Saturday, February 26, 2011

First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition

I woke to a wonderful, sunny winter day.  It made me smile looking out the window.  The catch was that it was -30.4C (-22.7F) with a wind chill of -43C (-45.4F)!   I was up, literally bright and early to see my poor hubby off to work monitoring a fishing derby on Lake of the Prairies.  If it was this cold here, I can only imagine how cold it was going to be for him in the middle of the lake (another 3 hours north of here) with the wind howling across.

What an appropriate day to reveal the first of our writers to win a prize! 

I would now like to introduce our judges.  Tara Leach is a wonderfully creative teacher,extraordinary artist both on the stage and in the traditional sense.  Monica Donnelly  is another great teacher, world traveller and published poet!  They both very generously took the time to peruse the entries and choose who they felt should be featured.

The criteria was simply that all entries had to be under 200 words. I was delighted that not only was prose sent but poetry as well!  I want to thank all who participated - the entries were welcome and well-written.  I hope everyone will join us again next year at the same time.

It is now time for the our third place winner to be announced -  (Think drum roll and cheering here!)
    As one of our most talented writers, Laurita Miller offered us a haunting piece that left us wanting to know more.  Laurita is from our east coast and her site has recently been awarded first place in the  Canadian Blog Award for the Culture and Literature category.  Her site called "Brain Droppings" is multi-faceted and interesting to read.  She not only writes incredibly well but has a huge heart and is currently working on a fundraiser for cancer and will be shaving her locks in March, since she has not only reached her goal but exceeded it as well! You can check out her site at

    Now for the main event:

    Cabin Fever by Laurita Miller
    She woke when the book fell from her lap. The evening sky, dark and smoky grey, told of looming snow. Where was Bern? He was very late. Very late.
    She pushed up from her rocking chair. The old floor creaked, but it was warm, a blessing on a night like this. She paced the room – three, four times – then went to the back door. Snow drifted high over the porch and stretched, pristine and shimmering, for as far as she could see.
    How long since she’d been outside? Two days? A week? She moved to the window and looked out upon the snow covered laneway.  No footsteps, no tires marred the frosty ripples and waves. She longed to go out, but knew she would not make it far. New flakes, plump and heavy, swirled against the glass.
    She would wait for Bern. He would be back soon.

     Congratulations, Laurita!

    Laurita, I will send off your well-deserved prize which includes a pair of beautiful handmade candles made by Roger and Cathy Desilet of the Ravenscreek Farms near Oakburn, MB, a Brown Sugar Keeper from Steve Jorganson Pottery Studio in Winnipeg, MB and a Timmy's Card for one of those much needed caffeine fixes.  I will be tucking in a little extra surprise as well!
    Congratulations on your win  Laurita!

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition Winners

    The stories written for the First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition were amazing!  I expected no less from everyone and that is what was sent.  I had several entries and the judges took their time deciding who would be the worthy winners.  (|Although, I must admit that I thought the stories submitted were all great and should all be winners!)  I am quite pleased with their choices, as I think all of you will be as well!  I will only be posting the top three stories, starting with our third place writer.

    Watch for the first story tomorrow to be posted tomorrow afternoon - (Saturday)! 

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Thinking about Eamon Mac Mahon

    Kiwi, our dog
    I recently bumped into a documentary show called "Snapshot" on television about Eamon Mac Mahon. (check out his website at Besides being incredibly impressed with the quality of his photography and the extensive variety of his work, I was also quite taken with the portrayal of his character.

    One of the comments that was made (and I am very loosely quoting as I am not sure if I wrote it down correctly because I couldn't find paper right away-but the jist of it is correct) was:

    "You can always see what a person thinks of another by the type of photographs they take of them."

    I was really struck by this insight; so much so, that I went back and had a look at pictures I had taken over the years and recently.  It was with a huge sigh of relief to realize that pretty much all the pictures I have taken of people have been, maybe not exceptional, but definitely decent and respectful.  I did have to laugh when I found a couple I had taken of myself and realized that they were borderline awful - Now, I had to ask myself if is this a reflection of my opinion of myself?  Or was it that I just have really short arms and my camera doesn't focus all that well on such a close distance?  Hmm.  I think I prefer to go with the short arm theory.  lol

    How do your photographs stack up?

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    A Prairie Locavore

    Aren't these local apples beautiful?
     There has been a lot of talk lately about eating locally or at least regionally.  In many regions of Canada it would be impossible to find enough food to sustain a family's food needs for an entire year without importing it from some other region.  The flip side of this, of course, is that there are also many regions and locales that can provide a decent, balanced food supply that can be preserved, canned, frozen or otherwise put aside for consumption off-season.

    Zucchini in our garden
    We are blessed in this area with a great deal of variety in our local foods.  Within a 100 miles (or so), we have everything from pork, poultry, cattle, dairies, wheat, and fruit and vegetable farms.  It is relatively easy to eat well and not have to travel far to get good, nutritious food.  We are, however, restricted to a very short growing season when it comes to plant production.  This means that we have to preserve a great deal of food in order to make it through the winter season.  Unless you live on an acreage or farm, it would be impossible to provide/grow enough food to sustain a family from one growing season to another.  Farmers and farmer's markets can make that important difference when it comes to putting food by.

    I have a confession to make - I really like reading cookbooks, particularly small-town and regional ones.  I recently picked up a couple older cookbooks from a book sale.  One in particular caught my eye.  It is called The Prairie Cook's Book edited by Betty Ternier Daniels, illustrated by Betty Sadoway and printwork was done byWendy Borsheim.  The book itself is the size of a standard piece of typing paper - about 8.5 x 11.5.  The cover looked like someone had copied lovely hand drawn the images and beautiful handwritten calligraphy.  Flipping through the cookbook, I realized that the entire book, all two hundred pages of it, was all hand-written and copied to create this book- obviously before computers were popular!  Upon further inspection, I noticed that it was published in Saskatchewan.  Unfortunately, there is no date as to when it was published but I did a bit research and as far as I can determine, it was published probably about twenty-eight years ago. 

    This cookbook was way ahead of it's time when it was published.  Betty Daniels says in her introduction that

    "this cookbook is designed to help make you independent of the international food system, its recipes contain very few processed foods. You won't need to buy canned soup or packaged biscuit mix to follow these recipes. If you can't raise the ingredients yourself, you will be able to buy them from local farmers.  Not only will you reduce your dependence on the international market place; you will also save money and get better-tasting food that is free from additives and you'll reduce the a mount of packaging that you throw in the garbage as well...As these recipes will demonstrate, a diet composed entirely of prairie foods is not a spartan one.  We can grow a lot of good food!"
    Apple juice from a friend's apples

    I am truly impressed with this cookbook - the recipes are easy, nutritious and have a huge amount of variety within them.  There is everything from paneer, yogurt, enchiladas, to graham wafers and fruit juices.  As well, there are recipes for sauerkraut, chutney, dill pickles as well as rose-hip catsup.  You know a cookbook is truly from the Canadian prairies when it also includes detailed instructions on how to make a prairie favourite - Saskatoon wine!

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    "Pie, pie, me oh my!"

    I had taken a picture of the pie I had made for the kids/teenagers/students at school just because it was so enormous.  I had made an agreement with them if they worked hard and kept at their GIS (geographic information systems) work that I would make them a pie at the end of the term.  They stuck with it and all completed the course, helping each other (and me!) enormously along the way.  Such a great group!  I made the pie and it was huge - comparable to about 6 pies. I also made a little saskatoon pie for the ones that didn't like apple.  The kids loved it and ate everything but one tiny little piece, which I gave to another teacher who very much deserved it as well. I am just thankful the darn thing turned out as well as it did because pie making is not my strongest suit.  

    I was doubly pleased when one of the girls from the class approached me in the hallway about two weeks later and said she had made an apple pie that weekend!  She was so tickled pink about it because she had never made one before.  Teenagers never cease to amaze me, which is probably why I continue to work in a high school.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition Judging

    I have just printed off all the entries to the "First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition."  I am excited about taking these over to our judges and finding out who will be the winner!  I am hoping to post the stories sometime next week.  Every second day I will start posting with our third place winner, second place winner and finally our first place winner.   

    I must apologize in the delay for posting anything about the competition as I have been down with a bout of bronchitis for the past week.  Hit me like a lead balloon and just as nasty.  I am happily back at work as of yesterday - kind of tired but ready to roll.

    Watch for results and thank you to everyone who has participated.  Everything I have seen come through has been top-notch!

    Good luck to everyone who entered and have made this possible!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Picture Perfect

    The cedars in my front yard.
    Under the huge cedar tree at my front entrance.
    I think I have fallen in love with taking pictures - there are just so many exquisite, beautiful things to enjoy in my world. The pictures allow me to rediscover them even when the season is past.

    Looking up into our maple trees in the backyard.
    My lovely yard offers me so much.
    In their winter frost.
     I love the textures of things that have braved the elements.

    Bricks waiting to become part of our cabin.

    Nature's backyard leaf art.
    The really neat thing about these pictures is that none of these has been doctored (except for adding my name to the leaf art picture), this is exactly how I took these pictures and how they have come out.  The natural world doesn't need visual doctoring - it just needs to be appreciated for how wonderful it already is.

    Don't you love the texture of our firepit?  It looks so tactile! 
    On top of our firepit in the backyard.