Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Food: Energy Balls {a recipe}

It's happy food. Simple food. Equally enjoyable at 4 pm for a snack to stave off hunger pains of little tummies or at 10 pm after a session of homework, practicing, and teaching.
They come together super fast, and are a great recipe to make with little ones. Lots of dumping and stirring and making balls.

 They're like the cute cousin of granola bars, which I have never been happy with my homemade versions and I've tried several different 'best ever' recipes. They're as a versatile as good pair of boots with as many add-in options as you want. And they are also reasonably healthy.

There's lots of different versions out there, but the concept is all the same. Cereal grains,  something sticky to smoosh it all together, dried fruit, chocolate, and whatever other add-ins fits your mood.

Energy Balls from Smashed Peas and Carrots

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated.  Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy!  Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
I used chopped dark chocolate, because that's how I roll. Feel free to use whatever chocolate you like and in whatever form. Use unsweetened peanut butter and coconut flakes for a healthier version. The honey and bits of chocolate make it plenty sweet. 

 These are some other options, I want to try. The quinoa one intrigues me. This grain is showing up everywhere and I have yet to cook with it.

No Bake Energy Bites 

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls

What are some of your favorite snack ideas (I need some more)? Have you used quinoa?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To Pick an Apple

We went apple picking, my girlies and I. It's kind of one of those 'must do' activities when you live in the Annapolis Valley. Historically the Valley is known for its apple orchards, Wolfville's famous Farmer's Market is held in an old apple warehouse and every farm market along the highway sells apples whether grown in their own orchards or not. 

To live during Autumn is to live the season in the East where leaves turn every color and the season is long, long compared to the West. It has always been one of my favorite seasons but here there is just something extra special. Apple picking, pumpkin patch, gourds, boots, scarves, hot tea, and the cold nip  in the mornings. 

I was delighted when I saw apple picking at Noggins Corner Farm on a list of activities with a local homeschool playgroup. My girls are too young for most of activities but this one I knew we could do and it was an opportunity to get out and meet some other moms. 

Noggins Corner Farm is a well-set up operation. They have a farm market where you can buy all kinds of seasonal produce, their squash displays alone made me want to buy one of every variety. 
Along with about 60 other parents and their children, we went on a wagon ride past the flower and herb gardens, the raspberry canes and the pumpkin patch. We rode through the forest and under the eagle's nest and past rows and rows of beautiful apples. 

Each of the children were given a bag and we filled it with Gravenstein (an apple brought over from Europe in the 19th century), and Macintosh (a Canadian apple from Ontario in the 18th century). Kilmeny was more interested with picking up the apples off the ground then picking them off the tree, and we filled the bag quite quickly. 

There was also a corn maze to go through as well as the incredible play area set up to occupy children of all ages. I opted out of the corn maze because really? With one sleeping baby and the toddler strapped in the stroller, it wouldn't be that fun. We hung out by the duck races, got throughly soaked (Kilmeny) and chatted with the other moms of littles (me). 

There were apples to enjoy on the picnic tables, huge slides made out of pipes, tunnels made out of the same pipes and hay bales, a climbing structure made out of tires and hay bales and flowers to pick if one so chose. 

It was a marvellous day, filled with lovely autumn activities. 

What is your favorite thing about this season?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blomindon Park: a Bay of Fundy treasure

On the last weekend before we returned the rental car, we went exploring. The road wound in and out of small towns, past farms with their produce stacked by the road inviting you to buy a pumpkin, showing vistas that made us catch our breath in the sheer beauty of it all. 

It was misting when we arrived and we ran out in the glory of it all, happy to be alive and together. We scooped up our little ones, one on my back and one held her Daddy's hand. 

We marveled at the old things just sitting there, the rock wall built over a hundred years ago, the ancient  tractor now part of the forest's landscape. 

We took big breaths of the salty air as we made our way down the stairs onto the beach. 


This was what we had been waiting for, the great expanse of water. England was just on the other  side of the pond. 

We both went a little (iPhone) camera crazy, trying in some way to capture the intense beauty that surrounded us. 

The acres of red sand. The apple tree showering its fruit on the beach below. The fresh water falling over the cliffs and making its way to mingle with the salt water. Driftwood, tiny shells, crabs, tide patterns on the sand, lobster traps, seaweed. 

My heart was full to bursting. There were many things that were hard about the transition (still are hard,  if I'm honest), but in that moment I was deliriously happy. 
And no one can take that from me. 

We walked to the water's edge, tipped our toes in the Atlantic, and felt so small. And so alive. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

To my Girlies

Oh, my girls....

Do you know how much I love you? Do you know how much richer you have made my life? Do you know the tears I shed over you, wanting to be a good mom, wanting to do the absolutely best for you?
Do you know that I will be the mama bear if anyone dares hurt you?

You fill my days with so much. I laugh at those who ask what on earth I do all day. Don't they know? Silly people. 

You are my canvases. You are my great life work. 

There is so much to teach you. The art of dressing well (which let's be honest, I'm still figuring out), knowing that flats go with dresses and skinnies. Your sneakers are for jeans. But sometimes, Kilmo you  show me your sense of style and totally rock your converse with leggings and a skirt. I love it. 

The delight in making and enjoying food. It's a gift to be enjoyed slowly and with care. Even if its just peanut butter and jam by the duck pond. 

And there is so much you teach me. That life is beautiful when we are together. That laughing together is the best antidote to grumpy days. 

You both love to dance and we've been dancing a lot lately. You know exactly how to get your current  favorite song on my phone and we twirl around the kitchen, to the sound of the British boys singing about beauty. 

I will always be here to hold your hand and then to let you go as you walk. 

You are loved, my princesses. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Simple Pasta for Busy Days

It's the simplest of dishes. Perfect for dinner on a busy day. After a long walk winding up and down through wine country with no real idea of where you are going. The views are amazing, the air is clear, and the farmer waves at you as you pass his Holsteins.

Jared was practicing and catching up on assignments. The girls and I set off to find an new playground, the route was much like my life right now. Unexpected. Splashes of beauty. Hard hills to push the double stroller.
We came home to the sound of the university's chapel bells ringing, a call to prayer. They sound every morning and evening. When I'm quiet, I hear them. And my spirit is quieted. Even in hard times, the beauty is there.

And home is still the four of us, gathered around the table. Slurping up pasta, mashing the vegetables (that would Khaira) and sipping some wine.

Home. Together.

Simple Pasta

Start by cooking your favorite pasta. I went with a spinach fettuccine because I like the splash of green. Sun-dried tomatoes would be nice to or while wheat pasta.
While it is boiling, sauté your vegetables.
Zucchini, yellow summer squash, purple onion, garlic, red and green peppers cooked up quickly in some bacon fat.
The veggies were tossed with the pasta along with some leftover bacon from the morning's brunch.
Just before serving, I sprinkled each serving with Fundy feta. A homemade feta mixed with dulse, a seaweed that is harvested from the Bay of Fundy. I picked up the cheese from the local farmer's market and have been sprinkling it on everything.

We ate quietly. Letting the food nourish our bodies and spirits.

What good food have you had recently?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nature Walk: Atlantic Style

It started out as an ordinary walk. Down main street, past all the shops, pausing to check out the latest display in the shoe store and then moving on. Past the old church and the row of bed and breakfasts, and then the gardens stopped me.

The sculptured beds of flowers with a fountain and a weeping willow. Just through the spray of the water, I saw a a slide. We turned right.

The girls delighted with me in all the beauty.
"Look at the flowers, mummy!"

There was just enough playground and just enough nature park. Exposed roots and massive stumps made a steep hillside accessible for little legs to go up and down. 
All morning.
The littlest one was happy from her perch in the swing while I looked at the trees. 

Maple! Oak! And acorns!

And thus we had our first nature study, the Atlantic version. It still feels a little weird to actually live in Atlantic Canada. Every time I hear it, it feels so far away. Because it has been. But now it's home.

I explained to Kilmeny that the oak tree came from a little acorn. And then we were like squirrels and collected tons of the little nuts for our autumn display. We delighted in the different textures and colors. The fat ones, the green ones, and the ones missing their little caps.

We clambered up the dirt face of the hill and found a delightful little meadow with a path. Obviously we followed it. And around the bend, there were blackberries! We picked berries, Kilmeny quickly learned that the black ones were the ones to pick, not the red ones.

We went home with our treasures: berry stained lips, lots of acorns and the delight of discovering a brand new place to explore.

To take a Nature Walk:

Engage all your senses- colors, textures, smells, sounds, tastes!

Be elaborate or simple- take(when appropriate!) treasures home for a nature table or display in jars.

Let your children set the pace- Kilmeny liked collecting nuts and berries for a little bit and then she was all over the teeter-totter.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ten on Ten: September

One photo. Every hour. Ten hours.

1. Morning play time.

2. Cutting practice time, she cuts pieces for my journal.

3.Snack time!

4. Quiet time, it's a darker picture but I love the window light.

5. I write. She writes.

6. Mid-afternoon coffee with my husband, yay for schedule breaks!

7. My temporary work out mat. And her temporary work mat. She is the best 2 year old work out partner! 

8. Walk time.

9. Park time. I seriously love her curls!

10. Laundry time. I'll figure this Atlantic weather out sometime and my laundry will get dry when the sun comes out. Tomorrow.

Linking up with Rebekah of A Bit of Sunshine

Friday, September 7, 2012

Musings on a Friday at Gloaming

I've done this bit before. This whole pulling up (however deep they may be) of roots and transplanting.

It's never easy. The re/establishing of everything. Re-defining our normal. Riding the wave of emotions-falling in love one minute and thinking you could live here forever then the next moment you want to be on a plane. Anywhere but here.

And wishing somehow that you could for a little bit, have the best of both worlds. Living in the safety of the chrysalis yet feeling the freedom of wings.

It's not easy stepping out. Everyone's excited for you yet they're not going. Everyone quotes pithy sayings to you from the comfort of their living room with their life the same as it always has been, thankyouverymuch.

You long for the regulars to return yet you don't want the mundane every day. You don't want to lose the spark of discovery, the freshness of a new day when you really don't know what will come around the corner.

Sometimes its tea and chocolate with a little ice cream thrown in.
Happy food. Absolutely.

Shared with the one that you are embarking on this venture with, the one who is the tree when those mood swings come and you do a little Jane of the jungle. The one whom you would live in a tent with because with him is home. The one who sends you out for introvert time because it really has been a long day with the littles and defunct Internet installers and landlords not answering and no one had a nap.

You sit in the grey misting ( one could hardly call it rain), listening to the tip tap of little droplets, at the huge piles of wood that surely serve some purpose then just decor.
And you breathe.

In and Out.

One day at a time.

In and Out.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

On Being Here and Present

It's been a week of change, transition and simplicity. Learning (again and again and again) to be content. That enough is really enough. And home isn't about the stuff. It really isn't.

Stuff makes the four walls homey. Stuff adds character and texture. Stuff defines us. But it's not what makes us.

In preparing for this move, I thought a lot about simplicity and living on purpose. Not living in the stupid zone. Not just letting life happen but owning each day, and being a good steward of the days I have.

Now? Here I am, currently, on an air mattress covered with our beloved orange MEC sleeping bags (as an aside, if you're buying sleeping bags and wondering about buying 'the really nice ones', do it. You don't know how long and how much you'll be sleeping in them.) There's a stack of library books in one corner and two duffels in another. It's our room, minimalist to the core.

I'm so much more grateful for the little things. We were given a kettle along with a few other basic kitchen ware. A kettle? I could have wept. Granted one can always boil water for tea in a pot but a shiny, whistling kettle on the stove is so much more delightful. And two pretty mugs.

I have tons of time to figure out my house habits and to think about how I want stuff to go, where to put the bookcases and how to create an office area. I also have lots of time to just hang out with my girls. Library time, stroller time, being silly on mummy's bed time. It's so good.

To keep it all real, I don't bounce out of bed every morning super happy and grateful. I may have had just as many meltdowns as my toddler. I may have not wanted to hear about all the mature responses I could have to my current situation. But, I will always have a current situation that challenges me, that reveals stuff about me that's not always pretty.

So, I'm here. Learning again to be grateful for each day. Being aware of the simple things and delighting in them.

(written on my iPhone, pictures from down by the Bay)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

And We Found a House!

He told me not to fall in love. With the house. I laughed and met the man who would show me around.

I tried to stay calm and ask all those grown up questions one should ask when looking at a potential rental. But inwardly, I was cheering wildly.

A mantle?! Built in bookshelves?! Original , beautiful hardwood, closets by the score (well, almost), the glass handles on each and every door.

Tomas showed me the gardens, the back door, and the garbage bins.
He pointed out that the house was one of Wolfville's original apartment buildings from 1912. The previous tenant was just a few years younger then this house.

It's a short walk to the campus, a pleasant walk to downtown Wolfville and a good long walk to a nearby farm for fresh produce.

We both fell in love. We talked and talked it over and decided to say yes.
It's old. It has character. There's plenty of space for the four of us as well as guests. It has lovely little touches that I hoped for but didn't expect.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, all our stuff won't actually be joining us for several more weeks. I'm very grateful that all those rubbermaids will be making their way out here eventually. We'll be living out of suitcases for a little while longer. At least we can put our library books on the shelves and dream about staging the mantel.

It's home and I love it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

On Being Home

It's evening here in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
From the doorway of our hotel, I can see the ocean. Bright sparkling blue during the day. Mysteriously dark and quiet during the night.

It still hasn't sunk in that we live here. That this is our home.

In many ways, we're reversing what our ancestors did so many decades ago. They left the East to pursue their dreams of land, of raising their families under the prairie sky. They left their safe, comfortable life for one filled with unknowns. They were gutsy....and a little crazy.

And now we are. Back in the East.
Pursuing a dream. Part gutsy. Part crazy.
We're sorting out all the details of making it our home. First on the list: finding one.

We both fell in love with the first one we looked at and it does gave great possibility. Almost all the houses here are over a hundred years old and painted every color of the rainbow.
I love it. It feels like home here.

There was no great 'ah-ha' moment when we stepped out of the airport. It's inland so there wasn't even the tang of salt in the air to say ' hey, welcome!'

That moment came quite a bit later in our first day here. We drove from the airport to Wolfvillle, passing through wineries that were reminiscent of our time in New Zealand.
And then, I saw it.

Just Us Coffee Roasters.

When I was researching Wolfville, I learned about the coffee shop and Roastery along with the local year-round farmers market.

I smiled hugely at the barista as she prepared our drinks as if I were smiling at an old friend and enjoyed every detail of the cafe.
We found the ocean after that. The beautiful, always changing, multicolored, huge expanse of ocean.

It's lovely, it's comforting, it's home.

(I wrote this on my iPhone so the photos all end up at the bottom, forgive any other weird typos...:-)


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