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Meet Ruby Koritarov, two-time world powerlifting champion.
Try out some lesser-known greens that are easy to grow.
Enjoy this wonderful, soul-satisfying, Texas-style meal this winter.
Two Irishmen and how they found home on the other side of the Atlantic.
By Dennis FlynnAs the November dusk closes in, I stand on the front step of a home in Mount Pearl, NL, ring the doorbell and wait for the approach of an unlikely superhero of sorts, one who has the coolest nickname Iâve heard in a very long time: âThe Rubinator.âWhen the door opens, Iâm greeted not by a deadly serious cyborg from a fictional universe, but by a smiling woman in an official Team Canada jacket. Ruby Koritarov shuns my proffered hand in greeting and good-naturedly chides, âDonât be silly. I want a hug!â I can tell this is going to be a fun chat already. Ruby is a young-at-heart 74-year-old grandmother who grew up in Conception Bay North. She is also a two-time world powerlifting champion. In October 2022, she won two World Masters titles at the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) Masters Classic & Equipped Powerlifting World Championships held in St. Johnâs. Youâd think as an athlete in her 70s that this is the twilight of her career, but Ruby is just getting started. âOh no, I only came to working out and powerlifting around 2017,â Ruby says. âI started going to Heavyweights Gym with my husband that year in order to take part in weight-loss programs, and they were successful for both of us. During that time, Tyler Kearney, one of the coaches, introduced me to deadlifting, squats and bench press, and I really enjoyed those exercises. I used to push 415 pounds on a sled in one particular exercise, and I would see all the young people in the gym and joked with the coach and told him my age, asking if I was the oldest one there. When he heard that he said, âGood Lord, Ruby, I knew you were very strong, but I didnât realize you were that old. Let me check on something.ââ That led to another coach, Rob King, suggesting Ruby enter an upcoming competition in September 2017, where sheâd be the oldest participant. âSo I decided to really train for it and give it my best shot, and I won.â That first win was extra special for Ruby because she went from a broken ankle and crutches in February to âwinning an event in a new sport by that September.â Since then sheâs competed at 15 powerlifting events, including three provincials, two nationals, the Commonwealths, and the Worlds in Master IV category. And now sheâs a two-time world champion. âPowerlifting is a very welcoming and inclusive sport for people of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes,â says Ruby. âYou have to train hard and you must learn the correct ways to do the lifts, but you compete against others who are in similar categories based on gender, age and your body weight class, so it is always a fair competition.âThe RubinatorWho crowned her The Rubinator? She smiles. âThe younger people in the gym and some of the coaches started calling me that since I am very upbeat and fun around the gym, but all business when I train for competition and do my lifts in contests. They meant it as a compliment and they tell me all the time I inspire them to do their best, which makes me very happy to hear. The way I look at it, and I always say to anyone starting off, if I can do this at my age, so can anyone. The main things are get good coaching, train safely, be smart and realistic about your goals, donât get discouraged by a setback now and then - and above all, never give up.ââOne thing about Ruby is that she always shows up and gives her best no matter what. She is a very hard worker and hard work pays off,â says coach King via email, adding, âRuby is a two-time world champion because she is very coachable, shows up, works hard, takes constructive criticism and is always open to learning and improving. She also brings up all those around her, which makes her such an important part of our team. Ruby is one of the hardest working people I have ever coached, and I couldnât be more proud of her!ââI never would have believed it when I started out that such a thing was even possible [being a world champion]. But I am not stopping there,â Ruby says. In her category, Ruby says sheâs set âeight provincial records, eight national records and 10 Commonwealth records during the last Worlds, and I amazed myself. I really hope to keep training and get back to the Worlds again in a year or two and have a goal to someday set a world record in at least one of my lifts. It is a hard task, but we all need something to keep shooting for at any age.â
By Kim ThistleThere are so many things that grow here on the Rock that are not well known but so easy to grow. Spinach, lettuce and turnip tops seem to be our go-to greens, but there are many other options that thrive in the cold, in the heat of summer, or can be grown inside under lights during the winter months. Letâs look at a few.MustardIf you like the heat of wasabi or horseradish, you will love mustard greens. Although it is not nearly as intense, it still has that bite that will tingle your taste buds. Mustard can be sown outdoors before the last frost. It tolerates the cold and will survive a frosty night, which sweetens the flavour. Mustards tend to bolt (see sidebar for definition) in the summer heat, so they should be grown early in the season or planted again in early to mid-August for late-season harvest. These greens can be harvested and eaten as âbaby greensâ within about 20 days from planting or grown to maturity, but be sure to harvest before they go to seed. Young greens are delicious in salads, whereas older greens are best cooked in stir fries or added to soups. A large bag of mustard greens dwindles to only a few servings when cooked, so be sure to grow plenty.MizunaThis Asian green is part of the brassica (broccoli) family, like mustard. It tastes a bit like broccoli with an edge and is slightly pungent. Mizuna has a fast turnaround time and is ready for salads in about 20 days. A full head will form in about 40 days. It is delicious as a salad green but can be grown to maturity and eaten like mustard. Branch out and try it on pizzas or pasta. This green is ridiculously easy to grow and is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, so why wouldnât you try it?TatsoiThe closest comparison I can make is that this green is similar to bok choy, but tastier. Instead of growing as a head, it looks more like a flattened rosette. It is another brassica that can be harvested in as little as 20 days. This green is similar to spinach and is excellent in salads. Leave it to grow on for another 20 days and youâll be treated with an attractive head of delicious, crisp greens that can be eaten raw or cooked. Like mustard, this vegetable likes cool weather and should be seeded early in the season or after the summer heat. Bolting will occur when the weather turns hot. MacheA delicious tender green, mache (or corn salad) is very similar to butterhead lettuce. If you have been to France, you have most certainly enjoyed the delicate green in a salad, as it is a food staple in that country. Like the others in this article, this seed is directly sown in early spring or late summer. Soil temperature should be about 10 degrees for best germination. That is tricky in Newfoundland, so you can try warming soil with a black landscape fabric early in the season, giving you the warmer soil temperature but cooler growing conditions this crop needs. It can also be sown early in August for a fall harvest. If the summer is like this past 2022 season, with unusually warm soil, consider placing a board or reflective material over the planting area for a few days to cool the area. Mache takes about 40-70 days to harvest, so it is more like lettuce than the other greens mentioned above. Unlike other Asian greens, I do not find it desirable as a cooked green, but it makes a delicious salad additive. It can also be wilted and served as a side dish.These greens are all packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They are easy to grow, and you can harvest several crops throughout the season, making good use of your plot if space is at a premium. These greens are also ideal if you want to grow during winter under grow lights. Since we live in a harsh climate where food is challenging to grow, letâs work with what we have and try some varieties that are new to us.
By Todd GoodyearI loves me some chili, I do. I often cook this delicious meal, and there is never a time when I do that someone in the house (maybe even me) will comment on the aroma. The house - or more often than not, the shed, man cave or cookhouse - will be filled with the wonderful smells and promise of a great meal that cooking chili brings.We always end up bottling the leftovers for down the road. Nothing like reliving that chili experience on those days when you just canât decide what to have for a meal. And do you agree that the longer chili is in the bottle, the better it tastes?Have you noticed that many of the recipes found online and in cookbooks often have âTexasâ somewhere in the name or description? Iâve read that immigrants to Texas from the Canary Islands arrived with a chili recipe back in the early 1700s when they settled San Antonio. I am certainly happy that someone started it, and now itâs a part of our history of enjoying this wonderful, soul-satisfying meal.When you look at the list of ingredients here you might feel a little daunted at first. But apart from the kidney beans and/or chili beans, the items needed are pretty common and most will likely have it all on hand. This recipe will easily feed at least six adults, and there may be enough left over for bottling or to enjoy the next day.Youâll need:1 lb ground beef1 lb ground pork (or 2 lbs beef or pork, your choice)1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes1 green pepper diced1 red pepper diced1 jalapeÃ±o pepper, seeds removed and diced1 onion diced2 garlic cloves, crushed2 stalks celery, diced1 cup beef broth1 (6 oz) can tomato paste1/4 cup brown sugar1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce2 tbsp chili powder1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp smoked paprika1 tsp cayenne pepper1 tsp dried chili flakes1 tsp dried oregano1 tsp ground cinnamon2 tsp ground black pepper, divided2 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed1 (15 oz) can chili beans1 tbsp olive oilShredded cheese and sour cream for garnish (opt)Tortilla chips for dipping (opt)In a frying pan, add beef, pork, 1 tsp of the black pepper and 1 1/2 tsp of the salt; fry until browned. Drain the fat. Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add celery, onion, and red, green and jalapeÃ±o peppers. SautÃ© for about 5 minutes. Add the meat mixture, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, brown sugar, beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well, then add remaining dry spices, rest of the salt and pepper, and the beans. Give all this a good stir, set the pot back to the lowest heat, cover and cook for at least two-and-a-half hours. Stir the chili at least every 20 minutes to ensure that nothing is sticking on the bottom of the pot. Taste for seasoning after about 2 hours and adjust if necessary to suit your taste. Once cooked, ladle into bowls, top with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream and enjoy! Also goes great with tortilla chips for dipping.Toddâs Tips:â¢ Meat choice is purely a personal taste preference. Italian sausage removed from the casing is also a nice addition.â¢ The longer you simmer, the better the development of flavour. Add more beef broth if it starts to dry out. If it ends up too wet in the end, simmer for a little while with the cover off to reduce the liquid.â¢ Always cook with confidence!
By Kim PloughmanTwo hundred and fifty million years is a long time to be separated, but when destiny insists, nothing can stop the forces that bind. Patrick Noel Daly knows all about those strong connections, especially as it relates to places and people, and the pull of reconnecting to his heritage - geographically, historically and culturally. Originally from the seaside town of Garryvoe in county Cork, Ireland, Patrick has made Newfoundland and Labrador his home for the past year. In some ways, it feels like he never left his native country. Not surprising, given that the Emerald Isle and The Rock go quite a ways back.Ancient and recent tiesIt is theorised that 250 million years ago the islands of Newfoundland and Ireland both occupied the central portion of a supercontinent called Pangaea. This extraordinary landmass splintered, leaving the two separated by the modern Atlantic Ocean. Sometime in the past 500 or so years, that connection was reformed. Fishermen from ports such as Cork, Ireland, were lured to these shores by the legendary cod fishery from 1675 to 1850. These migratory workers, and later immigrants, brought not just their bloodlines to Newfoundland, but also their language, stories, music and traditions, which have endured to modern day, especially on the Southern and Cape Shores. The connectivity is so deep and intrinsic that Newfoundland has been nicknamed âthe most Irish island in the world.â Indeed, it is the only Irish place outside of Ireland tagged with an Irish name: Newfoundland, in Irish/Gaelic, is Talamh an Eisc (Land of the Fish).Patrick follows a long line of Irish folks who drifted to the island. He explains that in July 2021, a weekend trip to the province changed his globetrotting trajectory. âFor a reason which I could not understand back then, I immediately felt at home.â It began right at the airport. âThe airport taxi driver said to me, âHowâs it going bây?ââ Itâs the exact same greeting they use back in Cork.While Patrick didnât come for the fish, his background as an inventor, founder, investor, mentor and world traveller are all trailblazing characteristics of his hardy ancestors, including Saint Brendan, an Irish monk and seafarer who is thought to have crossed the Atlantic to Newfoundland in the 6th century in a hide-sewn vessel. Patrick credits drive, tenacity and hard work for his own business successes; and these same traits forged the new world here in âthe Land of The Fish.âGobsmacked by the IrishnessAfter landing in this Irish subculture, the familiarity and comfort continued to provide balm for Patrickâs soul. He recalls his first nightâs stay at a B& B, still under COVID quarantine, where the owner offered to deliver him Mary Browns and beer. âI couldnât believe the generosity of that lady. I had never met this woman before, yet she specifically went out to get me some food and drink. That kindness and generosity is a stand-out trait,â he says.Similarly he was affected by his experience at the Caplin Inn in Calvert. âI was gobsmacked by the Irishness of the Newfoundland-born and raised owner, Kevin Walsh, who is as proud of his Irish heritage as Iâve ever seen in all of my global travels,â Patrick says, adding the way and the accents of the Southern Shore residents are virtually the same as folks born and raised in Ireland, particularly the Cork inflections.After living here for over a year, this Come From Away who stayed observes, âWhen I take what I have read, heard, seen and learned, I believe that there is very little difference, or distinction, between the place I was born and raised, and Newfoundland.â Heâs also impressed with the work that societies here have been doing to encourage and foster the Ireland-Newfoundland linkage. âThe Benevolent Irish Society, for example, was founded over 200 years ago, and they have made significant charitable contributions, both at home and abroad over those years.âA self-confessed storyteller and the 1999 Entrepreneur of the Year in Ireland, Patrick has published a book, Just Start Up: A Guide to Building Startups, sharing his entrepreneurial experience so others can sidestep the pitfalls he fell into over the past 20 years. He also plans to start Entrepreneurship Academies. It stems from one of his prime motivations, that more Irelanders and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should be serving in leadership roles. âWe have the smarts, we have the brains, so why not go up and take the lead? We can talk. We can articulate. We can write, so why don't we lead?â he poses.Another thing his old and new homes have in common? Work ethic. âSure, we party hard, sing, dance and tell stories until all hours, but even if the party goes on until late, we go to work and work hard. The work ethic is clear and bred in usâ¦ itâs a large part of the Irish gene.âMannion Collection - Tracing the IrishNot surprisingly, Patrick was in the audience for a recent lecture on the Irish-Newfoundland genealogical connection held in Torbay, NL. It was a celebration of the Mannion Collection: Irish Immigration and Settlement in Newfoundland, 1750-1850. This unique archival information was collected over a span of 40 years on approximately 87,000 handwritten index cards by retired historical geographer, Dr. John Mannion, and his wife and research partner, Maura. The work traced Irish immigrants, including merchants, ships and sea captains, from the southeast of Ireland around Waterford city and a 30-kilometre radius. By 1800, Irish settlers had made up half of Newfoundlandâs population. John is a native of Galway, Ireland, and one of Canadaâs leading cultural geographers. In a recent phone call, he explains that even before coming to Newfoundland in 1969, as part of his work at the University of Toronto he traced Irish family history of first settlers to Newfoundland in places such as Logy Bay, Middle Cove and Outer Cove. After arriving at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, he engaged his students in gathering data on family trees, as a way for the university to connect with communities. Torbay History House and Museum recently adopted the Mannionsâ massive collection, as well as the digitized version of over 160,000 scanned images. John is quick to stress that âa big teamâ created the project through the decades, including students and dedicated typists. He also credits expert technical staff at The NL Statistical Agency, including Aldon Hollett and Terry Quinlan, as well as Eamonn Murphy with the Ireland Newfoundland Connections (INC) and MUN advisor, Dr. Sean Caddigan, with superb work. âTorbay House has also been very supportive and we are very impressed with them,â he says.John admits that while he and Maura gathered the data, they never envisioned where, and how, it would all unfold. âWeâre very, very lucky and pleased to have it presented, cited and read,â he says, noting that academic data can sometimes disappear in Robin Hood Bay. Calling it âa happy circumstanceâ for the collection to be online, digitalized and in circulation,â John says he and his wife are âover the moon.âFrom many angles, the collection is quite significant, notes John. For one thing, there is ânothing quite like it for any other ethnic group in the 19th-century English Canada,â he says, adding, âFrom a provincial historical and heritage side, this is perhaps the most notable event of the past year.âFor the Town of Torbay, John points out that the preservation for future generations is a valuable asset, making the community a destination for cultural research and âgenealogical tourismâ between Ireland and Newfoundland. â Itâs a revolution,â he remarks, adding that, âIt is a free shortcut to oneâs family history at the click of a mouse, anywhere in the world.â The prolific Mannion project (with over 450,000 names now online and searchable) is indeed a testimony to innovation, where a lifelong and scholarly labour of love has been transformed into a public good. In time, this work is envisioned to also serve genetic research related to the Irish-NL population, parlaying into medical benefits for both. In addition to the event at Torbay House this past summer, the collection was also celebrated and launched by Newfoundland-Labrador Irish Connectionâs (NLIC) sister board, INC, in Cork, Ireland on September 5. There, the Taoiseach of Ireland, Mayor of Cork, Patrick Mannion (the Mannionsâ son), Eamonn Murphy, Alton Hollett and Torbay councillor Ralph Tapper (also of the NLIC) all spoke at the event.The Canadian Ambassador, Nancy Smyth, also attended the Ireland event and acknowledged that âthere is simply no denying that Newfoundlandâs connection to Ireland is unrivalled within Canada.â The Ambassador also congratulated Dr. Mannion on his recently published book, chronicling a Waterford sea captainâs voyages in the 1750s, Waterfordâs Maritime World: The Ledger of Walter Butler, 1750-1757.âTo see, hear, read, and somewhat feel, the thoughts of those Irish people who initially started travelling as fishermen from Southern Ireland aboard the ships from the English West country was thought-provoking, to say the least,â says Patrick about the Mannion collection.As Patrick continues to embrace the kinship he has been blessed with since arriving, his wish is see more of the Irish diaspora and culture acknowledged and celebrated to strengthen his countryâs connection to these shores. âThis is a great part of the world, and when it comes to having a good time, with good people, in a shared culture and heritage, both Ireland and Newfoundland are two places I enjoy to my core,â he confesses.The two Irishmenâs experiences and ties to this province prove that not even volatile geological forces back 250 million years ago can obstruct the pull between Ireland and Newfoundland. Already bonded in geology and a wild and rugged landscape, the two have reunited through a shared intangible culture, with stories, songs, sayings, accents, humour and lifestyle - all well preserved by the salty Atlantic air.
Amid the wreckage from an historic storm, survivors find gratitude, grace, even good humour to help them carry on.By Pam PardyThe devastation caused by post-tropical storm Fiona on Newfoundland and Labradorâs southwest coast this fall was numbing. When the sun rose over Port aux Basques, the hardest hit community, on September 25, where boulders and debris scattered throughout the once picturesque town, harsh reality set in. More than 20 homes were completely destroyed and others suffered catastrophic damage. Even more tragically, one woman lost her life. While this is the story of two women who had their lives forever changed by Fiona, it is also a story of courage, kindness, and a love of home more powerful than any storm.Hurricane turned post-tropical storm Fiona stuck Newfoundlandâs southwest coast on September 24, 2022. While it raged, Fiona brought drenching rains, huge waves and a powerful storm surge that washed wharves, stages, sheds and houses into the sea. Fiona also brought strong winds with gusts up to 134 km/h recorded in Port aux Basques. Roofs were ripped off and power was knocked out for many in the region.Even as angry waves began to pound the shoreline, many Port aux Basques residents remained calm, including 62-year-old Jocelyn Gillam. âWe knew the storm was coming. It was on the news all week long,â she says. While not overly concerned, she and her husband David did what they needed to do to prepare.The evening before the storm, the townâs residents were advised to be ready for a possible evacuation. âWe were told to take some personal things, so we took our wedding rings and I took a bracelet my husband gave me when we got married. We brought our rubber gear and rubber boots, and put that by the door so we were ready if we had to leave in a hurry,â she says. The couple went to bed and in the morning, things seemed fine. âThere was a lot of debris on the roads, but nothing bad. The sea was coming up, but it wasnât raging or nothing,â she explains. The couple decided to have breakfast and prepare for the day ahead. âI planned to make some soup and do some buns up for my husband, âcause heâs a bun person, and I looked up and saw my brother-in-law out sitting in his car there,â she says.She donned her rubber gear and went outside to see what was up. The two chatted briefly, then Jocelyn headed back towards the house.âI looked out over the sea and I could see the water come in. It was all a wild mixture of colours. It was browns, whites, beiges and blacks, and it was angry - very, very angry looking.âWhile the sight of an angry-looking sea held her interest briefly, that was it, she explains. âI said, âThatâs never going to come up this far,â so while the sea was rolling it never crossed my mind that it would reach where I was to.â Jocelyn was about to find out how wrong she was.âI never had one more step took and she [the ocean] had me down on my rear and washed me up under a Jeep. Well, I held onto the bottom of that Jeep and I said, âOh, my God. Somebody help me.ââAt times, Jocelyn was totally submerged under the rushing water. When she was able, she fought for a breath while screaming for help, though she could hardly be heard over the high winds and raging sea. In a moment of clarity, she readjusted her grip to the undercarriage of the vehicle, raised her free hand in the air and motioned wildly for help. âThe water subsided a bit and my brother-in-law was able to see my hand, so then he knew where I was. He came and he yelled and he tried to hold me up over the water, but there was so much force. But he said to me, âIâm here. Youâre going to be okay. Youâre going to be okay.ââIt was âby the grace of Godâ that others came to check on their property at that very moment, she adds. âOne man wouldnât be able to hold me with the force of the water, but Newfoundlanders, like we are, we stop and help anybody do anything, and thank God they stopped.âJocelyn was stuck. Even with multiple hands pulling, she couldnât break free. âThey tried to lift the Jeep up, but they couldnât get me out. Then they realized that my coat - my rubber gear - was hooked up in under the Jeep. My brother-in-law tore my jacket off, and then they got me out and took me body and bones, and put me in the back of a car and took me to the hospital.â Things were touch and go for a while, she adds. Her blood pressure had dropped, she was icy cold and there were concerns about how much water she had taken into her lungs. She was also badly battered and bruised. âThere was a nurse at the hospital there that I knew, and being from a small town she knew me, of course. Well, she couldnât recognize me.âIn the meantime, she said, her husband was still calmly sitting at home waiting for his buns. She laughs now as she thinks about it. âHe was just waiting in the house saying, âNow where did she go to, at all?ââFiona may have taken the feet out from under her, but it couldnât dampen her spirits. âI banged my leg up pretty bad, but Iâm going to heal eventually. But the people that lost their homes and lost everything they worked so hard for, those are the people we need to help out and keep checking on,â she says.Stronger than FionaKrystle Collier and her family are among those that Jocelyn says are in her personal thoughts and prayers. Krystle, her husband James, their eight-year-old daughter Kate and Jamesâ mother Barb are now temporarily living apart, staying with various family and friends since Fiona. While weâre speaking over the phone, Krystle pauses to answer the door. âThe military are here because everybodyâs been displaced everywhere. Theyâre checking to see if we need any food or water and they are doing wellness checks,â she explains. âItâs like living in a horror movie, all this is so surreal.âKrystleâs story is another dramatic tale of loss. Before Fiona, the family resided in the home her husband was born in, and it had survived high tides and storm surges in the past. All the homes in the area had. The evening Fiona struck, Krystle and her husband felt they were prepared, but when the call came to get ready to evacuate, they were stunned.âThat was a hard pill to swallow. Packing and then knowing you had to leave is not something youâd expect,â she says. At first, they went to a neighbourâs house that sat on higher ground. âWhen we came outside it was very scary. It was still dark and there were things blowing around - big pieces of wood and siding from peopleâs homes.âAs daylight broke they looked out and couldnât believe their eyes, she says. âThere were literally homes washing into my neighbourâs backyard. They were starting to pile in on top of each other, just like cardboard boxes. We went outside and there were propane tanks everywhere, and there were logs the size of telephone poles just thrown around in my driveway.âRight away she saw that the lower part of their garage had detached and was completely gone. As her Port aux Basques neighbourhood - including their own home - filled with water and debris, they planned their escape from the area. âWe had to get out driving on a road that was completely flooded,â she says.When they were finally able to return the next day, they discovered their home was unsafe. âWe were able to get in and get a few things. But the house? That needs to be demolished,â she says, adding that it could have been worse. âBut some people didnât even get an item of clothing when they returned, so weâre blessed.âLike Jocelyn, Krystle has kept her sense of humour. On the evening Fiona was set to make landfall, Krystle says she headed out for her storm chips and White Claw - her beverage of choice. âI said, âOh, Iâm just going to sit back and let her [Fiona] do her thing, and Iâm just going to enjoy myself. So I went and got my six-pack, and I tucked it in the fridge for safekeeping. I was hoping to sit back and have that on Saturday while she was still blowing.âHours later, just before they evacuated, her husband saw their refrigerator wash out of their damaged garage and float away. âThe next day after we went back, I was just kind of looking around at the rubble, and there were maybe 10 refrigerators tossed around. But then I saw something, like a little white box, and I went over and I climbed in through all the debris - and here was this little pack of White Claw and it was like it was meant for me. I held them up and my neighbour took the picture that has gotten so much attention,â she says with a laugh. That photo of her holding her White Claw triumphantly over the wreckage went viral on social media and even got her a response from the beverage maker.How are Krystle and Jocelyn doing weeks after the worst storm to ever hit their hometown? Both say they feel a whole lot of gratitude. âIâve cried just as much over the heartwarming amount of support that Iâve had from family, friends and strangers as I have over the loss of a home,â Krystle says. It could be a cash donation or just someone calling to say theyâre thinking of her. âI never, ever expected to feel any of this in my lifetime. This is all things you see on the news. Things you watch in the movies. But the amount of support is definitely whatâs keeping myself and my family going right now,â she adds. As for Jocelyn, she wants to thank those who have reached out, but especially her âheroesâ - her brother-in-law Brian Farrell and neighbours Dave Clarke, Dave Mauger, Grant Rodgers, Joan Rodgers and Noah King - whom she credits with saving her life. âItâs hard. I close my eyes and I can see the waves coming to get me, but I also know that thereâs good people out there and thatâs what I focus on,â Jocelyn says. Krystle agrees. âOur province is tough. Newfoundland is like no other place and our people are special, and even though we went through what we did, Iâm still forever grateful that I live here. I still wouldnât want to be anywhere else in the world.â
Five mid-winter holidays celebrated right here.By Nicola RyanWhile here in Newfoundland and Labrador, Christmas is the main draw in December, we got curious about how our friends and neighbours of other cultural backgrounds celebrate the Yuletide season. We checked out five other holidays happening this month and lo and behold, theyâre all about spending time with family and friends, wishing for peace on earth and eating delicious snacks. Las PosadasDecember 16-24Folks from Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba and the Philippines celebrate Los Posadas. During the nine nights of celebration, processions of actors playing Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds and attendants recreate that night in Bethlehem when there was no room at the inn. The nine nights mark the nine months Mary carried Jesus in her womb, leading up to Noche Buena, Christmas Eve. The group travels to one house a night performing the posada litany and singing songs. Each of the nine hosts, or âinnkeepers,â welcomes the pilgrims into their home and serves up hot Ponche Navideno, Mexican Christmas fruit punch sometimes served with a drop of tequila or rum; and snacks like steamed corn dough tamales filled with veggies, meats and cheeses. Thereâs music and dancing ,and children break open piÃ±atas designed as seven-pointed stars full of candy and toys. On the final night of the festivities, all hands head over to midnight mass, Misa de Gallo, and gather together afterwards for dinner. HanukkahDecember 18-26Around late November or December comes the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. The date varies since the Hebrew calendar, based on the lunar cycle, differs from the Gregorian one. This year itâs the evening of December 18 to the evening of the 26th. Hanukkah commemorates an event that took place way back in the 2nd century, when a small group of Jews in Jerusalem rebelled against the ruling Greeks and religious persecution. After the Jews regained control of their best Temple and tossed out the Greekâs blasphemous idols and altars, legend has it that there was only enough oil to keep the Menorah - the gold candelabrum whose seven branches represented knowledge and creation - burning for one day. Miraculously the flame stayed alight for eight days - hence the eight days of the âfestival of lights.â Families celebrate by lighting the candles on the menorah, playing games with the dreidel and cooking or baking delicious foods in oil, especially sufganiyot (deep-fried jelly donuts) and fried potato pancakes called latkes. Happy Hanukkah!Dongzhi FestivalDecember 21For those from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, the winter solstice brings the Dongzhi Festival. Originating in China during the Han Dynasty some 2,000 years ago, the festival is rooted in the ancient philosophy of yin and yang. On the dark winter solstice, negative yin energy is at its peak, but as spring approaches, positive yang energy will grow. Chinese folks believe itâs an auspicious day, when the unhappiness of the past has gone and a new life begins. On this day, families put their ancestorsâ statues and memorial tablets in the hall and set up altars with incense and offerings, and prayers for good weather and harmony in the coming year. Itâs a time for bonding with your family while sipping mellow wine and eating dumplings, wonton soup and tangyuan - specially cooked balls of rice with a filling of bean paste or meat and fragrant herbs that symbolize family unity and prosperity.Pancha GanapatiDecember 21- 25Hindu families have their own December holiday, the modern festival of Pancha Ganapati, where the focus is on sadhana - spiritual practice focusing on new beginnings and mending past mistakes. A shrine to Lord Pancha Ganapati, the five-elephant-faced form of Ganesh, is set up in the living room and decked with boughs, flowers and other ornaments, and each day a tray of sweets, fruits and incense is offered to inspire blessings. Each of the festivalâs five days has its own colour and meaning related to Ganeshaâs powers or shaktis: golden yellow, royal blue, ruby red, emerald green and brilliant orange. Children dress and decorate the statue each day while singing songs and saving up small gifts to open on the last day, when love and harmony are in abundance and everyoneâs ready for a fresh start to the new year. Lord Ganesha loves sweets and his favourite treat is modak - festive dumplings made with dough and sweet coconut and sugar filling.KwanzaaDecember 26 - January 1Finally, another modern December holiday is Kwanzaa - a weeklong celebration honouring African heritage and culture. It was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 with the spirit of traditional African harvest festivals in mind. Homes are beautifully decorated with mkeka, woven straw mats; ears of corn representing fertility and hope for the future; fruits to symbolize joy and hard work; and a candleholder called a kinara adorned with red, black and green candles. Red is said to represent ancestry and unity; black, the people; and green, the fertile land. A candle is lit for each day and on the sixth day, family members sip from the unity cup to symbolize community and togetherness. Kwanzaa focuses on seven essential principles for folks of African descent, known as the Nguza Saba. The principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith; each is represented by one day of the seven-day festival. And no festival is complete without a heaping plateful of tasty traditional food: jerk chicken seasoned with spicy Scotch bonnet chilies and aromatic spices; black-eyed peas; and steaming bowls of jollof rice - long-grain rice simmered with tomatoes, onions, meat and spices. Joyous Kwanzaa! Habari Gani!There are lots of ways to celebrate the spirit of the season. December really is a month of happy holidays!
Rather than cut down another large Christmas tree, interior designer Marie Bishop is keeping the spirit alive in a whole new way.It seems that every year we get ready earlier and earlier for the festive season. And why not? We enjoy it, so we like to stretch it out as much as we can. Iâm pretty sure on a psychological level it distracts us from thinking of the long winter months ahead - thatâs how it is for me anyway. Also, the secret to not getting stressed out about this very busy season is to be ready early, so thereâs no last minute panic or pressure.There are so many wonderful traditions that we honour and celebrate with families and friends during this season, but I like to add in some unconventional festivities. Like the year I celebrated the Wonky Tree. Weâve always had a real tree; I know, very old school, but thatâs not about to change. My quest was to find the least perfect tree and let everyone see how perfectly imperfect it was. And it was a hit! In fact, it became a trend among our friends, and for years after they followed the tradition of the Wonky Tree.Then there was the year I covered everything with blue, white and silver ornaments - that was back in the â90s, before blue became popular. It was a challenge to even find anything blue, but I persevered.This year, Iâm promoting the Tiny Tree. In fact, Iâm creating a small gathering of natural, living, tiny trees. Iâve been talking about replacing the regular eight-foot tree with a small (36â high) tabletop Christmas tree for a few years now, but always got push back from the clan. This year, Iâm doing it anyway. No big tree in the centre of the living room window, just a miniature winter wonderland.Iâve been planning this since August actually, when Mr. B and I carefully scouted a few wooded areas near the house for small, bushy, open grown white spruce and balsam fir. We delicately lifted them from their homes and transplanted them into some fat-bottom pots and other suitable containers. Itâs always a gamble when you transplant trees: the secret is to keep as much of the root ball intact as possible, then mimic their original growing conditions. The alternative would be to cut some small, bushy trees and place them in waterproof containers with floral oasis, keeping the water topped up for the season as you would for a regular Christmas tree.I also trimmed some dead branches from deciduous trees like birch, maple and alder. I chose the ones that looked most like a small version of the big tree, spray painted them white and stored them until needed.My vision was to create a miniature winter scene with fir, spruce, bare birch, snow, tiny lights, small houses - simple, yet enchanting. The simplicity part became more of a challenge than I expected, however.Part of the appeal in this type of arrangement is to create different levels for display. In the space where my traditional Christmas tree would normally stand, next to a comfy blue and white chair, I set up my existing black metal tables, glass nesting tables and black metal bakerâs rack. I arranged the tiny potted trees on different shelves along with the painted birch branches, to create a forest scene. I have been collecting small houses for a few years now, so I added those along with reindeer, a few Santas and some small artificial trees. I threaded warm white mini lights through the bare branches, the evergreens and the little houses, which gives a really magical look. Then I sprayed the whole works with a light dusting of artificial snow. Yes, itâs a little messy, but it looks fabulous. And you can worry about the cleanup in January.I initially thought this would be less work than our traditional tree - Iâm not really sure how I figured that. Although itâs true we didnât have to hunt for a tree, wait for the ice and snow to fall off, position it securely in its container and string the lights so the wires didnât show. And I didnât unpack all my traditional ornaments - hardly any, actually. So, I guess from that perspective it was less work.I totally understand why most people go with the prelit artificial tree, by the way, as itâs so much easier. But if you decide to do something a little different and start early, itâs actually quite fun. It might require a little creative muscle, and you have to give yourself lots of time to carry it out. Otherwise frustration takes over, you run out of time and youâre cursing yourself for being so darn creative. That would be a good time to break out the eggnog!Hereâs a little add-on for anyone who has a small shed, gazebo or tea house that they enjoy all year round: why not pour a little Christmas cheer in that direction? I dearly love my little tea house, so instead of putting my woodland creatures and fairies to bed in the basement for the winter, I kept them out a little longer and made the area festive with a few trees, some lights and a cosy blanket. Not only does it brighten up my morning and the backwoods area, itâs become a great Christmas photo booth for the little ones.Whether you have a tiny tree, a giant tree, an outside tree or no tree at all, this season is really about coming together to embrace all the wonderful things in our lives. Itâs a time to enjoy good food, spend time with family and friends, and check in on your neighbours. Itâs the very best time to love your space.Merry Christmas, everyone!
We turned to staff and readers for their favourite homemade treats they like to put out when Christmas comes. Here's one to try this December!Santaâs Favourite Cookies 1 1/3 cups butter1 cup sugar1 cup brown sugar2 eggs2 tsp vanilla3 cups flour1 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt2 cups mini M&MsPreheat oven to 375Â°F. Mix butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, soda and salt. Blend into creamed butter mix. Fold in M&Ms. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2" apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 min. on top rack of oven until cookies are light brown. Cool slightly on sheet before transferring to cooling rack. Makes about four dozen cookies.