Monday, January 27, 2014

Thoughts on foods

Its no secret that I have been obsessed with honey bees lately.  They have been on my mind constantly for the past few months.  With all the garden planning for this summer I have been taking the bees into serious consideration.  Beekeeping will test your patience.  Most will fail within their first year or two of owning a hive.  With the constant threat of predators and pests and the mystifying phenomenon of colony collapse disorder, most new beekeepers wont make it long enough to harvest their first jar of honey. 
That being said, beehives are an expensive hobby and I have been trying to gain as much knowledge as possible before diving into it.  I know that if I want to be successful, obtaining a hive or two is out of the question for this upcoming summer.   I also know that unless I want to starve the bees out of their winter stores, I won't be wanting to harvest honey in the first year. 
No, this spring and summer will be spent keeping an eye on the local flora.  Bees rely on the plants, and I need to have a keen understanding of which flowers bloom when and where they can be found.  Botany has interested me ever since I was young and over the past 15 years or so I have collected an impressive library of reference books.  Plants and bees have a symbiotic relationship, neither one surviving without the other, and to me it only makes sense that to love one you must love them both.
Nice little set up the neighbour has.
Ominous scull and crossbones had us turning around.
With the damp weather and my ever persistent sinus cold I haven't felt like doing much of anything lately.  I'll admit that I haven't gotten out as much as I would like too.  Yesterday, in lieu of snowshoeing, A. and I took the jeep out for a 4X4 in the snow.  It wasn't the refreshing get-out-into-nature that I have been craving but it kept me from going stir crazy inside the house.  The rest of the weekend has been spent curled up close to the fire place, giving me a good excuse to work with my journal and yarns. 
My baby booties are coming along nicely.  Although I am always happy to have a hook and yarn in my hands I get greater satisfaction from working with natural wools.  This chunky blend is worked up quickly in a warm and sturdy bootie.   With the recent announcement of her first pregnancy I have a good idea of which friend these booties will be going to.
I have been thinking a lot about my diet lately and how I would like to cut out some of the crap that I am accustomed to eating.  I don't really believe in supplementing your diet with protein powders and pills, to me these just seem like prepackaged convenience foods masquerading as health foods.  Personally, I would rather add foods to my diet that are high in the minerals, fats, and proteins that I lack.  Ever since trying my first bottle of  kombucha in San Diego last fall I've been obsessing over the drink.  The fermented tea is slightly fizzy and high in minerals and probiotics.  It tastes a bit like a cross between and alcoholic cider and (if you ferment it too long) vinegar.  I'm hooked and I have a continuous batch brewing in my pantry at all times. 
Aside from getting my daily dose of probiotics, I have discovered bee pollen again (surprise, surprise).  This little super food is extremely high in protein, vitamins, and folic acid.  I have been adding it to my oatmeal and smoothies throughout the day.  Not only is a great addition to the diet but its unbelievably gorgeous ranging in colours from soft yellows and oranges to sometimes pinks and green.  Seriously get in on this little gem. 
This week will be spent mulling over meals and which foods I would like to cut out of my diet.  I can express extreme self-control in the market but once a 'treat' comes home with my it becomes a free for all.   I need to do some serious planning to better manage my snacking and to keep my blood sugar even.  My diet plan tends to lean somewhere towards a raw-vegan and although I do tend to play around with these types of foods quite often, I really need to create a solid meal plan that will get me thought the work week.  I don't put label my diet but I do try and eat those foods that fuel my body and make me feel good. 
Due for a top up but check out that SCOBY!
Beautiful pollen granules.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Passing Weekends

 A thick frost covers the trees.

As another weekend winds down I take advantage of the quite morning to catch up on everything I had wanted to accomplish.  Although the past few days have been quiet I feel they have been quite productive.  I'm a homebody and I prefer to spend my days off around the house, baking away in the kitchen or hiking the many trails around the neighbourhood. 
This weekend we received a pleasant visit from my aunt and uncle who happened to be passing by on their way home from a ski trip.  It has been a good 6 months since I've seen any of my family so it was a nice chance to catch up.   After spending the morning enjoying tea and baking we hiked up to the view point over looking our lake.  The sun was out and the hoarfrost so thick that everything seemed to sparkle.  Aunty C and Uncle G generously lent us their snowshoes to try out next weekend and I honestly cannot wait to get on them.
The best way to travel.
A view well worth the hike.  

I have been busy in the kitchen all weekend baking a cooking up a storm.  I tried my hand at baked kale chipped coated in a zesty 'cheese' sauce.   The chips turned out surprisingly crisp but I think next time I would stick with a plain oil and  salt coating, letting the flavour of the kale shine through.  I Also had a big craving for sushi so I spent the better part of Sunday preparing a Japanese style dinner.   In the big city, A. and I would to eat sushi a lot.  We had four sushi restaurants within a stone's throw from our condo and you could fill your stomach for a song and a dance.  Lazy Saturdays were often spent browsing the local thrift store then walking up the hill for an early sushi lunch.  I sometimes feel a small nostalgia for our urban lifestyle. 

Lovely kale leaves washed and ready to become chips.

Since we now live a good 45 minutes away from the closest Japanese restaurant I tend to make my own sushi often.  The process is actually quite easy although it can be rather time consuming.  I like to round out my rolls with a large pot of miso soup and good sized bowl of sunomono salad.  Since we make it so often I try to keep all of the ingredients on hand.  I may be a little too prepared - upon searching my pantry I found 3 bottles of rice wine vinegar and 3 packets of nori sheets.  Oops.
My first time preparing shitakes. 
Their shape seems to lend themselves to potions and magic.

Ingredients for sushi dinner.
Like sushi rice, I tend to buy most pantry staples in bulk.

The rest of the weekend has been spent catching up on some reading and finishing up a crochet project.   I have been making a great effort to work with my yarns more often and my next planned project is a pair of baby slippers.  I picked up a leather punch at the local tool shop the other day and I plan to attach suede soles to the slippers.   As for now, I plan to top up my continuous batch of kombucha and then get ready for the work day.    What meals do you most like to prepare in the kitchen?

Completed cozy for my telescopic lens.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Daily Distractions

Monday mornings are always relaxed.  The office is slower, with only one doctor working the earlier shift, so I get head into work a little later in the day.   A. and I are usually up around 5:30am and while he heads off to work I meander upstairs to enjoy a latte and catch up on my blog roll.  I like having the house to myself, it gives me some quite time to catch up on my reading and housework.  Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with A. but he constantly has the gaming console or music going.   I find I need quite time, without distraction, to reflect and recharge. 

Our community is quite rural and not many services are offered to us.  We have no cellular reception.  (A little strange at first but then oddly liberating) and there isn't one company that bundles all services.  Our internet is painfully slow and cable TV is relatively expensive for even the basic package.   When we first moved into the house we had intended to hook up satellite TV.  When the provider told us they couldn't receive a clear signal we put it on the back burner and learned to live without.  Its hard to keep up on current events without the morning news, and I admit, there are some series that I do miss, but often find myself grateful for the break from daily TV.   To compensate, we set up our furniture with the heart of the home in the kitchen and dining area.  Our main floor consists of a spare bedroom and bathroom and an open concept kitchen and dining room.  The woodstove is located right in the centre of everything, making our large farm table the area to area to gather and socialize.  Still, we do have a theatre area, where I sometimes indulge in downloaded shows, but its tucked away in the loft, out of sight and out of mind. 

Today's morning will be spent without the distraction of TV or movies.  My entertainment is the view from the large picture windows facing north. The sun is starting the rise and the white snow on the hills is starting show.  Firewood needs to be gathered and soon the house will be filled with the scent of zucchini muffins baking in the oven.  Tonight's dinner will be organized and if there is time remaining I may take some time to crochet a lens cozy for my camera.  It seems that there isn't much time left in the day for distractions when everything has been finished.  The mornings are so much more productive when I take the time to focus. 

What are some ways you spend the mornings free of distraction?
Summertime in our little neighbourhood, tucked away in the middle of nowhere.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The weather can close the world within it's hand.

Can you spot the cave of the selenite crystals to the bottom left? 

Here in the west we have not been experiencing winter with the same severity as the other provinces.  Still though, the blanketed landscape and blowing snowdrifts have me cozied up inside enjoying the warmth of the woodstove.  Maybe it's my European background, but this time of year I tend to crave hearty soups and stews.  Last night's snow fall had me rushing home from town early to prepare a large pot of my Grandmother's Hungarian Pea Soup.  It is quick meal, coming together with sautéed vegetable and egg noodles then finished off with a very generous amount of sweet paprika.  It reminds me of being a young child, sitting in my Grandmother's yellow kitchen enjoying the rust coloured soup from her old country rose china bowls.



Today's weather is quite mild.  The sun is out and warm but the strong wind seems to find a way through the layers of my clothing. The trees are shedding snow and the sounds of it hitting the tin roof carries through the house.  I bundled the pup up and we both headed out for a walk behind our old home.  Although the area is close by, I haven't ventured out that way in some time.  The fields are covered in snow and the once busy ponds are now frozen and still.  Even without the abundance of herb and wildlife I cant help but feel like I live in the most gorgeous place in the world.  
On my way home I was reflecting on the beauty of the land but also little disappointed that I hadn't found any wildlife.  In the summertime, I always seemed to be trailing beautiful birds or sneaking up to a couple of deer hiding in the bush.   Once while walking the same route I came upon a large turtle sunning itself on the path.

Best to stick to the roads.

This livestock dog always comes over for a friendly greeting.

When I heard the jays calling overhead I instinctually took out my camera to capture some shots.  While trying to focus in on one of the jays I started thinking about the beautiful sapsucker that teased me on our deck the other day.   He had perched under the awnings for a bit and then landed on the railing, wings outstretched, leaving his delicate feathery imprint in the snow.  Then, as if by magic, he was right there in the middle of my shot.  He stayed for a brief moment and then flew off into the trees.  It all happened so fast I didn't have time to focus my camera, unable to capture a decent picture.   I can't help but compare the two encounters, both happing so quickly and then leaving me with faintest  proof that he was even there at all.  The universe works in amazing ways and I intend to look into animal totems this evening. 

Back home all ready to warm up.
Which animals have been revealing themselves to you lately?

Sunday, January 5, 2014


“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.”
-T.S. Eliot
An almost full moon rises above the hill. 

With each new year I like to choose a word of intention to focus on.  In the past, words of intent have come easily to me.  This year's word has not revealed itself to me yet but the theme is there.  Create.  I have never really thought of myself as a creative individual.  I have no artistic skills nor can I come up with original ideas for crafts.  I can though, follow a pattern or set of instructions  with amazing accuracy.  My comprehension of construction is so much so that I often find myself picking apart items in stores with the intention of recreating them at home. 

This year, I plan to nurture that creativity.  Not only with fibers and fabrics inside, but with the garden and wild resources around me.  I envision creating a wealth of abundance around me.  Stepping back into simpler times when not everything was purchased from a shopping mall.   Homegrown vegetables from the garden, fresh eggs collected from the coop, crusty breads baked from scratch, a home apothecary built up from local herbs.  The intention is to create a sense of sustainability around me. 

Although we are still very much in the grips of winter's icy hand, I have been feverishly planning out my garden for this year.  This will be the first spring in our new house and the land around us is still very raw.  This years` focus will be on tilling the soil for the herb and vegetable gardens and constructing a large woodshed and chicken coop.   Future plans will need to be taken into consideration, of course.  Such as, building the roof of the coop so that it will support a couple of hives down the road and leaving enough land untouched so that we can fence a couple of goats when the time comes.

Its hard to envision a summer garden when snowfall blankets the home.
Snowy picnics taken in the backwoods.
A little wine to keep us warm.
Short dog does not make out well in the snow. 
A garage sale find that has been getting a fair bit of use.

My plans for this year are quite extensive.  For now, I have been taking the time to enjoy the winter wonderland that surrounds me.  What does your vision for the new year hold?