Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hack hack, snort snort!

And I'm at work. 

Plus it's one of those flu bugs that hits all of a sudden:  you go to bed feeling fine and wake up aching and stuffy and sore throat and tired, tired, tired (for Lord's sake).  That just makes me feel like my body has betrayed me.

What did I do, body? I've been feeding you oranges and mangos and chewable Vitamin C. I've been walking and swimming.

Whaaaaa! I just wanna be home on my couch with my blankie. 

But when you work in a small office, there's no one else to fill in for you.  And I must bring home the bacon!

I love bacon!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

In Between Storms ....

Saturday dawned cold, clear and bright. After all the snow and gloom of the past few weeks, it was encouraging to see the snow. This is what it looked like at my house:  
I'd like to get the snow off the roof of the shed; but with no snowshoes or long-handled rake, I don't know when I'll get to that shed next! The driveway has been cleared nicely though.

With one of the worst Februarys on record, a person had better take advantage of the sunshine and get out of the house. Let's head to Lunenburg.

Walking along the waterfront was a little chilly with the wind. But the sunshine was so beautiful and the air so clear and crisp. Look at how pretty Lunenburg looks against the white of the snow and the blue of the sky. It was nice walking weather.

There was a visit to a local consignment shop (I'll post my treasures later); and a stop at one of my favorite Lunenburg Shops Mosaic Treasures (where my Xmas shopping may have begun). And then there was a stop at Sweet Indulgence for refueling.

Hot chocolate and Chai latte really hit the spot.

What a lovely treat it was to take the time to just quietly walk and feast one's eyes, to actually have an opportunity to enjoy the simplicity of a fine winters day -- instead of the usual noise of complaining about yet another snowfall or storm. 

But I don't think the silence will last very long. Today's forecast calls for 25 cm (10 inches) of rain. Oh the mess this could cause! So far, the rain is pretty gentle out there. So, I'm hoping that Old Man winter has decided to settle down for the rest of the season and just rest a bit before he has to leave us for good.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

Happy Chinese New Year! 

This is the Year of the Ram/Sheep/Goat. (I guess they have the same symbol.) I have a friend with a goat farm, so I'm a little partial to them knowing their different personalities.

And, of course, because I like any opportunity to try a new dish, in honor of Chinese New Year, I made Gai See Chow Mein. 

Living in rural Nova Scotia meant that I couldn't get all the authentic ingredients, but it was quite delicious anyway. Stir fried noodles topped with juicy chunks of marinated chicken and bok choy in a lovely soy/oyster sauce/garlic/wine sauce.



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Somethin' fishy about this Shrove Tuesday!

Seeing as I made pancakes just a couple of Saturdays ago, I wasn't really in the mood to make them again today. But it is Shrove Tuesday; and I'm a stickler for tradition as well as it being another opportunity to introduce this tradition to my new international child. So, pancakes it would be for dinner.

But pancakes with a decidedly Korean twist!

Hae Mul Pa Jeon (해물파전) or Seafood Pancake

Into a very small, simple flour, salt and water pancake batter, you toss lots and lots of julienned green onions, chives and zucchini. Spread it out in a heated, oiled skillet. Cook for a little, then sprinkle with lovely chunks of chopped shrimp (and squid, if you like it & can find it -- I do but couldn't find it today). Cook slowly until the first side is golden. Then just before flipping it, pour on one beaten egg. Carefully flip it, fry until golden on the other side and serve with a soy sauce/vinegar dip.

Savory ..... nutritious .... satisfying ..... yummy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

And then it snowed again....

Yup! Like many of you on the Eastern Seaboard, I've just dug out from yet another storm, the 5th in the month of February! We've another one headed our way for Wednesday and another one for this weekend.  What are we gonna do with all the snow?

I took advantage of Saturday's sunshine and milder temperatures to walk .... to my local thrift store. And I had quite good luck: three new-to-me pairs of trousers, a skirt and this "little black dress":

It's a jewellery holder that I saw a few years ago but didn't want to pay the new price. $5 was a much better deal.

That morning, I baked a wonderful batch of Lemon & Candied Ginger scones for Valentine's Day breakfast. 

The storm hit early Sunday morning, and we were house bound until about noon today before the snow and blowing stopped and the digging out began. Today is a holiday for Nova Scotia.  So, with 2 days of mostly sitting on the couch, I've accomplished a lot: I've caught up on an HBO series, my hand-washing & mending is done; I've begun the actual quilting on my grandson's baby quilt; and the remainder of last night's dinner is heating in the oven for tonight - this delicious and very simple recipe for Italian Sausage Bake.

I've also lost one of my students today. My Colombian student is obviously used to much more preferential treatment than this Canadian Mama could give her. She requested a move last week because she "didn't like walking to school (15 min); had to make her own breakfast and school lunch; couldn't have more than 1 shower a day; couldn't keep the heat at 30 degrees in her room (day and night); couldn't stay up until 1 am; and didn't like that I sometimes choose to cook foods that Chihiro and I liked rather than her diet of meat and potatoes only." Really guys; NO vegetables touched that girl's mouth! Then there were other things like when she drank 3 litres of apple juice and 1.5 litres of orange juice herself within 2 days and I said there wouldn't be any more until I got groceries in 2 weeks; so she had to buy her own. Three tumblers of iced tea with every meal! And then there was  my telling her she couldn't fry anything when I wasn't at home because she used 3/4 of my bottle of oil in the first 3 days. (It's scary to come home to an empty oil bottle, grease all over the stove and the pervasive smell of "fat" throughout the house.) And I don't think she liked it that after a few days I decided to dish up the evening meals myself; that meant she got an equal share of the food rather than the biggest and best of what was prepared. There were lots of other issues; but despite the stress and aggravation I was feeling, I thought we'd work through them because of her inexperience. Yet when I was told that her agent wanted her moved, I was quite relieved. She was a very sweet and pleasant princess; but a princess she was indeed! And I doubt her new household will be much different than mine -- this is Canada and not Colombia.  

It's not often you get students like this. Most of the students who come realize what it means to immerse themselves in Canadian culture and the treasures to be gained in doing so. This poor little girl and her parents don't understand. And that's the really sad thing: not only will she miss out on a lot of fun and love if she continues this way but there will be no opportunity for growth or learning. 

Oh well! C'est la vie! 

Just me and my little Japanese chicken here in this coop. And what a treasure she is. 

Now, if only the weather would change it's "attitude" life would really get easier for me. 
But I've a feeling that as it's still only mid February, I need to change my expectations.

Monday, February 9, 2015

In the midst of ice and snow

I love that in the midst of ice and snow and this month of storm after storm after storm, there is warmth to be found in small wonderful things:

.....in a cup of tea at work and a shared conversation, laughing at the frustrations of dealing with modern-day technology as well as old-fashioned jerks on the phone.

..... in a lovely pair of recycled/refashioned mittens made from an old sweater. I bought them at a craft show last year, and they're my favorite pair of mittens.

..... in a good book under the fleece blanket on the couch or in bed with my heating pad at my lower back. This one is a fictional story about the collapse of the cod fishing industry in Newfoundland -- something near and dear to my heart.

..... in a warm muffin with butter -- Streusel topped Strawberry Rhubarb muffins, to be exact; and they remind me of the warmth of last summer..

..... and short but beautiful winter evening walks around the neighborhood -- to "blow the stink off me" as my father-in-law used to say. This scene is part of our local trail system in town and is beautiful any time of year.

What's helping to keep you warm (and sane) this winter?

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Daughters

Saturday morning driving was NOT fun: quite slippery in some spots but thankfully only rain fell, and as I (and everyone else on the highway) drove very cautiously, we arrived safely at the airport.

Lena's flight left mid afternoon on schedule.  But when the time came for the German students to go through security, the place was awash with tears. In this pic, Lena managed a smile while I could only manage a grimace! And we certainly weren't the only ones crying.  Even with new students, I feel the lack of her presence. She was particularly special.

Paula (Pau) from Colombia had been due to arrive at 2:30 am; but with various delays, she didn't make it until 3 pm.  We drove home, and got up the next morning to head back to pick up Chihiro from Japan. Finally, we are home safely and settled with school supposed to start for them on Wed. We'll see if that happens after tomorrow's predicted storm.  

Aren't they lovely! My new family.
Instead of a lonely, single woman, I am a "new" Mom: and the lack of freedom, privacy and energy that I sometimes experience is always outweighed by the fun, laughter and experiences we'll have together.  

Oh my goodness! Pau calls me Mom! I've heard just a few other internationals do that, but this is my first time. And it melts my heart! And I think I may have heard little, shy Chihiro calling me Mom last night when she went to bed.  Sigh! 

Neither girl speaks much English, but that will come. The next few weeks will be busy ones for them and curious ones for us as a family: figuring out sleep patterns, food likes and dislikes, bathroom times, etc.

But I've a feeling that they're going to be delightful.


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