Warm Red Cabbage, Red Onion and Apple Slaw

I can’t resist picking up a purple cabbage at the grocery store. Oh the colour is so rich and the slicing reveals the most intricate patterns. I noticed that the line from the middle spiral outwards. Is everything in creation a series of spirals?cabbage3

I came across this totally easy and VERY TASTY recipe called Warm Red Cabbage, Red Onion and Apple Slaw. Even the title is visually appealing.

I use apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic, but I’m sure both are delicious. I also add a handful of walnuts. AND, I keep it on the stove until the cabbage is soft. That means putting a lid on it at the end.


The book Vegetarian by Joanne Weir is out of print, but here’s a link to it.

It’s snowing outside, the washing machine is washing,  and the kitchen is filled with a sweet and sour fragrance. The cat is curled up by the fire. Larry is upstairs creating an ad for this season’s Bear River Artworks Gallery.
Reminder to self:  the studio calls.



Snow Storm Latte, Art, Tides and Bear River Hills

Bear River snow.

Snow storms are very OK if you don’t have to drive anywhere. But even better is having a walking destination that leads to:

  • a delicious Sissiboo Coffee latte that I could never emulate at home
  • a place with wonderful art
  • somewhere with just the right music
  • friendly folks

So Larry and I bundle up and slip and slide down the hill.

Bear River snow.
Sliding down the hill to the village.

Then over the little bridge from the Digby County to Annapolis County side.

Then into Sissiboo Coffee Bar and Gallery for a treat and to enjoy the art.

See more of Penny’s stitching, dyeing and fibre story-telling at her blog 

I’ve left out the conversations about the recent local Herring Deaths, the Trump stories, the agony of aging parents, the state of the world, heating systems, fostering creativity, music concerts and lost cats.

I’ve left out the Bob Dylan, John Prine and similar sounds in the cafe.

I’ve left out the stop at the post office.

An advantage of living in a small town

And finally, the walk home……

And then a peek into the studio at my newest creation. A need to add some colour to this beautiful, monochromatic world.

And finally for you, dear reader, a little puzzle.

Can you spot and count the crows at the compost?


Garden, Painting and Summer in Full Swing Flashback

This post from Aug 9, 2013 is about a lush, rain filled summer. This 2016 summer is not. Drought and heat sum it up. What is the same is the insect explosion. 😉

—————————-What crazy weather this summer. We had record breaking rainfall in June and July and hot, hot, sticky days alternating with cold. These conditions have  played havoc with the garden and the insect populations have exploded. This is good news for black flies, earwigs, cucumber beetles, potato bugs and snails. Sigh. It is also good news for birds and their numbers seem up.

I’ve painted more flowers than ever before and haven’t even scratched the surface of what I would like to achieve in that theme.

Flowers to paint
Flowers to paint

This week the weather has shifted.  The nights are suddenly chilly and the warm daytime sun has allowed full outdoor activity again. Suddenly the vegetable garden is looking lush and strong. I see my favorite pumpkins starting to form – winter luxury pumpkins  that taste out of this world as pies or as vegetables.

The vegetable garden at the beginning of August
The vegetable garden at the beginning of August

The green beans are flowering and the tomatoes are green and growing.  Larry staked them this afternoon as you can see from the photo in the header. The potato plants are like bushes, in spite of those striped potato bugs that I flick into soapy water when I remember to!
The weather is still always the wild card and teaches both flexibility and acceptance to this gardener.

The rain has accelerated the growth and height of all the perennial flowers. Those tiny plants I put in 4 years ago are crowded now and exploded into bloom.

This is an exciting time for me to paint.

Green Willow Studio
Works in progress at Green Willow Studio
The Newest Painting
A hot July painting in the studio.

The summer has been filled with other important cultural details 😉 such as:

Visiting Susan Geddes' studio in Annapolis Royal.
Visiting painter Susan Geddes’ studio in Annapolis Royal.
Listening to Caleb Miles after hours in Bear River.
Listening to Caleb Miles after hours in Bear River.
Swimming in Bear River.
Swimming in Bear River.
Watching fireworks at Cherry Carnival.
Watching fireworks at Cherry Carnival.
Harvesting a year's worth of garlic to eat and to plant for next year.
Harvesting a year’s worth of garlic to eat and to plant for next year.

This summer I’ve worked hard at painting and I’ve been blogging that experience. My writing energy is there now…I guess because I am so involved with the act of painting. If you paint too or are interested in the process, please join me at http://floradoehler.ca

And thanks for reading!

The Secret Garden and the Willow Trees

There is a very special place that I go to when I need to be in nature, or when I need a quiet moment. Behind the vegetable garden we have about 1/2 an acre that we let grow wild and that contains our pond.


This piece of land has a few intentional plants like lilies, iris and about 7 willow trees. But the rest of it is a chaotic riot of tangled wild flowers (weeds really) that grow about 4 feet high.pond09 pond08

We have a couple of paths cut through it and walking them is like being a child again in my grandmother’s garden. Hidden from view and right in the middle of the natural world. Frogs croak, seagulls and crows soar above. Bees buzz all over the flowers.



The pond itself has 8 large goldfish that wintered over. Animals wander through and drink from the pond. There are dragonflies, butterflies, birds and a host of insects.  It’s a nice place to decompress and to marvel at the complex beauty of the natural world.


pond12I planted the willows 4 years ago and they are already taller than me. In a few more years there will be a willow grove at the end of the pond providing magic for us and no doubt for the next caretakers of this land.


Leeks, Peas, Beans and Celery Grow


Oh my sore neck, my sore knees. Oh my back!

Yup! It’s planting season again. I love the idea of it, growing our own food, but I am always surprised at the amount of work that’s involved.

Veg Garden
I have a huge supply of bamboo-like sticks from the miscanthus giganteus that I grow every year. If you want some to plant, I’d love to share. Bring your axe.

Today I planted climbing beans, chard, spinach, lettuce, beets, leeks, carrots, edamame, bush beans and celery. Whew!  I had previously planted broccoli, snow peas, zucchini and pumpkin.

Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard from transplant.

The asparagus is producing and the redcurrant and raspberry canes are doing well. The garlic is tall and green.

The garlic was planted last fall. It will be harvested in July.

Most years I’ve had to replant the zucchini up to 3 times as it got eaten down by who-knows-what. This year I grew little squash plants from seed first and I’m hoping that action will save me from having to replant.

The pumpkin, squash and zuccinni haven’t minded the transplanting. I’m shocked.

I haven’t had much luck in the past with lettuce or spinach….it gets eaten by slugs or critters. I’m trying to out-smart the wildlife and we’ve been eating ‘premium’ salads out of the greenhouse for a few weeks now. Still, hope springs eternal and I planted seeds out in the garden today.

Garlic in the distance.

It seems crazy to be planting so late – June 4. But the season has arrived late this year. My peonys aren’t in bloom yet and the lupins just started to colour-up today. From photos of friends in Ontario, I see that we are 2 weeks behind.

Snow peas start to climb. The cloth covers broccoli plants. I’m trying to hide the plants from the cabbage moths so I won’t have little green worms eating my broccoli!

We’ve had lots of rain and my two enormous water collectors (4′ x 4′ x 4′) are full…a good thing to have at the beginning of the season.

Tomorrow is the final push when 45 tomato plants go into the ground. Maybe this will be the year that I will finally grow enough of them to can for the entire year.

Our little greenhouse
Our little greenhouse is a wonderful place for starting seedings and now for growing an eggplant or two and red peppers.

It is a lot of hard work and I am sore, but it also feels wonderful to be so close to the soil and to handle living plants, and to smell the fragrances of the lilac and to enjoy the chirping of birds.

This lilac shrub is 2 or 3 years old. It smells so beautiful right now.

On my hands and knees today planting my 6th garden here it occurred to me that the message of Spring is that we all get a fresh chance to get everything right or at least to tweak our approach.

After rototilling the garden was a blank canvas.

Oh yeah, and then there are the plant sale flowers that are still patiently waiting for their turn.

Solomon's Seal
Solomon’s Seal. This garden bed is planted for my mother and grandmother. I put in flowers that they grew and loved.

A New Gallery for Bear River, Nova Scotia

I’m over-the-moon excited to be a founding member of a new art venture in Bear River. We will call ourselves Bear River Artworks Gallery.

A group of 8 enthusiastic artists have come together to open a gallery/mini arts space in Bear River.

Found Object Cabinet ©Craig Dorsey
Found Object Cabinet
©Craig Dorsey

We’ve rented a bright, interesting space for a year. We plunked our money down and celebrated last week with slices of lemon meringue pie. The very next day crowbars and plaster of paris came out and now our beautiful space is being polished and made ready.

The Canadian ©Ken Flett
The Canadian
©Ken Flett

A website is on its way; so are gorgeous signs and, of course, works of art from the heart.

We are working towards a mid April opening.

The Celebration ©Flora Doehler, 2015
Kinetic Energy
©Flora Doehler, 2015

Little did Larry and I or any of the other members know a few months ago, that we would embark on such a venture together. But the timing is right, the enthusiasm is real and there is no time like the present for trying out something new. And there’s only one place we could possibly do this and that’s Bear River, Nova Scotia.

Stay tuned…details to come.

Arab Spring ©Joan Stanley
Arab Spring
©Joan Stanley

Sandwiched between a Snowstorm and a Nor’easter in Bear River

I have to laugh.

The studio awaits.
The studio awaits.

7 years ago our workmates in Toronto warned us about moving to Nova Scotia. We heard tales about terrific snowstorms and subzero temperatures. “You really should visit there in winter first to see if you can handle it”.

Pathway from car to house.
Pathway from car to house.

But like many people before us and after us who were considering the move, we were not dissuaded and obsessively checked daily Bear River weather reports. I looked at the webcam in nearby Annapolis Royal every single day. We looked up snow, temperature and rainfall stats from Environment Canada. It was an important part of shifting our point-of-view and imagining living here.

Drying spots for the oil paintings.
Drying spots for the oil paintings.

And the looking told us that the Bear River winter weather was milder than most of the rest of the country, except, of course, for Canada’s la-la land Vancouver and Victoria.

But this winter has been snowmageddon with most people saying they haven’t seen storms and snow depths like this in years..or ever.

The drifts have been awesome.
The drifts have been awesome.

If Mother Nature gives you lemons…..make lemonade. And making the most of this weather means getting out the snowshoes and tramping out pathways to the compost and to the bird feeders. It means filling the bathtub with water for when the power goes out and we can’t pull water from the well, It means having candles and flashlights at the ready. It means having friends like Gerry Chute who can come by in his nice shiny orange plow and clear the snow.

This weekend we are expecting a Nor’easter along with another 25cm dump. The snow-shovels are ready. We’ll all have well-developed biceps by the end of it all. (I was going to say ‘March’, but I don’t want to press my luck).

Shovels for all occasions.
Shovels for all occasions.

Meanwhile, there’s nowhere to go except the studio to paint.

©Flora Doehler, 2015 oil painting
©Flora Doehler, 2015
oil painting

And there’s nothing to do except to take part in the Annual Winter Carnival in Bear River where you can cross-country ski across 7 lakes for free. Myself, I think I’ll snowshoe over to the free yoga class.

path in the snow
Snowshoe path to the compost (or more correctly to the crow feeder).

But for tonight, before the next storm, we are going to join kindred spirits and hear our favorite local singer, David Chamberland.


See you on the other side of snow.

I opened the door to this 3 times last week. I guess it will be happening again this weekend!
I opened the door to this 3 times last week. I guess it will be happening again this weekend!

December Reflections – photo blogging

This month, I’m going to post a daily photo using ‘prompts’ from Susannah Conway.  Join me if you feel like it.

december reflections photo prompts Susannah is a writer and photographer who has some great ideas about journaling, blogging and planning. Last year I used her (free) workbook to help organize my thoughts about my own art path and last night I looked at it again and know that it has helped me this year. In January I blogged about her workbook and other year end intention strategies.

Autumn in my Garden

Every season here is visually stunning. This morning I took these photos walking around through our garden in Bear River, Nova Scotia. Everywhere I turned I saw a gorgeous palette of rusts and greens and yellows and magentas. It is almost too much to take in.The beauty here is unending.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
― Lauren DeStefano, Wither