Sunday, December 13, 2009

anywhere but here

It's not often I can say during these last few years, that I like the cold or the snow. Call it getting older, I'm not sure really, but there are moments in this cold climate of ours on Canada's East Coast when I think I can't stand it for one winter longer, and fewer moments still each year when I can't imagine living anywhere else. Unlike the days of when I was a kid, and my mom letting my little brother and I dress in snowsuits and lie outside on the snowbank in our front yard to catch snowflakes on our tongues, I no longer relish the snow. Being the romantic that I am, that surprises me. I used to get butterflies in my tummy at first snowfall and make my husband drop everything he was doing, to have us take a walk in our first snowfall of the year together. But I have to say, today was a day, in the bitter cold, when I couldn't possibly fathom a Christmas spent in balmy temperatures surrounded by palm trees (and trust me when I say, prior to today, there have been many!).

Today, we had the privilege of experiencing a Norman Rockwell Christmas moment if ever there was one. We have this wonderful lady, Sue is her name, who cares for our Golden Retriever, Murphy, when we are away. Sue and her family own a gorgeous property about a 15 minute drive from us. There they have their home on a huge lot of land, a brook running through the property some distance from the house where she takes daily walks with her dogs and the others she so lovingly cares for, and the kennels as well as her dog grooming business. What I didn't know was that Sue also owns a horse, and he/she is kept at a stable yet another 5 minute drive from her home in an area called Glenlevit. Sue called a couple of weeks ago to invite us to an afternoon at the stables, for horse drawn sleigh rides and an appearance from Santa. Joe and I had been set to Christmas shop away this weekend, but couldn't imagine missing out on this for Lizzy, so we stuck around the weekend and attended the much awaited event. And we were not disappointed.

"Boudreau Lane, Boudreau Lane...was that what she had said"? We followed the jeep in front of us as it looked familiar, and sure enough, he led us straight to our destination. What I saw as we turned the bend in the road, were white covered fields of glistening diamonds as the sun shone brightly, a huge barn in the background, a beautiful newer home situated at an angle on sprawling fenced property and tons of vehicles. This must be it!

We park our car and shuffle up the long lane in our snow boots and insulated pants to find a team of horses harnessed up to a long red wagon and a load of people climbing out, young and old...Christmas music playing, a bonfire on to the left where some were warming their toes, others roasting marshmallows (and not the reverse altho I later was tempted in my falsely labelled -25 cold protected boots). Just as those were unloading from the horses, along came a tractor with another load for drop off, while another line had formed for those wanting to be on the next run. Hot apple cider was being circulated on trays, a grill was running with hot dogs for anyone with a hunger, complete with condiments. A huge inflatable snowman stood proudly in the open upper part of the barn, the fence boards outlining the fields were decorated with green garland swags and red bows, and the front doors of the barn were open to more obvious activity...a table covered in festive tablecloths with thermal dispensers of fresh brewed coffee and hot chocolate, and beside them, trays of home baked holiday sweets which never seemed to run completely empty. The horses in the stables were being fed by little hands holding feeders of carrots and apples, and one, Ladie, was even in her festive coif of braided mane with pretty bright red bows. After several waits to get on the horse drawn ride, it was announced the horses would be returning following a short break...and did they!! With a full-fledged roley poley Santa onboard carrying a huge red toy bag stuffed with treatbags for every child there. Once we calmed Lizzy down after having been traumatized by the thoughts of sitting on Santa's knee, we boarded for our turn on the horse drawn ride making our own tracks through the diamonds.  

Now you may be thinking..."What's the big deal? You live in Canada, you do that kind of thing all the time, don't you?". Perhaps, for some yes...for me, it was a first, for my husband from Germany a first, and for my 3 year old daughter a first. What was so heartwarming about this event tho, was that not one person attending, was charged for anything! This event was hosted by a group of friends who shared stable care for their horses, and who just thought it would be a great idea to host such an event for the young and old alike at Christmas time. Yes, the rides, the fire, the music and the food all held outdoors on a chilly winters day just days before Christmas was big enough, but what touched me, was that it was all done purely out of the goodness of their hearts...without profits, or even covering their own expenses. What an incredible and heartwarming gift...donating their time, and talents as well as absorbing all costs involved, only to give to others, and expecting nothing in return!

Well, all I can say to that is WOW and Thanks! Thank you for your generosity, but mostly for setting such a remarkeable example and reminding us all what Christmas is truly all about. Any warm feeling I had lost in my toes, was more than made up for in my heart, for it truly was a Norman Rockwell Christmas moment I'm not likely to forget. And I'm thinking it's left me with the feeling that I can't imagine a Christmas, anywhere but here.    

Many thanks to Greg Dion, owner of Cedar Creek Farms, and to all who gave in hosting the wonderful event.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm in the kitchen

Two posts in one night...imagine!!

Further to our attempts to rid ourselves of all evidence of pink in our kitchen, I wasn't really sure that I would like a true ceramic tiled backsplash. Loving French Country colors and the decor style itself with it's motifs, I thought I would try my hand at freehand painting a rooster over faux tiles above our oven. Here's how I did it (I'm sure others will have different approaches...this is what worked for me). If unsuccessful, just repaint, right? Right! I have to say that it was not really my intention to have him stay, but he has all along on a temporary basis...sort of. Again, until the big reno!

The new kitchen drywalled walls were basecoated with a water-based ivory color in an eggshell finish. I opted for a gold color called Livingston Gold (BM) and mixed it with equal parts of water. Using a seasponge, I dipped the sponge into the mixture and lightly dabbed the color onto a handcut stencil I had made to resemble small ceramic tiles. Easy enough. Once dried, I traced a rooster pattern which I had photocopied from placemats I had for our breakfast island with pencil, and transferred that using transfer paper, to the wall. Using acrylic paints mixed with a bit of water, I then filled in the rooster freehand until he resembled, well...a rooster :-)! This was the result...  

I've still not finished the faux tile work due to waiting on my husband to finish with the brackets he added to the underside of the cupboards, and it's only been about 6 years since I left that project :-(! But I will get back at it one day...hmmmm. I hear myself saying that quite a bit lately. That and "my next post will come much sooner"...

'tis the season

Well the festive time of year is upon us and WOW...did it come from nowhere, and fast!! It's been a super busy Fall with the business, Lizzy's dance classes, fighting off sinus infections, throat infections...for some reason, she and I seem to be on the same cycle and have both been ill off and on since about August. Skipping workouts and making time only for the business and my family, has made for not much activity outside of just that...I already know what my first new years resolution is. My Painted Porch hosted an Open House mid November for one afternoon only, with a good turnout. Guess meds prevented me from having the presence of mind to take pics...I keep forgetting there's a blog now to post them to :-)! In preparing for the Open House, I wondered if I should decorate for Christmas, but thank goodness I didn' it turned out, I was still painting signs until 3 am the night before and a tree, let alone anything else, would have been beyond unrealistic. We had our first snowfall in mid October and an absolutely fabulous month of fall weather in November, seeing no snow again until last week, and a winter storm yesterday. The mild weather thus far has been completely out of the norm for our area this time of year, and made for considerable slowing down of the natural dive into the Christmas spirit. Once we saw 30 cm fall yesterday tho, that changed everything...we have a tree! I made a few new signs for the Christmas season, keeping one of each of my faves for myself. Ck out the Gumdrops sign...looks fab peeking out from behind our tree. The Noel in the bottom right you can barely see...will try to snap a better pic a bit later for posting.  

We spent the afternoon Sunday with the kids piling the season's supply of firewood, decorating the tree and sipping eggnog, and I indulged the hankerings of my son with 'Mom's cooking' for family dinner. I have to say, that there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, that can make my heart go pitter patter like the image of my two children together, 20 years apart in age. One so totally thrilled to have the other, and even with such an age difference, so attached. With Lizzy now 3 and having a greater interest and amazement with all things Christmas, it was a truly magical and heartfelt family day. And yet another year, I am forgiven for making them wear the silly Santa hats for pics, which of course I have to share...  

This year, we are all so looking forward to experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a 3 yr old. The smiles in front of and behind the camera I know will be far from few. As we carry on in our preparations for the holiday season and the anticipation of the occasion drawing nearer, I can't help but think of those less fortunate...those with illness, those unable to be with their loved ones, those who have lost, those who are still fighting a brave battle. My heart wishes peace to all, in the true spirit of Christmas.