Monday Musings

It is amazing to see how many pieces a pyrex container will break into when you pour water in whilst it is in the oven roasting a pork tenderloin. What a mess. However this prompts an oven cleaning. And who does not love a clean oven? My children had no idea that was the proper color of the inside of the oven. They also did not realize how well you were supposed to be see through the window in front.

A friend of mine sent me a few radio call in stories around the theme of first world problems.

  • i’m going on holidays to Mexico and i can’t find my Tiffany sunglasses, so i will have to take my special order Raybans.
  • when i got to the bottom of my $5 coffee, it was too sweet because the starbucks person didn’t stir it for me
  • I’m feeling kind of tired – and i want to sneak out of the office early today to go home and take a nap, but my cleaning lady is there today

Laughed out loud on the last one.

If you should want some further inspiration along the line of gratitude and giving back, check out the “Secret Billionaire: The Chuck Feeney Story”. It is just under 60 minutes running time, but worth every one.

en Cinemex La Paz Platino

I never wanted to be one of those people who you hear of, who go to the movies on holidays. It seems like a waste of time. Why would you do something that can be done at home?

That was my more productive, goal oriented and rather uptight self. The person who judges the quality of the activity, not how much it is enjoyed. And who am I to judge, if I never take part?

After 12 days of relaxing in the sun and slowing down to the pace of life in the Baja, my mind has started to relax. There are so many things different here, that even a movie, surely, will be quite different.

To start, paying for movie tickets in Spanish is a walk on the wild side. Particularly when we wanted Platino, (Platinum) service and were not standing at the correct ticket counter. We just about got frustrated enough to walk away at that point. The young woman at the counter did not want to speak into my husband’s iPhone translator. But, she summoned someone else to help, who spoke a fraction more English and practically held our hands, walking us over to the “back” ticket counter.

Tickets paid for and seats selected, we were through the sliding doors to the VIP room. Full bar and menu, where the order is placed and then waiters bring everything to your seats. This took awhile with the iPhone translator. I went with empanadas and cerveza. That is something we could not get at home. (My old self is still lurking there, close to the surface).

Cinemex lounge

Off to the theatre. We were the first to arrive and instead of the room smelling of stale popcorn, it smelt like leather. The seats were plush, with foot rests and reclining backs. A glass table swings in front for eating and holding drinks. There is a call button. When the movie started, I almost felt like I was on an airplane and should be buckling up my seat belt. (If only I flew in those kind of seats!)

Cinemax seats

After the movie, I marvelled at how amazing the experience was. And to think, I was not even sure I wanted to do it in the first place.

No Place Like Home

“There’s no place like home,” a quote from L. Frank Baum’s 1900 fantasy, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Near the end of its 1939 adaptation, Dorothy repeats that phrase to return home to Kansas.

There were important life lessons in that movie. Themes like:

  • family appreciation
  • friends working together
  • finding your personal best qualities
  • good versus evil
  • belief in yourself

In the end, though, it was really about what qualities people identify with home. What pulls people back after being away. What values, physical characteristics and relationships are most important.

I had a similar experience this past week. It was a biannual meeting where many people from around the world, come together to share and learn.

Because we are far away from home and the culture and languages are different, there is a quality to life that is somewhat surreal, like being in a movie. (Listening to a variety of foreign languages, eating different foods and sleeping in tiny single beds.) There are characters throughout the week that are either unexpected or behave in strange ways. (Who can predict what kind of guest speakers will appear, or if a known character will suddenly break completely from their normal personality.)

All of that would be quite tolerable to a person’s frame of mind, but the sleep deprivation starts to kick in. Over the course of a week, it is not uncommon reduce normal sleeping hours by 2 to 3 per night, which equals over 2 full nights of regular rest at home, over the same period. That is where the physiological effects start to kick-in. Depending on the person, it can be both funny and sad to watch and experience.

Even that wouldn’t be so bad, if it were not for the epic journey, 4 of us endured, to get home. Suffice to say, it took 27 hours to complete a trip that normally takes us about 17. And we trekked the path, just like the foursome in “The Wizard of Oz.” We had a lion, a tin-man, a scarecrow and Dorothy. By supporting each other, laughing and trying to be optimistic, we made it home.

As the hours continue to pass and the experience quietly fades away, what I think of, is how much I love being at home. I’m not sure why, we humans have to venture away from home, to truly appreciate why we love it. But that was what happened to me last week.

Other blogs – There’s No Place Like Home:

White Rock Beach

Becoming me

In recent months, I have endeavoured to occupy my mind during the rather irritating stop and go commute to and from work everyday. To that end, I have listened to some very entertaining fiction and this week a rather heavy “In Defense Of Food”, by Michael Pollan.

From his website:

Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. By urging us to once again eat food, he challenges the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach — what he calls nutritionism — and proposes an alternative way of eating that is informed by the traditions and ecology of real, well-grown, unprocessed food. Our personal health, he argues, cannot be divorced from the health of the food chains of which we are part.

This is not light material, and is a subject that cannot be taken lightly either. In listening to this, I have come home from work at night feeling a little depressed and very tired. I just want to curl up in bed, rather than make dinner. Probably the opposite of what the intention was in writing this book. (But I’m just getting to the good part, near the end, hopefully no-one is killed).

Last night, I had to do something different to break the cycle of my reaction to the audio book. I am most certainly not going to stop listening. I went to the library and took out a movie called “Becoming Jane”.

I have long been inspired by the story of Jane Austen. I even tried to start my own Jane Austen book club with my most “read” family members. The lack of success with the club will be placed on my doorstep because I was so busy that I ended up listening to the works rather than reading them. But after watching this movie, I am again taken by this unique author. (Don’t worry, family, no more reading required at the cabin this summer!)

What I learned, in a work of fiction itself, was how the circumstances of Jane Austen’s own life had probably shaped how and what she wrote about. This is a time where women, even with wealth of their own, were expected to conform to very strict social structures. Men had a little easier time, but society had very strong social rules that even men could not break without dire consequences. For example, if you loved someone whom your family did not, you would be forced to choose between your love in a penniless future, or relative prosperity with an arranged and approved partner.

There was a passage in the movie by Jane that expressed the futures of the characters in her books. She said that they would struggle for a time and then have happy endings. This was said at a time when Jane realized that no such happiness was going to be her fate.

To think that such difficult choices had to be made. There was no such thing as working it out, or seeing what will happen. The future was determined and as a proper English person, you were expected to act in kind.

Listening to Michael Pollan, I feel overwhelmed by the unhealthy choices we are making here in North America. It seems we have not cared enough about what we had. We have let healthy whole food be taken away from us and replaced with food-like versions of highly processed high fructose corn syrup.

But I live in a time and place where that can all change again. And I can help to make that change starting in my own home and helping whomever will listen to do the same. Nothing is being forced on any of us, we are free.

That was not the case for Jane Austen and so many other women of her time. For the trail she blazed, and the long line of women who secured every freedom I enjoy today – thank-you.

My Favourite Things

Many years ago I made a cassette tape recording of this song from the movie, “The Sound of Music”, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Along with other relaxing pieces of music, I could use this recording to quiet my mind and allow myself to fall asleep under almost any circumstances.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudel
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

As I look over this list, these are not really my favourite things. So I’m not sure why this song was so effective in helping me to relax. Maybe it is time to think of what my list really is.

  • Sewing a fancy dress for an upcoming party. This was usually done in a panic, the night before said event. I haven’t done this in years. Closest thing was making a dress for my daughters doll, doesn’t really count.
  • Taking off my ski boots.
  • Reading a book in the hot tub.
  • Casting on and casting off knitting projects.
  • Cooking and eating great food.
  • Watching a thunderstorm roll by, (whilst safely tucked into a warm and dry vantage point).
  • Riding a wave all the way to the beach on a boogie board.
  • The heat of the sun on my skin, and the feeling of sipping a cool drink.
  • The first sip of coffee in the morning.
  • Hearing my children laugh, and babies when they are learning to laugh.
  • The first night of sleep at home after a week away in Europe or Asia and the long haul flights. It is the deepest, darkest sleep.
  • Sitting around a camp fire telling tall tales, roasting marshmallows and eating s’mores.
  • The smell of freshly watered dirt after planting seeds that will turn into something yummy to eat.

Some of you may have noticed the different spelling of the same word in this post. Favourite is the British way and we Canadians side with the Brits. The Yanks remove the “u” from a number of words, favorite being one of them.

Related post: Some Favourite Things

Giving back

I have loved the NFB of Canada, (National Film Board) productions since I was a child. I felt intensely proud to be Canadian and that we had our own movies. Then I grew older and realized what they did down in Hollywood, yeah the Americans made a bunch of movies too.

As I now fly around the world, as much as possible on Air Canada planes, it is still with pride that I always try to watch an NFB film. I recently enjoyed “Force Of Nature, the David Suzuki movie. (In my movie page, there is a full review). Last week, I was lucky enough to choose “Hannah’s Story“, about a girl from Winnipeg who created the Ladybug Foundation.

Her interest in the homeless began at age 5. During the filming of the movie she was about 11 and has since travelled all over Canada giving talks about homelessness. Her foundation has raised over 2 million dollars and a facility in Winnipeg have built an emergency bed shelter in her name. She volunteers her time, her creativity and most of all her heart. She hugs everyone she meets

I came across this story for a reason. Just last week I suggested to my son that he read about children who have become published authors for personal inspiration. While that will still be on his objectives list, driving towards his goal of raising his creative writing grade, this girl Hannah can provide something else.

It is people like Hannah, who inspire us all to become better and push us forward. She has achieved and given more back to society than most people will do in a lifetime. And if I can show my children inspiration like this, they too can feel what that does to your heart. Similar to the main character in the Christmas movie “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” where his heart grew 3 sizes that day. That precious feeling of inspiration, the reason we steel ourselves to achieve a difficult goal, even when the going gets tough. That is some of the good stuff.

Mana mana

Speaking of the Muppets, my family (including my parents), caught the matinée on the weekend. What a great walk down memory lane. I had forgotten how much I loved the Muppet Show. The values that were taught, the zany songs, the funny sketches and the vaudeville of it all.

3 of my favourite muppets are:

  • Kermit the Frog – of course, most people’s beloved frog. “It is not easy being green.” He was always sensible. He knew the right thing to do, had high moral standards.
  • The Swedish Chef – I always knew his gibberish was not real Swedish, but it was fun to have
  • something from my family’s culture up there on the TV. I used to hope each week that he would make an appearance, but he was not so popular.
  • Animal – he became my favourite once I hit high school. That is the time of life when all you want to do is party, answer questions with an emphatic nod and turn up the music!

The original Mana mana song is at:

It’s such a comfort

Lately I’ve been thinking about a scene in the movie, Julie and Julia. During all my travels of the past month, I had an opportunity to watch this movie for probably the 20th time. What has been playing over in the back of my mind is this dialogue:

“Chocolate cream pie.” Julie Powell says as she walks past a chocolate window display. Later, at home while stirring a pot on the stove she says to her husband, “You know what I love about cooking?” “What’s that?” her husband responds. “I love that, after a day when nothing is sure, and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate, sugar and milk it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.”

Today, as I was eating my lunch at work, I flipped open my iPad and opened up my new app “Pulp”. In the blog “A cup of Jo”,, I came across a link to a recipe for brownies. Why this version stuck with me, or even why I decided to read through it, I don’t know, but I felt that I had found something I was looking for.

Next I used another app, “recipe builder” and recorded the recipe which also gave me all the nutritional statistics. Probably more than we need to know about how much fat is in 1 serving, but then again, maybe not.

Finally, after dinner was out-of-the-way, my kids and I made the brownies. They really watched and licked anything that had batter on it. But the whole experience was “such a comfort”. The whole thing came together just as it should have, it was easy and very certain.

Serves: 9


  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1/2 cup, packed Sugar, brown
  • 1 cup Sugar, white, granulated or lump
  • 2 large Egg
  • 3/4 cup Flour, white, flour
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt

Pre heat oven to 390
Melt butter in medium sized pot, then let cool for 1 minute.
Mix after each addition. Sugars. Everything else.
Line 8 square baking dish with parchment paper. Pour in batter.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool for 1 hour or overnight.

Nutrition Info (per serving)
Calories 292
Total Fat 12g
Saturated 7.2g
Polyunsaturated 0.6g
Monounsaturated 3.3g
Cholesterol 74mg
Sodium 126mg
Total Carbs 45g
Dietary Fiber 1.9g
Sugar 34g
Protein 3.5g
Vitamin A 102mcg
Vitamin C 0.0mg
Calcium 27mg
Iron 1.5mg

Fresh: the movie

Every now and then a movie, or a book or a news report comes along and just rocks you. I have watched this movie twice and I keep it active on my iPad, just in case. It is one of those pieces of work that seems to have been made just for me.

Instead of a movie with complete shock value of how bad the world is, there are examples of everyday people making the world better. Really inspiring stuff.

The director of the film, Ana Joanes has a list of 10 easy ways that you can live a more sustainable lifestyle!

  1. Buy local products when possible, otherwise, buy organic and fair-trade products. Ask your grocer or favorite restaurant what local food they carry and try to influence their purchasing decisions. You will support your local economy and small farmers, reduce your exposure to harmful pesticides, improve the taste and quality of your food, and protect the environment from fertilizer and pesticide run-offs.
  2. Shop at your local farmers market, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and get weekly deliveries of the season’s harvest, and by buy from local grocers and co-ops committed to stocking local foods.
  3. Support restaurants and food vendors that buy locally produced food. When at a restaurant, ask (nicely!) your waiter where the meat and fish comes from. Eventually, as more and more customers ask the same question, they’ll get the message!
  4. Avoid GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)! When buying processed food (anything packaged) buy organic to avoid GMO. (Since almost all the soy, corn, and canola in the US is genetically modified, over 70% of all processed food contain GMOs from by-products of these grains.)
  5. COOK, CAN, DRY & FREEZE! Our culture has forgotten some of the most basic joys of cooking. Not only is cooking at home better for you and more economical, but it’s an invaluable skill to pass on to your children.
  6. Drink plenty of water, but avoid bottled water when you can. Water bottles pollute the environment and bottled water is often mere tap water. Plastic is harmful to your health and to the environment. Buy a reusable water bottle and invest in a good water filter.
  7. Grow a garden, visit a farm, volunteer in your community garden, teach a child how to garden. GET DIRTY! Have fun!
  8. Volunteer and/or financially support an organization dedicated to promoting a sustainable food system. Stay informed by joining the mailing list of the advocacy groups you trust.
  9. Get involved in your community! Influence what your child eats by engaging the school board, effect city policies by learning about zoning and attending city council meetings, learn about the federal policies that affect your food choice and let your congress person know what you think.
  10. SHARE your passion! Talk to your friends and family about why our food choice matters.
Fresh: The Movie – check out the trailer.