Yesterday I arrived home from my overnight trip.  My intent was to have coffee and an early visit with my parents and then head straight home to complete my blog and then work on finishing a knitting project.  I knew we were going out to a Dickens reading in the evening so I was trying to get home early so that I could be productive but along the journey I got side-tracked.

I headed out of the fog of the valley and when I got to the top of the mountain highway pass I realized it was actually quite a nice day.  I listened to CBC and was enjoyed the scenic drive.  As I neared my turn off to head up island I thought perhaps I would take the old route along the ocean so I headed straight, instead of turning right.

Within minutes I was in the quaint village of Qualicum Beach and I couldn’t resist having a little walk around the town.  First, I went into the thrift store to see if there was a treasure in the form of a beautiful old wool coat or riding jacket. Although there were a couple of gems none of them was what I was looking for.

I headed out the door toward my car, mindful of the time but as I looked across the street a window display caught my attention.  I quickly  crossed over for a peek.  The store was 15 minutes short of opening so I spied a shop two doors down that looked intriguing.Needless to say, I pulled out in my car an hour later and headed to the highway with a quart of chalk paint, some hemp oil, and a christmas wish list complete with photos on my iPhone.

nature inspired earrings from one of the shops

nature inspired earrings from one of the shops

I wanted to feel guilty about not getting home sooner and about buying something but I stopped myself.  If I hadn’t stopped I would not have had the great chat with the young owner of the paint shop.  I got to hear her story of relocating her family without a job based solely on the fact that her and her husband had decided that they wanted out of the rat race of the big city.  It inspired me to hear that young people are willing to examine their lives and shape their priorities based on lifestyle and finanaces.  I also got to meet two other young entrepreneurs who have a passion for clothing and accessories but are making conscious buying decisions to support local (Vancouver) designers and manufacturers.

I must be getting old because the two owners didn’t look old enough to have graduated from high school.  Their enthusiasm and knowledge of the business energized me.

When I returned home I promptly got to my blog but knowing that we were heading out for the evening wondered what we should have for dinner.  I thought I would make shot ribs but then remembered the pumpkin I had left sitting out on the porch.  I decided that a vegetarian meal was more in order and that soup would satisfy the need to prepare ahead and eat quickly.  So, after my blog post I made up a pumpkin soup recipe based on what I had in the cupboards, fridge and freezer. The result was quite delicious.

Pumpkin Nut Soup

sliced pumpkin

sliced pumpkin



1 medium size pumpkin, cleaned, peeled and chopped

cleaned pumpkin

cleaned pumpkin

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

1 Tbsp. curry paste

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

¼ tsp. Salish salt

1 tsp. coriander

salt, pepper

saute pumpkin

saute chopped pumpkin

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

pumpkin, garlic, spices and stock

pumpkin, garlic, spices and stock

1/2 cup toasted, finely chopped mixed nuts

1/2 cup heavy cream or coconut milk

 ½ cup asiago cheese, grated for garnish
Pumpkin Nut Soup

Pumpkin Nut Soup


Cut pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Slice, peel and chop roughly.

Place the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.

Add the chopped pumpkin, garlic and carrots and sauté until coated with oil and slightly browned.

Add chicken or vegetable stock, curry paste and spices.

Simmer until pumpkin is well cooked and soft.

Place cooked soup in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Return to the pot and add the toasted mixed nuts and cream.  Stir until incorporated.

Top single servings of soup with grated asiago cheese.




Nature as Our Guide

Nature Honours its Faded and Old

Nature Honours its Faded and Old

I like to observe and study nature, especially the coastal rainforest where I grew up and lived for 45 years.  I really believe that nature can model how we should live.  The other day I was so surprised by the work of nature right  in our house.  I cleaned up one of the gardens  in the yard about 4 weeks ago and one of the plants in the garden was Autumn Joy Sedum.  I picked a little flower head from the expiring plant to display in a miniature vase that my daughter had made me.  The vase is so tiny it barely holds any water but nonetheless I put a few drops of water in the vase to keep the flower head from fading too quickly.  I left the rest of the plant in the ground with its flowers, because as the name of the plant denotes, it is a joy to look at in the Autumn.  It gets sort of pink through the end of the summer and then in fall, its colour turns anywhere from a pale red to a blazing red depending on the weather, soil conditions and the like. I thought I would allow the plant to fade in the garden and bring as much joy to us while it could.  After that I planned on removing the growth and allowing it to sleep for the winter, readying itself for new spring growth.

So, was I ever shocked when I went to remove the little vase and discard the now very faded flower from the bathroom windowsill.  As I was preparing to throw the flower in the compost my partner said, “hey, did you notice what that flower is doing?”  I looked more closely wondering what he was talking about.  As I looked more closely at the flower, I noticed a tiny little bit of sprig of green along the stem.  The cut stem had used the little bit of water I had placed in the vase and whatever nutrition was stored in its narrow stem to grow a network of new white roots and a minute  burst of new leaves.  Wow. I was so amazed.  This little bit of a plant piece had managed to muster up new life with very little water or light and in conditions very different from where its mother plant was growing.

So, this has got me thinking about how nature will model how to live, solve problems and create unique solutions to problems that seem unsolvable for humans.  If a tiny little piece of a plant can be taken from its parent, given totally different conditions to live and very little nutrition and still throw off new life what can we learn from this?

My big question these days is, how can we honour our elderly, sick and disabled to allow them to contribute, feel inclusion and live with dignity?  Things in the natural world are created less than ‘perfect’ sometimes, they grow old and die eventually, but how does nature model this process?  What I witnessed with this tiny little plant was that nothing is useless.  It may not be as vibrant and colourful as it once was, but its fading beauty can still send out bits of colour and life. This causes me to ask myself, am I looking for the beauty and wisdom in the disabled and elderly?  What can I do, just as nature does, to honour and respect that all forms and stages of life have a purpose and a reason for being?

Kitchen Comfort

Yesterday I finished the mincemeat I started on Monday.  Richard, my partner loves mincemeat tarts.  However, in the last two years he has found that he can no longer tolerate gluten and so pastry is kind of out, at least the pastry that I like to bake.  I am a bit of a purest when it comes to baking.  I subscribe  to the motto, ‘if you can’t use real butter, flour, sugar and organic eggs then what is the point?’  For his sake, I have modified that motto and will occasionally attempt some gluten free baking.  I have narrowed it down to desserts like creme brule, rice pudding, shortbread, chocolate mousse, butterscotch pudding and carrot cake.  I have tried many other gluten free recipes but they always turn out pasty and odd tasting.

apples from our tree

apples from our tree

my own dried cherries and figs

my own dried cherries and figs

This week I was feeling open minded frame  so I decided to attempt pastry again.  Last year I bought gluten-free tart shells but in the end we decided they were awful and Richard ended up eating the mincemeat and throwing the tart shells away.  So, last night I got out the vast array of gluten free flours, starches and what not that have been in the back of the pantry and got to work creating my own pastry recipe.  I started with my Mom’s recipe and then substituted different flours for regular flour.  I ended up using a mixture of Bob’s Mill gluten free flour, amaranth flour and rice flour.  The results were surprisingly good.  The texture was a bit tough still but it didn’t have a pasty texture or taste and I think I could improve the recipe by adding some shortening instead of using all butter.  Maybe that would give it a bit more flakiness.  Nonetheless, Richard loved the tarts and enjoyed two while we watched a movie last night.

The mincemeat

Mincemeat Tarts

Mincemeat Tarts

I also whipped up some no knead bread and this morning after the 18 hour rise, I added Chanterelle mushrooms and Monterey Jack with Horseradish cheese to the dough.  I am going out to a presentation at a friend’s tonight and thought I would bring it along to share.  In addition to that I  made Thimble Cookies.  I used the hazelnuts that I gathered in the fall and I am going to fill them with some of the Chocolate Pear Jam I made at the end of the summer. I am definitely getting nest as November comes to a close and Christmas baking is just around the corner.

bread rising

bread rising

Thimble Cookies with Chocolate Pear Jam

Thimble Cookies with Chocolate Pear Jam

Dance Tunes remind me of my friend Derrie.

Dance Tunes remind me of my friend Derrie.

This morning I felt like listening to some soothing classical music. I chose Chopin. Immediately upon the first note I found myself transported to many different places and thinking of several people. Music, much like literature, is magical in the way it allows you to revisit other times and places and I think I could choose music that would suitably personify every joyful as well as painful moment in my life.

As a very young child I was exposed to music made by my family.  My biological father’s side of the family was quite musical, in an unschooled, country kind of way.  They did not have a lot of extra time or cash for leisure or entertainment so making music together was their form of entertainment.  My father’s mother played the piano by ear and at a young age was thrown into the dance hall music business when her father required someone to accompany him at local dances.  He played the fiddle and she played the piano while the locals danced the night away.

Whenever I hear fiddle, mandolin, banjo and piano music it takes me back to a time that I can hardly remember because I was so young but the music does something to my psyche that allows me to recall late night barn dances and early mornings when us kids would head out to the barn to eat the leftover take-out Chinese food and scavenge for the coins in  the straw that had dropped out of the frolicking adult’s pockets. The singing sound of a good fiddle reel can bring me to want to jump up and step dance or dissolve into a puddle of tears, neither of which I have much explanation or control over.

Classical music pieces also stir up memories and stories for me.  This morning as I listen to Chopin, I think of my dear friend Ester and her daughter Kristi, both whom are extremely talented pianists. Movie-like scenes form in my mind, of their dreamy, other worldly look and demeanour, as they escape into a magical relationship with the keys and notes.  Listening to these pieces makes me feel, in some small way that I am  connected to them and their world.  My story becomes bigger because I have been witness to their musical gift.  I am connected not to only them but also their families, their friends, their farm and of course the forest that we would often visit on our walking forays after an evening of music, conversation and fine food. I can picture Ester’s parents which causes another set of stories to unfold in my head, especially those of their resilience, resourcefulness and faith, as they have made their journey through  life-threatening escape, young love, family, hard work and finally, an old age surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on a beautiful farm nestled away safely along side the mountains.

Although classical music can stir fond memories it also has the ability to take me back to the days when I somewhat unwillingly studied music. I wanted to take piano lessons and my Mom was so keen to do all she could to give me opportunities she never had as a child, that she enrolled me with a teacher when we did not even own a piano.  I remember walking home from school and hurrying over to the neighbours house to use their piano to practice. Soon after my Mom bought a piano from my grandmother and I was set.  The only problem being, I had already lost interest in practicing because it cut into the time I could play outside with my friends.  I was a competitive swimmer and I swam every morning and everyday after school so there was not much time left for leisure activities when the swimming, homework, chores and piano practicing were factored in.  Nevertheless, my Mom was a firm believer that quitters never get anywhere in life and so I stuck it out.  I learned to discipline myself to practice early in the mornings so that I could squeeze in friend time as well as piano and all my other activities.  I was diligent and the hard work did pay off.  I was able to get my Grade 8 Royal Conservatory Certificate and although I do not have my piano with me at this time I still love to listen to many of the composers and pieces that I begrudgingly learned as I grew up. I look forward to a time when I will have my piano and perhaps be able to take more lessons. Mom was again right, the hard work and not quitting paid off.

Yesterday I was reminded again of the power of music to transport us to happier times.  We received a short note in the mail from my partner’s widowed mother.  She wrote of the latest event in her life which was so touching.  She had recently been to a musical performance that she said  took her down’ memory lane.’  She recounted how the music caused her to relive the love she had shared with her husband before his death and asked us what music might perhaps do the same for us one day.  I found it so heartwarming that she would share such precious memories with her son and I.  What a beautiful gift.

Another genre of music, (country) that I could not stand when I was younger has since grown on me. Country music used to make me think of the ridiculousness of the lyrics and often caused me to be very sad.  I had no explanation for this pervading sadness and still don’t.  Now, country music makes me remember my parents on Friday nights, twirling around our living room or that of my aunt and uncle’s, dancing to the tunes of Stompin Tom Connors, Hank Snow, Hank Williams and Buck Owens.  I think of my Mom singing along to Jim Reeves when we lived at my grandparent’s house and remember when she was young.  I thought my mother was so beautiful, a super-model of sorts. I admired her fashionable hairstyles, her glamorous outfits and the nail polish she would carefully apply at the kitchen table.  I used to think I must have been adopted because I thought I did not possess any of her striking good looks or feminine mystique.  Sadly, life has taken its toll on my mother and although she is still striking with her intense blue eyes and long lean physique, she is tired and hurt, especially after the death of my oldest brother.  She still enjoys a good country tune though and I love to mix her a White Russian or pour a glass of red wine and put on some country tunes in order to transport her to happier times.

Country music also reminds me of my three children.  Funnily enough,  it is the genre of choice for all of them.  George Strait singing, I Wanna  Dance with You, reminds me of when my son would crank that tune and drive me crazy.  When I would tell him to turn it off he smugly reply, “come on Mom, doesn’t this remind you of Pa whistling away in Gram’s ear while they dance?”  Another country song that I cannot hear without thinking of my daughter, Regan, is People Are Crazy, by Billie Currington.  I can pinpoint exactly where we were the first time she played it for us.  We were driving between Penticton and Vernon on our way to my son’s hockey game in my parent’s truck.  When she put the song on I was immediately taken, probably because I saw such pleasure and joy in the faces of my daughter and my Dad.  I still love that tune.  Old Taylor Swift songs remind me of my youngest daughter and all the driving we did in her high school years.  When I hear those songs I can picture us speeding along the Hope Princeton highway on our way back to Penticton or racing toward Vancouver to try catch a ferry so we can be on the island with our family and friends for holidays.  I learned all the words to her early music and Hanna and I would sing away to pass the long hours of driving and to soothe our homesickness.

My Chopin playlist has ended and the house is quiet now.  I am going do some long neglected paperwork, bake a treat to bring along to a friend’s presentation tomorrow night and finish the mincemeat I started yesterday.  I’ll need to be focused and stay on track so I think I better choose my music wisely.  I’ll need something that doesn’t stir too many memories and is not too distracting otherwise I might find myself engulfed in an unproductive, nostalgic fog again and that just won’t do. Perhaps a little ‘Saturday cleaning  and chore music’ would be suitable; Billie Holiday or Thelonnius Monk? I’ll have to see.

Winter is Closing In


Over the last few days I found myself listening to ‘winter music.’  It is interesting to me how as I get older and have more time to focus on myself,  I notice rhythms in my being that mirror those of nature. Upon reflection I think I can honestly say that these rhythms have always been with me, even as a young child, I just didn’t take the time to notice them. I believe that my experience with this world is grounded in nature and that it is part of my purpose in life to find and share the joy found in the forest, the oceans and lakes, the flora and fauna of the earth. So, as autumn winds down and winter begins to gradually creep in, I find myself welcoming the unhurried pace.

My rhythm these days can only be described as slow and contemplative. I like to listen to music whose muse is nature, winter and spiritual in nature.  Ancient classical music, chant or Loreena McKennit’s winter songs seem to fit my introspective mood right now.  When I go out for a walk or sit on the patio with my coffee in the early morning I notice that nature is also not rushing.  The last of the winter apples seem to be content clinging to the frozen branches and there are still some soggy, straggling leaves draped over the branches.   The moss has crept and covered much of  fallen logs and rocks in the forest and is resting with satisfaction in its varying hues of green.  Some of the moss hanging from the trees forms a filmy curtain , as if its job is to create a sanctuary for the forest and its creatures to rest in for the winter.

As winter approaches I am taking more time to be creative and honour the reprieve given to me this year, as I find myself voluntarily unemployed.  For instance, yesterday I spent most of the day working on refinishing a piece of furniture we have been storing and lugging around with us for the better part of a year.  I also got to the apples that I picked over three weeks ago and produced some delicious organic apple juice.  I look forward to the mulled wine and apple cider as well as apple butter that I will create from the golden nectar.  It was doubly satisfying making the juice because not only did the apples come from our own tree, but the juicer was a 50th birthday gift from my kids, so it felt great to use it knowing that they thought of how much pleasure and use the device would bring me when they purchased it.

winter apples

winter apples

the finished product

the finished product

Today I will use some of the remaining  apples and attempt to replicate the most delicious mincemeat ever made.  It comes from Murchies and although I have not been able to indulge in one of their mince tarts for several years now, I always find myself hankering after them as Christmas approaches. I will let you know how that goes.  The timing is perfect because Friday I spent the day with my Mom helping her make Christmas Cake, which I have never made. Mom was looking forward to me coming and did not want to find herself short of any ingredients so in her zeal to make sure she had everything she went a bit overboard.  I was able to come home with plenty of extra dried and candied fruit and so I thought what better to do with it than mix it with the apples I have and try to make Murchies Mincemeat.

I also plan to begin another knitting project today to add to the gift cupboard.  It is my intent to use some of the fibre I have to make presents for everyone this year.  As I said, I am a little short on cash but long on time so handmade gifts are both a luxury and necessity this year. I will also add the finishing touches to the sideboard I refinished yesterday and perhaps gather a few ‘morsels’ from nature to display on its smooth, worn surface.

All these plans could be interpreted as a contradiction of my opening statement, that I have slowed down to mimic the quiet and plodding pace of nature. However, I don’t feel hurried or frenzied to get these projects completed  and although nature appears still, she is no where near stagnant or dead, nor am I.  I like to think that my production at this time of year is of a calm, dreamy nature or an indulgence that I would otherwise not take the time for, were it not for the fact that winter is closing in.

Does Breakfast have to be so boring?


More times than not, I find myself running through a list of ho-hum possibilities of what I could have for breakfast.  Often a second cup of creamy rich coffee wins out because I simply cannot get excited about anything I think of. I don’t like the skipping breakfast habit and it definitiely contributes to me be starving by lunch time and not being mindful of what I eat in a frenzied state of hunger.

Fortunately for me, I recently found a fantastic blog while searching European blogs.  What Should I Eat For Breakfast is a site I found that inspired me to make my breakfast this morning.

Back in October I was reading one of her posts and  saw a picture of a delicious looking little meal, Polenta with Poached Egg, Salmon and Pesto. Mmmmmm, I love polenta.  I have been meaning to make this breakfast for weeks now.

Fast forward to this past weekend when my daughter told me about a great restaurant called Mole that she had breakfast at in Victoria.  She described her breakfast and it sounded very similar to the one I saw on the What Should I Eat for Breakfast site.  Again I thought, I have to try making that.  So this morning here I am asking myself the same question as I prepare to drink my second cup of coffee.  What can I have for breakfast?

Alas, today is the day.  We just happen to have some leftover polenta from last night so I decided to see what I can create with what I find in my fridge.

The following is the result of my beautiful breakfast.

First of all, I love eating out of beautiful bowls and dishes.  Instead of my utilitarian white plate, I pulled out a beautiful little bowl that my daughter gave me for Christmas one year.  I think it is actually a tea or latte bowl but it is the perfect size and pattern for how I am feeling today.  The cheery pattern and festive colour connect with my state of mind on this frosty November morning.

Next, I rummage through the fridge and although I don’t have smoked salmon I do find Chorizo sausage and some garlic cloves and hot peppers, soaking in olive oil. Add to that organic eggs and a little bit of pesto I made in August and I am set.

I started by slicing off two pieces of chorizo and cutting 2 garlic cloves and a ring of hot red pepper up.  I put them in a hot cast iron frying pan and allowed the sausage to brown and ooze some of the fatty flavour onto the garlic and pepper.  Next, I removed that from the heat and placed the polenta in the little bowl. I heated it up in the microwave and then dropped a dollop of pesto on top.

Meanwhile I had put the water on for the poached egg and I now carefully slid one egg into the water. As the egg poached, I placed the chorizo, garlic and pepper atop the polenta and pesto.  As soon as the egg was poached to my liking I removed it from the water, drained it on paper towel and carefully placed it on top of everything, resting it against the side of the bowl.

Before I tasted it I set it on the counter in front of me admired it.  The presentation was so satisfying and it made me want to sit in the sunshine of the dining room and savour this creation while I thought about my daughters and how they both contributed to me sitting, savouring a wonderful breakfast.


Spicy Mama


Yesterday I got to the task of using the moose meat that my daughter gave me over the weekend.  They travelled over two days and then we visited for two days and so the meat did not stay frozen in the cooler they stored it in.  Thus, we arrived home with 2 packages of ground moose meat, a package of italian sausage, a pound of stew meat as well as pepperoni and jerky, all fully thawed.  I unwrapped  the meat, placed it on a platter and then waited for an idea to move me.

I was first inspired to make some sort of spicy meatballs because while in Victoria we had lunch at Pagliacci’s, one of my favourite haunts from university days.  I combined the italian flavours of the Meat John Doe dish from Pagliacci’s with a Portuguese touch inspired by a Port tasting evening and my favourite butcher’s Portuguese Chicken that I used to buy when I lived in Penticton. Last week I tried to replicate his Portuguese Chicken dish so I had a spice blend already made up so I thought I would throw some of that in as well.

Although I made this dish from moose meat it could just as easily be used with beef, pork, elk or any combination of these.  Try serving these over some creamy polenta or homemade pasta.  Yum.

The result was delicious.

Spicy Meatballs

1 lb moose, beef or a combo of beef/pork

½ cup corn flake crumbs

1 Tbsp. Portuguese spice blend

1 tsp. oregano

¼ tsp. chilli flakes

¼ cup sundried tomatoes, very finely chopped

1 egg



Combine meat and other  ingredients gently with hands until well incorporated.

Gently shape meat into approximately 1 inch diameter meatballs.  Vary size depending on personal preference.

Place shaped meatballs on baking sheet and place in a 400F oven on the broil setting.


Watch carefully and turn meatballs until all sizes are browned.

Remove from oven.



1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. herbs of Provence

½ tsp. salt

pepper to taste

2 cloves, crushed garlic

½ onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. pesto

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

splash of balsamic vinegar

Place olive oil and garlic in a large, deep frying pan and sauté until soft, add onions.

Sauté until onions are golden brown and soft. Add remaining ingredients and stir until onion mixture is well coated with herb mixture.

Slowly pour in a 28 ounce can of diced or crushed tomatoes and stir well.

Heat until mixture begins to bubble and then add ½ cup red wine (or Port) Stir well.


Carefully place browned meatballs into the sauce and until well coated.

Place a lid on the pan, turn heat down to a slow simmer and allow the meatballs to  cook in sauce for approximately ½ hour.


At this point the sauce and meatballs may be cooled and frozen or served over pasta, polenta or risotto.

Sprinkle freshly grated asiago cheese over sauce when serving.


Time to get busy

unnamedAn oak leaf hydrangea gives inspiration for all kinds of creations.

Today is a grey day and I am recuperating from a weekend with my daughters.  We met in Victoria and spent the weekend, walking, shopping, dining out and visiting, laughing and even crying.  I feel a little drained today but started the day with a gym workout at 6:30am  so I am ready to get back to a state of calm and creativity.

In the last few weeks and months I have been gathering and foraging along with cleaning up the yard and gardens.  I have a big blister on my hand from all the raking.  There are still a few mushrooms out in the forest but they are waning and although I am tempted by the challenge I have enough mushrooms for the winter so no need to take more than I need. I picked the apples two weeks ago, the hazelnuts have dried and I have a load of moose meat that my daughter and her boyfriend generously gave me when I saw them this past weekend.  I am also working on making Christmas gifts and items for the house.  Last week it was rag rugs and a knitted headband and now I am starting the second of a set of oven mitts.  I pulled out the November and December British Country LIving Magazines to provide me with comfort and inspiration so this week I shall try to inspire you with my epicurean creations and utilitarian crafts.


unnamed What do you do with old clothes and scrap material piling up in boxes?  Why weave rugs of course.

These are the one inch strips of torn material that will provide the weft.

unnamed The warp uses a linen/cotton blend.  Turned out to be too stretchy but I got creative and fixed that after I completed the weaving.

photoThe weft is strips of torn material.  Here I used an old blouse, ticking and the lining of an old coat.

unnamed This one is for the bathroom.

unnamedThe larger of the two made with funky vintage cotton, old curtains and ticking. Great for in front of the sink.

Parents and Wisdom


Wise Dad


Mom still modelling getting outdoors and walking and then posing for the picture.

Today I am heading to visit my parents and that has got me thinking about parents as transmitters of wisdom.   Parents are sometimes unaware of what they may be teaching their children just by  going about living their daily life  but observation is a very powerful tool and the old adage “do as I say, not as I do” is not really effective. Sometimes it gets to be very difficult for parents to accept that the habits and traits that irritate them most about their children in fact have been picked up by observing them.  In my case this is very true.  I am not proud that I modelled stubbornness and impatience with my children often and it is not fun to be treated impatiently by my young adult children.  That being said I can look at so many good things that my parents modelled and that have now been transmitted to me and my children.

My parents are from the ‘hard working’ generation.  They believed that if you ‘put your nose to the grindstone’ and ‘buckled down’ you could succeed. They modelled this for us by going from having basically nothing but each other and their children, to paying off two properties, providing us with a beautiful recreational property to enjoy every summer, providing for any education we wanted and then turning around and repeating that with their grandchildren.  They provided rides and support to my children as they grew up and participated in sports, music and 4-H.  My parents were always there for my kids.  If one of them had a game and Gram and Pa were not notified so they could be there cheering they were disappointed and hurt.

Another thing my parents modelled to me was resourcefulness.  My Mom, in particular could make a meal out of nothing. I remember when we were young and short on cash we would be hungry and asking Mom what was for dinner.  She would sometimes reply ‘pine floats.’ I remember the first time she told us that.  Floats, I thought?  We never get treats like that; I wonder what a pine float is?  To my dismay I learned that a pine float is a toothpick floating in water.  This was my Mom’s way of telling us to stop bugging her and let her get about making whatever it is she decided to make and that she would not be taking requests.  Mom used humour often and I’m sure it was one of her coping strategies to quell her uneasiness about not being able to provide for her children and to avoid alarming us that that might be the case.

As we got older my parents hard work paid off and they were able to breathe a little easier.  They no longer had to worry about enough money for groceries; they were comfortable but not rolling in excess.  Some of the things I watched my parents do to save money and provide were things such as, going into the forest and collecting cedar blocks and then spending hours splitting the blocks into shakes for a roof.  My brothers and my Dad spent so much time carefully splitting the blocks and storing the shakes in the garage for when they would need a new roof. Generosity was also modelled and those shakes sat in the garage for years and were finally given to my oldest brother when he needed a new roof.

My Mom was and still is such a hard worker.  She always worked full time.  She would get up early and often walk to and from work in order to fit in her exercise which we learned was very important.  On top of that my Mom made all our food from scratch.  I can remember on Tuesdays or Wednesdays,  she would mix up a big batch of bread dough and put it in a covered bowl on the counter to rise.  Off she would go to work and then at lunch she would hustle home, punch the dough down and form the loaves.  They would be covered and left to rise a second time.  After work she would hurry home and put the loaves in the oven to bake and that is how we had our bread for part of the week.  Saturdays were cleaning the house and bread day as well.  She would repeat the same steps only this time she would make an even bigger batch of dough so that she could make us cinnamon buns for a treat.  All the while she would be organizing us to get our allotted house and yard work done while she worked away at jobs she did not have time to get to during the week.  Nobody was allowed to do anything with friends or for leisure until their Saturday chores were done.  At the time I remember hating Saturday mornings but funnily enough I found myself repeating this pattern with my own children for a time.  Through participating with and observing my parents, I learned to look after my belongings no matter how inexpensive or costly they had been and there are many jobs that need to be done to maintain a home and provide good food for a family.

Another one of the things my parents did to provide for their family was garden.  They would both participate in the preparation, weeding and watering of the garden but my Mom was the head cook and bottle washer when it came to preserving and preparing the food.  I spent many hours at my Mom’s side following instructions to boil canning lids, wipe the tops of the jars, pour in the syrup and such. Mom got really resourceful for a few years and we spent the winters eating canned everything. We had our favourites like cherries, peaches, pears and jam and then the ones we hated such as carrots, peas and even chicken one year.  Mom discovered that it was  cheaper to raise your own birds and then process them yourself so her and my aunt raised all these chickens and then butchered, gutted, plucked and wrapped the birds themselves.  You can imagine after that episode that we were a little turned off chicken.  My job was plucker and I remember being envious that my brothers got to gut and see the eggs and innards of the birds.  I thought it looked so interesting.

So this brings me to today. My Mom often marvels at how much I like to make things with my hands.  I have raised chickens, grown vegetables, kept a beautiful flower garden, grown fruit trees, picked mushrooms, canned, made chocolate truffles, baked bread, spun wool, knit and woven.  She can’t understand where I got the know how and willingness to learn all these things.  Really?  I rest my case on proving that the most effective way to teach your children is through being a good role model.  I may have not been listening so well but I was definitely watching.



So Much to Learn

My family celebrating my graduation.

My family celebrating my graduation.

Today I was going to give a short, step by step on how to make pumpkin soup from the pumpkin that may be sitting on your doorstep as a prop for your Fall Entrance decor but after going through my email this morning it seems so insignificant.  Nevertheless I will share the process with you at some point because nothing is insignificant really, and I know there will be many who will find meaning and purpose in learning to use a real pumpkin,as opposed to composting it and buying a can of pumpkin to make soup but I must digress for today.

Behind me all the way

Behind me all the way

As you have heard me say before, I believe all things are connected and it was the awareness of some vast disconnections in this world that brought me to my studies in ecoliteracy.  I believed that my strongest passion was in the area of food and in particular our disconnection to our food.  I used that premise to create a project of research for myself in education  with food security and sustainability as the over arching theme. Along the way I came across the idea of ecoliteracy and was taken with a paradigm that could accommodate and promote my ideas about food as well as my love of nature and people.  So, although I acknowledge that using a real pumpkin is a valuable piece of connecting people to their food, I would like to leave that idea for today and share something else with you.

The reason I question my stories and ramblings today is because through my blog I am making connections with some other blogs that are truly amazing.  The authors of these blogs are writing significant, relevant stories about ecology in connection with literature, spirituality, trees and more.  When I was researching my Master’s project I did not unearth these authors but through the connections created through blogging and social media new and exciting people are coming into my blog atmosphere everyday.  These people are not your typical placard holding, tree hugging environmentalists. They are the next generation of ecoliterate writers and activists who are using art, literature, film, spirituality, legends and their stories to reveal the relevance and urgency of mankind’s need to recognize, that without connections, we will not survive.

Without going into much detail I would  like to share two sites that I have connected to that will provide you with some interesting readings and perspectives about ecoliteracy.  I am sure I will use these sights as references in the future and am looking forward to learning from these bloggers.

For those of you who are connected with a faith group you may really enjoy the perspective on Momentary Delight. This is a blog  written by Darren Beem, who introduces his blog as an attempt to “engage in a conversation about life, be real and ask questions (Darren Beem, Momentary Delight, WordPress) .One of the things I really enjoy reading about on this blog are the connections between nature and faith. I have not delved too deeply into this site yet but I can relate to many of  the topics Darren writes about.  Like Darren, I too am puzzled by faith-based followers’ disconnections sometimes.  For instance, it is alarming to find that many faith-based people very rarely mention the significance of a relationship with nature or an awareness of environmental issues.  In my experience, they more often disregard the messages of others when it comes to being socially responsible in terms of caring for the earth, honouring diversity in nature and humans or taking responsibility for their actions which destroy rather than nurture connections to the earth and other humans.  Darren poses some pressing questions and discusses his perspective on these issues  and more while  relating to biblical and holy texts at times.

The second blog I am really excited about is Ekostories.  This is a site of essays that connects  narratives to nature, culture and self.  I particularly enjoyed the essay discussing the major themes in the movie Cloud Atlas, as it is a movie that my partner purchased because I really wanted to see it but have yet taken the time to watch.  This movie received acclaim as well as fierce criticism and Isaac, the author of Eckostories, methodically extracts the major themes of the movie and discusses them in relation to the major focus of his blog; change, connection and the power of a story. This site is a plethora of information and material that could easily be incorporated into ecoliteracy education.  There is something for everyone, from analysis of children’s stories, art, film, personal experience and fiction all the way to video games, documentaries and even comics.  I have only scratched the surface of exploring this site and look forward to reading many more of Isaac’s posts to further my education in ecoliteracy.  I am also going to check out some of the many sites that he recommends.

That being said, time is slipping away on me and I am still engrossed in the task of writing my blog post.  I think this is part of the wonder of writing a blog.  I don’t just write my reflections and personal experience down and then walk away from the computer.  When I sit down to post I usually have a vague idea of what I will write about but often, as I try to  support and  find relevant information for what I am writing,  I stumble into so much more.  Initially, I thought my blog would be focussed on food and recipes but as I move along this journey I am discovering that I am just as passionate about ecoliteracy and education as I am about food.  Blogging is  providing me with  space to explore and learn about my interests and connections to a vast array of topics as well as  an opportunity to develop a practice of writing.

In her book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Twyla Tharpdedicates a chapter to the importance of observing your world and getting it down on paper.  I suppose for me this blog is developing that habit in me.  So today I am happy to have shared what I observed in the virtual world of blogsphere and pleased that although the connections I have found with these two authors and their work are not physical they are nonetheless meaningful and real in their ability to cause me to broaden my perspectives and connections in various realms of my life.