I am [modern] woman; Watch me cook

Sarah in Almonte Riverside Boutique Inn garden - by Amy Eaton

Housewife has become a dirty word for my generation. It hearkens back to another time, when gender equality was virtually nonexistent.

But now, even in this fairly gender-equal era, I want to stay at home. I want to work from home, cook, clean, garden, decorate. I want to be a “housewife”.

Sure, I was raised conservatively, and yes, my mother was a homemaker (less offensive but still sounds outdated) for most of my life. Yes, I always wondered if she would have preferred to have a career besides being a mother to six, if given the choice. She didn’t.

The best parts of my week generally always have to do with cooking something well, trying a new recipe, planting and harvesting vegetables, feeling a sense of accomplishment after cleaning the house or doing laundry.

The hardest parts of my week are trying to cram everything into evenings and weekends: extracurricular work, special cleaning projects, ongoing laundry and dishes, meal planning and prep, exercise, dog-walking, quality time with my man, not to speak of time with friends and family, and, of course, keeping up with pop culture as everyone is expected to do.

For some (many?) women, being a career professional is no doubt a life stage they are happy with and settled into. Proud of, even.

But I’m in the camp that would like the chance to check emails on the porch with coffee; to have the time to grow a big vegetable garden, and to preserve the extras; to clean the house and do the grocery shopping and walk the dog and make dinner before my man gets home, so we can enjoy our evening together; to just pop into the kitchen to make a fresh lunch; to start dinner more than 20 minutes before I want to eat it.

Is this my middle-class privileged pipe dream? Maybe so, but I haven’t given up on it yet.


Photo by Amy Eaton of Winsome and Whimsy Photography. Taken at Almonte Riverside Boutique Inn, Almonte, Ontario.

It’s Independence Day!

To all the American friends, family, and followers that I am happy to call mine, happy Independence Day! May your day be full of picnics and fireworks, red, white and blue, and pride in the things that make your nation great.

Parliament Hill

Bittersweet Transition: Why I WON’T Miss Huron County

(not to be confused with yesterday’s post: “Why I Will Miss Huron County“)

Parliament Hill
Me hanging with some of Canada's most famous ladies on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Last night I wrote about the reasons I will miss Huron County, my home since I was five. But this transition to the city truly is a bittersweet one. Yes, there are many things I will miss about Huron County, and the family and friends I leave behind are at the top of that list.

Still, there are some very enticing things about the city that contribute the “sweet” part. For one, you can go to the grocery store or the bank or Wal-Mart and expect to see no one you know. Yes, there really is something beautiful in total anonymity sometimes!

Then there is the much wider variety of stores and goods. I will be able to shop at a farmer’s market all year round! Or have my pick of several health food stores and specialty markets. So many furniture stores and antique shops and clothing stores and thrift stores!

I have access to a trail that goes clear across the city, and I can use it to run or walk or bike on. I no longer have to worry about getting run over by cars on the country road (not that that was ever a major problem). I can actually use my bike to get places and leave the car at home for an entire day!

Finally, I might actually use the membership I’ve been paying for at the gym at school, because I can go at times when I’m not already carting a bag with books and meals for an entire day.

In the winter and late at night, I will have more activity options than bowling, house parties, and Tim Horton’s. Imagine that, rural-ites! Tons of bars and restaurants and shows and galleries, more than I will likely ever get to see or experience.

Street meat!
The BF and I enjoying street meat in Ottawa a couple summers ago. Yes, I gained weight that trip.

I will always have a wide variety of movies to see without having to drive over an hour to get to the city. I never felt like I suffered for being from a town that screened only one or two movies, but it is still pretty cool that a wider variety will be more convenient for me.

Then there are the regular hours of stores and libraries. This is one of the most frustrating things about small town life for me. There are places that aren’t open the same hours from day to day or week to week, or have different winter hours, and it’s annoying. Yes, I get it. I know that business dies at certain times of the day or season, but still. There are few things more irritating than when you make a special trip for something only to find that the place is only open 10-3 today and it’s 4:15.

While it’s true that none of these things are as powerful as that smell I talked about at the end of yesterday’s post, they are all reasons to be excited about moving to the city.

Like I said, bittersweet.



{Locality} The Ruralist


No, I’m not done writing my papers, but I love the Locality series too much to let it drop during finals season. Besides, The Ruralist doesn’t need much introduction or explanation.

The Ruralist was envisioned by my friends Erin Roy and Erin Samuell (no, not every cool person in my area is my friend, but I’m proud to say many of them are). These two with-it and savvy local businesswomen are trend-spotters and with this website, they have become trend-setters.

They realized that there was a need for a curated collection of the best items from the best little stores across rural Ontario (and maybe someday the rest of Canada?), a sort of Etsy for unique finds and experiences you can’t get in the city. This site is for those urbanites who imagine the country as one big pile of cow dung and need the gems pointed out to them by someone in the know, someone who can view those gems through the lens of the personal touch and great design.

That Perfect Piece

It’s for those “ruralistas” like myself and my friends, family, and readers who are from rural areas but refuse to associate with the image of cow-tipping, straw-chewing, “ain’t”-saying hicks. Sure, there are hicks, and we love them for the flavour they bring to our community, but we believe we have culture, too. We have style. We love quality. We are unique and proud of it.

The Ruralist website was soft-launched a week ago, as was their Facebook page, so you can be one of the lucky readers who knew about this project when…! Subscribe to the blog and “Like” the Facebook page to see the eye candy they are posting, and start to get proud of rural Ontario. If you’re not already on the bandwagon, that is.

Ruralist promise

In a few months, the Ruralist site will have a shop aspect to it so that you can click through and see all of the shops across Ontario that have been Ruralist approved, and connect directly to their websites. Meanwhile, there is a steady stream of great photography (Erin Samuell IS one of Canada’s best, after all), lovely design, and an inspiring collection of things to do, see, taste, and so much more.

Oh, and if you search the Ruralist for “Sarah”, you’ll see my face! 🙂 You might even see more of me as time goes by.

What are you waiting for? Rural Ontario is waiting.


PS: If you (or someone you know) are a rural Ontario business-person and you think you’ve got something the Ruralist editors would love, or you’re interested in purchasing a micro-site in the upcoming Ruralist shopping section, send me a message telling me about your business and what you think the Ruralist editors would love about it. If I agree with you (;)), I’ll pass your message on to Erin and Erin.

cbc logo

Playing Favourites: CBC Radio 1

cbc logo

Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to the CBC news at 6:00 every day. Maybe it’s because I have an insatiable curiosity to know what I might be missing in the world. Maybe it’s because I secretly wish to be a national radio news announcer.

Whatever the reason, CBC Radio 1 (2 and 3 are mostly music stations) is my radio station of choice. You can guarantee that, if I’m alone in my car and not listening to an audiobook on my iPhone (through my Bluetooth device) or some new music playlist, CBC is on.

I can get through a day or days without listening, so I know I’m not addicted, but you will rarely catch me listening to any other station. Perhaps I would if I could find a music station that wasn’t annoying or insidious or formulaic. (Yes, I know there are local stations that employ people I know… but really? Do you enjoy them?!)

In my opinion, the best programs are Q, As It Happens, and The Age of Persuasion. But there are lots of other interesting and informative programs that will fill the air waves in your car or home with (in my opinion) higher quality stuff than you can get at the local level or on your average rock station.

If music is what you love, CBC’s Radio 2 and Radio 3 have got you covered. You won’t be stuck listening to “easy listening” or “light rock” tunes ever again!

I know the CBC is not a perfect company (does such a thing even exist?), and they have their issues, but as a public broadcaster, they’re not sponsored by advertisers, so they don’t have to sell their soul to corporations. And your listening experience doesn’t get interrupted by commercials.

Plus, I always feel smarter after listening to a CBC Radio program. I get more interested in relevant issues. I understand more of what it means to be a Canadian.

When something that you enjoy keeps you connected and teaches you things, it’s worthy of “favourite” status. Just sayin’.

international womens day

I’m a Woman! Today is my day!

international womens day

Ra! Ra!

Today is International Women’s Day, an annual celebration of womanhood and true femininity, a day when women’s issues (abortion, contraception, equality, etc.) get talked about on every radio station, news report, and newspaper around the world.

This notion of celebrating women on one day every year is just over one hundred years old. It began with a Socialist Party of America declaration in 1909. The idea soon spread across the pond to Copenhagen and then Germany, and so the movement became international.

Initially, as you might imagine, the movement reflected the values of the women’s suffrage campaign: equality of rights and voting.

Today is a day when we as western women are grateful for those matrons in long skirts and hats (I always think of the wacky mother from Mary Poppins when I think of suffrage. Unfortunate, I know.), wreaking havoc on patriarchal traditions everywhere they could, in an effort to be treated as they were: equal. Different, of course, but equal.

Today is a day when we are grateful for the second-wave feminists of the 80s who proved that a female executive was every bit as competent as a male one.

We do kind of regret the image of women as master multi-taskers, though. That’s the pressure that urges us to keep up with the housewives AND the career women: look amazing, be involved in our community, keep a clean house, raise smart and well-behaved children, cook healthy meals, usher our kids around to sports events, all the while proving ourselves as highly competent in the professional realm. I’m exhausted just writing all that.

Theory and history and multi-tasking aside, a day to be grateful for the people in your life is a good day.

To the many women that inspire me, thank you. I am honoured to know you. Thank you for speaking into my life, for believing in me, for giving me your time, respect, and trust.

I would name you, but there are too many to count, and I don’t want to forget any.

Please consider going out of your way to appreciate a person today, whether a man or a woman, though it is a particularly ideal day to appreciate the women you know. Like me. 😉


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: The one where my new diet accidentally coincides with Lent

"the last supper"

When I posted yesterday’s blog about starting a fairly strict diet today, it didn’t even dawn on me that today is Ash Wednesday.

For those that are completely ignorant of Christian traditions, Ash Wednesday is the day after Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday). It’s the beginning of Lent, the 40-day season leading up to Easter. A season in which it is traditional for people to give up (refuse to indulge in) something they love for the purpose of prioritizing God or their faith over that thing (food or entertainment, etc.).

I didn’t intend to start my Whole30 diet on the first day of Lent, but here I am, on Ash Wednesday, beginning a 30- or 60-day journey that excludes several of my favourite things: bread, wine, pastry, beer, chocolate, yogurt, cheese. CHEESE!

Last night, true to Pancake Tuesday custom, I ate pancakes as a “last meal” before the “fasting” that starts today.


Excuseert u mij… I’m (half) Dutch

A link to a list called “you know you’re Dutch when” came to my attention this week, and I laughed and laughed as I read it. I laughed even more when I read the last line:

And finally, you know you’re Dutch when..
You’re laughing along with this list because you can relate to most it!

With a last name like Koopmans, few would be in doubt. But I swear, my mom is of British descent!

I grew up saying things like, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much!” and putting chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag) on open-faced buttered bread.

hagelslag on bread

My mother saved aluminum foil, ziploc bags, plastic and glass containers that food came in, and washed out milk bags to freeze food in. You could pretty much guarantee that most of the yogurt and sour cream containers in the fridge did NOT contain yogurt or sour cream.

I draw the line at milk bags, but I do all the rest.

I have a hard time throwing out leftovers, even when there are only a few spoonfuls of corn left in the bowl.

I put water in EVERY empty food jar (spaghetti sauce, jam, mayonnaise) and shake it! When I was a kid, we used to put milk in empty jam jars and shake them to make all of the leftover jammy goodness into a sort of fruity mikshake.

We had a birthday calendar in our bathroom growing up. I don’t think the names were written in capital letters, but they were there, with the year they were born (or married) written in brackets beside their name.

Dutch birthday calendar
You can buy this version on Etsy!

I also have trouble finding hats that fit, but I think that’s because of my hair. It’s big. (see profile photo)

I don’t know what I’d do without my special tool for cutting cheese (though they’re not exclusively Dutch – the Swedes and Norwegians lay claim to them as well).

cheese slicer
You get bonus Dutch points if your cheese slicer is Delfts Blauw!

And then there are the delicious bits about being a Dutchie (mmm Dutchies!):

  • Gouda cheese!
  • “Paper” cookies
  • Stroopwaffels!
  • Boeterkoek!
  • Tai tai!
  • Butter on Rusks!
  • Meatball soup… what did we call that again?
  • Oliebollen!!!!!
Homemade Oliebollen... NYE 2009

Every New Year’s, I think perhaps it’s finally time for me to break out the deep fryer for my boyfriend’s family or my friends. But honestly, who wants to be up to their elbows in hot grease on New Year’s Eve?! One of these days, I will perhaps host my own party and pre-prepare the batter and dishes of icing sugar, and fatten everyone up with deep-fried balls of dough and apples and raisins (optional). Mmmmm.

I also have facecloths that I can put my whole hand into. All the better for “washing up,” which is a must-do every night before you go to bed. Or at least that’s what was expected of me when I was 3 and visited Holland with my family.

Okay, so I’m pretty Dutch. I don’t identify with EVERYTHING on that list, but enough of it. And I’m feeling proud of my heritage.

Dutch flag

Dank je wel.

Keep the Server Happy, Website Edition

This week, I submitted my last final assignment. Finally.

Currently, I’m procrastinating from studying for a take-home exam due this afternoon. Oops.

But it’s once again been too long since I posted, and I’m pretty excited about this final assignment and I want to share it with you. Now.

The assignment, which was for an online class called Writing for the Web, was to design a website with at least 5 different pages to it, incorporating the principles we learned during this course.

I don’t know how my prof will grade it, since I only submitted it for marking yesterday morning, but after receiving some good feedback from my Facebook friends, I thought I’d share it with you. I am thinking of purchasing a domain name for this site and publishing it to the web for real and making it a bit of a hub for all that stuff servers wish their customers knew!

Here’s a linked screen shot so you can go see it yourself:

Keep in mind I’m an amateur Dreamweaver user, and I built this all from scratch, and I didn’t really have the time to finess things too much. It’s a beginning, more than anything.

But – do you like it?

Do you have a restaurant story to add to my “This one time…” page?

I have some ideas for a domain name, which I’m hoping to host as a sub-page to this site, we’ll see. Meanwhile, I could use your feedback about domain name ideas:

Send me your “This one time at a Restaurant” stories for when I debut the website with its own domain name!