Tuesday, December 28, 2010

From all of us here....



Baby Boy...


And Kuroi...

We hope you had a great Christmas holiday, and a wonderful 2011! Here's to a new year, with new hopes and new opportunities!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Veseys Catalogue Arrival: Awesome new stuff for the new season

Like many people, money is tight with us these days.  And since we rent, and our landlord has the house on the market, we never know if we're going to be here during an entire summer (hence last season's semi-portable bag garden).  BUT, if we had a bit more $$ and guaranteed lawn, Vesey's has some AWESOME stuff in the catalogue this year (just in time for Christmas, folks!) 

Just a note: I'm not affiliated with Veseys in any way, I really do just love their stuff! :)

Birdfeeders (always popular):
The Blue Moon feeder is made out of sparkling crackle glass, with built in protection to shelter the birds during storms, looks lovely!  My second choice is the iron and aluminum Acorn Bird feeder, very elegant looking! 

For assistance in gardening/seed starting, etc:
The Canadian designed Root Training Propagator looks way cool!  It trains roots to be long and thin in a straight line. The product opens like a book, so you can inspect the roots, and there's minimal disruption to the plant during transplanting.  COOL!

Having not done such a hot job of supporting my snap peas this past summer, this lovely contraption looks like it would be a big help!  The Wire Cucumber Trellis folds flat for storage, but when in use provides a lovely diagonal growing surface for all your climbing veggies like peas, but more suited for heavier produce like cucumbers and squash.  They even say you can grow lettuce underneath which will mature before your cukes get too big and block out the sun.

Connecticut dairy farmers developed these great plant pots leftover from cow manure after they've extracted the methane to use to power their farm.  Cow Pots will dissolve a few weeks after insertion in the ground, providing fertilizer to boot!  A great idea!

Perfect for people who are stiff and have trouble doing all the bending over required in gardening,  it's a Stand Up Garden (and it's self-watering, too!).  A garden on stilts basically, it lets you have the fun of gardening without bending - and you get to start your soil off right by buying it (and compost) in bags! ;)

Some cool new and new-to-me flowers and veg:
Chocolate Tomato - a gorgeous looking velvety chocolate/red colored tomato, an heirloom that they say has tremendous flavor.

Broom corn - grows like corn, but instead of a husk it grows these gorgeous seed heads.  Great for crafting projects - and you can even make a broom from them, if you like!

If you love squash, you'll love their Wild Bunch combo of many varieties of strong vining squash.  For eating and for crafts & fall displays, you'll get a little bit of everything!

Gorgeous flowers: the Zahara Starlight Zinnia (blooms the whole season!) and always a fave of mine, the Gerbera Daisy.  And a funky green sunflower, would really stand out!

And a couple of books, to boot!                                                      
The Backyard Homestead - an "indespensible guide to self-sufficiency". Talks about everything from raising chickens to pickling the results from your veg garden!  (*Ann dreams...*)
Four Season Harvest - a great guide to growing veggies and herbs year-round in colder climates like mine!  Sounds a little challenging, but very rewarding!

So that's what's on my gardening wish list for this year!  If you have any you'd like to add, mention it in the comments section! :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Mystery of the Red Bees

Yup, you read right - bright red bees. Bright red hives.  And really crappy honey.

Found this story from the NY Times, via Reddit. The disappointing truth that, like people, bees don't always eat what's best for them.  Garbage in/garbage out. :)  Fascinating story!  It does point out some of the complications that can occur with urban farming.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gorgeous Day

Amazing weather, a perfect fall day.  So many leaves were damaged and twisted around during Hurricane Earl, I thought autumn might not turn out so well this year. But, so far, so good!  The colours usually peak around the 18th of October, but it still looks like there's a lot of green out there, so it might last a little longer this year.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Me and Eeyore down at the Fair

I petted sheep and goats and little baby donkeys and some sort of highland cattle...it was awesome!  Another fun trip down to the Maritime Fall Fair.  A few more pics to come. :)

I wanna raise chickens SO BAD........

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cats will be Cats

Kuroi (Pretty Kitty) has a fun game he plays every morning for about a half hour. He chases around a (imaginary or real) kibble that escaped the dogs' dish.  Perhaps at one point, there actually was a kibble that ended up underneath the old drip tray we use to protect the floor from the water bowl.  Now, who knows? But Kuroi is convinced it's there, and every morning, pokes randomly under the mat - it's quite hilarious. Today, Peepers watched in quiet awe while he did this, wondering what the heck he was doing. It's the first time one of the other cats has taken an interest in Kuroi's little hobby. 

God, cats are such spazzes.  :D

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cats in the Area

There must be some new cats to the area - I saw an adorable marmalade cat sleeping on our anthill, enjoying the sunshine the other day (reminds me of my kitty when I was little). But this, or another cat, knows how to hunt, and hunt well. 

We had a spate about 5 months ago of one shrew a night dead at the top of the hill, waiting for me and the girls when we went to play in the morning.  Then mercifully it stopped.  But last night must have been a banner night, for there were 3 dead shrews up there this morning.  Well, parts of them, anyway. One was complete, but dead from a side puncture wound. But the other two...only their heads remained!  *gack*  The girls (Casey and Lila) managed to find them all (whenever they look intently at something, I come to look in case it's a little froggy who needs help getting out of our yard). I took the shrews and shrew bits and put them into the forest beyond the fence, with a little prayer for their little furry souls.  Poor little guys, they do love our yard with all the tall grasses and such to hide under...but that makes it tempting hunting ground for the cats... :/

More disturbingly, I found a small cluster of male pheasant feathers - they're absolutely gorgeous, with a metallic sheen of blues and greens when you look at them moving in the light.  But while I'm worried a cat made a go for him, I don't see any blood, and no body to be seen, so I'm sure one swipe is all the cat got in before the pheasant made a getaway.

So, we'll hope the pheasant keeps his eyes open, and hopefully the little shrews will keep safe - but I will keep burying them if they don't.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Male Pheasant

Only got to see him for a moment, while we were scaring the crap out of the poor guy. He was up on our hill feeding (getting spillover from the bird feeder) and me and the girls came tearing up the hill to play Frisbee. Poor guy, hr ran around and around while the girls chased him, I'm yelling at them to stop, trying to grab at them - finally he takes off to the sky and flies away. He was beautiful, from what I could see, but quite small, so I think he's young - probably one of the ones I saw earlier this year in the yard. Poor guy, hope he's not too traumatized, and will come back. A short time later, I heard a few little noises from the woods nearby, I think he had a companion that was wondering what was going on - I'm sure they'll meet up again soon. 

He didn't get away too badly off, though - he picked apart one of only 2 chili peppers I managed to grow! At least he picked the unripened one. :) I've picked the other one, in case he comes back - it can finish ripening indoors.

I do hope he comes back - now that I know they're still in the area, I'll have to make sure I check outside before we go out!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Too Cool! Airshow Practice!

Once again, after a long absence, the air show is at Shearwater, AND I'm in the city. When I was a kid, the airshow was always at Shearwater, which is not (flying wise) very far from my house - we used to get on the roof and watch the show at a distance, or stand on street and watch down the road. They had to move the airshow around to different locales when I was an adult, and I lived out on the outskirts of the HRM for a long time, so it's been a while since I've seen it.  But now, they're back, and I'm back, and they're doing some practicing for the air show this weekend.  And they're practicing over our house! Very cool, nothing like a jet fighter trainer flying low and fast, rattling your windows!  They turned a couple of times directly over the house (COOL!), but mostly they've been going by, practicing doing that straight up climb, then straight down maneuver, turning, and a little spinning, too.

When I lived out on the Eastern shore, my parents still enjoyed watching the air show, and chose one year to go to the cliff behind our house to watch it.  Our Canadian aerial acrobatic team, the Snowbirds, come annually to the air show, and do an awesome performance.  When I was a kid, and still today, some of the Snowbirds perform their turn-arounds (to get back to Shearwater to do some more formations), right over our house. You can imagine how cool that was, and is!  So my folks were in a great position to watch the occasional Snowbird fly by very low, as in you-can-look-in-the-cockpit low.  Mom, being the silly goofball that she is (a trait she has passed on to me, I might add), would wave every time they went by. And on the last flyby, he flew extra low and waggled his wings back at her!  It happened to be her birthday too, and let me tell you, she was thrilled!  Something she'll always remember, and still talks about. (So, whoever you are out there, Mr. Pilot, you made Mom's day!).

All the performers will be showing up sometime today, likely, so we'll be hearing a lot of airplanes in the air as they fly by en route to Shearwater.  Don't know if I'll make it to the show, but I definitely will watch down the road, to see what I can see, at a distance. :)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

You're *sure* its local? An interesting way to be sure...

In Japan, convenience stores don't just sell pop and chips, as the often do here - they sell vegetables, and/or fresh food products.  In response to customers' requests for safety and quality, as well as avoid price fluxuations from suppliers, they've started their own farms.  By growing all their own veg, they can have start-to-finish quality control over locally produced vegetables.  You can read more about it on Mainichi today: (http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/business/news/20100908p2a00m0na014000c.html)

So, that would be like Sobeys or Superstore/Loblaws actually owning and running local farms all over the country to sell exclusively to their own stores.  It's an interesting idea...I mean, certainly you could be sure of the "local"ness of your product.  It might be a way of saving a lot of small struggling farms - but I'd be worried that they'd turn into a vegetable version of those giant conglomerations that run meat processing, where animals are mistreated before slaughter. Not that I think the veggies would be mistreated :) but the land might be, by large-production methods (read: heavy pesticide use), etc.  But if people didn't want those methods used, they could directly hit the chain's bottom line by not buying from them.

Oh well, it's certainly an interesting thing they're trying out, and an idea worth at least playing with here in North America...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Went out with the girls for their playtime a few minutes ago, and saw this in my Miracle-Gro bag garden (well, what's left of it...the peas are all finished for the year, so they're gone. I put an extra potato I had from my crop that needed a few more weeks, in, and there's my two pepper plants, which didn't do so well in the "generic soil", so I moved them over to see if Miracle Gro would help). ;)

So....where did these guys come from??  Mushrooms are strange critters....I flipped up the edge of one of them to see what the gills were like, now I gotta go figure out what kind of mushrooms they are.... :)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

We were lucky!

A *lot* of people lost power - even my parents, who live only a few streets away!  We were very lucky.

Right now my parents and their neighbour are moving a tree from the property line that fell right on my parent's vegetable garden - right on the tomatoes!  Oh no!  It damaged the yard fence, the garden fence, and tore the clothesline right off the post!  Yikes.  We didn't lose any trees, ourselves, we're lucky.

Dave's mom also lost power, but since she lost virtually all her trees to Juan a few years back, there probably won't be too much damage.

So, Earl did give us a pretty good punch!  But they hope to have the power back within a couple days, so it won't be another Juan, for sure. *phew*

Hurricane Earl

Well, not sure if it's a tropical storm or a hurricane, but Earl has definitely hit.  I took a short video in our backyard a few moments ago:

It's crazy!!  The wind is so strong, but the gusts are just nuts! The trees are whipping around, and the rain feels so cold, especially since we've had temperatures in the 30s all week, ugh.  Sorry for the quality of the video, my camera is rather old, but it gets the point across. :)

We have power for now, which I am grateful for.  They say it should finish blowing through by late this afternoon.  Glad all my plants are indoors!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pre- and Post-Hurricane/Power Outage Survival Advice

Hurricane Juan was several years ago, but for anyone who lived through it, it was the worst storm in memory. It tore a swath through our province, and changed a lot of people's attitudes towards hurricanes. With all the climate change occurring, storms are not burning out on our cold waters as they used to - the water is warmer, and storms are hitting us harder. We've had a terrible heat spell just in advance of Earl, our upcoming hurricane, which will not help matters. So in honour of Earl, I thought I'd share some survival tips I learned from Juan, where our household went without water and power for 4 or 5 or 7 or more days (mercifully, I've forgotten which - it may not sound like a long time, but going through it, things deteriorated rapidly. We weren't adequately prepared).  These aren't simple things like "bring your pets indoors" or "buy a gas generator", these are some of the things that we either did, or wish we had done, to make things easier.

Get canned foods to eat, like Chef Boyardee spaghetti in cans (NOT the microwavables!). These you can heat up in the cans (take the lid off first, the can will be too hot to take it off after).  During Juan, we were able to heat these using just 3-5 tealights, and a few hours (see more below). If you have a better heat source, all the faster. Other foods to consider:

  • Cup Noodles (the kind that come in a cup you fill with boiling water)
  • Mr. Noodle (the kind that you have to boil for a few minutes)
  • instant coffee
  • instant rice
  • canned sandwich meat/fish, to make sandwiches; mustard and butter don't usually need refrigeration, so at least you'll have something to put on them.
  • bread
  • Peanut butter (unless you're allergic), a good source of protein
  • Canned beans in sauce (pork'n'beans, beans in molasses, etc.) - again, a good source of protein
  • instant oatmeal

After a couple of days, you don't feel like cooking or eating anything. It's very important to have these easy-to-make things on hand to keep your strength up.

Clean and fill the bathtub with water. Essential if you have a well (as we did), as you will need it for your water supply until power is restored. Good to have even if you do have city water, just in case. It costs nothing but a few minutes of your time, but when you've got a family stuck with a toilet that doesn't flush because there's no power for your water supply, you will be SO GLAD you filled that bathtub. Toilets will automatically flush once the liquid level inside reaches a certain amount, so use a bucket and pour in water, and bingo, you've got a flushed toilet. Before Juan, Dave at the last minute thought to half-fill the tub, and that lasted us a few days. We eventually ran out of toilet flushing water, but were lucky enough there was a runoff ditch nearby where we could get some. Nasty business overall.  

Bottled water, or at least containers large enough to hold several days worth of drinking & cooking water. Essential if you have a well, good idea even if you don't.

Before the storm, make sure your cell phone, music players, laptops and rechargeable batteries are fully charged. If the power's out for a few days, you will be cursing left and right when you realize your laptop only has an hour of power left on it. And you WILL want your laptop. I don't have one myself, but my music player was SUPER important to my sanity by day three.

Most power companies have a toll free line where they have a recording of power restoration updates, program it in your phone ahead of time, so you won't have to dig around for it in the phone book with a flashlight later.

Make sure you have some cash handy. By day four, if some local fast food places have power, you are going to want their food like you never have before. And there's a possibility that they might have intermittent issues with their debit and credit machines, so have some cash around for stuff like that. My parents had power long before we did, and God love them, they brought us some takeout on day four, and we ate that like we had never eaten food before. Four full days of a limited diet, where the can of Chef Boyardee split between two people was your big meal of the day, you get pretty hungry.

Get out your flashlights (at least one per level of your house), batteries for the flashlights, candles, oil lamps with oil, etc. before the storm. You don't want to have to be fumbling around in the dark looking for this stuff after.  I keep supplies like that all in a rubbermaid box in the basement, so I know where everything is (and check it yearly to make sure batteries are still good, etc.)  And remember, when its dark, it's DARK. There's no lights on the streets or anywhere nearby, it is blacker than you might expect. You should leave one flashlight in the bathroom, you'll need one there even during the day, unless you have a window.

Make sure you have your medicines, prescriptions, etc. with at least a weeks' worth, just in case.

First aid kits, with painkillers and such, should be handy.

Be sure you have enough pet food on hand to last at least a week. Cats and dogs especially react badly stomach-wise to an abrupt change in diet, and the last thing you want is your animals getting diarrhea during this time.

If you have an outdoor barbeque, be sure stock up on charcoal, matches/lighters and/or propane. You will be able to use this to cook food that will spoil otherwise in the rapidly defrosting fridge, or using it at its most basic, to boil water. You will need this for coffee, tea, and cup noodles. REMEMBER TO NOT USE CHARCOAL INDOORS! Every year people die of carbon monoxide asphyxiation because they think they can use charcoal indoors. You can't. Its not worth the risk, even if it's well ventilated.

Break out the board games! For the first couple of nights, this is a fun way to pass the time with family. After a couple of days, well...humor is pretty much lost, and you are just trying not to stab everyone to death, much less play board games with them. Do TRY and keep your humor though, its a rough situation for everyone involved, especially the kiddies.

Radios are excellent sources of info, and support. You can hear the latest on the cleanup, and feel a little better about your own situation when you hear the dj hasn't had a shower in three days either.

Baby Wipes. Invaluable if you don't get water for several days, just to give yourself a little freshness pick-me-up. You *will* feel dirty and skanky, these can help.

Just say no to joyriding and sight seeing. Yes, after a hurricane there will likely be a lot of cool-looking damage, but the last thing power and emergency crews need is people out and about clogging up the roads for no reason at all other than they're *bored*. Man up, put society's needs ahead of your own, and unless you have an emergency, don't leave the house until the crews have had a chance to do their work. It goes faster for everyone this way.

There will be frustration and DEFINITE resentment when you see power coming on near your home, but not on your street. This is normal, but try to keep in under control. The power company has its own way of doing things, certain grids need to get attention before others, and rest assured, in due time you will get your power back. Driving over and bitching at them while they work will do nothing to better your situation. They're not going to suddenly change their mind and go running over to fix your power. It will not happen. Leave them to their work.

Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy - safety first!  You might have candles for lighting, be using them for cooking (see below), etc, and you should make sure you have it handy at all times. 

Don't knock tea lights! They're more powerful than you think! We used them to power our indoor cooking system, and they worked great. Our indoor cooking system consisted of a design I gleaned from my Girl Guiding days - an old metal coffee can, turned upside down, with vents poked in the top. In Guides, we had a heat source of, I believe, cardboard rolled inside an old tuna can, filled with hardened wax, then lit. We didn't have any wax, but we did have tealights, so we filled a tray with tealights (5 or more work great, if you can fit them in) put the can on top, and waited. We were able to boil water in a pot and heat our pasta dinners on this.  Remember, the can is HOT!  Patience is key - it is makeshift, but it does get the job done, and in the end, that's all you really need.

But, as an addition to the above - don't use scented candles!! The scent will wear out its welcome very quickly, and you will come to associate the smell with bad times.

Well, I've made all the preparations I can (it's 40 deg. Celcius right now, with the humidex, so I'm really limited in the running around I can do).  I hope this helps and gives you some ideas for preparations you can make for yourself should you ever find yourself in this situation.  Good luck!  And if you have any other hints or suggestions, post them in the comments field below.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Downtime on my webserver ?

Just to let people know, it looks like Powweb, my website provider for my email, learnpsyanky.com and shop.learnpysanky.com, as well as the hoster of many of the images on this blog, appears to be down for now. Don't know how long it will last, hopefully it'll be cleared up soon. Thanks for your patience and I apologize for any inconvenience.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flying Ant Day

Apparently, it's not just me that calls it that, according to Wikipedia, it's actually the informal name given to what I witnessed today - the day that the queen ants emerge and take to the skies, with some male counterparts, to mate with members from other colonies, and found a new one.

I saw many of them resting in the sparse grasses above their colony in our backyard, trying to figure out how to use these wing-thingies on their backs. Many crawled on the ground occasionally taking off for short hops in the sky, only to fall back down, or fluttering their wings, shaking them out without taking off. Some hovered in small swarms over nearby treetops. It's very interesting to watch.

No less interesting was the larger-than-normal number of our friends in the sky, dragonflies. Always glad to see them as they eat mosquitoes and the like, but today they were doing amazing aerial acrobatics as they attempted to feast on the new flying snacks that had appeared. I had two flying side by side, heading right for my face, and like some sort of air show, they both diverged at the last second in a sweeping arc, over and up. Beautiful, really!

I'm no big fan of ants, but still, I gotta give them a salute and a "good luck" in their crazy journey - imagine, a being that lives almost exclusively underground, growing wings and taking to the skies to find a new place to live!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

So, I didn't go...

Once I got up in the morning on Saturday, I realized that the long walk to Marginal Road just wasn't worth it to check out the new location of the old Halifax Farmers' Market, when we have a much easier-to-access market right here in Dartmouth that I hadn't been to before. I mean, I like the idea of the new market in Halifax, but honestly, it's just too far out of the way - and no buses! FRED (the free rides everywhere downtown bus) does go by, but only operates for 2 months in the summer, on a 40 minute loop, so I'd have to catch it near the beginning of the loop, after an already 40 minute long trip to get to the downtown. Or have a 15+ minute hike from my nearest bus stop. Or wait, transfer and *still* have to walk a distance. Loaded down with produce? I don't think so. It's really unfortunate, I wonder how many elderly and encumbered people won't be able to get to the new market - the eco-friendly building is great, but if you need a car to get there, what's the point? AND, after looking at their new website, I noticed something. It says "Free parking the month of August". That implies you'll have to *pay* for parking afterwards. What?! This new location looks like it has a *lot* of "getting there" issues...at least from my perspective.

And I think I made the right choice, looking at the photos of opening day from The Coast - it looked as packed as the old market was! :) Not my cup of tea, so glad I didn't go. :)

Instead, I took a short walk down my street, caught a bus that took me right to the (admittedly much smaller) Dartmouth Market, located in Alderney Landing (a Dartmouth side ferry terminal). At least 2 farms had large displays, two or three others were much smaller with limited produce. But really, that's more than enough variety, they had just about everything you could want there - if one place had beans, the other had cabbages. There were several baked goods stalls, and one I'm definitely going to try next time is the German Baker (oddly enough, run by an actual German). :) Their breads looked wonderful. There were a large number of crafters there, too.

See? Not too packed - busy, but not crazy.

Once I was done, I had some time to kill before the bus came back (it only runs once an hour) - so I walked over to the boardwalk (the Market is right next to it) and had a lovely sit looking at the harbour - beat the heck out of fighting with crowds and walking all over creation loaded down with veggies!

I looked at Halifax...

I looked at boats tied up on the docks...

...at George's Island in the distance...

...at the adorable Theodore Tugboat...SO funny to see him darting around the harbour...

...at the Angus L. MacDonald bridge...

...at boats under the bridge...

...and the ferry as it went past (it docks right next to the Market).

It was a gorgeous day, not too hot, not too cold. Soon enough, the bus came, and I arrived home with all my goodies. As usual, the animals FREAK when I bring home stuff fresh from a farm. Groceries are "interesting" but they go hog-wild over farm fresh stuff, must be lots of interesting smells in there. Here, Baby Boy tries to fend off the other cats from getting a sniff, but Peepers manages to get in there.

This time around, I went looking for borscht ingredients. Everything's in season for borscht, and I got some gorgeous produce from Noggins Corner Farm (in operation since 1760!). The meat (antibiotic-free!) I got from Meadowbrook Meat Market, a local farm that sells daily at Alderney Landing. They had a great deal on back bacon this week, so I got some of that. I got the free-range eggs from another farmer there, but unfortunately I missed the name.

All in all, time well spent! Glad I went, and will definitely return. :)

Now that it's been a while, I wonder how things are going over at the Halifax Market...? Hmmmm...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fascinating Glimpse underneath the Harbour

REALLY interesting article on what lies beneath the waves of our Halifax Harbour. Included were WWII tanks, and a shipment of 1960s Volvos. Who the heck knew that? Great article, and apparently the gentleman the reporter interviewed has a book out:

Read the article from the Herald here. It's really cool!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Almost Opening Day!

Tomorrow's the big day for the new Farmers' Market in Halifax. I wish there were more info available that you could be sure was accurate. First, it was going to be open 7 days a week, then six, now I hear it's three, which is really far more reasonable for farmers who travel to come here. If its true. *sigh* As I said previously, I've found it very difficult to find accurate and current info on the new opening.

According to Metro (http://www.metronews.ca/halifax/local/article/596351--crews-hard-at-work-as-market-s-big-day-nears) they're still on schedule to open tomorrow, so I'll make the hike there, plot it out on Google Maps (thank you Google!) and check out this new venue!

(It's supposed to be next to the Pier 21 museum, so I'll get directions from there...)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Halifax Farmers' Market is over....or is it?

Soooo...the Farmers' Market here in Halifax, has moved. Or has it? It depends on who you ask, I guess. There's a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly new building that will house *most* of the vendors from the Farmers' Market. This new market will be called the Seaport Market. But not everyone is leaving the old venue. Apparently, there were some personality conflicts between leaders of the different "factions", so some people decided not to move when the time came. So now there'll be two markets.

The "Old" Farmers' Market

• Centrally/conveniently located.
• Building has amazing character, lots of nooks and crannies and all the other charms that come with 1800s architecture.
• Victim of its own success - so popular that the crowds were almost nightmarish, you just couldn't even move around
• Only available from 7am - 1 pm on Saturdays

The New Market

• great new eco-friendly building
• (almost) all of the vendors you know and love
• room to move! and shop!
• wheelchair accessible (a lot of the old building wasn't)
• Open 7 days a week - more convenient for shoppers
• Open 7 days a week - hard for many farmers to maintain a presence there 7 days a week (apparently they were given the option of "Saturdays only" or "7 days/week" in renting space - might have been better if they had a "2 days/week" option)
• Location is completely horrible. (It's called "Marginal Road". Does that say anything to you?) The middle of nowhere on the waterfront, and NO BUSES.

So there it is in a nutshell, there's good and bad for the old and the new. But the move has been made, apparently - this past Saturday was it's last official day in the old space. If it wasn't for the newspaper doing a story on the rift, I'd have had NO IDEA when the changeover was happening. Google searches and official websites have an appalling lack of information - I understand the new market opens next week, but no idea when, or what its hours of operation will be. It's been frustrating for sure, if they want people to go, they've gotta get the word out!

I'll update my farmers' market listing at the top of this page, once I find out the Seaport Market's hours and such.

There's been some good articles on the move as of late: the Chronicle-Herald did a good one on the rift, and a great opinion piece on the benefits of the move in the Coast.

So, I'm not sure in sum total how I feel about the move, but I do look forward to checking out the new location! We'll see how it goes for everyone involved - time will tell!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Night Visitor

Just stepped out to empty our kitchen compost bin...in the dark, I thought I saw a small dark shape near me on the step. Though it was very dark, something just told me, "that's a frog". Don't know why, just felt it. So I reached indoors and turned on the outdoor light...

And gave a little squeal because I was right, somehow...

He's a big feller, too, as big as my hand, sans fingers. Not like the little guys we've had around here the rest of the summer. Guess the girls will have to wait for their final trip outdoors for the night, he looks pretty comfy where he is....

Ouch - Nova Scotians actually buying *less* locally....

A report in the Chronicle Herald states that Nova Scotians are spending only $0.13 of every food dollar buying locally, down 17% from 1997. In fact, it states on average our food was traveling over 4,000 kilometers (not miles, km) from farm to our plates.

This is not good! As a side note, I was at the grocery store the other night, wanting to pick up some potatoes. In Canada, there's only ONE place you need to get your potatoes from, and that's the bright red soil of PEI. PEI equals potatoes here in Canada. 'Nuff said. But EVERY type of potato sold at the store, BUT ONE, was from the US!? Seriously? Like, I'm talking 10 different bags/styles of potatoes, and they all were from the US. We grow enough potatoes locally and next door in PEI, why are we wasting gas shipping them all the way in from another country?

As it says in the report, as if in answer to my question: "Several factors have contributed to the decline, including larger supermarket chains that can buy and sell cheaper by volume."

If you'll notice, I've added a link in my "home/about" bar at the top of this blog, highlighting some of our local farmers' markets. If you know of other links for farmers' markets in other areas, add them in the comments area of this post! Support local farmers!! :)

Read the full article on the report here: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/1194001.html

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hair Decorations: the next Level

Dazzling photo gallery on Mainichi: tsumami kanzashi, or traditional women's hair ornaments made of tiny folded silk pieces. Absolutely amazing craftsmanship. And some of the ideas he's come up with are just astonishing - cut open watermelon, a shrimp, fir boughs with acorns - just abounding in creativity.

Be sure to check it out! They have photos of the finished product, as well as some images of the process, and a short interview with the craftsman. link

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rainy Day Fun

What a downpour we've been having this morning. The girls still wanted to go out....

We went to the top of the hill, I came prepared with a blanket to sit on, and an umbrella. Lila decided early on to come sit with me under the umbrella, and Casey sat nearby playing goofily with her rock.  Of course, both girls decided that it was best to shake off while standing next to me, and since my blanket soaked through the bottom, I wasn't that dry anyway... :)

When it was getting close to finishing time, I saw a movement in the grass near my feet, and a little brown frog struggled into view.  I said to him "surely you're not looking to sit under the umbrella, too?" but he just stared back at me.  I think he considered it for a minute though...

Rather than have him noticed by the girls, I thought it best we go in, and leave the little guy to his adventure in the woods beyond our yard.  :)

Guess what Casey, you're staying in the basement for a while, you big muddy girl.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BeanDreams: Fruition

A little earlier than I expected, but certainly not unwelcome! I've tasted some already, snacking as I string some supports between bamboo poles, and they are wonderfully crisp and sweet. I hope I have enough to cook with, but that's all up to my restraint, I think! :)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mic Mac Bar and Grill

MicMac Bar and Grill a.k.a. Mic Mac Tavern
217 Waverley Road, Dartmouth

I haven't gone to the Micmac Bar and Grill for probably 10 years at least. I lived outside of town, and didn't come in very often. And after a time, even though my parents used to come there before they were married in 1970 (happy 40 years guys!), and long after, it kinda fell by the wayside of our family vision. Then once I moved back into the city, and coworkers would mention with a glow in their eyes that their treat for the night was going to the Micmac for a steak dinner, and friends of my parents mentioned it to them again, we ended up going there yesterday for supper.

My God, you must go. :)

It was 30+°C yesterday, and just miserable outside, but inside was beautifully cool. The decor is not elaborate, it's very simple and homey. Big wooden chairs, lots of windows, and two levels, with lots of seating (and lots of parking). Not a place where you get dressed up to go eat, just come casual. Not a fancy-dan looking place, but that's because they put their money where it counts: hiring super-friendly and helpful staff, and in the quality of the food.

Our waitress was the granddaughter of the original owners, whose black and white pictures were on the walls. This place is ESTABLISHED, and a family-run business, and looks to continue to be so for generations to come. Her mother and stepfather own the place, and her father cuts/butchers all the steaks and makes the ground beef himself. (We weren't served by just her, though - while she was the main waitress, we had at least 3 different people attending to our needs over the course of the dinner--you never felt ignored.)

Butchering the steaks themselves must be the reason they can keep their prices so low. We had 10-oz filet mignon (bacon wrapped), with fries for $13.99. $13.99!!!. They also have a secret spice medley that only the waitress's dad knows (I hope he has that info backed up somewhere!) that is just incredible. No steak sauce needed! And so tender, just melts in your mouth, a truly amazing piece of beef. I might just go for the 7oz next time, because the 10oz was so big, I had to bring some home (not that that was a bad thing!) One side of mushroom and onions are enough for 2 people, as recommended by our waitress, and she was dead on. Lovely fresh mushrooms too, no canned crap here! Hand cut french fries come in LARGE portions, and if you think you might be cheated by getting baked potato as a side instead, you'd be sorely mistaken. They are enormous! Gravy is true beef gravy, definitely not pre-packaged because it tastes deeply beefy and not too salty.

Did I mention the steaks were incredible? :) I'm sure the other things on the menu are equally well prepared, but for certain, when you ask people about this place, the steaks are what get raved about. Truly a special treat. But inexpensive enough that it doesn't have to be saved for special occasions.

Go early, because when we left at 4.30 pm it looked like it was going to be a packed house.

Directions can be found on Google Maps.

The street view is not quite on, it's actually the blue-gray building next to the one that shows up when you zoom in.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Photo Cards at the Gift Shop!

New photographic greeting cards at my gift shop (Ann's Photography) featuring the best photos from this blog!

Poor Lila, Celebrations don't become her

In case you didn't know, the Queen is visiting our shores, in time to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy. So even from home, when the wind is right, you can clearly hear ships blaring their horns, etc. in celebration. At the end of our playtime today, there was a 21 gun salute, I assume for Her Majesty. Poor Lila, though, thought it was thunder, and even though I counted for her and told her when it was all over and tried to make it fun, she would have none of it and ran down the hill to go inside. Silly, poor dear. Oh well, the people are enjoying it more than she did, I'm sure. :)

(The Queen also arrived in time to mark the 400th anniversary of Grand Chief Henri Membertou’s (of the Mi’kmaq, our indigenous people) baptism into the Catholic Church/peace with the French in 1610.)

July 1st is just around the corner...I hope Lila braces herself for all the fireworks!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mom & Baby Pheasants - In the City??!!

SOOO exciting!!! I've NEVER seen a pheasant in the city proper before (I've heard the males in the woods since we moved here, off and on, but never at all when I was growing up a short distance from here). For a mommy to bring her 3 or 4 little babies to our yard to peck around amongst the clover is just truly a thrill. The babies were well-hidden, we only got a look at them when they got to the trodden-down path in the middle of the lawn. She kept a watchful eye on everyone while keeping herself well-hidden too! The babies were less than 1/4 her size, so they're very young still.

I'm still squealing with glee, and it happened an hour ago! :D

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Moments Ago....

Exciting developments in our clover-covered backyard!! We usually get small white butterflies (the little white butterflies that frequent fields), and when I was growing up near here, we would get the occasional sighting of an Admiral. But this is the first time I've seen a swallowtail butterfly in the city proper, ever! And as I was heading in, I saw we had TWO! So the clover has already been a great feeding ground for local bees, but now we've started to attract bonus wildlife! Huzzah! Very exciting! I didn't get too close to him, I didn't want to bug him and discourage him from his clover feast.

And, our backyard bush, after watching the buds get bigger and bigger, finally burst forth in bloom today! It's covered in these dainty flowers - not a great scent though, but they're lovely to look at. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oh yeah, it's summer...

Well, almost! :) It's going to be a gorgeous day here, the sun is already really hot. Earlier this morning, I caught a bee doing his bee-business while the weather was a little cooler...

This'll be good growing weather for my little garden...

heh heh heh...sorry, distracted by Kuroi (Pretty Kitty)...he's trying out the new water bowl that was outside (the girls just don't drink that much outside, but they're going through lots indoors, so now we have two indoors), and his ears are revolving in a most peculiar way - not twitching, but actually revolving slowly, as he pauses after his first drink - you can see the wheels turning in his mind "is this water good?". He's gone back for more, so I think he's approving...he's a dear little man.

Anyway...the sun will be good for my garden, and all the plants out there - it's been rainy or cloudy for a long time now, and they need the S-U-N! And for the record, if you can at all manage it, having a backyard with a ton of clover in it is AWESOME. I can't tell you how amazing the scent is out there...nothing overpowering, but a lovely delicate perfume on the air. Just magnificent. And good for the bees. :)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Country Farms Meet City Cooking

Great picture! © 2009 CNN GO

Interesting read on CNN GO today, on how a restaurant in Tokyo is making eating regional cuisine a well-rounded experience - city chefs are paired with a regional farm and create delicious seasonal dishes, and diners get to experience a multi-media presentation as they dine, about the farm and growing methods used to get the food to their table.

Read more on CNNGO: http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/eat/tokyo-local-restaurant-275938

Friday, June 04, 2010

BeanDreams: the Peas Continue!

Even though we're going through a bit of a cloudy/rainy spell, weather-wise, the peas are really enjoying the cold temperatures!

This was May 29:

And this was today, June 4:

I think I'm gonna need MUCH taller stakes for them to hang on to than the short little border ones I have there now... :D

My scallions have sprouted, but aren't doing much so far, not really photo worthy yet. And the poor tomatoes all but died when I transplanted them. The outdoors was too harsh for them after a cosy-ish winter indoors. They might still make a comeback...maybe? Only time will tell!

I'm still waiting to plant the peppers, it's just been so rainy it's hard to get a chance to get out there. But the weather should warm up and sunny-up soon, and I'll have a chance to transplant them and they can spread their roots and thrive.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Rainy Day Clover

My goodness, the clover smells divine...even on a rainy day like this. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BeanDreams: Sprouting Success! And Evolving Spring

The peas have sprouted! We are officially on our way! :D

The maple trees have burst forth, and only a few weeks after popping their buds, they've set their seeds.

And the purple varieties of clover have started blooming here, with lovely shades of magenta and dark pink...

It's late spring, and definitely on the way to a lovely summer!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BeanDreams: "The Plan"

It's just too gorgeous outside today NOT to plant something! Even though it's traditional to start plants here during the May long weekend (this weekend, Victoria Day), I'll be working during the whole thing, as its very busy at work. So, I'll start a little early with my cold-loving plants.

I went this year with a combination of bag gardening and container gardening. The bag garden idea is perfectly laid out in this month's issue of Mother Earth News, which I got for my birthday: http://bit.ly/bKYUuu

They make it sound pretty easy! And if we have to move this summer (which it looks like we will), it should be a relatively movable garden, as well. (Of course, I hardly planted anything last year because we thought we'd have to move, and we're still here...so I'm not letting that stop me this year). I'm using Miracle Grow Premium Garden Soil Plus (0.15-0.05-0.10) Organic Based (nice to see the organic base in there).

I'll be growing sugar snap peas (the kind with the edible pod), bunching onions (also called green onions or scallions), both from McKenzie's seeds, available pretty much everywhere in Canada (http://www.mckenzieseeds.com). I purchased eight starter plants of "Long Red" Cayenne, that are supposed to be good for drying. Looking forward to that! I'm also repotting the sad remains of my "Sweet Million" tomato plants that I bought last year. The weather was so poor I got a total of 2 tiny tomatoes from eight plants. I did, however, manage to keep some of them alive over winter, and they've flowered several times during that period, so I'm hopeful if the weather holds, these two guys will be good producers.

Our "last frost date", always approximate, is May 6, here in the Halifax region.This coming week has good temperatures, no lower than 6 deg. C at night. Should be just right to get the peas started. The peppers I won't transplant until they're nice and hardened off, sometime in early June.

I'll keep posting updates, hoping for an early sprouting! :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

BeanDreams 2010: The Return

Regular readers will have noted that I didn't have a BeanDreams last year. That was due to a few factors, the least of which was that we thought we might have to move during the summer. However, summer came and went, and so did winter, and we are still here (although our house is up for sale by our landlord, so we will have to move at some point). But I'm not going to let that stop me this year. I've got a portable garden plan, one that can come with us should we have to leave in the middle of the growing season.

Check out previous year's BeanDreams in the sidebar nav, and watch for updates soon, when I'll share my scaled-down plans with you all!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Spring is here....I think

Well, here's hoping, anyway. Mother Nature seems to think it is, plant-wise, so fingers crossed the weather will follow suit.

The bluets are out, one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom here in Nova Scotia (after the coltsfoot and dandelions, of course. The bluets are just as big as a pinky fingernail, delicate little flowers, but so pretty.

And, a herald of things to come, the wild strawberries have started blooming! After winter, it's so nice to be reminded of the good things to come...