January 7, 2016

Making Pies in 2016

by Sonia Ribaux

Happy New Year to all my readers! I wish you all health and laughter for 2016.

Last year in the spirit of keeping New Year’s resolutions short and simple, I selected six resolutions (see Resolve!). I can report that I did quite well on four of them. Drinking more green tea was easier than I thought when I discovered the Toasted Walnut flavour from David’s Tea. Delicious! I found great products from Avon to pamper my hands and feet (see especially Avon Foot Works) so I can report smoothness there. Eating more seeds? No problem. I found a scrumptious recipe for granola bars from a food site I love called Oh She Glows. The only problem with these is that it’s hard to eat just one, or two. Here is the recipe: Feel Good Hearty Granola Bars. I also wanted to have more opera in my life and this was easily accomplished as I discovered the beauty of operas. The two resolutions that I missed were “Buy no more books” and “Play more games.” Yikes! I will keep working on these.

I figure that six resolutions is too much. This year my three resolutions for 2016 are:

  1. Learn to make pie.
    My mom makes great apple pie and I think it’s time that I learned to do the same so that people will say “Sonia’s pies are always so delicious.”
  2. Preserve the recipes.
    Like most people I have a treasure of recipes given to me by friends, family or cut out from magazines over many years. Most are stained, fraying on the edges and sometimes burned. I often forget about them or can’t find them when I look for them. No more! My recipe folder is getting organized (and digitalized) in 2016.
  3. Photograph food.
    Have you noticed that all my resolutions are related to food? I find it hard to trek outside with my camera in the winter. I love to photograph food so I resolve to do it more often. It has the added benefit that you can snack as you’re snapping. Maybe I’ll photograph the pies…

Here are a few of my favourite photos from 2015.

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At the Jazz Festival in Montreux

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October 15, 2015

Espelette

by Sonia Ribaux

Espelette is a small village in the Basque region of France, about 10 km from the Spanish border. Espelette is renowned for its peppers and for those of you who cook, you will know that many Basque recipes call for poivre d’Espelette. They are not very hot but they have a little kick and a whole lot of flavour.

The peppers are hung to dry outside many of the houses of the village during the summer and are honoured in a festival on the last Sunday in October.

My friend Stéphane brought me some Espelette peppers from Jean Talon Market this week. I suspect these are not from France so they don’t have the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée seal, but they are delicious and so beautiful.

I strung some up to dry and then will grind them to a powder. That’s the plan anyway, I’ve never tried. Others I cut into thin slices and put them in the freezer. And of course, I had to photograph them.

The very last photo was taken by my friend Marilynne when she was in Espelette this summer.

P.S. Miss Colette had to see what was happening. She never misses an opportunity to be in front of the camera.

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October 4, 2015

Manitou

by Sonia Ribaux

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The crisp October breeze across the lake

The dark green cover flecked with red

The earthy walk in a mossy forest;

My nature spirit wakes up and smiles.

The warmth of hearth for chilly hands

The bubbly wine for toasting hosts

The hearty soup made with love;

My living spirit stands up and cheers.

The gift of time for meandering talks

The blessings of friendships old and new

Comfort settles on the mind;

My heart spirit sighs and glows.

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August 28, 2015

Speaking Italian

by Sonia Ribaux

Every time I’ve gone to Switzerland, I visited the Italian part called Ticino. I love the architecture, hearing Italian spoken on the street and the scrumptious food you find there. When David and I went to Ticino this summer, in Lugano at the southernmost tip of Switzerland, it was hot. During the day the temperature rose to 40 C (105 F) and although the nights were cooler, we didn’t get much relief. Most places are not air-conditioned and although our apartment overlooked beautiful Lake Lugano, there was very little breeze. It seemed my hair was always wet, from showering, swimming or just sweating. We took a long boat tour on the lake with a quick shopping stop in Italy and on another day we took the funicular up to Monte Brè for a spectacular view of the lake and surrounding areas. We did our best to see as much as we could.

After a few days we were exhausted from the heat and lack of sleep. In a desperate attempt to cool off, we decided to go see a movie. We didn’t care much which movie, as long as the cinema was air-conditioned. We ended up seeing Jurassic World, in Italian. As you can imagine, language does not play a big part in this kind of movie. We understood everything. It was lovely. Now I feel like I can speak Italian.

Here are some photos from our stay in Lugano.

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August 1, 2015

Made for Chocolate

by Sonia Ribaux

The last time I published a blog it was Canada Day. Today is Swiss National Day, a celebration of my second citizenship. David and I just returned from spending three weeks in Switzerland. We had a great time. What is there not to love about a country where you can buy fantastic bread anywhere (even the train station), scrumptious cheese, inexpensive wine (that’s the only thing that was inexpensive) and chocolate, lots of chocolate. I was made for this diet.

Another Swiss passion, perhaps not as well known, is flowers. The Swiss love to put flowers in every possible nook and cranny, on their houses, their barns, the tool sheds, water fountains, wherever. When I was on a train I saw red geraniums on the back of a wood shed —put there it seems, just for the pleasure of the passengers on the train. So Swiss.

So, I invite you to celebrate Switzerland today by having some chocolate, or cheese or wine or all three.

Cheers!

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July 1, 2015

Seeing Red: Battle of the Canons!

by Sonia Ribaux

First, happy Canada Day for all those of you who are celebrating living in the best country in the world.

My inspiration for today’s blog comes from a cooking blog I subscribe to called Oh She Glows (ohsheglows.com). I love this blog for the photos and the casual, intimate writing of cookbook author Angela Liddon. She is a vegan cook but her recipes are so appetizing, even the most carnivorous find them mouth-watering. I highly recommend it. The most recent blog featured red fruit, a photographer’s muse (and an appropriate colour theme for Canada Day.)

My second inspiration is my new camera. I wasn’t planning on buying one, but David and I are traveling to Switzerland this summer and after much internal turmoil, I decided that I would leave my DSLR Canon at home. It’s just too heavy to carry while traipsing through the alps. I bought a Canon PowerShot SX 60 HS. Just for fun, I thought I’d do a comparison test with my two cameras with the red fruit. Both are Canon cameras and because they have similar names, I’ve called them Small Canon for the new PowerShot and Big Canon for the DSLR.

As far as the colour red is concerned, the Small Canon held its own three times out of four. Not bad at all.

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May 25, 2015

Where Have All the Tulips Gone?

by Sonia Ribaux

IMG_3334Did anyone see spring this year? I certainly missed it. After the long and cold winter, I felt like I would spend all my time outside when spring finally came. Instead I found myself working long hours and spending too much time in front of the computer. Spring is notoriously short in Quebec. One moment it’s snowing and the next it’s a heat wave. I remember my tulips starting to poke through a few weeks ago and the next thing you know, they’re wilting.

Still, I find tulips attractive at the end of their lives. Sure, the bright colours and silky texture of fresh tulips is flashy but when they are near the end they reveal their more complex interiors which are very interesting to photograph.

Here are some shots of my tulips. I should tell you that I have a new macro lens. From now on, everything will be really up close.

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March 15, 2015

Seven Barns and a Raccoon

by Sonia Ribaux

Last Friday I went to visit my mom in the Eastern Townships. When I go there it’s always about the destination, not the journey. My goal is always to get there fast. I know the shortest routes (worked out by my father years ago) and the best roads to take in winter or summer. I know when the bridge off the Island of Montreal is most likely to be busy at different times of the day and year and when to avoid the worst of road construction. Every time I drive to see my mom, especially now that my dad has passed away, I wish we lived closer.

On Friday morning I finished off some work I had to do and I found myself ready to leave earlier than planned. This almost never happens. I decided to take my camera and stop off to photograph some barns on the way. I’ve seen these barns in all seasons and in different types of light over the years. I always find them beautiful but I also know that I’m not good at this type of photography. You know me, I’m not happy unless my lens is two inches from my subject.

So I stopped the car along the country roads and took photos of barns. Most of these are familiar to me, and I had photographed some before, but after a while I started exploring other roads that I’d never been on and found new barns! I found this so relaxing. By the time I arrived I was completely Zen. I guess I’m a slow learner. I should know by now how it makes me feel when I attend to my creative needs. Oh well.

I’m not entirely satisfied with these photos (although some might make good paintings) but the journey sure was great.

P.S. I met a few animals along the way, mostly dogs that wanted to devour me, and one little critter that wanted to be photographed.

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March 3, 2015

Knitting Gone Wild

by Sonia Ribaux

What do you think of when you think of knitting? Do you love it? Do you wonder how people can move those needles without hurting themselves? Does it bring back fond memories of your childhood snowflake sweater with the reindeers?
I mentioned in my last blog that I had been to a knitting show. It was hosted by a local yarn store and my friends and I were not quite sure what to expect. Would we be watching someone knit? Would there be a competition of fast knitters? What should one wear for a knitting show?
The “show” part of the event was StevenBe, a textile artist, rock star knitter, Queen bee, all-around fun guy, owner of a yarn shop/textile salon/knitting school/party central in Minneapolis. He and his partner (Stephen with a ph) have been touring North America. The “knitting” part of the event was a display of their knitted creations and yarn products so beautiful that they could make even non-knitters salivate. I found their creations to be most interesting. About a third of them were little masterpieces; another third were unusual but attractive –something someone with a more bohemian approach to style than me could pull off –and the last third were frankly too bizarre for me.
I found the whole experience to be very inspiring. One thing our host said in particular struck me. He suggested that people should start knitting and make up the patterns as they go along. Imagine! Knitting without a pattern! Instead of the monotonous knit-purl-knit-purl, I could just knit away to my heart’s content and create something absolutely original. Well, someone could, maybe not me.
I like to knit but I’m not a good knitter. When I was younger I knitted and wore the results but they always had a clearly homemade look that I now shy away from. But now that I’ve been given the liberty to knit without rules, I’m going to take a whole new approach. I will no longer create “homemade sweaters” but rather “hand-crafted textile creations”. My new slogan will be Knit for Freedom. Thanks for the inspiration StevenBe.
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Had I known what to expect, I would have brought my camera, but I didn’t. These photos are from my archives from a previous visit to the yarn shop.

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February 20, 2015

Street Scenes

by Sonia Ribaux

Last weekend was especially busy. On Friday night my brother took me to a play. On Saturday afternoon we went to an exhibit of erotic art where my friend Grace was showing her work. Saturday night saw us at the Oscar Peterson hall for a concert on the roots of rock and roll and Sunday I attended a knitting show. (If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry neither did I. More about this in another blog.)

It was a fun and inspiring weekend. I was especially inspired by my friend Grace. She was somewhat hesitant about showing her work because of the intimate nature of the pieces. Grace is very creative and artistic in everything she does but she doesn’t usually participate in shows. I was very impressed that she put together these pieces and and submitted them to the show’s curator. I didn’t know what to expect but I found her work to be among the best of the seven or eight artists there.

While I was at the show, I thought of some photos I took two years ago but never published (no, they are not erotic). Why did these photos pop into my head at that moment? I really like those photos that I took with my phone while waiting for the bus on a rainy December night, but they are very different from the pretty photos I usually publish on my blog. I guess the lesson I learned from Grace is to just take a chance. Apparently, this is a lesson I have to learn over and over again.

I’m going to print some of these photos and create a triptych but I need your help. Which three would work together? I’ve numbered the photos so that you can tell me your favourites.

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