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Back to Work…

Not that I’ve actually been on vacation or anything so fun and relaxing. I’ve spent the last month or so focusing on “mining for new clients”, as they say. Who are they? And how does one go about the mining part? That’s what I’d like to know. That’s the art of marketing, and marketing yourself, in particular, I suppose. How many of you find that last one a bit of a challenge?

On another note, I have some great news. Over the past year, Tidings Editor-in-Chief and I have been developing ideas that will take both print and online versions of the magazine onto bigger and better things. We will be rolling them out slowing over the course of 2014. You’ll notice the first change with the new year’s first issue – a name change! Continue reading → Back to Work…

How to Read (More)

Point #1 is key for me. Scheduling reading time sounds silly, but it really does work!

Andrew & Sarabeth

Believe it or not, you have more time to read than you think. Here are some practical tips to help you work through that lengthy reading list.

On average, I read 2-4 books per month, but I’m just as busy as you are. I’m a husband, homeowner, 2x dog owner, blogger, itunes addict (which, you know can be quite time-consuming), I work full-time as a freelance editor and author, plus I have a part-time job, and on top of that, working through the process of adoption. So I’m pretty busy just like you. And just like you, I have a long reading list that I’m just dying to dig into (it’s over 100 books long). The most likely difference between you and me is that I am steadily making my way through it.

Jealous? Just follow my five simple tips and soon you’ll find yourself marking up…

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Top 3 Traits of a Good Writing Tutor

So, you’ve found yourself in a situation where, for one reason or another, you have to (or want to) improve your writing. Why not hire a writing tutor or take a class? Great idea! But, how do you know you’re getting your money’s worth. I suppose if, by the end of the session, you’re a better writer than you were, then you’ve succeeded.

I loved writing classes all the way through school and into university. I was the one who’d say (whether asked or not), My career goal is to write essays … forever! (Shout out to all the geeks out there. Do what you love!). Whether for fiction or non-fiction, I’ve taken some writing courses that were very practical and others that were, let’s say, useful in other ways, like a creative writing class in which we spent most of our time meditating and delving into each others’ past lives. Continue reading → Top 3 Traits of a Good Writing Tutor

The Dirty Truth About Winemaking

Some days I think I am insane to move from straight winemaking into the business side of things … I believe if you keep moving forward with your passion, eventually you will reach your goal. At least I hope so! Kevin Panagapka, Owner/Winemaker 2027 Cellars

Just imagine making your own wine. Sip and savour it while you gaze out over your very own expanse of vineyards. Host parties, eat great food, be one with the land. It’s certainly an idyllic thought. Winemaker Adam Delorme at The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery concurs. “Every spring you get to witness the miracle of life in the vineyard.” But reality isn’t always so picture perfect. Unpredictable weather, fickle consumers, the cost of equipment … all of these and more can wreak havoc on so noble a pursuit as winemaking. From an outsider’s point of view, it might seem that passion is all you need to make it work. Yet, John Bookwalter, Owner/Winemaker of Bookwalter Winery, admits that knowing how to make money might indeed be as necessary a talent.

So, should you throw caution to the wind and open your own winery? Do you have what it takes to succeed? I asked 12 wine producers to spill the nitty gritty truth about the wine biz. Continue reading → The Dirty Truth About Winemaking


raisinsUsually, at this time of year, I start to see packages of concord grapes lining shelves at my grocery store. Well, last week, there was a newcomer among those thick-skinned, purple grapes. I spotted a few packages of Coronation grapes. At a quick glance, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two varieties. But, they definitely taste different. The flavour of Concord is often described as “foxy”, that musty flavour that isn’t always pleasant. Coronation grapes lack that foxiness, which makes them a bit more flavourful and certainly sweeter. So, I couldn’t resist picking some up.

Find the rest in Chaos and Canapés on


jeffreywVariety is indeed the spice of our lives, and this allows us to really diversify with minimal additional effort. –Joel MacCharles

Let’s call it the persistence of imagination. We’ve all seen it, if not actually experienced it. It’s that unquenchable desire that drives a person to turn a passion for food, such as a love of chocolate, into something that explodes beyond the boundaries of their own kitchen walls. Maybe it’s a special jam recipe or homemade wine. Whatever the creation, before long others end up craving it, too. What begins as a simple food experiment meant to sate a personal hunger turns into something bigger — maybe even something lucrative. Connecting with people who relentlessly pursue the dictates of their taste buds is truly inspiring. There’s a vibe. Soon, their endless pursuit of flavour will have you believing that anything is possible. But who are these people? And why do they bother going to such lengths when all they need do is walk into a grocery store and find loads of products that are already there? Dan Luciani, a technology expert by day, Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison, who run, Angelo Bean, the Sausage King, and Jefferson Alvarez, executive chef at Vancouver’s Fraîche, had a ready answer for me: when passion takes hold, there is no turning back. Continue reading → Crave

Cantaloupe Calamity

cantaloupe-cocktailThere I was out for my weekly food shopping. Pushing my cart up and down the aisles, I couldn’t help but be drawn by the heady aroma of ripe cantaloupes. You know, I’d normally wait for the local ones to come in sometime in July. But, these smelled so good. How could I resist them? I picked each one up, weighed them in my hands, inhaled that musky aroma and put the best one in my cart. I couldn’t wait to cut into it. I bought one and brought it home.

I left the cantaloupe in its plastic bag on my kitchen counter to keep until Sunday when we were planning to have a barbecue. Did I mention shopping day was Friday? Oh, and did I mention that the stretch of days from Friday to Sunday were super hot and humid (i.e. 32°C feeling like 38°C)? I should have stored the cantaloupe in the fridge. Who knows why I didn’t put two and two together. All I can say is that it happens sometimes. It’s like a brain blip … or something. I probably thought it would just continue to ripen. Well, I wasn’t exactly wrong about that, was I? It’s just that I wasn’t completely right either. Continue reading → Cantaloupe Calamity

My Cherished Canadian Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Tarts

pumpin-pin-tartsThis summer, Valerie Lugonja over at A Canadian Foodie embarked on an interesting journey. She founded The Canadian Food Experience Project. Beginning June 7, 2013, participants are encouraged to share their stories about their own remarkable encounters with Canadian regional foods. By doing so, we can all gain a clearer perspective on what makes the Canadian culinary identity.

This month’s theme really gave me pause. What exactly is a Canadian recipe? What came immediately to mind under the heading of ‘Canadian’, after Saskatoon berry jam, was Ambrosia salad. Hmm, the former’s good; the latter, well, is not what I’d call a favourite. Is it something the pioneers would have made? But then, which pioneers – the English, the Ukrainians, the French and so many others? Don’t forget all the Native Canadians with their own special recipes. Continue reading → My Cherished Canadian Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Tarts

Oh, just this and that …

Ah, those demonstrative adjectives. They’re just trouble makers!

This is a little pet peeve of mine. Oops, did you catch it? I used the word ‘this’ to point to something, but I didn’t tell you what exactly I happened to be pointing to. Well, maybe I want to be mysterious; you know, lure you in a little before revealing what this pet peeve of mine actually is. Um … not really.

Here’s the answer: I like to see demonstrative adjectives followed by nouns. So, my sentence might have begun, “This common occurrence is a ….” Not doing so isn’t technically wrong, but it can make the reader confused about what, exactly, you’re referring to. I know I’m being picky, but I’ve read so many essays, articles, etc that let a demonstrative adjective stand all by its lonesome. But, before we can talk about why I’m peeved, let’s talk about what a demonstrative adjective actually is. Continue reading → Oh, just this and that …

My Robo Guy

robo-guyOh no – the robots are coming!

Just kidding … sort of.

The robots are actually already here. This little guy in the picture is a Robo Vacum made by Hog Wild Toys, though it is not, actually, a toy. My Robo Guy (as I call him because I haven’t thought of a name for him yet; if you come up with one, let me know.) is a mini vacuum. I picked him up when I dropped into the Robot Café in Port Dover, Ontario recently. It’s a really fun store (attached to a guitar store) that sells all kinds of toys, comic books and old record albums.

You know, whenever I see a new product on the market, one question always jumps to mind: what problem does it solve. If it doesn’t solve a real problem, then why would I buy it? Ditto if it doesn’t solve the problem well. So, I asked myself that exact question when I examined Robo Guy. Well, I just couldn’t think of a good answer. What can Robo Guy do that a damp cloth doesn’t do better? Well, it picks up crumbs (like a cloth). It’s quite the conversation piece (unlike a cloth). Robo Guy is not automated; but that’s a good thing. I’d hate to have to stand sentinel making sure it doesn’t tumble headlong off the edge of the table. After giving it some thought, one thing became perfectly clear: none of that mattered. It was cute, and I wanted it. Now, I feel like I have to justify having bought it. To that end, I share with you one of my crumbiest (in the best possible way) cookie recipes. These oatmeal cookies taste amazing, but you can’t eat them clandestinely. The trail of crumbs will give you away.

(Crumbly) Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups oats (instant)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla.
In another bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir well.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir until well combined. Add chocolate chips and stir.
Place rounded teaspoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.