Well, what’s a vacation and a big house move without a recap post, right? I promised pictures of my trip and the big move in, and I always deliver on promises. So let’s start at the top shall we?
The kitchen of this house is A-MAY-ZING. It’s my dream really and all it needed was an island to be perfect. Thank you Ikea Calgary! I have always admired Ikea’s quaint kitchen gear and accessories and I finally have a house to showcase them. Isla especially likes the cabinets near the sink, the perfect hidey hole.
Oh, did I mention the double oven? Something I’ve never “always wanted”, but something I’d love to have in my own house one day when I am an owner again…That little oven is just so damned convenient.
This little pot rack, however, is something I’ve always wanted. Such a quick and easy place to keep your most used pots, pans and sometimes utensils. I love this thing…so much so that we bought two! Who knows what we’ll be doing with the second one though, I’ll keep you posted.
Something I really love in this kitchen is the little rustic touches that appear everywhere. The stained fir floors are old and creaky but in great condition and add that “character house” feel, and there is this exposed brick on the corner of the far wall. I love it.
This is our unofficial “breakfast nook”, complete with freshly reupholstered chairs (a DIY project I do not care to repeat….ever.). Soon there will be a fold down table that attaches to the wall and folds down when not in use (Ikea again!). We sit here every morning and drink our coffee together while we watch the sun rise. It’s glorious.
Here is Cohen’s favourite piece of the backyard, the “dirt pile”. Something his father grew up with and just so happened to already be on the property as the owners had recently filled the garden. Cohen plays here most days (followed by a bath) and can spend many hours playing with Domino, our puggle. Cohen doesn’t often play by himself, so this has been a great time saver for me!
Here is the back of the house looking towards the side door to the kitchen on the patio. The bottom window on the right is the master bedroom with French doors that open onto a flagstone patio. It’s just such a great little spot overlooking another garden space. I’ve never had so much garden space in my life that is already filled with beautiful flowers, currants, blueberries, hazelnuts, prune plums, etc. It’s going to be a lot of upkeep, but I think I am up for the challenge.
Speaking of challenges, here is the big one. This garden is huge! At least 18′ x 30′, plus another smaller one on the left. There are parsnips, potatoes and brussels sprouts already planted, plus a row of tender lettuces that we just planted. We are a little behind on the sowing of seeds this year, but so is the weather, so I’m not too worried. Everything should be in the ground by Sunday if it all works out as planned.
Have I mentioned that we bought some new chicks as well? The little beige-y coloured ones are Buff Orpingtons and we got two of the darker coloured, Hylines. We bought 11 Buffs and plan on keeping two for egg production as well as the Hylines. The other 9 are for, well, meat. This will be our first time raising our own meat, so I’m pretty excited and somewhat nervous. We won’t be doing the slaughtering ourselves, but maybe one day!
We got the chickens on our way home from the vacation at a little place in Chilliwack called Beau Peep Farms. They had quite a selection but only took cash and we had a limited quantity on us. I could have gone overboard I was so excited about having chicks! Sadly our bylaws limit us to ten birds on our small property, so we are already over on that. Hopefully we won’t have a problem as the birds won’t be around long.
We’ve been spending as much time out in the fantastic back yard as possible, but the weather has been somewhat chilly lately. For May, it’s awfully cold around here. When we have had warm weather though, even the grandparents have gotten in on it and spend time with the grandkids out in the flowers and grass. So sweet!
When we finally did make it out for our vacation, our first stop was at a little bed and breakfast in Penticton, BC called Eden View B & B. It was a great little place set in wonderful surroundings overlooking Okanagan Lake. There were horses and ducks on the property, though they were surrounded in somewhat not so child friendly electric fencing. We didn’t get too close. The breakfast served to us was beyond fantastic though, complete with homemade bread and jams. After a short two day stay in Penticton, we were off to Calgary, a long 9 hour drive. With two young kids in the car, we made it in record time with zero problems. I could hardly believe it!
My first view of the Rockies was spectacular, though I was driving and could only take short peeps. I usually let Adrian do all of the driving but I had good reason to take over from him on this trip. I’ll explain: we recently both downloaded a calorie and nutrition app on our iPhones called “My Net Diary Pro” which helps you track your intake of nutrients, calories, fats, and also keeps track of your weight, goals and exercise for the day. It has helped me exponentially in my goals to remain healthy, fit and strong. Well, when I entered “driving” into the exercise section I was surprised to find out that an average woman (150 lbs.) burns 136 calories per hour! I couldn’t believe it! After a long day of sitting as a passenger, I pretty much told Adrian that it was my turn to drive. If I had to sit in a car for 8+ hours, I was at least going to get a workout! Driving to Calgary burned over 1000 calories and I kept my weight in check the whole trip…which is nothing short of a miracle for me. As you know, I love my food and on vacation I go for broke, usually. This time I kept myself accountable and managed to not gain one ounce.
Having never driven over the Rocky mountains, I had also never been to Banff. Well I wasn’t going to just drive by without a glimpse of it’s famous city streets and mountain views. So we stopped in for a coffee and a touristy quick visit around. I loved it there, what a beautiful place. It’s no wonder it is so famous. Set in surroundings such as it is, it’s a wonder it’s not four times as populated as it is.
I managed to talk everyone into going to the zoo for one of our days in Calgary. Cohen has never seen any of the animals kept there and it was a most enlightening experience for him. We even got a family portrait with me in it, courtesy of Grandpa, Dirk Nyland. Thanks Dirk! I am in so few pictures, as I am the one who takes them all. Evidenced by the Nikon strapped to my body in the shot.
One of our favourite animals to see was the Asian elephants. We arrived at the zoo just as the gates opened (we’re early risers..) and we got to visit the elephants just as they were getting their morning baths. There was not a single other person in the pachyderm exhibit, so we got our own peaceful little show. It was pretty magical for a three year old, not to mention my other son, my husband. He seemed pretty enamored with the elephants. I once rode an elephant at a circus when I was a little kid, but I don’t think they do that anymore, as it seems a bit cruel. I know you can ride elephants in Thailand too, but there they are working animals are probably fairly used to it. There’s just something about elephants that everyone loves. Their intelligence is just so palpable.
Of course, there was some silly fun to be had as well…Cohen tried very hard to get in this giant kangaroo the right way around…and Dirk rubbed this Ganesh-like statue’s belly for some good luck.
Of course, we were in Calgary for a great reason: the marriage of Ben and Mel. It was a great little ceremony and a fantastic reception with amazing food. Mini-sliders, tiny Chinese take-out containers, crab cakes and not a slab of meat to seen anywhere! No Alberta Beef! It was delicious! I love a good cocktail reception and we all had an amazing time. It was held downtown Calgary in the Hotel Arts and it was just beautiful. Congrats to Ben and Mel and good luck in Paris! (I’m so jealous!)
Even the kids seemed to have a good time, Cohen got his groove on and Isla stuffed her face for most of the night, then we cabbed it back to our rented house at 8:30pm. Like I said, we’re early riser…seems to be the curse of having such young kids. One day I’ll stay up past 11pm again…one day.
Beef cheeks may not be the easiest thing to find, but if you ever see them, buy a few and freeze them as cooked long enough at low enough temperatures, beef cheeks are some of the most melt-in-your-mouth tasty meats around. They are simply the richest, most flavourful piece of beef I’ve ever had. Try it once and you will be converted!
One Year Ago: Cobb Salad
Braised Beef Cheeks
Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 hours
2 beef cheeks
1/4 cup sherry
1/2-1 tsp Chinese five spice
2 tbsp butter or even better, duck fat
sea salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, sliced very thinly
1. (Optional) In a very hot heavy pan (cast iron would be the best option), sear the cheeks on both sides for approximately 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set in a slow cooker.
2. Pour the sherry over top, sprinkle the cheeks liberally with Chinese five spice, toss in the butter (or duck fat), season to taste with salt and sprinkle the garlic over top.
3. Set the slow cooker to “low” and allow to cook uninterrupted for 8 hours.
4. When finished, remove from slow cooker gently (as they will be delicate and fall apart easily at this stage, and serve with accompanying vegetables or mashed potatoes. We tried serving with celery root mash, which was wonderful, but they are also good with just a side salad or simple seasonal steamed vegetables.
Similarly delicious food from other fabulous food blogs: