As Good As It Gets

No, this post is not about a Jack Nicholson movie.

It’s about appreciating and enjoying the beautiful simplicity of life, so perfectly described in the above song by Colin Hay.  I recently rediscovered this song and am remembering just how much I love it and its message.  I encourage you to listen while you read.  I listened while I wrote.

“My, my, my, it’s a beautiful world” he sings, “I like swimming in the sea”.  Throughout the song he croons about all the simple things that make the world beautiful to him: making his own tea, driving in his car, sleeping with Marie and of course, swimming in the sea.

It’s a lesson I learned growing up in rural Nova Scotia.  That ambition is great and all, but one should never lose sight of the things that are really important in life: time spent with family and friends.  My parents, my family, they appreciate the simple life.  We never had much money, but we had all the things that were important and we had them in abundance.  Along the way I have also learned how important it is to connect with the environment we live in, to feel part of something bigger than yourself – and thus Maritime Love was born.

“Still this emptiness persists.  Perhaps this is as good as it gets”

Most of the time I think we make life a lot more complicated than it has to be.  We hurry through life, trying to accomplish as much as possible along the way but never really experiencing any of it.  There is so much joy to be had in the little things in life, if only we took the time to fully appreciate and be grateful for them.  I tend to think that this is where the true meaning of life is secretly tucked away: in the quiet moments we share with loved ones and the world around us.  When we slow down long enough to really taste the tea, to feel the wind in our hair and the water buoy us up.  Some might say that this is the space where God lives.  I don’t know about that, but I know that it’s a place where I aspire to live.

“I watch the sun as it comes up, I watch it as it sets.  Yeah, this is as good as it gets”

It sure is.

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Growing Season in the Maritimes: Garlic Scape Pesto

This is not a food blog.  And I am definitely not a chef.  That being said, if we are going to talk about life in the Maritimes, food has to be part of the conversation.  Because we all love food and each region has a unique take on it.

I love this time of year.  Fresh local produce is starting to roll out in grocery stores and farmers markets.  I’ve been gorging on strawberries while I can get them fresh because there is really nothing better.

In previous growing seasons, my husband and I have signed up for a local produce pack. It includes locally grown fruit and veggies that you pick up at a designated location once a week. One of the best things about getting the produce pack was that it introduced us to several items that we had never cooked with before (mizuna? tatsoi? daikon radish? – I had no idea what these things were).  It was like an adventure every week, to see what would show up and figure out how we would use it.

One of those lesser-known items was garlic scapes.  Those twisty, curly, pointy green shoots that come off the hard neck varieties of garlic commonly grown in these parts.  At first I had no idea what to do with them.  I mean, they looked cool and all, but how do you actually eat them?  Then I found a recipe for garlic scape pesto.  And I was sold.

Here’s my recipe for Garlic Scape Pesto, modified from an Epicurious recipe:

Garlic Scape Pesto


10 large garlic scapes

6-8 large basil leaves

1/3 cup unsalted pistachios

1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in food processor and puree until very finely chopped.

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With the motor running, slowly pour olive oil into the opening until a paste-like consistency develops.

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And that’s it, you’re done!  The pesto will keep in the fridge for a week or you can freeze it for up to a month.

I like to spread the pesto on bread or crackers but my favorite way to eat it is to cook spaghetti and save some of the pasta water, whisk it together with a bit of the pesto and toss with the pasta.  Delicious!

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What are some of your favorite ways of using fresh, local produce?

New River Beach Provincial Park

Just a 30 minute drive from Saint John is the New River Beach Provincial Park.  I had not been there before and it had been quite a few years since Joel had.  We had beautiful weather a couple Saturdays ago so Joel and I decided to grab our backpacks, a picnic lunch and some sunscreen and headed out to hike the nature trail.

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I’m so glad we did.

The New River Beach Nature Trail highlights everything I love most about living along the Bay of Fundy.  The salty sea air, the cool bay breeze, sandy beaches and magical forest paths.  I find there is something so peaceful about a walk in the woods.  When you combine that with the soothing sounds and sights of the ocean and you have complete bliss.

The trail is made up of two main loops that meet in the centre, like a figure 8.  It’s well maintained with lots of boardwalk and follows the coast most of the way, offering really stunning views of the Bay of Fundy and the New River Island Nature Preserve.

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There are lots of places to stop and take a break along the way with several lookouts and wooden benches built along the trail.

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On the way back, you hike through a bog where you can see carnivorous Pitcher plants.  The trail was pretty soggy with all the recent rain we’d had but it’s probably dried out quite a bit since then.  It’s an easy trail with perhaps some moderate sections further out.  We hiked the whole trail and the footstep counter on my phone said that it was 7 km in total.  Plus when you’re finished hiking, you can walk over and soak up the sun at New River Beach.

The weather looks great this weekend, ideal for checking this trail out.  If you would like more information about hiking trails in New Brunswick, check out hikingnb.ca.  It’s a wonderful resource for all things hiking in New Brunswick.

Happy Trails!

Canada Love

Today this blog might as well be called Canada Love.

It’s all love, all day.  That’s because it’s Canada Day!  The one day where Canadians go wild with red and white pride and plaster that classic maple leaf everywhere (except maybe during the Olympics).

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And we have good reason to be proud.  We have an embarrassment of natural riches in this country, and so much space to roam that it’s ridiculous.  We are the second largest country in the world, with the largest amount of water area and the most coastline.  It’s no wonder we’re such water-loving fools.  Our landscape is also incredibly diverse: from the red clay soil of PEI to the forests of Quebec to the expanse of the prairies to the majestic Rocky Mountains to the lonely arctic tundra.  It’s all impossibly beautiful.

People like to find fault with the places where they live.  It’s natural.  To complain is human.  And that’s one of the ways we make things better.  Canada is not perfect, but we have freedoms and opportunities that some people in the world can only dream of.

We should never forget that.

In Canada, girls are free to go to school and become whatever they want to be.  We are free to protest the decisions of our government without fear of persecution or death. Our country is run by people that we elect.  Medical care is considered a right, not a privilege.  People are free to love who they choose.

There is a quote about Canada on the wall of the Peace Tower in Ottawa that has always resonated with me and so beautifully sums up our country:

“No Canadian can stand and look at this cluster of buildings (…) without feeling that somewhere on this Hill, perhaps by a happy accident, architects, masons and stone carvers have managed to grasp and materialize the beauty of Canada, the vastness of its land, its loneliness, its youth and its hope” – Bruce Hutchison, The Unknown Country, 1944.

I love this country.

I love it for its beauty but also for so many other things.

I love our commitment to living peacefully and helping others to do the same.  I love our diversity.  We are a mish-mash of cultures and backgrounds and I love that we are always ready to welcome more.  I love that we believe the less fortunate of our population deserve to have their basic human rights met, and we are willing to work a little harder to ensure it.  Mostly, I love Canada for its hope.  A hope that there is a future where many cultures can live harmoniously together through mutual respect and cooperation.  As Bono famously said recently, “The world needs more Canada”.

I couldn’t agree more.

Here’s a song I usually play every Canada Day, from a proud Maritimer and Canadian, Classified.  Happy Canada Day!