Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas

The Christmas season has arrived. We have spent days, hours, and minutes preparing for this holiday. Decorations are up, the fridge and freezer are over stocked with holiday munchies and crunchies, and if you run out of room there you can also store excess food outside, just be careful that no critters get into your honey glazed ham. Gifts are tied up in string and nestled under the tree, Christmas music is ringing through the house like a chorus of angels, and holiday specials plaster the television with visions of Santa, Jesus, and family.


It is my favourite holiday, and to be quite honest for all the reasons and preparations mentioned above. Fellowship of family strides hand in hand with a well planned dessert platter and leg of turkey. And while conversation of any topic under the sun segues from one into the other guided by laughter and affectionate teasing, a ribbon of Christmas music ties itself around the room adding melancholy melodies. As dinner folds into the dish washer, the anticipation and surprise of opening gifts resounds through the house. My parents have a tradition of giving each of us children 3 gifts to represent the gifts the wise men gave Jesus. Long past are the days of when I asked for toys, stuffed animals and trinkets that won’t see past New Years. I have sharpened my Christmas list to request culinary tools, art supplies, and other useful gadgets and gizmos that will keep my creative hands and imagination thriving. As the night crawls closer to slumber, I curl up on the couch to catch the last ten minutes of Bin Crosby’s “White Christmas”. The timber of his voice serenades me to sleep and I slide into a dreamless repose.

I wake up the following morning and ponder all that has happened. Who was it all for? Why is this holiday the be and all and end? To simply say “Jesus is the reason for the season” is cliché, dull and doesn’t go deep enough. A couple weeks ago I was intently listening to a sermon in church about the Christmas season and what it’s all for. The pastor put it like this:

“Jesus didn’t need to come down to earth to have more people worship Him. He didn’t need to get more gifts and feel like the center of attention on heaven and earth. There was nothing in Him that was longing to be longed and to be loved by humans. And to put it bluntly humans are crappy lovers anyway. We have a conditional, wounded, fear of acceptance, untrusting love. Jesus didn’t come down to earth for Him. Jesus came down for us.”

Think about that for a moment. At the very end of Jesus life on earth, who was it all for? From the beginning of His ministry to the end, who did He direct His message to? Did He spend hours in the synagogue eyes lifted to the heavens talking to the angels that only He could see, rather than engaging in conversation and debate with other religious leaders? Did He come to the earth just to show off His divine royalty? Did He walk beside humans, drenched in imperfections, just to compare His squeaky clean reputation? No. Jesus came down for us.

Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus of course, and the benevolence of others, and the joy of family. But let us rejoice in the fact that this holiday is the beginning of healing, the step into trust and the move forward to accepting ourselves, and that is all made possible by the love of Christ Jesus, who did not come down for His own gain, but for us. Whether you believe in Him or not, He believes in you.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mama Jo comes Home for Christmas

 As you can see I am late on getting this post out to the internet masses. However I have no shame in my tardiness, as I am home and enjoying a delicious time with my family.
But there are stories to spin and share and thus I will unfold a few favourites from this past week.

On Tuesday afternoon I marched into the kitchen with a different stride to my step. Today would be a good day, Mama Jo is in charge. It was my turn to have the opportunity to lead a group, and the group in question under my care was Lucy Maud Dinning Room, Dinner. I dumped my knife kit and note book on the command center, actually it is a stainless steel table with a wobbly leg. My team strolled in and we were well under way by 12:30. On the menu tonight: Orange Chocolate Pudding (made by yours truly), Baileys Chocolate cheesecake, Wine Poached Pears, Citrus Trio Sorbet, and Duo Chocolate Lava Cakes.

My team and I worked vigorously and joyously all afternoon, often breaking out into holiday song to lighten the mood and encourage Christmas cheer. It was a very different day for me. I made two batches of pudding and a dozen short bread cookies but I spent the majority of my time filling out menus, organizing and delegating tasks, communicating with the Chef, checking for reservations, writing lists, scribbling instructions and drawing blue prints on how to plate the desserts for presentation.

After class was over I had an hour of leisure time before I had to be up at the Lucy Maud kitchen ready to plate and serve the desserts. However, that leisure time was spent doing homework and even once in the kitchen I spent the majority of my time chatting with my classmate Hanna, and piddling away at more homework. It was an exceptionally slow night in the dinning room with only 6 orders for dessert. I was excited to plate the desserts for actual paying customers. It made my work and the work of my team feel extra special to have customers buy our edible masterpieces.

Wednesday night brought an eye burning display of over zealous Christmas festivity. North Rustico is the place to be when you want to take in Christmas lights, festive music and get into the general Christmas spirit. My dear friend, Lisa, invited me to accompany her and her family on their annual tour around North Rustico. Like a kid bouncing on her parents bed on Christmas morning I bounced into the back seat of their car and we made our way to the north shore. Along the way we saw houses decorated in colourful strings of lights, Santa and Nativity scene wood cut outs on front lawns, and Christmas candles in the windows, but they were just a prelude to the awesomeness that would unfold.

North Rustico is a beacon of Christmas hope as it sits cradled in a small valley by the ocean. A sail boat strung with white Christmas lights greeted us as we arrived in town, and several houses were decked out in extravagant Christmas displays. However, on the far side of town, shining like the star of Bethlehem was a house that quite literally outshone all the rest. Rather than attempting to describe the grandeur of it, I will simply show you:

Even though the house clearly had the most elaborate and complex Christmas display, my favourite was the house across the tree. The only lights shining from this humble residence was a Christmas tree in the living room window. Soft coloured lights glowed happily and hand crafted decorations hung from sturdy ever green branches. It reminded me of home.  

Class on Thursday whizzed by and before I knew it I was sitting in the Charlottetown airport, feeling very educated and independent as I read my Time magazine waiting for boarding call. Charlottetown airport has two “terminals” 1A and 1B, actually there are two doors 9 feet apart from each other but they both lead to the tarmac. After all the ice had melted off the wings of the plane we trudged out into yet another weather bomb, boarded the plane got comfy and waited for take off.

I love take off! I love the roar of the engines as they power up. I love the thrust of power as we barrel down the runway. I love the sudden gasp of inhaled breath as the land falls away and we rise higher and higher into the sky and I love the jolt and bounce as we battle turbulence reaching the cruising altitude. It became clear that was I alone in my exhilarated bliss during take off, other passengers gripped the arm rests until their knuckles turned white and kept there eyes screwed shut.

When the plane touched down in Toronto I felt an over whelming wave of excitement.  Home. Ontario soil! The benefits of Charlottetown’s petite airport means it is actually impossible to get lost. Toronto airport is massive and it only occurred to me as I stepped off the plane that I was traveling alone. Where do I go? Where is baggage claim? Why don’t those signs correspond with my boarding pass? Where am I!? I followed the small herd of passengers that shared the flight with me and found my bag and then before I knew it was outside looking for a familiar face. After walking around arrivals searching face after face, off in a distance I saw them. Like in a scene from a movie I saw my dear friend Eric and Liz, my pace quickened, I squealed with joy when they saw me, dropped my luggage and ran into their arms in a sweet embrace. We loaded into the car and drove to Waterloo where I would stay for the next two days visiting with friends, making apple bands, and talking until my jaw fell off.

On Saturday my brother, Chad, sister-in-law, Danielle, and their dog, Dixon, picked me up from Grebel and took me to the Ritsema Homestead. On the drive home I noticed several differences between PEI and Ontario:

Differenece #1: Ontario is relatively flat. PEI is hilly. Ontario is no prairie scene, but PEI has considerable more geographical texture.

Difference #2: Ontario houses remain in a monochromatic colour sheme. PEI houses are bursting with colour and snap.

Difference #3: Ontario is surrounded by land. PEI is surrounded by water. In PEI you can drive in any direction for 45 minutes or less and always see ocean.

No matter the differences between Ontario and PEI nothing can compare to the Ritsema Homestead. As we crested the hill just before the farm I saw the pond with a thin layer of ice crusted over it. The fields were dusted in snow, and the house was gently glowing. I walked into the house, inhaled a long breath and drank in the delicious scent. It smelled like cranberry and cinnamon, maple logs burning in the wood furnace, and excessively loved furniture.

After dumping my luggage in my room I dedicated the day to plummeting myself into farm fun activities. My nephew, Landon, came over and to my disappointment he didn’t recognize me at first, but in no time at all he was on my coat tails begging me to play with him. My brother and father pulled out my cousins four wheelers and we circled the back yard like a brood of gleeful children. After lunch we all settled down for a nap and then were up and bouncing around the house once again. Landon and I decorated the downstairs Christmas tree and then assembled the same puzzle 3 times.

It was a wonderfully exhausting day. I slept well that night, in my own bed, wrapped in my own covers, and surrounded by my own walls.

It is so wonderful to be home.

                                           Christmas crazy!

                                                 Me trying to eat te gingerbread house.

The truck reads, "Humane removal of bats, skunks, raccoons, squirrels etc." Only in huron county would see something like this. I have a humane removal tactic as well, it involves a piece of lead and a big bag!


                                    Landons decorative genius.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

I'll be home with bells on.

This was my week in the kitchen. If there was a season of cooking I know how to succeed in it is the Christmas season. I came into the kitchen Tuesday morning itching with excitement armed with all my favourite family recipes. But today I would make an especially wonderful Christmas treat: gebakjes. Not just any gebakjes, but my families secret recipe. Two weeks ago I asked my friends on Facebook, my sister, and best friends mother for their gebakje recipe. Several different recipes floated in but my sister’s was the best. I promised not to tell anyone the recipe and as a security precaution copied it down in my note book in Dutch. My classmates often looked over my shoulder and asked what I was making, my answer remained the same, “Gebakjes, secret family recipe.” No more questions were asked about the recipe but conversation was opened to my Dutch heritage.

Chef Richard wandered over to check my progress and I had to tell him the specifics on what I was making. He didn’t seem to care what it was or who it came from. I was offended! How can you not care about gebakjes? He’s from Austria he must have something similar to a gebakje there. He speaks German and I thought for sure he would know what I was talking about. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Don’t mess up.” Thanks Chef, no pressure eh?

After two days of making the gebakjes, one day dedicated to the base and the second to the icing, I had completed 96 gebakjes. I suppose now is a good time to tell you that this past week was the first time I have ever made gebakjes. Sure I’ve been in the general vicinity when my sister was making them, and I know what the texture and taste is supposed to be like, but I have never actually made them before. I was extremely proud of them. They looked exactly how there were supposed to look, and tasted how I remembered them. Chef tried a piece and was equally impressed. It was a good day indeed.

Have you ever biked home in a weather bomb? I had the experience, no, the opportunity to do such a thing this past week. After a productive day in the kitchen and scribbling away at some home work in the library I decided to call it a day and go home. I glanced out the window saw sunny skies, a few clouds, and flags ruffling in the breeze. However after retrieving my backpack, coat, hat and mitts, an activity which took no more than 10 minutes, I came to the front doors and stood aghast at the scene unfolding in front of me. The sun had been swallowed by angry clouds pouring down an assault of driving rain, flags were pulled tot as long fingers of violent wind attempted to rip them off their poles, and the once gentling rippling ocean was now churning and seething, thrusting its full weight onto the red rocks.

The thought did cross my mind that I should just sit it out, but who knows how long this attack could last for, and besides I am missing my tea time! I suited up, pulling my hat tightly around my ears, securing my back pack snuggling on my back, and equipping my coat pockets with my bike and house keys so I could dash outside and onto my bike quickly. Several people told me not to it. They advised me to call a cab, wait it out, or walk home, but I was ready for an adventure. I didn’t come to this Island to watch adventures pass by I came to jump into them, hit the ground running, and skin my knees a little. Ready to face the weather I leaped out the front doors, bounded down the steps and ran to my bike. I hopped on and pedaled home fast. It was exhilarating! The streets of Charlottetown were like rivers, the wind blew against me and pushed me into on coming only a couple of times. Puddles were the size of small lakes and unavoidable, I splashed through them my shoes and pants getting drenched.

I arrived home a soggy smiling mess. What an adventure! Tea time was extra special that day. I spent it not alone but with two beloved and dear friends from church, Natalie and Chantale. Natalie had invited Chantale and I over to her house for an afternoon of Christmas baking. As I’m sure any body can attest to, baking with friends is far better than baking alone. The kitchen is a symphony of electric mixers, egg timers, and rolling pins. Through the measuring of ingredients, stirring, and kneading of cookie dough a ribbon of laughter and conversation floats through the air accompanied by the sweet aroma of short bread cookies, peanut butter balls, and coconut cherry bombs.

Wednesday night was the first annual Holland College Talent Show. As always an hour before any performance I was beside myself with nerves, terrified but excited. I practiced my introduction to the song as well as the piece, pacing back stage, humming my scales, breathing, and speaking with Jesus, allowing Him to speak assurance and truth into my heart. But when my feet touched the stage and I looked out over the audience faces, some smiling in anticipation, some texting, even others slumped over barely awake, I completely relaxed. I wasn’t there for them. I don’t care about the $1000 prize that was to be won, I just wanted to sing. I came to gain experience, improve my talent, and perform simply because I love it. My performance was flawless and I was pleased. I wished the audience a Merry Christmas, thanked them, took a bow and exited. My heart was lit with peace and joy, “That was for us, Jesus.” I whispered. I felt a smile in reply pressing on my heart.

While I thought my performance went well, even though the sound system was worse than awful, the mic crackling and peeking, the other performance did not think it went so well. In fact concern was raised that the lack of adequate sound system would interfere with their chances of winning. With only two acts left in the night, the sound system finally started to work properly and we all got the chance to perform again. First up second time around was me. I hopped onto the stage smiled at the judges and said, “Thank you judges for letting us go again. We really appreciate your grace in these technical difficulties. Sure has been an adventurous night!” I sung my song again and wished everyone a Merry Christmas a second time and went back to my seat to enjoy and encourage the other performers and wait for the judges results. I won’t keep you in suspense as to who won the $1000 prize, it was not me, but I didn’t care. Several people complained that I didn’t win but it didn’t bother me any, I came to sing.

It is my tradition that after finishing a performance I celebrate by indulging in a few spoonfuls of ice cream. As a vocalist the first rule to keeping your voice clear and perfect is not eat any dairy the day of a performance. So having abstained from cheese, milk, yogurt and other delicious dairy products I dove into a pint of Wowie Cowie, a favourite flavour from Cows ice cream.

Fruit cake. What an odd dessert. You take as much dried fruit and raisins as you can manage, soak it in brandy till it smells like a distillery, add some flour and eggs and pop it in the oven. After it’s baked you take it out of the pan and soak it in rum, and then you slice it no thicker than a finger nail width and eat it with coffee and Baileys Irish whiskey. I’ve never made a dessert that can make you more sauced just in the process of making it than drinking shots of tequila.

My task on Thursday was to make a huge order of fruit cakes. Ugh! It was awful. I don’t know why they call dried fruit dry when it is as sticky as honey on a hot day. My hands were covered in a sugary sticky mess. Wiping my hands on my apron proved futile as I ended up sticking to it. After rooting through the liquor cabinet for brandy and coming up empty handed, Chef handed me a bottle of whiskey, rum, and vodka, each with only eight ounces of alcohol left in them. “Just use these up, who cares anyway?” He said. “Wow! Now it’s a party.” I replied dumping them into the bowl of fruit and stirring it together. The stench of the mixed alcohols burned my nostrils and eyes. I felt like I was getting drunk just stirring them. Imagine explaining a wobbly bike ride home to a police officer that you weren’t drinking but just making fruit cake. The fruit cake turned out beautifully and we had extra’s that Chef insisted we take home and give to our family and friends. Not that anyone would eat it anyway, as Chef says, “Who the hell eats fruit cake anyway?”

As I reflect on my week and sum up my adventures I must confess that my thoughts are elsewhere. In 3 days I will be home. All week I have been counting down the days, writing lists of things to pack, and arranging air port drop off and pick up times. I can not wait to go home. It is everything I can do not to leave my computer right now and run home. It is the first time I will see my family in 4 months. I wake up wide eyed, powering through my day at school, skipping to school and day dreaming about coming home. As I meticulously stir pastry cream I dream about stepping off the plane, running through the air port and into the arms of my loved ones. I know I will cry and laugh and I can’t wait to be overwhelmed with emotion. I can’t wait to collapse onto the carpet floor in my house, walk around the pond, laugh hysterically at my fathers silly jokes, and swing my nephew into my arms. I can’t wait to see my Grebel friends and stay up all night talking and baking with them, sharing stories, and rolling on the floor in incapacitating laughter.

In the wise words of Dolly Parton: “I’ll be home with bells on, trim the tree and wrap the presents, turn the Christmas music on, this Christmas I’ll be home with bells on.” Alert the media, call Peter Mansbridge, you have 3 days to get ready Ontario, Mama Jo is coming home for Christmas.

                             Gebakje's. Het is heel lekker!

                              It's a Christmas baking party!

                                  Chantale, Natalie, and myself.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Foxes and Rosemary Clooney

I started the week off with a nerve racking bang! Holland College is hosting a Talent Show and auditions were being held on main campus. When I woke up Monday morning I didn't view the audition as something to enjoy and to get pumped about it, I saw it as another thing to accomplish on my to do list. So I didn't get my usual nervous excitement until, quite literally, right before my audition. I was pacing in the front hall, going through vocal scales, breathing and praying, and practicing the song in my head when I was called in. I walked through the doors and was led to the stage. As I strapped on my guitar and stood in front of the mic I was suddenly hit with a wall of nerves. However, I see nerves as a good thing, they keep me sharp, humble, and aware. I sat down and played a minute and a half of one of my songs. When I was done the judges were smiling and they complimented me and said I did a lovely job. I thanked them, bowed, and left.

On the way home I paused and blinked for a second. I was done? I didn't sing three songs like I normally would? There was no monologue I had to perform? This is so odd. But I am glad for the experience. I know it was a flawless audition because I don't remember what I did. If I were to have a bad audition I would constantly be thinking about where I messed up, how I shaped my words differently, or where I accidently changed the arrangement because I got lost, etc. But I got home and thought, "Where have I been for the past 15 minutes?" That is a good sign.

Tuesday woke me up at the glorious return hour of 5:00am. Sigh. Oh 5:00am where have you been? How I missed you. I missed the slow wake up, the rhythm of getting ready for school in the 45 minute time line. I miss walking outside my door, lifting my eyes to the sky and seeing stars twinkling like shorting out Christmas light bulbs. I miss seeing the early bird workers and confused drug dealers at why a wholesome girl like me would be biking to school, singing no less, at 6:00am. Ahhh, yes it is good to see you again dear friend. I jumped out of bed on Tuesday, glad to reunite with delicious 5:00am. I got to school right on time and was in the kitchen in record time. It was so good to be there early. Chef Richard was just as giddy as we were to get in the kitchen at the crack of dawn. On my menu for the day I had crème caramel, hazelnut meringue cookies plus their filling, and short bread cookies.

By 7:00 am my crème caramel was in the oven and happily baking. I started on the shortbread cookies and had a triple batch baked and cooling by 8:30. Chef Richard, thinking we had nothing better to do, threw an exceptionally large order of chocolate mousse at us. There was a function of prospective students coming for lunch and a tour and we needed something quick, easy, and decadent to feed them. But we worked together and by 10:00am all the desserts were plated, the mousse was poured into individual glasses, and the shortbread cookies were ready to spread Christmas joy, however the batch was a cookie short do to ‘taste testing.’  

Wednesday was much of the same however I received some very good news today. I passed my audition and am scheduled to sing at the Holland College Talent Show!!! I am very excited and pleased that I made it. I am more looking forward to seeing the other varieties of talent than singing, but the opportunity to sing in front of a new crowd is a blessing.  

Thursday brought the challenge of making a bajillion sponge cakes for the base of an eggnog mousse for Friday. When I started out to make the cakes I multiplied the recipe by 2, knowing that we would cut the cakes in half to essentially have 4 cake bases. Chef over looked my work and then said, “Oh times the recipe by 6. Go for it!” Times the recipe by 6?!?! Ok Chef. I put away my regular sized mixer and loaded the industrial brute with eggs, sugar and vanilla. After whipping the eggs on high speed for 20 minutes to the point where they were almost jumping out of the mixer I used a whisk as long as my arm to fold in the flour. It was a decent work out and I had 6 beautiful, fluffy, delectable sponge cakes to show for it. I felt very proud and although the task of making 6 sponge cakes sounded unreal and unnecessary at the time we now have a decent stash that can be used at any time next week. We had to plate 300 desserts for the Lucy Maud dinning room lunch buffet as well so energy was placed more on detail, placing and balancing the components of our displayed desserts. While I was cutting up fruit cake to put in between the mini cheesecakes and Nanaimo bars Chef Richard informed me to make them small, bite size and more like an accent. His reasoning was, “Who the hell eats fruit cake anyway?” I for one had never tried fruit cake, Chef was shocked and we split a piece right then and there. “What do you think?” He asked. “Tastes like Fruit-to-Go. Not bad, but not good either.” Chef concurred describing it as tasting like leather fruit.

When Friday dawned I was ecstatic at its arrival. Friday. The start of the weekend. After today I nothing ahead of me but long strolls, endless hours of pleasure reading, and miles of crocheting bliss. The good life.  

On a usual bike ride to school I have limited company and despite the early hour I usually pedal through Charlottetown singing to keep myself awake and joyful. As a drove through the park singing Rosemary Clooney’s “You Make Me Feel So Young” I noticed something moving 60 meters ahead of me. As I neared I discovered it was a fox! How delightful! On my to do list while on the Island is to pet a fox, however this little guy did not look like he was in the affectionate mood. He crouched down, obviously trying to hide, however his particular hiding spot was directly under a street lamp. After he noticed that I had noticed him, his posture tensed and his bushy tailed wiggled in anticipation. Uh oh. Suddenly he was on his black sock feet chasing me! I was shocked for several reasons. Reason number one: I’m singing, why would you chase a goddess song bird like me? Reason number two: I’m singing Rosemary Clooney! Only crazy and deprived people don’t like Rosemary Clooney. Reason number three: Couldn’t the fox see I was its friend? Obviously the fox had other things on his mind. I pedaled faster all the while yelling, “Don’t chase me! I’m your friend! Why are you chasing me?!” Having chased me out of ‘his’ park the fox let me go and I pedaled to school at land breaking speed records.

Safe in the kitchen, still giggling from my odd encounter, I got to work on finishing the eggnog mousse cakes. I have never made eggnog before let a lone eggnog mouse, we had tried it earlier this week but it had failed so we were hoping that today would be our day of redemption. Chef suggested we multiply the recipe by a bajillion but I talked him down to 3. After all it was my first time and the recipe hadn’t work out for us before and we wanted to play it safe. The Chef guided us the entire way, encouraging us, giving us pointers, and allowing us to fall into our own rhythm with the recipe. After holding my breath all morning and praying fervently Chef came over to check my work. “Excellent! You did a very good.” I responded with a boisterous, “Praise Jesus!” Chef paused, looked at me sideways, and then burst out laughing. What I don’t think Chef realized is that I whole heartedly believed that it was Jesus that made the eggnog mousse cake turn out. I was simply the vessel that He used to make a fabulous Christmas dessert. He’s good with wine, I don’t see why He wouldn’t be a smash with eggnog.  

That evening I took a long delightful sunset stroll around Charlottetown. I walked along the board walk searching for my favourite bench but realized that it was gone! All the benches were gone! I concluded that they put the benches in storage to avoid winter damage. So I had to find a new favourite place to sit where I could over look the bay and let my dreams simmer. I gravitated toward the canons and found a pleasant grassy slope by the artillery house to recline and watch the sunset. I look forward to spending many afternoons with my new favourite haunt.

As a meandered home I walked passed the governors house admiring the rich amount of sparkling Christmas lights. I turned up toward the lane hopping to walk up to the house to take some photos when I spotted a dark and fidgety creature sitting on the steps of the gatehouse. Another fox! He looked at me mischievously no doubt thinking he could get a good laugh out of me and chase me across the street to Beaconsfield. I turned in the opposite direction and walked away, but I didn’t feel safe yet. I saw a pedestrian and her dog come walking down the road toward me and the fox. The dog sensed the fox and gave a loud warning bark, it startled the fox and he scampered off, no doubt disappointed that his fun for the evening was spoiled.

After dilly dallying my way home, stopping every few meters to take a picture of Christmas lights, I rounded the corner to my house and there, a block down the street was another fox! How is this possible?!?! For those of you that are counting that is three fox encounters in one day, three! I can only conclude that this morning’s fox had so much fun scaring me witless that he had to tell his friends I was good for a gag. Spread the joy right?

Saturday was superb. I dabbled in reading, crocheting, and even pulled out my sketch book to scribble down a few wedding cake ideas for my pastry portfolio review in March. During my weekly afternoon stroll I came across an astounding little boutique called Cordelia’s. It is small but surprisingly packed with all sorts of crafty one of a kind items , everything from Christmas decorations, jewelry, paintings, soap, candles, preserves, and odd nick nacks. It is an eclectic smash up of the funky and modern, elegant and vintage. But the best part is that all the items are Island handmade! PEI has an astonishing amount of local artistic talent that is encouraged and promoted by shops like Cordelia’s all over the Island. As I perused the shelves of fancy dooda’s I was especially impressed with a display of filigree jewelry. The attention to detail and imagination behind each piece was remarkable and I just had to lay my money down on snowflake shaped ring. For those of you that know me well you know that I rarely buy jewelry and I seldom wear it. I would much rather make it myself and save it for special occasions, so you can imagine how impressed I must have been to purchase such a treasure. I have worn continually since acquiring it.

As I come to a close and reflect on my week I feel like amidst the stress of Christmas baking at school, mischievous foxes, and numerous strolls it has been a week of hidden delight. The kitchen was a haven of divine cookery, I had the opportunity to serenade a fox, I found a new place where my dreams and imaginings could grow, and had the joy of supporting a fellow artist. So remember that when you feel like you are getting washed along with the busy current of life, whether the flow be fast or slow, there is always a splash of blessing waiting to refresh you. Keep your chin up J    

                                                    Yule logs

                               On of the trays for the dessert buffet for Lucy Maud Dinning Room.

                               Gazing at the sunset from my new favourite place in the park.

                                       Province House all decked out for Christmas