When Will High School Ever End!! The Clique Culture!

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As I said in a previous post about being grown-up and mature, I am at a soul-searching point in my life.  And part of that is trying to still figure out why people tend to behave like they are still in high school.  You know…the cliques…the politics…the meanness…and the pecking order.  I look around at people as an outside observer because I don’t really belong to a group of people other than my family and a few close friends.  I don’t have a larger group…a clique, I guess you would call it…that I belong to.

In school I was always a loner, and not always by choice.  I am socially awkward still and find that I have a hard time understanding the pecking order of our culture.  It is a sad thing to me when I read the paper or watch the news or even just observe people around me in public or at work that we are a very clique driven culture.  If you belong to a certain group due to ethnicity or colour or background or social standing or finances, you tend to stick with your own kind.  Now I can understand this when it comes to maintaining the history and culture of a particular group to keep it alive and growing, but when it is just about keeping like-minded people in and non-like-minded people out, I just don’t understand.  I think I am just too soft and naive and hope that people will like me or anyone else for that matter for the content of their mind and personality and how they treat other people rather than the numbers on their bank statement or where they stand in the pecking order.

I often think back to a summer I spent on a trout farm where I stayed and one of my jobs was to care for the flock of chickens that provided eggs and meat to the farm owners.  I learned very quickly that chickens are some of the least intelligent animals I have ever met.  And unfortunately some of the biggest bullies.  Chickens form cliques or groups based on similarities in appearance or strength and will peck away at the chickens that are different.  Whether those other chickens are weaker or a different colour, they will single them out and make their lives miserable.  I used to protect the loner chickens from the bullies and try to ensure that they got a chance at the food.  The other people who lived on the farm said that I shouldn’t bother because as soon as I left the chicken run, it would all start over again…it was the way of life for chickens…the establishment of the pecking order.  And I know comparing people to chickens seems pretty cruel..but let’s be honest…people as a group are cruel even if people individually can be kind and generous.

I wonder when it will ever make sense to me why people behave the way they do.  I took courses in university studying animal behaviour and I find myself adapting the things I learned in these courses to how I observe and watch other people and their interactions.  We are animals after all.  And even if our civilized brain tells us that we should work together and be kind, our primitive brain wants to protect what is ours…whether it is food, shelter, security, money, etc. So we stick together in small groups and defend ourselves against interlopers.  High school was just a big chicken run and unfortunately, and my observations support this…we haven’t really grown out of the high school clique mentality.  This is a global problem in my opinion.  And it is sad!

I still try to remain optimistic about people, and the people I have close to me show me the positive wonderful way that people can be…kind, generous, considerate, loving and open.  I guess that’s why I keep them close.  I guess they are my clique after all.

Sorry if I seem to be veering off into uncharted territory in some of my posts, but I am more than just a thrifter and a refashioner and a cook, etc.  I have ideas and opinions about things and would like to share them as well as hear what you have to say.   What do you think about my wandering babble?  Cheers, Michele

 

Another Tablecloth Dress!! Refashion In Under An Hour!

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I found this black, white and lime green tablecloth at Value Village for only $2.80 with my coupon.

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I got so excited to refashion it that I forgot to take pictures, but hey, I have made so many of these slip-on dresses now, it is a pretty simple sew.  It was just cutting out the basic shape using another of my dresses as a pattern.  I did all the usual things of zigzagging the raw edges, sewing the shoulders and side seams before finishing the neckline, sleeves and hem.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.  I had just enough fabric with only a little left over. I unfortunately cut it a little small in my haste so it is bit form-fitting for my usual style of dress, but I like it anyways.

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Here is the finished result.  As you can see, I lowered the front neckline a bit instead of doing my usual boat neck or only a slight scoop neckline.  What do you think?  Cheers, Michele

More Favourite Books!! Pride and Prejudice Sequels and Prequels!

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As I have mentioned in previous posts, Jane Austen is one of my favourite writers.  Luckily for me and for other Austen fans, many writers have taken up the task of writing sequels, prequels and other versions of Pride and Prejudice.  Here are just a few.

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If you are an Austen fan, you should check some of them out, some are set in the original time period and some are more modern.  Some are more true to the original story line, and some like Pirates and Prejudice are completely different twists on the original story.  I hope you like reading as much as I do and will check some of them out.  Happy reading, Cheers, Michele

Gluten-Free Chicken Quesadillas!! Spicy Deliciousness!

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I have been working quite hard at staying gluten-free in my diet and the one day I ate some regular cookies, I had a huge headache.  So am back to gluten-free again.  This recipe is so easy and quick and with a nice fresh salsa is a lovely dinner.  If you are a vegetarian you can change out the chicken to add more beans.   I have added a recipe for a sour cream and cilantro dipping sauce which is delicious with the quesadillas.

Chicken Quesadillas

2 packages corn tortillas (~20 tortillas)

1 cooked chicken, skinned, meat removed and chopped into small pieces

1 red pepper chopped small

1/2 small red onion chopped small

1-2 large jalapeño peppers minced fine

3 tomatoes chopped small

1 can black beans drained and rinsed

1 can corn drained and rinsed

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp of dried coriander

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup cream cheese

juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix all ingredients (except for the tortillas) together well.  Lay the tortillas out and spread the mixture equally over half the tortillas.  Place the second tortilla on top to form a sandwich.  In a non-stick fry pan preheated over medium heat, place 1 tsp of vegetable oil.  Fry each of the quesadillas until lightly browned on the outside and then place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Once all the quesadillas are fried, place in oven and bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.  Cut into quarters and serve with salsa and this sour cream and cilantro dipping sauce.

Sour Cream and Cilantro Dipping Sauce

1 container of sour cream

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp lime zest

1 green onion chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together well.  Serve with the quesadillas.  Enjoy.  Cheers, Michele

50% off Sale at Value Village!! New Dresses!

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Recently it was 50% off day at Value Village and my daughter Katie and I were there as soon as it opened.  I got a few new dresses for myself in addition to finding things for Kate’s work wardrobe.

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Each of these dressed were between $4.99 and $7.50 after the 50% was taken off.  I think they will be perfect for summer although the last one is a bit dressy and will need a special date night to have a showing.  Cheers, Michele

Little Things That Bring Me Joy!!

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Thinking about my mom makes me realize that I am a very lucky person because I have many big things in my life that bring me joy; my family, my dog, my home, my job, my friends, my garden, etc.  But I often find that the little things in life can bring a lot of joy too.  These are just a few of my favourite joyful little things.

  1. Having exact change when paying for something.
  2. The perfect thrift find….obviously.
  3. When I can thread my sewing machine on the first try without squinting myself into a headache.
  4. The sound of chickadees calling to one another.
  5. Chipmunks. Ground hogs and squirrels!!
  6. The smell of a new book and a bookshelf full of new unread books or old favourites to re-read and a comfy chair in which to read them.
  7. Hard marshmallows.
  8. A ice cold Pimm’s cup with strawberries and cucumber on a hot day.
  9. A cold chocolate covered peppermint patty.
  10. Peeling an apple or an orange all in one long strip.
  11. Having a very sharp pencil to do Sudoku.
  12. Finishing the New York Times crossword in pen and doing it right.
  13. A perfect soft poached egg.
  14. A rain shower when the sun is out.
  15. The smell of un-burnt pipe tobacco reminds me of my dad when I was little
  16. Hot runny cinnamon toast.
  17. The smell after a rain shower in the spring or summer.
  18. The smell of fresh mown grass.
  19. The smell of a dog.
  20. Toasting marshmallows over a campfire…peeling each cooked layer off the outside and retoasting the inside again and again until it is all gone.
  21. Laughing so hard my stomach hurts.
  22. Holding my husband’s hand while watching a movie.
  23. Jumping in puddles…yep, still love to do that.
  24. Breaking the thin layer of ice on a frozen puddle.
  25. When someone says thank you and smiles at me.

These are only some of my favourite joyful little things.  What are yours?  I would love to hear them.  Cheers, Michele

Missing My Mom!! Does It Ever Get Easier?

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Today my mom would have been 76 years old…it has been over three years since she passed away and yet not a day goes by that I don’t miss her.  Today is especially hard.  I still find myself seeing something she would like and have even found myself going up to the checkout with that item in hand planning to buy it for her and then I remember she is gone.  I see her everyday when I look in the mirror, and when I see my beautiful daughters.  I hear myself saying things that she said to me and it makes me smile and sad at the same time.  She gave me so many things..the love of reading, the love of cooking for people, the love of gardening, the joy of thrifting and sewing, the need to be kind to people and so many other things that help make me who I am.  She is that little voice in my head that tells me what to do.  She loved her granddaughters so much that it makes me sad that she won’t be around to see them as adults living their own lives.  I know she would be proud of them no matter what.image image image image image image image image

I wish she was here so I could tell her all the things I wish I had said or to share with her my life and just day to day things.  I wish she was here to ask for advice or just to hear her voice once again.  I miss her hugs, the way she smelt and just knowing she is around if I need her.

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Does that feeling ever go away?  Does it ever really sink in that she is really gone?  Have you lost a parent or a loved one and how do you deal with the loss?  I would love some advice because today is a teary sad day for me.  Take care, Michele

Yellow, Green and Blue!! A Colourful 30% Off Thrift Haul!

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I seem to be thrifting in trends of colours and patterns these days.  And this 30% off thrift haul of tops is keeping that trend true to form.image

This yellow with white polka dot Vintage top has already had it’s massive shoulder pads removed.  It was only $3.50 with my coupon.

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This electric lime green top is perfect for the summer and was only $3.50.

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This Jones of New York top is light and breezy and very inexpensive at only $4.20.

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This yellow and white patterned top is from Jones of New York and was only $3.50.   What do you think?  Four bright summery tops for less than $15.00 with my coupon card.  Cheers, Michele

Bahn Kep La Dua!! Vietnamese Coconut Pandan Waffles!!

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I don’t usually post recipes back to back, but a fantastic girl from work, Melanie who gave me those beautiful button earrings that I posted a while ago, gave me this recipe.  She also gave me the Pandan extract, coconut milk, tapioca starch and rice flour to make them.  She is awesome to give me such a great gift, goodness knows I love to try out a new recipe and to give me everything I needed to try them is amazing too. So this morning I tried out the recipe and I am in love with them…they are so freaking good!!  They are sweet and slightly nutty like pistachios with a slight floral note.  So amazingly good that I ate them hot fresh off the waffle iron with no syrup or fruit.

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Now be aware that the Pandan extract is a very deep green and will colour your waffles a lovely shade of green.  This is supposed to happen.  Pandan extract can be purchased at an Asian food store, just ask for it if you can’t find it.  I hope you try this recipe out.

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Bahn Kep La Dua. Vietnamese Coconut Pandan Waffles

1 egg beaten
1/2 can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of melted butter
1/2 tsp Pandan extract
1/4 cup rice flour or tapioca flour
1/2 cup gluten-free flour
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 tsp of baking powder
Pinch of salt
Oil or spray for greasing waffle iron

Preheat your waffle iron. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl.  Mix all wet ingredients in another.  Mix the two together but do not over mix, just til smooth.

Cook in your waffle iron until lightly browned.  Enjoy with fruit or yogurt, I think they are sweet enough that they can be eaten without syrup.  I absolutely love them.  Hope you try this recipe out.  Cheers, Michele

Eaton Mess!! Katie’s Birthday Cake!

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Yesterday was my little girl Katie’s 26th birthday and her wish for dessert was a super easy dessert called Eaton Mess!!  It is a traditional dessert of crushed up meringue mixed with whipped cream and strawberries and bananas.  It is usually served at Eaton College during their annual cricket match against Harrow College.  But we served it for my daughter’s birthday, since we didn’t want to have to wait for the cricket match.

Eaton Mess

Serves 8

8 egg whites
2 cups of white sugar
large pinch of salt
2 tsps of vanilla

4 cups of whipping cream
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

6 cups of chopped mixed fresh fruit and berries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking pans with parchment paper.  Beat egg whites with salt and vanilla until opaque.  Add sugar very gradually until soft shiny firm peaks form.  Spread the meringue mixture evenly over the two pans and bake for 75 minutes, switching the pans around half way through.    Then turn off oven and open the door.  Allow the meringues to cool in the oven until room temperature.  While meringues are cooling, cut up and prepare fruit.  Whip the whipping cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla til stiff peaks form, refrigerate fruit and cream.  When cool, remove meringues from oven and tear into bite size pieces.  Fold the meringue and fruit into the whipped cream and serve.  So delicious!!  I hope you enjoy.  Cheers, Michele