Monday, November 29, 2010

The Gift of Giving

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children . . . to leave the world a better place . . . to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
~ one of my favourites, Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am a big fan of giving donations as Christmas gifts and, in past years, I have tended to donate to large NGOs such as Unicef, Oxfam and Plan Canada. But, over time, my desire to help the most vulnerable has led me to streamline my giving. I work with children with developmental disabilities and significant medical challenges and my heart belongs to these beautiful beings. Life can be hard for children with special needs here in Canada, where social, medical and therapeutic supports are available. Children in other countries are not always so lucky. Not only do many of these children lack access to appropriate therapies and medical support, they may be abandoned by their parents due to a disability or orphaned due to a terrible disease that they also carry.

You can spread a little love to the world's most vulnerable children this Christmas season by supporting the following organizations:

ChinaKidz - A Children's Hospice and Palliative Care Service for abandoned children. This hospice gives dying children comfort and love and helps to provide medical support for children with correctable medical conditions and non-life-threatening developmental conditions. You can sponsor a room, a cot or give a single donation.

Reece's Rainbow - Reece's Rainbow is an advocacy network and sponsorship program that promotes the adoption of children with Down syndrome. In some countries, children with Down syndrome are abandoned or relinquished at birth and institutionalized for life if not adopted. On Reece's Rainbow, you can donate money to sponsor the adoption of a particular child and, at Christmas time, you receive a Christmas tree decoration in exchange. The average cost to complete an international adoption of one of "Reece's angels" is $25,000 and every penny donated makes a difference to a waiting family and child!

Vulnerable Children's Society - VCS is new society that has recently taken over fundraising for Faya Orphanage in Ethiopia. Faya provides a permanent home for children living with and without HIV/AIDS in Adama, Ethiopia. In addition to orphans living at Faya, VCS also provides opportunities for you to sponsor HIV+ children and families living in Adama. At Faya, vulnerable children are fed, loved and cared for. In the community, vulnerable children and families are provided with basic necessities, health care and school supplies. These sponsorships allow children to remain with their families rather than being relinquished to an orphanage.

Even a small gift can make life easier for those living with nothing. Let's give these children some hope this December.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Weekend Homemaker

So, I was back in business last weekend, attempting to cook up all of the fruits and veggies in my food box. I think that I spent at least half the weekend in the kitchen while listening to the newest Elizabeth George novel on audiobook (I love audiobooks!).

The gnocchi with kale was delicious although the frozen leftovers don't cook up as nicely as the freshly made pasta.

The vanilla roasted pears, as usual, were fantastic. My dad was visiting and I served them to him for breakfast, on top of some Scottish oatmeal. It was an excellent combination.

The banana chocolate chip muffins turned out well and made yummy workday breakfasts that my coworkers greatly admired.

And lastly, the Apple Parsnip Soup was the perfect meal during a very wintry week. It made 10 servings and I have them all doled out here, ready to be popped in a lunch bag or warmed up for a quick dinner.

It was a great weekend's work and made my work nights very easy. This weekend I will be focusing on making some curtains, cleaning, and perhaps, starting my Christmas baking.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Food Box Chronicles

After a 6 month hiatus from my organic food box delivery as a result of a move and a lovely summer and fall spent purchasing my goods from my neighbourhood farmer's market, I have finally resumed purchasing food boxes. My first one arrived on Thursday and I am so excited to see what new meals I will discover as I try to eat through each box!

This week I received: apples, onions, parsnip, pears, sunchokes, bananas, celery, kale and salad mix. My plans for all of these lovely fruits and veggies?

The sunchokes? I have no idea . . . even after searching google for recipes, nothing appeals. I think that this vegetable may be going the way of the kiwi and the avocado (which reside on my "never send" list). If you are familiar with this tuber, please advise.

I love my root veggies, but what the heck?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Like Bread and Butter

Have you ever asked yourself silly food questions? You know, what would I eat for my last meal? What meal could I eat every day for the rest of my life if I had to pick just one?

Well, for me, it would be bread. I love bread in every shape and flavour. I especially love homemade bread and, in my effort to follow my food rules, I have been baking my own more regularly. I am not quite sure if this leads to healthier eating or not, but the process makes me value every slice.

For a long time, my favourite recipe has been Simple Whole Wheat Bread. It makes a lot of bread and is very tasty. Last weekend, I made a regular loaf, 12 buns and a small loaf of cinnamon raisin bread all with one recipe (pictured). However, I recently discovered a recipe I like even better: French Bread (Rolls). They stay lovely and soft for days after baking and are delicious, even with 50% whole wheat flour.

Of course, bread wouldn't be my winning meal without butter and homemade strawberry jam or butter and cheese (and maybe pickles). Mmmm.

What meal could you eat every day for the rest of your life?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Milk Glass

I love milk glass. Some of the styles are a little "much" for my taste, but the cool white simplicity of pressed glass is right up my alley. And while milk glass has increased in price as it becomes a collectors item, it is still fairly inexpensive. I have been admiring several pieces of milk glass on Ebay and Etsy for the past few months, but couldn't quite justify the shipping costs, which were usually more than the glass itself. Happily for me, my favourite consignment shop, Good Things, has just reopened after a long (very long) closure for renovations. And, they usually have a nice little selection of milk glass. My recent purchases included:

This sweet little creamer and sugar bowl set.

Aren't they cute?

And this little vase.

I think the vase would look lovely with some very full tea roses or a couple of peonies. Unfortunately, I am allergic to pretty much every plant on the planet and cannot tolerate flowers inside, but I feel that just having a few vases around gives the suggestion of flowers, which I love.

I can't wait to expand my collection!

Friday, November 5, 2010


After about 4 hours of some serious picking and choosing and rearranging, I have managed to renovate my blog! Yay!

I had loved my old template, designed by Gisele Jaquenod, but I was ready for something new and she is no longer designing free templates. So, I decided to go it alone this time and used the new blogger template designer along with some personalizing modifications.

I am sure that there are more changes to come, but I'm glad that I've made it through the "messy" stage of the clean up.