weekends at home

We based our decision to move to the north, in part, on the desire to simplify and to therefore have more time to enjoy our lives. That was easy enough at first. But then we got jobs and friends and commitments, which are all somehow amplified during the summer months.

However, now that the snow has begun to settle over our little town, northern life has begun to slow, bringing about a welcome change for me personally. One of my favourite things to do when this change occurs is to have slow mornings at home; to take the time to grind fresh coffee, light a few candles, and cook the mornings away. On the menu this morning was my take on eggs benedict, complete with creamy hollandaise made from my fresh, homemade butter and crispy back bacon from Happy Pig.

Butter

I don’t know about you, but I love butter. On everything.

I was raised a rebel during the margarine revolution and am proud to say that I have never been tempted by that plastic, spreadable stuff. Instead, butter has always been my family’s staple when it comes to fats. In fact, I was telling Linette this morning that one thanksgiving my mom had my brothers and I try making butter together, you know, like they did at the very first thanksgiving. We were probably between the ages of 8 and 2. I think we got bored after shaking the mason jar for about 10 minutes and gave up. We probably left it lying around the house somewhere. I wonder if anyone ever found it…

In any case, when this new cookbook arrived in my mailbox with the instructions for (modern day) butter making, I was thrilled! This morning I decided to try Yvette’s recipe and perhaps supersede my childhood butter making experience, this time enlisting the help of the trusty kitchenaid. I will tell you that it turned out to be the most delicious butter ever. Rather than buying it, I think I might just keep making butter myself!

I started with this:

And used the kitchenaid to beat it into a scrambled egg like texture, which took a solid 15 minutes. Then I strained it, wrung out the whey, and “washed” it in an ice bath until the water turned clear, which took 3 tries. That should explain why I wasn’t able to take any pictures! Suddenly, I had this!

I got out a little parchment and formed it into something that actually looks like butter.

 

Callaghan Lake

During all of the months I spent living up in the wild north – beautiful countryside dotted by thousands of lakes – I didn’t go camping once. Granted, I’m not the outdoors-iest of people and I don’t even own a legitimate sleeping bag, but it does seem a little ironic that the first full weekend that I was back in the city I went backcountry camping.

My two cousins and their families invited me to go along on family Thanksgiving camping weekend and I gladly joined in. We drove north out of the city a couple of hours, headed for a little provincial park and a beautiful lake with two canoes strapped to our cars.

When we got to the lake, we loaded the canoes with all our gear and headed across the lake to a rocky beach and set up camp.

Sunday we canoed across the lake to a trail we’d heard about that went up to Cirque Lake, a gorgeous alpine lake, still surrounded by snow fields. The hike was pretty intense, especially with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, but well worth it.

Thanksgiving dinner was Idahoan instant potatoes, canned mixed veggies, and canned chili, with turkey jerky, served in mini IKEA bowls. Dinner has never tasted so good!

It was a beautiful weekend getaway and a wonderful reminder that the great outdoors is just a little car ride away.

City Livin’

Where has the last month gone? I actually have no idea. But I promise, over the last few weeks, I have thought about this blog a lot. Having a blog titled “Northern Simple Life” really does encourage me to keep simple living on my mind. I have also been continually encouraged by a blog I’ve been following called The Year of Less – as I was going through all my things, deciding what to keep and what wasn’t important enough to take up room in my little blue Cobalt, this family’s commitment to living with intentionality has been incredibly inspiring.

I said my good-byes, packed up my things, drove to Vancouver, flew to Ontario, spent time with my wonderful family, flew back to Vancouver, and unpacked my things, all in the last three weeks. And now I’m settling into my new city life, surprised at the culture shock. There are so many people! And so many cars! And so many stores! And so many restaurants! I’d forgotten what it’s like. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all, yet I am determined to let my time and the things I learned from isolated small-town living inform how I live my life here in Vancouver. And this blog is going to keep me accountable.

So far:
– I don’t have a microwave
– I’m still knitting up a storm
– The basil plant I grew from seed in BL made it to my Vancouver windowsill
– I’m already planning my backyard garden for next spring
– I’m composting again!
– I bought a whole knew IKEA bedroom (Oh crap, that’s not simple living at all!)
– I roasted a whole bunch of local root veggies for dinner