Old, new, Easter & blue

On Friday, I discovered (rediscovered? I somehow have a feeling that this isn’t the first time I learned it…) that Easter isn’t a big deal in the USA. I mean, I’m sure it’s a big deal for some, but it isn’t a widely observed holiday like it is here in Canada. Here, it’s a holiday on Good Friday AND Easter Monday. For our neighbours to the south, nada. (Sorry for rubbing it in there on Friday, friends! I’d feel bad if you didn’t seem to prioritize holidays like the day after Thanksgiving instead…)

We had a little tea (actually coffee) party-esque Good Friday get together and that was a lot of fun. We bought an amazing loaf from Fratelli Italian Bakery (lemon and raspberry – two of my favourites, but taken to a whole new level!) and got out the good dishes (some – most! – of which had actually already been unpacked a put away) and welcomed our first visitors to the new place. We are far from finished unpacking and settling in,  but we’ve made enough progress that it was good timing. (Also, having just moved lends a certain amount of freedom to be messy that suits me perfectly.)

I was thrilled with this gathering – a lot because I enjoyed spending time with our guests, but also because it was the first significant coming together of something I’d been envisioning for a while. Last year, I started rounding up the vintage dishes that were circulating throughout the homes of family members on both sides. There were plenty in existence, but they were scattered throughout hutches and cupboards of my mom and my aunts. So, I started to ask around and it turned out that it was a common feeling that somebody wished someone would use the stuff, it just wasn’t going to be them.

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? We all get our hands on these pieces that used to belong to the people who came before us – whether they’re dishes or anything else – and then we just keep them someplace without ever putting them to use. This is, of course, a practice that is becoming more and more antiquated as time passes. We are in a time when people are certainly more motivated to minimize and only keep the things they use or, rather, to use all the things they keep. Like others, I’m working to get better at that. For now, it’s antique dishes. Next, I’m going to get my grandfather’s vintage typewriter refurbished. Yay!

But, back to the dishes. This party was the first time I actually put into practice what I have been dreaming of using old dishes with new accents to create an eclectic feeling when hosting others. This was the first time I remembered my first chance to execute my vision using my great grandmother’s dishes, my grandmother’s tea set and my own silverware plus a few modern pieces that I’ve collected myself. I was so happy!

Today, we spent the day mostly at home until we made a run downtown to pick up dessert for Easter dinner with my family.

I’m going to level with you here: I’m not that into desserts so asking me to be in charge of desserts is not the best idea. It’s probably the worst part of a meal to depend on me for. But we came through after picking up some minis (tiramisu, passionfruit & strawberry cheesecake, macaroon, lemon, salted caramel, london fog) from Trafiq Cafe and Bakery on Main Street.

I also picked up five of the most oddball ingredients – for me – at the grocery store to put together a recipe that is totally out of my wheelhouse, but one that is rich in family history. This was one of only a few things I have memories of my mom’s mom making and it hit my radar because my pal Laura over at Real Momma shared it on her Facebook page earlier in the day: Ambrosia Salad. Five ingredients (only one of them fresh), one action (mixing them all up), a final weird soupy marshmallow concoction that you’ll be forced to admit is delicious in spite of the fact that it is so very, very weird. (70s “cooking” at its finest…)

We aren’t a super conventional family when it comes to holiday meals, though barbecuing has become our own tradition in itself. Be it Christmas, birthdays – summer or winter, Easter and even Thanksgiving once, we light some charcoal and grill. Tonight was no different with beef, fish and plenty of veggies on the menu. If you get the chance to spend time together, does it really matter what you eat?

What are your family’s Easter traditions? What’s your go-to when you’re put in charge of desserts? What family heirlooms do you try to collect? Which ones do you avoid?

Valentines is my love language

I love Valentine’s Day. Always have. As a kid, as an adult, weekday, weekend, single, not single, all of the above. The funny part about saying that is that I’ve never been particular about DOING SOMETHING for Valentine’s Day, it’s more like I just love EMBRACING THE SPIRIT. Because we don’t generally do much. In fact, we never go out – too crowded, and I never ask for gifts – too expensive, (but, okay, I did ask for a spiralizer last year – I really wanted one and I just couldn’t resist when asked), and I don’t even yearn for any romantic gestures. I just like it – the pink, the red, the hearts of a cinnamon nature…

One of my favourite online escapes, A Fanciful Twist,
shared all of their downloadable (and free!) Valentines

Though I’d heard of it in the past, the first time I really came across Gary Chapman‘s “The Five Love Languages” was when it was discussed on the Happier Podcast last year. I was interested in the idea that each of us expresses love and feels loved in a different way.

The five love languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

I’ve recently read the book and it expanded on Chapman’s theory. While it’s focused mostly on romantic relationships, I can see how its applicable in relationships of every other kind.

An example: someone who speaks the love language of acts of service may not appreciate when their partner pays them a compliment in the same way someone who speaks words of affirmation. They might feel much more love out of having the house vacuumed by their partner than they would an extravagant gift.

Basically, we all measure love using different currencies.

For me, I’m a quality time love language kind of gal (and after reading the book, I believe in my pretty serious acts of service bent.) Kevin is also a quality time guy with words of affirmation coming in second. (I suspected both of those and confirmed them with him later.)

The discussion on the podcast was interesting. Both hosts identified words of affirmation as their love language and they proceeded to talk about how it’s probably the easiest love language to be partnered with. I remember exactly where I was exactly when I heard it because I reacted so strongly to their statements. Words of affirmation are anything but easy for me. I measure very low in that love language and, as such, I don’t practice it because I’ve never felt much appreciation for it. (They mentioned on a later podcast that they’d heard from several readers who said what I’d thought and recognized their error in judgment.)

So, what’s your love language, you wonder? First, give it some thought. Ponder the list of love languages and see which one you most closely identify with. Once you’ve given it some thought, take the quiz.

Let me know what your results show. I’ll just be over here celebrating with some quality time with my office today and then hopefully a little tonight with my beau as well.

Family Day 2017

This piece “Family Portrait” is unavailable, but find more from this artist,
Heather Mattoon in her Etsy store

Family Day. An extra day tagged onto a weekend with the intention of having families spend more quality time together and/or having a statutory holiday in February. Depending on whose account you read, Family Day sometimes comes across as an intention that found a date, but more often it seems a date that found an intention – that people felt it was too long between the New Year’s holiday and Easter .

Fun fact: Alberta was the first Canadian province to celebrate Family Day and they did so beginning in 1990. The next province to join then was Saskatchewan, but that wasn’t until 2007!

Also…

BC’s Family Day is celebrated one week earlier than Family Day in the six other Canadian provinces that celebrate it. Initially the Premier had aligned the holiday with the rest of the country, but the decision to designate the holiday for the second Monday in February was determined by a consultation on what BCers preferred. Ever since, the holiday has brought with it great debate and suggestions that it should be changed.

Fortunately, regardless of the origin, many communities have taken the opportunity to develop traditions for celebrating the holiday and, true to the name of the holiday, bringing families together with both each other and with other families. Nothing wrong with that!

We are going to take in a movie and then do some meal prep for the week. Nothing particularly celebratory, but we have a big week ahead so we’re taking advantage of the extra day off in the best way we can.

•••

I woke up around 6am this morning and when I walked into the living room, the clearest blue sky was impossible to ignore, helped along by the moonlight that flooded the room. It was gorgeous.

We’ve started to think of the things that we will miss about this apartment once we have moved and the view is certainly one of them. Also, the fact that we get morning sun in the new place. Here, we had sun from early afternoon straight through until sundown. Switching that around is going to take some getting used to and I’m worried about my garden, but I’m sure it’ll all be wonderful in different ways.

•••

This week we are officially starting our half-marathon training with the intention of preparing for June’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle event. It’s exactly one week after our wedding so I suppose you could call it a honeymoon run (our runnymoon?) We found a sixteen-week program that seemed a perfect compromise between the 24-week (too much!) and 12-week (too little!) options that we’d seen before. I think we’re meeting some friends there and spending the weekend so it’ll be a good way to kick off our marriage…and preparation starts now! Well, tomorrow. Today is a rest day and, I’m not going to lie, I am killing it! Thankfully, things have warmed up here significantly so my treadmill running will be kep to a minimum. (Fingers crossed.)

•••

Last but certainly not least, today is my dear friend Rebecca’s birthday. Oh, the places and things we’ve done/see/talked about over the fifteen years we’ve known one another. We should really write a book. Or at least have a podcast.

Happy birthday, Coconip.
Love, Tip-Tip

Labour Day

I’m a pretty deliberate person and I like it when I know that things are done with a purpose. I also like celebrations and honouring events, past and present. For the first thirteen years in the company I work for, I was a member of the union. For four or five of those years, I was a department rep and shop steward. In my current position, I am no longer in the union, but I work very closely with those who are on the executive and standing committee. I understand the issues and it’s important for me to support what is right when the opportunity crosses my desk.

Labour Day has largely become more about a long weekend and kids going back to school than anything else. I’d venture to guess that very few people actually acknowledge and understand the root of the celebrations. I’ll admit that, while I was aware of its relation to labour movements past, I had no idea that the first Labour Day celebrations in Canada took place as early as 1872 and I certainly didn’t know the details.

The more thought I gave to it, the more important it was to me to understand the history a little better. For all the research I did, an article titled The First Labour Day was the most comprehensive that I found. An excerpt:

This is the context and setting for what is generally considered Canada’s first Labour Day event in 1872. At the time, unions were illegal in Canada, which was still operating under an archaic British law already abolished in England.

For over three years the Toronto Printers Union had been lobbying its employers for a shorter work week. Inspired by workers in Hamilton who had begun the movement for a nine-hour work day, the Toronto printers threatened to strike if their demands weren’t met. After repeatedly being ignored by their employers, the workers took bold action and on March 25, 1872, they went on strike.

Toronto’s publishing industry was paralyzed and the printers soon had the support of other workers. On April 14, a group of 2,000 workers marched through the streets in a show of solidarity. They picked up even more supporters along the way and by the time they reached their destination of Queen’s Park, their parade had 10,000 participants – one tenth of the city’s population.

The employers were forced to take notice. Led by George Brown, founder of theToronto Globe and notable Liberal, the publishers retaliated. Brown brought in workers from nearby towns to replace the printers. He even took legal action to quell the strike and had the strike leaders charged and arrested for criminal conspiracy.

Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald was watching the events unfold and quickly saw the political benefit of siding with the workers. Macdonald spoke out against Brown’s actions at a public demonstration at City Hall, gaining the support of the workers and embarrassing his Liberal rival. Macdonald passed the Trade Union Act, which repealed the outdated British law and decriminalized unions. The strike leaders were released from jail.

The workers still did not obtain their immediate goals of a shorter work week. In fact, many still lost their job. They did, however, discover how to regain the power they lost in the industrialized economy. Their strike proved that workers could gain the attention of their employers, the public, and most importantly, their political leaders if they worked together. The “Nine-Hour Movement,” as it became known, spread to other Canadian cities and a shorter work week became the primary demand of union workers in the years following the Toronto strike.

The parade that was held in support of the strikers carried over into an annual celebration of worker’s rights and was adopted in cities throughout Canada. The parades demonstrated solidarity, with different unions identified by the colorful banners they carried. In 1894, under mounting pressure from the working class, Prime Minister Sir John Thompson declared Labour Day a national holiday.

Wherever the day takes you today, be it last minute school supply shopping or at a barbecue with family or friends, take some time to consider the hard work that has been done by the pioneers of the labour movement and those who have taken the batons from them ever since. It is often thankless work, but it has provided all of us with the rights and benefits that we enjoy today.

TOU Labour Day

Happy holiday hummus

For each of three holiday events we’ve attended over the past couple of days, I’ve been asked to bring my hummus. I’ve always liked it, but this proves others do too. Sometimes you have to listen to the people.

If feelings can be had for hummus, mine would be labelled strong. I believe that hummus is one thing that should always be made at home. For one thing, it’s super easy. For the other, the stuff in the stores just doesn’t cut it. I know that because I’ve broken my unwritten rule enough to have tried them all.

Hummus is a magical snack because it’s easy to grab and go, it’s satisfying and offers a good dose of protein and fibre. Pro tip: pair it with cut veggies and it’s a great make and take for parties and other events if you want to make sure there’s something for you to munch on if you’re adhering to a limited diet. I also like to make up a batch at the start of the week for mid-afternoon hunger pangs at the office and/or to dollop on top of a salad or dinner bowl.

I’ve made and modified this recipe so many times that the only place it’s stored is in my head, but here’s how I do it…

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Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • one onion, sliced
  • five or six cloves of garlic
  • one 540 mL can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I like to set aside a few for garnish)
  • 3/4 cup of tahini
  • juice of one and a half lemons (or to taste)
  • one jalapeno (I like to seed half of the pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
  • one teaspoon(-ish) of salt

Directions

  1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onion and whole garlic cloves for a few minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Add all ingredients into a food processor. Process until smooth.
  3. Garnish with chick peas you set aside before processing. Serve in cute bowl with veggies, crackers or pita.

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