A Look Forward at 2013

by Flickr user Lenabam-Anna

I mentioned in my last post that I’m not big on resolutions.  I quit them by the second week of January, so why bother setting them.  Instead, I’m thinking about how I want to FEEL in 2013 and some things that are going to get me there.  I’m working through The Desire Map (affiliate) by Danielle Laporte (I adore this woman) and have decided that FEEL is more important than goals.  Ultimately those things I want to feel will point me to goals.  So here’s some ideas I have for the brand new year.

I want to feel more Spiritual

To feel more spiritual I need to attend my church more.  I love my church, it’s just a bit of a drive.  But when I’m there, singing my heart out, I feel so alive!  It’s also a great way to start conversations with My Guy, to continue to explore my thoughts, beliefs and spiritual leanings.

I also want to spend more time writing about my faith and exploring it within myself.  Maybe this means keeping a journal or something, but I would like to make more space to explore my inner spiritual side.

And I also want to read more about religion (mine and others) and spend more time studying what’s been written.  Again, it just helps me to feel more connected and spiritually grounded.  Plus, I love hearing other opinions and deciding for myself where they fit into my beliefs.

I want to feel more Authentic/Real

I know, ‘authenticity’ is such a buzz word that it’s almost lame to use it.  But I have been feeling more real – honest about who I am and loving who I am.  I want to continue this feeling!  I want to produce, create and be myself.  And rather than saying or doing what I think is expected, I’d rather be true to myself when choosing how I will express myself.

I want to feel more Confident

Oh this one is a perennial struggle for me and many others!  So I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do to be confidant in my decisions and choices.  I think one thing is to stop asking for everyone’s opinions!  Don’t get me wrong, some feedback is great.  But I ask to death and then side with whomever I think might know more about things and I forget to check in with my gut.

Decisions I’ve explored, turned over in my own head, then shared and then gone with what feels right (which also takes into account facts), I feel much more confidant in what I’m doing.  So in the end, my gut reaction and internal thoughts make me more confidant.

I want to feel more Green

Ok, this is a lousy word to describe what I mean!  Maybe Eco-friendly?  This one clearly is not done being worked on.  But I want to be more self-sustainable in terms of my food.  Grow more food, be creative with my canning.  Spend more time growing my own and sourcing local and preserving my food (without preservatives!) so that my life is more sustainable and I leave smaller and fewer footprints.

Not only do I want to do this for health reasons (me and the planet) but I also enjoy these pursuits.  I enjoy cooking and growing plants.  I enjoy working with the earth.

This is still a work in progress.  I need to refine what I’m looking for in the upcoming year, but the ideas about are the most prominent for me.  And of course, these ideas lead directly into Country Girl Cooks and will help me to decide what the new year will bring for new products and ideas.

How do you want to feel in 2013?  Share below in the comments how you want to feel in the new year!

A Look Back at 2012

2012 was a year of change.  Some wonderful, some sad and some the caused a lot of learning.

I always look back at the previous year before I look forward.  I believe there are always lessons in your past that will help your future.  In 2012 I:

  • Began Country Girl Cooks
  • Did my first craft shows
  • Got to know My Guy’s family (they’re awesome!)
  • Took a family vacation for the first time in nearly 15 years
  • Changed jobs
  • Quit a job (not the same as above, either!)
  • Actually made use of my savings account
  • Lost a loved one (My Guy’s mom)
  • Began really doing the hard work of looking at how my Mom’s death has affected me
  • Made some tough decisions… and feel awesome about them
  • Realized that I let guilt and shame rule my life most of the time

I bought a lot of books in 2012 that I haven’t read or even begun to think about putting into action when I did read them.  I have pages and books of ideas, thoughts and I haven’t really examined or done anything with them.  I have stuff by the truckload (although, I try often to pare down) that I don’t need or really want.  I just can’t bear to part with.

I don’t really believe in New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because, like the rest of the world, I abandon them before January 10th is even dawning.  And I often make sweeping decisions that I don’t plan for so so the consequence is that I can’t keep them.  I’ve been trying something different though.  I just started.  I just started making changes with no significant future plans, I just simply let my head, conscience and heart guide the way.  My heart was the ultimate decision maker this year.

I learned that having decisions FEEL good, is good.  That I should do a lot of things but if they don’t FEEL good, then I don’t enjoy them.  I knew I should watch my bank account more, but it felt good to give (for the sake of helping, not the recognition), so I gave.  In the end, it didn’t much affect my bank balance.  I should stay at a job (that I absolutely hate with a burning, searing, crying passion), but instead I’ve taken a leap of faith in myself and God that I will figure it out, and I handed in my notice.  I should do lots of things, but in the end, if they don’t feel right, then I don’t put all of me into it and we’re all left with a Karen who just doesn’t give it her all.

Tomorrow I will tell you about some of the changes and more of what I have in store for 2013… Until then, share what you’ve had happen in 2012 in your life and what are you learning about yourself?

One Year Since Mom Died

Shelagh Christine Hyde
June 29, 1955 to September 7, 2011

On Friday, September 7th, it was exactly 1 year since my Mom died.

I think what struck me at first was that the day was like any other.  I think I woke up expecting there to be some kind of announcement, banner or SOMETHING to mark the day.  But to most of the world, it was just simply another Friday.  The second thing that struck me was that I had survived a year without her.

One of the last things I remember thinking or saying to her was that I didn’t know how I could live without her.  Mom was my mom, best friend, my conscience, my morals and ethics compass.  She was opinionated and not shy about sharing her thoughts, whether you asked or not.  Which irked me because she was nearly always right.  So I didn’t know how I could possibly live my life without her words of wisdom (wanted or not).  But here it was, a year later and I had made it.

And then the third thing, which was and is absolutely the most guilt-ridden thought I likely have had all year.  On one hand the year has been horrendous.  I lost my Mother. My Mom.  But on the other, things were good.  My Guy and I went from friends to Us, I started Country Girl Cooks in Mom’s honour, I’ve met all kinds of new and great friends and I don’t spend every day crying at losing her.  So on one hand, I’ve had the most heart-wrench, soul-crushing loss of my life and on the other, some amazing opportunities have opened up.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

My favourite pic of my parents

And yet, Mom would be horrified to know that she impeded any kind of happiness for me, so the fact that life has marched on and I don’t spend every day mourning her would make her happy.  In fact just before she ended up in the ICU, she decided to stop her cancer treatments.  She was tired and she knew that an early death was inevitable for her.  And she felt like a burden, she wanted us to get on with our lives.

On the Thursday night My Guy and I said a prayer for her, and I woke up thinking of her as I do every day.  Not a single day has gone by without a thought of Mom.  In some random places and random ways.  But we remembered Mom by stopping by her grave, bringing her some hearts that my sister had made and painted in our favourite colours.  We cried, there were tears and love.  It was the first time I’d seen the grave since the day we buried her.  I refused to go back, for me, Mom is at home in her gardens, not at the graveyard.  Her name was on the gravestone below my grandfather’s and it was very real to see her name carved in stone.

I’m not sure that we’ll go visit every year or that it will be this hard every year.  I do know that I think of my Mom daily and that the voice in the back of my head whispering instructions, encouragement, ideas and cautions is her.  And every day when I say a bedtime prayer, or grace at dinner, I remember her and wish for her to be there with me.  And I know that she’s in my heart, she’s a part of me and everything I do.  But a small part of me still wishes I could sit with her on our back porch, eating toasted tomato sandwiches, while she’s in her wild dressing gowns and smiling.

I love and miss you Mom.  You will forever be a part of me, I a part of you.

Laughing and goofing around with Mom, and Sis

A Simple Weekend of Fun

Our Gate to Your Plate

This weekend My Guy and I worked hard, played hard and had two days of good, simple, genuine fun!  Friday night we put together a big batch of Beet Relish.  Since it was such a huge seller at Smithville’s PoultryFest, I was completely sold out and was backordered.  So off we went, making several cases to build our stock back up.  That horseradish tastes great, but it does quite a number on the eyes!

Saturday we tootled off together and drove back roads.  My Guy loves to fly model airplanes and yesterday we visited a local hobby shop, then we stopped by a local food market, Our Gate to Your Plate.  We had the most fantastic roasted pork sandwich and picked up a ton of wonderful meat.  So delicious!  We headed off for a quick dip in a friend’s pool, then home for the most fantastic summer sausage and scrambled eggs!

This morning we hustled off to church and found a packed congregation.  We squeezed in and had a great service.  Then we drove the country roads to Upper Canada Cheese in Jordan Station, ON.  I bought some awesome cheese and as luck would have it, they were serving hamburgers.  They were incredible!!

Upper Canada Cheese

My Guy and I were remarking at how simple our weekend was.  The food, the things we did, places we went, they were simple, unfettered and unplanned.  We simple did what felt right at the time, went where we wanted and had zero expectations for the day.  And when we fell into bed tired, we were also happy and smiling over one of the best days we’d had in ages.  And then yesterday we got up and did it all again.

I’m learning to take pleasure in simple things, having no expectations for how things go.  There’s a story Danielle Laporte tells in her book The Fire Starter Sessions about a time when she walked on hot coals barefoot.  Others were there doing it for a second or third time but some of them got burned.  They attributed it to not having a fresh mind.  Meaning, they had expectations and were cocky.  There’s also a quote from Shunryu Suzuki (discovered in this book as well),

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

This weekend I had no plans, no expectations and no specific desires for what it had to be.  And in the end, it was just simply fun.

How was your weekend?

What are the simple things in your life that you take pleasure in?

Oh Canada Ribfest: Waterdown

Fat Back’s ribs and awesome coleslaw – Our first taste of the night!

After a long week of working hard, hot weather and waiting for the weekend, Friday night finally arrived!  I love going to the local ribfests and this was the perfect way to kick off the Canada Day long weekend.

There’s many ribfests that go on around here, with Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Waterdown and of course, the summer-ending Burlington Ribfest.  All this weekend is Waterdown’s Oh Canada Ribfest and the main park in town (on Hamilton St. in case you’re coming in for a taste!).  With some awesome ribbers, cool vendors and awesome bands, the night was a blast!!

My Guy and I rode the rides like we were teenagers again, bumper cars, ferris wheel, scrambler and he just had to do the zipper 4 times!  I stood on the ground for the zipper rides (ugh… turns my tummy).  We were the only ones of our, ahem, older age without kids.  Didn’t matter to us though, we climbed in and out of rides giggling, laughing and having the best time!

By far our favourite: Camp31 from Paris, ON

But of course, we were there for the food too!  We decided that we would try as many ribs as we could and would order a half rack at a time so we could taste as many as possible.  In the end, we managed to try 3 different places: We tried ribs from Bone Daddy’s, Fat Backs and Camp 31.  Camp 31 is from Paris, ON and was my total favourite.  Didn’t much care for the coleslaw (Fat Backs had the best there) but with ribs and sauce like that, it was completely forgivable.

All the awards Camp31 has won for their ribs and sauce

The band, Freedom Train, does covers of music from the 60’s and 70’s mostly, and they did a great job getting the crowd rocking.  We danced up by the crazy loud speakers, smiling and thoroughly enjoying the night.

Burlington’s Ribfest is probably 4 times the size of Waterdown’s, but it was a great night and although small, it was cozy, easy to get around and the ribbers that were in Waterdown are the same as some of the ones in Burlington.  The food, drink and people were great to spend the night!

I’ve been looking forward to this long weekend for awhile now.  Canada Day is always observed on the day it happens except when it’s on a Saturday or Sunday.  This year it’s falling on a

The ferris wheel – always one of my favourites!

Sunday, which means that we’re lucky enough to get the Monday off too!  Mother Nature is cooperating and it looks like it’s going to be a sunny, hot weekend.  I have next to no plans, although I can get into a world of trouble if left to my own devices.  I think My Guy and I are going to putter around the house and maybe have a barbecue.  It’s certainly going to be a relaxing, enjoyable weekend!

What are you doing this weekend?  In the comments, share your weekend plans, whether they are big or small!

Waterdown Artisan Show Was a Success!

The Country Girl Cooks display

The Waterdown Artisan Show this past Saturday was a great success!  Thank you to everyone who came out and joined myself and all the local artisans for the day!  If you didn’t make it, hopefully you’ll be able to make the next shows I’ll be attending (see bottom of post for further details).

Since this was my first show, I had pretty low expectations as far as what I could expect from selling and customers but all in all, I sold a fair bit and got some great feedback from everyone (whether they bought or not).  I was very pleased with the whole day and experience.

And I’ve learned samples are great (ok, I already knew that), and that I need to have more than I thought.  I’ve also learned that I need to get there earlier than I thought.  I was set up in time, but the truth is, I was rushing around and it could have been done a lot better.  Each time I will get faster and better about getting my act together.

I also want to thank the organizers for all their hard work!

Future shows are:

Saturday June 16th @ 11am: http://www.olympiavillage.ca/breastcancerday2012.htm

Saturday June 23rd @ 9am: http://www.poultryfest.ca/index.php?



Birthday Celebration 2012!

Hey there, I had my birthday this past weekend (I’ll forgo the talk of your age, if we can ignore mine).  It was a low-key event with my Dad and Sister and a few friends.  The day was full of sunshine, puttering in the yard and food.

Working on the tractor in the sun!

Then we made dinner.  There was drunk chicken, pasta salad, roasted carrots and the best sangria ever (recipes at the end).  And the cheesecake that my friend brought for dessert!

My delicious birthday cake (with an amazing lilac on top!)

I was fortunate enough to get some awesome gifts.  An infinity dress which she bought off Etsy (I’ll show and link when it gets here – and I find out who makes them!), a gift card and my beloved pressure canner.  Believe me, we’ll be talking more about pressure canning because I’ve got a pile to say about it, the possibilities and what I plan to create.  Let’s just say the term ‘whole foods’ is making a regular appearance in my thoughts and nightly dreams and I spend more time at the grocery store looking at labels wondering what ‘that thing’ is in my food.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend my day with wonderful friends and family!


Drunk Chicken

Drunk chicken... a moist and tasty way to bbq chicken

  • 1 whole chicken
  • seasoned salt (I used a mesquite mix, but whatever your favourite is, will do just fine)
  • 1 can of dark beer (I used Creemore’s Kellerbier – but the possibilities are limitless)

Shake your seasoning onto the chicken and let sit for an hour or two.  Overnight is great if you think ahead, but I didn’t and it turned out great after just an hour or two.  Open the can of beer and take a gulp or two (or dump a bit out, but drinking it is a better idea) so that it doesn’t overflow until you get it in the chicken.  Insert the open beer can up the chicken’s rear.  Then set on your grill.  You can get stands at the dollar store for this, but I simply wrapped tin foil around the leg tips of the chicken and it did just fine!  Cook until done (165F internal temperature).  Usually you can tell because the juices run clear.  Moist and delicious!

Pasta Salad

  • 1 package of favourite pasta shape (macaroni, penne – your choice!)
  • cherry tomatoes (half the large ones)
  • 1/2 red onion in a large dice
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • sliced black olives
  • Italian or Greek Dressing (I used Kraft’s Greek and Feta but honestly any brand and oil based dressing will work)

Cook the pasta according to directions.  Rinse and let cool.  Toss with the onion, cherry tomatoes, feta and olives.  Add dressing to taste.  Let sit for an hour or two and you may need to add more dressing if the pasta soaked some up.  Delish and simple!

Red Wine Sangria

Modified from Henry Happened

A delicious red wine sangria - perfect for a summer day!


  • 3 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Triple Sec
  • 1.5L inexpensive red wine

Slice up 2 oranges and put into your jug (I actually used a flower vase because, well, I don’t have an actual glass jug.  It looked cool!).  Pour the sugar onto the slices and mash gently.  More like a massage of sugar and juice.  Juice up half of the third orange and cut the other half into slices for garnish.  Juice your lemon into the jug.  Pour about half a cup of Triple Sec into the jug.  Add your wine.  Taste it and add more sugar, triple sec or juice if needed.  Put in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours mellow.  You will be amazed at how delicious it is!  I swooned!  Also you can add club soda if you want!

Event: Waterdown Legion ~ May 5th


This May 5th, just a few short weeks from now, I will be at my first event of the year.  A craft sale featuring local artists and crafters will be on from 10am to 4pm.  Come out and not only support local handicrafts but also try some samples of Country Girl Cooks jellies and sauces and pick of a jar or two of your favourites!

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