Monday, December 24, 2018

5 Favourite 2018 Margy Meanders Posts

Each year I like sharing posts that were favourites with my readers. Here are the top 5 for 2018 in order. Click the titles to read the posts.

1. Gumboot Girls:  I participate in a monthly online book club. My review of the memoir anthology Gumboot Girls edited by Lou Allison and Jane Wilde was a hit. They have recently released a new book Dancing in Gumboots about the Comox region on Vancouver Island.

An anthology about women's lives in the 60s and 70s.

Related Post: Darkest Before the Dawn by Canadian author Mike Martin.

2. Lake Washington Ship Channel:  Wayne and I enjoy traveling for college sports. The University of Washington is within driving distance from our part-time Bellingham condo. Here we enjoy football, basketball and softball games, plus sightseeing.

A cruiser heading through the Montlake Cut.

Related post: USC Basketball Sport-cation.

3. Cruisin' to Campbell River's Discovery Harbour Marina:  We keep our 24' Bayliner at the marina in Powell River. From this home base we can explore many destinations along the BC Coast and popular Desolation Sound.

Our 2452 at the Discovery Harbour Marina for the night.

Related post: An overnight cruise to Van Anda on Texada Island.

4. Tofino and Ucluelet, BC:  Last May I had lots of fun on a trip with my friend Yvonne Maximchuk to the west side of Vancouver Island. We visited galleries, beautiful beaches and then the Filberg Lodge in Comox for her art show.

Here I am at Chesterman Beach on a misty day.

Related post: Drawn to Sea by Yvonne Maximchuk.

5. Make Ahead Breakfast Enchiladas:  I find lots of interesting things to make by following blog parties and hops. I enjoy cooking in our float cabin home the best, and love testing out new recipes. The one you liked best was easy breakfast enchiladas.

Related post: Ginger spice cake.

2018 was a very good year up the lake at the float cabin and meandering around. We hope yours was as well. - Wayne and Margy

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ginger Spice Cake

Ginger Spice Cake hot from the oven.
Wayne and I like something sweet to end our dinners. We sometimes buy pies and cakes at the market on shopping day, but after we've been up the lake at our cabin for a week or so, I get a chance to do some baking. This week I wanted something spicy and sweet, so I picked Ginger Spice Cake.

I reviewed my cookbooks but didn't find a recipe that sounded "just right." I went online and found one at Epicurious.

Ginger Spice Cake


Mix wet and dry ingredients separately.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk


Mix together in small batches.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cut parchment paper to fit the pan bottom and place it inside. I chose to use a rectangular pan for easier cutting.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg, molasses, sugar, and melted butter until thick. I don't have an electric mixer so I used a whisk and mixed by hand.

Mix well between each addition.
Gradually mix in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk.

I didn't have any buttermilk so I added one tablespoon of lemon juice (or you can use vinegar) to a cup of regular milk and let it sit for five minutes.

Beat for 1 minute after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the cake’s structure. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour into a prepared cake pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top until even. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. My cake took 50 minutes in my propane oven.

I didn't frost my cake. I served it with a spoonful of the Apple Pie Filling I canned earlier in the week and a dollop of whipped cream.

Topped with home canned Apple Pie Filling and whipped. cream.

It made a nice end to our comfort food dinner of beef strips in gravy over masked potatoes with a side of steamed homegrown carrots and broccoli. Yum! -- Margy

Saturday, December 8, 2018

"Darkest Before the Dawn" by Mike Martin

I always like to give credit to my blogging friend Crafty Gardener for leading me to a great author, Mike Martin. He's a Canadian born in Newfoundland, the location he's picked for his Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series.  I've read several of the books including A Tangled Web.

Mike's newest and seventh book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn, One of the great things about his books is that you can read one as a stand-alone without difficulty. But knowing more of the backstory is always good.

The main character is Sgt. Winston Windflower, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer of Cree heritage that is posted in Grand Bank, Newfoundland.

Grand Bank is a real town of about 2,500 residents. It's four hour's drive west of St. John's on the southern tip of the Burin Peninsula.  As a coastal community, it's heritage is closely tied to the sea and fishing, especially cod. This YouTube video by Travis Parsons (Vinland) Photography will give you a feel for the area.

The story opens with Sgt. Winston Windflower making a presentation to women at the Grand Bank United Church. A series of break-ins has people unnerved. After all, it's a small town where people rarely lock their doors. Then circumstances escalate and the story quickly evolves into a murder mystery.

The plot expands to include the topics of suicide, limited mental health services, drugs and even bit coins. Grand Bank may be small and remote, but like most places around the world it has similar problems. You also experience small town life, get to know its people including Sgt. Windflower's wife Sheila Hillier (the mayor) and their newborn daughter Amelia Louise, his faithful collie Lady, and a ghostly specter haunting their newly renovated BandB. All of the characters are well developed and well rounded.

Wayne and I visited Newfoundland in 2009 and again in 2014. It's an exciting destination to explore with small outport villages, some much smaller than Grand Bank.

I like that Mike uses his native province as the setting because I enjoy reading about places I've visited. Now, back to the story.

Life is usually calm in Grand Bank. Then Sgt. Windflower is called to the scene of a gruesome murder in a private home. One murder leads to another. What could be happening in this seemingly quiet community? And the biggest question, will he fulfill the tradition and get his man? You'll have to read Darkest Before the Dawn to find out?

Come take a drive around Grand Bank. Your starting point is the RCMP Station.

I've said this before but it's true, the author couldn't have chosen a better locale in which to set his story. It's a perfect match.

Mike's writing style gave me a strong mental picture of the people and places. I was able to relate personally. Even if you've never been to Newfoundland, the plot and characters will make you feel right at home.

You can find out more about Mike Martin at:

Mike Martin on Crime Writers of Canada
Mike Martin on Twitter
Mike Martin's Author Page on Amazon
Mike Martin on !ndigo
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series on Facebook
Mike Martin book reviews on the Crafty Gardener blog

Darkest Before the Dawn is available in print and ebook formats. Online options include, and !ndigo/Chapters. -- Margy