GHOULash Recipe

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Even though my kids have all grown up now, I still love to celebrate important events that have coloured my life. Halloween is one time of the year that we’ve had fun with over the years.

As always, food plays a major role in our family celebrations and Halloween is no exception. I’ve made a simple, nutritious recipe of rice, hamburger, tomato sauce, and spices and served it hot in a freshly scooped-out pumpkin when the children were young. The idea was that they had to eat first before they went trick-or-treating for candy.

This year, I’d like to share my easy and yummy recipe for GHOULash – a nod to all the goblins and ghouls out there on Halloween. I like to make this recipe throughout the year too but especially on a busy Halloween Day.

I boil the macaroni pasta first thing in the morning then put it all together 15 minutes before supper – I use only 1 pot for quick clean-up. It’s easy for a family during the busy time of getting costumes and make-up on for Halloween.

GHOULash Recipe serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni

1 1/2 lbs. local ground beef

1 can Tomato Soup

1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash spice

1-2+ teaspoons Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil macaroni in water in a large pot. Drain. Use the same pot to fry the ground beef thoroughly. Add cooked macaroni, soup, and spices. Mix well. Heat on medium for 5-10 minute while you set the table. Serve.

Leftovers taste great the next day!



Living In The Covid Era

It’s been a year and a half since our world was turned upside-down with Covid-19. We have been through three waves of this terrible virus, so far. The first wave began in March 2020 when the Sars-Cov-2 virus spread around the world and invaded every continent. We went into lockdown which included the closing of all businesses except grocery stores and pharmacies, and shutting down travel. Wearing a face mask became mandatory and now feels like the norm.

Backyard Easter Island Head – everyone wears a mask around here!

March Break 2020 for schools was actually the end of the school year and children did not return to school until September. This also meant that there were no graduations or proms. Parents scrambled to care for their children now home 24/7. Churches, playgrounds and parks were closed and everyone was cautioned to stay at home. Citizens were told to stay 6 feet apart from anyone outside their household while grocery shopping, wash hands frequently, and wear a mask. I remember the feeling of astonishment and disbelief when I heard that singing out loud was strongly discouraged. Singing, for heavens sake!

In a blink of an eye, our world became very different.

I felt isolated from family members who I couldn’t visit or who couldn’t visit me – my sisters, grown children, and grandchildren. Worse of all, I couldn’t hug them! Or see them smile behind their mask. I was thankful that I still had 2 grown children living here.

Then last summer (2020) things started to get better – not as many people where contracting Covid-19 and dying. But that was just a warm-up for things to come. Restrictions eased around here and shopping opened up, allowing a specific number of patrons inside at a time. Luckily, I learned some new skills, like online grocery shopping. I could place my order online and go into town to pick up my groceries without having to even get out of my car! At first it was challenging to navigate the online thing, but I’m a pro now. It’s really a great service offered by many grocery stores and businesses.

It’s a good thing I became skilled at it because the second wave of Covid-19 outbreaks hit us right before Christmas 2020 and lockdowns began again. And it was even harder. It’s the first Christmas that I didn’t have our traditional family dinner with my grown kids and grandkids who live nearby. It was different, even stressful. But I did manage to see most of them at different times when they came to visit separately for gift opening. I didn’t get to see all my grandchildren though.

But we all got through it safely! And the best news was that several Pharmaceuticals had a vaccine developed for Covid-19! That’s a story in itself…… There was hope that we could beat this insidious virus.
As the second wave began to wane near the end of February 2021, things began to open up again. However, only a few select people had received the first of two doses of the new vaccine – people in long term care homes and frontline health care workers. Supply of the vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna was constantly interrupted or slowed down. I continued to avoid anyone from outside our household, which was very difficult when it came to family.

It didn’t take long before a third wave began, fueled by a new variant of the novel Coronavirus originating in the United Kingdom, officially known as B-117. Other variants also popped up including a Brazilian variant, the South African variant, and a new one in India which devastated that country (Delta variant). These variants soon made their way into our country and became the dominant strain of the virus. These strains were more transmissible and more deadly. Back into lockdown for the third time. And this time, I felt even more isolated, maybe even disappointed that the end wasn’t as near as I wanted it to be, as I needed it to be.

When my well water pump needed replacement, I was lucky to have grown children who could do the job without having to put us at risk with a stranger. Again schools were closed after a delayed Spring Break, in April and will remain closed until September. No commencement or Prom for my grade 12 granddaughter Kalia – I can’t imagine what that must be like. Kids are SO resilient! The International Border with the U.S. has been closed since last March 2020 and the provincial Borders were closed during this third wave.

One thing that IS positive is that the vaccine rollout has been accelerated. At first, I was thrilled to be eligible for my first shot by the end of July. I was ecstatic that my age group was moved up and I received my first vaccine in mid-April! Last month, I got my second (booster) shot so now I’m one of the 20% of Canadians (at the time of this writing) who are fully vaccinated. We still have a long way to go!

Speaking of vaccines, I can say that I am not a supporter of routine immunizations – in the past, I would have been referred to as an “anti-vaxer” simply because I made an informed personal decision about routine vaccinations that was not the status quo. I’ve continued to research the new Covid-19 vaccines – exactly how they were developed, their trials, exactly how they work at the cell level to fight off Covid, etc. After months of research, I decided to accept the offer to be vaccinated. The whole world was fighting this virus and I wanted to be part of the solution. At my age, I don’t mind being a “guinea pig” and I trust the science that I studied. By the time I got my first vaccine, millions of others worldwide had received theirs with the statistically usual side effects.

The good news is with all our spare time during the Stay-at-Home order, we expanded the garden all along one side of the yard and added 8 yards of organic triple mix soil. My daughter Nellie and I also started ‘Acrylic Pour’ painting on canvases which has been lots of creative fun.

I can’t wait to be with my family again! Hug my grown kids and grandkids. Visit my other grown kids and grandkids who live on the other side of the country. Visit and laugh again with my two sisters. Hugs, hugs, and more hugs! A normal Christmas! I actually hope that things don’t go back to the way it used to be: people treating our planet and each other carelessly and thoughtlessly. We have an opportunity to turn things around. To be more responsible. THIS is our moment in time for this generation to make a difference now for generations to come.

What a whirlwind these past months have been! I almost can’t believe that the world’s humans were at risk of annihilation. 185 million people around the globe have contracted Covid-19 and nearly 4 million have died so far. We have all been part of living history.

I wonder what it would have been like to read this post two years ago…… probably unbelievable.


Covid-19 Pandemic

You can’t see it. Or smell it. Or taste it. Or hear it. Or feel it. But make no mistake. Covid-19 disease has changed the world as we knew it. Nobody alive has ever seen anything like this before. We are living in unprecedented history. THIS virus does not discriminate – it’s an equal opportunity killer.

I have been following this novel (new) coronavirus since I first heard about it at the end of December 2019 in a brief news clip from China.  By January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Health Emergency because there were SO many people in China infected and dying…..and it was spreading rapidly. The DNA was sequenced and discovered that this novel coronavirus was similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – another type of coronavirus) of 2003 BUT different/new. This virus was named SARS-CoV-2 (SARS, Coronaviris 2) and the disease it causes is now known as Covid-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019, the year it was discovered).

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared Covid-19 a global Pandemic.


SARS-CoV with corona


It’s an impossible scenario to comprehend. Covid-19 has now spread from China to the rest of the world infecting OVER 1.3 MILLION people and killing 71,000+ humans (as of this writing). The United States, our neighbour to the south, is the new epicenter of the world.

Almost a month ago, the Canadian Prime Minister asked all citizens abroad to please return home NOW. The government and health authorities then asked people to
* not travel outside the country
* use “social distancing”, a new buzz word for keeping 6 feet apart from each other
* STAY HOME ~ now indefinitely. No visiting relatives or friends.  Social Isolation
* No gatherings of over 50 people ~ now 5 people
* No school
* Parks and recreation closed
* Restaurants closed down
* work from home if they were lucky enough.

Others got laid off or lost their jobs because their workplace had to adapt/close. My province of Ontario declared a State of Emergency followed by almost every other province and territory in the country.


Spring is still spring


Panic shopping ensued with manic people buying excessive amounts of toilet paper (don’t ask me why) and cleaning out shelves of canned goods and disinfecting supplies.
It was insane.

The Canadian Government prohibited travelers outside the country from coming here; then they closed the border with the United States (except for Canadian citizens arriving home, for now) and trucking with essential goods like food and medical supplies.

What does all this mean? People are going to die. Some people STILL believe that it’s all media hype. Others refuse to STAY HOME and instead, use their down time to socialize and shop. A couple of weeks ago, online pictures appeared of throngs of people packed tightly on beaches in Vancouver and shopping center parking lots full of cars. Now drone footage shows empty streets in our biggest cities. And people can now be fined for gathering or not “social-distancing” in some cities. The province of Quebec is turning back vehicles of non-residents.


Tomato Seedlings


As usual, I’m staying home. I’m not even ‘allowed’ to do the grocery shopping anymore! We’re even being extra careful with the mail: it gets quarantined in the garage for a day before we open it. I’ve started my tomato plants for this summer’s garden and plan to start squash and zucchini inside soon. I’ve tapped my Sugar Maple trees and I’m boiling the sap on my cookstove daily like I do every year. These little things seem like the only things that are normal! I grieve that I’m unable to visit my kids, grandchildren, and my sisters Faye and Betty any time soon. I AM thankful that I have grown children still living here – we’re taking care of each other. The whole country, in fact the whole world, has come to a halt. Many families are re-discovering each other again.

I could never have fathomed the magnitude of this pandemic! Now we are all living it – making history that future generations will read about and study forever. I remember exactly what I was doing when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated; I’ll never forget my Mom dying; I remember when the Space Shuttle blew up; I’ll always remember September 11, 2001; and now I’ll never forget the Covid-19 Pandemic and the ensuing “Greatest Depression” that is on the horizon.

Take care everyone and for now, STAY HOME!



Blast from the past ~ Halloween!


This year I was reminiscing about past Halloweens.  We’ve always celebrated ‘All Hallows Eve’ with family and friends in a number of ways.   I’d like to share some of those hilarious events with my readers of Grammomsblog:


When I was growing up, I used to love creating a ‘haunted house’ in my family basement to take all my blind-folded friends through.  It was very low tech with peeled grapes for eyeballs, cooked spaghetti for brains, jello for it’s feel, and an electric chair (don’t ask).

Chris had his own teenage Halloween stories, like the Great Pumpkin Caper,  that you can read about here.

When my children were little during the ’80s, we’d often have daytime ‘dress-up’ parties with friends in our parent’s group.  There would be a scavenger hunt, bobbing for apples, and ‘catch-the-donut’ where we’d hang a day-old plain donut on a string and suspend it – each…

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House Painting Renovations

We’ve been busy painting! Well I SHOULD say my daughter Nellie has been busy painting. I tried to help her paint her room a few years ago and I got ‘fired’, sort of. She kindly asked me to sit down and relax and just watch while we listen to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone audio book, hahaha.

Our recent painting blitz started all because of a flood downstairs – a pipe broke in the bathroom upstairs and soaked the carpet downstairs just before Christmas. We quickly moved four bookshelves full of books and all the furniture off the soaked carpet, shop-vac’d up the water, ripped out the sponge underlay, bought a carpet shampooer, and shampooed the carpet. Luckily my son Darin fixed the broken pipe too.

Now that the bookshelves were moved away from the wall and the furniture all moved around, Nellie said that it was a good time to paint! And so began the painting frenzy! She painted the entire wood ceiling by hand, twice. And the walls downstairs were painted a light grey. Darin, Taylor, and Nellie also finished the ceiling in an 11×11′ area over the bookcases, with a beautiful suspended ceiling (to allow us to access electrical and plumbing). I didn’t sit around watching either! My job was to go through ALL 8 bookshelves! I donated 22 boxes of books to the youth book fair and whittled my collection down to 4 bookshelves. I’m still working on trying to part with some of my collection of books and magazines, like years worth of Harrowsmith, Organic Gardening, and Mother Earth News.

After a break to help me garden, Nellie was ready to get back to painting. She finished painting the dining room and kitchen walls then made her way down the stairs painting all the wood pine paneling by hand – it looks so bright and fresh! We only had one mishap when one of our cats decided to walk on a newly painted counter then run all over the place leaving ‘kitty footprints’!

kitty paint footprints


We celebrated the freshened up house with new furniture too. Our old stuff was, well, old so it was time to retire it.  Nellie assembled all the furniture and tables that we bought at IKEA, too.

It looks amazing! I’m SO proud of her – she really has a knack for painting just like her Dad. I could NEVER have painted the entire house like she has. Next she plans to paint the pine kitchen cupboards white, which will be a monumental job. And after that, paint the mudroom mint green and spare bathroom leftover yellow.

Paint is the most cost effective change you can make to your home and it looks fantastic!

Here are some before and after pictures:


Downstairs1 Before


Downstairs1 After


Downstairs2 Before


Downstairs2 After

6LR, ceiling beforeCR

Livingroom1 Before

8LR, ceiling AfterCR

Livingroom1 After

5LR BeforeCR

Livingroom2 Before

7LR After

Livingroom2 After


Kitchen Before


Kitchen After, with more to come…..



March 2nd

Remembering Chris today 1960-2008.



We miss him every day

What a Year!

Christmas Letter 2016.


2016 has been quite a year for me. It began with a shocking diagnosis of cancer and is ending with family game nights and Star Wars movies.

But l shouldn’t get ahead of myself. Let’s review 2016.

Winter was quite mild with very little snow compared to other years. Taylor was home for the winter, staying here and in the city. We celebrated birthdays in January & February which brightened up the cold days. In early February, I was diagnosed with cancer – basal cell carcinoma – and was told I’d need surgery in ‘two or three months’. I thought, oh great, I’ll get it over with before summer so I can get outdoors and garden. Ah, nope, it didn’t go as planned. I waited for nearly 9 long months before I had surgery at the end of October.

1 Little snow at the end of February

In March, we sadly…

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Christmas Letter 2004


Over the past decades, I’ve always tried to write an annual Christmas letter to family and friends summarizing our family activities and highlighting our proudest moments. TODAY’S CHRISTMAS LETTER IS FROM DECEMBER 2004, word for word.

Seasons Greetings 2004!
This year was full of exciting events! Robin and Taylor both made it home from B.C. in 2004, although not at the same time…..

Wintertime found us enjoying our outdoor “playground”: a huge 65′ x 110′ hockey rink plus a full size curling rink and all surrounded by a huge skating oval – on the river! After Chris plowed the majority of snow off, it still took us 4-6 hours to shovel the remaining snow to bare ice. It’s great exercise – usually we’re too pooped to actually skate, but we do curl and play Bocce on it.

Our Skating Party was a great success again last February. Nellie’s entire class even came another day for ‘Operation Fun’. One night we even had a local CTV Ottawa weatherman do his 6:00 o’clock report right from our backyard rink! THAT was exciting!!

On March break, Taylor came home from Vancouver for a week and we really enjoyed his visit….. We also went winter horseback riding (my first in nearly 40 years!) at our neighbour’s sister’s farm – what a blast! Nellie took her babysitting course this spring and passed with flying colours. Melvin participated in all the school sports teams. Everyone passed and moved on to the next grade.

Marty still has a girlfriend, Tanya, and is now in his last year of high school. Kristi is also in her last year of university and is getting married to Mike next August 12, 2005!

In early July, I took a tumble in the woods across the road (which I’ve walked thousands of times in the past 23 years) and broke my left leg. I was in a cast until the end of August, so my garden took care of itself for awhile. I still have difficulty walking and am trying home physiotherapy to help my feet.

Robin came to Ottawa in July for a conference and visited overnight. Natasha stayed home in Victoria. He’s working on is PhD now – Dr. Rob, imagine that!  Chris was in B.C. for 3 weeks this summer on a job and got to visit with Taylor one night.

Our little “Munchie”, grandaughter Kalia, is so sweet.  She turned one in November and is walking all over the place! Darin and Amanda and Kalia moved to London, Ont. this fall where Darin accepted a job at a high-tech firm. We miss them a lot, but we talk every week and they’ll be here for a week at Christmastime. They are such great parents!

Well, I’ve mailed the parcels to B.C. and done most of the baking. Just a bit more to do before the kids get out of school in the next 3 days: Chris is painting the mudroom, we’re finishing up all the shopping, clean the house …… is there really any point!

I really hope that we see you all sometime in 2005 – or at least write or email us!
Merry Christmas!



Christmas Letter 2003

Over the past decades, I’ve always tried to write an annual Christmas letter to family and friends summarizing our family activities and highlighting our proudest moments. TODAY’S CHRISTMAS LETTER IS FROM DECEMBER 2003, word for word.

Hello and Merry Christmas!

This year I decided to try a different strategy – get all my shopping done (almost), the Christmas tree cut -put up- and decorated, all my baking done (except the cherry cheesecake on Christmas Eve) and the parcels mailed to B.C. BEFORE I wrote my annual Christmas letter. So here are the highlights of this past year….

After my last year’s letter, I DID get the baking done and the parcels mailed to B.C. before everyone began to get sick.  On Christmas day, we ended up in the Emergency department of the Kemptville Hospital with Melvin who ended up in the Childrens’ Hospital in Ottawa for 5 days in January.  At one point, both he and Marty had pneumonia; Doctors thought Melvin had leukemia (he didn’t – just double pneumonia and whooping cough); then the next week they thought Marty had a tumor (the lesion on his lung was the size of a quarter and was a scar from Histoplasmosis, which we never knew he had years ago!).  So that’s how our new year began!!  By the end of January they were all back at school!!!!!!

Nellie turned 11 in January – she’s almost as tall as me now with beautiful long hair. She’s now in grade 6 at the same school in the little town of Kars that all her siblings attended. Darin turned 26 in January and he and Amanda still live in Ottawa.  Of course, you’ve probably heard of their new daughter, Kalia Emily, who was born November 15th.  She’s the cutest baby in the world – honest, I’m not biased just because I’m her Gramma!

Taylor turned 23 in February and he still lives in Vancouver – we are hoping that someday soon he’ll come home to visit.  He still works at the same restaurant/bar, ‘Avantes’.  Marty is now 17 and towers over me!  A few months ago he picked up a guitar and hasn’t stopped since!  He’s a natural!!  He’s in grade 11 and doing very well.
Kristi is 21 now and in her third year at Carleton University.  She still works in the ER at the Ottawa General Hospital and also for Foreign Affairs Canada on her days ‘off’.  Her and Mike are still engaged and hoping to get married in 2005.

Robin (now 28) and Natasha (29) still live in Victoria, B.C. where Robin is still in school pursuing a Masters degree.  I will never forget his first day of kindergarten – he refused to go and get on the schoolbus: he actually grabbed onto the fence and clung for dear life – honestly, I couldn’t unhook his little fingers, until the bus left!!  Now we can’t get him out of school!  Ha! Ha!  We are very proud of him – actually of all of our children.

Our little Melvin turns 9 tomorrow!  He’s in grade 4 at the little school in North Gower where all the kids have gone for the past 22 years.  guess I’m the most veteran parent in that school.

During the winter, we still enjoy hockey games with our friends on Saturday nights in our garage/party room and skating on our backyard rink on the river.  Spring, summer, and fall find us working in the yard.  The pond is nearing completion with the stream/waterfall which we accomplished this year.  Chris built a little arched bridge over the stream and several arbors/trellises for around the yard.  I’m forever planting and dividing/moving plants.  Our vegetable garden is being taken over with more perennial flowers which I’m trying to start from seed or find in a heap.

Well, I sure hope that you will come and see us sometime. If not, just write and keep in touch. Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New year.

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