Thursday, 27 October 2016

A Wreath Making Workshop!

Feast and Forage!


27 / 10 / 2016

I am so thrilled to be hosting this wreath workshop! 

Join me at Bridgeland Hall's Lantern Room, where we will spend an evening sipping Veuve Cliquot champagne and eating from tables brimming with red velvet cupcakes adorned with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and chocolate sour cherry + rosemary garnish, locally-sourced market cheeses, wintery decadence, and foraged greenery. We will eat, drink, and create our own wilderness inspired hanging wreath! All necessary tools will be provided.

It will be a beautiful evening of inspiration and togetherness. I hope you can make it!

Limited spots available.

Details:
When: November 30th, 2016
Time: 6 - 9pm
Location: Bridgeland Hall's Lantern Room 
917 Centre Avenue N.E., Calgary, Alberta T2E 0C6

Sign up by: clicking here


Photography will be provided by Fiddle + Drum Photography




Tuesday, 25 October 2016

morning donuts at bowness park + home       

25 / 10 / 2016


We woke-up early and dropped Patt off at the hospital for a check-up, so while waiting for him we stopped at Tim Horton's for some donuts and a French Vanilla, and went to Bowness Park. Seriously, does any one make donuts better than Timmies? Or French Vanilla's, or Iced-Capps? We usually come to Bowness Park to forage saskatoon berries in the summer and for pond skating in the winter months, but haven't been before during this transitional in between time. I'm so intrigued by the restaurant there, Seasons of Bowness, it looks like such a sweet place to be taken on a date (wink wink, Patrick).

When I was in elementary school for a short time while we lived in Calgary (I grew up living around the country), my family would drop my dad off at work, then take donuts and hot chocolate to a wilderness park before going to school. This is one of my fondest memories from childhood in Calgary. The weather has been so incredibly foggy here during autumn, and I'm realizing from photos posted on instagram that we truly live in a colder climate city! I'm so envious of the people who aren't wearing winter coats yet. 





Speaking of coats, our trip to Bowness was impromptu, so we just threw on whatever we had in the car. I was concerned Louise didn't have on enough layers so dressed her up in Juliette's pink sweater. It was the sweetest to see her little legs plodding along the pathway from underneath it. We weren't at the park long before Patt was ready for us to pick him up, but we managed to get this selfie on our way out.


The rest of the day was spent at home and finding pinecones at the park behind our home. Despite how serious little Lou looks in these photos she was being so funny today. She dances every chance she gets, she thinks walking is the most fun thing in the world, and she so cleverly blew on her dinner today to cool it down. She's suddenly not such a baby; its making my mama heart ache a little.



We also used our branches from Sibbald Creek to decorate our home with. Last week Patt raised and tied the pillars from our wedding arch to the deck area outside our bedroom, and we strung lanterns in between them. This afternoon the girls and I appended the branches and pinecones we collected above the lanterns. I'm so enchanted by branches and pinecones together with the candlelit glow. I love that we'll be looking out from our bedroom to their warmth over the colder months ahead.



Monday, 24 October 2016

 sibbald creek picnic + beef bourguignon


23 / 10 / 2016

While Patt worked on his truck on Sunday, the girls, my sister and I went for a wildly delicious picnic at Sibbald Creek park. We've only ever been here once before to chop down our Christmas tree and we loved the place and the experience so much that it will be an annual December tradition for us from here on out. I wanted to come back this time to forage for some fallen greenery we could decorate our bedroom and porch with, and to practice for an exciting project I have coming up.


When we arrived at Sibbald Creek we were all starving for the lunch we packed: rich and hearty beef bourguignon, toasted sesame baguette crisps, brie, apples, and hot chocolate. It sounds a little painstaking, but this was actually an incredibly simple lunch to bring, because my sister made the beef bourguignon a few days ago, and it just needed heating over the stove and packing into a large thermos just before we left. Its making my mouth water right now as I type about it, it was amazing. Yes, I LOVE FOOD, and the outdoors, and my family, so I really couldn't ask for much more when it came to this picnic. Simple pleasures. We didn't take long to find a soft grassy spot amongst the trees where we could lay our blanket and spread. The weather was warmish, but still cool as we were just below the mountains. While we ate, our dogs ran around like the great beasts they are and gnawed on the plethora of sticks available to them. The distraction of the new place miraculously kept them from our bowls, and if you know anything about black labs, you'll know that is a true miracle. After eating we foraged our greenery, walking over fallen logs and long meadow grass, it was so beautiful. Louise was enthralled by the grass tickling her face and of the soft needles of the trees within her reach.




While in the woods my sister and I talked about making our own experiences, and about being direct about the things we want in our lives. I believe that if we want something enough we can always carve out a path to making it happen. And I believe that if we follow our passions we will always be living in a way that we want to be. It so easy to think just of the negative side of possibilities, and yes, it is smart to consider risks involved so they can be mitigated, but truly, if you want something to be different, then you can make it so. I'm getting so serious, haha. Don't you think the woods are just the best place for contemplation?




Beef Bourguignon with Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 kg beef stew meat
1/2 cup bacon, diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, halved
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup red wine
2 cups pearl onions
2 medium potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1.5 litres beef stock
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp ground kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper

Directions:

Over high heat, sear beef in a stock pot in small batches. Once browned, remove from pot and set aside. Turn the temperature to medium-high heat and add diced bacon to the pot, cooking until just starting to brown. Add in diced onions and button mushrooms and saute until the onions are translucent. Add in garlic and saute for one minute more. Deglaze pot with red wine, then add in stock, pearl onions and potatoes.

In a small pot melt better. Once melted, whisk in flour until blended, then scoop one cup of the stock from the stock pot and whisk into the flour-butter mixture (rue). Mix rue into the stock pot. Once the stock pot has simmered for 45 minutes, return beef to the pot, cooking until tender (approximately 10 minutes.) Season with thyme, salt and pepper.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

nose hill park + mama's chocolate chip cookies


18 / 10 / 2016

Just behind our house, through a tunnel, is Nose Hill Park. It's proximity is the reason we bought our house, or rather why Patt bought our house (I was on a road trip with my mum in Nova Scotia when he found it- he asked me what I thought, and in what was probably my most easy-going moment ever I told him I trusted his judgement. I'm so glad I did!) We visit the park on a near daily basis, and consider it to be an extended part of our yard, so when plans fell through this morning we decided to jump into our winter clothes and go for a walk in the fog, because we all always feel good when we get out there, and because I've had a lot on my mind recently about hopes and dreams and goals I have four our family.


Since we got married Patt and I have been talking a lot about things we want to work on together, big and small, over the next few years so we can really live intentionally. We've been talking a lot about getting to the point where his work is in town, and where I am working making folkware and engaging more with others. We talk about being more connected to our community in a positive way, and volunteering as a family, about dreams we have for our home, for our daughters and for ourselves as a couple. It can be a really vulnerable thing to open up to even the person you are closest to and tell them what you hope for. Sometimes there were moments that I would worry if opening up about the big dreams I have might be dismissed as being to 'pie in the sky,' but they weren't. If anything Patt has been really encouraging, and its confidence boosting to have him believe in me, and it does make me feel closer to him.

Juliette is so curious about everything outdoors. She notices the coolest things, like the shape of leaves, or the way the snow has landed on branches. I love that she can be so free to meander, its amazing to see her explore.

So much of what I want for our children is to feel confident to explore, to forage paths for their selves, and to know that they are fully loved and supported in their journeys. 

Before making our way back home, we found a good little log to sit on and eat the chocolate chip cookies we brought for ourselves (Juliette's suggestion, fully supported by me!) The girls are really getting to the point of interacting with each other separate from me, which makes me completely sentimental. Despite Louise not talking yet, she is so communicative. She made up a sign for "more food" a couple of months ago by waving her right hand. There was a lot of waving going on when the bit of cookie I gave to her was eaten up! Its such a beautiful thing for a parent to see their children sharing.


Look at Louise's face, she's so proud to be out here with us. I normally sway towards more neutral clothing, but I kind of love how cheery their snowsuits are against the snowy background.




Mama's Chocolate Chip Cookies


Growing up, every time we visited my grandmother Mama, there would be a fresh batch of soft and crispy chocolate chip cookies waiting for us. When I was 16 years old she showed me how to make them with her own arthritic hands. There are two tricks that are critical to this recipe: 1) Make them by hand with a sturdy wooden spoon; and 2) slide the cookies on the entire sheet of parchment from the baking pan onto your countertop to let cool. 

Yields 4 dozen* 

Ingredients:
1 cup organic butter
1 cup packed golden sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 free range eggs
1 tbsp pure organic vanilla
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground kosher salt
1.5 cups chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.`

In a large bowl, use a sturdy wooden spoon to blend butter and sugars together. Once blended, mix in eggs and vanilla until fully combined. 

In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together. Slowly blend dry mixture with the wet mixture, then add in chocolate chips. 

Spoon cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, bake for 8 minutes. Slide the parchment paper and cookies onto a countertop until cooled.

* I usually bake only half this recipe, and roll the other half into tubes onto two of the sheets of parchment paper I used for baking and freeze. When company comes over unroll the parchment paper, slice up the tubes of frozen cookie dough into 1/3inch pieces and cook at 350ºF for approximately 10 minutes.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

archived post: thoughts on a saturday morning


16 / 10 / 2016

This one one of my first posts, published September 17th, 2011. It gives me a glimpse into how my life was 5 years ago- working, dreaming, raising an herb garden, trying to figure how to live my life. 
..........................


Its Saturday morning, and I am working on reports... such a difficult task on this beautiful morning. The air is brisk, but the sun keeps peaking through clouds, and it makes me want to nest. I took a little hiatus from reports to clean up the yard a little bit, and to move some patio furniture into the house. We have a funny little room beside our kitchen that has no closet, nor any electrical outlets. This is the room I want to turn into a little art studio and music room. It gets a lot of sunlight during the day; I can just imagine myself happily sitting in the room, listening to some music, and creating a little painting or bit of textile work. Wouldn't that be romantic? For right now we have made it into a little bedroom, and it will stay that way for the next few weeks, because we're waiting for P's mom to come and visit us. (can't wait!)

Last night Lottie and I took a walk after the sun had gone down for the day, and as it was becoming dark evening. I was considering this use of creative space while we walked past house upon house where the lights were low, and television screens were blaring with their penetrating neon glow. I myself had just finished watching one of my favourite shows online, "Departures," and I couldn't help wondering if we would all be much more creative, or active in our community, or more active in general, if most of us weren't watching television shows after work. Surely we would need to fill our time somehow. And would we feel more present, more energetic, if we came home from work to immerse ourselves in an activity we loved? Would we cook better meals, and eat well on a more frequent basis? Would we visit our neighbours more often to fill time, and end up involving ourselves in discussions and exchanging points of views? What did they do in the olden days?

With all that being said, I get wrapped up in tv land as easily as the next person; its nice to get caught up in a good story at the end of the day. Still, maybe I'll try out a little break from watching shows over the next month, and see what happens when I occupy my time else where.

..........................
I look at this now and think "I could have done so much with all that extra time!" But I get it... figuring life out can take a lot of energy in itself. We did cut back on television, and its rare that I spend my evenings watching Netflix, though I will definitely still get sucked into the new season of 'Downton Abbey' when it comes out. Also I do cook better meals!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

juliette and her nature walks


15 / 10 / 2016


When we were getting dressed I told Juliette I'd put a bun in her hair, and she heard this as put bunny ears in her hair- she loved that idea! She is in the time and space of living in a world completely up for interpretation; its a beautiful thing to hear her make sense of the environment around her. Two year old Juliette resides completely in the moment. She is curious about everything, asking things like "What's your name Mummy?" or "What's your hair called?" She'll refer to shared things as "Mummy's house," "Mummy's car," and Patt gets the short end of the stick with "Daddy's milk."


Juliette is now in her 'big girl bed' and wearing 'big girl panties.' She is tall for her age, and as a big sister to one year old Louise I have to remind myself often that Juliette is still so young.


One of the best things Juliette loves to do is go for nature walks. Its a testament to how much exploration the wild outdoors brings to her imagination because as we are getting ready to go outdoors she'll quiver and gasp "going. on. a. nature. walk..... It's SO EXCITING!!!" In the nature reserve behind our home she'll find dinosaurs in the hills, animal poop to inspect, roots to jump over, deer paths to follow and puddles to jump in. She uses her outdoor voice, and leads our small gang often yelling "this way please!" Seeing her blooming confidence inspired my love for parenting outdoors, and we often find ourselves eating picnics and treats just off a deer path thanks to her.

Dinosaurs up the hill! So scary!


Two year old Juliette, I'm so glad you're you.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

a birthday celebration + salted caramel cocoa cupcakes


11 / 10 / 2016

It was my husband's birthday this past weekend. If you don't mind my talking about this handsome woodsman for a little while, I can tell you I can he is one of the most dynamic people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and it thrills me that we get to spend the rest of our lives exploring and growing together.

Patt loves our family fiercely and it fills my heart because he always makes special point to spend time everyday with our girls in their worlds, doing things like playing outside, reading in bed with them, celebrating their accomplishments with sincerity, and making them know confidently that they are loved. He reminds me often of how important I am to him and what an integral part I play in our family's lives. He does wonderful things like build a headboard from wood he salvaged from a century-old prairie barn, or draws up plans for a garden of raised beds and has a dozen friends show up on a cold and rainy weekend to help build them. He can play any instrument with strings, though would never tell you that detail. He's done things like hired a chef to cook a romantic first Valentine's day for us, and lit candles everywhere, or facetimed in for birth classes every week he was away while I was pregnant, or called his 102 year old grandmother on a regular basis so that she knew she was cared about.

True to his nature, we had a quiet celebration with our little gang. We spent the morning concocting special salted caramel cocoa cupcakes, and ended the day eating Chinese food, getting the best rendition of Happy Buthdee from Juliette, and opening two gifts, both given with intention and thoughtfulness. These past years have been wild for us, and I am so thankful to have this woodsman as my partner in mapping out life together, and who will hold my hand during the times where life takes us off the map and into the woods. Happy birthday my love!


Cocoa Cupcakes


It wasn't until last year that I started making cakes and cupcakes from scratch, before then I defaulted to box cakes out of established routine. Right away the difference of the intentional dessert made itself known. A scratch cake carries with it the forgotten pleasurable, rich qualities of what a true dessert is.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups cake and pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup quality cocoa
3/4 cup canola oil
2 free-range eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin plan with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together until well combined.

In a large bowl mix together sugar, cocoa, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Stirring slowly, alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the milk to this bowl. Using a soup ladle, ladle the batter into the pan liners.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, then remove the cupcakes into a rack to cool. Once cool, ice with salted caramel frosting.


Salted Caramel Frosting


Ingredients:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp of rock salt
1 1/3 powdered sugar

Directions:

In a small sauce pot, stir granulated sugar into water until dissolved. Stop stirring and allow to boil at medium heat until dark amber in colour. Remove from heat, slowly stir in whipping cream and vanilla extract until well combined,  and allow to cool for 25 minutes.

In the meanwhile, whip butter and 1/2 tsp of rock salt together until butter is soft and light, then whip in powdered sugar until completely smooth. With a non-stick spatula combine caramel mixture to the frosting until completely folded in.

Frost cocoa cupcakes and sprinkle each cupcake with a dash of the remaining rock salt.


Saturday, 8 October 2016

first snow + whole wheat loaves


08 / 10 / 2016

The first snow fell yesterday. Patt is back from working up north, and we spent time together in our home as a family, reminding ourselves of the emotional warmth the snow can bring. Juliette and Louise were both in awe of the snowflakes falling, turning the ground around us soft and white. It wasn't long until Juliette was asking to go outside, and she was thrilled when I brought out her snowsuit from last year- it now just fitting her the way it should. While she and her Dad played outside I started making whole wheat bread and Louise worked on her new skill- walking! (She just started doing it within a couple of hours of her Dad returning home so he could see her first steps!)







Later I ducked out of the house to go to the pottery studio for a couple of hours while Patt spent one-on-one time with his girls. Driving through the neighbourhood as the snow came down gave me that sentimental thought that so many others are in their homes, fires crackling, people and pets finding the warm spots where they tuck themselves in with a hot cuppa and a good read. The first snow carries with it so many of the best moments that comes with living in a wintery climate, don't you think?


When I got home from the studio the rising dough gave our house the welcoming scent that only comes with wheat and yeast and honey. Juliette was so interested in the bread making process, asking "where's the bread? Can I see inside the oven?" We made three loaves, one for now, one for the freezer, and one for our turkey stuffing for Thanksgiving weekend.


We have a small dining room adjoined to our kitchen, and in there I sat with the girls while Patt made us sushi for dinner. The girls played with the gourds on our dining room table, and I read them books about dinosaurs. It was one of those days when nothing seems rushed or unattended to, when everything comes together just the way it was supposed to.





Three Whole Wheat Loaves


Adapted from Dinner With Julie's recipe for white bread.

I make this bread once every week or two, both because it's delicious and because its easy to make on days where I am back and forth running errands or being at the pottery studio. My two year old loves helping pour the measuring cup contents into the bowl and tearing the dough apart to make the buns.

Ingredients:

2.5 cups of warmish water
1 tbsp raw, unpasteurized Canadian honey
1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp ground sea salt
1/3 cup softened organic butter

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together 1/2 cup of the warmed water with the honey and add the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes. Good yeast will foam by that time.

Add the rest of the water and the all-purpose flour, and stir by hand until well combined. Add the whole wheat flour, sea salt and butter and, with the dough hook in place, mix at a low speed for 8 minutes. Cover the dough with a tea towel and let rise for a half hour.

Butter 3 loaf pans (or use 2 loaf pans for making bread, and one muffin pan for making buns). Divide the risen dough into three parts. Shape dough into a rectangular ball for the bread pans, and into small 1.5 inch balls for the muffin pans. Cover again with a tea towel and let rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake buns for 15 minutes, and bread for 25 minutes, or until it sounds hollow coming out of the oven. Set on a rack to cool, then tear a piece off and slather with butter.