the left coast

I always knew that someday I would return to the west coast. Toronto winters were wearing me down. My little house in Leslieville sat on the corner of my street with 130-150 ft of sidewalk that had to be cleared all too regularly through the winter months. This Vancouver girl never quite adapted to the task…but I tried, oh I tried! I suppose hiring someone or moving to a condo may have sufficed but eventual escape was on my mind. I dreamed of all of my girls converging to closer geographical locations.

I took a hard look at the life I wanted going forward. I stumbled upon a quote that resonated with me by Doris Lessing…

“whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”

It seemed to me that I had a daughter that desperately needed to fly on her own that had been living with me and another one in the west who could use some help. My middle kid is also in flux as her little family will be searching for a new job post-graduation.  I had also long dreamed of spending time in France with my sister…( more on that later)

I wanted to have a little place near Stanley Park that could be rented out if needed. Living in Manhattan for a year had taught me I could nest in a tiny space as long as I had a big park close by and the city at my doorstep.

On top of it all, I needed to figure out how to stretch the $$. I worked hard to find the “perfect for me” little apartment that will be undergoing a makeover, with a new kitchen and bathroom. I am now in the middle of an urban garden, just steps from the ocean and my favourite park in the world. Restaurants, shops and bike paths are at my doorstep.

I loved another quote I came across today….”There are three things we cry about in life, things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent.” Douglas Coupland

So when I start to feel bummed out, like when I found all this amazing Christmas stuff on sale and there is NO MORE ROOM at my little INN–I remind myself there are still many good things to come. IMG_1720




homemade yogurt without buying any new gadgets


I think I may have loved really high quality yogurt forever ( I may be making that up). In the early 80’s I purchased one of those fancy incubators with the little separate cups. I tried to recreate a delicious memory of eating full fat yogurt with natural fruit in the basement of Eaton’s in Vancouver.  I recall making it a few times, but I must have been bored and disappointed and found the contraption a nuisance in my cupboard. I reverted back to my more urgent practical pursuit of  creating an infinite number of variations around hamburger/ cream soup into every meal….but that’s another story.

On the yogurt trail,  I descended into a terrible detour into grocery store non fat, fake  concoctions that were as tasteless as some of the fashions and hairstyles I sported during that period.

In the mid 90’s, I finally fulfilled my dream of setting foot on  European soil and discovered REAL YOGURT!  It was of course impossible to find in grocery stores at home. A few years later I discovered you could pick up GREEK Yogurt at the deli’s in my neighborhood. It was pricey though and I didn’t treat myself or my family often.

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Well, happily it’s a new era. Greek Yogurt or just good natural unprocessed yogurt is all the rage now.

That brings me to my current experiment.

I found 2 great tutorials online and have merged the 2 together.



I decided to try my old yard sale crock pot ( the kitchen appliance that holds many unfulfilled dreams in my house) . I heated up some milk , measured the temp with my meat thermometer and I am heading off for the day.  Oh yes, I also threw a couple of T of Balkan yogurt and powdered milk into the batch .

We shall see tomorrow if I end up poisoning anyone or actually create something edible.

catching up on last summer…

It’s been another long gap since I last posted. So much has happened and I am intent on drinking it all in and savouring all the details…even the not so fun ones. Packing up the last of my things, throwing out, selling off and handing over my home was far more difficult than I ever imagined, both emotionally and physically. Could not have managed without so many people there to help. How grateful I am for all of them.

Every once in a while a sadness hits me of leaving behind so much in Toronto. It was an intensely rich time in my life. Leaving friends and neighbours and most of all my youngest daughter and my eldest granddaughter has been hard but it felt like the right time to move on. I’ve focused on living in the present,  while honouring my past and I’m working for a new future. I remind myself that I’m grateful to have put down roots deep enough that Toronto actually does feel like home to me in many ways. ( Some western Canadians can imagine such a declaration.)

By the skin of my teeth the house was cleared out, with my Lindsay and friend Piotr clearing up the last items and giving the house a high gloss finish. I had a plane to board for Marseille on June 29, 2015.

I arrived at my sisters lovely villa in an ancient town in the Luberon, Provence. The village built into the mountainside is Saignon. My sisters paradise in France. We spent a week together and she was off to Canada, leaving me to take care of business ( which was great fun ) more tk

Moving On?… C’est La Vie

my back is aching and my head hurts when i think too deeply so I am just going with it. In 1 week I will be on a plane to Marseille. My sister will pick me up at the airport and whisk me off to her little piece of paradise in Saignon

Right now, I have to somehow survive the packing and dumping. I think my brain actually skipped over this whole process when i put this plan in gear. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and fear to work through this part. Ugh. I hate it! I have stretched out the fun part as long as I could. Longingly staring at my lovely living room. (This means I have to squint hard to ignore the cluttered shelves and surfaces so I can focus on the light and height of the room.)

Am i excited? Sure …I think so. I’m actually blocking out a ton of dread.  I love this city of T.O.  it’s become home to me and I will be leaving behind neighbours, friends and a beloved daughter and granddaughter…and Gert the Golden Doodle. The city is amazing and diverse and of course the food options are endless.

Hmmm. I am really not sure what is around the next corner. I only know I am trying to embrace the adventure–or at least WILL TRY to embrace it when I can get through the sorting, keeping and dumping of the miscellaneous mess that has been my life so far.

More TK of course!

Berry Delicious and Puppy Love

Local strawberries are hard to find around these parts now, but 2 weeks ago we drove to the country side and made an emergency stop at one of the U-PICK farms. We filled our faces full of these little sweet treasures. For most of the year we live on semi-tasteless California grown berries, but it is a true delicacy to savour the real thing for a few weeks every summer.

A colleague at work sent me one of those crazy email forwards that was actually worth trying . In fact it is quite brilliant!

The key to preventing moldy berries…

Berries are delicious, but they’re also delicate. Raspberries in particular seem like they can mold before you even get them home from the market. There’s nothing more tragic than paying $4 for a pint of local raspberries, only to look in the fridge the next day and find that fuzzy mold growing on their insides. Well, with fresh berries just starting to hit farmers markets, we can tell you that how to keep them fresh! Here’s a tip I’m sharing on how to prevent them from getting there in the first place:

Wash them with vinegar.

When you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider probably work best) and ten parts water. Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want (though the mixture is so diluted you can’t taste the vinegar,) and pop in the fridge The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit, and voila! Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft. So go forth and stock up on those pricey little gems, knowing they’ll stay fresh as long as it takes you to eat them.

So many times I have picked up berries at the market only to have them turn bad within a day. This trick actually seemed to extend the life of these precious berries that we brought home, over-ripe from the hot sun as well as berries I picked up at the store.

Maddie ( almost 3) was a bit of a bull in a china shop and we had to constantly make sure she was not stomping over the precious strawberry plans. She liked to pick the very dark red ones the best. Exactly the type that needed this fancy preservation treatment.

I swear it really WAS brilliant. ( I said that already, right?!)

Over the next week we indulged in fresh smooshed strawberries over breakfast cereal, topped with Plain Greek Yogurt ( add a little vanilla and agave nectar if you need it sweeter)

It’s the best breakfast you can eat. Slow cook your oatmeal over low heat ( rice method) –meaning do not stir it into a gloopy mess–and add some chopped apples and cinnamon to the mix.

Try it with any berries or fruit compote all year round. I love to throw in frozen blueberries or raspberries–as they hit the hot cereal, they are perfectly thawed enough to enjoy.

…but I digress. The reason we actually packed up the car and drove 2 hours was to meet up with our soon to be puppy….henceforth known as Gertie the Golden Doodle. I think I must have had amnesia around puppy hood but let’s just say that she prefers human flesh to teethe on, over shoes and furniture. We are working on eradicating that at the moment. I also have a shower curtain over my area rug. Oh joy.

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BOOK GIVE-AWAY….the American Way of Eating

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I was riveted by an interview with the author, Tracie McMillan and Jian Ghomeshi  back in April and fascinated by the author’s year long undercover research into the topic of how food/produce travels from the field to the table. The publisher, Simon and Schuster has donated a  copy to give away to one lucky reader and I will mail it out to one of you by June 15.

The book is intelligently written with numerous insights. The author goes undercover to get an inside account of what it takes to work in the Californian fields, Walmart, the world’s largest grocery aisles and serve up food first hand to hungry Americans at Applebees. It’s a glimpse into the realities of FOOD PRODUCTION AND DELIVERY and raises questions around the entire system food systems in North America. Early on in the book, Tracie discovers that farm worker wages could be raised by 40% and would only increase the average American family’s produce bill by $16 per year. She goes on to carefully explain why there are so many obstacles to make this happen (see page 28-29).  This book is also a fascinating history around the grocery industry itself . Each new job includes a calculation of  real life budgets of covering life’s basic needs based on her wages and there is a detailed analysis at the end of the book and a broader look at the reality of realistically making ends meet and the percentage of income we devote to this basic necessity.  There are acts of generosity from her fellow workers along the way and it is a sober reminder of the reality of living when every single penny counts. It was an uncomfortable reminder of when every cent that flowed through my household was crucial to my family’s well-being. Were it not for greatly subsidized living standards via the generosity of family and friends and church, my children would have had a far different early childhood.

This book is important and I think it is well worth the time to digest it.

I would love any feedback on how you managed through the tough times and or if you would like a free copy of the book mailed to you. I will contact one lucky contributor by June 15 to mail out their copy of the book.

best, t

Full book description below:


The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table

by Tracie McMillan

Scribner | February 21, 2012 | Hardcover

In the tradition of Barbara Ehrenreich‘s Nickel and Dimed, an ambitious and accessible work of undercover journalism that fully investigates our food system to explain what keeps Americans from eating well-and what we can do about it.Getting Americans to eat well is one of today’s hottest social issues; it’s at the forefront of Michelle Obama‘s agenda and widely covered in the media-from childhood obesity to store brands trying to make their food healthier. Yet most Americans still eat poorly, and award-winning journalist Tracie McMillan wanted to know why. So, in 2009 McMillan went to work undercover in our nation’s food system alongside America’s working poor, living and eating off her wages, to examine how we eat.McMillan worked on industrial farms in California, in a Walmart produce section outside Detroit, and at an Applebee’s kitchen in New York City. Her vivid narrative brings readers along to grueling work places, introduces them to her coworkers, and takes them home to her kitchen, to see what kind of food she (and her coworkers) can afford to buy and prepare. With striking precision, McMillan also weaves in the story of how we got here, digging deep into labor, economics, politics, and social science to reveal new and surprising truths about how America’s food is grown, sold, and prepared-and what it would take to change the system.Fascinating and timely, this groundbreaking work examines why eating well in America-despite the expansion of farmer’s markets and eat local movements-is limited to the privileged minority.