Monday, October 20, 2014

Love in Blue & Red

Hi friends,


I wanted to share with you the wonderful socks that my blogging friend, Joanne of Cup on the Bus made for my mother.



I can't tell you how much these socks are much appreciated as they will help to keep my mother's feet and legs warm this winter.  While I can knit a bit and love to make dishcloths, I haven't tried any major projects besides a baby sweater (which I am far behind in finishing).

I want to send a big blogger "THANK YOU" to Joanne once again. If you get a chance go over and check out her blog.

I haven't been blogging much as I've been too busy with Thanksgiving, matters concerning my mom, helping a friend and trying to fit in a few of my own appointments.

There was a birthday to celebrate on Saturday. No big party just a nice dinner, a small cake and song,  and some well wishes. We both like chocolate and whipped cream.



It has been raining a lot but today it was dry and overcast though it is still very warm here.

I took a few photos for you.


More rain is on the way this week.


I'm joining in with Our World Tuesday this week.

Enjoy your week!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thanksgiving

Hello friends,

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalms 106:1

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada.

It is when we mark the end of harvest season and thank God for all the bounty and blessings he has provided.

I still remember this special time of year from when I was quite young. At church  there would always be a cornucopia filled to the brim with squashes and gourds of various kinds during the month of October in anticipation of Thanksgiving. It would sit in a prominent place at the front of the church in front of the pulpit. Somehow it always brought me joy and a feeling of comfort.

At the same time my mother would always prepare a magnificent feast for the special day. Honestly I have never seen anyone do it quite like her and I'm not even sure how or why she started the tradition of feeding so many people on this day.  She would get up very early and literally prepare a hotel type buffet every year.  Though I enjoyed having all kinds of food to eat I used to tell her she prepared far too much food but she ignored me.  She would really want to give her very best and in so doing made all kinds of salad, vegetables and desserts.  She would also roast a huge turkey with lots and lots of stuffing and gravy.

We would eat our family meal together rather early.  We usually ate between noon and 1 p.m. because mother thought it a waste of the day to have dinner in the evening.  After we ate, people would drop in throughout the day and into the evening to share our table and visit.  It was always a great source of pleasure and pride for mother to entertain her family and loved ones in this way. And the guests really enjoyed it. My uncle would often bring someone from out of town to join us as he had a kind heart and didn't want people to be without friends and family on this day of Thanksgiving.

In my older years, I never saw another cornucopia again.  I also never saw anyone else prepare such a large feast and invite others to drop by all day and night long.

From time to time, I  invite others over for a holiday dinner and I do make more than an average dinner.  But it is nothing like the feast my mom would have prepared. I would like to retain that memory as something special to her and not try to emulate it.



I wasn't going to make dinner this year because next week I hope to prepare a lot of food for my church's monthly "love feast" and didn't want to do so much cooking so close together.  I am also feeling a bit poorly so am trying to take it easy. However I ended up preparing a meal unexpectedly. Instead of turkey and all the trimmings I prepared a ham with bone in. I love ham. I am kept it simple with just mashed potatoes, gravy and cabbage. I wasn't into making salads and other veggies today today and certainly don't need any more dessert.  It was just the "right" meal for the day.


This year at Thanksgiving I am thankful that my mom is still among us. I am thankful that my family is intact and that friends are still with me. I'm thankful for the love and provision of God. I'm thankful that there is another day that I am breathing and alive and have an opportunity to do good to others. I am happy too when God gives me joy and gladness and helps me to see the many ways that he blesses my life because let's face it, most of us have days when we don't feel too joyful or when we don't see how blessed we are compared to some others.  It is always good to remember one's blessings. I have learned that there is always someone else who has it much worse and I think there but for the grace of God, go I. I have also been privileged to travel to parts of the world where people literally have nothing. No shelter, no food, no idea where their next meal is coming from. I can truly say I am among the blessed and I don't ever want to take that for granted.


I hope wherever you are in Canada, you have enjoyed the day and that you too see many blessings in your life. However hard life is there are still blessings if we can see beyond our circumstances.

I know my friends in the USA don't celebrate until November and I wish you all a happy time in preparing for the special day in your country.

May God bless us all with another wonderful year with family and friends, food, shelter, joy and a chance to bless someone else.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Scenes from Vancouver's Chinatown

Today I had to go downtown for an appointment. I decided to stop off in Chinatown as I wasn't too far from there and I needed to find myself a bamboo steamer (to steam frozen dim sum).

I always enjoy the street scenes and today was no exception.  The array of product in a store in Chinatown is always astounding. There are also a lot of exotic to me things that I don't get to use or see every day. I  still remember my early days in Vancouver and how a trip to Chinatown was always such a delight. Buying simple things like Sandalwood soap (heavenly fragrance) was a true cultural experience.






Truth be told I only walked a square block and a few extra streets in Chinatown.  There is actually much more to see.



I loved the artful tree in front of this traditional looking roof top. There is even a bird perching on top (see side right as you are looking straight at the photo).  The sky looks rather gray. It was actually an overcast day today though it cleared up and became quite warm.

If you look off in the distance of the photo below you will see the sky scrapers. They are located in down town Vancouver just a stone's throw away.


These plants make a nice, colourful addition to the street. I am not sure if they are on sale or if they are gifts to the store owners for a new business perhaps.


All over Chinatown the evidence of economic decay is present. So many shops have closed up. For many years now Chinatown has been declining and many shop owners have migrated to the suburb of Richmond (near the Vancouver International Airport) where there is a sizeable Asian community.  I admire the business people who stick it out in Chinatown and try to keep things going. I know there have been some efforts over the years to try and revitalize this area. Sadly I think the revitalization is going to change the entire nature of the area.

Already today I saw several businesses that just do not match the historical charm and nature of the businesses here. I also saw evidence of numerous residential building projects that are going to bring in masses of residents and change the nature of the area too.

I know change is always happening but I will personally miss the charm of what was.




It was nice to see some beautiful murals in the area.  The one depicted in the photo below is adjacent to an empty lot which is scheduled for a condo project.





This ruby red lamplight  post with Chinese writing at the bottom is quite beautiful.



This sign alerts the passersby to the coming condo development. There are several other developments in the general area.


This fast food restaurant, Kent's Kitchen is a very well known and highly frequented restaurant. I stopped by for lunch.


I love this charming, yellow building. At the bottom of the building you can see that other ethnic businesses are moving.  There is now a Filipino Restaurant in what used to be a clothing store. In the next block I saw businesses run by Caucasians and Vietnamese people.  Chinatown is losing it's historic and distinctly Chinese ambience and I'm guessing that building owners are giving good incentives to other businesses just to keep things going.


I just hope that in years to come there will still be a distinctly Chinese flavour to this area even if things change.

Linking up with Skywatch Friday today.
My the time does fly!
Have a great weekend everyone :-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My Tuesday

Hello friends,

It's another glorious and beautiful day here in Vancouver. After a period of heavy rainfall early in the Fall we have been having warmer than average temperatures and lots of mostly sunny days. I'm happy about that.


As you can see from my garden everything is pretty much finished for the year. The hardy geraniums are hanging on and their bright colours still make me smile when I look out. All the other plants are done for the year except the trees on my patio garden.


Even the pansies are done for the year. In fact the leaves look like they have some black spots on them which I didn't notice earlier.


I have an appointment on Wednesday morning so I'm using today to get caught up on my housework and cooking. First I've prepared a vegetable medley to go in the oven. It is primarily made up of cubed butternut squash, some eggplant, onions, a couple potatoes and whole cloves of garlic. I've mixed them up with olive oil and fresh rosemary and thyme. This will all be roasted at high heat, uncovered for about half an hour to an hour, depending on how small you chop the vegetables and how fast your oven cooks.


These vegetables are meant to accompany the barbeque ribs which I'm marinating in the bag (in photo below) with a mix of brown sugar, ketchup and vinegar.  Sometimes I add other ingredients like mustard or Worcestershire sauce for more intense flavour.  The ribs will be roasted for a couple hours on low to moderate heat (275 to 325 Farenheit) so they will be popped into the oven to cook for an hour or more before I crank up the heat and add the vegetable medley.  I don't usually make ribs because of the sugar that goes into the sauce. I think once in awhile won't hurt the blood sugar too much as long as I eat healthy most of the rest of the time.


Also I have a pot full of dried chick peas in my rice cooker.  I boil them for a minute after soaking for a short while. I boil them for 1-2 minutes then turn it off the cooker and let the chick peas sit in the pot for an hour or so. Then I boil them again in the same pot and water until cooked. I always have chick peas on hand whether canned or dried.  They are versatile and I never know when I will get a craving for hummus.

I used to be one of those people who was put off of using dried beans because of the time it takes to prepare them. I would soak the beans overnight and then cook them up the next day.  I found this rather inconvenient for my schedule.  Several of my readers suggested I prepare beans using the  quick method (boil for a minute, sit for an hour then boil until cooked). It does save time and doesn't require much pre-planning.  If you have the dried beans on hand and the time on any given day to prepare them, you are good to go.


On the stove top I am boiling up some vegetable stew made with the left over butternut squash, eggplant and onions. I've added green onions and carrots for more flavour and colour and a few potatoes will be thrown in as well. The base of the soup is chicken bouillon (store bought not home made) to which I will add some tumeric powder.  Finally, I will add a few cans of chick peas to make it nice and thick. This stew is intended for lunches Tuesday and Wednesday.


I hope to mix up some no knead bread before I am done for the day. It will need to sit overnight and be baked tomorrow.  I've made it before and posted on my blog but for the time being I can't locate the post. It is a nice bread if you don't like kneading but it does require time to let it rise overnight or all day before baking.

After all this cooking I still have to sweep and wash floors  and vacuum the front room. Fortunately I did most of the laundry on Tuesday. There is still more to do. Where does it all come from?

So that's what I'm busy doing today. I'd love to hear what you are doing.

Joining Our World Tuesday today.

Enjoy your Tuesday.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Boyhood

A friend invited me to a movie she's been wanting to see for months and it seemed like we could never get together. But Friday we finally made it. Believe it or not, the same movie was playing at the same cinema as when she first asked me. That is very rare!

The movie is called "Boyhood" about a young boy of 6 or 7 named Mason.  He  ages throughout the movie and we see his life unfold in different situations until he leaves for college at about age 18. It is touching and realistic.




Mason, his sister Samantha (played by Lorelei Linklater), and his mother Olivia (played by Patricia Arquette) first live in a single parent household.  As time progresses you see them live their lives through 3 failed marriages and all the milestones that come as children age and parent's achieve different milestones of their own.  Their biological father, Mason Sr. is played by Ethan Hawke.  It is nice to see him in a role where he learns and grows and takes his fatherly responsibilities seriously.

It was intriguing to see a movie made over such a long time span with the same actors, playing the same parts.

I laughed a lot.  I nodded my head too a the realism in the scenes.  I cried too.  Especially when mother Olivia, single again, is moving into an apartment on her own.  As her son Mason prepares to get in his truck and make the drive to college, she starts crying and says “I just thought there would be more to life.”

Olivia has been in several failed relationships and marriages, earned a master's degree, had a successful life as a college professor and raised two well adjusted children.  But as her children leave the nest and moving on to make lives of their own, she realizes she is on her own.  She realizes that her life will totally change.  No longer to be measured by her children's birthdays, achievements and graduations, she says the next milestone is her funeral.

Her son asks "aren't you jumping ahead 40 years!?"  That cracked me up in a good way.  At the same time there is this intensity of motherhood, life and letting go, there is also levity.  So much like real life.

The music tracks are a wonderful feature of the movie.  The tune that plays in the trailer (above) is one that stayed with me. It also plays as Mason Jr. drives along the highway hurtling toward college and his future. So I had to look for it on line. The song is called "Hero" and is sung by The Family of the Year.





Just before Mason sets off on that longish drive along the highway, he and his first love have had a huge argument. His girlfriend has also broken up with him and he cannot understand why.  It makes his drive all the more touching.

Young love. I don't miss it at all.  But everyone must pass through it. 

If you get a chance check out the movie. It is so well done. All the actors are wonderful, the music is great and the scenes of life are very touching and realistic.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Protest

Some of my readers may have heard about some key resource developments in this part of the world.

One of them is the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project which would see the construction of twin pipelines from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimaat, British Columbia.



This project was proposed in the mid -2000s and has been postponed several times. The project proposal was submitted to the National Energy Board in 2010.  It was accepted by the federal government in June 2014 and here are hundreds of issues that must be addressed during the next phase of development.



There are several competing projects.

Kinder Morgan, a US based company has a proposal to expand Trans Mountain Pipeline, which runs from Strathcona County, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia. This project would see a tripling of the company's capacity to transport oil and if approved is expected to be operational in 2017. The weird part is that building is going on to accommodate the increased capacity even though the approval hasn't been given. It makes me cynical about the process since I don't think a company would spend this kind of money if they didn't feel they would get approval.




The other project is is Trans Canada Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed 1,179-mile (1,897 km), 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline beginning in Hardisty, Alta., and extending south to Steele City, Neb.




The oil would be piped through Canada but on it's way to other markets including the USA.

With all these resource projects in development added to ones like the Alberta Tar Sands project it is no wonder that people are concerned about detrimental environmental impacts.

The peaceful protect was overseen by the police and the protesters shut down the gas station for about 4-5 hours on Saturday passed. You can see the pink bands around the gas pump while people stand around talking, playing music and dancing in solidarity.  This was a relatively small protest.  There have been other protests on the related issues and I'm sure many more protests to come as people demonstrate their opposition to the resource development projects.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Gift



I had to go downtown on Tuesday for an appointment. I definitely didn't feel like venturing into the heart of the city since it was pouring rain.  The place where I had to meet is a construction zone right now. But I couldn't postpone my appointment any longer and in the end it turned out to be a very short appointment.

Getting home took more time. But as I'm wont to do, I stop somewhere along the way for a coffee and to read a good book. That day was no exception but when I got off the bus and went to my neighbourhood Starbucks, every seat was taken!  It was pouring rain outside and I've noticed that the neighbourhood shops are always full when that happens.


There was no free table and I couldn't sit outside in the rain. So I bought a lemonade to go and went across the street to the grocery store where they have a little dining area. There I also bought a hot cup of coffee and proceeded to read a few chapters of a book I'd left unfinished for a few weeks.

After my foray into the grocery store I stopped by the post office.  A wonderful surprise parcel was waiting for me there.



The parcel was from a blogging friend, Joanne, who has a delightful blog called Cup on the Bus.  Joanne is a talented crafts person and she made these beautiful, woven tea towels.

These will be used as covering for bread dough when I set it aside to rise. I think they are far too wonderful to just sit and look pretty but I don't want to use them for drying dishes just yet. That will come later ;-)


So I want to send a big  "THANK YOU" to Joanne for her kindness and generosity. 

I absolutely love my gift.

Go on over and have a look at her blog. She is an amazing grandmother and caretaker to several teens.  She also amazes me with her very full schedule of gardening, chaperoning, accounting, etc.

On Friday I went to meet some friends I haven't seen in decades, literally! Wow I can't even believe it's been that long. One of them is my Sunday School teacher and the other is her son. We had a really nice lunch together and tried to catch up on as much news as possible in the time we had.
If all goes well we will see each other again next year.

 After a full week of rain I'm happy to see the sun again.

Have a wonderful weekend. xx

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday

It's Saturday today and a glorious sunny day it was.  Though I am feeling much better, I am still having issues with my digestive tract after food poisoning just over a week ago. I didn't realize that convalescence would take so long.

I'm not doing much yet but I have gotten back to regular appointments and errands.

Thursday a friend and I went to a movie called "The Giver" with Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and Katie Holmes. While it wasn't the best movie I've seen, it certainly was good enough to make a person think about the world we live in. In the movie, people live in a world where there is no colour or emotion, no sickness or war, no pain and no human touch, no books or knowledge of history.  It makes one realize that there can be an absence of all these things for all the "right reasons", usually idealistic reasons.  Yet the world can still be missing something and there can be hardship of another kind like no joy, no love, no touch, no feeling.  With all the warts, flaws, sadness and suffering in our world, it is still a rich world and preferable for most of us to living in a tightly run world of ideals for the common good.  At least that was my take away from the movie. If you see it yourself, I'd love to know what you think of it.

Yesterday, I went for my weekly appointment in the Kitsilano neighbourhood. I called a friend of mine the night before and we planned to meet for coffee and lunch afterwards. It was nice getting together with her and she had some gifts for my birthday which passed in May. It was such a nice gesture and surprise. She also bought me lunch to celebrate her recent promotion at work. We went to a new to the both of us place called Tang's, located at Broadway & Macdonald.  The food was delicious and I will have to go there again some time.  My friend had a deep fried tofu dish with chili and I had a beef and broccoli dish which came with hot and sour soup and pickles.  A nice added touch. The last time my friend and I got together I was treating her and her son to dinner at an Indian restaurant called Nirvana.  We were celebrating her new job but neither of us were impressed with the food or their miniscule portions.

At the post office today I picked up a parcel I've been expecting. It was my new Eurosteam iron (mine is blue not black).  I don't iron that much anymore but from time to time I need a really good iron for ironing cotton fabrics and shirts. If this iron is half as good as the demos, ironing will be a breeze.

I  bought this iron on line at a really good sale price and can't wait to try it out. I'm looking forward to being able to steam out wrinkles in a fraction of time than the usual.

After the post office I went next door to the grocery store and I bumped into a neighborhood friend I haven't seen for some time. It reminded me that the last time we bumped into each other at the coffee shop we exchanged phone numbers.  We both said we should make plans to get together rather than simply bumping into each other all the time.  I am not even sure where I have her number so I guess I should look for it. I'm either very good at keeping in touch with people or very bad.  Also, if I make a few efforts and the other party doesn't reciprocate then I drop all efforts because life is actually very busy and there is always someone else to see or something else to do.

Just yesterday I was also thinking about my former chiropractor.  I haven't been to him for adjustments in years since I worked at a downtown job  Unfortunately he was diagnosed with MS and recently retired from practice because the disease has advanced too much.  He and I promised to get together after his retirement but we haven't done so yet. I guess need to contact him and see how he is doing and whether and when we might get together.  He and his wife are just the dearest people you would ever hope to meet.  I think of him like a dear brother.  His wife is one of the most supportive spouses I've ever met. She gave up a promising career to be her husband's main office receptionist and supporter.  It was always a pleasure to go to the office and have a chit chat with the both of them.  When you meet people like that it is really important to try to stay in touch though it can be challenging in this busy age and time.

It has been raining this week but today the sun came out in all it's glory.   It is supposed to be another nice, sunny day tomorrow too.

I'm going to church and maybe after that I will get out to one of the southern "burbs" along the waterfront. There is a touristy kind of store that I want to check out because it might have some unique gifts.  I also want to take some photos by the waterfront because it will be the last opportunity  before summer officially ends.  If I don't get out that way tomorrow I will have to wait another week or two.  Rain is expected back in these parts on Monday and will likely last for most of the week.

Reminiscing about my safari in Kenya,
  I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Craving Fulfilled

Hello friends,


I've been very sick this past week. I contracted food poisoning and I think it was from some boxed fish purchased at the supermarket. I ate it a week ago and by the next evening I was suffering. By Thursday noon I was suffering even more. I finally went to the doctor on Saturday.  I'm happy to report that I'm doing better and am finally getting back to normal.


Just yesterday it started to rain here. It didn't rain a lot but the sky is gray and the earth is a bit wet. have to say we have had a LONG run of sunny, hot or very warm weather. I guess Fall has now caught up with us.

As I was taking a shot toward the mountains, a plane flew overhead. It looks lonely up there against a dismal sky.



Whenever I have a bout of sickness, combined with overcast weather, I tend to want some home cooked "comfort" foods. I seldom make white bread any more but today I made both pizza dough (using Wolfgang Puck's recipe) and French Bread rolls (actually these recipes are almost identical
with the bread rolls requiring more flour).  Yesterday I made home made lentil and vegetable soup. I wish I had some today to go with the rolls but the rolls with butter will be nice!

The pizza dough will be use used today to make one vegetable pizza.  I think I will use cauliflower, peppers, eggplant and feta.  The other ball of dough will be used to make one meat pizza (pepperoni, salami, onions).

While my bread bun dough was rising, I roasted the vegetables for my pizza. It would have been nice to use some cherry tomatoes. Usually I have some on hand but none today.

A mix of garlic, yellow peppers, eggplant and cauliflower. I would have added cherry tomatos but I didn't have any on hand.

Before it goes in the oven.

After baking.

I almost left it in the oven too long.

Sorry about the shadows in the photo.


The buns are nice and crusty on both sides. I guess that's why they are called French bread rolls but I almost left them too long in the oven.

I'm off to eat. 

Tomorrow I will make some vegetable soup to go with the buns.

Enjoy the rest of your week!
Afterwards: Taste test for the buns. These buns were absolutely delicious. So soft and fresh inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. The pizza was slighlty salty with the feta and the crust was nice and crunchy.   Just how I like it though I know I will love it more with the addition of cherry tomatoes.

Joining in with Skywatch Friday here. Happy weekend to you and your loved ones. xx

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