20 July 2011

berry season

I was so happy to receive a phone call from my local organic farmer to tell me they had three flats of Raspberries ready for me! I have been waiting so patiently for the rain to stop (the okanagan has had the rainiest, coolest summer that I remember. We haven't even topped 30 degrees yet! I think this is mother nature's way of preparing me for my move to Vancouver). The berries finally managed to dry off long enough to be picked and I jumped and ran out the door as soon as I received the call.

We have been snacking on berries all week and it has been wonderful. I really try to buy a lot of fresh berries when they are in season. I feel so bad for my kids who do not have the pleasure of picking berries in the backyard. When I was growing up my granny had a large garden and every summer I used to pick strawberries and raspberries by the ice cream pail full and I could always eat as many as I wanted. We also had a large row of blackberry brambles running across the front of our property and I would do the same in late August with those. Even though we don't have our own, I try to recreate the excitement of berry season by buying as many flats as we can eat. My kids look forward to berry season every year and we all dream of the time when we can just step out into the backyard for our yearly fix.

All the berries around our house has also kicked off canning season! This week I have made over thirty jars of jam: strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, raspberry, raspberry strawberry cherry, and apricot. The smells coming from the kitchen have been amazing! I have frozen bags of rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries - cherries are coming later this week. I always feel so content looking at what I have stored away for winter.

I also surprised my kids with another treat from my childhood...while the two oldest were out with their grandma for the afternoon, I whipped up a double batch of granny's pyrahi (learn about granny's pyrahi here). I used the last of the strawberries for one batch and the first of the raspberries for the second...so good! I love being able to pass on a family tradition.

They taste of summer and happy childhood days.

I love berry season.

13 July 2011

Pacific Spirit Regional Park

While we were in Vancouver this past week-end the family and I decided to do a little exploring in the Pacific Spirit Regional Park. There are trails that begin literally steps from our new home. We LOVED it and are really excited to have such a large (763 hectares) park just outside our door.

We loved walking through the lush woods feeling like we were out in the middle of nowhere...even though we were in the city.

We spent over an hour walking through the trails, enjoying the wildflowers...

It was a beautiful sunny day; but it was nice and cool in the park.

Parts of the park are dark and lush while parts of the trails are out in the sun.

We walked and talked and laughed...

and spent the day enjoying each others company. I love when we find an activity that we all enjoy!

In addition to hiking we did something we have never done before...

We foraged for food!

There were a few different edible berries in season that we ate as we walked.

The four year old loved the huckleberries. I was also really excited to share huckleberries with my kids. I remember eating them when I was very young. One of my earliest memories is from when I was about four and I was in the backyard sharing huckleberries with my pet goat. This week-end I enjoyed the first huckleberry I have had in over twenty years!

The boys were so excited to be eating "like bears" and we were all pretty happy about getting such a great snack for free!

We were also really happy about all the blossoms...future berries that will be waiting for us on our next visit...

and I am particularly excited about the blackberries! I used to eat them by the ice cream pail full when they were in season. This week-end I saw thousands of blackberry blossoms...I think we will be doing a little more foraging in August.

11 July 2011

Old dreams...

Another week-end spent in our "new" house in Vancouver. We brought down a load of boxes (mainly heavy books). We are hoping to move down enough to leave us with a small uhaul trailer load for our final move next month. It is amazing how much we have accumulated over the past year.

I find that this summer I am looking forward to so many things...

I am finally getting a new computer! This one is so close to death...the screen has been slowly disappearing this year and trying to choose photos (or read words) when I can only see three quarters of a screen is sometimes quite challenging. I am also hoping (crossing fingers with eyes closed tight) that I can get a new camera this year. My little fuji point and shoot is not working for me...I have been trying to take more close ups and it does not want to focus, not on the macro setting or the manual setting and I have tried everything. It is getting to be almost impossible to get the clear shot that I want...and I keep mising all the kids smiles with the superfast speed of 1 photo per 5 seconds that I have been getting....ugh! Yes, a little frustrated with technology (or lack of it around here) lately. Soon...

I also have been surprised by how at home I feel in Vancouver. I have been wanting a farm for so long that I have forgotten how much I used to love going into the city.

A (very) brief look into my past...

I grew up just outside of White Rock on a small hobby farm...about an hour's bus ride from Vancouver. I hated the farm. I loved the city. Then my family moved to the Okanagan three weeks before my 15th birthday...to a larger hobby farm...about an eight hour bus ride from the city. I REALLY hated the farm, and I not so patiently awaited my eighteenth birthday so I could leave the country and head to the city. I dreamed of travelling, a corner office, a penthouse suite, power suits. But...that didn't happen. I had no money to move and other opportunities came my way. I became a travel agent hoping to travel and I did a bit. I thought that I had lots of time for the city, the penthouse, the corner office, the power suits...I had plans. But, then I unexpectedly fell in love and plans changed. I got married, kids came and what I wanted or thought I wanted began to change as well. Eventually, I forgot all about the penthouse suite, the travelling, the power suits, the corner office.

I love being a wife and mother. I love that I have had the opportunity to stay at home with my kids. I feel so grateful that I haven't had to put my kids in daycare. I have loved homeschooling the kids and having them home with me.


I find the more I go to Vancouver, the more I remember...and it is a little bit scary.  I am finding that I love both the country and the city. My wants are currently a little confused.

 I love UBC. I love that my hubby is going to Architecture school. I love that the kids and I will have so much to explore and discover.

 My eleven year old has decided that she doesn't want to do homeschool this year, she wants to go back to "regular" school (which she did for her first six years of school). I have agreed (being home all day with three brothers has sometimes been a challenge for her and I understand her wish to be with other kids her age). The boys still want to homeschool. I have agreed to this as well. I think we will have so much fun this year and it actually may be a little easier to find things to do that everyone will enjoy with just the boys at home. However, I am a little sad and will miss my girl at home with me and a little nervous for my girl who has spent VERY little time in a city or with city kids and because I know how difficult it can be living on student wages (nonexistent) in an area where many of the kids live in some of the most expensive real estate in the country; especially as she approaches high school and is new and wants to fit in. I also worry a little about the wanting to fit in bit.  But, I guess that is all part of being a parent.

Aside from worrying about my children's schooling I have been worrying about my own. As usual I am getting a little behind this semester (I always seem to be doing something major while doing classes). Moving is a recurring theme. And to top it off I am re-evaluating everything...

asking myself what is it that I REALLY want. Where do I want to be in five years...ten? Going into the city has really brought up a lot of old stuff for me. And as wife of a future architect (one who is really getting excited about all the possibilities in front of him) I am realizing that the farm dream may not be compatible with the architect dream. It is still a possibility for the future but probably not while the kids are still at home.

 So...this summer I am re-evaluating, making major changes and trying to figure out who I am and where I want to be...

oh and I am taking a bit of time to make some strawberry ice cream because I haven't forgotten about the important stuff!

04 July 2011

Long Week-end

The family and I spent a great holiday week-end in the Kootenays visiting my hubby's family.

Friday we went to Fort Steele...

where we celebrated "Dominion Day" rather than our usual Canada Day.

There were potato sack, three legged, and egg on a spoon races for the kids, ice cream and Union Jack cake for all and a serenade by a barber shop quartet singing Moon River...

Saturday morning we went on a little hike...

and were able to enjoy a view of the valley

as well as the trailside wildflowers.

We really enjoyed our little road trip and time spent with family.

I love long week-ends!