Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays - Phoenix the Gift Guardian

On Christmas Eve, while the children were nestled all snug in their beds, our little frisky and ever so moody calico kitty hopped up on top of their gifts. I like to think that she is protecting the gifts from all things that go bump in the night. Most likely however, she is plotting how to open the package of kitty treats under the tree.

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Homemade Christmas Decorations - Puzzle Ornaments

Looking for a way to reuse old puzzle pieces? Looking for a new DIY craft idea? What about a holiday DIY craft idea? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, read on because today I am going to teach you how to make Christmas decorations. Puzzle Ornaments. 

This is a great way to reuse jigsaw puzzles that are missing pieces,  We painted most of the pieces white and a few pieces red. We needed to make the majority of peices white for the snowflakes and half of the candy canes. We painted a couple edge pieces but not many, I really only wanted the edge pieces for the very tips of the candy canes. 

Afterwards, we glued the pieces together to form snowflakes and candy canes. I recommend glue that dries clear, do not be afraid to use copious amounts of it. In fact, I encourage it. The final step will be to tie ribbon around each of the ornaments after they are dry.

The children and I really had a good time making these together. This is a great activity to do with kids. What kid doesn't like to make things? What are your favorite holiday DIY craft ideas?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Homemade Christmas Decorations - Cinnamon Ornaments

A couple days ago my youngest boy arrived home from school and he was feeling a little bit upset. The grade 6 students at his school got to make Christmas ornaments and he wished that he could make some. Tyler is in grade 5 and he is a very heartfelt boy. To be honest, with Mat on a road trip to the city, I was looking for and activity to do with him.

I started browsing through Pinterest for some holiday craft ideas and that led me to a post written by Melissa at the Chocolate Muffin Tree with a recipe for Cinnamon Ornaments. I should mention my oven doesn't work well so I'm not entirely sure how well this will work.

Now, Melissa's recipe calls for:
1 cup of ground cinnamon, 
1 Tablespoon of ground cloves, 
1 Tablespoon of Nutmeg,
3/4 cups of Applesauce
2 Tablespoons of White Glue

First of all, I don't have nutmeg so I will use All Spice instead. I don't think it will make a difference, they aren't for eating and it will still smell delicious. I also don't have a cup of cinnamon on hand. I do have enough to split the recipe in half though. No biggie, we will make a smaller batch and it will certainly cheer up the little one's spirits.

Melissa said that you could leave them out to try for a few days but she was impatient and instead cooked them at 200F for 2 hours. I followed suit and cooked mine in the oven for 2 hours. After 2 hours they were almost done except they were a little gummy on the bottom. I flipped them over and cooked them for another 45 minutes.

When they were finished Tyler was in bed so I painted a few of them with some leftover Easter egg paint and saved the rest for him to paint the next day.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

To Halifax and Back Again

It has been snowing for the last couple days. We have been using the time to get the house ready for the approaching holiday season.  We've been planning for a few months to replace the large projector screen television in the living room with a nice slim LED screen this Christmas. We pretty much ran the projector screen to the ground and no one was watching TV in the living room anymore because we all had nicer televisions in our bedrooms. I am also in need of a new stove. It is an archaic monster. I'm scared to think how much additional power we have been consuming because of these old appliances.

When we moved in a few years back we renovated the top half of our house because the bathrooms and bedrooms needed it the most. Our plans were to save some money and then renovated the downstairs. Since the plans to renovate the kitchen were in the near future we had planned on replacing the kitchen appliances after the renovations were complete. Unfortunately the stove never made it that far.

The hubby managed to find a Samsung LED 60 inch television for $700 on Kijiji. It was only a year old and it comes from a family who took really good care of it. The plastic was still on the television, my husband keeps the plastic on everything so it looks new longer, he was ecstatic when he found out. He also managed to find me a nice second hand flat top stove for $100. These purchases are going towards the "house" presents.

He is on route to the city today. It was too windy for him to be on the water, he decided to brave the weather and drive carefully to Halifax so he can pick up these goodies. I'm spending today making Christmas decorations with the youngest boy. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

They Dream of Snow Days

In the last couple hours we've had a light dusting of snow and the children are convinced that they are going to have the day off of school. I remember being that young and wishing that mom would pop her head into my room in the morning to tell me that school was cancelled today. There is nothing more exciting to a child then the possibility of a snow day. In fact, a snow day to a child is much like a severely windy day for the hubby right now. The possibility of spending the day at home instead of putting in a rough day on the ocean can be wondrous. Unfortunately, the down side to all of the excitement is the disappointment when school/work is still on for the day. 

On another note, the hubby is very pleased that he mowed the lawn so late in the year. He loves how the snow lays upon it when the grass is short and well kept. He has already been caught gazing out the window in admiration and further commenting on how nice it looks on the well trimmed lawn.

The youngest boy wanted to run outside to make snow angels but the snow is still too wet. Perhaps he will have a chance later in the week when it gets colder. Instead, the kettle is on and mugs of hot cocoa we are sharing while the snow covers the land; and the blue jay's peck the paint off my house.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review - Salba Chia Seeds

If you aren't regularly consuming Chia seeds as part of your daily routine, you may want to consider it. Chia seeds are loaded with Omega-3 and fiber as well as calcium, magnesium and many other useful minerals. They also very easy to consume. Toss some in a salad or in some yogurt and you've just given yourself a nutritional boost. Heck, you can throw some in your next batch of cookies.

Salba has sent me two bags of their Chia seeds to sample: Whole Seed and Premium Ground. It is difficult to decide which I prefer. The Premium Ground Chia is very easy to get past fussy eaters. I like to add some ground chia seeds to flour and batter fish with it. I like to add the whole chia seeds to smoothies, homemade juice, almond milk and even water so it can absorb the liquid.

Salba's Chia seeds are Non Gmo and it makes me very happy and the product is packaged at an allergen free factory.

Disclaimer: I received this product for the purpose of this review. This post is based on my personal product experience, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Expression is an Art

Everyone has a story. How often do we tell it? Whether we are the hero, the observer, the victim or just a pawn; we all have a story to tell. Our role in that story can change at any time. We are players in each other's story too.

We all need to tell our story. Expression is so vitally important. We can learn from each other; deeper yet, we can heal each other by listening. I'm not talking about a miracle cure for life. Simply that, we are at times like a kettle needing to let out steam. Expression is our way of doing that. It isn't good to keep things bottled up, we often feel better and less stressed out when we get to express ourselves. Lowering our stress levels is good for the body. Expression isn't limited to just negative release though, it helps to share our joys and all other emotions and events in between. It bonds us to each other and helps us feel less alone.

It helps when we are able to express ourselves in a manner that is well received. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open our hearts to one another. At times it may be difficult, we may take things personally; ego, pride and fear can all hinder respectful listening. That dampens expression. It can create stress in all people involved, as well as distance and even pain.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Growing Windowsill Garlic - Pt.2

The weather calmed enough yesterday for me to brave trips to the garage to work in the soil for bit. I have more cloves of garlic then I can plant indoors. I can easily have plants everywhere in the home, but it aggravates my husband because I'm "turning the house into a dirt land, plant nursery."

Now I admit, perhaps I've been extreme in years past. The first year after we moved home from the city did involved some indoor gardening growing pains. But, the dining room isn't a green house anymore. There aren't containers covering every square inch of it anymore. I've gotten much better, I swear! MUCH better. 

Since I have more cloves than I could realistically plant indoors, I grabbed 3 containers large enough that I could plant two cloves in each container. If I were only planting one clove per container, I could plant in a large coffee tin, providing it was at least 8 inches deep. The depth allows room for the root system to flourish. The coffee tins are just large enough for my window sill. Instead, I planted in a slightly larger container. 

It is important to plant your garlic in well-drained soil. It is even helpful to mix your soil with some sand for better drainage. Plant your cloves 4 inches from the edge of the container, space the cloves 4 inches from each other.

I kept a bunch of sprouted cloves in the glass jar and I will use the deliciously mild garlic greens in everyday recipes. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Voice of Winter

Happy December 1st! It's gross, isn't it. Hey, I'm not thrilled either! I'm not a fan of cold temperatures, especially cold winds. The faster winter gets its business done, the sooner the warm weather will follow. I am a sun baby and I can't wait for it to return. Whenever it is cold out, I very quickly close my eyes and imagine that I am somewhere warm.

It's too cold to mess in the dirt outside now, my hands freeze. I want to mess in the dirt, it beckons me. I usually end up trying to grow the odd thing inside. When we extend the house, I might have a nice sun room and it will be my little wintertime plant sanctuary.

Don't get me wrong, I may hate on the cold, but I do find winter beautiful. I enjoy winter activities like sledding, ice skating and a good old fashioned snow ball fight. I appreciate the ebb and flow of the seasons. I love a nice wood stove heating my home and the feeling of wood heat. I love smelling all of the baked goods and I love spreading holiday cheer. I love the smell of winter, the crispness in the air. Winter has a voice; a sound-deadening hush. Nature is sleeping and I am in a snow cave.

I do like the holiday season, I've been tinkering around with some Christmas songs for a couple different Christmas parties that I will be performing at this month. It has helped to get me in the spirit of things. I still haven't really decorated and I really want to string some lights. Hopefully, I will be able to get that mission accomplished mid-week. Right now it's time to put some wood in the fire.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dumping Day for District 34

There is a very good chance that you've never heard of Dumping Day, it could be a National Holiday where everyone goes to the Garbage Dump and gets rid of their undesirables. It could also be the end result of a taco eating competition. Fortunately, for everyone, it is neither of these things.

Dumping Day is well known to the locals on the South-Western tip of Nova Scotia. It is the very first day of Lobster Fishing in District 34 and Lobster Fishing is the life blood of this community. It is probably the most dangerous day of the year as the lobster boats are piled high with pots ready to be "dumped" into the ocean. Most of the boats have all of their gear split into two loads because they can't fit it all on the boat at once. This isn't a problem for the larger vessels.

The hubby brought me out to the wharf last night on our way home after a gig in town and I tried to grab a picture but we left before I had the chance to grab a good one and I didn't speak up.

He's out on the water today, he's been up since 4 this morning and should be back fairly soon to sleep. They can officially start hauling up the pots after midnight tonight. He'll be home long enough to sleep for a couple short hours and then he will be back on the water. He'll be a sore, cold, smelly man when he comes home. After I hand him a bar of soap, wash his clothes and pack him enough food to get him through what will most likely be a 20 hour day tomorrow, it will be time for him to get up again.

If you ever sit down with some lobster, or seafood in general, remember all of the hard work that goes into putting it on the table in the first place. I'm grateful each day for the safety of the men and women out there on the water.

Growing Windowsill Garlic Pt.1

If you read my post: Don't Play With Sharp Things, you might remember that I recently stabbed my finger with a wooden skewer stick while wrestling with a piece of ginger. What I didn't mention was, I had also found a piece of garlic which also happened to take root in a plastic baggie. 

I carefully separated each clove from the bulb. I placed them in a cup on my windowsill, seated in small amount of frequently changed water. I will plant them in soil later on in the week. I might even keep a couple cloves growing in water just to see the difference in growth between them. I won't grow a full bulb of garlic from the ones kept in water but I will at least be able to use the mild tasting garlicky greens in cooking.

To Be Continued!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

If The World Ends, Grow Kale.

If the world ends, grow Kale! Actually, grow it anyway, it is really good for you.

Kale is a detox food, a cancer fighter, a cholesterol reducer. It is filled with antioxidants and it is very low in calories. Kale is considered the beef of the veggie kingdom because it contains more iron than beef! It also has very high amounts of fibre.

It is a very versatile green. Steam it! It has a longer cooking time than spinach because it is a little tougher. Eat it raw! Toss it in a salad with some Chards and other greens. Bake it! Make some Kale chips with some light seasoning. Juice it! Throw it in the juicer with some apples, celery, ginger, carrots and whatever else tickles your fancy. Remember, the general rule of thumb is: 3 part veggie - 1 part fruit.

Kale is really easy and inexpensive to grow and doesn't need a lot of space. It thrives in cool conditions, it is November and we have had frost and mild amounts of snow and I still have tons of Kale in my garden that I have been collecting and juicing. Like Brussels sprouts and Dandelion greens, Kale is sweeter after the frost as some of the starches are converted to sugars. 

If you purchase Kale, make sure it is organic, as Kale (and many other greens) can absorb the chemicals used to grow it. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Holidays are Coming

The holidays are fast approaching. I haven't made it my mission to make the house look seasonal yet. I have one strand of lights framing a doorway and a couple table ornaments out. Most of our strings of light need replacing this year. So, I won't bother going nuts with the decorating until then.

The return of the season also means that the hubby will be back on the water. He lobster fishes for the first part of the season, which is the busiest time. It means a big shift in the household routine for about 6 weeks and weird hours for him. It's also pretty dangerous work and I worry about him a lot. 

In the first couple of weeks, anytime at home is desperately spent trying to catch up on lost hours of sleep while you suffer through the body aches. I try to make things as easy for him as I can around here. He really enjoys the holiday season so I want to really give him a nice holiday ambience to come home to. Something that says, family and love. 

Don't Play With Sharp Things!

A few days ago, while in my kitchen, I found a piece of ginger growing in a sandwich baggie. Naturally, the hobby gardener within me saw an opportunity to grow something in my window over the winter.

It was a windy, messy day outside. My husband and I had both had wind induced nightmares throughout the night.   I didn't sleep very well throughout and found myself returning to bed after I sent the kids off to school. This happens often, since Mat and I are both night owls and creatively accomplish much more after the children go to sleep. After a couple hours of sleep I had a bad dream that left me upset, anxious and a little angry with my spouse. I knew it was a dream and I wasn't really upset with him, but I was so disturbed by the dream that I couldn't stay in bed with him. I needed to get out and calm down. 

My motions were laced with anxious haste. I went down stairs and quickly put last nights clean dishes away. The wind was blowing and the house was cold. I started a fire in the woodstove and went back into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. This brings me to the ginger...

I picked it up and decided that I would place it on the windowsill in a container with some water. Our well water is hard so it is filled with minerals and has a great ph balance. I didn't want the ginger to sit right in the water though. I want the roots to work for their water. I took a wooden skewer stick and pierced it through the ginger. It wouldn't push all the way through, I broke the stick in half. I thought I could push the other half into the other side so I could rest the sticks on the edge of the container, holding the ginger above the water slightly. While breaking the stick in half, I stabbed myself in the finger and gave myself a fairly deep wound. I'm on the mend now, but it serves me right for being hasty. The time would have been much better spent calming down, maybe a walk in the wind.

I did stand in the middle of the garden in between bouts of rain, just before the skewer stabbing. The balmy wind was powerful and threatened to blow me away. It felt invigorating, maybe even slightly unsettling... But that could be the lingering feeling of dark dreams. 

The moral of the story is simple:

No matter how much you like to grow things, if you feel stormy like the weather outside, don't play with sharp things. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Birth of the Phoenix, Part 1

My tattoo outline is completed. I'm super excited about it. It is the first step in the slaying of the dragon and soon when the shading has been completed, it will be no more.

Danielle at Riot Styles in Yarmouth, NS is the tattoo artist and I love her work. Her lines are beautiful. I return at the end of January for shading. I can't wait to see it completed, you aren't even going to know that dragon was there. I'm already trying to think of ideas for the other arm.

I'm really fortunate that my tattoos, or rather - mistakes from my teenage years, aren't uncoverable. For years, I've worn them with shame because I didn't like them. I'm so happy to have something that so much thought was put into, with an artist that was sought out. I'm grateful.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Slow Cooker: Curried Pumpkin Soup #Recipe

It's harvest season! That means I have a bunch of pumpkin kicking around the house, I love pumpkin and pretty much all other orange vegetables. I've been making lots of pumpkin soup with the slow cooker. I love it and it is a very versatile soup. Did I mention that the kids absolutely love it?

Start off with a small saucepan, add a tablespoon of coconut oil (or another vegetable oil/butter of your choosing,) 1 medium diced onion, 2 - 3 cloves of garlic and if you like celery feel free to throw in a couple diced stalks as well. Cook until the onions and celery soften and then add the mixture to the slow cooker along with 3 cups (750 ml) of chicken broth. I used "Not Chick'n" cubes to make the broth, they are chicken cubes for vegans and are made with some top quality ingredients. Add 1.5 cups of pumpkin or squash puree, half a cup of carrot puree, some finely diced kale, a small garden tomato (if you have one on hand). Now, to thicken the soup add about half a cup of heavy cream. It really is optional though but it does taste better with the cream. You may add milk instead or opt out all together if you don't eat dairy.

As for the curry seasoning, everyone has different tastes... I add about 3 tablespoons, you may choose to add more or less. Leave it cooking on high for at least 4 - 6 hours or until it reaches it's desired consistency. We like it thick in this house but some people like it soupy, if that is the case add a little more chicken broth or cream.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Freezer Storage: Blanching

I've been a busy bee blanching Kale, Carrots and other veggies to store them for the winter. Blanching vegetables are really easy. Boil some water, place the diced veggies that you want to blanch in the water for a short cooking time (depending on what is being blanched) and then remove the veggies from the boiling water and place on ice or under cold water essentially shocking it to halt the cooking process. After it has cooled, you bag it in date marked, portion sized, freezer-safe bags and your all set to enjoy your favorite veggies in your favorite recipes.

I also make  pumpkin/squash puree and pie mix and freeze them in date marked, portion sized, freezer safe bags. It is very convenient and is going to save me a lot of time when the holidays roll around.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Phoenix and the Bug

Forgive me for not always writing. I have a tendency to binge when it comes to my activities. Some months are busier than others. I certainly struggle at times to balance all of my various activities. Struggle is part of the growth; eventually, my motions will possess fluidity and I will add something else to my plate to see if I can balance it too; and so is life. Constantly evolving ourselves from one moment to the next; a new image. Hopefully we are wiser as we are reborn into each moment.

I'm getting my tattoo covered next month. I got a dragon when I was a teenage and part of it scabbed off. It wasn't completed and I never ever did anything about it. I've spend the last 15 years overly aware of its presence on my arm, many summers of my youth were spent hiding it. For the last few years I've been putting a lot of thought into what will cover it and looking for the right tattoo artist for the job. I've decided upon a Phoenix, it holds a lot of meaning for me personally and is a symbol of strength for me. I'm very excited about this. It has been a long time coming and I've put a lot of thought into it this time around.

I don't have a sketch of the actual tattoo design to show you but I can show you its inspiration.

It looks so much more feminine than many of the phoenix tattoos I have seen. That is one of the reason I like this design so much. I think I'm a little excited.

I've been laid up the last few days with a bad viral infection. I've had a sore throat to the point that I couldn't swallow and I'm stuffed up and dopey. I've taken this opportunity to relax in bed for a couple days and watch Netflix while I drink copious amounts of lemon-ginger tea with raw honey and a dash of ground cayenne pepper. It has helped sooth my throat quite a bit while creating enough heat in my body to open up my passageways. I think I'm on the upward mend, as of today. Rest is good for the body. I also managed to catch up on some much needed sleep after a weekend of sleep deprivation and gigs.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Premier Japan - Gluten Free Teriyaki Sauce

I was really surprised a few years back when I learned that Teriyaki sauce contained Gluten. It seemed almost cruel. At the time, a very dear friend of mine was living with a gluten allergy and I was trying to help her think of snacks she could eat at the grocery store. I suggested some Teriyaki flavoured rice chips that she could dip in some hummus.

"I can't have Teriyaki because it has Gluten in it"... Seriously?

I couldn't help but picture a vindictive mad-scientist-like chef hovering over a big vat of Teriyaki sauce, laughing manically as he/she pours a giant bag of flour. I'm sure it isn't that... evil.... right?

I do not live entirely Gluten free, I find I feel heavy and weighted down if I ingest a lot of gluten... fried foods... most things. It is nice to have gluten free alternatives around on those days when my digestive system is slightly bogged. I do my best to eat well, most days.

The flavour of the sauce is spectacular and I'm positive that it is not going to last long in this household. It tastes delicious with Kale chips, I rolled the kale lightly in the sauce and baked it a little longer. It is the only way my husband and oldest son have been able to stand them. I personally find it unusual, texture aside, they taste like potato chips. It also makes a fantastic marinade and it is a lovely addition to any Barbecue or stir fry.

Check back, in the next week or so I will be giving away a bottle of Premier Japan Gluten Free Teriyaki Sauce as well as a couple other tasty items.

Disclaimer: I received this product for the purpose of this review. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions on this blog are my own.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crest Pro-Health

Disclaimer: This is not an organic/natural product. I am a Bzz Agent and I get to try out these products as part of a Bzz Campaign and share my honest opinion about the products I received.

I've never been a Crest user. When it comes to toothpastes, I've used Arm and Hammer and Colgate in the past. I also dislike and quite frequently avoid products containing strong chemicals and toothpaste is no exception. I often opt for safer, yet often less effective polishes. My grandmother has perfect teeth and has been cavity free for decades and she just uses baking soda. I on the other hand have nice teeth but I am terrified to lose them. As a child my mouth was ridden with cavities. I brushed twice a day, I flossed but it didn't seem to help... But my sugar intake was terrible. Who let me have all that sugar anyway?

The Oral B: Pro Health tooth brush is probably one of the best toothbrushes I have ever used. It feels like it is cleaning my entire mouth space without missing a single bit. 

The Crest Pro Health toothpaste leaves my mouth feeling extraordinarily fresh and clean. The flavour is minty and fresh but not overbearing like other toothpastes I have tried in the past. It has little flavour freshness Crystal's that remind me of those mint strips that would melt on your tongue. My teeth do feel much cleaner after this combination. 

Last but not least, the mouthwash. This alcohol free mouthwash, doesn't have the best aftertaste. I don't care for the fact that I can't eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after I use it. Most likely so I don't swallow any residue... At least that is my assumption. It does work and although i don't personally care for the aftertaste, it still leaves my mouth fresh and clean. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Return of the Backyard Blueberries

Low bush blueberries grow wild in our back fields. I love sitting down among the bushes, it is much easier to deal with the summer humidity when I'm not bent over all day in the heat. I can peacefully relax while I spend my entire day picking. I find it very therapeutic. I usually try to pick for a week if I have the time. That way I have enough to make smoothies, bake and still freeze some blueberries for later.

The first blueberries of the season are showing face. While it is sparse picking now, in a week or so there will be a multitude of berries to pick. I'm excited just thinking about all the things I'll be able to make with the abundance of fresh blue splendor growing out back. It is nice to just have them on hand to throw in some Greek yogurt or oatmeal. I only picked a handful but I opened up a world of possibilities.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gardening - Growing Celery from Scraps

This celery was planted from scraps in my kitchen

Potatoes, onions, celery and ginger are a few examples of things that you can grow from scraps in your kitchen. We go through about 1 bunch of celery each week when we make our weekly Greek salad, so I have had a couple potential candidates on hand to replant. Remove the base of your celery leaving an inch or two at the bottom. You can let it air dry for a couple hours or plant it directly in the ground leaving the very top of the plant only partially covered. You will soon notice new celery leaves forming. The picture above was taken after only having been planted a couple weeks ago. This would be ideal for container gardening as well. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gardening - It Can't Rain All The Time

I'm pleased to announce that everything is doing wonderfully in the small garden bed by the house. The spoon dug rock drain is doing a wonderful job at preventing the water from flooding the rear section of the bed. We got to enjoy about 3 days of sunshine over the weekend before the rains returned. It was long enough to get our gigantic yard mowed and to get a couple beach days in between our regular activities.

Yesterday, I weeded the large garden plot out back. The brussels sprouts and the eggplants are doing nicely and in a few weeks many of the other hot weather crops planted there are going to boom. Right now some things are still delicate and could easily be destroyed by the wind or a hungry creature. I've noticed things tend to grow slower out back in the clay soil compared to the garden beds by the house. The house garden contains a mix of native soil and packaged top soil. We just got a bunch of composted pig poop, I think next year things are going to be very plentiful in the larger plot. I also plan on changing the layout of the garden a bit, the visualization of how the garden will look has been haunting my garden thoughts. I have a lot of work ahead of me in the fall but it is going to be worth it. Besides, if I get it done this fall I can sweeten the soil and plant my onions, garlic and other shallots for next year.

I've decided that I don't mind if it rains an hour a day, it can downpour for an hour, preferably between 5 am and 6 am. That way the sky is still clear for bonfires and stargazing and it's beautiful and sunny during the day for maximum summer enjoyment and the gardens still get wet so I don't have to carry buckets to the garden. I think I've only had to carry buckets once, every other day Mother Nature has taken care of it herself.

My green onions have garden pretty large. They are the biggest I've ever grown them and they aren't done growing. Here is a picture of one of the medium sized green onions, the large ones are almost as big around as leeks.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gardening - Correcting Drainage Issues

I have been planting in this small garden bed behind the house for a few years with great results, this year however, we have had an abundance of rain here on the East Coast. It was causing the bed to flood just below the overhang of our home. The leaves of my pepper plants were yellowing rapidly and falling off on account of all the access moisture, a far cry from the dry heat they enjoy. With Canada Day weekend approaching and 4 - 5 more days of heavy rainfall, I knew I had to act quickly if I wanted any peppers this year.

The only digging tool I had that wasn't so large that it would destroy the roots of neighboring plants was a tablespoon. I realize how this sounds. I also realize how I must have looked to observers, digging up my garden bed with a spoon. The trench I dug is approximate 1 foot deep and 5 inches wide and is exactly where all the water was collecting. I then transported smaller rocks that I had collected from the large garden plot out back and placed them in the trench.

I am proud to announce that it has been raining all day and there is no water pooling in that bed at all. The entire job only took me about 30 minutes.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quinoa Potato Pancakes

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Last night at almost 2:30 in the morning, while surfing the internet in bed, I discovered a recipe for Quinoa Potato Pancakes from Honest Cooking. The husband is a meat and potatoes kinda guy and he had been craving potatoes, naturally this was a terrific compromise for us. I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand that the were required to make them in the same fashion as Honest Cooking. I utilized the Potato and Quinoa union as inspiration to get creative. I impulsively made them like a Caesar Salad, I never really thought much about the ingredients as I placed them in the bowl. It seemed very much on a whim. My ingredients were:

1 cup Quinoa,
2 cups Mashed Potatoes
1/2 Small Onion
1 Large Green Onion
1/2 Tsp Garlic
4 Tbsp Caesar Dressing 
3 Meatless Bacon Bits or Real Bacon
1/2 Tsp Oregano
Salt/Pepper to taste
Cooking Oil/Margarine/Butter 

I used store bought Caesar dressing because it was all I had on hand but I found this recipe really interesting Vegan Caesar Dressing that I would love to try. Now, I'm not vegan. I do love variety in my diet and foods that leave me feeling lighter and more energetic. Because of that, I often eat a lot of vegan or meatless dishes and eat a variety of different protein sources. Awww... Now I wish I had of made a side salad!

The Alternative Protein Bar (ALT) from @Larabar

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Larabar just recently launched a new bar made with Pea Protein, each bar contains 10 grams of protein. They are Gluten Free, Vegan, Kosher, Dairy Free and all of the ingredients are Non-GMO. The Alternative Protein Bar (ALT) is currently only available to customers in the United States, I can't wait until this product makes it's way to Canada.

The four new bars arrived in the little drawstring bag shown above. Out of the four varieties of Larabar I received, peanuts are the primary nut source; with the exception of the Lemon Pound Cake ALT Bar which  contains almonds. All of the ingredients are simple and of good quality, for example, the Pumpkin Pie ALT Bar is made with:

Dates, Pea Protein, Peanuts, Brown Rice Syrup, Brown Rice Flour, Dried Pumpkin, Sunflower Oil, Spice

The Cinnamon Apple Crisp ALT Bar from Larabar contains 210 calories, 230 mg of Potassium and this bar is low in Sodium at only 20 mg per serving. The Cinnamon Apple Crisp ALT Bar contains 1/4 cup of Fruit, Total Carbohydrates per serving is 30g and total Dietary Fiber is 3g.

I love how Larabar appropriately names all of their flavors, they are so true to my expectations of how each of these things should taste. The Lemon Pound Cake ALT Bar tastes like Lemon Pound Cake, the Peanut Butter Cookie ALT Bar tastes like a Peanut Butter Cookie; and so on. Another thing I love about Larabar is their commitment to sustainability. Each wrapper is made with 31% plant-based material. Larabar has partnered with Terracycle. What exactly does this mean? If you send your wrappers back to the company, they will be recycled or upcycled into various products. 

The bars are made with dates as the dominate ingredient, if you aren't a date lover you may not like the product but I encourage you to give them a try because the consistency and flavor is really quite something. I would recommend the Pumpkin Pie ALT Bar or Peanut Butter Cookie ALT Bar, it has a very nutty consistency with all of the peanuts and the peanut butter flavor masks the taste of the dates quite a bit. I personally enjoy dates and have fond memories of eating date cookies in my grandmother's kitchen as a child.

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Disclaimer: I received samples of this product for the purpose of my review. The opinions written here are my own and are based upon my personal product, your experience may vary. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gardening: Spring/Green Onions

Green onions are a cool weather crop and are normally planted in late fall or early spring as soon as you can work the soil, that is usually in April or early May around here. The seed spacing varies depending on whether you are looking to grow winter onions or spring/green onions. In this bed, I wanted to grow green onions so I only had to space them about an inch apart. 

I planted these onion bulbs on May 2nd about 3 weeks ago, as you can see from the second photo they have progressed quite a bit in that short time period. I'm excited to sample this future freshness, the taste of homegrown food is unbeatable and these green onions are certain to be a welcome addition to many a meal to come.

Friday, April 5, 2013

#Review - Blue Water Seafood

I recently received a coupon from Blue Water Seafood to try out one of their Gluten Free products. Unfortunately, there was a limited selection at my local grocery store and none of the Grill Fish was available to purchase. The grill fish is the gluten free product. So instead I selected the Simply Bake variety in garlic and herb. I moderate my gluten as a lifestyle choice because I feel better and tend to eat healthy overall when I eat small amounts of various types of foods. While this product is unfortunately not gluten free, I like Blue Water Seafood because they are committed to sustainable business practices. It is important to the company that minimal harm is made to the environments from where the seafood is sourced. Preservation is important and they claim to be proactive with their practices.

The box comes with two servings of fish each packaged in a single serving bake perfect bag designed to lock in the flavour. You preheat your oven to 350°F and leave it on the middle rack for about 30 minutes. The bag very clearly indicates against microwaving or piercing the bag. It wasn't long before the smell of garlic and herbs filled the house. The sauce blended beautifully with the Greek salad, I opted out of salad dressing altogether. I mixed up my salad with the fish sauce and it was very flavourful. The fish was delicious tasted fresh. Mat and I were both a little disappointed with the portion size, we agreed that they should either include more portions or larger portion sizes at the very least. 

My cat really enjoyed what he smelled as well. I had to make sure I was very careful rinsing out the bake perfect bag because my cat kept trying to retrieve it from the garbage bag. It should be said that this cat is the stray that recently adopted us and he has a strong liking for table scraps. In fact, we often call him "Table Scraps Cat" although his name is "Sal Tumor: Adventurer at Large."

Disclaimer: I received a free product coupon from Blue Water Seafood to try out one of their products. The opinions on this blog are my own, your experience may differ.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cryss's Beanstalk

I've been raising plants indoors again, not as many as that one winter I nearly drove Mat crazy because I had the dining room almost completely full of planting pots. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if the cat hadn't been acting out and using the planting pots as a litter box. I didn't grow any plants inside last year because of it. 'Phoenix the Warrior Nun' has settled down a little bit over the last couple years though, so as the weather from cold to hot and back again, I've decided to play with plant life.

I planted the veggies a couple weeks apart from one another for a slightly staggered growth, this will prolong the harvest season. I also still plan on starting many plants outdoors, when the ground is warm enough.

The bean plants growing on my kitchen window sill are a couple weeks behind the one pictured above. If you look outside my kitchen window you will see two pallets, those pallets will be lush with life in a couple months. I can hardly wait! I will be putting a 50/50 ratio of potting soil and native soil in the pallet beds. You know, as a grown woman, I still possess a very vivid imagination. I picture that I'm the giant at the end of the beanstalk. Except, I would gladly share my golden eggs with you Jack (or Jill). The hen stay here though... after all, she likes it here.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Back in the Garden

It is time to return to the garden, I have been waiting for this all winter long. We've had a few warm spells that have allowed me to go out a get some digging done while the ground was soft. I have already added some potash to the soil, I still need to add fertilizer. Once I have added the fertilizer I will shape my rows.

I plan on building a fence this year, I need to do it. I promised myself that I would. Mat said he would help me. Last year, the animals gave me a hard time. The larger garden out back was a food storage closet to much of the areas wildlife, it would seem. The small pallet beds that I have directly behind the house did well;  because no animal in their right mind aside from my cats (who we lovingly refer to as Phoenix the Warrior Nun and the Mangy Ol' Stray) dare to creep around this lively homestead. The deer and the birds only come so close and then we somehow manage to startle them.

Monday, January 21, 2013

#Review - Simply Protein Chips

A long time ago, I reviewed a variety pack of the The Simply Bars. I really enjoyed the different varieties and  I was very impressed with the company's swift service. Recently, I received two different varieties of Simply Protein Chips to sample and review. The chips are made with Pea Protein isolate, potatoes and potato starch. It is shaped similarly to pork rinds and is very hearty. This product is Gluten, Dairy and Soy free and these chips are Kosher, a good source of iron and the product is approved by the vegetarian society.

I sampled the Savoury Herb and Garlic variety. I can honestly say that savoury is the perfect descriptor word for this flavour. All of these herbs and spices would cook a delicious turkey, or bed of rice; whatever your preference may be. The delicious herb chips are flavoured with Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Parsley, Dill Weed, Black Pepper, Lemon Oil and Turmeric. I recommend some mints or other breath freshening aide after ingesting this tempting snack. Another important thing to note is these chips contain 20% of the recommended daily intake of iron and 8% of the daily recommended intake of calcium.

Spicy Chili Kick was the second flavor I sampled. Immediately you taste the garlic but soon after the Chili kicks in and your tongue and mouth heat up ever so slightly. Seasoned with Garlic Powder, Onion Powder and Red Pepper. These crunchy chips are simplistic and lovely and I love that they do not contain any preservatives.

One bag of Simply Protein Chips left me feeling satisfied for hours. The flavours are so enjoyable, I am very excited to see what The Simply Bar comes up with next.

Disclaimer: I received a couple bags of chips to sample from The Simply Bar. All opinions are honest, my own and derive from my personal experience with the product. Your opinion and experience may differ.