2016 ~ The Year of the Wheel!

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Happy New Year to everyone!  Yes, it has been awhile, but how many of you had the time to try and keep up a blog AND do all things Christmas-y?  Baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, visiting, etc?

That is my defence and I am sticking to it.

I can also add spinning, knitting and weaving into the above as many of you who follow me on Facebook can attest to as I  regularly post pics of FO’s or WIP’s (Finished Objects or Work in Progress) to brighten the days of those cruising on FB.

Now that the holidays are fading in the rear view mirror, it’s time to concentrate on a New Year.  I have a couple resolutions, but these ones I am sure to stick too.  I gave up on the ‘must lose 10 lbs!’ or ‘stop eating chocolate!’ resolutions a couple years back.  Moderation is the key, you can still have your chocolate, just make sure you walk that stuff off the day you eat it.

My resolutions this year are to refine and hone the skills of my latest obsessions um…hobbies.  Weaving and Spinning.  I am well on my way in the weaving world, but there is always room for improvement and while spinning is a fairly recent craft, I am generally happy with where my spinning skills are at, but again, there is always room for improvement.  I am spinning yarn to not only knit with, but to weave with on my looms.  There is something so satisfying from taking a lump of fluffy fleece and turning it into yarn, then weaving it into a finished product.  Whether it is a scarf, blanket or fabric for clothing, it’s like taking raw food ingredients and assembling them into a Five Star restaurant type meal.

To aid me in my quest to hone my spinning is the addition of another wheel.  Yes, I clearly hear you when you scoff – “another wheel?! she’s turning into the crazy cat lady of the fibre world!”  No, not really, as there are many others that have many more wheels than I do.

20160105_134117Each of these 3 wheels are vastly different in function and spinning style.  The one on the far right, the small, boxy shaped one is a Spin-Well.  Made in the 1930′s in Sifton, Manitoba, she is the youngest of the herd and is a workhorse of a wheel.  She was built mainly to make thicker yarns, but I love her for plying 2 or more yarns together as the bobbins on her are just huge.  This is the one that I *obtained* from my Aunt & Uncle a year and a half ago that started me on my spinning odyssey.

Next up, the one in the middle, is the wheel I picked this past summer.  She is a sturdy little wheel that will spin miles and miles of thinner yarn, and even though her bobbins are small, I can fill them to the max and then use the Spin-Well for plying.  I am not sure on her pedigree as there is no maker’s mark on her but she is similar in style to the Young family of wheels (there were 4 makers in the family) from Nova Scotia back in the 1800′s, which is where she came from and is estimated to be between 150 and 200 yrs old.  She is in exceptional condition for her age too.

My latest wheel is the largest of all, she certainly didn’t look that big when I picked her up yesterday.  Not until I brought her home and set her beside the other two – eek! her drive wheel is huge!   This means she can spin thinner yarn, faster than the others.  This wheel also has no maker’s mark but the owner said she was made in Quebec, which is info she received when she obtained the wheel last year.  I am currently on a hunt to narrow down her style/maker and while she is similar in stance to a CPW (Canadian Production Wheel), she lacks the tilt-tension which is the key to her not being one.  She is also very, very similar to a Louis Bisson, but again, lacks a very important detail, a swooping treadling piece along  with no maker’s mark.  She was incredibly filthy too, I spent a good hour cleaning her up with Murphy’s Oil Soap (excellent product for any wood furniture), she now functions as she should and looks much better for it.

20160106_081914And if I haven’t sounded crazy enough, I have names for all the wheels (and looms too).  As soon as I brought the new wheel home and sat her beside the other two, she just paled in colour against them…so I named her Blanch.  The Spin-Well (Grand Dame I call her) is much darker and Beth, is more reddish-orange in tone, so I have Grand Dame, Beth and Blanch.

I am looking forward to finding out as much as I can on these wheels, as well as to further my knowledge and skill in using them.  Cheers to 2016! ~ The Year of the Wheel will be a fun journey!

Deborah

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¡Hola!

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¡Bienvenidos a Mexico!

DSC01147 DSC01214¿Como está Ustedes?  ¿Bien?…¿Muy Bien?…¿Maravilloso?

Ok, enough of the Spanish, but I am still on Mexican time after having just returned a couple days ago from the land of sun, sand, clear skies and clear blue-turquoise waters.  Oh and HEAT…did I mention the HEAT?  If not, let me assure you, there was HEAT!  Much better than this minus crap we have been having in arctic cold Canada.

Holidays are a great time to clear the head, enjoy the company of your loved ones, experience awesome food, great scenery and to laze around and do nothing but expand your waistline (paying for it now though).  Hubby and I spent a week at the El Dorado Royale Resort in the Mayan Riviera with my daughter and her husband, whom were experiencing Mexico for the very first time.  Sorry kiddos if you caught the Mexican travel bug, but you probably knew you would after listening to your mother prattle on about the place all these years.

We had the best time there and one of the things that the El Dorado (our second visit) is known for is that the food being served in all their restuarant’s is absolutely fantastic.  We did not have one lousy meal, even our vegetarian daughter had plenty of choices.  Every meal was drop dead delicious and left us drooling for more.  The buffet breakfast featured the traditional North American fare of eggs, bacon, pancakes, roasted potatoes, sausage, muffins and breads to platefuls of fresh fruit and cheese, but also featured a well stocked omelet station manned by Alejandro who can deftly make an omelet in under 1 minute.

The newly added Mexican breakfast items of tamales, chicken tacquitos, cheese quesadillas, churros (these were OMG material) and a huge pot of Mexican hot chocolate served in traditional clay pots were a nice touch and I for one ate cheese quesadillas and tamales every morning.  Lunch (if you were indeed hungry after devouring half the buffet) featured a pizza joint down by the beach bar as well as an outdoor buffet for those not wanting to sit inside a restaurant for lunch.  Dinners were a sit down affair with extremely friendly and attentive “meseros/as” or “camareros/as” that spoke English for those not speaking Spanish and made you feel like royalty.   Dinners were Top Chef caliber and if  you ever get to the El Dorado, you must try the Dinner Theatre at the Fuentes restaurant.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed.  I will not go into detail here as it would spoil it for those wanting to try it as it is a fabulous experience.

DSC01114So this brings me to today’s post.  Now that I have returned from Mexico, my tastebuds are still stuck there.  So for the next couple weeks, I will be featuring some really yummy Mexican recipes either for breakfast, lunch or dinner that will transport you back to the clear blue waters and warm sunshine of the Mexican Riviera.

¡Hasta luego!

Deborah

 

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Ukrainian Varenyky (Perogie)

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As we approach Christmas at a speed that can only be compared to a Japanese super rail train hurtling through the countryside with an avalanche of hot lava on its heels,  one of the very few things I actually look forward to at Christmas is making Varenyky.   More commonly known as Perogies if you are from Poland or Pelmeni if you are from Russia.  They are a common eastern European dumpling filled with a wide variety of ingredients indigenous to their countries of origin with either cheese, meat, fruit and sauerkraut being the norm.

There are variations in using the dough, like stuffing them with a diced, fried mushrooms and onions known as vushka’s in Ukraine and floated in Borscht, another super yummy family tradition typically served at Christmas as well as Easter.

But today we are focusing on the soft, pillowy half moon shaped dumplings that are filled with a heavenly potato/cheese mixture.  Actually, I make 2 different kinds.  The very traditional potato/cottage cheese and the “North Americanized” potato/cheddar cheese variety found on many a pub menu.  The fillings are made ahead and cooled in the fridge before use, otherwise you would have hot doughy mess that wouldn’t be any fun to work with.

Potato/cottage cheese filling; take one 500 ml container of cottage cheese and scoop the cheese into a double layer of cheese cloth.  Bring the four corners of the cheesecloth together to form a pouch and tie with a length of string.  Suspend the cloth bag over a bowl on the counter (I tie mine to a kitchen cupboard door handle) and let it drain for at least 4-5 hours.

Once the cheese has drained, peel and dice 4 large white potatoes into 1″ cubes, rinse in a colander then place in a large pot and fill with cold water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until tender (about 25-30 minutes).  Drain and add a generous couple tablespoons of butter to the potatoes and mash until smooth.  Add the drained cottage cheese and mix well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Allow the mixture to cool overnight in the fridge in an airtight bowl.

Cheddar Cheese/potato filling;   Shred 4 cups of sharp cheddar cheese.  Once the potatoes are done, add the cheddar cheese and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Place in a airtight bowl let sit in the fridge overnight.

The basic dough recipe is easy and very similar to an egg pasta dough.  Although, if you ask 100 Ukrainian women, you will undoubtedly find 100 different dough recipes.  Everyone has their own personal favourite.  This is my Baba’s (Ukrainian for Grandmother) recipe.

3 cups all purpose flour, sifted twice (plus more for kneading)
1 Tbsp Oil
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup warm water.

Whisk eggs, oil, water and salt.  Sift in flour one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Depending on the size of your eggs, you may need more or less flour. Turn out onto a well floured board and knead until smooth, adding more sifted flour by small handfuls if necessary.  Divide in half and wrap one half immediately in plastic wrap so it doesn’t start to toughen.  Once you have used up the first half, then process the second half of the dough.

Working quickly, roll out dough to about an 1/8th of an inch thickness.  Using a perogie cutter or large cookie cutter (at least 4″ in diameter), cut out circles of dough.   Re-roll scraps to cut out as many circles as you can before the dough toughens too much.  I like to take my rolling pin to the cut out circles to make them larger and thinner as the dough is quite elastic and tends to bounce back smaller than what you have initially cut out.

Place a heaping teaspoon of filling into the middle of each circle of dough, fold in half and pinch edges tightly to secure.  Place on a towel lined cookie sheet.  Once you have a cookie sheet filled up, place another clean towel over top and place the tray in the freezer.  When frozen, remove and place in a Ziploc bag, marking the bag with the type of filled perogies.DSC02590

When you ready to cook your little pillows of yumminess, place them directly from the freezer into a pot of boiling water, boil gently, stirring carefully until they float to the surface, which can take anywhere from 4-8 mintues.  Traditionally, they are served with melted butter and sour cream straight from the pot of boiling water, or take them from the pot and fry them with onions (pub style) with extra cheese.  Serve with lots of sour cream and chopped green onions.  Bacon bits are also a good addition.  Anyway you slice it, these are so much better than the store-bought variety.DSC02602

One batch of dough makes about 30 perogies, depending on the size of your cut out circles.

A word of warning, these are very time consuming to make, not to mention it makes a mess of your kitchen, but I encourage you to give them a try if you really want to boast to your family that you made, by yourself…PEROGIES!

Deborah

 

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Tropical Breezes

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Polar Vortex is so far removed from Tropical Breezes that it seems incongruous to use the two in the same sentence.  But when you arrive back from vacation and are promptly greeted by a cold snap cold enough for Jack Frost to lose an appendage, you really begin to appreciate (even if you mildly did while away) just exactly where you were a few short hours ago.

This was going to be our 6th trip down to Mexico in about the last 10 yrs and is one of those places where you begin to feel like it is a second home, with the bartenders hollering the equivalent of ‘NORM!’ when they see you belly up to the beach bar.  This year we were trying a new place though, the El Dorado Royale, recommended by our travel agent (and hubby’s cousin) saying that if we liked the Valentin Imperial Maya, then we’d love the El Dorado.  So that is where we were headed.

The last few nights before we left we (ok, mainly me) were too excited to sleep.  Clothing, books, lotions, bathing suits and sandals were strewn across the spare bedroom.  Hauling the suitcases out of storage, I was grinning from ear to ear…non-stop, like a kid going to Disney.  Even my apprehension to flying was quashed by my eagerness to feel the heat of the sun on my face and the sand beneath my freshly painted toes.

We arrived late Saturday night, finally getting to the hotel at just past 10:30 p.m.  and after checking in and being delivered to our room, we tossed our luggage in the corner, put our comfy sandals on and headed out to explore the resort and look for a much needed cerveza…or two or three.  The resort looked stunning at night…around the base of each palm tree that lined the pathways were coloured LED flood lights casting their glow upwards to illuminate the fronds of the palms.

We followed the sound of music and came to the Guacamayas Bar, the main hub-bub for evening activities and shows.  Since we were getting close to midnight, there were plenty of people ‘well on their way’ in their quest to having a good time.  This bar had large wooden swings hanging from thick ropes that were wide enough for two people to share and swing back and forth on in front of the bar.  Interesting I thought…swings..in a bar….full of tipsy people…maybe not such a good idea???  Swings at BarA young woman, 20 something or so, left the dance floor and made her way over to one of the swings and plopped down….wearing an inflatable inner tube.  Your guess is as good as mine as to why she was wearing that at midnight…in a bar… but to each their own.

We grabbed a couple beers to go and wandered off down to the beach.  The stars were faded from the brightness of the moon, but the sea and sky were picture perfect.  Just like what this vacation was going to be.  I turned to hubby and planted a smooch on him.  “Thanks sweetie…thanks for taking me away from the bitter cold back home.”  We continued on, but it was hard to see the beauty of the resort in the dark.  Tomorrow we would have plenty of opportunity to explore everywhere, but for now it was time for bed as it was approaching  2 a.m. and we are a pair of old fuddy-duddies.  It was hard to believe we were up at that hour to begin with.  We went back to the room and collapsed onto the huge king-sized bed and promptly fell asleep.

Morning came and my stomach screamed… ‘BUFFET!!!’  If its one thing I love about resort vacations, is that the breakfast buffet’s are my favourite places to be once I haul my butt from bed.  I am a morning person as well as a have-to-have breakfast or I am going to keel over by 10 a.m. person.  The breakfast restaurant ‘Cocotal’ didn’t have the vastness of items like the one at the Valentin, but the quality was good.  Fueled up and ready for the day, we grabbed our ‘bun o’clock’ items (a banana and 4 small whole wheat rolls in a ziploc) before we left the restaurant and headed back to the room to change into our suits and explore a bit before heading to the beach.

The resort was just gorgeous.  At the back of the main lobby was a huge walkout patio with stairs winding down from either side, in the middle was a stunning waterfall…

IMG_1368

DSC01062Gorgeous….absolutely gorgeous, as you look out towards the resort from the top of the stairs, this is what you saw…

IMG_1405Just breathtaking….it makes you think you are in a dreamland.

We wandered around checking out the locations of the restaurants for dinner as there were 7 to choose from.  D’Italia (Italian cuisine obviously), Cocotal (world cuisine as well as the location of the buffet breakfast), La Isla (Mediterranean), Fuentes (the culinary cooking theatre), Kampai (Pacific Rim cuisine), Jo Jo’s (Caribbean), Rincón Mexicano (Mexican) and the Sante Fe Grill (American).  Yum Yum Yum.  Our most pressing thought of the day was which one were we going to choose for our first night?  Italian we thought, since we loved the Italian at the Valentin, we would give this one a shot first.  More on dinner later….

We continued on exploring, always ready with camera in hand looking the typical tourist snapping pictures of anything that caught our eye…like this fella…

DSC01071We named him Iggy and his home was a dugout hole under one side of the walkway heading to the Cocotal restaurant where every morning from the first day on, we would see him peeking his head out, waiting for the sun to reach over to where his home was so he could venture out and soak up the suns rays to give him the body heat he needed.  he startled quite a few folks if they were not paying attention as they walked past him.

A huge variety of birds were everywhere too…this Hooded Oriole was playing peekaboo amongst the palm leaves…

Hooded OrioleWe carried on, meandering past the many pools and swim up bars (an amazing 11 of them, most being attached to the pricier ‘Casitas’ section of the resort) marveling at the lush,  manicured gardens.

DSC01121Casitas Swim Up Bar/Pool DSC01113When we finished our tour, we went back to the room to get the rest of our beach stuff ready and headed off to find a palapa to call home for the week…

DSC01077with an amazing view…

DSC01079The rest of the day was lounging, reading, doing crossword and sudoko puzzles, eating our squirreled away munchies for ‘bun o’clock’ (we aren’t big lunch eaters, preferring to eat breakfast then enjoying a light snack before noshing on dinner), watching the gulls and pelicans dive for fish and of course…people watching.  Always a good sport while on vacation.

Around 4 o’clock, with the sun disappearing taking the heat of the day with it, we headed back to the room where I started my daily ritual for the week.

DSC01208Sitting immersed in an over-sized whirlpool tub full of bubbles with a happy hour cerveza.  The tub took a while to fill and this is the pre-bubble shot, I never took another as I was in it, but the bubbles were up to the top as I laid back relaxing the stresses of the day away…yes, stresses, it took a lot to figure out where we were going to eat every day.

Dinners in all the restaurants we went to were outstanding.  Seriously, it felt like we were judges on Iron Chef.  The originality, plating, flavours, were exceptional, day in and day out.  This resort prides itself on pampering, from the rooms to the amenities, spa facilities, to the dining.  Nothing was disappointing to us, if anything, we felt at times like we didn’t deserve to be pampered this much!

After our dinners, we would head out for a stroll and gaze at the stars, which actually were hard to see as the moon was in its’ full phase for the week and it lit up the night sky like a huge Chinese paper lantern.  We managed to see a few cruise ships on our nightly strolls, lit up like Christmas trees as they glided by offshore headed either to or from Cozumel.

On our second morning there, I finally was energized enough to head out for a walk before breakfast, heading down to the beach to catch sight of the sun rising over the Caribbean…

DSC01150and faintly catching a glimpse of another cruise ship headed to Cozumel…

DSC01148The brown bumps you see in the water are a man made reef system.  They are environmental sandbags filled with sand and placed strategically up and down the shoreline of the resort to minimize the damage to the beach from the waves.  They are huge, each one being about 25-30 feet long.  The gulls, pelicans and terns use them as resting spots in between dive bombing fish runs…

DSC01224We would spend the afternoons watching the pelicans, always amusing, plunge headlong into the water from a height of 50 feet or so, sometimes coming up with a fish, sometimes not.  The above birds are the Brown Pelicans (two adult, one juvenile at the left), a Caspian tern in the middle and Laughing Gulls on the far left.  The sandbags start to grow seaweed and algae and basically are turning into a reef, one of the many environmental initiatives that the resort prides itself on.

They heat the water by solar energy, recycle water for different purposes and grow their own vegetables in huge greenhouses, which we took a tour of one day….talk about massive tomato and cucumber plants…take a look…

DSC01171These plants were all well over 10 feet tall.  Roma, Cherry and Globe tomatoes along with English and American cukes.  They grow peppers and herbs and other stuff in another greenhouse on the other side of the resort but the tour only allowed us into this one.  We had to ‘decontaminate our feet’ before entering via an airlock to keep germs out.  The plants are pollinated inside by bees too.

DSC01183Out of all the produce they grow, what they can’t use, they sell to other resorts as well as at a reduced cost to employees.  Nothing goes to waste and all the cuttings from pruned plants in the greenhouse and the resort grounds goes to their composting program.  We were very, very impressed by how they run the resort in trying to lessen their footprint on the environment.  Very cool.

Whenever we head to Mexico, we make a point of heading to Playa Del Carmen for a few hours.  We shop along Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), which is a long stretch of cobbled road lined with many shops and restaurants.  No vehicle traffic is allowed on Quinta, but it does get very busy with people, especially when the passengers from cruise ships are in Cozumel and are ferried over from the island.  The most challenging part of walking along Quinta is avoiding the time share hawkers – they are very, very persistent, to the point of major annoyance at times.

DSC04930After rummaging through various shops along the way, we always head to Señor Frogs Restaurant at the Ferry Wharf for lunch.  A lively place that has been around for some time and has franchises branching out into other countries, there is no shortage of funny, goofy things to look at in their décor…not to mention how they plate their food.  Hubby ordered a monstrous burger and fries and this is how it came…

IMG_00000253He was a little timid in wanting to pick up the burger, lest the wire sprung and the bar slammed down on his hand …too funny.  I had a ginormous plate of chicken enchiladas, which were fantastic, both being washed down by the ever available cerveza.

IMG_00000254While we devoured our lunch, we gazed out at the Caribbean and watched the ferries that were traveling back and forth between Playa and Cozumel.  The beach in Playa is stunning, wide and long with sand as white as snow…thanks goodness it wasn’t snow…

DSC01204We had arranged for our taxi driver to pick us up at a predetermined place and time, so after we finished lunch, we mosied back along Quinta Avenida to our meeting place.

Arriving back at the resort, we change into our bathing suits and headed back down to the beach for the remainder of the afternoon.  Isabel, our beach mesera (waitress) was wondering where we had gone, but when she saw us, her face lit up and she was off to grab our orders.  You know you are a regular when….the rest of the day was spent like all the other afternoons that week….beach side, staring out into the blue sea and soaking up the warmth of the sun.

DSC01214Our last morning, after breakfast, we went back to the room to sit on the patio (or lanai, or whatever you want to call it) with our tea, coffee and the paper before grudgingly packing to leave.  We had a stellar week and were sad to see it come to a close so soon so I grabbed the camera, set it to video and set it on the little patio table and recorded a snippet of peace and tranquility to remember it by.  I figured I’d share it here too.  There is no music, just the soothing sounds of the water fountains and a mockingbird.  It is about 3 minutes long, so sit back, close your eyes and enjoy.

I would definitely recommend this resort to anyone that is contemplating a trip to the Mayan Riviera, if not here, then definitely the Valentin Imperial as well.  Both resorts are top notch in our books, and I can’t wait to get back there next year.

Hasta Luego

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Simply Beautiful

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My week long fun in the sun in the Riviera Mayan region of Mexico was just what the Doctor ordered.

I am refreshed, rested and probably more than a little brain drained.

BUT….It is time to get back into work mode with a New Year that just now  ‘officially’ starts for me.

I will have a run-down vacation post in the coming days but for now, I need to concentrate on my actual job and start things rolling.  Meanwhile….a few pictures for you to warm you to your toes on this cold, cold forecast of a week we are heading into.  See you in a few days….or…as they say in Mexico…..Hasta luego!

DSC01200 DSC01154 DSC01151 DSC01121

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Vamos a Mexico

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It’s that time of year.  Time to be the typical Canadian that flees the frigid arctic air mass that has settled over Southern Ontario (and much of North America actually) and head south for some sun, sand, surf…and cervezas!

This has to be the perfect timing for getting away, this past week has been frightfully cold and I am thankful we have a wood stove for alternate heat.  As well as warming up the basement, it helps to shut the furnace up for a while.

We are headed to sunny Mexico for a week, therefore there will be no posts until after I return, meanwhile, I have put together a snapshot video for you so you can at least be there with me vicariously.  Please turn your speakers on, you will love the accompanying music!

Adios y Salud!

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New Year’s Resolutions…

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Are not for everyone.  Those that have actual willpower are the only ones that make them come true.  The rest of us are doomed to failure year in and year out.

Sure…you wake up New Year’s Day, head pounding from all the evil swill you drank the night before and you swear, totally swear, on a stack of bibles taller than Rob Ford, that you will N-E-V-E-R drink again…

Until later that night…

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions long ago.  I am now at the age where I have realized I need to stop beating myself up trying to lose that ‘last 10 lbs’, or giving up chocolate (hahahaha!) or giving up the evil swill.

Sometimes you need bad habits, they make your good habits look even better.

Moderation is the key.  Yes, you can have a few chocolates or cookies here and there, just don’t eat the whole box in one day.  Same goes with rich, fatty foods, the aforementioned evil swill, and while were at it, maybe, just maybe, go and get a tich more exercise.

I am not saying to run out and waste money on a gym membership (unless you really want to), just get out and get more active.  Whether that is walking 20 to 30 minutes a day or dancing to your favourite jive record in your 80′s leotard…yes, I am that old when I say the words ‘jive’ and ‘record’ in the same sentence.  A small investment in time to work your heart, lungs and muscles will make it that much more enjoyable when you reach for that chocolate coated caramel.

So did you make any resolutions? I only made one Resolution….and that is not to MAKE any Resolutions.

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What Did You Do Over The Holidays?

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Did you go skiing?  Mountain climbing? How about a Cruise? Or were you stuck at home with irritable family members?

If you are older than 14, then you know the Holidays are nothing short of a royal pain in the a$$.  I for one, am thrilled that they are now over.  The 2-3 weeks leading up to Christmas Day are the worst.  The mad shoppers, the crazed mall parking lot drivers, the people grasping for the last 25lb turkey in the market…out of your own buggy even.  The lack of sleep, the constant apron tied to your waist as you stand knee deep in flour and colourful cookie sprinkles.

Next year I am seriously considering heading down south to lay on a beach with a mojito… or two or three and foregoing hosting Christmas Eve for my family as well as brunch Christmas morning with our kids. I am not likely to get away with it though.

Since we purchased our humble ‘casita por el lago’ a couple years ago, we now vamoose after brunch and head up Highway 11 to the peace and quiet of the near north.

This year we added a new tradition on Christmas Day…everyone, kids, son-in-law, hubby and myself, after clearing away the brunch dishes and tidying up the dining room, headed in to the living room and promptly started dismantling the tree.  Son-in-law surely thought we were nuts.  But there was a method to our madness.  We were going to be up at the Homestead for 10 days and I didn’t want to come back on January 6th to a bare tree and a pile of brown needles on the floor.

So out the front door went the tree and the ornaments and clutter knickknacks packed up and put back into storage.  By 1:00 p.m., the house was back to its pre-Christmas state.  We then loaded up the cars, kicked the kids out and we were on our way.

By 5:30 p.m., we were sipping cold cervezas and snacking on leftovers of cheese, crackers and kielbasa for Christmas Dinner.  It was heaven.

The next week went as follows:

10:30 p.m. ~ Go to bed (collapse is a better word)

8:00 a.m. ~ Get out of bed

We did this for 8 days, with not much done in-between.  I couldn’t believe how much we slept while we were there.

On New Year’s Eve day, we ventured into town for a few groceries and to stock up on beer for our wild party we had planned that night (ha!).  While in town, we stopped in at Canadian Tire and picked up some new toys….

DSC01053Snowshoes!

If you are serious about living in the northland where there can be at least a foot and a half of snow on the ground from December to April, you may as well get some stuff to make the winter more enjoyable.  I have always hated winter…yes hated it.  But somehow, being away from the city streets of Southern Ontario makes me actually like it now.  Last year I bought a really good pair of boots,  which are the key to being able to enjoy the winter.  If your feet are warm, then you are warm.  This year I also bought snow pants.

I haven’t worn snow pants since I was 10 yrs old.  The familiar swoosh-swoosh-swoosh sound as you walk brings back fond childhood memories and I was then looking around for my hockey stick to whack my unruly brother with (sibling rivalry at its best).

So the next day, (New Year’s Day) we bundled up (it was -22C), then unbundled and went for a pee, re-bundled and headed outside to strap on our new toys and walk out onto the frozen, snow covered lake.

DSC01054Snowshoeing is one of the things the average everyday person can excel at in about 3 seconds flat.  You do not need to spend moolah on lessons or know anything about them.  Just step into the bindings, snug them down, then lift, march, lift, march and away you go.  After walking about 100 feet, we were toasty warm as you expend quite a bit of energy in the process of using them.  For those looking for a new workout routine?  Try snowshoeing, it is low-impact and boosts your heart rate in a hurry.

Cottage_Frozen LakeAfter about 20 minutes, I could definitely feel the burn in my hips and thighs…this new ‘Thigh Master’ could just be the next best thing Suzanne Somers could tout.

As we headed back to the Homestead, I thought why didn’t we buy these sooner? I love them!  We were only going to be up for another few days so I best get as much use out of them as I could before we headed back south.  These are the best ‘presents’ we ever bought ourselves.  Ok, maybe the paddle boat we bought last summer was nicer, you don’t need to bundle up in snow pants and 20 layers to use that.

Snowshoeing is a lot safer than tobogganing too (I broke my ankle when I was younger doing that so have sworn off anything that you can lose control of on a snowy slope), and skating hurts my feet, but I am now looking forward to next winter at the Homestead and using my new found winter sporting equipment…I wonder if there is an Olympic Snow Shoeing event???

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Happy New Year!

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Well thank goodness 2013 is over. It has not been a stellar year for our family (too many illnesses) and Mother Nature flexed her muscles giving us a gigantic headache with the dock and water issues, so we are anxiously looking forward to 2014 hoping it will be a boring year….don’t think we can take anymore ‘events’ like the ones seen in 2013.

All the best to everyone for a Safe, Happy & Prosperous New Year!

Happy New Year

 

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12 Days Of A Northern Homestead Christmas

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This will be the last post of 2013.

With Christmas just a handful of days away, I have to get into uninterrupted overdrive to get everything accomplished.

Meanwhile, I have made a video for you all to enjoy in my virtual absence
(make sure you turn your speakers on).

Merry Christmas to Everyone!  Enjoy the Holidays with your Family and I will see you on or around January 2, 2014!

Oh… Happy New Year too!

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