august 30

 Some pictures from our time at a camp that we were so thankful to borrow. It's a magical place.

Not much to say today, other than:

1. I seem to have caught the cold that Adam and the boys had last week. Ugh.
2. My to-do list is getting longer by the minute.
3. If you do nothing else today, make these muffins. I originally posted that recipe back in 2007, before Phillip was even born! Wild. They're fast, simple, and most importantly, delicious. You almost certainly have everything you need in your kitchen. Someone will thank you.


pie & salsa

We have several friends who have brand new babies, and I've been having a great time delivering meals to them (and getting to hold sweet new babies, too!) This chicken pot pie went to one home, and it looked and smelled sooooo good that I had to document it. I do love a good pie, sweet or savoury.

Speaking of savoury, I made Marisa's basic tomato salsa recipe on the weekend from her book, and it is excellent. Sweet and hot and delicious. I omitted the cilantro, as the salsa is mostly for Adam, and he's not the biggest fan. Also because when I looked at our plant, it was in a sad, sad state. The salsa is packed with tomatoes and jalapenos from our favourite vegetable vendor at the market (she knows sooooo much!), onions from our garden, and is fresh and bright and yummy. I made two batches on the weekend, and Adam volunteered to watch the boys this Saturday so I can make another. I don't mind one bit.

We just returned after a couple of days at a camp, and it was fantastic. Everything that camp should be. Dirty, loud, exhausting, happy relaxed fun. We're trying to pack as much fun as we can into these last few days of summer. The weather has cooled down, which I am *such* a huge fan of, and I'm looking forward to our fall / winter routine again. But these last few days are precious! Go forth and enjoy.


date night

Last evening, Adam and I went on a date which included plenty of picture-taking, a sunset paddle on a very quiet lake, and some classic games - Aggravation and SkipBo. Some loons (with a baby!), deer, fish, frogs, a beaver and a woodpecker joined us, but they didn't stick around to play the games. Now that's my kind of a date.

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!


fruit leather and beef jerky

I have been using my dehydrator and *loving* it lately. Before you tune me out because you don't have one, though, the two things I made this week can also be made in the oven.
Truthfully, there's not many things that I enjoy more than gnawing on a piece of beef jerky. Why yes, I am a refined lady, thank you. We really don't eat that much meat in our house, especially red meat, and I could take or leave a steak or roast. But give me some beef jerky, and I am one happy lady. I feel better when I have some red meat every now and then, and I love having an easy snack ready to grab.

We had some organic stir fry slices in a bundle of beef that we bought at our market a little while ago, and I thought that this would be the perfect way to use it. And it was. This is the original recipe I used for the marinade, but I left out the onion powder and liquid smoke, since I didn't have any on hand. And I probably guessed at the other amounts a bit. I marinated it for a day and a half, took it out and patted it dry, dehydrated it overnight, and it was perfectly dry in the morning. YUM. You could also do it in your oven on its lowest temperature; just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get too dry.

The other thing I dehydrated this week was some fruit leather - another easy snack to grab on your way out of the door, and it's simple, resourceful, and delicious. Also perfect to put in lunchboxes! I didn't use a proper recipe, but here's the method: I warmed some peaches, plums and blueberries (i.e. whatever needed to be used up) on the stove until they started to release some of their juices, added in a wee bit of sugar (I'm going to try honey next time, but I didn't want to experiment too much on my first try), a bit of water, and a splash of lemon juice. Once it was warmed a bit, I whizzed it up with the hand blender. I spread it on lightly greased dehydrator trays made for this purpose, and it was done in a couple of hours. 

You can also do this in the oven on parchment paper; I had a bit extra that I did in the oven which took a couple of hours longer than the dehydrator. Use any fruit you have on hand; apples make it much sweeter (my combo was pretty tart) and dark berries or plums make it extra pretty. Peel the sheets of fruit from the dehydrator trays, lay it on wax paper, roll it up, and cut into rolled strips. I found kitchen scissors worked much better than a knife. Yum!
And in case you haven't heard of Tattly temporary tattoos, they're fun. Adam put some in my stocking, which I hid from the boys (and myself, apparently) and recently found.


august 21

We've been having a difficult time with an uncooperative boy lately. (As in: punching / kicking his brother for no apparent reason, being generally uncooperative and disagreeable, etc.) In between, he's lovely and back to his wonderful self, but of course I'm wondering what on earth I've done wrong. I will say that my reactions aren't always the most calm and measured, especially lately, and he knows just which buttons to push. It is completely exhausting, this parenting thing. There. Just wanted to get that out there. (There's also a summer cold in our house right now which may or may not be a contributing factor. Ick.)

He decorated the wrapping paper on a birthday gift for his friend on the weekend. He asked "What's her favourite colour?" as he was working, so he would know what colour she would most like the balloon to be. So cute.



I stepped outside to take a few pictures in the garden after supper. The sun came out after a fierce downpour, leaving all of the trees and plants sparkling, and a cool breeze in its wake. The rosehips are on the way - I'm looking forward to making some jelly in a few weeks.

Happy Thursday.


this & that

Our lovely company (I love my in-laws, seriously) left this afternoon, and then the rain started. We've had a quiet, sleepy afternoon together, and it's been lovely.

I'm cutting back on soapmaking a bit, and will only be selling custom orders for the forseeable future. Things always change, of course, but that's where it stands right now. If you would like to order some, I have a bit on hand. Just send me an e-mail and we can sort out the details. My current favourite is the goat's milk batches that I've been making with Dorothy's milk. It's a lovely, rich, moisturizing soap with a thick, creamy lather. Mmmmm. And I've had reviews that it makes a great shampoo bar, too!

This post by Amanda at SouleMama cracked me up. Kids are great.

I've been going back and looking at the first picture in this post over at public::bookstore by Tara Thayer all week.

Phillip is standing next to me. "I am hot. Really really really really hot." That's what he wanted to share. (I'll be thankful when it's less humid, too.)

I'll have both boys to myself all day tomorrow - any ideas for fun things we can do together?


games, hodge podge & two requests

We're all about games in our house. During the first summer after we were married, Adam and I had a running card game of Dame des Piques that lasted at least three months. (I believe I won, incidentally). We started our game collection even before that, and have quite a selection in our game cupboard. Adam took Phillip to a yard sale a few weekends ago, and they found a treasure - a 2nd edition Wheel of Fortune game from 1986! It combines everything Phillip loves - puzzle solving, spinning a spinner, letters and words, and rules! Oh, this boy loves rules.

We stopped at Value Village on our way home earlier this week, and found a like-new Rush Hour game (99 cents!) that Phillip has also been enjoying. Thomas has been playing with Operation a lot lately, which I found at Frenchy's.

Do you have any game recommendations for us? Either for the boys or us grown-ups, or even better - something that we can all play with in some way. I'll keep my eyes peeled.

It's late in the season now, but if you can manage to find some fresh peas (I saw some at the market last week) you can make some Hodge Podge. Rachael's recipe is perfect. We made it a few weeks ago, and it was so. delicious. If you've never had hodge podge, it's a sort of vegetable chowder using the perfect little carrots and new potatoes that are available now. 

The in-laws are here, which is wonderful. I'm hoping to get out and take some pictures very soon. I'm really enjoying having my iPhone for quick pictures, but it's not like a real camera. I need to play with it some more; I have to figure out how to capture things a little bit better. Any tips on iPhone photography? Speaking of which, you can find me on Instagram - I'm Sherrie_birchbarksoap.

Happy Thursday!


the view

We've been away for a few days, and it's felt like a month. In a very good way. We drove for many hours to Antigonish, stayed with some wonderful friends (who are amazing cooks, yuuum!) at their cottage and slept in tents with this view. This was actually the sunrise, which I found disconcerting. Here in beautiful Yarmouth, the sun sets over the water, in the west. There, the water is east, so the sun rises over the water, which is magical and kind of surreal. Definitely my kind of way to start the day.

Phillip had so much fun, he could barely contain himself. It was the first time that he and Thomas:

- slept in tents
- went to late-night bonfires on the beach
- stayed in a hotel (When Phillip walked in, he stopped and said, very excitedly: "There's a TV! In our room! A TV!")
- rode a pony (and visited Oaklawn Zoo in Aylesford)
- went down a waterslide (well, Phillip did once before, but was completely traumatized. This was his first positive experience, and Thomas loved it, too.)
- swam in ocean water and were able to stay in without freezing

I'm sure that there were more firsts, too, but those are the standouts tonight. The boys traveled beautifully. It was great.

P.S. Waking up next to snoring Phillip in a sunrise-filled tent was very, very sweet.


humming along

Things are just humming along merrily over here. (After a couple of days during which I felt irritable and exhausted by the boys and was responding decidedly unlike myself, I decided that regardless of how I felt, I was going to choose to delight in them and dive right into the middle of their conflicts and mess, and guess what? It worked. I'm feeling like myself again.) So things are flowing along smoothly once more. Just a little bump in the path, and as always, I've learned something to take along with me for the rest of the road.

I watched this video a few days ago. I almost cried at the part where she's washing her (beautiful) eggs. Not because there's anything particularly heart-wrenching in the video itself, just because I was imagining the day (and it will come!) when I'll be able to say "I am standing at my sink, washing my own hens' eggs." And that will be a very, very happy day.

This is a happy day, too. I have been enjoying my own little thankful moments at the sink yesterday and today as I was preparing meals. They went something like this: "Oh, shoot. We're out of onions. Oh, wait! I'll grab some from the garden!" and "This soup would be perfect with carrots. Shoot. We're out of carrots. Oh, wait! I'll grab some from the garden." The results have been delicious.

I've been dehydrating more herbs, too, which is super fun. Pictured are stevia and chamomile. I'm going to intentionally plant more chamomile next year to have a year's worth of tea - this year's plants were volunteers from last year's plants. I do love a cup in the evening. Speaking of which, I'm off to have some right now.

Oh, but before I go, thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your sweet comments over on Phillip's new blog! He is so funny about the whole thing and was perfectly and absolutely beaming with each comment that rolled in. And he insisted on replying to every one, so if you left one, there's a reply for you in the comments.