Life, Inspired ❦ The Weekend Review – January 18 and 25, 2015

Welcome to Life, Inspired — The Weekend Review. This is the weekly column where I take a step back from the recipes so you can have a wider look at what’s been inspiring me, moving me, or just catching my fancy out there in the life beyond my kitchen.

What Happened Last Week

I had this post 95 percent written last week Saturday, ready for finishing touches and publication on Sunday. Then, life happened.

My telephone rang at 4:30 am on Sunday, January 18. It was my daughter, Jenn, wishing me a happy birthday. Nice, but a little early, don’t you think? She then informed me it was time to go to the hospital, as baby was on her way almost four weeks early. I learned that I can get fully dressed and out the door in five minutes, and joined my daughter and her husband at the birthing centre. After a long 24 hours Miss Baby H was born, another beautiful little girl who’s already stolen my heart. She’s doing well, but has had a few issues and is still in hospital, so I’ve been busy supporting her parents who are spending every minute they can with her.

This has been a week of joy, concern, running on empty, meal delivery, wonder and love. I have to tell you, I’m already smitten with this little marvel! The beauty of love is that it’s infinitely expandable. No matter how many grandchildren I have, each can have my whole heart. I’m so blessed to have these four little girls in my life!

While blogging was out of the question last week (I did try, but functioning brain cells are a requirement), I did take some time to enjoy breakfast out with my other daughter, Meredith, and her two younger children. I spent some time holding Miss Baby M, who was 18 days old at the time. Here she is, holding hands with Nana. I hope I’ll be able to do the same soon with her new cousin!

Little Hand in Mine | © Marlene Cornelis

Can We Talk About Age?

(My original plan was to publish this on my birthday. As I explained above, something much more important intervened.)

Age is a subject that’s been on my mind for a few years now. I’ve done a lot of things at a young age in my life, like learning to cook, getting married, having children and advancing in my career. I’ve been fortunate to be gifted with grandchildren at a relatively young age, too. Then there are the experiences that didn’t happen for me until much later than the norm, with the result that each was like a burst of youthful excitement. These include my first rock concert in my thirties (I know, really?), and a host of adventures once I entered into my fifties: canoeing, my first warm-destination winter vacations (Arizona, Cuba and Florida), renting a summer cottage on the beach, motorcycle touring (except for a couple of best-forgotten rides as a teenager), boating and, of course, blogging.

I’ve been lucky to have good genes. My mother looked young for her age, as do her sisters, and so far I seem to be following in their footsteps. (I think those high Flemish cheekbones have been holding up the rest of my face.) Yes, the visible signs of aging are there, as they should be, and I’m okay with that. I don’t need or wish to look young, and I certainly don’t want to be plasticized. I just want to look good for my age, crows feet, gray hairs and all. In fact, when I look back at photos of my much younger self, I seem somehow unformed, like I hadn’t yet grown into who I was meant to become. And of course, I still haven’t.

I’m fortunate to be in good health and moderately fit (hmmm, need to see what I can do to ramp that up a bit). If occasionally I feel every one of my days, for the most part it’s not an issue. I decided a long time ago not to be one of those people who piss and moan about their age. I don’t refer to myself as old in that self-deprecating way that so many do because, to use a cliche, what you think about you bring about.

So why is it that I’ve felt so reticent about sharing my age, that number that doesn’t have any particular bearing on who I am and how I feel?  It’s partly because I don’t feel it’s a label that really fits me. And it’s also because of a negative experience.

Unfortunately, a few years ago I encountered some ageist attitudes in the workplace; they weren’t necessarily directed at me, but they stung all the same. While this didn’t change how I think about myself, the experience made me wary of being arbitrarily dismissed as irrelevant if I were to make my age known. I know this isn’t reasonable for a few reasons:

  1. why would I care about such narrow-minded views?
  2. it’s not as if you couldn’t figure out my approximate age by looking at me and hearing me talk about my life. And,
  3. I don’t consider myself irrelevant. Anything but, in fact.

While our emotional responses aren’t always logical they are powerful, and the experience had a greater impact on me than I care even now to admit.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in denial about my age or the effects of aging. As someone said to me last week, why should ‘old’ have any different value than ‘young’ as a descriptor? ‘Old’ should just be a fact, not an attitude. Sadly, ours is not a culture that honours or celebrates aging or elders. Perhaps, due to the influence of the demographic bulge known as the Baby Boom, of which I’m part, this will start to change. Maybe it’s time that I do my part to help make that happen.

So, I’m making a change in attitude, starting right now. I’m going to step right up, claim and celebrate the vibrant, vital, engaged, energetic, optimistic, wise(r), dreaming-for-the-future, adventurous, learning-new-things, slightly-wrinkled-on-the-outside and girlish-on-the-inside age that I am.

Today, I own 57. Happy birthday to me!

Around the Web

I just saw This Girl Can on a friend’s Facebook feed, and had to share it here. As this video shows, there’s nothing especially glamorous about working out. Love how they keep it powerful and real. And how many of us can relate to “I jiggle, therefore I am”?

Getting back to food (I think that’s what this blog is really about, right?) I absolutely must share my friend Redawna’s recipe for homemade vanilla extract. Let’s see, it starts with a bottle of vodka. Check it out at Nutmeg Disrupted!

Janice, of the must-read blog Kitchen Heals Soul writes the ‘Kitchen Geekery’ column over at Food Bloggers of Canada, sharing all manner of  kitchen tips and tidbits with the science behind them. Having had a few spectacular cake fails due to improper cake pan prep, I thought I’d share her column on this topic so you’re not left facing some pieces of cake on a plate and the rest of it stuck in the pan, as happened to me at Christmas. Oh yes, real life strikes in the kitchen at the most inopportune times!

I know I’ve talked a lot about podcasts recently, but I thought I’d share a list that the popular site The Kitchn published lately. (And yes, they spell Kitchn with no ‘e.’)

Weekly Recap

This is a small recap for two weeks, as I didn’t get a single post published in the past seven days. And I’m okay with that. because sometimes life throws more important things our way. Looking back to the previous week, there were two posts focusing on health (hmmm, is it January?). Although I talk a lot about entertaining and hospitality in this space, the first post was all about being inhospitable to a cold, with Kale Soup with Ginger & Lemon. That was followed up by how to have a staycation on a plate by serving summery salads in winter.


  1. It is like I knew ,something was happening . so was thinking about you last week Marlene and about your birthday stay young and healthy and those are our wishes from Jean-Guy and I .we love you xoxo

    • Thank you for all your kind and generous comments, Suzanne. Yes, there definitely has been something happening around here lately! And thank you and Jean-Guy for your birthday wishes and love. Hugs ❤️

  2. Great post. First of all, congratulations. I have one grand baby and it’s really indescribable. Aging is really interesting. I’ve never had a problem with it, but sometimes certain things hit me. Like yesterday I was listening to a playlist, and there was a song called Back When We were Beautiful, sung by Emmy Lou Harris and Rodney Crowell. I replayed it to really hear the lyrics, and ended up bawling. For no reason. My mother says it continues to get worse – mostly how people treat you. She’s 86, and she says people are always yelling at her like she’s deaf. Which she isn’t. With more people living longer, perhaps the culture will improve eventually.

    • Thanks so much for your congratulations, Mimi! Grandchildren are such a blessing. My oldest two are 3 and 4, and hearing their take on life is just so refreshing.

      I have that song playing on iTunes right now as I write this, but will go back to really listen to it. I think the thing about aging that gets me is the surprise I feel when I realize someone thinks I’m old. I certainly don’t consider myself old; in fact, I generally think of myself as young. How could I be old when I have so, so much more living to do? Sounds like your mother feels the same way! Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

  3. Happy birthday

    Be proud of who you are ! I am older than you and when I get ageist comments i remind people that they need my knowledge and should respect my experience

    Thanks for starting the conversation

    • Thank you! I appreciate your perspective. You’re right, aging is an accumulation of knowledge and experience. To me, part of that is always seeking new learning, and openness to new ideas. I’m so glad you contributed to the conversation!

    • Thanks so much, Sanchi. It was an invigorating experience for me. It’s easy to get caught up in the details and routine of what we do, so it was refreshing to step back and take a look at the big picture. And I couldn’t have asked for a more engaged audience!

  4. Both mine were born 4 weeks early. They are now almost as big as me…But then maybe I have started shrinking. In my 45th year. I just wrote that. My goodness.

    • It’s always good to hear a good-news story about a situation one is experiencing – thank you! Little Miss H is home from hospital now and we’ve all breathed a sigh of relief. As for that shrinking business, I think you’re far too young for that (in my ever so expert opinion). I recall when my oldest was about 13 or 14 we were standing side by side and she was towering over me. I scolded her for wearing shoes in the house. But — yes, you’ve already guessed it — she wasn’t wearing shoes. That moment when you realize your kids have eclipsed you in some way is a memorable one.

  5. So sorry I’m late here Marlene, but you know of my technical woes and problems. But I want to wish you a very belated but very Happy Birthday and may I say you look fantastic! I just can’t understand the negative attitude towards women as they ‘age’. We get better and better don’t we? I think it’s wonderful that you found so many new adventures in your 50s. I remarried when I was 46 and have done more with my hubby than I ever did with previous hubby (not that I’m recommending divorce after 22 years, far from it, in fact, I did my darndest to keep things together, but that’s another story for another day…), although I won’t count motorbiking in that! Also, many, many congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter and I hope that things are all going well. What a blessed, beautiful woman you are. I have yet to experience the joy of grandchildren but I have faith that my day will come…
    Here’s to many more healthy, happy and joy-filled birthdays and the fulfillment of all your dreams 🙂 <3

    • Thank you so much, Sherri. I consider you one of the friends I’ve met through blogging, and so appreciate your supportive and insightful comments. And I agree that women get better as we age. I find there’s a growing confidence and sense of self assurance. Like you, I have other stories to tell and am thinking I’d like to explore memoirist writing (perhaps in combination with the food blog; after all, food is so evocative of memories).

      Things are going very well with my latest granddaughter. She was released from hospital after ten days and we’re all happy she’s home. I’m looking forward to seeing all four of my little darlings together one of these days. Their ages are 4, 3, 4 weeks and 2 weeks. Such fun (and noise) ahead!

      • So happy to hear this Marlene, on all counts, especially for your granddaughter. You are blessed indeed and I think it will be wonderful for you to explore memoir, I really do 🙂

      • Thank you, Sherri. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to explore memoir. I admire people like you who can tell their stories so honestly and compellingly, but I’m not sure I’d be able to. I have dabbled in it a little bit in my writing so far, but not enough that it could really be called memoir. Much to think about here, and I will keep your inspiration and confidence in me in mind. ☺️

  6. Happy Belated Birthday, my almost twin. Quite some time ago I set my blog to not accept comments after 21 days. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

    Which means it’s been longer than 21 days since I posted. First time that’s ever happened! I’ll go in to settings right now and change that. I intend to post once a month or so from here on in. So much going on, that there just isn’t time for more frequent posting. “And I’m okay with that. because sometimes life throws more important things our way.” (Thanks for lending me the words to define this time in my life….)

    I was going to go out and get a picture of hand-holding for my next post, and then I saw your delightful picture of hands. Would you allow me to use it to illustrate my next post (with credit and a link back to your blog, of course!) ?

    I’m glad to hear Baby H is home. And cheers to us, our birthdays, and to aging with pride.

    • So nice to hear from you, Tracey. I’m glad you’ve decided to make your blogging fit your life and not the other way around! Although, I’ll miss seeing your posts more frequently. But who am I kidding, as it’s obvious I’m behind and binge-read blogs the way some people watch shows on Netflix.

      I’d be delighted for you to use my photo, and thank you for asking! I’ll be on the lookout for your post.

      And I agree, cheers to us! I think I’ve missed your birthday, so let me say, happy birthday! (After the last month, I barely know my name, so please forgive me for forgetting the date!) I like your phrase ‘aging with pride.’ I may borrow it!

      • Happy Belated Birthday to you! Glad to hear it was a good day.

        An aside, I’m mortified to see I’ve been spelling your name wrong! I will do my best to use no ‘e’ in Tracy in future. As someone whose name is perennially misspelled, I take pride in getting other people’s right, so that compounds my embarrassment!

Leave a comment and let's chat!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.