Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gowlland Tod Provincial Park

A couple days ago Jon and I decided to venture out to the Highlands and try out the Gowlland Tod trails in Brentwood Bay. To be honest, I didn't quite realize how high up we were going so when we got there and there was snow on the ground I knew I was very under-dressed. We chose to do the McKenzie Bight trail and it wasn't long before we realized that that particular trail was all downhill. Soon we were out of the snow and into the lush forest heading down alongside a stream.
The trail can be quite hard on the joints because it is a good 30 minutes of walking straight downhill but I think it was worth it. I really enjoyed observing the natural processes going on around me. There were many fallen trees from the wind storms earlier that month as well as a landslide that appeared to have happened maybe a year or more ago.

I loved the little waterfalls. If you just stood still it was so relaxing listening to the sound of the water running down to the sea. Definitely beats any relaxation CD out there. When you finally reach the bottom of the trail the view is stunning. Tod inlet is very serene and obviously a home to wildlife. While we were there we saw seals, ducks and many other birds. I could imagine that you might see otters there as well but we didn't see any that day.

It was nice to see the forests around the inlet were intact and as far as I could tell had no evidence of  logging. I found that to be refreshing, especially since we noticed there was logging along the road that leads into the park. For the most part we alone out there staring at the see. A couple other hikers passed by but didn't really stop. It was a nice place to relax.

The water was amazingly clear. Even in the dead of winter it makes you want to jump in. This will be a trail I will be visiting in the summer. The park website states that swimming and canoeing is allowed (however, I'm not sure how one would get a canoe down there, not to mention back up).

This was the last shot I took before we made our way back up the hill. Normally, I imagine the hike up would not be all that bad but it was muddy and in places icy so it was definitely a challenge to get back to the car. If you plan to hike this trail in any season other than summer wear really good hiking boots because it will take you a long time to get up the hill if you don't. Also, dress warmer than you think you need to because it is much colder up in the Highlands than even down on West Saanich Rd.
The Gowlland Tod Park has many trails and multiple entrances. I will definitely go back for more hiking but I'm thinking of starting on the Langford side next time and seeing where that takes me. If you are interested in visiting the park and you would like more information visit the park website at


Composting is something that comes very naturally to me. When I was a child my father made sure everyone in the family knew what was garbage and what was compost. Even when I lived in an apartment that had no where to compost, I save my kitchen scraps and took them to my parents house to be composted.
This Christmas I was visiting family and discovered some of them don't compost. I felt so guilty standing there throwing lovely organic material into the trash. For those of us who live in the Capital Regional District, all it takes is a trip to the Hartland Landfill and you will realize you need to do more to decrease your waste.
The CRD has finally introduced a composting program for those of us who don't have a place for compost in our own yards. The green bins look much like a garbage can. Simply throw your organic waste into the large container and it is picked up monthly. To find out more about the program visit
Personally, I have plenty of use for compost and I'm not about to pay for it when I can make my own. Jon built our compost bin. It is made of re-claimed wood and wire. It has two compartments for items at different levels of decompostion. We are planning on making a second bin. It will be a simple box that will be used for lawn clippings and yard waste.
I think some people think that composts are just leaves and such but there is so much more that can be composted.
Kitchen scraps should be un-cooked. Vegetable ends, apple cores, banana peels, peach pits, potato skins; it all goes in. Other things that are great for the compost are egg shells and feel free to shred those paper lunch bags and toss them in there too. No meat products should go into the compost, that includes cheese and yogurt. These things will only attracted vermin and sometimes larger animals too.
Yard waste is obvious. Grass clippings, plant prunings, fallen leaves, dead plants, etc. Be careful not to add plants that may be diseased or that have had an insect infestation. Also, do your best to avoid throwing in invasive weeds.
Manure is the classic compost item. Chicken manure is excellent for your garden and your compost pile. You can also use cow or horse. Do not use dog, cat, pig or human waste in your compost. Manure is nutrient rich and will often kill any weeds that are growing in your compost pile. Be sure to throughly compost so the manure does not damage any of your plants.
Other items that can be composted are straw or hay (these will help with air circulation within the pile), sawdust, soil (if you are ever left with some potting soil toss it into the compost), and seaweed. Seaweed is very nutrient rich and here on the west coast, it's free. I usually like to head down to the beach after a storm with a big bucket and add it to the compost. Try to rinse the seaweed first though, too much salt isn't good for the garden.
There are two main kind of compost piles. Hot composting is done in carefully built layers that heat up. Cool composting is stirred a couple times a year while continually tossing new material in. We do cool composting so I don't know a lot about hot composting. Cool composting should be done with two bins. One should hold the new material for that year and the other should have last years composted material. The pile should be watered and stirred regularly. Also consider the layers. Stirring in made easier (not to mention it speeds up the break down) when you layer dense kitchen scraps and grass clippings with woody tree clippings and heavy straw. Cool composting can take a long time so to speed up the process add as much as you can one time, shred material when possible and add manure.
An absolute must for composts are the little workers who get the job done. Worms and other insects are necessary for the break down that is going on in your compost. It is often hard to find the kinds of worms needed in a compost pile so luckily, they can be bought at garden stores or compost centres. When stirring your compost pile check on your worms. Sometimes if the birds get to it or it's been really hot out you can suffer some causalities in the compost bin so if you notice a lack of worms it is probably time to get some more.
Bins themselves are varied. I can't tell you exactly what bin works best because you need to consider what you want and need from it. Most bins can be constructed yourself at home and with only a days work. One thing I can tell you is that if you are adding kitchen scraps you must have a secure lid. Do your best to make the bin bird and rat proof. Things to consider when planning a compost bin is: What kind of composting am I going to do? How much space do I have? How much do I want to spend? What kind of materials are going to be going into the bin the majority of the time? What kind of animals live in the area? If you really don't have to time to plan and build your own, bins in just about any size can be purchased at garden stores, online or at compost centres.
If you don't currently compost, give it a try for a couple of weeks. I think you will be amazed add how little garbage you will be taking to the curb. The environment and your garden will thank you. To learn more about composting and/or to look at bins available for purchase visit The Greater Victoria Compost Education Centre. They will also be able to help you plan for a bin that you can build to meet your specific needs.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day Hike

This boxing day was a glorious sunny day. With the stress of Christmas behind us we decided to unwind with a hike up Mount Doug. It was so peaceful and so beautiful by the end of it I felt so relaxed. Sometimes I just need to surround myself with the beautiful and peace of nature to reconnect with my own peace.

Everything so lush and green. The air was cool and fresh. I just stopped and took deep breaths of that good clean air.
There were so many ferns. I love ferns. When I'm stand amid ferns I feel as though I went back in time to when humans and nature were in balance. When I was a child I would hide amongst the ferns and pretend I was watching for dinosaurs.

Even though the sun was out it is was still a cool December day. There was even some frost on the ground and when the sun hit it, it sparkled. Nothing can compare to the beauty of nature. Nothing.

We found this quiet place surrounded by young Arbutus trees. It was stunning. Niether of us had seen this place before so it felt really special. It is definitely going to be a place I go to when I need to unwind.We stopped and stretched and just looked out over the lovely forest below.

The view was beyond lovely. You could see Mt. Baker so clearly. The sun just lit up its snow topped peaks. Just above the mountain was the moon. In the middle of the day, there was the beautiful moon. It makes you feel strangely wonderful being able to stand in the warm sunlight and be able to look up at the moon at the same time.

The colors were just so rich. The bark of the Arbutus tree is so beautiful and in the sun it glowed a lovely amber-red color. The moss was incredibly lush from all the rain we had before Christmas. Moss is one of the most stunning shades of green. I kept trying to get a picture that captured the radiant colors but failed. I just put away the camera and took it all in. The clean air, warm sun, light sea breeze, vibrant colors and timeless beauty. I hope everyone gets to spend a wonderful day like this was and reconnect with nature and yourself.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Spirit

For me nothing says Christmas spirit like bundling up and taking a walk through my neighborhood to look at the lights. Everything is so colorful and bright, I just love it. Now some people get into the decorating spirit more than others so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Christmas houses in Victoria. You can click on the pictures to see them in more detail. Sorry they aren't better pictures but my camera doesn't like the dark.
This house was my favorite elementary school teachers home. He always had the best Christmas celebrations and this house is classic.
This isn't a great picture of this house but I really like this display. You can see it all lit up when you come around the corner.
This house plays music and is super bright. He has a extra generator to run everything. Even their backyard has lights!
The Santa in this picture goes in and out of the chimney, it's pretty cool. We had to wait a bit to get a picture with Santa out of the chimney.
This is the home of the inflatables. They had every inflatable you could get. I couldn't get all the inflatables in this picture!
This house is just down the street from ours and it is by-far one of my very favorites. It also plays music and it so detailed. Love it!
And this house, is my house. We did the best we could with our budget and I think it looks quite nice.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Craft: Cinnamon Ornaments

Last week my mother-in-law came down to visit and do some Christmas activities. We made some delicious shortbread and we decided to make these as our Christmas craft.

The dough is a simple mixture of cinnamon, applesauce and glue. We decorated them with different glitters, sprinkles, and beads. I'm glad we decided to use different textures because it really made the ornaments more interesting. In the end the ornaments look great on the tree, I think we picked some great colors and they smell really nice.
This a craft from a Martha Stewart magazine so if you are interested in making your own ornaments the recipe can be found on her website.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Needle Felting

Needle felting is my new obession! I can't believe I didn't discover this incredibly fun activity sooner. I ordered some beginner felting kits from Fancy Tiger and watched a quick video on YouTube and that was it.

I made the Christmas Cardinal first and it is so cute the picture doesn't do it justice. Then I made the little pumpkin. I took the pictures in my hand so you got a sense of the size. They both were easy and fun to make. I've order some more roving and I'm getting really excited about all the cool things I'm going to make with my new needle felting supplies!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our Tree

So we have put up our tree. This was the first year we went out and cut down our own tree. I wanted it to last longer so we decided this was the way to get the "freshest" tree. I had a tough time getting a good picture, so here's the best one.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wreath Making

This was something new to me. I have never made my own "fresh" wreath. I decided I wanted to learn how to do it properly so I signed up for a class at a local nursery. I ended up enjoying the whole thing immensely so this will probably become a yearly thing for me.
We began by stuffing a metal frame with moss. The moss they use has been salvaged by a man that live up island. He goes and collects the moss ahead of logging vehicles up near Cowichan Valley. The moss doesn't look all that neat when it first goes in but it tidies up when you secure it in place with wire.
Then it was time to select our greenery. It was a tough choice because it was all so attractive but I decided to start with some cedar. We snipped the ends so they would go through the moss easier and did the entire outer edge. Then you had a choice of using some different greenery for the inside or making the whole base out of the same type.
I decided to add a little fir on the inside of my wreath and I was really lucky to find some branches that still had pinecones on them. Then I also added a few more little piece of greenery to give it a variety of textures. That was the basic wreath and all that was left to do was to embellish.

I chose to embellish mine with some winter berries and a few rosehips. I am thrilled with how it turned out. It is so natural looking and just screams Christmas! If you are in the Saanich area and you would like to try making your own wreath visit Russell Nursery for information on their classes. If you aren't interested in the classes, they do have a great selection of greenery and berries if you want to make your own at home.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Craft: Gift Bags

Many years ago I gave up gift wrap. It just seemed so wasteful and almost a little pointless to spend all this time carefully wrapping something with beautiful paper that ends up in the trash (or recycling bin). So I started making cloth bags to use instead of gift wrap. The holidays are already so busy it's taken me a while to get a decent collection going but now I'm pretty much to the point where I have a bag in every size. It turns out that they are actually quite fun to make. I love picking out the fabric and what kind of closure to use. I've got velcro, buttons, a couple different kinds of ties and some that I use painted clothes pins to seal. It's definitely saved us time and money (I haven't had to buy wrapping paper, ribbon or even fabric for years!). Try some for yourself!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Crafting: Candles

For gifts this year I have decided to make homemade candles. I got the idea to use old tea cups from an issue of Martha Stewart. It's actually quite brilliant since tea cups are already meant to have hot liquid in them so they won't crack when you pour the wax in and the handles make it easy to move the candle while it's burning.
For these candles I used lead-free pre-waxed wicks from a craft store but you can use natural cotton wicks too (I didn't because they don't stand up on their own in the cup so it's an extra step to secure them). I got the tea cups at thrift store. The prices ranged from 49 cents to $1.99, so it was a good deal. I bought some natural beeswax from the craft store to use but found that I could melt down the leftovers from some soy-wax candles I got for Christmas last to make new candles. The wax was already pre-dyed and scented (eliminating yet another step). The only other thing I bought for this craft was an old cheap pot from the thrift store to melt the wax in (no matter how hard you try you can never get all the wax out of the pot).
All-in-all this was a really fun craft and really cost-effective. For each candle I believe the cost is between $5-$8 depending on the size, which is great considering some of the beeswax candles in my house now were purchased for $12 or more. I have decided that will definitely be making all my candles from now on. Not only is it fun to make the candle but I must say I really enjoyed hunting for those adorable cups.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Winter Harvest

My first attempt a winter garden has not been going very well. I planted a little late and I got the cold covers on the plants after a frost. It definitely wasn't the best planning. We lost a few things in the frost but I think most might make it. My kale and spinach seem to be growing just fine. However the wet weather I think contributed to the cabbage and beets being demolished by slugs. I have some collard greens that may or may not make it. They were unfortunately caught in the frost. The parsnips and new brussel sprouts will be ok but they will definitely have to over-winter. The garlic appears to be unharmed by the cold weather but then again it is supposed to be over-wintered so I would expect it to be hardy.
The summer garden went so well though that a failing winter garden is really affecting us. Yes, I feel disappointed that some of my garden died and that other plants were eaten by bugs but the fact that it is the end of November hasn't had an impact on our diet. We've been eating a lot of the zucchini and beans we froze this summer and I've started cracking open the cans of fruit I preserved. I love that I put all the effort into it because now we are able to maintain our local, organic and health diet.

Above are some pictures of what we have been able to get from the garden this winter. Some very sweet carrots (not many but some) and some tender organic brussel sprouts. Brussel sprouts take a very long time to grow. They were some of the first things I planted in April and the first harvest was ready the second week of October. I will have to remember to plant early if I want brussel sprouts.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Gift from Hydro

We got a nice surprise in the mail last week. We had applied for the BC Hydro Energy Savings Kit and I had almost forgot it was coming. It's a box of supplies meant to help to minimize your energy consumption and I think it is perfectly timed for the winter. It included 3 CFL lightbulbs, weather stripping, faucet aerators (both kitchen and bathroom), low-flow shower head, foam pipe wrap, an efficient nightlight, foam outlet and lightswitch sealers, outlet covers, fridge and freezer thermometers, a hot water thermometer, window insulator film and more. It comes with 2 types of weather stripping; foam and v-seal. We haven't decided which to use and where.
We had an energy audit last week as well. I'm really happy with our results. We scored at 76, which may not seem that great but in houses of our size and age the best score ever received was 80, so by that standard we are doing really well. The only major thing we have to fix is the seal around our front door needs some weatherstripping (so we got the box just in time).
My favorite item out of this kit has to be the low-flow showerhead. It is really fancy looking and it comes with 3 settings; spray, niagara and massage. Yes, massage! The nightlight is pretty cool. To run the nightlight for one year costs 26 cents, so I placed it in the living room so there is some light when we first come in the door at night. The faucet aerators don't fit our taps which was really disappointing since they are really nice and I'm all for reducing the amount of water we use.
Everything in the kit is really easy to install and you will see a difference on your hydro bill if you install the products provided and follow the energy saving tips that come in the booklet. I think the only tool you need to install anything is a screwdriver. The hardest thing install is probably the window insulator film and that is only because it is challenging to smooth out every wrinkle.
All-in-all I think this a great project by BC Hydro. Everything in the box can be put to good use and it really was great to get some help with energy savings. The box is free to anyone who qualifies. If you would like to learn more about the project, apply for a kit and/or see if you qualify visit

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green Tips: Giving "Green"

Christmas is coming and already the malls are packed with people trying to get the perfect gift. This season try to lessen the impact on the environment and give some awesome eco-friendly gifts.

1. Make a donation in someones name. They get the tax deduction and somewhere someone else is getting a great gift too. Our favorites are WWF, Oxfam, the TLC, UNHCR, WildArc, and the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Fund. A lot of these organizations will also offer gifts when you donate that you can wrap up and give to someone along with the donation. It's a feel good gift all around.

2. Give homemade goodies. Every year I give everyone a big box of Christmas cookies, homemade chocolates and some other baked good like scones or brownies. It really is fun to munch away on homemade treats with a cup of tea in front of the Christmas tree. This gift is especially good for people with special dietary needs who can't just go to the bakery and pick out a treat. So try making peanut free, diary free, gluten free or vegan treats for someone who will really appreciate them.

3. Try making homemade bath products. Warning this is really addicting! Last year I made peppermint bath bombs for everyone in my family and oh man were they nice (of course I used the defective ones myself). Bath oils are really nice to make too and homemade beeswax lip balm is surprisingly easy to make. I'll post some instructions for these ideas soon.

4. Homemade drinks. Let's face it, we all do some drinking over the holidays. Try giving flavored vodkas (cranberry vodka is my favorite) or bottle some margarita mix. Another idea is to pick out a nice red wine and give it with some homemade packets of mulling spice. This one is endless!

5. Give a "time" gift. Last year my mom was getting a little run down over the holidays so for her gift I gave her 4-5 days worth of homemade frozen dinners (lasagna, enchiladas, tandorri chicken and tamali pie). I wanted her to be able to come home from work without having to worry about dinner and she could just sit back and relax until dinner was done. Do something similar, give containers of frozen homemade soup or show up one afternoon and offer to put up Christmas lights for someone. I don't think any gift is more appreciated over the holidays than the gift of relaxation.

If you don't have the time to do any of these then please try to purchase gifts that come in minimal packaging and if you can, purchase from a local eco-friendly company. Also, use re-usable gift bags this year instead of gift wrap. Be creative here too. You could hang a necklace or a gift card in the tree on Christmas morning, or use a scarf to wrap another gift. I hope one or more of these ideas has inspired you to do something different this year :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Crafting: Cards

'Tis the time of year to start planning for Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of year and part of that joy is taking the time to make personal, homemade gifts for the people I love. This year I decided to put in the time to make my own Christmas cards. These turned out to be a lot of work. I decided to do them with glitter (because really when else do you get to do glitter art?). But in order to get the wording to look like I did it with a pen, I needed to put on the glue using a toothpick. They took a really long time but I'm almost completely done and I quite like how they look. Now I just hope all the glitter doesn't come off in the mail!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Meal Planning

I've never really been into pre-planning my meals for the week unless I was on some sort of strict new diet. But in an attempt to save more money, I've decided to start planning our meals out for the week. I'm starting with meals that use what I already have and then choosing meals that require minimal shopping. The great thing is that I already have so much that has been canned or frozen from the summer and we have a ton of organic beef from when we got half a cow with my parents.
For this week I'm going to try the following. I may switch the days but I'm hoping to make all the below meals sometime this week. I've list most of the ingredients. If you have them in your home already maybe you might try these meals as well.
Monday: Garlic Prawns and Orzo (frozen wild prawns, garlic, white wine, olive oil, frozen tomatoes, basil, orzo, seasoning*)
Tuesday: Bean and Beef Burritos with Corn (ground beef, onion, seasoning*, chili, kidney or black beans, tortilla wraps, salsa, cheese, frozen or canned corn)
Wednesday: Steaks with Zucchini Dippers (steaks, soy sauce, garlic, chilis, seasoning*, bread crumbs, egg, parmesan cheese, zucchini rounds, dipping sauce of your choice)
Thursday: Beef Stew with Bread (stewing beef, vegetable broth, carrots, potato, pumpkin, onion, garlic, peas, celery, seasoning*, artisan bread)
Friday: Breaded Sole with Edamame (sole, bread crumbs, egg, seasoning*, herbs, lemon juice, ginger, frozen or fresh edamame)
Saturday: Beef and Vegetable Stirfry over Rice (beef, onion, garlic, peas, carrots, celery, water chestnut, soy sauce, brown rice, seasoning*)
Sunday: Vegetable and Barley Casserole (pot barley, chickpeas, carrots, vegetable broth, onion, garlic, squash, celery, seasoning*)
*seasoning is basically any spices or herbs you would like to use in your meals. My common seasoning includes sea salt, dried garlic, chili powder, black pepper, and paprika. But again it varies with the type of meal and who is sharing the meal with me.
Leftovers are typically used for lunches the next day so that is why I haven't planned lunches here. Also breakfast is usually quick in the morning (fruit, oatmeal, toast or cereal) so it doesn't really require planning.
At the end of the week I will take another inventory of what I have left in my pantry and freezer and decide if I can do another week of meals without shopping or not (my guess is that I will be able to).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Brother

Nineteen years ago today I thought was just going to go trick or treating with some friends but soon discovered I was also getting a brother for Halloween 1990. For all the years since then and all the years to come, thank you for making me laugh, putting me in my place and teaching me lots of lessons. Happy Birthday little brother!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Apple Festival 2009

While we were on Saltspring Island we were lucky enough to attend the 2009 Apple Festival. For as long as I can remember September and October were apple months. My parents had 3 apple trees and now we have one big apple tree so there is always lots of apples. The festival really was a learning experience and a great opportunity to peak into the orchards of people who have been successful in making a living off the apples.The whole festival is spread out all over the island however you start at the community hall for a little background information. There is whole bunch of tables out that display the over 350 varieties of apples grown on Saltspring Island and almost all of them are grown organically. So after our brief introduction to Saltspring Apples we grabbed our map and decided to hit the road. There were about 18 farms that were participating although not all were apple farms.

We started at a small farm that had a really beautiful orchard. The owner was very friendly and showed us a couple of the little tricks he uses to keep the orchard looking great and taught us about the importance of harvesting at the optimal time. We carried on stopping by some more smaller operations but it was just so interesting to see that everyone has their tricks. Some prune the trees every year and feel that is the best for production while others let their orchards go wild for a year or two and feel that is what the orchard needs.

People were growing their trees in all sorts of different ways too. Some grow them in neat, sometimes even labelled, rows. Some grow them wild, with trees dispersed around their property. And even one grows his as a living fence. He was really interesting to talk to about the whole living fence concept and I have to say the apple fence looked really nice.While most people choose to sell their apples at road side stands or at the weekly markets, the next couple farms we visited chose to use their apples for juice. I juice fruit in my own home but nothing like this. I think watching these juicers in use was one of my favorite parts. We also got to taste the juice that came out of the machines and there is nothing as sweet and delicious as real apple juice. All the juicers that we saw in use during the festival were antique and everyone says that they wouldn't use anything else. I don't blame them, those old machines were pretty darn efficient.
As you may have guessed, a lot of apples are needed to make enough juice to make any kind of profit. I love this picture. This is the garage at Beddis Castle and this is after half a day of juicing.
I'm amazed at how many apples come from this small island. Many of the farms provide their apples to grocery stores and markets not only on Saltspring Island but also on Vancouver Island and the mainland.
Another big highlight for me was visiting Apple Luscious farms. The owner, Harry Burton, is a big part of the apple community on Saltspring and is the driving force behind the Apple Festival. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity and I was so impressed that even with all the stress of the festival itself, Harry is a truly lovely person and really knowledgeable. I wish we had gone to his place first though. He was sold out for some of the apples I really wanted to try. At his farm he had tasting tables for all of the 200 or something varieties of apples he grows on his own property. He also had live music and a really interesting (and delicious) cooking demonstration that combined organic apples with local organic cheese.
If you are ever on Saltspring Island, even if it isn't the Apple Festival, make a point of visiting Harry's farm. For information on Apple Luscious visit and more info on the Apple Festival is available at

The Saltspring Island Apple Festival is now officially on my list of summer festivals that I must attend. This years festival is barely over and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Recipe: Cranberry Relish

I first made this fresh alternative as a way to have cranberries without all the sugar of cranberry sauce. From the first try it was a hit. I made it again last night and it was equally popular. Here it is just in time for Thanksgiving!

You will need:
1/2 bag of fresh cranberries
1 naval orange
1/2 pomegranate
1/4 cup of chopped candied ginger
1/4 cup (or less) of sugar
handful of pecans or walnuts (optional)

Begin by chopping the cranberries in a food processor (don't puree, chop) and transfer to a bowl. Add in pomegranate seeds, chopped ginger and sugar. Slice the orange and just break little bite size pieces of the flesh into the bowl and add nuts if you are using them (a lot of people have allergies so I don't often use these anymore). Stir combine and refrigerate until use.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Camping on Saltspring

This past weekend Jon and I decided it was time for a getaway so we packed up our car and headed over to Saltspring Island. It was my first trip to Saltspring and after this weekend I'm pretty sure we are moving there some day. It was a beautiful weekend, sunny during the day but really cold at night. We camped at Ruckle Park, which is a beautiful walk-in waterfront campground. It was dark when we arrived but we had a beautiful bright moon out. The moon was so bright we set up camp by moonlight only.The next morning was beautiful. The first thing I saw when I stuck my head out of the tent was the beautiful sun rising up over the water. It was a great way to start the day. We decided to go to the Saturday market at Ganges Marina. It was really cool to see the beautiful arts and crafts and the delicious produce and baked goods. We ended up buying some bread, beets, carrots, soap, fudge and Jon bought himself a nice leather belt and for me a beautiful abalone necklace.
After the market we had breakfast and wandered around the marina checking out some of the shops. By noon though it was getting pretty warm and we were really overdressed so we headed back to the campsite. Driving back to it in daylight (because when we arrived we could barely see in front of the car let alone anything else) was great, we could see all the things we had missed before.
It was really nice and sunny when we got back to the campsite so we decided to change into t-shirts and explore the beach. I haven't explored tide pools since I was a kid and I found a renewed pleasure in petting anemones and looking for crabs. We found a ton of anemones, a couple crabs, a starfish and even a couple jellyfish. I was really hoping to see orcas and otters but no such luck. It was so peaceful to sit in the fall sunshine listening to the waves on the rocks as the salt air blew across my face and through my hair. I truly love the west coast.

After a short nap in the sun and a walk on the beach we headed back to Ganges for some gelato. There is a really great mostly organic gelato place called Saltspring Gelato, we've bought their stuff at grocery stores before but it's fun to try different flavors and window shop while eating gelato.
Saturday night ended up being quite windy so we had dinner early and hunkered down in our tent for a wild night. We actually thought the wind had blown the fly off a couple times but we made it through unscathed.
Sunday we packed up the tent and headed off to the annual Apple Festival. I'm going to do a separate post about the apple festival because it was that cool. We also visited Mistaken Identity Vineyard which is new organic winery on the island. It is beautiful place for a picnic and their wine is pretty good too. We also stopped by Saltspring Woodworks on the way to the ferry. They had some really interesting and beautiful things on display. It think it really inspired Jon to do some more woodwork of his own.
It is fall on the island and everyone knows it. From the wreaths on the doors to the apple goodies or stunning fall colors. Saltspring was great escape and I left this island feeling refreshed and with an even greater love for the west coast. I think Saltspring is worth a visit for anyone and I can't wait for my next trip back.