Hot off the (online) press

I have two new assignments published this week. First up, my latest for East Coast Living magazine, a step-by-step DIY fresh winter wreath. I paid a visit to Props Floral Design in the Hydrostone and they walked me through the process of making a wreath. I’m planning to make my own this holiday season and will design it to last all winter. I painted the front door navy blue this summer so I am thinking a silver bow, or going rustic with a burlap bow. I think it would look really nice with our warm white Christmas lights. Learn how to make your own here: DIY Fresh Winter Wreath.

Though the Heavens Fall by Anne Emery is my latest book for review over at Atlantic Books Today. I have reviewed books from this series before, and I do enjoy them. I love reading local and having a connection to the setting. (Fictional) Halifax lawyer Monty Collins and his sidekick Father Brennan Burke sure get themselves involved in a lot adventure. What’s not to love about a good mystery? I learned a lot of history about the conflicts in Ireland through this story along with the help of google to keep up, since I really didn’t know much at all. It’s a deep, complicated and still ongoing issue. I thought Emery handled it well with this book. Given the connection to Ireland through Matt’s side of the family, it was neat to learn more about it, and the fictional story is intriguing too.

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Smelly soup

a recipe for…smelly soup?

a recipe for…smelly soup?

Did you know that turnips stink? Because they do. They smell really bad. Like sweaty gym socks or something. I found this out when I made my last batch of soup. I thought the turnips had gone off when the smell started wafting from the pot of boiling turnips on the stove. A quick check-in with google and I discovered that yup, they smell. Totally normal. On went the stove vent and eventually, the smell faded. I was still nervous. Smelly soup?

Turnips aren’t something I would necessarily seek out from the grocery store on my own but they came in the food box we bought from the school fundraiser, through Nourish NS. I was determined to use up all the produce and needed a new soup for the week. Another quick google search had brought up a cream of turnip-apple soup so I gave it a go. I appreciated the fact that one of the top hits in my search for  “turnip soup recipes” was for Saltscapes magazine (a regional lifestyle publication for Atlantic Canada), so I kept things super local!

CreaM OF TURNIP-APPLE SOUP SMELLS GOOD ONCE IT’S READY

CreaM OF TURNIP-APPLE SOUP SMELLS GOOD ONCE IT’S READY

Despite the smelly turnips, the soup turned out well. It was super easy to make and enjoyed by everyone in the house. If you find yourself with some turnips and want to make something different with them, I recommend this recipe. When I think turnip recipes, I automatically think roasted or mashed alongside a turkey or roast beef dinner, so for me, the turnip soup idea was something totally different.

I made this soup two weeks ago, and at that point decided I was kinda over the soup thing…. Weekly soup, it turns out, is a bit much. A week goes by so quickly and it felt like every time I turned around, it was time to make more soup. Last week went off the rails with strep throat etc., mind you a lot of chicken soup was consumed. Of the Campbell’s variety. Now this week, on this cold and rainy day, I am kind of craving some creamy thai carrot sweet potato soup, courtesy of my Oh She Glows cookbook… it’s a favourite in this house!  

So, whether I slow down on the soup or not, unless I discover something amazing, I will lay off on posting about it, because I think reading about my soup is just as tiring as making it every week! Thanks for hanging in there with me. Four soups later, maybe I inspired you to simmer some up yourself and if not, maybe now you will? I promise it will warm you up. Enjoy!


Turkey noodle soup

Curried carrot, apple and sweet potato

Leek and potato soup with carrots and celery

Cream of Turnip and Apple


Whatever happened to predictability...

There are no sick days with this gig, but there are grandparents! And that is a major perk.

Like I say in that intro column to the right (or bottom of the page, if you’re not on a computer), between all of us in this house, there is always a story. Matt left on Friday for a 7-day work trip to NYC so strep throat decided to come visit me! I was already tired and run down when he left (thanks to a night of legendary rock and roll with Jack White earlier in the week). By Sunday my throat was on fire, and Monday’s aches and chills brought me to my doctor’s office where a rapid strep test quickly came out positive.

Thankfully my parents swooped in, collected the girls from pre-school and school, delivered them to and from activities and had them sleep over - even though it was a school night. They got them back into the city and off to pre-school and school Tuesday morning and collected them again. They were slated to sleep over with Grandma and Grandpa that night anyway, because I had a full day appointment scheduled for Wednesday (sadly no, not at the spa), which also happened to be a PD day - no school. So another sleepover went ahead.

I didn’t have to deal with any children in the night (the three-year-old comes in our room “scared” every.damn.night and proceeds to toss and turn and kick me in the back until morning). I got ELEVEN hours of sleep IN A ROW, I read an entire novel, I caught up on some TV. By Wednesday morning I was feeling pretty rested. Not so sure my parents could say the same thing. So by Wednesday afternoon I went off to collect them and now we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming, mind you all three of us have head colds.

But this is not how Wednesday was supposed to be. The blog post I had in mind this week was going to be about my Wednesday plans. Again, in that intro for the blog, I talk about how I strive to balance my life, “All while living with an unpredictable and chronic illness: Crohn’s Disease, and all that comes with it.” And in my about me section, which you’ve all read of course, I express how “I’d like to focus more on my experiences with chronic illness to help myself, those around me, and maybe a reader or two who just needs to know they are not alone.”

I haven’t done much of that yet, so my planned post for this week was going to be about my appointment for my treatment for Crohn’s. But I can’t have that treatment, which I normally receive every 6 weeks, if I’m sick with a cold, flu, fever or on antibiotics. This week I can tick 3 of those boxes, so no treatment. It’s delayed 12 days, which is a gamble with my health but there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. I’m on a 10-day course of penicillin and I have to be off antibiotics for 24 hours and the clinic has to fit me back into their full schedule (these appointments are booked 6-8 weeks out). Like I said, I’m “living with an unpredictable and chronic illness: Crohn’s Disease, and all that comes with it” and this is part of the package.

With that, I’m putting the missed treatment out of my head and proceeding with caution. Here’s hoping all remains stable and in a couple weeks we are back to our regularly scheduled programming. Once again.

Sick in bed, dreaming of being on the beach instead.

Sick in bed, dreaming of being on the beach instead.

Gratitude

Fall #reflection, #thankfulness and #gratitude in full effect

Fall #reflection, #thankfulness and #gratitude in full effect

With Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day behind us, and the holidays looming largely ahead, it’s time for some neglected #reflection and #gratitude. I didn’t even post an obligatory #thankful photo of the fam jam on Instagram over Thanksgiving like I usually do. I did attend two Remembrance Day services this year (one at the elementary school and one at the Grand Parade downtown). The school ceremony was wonderful and Anna was overjoyed to be asked to help light the peace candle. And on November 11, even though we are always way at the back where it’s hard to see and hear and its cold out, I enjoy the city ceremony as a time to pause and reflect for all that we have here in Canada. There’s also three generations of military service in my family to be proud of.

In our house, we sometimes find ourselves craving the chance to slow down. We’ve made an effort to stop booking our schedule jam-packed full, but sometime that’s hard, because life. And we like being on the go. But maybe 2 or 3 things at a time, not 4 or 5! As long as we regularly schedule some down time, and use it to unwind and reflect on what we have going on - the good and the bad. It’s equally as important to open our eyes during the flurry of activity and gigantic messes and whirlwind motions of the day to look around and be thankful for all of the craziness too.  

I wrote the following post last winter, but wasn’t blogging at that time, so never shared it. I’m thankful for the encounter because it was a reminder to be thankful and grateful for what I have, so I’ll share it today:

On Thursday I overslept - on the morning after a small snow storm, which slows everything and everyone down in and of itself. I messed up Anna’s appointment time at the eye clinic and thus the rest of our regularly scheduled morning, which morphed into a hectic sprint to get organized. When I double checked the appointment time before we left, I discovered the appointment was earlier than I realized and we missed it. A quick call to the office confirmed we could still come in, as long as we got there right away. I then drove completely the wrong way to get to the hospital. And I didn’t realize my sweater was on inside out until after we left the appointment. Then I found myself at least 15 people deep in a line at Tim Hortons, because I let Anna have a treat after her eye appointments at the hospital and she never lets me forget. ‘What a rough day,’ I grumbled to myself, annoyed.

Unsurprisingly, Little Miss Chatty made friends with the woman ahead of us and they gabbed as the line slowly moved, me interjecting with a fake smile or murmured laugh here and there. As the woman stepped away from the counter after her turn, she crouched down and pressed a five dollar bill into Anna’s little hand. “Hey, will you use this to buy you and your mommy a treat?” I was surprised and of course followed up with a very quick “No, no, you don’t have to do that.”

“No, please,” was her response. “Let me. I miss my kids so much I want to treat her. I’ve been here for 3 days!” And at that she took off. Anna was beside herself with excitement and I wanted to kick myself. It was a very kind reminder that what I considered to be a rough or frustrating morning can easily sound pretty damn good to someone else. It was a reminder to be thankful for all I have. It was a reminder not to sweat the small stuff. It was a reminder to slow down, and be grateful for it all - the good, the bad and the frustrating.

ThaNKFUL EVERY DAY.

ThaNKFUL EVERY DAY.

Soup saga

My weekly soup challenge has not gotten off to the strongest start. The curried carrot and apple soup I made after the last soup post (October 18) was delicious. So great, in fact, there were sadly no leftovers! It turned out we didn’t have as many carrots as I thought, so I threw in a sweet potato and it became a curried carrot, apple and sweet potato soup. It worked well because there was sweet potato in the buddha bowls we also ate, so it all tied together nicely.

The next week, I did not make soup at all. I chaperoned the primary class field trip to the apple orchard. Anna started Sparks and those evenings are a blur trying to get back out the door on time. Matt was away two full days for work. I decorated the house for Halloween and prepped for our Halloween party happening on the weekend. (We did make apple pie muffins - that  totally stuck to the muffin wrappers, the topping entirely flaked off and they were too dense and dry. Better luck next time!) I had TWO nights out that week and the Friday was my birthday. There was just no time to think about soup. As simple as it may be it just wasn’t on the menu.

Last week, we got our Nourish Your Roots food box from the school fundraiser. Without a doubt, soup was happening. I really wanted to make leek and potato soup and lo and behold, both ingredients came in the box, along with lots more yummy fall fare. I found a recipe for leek and potato soup with carrot and celery on the Nourish Your Roots website. It was good though a bit bland. I’m glad I made garlic & pepper croutons to add some texture and crunch! Have you ever made your own croutons? I was daunted at the thought when I came across the recipe in my Oh She Glows cookbook but tried it once and have never looked back. It’s SO easy! Spread olive oil, rub one garlic clove, sprinkle garlic powder and salt over three slices of bread, slice, bake at 400 for 15 minutes, voila! Three slices were enough croutons for 4 of us.

But the saga of last week’s soup is that I was far too ambitious. I left things way too late and made pork tenderloin with roasted apples and onions at the same time. Plus the croutons. Each task fine on their own but combine doing all three at the same time? There was no “Once it’s on the stove you’re handsfree!” —smug me. I was chopping vegetables and browning the tenderloin and peeling apples all at once. It was labour intensive and it was not a day my kids were cooperating by just finding something to do. They were fighting and annoying and hello, day after Halloween what was I expecting?

So in the process of making dinner I managed to melt the bottom of the rice cooker to the top of the stove. : (  It was just a little too close and the heat a little too high. And oh, I managed to also burn part of the melted rice cooker to my hand. I’m talking little bits of melted black plastic STUCK TO MY HAND. It was not a good scene. Good thing it looked (and felt) worse than it was. There’s just a small burn on my hand. A reminder that this was not the kind of meal to make on my own on a Thursday night. Lesson learned.

In fact, I’m not having a great run in the kitchen at all. I proceeded to shatter our coffee pot carafe against the edge of the counter on the weekend and we still haven’t replaced our toaster that short-circuited weeks ago. We’re now down 3 appliances that we used religiously...might be a very boring Christmas. And maybe I better not touch the slow cooker for awhile…

So, I’m four weeks into the “weekly soup” and down one. I think I’ll forgive myself because really, who’s counting, besides me? I’m planning another soup for this Thursday and guess what? That’s all we are having. Soup and some nice crusty bread. Or maybe croutons!