October 18, 2020 · 8:19 am
One of the best parts about moving to the country has been experiencing the joy of savouring freshly picked produce.
It is interesting the way that things have flip flopped: When I lived in the city, within a small radius, I had ten grocery stores to choose from, two farms from which I could buy seasonal produce, and one farmer’s market that would set up on Saturdays. In the country, I have one excellent grocery store nearby, I am surrounded by a multitude of farmers’ stands that sell produce, and around here, any day of the week is pretty much “farmer’s market” day.
Needless to say, we took full advantage of this opportunity.
Over the course of the last four months we have enjoyed fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, green and yellow beans, peas, corn, potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, onions, garlic, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and several varieties of apples, all grown locally.
There have been other products available, but there just haven’t been enough hours in the day to try them all.
When you add to the mix a local butcher shop that also sources products from local suppliers, we have found ourselves marveling on more than one occasion at how everything on the dinner table was truly local.
I will be the first to say that I appreciate the convenience of a good supermarket that can sell you anything, anytime, especially in the middle of a Canadian winter when the ground is frozen and growing season is over. The availability of imported fruits and vegetables is certainly a delight to add colour and variety to our diets through the twelve months of the calendar year. Continue reading →
Filed under food, home
Tagged as agriculture, country, farmer, food, fresh, fruit, grocery, growing, grown, local, locally, natural, nature, produce, season, seasonal, sourced, supermarket, variety, vegetable
December 15, 2019 · 11:43 am
I admit that I am a sucker for some good Christmas tunes.
When it comes to picking favourites, I am pretty easy going. It doesn’t really matter whether I listen to the classics by Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald or Burl Ives, or modern ones like Wham’s “Last Christmas” or Linda Eder’s “The Bells of St Paul”, I am a fan.
In my own traditions, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band-Aid is usually the first one I play to kick off my holiday preparations, much like it did when it first hit the airwaves in 1984.
I can’t think of a better time to have the holiday tunes playing than when I am decking the halls, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts or enjoying some holiday baking. To me, the music can be the icing on the cake, turning my holiday activities into more idyllic Norman Rockwell-Hallmark movie moments.
Over the years, I have collected a couple of new CDs each year just to hear different jazz or pop interpretations, to switch things up and to keep the holiday tunes fresh.
Ten years ago, when I was learning Swedish, I accumulated some CDs from Sweden’s top pop singers that not only added fresh new voices to the mix, but also introduced me to traditional Swedish songs. Today, I couldn’t imagine my holidays without them.
Overall, I will admit to having a pretty big appetite for holiday tunes… but not all the time. Continue reading →
Filed under Christmas, Humour, music, pop culture
Tagged as blaring, CD, Christmas, classics, December, drivers, driving, early, holiday, music, overload, radio, seasonal, senses, songs, stations, traditional, traditions, tunes
March 10, 2019 · 9:02 am
After a challenging winter, when the calendar flips to March, we start looking for signs that spring is on its way.
I have found that a pretty reliable predictor is the sudden presence of cat hair… everywhere! Even though I’d like to think I keep a pretty tidy house, no amount of vacuuming seems to be able to keep up with the pace at which Ivy the Wonder Cat sheds her winter coat.
Last week, I was a little startled when I found a stray cat hair on my breakfast plate, peeking out from under my food, even though the kitchen was spotless. Another day, I was on the couch watching TV, when I suddenly started choking when I inhaled a stray cat hair that was floating around.
Even as I am writing this, I am noticing a cat hair on the lip of my coffee cup.
I conclude that cat hair must be following me around like a cloud. To maintain a more positive outlook, I prefer to think about it as an extension of my aura. Fortunately, it’s just a temporary, seasonal thing.
Just the same, I sprang into action and took the vacuum out. An hour later, after vacuuming in every corner and crevice in the house, the dirt cup was quite full even though I had just done it a few days prior.
What is really fascinating is that it is like it happens overnight. Throughout January and February, there is a modest amount of cat hair in the vacuum’s dirt cup every time I clean, which seems perfectly normal.
But as soon as March rolls around, BOOM! It’s like someone hit the cat’s “hair ejector” button. For the amount of hair I collect, I often wonder how Ivy isn’t bald because there’s just so much of it. Continue reading →
Filed under Cats, Humour
Tagged as brush, brushing, care, cat, cat care, cat hair, Cats, cats of wordpress, chat, coat, control, dander, dandruff, fur, furballs, gato, grooming, hair loss, hairballs, katt, pamper, pampering, pets, seasonal, shedding, winter coat
March 3, 2019 · 1:40 pm
1. Baking can be an “in the moment” experience. It is difficult to ruminate over an issue, when one is busy measuring and following directions, while keeping an eye on the clock and the oven.
2. To me, baking can be a relaxing experience.
3. Baking is an opportunity to develop new skills or to work on existing ones.
4. I love that baking can be broken down into many individual disciplines and learning opportunities.
5. I love that I have succeeded in folding egg whites without completely deflating batter.
6. I love that baking is something for which I am passionate enough to make the time to keep trying.
7. Baking is an opportunity to develop intuition for what will work and what won’t.
8. Baking is an opportunity to experiment with different ingredients.
9. Baking is an opportunity to take a favourite recipe and to try to “embellish” it with different flavours.
10. Baking is the closest I will ever get to becoming a scientist, meticulously combining different ingredients and relying on their chemical properties to achieve grand results.
11. I love baking because I know exactly what goes into a recipe.
12. I love baking because I don’t use ingredients that I cannot pronounce. Continue reading →
Filed under food, Lists
Tagged as baked goods, baker, baking, cakes, connection, cookies, food, foodie, fun, generational, gluten-free, hobby, ingredients, journey, joy, learning, love, pleasure, reasons, recipes, seasonal, simple pleasures, tradition, wheat-free
March 12, 2017 · 8:20 am
Not too long ago, a friend asked me what I was up to over the weekend and one of the first things out of my mouth was “spring cleaning”. His laughter spoke volumes because at the time, we weren’t anywhere near spring.
The issue, as he pointed out, is that spring cleaning seems to get slipped into conversation 52 weeks of my year. He is right. If I were to promote spring cleaning, my slogan would be “spring cleaning: it’s not just for spring anymore”.
Who has time for spring cleaning in the spring?
After 4-5 months of grey skies, snow, ice and cold temperatures, we Canadians come out of our wintry shells and spend time outdoors to do something …anything!… to get away from the confines of the 4 walls we call home. As much as we may enjoy hibernating and cocooning on the couch with Netflix, ketchup chips, poutine, crispy bacon or anything involving maple syrup, when we don’t HAVE to cocoon anymore, we are outta there!
After being caged up for a season and a half, we become possessed by a heightened appetite for freedom.
When the days are getting longer, temperatures are soaring and our long underwear has been put away for the season, why would we stay home and clean? With the calendar filling with invitations to barbecues and outdoor festivals popping up every weekend, spring cleaning in spring seems so wrong on so many levels.
The season of choice for spring cleaning defies logic to a Canadian. Continue reading →
Filed under Humour
Tagged as apartment, balancing, challenge, chores, cleaning, closets, drapes, dusting, family, finding time, freedom, hibernating, hibernation, home, home ownership, home repairs, household, Lists, seasonal, seasons, spring, spring cleaning, time, time management, washing, weather, windows, winter
November 27, 2016 · 7:41 am
A couple of years ago, in the blog post “The Christmas Trees of August”, I poked fun at the retail sector and how stores seem to be putting out seasonal merchandise earlier and earlier each year.
It is funny how times change.
Here we are, two short years later, and I am finding myself seriously venturing out to Christmas shop earlier and earlier with each passing year.
At the best of times throughout the year, I rarely shop on Saturday afternoons. But in the last weeks approaching Christmas, I also avoid shopping on Saturday mornings as the stores and parking lots get far too busy for me. Then a week later, I will drop Sunday as a possible shopping day. Then a week later, Friday evenings are off the list. A week after that, Thursday evenings are eliminated.
When I only have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to get my shopping done, there are only so many hours to accomplish that.
Then add to the mix the wildcard of snowstorms or freezing rain that can strike at any moment. If they do, some of those prime shopping days can unexpectedly disappear.
What does one do in light of this weird Christmas shopping algorithm?… I started shopping earlier.
I seem to have a romantic notion of Christmas shopping being a fun activity. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Christmas, Humour
Tagged as carolers, carols, Christmas, Christmas music, compassion, crowds, December, early, emotions, energy, gentle, gift giving, gifts, holiday, kindness, line-ups, malls, manners, patience, planning, resilience, retail, Santa, Santa Claus, seasonal, sensitive, sensitivity, shopping, shopping malls, spirit, stocking stuffers, stress, traditional, traditions
August 11, 2014 · 5:17 am
So let me see if I understand this correctly… You cannot buy a bathing suit in August, the stores need to make room for long underwear. You cannot buy long underwear in February, stores need to make room for bathing suits. The back-to-school supplies are out before the kids are out of school. And on the hottest, most humid days of the year, the retail sector seems to think that I am dreaming of a white Christmas and supporting that dream by putting up Christmas trees and ornaments in August. Is that right?
Dear Retail Sector… Stop that right now!
Back in my day (“I’d like ‘things I swore I’d never say because it makes me sound like my dad’ for $1000, Alex), when I worked at your friendly neighbourhood pharmacy, in late October, as the Halloween section’s costumes, decorations and treats started to dwindle, we would gradually move together the remaining items to make the shelves look fuller. Then magically, the Christmas elves took over the store a little bit each night as the Christmas decorations and wrapping paper gradually took over the seasonal section as Halloween came and went. That, my friends, was Christmas magic back in the 1980’s! Continue reading →
Filed under Christmas, Misc blogs
Tagged as Christmas, decorating, decorations, early, fall, gifts, holidays, merchandise, observational, priorities, retail, seasonal, seasons, shopping, stock, summer, time, trees