Monday, May 30, 2011


Another weekend, another hike.  This time of year weekends often include lots of hiking time for our family (it's nice to get out there hiking before the full, dry heat of summer hits) but this year we've decided that we really will make sure our priorities are our priorities. 
We love time outdoors and so we are scheduling it in just the same way we schedule work hours in - it is a priority in our lives and we are determined to treat it as such.  This weekend's hike had us hiking along a trail we went to for my Mother's Day hike last year - a beautiful spot.
We enjoyed our hike, the boys enjoyed having a friend along, there was time for a packed lunch, flower photos and, once we were out of the park, there were roadside spots for rosebud collecting (I collect these every year and this ritual is such a simple blessing to me).

Every time I go for a hike I feel so grateful to live in this area, there are so many beautiful places to hike that are easy to access. 

On this hike (which has a very steep climb for the first while) we saw some members of the local naturalist club out on a bird count.  These women always inspire and impress me - some of them are 30 years older than I am and I love to see how fit they are.  They are also gracious outdoors people and always take time to engage my boys on the trail and encourage them. 

Once we got home we decided a home baked treat was in order and, since it is rhubarb season, rhubarb cake seemed a good choice...especially with whipped cream!

We also enjoyed a delicious fresh salad with dinner, not from my garden yet but from a beautiful garden I've been noticing for the past few months whenever we are in town.  It is a home on a city lot  that seems completely filled with beds of greens.  It looks beautiful - like a living quilt(you can see what I mean if you click on that link and see the blog header photo).  When I first saw it I felt sure that someone must be running a market garden there and I was very curious.
I LOVE seeing whole yards used to grow food.  And, from my understanding, the greens are then brought to our farmers market by bike.  I love being able to tell my boys about people like this - very inspiring.  We bought some of his greens at the market this weekend and they are fantastic.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blackberry Muffins

We love blueberry muffins in our house but blueberries tend to get used up quite quickly (no matter how many pounds we pick and freeze - why is that?!?) so now we are onto wild blackberries.  They make delicious muffins (and frozen yogurt and smoothies and fruit crisp and...).
I thought I would look for a new recipe and came across this one, it sounded delicious!  I started out intending to mostly follow the recipe but that didn't last very long.   I had some plain yogurt to use up so I wanted to use that instead of the sourcream and milk and I wanted to use coconut oil instead of butter (not that I don't Love butter).  I also didn't want to use that much sugar - I like my muffins to be just sweet.  So here is what I ended up using.

2 1/2 cups flour (I used a combination of spelt and whole wheat)

1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup plain organic yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1 very ripe banana - mashed well (this adds sweetness and lets me add less sugar)
6 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a standard 12 muffin pan.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mash the banana until smooth then add  eggs, yogurt, sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla.  Mix.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix together with a few light strokes, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the berries. Don't overmix. The batter won't be smooth.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake 17-20 minutes. This is very yummy so I suggest doubling the recipe - I did! ;-)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quinoa Asparagus Salad

I love quinoa but my boys don't.  Like really don't.  They're not picky eaters at all so when they tell me they really don't like something I know they mean it!  But I can't help thinking that I just haven't found a way to prepare it yet that they like.  The other day I made a quinoa salad using up some leftover quinoa and some things from the veg drawer. 
I sauteed some onion and a bit of garlic.  I added some cubed sweet potato and let that cook for a bit until it softened.  Then I added some chopped asparagus and cooked it for just a few minutes longer.  I mixed these veg with the cooked quinoa and then poured some of our favourite dressing over it all (although this time I used balsamic vinegar when I made the dressing).  And what did my boys think?  Not much!  I loved it though.  And had to put it away so that there would be some left for our guests - I found it hard to stop "testing" it as it was delicious to eat while it was still warm. ;-)
So, that  leaves me on the lookout for another way to try quinoa and yesterday I found this recipe in a magazine.  I feel pretty confident that they will like these quinoa cakes but if anyone has any links to favourite quinoa recipes I'd sure appreciate them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want

We had a lovely long weekend (Oh, I do SO wish every weekend was a long weekend!) and on Monday we decided to go for a hike to look for Morel mushrooms.  We headed to an area nearby that had burned last summer hoping that we might find some there.  We walked. We saw Marmots (can you see two of them on the top of the log pile?).
We searched some more.  We enjoyed a new-to-us hiking spot.  We saw a blue bird that I've yet to identify (at first I thought it was a Lazuli Bunting but I'm not quite sure now) and we almost literally came upon this Hairy Woodpecker.  I was close enough to see that his front feathers were no longer white but a silver-grayish from rubbing up against the charred trees.
We found beautiful wildflowers - Chocolate Lilies, Indian Paintbrush and some Arrowleaf Balsam Root and wild strawberries in bloom (we'll have to come back when they are fruiting).
We walked some more.  No Morels.  We found Miner's Lettuce to munch on. We saw one single wild rose in bloom - it was tucked up against a charred log in a sheltered spot, the rest were still tightly wrapped buds.
And while we could have been disappointed that we didn't find any mushrooms I think it makes far more sense to delight in what we did find.
A carpet of Arnica in bloom.  Gorgeous.  So while it may be true that (in the wise words of Mick Jagger) you can't always get what you want...we certainly were happy to find beauty in what was.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Beauty All Around

The weeks seem to be passing by so quickly I can hardly believe it.  The blossoms help to remind me to stay present, some of them are so short-lived that if I don't stop to enjoy them That Moment they are gone!  I went to my parents' home for Mother's Day weekend and when I returned S pointed out that there was a flowering almond tree on this property (one of my favourites from our old home that I used to take the boys' photo in front of each year when it was blooming.  It was a fun way to see their growth each year.)  The flowering almond had not been in bloom when I left yet it was just beyond peak bloom when I returned.  So quick!
I couldn't resist taking photos of the hummingbirds while I was visiting my parents.  They seemed especially assertive - almost buzzing our heads as we worked in the garden.

Am loving this tree Right Now as its blooms are almost done too.  Do things seem especially quick to finish blooming this year?  Is it because of the late spring?

So beautiful.  And the each time I go outside I get a waft of gorgeous scent - yesterday I was walking by a tree right near our front door and caught a scent that reminded me of something I couldn't quite place...finally I decided it was very similar to the cherry popsicles of my childhood summer camping trips.  ;-)
My folks came to stay for a few nights this week and we also had another overnight guest.
Just one night though and then (I'm so grateful!) we found its Mama.  What a relief!

There was also time for a short hike with my Dad and...
a run in with this fellah.  I am not a fan of snakes (to put it extremely mildly) - they terrify me.  And this fellah just seemed to go on and on when he finally decided to make his way across the trail so we could continue.  On and on and on.  Blech!  To me, he made the poison ivy we came across look positively friendly!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Oh...maybe  just a word or two - apparently wordless isn't really my thing. ;-)  The other day S brought home some lilacs and had them in this jar when I got home.  Such a lovely combination of colours and I Love the scent of lilacs.  Then yesterday I \spent my work day gardening around old lilac trees as well as Lily of the Valley - the day passed quickly in a haze of delightful smells.  I couldn't resist bringing a few more home and E put them in this old wine bottle (I just never could recycle that one).  I ended up putting the ones from S into our newly painted bedroom.  You can't quite tell the colour of it from that photo above but it is a lovely, calm blue with just a hint of periwinkle in certain lights.  Such a peaceful colour, it is almost the same colour as our bedroom at our old home but not quite.  It is feeling very springy around here with so much in bloom and such good smells everywhere...I love this time of year.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do or Do Without

I was raised with that saying as a way of life...I don't remember if it was actually ever said but it was certainly lived.  My parents are part of a generation where that was simply what you did - there weren't a lot of material goods and so each item was treated with respect.  When things broke then they were fixed.  If they were broken beyond repair then the item was saved to be used in another way.  I have a very strong admiration and respect for that way of thinking and very much believe it is a way of thinking that our current culture could benefit from. 

Last year S brought home some wicker furniture that was on the side of our road with a free sign on it.  My husband knows that I love things made of natural materials, that I love a bargain and that I'm always happy to do what I can to make something last a little longer.  A little while ago he also brought home some paint so that I could fix up this weathered (somewhat sad looking) furniture.  I painted it and then I decided to use some thrifted cushions and some material I had been given to make some "new" seat cushions for the two chairs.  So now we have two lovely looking and comfy reading chairs, a table and a loveseat to put on our patio.  It makes me very happy to be able to furnish our lives in this way and to so rarely have to buy anything new, I very much enjoy being able to fix things in this way - it gives me a deep sense of joy.
And now I am also working my way to finding a balance in this.  I am determining what "projects" I can let go of and pass on to someone else.  I've realized that I can't *fix* everything, and that I don't want to spend all my free time working on things - remaking, repairing, re-purposing.  I realized that what was a very worthy value at one time - saving all material items to be re-used in some way - can quickly become overwhelming in this age of "too much" stuff.  That it isn't up to me to save everything from the dump and that I can let go of some of the projects I have tucked away so that I can free up some time to just be (don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean I will be throwing things in the garbage, it just means I won't be taking on any new projects for a bit and that I will see if I can find someone else who may be interested in some of the things I had planned to fix). 
Do you ever have those moments in your life where you see very clearly that time is precious?  Heartbreakingly clearly?  That it passes by so quickly that in a blink your children are almost grown and that things - those constants in life- can change in an instant?  Things are coming together right now in my life to show me this lesson clearly...and I'm grateful for the ability to be able to really *see* this.  And so, for right now, I am working on letting go of "too much" so that I can fully enjoy "just enough".   And for now this may mean some daily quiet reading time in my "new" comfy wicker chair. ;-)

What about you?  I'd love to hear if you have experience of this feeling.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Red Lentils

I've been stocking up my pantry again since moving.  I was using up as much as we could out of our pantry, cold room and freezers before moving and was feeling a bit Old Mother Hubbardish for awhile.  Now I've got all my big pickle jars filled with grains and beans again and there is just something so satisfying about seeing shelves lined with full jars.  I came across a recipe for a red lentil/feta cheese dip(much like this recipe only add 1/3 cup of crumbled feta instead of tahini, an onion and some paprika) and knew it was a must try - I'm always on the lookout for healthy, filling snacks for our family. 
This was easy to make and delicious to eat - much like hummus.  I can almost taste it already on our sandwiches and wraps in the summertime with our ripe tomatoes and cucumbers!
I had also come across a recipe for these quick and easy flat bread on this blog - delicious.  Next time I will double the recipe, E was devouring them almost as quickly as I could get them out of the pan.  We picked some garlic chives to add the dough and they gave it a very nice flavour.
I always love finding simple recipes to add to our family's collection, we tend to be a hungry lot and keeping us full with whole, healthy food takes a bit of planning and preparation - especially with two growing boys!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Case of the Missing Eggs

We feel very lucky to have access to a large space in town in which to garden.  This will be our third year getting to garden there and it has been so wonderful.
W and I went to rake the space into beds over a week ago and yesterday the boys and I went to do a little bit of planting.  We planted out half of the cabbage seedlings and lots of onions (red and yellow).  We mulched two of the pathways with trimmings from the day lilies at this house and will be on the lookout for more mulch wherever we can find it. 
There are always killdeer on this property and usually while I am working if I get too near to their nest then they try to distract me away from it by running, squawking and pretending their wing is broken.
This time I didn't even notice her nest until E pointed out to me that she was just sitting calmly.  I don't know if she is getting used to us or if she just didn't want to leave her eggs because it is close to hatch time but she didn't seem to  mind our presence at all, she just sat there and watched as I planted out some onions.  Since I always have my camera close to hand I couldn't resist taking her photo.  It is Amazing how well they blend into their environment - even though I knew where she was today (it is marked out with bamboo stakes so we don't step on her eggs) I still had to look hard each time I went by on the tractor to see if I could see her - she blends right in.
We've been busy doing lots of yard work around here working to get things into shape.  The boys found some abandoned quail eggs where they were raking and brought them to me to see (you can see them in the top photo).  We put them into an old bird nest we had and I put them right outside the front door.  The next morning I came out to look at them again (so lovely) and...they were gone.  We're not sure what took them.  My guess is a raccoon but we've had other guesses too.  Eight eggs gone!  A feast for some critter.