Thursday, 26 December 2013

Play: 'Twas the day after Christmas

‘Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house
The children were playing, and even the mouse (seriously, I left chocolate on the counter last night that was nibbled in the morn)
The stockings were strewn on the floor without care,
A sign that St Nicolas had in fact been there.

A drink in my hand, I lounged by the fire,
The CBC radio with sounds of a choir.
Father saved the world on the PS3,
And we all ignored the mess that lay under the tree.

With lego and books and new socks for all,
Don’t mention the boxes that litter the hall,
I briefly thought of the credit card bills,
And went out instead to sled down the hills.

There’s a break in our play to take time for lunch,
Some leftover turkey dinner to munch!
And then back to open yet another toy,
I ask where on earth we will put this, oh boy!

Another Christmas has come, but is not quite yet done
Because there is still some time for more fun.
More games to be played, and food to eat
Oh Christmas time you are so neat!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Play: Ode to a Snow Day

It started last night.
The stillness, the quiet.
Nothing but the snow gently falling from the sky.

The joy in the morning to see the world transformed.

The desire to go out and leave your mark.

The moment you realize there is nowhere you have to be.
That there is nowhere else you'd rather be.

Oh Snowday, how I love thee!

Time to refuel with a comforting meal.

 Out for a hike

to see who else has left it's mark

At day's end, at home by the fire is a good place to be.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Laugh: There's sawdust in my bed!

My husband discovered Pinterest.
Up until a few months ago, we still had dial up internet at home. Then I was given the opportunity to work from a home a we needed real internet. And then Shawn discovered Pinterest, and the pages and pages of things to make with pallets.
He then started going on "pallet runs". He would come home with an uncountable number of pallets. "They're free!! They just throw them away!!"
He quickly constructed a "pallet taking apart station"....made out of, you guessed it , pallets.
Then he made himself a work bench, to better help him construct his creations.
The bench around the fire pit finally got finished...just in time for our annual fall gathering (of which there were 26 kids, and about 40 adults at....may have been our record year!)
And he quickly threw together an outdoor table that quite nicely held the s'mores bar at said party.

I came home from work the other day to the sound of the table saw (or maybe it was the sander....who knows?) and a pile of coats on the floor. And the coat rack that normally holds those coats on the floor.
This is what I found in it's place:

Two days later, I came home and could barely open the door for all the boots and shoes lying in front of the door.....with this where the old shoe rack was:

I now have two new pinterst boards: "Stuff Shawn should make me", and "Stuff Shawn made me"
I've put in requests for a new book case, and bin of sorts for potato storage, a headboard......

And  I no longer mind the sawdust that finds it's way into my bed:)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Eat: Wow!

I got a "wow" at dinner tonight.
I get a lot of, "Mmmmm...this is good." and "Thanks for dinner!"
But never a "Wow". That felt good, really good.

I thought at first it was for the lamb burgers I had made.  We had discussed dinner this morning, and I wanted to have some of our lamb. We hadn't tried any of the ground yet, but I certainly didn't want to "waste" it in spaghetti or anything. So I thought burgers. Which meant I had to figure out the bun issue, as Shawn is a non-wheat eater. I had made empanadas last night (We "landed" on Chile in our world tour, that blog entry will be up soon) and the dough made with spelt flour turned out quite nice, so I was feeling rather confident that I could come up with a bun (if it failed, we could always go bun-less).

So we build our burgers, sit down and Shawn takes a bite. And said "Wow". And then asked for a sandwich in his lunch for tomorrow. If you know him, he is not a big sandwich guy, even when he was a wheat-eater.

I found a number of recipes on line, and the one I followed (well, as well as I tend to follow recipes) was found on

WOW Spelt Flour Buns

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups spelt flour (I use 
1. Sprinkle yeast onto the water and let sit for 1-2 minutes
2. Pour water & yeast mixture into mixing bowl, and add butter, egg, honey and salt. Stir. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until dough comes together. I use my kitchen-aid mixer with the dough hook. Mix slowly, otherwise flour goes everywhere!
3. Add the third cup gradually until you have a smooth, soft dough that forms a nice ball.
4. Place in lightly greased bowl.
5. Cover with tea towel and set near fireplace, that as been burning all afternoon:) (or other warm, draft free place)
6. Let sit for an hour, until dough has risen.
7. Get your husband, who used to be a baker to form the buns. OR, divide dough into 8 balls, and shape into hamburger bun shaped balls.
8. Place on cookie sheet, and set near fire again for about an hour.
9. Brush tops with melted butter, bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.
10. Let cool, slice, and top with burger....and be prepared to be "wowed"

My favourite way to cook home made burgers:

Instead of grilling on the BBQ, after making your favourite burger, form the patties and brush one side with melted butter. Put in fridge until butter sets. Remove from fridge, flip over and butter other side. Put them back in the fridge. Get out that old cast iron frying pan that is lurking in the back of the cupboard, and put it on the stove top. Get it nice and hot, if you put a drop of water in it, it should sizzle and spit.
Remove butter coated patties from the fridge. Place in very hot pan. Let fry for about 5-6 minutes, than flip. Cook a few more minutes. The end result is a nice, crisp on the outside, super juicy on the inside burger, that is sure to wow!!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Play: Run or Dye

I convinced Shawn to run in a "race" as a family.  Now he's be running for a year or so now, but never has been interested in participating in a race. So I was surprised, and delighted when he agreed. And the boys are running too. I'm so happy:)
The big day arrives, with a cool, wet morning...but it does not stop about 5000 (!!!) people to make their way to Fort Henry to run for 5km while being pelted with dye.
We ran, we laughed, we dyed.....and then we hit the Brew Pub for beer, hot chocolate and lunch....a perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday morning with my 3 favorite people!
Practicing their start


before......we look so clean

The GoPro video Shawn created of our experience!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Play: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot finishes race!!!

Warning: this is a long read.....I hope you enjoy.

This crazy idea that Candice and I had almost two years ago came to pass. We signed up, we trained and than actually raced the race! And survived to tell the tale. After dropping the kids off at the sitters on Friday morning, I made my way over to pick up Grant (who had just joined our team a mere 3 weeks ago, considering this is a man who spends his time always in training, we were not in the least bit concerned about his ability to keep up for the race, if any thing we prayed we could keep up to him)
On our way to Candice's house, well we got a bit lost. Not a great start for our team.....we turned on the GPS and found the road we had somehow turned off of, still not sure how that happened.
Anyway, made it to her place, loaded up her gear and drove off (in the right direction) only to find out 8 minutes later we had left a critical piece of gear behind.....hmmm, another bad omen? 
We're making good time, make a quick stop to eat and pee, only to have the truck shut off TWICE in the middle of the drive. Is anyone else feeling nervous yet??? So, we have already gotten lost, forgot essential gear (OK, they were only keys to her mother's apartment where we had to drop off the dog, but still they were necessary!) and had a mechanical breakdown, 3 of the four things we were really hoping would not happen to us (the fourth were no injuries).
Fortunately, the rest of the drive up was uneventful, and we arrived at race HQ with time to spare. Although everyone else there looked like they belonged, gulp.
At this point I'm feeling pretty good, I'm not yet nervous, I'm telling myself I've trained, I got my gear, all will be well. 
And then we get the maps. All but the last 10km or so of the bike ride is trail.  Not my strength. I knew that it would be mostly trail, but figured it would be broken up with some gravel roads. Oh, and the trek? Pretty much no trail. OK, so alot of bushwhacking. Which mean little running. OK, I got this.
At the start line
We head back to the hotel, spend some time re-organising our packs, pull out the maps again, make some notes, mark some distances and bearings and slide into bed around midnight. The alarm at 5:30 am comes pretty quick. Back at race HQ for breakfast, jump on our bikes for the 3km ride to the start line.....count down 3, 2, 1....and we're off. 
We had positioned ourselves near the back of the pack, we have no illusions about our place here, the "pro-star" teams quickly take to the trail and disappear. It doesn't take long for us to be enjoying this ride on our own. About 12 km in, there are suddenly some teams coming towards us on the trail! We discover later, that many teams missed the turn off. Maybe our timing has saved us from making the same mistake. From this point, we end up leap frogging with a couple of other teams until we hit CP1.  We refill our water bottles, jump back on our bikes and continue on. The whole ride takes us 10 hours. This is by far the longest ride I have ever done, and the trail was tough. Lots of rock, a fair number of mud puddle crossings, lot's of sand (have you ever ridden in sand? It sucks) Single track, ATV trail, hydro cut.....but as the ride wore on, I could feel my confidence gaining. There were even a few times where I had this weird's like the line I ha to follow was lit up or something. I know that sounds really out there, maybe it was de-hydration, but hey, whatever gets you there. And the last 10km of gravel road? Don't assume the orange line on the map denotes a gravel road.....just sayin'
So we've made it to TA1.....and we get ice cream!! Best ice cream I've ever tasted. We quickly tear through our gear bin, change our socks, shoes and cycling shorts into long tights. We freshen up our water bladders, re-fold our maps, throw some food in our mouths, and we are off again. When we were plotting out our course the night before, we had decided to swim across the channel, hand rail the rest of the lake down, hit the portage trail and follow the shore to CP4....sounds easy right? The other option was taking the road to some trails and going from there. A longer distance, but maybe a safer bet? Even though the ride took us 2 hours longer than we had hopes, we decided to stick to our original plan, so we head down to the shore for a swim. Not relishing the idea of being wet when the sun went down (about 90 minutes away) we, well, let's just say we did not break the rule of taking our race bibs off.
Once on the other side we made pretty good time travelling along the shore of the lake, hit a "creek" that we had hoped would be an easy crossing. Maybe we should have looked a little harder for a place to cross, but ended up swimming again....through swampy, weedy smelly water. With our race bibs on.
A few minutes later is when it all went wrong. We hit another "creek" at the mouth of the lake, The sun was almost down. We didn't want to swim again. The longer, cleaner route across the mouth of the lake was one option. The narrower, but really swampy section was option two. The third option as we saw it was to hand rail the creek east to a small lake we could skirt around, follow the creek back to the shore of Gordon Lake and over to the CP. About a 3km detour. That took 3-4 hours. Let's just say that following a hand rail in the dark is not so easy. The terrain kept forcing us up and away from our river. Finally, we reached the portage and saw a campfire down the shore. Elated, we moved pretty quickly and confidently towards the light. Only to stumble upon a cabin, with a friendly man to tell us we're going the right way, it's the next fire up the shore. There was no fire. Instead, about an hour later (maybe...who knows, I wasn't wearing a watch, and time seems to stop out there in the night) we hear people yelling to us "Swim across, we're over here!" "Huh" swim across? But the CP is supposed to be on the EAST shore of the lake. If we swim across we'll be on the WEST shore. It took Candice and Grant awhile to explain to me that we were on the shore of a little bay, and the campsite was on the point, which technically is still the east shore. Admittedly, I figured this out the next day when I was reviewing the maps.....
So, finally we roll into CP4....after being offered beer by the yahoos yelling at us. There didn't seem to be many of them, but there sure were alot of empties on the ground. And they seemed offended that we did not want any beer.
The next section went slowly, but perfectly for us. We set our bearings (there was a bit of an issue here, when Grant and Candice pointed one way, and I almost pointed in the exact opposite direction. Not wanting to admit that something was wrong, I covertly re-checked my bearing. Hmm....everything looks right, I'm very confident I have set it right....oh, well, 2 against 1, I'll follow them. After a few more checks as we're following the river I finally show Candice my compass......which shows the north arrow pointing south. My compass is seems to think north is south.....somehow it has de-polarized...hmmm....I put it away, good thing we all brought one)
At CP5...note the coffee in my hand
We spend the next 5 hours playing leap frog through dense bush, walls of rock we need to scramble over, and walls of alder bushes. We manage to come out with 20' of our target each time. We hit the end of Horseshoe Lake as the sun is coming up, follow the shore up high for a bit. Then decide to get low, as we figure the campsite will be on the water. We are encouraged by the fact that the shoreline is walkable, sandy bottom covered in footprints...we round the corner, quietly say "Good Morning" and are met by the the beautiful sight of smiling people....who say "We weren't expecting you for another hour!" At this point I am fighting back tears of relief that we made it here. We are offered coffee, cheese, crackers and the last strawberry. This beautiful, wonderful man then proceeds to tell us how great we look, snaps our picture and that we have 5 hours to get to TA2 to be able to continue the race, and he believes we can do it. It is exactly what we need to hear right now. So, off we go. We follow this rough, rocky shoreline, opting to stay low for as long as we can. I have a few moments of terror as we have to climb up a cliff. Not scramble, but actually climb. With no ropes. And a 20' drop against more rocks before landing in the lake broken. Now, I haven't done any climbing in 10 years. And I don't even like climbing ladders. But somehow, Candice and Grant coax me up the cliff face (I really don't think I'm exaggerating) and we continue on. We swim across the channel between Little Wilson and Wilson Lake, scramble up the hill (I sucked back a peanut butter goo, it is breakfast time after all) we head due south aiming for the "road" We got onto the trail with the orange ribbons for a bit, but when it starts to veer in another direction we quickly get off of it, find the "road" we were looking for and move as quickly as our aching bodies will allow us.
We arrived at TA2 at 11:05, 55 minutes before the "absolute cutoff". We discover Grant's bike is not here!! So Bob tells us to go ahead and transition, when we are ready he will hit the timer, and we will get a time credit to make up for how long it takes for Grant's bike to arrive. As we're getting ready (a little slowly now, as we can't yet leave) we all realize that the team that walked in 3 minutes before is also a rookie team! All of a sudden we are racing again! We all look at each other, and start moving a bit faster. There is a prize for the rookie team who finishes first. And the only two rookie teams left are right here, a 26km ride on the road away from the finish line! Team Spinning out of Control hops on their bikes and take off, not knowing how fast they have to ride, because we won't be there riding with them. 18 minutes later, Grant's bike arrives, and we hit the road. As we turn into the parking lot to the finish line, I am fighting back tears. It has been 29 hours of non-stop travelling. I'm tired, but elated that it is over, and we have done it! 
Spinning out of Control takes the rookie prize.....beating us by 8 minutes. 
Well, Wilderness Traverse volunteers and staff....thank you for a great first 24hour race experience, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot will see you next year! And I'll hopefully have a new bike......with shocks!!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Play: In Training

I had these great plans that I would be able to blog my training for my upcoming race. Ha! Between working, being a mother and wife, piles of laundry and days with "nothing to eat in this house" AND training, who has time to blog about it?
So, here I am, a little over 3 weeks away from the race, and I am making a bit of time to record how I'm feeling.
To recap, I'm training for a race called Wilderness Traverse. This year, the race is being held in the Parry Sound of the challenges will be to take the time to notice the beautiful surroundings I will be in! My team and I will spend 24-30 hours running, hiking, canoeing, portaging and biking a 150km course through the wilderness. For fun. And we paid someone to let us do this. Hmmmm.....I'm still trying to figure out if I should feel proud or foolish when I admit that I have signed up for this.
I've been training for 6 months, and over this time I have learned that I have great friends, who have supported me, helped me, and even seem to understand why.  Some are my "mom friends", who have held playdates to allow me to squeeze in a ride, run or swim when my husband was away. Nana who has driven out to pick the kids up so I could squeeze a ride in before work. Friends with bikes who have joined me on long rides, and taught me how to be a better rider. My trainer who has created training schedules, makes me stretch, and has gone out on cold, windy crappy days to ride with me. Co-workers who listen to my endless ramblings about my training rides/runs and current hurts. Friends who think a fun Friday night out is running through the bush with a headlamp. My husband, listening to me whine when I hurt, and is OK with me taking off for a 4 day weekend to do this. Sales rep that have hooked my team up with some free gear (pressure is on, you could say that we are sponsored athletes!.....Thank You Black Diamond & Icebreaker!!!) And a friend crazy enough (and ready) to agree to step in 3 weeks before to join the team, hope I can keep up with him.
They say it takes a village to raise a could also say it takes a village to train an athlete.
I've learned that you're not too busy to train for something. Be it your first 5km run, marathon, obstacle race or adventure race. You don't even have to wake up at the crack of dawn to do so (something I just can't bring myself to do, I like sleep) You will somehow find the time to creatively squeeze it in. And your village will be proud of you, and will step in to help where they can, you just have to accept it.
My team and I race on August 17-18. You can check in with us while we race, there will be a bit of a live feed during the race: click the Live coverage tab. And if I live to tell about it, I'll report here how it went!
My team is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Where's The Finish?
What The F%$@?
Why The F%$#?
We Trained Furiously.
Whining Through Forests.
Which Trail's Fastest?
We Trek Fast.
We're Tough F%$#er's

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Play: Water, Water Everywhere!

All aboard!
Our dream home would be on the water. Unfortunately, we both really like our jobs....which means we work for love not money, and can't afford that waterfront property. BUT, we are fortunate to be surrounded by lakes anyway, and for the most part enjoy waterfront living....just a hop, skip and a jump away. We also have the world's best neighbours, who share their dock with us whenever we want. And the boys cannot get enough fishing down there. Today, on the first real summery feeling day, we got down to said dock, armed with nets, home made fishing rods, PFD's and a stand up board.
Iain, solo paddling
What a glorious afternoon! I didn't even think about the piles of laundry, the unswept floors and the half put away groceries (OK, maybe I thought about those things....but ignored that thought!) And those neighbours I mentioned? Even brought a cold beer down to the dock for me.
I am constantly amazed about how long my sons can amuse themselves outside.  Looking at fish, trying to catch fish, exploring over the next hill, identifying plants (and in Fin's case rocks....the other day, while building our new fire pit, Shawn broke up a large burnt rock that proved to be quartz.  Fin yelled out "Hey Dad, that's a nice piece of Cryptocrystalline you found! it wrong to think my 7 year old is a bit of a nerd?) They don't even play with toys anymore (anyone in need of some toys? I could probably get rid of everything except lego and playmobile, and even those, could whittle the collections down by half)
I suppose that's a good thing. 
Anyway, back to our day on the water. There was fishing, swimming and stand up paddling. Imagine my pride when I told him to do a "sweep stroke" and he knew what I meant, and did it! He then insisted that he paddle on his own, without me. So he hopped on, I pushed him away from the dock, and he was  
off.....oooops, too far maybe....I got an unexpected 100 meter swim (good thing I'm in training) When I got to him however, I was not allowed on the board....another 100 meter swim. Then Fintan wants a turn to paddle with me.  We take about 10 strokes, when he decides he wants to swim...and jumps in!
Fintan's jump

Everyone should be so lucky to have water to play in (let alone drink and bathe). And here, where we live, there is an abundance. If only more people took the time to enjoy it. I am amazed at how few people really swim or paddle in our many lakes. Teaching paddling, especially to beginners, reminds me how lucky I am to live where I do, and to do the work that I do. 

See? It just makes you smile
Dan, the beer toting neighbour

Fintan getting his sea legs on

Penny's first swim!

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water" Loren Eiseley

PS.....If you're wondering where Shawn, aka Dad was on this wonderful afternoon of play.....he was at work, teaching people how to teach people how to kayak:)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Play: Adventure Racing

Adventure Racing. Just like it sounds, a race that is also an adventure! There is a start line, and a finish line, but no clear path between the two. The race course usually consists of a body of water (or more) some trails, some forest with no clear trails, dirt roads, and sometimes paved roads. Your mode of travel is a combination of canoe, mountain bike and your own two feet. You need to be able to read a map, and work as a team. I love it. With 6 races under my belt, I feel I can now say "I am and Adventure Racer" rather than "I have done a couple of adventure races."
I just ran Storm the Trent, Ontario's (if not Canada's) biggest and most popular race. (This is my opinion...I have not confirmed that statement) This race offer three levels of length and difficulty, to date I have competed in all three levels. This past race weekend I competed in the Elite Trek (the longest and hardest, covering about 80km) with my race partner Candice. On Sunday we were joined by two other ladies; Polly, who I have now raced with for 5 years, and Meghan, who is new to the sport; and competed in the Hike course (the "easiest" course, covering about 40km)
I can honestly say that this was the hardest, coldest, and most humbling race weekends I have ever experienced. Candice and I earned our first gold medal win, and our first DNF (did not finish) together. We experienced defeat, a win, pain, hypothermic conditions, elation, discouragement, and pride. I had a moment of not wanting to come home and tell my sons I couldn't finish.....I was afraid they would be disappointed.  I learned SO much about my strengths and my weaknesses. I learned that Mother Nature sometimes, really is in control. (She proved it on Sunday with hail, sleet, snow, ice pellets, driving rain and fierce winds....30-40% of the teams on Sunday also DNF'd) My confidence riding my bike on trails got stronger as the kilometers slipped behind me. I learned that not making the time cutoff, while devastating at first, doesn't mean all is lost. I learned that you must drink and snack while on the trail. I learned that sometimes you just have to let it go. I learned tape on the ends of your toes prevents blisters. I learned my body can do amazing things. (Well...I already knew that from child bearing, it just needs a reminder sometimes)I learned that training is very important. I learned that bruises show up days later. I learned that I cannot wait until the next race! Candice and I did this crazy back to back race to see if we have what it takes to compete in a 24 hour, 150km Adventure Race. We decided we do.....and we're taking along a man 11 years our junior to race with us.....hope he can keep up ;)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Drink: If you can't beat 'em.....

Anyone who has ever had mint growing in their garden knows that it just takes over! And over.....and over. After years of trying to clear mint out of the garden (really, you only need so much of it) I had an epiphany this past weekend as I was gardening, if you can't beat it, you may as well.....well you may as well drink it!

 May Mojitos!!

Wee little mint's ok, there is lot's of it!

mint, lime, club soda, Shawn's Plum Mint Syrup
muddle the mint, lime wedges and a wee bit of sugar

Ooops! Don't forget the rum! (2 oz/drink)

a splash of Shawn's plum mint syrup....for a splash of colour, top with club soda and ice!
To be enjoyed outside in the sunshine......maybe near the mint plants!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Eat: O Deer! I think I need a Drink now....

I married a hunter. I knew what I was getting myself into-or so I thought. Usually, it meant for a couple of weeks in November, I had the place to myself, and with luck, at the end of the season he would come home with these neat little packages of meat wrapped up in butchers paper.
Yep, I was blissfully not involved until dinner time-that is until we bought a house with land, huntable land.  Next thing I knew I was in my kitchen with a 4 month old in a jolly jumper, cutting up a deer with my husband. I must say, gave me a new appreciation for those neat little packages of meat.
A few days before the end of the last season, Shawn successfully took a deer with his bow. The only drawback was we had just finally got some snow. It was so fresh and abundant that he couldn't get the 4-wheeler through the snow. So, instead of putting the boys to bed (it was now 8pm) we bundled them up, strapped on our snowshoes, grabbed the wood hauling sled and head out by the light of the full moon to retrieve our venison.
When we arrived, Fintan wanted to share a prayer (one he had read in kindergarten)
"Oh sacred deer , you gave your life to me.
For that I give you Thanks
And I set your spirit free."
We then dragged out venison home. I then got another moment of blissful ignorance; Shawn does all the "dirty work"
Next time I see anything, it is hunks of meat hanging in our barn.  I get a call at work the next day-the kids are asking me to bring home crackers, for the pate they had made with Dad. Yep, my boys LOVE pate (and oysters) but they don't like Nutella!
8 days later, the "project" continues in the kitchen. Shawn has decided on no waste. Meat is being processed into chops, steaks and ground meat. Bones are first being boiled for stock, then picked clean for the bird suet he will make. The bones are then being dried in the oven, he will try to pulverise them into bonemeal for the garden in the spring. Fat is being melted into tallow, for candles and to make the bird suet. I believe there are plans for fishing lures with the tail. I have no idea how one tans a hide (not referring to idle threats from my mom when I was younger), but I'm sure he's already looked into it.
I am proud to be married to a hunter. There is a sense of pride when we hunt, gather and or grow our own food, even more so when our kids are involved; they understand where our food comes from.