When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
This Saturday, September 26th, people in 34 different cities across Canada will have an opportunity to shop unique and beautiful local handmade items at Etsy: Made in Canada pop-up markets. This is the second year for the event, which gives Etsy artisans and shoppers the chance to connect in person. Everyone who attends gets to celebrate up close the diverse talents that live in and are inspired by their own communities.
The pop-up market in my area is being held at Emmanuel Village in Kitchener from 10am until 4pm. I'm really looking forward to attending after seeing so many beautiful items at last year's event. Here is a small sampling of some of the handiwork of local artisans who will be at the Kitchener Etsy market this year. (Click on the highlighted text to visit the online shop for more information.)
Cabled Infinity Cowl by Freedom Knits
Etched Copper Leaf Necklace by Stray Stones
Antler Pillow Cover by HAWT Home
Sugar Maple Salad Bowl by Simply Rooted Wood Shop
Modern Teen Bracelets by ESBeadworks
Stationery Set by isavirtue
Upcycled Fair Isle Wool Dog Sweater by PupCycle Canada
If you're not close to an Etsy pop-up market this weekend, you can support Canadian artisans any time by shopping at Etsy online from the comfort of your own little corner of the country.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Pork Souvlaki with Lemon Roasted Potatoes and Greek Salad
For the pork souvlaki:
2 pork tenderloins, cut into one and a half inch cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
the juice of one and a half lemons, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 large clove of garlic, minced
a few sprigs of each of fresh oregano and thyme leaves, finely chopped (lemon thyme is nice, too!)
sea salt, to taste
In a large shallow glass dish, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, thyme, and sea salt. Add the pork tenderloin pieces and stir so that the pork is well coated with the marinade. Cover and marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
Preheat the barbecue. Thread the pork tenderloin pieces onto skewers. (If you're using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for about 15 minutes first so that they don't burn on the grill.) Grill the pork skewers over medium-high heat, turning frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pork is cooked through.
For the lemon roasted potatoes:
5 small red potatoes and 5 small white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
the juice and zest of half a lemon
a sprig of fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the potato pieces with the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest, oregano, sea salt and pepper in a roasting pan. Roast the potatoes for about 45 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally.
For the salad:
Add mixed greens, chopped red and yellow sweet peppers, chopped cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion, and kalamata olives to a salad bowl.
In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 small sprig of fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
sea salt and pepper, to taste
Shake the dressing well, then pour over the salad and toss just before serving. (Extra dressing can be stored in the refrigerator.)
Try this tasty souvlaki dinner -- it will have you wanting to shout "Opa!" (You might want to draw the line at smashing the plates, though. ;) )
Friday, September 18, 2015
I've been thinking a lot about the story of Ahmed Mohamed this week. The fourteen year old Texas student built his own digital alarm clock out of a pencil box, and proudly brought it to school to show his teachers what he had created. The school called the police because one teacher thought the clock looked like a bomb; Mohamed was taken out of his school in handcuffs. No charges were laid against him, as police later determined that the clock was harmless and that the boy had not intended to alarm anyone by bringing the clock to school, but Mohamed was suspended from school for three days.
I have sons with big ideas who like to tinker with parts and build interesting things. It makes me feel a little sick to think that a boy who tries to share one of his innovative creations with his teachers could be mistaken for a criminal, handcuffed and taken from school to a juvenile detention center for questioning. I'm concerned not only because of how confusing and downright frightening that experience would be for him, but also because of the message that this kind of suspicion sends to kids whose passion is to look at things differently and put them together in new ways: you can think it and build it if you like, but you've got to keep it to yourself.
When interviewed about Mohamed and his homemade clock, the police chief of his community of Irving, Texas said, "You can't take things like that to school." It's a fair enough comment, I suppose, given the number of incidents in recent years where students have committed horrific acts of violence in schools with weapons they brought in themselves. If a homemade device came into a school and turned out to actually be a bomb, and something awful happened due to a lack of intervention, there would be a shocked outcry of anger that school staff and police had done nothing to prevent a tragedy. But if school is not the place for a bright teen to share his harmless creative ideas and receive encouragement from mentors, then where is? The idea that our society's schools can only tolerate certain "safe" kinds of learning is sad to me.
Mohamed's story, along with others that fill our news feeds each week, show that despite our progress in the areas of inclusion and acceptance, fear still exists where there is a lack of understanding because something is not part of one's own personal experience. Different races, different religions, different kids who are able to build their own clocks out of pencil boxes are still met with suspicion, criticism, or ridicule on a regular basis. We have a long way to go yet to erase the notion that dissimilarities equal threats. I hope Ahmed Mohamed and all of the other innovative young thinkers like him will find within themselves the courage to continue dreaming, creating, and proudly sharing their own unique contributions to the world.
Friday, September 11, 2015
The dental surgery went very well, Noah's feet are much happier now that he has proper support for them, and our garage has never looked tidier. It was certainly a productive Labour Day weekend; I also spent a day baking to stock the freezer with good (and good-for-them) snacks for the boys' lunch bags. And while I still felt a little reluctant about the end of a wonderful summer as the boys headed back to school earlier this week, now that we're all settling in nicely to a new reality, I'm starting to enjoy the return to routine and the promise that the month of September always suggests to me.
Things are different for us this year, with Noah being in high school full time now. He is up and gone from the house quite early in the mornings to catch a school bus; most days he is on his way out the door just as Will is getting ready to have breakfast. I thought I'd miss our usual habit of the three of us eating and chatting together while we shared stories and the morning paper, but the change in schedule has uncovered a new niceness: I have time in the morning with just Will, and then in the afternoon with just Noah as he arrives home quite a bit earlier than his brother. I appreciate the opportunity to talk one on one with each of them, to hear their thoughts and feelings and the interesting details of each of their lives in those particular moments, without anyone interrupting. It's as important to me as ever in these tween and teen years to connect with my boys regularly, letting them know that I'm here for them even as they find more of their own way in the world.
The boys are both really enjoying their new adventures this week. Noah has already found many things he likes about high school life, and is eager to start training with the school cross-country team next week. For Will, going back to school seems to have lit a fire of ideas and ambitions within him. I found him poring over stock advisor newsletters early this morning and wondering what time the stock market opened so he could check the status of the companies he had selected yesterday for their potential. (This is one of his own ideas for a math enrichment activity this year -- if anyone knows of a program or app that lets kids play the stock market for learning purposes, without actually investing money, I'd love to hear about it!) He's constantly got Rubik's type cubes in his hands that he's solving while walking around the house, and he often speaks to me in html code, all while eagerly awaiting the start of a new dance class season.
Life is a kind of dance itself, isn't it? We're learning new rhythms all the time, trying out different combinations, sometimes stumbling and getting back up, sometimes feeling as though our feet can fly. While we practice the new choreography in our family's life this month, and the boys delight in their next steps, it's a perfect time for me to think about my own aspirations for this year. I find myself eager to make something new and different happen, all while staying true to what I value and love. Here's to September, and the hope of fresh beginnings.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The morning after our big family celebration, my mom, my aunt Christina, her two young daughters and I travelled up the highway that hugs Lake Superior to bring my grandma's ashes to their final resting place, a majestic bay where the waves roll in along a shoreline dotted with pretty rocks and washed up logs worn silky smooth by the water's caress. The drive was one I hadn't done in years, but its once familiar beauty filled me with a rush of emotion as we curved through lush evergreen forests and climbed hills that offered breathtaking views of the lake once we crested them. Saying a last goodbye to my grandma in this lovely place, where nature's enormity makes the effects of time almost imperceptible, felt peaceful, and comforting, and right.
Goodbye, my beautiful Grandma. Goodbye, this lovely summer. Goodbye dear family, until the next time we can be together again. I love you all.