Monday, 2 December 2013

The Best of the Season: Part One

I am a chilly gal. I wear a lot of wool and fleece. Not the most attractive uniform but I MUST be cozy at this time of year. I need my outsides to match my insides. The dark days settle in and we light up the cold winter with our spirit. Despite being constantly chilled, I'm a BIG fan of Christmas and the Holiday season. My family has to put up with my loud, expressive solo performances of holiday classics daily. I have such warm memories of holidays with my large extended family and it is even more fun now that I have my own little family. What a HOOT to see this magical time through the eyes of a child!! I'm going to post a lot of pictures this season, but probably few words. It's hard to describe something so fleeting and precious.

Happy Season y'all xo

Monday, 4 November 2013

Autumn. Breathe.

What beauty, what charm. The cold sets in.

This season for me is :

a) Sudden - Suddenly upon us, cold and colourful. Shorter days and stuffier noses. Summer seems to fly now that I have a family of my own. I'm so grateful for the long lazy days we spent sitting around outside this summer.

b) Sweet and Sad - The dark creeping in, the cold wind making me pull my little ones closer. The end of our garden for now; the overripe tomatoes squished into the empty ground. There is something about this time, when I look ahead to the long cold season, that makes me sad. Not *boohoo* sad, just *sigh* sad.

c) Homey - I like to hibernate. I'm certainly busy and somewhat social in my own way but I also like to stay cozy and close to home, baking with LOTS of butter and cooking large healthy soups. I shift into a low-speed, granola, martha-stewart-esque frame of mind and being for a few weeks as I plan my winter. I'm very tempted to pickle and can.

Many trips to Quinn Farm give us an opportunity for outdoor play with a purpose. We bring home their fresh bread and muffins and spend time chatting with animals in the barn. I also like to visit the farm as I think about giving this season. The Quinns stock a ton of lovely gift ideas: baked goods of course, local honey, lovely jams made with farm-fresh ingredients, arts and crafts from select local crafters and a large selection of toys and games from award winning Melissa and Doug. In the spirit of buying locally and reducing the amount of "stuff" we give, the farm is a great place to stock up on affordable and thoughtful gifts for everyone.

Sunday mornings at Jean Talon Market also offer a ton of fun food options. I guess this season is largely about cooking and eating for me. What better way to soothe my ennui?

I love to take photos in the Fall. Here's a mish mash of our busy weekends.

Quinn Farm on a busy fall day

I made the yummiest curry with one of these babies!!

loves the pumpkin patch, even in the rain

perusing the gift section...

Marche Jean Talon

Eyeing the goodies at the market

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Apple Season

Up up up! It's apple picking time!

We have this sweet book at home that the kids love; about driving to the country to visit their grandparents at their apple orchards. It's called Up, up, up! It's Apple-Picking Time. The book is beautifully illustrated and the inside cover has the names of all kinds of apple varieties (ever heard of winter banana??) We read it ALL year but it comes to life in September when we can actually go and pick apples, dramatically recreating the story and stuffing ourselves at Quinn Farm. Luckily, my parents are usually up for a family outing so they joined us on this sunny fabulous apple-picking excursion. As I often point out, these days are gold to me. My parents and my kids just adore each other and when we are out on the farm together my happiness just overflows. My parents used to take us and then we would roll out pies and make apple crisp. The house would fill with baking apple smells as the air turned cool and the smell of fall settled outside. I LOVE this time of year. Growing up in apple country was so delightful and I've always brought city friends out to enjoy the tradition. Nostalgia plays a big role in my happiness, can you tell?

Quinn Farm is perfect for this outing. The whole place has evolved over the summer, and it is more beautiful and family-friendly then ever. There are more staff, new signage, well-timed wagon hay rides, lots of baby animals, new landscaping, a new bakery silo where you can buy tickets (shorter lineup!) more activities for littles in the playbarn and tons of homemade baked goods in the bakery barn. I don't know how those folks find the time to keep it all running so expertly. Although I love to bake my own, we did end up buying a dutch apple pie, the classic pumpkin muffins and some mini pies that simply cannot be recreated at home: It's a whole apple, sliced and stacked, wrapped in perfect pastry and baked, then drizzled with a caramel sauce of some kind. It's insane. At home, we've made an apple-carrot loaf, baked apples and muffins. I haven't tackled my own pastry... yet!