Thursday, 31 May 2012

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co. - An Extinguished Dream

    Last March my family and I climbed into our van and went to the Prince Edward County "Maple in the County".  "Maple in the County" is an event that celebrates the Maple Syrup industry in Prince Edward County.  There were several pancake breakfasts.  Several businesses produced maple flavoured products using local maple syrup.  It was a really fun and interesting day.  One of the stops we made that day was to the Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co. in Waupoos.  We traveled down a country road with beauty as far as the eye could see.  On the right of us was Lake Ontario, looking majestic.  We pulled into this funny looking place.  It looked like nothing that I had ever seen before.

    The more I looked around the more impressed that I became with this cheese factory.  It made a great effort to be energy efficient.  The kids loved looking in the cheese caves and seeing those lovely rounds of cheese just waiting to be ready.  You could feel the love radiating from that place.  We went inside the store that was jam packed with people.  Behind the counter friendly faces offered us samples of cheese.  We tried a chevre that had been rolled in powdered local maple syrup.  Oh my goodness it was good.  It was like no cheese I had ever eaten before.  Goat milk has it's own taste, and you could taste it in the cheese.  We also bought two bottles of goats milk.  One for the kids to try and one for my Mom and Dad (growing up Mom and Dad raised goats.  We always had a supply of goats milk).  We also bought several of their different types of chevre to try at home, as well as those tasty maple sugar rolled chevre we had just sampled.  We really like the place and vowed to come back.

    When I decided to do "The Great Cheese Factory Tour" I knew that Fifth Town Artisan Cheese was on the list of cheese factories.  The night before I was set to head into the county to visit The Black River Cheese Factory and the Fifth Artisan Cheese I for some reason checked their websites.  I was taken aback when I read on the Fifth Artisan Cheese Co.'s website that they had "temporarily ceased production due to a cash flow shortage", their store would be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m..  This really saddened me.  I decided that I would go on a Friday so that I could buy some cheese.

    I pulled up to the factory and saw no cars, how strange I thought.  As I walked up to the doors I saw a "bankruptcy" sign on the door.  I wanted to cry for them.  This was someone's dream, and now it was extinguished.    I looked into the "cave" and saw all of the unfulfilled promise, just sitting there wasting.  In behind the building was a dumpster filled to overflowing with tools of their trade.  It was all I could do to hold back the tears.  I was shocked at how overcome with grief I felt for this business.  The owner had gone to so much trouble to make a difference, and now she had nothing.  As I pulled away my grief was replaced by anger.  How could this have happened?  How could a seemingly thriving business fall?  I don't have the answers.

   When I got home I went onto the internet and did a little research about Fifth Town.  This truly was the dream of woman named Petra Kassun- Mutch.  She left behind her lucrative job as a publishing executive to find heaven.  She moved to the County with her family to make a new, healthy life.   She wanted to make a quality artisan product using fresh local goat and sheep milk.  She designed her dairy to be the most energy efficient and achieved Platinum LEED accreditation under the leadership in Energy and Environment design in March of 2009.  Her company won no fewer than 30 awards for cheese and sustainability initiatives.  I can only imagine the heartache that this poor woman must feel.  It is obvious just to look at the building to know that she threw her entire heart and soul into this.

    I come back to my thoughts about the Eldorado Cheese Factory.  It is too late to save this cheese factory.  It is yet another victim of our economy.  How do we save future cheese factories?  What can we as a public do to ensure that our cheese factories do not go the way of the Doo Doo Bird?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Home Made Ice-Cream

I just noticed that Rowan is still wearing is PJ shirt, really nice.
    Yeah the nice weather is here!!!  That means one thing... homemade ice-cream!   As soon as it became short weather my kids began to bug me "When are you going to make ice-cream, when are you going to make ice-cream?"  Homemade ice-cream has become a summer tradition at our house.  I love homemade ice cream for a few different reasons.  The obvious reason is that it is delicious.  Here is the most important reason that I love homemade ice-cream.  I happened to have a carton of Nestle Parlour Chocolate & Banana.  No where on the package does it say "ice-cream".  I just looked at the ingredients... modified milk ingredients, sugar, milk ingredients, chocolate ripple (sugar, water, condensed skim milk, glucose, hydrogenated coconut and soybean oils, cocoa, salt carragenan, artificial flavour, potassium sorbate), glucose, coconut oil, cocoa, mono-and diglycerides, propylene glycol monostearate, cellulose gum, carob bean gum, carrageenan.  Artificial flavour, colour.  May contain peanuts and tree nuts.  Are you frightened?  I am.  Guess what's in my chocolate banana ice-cream?  Cream, whipping cream, sugar, bananas and cocoa powder, and vanilla.  I rest my case.

    It's really easy to make, although not cheap to make.  The most important ingredient to good homemade ice-cream is a good ice-cream maker.  I did not know this when I began ice-cream making.  My first ice-cream maker was a sunbeam.  It made good ice-cream, or so I thought.  It broke, and I purchased a Cuisinart brand ice-cream maker.  The Cuisinart cost me $40.00, worth every penny of it.  After reading the "Ben and Jerry Ice-Cream Book", I discovered the difference.  Better ice-cream has more air in it.  I don't know why that is, I just know that it is.  

    When I was a little girl my parents raised goats.  My Mom would go out and milk the goats, then strain the cream off of the top.  We also bought fresh milk from a local farmer ( a BIG no no today), and the cream would separate to the top, and could be easily skimmed off.  That cream went to making homemade butter, and homemade ice-cream (where ever could I have developed my need to make food  from scratch).  Back in the old days we had this big wooden ice-cream maker.  We put ice around the outsides, and then sprinkled it with rock salt.  I know that the middle canister had a motorized churn, I just don't remember what it looked like.  Thankfully my ice-cream maker is not like that at all.  I freeze my outer part in the freezer for 24 hours, and then we are good to go.

    I mix in a mixing bowl, 2 cups of whipping cream, 1 cup of half and half (you can reverse these if you like), 3/4 of a cup of sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.  I whisk them together and then pour them into the ice-cream maker.  It takes about 20 minutes to make the ice-cream.

    For this batch of ice-cream I made S'mores ice-cream.  I melted marshmallows in the microwave, then added it to the ice-cream about 15 minutes into the mixing.  I broke up squares of chocolate, and crumbled bits of graham crackers into it.  It was a hit!

    I love that my ice-cream creations are limited only to my imagination.  I love experimenting.  Some of our favourite ice-creams to date are maple walnut (I mixed in a can of sweetened condensed milk and real maple syrup, with walnuts), and apple pie (I cooked apples in the oven with cinnamon until they were soft.  I put them in the freezer to cool, then added them.  Chocolate orange ( I melted chocolate and added orange extract).  So far we have not had any duds.  It's lots of fun to experiment, and the kids love to watch me make it, and they like to sample my creations even more.

    So what are you waiting for, go out and get yourself an ice-cream maker and have some fun!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Bats In The Bedroom - No this is not an erotic story....oh no, not erotic.

    The kids just did not want to settle last night.  There were many calls for drinks, can you fix my blankets, any stall tactic they could think of really.  Consequently Christopher and I were later getting to bed (we need some alone time together before we can go to bed).  Christopher has that gift that I would love, as soon as his head hits the pillow he's out like a light.  I was reading a good book.  It was late, but the world was a good place at that moment in time.  I heard some rustling in the kitchen or living room.  I thought maybe something was near the open kitchen window.  I didn't think anything of it until I saw the bat fly into our bedroom.
    I tell Riley that I like bats, but I am a liar liar pants on fire.  I like bats... in pictures.  On Christopher and my very first date we went to the ROM.  They had a bat cave exhibit.  I wanted no part of it.  At that point in time I was much, much smaller and so he picked me up and began to carry me into the exhibit.  He thought that was hilarious, until I went mental.  I think he might have scars still from that date.  My point, I am not a real fan of live bats in my house!
    So this bat is flying around my bedroom and it looks HUGE.  I start squealing, a high pitched squeal, and simultaneously shaking Christopher to wake him.  I then pull the covers up over top of my head (they say that bats won't get caught in your hair because they have this complex sonar system, but I don't trust "them").  My husband is a good man, he is an amazing father, and an amazing husband, be he is not your man in a panic situation.  I think that it is safe to say that he did not miss his calling as a fire fighter or an ambulance attendant, he's probably better after the fact (remember he's a funeral director... they are already dead).  So I'm under the covers squealing and Christopher is sitting bolt upright in bed, then he sees the bat and for some reason he starts jumping on me (I can't see why, because my head is under the covers... remember).  I am shouting at him in a muffled tone to quit jumping on me and to get the @@$&$&$ bat!  I'm not sure what he was thinking but in a panic he hit the bat with a pillow.  " I think I killed it" he says.  "What did you use to kill it with?" I ask.  " A pillow".  So now I'm going to have to throw out that pillow and I'm pretty sure that it's my new Fieldcrest one.  "It's not dead" he shouts "I'm going to go and get my shoe." "What the Hell are you going to do with your shoe?" meanwhile I know full well what that idiot is going to do with his shoe.  I am picturing bat guts all over my floor, up the sides of my bed, the wall.  I scream out from under the covers "OH NO YOU DON"T!!!!!" "Get a small box and throw it over him." ( I'm just barking out orders from under the safety of my covers.)  "Yeah, and then what am I supposed to do?" he says in a disgusted tone.  "We'll get some card-stock, or the dustpan and slide it underneath.  Then you can take it outside and let it go".  To me this plan was brilliant, fool proof.  He found a shoe-box and set the plan into motion.  "I'm going to need something to slide under it" he says in that disgusted tone.  "I'll help, but that bat had better not get out of there, or I swear to GOD...." I peak my head out only to see the bat's little head peaking out of a small hole in the box.  I quickly return to the blanket fort.  "NOW WHAT?" my husband who is by day a very even tempered, good man is slowly turning to the dark-side.
    I don't know where the tennis racket came from.  Perhaps unknown to me Christopher keeps it stashed under his side of the bed, so that he can sneak out for midnight tennis matches, but the next time I peeked out from under the safety of my blankest he had the bat trapped under the tennis racket.  It looked much smaller when it was not flying around the room.  I felt sorry for it, it was kind of cute, until it started making clicking noises at me.  I ran and grabbed a garbage bag, "What am I supposed to do with this?" my husband asks.  "Just put it over the top, then let go of the racket and it will fly up into the bag."  "That won't work!" "Oh it will work, just trust me."  I will be honest, I was not really as confident in my plan as I let on.  The one thing that I have learned living in a family of panicers is to never show weakness.  You have to pretend to be confident, even if you're not, or else it's game over!  The next thing I knew Christopher had the garbage bag wrapped around the tennis racket.  It looked like a hillbilly Christmas gift.
    After the tennis racket had been wrapped like a Christmas gift, Christopher starts shouting at me "Open the door, how am I supposed to hold this and get out."  Last night was not my husband's finest hour.  I admit that if he had not been holding a garbage bag with a bat in it, I may not have been so pleasant.  I ran obediently and opened the door, and then propped open the screen door.  I then ran like my pants were on fire back to my hiding space under the covers.
    Mission accomplished, the bat was no longer our house guest.  It's pretty funny today in the day light, with no bat flying around the room.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Cheese Festival

    A few weeks ago I received an exciting email.  As you know I have been doing the "Great Cheese Factory Tour", where I have been going to local cheese factories, and then blogging about them.  When I have visited all of the cheese factories that I can, I will do a final report on each of the factories strengths and weaknesses.  Let me also share the obvious I LOVE CHEESE!!!!  Back to the exciting email.  I received an email from one of the organizers of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton.  She asked if I would like to attend the festival.... ah YES.  
    When you go to the different cheese factories you will notice the obvious... cheese, but it you look a little closer you will notice that they are supporting local talent.  You will see locally made preserves, often with ribbons indicating that they have won first prize at a local fair.  There is often locally made candies.  Some of the cheese factories feature locally made baking.  Do you see what I am getting at, they support their community while they are supporting themselves.  If this was the business model in more places, we would not be seeing so many small business going out of business.  What I really like about this festival is that they are abiding by this same principal... support your own!
    The festival boasts 125 different types of cheese from one end of our great country to the other (P.E.I. to Vancouver).  There will be cheese tastings, and opportunities to purchase these 125 different types of cheese.  What goes amazingly with cheese?  W-I-N-E!!!!  There will be local wineries showcasing their unique County wines.  Not to be outdone by the wineries there will be several craft beers available to taste (this will please my husband to no end).  This local event will be supporting many local artisans, see what I mean, excellent.  If that weren't enough there will be several different cheese seminars (I'm planning to attend the "Making Cheese From Home" one).  
    The Food Network's Bob Blumer will be at the festival on Saturday, June 2.  Kris Holden-Reid from "Lost Girl" will be there also (you may remember him from the award winning "The Tudors").  I am really, really excited.  After receiving the email, and then visiting the website and finding out more information I was literally jumping up and down with excitement.  After a few minutes I came down fast, I am having surgery on my nose this Tuesday.  I will have a cast on my nose for a week.  The downer only lasted a few minutes, because I have decided right there and then I will be attending this Great Cheese Festival, even if I need to bring an I.V. pole with me.  So you will recognize me by the face cast, and the arms full of cheese.

    If you would like to attend this amazing festival, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival has offered my readers a 25 percent off ticket to attend.  Simply click the link below, enter the promotional code CF12SHOE and go from there.  See you at the festival!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The Robin's Life Cycle

    A few weeks ago Christopher (my husband) discovered a bird's nest in a tree that had fallen down against our side fence.  We both decided that it was a really insane place to build a nest.  Our fence is only about three feet high, and there are a lot of neigbourhood cats.  I still maintain that it is a crazy place to build a nest, but it has given us an amazing opportunity. 
 I have loved seeing the life process of a robin. I am essentially a little kid at heart.  

    I now consider myself somewhat of a Robin expert.  I know that mother Robins stinks (every time I come anywhere near her nest she flies away) .  I know that it took our eggs exactly 13 days to hatch.  I know that our robin built it's nest in a really stupid place, but in an amazing place for me to capture their growth.  It has been a really neat educational experience.


   One of our eggs disappeared from the nest.  My guess is that the mother must have tossed it, because if something stole it wouldn't it have stolen all of the eggs?  Apparently after the babies have hatched they toss the old egg shells out of the nest (very hygienic).  They are very pink and naked looking.

    The above picture was taken later that day.  They were pink with fluff.  Their eyes were shut tight.  They were just this wobbly quivering bunch of little pink bodies.  When they heard me, their immediate response was to open their mouths for food.  Riley upon seeing them exclaimed that "They are the ugliest things I have ever seen.  I didn't even know what part their head was!"

Day 2

 The above picture was taken on day two.  Their eyes are still closed, but they have tiny slits starting to open which will be I'm guessing their eyelids.  Riley does not think that they are "as hideous".

Day 3

    Every day I come out and expect to see an empty nest, and am so thrilled when I am greeted by my little always hungry friends.  Their eyes are still closed.  They have developed the cutest little mohawk.  Still not the prettiest little creatures, but they are so ugly that they are adorable.  
They are still really wobbly.

Day 4

    I'm not sure if Momma Robin is getting used to me, or standing her ground, but she let me get really close before she flew away today.  Part of me feels a little bad at her flying off, 
but most of me doesn't care, I just want good pictures of "my" baby robins.

    The babies are getting a little bigger, and their skin is getting darker.  They have few more feathers.  Their eyes are still shut, and they are still perpetually hungry.

Day 5

Like their human counterparts my robins (you like how they have become mine) sleep a lot.
  When I peek in at them they give me a lazy opening of their mouths, like "feed me".  
When I don't feed them they go back to sleep.  So far the eyes still seem shut. 
 They are getting darker in colour and more fluffy.  They look like plucked chickens.
Their eyes are still not open.

Day 6

Still doing a lot of sleeping.  Look they have real feathers.  Over night, literally they got real feathers.  Look at their wings.  They look a little like dinosaurs.  Funny, they say that birds are the closest living relative to the dinosaurs, and I honestly can see that.  Little velociraptor.  It looks like they are wearing orange lipstick.

Day 7

Still doing a lot of sleeping.  My little babies are much darker today.  They have a lot more feathers.  I am surprised, but they make absolutely no noise at all.  I keep listening for peep peep, but nothing.

Day 8

Their eyes are open!  They got a lot more feathers and are beginning to look like birds.  
It's funny but they still don't make any sound.  If I were a betting girl, which I'm not, I would say that it's to keep them safe from predators.  If they make noise something might hear them, and eat them.  The parent robins are a little more protective of them now.  Only a little.  They wait longer before jumping off the nest, and now they just go up a few branches and squawk at me, they are so brave.

Day 9

The robins are getting so big.  I'm not sure how all three of them are going to stay in the nest.  I'm having to take my pictures from a little farther away now.  They are nervous now when I come too close.  They try to sink down as low as they can in their nest, like they are hiding.  It made me feel badly so I have vowed to give them some distance, even if it does mean not as good pictures.

Day 10

They are getting more feathers every day.  They look more like baby eagles to me more than robins.  There has been a lot of activity with both mother and father robin bringing them food almost constantly.  The babies still don't make a peep still.  This is strange because I always thought that baby birds were loud, but not ours.  The other funny thing is now mother and father robin are much more protective of them.  Now when I come over for pictures the mother and father sit in the branch above me and chirp at me.  When the babies were little little both parents would take off and be no where to 
be seen when I came too close.

Day 11

Look how big they are getting.  I'm not sure how they all fit in that tiny nest.  They are so hungry all the time.  As soon as I was a safe distance back they had their mouths open like crazy.  Their parents would not come back to feed them until I was out of site.  At one point the one robin was so hungry that he/ she started biting a leaf.  I cleared out so that their parents would feed them. 
 They still are making no noise, weird.

Day 12
I went out to my robin's nest only to find only one baby robin.  "Oh no a cat got them!"  As I approached my last baby robin to take it's picture, it flew away.  I just stood there, shocked.  How could they be old enough to fly, they were only two weeks old!  You could see the robin parents guiding them through the whole process, chirping at their babies.

This is my baby robin up in a tree. He / She has patches of orange and grey on his/ her breast.  This tiny robin who I had not heard make a noise the whole time it was in the nest was up in that tree just a chirping away (I suspect it was fear, but I don't speak robin).

Momma Robin keeping an eye on her baby in the tree.

Daddy Robin sitting in the tree just above the nest watching his kids.

When my baby robins had flown from their nest I had questions.  How long do robins live?  
The general consensus is that the wild robin will live to two years if it's lucky.  Majority of robins will not make it to their first year.  The oldest banded robin lived to 11 years.

    It took those babies as many days to hatch as it did for them to leave the nest.  I sure am glad that human's don't operate that that.   Now there is just an empty nest. 
 Now what will I take pictures of every day?  I feel so empty.

A really excellent website for kids to learn about robins is 
They have great colouring pages, and great printable fact sheets.

Friday, 25 May 2012

The IANA Theatre Company

Tim Porter standing in front of the Marble Church Arts Centre

    The first time that I ever met Tim Porter was in the late fall of 2010.  He was teaching a children's theatre program in Tweed.  I walked in to the Marble Church and saw this young guy with this curly hair and this open and trust worthy face.  Tim Porter helped my Grace to unlock her inner extrovert that was a prisoner of the outer introvert.  When my Gracie started that program she was too shy to even speak.  By her second set of classes she was singing a solo part.  It's amazing.  Now my Gracie has sung all by herself for her school talent show to an audience of hundreds of people, and has been asked to sing O' Canada for Tweed's Canada Day celebrations.  She has come so far, and that credit in large part goes to Tim Porter ( and to Grace for doing something she loved even if it was scary).  
    When Tim did not come back to teach the drama class in Tweed, Grace and I were devastated.  I just kept thinking if he could get her to do that in such a short length of time, what else could he teach her.  I became like a stalker of poor Tim Porter.  I would email him asking if he was going to be teaching anywhere in our area.  I'm sure that although he gives me a friendly kind smile he's really afraid of me.  "Oh God, it's that crazy woman who is going to ask if I could teach her kid.  Quick someone hide me!"
I knew in my heart that he wanted bigger and better things.  Don't get me wrong, I wanted Tim to do bigger and better things, I just wanted him to do great things all the while teaching my shy little child.
    When I had finally extinguished that torch that I had held up high in the hopes that Tim would quit his IANA theatre gig and come home and teach, I decided it was time to support him.  Tim founded the IANA Theatre Company in 2007 as a way to create and promote original Canadian musical theatre.  I love musical theatre.  I don't get to Toronto to see the plays the way I would like to.  I am the mother of four kids, I don't have the time or the money to go to Toronto more than every few years to see a play.  Now I was beginning to get excited, what if I didn't have to go to Toronto to see a play, what if it didn't have to cost a week's worth of my husband's wages?
    For Mother's Day I bought a ticket for my mother, and a ticket for myself to go and see Stalkyard Hurts.  Stalkyard Hurts is a musical about a highly successful band from the early 1990's.  It is about their rise and their fall, and reunion 15 years later.  The play is done in a mockumentary style.  Sounded like fun.  
    Fast forward to Thursday, May 24.  Mom and I had already discussed outfits.  We were very excited to see the play.  The play started at 8:00 p.m.  I told Mom I would pick her up at 7:15.  I did not want to have to fight for a parking spot, or get bad seats.  I picked Mom up at 7:15 and off we went.  There was only one other car in the parking lot, strange.  We decided to wait in the car and chat.  Better early than late.  I was beginning to wonder if I had screwed up the dates.  I checked my ticket again, no the date was right, strange.  Another car pulled up beside us five or ten minutes later.  They went in.  It's uncomfortable to be the first ones there, so now we weren't.  Mom and I decided to go in, I did want to get a good seat, and it was o.k. because we weren't the first one's there.  We walked to the doors, only to discover that the people who had come in after us were helping to take tickets at the door... we were the first ones there.  The doors opened at 7:30 and we found good seats after saying hello to Tim (and asking if I could take his picture for this blog, now he really thinks I'm a stalker).
    It turns out that we had no need to worry about good seats because there were maybe twenty people in the theatre.  8:00 the play started.  I had high expectations.  At first I did not know what to think really.  I didn't think I liked it.  How could I have told Tim that I was writing a blog about his play, the play that he had helped to write?  I could feel the waves of panic taking over as I raced through what I could say that was positive.  As my mind was racing, someone behind us was laughing just a little too loud, and just a little too much.  What could I say that was positive?  As the play progressed my panic diminished ever so slightly.  I stopped hearing that too loud laugh.  I became enraptured with this extremely talented group of performers.  The girl who played Carmen (Danielle Leger) sounded like the love child of Meatloaf and Melissa Etheridge.  Man that girl has some rock and roll pipes.  She would not be the least bit out of place fronting a rock band.  Then there was Louis (played by Michael Colin Jones).  His voice was soft yet strong it would not have at all sounded out of place singing opera.  He had such a beautiful voice that was full of control.  Byron the boy who developed an English accent at age 5 (played by and co-written by Justin Collette), I could not take my eyes off of him.  I found myself straining to see him in every act.  He had this easy lovely voice and when he sang I did not want him to stop.  Then there was Maggie (Karine Berube) here was a girl who was beautiful enough that she could easily be on movies or on t.v. with a voice that was just as beautiful.  The last of the main performers was Tori (Tricia Black).  She had the most amazing comic timing.  I expected her to be the funny one, and then she sang.  I kept waiting to see angel's wings bulging under her costumes.  She had this glorious voice.  This talented cast could easily be in any Mivish Production.
    The play that I didn't think that I liked became that play that I was lost in.  I found myself tearing up at the end, looking around sheepishly to see if anyone had caught me.  When it was over I wanted more.  I wish that they could have just stood there and sung to me for a few more hours.  The music was amazing.  The song "Love" which had perhaps 6 words to it was by and far my most favourite.  I wish that they had a cast album.  What an amazingly talented cast!  What an amazing Mother's Day gift to me!
    As we were leaving I asked the cast if I could get their picture.  A genuinely nice group of people.  You would not expect people who are that talented to be that nice and humble.  They stopped what they were doing so that they could gather for a picture.  As we were leaving my Mom told me "I would definitely see that again!  When's the next one?"  To her I smugly replied, "I already have my tickets."

Karine Berube, Justin Collette, Michael Colin Jones, Tricia Black, and Danielle Leger
The amazing cast 

    Many of the same cast members will be back for the July production of Godspell (the musical about the Gospel of Mark set in modern times, almost entirely done in song).  You owe it to yourself to come and see this amazing group of performers and their amazingly talented director.  Godspell runs July 5 - July 14.  Tickets are only $20.00 for adults and $15.00 for students and seniors.  
    It is a crime that theatre was not sold out. It is a crime that there were so few people there.  We need to use it or risk loosing it.  We are so blessed to be offered high quality entertainment at a very reasonable price.  Try driving to Belleville to the Cinneplex Theatre for $20.00.  You'll pay $20.00 for the gas alone.  We need to support this theatre company.  If they thrive, our community will thrive.  It will bring in tourism which will help our restaurants, our stores, our motels it helps Tweed.

For more information about the IANA Theatre Company visit their website

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Her First Dance

Gracie was juts week old being held by Gabe.

    How can a little baby have her first big girl dance?  I guess Grace is no longer a little baby, she'll be 11 next week.  It just doesn't seem possible that that little pink bundle I held tightly in my arms is this big pink bundle who is beginning to break free an become independent of me.  I can't believe how quickly time has flown by.  One second she is playing My Little Ponies and the next she is coming home excitedly talking about the school dance.  School Dance, I can't believe that is is already time for her to experience the school dance.
    She came home a couple of weeks ago barely able to suppress the bubbling excitement.  The other grade 5 class had challenged her grade 5 class to a dance off!  Then she rhymed off the different songs that she had requested.  Christopher asked her if she was going to dance with any boys.  She looked shocked, apparently she had not thought about that.  She took a few minutes to process that question and then a huge grin spread across her face.  Grace has discovered boys... heaven help us.
    I went out on the week-end to purchase new clothes for her to wear to the dance.  It was difficult.  I wanted to go casual, but not boring.  I want her to stand out, but not STAND OUT.  Thankfully she was delighted with what I picked out for her.  I also picked her up a lip gloss (as close as she'll be coming to make-up for a few years), and a cute little sample of perfume.  I am so excited for her, intermixed with nervous for her.
   What adult among us can ever forget dances (unless you live in the Footloose town).  That mixture of excitement and anxiety.  The boys and girls all standing on opposite walls, looking terrified.  The girls all dancing together in the middle to the fast songs.  The odd brave boy dancing that famous "boy shuffle"( the boy dance is where said boy stands perfectly straight, with the arms stuck to his sides like a soldier, and the just kind of shuffles his feet back and forth in place).  When the slow songs came on, the girls all cleared to the wall in what might have looked like an explosion and felt extra anxious.  The boys who were standing against the wall would work their way over across what must have seemed like hundreds of miles to the girls wall, in what looked to me a little like a Lemming migration.  As a girl on that wall, I prayed for that cute boy to come and ask me to dance.  When he did not I would try to stifle that cry that desperately wanted to escape from my chest, and try not to look as dejected as I felt.  It was painful.  Then there was that elation when, on occasion that boy did ask me to dance.  That amazing high that comes from pre-teen / teen hormones.  I have never tried heroine, but I suspect that is might give a similar high.
    My recollections got me wondering what it was like for the other side of the wall.  I asked my husband for the boy's perspective.  His is extremely different than mine.  He was one of those boys holding up the wall.  Apparently the boys would stand together ( I always wondered what they were talking about, being neurotic I was sure that they were making fun of me) making fun of the their friends who were brave enough to go and dance the fast dance (I think they were jealous).  When that fast song ended and we timid girls made a mass exodus from the dance floor (like our pants were on fire and the water was on the wall) for fear of looking like an idiot caught there, they were waiting for the brave girls to ask them to dance.  Apparently his self -esteem took a massive hit when the brave girls asked his better looking friends to dance (his perspective, not mine).  He said that he did not feel the least bit nervous when asking a girl to dance, he was not afraid of rejection, because they always said yes.  The nerves took effect afterward.  He was terrified of standing on the girls foot.  A three minute song felt like a three hour song.
   I'm not telling Grace about the nerves or the dread of dances.  I'm not going to taint her "new" experience with my "old" fears.  This is her day.  Good or bad, it is growth.  She will learn from this dance, it will help to shape her into the woman that she will one day become.  More than anything it will be fun.  I'm not ready to watch my little girl grow up, but it is out of my hands, I have to just watch it happen.  I will be there for the moral support and if necessary God forbid, I will be there with those arms to wrap around her and tell her that everything will get better.  They don't tell you any of this in "What to Expect When You Are Expecting".  This is the stuff that you learn as you go.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

True You- Week Three: Personal Self Messages

    The week three message is "speak kind words to yourself", well not exactly like that, but essentially that.  They called it Positive Self Messaging, I like be kind to yourself better.

    As women we have a tendency to cripple our selves with our own thoughts.  How many of us have thought how fat we looked, or how old we looked.  How often do we congratulate that person in the mirror?  How often do you tell your mirror self that she looks great?  My inner critic is so judgmental that I rarely even look in the mirror.  I do not want that for my girls.  I want my girls to be strong and self- confident.  I want them to be courageous and to feel like they can take on the world.

    One of last weeks exercises was to make a list of self- critical statements.  The girls and moms then had to state what they thought a Positive Self Message (P.S.M.) to that would be.  One of the girls had a personal experience where she had tried out for something and not been accepted.  She had told herself that she was stupid and terrible, and that is why she had not been accepted.  The leaders of the group then asked her what her P.S.M. could have been.  She said that "I am a great singer, and that I should try again next year".  I am really torn on this one.  Shouldn't we be honest with ourselves like we would be to someone we loved? If my best friend came to me with a problem, I would not tell her only glowing and positive things.  I would use kind words to tell her what she needed to hear, not always what she wanted to hear (I have done this innumerable times).  I think we need to teach our girls to speak to themselves like someone that they love.  I want my girls to love themselves.  Not love themselves in a garish and vain way, but in a kind and compassionate way, the way that I hope they love each other.  They need to learn to be honest with themselves, but in a kind way.  "The reason that I did not get accepted is because I did not practice enough.  I obviously don't want this enough." "Or, I was just having an off day, I will ask if I can audition again".  They need to be critical, but in a kind and accepting way, and give themselves permission to occasionally fail.

    I am stymied trying to decide how we teach our girls positive self messaging.  I think that they need to see me as good role model.  I try to show the girls how positive I am about myself.  My inner voice is shouting at me that I am a liar as I try to model this positive behavior.  Do you think they know that I am lying to them about myself?  The older I get them more kind I am trying to be to myself, it's hard to undo 40 years of negative self- talk, but my girls are worth it, oh heck I am worth it.  I want my girls to accept what they cannot change about themselves (their freckles, eye colour, facial features) and fight for their best self in those things that they have the power to change.

   I came across a really great article about this same subject.  I warn you that I did not hit the other features, I just read the article.  It made sense, it was smart.

    I would also like to share a major revelation that I had in the middle of last weeks class.  It has nothing to do with this week's topic.  I had heard about this year's class because one of the leaders of the group called to personally invite Grace and I.  I did not think anything of it.  I figured that they were calling all the girls of that age that they knew to remind them about this great class, and it is a great class.  I did not think another thing about it until the middle of last week's class.  
     My Grace is very shy.  So shy that it has took her until grade 4 to feel comfortable to speak in class.  Because of this, people view Grace like a victim.  People feel like they should do things for "poor Grace".  I discourage "poor Grace".  I never push her hard to break free of her shyness, but I do nudge her.  She will break out of her cocoon when she is ready.  I just need to encourage her to give her cocoon a poke, and a prod.  She needs to move at her own pace.
    Last week the group was coming up with negative messages that we tell ourselves.  One of the leaders asked Grace if she had some ideas.  She asked Grace in the tone that you would ask someone who is mentally handicapped, that sickly sweet tone.  At that moment I had what Oprah has coined an "Light Bulb Moment".  When I had my "Light Bulb Moment" I felt really stupid for not realizing it sooner.  They had not called to invite us randomly.  They had called because Grace is shy and they thought shy meant lacking in self- confidence and lacking in self -esteem, both of which Grace does not lack in.  If anything Grace has an over inflated self- confidence and self -esteem.  At that moment I wanted to shout out "You know she's shy.  She does not suffer from poor self-esteem".   Growing up my mother always told us "Don't mistake meek for weak".  I think that this very aptly applies to this situation.  Now I have the dilemma, do I tell them what I suspect, or just keep my mouth shut?  I would have taken her to the classes anyway.  They really are a great class.  What do you think I should do, tell or keep it to myself?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Waupoos Estates Winery

    Prince Edward County may very well be one of the most beautiful places on earth.  That is a big statement, but a true one.  I find that by the time I have hit Picton, Ontario I feel like I am on holiday.  The area reminds me of the ocean side towns in the States.  Somehow to me the air smells fresher, and I feel more calm and content.
    Last year my family and I participated in "Maple in the County".  In March, Prince Edward County promotes their Maple Syrup and the area businesses all get in on it.  On that trip we wanted to go to the "Fifth Artesian Cheese Factory" in Waupoos.  Waupoos is gorgeous!  It sits right next to Lake Ontario and the views are breath taking.  I had never been to Waupoos before that.  On the way we stumbled upon the "Waupoos Estates Winery".  There are no words to describe it's beauty.  We stopped by on our way, and I fell in love.
    Fast forward to last week.  I needed a mini break from my life.  I needed to run away (this is becoming a theme in these blogs lately isn't it).  I packed the baby (I know she's three, but she's the baby o.k.) picked up my Mom and headed out to the county.  Mom had never been to Waupoos before, and I wanted to see her reaction.  She did not let me down.  She ooohed and awwwwed and gasped, and made my day.  So much so that we heard a little voice from the back seat "Oh my, isn't that pretty" in the same breathless tone that she had been hearing from the front seat.  I knew that Mom would love the Waupoos Estates Winery.
    As you pull up you forget that you are still in Canada.  It really feels like you have arrived magically at a foreign country.  Nearly as far as the eye can see are grape plantings, set in front of the the glorious backdrop of Lake Ontario.  Then there is the actual store itself.  They have seen to every single minute detail.  Their very chairs out front have grapevines with grapes carved into the seats.  It is beautiful.  It is obvious that they have spent a lot of time making sure that every detail is perfect.  If they take this much care on the building, imagine the quality of their wines.

    I was impressed before I even set foot in the store.  Inside the store is bright and colourful.  There are lots of beautiful gifts for sale.  My favourite bar none was the giant high heel shoes that were in actuality wine racks / holders.  These would make an amazing gift (hint hint honey).  They had matching adorably fun wine glasses too.  I just loved the whimsy of it.  It was all displayed beautifully with lots of space to look around without fear of knocking something.  There was lots, but not too much much that it was overwhelming.

Wouldn't this make a great gift?

    Even better than the beauty I was surrounded by was the customer service.  For you regular readers you will know that customer service is EVERYTHING to me.  No matter how amazing the product is, I will not come back to your store if you are rude to me.  I will tell everyone I know when your customer service is excellent, and your employees are cheerful and helpful.  If you have good customer service, with polite, cheerful and helpful staff serving me, I will be a life long customer.  The women that work at the Waupoos Estates Winery honestly should win award for their customer service, especially this nice lady in the picture above who helped us.  She was nice, cheerful, helpful and knowledgeable about their products, I really appreciated this.  I told her what I liked and asked for a suggestion of a sweeter wine.  I am new to wine drinking.  If truth be told I prefer sweet wines mixed with juices (one step off of coolers).  I do not have mature wine tastes, but I like to try.  I really appreciated the fact that you can taste any of their wines for a mere dollar.  There is nothing worse that purchasing a wine or really anything for that matter, getting it home and hating it.  I tried the honeysuckle wine, and fell in love.  I bought a bottle to take home.  It was a really nice bottle of wine and cost a mere $12.95.  Christopher and I enjoyed it that night with a baguette (purchased from Sweet Sensations Bakery) and a lovely dill cream cheese (purchased from the Empire Cheese Factory), but I digress.

They had an excellent selection of wines.

    After tasting the wine we wandered over to the new "Chocolatier and Gelato Shop".  Impressive.  I really liked that the chocolate they sell comes from local Donini Chocolate.  I like when businesses support each other, everyone wins.  As I mentioned they sell gelto.  Gelato is such a lovely fresh taste.  Mom treated us to a vanilla and raspberry gelato.  Oh my goodness was it delicious.  The lady who helped us was really nice and helpful, again amazing customer service!  We took our gelato out onto the patio to enjoy the taste and the overwhelming beauty.

    The patio looks out onto the "Waupoos Winery Estates Restaurant", the grapes, and breath taking Lake Ontario.  The temperature was just right.  Everything was perfectly aligned.  The gelato was heavenly, the atmosphere was beautiful, life was good.  I just sat there smiling like an idiot shoveling in spoonfuls of delicate gelato.

    I love Waupoos Estates Winery.  I will be back.  I will be back when it is just my husband and I, and we can enjoy a meal at the restaurant.  We walked down to the back of the property and I had fantasies about sitting on the patio facing the lake eating a delicious meal, drinking wine that has been grown right beside me.  I see my husband and I out on a date, facing the lake, holding hands while we finish our meal.  The weather would be warm (there would be no bugs, this is a fantasy), and when we are finished we will walk up the little hill to the parking lot.  Oh we will definitely do that!

    You owe it to yourself to make a little day trip into the county.  You really owe it to yourself to take that drive to Waupoos Estates Winery.  Their customer service is perhaps the best I have seen.  Their selection is excellent and the atmosphere is holiday like.  What else could you want?

If you would like to learn more about this glorious little piece of heaven, why not visit their website.  I was pleased to learn that they offer free shipping to anywhere in Ontario.

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