snow day #2

It's a snow day today. If once certain child doesn't change his behaviour soon, this might be in his stocking next week. (Any tips for keeping one brother from smothering another?) In related news, I came across this post yesterday and really appreciated it. It's supposed to be hard.
I made some bread for my Dad on the weekend, and it was delicious. I may have started to doze off shortly after I took this picture, though, and the bread may have exploded over the sides of the pans in the oven. Just maybe. Regardless, it was delicious. I do love the light when there's snow - it's my favourite for taking pictures.
Yesterday when I arrived home from work, there was this lovely fluffy, light snow falling gently. It was perfect.

So on today's snow day plan, there's a bit of rescheduling due to the weather that I have to work out. I'm making my first tourtière, which we'll have on Christmas Eve, as I type. If you've never had it, it's a spiced meat pie traditionally served on Christmas Eve in many parts of French-speaking Canada, and it is delicious. Cinnamon and cloves, ground pork (and beef, in some recipes) all in a pie crust. I've eaten it before, but never made my own, and the house smells lovely. There's an excellent recipe and tutorial, including make-ahead instructions over here at Simple Bites.

I hope that you enjoy a lovely wintry Wednesday!


snow day!

It's a snow day! We're snuggled up inside (the boys went out to shovel and play this morning) and are happy to not need to travel anywhere. I made eggnog waffles for breakfast, and hot vanilla when they came in with bright red cheeks.

I looooove this Christmas post card, mailed from Estelle in Boston to 'friend Gus' on December 19, but I'm not sure of the year. The card design was copyrighted in 1912. 1912! The year the Titanic sank (and the setting for the beginning of Downton Abbey). Isn't that wild? There are embossed icicles on the top edge of the front of the card, and I just love that holly.
I mentioned the gingerbread house tutorial that Adam and the boys did last week - I took a few pictures one day as they worked away at the last step.

Thomas actually made a separate one using graham crackers, and, well, I really did most of it. He ate candy.
And yes, this boy with the graham cracker residue on his face will indeed be asking for those two front teeth for Christmas. He's inadvertently whistled a couple of times, and it is so very cute.

Happy Friday!



Rather than focusing on how stressful the setting up and decorating the tree can be with kids (let's just say that we did cut our tree yesterday and it is lovely), I'll choose to dwell on these sweet little stars instead. (And make plans to have everyone else out of the house for a good portion of it next year.)

I'm sure that you've probably seen the little star garland made with clementine peels that's been making the rounds on Pinterest; I used one of the cutters from a Linzer cookie cutter set I picked up at Bulk Barn, and just used a needle and thread to string them together. They dry out pretty quickly, and are just so darn cute.

The other stars are beeswax ones that I made a couple of years ago; I posted a tutorial here. Finding the beeswax sheets might be the trickiest part.

One of the boys has his concert today, which should be just about the cutest thing ever (he's shown us his part a few times), and I think that a gingerbread house might be decorated. And if we can avoid any more broken ornaments and/or epic tantrums, I'll consider it a successful day.

Well, since I shared pictures from last week's non-Christmas-tree expedition, here a a couple I took on my phone yesterday.


the non-christmas-tree expedition

We had grand plans on Sunday to go into the woods on our new property and cut our Christmas tree. We have it picked out, the weather wasn't too wild, it was December, and the weekend. However, from minute one on Sunday, the boys were arguing, whining, complaining, and generally being disagreeable. Just one of those days, you know? So we made it all of the way in to get the tree and then due to specifically prohibited uncooperation decided that that was it. We left without our tree, and we're waiting until next weekend. (When, if needed, I'll go in on my own, cut it down, and carry it home slung over my shoulder.) So here are some pictures from the un-Christmas tree expedition of 2013.

 Anyone know what these are?

The little tree in the wheelbarrow is one we cut to put outside by the back door, with some fun lights on it. The lights part hasn't exactly happened yet. Adam cut some lovely birch for me, which is also in that wheelbarrow! I was going to make an advent calendar from one of them. I can't find a picture, but you just stand the log vertically, write the numbers down the length of it, and slide a beaded bracelet to the right day. But when I set them up by the back door and considered the kind of weapon they could become inside the house, decided to leave them just as they were.

A few other fun things I've seen lately:

I loved this list of 18 things everyone should start making time for again.

We've been burning an advent candle each evening at supper again this year, similar to this one. I found a lovely beeswax one on Etsy last year and am sure you could make your own. The boys love it. Candlelight is definitely an upside to the many dark evening hours at this time of year.

Adam's been working on making a gingerbread house with the boys, following this tutorial on Simple Bites, which spaces the project out over several days, and makes it manageable for after school hours over the course of a week. I love when projects are fun, not overwhelming, and kid-friendly. (And when Adam takes charge and does the work of it all, which happens a lot around here.)

Happy Wednesday!


it always comes back to murder she wrote

See that beauty up there? I found it at Frenchy's today for $7, and it is in perfect shape. And I mean perfect - no dust (it comes in its own carrying case), every key and knob works beautifully and smoothly, and the ink on the ribbon isn't dried, so I can type in red and black! I am in loooove. And that 'Smith-Corona' font? *swoon* I love it! And even better? It matches my Jessica Fletcher phone!

It is a wild evening out there. The wind is howling (gusts to 100km/hr) and the rain has been coming down in sheets all day. Thankfully, we still have power. It's my favourite kind of weather, both in person and most especially in tv shows and movies. Funnily enough, in the first episode of Murder She Wrote it's exactly like tonight. Every show needs a good storm episode for dramatic effect - I love when characters bluster in through the door from the cold, turning and leaning in to close it against the wind and rain, while the warm, dry, cozy home (and often a friend) is there to welcome them in. I guess that's it - it just highlights how comforting home can be. And home is my favourite thing of all.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you Americans! If I didn't have to work tomorrow, I'd happily do Thanksgiving all over again. Mmmm. I hope you enjoy a lovely, restful time with people you love.


i love november

I really do love November. The anticipation of the holidays, the cooler weather (I strongly dislike being too hot), the longer cozy evenings and candlelit suppers just agree with me. We've had a lovely unseasonably warm weekend, so we spent the day at the camp yesterday cleaning up and getting it ready for winter winds, and cooking maple sausages from the market over the fire with friends and having a lovely visit. I can't help it - here are a couple of pictures I posted on Instagram yesterday. 

I also love the food right now - there's still plenty of vegetables at the market and a few straggling things from the garden. Last weekend, I picked the last of the kale from the garden, and we bought a bunch of brussels sprouts at the market. Looking for something new to make, I asked Austen for a suggestion. And she sent me a wonderful recipe that I finally made last night. I didn't have squash, as I realized when I actually looked for the one I thought we had (oops) but this was delicious nonetheless. I used kale, didn't have the herbs, and used fresh parmesan because it's what I had. So I'm not really sure what the original recipe tastes like, but I'm sure it's wonderful. I guess my point is that you can mix up the assortment of vegetables however you'd like; it's really the method that will make it delicious.

I hope that you enjoy these last few weeks of November, too.


leaves preserved with glycerine

While driving to Halifax early last week for work, I noticed a few spots along the highway where there were many tiny oak trees trying valiantly to grow along the edge of the road. Perhaps because they were stressed, they had some seriously lovely red leaves. I crossed my fingers that they would still be there on my way home, made a mental note of where they were and what I would do with them, and pulled over to pick some on Friday.

Years ago, I remember reading about glycerine preserved leaves, but for some reason never tried making them until now. I am thrilled with the results! The colour isn't as intense as it was when the leaves were picked, but I may have crammed too many leaves into the solution. Regardless, they're just lovely, and I just had to share.

The process is easy peasy, and the boys were eager to help. Here's the deal:

Mix two parts water to one part glycerine and warm gently on the stove until you see it homogenize. (You don't need a whole lot; I used a 250mL bottle of glycerine and two cups of water. I have about 2 cups of solution left after preserving about 25 leaves.) Let it cool (if it's too warm it cooks the leaves and drains the colour), and pour the solution into a glass baking dish. Layer in the leaves (you can also try flowers, twigs, etc.) and cover somehow so the leaves stay submerged. A sheet of wax paper did the trick nicely for me; I just laid it down so there was no air between the paper and the solution. Let it sit for 3-5 days, then carefully remove the leaves, rinse, and dry. Awesome bonus - the extra solution can be saved and reused. The leaves are pliable and perfectly preserved, and should last for several years! Next year, I'm going to try some maple leaves. And probably anything else I can get my hands on.

Glycerine is available at most pharmacies, so it shouldn't be difficult to find. Incidentally, it's a humectant and is a by-product of large scale soapmaking. When lye and oils combine, soap and glycerine are created. In commercial soapmaking process, the glycerine is separated for use in other cosmetics and sold on its own. In lovely handmade soap, the glycerine is not removed, which is why most people notice a huge difference in how moisturized their skin feels when using handmade soaps vs. box store soaps.

I'll also take this opportunity to show off my new (very old) handmade drop-leaf kitchen table. I swoon every time I walk by.


don't look at this post if you have a snake phobia (LL, I mean you!)

I've been particularly thankful for my work lately. It's primarily what's been keeping my so very busy over the past several weeks, but in a good way. I spent the last week with colleagues doing professional development, which is always good, and although there are never enough hours in a day to get it all done, I kind of feel like I'm in a good groove. I have a job that I love, in a field that is fascinating and always evolving, and I get to work with a lot of fantastic teachers and school staff all over my end of the most beautiful province in the country. I consider that a whole lot of wonderful.

That said, I certainly enjoy the rest of my time. It's hard for me to switch from ultra-efficient work mode to home mode some days, though. I'll keep trying.

I discovered this song last week and can't stop singing it. (Warning: it's sooooo catchy.)

This video made my day a lot lighter. I think everyone wants to be friends with that couple. And I love the idea that there are people out there who are relaxed and open and real enough to be willing to sing on command. I know that my first reaction would be to be embarrassed and jump in the car. Those people are open to the world! I love it.

Okay, it's bedtime for me. Good night!


refrigerated pancakes and other real-life truths

So I made this delicious batch of pumpkin pancakes several weeks ago now, meaning to post the recipe for you right away. But I forgot to take pictures when they were fresh, so I took a couple the next day when they were a bit stiff and rubbery from the fridge (you can totally tell), then neglected to post them until now. Of course, I've since forgotten exactly how I modified my usual recipe to make them pumpkin-y and delicious. (It involved adding pumpkin, some spices, and a bit more flour. Sorry, that's all I can come up with tonight.)

In other real-life truths, I have a monster headache right now (the kind that comes along with a bit of nausea), the fire went out and I can't get it going again, apparently I have a disc issue in my back (so I shouldn't be crouching to get said fire going anyway), we have another health thing going on in our house that's occupying some brain space, and I'm behind where I'd like to be with work stuff.

I don't want you to think that my other, mostly happy posts aren't authentic - that's genuinely how I am the vast majority of the time. And tonight, although this is just as genuine, I know that it will pass, and the headache will most likely be gone come morning. I know how trivial these things are in the grand scheme of things. Just keepin' it real.

And so, I will take my current book (P.D. James again!) up to bed early, hopefully get a superb rest, and take tomorrow as it comes. Good night!


my favourite season

I went for a quick lunchtime walk this past week, squeezed in between school visits, and found an acorn jackpot! Adam brought home some organic honeycrisp apples from the market yesterday. They are oh, so very delicious - if they're available in your neck of the woods, give them a try. They're best eaten out of hand.

A few other little lovelies:

I love this necklace.

We need some new dining chairs. I love these ones.

Speaking of chairs, I could use a pair of these.

And now that I've got 'a case of the gimmes and the wants' as my friend Christine says, I'm off to make some maple oat scones for my boys. (They are INCREDIBLE.) Hope you're enjoying the weekend and some beautiful fall weather!



This stunning sunrise was how my Monday started. Not too shabby at all, eh? Seriously, (and I'm not trying to sound dramatic) it felt like an honour to witness. One of those humbling yet uplifting moments in the presence of something so far beyond little old me.

And in much more muted tones, from one evening last week when the clouds overhead lit up in beautiful pinks and peach at sunset.



I don't think that there are many things more beautiful than a birch tree.

Adam's off shooting a wedding in Saint John, so I've been having a busy, fun time with the boys to myself this weekend. Just popping in to share a few things that I've come across lately.

The Redwood Cup has been happening in my wonderful hometown this week, and it's been so much fun. People are excited - I love the sense of excitement around town, the new faces, and the hometown pride that hosting the event fosters. (I don't know why the men's prize is $40 000 and the women's $10 000, though. I'm hoping there's a good reason.)

When the mundane isn't status-worthy. I think you'll appreciate this one.

Bees and other pollinators are it. Without them, we'd be toast. These amazing images totally do them justice. (Thanks for the link, Teresa!) Speaking of which, Adam and some other bee lovers spoke at a town Planning Advisory Committee meeting this week supporting allowing hives within town limits, and it's going forward to council with the PAC's recommendation. Fingers crossed!

I was catching up on some podcasts and listened to episode 221 of Spark from CBC. Ben Falk of Whole Systems Design was one of the guests, and he totally captivated me! I'm now eagerly awaiting his book from the library. The full length interview is here, and it's worth a listen - anyone who uses the word 'folks' in that lovely, gentle way gets a thumbs up from me. The idea of enlivening the land is exactly how I've pictured our new property changing over time, I just hadn't the precise words for it.

With a sunny, warm, summer-like day forecast for tomorrow, I'm heading to sleep early. I can be confident that a sweet, cuddly little boy will climb into bed and snuggle up with me earlier than I would naturally wake up. Happy weekend!


impromptu weekend adventure, in chronological order, with approximately one zillion pictures

On Friday, the weather was beautiful and warm, and I decided that Phillip and I needed to shake things up and have a special little adventure together. So all four of us went to the camp (we have a camp! Can this be real?) for supper (real talk: drive-through sandwiches, no beautiful Pinterest pinic) and then Phillip and I stayed overnight. When we arrived, this fawn was in the back field, keeping an eye on us. Reports from the neighbours indicate that there are between 10 and 20 deer in the field most evenings. This leaves me wondering what kind of fencing we'll need for our future gardens, which farmer Adam has already started to work on. (Rotted hay? Check! Reading Ruth Stout? Check!) Here's the adventure as I saw it.

I can't figure out what these flowers are. They're very low growing and tiny; they seem to spread a bit, and bees love them.
 See the tracks in the puddle?

I love toad bellies! I just want to tickle them.

 Crazy fungi. I don't know what this is called, either.

 He's winking.

After a gorgeous sunset, we cuddled up with the lantern in our sleeping bags and read, read, read. And we woke up to a soft, grey morning with the moon looking down at us.

The fog lifted, and there was more reading for both of us, and hot chocolate with giant marshmallows with breakfast.
 I know I've mentioned my love of P.D. James before (she's incredible!) and I really enjoyed this book. A fun, quick read. (I don't usually treat books in this fashion. I don't know what came over me.)

We played some tiddly winks before our walk out. Whenever he's concentrating, he sticks out that tongue. Always has.
That little adventure was exactly what we needed.