A place of refuge or safety.
What I call “home”. Home is that cozy feeling when you walk in the door and feel the comfortable familiarity of your own space. A place to unwind, get organized and let your imagination and creativity run wild. Your own little sanctuary.
It’s easy to get caught up in the wash, rinse, repeat, Monday-Friday work cycle. You blink and all of a sudden, days turn into weeks, months and then years. After every New Years celebration or birthday that passes, I wake up, reflect on the past year, say the classic “Where did the time go?”, start to feel old and then make big plans for future awesomeness.
Even after a long day at work, I have always enjoyed and will always make time to play around in the kitchen. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal. Imagining new dishes, altering old ones and developing new recipes is what I love.
I have been thinking a lot about what “home” is because Kirk and I recently moved from Canada back to his side of the world on the East coast of Australia, or for him back “home.”
What is home? I was born in Hamilton, Ontario and briefly lived in Utah as a baby. I spent my childhood growing up in Waterloo, Ontario until moving to Kelowna, British Columbia, for University at UBCO. After spending 7 or so years living in Kelowna, I had a deep feeling of the Okanagan being my “home”. I thought a lot about moving to Australia and what it would feel like being “away from home”.
The truth is (well to me at least) that home isn’t just one place, but a combination of all the places, memories and special people in your life.
You look at an old picture and it’s like a mental video clip that plays in your mind. You can feel that exact moment and play it over and over again. It can create a bittersweet feeling that makes you so happy, but kind of sad at the same time. To see how far you’ve come and that you’ll never be that little kid or troublemaking teenager again.
While living in Kelowna, I would visit Waterloo usually once a year. Although the city had changed, with lots of new buildings that I had never seen before, there will always be an indescribable sense of familiarity, that almost gives me butterflies. I’d see my best friends and have at least a year’s worth of catching up to do. But none of that ever matters, instantly I always feel right at home, as if I never missed a beat all along.
It’s amazing how traveling or moving around triggers all your senses and the associated memories. I think everyone can relate to that unique smell of your family’s home. Or even walking down into my grandparents chilly, old, dusty basement with the unmistakable smell of my grandpa’s wine cellar and workshop (recently taken over by grandma’s glass making). I look down and can still faintly see the racetrack made with masking tape on the floor, bringing me back to when all the cousins would race little cars around and around, in between playing duck hunter.
When living in Kelowna and spending many holidays away from family, often all of our friends would form a “friendsfamily” and have a potluck-style feast. You don’t really realize until you spend those meals away, that even though it’s the classic turkey, stuffing, mash and gravy spread, that nothing beats how mom or grandma makes it.
At Christmas or Thanksgiving, I always crave the unconventional stuffing my mom makes with wild rice and water chestnuts. Also can’t forget great grandma’s turnip puff recipe, that is a MUST for any turkey dinner!
Growing up I loved any sort of special occasion that allowed me to bake something. I remember many late nights in the kitchen with my mom. Helping me with all different kinds of recipes, because cupcakes just didn’t cut it.
I’ve gotta hand my crazy creative side to my grandma. Anytime I’d go over to my grandparents’ house growing up, my grandma ALWAYS had some new idea to try. I remember making hundreds of chocolate truffles, cakes in all shapes and sizes, donuts and buying expensive fancy cookies and recreating them at home (whipped shortbread caramilk cookies are now a favourite!). I also remember being fed MANY things (when I was still at the stage of being super fussy) that I did NOT want, like bizarre chicken wing flavours. But it’s stuff like this that has inspired me to think outside the box and master creations with whatever crazy idea pops into my mind or with whatever ingredients are on hand at the time.
Even today I love chatting with my grandma and exchanging all our different creations since we last spoke. I think credit is also due to my grandpa for letting all the madness take place. This includes going down to the States and participating in a special glassmaking course so grandma could turn his workshop into Grandma Jane’s playhouse.
Home is also the comforting feeling you get from the important people in your life. It’s amazing today how easy it is to press a button and be looking at and speaking to someone instantly, no matter where you are.
Even if something is totally new, unknown and even scary, it’s easy to feel right at home with the right person. Moving to Australia is new and scary but it’s easy knowing I’ve got someone to do it all together with.
And! Short story long …which I am REALLY good at…then there’s FOOD!
As mentioned, I’ve always loved cooking and baking. I particularly love a new challenge to create dishes just how I like ‘em. Over the years, I have been fine-tuning what kind of food makes me feel the best. I don’t think my diet will ever be described as definitively ONE thing. I do focus on a plant-based diet and eat whole foods whenever possible.
~Do I love cooking a mean turkey dinner? Yup! And do the mashed potatoes taste way better with caramelized onions and bacon? Ohhh yeah!
~When my boss would catch amazing salmon and cod, or aquaman Kirk brings back his treasures from spearfishing, I’m not, NOT going make fish tacos.
~Sometimes (often) you just NEED that charcuterie and cheese board.
~And even though I was born without that internal compass or any sense of direction…when I hit that magical number of drinks, my inner Google Maps somehow ALWAYS leads me to pizza.
That’s life! But for the most part, I know what kind of things make me feel good and that if I want something awesome that meets all my criteria, I best be making it myself (or spending a fortune on it). But this doesn’t mean flavour or awesomeness needs to be compromised. AND the beauty of making everything yourself is you know exactly what goes into it.
And that’s where the fun begins! I want something AWESOME but I don’t want all the x,y,z mystery ingredients that make me feel crappy.
Moving to Australia has given me an amazing opportunity to have more time to explore the things I love and to be creative.
No matter where you are, there will always be food. Each dish will have a different combination of familiarity and new experiences. Food is not only about what you eat, but the company you share it with, your setting and culture.
Even when “home” is not stationary, there will still always be a sanctuary in food.
Which (long story short AGAIN sorry!) leads me to the creation of…
My online “home” to share my travels, recipes and creations with all my family and friends (old and new!). No matter where you are. 😊❤️🌏