Sunday, 27 March 2011

A March?

Tomorrow is my birthday....not that exciting when you are turning 42, but never one to miss an opportunity to make it all about me...when asked what I wanted to do I suggested a the ocean.  Now that would be fine if we lived a little bit south but there is still a bit of snow here...and it is 0 degrees Celcius (32 Farenheit) but the sun was shining and I had spring fever.  We drove to St. Andrews-by-the Sea and found  this spot on the rocky beach by the Atlantic Ocean

We packed a strange combination of food we found in the fridge; veggie wraps, Camembert cheese, grapes, ketchup chips...and beer.  We forgot to pack a knife but Scott had his pocket knife (classy eh?)
Notice we are wearing hats....and down-filled jackets?   Must be a Canadian thing to have a picnic when it's freezing out.  We then went to a little coffee shop and had the best maple lattes ever.

This is the famous Fairmont Algonquin resort that is in St. Andrews.  It was built in 1889 and is very charming.  In the summer there is a large porch on the front where you can have dinner.  The staff wear kilts and there is a yellow lab that lives there and when you check in you can take him for a walk through the town on a leash.  Also you are allowed to bring your own dog with you if you stay here and when you check in they bring a dog bed to your room.  It is an amazing place, we stayed there once on our anniversary and I didn't want to go home.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Maple syrup time

It's that time of year when the temp dips below freezing at night then warms up nicely during the day so the sap in the maple trees begins to run.  The season is short 4-5 weeks and we only tap about 18 trees but that should supply us with maple syrup for the year...and maybe enough to trade with our neighbour...he has bees so we can maybe trade maple syrup for honey.

Holes are drilled into the trees and metal "taps" are inserted.  The buckets are suspended from the taps to collect the sap and a little metal cover keeps the rain and snow out.  The sap tastes only vaguely sweet as it contains a lot of water which will need to be boiled down in order to make maple syrup.  It takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

slowly dripping............

Full pail of sap collected and ready to be boiled down.. 

Charlotte enjoying the spring sunshine

Homemade evaporator consisting of roast pans, concrete blocks and a stovepipe chimney

a little bit "red-necky"...if that can be an adjective..

water boiling away.......

The finished product.......

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Hey....don't touch my mug!

Do you have a favourite mug?  These are my favourites......I like the two in the background for coffee, the pink one with bunnies for tea and the brownish one for lattes.  I sometimes hide my favourite mug so the guys in my house don't use it (I know it's immature....but I would only find it under their beds with dried up hot chocolate in me).  Before I became a potter I'd drink out of any old mug....then I became a mug snob....I only like handmade ones.....don't even talk to me about the big ugly white mugs with slogans on them.....or plastic ones?  Seriously?

I have a lot of mugs.....

In fact...I had so many mugs that my husband had to build me a pot rack to hold them he hung it over the island in the kitchen.  I trade mugs I make with other potters for one of their I've built quite a collection.  When my friends come over for coffee they like to pick out their favourite mug, I try not to judge them when they pick one with an ugly handle.....(what are they thinking?), like I said, my name is Denise and I am a mug snob.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


It is warming up, the snow is melting, and I know Spring is coming.......but hurry up already.  This picture of my front garden this morning doesn't look too promising.  There is a rhododendrum under that burlap wrap, and 2 clematis vines waiting to climb up that trellis, and many other pretty things waiting under that foot of snow......
The little tree in the front right is a yellow magnolia, with lots of buds....patiently waiting.  Oh and that little brown pile in the middle.....well...that's dog crap, enough said.
Calvin is unconcerned (as usual), he has decided to snooze in front of the wood stove until Spring is here.....

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


When I was little my mother made dessert every night.  She didn't buy fancy ingredients or spend hours baking but it was always there.  Custard, rice pudding, apple crisp, chocolate pudding cake.......mmmm.  It seems we only have dessert if we have company for dinner...except in the summer when strawberries are in season we have strawberry shortcake almost every night.  I'm a strawberry shortcake purist.....tea biscuits for the cake, strawberries  mashed with the potato masher  and real whipping substitutions.  

This is the cake I made for Valentine's Day

It had 4 layers of chocolate cake, each layer was spread with caramel filling (made with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter and 1 can sweetened, condensed milk which you melt together and simmer 5 minutes until it turns into thick, caramelly goodness) then the cake was covered with dark chocolate ganache...oh and chocolate dipped didn't last long.

What's your favorite dessert?

Thursday, 3 March 2011


Isaac (in the black jersey)

I was not keen on Isaac playing hockey for many reasons; it's expensive, the time commitment is huge, the negative aspects of the game, I was afraid he'd get hurt (he rolls his eyes when I say this) and I'm usually not a huge "team" sport fan but after observing him watch every NHL game on tv, keeping track of all the players and their stats his father and I caved and let him join a hockey team 4 years ago.  Most of the kids on his team had played hockey since they were 5 or 6 but Isaac joined when he was 12 and caught up pretty quickly.  We have had a backyard rink each winter for the past 9 years so he was a good skater and had played a lot of hockey on his own shooting pucks into the net over and over again, sometimes until after midnight.  Scott added lights to the rink the first year when it was clear that daylight hours were not enough.

The league he plays in is a non-checking league so that makes a huge difference as far as the amount of injuries.  He usually practices 2-3 times per week and has at least a game per week and with the season starting mid-October and not finishing until mid-March it makes for a lot of time spent on the road and at the (cold) rink.  The upside is that most of the other parents are a lot of fun to be with and so it is kind of a social time for our whole family and Isaac loves every minute of it and is always eager to go play...even to practice.  Having our older son Cameron living away from home while attending university it makes it easier to be constantly away with Isaac.  I marvel at some of the parents at the arena who have 2 or 3 kids in hockey on different teams and somehow manage to get everyone where they need to go and keep their households going.

This week we are going to be at one arena or another for the next 6's almost over for another year...thank goodness.