Christmas Ornament 2019

Behold our annual ornament to commemorate the past year. We spent an amazing week in the Rockies in June and loved it. This is the 11th year we’ve been choosing one ornament that reflects a memorable event and placing it at the top of our tree.

This is a wooden ornament of a bear in a canoe. 🙂 We saw tons of bears on our trip. More bears than canoes actually!

2020: A Look Ahead

I love this time of year. I get to think ahead and plan what I’ll be tackling from my Life List in the coming year. Similar to years past, we already know where we’ll be traveling, so those will get crossed off in 2020. I want to cross off a few others as well; some of which I’ve been carrying forward for a couple of years so it’s time to get them done. 🙂

  • Travel to England
  • Travel to Scotland
  • Ride on the Tube in London
  • Visit Buckingham Palace in London
  • Visit the Tower of London
  • Tour a castle in Europe
  • Ride the Jacobite Train in Scotland
  • Visit Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Visit the Highlands, Scotland
  • Take a picture with a guard in London
  • See Big Ben
  • Have bangers and mash in England
  • Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour in England
  • Learn to crochet
  • Knit a shawl
  • Attend a paint & wine class
  • Make yogurt
  • Make cheese
  • Make homemade pita bread

I’ll also be keeping my usual “annual” goals:

  • Watch 50 movies
  • Cook 30 new recipes
  • Read 10 books

I’m still figuring out what to add in terms of houseplants and other gardening things and will do so eventually. 🙂 Looking forward to 2020!

Life List Recap 2019

Wow – 2019 went by in a flash! This year-end is even more meaningful because it’s also the end of a decade! 2020 seemed so far away when we were kids…and now it’s here. 🙂

This year I was able to cross off several Life List items, quite a few related to travel (as usual):

  • Make fresh pasta
  • Stay in a cabin in the woods
  • Visit Banff, Alberta
  • Visit Jasper, Alberta
  • See Lake Louise in Alberta
  • Drive the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
  • Hike in the Rockies
  • Hike to one of the teahouses in the Rockies
  • Propagate a plant cutting successfully

I continued my food preservation skills and was able to complete the following:

  • Make freezer jam (cherry, strawberry, apricot)
  • Make and freeze cherry pie filling
  • Make and freeze apple and caramelized onion chutney
  • Make pickles (refrigerator and freezer): dill, sweet, bread and butter
  • Make dilly green beans
  • Grow and dry herbs for tea (chamomile, lemon balm and mint) – I made three different blends this year (just mint, mint + lemon balm, and mint + lemon balm + chamomile)
  • Grow and dry herbs for cooking: parsley, chives, oregano
  • Make blueberry compote
  • Make and freeze pesto
  • Make and freeze salsa
  • Make and freeze tomato sauce

I also learned a lot in terms of gardening, yardwork and plant-related skills which I’m pretty proud of!

  • Grow lavender and harvest / make lavender sachets
  • Learn how to edge a flower bed
  • Propagate a plant via cuttings in water and in soil
  • Make bamboo teepee trellises
  • Overseed a lawn
  • Learn how and when to properly prune various shrubs and plants
  • Plant containers (fall)
  • Dig up / move plants properly
  • Collect seeds for planting next year (rudbeckia)
  • Plant bulbs
  • Grow/maintain houseplants (I currently have 30 with a growing wish list)

And of my usual annual counts, I completed 1 of 3 – I was close on the other 2 as well so will likely maintain the same targets for 2020.

  • Watch 50 movies: I’m currently at 43 and we’re going to watch the new Star Wars this afternoon. I don’t think I’ll make it to 50 though. 🙂
  • Cook 30 new recipes: I cooked 25. Not bad – almost made it!
  • Read 10 books: Success – I recently started book #11 a couple of days ago.

Those who know me know that my interest in gardening and houseplants increased tremendously this year so I’ll likely be adding more life list items related to those activities. Stay tuned!

Coming up next: What’s the plan for 2020?

It’s been a great gardening season. 🙂

We had our backyard landscaping done. We had grass in the back and raised beds against the fence but we decided to remove the grass, move the veggie beds into the middle of the backyard, surround with pea gravel and plant perennials around the perimeter. The landscaping was done in May and I was able to move/plant into my veggie boxes while they finished the perimeter. It worked out quite well!

Here are some pics of how the garden evolved this summer as well as some of the goodies I made. I can’t tell you how nice it is to open a jar of strawberry jam or bite into a crunchy pickle in the middle of January – it brings summer right back to mind. 🙂

* * *

This was when landscaping began in May and the very beginning of prepping the raised beds / supports. I called these my homemade “blair witch” teepees since they looked like the stick figure dolls from the movie LOL – they look bare now but wait until you see them later – they did me proud!

Meanwhile, I had started seeds indoors…

I also got some transplants from the garden centre

Tomatoes, marigolds, lettuce, basil

Tomatoes, marigolds, basil, chives, rosemary, oregano, parsley

San marzano tomatoes, pole beans and bush peas

Things are growing… 🙂

Lettuce bolting in the heat of summer, cherry tomatoes doing well

No sign of the teepees under there now. I called them my bean monster!

I grew herbs in containers to dehydrate for tea (chamomile, mint and lemon balm)

Planted radishes and spinach for a quick fall crop

Some of harvests and goodies:


Strawberry jam


Bread and butter pickles

Dill pickles

Lavender (I had a helper)

Lettuce (with a helper)

My helper is pooped and loves sleeping on the dehydrator (it gets warm when it’s on)

Cherry jam and pie filling

Dilly beans

The beans came from this monster 🙂

We had a TON of beans…and they kept coming…had to give some away

Went apricot-picking at a farm nearby

Made pesto with the basil harvest (2 helpers this time)

Made blueberry compote

Herb harvest – dried the chives, oregano and rosemary

Prepared the fall containers out front 🙂



Near the end now-  just some turnips, beets and lettuce left.  And the bed closest to the bottom has the garlic – to be harvested next July. 🙂

Definitely a good garden season! And my freezer is loaded with lots of yummy things to tide us over til it starts all over again next spring. 🙂

Over the past year, I’ve been putting together a monthly checklist of garden tasks more for my own planning purposes but thought it might be worth sharing. 🙂

As we’re nearing the end of the gardening season (in my zone 6b) and putting things to bed, I’m comforted by the fact that there are still things to plan for (and dream about!) during the winter months.

I’ll likely modify the checklist as time goes on and things change but for now, this has worked well for the things I grow in my garden (mainly veggies and perennials, some annuals). I plant veggies in raised beds using the square foot gardening method and have perennials in my front and back yards, plus some containers for annuals/holiday interest and some herbs) . Enjoy!


  • Review gardening journal (to review what worked, what didn’t, etc.)
  • Plan spring garden (layout, what to grow, succession planting, companion planting, etc.)
  • Prepare schedule (indoor sowing, set out dates, direct sowing outdoors)
  • Take stock of supplies and what will need to be purchased/replenished
  • Enjoy preserved food from last year’s harvest


  • Order seeds and supplies
  • Prepare indoor greenhouse and clean/prepare containers


  • Start seeds indoors for cool-weather crops or those that take more time to germinate/grow (e.g. tomatoes, marigolds, etc.)
  • Prepare garden beds (add compost, remove any debris, etc.)


  • Start seeds indoors for warm weather crops or those that take less time to germinate (e.g. parsley, chives, lemon balm, chamomile,
  • Plant cold hardy seeds outside (e.g. peas, lettuce, etc.)
  • Add compost to raised beds (if it wasn’t done in March)
  • Plan / build any supports (stakes, trellises)


  • Finish preparing raised beds (if not done yet)
  • Ensure all supplies are on hand / get any last minute items (compost, tools, green garden tape for staking, supports, etc.)
  • Plant seedlings outside
  • Prune perennials
  • Replace any perennials that didn’t survive the winter
  • Fertilize perennials
  • Start watering schedule
  • Update garden journal


  • Fertilize veggies, perennials and annuals (according to schedule)
  • Harvest cool weather veggies including lettuce, peas, garlic scapes, etc.
  • Start harvesting herbs and dehydrate for tea (mint, lemon balm, chamomile)
  • Pick up at local farm: strawberries and rhubarb and make strawberry freezer jam and strawberry/rhubarb crisp
  • Start fall transplants if doing so (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.)
  • Prune tomato plants (remove suckers)
  • Pinch basil flowers
  • Update garden journal


  • Fertilize veggies, perennials and annuals (according to schedule)
  • Watch for pests and deal with them (e.g. Japanese beetles, etc.)
  • Pull up peas and other early spring done crops and add compost to empty spots
  • Direct seed fast growing fall crops (radishes, spinach)
  • Transplant fall brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli)broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Harvest herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, beans
  • Harvest and cure garlic
  • Dry chamomile, mint and lemon balm for tea
  • Pick up pickling cucumbers and make refrigerator pickles
  • Pick at local farms: strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots and make freezer jam and pie filling
  • Reduce tomato watering (create heat stress & encourage ripening) – end of month
  • Update garden journal


  • Fertilize veggies, perennials and annuals (according to schedule)
  • Harvest tomatoes, beans, herbs)
  • Harvest lavender – make sachets
  • Buy fall bulbs
  • Seed fall crops (carrots, radishes, turnips, beets, lettuce, kale, chard)
  • Pull up done crops
  • Make and freeze salsa
  • Make pickles, dilly beans
  • Dehydrate herbs for tea
  • Trim marigolds
  • Prune perennials
  • Pick at local farms: peaches – and make freezer jam
  • Update garden journal


  • Prune tomatoes (remove/pinch flowers so energy goes to ripening fruit)
  • Prune marigolds
  • Dehydrate herbs for tea
  • Pick at local farm: Apples
  • Make apple crisp, apple & onion chutney, applesauce, apple pie filling
  • Buy garlic bulbs (fall planting)
  • Replace / plant containers for fall
  • Plant new perennials, shrubs, trees
  • Pull up spent summer crops (tomatoes, beans)
  • Harvest radishes, last of the tomatoes
  • Update garden journal


  • Harvest fall crops (carrots, beets, turnips, lettuce, spinach)
  • Pull up spent crops
  • Plant garlic
  • Prepare raised beds for winter / add compost
  • Cut back perennials for winter
  • Protect perennials /grasses
  • Fall cleanup
  • Pick apples at local farm
  • Make apple desserts and things to freeze
  • Pick up pine cones and branches for winter decor
  • Cover patio furniture
  • Cover BBQ
  • Plan winter containers
  • Update garden journal


  • Prepare winter containers (pull out fall annuals
  • Harvest cabbage, broccoli, etc.
  • Clean garden tools
  • Store hose(s) in garage
  • Update garden journal
  • Enjoy goodies made during the summer (freezer jam, salsa, pickles, pies, etc.)


  • Maintain winter containers
  • Hang wreath / greenery
  • Make xmas decor / ornaments
  • Start planning for spring garden!

Life List Update

I was able to cross off a few more items off of my life list on our recent trip. 🙂

  • Stay in a cabin in the woods
  • Visit Banff, Alberta
  • Visit Jasper, Alberta
  • See Lake Louise in Alberta
  • Drive the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
  • Hike to one of the teahouses in the Rockies

That brings the total to 326 completed of 470.