Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Concert on the Beach

Last night we drove down to Osoyoos to go see a reggae band from Grande Prairie, Alberta: Tasman Jude. It was a bit of a trek to get there and it was sweltering hot when we arrived. The nice thing about the concert is that it was right on the beach so my children were able to cool down in the tepid waters of Osoyoos lake while we waited for the show to start. While we were waiting I stepped on a sharp torn that became firmly embedded in my foot - ouch! Thankfully my friend was able to dig it out with a pin from her sewing kit. The band, Tasman Jude, was great and we all enjoyed a little dancing to their happy beats before making our way back home for some much needed sleep.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Best Strawberry Ice Cream

"Maman, I love you and you make the best ice cream ever!" said my daughter, as we sat outside enjoying our delicious home made strawberry ice cream. Seeing my three children swinging in our hammock while carefully licking their cones was such a delight that I wanted time to stand still. But ice cream on a hot day does not wait to be eaten and already little drips of cream were running down mouths, fingers and onto little toes. Zak waited patiently for permission to lick up those delectable drips that slowly found their way to the ground. While we ate our ice cream we all agreed that this was a great ice cream, one definitely worth making again and sharing with others. So without further ado, I share with you the best strawberry ice cream. I hope that it brings as many smiles to your home as it does to ours.

The Best Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes about 1.5 Liters
Adapted from the Vanilla Ice Cream recipe in the The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 large egg yolks

In a small bowl combine the chopped strawberries, the tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of sugar. Mix together, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. The sugar will draw out the juice from the strawberries making them sweet, soft and juicy. This process is called maceration.

After waiting at least an hour for the strawberries to macerate, take out a medium saucepan and into it place the whole milk, the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup of the heavy cream, salt and vanilla bean. Warm the mixture over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover it and let the vanilla bean steep for about 30 minutes.

While the vanilla beans steeps, take out a medium bowl add the remaining 1 cup of cream and place a fine mesh strainer next to it.

In another medium bowl whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks while constantly whisking. This slow addition of warm liquid to an egg mixture is called tempering.

Return the warm egg milk mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spatula, or it reaches 77°C (170.6°F). If the mixture overcooks the eggs with cook and get lumpy, so stir, stir and stir some more! Once the custard thickens, or reaches 77°C, quickly remove the saucepan from the stove top and pour through the fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the cream.

Cover and place mixture the into the refrigerator until it is completely cooled. I usually leave it overnight. Once the custard is cooled place it into your ice cream machine as per the manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream is churning place a container in the freezer to pre-chill it. Scoop the finished ice cream into the pre-chilled container and let the ice cream harden in the freezer until it reaches the desired consistency. Keep in mind that home made ice cream is best eaten within a few days which is never an issue around here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day!

We enjoyed Canada days festivities at our small town beach this afternoon. There was music, cupcakes, crafts, bubbles and plenty of sand and water. It was the perfect little celebration. Wishing everyone a wonderful Canada day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What I'm Reading in June

Books I recently finished 

All the Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 

Set in WWII, this is a story about a young blind French girl and a German boy who develops a talent for building and fixing radios. Their stories are told in parallel moving forward and backward in time until finally their paths collide in Saint-Malo where there are terrifying bombings and fires. A beautifully written book.

Cinder, Scarlet and Cress (Lunar Chronicle Books 1-3) by Marissa Meyer 

Set in the futuristic city of New Beijing, these young adult fiction novels begin by following Cinder, a cyborg and mechanic who despises being treated with disdain and contempt by almost everyone, especially her unfeeling stepmother. Each of the Lunar Chronicle Books loosely follows well known fairy tales: Cinder, the story of Cinderella, Scarlet, the story of the Little Red Riding Hood and Cress, the story of Goldilocks, while simultaneous incorporating elements of science-fiction and fantasy. These books are highly addictive. Two new installments are being added to the Lunar Chronicle book series this year: Fairest released in January 2015 and the conclusion to the series Winter which is being released November 2015.

Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate M.D. 

Canadian doctors Neufeld and Mate present a compelling argument that the many struggles and problems children face, from disciplinary issues, bullying, suicide, to over-sexulization, stem from a disordered attachment to peers and broken connection to parents. Neufeld and Mate emphasize the importance of healthy parent-child relationship and challenge the effectiveness of many accepted forms of discipline. A well-written book, one that encourages a great deal of self-reflection.

Books I am currently reading 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed 

Lost, broken and on a path of self-destruction after the death of her mother, Cheryl decides to re-discover herself but embarking on an epic journey. Without any training she sets out to hike the Pacific Coast Trail on her own. I have read about one-third of this book and I am having mixed feeling about it. While the book is captivating and well written, Strayed's brutal honesty feels very self-absorbed at times and some of her decisions leave me cringing inside. I don't think this is a book just anyone would enjoy.

Books I am planning to read 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Turning 100 is a perfect time to start over, right? Apparently Allan Karlson thinks so. This book has been on my list of books to read for a while now and I am hoping to start it soon.

Happiness for Beginners by Katerine Centre 

Another story about exploring the outdoors as a means of self-reflection. I am wondering how this book will compare to Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir 

Apparently a good book for those that enjoyed the Lunar Chronicle book series by Marissa Meyer. An Ember in Ashes is set in a Romanesque world with elements of fantasy. It is being described as an intense story about oppression, rebellion, secrets and the supernatural.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pharmasave Okanagan Falls Junior Triathlon

This morning my three children, aged seven, five and three, completed their first ever triathlon and it was such a great experience for all! 

Yesterday we dropped off their bikes and picked up their race packages which had a shirt, swim cap, race bib, pencil and a sticker. My children had their arms and legs marked with a race number, which made the event feel quite official. The morning of the race each age division had a different start times and there were multiple waves in each division. It was a great turnout! At the end each participant received a completion metal, a container of chocolate milk and a cookie. The Pharmasave Okanagan Falls Junior Triathlon is a such a fun event for children aged three to thirteen and the great thing about it is that it is FREE! Thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors that make this such a great event, we are already looking forward to participating next year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Garden Journal (yr 3: vol 6)

After being away from my garden for almost three weeks I was starting to feel a little nervous. A lot can happen to plants in three weeks and I was not sure what I would find on my return. When we did eventually return home early last week the very first thing I did was check on the garden. As I trudged through the knee high grass in my backyard and set my eyes on the jungle that was now my garden I felt both relieved and overwhelmed. While we were gone it rained and then got extremely hot so most plants were in desperate need of staking and thinning. I spent the next several days untangling and pruning tomatoes, pulling weeds and plants that had bolted. There is still plenty of work to do, but that is part of the joy of gardening.

Right now the grapes, raspberries, peas, lettuce, carrots, beets, kale, basil, peppers and tomatoes are growing wonderfully. I am just beginning to harvest raspberries and there are a few pepper and tomato fruit beginning to grow. My bush beans are infested with black aphids and I have been trying to get rid of them with insecticidal soap with some success. I also planted some corn, bush bean and squash seeds in our corner garden bed. They have not sprouted yet but I have the garden bed protected by a hoop house to dissuade those pesky quail from wreaking havoc with their dirt baths and incessant snacking.

Happy gardening everyone!

Four weeks ago: Garden Journal (yr 3: vol 5)
One year ago: Garden Journal (yr 2: vol 6)
Two years ago: Garden Journal (vol 6)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Peterson Creek Nature Park

On our way back from Prince George we stayed a couple days in Kamloops. On our last visit to Kamloops we explored Kenna Cartwright Park. I would have liked to explore that park a little more but felt that my children would enjoy something different. After a little research I discovered the Peterson Creek Nature Park. This park is open year round, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, and encompasses one-hundred and twenty-four hectares of land. Throughout the park there is a large network of well marked trails for hikers and cyclists to enjoy. 

There are nine entrances to the park. We started our adventure at the most north entrance, the Tom Moore Main Entrance. This entrance is tucked behind the Kamloops courthouse on Glenfair drive. The beginning of the Bridge Trail is wide, flat, gravely with a slight incline. I almost regretted putting Keen sandals on my children at this point because they kept on getting rock stuck in their sandals. However, as the trail passed under the bridge and towards a more forested area the trail began to narrow and became hard-packed dirt. We passed a couple wood bridges that crossed over the creek and explored parts of the Creekside trail.

We continued to follow the Tom Moore trail until we came upon a rather menacing sign warning us not to proceed any further. Going past the sign would take us to Bridal Falls but I was unsure about the severity of the rock slide so I decided to backtrack and follow a trail up the right side of the valley. With the heat steadily increasing I knew that this trail would not be a good idea for my children, it was too exposed, so we came back down and tried the left side of the valley with no better result. Then we found ourselves staring at the warning sign once again and decided to see what it was like on the other side.

The trail narrowed and then there was no trail. My three children and I clambered over rocks and carefully treaded over a large slide of sharp rocks. This was no easy feat and I can say with confidence that my eldest son was the main reason we were able to make the trek in. He helped me maneuver the younger two up rocks and through the rock slide. As we turned the corner there we saw Bridal Falls. My children were ecstatic and so was I. We had a snack on a large rock near the falls then carefully made our way back. As we stopped by the creek we heard in the background rocks crashing down behind us. The warning sign should be heeded! I was grateful nothing fell on us.

There is something special about adventures as a family. When we started the hike my children were full of complaints. Yet on the way back they were pumped that we had this adventure together and so excited by the risks we had to take to see the waterfall.