Archive for December, 2013

Very merry …

snowman
A few photos of our festive abode. I know it won’t be long before all the merry and bright disappears for another year and I’ll be wondering what to do with that holly, but for now it’s still magic.

christmas mantle

jingle tree

cards and gift

wreath 3

emily on christmas morning

christmas eve lights

teddy bear and candles

December 26, 2013 at 10:13 am 1 comment

Winter Solstice at the Chinese Garden

owl lantern

At last, the days are getting longer! We celebrated at the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens last night. It was lovely, and especially beautiful with all the shiny melting snow mixed in with the lanterns and the smell of spicy dragon tea wafting out of paper cups as people walked by.

star lantern

It was crowded, but in a nice way with everyone very courteous and smiling, volunteers scurrying around trying to keep all the tea lights in lanterns lit, and lots of cute kids tromping around in snowsuits.

bamboo lanterns

The lanterns were inspiring and gorgeous, created by the Secret Lantern Society, which is one of my favourite arts groups for all the great work they do lighting up local events. Everything they do that I’ve participated in lives up to their name – the ambiance of the lanterns and the way they shape the moods of a crowd do make you feel like you’ve stepped into a secret society filled with calm, gracious souls.

I’ve been to the Chinese Gardens before and loved it, and it was a treat to be there for such a special day. Mark it on your calendar for next year if you’re in Vancouver and you’ve never been.

jar lantern closeup

blue lantern river

leaf lanterns

lotus lanterns

solstice at the chinese gardens

snowflake lantern

lantern jar

flower lanterns

secret lantern society

December 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm Leave a comment

Mushroom barley risotto with spinach & lentils

mushroom barley2
Edmonton, Victoria, Ottawa, Kamloops, Nanaimo. I’ve been travelling a ton over the past couple of months. Not always to the most exotic places, but each has its own merits and it is always fun to travel for work. There are always moments of discovery – a great bookshop, an unexpected side journey, conversations with seldom-seen colleagues, a perfect cafe.

The latter is what I found in Kamloops at Hello Toast. Everything about it was great – the service, the food, the cozy, funky atmosphere. I  had a thick mushroom barley soup with buttered toast and salad. It was exactly what I wanted for lunch on a chilly day. As soon as I had my first spoonful of soup, I thought, I have to make this at home! The recipe below is my version of those flavours, with lentils and spinach added in for extra protein and vitamins.

1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped mushrooms (I used baby portobello mushrooms)
1/2 cup du Puy lentils (French lentils)
3/4 cup barley
1 tablespoon each thyme and oregano
2 bay leaves
Fresh ground pepper
4-5 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped

Saute the onion, garlic and mushrooms in vegetable oil until the onions are soft and starting to carmelize. Add in the lentils, barley, herbs and vegetable stock or water. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the lentils are soft, about 15 minutes. If you want a “soupier” dish, add more water at this stage. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach. Serve with salad and toast for a delicious, warming lunch or dinner.

December 19, 2013 at 11:40 am Leave a comment


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