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Cozy Up in Winnipeg

February11

Fresh snow on the ground and 20 below temperatures make me (and I am guessing many Winnipeggers), think “cozy”.

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For me, cozy is being inside but seeing the wind blow the snow around outside.  You can do this and enjoy savoury soups at Prarie 360, Terrace 55 in Assiniboine Park or the Tapastry at the Niakwa Golf and Country Club. The Peasant Cookery has a couple of snugly booths to enjoy gooey poutine (to add an extra layer of insulation).

Sipping a glass of red wine in front of the fireplace at Confusion Corner Bar & Grill or any one of the Keg Steakhouse + Bars can warm up an evening-especially if you are getting caught up with a close friend.  The toss cushions and soft drapery of the Clay Oven on Kenaston is sure to cozy you up and an order of their Vindaloo Shrimp guarantees it (you can decide the fieriness). The natural wood details at The Chew, Deseo Bistro and Segovia can get me thinking about a walk in the forest. Truth is, I walk work through anything to taste the offerings of these three restaurants.

The wood burning ovens at Pizzeria GustoFood Evolution and Bonfire Bistro are sure to throw some heat.  Doesn’t matter what you order-its all good!  A hot made- from -scratch cocoa at Chocolatier Constance Popp’s or Baked Expectations should increase your cozy quotient.

If an intimate pub is your cup of tea, head to The Grove or the King’s Head for a pint and fish and chips.  Speaking of tea-special local blends are concocted at Cornelia Bean on Academy and are also served up, down the road at Saucers Cafe.  Isn’t it lovely to warm your hands around a cuppa?

Somehow just “being” in St. Boniface especially during Festival is a toasty time.  Chaise Café and Lounge and the Promenade Cafe make you forget that it’s even winter outside.  Muddy Waters Smokehouse is a fun place to warm up after a skate.  Any of the Osborne Village eateries are good destinations when you stroll down the Riverwalk.

Kath’s quote: “Soup is cuisine’s kindest course.  It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability, as the five o’clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour.”-Louis P. De Gouy

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

My 1,000th Blog Post

January7

Whenever a blog post is created, it is numbered and so I knew that this milestone has been coming for a couple of months. I wanted this post to be monumental in some way.  I have created more than one draft and then known that it was not what I wanted to say. In the end, it all comes down to this: love. Hokey, I know. But “love” is what I want to share and celebrate on this frigid day. In no particular order, this is what I love:

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I love all of my in-laws.

I love to read. I love The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, The Mitford Books, everything by Marlena de Blassi, culinary fiction, anything about Mexico, Italy and France.

I love to curl up and watch TV with D: the Jets, Survivor, Amazing Race and Amazing Race Canada, Suits, Newsroom, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Homeland, House of Cards and House Hunters International (actually I watch this last one after D has instantly fallen asleep).

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I love artichokes, eggplant, potatoes, crusty bread, pork chops, lime, cilantro, truffles and  feta cheese.

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I love the people (friends) that I work for and with.

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I love to travel and am looking forward to one day seeing Prague, the Isle of Man, Tuscany, Spain and returning to Italy, Greece, Israel and France.

I love my husband. After 30 years, I still get excited to know that he is on his way home from work. He kisses me every morning as he gets out of bed even when I am still asleep and he kisses me each night before he instantly falls asleep. He writes me love notes and works diligently so that I know that I am cherished.

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I love my daughter and son-in-law and their parents and their siblings.

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I love the Wee One. Oh. how I love her! I have known what fierce love is like before but the love of a grandchildren is a wonderful mystery that I am still coming to understand.

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I love my Mom. I love her sense of humour. I love the pleasure that food gives her. I love her pride and passion for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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I love my sisters. They are and always have been, my best friends. They know everything about me-warts and all. They have helped us raise our family, traveled with me and share my passion for food.

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I love my brothers and miss the one we lost on earth, each and every day.

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I love that my siblings all still live in the same city and that their children and grandchildren live here too (with one exception but I love her just as intensely). I love that we want to be together at Lester Beach or on Isla Mujeres.

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I love Lester Beach. I love collecting heart shaped stones on the beach, sipping wine whilst watching the sun set, the communal bonfires, happy hours, dinners shared, eating freshly caught pickerel, walking in the woods, riding my turquoise bike, enormous breakfasts shared on the deck, the crackling fire in the woodstove and the cooling breezes which blow across our bed.

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I love Isla Mujeres. I love that it is a single plane ride away and that I can leave in the early morning and be there by lunch time. I love watching the sunrise over the water from my bed or wrapping up in a pareo, grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting to wait for its appearance. I love the locals and the fellow travelers that I have met there. I love a particular Mexican family that we have befriended. I love that they invite us to their home. I love Isla’s food! I love escaping to the warmth. I love collecting beach glass and the crashing waves. I love that the constellations look different there. I love the familiarity of being on the little island; of knowing where to fetch the staples for our temporary kitchen, which market stall has the best avocadoes and limes, where to buy the cheapest cervesas, Kahlua and rum. I love the turquoise sea.

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In fact, I love everything turquoise.

I love my five Godchildren.

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I love my bestie M, who does not live in Winnipeg but who whenever I speak to her or see her, feels like she is still just down the block.

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I love the Media Mavens-a group of woman, some of whom I have worked with for over 20 years.

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I love my foodie friends, in Manitoba, throughout Canada and the US.

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I love my church and my church family. I love the twenty year history that we have shared together, experiencing each other’s victories and defeats.

I love my neighbours. We watch out for each other and share our joys and tough times.

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I love my neighbourhood. I love the exceptional restaurants all within walking distance: Fusion Grill, Saucer’s Café, Kudara, Inferno’s, Pizzeria Gusto, Bonfire Bistro, Chew, Enoteca, Mona Lisa, Bernstein’s Deli.

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I love my city. I love the rivers and the parks and trails that lie adjacent to them. I love walking over the Provencher St. bridge, past the Canadian Human Rights Museum and into St. Boniface to hear French spoken and eat its amazing food.

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I love our little house. It is not luxurious, it is not pristine, it is not new. But it is cozy, comfortable, warm and well located. There is lots of room in the yard to host summer gatherings, tend to my perennial garden and have a little pond.

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I love this country. I love our gentleness, dignity, loyalty, diversity and how great we play hockey.

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I love our children. I love that they love to be with us. I love that they all live within 10 minutes of us. I could fill an entire blog post with all things I love about them but I will leave that for another day.

One thousand words in this 1000th post. Thank you for reading and your continued support.

Love-that is all.

 

The Celebration of the Life of a Mann

July17

I once wrote a cook book.  This was pre-computer days and I typed it on a IBM Selectric typewriter and it was difficult to hide my corrections made with white out.  You might say that it was a pretty transparent work.  Next I had a small number of copies covered with a sheet of construction paper and “spined”.  The title and dedication were on the cover.  “I Cook, Therefore I Am”.  I thought that the title was absolutely brilliant! Even in those days with a repertoire of Jean Parre, and Best of Bridge recipes, cooking for my loved ones, defined me. 

Yes, I love to cook but I will admit this:  I especially love to cook for an appreciative audience.  I am blessed that D and our children and their significant others are my biggest fans. But back in those days, and I am speaking of a time thirty years ago, I was friends with a man who I dubbed a “Famous Eater” in this same dedication.  He didn’t just enjoy good food, he loved everything about the act of eatingHis appreciation oozed out of him as you watched him eat.  His Caribbean blue eyes glinted, his musician’s hands gestured and his voice, that famous voice-praised.  Not with phrases like “oh, this is good” but with accolades that indicated the he understood why you had prepared it just so.  He got food.

The gift of this cookbook was at a wedding shower that I was hosting.  This man was marrying one of my best friends.  She was (is) a beautiful, vivacious woman but I had a grave concern.  She could not cook in those days.  But oh how she tried.  She wanted to love her new husband with gifts of food and so I decided to help her along.  And so I compiled this cookbook of easy recipes that I knew would please.  I loved them both so much that I wanted her to be able to successfully love him with the offering of food.

The next line of the dedication was this “A Collection of Recipes given to Trish on the occasion of her marriage to David Mann-A Famous Eater”.  I so clearly remember that in Trish’s surprise and excitement, she unwrapped the cookbook and read the dedication like this: “I cook, therefore I am a collection of recipes”.  I recall that we all giggled at her error and yet, I think that her statement is absolutely true.

I was the only female attendant at their wedding-their “Matron of Honour” (matron not maid, because I was married to D).  Trish told me yesterday, that she loves to look at the picture in their home of us all together.  She told me this yesterday, at the memorial service for her husband David.  He had succumbed to cancer of the esophagus.  The irony of this does not sit lightly with me.  Not only was it his voice that was the reason for our becoming acquainted (he was the morning man at Q 94 and I was the Marketing Director for The Keg ‘n Cleaver Restaurant) but his esophagus delivered the food that he delighted in, to nourish his body.

David loved Keg Steaks, but also 529 (where he and his family celebrated birthdays) and Rae and Jerry’s.  Rae and Jerry’s catered the refreshments at his memorial service yesterday.  In fact, they cater every celebration of life service at the church that we attend.  There was a time when I loved their fancy sandwiches but recently I only ever eat them when I am very sad.

I introduced David and Trish to each other.  My D was living in Toronto finishing his degree in foodservice and hospitality at Ryerson.  Trish traveled a lot with her work with Estee Lauder.  David and I often found ourselves together by default.  He once called me to say he had been loaned a motorcycle and wanted to drive to Lockport for a Skinner’s hotdog but it wouldn’t be the same without someone on the back of the bike and Trish was not available.  I was afraid of motorcycles as I had lost two acquaintances in separate accidents but somehow David talked me into it.  He promised me he would drive slowly. Liar. David loved speed.  He loved the wind in his hair.  At that time his car was a Scirocco, so named for a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe.  He was fond of quick acceleration times.  I chuckle when I think of this because Trish was the opposite.  As we raised our young children together, she would run alongside the toboggan as it slipped down the hill, for fear of injury to the kids.

D and I and David and Trish have not been close in recent years.  David was our financial planner and we decided that it would be best if we kept the relationship a professional one.  But it was also this:  I try to live my life without grudges but I allowed one to stand between me and Trish.  I believe that she has forgiven me.  I know that I have forgiven her.  David would have wanted this.  I have promised that I will contact her next week as she tries to get back to some normalcy in her life- a life without the father of her children, without the Famous Eater.

Kaths quote: All things ever after. -David Mann

Love-that is all.

What makes a great Dad

June16

I think a lot about my Dad on Father’s Day and what being a great Dad really means.

When I was 18 months old I contacted spinal meningitis and then shortly thereafter, the measles.  I understand that I spent weeks in the hospital on intravenous medications that I would attempt to pull out on my own, so the medical staff’s solution was to secure me into this handy little device that they borrowed from a different area of the hospital-a straight jacket.  Hospitals had different policies and approaches in those days, parents were restricted to the same visiting hours as everyone else and my parents were able to visit me for an hour in the afternoon and another hour in the evening.  They spent most of this time trying to coax me to eat as I was notoriously picky while a child (ironic).  I refused all hospital food and my parents would sneak up bologna and 7 up during their visits.  I have been told that there was some concern during this time, that I may die as other children had succumbed to the condition, while still others were left deaf or blind or with mobility issues.  I survived unscathed, with the exception of night terrors while I was growing up, a fear of men (ironic) and an exceptional close relationship with my Daddy.

Years later, I have married a man who has many qualities of my Dad and we have two beautiful children.  Daughter #1 is coming down with what we though was a flu so D and J1 head down to Minneapolis for a short vacation without us.  My Dad helps me nurse her back to health.  We were told to get any calories into her as we could because her violent vomiting seems to have subsided.  Dad comes over with fish sticks and freezies and suggests that he stays while she has a nap and I try to take a bath.  While I am in the tub, I hear her give a little cry from the couch in the family room.  I go to her to find that she is completely paralysed.  My Dad follows in his car while an ambulance whisks us to the hospital.  Daddy sits in the corner of the emergency room while murmurs of meningitis and brain tumors are being discussed with me by the doctors.  I remember him saying something which I could not make out.  When I asked what he said, he spoke up “Oh God, not again”.

After a day of various tests and a ct scan, D and J1 leave our car in Minneapolis and fly home.  My Mom and Dad are with me when he arrives and we get the news that there is no tumour on the brain.  Our beautiful, smart and perfectly healthy 5 year old has meningoencephalitis, a combination of swelling of the meninges (the tissue that surrounds the spinal column) and the brain.  They will not find out for a number of weeks what has caused the infection.  They set up a bed for me in the hospital room and indicate a chair for D.  That was the only night that I tried to sleep beside her.  I was pregnant with our youngest and our little 3 year old son was waiting for me at home.  D slept in a chair for a month by her bedside, would shower in the morning and then head to work for the day (we owned our own restaurant at the time) until one especially kind, family doctor encouraged D to go home with me and sleep in our bed.  He reassured D that they would be there every time Daughter #1 needed something through the night.  My Mom and Dad were there every day for afternoon visiting hours to bring little gifts of encouragement for our daughter and food for me.

I get really annoyed when I hear the phrase: “It is the thought that counts”.  My friends, it is not the “thought”, it is the act of being there every day; it is sleeping in a chair, it is “action”, not “thought”.  For me and for my children: action and devotion is what makes a great Dad.

How do I honour my husband on Father’s Day?  It is hard, no-impossible, for him to know what he means to me and our family, so I do what you all do.  I buy him a weed-eater and a nice pair of shorts and I fix him a dinner which he requests.  But then the next morning I am compelled to write something to share with the world.  He is the BEST Dad I know and I was loved by my own BEST Dad too.

Kath’s quote: “The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road.” ~Angelo Patri

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Love-that is all.

Good-Bye to Our Family Home

June13

One day last September, our Mom took ill and had to make a visit to the hospital.  Little did we or she know that she would never return to the home where she had lived for 58 years.  At the onset of her illness, we were so focused upon ensuring that she got better, I for one never really thought about the house. Mom isn’t completely settled into a new place yet.  She went from the Concordia Hospital to Deer Lodge and is now at the Misrecordia Hospital waiting for a space to come open for her at Concordia Place.  But it was apparent, pretty much from the start, that Mom wouldn’t be able to return to her home.  So we’ve been busy over this past winter and spring getting the house ready to sell to another family.  Possession date is July 1 and we have been taking turns spit polishing it up for the new family.  This past week, I tackled washing the windows and had what might have been my final walk through.

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This is the bathroom that 8 of us shared when my 5 siblings and my parents all lived together at the house.  This sometimes meant drawing the shower curtain if you were in the bathtub, so that someone else could use the toilet.  My fondest memory was of perching on the toilet to watch my Daddy shave in the morning.  He was a careful shaver and loved the ritual, mixing up a warm lather with his real horse hair brush and shaving so close that his skin looked blue to me.  I can recreate the feel of his wiskerless face against my cheek now, even though he has been in heaven for 17 years.

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This was the room that my two oldest brothers shared until a new bedroom was built for them in the basement.  They had two single beds that each straddled a wall.  On Saturday mornings, my twin brother and sister and I used to wake them up and then climb under the covers with them.  We would have pirate ship fights with them and toss all our stuffed animals back and forth and take hostages of each other.  After the boys were moved into their new room downstairs, this became my very own room-quite a feat with 8 people living in a 4 bedroom house.  Perhaps this is the reason why my family always teases me that I was spoiled.  I will admit it, I felt spoiled (and deeply loved).  Somehow my Mom and Dad found ways to make us all feel this way.

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This is the hallway from the bedrooms to the kitchen and living room.  Before I had my own room, the twins and I all slept together in a double bed.  I don’t remember there being an issue with space, but I do recall how it was so hard to fall asleep sometimes with two little monkeys in the bed with me.  We would giggle and have so much fun, until…….we would hear my Dad’s feet hit the hallway floor coming towards our room to tell us to hush up and go to sleep.  As soon as we heard that first foot fall, we would suppress our giggles and pretend we were sleeping, but we weren’t fooling our Dad.

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For many years the only TV in the house was in the living room and I remember watching Bugs Bunny cartoons at lunch time and Bonanza and the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights.  I also recall “reserving” the TV to tune into my favourites of the Paddy Duke Show and then the Flying Nun.  Christmas morning was so exciting in this room with heaps of presents everywhere and Christmas cards hung on strings adorning the walls.

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Neil Campbell School was a half block down this back lane and from grade one on, we all made the trek on our own.  I remember being instructed to run as fast as I could (for me that was never fast at all-bottom heavy, you know) down this lane during the Bay of Pigs crisis. It seemed like only days later that we saw the announcement on TV of the assassination of President Kennedy while home for lunch hour.  A day or so after that our naughty dog Pepita, who liked to chase cars, was run over by a truck in front of our house while I was across the street borrowing a cup of sugar at the Dyer’s.  So there was sadness too.

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And last but not least, this was the kitchen, the heart and soul of our home.  Mom always had a pot of soup or stew on the go and I learned how to make cinnamon buns and pinch perogy edges, standing at the kitchen table.  Sometimes dinner was pancakes or spaghetti with tomato soup poured on top.  Other times though, supper was steaks pan-fried in butter, thick and juicy pork chops and more corn on the cob than you can dream of eating.  Mom would spend all day making doughnuts to feed the paper boys of the neighbourhood because the bin where they collected their papers had been placed on our back drive.  My Dad loved to cook too and made amazing baked ham and pizza with “thin crust” before anyone ever thought about thin crust pizza.

If the walls could talk, they would speak of constant cooking and consuming, TV shows and record playing, people coming and going after school and hockey games and drumming gigs and theatre school, of reading books and naps on the couch and my Dad who always watched TV by lying right in front of it on the floor.  The walls soaked up all of our giggles and laughter but also the tears of heart-breaking sorrows and losses.  It was a good house.  It was our house.

Kath’s quote:  “Love grows in small spaces”.  Quoted from some country song I heard long ago.

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Love that is all.

 

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