A country wedding: my brother got married!

Last weekend we traipsed off to Creston for my brother’s wedding at my parent’s house in the countryside. We took the three dogs with us (and picked up a guinea pig on the way back, but that’s another story!) so we were sort of like a pack of clowns packed into our VW station wagon. It was the hottest day of the year – yikes! 40 degrees. But we made it there, and dropped off the old two dogs at the kennel for the weekend.

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For the weekend, we stayed in my parent’s RV on their property. The kids ran around, playing and visiting, and we got a chance to catch up with some dear friends and relations.

On Saturday, we took off to Fort Steele to explore with my BFF, Von, and her brood. Little did I know that Fort Steele is totally pet friendly, but because of the heat, I was glad we put Tully in air-conditioned daycare. The clear skies made for gorgeous pictures.

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For those that haven’t had the pleasure, Fort Steele is a heritage town in the Kootenay region of BC. There are a lot of working people and animals on site. Our family has a little history there. My father, when he was working on a ground squirrel project during his undergrad, spent a summer at Fort Steele. He worked with the Clydesdales. Some forty years later, the Clydesdales are still a huge part of the place… I saw four working teams in a few hours. Amazingly beautiful horses.

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We had lots of fun with Vn and Trev and their family. It’s a weird coincidence that we both have identical twin girls.. makes for some interesting observation.

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Jason and I remarked on how different it is to visit with small kids and medium ones. von constantly had three kids around her legs. Ah, small children. Our almost-nine-year-olds went off on the wagon ride with Vona and Trev, and explored much of the village themselves, leaving Jason and I to peek at things that interested us, like the old pharmacy. He really would have loved to read what was on those bottles… we were betting many of them were herbal tinctures, like we have at our clinic.

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We ate at the bakery, panned for gold, and rode the train…

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As I took this picture, I was thinking about the hair styling to be done the next day for the wedding. Sugar and Spice’s hair had just been taken out from extensions, and was wrapped up in buns full of hair oil.

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Back at the homestead, more and more people arrived. My parents had five or six RVs parked in their yard, plus  tents full of people. The rest stayed in the hotel at the end of the road, so it was really busy around their place. Mom and Dad were wonderful hosts, and ate up all the time they got to visit. Several pancake breakfasts, a BBQ, impromptu sandwich lunches, and of course, a wedding dinner, all was made in their kitchen. Thank goodness it was renovated, just in time!

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My main job at the wedding was to make the flower girls look fabulous… which I did!

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But everyone helped out. You can see my brother and his groomsmen lifting the beer kegs outside…

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Dad drove us slightly nuts by watering the road 20 minutes before the wedding. Notice the same activity as the horses picture above? It’s a dry summer. Anyway, he did manage to get into his suit in time, so no harm done. I think he stayed in the suit for 30 minutes before he changed back into his “hippy homesteader” gear.

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We all got dapper – Jason was tying a bowtie for the first time. Finally he gave up and let me do it. I’m sure he’ll get it himself next time…

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The girls picked flowers to throw in front of the bride. Sugar raided mom’s indoor plants, below.

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And Spice with the bride, just before the ceremony. M looked lovely, in a dress her bridesmaid made for her.

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The ceremony was out in the yard, just out of reach of the shade. Thank goodness the ceremony was short! But I have to say that their vows, M’s especially, were the sweetest I have ever heard. We were all crying… or my side of the family was, anyway. You can who is in my family by how easily we cry.

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The flower girls shared the spotlight with their new cousin, super Z, (M’s nephew,) who wore a cape with a big Z on it. Very Marvel comics.

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And post wedding pictures… not the official ones, the candid ones!

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Mom really looked lovely, and trusted me that her hippy homesteader hair (done by yours truly) was indeed appropriate for the occasion. It looked gorgeous!

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I was very please how our family pictures turned out. We actually snapped them right before the wedding, before the crazy.

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My darling little sister…

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My best friend Von…

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My pseudo-nieces, the “other twins…”

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I would be remiss to describe the wedding without describing the food. M’s brother and sister-in-law are professional chefs. They own the fabulous artisan bakery in Osoyoos (check it out!) Somehow I didn’t manage to get a picture of the pulled pork sandwiches they made (smoked on my parent’ front porch for three days) or the smoked artic char, or the salads… maybe because I was eating it. Let’s just say : yum. And for dessert, pies made by my mom and cousin Dave. AMAZING…

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My sister Ena, M’s dad and brother had been part of the jam circles that happened all weekend. At some point they figured out that they all knew the first dance song, so they ditched the MP3 and did it live, much to B and M’s delight. Note the homemade dance floor made out of pallets…

Dad and another little one breaking it down…

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Jason and I both love dancing, so as long as my knees could handle it, we were up there…

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…and long after the afore-mentioned knees gave out, the girls were out there boogying. They stayed up o close the night.

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We had a lot of fun! My mom’s side of the family loves dancing too, so our cousins, aunt and uncle danced almost the whole evening too. Three of them came all the way from Sierra Leone for the wedding… so nice. It was delightful to spend time with them. My sis and brother-in-law M DJed a heck of a night!

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Since this post will be passed around, I just wanted to send lots of love out to my brother and his new wife. May you have lots of fun in your new marriage, just like the beautiful wedding you planned.

And to my parents, who are breathing deeply (but still taking care of my kids for this week!) thank you. you were the host gracious, kind and generous hosts.

Sisters Trip to Portland

Before Christmas, my brother in law asked me to find a CD of Damien Rice,  in Irish folk/rock singer for my sister Ena’s Christmas present. Despite looking in the few stores, I didn’t have any luck on the CD. No one buys physical music these days! But one evening in May, I came across concert tickets for the same guy, performing in Portland. I thought “what the heck, she’ll love it,” and spontaneously bought the tickets. I mailed one to her when they arrived, and announced that we were going on a road trip, wether she liked it or not. Ena was delighted! And so in April, we headed off on our four day whirlwind trip down to Portland to see an Irish folk singer.

Ena and I live a few mountain ranges away from each other, so we agreed to meet in Spokane and then continue on our way to Portland.

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Apparently my brother-in-law was slightly concerned about our ability to meet up in a foreign city without cell phones (I ditched mine almost a year ago when our clinic opened and my daily work/home life shrunk within three blocks.) Surprise surprise, maps and preplanned meeting times still work.

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Ena and I explore the sites of Spokane, including taking a gondola ride over the river. That was pretty cool.

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We scrounged up some gluten-free grub at Gastro pub in a trendy Spokane residential neighborhood, and headed out for our night in the cabin.

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For our budget trip, I had booked a cabin in Potholes State Park. It was practically deserted this time of the year, and we had a restful sleep, waking to the sound of the marsh humming on our doorstep.

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Then onto Portland!

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We stayed at an HI hostel, right in the middle of a trendy shopping and residential neighbourhood. It was great! I’ve stayed at countless hostels, all over the world, and this was one of the best… Clean, simple rooms, a beautiful shaded garden between the four buildings that constitute the hostel, and spacious kitchen to make our own food.

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We rode the tram to the concert, and found it very easy to get around. 

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Otherwise, our time was spent shopping, eating and walking.

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I wanted to see what the hipsters (and their dogs!) We’re wearing, to incorporate new ideas into my store. I definitely picked up some awesome product ideas, as well as some cute low boots.

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Spending a couple of days there, I really jived with Portland. It is beautifully lush, and the laid back atmosphere and attention to style really suits me. I’ve always said if I ever had to live in the U.S., it would be in San Francisco, but maybe, in the imaginary border crossing, it would be Portland instead.

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After too short of a visit, we headed back home. This time, we drove north, then east, and spent the night in a yurt in a wooded state park.

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The next morning, we took a hike through the woods, following the river, and got our legs ready for the long journey home.

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A trip like this is a special gift. And that’s the way I feel about my sister. As teens, we often didn’t see eye to eye. I thought she was reckless and she thought I was a stick in the mud. But by the time our twenties rolled around, we realized that we have way more in common than we ever thought. We share interests, values, and a lot of great jokes. For the last 18+ years, I’m lucky to have counted her around my best of friends.

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Bonus picture! For fans of my puppy:

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Stinging Nettle Chickpea Salad

Stinging nettle chickpea salad with bacon

Yesterday, we ventured into a new realm of wild crafting cooking. It was the first time I cooked stinging nettles. Everyone loved it!

There is a fellow in town who makes a living wild harvesting plants and mushrooms. He sells them to local chefs and our grocery service, Urban Harvest. When we saw the nettles as an option in our weekly grocery delivery, we ordered one bag for the clinic (my husband practices herbal veterinary medicine,) and one bag for the house. Herbal tinctures are easy to make. But nettles to eat?

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First, I read a bit about cooking nettles and making them safe. The Wolf College has a lovely helpful post… We saw these guys at the Mother Earth News Fair, and they were fabulous! I felt reasonably confident I wasn’t going to burn my children’s mouths out.

Then I went to the garden shed, got some gloves, and ventured in!

Recipe: cook little bits of bacon in some olive oil. Add a can of washed chickpeas. Stir about in the bacon fat. Meanwhile, with gloves! Wash the stinging nettles. Chop them up, and boil them in salty water for five minutes. Now you can handle the nettles. Drain and throw them in with the bacon and chick peas, add a little sweet mustard, champagne vinegar, salt, and well! Delicious, hot, stinging nettles salad. I served it with garlic roasted squash.

Enjoy! And remember, wear gloves until the nettles are cooked.

Wine Wednesday: Tarima Organic Monastrell

alicante-bodega

Can you imagine a wine growing region that is so hot and dry, the vines can’t be grown in rows? Instead, the 30 year old vines are grown in a funnel shape, to capture the maximum moisture, and sent it directly to the root of the plant.

Yesterday I picked up a 2012 bottle of Tarima Organic wine, from  Bodegas Volver. The grapes for this juicy, hot-blooded wine are grown in a harshly warm climate off the coast of Spain, on the west side of the Mediterranean. The region is DO Alicante, which is close to one of my favourite Spanish wine areas, DO Jumilla.

I poured the inky purple wine into short Riedel glasses for supper. “I can’t tell what colour it is!” one of my daughters said, and she went to the office to get a piece of white paper to hold underneath it. (Yes, this is Sugar, the Little Chef.)

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The wine was opaquely purple. Everything about it showed the climate it was grown in.

It had intense aromas of red bricks, cherry, steel, cinnamon, coal brickets. It’s incredibly intense – I can’t imagine enjoying it without food, but then again, I can’t imagine not enjoying it with food! We served it with mashed sunchokes and potatoes, bison steak and shitake mushrooms. It needed all those big flavours to cope with the intensity of the wine.

More cherries to taste, and this dusty, tumbleweed, herbaceous flavour. Hot with alcohol, but balanced with high acidity and dusty, soft tannins in full force.

Absolutely intense, and delicious, and for under $20 – great deal! Maybe a new grilling favourite?

Chechebsa, genfo and Ethiopian breakfast

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve barely cooked an Ethiopian food in the last 6 months. Maybe because it takes time, and I’ve been short on that! I’ve made some lentils and tibs, but I haven’t taken the time to make injera from scratch.

So a resolution… to make an Ethiopian feast (with enough sauces to stock the freezer) some time in February!

And, I might try some Ethiopian breakfast food one Sunday. A friend posted this great page with a recipe for Chechebsa which I really enjoy in Oromo country in Ethiopia. I think I might give it a try! T, Mom and I often order it when we are going through Debra Zeit, at the restaurant along the highway. It won’t taste the same, but my girls might enjoy it too.

One thing I won’t be cooking, though, is genfo. Ew. Sorry, genfo lovers, but that stuff is just gross. Healthy, yes, but gross. I’ve had some at an Ethiopian baby shower, and a couple times at special Ethiopian holidays. But no matter how many times I try it – ew. But don’t let me deter you. You can try the paste for yourself.

Anyone else have a favourite Ethiopian breakfast food?