Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cape Breton Sweater

The day cannot be postponed. It is time to show off the Cape Breton shore sweater.

I am so proud of this sweater because I made it by eyeball. Rafe once had a cute little thrift shop sweater made of polyester yarn. I wanted to duplicated with yarn I like, but I couldn't find the pattern for the life of me. So I drew some pictures, counted stitches, and learned a few new stitch patterns. My gauge was off—intentionally off, mind you—so voila, it fits him at a hefty age three, with room to grow. The hood I invented as I went. I think I would do it differently next time as it is voluminous...

....But serviceable! With the kind of wet, windy, sea air you find at the ocean, a small hood is unthinkable!

And besides, no self-respecting hobbit goes anywhere without his hood.

It is a sea-side sweater, no doubt about it. The branching pattern is called "tree of life" and reminds me of the evergreen forests that touch the rocky shores of the North Atlantic. The cables suggest Cape Breton's Celtic culture, and it has the incomparable warmth of sheep's wool. The colours are kind of rocky/foresty too. So in honour of a beloved place, I've named it the Cape Breton Shore.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cape Breton

So we have been perusing Cape Breton. It was our first holiday in ten years, our first time renting a cottage like "normal" grown ups, and for the children, the first time at the sea! We swam every day—the Northwest coast is the warmest waters north of the Carolinas, and definitely the warmest water we've swum in all summer! 

Oh to be battered around by waves!

We also drove the dizzying heights of the Cabot Trail...
In short, we were smitten.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wild Fermentation

New exciting pickles and a bowl of monstrous beets which are stumping me. Maybe I'll channel my Russian roots and make kvass.

By now you've probably heard of Sandor Ellix Katz's Wild Fermentation and his new encyclopedic The Art of Fermentation. It's been our bedside reading for a couple years now and I'm finally starting some kitchen science. Burdock, dandelion, garlic scapes, carrot, and some hot dried peppers, brine pickled.

Curious to see how the burdock comes out. It feels woody so far. No one, not even the internet, can tell me when is the best time to harvest burdock root. I was so dazzled by their huge size, but I suspect they're too old for eating as the plants had already gone to seed. If you know the answer, message me urgently.

I'm a little bit frustrated by the lack of exact measurements in any recipe book or website. It seems that fermenting, like bread making and so many other kitchen arts, are a bit secret and magical. You learn by doing and then you teach by word of mouth like a gnostic cult. It's a little bit exciting.

Friday, August 22, 2014


High on the list of things I'm grateful for are my girlfriends who are like sisters to me. But there's nothing in the world quite like a real flesh-and-blood sister who becomes, in spite of age and sometimes whole continents of separation, a friend. My sister from Victoria spent two weeks back home, two weeks of shameless child spoiling on her part, all-night conversation with me, in which, with our sides aching from laughter, we relived our unusual childhood, decried injustice, solved the world's problems, and were very silly. And for the boys, there's nothing like a single, doting auntie. Together they dug up pirate treasure, did science-experiments, built robots, jumped into waterfalls, and made unusual Star Wars cakes. Which were eaten by the goat. Goat burger, anyone?   

We also have my youngest sister spending the entire summer (+) in this remote rural place in between studies and world travel. We're just so crazy lucky to have this precious, precious time together before life throws these girls on to new adventures.

It's been a summer to remember, and not just because it was the coldest summer in memory...or because I had the ethical dilemma of throwing my kids into freezing cold water for swimming lessons or letting them fail. We also had a tick infestation. Gah! Gross. It's over now, fortunately, and the MNR assures us that we're not in a lyme disease zone. Only the animals were affected. Still, we had a few panicky weeks of continuous bathing. Apparently our small dinosaur/guinea fowls are tick predators, so that's a comfort. Come to think of it, the ticks disappeared around the same time the guinea fowl started roaming.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Straw Revolution

 This is now an outdated picture of Will's garden, which changes every day. Will is getting super geeky (in a good way, dear) about soil composition, microbes, and the science of deep mulching. We just read a splendid book The One Straw Revolution by farmer-philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka. His philosophy and farming are beautiful, and perhaps the beginning of a one-garden revolution for this little Canadian family.

 Will's chicks sprouted pin feathers and grew monstrous: oh my goodness, guinea fowl! They're like a pack of roaming dinosaurs. Beware all insects, frogs, small mammals....they will hurt you.

And on grooveshark these days:

Dervish (Linking you up to our current favourite album, hope it works....) 

I forgot how much fun they are! We haven't listened to Irish music for years, but it's the backdrop to this summer. Lizzie and Angela check out "There Was a Maid in her Father's Garden" because we have to learn it.