I’ve ordered the turkey from a local grocer. I shopped for the rest of the food on ten percent Tuesday. By accident, but still. I’m feeling very organized. It feels like forever since I’ve hosted a holiday meal and I’m very excited about the whole business of setting out a feast.
My Go To Roast Turkey Recipe:
This cookbook, Canadian Living Cooks Step by Step, is over twenty years old. So, I guess you could say it’s vintage. The photos are certainly dated. But the recipes are still awesome. And you get basic step by step visual instructions. It’s one of my favourite cookbooks.
It’s true that in Canada British explorer Martin Frobisher held a thanksgiving feast in Newfoundland 1578 with salted beef and mushy peas so thankful was he for being alive after a failed attempt to discover the Northwest Passage, but Indigenous peoples have held fall harvest celebrations for thousands of years before the first settlers arrived. And no doubt they were tastier too.
Our big dinner is tomorrow, so I’ll be stuffing a turkey and mashing potatoes. There will be carrots and salad and buns. And linens on the dining room table. There will be cranberry sauce and dessert.There will be stories, old and new, told as we sit shoulder to shoulder at the table. If necessary, I’ll steer the talk away from politics. We’ll be together and we’ll hold the ones not able to make it in our hearts.
From our table to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
Until next time…
Turkey? Ham? Roast cauliflower? What’s your go to fancy feast dinner?
It’s been an interesting week. Canada is a Commonwealth country, and the Queen’s death has taken over news cycles, not just here, but around the world. Here in Canada, Monday has been declared a federal holiday by the Prime Minister, which means federal employees get the day off. Otherwise, individual provinces are responsible for statutory holidays for other workers. In Saskatchewan, Monday has been proclaimed September 19 as a Day of Mourning but otherwise it is off to work.
I guess now makes it a good time to have read a regency romance about a widow and a Marquess? How’s that for an awkward segue? To Have and to Loathe by Martha Waters is a delightfully witty read. Waters style reminds me of Emily Henry’s books. I have a bit of a nitpick though. I feel like the title is a bit of a mislead. These two do not loathe each other. I’m not sure they even dislike each other that much. They disagree and they bicker and it’s highly amusing but that’s not the same thing. As a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, still worth the read for the dialogue alone. Just don’t expect any actual loathing. sigh. Also, not sure what that says about me…
Until next time…
Are you planning to watch the Queen’s funeral on Monday? I think I’ll pass. But I totally get why you might want to witness history.
Is anyone else panicking at the thought of summer flying by too fast? I know I am. I also know that’s a sign I’m not living in the moment or being mindful. But there’s just so much stuff happening and I want to make sure I pack it all in, you know?Which means June has been busier than I’d like or would normally plan for.
That’s because we made the big decision to fill in our underground pool. A pool that had SO MANY great memories. But it wasn’t getting as much use as it once did and it needed major repairs. It was quite the process. And.. now it’s a giant garden. Our first tempt at growing vegetables on this scale. Things are sprouting…
Will do an update in July.
I’m determined to get out golfing more this year. Any other golfers out there? love being outside, I love walking, I love spending time with my husband. I enjoy the game. I’m bad at it. But I’m working at being okay with that. To that end, I don’t keep score. I take mulligans. A LOT of mulligans. And I quit when I’m not having fun anymore.
June is also National Indigenous History Month
If you’re wondering how to celebrate, or looking for a way to connect and learn, The McKenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan) is currently hosting a stunning exhibition: Radical Stitch. Showcasing work from 48 artists, it is one of the most significant exhibitions of Indigenous beading in North America.
It was a incredible experience and I highly recommend checking it out. So many distinct styles (floral, geometric, abstract, and others) that showcase the importance of beading to Indigenous peoples. But also how deeply personal, labour intensive, and complex the art of beading is.
“So to be a bead artist in this moment in time, it’s a radical act as Indigenous people and coming from cultures where colonial governments attempted to halt this practice, because in so many ways it was our strength. Radical Stitch recognizes it’s a radical act.”
I’d love to know what you did in June? Have any big projects on the go? Are you trying something new?
*The top photo was taken on Mother’s Day at the McKenzie Art Gallery. FYI: Currently the first Sunday of every month are reserved for visitors who require increased safety protocols because of COVID-19.
A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed a summer break from social media and that I’d be hanging out here, my little corner of the Internet. The pandemic turned the world upside down. And with all the other tragic news reaching us from various parts of the world, well…it all takes a toll. I found I was reaching from my phone too often. Scrolling mindlessly. The next thing I knew an hour had passed. I wasn’t any less tired. Or peaceful. Or joyful. Maybe that’s you too?
Time to re-evaluate and look for ways to fill that time that benefit my mental health. To make this summer one of creative expression. One of the best ways I know how to do that to to refill my creative well. One of my favourite things is painting with watercolours. It brings me joy. Whether I’m good at it or not good at it doesn’t matter to me. I just love playing around! I recently took a mini class. It was fun to get out and maybe learn a couple of techniques. But it’s not my intention to become skilled at watercolours. That’s too much pressure.
This is a gentle reminder to take care of yourself and remember to take the time to fill your creative well. Don’t be scared to try something new. To be bad at it and love doing it anyway. You might even want to pick up something you used to love to do but abandoned because you weren’t advancing. Pick a thing that you always wanted to try. Go into it with zero expectation of perfection. It’s not a waste of money if you don’t get any better. It’s an investment in your mental health.
We like to keep things interesting. So, this spring and summer season, we decided Friday nights will dinner (in the form of appetizers) followed by an 80s movie.
We started with Flashdance. And a charcuterie board. Yummy!
Believe it or not, this 80s girl had never watched Flashdance. But like every other 80s girl, I owned a version of the grey iconic oversized, falling-off-the-shoulder sweatshirt. You know the one.
Spoiler Alerts Head.
So the plot.
This movie is an 80s era Cinderella tale. Parentless, eighteen year old Alex lives on her own, works two jobs, and dreams of being a prima ballerina. She has no formal training but she’s incredibly talented and dances at night as an exotic dancer at a bar/nightclub. When she’s not dancing, she working her day job as a welder. She also rides her bike all over Pittsburgh. Of course, she falls for her divorced boss, who’s also somewhat young, and very handsome. And successful. Most of the non-dancing scenes follow their budding relationship.
Does it stand the test of time?
The music is awesome. The cinematography is fantastic. The dancing is fabulous. Kind of like a music video. Because, hello, 80s. Other than that, it’s what happens when a man tries to write a romance headlining a strong female character. We end up with a teenager sleeping with her boss. Said boss also secures her the coveted dance audition behind her back. Takes his ex-wife to a function instead of her. But don’t worry it didn’t mean anything, please don’t be mad at me. Here, look, we’ll have more sex and everything will be okay.
Warning; Also includes racial slurs and exploitation of women.
This whole idea of watching retro movies, besides loving the 80s, was inspired by one of my favourite podcasts.
I love talking about books and I love sharing books with you that I’ve loved reading. Genevieve Graham is a favourite author of mine and I would be delighted to recommend Letters Across the Sea to anyone who is looking for a read this cloudy Friday.
Categories: Fiction / Romance / Historical / Strong Romantic Elements / Canadian History / 20th Century / Canadian Author
If you’re reading this letter, that means I’m dead. I had obviously hoped to see you again, to explain in person, but fate had other plans.
At eighteen years old, Molly Ryan dreams of becoming a journalist, but instead she spends her days working any job she can to help her family through the Depression crippling her city. The one bright spot in her life is watching baseball with her best friend, Hannah Dreyfus, and sneaking glances at Hannah’s handsome older brother, Max.
But as the summer unfolds, more and more of Hitler’s hateful ideas cross the sea and “Swastika Clubs” and “No Jews Allowed” signs spring up around Toronto, a city already simmering with mass unemployment, protests, and unrest. When tensions between the Irish and Jewish communities erupt in a riot one smouldering day in August, Molly and Max are caught in the middle, with devastating consequences for both their families.
Six years later, the Depression has eased and Molly is a reporter at her local paper. But a new war is on the horizon, putting everyone she cares about most in peril. As letters trickle in from overseas, Molly is forced to confront what happened all those years ago, but is it too late to make things right?
From the desperate streets of Toronto to the embattled shores of Hong Kong, Letters Across the Sea is a poignant novel about the enduring power of love to cross dangerous divides even in the darkest of times—from the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child.
Genevieve Graham’s books are always the perfect combination of character and plot tied to true historical events. Letters Across the Sea gives us a glimpse of life in Toronto in 1933. The Depression has devastated the economy. In the years leading up to World War II poverty, discontent and racism are rampant. Molly Ryan’s life is forever changed on the night of the Christie Pits Riot in August of 1933.
Molly Ryan possesses some the qualities I admire most. She is steadfast, resilient and loyal. She survives with her ideals intact while doing what she needs to do to feed her family and help her community. As Depression begins to ease, Molly leaves behind what might have been and lands her dream job as a reporter. Then war breaks out and Molly is once again on the brink of loosing those closest to her.
As a Jewish man, Max Dreyfus is well acquainted with racism. As Hitler’s hateful fanaticism reaches Canadian shores, he can’t stay silent, he must step up and do something. After the Christie Pits Riot, Max leaves Toronto and Molly behind to become a doctor. Max is as steadfast and loyal as Molly. He’s also a kind, compassionate, and strives to do the right thing. Which I think are admirable qualities in a hero.
When Max returns home, his experience in the horrific Battle of Hong Kong and as a returning prisoner of war brings him into contact with Molly, who is determined to tell the stories of returning prisoners of war from Hong Kong. The past catches up with both of them and they are forced to confront it.
Letters Across the Sea is emotional and compelling. The characters are strong and well-developed. The plot grabs your attention and keeps it. The pacing is perfect. The romance sweet. Highly recommend.
Genevieve Graham has a new book out this April.
Until next time…
Who else enjoys Genevieve Graham’s books? Or drop a note in the comments and tell me what you’re reading?
Escaping our daily worries can be a challenge, especially these days, and it is no secret that reading can be a powerful tool in balancing our mental health. So, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not reading. Listening to audiobooks provides the same benefits as reading print or ebooks. Each of them is a different experience, but each are valuable. Audiobooks are simply a different way to consume content. They offer us an opportunity to fit books into our day in a new way.
Ways I Listen to Audiobooks and Some Suggestions:
I don’t know about you, but I get tired of listening to the latest hit single on the radio for the 100th time, so instead I might listen to something like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, narrated by Rosamund Pike. Hopefully we’ll be out in our yards and gardens soon. This is one of my favourite times to listen to audiobooks. What better way to pass the time pulling weeds, then listening to something by Nora Roberts, like Northern Lights, narrated by Gary Littman. I’m also clumsy. But I can walk and listen without the fear of getting a concussion. Maybe try a Susanna Kearsley book, like her latest The Winter Sea, narrated by Rosalind Landor. And, these days, when keeping our distance is essential, why not try listening to Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert, narrated by Adjoa Andoh, while shopping for groceries and take the boring out of picking out fruit.
The popularity of audiobooks show there is a real thirst for audio content. And as much as audiobooks are for those of us who love reading, they are also popular who people who don’t love books. Not everyone consumes content in the same way. As much as they are a boon to those of us who can’t read enough, they are essential to people who can’t read print or ebooks.
The video below has some great tips on how to get started with audiobooks!
I’m always about romance novel recommendations! Check out Audiofile Magazine’s Listen To These Five Scandalous Romances. “Judge for yourself if these couples are outrageous, skirting propriety, or simply falling in love on their own terms.” With audiobooks by Mary Balogh, Olivia Dade, Rosie Danan, Carly Phillips, and Hadley Beckett.
If you love unreliable narrators, you’ll love Sadie. The trouble starts immediately after Sadie and her family move to a new town for a fresh start. Mary Kubica is very skilled at creating atmosphere and she doesn’t exactly this with the Fousts’ new home, and the small island off the coast of Maine. It’s dark and claustrophobic and creepy. Soon Sadie is suspected of murder and the more she tries to unravel the reasons why her neighbour died the less she understands. The characters are well developed, the setting is excellently drawn, and the plot is twisty. Definitely recommend.
Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.
But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.
Success doesn’t protect people from the worst happening. Enter Marin and Derek, successful entrepreneurs with nowhere to go but up, until their son is kidnapped from a busy, local market. Sixteen months later Marin is still searching for answers when she gets more bad news. Her husband is having an affair. Encouraged by her best friend, and long ago ex-boyfriend, her anger and grief have her poised on the brink of a catastrophic decision from which there is no turning back. Marin’s grief is so real, it made me uncomfortable at times. There is nothing anyone can do to help or make things better for her, or is there… I didn’t always like her. In fact, there aren’t any likeable characters in this book. Then again, you shouldn’t have to bother with likability when you’re grief-stricken. But I admired Marin and there was never a moment I didn’t root for her. Definitely recommend.
All it takes to unravel a life is one little secret…
Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family—until their world falls apart the day their son Sebastian is taken.
A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix.
Billed as a cross between a historical psychological thriller and a Swedish gothic, this book was intense and beautifully written. Wolf Winter follows the journey of Maija and her family from Finland to Blackasen, where they hope for a fresh start. Then a man is found dead and Maija is certain it is not animal related, but murder. Compelled to investigate, she learns more about the history of the people living in the shadow of the mountain, and the mountain itself, which is brooding and menacing. Winter comes and it is one of the worst in memory. I loved Maija. She is a strong, stoic, take charge type of character who battles the elements, the residents, and her station in life in order to solve a mystery. She unearths long buried menacing secrets that threaten to destroy her and her daughters. At times, it’s a bit disjointed and a bit wandering, but overall I loved it. Highly recommend.
Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms Blackåsen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.
While herding the family’s goats on the mountain, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors, Eriksson. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. Compelled to investigate despite her neighbors’ strange disinterest in the death and the fate of Eriksson’s widow, Maija is drawn into the dark history of tragedies and betrayals that have taken place on Blackåsen. Young Frederika finds herself pulled towards the mountain as well, feeling something none of the adults around her seem to notice.
As the seasons change, and the “wolf winter,” the harshest winter in memory, descends upon the settlers, Paavo travels to find work, and Maija finds herself struggling for her family’s survival in this land of winter-long darkness. As the snow gathers, the settlers’ secrets are increasingly laid bare. Scarce resources and the never-ending darkness force them to come together, but Maija, not knowing who to trust and who may betray her, is determined to find the answers for herself. Soon, Maija discovers the true cost of survival under the mountain, and what it will take to make it to spring.
Good Lord, this book is twisted. But somehow not violent. Which is weird considering the nature of the book and the characters’ extracurricular activities. But the actual violence exists in the background, which is somehow both a relief and disturbing. Because isn’t this what happens in real life? Our fascination with the perpetrators of violence far outlasts our concern and sympathy for the victims. But this book doesn’t pretend to be about the victims. It’s about the killers, a married couple who become serial killers to spice up their fifteen year marriage. Sounds horrifying, doesn’t it? Told in first person by a husband who is charming, likeable and straddles a fine line. He loves his wife and is trying to do what’s best for his family. I found myself oddly charmed by him and having to remind myself he’s one of the bad guys. Like he’s a REALLY bad guy. One of the worst. Then things start to unravel and he wonders how well he knows his wife…Recommend.
A couple’s fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting...
Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.
We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.
We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.
There you have it! Four books with varying degrees of suspense and intensity. Perfect for any night.
Tomorrow marks the end of another month and 2020 is a mere two months away! Autumn in Saskatchewan never lasts long enough to suit me and this year winter has arrived way too early. Tonight we’ll be carving pumpkins and tomorrow we’ll be setting them out on frozen steps or snowy driveways to attract trick-or-treaters. Well, hopefully not the tricksters…
Speaking of tricksters. I read a couple of great books in October written by a new-to-me author, Eden Robinson, who I met at The Saskatchewan Festival of Words this summer. Below is a photo of her interview with Jael Richardson. And let me tell you, she was has the best laugh! It fills a room and you can’t help but join in.
I started with Son Of A Trickster, Book 1 in The Trickster Trilogy, and finalist for The Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2017. I quickly moved onto Book 2, Trickster Drift, winner of the 2019 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. I loved these books and I can’t wait to read the third one when it comes out.
But for those who steer clear of books with serious accolades to their name, don’t worry.The beautiful thing about these two books is how very readable they are. If you like edgy coming of age stories with a paranormal bent to them, these books might just be the thing for you. Robinson deals with some heavy, tense issues in an authentic way and works at dismantling a lot of old and tired Indigenous stereotypes, and these books will have you smiling in places you least expect to. Add to that, Robinson’s way with dialogue is magic! Click here to read an excerpt! CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) is adapting a TV series from her books called The Trickster, set to air in 2020.
Meet Jared Martin: sixteen-year-old pot cookie dealer, smoker, drinker and son with the scariest mom ever. But Jared’s the pot dealer with a heart of gold–really. Compassionate, caring, and nurturing by nature, Jared’s determined to help hold his family together–whether that means supporting his dad’s new family with the proceeds from his baking or caring for his elderly neighbours. But when it comes to being cared and loved, Jared knows he can’t rely on his family. His only source of love and support was his flatulent pit bull Baby, but she’s dead. And then there’s the talking ravens and the black outs and his grandmother’s perpetual suspicion that he is not human, but the son of a trickster.
As my October recommendation, I urge you to go out and get the two books from The Trickster Series. Tomorrow night I’ll be handing out candy and sending out thoughts to keep all the little (and big) trick-or-treaters warm and safe. Happy Halloween to those of you who enjoy the shenanigans!
Until next time…
What book(s) did you read in October? Inquiring minds want to know!
Cozy sweaters, tea in the evening, cool walks, and falling leaves. Just a short note to ask who else loves fall? Being a writer is a weird thing. Outside the leaves are turning colour and the air is cooler, but the story I’m writing takes place in springtime. Both are transition seasons. Spring is bright and loud and hopeful. Autumn is quiet and contemplative, fostering a sense of gathering up what we started in spring. One is a time to recover from the winter and the other is a time to prepare for the harsher weather to come. At least, on the Canadian prairies that’s the case.