The Canning Kitchen

The Canning Kitchen coverI love it when bloggers experience success especially when it’s a blogger I’ve been following for some time. Seeing them on TV or their books in print, make me excited for them . . .mostly because I know that it probably took years of building a relationship with readers and juggling many plates while trying to deliver the best content. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for fellow Canadian bloggers, in particular Savvy Storytellers.

When I saw that Amy Bronee from Family Feedbag, a go-to for quick and easy family friendly recipes, had published a book, I wanted to share it with you.

The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes is a must-have companion to the bountiful summer harvest season. I have wanted to try my hand at dill pickles and this book covers the classics but it also inspires with new recipes like for Salted Caramel Pear Butter.

Canning isn’t just for grandma anymore!  Give it a try and enjoy the taste of summer all year long.

To order your copy of The Canning Kitchen click here.


Toronto’s Only Urban Homesteading Store

Little House In The City truly is a hidden gem in this city – maybe even the entire country!

Located at 555 Parliament St., just around the corner from the ever popular Riverdale Farm, Little House In The City is Toronto’s first urban homesteading and sustainable living store . . .and it’s co-owned by Carol!

What is urban homesteading? It’s really a lifestyle.  It’s about taking a step backwards, living more simply and making a conscious effort to create a more sustainable, low-impact life.


Take time to sew using these whimsical fabrics.

Take time to sew using these whimsical fabrics.

Buttons galore! Useful for a myriad of craft projects and very pretty to look at.

Buttons galore! Useful for a myriad of craft projects and very pretty to look at.

Little House In The City has a wide variety of supplies to support creative adventures and DIYs in and for your home.  In addition to being ethical and sustainable, these simple activities will encourage a newfound confidence in your homemaking abilities. They also have beautifully crafted ready-made gifts that made with organic or sustainable materials like the stunning cheese boards made of reclaimed wood that Nathalie received for her birthday.

The neutral tones of this pottery would off-set a colourful, summer salad or rich, wintery stew quite nicely.

The neutral tones of this pottery would off-set a colourful, summer salad or rich, wintery stew quite nicely.

Whether it be cheese making, fermenting, soap making or sewing Carol, and her partner Carla, will guide you in selecting the right tools for the job.

Beginners: don’t feel intimidated!  I purchased the sprout growing kit with organic seeds and I followed Carol’s instructions.  Within a few days we were adding alfalfa to our sandwiches and salads – and I can barely keep houseplants alive!

Coming soon, Little House In The City will offer classes for adults and children, hands-on demonstrations and community events to teach and inspire others to live more mindfully.

Here are some of my favourite things!

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In The Garden

It always amazes me what I learn from my children.  In five years my knowledge of trucks, diggers and transporters has multiplied.  I now know more characters from Star Wars than Darth Vader and the difference between a cocoon and a chrysalis.

As my boys develop their interests it’s a reminder to me that they are not extensions of me but unique individuals, each with their own hobbies, special abilities and passions.

My five-year-old son has always been keen on plants.  This year his kindergarten teacher called me to comment on his enthusiasm and existing knowledge base while they studied plants and root systems but his interest is nothing new.

As a toddler he waddled about the garden after my 85 year old grandmother with a watering can between his arms, and drops of water splashing him as he followed her in earnest.  By the time he was four, he could easily spot the difference between a regular garden weed and an immature tomato plant.  He knows when to pick the cucumbers, how much water our hydrangea needs and how to transplant a growing bean.

He knows all of this in spite of my “black thumb”.

This summer he continues to toil in the vegetable gardens of his grandmothers and eagerly anticipates this season’s hull.  He has also taken to growing beans in his room with the intention of relocating them to the patch when they prove to be “ready”.  Naturally, I have no clue when this might occur but he seems to be confident in his assessment.

He has a knack for making things grow, like the avocado roots he is experimenting with (see below), and I have an uncanny ability to do the complete opposite.  How many people can say with certainty that they have killed a cactus?   How exactly does one care for a cactus?

Well learn, I will.  Next week our library swag will include some highly sought-after green thumb books geared to kids.  Thank you to Delightful Children’s Books for their top ten gardening books for kids and the inspiration.

The books on my son’s library list include the following:

Growing Vegetable Soup
by Lois Elhert

Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow: A Compost Story by Linda Glaser and Shelley Rotner

The Gardening Book by Jane Bull

From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons

Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together With Children by Sharon Lovejoy

The Eternal Optimism of the Backyard Gardener.

In my mind, I am many things, most of which I won’t share. Because I won’t, so don’t ask.

Of all of those things, I can tell you that one of them is “gardener”. The appellation of “gardener” rests most uneasily, because it really not very true. In fact, it’s not true at all.  As much as I might want it to be the case, I’m really all sweet talk, no action when it comes to putting in a garden, maintaining it, weeding it and watering it. I want all the benefits but none of the work. I want to grow prize-winning tomatoes, but I’m too lazy to stake them. I weed sporadically, usually when I’m on the phone. The only remotely successful thing I’ve (correction: We’ve) ever grown were some green bean plants last summer, which provided us with more green beans than we knew that to do with (I lie: they got turned into pickled green beans and all was right with the world, but I digress). I’m still half-convinced that was a fluke.

Here’s what I do every spring: I always, ALWAYS start every growing season by making a grand plan for the garden. After I’ve decided what I’m going to grow, I fantasize about working in the garden with my boys, teaching them about varietals of flowers, showing them how to pick off the runners on tomato plants. We’ll plant three different types of peppers, twelve herbs, four types of tomatoes, some asparagus, and a full butterfly garden full of indigenous wild flowers. And of course,  it will all fit and grow under the branches of the very large tree in my backyard, whose canopy shades all but a three-by-two foot patch of clay-like soil right at the back of the yard beside where my neighbour keeps her garbage cans.  Won’t it?

Some time in June I’ll buy the best of what’s left at the local garden centre and haphazardly throw it into the soil. By August every year, I have to again face the fact that I’m not really any good at this gardening stuff. I mean, I like it. I know what I’m supposed to do to get the green shoots to keep growing and the pretty things to smell good. I’m just unrealistic about what I can achieve, underwhelmed by how much work I need to do to get even half-way there, and just a bit annoyed that gardening is actually, you know, work, and not just a way to get free tomatoes every night. But that hasn’t stopped me from starting to peruse the seed displays at our local Canadian Tire on my way to work and wondering whether we have enough room to grow watermelons.