Monday, October 31, 2016

Daytime Trick-or-Treating in Quebec

Last year Halloween was on a Saturday. It also happened to be the day we were leaving Mt. Tremblant after a short stay there.

Before leaving the resort, we noticed families with costumed children arriving to "trick or treat" in the pedestrian village during the daylight hours.

Later, passing through St. Jovite, a nearby town, we noticed children, dressed in costumes, going from store to store.

We couldn't help but wonder, as we wandered through the town: Was daytime trick-or-treating a normal thing?... Or only since Halloween was on a Saturday?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Asking Forgiveness...

For many years I lived in Israel, where I celebrated Jewish holidays, as well as Christian ones.

Recently a Jewish friend in Ottawa invited Terry and me to the evening meal breaking the fast of "Yom Kippur" - the Jewish fast for atonement, or forgiveness of sins... I'm not sure I ever participated in this traditional meal before, even in Israel.

The supper began with several prayers. Then one of the men at the table turned to everyone and said: Please forgive me if I have offended any of you over the past year. 

A few of us at the table were surprised. But soon others began to ask forgiveness for any offenses they may have knowingly or unknowingly committed.

This was all a new experience for me... and a very humbling one, publicly asking forgiveness.

I love our national holiday called "Thanksgiving" - the day when we are reminded to count our blessings. But how much happier we would all be, I think, if we added this tradition to our lives as well - the habit of turning to those around us - those we share daily life with - and in recognition of all at times we do offend each other - knowingly or unknowingly - asking for everyone's generous forgiveness.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Last Weekend for Carp Farmers Market

This is the last Saturday for the Carp Farmers Market, a weekly gathering of growers, bakers, food producers and crafters who sell their products in the Carp Fair Grounds, a half-hour drive from Ottawa.

Wandering through the market is one of our favorite weekend activities...

I miss it when it ends, at the end of October...

There is an indoor Christmas market in early December, which we also often attend. Many of the same vendors are there, too - those who sell fresh vegetables in fall now selling relish and other canned goods they have made.

I head to the Christmas Market to stock up on Eccles Cakes from the "British Pie Lady" - enough to last me till the Easter market comes around! Hopefully she hasn't run out by the time I get there - as happened one year!

Terry usually heads straight to his "maple syrup man." Pancakes with real maple syrup are a favorite winter comfort food for him.

I always look forward to its opening again in early May!

Attending the Carp Farmers Market has become a seasonal tradition for Terry and me.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Signs of the Season

Terry and I recently took a walk in the Glebe - an older Ottawa neighborhood that we love to visit.

There was lots to see.

Halloween decorations...

Lots of leaves on the ground (with more to come down!)

But a city truck was already vacuuming them up, so they won't clog street drains. I wonder how many times they'll have to do that before winter.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Quilt to Finish

My goal this fall is to try to finish projects I began way back when. (In other words, it's been a while!) I've been motivated by Joyce Meyer's current theme of seizing the day - avoiding procrastination. I'm not really a procrastinator. I often stop working on projects when I become discouraged. Maybe they aren't turning out as nicely as I had hoped. Sometimes putting them aside for a while helps me see them with fresh eyes - and they don't look so bad!

Or sometimes, I conclude that "it is what it is" - and I should finish it and move on. That's what happened with this quilt. It may not be as "dramatic" as I had hoped, but after completing the red and white quilt top that had sat for years waiting to be quilted, I found the squares of this one in a bin of fabric. It started out as another "two color quilt", a concept I was fascinated with a number of years ago... though with the grey, it's really three colors. I found it a little drab, so I added some fabric with pink flowers to brighten it up.

The squares needed to be sewn together. I've almost finished doing that now. The almost finished quilt top is now lying on the spare bed upstairs, awaiting further "inspiration". Hopefully I'll get back to it soon - though I've been distracted by knitting and yard work! (The "problem" with retirement is that I have few deadlines - and oh so many things I like to do!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What Are These Squirrels Up To?!!

Most days I see squirrels chasing each other, climbing up fences and trees, and digging holes in garden beds and lawns...

But I've never seen them hanging around cars...

I've never seen one jump up under a car and disappear, like this one did...

Was there a hole in the floor?! Had the squirrels discovered food inside?!

A few seconds later, one squirrel emerged and ran off. Then a second jumped up under the car.

Meanwhile, the first sat on a nearby patch of grass, happily munching something.

What was it?!

I never found out... But I think that the car must have run over something that was delicious for squirrels to eat.

I think they were picking the food out of the treads in the tires! Or perhaps some had stuck to the under body of the vehicle... Unless there was a hole under the car that led into the trunk. I stopped to watch, but I didn't see any squirrels jumping around inside the car...

This whole episode was a "squirrel first" for me!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Red and White Quilt... Done!!

I have been trying to complete unfinished knitting and quilting projects. As I look through my "stash" in bins in an upstairs bedroom, it's amazing how many incomplete projects I find.

One was a red and white quilt top I completed years ago but never made into a quilt. I laundered it, to freshen it...

All that was left to do was to quilt it. Wasn't sure how.

I finally decided on a series of machine sewn "waves" (i.e., wavy lines) flowing across the quilt.

Once that was decided, it didn't take that long to finish it!

Another project... DONE!!

I'm so pleased!... Now on to the next!

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Blessings of Food... and Family!

Visits to Toronto revolved around visiting family members who live there...

... and sharing meals together!

These are times we slow down long enough to talk to each other!

(A very important part of life, too!)

(Tor those planning to visit Toronto, this memorable meal was Thanksgiving Day brunch at "The Starving Artist" restaurant - one of our favorite places to eat. The restaurant comes highly recommended!)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Autumn Colors

Autumn is my favorite time of the year!

I love to walk outdoors and see the flaming colors all around me.

Recently, I was also lucky enough to find these place-mats that reflect my cheerful autumn mood!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tempting Fall Fair... and Farmers Market

Last Saturday I attended two food-related events...

The Fall Fair at my mother's nursing home, where I usually have lunch and enjoy browsing at their craft and bake tables.

I don't do a lot of baking anymore, so it's an occasional treat to buy what others have made - and support the many activities made available to the residents thanks to the extra money the fair raises.

This year, for the first time, my mother's nurse contributed home made spring rolls - which, of course, I had to try!

Later, Terry and I headed to the Carp Farmers Market, where I decided to sample some Tibetan dumplings.

(I don't expect to ever go to Tibet, so this was my chance to taste Tibetan food.)

Both the vegetarian and meat dumplings were delicious!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Toronto Street Art

I often stop to admire "street art."

This hodge podge of paintings on the side of a Toronto building no doubt needed scaffolding to complete...

I wonder who painted these on a schoolyard fence.

A mix of images and painting styles...

(A longing, perhaps, for the ocean?!)

My favorite? A more local theme: a giant raccoon face!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Walking in Taylor Creek Park

I'm always looking for new and interesting places to walk.

A few weekends ago we were in Toronto, and the whole family headed to Taylor Creek Park...
Here a gentle walking path meanders through the woods.

Grandpa Terry enjoyed pushing the baby stroller!

We managed to complete one part of the trail - from one parking lot to another.

But the park goes on!

Hard to believe that this expansive green space is all within the Toronto urban area, not that far from downtown.

That's one of the things I appreciate about Toronto. So much of the city is full of tall high-rise buildings. But nature paths can still be found.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Serving Food... on Leaves?!

One of my daughter's friends, traveling in Malaysia, has been posting interesting Instagram photos of the food she is enjoying.

Often the food is served on banana leaves - which makes me wonder why we don't serve food on leaves here.

(Think of all the dishes we wouldn't have to wash, especially when entertaining!)

I wonder if any of the leaves in our yard are food-safe... Hosta leaves would be pretty! (How could I find out?!)

I guess the safest thing to do would be to use edible leaves like lettuce and cabbage.

But would they stand up as "plates"? I don't think they are as sturdy as banana leaves are!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Adding Coconut Oil to My Diet

For the past few months, I have been seeing a nutritional counselor every two weeks - in an attempt to manage my diet in the hopes that my blood sugar levels will go down. The last time I saw my doctor, he indicated that he would prescribe Metformin - if my blood sugar levels continued to rise as they have been over the past year.

I should probably be glad that I've managed to control my type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise for close to 12 years now. But I really don't want to go on medication of any kind, so I have begun eating a low-carb diet in the hopes that it will make a difference.

On my last visit to the counselor, I mentioned that I've felt hungrier now that fall is here. I'm more active walking and working outdoors. And hunger makes me crave carbs!

Try eating a teaspoonful of coconut oil every day, she suggested. Natural fat of any kind - olive oil, butter, coconut oil  - will keep you full longer. But some people find coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) makes a big difference.

So I purchased a container and have been trying to add it to my diet.

But how?!

The first day I simply ate a spoonful... I like the taste of coconut, so this was fine. It had the taste and texture of coconut fondant (in a chocolate).

(The hint of green in the picture is the reflection of a green place-mat. The coconut oil is pure white.)

The next day I tried adding a teaspoonful to my morning coffee (an idea I read online). This was a little more cumbersome, as it melted, the oil rising to the top, so I had to stir the coffee before each sip.

I'm tempted to try making the coconut oil into unsweetened "chocolates" - by melting it, adding cocoa powder, then letting it harden again at room temperature.

The counselor suggested frying vegetables in it. I may try that soon, too.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thankful for...So Much!!

It's interesting how Thanksgiving weekend (which was last weekend in Canada) turns our hearts - and minds - to appreciating what we have!

Last weekend, we were visiting family in Toronto - and, not surprisingly, reflected on how thankful we were for them all - and especially for our newest family addition, born last April!

She is doing well!

We enjoyed playing with her and reading to her.

Going for walks with her!

A fun - and thankful - time was had by all!