Beach It In NB – Canada’s Best Beaches!

Beaching it in NB – Canada’s Best Beaches

If you‘re wondering where the best beaches in Canada are, let me, let you in on a little secret, they’re in New Brunswick!! Yes NB, that little, sometimes forgotten province that you need to drive through to get to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Yup that’s the one!

And although we have beautiful beaches up the entire Acadian Coast, the best of the best are in the south eastern part of the province. Why? Because this area has the warmest waters north of the Carolinas.

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Why is the water in this area warmer than Main which is just to the south of us? The area, between NB and PEI, is shallower because it’s in between two land masses, so it warms up quicker.

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I bet you didn’t think this was going to be geography lesson? Keep reading, the pretty beach pics are coming up, lol.

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This is my last map, I promise; now you may have noticed that PEI’s south side also faces the Northumberland Straight and you may be wondering if the beaches along that coast are just as sandy and warm as the ones on the NB side? Well probably, but those beaches are most likely full of potatoes and really who wants to lay on a beach full of potatoes?? I know that I don’t. (Please note that the amount of potatoes on the PEI beaches may be slightly exaggerated for comedic effect? But honestly, who really knows?)

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What isn’t in question are the beautiful, sandy and warm beaches from Murray Corner, Cap Pelé, Shediac to just past Bouctouche.

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How warm does the water get? In August the average temperature in Shediac can reach 24 degrees Celsius. That’s pretty much bath water for most Canadians, lol.

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Now the beaches in Nova Scotia aren’t littered with potatoes, but they are very rocky, unlike NB’s sandy beaches, so don’t bother going to those.

The dark colour of the sand gives the water the most beautiful shades of blue.

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We are also blessed with the highest and lowest tides…in the world!!! You’re probably a bit skeptical about my accuracy after my potato beach statement? But this is a fact, you can look it up if you don’t believe me. This freakish phenomenon means that at low tide you can walk on the sandbars looking for sand dollars or starfish.

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The three most popular beaches are Parlee Beach in Shediac, l’Aboiteau in Cap Pelé and les Dunes in Bouctouche. But there are many more that are just as lovely, like Grande Digue, Caissie Cape and Cape Bimet. Soooo many amazing warm beaches!!!

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Living away from the Maritimes for the last few years, I now have a new appreciation for fishing boats, lighthouses and colourful buoys. They are post card perfect and very Instagramable.

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For my Ontario and Prairie readers, these are buoys, see below. They get attached to lobster traps and fishing nets. Each fisherman will have his or her own colour or their specific number on them. You don’t touch another’s buoys! Unless you want to sleep with the fishes.

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The blue water and sky are made even more beautiful with pops of the bright green shades of beach grass. If you can’t see the beauty in this, then we can’t be friends, you can stop reading at anytime now, I am breaking up with you.

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Our pristine NB beaches are littered with oyster, mussel and clam shells with the prettiest shades of blues and purples.

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Having grown up swimming in the ocean this is my happy place, I love floating about.

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The smell of the salty air is intoxicating, I think anyone who has grown up near the ocean feels the same way, even those from the PEI potato beaches.

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Another bonus is that there really aren’t things in the water here that can kill you, even our jellyfish are pretty tame and they are all but gone by July.

Sooooo, this just in! Apparently there are great white sharks a little too close to the Northumberland Straight for my comfort. They’ve been spotted and tracked to the north and south of us, but there have been no sightings or attacks in our area. I am hoping the tides will keep them at bay? I’ve also been told that they have always been this far north, but we didn’t know until they started tagging and tracking them. I am choosing to not dwell on this so that I am able to enjoy my swims without hearing the Jaws theme song in my head, over and over again.

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In August one of my favorite things to do is to meet a friend or two at the beach for an early evening swim. Watching the sunset from the water is truly magical.

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And there is nothing better after a hard day of beaching than a fresh seafood feast!! Like, fresh, fresh!!

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I do have to warn you that all day beaching, sun-ing and swimming is exhausting!!! Oh and I have one other cautionary advice for you, when snorkeling, don’t forget to put sunscreen on your butt, speaking from experience…ouch.

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I think this picture above tells the tail of how exhausting all that sun and sand is; I could barely keep my eyes open while we waited for our fried claims and scallops at Pirate de la mer.

My plan is to get in as much beach time in the next few weeks until the air turns and gets cooler, announcing the arrival of fall.

Thank you so much for reading! Please check out my Instagram and Facebook accounts at: oui-liette. And feel free to comment, like and share.

muah!

Liette

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Sorry to PEI and NS for the shade in this post, I still love you! But NB beaches are just better 😬

The Inspiring Story of the Birdhouse Lady

The Inspiring Story of the Birdhouse Lady

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Last weekend I was driving down Mountain Rd in Moncton, minding my own business, when something caught my eye; I saw the most colourful and unique birdhouses strewn across a parking lot.

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After picking up my friend Mary Helen, we went back to the parking lot to meet the birdhouse lady.

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Two funny things; the first is that the birdhouse lady’s name is Blanche, which in French means white; her birdhouses are pretty much every colour but white (except for her Acadian houses). The second thing is that I had just shared a blog post about colourful Maritime houses and then, bam! More colourful houses!

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Mary Helen made the observation that they looked like houses from Whoville in the Grinch.

 

I posted a few pics on Facebook and got inundated with questions of where people could buy them. Someone introduced me to her daughter who shared where her mom would be this weekend.

Weather permitting, on Saturdays Blanche is usually in Moncton on Mountain Rd, across the street from Rosario’s Restaurant. And on Sundays in Shediac, on the corner of Main St and Pointe du chêne Rd, in the parking lot across the Irving.

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Blanche is a true folk artist with a warm and welcoming personality who creates beautifully colourful houses; they just making you smile when you see them. I went back to see her this morning to buy a few houses for one of my cousin’s and had the opportunity to chat with her for a bit.

Blanche was kind enough to share a bit of her background with me. Her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring; at 13 she found herself homeless and sleeping in a car. She experienced many traumatic events and hardships in her young life. Unable to read or write she turned to carpentry and has been working in construction all of her life.

First of all; how bad ass is it to be a woman who makes her living in construction? It’s super bad ass!! Lol. She shared that she is able to do pretty much everything except for brick layering. She owns a small house in Moncton and updated her plumbing on her own; once done she had a licensed plumber come check her work. He confirmed everything was up to code and done perfectly. She said that she made him turn the water back on and there were no leaks!

She started making and painting these little houses and sells them on weekends. After knowing more about Blanche, I believe that the reason that so many people are drawn to her houses is because it’s a reflection of her spirit and joie de vivre. It may sound corny, but I believe that when something is created with love people are unconsciously drawn to them.

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Dawn also drawn to these colourful houses!!

To contact Blanche you can leave her a message on Facebook (Blanche Young) and I encourage you to post pictures of your birdhouses once you get them home and tag her. Her daughter helps her with her Facebook page and will be posting updates on where she will be selling her works of art.

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Thank you for reading! Like Blanche’s Facebook page: Blanche Young. Let’s support our local artists and let’s be thankful for all the bad ass woman out there, they are an example for us all!

muah!

Liette

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Colours of the Maritimes

Colours of the Maritimes


One of the things that struct me when I first moved, to the west coast of the US, was that all the houses were the same colour, a light beige ish, they also all looked the same. They were all Spanish looking, at least they looked Spanish ish to a girl from the east coast.

I would go to my friends homes and have to look up the house number because once on the proper street, I couldn’t remember which house was theirs, even though I had been there before.

I moved to the desert in the summer when everything was brown and dried up. I remember how green everything looked on my first visit back to Canada. I had never noticed how freaking green New Brunswick was; I was seriously amazed.

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I’d love to live in a green house with a lilac coloured door.

The same was true with the houses; who knew that Maritime houses were so exotic? Growing up here exotic was the last word I would have used to describe anything about us.

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Since I’ve moved back, I’ve been unconsciously  taking pictures of colourful houses. I am always taking pictures of random things. I notice my new obsession with brightly coloured houses when I happened upon this pink house, below, during a Covid sanity drive; as I drove past it I had an uncontrollable need to turn around and take a picture of it. I physically had to stop, turn around, and take a picture.

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I want to live in a pink house.
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This is a house in NS, don’t let the US flag fool you.

My hope for this post is that my fellow Maritimers will look at the pretty pictures and be like; she’s right, these are pretty funky. And that my American desert friends will enjoy looking at exotic homes from where I grew up.

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One of the ladies who lives in this house is from les îles de la Madeleine, they are famous for colourful houses.

These houses just make me happy! These are anything but mellow yellow!

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Yellow seems to be the most popular colourful house colour around here.

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I know that colourful houses are not unique to Atlantic Canada. I did a bit of research and the most common explanation is that it ties back to fishing villages. Fishermen would paint their homes vibrant colours in order to see them as they sailed into the harbour. I’ve always loved colour, as a Maritimer, I guess it’s in my DNA.

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I love the purple houses the best…I think? Which is your fav?

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Once we are allowed to roam between province, I am going to add to my colourful house pictures to my collection; ouff I can’t wait to roam!

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This post could have been called Colours of Atlantic Canada in order to include Newfoundland and it’s beautiful row houses, I’ll do a dedicated post to them on my next trip to the rock.

Thank you for reading this cheery post, I felt something light, fluffy and pretty was called for.

muah!

Liette

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Real Poutines! An Acadian Tradition.

Real Poutines! An Acadian Tradition.

(The original idea for this post was to have a fake beef with Quebec, then the direction looked like it was moving to show my American friends one of my family traditions. I think it turned into a sneak peek into what it’s like to be part of a huge Acadian family? Like most of my posts, I just let them be what they want to be. And like all of my posts, I hope it inspires you to make an effort to do things with your family; may it be the family you’re born into or the one you create for yourself).

When I was growing up no one but Acadians knew what a poutine was. Fast forward a few decades and poutines are now a global thing, but those aren’t real poutines.

Sure french fries, gravy and cheese curds are delicious, but they aren’t what we call poutines.

I am not going to accuse Quebecers of high jacking the name poutine from the Acadians; oh wait, yes I am!! Do Acadians have a beef with Quebec for stealing our poutine name? We do!! Have we ever made a fuss over this theft?? No, no we have not! It’s just not in our nature.

Could our Acadians poutines  compete with Quebec poutines in the global market? In a word…no! Our poutines, the real poutines aren’t…how do I say this diplomatically? Let’s just say they aren’t pretty!

What is an Acadian poutine? It’s basically a slimy boiled potato ball with pork in the middle. Am I tempting you yet?

Poutine or poutine acadienne are a staple for French speaking Maritimers (from the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). Although you can now buy them throughout the year, they have traditionally been made for the Christmas holidays.

Before we dive into things, I do need to share a few key words, so my none-Acadians can follow.

râpures  – grated potatoes

poutine – a slimy grayish boiled potato ball

poutine râpé – Acadian poutine, we have had to add the Acadian part since we were ripped off by Québec, lol

râper – verb to grate potatoes

râpe – a home made machine used to grate potatoes. Pronounced rawwwp. This word has an unfortunate pronunciation in English

Épurer – verb to squeeze the water out of grated potatoes

My family has made poutines for generations, there is no recipe per say; you have to “intern” for decades before you can become the top baller. Ok top baller isn’t really a thing to anyone but me, I am hoping it catches on.

I have an un-scientific theory why Acadians originally made poutines and English speaking Maritimers didn’t. I think they just didn’t have the proper manpower needed. Historically, French Catholics had large families while English Protestants had smaller families. I suspect the real reason may have been that the Acadians were poorer and potatoes were cheap and readily available?

My theory is based on the fact that it takes a village to make a batch of poutines. I think the rule is that you need a minimum of 3 aunts, 2 uncles and a combo of 2 nieces/nephew or 2 cousins. One doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide; hey, I think I am going to make poutines today, it takes planning and a team.

In this post I am going to share with you how one Acadian family, mine, keeps the tradition alive.

Most large extended families would have had one or two râpes in the family; yes this word sounds horrible in English, so please refer to my keywords above.

So here’s how it worked in my family growing up. It gets complicated, so please try to follow.

My mother’s father was the top baller because he owned the râpe. He decided when he would make his poutines and the others would plan accordingly. The râpe, again it’s a machine that grates potatoes, would go from house to house to house.

Example: pépère DesRoches, my moms father, would make his on the 21. My mom would make hers on the 23, in the morning. As soon as she was done, she would call my fathers mother and tell her to send someone to pick up the râpe. Once they were done, they would passe it down to my dad’s sister, who would then drop it back off at our house.

I should note that not only were Acadian families large, once you married into another Acadian family the two families often merged to create a super family.

Eventually my moms sister, tante Irène, and my mom got their own râpes, which made our family super fortunate to have 3 in rotation!!

Example of the Acadian super family; my moms sister, tante Irène, who lived across the street from us, wasn’t actually related to my cousins from my dad’s side, who lived next door to us, but she was automatically called ma tante Irène by everyone, related by blood or not. Side note, Acadian families also tended to cluster together. I had 7 cousins living on my street; my brother and I made 9 of us (kids). Needless to say, no one picked on us. The older cousins would look out for the younger cousins; sure the older cousins would beat the shit out of us from time to time, but no one else was allowed to.

Getting back to poutines; you couldn’t just go to the store and buy a râpe, you had to know someone who would make one for you. It was a small motor with a circular thingy that was pierced and would spin quickly and grate the potatoes. It was usually made by someone who worked at the CNR, Canadian National Railway. Ok don’t ask why someone who worked with trains would be making these on the side; it’s too complicated for this post.

Now, let’s fast forward to the present and get to making poutines.

After my moms father passed away, my mom became the top baller. You need a top baller to test the texture and taste the potatoes. The top baller title will make sense, just keep reading.

Today we went to my uncles,  my moms brother, with our râpe in hand to help him make his poutines. Because her little brother and his wife, who are both in their sixties have not yet achieved top baller status. She was needed to oversee everything. I guess it’s a bit like the mafia, there can only be one top baller and once top baller status is achieved, he or she rules for life.

The ingredients are very simple, you need potatoes, porc and porc fat. Peeling the potatoes is a pain in the ass.  I think that 50 pounds of potatoes will make 47 ish poutines. I am not a top baller, nor do I aspire to be, so I don’t need to know the correct potato ratio.

You also have to cut the meet and fat into small cubes. So far I have avoided having to help peel and cut. When the knives come out, I volunteer to run errands, no one has caught on as of yet!!

The next step is to start passing the potatoes into the potato grating machine, la râpe. Now you maybe wondering if you could use a food processor? You can’t.

Here’s were it starts to get weird, once all the potatoes are grated, we call that la râpure. You have to go through la râpure and remove any chunks of potatoes that weren’t liquefied; does it look yummy yet??

That isn’t the weird part, the Râpure is very liquidity, we use a large measuring cup to scoop some of the râpure into fabric square and we squeeze out the liquid, that is the weird part. And it’s at this stage that the top baller comes into play. The raw squeeze potatoes are mixed in with mashed potatoes. This mixture can’t be too dry or too wet. You need to adjust how much liquid you are squeezing out. The top baller also needs to taste the mixture to make sure it’s salted enough. It looks gross, but remember these are just cooked and raw potatoes.

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This next step of making balls is where the baller and top baller names come from. I’ve been calling my aunts and mom the ballers for years, I think it’s funny.

The photo below shows my ballers, my aunt Claudine and my mother, she’s in the red apron. She let me wear my grandfathers white apron this year, which is an honor, she is so happy I am back home. She may also be grooming me to someday be the top baller, but I don’t think I can handle the pressure!

The potato mixture is flattened and the porc is added in the middle. If you put too much meat or your ball walls are too thin, they will bust once dropped into boiling water; please note, ball walls isn’t an official poutine term. Poutines are made in French or Chiac, I am doing my best to translate in English.

As a child, this is the part that you begged to get in on because it’s basically like making snowballs.

The balls are gently dropped into a pots of boiling water. The pots need a constant slow boil. The poutine balls will float to the top and then sink to the bottom of the pot as they cook.

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It takes 3 ish hours for them to cook, all the while you need to keep checking to make certain they aren’t boiling too much or too little.

And voila!! They are ready to eat!! The photos above are why our poutines will probably never go global, but trust me they are delicious!

Once my uncle and aunt’s poutines were ready to eat. That evening there were 11 of us for dinner, you don’t have to be invited, you can just show up. It’s also acceptable to show up with an empty pot, because as soon as we make them, we start giving them away. An Acadian will share their poutines freely, but they won’t share their pots, so you have to bring your own!!

As mentioned above, they look slimy, but keep in mind that they are just potatoes and porc, so not so exotic. We eat them with salt and pepper, others add brown sugar, which seems odd to me, but who am I to judge what others put on their slimy potato balls.

We made my uncles poutines on Dec 21, we made my moms poutines on Dec 23. My mother’s sister, came over to help. My brother and I now have more responsibilities since my father has passed. My mother’s brother joins in for the squeezing part.

This process will go on in several of my families homes around town. Once done and the families come together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the first thing you are asked is: combien de poutines avez-vous fait? Which means how many poutines did you make? The bigger then number the bigger the bragging rights. They will also ask if any have busted, this makes a mess in the pot and is a sign of bad ballers.

Fun fact, the pots are so big that if weather permitting, if it’s cold enough, they are usually stored outside. From the 23 to the 26, there is always a warm pot of poutines on the stove ready to eat. Anyone who enters is offered a poutine. And anyone who is leaving is asked if they want to bring some home.

And this maybe hard for some to wrap their minds around, but we eat these on Christmas morning. Even now my brother, nephew and 3 cousins show up at my moms house Christmas morning for a poutine or two!

That’s my sneak peek at our Acadian tradition of making poutines. I hope you are enlightened and if you are brave enough to want to try one, hit me up next year and I will hook you up!

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and I wish you and your families a Happy New Year! May your hearts be happy and your bellies be full!

muah!

Liette