Posts from — July 2015

Tasting Notes: A Tour of Nanaimo 0

July 29, 2015

You know when you discover something new about a person you’ve known a long time, something that radically changes the way you view them? Secret talents, long-forgotten epic travels, famous grandparents—something that inspires a perspective shift so that you’re suddenly looking again, looking closer at this familiar old friend, who suddenly seems just a little bit…exotic. Nuanced. Evocatively complex. Definitely more interesting.

So, I don’t have a friend like this. (Do you? Because if so—awesome. Love it when that happens.)

What I have is a town like this. A town I’ve lived in for more than five years, that I thought I’d pretty much figured out. And now it goes and shows me stuff I didn’t even know it had. I was recently offered the chance to participate in a food tour organized by Vancouver Island Expeditions—a tour of local food and beverage creators that, as I’ve said, were not on my mental map of This Is Nanaimo.



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In: Food, From Ria, Markets & Food Stores

Story of a tiny house : And then… 7

July 22, 2015

photo 1


A warm welcome back to our three-part series about “Tiny” – the twenty square metres house being built by my sister, Kendall, her husband, Steve, and contributed to by their own tiny one, Elvie (22 months). We first checked in on Kendall and Steve at the end of January, this year. Back then, they were just starting out on their journey, with a trailer bed and some plywood on a bit of land, living in a tent and anticipating all the challenges and rewards to come. The days were sunny and long, the project, in stages yet to be known, lying ahead in much the same fashion. It was the beginning of the story.


Now, in July, and deep in the southern hemisphere winter, Kendall and Steve are well into their tiny house journey. Tiny has walls! And a roof! As you can see from the photos Tiny is really taking shape and it’s much easier now to imagine the end result. For them and all of us curious onlookers it’s a thrill to see Tiny becoming real and tangible, an idea that became a thing, a dream coming to life. Even if the fact that they built it with their very own four hands still rattles my mind…


Sharing the details of Kendall and Steve’s sea-change and fledgling adventure here on Fork and Fiction was something new for both of them and there was some trepidation about how it might be received. I was nervous too, wanting to make sure I did their (very personal) story justice. Hoping I wouldn’t totally stuff it up and make for awkward family dinners for months to come! Thankfully, the kindness and support has been unequivocal, as Kendall and Steve explain below:


What was it like telling your story on the first Tiny House post and how did people react?

S: Surprising! The power of social media… I honestly didn’t consider that many people would be interested in what we are doing. I saw this as a personal thing for me and my little family and that a few mates and immediate family might be interested but not what we received after last time. it was quite uplifting.
K: The response was very motivating. Everybody was positive and interested. We are not always the most communicative people (understatement) so it was great to let everyone know what we were doing in one fell swoop.


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In: From Hannah, Interviews, Kids and Parenting

Up There 0

July 16, 2015

I wasn’t one of those children who wanted to be an astronaut, though not because of the height or zero-gravity or rocket ships (those things were all awesome!). I was just the child with her nose stuck in a book; going into space (and all the training required to do so) would have made an inexcusable dent in crucial reading time. As an adult, I don’t regret my disinterest in space travel as a career, but I do have a fascination with what being in space does to a person’s perspective on, well, everything. There have of course been movies of late that deal with some of this stuff and they can be worth a look and a think. But since I won’t be paying for my own space travel any time soon (unless…billion dollar book deal??), I have to rely on the next best thing, which is to say, regular old flight. Solidly within the troposphere.



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In: From Ria, Writing

Five Sure Ways to Make Winter Better 8

July 8, 2015

You know winter and I don’t exactly… love one another (body of evidence one and two). I’d quite comfortably make like a bear all season and simply eat, grizzle and snooze. The idea of heading somewhere even colder hardly seemed like a solution. But Matt finally convinced me I might be wrong (no easy task) and we dutifully layered ourselves up in merino underwear, puffy mittens and headgear with ear flaps. The result of which had me wondering how I dared question whether New Zealand could deliver something to lift the spirits?

So, following our recent trip to the Queenstown Lakes District, here are my Five Sure Ways to Make Winter Better:


1. Mountains




This part of New Zealand never fails to encourage overuse of the word – “Awesome”. The landscape in and around Queenstown and Wanaka (which B2 calls “Monica”) is so striking I found myself thinking in exclamation marks.


2. A great book.



Patricia Grace‘s first novel in ten years, Chappy, didn’t disappoint. The story of a grandson trying to make sense of the fragmented memories of his grandfather, in part to create an identity and direction for himself, was beautiful, honest and gentle, in that way that Grace’s writing always is. The narrative went off into various little eddies and swirls, but kept me spellbound the entire book. The kind of book you finish and start all over again. Immediately.

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In: From Hannah, Includes a recipe!, Seasonal

Anatomy of a Birthday Cake III 3

July 2, 2015



I realised something last week. Now that the Tiger is here (and has turned one–yikes), I have the delight/stress of making birthday cakes twice a year. And unlike Hannah’s girls, who have birthdays in the same week (two years apart), my two are almost exactly on opposite sides of the year, giving me ample time to plan and research the absolute best birthday cake for whatever age whichever child is turning. Plus, one is an autumn birthday and the other a summer birthday (the very same as me and my sister; I will be commiserating with Little e if she grows to be jealous of her brother’s warm weather birthday possibilities), so I have the chance to make seasonal cakes if I so choose. Ahem. If the kids so choose.

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In: Food, From Ria, Includes a recipe!, Kids and Parenting, Seasonal