Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca, nature, Ottawa

Mud Lake: a Nature Lover’s Paradise in the Heart of Ottawa

Recently I took my four year old grandson to Mud Lake, tucked in between the water filtration plant and Britannia beach in Ottawa. More of a (man made) wetland than a lake, Mud Lake is sure to delight nature lovers of any age. Also called the Britannia Conservation area, Mud Lake is maintained by the National Capital Commission (NCC)

Animals in Their Natural Habitat

On our 3.5 km trek around the lake, we saw numerous friendly adult and baby ducks and geese, turtles, tiny frogs and tadpoles, huge bullfrogs, beaver dams (but no beavers) rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees and herons.

My grandson wanted to catch them all, but I convinced him to leave them there with their mommies and daddies.

Directions to Mud Lake

You can get there off Poulin, then Howe Street or by following Britannia Road to Cassels Street, next to the Britannia Yacht club. There are a few designated parking spots, but parking on either Howe Street on the south side or Cassels Road on the north side is easier and permitted. There are entrances to the trails around the perimeter of the lake from both sides.

NCC Rules

There are no dogs allowed and no bikes on the trails. These rules make sense as the area is supposed to be about conservation, namely the health and happiness of the wildlife that considers this area their home.

Although you are not supposed to feed the animals, the geese and ducks in particular were quite friendly, approaching us looking for food.

This aggressiveness is one reason you are not supposed to feed them. Creating dependence on humans for food is another reason to avoid feeding them our food. Ideally, they should be able to forage for any food they need to survive.

Respecting the natural beauty is an essential rule. No littering is obvious. Trails are well maintained and should be adhered to for protection of the fragile eco system.

When to Visit Mud Lake

Open year round, Mud Lake offers beauty, peacefulness and nature at its best throughout each season. Birds are predominant in the winter months, but the trails themselves are especially beautiful when snow covered.

Between Mud Lake and the yacht club, the elevated trails can be icy in the winter and spring though, so explore these carefully.

In the spring, migratory birds are abundant, in fact the area is know to bird watchers and photographers. The latest report shows 269 bird species!

In the summer months the wetlands come to life, full of all sorts of creatures. The trails are wide and easily manageable, even for seniors or baby strollers.

Favourite Moment

After our hike around the lake, we were enjoying a snack when a snake-like formation of geese approached. Mom was in the lead with at least 18 babies following along. They waddled ashore right beside us, climbed the small embankment and disappeared across the road…

Posted in lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa, sports

Locked in with the Ladies

Alyssa Lyons, Michelle Knezovic, and Lindsay Eastwood are the ladies locked in to discussions on anything sports related, with Chiann Nobrega as the editor and producer. I became aware of this YouTube series because Lindsey Eastwood is a fantastic local hockey player.

I say local because she grew up here in Ottawa playing minor hockey, but spent the most recent years playing for Syracuse University in New York state. As their team captain I should add.

Lindsey’s dedication and enthusiasm for hockey is (and has been for years) evident to anyone that knows her or of her; her success is so well deserved. Lindsey’s parents are the quintessential hockey parents so prevalent here in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, known for its tightly knit hockey community. When one of our kids succeed, we are all thrilled and proud. Thanks to Facebook and other methods of social media, we can all stay updated on their progress.

I do not know much about the other women involved, but if they are anywhere near as inspirational and knowledgeable as Lindsey is, this adventure should be awesome. Find out for yourself. Lock in with the ladies to check out their weekly episodes and subscribe to their success.

locked in with the ladies
Posted in Canada, current events, lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa

Visit the Canadian Tulip Festival, virtually

Our Canadian Tulip Festival, an annual event here in Ottawa since 1953, is a true harbinger of spring. Thousands of tulips, in every colour imaginable, line the flower beds stretching along the Rideau Canal, the same canal, by the way, that becomes the world largest skating rink in the winter, but I digress. Back to the tulip festival…

The Canadian Tulip Festival was established to celebrate the historic Royal gift of tulips from the Dutch to Canadians immediately following the Second World War as a symbol of international friendship. The Festival preserves the memorable role of the Canadian troops in the liberation of the Netherlands and Europe, as well as commemorates the birth of Dutch Princess Margriet in Ottawa during World War II—the only royal personage ever born in Canada.

This year, thanks to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, a virtual tour of the tulips is available. There is an advantage to these restrictions; those of you who live too far away to visit the splendor of these tulips in person can peruse this international symbol of friendship and peace from your own home.

This past week, with Ontario taking baby steps to reopen their economy, we were granted permission to walk along the paths to view the tulips in person. That is as long as we are practicing social distancing and not loitering in large groups.

If the Covid police are out, as I’m sure they will be, it might be less stressful to watch the video…Enjoy!

Photo Credit to Jackie Heslop, Kanata Ontario.

Posted in gardens, lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa, weather

What a Difference a Day Makes

Don’t you just love spring?  It seems every day something new is popping up in my garden.  Saturday we had a beautiful spring-like day and by the end of it my daffodils were blooming…..

Monday evening my magnolia was looking promising under the low light at dusk…

By noon Tuesday, a few magnolias were in full bloom, with bees buzzing happily from blossom to blossom…

Wednesday brought more blossoms with cloudy skies and wind, lots of wind…

Today the magnolia blossoms are soggy in the rain….

Posted in current events, lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa

Matthew House Update

As a recent donor, I received this letter from Matthew House recently to update me on their status during the COVID-19 pandemic.  I thought I would pass it on to you.

Thanks to each of you who have supported Matthew House and the people we serve during this difficult time. We continue to be so grateful for the encouragement and support of our community.

Several of you have checked in recently and requested an update, so I thought it was time to bring you up to speed as to where things are at with Matthew House Ottawa and our programs amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks for your interest and concern.

Furniture Bank

Demand remains strong for our furniture bank services. After consulting with Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa, and the province we re-opened a pared-down version of our furniture bank operations with physically-distanced pickups and deliveries. Our warehouse remains closed to the public, so we have developed a new system where we select essential items for clients and make curbside deliveries of furniture without the need for any physical interaction.

Our goal during this crisis is to furnish the homes of the most vulnerable families who are in dire need of furniture essentials, and so far so good: we have been able to furnish 8 homes a week since we re-opened. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving families in need.

Refugee Services

Thankfully, our residents and staff are following public health guidelines and have remained healthy.

Demand for beds at Matthew House has been very high, and in partnership with Bethany Baptist Church we have developed a protocol for safe intakes of new residents in order to meet the ongoing need for beds. We are grateful to continue welcoming refugees during a challenging time.

We and our residents miss our volunteers greatly, but we really appreciate the many ways that our community of supporters continue to help with groceries, prepared meals, grocery cards and online conversations with our residents.

Finances

We have seen a large reduction in income from our refugee services and (especially) furniture bank programs, due to the COVID-19 crisis. But thankfully, our losses over the last 6 weeks have been significantly offset by the generosity of our donors, a grant $10,000 grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation’s emergency relief fund, and a $40,000 loan and a wage subsidy (between 10%-75%) from the federal government.

While we continue to face many challenges and welcome your financial support, we have much to be grateful for!

How can I help?

If you are able, we welcome your ongoing support to help make the work of Matthew House Ottawa possible. Here are some ways that you can help right now:
Donations: you can give online here or cheques can be mailed to 380 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa ON K2G 6A1.

Become a monthly donor:

If you are open to it, please consider setting up a monthly donation to support our programs. The consistent support from our monthly donors has been a HUGE help during this time, and we would encourage you to give in this way if you are able. You can set up a monthly donation here – just click “donate monthly” tab at the top of the page. Call me if you have any questions: 613-255-0168.

Refugee Services:

If you want to support our refugee services program, please be in touch with Doreen at 613-262-3643 or dkatto@matthewhouseottawa.org. We welcome donations of grocery cards (or groceries and frozen meals) to help feed the refugees we have welcomed at the house, though we ask that you please contact Doreen in advance to make arrangements.

Furniture Bank:

If you have gently-used furniture you no longer need, please give us a call at 613-591-6681 to discuss options for a safe pick up. And please spread the word among your networks as well. [Please note that our furniture warehouse and showroom will not be open to the public for the duration of the pandemic, so drop-offs of donated items are NOT being accepted at this time. Please call furniture bank at 613-591-6681 if you have any questions.

Thanks again for your supporting the work of Matthew House Ottawa. I am so grateful!

May God bless you and keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.  This is an unusual and unsettling time, but we will get through it.
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions: 613-255-0168 or arm@matthewhouseottawa.org.

Sincerely,
Allan

Allan Reesor-McDowell
Executive Director
Matthew House Ottawa

Posted in gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca, Ottawa, zone 4

Pruning dormant shrubs and trees

In Ottawa (predominantly zone 4) this is a perfect time to prune dormant shrubs and trees.  The timing is even more perfect if you are out of sorts self isolating or practicing social distancing as currently recommended by our government officials.

The trick is knowing what should and should not be pruned or cut back this early.  Here is a list of plants you can cut back NOW…

  • trees (it is much easier to see branches that need to be cut back before the leaves sprout).  Oak, ash, birch, maple, linden, walnut and fruit trees are on this list.  Beware, some of these trees will release sap when cut this time of year.
  • shrubs that do NOT flower in spring.  Leave the trimming of lilacs, forsythia, etc until right AFTER they bloom.  The shrubs you can prune now include hydrangeas, potentilla,  spirea, (with the exception of bridal wreath variety) smoke tree, butterfly bush, ninebarks, false spirea, and weigela to name a few.
  • shrubs grown for their foliage only (burning bush, willows, boxwood, euonymus, cedars, dogwoods, barberry, junipers, yews, etc)
  • roses, except for the climbing variety.  Cut back to 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud/leaf node, slanting the cut in a 45 degree angle, away from the bud/leaf node. (see picture below)
  • vines, (except those that flower early, like clematis) especially vigorous growers, can be cut back to 5 feet from the ground.  My golden hops falls into this category.  Left unpruned, it will take over my gardens, in one season.
  • ornamental grasses (cut back to 4 inches from ground)
  • stalky perennials (these should snap off easily at ground level) like coneflowers, daisies,
  • perennials that have died back to the ground, leaving mushy mounds, can be tidied up now.  Hostas are an example.  I cut my hostas back in the fall because I can’t handle the mushiness in the spring.

 

Many trees and shrubs do not need to be pruned, unless their growth is out of control or they have diseased, dead or crossing branches.  All such branches should be removed any time of the year, but while dormant it is easier to visualize the crossing or damaged branches.  Cut broken branches back to the closest healthy branch.  Cut diseased branches back to the ground.  Cut crossing branches back to where they no longer cross/touch another branch.  You may have to choose which of the crossing branches is the best one to keep.

Other garden chores to do early

There are several other garden chores you can get done early, as soon as spring fever hits…

  • edging can be done as soon as the ground is thawed enough to get the edger in. The same applies to making your garden larger or changing its shape.
  • perennials can be dug up, divided and/or moved as soon as the ground thaws too.
  • add compost or composted manure around your plants.
  • take cuttings from any shrubs you have pruned.  Dip the end into rooting hormone and put the cutting into a pot of soil.  I make hundreds of new plants this way each year.  They take a few years to reach maturity, but it does work.
  • clean out and disinfect any pots you emptied in the fall that you plan to reuse this season.
  • start annuals or perennial seeds indoors. My granddaughter loves to plant them and watch them grow.
  • clean out and replace bird houses.
  • rake your lawn, hard, but wait until it is no longer soft and soggy.
  • treat your lawn with weed & feed, preemergent crabgrass treatment, or grass seed.  You cannot treat for weeds and spread seed at the same time.  If you treat for weeds now, wait six weeks before adding seed.  Fescue is best in our area, grubs don’t like the roots.
  • powerwash verandas, decks, fences, patios, patio furniture and any other surfaces that get dirty/moldy over the winter.
  • leave the debris in the gardens though, as bees and other beneficial critters are still hiding there.

As new Growth Appears

Some plants, like most varieties of clematis vines, should only be cut back (to 4 inches) when new growth appears.  This happens sometime after the dormant stage and before the last frost date.

After the Last Frost

Some garden chores must wait until the chance of frost is gone.  I rely on the blooming of my forsythia to tell me when it’s time.  Mother Nature is amazing and the forsythias haven’t steered me wrong yet.  Here is a list of garden chores that should wait…

  • pruning climbing roses.  Cut lateral (side shoots emerging from main stem) shoots back to two buds from the main stem.  As above, angle your cuts. As the lateral shoots grow, tuck them into their trellis (or whatever they are growing against) horizontally.  They produce more blooms that way.
  • trim old growth from late bloomers like hibiscus only when new growth appears.  Every year I worry mine did not make it through the winter, then bang, they show up, just as I’m about to give up on them and pull them out.  My advice?  If you think yours has croaked, wait a week.

So, if spring fever has hit you (as it has me) get out into your yard and garden to get a start on things.  Take advantage of the social distancing restrictions to give your gardens some extra TLC!  Later in the season, when we are able to entertain friend and family again, you will be happy you spent the time now.

Just don’t forget to do your stretches first!  Your muscles will thank you.

feature (top) image credit to Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa

Shepherds of Good Hope Grateful for Donations

Recently I was helping a friend clean out her closet in anticipation of a move to a retirement residence. We ended up with three large bags of clothing, purses and the like to donate. I promised her I would look into donating her beautiful (she has great taste in clothing) and cherished items to a women’s shelter or a similar organization. Thanks to Google, I discovered there is a branch of the Shepherds of Good Hope not far from my home here in suburban Kanata.

The Shepherd of Good Hope is a haven for both men and women requiring shelter, support, stability, and as their name implies, hope. Our original intention was to donate the clothing to a women’s shelter, but those I contacted were not accepting clothing at this time.

When I dropped the donations off, I was offered a tour of their “boutique” where volunteers organize and display all donated items. Whatever they cannot use onsite, they take to the Shepherds of Good Hope downtown Ottawa location.

When I called my friend to tell her that her donations were well appreciated, she told me she has more to go. I guess I inspired her!

Posted in climate, exercise, freelance writing, gardens4u, lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa

Exercise in Winter

What exercise do you get in winter? With my own gardening business, I get plenty of exercise between April and October, sometimes six hours per day! Exercise in winter can be tricky though, I am the first to admit I spend far too much time sitting down writing for whatever projects come my way.

However, when the snow hits, as it has often these past few days here in Ottawa, I love to get my exercise in winter with a shovel in my hand. Especially when the snow is light and fluffy as it was today. These pictures give you an idea of just how much snow we received overnight. Enough to get me out there with my shovel, but not enough to wear me out. The posts on my veranda make great snow gauges…

Who needs a gym membership when you can get an hour (or two or three some days) of cardio exercise shovelling the driveway and sidewalk? Not me!

Posted in lorieb.com, Ottawa

Donating Used Household Items

Cleaning out our double garage recently so we can fit at least one vehicle in there this winter, we realized we have lots of gently used household items that could be donated.  From bikes to furniture to garden supplies, donating these items is easier than ever.  I googled each item to find out where to drop them off, discovering lots of options for each.

 

Bikes

Three sons and two adults can accumulate a lot of bikes over the years.  These bikes have been in our garage for many years although I’m pretty sure we didn’t purchase all of them.  So now we are donating other people’s used items too.  All to a good cause.

I learned there are several places in the Ottawa area that accept donations of used bicycles.  They repair or recondition the bikes then sell them keeping them out of the landfill sites.  Check out their websites for donating rules and hours of operation.

  • Cycle Salvation is located at 473 Bronson Avenue at Gladstone
  • Heartwood House is located at 404 McArthur Ave.
  • Recyclore is located at 275B Britannia Rd.
Furniture

Gently used furniture is another popular item for donating.  I discovered Matthew House, a wonderful initiative offering furniture, support and even shelter and a sense of community to refugees.  Their furniture bank is located at 340 Leggett Drive in Kanata, door #53.  Check out the website for hours of operation, drop off and pick up schedules and other ways to help.

Donating

Other Donating Options

Previously I donated most of my used items to CP, CDA or Value Village.  Recently though I have found both CP and CDA frustrating in that they never picked up my items on the scheduled days.  There was always an excuse, but after a while I gave up.  When I decide to donate (or my husband agrees to part with) an item, I want to do it in a timely fashion, before either of us change our minds.

Another place I have donated items to previously is Value Village.  Mainly because they have a drop off location conveniently close to our home.  However, my brother recently pointed out some suspicious details regarding their business, so I thought I would look elsewhere.

Regardless of where you choose to donate your used household items to, it is easy to do and beneficial to many.

 

Please take an extra minute to visit my other blog where I make everything garden related my business.

Posted in food, lorieb.com, Ottawa, pets

Sweet with Me Christmas Baking Auction

It’s almost time for the annual Sweet With Me Christmas Baking Auction!  Anyone in the Ottawa area can participate as a baker, bidder or both, so no excuses!  Please feel free to share this event with all the baking buffs and Christmas goodie aficionados in your life, not to mention the dog lovers!  All proceeds go to Sit With Me Shelter Dog Rescue.

If you are interested in donating Christmas baking or homemade goodies please send a personal message to the Sweet with me Christmas Baking Auction Facebook page. Click on the blue “send message” box at the top right side of the page and send the following information :

  1. A description of what you will be baking/making and the amount (eg. one pan or one dozen)
  2. A list of the ingredients (no measurements necessary)
  3. A picture of what you plan to bake/make.  This can be from a cookbook if you don’t have your own picture.

The process is pretty simple:

  • offers of donated goodies will be accepted until November 30th by private message to Sweet With Me Facebook page (link above) This is just a promise to donate, actual baking is not necessary until later. Of course you can bake ahead and freeze for later.
  • the auction will go live on December 1st on the Facebook page
  • To bid on an auction item, scroll through the available items on the Facebook page. When you see something you are interested in, type the dollar amount you are willing to pay for the item as a comment.
  • A word of warning; comments are not always in order so keep a close eye out for the highest bid. And remember, the bids can (and do) change right up until the last minute!
  • there is no limit to what items can go for.  So, keep bidding to raise money for a great cause!
  • the auction will close on Thursday, December 19th at 7pm
  • winning bids must be paid for via etransfer or paypal through Facebook messenger, ASAP after auction closes (before delivery)
  • all items must be baked and ready for pick-up by December 21st
  • please choose a sturdy, disposable container with a tight fitting lid to pack your donated goodies in. You will not get your pan back and drivers are not responsible for flimsy containers that wont hold up in transit.
  • all items will be delivered to successful bidders on December 22nd and 23rd

Gluten-free baked goods are welcome and popular, but be sure to include a disclaimer with the ingredient list. Here is a good example of such a disclaimer:

“As a gluten intolerant baker, I bake with gluten free ingredients. However, I do not bake in a dedicated gluten-free kitchen, so I can only provide a 99.9% gluten-free product.”

Sweet With Me Christmas baking auction is a terrific upcoming fundraiser for Sit With Me Rescue Dogs in the Ottawa area.  In the meantime, a fall auction is currently underway with hundreds of items up for grabs. Please read the rules BEFORE bidding on this fall auction. lt closes Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.   All the proceeds of both fantastic fundraisers go to Sit With Me Shelter Dog Rescue!

Sweet With Me

Please check out my other blog called Gardens4u about all things garden related.  And my business website with the same name.