Aggregate \Ag"gre*gate\, a. [L. aggregatus, p. p.]

Formed by a collection of particulars into a whole mass or sum; collective. To bring together. Syn: To heap up; accumulate; pile; collect.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Throwback

After meeting some pretty incredible women here in Rossland due entirely to having two wonderful poppets, I thought I would re post this article from June. I wrote it with my heart open, and expectation high, a few weeks before the actual move itself. 

Baby Mommas

There are always been those BIG moments in life when one worries about making new friends. For example changing schools or, ahem, moving.  

Making new friends is something I have taken for granted in the past. Always being in one form of institution or another, the same people day after day, has its advantages. In retrospect school is sort of a give in the friend-making department. Thrust amongst a thousand peers for years one is bound to find at least one like-minded individual. Extra-curricular activities from K-12 are the proverbial friend-making icing, being a concentrated pool of similarities and shared interest.

After graduating from University and moving out of the city where I grew up I found myself, for the first time, with no real friend generating systems. I had to pursue friend-making. It was hard. There was more baggage. Ugh. But then something miraculous happened. I pushed out a baby!!!

Having children have afforded me that coveted "in". Babies are like an institution in and of themselves.  I find spending hours on playgrounds and in playdates fosters discussion and openness with my new peers. Suddenly making friends seemed easy again. We swapped poop stories and labour tales, shared laughter and tears. The walls came down and I have become friends with some incredible women. Women whom I will miss dearly, but are the special kind of friends that no time nor distance seems to pass between.

I am banking on Jack and Isla to get me through the Mommy-door in Rossland! They really are great little icebreakers and the kids are still at that invaluable age when my friends children are their best friends as well.  I know this luxury will end one day soon when Jack and Isla begin making their own friends, but by then I should be well imbibed in Rossland mommy-culture!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

8 Minutes

Saturday morning. The imminent trip to the Pumpkin Patch looms in the near future.

8:00am: Kids have been up for an hour (inherently I have been as well!)

8:30am: Dogs have been fed, watered and relieved.

8:50am: Kids have been fed, watered, dressed and mostly brushed.

8:55am: I duck away to Twitter quickly about the name, location and other pertinent info regarding the day trip we have planned.

9:00am: The ladies we will be carpooling with arrive on our doorstep with wonderfully appreciated punctuality.

9:01am: I can hear my husband offering coffee to our guests as he returns inside from puttering somewhere outside.

9:02am: Michael exclaims, "what is that smell?".  I logout and head downstairs.

9:03am: I round the corner into the hallway to discover on my right; my son stripped naked in the washroom, and on my left; that Velma has shat all over the living room rug. Two things are apparent:
1. Clothing hinders ones progress on the pot and 2. Velma still is not feeling well.

Eight minutes. It took a grand total of eight minutes for the household to self-destruct. I hear myself saying, "Remember 10 minutes ago when we were all ready to go?!" I get the sinking feeling our ride-mates are regretting their timeliness.

The wonderful thing about beginning your day on a low note is that there is no where to go but up!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Homage Monday - Trish Dyer

Trish Dyer - Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company
London Fog
Trish Dyer is a Chocolatier. The sheer declaration that you are a chocolatier is weighty one.  Upon hearing this fantastical word my heart quickens and the corners of my mouth turn upward. I must admit I feel a bit like I am in a fairy tale to say I know a real Chocolatier! It is no small feat to harness the magic and potential that chocolate carries within itself - for many cannot. As an artist Trish boasts the uncanny ability to take a good thing and make it better. To take a dark shapeless mass and transform it into an exquisite, whimsical delicacy.  

Starry Night
Here in the picturesque Monashee Mountains Trish is inspired to create. She is rooted here and draws from the land where she herself has grown. Among the local organic ingredients she uses are Rossland garlic, Oso Negro Coffee roasted in Nelson,  and honey from the Creston valley. Trish is a local artist who actively supports other local industry. She is an avid gardener who is passionate about real-food and a believer in the roles of the baker,  the butcher,  and the candlestick maker. Her creations are really an extension of her person; lively, exciting, complex, mischievous and fun.
Most recently Les Dames d'Escoffier awarded their prestigious scholarship to Trish in recognition of her work and a fellow blogger and foodie The Well-Tempered Chocolatier sought out the Nugget on a trip to Rossland. 
If you happen through our happy little town the shop is a MUST! And if you are unable to make it to Rossland then you are in luck because Trish is making the rounds, peddling her rich morsels at fairs and festivals around BC. 
Be sure to Follow the Mountain Nugget on Facebook so you don't miss a thing!

Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company
2076 Columbia Avenue
Rossland, BC


Friday, September 24, 2010

Harvest Moon...

This years Fall Equinox and the Harvest moon happily converged. It really was stunning if you got a chance to see it. I mean, it looked like daylight outside despite the setting of the sun hours before, and it is not going to happen again until 2029.

The leaves here are turning. Bright red, yellow and orange - and I have crocuses blooming in the garden, is that normal?! Anyhoo, it really has put me into an Autumn state of mind. I am presently digging out my fall wreath and tomorrow we are headed to the Spencer Hill Orchard and Gallery in Grand Forks for the Apple Festival to grab some pumpkins and homemade apple juice.  Mmm pumpkin patchy apple juice :)

Buying pumpkins now and trying to keep them through the month can be difficult. Last year my friend Jo (who carries the Martha Stewart gene) passed along a super trick, that I am now passing along to you!

Preserving Your Pumpkin:
Fill you kitchen sink (or another deep basin) with cold water. 
Add 1 cup of Bleach
Submerge Pumpkin (or other lovely gourd-licious decoration) fully.
Let soak for 1 hour.
Pumpkin can be resoaked closer to carving time to ensure no mildew or mold!

It worked like gangbusters! The pumpkins I had last year lasted so long I was beginning to wonder if they had cured all the way through. I thought, "Great, I won't have to do this again! I'll just store these and reuse them every year!" But when I started decorating for Christmas in the first week of November (I know, I know, but it is a season people!) I put them outside and a squirrel ate them. Oops. Obviously I am starting from scratch this year, but it is too much fun to skip!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On the Road Again...

For the past ten years my husband and I have shuttled back and forth from the Coast of BC to visit our loved ones in Calgary. From Vancouver, the journey always begins in the wee hours of the morning, travels through several majestic ranges, up and down passes hemmed in by picturesque mountains, then we are finally pushed out into the breathtaking Big Sky Country that is Alberta.

It is a remarkable trip that we have down to an unremarkable science. He drives, we sleep (which is a nice change from "Isla screams").  We drive from full to fumes, sometimes rolling into gas stations just to make the very best time we can. Before kids the trip took around ten hours. After, it could take upwards of twelve. Rossland is smack in the middle, almost a perfect 600km bisector between Vancouver and Calgary. It now,  in theory, takes half as long to get to either end.

I always envy my dear friend who stops. She stops in Osoyoos and lets the kids play a round at the mini golf. She stops at parks and she lets the kids out to play, completely disregarding how this effects the "time" she is making from point A to point B. As much as I "know" life is about the journey and not the destination somehow I never was able to make the literal jump!  We decided to stop and smell the proverbial roses.
Frank Slide sits at the foot of Turtle Mountain and neither Mike or I had visited the site for the better part of two decades. We left the dogs in the truck and went in with the kids to the lovely new interpretive centre. It was a wonderful digression. We watched documentary films, played with touchable exhibits, read heaps of first hand accounts and relearned about this historic, and preventable tragedy.

90 minutes later we returned to the vehicle ready and eager to get back on the road. Mike opened the door and was met with a terrible stench. Velma had unleashed an epic and entirely preventable tragedy of her own. We had left her out of her kennel. It was all over Isla's car seat and everything surrounding it. Not unlike most trips into the city we were returning at capacity and the kennel needed to be collapsed to fit Santa's booty into the wayback. That was a mistake. The mess only seemed to have hit porous, absorbant surfaces. Ughhh. I think we used an entire box of baby wipes to little or no avail. We lamented the remaining hours in the reek. As it turns out, nothing gets rid of that new car smell like a dog with diarrhea.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - And the Nominee... me!!!!!

So not really a Wordless Wednesday at all, but instead, after my extended weekend I was thrilled to find the following message in my inbox:

"I just wanted to let you know that ag.gray.gate has been nominated in the Best New Weblog, Best Written, and Life categories of the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards!"

YAY!!!! Great news, right?! How fun! Thank you soooooooooooooo much!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Who Me?

I know that there are a million of these that float around in the Blogging sphere, but I must admit it feels pretty darn special when someone passed one along to me. Because, despite there being a gazillion Blog Awards out there, there are even more blogs that they could be given to. So thank you to Jamie at Avant Garde Parenting for gifting me, whom you have never met, based solely on the content here at ag.gray.gate. I am glad I was able to make you smile!

Here are the 5 blogs that I choose to pass this award forward to:

Jessa@ La Belle Vie : This talented designer, surrounding herself with pretty things on her journey into motherhood, bares soul as she her invites you into her home, her hopes and her dreams.

Leah@ Keepin' it Leal : Also an immensely talented designer is dangerously hysterical puts the best face possible on the "women are funny too" campaign that we are unfortunately fighting (I know that you could never post this award on your blog, but I am giving it to you anyway. You more than deserve it!)

Marzena@ Babies and Bruschetta : This brave Momma, for having the courage to move your family half way around the world and share it all with us!

Wendy@ Give Love Create Happiness : Because you inspired me to write this blog in the first place.

The Ladies of 'R' Town@ 'R' Town Stories & Blogs : A communal blog by the wonderful moms living in community. Thanks for your candour. Keep writing ladies!

Please take a minute to stop by one or all of these fabulous blogs - you will not be disappointed! 

Now, last but not least, I the final part of winning this award is to answer the question: 
If you could go back and change one thing what would it be?

There have been times when I would have been hard pressed to choose just one thing. But I have come to realize the answer is nothing. I would not change a thing. I am my choices. I am my experiences. So yes there is embarrassment, guilt, loss, anger, and (gulp) unforgiveness, but I am still learning. I am the best me I can be. I am the sum of my parts, even the ugly ones - and I am not finished. 

Thank you so very much for being here, I appreciate it more than words can say. Have a wonderful weekend. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Public Shaming...

About a week ago I was reading a wonderful post on Avant Garde Parenting about unsolicited parenting advice. I was immediately reminded of a terrible, awful, no good very bad experience I had before having even pushed the first baby out. Unsolicited indeed.

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, despite my advanced age of 27 ;), I looked about 18. I was almost two weeks overdue, cranky, uncomfortable and trying to walk that kid out of me. I passed by a patio teeming with peeps. A lady literally stood up, pointed at me, and declared to her audience, "Look at this young one...PREGNANT!"

I was shocked. Hurt. Embarrassed. Although I needn't have been any of these. I thought, what if I was 16, husbandless and pregnant? What was a public shaming going to help? When has a public shaming ever been the catalyst for a heart-warming life-altering experience for either the shamer or the shamee?!! 

Well, all decorum flew out the window. My mother, having been in town for 3 weeks awaiting the imminent arrival of this grandchild (who was now without a doubt taking some sort of long distance learning course from the comfort of my uterus because he sure as shooting was NOT COMING OUT!) had to hold me back because I wanted to physically damage this woman. 

The rest is just a blur. Though I do know there was no melee. No throw down. To this day I wonder what inspires people to publicly shame others. I don't mean a roast or a well meaning albeit inebriated wedding guest, but a stranger. I don't think I'll ever get it.

Jack eventually did come out by the way, and he was well worth the wait.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Apparently I have been living under a rock. It took a trend on Twitter for me to Google a term that I have never heard before - Shana Tova.  I must confess I feel a bit of a fool writing this for all to see, I mean how does something like this slip through one's radar? Millions of people celebrate Rosh Hashana wishing one another blessings for the New Year with "Shana Tova". How have I known about Rosh Hashana (which according to Jewish faith, they have only been celebrating since the creation of man!) but not, not ever, Shana Tova. Good grief. Like I said, a rock, a big one I guess.

Anyhoo. The revelation of Shana Tova coincided with my usual Fall reverie. Every fall I wonder why this is not the "new year". If I am honest I have never been exactly thrilled by the festivities of Dec. 31. I am a terrible homebody and I find the traditional New Year night on the town dinner, dancing and drinking overpriced and underwhelming. January 1st looks and feels exactly the same as the day before, except I didn't go to bed early enough to get in a good ski day! But the Fall - I feel differently about the Fall.
 Here in Canada, Summer is falling off giving way to a New Season. A great preparation gets under way. Farmers and gardeners make ready the harvest as the earth goes dormant. Fall sounds different. The crunching of leaves beneath my feet. Storm windows go up (I know, I know, but our house was built in 1940 and we haven't put in new windows as of yet :S) there are fall fairs, canning, a new wardrobe, and new routines. I find it difficult not to make resolutions now.

Just as the Spring smells like rebirth, the Fall is scented with expectation. The Summer scatters us to play, and the Fall gathers us together again. The days grow shorter and we, as a family and a community, draw closer once more. We prepare for the season of celebration Winter brings.

L' shana tova everyone.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homage Monday - Alyson Johnson

Alyson Johnson - 
When you see me bombing around town wearing this stunning piece of art around my neck and you ask where I got it, I'll tell you that my friend made it, and this is to whom I am referring. 

Aly Johnson has what it takes to make it in the financial world: smarts, grace, and mucho patience for man-babies parading around in business suits. The very skills, as it turns out, that are required to raise her two beautiful mensa-esque children, not that they are man babies, but they do parade around in their birthday suits! Having children changed Aly. Despite her prowess with the man-babies she discovered she would much rather teach her children well. This meant they needed to see her pursuing her dream not chasing her tail. Just like many of us Aly has had a few, "when one door closes, another is opened" moments, however what makes this dear friend exceptional is her Dorothy-like courage to move from monochrome into Technicolor.

But Dorothy was only dreaming and Aly is living her dream out loud. She has taken a hobby of 11 years and for the first time this past year, through her perseverance and strength of spirit,  she has made it into her full time job. In fact her burgeoning home-based industry is bursting at the seams and is in the process of branching out, maybe even in to your home
Aly has been featured in Island Child Magazine, as well as being listed as a designer to watch by Portobello West in Vancouver. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Victoria you can witness the mouthwatering glamour in person by visiting Brandi Wein for Hair and there is even a coupon (have I mentioned my L-O-V-E of coupons!) in Mamma Mia's Coupon Book 

Aly's designs are at once inspired and inspirational, flirtatious and sophisticated, lively and feminine - they are breathtakingly beautiful. Visit

Photography by Ashely Devaney and Alyson Johnson and is not to be used without prior permission 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Guest Post - Brandie Weikle

I am thrilled to present the first guest post on ag.gray.gate! Brandie Weikle was featured earlier this week in the Artist Homage and without further adieu here is her article itself:

The kids are heading back to school this week, and I can’t help but yearn for some of that same newness that September brings when you’re young. Nervous tummies aside, who can forget the sense of possibility that came with that backpack of empty duo-tangs?

I took each of my boys, Cameron, 7, and little Alister, 3, on separate walks down to the little stationary shop on Bloor this weekend. My little guy is bound for Montessori school and in need of his first pencil case. And my first-born, now a “Grade Two-er,” needed the ritual purchase of new pencils, sharpener and glue stick, almost as much as he needed the reassurance that he was tall enough for second grade.
I’d love some new school supplies almost as much as a pair of nude platform pumps to complement my fall wardrobe. But while I don’t need a new binder (or, I guess, even the shoes - drat) I can satisfy that yearning with art supplies. So, I got a few new drawing pencils this weekend.

Because I’ve spent my whole career in journalism, and consider myself the most beginner of visual artists, it was a surprise when my sister wanted to feature me on her blog’s new weekly artist homage (secretly I’m thinking she was running out of people) and have me guest post the next day.
But then I got to thinking that maybe the subject of art doesn’t have to be that far off my usually parenting beat (I edit two websites for the Toronto Star, and write about a blog about parenting). All kids make art and all parents are capable of making art with their children.

When I was a little girl I was apparently quite easy to entertain with paper and crayons. I was forever trying to make snow globes out of jam jars and tiny bits of crumpled-up tin foil. I entered earnest little portraits of my best friend in the country fair. I painted posters to announce the rec-room premieres of my most recent plays.

Paintings by two grandparents decorated the walls of my homes growing up. In addition, we were also cottage neighbours (though we call them cabins no matter what their size out west) with artist/activist Wallis Kendal 

My most vivid memories of his artwork are of the canvasses that depicted what he saw on his trips to some of the most underdeveloped parts of the world. But artistically he’s now best known for his collaboration with Sandra Bromley on the Gun Sculpture, an anti-violence installation made of 7,000 decommissioned weapons that has been exhibited around the world, including at the UN headquarters in New York and at the Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Peace Prize in Seoul, South Korea.

Wallis would occupy us on rainy days with papier mache projects, kept up an elaborate fantasy that there were elves in the forest surrounding the lake who we just missed meeting because it was bedtime, and let us make banana peel ice cream for a “gross-out” party. (Everyone should have an eccentric artist or two in their upbringing.)
When I was a teenager Wallis took me to buy my first proper camera, a second-hand Pentax K-1000. Then we tromped around Edmonton’s Fringe Festival so I could photograph all the colourful buskers and artists. I felt like SUCH a serious photo-journalist.
I can’t bring his artistic ability to the table, but I do cover mine in newsprint and bring the kids and their friends there to work with paint brushes, acrylic paints and canvasses that make them feel like real-deal artists.
We have kind of an awesome time.

No matter how big you are, you get to create.

We’re working on a gallery in our basement stairwell.

Doesn’t just looking at these supplies make you want to give it a go yourself?
I’m quite sure that the kid in you will look at a blank canvass and appreciate the possibilities.

Not a bad metaphor for life, really.

-Brandie Weikle

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Homage Monday - Brandie Weikle

Today I have the honour of featuring one of my favourite artists, Brandie Weikle. Brandie is an immensely talented and ambitious writer, the fantastic mother of two young boys, helplessly beautiful,  a gifted painter, foodie, design guru, and brilliant as all get out. Brandie is also my sister, I simply adore her.

In Brandie's own words,"I am an online and print journalist with specialties in parenting and health. Currently I'm the editor of two of the Toronto Star's specialty websites, and I decided to be a journalist in about grade 10 or 11, after I started writing for my school newspaper. But the very first thing I ever wanted to be when I was a wee girl was "an artist." In high school I discovered that I didn't have the drawing skills for art or architecture as a profession, but I continued to have an aesthetic yearning for the whole paint and canvass experience. I think it runs in the family. As you know my Grandpa Weikle painted landscapes. So did my mom's mom, Edna, who died before I was born. I started buying canvasses and painting them as what I'd call "decor art" about 10 years ago and then in the last few years, started dabbling in abstract landscape and realism, particularly as I became interested in birds.".

Regarding the yellow bird image: Birds are my current favourite thing to draw and paint. I guess it was my interest in birds that interested me in spending time drawing and painting for the first time since childhood. This image is the other kind of multimedia in my life. The branch the bird sits on is created using cutouts from a magazine. The pieces are from a picture of a long full skirt by Coach. The iconic print is kind of deconstructed here and - if you blur your eyes - it kinda mimics the black and white colour contrast of a birch branch.

I selected the colours of this picture so I can hang it next to this landscape, which is painted from a photo I took on a drive from Calgary to Drumheller, on the way to the dinosaur museum, of course! People go all the way to Provence to photograph the sunflowers against the blue sky, but the same colour combination is available right on the Canadian prairies every summer with fields of canola against all that big sky. It was a windy day, and I liked the way the grasses in the ditch were moving in the foreground.

Later, I got the idea to paint a bird cage with the door open, over two canvasses, to hint at the idea that this might have been someone's domesticated canary gone free.
-Brandie Weike

Brandie lives and works in the Greater Toronto area. You can read her insightful and informative online blog at the Toronto Star

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labour Day Weekend...

Happy Labour Day!  To celebrate I turned on the heat.

18 degrees never felt so good, but holy hell the 30 year old furnace is LOUD!

Come back tomorrow for Holiday Homage Monday - which means it is being posted on a Tuesday :)

Canadian translation: Honour Labour :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Learning To Fly

This morning Jack came out of his room smiling from ear to ear. He had had a dream that he was Astro Boy. I am pretty sure that this was a direct result of his younger sister having declared she is Astro Boy and introducing herself as such. All day, everyday. Which is a change from when she decided a few months back that her name was Missy Pie. When we ask about "Missy Pie" she says that it is still her name but that she is now "Isla AstroBoy MissyPie..." "What about Meat-a-saurus" I ask. When Isla started solids we began to call her Meat-a-saurus at mealtimes because of her affinity for all things flesh. "Meat-a-saurus" she says pointing to her temple, "lives in my brain". I almost peed.

Now Jack is dreaming he is Astro, he hears about him a lot! I wondered if that meant he had dreamt his first flying dream. It hadn't. Too bad, I cannot wait to hear about these.  I used to dream so vividly and flying dreams were by far my favourite. I scarcely remember my dreams now, unless they are guilt-filled and at that point I would rather not since I have a hard enough time forgiving myself during the day. Anyhoo.

Jack had another first today though. A wonderful neighbour and friend passed along a bike to us. Now Jack has been riding a Strider for the past 6 months and he was ready to make the move. In less than 10 minutes he was up and riding! No training wheels or anything. His dad and I were pretty much elated! 15 minutes in he has mastered his new ride and tomorrow is his first bike race at the Rubberhead - we are in Rossland after all!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Magnificent Magenta...

....or Purple Soup as it is known at our house!

Despite the date, it is fall here and this quick and uber nutritious soup is a staple here in my home. So I thought I would share - I never set out to have one of "those" kinds of blogs! I love the naturally vibrant colour of this thick and hearty soup and feel good serving it to the hungry people who live in my house - I made it yesterday much to the delight of my kids who have be requesting this vegan, wheat, and gluten free dish!
Organic Blue Potato 

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tbsp organic olive oil
4 Beets, peeled and quartered
3-4 blue potatoes, (washed and scrubbed, not peeled) halved, substitute with nugget if you can't find blue or are too boring to try ;)
1 litre organic Vegetable broth (or Homemade)
1 can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp rosemary (reserve sprig for garnish)

Purple Soup begins the same way most great soups do:

  • In a large soup pot saute the onion, garlic, celery, and beets in heated oil until onion is opaque. 
  • Add remaining ingredients, cover, and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer till potatoes and beets are easily pierced with a fork (like you are making mashed pots). 
  • Remove from heat and blend smooth with an immersion blender.
Garnish with croutons and rosemary then serve!

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