Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Sunshine on a Grey Day

Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures. - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

My daughter and I went on an errand in the morning.  I was excited to find a camera in my pocket.   I have been wanting to take pictures of the small nearby town.  First I scoped out the little post office and the mail carrier's cool old delivery jeep.  There were too many people standing in front of it( four to be exact), so I waited down the street hoping the people would soon leave.  I was too nervous to take a picture with everyone standing around (it's a small town, you know).  After about 4 minutes, I gave up on the jeep and the post office and drove to the general store.
Our Local General Store...(see, someone is peeking out of the upstairs window at us)
  By then,  people were slowing down to see what I was doing.  My daughter started to get nervous, "Are you allowed to be taking pictures of the shops? "  It was true, even the garbage truck was watching what we were doing.  I was waiting for the local sheriff to come tap on my car window.  Unfortunately, I did not take many pictures.  Next time I will wear sunglasses and a trench coat so I will not look as suspicious...You know, a mom and a little girl can be pretty intimidating if you stumble upon them on a grey wintery day. My daughter and I did both laugh at our little adventure as we sped out of town.
Also, Today I painted my hallway.  Yeah!  It was nice to have all my children walk by and quietly watch me one by one.  My littlest son asked if he could take some of my paint to paint a picture of Winnie the Pooh(...hmm...is it that yellow? I thought).  My Eldest son just smiled and said that at least it is better than before.  My daughter kept walking by and saying,"Did you really want that colour?"  My second son Ethan, came out of the computer room to observe my work as well. He laughed and said, "Wow! Mom you made Winnie-the-Pooh land."  Alright so, maybe it is a bit too yellow.  I think I am just missing sunshine... 

We did enjoy laughing together though.  So if you ever come to my house, even in the dead of winter, you will feel as if it is a bright sun-shiny summer day...and that can't be all that bad, can it?

Friday, 24 February 2012


How did it get so late so soon? - Dr. Suess

My life has been pretty peaceful, but today I became a mother of a teenager.  My son turned 13 years old. So far, things are going well. In the last twelve hours there have not been any problems.   But they say having teenagers changes everything...we will see....
Happy Birthday Tristan!

Thursday, 23 February 2012


They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

Old houses are beautiful in many ways....
But in many ways they are not!  So, this week I decided to change my world...I have never painted a room. I have never painted any furniture....(but, I do think this bathroom(or washroom) would inspire anyone to pick up a paint brush and learn!)  My bathroom before....

And just for the cost of a can of paint...  It changed to this...

I searched the house for old fixtures and hooks...and had a completely new bathroom. I just painted the old vanity...and found an old ugly mirror from the basement...painted it and added a few decorations. Now my bathroom looks brand new, even though there is nothing new inside.

 My children's bathroom needed even more work....

Was then changed into this.....

My children's bathroom after it was attacked by a can of paint (I painted it all by myself :)

The mirror was from the hallway...my father-in-law and I added the border...to give more character to the mirror and the room....again...it was just spare wood that we found from around the house.
Painting the sink cabinet was difficult...do you know how many screws I had to remove to repaint this...my hands were sore for about 3 days...(but it was worth it!)  In addition to painting the cabinets, I sprayed all the handles silver.
The towel hook to the left of the mirror was found in the basement...I sprayed it silver as well....

My only new purchases....
4 picture frames from the dollar store
And a set of blue curtains from Walmart...

This was  my inspiration for the whole bathroom....
These were my grandmother's...she loved stained glass..
I finally found a beautiful place for them to hang...
Stained glass in the children's bathroom window
I am glad I took a risk...and decided to make a change. 
(Tonight I tackle the hallway!)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Beauty of Children

Even though your kids will consistently do the exact opposite of what you're telling them to do, you have to keep loving them just as much. - Bill Cosby

Parenthood has taught me this...to not see mistakes in the same way.  Many times we judge ourselves by our mistakes.  I have learned to say, "It's O.K." and "Don't Worry."  I hope that I can teach my children to not fear mistakes.  There is no mistake that would change their value in my eyes...a mistake would not diminish their beauty.  The only mistake that can be made is to never stand up and try again..  So what I will teach them is to stand up again...and again...
I love my children, not matter what errors they make in life.  I trust them to grow...I trust where they are going...and I trust who they will become...  And I am sure they will keep teaching me, too.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A Song For You...

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. - Berthold Auerbach

When I grew up, my mom was always singing.  I did feel as if I lived in a musical. Everything was put to music...
As we walked down country paths....she would sing, "I love to go a wandering...If I complained about difficulties with my siblings she would begin singing, with a smile, a funny song about eating worms....
If it was raining, or if I was feeling sad, it would be, "the sun will come out...tomorrow..."  She really did love to sing... 
Now, I work with the elderly, as a music therapist.  I can not count how many times my clients have told me, "My mother use to sing all the time..."  And then they would continue asking if I sang to my children too...  I wonder how many people do sing to their children today?  I think it is becoming a lost art....
Music can really lift your spirit...and help difficult situations to not seem as grim.
I do not sing all the time to my children, but I do (and did)  try to sing lullabies to them in the evenings.  I wanted to share a song with you that I wrote for my littlest son.  My second son was the cameraman.  He used my little point and shoot camera...and even did all the editing...
You will also hear a knock on the door...that is my littlest son...(I just thought it was cute so I left it in)

So this song...is my first entry into my song blog...it will be dedicated to helping mothers find songs to sing to their young children....I put a link tab at the top of my page if you would like to view the entire blog( it is located next to the about me tab).  It is just a beginning...

Friday, 17 February 2012

A Short Stormy Story

All of us could take a lesson from the weather, it pays no attention to criticism- Anonymous

I woke to the sound of howling wind.  I also could hear my puppy whimpering, nervous from the sounds. Storms in these parts do not seem rare...and it felt like we were about to get a winter storm...
The first storm I experienced in this area, I will never forget. It was the end of August...
From my window,  in the dark night, as the numerous lightening strikes brightened the sky, the trees could be seen tossing their branches violently.  At first, it was really neat to see ....All my children ran to the window in my room to watch the storm.  Even my sister-in-law and her children came to see the view from my window.  My room, being on the third floor, has spectacular views of the surrounding countryside...They pinned their little faces to the windows and watched in delight...but then the wind got more violent, and took on a new sound...a sound in the south that I was taught  to liken to a possible tornado...(hmm, third floor is not as nice any more)...and the lightening seemed to be right on top of us....I told the kids to step away from the windows...and was contemplating making everyone even go down one more level...when my sister in law exclaimed, "Wow! you have a bird in here!"  I did not see what she saw, but I knew it was not a bird, out on this dark stormy night.  I looked at her at shook my head, and said, "No, there is no bird in here, "  She excitedly said, " Really, I just saw it."  Again, I shook my head and explained that I was sure it could not be a bird. ( Do you know what it was?)  If you guessed a kind of flying mammal, you are correct.  Alright, kids away from the window...we have to catch that bat.  We did try...but it was tricky.  So we ended up locking it up in my family room and sticking a sign on the door..."BAT.  Do not enter." (We are very brave, aren't we) Then of course...we lost power...(at least we had pinned up that bat)....
So back to today....with these images still vivid in my mind...I began to wonder what kind of day we would have...
but to my surprise...when I woke up...we had blue skies ( well...maybe a more grayish blue...but close enough).
a view from our window (this picture is for my mom)

The day had actually turned out to be nice.  All the children put on thier jackets and we decided to go on a walk...thinking maybe we are going to have an early spring yet.  My children were so excited in the beautiful weather...we went down new paths...and through more fields...
exploring a new possible fort
a cool fence in a feild ( a picture for the Cussons )
Down by the lake....

Later that day... I hear..."Mom, there is a snow storm!"  and "Mom, do you know how to start the generator if we loose power?!"
I thought no way....
I calmly went to the window.... 
And you know what....

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


I would rather have eyes that cannot see; ears that cannot hear; lips that cannot speak, than a heart that can not love. - Robert Tizon

Happy Valentine's Day!  Great-Grandmother commented to me today that her country does not have Valentine's Day...and commenced to go down the very long list of other Saints Days they do celebrate.  Too bad...Valentine's Day is a nice day to tell people they are appreciated.  My father hates most holidays...because he says they were invented by Hallmark...just to sell more cards...and make more money.
We did not spend any money...we did celebrate a saint (even though he might not have been orthodox)...and the kids got to say and hear "I love you!" many times over...here is our day of hearts!

Translation:  Happy Valentine's Day.  To:KK(my son). I will always love you.  Love Anna (his big sister)
Cookies baked by my little son and his cousin

more cookies going into the oven
My littlest son's drawing for his cousins
heart made for me :)

cookie packages
to a mother

to a brother

a heart-shaped rock we saw on our walk (this one is for my friend Monica)

decorating cake pops
heart decorations

finished cake pops

Treats ready to deliver

tiny candy heart
another heart for me :)

heart for grandmother
heart for auntie

 The end!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Great-Grandmother's Doughnuts

 Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. - Theophrastus

Today I had a cooking lesson.  Not just any cooking lesson, but a cooking lesson from a grandmother (something I highly recommend).  This lesson was unsolicited...I just happened to be walking by her in her moment of inspiration.  "Christina, I want to teach you how to make doughnuts..."  Alright, I am game.  I stopped what I was doing and  took out a pencil, paper, a camera, and measuring cups (to properly measure her ingredients that she will just eyeball and expect me to remember).

 My Husband's Serbian Grandmother's Doughnuts  
(1 part recipe. 2 parts life stories)
Pranbaba Vema

2 egg yolks ( which we did not have,"ehh, its ok," she says.)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 t salt,
1/4 c sugar/ 2 Tablespoons sugar, divided
3 1/5 cup warm milk
1 pkg. quick rising yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
6  cups flour, divided
3/4 cup warm water, divided
oil for frying
optional icing sugar for topping

1. Put the first three ingredients and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl and set aside.(again...we did not have egg yolks and the doughnuts turned out fine...she said the yolks are more for colour)

2.  Add package of yeast and 2 Tablespoons sugar into the warm milk. Set aside. Wait 30 minutes  (or have a cup of coffee. Tell stories about how this recipe was learned, also from a lovely grandmother, who was a neighbour.  And more stories about working on the farm, family memories of ages past and an evil mother- in-law (who grandmother likened to a distant relative of the late German dictator)).
3.  Alternating, add 5 cups of flour and the warm yeast milk into the prepared yolk, butter, salt, sugar mixture.

4. Mix with hands until well incorporated.
5.  Slowly, add 1/2 cup of warm water to mixture.  Texture is sticky at this point.  Continuing mixing/kneeding with hands.  About 8 minutes.

6. Incorporate the remaining 1/4 cup warm water to mixture.
7.  Add 3/4 cup flour. Continue mixing from the edges in a circular motion. About 10 minutes (or a about the time it takes to tell a short story about how your doughnuts were the talk of your church and everyone lined up to eat them.. 300 were made and your hands were sore for a week)

8. Turn out dough onto a floured surface(heavily floured...the remaining 1/4 cup of flour).  Kneed for about 10 minutes (or for about the same time it takes to tell a story about how you passed this recipe to your best friend who didn't know how to cook...and then she also became the talk of the town). After which,  the dough should become very soft and smooth.

9.  Cover and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours in a warm, draft-free location. (give all your great-grandchildren kisses...and greet them for breakfast...tell them stories, too, about how they are going to eat doughnuts for lunch with lots of sugar sprinkled on top, while their mother reminds them that they have to eat something healthy first)
My nieces Amelia and Nea

10. Punch dough down (enjoy the ooohs and aaahs from great-grandchildren). Cover again.  Let Rise again for another hour (or enough time to eat a proper lunch while complaining to the children's mother, that the doughnuts are a nutritious lunch time food and why was a second meal made.)

My sugar-holic son Kaiden

11. Roll out dough to about a one inch thickness.  Cut dough into circle shapes. (We used a glass cup). 
My daughter and my niece watching

12. Transfer cut dough to another surface to rest. Cover.  Let rest an additional 15 minutes.  At this time, prepare skillet for frying.  Pour enough oil to come halfway to the top of the skillet.  Begin to heat oil over a burner on medium- low.

13.  Pick up dough pieces and put a small indentation in each one as you drop them into the hot oil.  Turning them over when they have browned on one side.  Remove from skillet once both sides are brown.

14.  Transfer to paper towel lined serving dish. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

15. Enjoy!
My son Ethan stealing a treat

Yum! my son Kaiden
All the great-grandchildren enjoying the doughnuts

Makes 36 doughnuts.
Somehow...with 8 children, 2 adults and 1 great-grandmother all of the doughnuts were eaten by dinnertime. All the children thought great-grandmother was magical and  of course, I showed the proper example of healthy eating, and ate only one (or maybe was it two...or was it, hmm,... I don't quite remember).