Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 RECAP

Celebrating my Dad's 75th birthday in Nova Scotia.
I like "blogging". I enjoying writing and this is my outlet for it. But it's also a great way to keep track of my life. My blog is like an online diary that I share with the public, and it's interesting for me to look back.

I've heard a few people mention that they can't wait to see the end of 2013, that it hasn't been a good year. True, we lost a few dear friends this year and had to deal with some other hardships, but it hasn't been all bad, and I'd like to focus on the good that happened.

January -  I fly to Nova Scotia to spend my Dad's 75th birthday with him. We have a good visit even though I was only there for a few days.

February - We take advantage of the winter weather and enjoy Algonquin Park with friends and visit Johnson's Cranberry Marsh for the first time and enjoy snow shoeing.

March - Canada loses a legend with the passing of Stompin Tom Connors. Rob and I get out for the last of the winter birding. 

April - We celebrate Easter in Alberta, and Rob finally meets my brother and his family. I also fly to Las Vegas on a whirlwind trip to do the VIP Meet & Greet thing with Def Leppard!

Dream come true - April 3rd, VIP Meet & Greet with Def Leppard.

May - It's a birding bonanza as Spring migration is in full swing! We have our best views of many different types of warblers in Point Pelee. and we're out birding most of our two week vacation. We also lose a dear friend with the passing of  Big Frank, I owe him so much and think of him often.

June - I celebrate my 44th birthday.

July - We spend most of our summer weekends enjoying the backyard, alone or with friends.

August - I treat myself to a front row VIP package to see country super star, Kenny Chesney and discover his amazing coconut rum, Blue Bay Chair..

September - We celebrate Rob's 44th birthday in Algonquin and also make it a late honeymoon. There wasn't much "honey" in the "moon" though, as we were both fighting colds, but we made the best of it. We also go to my Uncle Bobby's in Gananoque where Rob FINALLY gets to meet my Dad!  

My favorite picture from the weekend with my Dad.

October - We enjoy a few weekend road trips that involves lots of raptors and I have my "12th Annual Girls Getaway Weekend" at the Briars Resort. 

November - Rob and I celebrate 1 year of marriage in a very special way, delivering an injured Snowy Owl to the Owl Foundation, our first delivery.

December - We enjoy many Christmas gatherings and Toronto sees the worse ice-storm in its history. Rob did a nice blog on how the storm affected us.

Rob and I with Alex, one of CPF's educational birds on our first anniversary.

Here's to a great 2014 for us all, may the happy memories out number the bad!

Friday, December 27, 2013


Rob and I celebrated our 10th Christmas together this year.
This Christmas was a bit of a roller-coaster ride for many people living in Toronto and the GTA, with the massive ice storm that hit the city just a couple days before the big day. We were very lucky, we were only without power 8hrs total, once over night, and again the next day. We had offers to "pack up our zoo" and stay with friends if need be, but luckily for us, we were able to stay put.

When I think back over the past few weeks, my favorite memories and moments are from seeing friends and family. I "Skyped" with family members in other provinces and towns on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We enjoyed Christmas morning at home before heading to Rob's parents for Christmas dinner.

We've had so many Christmas gatherings with friends over the last few weeks, with more to come, as some had to be rescheduled because of the storm. We had and are having a great holiday season, time spent with the people who mean the most to you truly is the greatest gift. I think that's why the Christmas card I received from Rob this year really touched me.

We met in our mid thirties, and I have commented on more then one occasion on how I wish we had of met sooner, like some of our friends. Some of them have been together since high school. I guess we had different paths to follow before it was right for ours to cross.   

The inside reads;
Sometimes I wish that we had of met sooner, that the detours along the way could of been fewer.
But then something tells me we found each other at just the right place in our lives.
Now, here we are - right on time and so right together.
And I want you to know I would've waited forever for this, for you, for the love of my life.   

Another reminder that it's not how much time you have, because there will never be enough, so make the most of the time you have.

 I learned a lot this Christmas; I don't have to bake the same things every year, we don't have to do the same thing every year, plans can get rescheduled and changed, and it's still Christmas. Spending time with family and friends, in person, or on the phone is what really matters.

I hope you all spent time this Christmas with the people who matter to you.


Thursday, December 19, 2013


A new Christmas cookie!
I'm not doing as much Christmas baking this year, but found a new recipe I wanted to try from Hershey's. We have a small dept. lunch on Friday, and I thought these would be perfect to bring in.

48 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
1/2 Cup unsalted butter or margarine (I always use butter when baking, it taste better)
1 Cup white sugar
1 Egg
1 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
2 Cups all -purpose flour
1/4 Tsp baking soda
1/4 Tsp salt (if using salted butter, you can skip this)
2 Tablespoons milk
 Red or green sugar crystals, or powdered sugar to roll in. (I skipped doing this)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Remove wrappers from candies.
2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red sugar, granulated sugar, powdered sugar or a combination of any of the sugars. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press a candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies.

Rob tried them when he got home from work last night and wrote "Goooood :)" on the note pad, so they must be good.*wink*

For this and other great Hershey recipes, click HERE. I highly recommend their Peanut Butter Blossom Recipe.
A fun, festive looking cookie.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Having fun in the snow!
Toronto had it's first good dumping of snow in a couple years yesterday and I felt like a little kid when I got up this morning and peered out the window. I couldn't wait to get out and play in it!!

My eyes are closed because I'm laughing.
Getting ready to make a "Snow Angel".
Swish, swish, swish!
Help me up!?
You're never too old to play in the snow!!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Christmas card from Mom & Dad, 1989.

What an absolute joy it was to find this card this morning! I had been thinking about it all week.

This is the second Christmas without Mom, and even though I love this time of year, it's a little sad too. This Christmas card is special to me. It's the one she bought for me my first year away from home for Christmas. It was 1989 and I was spending Christmas with my brother in Toronto, in our new apartment. I had left Nova Scotia in March of that year to live in Toronto, Ontario.

I remember Mom had a difficult time getting into the holiday spirit that year without any of her children home. And I remember her telling me that this card really spoke to her, as it reminded her of Christmas pasts.

I'm not a pack rat, and I don't keep a lot of things, but I am so happy that I kept this, and I will treasure it every Christmas.  

Click to enlarge and read.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Letters to Santa from the movie, "Miracle on 34th Street
I have always loved sending and receiving Christmas cards. If you're on my list, you've probably already received yours. I now have a favor to ask of my blog readers, no matter where in the world you are. I would like you to mail a Christmas card to a couple in P.E.I. Why? Their son can explain better than I. Here are words from him, Mark Enman.
"This is a newspaper article about my mother Bev Enman and how she cherished the tradition of sending Christmas cards. My mom and her husband Donald have had a very rough few years. Both now live in a long term care facility due to the fact that they both suffer with dementia. Here is what I need from you.........It is simple.......My mom loved the movie Miracle on 34th Street. The part when all of the mailbags with letters addressed to Santa are dumped into the court room was her favorite. I want that same miracle for them. Please take the time to send them a Christmas card. If you don't know them, no matter. This would mean the world to them and my family, that suffers with them, especially this time of year. I would love to see their rooms flooded with Christmas cards. Please help me do this."
The mailing address is: Don & Bev Enman, C/O Summer Set Manor, 15 Frank Mellish Street, Summerside, PEI, C1N 0H3, Canada
Here is a link to the story in the Toronto Sun.  A group has also been set up on Facebook; Give Don and Bev a Miracle on 34th Street
Such a small gesture, huge impact. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Us with our feathery friend, Alex, on our first wedding anniversary.
Rob and I had a most memorable first wedding anniversary. It was the day we had a Snowy Owl in our truck.

Three years ago, when we first heard about and visited the Owl Foundation, Rob signed up to be a volunteer driver. They have volunteers all over Ontario who transport injured owls to their facility in Southern Ontario. This past Saturday, November 30th, was our one year wedding anniversary and the first time we helped deliver an owl to the foundation.

Now, Rob and I are never happy to hear about an injured owl or any bird or animal for that matter, but getting to help one this day, made the day even that much more special for us. We didn't have any real plans for the day and when we got the call we were more than happy to help. The volunteer drivers often work in teams to get the owl to the foundation and today was no exception. Our friends Murray and Debbie, who are also volunteer drivers, drove about an hour north of Toronto to pick up the owl, brought it to our place, and we made the drive south to the Owl Foundation.

It was a cold and quiet drive. We didn't turn the heat on for the owls comfort. No music was played and very little talking, as we didn't want to cause the owl any more stress. During the drive I couldn't help but think "I can't believe we have a Snowy Owl in the truck!". The owl didn't make a peep the whole drive.

We were happy to deliver the owl to the foundation and after a quick peek at our special passenger, a gorgeous female Snowy Owl, and a few words with the staff, we were on our way back to Toronto.

Feeling good after delivering our special passenger.
We made it back to the city in time to visit the open house event going on at our local Wild Birds Unlimited, who had some special guests of their own. Tracy and Bruce from the Canadian Peregrine Foundation were there with a couple of the educational birds, Alexandra, a Great Horned Owl, and Cheyenne, a Peregrine Falcon. We have never seen the store so packed! We also volunteer with this organization, so it was nice to see so many people there to check them out.

Rob relieved Bruce for a while by holding Alex, as she can get a little heavy after a while. 

Rob was thrilled to hold Alex for almost an hour.
Tracy with Cheyenne, not sure who loves who more.
Bruce with Alex. Bruce was in charge of fledge watch at our site this year.
After spending over an hour at the store we had to leave to get ready for our dinner date. We were finally trying a restaurant I'd been wanting to check out for years, La Castile. The food was delicious, and I loved the atmosphere. I felt like I was in an old castle, and Belle and Beast (Disney) were going to walk around the corner at any moment. It is a place to go and enjoy a long, leisurely dinner. Rob's parents often go here to celebrate their wedding anniversary, which is part of the reason we decided to go here, and we will make it our anniversary spot as well. As great as the dinner was, I'd be lying if I didn't admit the birds really made our anniversary as special as it was. 

It really was a pretty amazing first wedding anniversary for a couple of bird-nerds!

NOTE: I called to inquire about the Snowy Owl today and was told she is doing very well. Due to the seriousness of her injuries she will be over wintered at the foundation. They believe she was hit by a car due to the bruising and swelling. She has some eye damage as well, but no broken bones. They were moving her to an outdoor enclosure today and she is eating well, all good signs. I will call again in the new year for another update and we are all hopeful for a good recovery and release. She's in the right place for both.

There seems to be an irruption of Snowy Owls this year, please read and share the following advice. Thank you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


A tired, but happy group at the end of the day.
Last Saturday, Rob and I spent the day at Wild Birds Unlimited. Now, it's nothing new for Rob and I to loiter around our friends, Jim and Lynda's store, but this day, we were there for a good reason.

We were helping to raise money for Hobbitstee, a non for profit wildlife rehabilitation centre. Our goal for the day was to raise $1500, that's enough to build 2 songbird aviary's, one for smaller birds, and one for larger. These pre-release enclosures require special materials, as metal and other materials are very damaging to a birds feathers and can render them unable to fly.

Jim and Lynda donated lots of great raffle prizes from the store, and others donated prizes as well. There were snacks and coffee, and Hobbitstee brought a few of their educational animals to help educate the public about wildlife and why they belong in the wild.

 It was a busy, fun and educational day! We didn't quite reach our goal, raising $784 in the store. But, that is enough to build 1 much needed songbird aviary, and we were all thrilled. Chantal, the founder and licensed wildlife rehabilitator at Hobbittstee has been keeping me updated on donations that have been coming in via email donations specifically for the songbird aviary's since the event and at last count we are at $875!

Help us, help the birds!
Volunteer Chris, with Bilbo.
Bilbo is a groundhog, and will never be returned to the wild. He was stolen as a baby from his mother's den, after she was shot and killed, on purpose, so the the baby groundhogs could be taken because this person heard groundhogs made good pets. The Ministry of Natural Resources confiscated the groundhogs after learning of the incident. Only one groundhog had survived, and I had the privilege of naming him. It's a heartbreaking story and makes me angry, but also reinforces why the need for places such has Hobbitstee exist. Bilbo will spend the rest of his life as an educational animal, helping people to understand that wildlife belongs in the wild, and it is illegal to keep native wildlife has pets.

Educational display.
Lot's of great raffle prizes!
"Jim", the snapping turtle, looks up to see how we're doing.
Rob and I would like to personally thank everyone who came by the store that day and purchased raffle tickets, brought items off the wish list or made a straight donation. It was nice to see so many of our friends come out and support Hobbitstee. If you'd like to help, you still can, just email a money transfer to chantal@hobbitstee.com with "Songbird Aviary" in the subject line. 

Help us, help them!

Monday, November 18, 2013


A budgie trying to survive outside.
If this past week had a theme at our house, it would of been "Wildlife Rescue Week".
Rob got wind of an escaped budgie early in the week in the east end of the city and intervened quickly.

The older gentleman was just going to let nature take it's course. He had been watching this pretty blue budgie fly around his yard for over 2 months, and never once made an attempt to catch it. We think he enjoyed having the bird live in his yard, but with the colder weather coming, it would not have survivied, and he allowed Rob to help. The home owner plucked it from the bush it was sleeping in Thursday night and put it in the cage Rob and leant them and it spent the night in the home owner's garage.

Rob went to pick it up on Friday. Budgie is a girl, and the little blue budgie came to our house for a night. Rob had already put the word out on Facebook and other social media that we needed a home for another escaped budgie, as we are at our limit with two, both backyard rescues. I need to blog about my thoughts all these escaped non-native birds.

Anyway, I am thrilled to say that before we went to bed Friday night, we had a home for the little blue budgie, and not just a home, a fantastic home!! With someone who had other birds, and has had birds for years, and was thrilled to have her. What a relief! We delivered her on Saturday afternoon and finally met someone we had been wanting to meet in person for a couple years! It's a good feeling when you can find an escaped or unwanted animal a home, but when you KNOW without a doubt that the animal is going to a great home, it's a great feeling!  "Belle", as she has been named is settling in wonderfully in her new home and no longer has to worry about the cold weather or fighting the House Sparrows for food.

Hanging with the Sparrows.
 Next up we have "Sideways Sam", a grey Squirrel that calls our yard home, and I hope he gets to again. Rob noticed him a couple weeks ago, because one of his eyes was partially shut, and his balance wasn't great. At first we just monitored him to see if he was getting better or worse.

He started to get worse, and the decision was made to try to capture him. His balance was getting worse and watching him fall off the deck was only comical once, as it was truly heartbreaking to watch him try to survive. He was only half the size of the other squirrels. No matter how many peanuts Rob fed him, he wasn't putting on any winter weight.

Sunday morning, a very hungry Sam was captured in the live trap Rob had borrowed from Toronto Wildlife Centre. I stood in the kitchen window and cried like a baby when I saw him in the trap. I was crying because of how sick and scared he was, and also because I don't know if we will see him again. As Rob left with him for the centre, I was still crying. We don't know what is wrong with him, or if he can be cured. But, I do know, that whatever they decide at the TWC, it will be for the best, because Sam was suffering terribly, so I will be ok with whatever happens. To read more about Sam, check out Rob's latest blog here.

"Sideways Sam", we hope to see you again.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


The first comic I made of us.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed some of my Facebook friends had cartoons of themselves. I thought it was cute and I was curious about it. I found out it was it was an app called Bitstrips, where you can make an avatar of yourself, and make cartoons of yourself with other friends who have avatars.

Last night, after a long and stressful week at work, I "bitstriped" myself, it was fun a way to blow off  some steam, but after learning I could make an avatar of Rob, it was even more fun!!

Sometimes you just need to be silly. To learn more about Bitstrips, click here.

Aw, what a sweetie!
Like that would ever happen!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Catching up with "Echo", an Eastern Screech Owl.
Rob and I have been going to Mountsberg Conservation Area since our first New Years Day together in 2005. We've also been doing their Raptor Encounters at least once a year since they introduced them in 2010.

Yesterday, our first day of vacation, we were back again. We had invited friends to come with us, but didn't tell them where we were going or what we were doing, as I knew Andrea was going to be thrilled when she discovered the surprise.

Turns out, we got some surprises of our own. After walking the grounds a bit and seeing some of the raptors that call Mountsberg home, we headed in for our private raptor encounter. All of the birds that live at the raptor centre are injured or human imprinted and can't be returned to the wild. They are used for educational purposes.

When we walked through the "staff only" door, I automatically looked to the left, where I had seen Echo perched so many times before. My jaw dropped when I saw a Loggerhead Shrike there and knew Rob was going to be just as surprised as I was. As he has been wanting to see a Loggerhead Shrike in the wild since we've been birding, but this is the first time we've ever laid eyes on one. Mountsberg is involved with a Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Program that is doing very well, you can learn more about that here. Shrike Recovery Program    

For us, going back for the raptor encounters every year is a way to "catch up" with everything that has been going on at the facility since our last visit, and is like visiting friends we don't see often. We always learn something new though and we always look forward to going. Yesterday was extra special as we got to introduce friends to the experience, saw a Loggerhead Shrike for the first time, and saw one of their Bald Eagles, Pawgwa, is now all grown up with a complete white head! It was so surprising to us, as we've watched her mature over the years. Only mature Bald Eagles have the white heads and it takes them about 5 years to mature. It was a great day for all of us!    

Rob with the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike.
Andrea and Chris with Echo.
Another shot of me and Echo.
 When I say going year after year is like visiting old friends, I don't just mean the handlers and the volunteers there, who teach us so much, I also mean the birds. Here are a couple shots from years past.

First raptor encounter, first time meeting Echo. Sept. 2010
Rob with Otis, me with Echo. New Years Day, 2011
I got to take Echo outside, see how well she camouflages?! June 2011

I highly recommend visiting Mountsberg Conservation Area and if your interested in raptors, the raptor encounter is an excellent and educational experience.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


This year's group of girlfriends.
One weekend every year, for the past 12, I have organized a weekend at the Briars Resort, for a "Girls Getaway Weekend." We have gone up in every season, but the last two years have been in the Fall, and seems to be the favorite time of year to go.

The Briars is the perfect place for our annual retreat. The beautiful resort and grounds are only a little over an hour drive from Toronto and located on the shores of Lake Simcoe, you are surrounded by beauty. We have a private lodge all to ourselves away from the main lodge, where we take our delicious meals, swim in the pool or indulge in spa treatments.

I love not worrying about meal planning, doing dishes or even making my bed! It's a very self indulgent weekend celebrating friendship. 

Here's a picture peek at what our weekends look like:

The main building is surrounded by beautiful grounds. 
We had a campfire back at our lodge after dinner the first night, under a full moon.
Sunrise view from the "backyard" of our lodge.
The lovely walk to the main building.
Spa time!
I often tell people it's worth going to the Briars just for the food. It is delicious! Three gourmet meals a day are included in the overnight packages, and we take full advantage. Here's what I had for dinner Saturday, and this is just a sample of the offerings. I had their Sweet Potato and Onion Glazed Soup three times this past weekend it was so good! 

Goat Cheese and Roasted Beet Salad.
Shrimp Fettuccine in a light cream sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Pumpkin Ice-Cream.
People have asked me over the years why we don't try some other place once in a while. The answer is easy, we're at home at the Briars. See ya next year!

Here's to another fabulous weekend!