Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Dinner aftermath

I got so behind on Christmas Day, that I didn't get the table set with all the sparkling Wedgwood dishes, Silver and Crystal until it was all coming together in the kitchen and I didn't have time to take pictures. Can you imagine? So, here are post dinner photos. The aftermath. It was beautiful and fun. I am definitely doing it just like this next year. Oh....and for the record, even the fussy eater at the table loved the Figgy Pudding!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Now bring us some piggy pudding, Now bring us some piggy pudding..."

I must share the cutest Christmas story with you. This exchange happened about 25 years ago. My husband Allan can be the funniest person....
Allan hums and sings a lot. Every day. He has an affinity for Christmas Carols....year round. About 20 years ago he was in the kitchen singing the song We Wish you a Merry Christmas....."now bring us some piggy pudding, now bring us some piggy pudding" I stopped him and I could barely get out "did you say {snort ha ha snort gasp} Piggy Pudding?". He said "yes". I said, now I am getting that crazed kind of laughing where you can hardly speak..."it's actually Figgy Pudding" He just kind of looked at me for a minute and said "well, that's ridiculous, that doesn't even make sense". Honestly I was laughing so hard I was hysterical. Trying to recount the story for my co-workers the next day, I had to leave the room, I couldn't get the story out. Ahhhh, good times, good times.

So here is the actual song if you are so inclined. There are several versions of it.
This is the one I grew up with.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Good tidings we bring
To you and your kin
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
And a cup of good cheer
We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
So bring it right here
So bring us some figgy pudding
So bring us some figgy pudding
So bring us some figgy pudding
And bring it right here
Good tidings we bring
To you and your kin
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Repeat chorus three times

Monday, December 19, 2016

Gifts wrapped and silver polished

I cheated with the silver this year and used my mothers silver cleaning plate. I really enjoy cleaning silver, and like to leave tarnish in the grooves...a nice old patina. However, I am running out of time, so the plate it is. I must say, it sure looks clean!!

The flash created this gold shine. I love it. Let's all pretend that my old battered silver is actually gold!!

No flash...and the silver as it actually looks.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Another shelf done, most of the Wedgwood is clean and shiny

This teapot, cream and sugar was a gift from Allan for Mother's Day...
one week after I had Noel.

All washed and polished to a shine

Two shelves of dishes done!!! One to go.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Wedgwood dishes are washed and put away!!

I took two hours tonight and washed my 73 year old Wedgwood Embossed Queensware dishes. I really took my time, even using my little Lee Valley nail brush to wash out all the blue grape and vine design around each dish.

Washing the dishes

Drying and stacking

Back in Great Grandma's china cabinet

The other side

Two shelves left to go

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Crystal washed and sparkling for Christmas Dinner

Crystal washed and draining. I love washing and cleaning things. There is something therapeutic about it. I especially love it when I'm alone. I put on classical music...or old rock, depending on my mood. And I get completely in the zone. Again...very therapeutic.

All polished and shiny and ready to be put back in my great grandmothers China cabinet.

Everything but my Cordial Decanter is put away now. Tomorrow I am going to wash my old Wedgwood Dishes. They are lovely. The crystal is 38 years old (purchased for our wedding) and the Wedgwood dishes are 73 years old. I love things with history, and a story.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Christmas Tree decorating AND a snow day so rare on our island.

I took the day off to decorate the tree. It is done. I think it turned out really well.
I haven't decorated the house yet. I'll do that on the weekend.
But it is fun to have much of it all over the place waiting for me.
The cats love the tissue used to wrap the ornaments. At one point the calico, Cassie, was covered with about three feet of poofy tissue. I put my hand in the pile and it was so warm around her. She is old now and loves to be where it's warm.
I popped out to the greenhouse to make sure everything was okay. The cold wind showed us where there was a leak in the join between the two sections. So that is plugged up now. I bought a space heater yesterday as a backup source of heat for the citrus end of the greenhouse. The original greenhouse heater is pretty old now and we don't trust it 100%.
The back yard is just so pretty in the snow. Allan was outside before I even woke up and he saw deer foot prints in the snow. We have never seen a deer here in the 37 years we've lived here. I know they are destructive in gardens, but they sure are beautiful.


Saturday, December 03, 2016

Well, I'll be darned...look what we bought!!

Another 8x12' greenhouse!!!! Allan, the 'usedvictoria' guru, found one for $400.00 with an exhaust fan and thermostat...everything but a heater. This BC Greenhouse new with the extras, would be about $6000.00. It'll need a bit of cleaning up, and three or four new glass panes, but that is all. Oh and a lot of sweat equity. Here it is during the dismantling.

Before, it was lined with white channeled plastic for insulation we assume. Maybe as a sun barrier?
You know that I think there is nothing sadder than a greenhouse not living up to its potential. Left empty, sad, or god forbid, used as storage....when all they need is to be emptied out, a good cleaning and filled with potted plants, citrus trees, lettuce and spinach to last all winter. Can't you just feel it breathing a sigh of relief when it was revealed in the last photo. It is now completely apart, stacked away for the winter and will go up in the spring.

For next year anyway, I think I will fill it with tomatoes and peppers. I LOVE tomatoes.

Welcome to Middlebrook Farm little glass house!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

The story of my Christmas Tree and how I make it happen!!

I have been collecting Christmas ornaments for 42 years. I was inspired by a tree I saw with all different types of ornaments and finished with plastic icicles. I loved it. This was in a time when everyone's trees were decorated by colour. For example, you would have blue lights, with blue and silver shiny balls and finally some tinsel. So this unique tree fascinated me. I immediately started looking for different ornaments. I was about 18.

There weren't any Christmas stores near me, so I found some wonderful Hallmark ornaments. We have the first rocking horse in their long running series.

Once there were Christmas stores, it all became much easier. I began collecting in earnest, and then discovered Glass Icicles. I think I have about 300 of them. I buy at least one ornament per year. I have gotten choosier as the years passed and the tree became fuller. All the ornaments are wrapped in tissue and stored in Rubbermaids, so it takes me two days to decorate the tree.

The recipe for this wonderful tree:

1. Start by putting on all of the hanging ornaments. I begin with the German Glass, new and Antique. They are exquisite and I place them in special places. In the first phase I place the really special decorations as well. Like the little pecan mouse sleeping in a walnut that my son Noel made in Grade 2. I love it with all my heart and place it front and centre every year.

2. I then place the old hallmark ornaments.

3. Next, the Snowbaby, Wedgwood, and other quality heavy ornaments.

4. Then come the heavier ornaments. The mercury glass and the sturdier ornaments. {They are packed in the Rubbermaids by these categories}

5. Then I put on the filler ornaments. They are the small ornaments that can fill those tiny spaces where nothing else will fit.

6. Next is the little ice ball garland. I had several and cut them into two foot lengths and place them on the branches. They look like ice on the branches.

7. I have some branches of red berrys that I cut into smaller pieces as well. They were large and many branches per stem and I cut them into three branch pieces. They get placed here and there in the tree.

8. The last step is the most satisfying. Glass icicles. The more you have, the better. This is the part that makes the tree come alive. My tree has 800 lights on it, so this makes the tree sparkle. Literally. I would buy new icicles every year on sale after Christmas. I have about 300. Many have broken over the years, as kids and cats knocked them off, so maybe it is about time I grabbed another 20 or so to make up the missing.

I hope this helps you start your own traditional family tree. It will be wonderful for your own family to stand around the tree and reminisce over the stories that surround the ornaments. That, my friends, is the absolute best part. Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 14, 2016

It's Butternut Squash Soup day!!!

It is our annual ritual making enough Butternut Squash Soup to last the whole winter. This year is especially special!!! These are our home grown Butternuts, the apples came from our tree and the herbs were from my garden. Next year I am going to make my own vegetable stock. My mother has a wonderful method. She keeps a bag in her freezer and all year tosses in clean peelings and scraps. So rather than using fresh vegetables to make stock, she uses what would normally not get used. There are a few things that you don't use, like beets for obvious reasons. I will post the method at some point.
When I went to pick some rosemary, look what I saw. Lots of lovely purple blossoms and it was buzzing with honeybees. HONEYBEES!!! I had to run for the camera to show you. Anything you can get flowering into the late fall and winter, helps our little foragers.
Here is the soup pot full of beautiful, yummy and healthy ingredients. There is something deeply satisfying about making soup. We love to have it for supper on winter nights. Allan likes his with Toast that he dunks in it. I prefer...just the soup.

Butternut Squash Soup ~ I doubled it this year

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
3 lb butternut squash {peeled and diced}
1 sweet potato {peeled and diced}
2 Apples {peeled, cored and diced}
6 cups vegetable stock
1Tbsp rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbsp thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
A pinch of cayenne {optional}

Heat oil in a large pot. Sauté onions and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add squash, sweet potato and apples. Stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Purée soup. I use a stick blender, but you must be very careful if soup is hot. I still manage to splash molten soup on myself every time. I'm going to let it cool first this time.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The burgundy orchids that are in the store every year....

The burgundy Cymbidium Orchid that blooms every year in December is budding!! Doesn't it look wonderful. We are going to have four huge spikes of large flowers. I put them into arrangements I make for the store for Christmas every year. Everything comes from my yard. The cedar, the green Holly, the variegated Holly and of course the orchids.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Raspberrys have been pruned and fertilized

I learned to prune left handed today. {I still have tennis elbow} So I pruned both of the raspberry patches canes about waist high with one hand. Then Allan used the loppers to take out the deadwood and brought in the last of the manure from last fall. He spread some around the potato patch as well. We will level it and even it out tomorrow.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Huge beautiful Rose Hips

I was gifted these gorgeous Rose Hips today. Aren't they amazing. Some of them are about 1" across!! They were attached to some Rose cuttings I had asked for. The Hips are the reason I wanted the rose cuttings actually. I don't have a clue what the roses look like, and it really doesn't matter.



My very old Tupperware pitcher with the Rose cuttings soaking until I can get them planted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Japanese Maples....I've waited a long time for this colour

I have had these Japanese Maples for many, many years. They were in the back yard. They had die back every year and in the fall, the leaves would turn brown and fall off. I never really saw very much colour. They barely survived to autumn. I didn't realize that Japanese Maples hate south sun. I thought all Maples loved full sun. I moved them all to the front garden. It was a big job....but...worth it. I watched them turn the most amazing colours this year. I would sit in the Ugly Chair and just admire the colour. Reminding me of Ontario in the fall....which is exactly why I planted them. It did not once occur to me to take a picture. Until today. So they have faded a bit...and some leaves have fallen, but they are still quite lovely. The second photo is the maple still in the back yard. It is surrounded by Back to Eden garden and doubled in size this year after die back every year for about five years. I love gardening.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

My heart needed to have a little cat shrine

With the loss of Charlotte a few weeks ago, it made five little urns and mementos on my bedroom dresser. I felt like I wanted to have them altogether where I could see them and it felt more respectful. I thought of lots of options but decided to find a little shelf for the hallway. Where it wouldn't be in front of me all day, but I would see it many times. This is the result. It isn't quite done as I have yet to print out a few of the photos, but the frames are ready. It will be done within a couple days.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Lettuce and Kale planted...and a few bulbs.

The lettuce and kale are finally big enough to plant in the citrus house. It is a bit cooler down at that end of the greenhouse, and the light is perfect. I cannot wait to have fresh lettuce this winter.

Lettuce and Kale planted. Oh...and look at the mandarin oranges!!!
There also some nasturtiums coming up from the compost.
More on the other side. This isn't all of it, some of it was a little too small still.
Isn't the guava lovely. You should smell it. Yummmmmm.
Every year I plant more yellow narcissus and large snowdrops.
I could not resist this Parrot Tulip.
I'm such a sucker for pink flowers. Eye candy.