BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Friday, August 05, 2016

By the Beautiful Sea

Rather than make excuses for my inability to get to this blog, I'll plow blissfully forward and post some lovely pictures of the kids having fun in the summer.  We certainly have been busy!

Some of the highlights from July include a visit from Baba...
And the highlight of that visit was a boat tour of the gorge!
Then we went on a cycle tour of the Olympic Peninsula.  They have an amazing, off-road, bike route called the Olympic Discover Trail, which is well worth a visit. (That's Nikolai on the back of the tandem with me... signalling good things to come in the future!  Yea for rear-wheel drive!)
We just happened to have planned our trip to coincide with the Lavender Festival... and though it was completely by chance (I only found out about it when I tried to book somewhere to stay in Sequim) we decided to visit a few lavender farms while we were there.
Last weekend we went camping with our good friends, Dylan and Nancy, on Hornby Island.  It was as beautiful as promised. The scenery was unique. The vibe was more west-coast-hippy than anywhere I've ever been.  I would definitely go back... though perhaps not by car!  It involved 2 ferry rides... and several sailing waits for cars in each direction.  Boy I was envious of the cyclists as they zoomed along ahead!

Now here's some dreamy Island pictures from Hornby.




I failed to take pictures of the day we spent on the white sandy beach. However, I do have this excellent picture of what happens when you forget to tell everyone when you're taking the photo.
And it turns out that Uliana has quite the capacity to sleep in (reminiscent of her Grammy and Auntie Claire).  We managed to pack up everyone else's sleeping bags, mats and clothes without waking her.  She didn't even wake up when we started taking down the tent... and Brad was forced to haul her sleeping body from the tent in order to make the 8am ferry home.  (The punchline is that we didn't make it because there was already a long line of cars waiting by the time we arrived... but we did get on the 9am).
Now we're off to Saltspring this weekend, and more guests next week.  Phew!  I almost need a vacation from my summer!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Good Day Sunshine

It's tourist season in Victoria... which always results in a mixed feeling.  It's sort of annoying to discover that there's now a line up in your favourite coffee shop, and that all of a sudden you need reservations to eat out at your favourite places. However, it's the pedestrian traffic that sort of gets to me.  It's just best to avoid cycling through downtown because traffic lights and cross walks no longer have meaning when the throngs of tourists are great enough to take over the road regardless of the rules.

However, there are many benefits to living in a tourist centre... loads of good restaurants, museums and well maintained parks are just a few. My favourite part about about the onset of tourist season is that it is also the start of festivals and events season!  And living in downtown Victoria means that most of these events are just a short walk away.

Victoria is so crazy for these special events that there is a whole magazine, 32 pages long, detailing every single event taking place in the downtown Victoria area... and unlike most tourist 'zines, it doesn't have any advertising and very few pictures.  Yes, Victoria is that insanely busy with events.  When we first moved here I always felt the pull to be off doing everything that was on offer.  Now as a seasoned Victorite, I know enough to relax and pick my favourites.

For example, last weekend we had our choice of: a Vintage Scooter Rally, Uno Fest, Cheese & Meat Festival, The Highland Games and Celtic Festival.  None of which we attended. However we did attend the Victoria Day Parade, and the Kite Festival!
This weekend we had our choice of: the Selkirk Waterfront Festival, Swiftsure International Yacht Race, and we decided to attend la Festival de la Francophonie.  And I'm please to say that Nikolai's French education is clearly working as he had very little problems conversing with everyone at the festival in French! We had fun playing P├ętanque.

And watching the balloon animal artist.
 So if you're planning a visit to our lovely spare room this summer, be sure to check out the city guide to find out what events will be on while you're here!

Monday, May 09, 2016

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I realize that it's been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged. And that is because I have taken on two new roles at LifeCycles!

The first is a pilot project on building food literacy within the Capital Regional District (fermentation classes anyone?) I'm actually not teaching any food skills courses.  I'm doing all the data gathering in the form of a survey, focus groups, etc. and I get to write it all up in a nice report at the end!  Ah... a flashback to my years spent in research.

The second role is actually the one that is sucking all my time at this point (to the detriment of my other role in LifeCycles and basically everything else I do with my time). I am now coordinating the Growing Schools Program (elementary school teaching gardens) and it is the height of gardening season.  I'm running day-long workshops at 3 different elementary schools a week. I'm coordinating with volunteers to staff all those workshops. I'm coordinating with schools to have the classes and gardens ready for the workshops. It's not difficult... just time consuming.

Anyways, it's Mother's Day weekend, and our home-based chores are all done so I finally have time to blog!

Please Note: our garden looks great, we've painted tons of rooms, made a new patio table, put French doors into our downstairs bathroom, it's never a dull moment around here! If you're wondering what our two ruffians are up to while we're busily ignoring them... now that Uliana is old enough, we simply toss them out into the backyard and hose them down when they come in covered in mud.

Apparently, they spend so much time out there that they felt the need to create their own shelter.
Here's some more pictures from this weekend. The first is a picture of the new patio table (with matching bench). It's painted "Old blue pickup truck " and "Bitter Chocolate".  (I think I want to be the person who names paint colours!)
 Actually that's also a picture of Uliana's butterfly themed tea party.  Everyone did start out with wings and antennae, but as the playing progressed pretty much everyone went back to being little persons... except for Uliana.  She was a devoted butterfly.
In addition to Mothers' Day, we also celebrated Grammy's Birthday this weekend at one of Victoria's many ocean front pubs. I love Victoria!

As for my novel... I'm so lucky to have joined a critique group with 4 other published writers. When all the gardening is finished, I will turn my brain to the task of editing up the next draft based on their comments.  In the meantime I'm working on my elevator pitch. I'm hoping to have a few lines to test out by next weekend.  It's hard to distill 90,000 words into just 10. I don't know whether my book is:
-"A feminist take on a traditional Irish fairy tale."
-"A psychological fiction exploring the impact of childhood trauma on the ability to cope with stress as an adult."
-"An offbeat romance set in rural Ireland."
or
-"The journey of a woman who wakes up in a stranger's house and discovers that she has also lost her ability to communicate."

Hum... which one would you read?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Winter Wonderland

Let's start with some pictures of snow!
We've had lots of snow this winter.
And Nikolai learned to ski.
Uliana also took a ski lesson...
... it was much less successful... I basically carried her down the hill, then she road up the magic carpet without her skis on. She then proceeded to crawl across the base of the mountain to the promised "apres-ski" hot chocolate that was included in the cost of her class (probably to appease all the parents who spent $30 on the class and rentals... because Uliana was one of the only kids in her ski lesson who didn't cry through the whole ordeal. Yea Team! Though I'm not saying that she was happy about it.)

However, despite all of this snow... not a flake has dropped in Victoria.  In fact, if the cherry blossoms are any indication, spring has arrived!

Now, I'll end with an apology... I just can't seem to get to find the time to get to this blog! I think it's because I'm obsessed with my current writing project. It's a novel that I've been working on since September, and it would be apt to say that I eat, drink and sleep, thinking about the novel. In fact it takes effort to stop myself from getting up in the middle of the night to write! (Hopefully that indicates some inklings of "creative genius" rather than "needs medication".)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sweet dreams are made of cheese.

Despite my promises... I still haven't found myself with extra time to blog! I guess busy people lead busy lives!

So what have we been up to?

Well the kids have been sick (yes, there are 3 sick kids on the couch... but the extra one hangs out often enough that the germs just go through them all at the same time). In this photo the preschoolers are on the mend, while the big kid has just started with the flu.  It was a fun week that ended with the adults getting sick!

And we've had some visitors. Dylan has been working in Victoria for the past few weeks, and we have been lucky enough to have him help with bedtime stories on several occasions.

We've also been busy with all the usual holiday stuff... which in Victoria means that we've been crazy busy! (The total thus far... and it's only December 9th... is two parades, two parties, Bear Wear, The Festival of Trees, and The National Gingerbread Showcase. I agree... it's fairly ridiculous. But everything is only a few blocks walk from our house, so what are we to do?)

The highlight so far this year was definitely Nikolai's ukulele concert! I've included two photos... one so you can see how big the auditorium was (and the back of Uliana's head).  And the second is a close up of Nikolai concentrating on his music.




However, this is honestly what has taken up all my time:

I know... it IS exciting! Look how messy the kitchen is... and I've started a new fashion trend too!

Maybe this photo will help explain things?

Yes, I've spent the month making cheese for my Fermentation blog!

I've made a total of 5 different types of cheeses thus far. They are currently "ripening" (or at least they are growing weird molds) in my guest room. We've sealed the door off, and opened the window to turn it into a true cheese ripening cave. Mind you, it's not so pleasant for the visitors. But we should be finished in the next 8 months!

Just kidding... I'm going to pull all the cheeses by March.  However, my hard Italian-style washed rind cheese would truly appreciate a year long ferment, so it will only be grudgingly eaten. (I hope... It is one of the mold-growing varieties so I won't know whether it succeeded until the very end.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A recipe!

It's been while since I've posted a recipe on this blog... as I've been busy concocting recipes to post on my Fermenting for Foodies blog!

However, fall is here, and I found a new way to eat seasonal vegetables that we all love. We all love this recipe so much that I was compelled to archive it, even though it doesn't have a fermented angle to it (which is really saying something). Though I do admit the photo isn't much to look at... it is tasty!  In a good hearty warming sort of way.


Winter Vegetable Crumble

1. Dice up 8 cups of firm winter vegetables.  I have used a mix of root vegetables, squash, brussel sprouts, basically anything you could see yourself roasting up for dinner. Also chop up 1 leek. Toss them all in a large casserole dish with 2 tbsp of olive oil, so that they are well coated in oil. Pop them into a 400F (200C) oven for 40 minutes. Toss half way through to ensure even cooking.

2. In the meantime, make up 2 cups of white sauce that is seasoned with 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard and 1 tsp of dried thyme.  I have done this with vegan milk, gluten free flour, whatever you want.  If you don't have a basic white sauce recipe, here's mine: 2 tbsp butter with 1/3 cup of chickpea flour. Add in the seasonings, followed by 2 cups of milk. Whisk over low heat until thickened.

3. Mix up the crumble topping in a bowl by combining: 1 cup quick oats, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup mixed pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Combine into a crumb topping by rubbing in 2 tbsp of butter until evenly combined.

4. To assemble, season your white sauce heavily as it will provide the seasoning for the whole dish (I recommend 1 tsp of salt).  Then pour the white sauce over the roasted vegetables, then top with the crumble topping.  Bake at 350F for 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the crumble is browing.

Enjoy!

Here's some pics of the kids messing around together.




Tuesday, November 03, 2015

All the leaves are brown

So it's been a month since my last post (I did say that October was going to be busy!  November should ease up a little for us.)

In the mean time, we had a productive month of costume making.  To start this blog off... here is a picture of everyone working on Nikolai's costume.

And here's a picture of Uliana on her way home from preschool. I don't think she's practicing face painting for Halloween as much as she's just not limited to paper in terms of her creativity.  I'm glad it's easy to wash off as she comes home painted at least once a week.
And here's our final costumes!  Brad and I are dressed as "Victorians".  (Nikolai got a joke book, and he's been reading them aloud to us, over and over and over, so puns come naturally at the moment). Nikolai is a Minecraft skeleton and Uliana is a bunny!


Here's Uliana and her best friend heading out for Trick or Treats (the big kids were running ahead, and wouldn't stop for a photo.)
And Nikolai with his mask on (he's not likely going to want a mask again... it wasn't that much fun to wear).
 Pumpkin carving in our bohemian household.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Where has all the time gone?

So... I totally realize that it has been over a month... (yes, one whole month!) since I last blogged.  I'm Sorry!  But I have a good excuse... I have taken on a number of new projects and we have had very busy weekends (as you will soon see).

You can check out one of my projects here: Lifecycles Project.  Officially, I'm helping out with Communications for Lifecycles (a local non-profit working on food security).  Unofficially, I've done everything from answer phones to teaching fermentation classes.  I'm teaching sauerkraut making to a bunch of 13 year-olds this week... I wonder if they'll be as wowed by the wonders of probiotics as I am?  At least they grew their own cabbage!

Anyways, my time has to come from somewhere, so the FermentingForFoodies is down to once a week posts, and this blog has completely fallen off the map.  However, our life is (may be?) slowing down.  We don't have too many plans for November through to next summer which might mean more time on my weekends to blog! (Note, I said November... we're pretty busy the next few weekends... visitors and trips mean that my free time to blog centers on the "none available" side of things, but I will be having plenty of time for fun!)

So what have we been up to since August?

Well... we did a Labour Day cycling trip to Thetis Lake. I carried much of the gear and Uliana in the Boxbike and Nikolai managed on his zippy red bike.  Kudos all around! (I figure I'm allowed to pat myself on the back for cycling anywhere with for 100lbs of extra weight).

We had the first day of school for both Nikolai (grade 2) and Uliana (the youngest person in her preschool).  Uliana LOVES preschool.  It has dramatically improved her mood, making me wonder if we were just under-stimulating at home?
We also went to the wedding of our good friends Dylan and Nancy.  They rented out a whole resort just north of Courtney (3 hours up the Island).  It was a great big fest of happiness and love. We all ended up sharing cabins, and there were kids all over the place.  It was a good thing we brought Uliana's runner bike... it was a long way from our cabin to the party (some butterfly wings also helped to carry her along).  And Nikolai liked the tire swing, the bouncy castle... but most of all he loved the giant-sized checkerboard.

Lastly, here's a picture of Nikolai's Jack-o-lantern smile.  Just in time for Hallowe'en!






Friday, August 28, 2015

Do you want to go to the seaside?

We spent last week in Parksville, and lucked out with some fairly beachy weather.  Parksville has the most amazing, long, sandy beach.  It's perfect for skim boarding (thanks Claire!)
 And playing around in the sand.
We also had fun exploring the massive playground (retro equipment anyone?)
And to get our fill of swimming, we enjoyed the pool!  (Well... I mainly enjoyed the hot tub... but the kids enjoyed the pool!)
Summer is almost over, but we're hoping to squeeze in a few more adventures before school starts.  Because... there's still one week of summer vacation left!