Look what came in the mail today…

 Jessica picked up something exciting at the post office today.

A fancy, biodegradable envelope full of little white envelopes full of…

…seeds!

Lots and lots of seeds!

In our excitement, Jess and I met at Home Hardware immediately after work to buy further supplies – soil, a flat of little pots for seedlings, gardening gloves, a trowel. When we got home and did some further research, we realized we shouldn’t be planting anything until mid-to-late March, but at least now we’re prepared!

*Jess took the pretty pictures on her lunch break today.*

A Skiing Weekend

Back in January, Jess, her mother-in-law, and I signed up for classic cross-country ski lessons. My one and only experience with the sport was a phys. ed. class when I was 12, so I didn’t have high expectations for myself. But Burns Lake has a fantastic ski club with lots of beautiful trails and with a long winter stretching ahead of us, we wanted to take full advantage.

During our first lesson we were told cross-country skiing is the best workout you can get, as it works so many muscles, plus elevates your heart rate. Three two-hour lessons later, we believed it. Each lesson was followed by a hearty meal and some serious couch time (handily enough, the latest season of The Bachelor started the same day as our first lesson).

This weekend we hit the trails again for a Saturday afternoon workout. There was a fresh falling of snow, the sun was peaking through, and it was just beautiful. I think it’s safe to say, that this is quickly turning into our favourite way to exercise. I went back to the club again this morning for refresher lesson, and three hours later, I’m beat! Truthfully, I’m not sure if my legs are going to work tomorrow. But all the fresh air and the extra tips were well worth it. Here’s to fun ways to get exercise!

gardening like a pioneer

I recently talked with the most avid, successful gardener that I know (Cam’s grandma), trying to determine when the best time to plant seeds here in Burns Lake is. She informed me that with my indoor heat lamps and greenhouse capabilities, I could begin as early as late March, which is incredible considering that most northern gardeners have to wait until May long weekend, but not Linette and I. No sir, we can begin shortly!

So with that news in mind we decided to attend a soil health course put on by the local college. However, we definitely had to take a ferry to the “Southside” to get to the course and we definitely missed our ferry, which leaves gardening in the hands of amateurs with no education. Good thing we aren’t real pioneers. Despite missing our exciting soil health course, we thankfully will still have Betty (and the internet) on our side when we need help learning about bolting, indeterminate(s), and feathering (among other gardening terminology).

The other good thing about not being real pioneers is that we could order our seeds online (and learn gardening + seed preserving skills) from Salt Spring Seeds. We are looking forward to growing a variety of veggies that are not available in our northern grocery stores and potentially storing them for winter, provided they don’t get the blight.

I fully expect our seeds to arrive in the next week or two and we will definitely be back with incredible photos and tidbits as we journey into gardening like a pioneer…with indoor heat lamps and a greenhouse…

Winter/Sick Knitting

I’ve been relegated to the “sick couch” far too often this winter. I’m not sure what it is about this northern air – I thought it would be refreshing, but it appears to be pretty darn germ-ridden. The only bright spot to all this couch time is that when I’m not sleeping, I am getting in some serious knitting.

A new toque for a friend. Turn a Square – the perfect man hat and such a simple construction. If you have been wanting to tackle knitting, this is a project that will help you learn the basics.

A delightfully squishy baby blanket to welcome the cutest new baby in the world. If only he wasn’t all the way in Hawaii…

And I’ve started my very first sweater! I joined a knit-along, with the goal to cast-off by the end of March. I decided on the Bailey Cardigan, because it seems simple, but pretty enough that I will get a lot of wear out of it.

Now back to ginger ale and napping.

chicken soup

Image

This morning I awoke to brilliant blue skies and delicate hoar frost. Inspired, I took a few pictures and then promptly ran back inside to warm up. Despite the fact that northern winters are frigid, they are exceptionally beautiful and mornings with hoar frost are no exception!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last few weeks have been filled with travel and chaos for me, so in order to slow down and really appreciate the beautiful, peaceful day that I had in front of me I thought I would do one of my most favourite activities: cooking! And what better to make on a cold day but a steaming bowl of mama’s chicken soup, of course. My mom’s recipe is the very best one that I have found and given the opportunity, I think that you might love it too.

Here are the basics:

1 whole chicken
olive oil
a bunch of carrots
a handful of celery
onion
shallots
cabbage
spinach
cilantro
salt & pepper

I used to make this in a crock pot, but sauteing the onions first yields a much more delicious flavour. I heat the olive oil in a large stock pot first. I add the roughly chopped onion, celery, and carrots and let them sizzle. When the onions are translucent I throw that whole chicken in the pot and cover it with water. I bring it to a boil, then let it simmer until the chicken falls apart. 

Once the chicken is ready, I strain the fresh broth out of the pot and set that aside. I take the meat off the bones and set that aside as well. Once I am a real pioneer I will use the mushy veggies, bones and skin for something sophisticated but until that time comes I discard  it…

Now, back to the stove. I drizzle the pot with a bit of olive oil and add finely chopped shallots and roughly chopped celery and carrots.

I let these mingle and soften on medium heat before adding the broth and chicken pieces in. This ensures that my soup has the fresh crunch of veggies that aren’t overcooked. Once the broth is in, I add a considerable amount of salt and pepper (and whichever spices seem to fit my mood at the time) to flavour the broth. A person really could stop there and sit down to enjoy some tasty soup. But not me, at this point I like to add any other vegetables I have. Today they happened to be spinach and cabbage. Finally, my mom’s big secret was the cilantro.

I sprinkle a healthy serving into my personal serving and maybe a dash of sriacha if I am feeling particularly daring. Enjoy!

The Joy of Mason Jars

I just started a two-month house-sitting gig in a beautiful house on a lake a few kilometers outside of town. As a way to keep my food separate from from all the food in this well-stocked kitchen, yesterday I bought some mason jars.

Not only are they functional and handy, they also look beautiful and inspire me to make delicious food (and coffee). Maybe some quinoa burgers or some caramelized onion and  goat cheese cornbread will be on the not-too-distant menu.