Monday, 31 August 2015

Helenium

Flowers from my mother's garden

Last autumn I got hold of a some Helenium autumnale plants. They remind me so of my mother's garden. When leaving for University for the autumn semester I used to pick a big bunch to bring with me and they lasted forever. So I post this nostalgic picture for you to enjoy.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Autumn harvest

Late summer

It is now late August and at the moment the weather here by the Bay of Fundy is glorious.

I reported on my Kale growing in spring and that I was able to harvest some for a delicious meal. As I have now learnt Kale is a biannual plant which sets seeds the second year and I have been enjoying the huge plants with little yellow flowers this summer. Now the seedpods are ready to be harvested, so I have got plenty of seeds for next year. Not bad.

I have to report though that my gardening season has not turned out the way I planned it to be. My dear STRONG dog pulled my arm so badly in the beginning of June that I couldn't do anything in my garden until July.  The major part of my vegetable patch is now covered with weeds. This was really disappointing, but I am so happy that my arm now has healed.

My herb garden has been great, producing enormous amounts of Tarragon, Oregano, Parsley, Sage and Chives. My Arugula grew so vigorously that I had to cut it back. New herbs that I planted this year are Anise Hyssop, Peppermint Mint and Cilantro. My eldest son is very fond of Cilantro, which I personally find resemble Stink Bugs on Blueberries! Apparently some people get that sensation and others don't. I do like it in some cooking together with other herbs and spices though.

Below Tarragon in its natural state and Tarragon being dried and put into little jars for the winter.


Saturday, 23 May 2015

Spring Harvest

This year has been an unusual one weather wise, but finally spring has arrived and we have got some decent weather. Lovely.
But suddenly everything has to be done at once in the garden. The grass is growing like mad and the seeds needs to be put into their right places. Before that all the weeds that have thrived will need to be removed...

The tulips are at their best, the bleeding hearts are starting to bloom and the forsythia is at its peak.

It is also harvesting time! My kale was eaten totally bare by the deer. I was glad to be of service as they had a very tough time. I did not approve of their feast on my little apple tree though. The kale now has got new delicious leaves ready to harvest. Yesterday I served newly harvested kale that i braised lightly with chopped chives and garlic to go with pasta and salmon. Delicious!


One of my favourite vegetables is parsnip and I have tried to grow them several times but without any success. The greenery has been amazing the second year. The tiny roots were left in the ground over the winter and I kept the plants as they were quite decorative. The other day it was time to clear the plot for another crop and below you can see what I found. Has anyone any good advice on how to grow parsnips? This year I am going to try a red and white striped beetroot instead.




Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Iris



Today I found the very first spring flower appearing in my garden. It is a lovely little blue Iris. Most of the snow is gone, only a little bit is still left among the trees in the upper part of the garden.

On the window sill there are lots and lots of seedlings waiting to be transplanted outside or to be brought out into the greenhouse. 

 I just have to clear out the mess in the greenhouse first, but more importantly some warmer winds need to present themselves.







 




Sunday, 12 April 2015

Health program report


Less weight and more energy

You may remember that I earlier mentioned about a book promising a healthier life for those who went along with a 12 week program aiming at changing ones habits and lifestyle into a healthier one.  

 

Week 1 and 2
The first steps were to stop eating added sugar and white bread. This I have managed to do more or less without any problem.

 

Week 3
The next steps were to eat more vegetables, berries and herbs. This I did with delight!

 

Week 4
Also eating more fish and other seafood I do enjoy, so that has not been any difficulty. The advice to cut down on hydrogenated fat and saturated fat, has maybe not been so easy to follow. The hydrogenated stuff is no problem to avoid, I usually don't use margarine, but butter I use in moderate amounts when baking and cooking. I think I will continue doing so!

 

Week 5
The next food stuffs to cut down on or stop eating altogether were white rice and pasta. We love pasta and quite like rice as well, so this has been more of a challenge. We have not totally stopped eating pasta, but eat it more seldom. I  found a multigrain mix that we like and substitute the rice with.

 

Week 6
The next step has been to eat root vegetables, raw food, garlic, ginger and probiotics.  All this we love, so no problem.

 

Home made probiotics - fermented vegetables

Week 7
Eating protein prevents you from getting hungry. Eating milk protein like cheese, cottage cheese and eggs is good for you. I love cheese!

 

So far  we feel fine and despite the fact, that we have not been following the advice 100% but have had some cake, chocolate etc at festive occasions, I have lost 4,5 kg (10 lbs) without any effort.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Dogs and gardening

Addition to the family

It is now quite a while since I posted anything on this blog. It is not easy to write in an inspired way about gardening, when snow storms are roaring outside. And we have had snow coming up until the beginning of this week.
Finally warmer winds have come our way, melting the snow. Hurrah! 


In the meantime we have added a new member to the family. His name is Damon and he is a gorgeous Siberian Husky. He has been helping me rearrange my pots and plants. 




Luckily some of the plants were possible to save. You find them them on the picture above together with the culprit.

 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Snow in Nova Scotia

Snow record and spring feelings

Being back in Nova Scotia is great, but I must admit the adjustment was not easy this time. Mainly due to the weather. The Annapolis Valley this year held the record for Nova Scotia on the amount of snow for December through February - 302 cm! In March we have had 3 snow storms, since we arrived 10 days ago giving 50-60 cm more so there has been a lot of shoveling in addition to the good work done by a plow and snow blower. We are all safe, but the mailbox is still missing. It could probably be found in the huge snow wall framing our road.
















Well it is white and bright and extraordinarily beautiful outside.

A couple of days I got some seeds put into little pots - Tomatoes, Red Peppers, Celeriac, Arugula and Basil. Today I could see the Arugula starting to show.  Spring is on its way!
We have also passed the Equinox, which the Canadians call the First Day of Spring. I always celebrate the Equinox with cake and getting presents. This is not a special Swedish habit like celebrating the Summer Solstice. I celebrate the Equinox because it is my birthday. This year I had a very good one.






Sunday, 1 March 2015

Health program wk2 Influenza

Energy level zero

This week I will not pester you with chirpy comments on how energetic and great I feel being on my new experimental regime. I feel totally drained. I must admit though that this is hardly caused by me not eating white bread, which was the task for the week. 

I have not had any white bread or much of anything. The evil little influenza virus attacked on my son's Birthday and I have since spent my days in bed. Hopefully I did not spread the virus around to the other guests. And I am now getting better.


I did make a chocolate cake without any sugar and wheat flour and promised to report on the result. Here you are:



 The chocolate base was made of finely chopped walnut kernels, avocado, cocoa powder, prunes and some vanilla essence.

The cake can be made into an ordinary cake form or made into single portions as shown in the photo


Let rest in the freezer for a couple of hours.


Serve with some whipped cream and berries e.g. raspberries and sprinkle some flower honey on top. It tasted very nice but was quite filling. The next time I will make smaller pieces.



Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Health 2 slimming

Health program week 2

The assignment for the second week of my health program is to avoid (stop)  eating white bread and also to eat less bread. This will probably be more difficult than the assignment for the first week, which was to avoid added sugar. I like to have a few slices of bread with some cheese with my morning coffee. I found a linseed wholemeal bread at my grocer's, which works quite well. I will miss the baguettes though! Well, I suppose you can sin now and then and skip the regime at festive events.


Today we are celebrating my son's birthday. I found a recipe on a cake without any wheat flour and no sugar. I hope it will taste OK. It looked nice anyway. I will post a picture of it and the recipe, if it tastes as good as it looks on the picture.

The reason for avoiding wheat flour is the same as the reason to avoid added sugar namely to stabilize blood sugar levels.  So far I think that it has worked quite well. I rarely feel hungry and I feel more energetic. I can see some effect on the scales as well  -2 kg in 10 days. Not bad, even if most of the reduced weight loss will be due to less water being retained in the body. Carbs make you swell!

Spring has arrived in Stockholm, very much earlier than normal. The sun is shining so I do feel like taking a walk in the sunshine.
We have still to wait a month or two for the spring flowers to emerge and the forest anemones to cover the ground. But we now see snowdrops and crocuses budding.













nn

Sunday, 22 February 2015

ART 2 Stockholm

Moderna Museet Stockholm


Stockholm has got several really good art galleries and museums. The permanent collections are of very high quality and some temporary exhibitions have been really awesome. Today we were a bit short of time to view the exhibition as the line-up for tickets were terribly long. We had to settle for only having  lunch at the Modern Art Museum Restaurant.
At the moment the work of Louise Bourgeois is being shown and at least we had time to have  a look   at one of her mother spiders "Maman".  


Hopefully we will have time to return to see more.

 

 


Actually another version of this spider is placed outside the Ottawa National Art Gallery.




Saturday, 21 February 2015

Week 1 -inspiration

 

Report


Actually everything is fine. Keeping the rule not to eat sugar has not been hard at all and I have even been able to tighten my belt a little bit. And why not indulge in some delicious fruit or berries for sweetness. For lunch today we had salmon, potatoes and lots of vegetables and strawberries for dessert. Yummy

N.B. If you want to minimize climate gas emissions from transports you should probably exchange the strawberries with an apple  at this time of year. I will need to better myself.





Friday, 20 February 2015

Health program Week 1

Who doesn't want to be healthier and more energetic?

No one, I assume. Well the other day I got a book written by a Norwegian M.D. Berit Nordstrand lining out a 12 weeks program, that would change your Lifestyle into a healthier one. The idea is to take small steps, changing  your habits into better ones gradually and without much effort. That sounded good, I thought, so why not have a go?

The task for the first week is to stop eating added sugar and products containing added sugar. Fruits of course contain sugar naturally, so it is not considered an added sugar. But all normal sugar, caster sugar, icing sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup should be avoided. That means no cookies, cakes,, buns, ketchup, pickles etc

The reason for avoiding sugar intake is to stabilize your blood sugar levels, 
Improved blood sugar levels  lower their risk for health issues such as heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage, and vision problems.  Big swings in blood sugar levels increases the secretion of the stress hormone Cortisol, which in its turn increases your belly fat. So there are quite a few aspects of reducing your sugar intake that are motivating and inspiring.

You are advised to eat quite frequently, every 3-4 hours, so you will not get too hungry.

Results so far:
It has been no trouble at all to follow the recommendations. The only thing I missed once was some ketchup I usually put on top of my grilled cheese sandwiches, but this recipe worked fine as an alternative:
1. Fry  mushrooms and sliced garlic and put on top of a buttered piece of bread.

2. Place a thin slice of ham on top.
4. Slice a sweet paprika and a chunk of a leek in thin slices. Place on top of the ham. The paprika adds natural sweetness.
3. Add a generous amount of cheese on top and put it in a hot oven and leave until the cheese gets some colour.

Enjoy


It is even better with a salad on side








Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Shopping

Mr Middleton in Dublin

Spring was in the air in Dublin and Mr Middleton's shop had lots of plants on display in one of the main shopping streets. Colourful Primroses and different kinds o shrubs.  I passed several times, but in the end I gave in and went inside. The shop was packed with bulbs and seed packages. It was terribly tempting to leave the shop with a bag full of seed packages, but I restrained myself and chose Coriander, cylindrical beetroot, courgette and celeriac seeds.
  
I was particularly happy to find the celeriac as I have failed finding these in Canada. Celeriac is one of my favourite vegetables that you can use in many different ways. One is to just roast chunks of celeriac together with carrots, parsnips and yellow onions in the oven. Put Rosemary, Garlic and sprinkle with some olive or canola oil on top. Season with salt and pepper and let cook until well done. Serve with any meat like steak, chicken, pork chops, hamburgers.... Delicious!



Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Dublin

We are now back from a little trip to Dublin, where we  experienced spring, some art exhibitions and a lot of pubs. Dublin must have the highest density of pubs in the world. I haven't consulted the Guiness' book of Records, but it appeared to be the case. We did visit the Guiness Brewery though and its panorama Bar, where you got an amazing view over the city. Below the Brazen Head, oldest pub in Ireland.




We also saw pigs all over the place.This was not a result of excessive drinking, but  Pigs on Parade is a public arts initiative presenting 100 unique pieces of art in the form of painted and decorated life-size fiberglass Pigs designed by leading artists and designers  on display in public accessible areas around Dublin City. Here you find one sample.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Spring???

Spring - not really

More snow than ever in Nova Scotia this February and the temperatures are low. It would be a challenge to even get out through the door. Hopefully southerly warm winds will melt the snow away as I plan to return shortly. I don't think I would manage to clear this driveway.


Photo Brian Sabean
 

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Valentine

Zéphirine Drouhin rose





Happy Valentine's Day!


Friday, 13 February 2015

NUDGING

A new buzz word


A couple of days ago I met a former colleague at a party and she mentioned a new buzz word used when discussing strategies for a sustainable development.
The word is nudging. So I thought I would give you an update. I was told that a research report was published as late as December 2014 and I have just glanced through the report*.

Nudging is not about changing people's values but it's about arranging the choice situation in a way that makes the desirable outcome the easiest and most attractive option. It is applied to help people bridge the gap between good intentions and good deeds.

Sounds sensible. It is well in line with the motto I (we) had working on sustainable consumption – make it easy for the consumer to act in an environmentally safe way.

One example could be to simplify and frame complex information making key information more salient – e.g energy labeling and displays.
Change the physical setting – layouts and functions in order to make it more convenient for people, show good examples with clear steps and reminders etc.

Of course nudging is not enough to change our life styles into sustainable ones, but in combination with other policy tools, it could be useful.
http://www.speroforum.com/a/NTUACKIKDY21/74868-Good-nudge-bad-nudge-Dont-get-too-comfortable#.VNTC2C4YGOc

*
http://www.naturvardsverket.se/Nerladdningssida/?fileType=pdf&downloadUrl=/Documents/publikationer6400/978-91-620-6643-7.pdf

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Rosa Rugosa Alba


White Rugosa roses flower primarily in spring, but also have sporadic flowers until autumn. The flowers have a lovely fragrance. It is extremely cold-hardy & very sun-hardy. Its ideal is temperate coastal maritime conditions, thus it thrives in my garden. The shrub reflowers over a long period, the hips are ripening serially early summer until mid-autumn. I usually leave the hips on the shrub as they are very decorative, but ripe they can be harvested for jellies or other uses.

As with a regular pink rugosa, white rugosa roses sucker & spread into thick six-foot-tall & wide ground cover. They can be restrained with regular removal of suckers, but left to their own devices can sometimes spread quite rapidly, forming impenetrable walls of stickery canes.

I usually get rid of the suckers with the help of my mower, but last summer I dug up one and transplanted it into a new small border. My plan is to create a border with just white flowers. Hopefully the new plant will survive the winter. I am most eager to see the result, and will post a picture when spring has arrived.

The shrub needs to be pruned once a year to keep the shrub in shape. This should preferable be just before spring.







Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Spring



It does definitely not feel like spring right now, but the days are getting longer and soon....

Maybe we can start up the season with sowing some seeds into little pots indoors? Tomatoes and peppers does need quite some time to grow big enough plants to place in the greenhouse, when it gets warmer.

Some seeds should absolutely not be sown now. I did that mistake with broccoli and kale last year and they germinated right away and grew into very tall useless plants, due to the lack of light. They had to be thrown away. When sown at the right time later, they turned into excellent plants.



My little cat Molly is very interested in gardening.
 

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Maud Lewis

Maud Lewis (1903-1970) is a well known Nova Scotian artist. She was an autodidact who lived with her husband in a tiny little house in Digby. This little house she decorated meticulously, almost every inch she covered with her painted ornaments. It has after her death been moved to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. The exhibition of Marie Lewis' paintings and her restored house is well worth a visit. 

www.artgalleryofnovascotia.ca/


 








Maud Lewis is a popular artist and her naive paintings are well loved and copied. Below to the right you find an attempt on my part together with two pictures that I made from the waterfront in Port Lorne; one in acrylic and one in water colour.





Thursday, 5 February 2015

Mary Rose

Mary Rose is a beautiful rose that my sister gave to me a few years ago.  It is a hardy reliable garden shrub of medium size with well-shaped, twiggy growth and nice foliage. It is a David Austin Rose, and the fragrance is described by his company as follows: The delicious fragrance is of Old Rose character with a hint of honey and almond blossom.  Size 4 x 4ft.

It is lovely rose and I often cut a few off and put them in a vase so I can enjoy its fragrance  and beauty also indoors. They keep for several days



Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Arts & Crafts

In our area there are several talented artists and the environment does inspire  your creativity. In our little village we have both a crafts group and a painting group. Not far away in Annapolis Royal you find the ARTsPlace  with art exhibitions, interesting lectures and workshops.

 http://arcac-artsplace.weebly.com/

Betty's cat Rascal painted by Charlotte Klofver

Arts & Crafts Charlotte Klofver

Monday, 2 February 2015

ENERGY BOOSTER





Did you know this about singing?

Music brings about dramatic effects on your brain according to Dr Gunnar Bjursell, professor at Karoliska Institutet (Stockholm Medical University)
We earlier believed that damages on the brain were permanent, but today we know that the brain can be influenced by the proper stimuli and has the ability to repair and rebuild itself. Music is a strong power giving relief from pain and angst. Study after study has found that singing relieves anxiety and contributes to quality of life
Singing together in a group (or choir) has a calming yet energising effect on people. It is like an infusion of the perfect tranquiliser, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.
The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Or it might be from oxytocin hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness. Singers have been found to have lower levels of cortisol, also indicating lower stress.


So what's stopping you from joining a choir, going to a Church with lots of music, a music jam or a sing-along event?? A cure with no negative side effects. Perfect



http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/



Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Raised beds


Using raised beds is an efficient way of growing vegetables. Follow the link below and you will get some inspiration.



http://growfood-notlawns.com/started-boxes-60-days-later-neighbors-not-believe-built/

You can find more good advice on YouTube on how to grow vegetables in raised beds.


My raised bed after the Kale had been harvested.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Oriental Poppies

When a friend of mine was visiting two summers ago, she helped digging up one of my borders. Some of my bleeding hearts disappeared but there was no reason for regrets, the following summer the border was filled with Oriental Poppies in different colours and shapes. A late gift from previous tenders of my garden.

I do hope they will return next  summer.




Translation

Blogging is a great way to keep family and a wide group of friends updated on what you are doing and of course also to reach new readers. I have chosen to write this blog in English and not in my mother tongue, Swedish, as more people will be able to follow it. I have also encouraged some elderly family members, who have forgotten the English they were taught in school to use the Translation service. That was maybe not altogether wise, the result is sometimes hilarious! When translating a recipe from Swedish into English, the Swedish word "salladskål" was translated into "salad bowl" and then it went on telling you to cut 2 kg "salad bowl" in two pieces lengthwise. The correct translation would be Chinese cabbage. 
I have tried to update the translation, as you are asked to contribute, but that doesn't work. So dear Swedish reader please bear with me. I have not forgotten to speak Swedish.

Kära svenska läsare. Vill bara berätta, att jag inte glömt att tala svenska. Däremot klarar jag inte av att justera den svenska översättningen, som man får när man trycker på "translation"-knappen. 
Underhållningsgraden när man läser mina inlägg på automatiskt översatt svenska ökar dock väsentligt!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Wine and roses

One great destination for a day out, when visiting or staying in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, is the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens.

 


 
In a beautiful setting overlooking a tidal river valley, the Historic Gardens is a premiere Nova Scotia attraction showcasing gardening methods, designs and materials representing more than four hundred years of local history. The Rose Collection holds hundreds of rose cultivars and thousands of fragrant and colourful blossoms.

Last year we joined in at the Wine and Roses event, a most enjoyable fundraiser arranged by the Historic Gardens. You could then stroll around the garden and smell the fragrance of the roses  enjoying a glass of wine and also sit down and listen  to live music.

For more information about the gardens: http://www.historicgardens.com/



 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

NEW DAWN


Today it i snowing, wet heavy snow and the sky is grey. It is a perfect day for dreaming about summer in Annapolis Valley, Canada. Roses belong to my favourite things and among them my NEW DAWN pink climbing rose.




Climbers generally have large blooms on not too vigorous, rather stiff growth and most repeat flower. Most climbers are best supported by walls, trellises, arches or obelisks

Climbers should be pruned to establish a permanent framework of significant branches from which flowering stems are produced. To achieve this cut back side shoots to one or two buds from the point where they branch out from the main shoots. If the plant has become bare at the base, cut one of it’s main shoots hard back to encourage new growth from ground level. The best time to prune a climber is October, when the flowering  is over, but it can be done later if the weather is mild.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Rambling rose

I love my pink rambling rose greeting me at the entrance of my driveway. In the summer it is totally covered with lovely pink flowers.




 

Ramblers are in general, much more vigorous than climbers. They will produce great quantities of small flowers, although most do not repeat flower.

Ramblers need to be pruned to encourage flowering on young shoots that grow from the base of the plant each year. To achieve this cut out completely the side shoots that have finished flowering and tie in the new shoots in their place.

Rambling roses are said to be easy to propagate. In October I  took some cuttings and planted those in soil. They rooted well and even started to grow a little before the frost arrived. I will keep you posted on how they get on when spring is back.


Monday, 19 January 2015

FOOD and Climate Change

When the Scientists  reported on Climate Change last autumn one of the issues that was highlighted was the need to take into account what we eat when trying to reduce Greenhouse Gases. Roughly one third of all emitted GHGs originate from food consumption. Especially red meat is the culprit when GHGs emissions need to be reduced.





  One  efficient way to minimize the GHG emissions is to minimize the amount of food that go to waste. The GHG emitted during production will otherwise be for no purpose at all.