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How to spot and prevent a phone, mail or email scam
A recipe for fresh cod you have to try
A 20-year love story than began with a letter
How to bring fairy magic to your backyard
Donât be a target - be informed! Scammers use the telephone, email, text messages and old-fashioned letters to manipulate victims to part with their money in an endless parade of schemes. Recognize the common RED FLAGS of many scams:1) An unexpected call from someone claiming to be a government officialGovernment agencies do not make surprise phone calls. Just HANG UP. If they call back - hang up again. Donât believe the number on your caller ID is for real. Independently verify the identity of any âofficialâ calling you on the phone. 2) Someone is asking you to pay fines or fees, or send money using a money order or prepaid gift cardLegitimate organizations will never ask you to pay anything with a gift card or money order. No government agency will ever ask you to pay a fee or fine with a prepaid credit or gift card. 3) A surprise phone call from a grandchild who has been jailed, hospitalized or kidnapped:You will hear from a person that may sound like your grandchild - it isnât. Hang up. Call your grandchild or family member yourself to see if they are okay. 4) You have won a prize, a fortune, or find yourself in a deal that is too good to be trueIf something seems too good to be true, itâs usually a scam. Call a friend, relative or law enforcement to discuss your good fortune before doing anything. 5) A sudden, threatening situation, scaring you into sending large sums of money quickly to keep you or a loved one from being harmedâMany scammers will use threats of violence to get you to send money. Victims are told not to call police or tell anyone about the situation. If you receive a phone call with any kind of threat, call the police immediately. 6) A new romantic relationship started on an internet dating serviceOlder adults visiting internet dating sites are especially vulnerable to scammers. Warning signs of a signal romance scams include:â¢ a desire to communicate through text messagingâ¢ efforts to quickly establish trustâ¢ your new romantic partner suddenly needs to travel far awayâ¢ a series of odd accidents, arrests, business troubles, all requiring you to lend or send your money by wire transferMORE MONEY IS LOST IN ROMANCE SCAMS THAN ANY OTHER TYPE OF FRAUD. If you suspect you may be involved in a romance scam, talk it over with a friend or family member. Be Scam AwareFollow these simple rules:1. Never give any personal information, bank account information or government pension information over the phone or internet unless you initiated the contact and/or you are sure the website is secure. 2. Be careful what you download. Donât consent to prompts. Check your security settings, use anti-spyware and install a firewall.3. Prizes/sweepstakes/lotteries donât require taxes or fees upfront. Do not purchase items to win, or pay money to win money. Any enclosed cheque with an offer is most likely fake.4. Never send money through Western Union, MoneyGram, cash or a prepaid card without confirming with whom you are speaking. Never send money using a prepaid credit card or gift card.5. Donât allow strangers into your home who are offering reduced fees for utilities, security systems or home repairs, and donât show them your bills (thatâs how they get your personal information).6. Give to charities known to you, and keep your donations local. Donât be bullied into making quick decisions. Call the charity to ask how much of your money will go to recipients or visit www.charitywatch.org.7. Avoid making emotional buying or investment decisions. Resist immediate decisions, and donât be bullied. When in doubt - HANG UP.8. Never order medical supplies through the mail, automated calls or over the internet. Speak with your doctor.9. Report scams to the RCMP at 1-888-495-8501, or call your local law enforcement agency.By Dave Long, a scam prevention outreach worker at Lifespan, a nonprofit organization that provides provides information, guidance and services for older adults and caregivers (www.lifespanrochester.org). He retired from US Customs and Border Protection in 2018, where he served in public affairs. Dave and his wife Pat live in Fairport, NY, and are frequent visitors to NL.
Whenever we get that first sunny, barely double-digit temperature day of summer, the urge to fire up the barbecue seems almost primordialâ¦ weâve just gotta grill something. The first nice day in early June, I was too late getting to the market for steak. Clearly everyone else felt the pull of the flames, too, and the meat department in June looked like the toilet paper aisle in March. Our hearts were set on grilling, and remembering I had uncovered a few cedar grilling planks in the pantry, I thought about the classic of cedar-planked salmon. Finding no salmon, trout, char or halibut, it seemed we would have to settle for sausages (which are still delicious, of course, especially with my homemade sauerkraut), but then I spotted some really nice-looking cod. We always tend to think of a browned crust of some kind with cod, donât we? And honestly, I had never thought of the combination of cod and cedar before now. My mouth began to water as I thought about the balance a bit of spice, acid and creaminess might bring to the smoke and resiny aromas of the wood. Memories of a creole sauce on top of blackened tuna I had eaten in New Orleans decades ago inspired me to grab some cream, shrimp and tomatoes, too, before heading to the checkout.It turned out to be the most delicious cod I have ever eaten. Truly. It was juicy and succulent, beautifully perfumed by the cedar and kissed by the smoke from the charred underside of the plank. The creole sauce is rosÃ© - so it has both tomatoes and cream, is nicely spicy and the shrimp (and stock from the shells) adds both decadence and complexity. My partner, Christopher, did the grilling (like a kid with a new bike, giddy with the first grill of the season, and especially so because we had just replaced the old rusted BBQ), while I made the sauce (happy, truth be told, to be indoors because while it was sunny outside, it was still pretty chilly).The wood must be untreated, so buy the planks from the BBQ section of your supermarket or hardware store - theyâre prepped for grilling. You will need to soak the planks in water for at least an hour (up to three is even better), so they donât catch fire completely on the grill. Place them in an appropriate sized pan, weighted down so they are completely submerged in the water. The planks will char on the grill, though - and thatâs the flavour youâre after.We have made this dish several times now. We even served it al fresco, on one of those rare, balmy Newfoundland summer evenings, to some of our bubble people. Our friend Loyola, from a fishing family and a true seafood afficionado, pronounced it the best cod he ever had. High praise, indeed. Grab yourself some cedar grilling planks and see if you donât think so, too. Cedar Plank BBQ Cod with Shrimp Creole Sauceserves 42 lbs cod filletsPresoaked cedar grilling planks - enough to accommodate the cod in a single layer2-3 tsp olive or vegetable oil4 bay leaves4 sprigs fresh thyme (we use home-grown lemon thyme)1 lemon - cut four thin slices to top the fish, throw the stem ends in the stock pot, reserve the other half to squeeze into the sauceSalt and pepper to tasteFor the sauce/stock:1 lb shrimp, 31-40 size, shell onFor the stock:1 tbsp veg oilShrimp shellsSkin and stem ends from the onion youâll use in the sauceSkins and stem ends from the garlic youâll use in the sauce2 bay leaves2 sprigs fresh thyme1 tsp fennel seeds1/2 tsp chili flakes1/2 tsp whole peppercorns2 tbsp white wine or dry vermouth1 cup waterFor the sauce: 1 tbsp oil3 tbsp butter1 small onion, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)1/2 stalk celery, finely diced1/2 a small green pepper, finely diced2 cloves garlic, minced2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dry)1 tsp paprika1/2 tsp cayenne pepper1 tbsp tomato paste2 tbsp flour1/3 cup white wineStrained stock1 cup diced tinned tomatoes with juice1/3 to 1/2 cup 35% creamSalt and pepper to tasteHot sauce to tasteChopped fresh parsley to taste Pat planks dry just before using and preheat the BBQ. Prep the fish: check for bones and cut into 4 portions. Drizzle both sides with a touch of olive or vegetable oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the fillets on the cedar, tuck a bay leaf under each and top each with a sprig of thyme and slice of lemon. Set aside while you make the sauce. The fish takes 10-15 minutes, so you can put it on the grill after youâve made the stock for the sauce. Or you can make the sauce first and then cook the fish; just slide the raw shrimp into the warmed sauce a minute or two before serving and give them a stir to cook through.Make the stock: Peel the shrimp and set them aside. Remove the skin and stem ends from the garlic and onion. In a small pot, over high heat, heat the oil and add the garlic and onion skins, lemon stem ends, shrimp shells, thyme, bay, fennel seed, chili flakes and peppercorns. Stir a couple minutes with a wooden spoon and bash down the shrimp shells. You will smell gorgeous aromas. Add the wine and let it bubble for a moment, then add the water. Stir and reduce heat to let simmer while you prepare the shrimp and vegetables for the sauce. (Note: If you only have shell-off shrimp, you can skip the stock making and add 1/2 cup water to the sauce instead.)Make the sauce: Chop the onion, celery and green pepper into small dice, and mince the garlic. Slice the peeled shrimp lengthwise and set aside (if shrimp are quite large, you might want to cut them again laterally so they disperse in the sauce). In a large non-stick frying pan, heat oil and butter over med-high heat. Add vegetables and sautÃ© until they start to soften. Add the garlic, herbs and spices; sautÃ© a minute or two more. Add tomato paste and stir a minute. Add flour and stir 2-3 minutes until vegetables are coated with flour. (Add more oil or butter if you need to during this process.) Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and stir to burn off the alcohol, scraping up whatever is stuck to the pan bottom. Add tomatoes and strain the stock through a fine sieve into the frypan. Stir to help the flour-coated vegetables incorporate and the sauce will begin to thicken. Let simmer a few minutes more if very watery. Add cream and let reduce a few minutes. Add lemon juice to taste. Check seasoning and add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. If too acidic, you can add a pinch of sugar. Add shrimp and heat through just before serving. (This recipe makes plenty of creole sauce and you can freeze any extra. It freezes beautifully and is delicious on nearly everything - steak, chicken, pork, other seafood, pasta, or even grilled bread as an appetizer.)To cook cod, place prepped planks on the BBQ over med-high heat. Close the lid. It will take about 12 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of your cod. Test it by pressing with your finger to see if it flakes. Serve immediately with a couple of spoonfuls of the creole sauce. Top with a little freshly chopped parsley if you like.We served it with grilled corn and a grilled veggie medley, both simply seasoned. Rice or potatoes would be good, too.- By Andrea Maunder, the creative force behind Saucy & Sweet - Homemade Specialty Foods and Catering. She is also Downhome's long-running Everyday Gourmet columnist.
They started as pen pals, connected through a magazine, and found lasting love. By Ashley Miller âWe love telling our story,â begins Lisa Cakes over the phone from her home in Noggin Cove, NL. âIâm getting emotional just thinking back on it.âWith this year marking two decades since Lisa met her husband, Jeremy, theyâre reminiscing about the start of their sweet love story, set in motion by Downhome. Then in their early 20s, both Jeremy and Lisa had made letter writing somewhat of a hobby, corresponding with strangers near and far - but they had no idea that they were about to make an extra-special connection. In April 2000, Lisa responded to Jeremyâs request for a pen pal, which appeared in âNew Friends Across the Milesâ (a once regular running section of this magazine, then called Downhomer). âEvery time Iâd get a letter from him Iâd be so excited,â beams Lisa. Her experience receiving and replying to Jeremyâs letters was a little different than you might imagine, however. âLisa is totally blind,â says Jeremy, a fact she revealed to him in her very first letter. Lisa recalls hanging on every word as a loved one read each of Jeremyâs letters aloud to her. Sheâd then type her replies, print them and have someone help with mailing. Through their letters, they quickly discovered they had much in common - from their passion for animals to a love of reading and everything in between. She loved his sense of humour and caring nature; he loved her upbeat personality and perpetual positivity.âWe bonded right away, just through the mail,â says Jeremy, who was living in his hometown of Kingâs Point at that time, a three-hour drive from Lisaâs Noggin Cove home. Eventually, the pen pals connected by phone.âWe used to talk for hours. Iâd say we drove his mother off of her head,â laughs Lisa. âI was just comfortable talking to him from the beginning.âFive months after her first letter to Jeremy was postmarked, they arranged to meet in person. Lisaâs parents accompanied her to Gander, only an hour away, where Jeremy had begun attending the College of the North Atlantic. They met in September 2000, just outside the Country Kitchen restaurant.âAs soon as I saw her, the first thing that came in my mind was how beautiful she was,â says Jeremy. Lisa recalls being struck by Jeremyâs voice, so sweet sounding, during that first meeting. A few days later, during a stroll around Cobbâs Pond Park, they shared their first kiss.âWhen he told me that I was the first person he had met that was blind, I was surprisedâ¦ itâs almost like he knew exactly what to do, how to guide me,â says Lisa. âHe actually said to me, âWhich do you prefer: The elbow or the hand?â He wanted to know how I wanted to be guided, if I wanted to hold his hand or his arm.âWhile some of his loved ones initially expressed concerns about Jeremy dating someone with a visual impairment, for Jeremy, itâs just another aspect of the woman he loves more and more each day. âEven though sheâd been dealing with this disability - for lack of a better term, even though we really donât like using that word - her whole life she was very optimistic, very outgoing; a very positive, uplifting person,â says Jeremy, who credits his wife with helping him, once a shy introvert, come out of his shell.Less than a year after they became pen pals, Jeremy proposed, and on August 17, 2002, they were married. Their only child, a daughter, arrived in 2004. Back then some folks worried the couple rushed into marriage, but they quickly came around. Nowadays, their familiesâ only complaint about the two lovebirds is one that makes Jeremy and Lisa giggle.âMy sister thinks weâre too cute - too sappy. She loves Lisa to death, but she thinks weâre a pretty sappy couple,â says Jeremy.With a love story thatâs as sweet as their last name, this Cakes couple are still living out their happily ever after in scenic Noggin Cove with their teenaged daughter, Hannah; their cat, Twister; and Lisaâs guide dog-turned pet, Carmen (now enjoying retirement after eight years of loyal service). The couple loves going for walks and enjoying movies together. Lisa is an avid sports enthusiast, playing everything from shotput to basketball and bowling, and sometimes travels to participate in competitions hosted by the Canadian Council of the Blind. Of course her sweetheart, Jeremy, is always by her side to cheer her on. As they prepare to mark their 18th wedding anniversary this month, and 20 years as a couple in September, theyâre enjoying looking back on the remarkable circumstances that led to their meeting.âI believe it was God, along with the Downhomer, that brought us together,â says Lisa. âIâm a firm believer in that.â Did Downhome play a part in your love story? Email email@example.com to share.
Interior designer Marie Bishop takes us on a tour of the backyard fairy garden she created to delight her grandchildren.Fairies... enchanted, mystical, magical creatures. With a history dating back to the 13th century itâs no wonder we still revere their presence in the garden.Whether you have young children, grandchildren or want to revisit your own childhood, opening the door to your imagination will give the fairies permission to lead you into their world. Their magic is hiding in the trees, under mushrooms and down in the moss. You just have to be still, listen, open your eyes and mind, and it will find you.A few years ago, I bought myself a chainsaw and decided to cut a trail in the wooded area next to our house. What I discovered was a quiet, peaceful place with rock outcroppings; beautiful fir, spruce, birch, dogberry and maple trees; along with an array of alders, ferns, mushrooms and mosses. It was magical, and not just for me. Everyone who wandered through there felt the same energy, the grandchildren in particular. We knew right away it was where the fairies lived.It became obvious that the only thing missing in this magical place were fairy doors, entryways into the enchanted underworld of the tree roots. I was given two beautiful, stained, wooden fairy doors by a friend, which of course, inspired me to make more. They make a very easy DIY project, and a great pastime over the long winter months.These sweet little pieces of art can be as simple or intricate as you like. You can use Sculpey clay (found at Michaelâs, Wal-Mart and Amazon), hardwood floor samples, cedar shingles, scraps of plywood - anything that will survive the elements. Cedar shakes or shingles are best (they donât need to be top quality). Theyâre very durable and inexpensive, and you can find them in the lumber department of any building supply store.The average fairy door is approximately 4â-5â high x 3â-3.5â wide. But Iâve made some as big as 7â high x 4â wide. Keep in mind they look best if theyâre tucked into a tree root or a space between rocks that can be chinked up with moss. Once you have your material, simply cut the shape - which could be a rectangle, a rounded or pointed gothic style, or a completely circular Hobbit style. Painting and decorating them is the fun part. Iâve used stain, paint and a combination of both to create a number of different effects. The small jars of acrylic paint from the dollar store are fine, but Iâve also used cans of spray paint and wood stain. For embellishment you, could use old pieces of jewelry, odd earrings, small feathers and all sorts of dollar store finds. Remember, fairies love shiny things and they are very proud of their spaces. So if you do a good job on the doors, they will become permanent residents of your garden.I decided to add a few woodland features to the garden, such as rabbits, mushrooms, butterflies, dragonflies - and fairies, of course. You could also hang a few Chinese lanterns and some wind chimes, and add a few potted plants for more colour and interest. Even if your garden isnât very big, a few whimsical accents and a fairy door or two will create an invitation to sit and dream.My fairy garden became such a hit, it inspired me to host a Fairy Garden Party last summer. Our extended family has produced a brood of little ones over the past few years, and thereâs no escaping their excitement and wonder when they walk among the fairies. We set up a dining tent, prepared a table full of treats and loot bags, and handed out fairy wings to all who came - children and adults alike wore them for the entire afternoon. I'm hoping it will become an annual event.What I didnât realize at the beginning of my garden project was just how much my grandchildren would love it, and this is the best year yet. They become the characters they see; they pretend to be the fairies. Their laughter, squeals of delight and light-footed chases through the trees fill the woods with magic.Itâs been such a gift for me to witness the innocence, joy and vivid imaginations of all the children who wander through. Iâm hoping the gift for them is the smile it will bring when they recall the memories of Nanâs Fairy Garden.
One of 8 gluten-free recipes in the May issue, each prepared by Chef Bernie-Ann Ezekiel and her Academy Canada cooking class. Photos by Downhome staff.2 cups flour (1:1 gluten-free flour)1/3 cup sugar1 tbsp baking powder1/2 tsp xanthan gum1/2 tsp salt1/8 tsp nutmeg1/2 tsp cinnamon3/4 cup butter, cold1/4 cup dry cranberries, chopped2 eggs2/3 cup milkPreheat oven to 350Â°F.Sift dry ingredients together. Cut the butter in using a pastry cutter until it is the size of green peas. Mix in the cranberries. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk together, then add it to the dry ingredients. Mix until a soft dough is formed. Use an ice-cream scoop to portion the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls to about half of their height. Bake for 20-25 minutes. They should be golden brown and puffed up a little.Yield: 8-10 scones
Fresh off the press is the heartfelt, sincere story about true love, addiction and recovery written by singer-songwriter SÃ©an McCann and his wife Andrea Aragon. Here is Denise Flintâs review of the book. To read more about this couple, Deniseâs in-depth conversation with SÃ©an (formerly of Great Big Sea) and Andrea, about their life together and why they wrote this book, appears in the May issue of Downhome.One Good Reason: A memoir of addiction and recovery, music and loveSÃ©an McCann and Andrea AragonNimbus Publishing$29.95 (hardcover)One Good Reason is a memoir cowritten by musician SÃ©an McCann and his wife, Andrea Aragon. The book follows an unusual, but intriguing, format with the voice going back and forth between the two authors. The story centres on McCannâs struggles with alcohol, which he turned to after being abused by his parish priest when he was a teenager. He talks about his early life, his troubled teen years after he gave up the idea of becoming a priest, and his life as a famously drunken musician, husband and father. But itâs not all about him.Although the bulk of the book is written by McCann, several chapters tell the story from Aragonâs perspective. He writes about how addiction affects a person and she, who kept a journal throughout their relationship, writes about how it affects the people around the addict. There may occasionally be a little bit too much information here for the average readerâs comfort, but they both thought it was important to be as open and candid as possible. The result is a heartfelt and sincere examination of the trials the couple faced together.The book is peppered with photographs, hand-written lyrics and drawings, giving it a visually inviting look. But thatâs not the important part. One Good Reason is a story of addiction and the abuse that drove it; but at its heart, itâs really a love story about one woman who never gave up on the man she loves, and the man who made himself live up to her expectations.
By Holly Costello When spring finally arrives, everyone gets the urge for a fresh new look. And these days of social isolation, being stuck at home makes that more important than ever. Here are some easy ideas to help you achieve that without having to leave the house. Clean, organize, declutter Thereâs nothing like a spring cleaning to get rid of all that winter grime and gain the feeling of accomplishment you get when all your closets and drawers are organized and tidy. Wash those windows inside and out to let that spring sun shine in and clean that layer of dust off everything. Switch out all that heavy winter clothing, coats, boots, and accessories for the lighter spring and summer items. Rearrange the furniture Change is good. Switch your bed to a different wall in your bedroom, or change the layout of the furniture in your living room. A great tip here is to shop around your house for pieces of furniture that could be repurposed or used elsewhere. Switch a living room chair with one from your bedroom. Need a TV stand? Take a chest of drawers from a guest bedroom to use there instead. I have even swapped entire rooms in a clientâs house; to make a main floor more functional, Iâve switched the locations of the family room and dining room. Paint something! Paint a piece of furniture to give it a new look. Paint an interior door a bright accent colour. If youâre really feeling adventurous, try painting out a bathroom vanity or your kitchen cabinets. At time time of writing this, many local businesses that carry these type of products are doing deliveries or pickups. Change your accents Change up artwork, accessories, toss cushions, throws and rugs. Once again, you donât need to go out and buy new things: you can often shop your house for these switch-ups. Put away your cozy sheepskin, your fuzzy and chunky knit throws, and switch out to that lightweight bright yellow one. Swap out your cosy winter toss cushions for bright and/or light tones. Take all your artwork down and rearrange it, hang it in different rooms or in different configurations. Take those photos and frames youâve had stored away and get them up on the walls. Nowâs a good time to have those family memories out to see. Take out and display a favourite collection (like these cups in the above photo). Nothing says spring like yellow and orange, so add a punch of colour by displaying fresh bananas, lemons and oranges in a favourite bowl or glass vase - accessories that are inexpensive and readily on hand for cooking up delicious springtime meals. Decorate with seasonal dÃ©cor. If you do want to purchase some new springtime accessories, there are stores online and local that will deliver to you. Bring spring in Bring the outside in by adding fresh greenery or colourful flowers to your space. Go on a walk or forage in your own backyard for greenery or flowers that are starting to pop up this time of year. Or move your houseplants to a new location to be admired and appreciated anew.