Happy Friday Folks!
We have had some gorgeous days this week! Samuel started walking just in time and has been thrilled to be spending numerous hours outdoors. Over the weekend we visited my friend Leisha and her cute baby boy. Leisha’s other half runs the Mount Scio Farm, a beautiful place right in the heart of the city where Newfoundland’s favourite savoury, among other veggies delights, are grown. There was an air of anticipation as the seedlings were growing in the greenhouses and the huge fields lay bare, waiting to be planted. The several beehives that populate the farm fascinated Samuel while I was envisioning family swims in the river that divides the property.
On a much smaller scale, most of our household gardening efforts are starting to show some results. Nasturtiums, cabbages, basil, fennel, and tomatillos seedlings have emerged from the soil. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the dill and sweet peas. I should have done a seed germination test but it was hard enough to find time to start the seeds this year. I just added a few more seeds to the pots and I am hopping for a glimpse of green in the next week.
Have a wonderful weekend! Make it count.
If you follow my Facebook Page you have already seen the launch of my new project: SeaBerry Studios. The SeaBerry Team (my friend Elisabeth and I) will be offering workshops on the art of creating superior all-natural skincare products.
For a few years I have been toying with the idea of teaching the tricks of the trade. My skincare-making path started by researching and making products for family, friends, and myself, after learning about the many suspicious and unnecessary ingredients our cosmetics carry. It was difficult to come across a 100% natural line in St. John’s and the so-called “green” brands were quite expensive. Once I gained experience and confidence, I launched Olivia Canela. More than selling moisturizers and balms, I wanted to show that it is possible to have good quality, all-natural skincare that is affordable. Olivia Canela is more than a cosmetic line. Olivia Canela is my approach to an earthier and more conscience lifestyle. Sharing that through this blog is an important step to stay motivated, and hopefully motivate others.
In January, Elisabeth came to my house to teach me soapmaking. We quickly realised that we would both love to teach how to make skincare products. By combining our expertise we could offer first-rate workshops. From then on, we have been meeting regularly to work on themes, ingredients, formulations, and a name for our new project. SeaBerry depicts the ocean that surrounds our island and the abundant berries that populate its soil. Water and Earth – Newfoundland and Labrador style. When we enlisted Justin Stacey to do our logo, we also found out that sea berry is another name for sea buckthorn, a highly prized berry in the cosmetic industry for its high levels of vitamins C, E, unsaturated fatty acids, and essential amino acids. The logo had to pay homage to such valuable berry.
On Sunday, we had our first photo shoot with Malin Enstrom, brilliant photographer and certified aromatherapist. The photos will be used on the website and in the manuals that will be given out at each workshop. We had so much fun! Malin’s passion for photography and her aromatherapy knowledge were palpable. I can’t wait to share these photos with you!
Our first workshop will be mid-June in downtown St. John’s. All the details will be posted on our SeaBerry Studios Page in the next few weeks. Maybe I will see and meet some of you then.
April 25th is a date known in Portugal as Freedom Day. In 1974, military forces successfully overthrew Portugal’s dictatorial regime – the longest in Europe – in a relatively peaceful way (4-6 dead, no injuries). In fact, the day is also named Carnation Revolution. In downtown Lisbon, people left their houses to celebrate the end of the dictatorship, and carnations were put into the muzzles of rifles and on the uniforms of the army. I always found it strange that in Canada carnations are a popular ornamental flower. Carnations are now seldom seen in Portugal except when rebellion and uprising are implied. My sister was born on an April 25th and giving her a bouquet of carnations always seemed to fit her brainy and feisty nature.
Continuing on the flora theme, a few seeds have finally seen their way into pots during the weekend. Hot pepper, fennel, ground cherries, tomatillos, red cabbage, and broccoli were a few of the varieties. I have always used toilet paper rolls to start seeds but cutting and folding strips in the bottom each of them was a long process. Also, after a few weeks I would have to re-pot the seedlings and although the rolls are biodegradable I still felt the need to remove the seedling out off the thicker rolls.
This year I am trying a few different things including the regular plastic cells that came with some seedlings I bought 2 years ago, a greenhouse kit with biodegradable coconut coir pots that a friend gave me when she moved out of the province, and 1L yogurt containers. For the yogurt containers I drilled a few holes in the bottom for drainage and seeded each one with 3 to 4 seeds. I am hoping that that I will not have to re-pot the seedlings until they are ready to be planted outside in our still-to-be-built raised beds.
I also brought home a few tomato, parsley and basil seedlings that a generous soul was offering on Freecycle. The little plants and plants-to-be are now happily settled on our homemade seed-growing station and that makes me a very happy gardener.
Happy Friday Folks!
Last week was a particularly busy time. While Chris was rehearsing and playing at the show Chicago, I was getting ready for FEASt FEST and the Some Good Market. All the events went really well. Over 120 people came to FEASt FEST to learn more about how to grow vegetables in this beautiful city of ours. The food, inspired by the theme seeds was scrumptious and included various dips, salads, soups, and desserts such as a hemp-raisin dip, paprika-moose soup and chickpea-chocolate chip cookies. If you weren’t there you missed out on a great event but luckily photos and videos of the presentations are online and FEASt is planning to post the recipes on their site for all to enjoy.
We also started curing pork belly for another round of homemade bacon. The excess fat was trimmed and used to help make ginger-garlic breakfast sausages. On Sunday, once the franticness of the week subsided, we rewarded ourselves with a grand breakfast of homemade sausages and local eggs. Samuel was very happy; his typical temperament when delicious food is put in front of him. The bacon finished curing and was smoked this week. We never smoked bacon before so I am curious to try it out sometime over the weekend.
Starting seeds is the next thing in my agenda. With less than 6 weeks until the last frost date, I am ashamed to admit that tomatoes, hot peppers, and leeks have not been planted yet. I am not even sure if it is worth it at this point or if I should save the seeds for next year. Trying to stay positive and visualize a green and prolific yard with my little one running around.
Have a wonderful weekend! Make it count.
Saturday will be the 2013 market debut of Olivia Canela. Some Good Market is coming to town and we will be there with our all-natural skin care line among other gifted artisans. As I wrote last year, the first market is always the most exciting one. The house has seen a whirling of activity in the past couple of weeks. Essential oils, butters and carrier oils have been arriving from the mainland. Labels and business cards have been printed, and blue jars everywhere! If you have the time, visit the Canonwood Hall (8 Military Road) between 10am and 4pm to meet and support some of NL’s local businesses.
Soap-maker guru extraordinaire Eli will be in charge of Olivia Canela’s table through the day. Don’t be shy to stop by to say hello or ask questions. Eli loves to talk about natural skin care and her knowledge is quite extraordinary.
So, where will I be? At the City Hall (Foran Room), just a mere 10-15 minute walk away. I will be with my fellow FEASters setting-up and hosting the 5th Annual FEASt FEST. Starting at 11pm, there will be workshops, information booths, and children’s activities, all related to seeds. Not to mention a sumptuous free meal put together by our very own food writer Andreae Callanan.
This is shaping up to be the ideal spring weekend. I just hope the weather cooperates.
If you are part of my garden nerd circle you know that Gayla Trail is one of my urban-agriculture heroes. That woman can grow magnificent flora in the smallest of spaces. Her first book You Grow Girl was one of the first books I bought when I embarked in this veggie growing journey (plus Grow Food Not Lawns by Heather C. Flores). Last week Gayla unveiled the Grow Write Guild a brilliant idea that I am excited to be participating in. Every couple of weeks Gayla posts writing cues and invites her readers to write and share a story around those cues. The first cue is My First Plant.
The first recollection that I have of something that resembles planting is putting alfalfa seeds and dried chickpeas in moist cotton swaps. My sister and I would be ecstatic when the first leaves appeared and we repeated this experience several times during our childhood. I do not recall our spirits once the seedlings died – oh, the fortunate short attention span of those early years!
Mixed feelings arise because, although not my First Plant, I would like to share my pièce de résistance in this planting universe: my avocado plant. Inspired by a beautiful avocado plant at a friend’s house, a few of my friends and I decided, 4 years ago, to do an exotic plant growing competition. The avocado was our first target. Would we be able to grow a healthy plant from a grocery store avocado? I read a few tips online before embarking in this adventure. I picked 2 avocados, removed, cleaned, and pierced the pit with 4 toothpicks, placed it half submerged in a glass with water, and let time do its magic.
In hot and sunny places a full plant maybe appears in than less than a year but in grey and chilly St. John’s growing an avocado plant was a painfully long affair. It took months until the pits cracked and a small taproot appeared. By then, one of the pits grew moldy, black and was added to our compost. Most of my friends saw their pits meet the same fate. Another 2 or 3 months and a stalk emerged. It took over a year until the plant was finally put in soil and last week she was re-potted for the first time (although this was long overdue).
This plant and her ability to persevere in such unlikely conditions give us great pleasure. Chris has taken her to his students and I have included her at a FEASt Fest presentation entitled Gardening Adventures in 2010. We might never have fresh avocados – after all we are in Newfoundland and Labrador and it was a grocery store avocado – but she’s still a helpful addition to the household! When her leaves start to droop, she’s telling us that the houseplants need to be watered. This is indeed a very important purpose.
Happy April Fools Folks!
I knew that inevitably, I would have to travel and leave my baby boy at home. Last week, I left Samuel for the first time while staying 2 nights in Nova Scotia for work. That morning it was sad to say goodbye to my little buddy. Spending 4 extra hours in the airport due to weather delays did not improve my mood. I tried to keep myself occupied and not think of being with Samuel during that time. The thought of sleeping past 7 am for the next couple of days helped as well.
I was very grateful for the friends that crossed my path during my Maritimes visit. Pia, Alex, and their beautiful family provided me with an evening filled with food, wine and music. On the last day, I ran into my talented friend Jacob at the airport. I hadn’t seen him in over a year but his artwork appears on every floor of our home. The world seems so small when these encounters happen!
Have a wonderful week! Make it count.
I write this post from St. John’s airport where I am waiting for my plane to arrive. It was a messy morning here in town after a few spring-like days and most planes where unable to land. Waiting for a flight is tedious but I have a tasty topic to write about this week that hopefully will keep my mind occupied.
I have a couple of friends that have vegan blogs. Jenn just started The Bay Vegetarian
, a blog that features simple but delicious vegan recipes with ingredients that can be found in rural Newfoundland. This is will certainly be a great resource for people starting a vegetarian or vegan diet and for vegans that live in regions where a block of tofu is a commodity hard to find. Then there is the newly revamped Plant Devotion
by Ally. Ally is a yogi and long time vegan whose inspiring life journey I have been following since she left Newfoundland a few years ago to travel to India. On her site one can find recipes, methods of cooking, and information about Ayurveda and plant-based nutrition.
I love recipe sites so when Jenn and Ally started posting delicious dishes online, I picked one recipe of each to make last week. From The Bay Vegetarian
I made the Spinach and Lentil “soup”
with swiss chard instead of spinach and in a bed of millet instead of rice. It was fast and surprisingly tasty! Kale and Apple Pasta Salad
was the recipe chosen from Plant Devotion
. Chris cooked this time. He used penne instead of fusilli and although he didn’t soak the cashew the result was still a very creamy dressing. The salad was refreshing and perfect for spring. Next time we will put a little less apple cider vinegar but Ally told me the more acidic flavour was likely because we didn’t soak the cashews (noted).
In honour of these 2 vegan blogs I am sharing one of my favourite vegan recipes that coincidentally I had for the first time at Ally’s place. It was a Regatta Day Brunch back in 2007 when I originally had these Pecan & Chocolate Chip Pancakes. I was smitten and with some adaptations it has been part of my breakfast repertoire ever since.
Pecan & Chocolate Chips Pancakes
Makes about 5 small pancakes. We normally double the recipe and snack on them through the day (yum!)
- ¾ c. soymilk (almond and cow’s milk would work as well)
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- pecans & chocolate chips (as much or as little as your heart desires)
- 1 Tbs. coconut oil for frying
Combine flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon in a mixer or with a whisk. On a bowl, mix the vanilla extract with the milk. Pour the milk slowly over the flour mix with the mixer at medium speed. When everything is well combine join the banana, the pecans and the chocolate chips.
Place about ½ Tbs. coconut oil in a frying pan. When the oil has melted drop about half a cup of batter. If you would like to add blueberries this is the time (just a few on top of each pancake). This is a thick and hearty batter so it takes a bit longer to cook. Wait 3-4 minutes before turning each pancake and add more coconut oil in between if necessary. They should have a golden/brown colour when ready.
P.S. – writing a food post while in an airport where food options are scarce might not have been my best idea. Should have brought a slice of the Ches’s lemon meringue that’s in the fridge.
Happy Vernal Equinox and Happy FIRST International Day of Happiness! In Newfoundland it means a few more months of rain, drizzle and fog (the infamous RDF) but the sun lingers longer these days and for those into gardening, seed starting might be already underway. That makes us happier!
In the past couple of weeks my tired body has been on overdrive trying to fight my first cold in over a year. Between the sore throat, dripping nose, and cough, I received a gift of seeds from Cubit’s that warmed my achy heart.
I first heard of Cubit’s in October when they announced the Crowdfunding Farmraiser to raise funds to assist in the development of 14 acres of Ontario farmland. Their story attracted me from the start: young family, land, organic farming! A part of me was eager to be in their shoes, or should I say “rubber boots”. I have been following their adventures through their blog and twitter ever since. I guess Laura was following me back because a few weeks ago she asked me if I would like to host a giveaway on my blog. I didn’t hesitate. Help promoting a sustainable family business that offers organic, rare and heirloom seeds it’s right up my alley! Plus, as a member of FEASt I am a strong supporter of urban agriculture and growing your own food.
I chose and received 6 varieties. Some are easy to grow while others are a bit more challenging. Hopefully it will excite newer and more seasoned gardeners.
- On the comment section of this post write what you are most looking forward to plant this season. Perhaps, a new variety?
- The contest runs until Saturday, March 23rd, 11:59pm (NST) and a random winner will be chosen from the comments below;
- The winner will be notified via email. If there is no reply within 24h a new winner will be drawn;
- Laura from Cubit’s will mail the seeds to the lucky winner;
- Only open to Canadian residents.
NOTE: This giveaway is closed and our winner is the comment #2. Congrats Katie!
Happy Monday Folks!
After years of filing forms, taking photocopies, requesting documents, visiting the doctors office, taking photographs, and going to the post office, I finally have Canadian citizenship! A crisp sunny afternoon welcomed not only me but also my friends Pepa and Malin, and another 58 cheerful individuals into the bosom of this country. I am now Luso-Canadiana and you know what that means? I can VOTE! Municipal elections are in September then Provincial and Federal. Oh my, I can’t wait to use that ballot!
Fish & chips and local brew at The Duke of Duckworth enthusiastically came after the lovely but lengthy swear-in ceremony. Samuel was very comfortable with his first pub outing. The next day I was surprised at work with custom made cupcakes brought by my wee cousins and a very thoughtful cake from my co-workers. It was a sugar-fuelled afternoon, let me tell you!
Several family birthdays happened in the past week. For one of them poor Samuel could not really stay awake. Too much excitement at the first Parents and Tot yoga class plus daylight savings had its toll. The other birthday was Chris’s. Last year I baked a delicious flourless clementine cake. This time the thought of baking did not even crossed my mind (shame on me!) but he ended up blowing out candles 3 times, in a hot cross bun (I’m hooked), in a take-out tiramisu from Piatto, and in a chocolate cake at his mom’s. Not too shabby, hey?
Have a wonderful week! Make it count.