Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chirstmas Eve

I cannot believe it has been another month since posting...and that it is Christmas Eve already!!! What have I been doing you ask? Well I have been busily trying to get myself organized and ready for teaching next semester so that I can relax for a couple of days and finish off the first chapter of my PhD thesis! When not working I have been busily preparing the house for our Christmas at home. We typically go to Mexico or Ontario, but this year we decided to have a Halifax Christmas. So I got some pine and cedar branches, and large pine cones for some festive decorating.
I really wanted to keep this Christmas as low impact as possible. So we used our Norfolk Pine houseplant as our tree. I finally got around to decorating our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree!
Do you see the resemblance?
Our Norfolk Pine is only about 60 cm tall (with the pot!). I was afraid to put more than the felted snowman, santa and candy canes for fear that it would break in half. It is leaning sadly over just like the one above...but it is better than no tree!

To keep with the sustainable theme, I made all of my gifts. This was a labour of love and took a lot of my evenings and weekends to get them all ready for giving. I made 200 peanut butter balls, 3 dozen molasses cookies and a batch of my memere's (endearing word for grandma in french) sucre a creme (or fudge in english).
Here they are after their chocolate bath!
I couldn't resist a molasses cookie...
I also made my own honey sweetened apple sauce with the apples we picked in the fall.
I also made some cute labels for my creations...I also made an orange scented body lotion using this recipe on Healthy Living with a Twist and a revitalizing (peppermint scent) sugar body scrub using EcoYogini's recipe.
Last but not least are little aloe plants I received from a friend and decided to share in little "pots" purchased at Value Village, a second hand store.
I also wanted to make Christmas as traditional as possible...well actually a melding of 3 cultural traditions...French Canadian (my mom's side), English Canadian (my dad's side) and Mexican. What better way to do that than through food...
Here I am making tourtiere, a french Canadian meat pie...
The finished product! We will likely eat these on New Year's eve. Last night we ate Mole Poblano (chicken with a spicy chocolate gravy) with homemade corn tortillas. I made it in my new enamel cast iron dutch oven! Thanks Mom!!
Typically, mole poblano at Christmas time is eaten in a dish called Romeritos. This is a typical dish from Mexico city that has dried shrimp and a plant that is called romerito and resembles rosemary. I am not a fan of shrimp and romerito is hard to come by in Halifax, so we went with chicken.

Tomorrow, we will have turkey with all the trimmings! I have been busy but promise to keep up over the holidays!

Merry Christmas everyone! May your holidays be filled with the warmth of family and friends!

Love,
Alli

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Last Hike

We found out last Thursday that Claudia, Rodrigo and Santiago are going back to Mexico. There were many reasons for this but they said they liked Canada and hoped to return soon. Since the news Diego and I have been trying to enjoy our last week together and do as many Canadian things as we can before they go. On Sunday we went for a beautiful hike at Gibralter Rock along the Musquodoboit Rail Trail. For more info click here. What an incredible trail!
It was a steep hike up especially with a one year old in our arms but the view from the top was breathtaking!
You could see the entire valley! Diego and I thought that it would be a great hike in the winter with gampons, right after a snowfall... snowcaps on all the trees...especially early in the snow season when it is not too cold!
The forest itself was really dense, full of moss, lichens and ferns...so guess who went camera crazy...
Doesn't this look like a snowy layer?
What a lovely lichen!
The forest on the way back down to the "mountain" (ie: very large hill) was still and quiet, full of evergreens and obviously very damp with its moss carpet.
So many boulders covered in moss with small trees...
There isn't much soil here for the trees and much of the damage from Hurricane Juan in 2003 was still apparent, interspersed with the hope of new life. (See my other post here about Hurricane Damage)
After the hike we went down to Martinique Beach, a very long fine white sand beach.
It is a Provincial Park just south of Musquodoboit Harbour bounded on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and the other by a huge salt marsh. It is our favorite beach and also one I take my students too for my summer class.
Here is Tio (uncle) Diego showing Santiago the ocean.
To finish off the day we had fish n' chips. It was an amazing day...very Nova Scotian. We all got the chance to explore somewhere new and enjoy each others company. We will miss them.

Hope you are all have a great week!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Where to begin...

It has been 42 days since my last post and I feel a little hesitant about it. Not for any other reason than I have fallen out of the habit... well here goes. Since I last posted so much has happened!
I guess I will start with the awesome field trip I did with my students to Point Pleasant Park (seen above) in October. For those of you who are not familiar with the Point Pleasant, it is a large urban park on the tip of the Halifax peninsula. In 2003 it was hit hard by Hurricane Juan (see before and after pics below!), so we have a trip every year in October student visit the same 6 sites around the park and measure the regrowth of the trees and other vegetation.
Before and after Hurricane Juan photo of the same spot in Point Pleasant Park
Students estimating the percent cover of ground vegetation in a 1x1 m Wood Frame

Although, there is a lot of regrowth... ...it will take a LONG time for the trees to come back! I discovered 2 things on this field trip. 1) The students LOVE field trips (even in the rain)!!! I am brainstorming all kinds of ideas to get them out even more, what a wonderful way to learn. 2) Terrestrial habitats fascinate me just as much as marine and I have opened a whole can of worms!!! ;)
Let's just say I am getting ready for the next field trip...or really that I am now obsessed with learning about the land around me now that I am comfortable with the ocean!
Thanksgiving was a blast!! It was The Mexicans's (Diego's sister Clau, her husband Rore and their son Santiago) first Thanksgiving so we had a party! We invited a few friend and as usual, I was the only Canadian...who would have thought sushi would go well with turkey! Diversity is wonderful! :)Add ImageDiego and I celebrated our 7th Anniversary in a cabin in the woods. This one room cabin has no electricity or running water...just a wood stove for heat and propane stove for cooking and candles to see by. What a wonderful place! It is located on the property of a place called Windhorse Farm they are an organic farm that also has a large property where they sustainably harvest wood using a team of horses. They also have a variety of cabins and retreats and tons of hiking!!! Guess who brought all her new plant books with her... We spent the weekend eating, hiking, identifying plants and mushrooms...making tea with sweet fern and playing checkers. Here are some pics I took of this wonderful place.
Can't you just see a smurf walking out of this mushroom?
Some fruiting lichens (a grey species with pink spots and a green species with orange spots!)
Other delicate lichens among the moss.
Last but not least, a rooster video! (I though of you Teresa!)
video

There...that wasn't so bad...actually I am really enjoying this...I think my break has been long enough!! I will post again soon! I just want to let you all know that although I am not commenting, I have been keeping up and am enjoying reading all your blogs!!
My best to you all!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Checking In

Life since my last post has been just INSANE!!

I was in BC for 5 days total...not very long at all. However, I did get to enjoy my morning runs around UBC campus (except for the beach security guards that kept kicking me off the beach because it wasn't yet 8 am!) but did not get to the cupcake place Teresa mentioned. :(
I did get to visit my cousin in Victoria whom I haven't seen in 7 years! She has three kids and a husband that I met for the first time! We had a great time!
This is the view from their deck and the birthday pie Pheonix (eldest daughter) and I made for her dad with blackberries she and her brother Paul picked the day before. It was a lemon blackberry pie and was DELICIOUS!
Upon arriving I was rocketed into my new job teaching the lab portion of a second year University course in Ecology (~150 students). I absolutely love it BUT every day is crazy and I am living week to week and working 6 days a week! Luckily, next semester will be the same thing over again so I will have a little more time to breathe now that everything will be prepared!
Here is an experiment I set up in the greenhouse for the students. They will be looking at the the effect of crowding on the growth of corn plants. From left to right you have an increasing number of plants per pot (1, 2, 4, 8 and 16). You can see that the pots with one or 2 are WAY taller than the ones with 8 or 16! Ah competition...for light, water and nutrients. Such a simple experiment yet very effective!

At the same time as all of this insanity... Diego's sister, brother-in-law and their son moved to Halifax from Mexico!!! They live in the flat below us, so we have been busily helping them adjust to life in a colder and culturally (and linguistically) different country! We took them apple picking yesterday. What a glorious day it was, sunny but cool!
We picked Cortland and MacIntosh apples and 2 kinds of pears.
We left with 3 - 10 lb bags of apples and pears, a squash, a sweet pumpkin (for pies of course!), a 10 lb bag of beets and some sunflowers!
That's me in the back picking my 8 for $2!!! SCORE!
I don't forsee any calmness in the near future but just so you know even if I don't post for a little while...I am still alive and well! Even though I am not posting comments, I am keeping up with everyone!! I will post again soon!

Warmest wishes to you all! Enjoy the fall! :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Morning Run

I am in Vancouver, British Columbia...on the west coast of Canada for a workshop. This morning I woke up bright and early as I am still on east coast time (4 hours head!) and went for a run on the beach... this was the view!
I will finish my workshop tomorrow and then I am off to Victoria on Vancouver Island to visit my cousin that I have not seen in at least 8 years! I am excited to see her! I will post more on my adventures later...our break is almost over!

I hope you are all having a great week!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Celebration!

Yesterday was my 31st birthday and to celebrate Diego planned a nice big party for me! It wasn't a surprise party but nonetheless I was very happy with the idea!

So we invited about 40 people including kids. Although only half could make it we had GREAT time! We ate Mexican Carnitas (which means "little meat"), salsas, guacamole, frijoles charros (cowboys style beans) among other goodies that everyone brought! As usual we ate our fill an have a tonne left...it is my mom in me coming out! ;)

Although, we told people not to bring gifts that just coming to the party was gift enough, I did receive some wonderful gifts!!
This wonderful bead set and instructional manual will set me up for making jewelry...which I wear a lot of...Diego thinks I was a crow in a past life! And a gift certificate from the GAP...the gift that keeps on giving! Not only do I get the surprise of opening it but to go shopping for a gift!!!
This soap dispenser was from Lisa and Andrew...they knew just what I needed to beautifully display my homemade liquid hand soap! Not to mention it is made in Canada and GLASS! Thanks!! :) The pottery in the photo was handmade by a very good friend and I am delighted to have a piece of her art in my kitchen! I will use it often!
Last but definitely not least was the gift Diego gave me. He bought me a gorgeous set of Labradorite (my new favorite stone!) jewelry (ring, earrings and a pendent)...the photo of the ring does NOT do the stone's beauty justice! Labradorite is a type of feldspar mineral in the plagioclase family that are a major constituent of the Earth's crust but this particular type of crystal is only found near Nain in Labrador, Canada.

The party lasted well into the night (3:30 am to be exact!) and we drank lots of tequila, laughed, told stories and played guitar. We were so happy that Hurricane Bill did not arrive as predicted at midnight! In anticipation for the hurricane, just before bed Diego and I raided the tomato plants for fear that we would lose them to the winds!
Now that the high winds and rain are almost over and our headaches are almost gone it will be time to get to the cleaning! Luckily, we had enough foresight and help from the troopers who stayed until the end to most of the cleaning last night!

Than you ALL for a wonderful birthday! It was the best b-day party in a long time!