Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Old mother Hubbard has gone to the cupboard… and it is bare again.  With two teenage boys in the house, (and a tween girl who grazes constantly) there is regularly heard the complaint that there is nothing to eat in the house!  Honestly:  it’s often true.  Rightly or wrongly, I shop for groceries only once every two weeks.  I have a delivery of fresh veggies come to my door once a week (Shout out to mamaearth organics — fabulous company!)  and yeah, we have to pick up milk and bread sometimes… but grocery shopping  tends to be an event for me, rather than a  regular occurance.  To which I muse…adventuresinshopping

I was feeling ill this week… stuffy nose, fever, the whole deal… so grocery shopping got delayed again.  The household is feeling the pinch.  I am scrambling to think of things that will combine in some way to be edible enough to satisfy.  School lunches are the worst.  I try and come up with delightful healthy alternatives to jam sandwiches… but there is just no going with “colourful beetroot spinach wraps with avocado dressing” for picky teens.  And forget the organic alternatives and smiley face cookie cutter bread with strategically placed apple slices in their separately cooled containers.  I’m lucky they even remember their lunch bags, let alone read the love notes I dutifully sign with hearts and x’s and o’s to wish them a lovely day and to remember their memory verses….  okay — NOT.  I would love to be that Pinterest perfect, Instagrammable mom, but alas, I am not.  Cheese and crackers it is.  Packaged.  That I bought at the dollar store.abundance

Seriously though, I actually like to grocery shop.  As I said, it’s more of an adventure than a task for me.  I shop at a big store with lots of choices and housewares and a pharmacy too… so usually it is a one stop deal and a very full cart.  I once got asked if I owned a group home 🙂 and get many a strange look as I strategically pile the bags at the checkout.  I have it down to a fine science now, which scares the hubby, who refuses to help bag anymore.   (Don’t get him started on coupons either — there is no fury like a girl who price matches!)  Needless to say, the crew was not surprised on a recent trip south when I wanted to go to a place called Jungle Jim’s International Market in Cincinnati.  With over 200 000 square feet of shopping adventure… why not?!

With all its colourful and slightly kitchy displays, it was kinda fun to walk through this giant store and marvel at the simple abundance of food we have — cheeses, wines, fish, various cuts of meat, and candy!  The back of Jungle Jim’s even had little stores for various countries where you could find your “taste of home” if you needed to.  It had organic, gluten free, fresh, frozen and local.  We actually commented on the difference between American and Canadian groceries… we are way more apt to have international choices as our “normal” selections here in Canada.  At least in our big, diverse city, anyway. tasteofhome

So, as I sit here contemplating what on earth are we going to have for dinner (nope… still haven’t been shopping yet!) I am reminded of how blessed we are.  Sure, we complain.  But I can walk to the convenience store (convenience… ever notice that?!) to get a snack. Or stop and grab something “to go” on my way home, or spend the time and load my cart up to the hills with whatever I want.  We are richly, richly blessed at our house.  Many mothers pray they will scrape enough together to keep their beloveds from starving, let alone spend the time cookie cuttering their lunches into fun and colourful shapes.  According to world hunger stats, some 95 million people are undernourished in our world.  One in five children go to bed hungry.  Even here in Canada, where many fall below the extreme poverty line.  Yet, we waste one third of the food available to us.bugprotein

Did you enjoy your abundance last week celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family?  Did you bring your canned goods to the Food Bank Box during their fall harvest drive and feel good about it?  Oh my friends… like you,  I am guilty of gluttony in a world where convenience and abundance is so prevalent.  Where grocery shopping is an adventure, not a need.  Where I stack up my points and fill my cart with sales just because “I want”.  Let’s make the effort, together, to be conscious of our brothers and sisters who struggle.  Let’s be truly thankful for our abundance and not take it for granted.  Let us share and serve.  For the adventure may not be at Crazy Jungle Jim’s International Market — it might be right here, in our own hearts, when we light the flame within, and train our brains to be aware of, and provide for,  the needs of others.Jungle Jim's 2


REMINDER: 30 Days of Blessings is the brainchild of mittonmusings and has finally launched!  It’s our attempt to be conscious not only of the many ways we are blessed by God, but also to think of ways to bless others.   We will be starting our challenge Oct. 15th… but it is not too late to sign up!  Join us, visit our 30 Days of Blessings page to get started!30 Days of Blessings!

Apple Harvest

It’s apple harvest season!  Here in Ontario, we have an abundance of apples!  According to Ontario Apple Growers, there are 15 main varieties of apples grown on the nearly 16 000 acres of land dedicated to the production of the fall fruit.  The top five varieties are: MacIntosh, Gala, Empire, Red Delicious and Northern Spy.  My favourite happens to be MacIntosh.  They are smaller and a bit more tart.  Ohh! My mouth is watering just thinking about it… apple butter on warm toast, apples and peanut butter… apple pie, apple crumble, apple crisp (is there a difference?) … apple sauce smothering a good farmer’s sausage…. Okay, Okay, I digress.

One of the neat things about living in Canada is when the cooler days of September begin to roll around, the farmer’s markets begin to pop up everywhere… with not only local apples, but an abundance of harvest goodies.    farmersmrkt We happened to frequent a few in the last couple of weeks, and the hubby and I marvelled at the people carting off huge bags full of peppers and tomatoes and colourful bouquets of flowers!  Rich, rich shades of golds and reds and deep pinks and chocolate browns.  Truly, our Creator has displayed His handiwork in the beauty of the harvest!

Now, I am a city girl born and raised in the suburbs… so I know I cannot comment on the work that encompasses the idea of “harvest”.  However, I am very thankful for the farmers who do provide me with the fruits of their labours!  Yet, I was reminded again, just today, that although we can plant a seed, water and tend it, and even though we hope and pray and wish it to grow…  only God can do the actual miracle of life thing.  I am fascinated, as a life scientist, by the idea of cloning and test tube creations.  I am thrilled by genetic codes, developmental biology and mutation, diversity and evolutionary principles.  We have learned to “create” so much… but not quite from scratch yet… we still need a starting point.  Apparently there are some 7 500 varieties of apples worldwide.  Just think about that.  A simple “apple” could conjure up 7 500 varieties.  Each one of those varieties then produce different actual fruits: some perfectly round, some bumpy, some red, some green and some yellow!  And, of course, they taste slightly different… tart, sweet, sour… wow… I am boggling my own mind.  So let’s move on….

Let’s think about the symbol of “apple” for a moment… for many of you (and for Google!) the first symbol that comes to mind is for apple computers and all things “i”.  Apparently Steve Jobs came up with the idea for apple from Newton and the idea of knowledge, gravity, the falling of the apple from the tree and all that.  Many educational institutions have adopted the apple for their symbol for this reason as well.  Education and the idea of “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has promoted it as a symbol for health and growth and the furtherance of good futures.  The apple tends to have a slightly darker theory as well… especially in religious circles, as the “forbidden fruit” of lust, sin and the fall of man through Adam and Eve (although the Bible doesn’t say the forbidden fruit was an actual apple…).  Needless to say, the seemingly simple apple is not so simple… in fact, it is quite complex!complexapples

Personally, I have been thinking about apples in terms of their great diversity and abundance.  It symbolises the bounty of the harvest and the thankfulness for our many blessings.  Each one of us is different, with our own unique looks and tastes.  Yet, the bunch of us, as a whole, can make a significant impact for good in the world.  Or the opposite.  One rotten apple can ruin a whole basketful.  By blending a variety of apples, and adding just a bit of spice, you can create such rich and comforting delights.  So many foods blend well with the simplicity of an apple.  My grandpa used to say that apple pie without the cheese is like a hug without the squeeze… isn’t that cute?  There’s just something about an apple that evokes feeling blessed.

And so… it is with great delight, that I announce a new adventure at mittonmusings!  The new “apple of my eye” shall we say?  A new learning experience that (we hope) will not only have you feeling blessed, but present you with a chance to bless others!  With apples as our theme, we have developed a 30 day course (think random acts of kindness with gratitude journal) designed to give you a focus for the day:  with prompts for action, daily verses, and practical tips to strengthen your relationships with God and others.  Imagine it as that big bushel of harvested apples… each of us unique and different, harvested with comfort and care.  Then we get all shined up so that we can be passed around to enrich others, furthering health, knowledge and the furtherance of good futures!  All achieved within the comforts of home!

30 Days of Blessings!

Want to join us?  We’d love to have you!  See more information and get sign up information on our 30 Days of Blessings! page.  It’s absolutely free!  The adventure begins Oct. 15th! Don’t wait!

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Taste of Heaven

Recently, we took advantage of the fact that I was participating in a Summit that had me staying in the heart of downtown Toronto, to visit a unique treasure known as Kensington Market.  (By the way, the Summit gave me a tonne of great blog material — so I enjoyed it thoroughly!).  I have vague memories of visiting Kensington Market as a child in grade school.  The purpose of the school trip was to engage in “the cultural diversity of the city and participate in the richness of its culture”… or something like that.  As students, we were only allowed to buy something if we had not had it before.  I remember picking out a rich banana square from some Asian bakery (I always remember food details).  I could probably find a tonne of them now, not far from my own neighbourhood… but back then it was something different.  The class soon discovered a shop that had fresh sugar cane… and half of us came back sucking sweet juices out of the green, fibrous sticks.  It probably wasn’t that fresh after all, but we thought it was great and some old Jamaican guy made a profit that day!  We all pretended to be from the Islands and swayed along to Bob Marley songs as the school bus bumped along on the ride home.  I suppose the teachers accomplished their wishes.kensingtonwelcome

Our more recent “adult” trip (although we dragged along the younger two to …umm… engage in the cultural diversity of the city and participate in its richness of culture… ) was a unique clash of feasts for the senses.   We weren’t exactly sure where the market begins and ends, as it is spread over several blocks of residential and main streets tucked into allies and in between old homes and meeting houses.  We started along Spadina Avenue and its discount stores filled with cheap t-shirts and Canadian souvenirs.  I abandoned my family for a short moment as I ducked into a small art supply store to look around.

I am not much of an artist, but I love these little art supply shoppes, piled high with coloured pastels, a variety of brushes and canvases in various sizes.  It’s a little collection of whims, a peculiar example of diversity.  Such an eclectic mix of colours and textures, yet all designed for the creation of something beautiful.  Not to mention it just looks cool.  After finding my crew again… who had lost track of me… we headed along a side street.  A large, white truck was unloading cardboard boxes of ripe mangoes and the smell of the tropics hit us.  “Now,” says the hubby… “Now,  we have come to the right place.”  The marketplace store was filled with baskets of exotic fruits and veggies with their cardboard price signs scrawled in magic marker.  The hubby shares with the kids that this is the way he remembers shopping overseas.  He used to run as a kid to buy a glass-bottled Coca Cola — cool and icy.   We turn the corner again and weave our way through the crowds, taking in the sights — shoppes of authentic Mexican delights and street fairs,  an Indian spice shoppe with teas and incense.  We passed the middle eastern restaurant recommended to me at the Summit.  Organic whole food places have popped up everywhere… all those young, hippy, artsy types going green… secretly I am jealous and gaggle at the waste free containers of pantry staples.  A tiny bunch of champagne grapes would cost you $14 if you wanted such a luxury.diversity

I sneaked into a little organic print shop stocked with natural products and handmade cards.  Just for a minute.  The kids crossed over the street to a little park and splash pad to play a bit… because they know how mom easily gets distracted in craft shops and her minute takes forr-everrrr… (insert eye rolling from children and spouse here).  When I did join them, it was hot and my feet were beginning to swell up… so I rinsed them off in the splash pad and watched some cute little girl dash in and out among the random squirts and fountains… she was laughing so innocently and gleefully that it made me smile.

We wandered back and stopped for official Italian gelato… two flavours allowed, but the kids picked the familiar.  Hmmn.  Need to expand their thinking and get them out of their comfort zones more, methinks.  I took a few snapshots of the street art and allowed my senses to take in all the colours again.  I’m not a downtown girl, but every now and then ya gotta see some graffiti.Gelato

After my little getaway downtown I couldn’t help but think that I had a little glimpse of heaven in those few days.  Not only had I sat at the feet of some very learned men and women and gleaned insights on so many topics, but I worshiped with others with different styles and backgrounds unlike my own.  Then we took in the sights, sounds and smells of people who were craving cultural comforts of their native homes.  Others were clinging to social beliefs and political freedoms… organic, pesticide-free foods or animal rights.  Searching people who were clinging to their ideas of “goodness” in a fallen world. Even the artists were trying to express things through the colours splashed on walls and concrete planters.

Our heavenly Father has created us with such diversity… each with our own unique talents and gifts.  Even my own four, who have been raised in the same house with the same set of genes, are so different from one another.  It’s kinda like that art supply shop… our world is stacked to the ceiling with textures, colours and blank canvases that God has given us, and it is up to us to use them well.  To create something beautiful.  To display our wares and share our wealth with others.  The bible tells us (Matthew 25 and 1 Corinthians 12) that the Spirit gives us gifts and talents of all kinds and we are to use them “…for the common good…”  You can take that a variety of ways, I suppose, but I have to think that if it says we should use our gifts, then, by golly, we should use them! Please share your thoughts and talents with others… and never stop learning from those around you!artsupplies

I get kind of excited when I think about Heaven… not only to see Jesus face to face, but to walk down the streets of gold and chat with people from all over the world… to hear their stories of how they met Jesus, and what their traditions were.  To taste the food in Heaven (oh… can you imagine what gelato… or chocolate… will taste like in Heaven?!) And no one is going to argue which way is the right way… because we are all there already… face to face with our Saviour and fully aware of all that He has given us.  The rich diversity of colours and textures and shapes… simply for our pleasure.  Forever.  Hmmmn… as the old hymn says “what a day of rejoicing that will be…”

 

 


Have you been super excited to share in this adventure with me as we “muse” each week?!  We are so close to 100 followers!  How exciting!  Would you consider sharing with a few friends and ask them to join us?  I’ve got some fun changes coming and need as many friends to be a part of it as possible!  Thanks much!

 

Uniquely Canadian

#canadaHappy Birthday, Canada!  (For those of you reading in various other parts of the world… Canada turned 151 on July 1st!)  At the Mitton household,  Canada Day usually represents the beginning of our summer holidays and sun, sand and fun!  There is usually a sea of red and white and everyone seems to be relatively happy.  Personally, if I was 151, I’d be worrying about wrinkles and how blotchy my skin looked decked out in red and white… but I’m not Canada, so I guess it’s okay.  I’ve been to quite a few parts of this wonderful nation and I am happy to report, she looks pretty good for her grand ol’ age!  We should be proud.  This week I was reflecting a little bit about the end of school and moving on, and how Canada is portrayed within the schools I visit.  When I was in elementary school,  we learned to memorize all the provinces with this funny little song… it was so cheesy and the video isn’t much better… but it is still the only way I can name them all.  Great.  Now the diddy is stuck in my head and my kids are going to tease me about it.  And my lack of geography skills.  I am positive they sing much better songs at the library now… Let’s hope so!  Besides, they added more territories to the list, which I am sure is part of the curriculum in 2018.  Do they still have to colour maps in school?  It was the only thing about geography that I really liked.  Ahhh…. Canada!#geography

I’m going to date myself even more, and tell you that we used to say that Canada is a “mosaic” and not a “melting pot” of people.  This means that we are not simply assimilated into one, but a complex blend of many.  A wonderful tapestry of unique threads woven together to create a single, big, beautiful picture.  The wonderful thing about it is that so many cultures are represented here, so many futures shaped from generations of traditions brought over from other places, a unique mix of old, new and slightly murky mixes of both.  We are certainly not perfect… and leaving all politics aside, there is no way that I can claim we haven’t had our fair share of ups and downs in the last 151 years; but we have much to be grateful for.  Picture HeavenI am blessed that I can learn from my neighbour, to sample rich and diverse foods, and to hear the melodious sounds of many voices — each in their own languages.  To continue to learn and be educated.  We are not judged by the clothes we wear, or the music we listen to, or the person we voted for.  We are the true North, strong and free.

Won’t heaven be a bit like that?  Can you imagine the sounds of thousands of generations praising God with one voice, and yet each one definitive and distinctly heard by our Lord?  Each person a representation of a unique life, molded and shaped by the Master.  Every soul carrying the memories of tears… both in joy and sorrow.  (okay… I know… no sorrow in Heaven… but you know what I mean! 🙂 ) I love that!  I love how God created us uniquely different!  We share differently, we love differently, we fight differently, we learn differently!  It should be a reminder to us, though… that we cannot share our faith with others in exactly the same way.  We are all on journeys.  What makes perfect sense to one, may not have any significance to others.   Yet, Christ is perfectly the same.  Unwavered by the push and pulls of a fallen world.  Paul reminds us of this in Philippians 3: that our goal is not to be perfect (humanly speaking) but to follow the One who is!  My friends, are you not encouraged by this?!  He takes our mosaic — our shattered pieces of “us”  —  and makes one big, beautiful picture to present before our Maker in Heaven.  AMAZING!

autumn autumn colours autumn leaves background

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So… as you are putting away all the red and white decorations and fretting over all the BBQ goodies you ate this long weekend… be reminded that one day we get to celebrate again as perfect 151 year-olds!  Our goal is not here on this land… but Heaven.  Until then… here are some “uniquely Canadian” things just for fun:

  • Crispy Crunch chocolate bars
  • Tim Hortons  (not only a hockey legend… but the best coffee ever… double double… also a phrase unique to us only!)
  • Canadians built the first UFO landing pad in St. Paul, Alberta (1967) (hehe…St. Paul… get it?…eyes always on the heavens…)
  • 15 500 out of the world’s 25 000 Polar Bears live in Canada
  • we say “pencil crayons” not “coloured pencils” (and spell coloured with a “u” — oh geography map students!!)
  • it’s pronounced “zed” not “zee” and “pop” not “soda”

And why not some Canadian inventions to round us out:  the electron microscope (yeah science!), basketball, hockey, IMAX, insulin, the wonderbra (good thing…), heart pacemakers (also great!), and the blackberry phone (oh, I miss mine… but we are not perfect, right?)  Happy Birthday, Canada.2

 

P.S. Exciting news coming soon!!  Wanna make sure you don’t miss out?!  Click the follow button on the side bar to get email updates!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Restful Moment

Ever Feel Like You are on the Perpetual Hamster Wheel_Have you ever felt like you were on a perpetual hamster wheel?  Spinning ’round and ’round and never really getting anywhere?  Busy, but not much is getting accomplished.  That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing these last couple of weeks.  It’s a busy time of year at work and I have been up at the crack of dawn, travelling around, saving the world (a class at a time) through the wonders of hands-on science.   When I get home later, the dishes and laundry have piled up, and even though I try and get the house back in some semblance of order, it’s not really “clean” and all I really want to do is nap.  The kids are heading into exams, year end projects and track finals.  The oldest is already off preparing colour coded lists and organizing for her summer job.  My beloved has been holding down the fort and filling in by playing “domestic goddess” after work.  He is such a great help — tidying and getting the kids where they need to be.  I guess I will keep him. 🙂  We are all looking forward to the end of June and the beginning of summer holidays.

As a couple, we thought we might have gotten a little break last weekend when the two of us attended the AGC National Conference in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  He was going for work and I got to go as a delegate this year … which really means an excuse to follow him.  He has attended such conferences numerous times, so for my hubby, the extrovert he is, this weekend was connecting again with people he knows and shares memories with.  For the wallflower, introverted me, it was more smiling and nodding and 3 days of making small talk with people I don’t really know over scheduled, albeit wonderfully catered, coffee breaks. abide The days were full of business meetings, numbers and a lot of reports.  Now don’t get me wrong,  I have a weakness for meetings.  I actually like taking notes and hearing stories and love to see lists and goal setting trends and charts.  It’s the people I need to learn to love.  A few of the conference attendees (hubby included) found it difficult to sit for 8 hours straight and look at statistics.  Their answer to day long meetings?  Spend your free time climbing up and down seven flights of stairs and trekking through the Niagara escarpment along the raging Niagara river to take in the view.  Sorry… there are only so many wonders of the world you can see until it all just begins to look like moss covered rocks.

ApplewoodWhat I did enjoy was one quiet moment of reflection on the porch of our quaint little Bed & Breakfast in the beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake area not far from the conference.  A quiet retreat nestled in surrounding shade gardens complete with bird feeders and…. free range chickens!  (Did I mention I want chickens? You can read about my zoo here.) The inn is even within walking distance to a couple wineries — so we indulged in the luxury of a glass one night after a full day of meetings.  Applewood Hollow might be a bit on the higher end of the scale for an average conference attendee, but work was paying,  so we booked our two night stay complete with breakfasts in the little breakfast nook just outside our room.  Jane, our host,  makes a “to die for” rhubarb crisp and she swears her chickens make the freshest egg/asparagus quiche.  (It was yummy!)  The guest rooms are private and down the hall from the main house,  which is kind of nice for a small B&B. The bedrooms are in the loft overlooking the gardens.   Tastefully decorated and clean, the guest house is a very nice stay.  It would be a charming venue for an artist/writer/speaker looking to get away and work, or even a romantic anniversary getaway.  I recommend it.  One morning, I took advantage of the views, visited the chickens, snapped some photos, and watched a beautiful, big blue jay eat his breakfast at the feeder.  My heart was calmed and peace once again ensued as the hamster wheel slowed for that one brief moment.QuietMoment

Everybody has those times when they are busy.  Bogged down by all the “duties” of life and pie charts.  Even Jesus.  He travelled across the country attending “conferences” on hill tops… and thousands gathered to take in His words or experience His miraculous deeds.  He, too, got away from the people once and awhile and reflected on His purposes and re-focused.  I wonder if He liked asparagus quiche?  He tells us to refresh and renew, to reconnect with God, to find rest when we are weary (Matt. 11).  It is so good for our souls.

Are you feeling weary, my friend?  Drained by your to-do list and on the never ending treadmill of “catching up?”  Take heart.  Then take a break.  Breathe in the fresh air of reconnecting with God and the beauty of His nature.  If you get a chance, go visit Jane and her chickens at Applewood Hollow in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Say hello to my blue jay friend for me — and try the rhubarb crisp!