Friday, October 28, 2011

Blog Maintenance

I discovered that Google, the maker of Blogspot, has a picture sharing site called "Picasa". Apparently all the blogspot owners share into this Picasa site, and I didn't want it and so deleted it.
In doing that, I unwittingly deleted the pictures from my Crazy Housewife blog also, as I didn't know they were connected! When my Picasa file storage is full, I am unable to put pictures on my blog...this really annoys me and I obviously can't delete the pictures when it's full as the blog will bugger up again.
I sent a message asking if I could restore my blog and the answer is no; once the pictures are gone they are gone.
I am so upset, and will be re arranging the blog, but I still feel like a part of the last three years has been wasted. I'll figure it out eventually!

I have lit my candle for Auntie Pam for the eighth year this morning...I let it burn all day for her, even though her soul is at rest and with Uncle James now. But it brings me comfort to light it anyways.

My Memory Library

© Sarah Blackstone
Imagine if I was given one moment,
just a single slice of my past.
I could hold it close forever,
and that moment would always last.

I'd put the moment in a safe,
within my hearts abode.
I could open it when I wanted,
and only I would know the code.

I could choose a time of laughing,
a time of happiness and fun.
I could choose a time that tried me,
through everything I've done.

I sat and thought about what moment,
would always make me smile.
One that would always push me,
to walk that extra mile.

If I'm feeling sad and low,
if I'm struggling with what to do.
I can go and open my little safe,
and watch my moment through.

There are moments I can think of,
that would lift my spirits every time.
The moments when you picked me up,
when the road was hard to climb.
For me to only pick one moment,
to cherish, save and keep,
Is proving really difficult,
as I've gathered up a heap!

I've dug deep inside my heart,
found the safe and looked inside,
there was room for lots of moments,
in fact hundreds if I tried.

I'm building my own little library,
embedded in my heart,
for all the moments spent with you,
before you had to part.

I can open it up whenever I like,
pick a moment and watch it through,
My little library acts as a promise,
I'll never ever forget you.

Not only am I thinking of Pam, but of Rory, Nicole and Daina as well. Love you all.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lovely. Crisp. Autumn.

"How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly

Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow." 

- Elsie N. Brady, Leaves

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Honey Vanilla Pecan Granola

I noticed that Mike had written on the shopping list 'granola', and so, it being a lazy Sunday and all, I decided to surprise him with some home made granola.
The turn out was really tasty, and we couldn't wait to have some sprinkled on our fruit and yogurt...our usual night-time snack.
Granola is as personal to one's taste as making a batch of trail mix or nuts and bolts. I wanted to put ingredients in the granola that were savory rather than sweet, and still be healthy. This is what I threw in:

3 3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 cup grape seed oil
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup cherry ocean breeze dried cranberries
1 cup Thompson raisins

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix all ingredients together, except the fruit.
Line baking sheet with foil and transfer mixture to pan.
Bake for 20 minutes...make sure you stir every 7 minutes or so, as I had to make a new batch due to my waiting for 10 minutes before stirring, which was a big mistake. :)
Cool completely, and then mix in the fruit.
Store in air tight container.

I bought some dried apricots but didn't add them in, although I'm sure they would be good in it also.
Next time I make a go I will add pumpkin seeds rather than sunflower, cashews, and dried apples.
The other upside to making the granola other than the nutritional boost to our yogurt obsession? The house smelled absolutely amazing for the rest of the day!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Scrapbook Corner

I have been cleaning up the laptop, as my hard drive was nearly full. I began with looking to see how many gigabytes each file I had saved in my C drive was. The biggest files taking up the most room were my music file, which is...get this...35 GB! Wow I was shocked when I saw that. To put it in perspective, my C drive has 116 GB of room, and 35 of them were being used by music files. That's a lot of tunes!! I forsee myself purchasing an Ipod in the future and putting my favorites on it and getting rid of the rest.
The other big files were "My Pictures", which I'm not even sure how big it initially was as I didn't think to look right off the bat, and my digital files for scrap booking. The pictures were an easy fix, and I spent a few hours organizing and saving them to discs before removing everything from 2003 to 2009 from the laptop. That freed up about 8 GB of space. Funnily enough, 6 years of pictures were 8 GB. My 2011 picture file, and remember that 2011 isn't over yet, is 8.6 GB!!! The new camera is the culprit, as the size of each picture can reach  upwards to 7 MB per picture, with pixels 5 times the size of my other digital pictures from the past. I have changed the setting on the camera already and the files will be smaller from now on. But the key to my picture taking from now on will have to be: take 10 pictures to get a few good ones, and delete everything that's unnecessary. That's hard for me as it jabs me in the heart when I 'throw away' memories of the kids...but, as any parent knows, I can't keep everything or else I'd have boxes and boxes full of returned tests, painted pictures, and school work sheets.
So, long story short, we're slowly weeding out what we don't need on the laptop and having fun going through files and pictures that we haven't seen for years.
I decided to post a few layouts so that I can get rid of the file as it's been saved to a disc and I don't need to keep it any longer!
The above layout is for Sheena and Dan, who are settling into their new life together. Congrats.

The layouts were done without me writing down where to give credit to the designers of the digital kits, and some kits have since been cleaned up out of my files, so I can't list where my elements have come from! I can safely say that most, if not all, have come from different designers from 2 Peas in a Bucket, as that's my favorite online scrap booking store. However, let me say: Sorry to any designers who may come across my blog, and thank you for sharing your talents with us digi-scrappers!
My scrapbooks are now up to date, and I always have enough memories to scrap from each month as there are usually over 100 pictures to choose from in any given month.
       What a crazy obsession I have, but it's so fun and I truly, truly love it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Playing with my Camera

Well I've been playing around with the camera, and I've learned a lot; however there is still so much more I need to learn. I picked up a polarizing lens, and according to dad, when I turn it I should be able to see a darkening or a lightening when I look through the eye piece. I suppose I need to train my eye to the barely discernible change because I can't see the difference. All I know is that the lens is an essential addition to the collection in my camera bag. So, after Mike and I took some shots and put them on the computer, now I can see why!

Polarizing lenses give a lot of contrast when taking shots of clouds and running water or waterfalls. Also, when you take a picture of cars or anything behind glass, the glare is cut and you can see right through the window into the vehicle.
I'm just not sure which way to turn the lens to make it lighter or darker!
The zoom lens I'm still playing with, and I love how the stabilizer on the lens works. I can zoom on something 150 feet away and notice the slight tremor in my hand at keeping the heavy camera still. But the shot comes out crystal clear each time.

Until I can take in a few courses at the college in Lloydminster, I will keep playing around, trying to figure it out on my own. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Enter...If You Dare!

 This morning we took a few hours and turned the front yard into our graveyard.
This year we added a coffin that Mike made for our ghoul, who pops up with a scream when people walk by..I can't wait to try that out on Halloween.
 We don't turn anything on from the time we decorate until a few days before Halloween, but I like to have the yard decorated so that the kids know to go to the "Haunted House".
 We also added "The Crypt Keeper", who is hiding behind a tombstone and lifts it up when kids walk by, urging them to 'step into my graaaave'. That one, and the guy in the coffin, are my new favorites.
 I like Halloween decorating, while Mike loves the Christmas scenes. I like Christmas too, but Halloween is more fun for me, and I hide in the window, eagerly waiting for the kids to walk up to the house.
 I put up some small strobe lights by the front door also, which are on a sensor switch, and they flash and play scary music and creepy laughter when the kids walk up the front steps.
We have a mini strobe light that will sit in the graveyard with the fog machine, and with a few strategically placed red flood lights the yard will be a creepy place to walk through on Halloween night.
I'll definitely have to take some pictures and a video on Halloween, with the fog rolling and the cackling laughter scaring the neighborhood kids.
It might be too scary for me!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Thanksgiving Come and Gone

I wanted to share a bit of my family life and look back on the wonderful weekend we had this Thanksgiving.
Our weekend started off with the arrival of Mike's parents and a rousing game of Bocce Ball. After the kiddies went to bed we played cards until late in the night.
The next morning Mike was up making the stuffing to put in the slow cooker.
Now, something you don't know about the husband and I is that we work well in the kitchen. Most husbands would be in the living room, on the couch with a drink in their hands during the long preparations in the kitchen. Not so with mine. I like to say, "you can take the boy out of the restaurant, but you can't take the restaurant out of the boy".
Mike does so much that, if we didn't already have the menu planned, I would be lost and I'd be the one sitting it out in the living room, drink in hand. And he prefers it this way. Not just because he knows the work involved during stressful holidays can be overwhelming, but because he loves it and wants to be a part of the job well done at the end of the day.
So, thanks hun, for being my Superman.
the making of the experience and one I'll repeat (after changing up the recipe a bit)
Mike pulled the turkey out of the brine and got it smoking on the traeger. I wish I had remembered to take a picture of it after it was finished but in the kerfuffle of gravy making, potato mashing, and carving I didn't think to pick up the camera. Here is the before and after, though! We will definitely be doing that to the turkey again. The bird was so juicy and tender and the oven space was wonderful!

After that, there wasn't much to do except get the finger foods for lunch ready and wait for the rest of the family to show up. During the afternoon there were a few different things going on :
Bocce Ball
finishing up the kid's that's dedication!
singing and piano playing
The day was great, with all the usual family mayhem thrown in there: kids running around, happy yet underfoot, potato mashing and turkey carving taking up every inch of counter space, and the inevitable sweat worked up during turkey season in the kitchen. Everyone went home full, and in good spirits.
Tonight we did it all again, except with leftovers and the absence of Mike's parents, who went home before lunch.

I hope you had a great weekend with the people you love and had many things to be thankful for!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Healthy Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

Well, during my on-line hunts for some healthy Thanksgiving meal ideas I jotted down ideas as I went along.
This is what we came up with for a menu for Sunday:
Traeger Turkey: we are brining and then smoking our turkey on our Traeger grill, with apple wood chips...a very healthy alternative to a pre stuffed, butter ball turkey. The trick though is to completely rinse and pat the turkey dry before rubbing it with a bit of vegetable oil. If not, the sodium content will be too high, effectively ruining the healthy idea of eating a preservative free bird.
Mustard glazed Ham.
Slow cooker stuffing.
Green Bean Casserole.
Grandpa's Cucumber Salad.
Herbed Mashed Potatoes...made with chicken stock rather than butter and half and half. I actually cook the potatoes in the stock rather than water for more flavor. Then we always add a touch of nutmeg to the mashed.
Honey Carrot and Turnip Veggies...honey is a healthier alternative to brown sugar and you need less of it also..a tsp or two is all you need to sweeten those turnips.
Fat free fruit cocktail jello mold. Hubby likes this one as do the kids.
Homemade canned and pickled Beets..spiced with cloves and allspice.
Cranberry Chutney
...and of course Pumpkin Pie. Couldn't get away from that one, but I did get light whipped cream.
I'm looking forward to supper, and we will have a houseful as well...16 people are expected to sit around the table!
And with the turkey on the Traeger outside, and the slow cooker and roaster oven going in the garage, the house won't heat up like it usually would during holidays.

Here is a layout I worked on this week, too.
In case I don't post between now and then, have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

This layout is of Jimmy and Jacelyn.

It brought to mind that all of the cats we've had since we've had kids have had their pictures scrapped with Jacey!! I dug in my archives and found them.

Maybe she will be a veterinarian.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Festival at Smoky Lake, and more!

This last Saturday we drove 3 1/2 hours to Smoky Lake for their 23rd Annual Pumpkin Festival.
We got as far as Lloydminster where we had to stop the van to give the kids a talking to (and a smack) after listening to them for that half hour bickering back and forth. It had escalated into beating on each other so we had to put a stop to that. I was beginning to have flash backs of our summer holiday trip to Calgary and I really didn't want to go through that again so soon.
We stopped at Innisfree for a washroom break (thank you, potty training) and carried on to Mundare for a stop for some famous sausage. I loved seeing the Ukrainian churches with their ornate rooftops. I couldn't resist taking this picture of the world's biggest sausage..from this angle it leaves nothing to the imagination.

We carried on north until we got to Smoky Lake. We parked the van and walked a few blocks up to Pumpkin Park, an area across from main street where there were 5 larger than life pumpkin sculptures. The show and shine contest was beginning and the entire main street and a side street were blocked off for it. There must have been a few hundred cars there. We walked along, admiring them and laughing aloud at the hearses that were lined up, decorated with skeletons and coffins. The kids stayed away from that area.

Brandon liked this Model T Ford

We made our way back to Pumpkin Park after getting a map...activities were sort of scattered all over, and 5 huge school buses were shuttling people to them all. There were five stops in all, and we gathered at one to wait for a bus. That's when we realized the town was bigger than we thought! We overheard a man on his cell saying the event brings upwards to 8000 people to the town. The population of this town is 1100, and for a small community it sure has a lot of heart and spirit.
As we approached the arena, where the bulk of the festival was located, I stared with my mouth hanging open--there was a midway to my left and scarecrows and pumpkins everywhere. And the people! There were hoards of people...and a very large food court with every Fair delight you crave. Inside the arena were two more food courts, with Ukrainian food being the main focus. The smell of frying sauerkraut was heavenly!

Inside the arena there were at least 400 people gathered.

The winning pumpkin weighs in at 581.2 kgs. Wow.
We entered the arena and the amount of people packed in there was staggering to us! It was so full it was standing room only. In truth the pictures don't do it justice at all! We found some seats and ate our lunch while we watched the weighing of the pumpkins. Some had traveled hours to have their pumpkins weighed, and with good reason: not only for the fun and enjoyment of the day and good natured sportsmanship between these gardeners, but for the over $7000 prize for the biggest specimen. Now that's a big pumpkin!! The prize went to a family in Taber, AB this year.
The farmer's market was full of goodies and homemade food, and I bought a huge bag of egg noodles from a Ukrainian couple who make it all by hand. I can't wait to try them out tonight. I also picked up a Matryoshka doll from an old Russian lady who had way too many to choose from.

The down side to all of this? Too many people and there were a lot of pushy ones there. We found some of them quite rude and short tempered. But I suppose that comes with a large group of people squashed in small spaces. The midway was the same way, with the line ups being so long that we stayed there for an hour and a half and the kids only went on one ride each. I gave away the tickets to some teenage girls standing in line. There just wasn't enough time to stand around there while we missed out on the rest of the events! Although my heart bled at the giving away of 50 dollars worth of tickets.

Enjoying my Elephant Ear, my treat for the year.

Huge homemade bags of pasta for 5 bucks each. 

If we hadn't parked so far away or had 3 kids to watch, I would have loved to buy a bunch of these pumpkins.

We wanted to enjoy the pork supper that was served until 6:30 but we decided to just hit the road as we still had an hour and a half to go into Sherwood Park for the night. We had a late supper in the city and went to our hotel rooms.
The next morning we met in the breakfast room and decided afterwards to tour a bit of old Edmonton while we waited for Costco to open up. As we were looping around to make our way back, Charlie decided that would be a good time to throw up all over in the back. Ugh, it wasn't very pleasant, as we were on the bridges and there was no where to stop for a bit. We got her cleaned up and debated what we should do; go home and not get Thanksgiving groceries or just hope for the best that she would be fine. We went ahead with Costco, and she was perfectly fine. She ran around the store, and even ate chicken and fries at lunch time in the van and had snacks afterwards. 
So we headed home, with mom and Mike in the front, Charlie content with her movie, and the two kids duking it out in the back. And me? I put on my headphones, much to Mike's disgust (at this point I didn't care about that) and went to my happy place...I could hardly hear the arguing at all!