One of the first recipes that I published on Linden & Lavender was Lemon Spelt Madeleines with Seasonal Poached Pears and Rose Crème Anglaise. I thought it was a masterpiece, that it would go viral and supportive family members would run out to purchase the obscure madeleine molds. Needless to say, I was shocked when no one commented and there was very little response to the recipe. How little I knew about blogging, marketing and food photography in 2016! I’m pleased to say that I have come a long way since that time (but there is a long way to go). I am still learning and challenging myself weekly. Admittedly, I do get distracted by new things which probably slows down my progress but I know it is not a race in which there is any winner. I’m working against myself but more importantly, for myself. Did I mention I’m that I picked up weaving and that I’m obsessed with gardening?! This is what keeps me working late into the night. The lack of sleep feels worth it if I get the opportunity to create. Is there anything that you’ve been wanting try try or explore outside of your full-time job? I’ve just started diving into these curiosities instead of thinking to myself “one day, when I have more time...” because life is for living now.Read More
Welcome 2019! Happy belated New Year, readers!
It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through January. I’ve been taking my time to write this blog post because I’ve been focusing on planning and getting off to the right start for myself and my family. Also, my writing flow is rusty as it was put to the side too often in the second half of the past year.
Goodbye 2018. It was a year of intense and beautiful growth for my family. There were a lot of firsts, first steps, first piano lesson, first skate. It was the year that we turned our old house into our home. The year that I healed my knee and made small steps forward in my photography. I’ve written this before, but I find it difficult to move on when I’ve had an enjoyable time. There is so much to be thankful for and so many fleeting moments. I was the child who never wanted summer to end and as an adult, I want my vacations to last longer, to spend extra time with my kiddos as babes, toddlers and all of the wonderful childhood stages and also, to have that extra piece of pie and be the last person at my best friend’s party. 2018 was a wonderful year and in order to let it go, I’ve started something new. I recently went through a thorough reflection process for 2018. It occurred over the period of a week and involved pages and pages of writing in my black leather catchall book for recipes, dreams and plans. The writing process was both cathartic and served as a method to be accountable to myself. In retrospect, I should have been doing this for years, but I had to get over the hurdle of feeling like I was wasting time.
In reality, I have wasted time spinning my wheels. Being indecisive and uncertain. Afraid to make a mistake I suppose. In this state of unawareness, it is not fully possible to “live in the moment” as we’re encouraged to do. And really, I could continue on this way. It is easy to put off dreams for the future or to claim that now is not the right time especially in the throes of early motherhood. Being busy and tired does make it difficult to focus. I’ve finally realized, 6.5 years after becoming a mother for the first time, that it takes a different strategy to make things happen, it takes thoughtful planning.
A winter storm approaches as I write this. A storm that includes near constant freezing rain leading to 20 mm of ice accumulation. This morning, the winds picked up. As they wrapped around the house they made an eerie, high-pitched whistling noise that makes it sound colder outside than it actually is. Storm windows shake and draughts add a chill to the the house.
My husband has left with the children and the grandparents to grocery shop but we all joke that they’re picking up supplies should the storm shut down our normal routine and force us indoors. It seems absurd that we should find a looming ice storm comical, but I think that hints at our alarmist news stations and the difficulty in accurately predicting weather. “But I don't predict it. Nobody does, 'cause i-it's just wind. It's wind. It blows all over the place. What the f*! ” (Dave Spritz, played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film, The Weather Man).
These types of storms are no laughing matter if they hit. I recall the Quebec, New Brunswick and eastern Ontario ice storm of 1998. The photos of it are haunting as trees toppled onto homes and cars. People were stranded in their communities, afraid to leave their home because the weight of the ice made trees and structures unsteady, ready to snap at any moment. Downed electrical wires sparked and some homes were without power for weeks in the winter. It was declared a state of emergency and the Canadian Armed Forces were called in. In the end, a total of 35 fatalities happened as a result of the storm.
In remembrance of that natural disaster, writers have not just discussed the statistics but have been grateful for how the community came together during a time of crisis. Everyone helping where they could.
People remember the darkness and their reliance on candles after sundown. The lack of distraction from the television and the natural conversations the ensued. In a recent article, Julie Scott wrote about her experiences in Montreal during the ice storm when her family was without electricity and relied upon candles after sundown. The situation at the time was far from idyllic but was also a blessing in disguise as it forced family members to spend time with one another. From that experience, she writes about a practice she calls “Candle Hour”. Candle hour involves turning the lights and screens off about an hour before bed and relying upon candles as a light source. It embraces the notion of truly relaxing by reading a book or simply enjoying the flicker of a flame. No screens or beeping or wine. Just time to wind down and cut off the exposure of blue-spectrum light.
Abrupt events in our life have a lasting impact. For some, it inspires change and a learning opportunity. No matter what happens with the storm, I was sure to stock up on candles.
Originally, I had planned that this post would have more of a festive theme but the words didn’t come. The holiday snacking cake is now gone and still, not a festive thought in my head.
All week, I thought about the upcoming weekend. During a heatwave in July, I had received tickets to The National concert in Toronto. The concert, once so far away, was just around the corner (December 9th, to be exact). Packing had to be done, the house had to be tidied and last-minute arrangements made. I am always anxious leading up to a weekend away but once I am on the road, I am at ease.
I was introduced to The National one evening at a friend’s house. Conversation gave way to listening to the music on Dark was the Night; an album of fierce talent and creativity by both known and lesser known indie bands. The song, “So Far Around the Bend”, became a sort of anthem for my husband and I. We soon devoured the albums they released and eagerly awaited their new releases.
Has this ever happened to you? You finally have a solid hour to edit that paper, apply for that academic award, write the first draft of a blog post or edit a collection of photos. You sit down and stare at your computer. Nothing happens. You’re uninspired and slightly distracted. You try to make something happen as you want to get something done and not waste time. You decide to check your email and notice that you have 2 unread emails. They won’t take long to sort out so you dive in. After 45 minutes, you have now sorted those emails but what about the task at hand? Instead of an hour, you now have 15 minutes to complete it. In the end, you get only part of it completed or, even more frustrating, you haven’t yet started. Gasp.
It’s all too easy to get distracted these days. To get some of the little and easy things done but not some of hard and messy ones. This has happened to me many times but I have learned some lessons along the way. One way to increase concentration is to work in a library or someone else’s office. There are no distractions when you are forced to be quiet and the lack of familiar surroundings and people may reduce interruptions. But, how to combat this when you’re working from home? I have developed a routine that helps me focus instead of feeling like this.
Strawberry season is glorious. And, it passed about two months ago! For two months, I have been sitting on this strawberry galette recipe. Making it and remaking it. Improvising at the cottage. Eating and sharing all versions.
Finally, it is done. I view this post as one last shout-out to summer. Star gazing, flexible schedules, eating outdoors. The summer that came and went in the blink of an eye. Summer weather that failed to launch. But, it was so good, wasn’t it?
Summer is a celebration of fruits and vegetables but the star of the show, for me, is the strawberry. Ripening in late June and early July, it kicks off the whole season. This galette is made with spelt flour so the end version has more of a rustic feel. Don’t worry about making the edges even or if the filling runs out while cooking. The genius of the galette is that it is perfectly imperfect.