mr_noodlesCould you live on a food budget of $5 a day? Could I? That’s the challenge I am setting for myself for the month of November.

Why?

There are a myriad of reasons. But it all started with a package of Mr. Noodles. Actually, many MANY packages of Mr. Noodles.

I was helping out at the Whitehorse Food Bank recently, sorting through mounds and mounds of donated food. There was Kraft Dinner, instant rice and pasta packets, canned fruit and veggies…and hundreds of packets of Mr. Noodles. I remarked to a colleague that while this food might fill bellies, it certainly wasn’t what I would consider nutritionally sound, and it was likely pretty low on the enjoyment scale.

At the same time, I was hearing comments both in the media and in my own community about the high cost of organic food. I belong to the Potluck Food Co-op, and as much as I can, I try to choose food that has been raised or grown in a way that is earth friendly. On the surface it might appear more expensive than groceries in the big box stores, but it’s really not when you add in all the hidden costs of industrially produced food. That being said, if I am a single mom struggling to make ends meet each month, I’m probably not even thinking organic is remotely possible. Could I convince them otherwise?

My brain started working. Could I feed myself in a way that is good for both body and planet, and do it on a very limited budget?

Some research showed that a number of people in the U.S. have done this sort of thing. Some ate on $1 a day, but that was non-organic, only eating two meals a day, or using their skills as an extreme coupon clipper. When I looked at their diets, I wasn’t convinced that they were getting all the nutrients they needed.

I considered $2 a day. But not even that was realistic here in the North, given our higher food costs.

So I hit upon $5 a day.

It’s a pretty arbitrary number and I am not at all sure that I can manage on $5 a day. But I’m willing to take the plunge to find out. Here are the rules:

  • I have $140 to spend for the month. I can spend it all at once, $5 a day, or anything in between.
  • I can use coupons if I find any that are useful to me (often but not always, coupons are for pre-packaged foods that leave a lot to be desired in the nutrition department)
  • I can use food I already have in my cupboard or fridge/freezer, but I have to calculate how much it cost and subtract it from my $140.
  • Within the month, I can accept one evening out at a friend’s house to enjoy a meal, and I can partake in one work-related event that involves food. Apart from that, all my other meals must come from my grocery budget.
  • I can forage for food, although this is likely a moot point since I doubt I’ll find much in November in the Yukon.
  • All my spices and condiments that I use must also come out of my $140 budget.
  • I won’t ask my family to participate with me. Joe and Jamie will continue to cook and eat as they normally do. I may even help cook some of their meals, depending on what else is going on in the household at the time.

Have I forgotten anything? I’m open to any suggestions you have for inexpensive but healthy ingredients and recipes. I’m expecting to learn lots, and I hope you will follow along with me on this journey.  I will start on Nov. 2nd (Nov. 1st has already been scheduled as Joe’s birthday dinner and I am not willing to forego that) and will continue until I run out of money or until I make it to Dec. 1st. Wish me luck!

My oh my it’s been a while! Life has a way of taking over sometimes, with little to no time left to blog. Since I last posted:

1. Had a wonderful long week-end in Vancouver in September, enjoying the early fall there.

2. Booked a trip next spring to Istanbul!! So excited!

3. My grandson started walking :-)

4. Spent tonnes of time in my garden, harvesting and getting it ready for next year.

5. Been doing research for a new project in November, which I will tell you about very shortly. So do check back…I promise I won’t be absent so long next time.

marmoleumRenovations. How I dislike the chaos they require!

For the past few weeks we have been working around no washer and dryer, no toilet in the main bathroom, and all the contents from our family room and tiny spare bedroom smooshed into our larger spare and master bedrooms.

However the end is in sight. We now have an almost finished laundry room (still need to install shelving and baseboards), new flooring has been laid in the main bathroom, as well as in the family room and the tiny spare bedroom (out with the old carpet and in with some marmoleum that is the colour of the Caribbean Sea). Over the week-end I managed to get two coats of paint applied to the family room and one to the bedroom (a very pale blue in both rooms), and we are almost at the stage where we can start putting everything back together again.

Hopefully getting rid of the carpet will ease Joe’s dog allergies, which have been getting steadily worse over the summer. Some nights he can hardly breathe, so if this doesn’t work I will sadly need to start looking for a new home for Chanel. It will break my heart to see her go, so I am going to try everything possible to flush out the house. I also just bought an air purifier, hoping that might help.  Note: photo taken from this website.

Just returned from a holiday in Newfoundland, where I hiked parts of the East Coast Trail on the Avalon Peninsula. What a gift this trip was! I have been to the Rock a few times before, but mostly stayed within St. John’s. Having seen this part of the province was added proof of what a special place it is, and just how beautiful.

I arrived too late in the season to see the icebergs, although my friend Ted and I shared a scotch with 10,000 year old iceberg ice that he had collected a few weeks previous.  What I did see were dozens of whales! One day, sitting at the edge of a cliff looking over the ocean, whales were continuously breaching all around me. It was incredible, and it made my heart glad that these beautiful creatures seem to be doing OK in spite of all the garbage we humans are dumping into the oceans.

There are lots of photos on my Facebook page, which I have opened to the general public to view, but here are a few of them:

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This photo, of the old lighthouse at Cape Spear, was taken by my friend Ted Blades, who joined me for the last day and a half of the hiking.

This photo, of the old lighthouse at Cape Spear, was taken by my friend Ted Blades, who joined me for the last day and a half of the hiking.

By the way, I want to give a shout out to the East Coast Trail Association and the volunteers who do a fabulous job of maintaining this trail. Many thanks for all your hard work.

Joe and I just returned from a week in Juneau on the Alaska Panhandle. We went there in large part to witness a large Tlingit cultural gathering that takes place every two years. But apart from that, we enjoyed the stunning beauty of the place and the ferry rides there and back (complete with whales, seals, a rainbow as we headed into Juneau and a bald eagle sitting on the dock waiting for us as we arrived in port). Here are just a few shots…lots more on my Facebook page.

Our ferry was much smaller than these big cruise ships docked in Skagway.

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Party onboard…drumming and singing in one corner, traditional weaving in another, and lots of laughter and teasing.

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Merndenhall Glacier

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Tlingit travellers arrive in canoes for the big cultural celebration.

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One of the singing/dancing/drumming performances

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Southeast Alaska is definitely bear country!

My new ‘traffic cone orange’ shoes. I got them for my summer travels, since they pack down very small in the suitcase. But I have to admit…I love how over the top bright they are!

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Just now getting around to catching up on my blog posts. Last month, my friend Lucca and I headed to a little place called Friday Harbour on the San Juan Islands, Washington State, for a week-end. Pretty little place with very friendly people. I was reminded again of how difficult it must sometimes be for introverts to live in the United States, given that it appears to be a country full of outgoing and vivacious folks.

We spent the week-end just walking around, visiting the local farmers’ market, watching a local production of Annie (it was great!), and of course eating some tasty food and drinking wine!

Here are just a few pics from the trip:

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View of Friday Harbour.

DSCN4198It didn’t take us long to find the cheese shop, with a wonderful cheesecake with lemon curd. Mmmmmm!

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We stayed on a boat the first night, but it was a bit too funky and rustic for our taste, so moved to a hotel for Night 2.

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Took a taxi to the southeastern part of the island where we walked among
the old trees. I always feel better after being washed with ‘tree energy’.

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Lucca ignores the sign and parks herself on the railing at the beginning of the hiking trail.

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And look who came out to meet us at the end of the hike!

 

Cleaning out my camera’s memory card, I found these photos.

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Alan, holding Caleb, while Jamie looks on.

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Grampa Joe and Caleb look out the train window. We were travelling on the White Pass train out of Skagway, Alaska.

A couple of weeks ago, Iris and I headed down to Vancouver to catch Lady Gaga in concert. Unfortunately, the morning we were to leave we found out the Lady was sick and her gig was postponed until August. What to do?

We decided to go down anyway, and enjoyed a few days just hanging about in the city. I didn’t take many photos, but here are a few:

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This is the backyard of the friend we stayed with, complete with his beautiful Japanese-style meditation house. So peaceful!

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We spent a few hours at Granville market, where I bought a handmade broom. They made the brooms right there, and the smell of fresh hay was lovely!

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Glorious cherries from the market!

 

I am chomping at the bit to head off on my next adventure, which takes place in a couple of days when I travel to Juneau, Alaska. In the meantime, here is a fun questionnaire that I came across.

A: age you went on your first international trip: I was 16 when I travelled to Finland with my high school concert band.

B: best foreign beer you have ever had, and where: I am not a beer drinker, but I have to say that Kingfisher beer went down pretty easily in the heat of the day in India.

C: cuisine (favourite): that’s a tough one, but I would put Chinese pretty high on my list. Indian comes a pretty close second.

D: destination – favourite, least favourite, and why: favourite is Spain, as I have a special place in my heart for the Spanish people and their approach to life. Least favourite is Mumbai, only because I found it overwhelming arriving there after three years of living on Baffin Island.

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E: event you experienced abroad that made you say ‘Wow': there have been many; one is the time I attended a performance of Schonberg’s Erwartung, by the Berlin Orchestra. I was in Granada, Spain during a music and dance festival. I don’t enjoy all modern classical music, but this piece had a long lasting effect on me.

F: favourite mode of transportation: my own two feet, followed closely by train

G: greatest feeling while travelling: the sense of adventure and surprise around every corner.

H:  hottest place you have travelled to:  Khajuraho, India., at something like 45+ degrees by 9 a.m.

I: incredible service you have experienced: on a houseboat in Kashmir, India. We were treated like royalty.

J:  journey that took the longest: walking the Camino de Santiago; it took me 5 weeks.

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K: keepsakes from your travels: some colourful glasses from Murano near Venice.

L: letdown site: where and why: the Guinness Tour in Dublin: overpriced, over crowded.

M:  moment when you fell in love with travel: I have loved going on trips for as long as I can remember. As a farming family we were never able to go far, but even short road trips were always a treat.

N: nicest hotel you have stayed in: probably one of the Paradors in Spain; either the one in Granada or in Leon.

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O: obsession: what are you obsessed with taking pictures of when you travel: FOOD!

P: passport stamps: how many and from where: my most recent passport has stamps from Italy, Ireland, and the U.S.  Older passports (I have kept almost all of them) include stamps from India, Nepal, Argentina, Cuba, France x 2, Spain, earlier trip to Italy, England, Scotland, Finland, Greenland and multiple ones for the U.S.

Q: quirkiest attraction you have visited: huge statue of a flower in Buenos Aires. The petals opened in the morning and closed at night.

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R: recommended site, event, or experience: walk one of the Camino de Santiago routes, and do it by yourself.

S: splurge: something you have no trouble forking over money for: one really nice meal in each country I visit.

T: touristy thing you have done: rode a camel in Rajasthan, India.

U: unforgettable travel memory: oh boy, there are many! I will say the views while hiking in Nepal. Stunning!

V: visas: how many and from where: I have actually only had one visa, for Nepal.

W: wine: best glass of wine while travelling: some of the wine I have enjoyed the most has been simple but delicious house wines in Italy and Spain. I did have a pretty tasty glass while eating at the French Laundry in San Francisco.

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X: eXellent view, and from where: from the Alhambra, Spain at sunset.

Y: years spent travelling: on and off for a lot of my adult life, although these were a number of years when our kids were little when we didn’t venture outside of Canada.

Z: zealous sports fans and where: watched a soccer game in Aberdeen, Scotland that was between The Rangers and Aberdeen.

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Caleb’s Easter tree. Several of the eggs were made by his mommy when she was little.

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Easter buddies

 

Photo credit: chroniquemusicale.com

Photo credit: chroniquemusicale.com

What a great evening last night at the Old Fire Hall in Whitehorse! First up, Sarah McDougall. She’s been in the Yukon and at the Atlin Music Festival before but I’ve never had a chance to see her. Her lyrics and tone took my breath away!

She was followed by the Scottish singer/songwriter Rachel Sermanni, who performed last summer at the Dawson City Music Festival but who, again, I have never seen before. It blows me away that she is only in her early 20s! To me she’s a bit Tim Berton-ish (something about her almost eerie melodies and lyrics; her movements; even her eyes) with a touch of Eva Cassidy thrown in. It was a very haunting and powerful performance.

Story: at our last Robbie Burns supper, a new friend of ours, Claire Rouleau, sang the song “Ae Fond Kiss”.  She learned the song with the help of Rachel Sermanni’s version found on YouTube. After the performance last night, I relayed this to Rachel and she appeared genuinely tickled.

Thanks Iris for a wonderful birthday gift!

xxx

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It’s official. I can now get the senior’s discount at both Shopper’s Drug Mart and the local Salvation Army thrift store!

Seriously, this is going to be a great year! Here’s what’s in my future:

-Tripping off to San Juan Island, Washington State in a few weeks with my dear friend Lucca

-Down to Vancouver in late May with my daughter to dance in the isles at a Lady Gaga concert

-Off to Juneau, Alaska in June to do some hiking, see my old yoga teacher, and enjoy some singing and drumming at a big Tlingit cultural gathering

-Nine days of hiking parts of the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland in July, and seeing another dear friend and hopefully another old friend I used to work with; a quick (24 hour) stop in N.S. along the way to check in with my family and friends there

-Hunting and gathering in August (well, it’s Joe who does the hunting; I’m more about the gardening and berry picking)

-Back down to Vancouver in September for a week-end with Joe, just because

And best of all, all the surprises that will come along the way!

Life at 55 is grand!!

The company I work for is involved in a potential project that does not have much apparent support from Yukoners. Over the last several months, there have been letters to the editor and impassioned speeches at public meetings. Last night was one such meeting.

It’s no fun having person after person stand up to bash a project that I know was conceived with nothing but good intentions and lots of sweat and hard work. It’s also difficult to listen to statements made based (in some cases) on incorrect information. But all that aside, I am so proud to live in a place where people really care about issues and aren’t afraid to share their views.

I have lived in other places where I have seen a fair amount of apathy. I don’t think Yukoners can be accused of that.

Of course I have no way of knowing whether this project will end up proceeding or not. But either way, I hope that Yukoners never stop being passionate about what matters to them, and I hope they never stop caring about our little blue planet. xxx.

Just got back from a lovely week in Vancouver…part work, part play. Whether work or play, I always found time to indulge in some great food. Here are a few of my recommendations if you are looking for relatively inexpensive but good food.

1. Sargam House Restaurant – 955 West Broadway.

This is the spot if you are craving Indian food. Note that it’s all vegetarian/vegan friendly, so if you want meat this is not the place to go. The menu is divided between dishes from South India and those from North India. We chose south, since it’s much more common to find restaurants that serve food from the northern part of the country; not so much the south. You can get a huge thali (tray with several small dishes) for under $10 for dinner, and there’s even a $5 lunch special! Joe had a masala dosa (a crepe with spicy potato and onion inside), something we haven’t eaten since our days in India 30 years ago! It was huge!!

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Joe with his dosa, Susan and I with our thali plates. Everything was delicious!

2. Kintaro – 788 Denman St.
This is just on the edge of Stanley Park, so a great location for a meal after a long walk (or to walk off a filling meal!). It serves several types of Japanese noodles, and not much else. The small menu is something I appreciate…my ideal place to eat is somewhere that has no menu; they just serve whatever they are cooking that day. Based on what we had at Kintaro, the things they do serve are very, very good! A huge bowl of noodles in broth, veggies, and meat can be had for under $10.

I loved the atmosphere. It’s a tiny place and was packed when we were there, so we shared a large table family style with several other people…something I enjoyed. I genuinely felt I had been transported to Asia, without the jet lag.

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3. Dinesty Chinese Restaurant – 1719 Robson Street

I am including this one on the list not because it was the cheapest (the cost to us was about $60 for two) but because it is really delicious food. In particular, I’d recommend the duck that is smoked on site using camphor tea. If we had not had the duck, the bill would have been substantially less. I also loved their homemade noodles, and the delicate dumplings that had broth inside them and exploded into a wonderful taste experience in our mouths.

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4. Bistro 101 – Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts – 1505 W. 2nd Ave.

I am hesitating just a bit to recommend this. The food and service is provided by the culinary students, and I have found it to be hit and miss. I’ve eaten there once before and it was quite good. This time, not so much.

Joe ordered foie gras macaroon as an appetizer, followed by beef tenderloin, and a lime cake for dessert. I had the veloute of smoked potato with dungeness crab and avocado mousse (fancy term for potato soup), rack of lamb for the main, and a caramel chocolate tart for dessert. I loved my soup, and both my lamb and Joe’s beef were cooked perfectly. But Joe said the foie gras was really odd, and the desserts, while good, weren’t great.

The price for the three courses was $26 a person. However once we added a bottle of wine (it was Wine Wednesday where you get half off any bottle), a coffee and tea, and the tip, it still came to $100, so not a cheap meal. However if you go at lunch you can have a three course meal for $20, and if you pass on the wine, it really is affordable.

So there you have it. My recommendations. Do you have any you’d like to share?

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I was standing in front of my open closet the other day looking for inspiration, and not getting much I am afraid. I haven’t bought any new clothes for a while, and truth be told I am bored with most of what I own.

Yesterday I did a big clean out, keeping only those things I still love and hauling off three bags to the local Salvation Army thrift shop. I bet if I did a further cull today I’d find another bag or two to donate.

While at the Sally Ann I did see one skirt that I liked and brought home with me…it reminded me of an old apron that my grandmother wore for years (I’m a sucker for anything reminiscent of the 50s) but it is a summer skirt so not going to help me out now. Time to get out the sewing machine I guess.  I’m not much for retail shopping (I find the quality leaves a lot to be desired even in the more expensive brands) and the pickings have been slim of late at the local consignment stores.

The outside of our bedroom door hasn’t been washed in years. Not only is it long overdue for a good cleaning, it needs a re-staining. But I can’t bring myself to do it. That’s because for more than 20 years, we kept track of our kids’ growth on that door.

Note the permanent black marker...Jamie's contribution on year.

Note the permanent black marker…Jamie’s contribution one year.

Last night I added this:

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Now another generation will have to go by before that door gets washed!

My new fairy tale books that I purchased with the money I received for being an Everyday Fluevogger.

My new fairy tale books that I purchased with the money I received for being an Everyday Fluevogger.

What a remarkable year we’ve just gone through…a grand baby who has given us great joy, trips to Ireland, San Francisco and the East Coast, one of the best summers and autumns weather-wise that I can remember, the realizing of a dream by helping to launch a local food co-op, some personal accomplishments on the yoga mat…so many good memories! And I am very excited about what lies ahead in 2014. Life just doesn’t get better than this!

Happy New Year everyone.

Making clafoutis makes me feel very....French!

Making clafoutis makes me feel very….French!

Christmas Day - our new born king!

Christmas Day – our new born king!

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There’s a reason people say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. However I couldn’t resist. This was at our staff Christmas party…we were the crew putting on our own version of the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal”. I am of course the one with the full head of red hair.

Phew! Sure hard to keep up with both Facebook and this blog! Anyway, here is what it’s looking like around our place these days:

Wouldn't be a Janet tree without at least one of these!

Wouldn’t be a Janet tree without at least one of these!

Phew! Well, that was fun. If you haven’t visited my blog in awhile, you may not know that my Fluevog collection and I just got finished being “Ms November” for  John Fluevog Shoes. You can see all of the photos by going here. But here are a few of my favourites from the month:

My Boroque Cortonas. It was quite funny because on the Fluevog Facebook page a couple commented that I was just going to ruin those beautiful shoes in the water. Did they really think I would jump??

My Boroque Cortonas. It was quite funny because on the Fluevog Facebook page a couple commented that I was just going to ruin those beautiful shoes in the water. Did they really think I would jump??

My Thanks Amazing boots. I always feel like a gypsy when I wear them, especially paired with this sweater coat.

My Thanks Amazing boots. I always feel like a gypsy when I wear them, especially paired with this sweater coat.

Kitschy Kitschy Boom Booms, Liz.

Kitschy Kitschy Boom Booms, Liz.

Daily Miracles

Daily Miracles

My Munsters. I don't like how my legs look so short and squat in this photo, but I have to say it's still one of my favourites.

My Munsters. I don’t like how my legs look so short and squat in this photo, but I have to say it’s still one of my favourites.

Edwardian Spool Heel from the 1980s. Thanks to Mr. Taibhsearachd and my three children for taking these photos.

Edwardian Spool Heel from the 1980s. Thanks to Mr. Taibhsearachd and my three children for taking these photos.

 

Had a great day on Friday helping out at the Young Women in Trades Conference. It’s an event put on each year that allows grade 8 girls to try their hand at a variety of trades. The company I work for is an annual sponsor. This year I was slotted in the sheet metal workshop. I know absolutely nothing about the business of sheet metal, but I did learn enough to help students make cookie cutters.

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Love the steel toes we had to wear over our shoes...clomp, clomp, clomp on the cement floor!

Love the steel toes we had to wear over our shoes…clomp, clomp, clomp on the cement floor!

I detest wasting food. Sadly, some weeks things get lost at the back of the fridge until it’s too late to save them. This week I was determined not to let that happen.

Here’s what I rescued from my fridge and kitchen counter this morning and what I made/am in the process of making with it:

1. Four overripe bananas – three went into a banana loaf; one into the freezer for future smoothies

2. Various kinds of apples – apple/cranberry crisp

3. A plethora of eggs – one in a breakfast omelet, two more in the banana bread (still thinking of ways to use up a few more)

4. Chicken carcass – big pot of chicken soup for lunches next week

5. Bag of mushrooms – some in the omelet, the rest in the chicken soup

6. Celery – some in the chicken soup, more in a pot of moose stew, and more still in a pot of chili (I love having lots of freezer meals on hand)

7. Green onions – omelet and chicken soup

8. (Not so fresh) parsley – chicken soup, chili, stew

9. Grape tomatoes that have seen better days – omelet, chili

Very basic meals but nothing wasted, so I’m feeling pretty good. Is my halo shining yet? :-)

 

 

 

 

Well, I can finally let the cat out of the bag…or should I say the Fluevog out of the shoe closet!

As many of you know, I am a real fan of John Fluevog shoes, and over the years have amassed quite a collection. This month my footwear is featured on their website…a different pair of shoes or boots every day throughout November. Here’s today’s, which shows what can happen to a witch who parties too much on Halloween….

Whoa! Can you believe these are Hush Puppies?? Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?

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What a great year for high bush cranberries. They're growing everywhere!

What a great year for low bush cranberries. They’re growing everywhere!

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