Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kempenfest, A Special Find, And A Yummy Recipe!

Last weekend, Nuno, the girls, and I attended Kempenfest, the annual arts and crafts show located on the edge of Barrie's waterfront.  The festival, now in its 42nd year, is one of the largest arts and crafts shows in all of Canada!  We have visited every summer since our move to Barrie. 

There were over 350 artisans selling arts, crafts, antiques and one-of-a-kind items!  The festival also included a midway, food vendors, and a live music stage with ample space for dancing.  We took a break to watch couples dance to music from the fifties and sixties.  It was so much fun watching them; even I found my feet tapping! 

I enjoyed walking through the almost never ending maze of vendors and seeing the myriad of handmade, unique items available for sale.  It was great to see so many talented individuals all gathered together in one place.

I took some photos to share with you...

This is one of many antique exhibits at the festival.  Can you see the waters of Kempenfelt Bay, just behind the tent?

We arrived early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the sweltering heat of the afternoon sun.
By lunch hour, you could hardly squeeze by this path!

Here are more exhibits down another path along the water.  I saw lots of happy people carrying their new found treasures! 

Look how crowded it is now!

This is a photo of my girls and I posing for a picture by the rows of pink petunias.  I brought along a bag to carry around my purchases.  Can you guess what I have inside?

I'll give you ten guesses, but I still don't think you'll guess.  Hmm...maybe if I give you a couple of clues.  It's brown and breakable. It's used for baking cookies, a special type of cookie.  Do you know now?


It's a vintage shortbread cookie mold!

When I saw it at the festival, it said "BUY ME" all over it.  I found it at a booth where the vendor was selling antique and vintage items.  Isn't it precious? 

Now, I know it isn't Christmas, and shortbread is usually reserved for holiday indulgence, BUT... 

...I just had to try it out!  I mean, wouldn't you?

I went online and looked for a recipe for Scottish Shortbread.  I went on to learn that traditional Scottish shortbread is made with only three ingredients:

butter, sugar, and flour

Traditionally, it is made with 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour. 

I used the recipe from this website:

The only change I made, was to eliminate the vanilla.  I wanted to taste the full flavor of the butter without the influence of vanilla.  I also added a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor of the unsalted butter I used.  I must say, it was the most delicious shortbread I have ever tasted!

Needless to say, the shortbread did not last very long.  Nine cookies divided by four shortbread-loving persons, equals less than twenty-four hours before they were all gobbled up. 

You can use this same recipe to make your own shortbread.  You don't need a shortbread mold.  Instead of spreading the shortbread in a pan, roll the dough into a log, freeze it until firm and then slice with a sharp knife into equal rounds.  Place on a cookie sheet, bake and enjoy! 

Thank you for stopping in.  I love sharing my world with you! 
Have a wonderful, happy Sunday! xoxo

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My thoughts on Eat, Pray, Love

A couple of months ago, back in May or June, I was garage sale hunting (a common pastime at our house) and came across this book written by Elizabeth Gilbert...

Eat Pray Love was first published in 2006 and has since become a New York Times Bestseller.  I had heard mixed reviews about the book, but never had the opportuniy to read it.  I also know the book turned into a movie back in 2010; starring Julia Roberts.  I hadn't watched the movie either, so I decided to pick up the book for a mere 25 or 50 cents. 

After reading the blurb on the back, the memoir sparked my interest.  Who wouldn't want to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia to experience the language, culture, and food?  It sounded like my kind of book. 

The book is a memoir about a woman in her thirties who seems to have everything (a great husband, wonderful career, beautiful home, etc.) but still doesn't feel fulfilled.  The thought of staying married and having children scares her.  She isn't ready.  She doesn't know if she'll ever be.  After all, she'd rather be travelling.  After a divorce and amidst deep depression, she decides to leave everything behind, sell her belongings and travel for one year to Italy, India, and Indonesia.  There, she battles through her depression and tries to find "God" and herself, really. 
I had the book tucked in my night table drawer until a couple of weeks ago, when I finally began to read the first few pages.  The book is divided into three separate books.  Book One is about Elizabeth's travel to Italy.  Book Two is about her journey in India.  And Book Three takes place in Bali, Indonesia. 

I think my favorite book was the first one - Italy.  I was transported to Rome and learned a lot of things about Italy, its regions, history, monuments, churches, and the food.  Oh, the food...the Neapolitan pizza, the gelato, the Bolognese cuisine!  Being that I would love to see Italy one day, the first book gave me a good look inside Rome and a better understanding of what to expect one day when I do visit. 

Book Two takes place in India, where Elizabeth resides in an Ashram for four months.  There she practices yoga, meditation, and spiritual/physical exercises, as a means of getting "closer" to God.  Although I did learn a lot about yoga, ashrams, meditation and spirituality, I did find this second book a bit slow and repetitive.  Half-way through, I found it difficult to keep reading.  It felt very slow and it dragged on for me.  I kept reading and eventually, Elizabeth does seem to find God, through deep meditation, after much practice and devotion. 

Book Three was very interesting.  I learned so much about the people from Bali; so many things I would otherwise never have known.  I really enjoyed the new characters introduced in this section.  It was nice to see Elizabeth become another person, filled with joy and gratitude. 

Many readers of this book feel upset when they find out the author admits (chapter 10) that her publisher purchased this book, in advance, without even reading it.  In other words, maybe this entire "spiritual" journey was not so spritual after all?  Was it just a ploy to make money and another book deal?  I don't know.  I don't really care.  I still think the book is a great read.  I feel the author is very honest throughout the book, sometimes uncomfortably honest.  I learned a lot from her and her travels. 

So, do I recommend the book?  Definitely!  I learned that Elizabeth and I have one thing in common - love of travel.  But, our common interest means different things to us.  Unlike Elizabeth, my first love is my husband, my children, my family, my home.  At the time Elizabeth wrote this book, travel and the love of travel was at the top of her list.  I'm not so sure it still is today. 

I wanted to share an excerpt from the book with you (pg.260).  It is one of my favourites.  This is Elizabeth explaining her Guru's teachings...

"I keep remembering one of my Guru's teachings about happiness.  She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough.  But that's not how happiness works.  Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.  You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.  And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a might effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.  If you don't, you will leak away your innate contentment.  It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your sould hold tight to its good attainments."
After reading this book, it made me realize that many people can't seem to find happiness within themselves.  They feel the need to look externally, travel great distances, etc., etc.  I'm not sure if these travels helped Elizabeth find her happiness.  I think she believes it to be so.  I am not so sure.  If indeed they did, then I am glad for it.  I think time, love and gratitude are healers of many things.

I believe our potential for happiness is always within, and close at hand.  I don't feel we need to roam much further than our backyards to find it.  That's just me, though. I find joy in the simplest of things...

like my roses...the scent of them alone brings a smile to my face!