Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.


January 2016

I heart heart tart

IMG_6866This raspberry-ganache tart is a lot simpler to make than it looks and you can’t beat the combination of rich chocolate and fresh raspberries. I love my heart-shaped tart pan and use it a lot. You can use round or square tart pans if you prefer.

Make a recipe of tart pastry dough. I make mine in a food processor.

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 7 tablespoons water or heavy cream, or 2 eggs lightly beaten

Combine both flours and the salt in the food processor and process for 15 seconds.With the processor off, add the butter and liquid and process for 30 more seconds. If the dough still looks powdery, add up to 2 more tablespoons of liquid. Form into a disk, place in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Blind bake your tart shell. Roll pastry out and place in a tart pan that has a removable bottom.

IMG_6849IMG_6853Place a sheet of parchment paper over the dough-lined pan and pour in enough dried beans or rice to come up to the sides. Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. Remove from oven when the edges are golden brown. Remove the parchment paper and rice. (Store the rice for future blind baking needs). Put the tart shell back in the oven and bake a further 15 minutes until the inside of the tart shell is golden brown.

Make the chocolate ganache


  • 8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Callebaut chocolate) (Great baking starts with great ingredients)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I’ve even found lactose free whipping cream for the Handyman)

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer on the stove and pour it over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes, or long enough to melt the chocolate. Stir the ganache with a rubber spatula and then switch to a whisk and stir until smooth and the consistency of sour cream. If you like a lighter texture, whisk the ganache with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. (This gives you the consistency as pictured below.) Cool this mixture before assembling your tart.


IMG_6864Place two or so pints of fresh raspberries on your cooled tart. Remove from tart pan and sprinkle with icing sugar. Place in the fridge until a half hour before serving. Add whip cream or serve with ice cream if you aren’t afraid of the calories.


My kind of glass ceiling

I discovered this rose in bloom in my unheated greenhouse today…in January, in Canada.IMG_6813

My herbs, like this pot of rosemary and mint, are still lovely and green and useable.



Three years from its construction, it is still my favourite place to be. In another month or so I’ll be out there every day with a cup of coffee and the radio planting vegetable, herb and flower seeds.IMG_5675Manufactured in Israel, it came in boxes, a lot of boxes. We ordered it online through

Go-big-or-go-home bold, we ordered the Grand Gardener (8 x 20) with four roof vents and four side louver windows which open automatically when it gets to a certain temperature. Some assembly required is an understatement but it proved less daunting than it looked. The Handyman put it together over the course of a few days with the help of its good set of instructions. Well made, everything went into place beautifully once the site was nice and level.

IMG_5702It was built to start unusual perennial and annual seeds, mainly ordered from England, to sell at local farmer’s markets. More posts to follow on this enterprise…


Voila, here it is in action.

IMG_7534 IMG_0494 IMG_7270 IMG_7263

The Handyman constructed benches and built an inner wooden frame so we could add a layer of poly inside to help keep the heat in during early spring. The frame was great for hanging plants as well. Note the fan. Air movement is key to keeping the plants healthy. A thin layer of chicken grit in the pots helps avoid moulds and fungus.

Not in my backyard



Who knew? Can we unknow?

Our motion-detecting wildlife camera is giving us a glimpse into who is coming and going in our backyard.

SUNP0001This guy was a regular.


And he had friends.

And teddy bears’ picnics at night which we didn’t attend.

IMG_1465And then there was this guy, and according to the date stamp, scant seconds before a neighbourhood cat. Cat photo was too blurred to post. He was in a hurry.

SUNP0008SUNP0009It’s not all nefarious doings though.


Or is it?SUNP0006All’s well that ends well for the cat. He came back, the very next day.

Carpe Diem Bitches

IMG_6809Clever marketing or quelle horreur?

Wines with funny names are cropping up all along the Naramata Bench and in the Okanagan Valley. A French friend once said she only buys bottles with standard labels and classy names respecting the French tradition where the Chateaux was of prime importance. Deeply suspicious of the quality of a product with a name like “Well La-Di-Da”, (Church and State), said friend felt the name was a key indicator of how seriously the winery took itself and its product.

A more recently made French friend brought the above pictured bottle to us a gift. “Names like this would never fly in France, but this isn’t France.” She appreciates the more light-hearted approach and we enjoyed a very nice glass of Carpe Diem Bitches, merci beaucoup.

A forerunner of fun names and well respected Naramata winery, Therapy Vineyards has gone to town with its wines dispensed from its Farmacy wine shop. Freudian Sip and Freud’s Ego are two of their world-class wines. On the doctor’s couch I would confess to a bit of pinot envy about their naming genius.

Another winery, staggering distance from our house, Van Westin has gone a bit haywire with “V” names: Voluptuous, Vixin, Vulture and Vrankenstein are Very fun, particularly the latter as volunteer pickers harvest the grapes at Halloween in costumes and proceeds are donated to charity.

More ominously, Black Widow offers a very nice Phobia, Red Eyed or White Knuckle are Monster Vineyards’ offerings, Tightrope sells Vertigo and Tip-Toe and Laughing Stock sells lots of Portfolio and Blind Trust.bigbangA short drive to OK Falls and you can taste OMG, Hatfield’s Fuse and Big Bang Theory from some bottles featuring some very cool, award-winning artwork.

Misconduct’s wine tourers can decide if they prefer Misfit or The Big Take. Can’t decide? Quidni suggests, Why Not Red or Why Not White.

If you think bubbles up the fun quotient Therapy’s solution is Fizzio Therapy. Too many bubbles and you see Pink Elephants from Elephant Island. Ruby Blues pops your cork with Peace & Love & Bubbles.

I’m with my new delightful French friend. It’s all in good fun and inside those cleverly-named bottles is some very nice wine. Oliver’s Church and State really does take the cake though with: Oh Bloody Hell, Tonight is the Night, I’d Shave My Legs for You and You’d Better Delete That. I think they have their demographic nailed. I dare any 20 to 30-year-old to buy Oh Yeah Post This and not.

Castanet used my blog post. Check it out here.








IMG_3502In a village of only 2,500, there is a bit of gossip. An in-the-know neighbour gave me the rundown on who is spending time with which Naramatian (yup, that’s really what we are called…kind of like Martians). “Things are pretty active in Naramattress at the moment.”

Oh well, Nevermatters – another  fondly used nickname for the village where people come to get away from pretty much everything.

IMG_8460In summer, I call it Bearamatta.

IMG_5940This very healthy black bear kept me up in the tree fort, wondering if she would attempt to get in the trap door, until she decided to move along. My what big claws you have…

Nicknames aside, the legend behind Naramata’s naming is the most appealing story of all.

In 1905 Naramata was originally called East Summerland which was too confusing, I guess. The postmaster’s wife, Mrs. Gillespie was a bit of a hippie dippie in her day apparently. She was a medium of the American Spiritualistic church and invited some of her pals over for a get-together at which she went into a “spiritualist trance.” The spirit of a great Sioux Indian Chief, Big Moose, came to her and spoke of his dearly loved wife calling her Nar-ra-mah-tah, as she was the Smile of Manitou. All and sundry were struck by Mrs. Gillespie’s revelation, a few extra letters were dropped and here we are. (I wonder if Big Moose every worried about Narramahtah’s faithfulness…)

Like discovering the biggest used bookstore in Western Canada just down the road, living in a Village named during a “spiritualist trance” is too good to be true…and I haven’t even begun to talk about all the wineries in my hood.



This is a serious journey, not a hobbit walking-party

IMG_6762If I was Gandalf, the hobbits would have ridden this furry, happy guy that’s up at Apex Ranch. Apex Mountain is the place to go when the cloud hangs gloomily low over the lake in winter. It’s all blue skies up there.



Good sex or a good book?

IMG_6785Like a good vintage, the smell is evocative and stirs scent memories. It’s a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acid and a hint of vanilla overlaid with a mustiness. It’s not a particularly nice smell but it’s a heady aroma to a book lover.

The Book Shop in Penticton greets you with its warm olfactory embrace as you step into its astounding 5,000 square feet.

The Book Shop’s founder and owner Bruce Stevenson describes it as a, “big city bookstore in a small town. Any bookstore in business as long as we have been (42 years) is going to have this many books.” When I ask how many books?, Bruce answers with a stock reply, “About the same number as I’ve been asked that question.” Joking aside, he simply doesn’t know. There is another 3,000 square feet of books stored in the old post office building in Penticton as well, he adds.IMG_6780The largest used bookstore in Western Canada and one of the largest in all of Canada is in a city of only 40,000 people and it’s only 20 minutes down the road from my village. Who knew? We moved here for the beautiful weather, the wineries, the scenery…blah, blah, blah… but the discovery of the book store cinched the move as the best idea we’ve ever had.

IMG_6773An outing to The Book Shop is like entering the bar on Cheers. Roz, pictured above getting my Beryl Markham biography off a high shelf, may not remember my name but she knows I’m training to swim the English Channel. It’s a place to go to chat about books, local politics, movies…whatever. With more than 25 years working at The Book Shop, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of book titles, authors and where in the maze to find what you are looking for.

With more books, covering a greater variety of subjects than many small-town libraries, The Book Shop is a wonderful enigma in the small city of Penticton. The huge variety and quantity of stock is a reflection of Bruce’s basic business philosophy, “a second-hand bookstore should be everything to everybody, people must be enticed to return again and again, they won’t come back if they feel they have seen it all in 10 minutes”.

It’s also a great place to rent really great and really weird movies, of which we have seen many, particularly when the Handyman chooses them. The Book Shop provides nearly 20,000 video & DVD titles including the most extensive selection of foreign films available for rental in the Okanagan Valley.


IMG_6788Many, many of those uncountable books with their lovely old book smell are now part of my collection and may likely end up back there years and years from now. Who can resist when most only cost between $5 and $10.

Don’t wait for your ship to come in…swim out to it


This one is good too…

IMG_1656I’m leaping ahead to the end of a story more than three years in the making. If all goes well (there are a fair number of elements to the “all”), in six months time, me and five mates will be making our own graffiti on the walls of the White Horse in Dover, England.

IMG_1654Successful solo and relay team swimmers of the English Channel come to celebrate their achievement with a pint and pen at this landmark pub. Team Crazy Canucks hopes to swim from Dover to Point Gris Nez in France and spend the next day or maybe a few days celebrating. With more than 135 years of history since Captain Webb made the first crossing, the basic elements of the challenge remain precisely the same. “Whatever the era, a Channel swim is and always will be a battle of one small lone swimmer against the sometimes savage vastness of the open sea,” says former Channel Swimming Association President Cmdr. Gerald Forsberg.

IMG_1652Forsberg goes on to say, “It is quite possible to be ten miles from shore on a pitch-black, cold night, with a cresting sea, a three-knot tidal stream, and thirty metres of depth underneath…In such conditions, the Channel is no place for a physical weakling.” We laugh at cresting seas and three-knot tidal streams…IMG_1655Looks like our biggest challenge will finding some real estate to make our mark at the White Horse.

IMG_1662In the background is the names of a team from a city at the other end of our lake in Kelowna. Well done guys. Can’t wait to join you on the walls.

Leaving no scone unturned

I am the queen of breakfast. When guests come all the stops are pulled out. The Handyman likes visitors more because of the breakfasts. When it’s just us though, it’s cereal or toast and a book. As a way of bringing light into our grey winter we now have the visitors’ breakfast ourselves on Sunday. Carpe Diem breakfast is now a thing. The menu varies but bacon and champagne are staples.

My mum’s Limoges, Waterford and prized Birks’ silver happily risk breakage to host an increasingly elaborate feast for two.


My SECRET waffle recipe:

  • 1 3/4 cups     all-pupose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into large bowl. Combine egg yolks, melted butter, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients into dry and gently fold together until just moistened. Do not overwork. Beat 3 egg whites until stiff and lightly fold into the batter. Pour 3/4 cup of batter into a preheated waffle iron and cook until steam stops, about 4 or 5 minutes.

Makes 4…add a side of bacon and serve with champagne and orange juice

(The key to these light and fluffy waffles is separating the eggs and beating the whites.)


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