Tag Archives: summer

The Last Three Weeks

It has been at least three weeks since I have written here, maybe more.  And as hard as I try to keep this blog an integral part of my weeks and days, sometimes life happens.

And, after all, it is real life that matters, more than the recording of that life on this screen.

The last three weeks have been filled, topped up and overflowing with the goodness of family life.  With sweet reunions, hugs, photos, and just being together, in person, not separated by hundreds of miles and connected only by phone or screen.

There were fish caught, picnics eaten, treasures found, rain ignored, and sun enjoyed.  There was exploring and adventuring and just hanging out at home.  Fresh vegetables laboured over filled hungry and appreciative mouths.  Many hands made light work of meals and dishes.  Late nights for chatting, game playing, enjoying.

And with the yin and yang of joy and pain came sweet goodbyes, long hugs, signed “I Love You’s,” hands waving until the car can be seen no more.  Then the silence and space that leaving brings.  The stillness of a house that had been full for so long.

And it is this way that my summer has come to an end.  In sweet memories and bittersweet goodbyes.  In knowing that children will grow, we will age, lives will change, and we will never be together again in quite the same way.  Holding memories tight to make them last until we meet again.  Family, and yet living such far-apart lives.

The first of the autumn leaves have begun to glow red.  Cool night air blows through my windows.  I head back to school, fall schedules, volunteer requests, the busyness of life begun anew. 

Farewell sweet summer.  Until we meet again….

Whatever Floats Your Boat

No matter how many times it happens, I am always amazed what a group of young children can come up with when left to their own devices.

Yesterday afternoon, we made boats.

Other than providing materials, and the direction to make a boat that floats (of course!) I left them to discover on their own.

And as they worked, they discussed the merits of different materials.

They talked about what a boat should look like.  They wondered if they made a boat a different size and shape if it would still float.

They debated whether a cardboard boat would remain afloat.

And rather than answering their questions, I asked a few of my own.  Like “If you think a cardboard boat would get too wet, what could you do to protect it?”

In the midst of all this boat-talk, there was also learning about working with materials.  Puzzling over how to get pieces to stick to one another, how to make holes in the middle of a box, how to balance one object on top of another, how to work with plasticine.

And as I guide them to learn and discover on their own, I know the learning runs much deeper than the things I simply tell them.

And then, with twelve brand new boats in hand, we headed outside to test the waters!

“It floats!”

“It floats!”

“It floats!”

“Shipwreck!!!!!”

“Hmm…what happens if I put water inside my boat……”

“Hey!  This yellow tape floats!”

And then the bowls of water became vessels for all sorts of floating things on the playground.  And then sand from the sandbox.  And lots of stirring with fingers and squishing and scooping of mud.  My young scientists were still at work discovering long after my job was done and the after school program began.

Taking it Further

  • Older children could test out materials and models before designing what they feel to be the “best” model
  • play an advanced game of “will it float?”  Go beyond the usual items.
  • Learn about different types of boats and build a boat for a specific purpose
  • Take water exploration in new directions.  Provide funnels and tubing and containers and see what they can come up with (I once did this with a small group of seven and eight-year-olds who spent several days designing elaborate water-moving machines.)
  • Have children find ways to make their boats move in the water (and maybe even have a boat race!)

Don’t you just love it when learning is so much fun?

Garden Harvest Cooking: Refreshing cucumber and lemon herb-infused water

We have had some hot weather here over the last few days.  And on a steamy hot day, what better for cooling and refreshing than a cold glass of water? 

But somehow, water can seem a little ordinary.  But add some cucumber and lemon and a handful of garden-fresh herbs, and you’ve got something a little special, but just as thirst-quenching.  Make it in a glass pitcher, and you’ve got something pretty to grace your picnic table.

Refreshing Cucumber and Lemon Herb-Infused Water

  • a piece of cucumber
  • a lemon
  • a handful of herbs (I like mint or lemonbalm or a combination of the two)

 

Slice the cucumber into rounds and place in the bottom of your pitcher.

Cut the lemon in quarters and gently squeeze to release the juice as you place it on top of the cucumber.

Finally, gently squish the herb leaves in the palm of your hand to release their fragrance and flavour and place in the pitcher.

Fill the pitcher with cold water and ice and let steep for at least an hour before serving.

We often fill our pitcher up with water a second time and leave it in the fridge for the next day with results that are just as refreshing.

Enjoy! 

How are you keeping cool on these hot summer days?

A tourist in your own town

I had the pleasure of having one of the best summer jobs in the world.  Two days a week I got to spend the day hanging out with one of my favourite people, and her three awesome kids.  One of the highlights for me was teaching her two girls how to sew (you should see the dolls they made – too cute!) but I also loved all of the impromptu adventures we would take the kids on.  Isn’t it wonderful how friends encourage you to do things that you would never have done on your own?

Like being a tourist in your own city.  On the day that a cruise ship was in and the city was swarming with people with roses (they hand the passengers one when they get off the boat, so they can be identified as tourists I suppose.)  We even bought a rose to carry around so we’d fit in. 

Come, I’ll take you on a tour.

The beautiful gateway into a historic park.   We sat by a fountain modelled after a beaver pond and ate lemon tarts from a nearby bakery – yum!

I am in love with the brick walkways.  We did not have walkways like this in the city where I grew up (not that I remember walking on anyway).  This park is right smack dab in the center of the city with buses and people bustling about – an oasis of green and calm.

See?  This is what you look at once you leave the park gate.  Beautiful architecture in the building up ahead – it is one of my favourite places to go in the city….

The market!  Full of restaurants, fresh produce, seafood, meats, cheeses, and local artisans selling their wares.  I love the hustle and bustle of it and you never know what you are going to find.

Being a ship-building town the roof of the market was built like the hull of a boat – cool, huh?

I also love these signs everywhere showing the market in different eras.  Oh how neat it would be to go back in time and see it grow and change throughout the years!

More historic buildings – and the fog has rolled in!  I was shocked by how quickly this can happen the first time I experienced it (back when I was a tourist for real!)  One minute I was standing outside in the sun and the next I turned around into a wall of white.    One of the many historic churches (and gorgeous inside too!)- the cars look really out of place here.

A blast from the past – some day I would like a ride on this trolley!

The cruise ship – I can’t believe how big these things are.  From the top of the street I seriously thought this was a big white building at the end of the road….

Lots of old beautiful houses here.  Many have historic plaques stating the builder and year of building, but this is my favourite:

Thanks for being a tourist with me!  The next time you are looking for something to do, why not become a tourist in your own town?  Even if you’ve lived there for years, it’s always refreshing to look at the sites with fresh eyes, to stop and enjoy all that your city or town has to offer.  It’s even better if you bring a friend or two along, and a few kids to pose for pictures at all the historic sites!

What’s your favourite place to explore where you live?

Beautiful Beaches, Inspiring Views and Garden Tours

Hubby and I were away this past week-end visiting family.  It just so happens that the family we were visiting lives in one of the most beautiful provinces in the country (after my own, of course!) 

It was a true vacation, without any opportunities to work or be busy, and I loved being able to just enjoy my surroundings.  It is a beautiful world that we live in, isn’t it?

It was a gorgeous day to be at the beach.  It just isn’t summer to me if I haven’t had the chance to have sand under my feet!

You can’t travel very far on P.E.I. without finding water….

A true maritime picture!

I love that bright red sand.  I can never resist taking my sandals off and splashing around in the water whenever I am near water.  Walking barefoot on the beach (and in the water) is one of my most favourite things in the world!

This is what I call my “PEI Pedicure!”

On our final day we toured around to a number of places, but the highlight for me was definitely visiting the test gardens of a local seed supplier.  They had garden after garden of plants that they were testing for possible sale in next year’s seed catalogue.   I discovered many new things that I want to try in our garden next year (there goes more of our lawn…..) and others that were just fun to look at!

Black-eyed Susans – they always make me smile!

Echinacea is a definite must for my garden next year – so pretty!

I don’t remember what this is, but I think it might be an onion flower? 

I love the colour of this one.

And these look like giant puff-balls to me.  I have some in my garden but sadly the deer never let them grow.

It was so hard to walk through these gardens and not pick things (or pull weeds!  I actually did pull a weed in the veggie garden, I just bent down and picked it out without thinking….)

Don’t you want to just reach out and eat one?  Me too…it took a lot of restraint to leave these be!

The grapes were amazing!

Isn’t this a fun-looking sunflower?

This is a zucchini!  (and I thought mine were monsters!)

Beautiful squash!

Purple beans!  I am thinking these would match nicely with the purple carrots we currently grow.  After all, the world needs more purple food!

A sea of lettuces and cabbages. 

And one very interesting-coloured watermelon!  I think it was called Ruby Red – so tempting to want to pick one and see the inside!

It’s so fun to see such variety in a garden!  It really made me excited to get back to my own garden (and the beans and beets are definitely calling my name this week….)

Hope you are finding time this summer to relax and enjoy what is around you too!

A Fiesta for a Hot Summer’s Day

I love “Mexican” food.  I call it “Mexican” because I am sure that what I think of as Mexican food is about as close to what they eat in Mexico as the Chinese take-out is to what is actually eaten in China.  That being said, I love fajitas, burritos, nachos, salsa, jalapenos, guacamole, you get the picture. 

I am, however, always disappointed in tortillas.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy them or like the taste, it’s just that the ingredients list usually contains a number of chemicals I can’t pronounce, along with an unhealthy dose of trans-fats or vegetable oils, AND my grocery store stores them in the freezer before selling which makes them kind of gummy and they stick together as they thaw. 

I have tried many times to make my own tortillas with ho-hum results.  Until now.   This recipe is amazing!  I made the healthiest version, down at the bottom of the post, and they were so easy!  It was a great dough, easy to roll out and it didn’t take too long to cook them, even one-by-one in my cast iron frying pan.  I was so proud of the finished results and hubby liked them too.  Success!  To celebrate I threw together a cold fajita meal, perfect for keeping the kitchen as cool as possible on a hot summer’s day. 

Keeping the tortillas in this dish covered with a cloth as I cooked them kept them nice and soft until dinner was served.

The only other hot part of this meal, chicken coated in a mix of chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic and onion powder. 

Lots of fresh veggies and cheese!

A cold bean mix.  Black beans with tomato, green onion, green pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, cumin, and chili powder.

My favourite guacamole.  Chunky avocado, fresh tomato, cilantro, garlic, and lots of fresh lime juice. 

Rolled and ready to go – yum!

It’s great to have leftovers of this meal too!  If you have leftover chicken, veggies and cheese, toss them altogether for a yummy cold chicken salad for lunch the next day.  Leftover beans and guacamole can be rolled into tortillas, or eaten with nacho chips as a snack.  Don’t you love it when you can get more than one meal out of all your hard work?

What’s your favourite hot summer day meal?

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