a home for all seasons

This is a great little book I picked up this week for $4. (When I say 'little', I mean physically little. It's very cute.) It is full of beautiful pictures and inspiration. I've been gazing longingly at the light, bright, summery images. Although I do enjoy winter, too.

It's snowing today; beautiful, fat, wet flakes. I'm hoping to take a few more pictures later on.

Tomorrow, I'll share the next Recipe-a-week, from Barefoot in Paris! It's a dessert, so save some room!


pretty paperwhites

Look what's open! Phillip loves them ("paper-WHITES! Ooooooh") as do we. Except for the stink - but it's worth suffering through for the lovely pictures, don't you think?

I'm heading away tomorrow for work, so I'll be back on the weekend with a new recipe. Enjoy the last few days of January!


recipe-a-week #4: broccoli soup

This week's recipe is for Creamy Broccoli Soup, from Great Food Fast and it takes 30 minutes, start to finish. It's quite yummy, although I would make a few minor modifications to it next time.
Here is is:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
1/8 tsp nutmeg
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, florets separated, stems peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
salt and pepper

1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion, cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.

2. Stir in the broth, 1 1/2 cups water (I would use 1 next time), the oats, and broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until the broccoli is tender, 5-10 minutes.

3. Puree the soup in batches, and blend with a stick blender, or a regular blender in batches. Return soup to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
What's that? Oats in soup? Yup. It thickens the soup without adding cream, and you don't see or taste the oats in the finished soup.
We served it with pitas brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh parmesan, and broiled for a couple of minutes. Yum!

Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a good start.

winter morning, and the comfort week winner!

Phillip and I made a short documentary of our play time outside this morning to share with you.

The winner of the three bars of my fabulous soap, for participating in Comfort Week, is right here in Nova Scotia! Yay, Andrea! I had a list of participants, and had Adam pick a random number without telling him why. He chose Andrea's number! E-mail me your address (and last name, too, to grahamsherrie at yahoo dot ca) and I'll send the soaps your way. Thanks again to everyone for playing along, and the gears are turning to come up with something for Spring. Which, thankfully, isn't far away!

Oh, and lastly - thanks so very much for all of your sweet well-wishes. I am feeling much, much better. I think this prescription is doing the trick!


comfort week, day 5: image

I came across this image on marthastewart.com after seeing Ingrid's comfort food post (the above soup) on Monday. The colours, the texture, the warmth of the food and the light all make me feel warm and cozy. I looked for other images, but this is the one I kept coming back to as best representing comfort to me.

Thanks so much to everyone for playing along this week! I've had a lot of fun, seeing the things that bring each of you comfort. Home and family are definitely recurring themes in everyone's posts, as they should be. Have a great weekend, and I'm definitely hoping to host some more weeks soon... I'm already thinking Spring!

For the rest of Comfort Week participants, take a peek here.


comfort week, day 4: habit

One of my favourite comfy places in our house is our bedroom. I love that everything in it is creams and whites - it's very calm. I had the chance to take a few photos this afternoon while the sun was out, and when I thought about it, I have a funny little habit which has to do with bedding. If I'm wearing a jacket which has corners with the right texture (at the bottom), or a blanket in bed (usually a quilt) with the right kind of corner, I kind of flip it back and forth between my fingertips. I don't miss it if I don't have the right kind of corner handy; I just don't even think about it when I do, and flip away. The corners on the curtain in the picture are kind of the right kind, only not thick enough. I know, it's a little bit strange. For the story of the 'headboard', see here. How do you like my new duvet cover? Guess where it's from (washed and freshly bleached with Ecover's oxygen bleach)?

See here for the list of everyone participating in Comfort Week. Tomorrow's the last day, and I still haven't decided on an image! I'll be doing the draw for the soap prize over the weekend.

a whole lot of great things at home

First, do you remember this red enamel pot I got through Freecycle? Well, I decided to order some vinyl letter stickers from this Etsy shop, and they arrived yesterday! They're anything but perfectly positioned, but they do remind me that there could possibly be a snack hiding inside.
And this arrived ages ago, and I keep forgetting to post it! It's my very own blog book, which I ordered through Blog2Print. I am very happy with it, and if you're looking for a physical record of your blog, I highly recommend it. The only things which are kind of funny are that the comments are compiled at the end of the book, rather than with the posts (you may be able to change that somewhere during the process of creating your book), and any text that contains a link is in the same colour as the rest of your text, which can make for some funny sounding sentences. The process was quick, easy, and the book looks great. I have enough material for about 10 more books (this one only covers the 6 months before P was born) so I should order my next one soon. One more thing - they offer free shipping in the US (I had mine sent to my sister, who sent it to me).

Despite all of the reflections in the glass, I think you can see this gorgeous print that Adam ordered for our living room. I bought a hideous piece of 'art' at a yard sale, in this square frame, for $2 last summer. Since square frames are hard to come by, and this one is perfect for over the couch (although I hung it a bit too high) I think that's a pretty great deal.
Speaking of great deals, I found this adorable wooden bus with cute little riders at Frenchy's. Phillip's latest favourite song is 'The Wheels on the Bus', so I knew that he would love this. And he does.
And here are the blinds! The pictures aren't the greatest, but I'm quite happy with them. I think I have enough leftover fabric to make a couple of cushion covers, so maybe I'll get to that on the weekend. The pattern is from Simple Soft Furnishings.

Ingrid brought a couple of her Barefoot Contessa cookbooks over at lunch time! I'm excited to devour them. Thanks, Ingrid! I'm at home today, trying to rest a bit and shake off this silly infection. Thanks for all of your kind thoughts - I'm sure I'll get over it sometime soon. :) There's some comfort coming up later on. Happy Thursday!



Blogger was down for a bit, and I lost some comments I was trying to leave on some Comfort Week posts. So if you didn't hear from me, I am LOVING the different directions your comforting places are going, and I can't wait for tomorrow!

I also wanted to let you know that Andrea has officially joined Comfort Week, and has been added to the Comfort Week participant list.

Lastly - the aforementioned infection is still here (tenacious bleep-bleeping bleep bleep), and I spent the day in a waiting room today, most decidedly in an UNcomfortable state. I did get a LOT of reading done, though, including Buy-ology (cover to cover) and the first thing on my birthday list - Barefoot in Paris. And two magazines, Mothering and Canadian Home and Country (I love the new look!) and a few more chapters in Naked by David Sedaris. I want to make all but one recipe in the Barefoot in Paris. Okay, maybe two. I think I was the only one reading a cookbook in the waiting room.

comfort week, day 3: place

Once again, today's picture was taken by Adam. He's one talented guy. Oh, and this photo was published in Photosho magazine. Nice, eh?

I grew up in a community right on the ocean, in a house overlooking the wharf where my dad fishes from. He is a lobster fisherman, and fishing is the largest employing industry in this area. His dad fished as well, so I like to think that the sea is in my blood, as airy-fairy and silly as that may sound. You can see more, including some snazzy pictures I took a couple of years ago, here. So being near the water is my special place - I feel settled knowing that the ocean is there.

To see everyone else's posts for Comfort Week, look here.


comfort week, day 2: home

My favourite place and thing to do at home. Thanks to Adam for taking the picture! Oh, and guess where the chair cover is from? And my scarf, and shirt, and pants...

To see everyone's contributions to Comfort Week, click here.

PS - I just finished the blinds, and I think I like them! I'll take some pics tomorrow.


participants updated

I made a few changes (as requested, and when I noticed I had made a mistake) in the participant list, so it should be up to snuff now.

recipe-a-week #3: root vegetable and split pea soup & comfort week day 1: food

I decided today that ill-fitting socks which slide around in one's shoes are not in accordance with the ideals of Comfort Week.

A chicken pot pie recipe I make is my favourite comfort food. You can see the original recipe here. But I've posted it before, so I'm going to share a new recipe with you which I tried this weekend, was definitely comfort food, and it doesn't have any butter in it. Comfort food without butter? What? I'm also counting this as my new recipe of the week. (Incidentally, I have only been using my print recipes and haven't consulted the internets once so far since that post.)

Like some of the other participants, comfort food to me is often in soup form. And this one is a doozy. I've never had a vegetable soup with the flavour of this one - utterly delicious. Lots of parsnips may have been the ticket, or maybe the split peas - whatever it was, it was yummy. Phillip loved it, too. The recipe is from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes and is called

Root Vegetable and Split Pea Soup

4 cups water
1 1/4 cups chopped celeriac (I didn't have this, so I tossed in 1 1/4 cups of regular celery)
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped parsley root or parsnips (I used parsnips, and probably more than 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup split peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

1. In saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add celeriac, onions, carrots, parsley roots, split peas and garlic. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, 1 hour.

2. Add broth and parsley. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes longer. Stir in salt and pepper.

I think this might also be delicious pureed, but I left it chunky so that Phillip could eat it a bit more independently. Oh, and I also added some cooked chopped pork that I had on hand. It's soup - completely open to variations.

For a list of everyone participating in Comfort Week, have a peek here.


comfort week participants

This the post I would like for participants to link to in each Comfort Week post. I'm looking forward to having a look at everyone's blogs this evening - I'm excited that some of them are new to me. And I'm even more excited to see some new recipes tomorrow! The participants are:

Vickie, Annie, Amber, Jane, mothergoose, Alli, Ingrid, sunmamma, Barb, Austen, Teresa, Mitten Monster, Heidi, nahiacreations, myself, Andrea, Sarah and Sarah!

Let me know if you'd like to change your name or link, or if you see a mistake in the list above.

For more info on Comfort Week, have a peek here.

The bowl pictured was a Christmas gift from a sweet friend of mine, and was made in Quesnel, BC. Thanks so much, AC! It's beautiful.

bowling enlightement and home enlightement

We went bowling yesterday with Ingrid and her hubs. Phillip loved it.
Ingrid kept score.

It's a pretty retro place.

Since it's Comfort Week next week, and to me, comfort = home, here are some great new home-y books I've acquired recently, mostly from redeeming Air Miles for Chapters gift certificates. Nice.

I've heard Annie Bond a few times on Whole Living, a radio show on Martha's channel, and she knows a LOT about green cleaning. This book was mentioned, so I borrowed it from the library. It's not exactly what I was looking for, but it does have some cleaning recipes and useful information on enlightening your home. It's a little bit out there (to me, anyway) on some of the other home things, like using crystals to help people get along at a family dinner, and physically hugging trees. I think what I was hoping for might be in another of her books, Clean & Green. So I put a hold on that one.

Comfort Week starts tomorrow, and I've got an amazing recipe to share! It's not too late to join in the fun!


comfort week : 2 things I forgot

If biscuits aren't comfort food, I don't know what is. I am so excited about how many of you will be participating! I'll compile the list of participants tomorrow evening, and if anyone wants to join part-way through the week, that's totally fine. (I'm pretty flexible!)

Last night, I thought of a couple of things to mention about Comfort Week:

1) if you don't have a blog, but have a flickr account or other web-based place to share, and would like to participate that way, that would be great!

2) please link back to the as-yet-to-be posted list of participants on each of your posts, so everyone who might stumble upon a Comfort Week post will be able to link through to all of the other participants.

I hope you're having fun thinking up some things to share! I can't wait to see everyone's contributions.

To see more about Comfort Week, look here.


comfort week: January 19-23

Comfort: a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants, with freedom from pain and anxiety.

When I think of comfort, I think of all of the standards: curling up with a book and a cup of tea by a crackling fire, sliding into clean sheets right after a hot bath, buttery chicken pot pie, and toasty scarves and mittens.

I took it into my head today while driving that I want to host a 'comfort week' here in the blogosphere next week, January 19-23. I've never hosted any kind of a 'week' before, and haven't even read the particular's of anyone else's, but being an enterprising soul, I'm going to dive right in. I chose the 'comfort' theme because it's January, it's cold, and we might as well embrace it.

What's a 'week', you ask? Well, this is how I'm doing it: leave a comment on this post to indicate that you'll be participating, by doing postings on your blog next week which go along with the particular theme of the day (listed below). Posts do not have to include pictures, although I do love a pretty picture. I'll compile a list of participants, and do a post on Sunday night including everyone's names and links, so you can click through to see the contributions. It's a nice way to invite you all to participate in my blog - I'll have to work on teleporting next, so we can all get together for tea.

Here are the themes for each day:

Monday: food: your favourite comfort food (with recipes, if possible!)
Tuesday: home: the most comfortable (or comforting) thing in your home
Wednesday: place : the place most comfortable to you
Thursday: habit: a behaviour or routine that brings you comfort
Friday: image: a picture that represents total comfort to you; either an image of your own or a link to one you love

And that's it! I would love to see everyone's personalities in the things that mean comfort to you, so be creative! (Didn't it always drive you crazy when teachers said that?)

Invite all of your blogging friends to join in, especially because there will be a prize! At the end of the week, I'll draw a name of one of the participants who posted every day, and the winner will receive three bars of Birch Bark Soap.

So get your thinking caps on, and leave a comment if you'll be joining in.


a little red here, and little red there

Look what opened up yesterday! "Am-ryl-isss! Boo-ful!" (In Phillip speak, of course.)
And this is my current project. I'm making a set of the Swedish Roll-up Blinds from Simple Soft Furnishings. The fabric is a heavy, almost canvas-y cotton, in the form of tab-top curtain panels from Wicker Emporium. They were on sale, I loved the fabric, and we could definitely use some new blinds in the living room. Bonus: I have enough left over to make some cushions. I haven't decided if I'll be able to handle the matchy-matchy, but I'll give it a shot. I've got the main part all done; I just need to pick up a few supplies to finish them up.

Oh, and I'm excited for Tuesday! We're having someone coming to do an energy audit on our house. That should provide us with lots of information and direction for some of the improvements to make to the house (of which there's an ever-growing list!)

Oh, and the reason for two posts in one day (one of which was at 6:24 am)? Bladder infection has me home for the day, and had me in outpatients all night on Monday (10:30 pm - 5am), noticing things like the floor's resemblance to oatmeal and that the number dispenser looks like a cardinal in one's peripheral vision. The vending machines are circa 1982. That's generous. I'm starting to feel better, and hopefully tomorrow will be right as rain. Happy Thursday!

tasty "heirloom type" tomatoes

We used these tomatoes on kebabs this week. They roasted up beautifully. I'm still curious what exactly "heirloom-type" means. I know it means they're not heirloom, but what exactly are they? Regular commercial tomatoes in pretty colours, I guess. Ah well, they made for a nice picture.

A bigger, more stove-shaped box arrived yesterday with some soaping supplies in it, so I have plans already for version 2.0 of Phillip's stove for "cookings".


cookings, part 2

Phillip couldn't have those snazzy pots and pans without a stove! So I made one last night from a duct-tape-covered box and some adhesive hooks.

He loves it. (He's checking to see if the fish is done in the photo.)

peter and the creepy doll

This is Peter, Phillip's new buddy. I bought him from this Etsy shop. He's so sweet, well-made, and Phillip loves him. He's smaller and less expensive than many other Waldorf-type dolls, and I think he's just right. He's stuffed with real wool, and is cute as a button. Unlike this:
Which is the "baby" Phillip loved, and doted upon until Peter's arrival. It was a gift, and its glassy eyes with eyelashes only on the bottom lids kind of freak me out. I think it might disappear, now that Peter can fill the 'baby' void.

A funny story about Peter's name: over Christmas, we got to see some of Adam's extended family, which was great. He has a cousin named Peter, who Phillip took a shining to and toddled around after for an entire afternoon. When we arrived home, the doll was here! The name that came with him was 'Tobly', so that's how I introduced him to Phillip. A little while later, after letting them get to know each other, I asked Phillip what his name was. "Peter." Clear as day. "Peter, Peter, Peter." So his name is Peter.


recipe-a-week #2: curried butternut squash soup & "cookings"

When we were visiting one set of grandparents at Christmas, out came an old-school Fisher Price cooking set that my husband and his brother played with as kids. Phillip LOVED it, especially putting "salt pepper" (no "and") on everything, including Nanoo's slippers.
So how excited was I to find this great little Ikea cooking set at Frenchy's last week? Very much so! And so was Phillip. He calls the whole process "cookings".
"Mama, cookings!"
The set, for $3, was in a big bag with a bunch of other play kitchen things, including a little wooden rolling pin, pastry brush, and a plastic fried egg.

This morning, he was holding the frying pan, lid on and egg inside.
P, taking off lid: "Ta-daaaaa!"
(P takes "pa-tu-laaaah" (spatula) and pokes at the egg.)
P, looking at Mama: "Ah-most done."
These were taken at Christmas with the 30 year old set at the grandparent's house. The salt and pepper, which sit on the upper right part of the stove, almost disappeared forever over the holiday. Phillip was in charge of putting all of the garbage in a box, and he decided to put the salt and pepper in there, too. A few days later when he was asking for them, and after searching the rest of the house, I realized where they likely were. And there they were, snuggled in amongst the wrapping paper and packaging, ready to go to the curb.

And speaking of "cookings", we had a lot of fun last night, with oodles of yummy food. One thing I made was a squash soup, from The Food You Crave. I decided to make another new recipe from one of my cookbooks, as explained in this post, although it is very similar to my usual one. Equally delicious. Easy and filling, and a perfect winter soup. And I love that it's creamy and filling without having cream in it. I made it while P was sleeping, and kept it warm in the crockpot until everyone arrived. Naturally, I didn't follow the recipe terribly closely, so I'll give you how I made it:

Curried Butternut (well, -cup, in this case) Squash Soup

1 giant buttercup squash (because there were no butternuts to be had), wrestled into submission, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 tbsp olive oil (because we don't use canola, as called for in the recipe)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carton (900 mL) low sodium organic chicken broth (because the veg broth has way more sodium in it than the store-brand organic chicken)
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp + 2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
low-fat sour cream for garnish

Saute onions and garlic in oil for about 5 minutes in a large soup pot. Add squash, broth, curry powder, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes (I left it for longer, while I was doing other things). Remove from heat, stir in the honey, and puree until smooth. (I used a stick blender - my food one, not my soap one - but you could pour it in batches into a regular blender.) To serve, garnish with sour cream or yogurt.

Cute Things Falling Asleep. Self-explanatory. Thanks for the heads up, Trudi!

One last thing: it's snowing like mad today, and we're expected to get 20cm. The only letdown is that it's supposed to end early this evening, making a snow day tomorrow less likely. But my fingers are crossed, and I'll definitely be posting if we're snowed in! Hope you're having a restful weekend.


fondue with a new tablecloth

Guess where I picked up this tablecloth yesterday? Of course - Frenchy's. $1.50.

And I found this Pier 1 table runner, too. Also $1.50.
I bought them especially for tonight - we're having our annual Christmas fondue. Everyone wasn't able to make it in December, so we decided to have it tonight instead, and I'm excited. Phillip's napping, so I was able to get everything ready. Now I'm just waiting for him to wake up and for the guests to eventually arrive. Have a great weekend!