Tea Time

TeaA few years ago I heard about DAVIDsTEA 24-days of tea advent calendar.  Basically it’s a advent calendar that is filled with tea and each day is a different blend of loose leave tea.

Previously I always forgot when the calendars went on sale and missed the small window of opportunity to get my hands one.  Apparently I’m not alone in thinking this a fantastic idea for anyone who loves tea.  It has to be healthier than a chocolate calendar.

This year a co-worker reminded me about the 24-days of tea — and last week a wonderful calendar filled with tea arrived in the mail.  The only downside, I now have to wait until December to try any of the tea.

The Tamarack

A Stand of Tamarack Trees.  Public Domain Image.

A Stand of Tamarack Trees. Public Domain Image.

It’s the time of the year where fall feels like it’s coming to a close and that winter is nipping at our doorway.  There have been a few light snowfalls that have quickly melted. Frost is no longer a surprise in the morning. And most of the beautiful fall leaves have fallen.

I love fall – the colours, temperature, food, and so much more.  The conclusion of fall is often kind of grey and has a dull feeling to it.  But it is also the time of year that the tamarack trees start to change colour.  Prior to moving up to Northern Ontario I didn’t know a whole lot about tamaracks.  But they are kind of a neat tree.

Tamaracks are deciduous conifers – which I didn’t even know existed.  They have needles and cones but their needles change colour and they shed them in the fall.  Their needles are amazingly soft and delicate to the touch in the spring and summer.  Tamaracks tend to be on the smaller side growing to be around 15 meters tall.  They are apparently part of the larch family — which just makes me think of the Monty Python Flying Circus episode that repeatedly features the larch tree.

At this time of year the tamaracks have changed to a vibrant yellow and provide appreciated pop of colour amongst the grey landscape.

Music Finds: Sarah MacDougall

One of my favourite things is when you discover a new band or musician.  It’s often like you’ve just learned this amazing secret or unearthed a whole world of possibilities. I also have a soft spot for lesser known Canadian artists.

Recently while listening to Vinyl Cafe I was treated to the music of Sarah MacDougall.  I immediately made a note to learn more and find more of her music to listen to.  Born in Sweden she now calls Canada home and her music is a great mixture of folk and roots.  Take a listen:

Fancy Beer Glasses

indexContinuing with the trend of beer related gifts this past week Andrew’s birthday present to me included a set of beer glasses.  The glasses are different shapes and styles appropriate to different kinds of brews.

The gift pack included a number of glass styles including: Craft Pub, English pub, Pilsner, Wheat Ale, Belgian Ale, Stout, etc.  Basically a glass for every type of beer beverage imaginable.  We’re looking forward to trying out all of them.  So far the Craft Pub and the Belgian Ale glasses have been favourites for their feel and style.

September’s Beer of the Month

The last week of the September Andrew and I received our second last shipment of beer in the mail – unless we decide to sign up for another round.  This selection included three beers: Biker Beer Lager by Nickel Brook Brewery, 1815 Lockstock Ale by Strathroy Brewing Company, and Belgian Wit by Niagara’s Best Beer.

This was the first month where Andrew and I weren’t really impressed with any of the beer sections.  I was initially excited that they were all small Ontario brews, but all three of them fell short of the mark.  None of them were bad by any means but they weren’t great or anything memorable.

Additionally, the Biker Beer label was fairly off putting and was objectifying to women. I get that it’s inspiration was the Friday the 13th bikes at Port Dover and probably has a very specific target market – but come on. Hopefully the final shipment is a better selection of beers!

Garden Maintenance

IMG_20151010_141611This past weekend we spent some time playing in the dirt.  We did some fall garden cleanup and maintenance including harvesting the last of the root vegetables, pulling out dead plants, and getting the soil ready for compost.

Both Andrew and I remarked on how much easier it was to do this maintenance on the square foot garden portion of the veggie garden.  Typically by the time fall hits we are into garden fatigue and don’t have the motivation to tackle the cleanup part of the garden.  This usually means we have a whole lot of work to do some spring. The smaller square foot garden made maintenance throughout the whole season easier and there were substantially less weeds to battle in the fall.  Definitely a success.

And while we were doing cleanup Little Miss got to play outside and managed to get covered in dirt as usual. Good thing it was bath day.

Hefewizen Adventure

20151001_084003Andrew and I recently sampled two Hefewizen beers – Hey Day Hefewizen by Granville Island Brewing and Hop & Weizen by Creemore Springs.  Prior to this adventure I didn’t know a whole lot about Hefewizen style beers.

Apparently they are typically brewed in the south German style of wheat beer, use a yeast that sparks banana and spice flavours, often with notes of bubblegum or apples.  The ‘Hef’ prefix means ‘with yeast’ so most appear unfiltered and cloudy.

Both of these selection’s fit the bill as mild Hefewizen style betters.  The Hop & Weizen was very yellow in colour and was moderately hoppy. There was thin note of banana and it finished with a spice flavour (possibly clove?).  It was fairly smooth drinking and would be great on a sunny day.

The Hey Day was light and the had more overt banana flavouring.  The hops were a bit milder on this one and Andrew enjoyed it over the Creemore selection.  I didn’t love either of these beers — but that might have more to do with the style of Hefewizen beers than the individual brews.

Traveling With a Little One

Since Little Miss has been born we’ve traveled to Ottawa, Southern Ontario, Red Rock, Buffalo, London, and gone camping a few times.  The addition of one small human being to our family seems to exponentially complicate packing and travel.

Things we have forgotten to pack on various occasions:

  • The pack n’ play.  Also known as Little Miss’ travel bed.  Thankfully when we forgot this crucial item we were merely staying 15 minutes from home and could retrieve it without too much hassle.
  • Pajamas for Little Miss.
  • Baby spoons.
  • Toys.
  • Bedtime cream, bedtime books, and other items that have become integrated into her bedtime routine.
  • Baby carrier/wrap.
  • The cord for the breast pump.  This item isn’t so useful when you can’t plug it in.
  • That time when I only packed one heavy sweater for Little Miss and the whole trip ended up being cold…and there were no laundry facilities.

I figure we manage to fit all three of us and most of the baby gear into the car we’re doing well.  Most of the extras can be bought or done without.  Though having can make life a whole lot easier. These days I seem to permanently have a nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something.

Fall Gardening

It’s been a busy fall with lots of activity in the veggie garden.  For the first time in a number of years Andrew and I successful grew zucchini.  Now we just need to figure out new ways to eat that tasty vegetable. And I’m sure there is more in the garden that we need to pick before a cold snap gets the plants.

We’ve also dug our potatoes, onions, and garlic.  I love root vegetables that store well over the winter months.  Nothing beats having snow outside and making a delicious meal (maybe stew?) with home grown vegetables.

As I mentioned earlier this was our first year growing garlic.  It did fairly well, but I think the soil where we planted them could have used some love last year. As a result they aren’t huge bulbs — but they are still flavorful and full of goodness.  It has been a learning experience, I hadn’t realized how much maintenance the garlic needs once it’s planted.  I’m going to bring some down to Southern Ontario for family there next week.  And we’ll hopefully plant this year’s fall garlic in the very near future.

Artwork and Beer: Collective Arts Brewing

I recently picked up a six pack of State of Mind, the session IPA from Collective Arts Brewing.  Light, citrus flavoured, and full of hops this was an enjoyable pick for me.  It poured a light golden yellow and had a slightly hazy look.

Collective Arts has a few other IPAs and pale ales that’s I’m hoping to try in the future.  The Rhyme & Reason was recommended when I bought this selection so maybe I’ll try it next time.

One of the reasons I was excited about trying this selection was the labels that Collective Arts uses.  The bottles feature limited-run artwork by artists.  Additionally many of the labels are compatible with the Blippar app which allows you to scan the image to learn more about the artwork, artist, or listen to paired music. I loved the uniqueness of each label and the added bonus of being able to learn more about the artist using your phone was a neat surprise. A great conversation piece combined with tasty beer.

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