I didn't even realize it, but my sister was tackling her own first canning adventures this fall, too! These beauties were tucked in with a box of Christmas goodies which arrived this week. Thanks, Mar!
My sweet friend (hi, Joanne!) brought over some Christmas treats this afternoon-with a beautiful handmade card, too. They are absolutely delicious. Like nutty Skor bars. (Which happen to be my favourite kind of chocolate bar!) Thank you for the treats and the visit!
And I captured a sweet moment my boys were having together with play-doh in the kitchen. These are the kinds of pictures I'll most appreciate later, I think.
Our town's Christmas parade is tonight. Phillip will be so excited once he realizes that it's entirely Christmas themed. And then he'll be exhausted.
Thanks for the creature tips - I'll keep trying to find out precisely what it is. I would be more concerned if there were tons of them, but where there have only been a few, I'm not too worried. And I haven't noticed the smell, but you know what I'll be doing the next time I squish one!
Firstly, Happy Thanksgiving to you Americans! I hope that you've had a restful day with lots and lots of delicious food made with love. Mmmm.
Is this not the saddest baby face, ever? This hearty (and usually happy) little guy is 8 months old today!
I've found (well, Adamdid) the perfect frame for my kitchen chalkboard project. I love it! More pictures when it's done, of course. We're having the kitchen painted next week, which is terribly exciting, and I'm hoping to have it finished soon after.
And does anyone know what these little critters are? Sorry for the terrible picture quality (night time in the dining room), but you can kind of see. I've found a few of them around the house, and they've been promptly vanquished, but I still don't know what they are. At first, it looks like a little piece of lint on the wall, but when you watch it for a minute, this little worm (he's poking his head out of the bottom) pokes his head out, and starts moving around, pulling the linty thing along with him. Fascinating, but in an I-don't-want-these-in-my-house kind of way. Could they be moth larvae? Anyone? It's certainly not a big deal, as we've only had a handful over several weeks, but I am curious to know.
Picked up this subtly-Christmas-y linen dish towel, new at Frenchy's when I went out with my mom on Friday. (Along with 8 other beauties, each different... shhh! They may end up as accompaniments to gifts, if I can bear to part with them. This one is my current fave.)
My head feels muddled today, and I can't seem to hold a thought for more than a nanosecond. Maybe another cup of tea is a good remedy.
Two weeks until I go back to work. Surprisingly, I'm looking forward to it.
Cinnamon Stick. Mmmmm. Most of these are now at Yarmouth Natural; I delivered a pile of soaps there the other day.
I need to make some soap in the morning. I was hoping that it might get done today, but that didn't happen because of other fun things. I did get a ton of food made, and took P to a Fun Fair. He was so excited-it was adorable. And he even won a cake! Watching him today and seeing him being so innocent and excited made me want to stop time and squeeze him forever. Today, I love that he's 3.
He has been doing tons of role-playing lately; Adam has become "Kevin" (I don't know why that's the name) and there has been lots of hanging invisible pinatas and pretending to break them open. Imaginary trips to the "post office" (aka the couch) and the "department store" are frequent occurrences, too. 3 is pretty fun.
I've got Christmas on the brain - this was our 'tree' a couple of years ago.
I'm up early with the babe this morning, and have an exciting day ahead - I'm going to be doing some Christmas shopping for the boys with my Mom. And we won't have any kids with us for several hours! This is an exciting prospect.
We're having some work done at our cozy little house - have I mentioned that? It's terribly exciting. Our closet now has a real closet rod, as of last night. I swoon every time I walk by, and left the curtains (we don't have doors, purposefully) open just to peek in and see the loveliness. I also spent a few hours organizing, vacuuming, and putting everything back in its place. Another bag is ready for donation.
I have a few things I like that I've been saving up to share with you:
I love how bluebirdbaby handles toys in her house. This is the kind of kitchen I would love to create someday - white cupboards with a few glass fronts, butcher-block countertops, and a bright, fun feel. I've been hearing and reading more about sugar alternatives lately, and this post has lots of good info. This picture reminds me that I need to get cracking on a kitchen wall project that I have in mind. I'm hoping to pick up a giant, nicely textured antique frame, paint it and screw it to the wall, and paint the inner wall with chalkboard paint. We currently have a flimsy one hanging that we use constantly; I would love something a bit more sturdy. It is one of my favourite and most-used things in the house. If I lived by myself, I like to think that I would totally have a teeny-tiny minimalist space like this. I adore the wallpaper above the bed. Some lovely Christmas gift ideas of the greener variety are here, if you're making your list. (And especially if I'm on it, ha!) For keeping our house relatively tidy, I do a lot of these things. Simple, yet effective! Especially cleaning out the fridge and wiping the shelves before putting a new week's groceries in. It makes a huge difference!
Speaking of Christmas, I have most of my shopping done. As I'm getting older (ahem, I'll be 30 soon!) I am so much less into stuff. In fact, I'm more and more into less and less stuff. And since shopping goes along with that, I'd often rather order things online. As much as I like to support local businesses, sometimes there are things that just can't be found in our small town or bookstore. Books are always something we buy for each other and other people, especially kids. I am always thrilled to receive a Frenchy's gift certificate (ahem, Adam!) or anything useful and handmade, so those are the sorts of things I like to give.
I just had the irresistable urge to share some sweet pictures from the uber lovely weekend that we had. We went for a lovely family hike on a remarkably warm November afternoon. This happy, happy, oh-so-sweet boy was thrilled to be toted around on Dadoo's back in the big blue MEC carrier.
And the other boy ran. And ran, and ran, and ran.
Until he sat on a teeter-totter at the end of the trail with Mama, and was frozen like this for several minutes. He loved it.
Exciting developments around here - we finally have trim around a part of our kitchen that went without for five years. FIVE years! We're having the trim painted, and the walls fixed up a bit and re-painted the exact same colour as it has been. It's Benjamin Moore's "straw" and I love it. Did you catch that? I'm not tired of it! After five years! I picked the same colour again! That is absolutely not something I would usually do. It's a great colour.
Eventually, we're having a bit of work done on our very outdated bathroom. I found the perfect colour yesterday at Home Hardware in a Style at Home pamphlet. Grey goose. It's a beautiful grey-blue. We're doing the bottom part of the walls in beadboard, which will be that colour, and the top of the walls will be another beautiful white from that collection. I'm excited.
There are a few times when I really feel like I can't convey something adequately. Most often, it's tastes. The things that you just have to experience, you know? The scent of fresh quince is one of those things, it turns out. Oh. My. The scent is beautiful - fruity and bright and round and warm, and it completely fills your head and makes you (or maybe just me) roll your eyes, in a good way. That's the best that I can do. These quince were generously given to me by a friend (thank you to Natalie! I'll bring you a little something at the market on Saturday), and I could not be more delighted. To me, this is the best kind of gift. They are quite different from the ones on our quince - ours are not fuzzy, not pear-shaped, and they definitely do not have the same scent. A quick search didn't tell me how pale yellow fruit can possibly make dark red jelly, but I kind of like the mystery. This was my first jelly, and it is gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful. I couldn't be more pleased. Turns out that in the world of jelly, being fussy is worth it in the end.
I took this picture solely to illustrate how clearly the quince jelly ended up. *Beaming with pride* I tried to get a picture on toast, but that didn't quite happen.
If you've never had quince jelly, it is really lovely, in a lightly floral kind of way. Really, really lovely. It was an all-day procedure, but completely fun and worth it. Every step was enjoyable. To sum up, I had the best weekend, just about ever. I made cheese and jelly, both for the first time. Ack! I haven't tried them together! You know what I'm going to do right now.
I made cheese! Seriously, I can't tell you how excited I am about this. I ordered a starter kit from cheesemaking.com and made my first batch of mozzarella yesterday. It is delicious, and I'm super excited to make more.
It went a little something like this (although I've misplaced a memory card which has the first pictures on it, including what the kit itself looked like). I knew that all I needed in addition to milk was rennet and citric acid, but thought that a kit with instructions might be useful. And since it was only $24.95 for enough supplies to make 30 batches, I went for it.
After mixing milk (I reconstituted dry milk and aded cream), adding citric acid and rennet and letting it sit for awhile, the whey and curd separated. You can see the clear whey above my fingers in the picture; the curds squished down under my hand. I added in some extra time, because it didn't seem to be as firm as it should have after the initial 5 minutes. But it still didn't look any firmer after another 5, so I decided that since I couldn't 'pour off the whey' as instructed, I would strain it through cheesecloth instead. It seems to have worked just fine.
I kept pouring off the whey that was left. Then heated it in the microwave, until it was hot enough to stretch like this:
And eventually make a ball like this (yes, that's bathrobe sleeve peeking out - cheesemaking took precedence over getting dressed. I have a problem, folks.)
Which was then plunged in cold water, wrapped, and plunked in the fridge, ready to be eaten! And the finished product, I first tossed with spaghetti squash, fresh oregano, tomatoes, and a bit of salt and pepper, as seen in the first picture. When heated, the mozza melts into delicious globs. Yum.
We did a bit of figuring, and it seems like it works out to be about the same price to make a pound of mozza as to buy it. No serious number crunching, just a bit of guesstimating. But if you can get half price organic milk, I think you're set, Bette.
Incidentally, this is my first post using the BlogPress app, and although it's taken me awhile to figure out a few things (how to rearrange pictures (still haven't figured this one out) and add links, primarily), it's pretty adequate.
*Edited to add: although BlogPress does seem to leave black holes where RAW format pictures should be. Now fixed.*
This picture makes me squeal. Adam took it with the hipstamatic app on his iPhone when we went to visit some friends and their chickens a few weeks ago. I didn't know until then that chickens can jump straight into the air. Oh, to have chickens! Soon enough...
Adam said, "They taste Victorian. I can see how someone might love them." I said, "These are amazing. They taste like Anne of Green Gables and perfection."
I had an excellent weekend. So I'm going to tell you about it. On Saturday, there was a Fall Harvest Festival market, and it was so much fun. There were kids activities, all kinds of new vendors from further afield than the usual crew, and tons of locals, aong with a smattering of people here for Nova Scotia Music week. It was really, really, really great. Really. It made me happy in the same kind of way that Old Man Luedecke's music does. (Incidentally, you can listen to one of his concerts here.) Maybe I should send him some cookies.
I met the guys from Sledding Hill, who made the lavender shortbreads pictured. Oh. My. They are even more delicious than they look, and they don't really taste as flowery as you might imagine. It is a gorgeous, subtle, light flavour that will make your tastebuds sing. Really. And you can order your very own! They had a beautiful array of other lavender products; salt, jelly, sugar, and pepper. They currently only ship in Canada.
On Saturday night, we went to see Wintersleep. I went to high school with Paul and Tim, so it was really great to see them. I feel all motherly and proud of them. Just about everyone we know went, and we had a great time. You can have a peek at their tour dates - it's worth seeing the show if you can!
And on Sunday afternoon, we and a bunch of our friends took our toddlers and babies bowling. Really, can you think of anything cuter than that?
I seriously wish that I had more time and/or money to spend on amazing clothes. I do love things that look and feel beautiful, but my wardrobe rarely, if ever, reflects that. I saw this post over at Ill Seen, Ill Said and fell in love with that first outfit. Love, love, love it.
Listening to lots of Old Man Luedecke lately. Love. Him. His music feels so perfect to me. (He's actually in town tonight for Nova Scotia Music Week. Maybe I'll catch a glimpse of him before he leaves. I do love me a beard.)
Okay, I know it looks kind of gross. Just try to take a pretty picture of oatmeal - it's tricky.
More precisely, these are steel-cut oats cooked overnight in the crockpot in apple cider. Firstly, to clear up any confusion, here's what you need to know about oats. Steel cut oats, aside from uncut oat groats (groats! isn't that a great word?), are the most unprocessed type of oats. Rolled oats are - you guessed it - rolled, quick oats are rolled and cut, and instant oats are rolled, cut, and pre-cooked.
If you've never had steel-cut oats and don't like the glue factor of regular oats, try these! They're all of the good parts of oatmeal, minus the glue. They have a lovely texture, and I just might never go back to regular oats for breakfast again. I had heard a few times recently about cooking these overnight in the crockpot to save time in the morning and have a delicious hot breakfast, and since I have to try everything, I cooked these up last night in apple cider from the Annapolis Valley. After reading waaaay to many people's opinions on proper oat preparation, I devised a method that worked beautifully. Here you go!
Overnight Steel-cut Oats
Before heading to bed, heat 4 cups apple cider or other liquid until quite warm. You could boil water in the kettle; I heated the cider in the microwave. Turn on your slow cooker to 'keep warm'. Add one cup steel cut oats (ours were from the Bulk Barn), 1/3 tsp salt, and the liquid to the slow cooker. Leave on 'keep warm' overnight, and in the morning, you'll have a delicious breakfast. If you're into wet, dried fruit in your oats, (I'm emphatically not), you could add that in; I just topped it with a bit of milk and it was delicious. Leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen, too!
I am quite the fan of the slow cooker; since it's out on the counter and it's the perfect season for slow cooker foods, I'll be making my favourite lentil sloppy joes for supper. Some other faves are crème brulée, the oft-mentioned tarragon chicken, and a basic stew, which I don't think I've ever posted a recipe for. I'll have to add that to my list.
November somehow managed to sneak up on me. Really, though, it's almost Christmas, and then it's only about 9 weeks until the beginning of March, and that's when the snowdrops are out. So really, it's almost Spring. My current table runner consists of a lovely linen one I picked up at Frenchy's last year, and a gorgeous hand-dyed silk scarf which I determined looks silly on me. Great on the table though. Minus the wrinkles, it would be even better. Adam brought home the gorgeous pumpkin from the market on the weekend. I have a few soaps specially wrapped and ready to go out the door. I've made a pile of soap over the past few days, and hope to make a few more batches tomorrow. If you'd like any, speak up! They seem to be disappearing quickly these days. And lastly, a quick fun find of the day for you - these reuseable bowl covers, in a set of five, were at the grocery store (Sobeys, if you're from here) for around $1.37. I don't like using plastic wrap, but sometimes do. I much prefer these. Yes, they're also plastic, but they'll be reused many times, rather than once and tossed. And I love the old-school pattern.
In other news, T has an ear infection and hasn't been feeling well at all. He's hopefully on the mend now, and my fingers are crossed for a sleep-filled night for all of us. He's so pitiful; trying to smile when he feels so terrible. Poor little guy.