soaps available Monday!

I will be delivering a pretty pile of soaps to Yarmouth Natural on Monday morning, so if you're local, you'll be able to get your fix! There will be plenty of Fragrance-Free bars, which have been extremely popular lately, especially with moms of little ones having skin troubles. I'll also be taking some of my new Lavender bars, coloured with alkanet root powder, and the ever-popular Peppermint Poppyseed. There will also be French Clay olive oil bars, pictured above. Like the Fragrance-Free bar, these are also unscented, and make a perfect shaving bar with a dense lather that creates a nice barrier between the razor blade and skin. They're also extremely mild - the only ingredients are saponified olive oil, french green clay, and sodium hydroxide.

So stop in at Yarmouth Natural on Monday and pick up a treat for yourself!

habit - july 31

habit - july 31, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

I'm sorry that this is the last day of the habit group, but I'm tickled pink that we received our first CSA bushel today as late subscribers.

(Click on the photo to view full-size.)


july 30 - habit

july 30 - habit, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

Today was so lovely that I almost forgot to take a picture.


mille bornes and blog2print

I regularly get my blog printed into books; I think of this as a kind of journal and know that I'll have them on hand, and they'll never be accidentally deleted or become obsolete. I know I've told you about Blog2Print before, but if you've been thinking about trying it out, now's the time! If two people get books printed using this link, I will get a free book. Which would be great - I'm almost caught up. Just so you know.

The in-laws were here for a few days, and we had a great visit, including a Mille Bornes tournament of sorts. We got the game at Adam's grandmother's farmhouse several years ago, and I think it was made around 1971. There are still old score cards in it, which I love. Check out some of the cards:
I think the mechanic is kind of cute, but the flat tire card is my favourite.

And I'm in the process of sorting out the CSA thing with a local farm! They're accepting new subscriptions, even though it's part-way through the season, and I'm super excited. If you're in the area and interested, call Gilberte at 837-4181. Yipee! Happy Tuesday.


baking is beautiful (and a cherry pie!)

My in-laws are here for a few days, and my father-in-law has a thing for cherry pie. So I took it upon myself to make one for the very first time, and might I just say that it is perfect?
Did you know that you can use a complimentary pen to pit cherries? Works like a charm, if you don't have a cherry pitter. Using the non-writing end, of course. Or you can have a peek here and see some other ingenious tricks, like using a pastry bag tip or nail and board combo. There's a use for your empty beer bottles there, too.
The dough recipe I use is here. I used the stand mixer today, and the crust came out a bit better than it does when I blend with a pastry blender. For the filling, I used a pile of cherries, about 5 cups, pitted and halved, 3 tbsp cornstarch, and 1/2 cup sugar. Tuck a couple of pats of butter under the crust before baking, bake at 400 for 20 minutes, then at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until really, gorgeously golden. Easy as pie! (I couldn't resist.)
Lastly, I felt like farmer Sherrie today in my bare feet, rolled-up jeans and red shirt. Especially when I was picking peas and beans in the garden. I couldn't have been more content.



A great morning at the market, and the possibility of a CSA! (Be still, my heart! I haven't heard back yet, so I'm trying not to get too excited.) In-laws are here. Busy, fun day. Don't know why pics posted from flickr are wrong size entirely. Ah, well.

Happy weekend!

july 24 - habit

july 24 - habit, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

I was expecting chaos and meltdowns. Instead, it was a perfect, relaxing, and calm day.


habit - july 23

habit - july 23, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

The freezie I was eating slowed down my clothes-hanging to half speed. It made the task pleasant, though.


habit - july 22

habit - july 22, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

Thunder and lightning split the sky for hours last night. Morning came at the same time as usual.


buttermilk dressing

Now that you've all tried the fantastic barbecue sauce I posted last week, I have another saucy thing for you to try. There's a salad dressing saga going on here at our house - Adam is a staunch Russian dressing lover, while I find it's kind of sickeningly sweet. So I usually eat naked salad. But he adores this buttermilk dressing, even though he usually doesn't like anything with a vinegar-y taste at all. I like it, but he loves it. So I thought it must be worth sharing. Oh, and it takes all of 2 minutes to put together, tops.

Buttermilk dressing:

1/3 cup buttermilk (milk with 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar added)
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 scallion, thinly sliced

The original recipe is here, as part of a BLT salad. Yum!

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 7.17.2010

    rolling, rolling, rolling and a peanut butter tip

    The peonies are long gone, but I just found this picture.
    Thomas rolled over onto his belly for the first time tonight! And I was the only (very proud) witness. I have what feels like a zillion things lined up to post about, but this one will be short and sweet. And it will make your life 67% more pleasant. It's kind of along the same lines as rolling...
    If you buy natural peanut butter, you know that there's always a pile of oil on top, and really dry peanutty butter at the bottom. And mixing them can be a pain. My mother-in-law gave me a tip that works like a charm - take your unopened new jar, and turn it upside down at room temperature for a day or so when you bring it home. The oil will reach for the top (well, bottom), self-mixing in the process. Kind of like magic.


    wool puddle pad and a delicious pasta recipe

    I just noticed something funny. When I was a kid, the blanket above was on my bed, and I loved it. Particularly the colour. Now look at our house...
    And the placemat in the background...
    I uploaded the pics and then noticed the green theme.

    Wool puddle pad: Since Phillip has been getting through the vast majority of nights dry, I wanted to change his mattress protectors to a less intense assortment. When I took them off, I had three. And they were made of some sketchy materials. I wanted some kind of protection in case of an accident, so I was thinking about buying a wool puddle pad. And then clued in that I could easily make one with a wool blanket. I headed to three Frenchy's with no luck, and then remembered the one from my childhood bed. I dug it out of a closet at my parents' place, literally cut it in two, and now it is two puddle pads for his bed. Easy peasy.

    Our house: Isn't it cute? Particularly the matching pink flowers. That's all.

    Pasta: This is one of the most delicious pasta dishes I've ever had, and one of the easiest. You probably have most of the ingredients on hand, and it only takes a minute to put together. Definitely worth trying tonight!

    LuSa Organics giveaway

    There's an amazing LuSa Organics giveaway going on right now. I've mentioned their amazing Baby Wipe Juice before - you should definitely check it out.

    Happy Friday!


    july 15 - habit

    july 15 - habit, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

    Dad built a swing for the boy. This worried me, given the scar I have
    from the teeter-totter he built for me. They were both so proud.

    habit - july 14

    habit - july 14, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

    Every time someone leaves the bathroom: "Oh yeah, beets!"


    adam's work

    P with milk from Adam Graham on Vimeo.

    In case you didn't know, my handsome husband is very, very talented. Since his new baby arrived last week, he's been taking some beautiful pictures, and is excited about the video possibilities with said baby. Yesterday, he made this little video of P in our yard. And yes, Phillip's always that cute.

    P.S. Try not to tear up.


    a little mr t

    No not that Mr T, my Mr T. Since the last post was so P-laden, I thought I should compensate.

    Adam took this pic a few weeks ago.

    bits and bobs and barbecue sauce

    I made my first strawberry pie this morning. So simple, it doesn't even really need a recipe - and good thing, because it seems impossible to find a baked strawberry pie recipe. So I made one up. I used my regular crust recipe, and mixed a bit of sugar and cornstarch with the berries, some of which I kind of sliced with my pastry blender. Not quite enough cornstarch this time; it was kind of soupy. That's my kind of soup.
    How cute are these little squash curlicues? I'm so excited for some squash soup this fall. And speaking of cute, Phillip came to the door to show me something very special yesterday.
    "I'm tickling his eyes, Mama. He likes that." (I assured him that the snail most likely did not like having his eyes tickled.)
    And tonight, at P's request, we had a picnic. I made Everyday Food's Barbecued Chicken, and it looked exactly like their picture! (Maybe because I followed the recipe.) Better yet, it tasted incredible.
    P, like every other kid on the planet, likes to dip. Here's the sauce recipe:

    Everyday Food's Barbecue Sauce

    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
    • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup molasses
    Simmer all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to about 1 1 /4 cups, about 5-7 minutes.

    Seriously, this is the perfect sauce - not too sweet, not too vinegar-y - it's perfect. (And if you're worried about the hot sauce, you don't even taste the heat in the final sauce. But I wouldn't leave it out, unless I didn't have any on hand.) I piled it on as the chicken was cooking, and it's so delicious to dip pieces of chicken in. It would be fantastic with homemade chicken fingers, too.

    Enjoy a picnic!

    july 13 - habit

    july 13 - habit, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

    The only way to make a lovely day better is to add pie.


    july 11 - habit

    july 11 - habit, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

    The boy and I raked leaves in the long-overdue rain. He tapped our rakes together and said, "Cheers!"


    july 9 - habit

    july 8 - habit, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

    Looking at satellite images of waterways this morning, I saw the shapes of trees. When I cut open the watermelon, I saw the shapes of new seedlings.

    the stairway

    After we stripped and painted the stairwell, I whipped up this little curtain to go over the door of the closet under the stairs. I wanted something bright and fun, since that's Thomas' change table, and we all need something fun to look at while our diapers are being changed.
    And those are the stairs. I love them bare, but the centre of each tread is completely bare, while there are edges to several layers of paint surrounding the bare part. Just in case it's lead paint (which I'm sure that some of it is) we're looking for something to cover it up. Ideally, I would like a plain sisal or jute runner, but I can't seem to find one anywhere around here. I'll keep looking, and enjoying the bare spots in the meantime. Every time I'm on my way up or down, I can't help but think of all of the people who have gone up and down these stairs before.

    Happy Friday!


    clifton's brown bread

    clifton's brown bread, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

    This is the competition for my mother-in-law's brown bread recipe. This one is from talented photographer Clifton Saulnier, a friend of ours, who brought it over when he and his sweet family came over for a meal a few weeks ago. He was gracious enough to share the recipe. He bakes his right in the bread machine, on the sweet bread setting. I chose to do the dough in the machine, let it rise in a regular pan (it fits so much better in the toaster), and bake it at 350 for about 45 minutes. It's heavenly with my favourite food - butter.

    This loaf is a little bit sweeter and more moist than my mother-in-law's brown bread recipe, so choose what you will depending on your preference. Why I've been turning the oven on in this insane heat, I don't know. I had the crockpot on today and we had a delicious bean stew kind of thing. You would think that it's February. Enjoy!

    Clifton's Brown Bread

    1/2 cup oatmeal
    1 cup boiling water mix w/ oatmeal and let cool

    2 tbsp butter
    1/4 cup warm water
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 cup molasses
    3 cups flour
    2 1/2 tsp yeast

    july 8 - habit

    july 8 - habit, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

    The stars are aligning perfectly today. By 8:30 we had bread on the go, supper in the crockpot, a clean kitchen, happy boys, a load of laundry done, all adults showered, house generally tidy. And Thomas slept through the night - until after 6! (Yes, I think the two are connected.)

    Happy, happy Thursday!


    july 7 - habit

    july 7 - habit, originally uploaded by birchbarksoap.

    At the very top of my list of favourite blogs is habit. For the month of July, they've set up a flickr pool, which I am having an amazing time looking through. Seriously, if you need to relax a bit with a cup of tea (or a freezie or two, depending on if you're as warm as we are) it's your place to hang out. I've also posted a few pictures, and since it's so much fun, I think there will be more to come.

    Incidentally, I'm posting this directly from flickr, which is a new way to post for me (and I'm working on figuring out the best image size). Happy Wednesday!


    peas on earth

    I'm so excited for my very own peas again this year, you have no idea. It still amazes me that you plant a seed in soil, a plant grows, and it's a plant that you can eat. Unbelievable.


    MIL's brown bread

    It has been one of those days. Phillip, who has had the art of peeing on the toilet mastered for a very long time, peed FIVE times today in various places other than on the toilet. Three were difficult places to clean. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhh. Adam says that it's because I dared to say out loud a few nights ago how pleased I was with how little laundry we had been doing for the previous week or so. (Mastering the pooping thing only happened about a month ago, and things had been going so very, very smoothly. Good grief.) So, on to a nice, cozy recipe to make me think of other, much more pleasant and delicious things.

    I'm one of those people who had a bread machine and uses it. If you have one, this recipe is definitely worth trying. My mother-in-law came up with it, and it really is almost as good as hand kneaded and all that. I tried my first batch the other night, but in a funny miscommunication between Adam and I, it was in a warm-but-not-on oven for a long time and ended up a gloopy mess. (That day was a trying day, too. This is not the norm in this house!) Today's attempt (pictured) turned out much better.

    Brown Bread

    1 1/4 cups water
    1 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp molasses
    2 tbsp brown sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 cups old fashioned oats
    generous 3 cups flour
    2 tbsp skim milk powder
    scant 2 tsp yeast

    Place ingredients in bread machine on 'dough' setting. Empty dough into loaf pan and let rise until it's pleasantly plump. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes; it's done when it sound hollow when tapped. Slather it up with a blop of butter, and enjoy!


    carrot sutra

    We got this scandalous carrot pair in a bunch at this morning's market. Since we were going to be at the beach anyway, I thought I would bring them along for a risqué little photo shoot.



    There's a herd of cows not far from my parents' house that has the most gorgeous view imaginable. I kept meaning to take a camera with me when we're heading out there so I could have a few pictures to share, and also kept forgetting. Until yesterday, when I remembered, but only had a macro lens. So I'll have to remember to take a different one next time. I do like how the picture turned out, though.

    I've been trying to read a bit more lately, instead of getting swept up (har har!) in chores in the evenings. I'm well into The 100-Mile Diet, which is a good, quick, informative read. It kind of feels as though I've read it already, since I've read No Impact Man, Animal Vegetable, Miracle, The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and probably a bunch of other books along the same lines. What can I say? Food is so very, very important, and I just can't read enough about it.

    I'm also reading She's Come Undone - a really heavy, dark read with a main character so compelling that I can't help but keep on, and so well written that I don't even notice that I'm reading. I love it when that happens.

    Also piled up are a couple of Adria Vasal's books - Ecoholic (I think this is the third time I've borrowed it from the library) and the new-ish Ecoholic Home, which is also great. What I really, really appreciate about these books is that they're Canadian. If I remember correctly, I saw her on the now-defunct Gill Deacon Show right around the time that Phillip was born. She's quite stunning. And Ecoholic Body is going to be coming out next. You can participate by doing a survey of natural products you've tried. Yay!

    watermelon pop

    Delicious. Especially on a very hot Canada Day! Happy 143rd, Canada!

    As usual, I don't have a specific recipe. I just blended some watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, a wee bit of maple syrup and a glop of plain yogourt together in the blender and poured it into molds. Yum!