2014, what a year! 2015, the year I eat pickled beets on a regular basis!


I year during which I only posted once.  Yup, just once.  And what a busy year it was!  I didn’t even finish any quilts, though I did make lots of progress on a massive one due to be completed soon.  I also did a ton of canning during the late summer and early fall, something I’ve been enjoying ever since.

Today I finally got around to doing something that has been on my to-do list for awhile: make pickled turnips! You know those pink crunchy spears in lebanese pitas?  Yup, those ones.  Unlike dill pickles and strawberry jam, there aren’t tons of recipes floating around the internet.  Most of the ones I’ve found have been refrigerator pickles, which is all fine and dandy, but if I’m going to go to the work of working with beets, I’m want to be able to enjoy the benefits for a long time.  Plus, I can imagine getting all pickled turniped out at some point.  So I cobbled together a few recipes I found and went according to taste and experience.  I can’t recommend you follow my recipe, because canning is tricky like that and you should always follow a tested recipe (or at least that’s what all the guidelines tell you), but when a tested recipe doesn’t exist . . . proceed at your own risk. I am trying to be better about recording my cooking experiments, in the hopes that I can recreate or tweak them in the future.

So here are my notes I took:


Translated so I can remember what I did later:

– Cut turnips into batons, garlic into thin slices and beets into slices.

– Place turnips in jars along with a few pieces of garlic, beets and a pinch of dried hot peppers (I like things hot).  (Note to self: it seems some of the jars don’t have enough beets to make the turnips pink to my liking, check again over time to see how much colour transfers and adjust in future as necessary).

– Make a brine and heat.  Pour into jars, wipe rims, put on lids and process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Proceed as usual.

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It’s been awhile . . .

To say life has been hectic is a bit of an understatement.  I’ve been meaning to write this post since oh . . . April maybe?  It was going to talk about how our never ending winter had zapped all the energy out of me and how I wasn’t feeling particularly creative.  I was still walking to work everyday at an attempt to spend time being active outdoors in the daylight, and I was snapping pictures of just how bleak things were.  Here are some of them:


imageAnd then, right when never ending winter was ending, our landlord started doing masonry work on the facade of our building.  It was much needed work so I’m not debating the fact that it had to be done, but from a tenant impact situation . . . it sucked.  What it meant was that the facade was covered in scaffolding, and the windows covered in plastic.  When we were at home, it felt like the never ending winter never ended, because all we saw was a slightly translucent white plastic through our windows, which let in a sort of filtered light.

Then, I got really excited because Bixi season began in mid April!  The first day was great, I zipped along to work.  Then the next morning, it was a teensy bit icy out but I felt I would be just fine to ride to work.  WRONG!!!  Coming down a turn in the bikepath I hit a small patch of ice and spun out, landing right on my shoulder with the bixi on top of me.  It hurt like mad and I thought I was going to either puke or pass out, so I sat down on the (very very cold) curb and called Dave to come meet me.  He docked the bixi for me and came with me to the ER.  The verdict: I broke my shoulder!  Yikes!

The pain of a broken shoulder is bad enough, but on top of that it meant 1) no more biking and 2) our upcoming trip to Italy and Istanbul was at stake.  #1 I could deal with. #2 made me extremely anxious.  Several years ago we had planned a family trip over Christmas to Jamaica.  The week before we were supposed to leave my mom slipped on ice and broke her wrist in several places.  She required surgery, and needed to stay home.  My sister and I went anyways, and that was probably the saddest trip I have ever taken.  It’s hard to believe someone could be sad while in a Carribean island, with all you can eat and drink, but when you’re surrounded by families celebrating Christmas, and you’re anxiously awaiting an email from your dad to tell you how your mom’s surgery went, well, it’s pretty darn sad.  But did this happen to me?  Nope!  My ortho appointment a week later confirmed I was fine to go on my trip, so off to Italy and Istanbul we went!


So if that wasn’t enough excitement, towards the end of the never ending winter WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!! That was a complicated time of figuring out dates (since we’d be gone for just over two weeks, and then a week later Dave would leave on a close to two week business trip), frantic phone calls and emails to the bank to make sure we were able to meet all the conditions of our offer (we needed to get financing through a different bank than the one we got preapproved by, a peculiarity of buying an undivided condo, something I may revisit in the future, because I found that there was a lack of resources explaining how this worked on the web, from a personal experience point of view), extreme long distance and roaming charges contacting our insurance while in Italy, to be able to get on to the building’s common fire insurance policy, and then the power of attorney process (because in the end I had to sign the deed of sale for both of us because the closing date was when Dave was on vacation).  Oh and pack up our apartment with only a semi functional left arm (I wasn’t yet cleared to lift anything of significant weight with it).  Fun times!



But now, life is pretty good.  We’re moved in, it’s hot and sunny outside, my arm is more or less healed, and I’ve got great memories from our trip.  Not much more I could ask for!

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Mission Accomplished: Danish dough hook acquired!

I love online classes.  I like learning, but I also like spending time at home/don’t always have tons of time to devote to spending a couple of hours a week in one specific location.  So I’ve taken a few more serious online classes recently.  As I was finishing up a class on Emotional Intelligence I decided it was time for some fun, so I enrolled in a Croissant making class on Craftsy.  And then these happened:

2013.08.03 - homemade croissants and chocolatines

Yum!  They turned out quite well, for a first attempt.  Before attempting them I had watched all the lessons, and then gone out to source ingredients and special tools.  I had a lot of the basics, and bought myself a bench scrapper, but I wasn’t able to find a Danish Dough whisk.  Not owning a stand mixer didn’t deter me though, so I just used a wooden spoon and some elbow grease and made do. But I had that Danish dough whisk on my mind.  So every kitchen type store I would pass, I would stop in to see if they carried them.  And finally this weekend I had success!

I found my Danish Dough whisk at La Soupiere on Mont-Royal.  Quite a bit less expensive than those I looked at on Amazon too.


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New Brunswick 2013

After our stop at Lac Temiscouata we headed on to New Brunswick to spend a week relaxing with family.  Here is a taste of what we were up to:

An afternoon at the beach:

2013.08.27 - beach afternoon!

Beautiful sunsets:


Blueberry picking:

2013.08.28 - blueberry picking!

Eating poutine rapée and fricot:


Eating fried seafood!


Exploring in the rain:

2013.08.29 - wet!

Exploring in the sun:


Definitely a nice and relaxing time!

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Camping at Lac Temiscouata

About every second summer we try to head out East to visit with Dave’s extended family in the Moncton area.  This year we had the idea to drive out, and stop for a few days at the brand new Sepaq Lac Temiscouata, that opened in June of this year.


A little bit of a warning: although the lake is right nearby to highway 85, it is quite a drive to get to the park itself!  The park is located “on the other side” of the lake, meaning once you get off the 85, you’ve got about an hour of driving on secondary roads ahead of you.  On top of that, the last 10km or so before officially entering the park is on winding gravel roads.  It isn’t horrible, but it’s good to know.  Even once you’re in the park, there’s a sizeable drive on nice paved road, the wiggles back and forth to get to the camping area.

It’s all worth it though, because the camping is really nice!  The sites are all quite large, and relatively private.  The bathroom facilities are pristine.  The lake is but a short walk away.  And the people!  The staff at this Sepaq are extremely friendly and all seem really happy to be doing their jobs.  It was refreshing to meet such happy people.


As at other Sepaq’s, there are morning discounts on watercraft rentals, for campers.  At this park the special was on kayaks.  Dave and I each rented a kayak and explored.

2013.08.25 - kayaking on lac Temiscouata
We also went for a hike during our stay, to the Sutherland Falls.  To get to the trailhead from the campground requires quite a drive, part of it on gravel roads.  Once we started to hike, we were a bit surprised it was classified as intermediate, as it seemed quite easy, with a well groomed path with little change in elevation.  As the hike went on though, we understood why it was intermediate: there was quite a lot of change in elevation and a lot of rock to step on and over.  We were rewarded by seeing some beautiful falls.  Of course I seem to have deleted those photos . . . you’ll just have to trust me when I say they were worth the hike.

Overall I thought it was a great park!  All that they are missing are some rustic camping areas and they will be all set.

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Camping at le Vallonnier, Orford

2013.07.26 - on the way! almost there!

For our second camping trip of the season we decided to try something a little more adventurous than Oka.  After last year’s l’Entremont adventure, we knew we could handle a big hike, but didn’t necessarily want to do something of the same calibre as the hike to l’Entremont.  Le Vallonnier was perfect for what we wanted.


The hike to the site wouldn’t have been too bad if we hadn’t made a wrong turn . . . oops.  Instead we found ourselves at a “Welcome to Orford!” sign with a “You are here!” map that pointed out our mistake.  At least it was a pleasant walk along the gravel bike path.  We discovered where we went wrong: the path that branches off from the bike path doesn’t have the Vallonnier indicated as a destination.  We did the hike several times over the weekend, and on average it took us about 45 minutes to go from the parking to the site, which we felt was a nice distance.  The path (apart from the gravel bike path) is quite rocky, and goes up and down quite a bit, but was do-able for us with our packs.  I wouldn’t want to do it carrying lots of duffle bags or a big tent bag though, as some of the people we met did.


The site itself is quite nice.  A total of 14 sites are laid out on the side of a hill, some lower down and some higher up.  All have raised platforms for setting up a tent.  There is only one communal fire pit, surrounded by benches and picnic tables.  The evenings we were there a little less than half the sites were occupied, and probably about half of the campers came down to the communal area at some point.  It was nice to be social while camping, rather than confined to our site.

The SEPAQ network offers an interesting rebate to campers: before 11am, boat rentals are 50% off.  We took adventage of this and rented a canoe.  I can’t remember the last time I canoed (if ever?), and was glad that Dave could direct me in what to do.  I just kept thinking “it’s sort of like a dragonboat, but not”.  It was a lot of fun to paddle out into the middle of lake and observe everything going on around us.

2013.07.27 - Dave carrying up the rear

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Camping at Oka: 2013 edition

We decided to start out our 2013 camping season at Oka, for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because it’s so close to Montreal.  Our car was giving us problems, and we didn’t want to be far from the city in case something happened to it.  Plus Oka is a nice combination of full service campground, but in a natural setting, so its good for testing out our equipment for the season.  We went Canada Day weekend.

We brought our bikes along with us, and had a great time biking the park.  We biked over to the Grande Baie parking lot, parked our bikes, and walked down the trail to the water.  There’s an observation tower, and a walkway leading out into the water.  We were not quite alone, we passed small groups of people hiking, but it wasn’t the masses like over near the beach area, and in the camping areas (it was a long weekend after all).



As per the usual, our little two person hiking tent served us well.  Dave’s hammock did not.  I’m starting to think that if we keep this up, it might be a good idea to purchase a larger tent we can use for car camping, when space and weight isn’t an issue, that allows us more space for hanging out.  Something along the lines of the MEC Cabin 4 or 6 tents.


2013.06.29 - scrabble by candlelight

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Vacation time!

I’ve been a little tardy in recapping our latest vacation.  With good reason, I returned home to some unhappy news, and for awhile things were in “put one foot in front of the other and the rest will sort itself out” mode.  So thankfully the month that was May is now done and June and July as well, so I think it’s high time I did a quick recap of the week of relax, the week that prepared me for what was to come.

We stayed at the Paradisus Rio de Oro.

During our bus ride from the airport we were greeted by a rainbow:

2013.05.08 - our arrival

The accommodations are located in small blocks of buildings, very much like little condo buildings:

Being an all inclusive, drinks are free.  We sampled lots of different cocktails:

We spent a lot of time swimming in the pool:
2013.05.13 - this is the life!

And walking on the beach:

One of the great things about the Rio de Oro is that room service is included:
Overall, a really relaxing and wonderful vacation!

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CSA started this week!

Here is all the loot from this week (#1!) pickup:

2013.06.19 - week #1 csa haul

It feels so good to get back into getting weekly farm baskets.  I had been doing weekly Lufa baskets in anticipation of the local (outdoor) CSA season starting up, and while they are a lot of fun, and a great service, they just aren’t the same.  There’s something about having a direct relationship with the farm (it’s my fourth year!  you get to know people after awhile!), and learning what is currently being harvested locally from the ground that makes it special.

This year my CSA did something new and very special: they had a seedling day!  The timing really wasn’t working out for me, but I’m so glad I made the necessary arrangements to attend.  It was held out at the farm in Farnham smack in the middle of May, so I dropped Dave off at his motorcycle lessons and braved the traffic (half the lanes on the Champlain bridge were closed for construction).  And I’m so glad I made the effort because it was very exciting seeing the farm (previous year’s visits had similarly bad timing), and also to buy seedlings to plant at home.


Here is one of several planters on my balcony.  This one is filled with lettuce.  Others have spinach, herbs and more lettuce.  There’s a certain sense of pride of digging into lunch when I know the lettuce in my salad was grown on my balcony.

2013.06.13 - balcony farm

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Things I’ve been digging lately: May 2013

2013.04.28 - testing out a new quilt

– I’m starting a new quilt (see above!) using the Inside Out pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew.  It’s pushing me out of my comfort zone, piecing tiny rectangles.

– The days are getting longer!  So excited about this.  My body has been waking up pretty early, meaning it’s easier for me to get to work early (and sometimes even leave early).

– Reconnecting with old friends.

– Getting excited to go on vacation.  Going through all my warm weather clothes in anticipation.

– Weekly Lufa farms baskets.  They have recently switched up their format, and no longer require a multiple week subscription.  This is a great warm up to CSA season.  And there’s something awesome about knowing the food I am consuming was grown merely a couple of kilometers away from the heart of the city where I live.

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