Wednesday, 30 November 2011

NaBloPoMo 2011

Once again this year, I set myself the NaBloPoMo Challenge to blog every day for a whole month.   At this time of the year, I often find myself wondering why I blog and what to write about, so this challenge gives my blog new impetus. 

I blog because I like to write and my blog is a visual journal which I can look back on from time to time and remind myself of some of my achievements.

To those of you who shared this journey, thank you for being there and for making it all worthwhile.    

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A Little Celebration

Need I say more?  Yes, I passed the exam that I went all that way to Vancouver to write last month.  I got my results yesterday along with this card from my husband, a beautiful red rose and a chocolate cake! 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Thought For The Day

'If home is the magnetic north of the heart, then all journeys eventually become a circle.'

Will Ferguson (1964 -)

(Photo: Malhamdale, North Yorkshire in Winter, courtesy of my little sister.)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Advent ~ 1

A single light shines in the darkness.  The first candle stands for hope.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Anyone For Tea?

Afternoon tea is one tradition that I would like to revive if I had the time to sit down in the afternoon and enjoy it.  Even as an occasional treat, I believe that there is little better than freshly baked scones.

On a foray into Halifax a month or so ago, my husband discovered clotted cream.  In all the years that I've lived in Canada, I had never seen real English Clotted Cream. 

In combination with his favourite Bonne Maman Strawberry Jam, these didn't last long! 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Falling Snow

See the pretty snowflakes
Falling from the sky;
On the wall and housetops
Soft and thick they lie.

On the window ledges,
On the branches bare;
Now how fast they gather,
Filling all the air.

Look into the garden,
Where the grass was green;
Covered by the snowflakes,
Not a blade is seen.

Now the bare black bushes,
All look soft and white,
Every twig is laden,
What a pretty sight!


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Digging Out

The snow started yesterday lunchtime and by late afternoon, it was beginning to change the appearance of the landscape.  It was already getting dark by 4 p.m.  After the storm warnings began yesterday morning, most people were heading home early.

By evening, the blanket of snow was getting deeper.  The forecast was for up to 35 cm by morning.  I headed for bed and laid awake listening to the storm battering the windows.

No sun this morning, just a bleak winter dawn.  The photographs have a monochrome appearance due to the poor light.  Everywhere we looked, we saw snow ~ far more than would normally be expected at this time of the year.

The digging out began.  The first job was to actually get out of the door, which was easier said than done.  The problem with screen doors is that they open outwards, which is difficult when snow is piled up against them.  We resorted to using the normally unused door at the front and managed to force our way out through a crack.

I wanted to give my photographs some perspective, so I took this one of my foot and leg in the snow on the garden.  As you can imagine, walking in this is very difficult.  Also, it proved impossible to stay dry, as snow found its way inside my waterproof trousers and boots....

I found the other door and then it was a matter of digging a hole to access it.  We had a lot of digging to do.

All the way along past our two cars and still the driveway is a long way from reach.

Yes, that's the driveway and no, we didn't shovel our way down it.  At present, we are snowed in awaiting a plough.  I'm not sure that we will even be able to get out by tomorrow.

At least we can now access our door and get in and out without wading through a snowdrift.  If we get any more snow, I'm not sure where we are going to put it.

It may not officially be winter, but try telling that to those of us living on the east coast!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Three Bears

Spotted outside the Christmas shop at the weekend.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Lemon Curd

I bought some beautiful Meyer lemons when I went grocery shopping and I decided to turn them into lemon curd.  As a child, I adored lemon curd and although I don't eat it often these days, I do still enjoy it. 

Don't the lemons have the most wonderful colour?  Their scent as I grated and squeezed them was sweet and full of citrusy promise to come.

Beat the eggs in a pan and add butter cut into small chunks.  The recipe said to use a balloon whisk to combine, which I did, but it is a tiring process.  I learnt from past experience that an electric whisk does not work.

The end result looked a little foamy and I was trying to flatten the bubbles with the back of a spoon, but eventually I left it like this.

I added the lids and heated the jars again to create a vacuum; not that they will be sealed for long! I couldn't resist trying it on my toast this morning and it was delicious!  I have plans to make a more seasonal curd before Christmas, but I'll keep the details until later.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Christmas Open House

Saturday afternoon was bright and sunny after the snow overnight, so we decided to go out for a drive and headed up to Cape Breton.  We went on a road which is unfamiliar to me and came upon a delightful Christmas shop where I made a couple of small purchases, which I will share with you in a later post.  It turned out that the owner of the shop opens her home for charity and she was having a Christmas Open House.  Not only is the house itself beautiful, but the way it was decorated was stunning.
There was a Christmas tree in each of the main rooms in addition to Christmas china on the dining table and lots of Christmas ornaments.  the bedrooms were cosy and inviting, with cosy quilts.
Who wouldn't adore a sleigh bed like this one? 
And next to the bed was yet another Christmas tree.  The attention to detail was staggering.  It takes the owner three weeks to set up for this event and she has opened her house for the past 17 years to raise money for charity. 
This is the last year that she intends to do this and I count myself fortunate to have seen this beautiful home.  What a magical start to the Christmas season!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Stir-Up Sunday

I've never attempted a Christmas pudding before.  I've always made excuses about not having enough time and thinking that it was too time-consuming, when in actual fact, the mixing process is quite quick and that just leaves the steaming.

Today is Stir-Up Sunday: the Sunday before the first Sunday in Advent when traditionally, plum puddings are mixed and steamed in preparation for Christmas.

I had to adapt the recipe slightly, as I had no wholemeal breadcrumbs, so the pudding may be a little lighter in colour than usual.  Also, in the absence of muscovado sugar (or any treacle to make my own), I had to use dark brown sugar.  I doubt that it will detract from the taste however, as the mixture had the most wonderful Christmassy aroma.

It is now steaming away gently in the kitchen.  All I have to do is remember to keep topping up the water.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Thought For The Day

'And did you know
That every flake of snow
That forms so high
In the grey winter sky
And falls so far,
Is a bright six-pointed star?
Each crystal grows
A flower as perfect as a rose.'

Clive Sanson (1910-1981)


Friday, 18 November 2011

The View From Here

The leaves are mostly gone now and the skeletal branches of the trees are visible in the garden.  The landscape is preparing itself for winter. 

What was I saying?  Brrrrr.....what a difference a day makes.....

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Simple Pleasures ~ 1

It may be November, but it is still mild enough to dry laundry outside on a windy day.  I love that fresh smell that only comes from clothes being dried outdoors.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Queen of Scales

I made a promise to myself last year when I was going through a tough time in my midwifery clerkship, that I would buy myself a present with my first pay cheque.  I had wanted to buy some new kitchen scales for a long time, as my old ones were too small.  I found that if I wanted to weigh larger quantities of ingredients, even though I had the weights to do so, the pan of the scale was not big enough to accommodate and I invariably ended up with flour all over the place.

After doing my research, I had determined that the scale I wanted was the Weylux Queen, which has been highly recommended in numerous reviews.  Sadly, it was not available here and I was concerned that the cost of shipping would be prohibitive, but I was fortunate to find the scales on sale and there was an extra discount on the weekend that I placed my order.  I can honestly say that I have not been disappointed with my choice ~ I love my new kitchen scales and they are a delight to use.  Not only that, but they look good too!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Sir Samuel Cunard was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1787.  He was a successful merchant, who owned sailing ships.  During the Industrial Revolution, he travelled to Britain to join forces with a marine engineer by the name of Robert Napier.  Together, they put in a tender to HM Queen Victoria to establish a steamship service for the Royal Mail.  They formed the British & North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and began service in 1840, sailing from Liverpool to Boston.

This is the background to the Cunard Line, which carries passengers across the globe to this day.  Samuel Cunard died in 1865.

I had no knowledge of the Halifax connection to Cunard until I stumbled upon this statue at the docks where the cruise ships arrive.  The statue is adjacent to Halifax's Market, which we recently visited.  I wonder how many of the passengers disembarking from their ships pause to give thought to what a huge adventure it must have been to travel to Britain in 1839?  I imagine that it was a very different experience to the same journey today. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Mini Memories

My first Mini was blue ~ the kind that some of you may remember as being the colour that District Nurses used to drive some years ago in the UK.  It didn't have any fancy extras ~ just a basic car with a heater and a tendancy to stall whenever it was wet!  My second Mini was silver and again, it was a very basic car, though it did have a slightly larger engine than the first ~ all of about 1,000 cc.  Overtaking could only be attempted on the flat, or preferably going downhill!  As the roads became more crowded, I moved to a slightly larger car, though I've never been a fan of big cars.

A couple of months ago, I began searching for a car ~ not a new one, but a used car in good condition.  Living in the city, I had never actually owned a car of my own in all the years that I've lived in Canada, as public transport was cheap, reliable and less stressful than driving.  Now that I'm a country girl, I needed a set of wheels.  We spent some weeks going around the dealerships and I couldn't make a decision.  Then by chance, I saw an advert for a black and white Mini.  We located the dealership and they gave me the keys to take it for a drive.  You should have seen the smile on my face! 

Here was the car that I had been dreaming of....not only that, but the interior red leather seats were gorgeous.  I hesitated for a little while (long enough to ask myself whether I should buy it) and we took it for a second test drive.  By the time I had driven it around Halifax on a Saturday afternoon, I had made a decision.  I've owned my Mini for about seven weeks now and I must say that my husband seems to have driven it more than I.  Actually, he took it out again this morning....oh well, it is fun to drive and I love it.  If only I can get my key back, maybe I can take it for a little trip somewhere....

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Thought For The Day

'No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.'

John Donne (1572-1631)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Lavender Love

Crabtree & Evelyn's lavender soap is a small indulgence and just before we moved, I made a point of visiting their store so that I could stock up on a small supply.  I wasn't sure that I would be able to find any in this part of the world, as the company does not have a single store in Nova Scotia.

An added treat on this occasion was a box of scented drawer liners.  I thought that as my chest of drawers had been emptied for the move, it would be nice to have the drawers lined before refilling them.

Have you seen the latest design?  It is gorgeous, though I feel that my photograph does not do it justice.  At the time, my only access to a camera was my phone.  The best part of the whole exercise is that every time I open a drawer in my bedroom, the scent of lavender greets me and makes me smile.  How could anyone not love lavender?