October 31, 2008

Orange is not my favourite colour

Both Jem and Amber had fun dressing up for school today. Amber for the second time this week as she also went to a Halloween party on Wednesday night and had a great time.
They are both a little too old to go 'trick or treating' this year. Thank goodness we don't live in town where the residents apparently get close to a hundred groups of children/teens visiting them, many armed with a big black garbage bag which they expect to fill with treats by the end of the evening! I probably sound a bit mean and grouchy, sorry. I think the younger children are very cute all dressed up going door to door, but not the ones with facial hair, who look like they are pushing 20 years old!
This afternoon I prepared a stress free quick and easy family meal. I am the first to admit to NOT being the greatest cook in the world, but Craig and the girls seem to like my home made turkey burgers. There should even be enough left over for tomorrow, so I won't need to do any cooking when I get home.
1 pound extra lean turkey mince
2 large eggs (whisk with a fork)
1 large carrot (grated)
1/2 apple (grated)
1 medium courgette/zucchini (grated)
4-6 fresh sweet basil leaves finely chopped (dried leaves can be used) 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp sea salt
Mix all the ingredients together well, with the mince added last.
Spray a wok or non-stick frying pan with a little oil, when hot drop in tablespoon sized portions. I do 3 at a time, flattening them down with a spatula. Cook for about 3 mins each side until golden brown. Turn onto some absorbent kitchen paper before putting on a plate. Voila! Served with wholewheat rolls and a baby spinach, peach and toasted almond salad - oops I seem to be out of almonds today!

I think it's the Sweet Basil that makes them extra flavourful :)
Finally, I shall share a sad little foxy tail....
A customer contacted me a few days ago with a special request for a tiny felt fox with a 3/4 length tail! He is to represent a little fox cub called Fitz from a family of foxes, which Annika has been photographing since April. The poor little guy showed up a while ago with a third of his tail missing :( OUCH! To make matters worse he now seems to have vanished and hasn't been seen for several days. I really hope that he does show up, I will be sure to let you know if I hear any news from Annika.

Hazel x

October 19, 2008

Apples for bicycles?

Jemma and Amber spent some time on Saturday morning picking apples to help raise money through the school, for bicycles in Africa (no further details forthcoming from the girls at this point!) There was a good turn out of kids, despite the chilly early morning air as they set to work filling their buckets.
Gathering the fallen apples, destined for 'juicing'

Almost home with thoughts of hot chocolate and a biscuit :)
My mum and dad are visiting my brother Michael and his family in Adelaide Australia this week and I am really looking forward to hearing all about their first trip to the land down under. They will also be spending some time with my aunt in Sydney, a city I would love to be able to visit one day. It's strange to think that they have the whole summer ahead of them in Aussie and also in Africa when they return home, while we are making some serious preparations for winter.
Today Craig and I swept the chimney!! It was quite a complex hands on procedure requiring some strength and inginuity. Armed with an extra strong home made bag to catch the soot we proceeded to shove the custom made brush up through the chimney from the laundry room. Gradually attaching 5 interlocking fiberglass 5ft. rods to push it right to the top. It took some tricky maneuvering and we were a little apprehensive when the brush got stuck a couple of times. Running outside I was relieved to see the 'poof' of soot finally appear at the very top. Actually it wasn't nearly as messy as I had expected and my laundry is now back in use! We can now safely light our first wood fire in a week or so, without the risk of the chimney catching alight. I know we could have got the experts in to do the job for us, but where is the adventure in that I ask?!
Hazel xx

October 13, 2008


The changing colours of 'Fall'
Today is 'Thanksgiving' here in Canada. That means we all get the day off work and school - Yippee! As a family we don't usually celebrate the holiday but the girls asked if we could make a special effort this year and join in the Canadian spirit of things.
I cooked a roast chicken along with sweet potatoes, carrots and red peppers, all tossed in olive oil with a sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon. Pureed pumpkin, broccoli florets, gravy and homemade cranberry sauce on the side made for a colourful and delicious late lunch. Desert was an apple and caramel cake with maple/walnut ice cream. Unfortunately the battery is flat on my camera so I wasn't able to capture it on film.
Following our meal we played board games while laughing hysterically at random things (but you really had to be there)
Alas the sun did not shine, though yesterday was beautiful so we can't complain. Jemma went into Halifax with two friends on Saturday and we visited some new English friends at their lakeside home in the evening. Two different lots of visitors went home with bags full of our apples yesterday as well as a few baby potatoes from Craig's experimental 'potato crate'! Personally I thought it seemed like a lot of hard work for a meagre offering of spuds - but I think he had fun, especially dismantling the crate and digging in the sawdust by hand, along with his friend Greg, (boyish memories of mud pies perhaps?)
This afternoon we have (well, Craig mostly) insulated a few windows. Every little helps and the big picture windows lose a lot of heat so we have put up some temporary plastic film. The type that can be dried taut with a hairdryer. We used the stuff way back when Jemma was born, in our first home in Camberley and it worked well then.
No news on my shop this week, I have stopped promoting my animals on-line, if fact I hardly ever seem to get on the computer these days, just not enough hours in the day to do everything. My work hours at Wheaton's have been longer than I had anticipated for the last month. I apologise to my friends on facebook who I feel I have neglected recently :( I think I may need some practice at 'time management'
I actually cheated on the photo above (it was taken this time last year looking across at our next door neighbour's house and garden). Since it was taken their beautiful 'pavilion' gazebo got blown into a crumpled irreparable heap (rather like ours did in Spring!)
Hazel x

October 06, 2008

Archie, will you ever learn?

I wonder?
It's just as well he has 9 lives. Since living in Nova Scotia he has managed to get himself attacked by a Racoon, had a few near misses with fast moving trucks and has even had a very close encounter with a skunk! (not a pleasant experience). His current enemy is the stray cat our next door neighbours have adopted.
You see, Archie, being a creature of habit only goes out for about 15 minutes early in the morning at this time of year, then a couple of hours before it gets dark in the evenings. He even looks forward to his 'bedtime routine' and usually comes and meows at us a few minutes before 10pm. He is quite happy to be put to bed in his little room where he views the nighttime activities safely behind a window. The Tom cat next door however is a little more streetwise and of the nocturnal variety. He struts his stuff along our barn late at night and we have even spotted paw marks outside Archie's window. Well, all of this taunting has led Archie to seek some revenge I think. I always know something is wrong when he doesn't come home on time. Sure enough a couple of days ago he finally emerged with one eye half closed, blood stains around his neck and ears, looking very ashamed of himself. After gently wiping him down with warm water followed by a baby aspirin for the pain and a large dose of sympathy, he is once again on the mend.
Archie aside, this weekend Craig and I joined some friends and went to watch a live show featuring singer songwriter Coco Love Alcorn. Sitting in an intimate lounge setting in the Wick pub, her one off performance was a sell out. Even though jazz/folk is not usually my cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed her amazing voice and sense of humour. A very talented lady. We were even lucky enough to get a special limited edition fabric poster. Coco, along with her new hubby screen print pre-loved tee-shirts and men's cotton shirts, which they sell at various events. For this particular concert they designed just 8 posters for a select few who attended the show.On Sunday Craig and I left the girls at home and went out to buy some fresh organic veggies and fruit. Pumpkins, squash, peppers and of course apples are in abundance at the roadside stalls this time of year. Whilst out we decided to call in on a friend of mine, Terri and her husband James. Both from the UK and fairly recent immigrants to Canada like ourselves. They are in the middle of doing a big renovation project on their home as well as an extension for a tea room and very special garden. Terri is a horticulturist who worked on The Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan in the UK, so has a ton of experience and a passion for plants. Her love of William Morris was quite evident in her collection books featuring his work as well as a selection of rich wallpapers that will one day grace the walls of her home. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon spent chatting about all sorts of interesting topics. Terri grew up in Zambia and Craig in Zululand, so they had a few childhood memories in common.
We ended the weekend by splitting and stacking more wood for the winter! It's that time of year already, our hard work will hopefully pay off in the months ahead.
Craig sorting out the best logs to split in the hydraulic monster wood splitter.
As you can see, the leaves are now turning orange and even though the evenings and early mornings are a bit nippy, the sun will be shining all week. It's such a beautiful time of year.
Hazel x