Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo ~ Book Review

My Little French Kitchen: Over 100 Recipes from the Mountains, Market Squares, and Shores of France by Rachel Khoo is a delicious journey through six different regions of France. 

My Little French Kitchen book with my marked recipes! 

Having grown up in France myself, I enjoyed reading about Rachel Khoo's experiences in all the areas of France she visited, especially Provence and Alsace. The adorable illustrations throughout are drawn by Rachel.  

Provence ~ I love her illustrations and maps throughout the cookbook

I chose three recipes to try right away from this cookbook. Each recipe I tested was very well written with clear instructions and always a lovely personal introduction. 

Provencal Vegetable Bake about to go in the oven! 

The first recipe I tried was Tian Provencal, which is Provencal Vegetable Bake. Provence is the region I lived from the age of 5 to 18 when I moved across the Atlantic. There are many wonderful recipes I want to make in this section! 

The introduction explains that you might remember this dish from Ratatouille. It looks very similar to the dish Remy the rat helps Linguine make for the restaurant critic. A true ratatouille isn't like this dish though, even though it does use the same vegetables. Anyway, this was delicious and very tasty with onions, garlic, zucchini (from my garden!), eggplant, tomatoes, and a bit of fresh thyme (also from my garden). 

Ingredients for the Provencal Vegetable Bake (top) ~ Ready to eat! (bottom)

There were many recipes I wanted to test in this cookbook, so many that reminded me of my childhood! 

One I absolutely knew I had to make right away was the Croquettes. These are potato nuggets and a dish my maternal grandmother made regularly when I visited her. It is a great dish to use up leftovers. I made mine very simple with cheddar cheese, but you could add vegetables, meat, and different types of cheese to the mashed potatoes. This recipe was in the Lyon section of the book, but I think this is a dish made all over France. My grandparents lived south of Bordeaux, on a little farm. I loved spending my summers there with them. 

My croquettes weren't picture perfect but they were very yummy. My husband told me I could make these anytime. He really liked them! 


The third recipe I tried was Boules de neige a la noix de coco, which is coconut snowballs. A really great cookie which only uses 4 ingredients: egg whites, lemon juice, sugar, coconut flakes, and a pinch of salt. These are delicious and popular, especially in the Alsace region of France, which was where I was born. 

Strasbourg, where I was born! 

Snowball cookies ingredients (top) ~ Ready to eat for our Poetry Tea Time (bottom) 

I can't wait to make more of the recipes in Rachel Khoo's My Little French Kitchen and introduce my family to more dishes I grew up with in France! It will be great to make these with Celeste since she is really enjoying cooking lately! There are several vegetarian recipes and I will make the meat ones for my family. I only became vegetarian 3 years ago so I remember many of the dishes featured in this cookbook. 

My Little French Kitchen is a wonderful cookbook that introduces us (or re-introduces) to every day French home cooking! 

You can find My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo at:
and check your local bookstore!  

Disclosure: I received a sample book for review from Raincoast Books. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hopewell Rocks ~ Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

Hopewell Rocks is an incredible place to visit! The Hopewell Rocks are located in New Brunswick in the Bay of Fundy where some of the highest tides in the world happen. We walked on the ocean floor at low tide to see these magical rock formations created by the daily flow of tides. 

After a short walk from the interpretive centre, we reached the Staircase Cove to reach the beach and walk on the ocean floor at the lowest tide time. 

Lots of seaweed every where! 

Once on the beach, we walked as far as we could in each direction. We saw many rock formations and some of them have been named, like Lovers Arch, Diamond Rock, and Castle Cove. Each was amazing to look at! 

Flower Pot Rock

The Flower Pot Rocks are the most amazing because they have full size trees growing on the very top of the rock formations. 

The interpretive centre had really interesting displays. I particularly liked reading the ones explaining how the Flower Pot Rocks were formed and the Mi'kmaq legends about them. 

"In ancient times, there were unfortunate Mi’kmaq who were enslaved by angry Whales living in the Bay. There came a time when some tried to escape their captors. They managed to flee as far as the beach, but were captured by the angry Whales, and turned to stone. Their images remain today, encased in rock." Mi'kmaq Legend. 

Castle Cove

Amazing walk on the ocean floor! 

This one made me think of a person

We stayed until the tide started coming back. We noticed some of the parks staff heading to the far end to make sure no one was left behind.

Diamond Rock (I thought it looked more like a face profile!)

My husband made marks in the sand near the water's edge and we timed how quickly the water came up. It was really fast, about one minute to cover his mark. The Bay of Fundy has some of the highest tides in the world. High tide at Hopewell Rocks can be from 10 to 14 metres high. "The amount of water flowing in the Bay of Fundy in one tide cycle is equal to the outflow of all freshwater rivers in the world combined" (information from the touring companion brochure). 

So amazing! 

Walking in between rocks

After our time on the ocean floor, we headed back up and walked to the some of the lookouts for a different view. 

Diamond Rock from higher up! 

The "Chocolate river" effect is because the mudflats get stirred up by the movement of the water with the tides. 

The Bay of Fundy Mudflats were amazing to see as well, and to learn about. There are several areas in the Bay of Fundy and they, along with the marshes nearby, are vitally important to many migrating shorebirds and other wildlife. You can read more about this on the Hopewell Rocks website here.


We loved our visit to Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick and for me, it was my first trip off island since moving to PEI three years ago! I am looking forward to exploring more of Atlantic Canada! 

How We Do "Not Back to School" ~ Easing Into It!

This month's topic for the Canadian Homeschooling Bloggers Team is to share what we do for our "not back to school" or how we kick off the new homeschool year. 

Over the last 10 years that I have homeschooled my children, we have always eased slowly into the new homeschool year. We focus on the main subjects at first, Math and Language Arts, and each week or two, add more to our routine. 
We all liked mixing getting back to our routine with many fun afternoons with friends or on our own. 

Now that it is only Celeste homeschooling, we continue the same "method" of easing back slowly into it. Spending time at our beautiful Prince Edward Island beaches is a favourite for Celeste so we try to take advantage of nice beach weather as much and as long as possible. We also make sure to start routines that we love, like Poetry Tea Time! 

Poetry Tea Time ~ September 2014

I decided to look back in my archives for blog posts I wrote in the past for "not back to school", especially when all 3 children were homeschooled. I have added two snippets from "not back to school" posts. I enjoyed reading these again and I hope you will too! 

Adrienne and Clara, September 2008
[September 3, 2008] First day back to a routine...somewhat:
I had planned to take this week very slowly, easing back into our home school routine. The start date was supposed to be yesterday, but we ended up helping out my cousin by looking after her two adorable little girls for the day (my kids were so pleased to have another day off, lol). Today, Daddy was home, so I knew school work would be minimal and a big bushel of local Roma tomatoes was also ready to prepare for sauce.

Now that the day is done, the tomato sauce is cooling off before going in the freezer in the morning, the children are sound asleep for the night, and Daddy is watching TV downstairs...I can look back and see that we had a productive day. Earlier...I wasn't so sure!

Adrienne (11) started her business math by choosing a name and creating a logo for her pet store. She also completed the first lesson in her Growing with Grammar. We read the introduction to the History Odyssey and organized the binder. Andre (9) worked on the clock unit by Math Mammoth, read 2 chapters from the Railway Children and answered the questions. Even Celeste (4) did her calendar work this morning! We also practiced the alphabet song and her letters. She had never showed any interest in letters before, so we are starting from the very beginning!

Considering that my hands were busy for most of the morning processing tomatoes, either peeling them or getting the seeds out or squeezing the extra juice out....I am amazed we managed to get anything done!

Fun at the Park: Celeste (6), Andre (11), Adrienne (13), September 2010

[September 9, 2010] Our not-back-to-school day:

Yesterday, Wednesday, was our "not-back-to-school" day.
We already had started back to our school work in August, but we usually like to do something fun on the day that the public school children go back.

The official back to school day for the children around here was Tuesday, but for us Tuesday and Monday were days spent in sadness, in a funeral home grieving the death of Babi, who was my husband's grandmother and legal guardian from the time he was five years old. She was my children's great-grandma and a big part of our lives.

One of my friends here pointed out that the "not-back-to-school day" could be called "freedom day", and I agree completely with her. With homeschooling, we have great freedom. We have the freedom to choose when we do "school work" and when we don't. We can choose what schedule to follow, we learn all the time and we have been back to our school work since the beginning of August, just because that is what works for us.

Yesterday, my kids enjoyed a super-relaxing day, playing video games, playing tennis and visiting the playground. We are also taking the rest of this week off, to play, talk and relax. The school work can wait. I have had the chance to appreciate the flexibility of homeschooling for positive events like vacations and such, but I now realize that in time of grief and sadness homeschooling offers wonderful flexibility and freedom as well.

How do you celebrate your "not back to school"? Check out this link at The Canadian Homeschooler to read the answer to that question from other Canadian homeschoolers! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Weekly Journal ~ Origami, Shucking Oysters, Homeschool and Beach Days!

Another great week filled with beach days, time with friends, homeschool routine, and unique experiences too! 

{Note: I have added links throughout the post, instead of at the bottom. The Brave Writer link will bring you to my affiliate store, please consider using it if you are interested in purchasing BW. I would also be very happy to chat with you about the Brave Writer lifestyle if you wish, you can find all my contact information here. }

We started the week with an early start on Monday morning so we could head to the beach before lunch! Celeste even did her school work in her bathing suit..

Teaching Texbooks Math 

After I read aloud from The Mysterious Benedict Society to her, she did the copywork for that week's Arrow from Brave Writer while I prepared my beach lunch. Celeste had made her own lunch while I read. Team work! 

Prepping my lunch: quinoa tabouli + avocado hummus with fresh garden beans
The beach was perfect and we had a great time with friends again. We are so grateful to live here, with beaches within short distance from our home! 

Brackley Beach

Tuesday was the Island Food Skills workshop with a visit to Colville Bay Oyster Company to learn about oysters and to the Inn at Bay Fortune. Celeste learned how to shuck oysters there with Chef Michael Smith

Colville Bay Oyster Company

Wednesday was the usual routine of homeschool work in the morning. Celeste decided that as much as she enjoyed learning about tornadoes, she would rather write about My Little Pony Friendship is Magic for her Brave Writer Faultering Ownership writing project. She started her research by writing questions for herself of things she wanted to find out about her very favourite show, then did lots of research and writing all week! 

My Little Pony Research for her Writing Project!

We chose to stay home Wednesday afternoon. We had a great time building Lego houses together and watching Harry Potter. 

This week we have enjoyed learning about France's history, especially Louis XIV. with Pandia Press History Odyssey. Celeste is getting more comfortable with writing her narration down which is great to see. I think Brave Writer has truly helped her get more confident. 

We spent Thursday evening at the beach with a picnic dinner and swim. So wonderful! 

Friday was another morning of homeschool work. We then headed to do grocery shopping, with a quick stop at Owl's Hollow first. We were so pleased to find a new set of Story Cubes. We really enjoy playing word games as part of our Brave Writer Lifestyle routine. We usually do word games on Wednesday, but pick them up any day of the week too! 

Saturday morning, Celeste and I attended a really cool Etsy Maker Cities workshop on Origami. It was so much fun and the host Derrick was amazing! I attended the launch party for Etsy Maker Cities week and also a workshop on how to start up. I have signed up for several workshops and really looking forward to this week! 

It was another awesome week, I hope yours was great as well! Have a great Sunday!