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Monday, October 28, 2013

So Much Talent!

I knew when I stared blogging about talent on the East Coast on Mondays that I would have a wealth of artists to pick from, but I am quickly realizing there are so many that I don't even know about, so this is really going to be a fun adventure.

I had written about my first pick twice last year, for the Cape Breton Post, and was so happy that both my mother, and my mother-in-law went there for my Christmas gifts last year.  You can find the Cape Breton Centre of Craft and Design online at and on Facebook at  And it is actually thanks to a blog by Russell Thomas, who also lives in Fort McMurray about a place for artists to gather that it made me think of the Centre today.  They are now located on Charlotte Street in Sydney, and they have a pottery studio, a glass and jewellery studio, a weaving and art studio and a multipurpose room round out the lower level.  On the second level, a beautiful gallery showcases all the artwork.  You can even register on their gift registry if you want to direct people to some of your picks.

And yes, there is a wide variety of everything to pick from, and you might have a hard time picking just one or two things.  I have received a beautiful silk scarf and some wonderful mugs...and have my eye on a few things again.  What a wonderful treat for those living away to get something from a talented artist at home...and you will be supporting a local artist.

You can give an original Cape Breton mailbox, that I am sure your daughter living in rural Ontario will get lots of comments about, or an original painting to hang on your wall, or a necklace to hang on your neck.  There is so much talent to enjoy in Cape Breton!

And I might as well just get my second pick out of the way, and then you guys will all stop wondering when I am going to bring up Matt Minglewood.  I love him, I will always love him, and I will continue to promote him until the day I die...which will be before him, because he has to sing at my funeral.  There is no greater ambassador or no one more East Coast then Matt.  He has won East Coast Music Awards, the Maple Blues Award, 3 Gold Albums, a Doctorate from the Cape Breton University.  But most importantly, Matt has won the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast, to coast in Canada.  He has been taking the stage in every province and territory for over 40 years, and is the hardest working man in the music industry in Canada.  He has been playing fiddle, piano and guitar from the young age of eight, and when he takes a stage, he has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

I always love introducing somewhat new to Matt's music, and that was kind of hard to do when I was still living on the East Coast, but once I moved West I had a new playing field, but it is still only once in a while when I can find, usually a younger person who will get the introduction.

For anyone in Fort McMurray, who might need a new Matt Minglewood CD, please send me a message, as I do have some available out here.  Have I mentioned that I love Matt?  Yep, take a listen, and you will fall in love too....the only thing is that it is hard for me to pick just one Matt song for you to listen to, so I will pick two.  Enjoy!!!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

16 Again!

Okay, raise your hand if it feels like you just turned 16?  Okay, so maybe it has been a few years, like, 24, for me, omg, 24 years...but come on, if I close my eyes I can remember every single detail of the day.  Where the hell did 24 years go?  Or an even better question for me tonight, is where did the last 16 years go?  You see tomorrow, my baby, my first born, my Mitchell, is going to enter into another world, the driving world, and that means that I am entering another world tomorrow too, one where I get to sit up late waiting him to arrive safely home because he is old enough to drive himself every where now.

Now don't get me wrong, I am pretty much going into this world with as much resistance as I can. I prayed at nights that time would slow, and my kids would stop growing up so fast.  I watched as they grew out of their cute little work boots and overalls that I dressed them in as little boys, and their Scooby-Doo fascination seems like it never existed at all.  And even my younger son, Nathanial will be joining the "I don't need mom so much crew" tomorrow, because he of course would rather go with his cooler big brother to things now instead of having his mom schlep him every where.

If I close my eyes, I can remember the first night I got my driver's license.  It was snowing pretty good, and Dad had purchased a brand new car on the same day(I know, what was he thinking, right)?  Actually, it was mom's car, Dad always had a truck.  But I digress.  On the day I got my license, it was snowing, we had a brand new car, and in rural Cape Breton that night, there was a dance in Mabou!  If you are from rural Cape Breton, then you know, if there's a dance, then you have to go!  I begged and pleaded with mom, but she didn't think it was a good idea, the roads weren't great, and it was her new car.  Dad landed home from somewhere, and before my mother had the chance to even give him the look that said that he should say no, he had already said I could take the car and go to the dance.  I don't think I ever moved so fast in my life to get out that door before mom could get dad to see the reasoning that she put out there.  Now that I am in the same position, I am actually shaking my head, there is no way in hell Mitchell is getting my car on the very day he gets his license.  LOL...I bet my mom is turning red and saying, "It's alright that it was my car and snowing.". were right, I shouldn't have gotten the car that night.  And here's the confession!

I didn't go straight to the dance, and home.  As often happened as a teenager, it was all Tim's fault, lol.  I can't remember if I went to pick him up or if I ran into him at Bobby's store that night...but he convinced me to go to West Mabou, in the snow to pick up John(Wendell) Campbell.  Well, didn't I get the new car stuck in his driveway?  Good thing I was a good driver and we got it out, lol...I think Carmen(John's dad) or Angus(his brother), helped.  But we got out, and we made it to the dance, and eventually we made it home safely.  I guess there are a few stories of nights out with friends and things we did that our parents never knew.

Maybe that is why I am having so much anxiety about this change that is coming in our lives? Teenagers will be teenagers, and they will go looking for fun, and friends, and hopefully they will just remember to do it safely.  Or maybe I should just start drinking my way through the teenage years?  I won't have a car to go anywhere anyways....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Awesome Monday!

I am continuing my series of wonderful East Coast talent with two photographers that I have come to love.  Jack Ronalds hails from Port Hawkesbury, Cape Breton, and his photos highlight the beauty of the surrounding areas, the events that happen there, and the people that live there as well.  I fell in love with his photos many years ago, but I think now that I live so far away I appreciate his talent even more.  I love when he goes out for a day to a different area and posts his photos on his Facebook page.  Here is the link to his page so you can have a look for yourself.  His pictures are on many walls across Canada, and make wonderful gifts for loved ones who have moved away from  Cape Breton, or those who have been there and fell in love.  Here are two favourites of mine.

And Steve Rankin also hails from Cape Breton, and is actually from the same small village that I am from, Mabou.  I am not sure how long he has been into photography, but I only just discovered him about a  year ago, and he had me as a fan from the very first pictures that he posted on his Facebook page as well.  I love his play with light, and the way he can take a picture of an area that I have seen 1000 times, and make it look different.  He has a real talent, and I am so glad he now shares it with the world. Here is the link to his photography page on Facebook.  And here are two of my favourite pics that Steve has taken.

I hope if this is the first time you have seen their work that you will fall in love as much as I have. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nothing like soup when it gets cold!

I love my soup, and I love it even more when the weather turns cold.  Today I had a craving for some French Onion soup, so now my house smells rich of onions and garlic.  Here is the recipe!

In a large soup pot, heat 1Tbsp of butter, and 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Add five large onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until they start to turn brown.  Then add about 4 cloves of garlic(depending on how much garlic you like), a tsp of sugar, and a half a tsp. of dried thyme.  Continue to cook over medium heat for about a half hour.

Sprinkle 2 tbsp. over the onions and stir until blended together.  Stir in a half a cup of wine, and nine cups of beef stock, and bring to a boil.  Skim off any foam that rises and then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Toast some French bread slices(about 3 minutes on each side), and then float them in a cup and a half of soup.  Top with Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese and heat in oven until the cheese starts to bubble.

Great for a cold fall night!

Why do we care?

A few weeks ago I got an email from a friend, and I won't go into all the details, but she shared that she was concerned that people would think she was "big on herself" for something that she was doing.  Another friend was concerned that people that her house was "too perfect" and they felt uncomfortable visiting.  I often have the opposite concern, and worry that people will judge me for the clutter in my house, and the piles of papers that seem to gather on one stupid little table in my kitchen.  Over the years I have heard women not enjoy an event because they are worried about what others think of A)what she wore, B)what she brought for food, or didn't bring, C)and whether she was smart enough to carry on a conversation.

We worry about what everyone else thinks way too much.  And I know, we say that we don't care, or that it doesn't bother us, but I think we all do care...well, women anyway.  My husband seems to have the crazy ability to ever seem to notice or care what others think.  And he is proud of that, even putting this now favourite pic up on his facebook as the cover.
Some days I tell myself that I don't care what people think, and I think for the most part I live my life how I want to live my life.  But I have to admit, there are days that I worry way too much about why someone doesn't seem to like me, or I try to figure out what I might have done to upset them.  It bothers me so much, that a few times over the years I have asked people who seem to not like me why they didn't...sick right?  There is a little part of me that I keep trying to push down, and that is that I have always been one to be a people pleaser, and it at times, drives me nuts that I can't seem to keep it under control.  People that have treated me badly over and over still seem to be a part of my life....well, not all of them, but you know what I mean.  But I am way better than I use to be, and I have even taken to block people who just seem to have negative comments on my Facebook all the time.  You are laughing, but it took me a while to not care about such things.

Besides, I think if we all start to not care about what others think what will our society be like?  We would be a bunch of ego centric people who don't volunteer, donate or pay attention to what others need.  I guess there is a fine balance, and it seems like I am talking about balance a lot lately.

Ironically this rant comes from someone telling me that I think too much, and I am still trying to figure out if that is a good thing or a bad thing?  And why do I care?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


With this 30 day challenge, I have been reading way more than I have been in a long time, which is a good thing.  The only bad thing about it is that I read a really great blog post this morning from another writer that is in the challenge, and now I can't find it.  I would have liked to reference her, so you could check out her blog...and to let her know that she put a thought in my head for the whole day.

The blog was all about a letter that she wrote to the first person who ever made a comment on her blog, and how that comment and the others that came after keep her motivated.  So I went back to look at who the first person was to make a comment on my blog, and it was "Zara", someone I don't know, someone who just said, "Thanks for sharing."  But it was Zara, and everyone who reads this blog that kept me writing the last year.  Sometimes I think I am sharing too much, and sometimes I think my own stuff is just drivel.  And there are other days that I write something and it is something that will only mean something to me, and I will get a wonderful email from someone who related and reached out...and that is the part of writing that I love the best, when people can relate.

I had to look a little further, and who was the second person who commented on my blog?  It was Kevin Thornton, a writer in Fort McMurray, and I was absolutely tickled pink that Kevin had maybe read my blog, and then took the time to also make a comment.  You see, Kevin is by far one of the best writers that I have ever read, but I have also gotten to meet him, and he is exactly the kind of writer that I wish I could be...witty, extremely intelligent, and he has a sense of humour that trickles into his comments, his writing and his Facebook posts.  Since then I have received emails from people that I would never, ever would have imagined would read my words, but there is still something about those firsts....something about getting support from people you admire, and I have had so much support from friends both old and new that I carry in my heart, and that keeps me writing.

So thanks to everyone who has ever made a comment on my blog, shared it, read it and your support means more than you will ever know.  And Tim, don't worry, the first book will be dedicated to you!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Awesome Mondays!

I have been reading so many new blogs and wonderful talent the last few weeks, and many have inspired me to do more with the space that I take with this blog.  So for the last few weeks I was trying to think of a theme for a day that I could add and it could be a regular feature.  I have come up with Awesome Mondays, and on these days I wan to shine a light on the extreme talent that exists on the East Coast of Canada.  Growing up there I now know that we took it for granted.  It really wasn't until I moved away that I realized that the rest of the population was not necessarily completely immersed in wonderful culture and talent.  I knew singers, painters, dancers, photographers, and writers growing up and through my later years, and I want to share that blessing with everyone that comes to read this blog on Mondays.  Some weeks I may feature music, other weeks I might focus on a new painter, or a new book.  I can't wait to make some new discoveries as I go searching for what I can share with everyone.

I want to surprise everyone with my picks, but some weeks you will know the artists, but other weeks you might be thinking you never heard of them before.  The thing I won't do is kill you with details, I will just post something and let you make your own decisions.

My first pick is someone that I fell in love with just before I moved out to Fort McMurray, and I still haven't seen him live.  His name is Nathan Wiley and hails from Summerside, Prince Edward Island.  He is an amazingly gifted singer, but it is song writing that I am most impressed with, as it seems to touch varying generations.

Okay, and so the next pick is close to my heart since they hail from hometown.  And yes, I know that everyone from Canada has heard and fell in love with the Rankin Family, but I wanted to share them again, and I hope that some others that are now reading this blog will discover them and fall in love too for the first time.

Be careful with your words.

Many years ago I took a course about being more sensitive to different cultures, religions and races.  At the time I was pretty young, and I thought my open mindedness and love for things and people that were different was going to carry over to everyone around me and we were all going to make the world a better place.  I really haven't given up on that ideology, I believe that we can all make a difference in our world, but I have lost some of my naive outlook on life, and realized that I cannot make everyone see other sides of the stories.

During that course the instructor put one thought in my head that I would like to pass on to you today, and I hope that at least one other person will have a little change on their perspective today.  And it is simple....WORDS ARE POWERFUL, AND SO IS THE LACK OF WORDS.   In that course when talking about race, the instructor said to think about the word black and we had to make some lists of things that you thought of when you heard the word, black.  The list contained things like blacklist, blackball, black sheep, black panthers, etc.  And the majority of things listed had some type of negative connotation.  At the time different groups were asking that the term African American or African Canadian should be used, instead of referring to people as being black.  And I have to admit, until I heard and thought about why the change should be made, I didn't think it made that much of a difference.  But if someone is telling you that they find something offensive, or oppressive, what is the harm in using different words?

Last year I learned another new change.  Instead of saying there was a drunk driving accident, we should be saying there was a drunk driving incident, because guess what?  It wasn't an accident, because it was preventable.  See how our language can change our perspective?

Yes, I know, many will argue that we have become a society that is becoming too politically correct.  But if being aware of our words so they don't harm people makes life a bit better...than why not?  And sometimes, people just not saying anything can be just as harmful, such as with bullying, or when someone is sick or dying.  So many people have said to me over the years that, "I don't know what to say," so they just say nothing.  But most often, the person who is sick or dying takes it as a sign that the person just does not care.  Say something!  Say anything!  I met a man this past weekend who's son died 30 years ago, and he still carries the pain of how his friends and family avoided him, just because he was in so much pain.  In that situation, he said if they had just sat in the same room and said anything, it would have been better then being avoided.

The new idea that was put into my head this past weekend was around the words we use with suicide.  In the papers, and among friends, many will say, "he/she committed suicide".  And while that is the term that has been the normal term for as long as I can is time to change it.  People who are committed, are usually having mental issues, people who commit crimes, are well, criminals.  So let's take committed suicide and make it, "he/she died of or from suicide."  No one wants to be committed to acting on suicide.  And when they do die by suicide, their families do not want to think of them as a "bad person", because it just is so often not the case.  Suicide, in 2010 took more lives in Alberta than motor vehicle accidents.  Think about that....we see the accidents in the paper and talk about them all the time as tragic deaths.  But how often do we talk and hear about tragic suicides?  Not enough in my opinion any more.  People who are thinking about dying by suicide need us to talk, and when they do die by suicide, their families will then need us to talk as well.  I hope this will start some of those conversations.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Question of the Day!

About a year ago, I started doing a "Question of the Day" on my Facebook page, and it was interesting, but there was not a lot of feedback on it, but when there way, I always enjoyed it.  But eventually I just kind of let it die off, and I didn't continue the daily habit.  And then a few weeks ago I thought of it again, and wondered if I could make it work better, and try again.  So I did, and it is often the highlight of my day.

What made it different this time around?  Well, honestly, I put some more effort into the questions, and once people started sharing on my wall, they all kind of started to get to know each other.  And once I was getting more feedback, the more fun it became, and everyone sees it just as I wanted a place to just share.  There has never been a judgement comment, or a negative swipe, and that is why it is my little slice of happiness every day.  I can go to read the posts, and it is just honest, open sharing, and that is why I hope to continue it now for many months to come.

In the last few weeks, I have found out things I didn't know about my friends, and neighbours.  I found out their favourite songs to crank in the car, their best and worst Christmas memories, the best meals they have ever had, the weird concoctions they eat at home, and even what they wanted to be when they were growing up.

The best part has been getting answers from people that I don't expect, and one aunt that has told me some things about herself and our family that I had never known.  And there are days when some of them catch me totally off guard and made me snort laugh, and other days when I sat crying at the beautiful stories that they share so openly.

If you want to get to know people better on your Facebook, think of an interesting or fun question and go ahead and ask!  You never know who will answer, or what the answer will be.  It is my little slice of happiness during the day, and I hope that others will enjoy either joining me in doing it, or create another way to share on a different level.  Maybe it will become a source of happiness for you as well.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why I have a bucket list

Many moons ago, I had a teacher named Carole Chisholm, and I am sure I am starting to annoy her I have written about her on so many different occasions.  I have been thinking about her a lot the last few days as I take on this 30 day blogging challenge.  I had her for high school English, and I think it was in grade 10, she started us all journaling.  She would give us one line, or a quote, or a question, and we could write anything we wanted.  With those journals she fuelled my desire to write.  And I still remember my favourites, and I even kept some of the old scribblers from 25 years ago.  On way day she gave us the task of creating our bucket list.  At 15, I remember that we had to ask what a bucket list was, and why would someone want to make one?  I can't remember her exact reply, but it was something like, "Everyone should have desires, dreams and hopes.  It is what makes life interesting."

And so that night I sat down and created a bucket list.  Now remember, I grew up in rural Nova Scotia, and I had not experienced too much of the world except for in the books that I loved so much.  So I had things like, "I want to watch fireworks with someone who loves me." and "I want to go to the Calgary Stampede someday".  I think I came up with about 24 things.  And then I turned 19, and had a bone marrow transplant, and my bucket list changed.  I sat down one night a few months after the chemo had taken my hair and came up with a new list.  I wanted to go to Graceland, get married, and live to see 30.  That was my goal.  I recently came across that list, and you know what?  With the help of Tim Murphy, who found my list in my bible shortly after we started dating, I crossed almost everything off that list, except, ironically, getting to the Calgary Stampede.

He married me when I thought I was going to die before I would ever experience such a thing.  He took me to Graceland, he watched fireworks with me in DisneyWorld, we had children together that were miracles, and adopted the most beautiful little girl you have ever seen.  I would say he added things that I did not even know were on my list, such as romantic dinners, date nights with the mattress on the floor when we were so broke we couldn't afford anything else, new puppies when he would rather not have puppies, taking me to warm climates when I thought I would hate it and had the exact opposite reaction, and telling he loves me every day.

So I realized the other day, that it is time for me to create a new bucket list.  I turned 40 this year, and like Ms. Chisholm said all those years ago, I want to keep life interesting.  So I no longer what to get married, have children(well, maybe one or two more), and material things have never been something that had great appeal to me(especially since the transplant...something about almost dying that makes you realize you don't need a lot of "stuff).  So what should be on my bucket list?  I would say number one would definitely be more travel with the kids and Tim before they grow up and start doing their own trips.  I love travelling with them, it is so much fun seeing their reactions to new experiences, food and makes it all the more fun.  And there are some trips that I want to take with Tim to experience the country with him...Thailand, South Africa, and we still have to get to Vegas.

I would like to own property on a remote island off Cape Breton.  This has been a dream of mine since I can remember, probably from the first time I went to Port Hood Island when I was in Guides.  When I realized that Tim loved the idea as well, it felt like it was something that we would accomplish eventually.  We sometimes day dream about having a restaurant there, with our own gardens, and chickens....and Tim wants some pygmy goats(go figure).

My bucket list would include having more time to volunteer more in my community.  For seven years in Cape Breton I volunteered with the palliative care program there, and I still miss it.  The patients and families that I got to know often became like family, and it was one thing, like fostering that seemed like a part of me.

Those are the big things.  But I have many silly, fun and crazy things that I would still love to do in my life.  One time we were walking around Quidi Vidi in St. John's, Newfoundland, and we came across a small cottage that was open to the public.  It had old books and maps and historical items related to the little community.  We started talking to the old lady who lived there, and found out that she was closing shop that week, to take a long awaited trip to Africa.  She was 84 at the time, and I will never, ever forget her advice to us on that warm summer day in August.  She said that if you stop dreaming and stop moving, life will stop too, and where would the fun be in that?  We had gotten engaged the night before and she told us to love each other with passion, and to live each day to the fullest.  I often wondered how she enjoyed her trip.

I want to drive a convertible on a deserted desert highway, one that can go fast. I want to take a hot air balloon ride.  I want to see Elton John in concert.  I want to take thai cooking lessons, and write a frigging book once and for all!  There are many other things that sitting here tonight I realize I want to do in life....I guess I better get busy on that new bucket list!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Can I do it in 500 words or less? Of course not!

So today I am starting a 30 day blogging challenge, and since there will be many people checking out my blog for the first time I thought it would be fun to try to introduce myself to those newcomers, but maybe tell some of the regular readers something about me that they might not have known already(although I am already having a hard time trying to think of something I might not have shared before).

I was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the western coast of the small island off the east coast of Canada.   I grew up the beautiful Mabou Harbour, and below is the church in the small village where I lived until I was 18 years old.

My husband, Tim and I got married at the young age of 22, and had our first son, Mitchell when I was 24.  And then we had Nathanial at 26.  Shayleen joined the mix much later when we adopted her when we were 35.  Here we are on our wedding day, 18 years ago.

I loved writing from an early age, and I was one of those kids that always had “her nose stuck in a book”.  But even though teachers encouraged me, I never believed I was much of a writer, and still don’t many days.  But it was after I had Nathanial and I hadn’t written a word besides those that I scribbled in my journals that I had the urge or desire to pick up the pen and start telling stories again.  The way I approached it was that I started telling other people’s stories, and gave my opinion in a column in a small paper in Nova Scotia called The Reporter.  I am still grateful for the editor there who, even though I did not have a writing degree, or any experience, hired me to write for his paper.

And then six years ago, we moved to Fort McMurray, and I continued to tell other’s stories, as I worked as a full time reporter for the daily newspaper here.  Again, an editor named Mike, who has since passed away took me under his wing, and I fell in love even more with the written word.  And now I am also lucky enough to have been with the Cape Breton Post now for just about six years as well….telling the stories of my family and everything related to Fort McMurray for a paper on the East Coast, while living in the Northern community so far out west.  Here is my gang last Christmas.

About a year ago, I decided to start blogging a bit more, to explore another avenue of writing that I have come to love very much.  My blog is my personal canvas, and I have shared many of my stories here about my bone marrow transplant, the accident of my husband’s when he was hit by a drunk driver, and how we came to adopt our little girl.  During this month I would like to continue a series of blogs about how I am getting my house organized, and my supper blogs.  My supper blogs are blogs about people that I randomly have over to supper, as long as they agree to tell their story, whatever it may be.

So I hope you will return, I think we will have fun, as the Murphy household always seems to have something go on….and of course, I am over my 500 words.