Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fall Family Traditions

posted by Lee McKenzie and Janice Carter

Lee:
I’m thrilled to have Janice Carter join me here on the Harlequin Heartwarming Authors Blog. Janice and I have a lot in common, including our nationality. O Canada! This means we’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving (Monday, October 10th) so we’ve decided to share some of our fall family traditions and a recipe that’s a new twist on an autumn classic. Over to you, Janice.

Janice:
It’s a windy and chilly day as I write this post the last full week of October. Yesterday I briefly considered rummaging in my closet for my winter coat but the part of me that is in denial about winter’s approach held me back. I’m just not ready yet! I’ve never been a fan of winter even as a child. Growing up in southwest Ontario, Canada that led to many challenges once November kicked in. No, I don’t want to go skating. Can’t we play inside today, Mom? Excuse the weak pun, but it’s not cool being a sissy about winter here.

Yet I do love October, as ominous as the month can be. The bounty of the harvest, the brilliant foliage and even the slightly crisp nights when the moon is full and close to earth. So given my ambivalence about winter, why do I welcome October? I think for me the month is all about traditions connected with holidays and cultural folk lore. Canadian Thanksgiving, arbitrarily chosen as the second Monday in the month, is a big one for our family because we celebrate the holiday at our cottage on Garden Island, in the St. Lawrence. The whole community gathers on the Saturday night in the sail loft for a pot luck feast and every year we try to out-cook one another or keep people guessing—“who made that pear and parsnip casserole?”
Community Thanksgiving celebration on Garden Island
The next day we all gather again, this time for the annual pumpkin carving contest where the same competitive spirit is evident. Entrants are anonymous to avoid any whiff of favoritism though some nepotism secretly occurs.

Pumpkin carving competition on Garden Island
Perhaps traditions exist because we humans are a social group, loving our specific families and also tied to the larger cultural groups we belong to. We want and need those connections to continue long after our individual selves are gone and that’s why familial traditions are so important. We can create our personal stamp on the larger traditions we follow as a kind of insurance of permanence. My parents have passed away, but I still make my mother’s apple pie recipe and know my daughter will too, long after I’m gone. These smaller but no less important ‘traditions’ are comforting and a solace against the inevitability of time.

Ah yes, maybe I’ll give that winter coat an airing today—in preparation.

Lee:
Like Janice, I’m not a fan of winter but here on the West Coast, I’m bracing for the season in a different way, umbrella and rain boots at the ready. October has had its share of wet and windy days, but November is typically our wettest month. Luckily, the sombre skies and dreary days are offset by a landscape that stays green all year round. I can harvest kale and Swiss chard in December, and by January we look forward to the appearance of crocuses and snowdrops.

Didn’t you love Janice’s description of her community’s Thanksgiving celebration? At my house, the holiday is much more of a low-key affair. I spend a lot of time planning the menu and working on centerpieces. For the table, my inspiration started with an artichoke from the produce market. To that I added springs of bay and Sedum, and arranged them in a vintage milk glass footed bowl. I have now dried the organic bay leaves are organic and they’re in my pantry, awaiting winter soups and stews.

Artichoke and bay leaf centerpiece
My second and much simpler arrangement consisted of assorted squashes on a splay of bay laurel (non-edible) snipped from my neighbor’s hedge. I love milk glass because I find it a perfect backdrop for any color combination.

Squash and laurel leaf centerpiece
There was pumpkin pie for dessert, of course, but this year I prepared a new twist on this old classic. This vegan spiced pumpkin tart from Desiree Nielsen's website was not only delicious and super easy to make, it was a hit with everyone! Every last morsel was devoured and the only complaint was that there were no leftovers. (Hint: I used my food processor and the filling came out very smooth but if you have a Vitamix, then making this pie will be a piece of cake!)

Desiree Nielsen's Spiced Pumpkin Tart (photo used with permission)
Janice:
While not looking forward to winter, I am eager for the release of my first Heartwarming, sometime in early (I hope!) 2017.

Lee:
And I’m excited to share the cover of my January 2017 release, His Best Friend’s Wife, the second book in The Finnegan Sisters trilogy.


Thank you so much for joining us today. Until next time, happy reading!

Janice & Lee
@JaniceGCarter
@LeeMcWrites

35 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving stories and pictures, ladies, and best wishes with your upcoming releases!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! I love Thanksgiving...almost as much as Christmas :)

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    2. Thanks Kate - I'm excited about the release. The perfect antidote to winter, perhaps.

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  2. I enjoyed the post! And that tart looks delicious!

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    1. The tart was scrumptious, Liz. This weekend I'll be making two more to take to a Halloween potluck.

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    2. It's always fun writing about what we love, isn't it? Thanks Liz!

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  3. I loved reading about your fall traditions. Thanks for sharing. Here in southern Arizona, we have all the trappings of autumn, but not the weather. It's still in the 90's every day. Hope it cools off before it's time to roast a turkey!

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    1. LOL, Patricia! I wouldn't want to be roasting a turkey in 90-degree weather, either. Would not complain about the sunshine, though!

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    2. Ummm, roast turkey in 90 degrees? You must be a real lover of tradition, Patricia. Do you have an outdoor oven? But I like that determination!

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  5. Fun post, Ladies! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Your post got me thinking about how I could so easily celebrate it twice. Next year, I'd really like to spend Thanksgiving on Garden Island. And then I could be back in the states in plenty of time to celebrate our US Thanksgiving here(;

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    1. Hmmm...a Heartwarming Thanksgiving on Garden Island. I wonder what Janice will think of that idea :)

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    2. I like that idea Carol. It would be fun to meet a Heartwarming author in person! And who could complain about two Thanksgivings!

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  6. I love hearing about everyone's traditions. It's just so nice and satisfying to have them passed down from generation to generation. And Lee, love the squash centerpiece. Very nice. I can't believe Thanksgiving is so close at hand. Need to get busy holiday shopping for sure.

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    1. Roz, I can't believe the holidays are almost here. And here's a not-so-secret confession: I can't wait to see houses lit up and Christmas decorations in the stores. It's hands-down my favorite time of year!

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    2. I'm happy to have some time before Thanksgiving and Christmas (with Halloween intervening!) Roz, because I'm so bad at decorating (unlike my blog partner) that I'll have lots of time to browse through stores for ready made trimmings.

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  7. The only time I've been in Canada has been beautiful warm weather in the summer. I can't imagine living there through a winter. Wonderful traditions. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I live in southwest Ontario and winters here are relatively mild compared to the east coast or the north, Marion. So I guess I really am a baby about them!

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    2. Marion, one of my favorite things about winter here on southern Vancouver Island is walking on the beach and gazing across the strait at the snow on the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. So beautiful, and the snow and I are exactly where we're meant to be!

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  8. Janice and Lee - love your photos and your stories! I got up this morning thinking there are only 2 (count them, two!) months until Christmas. I know I'm always teasing you guys about that on the 25th of the month - but it's scarily close! I also love Thanksgiving and am with Carol. I think we should all invade you for next Canadian Thanksgiving, then bring you home with us for ours. I loved the Minions pumpkin, and the artichoke centerpiece! I hate them as food, but love them as interesting looking and prime for decorating with. Congratulations on your books, and a really fun way to begin my day!

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    1. Thank you Muriel and an invasion of Heartwarming authors would be fun!

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    2. Muriel, it'll be like a Thanksgiving double date. Great idea!

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    1. Thanks Cynthia. There are always photo ops on Garden Island!

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  10. Janice, congratulations on your first Heartwarming. Your celebration on Garden Island sounds wonderful. And Lee, you are a true artist with your centerpieces. Thanks for sharing, ladies.

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    1. Thanks for the congrats Linda. It's great to be in such a lovely 'club'!

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    2. Aw, Linda! Thank you! I'm not sure about the true artist part, but I do like to dabble :)

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  11. Congrats, Janice, on your first Heartwarming. I loved reading about your Thanksgiving celebrations! I am so not ready for winter. But like you, I do love October. And Christmas. With no deadline right around the corner, this year I'm going to enjoy Christmas this year!

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    1. Thank you so much Patricia! And now that I've just made my deadline, I too can look forward to Christmas. That will be celebrated at home in Toronto as our island place is closed up until spring. But I'll get to enjoy central heating here!

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    2. You're both kindred spirits. I love Christmas and I'm already looking forward to seeing homes lit up at night, listening to carols, planning my holiday menus...

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  12. A minion pumpkin!!!! Oh, cool beans, I'm going to make one.
    Janice, congrats on the first Heartwarming.
    Lee, doing centerpieces is on my bucket list. I love seeing good examples.

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    1. Thanks Pamela! It's been very exciting selling and writing my first Heartwarming. If you make that minion pumpkin, post a pic of it somewhere!

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    2. Pamela, be sure to share pictures of your centerpieces, too! Today I've shared a photo on Facebook of a flower arrangement I made for my DIL and granddaughter's baby shower. If you have a chance to check it out, let me know what you think :)

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