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Photo and collage by author.

The quirkiness of cutting and pasting helps glue your thoughts together.

When I feel bored, blue, or befuddled by life, as much as I’m a writer and reader, I don’t always turn to my pens and books for solace. I reach for something simple yet unconventional instead.

I gather magazines, scissors, glue, an old scrapbook, and strew the works over my dining room table. And then I let my inner Edward Scissorhands take over and the table is soon covered with hundreds of snippets of paper.

Because surprisingly, serenity is worth hunting for with a pair of scissors in your hand.

The word collage comes from the French verb coller, meaning…

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

It involves 9 things you may never have experienced.

There’s a New Yorker cartoon that’s been on my fridge for 22 years. I sent it to my husband when we first met. The cartoon is a curly-haired woman in a skirt and heels and a scruffy, masculine guy wearing a tool belt and they gaze lovingly at each other. Two women are watching them and comment, “They’re a perfect match — she’s high maintenance, and he can fix anything.”

It always made us laugh and we even used it for our wedding invite years later.

I keep it on the fridge as a reminder, to him and me, to…

Grocery prices are rising, but don’t panic. You have more control over your wallet than you think.

A woman masked up at the grocery store.
A woman masked up at the grocery store.
Photo: Anna Shvets via Pexels

There they were in the grocery store: a perfectly shaped pile of cauliflower heads priced at $8 a pop. I took one look at them, rolled my eyes, and laughed out loud.

There was a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d ever pay that for a cauliflower. Especially one that’s been shipped 3,000 miles.

Recently the news is full of stories about grocery prices going up from the ripple effect of the pandemic — well, I’m sure it isn’t a surprise after your last visit to the grocery store.

Maybe you’ve lost your job or you’re worried you might in…

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2 delicious twists for frugal, fabulous, frozen baby green peas.

You probably have a package of frozen peas you dive into when you need a quick vegetable (because the carrots in the crisper have grown hair.) Or you absent-mindedly throw a handful or two into chicken fried rice once a month. But your overlooked little frozen package of peas is capable of so much more than you think.

But first — not any frozen green peas will do.

In Canada, they are called petits pois. Where you live, they may be called baby peas or sweetlets.

What’s the difference between petis pois and the standard green pea?

Petis pois are…

Bring out the picnic food and eat it inside

An indoor picnic spread.
An indoor picnic spread.
Photo: Theme Photos via Unsplash

I don’t care how much you love to cook — sometimes, you’re just having a crazy week and even a box of Kraft Dinner starts to look good. Many people make homemade pizzas and that certainly works too. I even know strange people who eat only volumes of popcorn on nights they don’t want to cook. Popcorn. But for my husband and me? Indoor Picnic Night is what happens when we are lazy and don’t feel like cooking.

I bring out a baguette, some creamy French brie, a jar of olives, a can of sardines, or smoked oysters. My husband…

Any of these 5 variations are worth your time

A hotel in a snowy valley with snow-covered evergreen trees in the foreground and snowy mountains in the background.
A hotel in a snowy valley with snow-covered evergreen trees in the foreground and snowy mountains in the background.
Chateau Lake Louise. Photo courtesy of Travel Alberta

Last year my friend Tina and I spent a weekend at the historic Chateau Lake Louise Hotel in the middle of February. The destination hotel was built as a vacation spot at the turn of the 19th century, where guests can enjoy stunning views and delicious food. On our visit, we accidentally discovered something else — the best damn hot chocolate in the world.

Tina and I went for a long walk on the frozen Lake Louise — it took us a few hours to walk the entire circumference of the lake. …

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She didn’t speak English. I didn’t speak French. But she taught me how to make this luscious, classic dessert in only 15 minutes.

We both had wild curly hair held back with scarves while we stood in her hot kitchen deep in the Provence countryside. Her green eyes locked with mine over the large copper pot.

“You must whip zee whites. Zees high.”

Giselle held her hand about 4 inches from the egg whites I had just finished separating.

I nodded my head enthusiastically. “Oui! Oui!”

Where was I? My husband and I were taking a private cooking lesson with a local cook in a small village in Provence.

I could tell she admired his onion chopping skills, but she was less than…

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9 fun ideas to scale back without feeling like Scrooge.

I had coffee with my parents the other day — they’ve recently moved hundreds of miles to be closer to my sister, me, and grandkids. Normally for Christmas, we draw names for gifts and spend the day together. But certainly, the pandemic has thrown a wrench in our plans as no one ever anticipated a Covid Christmas.

Dad looked over at me and said, “Maybe we should rethink Christmas gifts this year. A lot of people are in hard times and if we donate what we each would have spent on our draw gift — that helps a lot of…

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Photo by Kim Duke.

3 sneaky ingredients make this soup a lift-your-spirits rock star.

Confession. I’m a bit of a soup snob. It’s simple really. Homemade soup is comforting not only when you eat it but it nurtures you during the chopping, sautéing and cooking process as well. A can of soup doesn’t even come close — and let’s not talk about the wickedly high salt content it has. So this soup I will convince you to make? Once you discover the 3 ingredients that make such a huge difference — you’ll have them in your house too.

When the snow is falling, or I’m listening to NPR on a Sunday morning— I automatically…

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Photo by Kim Duke.

People survived being apart for years during two world wars. I think we can survive one Christmas.

My husband shook his head last night and said, “There’s no way around it. We’ll probably have to celebrate Christmas alone this year.”

I couldn’t say anything for a minute. I went to the bookcase and held the wedding picture of my grandparents taken at the start of WWII.

Then I looked at him and smiled as I blinked back tears.

“If my grandparents were strong enough not to see each other for years during WWII — I guess I’m strong enough to not see my family and friends for one Christmas.”

If you heard a sonic boom in the…

Kim Duke

I happily write about food, quirks of life & the art of simple living. Heated. Mind Cafe. P.S. I Love You. Honest & funny.

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