Polar Madness

In Tanya Lloyd Kyi‘s book When the Worst Happens, a great collection of true stories of survival, I read about “polar madness,” an as yet unproven psychological phenomenon that affects people who work for extended periods of time in the harsh conditions near the North or South poles.

The phrase came to mind again today, as I watched dozens of people, in various stages of dress, voluntarily plunge themselves into the cold, cold waters of Maple Bay for the annual Polar Bear Swim.

the bay

There were clowns, and princesses, and even a guy dressed as what I can only describe as a turn-of-the-century snake oil salesman (vintage suit, big hat, string tie). My son and his friends were among this merry band of . . . lunatics. Had he not announced his intentions as he pounced on me this morning, I would have happily remained buried beneath my lovely warm duvet for the rest of the day. Fortunately, the event was slated for a respectable noon start, so at least I had time to caffeinate and dress accordingly.

Bagpipes played and thermoses filled with hot chocolate were passed around. Everyone, participant and spectator alike, had giant grins on their faces. Those on the sailboats and kayaks just offshore had the best view. Seeing them dumping bags of ice into the water made the crowd on the hill shriek in delight.

The huge BOOM! (of course there was a boat with a cannon!) signaled the start and the horde raced down the boat ramp. Wrestling Mask Dude edged out Elvis, leaving the Giant Hot Dog in his dust. Mr. Vintage Suit took his time, walking in gracefully with a beatific smile.

hoard2     the hoard1

It was something to see, all right, and it wasn’t just the hot chocolate that was warming my insides. Maybe next year I will join those brave nutters.

Nah . . .

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope that your 2015 is filled with just the right sort of madness.

The Dollie Campaign

dollies

I wanted to share this holiday story of a remarkable little lass in our community. Her name is Caoimhe (pronounced KEE-vah) and she is on a mission.

Every Christmas, Caoimhe and her little brother each pick out a toy for the local Salvation Army Toy Drive, something they think a child their age would enjoy. Last year, a particularly beautiful dollie caught her eye and as she imagined the smiles it would bring on Christmas morning she started to think about how she could do more.

Like many children her age, Caoimhe loves to play with lotions and potions, mixing and matching and even creating her own scents. One thing led to another and at the tender age of five she created her own company!

Her plan was to sell enough of her Bath Love by Caoimhe custom-designed hand soap, complete with cool foam dispenser, throughout the year to be able to buy five dolls this Christmas for children right here in the Valley. Once word got out, the orders came streaming in. Her parents, in addition to their assembly-line work, helped her develop a system so she would have money to buy supplies but also a little left over for herself. All you have to do is ask and she will talk your ear off about her three-jar system: Charity, Company, and Caoimhe.

soapLast week she was thrilled when she realized she had earned enough to buy six dolls! Of course, she has chosen a toy company that donates a portion of their proceeds through World Vision to children’s causes around the world. The dolls will be dropped off at the Salvation Army this week and this little entrepreneur is already talking expansion. She told her mum that she thinks they should shut down for the winter, but plans to be back for the Spring and Summer market!

Thank you, Caoimhe, for sharing your great big heart with us, and for reminding us to be grateful for all that we have. You are one amazing kid.

Caoimhe

 

Bath Love by Caoimhe products are handmade using essential oils, distilled water and pure organic castile soaps, which means they are gentle on you and the environment.

Yes, We Have No Bananas

maui treehouse

And that’s because I’ve been baking! On our family trip to Maui last year we came across banana bread everywhere, in the grocery store, in the pharmacy, and at every roadside stand. But one day the grandparents stayed at the beach with the kids while hubby and I went on a mission to find Julia’s Banana Bread, reported to be the best of the best. After hours bumping along on a crazy winding road (with an admittedly stunning view), we spotted what has to be the cutest little treehouse ever. The apple-green shelves were filled with snack-sized samples of heaven: coconut candy, roasted nuts, dried fruit, taro chips and yep, there they were, the humble little loaves of legend. It took considerable restraint on our part to not inhale all of them on the way back.

When we returned to Canada, I tweaked the recipe I found at bon appétit just a bit to try to re-capture the flavours of that perfect day.

The more ripe the bananas, the better. When fruit flies start to hover, I peel the bananas, squoosh flat in a large Ziplock and chuck them into the freezer until I have time to bake.

Maui Bread

maui bread

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 glugs of fancy or blackstrap molasses (2-3 tbsp)
  • 2-3 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a large loaf pan (or four small ones) with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking soda, and salt with a fork. In a separate large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, molasses, bananas and oil until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
  2. Bake until a tester inserted into the centre of bread comes out clean. Start checking around the 30-minute mark (earlier if using mini pans) and then in 5-minute intervals until done. Dark brown is GOOD. I like to see the bread pulling away from the pan a bit too.
  3. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.

Can be made 3 days ahead. In fact, it tastes better after a day or two, but you may have to hide it. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Brave(ish) New World

ham

So, for some reason, I got it into my head to start a blog.

I think I might be regretting that.

My first attempt began with describing myself as a “noob,” because I was trying to be cool (or WHATEVER) and thought that’s something my son would say. Turns about, there are noobs and then there are n00bs (and apparently only n00bs use words like blogosphere). The jury is still out, but all signs seem to indicate that, for now, I’m just your garden-variety newb.

My head hurts.

ANYWAY, my original intention was to jot down a few notes now and again about what I’m reading, what I’m writing, and even what I’m cooking up in the kitchen. The things I do when I have a few moments to spare or need to recharge my batteries.

In case you’re wondering, “pass the damn ham, please” is my second-favourite line from my first-favourite book. Yes, I do realize that citing To Kill a Mockingbird as my touchstone is anything but unique. It’s a LOT of people’s favourite. As it should be. There was just something about Scout Finch’s smart mouth and keen observations that immediately resonated with my younger self. It’s a book I reread every few years (and, although you won’t catch me saying this often about adaptations, the movie is excellent, TKAM vintagetoo).

My FAVOURITE line from Mockingbird is “Hey, Boo.”

Every time I read those two words my eyes well up just like Scout’s when she sees Arthur Radley for the first time.  With one perfectly crafted line of dialogue, a person I’ve never met reached out to me and made me feel something: happy, sad, then happy again. I don’t remember when I first realized that words had that kind of power but I do know that once I did, I was hooked. I spend every chance I get seeking out that magic.

What is your book that begs to be reread?