Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Nights

     30 Days of Night, awesome vampire flick
not to be confused with this post, but I kind of know how this guy feels

     Hurray, today is the last day of NaBloPoMo for November. I did it-insert small happy dance. No prizes for me or my inspiring blogger Jennifer over at Just Jennifer. (I read about the contest over there and have followed along with her month of posts.) I guess we will just have to accept blogging as its own reward. (although a short inspirational email from the coordinators wouldn't be unappreciated)

     What to say about the experience?

     I was a little surprised how easy it was. Other than a few tense moments last night trying to publish my post, Blogger ate it twice???, writing everyday was a breeze. No crushing writer's block. I went through most of the month with 5 or 6 posts in draft. Having ideas has never been my problem.

     I finally learned how to properly use the scheduling button. Small feats of technical prowess.

     I completely enjoyed writing everyday. Rather than running out of ideas, the more I wrote, read, browsed, the more things just poured out of my poor over stimulated brain. I had a lot of fun with the Perils of Paul, Sweet Saturday and Savoury Sunday, finally got to do some of the blogging and family research posts I wanted and followed along with my cousin's Tuesday Coffee Chat. Throw in a few others, the SOC post being my favourite, and it was done. I have ideas for at least another month of posts. But.....

     I had no idea how much time it would take. I like to write, pen and paper write. Put a keyboard in front of me and all of a sudden things slow right down.... to a crawl. My nights for the last month have been taken up putting these grand ideas down. It represents hours and hours and hours of time. I've never been one of those jot down an awesome post in 15 minutes kind.

     I write, spellcheck, curse Blogger's version of spellcheck because it really isn't spellchecking English as I know it, edit, cut, copy and paste that part over to here so it makes more sense, expand on that, re read then remove that because now the post is just getting way too long, preview, save as draft, then start all over again tomorrow before I actually publish or schedule to publish. I blame past high school and university profs for instilling essay writing skills so deeply in my brain.

     Thank God I don't, as of yet, use any of the social media to push my blog. I don't tweet, stumble, link or any thing else or I would be sitting in front of my computer well into the new year.

     Throw in reading other people's posts, dropping a comment here and there and all of a sudden enormous chunks of my night are just gone. This whole month has just flown by. My house looks like a hurricane swept through it, there is laundry to do, my recipe files have to be resorted after an unfortunate clumsy incident, Christmas decorating to be done, holiday baking not even started yet, no shopping for holiday baking, over 300 family emails to go through to sort out family data and pictures, 70 recipe emails to re write and eventually post and on and on and on. Strangely, life did not pause so I could take the month off and write. Damn.

     I would love to write for a living, doing this has re affirmed that for me. I don't so unfortunately real life has got to re assert itself. I've got a bunch of catching up to do. Until Toronto goes through 30 days of night like Barrow (minus the vampire attack). I'm going to have to take a bit of a break and cut back on my online time. I'll miss it though. First thing on the adgenda, a night of beer and bad television.

      How do you find the time to do your blog posts?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Giving Season

     I think my cousin must have a pipeline directly to my brain sometimes. Our Coffee Chat theme this week has been on my mind a lot lately.

    As the holiday season approaches there is always the list. What would you like this year? Whether you are making your own or getting them from others, lists. This year has been harder than others because I don't really need or want anything that money can buy. I know, strange but true.

     I'm not a big Christmas spender at the best of times. I don't buy gifts just to buy gifts. I prefer to make things, personalize the experience a little. I've never really bought in to the consumerism side of things and I don't feel bad if I can't afford to spend a lot. That has never been the focus of the holidays for me, or to an extent our family.

     I love the get togethers, the food, the laughs and conversation. Catching up with cousins, aunts, uncles and my grandparents. We're all busy but at the holidays everyone seems to take a little more time to get out and visit.

     Back to the list, or blank email my Mom kept asking me for. While procrastinating I received an email. I don't know if it is true but I have heard and read several things before about how a lot of money charity takes in never actually reaches the target. This one listed the top four of the worst with the Salvation Army and Shriners being the top two of the best.

     I have been involved in food drives, clothing drives,  volunteering time helping with local things, there is even a water buffalo with my name on it somewhere out there. A friend donated it in my name a couple of years ago. I've never directly been involved with a charity group. That got me reading.

     I ended up here at Plan Canada, Gifts of Hope. Intellectually, I know there is poverty. I know people are in desperate need of everything we take for granted, right down to a safe glass of water to drink. Here I am moaning about not being able to put together a list, happy about losing weight. Kind of bitching I have more than enough?? We should all be so lucky.

     I just may have to re think that list.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Perils of Paul, Episode 3 - The Invasion

     You've read about the Cliffhanger, heard of my battles with the Evil Empire. It is inevitable that The Invasion should follow, the continuing saga of me.

     My house is an old semi detached. That means a limestone foundation and a shared wall. It also means lots of little nooks and crannies. Perfect for...., you guessed, Mickey and all his friends. That's right, mice, not a mouse, mice. I'm pretty sure he (or she) come from an extended family at least as large as mine.

    
     These aren't just any mice. These are the Cirque du Soliel, gravity defying, acrobatic mice. They preform death defying feats of climbing to get to the top of my fridges, occasionally stroll out to enjoy some television with us in the living room and have inspired some truly Mariah Carey worthy shrieks.(and I live in a house of guys) No one has ever mistaken them for a ladybug. ( I love that story Esther)

     Of course it is up to me to rid the house of these guests. Unfortunately, that isn't as easy as it sounds. Mice come where the food is. My housemates are varying degrees of pigs. That equals a never ending all you can eat mouse buffet. If you feed them they will come. Of course I have mentioned this but apparently they don't believe me. Obviously cleaning up after yourself is far more effort than dealing with a few mice. Especially since it will be me dealing with them.

     Sometimes it is no fun being king.



  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Savoury Sunday, Lemon Sage Wine Mustard

     Another gift giving, canning recipe. This is a new recipe for me, tested out on my Thanksgiving guests in October. It has all of the things I love about making my own canned products at home. Unique, delicious and infinitely versatile. Although I didn't follow all of the directions for making this to a tee, it worked out beautifully. Bright citrus, musky sage all surrounded by tangy mustard.

Lemon-Sage Wine Mustard
Ingredients
1 bunch of fresh sage, enough for 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup liquid honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
Grated zest and juice of two large lemons

Directions
Finely chop enough sage to measure 1/3 cup and set aside.
Coarsely chop 1/2 cup of sage leaves and stems.
In a small saucepan combine coarse sage and white wine.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, pressing sage to release the oils.
Remove from heat, cover tightly and let steep for 5 minutes.
Strain to remove solids.
Add mustard seeds to liquid and let stand at room temperature about 2 hours, until most of the liquid is absorbed. (I forgot and ended up soaking the seeds overnight, it was still fine)
Prepare 5 125ml/1/2 cup canning jars as per manufacturer's instructions.
In a blender or food processor, combine mustard seeds with white wine vinegar and blend until desired consistency. (I kept mine very grainy)
Transfer to a small sauce pan and add remaining ingredients, lemon zest and juice, honey, salt and finely chopped sage.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by about a third, roughly 20 minutes. Stir often to prevent scorching.
Remove from heat and ladle into prepared jars.
Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.
Remove from canner and let cool.
Check seals and refrigerate any unsealed jars.

     If you know anyone who loves gourmet mustard, this is the gift recipe for you. I couldn't help wondering what it would be like to pair, lemon with thyme, oregano or savoury, orange with rosemary or lime with cilantro or just the lemon and honey alone. I think all would give excellent results.

     It looks far more complicated to make than it is. This was a very forgiving recipe. I wondered how the longer soaking time affected the taste? It didn't seem to make any difference, this was one of the best mustards I have tasted.

     However you decide to make it, this recipe from Bernardin's Complete Book of Home Preserving is definitely worth the effort. Enjoy.

Sweet Saturday, Maple Walnut Pear Conserve

     This the post that almost wasn't. First, it is a gorgeous day out, 12 degrees, at the end of November. Hardly ever happens. Second, I'm prepping to do a gingerbread house demo for a couple of relatives tomorrow so, shopping, looking for the recipe and cleaning the house to avoid embarrassment.(I'm not a domestic god) Finally, clumsy met in a hurry and I dropped the folders containing the hundreds of recipes I have all over the floor. All mixed up, will take for ever to sort back out.

     Luckily, thinking ahead me, already had this recipe pulled out, not that I remembered that right away, I spent a while looking for it anyway. With Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is on everyone's mind. This and tomorrow's post will be gift giving ideas if you like doing that sort of thing. I definitely do.

     This is how I received the recipe, not how I make it and I'm trying a new preparation this year so I'll share how that turns out. The original works well and I only make one small substitution.

Maple Walnut Pear Conserve
Ingredients
4 cups coarsely chopped, peeled and cored pears
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh or bottled
1 57g package of pectin crystals
3 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Prepare six 1 cup/250 ml canning jars and lids as per manufacturer's instructions
In a heavy bottomed stock pot, combine pears and lemon juice.
Add pectin.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
Stir in sugar and bring back to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
(A rolling boil is one you can't stir down?
Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup and nuts.

Ladle into prepared jars leaving1/4 inch head space.
Apply lids and bands, tighten to fingertip tightness.
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Remove from canner and let cool.
Check seals, refrigerate any unsealed jars. Will be good for about three weeks in the fridge.

Substitutions
Use any kind of nuts or omit them, I use pecans because I like them better than walnuts
You can replace the nuts with an equal amount of raisins, craisins or dried cherries.

     This is not supposed to set firm like jam. It should be about the consistency of honey. Because it is a little runnier, you can adjust the sugar a bit. I usually use this on French toast or in cookies so it doesn't matter how runny it actually is. If it is really runny, the set failed, it will separate. Just give the jar a shake and enjoy. As long as it sealed properly, the contents should be fine.

     The recipe is from an insert that came with my jars but there is no credit attached to the recipe so I'm assuming it is from Bernardin. I'm trying it with liquid pectin this year. We'll see how that turns out.

     Typically, I give away about 60-70 jars of jams, pickles, preserves and jellies over the holiday season. There is something about giving and receiving home made treats that just makes the holidays that much better. Enjoy.



Friday, November 25, 2011

Dowsett Island

     If you have been following along with me, you know two things. My grandfather just turned 90 and our family hunts and fishes. While at Grandpa's birthday shindig, I saw a  real estate listing my cousin Susan had found for "Dowsett Island". This is a little family history stub with the details.

     The island is located in Horseshoe Bay off of the Big Rideau Lake. It's a hunting/fishing camp that boasts a main building with two sleeping cabins, docks and a boat launch from the mainland. The only way on or off is by boat. Now that I knew of its existence, Susan and I went on an adventure to find it.

The view from the point, well one of the points
This shot is across the mouth of the bay

The stairs leading down to the boat launch

And more

And then just a few more

The view from the launch
This looks out from Horseshoe Bay into the Big Rideau
Dowsett Island is off to the left
Directly ahead at the other side of the lake is Portland

From the water looking up at all those stairs

     Hunting and fishing camps were big business on the Rideau for several decades. Tourists from all over Canada and the US would come to visit the area. Here is what I know of its history once again supplied by Susan.(and in her words mostly)

     I have traced back to find Jack Dowsett, born in 1882, living and working in New York state as a blacksmith owning a shop in Rutland, Jefferson Co. in 1905 (age~23). By 1910, he had become an American citizen, was married and had a 3 yr old daughter and was still living in Rutland. By 1920 (age ~ 38) they were living in Utica, Oneida Co. and had 4 children. Jack's occupation had changed to 'salesman'. I concluded that it may have been in the late 1920's to early 1940's when the "camp" saw it's boom . I took some clues from history but most from pictures and dates.

     Jack and Grace returned to the island ~1957 to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Elva Dowsett Lorimer, husband Joseph, owned the island by then and had owned it for a while. (concluded from pictures again). Jack died in 1963. He would have been ~80.

     I spoke with my older sister Lynda about our adventure and she confirmed my suspicion that the place we were where the current owner's access the water could not be the original land's end. She said she remembers it being level with the water, like a little beach. This is what is in the background of the hunting pictures. You could not see the island from the launching point. You rowed out and to the left which is what we found to be true.

     Susan also had these pictures of my grandfather Evon as a young man hunting with his uncles and cousins. In the background you can get glimpses of the camp and sleeping cabins.

My grandfather, Evon Craig and Jack Dowsett(?)
Going by canoe out to the island


Jack or Bert Dowsett, Evon and Sonny (Samuel) Dowsett

Evon Craig and Bert Dowsett


Evon, Sonny Dowsett(?), Bert Dowsett and Bert Lorimer


Evon, Bert Lorimer, Sonny Dowsett


Front: Evon, Joe and Bert Lorimer
Back: Sonny and Bert Dowsett(?)

     The pictures may seem a little gruesome to some, but hunting and fishing have always been a big part of our family traditions. Venison, moose, elk, duck, goose and any number of lake fish have graced out tables and still do. No sport hunters in my family, looking for trophies. To me, these are pictures of a young Evon enjoying time with his uncles, doing something he loved to do and still does. He was out deer hunting this season with my uncles and cousins, at 90.

     Across the water on the point, I still don't know exactly where, another Dowsett uncle had a cottage. That is where my Grandfather and Grandmother spent a week for their honeymoon.

     For the low low price of 325k you can own an island and a little piece of my family history. Thanks for dropping by.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Perils of Paul, Episode II: Battling the Evil Food Network

     As promised, the second episode in the continuing series, The Perils of Paul. This week, battling the evil empire, The Food Network. What? The Food Network, evil?? Sad but true. With tongue firmly in cheek, I prepare for combat.


     Personally, I don't watch. No explosions, zombies, car chases, pretty much too tame to keep me interested. Yes I have seen an episode or two of various shows but they don't really capture my attention, I'll explain later. I'm not the only person in my house and there are five televisions. Plenty of opportunity for the insidious evil to creep in.


Specialty flour

The latest of the designer salts

Duck fat

     Recognise these, your house hold may be in danger as well. Mine is littered with little (and not so little) packages of exotic salts, designer flour, I even have duck fat in my freezer. That's right, duck fat. Why? Well for duck fat confit of course. It has been taking up space for three years.

     I place the fault squarely at the feet of Iron Chef, Jamie Oliver, Nigella and all the others. Inevitably, these ingredients creep into my house after debuting on one show or another. To cook, one must have these rather exotic and might I add expensive ingredients.

    I don't care one way or the other, not my money. Here's the thing, they end up taking up valuable kitchen real estate, cupboard space. They never end up getting used. The Swan's Down flour incident did provide a laugh though.

     I use all purpose flour, for everything. I was told in no uncertain terms, by he who shall remain nameless,  Swan's Down was the sh*t when it came to cake flour. A must have. I believe Nigella boosted it, but it's not important who. The cake was made but unfortunately, didn't come with instructions about how to assemble the spring form pan the cake was to be baked in. Bottom goes in upside down, cake leaks all over the oven, Swan's Down flour never used since. "Cause of course, it's the flour's fault.

     Along with the ingredients come "authentic" preparation methods. That's how this came into my house.


A cooking implement or accident waiting to happen?





     Don't recognise a traditional coconut grating stool direct from the Philippines? How sad for you. Every household needs one, to be used once, then gather dust. "It's really hard to use", No sh*t Sherlock.

     Every meal becomes an ordeal. Each ingredient in it's own dish or container, every chopping board and mixing bowl pressed into service. Because there is that team of thousands behind the scenes, waiting to swoop in, clean up and set everything right before the next scene. Not so much, remember. Cooking bacon or sausage for breakfast now takes hours, because that's how-insert name here-does it. It brings out the flavour. Really??

     As much as I enjoy sampling different flavours and cuisines, I see no need to incorporate pig's blood, squid ink, parti coloured salt or civet crap coffee into my repertoire. I like bacon as bacon, I don't need it candied, in cookies or in cupcakes. Panini is just a grilled cheese, with an expensive panini press. You can call it charcouterie but it still makes a Ploughman's Lunch. It's all just spin.

     I miss the days of cooking with Julia Child or the Galloping Gourmet. It seemed simpler somehow. No extolling the virtues of the latest ingredient, no line of cookware to promote, no prepared line of gourmet treats. If I wanted to watch spoiled chefs behave badly, I'd go to work. I've seen a few. They are not like the majority of ones I have worked with.

      I get it, sell, sell, sell. We are a nation of consumers, they're giving us what we want. I find a lot of what I have seen to be more flash than substance, but, I'm not a regular viewer. Where are the canning shows? Where are the basics of cooking, you know, using what you have in your kitchen to make interesting, affordable meals. Showing you what the rules are before showing you, you can break them. Those are shows I'd watch. Ordinary cooks actually coping with day to day meals, on a budget. That should be the next Iron Chef challenge, a week of meals for under X amount of dollars. I'd be in front of the screen for that one.

     What's your favourite cooking show or what would you like to see on television? (Keep it cooking related LOL)

(disclaimer-Just in case you missed the "tongue firmly in cheek' reference earlier, I do not really think The Food Network is evil)    

    

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I will follow...



     I was introduced to blogging a little over a year ago by my cousin, Rorybore. She has her own blog and I asked her about how best to set up my own little space on the web. I had ideas but everything hadn't come together just yet. I checked out hers before taking the plunge myself.

     Of course now that I had my own space, I wanted people to read it. I needed followers. I admit, it was not my first concern. The only people I thought would be interested in my personal blog were my family, some friends and a few co workers who wanted family recipes. They were the people I was writing for after all.

     I sent out my emails, letting people know what I was doing and voila, I had my followers. Exactly 15 to date. Am I disappointed? At first, a little. Who doesn't want to be popular? Now? Not a bit. Here's why.

     Not everyone chooses to follow publicly. I had a very pleasant surprise from a co-worker. We were chatting and she mentioned how much she enjoyed my blog. Then she preceded to talk about all the things on my blog. She was reading it quite thoroughly and I had no idea.

    I don't follow many blogs myself, less than a dozen all told. I usually book mark them. I check by hundreds from time to time, sometimes spending an entire night catching up, but a daily update, only a few. Truth be told, I have no idea how people find the time to keep up with a longer reading list.

     The other reason I follow so few is, even the blogs, or writers I like, not every post is of interest to me. Sometimes only one in a handful catches my interest, other times it's every post. That's a lot to try and winnow through when my time to read is limited. Life is busy for all of us.

     My blog touches on such a variety of subjects, researching family history, recipes, family photos, gardening and my rantings and ravings. I haven't got a focus for people to follow. I don't belong to a group who share similar experiences, like the SAHM community, I don't post recipes every week for the cooks out there or regularly provide research tips for those hunting their ancestors. The only real unifying factor in my blog is that I wrote it. I write about things that matter to me or catch my interest at the time. I can't honestly say I'm surprised my following is low. You never know what I'm going to go on about next. LOL

     Here is my advice, for what it is worth.

     If you want followers, give them a focus. Let them know what they can expect when they drop by for a visit. It isn't limiting at all. You can still write about all kinds of different things provided you keep a common thread. There are lots of networks, blog hops etc you can participate in to increase your following.

     If you are more like me, unfocused, maybe slightly out of focus, don't despair if your following is low. Followers does not equal readership. I get far more emails than comments about my blog. Relatives saying hi, researchers saying thanks, that kind of thing. It all depends what you want.

     Regardless of whether attracting followers is important to you or not, give them options to be able to follow along. The social media icons, the RSS feed and a way to contact you. (You'll notice I do not currently have all those things, I'm working on it LOL)

     Having a lot of followers is a great thing. Who doesn't like some recognition for your hard work? Not having them doesn't mean no one is listening. Who knows, it might even be me.

     Do you follow?
    

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Love and Marriage

     Another Tuesday Coffee Chat with my cousin aka RoryBore. I wasn't going to participate in this week's chat, I'm not married. Of course because I had read the prompt, it's all I've been thinking about lately. Gotta get it out of my brain and move on..LOL No tips on love or marriage, I'd give better advice on particle physics, just my musings.
     I've been in relationships, I've been single. Every time I'm single, my coupled up friends start trotting out prospective dates. I find it annoying that being on your own is always seen as lacking some how. You really see what your friends think of you when they start parading potential mates.

     I'm not married. I used to think I would like to be. As I was thinking over the prompt, I realized, I have no desire to be married, none. When did that change? Did it change? Doesn't everyone want to get married?

        With marriage comes the idea of love. The grand sweeping passion, overcoming all obstacles, committed together forever, I can't live with out you, never having to say you're sorry, you complete me, kind of love. At least that's what the movies say. I must have missed a memo.

     I've been devastated by a break up, caused that feeling in others. Never have I felt that I couldn't go on without them. No one has ever "completed" me. I'm always saying, "I'm sorry". Infidelity and money problems proved to be obstacles not overcome. "Till death do us part", is the opening line for a cage match.

     Although I could be described as a bit of a loner, I like being in a relationship. I think it brings out some of my better qualities. I've never felt I needed to be in a relationship. My life is as full when I'm single as it is when I'm not. A partner doesn't complete me, I do. I'm already whole.

     I'm not afraid of commitment. My current relationship is 12 years and going, maybe 13. Neither of us is sure of the date. We've laughed together, cried together, screamed at each other, failed and triumphed together. Being married wouldn't change things. The reception would be fun though.

     Is there one true love? I going to come down on the side of not for me. Every person brings something into your life. I have loved them all for who and what they were and how they changed my life. For ever is a long time. Expecting you will grow and change together is a really tall order. The best I can promise is I will try. 
     Back to the whole marriage thing. Am I anti marriage? Do I think it is irrelevant in today's society? Not at all. I love weddings. Have seen strong, happy, enduring marriages and also ones that weren't. I've seen people stay together against all odds and ones who stayed for all the wrong reasons.

     My own nuptials, I expected them without really ever wanting them. I've had opportunities and if I really wanted to I could have. Coming to that realization was a bit of a surprise. I'm not really sure why no interest in marriage on my part.

   We're all different, our expectations, how we see the world, how we experience things, what we want. Marrying and having someone to share that with you is a great thing. Not, isn't anything other than another point of view.    

Monday, November 21, 2011

Growing Your Family Tree, Getting started

     Building a family tree can be a lot of fun and a very rewarding experience. If you like solving puzzles, this is the ultimate. It is also a lot of work. I'm going to take you through some of the things I've encountered building the trees that are here in the "Kitchen". I'm still a newbie, not even a year of research under my belt. I've made a ton of mistakes. Hopefully, I can help you avoid making some of the same.

     The first thing to decide, how serious are you? What do you intend to do with your tree? I knew I wanted to post it online. I didn't originally take it very seriously. In my defense, I had no idea anyone would ever see it beyond my immediate family. I didn't realise what I was getting into when I started my research.

     My original intent was not really motivated by tracing an extensive tree for any of my families. I wanted to identify people in photos. I didn't want them to be nameless faces, staring out from forgotten family albums. I called the project, putting leaves on the family tree. The rest grew from that. An un tapped photo album still makes my heart beat faster.

     The family histories are by far the most viewed posts I have done, thousands of page views, hundreds of emails, a couple of comments, responses from all over the globe. People take this very seriously. So do I, now.

    If you are going to publish what you find, be as accurate as possible. Outline your sources, identify if something is just anecdotal. Whether you intend it or not, publishing things you can't back up can waste  a lot of research time and money. In doing my outlines, I have run across two very extensive trees that are ultimately wishful thinking. One is complete fiction, cobbled together bits of several different trees. The other is the result of a lot of research, unfortunately there are unsupported connections as well. Both have been widely shared and incorporated into other people's work. I don't think either represent any malicious intent, just an abundance of enthusiasm.

     Be accurate, keep records, be able to support your findings. People will ask. Where to start?

     The best place to start is with your living relatives. I have badgered harrassed annoyed talked with many of mine. They can provide a surprising amount of help. My job was made much easier by two things. Several relatives already had started research. I had a huge head start. I had pictures. Getting relatives to identify people or places in photos is a great memory aid. The fact that I have quite literally hundreds of living relatives to pump for information didn't hurt either, 90 years of living history to draw from.

     A word of caution, memory is a tricky thing. We get things wrong. As an example, I have always thought one of my uncles was a surviving twin. I have repeated this story numerous times, it's fiction. I only found out this year. For forty some odd years, I believed it to be true. Obviously I heard or was told something as a kid and got the details wrong. It happens.

     Go ask your questions. You'll end up with lots of information if your family is anything like mine. Next post will be about filtering information, what to look for and how to use it.

     Have you ever tried to find out more about your family?
 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Savoury Sunday, Shipwreck

     Another favourite from childhood, more comfort food. This is a one pot meal, you've got to love that. Assemble, pop in the oven and an hour or two later, dinner. I have no idea who's recipe this is. My Mom has made it for as long as I can remember. My aunt included it in a recipe book she made for her son when he went to school. We've been enjoying it for more than 40 years in our family.

Shipwreck
Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium carrots, sliced relatively thin
4 medium potatoes, sliced relatively thin - as for scalloped potatoes
1 can tomato soup/sauce undiluted

Directions

Brown and drain the fat from the ground beef
or
In a medium sized casserole dish layer the raw ground beef on the bottom
Top the ground beef layer with onions, carrots then potatoes.
Pour tomato soup/tomato sauce over the top.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for at least one hour, two if using raw beef.
Test potatoes to check if cooked, they should be soft.

     This casserole is kind of like a variation on a cottage pie.

     You can add other vegetables into the carrots. I've had it with cabbage and peppers, both of which I like.

     I've always made it with soup but if you're really against it you can use tomato sauce. The seasoning would have to be adjusted. Salt, pepper, a little bit of mustard powder and garlic at least.

     I brown the ground beef first, Mom swears you don't have to. It just cooks longer. I don't know how you don't end up with an enormous pattie on the bottom but.... Mom has made this far more often than I so she knows best.

     A quick and easy one pot dinner that won't leave you kitchen looking like this.


Unless you're like me and the kitchen looked like that before you started.  Enjoy.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sweet Saturday, Haystacks

     Every Saturday, I go looking for one recipe and end up posting another.. This recipe has been a favourite for more years than I care to admit. It's simple and probably one of the first things I learned to make. That's right, a very, child friendly recipe.

     As  a kid, these were Mud Pies, I've seen recipes for them as Boiled Cookies but most people seem to know them as Haystacks. Stacking hay was never this easy or tasty, trust me.


Really stacking hay this summer,
Katie, Dad, Cathy and I'm taking the picture

Mud Pies/Haystacks
Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup coconut
3 1/2 cup rolled oats

Directions

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, milk, butter and cocoa.
Bring to a boil stirring occasionally to disolve the sugar and melt the butter.
Remove from heat and stir in coconut and oats.
Drop by rounded tea/tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.
Let cool (or not) and enjoy.

     I like these with or without the coconut and I've seen variations with nuts, cheerios and pretzels.
My favourite way to eat them, while they're still warm and gooey. I've got the singed fingers to prove it. I hope you and your children like them as much as I do. Enjoy.





Friday, November 18, 2011

Confessions of a Word Wrangler

     I love words. Not for their own sake, but for how they can be used. We can communicate in terse one word sentences, compose epic, never ending love poems or make up silly tongue twisting puzzles. We describe our world as it is, how we wish it were or any variation in between.

      I've always been fascinated by language, our ability to communicate. I studied it in school, both big L and little l, language as a form of communicating an idea as opposed to French, Latin or Hindi. I've explored the different components, grammar, syntax and morphology and how we acquire our skills. We are hard wired to express ourselves, with a sound, a look, a word.

     When I first started writing for my blog I was doing a lot of background reading. I'm sure many of you have read some of the articles I did about how to write a successful post. I've got to say, I was a little surprised at what some of them had to say. I did some more reading and was even more surprised at what I found out.

     Fully one third of Canadians are reading at a grade 7 level or below. Below? Eighteen percent of the population doesn't read well enough to use printed material. Our friends to the south are even worse. Most printed material is published at a 6th grade reading level. In this age of information, literacy is still an issue for a lot of people.

     That certainly explains the recipe for success. Use contractions when ever possible. Avoid poly-syllabic (big) words. Keep posts brief.

     Is this really success? I get what they are saying, lowest common denominator for largest possible audience. Keep it simple, keep it short.

     Why? Life isn't simple or short. Time stands still for a kiss, an embarrassing moment stretches for days, decades fly by as children grow up. Writing about all of these things, do we really want to dumb it down?

     Here is an example, of why I love words and why I don't like to dumb it down.

Lovely loquacious Lily languidly lounged lakeside
Pretty Lily sat on the beach chatting

Alliteration aside, both sentences mean pretty much the same but evoke completely different images. Lovely Lily became Ravishing Ruby in my head as I was writing this because riparian popped up for lakeside and of course I mentally re composed the sentence, but I digress.

     I like to play with the images words create in your mind. There is a huge difference between, "Defend yourself" and "I'm gonna bust a cap in yo' ass", even though both are in essence talking about the same thing, fighting.

     I was reading this over at Just Jennifer. The word "stabby" popped up describing a state of being. What an image. A verbal riposte, a cutting remark, staring daggers at someone, stabby works and works well.

     Wordsmith conjures up images of hammering words together, bending them into new shapes to make something greater or more beautiful.


    
     Personally I'm a little more partial to Word Wrangler. First, who didn't want to be a cowboy (or cowgirl)? Secondly, it describes how I write. Trying to grab those elusive words and wrestle something out of them. It's usually a struggle with no sure winner.




     Language by definition is a system used to effectively communicate an idea from one person to another. There is no right or wrong, no proper. It is about getting your point across to some one else, spelling and grammar be damned.

   Our words set the stage and paint our world. They are what we use to try and make sense of the things that happen to us and to others. How we share memories and experiences.Yes, it can be done keeping it simple and short but why limit yourself?

     When you write, do you consciously edit, trying to keep things simple? Do you agree it's a recipe for a successful post?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Setting up Shop - Blog Layout Tips

     So you've taken the plunge and decided to create your own blog. Good for you. You may have mistakenly thought the writing would be the hardest part. Not so, it's the designing. There are several challenges but the good thing is, you've got time. Take it slowly, back up religiously and have fun.These are mainly things I wish someone had been around to tell me when I started. Trial and error isn't all that bad but...




    The biggest problem for most of us, unless you actually blog about designing, is lack of technical prowess. I can program my television channels, HTML coding??? Hash Tags?? Luckily, there are a thousand sites out there that offer tutorials on all the things you could ever want to include. How to decide?

     If you want to go the DIY route and I suggest you at least try, start simple. You don't have to include everything at first. Most sites offer templates. Play with backgrounds, colors, column widths, borders, fonts, all the basics. Keep in mind, people have to be able to read what you wrote. There are some funky fonts out there, not all of them are easy to read. High contrast colours work well too. Highlighting text to read it because it blends into the background is just plain annoying.

     Once you are comfortable with the basics, take stock of what you want your readers to get out of your space. Time to add the gadgets or widgets. Your basic template will usually have quite a few to choose from.

     There should be a way, or several ways to follow along. You'll need the social media buttons, an RSS feed is good too. I'm still working on mine.

     Because we're so darn curious, a profile page is good to have, with a way to contact you. In the same vein, a comment system is good to allow readers to interact with you.

     Because I have a lot of recipes, I wanted a print option. Thank you, Print Friendly. The plug in worked like a dream.

     Because time is limited, add a recent posts gadget with a short snippet of your posts. It allows new readers to get a quick overview of your site. The alternative is the popular posts gadget, or the random, you may also like gadget.

     Provide a way, or several ways, for people to navigate through your posts. I have pages across the top, a Google search bar, a cloud label and my post archive. Label your posts, right from the beginning. It is the easiest way to organise things and I wish someone had mentioned that at the start of mine. I've gone back re-labelling several times.

     I think that covers most of the basics. You should have a fully functioning, easy to follow, easy to navigate site. If you are still comfortable, time to add the bells and whistles.

     I have kept my space fairly simple. Why? That cute hoovering picture I had at the start doesn't render the same across all platforms or systems. On a lot of systems it blocked the text and was just plain annoying. Who knew? Ask Rorybore about her Thanksgiving turkeys. LOL

     My site is already graphic heavy, I have a ton of pictures posted. That makes the site slow to load. The more things you add, scrolling marquees, things that sparkle or any animations, the slower your blog. My target audience, my family, is rural. No high speed available or ridiculously expensive. Some still have dial up service, there is no other option. The more I added the slower it got until I decided to strip it back down. Now I appreciate all those touches on other blogs.

     There are lots of sites that will walk you through how to set up any personalization you can think of. The only one I chose to do was the header that introduces the blog. All you need is a graphics program, MS Paint will suffice, some imagination and time. Okay maybe a lot of time.

     I think the only thing I haven't covered is ads. The jury is still out on that one. I have none. I'm not against them but have been to sites where there are so many that it is annoying. It's a bit of a tough call.

    My blog is like a shiny new toy. The urge to play around with it is irresistible. Very few changes make the cut but it is still fun to try. For those of you who have no desire to play, you can always opt for a designer to set up your space.

     Any good design stories to share? What would have saved you  grief when you set up your blog? Leave your own tips or links in the comments section.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I just want to dance

     So, on a cold November day 47 years ago today, in a little town called Perth.... You guessed it, today is my birthday. Hard to believe so much time has passed. I remember thinking in my twenties how impossibly old the forties sounded. Now that I'm not only here but on the other side closer to my fifties, it still seems impossibly old. I thought I would feel differently, be more "grown up", have things figured out and have all this great wisdom to share. Oh well, goals for my fifties I guess.



     As we get older, buying gifts gets tougher. If I want or need something I normally just go get it. If I don't have it, it's expensive enough I wouldn't feel all that comfortable receiving it as a gift anyway. Okay, maybe I would accept the square cut one carat diamond studs, or the Range Rover, but only under protest. LOL

     Of course I've been asked what I want. I kind of drew a blank. Sure there are all kinds of things, books, movies, dinner, chocolate, always chocolate, but I don't really really want or need any of those things. What do I want, what would mark this particular birthday?

     As you may or may not know, I have a weakness for "pop tarts", my guilty pleasure. I'm not talking the pop in the toaster kind either. I'm talking K$sha, P!nk, Britney, Rihanna and perhaps the queen of them all, Kylie. Not to forget the boys, there's David Guetta, Tiao Cruz, Bruno Mars, Jason Derulo and on and on and on. My iPod is littered with them. I have as of yet, to develop that taste for country music most people seem to expect me to have.

     I also love to dance. I'm not saying I can dance, I just like to. Usually, it takes a lot of social lubrication to get me on the dance floor, much more than a six pack. I'm a very self conscious dancer.

     How did that happen? As kids, we dance and move to any beat, even if it's just the one in our heads. In our teens, it gets awkward, anyone remember school dances?? In your twenties, clubbing and dancing go hand in hand. Somewhere in my thirties it all changed. I guess partly because the novelty of clubbing had long passed and I didn't go out dancing often. E induced raving isn't my thing either and any kind of structured dancing, ball room, salsa, etc is well beyond my level of co-ordination.

     I saw this clip online. This kid is so me, right down to losing my balance and bouncing off the fridge. Maybe not to Micheal Jackson, not really a fan but... I would never get caught though, I'd make sure I was alone in the house. No evidence =  no crime.

     That's what would mark this birthday, a night out dancing. Bass reverberating in your chest, anonymous in a crowd, hands in the air, shaking it all down, your friends pretending they don't know who you are, dancing. And of course someone there to pick up the bar tab. LMAO

     My birthday wish and a bit of a confession. What would make your next birthday memorable?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Thoughts

     It's Tuesday, the day before the big day and time for Coffee Chat. The topic, Random Thoughts. Now this ties in perfectly with where I'm at for a couple of reasons.

     I always have a lot of random thoughts percolating around in my brain. One of the things I wanted to do for NaBloPoMo was some unstructured writing. I had read one of the SOC Sunday posts over at Just Jennifer and wanted to try it and finally, was introduced to Fadra , her blog actually, who is the host of Stream of Consciousness Sunday. I can try a SOC post and get the random thoughts out, all in one.

     Obviously I'm not participating in the regular Sunday thing, but am looking forward to the exercise. Not being able to edit or spellcheck will be the biggest challenge. Can't spell, lousy keyboard skills and I always, always edit. Usually quite a few times truth be told.

Want to try it? Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post with Fadra.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love


     Here are my five minutes of Random Thoughts.


Pressure is on, timer is going. Think brain.Reminds me of the first exam I took in high school, I got so nervous I got sick. True story. Everone who saw me leave thought I got caught cheating, i was so pale ha ha ha, never needed to cheat, I liked school. also reminds me of drawingexercisesin art class. Don't look at the page, don't lift the charcol, draw.lines, corves shapes taking form. Why the pressure to get everything just right? who cares if I can't spell. stringing words togethr.Power in words,wordsmithing

    That's my five minutes. I can't believe that"s all I got down. Sounds like a lot of time but I guess not. I was just getting into it and the timer went off. Being a lousy typist doesn't help, at top spped I'm good for maybe 30 words a minute. I be much better off with a pen and paper, doin' it old school.

     Ever done any SOC writing?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Playing in the Dirt, One Last Time

     In Toronto, we have been having an unusually warm fall. Today it was 15 degrees, practically beach weather. It was time to go out and do what I have been avoiding. Close the back yard and prep the garden for the long winter that is just around the corner.


My walnut tree out back, completely bare

     With my fall crops in the ground, winter onions and garlic, the only real prepping was digging up my glads and dahlias. They are now safely drying a little in my mud room, waiting to be stored until next spring.


Gladiolus bulbs, and there isn't snow on the ground like last year

     As I was wandering around, I was surprised how much is still growing, unaware how close the winter snows are.

Heliotrope, still going strong

Blanket flowers

Alyssum, tucked under the now removed dahlias

Tomatoes, still producing, right until the end

     I drained the fountain, covered the BBQ and the fireplace and took in the patio umbrella. The back yard oasis looks pretty grim. Oh well, May is only six months away, sigh


Battening down for a long winter

     This time of year always makes me feel a little blue. No more stepping out to the garden for fresh everything, wearing heavier clothes, searching for the gloves, hats and scarves packed away in the spring. But wait, Christmas is around the corner, ski season, Blueberry Tea to warm up on a cold winter night. Maybe things aren't so bad after all. Besides, April will be here before you know it, bringing daffodils, Spring Beauties, bloodroots and trilliums. The heralds of next year's gardening season.




Savoury Sunday, Savoury Potatoes

     I come form a solid "meat and potatoes" background, part and parcel of growing up on a farm. There were always the traditional boiled , baked, mashed or scalloped, but my Mom had several other ways to prepare my favourite starch. This recipe is pure comfort food for me. My Mom didn't make it often but I love this stuff. It's another quick and easy recipe and uses left over boiled potatoes.

Savoury Potatoes
Ingredients
2 cups cold, boiled potatoes, coarsely chopped-can be skin on or not
1/2 cup of bread, cubed, torn as for stuffing
1 medium onion, chopped-optional
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon savoury
2 tablespoons butter, vegetable oil for frying

Directions
Combine all ingredients, except butter or oil, in a medium bowl
In a medium sized frying pan on medium heat, melt butter or heat the oil
Add in potato mixture and fry on medium heat until warmed through, stirring often. Approx.10-15 minutes
Serve hot with anything you would normally serve potatoes with.

     This is kind of like a stove top stuffing, hash browns, but not quite. The potatoes will brown as you cook them so you end up with golden crunchy bits, a touch of sweet and a big hit of savoury. Hard to describe, easy to make, delicious to eat. Now I'm craving these and I'm out of savoury. Enjoy.



Friday, November 11, 2011

Sweet Saturday, Cranberry Pear Compote

     This Sweet Saturday post was not the one I had in mind for today. As I was looking for the other recipe, I stumbled across this one. With Thanksgiving coming up south of the border, I thought this one more timely. I served this at my Thanksgiving extravaganza and it was a big hit, a twist on traditional cranberry sauce.



Cranberry Pear Compote
Ingredients
I pkg fresh cranberries-frozen works just as well
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon of orange zest-can be increased or omitted, increases the orange tang
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar, brown or white, I've used both and prefer the molasses taste of the brown
1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened Approx 15-20 minutes
Serve hot or cold

     That's it, quick and simple. And delicious. Sweet chunks of pear in a tangy cranberry sauce. I like mine fairly thick so I reduce it the full 20 minutes, sometimes a little more. It is completely a personal preference. Pears and cranberries pair well together, the orange, red wine and spices add depth and complexity. Not too sweet, not too tart, this works as well on muffins or toast as it does with your turkey dinner.

     Up the sugar slightly, 1/4 cup, and this would make a great filling for Thanksgiving Thimble cookies. However you serve it, I'm sure your guests will appreciate it as much as mine. Enjoy.


    


Thursday, November 10, 2011

TGIF - Victory is Mine...sort of

     Today is Friday. I'm a third of the way thorough NaBloPoMo and still sane, but that isn't the TGIF post. Terrific, Grateful, Interesting Friday is a link up over at Just Jennifer. It's to end the work week on a positive note.


     Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada, my post here . I couldn't add to that, so I thought perhaps a less weighty subject. Something to make you smile on such a serious day. Normally just the end of the work week is sufficient for me, but I have to work tomorrow so that doesn't fly today.


    What's this? How does a belt qualify for a TGIF post? It's not just any belt, it's my fat belt. That's right, my fat belt and it's too big, hurray. I have gradually, and with a lot of restraint on my part, lost forty pounds over the last two years. Anyone who has ever struggled with weight will understand the significance.

     I never thought I would ever have to be careful. I was always the "skinny streak of misery' running around, being a kid. At 30, I weighed 140 lbs, not a lot on a 6 foot frame. I ate and ate and ate and normally couldn't keep weight on. Oh how my forties changed that.

     At my heaviest, I tipped the scales at 247 pounds. It was kind of deceiving because I don't gain weight in one place, I just get bigger all over. Gain or loss is harder to notice. Until my grandfather commented to my aunt he didn't recognise me right off, he had never seen me so "fleshy". She thought it was hilarious.  Fleshy??? As I stepped onto the scales at my Mom's place I couldn't believe what it said. My love affair with food was over, how could my metabolism betray me like this? When I mentioned my distress to Ferd, he said, " It's okay, you look better chunky". Fleshy, chunky, not states I ever aspired to.

     I unabashedly admit my problem, I love to eat and drink. Plain and simple. I don't eat because of depression, unhappiness, no glandular problems. I'm just a bit of a hog. I love food, the smell, sight, texture and taste. I have never exercised any restraint.(or exercised really)

     My secret, push away from the table. Put the food away and go. I'm lucky in the respect that my problem had nothing to do with anything other than excess. I just had to pull back from the trough.

     I did and I must admit I feel better. My clothes are a little looser. I'm more active and not so self conscious. Not like I was when I had to upgrade to a size 38 pant and that belt.

     You know what else? My love affair with food isn't over. I still eat, but that's it. No eat and eat and eat. I'm finally practising a little restraint, Oh no, I couldn't eat that second (or third) piece of pie. Seriously, get that f**kin' pie away from me. I can resist anything but temptation.

     I still don't own a scale, I'm not obsessive about losing weight. I am a little more conscious that my body has changed, I can't treat it like I did in my twenties. I still would like to lose about 30 more pounds, I'm most comfortable right around the 180 mark, but right now.. I'm thrilled with the first forty. Maybe a silly thing to be so proud of the there it is, my victory, sort of.

     What has been terrific, grateful or interesting for you this week?


The Perils of Paul, Episode I, The Cliffhanger

     Does anyone remember the old serial, " The Perils of Pauline". And before you ask, no I'm not old enough to remember the original airing. Produced in the '30's starring Evelyn Knapp, it followed the adventures, or misadventures of the heroine, Pauline. It always ended with a cliffhanger.



     Here is my cliffhanger.



The peril, navigating the kitchen.




 


     WTF, I kid you not, I cleaned the kitchen 2 days ago. It was immaculate. I have no idea why putting dishes away is such an effort. I guess it is more fun to try and pull the bottom ones out of the dish rack a la Jenga or Kerplunk. Shutting a cupboard door is apparently a crime, as is wiping a counter, taking out the recycling or closing the door on the dishwasher.(I had to close it to get into the kitchen, it was blocking the doorway from the basement) An empty surface just cries out to be loaded down with crap.

     Why the angst? None of these dishes or mess are mine. I hate cooking in a dirty, messy space. Every time I go to use the kitchen it is the same story. It drives me into a rage every single time. What really gets me, my room is directly under the kitchen so I hear every crash as someone tries to grab the bottom dishes, hear every, "Where is the ..., I can't find it?". It is right where ever you left it last time you used it and didn't bother to put it back.

     I've tried leading by example, screaming, yelling, being reasonable and nothing sticks. It leads to The Invasion and Why I Hate the Food Network, the serials to my perils.

    I mentioned for an extra $25 a month a maid could come in once a week, turned down flat. The main villain in the piece, "I'm not paying extra for something I can do myself". Then do it, far more often.

     I share my house with four tenants. They have changed over the years but the mess remains the same. Four other adults and my house looks like I'm chasing after kids to pick up their toys. I swear. A lot.

     Any helpful suggestions? Any perils in your house?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Movember

    Being a guy, I would be remiss not mentioning Movember this month. Changing the face of the men's health movement one 'stache at a time.

     If your not familiar, here's how it works. For the 30 days of November, men around the world grow a moustache. They raise money and promote awareness of men's health issues, namely prostate cancer.

     Guys in general are pretty bad about taking care of their health. We could learn a thing or two from all of you women out there. My father has a couple of hilarious incidents with health care professionals.

     I'll jump right to the punch line for the sake of brevity. "I came here to have you look at my shoulder not piss in a bottle" and "Just take it off, I have to spray corn in the morning". The first was in response to the doctors attempt to run a full exam during one of Dad's oh so infrequent visits, the second was about having a toe removed that had gotten crushed in the gears of the machine shop door opener. Just rub some dirt on it, you'll be fine. I'm not much better.

     All kidding aside, this is a great cause. Here is the link to my friend Hossein's "stache and here is my friend Diane's husband Stephen's. Feel free to drop by and make a donation or offer some words of encouragement. I know they'd appreciate both or either.




Hossein, Steve??

     Happy Movember to all the participants, thanks for having my back.
     

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lest we forget

     "In Flanders fields, the poppies grow", the opening words to Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McRae's World War I poem. Every school kid learns it at some point.


     Planting the flag at Iwo Jima. This photo is probably the most famous image of World War II.


     A Canadian soldier coming home. A picture from the current engagement in Afghanistan.

     As I was getting the post for Remembrance Day ready, I was looking at various images online and reading stories of conflicts past and present. The stories themselves are bad enough, the images are haunting.


One of the grave sites at Flanders

The destruction around Ypres

A cross in a mortar shell hole

Wounded being removed from the field

The living and the dead in the trenches

Photos courtesy of Rob Ruggenberg / The Heritage of the Great War
from here

    As I was sitting safe, warm and comfortable in front of my computer screen, these images..... My great grandfather lived these, he saw combat in WWI. I can't even imagine. How do you return from something like that? How does life ever return to normal?

     We tend to glorify war, heroic last stands, sweeping victories, standing the line. Our culture is filled with images, monuments and literature. Video games allow you to recreate famous battles, be a sniper, a fighter pilot. I don't think we ever forget the sacrifices these men and women made for us. For our freedom, our safety.

     I do think we sometimes forget what it costs them. Here is the list of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to date. Pages of 158 faces, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. Their loss will affect hundreds more lives.

    For the current veterans returning home, the suicide rate is twice the average. A sobering fact. We ask a lot of our armed forces. When the dust settles, they are left trying to re adjust, reconciling doing what was asked of them.

     Freedom comes with a heavy price some times. We always remember those who paid the with ultimate price, their lives. Let's not forget those whose lives were at the least, interrupted, at worst, shattered. While we celebrate an end to a conflict, for some the war is never over.

     Be kind to a veteran on Friday and every other day for that matter. They deserve it.

     Link up over at RoryBore's Coffee Chat to share your thoughts or how you celebrate / observe Remembrance Day.