Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Terrible Beauty ....

It has been an interesting week.   In my December
21st post I had a photo of some of the cherries on
our cherry tree after the Friday night ice storm.  Well,
on the night of the 21st we had another ice storm and
that one was much worse.    Compare the previous
picture of the cherries to the one above and you'll
see what I mean.

We knew that the storm was coming of course so
we were expecting some degree of damage and
loss of services.   Most churches, including ours,
sent out word that services the next morning
would be cancelled in expectation of loss of
electrical power and treacherous road conditions.
That was a shame because the Sunday before
Christmas is always a wonderful service ....
lots of beautiful singing and candles and
decorations and joy!!

All night on Saturday night DH and I lay in bed and
braced ourselves whenever we heard a sharp, loud
"CRACK" followed by a whoosh and a "CRASH".
The sound of tree branches snapping off and dropping
to the ground.   We have a big old maple tree in our
yard and that night a great many of it's branches
came down, landing not only in our yard but
also in the yards of our neighbours.   One large
branch landed squarely on the roof of a 
neighbour's shed putting a V shaped dent
in it.

Occasionally we'd be startled by a vividly bright
white flash of light followed immediately by a
blue flash.   Another transformer blowing on a
neighbouring street.

The storm lasted much of the night and we woke
up the next morning (after a night of very little
sleep) to a sight of both breathtaking beauty
and heartbreaking destruction.

Ice many inches thick covered everything.   Slender
wires, tree branches, blades of grass.  It was 

The power was out in our neighbourhood and 
indeed it was out all over the southern Ontario 
region where the storm had swept through.
We are lucky enough to have a gas fireplace
so we at least had heat that day.   DH kept it
on high throughout the day and it was surprising
(not to mention gratifying) how well it was
able to keep most of the house reasonably
warm.    I spent the afternoon wrapping
Christmas presents in our bedroom and 
was pretty good albeit with layers of 
warm clothing on.   

The storm passed on late in the morning and
people started to cautiously venture outside
to survey the damage.    The most obvious and
sad result of the storm was the damage to the
trees.    If you were lucky ... just a few 
branches down .... a little less luck .... major
branches down .... and the saddest of all
were the trees that were either split down
the main trunk or with the main trunk 
snapped right in half.

A corner of our street.    Branches covered in ice,
 broken branches and wires a lot lower then
they should be.

In our backyard.    Our birch tree clump is five
trees growing in a ... well .... clump.    One 
tree had it's top snapped off.   The second
is as you see it above.   Bowed right over and
frozen to the ground.   A third trunk was bent
over and it's branches mixed in with and frozen
to our Mountain Ash tree.

Our deck.    The tangle of branches is from the
Mountain Ash tree, the Birch trees and the
trees and bushes in our neighbour's yard.

On Christmas Day and Boxing Day we had
snow.   The above picture was taken after
the snowfall on those days.   Pretty.  But
adding to the weight of the ice on the 
fragile tree branches.

A tree on our street.

The sounds of chainsaws roared through
the neighbourhood that Sunday as people
worked to remove dangling branches
and trim the jagged tears on the surviving
wood.   All the while keeping away from
anything that was touching or tangled in
with the telephone, cable or (worse) 
hydro wires.

Power was out all over and it would be
a long, painful process to restore it all.
Our power came back on Monday 
morning at 6:00 am.   Many of our
friends didn't get their power back until
late Christmas Eve evening.    Some
people are just getting their power
back this weekend.  We drove to work
on Monday morning through darkened
neighbourhoods and towns.    Some
rural side roads were blocked by police
cars as they were littered with fallen 
tree branches and/or hydro wires.

Many people lost fridges and freezers
full of food and had to throw out the
fixings for their Christmas dinners
which spoiled after several days without

Christmas Eve our friends the O'Briens,
their son Ian (our godson) and their two
budgies came to stay.   Their power
actually came back on not long after
they arrived at our place but they stayed
overnight and had Christmas dinner
with us because their house was so cold
after three days without heat and needed
time to warm up again.   

It bears repeating that DH and I were so 
lucky to have our power restored so 
quickly. We take such things as electricity 
and heat for granted all of the time that we
have it and it takes events like this ice
storm to remind us to appreciate what
we've got.

My main Christmas gift from DH this year
was a Cuttlebug for scrapbooking and 
crafting.   I'm so delighted to have this
little machine which both cuts shapes in
paper from dies and also embosses patterns
right into the paper.  I'm going to have a
lot of fun with this little cutie!!!
(Judy rubs hands together and 
hugs machine .... and DH) 

For myself I got me a copy of this lovely
Zentangle book which I recommend 
highly.   It's full of designs created by
Zentangle artists from around the world
and there is so much to look at and be 
inspired by.   I've been going through
this book from cover to cover and then
back through again.

I thanked me very much for this 
wonderful gift.

Yesterday I made this.   There are still
a few bits to tangle in but most of it
is done.   Fun!!

The cats are happy to have the heat back on
and life returning to some degree of normality.
DH and I are off until after New Years and
enjoying our holiday.   Hope that yours was
a wonderful one too.

Best wishes for the New Year to you.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sending Love and Best Wishes to All on this 
wonderful, magical day.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

For all that we live in the so called "Great White
North" it's actually rare for us to have a true white
Christmas.   A slushy, rainy Christmas perhaps and
on occasion a green one too, but a true white 
Christmas with snowfalls a foot deep or so (or at
least deep enough to cover the still green grass) is
frustratingly rare.

We (I) were resigning ourselves to yet another green
Christmas until last weekend when we had several
nice dumpings of snow.   Everything was buried in
a lovely, crunchy blanket of sparkly snow and a
white Christmas was tantalizingly close to being a

Then the temperatures began to rise on Thursday.

And here is the results as of this morning.   It rained
quite a bit overnight and this morning everything
is covered in a thick coat of ice.    Trees, bushes,
the car and (worst of all) the roads and sidewalks.

The thing is last nights storm is not the
BIG one that the weather forecasters have
been warning us about all week.   That
storm is due to hit tonight in the form of
a "significant" ice storm.

Just got a call to let us know that church is
cancelled tomorrow morning because of the
expected dangerously icy conditions and the
likelihood of power outages.   Which is a
shame because it's the Sunday before 
Christmas so there would have been lots
of carols sung, and all the joy and excitement
that the most wonderful day of the year 

Usually we do our grocery shopping after
church on Sunday but because of the 
weather decided that it would be prudent
to get it done early today instead.   

This afternoon I baked 8 dozen mini raspberry
tarts and another batch of shortbread cookies
and a dozen mince meat tarts.   The power 
went out briefly in the middle of it all but 
thankfully that only last for about 10 

I'd bake tonight but I think that'll be pushing
my luck if the storm is as bad as they think
it will be.    I don't want to have a batch of 
something in the oven and the power suddenly
go out.

Just got a call from friends who live in Georgetown
as well but they are on the other side of town from
us.   Their power went out an hour ago and they
wanted to see if we still had ours.   

A bit of stitching has been done this week.   I watched
White Christmas on DVD last night and worked on
this project while listening to Bing, Rosemary and
Danny sing!    Love that movie.

Last Sunday was the Christmas cantata performance
at Church.   Phil has been working with the rest
of the choir, plus extra volunteers, practising every
Thursday night since October and Sunday night
they nailed it!!!   They do a cantata every year for
Christmas and it's something everyone looks 
forward to.   After the performance there was
cookies and hot apple cider for all.   Yum!!

The Christmas tree and Poinsettias at
the front of the church last Sunday 

So, we will be keeping busy tending to the 
last of the Christmas preparations in the 
next couple of days.   Hopefully once
this nasty weather passes it'll be nice
for Christmas Eve and Christmas


Saturday, December 14, 2013

What do you do when you have a few days off in 
December???    If you're me you bake!!!    Lots!!!

Everything that I've made so far sits on the old car in 
the (cold) garage.    I baked on Thursday and on Friday
with the tally so far being as follows:

Shortbread cookies  60
Ginger-Butterscotch cookies 50
mini pumpkin loaves   8
Hootycreek cookies - about 70
Peanut butter temptations  48
Creamy chocolate fudge - not pictured
Fudge cakes     2

Hootycreek cookies have white chocolate chips,
dried cranberries and chopped pecans in them.
And no, I haven't a clue why they are called that.

The peanut butter temptations are a peanut butter
dough, cooked, which then has a mini Reeses
Peanut Butter cup shoved into the centre.
To Die For!!!!

Last year I made maple flavoured fudge which
for some reason never set.    I ended up with
maple flavoured sauce instead.   It didn't go
to waste as we used it on ice cream and to dip
goodies in but it wasn't quite what I'd had in 

This year I tried a different recipe which used,
among other things, marshmallow fluff as
an ingredient and it turned out perfectly.

Some of the baking will be given as 
Christmas gifts to neighbours and the
rest will be served to anyone who drops
in to visit during the holidays.

You're all more then welcome to come
and partake if you're in the area.

Oh, I still have raspberry tarts, mince meat
tarts and perhaps Marzipan Squares to 
make .... all of which require at least
two batches of home made pastry.  And
I'll also make Cream Scones but I'll do those
closer to Christmas.

In the mail this week I received a sweet
surprise from Paula in Portugal (no blog).
This dainty little Christmas tree.   Paula
has stitched in gold thread neatly all around
the outside of the tree with perfect stitches.
Since we don't have a tree in the kitchen
that is where this evergreen treasure has
taken up residence for the holidays .... where
I can admire and enjoy it often.

Thank you Paula.

We've had some snow here today.  Probably not as
much as other areas, but enough to cover the grass
and give us hope for a white Christmas.

It's the first major snow storm of the season.   It's
been bitterly cold here this week which is funny
because a few months ago the weather service
was telling us that we were going to have a milder
then normal December and January and a green 

Or not?

On Tuesday I took the Go Train into
Toronto and met my friends Darlene
and Elaine for a day of fun and Christmas

The picture (above) was taken in the Eaton Centre
mall before the stores opened.   This tree
dominates the centre of the mall.  Those
reindeer seen to the right of the tree in the 
above picture are made up of steel bands 
and ornaments and lights and are to be 
found all over the mall.

Looking up, into the centre of the tree.
Pretty cool, the ornaments are inside
the tree instead of on the outside.

And this is me posing with the head of
one of those reindeer behind me.

We had lunch at Swiss Chalet with all three of
us ordering the Festive Special.    Quarter
chicken, stuffing, fries, cranberries and a crusty
roll.   And hot chocolate!!   Delicious!!

Our next destination was the Distillery District
a half hours walk from the centre of downtown
Toronto where there was a Christmas market going.

The Distillery District is the site of the Gooderham
and Worts whiskey distillery.   The buildings are
of the Victorian era and have been beautifully
restored and turned into shops, restaurants, 
art galleries and theatres.

It has a definite Dickensian feel to it as you can
see in the pictures.

One of the Christmas market stalls.   

I don't know if these people had heaters or 
something in those stalls with them, although
I suppose that might have been a fire hazard
since the stalls are all made of wood, but it
would have been pretty darn cold without
something of the sort.

Carollers performing on the stage.   

We walked around the cobbled streets,
popping into the stores both to check out
their wares and to warm up a bit.   It was 
a windy, bitter cold day to be outside.

I loved the old buildings .... so full of 

And here are Darlene and I freezing along
with a deer friend of ours. 
Ahem.    Sorry.

We walked back to the centre of Toronto
afterwards with one more stop at a Tim
Hortons for more hot chocolate and
cookies before heading our separate
ways home.

I've got most of my Christmas shopping
done so now it's time to begin the
wrapping and decorating and making
sure the cat (Rupert) doesn't end up as
a part of someone's gift ... given how
much he loves getting into boxes.


Saturday, December 07, 2013

The traditional Christmas events that make the holiday
season so special and so much fun are happening now
as we enter December and the days leading up to 
Christmas pass by.

Last night was Holiday Magic .... when the shops
on Georgetown's main street stay open late and there 
are special things on offer such as cups of hot apple
cider and cookies, and free colouring books for the 
children at the White Rabbit second hand book store
and horse and buggy rides around the side streets.

Knox Presbyterian church - which is located right 
in downtown Georgetown - had a Christmas market in 
their basement with vendors selling everything from 
garden produce to home baked goodies, hand made 
jewellery and hand knitted winter wear plus lots more.

I figured it would be a great opportunity to do a
bit of Christmas shopping and so arranged for DH
to meet me there after work.   Good sport that he
is DH acted as my parcel bearer making occasional
trips back to the car when his arms could no longer
hold everything.

I crossed a few names off my gift list and we had
fun listening to various groups of carollers and to a one 
man band and we laughed at the antics of the
"tin soldier" on stilts.  

In the front window of one store was this
tree that snows.   Snow comes out the top
and sprays downwards until it is caught
in the umbrella like skirt below and recycled
back up (through the trunk I presume) to 
fall again.

A novelty but not very practical to put in
a typical household with kids and/or pets
I would think.   And yes, these are available
for sale.    I can just see my two cats jumping
into that umbrella skirt and "snow" flying 
everywhere.   No thank you.

And speaking of the cats.   Here's Rupert in one
of his favourite boxes.   I've put a blanket in this
one so if he wants to nap in there he'll be comfortable.

Phoebe under the Christmas tree.

The tree skirt is forever being pounced
on, burrowed under and pulled at as
the cats play tag and generally get 
rambunctious below the branches
whilst the tree overhead sways and the 
ornaments jingle and someone (me) 
starts yelling.

Tonight is the Christmas gathering for
DH's work.   We're going to Tucker's
Marketplace which is someplace that
I've never been before.  I'm told that
its a buffet which is great because I'm
greedy  I love having multiple choices
of dishes instead of having to try and 
make a single meal choice.

 I went to the hair dressers
this week and had my hair chopped off
and coloured.    I've been growing it out
this year but I'm afraid that I don't have
a lot of patience when it comes to fussing
with my hair and the longer it gets the more
frustrated and annoyed I get with it. 

I reached the end of my rope this week.

Since I wanted it to look half decent when
we went out for dinner Saturday night I
had the deed done.   I'm relieved.

I have one day of work this coming week
and then I'm off for four days.   During
that time a trip into Toronto is planned
to check out the Christmas decorations,
do a bit more shopping and lunch with
friends.    Then I plan on getting as 
much of my Christmas baking done as
possible.     And perhaps some gift
wrapping as well.    We'll see.