Saturday, November 28, 2020

a sunset walk around acadia university

We filled the thermos with hot chocolate and headed to the town of Wolfville. While the boys mucked around at the waterfront park, I headed downtown to wander through the shops. Wolfville overlooks the basin, the dykelands holding back the tides, and then Cape Blomidon in the distance. You wind through Main Street in town, which sits slightly elevated, and pass all the grand old homes on either side. It's home to the University of Acadia - a beautiful historic campus that has a quintessential New England feel to it. And because the sun was just setting, and it was a crisp but perfectly clear evening, and because the buildings looked so warm and inviting in the setting sunlight, I parked my car and walked around. Save one or two students hurrying from one building to the next, everything was quiet. The buildings around the campus are quite beautiful. I may have to return for another walk about to see everything covered in snow, and I discovered a botanical gardens that I would love to return to tour in the spring.

This is Waterfront Park, where you can watch the world's highest tides rise and fall from the Bay of Fundy.

There are so many lovely old homes the line the main street through town.

This one is a particular favourite.

I had to pull over and slowly walk past to admire it. They had started decorating it for Christmas - some twinkle lights on the front hedges, wreathes in the gables, and candles in all the windows. It was all very simple and natural, just how I love it. What was so beautiful to me though, was that, with the leaves still clinging to a few trees, it was the perfect blend of late autumn and not quite Christmas.

I always love the Alumni Hall.

Across the road and up the sweeping drive, sitting on top of the hill, sits the University.

Pathways lead from the University to all of the various buildings around campus, including this little chapel and some really lovely residences. 

I've seen the Seminary House from the road down below, and have long wanted to wander up and see it. It's the most grand old building.

Beside the university sits the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens. The large arched windows to the sides are a grand sitting room.

It looked so inviting with students filling the armchairs, reading as the sun set, the lamps glowing warmly. I wondered if anyone would have noticed if I would have picked up a coffee, carried it in with my book to some secluded leather chair, and then just curled up in the quiet to read. No fear of an impending deadline for some paper that still needs to be written, no late night class to attend, no exams. Just a book and a coffee and quiet.

You can apparently tour the gardens, but currently it's not open to the public. Hopefully in the spring it will be open again, and then I'll return. I really hope we'll be allowed to tour the conservatory area, as well as the grounds, as I always love a beautiful glass house.

Even the little gated supply area was charming!

Once the sun was sufficiently set, I returned to pick up the boys who were all rosy cheeks and noses. We drove up and down a few streets admiring the older homes that sit surrounding the university, before making our way back home for dinner. A very late dinner, but it was worth it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

our thanksgiving

The one brilliant part of having Canadian Thanksgiving a month and a half early, is that by the time I actually get around to posting about ours, all of my American readers are just getting ready to celebrate. We'll just pretend like I plan it that way. Our Thanksgiving this year was, as so many of yours will be, a quiet and intimate one. And while this was our first Thanksgiving away from family, my cousin and her husband recently moved not too far from us, and it meant that we were able to have some family over! I know that so many of our celebrations will look differently, but I've come to find that, for myself at least, keeping things feeling normal helps. I didn't need to set the table, or roast a turkey, or even bake a pumpkin pie, but I did. And in doing so, Thanksgiving felt as it should. I puttered around the days before, working on the table, arranging flowers, planning a menu. Then the day of was slow and lovely. The kitchen filled with all of the scents of onions softening and the turkey roasting and a pie cooling. It really was just a slow, lovely day. There was no rush to do anything. The guys watched football, and at one point, everyone but a couple of the boys had nodded off while I laid cutlery and ironed napkins. At the end of the day, as the sun was setting, we all sat down for a small dinner. We lingered until the last of the wine had been poured, the tapers low and dripping, and afterwards, since we weren't quite ready to be finished, we settled in to watch a movie with our pie. Save being able to enjoy the company of our family, it was the perfect day,

When it comes to decorating our house for Thanksgiving, I keep things quite minimal. I do always love my pair of pheasants, particularly during the fall. I also tend to add a few pumpkins here and there, as well as some potted cabbages and kale, but that's about it.

My parents sent me a beautiful bouquet (they know my tastes so well!), and I used that for my centerpiece. I hollowed out a squash and then rearranged the flowers in it. I added a few extra roses that I had picked up from the store, as well as a few foraged bits from down by the river. 

I stocked the bar in the Butler's pantry - a bottle of wine to sip on in the afternoon while I cooked, a couple ingredients for some simple autumn cocktails... It's just nice to have a couple options on hand.

Because the day was so slow, I really enjoyed being in the kitchen. There wasn't any need to rush. I put some music on, poured my glass of wine and settled in.

A pumpkin pie was a non-negotiable. I really didn't need to make it. It probably would have only been missed by only me, but it would have been sorely missed. I even took a little bit of extra time and did a decorative edge of little acorns.

To keep things easy, lunch was simply butternut squash soup (I kept it warming on the stove) and some cheese to nibble on. Everyone could help themselves as they were hungry, and I could continue doing what I was doing.

Then for the table. We sat at the round table in the family room because we don't often sit in there.

I kept the place settings fairly simple.

 I loved this mustard yellow fish set I had recently found, and I played off it a little with some golden velvet ribbon and matching tapers. I always love a little brown and white transferware this time of year, so I tucked one of my platters under the centerpiece.

As for dinner, a simple roast turkey with herbs from the garden, apple and sausage stuffing, buttery mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans with garlic and cranberry sauce (with cranberries from the bog down the road!). 

The next day, in true day after Thanksgiving fashion, it was pie for breakfast. We slept late and then wandered about the countryside on an afternoon drive. 

We discovered a beautiful new beach.

I still find it so interesting seeing the pine trees on the beach.

We drove through the village of Chester.

We even stopped for a hike to admire the foliage and stretch our legs for a bit. The boys ran wildly down the paths, stepped across stones in the very small waterfall, and climbed trees.

However you will be celebrating Thanksgiving, if you are, I hope you have a lovely weekend. It may be different, but it can still be special, because there's so much to be grateful for.

Wishing you all a Thanksgiving that's rich in gratitude and full of contentment, from our family to yours.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

in the garden - planting spring bulbs

We've had the warmest days this week, so I've made the most of them and spent some time planting some spring bulbs around the yard. I didn't plant too many, just a few clusters here and there. There are some under the large maple in the front yard, and some to the side of the front entrance. The rest have been planted under the lilac bushes which will be a welcome sight come spring. 

In each grouping I planted a few double White Lion narcissus, a few miniature White Marvel narcissus and a few double white snow drops. I selected them for their varying heights. And because they're white. (Obviously!) I love the idea of planting bulbs. Something to look forward to during the winter months, when the garden is asleep.

The garden centre looked beautiful.

I think I need to pop back in for some more muscari.

I also picked up some paperwhites to force inside for Christmas - another thing I love doing this time of year. However, due to the fact that their bulbs arrived in September, and then sat in a cool shed, they're already starting to sprout! So these ones will stay out and I'll enjoy them now through November, and I'll find some others to store away in the basement for a couple weeks so I can enjoy them closer to Christmas.

Miniature White Marvel

Double White Lion

The littler boys helped me "tuck the flowers in bed for the winter".

If you've wanted to force paperwhites, but aren't sure what you'll need, or how to get started, they're quite simple. I'm not an expert, but basically, I just pot them up now and keep them in a cool place for about 6 weeks (our basement is fieldstone so it's perfect). To pot them, I just fill planters halfway with small stones, then place my bulbs with the roots facing down. They like to be kind of snug, so fit them in quite close together. I put a bit of potting mix around them, but leave the top third showing, and then give them some water. The stones help with drainage. Don't forget to water them while they're away, a couple times a week, and then the same when they're out. Some recommend a mixture of alcohol and water to keep them from getting kind of leggy, which they can do, but I'm too cheap for that. Plus, I've read mixed reviews on it. I do however, plant them kind of low in taller pots to help with their height, and then I'll tie some ribbon around them while they're blooming in they start to flop over.

Have you planted anything for spring?