Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Mother's Shortbread Cookie Recipe

By special request, I'm sharing my Mother's Shortbread Cookie recipe. It's not too late to whip up a batch for your own enjoyment or to take along with you to a friend's home over the holidays, as a hostess gift. 

Without any further ado, Merry Christmas from my kitchen to yours.

My Mother’s Shortbread Cookie Recipe
(This recipe is okay to double)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter. Add the remaining ingredients slowly and beat on a high speed. (Tip: The more you beat it, the better the cookie!) The resulting batter will be very thick.

Form the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter, or less, and place on a cookie sheet. Press the cookie flat with a cookie press or with your hand.

Bake at 300 degrees F for 15 - 20 minutes and set out to cool on a cooling rack.


Friday, December 18, 2015

I'm Ready for a Fresh Start

Frosted Flakes
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

Lately, my hand , when I sit down with my journal each morning, wants to write 2016. This past year has been hard on us and I think I'm primed and ready for the fresh start a New Year represents.

We have received enormous blessings over the course of this past year, it's true, and I don't disregard these. There were new friends made, financial blessings, mild weather, creative expression, and moments of real soul peace. 

2015 did, however, begin will a tenancious illness and ends with death. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, it has been a memorable year for all the wrong reasons.

Frozen in Time
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

I've always wanted to incorporate a ritual cleansing in my New Year's Eve tradition, but have never been prepared. Past years have been hectic and busy with Christmas preparations and I typically remember I'd wanted to do something, after the event has come and gone. This year, I've slowed things down considerably, and I have the mental capacity to actually plan ahead with intention. 

This year, I'd like to do something significant to mark the passing of another year. I will gently, respectfully thank it for it's lessons, bid it farewell and close the door with a firm click behind it. I'm not sure yet, how it will all look, but I plan to make it personal, powerful, and sacred. It will likely involve the written word and the ritual burning of stuff.

For now, I'm content to sit with the intention and see what rises to the surface.

Do you have a New Year's Eve ritual that you engage in? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Super Delicious Bird Treat

Winter days spent confined to the coop can be long and boring for chickens so I'm always searching for ways to entertain them. This treat is quick, simple, easy to make and inexpensive.

It's a delicious, healthy treat that can be served up for your hens to enjoy or you can hang it outside for wild birds who are fending for themselves in the cold.

What you'll need:

- 1 apple
- A sharp knife for coring and one for spreading the peanut butter
- Wild bird seed*
- Natural peanut butter - no added sugar or salt
- Plate
- String

Simply wash and core an apple. It's not absolutely necessary to core it, but apple seeds do contain a small amount of cyanide and it makes it easier to hang the treat later.

Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on the outside of the apple. This part can get a bit messy, but it's worth it. Pour a generous amount of birdseed on a plate and then firmly roll the apple in it until it's well coated.

I run a string through the centre of the apple so I can hang it in the coop for the hens to peck at. It makes it a little more of a sport for them and lasts longer.

When they've picked off all the seeds and nuts, they can enjoy the fruit, too.

*Note: Take the time to read the ingredients on the bird seed you purchase. I found several that had added food colouring and/or artificial flavoring. I don't think birds need either of those, so I kept looking until I found a mixture that contained only seeds and nuts.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In Appreciation of Winter

I've recently developed a new appreciation for peaceful Winter mornings. 

As much as I love Spring and Summer, those days are full and start immediately upon waking with a garden that needs tending before it gets too hot. There is no time for quiet contemplation over a fresh cup of coffee, or for writing in my journal. During the height of Summer, the sun rises at the ungodly hour of 4:30 a.m., so curling up in a chair by the fireplace to watch the sun brighten the sky is a pastime that is best enjoyed during the dark winter months. 

True, during the Summer, I'm outdoors enjoying the rich scent of loamy earth and new growth, a symphony of birdsong and coyote calls. But the sense of rest and gentle awakening is missing in a rush and flurry of chores.

During the Winter, time seems to stretch and lengthen and there is enough of it to spend within the pages of a book or luxuriating in scented bathwater. The smell of fresh baking cooling on the counter feels especially soothing and cozy on cold days with snow falling outside the kitchen window.

I've been impatient with Winter up until now, constantly checking my watch to see if it'll be leaving soon. Now, I find myself savouring the sense of calm and peace that comes with a fresh blanket of snow and a fire banked against the chill.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Simple, Soothing Cold Remedy

12 Tall Honey
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

My husband and I have been struggling with (another!) cold this year. While I'll reach for a throat losenge if I really need to, I much prefer natural remedies. My Hot Lemonade is great for soothing sore throats and clearing nasal passages and, in addition to tasting yummy, it will help you sleep.

Honey is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, improves the immune system, helps with digestion, calms the mind and promotes sleep. 

Sliced Lemons
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

Lemons are powerful antioxidants and are also credited with improving the immune system. They're packed with a host of vitamins and minerals, including but not limited to Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A. Lemon juice helps to break fever and assists in weight loss and the prevention of kidney stones. 

Start feeling better with just three magic ingredients: Honey, Fresh Squeezed Lemon, and Hot Water. 

I usually start with about 1 heaping Tbsp. each of the Honey and Lemon in a mug, adjusting for taste after the hot water has been added. It's best consumed while hot and right before bed.

To your health!

Friday, November 20, 2015

RURAL Christmas Issue

The RURAL Christmas issue is available now. This free, on-line magazine is loaded with delicious recipes, interesting information, Contests, and it's all tied up together with a string of stunningly beautiful images. Click here to view.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Touch of Colour

Doodle Bouquet
Original Watercolour Illustration
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

I felt the need for colour today. When I sat down at my studio desk, I didn't require of myself a great masterpiece or anything noteworthy. I just wanted to put colour on the page and create something pleasing to the eye, with a touch of whimsy. I hope I've achieved that with this simple illustration.

What have you felt compelled to do today? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

First Day of Snow

Original Photograph
© Carolynn Anctil 2015

We got our first real snowfall of the season yesterday. I let the hens outside once they'd had a chance to wake up and eat a good breakfast of warm oatmeal. 

Original Photograph
© Carolynn Anctil 2015

It was a beautiful winter day under heavy skies, with little to no wind. I had cleared the run of most of the snow and laid some straw out for them to walk on. Everyone came out briefly before deciding it was more comfortable inside the coop.

Winter Hen
Original Photograph
© Carolynn Anctil 2015

A few of the more adventurous girls came out periodically throughout the day to enjoy the crisp winter air and explore, but most elected to remain indoors for the day.

All in all, it was a good first day of real winter weather.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Sleepy Stars

Sleepy Stars
Original Watercolour Illustration
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

Inspiration for artwork comes from many different places. Dreams, magazine images, the written word. This piece was inspired by one of my favourite quotes.

"On a Sunday morning,
I carry sleepy stars behind my ears
and in my hair."
Christina Martin

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Little Something Spooky

Prairie Farmhouse III
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

"A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently;
there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand
presses the sill of the window, the latch rises.
Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night."
James Matthew Barrie

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Sunny Sunflowers
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

"It is the sweet, simple things of life 
which are the real ones after all."
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Monday, October 26, 2015

Life is Different in the Country

Broken Barn
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

There are a few things you begin to notice about living in the country that are very different from what you've been used to after you transition from life in the Big City. 

- Most of your friends are farmers.

- Roadblocks look a lot like cows.

- Drivers wave to each other when they pass on the road.

- Wild animals use your front yard as a shortcut to get to wherever they're going.

- Coyote calls, hooting owls, and chattering crickets replace sirens, honking horns, and motorcycle engine noises in the night.

Broken Barn II
Original Photography
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

- A lot of what you eat at each meal is the product of your own efforts and comes out of the ground.

- You find yourself stockpiling food and sundry supplies in the event that weather conditions will prevent you from getting to town for several days.

- Your vehicles are all outfitted with emergency kits.

- You spend copious amounts of money on gardening tools, snow removal equipment, and the like.

- You become adept at reading the weather patterns.

- Your work shoes all have manure on them.

Broken Barn III
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

- You have become a Walmart shopper. *A moment of silence, please*

- You rely on the internet for veterinarian advice.

- You stop wearing a timepiece and instead watch the sun's movement across the sky.

- Having a manicure means cleaning the dirt out from underneath your fingernails.

- Recycling means giving kitchen scraps to the hens.

- The vegetables you prepare for meals still have dirt on them.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rural Magazine

Winter Jacket
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

I'm very pleased to announce that I've been invited to be a regular contributor to Rural, an on-line magazine that celebrates country living. 

Conceived by my dear friend, Jen Vandervoort, you can enjoy her photography and writing at her website The Light Laughed. Please join me in congratulating her on her latest creative endeavour. 

Below is an excerpt from my essay that appears in the first issue. If you like this issue, feel free to share it. If you'd like to subscribe, send an e-mail to to receive new issues right to your in-box.

* * * * * * * * * * *

 “Nature does not hurry, 
yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

There’s a natural rhythm to life lived in the country. While the day may begin before dawn and be filled with more than enough work to do, there is no clock to watch or timetable to adhere to. Time is measured by the sun’s track across the sky and the length of the shadows it throws. Each approaching season requires preparation. There’s an ancient flow to it and time enough to surrender to the changes that are coming.

Coffee is sipped in the quiet of the twilight hours, while the sun peers over the horizon, illuminating the sky and signaling night prowlers to seek the safety and comfort of their dens. A rooster crows from within the safety of the coop, setting the hens to ruffling their feathers and wishing, no doubt, that he came with a snooze button. A distant train whistle threatens to set a melancholy mood. Soon it will be time to collect eggs, still warm and nestled in lavender scented straw. Read more here. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

House Hunting - Prairie Style

Prairie Farmhouse IV
Original Photography
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

There's a pastime my husband and I enjoy engaging in that is unique to prairie country living. I call it House Hunting and it involves piling ourselves and our dog into the truck and pointing it in a direction we want to explore. With a full tank of gas and no particular destination in mind, we head into the countryside to search for abandoned homesteads.  

Room With a View
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

I like to approach each neglected building slowly and with an element of respect, circling the outside to familiarize myself with the structure before investigating more closely. They all have a tired elegance in common and hint at better days. 

The landscape is vast and barren and these weather beaten structures are a testament to the rugged character that the residents required to live here.

Prairie Farmhouse Interior
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

I rarely venture inside these derelicts, preferring the beauty of the architecture that these buildings still possess rather than the sad destruction that typically lays within.

Vintage Washing Machine
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

So many stories have been left abandoned in these buildings along with remnants of lives lived within these walls. Home now to rodents and birds, their duty is not yet done. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Prairie Farmhouse II
Original Photograph
by Carolynn Anctil © 2015

Welcome to Tin Rooster Farm!

After nearly 10 years blogging under the name A Glowing Ember, it was time for a fresh start. 

As is often the case when a move is made, one feels the need to personalize it. I was inspired to add a little colour to my new space and was instinctively drawn to those typically associated with the French countryside. In Simply Color for Everyday Living*, Diantha Harris explains the meaning behind the four colours I've selected.

Purple is in the spiritual realm, where the intuition resides. It also represents transition and forms the foundation of my new look.

Yellow is associated with creativity, clarity, and the sharing of knowledge.

Green is heart energy. It's soothing, relaxing and balancing and finds its source in nature.

And, finally, Orange, the colour of my rusty rooster. This colour represents new beginnings and new possibilities. It also represents the written word, community, and healing from trauma.

I hope you'll join me on this new journey of exploration, creative expression, and growth. Artwork, writing and country living will figure prominently. 

One more thing before I go, I've been invited to participate in an exciting project and I look forward to making an announcement about that in the next few days. 


*I'm thrilled to have my artwork featured in Diantha Harris' wildly informative book, Simply Color for Everyday Living. If you'd like a copy of your own, send me an e-mail ( and I'll provide you with details. It is not available through regular booksellers and each copy purchased through me includes a small gift as a token of my thanks.