Lilacs and clematis 

  

The stars of our garden these past two weeks. Sadly, they are starting to fade, but aren’t they gorgeous? The first year with a new garden is so fun – watching what grows, planning for the future, deciding what to change and, like these beauties, what should stay exactly the same.  

   

May 11, 2015 at 11:15 am Leave a comment

Spring garden

 It has been such a gorgeous spring so far. Already we’ve had a handful of days that feel like summer – warm, bright, full of early morning chirping birds. 

I’ve been sneaking out to the garden for half an hour (even an hour once!) when there is a baby minder near. So far I’ve planted a row of peas behind the raspberry canes my mom planted earlier this spring and I’ve planted a few pots with herbs and seeds for salad greens. And tomato and basil seedlings have sprouted inside. There are about a million more things I’d like to do, but baby calls loudly and often! I’m really looking forward to him being a little bit bigger and the weather a little bit warmer so we can spend more time together outside. And yes, I know, savour these moments…he’ll be grown up soon enough!

Here are a few photos of what’s already growing. Here’s hoping I have some pictures to post soon after all my work with the seeds.   

      

       

April 20, 2015 at 12:11 pm Leave a comment

Oatmeal raisin cookies (the best!)

I suspect there are two camps of people when it comes to favourite cookies: chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. For me, it’s the latter, without question. Chewy, cinnamon-y, sweet. So yummy. Plus with all the health benefits of whole grains, raisins, walnuts they are far superior to chocolate chip. This is especially important when you need to justify eating just one more cookie….

Sliced oranges and a hot mug of rooibos tea are a perfect match for these cookies, especially on wet, blustery days like the one we had yesterday. Sunny days like today, well, those are perfect for walking off all the cookies you ate while it rained!

Oatmeal raisin cookies
Makes about 36 cookies

2 cups spelt flour (or a mix of 1.5 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon of each: baking powder, baking soda and sea salt
2 teaspoons of each: cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
1 cup unsalted butter (or margarine for vegan/dairy-free)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups raisins
3/4 cup coconut
3/4 cup walnuts

Combine flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. In another bowl, mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture and then add oats, raisins, coconut and walnuts. Spoon onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon mats and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown. It is better to underbake rather than overbake when it comes to cookies!

April 14, 2015 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

Daily walk (part 1): The gardens at Government House

The gardens at Government House have long been a favourite place of mine.  Since we moved back to Victoria, and especially since our little one arrived, I’ve been enjoying the gardens at least a few times a week. 

The gardens at Government House are particularly gorgeous in the spring. It’s been such a treat to watch the season unfurl during my daily walk. 

Everyone warns you about the challenges of a new baby, and sometimes I think we have an extra tough case. Walking has saved me these past few months. Even in my most frazzled, sleep-deprived state, I can breathe fresh spring air, stand among the drifting flowers and say, I am one with the cherry blossom trees. 

And mean it. :)





April 9, 2015 at 7:22 pm Leave a comment

Garden bouquet #1

  

Here’s a sample of what’s growing in my garden right now: a handful of blush pink tulips, big clumps of bergamot and bluebells, bleeding hearts in the shady spots, narcissus and what I’ve been told is a flowering orange. 

More research is required to know exactly what everything is in our new garden, but suffice to say I’m in heaven with all these gorgeous flowers in bloom!

April 6, 2015 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

Triple lentil chili

Operation fill-the-freezer continues! This chili is lighter tasting than most, which feels just right now that we are into spring. I used a combination of red, green and French lentils, but any one of them would work fine. Double the recipe for freezing.

Also, since the strength of spices varies, I recommend adding half of what’s below and then going up from there.

Triple lentil chili
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
1-2 carrots, grated
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup French lentils
2 large cans diced tomatoes
1 each red and green pepper, diced

Choose a big pot! Sauté onion, carrot and celery in oil until onion is translucent and softened. Add spices, lentils and tomatoes and cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring often, until lentils are soft. Stir in peppers and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Garnish with avocado and cilantro. Great paired with a couple of slices of multigrain toast.

March 31, 2015 at 8:32 am Leave a comment

The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys



Here is the book I’m reading right now – The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys. I loved her previous books, so picking up her latest novel was a no-brainer the last time I was at the Mulberry Bush Bookstore in Parksville.

I’m only about halfway through, but already I feel right at home. Humphreys is a writer who takes things slow. Her writing is meditative and full of quiet beauty. Reading her work is like reading a collection of poems – you read a few pages and savour. Great novels are often page-turners, but this is a different kind of book. Like fine wine: sip, don’t gulp!

The Evening Chorus is a war-time story about a character named James who lives in a German POW camp. He describes two different types of people in the camp: those who try to escape (and always seem to be captured) and those who find an activity that helps them cope. James falls into the latter group and is known as the Birdman among his like-minded peers (the Artist, the Reader, etc) for his study of a pair of nesting redstarts.

It’s a beautiful idea for a book: looking at why and how we can find meaning even in difficult times by taking solace in whatever means might be on hand, whether it’s books, scraps of paper or a quiet pair of birds. 

March 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm Leave a comment

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