Hello Instagram friends, I am using a new app that is so exciting I have to blog about it. I know some you out there are having a lot of fun with Instagram and I think you will love this app I came across called Picframe. For those of you like myself that take a lot of photos, this is a really fun way to make life scene Instagram montages…enabling you to share numerous photos at once and avoid “Photo Bombing” instagram..as my husband calls it.
Remember, you can check out my daily Instagram photos through the Instagram link on the left of my menu bar, but in case you never look, here is a sample of how I have used Picframe this week.
My Grandmother spent almost a week at our house after our trip to Canada. As I have mentioned a few times, Grandma came all the way to New York from Australia, then up to Canada, and then back to New Jersey, with a broken foot, and so her week spent with us was not about sight seeing New York, but about spending relaxed quality time with us in our new home. During this time we enjoyed our days doing the things we usually do, but with the lovely company of Tutu.
I relish having extra company to cook for, and made an effort that each of our meals together was something Grandma would appreciate and enjoy. Cooking our evening meal is often an activity for the Girls, and it was fun to involve Tutu too. I think that involving Children in every aspect of food preparation – grocery shopping, choosing meals, washing produce, cutting, measuring and stirring, gives them a healthy relationship to food, beyond eating it.
On Friday afternoon, I made a hearty roasted celeriac and leek soup. You can find the recipe at Homespun Waldorf. It is very scrumptious, and I just love the parmesan and toasted pine nuts garnish. Roots vegetable soups are so nourishing in Winter, and celeriac so often gets forgotten about, which is a shame as the flavor is deliciously zesty. To go with the soup we made some of the molasses bread that Maya helped bake each week at the Waldorf Playgroup she attended in Brooklyn. This is one of the yummiest breads ever. When eating this bread with soup, I like to make it into bread rolls and serve them hot out of the oven with lashings of butter. Maya and Elle love to bake bread, and as you can see, Elle is really getting into it. Grandma enjoyed the bread so much she comment that she would like the recipe, and so here it is, for my Grandma and anyone else who would like to bake yummy bread.
Whole Wheat Molasses Bread
1 packet of dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup molasses (or honey)
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a large bowl, stir until dissolved. Stir in molasses, butter, salt and whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in 2 cups of the all-purpose flour to make a smooth, soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, adding enough of remaining flour to keep it from being sticky, a tablespoon at a time.
Shape flour into a ball. Place in a greased, large bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover. Place in a warm place to rise, or if you do not have a warm place, put on top rack of oven. Turn on low for 5 minutes, then turn off (to create a barely warm oven). Place pan of steaming water on bottom rack. Let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours. Punch down and shape into rolls, or roll out into rectangle, then roll up, pinching edges to seal. Place in loaf pan, seam side down, brush with oil and let rise (same procedure). Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
“Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, this is amazing, quick, take a photo, ahhhh!…quick take another photo. Oh my goodness, this is amazing. Where has everyone gone? Oh, I had better catch up….quick take another photo….oh my goodness!”
This is the mental chatter you would have heard if you were present inside my head at Hopewell Rocks. My mind was racing from the beauty, my body was frozen (in awe, not the cold) and as a whole I was feeling alive and delighted by the heightened sense one can get when incredibly impressed. I almost became frantic, everywhere I looked I saw something I wanted to photograph. I was struck by the resonating beauty, and while everyone else walked on, I lagged behind, suspended in awe.
My brother Tate and my sister in law Natalie had planned this outing in advance for Grandma, Anthony (our cousin) and I during our trip to Canada for their wedding. With knowing this I did some research about Hopewell Rocks, but I was unable to find any images of it during the Winter. Anything I looked at about it was pictured during the Summer, with people in shorts, hats and flip flops – and often images of people kayaking around the rocks at high tide. Natalie grew up nearby, and she had not ever before visited the rocks in Winter. I had sort of expected, due to the weather that we may not have been able to see them at all. Thankfully my thoughts proved wrong and I experienced one of the unofficial wonders of the world.
Hopewell Rocks are located on the shores of the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy (known for having the highest tidal range in the world) at Hopewell Cape near Moncton, New Brunswick. Due to the extreme tidal range (up to 16.3 meters) of the Bay of Fundy, the base of the formations are covered in water twice a day. However, it is possible to view the formations from ground level at low tide – which is exactly what we did.
Natalie planned it so that we arrived just at the right time for low tide. The park was officially closed for the Winter, and so we did not have to pay an entry fee, but ‘Enter at own risk’ as the sign stated. I want to reiterate, we were not breaking the law, the sign says you may enter during the off season, but be warned it may be dangerous. Part of this danger – which kept Grandma seated comfortable at the look-out, was that the stairs down to the mud flat were covered with snow and ice, and the final set of stairs were raised and shut. We had to climb over the railing and down the safety ladder to the mud flat. All of this contributed to the spirit of adventure – I loved every moment. It was absolutely stunning, the snow, ice, caves, icicles, rocks, trees, mud and the seaweed – it was awesome, and one had to wonder how it all came about?
What I know: The formations consist of dark sedimentary conglomerate and sandstone rock. The large volume of water flowing in to and out of the Bay of Fundy modifies the landscape surrounding it. The advancing and retreating tides and the associated waves have eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their unique shapes. What I do not know is exactly how the white ice/snow layer was formed. I can assume it had to do with perfect freezing conditions while the tide lowered, and bit by bit an ice layer formed…like icing. I felt like this made the rocks look so pretty, and on comparing them to how they look in Spring, Summer and Autumn, I felt privileged to see them like this.
Another positive aspect of going in Winter was that we were the only people there. Tate and Nat had been to Hopewell Rocks previously together in the summer, and Nat said there were so many people sightseeing, that it was hard to get a good photo as someone was always in the shot. They also rope of sections to keep people at a distance, but in Winter…it is like I said…at your own risk.
Nat added that in Summer she wore flip flops and her feet became very muddy. For this visit we all had snow boots on, that also became very muddy. Lucky for us though the mud was cleaned off our boots in the miraculous way snow cleans things. By the time I walked back up the stairs covered in snow, my boots were once again perfectly clean.
I wished I could have spent hours exploring the coastline, but it was not possible as the tide comes in at a fast pace. We had also left Grandma at the top, sitting at the look-out alone. Grandma, with her broken foot was not able to move around in the snow and ice and it was important to get back to her so she did not freeze. I was the last one to mount the stairs, and did so with dragging feet. All the while savouring the brief but brilliant visit to Hopewell Rocks.
Here I am! I have zipped off to for a four day solo trip to attend the wedding of my Brother, to his fiance Natalie – from Canada. I can understand if this comes as a surprise to you as I did not have much time to think or talk about the trip prior - the days slipped away, and now here I am, in Moncton (pronounced Monk-ton) in New Brunswick – Canada. Yes, that is right, I am all the way up there on the edge of Canada, past Nova Scotia.
Grandma arrived to our house from Australia on Monday, and we flew up here together two days later – such an odd feeling to get on a plane without my husband and children, thankfully though I had my Grandma for company, and consequently the added perk of que jumping as Gran still has a broken foot and needs a wheelchair in the airports.
Via a small plane, we arrived in Moncton at 11pm Wednesday night, collected by my soon to be sister-in-law and then taken to an apartment on the river in downtown Moncton. If you ever have need to stay at Moncton (you just never know!), I highly recommend staying here. The suite was comfortable with tall windows and a veranda overlooking the river. I booked this apartment only last week and was very glad I chose this location as we woke on Friday morning to see huge ice chucks floating down stream (not at all impressive in a still photo, but great in person). I have not ever seen this before and it instantly caught my attention. It was very beautiful in a white washed, winter way, and ever so interesting. I had apprehensions about coming to Canada in Winter, going from cold New Jersey to even colder New Brunswick, but you know, I should have known…the extreme makes it special.
My Brother and Natalie arrived Friday morning to take us out for the day – the itinerary included Hopewell Rocks, and the small village of Alma, and then dinner with Natalie’s Family. I am really excited to share the photos of this day out. I was awestruck by the beauty of this part of Canada. My Brother kindly stopped many times along the way so I could document our journey. Which I will share as soon as I can. For now though, I have to pack my suit case and move to the next part of our adventure …off to Memramcook for the wedding.
I was carried away in a gust of inspiration on Thursday last week, and this was the outcome: a shadow puppet theatre box! What fun right? This idea must have been bubbling in my subconscious from the frequent vision of the rainbow silk silhouettes that I mentioned in my last post. I rose Thursday morning, excited about the idea and after dropping Maya at School, Elle and I went straight to work making it. Firstly, I visited our garage and picked out two of the saved moving boxes (ever so handy, I do not know why anyone would ever throw them out!) and then I made a small list of supplies I needed from the hardware store: exacto knife blades, matt knife, masking tape, and wooden skewers. Elle does not like to be rushed in the mornings and was not impressed about getting dressed ‘this very minute’, so we negotiated that she would come to the hardware store in her pajamas with sweater and coat over them – things one will agree to for craft!
The trip to the hardware store was a success, I found everything I needed. I am very pleased with my knew matt knife, I can not believe I have gone this long without one. Anyway, I put it to good use, as you will see, cutting out sections of one of the boxes, and then cutting up another to form a front piece to sandwich paper to the box. I also cut out a few other shapes to make it ornate. I then decided that I would paint it all white. Normally I like cardboard left natural, but the boxes had lots of stickers and moving house scribble and dirt on them, and paint is great for making something look fresher.
I lay out drip plastic in the basement and painted the cardboard with a paintbrush (I thought of using the paint roller but was happy with brush strokes). I also decided during the painting process that I liked the corrugated affect and so did not paint it solid white, but let the paint skim the surface so it looks obviously cardboard. I then left it all to dry.
A few hours latter, after I collected Maya from school, the pieces were dry enough that I could assemble it. I used wide long paper from a roll for the front of the box – I was having second thoughts while doing this and came to the conclusion that next time I would use white fabric. I went ahead with the paper anyway as my second thoughts were coinciding with applied wet glue. I sandwiched the paper between the cardboard with wood working glue, and held it all in place with clothes pegs. While I was doing this, Elle decided that she needed to work on her own project and went upstairs to get something. I was focused on gluing, during which time she returned with her scissors and sticky tape and some hearts she had painted the day before. I looked over and she was sticky taping the hearts to her boots! I was tickled by her idea and then realised Elle is a free thinker and already blossoming into a creatively independent girl. Feeling very pleased with everything, we headed back upstairs, leaving it to dry over night in the basement.
Once upstairs we started designing the puppets. I had Maya sit and draw for me what she wanted and then I cut her drawings out using an exacto blade. Having Maya draw the puppets was the purpose of this project. I wanted her to understand the concept of silhouette, and to focus on the shape of an outer line. At first she did not understand, and was drawing internal details on the puppets, but after I gave her a quick shadow demonstration on the wall in the light of the stairwell, she got it. We all contributed to making puppets. Maya drew a sun, a raincloud and a flower, I made a tree, the moon and stars and a lady, and Elle made a letter M and a leaf – both of which she drew, then cut out with scissors, and taped to a stick herself. The bird was from a previous activity I did with Maya’s class. As you can imagine ideas for puppets are endless. I am sure over time we will add to this project, for now though, I am very pleased to share the first performance in our sweet and simple silhouette puppet theatre…