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My 2017 Christmas Letter

December19

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The Wee One at Lester Beach

We kicked off 2017 in one of our favourite places-Lester Beach Manitoba. Our little beach house is exactly that-a house to use when it is beach weather. For New Year’s, we were all invited to join Sister #2 and her husband at their Lester Beach home which we teasingly call Reschmajal.

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In February Sister #3 and I arranged a cyber-wedding shower for our niece and my Goddaughter in Australia. Sister #2 did all the shopping on line, had it delivered to the Mother of the Groom, who then wrapped it all up. We watched via Skype as the bride opened her gifts.

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We also celebrated a couple of special birthdays in February. The first birthday of the youngest of the Wee Ones. Pictured here with her beloved Poppa. It was one of the last events that was held in the big old character house that we had purchased in Wolseley. J1, J2, D and I decided to sell it soon after and the process occupied a great deal of time in the late winter and early spring but it did sell in 27 days and we were very pleased with the venture.

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Three of our brood turned 30 this year, commencing with the Frenchman. We used the occasion to have our yearly feed of ribs which D labours over for a couple of days.

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In March before we headed south for our annual sojourn to Isla Mujeres, we attended another family shower. This one was for the fiancé of our nephew. They also have a place at Lester beach, almost across the road from us. She was introduced to our nephew by our son J1, so it was particularly special for all of us.

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The wedding of Danielle and Dylan was special in so many ways: 85 of us assembled on Isla Mujeres from China, Australia, Europe and North America. There were numerous events planned and we got to know friends and family of the couple in a deeper and lovely way.

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The time was also very special for Sisters #2 & #3 and Brother #3 as we got to share our precious place with others we love. Here are most of us in our family picture.

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Our little sugar plum ferry awaiting the wedding procession.

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I was particular blessed that the couple asked me to officiate. It was my first time; I loved every moment and I want the world to know that I am available to officiate at other destination weddings as well!

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We stayed on the island for 10 days after the wedding and spent a lovely time of rejuvenation.

Upon our arrival home J1 J2 and the Wee Ones had moved in with us while the house referred to above was staged, sold, emptied and they went through the stressful process of finding a new home. It was lovely co-inhabiting for that while. Poppa has always been the girls’ favourite but Glamma made some in roads too and it was a time I will cherish.

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In May, J2 turned 30 too. We had a dinner for her at the lake.

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The Wee Ones gave me lots of motivation to recuperate as quickly as possible.

At the end of June I was scheduled to have my gall bladder removed but the morning of the surgery (in fact after they had started my iv) they sent me home due to a cold that I could not shake. They rescheduled me in early July and I remembered being relieved that I was going to have all of this behind me. Little did I know that the routine elective laparoscopic surgery would turn out to be such an ordeal in deed. After needing a blood transfusion (perhaps my liver had been nipped) and having a collapsed lung (perhaps my lung had been nipped) and spending almost 3 weeks in hospital, my recuperation took the rest of the summer. I started the journey by walking past one house in each direction on our block. I am happy to say that by the end of the summer, I could walk the 5 kms to East Grand Beach from Lester Beach.

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By the end of August D joined me for a week at the lake. We slipped into our old routines of tennis (D), movies, books, crosswords, coffee, tea, happy hours and suppers on the deck. The lake gets pretty quiet at that time and we love having the beach to ourselves.

September brought J1’s 30th birthday. (I hope we did something nice for him because I can’t find a picture of it). It was also time to get back on track as far as my work was concerned and my wellness routine by returning to the gym 3-4 days per week.

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In October we divided Thanksgiving weekend between a wedding at Hecla Island

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and dinner at Reschmajal.

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In October I got to attend the Food Bloggers Canada Conference in Ottawa- a city I hadn’t visited since I was 17.

November and December we have snuggled up to watch the Jets (in person and on TV), Netflix and get ready for Christmas and the time ahead. One week tomorrow we leave for a family wedding in Phoenix and the day after I return home we leave again, this time for Portugal with good friends.

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The Wee Ones as you can likely see are happy and growing smarter and more beautiful with each day. Boo seen here, (our youngest-married to the Frenchman) has diverted from International Development Studies to her new job of General Manager of Little Brown Jug- a new craft Brewery in the Exchange area of Winnipeg. The Frenchman continues with his work on the front lines at Siloam Mission.

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J1 pictured here with J2 also works at Little Brown Jug as a Brewer. He is so happy to have turned an interest and hobby into his life’s work. (I personally am amazed at how well they get on together). J1 and J2 have had their hands full with the house move but are happy as larks in their new Wolseley home. They are walking distance to the Wee One’s school, parks and good friends.

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Daughter #1 is just about to present her final thesis for her Masters Degree in Disability Studies as well as working on a research project this past fall. She is uncertain which direction her career will go next. She is considering her options as she wraps her university studies up.

D is a busy guy between being the world’s #1 Poppa, heading up the procurement department of an enormous flower business and serving as the People’s Warden at church. He is happiest on the tennis court, travelling with me or when our family is all assembled either for Sunday dinners in the city or on the deck up at the lake.

I continue to plug along with the Media Chef (my media buying company) and have just the right number of clients to keep me busy and some cash flowing. I am grateful that my food and travel blogging continues to parlay into other opportunities. I am happiest near a body of water with my camera and a journal to record my thoughts.

If you are reading this, you are dear to me in some way. I do wish you peace, love and joy over Christmas and always.

Kath’s quote:  “Christmas is a bridge. We need bridges as the river of time flows past. Today’s Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.”–Gladys Taber

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Love never fails.

 

 

Duluth 2017

November14

There have been years when we have travelled to Europe in September/October. In the years that we have not, my husband gets itchy feet. He feels the need to get away in the fall even if it is for a long weekend. On Remembrance Day 2016 we “discovered” Duluth Minnesota, enjoyed ourselves so much, that we decided on an encore trip this past weekend.

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We were accompanied by our son-in-law (known in this space as the Frenchman) and our youngest daughter Boo.

Since Boo (and her brother) works in the local craft beer business, our family is very beer oriented. Along with the Frenchman’s objective of hitting up all of the trading companies, my wanting to get started on Christmas shopping and D and Boo wanting to check out as many tasting rooms and brew pubs as possible, we were in for a full weekend. What we did have consensus on, was that it was the last weekend of Restaurant Week for the Downtown Duluth Restaurants and we were determined to visit as many of these on that list too.

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We were delighted with our Air B n B, a two bedroom house perched high on Observation Hill in Duluth. We did have a tricky time finding it and accessed the home from a back lane that was not in the greatest shape. D and the Frenchman headed out for some breakfast supplies while Boo and I got ready for the evening. Once the fellas returned home we made the decision to let someone else do the driving.

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There was snow in the forecast and taking on the vertical streets was no easy fete even on bare concrete. Besides fare to downtown was only $10!

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I zoomed in on the drawbridge that is the symbol of the city from our bedroom window (hence the grid of the screen).

We started with some shopping in the Canal Park area and then scooched over for dinner at Bellisio Restaurant & Wine Bar.

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Since the majority of the weekend was to be devoted to beer, we decided to try Bellisio’s wine flights. D chose a Tuscan flight and I a Merlot one.

Last year the Downtown Restaurant offers included soup, salad and an entrée at Bellisio’s. This year it was limited to the entrée and a dessert.

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D chose the pan-fried pickerel (called walleye in Minnesota)

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and I the chicken pancetta which was lovely and light with a broth sauce.

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I had a taste of the delicious tiramisu but knew that it would put me over the top.

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We stopped first at the Hoops Brewery, but the service was lacking and no one ever greeted us or took our order so we meandered instead to the Canal Park Brewery. They had a restaurant license and the food being delivered to surrounding tables looked exceptional. There were some interesting beer tastes, particularly the IPAs which were very distinctive.

The next morning the guys walked down the hill to fetch Starbucks coffee. We could hear them when they arrived back as they were really huffing and puffing from the exertion of the vertical terrain.

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We split up to do more shopping on Saturday morning but reconvened at lunch time taking in another featured restaurant-Toasty’s. The restaurant space was kind of dark and not terribly inspiring but the food was terrific. We started with French onion soup made with one of the local beers and then moved onto cheesy BLTs.

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For dessert we enjoyed an interesting take on bread pudding.

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Bent Paddle was our afternoon destination. D had taking their beer tour the year prior. If recollected accurately, Bent Paddle was the brewery that kick started the craft beer industry in Duluth.  The rather large facility was absolutely packed on a Saturday afternoon with many tables playing board games. The number of craft breweries matched Winnipeg’s number but remember that Duluth is 1/10th the size of our fair city!

We took a breather over snacks at our Air B n B, deciding that a house instead of a hotel room was the way to go, especially at a time when you want to gather together. The living room was so comfortable and preferable to sitting on beds in a hotel.

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We had one last brewery to check out so we determined our supper destination based on walking distance to The Blacklist, as we were cabbing it again. The Black Water Lounge was dark and cozy but we thought that the servers wearing bustiers deserved a change in uniforms. The low lighting made photographs impossible. We were quite delighted with lobster bites, blue cheese stuffed shrimp and a huge filet of smoked salmon. These we complemented by signature martinis.

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The Blacklist is Duluth’s newest brewery and was also packed. Unfortunately the live band was not conducive to visiting, so we stayed long enough for another couple of flights and headed “home”. In spite of tasting some very distinctive beer, we concluded that Winnipeg’s local brews were just as fine, if not more so.

Back at the house, D watched the Phoenix vs Jets game and filled me in on the score in the morning. After another jaunt to Starbucks on foot, we completed another round of shopping.

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Since we were no longer downtown we were just looking for a spot with wholesome food. Grandma’s Saloon and Grill  on Miller Hill did the trick.

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D selected the chicken pot pie that was so huge, he requested a to go container and we finished it later in the car.

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I decided to get back to my regular eating habits and chose this chicken and wild rice salad (besides I knew that there would be kettle chips in the car for the journey home). D was able to catch the first 1/4 of the Vikings game on TV and then the rest of it on the radio in the car home. Duluth was such a distance though that we also had the time to listen to the Bomber play off game too. Calculating the tally of our favourite teams: Jets win, Vikings win and Bomber lost. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Kath’s quote: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy“. -Benjamin Franklin

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

Food Bloggers Canada Conference 2017-Part Three

November8

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Our final morning started off with a nutritious breakfast of a spinach egg and red pepper patty and pretty fruit.

The morning was filled with general sessions and then Meliisa and Ethan the founders of Food Bloggers Canada took the stage. Although this may sound ridiculous to some (including my fellow food bloggers), the highlight of every conference for me is the location announcement of the next year’s conference. During Melissa and Ethan’s concluding comments, they announced that 2018’s conference would be a cross country road trip! Since the logistics are not yet work out, dates and locations will determine where and if I can travel to the conference. The good news though is that there will be a stop in Winnipeg and I am excited about helping where I can with the planning and showing off our fabulous city.

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By this time it was our final lunch sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Satiated, I decided that it was time to get out for a walk to see Ottawa again. I had only visited once before when I was a part of a government sponsored student exchange program.

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You can likely see how struck I was by the beauty of the city.

I didn’t have a plane to catch until supper time Monday so good friend and fellow blogger Marlene and I became roomies and decided on supper. See El Camino link here.

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The next day we did even more eating, starting with Good Eats and Wilfred’s at the Chateau Laurier. in addition to more chatting and more walking around the city including By Ward Market.

The learning and networking that I get to do on these conferences is motivation enough to attend. But in truth, it is the friendships that keep me coming back year after year. Carol, Kim, Joanne and Marlene, we met because of a mutual love of food but it is simply love that bonds us now.

Kath’s quote: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ― George Bernard Shaw

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Love never fails.

 

Food Bloggers Canada Conference-Ottawa 2017, Part Two

November7

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Day Two commenced with a satisfying breakfast sponsored by Ontario apples.

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I chose yoghurt with an array of fruit and nuts and a hearty muffin. I was set for a fabulous day.

Her Royal Highness (in the Canadian Culinary world at least)-Elizabeth Baird was our key note speaker. I was captivated by her every word and fascinated by her wealth of Canadian Food History so appropriate for our conference celebrating Canada’s 150th.

Soon after was our first breakout session. I had selected the group led by Thrive 360’s Zannat Reza and Will Lamont. I knew Zannat from previous conferences and Will remembered that I had taken on the food-styling for his client (at that time) Canadian Milk Produces and their cross country cheese winners.

I couldn’t miss out on Heather Travis otherwise known as Heather in Heels and her presentation. I first worked with Heather when she made me a Canadian Beef Ambassador. I hung onto her every word.

I also had the opportunity to hear the ensights of Laura-Jane Koers of The Rawatarian.

By then it was lunch…how did that happen? Lunch was sponsored by Half Your Plate. Their eating philosophy is that you should try to fill half your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Even though I find this a challenge sometimes, it was so easy at the conference.

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The zucchini spirals and fruit selection made up half my lunch consumption. I knew that I needed some protein to focus for the afternoon and sautéed shrimp and ahi tuna did the trick.

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I couldn’t ignore the date squares called matrimonial cake on the prairies.

At Canadian Food Bloggers in 2016 I toured Ontario farms with Farm and Food Care.

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I welcomed the opportunity to meet with more farmers directly. Having come from an Ag family, I have so much respect for Canadian Farmers.

Before heading out for an afternoon walk, I popped into the Cookina Popcorn Bar. I have many Cookina baking and roasting mats at home and was pleased to see that they also have cooking packs for a variety of uses including popcorn!

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At our dinner that evening we had assigned seating. I was sat with a variety of lovely folks including my old friend  from Canola Camp Mairlyn Smith and Carol Harrison.  Ironically, Carol and I go even further back then Mairlyn and we had tried and failed to connect all weekend. One of those serendipitous occasions.

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Dinner was the lovely salad above, a cleansing sorbet and a hearty salmon and potato pie.

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I intentionally saved room for dessert but how could I choose from theses masterpieces from Holland’s Cake and Shake. In the end the butter tart cake was the winner.

Our evening’s entertainment was home grown. Fellow bloggers Lindsay and Dana who recently launched their Feast Cookbook were in the house. I was impressed with their gumption to eat their way across Canada. But even better was their response to a question from the room: “What place was your biggest surprise”? With careful thought they said “Winnipeg-their culinary scene is amazing”!

Kath’s quote: “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” ― Ruth Reichl

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

Wilfred’s at the Chateau Laurier-Ottawa

November2

On our final afternoon in Ottawa, we walked to the ByWard market and strolled around there. In spite of pledging to myself that I would get my eating back on track, I had to order my very first Beaver Tail: one of those Canadian food items that takes their place with Nanaimo Bars from BC and butter tarts from the prairies. As I approached the kiosk I got wafts of a cinnamony sugar aroma and knew that whatever I was about to eat, could not be a bad thing. Beaver Tails come in a variety of enhanced versions, but since it was my first foray, I wanted to try the authentic deal.

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It turns out that a Beaver Tail is a flat, rounded item made from a donut-like batter that is deep friend and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. The taste reminded me of mini-donuts that are a favourite of D’s and can be purchased at Manitoba’s Red River Exhibition or in our own version of the ByWard Market at the Forks in Winnipeg.

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In spite of taking the time to photograph beautiful raw products

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and seeing a number of taverns and pubs offering classic fare, we were not certain where in the market to have lunch.

At my suggestion, we pranced over to the Chateau Laurier. Reminding me of Winnipeg’s Hotel Fort Garry or Saskatoon’s Bessborough Hotel, it was a lovely treat to walk through the grand lobby en route to the dining room. We took on an air of importance in spite of both being in blue jeans and comfortable walking shoes and me sporting a full leg brace as my torn meniscus had been acting up. Across from us were a couple of very sophisticated and well dressed women, I felt like a bit like a bumpkin in their presence. I don’t think my friend Marlene even noticed.

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But to the food! My lunch date chose a salmon burger and even before she took a bite we were duly impressed. The bun had been branded with a “W” for Wilfred Laurier, I presumed and then when I viewed the insignia from another angle I realised that it was an “F” as the Chateau Laurier is a Fairmont hotel.

Marlene actually did not eat the bun but tucked into the juicy looking salmon patty with relish. (Meaning she was enthusiastic about tasting it not that it was served with the relish condiment). In fact, the burger had a Mexican twist and was accompanied by guacamole, pico de gallo and crème fresh.

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I in turn was very impressed with my chickpea fritters appetizer. They were beautifully presented on baby greens with a lovely splotch of parsley lemon puree, tahini emulsion, crumbled feta and pita chips (also crumbled). I couldn’t make out the dressing on the greens but it was satisfyingly pungent and complex.

We washed everything down with a couple of Blanche Chamblays which I was certain was a locally produced craft beer. I was showing off to my son who is a brewer by sending him a picture of our beer choice. He set me straight on the origins of the beer which was delicious (wherever it was from).

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Since I had my dessert before lunch, we set out again, seeing the last lovely vistas of Parliament Hill.

Kath’s quote: “True patriot love in all thy sons command.”

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Love never fails.

 

 

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