6.30.2015

Quick weekend beach trip


Hannah and I spent the weekend in Seal Harbour, a tiny community in Guysborough County. We were visiting my dad and his wife, who are in the midst of planning some major renovations to their future retirement home.


It's about a three-hour drive from Halifax, but we arrived just in time for some marshmallow roasting. The house is close to Tor Bay Provincial Park, one of Nova Scotia's best-kept secrets, in my opinion. We had the beach completely to ourselves. The water was way too cold for swimming, but Hannah successfully charmed 'Papa' into wading in with her. I'm looking forward to many more beach days with her this summer.


There's also a great park down the street from my dad's house. Hannah loved it so much we had to go twice!


We took the scenic drive back to the city, which I'd definitely recommend if you've got the time.

Happy Canada Day everyone! I'm hoping to clear some more of the yard next to our garage. I started last night and discovered a huge patch of mint that we forgot we planted a few years ago (we thought we'd use the spot as a garden until we realized how shady it was). A happy discovery!

6.29.2015

Joining a CSA: Week 8 & 9


After much talk, we finally made the decision to join a CSA (I know, we're a little late to the bandwagon - oops!). Each week, I'm posting about what we got and what we made with it. Read more here.

WEEK 8

We got:
  • Nettles
  • Fiddleheads
  • Parsnip
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Tomato
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Rhubarb

We made:
  • Nettle pesto with pan-fried salmon and roasted tomatoes
  • Sauteed fiddleheads with lemon and garlic
  • Rhubarb and apple pie with mint
  • Thai-style grilled tofu (marinade recipe here) with  chive (leftover from Week 7) mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus


Stray observations:
  • I have to admit that I didn't know what to make of the nettle, especially after receiving an email warning shareholders to wear gloves when handling it. BUT. This pesto was so easy to make and it was delicious! Even better, nettles are high in iron, which is fantastic news when you don't eat meat.
  • This week, Adam blanched our fiddleheads before sauteing them with a little lemon and garlic. A really simple way to enjoy them, but it may be my favourite yet.
  • We're getting enough food in our shares now that we don't use all of it each week. We had chives leftover from last week, for example, and we didn't use all of our potatoes this week. We can't seem to use all of the rhubarb we've been getting either, so I've been chopping and freezing it for later.


WEEK 9

I spent WEEK 9 in France, so I can't tell you what Adam made while I was away. I can tell you that we got:

  • Apples
  • Rhubarb
  • Tomatoes
  • Dried cranberries
  • Chives with flowers
  • Carrots
  • Greens
  • Turnip
  • Asparagus
  • Fiddleheads

6.26.2015

The most embarrassing spot in our yard (yes, it's really that bad)

In my last post, I teased that we were thinking about moving. We even had a realtor walk through our house.

Our house is pretty tiny (~1000 sq. ft. when you exclude the basement), and we're at a place where we'd like a little more room (especially another bathroom!). On the other hand, our mortgage is very affordable and we don't really need the extra space right now. So, after some back and forth, we've decided to stay put and enjoy the lifestyle that comes with a small house (ahem, mortgage) for a little longer, knowing that we'll be able to pull that much more equity out of our house when we do move.

Of course, because our house is so small, we've pretty much reached the limit of what we can do to improve its resale value. Having a realtor walk through the house helped us identify what we could do to make our home more attractive to potential buyers, including some things we don't want to spend the money on (new windows), and some lower-cost, sweat equity projects (finishing our garage, additional landscaping).

We have a huge yard for our area. Like, more yard than we know what to do with.

shots from Hannah's 1st birthday in 2013

We've spent the past two summers creating a small, private eating and lounging area behind our house, but there's another good-sized yard on the south side of our house that we've neglected since we moved in.


A few weeks ago, we got started by pulling out all the Japanese Knotweed next to our driveway. This invasive plant is all over our area, and it's incredibly difficult to kill. After covering it with a barrier (we used landscaping fabric and layers of mulch in our front garden bed below), you have to continuously break off the new shoots that poke through to kill the plant by depriving it of sunlight. We're about four years into this process in our front garden bed, and while the amount of weeding we have to do each year has dropped off considerably, we're still doing it!


In the area next to our driveway, we put down a layer of cardboard and covered that with a layer of dirt. I didn't order enough dirt, so we'll need to add another layer soon.


Some day, this could be a great area for a garden, given its size and the amount of sunlight it receives, but we have to kill the knotweed first :(

In the fenced-off area next to our garage (that fence is terrible, but it's staying for now), we have an old fire pit. Sure, it's filled with junk, but we have hope! One of our neighbours has some masonry experience, and has kindly offered to help us rebuild it.

The plan is to clear this area, then cover the ground with landscaping fabric and a thick layer of pea gravel. We'd also like to cut an opening in the fence to connect it to the backyard. Oh, and I need to train that honeysuckle to grow up and over the fence.


Perhaps somewhat prematurely, I purchased four IKEA PS VAGO chairs in anticipation of our future fire pit area. I have visions of their mere presence motivating us to do the work.


These are just a few of the spaces that are inspiring me right now, and I like the idea below for the path that connects our two spaces.


OK, it's officially on the Internet. Now I have to follow through!

6.22.2015

Choosing a rug for the living room


I meant to post this a little while ago, but I guess I forgot. My floors were still wet when I took these photos, but you can imagine how long things stay clean around here with two pets and a toddler; I had to act fast :)


Anyway, this gives you a good sense of what our living room is looking like these days (complete with play kitchen). The final-ish step in this makeover is to add a rug (a big ol' plant, too). The blue of the roman shades feels a bit out of place right now, although there's plenty of it in the room. I think a rug will help tie it all together. I mean, doesn't it feel like the room is missing one? I'm looking for something with blues, purples...maybe even a little pink? Oh, and it has to be cushy underfoot.


We're about to have the ceilings on the main floor replaced (long story/ice damming/thank goodness for insurance), so I have some time to shop around. The pictures below summarize what I've been considering: a kilim rug, something neutral, or a Persian. I'm leaning towards the Persian because colour + cushion, but that's obviously a bigger investment than my other options.

images (left to right): here, here, here

I realize I haven't posted much about our house lately, but I have some fun plans in the works. We were toying with the idea of moving, but we've decided to stay put a little longer. That means more projects, so stay tuned!

6.19.2015

Joining a CSA: Week 7


After much talk, we finally made the decision to join a CSA (I know, we're a little late to the bandwagon - oops!). Each week, I'm posting about what we got and what we made with it. Read more here.

WEEK SEVEN

We got:
  • Dandelion greens
  • Fiddleheads
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Chives
  • Tomatoes
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Sunchokes
  • Apples
  • Apple cider
  • Apple chips

We made:

Stray observations:
  • I don't think I'd ever eaten dandelion greens before, but this recipe is a great way to try them (especially if you like chickpeas).
  • I have such terrible memories of fiddleheads as a kid - I hated them! I'm still not a huge fan of their texture (I'll take asparagus over fiddleheads any day), but their flavour is a perfect complement to mushrooms.
  • I hope we get more sunchokes in future shares. They're such a treat and we didn't have enough to satisfy both our appetites! 

6.17.2015

Presqu'île de Giens, France


Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of presenting at a conference just outside of Hyères in the Côte d'Azur. The conference agenda was jam-packed (a typical day started after breakfast at 9 am and ran until dinner at 8 pm), and it felt surreal to be running from session to session while in Paradise. Still, if you have to work, it doesn't get any better than this :)

We had one free afternoon and I made sure to spend it lying on the beach and swimming in the Mediterranean. Heaven!








Psst! If you want to see more, I posted some photos from my weekend in Nice here.

6.16.2015

Joining a CSA: Week 6


After much talk, we finally made the decision to join a CSA (I know, we're a little late to the bandwagon - oops!). Each week, I'm posting about what we got and what we made with it. Read more here.

WEEK SIX

We got:
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Dried parsley
  • Frozen tomatoes
  • Tomato
  • Apples
  • Dried Blueberries

We made:
  • White pizza with spinach (similar recipe here)
  • Dried blueberry muffins
  • Primavera pasta
  • Ichiban salad (I used crispy chow mein noodles in place of ramen noodles and added a little all-vegetable chicken bouillon to my sauce instead of ramen seasoning)
  • Apple tart (Adam used this recipe, but substituted custard for the glaze)


Stray observations:
  • Frozen tomatoes make great pizza sauce. Adam made one pizza with red sauce and one white pizza (as you can see, H helped and took her pizza topping duties very seriously).
  • I found the dried blueberries didn't have much flavour on their own (H liked them), but they were great in this muffin recipe. You could probably substitute your favourite dried fruit (cranberries? chopped apricot?) if blueberries aren't your thing; I just loved having something easy to grab each morning on my way out the door.
  • We have yet to use the dried parsley, since Adam got into the habit of freezing most of our herbs (seriously, we have a freezer full). Luckily, there's no rush.
  • We've been having trouble eating all the apples we've been getting (though we eat them every day!), so Adam made some delicious apple tarts. He added whipped cream to serve and it was delicious!

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