Monday, March 28, 2016

After Easter

Well Easter is over for another year. I like Easter since there isn't a lot of  craziness (in my family anyway) to buy gifts and to decorate and to bake months in advance! I do things simply at Easter. A few decorations on the table, dry sink or buffet.

Knitted Easter Egg Pattern

We had our Easter dinner yesterday, with just my little family of four. We did a delicious roast beef with vegetables in the crock pot and a loaf of rosemary bread ... actually my husband did the main meal. My son and I baked Hot Cross Buns on Saturday for Sunday's breakfast. They turned out really well (recipe at the end of this post). I love Hot Cross Buns, but have only made them once before. My mother made them every year and shared them with us, so there was no need for me to bake them until she passed away. It was good to taste that familiar spicy bun once more :) The lemon squares were made on Saturday as well, and they were a hit. The recipe does make a lot, however, so now we're stuck with a lot of lemon squares ... terrible, right? I sent some back with my daughter, but that pan is in the fridge staring back at me every time I open the door :[

I didn't hear from any of my other family this year, although I did see dear ol' Dad on Saturday for a visit in the morning. His memory was on a one-minute loop that day. Conversation was difficult with the repeating questions. I finally brought out a couple of photo albums to look through with him. He gobbled up the pictures eagerly, as we strolled down "non-memory" lane. The only people he remembers now are his own mother and father. I had to repeatedly tell him they had died many years ago. It's bad enough to have to break the news to him that his parents are dead once in a visit. On Saturday I had to break the news to him about ten times! He took it rather well, but was surprised at the news every time, "Oh, I didn't know they had died". Ever see the movie "50 First Dates"? It was like that. I love that movie. It makes the whole dementia thing a little lighter to bear without demeaning people who have it. 

We drove my daughter back home yesterday after our early supper. There's still snow in the woods alongside the highway there. It was a gorgeous day yesterday, and I was able to have the patio door opened a crack while our roast cooked. It was nice to hear the birds singing all day :)  Today started off with a thunderstorm really early (before I got up). Now it's raining steadily.

I've written out the recipe for the hot cross buns here if you're interested. I realize it's a bit moot to post this recipe after Easter, but maybe you'll keep the recipe for next year. I've not made bread very often, and found this recipe quite easy. We couldn't get candied peel at our grocery store (?!), and then we forgot to buy the raisins. My son and I opened up the pantry cupboard to look for raisins, and saw the box of Raisin Bran cereal sitting there. We looked at each other and silently agreed that we would steal those raisins ... and we did! Thank goodness for those "two scoops of raisins"!! Here's hoping you're better prepared if you make these.


4 cups all-purpose flour
8 g pkg quick-rise instant yeast (I used Fleischmann's)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves or allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins (steal them from your favourite cereal if none on hand)
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped candied peel
1/4 cup water
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg

1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 - 2 tbsp lemon juice

Set aside 1 cup flour.

In large bowl, combine remaining flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, raisins, lemon rind and candied peel.

In small saucepan, heat water, milk and butter until very warm to touch (120 - 130F). With wooden spoon, gradually stir into dry ingredients. Mix in egg; beat mixture smooth. Stir in enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough that pulls away from side of bowl. Turn on to floured surface, knead dough  five to seven minutes until dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if dough is too sticky. Cover with tea towel; stand 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, Stretch and shape each piece into a smooth ball, pinching at bottom to seal. Place seam-side down on greased baking sheets about two inches apart. Cut crosses in each bun with sharp knife. Cover with tea towel and put in warm place. Let rise 35 - 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Mix egg yolk with water, brush over surface of buns. Bake in preheated 375F oven 15 - 18 minutes, until golden brown. Cool.

In small bowl, combine icing sugar and enough lemon juice to make a good consistency to drizzle. Beat until smooth. Brush or drizzle icing on top of each bun (I used a decorating tool).

Makes 12 hot cross buns.


Thanks for stopping by today :)


Linking up with Judith of Lavender Cottage and Mosaic Monday

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easter Greetings!

These days I don't do a lot for Easter ... my kids (no longer "kids") will still get their chocolate bunny, and we'll still have a nice dinner together, but that's about it. The crafting days with my own kids are finished, and I no longer suffer from headaches brought on by blowing out eggs to decorate! However, I still work through a few crafts with the daycare kids for them to take home. I chose this idea from Pinterest. I liked the handprint wings. These are popsicle sticks painted yellow and everything else is construction paper.

These next little chicks are made from pinecones. We painted the pinecones yellow, then stuffed them with tiny bits of fiber fill and a couple of feathers for wings. Google eyes and paper beaks complete them. 

For my card and tea exchange group, I made some cards up with some fabric bunnies. I drew the silhouettes of rabbits onto "Heat and Bond", a double-sided adhesive. I then ironed that onto the wrong side of fabric. I cut out the silhouette from the fabric and ironed the final piece onto the blank card. This method works really well, and I was quite pleased with the results. I used the same method to iron on bunny heads on the envelopes as well.

These are some little rabbits I made up with pretty cotton fabric on one side, and burlap on the other. Fronts and backs were stitched together around the outside edge, and they were stuffed with a small amount of fiber fill. Some tiny buttons were used for the eyes. 

They're rabbits, so they multiplied very quickly!

Today was our last farewell to Winter! I know Spring has officially arrived on the calendar, but in reality Winter decided to throw us one final ice storm to bid us adieu. Thank you Winter, but you really shouldn't have! It started with rain, then snow overnight. This morning the snow turned to freezing rain and everything was encrusted in ice for the morning commuters. 

I tossed lots of bird seed out for my feathered friends, and the patio has been a flutter with activity all day long ... even the squirrels and rabbit came to enjoy a little treat. Later this evening after supper, the Coopers Hawk flew into the mix and almost flew into my patio door ... again!!! After watching the little birds all day, I can't say I was sorry that Cooper missed his mark.

I worry for the flowers that were just coming out of the ground and the buds on the trees and bushes. Hopefully, everything will survive. The poor plants have started to come up a few times during this unseasonably mild winter, only to have the tender shoots frozen in snow again. The ice wasn't too thick today, and some of it melted away as the day wore on. It certainly wasn't nearly as bad as the ice storm of 2013. Take care out there if you have to drive in it, and hopefully things will be cleared up again by Saturday when we can expect a high of 8C!

Here's a sample of how thick the ice was in 2013 ...

... yes, I'd say we got off easy today.

Happy Easter Everyone!


Linking up with:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Photography, Sparrows and a Lemon Dessert for Easter

Good morning everyone! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. We had some great weather, sunny, sunny, sunny. Still a little too chilly for garden work (for me anyway). My weekend was full with visiting my dad and then errands. While with Dad, my sister arrived unexpectedly, so we took the opportunity and went out for lunch once Dad was settled in his own dining room for his. 

First off I want to share some photos I took recently. Now I am not a manual camera person. I prefer putting the camera on automatic and clicking away. I just find it quicker because I'm usually with little kids, or the dog, or I'm taking wildlife photos and don't want to miss the shot. Sometimes it gets annoying when the flash continually want to go off, but I work around that in my own way. My camera, however, does have manual capabilities! Now with Soma's help in her Wandering Camera series, I am challenging myself to do more. Soma recently spoke about setting the ISO properly. This morning I played with that a bit, and here are the results. Nothing note worthy, but it shows you really do have to play around with the camera ... and again I can't say how thankful I am that these are digital :)

The photos were looking a little better as I kept changing the settings. These are shown in order of taking them. The lighting wasn't great this morning with clouds moving in, but with a beautiful sunrise first thing. What do you think Soma?

These next two were a couple of photos from the automatic setting, and then I touched them up on the computer (which is my normal lazy photographer method). Please note the snow. It was -4C this morning ... ugh.

Obviously, I need more practice, but I've dipped my toe in now and will force myself to continue.

And now a few shots of a sweet little song sparrow that I took through the back patio door. Not great photos, but I don't see this guy very often. If I had opened the door, he would have flown away. (automatic setting ... these were taken a few days ago)

And lastly, I'd like to share a favourite recipe of mine and my daughter's. Now this recipe is light tasting, but it is not light in calories. We happened upon this recipe many years ago, and although it's a bit of work, it's very easy and delicious! It keeps for a few days in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long). If you like lemony desserts, I've got to say, this one is superb! The real lemons make for a very mouthwatering lemon taste. I'll be serving this after our Easter meal of roast beef & Yorkshire pudding :)


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (filberts)

Heat oven to 350F. Spray 13 x 9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine flour, powdered sugar and butter; mix well. Press dough evenly into pan. Sprinkle with hazelnuts; press lightly into dough. Note: I chop the hazelnuts very fine and add them right into the flour mixture instead. Also, if you want to enhance the flavour of the hazelnuts, spread them on a cookie sheet and set in the oven no more than 10 minutes at 350F.

Bake at 350F for 16 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely; about 30 minutes (I often set it in the fridge before the next step so the filling doesn't melt when you put it on.)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1/2 cup lemon juice (I use about 2 lemons for both the peel and the juice)
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
yellow food colour, if desired

While the crust is cooling, in medium saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in water; blend until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly stir in hot filling mixture and food colouring (just a few drops) until well blended. Cool 30 minutes.

Spoon filling over cooled crust; spread evenly. Cover; refrigerate 1 hour, or until chilled.

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
   whole hazelnuts (filberts), halved, if desired
   fresh mint leaves , if desired

In medium bowl, beat whipping cream and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Spoon over cooled lemon filling; spread evenly. Cover; refrigerate at least 4 hours or until serving time. Garnish each serving with hazelnut halves and mint leaves. Note: I don't bother with the hazelnuts on top, or the mint leaves, and you can still taste the hazelnuts in the crust. 

15 servings

Thanks for stopping by!


Linking up with Judith's Mosaic Monday, thanks for hosting Judith.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five on Friday

Joining up with Amy of Love Made My Home and her Five on Friday!


This week was Spring Break here in Ontario, and I had a house full of kids while they were off school. It's been a very rainy week, and after the first day of full rain, I could see we had to get everyone outside between the rain drops or they would be tearing each other apart by the end of the week! I packed them up and we tumbled into the woods for a few good hikes :) Nothing like fresh air in the woods where there are lots of sticks, water and MUD! to keep kids entertained and happy. 


We visited two areas in two days. Lynde Marsh where we had lots of fun feeding the turkeys and seeing the beautiful Toms in their courtship display. More on the turkeys in this post.


The second place was Heber Downs where there are a few nice trails to meander around. Thankfully they are all toddler friendly (mostly). Of course you have to keep an eye on the kids at the top of steep hills sloping down from the trail, and the creek, which was running high.


Now yesterday, as you well know, was St. Patrick's Day. The woods we were in were swathed in a mist when we arrived yesterday, so we knew something magical was occurring. As we walked deeper into the forest, I wasn't too surprised to find that a little someone was peeking at us from behind the mossy green tree trunks! The kids, of course, were anxious to speak with him, but he would just giggle and then poof! he disappeared in a twinkling of green sparkles!

... turns out there was more than one in the forest ...


My own little leprechauns were most helpful with keeping this beautiful forest green. I took along a garbage bag and whenever they spied a paper coffee cup, beer can, plastic cups or bottles carelessly tossed onto the forest floor, they ran to collect it and we put them all in the garbage bag. In the end we counted TWENTY SEVEN cups/cans/bottles! Of course, my smart kids knew exactly where to throw these ... IN THE GARBAGE CAN PROVIDED. Well done guys! They were very proud of themselves and so was I!

Six for St. Patrick's Day ;)

And this is one of the crafts we worked on this week for St. Patrick's Day. I thought they were really cute. And just so you know ... once you put glitter on a craft it becomes magical!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Wendy ... and the leprechauns ;)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Talkin' Turkey

Linking up with Eileen and her Saturday Critters!

This morning just after 7:00 a.m. while my little charge was eating breakfast, we witnessed an unusual sight in my backyard. A wild turkey suddenly appeared over the fence!! I was just amazed to see this woodland bird as I live in the middle of town, and here was this enormous bird strutting through the yard. He flew up to the fence between my neighbour's and my yard, and then strutted through their yard, and the next yard. I sure hope he found a safe way back to some wooded area because I'm very close to a busy six-lane highway, and he certainly wouldn't have made it across there. I've never seen a turkey in my neighbourhood before. Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of him.

Anyway, I took it as a sign that I should visit the marsh today where there are lots of birds, including turkeys! With all kids in tow we headed out this morning. When we arrived and started tossing a few seeds out to the Canada geese and the mallard ducks, suddenly turkeys came stealthily through the woods. First just one or two, but before we knew it we were surrounded by 15 wild turkeys! 

And it's mating season, so the Toms were in full display and bright colours trying to lure in the girls. Of course, the girls only had their eyes set on our bird seeds and were giving the Toms the cold shoulder ... brrrr!  I was able to witness the Toms fighting last spring at this time.

Just look at these displaying birds! Fluffed and puffed to a brilliance that couldn't be ignored.

But ignored they were. The hens were just too focused on a food frenzy.

So the Toms had a little huddle and a little gobble, and then their feathers settled back down, and they strutted with their heads held high in practiced indifference back to the woods.

Spring is in the air!

Thanks for stopping by today!


gobble! gobble!

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