We arrive to the nest at 11pm to find a dozen hens clucking about today’s news and yesterday’s stories.

From intestines and binding stories to salt cod suppers and liquor store jelly, to doe and stag Christmas moments and early morning ‘hat lamp’ lit strolls.

Tales were told and stories were spun around a kitchen table filled with food, drink, laughter and friends.

Then the morning comes early and I smile when I hear the rain fall. Maybe it’ll rain a little longer and we’ll start our day a little later.

The rains lets up a bit and we rise early, careful not to drag our feet as we make our way to the table for a bowl of oatmeal.

Plans are made and dreams are shared of a place for friends and family to gather round.

I am reminded of the value of hard work – the value that was instilled in me early in my childhood when my family gave their all to provide us with a warm home.

They clean up well!

Hard work is my Father coming home from a day at work, only to head up to the field and spilt wood.

Hard work is my Mother caring for her father during a most trying time.

Hard work is my Father making the last piece of wood to be shifted feel like fun for a child by asking, “Is this the one you were looking for?”

Hard work is my Mother staying up late to make lunches and rising early to make breakfast before a long day of clearing land.

Hard work is my Father changing his daughter’s car tires after a long day of back bending chainsaw work.

Hard work is my Mother making breakfast for her kids before they leave and sending them off smelling like a bakery with a reminder of how precious family is.

Going through the mountains.

Heading East.

Snowshoeing in Saskatoon!

Clear skies in the prairies.

There is a reason they called it a Fit.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Beach walk at Green Bay.

Polish & Gaelic

Babunia's Bookshelf 2008

I’m working on my Polish again, which is something I have been doing for the last 4 years or so. It’s proving to be a tricky language to learn, but what I do know is that if I look angry and speak in a fairly stern voice, I can sometimes pronounce the words correctly – even the most heartfelt words sound proper that way! My inspiration to try and pick it up again has come from my dad, who lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He recently decided to sign up for Gaelic lessons. He grew up in a home where Gaelic was spoken often, if not always (his mom, my grandmother, grew up in a home where it was the only language spoken!).

The teaching style for these lessons totally suit his learning style. It’s called TIG (Total Immersion Gaelic) and from what I understand it is conversational Gaelic and their classroom is anything but traditional! About 10 local community members all meet once a week at one of the student’s homes, where that student hosts the class for the day. Everyone arrives around 10am and is welcomed into the home with a hot cup of tea and a plate of biscuits. The instructor then begins the lesson, which lasts all morning until the host student makes lunch for the group at noon and they finish up the conversation around 3pm.

My dad told me over the weekend that he just got his recorder, which will allow him to tape the lesson so he can study throughout the week. He also uses the tapes to teach my mom what he’s learned and has been teaching me key phrases and words when we chat over the phone. It turns out that one Gaelic phrase that most East Coasters know, ‘Puck-Ma-Hon’ which translates into ‘Kiss My Arse’, actually sounds more like ‘Scraep-Ma-Hon’.

Like I said, he’s been teaching me key phrases!

Dad mixing up hot drinks at our family's Annual Boxing Day Brunch.

Who inspires you?

Bob loves pomegranates. The only thing he loves more is when his big sister asks him to peel them first thing in the morning!

winter walk

well, isn't he his father's son...

new hiking poles!

2nd generation carries on the life of my old cabin

serious concentration & teamwork here

a rose between two thorns

jam session

a teachable moment with Great Uncle Warren...

...another teachable moment with Aunt Sandra!

Cindy & Sandra sneaking a sip and sharing a laugh

NYE jam session

Kajtek & Warren likely playing a John Prine tune

the countdown!

(photo taken by me in 2006)

Today felt a bit like summer; the sun was out and stayed out for my bike ride home from work, flowers are blooming (and littering the streets with their fragrance and feel), buskers are performing everywhere, people are working in their gardens and in their backyards and the cafes are filled with coffee sipping folks enjoying their treats on the patio. What did today feel like to you?

Sundays in the Kitchen

We’ve spent the last few Sundays in the kitchen baking and cooking for the next week. What’s your most recent creation?

The Baha Baked Black Beans recipe…we always have to boil and bake them for much longer than they do at Rebar.

6 Strand Braided Challah…we’ve made these loaves the last few weekends and have enough bread for toast and sandwiches all week!

(photo via Straight from the Farm)

I’ve also been making lots of pumpkin soups lately (Curry Apple Pumpkin & Pumpkin Pear being my top 2 favorites) with the giant pumpkin that I picked from our wee patch out front!

I stumbled across Jeannette’s blog, Everybody Likes Sandwiches recently and have already tried two of her delicious recipes. The Chocolate Chip Maple Walnut Cookies were delightful (we made them twice actually!) and this morning I added her Maple Apples recipe to our morning waffles and local Galloping Goose Pepper Bacon.

Basic Waffles

Makes 8 waffles

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 T sugar

1 T baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2t salt

1-3/4 cups Almond Breeze (or milk)

6 T veg oil

2 Large eggs

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well blended and smooth. Let batter rest for 5 minutes while waffle maker heats up.

Pour 1/3 cup of batter onto centre of waffle grill and spread batter to within 1/2 inch of edge of grill. Close lid and cook waffle.

Remove waffle and serve immediately or put in baking disk in warm oven until ready to serve.

Garnish with Maple Apples (See above link).

Roasted Veggie Soup

A Saturday spent in the kitchen making homemade treats is one of my most favorite things to do (especially when it’s wind/rainy outside and I have a pot of tea on). I borrowed a recipe that my boss made for our United Way Campaign wrap up party. Each staff member and volunteer made a donation to the campaign and we had a lovely meal together (our organization raised just over $4000 for the United Way!). See the adapted recipe below and please let me know if you try it or if you have any questions.


1 butternut squash (about 1” cubes)

1 large yam (1” cubes)

3 carrots (cut in 1/2 “ sticks)

1 onion (chopped into 6-8 pieces)

3 cloves garlic (chopped)

2 tbsp olive oil

Pinch of thyme

Pinch of chipolte pepper

4 c *homemade veggie broth

1 jalapeno pepper

Juice and grated rind of a lime

Roasting Vegetables:

Toss squash, yam, carrots, onion, thyme and garlic in olive oil. Put into a large baking dish. Oven roast at 400 for about 40 minutes or until veggies are tender. Turn veggies half-way through.

While veggies are roasting:

Bring stock to a simmer. Cut three long slits in each jalapeno and then add to stock. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove pepper. Add roasted veggies to stock along with lime juice and grated rind. Then puree the soup in batches. Return pureed soup to pan and heat through.

*Homemade Veggie Broth

My amazing sister left me a wonderful phone message one evening, explaining how she has been making her own veggie broth (she is an eco-inspiration!). Rather than composting her organic veggie scraps (onions, peelings, soft tomatoes, etc) she goes one step further and keeps them all in a bag in her freezer. Once the bag is full, she puts them in a pot, covers everything with water and boils the goodness down into a concentrated veggie broth. She tells me this can take h-o-u-r-s and sometimes she puts it in the fridge overnight and continues the boiling process the next day. She then puts the mixture through a mesh strainer and squeezes all the liquid out, so that you only have a mushy mess left in the strainer. She pours the broth into ice-cube trays so that she can use it as she need it. “Why use one of those big salty tetra packs of broth if your recipe only calls for a 1/4 cup?!” And more importantly, now you know exactly where your broth came from and it tastes different every time! Thanks Sis – my totally homemade soup got rave reviews!

Cello Lessons!

cello by !anaughty!.

(sketch via !anaughty!)
A good friend (M) and I have been talking about taking cello lessons for months now and…we finally signed up today! We’ll be taking an hour long intro lesson together in a couple of weeks at the Larsen School of Music. After the into lesson, we’ve decided to take weekly private lessons – with the plan to meet up afterwards to share everything we’ve learned! Thanks to M’s mom for mailing each of us a Kevin Fox album upon hearing we were interested in taking lessons – he’s wonderful!

Check out this amazing performance at Union Square!