my new purchase, to do a little photo shoot under the weeping willow tree!
As for the chandelier, having served it's purpose in a few snaps, it is now hanging in the library thanks to Craig and his diy skills. Quite a tricky manoeuvre, as the sheer drop into the hall below could cause a nasty injury. Securely harnessed by some rope to the bedroom door frame (sounds interesting), he managed to stand on a stepping stool and lean out far enough to put the hook in the tin ceiling. Mainly for decorative purposes I am now on the look out for some smoke free candles, which of course would only be lit when we are in the room. It can easily be reached from the stairs, but I think it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Hazel xx

July 28, 2008

Happy 17th Birthday Jemma

Seventeen years ago in the maternity ward at Frimley Park Hospital in Camberley Surrey my eldest daughter Jemma made her appearance. After a 15 hour labour (pretty average I suppose) The Doctor finally studied my x-rays and realised that It was highly unlikely that I would be able to have the 'natural' birth I had hoped for. All those National Childbirth Trust classes I had so diligently attended turned out to be not so useful after all. They only skimmed over the C-section option, focusing instead on how we 'must' avoid pain relief at all costs!! It was just assumed that everyone in the class would manage to have a straightforward natural birth. Jemma did arrive safely and was the sweetest child I had ever laid my eyes on. Little Jem, just a few hours old
As for recovering from my operation! Craig and I had been renovating our first home, a small semi detached house close to town. My labour had started quite abruptly after stripping wallpaper all day, with my waters breaking just as I was about to go to bed at the end of a long day. We moved into our half renovated house when Jemma was only 3 weeks old! Oh the faded but fun memories that go with that good old 'nesting instinct' :D
Now I have a beautiful young lady in her final year at high school who makes me so proud. Her special day today has been a simple 'family' event with Craig finishing work early and bringing home a 'Subway' lunch (a birthday treat request). Desert was her favourite New York style cheesecake, served with all 17 candles perched on top in a little sponge cake in the middle, they get ever so messy plonked in the cheesecake itself! We took a few photos and Amber has since compiled a little movie on facebook which she is going to put on her site this afternoon. Jem chose a new release DVD called 21, to watch this evening in the cool lounge. I never thought I would be so grateful for this chilly home of ours, it has been quite humid lately with temperatures hovering around the mid to upper 20's so the best places to be are indoors, under a tree or in the lake between the hours of 11am and 4pm.
A little family outing we enjoy at this time of year is a 20 minute drive to the pebble beach at
Harbourville where we make a fire and toast marshmallows on long sticks or forks. Saturday was another very hot day, so we headed for the bay of Fundi where we found an almost eerie atmosphere, the sun was so diffused by the mist that Amber was convinced it was the moon. Craig threw a few flat stones, skimming them across the water. The girls had fun taking photos and exploring, while I hunted for white pebbles to take home and put on our garden path. Mmmmm, is that one for me?
Hazel xx