Thursday, August 30, 2007

New 2008 Photography Calendar!

Just released! My 2008 photo calendar featuring some of my favorite photos of Nova Scotia. From apple blossoms to baby chicks, seascapes to trees laden with snow, it's a great showcase of the beauty of the changing seasons here.

I'll only be offering it till the end of this year (maybe the end of January, but no later), so order yours soon!

WOW!!! What an awesome captain!!

A cook on a shrimp boat went into early labour - and the captain, armed with only a first aid book and extreme grit, delivered the baby! And it was a BREECH BIRTH!!!! He was incredible! Obviously not intimidated by being very "hands on", he was able to extricate the baby boy from his extremely dangerous position, and...

Well, I won't say any more, it's a really exciting read! It's on CNN, here. What a story! What a guy! Captain Ed Keisel, I salute you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Best. Borscht. Ever. (BeanDreams 2007)

Wow. I harvested some of my beets (yay!), and here's the best part: the borax I added to the soil DID THE TRICK!! The beets were no longer bitter. And, they're getting bigger, too! (only about an inch wide, but way better than they were) :) So, a double-whammy of positive results from the borax. I guess I did have an imbalance. (If I was sure I'd have a garden next year (we might be moving), I'd get a soil testing kit to help fine-tune my soil more). I'm so very glad I found that awesome article all about beets! If you need to know ANYTHING about growing beets, be sure to read this article.

And, since beets are the heart and soul of borscht, good beets mean good borscht! I must have put in just the right amount of vinegar to my simmering beef as well, because it turned out extremely tender and yet there was no trace of vinegar taste to it.

It was so tasty! So earthy and comforting. Well, it should be earthy-tasting, all of the main ingredients (save the beef) are root vegetables. :)

Of course, if you wish to make my family's recipe for borscht, I have it listed here. It's great in the spring, but it's equally great in the fall. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


We had a very nice trip to Martinique yesterday. It was funny, we stayed in the smaller part of the beach, where the surfers hang out, and the whole time we were there we could hear lifeguard whistles coming from the behind the rocks, where the main beach area is. We wondered if there were a lot of problem swimmers over there, but when we got home, we found out that there had been a national lifeguard Competition at the main beach. :) Might have been fun to watch, if we had known - but it's a lot of rocks to climb over.

Got these shots of a boat hauled out of the water, enroute.

As I mentioned before, we stuck to the surfer side of the beach - there were a lot of people there, as the tide started to come in!

While I was scouting around for cool-looking shells, I found this one still occupied! (You can see him as the little yellow-black thing inside). I set him on a rock to take his pic and thereby make him famous by posting him on the web (!), then put him back in the water.

Here you can see several trails through sand underwater, made by similar shelled beasties as the one above.

Beautiful waves, beautiful sky, beautiful day.

If you look closely on top of the rocks, you'll see a seagull, standing quietly and looking out at the water. That spot must be a favorite of theirs to sit and crack open the shells of crabs and clams and such.

Swirling waters, and the seaweed swirls with it.

If you look at the bright spot near the centre of the photograph, you can see a clam underwater - no doubt hoping to hide from seagulls amongst the seaweed!

And on our way home again: here's a drive-by pic of the Musquodoboit Railway Museum - it used to be a working train station, and my great-grandfather was one of it's station masters. The tracks are still there now, and although unused by trains, people still use them to hike along - it's a lovely walk!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Does anything say "Nova Scotia" more than... old, weatherbeaten fishing shack on the shores of an inlet, a giant stack of lobster traps ready to use. Blue skies, clear water. Gorgeous.

Got this as a still from a little video I shot as we went out to Martinique beach for a short visit and splash-about. Will share more photos soon! :)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Damn! Another bird just hit our window!

I don't know what kind it had a gorgeous yellow streak on top of it's head. I heard a loud "thump" by my head (I sit right next to the window), so I ran outside. Didn't see him anywhere, so I moved some brush around, and out flew a little bird, straight into one of our giant spider's webs. He was stuck! He just hung there limply by his head and wing. Poor little guy!!!

I instantly was reminded of a news item last week where a spider had actually caught and killed a hummingbird (someone found it's body completely entangled with spider webbing on their property last week - seriously!).

So I said, no freakin' way is our mega-spider going to do that to this poor little bird! So I started tearing the web off him before the spider could react. It took about 20 seconds, he was stuck in good. BUT, although he was very limp, his head and wing were fine - he seemed to have no lasting damage. He just needs to be left alone to get his head together again. I thought I had a good hold of him - I was going to try and keep him warm while his head cleared - but he squirted out, and fluttered off to a nearby bush. Hopefully he'll be none the worst for wear for his near-death adventure.

Good grief.

EDIT: I'm pretty sure it was a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, see great pics of them at this site.

Juvenile Robin in our yard!

I've seen robins my whole life, but I've never seen a juvenile stage one before - they look quite different from their adult form! I just saw one in the far edge of our lawn - I could tell from the way he was running around the yard that he was a robin, but looking through the binoculars, I could see he had a large stripe by his eye, and a black speckled breast. Very unusual! I assumed, since there are a lot of young birds around these days, that he must be a young robin. Looked it up in a bird book to be sure. :) Very cool!

This site has a couple of good pics of Juvenile robins, so you can see what I mean.

Good luck little guy!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Baby Raccoons!

We had a momma and two (TWO!!) baby raccoons out at the feeder a few minutes ago - I tried to get pics to show everyone, but this was the best I could do. The animals look a little see-through by times, because the shutter was open so long, to let enough light in to take the picture. I really gotta get me some sort of night-vision setup, that'd be cool. :)

Here you can see two of them, one approaching the feeder on the railing, and one on the floor of our deck.

You can just make him out here, on the top of the bird feeder (the one on the rail, not the one hanging out the side).

So cute! :D We hadn't put out any food for them yet though, it was too early (still light out!), but we'll have to remember to put it out a little earlier now... :) After all, there's babies to help feed!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Guh? It's a caterpillar party!

I went out for a short walk in our backyard about an hour ago, and saw a huge group of these caterpillars decimating a blueberry patch. Wow, they sure can eat! I've never seen more than one caterpillar at a time - to see a whole bunch together like this was pretty neat! If you know what they are, let me know - I'll be looking around to see if I can find out myself, but if I can't, I'd still like to know. :)

Peepers: "I miss killing things..."

Peepers looks outside at the little birds and squirrels, and you can almost see the thought bubble over his head, "I miss killing things". Sorry Dude, you'll have to content yourself with hunting the tennis ball - we love you, but we love our birdies too! :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lobsta Madness

I thought while we were out celebrating my Dad's birthday today, that I'd have some lobster. It's in season now, and I've only ever had it one other time (and even then, only the tail), and as a Nova Scotian, that simply wouldn't do! We are well known for out lobster, after all...

My mother's brothers and their kids can each finish off a lobster in under 10 minutes - I have fond childhood memories of get-togethers where they would have a huge lobster boil. Out would come the bibs, claw-breakers, and melted butter, and they would just inhale lobster after lobster, the live ones still scuttling around the kitchen floor, awaiting their turn in the pot. They REALLY enjoyed the whole experience! But I couldn't bring myself to try it - I'm not good at eating things that still have their eyes on. :)

So, I thought it was time to try it again. However, when I ordered a 1/2 lobster, I assumed for some reason that that meant just the tail (1/2 the meat is in there, after all). But I was rather taken aback to get an entire half lobster on my plate, split lengthwise. Woah! It had an eye, and an antenna, and legs and all sorts of other bits. I was stumped! And sitting at a table full of Nova Scotians, none of whom had eaten a lobster before either! :D My Dad helped, first by covering the eye over for me delicately with a lettuce leaf from the bed of lettuce the lobster was served on, and secondly by eating the little legs for me. Thanks Pa!

These pictures tell the story rather well:

Before Talking to the Waitress

"Lost at sea" - I have no freakin' clue what to do - could I look more tentative? I spent a lot of time poking at the lobster with the long stick, and getting to know the anatomy of the lobster better. (It was quite interesting, really, I'd never seen one that close-up before). As it turns out, most of the meat is in the tail and the claws, with a little for more intrepid eaters in the front of the body.

After Talking to the Waitress

God love her, she walked me through step by step! And look at me now, beaming with confidence, tossin' around a lobster claw like I've been doing this my whole life! Like the bib? heh heh heh

It's not easy to see on the pic, but there are some sharp-ish bumps on parts of the claw, which the waitress warned me about ahead of time, so keep that in mind as you're separating the joints.

So, if you don't want this to happen to you (you don't know if you'll have as helpful a waitress as I did!), check out this illustrated guide: - incredibly helpful, wish I had read it before I went out!

And thanks to the Dartmouth Boomerang's and their very helpful staff - always a great meal to be had (for real, TRY THE CATALINA DRESSING on your salad!! They make it themselves (actually, they make everything themselves there, except for the ketchup) - it is totally amazing!)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Double Rainbow Happiness

We normally get about one rainbow a year - not too many. But this year there seems to be a bumper crop of them, which has been quite enjoyable! Today it was quite sunny, but with a cool breeze. Then suddenly this evening, the clouds gathered, and we had a pelting rainstorm. It didn't last very long, but it did leave us this lovely little memento.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Patychky (aka Ukrainian Meat on a Stick)

My mom's family never made this Ukrainian food, but my uncle's wife makes an absolute killer version of this for major holidays. While I wasn't able to get her recipe for it, and armed only with my description of "meat on a stick", I was eventually able to track down this recipe online. I'd repost it here, but the originating guy asked for people to write him about their own experiences with the recipe, so I will just send you along to his site. Be sure to write him if you try it!

Apparently it is called patychky, and is traditionally served for major holidays. I know it will be part of my festivities from now on! This recipe is equal in total deliciousness to my aunt's, so I'm so thrilled I found it! Thanks mister anchovy! And thanks also to Anna H. who wrote me wanting to know if I was familiar with the recipe - it got me off my duff and out looking for it, after years of meaning to but never getting around to it!


All the meat, cut up in small cubes, sitting in its marinade of 30 (THIRTY!) cloves of garlic, chopped, and a bottle of Dave's Premium Homebrew (not available in stores). ;) Looks good!

It recommends that you marinate overnight. I thought I'd go the extra mile and marinate it for two nights. DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE A VERY TIGHTLY SEAL ABLE CONTAINER. I had it in what I thought was a well-sealed container, and still had to put it into 2 groceries bags, tied up, followed by a Glad garbage bag (the kind that's supposed to suppress odor). And STILL the whole fridge stank. Badly. Now, while I thought it smelled delightfully like kielbasa, my Irish-background boyfriend Dave did not appreciate its bouquet beyond the 24 hour mark. So keep this in mind - best stick to just 24 hours marination. :)

After a long marination, the meat is skewered. I had to break the ends off my sticks by a couple of inches (the blunt end, not the sharp end!) to make them fit my roaster pan (you'll want to measure before you put the meat on). And don't forget to soak your skewers in water the night before.

Dip the meat sticks in beaten egg.

Then dip the meat sticks in seasoned bread crumbs.

Time for the fryin'! In a generous amount of canola oil, over medium high heat. Startin' to get a nice deep brown color, which is what you want.

This is the way I laid out the celery bed. DO NOT do it this way! The point is for the celery to keep the meat sticks off the bottom of the pan. However, the way I've done it, some meat sticks sat inside the curves of the celery, and got soggy because the juicy run-off pooled in the celery. Make sure your celery is turned so the curve is facing the bottom (the concave side is down, with convex facing up). Hope that makes sense. Just don't do what I did in the photo and you'll be fine. Of course, you could use a whole lot less celery and just put 3 or 4 small pieces across perpendicularly, which would support the sticks and not create any juice pools. Your choice! :)

The finished product, out of the oven and ready to eat! SOOOO DELICIOUS!!!!

Seriously, if you are a fan of garlic AT ALL, MAKE this recipe. You will be so very glad you did! I can't even describe the flavour, aside from amazing!

Try it! Try it now!


EDIT: As much as Dave didn't like the smell coming from the fridge on day 2, he really loved the finished product! :) Even now, he's looking over my shoulder, saying "Hey, that was really good, you should make that again!") :D

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mega Storm last night in NS

We had a MASSIVE thunderstorm last night, the likes of which I can't ever remember happening before (and neither can Dave's mom, and she's in her 70s)! It lasted well over an hour, probably closer to two, with the height of it lasting over 40 minutes. They showed on the news today that there were over 1200 lightning strikes in the province (a typical storm has about 200). Insane! We even had actual bolts of lightning, half hidden through layers of clouds, and not just our typical sheet lightning. Although, of course, there was lots of sheet lightning too! I don't know how long the storm went on while I just lay in bed, half asleep, expecting it to go away--but when it kept going on and on, and Peepers let out a questioning little "meooow?", I thought it best to get the rest of the furries together to make sure everyone was okay.

We gathered them all together in the living room upstairs. Baby Boy & Molly took it the best, they weren't worried at all, it seemed. Casey was a little freaky for a bit, but half of that was because it was 3 am and everybody was awake. She did her head-down-wagging-tail whole body wiggle, sticking her head in everybody's face to give kisses. She settled down pretty quickly, though. The worst for wear was Dave's mom's little Jack Russell terrier, Lila. She is scared by just fireworks, so a storm where the rumbling of thunder never stopped had her hyperventilating to where she nearly passed out! Poor little dear, it took her a LONG time to calm down. Once it had settled down and everyone went to bed, Baby decided that he was hungry, and started meowing and clawing under the door. I had to get up and give him some dinner, and he came in to sleep with us for a bit afterwards - a very rare event (so maybe he was affected after all).

This morning, all the birds and squirrels looked a little ragged. They were soaked through, and seemed more squabbly than usual, fighting over position at the feeder. Even saw a nuthatch and a sweet little yellow bird with a pointed bill that I didn't recognize - I guess they must have been blown here by the storm.

Never seen anything like it! Wow!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bird-seeded Sunflower

This cute little guy showed up just outside my garden - since I didn't plant anything there, and it's a distance from where we feed the birds, we assume that a bird or squirrel hid a sunflower seed for future eating, and it sprouted before they could eat it. :) It's good for them, though, because now it will create dozens of seeds for them to eat in return!

What a happy looking flower...

Caught ya!

I see you, you little kitten! Playing around like a little baby! (I'm glad to see Peepers is indoors and safe with a family, but still young enough to enjoy some kittenish behaviour!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A new (to me!) extreme sport

You've heard of Ironman competitions? Grueling competitions to show the best of the best, the toughest guys around? Well, step aside for Iron-ing man!

Apparently, this extreme sport (?) has been around for several years now, but this is the first I've heard of it. Extreme Ironing takes ironing (yes, I'm talking about ironing shirts and skirts on ironing boards) to extreme conditions - high speeds, mountain tops, deep water, and more.

Shown here: Hitoshi Matsuzawa, in a successful attempt at "extreme ironing" at the top of Mt. Fuji, in Japan (read about his attempt here). Idyllic looking, ne?

Check out the Japanese Site here. The Extreme Ironing Bureau (*snort* - get it? A bureau!!) site has info in English on the history of Extreme Ironing, and more.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Super Sale at the Gift Shop - Framed Tiles only $9.99!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Shhhhh! Baby Raccoon!

There is a teeny tiny baby raccoon IN our birdfeeder on the back deck right now. You can just see the markings around his mask staring out from the feeder - I wish I could take a pic for everyone, but he's so young, I'd hate to scare the crap out of him by turning on the light. Trust me though, he's really small (about the size of a medium housecat) and SO SWEET!

Little bitty baby, already old enough to be out looking for food on his own - they grow so fast! :)

Upcoming Sale, Friday!

On Friday, August 10th 2007, I will be having a 24 hour sale on my full line of Framed Art tiles - the price will drop from $12.99 to only $9.99!

These lovely wall tiles are framed in Cherrywood, and are a great way to easily add artistic flair to any room!

So don't miss out! Keep your eyes on this space for the sale launch time!

Friday, August 03, 2007

BeanDreams update!

All done! Read my update regarding the mini-harvest of my garden!

Me, happily shelling peas, with my Coke Zero.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Peepers Approves of the Harvest

I did some harvesting from the garden today, picking all of the radishes, peas, and thinning the beets. Peeking out from behind my Coke Zero, Peepers supervises the shelling of peas, and seems to approve!

More on my BeanDreams 2007 update, coming soon!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More Roses!

Dave's mom has collected several wild rosebushes from her travels throughout Nova Scotia - this lovely light pink bush is blooming profusely!

Noise in the Dark

So, it's 3 am, and I'm awake. Not of my own volition, of course, but because of a cat. Regular readers will perhaps think this has to do with Peepers, our newest addition to the family, but in fact, it has to do with Baby Boy, our "middle" cat. All I saw was the field of battle AFTER it happened, I have NO IDEA how it got to be the way it was.

I awoke to the sounds of large objects crashing to the ground - I got up instantly and ran to our kitchen/living room open-concept area. One of our heavy kitchen chairs was knocked over. On the other side of the double room, a tv tray had also been knocked down. The phone was knocked off the hook, and the answering machine had become unplugged. These things only caught my attention for a second though - what I immediately became concerned with was the retreating back end of Baby Boy, launching himself behind the tv console. I said "Baby!", and could hear him making tearing noises at the carpet, mingled with a gagging sound. I ran over to him, and saw him tearing at the floor or the wall, like he was trying to dig a hole to get further away. When he calmed down enough to see it was me, he just sat there, gagging, which gave way to heavily laboured breathing, as if he had just ran a race. I spoke to him in the soothing, mommy-tone that he associates with good things and comfort. I caught his eye, and gave him the "slow blink", that cats communicate "all's well" with. I tried to peer around the back end, to see if he was all right (the kitchen chair is so heavy, I was really worried if it had caught him in the wrong way as it fell, he could have broken a paw). I started to put things back to normal, while Baby calmed down. Molly, the old girl cat, was sitting in the corner near the tv tray. If she knew what happened, she wasn't letting on. :)

Eventually, Baby made his way out from behind the tv. I saw that underneath him, he had one of the curtain tiebacks. I think he must have run into it as he dashed by the curtains towards the tv. After he came out, he went straight down to the basement. By this time, of course, Casey was wide awake and barking, so I had to let her go outside (being woken early by all that noise makes a puppy need to use the facilities).

I followed Baby downstairs, and spoke again in soothing tones. He looked sufficiently calm that I could touch him now, so I stroked him a little, and he started to purr. I checked his paws - no sign of tenderness, so a-okay there. He's now resting comfortably under the couch in the basement, where it's dark, and nice and cool on a stuffy summer night like tonight. Casey is trying to sleep down here too, with all this noise and light and such. Peepers, thank God, is tucked away safely in the bedroom right now, and missed out on all this mess. And I'm hoping I can sneak off to bed in a little while, once everything seems sufficiently calm.

But the question remains: what exactly happened? Was Baby spooked by something? Did Molly hiss at him, and it sent him over the edge? Was he trying to catch a moth in a precarious position and started a chain reaction of destruction? I guess we'll never know for sure. :)