july 30

It's a very happy day for a sweet friend of mine (Hi, AC! Oh, you're AS by now!) - it's her wedding day.  And I've been thinking about her all day, so this post's for her. Here, we had crazy rain and wind for most of the day - I hope that the weather in Alberta was perfect for you, A. Since I'm not able to be there, almost all of the way across the country, I wanted to say congratulations, and I hope that everything went as planned and that you had a wonderful day. I'll track your mom down soon for the details. And I can't wait to see pictures. May you have many, many happy years together! *Hug*


that turkey!

 "On Duty". This is the sign for Phillip's store, and he's on duty. As you can see. He is very diligent about changing the sign when he leaves the store (his bedroom). It's adorable.
He named the store the "Graham Half-Family Market, Half-Family Store" and he and Thomas are the proprietors. They mostly sell sandwiches and pizza. They're a little tough since they're made of wood, but not bad.

 Our summer list is taped all over his world map.
 A growth chart from Molly!
 My mom was babysitting this afternoon while I was in outpatients - had a kidney stone, apparently - I don't recommend it! and apparently NOT watching Phillip as he published the post we started together earlier, and proceeded to create three other ones and publish those, too! Since they're kind of cute, despite the fact that he knows he's not supposed to use the computer, I'll leave one of them up. Turkey!

Anyway, here's the interview post I had planned on putting together.

I saw this over at The Things We Do, and thought that Phillip would have fun with it. So here's an interview with P, 4 years and 2 months old.

Favourite food? Pizza.phillip
Food you don’t like? (silly voice) Crayons. phillip
Coolest person on earth? Gabriel.phillip
When you grow up what do you want to be? A doctor.phillip
Favourite colour? Blue.phillip
Favourite song? ABC's.phillip
What do you like to do outside? Play hide and seek.phillip
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? To Hands on Crafts.phillip
When you were little you… I saw myself playing with my toes.phillip
Your best friend is? Catherine.phillip
Favourite snack? Peanut butter and apple.phillip
Favourite movie? I haven't watched any movies, so let's skip that one phillip
Favourite thing to do with Thomas? Play tricks on each other.phillip
Favourite thing to do with Dadoo? Play.phillip
Favourite thing to do with Mama? Play.phillip
A book you love? The one Nanoo gave me. The big one full of activities.phillip
Favourite sport? Basketball.phillip
Favourite thing to wear? Shorts.phillip
If you had one wish what would it be? For a truck full of cookies.phillip

Thanks, Phillip! That was fun. (He giggled through the whole thing. Cute kid.)

He added in all of those 'Phillip's when he was taking over my blog.

Look at this! I finally caved and bought it at a local antique shop. I am in LOVE! It now houses all of our craft supplies. Terribly exciting.
Have a great weekend!






We have family here this week, and I am enjoying it soooo much. Adam's parents and grandparents are visiting, and we are having a lovely time together. It's so nice for the boys to get to spend time with their great-grandparents! I didn't have that experience, and I'm so glad that they do.

Isn't Grammie (Mary) gorgeous? That's my mother in law on the right, being held by her brother. He and her other brother, on the left next to Grampie (Bob), both passed away in their teens. The life that Grammie and Grampie have lived has been full and difficult. They've been married for 60 years. Can you imagine having three very little ones with no running water or a washing machine? I love hearing all of Grampie's stories and getting housekeeping tips from Grammie. (Note: rhubarb flower stalks need to be pulled out, rather than cut. Add a pinch of baking soda to your stewed rhubarb so you don't need to add quite so much sugar.) They are so such lovely people - I married into a wonderful family. Really.

I'll be back in a few days! I hope that you're getting to spend time this summer with the people you love!


chamomile and housekeeping

The sun is rising and I'm in a quiet, sleeping house. I have a cup of mint tea at hand, and no particular plans for the day other than doing some cleaning and baking to get ready for family who will be coming this week.

Phillip had a fever yesterday, slept all afternoon, and was up last night until 11:00. I stayed up to be sure that he went to sleep. Poor little guy. Thomas tripped and put his tooth through his lip after his bath last night. Adam was gone for the day to shoot a wedding. Since P slept all afternoon, and T had his regular nap, I had a bit of very unexpected quiet time and finished a book. (Fast, fast read. Nothing lifechanging, but fun for the summer!)

Housekeeping: along with the physical housekeeping that will be going on here today, I've also finally imported my Birch Bark Handmade Soap blog to this one, so that all of the posts will be included here, in one place. I plan to delete that blog, so things are a bit more condensed. Since soapmaking is still fun (I made four batches on Friday!) but doesn't hold quite the same level of priority since having Thomas, I thought that was a good plan.

Cookie tip du jour: in case you don't do this (and I don't as often as I should), you should do it today. Make your regular cookies, shape them or plop them onto a baking sheet, and freeze. Remove them from the sheet and store in an airtight bag after they've frozen. When you have company and don't want to spend time beginning at the beginning to make delicious, homemade cookies, you can just bake these up - no defrosting necessary.

I hope that no one is feverish at your house and that you're having a lovely weekend.



A very early good morning to you. I have been up for a few hours, for no apparent reason. Well, part of one of my dreams was that Thomas was choking, and I woke up just as I was about to do something about it. So it took me a few minutes to wake up properly and realize that it had been a dream. Then I laid in bed for a looooong time. It's a hot, muggy night, so I went and got a fan and set it up by the bed. And laid there some more. For what seemed like forever. Then I gave up.

We get Phillip up to pee every night before we go to bed. Tonight (last night?) when I was tucking him back in, he said, "I'm going to be an ant again now." And went back to sleep.

So, good morning, and I hope that you're sleeping peacefully.


hamburger buns and butter

You may (or may not, if you read this in a feed) have noticed that I changed the design of the blog a bit. Please don't mind the current imperfections. It turns out that I'm even busier in the summer than during the school year, somehow. Anyway, I'll get to working on the sidebar and fixing the header and a few other things that need perfecting. Please be patient!

I think that the reason that I'm busier is because I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. And I think that I'll try to reduce that for the rest of the summer - I want to be outside and doing fun things with my boys. And the summer only come around once a year. That said, each of these delicious goods required very little hand-on time. Like, 10 minutes. Not even that much for the chive butter. And they're good.

 Making butter in the Kitchen Aid involves pouring in heavy cream and whipping it with the whisk attachment until it separates into butter and buttermilk. That's it! Plop the butter chunks into a piece of cheesecloth and squeeze it out, and you have butter! Knead in some salt, herbs, whatever else you like, and you have a little bit of heaven in your kitchen. Or in your mouth, if you're like me. Save your buttermilk for salad dressing or to fry chicken, and you're all set. Now all I need is a cow...
While I do realize that items like hamburger buns and butter can be purchased at the grocery store in these crazy modern times, it it is sooo much fun to do it myself.  And these hamburger buns are absolutely worth the little effort they require. I (finally - it's been in my binder for about a year - good grief - I just checked the date and could it have been TWO years?) tried Teresa's hamburger bun recipe, and as usual, I said "Why didn't I try this sooner?"  The dough is done in the bread machine, easy peasy, divided into bun-ny blobs and left to rise. Then popped in the oven, and delicious! Soft, perfect texture - we had some plain tonight, but I can't wait to try them with a burger. Oooh, a portobello one would be delicious. With the chive butter toasted onto the bun! Yum.

I much prefer these to the store ones. Although they might look a bit crusty, they're not - the outside is just as soft as one would want it on a burger. And they can also be shaped into hot-dog shapes, if that's the way you roll. (Ha!)

So follow the link to her recipe, and make these!

Happy Wednesday!


oven dried herbs

I have several pots of herbs on the go this summer and some in the raised beds, and I've been keeping my eyes and ears peeled for ways to use them while they're fresh. Like the delicious pea and mint soup we had this week, herb-infused water, or tossed into a salad. In anticipation of winter, though, I've also been thinking about drying some, and yesterday, I did it for the first time in the oven. It worked extremely well for me, (not to mention that it's super easy). You also don't have any of the dust or humidity problems that can happen if they're hung to dry in bundles. Here's how I did it!
Pick your herbs. They're supposedly at their flavour peak early in the morning after the dew's evaporated. Trimming the plants back encourages them to put out more growth, too, so that's another good reason not to wait until the end of the season to harvest them!
Wash and dry well. I thought this was pretty clever of me - to wash them, I used the salad spinner. It's now one of my favourite kitchen tools, and I bought it recently at a thrift store in Halifax for 99 cents. Score!
After the herbs are washed and dried (you can also use a kitchen towel to dry them if you don't have a spinner), pick off the leaves. With most (like oregano, thyme, tarragon) you can hold the top of the sprig with one hand, and run the fingers of your other hand down the stem in the opposite direction. They'll pop right off. Then lay them out in an even layer on a baking sheet.
Set your oven to the lowest temperature it can reach. On my oven, it's 170. I had two sheets of herbs, which I tucked in for 40 minutes. Then I turned them with some tongs, and set the timer for another 40 minutes. I checked them again, and they looked almost perfectly dry. Since I was in the middle of something else, I turned off the oven and left the door open for a minute (there were no babies around!), then closed it and let them sit for another 20 minutes or so. If there's too much moisture, they can mold, and if they're in the oven too long, they might burn, so try to find that perfect middle ground!
And here are the dried herbs, waiting to be used. On the left is mint, top middle is sage, underneath that is bee and lemon balm, top right is oregano, tarragon is on the bottom right (my favourite!) and stevia in front. I will absolutely be doing more of this! And watch out if you're on my Christmas list!

If you don't have your own herbs, it's not too late. The garden centres are closing for the season here in Nova Scotia, and you just might be able to get your hands on some super cheap potted herbs. I saw some at the Superstore the other day, and you can also get some from the market and plunk them in some water, and start your own. If you can find some perennial ones either of those ways, it's absolutely worth it, since you can use them for the rest of this season, and keep them in the garden for years!

Happy herbing! Let me know if this works well for you!



So far today, I've:
- continued the couple-days-long strawberry jam recipe from my first and favourite canning book
with the first boil. Strawberry jam is Adam's favourite. I like making things that I know he'll love! Tomorrow is the canning bit.
- dried bunches of herbs (in the oven! more on that soon) that I cut from my back step stores; I'm particularly excited about the tarragon and stevia
- baked up some bread
- roasted some cubed potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. So simple, and delicious.
- got a clothesline full of beautifully clean diapers, getting a breath of fresh air
- read a few pages of Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights. So far, so good - I kind of love it.

Adam is off to shoot a wedding this afternoon, so the boys and I will be hanging out. I think we'll search for crabs on the beach near my parents' house. Happy Sunday!


i missed you!

We arrived home yesterday after a relaxing, lovely-especially-because-we-got-to-see-lots-of-people trip to New Brunswick. And I missed you guys! Here's the newsy rundown of our trip. The pictures are from our ferry ride from Saint John to Digby on the Princess of Acadia. (The composition is off; a bit from the right of each is cropped. I'm trying to get that sorted out. You can always see my flickr stream if you're terribly concerned!)

In no particular order: We went to my first ever Trivia Night with Barb at Big Tide Brewing Co., (don't order the nachos - they were extremely disappointing) and was surprised by how difficult many of the questions were and how many people knew the answers. In other trivial news, I won two games of Settlers of Catan, which surprised even me. (We loooove board games - if you do, you'll like this one. And Carcassonne, too. SO much fun.)
We visited. A delicious dinner at Isaac's Way (I highly recommend the lamb burger)  and late-night mini-golf (thanks to the grandparents!) with the greatest friends anyone could ask for. (And no visit with them is ever really complete without a good dose of mini golf.)
 And I took the boys to visit a bloggy friend and her sweet family.
 We also visited Sarah Jones of Jones Gallery. She's just lovely. We make a habit of popping in to see her and her work when we're in Saint John, and it's always worth it. (She drives a red Vespa!)

I went thrifting (on at least three occasions) in NB and found a few treasures. A great Supermaggie shirt and a couple of pairs of jeans in Fredericton, and a brand new pair of Pediped shoes for Phillip to wear this fall at Value Village in Saint John. I also found some deals on work clothes at RW&Co - I love their look. I don't often buy new clothes, so this was kind of a big deal. And everything was half of the already discounted price. (Naturally.)

We arrived home to a new computer! I'm kind of smitten. The old laptop properly died on Monday after a long and drawn-out ordeal. So now I'm trying to learn to use Lightroom and find some old files (we had everything triple backed up, so we didn't lose anything.) Thanks to Adam for the help, and for mowing the lawn!

Of course, I am happy to be home. I whipped up some classy freezies for Phillip, Thomas and I to share this afternoon, and I think that you should try them. Unfortunately, coconut is one of the foods that Adam can't eat, so he won't be able to enjoy these, but I'll describe them in great detail to him. They are as simple as follows (and they kind of sound like something from a 50's cookbook -must be the pineapple.) In the blender, whiz a can of coconut juice (not water or milk) with a can of crushed pineapple, a banana, and a blop of agave nectar. Freeze in molds, and enjoy! I love the teensy-tiny little bits of pineapple. Yum.

Happy Thursday! It's nice to be back.



Oh, July. I love you.

We are really, really enjoying spending lots of time together, now that I'm off for the summer. We've been swimming a few times and have been enjoying some lovely weather.

Other things we're enjoying:
The Cat in the Hat game "I Can Do That!" Perfect for 3-5 year olds.

I can't remember if I've mentioned it here before, but my sister Marla has a newish 365 blog, fivesevenfive, of haikus. Funny ones. She and I share the same sense of humour.

I just started reading an excellent book, Simplicity Parenting. Love it so far.

And I'm sure there are other things that I just can't remember right now.

The following pictures are from a few months ago, when Thomas was first sitting at the table to eat a snack. Can you tell that he likes a)eating and b)having his picture taken? He looks so much older now!


ginger syrup and rose water

This is what the countertop looks like right now. That's bluebarb (blueberry and rhubarb) jam left over from last year, and it is sooooo good.
 Also in the kitchen (although I brought them into the dining room for better light), two very fun and easy things I've made lately. On the left, ginger syrup. It is so good, you won't be able to stand it. I actually had some, still warm, drizzled over oat squares cereal last night. Yes, we need some groceries. Including club soda, to make our own ginger ale! Wouldn't it be cute in a small glass bottle with those adorable striped straws?

Ginger syrup
1 1/2 cups chopped ginger (in a food processor works best)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water
Combine in saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for awhile, until the syrup thickens and darkens. For me, this was the time it took me to make five batches of soap, so about an hour and fifteen minutes. Strain, and add to sparkling water for your own pop (or soda, for you Americans), drizzle over vanilla ice cream, or try any of these. Oooh, drizzled over a cake would be wonderful.

And on the right is some rose water. (In a Le Parfait jar I found at Frenchy's.) It could not be easier, or smell better.
Rose water
1 cup rose petals
2 cups boiling water
Place petals in a heatproof bowl or jar. Pour boiling water over petals, and cover. Let steep for half an hour, strain out petals and let cool. It smells amazing, is so pretty, and makes a lovely toner for your skin. It can be used in recipes, and it can be used for many other purposes, too!

Also in the garden, we're waiting for these silver dollar seed pods to turn silver. Phillip's very excited for 'the coins to be ready'.

I just overhead Phillip say "I need to do downward facing dog!" The boys are doing their morning stretches. He's also started saying 'lovely' a lot lately. Which is, of course, adorable.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend!