Sunday, December 26, 2010

Creekside Farm

Magpie's diner, my tiny restaurant, has been quite successful with a simple business plan. No secret, I just serve good sized portions, with most of the food made from scratch using local ingredients. It's a simple plan and it works!

I buy my eggs from Creekside farm, here in Powell River. The owners, Kathy and Alan, have about 100 chickens that supply all my egg needs. In addition, they have cattle, pigs, ducks and turkeys. I purchased a turkey from them for Christmas, I can't for the life of me remember the name of the turkey, but it's very close to a wild turkey. The breast is not as white as commercial turkeys, and the dark meat is much darker. The taste was fabulous and the meat was very juicy.

Their 6 pigs all gave birth over the last month or so with the last litter born just a few weeks ago. I picked up my turkey last week and was able to see the little piglets, oh my are they ever cute.

This little guy is the runt of the litter and had a tough start when his mom stepped on his ear and tore it. Al and Kathy were not at all convinced he would make it but they hand fed him for the first 24 hours and tied his ears so the gash could heal. Although smaller than his litter mates, he is full of life and wrestles and plays with the rest of the piglet crew!

Interested in eating local in Powell River? Give Kathy and Al a call at 604-485-7737, they offer free run eggs, fresh and frozen, free range turkeys, chickens and ducks.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And today the days...

..start getting a little longer..just a minute or two...

I start to think about the garden, what will I grow this year? How will I lay out my veggies? I take a look at my favorite seed catalogs, and

Do I have time to add a new flower bed? Probably! Will I have time to maintain it? Probably not!

Do I have time to plant one rose? Probably! Will I have time to maintain it? Probably!

So I won't make a new flower bed but I'll plant a new rose. I adore roses, and want to get a rose garden started, one rose at a time. Not sure yet what kind I'll plant this year, but it will have to bloom continuously, be fragrant, and disease resistant, am I asking too much?

But...two things I look forward to the most...
Time on the lake with friends and family.

and backyard barbecues under the grapevine.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas at my house...

Lights are up!

Tree is up!

Rudolph is here! My boys made these in Cub Scouts 25 years ago.

This angel has topped 31 trees from Christmas past!

This manger has also been with me for 31 years!

Some new, some old decorations.

The baking? Well it's a work in progress.

So am I ready for Christmas??? Absolutely, can't wait.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Brown Sugar

Have you ever started baking only to find out you have run out of an ingredient? Now don't tell me...I know already! I should have all my ingredients ready before I start baking to avoid this very problem. Well smart I'm not so that explains that!

Anyway I was reading one of my many favorite blogs, Simple, Green, Frugal Co-Op and read a post about making brown sugar, it's dead simple! I made only enough for some butter tart squares and it turned our really well.

I added 2 tablespoons of molasses to a cup of sugar. Next time I'll only use 1 tablespoon, it came out quite dark.

Then I mixed it with a fork, which didn't work very well, so I used the best tools I have, my hands, and a bigger bowl, mixed for a few minutes, and there it is, brown sugar.

Give it try, it's really very simple and tastes just like brown sugar, actually better, it has more flavour.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fire in the sky

Today I decided to walk the Wildwood clear cut. I don't know the story behind the clear cut but for the most part all the evergreen trees were cut down and now the clear cut is growing alders, tall grasses, salal, blackberries and other plants that I'm not familiar with. Now you may think ugh!!! a clear cut, not very pretty, but the clear cut now allows for beautiful views of the ocean, Vancouver Island and some smaller islands. Daylight was quickly dwindling so I could not make my way to my very favorite spot, that picture will have to wait for longer days but I was able to catch a beautiful sunset.

The start of the clear cut area.

Small tree grove with beautiful views just beyond it.

Just a little further.

Ah, here we are!

Savary Island off in the distance.

And finally, fire in the sky!

To see more beautiful pictures of the sky from around the world please visit the Skywatch website.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

The beast....

Is loose in my house and dropping clumps of fur!!!!!

And doesn't he look sorry for himself?

Brushing him every day, vacuuming every day but Art came up with a good plan. We will wrap this little gal with tape, sticky side out, and let her loose on the floor...

Problem solved!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Santa was here!!!!

Psst!!!! Mia, Santa is coming?

This is my first Christmas nonna, who's Santa?

Wait, you will see him soon! But first let's enjoy the Powell River Santa parade.

And here is the big man himself, yeah Santa!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Need some pants....

I purchased some jean material at my favorite fabric, yarn and craft store, Dressew on one of my Vancouver trips. Finally I have a chance to get started and so far they are cut, zig zagged, and inside seams sewn...almost there!

I'll post pictures when finished...but only if the pants fit and look decent!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A break in the storm...

Sunset is about an hour away and there is a break in the storm as I look across Malaspina Strait from Powell River towards Comox.

Today is Skywatch Friday, for pictures of the sky from around the world please click here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Great dad!

Look at what my dad can do? This is almost like show and tell. Anyway...I never, ever thought my dad had an artsy streak in him but turns out he does. When he retired he struggled for a bit, after all, he worked many, many years and then to find himself with nothing to do was difficult. He dabbled in a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a gardener he was not, nor did he like to fix or reno the house, he did what he had to do but he never had any grand plans. Nope, taking down walls, refinishing the beautiful wood floors under the carpet, painting ... that was not for him.

He built a cement pond with underwater lights and fountains...but then what? He put together a huge train set, with villages, trees, people, fauna and flora, but once done then what?

I'm not sure how he got onto it but he began making wood toys and gadgets and selling them at Christmas craft fairs. He started off with little wood cars and trains, wall hangings, moved onto little bigger toys like wood planes made to scale, and then graduated to the big stuff... rocking horses. Well here it is...the rocking horse!

I never thought to take a picture of my dad's other art pieces, but you can see part of the scooters he makes on the top left hand of the below picture.

Now my mom???? She can make something out of nothing, but that story has to wait for another post...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday special at Magpie's

Cheesy corned beef hash.

A very loyal customer loves it so much that this is now a regular Sunday special and I hold some back for his Monday breakfast...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

And the angels....

played and dusted my part of the world with icing sugar... it's beautiful!

The diner closed...Snow day...

Art didn't think much of the snow as he checked the boat.

But Powell lake was beautiful under a cover of snow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010's cold

We are in a cold snap and lucky me I have a warm and toasty house but what about the chickens? Half of them still don't all have all their feathers so they must be cold...what to do?

Art figured it out...he hung the food warmer from the diner, we have never used it, and hung it from the ceiling in the chicken coop. They are nice and toasty under a red light.

Looks silly but it works like a charm.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A miracle...

This is my granddaughter Mia, she is so cute, she is just finishing some yogurt.

This is what the doctor at Vancouver Children's Hospital pulled out of Mia's throat.

Now for the story.

About a month ago my daughter in law was quite certain that Mia swallowed her earring but sadly no one really believed her. We knew it was possible but likely improbable.

During the month Mia was very unhappy, could not sleep, could not eat solid food without gagging, coughing ... she just was not her usual self.

She went to the doctor, to the emergency, to x-ray, back to the doctor, on medications and still no change. Finally the last x-ray found the earring, in her throat, hanging close to her esophagus.

From Powell River, Mia was sent to Vancouver Children's hospital where she spent two very long days, most of the time without food, as she prepared for surgery.

There were two scenarios, the earring could be pulled out through her mouth, no cutting or, invasive surgery, cutting her throat, to get the earring out.

The miracle?

It came out easily through the mouth, left a little scratch in her throat, and that was it.

She is now home, ready to take her first steps, sleeping and happily eating yogurt and jello.

No solid food for a little's orders.

My life...the way it used to be

I've been very uncomfortable for several flashes, I laugh, I cry, I hate, night sweats, yup...menopause.

I've decided that I will no longer suffer and have opted for medical relief.

It's not a decision that I made quickly, it's taken several years and in that time I've tried lots of things, sage tea for hot flashes, melatonin to help me sleep, natural fibre clothes to keep me cool, I seldom drink alcohol anymore. Nothing worked and to top it all off I felt bi-polar, up one minute, crashing the next, crying over the silliest things...

I consulted with my doctor, discussed the risks, and dicided that hormone replacement therapy is right for me. There is risk but my doctor and I will manage that risk.

I'm into my third week and I'm back to old self. I'm sleeping at night and I might actually go out and buy a coat this year to keep me warm through winter, I can hardly believe it.

So here's to me, the way I used to be.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Too soon....

My Christmas cactus is blooming....IT'S NOT CHRISTMAS YET....but these little blossoms make me so happy!

My good friend Niamh gave this to me many years ago.."it needs a new mommy"
Well Niamh, it's doing great and still hanging in there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunset Park walk

Even though the weather is wet, gray and cold the dog must walk. If it wasn't for him I probably would sit, not likely in front of the TV, but sit none the less. Those sad eyes, that little whimper, the thumping tail whenever I peek at him from the corner of my eye...all scream out to me "LETS GO WALKING".

At this time of year, with the shorter days, I stick to walking in my neighbourhood, the Wellingdon beach trail and the sea walk, which are a drive away, will have to wait for Summer.

Lucky for me Sunset park is just a few blocks away. In the summer this beautiful park hosts many baseball games, family outings, school sports days, the annual soap box derby, kids playing on the swings and dog walkers. Today not one person or dog was taking advantage of the park, it was there just for me and my pal Seiko.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Diner...quote of the day

I have to set this up for you first. As you know Art and I own/operate Magpie's diner. I'm the cook and Art, my husband, runs the front of the house. Neither of us have ever done our current jobs in the past but I was a waitress for many years when I was younger...anyways....

Today was a busy, busy day but it's almost the end of the day and an adult son, his mom, and his little girl come in for lunch. This is their second time and they love our burgers, so two burgers are ordered and the little gal is having a simple grilled cheese sandwich, Art took the order.

I'm getting the food together and notice the grilled cheese has no bread preference, white or I ask Art " do you want white or brown on that grilled cheese?" Now you have to understand that out of 10 orders Art will ask about the bread type ONCE....we are fast approaching our one year in business, you would think he'd know to ask by now...

Anyway, the answer to the white or brown bread question? "Oh I don't care all that much, either one will do".

Now you know why my hair is almost all white....

Saturday, November 6, 2010


The dictionary defines "giddy" as silly and impulsive...well then... call me silly and impulsive.

Are there ever times, when quite unexpectedly, something, makes you giddy with happiness, makes you feel as though all is well in this world, gives you a sense of well being....for me it's often something simple, maybe something I see in nature, or around my house, it usually costs nothing and it only takes a minute of my time, to stop, to see it, to savour it, to live it...

the fog lifting with a hint of blue sky behind it
fabric, yarn, and thread
a bird bathing in a puddle
a colorful sunset
big, big trees
soaring eagles
starting - finishing a project
an empty dishwasher
August skies - the blue is bluer than any other month, well in my eyes...
starting a new book, I can hardly stand the anticipation...
So many other things...
what makes you giddy?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Banana Muffins

It's been some time since my last post but with lots going on I'm finding it hard to spend time on the computer.

And to top it all off I've been down in the dumps for a little while. The diner has been quite slow and I was getting worried, where oh where are my customers?
A new bistro opened up a little while ago and together with the new Tim Horton's, Magpie's has suffered. So I've been thinking of extending my hours, opening for dinner once or twice a week...wondering all the while, really? More hours? How am I going to pull this off?

I've decided against all that, I'm just going to stick to my plan, my hours, my menu. I have seen some increase in my revenue over the last week and I'm confident the novelty of the new restaurants will wear off and things will go back to normal, well somewhat normal...

Business aside, what else is normal for me? Baking muffins! It's been storming here...a nice day or two followed by huge winds and sideways rain, perfect baking weather, try these next time the wind and rain picks up in your neck of the woods.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - slightly modified from the Joy of Baking website

1 cup chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 ripe large bananas - approx 1 1/2 cup
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter or spray a muffin pan that bakes 6 jumbo muffins, however a regular 12 muffin pan will work.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and chocolate chips.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, until just combined.

DO NOT OVER MIX, lumps are fine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins. Bake about 30 to 35 for the large muffins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and cool for a few more minutes. With coffee, tea or a big glass of cold milk, this is a great "pick me up" .