Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Deer" Visitors and Short Story Award

On Sunday, I was in the living room when I noticed something moving up the street in front of our house. These three confused creatures were wandering around the neighbourhood. I was able to get close enough for this photo before they disappeared into suburbia.

Over the weekend, I was honoured to be awarded first place in the Writers' Ink/Recorder and Times Short Story Contest for my entry "Getting Set." My story will appear in the Recorder and Times in early November.

Check out the link below:


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Naturally Healthy Babies and Children

I keep meaning to write about one of my favourite parenting books. I signed Naturally Healthy Babies and Children out from the Brockville Public Library when Kieran was a baby. I loved it! It gave me so much confidence in dealing with small health concerns such as colds, thrush, and other ailments. Her common sense approach gives suggestions for prevention that includes consideration of children's mental wellness as well. I ordered the book from our local bookstore and it's become quite worn over the last three years.

I've even emailed her personally when Kieran's seizures returned. She responded immediately with some helpful suggestions but was honest about her range of knowledge (love that!)

She has a website that's interesting to check out as well:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kid-Friendly Yam Fries

I bought ten pounds of yams from Clover Gardens in Soperton. I've had luck getting my young foodie to eat them in the form of "fries."

I found this recipe in my copy of ExtraVeganZa: Original Recipes from Phoenix Organic Farm by Laura Matthias. I highly reccomend both the book and the recipe (which I shortened a little).

Baked Paprika Yam Sticks

3-5 yams
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
dashes paprika and nutmeg

Slice the yams into wedges--place in a bowl and coat with oil and spices--spread onto a cookie sheet--bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes--bake longer for crispier fries

I just have to say that one of my best parenting discoveries has been books on tape/CD. We have signed a bunch out from the library and they provide a wonderful alternative to television. In fact, I'm writing this post in peace thanks to Curious George Goes Camping. I'm also pleased, and somewhat reluctant, to report that the Brockville Public Library has Skippyjon Jones on CD! Our caregiver said that she couldn't get the song out of her head at three in the morning the other night.

Now, Kieran approaches me, extends his arm imploringly, and exclaims, "Not your beans!"

Holy frijoles!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Thousand Island Writers' Festival

Today, I attended the first Thousand Islands Writers' Festival. Thanks to Leeds County Books for giving me a ticket! I could only go for a little while because of conflicting schedules but I'm glad I made it.

Carol Ressor, author of The Paris Magdelene, was the first writer I heard speak. She discussed her research of Leonardo Da Vinci and Mary Magdelene as well as the challenges of braiding three narratives into one novel.

Garth Wallace, author of Wing Nuts, a collection of stories about flight school, kept the room laughing his acount of "Margaret", an eldery, and rather daring, flying student with whom he worked. The fact that I know absolutely nothing about airplanes and flying but was still captivated by his narrative proves his storytelling ability.

They had to bring extra chairs into the Brockville Courtroom because numbers were higher than anticipated. Hopefully, that's a sign that this continues to be an annual event.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our Hero: Skippyjon Jones

I can't believe that we've never met Skippyjon Jones before. Thanks to my friend, Klaudia, we've met the funniest little Siamese (Spanish-speaking) cat. She gave us one of his books when we needed a laugh the most. We read it three times this morning. So fun!

If you haven't read a Skippyjon Jones book, find one. Read it out loud. Read it now.


Thanks Klaudia!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The night Kieran wore his kangaroo suit

and made mischeif of one kind

and another

his mother called him "WILD THING!"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Walks

When the sun peeked through for just a moment, we dropped everything and fled the house for a wonderful rambling walk with Nanny and Poppy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


So thankful for...
the intense way my dad peels turnips and then chops it into tiny cubes (even though it's going to be mashed)

the fall harvest

playing in the leaves

fall colours

dinner with friends and family (and cars)


my husband and all his mad scientist renovations
dewy spider webs
our cat napping in sunshine
morning coffee
evening tea
garter snakes
writing the perfect paragraph
our jobs
thank you for days spent surrounded by childhood

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Grand Finale

Tonight was our finale dinner to our 7-Day 100-Mile Diet Challenge. We had a great time. There were eight adults and five boys between 3-8 years old. The food turned out well and the conversation ranged from reflection to pontification. A good time was had by all.
A true celebration of food!
The menu for this evening:
Salad Greens from Clover Garden
Potatoes from Clover Garden
Corn from Corn Acres Farm
Chicken from Wendy's Mobile Market
Turkey Sausage from Lyon's Turkey Farm
Trout from Wendy's Mobile Market
Watermelon from Patchwork Gardens
Wine (Elderberry and Rhubarb) from Countryman Estates
Jackie's scarf stylishly pulled together the raspberry, purples, and pinks worn by all the women. These colours coincidentally matched the super slaw.

Being on T.V. is just about as exciting as it gets for five boys! There is no better occasion to play the kazoo.

Watermelon for dessert. Again. It was delicious but I've eaten so much watermelon this week, I won't mind not having any until next season.

Brenda about to enjoy a plate full of local, organic (mostly) fare.

All the boys gave Fifth Town goat's milk a try. Kieran had yogurt instead.

Mike is warming up for his rant. Jim is contemplating the unfortunate analogy he would make later in the evening. Shari braces herself. Terry wisely decides to stay out of it.
Nothing like a good drum rhythm to start off a night of dinner with friends.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Writers' Club

Once a week I meet with two wonderful friends to share and critique each other's writing. It is because of these two women that I was able to complete my novel.

Having their honest criticism (I hope!), companionship, and encouragement helped me plug along. I've also learned so much from both of them, both about writing and about life.

I'm amazed that this continues to happen week after week, despite the demands of teaching and parenting and all that other stuff.

We have a lot of laughs and we've also cried a bit. It's been a rough few years for me but I
always leave my writers' circle a little lighter
...but with warm wine cheeks.

Yesterday was not a good meal from the 100-Mile perspective. I had a busy evening so I had to prepare something quick. That's when I pulled out my frozen carrot soup made ahead of time and tried to make a fritatta--but it's hard to make a fritatta when there are only two eggs because one's husband has eaten a dozen in just five days in an attempt to replace carbs. So, the fritatta was flatatta but the soup was good...at least I liked it.

I made the Herbed Carrot soup from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. I used to make this when I was a university student. I remember buying organic carrots once at the farmer's market and marvelling at how knarled they were. This recipe can be made with no oil, which is helpful in the absence of olive groves (still hoping).

I used carrots from Clover Gardens in Soperton. Dave and Barb Alguire are dedicated to producing delicious food. These carrots are divine. I didn't think it was possible for me to prefer carrots over chocolate, but these orange vegetables are perfect.

In this recipe, I removed all non-local ingredients and it worked. Here's my locavore version. It's also vegan, a welcome relief for me after a fairly carnivorous week.

Herbed Carrot Soup

2 lbs carrots
1 medium potato
4 cups water or veg stock
1 tbls, butter (optional)
1 cup chopped onion
2 medium cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp thyme*
1/2 tsp oregano*
1 tsp basil*

*dried--although I made mine with fresh and just used a little more.

Peel and chop the carrots and potato and place them in a med-sized saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender (10-15 min). Heat some water in a frying pan and "saute" the onions for 5 minutes. Add garlic, herbs and cook until onions are soft. Blend everything until smooth. Re-heat in a big pot until simmering.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Apple Orchard

Today is applesauce day. We went to Hall's Apple Orchard to pick some Cortlands, MacIntoshes, and Lobos.

We convinced Kieran to pull one off the tree--he wasn't so sure.

Running between the trees was lots of fun.

We picked thirty pounds!

For breakfast, we had buckwheat pancakes. The buckwheat came from Cherryvale Organic Farm and the goat milk was from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co. We used Gibbons maple syrup. Delicious.

Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
dash of salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, bp, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, syrup, and milk. Beat well. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Heat buttered griddle (frying pan) and cook until top is bubbly. Cook slowly on the other side until golden brown.

OR throw all ingredients into a blender and give'er.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Featherstone Bison Farm

One of the things that excited me most about the 100-Mile Diet was meeting local producers. This morning, our family set out to Gananoque to meet Harold and Nancy, owners of Featherstone Bison Farm. They have 60 head of bison.

The bison are pastured on a huge acerage throughout the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter, they are supplemented with hay (1-2 bales per day) but they require no shelter. Harold explained that they are accustomed to prairie winters. They are given no hormones or anti-biotics.

Pheobe, a fifteen-year old border collie, learned many years ago that bison don't like to be herded. She still tries to boss them around, but they don't listen. As fluffy and friendly as the bison appear, Harold and Nancy made it clear that they cannot be approached. They are quite dangerous--both males and females have horns. The alpha female stared me down. Yikes.

Harold prepared a bison roast in his adobe oven. It was wonderful. The meat was flavourful, tender and lean. Bison meat must be cooked only to rare or medium rare because it is so low in fat. We also enjoyed a glass of fresh apple and carrot juice.

As you can see, the herd was breathtaking.
Day Three wasn't our best day in terms of sticking to our challenge. Mike was extremely ill last night, presumably from caffeine-withdrawl. My headache also persisted. Mike researched the symptoms and found that they can persist for 3-9 days. Because we have to parent and work with kids at school, we decided that we would have one cup each morning. Hopefully, we can continue to drink less coffee after the challenge.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wine, Pumpkins, and Wild Boar

It's Friday. The day my husband and I cherish our glass of wine or cold beer the most. After school, we decided to head out to Countryman's Estate Winery in North Augusta to try some fruit wine. We purchased elderberry, August Mystique, rhubarb, and wild pear wine. Tonight, we tried the Augusta Mystique. It's really good.

Again, if we hadn't signed up for this challenge, we may never have made this trip. Now, it's a place we hope to visit again.

Despite the rain, we had some time to enjoy the fall sights: pumpkins!

And more pumpkins!
We had the Mulville Boys (no, they aren't bank robbers) over for dinner. On the menu tonight was Wild Boar Stew and corn-on-the-cob. I'd never had wild boar before. The meat was so tender and flavourful, but we didn't find it gamey. Despite the delicious meal, Mike and I both still feel hungry, like there's something missing. I think it's the sugar and carbs.
Have I mentioned the INTENSE headache we both have from caffeine withdrawal? Blinding.
Wild Boar Stew:
3 carrots
1-2 parsnips
3 potatoes (I used blue ones--very cool looking)
2 onions
1 lb of wild boar meat, cubed (available through Wendy's Mobile Market)
3 cups of stock
Put everything is a slow cooker for eight hours. The whole dinner took me ten minutes to prepare.

A Morning Cuppa

We'll, it's the morning of our second day. We enjoyed a delicious dinner last night. The baked beans were worth the effort. Tonight we're having a crock pot stew. It was strange having cameras focused on us while we ate dinner and of course, Kieran wouldn't eat. He just mashed up a muffin and dumped it on the table cloth. Maybe people will confuse the show with Supernanny.

However, the folks from COGECO were so nice that it made it fun. And Mike is a closet actor. I almost felt like I was sitting next to Brad Pitt when he spooned my helping of beans onto the plate and said, "Is there meat in this?" Very smooth.

Rick (from Wendy's Mobile Market) delivered our groceries and brought a pumpkin for Kieran. We ordered some things we hadn't tried before: goat milk from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co. and apple cider vinegar from Hall's Apple Orchard. The leeks from Patchwork Gardens look amazing and we're eager to try the blue potatoes from Wendy. We had a nice surprise from Corn Acre Farms. The dozen corn will be great for a get-together with friends on the weekend.

Kieran loved the watermelon. It's huge and I'll have to invite a bunch of people over to eat it because it will never fit in my fridge once I cut it. Kieran says it's a dinosaur egg. He's waiting for it to hatch.

I live in a house of morning people (and morning cats) so I'm always the last one downstairs. I was delighted to see that my husband had boiled some eggs (from Re-Think Family Farms) and sliced some apples for me. The kettle was whistling...for tea. Sigh.

So...about the tea...I'm drinking Funny Duck Farms "Everyday Tea."

Everyday tea is just that...an everyday tea for men, women, and children of all ages. Both flavourful and nourishing, this tea will leave you feeling balanced, even in the midst of chaos.

I just finished a cup. The tea is lovely and most certainly nourishing, but I'm waiting for something. Actually, I'm waiting for the caffeine buzz, the buzz that will never come...

100-Mile Diet Challenge, here I come!

As soon as I wake up.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Clean Beans

Good news! There's going to be fewer rocks in the beans this year. Although, sadly, that will take away my meditation time. I'm happy because they are so good but I didn't really mind the sifting.