27 April 2010

Spring in Nova Scotia

It has been almost two years since I moved to Nova Scotia from British Columbia. There have been many things I have really enjoyed about being here. Summertime in Nova Scotia is amazing ~ I love the beaches.

I am always amazed at how many times we can go to the beach on a beautiful day and be the only ones there! It's amazing! My kids have had so much freedom to run and play and have hermit crab races and I can relax a little not worrying about losing them in a crowd. I can wander a little on my own and look for sea glass or really cool shells.

Autumn is also amazing with a spectacular show of colours and pretty nice weather lasting until the end of October.

I am Canadian, so of course I expect winter. Winter here so far has been a little dull, not much going on for a Canadian who doesn't like hockey. Yes, a little strange I know...I don't drink beer and I don't like hockey...it's almost unpatriotic. But, winter has been great for learning, reading and spending time with the kids indoors. The winter weather is much milder than what I had heard it would be and is not anything worse than what I am used to....

But, spring is a different story. It is almost May... I have been looking at beautiful blogs with beautiful photos of spring for awhile now; beautiful flowers...even berries! This is what I stepped out to this morning...

Do you notice the lack of leaves? gray skies? ...
I miss leaves.

Usually at this time of year I am gathering bouquets of lilacs and awaiting the start of the organic CSA at the beginning of May I subscribed to with lots of delicious items from the garden. My yard was full of lilacs, tulips, narcissi, and violets galore....I must admit, I have been a little home sick...feeling a little like the weather...gray...

But, as I walked around my yard today I felt a ray of hope...

the leaves are coming!

a few tiny flowers are starting to bloom!

the first colour of the season has arrived!

and buds are preparing to bloom!

Spring may arrive late in Nova Scotia...but it is going to be amazing!

Happy Spring!

26 April 2010

vintage photos

I hope every child has at least one person who loves them unconditionally. Someone who is not the one disciplining them when they do something wrong or the one always telling them to clean their room but someone who listens to them,  never judges and always loves them no matter what. When I was growing up that person was my granny, my dad's mom. I don't remember her ever raising her voice to me or being disappointed in me or ever telling me to do anything I didn't want to do ~ yes, she spoiled me a little. But, in return, I adored her.

I even named my first born Anastasia in her honour; we call her Tasia for short. My Granny was always old to me; she didn't have my dad, her first child, until she was thirty-eight which was pretty late back in her day. She married at thirty ~ she must have thought she was going to be an old maid. She was a wonderful woman.

One thing that always surprised me was how many photographs she had. She was born in 1911 in Saskatchewan into a family of Russian Doukhobours who had immigrated to Canada from Russia in 1899.

That's her in the middle with her sisters: polly on the left and millie on the right

She grew up on a farm through world war one, the twenties and thirties.

picking potatoes in 1932 with her sister millie (she's on the right)

She had hundreds of pictures of her life there. When she died, I was lucky enough to inherit a number of those photographs. I've been looking through them lately and thought I would post a few of my favourites.

My granny on the far left with a few of her friends

Granny is in the front on the far right pictured with her softball team in 1931

Granny and the gang - granny is second from the left in the front row between her brothers John on the left and Bill on the right. Her sister olga is second from the right in the front row.

granny and the girls getting ready for a swim ~ she's the one primping...

and on the far left.

waiting in the car...

on the left with her sister millie.

My Granny loved her siblings...there were ten originally, two didn't make it past early childhood. She was the peacemaker in her family, even during many family feuds between various siblings, granny stayed close with everyone. She hated fighting and arguing and always made sure she kept in contact with all her family.

Granny is the one in black...she told me her family wasn't as orthodox as some of her cousins and friends. Can you tell?

Granny loved clothes. She became a seamstress and owned a dress shop in the forties. I still have a few of her dresses, one still has the price tag on it from her shop. I have the dress she wore when she was married (it's a dark green with sequined embroidery on the left shoulder). And a really cool old dress that she purchased in 1929 from New York. She said it was a runway dress that originally came from Paris. It's beautiful...which reminds me I need to take some more pictures! I don't have proper photos of any of the dresses...maybe a project for next week.

Granny on the right with a friend...she had many.

My grandpa in the middle with his cousin stella on the left and I'm not sure who on the right...before he and granny got together.

grandpa and his gang...he's playing guitar.

My grandpa died about thirty years before my granny did; she lived to be 93. She talked about him everyday.

This is a photo of my granny's grandfather with her sisters millie and polly before she was born...I love it just because it is so old (taken about 1910) and because polly is holding a box of bubble gum ~ 5 cents for the box, it must have been a treat from grandpa...

I hope you didn't mind the little walk through my past...like I said these are just a few of many. It's wierd to think that all of the people in them are gone. I wish I had spent more time gathering stories from my granny. Incentive to gather some from those who still remember them...

13 April 2010

off my bookshelf

I read a lot. I always have. Some of my earliest memories are exploring the kids section of the White Rock library. I remember looking at shelves and pulling off book after book and thinking "I've read that, read that, read that". It was always a challenge to find something that I hadn't already read. Although, I did have favourites that made it back to my bedroom over and over again.

When I moved across the country with my family we had to get rid of a lot of stuff. We had a trailer that we towed across with us that contained all of our worldly possessions. About half of that trailer was filled with books. Every week I usually read (or read from) a number of books and  I thought I would share what has come off my bookshelf this week.

I've been wanting to read Walden for a long time and since I had to read sections of it for an American Literature class I am taking I thought I had a good excuse to buy it and read the whole thing...it's for school.

I love Michael Smith and his great no knead bread recipe. I think I have made at least fifty loaves since I got this book last fall. So easy and so good...I don't even buy bread anymore.

This is my 2 1/2 year olds "book of the week". He always seems to have a weekly favourite that I read to him over and over and over and over...I think I have read this book about 20 times this week. It is not the most polite of children's books, but it is pretty funny. My kids have all liked it anyway and it does help get rid of the grumps.

I LOVE the British Edition of Country Living magazine. I will drive long distances to get a copy. I have a fairly large collection that moved across the country with me. I have copies from the 90's that are still in style. I have been feeling kind of flowery this week, so I have been looking at a few appropriate copies. Did I say that I love this magazine?
It is my favourite.

As I said, I've been feeling flowery this week.

The other magazine I have been reading this week. I have a bit of a magazine addiction. I found after I had kids that I just didn't have time during the day to read books and I hate going through the day without reading something. I am getting better and I am cutting down. Only two this month...so far. 

My ten year old and I have been reading the Harry Potter series together. We read the first five and then took a long break to read some girly books ( the first three Anne of Green Gables, Black Beauty and A Little Princess) but decided we wanted to read the seventh book before seeing the movie (we've seen all the movies before reading the books) the sixth movie got us interested again so we are back at Hogwarts.

My 5 year old pulled this one off the shelf; he likes chickens. I often look at organic/farming books with the kids. They are always full of animals and food which entertain the kids (and me) and I get a break from the 21st reading of "What are you so grumpy about". It's a win/win really.

Another book I have been reading with my two year old; we both like it.

A couple books I have been rereading for my literature course. I'm just finishing off an essay on justice and have been rereading the books for quotes.

My current favourite cookbook. I love cookbooks. I read them from cover to cover. I always have a couple of cookbooks I am reading. This one is really making me want fresh food. Spring is SO SLOW in coming to Nova Scotia; it is coming but I want some fresh food now! I do hear that fresh food is available in Halifax...so maybe it's time for a trip. I am REALLY missing the organic CSA I belonged to before I moved...it's starting up again soon...aahh..fresh greens...rhubarb...radishes...I miss you.

My seven year olds pick...he loves dinosaurs. We have been working our way through this series...he is really enjoying them...we've been trying to imagine where we could go to find this place...first we need to find an ammonite fossil...we are looking.

So, that is what has come off my bookshelf this week. What have you taken off yours?

09 April 2010

baking again...

This morning I spent more time on homework than I intended, leaving my two youngest to play on their own (and yes, I have a bit of motherly guilt about that...). So, this afternoon in an effort to make up for it I thought I would do some baking with the boys. I had a few egg yolks in the fridge from a previous baking session, so I thought I would make an upside down cake. I got the recipe a few years ago from a Martha Stewart magazine, it only uses egg yolks instead of whole eggs - perfect for using up excess yolks.

It has a yummy spice cake base and I believe Martha used halved plums and raspberries...which I have made before (I've also tried blueberries, apricots and cranberries...all good. But not at the same time, of course!)

 This time I thought I would try it with apples.

Apples and caramel on a spice cake...yum!

I have been having a lot of fun playing with my camera and trying to figure out how to use it. My 2 1/2 year old has really enjoyed his mom being distracted with a new hobby and if you look close you can see him trying to sneak apples off the cake in between takes. He thoroughly enjoyed himself (and the yummy apples) and easily forgave me for the earlier neglect.

We also decided to make some cookies while we were at it.

When I was growing up, one of my mom's favourite cookies to make were an oatmeal, coconut, cocoa no-bake cookie. (I think because they were so easy...and because they really did taste good! and no possibility of burning the cookies which she often did, although we always blamed it on a friend of my dad's because everytime she burned cookies he was there.) Anyway, they have always been one of my favourites because they really are SO easy. The kids can help with the dry ingredients.

A few years ago I lost my recipe so I did it from memory and they turned out even better! A lot more moist and fudgy (It turns out I had halved the oatmeal and sugar and doubled the coconut and vanilla). 

The kids all love them and they only take about 10 minutes to make (and then about an hour in the fridge to chill). I thought I would post the recipe...just in case I lose it again!

My variation on mom's cocoa, coconut, oatmeal no bake cookies
(although I think they need a new name...hmm...any thoughts?)

1 1/2 cups oats (not instant)
2 cups unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup cocoa

Mix dry ingredients in a medium sized, heat proof bowl.

In a saucepan melt 1/2 cup butter and then add 1 cup sugar.  Bring to a medium boil and boil for two to three minutes. Then add 1/2 cup milk, simmer for another minute. Take off heat and add 1 tsp vanilla. Quickly add to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon. Spoon mixture ( a small ice cream scoop with a release feature works really well) onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Place in fridge for about an hour (or a little less if the kids are anxious!)

Makes 18-24 depending on size of cookies.


06 April 2010

hobbies and things to do

This weekend I was thinking about time and all the things I would love to do. I have a fear that there is not enough time to do everything.

 Currently I am working on my BA degree majoring in English and History. I have been working on it for four years and am half way. I am determined to finish it before I turn forty.

In January I learned to knit. So far I've been trying to perfect the garter stitch...I think I'm ready to move on to the next one. I've knit 2 1/2 scarfs and three facecloths

and I also tried out one of those knitlaces ~ half scarf/half necklace that I've seen a few people making over on etsy.

My 10 year old loves it.

I have made about a dozen sock pets over the past four months

I have been looking at other peoples patterns mostly

and I think I will soon be ready to create some of my own.

Although I did make some sock pokemon's for my boys that turned out okay.

I have also been doing a lot of baking. I'm trying to get that perfect "Martha Stewart" pie crust.

It tastes delicious...I just need to keep practicing fluting the edges!

I have also been trying to better understand my camera and learn a few new computer skills. All of these things have kept me pretty busy over the winter. I still need lots of practice on all of these things, but I have a few new things I would like to learn...I just need to find someone to teach me.

I really want to learn how to fish, I do live in Nova Scotia and I have really been trying to find good local ingredients to cook with...it has been difficult where I am but I will continue to try.

I am staying put this summer (other than lots of local day trips!) and so I am putting in a small garden, finally! I have had three summers with no garden and am desperate for fresh produce again and to learn what it is like to garden in the cool and damp maritimes rather than the hot and dry okanagan.

I am looking forward to going on a lot of new hikes and what I really would like to learn this year is

how to forage for mushrooms.

We see hundreds and hundreds of mushrooms almost every time we go for a hike.

All kinds and all colours. I really need to find a teacher, but I'm not sure where to look...

 and I am really nervous about learning from a book...

I've read too many times that mushrooms can kill you if you don't know what you are picking...

but there are so many mushrooms all around here!

Everytime we go hiking we see more and more.

 My kids always call them smurf villages.

And I always hate just walking by something that looks edible and is quite possibly delicious. Hopefully, I'll be able to find someone in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or P.E.I.

I'll keep you posted!