October and Fall Television Favourites

The sun is setting earlier and rising later. Kind of like me. I love Octobers, especially if they are as beautiful and warm as this month has been. October also gives me an excuse to use one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

We’re thinking of cancelling of our cable television package and are experimenting with streaming our favourite shows, which are few and far between these days. Like, good grief, another NCIS show? How do we feel about the return of CSI: Las Vegas? How is Survivor still on the air? Anyone else feeling like there’s nothing to watch on TV? Or am I in a funk? A deep, deep funk. Admittedly, that due to this never ending pandemic. But still…

There are a few bright spots, of course. I’m liking La Brea. Still enjoying The Rookie and The Equalizer. And Bob Hearts Abishola is always a delight. There’s also some great Canadian programming out there right now. And it doesn’t get enough attention.

My Three Favourite Canadian Television Shows

Family Law

Family Law is my new favourite television program this fall. Family dysfunction at its best. And who doesn’t love Victor Garber. The series is part legal procedural, part family dramedy, created by Susin Nielsen. It’s family dysfunction at its best and the chemistry between the characters is fabulous. I was fortunate enough to meet Susin Nielsen at The Saskatchewan Festival of Words in 2019. The talent that comes to this festival is off the charts. I highly recommend attending. And I definitely recommend Nielsen’s books!

The Great Canadian Baking Show

I enjoy watching baking shows a lot more than actually baking. Who’s with me? I don’t know how these amateur bakers stay so composed under pressure. I’d crumble like, well, crumble.

Jann

For when you need a laugh. Jann Arden is not scared to poke fun at herself. On the show, she plays an unapologetic, self-centred, aging singer songwriter who’s career is on the cusp of obscurity. It’s so funny. And poignant. And she’s surrounded by a super talented cast.

What I’m reading:

Print: Gutter Child by Jael Richardson. A dystopian story about a girl who must overcome the dictates of a harsh regime and find a life and freedom.

Audio: A Treacherous Curse: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery, Book 3, written by Deanna Raybourn and narrated by Angele Masters. Still loving this series! Both the story and the narrator. Also, waiting for these two to finally sleep together is killing me.

Until next time…

What’s everyone watching these days? Any new shows you would recommend? Any favourite old shows you rewatch? I need suggestions!

Baking Show Goodness

We’re all looking for a reprieve from pandemic fatigue as we wait for vaccines and for spring to continue doing its thing. The robins are back! I’ve also gotten my first vaccine shot. So, there is a light at the end of this very long tunnel.

Baking shows have taken my mind off pandemic life these last weeks. I’m not sure why as I’m not a baker. More of a dabbler with an interest in expanding my repertoire. But, really, I think I love these shows because it’s easier to watch someone else bake really complicated, beautiful things. than make them myself

Three of my favourite baking shows:

The Great Canadian Baking Show

The Great Canadian Baking Show and Bertie Diaz help the world get happy -  MyGayToronto

Ten amateur bakers compete for, get this, a fancy cake plate. Seriously, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) give the winner some cash! Everyone is nice to each other. I love that. I’m not here for any intense cut-throat competition Chef Canada type stuff. I’m watching because I want to learn a couple of things, see pretty cakes and to be inspired. And, let’s be honest, for judge Bruno Feldeisen. He’s so adorable.

The Great Chocolate Showdown

Great Chocolate Showdown - YouTube

Hello, chocolate! Lots and lots of chocolate from milk, dark, white, ruby and gold. Ten home bakers compete for $50,000! Also, is anyone else fascinated with the way judges taste things? The judges in this show range from itty bitty nibbles to a good fork full. Also, they have a teaching segment which I appreciate. I’m pretty sure I can now temper chocolate. But probably not.

The Spring Baking Championship

Spring Baking Championship | Food Network

Eleven contestants compete for $25,000. This show combines a mix of professional bakers with a couple of home bakers thrown into the mix. I always route for the amateur bakers brave enough to go up against the professionals.

Until next time…

Do you watch baking shows? Cooking shows? Grilling shows? Which one is your favourite?

Hello July! And Summer!

I’m a day late because Wednesday was Canada Day, which means Wednesday I thought it was Friday and Thursday I thought it was Monday. Now I have no idea what the actual day is. Welcome to summer!

Back to Canada Day. All I have to say about the 1st of July is I’ve yet to appreciate the whole and very complicated history of my beloved country. I’m listening and learning and reading and I like to think I’m more knowledgable today then I was yesterday.

I live, work, and love on traditional lands referred to as Treaty 4 Territory, which is the traditional lands of the Cree, Ojibwe (OJIB-WE), Saulteaux (SO-TO), Dakota, Nakota, Lakota, and on the homeland of the Metis Nation.

The first day of July was a beautiful summer day. The perfect kind. With sunshine and birdsong and dips in the pool. There was also food. There’s always food. My husband smoked ribs and I made a rhubarb/strawberry/nectarine galette. It all turned out mighty fine.

The only thing missing was ice cream, which I forgot to buy, but we did have whipped cream and that was delicious too. Also, I may have baked it too long as I wasn’t sure how to tell if it was done and the last thing I wanted was to dig in and find a soggy crust at the bottom. But I’ve learned baking takes practice and that practice makes better. Just like writing.

One of my favourite recipe books for desserts is All The Sweet Things by Rene Kohlman who is a Saskatoon chef and food blogger. She’s busy working on a vegetable cookbook. Follow her blog or on Instagram as Sweet Sugar Bean.

12 Canadian First Nations Recipes: an across the country sample of recipes from First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people. The list was put together by Sharon Bond-Hogg and it makes me think I need to take a trip to Kelowna, British Columbia and the Kekuli Cafe! If you’re in the area this summer make sure and check it out.

Until next time…

Have a favourite summer dessert recipe? I’d love it if you’d share!

Fictional Settings: More Than Time and Place

Setting transports readers to a different time and place. I recently saw an article on what reading does for anxious people. That’s me. I’m a worrier. Reading transports me to another place in the blink of an eye. The setting can be familiar or exotic. But it always has to be meaningul to the characters, which in turn makes it meaningful to me, the reader.

As a writer setting is a tool used to enhance characters and their actions and reactions. It drives suspense. It supports the political and social environment of the story. Setting creates a mood or a feeling in the reader. Or I should say this is a continuing work-in-progress.

My fictional setting of Aspen Lake is that of a small resort town on the prairies. It is modeled after a real-life resort town. A place that is near and dear to my heart. I spent many sunny beach days there as child. I worked in the park for a couple of summers as a teenager. I met my husband there. Have camped their with my own family. It is important to me.

But in BACKLASH, Book 1 of my Aspen Lake series, that isn’t the case for my hero, Constable Chase Porter, who grew up with an abusive father and couldn’t wait to leave. Now he’s back and picking up the trail of wanted gang leader and living next door to the girl he left behind.

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And damn his scheming excuse of a realtor to hell. A quaint, post-Victorian home, his ass. Unless crumbling and broken-down constituted quaint. In that case, he’d nailed the description. Fine by him, he didn’t have forever in mind. A couple years tops, unless he hit the transfer to anywhere else lottery. He hated tranquil and quiet. He preferred noise and movement. Life after nine in the evening. Anonymity.

EXPOSED is Book 2 in the Aspen Lake series and will be released sometime this autumn. Seth Stone is the new guy in town. He’s downing a good job of keeping his head down until Kate Logan, boutique owner and head of Aspen Lake’s annual Gothic Revival Fair (which includes the Mad Man’s Ball), becomes the target of a fanatic.

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More lights, more candles, more pumpkins decorated the impromptu ballroom. Tables covered in white linen with bronze runners held vases bursting with fall flowers. Swags of purple hung down from the roof. It should have looked cheesy, but somehow it all came together with enough shadow to be mysterious and enough light to cast a spell. Seth focused on the nooks and crannies and the plenty of places to hide and countless ways to make trouble.

MIKE and GRACE’S story is the third book in the Aspen Lake story and a work-in-progress. Their pattern of avoiding each other is broken when a cold case pushes local Grace Bighill and Constable Michael Davenport together. Rumors threaten secrets which in turn tests the loyalty of all involved.

Her head swivelled owl-like. The rest of her was scared to move in case any dust escaped her person and landed on any one of numerous pristine surfaces. He seemed to have a thing for beige. Beige furniture. Beige lamps. Beige carpet. Okay the carpet probably came with the place so technically not his fault. But still…Grace made a mental note to clean her whole house which at the moment looked like a yarn factory and pastry shoppe had a war to which there was no clear winner.

I had a hard time narrowing my favourite fictional settings down to three. But this post is long already. If you’ve made it this far – thank you for sticking with it. I decided to pick a book from my childhood, one book pre-kids, and one I read with my book club and is also one of my all-time favourite books.

I can’t think of a book in which the fictional setting impacted me more than Room by Emma Donoghue. Told from the point of view of five-year-old Jack. I was captivated from page one.

I flat the chairs and put them beside Door against Clothes Horse. He grumbles and says there’s no room but there’s plenty if he stands up really straight.

We’ve all met at least one five-year-old along the way. They’re not the most reliable of narrators. But seeing things through Jack’s viewpoint, his thought process, his dialogue, is what makes this novel the incredibly moving and dramatic work of fiction.

In The Mists of Avalon Marion Zimmer Bradley takes us back to Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. The Arthur legend is a favourite of mine and has been since forever.  But Bradley’s version is very different and told from the perspective of the women of Avalon. it is a powerful look at double standards, male dominance, and the idea of predicting the future.

And then, in one great act of Druid magic, to protect the last precious refuge of their school, they had made the last great change in the world; that change which removed the Island of Avalon from the world of mankind. Now it lay hidden in the mist which concealed it, except from those initiates who had been schooled there or those who were shown the secret ways through the Lake.

It’s tempting to think of adjectives holding the power when describing setting, but in the above it’s the verbs that grab your attention and hold it.

It was Canada Day yesterday and I can’t think of a more Canadian setting than Green Gables as found in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. One of my most beloved stories.

To the west a dark church spire rose up against a marigold sky. Below was a little valley and beyond a long, gently-rising slope with snug farmsteads scattered along it. From one to another the child’s eyes darted, eager and wistful. At last they lingered on one away to the left, far back from the road, dimly white with blossoming trees in the twilight of the surrounding woods. Over it, in the stainless southwest sky, a great crystal-white star was shining like a lamp of guidance and promise.

It’s a panoramic look at what Anne, an orphan, thinks is going to be her new home given to us through Matthew’s eyes. The beauty is in the details.

What are some of your favourite fictional settings?

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Me! Standing on the spot that inspired Lover's Lane!

Me! Standing on the spot that inspired Lover’s Lane!