Maya’s Adventure in Dinner Rolls!

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Guest Post by Maya Eve, age 11 No Knead No Fail Dinner Rolls Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Grease  a standard 12 cup muffin tin. I used silicone ones to make it easier. The prep time is about  90 minutes and … Continue reading

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Those Pesky Unwanted Holiday Guests- or How Things Seem So Much Worse in the Heat of the Moment

It really is time to wrap this up… this post began more than two weeks ago and I have had plenty of requests for the finished product.  I have been procrastinating, I will admit it- anyone who knows me, knows that is one of the things I truly excel at!  The truth is the story lost its luster for me.  At the time I wanted to share and I was on a roll… but then well, the comedy was not helping me cope and I preferred to leave it to my partner to deal with while I hid my head in the sand.  And shortly after the main event- those creepy creepers became less visible.  Two met their maker in the first 24 hours and another soon after drown himself in our toilet (all of Lanark County is very grateful to Eric for having discovered that one before I did)!  Then about a week ago we had a Return of the Freaky Flying Foes and one landed on my shoulder and ran down my leg as I sat at the computer, ironically trying to work on this post!  I was done.

We have some great friends who lent us some traps … no cigar… or rather, no Dead Flying Squirrels.  As far as we can tell there is one, possibly two still eluding capture.  Some nights I can hear my super hero cat- Salvador, trying with great persistence to take that mutha down.  So far no success.  And this dude- or dudette, is not afraid of us in the least.  I am at a loss and I try to just be patient, hoping that either the traps or the cat will prevail.  So that is where we are at.  In the Spring we are hoping to rip everything apart and find the point(s) of entry and repair our precious house.  This is probably been going on for years, every winter and it is just in our face now that we are here all of the time!  What follows is the part of the original post that I was working on the night of the major invasion.  It is incomplete, unedited and exactly as it was from the start. I will update the situation, and hopefully some day I will see the humour in this entire mess again.  But for now, my hatred for rodents is further solidified.  All I can think about is the nastiness they leave behind and the financial burden that awaits us come Spring.

So… I have fallen short on my promise to post to my blog on a regular basis.  We have been living up here in Folger full-time for just over a month now.  A lot has happened, and I can comfortably say that we are really quite happy- for the most part!  And I will write about it all… later.  Tonight I want to write about something we all can relate to.  Holiday guests… of the undesirable variety.  Whther you can admit it or not, we all have a few of those in our lives- you know what I am talking about… or at least you think you do!  This year we have been blessed with an entire family of pests… and I mean pests. ***Discalimer- I am writing this under close supervision of my subject,  and this may effect my ability to express myself freely*** Yesterday morning started off like any other New Years day… we welcomed in 2012 in our usual, late rising way.  We were taking it easy, just unwinding from the previous week`s excitement- which almost included the birth of my nephew, who has since decided to wait a bit longer.  Audrey came down from her room telling us she was going to bring some snacks upstairs for the Mama Mouse in her room.  Although Audrey is known for her colourful imagination, I thought it best to have Eric check, after all we have seen evidence of mice in our cupboards and storage areas.  He found nothing.  We all laughed… oh, that silly, silly five year old! Fast forward to bedtime, which in our household begins at 8:30 and ends when the sun begins to rise in the East. I am on the main floor and I hear Chloe shout down to me a question no mother wants to hear…. “Hey, Mom… can you tell me what kind of animal is up here on the banister?”  Okay, so for some moms this ignites excitement, the thrill of a  potential teaching moment.  Not this mom.  This mom become light headed and walked towards the staircase with extreme trepidation.  And stopped short of climbing the stairs, because I could already see the creature in question.  I was frozen in place, and I couldn’t even move when Silas continued up the stairs ahead of me.  I called to Eric, who had already gone down for the night in preparation for his return to work early the next morning.  Now, let me try to create the proper image for those of you who have never visited our maze-house.  The creature was perched on the banister  as it turns to go up to our third floor, where the older girls sleep.  Our bedroom door is on this small landing and the little girls room is off to one side a few steps below this landing, off the landing of the main stairs.  Okay… hold that image (because my description *must* have been successful)!  Now imagine Eric in our doorway, Chloe a few steps up to the right on her third floor landing and Silas climbing up at full speed towards his Papa.  Everyone starts shouting at me to grab him… I climb three steps and immeadiately freeze up again.  Then Silas spots the creature… he is excited, he is squeeing with glee, and I think he said something like “meow, meow, Kitty, Kitty “.  More people urging me to grab him.. more cement boots… and I will be honest, the next few minutes are a blur.   Next thing I know I am in my bed with the boy and I am not leaving- ever.   Silas wants that damn thing so badly and I think he is crazy. Eric takes over, and I am so in love.  Finally our cat, Salvador catches the smell and joins in the chase.  Eric is providing me with play-by-play; “Oh, my God- there are two…” , “Shit… holy F*&@, there is another one… that is three Donna!”  Me- “Yay….. where is my barf bucket?”… Eric continues to stay out on the landing with the cat and I stay safe in my bed, holding back Silas with promises of more “la la” (for those of you who dont know Silas, that is code of boob juice).  Eventually after catching one with the help of his trusty stead Salvador, Eric comes to bed- my hero!  I try to sleep but I am kept awake with the sounds of   battle waging throughout the night, the sounds and the fear of waking up to the spoils of victory on my duvet. The new day comes and I am not eager to leave my bed- even less than usual!  However I am the only adult with Eric at the office today and I know I can not hide forever… and besides, Salvador probably scared them all back to where hence they came, right?  And so it seemed- until the sunset… and Sage and Audrey come to me giggling and dancing about, “Mama, Mama!!!  The Mama mouse is in the Christmas tree!!”  And since I never learn… I reply “Oh, you girls are so silly- the squirrel is not in our tree, he is hiding with all his nasty squirrel buddies in our attic eating fruit cake!”  “No, nooooo… go onto the stairs, you will see her better, she is near the Father Christmas on the tree!”  So, I walk towards the staircase to humour those little tricksters… and stop short, becauase I see him.  Near the top, close to the trunk is this guy: Yeah, yeah.. I know, he is soooo cute, right?  Problem is, he doesn’t belong here!  He and all his little friends have received and read their eviction notices, but  they are still here.  I am not pleased, not in the least.  My children, on the other hand are thrilled.  Clearly they do not understand what vicious creatures these are- so I tell them.  They  laugh at me, seriously, I can not make these kids fear the cute fuzzy wonders that have taken over our home.  We have learned a few things about these creatures, one is that they are oddly tame, they are not bold nor do they seem to fear us much (I do not like this fact at all), also they are very few cases of North American squirrels having rabies, a factoid I like a lot more.  Also they have a distinct way of getting into a nut… something that makes it painfully clear that these are in fact not newly landed visitors. According to  “flying squirrels have a unique method of opening hard mast nuts…so unique, in fact, that one can determine a flying squirrels’ presence in a woodlot by examining spent nut meat shells found on the forest floor!”  The picture above is an example.. we have found nuts like this after every winter when we have returned- I guess this year they knew we weren’t leaving. Anyhow, not long before there were three in the tree.. each on his own perch, each watching a different part of our living room, like they were scouting for attack locations.  I am getting really freaked out.  I seek comfort in the form of my ever loyal facebook friends.  They provide me with advice, jokes and plenty of sympathy… but not a single one drives up here with a shotgun!

They all move around, but the Three Muskateers never stop watching me… and the first tree dweller stays his post, still now as I am  typing.  Time to retreat… and wait for my Knight to come home!

Update: January

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My Take On Pumpkin Loaf

So, yes… I am stalling.  I have almost finished my post about our unwelcome houseguests, but I am just not feeling it lately- so for today, a recipe!  This is dedicated to my dear friend over at I hope you like it!

Basically this is gluten free pumpkin loaf that I play around with… sometimes I even load it up with gluten (shhhh…).  It really has a lot more to do with what I have in the pantry than anything else, because out here in Folger there is no running to the store to grab a little bit of this or a smidgen of that!

(Note: I really need to get more on top of taking pictures as we go.. I am working on that… please be gentle with me- I am so new!)

Fresh and moist... and very delicious! Gluten Free Pumpkin Loaf

Donna’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Loaf (yields 2 loaves)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, grease 2 loaf pans

2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup apple sauce (you can use veg oil in equal parts)

4 eggs

1/2 cup ground flax

1 cup of raisins soaking in 2/3 cup of water

1 can pumpkin puree (14-16 oz)

2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons each ground allspice, ground cloves

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1  teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups gluten free flour (I make my own combo with what I have on hand)

2 teaspoon gf baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon gf baking powder

*I do not add zantham gum or anything like it… I just allow the mixture to sit a while to allow the ground flax to do its thing before baking!*

Combine sugar, maple syrup, apple sauce and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Mix until well blended,  add raisins with the water and the ground flax, mix well again and then set aside.

In a smaller bowl combine the pumpkin puree with all of the spices then add to the larger bowl of sugar mixture.

Combine flour (s), baking soda, salt and baking powder and then add to the wet ingredients and mix until just evenly combined.  Divide batter evenly between the pans and allow to sit for another 15 minutes or so before adding to the oven.  Bake until the middle tests clean- roughly an hour. Cool partially in the pan, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack… but eating when it is warm is definately delicious too!!

One word of warning- don’t leave the kitchen to chat online about the latest political crisis… or small people may try to help themselves through means of repeatedly stabbing at the loaves and spooning out the middles… I prepared four today and frankly even the one I selected to give to my neighbour was a sad sight!

damaged loaf

One of the violated loaves

At first they did try to maintain their innocence… but eventually the crumbs tumbling out of their protesting wee mouths sold them out!

Sleeping off the proceeds of his crime

It was apparently rather filling...

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Ready or not….

The final move is happening in a matter of days now- not weeks.  Are we ready?  Not a chance!  The other house remains about 1/3 full of our belongings, a truck has yet to be booked, things are still not packed and I have yet to clear space for it all!  What have I been doing?  Meal planning…. or at least surfing the web for yummy recipes and drooling over some amazing food photography.  Food blogs and Pinterest occupy a good portion of my days… and my kids, of course- the children of course figure in there!  As a matter of fact, Maya has expressed an interest in becoming my right-hand-meal-planning-gal! Stay tuned for some awesome food idea sharing… because here, up in Folger, food is major.  We love talking about it, preparing it, and most definitely (at least most of the time) we *love* eating it!!!

My other time sucking task has been to organize.  Something about me, I love to organize- I mean it really excites me- really, but I am not very efficient… I am downright slow.  I have amazing, beautiful plans… visions of tidy rows and labelled containers dance in my head… sometimes I fantasize about winning the lottery to buy all those yummy organizational items from my dreams… and I am not even kidding.  Lately I have been obsessed with finding ways to organize our time.  Part of my goal in this move is to maximize the time we have together as a family, and to that end I have realized that a more organized family schedule is probably the right course of action.  Another thing about me… I am not good with schedules, I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal… and I am rarely in a rush for much.  And if that is not enough, I am shacked up with a Dude living in his own personal time zone as well.  But I think it may be for the best… especially for a couple of our children who really do thrive on some predictability!  First hurdle- bedtime!  My least favourite part of the day. We need a routine- and we need to stick to it, the later part will be our biggest challenge, because I am a pro at creating a plan… I really rock the planning world, it’s the follow through that turns around and kicks my butt!  So this is my plan (I figure if it is here I will at least have to make a good show of follow through!)

I have printed up a little bedtime checklist for a visual- mainly for the kids, I swear!

1) Put on PJs

2) Set Out Clothing for Tomorrow

3) Brush Teeth

4) Drink of Water

5) Use the Toilet

6) Fill in Journal (this is another experiment I will explain later)

7) Stories!!!

8) Lights Out!!!!

Wish us luck!!!

And maybe send some “listen to your parents, they are amazing” vibes…Please??

I will report back next week, if I can find my desk through the debris!

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Taking the plunge…

one reason ...

So this is my very first post… thanks to encouragement from a few really great friends I have taken a deep breath and began to type.  It can not be as scary as facing a long Canadian winter secluded away with five children hours away from civilization, right?  Because that is what we are about to do.  This is not completely new for us-we have spent a good portion of at least two winters here… the difference is this time there is no other home in the city to run off to!

We  bought our cabin back in 2007, when Arden was just starting to crawl… right around the time we discovered we were pregnant with Claire.  The idea then was to have a recreational property where the children could roam and explore and where we could just escape from everyday life.  It wasn’t long before we were madly in love.  Our cabin, fondly referred to as Folger, became the only place any of us really wanted to be.  But realistically it was too far for DH to commute to work everyday and with no internet access beyond dial up, working from home was just not an option for him.  And there were other issues too… the county did not consistently plough the roads in the winter, part of the cabin was not properly insulated, the place needed a number of repairs that we have no idea how to perform on our own, but convincing trades people to come out here can prove quite the challenge, and although we do have hydro at our property, we are at the end of the line, and repairs can sometimes take a very, very long time.  Just prior to our purchase, the local residents got together and paid to have telephone lines brought out our way, but the line was unreliable and there was no cell phone service at all.  So you are thinking, “great, a lot of changes have taken place over the last four years!” … yeah, not so much- but we do have internet now!

We have been stockpiling wood to heat us through the winter, being busy bees packing up, donating, recycling and trimming down to bring two households into one.  We are crossing our fingers that our snowblower can be repaired and that the county is kind this winter and gets to our little corner of the world early in the day!  I am working on meal plans to build our grocery lists on.. no one delivers out here in Folger and trying to squeeze in months of prep into a few weeks… because in less than three weeks this cabin in the woods will be our one and only home, for better or for worse!

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