Nature is always working in one shape or another

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This tall Birch tree had been dying for a number of years, until it arrived at its destination when it was time to say goodbye.  Sadly I contacted a gentleman to come and cut this beautiful tree down in sections…it’s odd to think the main reasons for my buying my fix-er upper of a home over 16 years ago was in part to this majestic birch tree and my attached car garage.

Winters as you know in Northern Ontario, Canada can be a test for anyone who lives in this beautiful country. I had children to cart off to school early in the mornings and didn’t want to spend what little coffee time I had, before heading out ~ scraping off the ice and snow from the windshield and vehicle. So, this magical birch tree and I became friends so to speak..

The summers were a delight to be in my garden trying to figure out the landscape that I wanted for the future, what I did know was there was going to be perennials in my garden that I could divide each year to save money.. I bought One Hostas plant in the year of 2000 and now have over 20 Hostas plants growing in my backyard.

I watched the woodpecker fly in and perch on the limbs of the birch tree, which began to worry me over my morning coffee one heavenly spring day, because this meant there were bugs in my tree which had begun its journey toward the end of its life.

Every early spring morning over my cup of coffee the woodpecker would return and bang away at my tree. Strange as it was my heart sank a little bit, but in my heart I knew that one day this beloved birch tree was going to give back to me in ways that I never even dreamed of…

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Moms beloved Birch Tree

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After taking a few pictures of where the woodpecker was banging away at my tree, I could finally see the amount of damage this bird was doing to the main portion of my tree. My brain was telling me the tree was offering up food for the wildlife in the yard, giving up its bark to make room for this new woodpecker hotel… All around the tree were holes, small in the beginning and growing larger as the next year approached. So, the bark was dying and the insects moved right on in to do what comes naturally to them, clear away whats no longer living ~ making room for something new.

I suppose I think too much about nature and my surroundings, but this is who I am and its kept me sane in an insane world at times. I do my best to help nature, but there comes a time you just have to let go…

Remember I said earlier the tree would indeed give back to me in ways I never thought about… Well, Permaculture beds came into my gardening dreams after researching this on the inter-webs… Birch trees were one of the best ways to begin my permaculture beds from what I read. They break down sort of quickly, unlike hard woods that would take forever to get the permaculture beds going…

It’s really simple if you think about the crowded forest, where limbs fall, leaves fall, all landing on the ground ~ sort of rinse and repeat action going on…This composts down causing the soil to become very rich and gives life to all that’s near. It holds moisture when there’s little rain and it drains well due to all of the tiny branches and twigs in the heap…

So, I directed the gentleman who cut down my tree in sections to just leave the logs where they landed.. He did look at this almost 60 year old woman, oddly before he offered to stack the logs for me where ever I wished them to be placed…

As stubborn as I am growing in age (and waist) I thought no…. I’d do it myself… Why you wonder…?

Well, first I needed to ponder over where I wanted the permaculture bed to go once the tree was down and secondly I wanted (odd as this is going to sound) give back to my beloved tree by handling the logs, limbs, twigs myself ~ One at a time, resting in between…. I was almost as close to nature and one with this tree as any human can ever be… It also gave me exercise in return which never hurts anyone at my age….

This tree once strong, standing so tall gave me so much pleasure for 15 years, offering to me natures wisdom that I too no matter what happen to me in life ~ I too can be tall (even at 5’2 ) and strong to weather what ever is thrown my way. My heart is forever open, my mind never cluttered with needless things, I keep a fresh new outlook to each and every day as I garden in my 5 permaculture beds that have been working beautifully ~ I still have my lovely birch tree giving me grace and happiness… Find what makes you happy and it will always be by your side, in the good times and the not so good…..

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Until next time

~  Laura  ~

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Ask Me Anything(Well Almost Anything)

If you enjoy movies this is the blog for you.. they tell you straight from the hip about your favorite flicks, and give you insights on some you might want to see.. I highly recommend this blogger.. Take care, Bluebird4udaily (Laura)

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QuestionI got the idea to do a post in which my fellow bloggers ask me questions on whatever topic they choose(as long as it’s nothing offensive) from reading a similar post from the cool dude Diego. So with this post, I hope you all get a better understanding of me and it gives you the opportunity to ask me some interesting posts. So whatever questions, movie related or not that you have, ask away. I promise to answer you all. Ask away people, I have a feeling this post will be fun.

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There’s alot of life in that Maple Tree

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I nurtured two Maple trees around 7 years ago. The first Maple tree grew so fast that I needed to cut it down. I had planted it too close to my lawn mower storage shed, and I was afraid if I allowed it to stay there it would eventually lift up the cement blocks I have in front of the shed…The picture above is of the second Maple tree.  This little tree I like to call Charlie Brown wanna-be, since it had only grown to about 6 feet when I cut down the first maple tree that was at least 14 feet tall at the time.. Picture below….

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But, I must clarify my wording on cut it down.. I dug it up! There were 5 main roots deep below the ground when I dug deep enough to expose them properly. My plan is to make this maple that I loved so much since it was just a wee tad of a seedling into a sort of Bonsai.  I planted it into a pot last year and hoped for the best…

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I saved all of the branches from that Maple and stripped the bark off so it could dry out nicely and I’ve been using these branches in the garden when I need to prop something up… Nice hardwood….

The brother (Charlie Brown) of my grand Maple didn’t do so well for the past two years.

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I had a mite invasion on all of the leaves…The other Maple tree was not infected with these tiny red bugs at all…I think the two trees are different species, since the leaves looked different to me. So, this year before the buds appeared on this MITE-y tree I cut it back to the V-junctions of the tree….I was going to dig this one up too, but thought I might just give this a try first before grabbing my shovel in haste…. Trees deserve Second Chances, too…..

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As you can see in the picture the leaves are coming back nicely. So, all I have to do is wait to see if the mites return this year to devour all of the leaves again. I went on the inter-webs to read about mites on maple trees, and they said it will not harm the tree… Huh….

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Not harm the tree?… Really….. These tiny little red dots all over the leaves might look interesting, but these critters would eat away at the leaves until they fell off. I suppose the main trunk of the tree was not harmed (that must be with they meant to say) and it’s coming back surprisingly well this year. Fingers crossed I don’t see those tiny red dots all over it again….

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Iceland Mixed Poppies Barrel

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I love how the poppies develop into flowers. I had saved all of the seeds from last year and sprinkled them back into the wooden barrel. The seeds are smaller than salt or pepper, and you hope it’s a calm day when you’re sowing the seeds or else you’ll have them all over the yard…

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This plant began all on its own this year in the garden. At first I thought it was a carrot growing behind my radishes this past spring, but as it grew and grew I could see the tiny leaves better and I think this is dill… A few mornings ago I noticed it was bolting and beginning to set a flower at the very top, with all of the spindly bits around the flower head…

I’m always completely amazed at nature and how everything grows outdoors. I found another herb growing where the wind currents must have taken a few seeds ~ Basil is there to the right of the Dill, and a Swiss Chard popped up too from last year.

I read that Swiss Chard is not a perennial, but some plants can return a 2nd year…Hum… Don’t you just love those little garden surprises ? Or, when I planted my radish seeds a few dill seeds from last year was in the packet…Same with the Swiss Chard, I suppose… But, for whatever reasons these lovely plants are in my garden this makes me a happy gardener just the same….

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My pup wishes for all of you to have a peaceful, relaxing day  🙂

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Until next time

~  Laura  ~

Twenty-Four Days Really Does Make a Difference

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We began this gardening season off with chilly weather in May, usual for that time of year…But, when June arrived I was hopeful to have warmer temperatures during the evenings. This didn’t happen for us this year. It stayed cold at night but at least not freezing (except for a couple of nights) Remember, me telling you I’ve seen snow up here in Northern Ontario, Canada in June…

June 1st brought in tiny seedlings in one of my 5 permaculture beds…..

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I became worried with this slow progression of the sprouting seeds, but hoped for enough time left for them to arrive at a decent size come Fall. I was totally surprised to see the plants have taken off in the last 24 days and I’m almost certain I’ll have many meals of fresh carrots from the garden.. (fingers crossed that the chipmunks don’t partake in a meal or two before I get to savor this vegetable…

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This tree is almost right above my permaculture bed with all of those tasty carrots trying to grow up to be big and strong… I have a bit of netting on top of the bed, so I’m running a test to see who gets to eat the carrots this year..

I suppose he’s hungry too, since he or she has been munching down on my Echinacea leaves that returned from last year in the 2nd permaculture bed which has a few Asparagus plants and a few newly planted peas.

I know they love the peas, so I hope those plants are enough distraction for them to leave the other beds alone…My radishes are still going strong in the 1st permaculture bed with the umbrella for shade…

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I want to plant my Swiss chard in the area where the radishes are located ~ Just waiting to harvest the rest of them first… A combination of netting and the umbrella should protect these plants too…

I read on the inter-webs a while back about starting tomato plants from a single slice of a store bought tomato from your local grocery store. So, given the challenge and needing to do something different this year, I gave this interesting idea a go….

slice tomato

Can you see all of those seeds in just one slice of the tomato? Mercy me I thought when I plopped One Slice of the store bought tomato into a container of compost, covering it with about two inches more of compost to try and sneak this past the hungry chipmunks this spring. Placed a net over the top of the container and waited and waited…

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I probably should have began the tomato slice trial toward the end of winter indoors, but I had enough plants (Jalapeno’s) on the go at the time this past winter…

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I must have had over 50 new tomato plants off that One Slice of tomato, but I haven’t the room for all of those (I’ll make room next year ~ dreaming of much more homemade salsa) tomato seedlings.

As it is right now there are too many plants in each of these containers, I couldn’t throw out these tiny little soldiers, so in they went… I may later in a few weeks reduce the number in the containers, or I’ll just run the test further and just see what happens…

I do love surprises that don’t follow the normal way of doing things… Hey, I moved up here to the frozen North of Canada from Sunny Florida over 3 decades ago, so I’m not normal in the least….   🙂

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But, the flip side of my Winter is this…….

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It’s all Good !

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Until next time

~  Laura  ~

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

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As its name suggests, Chocolate mint is a variety of mint that has nuances of chocolate in both fragrance and flavor. Subtle notes of cocoa and vanilla mix with a traditional spicy mint finish. When grown in sufficient sunlight, the lush green leaves even develop burgundy veins to match the chocolate-colored stems.

I thought I’d make some ice-cream using the chocolate mint I’ve been growing for two years.

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Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups milk

3 1/2 cups chocolate mint

5 egg yolks

2/3 cups sugar

1 cup heavy cream

(I added one vanilla stick to the cooking mixture)

In a medium saucepan, combine milk and fresh chocolate mint. (I used about 1 cup of fresh mint, instead) Bring mixture to a gentle boil, cover and remove pan from heat. Steep mixture for 30 minutes. Strain mixture, reserve milk and discard solids.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, for about 3-5 minutes. Return milk to a simmer.

Prep an ice water bath. Place ice cubes in a bowl and fill half with water.

Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding half of the warm milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture while stirring constantly until blended. Add new mixture to sauce pan with remaining milk. Stir consistently over low heat until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove saucepan from heat and immediately stir in cream. Place in an empty bowl over the ice water bath. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into empty bowl and chill for at least 3 hours to overnight in the refrigerator.

Freeze custard in ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (I added Toffee bits to the mixture after putting it into the ice-cream maker)  Store in an airtight container in freezer until ready to eat.. (I put plastic wrap over the top of the stored ice cream to keep crystals from forming on top of the ice cream…) Works like a charm….

Ice Cream Maker

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I also made a crock-pot of chili, so I could have chili dogs for dinner…

This was a nice finish to our evening meal and who doesn’t love chili dogs?

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Until next time

~  Laura  ~

A home is never just a home

June 23rd 2016 - Robins Nest

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The beautiful owner of this home worked very hard this year to build the foundation for this nest. In previous years I’ve seen the nest built out of twigs and dried plant material, but this Spring the robins knew something I did not at the time…

We were going to have a very chilly Spring, and if you notice the mud foundation to this nest it would tell the story for this new season. I suppose she knew it would keep her eggs safe and warm until such time they hatched.

Since the nest was built on the corner of my deck I could see the tiny babies waiting for their mother to return with treats for them to enjoy… I waited and waited and one day the baby birds had left the nest, leaving this beautiful home abandoned.. But, oh what a beautiful home it still is.. Nature at its best and if we watch we’ll know some of the secrets mother nature is trying to tell us….

I actually planned my gardens around what these robins were telling me and so far I’ve not lost one plant due to the weather…

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I bought some green onions at the grocery store, cutting off the green parts leaving about 2 inches of the white end of the onion…Then planted them in the garden and let them take off reaching for the sky…

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Dreaming of Stir-Fry

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I love the hint of white on the edges of my Red Peonies…

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To my surprise this year there’s a bit of red in the center of my white peonies… Have my plants

been busy together, creating ?

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Soon to become beautiful Poppies

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Loving my garden after a rain shower

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My pup on squirrel patrol

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I totally understand my pup….She’s letting me know she’s got this covered….Don’t worry be happy  🙂

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Until next time

~  Laura  ~

Sometimes lessons must be seen over time

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Cheltenham Badlands 45 mins outside of Toronto

This area is located just a mere 45 minutes outside of Toronto, Ontario Canada and is called

Cheltenham Badlands

I was checking to see what our weather was going to be like for today on the Weather Channel, and I ran across this article about this strange looking place. Back in the 1930’s the article said this area was environmentally unfriendly farmed causing the soil to erode.

When you only take away and never put back (seedlings) this can happen…I’ve seen this happen in humans too… This picture is amazing to look at and sad all at the same time. Be careful how much you take from something or someone without returning the favor. We all need those simple words, “How can I help?” or ” Here let me help you.”

I’m blessed with people around me always offering to help, even if I say naw I’ve got it….Yes, my southern broken language showing…But, I know if I really needed help they would be there for me at any given time….

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http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/eye-candy-ontarios-cheltenhan-badlands/36530/

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Until next time

~  Laura  ~

Snow on the Second Day of Summer!

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Do my eyes deceive me?

Is that snow that I see?

If I merely take a quick look at the above picture, I might think it’s snowing in the summertime here in Northern Ontario, Canada….

But, upon closer inspection and the time taken I see that it’s just the fallen honeysuckle petals on the ground. I love taking pictures of my plants and gardens. I bring them on to the computer and use the magnifier tool and take a closer look just to see what I may find that’s hidden to my eyes at the time the picture was taken.

It’s  an amazing world down there underneath the leaves or branches. Tiny bugs you’ve missed while taking a photograph. I wish that my knees were better, because I’d be right down on the ground taking pictures of this amazing world only seen through the magnifying tool on my computer…

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At first glance I see the iris plants thriving their transplanting last year, and my hostas adore their new home as well.. the small plant at the bottom right (I forgot the name) has many tiny red flowers when in bloom….

But, since they are so tiny you must take the time to enjoy or else their beauty might just be lost…

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“All good things in time…”

Have you ever wondered about that saying?

I think it means good things come to us all in time, but we are the ones who must take the time to experience and enjoy.. Take care out there where ever you may be and my wish for you is all good things may come to you in time…

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Until next time

~  Laura  ~