Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's gonna be a wet Halloween!

No!  Not that kind of wet!

It's gonna be the kind of wet night that puts you in mind of:

It's gonna be the kind that's perfect for spooking and creeping and being thrilled and/or scared; the kind of night where only the brave walk down dark lanes to the kind of big old Victorian houses that this region is full of.

But NOT a perfect night for trick or treating.  Sandy is only affecting us slightly; we're very fortunate!  Still, we're having heavy rainfall and winds in southern Nova Scotia (and there's thunder rumbling outside); and both are just supposed to get worse as the evening progresses.  So all the wee gobblins and ghosties --- little ones and international ones --- are going to get awfully wet tonight if they even venture out at all.  

I shall be spending my day at work - snug and dry - with my radio blasting and a hot cuppa chai at my side.  And I shall be periodically stopping to pray:

"Please Lord!  Stop the rain so the trick or treaters can come out ..... and I won't be forced to eat any more of those mini bags of chips or fun size Caramilk bars!"

Monday, October 29, 2012


How ironic!  Look what's in my Autumn flower box.

Petunias blooming after Saturdy and Sundays beautiful sunshine.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia is just beginning to feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  The winds are picking up and the rain is "pecking" as we say in Newfoundland (sporatic drizzly rainfall).  We'll be hit with the worse of Sandy tomorrow and early Wednesday, but so far, it doesn't seem like she'll hit us full force -- just lots of wind and rain.  We are some of the fortunate ones.

But let's move away from the impending storm and check out  Friday night's Halloween party with the international students.

Thursday night, the girls and I carved pumpkins.  I printed off some pictures from the internet, but they took those ideas and made them their own.  I was so impressed.  Natsumi carved a beautiful homage to her beloved Japan, painstakingly drawing the islands, tracing them on to her pumpkin and then carving around them -- 3 hours of steady work.  I thought it was beautiful.

But it was Elly's pumpkin that won 1st place at the party.  
Nooooo!  Don't eat Korea!

Here are some of the other pumpkins entered.  The cat (lower right) won 2nd place and the owl 3rd.

And here are some of the great costumes:  Elly is the one with the great legs in the upper left picture; Natsumi is the surprised pirate in the upper right; and I am the cowgirl with the natural blond braids!!  

They danced like crazy (Gangnam Style; Moves like Jagger) and sang along with all the Taylor Swift.  And then we had the most awesome pizza! Liverpool is a tiny town with just a few shops; but they have one of the best pizza joints I've ever come across.  Lots of fun.

And thank goodness they got to have that fun because if Sandy has her way, it may be the only Halloween many of them will experience!

Disclaimer:  I would like to apologize for myself and all the other Sandys out there who have nothing to do with this monster storm.  I'm praying she gets blown out to sea and does no more damage.

Stay safe and dry everyone!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Oct 25.12

I spent last weekend in the city with my parents; Mama had a cornea transplant, and thank you God that everything went well and she's safely and happily back home in Newfoundland.  

Friday night, I stayed at a B&B downtown; I had a coupon that needed to be used before the end of the year, and I thought it would be good to go back to a quiet place after the anxiousness and stress of my Mom's operation.  I was right! 
It was a lovely place with a comfortable bed, a mini fridge for my  wine and a radio already set to a soothing, oldies station.
I lay back in the bubbles and listened to Elvis and Pat Boone and Rosemary Clooney .... and I said a little prayer of thanks as the tension melted away.

On Sat afternoon while my Mom had a nap, Dad and I went to ValueVillage.  Thank goodness for fathers who love thrift stores!

This was my big prize for the day:  a Chinese collapsible brass tray table for $24.99.  I've wanted one of these since the 70's:  better late than never!

Do you pray before you thrift shop?  I do!  And God answered my prayers big time on this trip.  I needed/wanted a good pair of brown shoes:  I found brand new Clarks slip-ons for (again) $24.99!  Brand new, people!

And just 'cause He loves me, He threw in another pair of very, very comfortable black suede-like wedges with a pretty flower detail on the back ($12.99).

I got 2 shirts for $2.99 each.  And because I couldn't find my new brown cardigan that I bought last winter, I thought I should buy this nice brown one for $7.99.  (Whereupon, of course, I found my former brown cardigan the day after I arrived home!  C'est la vie!)

My Dad insisted on paying for everything including my Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks -- "To say thank you for my giving up my weekend to be with them."  I would never have stayed away; but it made me feel like a little girl again to have my Daddy buy me treats.

(Grown up treats are a tad more expensive than the popsicle and penny candy that satisfied me when I was 10, aren't they Daddy!)

How was your thrifting this week?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Happy List - Oct 23.12

These things that I'm feeling particularly happy about today:

Sooo tender & delicious!

  1. My Mom's cornea transplant going well, getting to spend the weekend in the city with my parents, her quick recovery and their safe return home.
  2. Souvlaki at the "Athens Restaurant" Sat night.
  3. Value Village shopping with my Dad.
  4. A glass of wine with my Mom on her birthday Sunday.
  5. Sunshine and vibrant Autumn days
  6. Happy Asian daughters 
  7. Korean dumplings.
  8. The love of God.
  9. Laura Secord French Mint chocolate bars.
  10. Pumpkin carving.

What makes you happy today?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thrifty Thursday and a Halifax Day Trip

Saturday the 13th, the girls and I went to Halifax for Korean food.  A woman can only go so long with her dumplings!

I checked Koo-E Nami's website before we left home.  We arrived at 2:20 pm but were told that they weren't serving because they were getting ready for the dinner buffet.  When I explained that we'd come all the way from Bridgewater and that the website said they were open until 3 pm, they did serve us; but we were rushed by the waitress the whole time.  That was not pleasant!  Elly and Lee's chicken appetizer was burnt (and we were still charged).  Elly's entree Kimchi soup was super-duper spicy hot -- and there was not a cooling glass of milk to be had in the place!  But overall, the food was quite good -- not as good as Seoul Restaurant, but close.  And I had a Groupon coupon which made the meal worthwhile.

We plan on using a 2nd Groupon coupon to go back for the dinner meal Korean barbeque which I've never had.  Let's give Koo-E Nami another chance.

Still, one doesn't want to go too long without Korean dumplings, right?  So, a visit to the J&J Korean Mart was in order.  I think this will satisfy me for a while!
You know I never go to the city without a stop at Value Village.  The girl's shopped for Halloween costumes.  And although I didn't find the navy blue pants or skirt that I want, but I did find a few other good buys.  (Also included are a couple of recent Frenchie's purchases.)  

Frenchie's netted me these great Eifel Tower earrings for 75 cents, the Belly Dancing kit for $1.50 and the wonderful big bright bowls for 75 cents each.
This wonderful scarf will look so nice next to my navy blue shirt.

I came home with a full belly, money still in my pocket, and a car full of sleepy, happy girls.  It was such a nice relaxing day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ground Cherries

Now that our local Farm Market is closed for the season, I want to visit a few others -- both to keep my larder stocked with fresh produce as long as possible AND to get ideas on how to improve our own market.  Last Saturday, we stopped at the Hubbard's Farm Market.  It was a beautifully sunny but very cold day.  I needed that cup of fresh coffee (and that chocolate croissant).

They had a nice selection of produce as well as crafts and various foods inside the barn.  I never imagined I'd find fresh local strawberries in October; but I did!  We ate some delicious sushi -- a sweet potato & avocado as well as a spicy date.  I got to buy my favorite mesclun blend of greens (Thank you Rumtopf Farms) and 7 grain bread (Julian's Bakery).  

I also bought something brand new to me:  Ground Cherries.

Google says:  Ground cherries are also known as a Cape Gooseberry.  It's a small orange fruit inside a paper lantern and is a member of the tomato and Chinese Lantern family of fruit.

It's low in calories, fat and contains no cholesterol.  It's a good source of Niacin (B3) and vitamens A & C.  It's believed to inhibit cancer and lower cholesterol, protect against cold and flu, lower blood pressure and protect against Parkinson's.  It also contains pectin which helps regulate our blood sugar, so that makes it a great fruit to eat if you have a sweet tooth that you'd like to tame.  

According to one site, "It has a pleasant, unique tomato/pineapple like blend."  I find it similar to a Tomatillo but softer, sweeter and not nearly as tart.  

You can eat it raw (which I did and was the reason I bought it), use it in salads, jams, jellies or salsas.  It can be dried and eaten like a raisin; and get this -- it is excellent when dipped in chocolate!

Did I need any further encouragement?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Green Tomato Marmalade!

I've been canning and preserving for about 25 years.  I love home made -- yours or mine!  If I didn't have to work, I've often thought that I could easily and very happily can & bottle & create and sell at the Farmer's Market.  It's like giving a little bit of your love away!   But with my smaller family, I certainly don't can like I used to.  (There's a lot of things I don't do like I used to; but don't get me started on that list!)  Now-a-days when I make pickles or jams, they usually last me 2 years and that includes giving half as gifts. 

I love trying new recipes and giving them to my unsuspecting guinea pig friends and relatives in their Xmas package.  How else would most people have the nerve to try things like Cucumber Jelly or Bacon Jam.  Or ................

Green Tomato Marmalade!
Diced green tomatoes, a little water, a lotta sugar, grated orange &  lemon rind and finely chopped candied ginger --
Slowly simmered for 2 hours over very low heat --
Makes for some wonderful aromas!

And what makes it even nicer is that the green tomatoes were a gift from one of the small farmers at my local Bridgewater Farmer's Market.  We swapped my canning knowledge for their sweat 'n' tears produce.

I got the tastiest end of that bargain!  It's absolutely delicious!

  • Have you been eating any tasty, different/interesting food lately?
  • How many of you out there have tried chocolate-covered bacon?  (And if you have, I'm jealous.)

PS - If you'd like the recipe for the Green Tomato Marmalade, email me and I'll send it to you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hey Shawty, It's Your Birthday!

In the words of that musical genius "50 Cent":

Go, go, go shawty 
It's your birthday 
We gon' party like it's yo birthday 
We gon' sip Bacardi like it's your birthday

Disclaimer:  I will not be sipping Bacardi!  A nice dry red wine perhaps, but demon rum will never pass these ruby-red lips!

I went to my new Wednesday-only job; and my new boss came in with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  Then later, my good friend Lucy came in with my annual pot of Mums.  

When I went home, there was dinner and presents, all prepared and presented by my two beautiful Asian daughters.  Dinner was a sort-of Beebimbob using Spam (very popular in Korea -- and I managed to refrain from jumping up and singing Monty Python's "Spam" song [which I love]).  They both bought the same birthday card for me (at separate times), and the cards were filled with lovely hand-written sentiments.  It was sooo sweet!

There were upteen phone and Facebook messages for me yesterday.  There was promises of treats and packages in the mail from children who couldn't be with me.  And this morning on my desk at my regular 4-day-a-week job there was an envelope with $40 in it and a note from my boss to "treat myself"!  As well, we have a weekend city-day-trip coming up with a visit to a Korean restaurant and my favorite thrift store.  Wow!  What a birthday!

I'm just going to use the excuse that not only do YOU move slower as you age, festivities must be   d-r-a-w-n    o-u-t    so as not to tire us out too much and/or confuse us, right?.  

I don't feel any older or wiser ..... and the latter may never come!  But I sure do feel blessed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Talkin' Turkey on a Thrifty Tuesday!

I chose to celebrate Thanksgiving on Sunday and not our holiday Monday.  (I prefer a day of work & overindulgence to be followed by a day of recouperation & rest.)  While others slumbered, I got up and prepared food and set the table.  This was the first time using this thrifted tablecloth ($1) and  plates and turkey platter ($4 total).  The white serving bowls were also thrifted ($1 each); the green depression glass pitcher and stemmed glassware I've had for 20 years or so.  I was really pleased with the festive look of the table.

Here's my homage to American Thanksgiving with my Pilgrim Bear ($1).  The Thanksgiving display also included thrifted turkey shakers ($1), Dollar Store pumpkins & fake flower display, my gifted acorn plate, and this summer's Antique Store purchase of the green depression glass cranberry sauce bowl.

As I mixed & stirred & baked & stuffed & peeled, the morning was still dark outside.  But there was folk music playing in the background, a great cup of coffee and a Morning Glory ('cause that's how it felt to me!) muffin from the Market.  I get such a sense of joy and well-being when I prepare these special meals for my family.

There was an opportunity for a quick snooze on the sofa before Daughter #2 arrived and dinner was ready to be served:  turkey, mashed potatoes, mashed turnip, carrots, oven roasted maple squash and a lovely, light tasting homemade cranberry sauce.  But the star for me was my dressing:  I used a loaf of good quality french bread, fresh Market herbs, and chopped apples & dried, plumped cranberries.  It was baked outside the turkey and had a slight crust to it.  But WOW!  So good!
The delicious meal was accompanied by a glass of  cranberry "Red Barn" wine from a local winery (It got the "Molly" stamp of approval!).  After dinner, I lounged and the girls cleaned up.  Then dessert was served and the card games came out:  Skip-Bo and Phase 10.  It was Natsumi's first time playing, and she loved it.  We taught Elly last year, and the little scamp has the nerve to consistently beat us 80% of the time!  

As I mentioned a few days ago, dessert was Martha Stewart's chocolate pumpkin cheesecake squares.  (It's easy to find her recipe online.)  

The girls loved them.  But this being my second attempt at mixing pumpkin and cream cheese, I have to say I'm not overly fond of them together.  Individually?  YES!  Give me cheesecake or give me pumpkin pie ..... or give me a piece of each.  But I shall not marry them again.

It was a stellar day -- very relaxing and filled with good food and lots of laughter.  Just the way a holiday should be!  

It gave me something else to be particularly thankful for.

How'd you spend your weekend?  Up to your ears in turkey?  Or was it beans and weiners?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thanksgiving Prep

This is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.  Monday is a statutory holiday for us (yeahhhhh!); and on Sunday, millions of us will sit with friends and family for a huge feast.  

I prepare much the same food at Thanksgiving that I do at Christmas; but I enjoy the Thanksgiving meal more.  Perhaps it's just because I haven't had turkey and stuffing since last December.  But I think it's also because "giving thanks" is the focus of the entire holiday weekend.  I love Xmas, don't get me wrong.  But isn't it lovely to have one day that just revolves on thanking God for the blessings in our lives.  

I shall thank God for my wonderful family -- the ones here and the ones absent -- for my health, my home, my job and for His presence and His provision in  my life.  And of course, for my friends ..... some of whom will be gathered round my own groaning table!   

Some of my more intimate Canadian friends who will, I'm sure, be thanking God for the invite to this Sunday's festivities!

We'll enjoy roast turkey with bread/cranberry/apple stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, carrots, turnips, squash, and lashings and lashings of gorgeous gravy!

I made the mistake of asking my little Asian daughters what I should make for dessert, all the while envisioning pumpkin or apple pie.  

"Cheesecake" was their immediate and unanimous reply.  They know what they like.

So, I'm making chocolate/pumpkin cheesecake squares (which should resemble Martha's above).  

I'll also thank God for my Saturday morning job at the Farmer's Market.  AND I'll say goodbye to these new friends until spring of 2013.  Tomorrow is our last market day as the dwindling harvest, our meeting outdoors and Nova Scotia's increasingly cold and damp days are all encouraging us to pack up for the season.  It will be bittersweet.  But there'll be no more rushing off at 7:20 am.  I anticipate sweet Saturdays of lingering tea and newspapers and quiet mornings alone.  And perhaps I'll finally get caught up on those little extras I've been meaning to get done.

I'm loving October.  There are times that I drive home from work and I'm gob-smacked (as they say on Coronation Street) at the splendor of some of the trees.  Yesterday we had brilliant sunshine; driving next to the river with a riot of gold, red, orange and brown on the other side was spectacular.  

 If you're celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, what's on your menu?  Are you trying anything new?  

And as I anticipate the very unholy gluttony which will take place across the country, I leave you with this:

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious and your pies take the prize.
And may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs!
- Author unknown

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Two years ago, I had a Mexican student stay with me who would occasionally cook.  
Bendice su pequeño corazón Mexicano santo!
(Bless her little sainted Mexican heart!)

But trying to create international dishes is not always easy in rural Nova Scotia; you have to do a little improvising, at times.  One of the things we often looked for was salsa verde and/or canned tomatillos.  We never did find them.

But what did my eyes espy at the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago?

So, I scooped up those little sticky, papery suckers and brought them home.  Then I googled lots and lots of information and recipes; and I eventually decided on a tomatillo salsa verde to be served over chicken enchiladas.

Wash the tomatillos, cut them in half and roast them along with a couple of cloves of garlic under the broiler for 5-7 min, to blacken the skin.  Finely chop these along with 1/2 cup white onion, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 hot peppers.  Cool in the refrigerator.

Warm the tortillas in a skillet, "paint" each with a little sauce, put a small scoop of sauteed chicken, orange peppers & scallions in the centre, roll up and place in a baking dish.  Mix the remainder of the sauce with 1 cup of sour cream, spread over the top, sprinkle with some shredded cheese, and pop under the broiler until the cheese melts.

These were wonderful!  One of the most unique and delicious dishes I've eaten in a long time.
The sauce has a very tangy, almost sour taste to it but not the least unpleasant, quite the contrary.  There was a little bite from the hot peppers, the chicken was juicy, the whole grain tortillas were very soft and easy to cut (perfect with this sauce), and the sour cream mellowed out the pungency of the tomatillos.  

All praise the humble tomatillo!  
This is one of my new favorite dishes.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rabbit, Rabbit!

Can you believe it!  It's the first of October already!  But I'm not complaining; October is one of my favorite months.  

Not just because my birthday falls this month, and I shamelessly use that day to any and all advantage to myself.  

Advantages such as:

  • Buying myself a lavish gift which I hide under my bed until the happy day.  But then I forget about it and often end up buying a second [or even third] lavish gift
  • Using the week before and the week after to get together for birthday lunches with my friends
  • Enticing whatever children are within a 100 mile radius to cook for me, clean the house, fetch me glasses of water (or wine), sing me joyous songs -- all of which I prefer to gifts (But I have such sweet children that I usually end up with gifts as well.)
  • Carrying some homemade goodie to work  to share my special day with others (because I believe that if you can turn another year older and still breathe and enjoy fairly good health that this is something to be celebrated)
  • and so on and so on.

But when I woke this morning and said "Rabbit, Rabbit", I smiled and sighed deeply and contentedly all because I realized it was October.... and October makes me happy! 

...Perhaps it's because nature, in its last hurrah, puts on such a beautiful display of color.  

...Perhaps it's the planning of family day trips and walking adventures ( the beach, Keji Adjunct, Noggins Farms) before it gets really cold.   

...Perhaps it's because of the various scents around me:  apples at the market, pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving (this weekend in Canada), people in the country burning their leaves, hot chocolate after being outside.

...Perhaps it's because I get to change up my wardrobe and re-unite with old friends (like my gorgeous teal, cable knit cardigan, or my comfortable red leather walking shoes).  

...Perhaps it's because it's a new TV viewing season and favorite shows are returning.

...Perhaps it's because I can tuck away the flower beds and not worry about weeding or mowing.

...Perhaps it's because I know my busy life will slow down considerably and I'll get to enjoy more days at home, cooking, nesting, reading, hanging with the girls.

...Perhaps it's the anticipation of my favorite holiday, Christmas -- the joy of my annual Xmas letter to old dear friends, deciding on which cookies to make this year, wrapping the gifts I've been buying throughout the year, children coming home.

Perhaps it's a combination of all of these things.  But I sure do love October.  

How about you:  
Are you upset at summer's demise?  
Is November a more favoured month with my American friends?
Do you dread the cold, the naked branches, the thought of being a little more house-bound?


  Sorry! I thought I could return to a normal schedule. But my sense of 'normal' has changed. After the past 5 years of various ailm...