Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Random thoughts and photos

The longer I am away from this space, the harder it seems to return. I've decided to post some images in hopes that words will soon follow. 

Yes, four bear wandered into our yard one morning--a sow and her 3 cubs. Thankfully the kids and I were just coming downstairs to go outside when I saw them out the window. 

I was definitely rattled by the bear-sighting, because so often the kids go out to play while I tidy up inside. We have read and talked about what to do if we see bears again, and the kids happily make ALOT of noise while we are outside. We stick together and we are never far from the house nowadays. I always knew they were there, but nearly meeting them in the driveway was quite an awakening. 

We had a lovely summer and we are so grateful that we moved closer to my family. The garden is finished for the year, but for some brussels sprouts outside and the last of the tomatoes ripening in the basement. Every few days a new batch of salsa or slow roasted tomato sauce tops our to-do list. I will be glad when the tomatoes have all been dealt with and I only have to worry about eating them :)

A grainy photo taken out my dining room window this morning. Below, the tomato process continues. 

Wherever you are this week, I hope that you are enjoying good health and good food with those you love xx

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Busy, Busy

After a few weeks of intense heat and humidity, we are experiencing a cool off that has brought on a flurry of activity. I'm starting to recognize in myself an ebb and flow in energy that sometimes follows the weather, but also relates to how busy I've been. For example, after 3 mornings loading and hauling gravel in the driveway, I spent the next few mornings baking and cleaning and couldn't help but have a short nap in the afternoons. A dangerous routine to get into as I often have trouble sleeping at night!

So now that my attention has turned indoors (although there are several outdoor projects that await) I thought I'd show pictures of what we have been doing. 

Best blueberry muffins ever. 4 year old said "mommy you are the best cooker in the world besides gramma!"

My tomatoes are small but plentiful. I love making sauces but I detest peeling them. This morning I slow roasted my ripe tomatoes while I made buns then made a hot and sweet sauce that I will add to chili and different tomato sauces through the winter. I combined a few recipes and am happy with the flavour, but unsure that it will keep without pressure canning. I'm not ready to start pressure cooking this year, so I will keep my little tomato concoctions in the freezer to avoid giving anyone botulism. 

Botulism would suck. 

We have so far made 2 batches of dills, 2 batches of bread and butter pickles (my favorite) and a few jars of pickled beets and raspberry jam. I have another batch of pickles and a batch of relish soaking to be cooked and bottled tomorrow. I'm finding everything easier this year, with a helpful 4 year old and (mostly) potty trained 2 year old. Hope all is well where you are!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Along Came a Spider

I really wish I had it in me to build something delicate. I would like to someday start something that might seem difficult, intricate, and stick with it to the end. I'd like to take time to fix my mistakes along the way. And if, in a moment, my work was erased, I would hope for the strength to begin again without dwelling on the loss. Someday I hope to be as tenascious as a spider. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Unwinding at the Devonian Botanical Garden in Alberta

During our family vacation with Husband's parents, I flexed my mama-muscles and insisted we go to the Devonian Botanical Garden outside Edmonton, AB.

What a beautiful, serene morning we spent wandering the trails. It was just what we all needed after a busy and hot couple of weeks. 

The grand waterfall was a crowd-pleaser with my bunch. 

As were the fish in the pond below. We loved the Japanese Garden the most, but the whole experience was great. 

It happened to be a cool and overcast day. It was a relief to spend 2 hours walking and chatting (or running and yelling enthusiastically, as were my boys!--my apologies to anyone meditating in the Japanese Garden!) without being overwhelmed by the heat. 

The kids were thrilled with the Butterfly House. 

A few years ago I might not have pushed to take my kids to a garden. I might have assumed they would be bored. I am so glad I gave them a chance to appreciate a beautiful space and unwind before the almost 3 hour car ride home. I was especially proud of my four year old who ran around pointing out hen and chicks and other plants he knew from our own yard. 

Some more pictures:

I loved all the rocks...

Caragana maze was a hit...

Beautiful ponds....

And so many lovely flower beds.

I hope to get back to the garden in June sometime to see the peony garden in bloom. Have you toured any beautiful gardens this summer?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Sunflowers n such

Our sunflowers are now over 7 feet tall...

We have been eating fresh peas every morning, and have been picking raspberries at our neighbours. 

We have a few things in bloom...

and we are enjoying beets and beans fresh out of the garden. This time of year will forever remind me of the summer of my first pregnancy--I ate so many beets and beans I'm surprised I didn't change colours. 

What's growing in your garden these days?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Cooking In Bulk

Are you sick of hearing that Husband's parents are visiting from Newfoundland this week? I hope not! While the weather is cool I have prepared some baking and meals to take the pressure off myself while we are touring and visiting in the next two weeks. This is something that I do when I know we will be busy, or when I know a friend might be needing some extra meals (ie a baby on the way or my parents during harvest, etc). So this is what I do:

The other day I purchased a few pounds of ground beef and last night I made half of that into meatballs which I baked and froze. I will throw those in the slow cooker with sweet and sour sauce before we leave the house on a busy day of sight-seeing.

Yesterday I made lasagna and chili. My basic meat sauce, chili and lasagna recipes all derive from the same few ingredients to begin with, so it speeds the process to brown the meat and add onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms and then split into batches. I almost always make these meals in large quantity and freeze into smaller portions to use later or give away.

I don't always want the whole can of each type of beans in my chili, so I freeze the remainder to use next time. Yesterday I used up frozen chick peas and kidney beans and added a can of six-bean medley to the chili mixture.

So now I have 3 meals frozen and ready to be thawed whenever I need a quick fix. I also have in the freezer two homemade loaves of bread, a coconut square, and a loaf of pumpkin bread. If I find the time I would like to add buns and a couple dozen cookies to the list but if the weather dries up the yard desperately needs my attention! 

Do you ever prepare meals ahead of time for when you are busy or have a large group to feed?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Basement bathroom

Now I've gone and done it...I've been fiddling around with how to get pictures onto the blog and for the moment they are in all sizes and all over the place. I apologize if things aren't appearing as they should. Unfortunately, this is how I roll!


At any rate, we have completed most of our list before the in-laws arrive in four days. We are excited to see them, and I am excited with how the basement, and its bathroom in particular, is coming together. I got the above "shabby chic" cabinet at my favorite antique and collectible shop. We got new bath sheets for them to use and, when they leave, we will use them in our master bathroom. I'd like Husband's parents to have a bit of luxury while they are here, after all it is the only vacation thay have had since they came to see us over two years ago!

Mirror from Winners (have I ever mentioned that I loooove Winners?)

Three postcards that I bought in Scotland almost....well....nearly twenty years ago. Gulp.

More recently, coat hook/towel hanger also from Winners. 

The bathroom now has a door and trim, although we did not get baseboards installed just yet. We opted to enjoy the summer weather at the lake and leave ourselves some winter projects. The in-laws are not fussy and I'm proud of the job we have done with a limited budget and very limited time and man-power.

Have you had any indoor projects to complete this summer?