Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cousins

Finally these 2 had a chance to play together again - and it was so sweet!! Hugs, kisses, giggling, holding of hands and even sharing of toys - such good stuff!






Love the matching sippy cups too!



Two sisters with their daughters

Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy 75th Birthday, Mom

So, before August ends, I want to share a little bit about my Mom's 75th birthday party. The actual date of her birthday was while we were in California and our original plan was to celebrate there. Then when my Dad couldn't make the trip, the 2 of them stayed home. My sister thinks Mom was secretly glad because then she could pick her raspberries, which she loves and I think E might be right about that!

Mom thought that no one was really doing anything special for her birthday and she was a bit grumpy with Dad, I gather. But unbeknownst (I like that word!) to her, Dad was busy planning a big party at a hotel for the week after her birthday! He worked so hard to keep it a secret, order good food, invite all their friends and have a little program. He was able to carry the whole thing off with a little help and Mom was completely surprised. Here are a few pictures of what happened.



Waiting for the guest of honor to arrive.



When my parents entered, they turned away from me so I missed the whole surprised look thing.



Our 3 beautiful nieces who all helped in the talking part of the event. I love their smiles - such a genuine reflection of their personalities.




Meadow loved the balloons!



My Mom and Dad

I am so blessed to have my parents still living in their own home, driving everywhere, taking care of a huge garden, checking fences for cattle, being interested in farming and loving to visit with their friends and grandkids. My maternal grandmother died when she was 76 so this milestone for my Mom is a poignant one. I pray that our time together will be long and full of more precious moments!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mosaic of Me




1. Coloured crystal light on crystal, 2. Shakey's Pizza, 3. Beams over Pigeon Lake, 4. Orange as any orange on a tree, 5. Josh Groban's family, 6. Chill.NeSs, 7. St. Basil's stripes, 8. frozen marionberries, 9. Baggage Label Stewardess and Child - English -3, 10. Duck Family Portrait, 11. A generous harvest, 12. Shadow Dance

I saw this idea on Melissa's blog and thought it would be fun to do. If you want to play along and create your own mosaic about you, here is how you do it:

Type your answer to each of the following questions into Flickr search. Using only the images that appear on the first page, choose your favorite image then copy and paste each of the URL's into the mosaic maker (3 columns, 4 rows).

Here are the questions:
1.What is your first name? (Crystal
2.What is your favorite food? (pizza)
3.What high school did you attend? (Pigeon Lake Regional High)
4.What is your favorite color? (orange
5.Who is your celebrity crush? (Josh Groban)
6.Favorite drink? (iced tea)
7.Dream vacation? (Russia)
8.Favorite dessert? (Marionberry cobbler)
9.What do you want to be when you grow up? (I always wanted to be an airline stewardess)
10.What do you love most in life? (after God, my family)
11.One word to describe you? (generous)
12.Your Flickr name? (Crystal)

If you decide to try it, please leave me a comment so I can come and see your mosaic. Have fun!

Camping Time

I want to share some pictures of Meadow on our little trip to Jasper last week. It's really fun to camp with her - she's excited about every mountain, every rock, every trail, and every activity. She is a very good camper - even if she does want to sleep right on top of her mom in the tent!



Our first attempt at hiking was heading up the Cavell Meadows trail on a rainy day. Eventually we were all soaked to the skin - but it was a beautiful spot :)




There was so much water going over Athabasca Falls that the spray was coming over the guardrails and drenching everyone.




It's not focussed but I love the action as they were skipping down the path, saying hello to the rocks. She's either running or jumping or skipping - rarely just walking!




She would go into every river, puddle, lake, or stream that we came too! And this was cold mountain water!!




Riding on Dad's back, wearing the new rainsuit we stopped to buy




Those trees are big!




Ready for hiking with her "'ackpack"




Sitting on a mountain sheep statue in Jasper.

We really are blessed to be able to spend lots of time with our family in the summertime. I hope we can go again next year!

Ten on Tuesday



Alberta Rockies


1. Drop over to Canadian Country Gal to enter the giveaway and check out the signs that she has in her store. There are some really cool ones for fall and winter.

2. I love the sound of rain gently falling, especially after it's been so dry for such a long time. The 1/2" of rain will be a welcome drink for crops that were really showing signs of heat stress.

3. I stopped by Staples (an office supply store) yesterday and it was busy, busy with kids and parents stocking up on school supplies. Oh, my - the conversations! I was reminded of shopping with our children and preparing for another year to start.

4. I just need a few more personal hygiene items and I'll have 2 boxes ready to send to Operation Christmas Child. Feels good to have a few things started in preparation for Christmas!

5. Great conversation and food at book club tonight. And the discussion about the book was so interesting. It was generally agreed that it was a great read with some important comments about society and our relationship with God.

6. Still waiting for Heather and Jonathan's new baby to arrive. Heather's getting tired of being pregnant. I remember that feeling - none of the clothes fit and you can't get comfortable, no matter what you do.

7. I figured out that in the last year we've been away on vacations for more than 12 weeks! That's 3 whole months!! Wow, we were so blessed to be able to do so much. I wish we could do that every year :))



Iguassu Falls, Brazil side

8. We are missing the daily Olympic coverage! It was the best TV we've watched in a long time. Only 2 years until the winter games are in Vancouver and Canada gets to welcome the world.

9. By 10 a.m. today I had the bathroom cleaned and the camper completely put back together. Too bad the rest of the day wasn't as productive!

10. Taco salad for lunch today, which reminds me that I still have some salad recipes to share with you. Here goes!

Taco Salad
(from Bob's Auntie Lil)

Brown 1 lb. hamburger, stirring often, until cooked through. Near the end of cooking, add 1/4 cup salsa and mix in. Cool completely. I often do this first step the day before and keep the mixture in the fridge overnight.
Tear 1 head of washed lettuce (any kind - romaine, leaf, iceburg, red leaf or any combination) into bite sized pieces and put in a very arge salad bowl.
Spoon cooked hamburger over salad greens.
Sprinkle 1 - 2 cups of grated cheese (cheddar, jack, farmers, marble - or any combination) over salad.
Coarsely chop 1 - 2 tomatoes and add to salad.
Break 2 cups (or more if you really them!) tortilla chips into chunks over salad.
Pour bottled salad dressing (French or Catalina are our favourites - use as much or as little as you prefer) over salad ingredients and toss lightly.
Serves 6 - 8. Best served the same day as chips will get soggy overnight.

I can sit down and just eat this for a meal - it's so good - enjoy!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Simple Woman #6



Have I mentioned how much I enjoy sharing this little glimpse into my Mondays with you? It just kind of anchors me in the present and gives a quiet focus to the start of a new week.

For Today... August 25, 2008

Outside my Window... it's an overcast day and there were just a few drops of rain - wish it would rain all day because we are so, so dry here and the crops are suffering

I am thinking... how lucky I am to have good friends to meet up with for lunch and long visits

I am thankful for... a career as a teacher and now an opportunity to work part-time as a substitute teacher

From the kitchen... taco salad - one of my absolute favourites

I am wearing... casual brown pants, a paisley printed brown tshirt and sport sandals

I am reading... Flirting with Pete by Barbara Delinsky

I am hoping... that Heather and her new baby can hang on a bit yet until delivery

I am hearing... Talk Back on CBC Radio One

I am creating... a layout about shopping for school supplies (inspired by the school layouts and questions in Creating Keepsakes this month)

Around the house... I need to wash the floors and do some mending

One of my favorite things... time to spend writing my blog and reading those of online friends

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... book club tomorrow night, picking up pictures of my mom's birthday party last week, baking some Banana Brownies, delivering my friend's birthday gift as she turns 40 and getting my hair cut

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...



One afternoon the rainbow totally crossed the valley and the highway in front of us as we drove in the Rocky Mountains! It was so beautiful and lasted a long, long time. What a reminder of God's goodness and love for us.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Trivia

Here's a little something for you to play with on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon! I look forward to reading about you!




What Crystal Means



You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.

You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.

A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.



You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.



You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.

You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.

You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.



You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong.

You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know.

You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.



You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.

You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.

You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.



You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.



You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.

You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.

Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back at Home

We're home, the camper is emptied out, laundry is going, and these pictures from last week are still making me smile!



Peaches and apricots




2 batches of jam and 1 of chutney

I finished the apricot jam today (it's so yummy - definitely my favourite!) and wiped off the jars of tomatoes so everything's ready to go down on the shelves in the basement. Most of the jam is freezer type so it's frozen and tucked safely away. I think I'd still like to can a batch of pears so I'll try to find a box of those next week and the apples are ready for a day of applesauce making. I do declare, I'm feeling a little like Ma in the Little House on the Prairie books with all this summer work!

This morning I finished reading The Shack (Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity) by William Young, the August selection for our book club. Oh, my - what a read! I'm really looking forward to the discussion this month but I'm still sorting out my own reaction.



Cover illustration

"In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant THE SHACK wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him." (from back cover)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hello!

Hello, dear little blog -

I'm sorry I have neglected you this week but I have been busy climbing mountains,



hiking,



playing in the water,




looking at animals,



going to waterfalls,




chasing rainbows,




and generally enjoying a camping trip to Jasper

with these guys.



I have missed you and all of your friends but we'll be home soon.

Your Owner

Monday, August 18, 2008

Simple Woman #5

It's Monday again and I'm happy to bring you this update!





For Today... August 18, 2008

Outside my Window... it's sweltering hot (+34 degrees C) and the sun is shining brightly!

I am thinking... how nice it is to have jars of fruit and jam all ready for winter.

I am thankful for... my Mom and the 75th birthday celebration that we surprised her with yesterday . She is so healthy and active, living in her own home on the farm, driving to judge at some fairs this past week and busy canning 50 jars of fruit (some for the grandkids who are away at university too).

From the kitchen... are fresh Lemon Blueberry Muffins with sugar tops - yum!!

I am wearing... black shorts, striped top and white flipflops.

I am reading... The Shack by William Young (I need to have it done by next Wednesday for book club!).

I am hoping... that we have a safe and restful few days camping with Naomi, Jerry and Meadow near Jasper

I am hearing... Nicole C. Mullen singing Call on Jesus

I am creating... not much, besides food stuff.

Around the house... recycling with an empty sugar bag and Pectin boxes, , more canning jars needing lids, and some cucumbers waiting to be made into relish.

One of my favorite things... to hear the voices of my children as we connect via phone calls.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... camping, hiking, swimming in the hot springs, relaxing beside a campfire.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Olympic Preserving Marathon!

Since 7 a.m. this morning, I have:
- canned 14 jars of peaches
- canned 7 jars of apricots
- made 5 jars of raspberry jam
- made 4 jars of peach jam
- filled 4 jars of spicy peach chutney
- peeled 75 peaches
- washed countless sinks full of dishes
- watched my feet get bigger and bigger
- used nearly every small jar that I have in my stash
- run short of screw tops for canning jars
- listened and watch Olympic highlites on my little TV in the kitchen
- done 3 loads of laundry
- unpacked our suitcase (it had gone with my sister so we could have lots of room for the fruit on our way home)

Now I should sweep and wash the floor but i may fall into bed instead!

Monday's to-do list:
- can tomatoes
- make apricot jam
- bake peach upside down cake
- finish cucumber relish
- wipe and label all the jars from Saturday's labour

It sure does feel good to see full jars lined up on shelves downstairs and to open the freezer and see lots of choices for our winter meals.

I think I'm going to treat myself to Mama Mia next week!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Games

While we were on our summer road trip, we didn't get a chance to watch much TV so we missed the first few days of the Olympic Games. We did see some newspaper headlines and read a few interesting articles, mainly from the American perspective. It's disappointing that Canadian athletes have yet to win any medals but I think it's a reflection of our whole system with a lower population base, less money, and huge expectations on the shoulders of elite athletes. It looks like there are a few hopefuls that are now entering the medal rounds which is great.

But watching what's happening at the Games and seeing sights of Beijing has totally reminded me of our trip to that beautiful city in 2006. I thought this would be a good time to share a few pictures and memories with you.

Let's take a little look at Tiannamen Square today. It's a huge square that is known to most of us because in 1989 students protested here in an attempt to make inroads towards freedom of speech and economic reforms against the strong Communist dictatorship. The square is ringed by important buildings and is a busy place with tourists, most of them from China.

The Chinese flag flies high above the square and is taken down every night at 7 p.m..




The gate entrance to the Forbidden City, which is across the street. The square itself was once the outer courtyard to the emperor's palace but now it's an open public square. The gate was being worked on so you can see the green bamboo scaffolding in this picture.



The Great Hall of the People where the China National People's Congress, site of political and diplomatic activities. 10,000 people can be seated in the Great Auditorium.




Monument to the People's Heroes - a huge 40 meter high obelisk dedicated to the men and women who died in the struggles to make China an independent nation before the Communists came to power.



Statue in front of Mao's Mausoleum





Everywhere we went, Bob and Aime' were asked to pose for pictures with Chinese people. It got to be really funny and we teased them about all the people that would have pictures of these big North Americans and be sharing them with their families across China.



Vendors were selling (knockoff) Olympic ball hats 2 years ago already. I can only imagine all the souvenirs that are available there now.



And just some fun images taken at ground level in the square.








(Thanks to Wikipedia and beijingguide.com for help in remembering important facts!)
Maybe I'll take you on another tour of this beautiful city again soon.

Thanksliving

This post could pretty much just be about fresh summer fruits but there's more than that to be thankful for this week.

1. Our own bed! After 10 days of sleeping in other places it's very nice to be back home.

2. A chance for visiting with my parents as we drove home from Kelowna.

3. Farmers who own orchards and share the fruits of their labours (at very reasonable prices) with the rest of us.




4. That Heather and Helayna are okay after taking a tumble down a few stairs yesterday.

5. A chance to catch up a bit on blog reading.

6. Dark red dahlias gracing the dining room table.

7. Travel games like Scrabble to wile away the long hours of driving. My sister rocks at this game - she gets like 30 or 40 points per word!




8. For tiny fresh yellow tomatoes eaten straight our of Bob's parents' garden. They are amazing gardeners!!

I'm up to my armpits in sugar, peach pits and canning paraphernalia today! Back later!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Scenes from the Orchard

Some little glimpses from the Okanagan today!


















We brought home 40 lbs. of peaches, 25 pounds of apricots, 20 lbs. of blueberries and 20 lbs. of tomatoes - I have some work to do in the next few days!!