Rosy Celebrations of Birthday Occasion

Live because you can!

Celebrate every opportunity!

Make extraordinary out of the mundane!

That is how I like to live my life. Though I am not presently actively working on capturing my story in a book, I continue to write—submitting some pieces to prize-enticing writing competitions. I continue to generate content for current and future writing—healing myself from my breast cancer, dystonia, and other deficiencies in self-love.

I continue to “live life alive” by celebrating another birthday month.

For my forty-second year, with the participation of loved ones, nearby and from afar, I assemble another diverse compilation of life-affirming celebrations, that span mid-February to April.

The Writer and Waterloo Friend Launch Birthday Month

The Writer and Waterloo Friend Launch Birthday Month

A good long-time friend from Waterloo school and Ottawa work-term days launches the birthday month festivities with a visit from Virginia, showering me with feng shui insights, enthusiasm for the outdoorsy Vancouver lifestyle of inspiring walks and gentle bike rides, and loads of fresh, nutritious and delicious Daikichi sushi and homemade Thai Eggplant Curry.

The Writer and Waterloo Friend Celebrate Launch of Birthday Month with Sushi

The Writer and Waterloo Friend Celebrate Launch of Birthday Month with Sushi

Birthday Month Flower

Birthday Month Flower

Friends and family from around the world grace me with their presence-in-spirit through a multitude of well-wishing cards, phone calls, and Facebook messages, while neighbours and in-town acquaintances envelop me in hugs, kisses, chocolate and flowers.

Birthday Post TLC

Birthday Post TLC

The Writer's Red Streaked Undercut - Front View

The Writer’s Red Streaked Undercut – Front View

Always one wont to help others achieve their goals and dreams, I benefit from the skill and artistic delights of a friend studying hairstyling—and we unleash her on my already short do, creating a funky avant-garde undercut with a streak of colour red. I love it, she’s proud, we have fun and get a good grade!

The Writer's Red Streaked Undercut - Back View

The Writer’s Red Streaked Undercut – Back View

Sunny Beach Walk on Tranquil Pender Island

Sunny Beach Walk on Tranquil Pender Island

For my birthday week, I retreat to a friend’s tranquil sanctuary on Pender Island that offers lakeside meanderings, sunny and moonlit beach walks, relaxing heat of cedar sauna and hot tub, and invigorating exchanges of poetry readings and compilations. Naturally, delicious food abound, we enjoy my Special Dish for the Week: Creamy Carrot Soup, whip up Mediterranean feasts, and splurge on my birthday eve dinner out.

Sunset/Moonlit Beach Walk on Tranquil Pender Island

Sunset/Moonlit Beach Walk on Tranquil Pender Island

Pender Island's Roe Lake Inspired Poetic Compilation

Pender Island’s Roe Lake Inspired Poetic Compilation

The Writer on Sunset Pacific Gulf Cruise

The Writer on Sunset Pacific Gulf Cruise

While on Pender Island, I am inspired during a leisurely walk around Roe Lake to compose a poem, entitled “Blanketed In Love”.

For my actual birthday, I take a Pacific Gulf cruise with my charming Pender Island companion back to Vancouver, where we indulge in some South East Asian delights at U & I Thai—which I love, not only for its adorable name.

Thai Birthday Dinner

Thai Birthday Dinner

Engineering Themed Birthday Dinner

Engineering Themed Birthday Dinner

The birthday month dining extravaganza continues with a fabulous and rich dinner at the now upscale Homer Street Café—a treat by my decade-long engineering friends and DAWEGing colleagues. I get my fill of peanut butter cookies as dessert to my scallop main dish, although they still don’t quench my craving for peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Cookie Birthday Treat

Peanut Butter Cookie Birthday Treat

More of my engineering world gets in on the birthday festivities when my engineering association invites me to a luncheon to award me with a Fellowship in Engineers Canada, the national engineering body, for my long-time “noteworthy” contributions to the engineering profession in Canada.

The Writer Awarded Fellowship in Engineers Canada During Birthday Month

The Writer Awarded Fellowship in Engineers Canada During Birthday Month

Oyster Surprise Birthday Dinner with Good Friends and Mentors of Various Sorts

Oyster Surprise Birthday Dinner with Good Friends and Mentors of Various Sorts

I share another Special Dish for the Week: Mushroom Risotto & Citrus Winter Greens Dinner with my good friends and mentors, chez Maggie, where I am lavished with their TLC of good wine, home baked cookies, apple crumble, birthday cake, and birthday wishes that include “May the dreams you hold dearest be those which come true”. I feel most definitely blessed as I blow out my birthday candle.

Naturally, my birthday month celebrations include more sushi cheer of sashimi, my favourite roll: salmon avocado, along with spicy tuna and gomae (spinach) salad, to which I am treated by my sushi buddy neighbour.

Birthday Dinner with Sushi Buddy Neighbour

Birthday Dinner with Sushi Buddy Neighbour

The Writer Boarding the Birthday Dinner Train

The Writer Boarding the Birthday Dinner Train

Another friend, knowing my love of train travel, organises for us a dinner train trip to the historic Billy Miner Pub in Maple Ridge by the West Coast Express, Vancouver’s regional commuter train. For our 45-minute journey, I make sure I pack a snack of the Special Dish for the Week: Savoury Fig Cake.

The Writer and Accomplice on Birthday Dinner Train Trip

The Writer and Accomplice on Birthday Dinner Train Trip

Pub Pitstop During Birthday Dinner Train Trip

Pub Pitstop During Birthday Dinner Train Trip

Still increasing my physical, mental and spiritual endurance with nearly daily bike rides, daily morning 1-minute pilates plank routines, weekly yoga and pilates classes at the local YMCA, energy healings at Friends For Life—the latest holistic wellness organisation I recently joined, where a special “nearer death” certificate constitutes the membership fee—I also ensure I incorporate an evening of dancing into my birthday month and attend the tantalising La Fête Corsete. Dancing to music that moves one’s body and soul proves to be a cure for many an undesirable condition, including dystonia, in me and in others, releasing us from the grips of painful spasmings and from the curious, cruelly judging eyes of uniformed onlookers, for a moment or two.

During my birthday month I even make my TV debut (at minute 9:10) of this Friends For Life fundraiser promotional segment on Breakfast Television by CityTV, not surprisingly involving food: Dining Out For Life.

Birthday Month TV Debut for Fundraiser

Birthday Month TV Debut for Fundraiser

Five weeks into the celebrations, a packet attentive to my celebratory needs arrives from Germany, containing cautionary words of wisdom: “Save Water – Drink Wine” along with vintage paper straws for those classy ones donning lipstick while dipping their nectar of the gods.

Birthday Month Celebratory Packet from Germany

Birthday Month Celebratory Packet from Germany

The Writer's Cook Street Village Workspace

The Writer’s Cook Street Village Workspace

A weekend getaway to Victoria, for collaborative sessions with my book editor and an energy healer whom I serendipitously met last fall, rounds out my birthday month celebrations. Naturally, eating while writing at a local café in Cook Street Village and celebratory dinner treat with my editor at Il Terrazzo are involved—as is the customary photo op shot with the BC Parliament buildings in the background, all lit up by night.

The Writer Celebrating Birthday Month with Her Editor at Il Terrazzo

The Writer Celebrating Birthday Month with Her Editor at Il Terrazzo

The Writer in Victoria by Night

The Writer in Victoria by Night

The Writer in Plush Blanket with Plush Pillow, Donning Plush Slippers

The Writer in Plush Blanket with Plush Pillow, Donning Plush Slippers

With month-long celebrations like these—and with generally finding it a challenge to do less—my birthday gift to myself shall be to prioritise sleep (or at the very least, restful relaxation) as my #3 priority for the month of April (contentment and looowww streeesss remaining in the lead). The tender loving plush (black) blanket and pillow, which are delivered last fall by my Wish Fairy Cousin, will contribute enticement towards this self-gift of month-long rest and sleep.

The Writer Loving and Loved by Her Plush Pillow

The Writer Loving and Loved by Her Plush Pillow

Homemade Apple Sauce and Dark Chocolate Treats

Homemade Apple Sauce and Dark Chocolate Treats

Remaining also from last fall’s showering of treats, just in time for Easter’s chocolate savouring traditions, is one bar of dark chocolate from good friends who joined me for a Special Dish for the Week: Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner. Their delicious homegrown / homemade apple sauce is now but a distant memory—as is my Wish Fairy Cousin’s dark chocolate almond spread.

Feeling grateful for all the love that I receive, from others and increasingly more from myself. Though part of my health healing journey, it seems to me that we can all learn to give ourselves more love—and to receive it, too!

Dark Chocolate Almond Spread Treat

Dark Chocolate Almond Spread Treat

 

Special Dish for the Week: Savoury Fig Cake

This week I do another instalment of being French in Vancouver, inspired by a “Lunch in Paris” recipe for my Special Dish for the Week—which thus far has been getting great reviews from all my friends and neighbours with whom I shared a slice:

Savoury Fig Cake

Savoury Fig Cake

Savoury Fig Cake

I find myself with an abundance of organic eggs in my fridge this week, and contemplate making quiche, but then I discover that a French savoury cake takes a good number of eggs—and I even double up on the recipe.

As usual, not being a great baker on account of not sticking to recipes too closely, I “Maggify” the suggested ingredients—and surprisingly, the savoury cake turns out really well—it sets, doesn’t crumble, and cooks through evenly.

It even tastes delicious, with a good balance between sweet, salty, spicy, and creamy.

Success!

Savoury Fig Cake Ingredients

Savoury Fig Cake Ingredients

The batter ingredients include:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cup flour (spelt, whole wheat, unbleached white, etc.)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

The recipe calls for first whisking the eggs on their own, then adding the fluids and whisking until light and foamy. I achieve some foam, but would not call the mixture light. I proceed regardless, adding the flour and baking soda next, not overworking the batter (some lumps are apparently just fine).

As in a quiche, various veggies and cheeses provide the hardiness of the dish.

Savoury Fig Cakes when Baked

Savoury Fig Cakes when Baked

The veggies include:

  • 8 dried figs, thinly sliced
  • onion, thinly sliced and sautéed in some olive oil
  • broccoli, finely chopped
  • cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • kalamata olives, sliced
  • smoked cheddar cheese (optional, pan fried bacon bits could be used instead)
  • thyme
  • black pepper, to taste
  • red Thai chili pepper

The suggested baking time and heat is 1 hour at 325F, and it works for me, even with two baking dishes in the oven at once.

Savoury Fig Cake Dish

Savoury Fig Cake Dish

For one of my meals, I add a side salad of spinachcilantro, whole kalamata olives, and dry crumbled cottage cheese in a vinaigrette of apple cider vinegarolive oil, and a splash of habanero chili sauce and another of maple syrup—once again balancing the flavours for a taste sensation. On the side, I serve a small piece of smoked mackerel—from a whole fish is best, but for a last minute compilation, canned smoked mackerel stands its ground.

With this meal, I enjoy my recent favourite roasted dandelion root tea that helps support the liver cleanse the body—and with its delicious and lightly sweet flavour of graham crackers, it is also a treat for the palate.

Meal ideas & recipes from “Lunch in Paris” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Mushroom Risotto & Citrus Winter Greens Dinner

For this instalment in my birthday month celebrations, joined by two good friends who bring wine, dessert, and home baked nutritious cookies—my favourite types of gifts: edible!—I serve a menu chez Maggie, where we celebrate for every occasion, comprised of 3 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):

Mushroom Risotto & Citrus Winter Greens Dinner

Risotto & Citrus Greens Dinner Menu

Risotto & Citrus Greens Dinner Menu

Grilled Peppers and Zucchini Hors d'Oeuvres

Grilled Peppers and Zucchini Hors d’Oeuvres

We begin with a toast of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon red wine to our health and to celebrate my birthday month occasion. The aperitif accompanies the tender and sweet grilled peppers and zucchini medallions topped with feta mixed olive tapenade—one of the last remnants of the gift basket I won as top fundraiser last August while Kayaking to Inspire Health. The vegetables are grilled in the oven with olive oil, garlic and a red Thai chili pepper.

Grilled Peppers and Zucchini Hors d'Oeuvres Ingredients

Grilled Peppers and Zucchini Hors d’Oeuvres Ingredients

Mushroom Risotto & Citrus Winter Greens Dinner

Mushroom Risotto & Citrus Winter Greens Dinner

Fresh Oysters Steamed in a Turkey Roaster

Fresh Oysters Steamed in a Turkey Roaster

For a delightful chef’s special surprise, one of my dinner companions delivers gigantic oysters freshly harvested on one of the Pacific Gulf Islands that very day. We steam the tantalising beasts in a little bit of water for 10 minutes at 400F in the oven in my large turkey roaster as a makeshift oyster steamer.

Served with lime juice, the oysters are a mouthwatering, fun dinner activity and treat.

Fresh Steamed Oysters with Lime

Fresh Steamed Oysters with Lime

Winter Greens with Roasted Citrus Vinaigrette

Winter Greens with Roasted Citrus Vinaigrette

For le plat principal, I heat up the previously prepared Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto, and prepare afresh the Winter Greens with Roasted Citrus Vinaigrette.

As usual, I “Maggify” the recipe a little by spicing it up with red Thai chili peppers and garlic, and sweeten it while adding more sulfur rich nutrients within the sautéed onions.

The result is highly impressive, never having tried this recipe before, taking a culinary risk that is enjoyed by our little dinner party.

Colour Bursting Roasted Lemon and Mandarines

Colour Bursting Roasted Lemon and Mandarines

The vinaigrette ingredients of the Winter Greens with Roasted Citrus Vinaigrette include:

  • lemon and 3-4 mandarines, cut in half and oven roasted
  • garlic, minced
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

I mix the roasted pulp of the citrus with the remaining vinaigrette ingredients using my handheld smoothie blender. I slice up the lemon rind for an added sweet-and-sour touch to the stir fried winter greens.

Winter Greens with Roasted Citrus Vinaigrette Ingredients

Winter Greens with Roasted Citrus Vinaigrette Ingredients

The veggie winter greens ingredients include:

  • olive oil, for sautéeing the onions and winter greens
  • onion, sliced
  • purple kale, shredded and ribs saved for another dish
  • 1/2 or 1 medium radicchio, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Belgian endives, halved and thinly sliced
  • cilantro for garnish
  • black sesame seeds for garnish

I marinade the shredded kale in some of the vinaigrette prior to lightly wilting it in my skillet while I sautée the onions. I combine the remaining roasted citrus vinaigrette, warmed kale, sautéed onions, radicchio and Belgian endive for a few minutes in the skillet. I garnish these with black sesame seeds and serve it from the skillet.

The Writer and Her Birthday Cake

The Writer and Her Birthday Cake

We are treated with a triple dessert, courtesy of my enthusiastic dinner companions. We begin with a mint-chocolate cake—as apparently one cannot have a birthday celebration without a birthday cake—which I am pleasantly surprised I actually enjoy, being a big fan of chocolate, but not of cake, and even less, of chocolate cake. This cake is delicious!

We also enjoy one of my favourite desserts: apple crumble, as well as “the everything cookies” made likewise with TLC by my dinner companion.

We sip on my recently discovered and quickly made favourite roasted dandelion root tea, and polish off the bottle of the Australian Cabernet Sauvignon red wine. An evening among friends, feelings of love and appreciation abound—a true birthday celebration!

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Engineer/Connoisseur Dinner Companions

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Engineer/Connoisseur Dinner Companions

Meal ideas & recipes from Whole Foods Market.

Special Dish for the Week: Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto

In preparation for another instalment in my birthday month celebrations, I prepare a day earlier as part of this week’s Special Dish for the Week:

Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto

Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto - Grains

Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto – Grains

This dish is inspired in part by the recipe suggestion on the box of the ancient grain blend of 7 grains: red and white quinoa, oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, and kaniwa.

The buckwheat grain has by far the most intense flavour, nearly overpowering even the flavours of the mushrooms, giving the risotto an even deeper earthy flavour.

This dish once it is prepared in an oven-safe pot may be heated up in the oven in that pot again if a little more water is added to create steam as the risotto gently warms up to be served on a subsequent day.

Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto Ingredients

Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto Ingredients

The risotto flavouring ingredients include:

  • coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions
  • onions, coarsely chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • chicken bouillon
  • assorted mushrooms (we use shiitake, maitake, king oyster, and brown crimini)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • dry sherry, or any mystery spirit you have in your cupboard
  • cashews, for blending with water into 3 tbsp cashew cream
  • marble cheese, grated
  • broccoli flowerettes, finely chopped and added raw as garnish
  • cilantro as garnish
  • black sesame seeds as garnish
  • The risotto is easily made by sautéeing the onions and mushrooms with the herbs and spices, then adding the bouillon and grains for the last 20-30 minutes, and additional water as needed to make the risotto in a desired consistency. Towards the end of the cooking time, the sherry, cashew cream and grated cheese are added to cream the risotto further still.
Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto with Smoked Salmon

Ancient Grain Mushroom Risotto with Smoked Salmon

I try a small portion of the risotto with a smoked salmon, and garnish the dish with chopped broccoli flowerettes and cilantro, with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.

I serve the dish with a glass of French red wine, and enjoy it by candlelight with a pretty red gerbera for added company.

Special Dish for the Week: Creamy Carrot Soup

With a little delay in posting as a result of travelling to the Pacific Gulf Islands for my birthday week, for this extra Special Dish for the Week that is close to being in paradise, I make another “Lunch in Paris” inspired recipe:

Creamy Carrot Soup

Creamy Carrot Soup

Creamy Carrot Soup

As I plan to travel with some of the soup to share it for our meals with my travel companion and Island host, I opt for a vegetarian version of the soup, using lentils for the base, while the recipe calls for chicken broth.

The secret ingredients of this soup are TLC and one cashew nut for that extra special touch!

Creamy Carrot Soup with TLC and One Cashew Nut

Creamy Carrot Soup with TLC and One Cashew Nut

Creamy Carrot Soup Ingredients

Creamy Carrot Soup Ingredients

The other ingredients include:

  • red lentils, pre-soaked and cooked in the main soup pot (alternative to bone broth for a vegetarian version of this soup)
  • coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions
  • onions, coarsely chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • ginger, finely chopped
  • finely shredded wakame
  • carrots, diced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • broccoli flowerettes, finely chopped and added raw as garnish
  • cilantro as garnish
  • black sesame seeds as garnish
Creamy Carrot Soup Dish

Creamy Carrot Soup Dish

I use my hand blender to purée the soup, adding extra coconut milk to obtain the desired consistency.

I try a little of the soup for my evening meal before heading out for my birthday week trip with more of the soup in a jar, packing the broccoli flowerettes, cilantro and black sesame seeds to assemble as garnish.

Naturally, I serve it with a glass of red wine and flowers!

Creamy Carrot Soup Birthday Week Feast

Creamy Carrot Soup Birthday Week Feast

The soup is delicious and hardy, and tastes even better during the week when enjoyed with my host after frolicking around in the Island outdoors—and as the first course to my birthday week feast of smoked mackerel and olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipped artisan bread.

We sip on a thimbleful of Insomnia Red Wine for the flavour and medicinal benefits of resveratrol in the skins of red grapes.

Creamy Carrot Soup in the Pacific Gulf Islands

Creamy Carrot Soup in the Pacific Gulf Islands

Meal ideas & recipes from “Lunch in Paris” book.