21 July 2012

Saturday Mornings...

I love Saturdays.

We try to spend our mornings doing something fun as a family and then having a relaxing afternoon.

Today we hit one of our favourite trails for a morning hike...

I love hiking with my family.

This time of year, everything is pretty dry and brown, but the views are always beautiful.

I love exploring the same trails in different seasons and seeing how things change.

I love talking with my kids about what is growing, blooming and surviving.

I love that I get to exercise and spend time with my family at the same time.

The kids particularly enjoy this hike; because, this is where the trail ends...

After hiking for close to two hours a swim in the lake is always a good idea...

With four kids ranging in age from five to twelve and a half it is always difficult to find activities that everybody likes to do. Especially since my oldest is my only daughter and her three younger brothers like to claim the rights of the majority as often as they can. I love that going for a hike is something we can all do together and that makes us all happy... from my youngest child to my oldest...

As I watch my kids having fun together, I find myself wishing that all of my days could be spent with my family...just enjoying each other's company.

19 July 2012

Raspberry Pavlova

What does one do with the last small bowl of raspberries and four people to share them with?

Make Pavlova!

Confession: I have only made pavlova once before this summer.

I have no idea why. 

I've made it twice in the past few weeks. 

Pavlova is so easy to make. 

I mean really easy. 

I put two egg whites in the mixer bowl and whipped to a froth, then slowly added 1/2 cup of sugar. When they were whipped and glossy white I scooped spoonfuls onto a silpat lined baking sheet. Then, they were popped into a preheated 200 degree F oven for two hours. Once they were done baking -don't let them brown - I pulled them out of the oven and left them on the cookie sheet to cool.

Once cool, I whipped up some Chantilly Cream (whipping cream with a bit of sugar and vanilla) spooned some onto each meringue and added a few berries. So easy. So good. And the berries were divided equally between the five of us. My daughter will be so jealous when she gets back from camp...

If you haven't tried making pavlova yet (unless I am alone here in my previous pavlovaless life) I definitely recommend it. It takes some planning ahead, but very little hands on time. 

Tart, sweet, fresh berries...luscious whipped cream...and crunchy, chewy melt-in-your-mouth meringue...delicious.

18 July 2012

Feeling Blessed

I am loving the daisies growing in the backyard and have been enjoying bunches of them on my kitchen table.

This week I am really enjoying the small blessings in life.

My hubby was unexpectedly out of work for a week and a half which unfortunately caused some severe budgeting changes right at the beginning of cherry season. Very disappointing...until a friend who is the lucky owner of five cherry trees called. She had too many cherries and wanted to know if we would be interested in two trees to pick! YES PLEASE! Not only did I get what I am sure was over a hundred pounds of cherries for free, but my husband was also home to pick them while I processed.

I spent three days in the kitchen canning cherries, three kinds of jam, and two ice-cream sauces: cherry almond and chocolate cherry (which I like mixing with some whipped cream and using as a filling in chocolate cake). For three nights I pit cherries until very late while catching up on some movie watching...and froze two dozen bags of pitted cherries. We've eaten cherries by the bowl full, made pie, and I even tried making cherry pyrahi, a flavour I have never made or tasted.

They were really good (although strawberry is still my favourite). I was able to process way more cherries than I was planning on buying. My canning cupboard is starting to fill up already! 

Last night, I was able to head over to one of my parent's neighbours who were away for a few days. Before they left they asked if I would be interested in picking their raspberries while they were gone! The boys and I have been eating raspberries all morning (my daughter is away at her first girl's summer camp this week). I was able to freeze six bags of raspberries for our favourite raspberry, lemon muffins this fall... 

In between my picking, processing and eating the yummy goodness of summer I was able to read "The Dirty Life" by Kristin Kimball which I loved. "Farm porn" for us would be farmers. In the book she talks about her husband's "magic circle" luck that seems to follow him and gives him a belief in the human tendency towards goodwill and kindness. I have witnessed a little of that this week and am very grateful...

Thank- you so much. 

13 July 2012

Summer Fun

My two weeks off has somehow turned into three. I've been busy enjoying the summer break.

At the end of June, I finished my classes. What a relief. I was so happy to finally finish. I really pushed my limits this time. In my final week I had three all-nighters (almost - I was up until four. When I have kids getting up at 5:30 it feels like an all-nighter). My hubby has been great at keeping the kids quiet while he has been home this week. I feel like I am almost caught up on my sleep. 

Since I last wrote I have enjoyed many things. In addition to lazing around the house reading and watching a few episodes of  the Gilmore Girls and Master Chef with my daughter, I have really enjoyed...

1. Strawberry Season - Oh ~ how we LOVE strawberry season. I rarely buy strawberries from the store and so the entire family eagerly awaits the first red berries of the year.

I get my strawberries from our favourite organic growers. I have been spoiled. I mean, after eating berries that have just been picked and are this red in the centre, how could I possibly eat store bought berries that are usually white, hollow and tasteless in comparison. No offence, but these are really that good. When these are in season we eat a lot. I bought eighty pounds this year. We ate at least twenty pounds fresh,  made jam, strawberry pavlova, pie and our favourite strawberry pyrahi. I also froze quite a few for winter smoothies, pancake sauce, muffins and scones... Did I mention that I love strawberry season?

2. Peonies - big, pink peonies. Along with lilacs, hydrangeas, dahlias, daisies, and roses (I'll stop now), peonies are one of my favourite flowers.

We are really lucky this year to have a large peony bush in the yard. I picked almost every flower.

I know they look great outside, but I really loved having bouquets of peonies on my dining room table for a few weeks. 

3. My baby turning five.

I have heard how traumatic the youngest turning five could be. But, to be honest when he hit five... I felt ecstatic...giddy actually. He also finally learned how to put on his seatbelt by himself. I was pretty happy. I felt ten years younger, really. Nobody told me that would happen. Yes, I do miss my babies at times. I adored them, loved to smell them, cuddle them. I probably spent a little too much time with them...aside from my mother, I have only hired a babysitter once...in almost thirteen years. Hmm...that could be the reason I felt a little like Mel Gibson shouting "FREEDOM" ... or it could also be related to the lack of sleep. His birthday landed on all-nighter night number three. I may have to think some more about this one.

4. watching wildlife.

We have had so much fun this year watching all the wildlife that frequents our yard. This week we have enjoyed watching two does and their fawns. 

5. Hiking

I love hiking the local mountain with my family.

We went for a three and a half hour hike the other day while my hubby was home from work. It was a bit hazy (must be a forest fire somewhere)...

but we still enjoyed the view.

I especially liked watching the farmer haying his field. I used to go haying with my dad when I was younger...it was fun seeing the process from another perspective.

We also had visits with family. We really enjoyed having my brother-in-law's son with us for a few days. He is the same age as my oldest son, he lives quite a distance from us with his mom and so we have only seen him a few times. This is the first time we have had him here overnight. All the boys tented outside for the few days he was here and had a lot of fun. 

My other news is I found out I made the long list for CBC's Canada Writes Creative Non-fiction contest. I was really excited I was chosen. I haven't written much and to have my story chosen was a great honour. (I did not make the short list...but I am still really happy). I'll have to try again next year. 

Which brings me to today. Today, I very happily registered for my final classes. Because I am a little late I can't start until November. But, I have registered for the last time and as of 30 June 2013 (all else going well) I will (FINALLY) be a university graduate.

Good times.