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.

 

 

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The Cottage Bakery

December18

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There are two good reasons to visit The Cottage Bakery and Café: one is to be a part of the Cottage Bakery legacy which dates back to 1932 and the other is to savour their tasty fare. The history of the Bakery has been carefully written onto a large chalkboard which takes up a great deal of wall space. Both my lunch date and I read the entire history and at first I wondered why others in the café were not. With the bakery being close to a high school, all of the other patrons were regular customers, having seen the message many, many times.

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I chose the Mediterranean pesto Panini melt and broccoli cheddar Soup. The gal serving us indicated that she had made the soup herself that very morning. I felt that I would be insulting her cooking if I didn’t taste it. The crunchy Panini was started with a chicken breast, roasted peppers and cheese (of course). What was unusual about the Panini was the inclusion of what I thought was an olive tapenade (which originates from the south of France), as opposed to a basil pesto. I am quite fond of the pungent tastes of a tapenade so was quite content. I also appreciated the crispy Panini which occurs when just the right amount of time and pressure is added to the Panini maker.

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My lunch date also chose the soup and a chicken burger which looked to be on special that day. It too started with a chicken breast, coated and deep fried in this case, and was also adorned with cheese (unmelted).

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Even though I don’t typically indulge in dessert, especially at lunch time, we were lunching in a bakery so of course we had to sample something! We decided upon splitting a date square. In Manitoba and other places on the prairies the date square is called matrimonial cake. I tried researching the roots of the wedding reference unsuccessfully. But I did come across the pun that “many dates lead to matrimony”. Sounds logical to me!

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The Cottage Bakery and Café is located at 1382 Pembina Highway at Dowker Avenue. It is currently owned by Peyman and Ronak Esfehani. They have an all day menu available and are open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am until 6 pm. Saturday they close at 5 pm and Sunday they are open from 9 am until 5 pm. They are wheelchair accessible.

Kath’s quote: “If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation”. -Regina Brett


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Love never fails.

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Christmas Party in a Box

December15

When Christmas comes it is so lovely to be able to carve out some extra time with good friends. Sometimes this is hard to do when one of your besties has a medical job where she is on call on a regular basis. With some advance planning though we were able to pull it off.

We were celebrating a Christmas birthday as well as exchanging Christmas gifts. The festivities were planned to take place at the home of one friend who has recently had knee surgery. By bringing supper and gifts to her place, she was able to be comfortable and stay put.

We had thrown around some ideas for a simple supper and then I struck upon the solution. I had been invited to the annual “party in a box” hosted by the Manitoba Chicken Producers the evening before. D was given instructions to stay out of the boxed goodies that I stacked up and brought home. As a result of his self-control, I was able to supply three wonderful chicken appetizers for the evening. In fact, we enjoyed the appetizers with a festive salad adorned with roasted sweet potatoes, goat cheese and cranberries and were delighted with our light supper.

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Blue Moon Chicken Bites (recipe link here) were delectable chicken meatballs that we dunked into an easy to assemble mixture of hot sauce, ranch and blue cheese dressing.

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A second dish was Curried Chicken & Cashew Bites  where chicken breasts were slowly roasted in cream and then tossed in mango chutney and a coating of crushed cashews.

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My favourite were Chicken Tartlets topped with Cranberry Salsa.

As we assembled our plates of chicken treats and salad we congratulated ourselves on our festive meal that was also wholesome and nutritious. We saved our calories for dessert which I also had been gifted the evening before.

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Christmas sugar cookies had been beautifully decorated by High Tea Bakery. We each chose one to go with another treat of Bernand Callebaut chocolates.

We didn’t linger at the table long because we had presents, presents and more presents to exchange and open.

Clean up was a breeze and I packed up the leftovers so that D could indulge in the tastes he had resisted the previous evening.

Kath’s quote: “The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things”. -Thomas S. Monson

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Love never fails.

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Isla Mujeres 2017 Trip Report-Day 11

December7

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This never gets tired.

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D has walked into town and I am contemplating the day. The breeze has died down and there are no clouds. Might be a hot one! To my surprise D has discovered how much he likes beachcombing saying that it is both relaxing and good exercise! I joined him for a while yesterday.

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D made his fabulous ham omelets for brunch.

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We were kicking around possibilities for the day when Boo & the Frenchman texted saying that they would love to come over again to sit in the shade and watch the waves. We went to fetch them in our golf cart and did exactly that.

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D made cocktails. He and I were too hungry to chase down sunset so we went right to Brisas Grill. It was a busy place and we were lucky to get a table when we did. D had grouper and cilantro sauce and I had seafood pasta in a white wine sauce. We did not think that it was as good as when they were on the beach. We were home in time for a glass of wine and Suits on Netflix.

Kath’s quote: “When you make an omelet, as when you make love, affection counts for more than technique”.-Isabel Allende

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Love never fails.

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Isla Mujeres 2017 Trip Report-Day 10

December6

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We were awake for a gorgeous sunrise.

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One of our many Isla traditions is taking pouty face pictures of each other at the ferry terminal.

We scouted (in our golf cart) into town to see Sister #2, my BIL and nephew off

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and then went back again to shop for breakfast.

Later we returned again to fetch another in law and her sister from Centro to took them to Luna d’Miel for a breakfast of ham and eggs.

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The town was quiet that morning.

After breakfast we took the ladies on an island spin and ran into Joyce of Bob and Joyce. She had us in to see her kitchen reno.

We whiled away the afternoon in switching out between hammock, chair and shade.

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For Happy Hour and to help us consume all our booze we went in the golf cart and fetched Boo and the Frenchman. D made kahluas and margaritas and the Frenchman became a very happy tequila man.

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We finished off our chips and dip and mango salsa and then took off in the cart to across the airport strip to watch the sunset.

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Once the beautiful display was over, we drove into Colonias to Bastos for Burgers Especiale and then home for a wine night cap.

Kath’s quote: “Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius”.-Matthew McConaughey

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Love never fails.

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