Friday, July 31, 2009

Yahoo!! 200 Posts on this Little Blog of Mine!!

Another silly milestone, I know but I've reached 200 (and now 1) posts here. It has been a blast sharing with you and I hope to make it to 300 before you know it. These last 100 took quite a while. There will be a lot of cool reviews coming up in the next couple weeks. We are challenging ourselves to mostly local eating (the 100 mile challenge) so I will be sure to post about that (including some recipes...I hope). The kitchen is more or less finished so we'll (finally) share that with you. I'll post about my poor, sad little garden. Next place of the week will be our very own Sydney Mines.

Stay tuned! Here's to the next 100 posts!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cape Breton Place of the Week-Highland Village Museum

This week's place of the weeks is The Highland Village Museum in Iona. I am very interested in Celtic culture and the Gaelic language so it was such a treat to go visit this living museum. Like Louisbourgthe Highland Village takes you back in time to when the Scots first arrived in Cape Breton. By visiting several period house, the schoolhouse, church and general store you get a feel for what it was like for these brave families that travelled across the ocean to a new land. There are reenactments and guides in full period attire that are available to answer any questions you might have. The kids watched the blacksmith make a nail over his coal fire and then got to keep it as a souvenir. The also got to taste taste some snaps at another home. They even had their first experience in school! I was thrilled to hear Gaelic spoken and see several different families sitting together learning to speak this great language.





We were even happier with our visit to The Highland Village than to The Fortress of Louisbourg. Louisbourg was massive, we just couldn't see it all with the children but The Highland Village was easy to see in 3 hours (with lots of time for the kids to ask questions). It didn't feel rushed at all. We also felt that the workers at The Highland Village were better equipped to answer our questions and stayed true to the period better (however, in all fairness we went to Louisbourg when it was first opening for the season and I think that there were quite a few new people working there and not everything was set up yet). Of course, because it was Celtic/Gaelic I particularly loved it. Morgaine has also decided that "Gaelic is the most beautiful language". It was also nice to walk through time (from Scotland, to the New Land right until the 1900s) at the Highlands Museum as opposed to focus on one year of French history in Louisbourg. It really helped the children see the changes that took place over the years.

Definitely worth visiting if you plan a trip to Cape Breton, especially if you have youngins that might find Louisbourg a little too overwhelming. I am sure that we will visit both many times over the next few years.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Whole Food Cooking with Sue Gregg

This is not an official review of Sue Gregg's cook books but I did get the opportunity to taste test a couple recipes from her website. We've always tried to eat as healthy as possible and limit our intake of processed foods so I jumped at the opportunity to try out some new recipes.

Black Bean Chowder


Liam, who fluctuates between wanting to be a chef or an architect (he likes to create stuff), was very eager to help me prepare this meal. He likes to see what things go into recipes so he was my little "gopher" (go get this, go get that). There was a fair amount of chopping in this recipe so that bored him a little but he liked being the one to add everything to the pot.

The verdict

Liam gave this meal a 5 1/2 out of ten because he thought it was a little too spicy for his taste.

Morgaine, who is almost 4, enthusiastically gave this recipe a 9 out of 10 and said she'd be happy to eat it EVERY day. However, once Liam said it was too spicy she also decided it was too spicy *lol*.

Mike gave the soup a 7 1/2 and said it was something that he would like to eat again, however, he found it a little bit too chili like.

I, personally, give the the recipe a 7 because I also found it to be too chili like. I would have also preferred to use dried beans as opposed to canned. I liked that it was hardy and easily felt like a complete meal.

As a family we agreed that it was something that we like and would make it monthly and maybe a bit more often in the winter months as it is so warm and filling.

Baked Parmesan Chicken


This recipe is quite simple as it asks you to basically throw all the ingredients into a blender to make a coating for chicken breasts. However, because I was somewhat afraid that my blender would not be able to handle dry ingredients I kept Liam busy tearing up the bread and parsley needed in the recipe. We also had the opportunity to talk, again, about food cross contamination and safety as it was a busy day in the kitchen and we were cooking several dishes at once.

The Verdict

Liam did not like this meal but he is going through a phase where chicken just seems to fill him up (and that is what he told us) therefore causing him to not want to eat it. He told us that we would likely like it on another day when it wasn't filling him up so much.

Morgaine gave this recipe 7 stars. She liked the taste of it but didn't say much else.

Mike liked it and gave the topping an 8 1/2. His only comment was that it was a little too dry. However, I did overcook it slightly because he was busy outside and instead of taking it out of the over I left it in order to keep it warm.

I quite liked the taste of this meal, it was crunchy enough and had pleasing taste. Having tried it about 10 minutes earlier than the rest of the family, when it was cooked just perfectly, I also found it to be juicy.

It is a meal that we would likely enjoy once every couple of weeks (though for now would have to think of something else for our little boy). It was simple to prepare and with it's relatively mild taste something that can be served with various other dishes making it versatile and one of those dishes that can be served just about anytime. I believe it would even be good cold, served in a salad during the summer months when one doesn't feel like having a hot supper.

We would be more than happy, as a family, to have to opportunity to try out other Sue Gregg recipes. As a family who tries to eat healthy and have tried various other whole food ideas, we were happy (especially, Mike, who has been somewhat whole food resistant) to see that these meals were healthy without necessarily feeling that way. Check out her site and try one of her recipes for yourself!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm loving-Fresh picked cherries from our own yard

About a month and a half ago I took this picture so that my friend's could admire the beautiful apple blossoms I had bloom throughout my yard.


As the weeks passed hard little green fruits appeared on the branches. I told kids not the eat the fruits because I assumed that it was a decorative apple tree. A few days ago, Mike called me out to examine the fruits more closely. Overnight they seemed to have gone from little hard green fruits wonderfully ripe CHERRIES.


We picked to our hearts content but then quickly came to realize that cherries need to be used pretty quickly. Not really knowing what to do with them, and not wanting to waste them (as I was just a guest blogger on 3 Boys & a Dog talking about living green frugally), I decided to experiment. Feeling a little inspired, I decided to try making something with them but figured that they would be too tart to really enjoy. However, the result was delicious so I've decided to share my recipe for "Summer Harvest Crumble".

Summer Harvest Crumble

(as always my measurements are approximate. I also tried to make this recipe quite healthy and don't feel that it takes away from the end result at all...but if you are whole food phobic then feel free to make it with white flour/sugar)

2 cups of pitted fresh cherries
2 cups of other fruit (I used strawberries and peaches as I was going for a summertime feel)
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups oats
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/2 butter melted
1/4 cup of brown sugar

1. In a small saucepan heat pitted cherries over low heat.


2. Add two cups of fruit of your choice.


3. Add honey and white sugar (you can use only honey if you wish). Bring to a boil over medium low heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.


4. Separate fruits from their juices and save juice to use as a syrup. Place fruits in an 8 x 8 baking dish.

5. Make a crumble mixture with flour, oats, flax seeds, melted butter and brown sugar.


6. Spread crumble over fruit mixture and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

7. Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream and the reserved syrup.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

What we are doing now-July 19th

Obviously, we AREN'T post on our blog.

Instead we are:

-Finishing up the kitchen makeover (it looks great);
-Preparing for my brother visit (starting tonight);
-Sewing an apron (Lord help me);
-Covering our potatoes and watching the garden grow.

I'll be back in few days!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On Gaurd!!




(don't mind the dust bunnies....under the couch doesn't always get the attention it deserves and besides they like it under there).

Our cats are all on edge. They've taken to hiding. They crouch in corners. I've even caught them trembling. Why on earth would our incredibly mellow kitties be so on edge. What could possibly phase them?

Here's what?


Yes, we've done it again. We've let a kitty tug on our heartstrings and we've taken her in. She looks nice and calm, doesn't she? She wonderful with the children and always underfoot. She a little fur ball. But goodness, does she have personality. Each one of our kitties have had the opportunity to witness her fiery side and let's just say the fur was flying. So yeah, "Mama" (she recently had a litter of kitten, no we don't have the kittens, IMAGINE) has the run of the house.

Sleeping on the couch....


sharing the bed with the humans.

No wonder the others are on guard. One of the reasons we got her was to be a companion to our other young kitty but right now she's a bit more than what we bargained for! Poor, poor George! I am sure that with time she'll mellow out and fit right in but until then, I'm sure it will be an interesting few days!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cape Breton Place of the Week-Cape Breton Fudge Co.

No, there will be no scenic views this week. It has been too wet. We've been hibernating with books, movies, blankets and FUDGE. We treated ourselves to beautiful handmade fudge from The Cape Breton Fudge Co. Yummy stuff. Wonderful staff AND they ship worldwide. I've tried and I've tried to make fudge and it just never turns out smooth and creamy like this. I feel very lucky to have such a great fudge company nearby because everyone needs a bit of fudge from time to time!


Comes in such a nice little package.


Complete with a knife for sharing.


Chocolate mint. Rocky road. Score. Cookies and Cream.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Screen Time and Kids

Many moons ago, before my son was born, I decided that it was best that our children have very little/no screen time. There have been numerous studies saying that screen time for young children can cause a host of problems (especially when it comes to school). Well, we were going along nice and fine with no TV (and of course no computer) until we were given a Baby Einstein movie for Liam. I am pretty sure that at the time I was pregnant with Morgaine, and sick as a dog. It was a welcomed few minutes of peace. It was still a very occasional thing.

Then, while watching a show on CBC, Liam decided that he wanted to learn to read so not really know where to beginning I looked on the computer for something to help out and stumbled upon Starfall. It was a wonderful tool for teaching Liam and it started his regular use of the computer. We do not have television here but I am almost sad to say that the computer gets a lot of use and is pretty much Liam's favorite activity at the moment and his little sister is following right along in his foot steps. As I don't think there is any turning back now, and they mostly only play educational material, I figured I might as well share their favorite links. I have come to see that the computer can be a valuable tool when used with moderation.

Liam's Favorites

Poptropica (TIme Tangled Island is a favorite of ours. It has a links to sites to learn more about the different periods of history and places in the world. When used as an educational tool it is great. It can also be used purely to play).
Discovery Kids (especially WhizBall)

Morgaine's Favorites

Starfall (I credit this site with teaching Liam to read...or at least really helping in along. Morgaine is more interested in the artsy activities, games, and music but I have hope!)
Wordgirl (I am shocked at the words that my kids use from visiting this site. FLABBERGASTED and EXASPERATED are just a couple of their favorites (and yes, they use them in the right context!))

Mama's Favorites

The Homeschool Lounge
Just an all around great site for homeschoolers to get encouragment, ideas, and meet other homeschooling families.
Soule Mama A blog I've fallen in love with. Such good ideas for living a simple life and enjoying the moment.
BBC Education Lots of great ideas for unit studies and an valuable source of information written in a way that is easy to understand. Many links to renown universities and the such for more information.

Of course, we also use the computer just for fun. The kids wanted me to share the pictures of the aliens that they built online over the weekend. They laughed a lot while they made these with their Daddy (and I may actually have them craft their own aliens out of recyclables as they had such a good time!

Here's Morgaine's alien and it's little pets.

Picture 1

Liam's alien.

Picture 2

I'd love to hear what your favorite internet sites are! How do you feel about screen time for kids? What are your experiences? Let me know!

Friday, July 3, 2009

I'm Loving-Taking a Little Cape Breton Home


It's nice that there is an abundance of wild flowers in Cape Breton just waiting to come home and be an arrangement (yes, they are actually arranged in that mug *lol*).


Another wonderful thing about Cape Breton is the abundance of wild berries as well. We managed to pick quite a few while we were out in Victoria Mines giving me to opportunity to try out a recipe that The Old Schoolhouse's very own Amy, shared with us.

Sugar Cookie Cake

3/4 c. cold butter
3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda

Mix butter, sugar, and flour into crumbs. Reserving 1 cup of crumbs.
To the rest of the crumbs, add the buttermilk to which the 1 tsp. of baking soda has been added.
Add the eggs and vanilla; mix and bake in a greased 9x13" pan.
Top with the 1 cup reserved crumbs.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).


The cake is great with strawberries on top and then (as it makes a huge cake) we used the rest to make pudding chomeaur. By far my favorite white cake recipe. Thanks for sharing, Amy! I plan to use it with strawberries, and then raspberries, and then blueberries, and maybe partridge berries.....

Yes, I am loving bringing home little memories of our weekly excursions....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cute...I Think

A couple little stories for you...

We are working on math and one of the rhymes we are learning is "One, two, buckle my shoe..". You know how it goes. We get to "9, 10, a big fat hen" and Liam runs up to me and gives me the biggest hug EVER and says "Mom, you are my big fat hen!!" and gives me a kiss.

Hmm, compliment?


This afternoon I am heading off to take a shower leaving Liam in charge of keeping an eye on his sister.

Me: "Now Liam, you know not to answer the door or pick up the phone."

Liam: "Okay, Mom."

Me: "No jumping on the bed, either, because you might fall off..."

Liam: "Okay. I know."

Me: "And don't.."

Liam: "Mom, don't worry. We will do all of the things you told us not to do."

Then he stops, thinks, and says "Wait, that's not what I wanted to say."


Look at him...


he is being cute, right?