Finding the new you in Grande Prairie

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I Love Berry Season In Grande Prairie!!

Berry season has finally arrived this summer!!! I’ve been waiting for this season since berry season last year. Finding food,… foraging for food is my passion. I grew up on a farm as a young child and picking fresh food just outside my door is ingrained in me, it is a part of who I am. I am always looking for the next delicious find.

Last year we bought our cozy little house in down town GP and immediately set out to check out the neighourhood. It was the tail end of berry season and we found in an laneway just north of us, a huge saskatoon berry bush. There weren’t many berries on it but the few we found were delicious. Just a few meters west, was a laden raspberry bush. Oh those berries were incredible and somehow more than incredible because we were picking them and they were such a find! It was like treasure! The excitement I felt was beyond what most people would ever feel for something like that, I mean after all, they are only raspberries right? You can buy those in the store for just a few bucks. Maybe it’s because it takes me back to my childhood…sort of, or maybe because I feel such serenity while picking. I relish the satisfying plunk of fruit as it hits the bottom of my pail and the sight of the level rising just fills me with glee. I feel like these bushes are so happy that I found them and know that I’m happy having found them. I feel such gratitude to the earth and to the bushes for sharing with me and providing me with such joy.

I made a mental note of this spot and have been waiting for the chance to go back and take part in the bounty. Today was that day! I set out with my little one and our pail. I did not bring my phone or anything that could be a distraction…like my dog, I remembered to wear a hat and clothes I didn’t mind getting stained with sweet juice. We walked the short distance of 2 lanes north and were so happy when we saw the beautiful ruby red saskatoons waving to us, beckoning to us, to pick and eat and be merry. My soon to be 3 year old was ecstatic and I was simply tickled pink.

We began picking, or rather I began picking and my son declared he would “just eat the ones in the bucket, okay mom?”. We picked as many of the purple jewels are we could before moving down to the raspberries. Now for those of you who do not know what a saskatoon berry is, I feel badly for you:) They look like very much like blue berries when fully ripened and before that, they look like to most perfect ruby. Honestly when I see them I dream of wearing them around my neck and on my fingers and I dream of the clothes I will have custom made in the same tones one day when I have that kind of money. They are a delight to so many senses.

The raspberries were as tantalizing as the saskatoons. The bush was so laden with fruit that many branches simply lay on the ground. I felt for that bush and picked all I could from the resting branches. It reminded me of when I was pregnant during my 7th, 8th and 9th months when moving was simply torture and I felt overripe. I remembered the relief of resting my belly on a counter top and not having to support it myself. Truly, I felt for that bush, to be so full and not be able to help yourself…it’s a good thing I went by with my pail:-D

Ang Eating Raspberries Out Of My Hand 1

Ang Eating Raspberries out of my Hand 2

Ang Picking Raspberries

Before Ang Got To Them

Found Treasure

Hidden Jewels 1

Hidden Jewels 2

HIdden Jewels 3 (2)

Hidden Jewels 3

Saskatoon Berries and Raspberries

So few Raspberries Left

Now a few months ago, I was doing some research on berries that grow well out here. I came across information about the honey berry and the haskap berry. They are very similar berries and by that I mean they are practically the same. One is a little bit longer than the other, while the other is quite squat. The are like blueberries being greenish on the inside and with those tiny little seeds and that beautiful intense blue on the outside. The flavour is like a tart concord grape. I was intrigued by them and bought a couple of bushes for our yard. I am hoping they produce for next year. Woo hoo, something to look forward to for next berry season;)

Last week I found an ad on the bulletin board at the local health food store advertising a U pick haskap and honey berry farm. It was too good to be true and we made plans to check it out. We set out on an absolutely blazing hot day and made it in good time. The farm was about 1 1/2 hours away. We got there and were nearly licked to death by 18 basset hounds before getting to the field. We picked for a very hot and sweaty 2 hours or so and only managed to get about 2 lbs or just under. It was a lot of hard work but fun as it was a new experience for us.

We made our way out of the field to be less enthusiastically licked by the very hot basset hounds hanging around our car. We weighed up and payed and bought a few
pre-picked pounds to make the drive worth it. I shared my find with the family from whom we buy our beef and with our neighbours and Ang’s aunty Pickle. Everyone agreed that the berries had good flavour but were perhaps too tart for fresh eating. I decided to cook mine in some fresh locally harvested honey and we had it on vanilla cake and on pancakes. Because we gave away so many, there was only 2 jars worth. We are slowly eating one jar and the other will go into the freezer for a taste of summer sometime one cold day in deep winter.

Honey Berry to the left~Haskap

Gonna Cook 'Em And Eat 'Em


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Visiting Toronto

I got back from Toronto last night.  It was my first time back in 2 years and I can honestly say I’m happy to be back in Grande Prairie.  Of course the reasons for this is mixed but it is true.  Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time visiting with some friends( hi Char, Carol, Jenya, Teddy, Danelle) and taking my son to see my old haunts but Toronto is…oppressive after being in a place where I can have personal space and where I can breathe and where I can see the sky.  I couldn’t get over how much the city has changed in 2 years, 2 short years.  There is a condo high-rise on every corner and it doesn’t appear they will stop this anytime soon.  There are so many people everywhere we went it was incredible.  Where did they all come from?  They weren’t there before. Oh yeah, they are the new inhabitants of all those new condos.


Anyhow, I got to have yummy Ethiopian food from my favourite spot Ethiopia House on Irwin at Yonge and I had Vietnamese a few times at both Mimi’s and Pho House on Gerrard at Broadview and Chinese at Kom Jug Yeun on Spadina at Baldwin…  and we hung out at a disappointing Kensington Market.  Kensington used to be my fave spot in the whole world.  I would buy dried fruits and nuts and fresh fruits and veg and tea and incense and fresh ground peanut butter  and Shea butter and cheese and chill with my friends Moses or Milton and grab some spicy fried tofu or momos.  That Kensington Market no longer exists.  It makes me sad. Not much I can do about it I guess, that makes me even more sad

My good friend Carol has asked me to mention how well the weather co-operated during my visit.  I must admit the weather was much better than I had expected. I thought it would have been hot and humid and completely disagreeable but no, it was cool and comfortable, however the sky was still grey.  The sky is slowly becoming something you would see in a post apocalyptic  world, yuck.

While in Toronto we used AirBnB to find accommodations. We stayed in both the east end of the city and the west end.  Being in the west was a nice change as we grew up in the east end close to the Beach.  The home we stayed in in the west was one street over from where I spent many happy Christmases as a young adult.  It was lovely being in that neighbourhood again.  Both experiences were great and we met some really nice people we wouldn’t have otherwise.

So, after all of that, It’s official I guess, we now live in GP.  In a few days a big truck will show up at our door and the belongings we had left in TDot until this visit, will be off loaded.  It cost a lot to do but it’s worth it.  We have our clothes (now out of fashion of course but I am always out of fashion), our books and crafts and photos and so many other items we had been missing.  I can’t wait to sink my teeth again into my favourite books.

Peace out dear readers, until next time!  Dang it, I didn’t take pics!!!


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Life in Grande Prairie

Living in Grande Prairie is vastly different from living in a huge metropolitan city.  There are some pros and cons that may be deal breakers for some. If you are used to big city life, the sheer number of Grande Prairie’s cons can far exceed the pros but, the pros are worth considerably more in my book.  Let me examine each category for you.  This is of course based on my own values, wants and needs and that of my little family.


The Cons

1) Winter here is so awful you want to cry by January 2nd.  Actually, it’s so awful you may have already begun crying sometime in November but then the thought of Christmas and New Years celebrations got you out of your funk.  I promise you the funk will return.  Now by awful, I mean that when the deep cold takes over, it’s actually still fall.  There will be WEEKS of nothing but snow.  It will snow until your lilac shrubs have all but disappeared and you then realize you hadn’t yet gotten around to putting your garden to sleep and your yard will be a mess come spring.  There are no trumpets or warning that herald the dreaded winter, it does not pussyfoot or take it’s time….it slaps you in the face and doesn’t wait for your reaction.  Winter here  is so very awful.

2) There is no orchestra here.  I know right, what the heck?  Yes I am being serious.  I researched it before I came and I was bummed then and still am bummed.  It’s hard but I’m surviving.

3) There are few amazingly delicious restaurants.  It sucks and then sucks some more but, it is what it is.  If you love fast food chain restaurants, you will be in heaven.

4) It is difficult making friends in a transient city.  That’s the long and short of it.

5) The city has not gotten around to doing much in the way of beautification. I’d like to talk with City Hall about this but, since they haven’t responded to any of my other queries, I don’t think they will respond to this one.

6) Grocery shopping threw me for a loop.  It was hard finding so many things I had taken for granted in Toronto.  If I did find a much sought after item, it wasn’t the best quality.  I doesn’t matter what grocery store I go to.  Gosh I miss mangoes.

7) This is not a pedestrian city.  Everything is spread far out and the public transit system is young.  I’ve heard they are working on improving it but it has a ways to go yet.  Don’t get me wrong, you can use the transit system but, it may take some time to get used to it.

8) There appears to be only one recreation centre here.  It’s super awesome in all that it offers but, it isn’t prorated and therefore VERY expensive if you only want to do  few laps in the pool or around the track.

9) Most houses here are brown or grey.  The shades might vary but, they are still brown or grey. It simply is not a colourful city.  If you find a house that a different colour, the relief to your eyes is palpable.

10) The new style of architecture here is seriously lacking and the sentiment of the many “experts” I have spoken to is that, there will be many unhappy people here in a few years.  The newer homes are simply being built too quickly and care is not being taken.  I personally recommend an older home.

I think those are enough con:)

The Pros

1) The never ending blue sky.  Honestly, I can’t get enough of it.

2) The lack of humidity and smog.  Coming from Toronto, I can tell you  that breathing in there during the summer months, is like having a heavy meal without the satisfaction or the nutrition.


4) The opportunity to start from scratch.

5) Fresh delicious foods such as grass-fed beef, wild meats, fresh free-run eggs, fresh veggies in season.  All these things are easy to come by if you meet the right people or make the right connections.

6) Chuckwagon races.

7) Cowboy boots everywhere.

8) Hmmm, cowboys everywhere?

9) The folks I have had the pleasure to meet and make friends with have been genuinely kind and helpful in our transition.

10) There is a Reggae band based here.  I know right?  I was not expecting that.  They are called Tasman Jude, I haven’t heard them perform yet but will as soon as I have the opportunity.  I am excited:)

11) There is a free to view art gallery and a brand new and gorgeous library.

12) The surrounding mountains and rivers and fields!

13) Many programs for kids.  This is actually a really great place to raise kids if you can make friends with other families.  When we go out, baby Ang is much adored by all whom we come across.  Parents don’t seem as harangued by their kids and it is common to see children out with their families.  Coming from Toronto, this was refreshing.  I think many families in Toronto have an on-call sitter.

14) The restaurants I have enjoyed eating at include: Rics Grill, Mucho Burrito, Ramona’s, The Taj Indian restaurant, Lefty’s (in Bezanson), AND El Norteno’s Taco Stand.  YUM!

I’ve listed more pros as I strive to be optimistic:) Does anyone have anything to add to either list?


photo 4photo 3photo 1

There is that blue sky I mentioned.  We got quite close to this deer whilst playing at  the playground.  We enjoyed creeping up as close as we could and hoped to be able to pet it;-)

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JOBS JOBS JOBS~~~Grande Prairie

  Finding a job was secondary to our move but, jobs do of course come in handy.  Most people moving to Grande Prairie are coming here for work.  It’s still kind of a secret that Grande Prairie has a HUGE job market so, I’m here telling you that there are jobs here.  There are so many jobs here.  Right now there is a huge hiring boom as many oil workers and their families head back to their hometowns.  Come September there will be yet another hiring boom as rigs start up again for the extremely cold winter months.  

Are there only rough, outdoor jobs available?  Nope, but those do pay mucho mucho dinero.  Seriously.  There are jobs available in just about every industry and they do pay equal to or, substantially more, than their counterparts in other cities/provinces.  Not to mention the enormous new hospital being built at this time, there will be so many positions opening up once it is open.

(One position I’d like to see filled here is that of midwife.  There are no Alberta registered midwives working in Grande Prairie.  I won’t even consider getting pregnant again if there isn’t a midwife here to take my case.  Doctors here are few and far between and while doctors are wonderful in their own right, I’ve only met one so far who I would see again and be able to trust and alas, he is not an obstetrician.  Sure, I haven’t met all the doctors in Grande Prairie, I’ve only met a few but, aside from the one mentioned above, I’d never willingly see any of the others again.  I found them insecure, rude and pushy.  I found them lacking in general knowledge in regards to breastfeeding and general infant nutrition and I found them condescending. That said, if there are any midwives out there looking for something new, if you are up for an adventure and a challenge, please, oh please come to Grande Prairie.  For that matter, if there are any awesome doctors out there that need new patients and you know you are a good doctor, feel free to get in touch with me.  As it stands I’ll have to get my yearly physical when I visit Toronto this Summer.)

If you have thought of moving to GP for work, and you think you might want to work on a rig and bring in the big bucks, feel free to get all of your safety tickets before coming.  If you can’t/don’t want to, there are companies who will send you for your tickets before you begin work if, you are the right person for the job.  If rigging isn’t for you, that’s cool, there are many other places to work and you might find you fit in well with something you never thought you’d enjoy.  If you are willing but not qualified, the company will train you or get you into an apprenticeship.  Once that happens, all sorts of opportunities open up for you.  You might simply be required to have an open mind.

In my previous post, I talked briefly about the housing situation here.  It’s really awful.  Staying at an extended stay hotel isn’t a bad thing until you can properly look around and find what you need.  I recommend going through a reputable  real estate company for a rental property.  Don’t expect to find a place before coming here by looking on Kijiji or some such avenue.  In my experience, there are too many ways to be ripped off.  You may end up lucking out and get a job where the company pays for your hotel and even arranges transportation for you to and from work.  Not a bad thing at all.







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Enter, Grande Prairie Alberta~~The Big Move

I’ve wanted to write this for so long but…stuff happens.  Here I am now, my 2 1/2 year old is allowing me time on the computer while he watches Curious George….Oh wait, here he is.  Bear with me.

Right, here goes…Moving to Grande Prairie wasn’t a hard decision to make.  I had wanted to move from Toronto for some time and while we really, really wanted to live on the East coast, my brother told us how much he loved the ruggedness and newness of Grande Prairie. Neither of us had any particular attachments anywhere and are not daunted by the thought of a big move, so we gave it a shot.

As we had an eight month old at the time, my husband drove out here with my sister and her boyfriend and another friend and I stayed behind with baby Ang to pack and get stuff organized.  After they secured a place for us to live temporarily, he came back to help finish packing and we then flew out together. (Right here I have to give a shout out to Air Canada for being extremely helpful with the exception of the ticket agent that morning.  The pilot and co-pilot, the flight attendants etc, were all freaking awesome!!  I wish I could remember them by name.  They were helpful. they were resourceful and and they were kind.  I am grateful.) It was a relief and a joy to know we were starting fresh.  Don’t get me wrong, TDot is a wicked awesome city but, I’d had enough.  I had suffered from claustrophobia for the last few years living there.  I had begun a metamorphosis at some point and the city life just didn’t appeal to me any more.  My husband considered himself a city boy but had no particular attachment to Toronto and needed a change as well. So, off we were to Grande Prairie.

The trip went well.  My baby was adorable and traveled well for one so young. The drive to our new house from the airport was something else.  The cabbie got lost but I’m pretty sure it was on purpose so he would collect a higher fare. The landscape left much to be desired and the wind was blowing fiercely.  I thought we were in the middle of a hurricane or something.  I still haven’t gotten used to being out in the wind but, I now realize that no one goes out in the wind.  I’ve never stayed in for inclement weather before but you have to with the winds out here.  I should mention that I walk everywhere.  I am a pedestrian.  There are few pedestrians here, so really I’m the only one staying home because of the wind.  Everyone else goes about their business as usual in their enormous trucks.  I gotta learn to drive and get a truck:)

Most folks that come here get themselves a nice new home or condo.  Whether it is rented or bought, it is more than likely very newly built.  Our first home was no different.  It sucked big time sharing with our moving companions, we are used to our own space but, we only did it for a short time before moving 20 minutes north to Sexsmith. The home we rented in Grande Prairie was run by a property management group.  I can’t remember the name right now but, I will post it when I do.  What I can tell you is that many rentals are owned and or operated by people who the average person wouldn’t want to share a meal with.  They suck.  They suck so bad and leave a bad taste in your mouth.  They cheat you and rob you blind.  They take advantage because this is an oil town and they think everyone is rolling in dough.  I will admit that as it is a transient city, there are many who will rent a place and trash it before moving on, but shoooooot, the enormous rents more than cover that, not to mention, you never get your damage deposit back.  Our first home was no exception to the rule.  The woman who collected our rent was always late to pick it up and would never get her ass in gear to set up email money transfers and tried charging us late fees.  We could never get in touch with anyone else nor would she give us the address to her office.  She always appeared high and was generally awful to deal with.  None of the issues with the house were ever fixed including a falling down deck, broken oven, and smoke detectors.  We were so happy to move out of there!

Living in Sexsmith was nice.  My son was still in a phase where he napped 3 times per day and nursed every hour that he was awake.  Sexsmith was quiet and peaceful and got us through just perfectly.  We met lovely people and made friends with the wonderful women at the health food store as well as at the library. We lived in a little house on the prairie just as I had always imagined I might one day. Sexsmith was great for a year and then we moved back into GP, this time, into our own home.  Gosh, it sure felt good!  We bought a little bungalow with a huge backyard close to downtown and we love it here.  Our Realtor was our perfect match and we think of him fondly.Thanks again Kris!

So, that’s how it all happened.  I will share more details in up coming posts.  Peace.

(The pictures you see are of my little neighbour hood.   That gang of white tail deer often hangs out in front of my house.  Somehow they know how to cross the very busy street and make it to the other side unharmed.  I’m not sure if they will be a nuisance but noone bats an eye here.  I know in Toronto, a deer made it’s way down the Don Valley and ended up downtown and the cops were called.  So damn funny.)

IMG_54491 IMG_54571 IMG_54641 IMG_54671 IMG_55061 IMG_55071 IMG_55101 IMG_55121