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Why I Open My Door At Thanksgiving

give thanks…because I’m truly grateful for the abundance of friends in my life.

My Thanksgiving celebrations are always potluck, jeans and t-shirt style. I put on the turkey, and everyone else brings something to share. That way no one has to do a lot of work and I’m not too stressed out to enjoy my friends.

Potluck is also a good conversations starter; Mmm! I love this! Who made it? What’s the recipe?….and the conversation goes on from there.

That’s what life is about.

I’ve been through hell and back as a child and as a young woman. Throughout all of it, I’ve had wonderful friends who are each, in their own way, unique and perfect.

Holiday times used to be sad for me, lonely even . I was often new in town, without family, and I felt very alone. As time went on, my new friendships deepened, and although I went through times of despair and loneliness, my friends would always show up in ways that helped me understand what was really important.

So at Thanksgiving, many people are caught up in family tug-of-wars about who goes where and who is hosting what. Or, maybe they have no family at all.

Autumn is the time of year when we start turning inward. The changing colour of the leaves wave us into shorter days and cooler nights. We cozy up inside, in big sweaters and under cozy blankets. We begin the journey into a season often spiritually described as one of mystery and hope.

I open my door at this time of year so that friends have a place to come and relax. My friends are my family, and I love them all.

I don’t have much, but I hope I offer a safe space to be yourself, laugh, and be nourished; both body and soul.

 

 

 

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How to Enjoy a Long Weekend

victoria-day-278x300As it’s Wednesday, and it’s been a hell of a long month this week, I have allowed myself not-so-present-moment indulgence of looking forward with eager anticipation to the weekend.

In Canada, the May long weekend is  fondly nicknamed ‘May Two-Four’, not for Queen Victoria whom the holiday was created to celebrate, but for the stereotypical Canadian love of beer in cases of…you got it – 24 bottles.

Regardless of what you may read in the above link, there is no real celebration of Queen Victoria. Nope. Nothing. Even the fireworks are background to the unofficial shenanigans that kick off summer in the Great White North.

For teenagers and twenty-somethings, the weekend involves as much time spent outdoors as possible, with as much alcohol consumed as possible, with as many friends as possible. Perhaps a smattering of I-shoulda-known-better-sexual-liaisons thrown in for good measure as well.

If you’re past the age where your body forgives you for spending three nights out in a damp, cold, and sometimes wet, tent, the weekend may take on a different tone.

Alas, it’s only Wednesday. We have a full two days of weekdays to get through before we strip off  our work-a-day girdle and bras and let our hair down.

In the past, when life has gotten me down, dragged me around by the hair, and kicked me in the soft spot, I’ve curled up and worried my days away.

Life has gotten me down lately. It’s dragged me around by the hair, and indeed kicked me in the soft spot a couple of good ones, but I’m choosing to balance the fear with delight, dread with grateful anticipation, and my desire to jump off a cliff with time spent with my favourite people (whether it’s actual time, emails, or telephone calls).  It’s a hard thing not to give in to fear.

However, it’s the kick-off to summer darlings, and although my life is far from easy, I don’t want to stop making memories, or let my spirit wither away inside of me like a neglected violet.

So, I will allow myself some at-home pampering, daydreaming, and the absolute luxury of fantasizing about some well deserved sensuality. Good food. Good wine. Good people…..

….inside where it’s warm, with a lovely view of the lake and the trees…..

My body doesn’t forgive me so easily for nights spent outside in a damp sleeping bag under the stars. On no-alarm-clock-days, it does forgive a tipple-too-much of bourbon, and late nights with deliciously satisfying men.

So, if you’re having a hard time, don’t forget that there is life worth living, people worth spending time with, and it’s ok to be kind to yourself.

You’re absolutely fabulous my sweet bundle of energy. Don’t ever forget it.  Go ahead, plan something wildly decadent for this long-weekend.

My friend Ms. Teri M gave me one of the best pieces of advice ever, “Go make your memories now.”

Because now is, indeed, all that we have.

 

 

 

 

 

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Savoury Sunday: Family Day In Ontario

"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly."  ~ M.F.K. Fisher~
“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”
~ M.F.K. Fisher~

Ok, so today is not Sunday.

Today is family day in the province of Ontario.  It’s more commonly known as thank-freaking-gawd-I-don’t-have-to-get-up-and-go-to-work-in-the-cold Day.

Whether you’re blood relatives are wonderful, or you choose to spend the day with your family of choice, or even in the peace of your own company, it’s a day off, and we all love that.

I offer you a yummy recipe sure to become a staple of  your winter culinary repertoire. Serve this with sparkling apple juice for the kiddies and try some Innis & Gunn Ale to sweeten things up.

 Winter Warm Up Pasticcio

(AKA:Veggie Indian Stew, but Pasticcio sounds so much more delightful)

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. oil

1 large sweet onion finely chopped

4 minced cloves of garlic

2 tbsp. minced ginger

2 tbsp. curry paste (mild-hot depending on your taste)

2 tsp garam masala

1.5 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground cloves, cayenne pepper

4 cups veggie broth

1 can (795 ml) crushed tomatoes – ( I use 1L of home preserved tomatoes)

1 pkg paneer (375ml) chopped

1 small can of chickpeas (drained)

1/2 cup basmati rice

1/4 cup chopped mint and coriander (use as garnish when serving)

METHOD

1) Heat oil in stew pot and add onion, garlic, ginger. Stir until onions are almost cooked then add curry paste, garam masala, cumin, cloves, cinnamon (adding cayenne is optional). Cook for another minute or two, combining the ingredients.

2)Stir veggie broth, tomatoes and chopped paneer and bring to a boil. Cover partially, and simmer for 15 minutes.

3) Add chickpeas, pepper and rice. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

4) Serve in bowls garnished with fresh coriander and mint.

Check out some John Mayer while you sip and cook….

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May “Two-Four” For Grown-Ups

English: Petunias Petunias with trumpet like f...
English: Petunias Petunias with trumpet like flowers that come in many different colours. These can be found in the conservatory in Thornes Park formal gardens. Ref. 969164 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up on the lake. We had beaches, freedom, youth and fearlessness on our side. The Victoria Day weekend was the first real celebration of Canadian summer, and it was aptly nicknamed May “Two-Four” for the numerous cases of beer that were consumed.

Everyone needed at least one ‘Two-Four’ for the weekend. In my tiny little Canadian town, the firemen held a pancake breakfast, and the Provincial park was full of the first wave of campers that would take over for the hot, summer months.

Fishermen came in droves, and the locals let it all hang out, with partying as their top  priority. It was a ritual celebration to welcome summer.

And then there were the adults. The gardeners. As a rule of thumb in my neck of the woods, you didn’t plant anything until the May ‘Two-Four’ weekend, as that was the magic date that made the risk of frost a mere pip-squeak on the list of natural threats.

Although life has changed and I’m a city girl in every way possible, I still like having my own small patch of dirt to call my own. I have a guerrilla-garden in the city, and this May ‘Two-Four’, I’m looking forward to getting some earth under my nails.

I hear the basil, mint, cilantro, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini calling to me. My petunias are waving at me from their little plastic shell packs to let them out.

Ah yes, the May ‘Two-Four’ weekend, the ceremonial ribbon-cutting for gardeners across the country is upon us.

Rest assured, I will also be indulging in the Canadian tradition of cold brewskies as well darlings. After all, when you’re this fabulous you must celebrate daily.

Happy first-long-weekend-of-the-summer my friends. Enjoy!