Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Leprechauns

The big rumor at the beginning of December was that Douglas was not going to have a Santa Claus Parade this year.  It was going to cost too much to close the highway.  Too much for insurance.  Too big an expense.  It was cancelled.  It wasn't happening.

Forget about it.

I was actually a little relieved.

Then I got a call.

THE PARADE WAS ON.  CAN WE COUNT ON YOU FOR A FLOAT?

Of course!  We are parade people.  We live for parades.  Parades are our life.  We love parades.

Everyone in this house said Really Mom?  Really?

I told them that I would handle this.  I would come up with an idea.

And I did.

Christmas Leprechauns.  We can do this.

I've got lots of orange beards in the closet....AND....Johanna never got to wear the orange beard in March because she was away in Peru on a mission trip.  Perfect reasoning.

I asked Terry to get me a tree and Johanna to make a sign.

And I asked for a few extra friends to join us.

And that float was whipped together in no time at all.

We were getting all set....decorating the tree and putting on our beards......when a reporter from one of the local papers approached me.  He wanted an interview.

These beards.  This float.  It's all amazing.  How did I come up with this idea?

Well....I was completely out of ideas....and we were leprechauns in March for the St. Patrick's Parade and well....I had all these orange beards in my closet so I figured we'd just be Christmas Leprechauns.

I sounded so incredibly lame.

And how long did it take you to put this float all together?

I was speechless.  I was going to say that we actually just whipped all together within the last hour....ummm....my husband went to the bush and cut down a tree...

But Terry was so quick to answer that I didn't have too.  He shouted I HAD TO QUIT MY JOB TO GET ENOUGH TIME TO MAKE THIS FLOAT.

Yeah....pretty much end of interview.  I think the reporter thought we were all completely crazy.

His report is here....along with some other photos from the parade.

I'd say that we were a little bit of cuteness overload.


And this girl was so happy to finally get to wear the orange beard.  Her fingers froze while playing the fiddle as we floated thru town....she is such a good sport to go along with my crazy ideas!


The boys refused to join us.




I think our parade days are coming to an end.

The girls had a visit with Santa after.



Brenda

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Posters and Jack's Birthday and a Cake

Last week is a complete blurr.  It was the last week of school before Christmas break.

It was a whole lot of....Do you have your secret Santa note?  Sophie and Lydia's entire school plays secret Santa for the twelve days before holidays.  Some secret Santa's give little gifts everyday and some secret Santa's forget to take their notes to school everyday.  It ends up being a real pain for the parents....I've talked to several Mom's that all say....I'll be so glad when secret Santa is OVER.  It's basically some kids getting nothing everyday and some kids getting candy everyday and some kids getting junky gifts from the dollar store everyday. 

But it's over and we got thru....so let's move along.

They presented the prizes for the Remembrance Day Poster contest on Wednesday....and there were some excited girls when they got off the bus and into the truck.  I saw Lydia walking with her certificate but Sophie wasn't carrying one.  But Sophie was the first one in the truck and she said I WON FIRST PLACE.  And then Lydia said SO DID I!  Sophie had entered a coloured poster and Lydia entered a black and white....so they were in different categories...but they were both in the same age category this year.


They were most excited about the cash.  Sophie said that she now had some money for Christmas shopping....Lydia just looked at her like she was crazy.

We celebrated Jack's birthday on Thursday.

He's had a big year.  He lambed out 36 lambs this spring!



He was lucky with the spring turkey hunt.


He sat in a truck surrounded by cupcakes.


He worked all summer bringing in the hay and training his steer and lamb.


He had an excellent season showing at the fair.




He went to school for the very first time.....grade 9!


He was lucky again with the deer hunt.


He has grown up so much this year!


I made this cake on Friday for a friend.  Her Mom was turning 65.




Johanna had a couple of performances last week.  She fiddled at the "Melissa Bishop" day at school....she is our local Olympian.  Then she fiddled and played the French horn in the school band before the Ottawa Senators game on Friday night.  That was a great experience for her!

Such a busy week! 

But this week we are sitting around and watching Elf and the entire season of Mr. Bean.

And dreaming of a white Christmas.

Not really.  I was outside in a t-shirt today!

Brenda



Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Nanaimo Bars

I have been baking all kinds of Christmas treats.  But these squares have a special place in my heart.


I can bake all day and never taste a thing...but these squares....I cave.  Every time. 

They are irresistible.

They are very Canadian.

There is over a pound of butter in one pan.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.

My Grandma Helferty made these.  All the time.  She was known for her Nanaimo Bars.

She was killed tragically in a car accident on a cold January day....30 years ago.  I was 10 years old.  I remember when we were cleaning out her little apartment in town...just a few days after the funeral.  We found a very special package in her freezer.

Nanaimo Bars.

And all of us grandchildren had them eaten within a few minutes after finding them.

They were gone.  And I figured that that was probably the last time that I would ever have amazing 'Grandma Helferty' Nanaimo Bars.

But now I make them....and Johanna makes them too!  They are actually a 'no bake' square and they are quite easy!  Just a little time consuming.....as there are three layers.

Let me share the recipe with you!

Nanaimo Bars

1 cup of butter
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
2 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups coconut
1 cup finely chopped almonds (toasted is better)

Line a 9 X13 pan with parchment paper....let it come up the sides so you will be able to lift the squares out when they are all set and ready to cut.

Over low heat, melt butter, sugar and cocoa.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in beaten egg.  Remove from heat.  Add crumbs, coconut and almonds.  Press into pan.  Chill 30 minutes.  Have a game of Old Maid or Crazy 8's or something.

Middle Layer:

1 cup butter
4 cups icing sugar
4 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
6 Tbsp. milk

Mix with a mixer until smooth....I've never measured that milk....just pour in until you like the consistency.  Spread on the bottom layer.  Chill 30 minutes.  Shuffle those cards.  Time for another game.

Yes....I made two pans....


Top Layer:

1 cup chocolate chips
4 Tbsp. butter.

Melt in the microwave...about 50 seconds.  Stir.  Microwave longer if needed....get it melted but don't burn it!  Spread it on the middle layer.  Chill about 45 minutes.



Then score it....make the marks where you will cut the pieces.  You need to do this before the chocolate completely hardens....otherwise the chocolate will be hard to cut and you won't get a 'clean' cut.  It will all taste the same if you don't do this but it won't be as pretty.


Grandma Helferty didn't have almonds in her bottom layer....she had walnuts.  I think walnuts were the only nuts that they had in the old days.  I prefer the almonds.  I toast them the day before.  Just put the almonds on a cookie sheet and put them in an oven (350*F) for about 5 minutes.  Toasting them makes them so much better.

Enjoy!

Brenda

Monday, 14 December 2015

This Weather is Confusing.

This weather is so confusing.  I have to keep reminding myself that it's actually December.

I was at the grocery store last week and the clerk was trying to shove more mitts on the mitten display wall.  She had a whole cart full of mitts to put on the wall....but there was no more room to put them.  No one was buying mittens.  No one is wearing mittens.  It's just too warm.

We never got around to digging all the carrots in the garden....but it doesn't much matter.  They are fine there....and we just go and get some when we want some for supper.

I keep making those comfort foods....like soup and chilli.  And then I put them in a container and put them in the freezer....because no one wants to eat that!  It's just not cold enough outside to eat that kind of food.  I barbequed steak the other night...in the dark...on the deck.....without a coat on!

There are buds on some of the trees.  The cows and sheep are out walking around in the fields still eating up some green stuff....and actually there is some green grass coming up!  Of course we are feeding them hay like we normally do in the winter...but usually they don't wander around so much.

We had a house party on Saturday night.  The house was full of people and the yard was full of kids.  Kids out running around with no coats on!....in running shoes!  A coat was left behind at the end of the night...it wasn't a winter coat....it was a spring coat.  Who would leave their coat at a house party in December?  Usually you would freeze when you walk out the door....but not this year!




The girls were wondering if Santa would still be able to come in this weather.  I told then that he sure would....no worries there girls!  Let's pretend we live in a different country!

Brenda

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

I got a phone!

It's December!

Sure doesn't feel like it outside though.  It's so warm!  The kids are still wearing their running shoes to school....and Lydia even forgot to wear her toque today...but she won't miss it because the sun is shining.....and it's warm!

Sophie is wondering about the snow....where it is?...and about Christmas.  But I've told her that everything will be just fine.  It will snow eventually.  It always does.  Honestly....a green Christmas won't bother me one bit....I think I'm getting old!

I got a phone!  This news is HUGE.  I've just been using Terry's....or Johanna's...or Grady's....when I needed to text someone.  They told me to go and get my own....so I did....finally!

At first I thought....why did I get this....I don't need this....I don't know what to do with this.  But then I started adding all these apps....Lydia was the most thrilled with it...she has put some games on it.

And I'm now on Instagram.  I've only uploaded one photo....but it's a start.  You can follow me.  I think.  Look for Brenda.Dwyer .  I hope to add more photos of baking and farming and my life.

This blog is being neglected.  It's funny how the kids are all in school now but I don't seem to have enough hours in a day to get things done!

Brenda

Monday, 30 November 2015

The Front Room

We bought another farm three years ago.  Another farm.  Another farmhouse.  Uuuuggg.

We didn't need another house.  But every time we buy a farm....there is another house with it.

The first time this happened....14 years ago....I turned the second 'farmhouse' into 'Dwyer's Farmhouse' and we've had quite an adventure with it.  We have met beautiful families that have become friends and welcomed guests from all over the world.....it's been very good.

Many of our guests have been to the property with the 'third' house....because this is the farm with the sheep and garden...and more cows and horses.  People suggested that we turn it into another rental style farmhouse for tourists.  But I said NO....I have other ideas.

I think this what happens when a person with a business marketing diploma marries a farmer....maybe?

This 'third' house has become my baking house for the market.  We tore out the old kitchen and put in some stainless steel work tables.  It's my place to escape and bake.

Johanna has been using one of the front rooms for her fiddle and step dancing lessons.  It's a good space for her.

The other front room of this 'third' house is full of possibilities.

I've been painting and creating and decorating.


I don't have a 'before' photo.....the wainscoting was dark....the paint was very old and yellowish.


I was asked if I would be interested in catering a small wedding dinner.  YES.


But I had to get this space ready....and this wedding was just the push I needed.  


The cake, the food, the space....it was all up to me!



I bought this little table at an auction sale....it didn't look like that when I purchased it!  I think it had been in a garage for years.  It was very dirty and ugly.  I love paint!  It was the perfect table for the wedding cake.


She wanted something rustic and country.....

So I used lots of burlap, twine, pinecones and glass in my decorating.


I made them this sign as their wedding gift.


And they arrived!....I was busy in the kitchen but I managed to step out to snap these....


The photographer had some fun with that wagon of hay that had been left in the yard.


And photos at the big red door at the barn were a must....

 
Supper was served...


And then cake....


And when they had all left for the reception and the dishes were all washed....I sat down to have a glass of wine...and then I decorated this cake for the next day....


It was for a sweet girl who was turning one.


But I can't believe that my 'third' house is finally ready....I have my own 'party' house!

For nights of music and food and good company.

For birthdays and bridal showers and FUN!

A space for cake decorating and pie making classes...

I can't wait for this next adventure!

Brenda

Friday, 20 November 2015

My Buckhead

I have a farmhouse that I bake in.  It's my 'baking' farmhouse.  I bake all my pies for the market there.

It has two really nice large front rooms.  Johanna uses one to teach fiddle and stepdancing....two nights a week.  It's worked out well for her to have her own space to do this.

The other room is a work in progress.  I've been painting.  It has very old wainscoting all along the bottom half of the walls and it was dark.  I washed it a couple of times but the cloth just kept turning orange.....I decided to paint it.  With 4 coats of white paint.  I think I'm done now.

As I was painting I kept having to move this faux fireplace mantle.  It was placed in this room...in 'storage'...but I was considering taking it to the dump.  It was also dark.

Finally one day I just painted it white too.  I decided that I would use it.

And then I got this idea that I wanted some sort of antlers or horns above this mantle.  Only I didn't have any antlers or horns.

I googled and looked through pinterest but I really just couldn't find what I was looking for....even though I didn't know what I was looking for....until I came upon this picture


It was from Katie's BOWERPOWER blog.  It's here.

This is what I was looking for!  I could see this above the mantle.  Only I would do three different coverings on the three different pieces.  I could see it in burlap and lace or all different fabrics.  But I didn't have that stuff.  I just had scrapbooking paper and I was just too excited that I needed to make it RIGHT THEN.

So I drew it out on some Bristol board.  Just free hand.  It took all evening.  But it was worth it.



And then  I used my tracers and put it onto heavy cardboard.  And cut it out.  It wasn't easy.  Those curly antlers were a real pain.

And then I picked out my paper and I had to try and match it up like wallpaper because my papers weren't actually big enough to cover it.  It was big.

And it was harder than I thought it would be.  And everyone was asking me what I was doing......they shake their heads a lot at me.

I glued it all together and I was amazed.  I think they were all amazed.

And I teased the boys that I had to make my own buckhead because they had never shot me one.

But then Jack got a beauty. 


But I like mine better.


And I begged Terry to build me a barnboard back for it.

And he did!


EEEEKKKK!  I love my buckhead!

Brenda