Leaves in the Fall – When the Smoke Cleared

Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia settled into Alberta for much of the summer – but it finally cleared late last week – when it snowed… Today was the first day that more normal early fall weather arrived.

It was a perfect day, one you wish you could bottle and save for winter. Layers of clouds piled up all the way to the snow capped mountains (which you can just see along the horizon if you imagine hard enough.)  Mixed green and gold foliage contrasted with the changing colours just beyond the fence line.

Wild raspberry leaves are turning colour – they stand out in sharp contract to the layers of greenery that haven’t yet responded to the frosty nights.

The spider web layer – fortunately clearly visible or I would have walked right into it!

What is the first thought that pops into your mind when you hear the word ‘Layered’?

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Layered.

Layered Treats – S’mores and Rice Krispies

There are many layers of history for the ingredients in this  S’mores and Rice Krispies® recipe!

Chocolate has been around for more than 2000 years. Sweetened chocolate didn’t appear until Europeans discovered the Americas and sampled the native chocolate drink, which was bitter. They added sugar, and by the 17th century, chocolate was a fashionable drink.

Marshmallows were originally a plant based product that was used for centuries for medicinal purposes. When the plant sap was replaced by gelatin in the late 1800’s, today’s marshmallow was born. In 1927, the Girl Scouts Handbook came out with a recipe for ‘Some More’ which quickly became ‘Smores’.

Graham crackers are made from Graham flour, which is named after it’s inventor Sylvester Graham who began making them in the 1830’s.

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies® debuted in 1927. Their Rice Krispies Marshmallow Treats® recipe was first advertised in 1940. It became a popular food for mailing to service people abroad.

Here is how you put all these things together to make this layered treat! You’ll need:
* 10 oz miniature or regular size marshmallows (2 cups miniature Marshmallows or about 30 large Marshmallows)
* 1/4 cup butter
* 5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
* 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
* 7 oz jar marshmallow creme (To make your own marshmallow cream, melt 30 large marshmallows with 2 tbsp light corn syrup)
* enough chocolate chips or chocolate bars to make the final layer (and to eat while you are cooking).

You’ll preheat your oven to 200 degrees and line a 10X15 pan or tray with parchment paper.
In a pot, combine the marshmallows with the butter. Heat and stir until well blended. Stir in the cereal and graham cracker crumbs.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread the marshmallow creme on top with a spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate on top. (By licking all the spoons, spatulas, and pots, you can do your initial quality testing…)

Place the pan in the oven or about two minutes, or until the chocolate melts. Remove from the oven and spread the chocolate. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Starting at one end, carefully roll the layered concoction up like a cinnamon roll. Peel the parchment paper away as you roll. Pinch the seam when you finish rolling.
Place seam side down, and refrigerate for half an hour, or until the chocolate has set. Slice and serve!

My other S’mores recipes are at How to Make S’Mores – Traditional and Super Simple

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Layered

Do You Love the Skin You’re In?

Did you see the unretouched photo of actress Jamie Lee Curtis in 2002?  It was taken when she was 43 years old. Jamie insisted the photographer, Andrew Eccles,  shoot her with no makeup, no manicure, no hair styling – wearing only an exercise bra and underwear. She did not want the photo altered in any way. She said this was her contribution to stopping the Hollywood Myth of what women are supposed to look like.

Of course, it isn’t just Hollywood that contributes to the myth. There is a Beauty Industry  with products and advertising to tell us how to make our hair, skin, teeth and clothes conform to some standard of beauty;  a Weight Loss Industry that tells us we are too fat; a Cosmetic Surgery Industry to turn back the hands of time, and an Exercise Industry that is often advertised as a way to improve our looks.

How big is the  ‘Myth of Perfection’ Industry? The Global Beauty Market (hair care, skin care, cosmetics, fragrances) is expected to reach $265 billion in 2017. The Weight Loss Industry in the U.S. (New Year’s resolution gym memberships, weight-loss programs, diet food programs) takes in $60 billion per year. The Global Cosmetic Surgery industry is currently worth over $20 billion. The American Teeth Whitening Industry is $11 billion a year.

What is Body Shaming? – Are You a Victim of It? Do you do it to yourself or others?

Body-shaming (criticizing yourself or others because of some aspect of physical appearance) can lead to a vicious cycle of judgment and criticism. Messages from the media and from each other often imply that we should want to change, that we should care about looking slimmer, smaller, and tanner. And if we don’t, we worry that we are at risk of being the target of someone else’s body-shaming comments.
– Erika Vargas, MA, Walden Eating Disorders –

It’s not anyone’s place to shame a woman’s figure because it doesn’t meet their own personal (possibly unrealistic) expectations. And yet it happens, again and again, all the time. Sometimes it’s brazen, but often it’s subtle. Body-shaming might not look the way you would imagine. It’s not always as obvious as calling someone too fat or too skinny — sometimes it’s the suggestion that a certain cut of clothing isn’t “flattering” on people built like you. Regardless of the form it takes, one thing that’s for certain is that there is still far, far too much of it.
– Hannah Westmoreland Murphy, Romper, Feb 1 2016 –

Are You Really ‘Too Fat’, or are you a Victim of an Overzealous Obesity Campaign?

Conversations about Obesity often lump the Overweight class in with the Obese Classes:

The 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey says “more than 60 percent of adults were overweight or obese, with 24 percent being overweight and 37 percent obese.” The US Surgeon General says: “The crisis is obesity. It’s the fastest-growing cause of disease and death in America. And it’s completely preventable. Nearly two out of every three Americans are overweight or obese.”

When Overweight and Obese data is lumped together like that, the statistics include everyone who is a few pounds overweight to everyone who is several hundred pounds overweight. It makes the statistics on Obesity very alarming, but not very accurate.

Ewes not fat, ewes fluffy

I don’t think there is an ‘epidemic’ of Overweight people. In Canada , folks in the BMI designation of overweight (but not obese) have formed about 35% of the population since at least 1978. Remember, people in the overweight category include athletes who have more muscle mass than couch potatoes, a rapidly aging population that gains weight as their muscle mass and rate of burning calories declines, and all the women who put on a few pounds with the birth of each child and isn’t ever going to be High School slim again. I think that if it wasn’t for the Diet and Weight Loss Industries, most overweight people would think they were about as Normal as the ones in the “Normal” BMI category.

There is increasing evidence too, that Overweight people are at no more risk of disease and death than Normal weight ones. The results of a study at the University of Manitoba echoes other studies that have found little evidence to support the accusations that people in the Overweight category are unhealthy.

A Picture Story

Here are images of Women’s bodies as they correlate to BMI (Body Mass Index.)

What is your reaction to the body shapes as you look at them from left to right? Is the emaciated body on the left in a size ‘0’ a better body to own than the one on the right in a size ’28’? From a long term health perspective – if both women exercise, eat properly and make good lifestyle choices – health outcomes could be similar.  Unfortunately, the two body types won’t have the same social acceptance.

Stand in front of the mirror, with no make-up or clothing on. Do you accept and love yourself for who you are?

The Beauty Industry doesn’t let us forget that skinny is beautiful, but fat isn’t. Yet, Kathy Bates, Aretha Franklin and Oprah Winfrey are just a few of the more famous voluptuous women who don’t let weight get in the way of ‘living large’.

Living Large Cocktail: ¼ Dreams, ¼ Goals, ¼ Action, ¼ Courage
– Kerstin Wyman, EzineArticles –

Turn your focus away from what you look like and toward how you feel. For instance, you may look in the mirror and think you need to lose 15 pounds. But are you eating right? Are you taking care of your body? Are you being gentle and self-supportive? Are you healthy? If you can answer yes to these questions, consider that good enough. True health isn’t about fitting into a certain size or losing the muffin top — it’s about cultivating an internal state that supports a glowing, confident, and happy “external” you.
– Dr. Sooji Rugh, mbg, Feb 4, 2014 –

Sad, Silent Coffee Machine

Eldest daughter and her family have been staying with us, on and off, for the past month.  This has not created any space continuum inconvenience to The Car Guy and I – The Red House is more than large enough (because it is the same house we raised a squabble of teens in). Two extra adults and two teenagers  – we left it to them to jostle for prime real estate to set up their internet command stations.

Our kitchen is spacious. It is more than capable of handling the extra cooks. The biggest difference was that the fridge filled and emptied on a daily, rather than weekly basis. Oh, and the dishwasher was often pressed into service twice a day.

But the workhorse, no, the single most essential appliance in the house, was the Coffee Machine. These people are fueled by liquid caffeine.

This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion… From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination’s orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink – for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.
– Honoré de Balzac, The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee –

Yesterday morning, The Car Guy and a very full Jeep transported the Daughter and her family to the airport to catch the first flight of many. They are starting a ten month, round the world adventure.

This morning it is eerily quiet and cold here at The Red House. The Coffee Machine hasn’t even been turned on, so after I photographed it I added the message I expect it would want to send to the coffee drinkers who have left it behind.

 coffee maker

The fridge door has only opened twice. The stack of dishes on the counter is hardly noticeable. The bathrooms are unoccupied – there is no water running. There are no voices chatting, no tap, tap, tap on multiple keyboards.

The weather has suddenly turned, and after months of dry heat, it is raining. Yesterday it was still summer. Today it is fall.

Missing the family, but life goes on…
Looking on the bright side, the Internet is a lot faster now that only two of us are connected…

Cabbage White Butterfly

In a past post, White Butterflies Hiding in a Hay Field, I wasn’t able to actually get a photo of the White Butterflies. They never came to rest long enough, or if they did stop, it was on the low growing flowers that I couldn’t see! Later, the butterflies were feeding on some flowers that were easily visible, so I finally got to capture their image. They are very skittish butterflies, however, and I had to stand well back and use a zoom lens.

They are Cabbage White Butterflies. They are described as being white butterflies with dark dots on their upper wings. Their underwings can be various shades of yellow.

This cabbage white is showing its age. Note how weathered and ragged the wings are getting!

Alberta Canada

The Cabbage butterfly was introduced to Quebec, Canada, from Europe in the 1860’s and has since spread throughout the continent.

Alberta Canada

While they are a delight to watch, especially if there are a lot of them fluttering through your yard, their caterpillars are the bane of gardeners – they eat members of the mustard family and this includes cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprout and cauliflower.

Alberta Canada

The Flutter Files
Common Name: Small Cabbage White Butterfly
Scientific Name: Pieris rapae
Native to: It was originally only in Europe. It was accidentally introduced into China (in 1989), North America (in 1860), Australia (in 1937) and New Zealand (in 1930)
Date Seen:  September 2011, August and September, 2017
Location: North East of Calgary, Alberta
Notes: These butterflies have a dark body with white wings. The upper wings have a charcoal to black band at the tip and a dark spot in the center of each upper wing. Males have one spot on each wing and females have two. Adult butterflies feed on flower nectar from a very wide array of plants including mustards, dandelion, red clover, asters, and mints.

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Weathered.