Friday Flashback: Santa’s Village, 1978


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In the Summer of 1978, we visited Santa’s Village in Vermont. I was 5. I vaguely remember a few rides, a large climber, and feeding the deer. Lunch was a picnic. The highlight, of course, was talking to Santa.


Mom and Dad let my brother and I each pick out a Christmas ornament from the Souvenir shop. My brother chose a straw mouse soldier. I chose a cardboard angel with a lace dress, a sparkly halo, and gauzy wings. She’s a little battered, but I still have her!

It was a magical Christmas in July!

We took Little Guy to a Santa’s Village near us a few summers ago. Instead of camping, we stayed in a hotel. He wasn’t overly impressed and refused to visit Santa. It was a scorching day, and I can’t imagine what the temperature would be inside the Workshop.  He’s also way more mature than his mother!

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Have a Magical Weekend!

CFFC: Close Up


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This morning, everything was covered in a heavy frost. The clouds along the horizon were thin and shades of mauve, while the sky above was patched with pale blue and rosy pink. Every so often, the speckled silhouettes from a flock of geese would twinkle by. The fields, trees, even the rushes along the ditch were dusted with frozen icing sugar. It looked so peaceful.

This week’s fun foto challenge is close up or macro shots. I don’t have a macro lens (it’s on my wish list) so I have to play with the macro setting on my camera, and accept that I am missing a lot of the fine detail.

These photos were taken on different days – I didn’t have my camera today so had to make mental images of everything instead.

A peaceful man does more good than a learned one. – Pope John XXIII

Happy Wednesday!

Let’s “OOO” for Oolong


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Even though one studies tea until old age, one can never learn
all the names of types of teas. – Chinese Proverb

Oolong tea comes from the buds, leaves and stems of the same plant as black and green tea. While black tea is fully fermented and oxidized,  oolong tea is fermented and only  partially oxidized.  This means the freshly picked tea is withered, rolled and heated in a warm, darkened room to promote quick oxidation. Oolong tea will have a lighter colour than black tea because the heating process stops the fermentation process. Oolong means “black dragon” in Chinese. It is mostly produced in China, where it originated around the 18th century.


Some believe oolong tea may assist in sharpening your thought processes and improving alertness. That may be in part because of its higher caffeine rating(2 out of 3). Oolong and green tea share some health benefits but green tea ranks slightly higher because it contains slightly more antioxidant properties.

Oolong may also assist with weight loss and boosting the immune system, and be used to prevent prevent brittle bones or to treat diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. But since there is limited scientific evidence to support most of these uses, don’t count on it! If it sounds too good to be true…

Man can do without food for three days, but without tea, not for one.
– Chinese Proverb

Happy Monday!

CB&W: Fields


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We found the way out
The city takes everything it can
But outside the crowds, I can feel my lungs again
– Dark Horses, Switchfoot

I always thought it would be fun to be a city girl, to live right down town with the hustle & bustle, the arts, the neon lights. Turns out, I’m happier living near open spaces.

I love that I can look out my office window and see flocks of geese in the Spring and Fall. I love the sparkle of fresh powder of a crisp winter day. And I love listening to the crickets singing in the evening. I prefer spacious places.


He brought me out into a spacious place;
    He rescued me because He delighted in me. – Ps. 18:19 (NIV)


Happy Weekend!

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Hole-Some Foods


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I remember making doughnuts with my mother and grandparents. My job was to cut the holes or to watch the doughnuts frying in the oil and let Mom know when they were ready to be rolled. We called the tiny doughnut holes, doughnut buttons.

It was a tradition I wanted to share with my boys. This weekend,  my mother and I got to share it with Little Guy. First, we let him measure and mix the dough.


Next we rolled them out and he cut them with the same tools I had used as a kid – a drinking glass and a thimble.

Finally, we fried them in oil in a fryer. As a kid, we used an electric frying pan. This was a lot safer!


My Great-Grandmother’s recipe said “Salvation Doughtnuts”. Apparently, these doughnuts were first made by Salvation Army volunteers in World War I. They set up service huts in abandoned buildings near the front lines where they could serve the soldiers baked goods.

DoughnutsThe best part is eating them warm. The next day I made Jelly Busters, a yeast-based doughnut that requires a lot of time to prove the dough. Otherwise the process is the same.

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And once they’re cooled, we add apple jelly inside, and sprinkle icing sugar on top. Just like when I was a kid…

I miss my Grandparents, especially as the holidays get closer. So being able to share this family tradition with my boy was really special and I hope we created special memories for him.

Nobody can do for little children what Grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. – Alex Haley





What’s In My Cup: Birthday Cake


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It’s hard to believe…13 years ago this morning, my beautiful baby boy was born. So it only makes sense to celebrate with Birthday Cake tea in my cup!

Birthday Cake

Birthday cake tea is a honeybush, and green and red rooibos blend…with sprinkles!

Honeybush tea is caffeine-free, and is made from the fermented leaves and stems of the honeybush plant. It is grown on the eastern side of the Cape of South Africa. Honeybush has a lightly roasted, floral flavour similar to honey. Although it’s similar to rooibos or red bush tea, it is usually sweeter and rounder flavour.

Reported health benefits may include decreasing blood sugar, boosting the immune system, and relief from menopausal symptoms. It’s commonly used to help calm coughs, and contains expectorant properties for when you have the sniffles.

I wonder…does a Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream cake have beneficial properties too?

Can’t wait to celebrate with you Little Guy! Happy 13th Birthday.

You know, all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae. -Paul Walker

And happy Monday to you!


Old Country Roses


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…the tea-cups are particularly fine-lipped,
a feature much loved by the ladies. –
1898 comments from a travelling reporter for the Pottery Gazette

I inherited my Grandmother’s fine china a few years ago. It was on the occasion of my Grade 8 graduation, that she gave me a cup and saucer, and told me they would become mine one day.

Nana was a hard-working farm wife, who certainly couldn’t afford to purchase delicate things like this, nor would her practical nature allow her to do so, even if she could. At least not until several years after my grandfather died.  She decided she would like some “pretty dishes”, so she began adding pieces. I have several items on display in my china cabinet, including place settings, the tea set, serving bowls, and even a salt & pepper shaker.

The “Old Country Roses” pattern launched in 1962, was based on an older Royal Albert pattern called King’s Ransom. I think Nana, a gardener and painter, was drawn to the rich roses in full bloom, which were inspired by English country gardens. The rims of each piece are accented with gold banding. This pattern has become synonymous with Royal Albert and it remains one of the best selling fine bone china patterns in the world.

Country Roses

Royal Albert originated in 1896 as the Albert Works, commemorating the birth of Prince Albert in 1895. Prince Albert was named after his great-grandfather. In 1904, the Royal Albert brand was launched.

The Royal Albert brand enjoys the distinction of two “Royal Warrants,” an honour bestowed on those who regularly supplied the Royal Family with goods or services. It is a mark of excellence and quality.

While my own “fine china” is very different to hers, I am honoured to be entrusted with her fine china. These roses in bloom shall certainly be a reminder of warm summer afternoons heady with the scent of a garden, even as the snow begins to cover the ground and trees outside.

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. – Albert Camus

Happy Monday!

Tarts on Tour


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I recently made a last minute decision and attended a Tart Festival with a friend.

No, not that kind of tart, although based on some of my recent encounters, like the guy who called me at work and my cell number popularity, I can see why you might be raising your eyebrows. Then again, you also don’t know my friend!

This Tart Festival involved butter tarts. An entire outbuilding in the Fair Grounds lot lined with bakery kiosks displaying nothing but butter tarts. Each bakery had won trophies in their local Fairs, and they were duking it out for the title: Queen of Tarts.

Judging Sign


Judges were blind tasting tarts from every bakery, looking for things like colour, thickness of pastry and ooziness.





There were some interesting flavours involving alcohol (Kahlua and Fire Whiskey), meat (bacon), and candy (marshmallow and skittles). But, like my Dad, I’m a traditionalist, so I brought home 6 butter tarts: plain, pecan, maple, maple walnut, raisin…and pecan again (because I like candied nuts)!

Tarts on Tour

It only seemed appropriate (when you’re at a tart festival) to slink over to the Designer Shoe Sale next door. We weren’t willing to pay designer prices, even designer sale prices, but we had fun checking out the fashions. Rows and Rows of shoes.

Feathers and ruffles. Sunny golden suns and sweet tarts. Patent leather and satin. Chunky heels and super spikes. Buckles and straps. And things I couldn’t quite identify!

Red spike pumps

Now that’s a pair of killer heels!

Lady Gaga Boots

We also amused ourselves by checking out the heavily-laden  baskets of some of the shoppers. “Lady Gaga” amused us the most. She was a tiny, heavy set middle aged lady with thin, greasy grey hair. But she was following my manifesto and who am I to judge?


Sweet tarts and sexy shoes… a perfect weekend tour for a couple of “tarts”, right?

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. – Katherine Hepburn

Happy Weekend!

Wilderness Wednesday: Red Squirrel


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Don’t let his “cute-ness” distract you. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who ate my muffins and stole my underwear.

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After posing for me, he tore off to protect his snack, an apple the size of hi head, and with expert ease, bounced from tiny tree branch to tiny tree branch, over my head.

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But I was not deterred. Sure, the ground was wet and I was in sock feet. But I wanted a really good mug shot for future reference. I’m on to you, Red Squirrel!

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Happy Wednesday!