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Bright Angel Sprouting

Once a week after school, we all drive a few km to Bright Angel Park. When we visited at Christmas we drove into the dark parking lot, took one look, and turned around… but a few weeks ago I discovered this river and suspension bridge is a stone’s throw away from the parking lot:

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Now, this stone’s throw happens to be down, down, down… and last week taking the 3 there was quite the adventure!! As soon as we arrived both girls had to pee… lifted Janelle and successful! No shortage of trees to water nearby. Daria came back from her independent venture with VERY wet pants. We solved this by giving her Janelle’s skirt, as you can see:

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Second, Stefan decided he was not happy (but can’t really tell me why, my first 18 month old with only a handful of words!), so we spent our beach time glued together as so:

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Well that was no problem, except then Daria had to do #2…. so I sent her up to the parking lot (yes, by herself!!) to what I thought was a washroom, but it turned out only to be a change house. At this point I knew if I hauled them all out of there, we wouldn’t be back, and it was gloriously nice and warm on these rocks… so she ventured to find a log and make a deposit. Phew, a few hurdles done!

Well the last straw was Janelle falling in the river and getting soaked!! Ack. At this point I hauled everyone (plus Daria’s deposit in a plastic bag, which Janelle couldn’t keep her eyes off of so she walked backwards…) up to the parking lot, thankful for my 1/2 hour in nature (as David Suzuki is challenging everyone to do daily!). Daria gave Janelle her skirt back and put on Stefan’s spare pants as we were off to the grocery store. What a sight we were!!

Somehow I still had the energy to start a new venture: SPROUTING!! Inspired by a mom at parent & child playschool, and her referral to this website: http://sprouting.com/canstore/enter.html here is my first batch!! What a great use for this window. I love living things in my kitchen!!

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Friendship, Ocean, and Chili!

Hosted my first friend in our new house! My friend Jocelyn and her 2 year old son William, (and baby to arrive in a few weeks!) came and stayed over on Tuesday night. I met Jocelyn at the SFU Rowing Club, where she was a Master’s Student in Psychology and I was doing my BSc in Kinesiology… but letters aside, the formative memories of our friendship involve a great many conversations while RUNNING! Training to complete the 1999 Vancouver Marathon Together… she always had the most interesting conversation-starters and questions to ponder… and best of all we crossed the finish together! Now she lives on Cypress Mountain and we share a love of good food, skiing, hiking, and all things to promote good healthy, rich (not in $$!), engaged living!

This week, 15+ years after the start of our friendship (whoa!), our kids frolicked by the ocean together:

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Jocelyn wanted the recipe for my Lentilly Chili… I often make this as a last-minute dish when I’ve forgotten to soak other legumes overnight… I love lentils! So easy to cook. When she came I had made it in our crock pot. Thought I’d share the recipe with everyone here. The best part is there are no directions, just throw it all in a pot and simmer as long and low as you can… serve with cilantro, yogurt, cheese, or other favorite chili toppings!

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1c tomato sauce

3/4-1c lentils (I used green but red would be fine too, or even black)

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I go organic)

1c grated carrots

1c onion (I process fine so my kids don’t detect it!)

1/2 c. green pepper sliced thin, or other color pepper

2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1 TBSP chili powder

1.5 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp basil, 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

1-2 c stock (can be vegetable, or even beer!)

1-2 c finely cut squash (I tend to add near end so doesn’t turn into mush)

Other variations: add 2 tsp cumin, dash of cinnamon, 1/2 c pineapple juice, 1 tbsp sugar… this recipe is pretty forgiving to any changes or substitutions!

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Maple Bay and Garden Clean up

Met an amazing man who lives on the water at Maple Bay. He came on a holiday from Edmonton several years ago, and fell in love with this oceanside house, that he now resides in!! He was happy to share his story with us as we meandered along the beach in front of his house last Sunday… nothing I love better than listening to other people’s journeys!! And Stefan was so happily entranced with his puppy who was old and full of love.

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We have also managed to clean up another section of our garden!! We bought 8 tomato plants at market, and needed a place to plant them, so we left the kids’ digging garden untouched (they have a whole play garden bed with no seeds in it!) and cleaned out this blue pit… now strawberries and tomatoes are covered in a make-shift greenhouse (plastic supported by sawhorses and tomato cages!). Apparently there is not enough heat here for tomatoes to grow like weeds, as they did in the Okanagan!!

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Hammocks and other Garden Memories

When I went to Guatemala in 2003, I developed a love of the Latin culture, a yearning to speak Spanish, and a deeper appreciation of what is truly important. Volunteering with Hope Haven International http://www.hopehaveninternational.org/ was a remarkable experience. I also bought a hammock! But, I’ve never had space to hang it in my yard, so it has sat in our shed collecting dust. Here, we hung it up last week:

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Now when I see my hammock, I am reminded of my trip 10 years ago, and it is a piece of familiarity in a land that otherwise conjures up no memories for me… or, more accurately, very few. We brought a select few plants down here from Vernon. One was some blue flax, gifted to me from my dear friend Susan, from her mother who tenderly cared for the blue flax in her land on Kalamalka Lake. The blue flax looks like it has taken a recent van trip, but I think it will recover!!

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I treasure this familiar plant and the memories it brings. Now that I am here I wish I took more living memories from my garden in Vernon… but the movers didn’t pack earth or living things, so all the plants came in our van with us! Still reminiscing about our 20 ft high walnut tree that was weed-size when my first daughter was born….

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Shooting chickens with marshmallows!

Quotable quote today. Janelle (3 yrs): “Daria before God there was no people here”. Daria (5 yrs): “yes God was born by 2 people, remember, Mary and Joseph”. Janelle: “yes, in Bethlehem, shooting chickens with  marshmallows”.

Here is the context. For those of you in Vernon, there is a “Bethlehem Star” event every December on Mission Hill at the Baptist Church. Last year they added some games for kids to play while waiting for the stage to open and let the next group in for the performance. Here is one of the games – literally shooting chickens with marshmallows!

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Well for today’s food love I gave myself the choice of 3 wheat-free treats:

1) Carrot pumpkinseed spelt cookies from the True Grain Bakery (Cowichan Bay) http://www.truegrain.ca/,

2) Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar from Soulshine Gluten-Free Edibles (Mill Bay) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Soulshine-Gluten-Free-Edibles/298897616875575 whom I saw at the Saturday Duncan Farmer’s Market, or

3) a date square from The Garage (Duncan) http://www.communityfarmstore.ca/.

ALL Delectable! Which would you choose?

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I definitely love that I can find a plethora of gluten-free edibles. Sugar is the 5th ingredient in 2 of these desserts. Yah! The 3rd I don’t have the ingredient list for. Want to try to recreate? Carrot Pumpkinseed Spelt Cookies = rolled oats, spelt, butter, farm eggs, cane sugar, raisins, carrots, pumpkinseeds, spice, baking powder and sea salt. Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars = chickpea flour, gluten-free oats, butter, peanut butter, sugar, egg, chocolate, baking soda, vanilla and salt.

 

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BBQ Pizza and Gluten Free Fridays!

For 3 weeks I’ve been cooking without an oven. No crackers, muffins, cookies… not to mention pizza pie day Fridays!! Our family has been making pizza, including our own crust (kids LOVE playing with the dough) every Friday for quite some time. When my parents were visiting last week we made pizza on spelt buns in the toaster oven… good, but not a repeater for every week! Yesterday, with my sister visiting, we went for it… a first for me – BBQ PIZZA!

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Not so hard, as it turned out. Place foil on a BBQ Tray (ours is perforated), spread on oil, dot with corn meal (as we do for our oven pizzas), roll crust very thin, add toppings and VOILA! Yummers.

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My other fantastic discovery is the amazing Gluten-Free bread made at our local organic store “The Garage” every Friday. This made some scrumptious grilled cheese sandwiches! Tasted like frozen Gluten-Free bread probably tasted months ago, before it was added to the freezer section of most stores!

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Forested Fun!

I am aiming to take on David Suzuki’s challenge – spend 30 min in nature every day! For myself, and my children, this is rejuvenating. Since we bike to school, I often count that as our ride follows trails and paths through farmland for most of the route. A couple of days ago, I spent 20 glorious minutes resting in this chair that I placed at the side of our driveway so that I don’t back into the (hard to see!) ditch!

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Where were my children? Playing in the forested “greenway” that runs alongside our house, between us and neighbor Don on the lower side of our property. We can access this greenway through a gate from our backyard, but when we tried it proved to be too dense for a forested walk or play. In our front yard, however, across the driveway and through this hedge…. TAKE A PEEK! My kids’ paradise.

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Many thanks to my Dad who cut away some branches from the back side of the hedge and Kurt who created this cute door and put down some slate remnants as steps,…. If you can see the bike helmet lying on the ground, that is where the doorway is cut into the hedge.

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Here is what you see if you follow Daria through the door:

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And the kids all play happily together. I can sit in my chair and listen in, making sure no one accesses the road… Bliss!! This is the “view” from my chair. Darlene and Shane’s house on the left, and Shaun’s on the right:

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