Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are the windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile or the light won’t come in.

Alan Alda
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“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.”

Michael Jordan

Negativity can take hold and make its presence comfortable in your life and home.   Just like a persistent rodent who enters  your environment,  you know he is there and you are constantly aware of  his presence but the hunt to find him and eradicate the little bastard can be daunting and exhausting, leaving your energy and your spirit completely depleted and unmotivated.  When you take a little time away from  the little rodent; you refresh, re-cleanse, as you will, helping you overcome the helpless feeling, enabling you to come to your senses and hire the big guns to get rid of your rodent problem. 

The same strategy must be applied to the negativity in your life.  Allowing too much negativity in your life can rob you of the joy of living.   There are so many negative events in life that we are not able to control; death, sickness, job loss and political tensions in your community and in the world.   We can’t alter the event but we can alter how we handle the event and what we make out of it.   The negativity that I’m referring too isn’t necessarily the big event, it’s the persisitent, gnawing little things in life just like that little rodent who moved in and made himself comfortable in your home.  Negativity as well as that little rodent, if we leave it too long,  will work its way into our everyday life and bulge at the seams until the ultimate explosion.   Recognizing negativity and the way you manage it is a sure way to a healthy balance.  

If you are in the presence of someone who is constantly negative, you may not realize how much that negative person’s energy is weighing you down.  You may have to make the decision to hire the big guns and eradicate that presence from your life.  Recently I had to make such a decision and it wasn’t a decision I came to overnight.   I considered this person a friend but as time went on I realized the constant chaos and negativity she brought into her own life had not only come into my life, it had entered my family life as well.  As in most break-up of relationships, there is an event that changes all perspectives  and makes one stop and realize just how much negativity the relationship is bringing to one’s life.  The big event combined with many other under currents of the past, I decided it was time to move away from the negativity and chaos of this relationship  giving myself some clarity to think things through.  

Interesting, because as time moves on, I know I’ve made the right decision; the anger and hurt that I felt has moved to a more peaceful, accepting and forgiving frame of mind.   In the past there have been other events that has led to discussions or arguments that I thought were resolved but the past keeps creeping into the present causing more problems and deep seeded negative feelings.  At what point does this stop?  When all those deep seeded feelings lead to an event, an event that is the monster of all events and you say it’s time; time for peace, time for tranquility and time for happiness.   Time for you to love thyself!




The first time I tasted a zucchini fritter was years ago in Barbados – thought I’d died and gone to heaven – I haven’t tried these but I’m gonna!

Zucchini Fritters
Adapted a bit from Simply Recipes

Yield: About 10 2 1/2 inch fritters

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive or another oil of your choice, for frying

To serve (optional)
1 cup sour cream or plain, full-fat yogurt
1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinches of salt
1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.

Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor. The latter is my favorite as I’m convinced it creates the coarsest and most rope-like strands and frankly, I like my fritters to look like mops.

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: pressing it against the holes of a colander with a wooden spoon to extract the water, squeezing out small handfuls at a time, or wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing away. You’ll be shocked (I was!) by the amount of liquid you’ll lose, but this is a good thing as it will save the fritters from sogginess.

Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste and if you think it could benefit from more salt (most rinses down the drain), add a little bit more; we found 1/4 teaspoon more just right. Stir in scallions, egg and some freshly ground black pepper. In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet — cast iron is dreamy here — heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed. Repeat process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter. I like to make sure that the fritters have at least 10 minutes in the oven to finish setting and getting extra crisp.

For the topping, if using, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, zest, salt and garlic and adjust the flavors to your taste. Dollop on each fritter before serving. These fritters are also delicious with a poached or fried egg on top, trust me.

Do ahead: These fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week and or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you’re ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they’re hot and crisp again.

*Recipe taken from smitten kitchen


breakfast collageI awoke this morning to smell of something cooking.   The many wonderful smells and aroma of food doesn’t exist in my house unless I’m in the kitchen, so what was I smelling?  Curiosity got the best of me, down the stairs I went and I found this beautifully set table with french toast, smoothie, raspberry-strawberry sauce and both boys politely waiting for me so we could all have breakfast together.  My oldest son, Brendan, cooked up a fabulous breakfast and it felt glorious to be served instead of doing the serving.  I’m not sure what or why this transpired this morning but I hope to wake-up to more special moments like the one this morning in the very near future!


Pipe Dream #195: To Make Lemonade? – Rocky Road Brownies

piping dreams

rr brownies 1



When life hands you lemons, make rocky road bars. Because life is a rocky road, not an afternoon lemonade stand.

A short list of other coping mechanisms:

  • Pray
  • Make a thankful list
  • Make these

rr brownies 4

First off, chocolate, in the form of brownies. Second off, marshmallows and white chocolate. Third off, pecans. Best life. If you’re looking to pair these with red wine or lemonade, don’t. These are best off with milk.

rr brownies 2



One note and an opinion: I would cover the top of the pan with foil for a little while–the Ghiradelli chips I used got a little burnt. I’ve decided that I hate Ghiradelli white chocolate chips. Strong phrase, I know. But they don’t taste like the Ghiradelli bars, and they don’t temper the same way either. They SCORCH. And it is annoying. I would use the Nestle kind next time. Or break up a bar…

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The house seemed to be bubbling with excitement that day, the day the new couch arrived. I remember it well, even though I was only six years old.  My parents finally got a new couch and my mother was very excited about it.  I can still see the beautiful french provincial couch sitting in the old living room.   I don’t remember that much furniture being in the room so it was a real show piece.  The couch was dropped off and my mother made sure they left the plastic covering on it as she was worried it would get ruined right that second.  I took a step to run, dive and jump on the couch and I felt the hands on my shoulders.  “You do not cross that line” my mother said.  I think I exasperated my mother when I was a little girl because right away I looked at the floor where she was pointing and I said “what line?”  My mother takes her finger and I followed her finger as she painted an imaginary line right across the hallway where we were standing.  My mother then repeats, “that line, don’t cross it.”  “What colour is the line mommy?”  “Black” my mother says.  “I don’t like black, how about yellow?”  “Whatever colour, just don’t cross the line,” my mother says.

I’m not sure how many days my mother left that plastic wrap on the couch but the line thing was just way too tempting for me.  “Don’t cross the line,” I would hear again and again in my head.   I would be playing downstairs in the basement and at some point I would think about that damn couch and sneak up the back stairs, through the kitchen and into the hallway where you could either go up two stairs to the upper part of the house or step out of the hallway into the living room where the untouchable couch seemed to be calling my name.  I sat on the stairway and stared at the couch and thought “how I would like to park my butt on that couch.”  I managed to not succumb to the temptation; I think I knew if my mother caught me  I was as good as dead.  Sitting on the stairway I would look at the imaginary line and pretend the line was a different colour every  time, but never did I cross the line to sit on the couch.

I must have sat on that couch at some point, but to this day I have no recollection of sitting on the couch I just remember staring at it from across the room.  I love to thrift and every time I run into a french provincial couch in the thrift stores I stop in my tracks and check it out.  I always take a seat and remember that old couch and have a good laugh about it being covered in plastic and the line that I was not allowed to cross.  Silly really, it’s only a couch!

Recently I decided we needed a new couch in our family room and true to my champagne taste on a beer budget, the couch I wanted was over $2,000.00.  I have to say that if I brought that couch home  to my two boys who throw all their weight on my furniture and when I’m not looking sneak their food to the couch to  watch tv; I think I would opt to leave the plastic on the couch and draw an imaginary line.   I have a better understanding of how my mother felt.  We did purchase a new couch – found a great couch and bought it off someone for $60.00.  $60.00 verses $2000.00 – really a no brainer easy on the budget and no need to draw an imaginary line.  Below is a picture of a french provincial couch that reminds me of that couch so many moons ago!



IMG_0441About a year ago I bought the boys their first pet; two guinea pigs the boys named Thunder and Lightning.  I made the mistake of purchasing these little guys without doing any research.  My thought was “how hard can it be to take care of two rodents?”  I also made the mistake of buying them from a giant pet store.  If ever you decide to buy a guinea pig make sure you look for a reputable breeder. We hadn’t owned them for very long when the dark one (Lightning) seemed to be paralyzed.  After a trip to the vet and medication for an inner ear infection, he seemed to get a little better.  His back legs continued to sprawl out behind him and after a lot of research through the internet, I discovered he had scurvy.  After pumping him with vitamin “C” he seemed to be a little better and could get his back paws underneath his body but he will never be the same and has a hard time walking.  However, he is able to get to his food and he can take care of himself so I feel he still has a good quality of life.  The other guinea pig(white one) was pretty healthy from the start and never suffered any problems.  That is until a few weeks ago, maybe even a month ago.  I noticed some different behaviour from Thunder, he seemed more timid than usual.  Compared to Lightning who is vocal and gregarious, Thunder is shy and quiet so his behaviour was even more withdrawn than usual.  To spare all the details after a few weeks he seemed to go downhill and we got him to a veterinarian but unfortunately we were too late.  The vet said since he was only a year old he might pull through and gave us a bunch of medication.   When we first started administering the medication he seemed to be a little better but over a 24 hour period he went down hill fast, more like he fell off a cliff, and died.  In hindsight, I should have just given him all of the pain-killer the vet gave me and let him die easy because he seemed to be in pain and it wasn’t an easy death.  My youngest son (Matthew) was greatly affected by his death and I found his reaction interesting.  We decided to bury Thunder in our back garden and my son insisted that he do the digging, placing our makeshift coffin in the ground and covering the coffin up with dirt.  Both boys went through the house and found material to make a cross and stuck it in the ground to mark Thunder’s grave.   Matthew talked a lot about his feelings that day and he essentially said that he could not get the way Thunder died out of his head.  He also came to the realization that at times he played too much computer and didn’t spend as much time as he should have with Thunder.  It was interesting as he was going through all the emotions we all go through when we lose someone we love.  Lightning, our other guinea pig, was hit the hardest, you could see he was visibly upset.  He now goes into his little house and shows us his butt.  He’s never done that before, he always faces us when he’s in his house and watches as we move around and communicate.  He now moons us whenever he goes into his house.  The pressure is on now because the boys and my husband think we should get another Guinea pig for a companion for Lightning, but I don’t want another guinea pig, one is enough for me.  Besides this could be a vicious circle; we have to get a younger guinea pig because if we bought an older one they would fight for dominance.   One will eventually die and then I have to buy another companion – you see the circle here, this could go on for a long time.  No thank you!   It’s amazing to me how Lightning knew he was sick and when I think back one of the behavioural changes I first noticed was in Lightning.  In the last month or so he was constantly cuddling up to Thunder.  If he wasn’t cuddling up to him he was sitting in front of him staring at him, he would stare at him for hours not moving.  The behaviour was odd and different from past behaviour but I’ve never owned guinea pigs before so I didn’t know what to make of it.  Lightning knew Thunder was sick and if I was listening, I’m almost certain Lightning was trying to tell me.   Life’s tough lessons and most certainly the lesson is to not take each other for granted and not to sweat the small stuff.  Lessons my 11 year old figured out pretty quickly, let’s just hope the lesson lasts a lifetime.

Below is a couple of pictures of the last hours.  The picture showing our two friends confirms how dedicated these animals are to one another.  Lightning laid cuddled up into Thunder right to the very end, he never moved from his side – not for one second.  This is much more than I expected from two rodents.

guineau pig collage