Friday, June 28, 2013

To Live in An Old Shack By The Sea...

 " To live in an old shack by the sea
(and breath the sweet salt air)
To live with the dawn and the dusk
The new moon and the full moon
The tides the wind and the rain...
To surf and comb the beach
And gather sea shells and driftwood
 And know the thrill of loneliness
And lose all sense of time
And be free

To hike over the island to the village
And visit the marketplace
And enjoy the music and the food and the people
And do a little trading
And see the great ships come and go
And, man, have me a ball

And in the evening
(when the sky is on fire)
Heaven and Earth become my great open cathedral
Where all men are brothers
Where all things are bound by law
And crowned with love
Poor, alone and happy
I walk by the surf and make a fire on the beach
And as darkness covers the face of the deep
Lie down in the wild grass
And dream the dream that dreamers dream

I am the wind, the sea, the evening star
I am everyone, anyone and no one"
                      Eden Ahbez

     Friends it is Friday- the long Canada Day weekend in our great country- we are headed into nature to find some quiet and calm- to gather ourselves close and just let go for a few days. I read the above quote over on A Well Travelled Woman- it really resonated with me- I could feel the peace and love creeping between the words- this is my wish for you on this weekend- peace.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Momma's Camping Survival Kit & My Marshmallow Recipe

       Friends- it is almost the Canada Day long weekend- yes! I truly live for long weekends- that extra day of Daddy being around and watching the kids while I sit and drink fine boxed wine really does help me get through some rough times! This weekend we are heading out of town and going camping- yes the all Canadian adventure- I do have a few tricks up my sleeve for having fun- besides the fine boxed wine!

       I always take at least one new book and a couple of magazines- this way I have appropriate reading material for any sort of attention span fluctuations I happen to have during my trip- it happens and often that I can only focus on short magazine articles- the fine boxed wine has nothing to do with that! A sneaky parenting trick that I can not claim to have invented is packing a few new goodies- stickers, small animals and tiny mini puzzles ( thanks Oolawoola!) are the perfect distraction for time spent waiting by the Littles. Health and Safety is up next- starting with a small pot of after- sun lotion (again thanks Oolawoola), a facestick- SPF 30, Water bottle and head lamp- essential for hands free visits to the outhouse with Littles! All topped off with my custom blend trail mix- this bag is just for me and I am not sharing! Oh and the wool- how could I forget the wool! I am hoping to start and finish a project this weekend- oh so good- can't wait to share!

       I have also had lots of requests for my Marshmallow recipe- even a lady in line at the grocery store was quizzing us- so here it is!

vegetable oil for brushing
4 envelopes unflavoured gelatin
3 cups granulated sugar
1 14 cups golden corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

* you will also need a candy thermometer

1. brush a 9 x13 glass dish with oil- line it with parchment- allowing some to stick out on either side- brush parchment with oil and set aside- do not skip this step!!!

2. place sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan- bring to a boil over high heat- stirring to dissolve sugar- cook with out stirring until syrup reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.

3. put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle in gelatin- let soften 5 min.

4. with the whisk attachment on the mixer beat in syrup on low speed - gradually increase speed on the mixture to high- beat until mixture is very stiff and has basically tripled in amount- it will also look white and fluffy- about 12-15 minutes- beat in vanilla

5. pour into prepared dish and smooth with offset spatula- I'm not gonna lie- I used my clean hands dipped in icing sugar- a tad messy but it was less frustrating than the spatula.

6. sift confectioners sugar onto work surface- unmold marshmallows and remove parchment- lightly brush a sharp knife with oil and cut into 2 inch squares- you can also spray a cookie cutter with oil and do the same although there is a fair bit of waste involved.

7. sift 1/2 cup of sugar into small bowl and roll each marshmallow to lightly coat- can be stored up to 3 days in a sealed container

      This recipe was from Martha Stewart and as we all know that lady knows her stuff- I have made this a few times and it is a hit every time. We love the way the marshmallows toast and taste like the ones from when we were kids! 

      So here are the facts people- a) I will be camping b) sipping fine boxed wine and c) eating marshmallows- this is going to be some weekend!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In My Kitchen: Strawberry Shortcake

    This is my all time favourite Strawberry Shortcake recipe- it is basically like a biscuit but with sugar- so easy and endlessly versatile. Remember all those berries from the weekend? Some of them were turned into this ultimate summer treat!

2 cups flour
4-5 tablespoons sugar(divided)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cubed, cold butter
2 pints of sliced strawberries
1 1/2 cups whipping cream ( for topping)

Place strawberries in a bowl ( about 2 pints) and sprinkle with a bit of sugar- very specific I know- This really is to preference though- originally I used 3 tablespoons of sugar where as now I just use a scant one tablespoon. Toss lightly and set aside.

In a large bowl- combine flour,3 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder and a dash of salt. Cut in cold, cubed butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly stir in milk and bring dough together into a soft ball.

Drop by the tablespoon out onto parchment lined cookie sheets and sprinkle tops lightly with sugar- will make eight large biscuit. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 min- or until tops are golden brown- place on a wire rack to cool.

To assemble strawberry shortcake- cut buscuit in half- add a dollop of whipped cream to the base and pile up with berries- place the lid or top on and serve!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Farmer's Market: Trout Lake

         Our latest and by far biggest market to visit was last weekend - the Trout Lake Market is located just off Commercial Drive and is by far one of the more vibrant and busy markets. All our favourite vendor's from the Winter Market were here as well as a few new ones we were more than happy to discover! 

       SO much goodness was happening here! As you can see BC is coming into cherry season- where I grew up this was a big industry- lots of family farms still getting by on one crop of cherries a year- such a short window to make an entire year's worth of income. Although the cherry orchards of the Okanagan are not as plentiful as they once were you can still hear the bird cannons going off with much regularity this time of the year- every few minutes- BOOM!

       One of the things I am totally loving at this year's markets are all the swaps- magazines and now cook books- what a super idea! I am always on the look out few fresh inspiration and if the market wares were not enough now we have inspiration on what to do with all that fresh produce!

        When I think back to how we shopped as a family even a little less than a year ago I am shocked at what we considered to be normal- crammed grocery store- shopping buggies battling in traffic- fluorescent lighting. Now I am not claiming there is anything wrong with grocery store shopping- not everyone has Farmer's Markets in their towns such as we do. It just works for our family really well- even in the hubbub of the Trout Lake market I felt relaxed and happy- to be outside- buying good clean food- all of us together- shopping as a family.

         The Trout Lake market is open Saturdays 9am- 2 pm- starting May 11 and running through until October 19. The market is located in the North parking lot of John Hendry Park- due to construction in the old location. Parking is super limited at this popular market so walk, cycle or take transit if you can!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Season

        This weekend it was determined that we needed to go Strawberry picking- last year we missed out and the Littles were super disappointed- so this year we were going to avoid all those "Sold Out" signs and get in while the picking is good. We hit the season smack dab on the perfect day- the berries where perfectly ripe and the weather co-operated!

         We made the trip out to Ladner- across the historic green wooden bridge to Westham Island- Emma Lea farms had come highly recommended - apparently half of Vancouver was out in those fields and had we looked hard enough may have found a few familiar faces!

         Field picking is obviously much different from picking berries out of the pots on our deck- the Littles were thrilled by each plump, juicy berry they discovered- only to move onto the next plant and be thrilled all over again! Shouts of "look Momma! I found the biggest berry ever!" could be heard from up and down the rows. Of course every Little was thrilled by the wagon's provided- adorableness was everywhere you looked with kiddos hitching rides back from the fields in wagons full of strawberries!

          I was surprised at how fast and easy it was to fill our bags with berries- I had expected to be out in the field much longer with kids who tend to take forever with anything- but they totally got into the berry picking and we were done in a short hour! Emma Lea has a small playground and grassy area to run around in- and of course there are those strawberry milkshakes- sorry no pictures they disappeared fast!

          Along with berries and milk shakes Emma Lea has a small selection of in season produce available - this week it is potatoes. If you go take your own buckets- not bags like we did- stop in at the register first to have your buckets weighed before heading to the fields for strawberry goodness!

         Emma Lea also has blueberry bushes- which are almost in season- July 15- I can hardly wait! We spend so many months of the year consuming and just taking from our freezer and pantry- this is the season I love best- the time to start stocking fresh summery goodness away for the winter. I know one day in November or December I will be making Endless Summer Jam from berries picked on a warm June Saturday- pulled from my freezer - a bit of sunshine on a chilly day!

PS- OK clearly Mother Nature is mocking me- as I sit here writing about sunshine it is pouring- like literally bucketing down rain! we are leaving for a camping trip in just a few short days- I'm doing the sunshine dance for better weather!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Craft Camp: Solstice Lanterns

        We love a good celebration around these parts and so of course it is only natural that we celebrate the longest day of the year- Summer Solstice- AKA Midsummer's Eve- which happened some time last night around 10 pm. One celebrating the longest day of the year would also hope that it would be the nicest day of the year- but as we left Spring behind the weather was dark and dreary here in Vancouver- we thought we would celebrate all things bright with lanterns- hoping to encourage back the sunshine!

        These lanterns are ever so pretty and ever so easy- the perfect qualities for a rainy day craft in my humble opinion! The supplies are fairly minimal and most people if they look hard enough will have these on hand.

Supplies needed:

Birthday balloons
various cut up pieces of tissue
modge podge or acrylic medium
brushes (not the good ones)

         Blow up Birthday balloon and set inside a cup or tupperware container- this is just to act as as stand and give you two free hands to work with. Gently brush balloon with modge podge and randomly start attaching bits of paper- the idea is to build up a few layers for strength as well as colour!

         Cover the balloon about half way up- Miss Lo went a little overboard and did the entire balloon- but really you are making a basket so only need to cover half the balloon. Keep building up layers by adding tissue and smoothing it down under layers of mod podge- remember the more layer the longer it will take to dry- this is key!

        Once the tissue is fully dried- like after several hours- take a pin and pop the balloon inside- do not be alarmed if the entire project collapses in- all you have to do once the balloon is removed is gently push the tissue lantern back into shape. Trim the lip of the lantern and punch holes for the string to go through.

       At this point I would like to offer up some safety guidelines- if you were to use a candle in the lantern as it is at this stage it would possibly catch on fire- not good. What you will want to do is mix a solution of borax and water together and paint two or three coats on the inside of the lantern bowl- thus making the lantern fire resistant- however this should never be left to burn un- attended. Children obviously should be with an adult at all times when around candles.

       Tie the strings at desired lengths through the holes of the lanterns and then pin the ends of the strings onto the dowelling with a tack or small nail- the longer the handle (dowelling) the taller the lantern will stand. We planted ours in our flower pots to be lit when it finally gets dark this evening- these would look great in place of Tiki torches in a back yard!

Recipe for Homemade Mod Podge

1/2 cup white glue
1/2 cup water

-thin out with more water if you wish
- add glitter like we did here for sparkle!
- whisk in flour and use for papier mache

     Friends it is Friday again- shocking how that just sneaks up on me every single week! Saturday I am looking forward to just chilling out and partaking in some much needed R & R- followed by my screen printing class on Sunday- which is gong to be crazy fun! I hope your weekend has some sunny breaks, laughter and fine boxed wine- weather you share with friends or not is up to you!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Glam Event

        You all may remember reading about this little old blog being nominated for Vancouver Mom Top Blogger about a month ago- I posted a few links and if you are a Face book friend I may have incessantly pestered you for votes. Well last night was the big event- Glam - which was held at Secret Location- yah it's the swanky white and chrome restaurant at the corner of Water and Carrall st in Gastown with no sign.

        So here we all gathered - this years Top 30 and previous years as well- along with our support systems- AKA best friends, cousins, sisters and two husbands. It was such an interesting collection of women- such a wide range of passions and talents- to say it was all a bit overwhelming and hard to take in would be an understatement! I saw so many people that I wanted to talk to yet just did not know what to say- it was really a bit surreal- meeting people for the first time that I feel like I know already through reading their blogs!

        The over all Top Mom Blogger of Vancouver is Mitzi of East Van Baby- she gave a super lovely speech- which I am pretty sure she memorized- kudos for that! The evening also included past participants speaking on their own experience with blogging- Nat Nanton and Jen Kossowan both had inspiring words.

         I am sitting here this morning- looking at the lovely images of time spent with friends- old and new and I am still trying to digest all that transpired- words said- snippets keep coming back to me and buzzing around my head like mosquitos. These lovely ladies below made the evening super fun- Kat Chong and Amber Chong Smith- from the Momma Stuff Blog as well as lovely cousin Laura- thanks gals!

         And cue the grainy interior shots- because a few friends all are dying to know what Secret Location looks like inside! The restaurant is pretty beautiful- if you ever go there be sure to check out the painting in the bathroom- which I neglected to take a picture of! Gorgeous rugs, hip art work and that bar! Shut the front door- it was just beautiful- yes it is glowing!

      At the end of the evening a few of us needed more food and quite frankly I needed another drink so we hit Chill Winston's for a few libations and a meat & cheese plate- which was fantastic! Sitting outside in the warm June evening- surrounded by Gastown's twinkle lights I felt myself start to relax- it was a great way to round out a very fun evening!

       Thank you to everyone who voted for me and my little blog- who knew a year ago when I set out on this journey that anyone other than my Mom would come back here daily to read ramblings of a slightly sewing obsessed stay at home mom! I may not have won Top Blogger- but being part of this and meeting all these super women has been prize enough!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Craft Camp: Print Gocco

          I have a pretty special event that I am attending tonight- the Glam event for the 2013 Vancouver Mom Top Blogger- so exciting! Now while I didn't win the title of Top Blogger I am glad to have been a part of this entire experience- if nothing else I now have a whole bunch of new blogs to read! I was thinking it might be a good idea to take some business cards with me tonight- something different, handmade and totally Plain Jane style!

       So I busted out the old Print Gocco machine and started printing my own cards- totally weird and totally fun! The Print Gocco is a Japanese colour screen printing system- fully self contained- allowing the home screen printer to print up to one hundred prints before stopping to re-ink. While the Print Gocco has been discontinued a cult like following has evolved and supplies are available online- or if you are local to Vancouver at Blim.

       While my cards may not be the most professional looking- they look hand drawn- because they are and they most definitely have a bit of a Wabi Sabi feel- I think they are really interesting and fun. Of course I could not resist a bit of Plain Jane flair with some neon pink thread!

          I think I am now ready for tonight- my new dress from Maiwa is hanging on the back of the bedroom door, my evening bag has been dusted off and my business cards are at the ready! The only thing left to decide are the shoes... oh the shoes!

P.S- thanks again Lindsay for the most fun way to print!