Saturday, January 29, 2011

Poor Red Bridge Pond...

And poor homeowners! This is a lovely pond, home to ducks and other waterfowl, a scenic little place very close to my home growing up. I used to go there all the time!

Some extremely thoughtless thieves stole $15 worth of copper from four homes (that's $15 TOTAL) - the lines that run from the homes' furnace oil tank. And because of this, there is MONTHS of work that needs to be done and untold thousands of $$ in cleanup. Furnace oil is in the pond, leeching into the soil, traveling to connecting waterways. It's a huge, huge mess. And I thought people stealing copper from churches was bad...

[EDIT: Oh, and it turns out they've hit local businesses too, same M.O. They HAVE to catch these guys!]

Monday, January 24, 2011


I love the patterns that ice makes throughout winter, some are really amazing.

This one was the result of overflow of our gutter, followed by a slight thaw, then freezing. I've never seen crystals grow out like that before.

This was an area near our door - you can see the shattered remains of the ice that was there previously through the thin areas of the current ice sheet.

And this was Jack Frost on the windows this morning! The patterns are just so amazing, they remind me of the lovely vining designs of medieval manuscripts.

And closer...

And closer...

Lovely, lovely stuff... it's -15 deg C out there right now, with a windchill of -26 deg C. More ice to come! :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Natural Farming

I've been coming across a lot of information on this style of farming lately. Today, via Reddit, I found this article on Natural Farming practices in Hawaii - and before that, I read up on Fukuoka's "One Straw Revolution" which he started back in the 1070s. (Also read Mother Earth News' article on Building Fertile Soil). These and others are advocating less human intrusion in the growing process, and allowing nature (and soil microbes/worms/etc) to do the majority of the work. There are only a few times in the growing cycle that humans need to be involved in, but they must be done at just the right time and the right way, for the crops to be successful. It's very specific to each region as well - the methods and cycle that work in one area is not really directly transferable to other areas - so you have to take the ideas and adapt them to your local area.

I really love the idea of stepping away from the process and allowing this underground network to do most of the "heavy lifting". And best of all, this is a "no-till" system! It's a rather radical change from the way we've been doing farming, but with comparable yields to modern farming and NO pesticides, it seems to be something really worth looking at! Check out those articles, they're great reads.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Great article on Eating At Home

I read a great article today on the Huffington Post via Time magazine - How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life, by Mark Hyman, MD. Well worth a read, it talks about the changes to the American (and by extension Canadian) diet over the last one hundred years have led to problems for the environment, obesity, and the loss of valuable cooking skills to future generations. Two points that were shocking and sad to see:

1) "In in five breakfasts [was] from McDonald's."
2) "In his series, 'Food Revolution,' Jamie Oliver showed us how we have raised a generation of Americans who can't recognize a single vegetable or fruit..."

Regarding 1), I love McDonalds as a special treat, but it's not a good idea to have that much deep-fried goodness so often!

Regarding 2), I enjoyed taking pictures of fruit and veggies in situ during Agrifest in 2006 as a way (hopefully) that kids could see what these things look like in the ground, as they often look different when they get to the grocery store, and different again when they reach the plate. But it's shocking to hear that kids wouldn't be able to identify them even in their grocery store form. That is really scary. A fruit cup puree is not a fruit. There's almost always added sugars and syrups. Worse than a fruit cup puree is (probably) no fruit at all.

It used to be that you'd run into the occasional person who couldn't cook, and it was a bit of a joke. But if NO ONE in your family cooks, that is a serious concern! (Heating microwave dinners doesn't count as cooking!) If no one can cook, you're either a) eating too much take out - which has a lot of foods that are purchased for their long shelf life (preservatives, TONS of excess salt/sodium), deep fried, or processed meats (as above, preservatives and salt), or b) buying convenience foods from the grocery store, which pretty much have the same drawbacks. If you don't have to chew your food very much, then it's probably too processed (and a crispy fried coating outside doesn't count!). :) Our bodies don't run their best on stuff they don't even have to work at to digest.

Annnywayyyyy, the article is very interesting, and definitely worth a read. There's lots of good tips in there!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Really bad news about the contest

As I mentioned recently, Hope for Wildlife was up for a $100,000 grant to finish their Wildlife Hospital. Just got the horrible news that they have been disqualified - I'm heartbroken, I don't know how badly they must all be feeling.

What happened was, they offered for anyone who wanted to support Hope for Wildlife, but didn't want to spend the time it takes to vote everyday (I have to say, voting is a bit of a pain, you have to click "Vote for this idea", then login, then do a Turing test, THEN click on "vote for this idea" again. But I love these people, so I do it), :) that you could send HFW your user name and password, and once a day one of the volunteers would go in and do your vote for you. Not flooding with false votes, or more than one vote a day or anything, just trying to save people who wanted to help time out of their busy day. But apparently Pepsi considered that "proxy voting" and that is against the rules. So they were kicked out of this round, and have to try to get into an upcoming round.

They were doing so very well, and could have used that money so much for their new facility. I feel absolutely miserable. It's all just so unfortunate.

They do plan on running again, and when they do, I'll post the info here.

I'm going to go be bummed now.... :(

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vote for Hope For Wildlife!

Hope for Wildlife is up for a $100,000 grant from, in hopes of using that money to complete Nova Scotia's first Wildlife Veterinary Hospital. I've talked with and gotten help from Hope several times over the years, she is an amazing person, and has created a wonderful place for hurt and distressed wild animals to get the care they need to be released back into the wild. But they need a little help to get the facility to the level they'd like it to be. Read more about their plans, and please, please, please vote (you can vote one time a day) at Pepsi Refresh Everything.

Here's some previous posts I've made regarding Hope For Wildlife as well:

They're on facebook, too!!/hopeforwildlife

Friday, January 07, 2011

Food pics from last night

Here's all the dishes I made for dinner last night:

From the top right, clockwise:
Baked Haddock fillets, McCain's Spicy Fries, salmon fish cakes, compote, fried mushrooms and onions with beer. Missing from photo: Greek salad, home-made pickle.

And the Cape Breton Post is running an article on Old Christmas featuring the parish of the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church in Sydney (where my mom grew up and we still have family). Check it out here!

Have a great Christmas day!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sviat Vechir dinner tonight

Tonight is Ukrainian Christmas eve, aka Sviat Vechir. Traditionally, twelve meatless and dairyless dishes are served (in honour of the 12 apostles, or from pagan times, the 12 months of the year). But when you have a small family (just Dave and I, in this case), some of the traditional dishes are just too elaborate to warrant making. So, adapting is sometimes necessary, and in this case, I try to present a variety of small meatless dishes in lieu of the traditional twelve (and suited a bit more to our tastes). :)

My menu will consist of

- fried haddock
- a mushroom and onion stir fry - mushrooms usually feature prominently in the Christmas eve dinner
Chopped shiitake, button and crimini mushrooms with diced onions, cooked in canola oil with a little beer added in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cook until liquid is evaporated.
- fish cakes
A small can of salmon, mashed with 2-3 mashed potatoes. Formed into patties, coated in flour, and fried in canola oil till crispy on the outside.
- Greek pasta salad, without added feta cheese
- compote
my own style, based on fruits we have around the house - a few raisins, dates and apples, simmered in water, with a touch of honey and spiced rum.
McCain's spicy potato wedges
- homemade relish pickle made in the summertime

There's tons of great recipes for the traditional 12 dishes served, here are a few links to get you started:

Enjoy your Christmas eve dinner! And the lovely smoked-meat-fest that Christmas day will bring - I know we will! :D

[EDIT: Here's some great pics from around the world of people celebrating Christmas this night:]