The sun peeked out after Sandy's amazing thunder and lightning display, just in time for trick-or-treating.


oh, my

First things first: I'm feeling a little on edge tonight about Hurricane Sandy, with my sister and her family in the Northeast US, and so many people in its path. And so, rather than spending my evening productively engaged in a task, I'm skipping all over the internet and hoping that people act wisely and are safe.

We're supposed to get high winds and a pile of rain here, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The house lets out a little creak every now and then as I type - some of the gusts are pretty strong. This house has been in this spot for over a hundred years, though, so I don't think it's going anywhere tonight.

I'm edgy about the weather, and Thomas is edgy because he had a dose of steroids yesterday. He came down with croup all of a sudden in the middle of Saturday night, and it was worse than pitiful. If you've never heard the cough, it really and truly sounds like a seal barking. It's sudden and loud, and scared him with every cough. We started the humidifier and were up for most of the night, and when he woke up on Sunday, he seemed to be feeling okay, aside from the cough. But after his nap, he woke with a fever and was breathing too quickly, so I scooted over to outpatients with him. Yipes, that's scary. I often wonder about what people did way back when, and think fondly and nostalgically about all of all of the folk medicine and knowledge that has been and is being lost. That said, I am so very, very thankful for modern medicine, and try to use it wisely, when warranted. They gave him a very small dose of steroid to calm the inflammation, allowing him to breathe normally, and although he definitely wasn't himself today, he's over that awful cough.

Speaking of pitiful, Adam wrenched his back somehow on the weekend and is miserable. He's going to physio tomorrow, and hopefully he'll be up and running again soon. In the meantime, since he's the stay at home Dad, I'm trying to keep things running smoothly, while working. Trying. (I've been impatient and abrupt with the boys. Sigh.)

And that concludes the "tales of woe in our house" portion of tonight's program. We're all more or less fine, and thankful.

In other, completely unrelated miscellany that I want to share, (and that I have no affiliation with, whatsoever) there is a bundle of e-books on sale this week only that I just bought. I won't give you all of the details, since the scoop is over here, but I think it's a good deal, and the subject matter (natural, healthy living, gardening, food and stuff) is probably information that most of you would be interested in, too. I'm particularly excited about the bonus free 3 month subscription to Plan to Eat - I'm hoping that it's a tool that we'll use. We usually plan a weekly menu and grocery shop based on that, but I'm hoping that this might make the process a little bit more smooth.

Take care.


good morning!

I had a lovely week at an in-service in beautiful Halifax. But man, I am so glad to be back at home with my sweet boys! I learned a lot, and as usual, left feeling both inspired and overwhelmed. It's so nice to get together with my colleagues! I'm the only one in my area who does my specific job, so it's kind of a treat to chat with people who really know what I'm talking about and to have great discussions, to ask questions and get suggestions from them. It was also a treat to not have to cook, clean up, or take care of little ones! (Thanks, Adam.)

My completely un-work-related advice for your weekend: pick up some beets, if you don't have some in your garden, and roast them in a bit of olive oil, with salt and pepper until they're tender. Yum.

And now I'm off to the playground with those sweet little ones of mine. Have a lovely weekend!


checking in

Just popping in to say hello and share a sunrise from last week! More soon.



It's been awhile since I've shared some good things with you that I've come across lately. Maybe because I'm just seeing the light at the end of my super-insane-busy season and have taken time to catch up on some blog reading at last.

On whittling things down to their simplest. Amen!

This essay by Keri Smith is definitely worth reading. I remember pretending in grade primary that I couldn't count beyond 100, and the teacher giving me a funny look. I've been thinking so much about Phillip and school lately. If you were here in person, I would talk your ear off about the whole thing. I would probably make lists and draw pictures and make plans.

Heard a short section of a great radio call-in about composting today. I'm dreaming about our forever home and the composting system I want to set up. Something like this.

New to me: Regina Spektor. Love her voice! Heard her on Q with my love Jian this morning. Am thinking I'll be entering a Joni Mitchell / Ani DiFranco / women singer / songwriter phase while driving. (As always, LOVING Lisa Hannigan.)

Mary Oliver. I've been reading her poetry lately, and Margaret directed me to an interview from NPR with her. Thanks, Margaret!

So I'll leave you with this:
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.                  -from Snow Geese, by Mary Oliver


handpicked nation

*A very special welcome if you've found your way here via Handpicked Nation! I hope you'll find something that you like - browse the archives, enjoy the pictures, subscribe if you like - I'm glad you're here! *

Just popping in to say hello and share something fun and exciting today - I've been asked to contribute to Handpicked Nation, a site that's right up my alley with lots of great posts and information about all of the things I love - food, farming, and generally living well and responsibly on this gorgeous earth. My first guest post is up today, and it's about one of my all-time favourite things - glass jars! (I could have written for days!) Pop on over and have a look around - I'll bet you'll find something that you like, too.

Happy Monday!


news brief

Right now, the boys are on their way to dreamland. The fire's on, I'm planning out a cup of tea and some reading, and it's dark, rainy and cold outside. I am very glad that it's Friday.

The weather has turned much cooler this week, and my face is protesting. I know it will adjust, but do any of you have great moisturizing treatments or tips that help through the transition? Eeeps, the skin on my cheeks feels tight and dry.

In "other-things-people-do-that-I'm-curious-about", what do you take to work for snacks? Help! I need some ideas. I'm looking for healthy, delicious things that can sit in the car on hot or cold days, since that's my 'office' most of the time.

I've been listening to some great new music - Mumford & Sons have a new album out, (you can listen to an interview they did with my sweet Jian recently, here) and The Lumineers have been playing over and over in the car. In fact, they're playing in my head right now.

We're doing a little bit of work on the house, since it's still ours. (But it could be yours!) There are a few little things outside that are best looked after before winter, and to make the kitchen more enjoyable for us and possibly appealing to potential buyers, we're putting in a new counter, sink, and faucet. I've picked them out, and I super duper love them. And I can't wait to take pictures for you. (Teaser: the sink is white! Enameled cast iron! Eeeeek!)

I hope that you have a lovely weekend, and thanks in advance for any help on the snack front!


green tomato chow

Sweet pickles are one of those things. Those things that you either wrinkle up your nose in disgust at, or that you heap on your plate next to your mashed potatoes and dive in for seconds.

For some reason, I feel that I’ve been led to believe that these pickles, known as Chow, Chow Chow, or Green Tomato Chow, are a Maritime thing, but I don’t know if that’s true at all. What I do know is that they’re delicious, and a great way to use up those green tomatoes that might not ripen before the first frost. They’re fantastic with mashed potatoes, and are usually served with fish cakes, here in Nova Scotia. (Fish cakes are another thing I’ve always thought of as Maritime - would you like a recipe sometime?  They’re amazingly delicious, quick, simple, and frugal.)
This particular recipe is from a wonderful woman named Shirley. She was my mother’s best friend when I was growing up, and she was like a second mom to me. She died on my first day of high school after a horrific ordeal with cancer. I still miss her and dream about her and her kitchen every now and then. I spent a lot of time at her house when I was a kid, most often in the kitchen, and remember being sent to fetch jars from the shelves in her basement before meals. Next to her dill pickles, I clearly remember bottles of bright chow lined up neatly.

A very special thanks to her daughter, who sent me many of Shirley’s recipes last year. This was my first attempt at making chow, and I’m so pleased that it tastes just like Shirley’s. I made half of the recipe, and it worked beautifully.
Shirley’s Chow Chow

9 lbs green tomatoes (approximately 60) sliced thick (approximately 27 cups)
6 lbs onions (20) sliced thick (approximately 18 cups)
¾ cup pickling salt

Put tomatoes and onions in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Let sit overnight. Drain and rinse.

6-8 cups cider vinegar
20 cups white sugar
½ cup mixed pickling spice, tied in bag
    (Shirley tip: reserve 1 cup of vinegar and sugar for thickening mixture in next step)

Heat and add tomatoes and onions, simmer 1 hour or until somewhat soft.

Add thickening:
¾ cup corn starch or flour
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
Dissolve in reserved liquid. Add to pickles and thicken, stirring constantly. More corn starch may be added as schow should be slightly thick. Pour into sterile jars and seal.