It's the last day of February, folks! (Happy Birthday to my Dad (who doesn't even know what a blog is!) and Annie!) It's a wild day today, and I'm home from work with this disgusting sick. I'm looking forward to warm days spent in the garden and hanging clothes on the line. Happy Monday!


more tulips

 We had a very quiet weekend. We are a germy, germy bunch. Steer clear, if you see us approaching. Not that we're going anywhere.
Speaking of approaching, Spring is going to be here very, very soon. Be still my heart! Through this fog in my head, I really wanted to clean today. Aside from the regular housework, I didn't accomplish too much, but the sentiment was there. March 1 seems like the perfect time to me to start a new year.

I had vague plans to make Smitten Kitchen's Pop Tarts this weekend, but didn't really feel like it. That, and Adam made chocolate chip cookies and strawberry coffee cake thingies, so we really didn't need anything else sweet in the house. Poor Phillip barely ate a thing all weekend, so he didn't even have any of those. He had a good supper tonight, though - some homemade bread and roasted squash and a few bits of cheese. I'm hoping that he's a bit more like himself tomorrow.

Hope your week starts off well and germ-free tomorrow!


the sick

The sick has arrived in our house. I had grand plans for a family potluck tomorrow, all sorts of fun weekend plans, and everything is now out the window (to the wind and rain), to be replaced with snuggles, cuddles, hot lemon and ginger drinks, reading plenty of books and lots of cleaning. So, we're out of commission until further notice. Hope that you have a lovely, healthy, and happy weekend!


thumbprint cookies

I bought myself a little bit of Spring at the grocery store the other day. It's certainly not the same as when they finally appear in the garden, but I'll take what I can get in February. I also try to keep the bulbs to replant in the garden - I think it's worked before, but I can't remember exactly what I did.
 So - on to the Thumbprint Cookies! I had never made them before, and decided that another vehicle for my quince jelly was required. I thought that the jelly might soften up a bit when they baked, which didn't really work out. But they were delicious. Really delicious.
The original recipe is here; I found that it was too small a batch (next time I'll triple it and freeze some dough), but that's also kind of helpful the first time you try a recipe. It's simple, quick, easy, straightforward, and delicious.

Thumbprint Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (I used almonds)
  • 2/3 cup any flavor fruit jam
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.
  2. Separate egg, reserving egg white. Cream butter or margarine, sugar, and egg yolk.
  3. Add vanilla, flour and salt, mixing well.
  4. Shape dough into balls. Roll in egg white, then walnuts. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove cookies from oven. With thumb, dent each cookie. Put jelly or preserves in each thumbprint. Bake for another 8 minutes. (I needed to add another 5 minutes to the last baking time.)
 Phillip thought they were pretty good, too.

Speaking of cookies, this book came in for me at the library today. I can't wait to sit down and drool over it.


happiness, part 2

See our nice pot lid rack? It's waaaay up there on my list of favourite kitchen things. Oh wait, is there something else in that cupboard?
Heh heh.

I know that this post has been a long time in the making. I'm continuing to think about happiness, and since the recent post I wrote about it was rather brief, I wanted to mention a few other things.

Firstly, just to be extremely clear, I am not in any way suggesting that depression, mental illness, or tragic events can be simply whisked away by being appreciative of what you have and focusing on the big picture. My way of handling all of the distressing things going on in the world is to recognize their importance, and to do something helpful if possible.
The moon setting as the sun rose yesterday.
When I think of the word 'happy', I imagine one of the Seven Dwarfs. Or someone who is flaky and shallow. I use 'happiness' and 'contentment' interchangeably, and think I prefer the word contentment. It's so much calmer and more pleasant to the ear. I still think of myself as a happy person, though.

Today's contentment tips:

Along a very similar vein as working with what you have, start where you are. For example, I dream of a day when I will have uninterrupted time to do stuff that I like to do. Since I have a rather busy life with two small children and a full time job (oh yeah, and a small business on the side), that's not going to happen any time soon. So I try to take the time where I can get it. It might not be a whole morning to clean the house and have it spotless (yes, that's one of the things I enjoy doing), but I can do a quick once-over in the bathroom before my shower in the morning. "Someday never comes", "don't wish your life away", and all of that. I know that when the boys are older, I'm going to think so fondly of this time I have with them right now. And I try to enjoy every minute I have with them. (As any parent will gladly attest, this is easier on some days than others.)
Lavender Honey.
Second contentment tip, which kind of ties in with the effort vs. pay-off tip in the previous post. For me, being organized breeds happiness. I have found that doing little things 'for myself' (i.e. things I  have to do anyway, but I do them before the last minute) gives me some sense of  happiness in several ways. First, I have the satisfaction of it being done and not hanging over my head. Let's take getting my things organized for work the night before  as an example. After getting everything in place, I have the peace of  mind of knowing that it's done, so I don't need to think about doing it. When I'm on my way out the door in the morning, not only is my stuff  ready (satisfaction and alleviated frustration) but it makes the  transition in my day go that much more smoothly, which in turn, affects the rest of my day and gives me time to get other things done up ahead to make the next day go more smoothly, and on and on. These things snowball - it's fantastic, and on the days I've been on the ball, I seem to be a lot more efficient.

Disclaimer: this doesn't happen every day, and some days feel chaotic; in fact, I am making a point to do it every night this week to see how much more smoothly the mornings go. Speaking of mornings, make some lavender honey. It will make your mornings a little bit sweeter.
Lavender honey.
 More generally: Live intentionally. With purpose. As though you're here for a reason. Although I'm sure the term is all over the place, I picked it up from Organized Simplicity. It encompasses sooo much of what I know works for me and just makes sense. As the Avett Brothers say, "Decide what to be, and go be it." You decide how to handle each situation you are presented with in the run of a day. Erin wrote a fantastic post about precisely this, as well - the choices we make. Go read it, it's far better than anything I could come up with. And join in if you're inclined - that's where my 'Year of Choice' sidebar button came from.

**Probably even better than anything I could come up with, I found an excellent source of tons of information and practical, science-based things on happiness, too - Berkeley's Center for the Greater Good. Absolutely fascinating. Definitely have a look.

As far as happiness, parenting, and raising happy children, the Raising Happiness podcast is great - short, practical, easy to listen to, and very relevant. I'm so glad that I came across it! Each podcast is about an issue in parenting; The Art of Setting Limits, and Pushover vs. Dictator are two recent examples of the topics covered - give it a listen and see if it can spark some happiness in your family.


today's thrifted finds

 See that? Right there, shining on the bowl? Sunshine! Glorious sunshine that we enjoyed for most of the day. Best of all, I took these pictures after I got home from work, and it was still bright out! Spring is almost here, friends. Isn't that bowl the nicest, softest, Spring-iest green?
If you've been around here for any amount of time at all, you know that butter is at the tippy-top of my list of favourite things. So I was tickled pink to find a butter bell after work today at Frenchy's. Isn't it adorable? It's almost as cute as my Le Creuset butter dish. One can never have too much butter around, you know. It follows that one can never have too many receptacles for said butter.

I've wanted one of these for awhile, although I don't know if I really understand the need (other than the cute and interesting factors) - I don't find that butter goes rancid when left in small quantities in the butter dish at room temperature. I can see why if you're preserving it for long periods of time - maybe that's where the whole system came from, back in the day. The idea is that you put a little bit of water in the bottom of the outer part, pack your butter into the bell part, which is inverted into the bottom part, and it makes a seal, which keeps the butter from spoiling. Pretty nifty, eh? You can see a picture of both parts here; I for some reason didn't take one. Must have been because I was so excited about the sun.

Tomorrow's Friday!



This amazing print, now framed and hanging in our porch, is by Nikki McClure. I first saw it over at Soule Mama, and ordered it and another one which is gracing our pantry. (Pictures of the other one are apparently currently unreadable.) I love all of her work - it hits the same happy place in my brain as banjos, hanging diapers on the line in the sun, and cookouts on the beach do. And that's saying a lot.

You can learn more about Nikki McClure and her amazing papercut process here. I bought the prints and some notecards here.

love (cookies and links)

P making Valentine cookies from Adam Graham on Vimeo.

Another gorgeous video of P, by Adam.

I told you I had lots of links saved up. This post is very much like how my mind works, only a little bit tidier.

I'm going to make this flatbread with some oregano and use it as a sandwich bread. Yum.

Love this apartment.

This calendula salve would be lovely and healing on chapped wintry lips, I'm sure. (Psst - scrub your lips gently with your toothbrush after brushing your teeth, balm them up and tell me how amazing they feel!)

Ummm.... Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, and Bob Dylan? Together? Yes, please!

How to keep your greens fresh.

First on my list are the chickens, someday a couple of goats, and I think I want bees, too! Especially after seeing this.

This makes me love bread even more.

How to use olive oil in your beauty routine.

Make your own condensed soups.

Amen, Jenna!

Scallops, lemon and pasta. How could you go wrong? Yum.

Hope you're having a ruby Tuesday.


link love and chicken news

Phillip is out delivering some Valentines to his friends, while Thomas naps. It is so nice to be in a quiet house, even if it's only for a little while.

Chicken news! I've contacted my town about having permission to have a few hens in our yard, and apparently I've been the first to do so. The matter has been brought before council, everyone seems to be pretty supportive, and it's moving on to a committee, then will be brought before council again. Everything so far has been very positive, and I'm excited to have our own hens, hopefully soon.

I've been saving things up to share with you.

In no particular order:
If you're making sweet treats, you can make your own sprinkles. I know.

This quote is soooo true.

I love this bedroom.

How to sprout lentils.

On living fully, right now.

Cooking with lavender, parts 1 and 2.

I love using things up; have you been cooking through your pantry, too?

I do love quiche. And almost never make it. I think that will change!

Abigail Washburn is new to me. I love this song! I don't know what it is about banjos, but I kind of love them these days.

Speaking of songs, First Aid Kit sounds pretty great - I've listened to this tune several times.

Okay, I'll save the rest so you're not too overwhelmed. Have a great weekend!


I have been using honey in the shower again lately to scrub my wintry face. I don't know if it's necessary for me to extol the virtues of honey, but I will, just a wee bit. It is delicious, healing, and beautiful. It is a fabulous sweetener in baked goods, smoothies, on fruit salad, or drizzled on yogourt and granola. It's purported to be antimicrobial and antioxidant, too. And bees make it. Bees! Isn't that kind of amazing?

We buy large jars of local honey, and when the bottom part of the jar crystalizes, it can be gently warmed to re-liquify it. Or you can put some in a little glass jar and keep it in the shower, where it makes a lovely softening scrub. I like to use it on my face; I massage a bit in at the beginning of the shower, and rinse it off at the end. Contrary to what you might think, it doesn't leave a sticky mess; the water rinses it right off. Try it - I think you'll be impressed!

Did I mention that I had a nutty week? So far, my weekend has countered it very well. I hope that you're having a relaxing weekend, too.


CSN Stores

I'm excited for an upcoming product review I'll be doing for CSN Stores - they have many online stores, carrying everything from cookware to outdoor playsets to housewares - kitchen sink included. More to come!

It has been a nutty, nutty week (good nutty, just insanely busy) and I do have all sorts of things lined up to blog on the weekend. Hope you're having a good week!


pretzels and pears

We had a lovely weekend. Phillip and I made these pretzels yesterday, and they are delicious. The original recipe is here.

Mall Pretzels


  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt


  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.
  2. Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8 inch square pan.
  3. After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape, and dip into the baking soda solution. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets, and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt, garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.


  • Editor's Note
  • When forming the ropes, roll each one to about half the length you want, then set it aside while you roll the rest. By the time you get back to the first rope, it will have rested enough to roll further.

We don't have a local market through the winter, but there was a special one on Saturday. One of our favourite farmers had these gorgeous jars of her organic pears. They were too beautiful (and as it turns out, too delicious) to pass up.

My new favourite way to eat pears: with plain yogourt, a tablespoon of elderberry syrup, and cinnamon sprinkled on top. I know it sounds like too much going on, but it's not. It's divine.

Speaking of elderberry syrup, Vickie was sooo sweet, and sent me some elderberries! I made the syrup following this tutorial, and it couldn't have been easier (or made the house smell better). I also wasn't anticipating how delicious it would be! It's really, really nice. And the added antiviral properties are lovely, too.

Happy Monday!



It was a snow day today, which meant something super - Phillip and I did some hard-core Valentine's decorating. I saw this idea for a heart garland over at Erin's lovely blog, House on Hill Road, yesterday, and was so glad that we could whip some up today while the weather was pretty wild.  The garland was really easy, quick, and fun - and Phillip could not have been more excited about the results.
First, I cut long strips of wrapping and scrapbook papers I had on hand, and cut at the fold for the hearts.
Then we simply stitched them together with the sewing machine (despite appearances, I did the stitching, not the 3 year old) and voila! Our own heart garlands.

 Here's the boy, signing a Valentine for Adam. His tongue was out like that all morning.
Does anyone else miss Martha Stewart Kids? I bought most issues when they were published, way back before I had any kids of my own. I'm glad that I saved them (and I'm not one to save things) - Phillip and I spent a long time looking at the Winter 2004 issue this afternoon.
"Let's do that!" "Let's do that!" "Let's do that!"
I hope that you're cozy and enjoying whatever weather you're having. (My fingers are crossed for another snow day tomorrow - we're supposed to get another 8-10cm tonight!)


midwinter potluck

It's so much easier to write brief posts about things or events and include a pretty picture than it is to try to accurately express my thoughts on really important and life-changing things that I care really, really deeply about. I'm thinking a lot about part two of my happiness post, and I'm hoping to have it up soon. But I want to put a bit more thought into it, first.

We had a fantastic weekend - some of our friends came over on Saturday for a lovely Midwinter Potluck. We stopped inviting people after everyone we invited said that they would come, and they did! The house was happily packed to the brim, and we had a great time. It was really, really straightforward to organize, and easy to plan (I heart potlucks!) and a perfect way to celebrate the middle of winter. I highly recommend it.

One of the guests brought us some eggs from that very morning. They were delicious. (Thanks, S!)

 The potluck was Adam's idea (thanks, fab husband) and all of the pictures except the mums (mine!) are his.

There were many chubby little hands in the house! So much fun.

We're in the midst of the giant snowstorm, and are possibly going to get 60cm (a LOT) of snow by Thursday morning. I think a snow day is pretty much guaranteed for tomorrow; my fingers are crossed for one on Thursday, too. (I really do love my job, but staying cozied up at home definitely trumps going to work.)

I hope that you're cozy and snug, wherever you are. Give extra-long hugs to your loves today!