New Year’s Resolutions

Gill has a few words about making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions.

I’m with her on her first point. If I bother making a resolution at all, I know that no good ever comes of aiming too high. If I get it in my head that I want to do something, I just tell myself that I’m going to give it a go and we’ll see what comes of it. Any result is a good result when you don’t have an unrealistic bar to clear or deadline to meet.

I’ll even take it a step further, but also disagree with her somewhat on number two. Often you’ll hear people say that it’s a good idea to have somebody holding you accountable or to do the thing you want to do in a group. For me, if you want to ensure that I don’t do something, put me in a group or have somebody bother me about it. It’s the same thought process behind the unrealistic goal. If my progress is slow, I’m going to feel judged by the group or my appointed nag, I’m going to get discouraged and I’m not going to want to do it anymore. I’ve found that I’m much better at basically everything when I’m left alone. That’s why I often don’t tell people about my goals. I know that if I do I can never speak to those people again.

I’ll let Gill take it from here.

At one point or another we all have stood there glass of champagne or non-alcoholic bubbly in hand when the year rolls over vowing to do it right this time around. It has also been said that if you can do something for 21 days it will stick, but what about beyond those 21 days? Here are some tips.

  1. Don’t set the bar too high – Don’t tell yourself your going to lose 35 pounds by your cousin’s wedding in mid February and then beat yourself up when the little red needle on the scale only moves 25 pounds. Set a reasonable goal.
  2. Support is everything – Surround yourself with encouragers not enablers. Encouragers will not only be your cheerleaders, but keep you accountable. They will make sure that when you’re about to rip chunks out of your hair due to your cigarette craving to bring you back around.
  3. Think outside the box – Weight loss, quitting smoking and getting your bills in order are important, but what about trying a new recipe a month? For the last couple of years I have worked, and am still working at not being so hard on myself.
  4. Self encouragement can help – Before the start of my journey to stop being hard on myself I would tell myself very harsh and negative things. Thankfully I have been blessed with loads of supports, which makes it easier for me to support myself.


Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? If so, how well did it go?

Making A Day Of It With Mom

Seems like Gill had a nice Christmas. I wonder if the snow scene she describes is going to inspire a quilt at some point.

In the last few years I have begun to notice something beautiful. My mom and I are building a bond, and she gets me. I have talked about her in previous blogs, and about neat things she has done, but this one’s kind of special.

Wednesday’s Adventure

In the last decade or a little better my mom has taken up quilting. In her humble opinion she isn’t good at it, but I have received many complimentary responses to some of the projects that adorn my bed, sofa, and now wall. My mom had received some materials from my sister for Christmas, and had the creative juices perform a Niagara Falls on her. We first drove to a blink and you will miss it village about fifteen minutes away called Maxwell to see their quilt shop, but it was closed until the following day. With country music playing and good conversation flowing, we made our way to a larger town about forty minutes away called Shelburn, where the quilt shop was open. My issue was that it was rather cluttered, but it was a nice little place on the main drag.

Ice On The Trees

To our readers who come from warmer places that don’t get lots of snow I must paint this picture for you. Where I grew up was an area called The Snow Belt. If you manage to get to this little slice of heaven you will marvel at the snow on trees, making it look like a postcard. It had rained, then frozen, and with the temperatures when my mom and I left home on the colder side there were branches of trees made silver by ice. When we were coming back from our adventure silver had given way to brown and black.


What’s something you would be surprised to know about one of your parents?

Recipe For A Fabulous Holiday

Gill is back to share her recipe for a happy holiday season. Hers involves a lot less liquor than mine does, but it’ll work.

Hi friends.

It’s that time again, and one of the big things around this time is time honored recipes. They might be generations old, like your 5 times oma’s recipe for fephernus cookies, or new off the net. But what about the ingredients for a wonderful time? I have those right here for you.


Take a generous helping of family
Some traditions old and new
Go heavy on the fun and cherished memories
Add a helping of compassion and kindness for your fellow people


Blend the family moments together until the cockles of your heart are just room temperature, add the compassion and kindness gradually until warmth begins to spread. Keep this up into the next year, and the ones to come.

Serves As many as you like

To quote Tiny Tim, “God Bless us everyone.”

Ms. Gillie wishing you all the best, for now and to come. Happy holidays.

Giving Back

Gill is back.

To answer her question, the main thing I’m doing in the hopes of making the world a little bit better is just being myself. I’m not trying to sound egotistical, I just mean that I’m doing my best to do what I always try to do anyway regardless of where we are on the calendar. Listen to people when they need an ear, try to be there with some decent advice, a laugh or a smile. Give what I can where I can, that sort of thing. Even running this silly little blog helps in its own way, a fact that never doesn’t amaze me.

Normally this is about the time when I would rank awkward gifts, regional dishes, or poke a bit of fun at party guests, but right now I’d like to pause for a second to appeal to all of you out there.

Many times we don’t think too much of the lady pushing the shopping cart with all of her worldly possessions, or the guy with the rough looking clothing. Have you ever taken a second to find out what brought them to this moment? Sometimes in the business of life we don’t stop to think.

Nothing For Christmas

When I was growing up I often would race down to the sofa by the fireplace at my parents farmhouse to find what treasures were hidden in the pretty paper. As I grew up I would see different groups of folks collecting mountains of toys, or stuffing buses. Having never been blessed with children of my own, I decided this year to help someone in my community. I’m going to start by buying something for one of our local toy drives and see where it goes from there.


As 2018 marches to a close, how are you making the world a better place?

Gill Remembers A Family Friend

Our condolences to Gill and anyone else who knows this lady.

In Memory of Leona Knott Oct. 26 1928-Nov. 24 2018

I was getting my breakfast ready when a family friend called to inform me that someone who had been a large part of my childhood had past on.

A Good Neighbor

When I was little I would often go to this lady’s house to spend days, or overnights while my parents went out, went to work, or from what I was told, when my sister was born. Like me she lived on a farm, and had lots of things to do in and outside of the house.


When my sister and I were tiny children Leona had a piano. I loved banging out what I thought to be wonderful Carnegie Hall level performances. I didn’t realize that my sister also needed time to bang out those works of art. She couldn’t say “Leona` or “piano` so she would say “Lona I wanta play the plano.”

A Wall Of Faith

By now you probably know that church was a part of my life since I was small, and whenever I would go to Leona’s house she would take me to her church. This morning my dad remarked that he wasn’t sure what the United Church would do with out Leona’s cooking, organizing, and other talents.

Parents Know All

Gill seems to be recovered from her surgery and back in action, although she’s not talking about that here.

It is a known fact that one can’t outsmart their parents. Whether you’re four and you eat that entire plateful of delicious chocolate chip cookies or sixteen and some bottles are no longer in the liquor cabinet, they know.

What’s My Point?

A few weeks ago I was facing some issues and feeling really sad. It must be a parental thing, because in a majority of e-mails my dad sent me he would include something to make me laugh or at least smile.

For Those Who Don’t know

My dad is a very soft spoken guy born in 1943, but his sense of humor is as big as his heart. Somehow he knows the right things for the right moment to cheer me up.

Something About Mom

My mom has style, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her daughter. She knows the right things to wear, how to decorate, and all about complimentary colors. We even share a love of neutral colors and unique decorating ideas. She also gets and empathizes with me on things, E.G. when my sister went in to this expensive boutique and I felt uncomfortable, she and I just sat together listening to music the next day.


So whether you think you got away with throwing that party in your house when your folks went to Europe, or you don’t think they get you, they do. You’d be surprised the next time your mom takes you for lunch at that little Italian place and knows you love the spaghetti Mario.

A Couple Updates From Gill

I’ve gotten a couple of updates from Gill recently that I’m just getting to now. In this first one, “today” = Sunday because I was busy long weekending.

Community Service

When one thinks of church sponsored events, one of several things probably comes to mind. Fish fries, revival meetings and forced conversions, or in rarer instances carnivals put on by the youth to attract and convert. Today I participated in something that would turn church sponsored events on their heads. From three-on-three basketball tournaments to health screenings, here’s just a few unique things about my volunteer experience.

Breakfast For The Servants

In my church we are often told to have a “servant’s heart,” meaning that we must go and interact with the community. I know what your thinking, but we have a model that instructs us to go to where people are at. After a short devotion, we went downstairs to the fellowship hall to have some sustenance before today’s event. Like I have mentioned before I attend a mostly black {Caribbean} church, and the food tastes like more. For today’s breakfast we had calaloo and dumplings.

The Corn Just Wouldn’t Husk Itself

Before the short devotion, after the short devotion and while the breakfast was being prepared, several people, including yours truly, husked four boxes of corn.

My Station

Once the early stuff was done and we set up the tents, I went over and manned several games and tables. There was ring toss, kind of a plinko game, and connect four.

What Else Was There?

There was a food tent where you could get cotton candy, popcorn, burgers, corn, etc. There was also face painting for the kids, health screenings like blood pressure checks, a tent where elders from the church explained our belief system, and so much more.


Today was a long, hot, but very rewarding day.

And in this second one, “tomorrow” = today because yesterday evening unexpectedly went nice and sideways on me. Not sure today’s looking much better, but here’s hoping I won’t need to get into that.

Good luck, Gill. I’m sure you’ll come through just fine.

Letter To My Readers

Dear Readers:

Remember how I told you I would be having surgery? Well, tomorrow’s when it occurs.

What am I having done? I’m having my tear duct unblocked, and they will be going in through part of my nose. The surgeon doing this is an othoplastic surgeon, meaning that he specializes in tear ducts and other delicate structures near or involving the eyes. The surgery itself will take around an hour, and I will have a bit of a shiner and some dissolving stitches. I also will be over at my parents for some of the recovery. I will tell you how things are in about two weeks.

Thank you all, and may God bless and keep you. Chat soon.

She’s written in with some news, and it’s not the greatest.

Hi there! I have had the surgery, and unfortunately complications have set in. The tube that was to be a defacto tear duct rerouter has slipped and broken. Things were looking good until the end of last week when this happened. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I love you all out there.

Update two:
Some better news has just arrived. Hopefully she’s truly on the mend this time.

Hi friends! Here’s some good news, my complication has been fixed! Yesterday a fellow of the surgeon sprayed my nostril, used something that kind of looks like something out of a torture chamber, located that end of the tube, and pulled it to the right position. Once again thank you all for your prayers and thoughts.

Many A Word From Gill

While we’ve been busy largely neglecting this place the last little while because summer, Gill has still been sending things in. So here, in no particular order, I shall now plunk a bunch of the stuff about what she’s been up to into a single, gigantic Gillstravaganza. I’ll also confess to not doing much editing here beyond a basic spellcheck and a touch of formatting, so apologies if anything looks off.

Artful Food

Last Saturday my mom, a family friend and I went to a town twenty minutes away from where I grew up. We had received an e-mail earlier in the week suggesting we come to this art show and sale. The e-mail came from a friend of my mom’s who taught with her back in the 1970’s, and was now helping a Syrian refugee family settle and live a new life in Canada.

Fill Your Plates And Hearts

When we got to the show and sale the mother and daughter of the Syrian family had set up a food table with traditional fair. There were stuffed tomatoes, baklava, falafels, and so much more that the very mention of them would cause me to short my computer from drooling over the mouthwatering thoughts. We bought some falafels and some hummus to spread over them.

A Young Girl’s Art

The daughter of the Syrian family {Avcin} waved us over to a corner display. She had created an entire abstract art project out of local stones and rocks, the intent of which, I believe, was to convey something about life in a small Canadian town with a nearby lake.

We Gotta Go To Keady!

When you think farmer’s markets, what do you picture? You probably think a lot of farm and garden stuff, some livestock, and maybe some food thrown in. Keady is all of that, but so much more.

On Tuesday We Go

Last Tuesday morning my dad and I went to this summer tradition. It’s a daddy daughter thing, and has been for several years now. We usually like to leave the house around eight-thirty nine AM to drive forty minutes to a town so small it barely registers on most maps.

What’s There?

Well, like I said in the intro it’s garden and farm tools and a livestock auction, but there’s so much more! On any given Tuesday you might also find vendors selling golf balls, Mennonites selling Friendship bread or pies. There is also homemade kettle corn. Yum!

What To Do

If you ever find yourself in Central Mid Western Ontario, or any rural area, go to a market such as this, you’ll be surprised and delighted to find the unexpected.

The Dragon Fly Cafe

Have you ever been to a restaurant that can boast the best something? You’ve probably also been to a roadside mom and pop diner or two. These gems dot the landscape especially if you leave the city and suburbs behind and head out to the country.

What Is This Spot?

It’s called the Dragon Fly Cafe, and it’s about twenty minutes from the farmer’s market I talked about earlier. In typical mom and pop style it’s very rustic, with the feeling of going to grandma’s house and smelling Sunday breakfast.

What Can They Boast

Well, many things, one being locally grown and sourced foods. There are so many farms in the area that provide eggs, bacon, chicken, etc. Freshly made bread, thirty varieties if you really are interested, all baked on sight each day. Let’s not forget the best chicken fingers in the county. They don’t rely heavily on grease, and are so tender and delicious. If breakfast’s more your thing, you won’t be frowned on for having it at noon.

Finding My Voice

Today I did something I never really imagined. I got up at church and did the welcome and lead out prayer. Why is this so surprising? I have terrible stage fright, and have for years.

When The Fear Began

This crippling fear started when I was in high school, and you would think that being an athlete would have liberated me from fear, but no. I was in drama classes, and would often have trouble memorizing lines. That was compounded by people, classmates, telling me I was worthless and sucked a lot.

How Today Came About

A couple of months ago I was on my way out of church one Saturday, when someone from the personal ministry team approached me. He asked if I would like to do the welcome and prayer, and for less than a second I thought I would politely decline. Then reason came by, and before I knew it I agreed.

Encouraging People

Today when the people charged with reading the Scripture, prayer requests, and the tithes and offerings people along with the praise team gathered in a small room off the sanctuary, I finally felt calm.


What’s something you’ve wanted to do or been asked to do, but didn’t because you felt nervous?

Breakfast and Coffee With Mom

If you think back several blogs, you may remember that I wanted to do something for my mom for spending several days with me while I was in the hospital. Well, I got my wish in two forms. The first was a trip to a place called Eggstravaganza. She didn’t let me pay for the meal, however we did have a nice chat. Eggstravaganza is what you think, all kinds of egg dishes. I had a salmon and cheese omelet, and my mom had Eggs Benedict.

Coffee And Conversation

My journey to knowing the person who is my mom continued the next afternoon at a local coffee shop when she finally let me pay for our coffees. She really loves dark roast with some hot chocolate thrown in for fun. I enjoy a nice dark roast, and here’s where it gets similar, I love just a touch of cream in my dark roast, and when my mom has dark roast minus the chocolate, she likes a touch of cream.


What’s something you have or had in common with one of your parents?

Up North The Week That Was

Here’s just a snapshot of things I did while visiting my family last week.

Repurposed oil drums

On Saturday May 19, my mom, aunt and I went on an art crawl. We saw many unique pieces of jewelry, pottery, etc. The coolest thing in my opinion was something we saw in a gift shop. The gift shop itself was rather cluttered, but in the middle of that clutter sat some unique art pieces. An Australian business man owns a factory somewhere in Vietnam where a crew of all women make oil drums into planters for gardens and birdhouses. What’s the cool factor? Well, not only are these formerly oil drums, but each set of items produced is unique and different.


What’s the coolest art project or installation you have ever seen or heard of?

Northern Adventure Part 2

You have often heard me talk of my love of unique and different foods and restaurants. Here’s yet another example of that.

Copper Blue

In the early 2000’s a company decided to develop a previously mainly untouched area near a well known ski resort near where I grew up. This development soon gave birth to what is now known as The Villages. Here you will find a venerable European village complete with spas, shops, and restaurants. Last week my dad and I were running errands when we stopped in to one of these establishments. Copper Blue’s atmosphere lands somewhere between rustic and trendy. My previous time eating at Copper Blue was around six years earlier, I had the pumpkin ravioli. That day, however, I had a black bean burger with roasted red peppers. The food there is pricey, but flavorful. The portions are also more what you would find in Europe.


What is the best little known spot you have ever eaten in?

Family Vacation

Gill is back to talk the people on your family road trip. Number one is absolutely Carin, and I can see myself as a four, maybe a five and probably a seven. I love useless trivia, and somehow I can be both easily annoyed and very easygoing.

Get out the road maps, pack your bags and load up the Sedan, van or station wagon. Not only are we heading back in time, but on the time honored family trip. In this essay I will talk a little about family vacation stereotypes and the members of your family who fit them. Sit back, relax, and you better have went before we get started because the next rest stop’s roughly an hour away.

  1. The organizer – This is the one who had checklists for the checklists. Usually a mom or in some cases dad or an older sibling they would have it all together two weeks before the trip. Anyone who dared mess up the natural order of things usually felt wrath.
  2. The overpacker – This was usually a female in her teens who felt that even on your family’s quick trip to the coast that she would need several of everything.
  3. The Procrastinator- This was usually a dad, brother, or the messy teenager. They would often wait until the morning of the trip and throw it all together.

  4. The fun facts person – This was usually an older relative who had spent the last month researching the rout, things on said rout, and fun facts about your destination.
  5. The Griper – This was often that teenage sibling, finding fault, rolling eyes, and with their head covered by walkman.
  6. The photographer – Often a mom or teenage sister, they like to click click at every rest stop, bed down, or anywhere else no matter how interesting it might be.
  7. The Go With The Flow – This person just enjoyed being on the trip.


Have I missed anyone, and what was your favorite family trip?

Gill sent this not long after what you just read, so since we seem to have a theme going, let’s keep rolling.

My family used to play the place name one all the time on long drives.

Ok! Ok! Settle Down! Don’t make me turn this blog around, so no one has fun! These are the games and threats that happened on a typical vacation.

  1. The Alphabet game – This could be very simple (“a is for apple”) or more complex. The game my family played on long trips was someone would say a place name like Rochester, and someone else would say Romania, each taking the last letter of the last person’s place name as the first letter of theirs.
  2. Punch Buggy – Depending on where and when you grew up, a punch buggy could be any red car, or a particular brand of car. The object of this game was to punch the person next to you in the arm as hard as you could and say “punch buggy no punch backs” before that person could do the same to you.
  3. Travel card games – This often worked if a lot of people piled in to one of those vans with a table in back. Usually it was an older cousin or sib teaching the fine art of snap or go fish.
  4. Don’t make me turn this car around – How many times were you arguing with your sibs and one of your parents actually made this threat?
  5. Actually making the kids get out – This could be considered highly frowned upon now, but back in the day it wasn’t uncommon for the sibs in the back of the station wagon to be fighting and the parent, having had enough, to pull over and open the doors. Sometimes they would even drive off to put a scare into them.


What’s the most interesting bribe you took from or offered to a sibling?

Vacation Bible School Makeover

Here’s Gill with a few words on what she’s up to these days. I don’t know where she got her ideas about volunteering, but that was never what I saw where I grew up.

When you think of Vacation Bible School, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably you think of arts, crafts, Bible studies, and maybe the pastor’s wife talking about how she and the pastor assembled a church school for thirty children in Botswana when they were missionaries. What if I told you it was something completely different, and more like the most fun you could have at a day camp?

So Different

When I was a kid going to VBS, we did traditional things, games, devotions, arts and crafts, and trivia. That was then, but where I’ve been volunteering, the kids had a choice of basketball, drama, or soccer. I helped in drama, leading games, giving out ideas, and watching as the mostly six and seven year olds ran around and enjoyed themselves. It was really satisfying observing the kids practice cooperation as they allowed their imaginations to soar skyward. The kids were great and I felt respected. They called me “Ms. Gill” and when I gave instructions, they listened and were polite and gracious.

The Verdict

As today was the last day of the program I am slightly sad, but here I sit smiling on the priceless and abundant blessing those children gave me. I never thought much of volunteering, sure I volunteered some at a local hospital growing up, but I never thought about it as much. What do I mean? Where I grew up, unless you were volunteering for a sporting event, retired, or intellectually challenged you generally didn’t. But this experience has broadened my horizons. I am thankful that the head of the Children’s Ministry approached me and proposed the idea of helping out at a Vacation Bible School. I really enjoy working with children, and would happily do this again.


What is a volunteer job you had that you loved, or are you interested in volunteering?