If you’ve done anything outdoors in Canada, especially Western Canada in the 1980s and later…you know about MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop or just “meck”).
They have an amazing line of outdoor clothes and gear, and have always prided themselves on knowledgable staff who actually use their stuff, don’t work on commission and provide helpful advice to help make the best decision whether it’s a hiking boot, a jacket or pair of socks.
I don’t buy much online, sight unseen, but MEC is the exception. And their marketing works on me. I am proof positive that emails about clearance items are very likely to turn into sales.
But this past weekend, I went to a new store in the next city. It’s a dangerous trip for me. I actually told myself ahead of time “you don’t need anything.”
I just bought things I needed…
While I was there, I was impressed again by their rock solid guarantee. While trying on boots, the staffer told us that if the hiking boots didn’t work out, they could be returned…even if they were covered in mud from testing driving them on the trail. Wow. Kinda made me want to buy a few pairs.
But I showed great restraint and just bought their Nola rain coat (for the as-yet-unplanned trip to Shetland), a great lightweight travel towel and some layers for the cold weather on its way.
MEC is a great Canadian success story that will continue to get my support.
Apparently, I love all things lavender. Judging by all the great stuff I bought at a recent tour to this gorgeous local farm – Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery. It didn’t even all fit in the photo – lavender infused Epson salts, lavender infused maple syrup, lavender soy candle…and then the lavender soap, dessert wine, salt mix and the other wine.
Sigh. I feel more relaxed and refreshed just looking at all this Friday favourite stuff.
I love sharing food. And I am also trying to do my bit to reduce the ridiculous levels of food that gets wasted. Sometimes it’s as simple as making enough food to pass around to a few others. I read somewhere recently that 40% of food waste happens at home. That’s a staggering number, but I can believe it.
A friend of mine shared some of her roast chicken and vegetables with me recently. Another friend brought over lentil soup. The chicken and veggies merged with the lentil soup for a meal for me, and there’s enough to make mini chicken pot pies for another friend.
Here’s how I made the pot pies:
Make a simple cream sauce with 2 Tbsp flour and 1 cup milk – simmered gently til thickened. I added chopped cooked chicken, frozen veggies, a little seasoning (salt, pepper, herbs de provence), white wine, sherry and a little parmesan. Spoon the mixture into little tart shells and top with mashed potatoes.
My town held its annual studio tour over the weekend. I pace myself on how often I go because, well, I just can’t help myself. I love local art. I think there’s a recurring theme for me about supporting the community you live in whether it’s food, clothes, books or shoes.
I wanted to buy a lot more than the 3 (smallish) pieces I bought this weekend. I’m at the point where I need another addition for more wall space…or start lending out my art to make room for new pieces. I even had a fleeting thought about…wouldn’t it be a great job to buy big art for big public spaces…I would be in heaven.
As I talked to the artists about their technique and what inspired them, I thought about how much courage it must take to put yourself out there — carefully placing your pieces around your studio space, and watching an endless stream of people wander through gazing up and down…or right past…your heart and soul.
So it made me endlessly happy to pick up these three pieces to add to my collection…grateful to the artists who adorn my walls and make me smile.
Read more about Tiffany Horrocks who painted the barn, and Helen Hoy who created the other two new additions to my collection.
On our recent visit to Guelph, ON for Canadian Thanksgiving, we walked by this art-on-the-street installment, called Street Projects. Part of the Open Field Collective, their mandate is to bring contemporary art into outdoor spaces where art and community can interact. What a great idea! It’s our friday favourite.
We just celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with our aunts, uncles and cousins on our father’s side of the family. Our cousin Pat showed up with some of Grandma’s china that she found in her dad’s cabinet. She knew he wouldn’t use the hand-painted tea cups or dessert plates—hand-painted by our grandmother— so she got creative with some of his dishes. I neglected to ask where the idea came from, but she showed up with several of the tea cups turned into pin cushions!
Pat had also glued two different sized dessert plates together with a small glass to separate them, creating a serving plate. She’s so clever!
I started looking in my cabinet at the pieces I have from Grandma and figured I’d brag a little about her talent and post more pictures of her hand painted china.
Apparently, in 1924, painting porcelain was something young women did…she bought the unpainted porcelain from Woolworth’s and did very elaborate decorations on the dishes. These dishes are 93 years old! Way to go Grandma and thanks Pat for the creative re-purposing.
Simple and elegant. Apples neatly tucked into each other on a bed of shortbread.
Here’s the recipe:
- 3/4 cup softened butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
Blend well and add:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
Press the dough into a springform pan.
Peel 4 apples and slice then thinly. Arrange them on the dough.
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and slivered almonds.
Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes.
A couple weeks after HAR had discovered Quebec City on foot – and had a selfie with Bill and Hilary — I arrived for a two-day conference on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, at the battle site of the Plains of Abraham.
The first day took us across the bridge, just north of the city, to the amazing microclimate world of Ile d’Orleans. The mostly agricultural island sits in the middle of the St. Lawrence River and captures a unique growing environment. Salt water flows in this fresh water river until about Quebec City.
It reminded me of other islands we love, that create a world within a world – Prince Edward Island and Nevis.
I would love to go back as soon as I finish the amazing samples I brought back — the ultimate artisanal Le Paillasson cheese from Les fromages de l’isle d’Orleans that was gently grilled and served warm, and a fortified black currant wine from Cassis Monna & Filles that tastes like port.
Thank you to the farmers of Ile d’Orleans – keep creating!