Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 ~ A LOOK BACK

The best part of 2012, marrying Rob.
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that 2012 was the best and worst year of my life. A lot of great things happened, but the worst thing happened too, but life keeps moving forward and so do I.

January- Nine months after her diagnoses, my Mom succumbs to complications from brain cancer. Nothing in my life has changed me more as a person then losing my Mom, and it is the worst thing that as ever happened to me. So many things I wish I could still talk to her about.

When I was 19 years old she put me on a train for Toronto, sensing I would have a good life here, I do my best to do that for her, living a full life is my way of honoring hers.  

Taken in October 2011, when I spent Thanksgiving week with my Mom, the last time I would see her.

February- Rob and I join our friends, Jim and Lynda, for an Algonquin winter weekend away.

First "lifer" of 2012, Evening Grosbeaks at Algonquin Park.

March- We volunteer for the second time at the Toronto Sportsman Show with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation.

Rob educating the masses about birds of prey.

April- I take my first, of what is going to be an annual trip to Alberta for Easter to spend time with my brother and his family.

Having some Easter fun with my nieces!

 May- As any birder knows, May is all about the birds! Spring migration is in full swing. We take our 2nd trip to Point Pelee National Park with Jim and Lynda and spend much of our two week vacation chasing birds.

We're just a couple of "bird nerds".

June- I turn 43 and have a party with friends to celebrate.

Happy Birthday! It was fun celebrating with friends.

July & August- Most of our weekends are spent enjoying the backyard and we also did a couple summer road trips.

Enjoying a butter tart on one of our summer road trips; The Butter Tart Trail.

September- We celebrate Rob's 43rd birthday in Muskoka, as per usual. And I surprise him with a private outing to see a "raft" of Loons in Algonquin. We also have our 2nd tour of the Owl Foundation and are thrilled when we get to see 3 young Snowy Owls.

Re-sponsoring "Silo" the Barn Owl at the Muskoka Wildlife Centre on Rob's birthday.
An adorable young Snowy Owl!

October- I spend an amazing week in Florida with my friends, Patricia and her husband, Greg. I scratch another thing from my life list in honor of my Mom, swimming with a dolphin.

I also have my birding highlight of the year, which you can read about here.

See the look on my face? Pure joy, and that pretty much sums up the whole Florida trip.

November- Rob and I surprise all our friends and family by getting married in our home on what would of been Mom's 73rd birthday.

Our wedding cake.
December- My favorite month of the year! I always enjoy all the get togethers of the season. We also enjoyed our first good snowfall of the winter.

It was nice to get some snow!

Wishing you all the best in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Rob putting some walnuts under the tree.
The birds and squirrels in our backyard already have it pretty good, but every Christmas we do a little "extra" for them.

About a week before Christmas we set up a "Critter Christmas Tree" in the back yard for them and on Christmas morning all edible ornaments are used to decorate it and lots of good stuff for them placed under it.

It's fun to watch the birds and squirrels come for their "presents" and the tree will remain all winter as a place of shelter.

This year; Juncos, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Cardinals and the squirrels all enjoyed the goodies in and under the tree.

Bagel spread with peanut butter and dipped in bird seed.

Cracked corn, peanuts and walnuts.
Running away with a walnut.
Enjoying a peanut.
I think Rob and I enjoy doing this for them, as much as they enjoy the extra goodies.

Friday, December 21, 2012


The finished product!
About 20 years ago when I was visiting my parents in Nova Scotia at Christmas time, their neighbor Jan, gave me a tin full or her Shortbread Cookies with the recipe. I've been making them every year since. I take some to work, give some as gifts and keep a few for us.


2 Cups Unsalted Butter
4 Cups Flour
1 Cup Icing Sugar
2 Teaspoons Vanilla

Cream butter, add icing sugar. When blended add vanilla, and slowly add in flour. Mix until dough like consistency. Roll out to 1/4inch on floured surface. Cut out and bake 10 -15 minutes at 325. Makes about 3 dozen.

Mixing the butter and sugar.

Cutting them out.

Cooling on the racks.
How'd I do Jan?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I went for a "rustic" look this year.
I remember being surprised at how many Christmas tree ornaments Rob had that first Christmas we spent together in 2004. He had quite the interesting collection for a guy who had never had a tree before. That first Christmas together we could of easily decorated two or three trees with all the ornaments we had between us. And of course, many more ornaments have been collected in the years since.
I’m partial to doing a “theme” tree every year, and all our ornaments get on the tree eventually. We’ve done a cartoon character tree, a cardinal tree, a homemade ornament tree, a white and blue tree and an all bird tree in the past. We've started collecting quite a few owl ornaments the last couple years, and I see an all owl ornament tree in our future.

Even with the theme trees, there are those few extra special ornaments that go on the tree every year. I kinda think your Christmas tree tells a story, and it’s those ornaments that tell it. 

First Christmas together in 2004, it was a memorable one.
This Meadow ornament was a gift for Rob our second year together and goes on the tree every year.
Born and raised there, and proud of it!
A gift from Mom my second Christmas in Toronto.
For our love of birds and our home.
Rob's first love, Vampirella, or as I call her, Slut. 
For the year we moved in together. 
Gift from Mom from my last visit with her, Thanksgiving 2011.
We happily share the yard with our wild, furry friends.

And we added a few new ones this year:

We chose this one as our "2012 Marriage Ornament", and now I call Rob my Turtle Dove! LOL!
Misfit and Moonie join Meadow on the tree.
2012 memory ornament for Mom.   
This years tree from another angle.

What story does your tree tell?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Taken moments after the ceremony.
On Friday November 30th, at approximately 10:03am, Rob became my husband. We got married in the comfort of our own home with only 4 people in attendance, with a small and intimate ceremony.

Here's the story of how it came to be.

I don't remember the first time the word "marriage" was brought up between us, but I'm pretty sure it went something like this; We were probably sitting on he couch watching a movie or something and I said " Do you think we'll get married someday?" and he probably mumbled something like "Sure" or "uh uh".

There was never any romantic proposal, it was just something we knew we would do one day. We always told our friends that when it happened, they'd probably know after it was over, and only a hand-full of people did know before.

Rob is a man of his word, this I will never doubt. He told me early this year that we would be married by the end of it. We were on vacation the first week of November and when he said he found his birth certificate, I knew the time had come.

On the morning of November 9th we went to the Etobicoke Civic Centre to get our marriage license. We had picked a few dates before going, assuming they had wedding chambers there. In all honesty, I think if they had of been able to marry us right at the desk we would of done it then.

One of the dates we had picked was Friday, November 30th, it would of been my Mother's 73rd birthday and it was also the 10 year anniversary of Rob getting the keys to the house. I know my Mother loved that we choose her birthday to be married, she always wanted her little girl married.

The lady at the marriage license office was very helpful and we got all the information we needed. Rob was thrilled when he found out we could have someone come to the house and marry us, with all the pets in attendance! After leaving there we had to run a few errands and got our wedding bands as well. Upon returning to the house I called Toronto City Hall to book a wedding officiant to come to our home. A few minutes later the morning of  November 30th was booked.

That Sunday we asked our good friends, and first friends we made as a couple, Jim and Lynda to be our witnesses. They were very excited for us and immediately said yes. Rob told his parents 2 weeks before the wedding and his brothers a week before. I called my Dad, "other mother", Marilyn and my Brother and his family the day before. Everyone was very happy for us.

Just like we knew we'd get married, we also knew it wouldn't be a big wedding. We always wanted something very small and casual and that is what we did. Our wedding officiant, Anne, came to the house to meet us a week before and to talk about the ceremony. She gave us a few samples of vows to look over and we changed and tweaked a few things to make them our own.    

I wore a "new" top, and "blue and borrowed" earrings from my friend Amanda. And I wore my Mom's engagement ring on my right hand for something "old".

The morning finally arrived and it was so easy paced! I got up early as usual and started to get ready. I had done a little decorating the night before, so I only had me to get ready. Rob got up a couple hours later, as he had worked the night before. We both did a shot of White Owl Whiskey at about 9:15am, and everyone arrived at 9:30am. The ceremony got underway at 9:55am.

It was exactly what we wanted, small and simple. For us, it was perfect. After some picture taking we went to Milestones for lunch and then went about our day as a married couple.

Rob and I have been together just shy of 9 years, living together for over 4 of them, a lot of people have said since then, that is was "about time", but that's not true, it was the perfect time.

We "jumped the broom" at the end of the ceremony, symbolizing new beginnings and creating a home together.
I loved our wedding cake and it tasted as good as it looked!  
With Rob's parents.
With our witnesses, Jim and Lynda.
With our wedding officiant, Anne.
First picture as husband and wife.
Family pictures decorated the table.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


A Reddish Egret, one of 14 "lifers" on my trip.
My recent trip to Florida was totally theme park related, but on the day I flew out, my friends were nice enough to take me to a place recommended by some birding friends, Merritt Island, where we spent a few hours birding before I got on a big metal bird to fly home.

Click on photos to enlarge and scroll through them.

I had 14 lifers on my trip;

 1. Sandhill Crane
 2. Fish Crow
 3. Royal Tern
 4. Florida Scrub Jay
 5. Black Vulture
 6. Greater Flamingo
 7. American White Pelican
 8. Brown Pelican
 9. Snowy Egret
10. Little Blue Heron
11. Tricolored Heron
12. Reddish Egret
13. Roseate Spoonbill
14. Woodstork

I didn't have my personal photographer and his "big lens" with me, so the pictures I did manage aren't great. I bird with binoculars, but Rob must of been impressed enough with my list, because we're planning a trip together in the Fall of 2014.

Tricolored Heron
I'd never seen so many American Coots at one time!

Florida Scrub Jay, thank goodness for binoculars!
Two of the birds I was most excited to see were Pelicans, and the Florida Scrub Jay. I had really good looks at both types of Pelicans and the Florida Scrub Jays, but no great pics, next time. I also didn't hang around and look at the Florida Scrub Jays to long because I was getting eaten alive by "salt water marsh mosquitoes", next time I will be better prepared.

One of the birds I had the best looks at was the Black Vulture. We came upon a  flock of them who seemed to have very recently dragged something that must of got hit by a car, off to the side of the road and were devouring it, along with a few Turkey Vultures.

Greg stopped the car and Pat and I got out and walked towards them, close to enough that we didn't need binoculars, but not to close to cause them to fly away. It was really cool to have them flying all around us, and so close, but roadkill is smelly! 

Black Vultures, a couple Turkey Vultures and a blood stained road.
Vultures doing what Vultures do, devouring road-kill.
Another shot of a Black Vulture.
Flying Turkey Vulture.
A couple other cool sightings we saw were one lone Manatee, and an alligator.

Greg got really excited when he spotted this guy.
 I'm looking forward to a return trip and spending a lot more time at this place, with bug spray!