Posted in cottage life, loreeebee.ca, nature

Cottage Season is Coming

Cottage season is coming, fast. With increased COVID numbers and resulting restrictions, it cannot come too soon. Isolating at the lake is something we were grateful for last summer, although spending time there is always a relaxing, “unplugged” experience, regardless of what is happening around the world.

Ice on the Lake

A few weeks ago we visited Palmerston Lake to check on our cottage. We took our four year old uber-adventurous grandson with us to show him what the place looks like in winter. He was thrilled to walk on the ice and climb on the frozen pile of leaves. He was disappointed however, that the snakes and frogs were still sleeping…

This Easter weekend, less than three weeks later, we visited again to begin the annual spring cleanup. The grandson stayed home to enjoy Easter festivities, but I couldn’t help reflecting on how much he would love to see the ice breaking up.

It always amazes me how quickly the ice leaves the lake every spring. The property is now snow-free even though we had to park on the road and wade through the snow last visit. By next week the ice will be totally gone!

Cottage Season is Coming

Spring Cottage Chores

Even though we rake up most leaves in the fall at the end of each season, there are always some that are still clinging to the trees as we are closing up. That means there are still lots to rake up in the spring too.

That’s the downside of a heavily treed lot. The advantage of course, is the natural beauty and shade these trees provide in the summer months.

We use plastic bags saved from new mattresses to collect and transport the leaves to the huge leaf pile. These bags make the chore much easier, and fold up for storage between uses. Over the season the leaves break down, providing soil amendment for garden areas.

lots of leaves

Unfortunately, a cold north wind was blowing off the lake during this visit, much to the annoyance of my arthritic hips. I paid for that in pain on return to the city. Once the cold gets in my bones, the ache is hard to dispel.

Gypsy Moth Damage

Last year I told you about the infestation of gypsy moths at the lake. Apparently it was a record year for them in Eastern Ontario, affecting not only deciduous trees but evergreens too.

We have been praying that our trees will survive this onslaught. While the deciduous trees don’t appear to suffer long term, (their leaves return each year) the growth of the evergreens (spruce and pines) is much slower. The needles take much longer to regrow, if they do at all.

I hesitate to cut the damaged tops off these pines and spruce as that would alter the natural shape of the trees, making them bushier and rounder at the bottom. Instead we will wait to see how much regrowth they put out this season.

COVID Affecting Cottage and Campsite Rentals

Last summer Canadians stayed close to home, visiting local cottages and campgrounds more than ever before. We were no exception. With the heat wave we experienced it was a no brainer to isolate at our family cottage. While visitors outside our immediate family were not invited, we managed to get our sons’ families to join us, albeit separately.

Conclusion

This season promises to be even busier for cottage and campsite rentals as we head into a (possible) second summer of isolation restrictions. I’ve heard that campsites are booking up fast as families know to expect availability shortages this summer. If you haven’t already, you might want to get on it soon!

As spring weather warms us up, we relish the fact that cottage season is coming!

Cottage Season is Coming
Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, nature

Propagating Plants From Seeds: What I have Learned

Anyone who has tried propagating plants from seeds will tell you the process is not as easy as it seems. Each year I give it a try, without much success. The ideal time to start the process is six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area when they can be planted outdoors.

This year I started way back in the fall with my oldest granddaughter. We have had some success, but not much.

Since then I have researched more and tried different techniques. I can get the seeds sprouted but the sprouts always flop over and shrivel up.

My latest attempts (it has been a long winter) have been more successful, using these techniques:

Humidity

Humidity is a must to coax the seeds to sprout. I have several mini greenhouses and peat pellets that are perfect for for achieving humidity levels the seeds require. This is especially important as most homes have lower humidity levels during the winter months.

propagating plants from seeds: what I have learned

Labels

My granddaughter convinced me to use labels to differentiate the seedlings in their rows within the greenhouse. She noticed my memory is not as good as hers, so thought the labels would help me remember what I planted. She was right.

Grow or Heat Lamps

Once the seeds sprout, the seedlings need heat and light. This can be achieved by keeping the seedlings in a warm window, rotating them often so they grow straight up and not tilted towards the sunshine. Or, you can create warmth and artificial light with a grow/heat lamp.

I am using a desk top in a south facing, sunny window as my propagation station.

propagating plants from seeds: what I have learned

Hydrogen Peroxide

With the humidity comes the growth of mold and mildew on the soil surface. Both are disastrous to seedlings, causing them to wither away.

Cleaning all your (previously used) containers before use with undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide will sterilize them, reducing the chance of mold. You can purchase hydrogen peroxide in your local grocery store or pharmacy and pour it into a spray bottle, or already in a spray bottle here.

Spraying the soil surface daily with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water (1:4) once the seeds have sprouted will keep mold at bay. This solution will also kill any fungus gnats (the tiny fruit fly-like bugs) hovering around your baby plants.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is not just a tasty and aromatic ingredient in your spice cabinet. Sprinkling it liberally on the top of your seed pellets, before the seeds sprout, will help control mold growth so the seedlings have a fighting chance breaking through the soil.

Transplanting

The use of peat pellets make it simple to transplant the seedlings into larger containers. I just squish them into a pot filled with soil. The size of the new container will dictate how many pellets I transplant into each container.

I like to use a premium potting soil with lots of moisture retaining ingredients to enhance drainage, aeration and add some nutrients.

This is when I use the hydrogen peroxide solution described above to keep the bugs away.

Sticky Bug Catchers

In between the spraying of the peroxide solution, sticky bug catchers work great too to capture the little fungus gnats that like to hang around the plants. They are durable and harmless to kids and pets.

I also use these bug traps in my house plants to keep other insects at bay. They work on the fruit flies and mosquitoes that are more prevalent around here in the summer months…

propagating plants from seeds: what I have learned
warning: bugs appear much bigger here, zoomed in.

Conclusions

A heat source might be a good addition to my experiments as my house does cool off at night. I am considering purchasing heat mats to place below each container to maintain a more consistent temperature for the seedlings. I would love some feedback on these.

There are lots of seeds that can be directly sewn into your gardens and outdoor containers. Of course, they have their own issues. Birds, wandering grandchildren, overgrowing established plants are just a few.

Obviously I could use advice to improve my rate of successful propagation. If any of you have had greater success in propagating plants from seeds, please pass it on!

Oh, and the labels work well outside too to remind me where I planted which seeds.

Posted in health & wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health, nature, nutrition

4 Ways to up your Mood when the Weather is Down

This article was originally posted on Higher Dose, and modified for a guest post here on Loreeebee.

It’s officially #PSL season, which means it’s time to put on our cozy knits, binge watch Netflix, light a million candles, and excitedly cancel plans with friends. Even though we all look to fall and winter as a time to get hygge, the novelty of the season can wear off quickly as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, lowering our moods and affecting our health.

People often joke about “winter blues” and Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it’s actually a diagnosable type of depression that is prompted by cold weather and less sunlight, affecting 5% of Americans.

How does this happen? 

It’s not all in your head!

The sun naturally releases a broad spectrum of light throughout the day to help signal our body’s many functions. In the morning and afternoons, we take in more blue light to release cortisol, so we have the energy to be more productive. In the evenings, we’re meant to start winding down with red light and infrared as a way to prompt our melatonin production to facilitate better sleep.

When the days are shorter and colder, we’re taking in less energy-giving light, nutrient-dense vitamin D (which is necessary for immune function), and fewer healing vibrations from nature’s fresh air, resulting in lower energy, chronic fatigue, increased hunger, and interrupted sleep.  Plain and simple: Good, nourishing recovery is a lot harder to achieve.

Don’t let this info get you down. Here are some quick and easy ways to hack your mood as the seasons change.

Get a DOSE of happy vibes

Happiness comes from the feel-good chemicals in our brains:

Dopamine: A hormone and neurotransmitter that stimulates the nervous system functions like pleasure and attention.

Oxytocin: Aka the “love hormone” that decreases stress and anxiety levels.

Serotonin: A neurotransmitter that is often released by the sun and infrared light therapy. It’s essential for balancing mood, memory, sleep, and sexual desire

Endorphins: A group of hormones that reduce pain and increase pleasure and overall well being. They are often released during exercise, hence the term, “a runner’s high.”

Hot Tip: If you’re in NYC, zen out in one of our warm, soothing saunas for a serotonin-releasing moodlifter. At home instead? No problem! Cocooning yourself in our Infrared Sauna Blanket will release your endorphins without ever having to move a muscle. Burning ~600 calories during one single sweat session, your body will feel like it worked out while staying relaxed AND detoxified. Better circulation, mood, and glowing skin are a plus.

Use a light box

Light boxes, along with infrared therapy, are a popular treatment option for seasonal affective disorder.

There are a broad spectrum of light therapies:

Sunlamps  Improve Vitamin D absorption and increase overall energy levels
Red Light Therapy Focuses more on deeply-penetrating muscles and tissues to calm the skin, manage hormone production, and boost the immune system


If you can’t spend 30 minutes or more in the sun per day and are faced with a dark sky when you wake up in the morning, consider a light therapy box first-thing when you wake up to help get your body on a normal schedule.

Get good vibrations from nature

The Japanese practice something called shinrin-yoku, which translates to forest-bathing. “But how do I bathe in a forest?!” Don’t take it literally.

It’s just the act of being in nature and connecting to yourself through your senses. It helps to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure to relax the body and focus the mind.

The reason being in nature is considered such a healing, mood-boosting activity is because plants release the chemical, phytoncide, which has antibacterial and antifungal qualities that can increase our white blood cells and help strengthen our immune response to foreign invaders.

Nature also gives off literal good vibrations. The Earth has a natural frequency of 7.8hz, which sends low-level frequency through our bodies to help recharge our cells and heal us from the inside out.

If you don’t live near nature, or it’s too cold to go outside, consider:

  • Keeping plants inside your home for at-home plant benefits
  • Try our Infrared PEMF Mat, which uses PEMF, infrared heat, and Negative Ion Therapy to send Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency throughout your body. Go deeper with your DOSE while getting the ultimate recharge.

Skip comfort eating

Like bears who eat more as they prepare to hibernate during the winter months, we too get excited to indulge as the weather gets colder.

BUT, managing seasonal depression and keeping your mood HIGH starts with eliminating sugar when you can.

Refined starches and carbs that lack fiber and are high-glycemic can directly impact your hormones, which directly affects your happy chemicals. Your gut manages the majority of the hormone production in your body and sends direct messages to your brain. you consume sugar, you end up feeding bad bacteria in your gut that can throw the chemicals in your brain off-balance.

Sticking with whole foods that are nutrient-dense is ideal, but if you do decide you want to get into the goodies, try one of these detoxes to reset your system and get back on track.

Conclusions

This guest post fits in well with my theme as many of these points have been discussed previously on Loreeebee. For many of us, our mental health is taking a beating during the pandemic. Nature is a huge part of my life, as is nutrition. Research tells us that nature, nutrition and mental health go hand in hand.

If you decide to try the infrared sauna blanket, please use my referral code to save us both some money. I’m hoping Santa reads this; I would love one!

Posted in lorieb.wordpress.com, nature

Early Morning Adventures

One thing I do not miss since I retired from my career as a medical laboratory technologist is the early morning wake-ups. Unless of course an early morning is the prelude to a vacation, something we are all just dreaming about these days. Although I have discovered since retiring that I am not a morning person, especially when it is cold and still dark outside, I have been up (literally) for some morning adventures lately.

As mentioned previously, I have been helping my seven year old granddaughter with her online school lessons. On the mornings her mother goes to work (outside the home) said granddaughter is dropped off around 6:20am. I roll out of bed around 6:05, although hubby is up at 5:50, so my last 15 minutes are quite unsatisfactory. Since the e-learning does not start until 9am, we have some time for some non-school related activities beforehand. After my morning coffee that is.

This morning, even before the sun was fully awake, we baked muffins and played the piano. Home Economics and Music classes: check. We are hoping to impress the family with a “concert” at Christmastime, but still need lots of practice.

When the sun was high enough in the morning sky to warm things up a bit, we ventured out for a skip (think “we’re off to see the wizard” skip/dance) around the block. Gym class: check!

On these walks I am always impressed with and inspired by the beauty Mother Nature has to offer. Sometimes I have to wait until my heart rate slows enough to snap some pictures. This morning it was dew drops and fog remnants that caught my fancy:

Tomorrow I will get back to my Gardens4u business as fall cleanups and lawn care are beckoning. As I reminded you last month, this time of year is the most effective time to improve the quality of your lawns. The heavy dew and fog like this morning’s are perfect for reseeding or fertilizing!

Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, nature

Fall is the Best Time to Improve your Lawn

With cooler nights as well as more and longer lasting dew on the ground each morning, fall is the best time to improve the quality of your lawn. If your lawn looks terrible due to the long drought we endured this summer, this post is for you!

Recovering from Summer

My lawn held up amazingly well (some weeds moved in along the curb, but the grass recovered) in the drought this summer, much better than many others in my neighbourhood, and also much better than it ever has other summers. I suspect the TLC I showed it last fall is the reason for that.

Fall lawn repair
front lawn

Fall Lawn Regime

That sign of success means I will be following a similar protocol this season:

  • aerating
  • adding composted manure and seed
  • applying a fall fertilizer six weeks after seeding
  • cutting the lawn shorter than usual before the first snowfall

Aerating

When you aerate, ensure you use a proper aerator (hire someone to do it for you) that digs out plugs of soil. The inexpensive, so-called aerating tools that you step on do more damage to your lawn as they compact the soil instead of aerating it.

Fall lawn repair
aerated lawn

Composted Manure vs Garden Soil for Lawns

I choose composted manure, either sheep or cattle/steer, because I have yet to find a bad bag of it. By bad I mean no weeds or junk in it. In the past I have purchased bags and loads of soil, from garden soil to black earth, that were loaded with weeds seeds, garbage and even cigarette butts. Never again! You can purchase composted manure at Home Depot, Lowes or locally at Ritchies Nurseries. I would not however, recommend the brand that Canadian Tire sells.

Fertilize

If you plan to fertilize your lawn, pay attention to the three numbers on the bags. In order, they represent the nutrient levels of Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash/Potassium in the fertilizer. In September, as lawns recover from the summer weather, choose a fertilizer highest in Nitrogen for a slow growth.

Later in the fall, choose one with a higher middle number to stimulate root growth and protection over the winter.

Reseed

If you plan to reseed because your lawn has bare spots and lots of weeds, you should wait six weeks after seeding to apply fertilizer. Be sure too to invest in grass seed specific for your location and sun exposure. If you are one of the lucky ones and do not plan/need to reseed, you can fertilize twice as indicated, once now (September) and again in November.

I promise, it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds! Next summer your lawn will be grateful for the extra TLC you provide this fall.

Posted in grandkids, grandparents, loreeebee.ca, nature

Fun (and safe) Things to do with Kids During a Pandemic

Are you having a difficult time keeping your kids or grandkids entertained during the pandemic? Luckily for me, my grandchildren love the outdoors and nature, giving us lots of options to choose from.

Last week we took a road trip to my grandparents farm where they could run around outside while I had a socially distanced visit with my aunt and uncle.

This week we stayed in Ottawa, driving a short jaunt to the Log Farm. Pandemic precautions were in place, but fairly inconspicuous for the children.

  • lots of hand sanitizer around the spacious farm yard
  • masks mandatory in the gift shop and indoor bathroom, but not outdoors
  • tickets purchased online to control number of visitors
  • two 90 minute sessions available with farm yard activities cleaned between sessions
  • attractions, activities well spaced out to encourage social distancing
  • outdoor bathrooms available

It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for checking out the animals and exploring the farm yard activities. Check out the pictures!


Another popular outing for us takes advantage of the many groomed woodland trails throughout the Ottawa area. My grandkids love to wander through the forests and across the wetland boardwalks, feeding the birds and looking for frogs, turtles and the like.

Hazeldean Woods is right in my neighbourhood, so readily accessible. Now that kids are allowed back on play structures at the city parks, we can walk to the park and through the woods. And back to Grandma’s house, without encountering the Big Bad Wolf!

When the weather keeps us indoors, baking is always a hit, especially the mixing bowl clean up and taste testing!

By the way, in case you were wondering, the feature picture (top of article) is a reflection of my 3.5 year old grandson and I looking for frogs, lying on our tummies on a boardwalk, along one of the mentioned trails.

Posted in cottage life, lorieb.wordpress.com, nature

The Simple Things in Life

Have you noticed that it’s the simple things in this crazy, (hopefully) unique, pandemic- gripped world we are living in that are providing the greatest comfort and pleasure?

I sure hope you’ve noticed! Six months in now, we (most of us) have been forced to slow down and reevaluate our lifestyles. Extra-curricular activities, travel and general running around has been curtailed, if not completely shut down. People are taking up cooking, baking, gardening, and DIY projects like never before.

These are a few of the simple things I have been enjoying. I guess I always have enjoyed them, am just appreciating them more these days…

  • Spending as much time with my family as possible. I am fortunate to have three grown sons, two daughter-in-laws, and five grandchildren that I adore. My husband says I glow when the kids are around, I guess that says it all!

  • Sitting on the shore of, (watching the wildlife), swimming in or flying across the surface of a beautiful, crystal clear lake. Cottage life itself is simple (for us) as our 3 bedroom, 1 bath and small kitchen are rustic, taking just an hour to clean. Add a fire pit and a propane BBQ and what more do you need, really?
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Posted in lorieb.wordpress.com, nature, ontario

Imperial Moths and Caterpillars

Recently I told you about our experience with gypsy moths. After that batch of destructive caterpillars made their presence known on our cottage lot, we discovered another caterpillar, this one quite striking.

It was huge, over three inches in length and one half an inch in diameter. It was bright green in colour, with white spots and bristles. Google claims this caterpillar belongs to the Imperial Moth, and Wikipedia claims it is not found much further north than the New England states. That explains why we have never seen one before. I guess this guy wandered a little too far north.

I have been teaching my grandchildren the wonders of nature. I have no doubt my three year old grandson would love this colourful caterpillar; my granddaughters not so much. It has been much more difficult to convince them that (some) bugs are beautiful and beneficial.

We will keep our eyes out for the Imperial Moth this caterpillar will morph into next spring. It should be easy to spot as they can reach five and a half inches in size!

Posted in cottage life, lorieb.wordpress.com, nature

Gypsy Moths Defoliating Eastern Ontario Forests

Gypsy moths, at least the caterpillars that morph into the moths, have defoliated many deciduous trees in Eastern Ontario

The trees at our cottage on Palmerston Lake in Ompah, Ontario have not been spared.

First we noticed lots (more than usual) of these brown moths flying around our property…

Curious, I googled them to see if they could be responsible for the defoliation of our trees.

Sure enough, the brown moths pictured above are the male gypsy moths.

The males fly around looking for the white, non-flying female versions to inpregnate. The females crawl on the ground, attracting the males with a sex hormone, after which the females crawl onto a tree trunk or any other vertical surface (including our garage wall) to lay their eggs.

The eggs are enclosed in a oval-shaped, soft sac. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars crawl further up the trees to continue the destructive cycle.

Gypsy moth egg sac (opened)

Once we discovered what they were, my hubby went around the property scraping (the ones he could reach) the egg sacs off, letting the eggs fall to the ground for the birds and other insects to enjoy.

Perhaps we are tampering with nature, but the damage these caterpillars inflict on.our trees is incredible.

Here’s hoping the trees will recover!

Posted in cottage life, lorieb.wordpress.com, nature

Because I’m the Mommy, That’s Why!

Over the summer months we have been watching several families of ducks travel back and forth across our waterfront at the cottage.  We are situated on a small bay, so offer a safe route for their travels.  If all is quiet next door, the ducks will stop for a rest on the neighbour’s floating raft. Their routine never fails to amaze me..

 

As soon as mom senses danger (hears any noise at all) she heads to the corner of the raft furthest from the perceived danger, wakes them up, then jumps into the water with them all following suit.

It reminds me of the phrase I used to tell my young boys…Because I’m the mommy, that’s why!

Watch this video of one such process. The ducks were resting in clusters on the raft when a boat went by, although quite a ways out from shore. Mom jumped in and the others followed, until they were swimming in a row. They swam under our dock, then settled in a tiny sheltered alcove for a longer rest out of my camera range.

I used to have a magnet on my fridge with the same cute saying on it, but don’t know where it disappeared to over the years. Perhaps one of my ducklings didn’t like it as much as I do!

Apparently this saying is quite common, you can order lots of items imprinted with it from Zazzle