Summer of Revelations

I have learned a lot this summer. About myself and life in general. I’d say that I am sad that summer is coming to a close but that would be a lie. I am elated at the prospect of change. Change of the season to Autumn, change of daily routine, and change in temperature. I respond well to change, I think. It keeps me on my toes and makes everything  fresh!

 

 

I never thought of myself as a Being of Summer. Boy, how things have changed. The heat and humidity are not high on the fun-factor scale for me but I can deal with it which I never used to be able to. This summer I have developed the look I always sought when younger but could never accomplish; hair bleached by the sun, tanned limbs and absorbing vitamin D in the form of sunshine like nobody’s business! This really hit home when my Grannie said to me a week or so ago, “You are definitely an outdoor girl.”  I used to be the girl who hid from the sun to keep my  pale skin from freckling and turning the shade of a cooked lobster. Now I work in the sunshine daily and am trying to be smart about precautions while maintaining reality. I certainly don’t spend my days off laying in the sun!

 

 

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things…

I play with leaves.

I skip down the street

and run against the wind.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Yesterday, I realized something quite extraordinary – I am only twelve pounds away from the weight I was throughout high school! Mind you, after having two children, the joy of passing time, and working a very physically-demanding job my body shape has changed significantly (for the better, I think). So, I plan on saying goodbye to those clinging twelve pounds before the end of this work season and accomplishing a task I had never thought was all that important until now since I am so very close to accomplishing it. Weight in terms of the scale is not all that important to me but how my body responds to exertion through work and play is paramount. I have become strong and more defined muscle-wise over the past two work seasons and am liking how I feel! I intend to keep getting better in terms of health and strength. My lazy and uninspired days are behind me.

The other day something occurred to me when I was listening to an acquaintance talking. This individual had mentioned how difficult and time-consuming it was to be environmentally friendly. WHAT? This came as a shock to me as it was in that moment I suddenly realized that I basically run on autopilot when it comes to issues of environmental responsibility. Sure, I’m not perfect and I sometimes make poor decisions but overall I feel responsible for my actions and have integrated this thinking into the every day so it is the norm in my world. It seems so archaic and offensive not to care about the planet we all share and its inhabitants. I seriously don’t understand the unconcerned mindset.

 

 

One of the biggest revelations this summer has been that sometimes, there is no going back home. Recently I went back to my hometown to visit family and friends. I quickly realized that this may be their home but it is no longer mine; I am merely a visitor. At first this thought made me uncomfortable so I dug a bit deeper to understand the reason for my discomfort. I think part of the parcel is that my parents are aging (as we all are) and I have moved in a different direction as offspring are supposed to do. When I first moved away from home at the age of 19 to St. Catharines, I knew no one here. It was not only an adventure but it was sometimes lonely and scary until I made friends and connected with others. Luckily, this was only a matter of days that I wound up in the company of good people. This city has become my home over the years and has replaced my hometown as the place I identify with. I no longer consider myself a Peterborough girl  and this puts a bit of a lump in my throat. Honestly though, the Niagara Region has opened its arms wide with welcome and I am now enfolded in its embrace. I love living here!

 

 

This summer has also shown me more of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Niagara Region. We have such a diverse landscape that is teaming with incredible natural wonders. The Niagara Region is tucked between two of the Great Lakes – Lake Ontario (I live on the south shore) and Lake Erie. There are over 200 walking, hiking and cycling trails to be enjoyed and shared with incredible flora and fauna at every step. The Region has created many naturalized sites to encourage wildlife to do its thing and give a safe haven for many species. One of my favorite hikes/walks is up the escarpment by Niagara College. It has a feeling of such intense history to be with these particular trees and rocks and gives an all-encompassing feeling of being a part of Nature not just an outsider looking in. These photos were taken in the late Fall a couple years ago but the escarpment is beautiful in every season.

 

 

 

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

Ericsson 2012 343

 

 

 

Within a short walking distance from my home is the Welland Canal. Even though I’ve lived in St. Catharines half of my life I still find the Canal interesting. It is fascinating that these huge freighters and  sea-going ships make their way through a system of locks up the Niagara Escarpment. For a brief description of the Welland Canal see this link. When my kids were itty-bitty, they used to love to go sit at the locks with me and watch as the ships went through. They were thrilled to bits when the workers on the massive ships would wave to them. Recently I have visited the Canal again a few times and realized that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are or where you come from the Welland Canal is an incredible feat of engineering.

 

 

I’m sure I need not dwell on the prominence of wineries in this region but seriously, they are worth a visit and the trip along the wine route. Wineries play a huge supporting role in the area’s mindset and activities. Good food and great wine are the specialties of an area filled with orchards, farms and vineyards. It’s easy to eat well here.

 

 

Another huge revelation for me and I think the most important of all – I need to live the life I envision for myself. We all have dreams, desires and are called deep from within our Soul to certain places, people and actions. Respecting someone else’s dream is essential to living our own.

 

 

Learning to love the Life we have and moving forward instead of stagnating or going backward is on my mind. I see movement in my future…I strive for joy each and every day through learning new Truths…to treat myself and others with kindness…to appreciate all that is on offer.

 

 

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open

where there were only walls.”

– Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

In the Vineyard

Vineyard in Niagara

Vineyard in Niagara

The wineries nestled in the Niagara Region are jewels on the crown of this glorious landscape.

This particular winery is one of my favorites due to its incredible wines and stunning views. It’s interesting to stand in the vineyard and just be still. To feel the life force that abounds.

The hills are definitely alive!

In the distance is the Niagara Escarpment which is a ridge that was formed by glaciers. This area of Ontario is blessed with a distinct microclimate due to the escarpment that supports the production of incredible wines.

Have you had wine from the Niagara Region yet? Hunt some down if you can, it will be worth your time.

May I suggest my favorite – Old Vines Foch from Malivoire – if you like a luscious  bold red as much as I do.

One of the many reasons this winery in particular is a favorite is in part due to their mission statement on sustainability. They definitely seem to uphold this statement.

“Operation with minimal environmental impact is a foundation block of Malivoire Wine’s corporate mission. A series of operational practices has been adopted to conform to this mandate.” – Malivoire website.

For more info on the sustainable practices of Malivoire, check out their website.

Standing among the vines

Standing among the vines

 

 

 

I am always awestruck by the beauty of grapes on the vines. Luscious little fruits of the gods they are.

On the Vines

On the Vines

 

 

 

There is something so timeless about vineyards. No matter where on this beautiful planet you are, if there are vineyards there is deep-seated history within the plants. A knowledge that is passed from generation to generation of humans but is simply imprinted within the plant’s growth cycles. It is a double whammy for me, Nature doing it’s thing and our ability to capture this essence.

“It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us.” – John Ruskin

 

Visiting History in Niagara

Yesterday, my daughter and I took a few hours and zipped over to one of our local gems…Niagara-on-the-Lake. This quaint little town is a bustling zone of tourists this time of year which adds a bit more fun to the whole adventure. There were a few large groups of tourists there yesterday that seemed to want to huddle in the middle of the sidewalks, talking excitedly to each other or listening as their tour guide and interpreter gave them the historical low-down on the area. All the milling people gave me the opportunity to stop wherever I wanted, look like a tourist myself, and take a few pictures. The Niagara area is steeped in rich history. There is far too much to cover in one post but I will touch on the history of the region every so often so make sure you follow me so as to not miss a thing.

 

 

Niagara-on-the-Lake has had a few different names in its past, the first of them being Butlersburg after Colonel John Butler. Col. John Butler was a fascinating man who was both worshipped and despised. He and his son were known as “the devils of Niagara” by  Americans for generations. Butlersburg was later changed to Newark in 1781 when it became  a British military site and safe zone for Loyalists fleeing from the United Stated during the aftermath of the American Revolution. Once again changing its name, the town became known as Niagara. Niagara became the first capital of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and the site of the first provincial parliament in 1792. During the War of 1812 the parliament was moved to York which is now known as Toronto.  During the War of 1812, Niagara was a central location. The town of Niagara was captured by American forces and burned to the ground.  The citizens of Niagara braved the storm and rebuilt the town. The main buildings were rebuilt out of the firing range of the cannons across the Niagara River at Fort Niagara. Yet another name change occurred in the 1880’s to its present name of Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you are interested in British-Canadian-United States history, then Niagara-on-the-Lake should definitely be on your list of places to visit.

 

 

 

In honour of Colonel John Butler, this tablet can be found in St. Mark’s Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“Fear God
Honour the King
In Memory of Colonel John Butler
A sincere Christian as well as a brave soldier he was one of the founders and the first patron of this parish.”

Ontario Historical Plaque
Lieutenant-Colonel John Butler 1725-1796
By the end of the American Revolution John Butler’s loyalist corps, supported by British regulars and native allies, had effectively contributed to the establishment of British control in the Great Lakes region. After the disbanding of Butler’s Rangers in 1784, many of the men, including Butler himself, settled in the Niagara peninsula.

The town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is a fusion of historical references and the bounty of the wine region that surrounds it. The Shaw Festival plays a pivotal role in the fabric of the community as well. There are grand homes of by-gone times that are lovingly restored and maintained as well as original inns and pubs known to be frequented by ghostly visitors. One of my favorites is the Prince of Wales Hotel that sits on one of the main corners of the Old Town. It’s too bad that yesterday was a rainy, overcast day and I only had my Blackberry to capture a few sights.

Prince of Wales Hotel, NOTL

Prince of Wales Hotel, NOTL

 

 

 

 

The Prince of Wales Hotel and the horse-drawn carriages are a beautiful representation of the history of the Town. Just up the street the wine industry makes itself known with the Shaw Café & Wine Bar. I must say, it always seems to be busy. I love the way the “new” presents itself in such a way as to blend in to the “old” to keep the image of the town historically quaint.

 

 

Shaw Cafe & Wine Bar

Shaw Cafe & Wine Bar

 

 

The rich history of the Niagara Region leaves me breathless sometimes. The realization that the area I have the luxury of living in is one of political and personal passion  for freedom as well as a battleground of war is almost surreal. Today the Niagara Region is known for our incredible wine and food industries as well as the gorgeous natural settings that surrounds us.

 

 

One of my favourite aspects of Niagara-on-the-Lake in the summertime is the copious amounts of flowers that the town is adorned with. Hanging baskets, gardens along the sidewalks, window boxes on many of the storefronts and a median down the centre of the streets that are filled to over-flowing with colourful blossoms. It is like candy for the eyes!

 

 

 

Sidewalk flower garden

Sidewalk flower garden

 

 

 

One of the flowerbeds contained this showy number – Brugmansia suaveolens. My heart skipped a beat when I spotted this specimen. I know, I know…I’m a plant nerd. It stunned me how many people walked by without noticing it until I stopped to take a photo. After taking my time inspecting this plant I turned to notice how many others were behind me admiring the plant’s beauty. Sometimes we are all so oblivious to the world around us that until we take note of someone else’s actions we miss the beauty around us. This majestic plant was putting on a show while no one was watching, simply for itself.

 

 

 

 

Brugmansia suaveolens

Brugmansia suaveolens

 

 

 

 

Brugmansia suaveolens

Brugmansia suaveolens

 

 

 

After a wonderful walk in the drizzly rain, scoping out the stupendous specimens along the way and the plethora of little shops we headed home while munching on one of my purchases…a bag of British-import Guinness potato chips.

 

 

On this Canada Day long weekend, I think of the history of not just the area I live but of the Nation I call “home” and all that came before.

 

 

 

 

 

“The upward course of a nation’s history is due in the long run to the soundness of heart of its average men and women.” – Queen Elizabeth II 

 

 

 

MidSummer’s Eve

This past Sunday, three of my fabulous co-workers and I had the opportunity to volunteer for a garden party event  for the Niagara Symphony Orchestra. What a day we had! It has been a long time since I have both volunteered and been immersed in the classical music scene. I loved the uniqueness of everyone we met throughout the evening. So much for the cliché of orchestra audiences being stuffy. These music lovers were wild with passion for the arts! I was intrigued by the colourful outfits, hats and the beautiful smiles that everyone brought with them. I felt very honored to volunteer at an event that nurtures the love of music.

I have included a brief video clip by CogecoTV (a local channel). This gives some background about the event and the Niagara Symphony Orchestra (NSO). * Just a side note – at 3:38 in the clip I am walking across the background. I look like I was on a mission! Eyes peeled for the navy blue long dress and blonde hair darting across the background headed to the back right. Woo hoo! I’m on TV!

Midsummer’s Eve

The lovely ladies I work with and myself had the task of putting together arrangements of peonies for the tables as well as looking after raffle ticket sales and being spotters during the auction. Each of these jobs made for a fun day. The peonies were gorgeous large blossoms that were oh so fragrant.

Midsummer's Eve Peonies

Midsummer’s Eve Peonies

Appetizers and dinner were prepared by chef Oscar Turchi of Savoia in St. Catharines, ON.  My mouth still waters thinking about how amazing everything was. OK, Ronni and I were less than impressed by the goat’s cheese appetizers, I must be honest. We thought we’d break out and try to be adventurous. I actually had a hard time swallowing it without gagging. It wasn’t the appetizer itself but the fact that I know I don’t like goat cheese but thought I’d try it again anyway. I know now that sometimes I don’t have to try, try again until I like something. How Chef Oscar and his staff managed to pump out the amount of food they did in such a short time while working from a tent is beyond me. Kudos to the chef and his team! All of the food and beverages were top-notch. Here is the menu featuring the companies who provided each item which was presented at our place setting:

Midsummer's Eve Menu

Midsummer’s Eve Menu

The evening wrapped up with a performance by the NSO which was beautifully executed. The sound under the tents made for a unique listening experience. Close to the end of the performance people were starting to get a bit fidgety since the mosquitos started to come out for dinner in full force. Slap! – scratchy-scratchy. The next morning I noticed that I certainly got my fair share of bites. The only drawback to the day , other than the mosquitos, was the excruciating heat and humidity. I was flushed from the heat and feeling as though I was melting. I know I wasn’t alone by the amount of programmes that were fanning the attendees and the comments by my friends. I was relieved to lay down in air-conditioned splendour at the end of the evening, that’s for sure!

The Midsummer’s Eve event was made a success by many people but there were a few that worked tirelessly to make this event truly memorable for all.

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

Let’s Eat Cake

In conclusion to my post The Countdown Is On ,  I have decided to invite you to share a piece of birthday cake with me and a few friends. To enjoy my 40th birthday even more – and drag it on even longer – I decided to throw myself a party. Why not, right? The premise of the party was to celebrate friendship. To have an evening to enjoy each others’ company, have some laughs and savour a few glasses of wine. Oh, and eat birthday cake of course!  Only a couple of photos were selected due to a fun wine tasting where all bottles were consumed plus a few extra. I’m sure you catch my drift. Let’s eat cake!

 

 

 

birthday girl cutting the cake

birthday girl cutting the cake

 

 

 

 

Normally birthday cake does not thrill me. Unless it is a unique flavour or light and airy. I decided against heavy chocolate or something sickeningly sweet and decided to make my own cake. In my 40 years on earth I have found that the best way to get what I want is to do it myself. Don’t you agree? So, I searched high and low (ok, I scoured through tonnes of cake recipes on pinterest) for just the right one. Here is the recipe I decided upon if you are interested – there were a few of you that have asked for the recipe after eating your slice – Orange Layer Cake. The homemade orange curd (filling) was delicious. This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I didn’t use the frosting recipe included but opted for a light cream cheese icing instead. My daughter was given creative license to add embellishment as she saw fit and put hot pink candy-covered chocolates and a fresh cherry on top for good measure.

 

 

 

Cake anyone?

Cake anyone?

Would you care for a slice?

This year, something changed inside of me. I realized that a birthday is no longer just about the person that was born on that particular day but also about those that they choose to share their days with. Those individuals that make us happy and that it feels good to be around. In the name of friendship, thank you.

`The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.` – Oprah Winfrey

Love with a side order of passion, please.

“Tell the truth. Sing with passion. Work with laughter. Love with heart. ‘Cause that’s all that matters in the end.” – Kris Kristofferson

I must be honest. I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Never have been. It seems materialistic and fake to me. Perhaps it is all the marketing hype and over-inflated prices for one day, one day, that really gets my pulse racing (and not in a good way). Why do we buy into such nonsense? I am not a cynic, seriously. I enjoy a sappy movie as much as the next girl. I believe in love at first sight and that love can conquer all.  The whole idea of having to demonstrate love for another simply because marketers have declared it the day of love, c’mon. I would like to think our hearts are smarter than that.

I declare that we feel and show love each and every day! That we shower those close to our hearts with kindness and acts of admiration whenever and wherever the mood strikes us!

Romance is defined as:  to try to influence or curry favor  especially by lavishing personal attention, gifts, or flattery.  Should we not all be a bunch of romantic lunatics every day? I do believe so. I would find it odd if, in a respectful long-term relationship, my significant other only slathered me with kindness one day of the year. Do we not all deserve to be romanced on a regular basis? I don’t mean annoyingly so but sweetly, gently showing affection with the little details of life. Perhaps a lengthy kiss while running out the door for work in the morning or presenting your loved one with a glass of wine when you can tell from their body language that their day has been taxing. Thoughtful gestures speak louder than any words ever could.

This morning, like many other mornings, two Mourning Doves were snuggled together outside my office window. I am not an ornitholgist but I suspect that these two doves have a fondness for being together. The unspoken language between them would seem as though they find comfort in each other. These two doves always make my heart smile when they waddle around on the fence and cuddle close.  Nature provides us with the most extraordinary displays of caring if we are interested in seeing them.

At the root of being able to give love to others is the need to be able to love ourself. Not in a conceited, immature manner but with a peaceful heart that is accepting of ourself for who we are.  To be able to find an internal peace. When we can be comfortable in our own Soul those around us are easier to love. The world becomes more joyous and colourful.

I am not an advocate for Valentine’s Day,  but for Love. The sentiment behind the occasion is one I wholly support. Let’s just not confine it to one measly day!

Get out there and share some love!

“I find that when we really love and accept and approve of ourselves exactly as we are, then everything in life works.”  – Louise L. Hay




Update: February 10, 2015

At the time this post was originally written, I was in the throes of a very emotionally draining marriage that has since ended. I have recently found much happiness in a relationship with the man of my dreams. He treats me with great love and respect as I hope he feels I do for him. Every day together is like the most meaningful day ever to be experienced! My stance regarding Valentine’s Day have softened slightly. I have no qualms about shouting from the rooftop how much love I have for my breath-taking and incredible man…even on Valentine’s Day.

Peruse Before You Partake

I have always been interested in food. Not just what I ingest, but what others choose to consume as well. I admit that I am a discreet food snob and I am okay with this characteristic. It’s not so much that I would judge another on their choice of food but will judge the food itself against my own standard of quality. For instance, I will always choose a creamy smooth piece of spiced gouda for instance over a processed cheese slice. To me this is common sense. So maybe I’m not necessarily a food snob as I am a seeker of quality. That sounds much better.

 

 

All of this interest in food consumption has led me down many different eating paths over my lifetime . I am presently a lacto-ovo vegetarian and have been most of my life. I am presently not consuming wheat or sugar as well. I go through phases where I cut out eggs and dairy and abide by a strict vegan diet. I have even gone for a period of time as a raw food vegan and felt fantastic. I was breastfeeding my second child ( my last) during this time and she flourished and is still incredibly healthy. It just wasn’t the right diet choice for my lifestyle after a while. I find, and I’m not sure if this is just me, but living in the climate I am in I felt cold constantly in the winter months so I added some cooked food back in to stoke my internal fire up again. Twelve and a half years later I have had a huge epiphany in terms of eating habits. It is not so much about “belonging” to any one eating regime as it is about providing ourselves with food that our body will be thanking us for.  I always knew this, I just seemed to need to identify with a particular lifestyle to feel like I was doing the right thing. Not so much anymore. As you are aware, I have ventured down the road to whole food eating. This, to me, is where it’s at. There is no need to call this lifestyle choice anything but common sense eating. No need to belong to a diet plan title. This is about choosing foods that are not processed and are from the original source be it a fruit, vegetable, oil, or animal product. The further our food gets from the source the more unrecognizable it becomes to our body.

 

 

There are many within the whole foods methodology that subscribe to the Paleo diet. I am going to give my opinion now so please don’t get your knickers in a twist. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on this. Like I said, this is my opinion. I don’t profess to be perfect or have all the answers. I only do the things that make sense to me and that feel right. I am a live by my intuition and heart type of person. Here goes…I like the idea of so many people trying to make positive change for their health. I am speaking at present of one of the newest crazes called the Paleo diet. The concept of eating what our systems were originally fed and powered on is very noble. There is one key point missing – is this really how Paleolithic humans ate? Probably not.

 

 

Common sense would suggest that eating large quantities of meat is probably not the best thing we could be doing for our bodies. Most meat is acid-forming for starters. On the topic of our Paleo forefathers and mothers diet, I am convinced that there was a heck of a lot more starchy vegetation/fruit  consumption than the Paleo ideology subscribes to. As I read blogs and articles as well as “studies” regarding Paleo eating it is very evident to me that this diet is an excuse for many folk to eat tons of meat – especially bacon.  How does this coincide with our Paleo relatives? Bacon is a form of food preservation/processing that was unknown to humans of old. This is just an example of ideas twisted to suit our desires. If my own vegetarian diet was controlled by my favorites, I would quickly become off balance consuming only aloo gobi and red wine!

 

 

I read a blog post last week regarding Paleo eating that actually made me sad. The author put the Paleo diet on a pedestal while slamming other lifestyle choices. She went on to flog vegetarianism as unhealthy and extremist. Hmmm….how very unfortunate. There are great ideas at the base of almost all eating styles however, things can quickly veer off course. The Paleo diet is a great idea at its core but has been reworked and altered to compensate for our desires.  However, to get right down to the nitty-gritty of eating perfectly Paleo the participant would need to investigate more than just a book written by one person about their idea of the perfect eating regime. In my opinion, the participant would need to first dig into their own personal ancestral past to find out where their origins started. This would give a great place to start whittling down the food choices. If they originated from an ancestral background that resided by the ocean, their diet would be composed mainly of fish and probably sea vegetables. If that aforementioned individual originated from a forested area they probably would have consumed predominantly berries, insects and game such as deer or small birds.  I venture to suggest that probably a majority of our ancestors within temperate climes ate with the focus largely on plant matter and enjoyed meat sporadically, not the other way around. This makes sense to me. Just sayin’.

 

 

Chasing down the animal content of the diet would make a huge difference as well. There is great physical exertion in hunting Paleo-style unlike walking into the grocers and picking up a nicely packaged portion of meat. Then there is the carbon footprint issue. Eating a large quantity of meat in the diet creates unnecessary waste of resources and a higher carbon footprint. If a family of four skips steak one day a week, it will have  the same impact as taking your car off the road for three months, supposedly. Not sure how accurate this fact is but it is definitely food for thought.

 

 

Do you know what your Carbon Footprint is?

Alternate Carbon Footprint calculator.

 

 

I am not simply spouting off about the Paleo diet and I am not suggesting vegetarianism is perfect. I am using this as an example due to the blogger that made me question why people make the  food choices they do.  This goes for all methods of eating as far as I’m concerned. No diet is 100% perfect. Suggesting such is foolish. When a new diet calls itself “the perfect diet” my alarm bells start ringing. The human body is a complex “machine” that relies on us to fuel it appropriately. Each of us has different needs. It can only accommodate so much before we start to see and feel inadequacies. I think if we all just stopped listening to the hype and started listening (really listening) to our bodies we could enjoy a better state of health.

 

 

 

 

” The very fact that we are having a national conversation about what we should eat, that we are struggling with the question about what the best diet is, is symptomatic of how far we have strayed from the natural conditions that gave rise to our species, from the simple act of eating real, whole, fresh food.”  – Mark Hyman

Recycled Thoughts

Tomorrow is garbage day. Whoop-dee-doo, you say. Well, it is something to be conscious of, I think.  As I was sorting through the recycling – oh joy – and putting each item in its allotted bin I realized how much stuff we actually use. Or in this case, not use. There must be a better way than tossing everything into recycle bins. You can only reuse so much packaging without looking like the neighbourhood freakazoid with strange bird feeders hanging from every branch and nasty-looking garden sculptures. I refuse to go there so please don’t suggest that I “make stuff” with my soy milk cartons and wine bottles. OK, the wine bottles go to the Beer Store to be recycled  along with beer bottles. We receive  a deposit rebate so I won’t be making a garden wall out of wine bottles any time soon. I wouldn’t want my friends to think I drank that wine single-handedly. Come to think of it, my friends probably helped me drink most of it!

 

 

I started doing a bit of research as to what happens to our recycling once it is taken from the curbside. It is rather difficult to find specifics for the region I live in. Yes, we seem to have a great recycling program. Almost everything can be recycled and/or composted. Or can it? This is my question. Are the items we put into our recycle and city green waste bins really being recycled? I need to look into this further for my own information. I am a firm believer in recycling, reusing, and most of all reducing. I would almost always pay more or somewhat inconvenience myself in the name of being earth-friendly. I am OK with this. I prefer to carry bulky reusable water bottles with me than buy a plastic bottle of water. My kids lunch bags are jam-packed with containers instead of plastic baggies. I purchase household laundry and cleaning products that are super concentrated to avoid excess packaging (see the Live Love Be Green website at the right side of this blog  for more details). I don’t even get a newspaper to cut down on paper use. Mind you, the newspaper is pure crap. I find spelling errors in almost every article and it is written at a very low skill level which I find aggravating. I still have too much recycling to put to the curb each week. Sigh.

 

 

 

I need to find a way to reduce the amount of recycling that finds its way to my blue and grey bins. That is the situation I am dealing with here.  I came across a statistic that states on average, 16% of the purchase price of a product is in its packaging which ultimately just ends up being tossed in the garbage or recycle bin. Think of all the money we could be saving. I shall be more diligent and mindful of packaging before I purchase an item rather than after as I am stuffing it into my bin, cursing under my breath about too much wasted paper/plastic. The weird thing is, when I look around my kitchen I see a lot of non-packaged items. We eat a LOT of fresh fruits and veggies that are in the packaging that Mother Nature provided. No pre-cut lameness here. It takes about 30 seconds to cut an apple into slices. Why on earth would I buy apples pre-sliced and needing a preservative to keep them appearing “fresh”. Stupidity. Sorry if this offends you but, seriously? I think I went off topic…again. Sounds like my conversations with my friends over coffee or one of those bottles of wine that won’t be made into a garden sculpture.  I purchase large bags of dried beans and lentils as well as ginormous bags of rice to avoid a bunch of little wasted bags and to get a better per unit price.  It baffles me how we seem to accumulate so much in the way of packaging.

 

 

As far as garbage that goes out to the curb, our household generally puts out one small grocery bag in our garbage pail each week. I think at Christmas we were extravagant and put out four small grocery bags one week. I was wracked with guilt. Briefly. Then I compared that with the amount we used to put in the garbage pail even 5 years ago and am amazed at the progress we have made. For the most part without any inconvenience.  I don’t think my family even realizes that they are making any sort of added effort to reduce their garbage since I have implemented an easy to use system that requires minimal thinking. Oh, I am so cunning.

 

 

How do you keep your packaging and recycling amounts to a minimum?

 

 

 

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcoming Winter

Finally! We have snow…and lots of it! I think we have had more snow in the last four days than we did all last winter.

 

 

snowy porch light

snowy porch light

 

I love the look of snow. The crisp whiteness that makes everything look clean and pure. The way animal tracks show up so perfectly. Most of all I love the look of snow heavy on tree branches. The crisp white against the greens and browns of the trees. I could reflect on this for hours. The temperature is cold but wonderfully fresh and the air feels cleaner for some reason. There is a certain scent to snow that is so incredible. You may think I sound a bit nutty, but seriously, breathe deep the next time the snow falls (if you are in an area that receives snow) and smell for yourself. Lovely…ahhhh…

 

I have to admit though that I am not a winter sport kind of gal. I don’t like having cold fingers, toes or nose for any length of time. The thought of skiing gracefully downhill is appealing, than I remember that I am a total klutz. I think I am better suited to sitting by the fire in the chalet. I love the thrill of tobogganing, though. Bumping and flying down a hill at top speed totally out of control! I always find myself screaming and laughing until I cry. I instantly turn into a kid again. Not much skill needed. Just strong legs and stamina to get myself back up the hill repeatedly. Note to Self: get my butt out to the sledding hill. I usually end up as a giant snowball at least once, but it is so worth it. This would make a great Girls’ Night activity. I must put the word out. Sledding, then wine and snacks…who’s in?

 

It has been snowing beautiful, fluffy snowflakes all day. I went out into my backyard to look at the trees and quickly found my jeans soaking wet and heavy. I stayed out for only a few minutes to fill my lungs with the wonderfully crisp air and listen to the stillness that winter always brings.

 

snow pressed up against the door

snow pressed up against the door

 

 

 

 

snow accumulated on the outdoor chandelier

snow accumulated on the outdoor chandelier

snow-covered tree

snow-covered tree

” Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She
withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and
stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them
for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” ~Hugh Macmillan,
“Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871

 

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am going to veer off my Festive Mode momentarily and jot down a few of my favorite things. It seems appropriate to this time of year.

A Few of My Favorite Things:

wonderful hiking terrain - escarpment

wonderful hiking terrain – escarpment

– without a doubt, at the top of my list are my children. That goes without saying, though.

– unsolicited hugs from my children. There is nothing like the hug of your own child that is infused with love, trust, and adoration to make you realize how much you impact another Being.

– laughing a good, deep laugh right from the belly. Laughter is so rejuvenating.

– standing with my face to the gentle breeze, closing my eyes and just feeling the sensation of the wind on my face and in my hair.

– a cold, refreshing beer on a hot summer day. Or a sumptuous glass of red wine while sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter’s night.

– the smell of fresh-cut grass.

– aloo gobi. The thought makes my mouth water….mmm…

– great tunes cranked up loud!

– the plant world. Truly fascinating.

– Brussels sprouts

– water. Fresh, clean water

– baking

– Get Clean products. The ONLY cleaners I allow to enter my home because they are safe and work like nobody’s business (check them out via the link to Live Love Be Green at the right side of this blog).

– my phenomenal family and friends. I love that we have a mutual respect for each other’s individuality. There is no need for us all to be clones of each other!

– Glorious coffee. You make my morning.

– muscles. No explanation necessary. (I felt it necessary to add this)

– the different terrain in the area I reside. Rocky escarpment, lakes, forests, vineyards and orchards, to bustling city. I love the contrast and the unique beauty of each.

– the Christmas and holiday season

Of course, there are many other things I could add to my list because this world offers so much bounty. However, I must stop somewhere! These are just a few of the things that make each and every day a bit brighter in my world. No, I don’t consume aloo gobi every day but honestly, I could.  I reserve the cold beer to occasional consumption which allows me to enjoy it even more when I do have it. I try to amalgamate most of these things into my every day.

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“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”  – Charles  Spurgeon