A heart of gratitude…and an award?!

liesbster 2I am grateful.  For many things; my children, my health, my husband, my family.  I am grateful for those in my life who have influenced me, who have challenged me, who have nearly broken me and for those who have held me up. I am grateful to come home to a warm house and plenty of nourishment every night.  I am grateful that I am safe and loved.

This past month has been a new adventure for me!  I am not a writer, I certainly did not think that I would enjoy it at all.  I started this little blog more as a repository of memories about some of the things in my life that I am most grateful for – my home, my family, my friends and my garden.  The garden seems like a silly little piece of the big picture, but it is a very fitting foundation upon which to build my story.  It is such a perfect backdrop for so many things and there are so many puns to be worked in!! I had hoped a few people would enjoy my ramblings…ahem…memoirs… about my trials in the garden of course, but most importantly, I hoped that as my girls get older they see past the posts about seeds, weeds and dreams and recognize these tales for what they really are. They are for them.  I am trying to share with them a bit of myself that they don’t see day to day by planting memories for them “on paper”.  I am trying to bury the little things they don’t hear from me (as we rush out of the house in the morning or to soccer after dinner or when I am upset that they are arguing again) in the little stories I share about “gardening”.  I hope they one day unearth what I set out to achieve. I hope they discover the meaning of the words even if they are covered in a bit of “dirt” and I hope that this little time capsule helps them get to know me a bit better. And if they learn a little something of the importance of knowing where their food comes from or discover the beauty in a blooming flower along the way – so much the better!

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When I turned my computer on 2 nights ago, I had a notification that someone else is reading these memoirs and maybe even enjoying them a bit!  Lynn from WordShamble had selected me as a Leibster Award Nominee – I am not sure if this like a blog chain letter disguised as an award for new Blogs, but either way, I am grateful!  So thanks Lynn!

Apparently, there are rules that go along with accepting this award, so here they are:

1) Put the Liebster Award logo on your blog.

2) Thank and tag the blog who nominated you – Again, thanks Lynn!

3) Answer their questions and come up with 10 new ones for your nominees

4) Nominate 8 blogs (with less than 200 followers), let them know you’ve nominated them and link them in your post.  I was not sure I had even read 8 blogs, so this led me on another adventure searching for some like minded gardeners (I apologize if you have more than 200 followers – that part was tricky)

5) No tag-backs.

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So these are the questions I was asked…

(1) What was your favourite book as a child and why?

The Poky Little Puppy because the drawings were sweet, the adventures were grand and the puppy was so naughty. It gave me hope that someday, maybe, being naughty would pay off in Strawberry Shortcake. Still waiting… 

(2) If you were a Supervillain, who would you want to be and why?

Dr Doofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb – deep down he isn’t really evil and he has some phenomenal ideas!
(3) If you could only save one animal from a global extinction, what would it be?

My dog Gus.
(4) Where’s your happy place? Describe.

In my garden, with my girls – guess you will just have to read all my other posts to find out why!
(5) E-readers or conventional books?

Always a real book.
(6) If you could choose one piece of tech from a Bond movie, which would it be?

I would choose Pierce Brosnan – is that an option?!
(7) What are the three foods that you wouldn’t want to live without?

Brie, pepper jelly and chocolate.
(8) If a griffin fought a hydra, which would win?

I couldn’t even venture a guess.
(9) What’s the favourite post you’ve posted?

Little Hands, Little Seeds, Very Little Patience – I love that little girl to bursting.
(10)What’s the best piece of conversation you’ve ever overheard?

My two girls whispering behind my back after a very bad day at work…”Uh oh, Mama is getting out the rototiller, we’d better go inside and hide!”

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I am grateful to have discovered the following blogs and nominate:

Plumdirt

New Gardener Blues

Garden Fairy Farm

DirtnKids

The Gardeners Notebook

Garden and more

The Bent Trowel

Gardening Hands

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My 10 questions for you are:

1) Favorite flower

2) Favorite veggie

3) Favorite garden picture (insert it if you can)

4) Favorite season

5) Biggest defeat in your garden

6) Biggest challenge in your garden

7) Your next big project

8) Your gardening partner you are most grateful for

9) Your favourite quote

10) What are you grateful for?

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So the first month has been a truly great experience!  I have discovered that writing can be a lot of fun and a great distraction – even if it only lasts for this one season, for that discovery I am…. grateful.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

Nova Scotia Treasures

IMG_3107Buried treasure, shipwrecks, legends of smuggling and piracy fascinate my family, young and old. Growing up in Atlantic Canada provided so many opportunities to become engrossed in tales of lore.  On the South Shore is Oak Island, a small, mysterious isle where treasure hunters have been trying since 1795 to unearth what could be one of the biggest troves, ever!  6 people have died trying, millions have been supposedly spent on excavating and countless hours have been spent dreaming about what could be buried hundreds of feet underground in booby trapped vaults! My big girl’s voracious appetite for theories and speculations cannot get enough of Templar intrigue and Capt. Kidd rumblings.

Cape Breton’s natural beauty is booty enough for me, but for treasure hunters the call of hundreds of shipwrecks cannot be quelled.  In 1965, wreck hunter Alex Storm and his crew brought up gold and silver from the treasure ship, Le Chameau. It was rumoured to be worth almost a million dollars, but given a political scandal and settlement, no one knows for sure!  Another Cape Breton legend holds that the Louisbourg treasure, mysteriously missing following the siege of 1758, contained the annual gold and silver payroll of the French colonies, priceless relics and religious artifacts.  It has never been recovered, nor its resting site located…some think it is hidden on a small island in a lake off Mira Bay that was once an estuary, safe from the invading British forces and blockade.

As a kid, my Papa would take us on boat rides looking for the island and the booty. If the motor was out of commission, he would resort to rowing us, dory style, on our epic hunts. Now that my Dad is the Papa, the legend of the Louisbourg treasure and the traditional excursions to “Treasure Island” continues to have deep roots in our family. Annual trips still elicit squeals of delight from my little buccaneers, curious cousins and any little scallywags who visit!  Of course I can’t share the name of the lake, that would break the treasure hunter’s solemn code.

Maritimers are blessed with other treasures as well! Though my girls don’t find my adimageventures seeking out new garden markets to visit, farms to explore on Open Farm Day, or digging for buried treasure in our potato plot nearly as mystical, they indulge (read: put up with) me!  We hide our treasures throughout the house for the winter. In the garage we store root veggies, pumpkins, squash for a mid-winter homegrown pot of soup, rich as any king. In the windows, we hang herbs as decorations to dry and enjoy warm, aromatic teas all winter.  My little one loves delivering her prized mint next door on a regular basis!  The pantry is full of jars of pickles, beets and salsa. We freeze and puree and jelly. We even keep a few greens growing under the lights! There is no greater gold to me than that of sparkling crab apple jelly on a hot biscuit after a great day of skiing!

Lastimage fall, I tried to “overwinter” some cold hardy root veggies and kale in a secret spot in the garden.  Sadly, the strong North east winds and sly deer who share our inclination for treasure hunting had other plans.  They found them. My PVC hoop tunnels and frost blankets were no match for them; somewhere a very content deer is gloating over his victory in securing my garden’s plunders. Next year I will have to reinforce my tunnels with better support, stronger plastic, bigger rocks and more insulation. Lesson learned!  The only thing they left alone were my leeks and a few rogue kale, both of which are quite a treat to dig out from under the protection of the snow in the middle of January.

My big girl (staff photographer) thought it would be fun to share a bit of our winter treasures by taking pictures of a yummy winter soup we made on a blustery day and providing a “treasure map” of how we made it.  It is not exactly a recipe because I tend to measure by tasting! image First she roasted pie pumpkin, acorn squash and butternut squash with garlic hidden under the cored out centres. Next the last of our stash of potatoes were chopped and sautéed with fresh picked leeks, dried sage, thyme, chilis and chives. By accident I added nutmeg instead of pepper – I told you I was easily distracted!  I get that from my Grandma. image Chicken stock was added to the potatoes and leeks to simmer while the squash cooled and sweat under foil, making them easier to peel.  Once cooled and peeled, the were blendered with the roasted garlic and added to the soup. image We added some fresh cilantro, easily grown in windowsill pots, for a little something extra!image Though we may never actually uncover the Louisbourg treasure, I hope my girls will never lose their innocent sense of wonder and adventure. In time, they may even come to treasure all the spoils this beautiful province has to offer, especially those from our own back yard. Who knows, maybe one day they will take their own kids hunting for buried treasure, even if it is only potatoes.

When planning our garden for the year, we try to think about what we will grow to store for the winter, here are our thoughts..

Things we grow to store: Pie Pumpkin, Acorn squash, Butternut squash, Cheiftan and Norland potatoes, carrots, onions

To freeze: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, Haskap berries, beans, shell peas, beets and greens, Swiss chard, basil, dill

To can: Salsa, berries for jam, jalapeños for pepper jellies, beets and pickling cucumbers

To dry: Mint, oregano, sage, thyme, chives, tarragon, savoury, rosemary, I would like to try chamomile this year!

To tunnel: Beets, carrots, leeks, kale, chard, spinach, bok choy, mustard, parsley, mizuna

Under the lights:  Mesclun, romaine, cilantro, basil, arugula

Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them.” – Napoleon Bonaparte