Saturday, October 25, 2008

Photo: Memories of April

I've been struggling with the gargantuan (well, maybe not gargantuan, but still, pretty freakin' big) task of resorting, labeling and reburning my photos onto dvds. I take a LOT of photos!

I came across this one from April of 2006, back when the Junco babies were regularly brought to the feeder by their parents, being taught where they could find food. I remember this little one quite clearly, as he or she was ENORMOUS, just a round little ball of birdie. This wasn't just because it was cold out or something, it didn't matter what the weather, this little one was like twice the size of the others! So adorable! Even his stance is really wide, to support his large size. I just wanna pick him up and give him a hug! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pysanky Gift Ideas for the Holidays

I've updated the Pysanka Gift Guide on for the 2008 Holiday Season! If you know someone who loves the ancient art of Ukrainian Easter Egg decorating, I've listed tons of great gift ideas that will totally thrill the pysanka lover on your list! Great general Ukrainian gift ideas too, with Ukrainian food, humor and more!

Have fun shopping, and get your holiday gift shopping finished EARLY!

Look for Ann's Ukrainian Gifts Shop's Christmas Section, opening soon!

Ladybug at Sunset

We've had a LOT of ladybugs around the last couple of days. They're a great beneficial insect, and get rid of nasty things like aphids. Glad to see them around, hope they have plans for the winter!

PhotoJournal: Ah, Autumn - Part I

Autumn is so beautiful, I was just at the back of the property, and I took a deep breath, the very distinct scent of freshly fallen leaves filling the air (these same leaves won't be so pretty-smelling come spring time, but for now, they are a pleasant, unique-to-autumn smell). Mix in warmish autumn air, and you just want to sit outside and relax. If you can. :) The colours are just so lovely, the sky a perfect backdrop in a lovely blue... *sigh*

Monday, October 06, 2008

Thanksgiving Success

This year, I had my folks over for the first time for a holiday meal (until now, I, along with others, have been going over to their place). Due to work schedules, I had the meal on Sunday, instead of the official holiday date of Monday, October 13th, 2008 (today!).

I went to the Halifax Farmer's Market on the 4th to get most of the food I'd need for the big day -- I didn't want to risk not being able to get there the following Saturday and not have local produce at my feast table. Celebrating the harvest is what Thanksgiving is all about, after all!

This year my table was spread with produce from Selwood Green, an organic farm in the Minas Basin area of Nova Scotia. And what wonderful produce it was, too! Fresh, colorful peppers, celery, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers - everything bright, crisp, and grown without chemicals. Very nice!


Cabbages, carrots and onions are all in peak season right now, and would have made an ideal starter - if only we had enough room on our plates! I brought it out last, as it was at the back of the fridge, and there was hardly room for more than a tiny bowlful on the side. I made a lot too, so we'll be eating coleslaw for a few days. :)

Cranberry Sauce
Modified from a recipe from my favorite pickling book, "Put a Lid on It - Small Batch Preserving for Every Season" by Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard - I used Turning Leaf Merlot instead of port. Soooo good.

Family Recipe Relish
I'd need to get permission to share this relish recipe, which some members of my family have made for decades. It's got cabbage, onion, celery, cucumbers, peppers and more, very tasty.

But of course! Thanksgiving wouldn't be thanksgiving without it. I would have loved to buy a free-range turkey this year, but it would be a little too expensive for us to manage. Next year though! It was seasoned with a collection of spices, some from the garden and some purchased from the grocery store and Farmer's Market. Parsley, sage, and rosemary will be the main players. For poultry or pork, it's best to remember Scarborough Fair - parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme make a perfect combination. If you ever need help calculating cooking times, or figuring out how to carve a turkey, check out the incredibly helpful Butterball site. Thank goodness that's there! I consult it every year!

I dressed up our beautiful organic carrots with a great recipe for "zippy" glazed carrots by Chef Meow, really delicious!

I used my recipe, based on a conglomeration of several I found on the Internet, for this classic Ukrainian mushroom dish. Delish! I used three kinds of mushrooms - crimini, shittake, and white button. The different kinds of mushrooms add a wonderful depth to the dish. Add a little more Turning Leaf Merlot, and yum-my!

Ukrainian-meat-on-a-stick. Wow. What a delicious food! My parents had picked me up an extra pork roast during Sobey's latest BOGO sale. It was a gorgeous roast, and it made perfect patychky! Thanks to mister anchovy, I was able to get in touch with this delicious culinary memory from my childhood.

Good ol' Mashed Potatoes
Dave had a hard job of it, seeing as our potato masher is still packed away somewhere, but he did a darn good job of it with a fork! :)

Club House Turkey, with pan drippings. They have a commercial out now that shows making the gravy with their package and pan drippings, and I've always found it worked great! Making the whole thing from scratch doesn't generally turn out well for me, so for years I've been doing it this way. And now they've made a commercial about it, so I guess lots of others have been doing it, too!

All in all, dinner turned out great! My mom brought a wonderful lemon dessert, so that was an extra thing off my "to-do" list. :) It was all yummy, and we ate till we were stuffed! :) It was a terrific celebration of the harvest - we had much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Cool PreSchool Idea - Kids learning to embrace the great outdoors

There's a great new-to-Canada idea for a preschool just outside of Ottawa, Ontario. The Carp Ridge Forest Pre-School is outdoors. All the time! If it gets really cold, they have tent-like shelter they can go into (also used for story times and naptimes). They get to hike around in all sorts of weather, learn about nature and wildlife, all in a safe, monitored environment - sounds fantastic! (And FYI, there's modern toilet facilities available). :)

When I was growing up, we had a small forest on our property, and I LOVED tramping around in the leaves and snow, seeing bugs and birds and all sorts of things. My parents made sure I was safely exposed to the beauty of nature, and because of that, I grew up to really appreciate nature, no matter the weather.

Read about this preschool on the CBC here. Visit the pre-school home page here.