Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bran Muffins Aplenty

I have an old cookbook... you know the kind.  The one where you write your favorite tried and true recipes in it.  I received my book as a gift about 25 years ago.  When I received it, I made a pact with myself that I would only write in the recipes that I know are good and useful recipes... ones that were family favourites.
All in all, I did just as I planned and only took the time to hand write those recipes that were worth it.  As I go back though the recipe book now, some recipes bring back memories of family meals, parties with friends, pickling weekends and there are even smatterings of other peoples handwriting in there.

Now, in the high tech world I live in, I have converted to a electronic recipe book called "Paprika" which is an app that you can have on all your devices (iPhone, iPad and computer).  I have all three apps, and they are linked so that when I take the time to type or copy a recipe into the program on my computer, it is now on my phone (for sharing with friends, or grocery shopping) and on my iPad for using in the kitchen as a recipe book.

That being said, I look back on my handwritten cookbook and marvel at the historic value in that book.  Jack and I make our muffins from that old handwritten cookbook.  He reminds me every time to get the book and he turns the pages until he finds a "MESSY" page and then he knows he has found either the muffin page or some other "favorite" page.  That is something you won't find when you use an electronic cookbook... the faded marks of vanilla, sticky edges of sugar or egg splatters.   My banana muffin recipe is particularly identifiable by the tear in the page where a blob of batter dried on the page and stuff to the next page for a few weeks.  It had to be torn open.. leaving a small hole in the page, which Jack uses to narrow his search for the RIGHT muffin recipe. I would like to add that the pie crust recipe page in my book is pristine clean. (I hate making pie crust).

Well, that was long winded to tell you that in my peruse though that old book.. I found an old favorite I haven't made in years.  It was given to me by an old friend, Dianna.  We both made this recipe for our families and we also shared muffins with those around the neighbourhood or office.   This is a recipe that you make in a very large bowl (sometimes its an issue to find a bowl large enough), you let it age in the fridge for 3 days and then... you can bake fresh muffins ... a few at a time.  It makes around 40 large muffins.
Last week I made 6-8 muffins every morning before I came to work.  One day I added Chocolate Chips, another day it was raisins, and I have also add Blueberries in the past.. and fresh Cranberries ina batch I made before Christmas.  You can't imagine how awesome they are with dark chocolate chips AND fresh cranberries!

If you pull out 2 cups of batter... add your goodies... and scoop using a 1/3 to 1/2 cup scoop.. you will get 6 to 8 large muffins.

Bran Muffins
2 cups natural bran
I apologize for my poor photography. 
2 cups hot water
pour hot water over natural bran in a VERY large bowl.  In another bowl, cream together
1.5 cups of sugar
1 cup shortening
then add to the creamed mixture
5 beaten eggs
-then, pour this mixture in with the natural bran mixture and then add:
5 cups flour
3 tablespoons baking soda 
1.5 tsp salt
4 cups of bran flakes
1 litre of buttermilk 

**let this mixture age for three (yup 3) days in the fridge.

Bake at 375 for almost 25 minutes (depending on how big a muffin you make)

I think this batter will last as long as your buttermilk is dated, so buy the freshest buttermilk you can.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I love Saturdays... have I mentioned this before!

Our river is stunning in the winter.  Terry and I sneaked a little winter walk in to our Saturday morning before all the housework, grocery shopping, family visiting and church craft creating took over.

Of course only one of us has snowshoes.  Terry doesn't seem to want any, even though he use to love snowshoeing.  I think it won't take too many of snowy walks for him to change his mind. 

 When you take the "secret" path through the woods, you end up in a big field.  Well it use to be a secret but someone has built a wide bridge over the little creek that you used to have to leap over, or tiptoe over a big log.  I love the new bridge... so much easier to snowshoe across.

 You have no idea how many tries we had to do to get ONE picture of the both of us with the white snowy backdrop!  It was like walking through a black and white photo!
 Heading back to river after a long trek through the woods.
The beauty just never stopped.  I didn't want the walk to end.  The snow covered rock in the picture above is what we call "Jack's" Rock.  We have lots of pictures of him on or around this rock and it never really had a name for the first 25 years we have walked by it... but now... its Jacks Rock to us.
Sept 2014 walk through the woods with Papa!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Change Is As Good As A Rest..... or so they say

Well, it happened.... they have been telling us it would happen... and it really did.  They renovated our school office over the 7 working days between Christmas and New Years, and WOW... what a change.    For many reasons, our office needed some upgrading.  Better doors, better flow... some security additions for when we need "added" security.   

 It began in the spring when we, as a team decided the flow in the office was not working.  The doorway was congested and things were to high for some kids, and visibility for doorways was to restricted.  Blueprints were made (on graft paper), changed, added to, changed again, and things added (that we didn't want), and things taken away. Time lines were discussed, and plans were drawn up.  Last day of working before summer break was spent packing, culling, dusting and organizing until the office was ready for "Reno's".  
 You know, when you haven't moved in ages.. you just gather a lot of junk.. and our office is the dumping ground for a lot of things.  You can see in the above pictures... we have a lot of stuff.. and the green tape on the floor represented some renovation notes... measurements and markers.

 By the end of the day on that last day... everything was in boxes, and we said a final good bye to our blue counter and the old messy office.

 Well, all summer... I stopped in the office.... nothing was started... every week.. wondering.. worrying.. wishing it was done and over.   And then... we got the word... it just wasn't going to get done.  So many other things needed to get done across the board.. and so few workers and so little time... we just didn't make the cut.  Secretly.. I was so relieved.  There is just so much to do in August and September.. and to have a new office to content with was stressing me all summer.  So... the promise was it would get done over the Christmas Break... to which we all gave a knowing (not likely) nod! 

packing boxes on the last day of school before Xmas Break.
Then... beginning of December we had a visit from the Gods of Construction.. and they had pens and paper, and measuring tapes and paint chips.. and questions.. and promises.   It looked promising but the undertaking seemed daunting... two new doorways, taking out windows and doorways, flooring, new counters, new paint.. new cameras and buzzers... moving PA, moving phone lines, and printers and computers.. in 7 working days.
So we packed our boxes once again, and stacked them in the middle of the office and said good bye once again to our dingy cluttered office with its yellow walls and blue counter.

Well, on Monday of the Christmas Break I stopped by for a little peak.. to see if I should get my hopes up or not... and What do to wondering eyes should appear... but busted out windows.. and door frames and smashed out counters.. and bricks flying every which way!

The set of windows as you walk in, and the door way with old blue paint!

The counter with the step up.. hiding 20 year old wallpaper!
The first new door which is between the two sets of doors coming in the building.
So you can compare, see what the old office looked like below.
What the office windows looked like before.

The second door is taking shape with a peep window too

The old doorway will be no longer

The door way is coming out

Its taking shape.... this is where the old door way and is no longer.

 Just seven long days for the construction crew and another whole day by the office girls, we have a clean and inviting office. 
 We have two doorways, one for entering and one for exiting.  We have a beautiful tall counter with plenty of room for parents and children. 
 My phone does not do justice to the colors, so please do not judge.  The colors are warm and inviting and look awesome with our wooden furniture.
 There are about 15 little things that need to get done, like phone wires, and printer stuff, and things hung all the wall.  We have floor tiles that need to be replaced and baskets purchased and signs made.
 But it feels like home already and we can't wait to have all the little "post" renovation ends done so we can relax and start enjoying the upgrades!  This was after Day 1 open for business.  I didn't take "unpacking" pictures.  It was too awful!
We have to put things on the wall, and a charging station is being created for the walkies... bulletin board hung.. you know.. just lots of little things to do.. but I couldn't wait to show all of you.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Winter has arrived

Christmas is such a busy time, and even though I have two whole weeks off during the Christmas season, I rarely see friends or do any of the "normal" routine of stuff that is sometimes rather mundane, but somehow comforting at the same time.
Christmas is also the time when my friends are as busy as I am, attending to family and Christmas traditions, stealing moments between all the seasonal flurry to relax in quiet and ponder the next thing they need to do. 

The arrival of our first real snow happened on the first day of 2015 and with it brought the realities of winter.  The Christmas season is now done, and its time to put away the decorations leaving the house to look fresh and new. Time to empty the fridge of the seasonal foods and make room for healthier choices that seems to be on every one's "New Years Wish List". 
Time to get outside and brave the cold and wind, and toughen up our "indoor" skin.  Today was a briskly cold but sunny day.  It was a perfect day to try out my new snowshoes.  
Debbie and I (with very little planning, which seems the only way to get stuff done when it comes to busy people) hopped in the car, and drove to the Golf Course and started an hour long walk across open fairways and in under the cover of big trees.   The wind was howling but I barely felt the wind... it just felt so good to be out in the sun, enjoying catching up with a great friend and feeling pride in owning a modern and sleek pair of snow shoes.
I have wanted a pair of snowshoes for a while, but felt I didn't really need to spend the money on something I wouldn't use very often.
But last winter, I decide to challenge myself to change a few bad habits... and I paid myself each day that I successful!  It took me 6 weeks to earn $100 from this challenge, and I couldn't think of a better reward than a beautiful and slick pair of snowshoes.
Of course, the ones I wanted were not available (by February, there weren't many good pairs of snowshoes on the market).. so I held onto my $100 and waited.  Surprisingly, Costco had the ones I wanted when I visited in AUGUST!  They are perfect and I will use them often since my two greatest friends have each a pair as well! 

Look out snowy world....

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Years 2015

 I never baked with either of my Grandmothers.  I don't really remember baking or cooking with my mom until I was a teenager.  I am not sure where I got the thought that grandmothers are suppose to bake with their grandkids.  It could be the inspiration of my sister who bakes all the time with her 6 grand children.  No matter where it came from.. I love baking with Jack.
For Christmas this year, Stephanie bought Jack an Easy Bake Oven (a very modern version, mind you) and I bought him a Sesame Street cook book, filled with fun and easy cookies and muffins to make.
Jack's love for books opened the way to us sitting and looking at every page and every picture on Christmas day and that opened the door to making a bake date to start our cookie baking plan.

Jacks job .. placing them on the sheet

Now, I thought we were making cookie snakes when we started the day, but when I opened the recipe book to the right page, I was quickly corrected and directed to the cookie catepillar page.   We had to make a chocolate cookie dough, refrigerate it overnight (very cruel to a kid)  and then cut a million little chocolate circles.

Jack taste testing every type of sprinkle

 It called for Nutella for the filling, and since we didn't have any of that, we make a chocolate chip and peanut butter melted spread to stick all the little circles together.   Some eyeballs, some dinosaur feet sprinkles and other odd sprinkle decorations and the cookies were complete.
They didn't look much like the book, but good enough for our crowd.
The last little bit of dough was too small to make anything, so I made a larger cookie in the shape of a heart.  Jack decided that this cookie would be for Papa.
When it was baked, we added chocolate spread to the top and then dumped sprinkle balls on the top of it.
After lunch, when it was time to eat the cookies, which one do you think Jack chose to eat..
Yup, Papa's heart cookie... with all the sprinkles

Missing from the plate above is the Heart cookie... we only thought to take a picture of these gems after we had eaten some!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lets Do It!

Friends… Goals….Rewards

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Ups and Downs of camping!

This summer has been filled with summer time activities for me. Some that I haven't done in awhile.  One of which is to pack up the car with kayaks and tent... and go on an outdoor adventure.  We hadn't planned on going camping actually but Terry had a couple of days to burn up on vacation stuff so we made some plans to stay fairly close (within an hour from home) but to explore a part of Nova Scotia that we barely know.
So off we headed for Smiley's Campground in Brooklyn.  What a beautiful spot we found. Quiet, peaceful with large camp sites and clean bathrooms.  Always a bonus when camping.
Our site was a little tucked in site that protected us from the sun and heat (and rain).    We set up our campsite and then hit the road to explore the area and look for somewhere to put the kayaks in.

We found a cool paddling site in  St. Croix. Not by chance, though, as Terry pours over maps and websites looking for locations.  He remembered something about a NS Power Dam project he read about, so off we go.. up hills, over dirt roads, on windy paths way up in the deep of the forest.  I was a little nervous but when we finally got to the top of the dirt road, we came upon a beautiful man made HUGE lake, perfect for paddling.

The lake is over 30 km long and was made over 60 years ago using two dams.  It was a beautiful calm paddle and we discovered a little waterfall, a few beautiful cottages and some very cool deadwood trees.  Can you believe that this huge lake empties at the bottom of the hill into this quaint and bubbly river at St. Croix. (pictured below)  We only paddled for two hours but we do plan on making a longer day of it, with some friends and a picnic lunch.  There were lots of places to pull ashore.

We spent 4 days at Smileys and shared our campsite with Kim, Caleigh and Bella for a couple of those nights.  We had the most terrifying rain/wind storm I have ever experienced in a tent on the third night there... and I don't want to have that experience again.  We were tucked safely in the woods but it didn't help any in the middle of the night when all we could hear was the deafening sounds of rain and wind against the tent!

Jack and Michelle came to visit one afternoon and we had a great time taking him to the little river just down from our tent. We enjoyed the cool water and the flat smooth round rocks too. Great for throwing and even painting. 
Saturday morning, Jack and his mom and dad arrived just on time for a late morning camp breakfast.  We were all so tired from lying awake most of the night in the rain/wind storm that we took our time getting up that morning.  It was great to spend the morning with them.

Our last night at the campground was quiet, relaxing and just perfect.  We spent the evening playing "hangman" on the iPad while gazing into the fire.  The downfall of camping in the "rurals" of Nova Scotia is the lack of cell coverage, and no ability to charge ones' technology!  I must say, I felt very disconnected from the world, and at times lost when I needed to know how to do something (no YouTube and no Google).  What have I become!  

The "UP" of camping, I must say, I loved being out in nature, enjoying the trees, the sounds, the water.  The DOWNS of camping .....I didn't enjoy the "No See Ums"... which ate my legs to bits and resulted in many large red welts which I am now treating with cortisone.  I have learned, though,  that Deep Woods Off is my new favourite cologne!