Tag Archives: Canada

My Two Cents Worth

I observed the most interesting thing the other week. I was waiting to meet someone at the neighbourhood grocery store, King Kullens, here in Hampton Bays, and I watched two gentlemen walking all over the parking lot looking very closely on the ground for something. They walked back and forth, crossing over the areas that the other man had travelled, and kept on with great determination and concentration.

Curiosity finally got the best of me and, when I had finished my business with the person I was meeting, I asked what they were looking for and if I could help. They very politely declined my assistance and explained that they were retired fraternal twins who have lived in this area all their lives and that they walked every morning looking for pennies. They couldn’t go home until they each found one, preferably heads up for good luck, and this hunt became their daily exercise. Both of them had already walked over six miles that morning and there was no end in sight as neither had found their penny yet. What a great tradition they share and a fun way to challenge one another and get exercise at the same time. On my way home, I saw them again at the Carvel ice cream store parking lot – still looking for their day’s pennies.

Pennies are foreign to me now as Canada took them out of circulation in 2013 end everything is rounded to the nearest nickel. An astrologist once told me that whenever I found money on the ground, it was my deceased Dad sending me a message. I always smile when I find a coin, of whatever denomination, as I do think of my precious Dad every time.

I walk past the grocery store parking lot often on my long walks and, I have to admit, that I’m often littering as I walk – giving my two cents’ worth to the twins or whoever else might find them.

The Tradition of Turkey Soup

The Tradition of Turkey Soup

We cooked our first turkey in Cabo on Christmas Day. I should have used the wood-fired oven, but I’m still learning how to use it properly and didn’t want to risk ruining our precious bird.

We shared a lovely meal with Ron’s brother, David, and good friends, Andrea, Pablo, their four month-old baby Tobias, her friend, Giovanna, and our long-time friend, Scott Parsons. It was a VERY traditional dinner: turkey with bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, carrots, green beans, cranberry sauce (with Serrano chile, of course!), a Mexican variation on Waldorf Salad (thanks to Andrea – it was delicious!) and Tres Leches Cake for dessert.

Meanwhile, a few thousand miles away in Canada, my precious Mom came out of holiday dinner retirement and was preparing a very similar meal for my family. It’s been years since she (or I, for that matter) has prepared a turkey dinner – a meal that she has always enjoyed making. In order to make the undertaking manageable, she prepared everything she possibly could well in advance of Christmas Day so that she could enjoy herself and not feel overwhelmed. The dinner was a GREAT success and I’m so proud of her. At 87 she’s not afraid to take on new challenges and push herself to do more.

We sent lots of leftovers home with our guests and still had plenty left for several meals in our home. On Christmas night, I stripped off all of the meat from the turkey carcass and made a huge pot of soup broth.

Two days later, I made turkey vegetable soup and used an amazing array of organic vegetables and herbs from our local market: onions, celery, carrots, sweet potato, yellow squash, green beans, broccoli, kale, parsley, thyme, sage, and oregano.

I made a BIG pot of soup and we will be enjoying it for a few more days. Almost as good as the original turkey dinner, it’s a tradition that makes the holidays complete.



Ungava – A Uniquely Canadian Product

Ungava – A Uniquely Canadian Product

My Mom and I were shopping for wine the other week and we were checking out what tequilas the store had in stock (my Mom LOVES tequila and together we toast every full moon with it, in person or by phone). The person in the store asked if we had tried Ungava Canadian Premium Gin (I know – how did we get from wine to tequila to GIN!). I love a gin and tonic when it’s really hot outside and had not yet tried this brand.


The simple and clean-cut Ungava bottle evokes the purity and chill of Arctic ice

The clerk at the liquor store was obviously very convincing as we ended up walking out with a bottle. We sat down to play a long awaited game or two of dominos that afternoon and poured ourselves a gin and tonic. I have to say that this gin, which I had put in the freezer so was ice cold when we made our drinks, was absolutely delicious. Ungava’s unusual bright yellow color and distinctive aroma are derived from six rare botanicals that are native to the Arctic region: Nordic juniper, wild rose hips, cloudberry, crowberry, Arctic blend and Labrador tea. These botanicals are handpicked and steeped in the traditional Inuit way and the result is a deliciously well-balanced, fragrant and delicious product.

The unique script and characters on the bottle is Inuktitut, the language of the inuit

The unique script and characters on the bottle is Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit

Ungava gin recommends serving with a wedge of grapefruit on ice, but do be careful as it has a surprising alcoholic strength of 43.1%. We tried it with chilled tonic, with and without a squeeze of fresh lime, and preferred it without citrus as the flavours are so unique and balanced. Perfect for an ice-cold martini, this unique handcrafted gin is definitely worth searching out – even if you have to come to Canada to find it!

Ahhh….The Amazing Fragrance of Lilacs

Lilacs on my birthday  have been a tradition as long as I can remember and no birthday seems complete without them.  Yesterday was no exception.

My precious Mom was concerned that the lilacs would be finished by the time I get back to Canada towards the end of this month.  Bless her resourcefulness, as she took her iPad out to my favourite dark purple lilac tree and took some pictures to ensure I would enjoy their beauty on my day.


Ron managed to find a fresh lilac bouquet at the Bridgehampton Farmers’ Market on Friday: their exquisite fragrance fills my heart with memories.


One of my favourite memories is of a card I received on my 50th birthday from my dear friend, Bettina. She had traveled to Italy with me to celebrate this milestone and she made the time there incredibly special. Outside our villa in San Gimignano was an archway of the most beautifully scented jasmine, of which Bettina picked a bouquet and had waiting for me when I awoke on my birthday. No lilacs that year, but the jasmine was an elegant substitute.


Everything Bettina did was very special and appreciated, but the card she found and gifted me could not have been more perfect. She purchased the card years before and remembered to pull it out of her stash before we left Calgary. It was one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me and I’ll never forget its significance. Here are the words from that special card:

On the porch,

Many years from now…


You will sit on the swing

I will sit on the chair,

And the fragrance of lilacs

Will hang in the air


I will tell you a story

I’ve told you before,

We will laugh (like the last time)

And tell a few more


Then perhaps we will say it,

And perhaps we will not,

But both of our old hearts

Will be thinking this thought


That it’s good to be known,

And it’s good to be there,

Where the fragrance of lilacs

Hangs in the air


Ahhh…the amazing fragrance of lilacs.

Spring Cleaning

Once per year in the springtime, the residents of Santa Clara, California, have an opportunity to rid their homes of unwanted and unused items. These items are set at the curb and anyone and everyone is welcome to comb through to see if there’s anything there they want. It is, quite literally, a city-wide garage sale, but everything is free. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure, after all.

It’s quite a sight to see and absolutely amazing what people throw away. It literally evidences how material our society is and that we are all victims of overt consumerism. We all have too much “stuff” and purging and passing on to others who can use it is good for the soul. This program, called the Spring Clean-Up Pick-Up, was introduced in the late 1950s and has been operating very successfully ever since.


Year round, Santa Clara, set in the heart of Silicon Valley, provides curb-side trash, organic waste and blended recycling pick up and the citizens are huge supporters of their recycling program. Big bins are provided for each of the three types of waste and the citizens faithfully move them to the curb-side and back to their yards every week. Santa Clara also sweeps its streets once per week, owns its own utilities (except gas), and has the lowest taxes in the Valley – very impressive.

The city allows the once-per-year spring cleaning at a minimal cost of $3.00 per month for its citizens. The garbage trucks come by and pick up whatever is left after the treasure hunting is complete. It’s an amazing concept that could be replicated in cities and towns across the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world.