Foraging in Gatineau Park

This weekend we headed up to Gatineau Park to do some foraging. With garden gloves, twine, scissors, plastic bags and box for fern, and without water or bug spray (no biggy – it was only about 34 degrees Celsius) we wondered through the woods, collecting far more than we needed and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Here’s a glimpse of our outing.

The path

Beaver dam

The beavers have been busy

ground cover

Wall of ferns

Macro fern leaf

This is a fern leaf photographed with a Kikkerland macro lens that clips onto a smart phone.

The haul

The haul

So Sydney, now what? You love sticks, so naturally I love sticks and think we really need them, but now that I have a stack in my basement, I’m not at all sure what I’m supposed to do with them.
Well, we’re going to sand them down with sandpaper and display them in artful ways.
I have an idea…we can go to the tool library and sign-out a sander.
Great idea except that the sticks are only 1″ in diameter. The sander will obliterate them.
True that. I obviously have no idea what I’m talking about.
But you came up with a better way to carry them.
You realize that if we take my granny cart the next time, it might be easier to bring our haul back to car, but it will confirm us as strange old ladies.
What do you mean ‘us’?


10 Ways to Survive Winter

So Sydney, it’s the middle of January, it’s horrible out…I’m going to be honest here – embracing winter is complete rubbish. I can survive winter but I can never embrace it.
No it’s not. There’s lots of great outdoor activities to do.
Obviously we have a different opinion on winter – so let’s share our ideas and let our readers decide.

Irene’s Suggestions

1. Make soup

There’s nothing like a bowl of  homemade soup to warm you up in the dead of winter. It really doesn’t have to take that long and if you make it on a Sunday, you can take the soupleftovers to work to have during the week.

Here’s three soups we made and blogged about – Roasted Tomato SoupPumpkin, Saffron & Orange Soup; Curried Cauliflower Soup.

2. Have a nap

It’s the weekend, it’s -35 °C and you have a million errands to run that require going Blanket 1outside. Plan to be home by 2 p.m. and indulge yourself by climbing into bed for an hour. Nothing bad will happen, no one will die, if you take time to recharge your batteries. Bears sleep all winter – they know what they’re doing.


3. Light a wood smoke candle

There are a few advantages of living in a climate that has changing seasons. Seeing the colour green sproutIllume candles up everywhere in the spring, autumn colours, winter sports (for people who really do them), watching horses run through the snow…and the smell of the wood stove burning. Nothing better than that.

The Illume brand of candles has both Woodfire and Woodsmoke scents that we love (there are lots of others to choose from too). If it’s early morning, enjoy a candle with a cup of coffee – later in the day, with a glass of wine.

4. Light every candle in the house

You don’t have to stop with just one candle. Once the light starts to dim – that’s around 5ish if you live in Canada 🙁 – light every candle in your house. Why not?

You can read all about our candle obsession here.

My advice is simple – stay inside until winter is over.

Sydney’s Suggestions

5. Cross Country Skiing

We’re very fortunate to live in Ottawa and be so close to Gatineau Park with it’s gorgeous ski trails. I try to embrace winter by enjoying a couple of winter sports – skating on the world’s longest skating rink. That’s right the Rideau Canal. And skiing in the Gatineau Hills. I love skiing into one of the many cabins dotted throughout the woods with friends to share dinner and a glass of wine. Yurts are also available for those who enjoy an overnight adventure.

Gatineau Park 3Gatineau Park 2

6. Books and Movies

We already read a lot but during the darkness of winter we read even more. Book reviews will be forthcoming. Movies are another way to escape winter. I actually haven’t been to a movie in at least a year. What the hell? Time to get going again. The Oscar nominations were just announced so no excuses let’s go! Here’s the list: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel (I’ve actually seen this one on Netflix – it’s very good), The Imitation Game, Boyhood, American Sniper, The Theory of Everything, Foxcatcher, Whiplash and Interstellar. We need to get busy Irene.

7. Travel

Some people like to escape winter by travelling someplace warm – who wouldn’t!? I do manage to get away at least once during the deep freeze (California? New Orleans? California?) and this year I’ll be in Atlanta for a week. If I were to plan a trip during the winter I’d go to Spain or Portugal or Paris or Rome or Prague or London. The list is endless…

8. Have friends over so you don’t have to go out

I’m running out of ideas…may as well have them bring the food too (like I did with our friend, Sue). Just kidding. Having Fireplace appfriends over for dinner in the dead of winter is a great idea. It’s comforting to be all snug inside with a fire going and sharing great food and drinks with close friends. Maybe a skate on the canal first to earn dinner.

9. Take up a hobby (in-door hobby)

How about knitting? Learn to knit a warm and cozy sweater with matching slippers. Or maybe a scarf to start with.

10. Take a wine course

This is a good one even though you’ll have to venture outdoors. As we’ve mentioned before, the LCBO in Ontario offers wine courses throughout the year. They’re well done and the instructors are very knowledgeable. If you go say hello to Dave at the Rideau Street LCBO for us.

Didn’t I see your skis and skates piled up in a heap in your back shed last time I was over?
No. My skis have been packed neatly away in the basement. It may have been the skates you saw.
I’d like proof they’ve been more recently used than a few years ago.
Did you not see the photos?
We all saw them. You’re not in them. I think it would be more interesting if you had slept with a Yurt, not in one.
Me too.
So what are you knitting? Seriously – I’d like to know.
I didn’t mean me. It’s an indoor activity for those like yourself who will not venture out in the winter.
What do you mean go out to a movie in the winter? Having been home sick for three days this week (because it’s winter) I watched about 20 movies on Netflix. I’m good.
You and everyone else.
Didn’t we both lose our fireplaces in our separations?
We did and I’m bitter about that.
You mean bitterly cold.
That’s what I love about you, your positivity.
Okay – I’d venture out to the LCBO for a wine tasting class. Or any other reason.
I was quite sure this suggestion would get you out of the house.
And you were right but at the end of the winter, I’m going to make you post pictures of your knitting.
You’re on.