Here and Now

Here and Now

We don’t know where we are going. Our house has been on the market for 19 months and we’ve had numerous deals fall through.

But for now I am in my happy place: at Lindell Beach, in the woods, with the dogs and Jim and surrounded by nature. The air is so fresh and life is simple and peaceful here.IMG_4584

We brought our travel trailer here in April – 2 weeks in, one week in storage, 2 weeks in….and we did that right through April and May. In June I took a part time job at the park which meant that we paid a site rental, and didn’t have to move the trailer.

ALL of this was to avoid the constant housekeeping and foo-fooing we were having to do for showings…showings that came through at about once a week or even less. But still it was a shit-ton of work. It was distracting and fun setting up our semi-permanent site.

IMG_E4592In fairness, it was tight living in such a small space, BUT we did have the great outdoors and it wasn’t an issue. I cooked outside and we sat round our campfire every night and talked. We didn’t watch TV. We didn’t surf the interwebs. We just were here.

One day in early August I was taking the dogs for a walk and I noticed that a beautiful, permanent 5th wheel four sites along from us was for sale. The sign had literally just gone up. I went back and told Jim and we went to see Jack and Shirley…and they told us that they were selling their annual site and their rig because of serious health issues and invited us to come and look.

We looked, we loved it, and we made an offer all within a couple of days – mainly spurred by me seeing the amount of interest that people were showing as I went about my campground duties.

So, we are now the proud, happy owners of an enormous 50ft long Fifth wheel that we will never move! It’s on an annual site…so we don’t HAVE to!

I have made it home. It has a walk-in pantry, a fireplace, and a double door ice-maker fridge. There’s so much storage I have empty cupboards. I took the doors off two of the cupboards under the fireplace and put doggie cushions in, and the girls hang out in them all the time.

I’ve brought stuff with me that makes it feel like home and honestly resent every single day I DON’T get to spend here.

Site 75. Come see us – you’re very welcome.

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RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 1: Say No More Often

Resolution 2: Less Shit More Fun

I’m a people pleaser: firmly in the “better to give than to receive” category.

Ironically, while I love helping other people, I find it hard to accept help and I certainly never ask for it. Doubly ironic is that I know quite a few other type A people who are the same and they drive me crazy.

Gift giving and surprising people with treats is one of my favorite things – but I am awkward when being on the receiving end and have to work really hard at being gracious and accepting.

When I ‘m asked to do something, or to help, because I feel flattered, I rarely refuse. So in 2018, I am trying to say “no” more often because I tend to take on too much and become overwhelmed.

I WANT to make a difference, and I NEED to feel like I am contributing – but It must be worth it. It must be fulfilling: otherwise it’s a waste of time and energy.

Years ago, one of my bosses coined the phrase “Shit to Fun Ratio” which tickled my fancy and is my measuring tool for staying/continuing anything: Jobs, clubs, relationships, committees, projects…whatever.

Does it make me happy? Do I feel fulfilled – or do I just feel frustration and the need to kill someone?

Every situation has it’s share of crap to deal with. It’s when the crap is out of proportion to the fun and feel-good that you’ve got to know it’s time to say “sayonara”.

Leaving is hard – it’s always easier said than done, which is quite a dilemma. When you’re in the throes of making the decision, you tend to focus on what you’re going to MISS and LOSE – not what you’re going to gain. Last night I was at a party and was shocked to hear of a decision a friend had made. After a series of frustrations, she decided that the best thing for her to do (for HER) was to quit. She’d tried to fix things from within to no avail and was just DONE. I was sad but proud of her at the same time but it’s given me a jolt.

Recently I joined the board of Gwynne Vaughan Park which is a charitably society and I am love, love, LOVING it.

I have never worked with, or been part of, a group of people so friendly and welcoming.

They’re united by their love of the park, and they’re all gardeners. Members of the society are called “Friends”, which is how everyone is treated, and it’s genuine – nothing fake or forced about it.

Everyone works hard, with a big smile on their face…and there’s always a tea/coffee break built in. Anyone is welcome and their help is gratefully received and thoroughly appreciated.

I’ve been tentative in getting involved – not wanting to step on any toes or wade in and cause offence by being too forthright, or pushy.

But this group – oh my goodness! There are no big egos…not a sign of “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.

Instead I’ve experienced complete open mindedness, a thirst for new ideas and a willingness to try different approaches. They’re practical and pragmatic and well organized and I’ve observed how they appreciate and acknowledge everyone’s expertise. It’s a pleasure and a bit of a culture shock. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.

Nice segue back to the Shit to Fun Ratio.

Crunch time is approaching for me to make some tough calls. I’m trying hard to weigh pros and cons. I am soul searching to see how much change I can create through having a different attitude and approach to the way things are working (or not). For me not caring isn’t an option.

So, in the end I will make a choice. I will choose less shit and more fun.

Happy New Year!

#work #Park

Blueberry Lemon Glazed Scones

Sometimes I think I’ve actually become my mother because I make scones now once or twice every week.

My Grandmother was a dab hand at baking scones and hers were deliciously flaky and loaded with plump sultanas. She served them warm with lashings of butter. I am pretty sure she baked them practically every day. Only one of her daughters had the slightest interest in cooking or baking and luckily for me, that was my Mum.

She would knock up a batch of scones at the drop of a hat…usually they were fruit (of the dried variety) though sometimes she’d make cheese ones at lunchtime. Yummy. I used to always think she worked so quickly because she was short of time or in a rush but I now realise it was because of the SECRET of good scone or biscuit making.

In the few short days Mum was in the hospice after a very short illness and a last-minute diagnosis of terminal cancer, we would sit around her bed, knowing better than to try to shut her up. She would not stop talking. Not for a minute. She told us stories, jokes and anecdotes. And she gave us all her favourite recipes, which we took down word for word. She didn’t skip a beat, lose her train of thought or miss a single detail of how to make our favourite treats. She was giving us her scone recipe and she paused for effect. She said:

“A scone shouldn’t know it’s being made”

Don’t mess with it or fuss with it. Get them in the oven as soon as possible.

Since starting my B&B I am always on the look-out for excellent breakfast baked goods.I’ve tried lots of different scone recipes and this one from Tyler Florence is my absolute favourite.

I had an email from a guest that stayed here just after Christmas and she wanted to know if the recipe was a family heirloom…so here it is for you Kyndre!

BLUEBERRY LEMON GLAZED SCONES

SCONES

2 cups plain flour (sifted)

1 tbspn baking powder

1/2 tspn salt

4 tbspn sugar

5 tbspn unsalted butter (cold out of the fridge)

1 cup fresh blueberries

zest of one lemon

1 cup heavy cream

LEMON GLAZE

1 Tbspn butter

juice of one lemon

3 tbspn confectioners sugar

Pre-heat oven to 400°

Sift flour and mix together with baking powder, sugar, lemon zesy and salt

Cut the butter into the mixture with a pastry knife, or rub it in

Gently fold blueberries into the dry ingredients being careful not to burst them

Make a well in the middle of the mix and add the cream, then stir carefully with a metal spoon to combine

Tip onto a floured board and with lightly floured hands pat the dough into a round circle

Slice into 8 wedges or cut into rounds with a pastry cutter. Brush the tops with heavy cream.

Place scones onto an ungreased baking tray and bake for 15-20 mins until the tops are slightly golden.

Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

While the scones are cooling, melt the glaze butter in the microwave. Add the icing sugar and stir to a smooth paste. Add lemon juice and stir til the sugar is dissolved. When the scones are cooled, glaze them.

Another thing Mum told us really only sunk in recently, and I think in hindsight she was talking about herself…

“If a cat has kittens in the oven, it doesn’t make them a biscuit”

Forty five years in New Zealand didn’t make her a kiwi. She was English to the core.

I understand.

#baking #recipes #scones #blueberries

Lovecakes Gourmet Cupcakes

Lovecakes Bakery was a huge part of my life for several years and I got so much satisfaction from seeing people truly enjoying my baking and being thrilled and amazed by the decorating.

I cringe, absolutely squirm in my seat, when I see pics of some of my earliest icing attempts. Dear Lord.

But I did get better and since there is no longer any record, anywhere, of my creations (I’ve closed the website and facebook pages) I thought I’d post some of my favourite cake pictures here for posterity.

#cakes #cupcakes #lovecakes #baking #recipes #bacon #chocolate #pinacolada #rainbow #maplesyrup #oreos #cookiesandcream

Egg Free Banana & Coconut Pancakes

One of the questions I ask guests before they arrive is “do you have any allergies or food preferences?”

It is so much better to be prepared and nothing worse than being told right before breakfast that someone is lactose intolerant or allergic to eggs.

I prepare my buttermilk pancake batter the night before so it can do its bubbly, ferment-y thing. So when the nice German couple arrived home from dinner and Stephi told me she was lactose intolerant I had to find a plan B.

I had coconut milk. I love coconut.

I found lots of coconut pancake recipes but after reading them I wasn’t really convinced any of them were what I was looking for. I made one batch with coconut flour but it was brown and soft and unsubstantial.

I made another recipe and it was ok…pretty nice actually. But there was something missing. So I mashed up a ripe banana and mixed it into the batter.

The pancakes were awesome. Soft and tender with rich creamy banana and the crunch of coconut. Drizzled with maple syrup and topped with a sprinkle of toasted coconut, it makes such a nice change.

I am not admitting to the “squirty cream” on top.

Ingredients

1¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 mashed ripe banana

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 egg, beaten

½ cup buttermilk

¾ cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon melted butter for batter

coconut spray for the pan/griddle

Instructions

Lightly mix all dry ingredients together.

Add all wet ingredients to the beaten egg and combine well.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until incorporated. Don’t over mix.

In a hot skillet or griddle, add a pat of butter if needed to coat pan.

Over medium-hot heat drop rounds of batter and let cook until bubbles begin to pop in center of pancake, about 2 minutes.

Flip pancake and cook for an additional minute or so until golden brown. Test cook surface and temperature, and adjust cook time accordingly.

Pear & Pecan Ricotta Galette

This pie was almost like a “Pantry Challenge”:

I bought a huge bag of pears on special at Superstore and wanted to make something that would be good for breakfast.

I also had ricotta in the fridge – I bought it at Costco for gnocchi and of course only needed ONE of the 2 tubs, so finding a use for the second one was becoming critical.

I scoured dozens of recipes…and finally settled on a pear and ricotta galette which I adapted to make it more “Canadian”, eh. In other words I swapped out the walnuts in the original recipe for pecans.

What I love about this pie is that it would make a brilliant dessert but it’s equally perfect as a breakfast baked treat. It is like a way-less-sugary Danish.

This is a fabulous crust – really flaky and buttery and has just enough crunch.

Ingredients:

Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tspn salt

1 tbspn white sugar

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter

6 tbspn iced water

Filling:

6 Bartlett Pears (or similar firm pears) peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 tbspn brown sugar

1/2 tspn ground cinnamon

200 g ricotta cheese

1/2 cup pecan pieces

Honey or Maple Syrup for drizzling

Directions:

Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add finely choppedd butter and pulse until crumbly. Pour water over mixture and pulse until a crumbly dough forms. Remove from processor, roll into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Toss pears with brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon and set aside.Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; roll dough into a 12-inch circle on top of the baking sheet. Sprinkle a thin layer of flour on top of the dough to prevent the crust from getting soggy.

Spread ricotta evenly over dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Top with pears and pecans and fold over edges. Bake 30-40 minutes until pears have caramelized and crust has browned. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing.Drizzle honey or syrup over pie before serving.

#breakfast #pears #pie

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

GLUTEN FREE – EGG FREE – DAIRY FREE and DELICIOUS!

I had 2 groups of people recently staying for several days and two (one from each group) was gluten free, and dairy and egg free.

I’ve got GF and DF pancakes down to a fine art. People always ask for seconds, but I wanted to do some baking for them too.

I came upon an oatmeal recipe I liked the look of (probably because it had coconut in it) so I set about making the cookies.

When I had the cookie dough all ready to measure out onto the baking tray I had a dizzy moment and threw a generous handful of chocolate chips into the batter.

Oh wow.

These little guys are the bomb. Everyone loved them. And recently I put some out for some non-GF guests and the wife suggested that I make them and give them to guests as little gifts. They’re that good.

Ingredients

1 cup dairy free margarine

1¼ cups gluten free flour

½ tspn baking soda

½ tspn salt

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 flax seed eggs (1 tbspn flax seed and 3 tbspn water)

3 cups gluten free quick oats

1 cup coconut flakes toasted

1 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Prepare the flaxseed eggs and let them sit for a few minutes

Cream margarine and both sugars til they’re creamy

Add vanilla essence and prepared flax seed eggs

Add flour, baking powder, salt, coconut and oats

Once mixed, add the chocolate chips and mix well

Spoon tablespoon sized portions onto the baking sheet

Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes – no longer

Bring out of the oven and leave for about 10 minutes before transferring onto a cooling rack

#glutenfree #eggfree #dairyfree #coconut #chocolatechip #oatmeal #cookies