Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's a Wrap

It’s been a busy year in Maison B-23.

Mr. B and I began the year in Nova Scotia, relaxing and recharging. We love the winter there. I was lucky to have been able to collect the quince from the bush beside our house (we got there during the first freeze) so I made quince paste for the first time ( hopefully again some day! It was lovely!)

I also made my first rosehip jelly -- so we started the year off in preserving wonderland :)
The spring got hectic because I was told that I was changing grades and, therefore classrooms. Grumble grumble. Pack pack pack, move move move, tears, tears tears.

Baby G turned 1 in the summer. I am so lucky to have Miss L and Baby G -- even though they live in Kingston ( a fabulous city - I love visiting the city as well as the family). My mom and dad couldn't attend the birthday festivities because my dad is now on oxygen for some lung issues, and the traveling is difficult. The little fam visited London a few weeks later. 
Baby G enjoyed his first sugar overload (cake) (well, actually, icing).

But Nova Scotia made everything better. It was different without our pup, Andy (I definitely didn't  walk as much :) . I preserved a lot though! We began the season with strawberry jam, and then moved onto blueberry, raspberry, pin cherry ( only a few jars, there wasn't much fruit this year), saskatoon berry, blackberry, chokecherry -- and I did some curried pickles too. I sewed a lot of new dresses and tunics. I visited with all of my NS friends - the Tooners (their word, not mine!), and my friends in Shelburne, and my friends from away ( Becky and Chuck! xo!). And new friends too! (Hi Jan!) And Miss L and Baby G visited for almost 2 weeks! We have another favourite beach -- Port Joli -- the water is WARM!

I returned to Toronto with some trepidation. Back to Kindergarten. Sharing the room with daycare and lunchroom. A new teaching partner.... yikes. But Kindergarten is wonderful. Sharing the room is difficult, but manageable. And my teaching partner was more than I could ever have wished for! Thank you FT for being such an awesome teaching partner. I will miss you SO MUCH.

In October we added a new member to our family! We adopted a little terrier pup from the Humane Society. Tilly is a handful! But all puppies are, right?

Not much time for creating this year, but I managed to spend sometime with my friend D -- she taught me english paper piecing. And we made some wreaths from recycled sweaters. My friend M-C and I also managed to get a bit of creating in (melted pony bead ornaments)-- and more to come next year!

Our family Christmas theme this year was Mexican. We had chili and tamales and empanadas  for our Christmas Eve feast :) The colours were bright. My mom really worked her magic with the decor!

We didn't make our annual winter journey to Nova Scotia this year, so we wont be ringing in the new year with our east coast friends (Tilly is too young to leave with friends or in a kennel...).  But we will be with our Toronto friends. So, still surrounded by warmth, good food and good company.
 That's the way we should begin and end every year, don't you agree?

Friday, July 28, 2017


Yesterday, my new friend J and I went to Keji National Park for a cycle around the trails. I have never been to the main Kejimkujik Park -- but have been to the Seaside Adjunct many times (lately made famous by a recent visit by PM Justin Trudeau and his entourage :)

I met J while we were "working" at the community breakfast at West Queens Community Hall last Saturday. We were both Newbies - and they had us taking orders and serving! Very sharp learning curve there -- but I think we did a pretty good job? (the next Breakfast is August 26-- consider going! - for $8 you get eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, hash browns, toast, juice and coffee or tea)(also the bake sale down the road at the hostel is that same weekend!)
So. J picked me up at 10 am and we threw my bike into the back of her truck and we were off. It's about an hour and a half? to Keji (I dont know how long it took -- we were chatting too much!). This year is free admission to Keji ( National Parks are free because of Canada's 150 birthday)( more info here)
After checking in at the Visitors Centre, we drove to the parking lot and started down the Mersey River Trail. We also rode the Slapfoot Trail and the trail from Jake's Landing to Merrymakedge Beach.

J getting some shots of the beautiful greens of the grasses, trees and other plants:

The water at Keji is tarry black from the tannic acids from peat leaching into the water. And Keji is also known for its dark sky at night (great for oberving the galaxy). Dark water, dark sky - dark beer -Boxing Rock's Dark as Keji!

Some very interesting fungi....

It was a fabulous outing -- Thank you so much, J, for inviting me on your adventure!

I plan to return to Keji again this summer with Mr. B. I'd like to walk along the trails. Biking the trails was really fun (and sometimes scary down some big hills), but if you really want to SEE nature, I think walking is better. We had to stop and get off of our bikes a lot! But, having said that, I'd like to cycle those trails again :) ( just dont go on a weekend - the trail is narrow, so when you pass someone coming toward you, you have to get off your bike - yesterday wasn't busy, but on a busy day, that would be less enjoyable).

This is one if those times that I wished that I lived here year-round so I could see the park throughout the seasons.
You can read more about Keji here on the official website:
or here on Wikipedia:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ahhhhhh, summer! And Books!

The school year wrapped up too quickly and involved a room change (and a grade change! I'm teaching Kindergarten next year!). That left me exhausted and ill-prepared for our yearly pilgrimage east. I have finally recovered from my high-energy students, and from the move ( moving classrooms is like moving houses - I had about a hundred cartons)(mostly books)
But now I am in beautiful Port Mouton!
Mr B and I have had numerous road trips so far this summer. One of our favourite destinations is LaHave. The LaHave bakery has a fabulous selection of baked goods -- and some wonderful breakfasts (the wraps are delicious)( better this year than last? Perhaps it was the sundried tomato aioli? - see the article about the South Shore in the most recent issue of Saltscapes for the recipe :) .
At the back of the bakery is a great craft co op ( definitely look here for souvenirs) But even better is the new book store!!! LaHave River Books opened last summer. It has something for everyone. Current fiction, interesting non fiction, childrens books, local authors..... it has a used book section, and a free (used) book section.

I LOVE bookstores. I decided right then, that I need to be buying books every time I go into independent bookstores. (Instead of buying them online) I went a bit overboard here :)

I bought a board book for Baby G (Atlantic Animal ABC), and the Row Bot book is so much fun! We will have fun with that one in Kindergarten. I had looked at Morgan's Boat Ride before, and i had regretted not purchasing it! Town is By the Sea is illustrated by the same person who illustrated Sidewalk Flowers (which is a wordless book, set in Toronto). Hand Drawn Halifax is really fun. Both Mr. B and I have been trhough it a few times already. Road Signs that Say West is a Young Adult book by local author Sylvia Gunnery, who also works at the LaHave River Bookstore! After I read it, I will lend it to some Grade 8's at school :) oh! Not shown in the above photo is 50 Ways to Save the Honeybees - a personal crusade of mine... I also picked up a free (used) cooy of Petersons A Field Guide to Wildflowers. I definitley needed that.

A trip to LaHave always includes a visit to Westcote Bell Pottery ( just a few buildings away from the Bakery). And I never seem to get out of there empty handed. We have purchased both Vaughan and Jackie's work over the years!

Sometimes we take a trip across the cable ferry (if we are going to Lunenburg). But today we are going to Mahone Bay (and Bridgewater).
I can't wait to get back to LaHave!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine Swap

Vivian hosted a one on one Valentine Goody Swap this year.
I am so very lucky to be Viv's partner!
I am crossing my fingers that she gets her box before Valentine's Day.
I had such a hard time deciding what to include. Because if you know Vivian - you will know that she has everything! And what she doesn't have, she can make. I've never met such well rounded, talented artist.
I forgot to take photos of what I sent before I had wrapped everything. But here it is, in the box.

I made her some mittens out of recycled and felted sweaters. The pink sweater is cashmere :). There are lots of other goodies in there including heart shaped gingerbread cookies, and some vintage sewing notions.

And YAY! Both of our parcels made it to their destinations before Valentines Day!
this is what came from Viv:

such fun goodies! Thank you Vivian!

super cute lovey dovey swans :)

and a vertical garland - it looks awesome on my classroom door - but I could not get a decent photo :(

Valentines - Love is All Around

This year, to help jump-start my creativity, I joined a few valentine swaps.

First up is Aunt Peaches Valentine Swap. I think that I have joined this one 3 times. I've received lovely valentines from around the world. We send 3 out, we get 3 back. Easy peasy. ( well, it should be, I don't usually get three back :(

I was a bit inspired by the song Love is All Around (the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show).
so I included the lyrics on the back.

It's funny -- all these years I have been singing it to myself as "you can have it now" not "you can have the town" . When I researched the lyrics I found many different versions ( "you can have it all") . And apparently the lyrics DID change after the first season. I never found an official copy of the lyrics, so I chose this one.

Hmm, funny -- now that I look at these onscreen, I wish that I had stitched the hearts. They look a bit detached and floating. Oh well! (they were made from a very thick piece of felted / fulled sweater, so I decided not to stitch because I thought it would destroy the paper. I should have stitched first, then glued them on...)

so, 3 strangers will receive one each, and the rest went off to friends.


This month'sFood in Jars Challenge is Salt Preserving. I wasn't interested in most of the salt preserving ( salt preserved lemons seem to be a favourite of most people - but in the north, I don't have a bumper crop of lemons that needs "putting up")( although this salt preserved grapefruit with black pepper and loves sounds pretty wonderful! - and really, it only takes one grapefruit - maybe I will try it today....)
Marisa suggested making sauerkraut -- which is made of only cabbage and salt ( and other veggies/ spices as desired). I used Marisa's recipe from her blog -- find it here.
So I broke out my new mandoline ( Mr. B calls it my banjo) and shredded up some cabbage and some carrot. I added the salt, and it bubbled away on the shelf for a few days. Now, a week later, it has stopped bubbling, but continues to ferment. My kitchen is a bit cool, so it might take another week. Sauerkraut can take a week, or 6 weeks! You just have to keep tasting it to see if you like it :). When I tasted mine, it seemed salty and hot, like horseradish! I'll test it again in a few days.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars is hosting a year long Food in Jars Mastery Challenge on herwebsite and on Facebook.
The January challenge is Marmalade.
Marmalade is not my favourite preserve, but I was willing to give it a try because Mr. B loves Marmalade (and so does my mom - more on that later).
First up, I tried Cranberry Lime Marmalade. It was beautiful and jewel-like. Lime rinds just look terrible when you boil them though! (greenish, greyish, brown). So glad that they were hidden in the cranberries. Mr. B liked the tartness, but agreed with me -- it needed more lime. I'm going to try again this week with double the limeyness. I haven't seen my mom yet for the taste test.

Next up I tried Emma Galloway of My Darling Lemon Thyme's Three Citrus Ginger Marmalade. Apparently she doesn't like bitter marmalade, so it was less bitter. It is made with Ruby Red Grapefruit, oranges and lemons. Mr. B declared it his favourite marmalade! And apparently it will get better as it ages :) But sadly I realized that my mom shouldn't be eating this one because she isn't supposed to eat grapefruit. Doh! I'm going to have to make another batch of orange marmalade. Here is the Three Citrus version in progress:

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Happy 2017!

A new year....
And we started the year off right -- at the beach (wishing it was warmer!)

2016 (and earlier) was all about blog troubles. Blogging has become increasingly more difficult for me. I want to blog from my iPad or phone, but Blogger no longer has an app, and wants you to blog from your browser (a grand technological leap back, in my opinion) , and the other apps I used (blogpress, BlogGo) don't work anymore. Seriously, blogging died because it was murdered.

I have so many problems with photo rotation! It used to be so easy, if a photo loaded and was rotated, then just click it and rotate. That feature is no longer on desktop blogger. AND all of the past photos that's I did rotate, have, years later, reverted back to sideways or upside down. So disappointing and frustrating. Yet, here I am, in an attempt to revive this thing! ( I am posting with the app Blogo - which appears to be great so far. Unfortunately, you get one blog for free, then you have to pay a yearly fee to add more - I'm starting with the one for free, then will re-evaluate)

2016 was bittersweet with my friendships. I was so busy with school, and I didn't see Meep as often as I wanted to, and my dear friend D retired. After 10 years of her being my teacher partne-in-crime, she retired. But I still saw her often (weekly!) as she lived near school. Then she moved :( I still see her, but not as often -- but she has a fabulous house :) . And then MC, my other teacher-partner-in-crime, my lost sister, left my school for greener pastures. I miss her terribly.

2016 also brought much joy! Baby G! Adorableness. And the Lovely Miss L is such a wonderful mommy :)

My "one word" for 2017 is NURTURE. I am going to nurture myself first. Reconnect with my friends who I miss so much. Spend more time with family (that's you Mr. B). And, of course, nurture the kiddos at school.

I'm also hoping to make something every week! Nurture my soul! This week I have made quince paste from the frozen quince that I found on the ground underneath the quince in Nova Scotia, and I made rosehip jelly. I sewed a tea cozy, and knit a scarf. I sewed a hat from felted sweaters. Of course, being on holiday really helps :) but, even before the holidays I sewed a lot for Baby G!