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The Best Day EVER

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My dear sweet little Janelle yesterday sat and ate her “summer pudding” bedtime snack (will share recipe tomorrow!) and said “This was the best day EVER!” in such sincerity. Beautiful.

We started with a waffle breakfast:

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Met Kurt’s Dad on the government wharf right here in Cowichan Bay:

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And then spent the morning sailing aboard the most beautiful sailboat that took Kurt’s aunt’s Dad John 14 years to build. In this boat Kurt’s parents left Ladner in 2004 and sailed 40 days on the open ocean to the south pacific!! This was right after Kurt and I met, and I remember distinctly thinking “if this guy loses both his parents this year…”. Alas John is an amazing sailor and brought them safely home.

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As you can see Kurt wasn’t excited to be on board at all. Here we are picnicking in Genoa Bay – Sunday FUN DAY!

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Here are the 3 seasoned sailors: John, Dale, and Dianne, who spent 40 days together on the open ocean… can you believe it!?!?!?

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“The best thing I ever tasted!”

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This is the raspberry patch in our yard. Not much yield this year. The wild blackberries are starting though, so we went picking this morning (roadside). And then hit the Saturday downtown Duncan market. For the first time today I felt I was in a flow with the vendors – we found some great munching carrots, tasty raspberries for only $30 a flat, gluten free blackberry tarts for the girls (wow!) and of course more blueberries.

But the highlight food of today was cylindrical beets, which we bought from market, boiled whole, skinned (skin just peels off when cool enough to touch) and chopped.

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Janelle shouted out when she ate the plain beets: “This is the best thing I EVER tasted!” and proceeded to gobble the entire beet. Myself I prefer to chop in some walla walla onion and add a light dressing of about 2 tbsp olive oil, equal apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp organic stoneground mustard, salt, a bit of honey. YUMM!

We love Saturdays. Creativity, fresh air, and time all together. We kept it pretty simple.

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The realities of Pizza Pie Day

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Make-your-own pizza Friday has become something of a tradition in our house. I often think about the little lessons learned amongst the three of them making pizza… Stefan learning the hard lesson not to eat all his dough, Janelle learning to leave enough olives for others, Daria holding back on verbal requests and learning to wait (and watch me as I move busily to and fro!). By the time the pizzas are done I’m exhausted from the voices, stimulation, and negotiation that has stormed through our kitchen. Another storm, which I am too tired to face, is left for Kurt:

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My girls are struggling at the moment – with Janelle almost 4 and having a more clear idea what she wants and how she wants it done, Daria is learning (slowly) that things will not always go her way. We are not using the nicest of voices at times, and we like to repeat to mommy all the sour things that the other has said “Janelle said….” or “Daria said….”. Today I made a rule. We will not repeat sour things – we will tell the other person “we don’t say/do that in our family” and we will move on… I’ll let you know how it goes! In the meantime we will survive the last 1/2 hour before Daddy arrives home… always our hardest of the day.

Earlier we were in bliss, chomping on fresh lettuce brought over from our neighbor’s garden. Amazing! I need to learn to grow like this!

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The pre-dinner hour… not my favorite… anyone have any coping strategies?? (besides stopping my blogging and tuning in!)

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Seasoning on the Coast… and Indulgence Cookies!

One BIG “con”  was always CLIMATE (on our list moving to the Coast). Sure Kurt and I grew up on the Coast, and are “used to” the rain… but, in all seriousness, there is a reason I have chosen to spend the last decade elsewhere! Not having to own rain gear is pretty phenomenal. But bigger than that, I absolutely LOVE the 4 seasons. In Vernon, the fluffy white snow flies perfectly for 3 months. Sure there were days I could have done without it, but overall, I treasured the endless days watching my children romp happily in the snow for hours and coming in… DRY! Not to mention the best cross country ski trails barely 30 min from my door.

One of the fears I face this year is distinguishing between the seasons and preparing to cozy into the “rain” season (as I see it) while my heart lies with the Okanagan winter. The other day my amazing friend Christina sent me this link. So, with her encouragement, I took a stab at creating my own Wheel of the Year:

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It is hanging in my laundry area and I hope it helps me feel grounded in the time of year in my new Coastal climate. I will try not to struggle against the things I cannot change about my new home (survival tips welcome). For now, we are enjoying a summer much like we are accustomed to… days where all you can think of is getting wet!

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And on hot days there is really nothing better than homemade popsicles – we choose from apple juice, chocolate milk, or vanilla yogurt!! Or, if that is not enough, add fresh chocolate chip cookies which I served up at 4pm today, just for FUN! Sometimes I’ve got to break even my own rules… today was one of those days. Forget the rhythm, let it go, and enjoy a few cookies each. And put a pan of flour on the floor for the 1 year old… cuz, WHY NOT!?!?

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The cookies added a finishing touch to our warm bread bellies. Thursdays we always start off with a morning trip to the bakery for warm cinnamon raisin spelt bread and warm spelt buns!! Oooo de la li! We made the buns into pizza buns for lunch. But the photo of those did not compare to the cookies! YUMM!

Chewy, Moist chocolate chip cookies (modified from REBAR to be less sweet & spelt): 1/2c butter, 1c coconut sugar (original is 1.5c brown sugar), 2 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/4c dried apricots, 1c whole spelt and 1c light spelt flour (original 1.5c unbleached flour), 1.5 tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp salt, 1c roasted and chopped walnuts (make sure you cool them too or they melt the chocolate), 1.5 c good quality chocolate chips (yes the original recipe says this! I get mine from Rancho Vignola). Do the usual wet and dry separate, except pulse the apricots in the food processor with the dried apricots to chop ’em easy. Mix wet and dry together, add walnuts and apricots, and chocolate chips. Bake at 350F for 10 min or so… 28 cookies! YUMM!

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Day to Day… Wolf??

It’s really all about the day to day… actions, living, lessons. For example, in our house a routine we have is that the girls excitedly ask their Dad to guess what they are going to wear. Here is how he makes his guess:

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When he was living in Nanaimo, and we in Vernon, he left us with a stack of papers, each with a different pair of colored outfits (so I could continue his legacy). Unfortunately it didn’t go over… there is something about really being there in the moment, and taking a guess AS they are dressing!

Today’s lesson was the “never cry wolf” – the girls’ volumes have been getting up there these days (as a great friend of mine says “we do loud”!). So tonight at dinner both girls excused themselves to use the washroom (this happens a lot, whenever Daria goes, Janelle must follow – the novelty of 2 toilets!). I heard some fussing but thought oh well, one is stealing the other’s toilet paper, or… who knows! I was enjoying my dinner with my husband (and couldn’t really hear over a loud fan he had plugged in). After he tried a few times to go and check it out, he finally insisted (despite my hesitance) to find both girls had locked themselves in the ensuite bathroom and could not get out!

His solution – a butter knife. Mine – coax my oldest through the painful process of learning to turn the knob despite being in tears. And – shazam! They are free. Many, many teary cuddles and shaking like leaves later we had a great discussion and added one more to the list – you can scream if: you lose a leg, or if you lock yourself in a room and cannot get out!

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Just one of many lessons in our “Sharpe Home”. The sign just went up yesterday. Kurt wanted to put it up when we first moved in April 27th, and I just wasn’t ready. Three months later, it’s up!! And so is the lovely painting my coworkers at NONA gave me upon me resigning from the most perfect job ever. Perfect. Thank you!

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Knitting away the Blues

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This is Janelle who just finished her first strand of finger knitting. Almost 4, she has yearned to develop this skill for at least a year. This weekend, her Dad learned himself to do this AND taught her! He is a great Dad. Kurt is still in awe of Daria who can knit quite quickly with needles now, having made 1 doll blanket and 1 side of her first purse, she is working hard on the 2nd side and has knit more, and more smoothly, in the past 2 days than ever! Here they are upon wake up yesterday morning. We are back to waking early (before 7) – perhaps following a yearning to knit!

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I am a beginner knitter myself, and am enjoying the feel of the wool and the ability to create. It is hard for me to sit still and just knit… but it is a learned practice, and is good for my soul. The other soul-nourishing part of my life right now is blueberries!!! This is one food that I find hard to combine with anything else, bake with, blend, or otherwise disrupt its perfection. Don’t they taste perfect just they way they are?

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Let me know how you most enjoy consuming blueberries… by the handful too? I am curious!

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Grandma’s cookies

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These are 3 of my grandma’s 12 great-grandchildren (If I’ve counted right!). My grandma, Edna Altimas, is not quite a centurion, but very close. She is an amazing lady and a great inspiration to me. One of my favorite memories is when I asked her whether she missed Montreal (she moved to Calgary in 1991 after living all her life in Quebec), she said “I left Montreal one day and never thought about it again”. And she was dead serious. How amazing is that???!!!

Well, unfortunately, my grandma is also declining. My mom and dad are visiting her right now, practicing the art of just being. She has moved to a new (higher care) building; up to recently she was very independent. Now she must wait for help to go for a walk, go to the bathroom, and she sleeps a lot more like most of the people in her building. Here she is meeting Stefan last August:

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One of my earliest memories of my grandma is her cookies. She made THE MOST AWESOME chocolate chip, oatmeal, maybe coconut type cookies. I will remember their freshly baked, perfectly sweet taste forever. Sadly, I did not get the recipe before she wrapped up her baking days. My friend Sandy has passed on to me an amazing recipe for oatmeal cookies from her Grandma, and I made them on a whim tonight. They are tasty, not super sweet,… I love them!

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sandy’s grandma’s oatmeal cookies: 1c butter, 1c brown sugar, 2c oats, 2c flour and add 1/4c boiling water mixed with 1 tsp baking soda. bake at 375F for 12 min until golden like so:

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I love the simplicity of this recipe. I think they remind me that there really are few things truly important in this life. Moms and Grandmas are up there!! Hug one if you can, or pass on your Grandma’s amazing cookie recipe! I’d love to try it!

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