ABBA – Music To Do The Dishes By

ABBA – Music To Do The Dishes By

Every time I set out to tackle the dishes, I turn on my new record player that I waxed prosaic about in a previous blog. Now I am about to tell you the ugly truth about going backwards in technology. Here it is. Sometimes I listen to the same ABBA album for days piled upon days in a row, because I am too lazy to switch the album. Also, sometimes I am too lazy to flips sides. So now I know every song from ABBA’s side one-with a tiny scratch in the first song. And it really doesn’t bother me as much as it should. It is almost becoming a ritual, turn on ABBA- clean the dishes-ABBA record ends- time to take out the compost.

The first song is aptly called SOS, which is great when you are scrubbing pots obviously.  The next song is a little slower and not so well known, except to me of course  who listens to it daily- we make a lot of dishes in our family... The next one Ring Ring is quite peppy so it speeds you up as you are washing. It also makes me laugh at the words, a woman staring at her phone on the wall… see? people stared at their phones even before they were mobile! The next one is really growing on me too, Another town, another train. I really get into singing with this one… ” guess  I will spend my life in railway stations”- what fun! Now I am wishing for more dishes here because I need to make it to the grand finale and you know the one I am talking about…but wait there is Honey Honey to sing along to. There is no way that you won’t be super cheerful as you are piling those dishes sky high, scraping egg bits into the compost as you twirl and throw your old rag on the ground and wipe up those drips with your foot. You won’t believe that there is even more peppy stuff to keep you going in this greatest hits album- So Long really makes you belt it out. Also because the grand pappy  of mega hit song is about to play and you are never disappointed. Mamma Mia! The only thing you can’t understand is when your family is home and they tell you that they are tired of it.

My daughter came to visit and I played the song  Fernando on the flip side. It was a special occasion after all- I had visitors! I got teary eyed and said, I don’t know why this song makes me so emotional and she said, it’s because it reminds you of your mom. And I guess she’s right. But still. I think about anyone would cry- there’s something about the song, the flute in it makes you feel wistful and puts a lump in your throat.


Click on the link below to listen to Fernando

Hunting and Gathering

Hunting and Gathering

There is nothing I like better than feeding my family well and on a budget too. It is my hunting and (mostly) gathering gene that makes me this way. Going to the supermarket to harvest great deals to feed my family is like a form of gathering for me. I think many women feel this way. And I am very fond of points cards. I can’t believe that I didn’t catch on to them sooner.  I have been using them for about five years or so. I use Superstore’s Optimum card- it’s an easy load and points card system that in my mind pays for the expensive ferry ride over every time I do a big shop in ” town.” Right now I have a balance of 40 dollars on it- not too shabby! I have also caught on to those shopping apps like Check out 51, as another blogger said( can’t recall which blog sorry)- you’d be stupid not to get paid for shopping. I agree. If you have the energy to upload your offers once a week and then send a jpeg of your check out slip-it’s as easy as that.

The best way to save money on groceries is  to wild craft it yourself.  Yesterday we went  to pick the new fresh leaves of stinging nettles to make fresh pesto. My daughter made some homemade pasta to go with our nettle pesto and we had some shrimp given to us from a fishermen on the dock up island- for free! It pays to know people – well fishermen anyways. Here is our dinner pictured below.

On that note, enjoy the warm spring like weather and all of the new fresh food that comes with it.

There are many great blogs to follow for saving money, such as Frugal Endeavors Cooking on a Bootstrap, just to name a couple.

Nettle Pesto Directions

First pick your stinging nettles carefully. If you pick them in the spring they are fresh and fairly bug free! Use a pair of scissors to snip the top few rings of leaves and hold a Ziploc bag underneath to catch them- this way gloves are not necessary.  At home I rinse the leaves  in a colander and then boil them in water for about three minutes to take out the bad stingy stuff. Squeeze out the water and use as you would basil leaves in your pesto. I hardly ever measure anything, so here is my very loose recipe. Note: I am using gloves when I am removing the leaves from the stems.

Throw together in a blender: your freshly boiled and squeezed out very green  and nutritious nettles with a clove or 4 of raw garlic, a few splashes of olive oil or more, a half cup or so of  walnuts because pine nuts are too expensive, some Parmesan cheese and some fresh ground pepper. And voila! Fresh nettle pesto. Slather on a homemade whole wheat pizza crust or serve tossed in some hot shrimp pasta.


The Monkey on Her Back

The Monkey on Her Back

Don’t you just love when you randomly choose a book off of the shelf and it’s a winner? My young daughter used to trail along behind me in our local library and pick out books for me just because she liked the cover, ” how bout this one mom?” she would say. And sometimes this method worked just as well as my method of reading the back cover or asking for someone’s recommendation. I just finished reading a great little book that I picked up just because there were monkeys on the cover. This is a memoir written by Sheri Speede titled Kindred Beings. I loved it almost as much as I enjoyed the Daily Coyote. Almost.

This is a true story about a woman Veterinarian who didn’t feel that her job was satisfying enough, so she decided to move to Africa to spend her time rescuing Chimpanzees from cruel imprisonment. The chimps were often chained up in front of hotels by themselves without any contact with other creatures for years.  She created a space where she gave local people jobs, gave these animals a place to recover and to live out the rest of their natural lives in peace and grace.

An aside that I found very interesting was the way the animal hierarchy worked.  For instance when there was a bad and unfair leader in charge of the troupe with violent and inconsistent tendencies, he was eventually taken down by the other chimpanzees in a sort of group coup. The fair and good male chimp leader, lead the group peacefully until his natural death. I could not help but think of human parallels all throughout this book.

The writing was swift and to the point and I hardly noticed when I reached the last pages. This book also had a middle packed with great photos. I could look at pictures of chimpanzees forever. I don’t know why I have this affliction but I think it is something about their similarities to us as humans; their expressive eyes, or the way they kiss each other gently on the lips.

This book is a must-read for anyone wondering if they aren’t living up to their true life’s calling. I just read Tony Robbins  book Awaken the Giant Within after reading a positive review on it from the blog Bug Bug Book Reviews. Sheri Speede must have read this book as a manual for creating her life. She had a clear goal that she worked towards with her bright blue eyes, her wild unruly hair and enthusiasm. She found her passion and carved out a life from it.

For all you people out there who want to change their lives for the better and need a little or big nudge— read these two books together on the same rainy weekend.

You’re whole life may veer off in an unexpected direction.

That’s all I got.

Click below for more information about Sheri Speede.


Blood, Bones & Butter a memoir that grabs you and won’t let go

Blood, Bones & Butter a memoir that grabs you and won’t let go

As most of you may know by now, I am memoir crazy.  Anything that is written about someone’s real life story I find irresistible.  This week I was lucky enough to find the memoir titled, Blood, Bones & Butter, The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. Her writing style grabs you by the nose and won’t let go. I can still  hear her yelling in my ear all night, long after I have let the hard cover library book slip from my hands, only to wake up to the head of a chicken staring at me. I was reluctant to finish it, because then I would have to start a new memoir, and the next one may not be so good.

She starts her book off with explaining the beginnings of her life with a mother who cooked differently from most American families, a mother from a french background who would take her on excursions to get raw milk . I love how she explains this, the stink of the farm and the cow manure that lingered on her skin.

Although the author explains many things in great detail, I am still unclear as to why she hates her mother, she somehow dances around this subject. That is the one mystery that I was hoping would reveal itself. She doesn’t see her mother for twenty years, but she names her restaurant after the nickname her mother gives her-Prune. This chef is strong, no-nonsense and full of great stories. Each story reveals how the series of events in her life leads her to open up her own successful restaurant in New York City  and to raise her children in an unconventional marriage. The description of her near melt down with the family one day while she was hungry but was holding out for exceptional food was amusing and perfectly plotted out, right up to the moment when she sinks her teeth into giant deli sandwiches,washed down with a cold can of beer, while parked illegally at a bus stop. 

Snowed in this weekend? ( on Gabriola!)

I advise you to curl up with some stinky cheese and some good bread with this book to keep you warm. You can then fall asleep while you dream of meals that involve stuffed zucchini flowers while sitting wilting pleasantly on a rambling hot deck in Italy. 

Believe it- the universe is always on your side!

Believe it- the universe is always on your side!

Imagine this: you and your friends are driving down the highway in the pouring rain. You tell the friend who is driving that you really need to use the bathroom. She says, “can’t you hold it?”

And you say. “No, it’s pretty desperate.” There is nothing for miles but highway and dirt roads, so finally she pulls off so you can find a bush to hide behind. The moment the car pulls off the highway, the heavens appear to part for a moment and there as if by magic—

is a porta potty in the middle of nowhere. We all yell- what the heck? in disbelief.

I get out and find that it is spotless inside with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Afterwards, we discuss the logic of this and of course, there is no logic. I think this is how the law of the power of attraction works. We all wished for a toilet at the same time and it appeared with a rainbow gleaming from behind its’ green plastic exterior


was this a misuse of the power of attraction? I’m not certain,

but I sure was grateful.

photo courtesy of imgur

Click on the link below to read all about the laws of attraction-

How to Become An Armchair Anthropologist

How to Become An Armchair Anthropologist

Sometimes I am addicted to movies that make me ugly cry. The other night I figured it would be safe to watch a classic old black and white movie by myself because I knew no one in my family would be mad that I watched it without them. It was called Penny Serenade. I love Irene Dunne and Cary Grant is pretty easy on the eyes as they say, so I thought I would give it a whirl.  Spoiler Alert: It begins with a woman looking somberly past an empty child’s room so I knew right away that it was gonna get sad and pretty quick. Then you find out that the couple is going to get a divorce -which sets you off to wonder what sort of tragedy has caused this, so you know that you better get out your box of Kleenex and fast.

The concept of the movie plays out where each record the woman pulls out of her album titled, The Story of a Happy Marriage reminds her of different parts of her life. Viewers get to hear the music and see the history of her life connected to each song.  Part of the reason why I love old movies is that I can become a sort of armchair cultural anthropologist as I watch them.  How old record stores worked, for instance- it was fascinating. There is a piano where someone can play sheet music for you or a listening room to choose your music, how else would one hear these songs without the internet? Also anthropologically speaking, seeing how a printing press worked with all of the moving parts was fun to witness.  I enjoy studying how the roles of men and women in the US are portrayed in each era.  Their behavior didn’t seem too far off from how things are today. Early on in their marriage when the man immediately quit his good job when he got a small inheritance and the wife asked: “oh, was it a lot more than we thought?” And when he admitted it was a lot less, she said, “well I don’t understand, why you would quit a perfectly good job.” This made me laugh and think yes, this scenario is timeless. Later in the movie when they didn’t have any income coming in I found it frustrating that they didn’t consider sending the woman out to find work. Witnessing how the adoption process worked was also amusing. Pretty free and easy according to Hollywood. Heres a baby, she’s meant for you, what you have no clue how to look after her and don’t have any diapers?— well just pick stuff up on your way home.

Spoiler alert: My favorite scene was the first night and the following morning after they come home with an infant. The fear and ungainliness of trying to bath and diaper her that first morning were perfectly portrayed, for me this was the winning scene. As an armchair cultural anthropologist, it was fun to have a diaper folding lesson, the one pin kind. What -no bamboo diapers with velcro fasteners? I also loved to see how society once existed in a plastic-free world. I am always on a lookout for scenes in the kitchen and how food is served up etc.  Glass baby bottles were the only option in this era.

The little girl is a show stopper both when she is a chubby little happy one year old and when she is the echo in the Christmas play. These film writers know how to wring out your heart. Especially because of oodles of foreshadowing from the start, you know that things are not going to work out- but like a car wreck, you can’t look away.

Is this film schlocky and full of Hollywood tricks? Yes. Did it make me have an enjoyable time sniffling away and letting the story “play on my heartstrings?”  Yes.

Sometimes I just want to be whisked off into someone else’s problems, problems that make you weep and not in a pretty way.

 This is my (almost) free therapy. Our TCM channel is included with our internet bundle so it is still fairly cheap. Throw in a bowl of homemade popcorn and your night with therapy included is quite economical.

On a scale of 1- 5 Kleenex tissue box rating system, with 5 as the highest rating, I give it a 4.5  for a tear jerker.

Click below for a 10-minute clip- squeaky stairs and all.

Fly Like An Eagle

Fly Like An Eagle

It’s nineteen seventy-six,  I’m in my dentist’s chair and I am in a strange dream-like fog similar to something from a Cheech and Chong movie— from a generous dose of nitrous oxide. I am eight years old. My tiny ears are clamped down by a massive set of headphones and a mask of laughing gas completely covers half my face held in place by an elastic strap. The song that is pumped into my impressionable brain is Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band. The lyrics -like an eagle-eagle -eagle- waiver in my mind just the wings of an eagle, or I imagined they would if I ever got the opportunity to see one in the prairies.   I was relaxed and tripping out and soon my dentist came in with a needle that seemed larger than my head. It came towards me and I watched in interest as it was placed into my small mouth with a long slow push. It is interesting that this was the song choice. 

Was my dentist being ironic?

He was friendly and over the top. He said you were so good today you get a kiss, and I would look worried but he would lean in with great theatrics and stamp my hand with a red ink outline of lips. Ever time I hear this song I can’t help but remember myself with my cavity-prone candy eating teeth, laying in that dentist chair in my bell bottom pants. I often had to take the bus home with my mouth frozen and drooling through the North End of Winnipeg. We had the same family dentist for years. And I miss him, like I miss my childhood—with a misguided longing for things that seemed simpler and fun, but were really just ordinary and often painful.