Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thank you Santa

I'm looking forward to some non-school related reading this holiday. This is what Santa brought for me.
This makes the itch for dirt under my nails that much stronger.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have A Merry One

Wishing every single one of you the most memorable holiday season filled with love, happiness, laughter, family and food (oh the food!!!).
Now, back to the last minute wrapping...

Monday, December 5, 2011


I'm quite confident that every mother remembers the birth story of their children. We know minute details that our partners would not have even noticed...let alone remember years down the road. We love to share these stories and hear others'.
Last night as I went to bed, realizing that in just a few hours time, my child would officially be 4 years old, I recalled his birth story with fondness and amazement. I find it staggering that for a child to be born, there are millions of things that have to go just right. From the moment of conception to the time your pushing out that child (or in my case as many others, when they come out via section) so many stars had to line up just right.
Last night, at 2:37am, Gage came down to our bedroom and climbed into our bed. When I asked him what was wrong he said "I just wanted to be with you". Eric and I looked at the clock and were amazed that the time was 4 minutes after the time he was born, four short years ago.
So today, I am reminded yet again, how blessed we are to have such a four year old. He's taught me a lot about myself and my husband these past four years. I'm grateful that he chose us as parents.
And seriously...where did the time go??
The toy in the foreground is Gage's gift. It's one of those marble mazes things. Hours of entertainment!!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Our last harvest of the season was our garbage can potatoes. To be honest I had kinda forgotten about them. I walk by them several times a day - they've just become part of the outside decor. That is until, I started walking on the vines because they had died and we're all over the patio...
My dear husband and father-in-law carried the heavy can to the garden and dumped it. Then, G-man and I went out to get our hands dirty; and it was F-U-N. Getting our hands dirty, digging around trying to find our treasures. I had initially planted 5 seedling potatoes and yielded 22. For the life of me I can't remember what the name of the potato is or where the piece of paper that I wrote it on is currently hiding, but they are blue potatoes. They look more purple - like eggplant purple (aubergine?).
Their first use was a delicious potato and leek soup. I think we'll try frying some next.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Freezing Eggs

Man...I wish I had found this information sooner. I truly had no idea that you can freeze eggs. Hence...the naive homesteader status.
I'll be giving this a go during my last few days/weeks as a chicken keeper. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Procrastination is a sweet thing

This is what I'm doing instead of homework.
I will be regretting this later, but for now...this sock has all my attention.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Ready To Say Goodbye...

I hate to say it, but it's almost time for my three ladies to return to the farm.
I'm not going to lie, there have been moments during these past 6 months where I wished that I didn't have this extra responsibility but I can assure you these were fleeting thoughts. Was it a bit of a nuisance wrangling neighbours and friends to look after the chickens when we went away for almost two weeks this summer? Yes (and no...because our neighbours and friends are amazing). And who likes getting up on a summer weekend at 6am to let out chickens? Or jumping your neighbour's fence to try and convince a chicken to 'fly' (awkwardly jump) back over to your yard? Or trying to reason with chickens that squawking at cats and squirrels relentlessly is a little annoying? Believe me, they don't listen well or are subject to reasoning.
BUT, as annoying as they were sometimes, this experience was amazing. Yes...chicken keeping is AMAZING. These three little creatures were terrified of me when they first arrived and now, they run towards me when I enter the backyard. Yes, this is only because they think I have brought them a treat (which I usually do) and no, they still don't let me pick them up...but going from terrified to happy to see me was a huge step!
And let us not forget that these three beauties (I hope they don't find that term demeaning...I do find them beautiful) have been providing our little family with over a dozen eggs a week, teaching my son where some of his food comes from, providing hours of entertainment to us and our neighbours and totally upped my 'cool' factor by at least three.'s going to be hard to say goodbye.
p.s. Before you write me asking "If you're not ready to say goodbye, why don't you just keep them"?
My response is: a) I've rented them. No there wasn't a contract but renting means I don't own them. b) It's the middle of October. That means that snow is closer than we would like to admit and I can't say that I'd be a fan of having to go out in the middle of a snow storm to release the hens. I'm not a winter person...and I'm not ashamed to admit it (even though I am a proud Canadian).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vanilla Update

Just over a month now...
Played around with some photo software to really emphasize the "Canadian Mason..." on this one.  Thought it was kinda cool.

Seems like there's still a long way to go before this will be flavouring anything...
Patience is a virtue, right?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Time? What Time?

Man, these past few weeks have been busy. As some of you know, I started my Masters in Nursing this fall. Two courses a year, 11 courses total = 5  1/2 years of my life...and it has really sucked the life out of Don't get me wrong. I wanted this and was (am) excited about it, I'm just missing my extracurricular activities...and complaining about it kinda makes me feel a little better.
This weekend I'm hoping to have some dedicated blog time, so if you just bear with me, I promise to deliver soon. I've got some knitting projects to show you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


This is one of those moments where you stop, take a breath, and realize that you have sooooo much to be grateful for.
I don't think we stop enough.
My view from the deck. Gage in the sandbox, the dog playing near him

The view to my right. The ladies.

Feet up. Knitting in lap. Amazing...

Looking up.

Just take a moment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goals Revisited

"By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own." Mark Victor Hansen

Okay. So I recorded my goals on the intra-web, that still must count, no?
The Coles notes of my initial goals from the beginning of this year are:
1. Get chickens
2. Build a garden
3. Stay happily married
4. Learn how to make bread
5. Learn how to make cheese
(all in no particular order...but if I had to choose the marriage thing would come first, just so you don't think I put poultry before my husband)

Outside of making cheese, I can check off the rest. That's not to say that the others don't have room for improvement, which is why I'm amending my goals.
New goals:
1. Learn how to make a kneaded bread
2. Learn how to make cheese
3. Create a new garden plan for next year
     - this I'm so excited about already! I've even bought seeds (I know, I know...they are technically seeds from last years crop but I'm sure they'll work out just fine).
4. Knit more. (I guess that goal should actually be 'finish the knitting that you start' - that's more of the problem. For example, I have several projects that are in different stages of being finished. Blocking, sewing on buttons, fixing mistakes, etc).
5. Stay happily married (especially since we've added the stress of me going back to school this year....and for the next 5 YEARS!!! - crazy). no particular order.
I have many more things that could go on that list but I'm working on time management and with my free time now mostly being spent on my masters, I thought I'd keep my goals attainable. But to give you a hint....I think I may get some chicks in the new year. Don't tell my husband yet 'cause he doesn't know. It's our little secret.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fruit Leather: the results show

Well, after 11 hours and 40 minutes in the oven (turned on) and all night in the oven (turned off), we got ourselves some 7 year old strawberry fruit leather. And it's goooooood.
However, although I was using food that probably would have eventually been thrown out, I had to keep my oven on for 12 hours! 12 hours!! Yes it was on a very low temp but this food saving method couldn't be any further from carbon neutral. I have no idea how much energy was used, all I know is that I used 12 hours of it for six fruit leather cigars, when it would have cost me mere calories walking those old berries to the compost (or the chickens). Hardly seems worth it...despite it's delicious taste (and a very happy three year old who was bragging about his fruit leather making mom at school today).
The worst part about this is I have a food dehydrator in the basement that I just don't know how to use. Again, I'm no expert but I would think that a food dehydrator would use and waste less energy than an entire oven. So this huge waste of energy was my fault...making the fruit leather kinda taste like the wasted fossil fuels...
Next time, I'll figure out the dehydrator.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fruit Leather: An Attempt

Our freezer is packed. I could barely fit in all the goodies from the Harvest Kitchen Sisters' first annual canning bee!!
I decided it was time to make some room and purge some food that has been in there too long or that I know we'll never eat again (like that meatloaf that I can't remember making let alone the freezing date...).
I found a couple bags of strawberries buried deep in the back. I remember exactly when I received said strawberries...oh....about 3 years ago? (Amy, you'll have to verify as they were the strawberries that you gave me from your freezer when you moved out of Peterborough....that sad, sad, day). Since I still had a bag of last year's strawberries plus the bags I froze from this years harvest, I figured I could sacrifice these old berries in my attempt at making fruit leather. I've been wanting to try fruit leather for a few years now but with my 'not wanting to waste' syndrome and my 'it will probably fail' attitude, I was too chicken to do it (no offence Pecker, Choke and Nonny).
I found a recipe at Simply Recipes that looked pretty darn easy. I put this in the oven at 10:20 this morning and the leather is still in the oven. I know, I know...the author says that they typically put it in the oven overnight (it's a really low temperature) but I really thought that it would be done by now. The lowest temp. I get on my oven is 170 degrees and the recipe says to heat it at 140 degrees. That's why I thought it would be done by now.
Here are some pics. The berries are deliciously red!


Puree the snot out of it

Pour into pan. But be careful 'cause...

the processor blade will fall into it if you neglect to hold it

Ready for the oven.

Stay tuned for the results!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Putting Up Tomatoes

Like so many other small gardeners out there, my crop of tomatoes didn't ripen all at once. I really want to make tomato paste and some tomato sauce this year but can never get enough tomatoes from the garden at one time to make a batch.
The book 'The Encylcopedia of Country Living' suggests freezing your tomatoes until you have enough to can. Freezing tomatoes also makes the skins come off much easier. Apparently, they just slip right off while they are defrosting.
I'm looking forward to cooking these into jars of deliciousness to use throughout the winter.

My first batch of frozen tomatoes. These went straight into a freezer bag and are now awaiting their peers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Garden Bounty

The little garden that could is producing a great crop of tomatoes, snow peas, beans and cucumbers. Our untamed grapevine is also starting to give us some delicious, sweet grapes. Gage calls them 'crunchy grapes' because they have seeds in them. Luckily you have to really dig into the grapevine to get them or the chickens would be all over it.
I love how excited Gage gets when I ask him if he wants to come to the garden with me. I hope he remains as excited over growing ones own food in the years to come.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Another Checked Off The 'To Do' List

There's nothing like the impending start of the school year to make you think of all those items on your summer 'to do' list. With school starting on Tuesday, there were a couple things that I wanted to get done before then. One being making my own vanilla extract.
I saw this on The Prairie Homestead. She made a list of five food items she would never buy again. I had no idea you could make your own vanilla extract and I'm curious as to how it will turn out.
I bought 6 vanilla beans from the bulk store and a 1.14L bottle of vodka. The beans aren't cheap but considering you pay $12 for a 235ml bottle of pure vanilla extract, I think it's worth it.
The Process:
1. Split the skin of the vanilla beans open lengthwise. This exposes the vanilla seeds inside to the vodka.

2. Cut the beans into 3" pieces

3. Put beans into a clean, 1L sized Mason jar.

4. Fill jar with vodka.

5. Steep for atleast 3 months (longer if you can wait!)

I really should have made this at the beginning of summer so I can give some away as Christmas gifts. Oh the gift of hindesight.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 6

Our final day! It was very bitter-sweet waking up this day knowing it was our the last leg of our amazing family bike adventure.
Chambord to Alma. 54.7km.

Riding into Chambord the previous day we went up a hill, so mammoth, that it literally took about 10 minutes on the bike to climb it. Needless to say, leaving Chambord that morning, I was really looking forward to feeling the wind in my face and the speed of the bike going down that hill on our way to Alma, and it didn't disappoint. In hindsight, I was probably going a little too fast considering I had my only child attached to the back of me (we were going about 45km/hr) but it was FUN (even Gage was saying "weeeeeeee" in the back). We don't have any pictures of us going down the hill, as, well...that would have been really unsafe!
This is my favourite picture of our trip. I love my bike, and it looks awesome in this shot. Also, Gage and I look like bad-asses (minus the stuffed seal).

This is one of the dams we had to ride over.

This was the view to the left of the dam

This was the view to the right of the dam

Another dam we went over

After the dams and some killer hills we ended up at this. No more path, no road...nothing. Just water.

But don't worry!! We had a ferry ride across the lake. As you can see, Gage was quite excited to be on a boat. He kept saying "This is my first boat ride in forever in my life"! (I can assure you, it wasn't his first boat ride, but why burst the bubble?)

After the ferry ride there were more hills. And not just regular hills, these were gigantically steep hills that I had to walk some of them. I thought it would never end, until I came to this:
This is where we had STARTED our trip. We were DONE!!!
I was so excited...and sad...and proud...I literally started crying (just a little). I was so proud of my little family. Still am. It was a great trip and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Even all those pesky hills that made me get off my bike and walk - I'll own them next time).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chai Tea Concentrate (Take 1)

While creeping other blogs, I came across this recipe and stopped dead in my tracks. They have a point. Why pay $4 and change for cold chai tea concentrate to be heated with frothed milk when you can make it yourself for less than $2.80 (that's the exact price I paid, excluding the milk, for all the spices with plenty leftover to make more)?  I do have some trepadation as I am a bit of a tea snob when it comes to Chai and really only prefer one brand, but trying new things never hurt anyone right?
Here's the recipe (From A Crafty Lass): Note: This isn't the recipe I eluded to in my previous post. For whatever reason my browser wouldn't open that page when I wanted to make it so I went with this one instead.

For about 3 cups of concentrate:
  • 3½ cups water
  • ½ cup agave nectar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 star anise
  • ¼ teaspoon anise seeds
  • 8 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced (there's no need to peel it)
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 4 bags Darjeeling tea
Combine all the ingredients except the tea in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to strongly simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Add the teabags, cover the pan again, and steep for 20 minutes more.
Strain the concentrate into a sealable container and store in the refrigerator for about a week.

It was super easy to make and did smell amazing. If you're not a huge anise fan, you may want to cut back on it as the anise scent was quite strong. The yield was about 2 cups but that was probably my fault. I was simmering it a little harder than I was supposed to (I blame the Dexter episode I was watching at the same time - oops).
As for the taste test? I just filled a mug a third of the way with the concentrate, topped off the rest with milk and threw it in the microwave for 2 minutes. I don't know why I'm so surprised, but it tastes pretty good. A little too anise-y for my liking but not so powerful that I won't finish it (I'll just know for next time) and it's pretty sweet, which isn't all bad but I won't add as much concentrate to my next mug full (and possibly reduce the amount of honey in the next batch).
I think I may just be converted...