Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sweet Treats

Hi Friends! I hope you're all doing well! I'm barely hanging on these days...I had such a bad few weeks. First the stomach flu; then we did the dreaded monthly shopping in -25C weather...then somehow I got a pet hair in my eye and it was two days before I could flush it out. I still have some irritation...Onwards and upwards right?

Yesterday we celebrated Alex's birthday and I made him this Fruit Tart with Custard. It was a great hit! I used the nectarines I'd canned in September. The rest of the fruit was frozen...I can only imagine how good this tart will be when I make it with fresh fruits!

Since we decided on no gifts until we manage to buy our property, I wanted to make him something as a gift! I found a recipe online for Kahlua Pecan Fudge. I'm not a fan of anything white chocolate but he said they are delicious. VERY sweet though!

I made him a Strawberry Gin Fizz as an apéro before dinner. It's a nice refreshing cocktail made with muddled strawberries and gin. It was such a great foodie day! :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Holiday Party!

Hi All! :)

Michael's theme for the Scribble Picnic today is "Holiday Party". This is what I drew for the picnic this week!

Any Marx Brothers fans out there? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

I'm Excited About The Future!!!

Hello my friends!!!

Happy New Year to everyone! How did you ring in the new year? We had sugar OVERLOAD...chocolates, homemade Sugar Pie and Brandy Alexanders! We went outside at midnight with cocktails in hand. It was snowing...a very magical night! :) I tossed a silver coin out the door to leave the old year behind and attract prosperity for the new year. I'm a superstitious gal and I love folklore! :) 

2019 is here and I am so excited. I had some great enlightening thoughts recently on how I live my life, how I want to live my life and how I DON'T want to live my life! I discovered a lot about myself recently that I'd been hiding for some reason or another - all good stuff, so I'm very happy and my confidence is through the roof! I'm excited about 2019!! The pets are all happy and healthy, we are happy and healthy...and I am actually enjoying winter this year! Who-da-thunk-it.

I'm so happy 2018 is over, honestly. It was an up and down year for me. I experienced more stress-related illness than I have since I burned out in 2003. Most of you know that we babysat a friend's dogs for 9 months...which was supposed to be for a weekend. I personally had major issues with Pavlov and Stella's owner - constantly putting us on the back burner and waffling over and over about when he was coming to pick them up - IF EVER. It was tumultuous, yet it was wonderful. I LOVED those dogs and still miss them. They were so sweet, but it was a lot of work, a lot of stress; and due to that stress, I had issues eating and swallowing food up until a few months ago. That's how my body reacts to high basically says " eating for you Rain...T.S." It's hard to be a food lover and not be able to eat what you cook and bake. :(

My favourite thing in the world is to be out in the woods walking the dogs. But with five, I had to put that on hold. I know that affected me very badly.

Both Jack and Charlie got very sick in 2018. Charlie had a terrible allergic reaction that we still have not determined the cause for. We assumed it was some kind of insect bite. Her face blew up and it was a scary situation. Of course it happened late on a Sunday night when we were basically helpless. 

We still don't know what happened to Jack, I really thought he was going to die. :(  Again, we felt so helpless. It was a devastating time, you guys know that Jack is my little fella and the thought of losing him was hurting so much. I am grateful every day that he pulled through. We were told he would never run, climb stairs and jump again (not true).

Pavlov and Stella got injured. The vet bills were very difficult to manage. The car had so many repairs...we started to drown in debt.

I tried to escape the stress through art. I started drawing and using pastels and it was art therapy for me!

In May, we said goodbye to Pavlov and Stella. I was relieved, but at the same time very upset. I felt as though they were taken away from me after I'd bonded with them and taken such good care of them. I'm an emotional gal and the mixed feelings of relief, heartbreak and bitterness towards their reeked havoc on me. The depression got worse and I stopped blogging regularly all summer. I stopped drawing and painting. I could barely get any food down. I ate a lot of "blender" meals believe it or not. I just didn't feel well. I know I don't talk about this publicly, it was such a rough time. It was so bad I considered going back on meds and seeking therapy. I'm glad I didn't because...

...I dove into garden therapy. I needed it and it worked. :) I started to feel better. I could eat a little more regularly. I started feeling the desire to be creative again. And I started the daily dog walks again!! :) Our experiences at the veterinary clinic motivated us to find remedies and cures at home, and to try home cooked pet food. The dogs and cats are thriving now! :) Knock on wood there hasn't been a vet visit since last April. November, I made the final payment on my car...I saved a little more money...I paid back a little more debt...I checked my credit report and I'm in good standing...this means mortgage approval is very likely! The way things are going, my score should improve even more before the spring! :)

Unless we have arctic conditions out there, I walk Charlie almost every day in the woods. I'm convinced that before we adopted her, Charlie HAD to have been the leader of a sled team lol...she LOVES winter and the snow and loves to lead me through the woods!! Marlene and Jack don't like to get too cold so they are happy to stay home! I'm grateful for my time with Charlie each day. :)

What have I learned in the past year? Well, I learned that a part of me that for many years I thought was "negative" was actually a positive. I also learned that nothing will stop me from achieving anything I want to achieve. My friend Suzie from the blog Suzie The Foodie posted the above photo on Instagram the other day. This is a lesson everyone needs to learn - man or woman. I learned that I'm too nice, which is not a good thing. I tend to people please - put everyone else's needs above my own. I put a stop to that recently and I feel so much better.

I've learned that ME, Rain...she's my priority. :)

Another wonderful thing that touches my heart? My friends. All of you wonderful people I met through this blog. I get emotional when I think of all the love you guys have shown me. These are cards I received this Christmas from my precious friends! 💖 

Things are looking up and I know this will be the best year ever! I wish the same to all of you friends! Thanks so much for all of your support, love, care and words over the last year...whether you realize it or not, it's meant the world to me! 💚

Sunday, December 30, 2018

"Caged-In Kitchen" and Home Cooked Pet Food Update


Ever since I started the pets on a home cooked diet, my gosh the cats are driving me batty. They jump on the counters, try to open cupboards, knock down dishes, knock down food and even rummage through the garbage. I even found Oscar up on the hood of the oven while the oven was on. That was the last straw.

I tried EVERY suggestion given to me and ones I found online about trying to keep cats off counters. None of them worked. It's almost as though the cats tried even harder to trick me. I felt like a prison warden at one point, keeping guard so I could catch them in the act.

Who needs that stress? I put my foot down! I caged in the kitchen! "Caged-In Kitchen"- How often do you see THAT on a real estate listing??? :)

The tiny little kitchen in our rental has two doorways and one open area over the breakfast bar. I bought some very cheap 10x2 pine at the lumber yard and used leftover chicken wire to build the "cage". The entire project cost less than $30. This is the barricade over the breakfast bar. It just hangs off of hooks and I can remove it for suppertime.

These are the two "screen" doors. They fit perfectly and hang very well if I do say so myself! I did this yesterday, it took me about 7 hours but now I can sleep better knowing that my kitchen won't be destroyed when I wake up in the morning. If this were my home, I would have painted the doors and made them a little fancier I think. But this is a perfect temporary solution.

Home Cooked Pet Food Update

I started the three dogs and three cats on home cooked food in August. Through trial and error I believe I can finally say I've got it right. :)

The dogs now get only slow cooked pork and a mix of carrots and beans. Charlie and Jack were having bouts of vomiting now and then and I read a tip online that it could be due to the starch in the diet, i.e. the rice. Ever since I cut the rice out, no more vomiting, go figure.

Tip: If you want to feed your pets a home cooked diet, TALK TO YOUR BUTCHER!!! We go through about 100 pounds of meat each month. I talked to the butcher at our local grocery store and she gave me an AMAZING price on top sirloin pork - hardly any fat on it. I just call her a few days before I need my order, she preps it and I pick it up. Easy peasy and very economical!!

Marlene was losing a lot of hair. I thought she was shedding, because she normally does this time of year, but it lasted a long time, so I added some coconut oil to her food and her coat is back to normal.

The cats only eat pork with some taurine supplement and a multi-vitamin Kelp powder (the dogs get the Kelp too). Dana and Leo the cats are doing so well on the new food - no issues at all. Oscar can't eat the pork, we found out he was allergic to it, so he eats chicken breast. He still has some issues but we have really cut down his allergy meds. We found out that he is allergic to many things during the last few months: pork, eggs, coconut oil, rice...the list goes on.

Overall it was a bit of a learning curve to figure out portions, allergens and supplements. But all of the pets are doing so well on the home cooked food, I'm so pleased!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Holiday Food Fun and a Bang! For The Scribble Picnic!

Hello my friends!! :)

I hope you all had a very nice Christmas! We did. It was very quiet and cozy with lots of food! And there was a Christmas miracle...NO weekenders! NO loud snowmobiles! Feels like a dream... ;)

I can't wait to catch up on your blogs my friends...see how your holidays are going!! :) This is my paper maché snow couple. Notice the hats? It was like looking into a mirror lol! ;) These were fun to make! A very frugal and creative craft.

Last Friday was the Winter Solstice. I made a Tomato Soup Au Gratin with my yearly Yule Log Cake. Though this year, I kept it very simple - no meringue mushrooms or big decorations on the cake! Delicious!

To symbolize the return of the Sun on the Solstice, I made a bowl of pomanders. These are fun and easy to make and they smell AMAZING. Though at one point I had to wrap some Scotch tape around my index finger...those cloves are sharp!

Christmas Eve was appetizer night!! :) I took this panorama photo to show you how I set up our eating area...what we call the "Breakfast Bar". We don't have a dining room, I use that for my office, but this is a good set up for us. We watched Merry Christmas Mr. Bean while we feasted!

On the menu was some nice Italian sweet wine, Nivole. It's a little sparkling and EASY to drink! I made Goat Cheese Popovers - a first for me and they tasted great! Reminded me slightly of Yorkshire Pudding. I had some dips made so I baked up some Pita Chips and Tortilla Chips as well.

The dips from Halloween were such a hit that I decided to make them again! I made a Bacon Cheddar Dip and a Corn Salsa. At Halloween I made the salsa with Goat cheese, but omitted it this time and it was still just as good! Also on the menu were some really nice New Potatoes with Cheddar and Chives - from my own potato harvest! Yahoo! :) We opened one of the Camemberts too...a little runny and strong, but tasty! (See Rainy Day Cheese Making for more details).

I made a loaf of my No-Knead Bread and some cheesy crackers I found in a Martha Stewart Appetizer cookbook - they weren't very good so I won't share that recipe! I've been having bad luck with Martha's recipes in the last few years...I tend to stick with Williams Sonoma now.

Dessert was a plate of yummies! Candied Fruit Tarts, Rum Balls and Raspberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies. :) I took a few hours each day from the 22nd through to the 24th to make all of these things so I wouldn't have all that pressure making everything all on one day. I'm going to do that from now on! We have SO MANY leftovers!!!

For stocking stuffers, I made some Homemade Maple Fudge and for the first time, some Torrone (nougat) for Alex. I followed a video recipe I found online. It turned out well, but it was a little too sticky and gooey. The recipe was very easy to follow, but the author didn't include any type of temperature ranges for cooking the candy during the process. If I can find that information, I'll make it again! We decided on no gifts this year so that we can continue to save money...but I had to make something for the stockings!

Alex made me a really nice card from pine needles!! :)

For Christmas, I made a Chinese Fondue, also called a Hot Pot or Fondue Chinoise. :) It's actually a nice easy meal to make and very healthy after a big night of appetizers! It's a broth based fondue that you can serve with anything really. I chose some chicken, broccoli and cauliflower. I made a few Sauces and some Rice Pilaf to go with it.

Dessert was English Trifle for two. Now to digest.... :)

The Boxing Day Scribble Picnic theme is Bang! Bugs is a highfalutin cowboy whose pistol packs quite a bang! :) 

I'll bring all of the leftover Christmas goodies to the picnic this week, we can watch "Bugs Bunny Rides Again" while we pig out!!! Hope you have an appetite!!! :) (If the video doesn't work, the link to watch it is HERE.)

No "bang" in this watercolour, just a silent night.

The holidays seem to rush up and I look forward to them so much, then bang! They are over. I feel like Santa a little bit today. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cozy-ing Up The Home For The Holidays

Hello my friends! :)

Hope you're having a holly jolly month so far. :) Every December 10th, Alex and I plan a tree-trimming day. We go out to harvest our Christmas tree, decorate the house and listen to Christmas tunes. This will be our 5th Christmas together! :) 

Another fun tradition is sweets and "sweetened" egg nog! Brandy and rum...not too much, but just enough to pack a little punch! :) Alex uses the cut off end of the tree trunks to make me little "Charlie Brown" Christmas trees. I kept the one from last year and glued a little snowman on it. I'm going to keep them from now on and decorate them, just the little tree branch has to be replaced each year. 

All of the stockings were hung over the fireplace, though two stockings were missing this Christmas season.

Last Christmas we had Pavlov and Stella with us!

Even though it was a LOT of work during those nine months we took care of them, we really miss them a lot! They were such good dogs. :) They are doing very well, safe and happy back with their owner in Morocco.

We had to wait a few hours to decorate the tree because it was still frozen stiff, so Alex and I prepared dinner. He set up the living room so we could have dinner by the fire. Do you buy wine in boxes? I used to think that only crappy wine came in a box, but there are some good ones out there! This is one of them, Cliff 79, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia.

How cozy and romantic!! Dinner by the fire!

After dinner we got the tree decorated. It smells so nice to have a real tree in the house!

I'm a lucky gal! I've met the nicest people through Blogger I have to say! Pam from Life Through My Eyes at the Whimsical Way sent me a gorgeous Christmas card that she painted.  Isn't that such a beautiful winter scene? Thank you Pam! :) xx

And Joyce from Octoberfarm SPOILED me this Christmas with a box of so many fun goodies, including these little recipe books of Maritime cooking! She knows Alex and I are planning our move to the Maritime provinces and she wanted me to have some great Atlantic recipes! Very thoughtful! Thank you Joyce! :) xx

On milder days, the husky girls always want to be outside, I can't blame them, it's so magical out there when the snow is falling!