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Our year in review 2011

It's been a busy year! I can't believe tomorrow will be January. I hope you all had a wonderful year.

Here's some notes on how our year went...

I started Cardio Kickboxing in January - some actual kickboxing pad-work with cardio. It's tons of fun... and sweat. You know the instructor is good when he says "Ok, stand up" and everyone is an aching puddle on the floor. Combined with my other classes I can now do 20-30 pushups, rock on!

In February, Sean and I beat our longest cross country ski in one day and skiied 26 km.

I baked a bunch!

Chai shortbread cookie dough: hee!

In June, Spunkmeyer passed away. Rest in peace and eternal frolicking war dances, my shadow.

Spunkmeyer under the tree

In the summer, Dad and later my sister visited us. First time for both of them to see the house and Leroy. It was fun!

Ben & Leroy

I did lots of running with Leroy, but only worked up to week 4 of 5K-Learn-to-Run.

Tired dog

Dad helped us build two garden boxes and we had our first vegetable garden at the house! We also planted two hydrangeas in the front, plus irises and hostas from my wonderful coworkers. We planted a mock orange and peony in the backyard, but I'm not sure if they'll survive.

Vegetable box A - day 73, side view

My coworkers made sushi cupcakes for my birthday!

Cait & Kelly are amazing! They made me sushi themed cupcakes and rice crispy sushi

I played some Final Fantasy XI and XIV, started Half Life 2 but I am currently in Ravenholm (armed with my gravity gun, of course), and am working through Skyrim as a rather kindhearted rogue werewolf dark elf. Yup.

For Thanksgiving, we baked our first turkey ever! We used Alton Brown's brining method, and it turned out moist & tasty. Don't mention the beans though, I was distracted!

Turkey stock!

As of end of August, I've worked 10 years at my organization!

In the fall, I took a free, experimental, online course, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, with Stanford University. It was a challenge day to almost daily work and having to remember a large chunk of my university math! I successfully completed the Advanced Track with a grade of 90.4%, hurray!

For Halloween we carved lots of pumpkins and dressed Leroy up as a lobster.

Leroy the Lobster

Sean bought his first electric guitar - an awesome orange maple Godin - and is taking lessons. He's picking it up really quickly.

I also started sewing machine lessons with the goal of sewing a skirt. I put in my first zipper with success! I'm not sure if I'll finish the skirt today with all this relaxation going on, but it's done except for the bottom hem. I have fabric to sew several other things - a top and another skirt for me and some sweaters for Leroy.

Learn to sew a skirt

In November, Leroy turned two years old and is as sweet (and sensitive-stomached) as ever.

Leroy's first boat ride!

Chi and Horatio turned six years old. We're in shock that next March they'll both be 7 years. They are the most lively senior citizens. Well, except in this photo.

Good morning

I'm looking forward to January 2012! I'll start ukulele lessons: I had a beginner cute green soprano ukulele. For Christmas, Sean bought me an astoundingly lovely tenor ukulele. Sean will continue with guitar, and we'll both have cross country skiing lessons!

Best wishes for a great new year to you & your family =^_^=


My first vegetable garden from start to finish, with photos

The fall flew by faster than I realised, so I haven't blogged in ages! Now that I have a small breather after Christmas, I can post an update about how the garden finished up.

I tried to take photos of everything that came out of the garden. Here's a mosaic of everything, minus several bunches of herbs. At the bottom is the first tomato ^_^ Cool, eh? Now that it's winter, I miss the steady trickle of lettuce, peas, tomatoes, and herbs.

Harvest (from most recent to oldest)

Vegetable garden 2011 (part 1) Vegetable garden 2011 (part 2)

Growth photos from oldest to most recent:

Week 1 or ~ Day 2
Vegetable box A - early JulyVegetable box B - early July

Week 5 or ~ Day 30
Vegetable box A - day 30Vegetable box B - day 30

Day 42!
Vegetable box A - day 42Vegetable box B - day 42

Day 73 or just past week 10. The trellis is barely holding up...
Vegetable box A - day 73Vegetable box B - day 73

Day 105 or week 15! Started pulling up plants. I tried to dig some of the old pea vines under the soil, and half-rotted compost.
Vegetable box B - day 105 / week 15Vegetable box B - day 105 / week 15

Boxes covered with leaves for the winter.

I took one afternoon to plant the garlic, then raked up as many leaves as I could. We had a LOT of leaves. Hubby drove over them with the mower and we spread them on the garden and plants in front as mulch. You'll see there is a half-row of lettuce left, but alas, I didn't protect it well enough to harvest after the frost.

Garden boxes Oct 16

Here's the garlic I planted - three kinds from Boundary Garlic Farm. (Sadly I didn't make it out to the Carp Garlic Fest.) They are all hardneck varieties:

  1. Persian Star - mellow flavour purple striped garlic. The cloves form a pointy-star shape.
  2. Chesnok Red - bold flavour garlic but mellow when roasted, with great purple stripes.
  3. Susan Delafield - hot heritage porcelain garlic.

Hardneck garlic that I planted

Looking forward to next year!


My vegetable garden, day 73!

Sunday harvest

I completely forgot to update how my garden was going at the start of month 3, so here's another mid-month update! It's neat to see the photos over time.

From oldest to most recent:

Week 1 or ~ Day 2
Vegetable box A - early JulyVegetable box B - early July

Week 5 or ~ Day 30
Vegetable box A - day 30Vegetable box B - day 30

Day 42!
Vegetable box A - day 42Vegetable box B - day 42

Day 73 or just past week 10!
Vegetable box A - day 73Vegetable box B - day 73

Monster growth! My snowpea trellis is WAYYYYY too wussy. Next year I'll put up sections of fence.

Herbs - Except for flea beetles devouring the basil, all the herbs are doing great! Even the 4 yr old+ cilantro and basil seeds sprouted. I'm quite happy to have fresh cilantro, thyme, and chives all the time. I put chives in everything. Anyone know what to do with fresh sage and oregano?

Tomatoes - Looking scruffy and on the small side, but doing ok. No recent bird attacks. Next year I will focus on cherry tomatoes instead.

Cabbage - They finally look like cabbage heads! I'm a bit worried that inside they'll look like Swiss cheese from the flea beetles and cabbage worms.

Lettuce - WOW. We have a lot of lettuce. I like the flavour of the Buttercrunch the best, but they are all good now that I've thinned them more and they're more mature. I'd come in with a colander full of lettuce and Sean couldn't tell where I'd removed it from, there was so much...

Beets - All pulled up. Alas, only two beets grew bigger than my thumb tip; the rest were small and super bitter. Gack. As in, "are you sure beets aren't poisonous?" bitter. Thankfully the greens are tasty!

Snow peas - Super! We love these, and I can pick a handful every other day or so. They are just staring to die off now. We'll need a composter soon for sure.

Second plantings of beets, radishes, and lettuce - will see how far these get before the first frost. I really hope the beets do better this time.


Tourists in our own town

Can you spot the wedding?

My sister is visiting, so we're wandering around downtown Ottawa. We passed three or four wedding groups during the long weekend!


In memory of Spunkmeyer

Two months ago, on June 21, 2011, our youngest ferret Spunkmeyer passed away. He was 4 and a half years old; we adopted him from the Ferret Rescue Society of Ottawa when he was just 7 mos in February 2007.

Spunkmeyer's adoption photo

Spunkmeyer was a kick ass little ferret.

When we first met him, he was a little black furry flying ball of energy. We’d put him on the bed and tickle him, and he would take flying leaps towards you, paws outstretched, mouth open in a big joyful ferret grin.

He was a smart ferret. He would balance on his hind legs for a treat, and together we practiced roll over and shake-a-paw. He was so sweet when he’d eagerly grab your fingertips with his front paws. He had soft thick black fur, dark eyes, and sweet white ears. You could spot him across a room watching you, by his his little pink & white ears.

He loved to go outside for walks. He’d bounce through the grass in happiness. In our old apartment, sometimes I'd let him nip out the door and hop down the hallway. He would dook and dance and prance, and do his best to streak by me to the elevators.

Whenever he was awake he’d come seek me out, see what I was up to, perhaps beg for a treat. While I was washing dishes, he would lie across my feet like a cuddly footwarmer. My favourite time was early morning when I would wake up the ferrets, and give Spunkmeyer a back rub while he groomed my arm hair up then down. He enjoyed our company so very much, and we enjoyed him.

Spunkmeyer sunshine ears

The FRSO has kindly posted Spunky's photo to their rescued ferrets Rainbow Bridge page. (Postpone reading until you are ready for a sniffle.)

We miss our smart, joyful, friendly little guy. You are forever in our hearts; thank you Spunkmeyer.

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