Sunday, December 23, 2012

Beach walk at Felt Mansion

This is the Felt Mansion. I really need to actually arrange to go inside for a tour!
I haven't as yet. I keep suggesting that we do...But, we never do. So its another thing to put on my just go and do it alone list!. The Asian man who actually does my nails told me that it is fabled to be haunted! The surrounding park lands are riddled with various pathway's for walking and the soul reason we go there. Another sport that seems to be growing around this area especially here is Frisbee golf.

As I walk along through a good four to six inches of freshly fallen Oak leaves Im rejuvenated back to my childhood and I just can't help myself from kicking the leaves as I walk.. I delight in listening to the rustling sounds and crunching of the leaves. The Bear looks at me with only the slightest downward frown of his eyebrows. I just giggle and carry on!
Isn't mother nature kind to provide a blanket of warmth for the cold weather that is coming.

Its a spectacular walk. There is a lot to be seen if you look!
I was once told by a lady to walk with my head high... if I looked down at the ground all I would ever see is my feet. Although I know what she was saying at the time.
I have to disagree in this instance.

I love to look for the fungi growths on the decaying trees that are left on the ground.
There is something about this fungi that makes me thing of "The Hobbit" or a fairie village!..
In fact I watched a cute christmas chick flick that I think was called "Christmas with Holly"
It had an awesome fairie house in it that I was very inspired by....a future post!

WOW... did I just get dizzy or is this a BAD picture!
The hole that has been pecked into trees by birds  in pursuit of insects or perhaps for their own shelters.
Sorry for the poor photo but the Bear and his dog Max who is a Rotti labX, had left me and my 15 year old Springer Spaniel Corgi X way behind! Funny thing is Binx quite enjoys checking out all these things too! He doesn't walk as fast as he used to in years gone by.  He still loves to go for walks though and any excuse to go for a car ride!

Its a good 2 miles into the lake the way I go and then I like to walk WAY up the beach enjoying the feeling of the wind on my face..
(these pictures were actually taken a few days ago... we've just experienced a strong storm that created 20 foot waves... Im headed to the beach right after this to see if I can find some neat drift wood for the previously mentioned fairie house as soon as I post this!)
Still no snow on the ground around Hamilton MI...
no... Im not missing it!

It was windy. I never really did catch a photo that truely shows the size of these waves.
Jason you would of had a lot of fun body surfing in them!

Way up there somewhere is where we will walk to and then we will find another trail and walk back to the car making a circle. The dogs go home incredibly happy and ready to crash on the tile floor with the in floor heating. All of us will sleep better that night for our fresh air an exercise.
Im sure the dogs do miss the much bigger acreage we had in Alberta and being outside and patrolling the property keeping the deer out of my gardens.

Its the 17th of December and unless it gets a lot cooler and actually snows. I will probably go out on Christmas day and walk the dogs along this walk again.. Just because I can!
Christmas will be quiet here. Im trying to figure out new things to do to create new memories and traditions so that Im not sitting here constantly aware of being without family.
Again I will be happy for Skype and Facetime.

Where ever you are... No matter if there are family disagreements...
be happy that you have family to disagree with!
I wish you all the very very best for Christmas and the New Year.
Make it the best year in all ways you possibly can.
Laugh often....
Love deeply...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Creating New Traditions

In my last post I spoke of how I'm trying to create new traditions. Since there are two loves in my life that have always been there for me the first being my love of horses and the second my love of gardening.... The Frederick Meijers Gardens seemed like a natural place to head to.  I have to say that last year they put a huge big wreath of roses around the neck of Leonardo's big horse... and there was a field of pristine clean white snow that made the whole horse stand out brilliantly. But this view still just pulls at my heart strings as I walk up the path and through the woods catching my first clear view of him.
I wasn't alone on this trip. I had volunteered to take two of our Rotary International exchange students to the gardens. Meen from Thailand and Elisabeth from Norway. I wanted to see what they would think of the trees. Obviously there wasn't a tree for Thailand. Meen however was totally into the trip and enjoyed seeing all the trees and the different glasshouses full of trains and tropical plants.

This was the tree for Canada.... I had to laugh as I actually do have this very same feeling to my tree as you know from my previous post showing the decorations in our house. Is it typical of ALL Canadians? No.. I don't think they are actually trying to say that. Just to show decorations that MIGHT represent or be seen in these Country's as we will see in the next trees.

This was labeled a North American Indian  Christmas tree.

This was a English tree. I have to say that I do have two of those cones that I did buy while I was over there!. Yes... they really do put small crackers on the tree. Crackers are still a tradition for our family Christmas dinners.

This is the tree from Mexico.

Surprisingly this is Japan

Kayleigh will be enjoying a tree that has Kangaroo's down under in Australia

In Ireland they dress their tree in green felt ribbons and with Celtic symbols.

Elisabeth and Meen
under a very beautiful railway bridge that goes through a few different glass houses.
separate post to follow

Another  new tradition I've joined is the International youths annual Xmas tree  event.
They gather at one of the Rotarian's home and then leave in various cars arriving at a tree farm that actually turned out to be just right up the road from my acreage!..
We all climbed up into a wagon

our group just about filled the wagon...and we were only looking for one tree!
When we got off there was a brief exclamation of what all the various trees species were and their different attributes as Christmas trees...
Then they all literally scattered...They did however all find one they agreed on and then they cut it down taking turns with the saw.
we had hot apple cider and donuts back at the barn before heading back to set the tree up and decorate it.

Here we have Tin one of our students from Croatia

Two of the woman who stayed behind and had hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches ready for all the hungry teens when they got back. I couldn't believe the huge stack of sandwiches and the big pot of soup that they very quickly devoured before digging into all the plates of cookies.
It was a great day. A lot of fun and I'm very happy that these new Rotarian friends all included me in their activity.
Hopefully next year some of my Interact students will be available to join us.
Other activities have included going out to a Rotarian Xmas social and getting together for ladies night which included a movie and some of the most wonderful special popcorn.
I went to the Holland Santa parade and the lighting of the lights. I watched the arrival of the Sinter Klaus on his big white horse.  
We have plans to go out to some of the new movies and hopefully a day trip to a local town which is known for its Christmas spirit...
What are your favorite Christmas traditions.  Have you kept the ones you grew up with or had to embrace new ones as you got married and joined other families. Perhaps you have moved to a different country and Christmas as you knew it has changed forever.
As I'm writing these last few sentences up in my loft I can see that wisps of snow flakes are falling. We have a snow storm warning for Thursday so this snow may not amount to anything until then.
I best get out and fill up the bird feeders though so that I can enjoy the birds coming in over then next few days.
To all my blogger friends I wish you a very Merry Christmas where ever Christmas may find you this year! I have a daughter in Australia... two back in Canada. I have a friend from Calgary who went traveling with her husband to various countries Mexico being only one of the stops.  I have another new friend who just left to go and visit an exchange student she had last year from Columbia. A high school friend who is over in Thailand.
So to all of you... Where ever you may be..
Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Treasures or .......

On one beautiful day we decided to go for a drive and see if we could find this new trail that had opened up. The trail was nice. But, it was an extremely short walk and since we wanted to walk the dogs a bit of a disappointment.  So on the way home we had time to stop at this place we had pasted several times. From the road one could say it just plain looked like a junk yard. But believe me it was full of treasures! I only had my phone so I only took a couple pictures. There were what looked like props from either theatre productions or actual old movies. I did not have my purse with me so this beautiful absolutely perfect wall art got left behind!  It was the property their last day and then the owners were going to go to Florida for the winter. I'm sure that I missed my chance and it will be gone when they reopen.. I wasn't too happy with myself for this lost chance.
This is the yard.. But, once you get up inside it, it is filled with all kinds of wondrous things that could be easily used in gardens in a multitude of ways. My creative side was going full bore!
I will be scouting it out though first thing in the spring!
There was also a piece of cement sculpture of a Lady's head laying on her arm.... I visualized several ways to use that to make another mermaid in a flowerbed. Please, Please Please let them still be there in the spring!
Do you have favorite places you have found for garden art? 
Where do you get your inspiration from.
Thanks again for stopping by.
I wonder, is blogging what happens when your girls have all left home and you are a chatty person?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tis the season to decorate

It was always a tradition in our family like so many families to go out and find the perfect tree...
I grew up in Northern British Columbia, Canada where there can be a lot of heavy wet snow which would cover the trees and making it a game to find just the one. It involved hours of driving around the lake and up back roads. We would get out and walk through the forest looking for trees we had spotted while out riding checking our cows. Often we tried to mark them with ribbons which seemed to only signal to others that here is a beautiful tree! 
We would stop and have hot chocolate and eat some of my mothers amazing cookies. We would also stop in to some of the other farmers homes and visit and wish them a Merry Christmas.  Its a tradition that I also passed down to my daughters. One I truly loved. However, after going to college for Horticulture and realizing just what goes in to getting a tree to that size I just didn't feel good about cutting one down for just two or three weeks of self satisfaction. This is a personal thing.. So this year I invested in an artificial tree.  I also love the idea that I can have it up far longer and really enjoy the season and all the decorating that goes along with this time of year.
I have to say that Im enjoying not having to worry about watering it. Needles dropping or the tree getting too dried out that its becoming a fire risk!

Holland Michigan has remained warm enough that on December 10th there is still no snow!
Do I miss -27 Celsius Calgary weather.. (oh! lets not forget that we have to add a wind chill factor to that too!)  -27 C is actually -16.6 F.... BUrrrrrrrrrrrr considering that at the moment its 35 here!..
NOPE...Im not missing the weather.. I did however add some icicles to my decor!

This is my sugar plum fairy. She was bought in a year when there wasn't going to be a tree!
She was our only Christmas decoration... She is now 28 years old
 She was bought for me as an act of kindness when I was feeling so down for being so far away from my family.

I had a collection of Santa's from different countries. These two are from Russia.

I have a very soft spot for leprechauns... (VERY different from Gnomes! which is a whole
other post I must do.) I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy and can't wait for the Hobbit.

My girls commented on me getting the first couple but then they got into the spirit and bought their mom a couple more!

This little guy is travelling around the house looking for a comfy spot. Trouble is I get them situated and then forget to pack at least one or two up!

a better shot at night showing the icicles.

I have been enjoying sitting and just being at peace..

Its been an amazing first  year with so many big hurdles to get over for us.
A lot of huge challenges. The biggest is being so far apart from my girls for over a year now. Digging out all the decorations that they have made me over the years. All the memories of decorating and baking and watching Christmas movies. Going to a live theatre performance together. Shopping. They were, are my best friends. I'd really love a girls weekend for Christmas Santa if your listening..But, with these  Challenges have also came some really
wonderful rewards. I feel truely blessed every day.
My health seems to be improving.
I've joined several groups and have made a lot of new friends.
I've started the first Interact club for the Holland Rotary Club which is extremely rewarding.
I've also had what everyone else keeps saying is a tremendous first 6 months of saleing Real Estate..
My Garden is on three tours summer of 2013  Yikes!... what have I done...
Im looking forward to 2013 and all that it will bring.

Im spending the rest of December in Preparation....

Planning without action is futile
Action without planning is FATAL...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Indoor gardening

Like so many of my gardening friends I find that winter is far more enjoyable if I can have an abundance of "Green" inside to enjoy. Also like a lot of gardeners I have lived in homes where that was not always possible. Our new home in Holland Michigan however is a dream. The south end of the house is all glass and looks out over the lawn and into the privacy of the woods. From the main level you have views of three sides of the surrounding gardens.

Here's the loft. Not the actual best shot of the view from where I sit just to the right of this picture but it shows you how I placed the house plants in the railing planters and then fed them through the railing to spill over and above the island of the kitchen.
I've often wondered what the Bear really thought when he came back from one of his trips to find the entire main floor now occupied by the plants that had been out on the deck. Then just last week I actually over heard him telling someone that he couldn't imagine the house without all the plants! Thats about as close to a compliment that Im ever going to hear.

The view Im greeted with every morning..

This house was an example of why you don't just buy your house according to the photos on line. I hated the photos to this house when we were looking! They absolutely did the house no justice at all.  The way they had the livingroom set up and the furniture plus no plants you wouldn't believe how different it looked.. especially in the photos!.. Then I went out to see the acreage one afternoon with our realtor (because I was not living here nor licensed here at that time...) Bear wasn't able to go with us that day but I went just to get him to shut up about it!... I got out of the car and saw the big flower beds with groupings of trees nicely done. The pond. The waterfall. Then I walked in and saw the kitchen, started walking up the stairs and turned around to see the livingroom for what I knew it could look like. I knew that when Bear say it we would be done looking. We had found our next possible home.  That was two years ago December 28th. Bear was already living in the Michigan and I was still living in Canada. 
I went out as soon as I had officially moved here and bought myself some new house plants since I had to leave all my plants back in Canada.. Philodendron 'xanado' is in need of being potted up. I absolutely love the texture of these leaves.
I also bought another Philodendron 'pink princess' was short enough it fit under the island  and then grow so beautifully that I've taken her into the loft and she grows through the railing and hangs down towards the dining table. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it. Google it though as its spectacular.

This Burro's tail wasn't half this length. It started off hanging over the island. They really do not like to be touched though and so it needed to be moved when it got to where it was touching the island. Plus visitors just can't seem to resist touching it! So, I moved it.

This Banana tree was only 2.5 feet tall when I got him this summer. I potted him up in what looked like a over sized pot back in September before bringing him in and he has now grown the five top leaves since.... I think I hear him happily sighing as I water him and watch his leaves unfurl.
The other bluish plant beside him was a gift from a client when she moved... its a very sharp edged plant and I've now put him in the corner so he will quit grabbing my trousers or snagging my hair!

I've introduced you to 'Herk" before... if you haven't read that post you might want to check him out..
These are two of his off spring! Any takers?

Isn't this beautiful... another gift from the client who was moving and wanted to buy new plants for here home.. I took off a couple of the rosettes and put them in with the Jade below to grow them up as I have a thought in mind for some pots out on the deck next summer. Why pay for something I can possibly grow myself.

So here is a rescued Jade plant that fell apart from the same client.... Im happy to report in the month that I have had him he is starting to put out new growth all over. You can see there are other
bits and pieces of the other two blue plants growing alone just nicely too...
The trouble Im going to have with all these house plants is where to put them so I can put up a christmas tree!. Im thinking several will get put into my sewing room for a month or so.
I have been enjoying the amazing warm weather we are getting here and making the most of it by going for walks to the beach with the dogs and just sitting out on the deck or down by the pond.
I even went out last night in a long sleeved t-shirt at 9:30 and sat by the pond. It was 65 yesterday!
To cheer you all up I will leave you with this bit of happily recieved news.... There are only16 more days before the days start getting longer again!

Thank you for stopping by. I really enjoy sharing with all of you and walking through your gardens or seeing what you are doing to enjoy the winter months.
Please do come again.