Thursday, 10 October 2013

Hooray for Extra Long Weekends!

This week has flown by, and I'm only now finding the chance to sit down and collect my thoughts about the weekend.  The community market I participated in was a huge success.  It was a wonderful gathering of creative people and we had a great turn out.  So much positive energy!  That being said, it definitely occupied my entire weekend.  I underestimated the amount of time I required to organize, label and price my items.  This pretty much occupied the bulk of Saturday.  One small snag in my plans occurred in the form of the stomach flu!  Muffy woke up early Saturday morning vomiting.  It was really just a mild bug, but he spent the day flopped on the couch, sipping ginger ale and nibbling crackers.  Sunday, the day of the market, was busy with set up, the market itself and clean up.  Although I enjoyed it, I was definitely drained and exhausted when it was all said and done.  I'm an introvert, so being "on" for that long zaps me a bit.  I think I needed this week to just putter a bit and recharge.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, it is already time to compile my dreamy/practical list!  My long weekend actually begins tomorrow.  I'm dropping the kids off at school on Friday morning and will be sneaking off to my parents' house for a "dreamy" day in the Annapolis Valley -ALL TO MYSELF!  Daddy and the boys are meeting up with me late Saturday afternoon and we will spend the remainder of the weekend visiting, eating...etc.

Dreamy (Where do I begin?)
  • Drink tea and read magazines at my parents' quiet house.
  • Drink tea and knit at my parents' quiet house.
  • Drink tea and just sit at my parents' quiet house (you get the picture).
  • Browse the Wolfville shops.
  • Visit the wool shop and maybe pick up something for a special project.
  • Out for supper with my parent's Friday night.
  • A trip to the Wolfville Farmer's Market Saturday morning.  I rarely go here without the kids so it will be a nice chance to really relax and browse and take my time admiring all the vendor offerings.
  • Run a 10km race on Sunday morning!  This is my annual "race" I do each year.  Sometimes it is the 1/2 marathon, sometimes just the 10K.  This year my goal is to run as fast as I possibly can to see if I can beat last year's time...wish me luck!  I'm feeling pumped and energetic about it and my "rest/getaway" before hand just might give me a boost.
  • Yummy Thanksgiving dinner!  My mom is the best cook and her meals are always amazing.  It is fun (and busy) to get the four cousins together. Four boys between the ages of 6 and 8 makes a lively holiday.
  • Just enjoy visiting with everyone.  The weather looks great so there will be lots of time spent outdoors enjoying the fall colors.
  • Bake two pumpkin pies - my offering for Thanksgiving dinner this year.  I am roasting the pumpkin today and will make them on Saturday in my mom's kitchen.  I use a recipe from Canadian Living that is super yummy!
  • Do my produce shopping for the week ahead while I am in the Valley.  I always pack a cooler in the truck for a good load of fresh veggies.

That about sums it up!  Basically, I'm looking forward to some quiet time for myself AND lots of fun and visiting with family.  Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Friday, 4 October 2013


Yay, it's Friday!  Time for the Dreamy/Practical list already?  This week really flew by since it was a short school week.  Although we do have a few things in the hopper this weekend, it should be a bit more mellow than last weekend's birthday party.  I am attending the annual Cow Bay Market as a vendor.  I will be selling hand-dyed wool.  This probably falls into both dreamy and practical.

  • Spend some time knitting Chi-Chi's sweater.  It is slow going right now, but I'm in no rush to finish it.  Sometimes the larger projects are more relaxing as I don't get caught up in doing it at fast as I can.
  • My Saturday morning trip to the Dartmouth Farmer's Market for fresh veggies and a Mommy Treat.  I enjoy sneaking out of the house on this little solo adventure.   Maybe this week I'll bring home treats for all!
  • Homemade Pizza Night on Saturday - I'm taking a break from the kitchen and my husband is making pizza.  This is a tradition I'm hoping to reignite.  I pretty much cook supper 7 days a week, so I've penciled in a night off in our menu plan.  He actually enjoys the pizza making and the boys always like the make-your-own aspect of it.
  • Shop at the market on Sunday.  There are going to be some wonderfully creative people selling goods at the market and I'm hoping to drop birthday idea hints for my husband...thinking jewelry and pottery!
  • First hockey practice of the season - Yay the boys are on the same team this year.  This cuts our rink time in half.  Actually, I will put this on Hubby's practical list and I might just stay home and knit (:
  • Prep for the market on Sunday - I need to label my skeins and get everything ready for the display.  I always find pricing difficult when selling to friends and members of the community.  I need to give this some thought and get all my "goods" organized.
  • Regular prep for the week ahead, which basically involves my lunch box bulk prep.  I like to get some baking in the freezer each Sunday in order to keep my lunch box treat stash fresh.
Happy Friday!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Weekend Review

The calm before the storm.
Simple cupcakes.

Hike/Treasure Hunt!

New project cast on.

Pretty cake - but I will follow the recipe next time!

Scooters at the skate park!
I'm just decompressing today after a very busy "birthday weekend" for my boy.  His friend party was a great success, but I'm still pretty exhausted..  I kept it as simple as possible.  The fact that we hosted it in the barn made prep and clean up fast and easy.  I kicked it off with a little scavenger hunt, and then my husband took them on a one hour walk/hike/treasure hunt around our property.  I'm finding as the kids get older, you need something to keep them occupied (controlled) at these parties, otherwise things can get a little crazy.  I think the hike did the trick. They were genuinely interested and there wasn't any complaining!

Yesterday the boys had the day off school, which was really quite perfect.  We gave Muffy a new scooter for his big day, so I literally spent 4 hours at the skate park   I'm just happy to see them doing something active and outside.  I spent the time knitting my little heart out - which was dreamy in the moment, until I realized I had made an error and had to rip the whole thing out.  Regardless, I'm happy to at least have a new fall project cast on the needles.  I chose the Little Hoodlum pattern.  It's looking pretty cute!

My parents visited last night for a quieter family celebration.  I decided to pass on the coconut flour cake for now, opting for a more traditional recipe.  Muffy requested a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, so I made just that, from my new book The Homemade Pantry.  I think the cake would have been good.....if I had followed the directions.  It was far too dry.  My mom informed me that "cake flour" and regular white flour are two very different things.  I just used white flour where it called for cake flour.  Something felt wrong before I even put it in the oven,as the batter was unusually thick.  What can you do at that point?    Next time I will adjust for the different flour (decrease by about 1/2 cup) or just source out some cake flour.  Live and learn!

Looking ahead to a fairly standard week, back to school tomorrow and back to our routine.  Wishing everyone a great week!

Friday, 27 September 2013


Scavenger hunt for the party

Backyard beauty

In an attempt to keep up with my new Friday ritual, here’s the Dreamy/Practical list for the upcoming weekend.  Thanks again Mary Beth for the inspiration!  Monday is a PD day for the boys, so this is essentially a long weekend for us.  Muffy’s 7th birthday is on Monday, so it is going busy/fun.  We are having his “friend” party on Sunday and a family get-together on Monday.  He is so excited, he is literally bursting.  So here's my list....what's on yours?
·         Host Muffy’s friend party on Sunday afternoon.  Now that the parents don’t stick around for these things, I actually find them fairly easy to host.  There is less to worry about when you don’t feel like you are entertaining adults too.  The weather forecast looks great, which is a bonus.  The whole party is going to be outside and in our barn.  I’ve got a scavenger hunt planned and my husband always takes the kids on a hike/treasure hunt around the property.  He gets fun and creative with it and the kids always have fun.  Cupcakes are already in the freezer and I’ll just be serving a few nibble treats, fruit and juice boxes. Simple is key.
·         Make a cake for the family party.  I’m thinking of trying out this coconut flour cake for something new. Yikes, it takes a dozen eggs?  Any other suggestions for yummy cakes would be helpful.   
·         Cast on a fall knitting project.  Chi-Chi is asking for a cardigan hoodie.  He and I have his yarn picked out, but need to make a final decision on a pattern.  There is a cute pattern in the latest issue of Taproot that I may run by him for approval.  He’s getting pretty picky about his wardrobe these days.
·         Trip to the Dartmouth Farmers’ Market early Saturday morning, solo!  Saturday is my “day off” from working out, but I still find it impossible to sleep in.  I’m wired to be up at 5:45 am.  While the rest of the house is sleeping in on Saturday mornings, I’ve been sneaking off to the market to buy the week’s worth of veggies as well as a treat for mama.  It’s a nice escape and actually allows me to TALK to vendors/friends at the market, instead of dealing with two sweet boys wrestling in the isles (:  My favorite treat these days is a raw vegan pecan pie that I can’t resist!
·         Prep for the party…which basically means getting the barn cleaned up. I usually bring out a few kid-sized tables and chairs.  It’s going to be a bit strange this time since we have the sheep living in the barn.  They will be out in the paddock, but the barn has a “animal smell”, that I actually find rather charming (;  What will the kid’s think?
·         Regular weekend to do’s including running kids to hockey and bulk prepping lunch boxes for the week ahead.  With all the entertaining going on, I’m not expecting much to happen on the practical end of things other than party prep and party clean up.  Of course, having the party outside the house is going to keep any clean up minimal.

Thursday, 26 September 2013


Annie the sheep

Hide and seek in the hay loft

The last of tomatoes and peppers for the season
I've decided to do a little creative shuffling around this space.  I'm not that great when it comes to technology.  I think I have a hard time sitting still long enough in front of the computer to actually figure things out.  Anyway, I decided to freshen things up a bit by changing the name of my blog to "Among the Alders".   "Life on Seaside Farms II" has always felt a bit bland, and I think I chose the name in an uninspired moment!

I've touched on the name "Seaside Farms" before.  I spent my summers growing up on our family's hobby farm, Seaside Farms, in the community of Seaside, New Brunswick, Canada.  When my husband and I purchased our 16 acre parcel of land in Nova Scotia, we thought it would be fun to name it after the place I grew up.  How lucky we felt to find this rural spot just 20 km from downtown Halifax!  At the time, it was overgrown with alders and strewn with about 40 junker cars.  The cars are long gone, but the alders remain, and I have grown to love them.  We always joked around about calling this place a farm, as it was far from it at the time.  As I strolled through the yard today, I finally felt a sense that it was coming together in a very small scale sense, which is really all I want.  I recently found the definition for the term farmette/farmlet, and fell in love with it. 

A farmette is a small residential farm run by an owner who earns income from a source other than the farm. It is sometimes known as a yokelet or a farmlet.  Farmette owners are typically city workers who want to own rural land without operating a full farm. A farmette often includes a large vegetable garden, the occasional barn, tractor, and even farm or domestic animals, such as goats and cats. Farmetters usually rely on their tractor to plow or snow blow their driveways during the winter. Farmettes are usually around 50 acres.  They can have a small hog pen, a few chickens in a chicken coop or a kennel house for dogs.

I don't actually have any aspirations of becoming a real farmer.  I grew up reading Little House on the Prairie books, so I think I'm trying to live out my girlish dream of being just a tiny bit like Laura Ingles.  Farmlet really does sum things up nicely.  We have out  tiny chicken/duck coop, a little barn, a nice-sized garden and FINALLY two pet sheep (a Wool Fairy's dream come true).  It's fulfilling, yet not consuming.  It's a farmlet!  My husband read the definition and noted that we don't have a tractor.....the man wants a tractor (:

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Fall Flavours

After a very summery weekend, fall seems to be creeping in this week.  I lit the woodstove for the first time yesterday afternoon, making the house feel so warm in cozy.  It got me in the mood for “fall flavours”. 

I grew ground cherries in my garden for the first time this year.  I primarily used them as toppings on salads, but the kids also enjoyed snacking on them.  The papery husk gives you the feeling that you are unwrapping a little present from the garden – kind of fun for the boys!  I had been planning on trying a ground cherry pie, but never got around to it.  I had a small bowl remaining and thought I might pair them up with apples in a crisp.  I just tossed them into my regular apple crisp recipe.  I think it turned out fairly well.  My husband loved it, but the boys picked out the ground cherries in favor of the apples.  I topped it with Greek yogurt and maple syrup as a substitute for whipped cream.  I’ve been using Greek yogurt in place of whipping cream and haven’t heard any complaints so far.  Maybe it’s the maple syrup on top (:  No yogurt for me, of course, with my dairy-free experiment in the works.
Tuesdays are relaxed in our house because we have no after-school activities.  Since I wasn't on the run, I was able to roast a chicken for dinner while the boys puttered, played and had before supper baths.  I have been thinking more about incorporating a pattern in my meal planning.  Roast chicken on Tuesdays would mean leftovers on Wednesdays and soup on Thursday.  I think it might be my new kitchen rhythm for the fall (or at least until everyone is sick of chicken!!).
Anyone else have creative uses for ground cherries or favorite fall desserts?  Pumpkin pie is next on my list with Canadian Thanksgiving just a few weeks away. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Chocolate Chunk Yummies


A favorite lunch box treat these days is chocolate chunk cookies.  I have been making double batches and freezing them (aka hiding them from my husband) so they are on hand to pop in the lunch boxes each evening.  I’ve been experimenting a bit lately with different chocolate chip cookie recipes as I’m currently trying out a 6 week dairy free period for myself.  I recently started using the Enjoy Life brand of chocolate chips, and they are getting a thumbs up from all my little taste testers.  Although they are certainly still a treat, they have a more “pure” ingredients list than the Chipits I used in the past.  Since my mom was asking for the recipe, I thought I’d just share it here (:  I’m not sure where I got the original recipe, but I have made some adjustments to make it dairy free.

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup Earth Balance “butter”

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla

1 ½ cup oats

1 cup flour (I did ½ white, ½ whole wheat)

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Bake at 375 Celsius for 8 minutes.

I like to pull them out before they seem cooked to ensure a chewy texture. Yum, these are tasty!


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Weekend Review

Fall nature table.  I love taking out the same little treasures year after year.

A favorite stop on our way to visit the cousins!

Burgers, milkshakes and onion rings....Daddy would be jealous of this treaty lunch!

Checking out the pond creatures.

Wharf spider - this guy was aggressive!
So fun to ride on a paved road.  Star Wars man in the back cracks me up!

Successfully dressed in full battle gear. 

Roadside score!

Overall, I would say our weekend was a great one, especially considering the fact that Daddy was away on business…..AND I had to navigate through hockey tryouts by my lonesome.  I successfully strapped on a full set of goalie gear for the very first time.  It may have taken me an hour and four tries that initial attempt, but I pulled it off.  Phew, I’m glad that is behind me.  At least I know how to do it now so no more excuses I guess!  In our house, hockey falls under “Daddy’s Department”. 
On Saturday we enjoyed a wonderful visit with my sister and her family.  Although she only lives about 45 minutes away, we don’t see each other nearly enough.  The four boys always have loads of fun and this visit was no exception.  My two are always pumped to be able to drive their bikes on a paved driveway and road!  This is pretty exciting compared to our bumpy old gravel driveway.  Patient Uncle P was kind enough to spend the afternoon “fishing” with them (not a bite, but no one seemed to care).  I just enjoyed the chance to be outdoors to enjoy a summery-feeling fall day.
Today my parents came up for a visit to meet their new “grandchildren”.  We got a couple of lambs a few weeks ago, so formal introductions were in order.  I actually named one of them Annie after my mother, for the granddaughter she’ll never have (:  Nanny and Grandpa treated us to a yummy Thai dinner.  The two hockey players actually filled their bottomless pit tummies!
I can’t say I accomplished much on the practical end of things.  I did pull off a batch of chocolate chip cookies for this week’s lunchboxes.  I made a great score on free roadside “garbage” to assist in my entry way organization.  This old shelving unit was cast aside a few doors down and I could not resist.  It is absolutely perfect for organizing the ever-growing supply of family footwear.  Yay!  I do love free garbage (:

Friday, 20 September 2013


After taking an extremely long break from this space, I have the sudden urge to get back into my habit of blogging.  Truth be told, I find it helps me feel a sense of gratitude in my life.  Looking back over old posts gives me a boost of positivity.  It helps me see all the good in my life in a very physical sense.  I also enjoy being part of a greater blogging community of like-minded people, trading ideas and inspiration. 
With that, I have always loved the Dreamy/Practical lists that Mary Beth of Salt and Chocolate puts together.  It helps her head into her valuable weekends with a sense of balance.  I’m a big list maker, so her approach really appeals to me.  I like the idea of focusing on both the fun and “work” aspects of a weekend.  I have a tendency to get bogged down with to-do lists of chores, so working the dreamy aspect of life into my to-do list is a good habit.  I think it will give my weekends a better sense of focus and balance…allowing me to get them most out of them.

This weekend’s list is pretty light so far…


·         Take a beach walk with the boys.

·         Set up the fall nature table (with help from the boys).

·         Special eat out lunch date to their favorite restaurant.

·         Visit with my parents and dinner out!

·         Visit my sister and her family.


·         Get a bit of bulk cooking done for the week ahead (granola and lunchbox cookies and muffins for the freezer)

·         Tidy up the garage entry way – putting away unused summer gear.

Happy Friday!