Bruce's Blog || Just sayin'. . .

Stiches of Love

Posted on June 24, 2017 by Alexander MacNaughton

I was reading this morning about Quilt Canada’s Big Quilt Bee and their efforts to donate 1,000 quilts to Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada.

For anyone unfamiliar with Ronald McDonald House (RMH), these special homes are located near children’s hospitals, providing a low-cost place for family members to stay while children are hospitalized (thanks to charitable donations, RMH costs an average of $12 per night).

This Quilting Bee was launched by Quilt Canada as a special Canada 150 project. Each of the quilts must incorporate Canada 150 fabrics.

O’Leary PEI’s Northern Lights Quilt Guild has been participating in the Bee and the group of prolific quilters has donated 36 quilts for the project, which will be headed to RMH Halifax.

I believe there’s a special healing power in a handmade quilt as they’re stitched with so much love. I’m sure these quilt donations will be a welcome gift to Ronald McDonald Houses.

We have handmade quilts in our respite cottage at the Preserve Company for the same reason. The quilts were made by Karen Murray and her quilting club, and we have a quilt that was made by a Kentucky visitor as well. And anyone who has joined us for a meal at The Preserve Co. may have noticed the beautiful quilts we have adorning the ceiling of the dining room. 

We are working with local quilters to replace some of the quilts in our dining room as well for 2018.  

Do you have a special story about a quilt in your life? I would love to hear about it!

Beach Clean-Up! (not now)

Posted on June 17, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

A local craft brewery launched an initiative earlier this month, to hold an island-wide beach clean up for June 24th. Our beaches can often become quite littered through the winter months with ocean going refuse. We all cherish clean shorelines, especially during the summer and this is possible often as a direct result of volunteer efforts.

A mass beach clean-up is an excellent idea, and many businesses got on board to help with the effort.

However, the Island Nature Trust stepped in and notified the business at the head of this plan that while a lovely sentiment, the timing was all wrong.

Our Island dunes are home to an endangered shorebird, the Piping Plover. And this is the time of year those little birds are making their nests and laying their eggs.

The concern of this group is that a large cleanup effort this time of year could disrupt these nesting birds and we can’t afford to lose a single one! According to a CBC article, the total population of Piping Plovers in PEI is at 61!

The brewery did the right thing and called off the event. They hope to host a clean up at the end of the summer instead.

So great to see companies large and small caring about our environment and doing the right thing.

That was one of the big news stories here on our Island this week! I just love living here.

Before I sign off, I have to wish all my fellow Dads a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. And to you moms and kids who made us dads, thank you for giving us the privilege. My heart goes out to those who lost their Dads for whatever reason. 

I’m not sure yet what Shirley and our daughters have in mind for me Sunday, but it doesn't really matter to me, I am blessed beyond every day with them being the larger part of who I am.

I would love to hear about your Father’s Day traditions and/or some of your stories that celebrate the father figure in your life.

Hummingbird Season is upon us!

Posted on June 10, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

I have some wonderful news about Lucy! You may recall, I wrote about this special Island duck a couple of weeks ago and how she returns to the Charlottetown Superstore Garden Centre each year to lay her eggs. (If you missed it, you can read that story here: https://preservecompany.com/blogs/bruces-muses/quaking-up )

Well, Lucy’s eggs hatched last week, and it was time for this little family to leave the Superstore and head back home. The Charlottetown Police Department gallantly stopped traffic on the busiest road in PEI, so the family could safely cross on its way to a neighbouring pond.

You can read the story and watch the video here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-lucy-ducklings-hatched-1.4147584?cmp=rss

The police help Lucy every year. It makes us curious about how the police department decides which officer gets the privilege of helping Lucy cross the road. Any ideas?

Speaking of birds, we’re so pleased to welcome the ruby-throated hummingbirds back to Prince Edward Island for the season.

We have feeders hanging around the restaurant and throughout the gardens, both to provide these little birds with an extra source of food and because we just love watching them!

Did you know there are roughly 330 species of hummingbirds in the world? We generally only see about a dozen of those in North America, above Mexico.

It’s so easy to attract hummingbirds. All you need is some sugar, water, and an inexpensive feeder. We use a ratio of 1 part sugar to 3 parts water when we first hang the feeders, and then after more flowers are in bloom for the birds to feed from, we gradually change the ratio to 1:4. There’s no need to put red dye in with this mixture, as the birds are attracted to the colour of the feeder and the red dye may be harmful to our feathered friends. So, save your money and don’t buy that hummingbird food you see in stores. Just make your own.

Do you see hummingbirds where you live? I would love to hear about the varieties of birds that visit your gardens. (And I’m serious about finding out about the Lucy crossing guard duty … in case any Charlottetown police officers are reading this!)

I went to a muscial event last night in Brackley Beach to see the family group Clan Hanigan at the North Atlantic Tionol. What a night of music. The place was packed with traditional music lovers and musicians. 

If you love music, storytelling, and dance, the next two weeks on Prince Edward Island is the place to be! The annual Small Halls Festival has started and I am looking forward to taking in 3 or 4 events. For more info click here: www.smallhalls.com

Oh, Rhubarb, Oh Rhubarb...how I love thee!

Posted on June 03, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

Oh, Rhubarb, Oh Rhubarb...how I love thee! 

This morning, as I was driving through the rolling countryside on my way to the store, I took note of the signs on a couple of the community halls. One promoted a fundraising concert for a neighbour suffering an illness; one wished someone a happy birthday, another invited everyone to a rhubarb social. 

It’s efforts like these that make communities. People are coming together in good times and in bad. And to celebrate the spring harvest of delicious local rhubarb.

These rhubarb socials are a lovely Island tradition. Community halls fill with people enjoying rhubarb pie, cake, squares, whatever rhubarb delights created by those wishing to share with friends and neighbours. Tea and coffee are served, sometimes someone is playing a fiddle, and there is always good conversation.

A similar thing happens with strawberries later in the summer. Shortcake, strawberries, and ice cream…yum. If you’re ever in Prince Edward Island and see a sign advertising such a social, you should stop in and enjoy!

Now, back to rhubarb!

Shirley and I have a patch of this wonderful spring vegetable in our garden. We’ve been eating it on a daily basis. Stewing it and enjoying with yogurt for breakfast, or directly on our toast, (a rare occasion when we don't put our preserves on toast, LOL) and of course chopping and freezing it for later in the year.

If you don’t have access to fresh rhubarb where you live, you may enjoy the Rhubarb Relish and Strawberry & Rhubarb, or Blackcurrant and Rhubarb; we make at the Preserve Company. 


I would love to hear more about your own community traditions. Do you have rhubarb or strawberry (or other fruit/veg) socials where you live?

Have a lovely weekend! 

Sincerely, 

Bruce

Ode to Fiddleheads

Posted on May 27, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton
Thank you for sharing your Victoria Day weekend traditions with us in your comments on last week’s blog post. I loved reading through them and hearing about how you spend your long May weekend.


This coming Monday is Memorial Day, which means a long weekend for our southern neighbours!

Again, I would love to hear how you celebrate this holiday in your hometown. I imagine it’s similar to our Victoria Day, with barbeques or in honour/honor of our US cousins spelling barbecues and fireworks. I look forward to hearing about it.

Our restaurant is now open for the season with limited hours and a limited menu for a few weeks to get the season started.  Yesterday we were so happy to be serving both familiar faces and new customers alike. If you’re in our neck of the woods over the coming months, be sure to stop in for a bite. 

Speaking of Island dining, when I was at the grocery store this week, I spotted a seasonal treat that only sticks around for a short while… fiddleheads!

Though not a big crop here in PEI, fiddleheads harvesting is on a larger scale in our neighbouring province of New Brunswick, and you can find them in farmers markets and most grocery stores here for a couple of weeks in May.

Fiddleheads or Fiddlehead greens are the young or baby shoots of ferns. They get their names because they resemble heads of fiddles!

We enjoy them in the same way we do asparagus, which is plentiful in our garden presently. 

Trim and well rinse the young ferns, removing any damaged parts or brown leaves. In a pot, bring a small amount of water to a boil, place steamer basket in or above the water. Cover and cook until tender but still crisp. Drain, I like to put my greens back into a small frying pan with butter, salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. 

If you wish to read more about the fiddleheads, Wikipedia has a more in-depth article on it. Its heritage is from our native the Maliseet, Mi'kmaq, and Penobscot peoples of Eastern Canada and Maine introduced the vegetable to the Acadian settlers in the 1780's. 

I am curious, do you eat fiddleheads? Any family fiddlehead stories?

Have a great week and thank you for your time today.

Sincerely,

Bruce 

 

Victoria Day Weekend!

Posted on May 19, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

Warm Weekend Wishes!

Ahhh. Victoria Day Weekend. A uniquely Canadian holiday that celebrates the May 24, 1819, birth of Queen Victoria.

This is one of those holidays that moves around each year, to the Monday closest to the date, giving us a long weekend to enjoy with family and friends.

In many parts of Canada, this is known as the “May Two-Four” weekend and is celebrated with a case of 24 bottles of beer. (How Canadian!)

However, not being a beer drinker myself, I prefer the more gentile Victoria Day tradition that has a warm place in the hearts of many Prince Edward Islanders: a picnic.

I think Shirley and I may pack-up a couple of lobster sandwiches, some iced tea and go for a drive on Monday. With so many beaches, parks, and green spaces around the Island, there’s certainly no shortage of places to enjoy a meal in nature. Who knows where we’ll end up!

This year is celebrating 150 years as a nation and our federal government has opened the gates on all national parks to visitors free of charge. 

I would love to hear about your Victoria Day Weekend traditions! Family BBQs? Lobster dinners? A spring walk on the beach?

It is contest time and this week we are offering readers an opportunity to win a Dunoon English Bone China Teapot. Enter Here 

This Quacks Me Up!

Posted on May 13, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton
Mother Duck says, “Quack quack quack quack!”
You probably know all about Prince Edward Island’s famous red head (Anne) and our favourite shellfish (lobster). But, did you know that we also have a beloved duck?

Lucy the Duck was the big news story in PEI this week, and it’s quite fitting I share her story on Mother’s Day weekend because this is one devoted mother.

For the eighth year in a row, Lucy has set up house in the Atlantic Superstore’s Garden Centre in Charlottetown.

Every year, just like clockwork, Lucy makes her nest within the plants and lays her eggs. The Superstore staff cordons off the area and provides her with all the food she needs. She bathes in the parking lot puddles, and, after her eggs hatch, the police direct traffic so the family can safely waddle across the road and go to wherever it is that they go after they leave the Garden Centre.

This year, Lucy has a boyfriend with her (but rumour has it he spends most of his time in the nearby McDonald’s parking lot feasting on French fries).

I just love this CBC news story because it is another testament of the wonderful people we have here in Prince Edward Island. Everyone looks forward to Lucy’s return. (You can read more about Lucy and her boyfriend Lucifer here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-lucy-duck-superstore-garden-1.4101801)

Speaking of Moms, our restaurant will be open Mother’s Day from 11:30 to 4.  Here is our Mother’s Day menu. We officially will open for the season on May 26. Hopefully, we will see you this year.

While taking reservations for the restaurant this week, I got thinking about blended families and the roles that stepmoms have in society. While looking through the Globe and Mail today, I read, "On Mother’s Day, stepmoms navigate tricky emotional territory" by Leah MacLaren who shares her perspective here

Wishing Mom's everywhere a wonderful day and one where they feel the love where it may come from. 

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