Halifax, shopping, Chrissy, Paul, a loon, and an owl

Recapping the week…

Last weekend I went to Halifax for a few hours of shopping and a haircut. I also treated myself to a brow wax. I may be a hermit to rarely leaves the house, but sometimes it feels nice to shed a layer, so to speak, and morph back into a lady 😉 Of course waxing makes my skin red for a day or two. Evidence:

IMG_4442

Then I went to my friend Chrissy’s for the night. She battled a bbq flame with a mind of its own, and made us a fabulous dinner of bbq’d chicken and steak with a really nice spinach and berry salad. Here is the new kind of beer I tried out on her deck in the sun. It was a grapefruit beer – half fruit juice, half beer, low alcohol. I liked it!

IMG_4443

I came home in time on Sunday for Jeff’s smoked wings he cooked in his smoker. He made two kinds, a herby one, and a really spicy one. Both were equally as good!

IMG_4449

The spring thaw

The snow slowly continues to melt away. It rained quite a bit this week, but it didn’t take all the snow. The melt seems fairly slow which is keeping all the flooding in check. Just the usual lowlands areas are under water. Our front deck is clear of snow now, and the back deck will be in another day or two.

A Visitor!

On Wednesday afternoon, I was working in my office when I heard a vehicle pull up the driveway. This doesn’t happen often. Mail lady? Power meter reader? Delivery? No! It was Uncle Paul! He had been down in Boston to cheer a friend on in the Boston Marathon and then drove up here afterwards just to see us! What a surprise!

Of course the house wasn’t clean, but oh well! We drank duty free Mooseheads, ate pork chops that Jeff bbq’d, and as a real bonus, Uncle Paul fixed our front door! Now it closes and we don’t have to keep the two-by-four wedged between the door and the staircase to hold it shut 😃 👍

It was nice to have Uncle Paul visit and reminisce about my childhood. I had the best childhood anyone could ever have. I was raised on a dairy farm, oldest of three kids, and 3 of my dad’s brothers worked on the same farm. Uncle Paul even lived with us in our house for awhile. I was a lucky little kid to have my uncles around to teach us things, and always be advocating for us in the background. Uncle Paul let me drive first when I got my beginner’s permit, he bought me my first tall boy beer cans when I turned 19, and even came to the Sault to help me insulate the crawl space of my first house. If only every little kid was so lucky to have so many incredible uncles and aunts around to help raise them right.

Paul just spent the night before he had to head for home. It feels pretty special when someone comes a couple days drive out of their way just for a quick visit!

Wildlife updates

Last night Jeff saw an OWL! It landed on the front lawn as he was heading up to bed. It sat on the snow on the lawn for a couple minutes and then flew up into the tree for awhile. REALLY cool to see an owl, that doesn’t happen too often!

Tonight on our walk we spotted the first loon to make its way back to our area. The lake we live on is still frozen, but the next one down that we walk around has about 30% of it open now. The loon was just floating out in the water, watching the world go by.

IMG_4462See the loon? It is the speck near the middle of the photo, out on the water, near the edge of the ice.

 

Thaw continues

Here is the current view from my office.

The lake is still frozen solid. We have a rainfall warning in place for later today and tomorrow so maybe there will be some flooding pictures coming up soon!

5:16 AM ADT Tuesday 21 April 2015
Rainfall warning in effect for: Antigonish County

Rain, heavy at times is expected. The ground, already near saturation, has little ability to absorb further rainfall.

A low pressure system developing over New England this morning will spread rain across the region later today before ending Wednesday by late afternoon. Rainfall amounts of 25 to 50 mm are expected.

Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Don’t approach washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts.

Spring thaw is underway

Jeff was busy this past weekend, so I had each day all to myself. On Saturday I was hoping for deck weather, but it looked pretty grim:IMG_4368

I watched 3 movies back to back, movies Jeff would never have sat through, but I really enjoyed them!

And then the sun came out so I grabbed a beer from the fridge and decided to spend a couple hours on the front deck. Getting to the deck chair took a bit of climbing over and through snow, but I made it!IMG_4370

Thankfully the sun had melted all the snow off one of the chairs already!IMG_4371

What a spectacular view, clean fresh air, and peacefulness:IMG_4374

And the sun was pretty warm! I decided to tan for awhile:IMG_4375 IMG_4376 IMG_4377 IMG_4381 IMG_4382Sunday didn’t go so well.

I decided the snow and ice had thawed enough on the driveway that my car stood a good chance of getting back up the driveway. I checked the movie listings and decided to head over to New Glasgow at noon to watch an afternoon showing.

I got cleaned up and put some nice clothes on, moved my stuff into a new bag I had bought online, and headed for my car. My car hasn’t left our property since mid-January. After every big snow fall we moved it a bit and let it run awhile to thaw the snow and ice.

On Sunday it didn’t start :(

And that is when it hit me. I’ve done okay playing the hermit role, the kept woman, the wife who only leaves home once a week with her husband for groceries and maybe a dinner out, until that car didn’t start. Suddenly I was a prisoner. Sick to death of my house, my isolation and the sight of it all. I was sick of it all. I was sick of the view out every window. I wanted out, I wanted to see something, I wanted to do something. There is nothing you want more than what you can’t have when your car doesn’t start.

So I moped around.

Later that evening, I made my way back to the deck just as the sun was setting:

IMG_4393 IMG_4396

It started snowing right afterwards :) Just light little flakes though.

On Monday after work, we had to go to New Glasgow for a couple things. I was texting with Julie on the way home. She sent us a selfie of what she was up to, so we reciprocated. I have no idea why we both opened our mouths, this was not choreographed, I swear!IMG_4405

 

Tonight we had a nice walk on the far side of the next lake down from ours, Lochiel Lake. I was really grumpy after spending all afternoon at the mechanic today trying to get my car fixed and finding out it is a fishing exercise and they’ll probably never be able to solve what ails it.

But the minute I started walking along the lake I was cured of my grumpiness. It was a cool evening, bit of a wind, and everything has started to melt and the run off has begun. That lake is really started to open up. Here are some pics:

IMG_4412 IMG_4413 IMG_4415 IMG_4416 IMG_4418

People were ice fishing here just last week!IMG_4419 IMG_4421 IMG_4422 IMG_4423 IMG_4425 IMG_4426

 

 

20150405-20150405-DSC_0040

Easter Sunday drive

It was unexpectedly sunny today, so we went for a drive. We headed down to Aspen, then took the back highway to New Glasgow, through Garden of Eden. Then we went up to Merigomish, Arisaig, and Cape George before heading back to Antigonish and then home.

We saw many deer, as usual this time of year. I bet they can’t wait until the snow melts so they don’t have to hang around the roads anymore. Here are some deer on the St. Mary’s River in Aspen:Two deer standing on the snow and ice along the St. Mary's River. Two deer standing on the snow and ice along the St. Mary's River. Three deer standing on the snow and ice along the St. Mary's River, one nibbling on a tree. Two Canadian geese walking along the edge of the ice on the river.

Up in Arisaig, the Northumberland Strait is full of ice as far as the eye can see!Jeff pointing out at the ice clogging up the Northumberland Strait. Looking out over the Northumberland Strait that is full of ice. Looking out over the Northumberland Strait that is full of ice. Looking out over the Northumberland Strait that is full of ice. Jeff in front of the little Arisaig lighthouse. Selfie shot of Jeff and I in front of the lighthouse. Adding photo descriptions for you Aunt Dona!

 

There were three people playing hockey on the frozen wharf.

From the lighthouse, looking over the wharf where two people are seen skating on the ice.

Over by Cape George, there were a few breaks in the ice.Looking through the trees over the water, only most of it is ice. Looking down the road and along the coast. Photo showing the view off Cape George, with the Cape George Point sign in front.

There was a lot more open water in St. George’s Bay.

Saw my first robins of the season today too!

Update: 7pm and snowing heavily!

 

Jeff’s birthday cupcakes

I decided to try something new for Jeff’s birthday cake this year, and make cupcakes instead of a big cake (since there are just two of us).

I tried a totally new kind of a recipe, cupcakes without flour, and without white sugar. I made these grain-free chocolate cupcakes:

http://www.honestbody.com/grain-free-chocolate-cupcakes/

The only ingredient I didn’t have was the coconut flour, but luckily Sobey’s (grocery store) had it. The recipe was for a dozen, and I was only supposed to fill them half way, but I had enough to fill them almost all the way, so they of course overflowed a bit. They sunk a bit in the middle too.

The only sweetness in them is from the unpasteurized Nova Scotia honey I used.

IMG_4305

The recipe for icing is made of just butter, unsweetened cocoa, and raw honey. I missed the part about requiring piping for putting the buttercream icing on the cupcakes, so I just put the icing in a zip lock bag and cut the corner off, which worked, kinda, except now it looks like poop on cupcakes! HA!

IMG_4314We just had one and I’m impressed. The cupcake was good, like a regular chocolate cupcake, maybe a wee bit drier than the kahlua chocolate cake I usually make for Jeff’s birthday, but that has pudding and yoghurt in it for moisture. The icing was really sweet, too sweet for me. I’m not sure they even need icing, or definitely a whole lot less icing, the chocolate cupcake alone was tasty enough, but birthdays need a bit of splurging.

 

There is a weasel in my house

On Monday morning, I carried my laptop down into the basement, while listening to some news coverage of the crash landing of the plane at the Halifax airport over the weekend.

Jeff had thrown down wood the night before, so there was a nice little pile still on the floor near the basement walkout, that were drying as the snow melted off, so I could select just the right pieces to get the fire started. The perfect fire is an art form you know.

I got the fire going, and settled back into work, sitting in front of the woodstove with my little tv tray table for my laptop, facing towards the firewood on the floor.

All of a sudden I saw a cute little white face appear above a piece of wood, freeze, and watch me. A mouse? No, it is pure white, and oh so cute, what is that thing!? I think it is a weasel!

Suddenly it dashes off and disappears below the wood. What on earth? Is that one of those ermines I’ve heard of, the illusive little white creatures?

It poked up again to stare at me again. Since my fingers were already on the keyboard, I quickly switched windows to send Jeff a message at work that looks like this:
Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 10.09.56 PM

I saw that weasel in the pile of wood, running under our basement shelves, I heard him rustling over by our basement sink, I heard something scatter across the floor above my head, then he was on top of another shelf staring at me. SO CUTE, I wasn’t scared of him at all, but he moved so fast I couldn’t get a photo. In fact, he moved so fast, I thought there must be two of them for awhile!

So I opened the basement walkout door hoping he would run outside. It was -17C on Monday morning so it was getting chilly fast. At one point, he ran towards the door, and he had a mouse hanging from his mouth! He dropped the mouse in the woodpile, and ran back the other way.

OK, so I was a little scared of him running up my pant legs. Stupid cartoons. I tucked my pants into my socks.

Once the sightings stopped and I couldn’t hear him rustling anymore, I closed the door. Jeff wanted to know how big it was and decided he should come home to figure out what to do. He/she wasn’t large, maybe 6 inches long max, including his short stubby tail with the black tip on the end.

Jeff borrowed a live trap from the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and set it in the basement with a can of sardines for bait. We closed the basement, expecting to soon hear the cage, but nothing.

In the meantime, we researching just how vicious these things can be, and they’ve been known to take out small animals like rabbits with their big sharp fang teeth. OH NO, what about SALLY our cat?

And how did we get a weasel in our house? Did it run in when Jeff had the door open to throw down wood the night before?

So fast forward to the present, two days later. We’ve had no sign of the weasel. Is he curled up somewhere, sleeping off his big mouse snack? Did he run out the door and I missed it? Does he have another way to get in and out of our house? The mice and shrews figure out how to get in, did he too? Or what about the drain in the basement floor. It leads out around the perimeter of the house, and then exists over the front hill. We could go look at that to see if there are any fresh tracks at the other end. Well. No we can’t. Everything is still covered in 3 feet of snow. I couldn’t walk there. Or I could with my snow shoes! Which are in the shed, which is frozen shut and buried with snow. Hmmmm….

My brave hunter husband put the cover on the basement drain. We had it open to put the hose from the dehumidifier down it. (I bet that is how snakes get in our basement too.) He put a trail cam on the live trap, covered up the 3 sides of the trap, and even sprinkled some flour on the floor to capture any footprints!

We’ve locked Sally in our bedroom with us for the last two nights so she doesn’t go hunting weasel in the middle of the night and end up as the prey. (How would a weasel even eat a rabbit I wonder…)

It looks like these creatures that you’ll find if you search “ermine” on Google Photos:

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 10.25.05 PM

 

Since we haven’t had any sign of it, I guess we’ll leave Sally loose in the house tonight so we can get some sleep. She doesn’t go in the basement anyway. Not that I’m that convinced the weasel only stayed in the basement….

IMG_4247

Weekly recap: Tomato baby, squirrel, ice, Monty, and healthy eating

Some highlights of the past week!

I was so worried about the red squirrels who disappeared for a couple days after the big snow fall last week, but they are back with a vengeance! Here’s one taking a walk across my new screen!

IMG_4261

Updates from my indoor garden – the first tomato is forming! These are a small tomato species, so hopefully it’ll fully mature and I’ll soon eat my first homegrown, indoor tomato! I have a fan blowing on them so the flowers vibrate enough in the wind to pollinate/fertilize. Looks like it worked!IMG_4266

Weather wise, the past week has seen more snow, rain, sunshine, but it hasn’t ever been too warm. We took Monty for a walk on this icy backroad earlier this week. IMG_4256

Here’s Monty being goofy after our walk, hanging upside down on my lap.IMG_4249

Healthy eating has continued. I’ve gone a month now without fast food, pop, or junk food. I’ve minimized added sugar (except from natural sources like maple syrup) and have minimized wheat flour. I feel good, and I’ve slowly been losing weight. At this rate, it might take a couple years to get to the size I’m supposed to be, but slower sounds more permanent to me.

Here’s the start of a shrimp, tomato, fresh basil in butter dish I served with rice noodles. Fresh basil is so incredible!IMG_4243

And here is one of the many stir-fry’s I’ve made. This one I made with some jasmine rice we bought awhile back, and I quickly fried the vegetables in coconut oil which gives them a great flavour, especially with the jasmine rice. I can physically feel the higher glycemic index value of the jasmine rice though so I don’t eat it often. It does taste delicious though!IMG_4247

 

I’ve had a bad chest cold for a couple weeks, probably a chest infection, after using a really old and expired inhaler (dumb). Something with the phlegm in my chest has mucked up my smelling ability. All balsamic vinegar smells and tastes exactly like alcohol swabs now (the packaged swabs that my nurse mother always came home from work with in her pockets). I was convinced our Modena balsamic vinegar went bad, but the brand new jar smells the same to me. Hopefully that’ll resolve soon! Until then I’m having my salads naked, or with just a bit of olive oil.

And a quick weather update before I go: It poured rain all day today, making our thick, ice-covered driveway pretty treacherous. Our mailbox has been buried since the last big storm, so we asked the mail lady to hold our mail in town. The snow has melted enough now that we can see the top of the mailbox, but it is several feet away from the cleared portion of the road still. 10+cm of snow coming tonight and tomorrow! I’m happy it’ll whiten up the snow mountains :)

IMG_4235

It is still snowing!

Our neighbour Buddy came by with his tractor this morning to plow us out so Jeff could get to work.

I just went outside to try to fill the bird feeders for the hungry birds. Unfortunately the bird seed is in the back of my very buried car so I had to shovel my way into the hatchback with my arms to move enough snow to open the car to get the bird seed.

Here’s a few more photos I took while walking/crawling around:

IMG_4227 IMG_4229 IMG_4230 IMG_4231 IMG_4232 IMG_4234 IMG_4235

IMG_4237

IMG_4238

IMG_4241

Basement walkout

 

20150318-20150318-DSC_0220

An impressive amount of snow

Today is the third blizzardy day of the last 4 days.

Right now, the snow in the backyard is deeper than my thighs, almost up to my waist! We have to shovel our way OUT of the house door. The snow on the front porch is half way up the front door, and that door is a foot higher than the deck!

Our neighbour with the bucket tractor is going to come in the morning to try to plow us out, if it stops snowing by then.

Overall, we’ve had more snow fall at once before, but the accumulation over the last few days is impressive. The driveway was plowed out yesterday, in fact it was still pretty empty this morning. Not now!

Here are a few pictures from tonight:

20150318-20150318-DSC_0214 20150318-20150318-DSC_0216 20150318-20150318-DSC_0217 20150318-20150318-DSC_0218 20150318-20150318-DSC_0221 20150318-20150318-DSC_0223 20150318-20150318-DSC_0224

 

The backyard fence is six feet tall. Not anymore!20150318-20150318-DSC_0228

Here’s a cute one of Monty this afternoon:

IMG_4214

I’ll take some more tomorrow after we get plowed out!