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VERY CHERRY recipes
SUMMER | 2015 VOLUME 4 ISSUE 3
PUBLISHER AND EDITOR
TJ WALLIS EDITOR@OKANAGANWOMAN.COM
CONTENTS ON GUARD 06STANDING FOR THEE
10VOLUNTEER IMMERSION 12WE ARE FAMILY FASHION 16SUMMER PHOTOS
CREATIVE DIRECTOR LINDA HACKING
STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER WENDY MCALPINE WENDYMCALPINE.COM
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ON LITERATURE 24LADIES BOOK CLUB
26INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS 31WOMEN & WHEELS Auto Choice Awards
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OLYMPICS 36SPECIAL AMBASSADORS
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THE HOME FIRES 21KEEP BURNING
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PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE | TJ WALLIS
y husband was lending another set of eyes to proofing the magazine when he suddenly looked up and said, “This issue could be all about your family.” It wasn’t intentional, but it is true. I love the diversity in my family. And I am pleased to celebrate with the families profiled in this issue. Families are simply groups of people who love, nurture and support each other. We come in a wide variety of configurations. We drive our kids to sports, share Sunday dinners and family vacations; we annoy our siblings and argue with our spouses. That is the perfectly imperfect family. There will be very few readers who cannot relate to our first story about three women who immigrated to the Okanagan. Many Canadians are the children or grandchildren of immigrants and have heard similar stories in their own families. My adoptive father followed the promise of a better life and immigrated in the 1950s, without a word of English in his vocabulary and a few scant pennies in his pocket. Though he had many struggles in the early days, he cannot imagine his life any better. The story on International Adoption is especially close to my heart. One of my birth brothers and I were adopted as toddlers into the same family. There are always three sides to an adoption story – sacrifice and pain for the birth family who surrendered or had a child apprehended into the system – celebration and joy for the new adoptive parents - and the unique experience of every adopted child. There will always be good people who love children not born to them, however, in the not so distant past, it was almost unheard of to adopt a child of a different ethnicity. On my adoption papers (circa mid 1960s) a reference to my mother’s native ancestry is crossed off and replaced with the word, “French,” I suspect in an effort to make us more adoptable. Today we celebrate diversity in families and that is a good thing. We have another adoption story, too, about special Olympian Stacey Typusiak and her mom, Noelle. They are exceptional ambassadors for Special Olympics and their story will surely inspire you with an enthusiastic can-do attitude (page 38). Beginning on page 14, we introduce you to three same sex couples and their children who speak candidly about living, loving and forming two-mother families in the Okanagan. Our story on women and wheels completely switches gears – but hey, it’s summer in the Okanagan and that means driving to all the fabulous destinations our area has to offer! Whoever thinks a love for cars is strictly a man’s domain is stuck in the dark ages. Starting on page 33, find out what women want, what they really really want in a car. Motor on!
TJ Facebook.com/OkanaganWomanMagazine Twitter.com/OkanaganEditor FATHER PANDOSY MISSION PHOTO: TJ WALLIS
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 5
ost people born on Canadian soil dig deep roots and remain planted. While we may venture outside our borders, we keep our compasses loyally pointed to the
True North. Consistently ranked in the top ten for social progress, Canada comes ahead of the USA, Australia, and the U.K. for personal freedom, choice, mobility, and human needs.
It’s why this country attracts immigrants from distinct corners of the world, looking for the same things: economic freedom, opportunity and space, even adventure. Every immigrant woman profiled for this issue on diversity, tells a bittersweet story of the sadness inherent in leaving behind family, friends, and homeland; the excitement, wonder, and gratitude of landing in Canada; the many challenges—and rewards—of finding her voice in a new nation.
STANDING ONGUARD FORTHEE
BY SHANNON LINDEN
6 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
How Immigrant Women have come to call Canada home
Marina Dobrynina; RUSSIA Forty-year old Marina looks like a Russian model with her long, blonde hair, big eyes, and curvaceous figure, yet there’s something decidedly Italian about her, with her elegant up-to-the-minute fashion, and penchant for pasta.
Not surprising since Dobrynina says she’s a little bit of both—all the while working at becoming a true Canadian. “My husband and I bought a house and it comes with a backyard,” she says, laughing. “I’m trying to like yard work.” Relatively new to Kelowna (she moved five years ago), for Dobrynina, relocating is old hat. Born in Volgograd, the third biggest city in Russia, she left home at eighteen to become a hairstylist in Moscow. “That’s where it all happens, in the capital.” A trip to Thailand, where she met her husband of eleven years, set her on a course for new countries. An Italian from Parma,
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Kelowna’s women of the world FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: MARINA DOBRYNINA FROM RUSSIA, RENATA WARD FROM BRAZIL MANDEEP RAI FROM INDIA. PHOTOGRAPHER: WENDY MCALPINE
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he asked her to move to Italy. She absolutely loved it: the food, the fashion, and the fun, but mastering the language was another matter. After ten years she was feeling more Italian, but the economy wasn’t so promising. Her husband, a chef, now working at Valarosa Foods, had friends in Kelowna who could help him, so they took a gamble and came to the Okanagan. “Canada is welcoming to all kinds of newcomers,” Dobrynina says. “In Italy, they only love you if you’re Italian!” Once again, learning a new language posed the greatest challenge. “My husband speaks English with a strong Italian accent… I’m still working on mine.” Taking advantage of free tutoring at Project Literacy Kelowna, Dobrynina credits the nonprofit organization with helping her get a better foothold and introducing her first Russian friend. “When you know one Russian, you know the whole community,” she jokes. A lover of the lake, skiing, cycling and yoga, she is at home in Kelowna. Of course she misses her family back in Russia, but she’s finding friendship here. “Canadians are so helpful!” she enthuses. “When you ask, ‘Can you help me?’ they say yes. In fact they say, ‘Can I help you?’” Employing strategies like writing what she wants in her iPhone and showing clerks who can help, her command of the language continues to grow. Working from home as a hairstylist, she’d love to teach at an academy, and take the higher English courses she’s ready for, but all in due time. For now she is doing great, eh.
Renata Ward; BRAZIL It was 2008 when then 36-year-old Ward arrived in Montreal. At the time the provincial government was actively recruiting in Brazil and Ward, a mechanical engineer by profession, an adventurer at heart, was thinking about Australia when Quebec came calling. Right from the start she loved the city, but it was June. When a real Canadian winter descended, she says she might’ve frozen to death if it weren’t for the wisdom and generosity of colleagues at the fabric factory where she was employed. “I went to the dollar store and bought a toque
8 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
and jacket and my workmates told me I had no idea. They got together and gave me winter bedding, proper wear like gloves and a good coat.” Coming from steamy South America, it was quite an eye-opener and a heart-warmer. “ I could’ve died running for the subway,” she says. “I still have everything for sentimental reasons.” Meeting her husband was the highlight of her new adventure but when he moved her to Kelowna five years ago, she struggled. Her French improved in Montreal, but working at an Okanagan store, it became apparent her English wasn’t good enough to get by. “I couldn’t understand people, she says sadly. “I couldn’t even ask for a coffee.” Perhaps more difficult was coming to terms with the change in her economic and social status. “It’s so hard when your degree isn’t recognized and you can’t speak the language. In my country you can afford to have help with your house, cleaning, yard-work, I got my nails done. Here it costs so much to do anything.” She says Brazilians are incredibly effusive, maybe partly because they have to line up for everything and pass the time chatting. Parties are prevalent and beach time is part of every day. “I told my husband to use SPF 60 and he thought he’d be fine because he’s a carpenter in Kelowna. He’s used to outdoor heat. We went to the beach at 6 AM and were home by 10!” “I’m used to the nightlife. I want to go to the movie theater and have dinner after. Here it’s the opposite. People dress up for work and then wear flip-flops for the night out. Canadians are confusing!” Like Dobrynina, she’s not a fan of yard-work but she does it anyway. She dresses up when she
pleases because that pleases her, but acknowledges it might’ve been easier for her husband to immigrate to Brazil. “We have the beach, we have soccer. We don’t make war and we’re good with that. Here everyone is running all the time. “ Still, she knows the political corruption in Brazil is a problem for the resource rich nation and she appreciates the honesty of Canadians. Getting involved in the local art scene and tutoring students at Project Literacy helps her to feel connected. She also enjoys speaking her native Portuguese with local Brazilians and is looking to speak more French. Becoming a Canadian citizen on January 15, 2014, was a turning point for her. “Every time we sing, ‘We stand on guard for thee,’ I start to cry,” she says, smiling. “I’m inspired!”
Mandeep Rai; INDIA It is truly with a glowing heart that 36-year-old Mandeep recalls her entrance to Canada. “The air was so fresh!” More than clean, she soon learned Canada was a place of integrity when she misplaced her purse, packed to the zipper with her Indian passport, jewelry, and money. In a complete panic, she rushed to the lost and found at the Vancouver airport to discover someone had turned it in— nothing taken. “They asked me for ID but everything was in my purse!” she recalls. “They checked my passport photo and confirmed it was me. I’m so happy, I’m crying! I decided this country is good, so honest!” She says the purse—and its contents—would be gone in India. “I’d love to meet the person who turned it in!” Along with her husband, Kam, the couple marvels at how polite and caring Canadians are. “People hold doors open for others. From a
very young age children are taught manners and how important it is to be a good citizen,” Kam says. “In Indian your parents are only proud if you’re an engineer or a doctor. Canadians are proud of their kids no matter what. Numbers are important in India, not people.” Working as a cabdriver, Kam appreciates the flexibility his job affords, choosing to drive four days a week, so that he can spend more time with his family. “My husband makes fresh juice, eats well and exercises every day.” Mandeep gestures to a treadmill off the kitchen and a cupboard of Chia seeds. “He makes the kids smoothies. He took care of them while I went to school. He’s a good dad.” Educated in Punjab Province, Mandeep continued her aesthetic studies at Marvel College in Kelowna. She now operates Bless Threading House from home, offering traditional Indian procedures, like eyebrow threading, along with hair and nail treatments. She appreciates that women are well respected in Canada. “Indira Gandhi declared women are equal when she was elected Prime Minister in 1966, so things are slowly changing in India, but in Canada there’s more respect for everyone, like the disabled and the elderly.” Kam proposed to her in college in the Punjab (she says only about half of marriages are still arranged) and when family in Surrey, BC, offered to sponsor him, the couple decided to emigrate. They found the big city too busy and are now happy to be in Kelowna, where they can easily travel to see family, but have made new friends at the Okanagan Sikh Temple, where openness and avocation of human rights fit nicely with Canadian culture. “This country is beautiful. The people are beautiful—the only issue I have is how easily they get divorced,” Kam says. “If you’re going to have children, you stay together.” “We speak Punjab at home.” Mandeep nods, noting it’s important the couples’ children, nine-year old Aileen and six-year old Aemanjid, learn English and their parents’ native tongue. “But they know some Hindu, too,” Kam adds, grinning. “From watching Bollywood on TV.” “After about five years you slowly, slowly cut yourself off from India,” he admits, “and you build a life here. In India they work for money. I don’t want more money; I want a life.” Now that sounds Canadian. Need information on immigrant services? See the Kelowna Community Resources page: kcr.ca/immigrant-services or call: (250) 763-8008. For information on free English and Math tutoring, check out projectliteracykelowna.org. or call: (250) 762-2163.
No one wants to turn on the oven in the heat of an Okanagan summer. That’s what makes this no-bake cherry cheesecake perfect for this time of year! PREPARATION
Combine cherries, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch with 4 teaspoons water, then stir into the cherry mixture; return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid thickens and looks syrupy, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Process graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl; stir in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Drizzle with oil and stir to combine. Press into the bottom of a 9-by-13inch baking dish. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Spread over the crust. Spoon the cherry mixture over the top. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.
4 cups fresh halved pitted sour or sweet cherries 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided 1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons water, divided 2 tablespoons cornstarch Half a 14-ounce box graham crackers, preferably whole-wheat 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted 1/3 cup canola oil 2 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese, softened 2 cups nonfat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 9
Learn more about volunteering at these centres. North Okanagan (Coldstream to Enderby) Nexus BC Community Resource Centre 102 - 3201 30 Street, Vernon www.volunteervernon.ca 250-545-0585 Central Okanagan (Peachland to Lake Country) Kelowna Community Resources (KCR) 1735 Dolphin Avenue, Kelowna www.kcr.ca. 250-763-8008, ext. 125 or email email@example.com South Okanagan, (Penticton to Osoyoos to Princeton) The South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre 102 - 696 Main Street, Penticton www.volunteercentre.info 1-888-576-5661
VOLUNTEER IMMERSION BY JOCELYN WINTERBURN
A new location. A new start. An exciting change. You are now an Okanagan Woman.
oving to a new town can be exciting and daunting at the same time. One way to immerse yourself in a new community is to volunteer. You will meet people, learn more about your community, help make it a better place to live, increase your skills and feel good about what you are doing. Positions abound in this Valley, and regardless of your aptitudes, interests,
and abilities, there is a place for you. When Sandra moved to the North Okanagan about a year ago, she instantly became part of the community when she began volunteering at Kindale Developmental Association. The position is rewarding and she is able to use current skills and has acquired new ones. Dorothy volunteers by driving
easy p y s Ea
y r r e y h e n C hut C
seniors to their appointments and has made new friends in the process. “I get out and about and feel that my contribution allows seniors to stay at home longer.” Dorothy, like most volunteers, finds that supporting others is fulfilling and uplifting. In the North Okanagan, Nexus BC Community Resource Centre provides many excellent programs and services including those for
jobseekers, employers, immigrants, seniors and those wishing to volunteer in the community. Initially a volunteer, Twylla Genest is now Nexus BC’s Volunteer Services Manager. “Volunteering made me feel of value, raised my selfconfidence, and gave me the skills and experience I needed to look for employment.” Today, she says there are about 235 volunteer positions available from Coldstream to Enderby; there is something for everyone, whatever your interests. Potential volunteers often have questions about time commitment, where to volunteer, and whether or not they have the skills. In order to answer these questions, Nexus BC (Vernon) offers a volunteer orientation session every Wednesday afternoon. There, you learn about some of the needs and expectations of non-profit organizations. This helps to fine-tune the time and talents you wish to share. For example, would you prefer a large or small organization or a new or well-established group? Do you want to volunteer close to home or are you willing to travel further a-field? Do you want to work with children, youth, adults or seniors? Animals may be your choice. Sometimes just talking with a volunteer can help you find your spot. If you don’t have a complete skill set for the position you want, check with the organization, as training is typically offered. Being a volunteer is important work and training gives you the chance to increase your level of competence. Every contribution, no matter how small, makes a difference. There are so many positives and they are yours to discover. Happy volunteering!
Just about the time this issue of Okanagan Woman hits the streets, the first crop of cherries will be ready to do the same! By the middle of July you just might be ready for something other than cherry pie! How about an easy peasy cherry chutney? It only takes about a half hour to prepare, an hour to cook. Then chill for at least 6 hours. Makes about 12 servings. Serve with pork, or mix it with equal parts mayo and use in a ham sandwich!
1 pound cherries, pitted 1 cup cider vinegar 1/2 cup rice vinegar 1 large onion, chopped 1 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup white sugar 1/4 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Place all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, and continue simmering until the desired consistency has been reached. Chill before serving.
10 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
SLEEP SAFE IN A TOXIC WORLD
Organic Mattresses and Bed Linens Y
ou try to do the best for you and your family. You try for more organic alternatives in the food you eat. You spend the extra time reading labels to try for a non GMO diet. You exercise and take care of your body. If you have children, you promote activity for them as well. You are doing all the right things to enhance your health and well-being, but could you be doing more? The triumvirate of health includes good nutrition, fitness, and….sleep. Shouldn’t your mattress and bedding fall under the same scrutiny as what you take into your body and how you treat it? Unfortunately, not many of us understand what is really inside of our mattress or what our bedding may have been treated with before packaging, or what that smell is coming from the new furniture or that memory foam topper you just bought?
The bedroom should be your sanctuary, a safe environment and buffer from everything that bombards you throughout the day. So many of us believe that there are regulations in place to keep us safe from harmful products, but we are wrong. There are more than 61 chemicals used to make memory foam, some of which are cancer causing benzenes, volatile organic compounds (voc’s), and if made in China….there could even be heavy metals. Bed linens aren’t safe either…..formaldehyde is used to eliminate wrinkles, and there are other chemicals. That new imported furniture can have up to 6 times the formaldehyde count due to the particle board in it’s construction. Mattresses can have toxic fire retardants built into them as well. We are slowly poisoning ourselves over time. It’s time to take back our bedrooms and enhance our health in this place of healing.
WISE ADVICE: “Always buy a good bed and a good pair of shoes…..because, if you’re not in one, you’re in the other!”
Here’s the good news! Sleepy’s offer a wide range of green, natural, and organic alternatives to enhance your health and allow you to rejuvenate. Our Nature’s Embrace Unison organic latex mattress offers 100% certified natural organic latex with pure untreated wool quilted into a 100% certified organic cotton…. no greenwashing here, this mattress is made from nature. Latex offers that wow effect that you look for in a mattress. Made from the sap of the rubbertree….it is super resilient and lasts 20 years +, it breathes and sleeps cool, and it is antimicrobial which is important for allergy and asthma sufferers. The wool wicks away moisture and acclimatizes to the sleeper….cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter and adds to the anti-dust mite/anti bacteria feature of the latex, due to the lanolin. Breathe clean fresh air while you sleep. We
also carry a line of affordable organic wool products that include toppers, duvets, pillows, and pillow protectors. We are the latex experts and we design and can even customize our mattresses for each individual’s needs. You will find a wide range of latex, more natural spring type and biofoam type mattresses, and greener sleep sets. We tell you what is inside of each mattress down to the density and how green it really is. Our eco friendly bedding and solid wood furniture round out our healthier bedroom options.
Sleepy’s – The Mattress Store - #3-1725 Baron Rd. - Kelowna. T. 250-868-2337 E. firstname.lastname@example.org W. www.sleepys.ca OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 11
“Everybody has basically the same family – it’s just reconfigured slightly different from one to the next.”
THE MCDONALD/VON PANDER CLAN ENJOYING FAMILY TIME AT THE LAKE PICTURED LEFT TO RIGHT: CHLOE-CELESTE HOUGHTON, LISA VON PANDER, CYDNEY MCDONALD, ABIGAIL HOUGHTON, ALEXANDER HOUGHTON. PHOTOGRAPHER: WENDY MCALPINE
- Douglas Coupland, Canadian Author
the American mockumentary that follows the lives of a large, whacky clan, provides an honest, often hilarious, perspective of family life. But perhaps that depiction is closer to reality than one might think. Family relationships are becoming increasingly diverse. With so many blended, single parent, extended and co-habiting arrangements, it seems the era of the traditional family has declined to the point of no return - displaced by a whole grab bag of family structures. All these different families are typical, because there is no typical. We’re celebrating just that! In this summer issue, three same–sex couples talk candidly to Okanagan Woman about living, loving and forming twomother families in the Okanagan.
12 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
WEARE BY LAURA GOSSETT
CYDNEY MCDONALD & LISA VON PANDER: At the tender age of twenty, Cydney McDonald became pregnant and married Paul, the father of her daughter. They went on to have two more children. “Paul and I lived together on and off for nine years, then ended up separating about five years ago,” Cydney explains. “We’re still very close…and while I loved him, I wasn’t in love with him.” Two years later, Lisa von Pander
came into her life. They both worked as health care-aides at Kelowna General Hospital and one day their shifts collided. “I had never been in a same-sex relationship before. I invited her over for pot-stickers and a bottle of wine, and she never left,” Cydney jokes, adding, “We fell in love… Lisa was the first and only person I exposed my kids to after separating from their father.” While Cydney, thirty-three, describes herself as bi-sexual, her 26-year old partner, Lisa, says, “I’m the rainbow sheep of my family. I always knew I was different and, by high school, I recognized I was gay. When I met Cydney, I was reluctant to get serious. When you’re a lesbian, a bisexual
“Poor Cydney,” Lisa laughs. “When she came out, she had to tell her parents she was bi, in a relationship and that we’d moved in together - all at the same time.” But Cydney’s extended family has since embraced the couple’s union, becoming an integral part of their extended family. The children each adjusted differently to Lisa’s presence in their lives. “For thirteenyear old Abigail, our eldest … it was difficult,” Cydney recalls. “Not surprisingly, she fantasized about her mom and dad re-uniting and living happily ever after. It took some time for her to realize that was not going to happen. Chloe-Celeste, our six-year old, has a very close connection to Lisa. She is constantly saying, ‘I’m so lucky! I have two moms and a dad.’ And our only boy, twelve-year old Alexander, complains about being surrounded by women - sisters, moms, even the cats are girls.” Heading to Mexico this year for a family vacation, the couple is excited. “Our kids really have it all,” Cydney says, smiling. “We are happy…our house is full of love.”
family“ woman can leave you - not only for another woman - but also for a man… I was wary.” Even so, the plot of their love story moved swiftly and soon Lisa, who doesn’t want biological children of her own, became a second mom to Cydney’s family. “The children live with us, but they see their dad whenever they like,” Cydney explains. “Paul appreciates everything Lisa does for the kids. He often says he wishes he could have made me this happy.” The couple consider theirs one big, inclusive family, with Paul coming over for special occasions, holidays and even some Sunday dinners. But it wasn’t always easy.
“We are happy… our house is full of .”
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 13
HEIDI STARR & KARI CROSBY: Almost from the beginning of their six-year relationship, Heidi wanted to have a child. “Not having a baby was a deal breaker for me. But Kari loves and supports me completely.” The couple chose an anonymous sperm donor from a catalogue at a fertility clinic in Kelowna, basing their choice on the donor’s profile and genetic/medical history. That was the easy part. What ensued was a long and pricey path to
parenthood. Heidi had medical issues that made becoming and staying pregnant difficult. First she had a miscarriage, then an abnormal fertilization causing a condition that required surgery, which was followed by a nine-month break to allow Heidi’s body time to recover. “We had decided if the next procedure didn’t work, we were going to pack it in, perhaps look into adoption,” Forty-five year old Kari says. “We were running out of money, Heidi was physically ravaged, we were both tired and very discouraged…but that last insemination – that twelfth vial of semen – it worked!”
KARI CROSBY (LEFT) AND HEIDI STARR (RIGHT) STROLLING IN THE PARK WITH THEIR BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER, WINTER STARR (MIDDLE). PHOTOGRAPHER: WENDY MCALPINE
After three years of trying – and tens of thousands of dollars later - they welcomed into their
“ fam “She was the most wanted child ever to be born in the Okanagan”
home Winter, a beautiful, blond, baby girl. “She was the most wanted child ever to be born in the Okanagan,” Heidi chuckles, as her lively little toddler, now twenty-one months old, clambers onto her knee. “We’re open, bold and unapologetic about who we are. But honestly, we’re a pretty normal family. I drive Kari a little nutty sometimes, but I make killer Swedish pancakes and that makes up for it.” When asked to compare their relationship to their earlier mixed-gender marriages, Kari says, “We each give equally… trading-off household tasks and sharing Winter’s care.” Heidi chimes in, grinning, “There is no man in this relationship. There will be two brides walking down the aisle when we get married in March, 2016.”
14 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
CHELSEY & NATAZHA NIELSEN: Three months after they met online in 2009, Chelsey (now twenty-eight) and Natazha (now thirty-four) got married on a Kelowna beach before a marriage commissioner, with six friends as witnesses. No one else knew.
mily “ ARE
For two years, we have had a nursery filled with a crib, change table and rocking chair, but no baby. It’s time there was baby in there.”
“We were terrified our families would not be good with it, so we didn’t tell anyone,” Chelsey explains. But when a letter inadvertently arrived at her mom’s home, addressed to
LEFT TO RIGHT: CHELSEY AND NATAZHA NIELSEN ADMIRING THEIR NEW BABY BOY, DAXON ADAM JOHN NIELSEN, BORN APRIL 9TH, 2015. PHOTOGRAPHER: WENDY MCALPINE
Chelsey Nielsen – her new married sir name– their secret was out. Both extended families were shocked and disappointed not to be included in the wedding. So to make amends, one year later, the couple renewed their vows in front of them and 150 guests. They knew then they wanted to have a child, announcing it at the celebration and requesting cash in lieu of wedding gifts to offset the cost of the expensive procedure. “Then we got scared and bought a TV with the money - our first flat screen. We still have it.” Natazha laughs. “We just needed more time.” When Chelsey’s grandmother passed away in 2014, her dad gave the couple some of the inheritance to fund Chelsey’s pregnancy. They were ready. Chelsey and Natazha didn’t have to wait as long, nor spend nearly as much, as Heidi and Kari. After only the second intrauterine insemination, Chelsey became pregnant. If everything goes as planned, when this summer issue hits newsstands, a baby boy named Daxon will be about two months old.
“We’re super excited,” a very pregnant Chelsey gushes. “And so are our families. It is the only grandchild they are going to have on both sides. For two years, we have had a nursery filled with a crib, change table and rocking chair, but no baby. It’s time there was baby in there.”
THE NEW NORM OF DIVERSITY… On July 20, 2005, Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Since then, increasingly complex and changing family structures continue to challenge preconceptions of what constitutes a “family”. “Huge stereotypes still exist out there about dysfunction in the gay community,” Cydney McDonald says. “We just want people to know we’re like any other family. We go to work, parent, pay bills, have friends over, argue about who takes the garbage out - the sexual part of our life doesn’t define who we are.” In the end, everyone agrees. The connecting factor is love and respect. Isn’t that what makes a family?
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 15
FACEBOOK.COM/SANTANABROWNPHOTOGRAPHY MUA & HAIR: JAYME FOCHLER
orgeous sunsets, floppy hats, the outdoors, camping, cycling and walking along the beach - and if you are super daring, skateboarding down Knox Mountain. We LOVE the photos submitted for the summer issue. Each of the five photographers captured our Okanagan summer in fun and creative ways! Visit okanaganwoman.com for links to each of their websites.
PHOTOGRAPHER: SANTANA BROWN
IT’S SUMMER IN THE OKANAGAN SHUSWAP AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!
FACEBOOK.COM/PINKCADDYGIRL MODEL: NICOLE RICH
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PHOTOGRAPHER/ CREATIVE CONCEPT: LISE GUYOT, LG PHOTOGRAPHY WOLFANDSADIE.COM MUA: BRAMBLE LEE PRYDE MODELS: KERISA & AMBER DENISON
PHOTOS TO OKANAGAN WOMAN MAGAZINE WANT TO SUBMIT PHOTOS TO OUR QUARTERLY PHOTO CONTEST? HERE’S SOME TIPS: 1. WE LIKE IMAGES THAT PORTRAY STRONG, CONFIDENT WOMEN. 2. AT LEAST ONE OF THE TEAM MEMBERS, I.E. THE PHOTOGRAPHER, THE MODEL, THE HAIR AND MAKE-UP ARTIST, MUST BE FROM THE OKANAGAN SHUSWAP AREA. 3. PAST PHOTO SPREADS CAN BE VIEWED ON OUR WEBSITE AND WE STRONGLY URGE YOU TO TAKE A LOOK TO GET A FEEL FOR THE KINDS OF PHOTOS THAT APPEAL TO US. 4. THIS FALL (2015) OUR THEME IS BACK TO SCHOOL - THINK EDUCATIONAL PROPS CHALKBOARDS, DESKS, BOOKS, LET YOUR CREATIVE JUICES RUN AMOK! HAVE FUN! PLEASE VISIT US ONLINE FOR PRIZE INFORMATION AND TO FIND OUT HOW TO SUBMIT PHOTOS FOR OUR UPCOMING FALL ISSUE. THE SUBMISSION DEADLINE FOR THE FALL ISSUE IS JULY 31, 2015 OKANAGANWOMAN.COM
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PHOTOGRAPHER: TESS PARENT PHOTOGRAPHY TESSPARENTPHOTOGRAPHY.COM MUA: CHRISTY TISDALE, STUDIO ON MAIN STUDIOONMAIN.CA HAIR: AMANDA EISLING, STUDIO ON MAIN STUDIOONMAIN.CA MODEL: JORDAN NOHR WARDROBE: SOMETHING PRETTY BOUTIQUE FACEBOOK.COM/SOMETHINGPRETTYBOUTIQUE
PHOTOGRAPHER: SHAUN BOS SHAUNBOS.COM MUA: JENNY MCKINNEY JENNYMCKINNEY.COM HAIR: AMY HOLLAND AMYHOLLANDARTISTRY.COM MODEL: ALICIA MEIER WARDROBE: ANGIE BRICKER/GEORGIE GIRL GEORGIEGIRL.CA
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PHOTOGRAPHER: MEGAN LONG MODEL: MEGAN LONG
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THERE IS NOTHING MORE PRECIOUS THAN THE CARBON-BASED LIVING CREATURES I AM SHARING THIS JOURNEY WITH.
wasn’t able to get my vehicle out of my driveway on Monday January 5th to get to work, and I’m sure many Okanagan Woman readers have similar stories to tell. I’m glad I took some pictures of what that snowfall did to the landscape, because as I gaze around my garden and neighbourhood now, it seems like I imagined it, or it was something out of a movie. Although that blizzard of early January was truly epic, snowpack levels for all of BC are either average or below average, and levels for the Okanagan are lower, at “moderately low”. A quote from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources web site: “This is the second lowest provincial average snow water equivalent in the past 31 years of record”. (http://bcrfc.env.gov. bc.ca/bulletins/watersupply/current.htm). I live in a semi-rural area near Armstrong, and every summer evening a lovely breeze kicks up off the mountain behind us, proceeds over Fortune Creek, and cools the air for us. Usually, it’s a very welcome occurrence. But I admit, particularly when I hear about low snow pack levels, sometimes I look up at that mountain and worry about the prospect of a forest fire being hurried down by that evening breeze. We lived here in 1998 when a forest fire caused the
HOME fires burning BY: LISE SIMPSON
evacuation of Salmon Arm, and as the Mars water bombers, since retired, dipped into Shuswap Lake and scooped up tens of thousands of litres of water to fight the fire, we could see the ruby red glow of the sky as the fire threatened. And I still recall listening to the news on August 17th 2003 and being totally shocked to hear that 238 homes in Kelowna had been lost the night before to the Okanagan Mountain Park forest fire. I am, to synthesize my point succinctly, concerned about forest fires. This concern has made me think about what I would scramble to take with me if I had to leave my home in a hurry. This is a happy house and I love it, but in a crisis, what could I leave behind, and what would I most want to save? Let’s say I had five minutes, no more than that. Obviously, the safety of the people inside the house is number one. Next, the dog and the cat. After that…well, the first thing that springs to mind is the photo albums, especially the really old family pictures that we still haven’t gotten around to scanning and saving to The Cloud (whatever that is). Then, I suppose items like the computer hard drive, passports, birth certificates, house insurance documents, our marriage certificate. Some special jewellery. My cell phone. Dad’s old sweater. My
Seahawks touque. The truth is, all that would really, truly matter in a time of crisis is family (pets included). Absolutely everything else is just stuff. And yet, as we roll through our lives, we often take the people for granted and pay more attention to the stuff! How often do we stare at the TV more than we talk with each other? How often are we all playing on our phones, when there’s a wonderful and dynamic world out there, full of people we love, just beyond our screens? The forest fire concern has sparked (sorry) a renewed commitment in me to focus on what’s important in my life. There is nothing more precious than the carbon-based living creatures I am sharing this journey with. And there is nothing constructive about sitting here worrying about a hypothetical forest fire. So, I’ve taken action. An empty Tupperware tub sits ready to receive the photo albums and important documents and the Seahawks toque, should the unfortunate need arise. And now I’m going to put the worry out of my mind, and fully enjoy the Okanagan summer and the people in my life that I love.
Happy summer, everyone!
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 21
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LOL | LADIES ON LITERATURE
BY: SHANNON LINDEN
GOOD BETS FOR BOOK CLUB; SEE WHAT THE LOL ARE READING
Are you as excited for the season of sunshine as we are?
The Ladies on Literature love summer and all its promising splendor, but with kids off school, families traveling, and good times calling, we take a break from the rigors of reading…unless you count magazines poolside…or steamy novels on the sandy beach. Here’s a look at what we read this spring; stay tuned for summer reflections, next issue, this fall!
THE PEARL THAT BROKE ITS SHELL BY NADIA HASHIMI In her literary debut, Afghan-American novelist and pediatrician, Nadia Hashimi, pens a powerful—and painful—tale. It’s 2007 and Kabul continues to be an unwelcoming country for women. The Taliban has officially been ousted from power, and the country’s first democratically elected president is in power, but that doesn’t mean women have suddenly thrown off their chadors. Smaller villages are struggling to survive, with many men going off to fight insurgents and coming back hooked on opium, supplied by their drug-lord leaders. School is still frowned upon for girls but Rahima and her sisters, encouraged by their forward-thinking aunt, go when they can, enduring terrifying taunts from males, risking their pure reputations, and infuriating their opium-addicted father. When he finally forbids the girls to attend school, imprisoning all the women in the house, his wife becomes desperate. At the urging of 24 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
her sister, she turns to the ancient custom of bacha posh, allowing Rahima, the youngest, to be “turned into” a boy. Dressing as one, Rahima goes back to school, barters at the market, and even plays soccer with the boys. A century earlier her great aunt, Shekiba, paved the way as a bacha posh, eventually ending up a guard to the royal concubine. “Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies.” Judy’s choice, this book made for great discussion and will inspire Western women to fall on their knees with gratitude for the freedoms we often take for granted and rise to their feet to cheer for the desperate—but determined—path blazing women of Afghanistan.
“HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL — IN ITS LYRICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF CREE CULTURE AND CUSTOMS”
WHAT MAKES OLGA RUN? BY BRUCE GRIERSON “Part science book, part journey into the untapped potential of the human spirit, this is the remarkable story of a 94-year-old track and field champion.” After writing about her in 2010, in the New York Times, Canadian journalist, Bruce Grierson (and his many receptive readers) becomes completely fascinated with Olga Kotelko, a national phenomenon. Shadowing her as she travels around the world to compete, he explores the fascinating mystery of this age-defying, nonagenarian by consulting researchers in fields like gerontology, exercise, physiology and genetics for insights into her remarkable youthfulness. So… what does make Olga Kotelko run? As LOL member, Laura said, “I have no idea - and that was a problem for me with the book. Although it concludes with habits that promote longevity - the “Big Nine”, which include “keep moving, believe in something, lighten up and begin now” - nothing in the list is particularly new in the science of aging. For me the charm of the book is the uplifting personal story of feisty, little Olga, a remarkable athlete who refuses to hang up her track shoes. Her determination to push the limits of her own physicality left me with the empowering thought that, at least to some degree, aging itself is a choice and choosing to exercise is the key. The poignant Afterword of the book, which reports of Olga’s unexpected passing of a cranial hemorrhage only a week after competing at a track event, shifts the focus from her longevity to “squaring the curve”. And perhaps that should be the goal - to stay young until you die, just as Olga did.”
— SHANNON LINDEN
THREE DAY ROAD BY JOSEPH BOYDEN I was thrilled when Laurie recommended, and Laura chose, Joseph Boyden’s first novel, Three Day Road. It’s been on my shelf for a couple of years and I finally found myself reading this 2008, winner of the Amazon Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. It tells the story of two Cree men, Xavier Bird and Elijah Wiskeyjack, best friends since they met at (and fled) a residential school. Xavier’s great aunt raises the boys in the forests of Hudson Bay, teaching them to hunt like expert sharpshooters—a skill that comes to win them notoriety in the trenches of World War I, when both men become highly accomplished snipers. Sadly the war steals their souls as Elijah goes mad, becoming obsessed with killing, while Xavier realizes, “We all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing what do to the enemy.” Wounded and addicted to morphine, Xavier returns from the war, where Niska slowly paddles him in her canoe, on the three day journey back home, healing him with her own survival stories, infusing him with spirit, and willing his Cree roots to ground him in goodness, once again. Brilliantly told, this book is gut-wrenching in its vivid descriptions of the horrors of trench warfare and the breaking of men’s bodies—and hearts—yet it is poetic—hauntingly beautiful—in its lyrical descriptions of Cree culture and customs. A fictional tribute to real-life war hero, Ojibway sniper, Francis Pegahmagabow, this book is a must, historical read.
5/5 Cheers! OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 25
to those considering international adoption Mohini Singh and Finbar O’Sullivan: “Truly know what you want—this should not be an emotional decision. Foreign adoptions are fraught with challenges. Always ask questions. Make sure everything is double checked, especially medical records. Don’t let your heart rule your head; it is easy to do. But in the end you will know adopting a little child and raising them as your own is the right thing to do.”
“I would say if you are eager to be parents, then you should do whatever it takes to accomplish that desire. If that’s international adoption—great. I do say to people who ‘congratulate’ us about ‘saving’ a child from what might have been a difficult life, that she has ‘saved’ us just as much from a life that would never have been as rich as it is today. It’s double happiness for our family.”
TARA (CENTRE) WITH HER PARENTS. PHOTO SUPPLIED.
THREE GLOBAL GIRLS
Find Home in the Okanagan BY DONA STURMANIS
“Whether you have children already or not, if you have room in your home and love in your family adopting a child comes highly recommended. Check out the entire process of adoption for children within BC, Canada, and internationally and once you’ve made a choice engage the assistance of other experts to guide you.”
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hree Okanagan families each have vivacious daughters because they made the decision to adopt internationally. Tara Guddi O’Sullivan, 13, adopted by Mohini Singh and Finbar O’Sullivan, is from Kolkata, India. Flora Wilson, 10, daughter of Tom and Colleen, is from Hunan Province, China. The adopted daughter of Norm and Helene Letnick, Naomi, 21, is from Manilla in the Phillippines. The families’ reasons for adoption are all different, the processes from fairly straightforward to complex, the time period from months to years, and the cost from several thousand dollars to over ten times that. In all three cases, these families are enthralled that they went to the effort to search the globe for their adopted children. “She loves us and feels very much like the three of us are one unit a family…..her family,” says Mohini Singh about her daughter Tara. “She’s a smart, funny, beautiful and resilient girl who gives us so much pleasure,” praises Tom Wilson about Flora. “Naomi has been God sent to all of us,” says Norm Letnick simply.
Tara from Kolkata
“It isn’t easy for abandoned girls in India so we chose that country to look for a child,” says Mohini Singh, early 50s, about Tara Guddi,13, the daughter she adopted over a decade ago with husband Finbar O’Sullivan. “We had always talked about adopting a little girl. We felt it was the right thing to do. My husband wanted a daughter. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and I felt I did not want to pass the disease on to a child. So it all became a reality after the diagnosis.” Mohini, Kelowna city councillor and communications officer for the BC Ministry of Agriculture, says she and Finbar had registered at perhaps five agencies in India but found they were getting nowhere. A childhood friend of hers visited from India for a holiday and promised to be Mohini’s “eyes and ears in India.” Through her, the couple found out about Tara, who in India was known as simply as Guddi. “Somehow Tara landed up at an orphanage at the age of four. She was very sick and was suffering from malnutrition. After a stint at hospital, she was back to good health and we got a bouncy happy little girl,” says Mohini. “We saw a photograph of her and fell in love with her right away. Then we saw her for the first time on Nov 5, 2006 in Kolkata, India. She was sitting on the little wooden gate waiting for us. In her hand she had a little album I had sent her of photos of us and our home and Kelowna.” Mohini and Finbar asked the little girl if she would like her name to become Tara O’Sullivan and she said yes right away. The process to find their daughter to adopt had been long—around four and a half years. “The delay was mainly at the Indian end of things. We had to first have her determined as being adoptable.That application had to go to court. The judge had to see she had no living relatives and could be adopted.” When Tara arrived at her Kelowna home, she was “blown away”—she liked her princess bed and her room so much, according to Mohini. “Tara ran around touching everything. I kept thinking how lucky we are to be here.” Almost nine years since Mohini and Finbar first laid eyes on their daughter, Tara is currently in school, doing well and adjusting well. “We have had times of great joy and great challenges. Tara is very proud of being an O’Sullivan. She has a positive network of people both of us and two godparents, Caryl and Brian McCabe, who stand by her and support her.”
“We have had a blissful experience since the day we first saw and held her almost 10 years ago” FLORA WILSON, PHOTO SUPPLIED
Flora from Hunan
Tom and Colleen Wilson decided to adopt their daughter Flora Annette Jian from Hunan province, China in 2005 because they had been unable to conceive themselves. They wanted the experience of raising a child and being parents. “We were on the domestic list for a year and because we felt we were in an age bracket where it was now-or-never, we spoke with our adoption counsellor who suggested a foreign adoption,” says Tom, 53, Communications Supervisor for the City of Kelowna. He and his wife, Colleen, 54, a teacher-librarian, considered a number of countries, investigated them, sought advice from others and finally settled on China, based on others’ good experiences. Through the Kelowna Adoption Centre, the Wilsons filled out an application to adopt from China, which involved including photographs of themselves, information about themselves including professions and incomes. Within seven months, they were sent a package from the Adoption Centre, proposing Flora, or Jian as she was originally named. “There was a photo of her at five months old, we fell in love at first sight and could not wait to complete the process to go to China and bring her home,” says Tom. The process took time. The Wilsons were close to two years on the domestic adoption list, and then were involved in the process with China for approximately a year. “It was quite a lot of rigor in Canada, with a series of meetings with our adoption counsellor and then a lot of paperwork with China.” On July 25, 2005, exactly two months after they had seen Jian’s photo, Tom and Colleen were presented with their daughter in China. “We flew back with 30 other families from Canada who had also just adopted their daughters (those poor other passengers on the Air Canada flight of crying babies!) and arrived back in Kelowna, where we were greeted by family who were all very excited for us and eager to see the baby,” says Tom. Jian Chow, meaning ‘beautiful enigma’ was the name that had been given to their daughter at the orphanage. Tom and Colleen kept Jian named her Flora Annette Jian Wilson. They call her Flora. Flora is currently in Grade 5. She’s having a great year at school and in her extracurricular activities, according to Tom, singing in a community choir, taking piano and voice lessons, playing tennis, basketball and swimming. “We have had a blissful experience since the day we first saw and held her almost 10 years ago,” says Tom. The Wilsons say it has been an enriching experience being parents. “We hardly think about the ‘adoption’ side of things anymore. She’s our daughter first of all and it’s like Christmas morning for us every day when we wake up and there she is.”
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 27
“It was just as exciting as welcoming our two other children but with balloons.”
THE LETNICK SIBLINGS, PHOTO SUPPLIED.
Naomi from Manila
Naomi Letnick, the daughter of Norm, 57, and Helene Letnick, 57 is now 21 years old. She was adopted from Manila in the Phillippines in 1996 by Norm, now MLA of Kelowna-Lake Country and provincial Minister of Agriculture, and Helene, a homemaker and artist. “We had a family of four with much love to share and recognized a need in the world for good homes to assist children without parents,” he says. “Naomi was placed with us by God just like our other children.” The Letnicks used an International Adoption Support Group to review potential countries of origin, then went through Social and Family Services in Alberta, where they then lived. “The process took nine months from decision to adopt to Naomi arriving at our home,” says Norm. “She was proposed to us by the Inter-Country Adoption Board in Manila via fax. She was two years old, was placed for adoption at birth by her birth mother, and initially raised by two Christian missionaries at Shalom Bata Rescue Centre.” Helene first saw Naomi when she arrived in Manila and would take her home two weeks later. “Her brother, sister, and I first saw her when she arrived in Calgary from Manila with her new mom,” says Norm. “It was just as exciting as
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NORM SAYS HIS DAUGHTER’S CHALLENGES GROWING UP HAVE NOT BEEN MORE THAN HIS OTHER TWO CHILDREN.
welcoming our two other children but with balloons.” Naomi kept her original name. The MLA says with the assistance of the International Adoption Support Group the process to get Naomi was a very smooth one. “Nine months with no unexpected problems.” Naomi is now one of five women in a class of 45 men at Okanagan College’s’s civil engineering technology program. Norm says she excels in school and is an avid musician. Norm says his daughter’s challenges growing up have not been more than their other two children. “Frankly, our lives would have been much poorer without her,” says Norm.
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HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CAR’S RESALE VALUE
Few drivers start thinking about resale value when driving a new car off of the dealership lot for the first time. Still enamored with that new car smell, drivers can be excused for not thinking of resale value as they put the pedal to the metal and speed off in their brand new ride. But it’s never too early to start protecting a vehicle’s resale value, especially if you hope to recoup as much of your vehicle investment as possible when the time comes to sell your car or trade it in for a newer model. The following are some ways motorists can protect the resale value of their vehicles from the moment the dealer tosses them the keys. • KEEP ALL MAINTENANCE RECORDS. New cars typically do not require much maintenance. But drivers should keep records of all work and maintenance done on their vehicles, even if that work does not extend beyond routine tuneups or oil changes. Keeping maintenance records shows prospective buyers you prioritized
taking care of the vehicle over the years, and that makes the car or truck more attractive to preowned vehicle buyers who want to avoid buying a lemon or a car that has not been taken care of. • DON’T OVERLOOK LOOKS. Looks can be deceiving, but new car buyers who eventually plan to sell their vehicles should do all they can to keep the car looking as new as it did the day it was first driven off the dealership lot. Much like homeowners benefit when selling a home with curb appeal, a car that looks good gives buyers the impression that it was well taken care of. But a dirty car or one with lots of dings and dents is a red flag to preowned car buyers. • KEEP A CLEAN INTERIOR. New car owners typically maintain some strict rules with regard to food and beverages in their vehicles. After all, no one wants their brand new car to succumb to stains or spills. But the longer drivers have a car the more lax they tend to become with regard to allowing food and drinks into their cars, and that can ultimately hurt the resale value of the vehicle. Maintain a clean interior whether you just bought the car or have driven it for a few years. Much like an impressive exterior leaves a lasting impression, a clean interior that has not succumb to coffee stains or muddy boots is more likely to impress buyers than a car with an interior that has seen better, cleaner days.
• DRIVE DEFENSIVELY. It’s not just what you do to a car but how you drive the car that can affect its resale value. Driving defensively reduces your risk of accident, and an accident-free preowned vehicle is a top priority for potential buyers. But driving defensively also reduces wear and tear on your vehicle, as over time constant stop-and-go, aggressive driving takes its toll on vehicle engines and other components. • PERIODICALLY EXAMINE THE VEHICLE HISTORY REPORT. Today’s preowned car buyers know to ask for a vehicle history report before buying a car. If your vehicle history report contains any suspicious or inaccurate information, you may be forced to sell the car for less than it’s worth or delay selling until you can have any issues corrected. That won’t necessarily happen overnight, but you can avoid dealing with a host of issues all at once by periodically examining the vehicle history report. Any discrepancies on the report can be brought to the attention of your insurance company, who can then work with you to correct the issues and restore your vehicle’s reputation. Resale value may not be foremost on the minds of new car owners, but the earlier buyers begin to factor resale value into their carcare routines, the more they will benefit down the road.
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2016 MAZDA MX-5
The roadster that defines what a roadster is meant to be
Who says women don’t like power? The Mazda MX-5 is one of the most iconic sports cars in the world and here in the Okanagan it can navigate S-curves with control and grace. With 167 hp and sleek, openair styling, the Mazda MX-5 delights the senses. But its responsiveness is what’ll blow your mind. The quick and easy to use soft top isn’t the only way to embrace the wind; standard on the GS & GT is a power retractable hard top. Committed to true sports car authenticity, the MX-5 has been the track proven real deal. kelownamotors.com starting at
2015 VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN
The classic Volkswagen combination of elegant, yet sporty design This VW SUV is named after a mix of Tiger and Iguana, which is cool enough in itself. But this sports car disguised as an SUV has an award winning 2.0 TSI turbocharged engine delivering 200 hp PLUS 2200 lbs of towing capacity that will impress any outdoors woman. The fold-flat front passenger seat accommodates items up to 2.5 meters long -- and sliding rear seats give you all the space you need! A Fender premium audio system lets you recreate that live concert-going experience every time you take your Tiguan for a ride. Yep, we love this SUV! turnervw.ca
2015 SUBARU FORESTER
An impressive vehicle with a wide array of capabilities
There’s a reason the Forester is snapping up awards like crazy. Not only is this compact SUV affordable, it boasts good fuel economy (as high as 27 mpg) and plenty of passenger and cargo room. It has one of the best allwheel-drive systems on the road and a great safety rating. With a crisp new grille design and smoothly sculpted sheetmetal side, the Forester is better looking than ever. And this year’s model offers more rear legroom and a rear folding seatback that’s close to fully flat with a one-touch mechanism. Rearview camera and Bluetooth are standard! hilltopsubaru.com
2015 FORD ESCAPE
Sporty, stylish and sharp, modern crossover vehicle The new Escape boasts a spacious and sophisticated interior that is clean and contemporary. The technologies available in the Escape don’t merely elevate your driving experience – they take it to a new level. There’s the available foot-activated hands-free power liftgate you activate by simply kicking your foot under the bumper. And with hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, available SYNC® with MyFord Touch® lets you make calls and control your music, climate and available navigation with simple voice commands. It really is the go-to modern vehicle that meets the needs of busy women everywhere. orchardford.com
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BY PATTI SHALES LEFKOS
SPECIAL OLYMPICS STACEY, A YOUNG WOMAN ALWAYS ON THE GO, WITH SOCCER OR CROSS FIT. PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED
VERNON’S NOELLE AND STACEY TYPUSIAK, OUTSTANDING AMBASSADORS FOR SPECIAL OLYMPICS, PROVIDE INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLES OF HOW TO REVEAL THE
Champion IN ALL OF US.
Doctors said she would never be able to walk past the age of 20.
octors said she would never be able to walk past the age of 20. She was born with a genetic disorder called LangerGiedion syndrome, a condition causing bone abnormalities, distinctive facial features and intellectual disability. But Stacey Stypusiak, proved them wrong. Stacey, now 34, is fitter than ever. Her blue eyes and ready smile display an enthusiasm for life and sport, thanks in large part to the dedication of her mother Noelle Stypusiak and their involvement with the Vernon branch of Special Olympics. Stacey grew up in Merritt, attended Diamond Vale Elementary School and graduated from Merritt Secondary School in 1999. Her mom Noelle grew up in Kelowna and studied Psychiatric Nursing at BCIT in
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Burnaby. Noelle and husband Rick Stypusiak, now a retired corrections officer, moved to Merritt where Noelle worked with people with intellectual disabilities as a Special Education Assistant and Childcare Worker in schools and camps. At the age of four Stacey came to live with the couple as a foster child and has been a member of their family ever since. Noelle’s current position is that of Foster Parent Co-ordinator for the Okanagan Foster Parents Association. Thirteen years ago the family, including Stacey’s older brother Michael, moved to Vernon. Stacey then spent a year in Kamloops in the Thompson Rivers University Special Needs program. “I made new friends there and I liked learning new things,” says Stacey. Michael, now 25, went to the lower mainland to study Psychology at Simon Fraser University and work in Community Corrections. It’s obvious Stacey misses him. Citing Michael as the person she most
Mother & Daughter
STACEY, NOW 34, IS FITTER THAN EVER. HER BLUE EYES AND READY SMILE DISPLAY AN ENTHUSIASM FOR LIFE AND SPORT
Dynamic Duo RIGHT: STACEY JUST HANGING OUT WITH HER MOM. PHOTO BY PATTI SHALES LEFKOS
admires, Stacey says, “He makes me laugh when I’m down and he gives me advice.” Stacey, self-described as kind, thoughtful and a hard worker, led the way in the family’s involvement with Special Olympics, starting 12 years ago when she was invited by a friend to try with 5-pin bowling, still her favourite of the four sports she participates in. “I like the warm up exercises before bowling and most of my friends are in it,” says Stacey. “My coach Sandee Carson and my mom help me set and reach my goals. It makes me feel good. Last week I got a score of 120 in 5-pin at Lincoln Lanes.” Two years later this young woman, who was not supposed to be able to walk past the age of 20, joined soccer, followed by Club Fit, a fun, non-competitive exercise program designed for Special Olympians comprised of exercises like sit-ups and running. And, for eight years she spent time in a sit-ski careening down the slopes at Silver Star Mountain with the Silver
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 37
Star Adaptive Snowsports Society. “But I quit that because I don’t like cold and it’s hard to walk in snow,” says Stacey. Most recently she has taken up Bocce. Last fall Stacey travelled to Richmond in the lower mainland for a leadership conference where she received training and to become an Athlete Speaker for Special Olympics. In a quote from her speech Stacey explains, “Special Olympics Vernon offers 16 different sports programs. There are individual sports, team sports and youth programs. Some are competitive and some are not.” Stacey’s weekly regimen is not for the faint of heart. Workouts are weekly, once a week for each
And how did mom Noelle get involved? “ I went to watch Stacey in an event, and was asked to volunteer a bit of time,” says Noelle. “That was seven years ago. It started small and the jobs got bigger and bigger.” She now spends at least two hours a week as Volunteer Co-ordinator for Special Olympics Vernon. Stacey’s father, Rick, and a couple of cousins round out the family affair. Rick volunteers when needed, Olivia Typusiak, 18, volunteers with Special Olympics basketball in Kelowna and Christine Nielsen, 26, is a soccer volunteer in Calgary. None of this would happen without the help of generous sponsors including Vernon’s
Book Warehouse, who donate 50 per cent of all sales to Special Olympics of BC, Vernon branch. The Bay, Safeway and Staples are also significant supporters. During fundraising campaigns Stacey loves assisting at Staples. “I like helping with bagging and I ask people to give donations,” she says, blue eyes sparkling. And, an amazing crew of volunteers, coaches, parents and athletes organize the annual Telus Golf Spectacular tournament held this year on June 20, 2015 at the Vernon Golf and Country Club. The event features 18 holes of championship golf, a cocktail reception with live music, and a gourmet dinner along with silent
Stacey’s weekly regimen is not for the faint of heart.Workouts are weekly, once a week for each sport, each workout an hour or two long.
sport, each workout an hour or two long. While Stacey says Bocce, the only one of her sports in which she competes, is the most difficult, it’s clear she enjoys it. “I liked going to Oliver last year for the competition. I got to travel on the bus and hang out with my friends.” In her downtime she heads to O’Keefe Ranch to ride her favourite horse, Chocolate, with the North Okanagan Therapeutic Riding Association, watch CSI Criminal Minds on TV or spend time with a pet she considers rather boring, Liz, her yellow and brown spotted Geckho.
ABOVE: STACEY RECEIVING HER CERTIFICATE AS A SPECIAL OLYMPICS SPEAKER. RIGHT: STACEY ON THE MOVE WITH SOCCER AND CROSSFIT TRAINING. PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED
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“To me, this means winning is not always important, but having fun and doing my best is,” she says, with an engaging smile.
Vernon Special Olympics ATHLETES:
Vernon Special Olympics VOLUNTEERS:
AGE RANGE of volunteers:
16 to 70+
Special Olympic ATHLETES IN BC:
The Scoop on Stacey MUSIC LOVER Country and Michael Jackson FAVOURITE FOOD Chinese at Kiki Gardens HOBBIES: Colouring, doing word searches and collecting Barbies VALUES IN FRIENDS: trust, making each other laugh and things in common BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD: Disneyworld, Florida
Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
SPECIAL OLYMPICS – THE WORLD’S LARGEST SPORTS ORGANIZATION FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES. PARALYMPICS – SPORT COMPETITIONS INVOLVING ATHLETES WITH A RANGE OF PHYSICAL DISABILITIES.
and live auctions. All for young women like Stacey who at the end of our interview hands me a paper with the athlete’s oath written on it.
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 39
This story was originally published in the Playa Times in Playa de Carmen Mexico on April 16, 2015.
amazing BY SUE URQUHART
MAZING – this is the one word that describes Leslie Early. By the time they are over 65, most seniors have already experienced new athletic challenges. A few may introduce modified sports but not many seniors with physical challenges begin a new athletic pursuit in their golden years, let alone in two sports. Except Leslie Early, a remarkable woman, who at age 68, has started scuba diving and stand up paddle boarding. But what is even more remarkable is that Leslie has only one leg. She gets around via wheelchair, her artificial leg and/or a walker. Now she has two other modes of transportation, above and below the water. When 53 Leslie was skiing and realized something was terribly wrong with her left leg. Tests resulted in a diagnosis of nerve disease, but it wasn’t until years later that she was told she had cancer of the leg tissue and the survival rate was poor. She needed her leg amputated. That was fifteen years ago, and for Leslie the biggest challenge was realizing that she could no longer do everything. Always an athletic person, in her early years while at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon campus Leslie played both basketball and volleyball. At only 5’2” you know she must have been fast, and indeed her nickname was Gunner Les. Never married, Leslie’s independence has led to her strength as a woman and the ability to do practically anything. She owns and operates the Hummingbird Cabins and Breakfast near Fauquier BC. With the
40 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
LESLIE EARLY DOESN’T LET ANYTHING SLOW HER DOWN. PHOTO SUPPLIED.
ability to sleep up to 16 people, TWICE SHE HAS BEEN PULLED OVER BY Leslie does her own maintenance, THE FEDERALE POLICE WHO, CONCERNED cleaning and ABOUT HER VISIBILITY AND SAFETY ON A cooking. She purchased a BUSY DIVIDED HIGHWAY, INSISTED THAT paddle board in SHE HAVE A FLAG ON THE CHAIR AND Canada, strapped on her walker WEAR A HIGH-VIS VEST. NOW WHEN THEY with bungy cords PASS HER ON THE HIGHWAY, THEY HONK and has become AND GIVE HER THE THUMBS UP. a familiar sight paddling the Arrow Lakes near her home in British Columbia. Fluent in Spanish and loving the Caribbean sea after visiting Paamul, west of Playa Del Carmen, Leslie purchased a Palapa in 2013 and has made it her winter home since. In November 2014 she purchased a board in Mexico. But that isn’t all. She decided she also wanted to try scuba diving. Through ScubaMex in Paamul she has become a certified diver. Always a strong swimmer, the undersea world is now unfolding for her but getting into the LESLIE ON HER STAND dive boat in rough water can be UP PADDLE BOARD IN a challenge. MEXICO. Titanium legs are expensive PHOTO SUPPLIED. and Leslie must maintain her weight in order to ensure an exact fit. When a machined titanium piece cracked while in Mexico last year; she temporarily lost her mobility. But it wasn’t long before the replacement was on the way. Neighbours re-calibrated her new leg and she was back on her feet. If that isn’t enough, to keep fit Leslie pushes herself six kilometers in her wheelchair towards Puerto Adventuras and back. Twice she has been pulled over by the Federale police who, concerned about her visibility and safety on a busy divided highway, insisted that she have a flag on the chair and wear a high-vis vest. Now when they pass her on the highway, they honk and give her the thumbs up. For many, retirement is a time to kick back, take it easy and enjoy the golden years. Leslie’s golden years are full of fun, exercise and new challenges. She is an inspiration to all that know her.
SHE IS AN INSPIRATION TO ALL THAT KNOW HER.
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t o H
ALL PHOTOS BY PATTI SHALES LEFKOS RIGHT: VALLEY WHERE THE HOT SPRINGS ARE LOCATED BELOW RIGHT: TIBETAN WOMAN ENJOYS THE HOT SPRINGS
BY PATTI SHALES LEFKOS
TIDRUM NUNNERY AND HOT SPRINGS, A DETOX FOR BODY AND SOUL, RESTS SILENTLY IN A LUSH GREEN VALLEY. THE ROUGH THREE-HOUR LAND CRUISER RIDE FROM TIBET’S CAPITAL CITY, LHASA, IS DEFINITELY WORTH IT.
42 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
he round gray rocks look damp and slippery. Their dewy moisture seeps up through the thin fabric of my light hiking pants into my body when I gingerly perch on the edge of the pool. Hook by hook I unlace my hiking boots to free my weary feet. My grimy wool socks peel off to reveal pale, blistered feet, as wrinkled as the hind leg of a Shar Pei. The cool morning air refreshes my toes. I wiggle them with the sigh of someone whose feet have spent the past two months imprisoned in wool, leather and dust, trekking on Himalayan trails. The only sound is the creaking of my overtaxed knees as cautiously I unfold my legs and allow my toes to dip beneath the surface of the warm sulphur water.
The chatter of three female voices interrupts my reverie. I turn to find three tall women garbed in Tibetan traditional chuba, long black coat-like dresses adorned in front with colourful, intricately woven striped aprons. Giggles erupt as they casually disrobe, efficiently fold their dresses into ordered piles and liberated from their voluminous garments unselfconsciously slip into the pool. “Shopa delek, good morning,” I offer in my limited Tibetan. Smiles and more giggles. A small boy sitting fully clothed beside us stares at me with the expression of pre-teen on the cusp of embarrassment by his mother’s nudity, then quickly looks away.
s g n i r p S
GOLDEN ROOF OF TEMPLE
If you’re a twitter user you may have noticed the hashtag #WCW. “WCW” stands for “Woman Crush Wednesday,” and it is a way for people to share pictures and stories of the women they admire through social media. Okanagan Woman has its own version of #WCW. We call it Wednesday’s Woman. The Okanagan Shuswap has no shortage of inspirational and influential women and Okanagan Woman is dedicated to telling those stories. Our editorial office receives so many requests to include stories of local women in our print publication that we are in the unfortunate position of not having enough pages to accommodate them all.
I’d like to say I jumped right in to join them, but no changing room in sight, a precariously low tumbling rock wall between us and the men’s side of the pool, and a rows of balconies lining the guesthouse above with an unobstructed view of the pools caused me to hesitate. Chime, my female Tibetan guide and I decided after consultation to bare only our feet. We are recent acquaintances, I am new to the culture and my body has seen almost seven decades, so I follow her lead. My motivation is modesty mingled with laziness, hers a desire to protect her skin from the sun. Despite the heat of the day, she insists on a long sleeved shirt, long pants and a surgical type mask to cover most of her face. A country girl who has moved to the city of Lhasa, she no longer wishes to be associated with the
brown skin she deems might identify her as a country bumpkin. I soon discover a lot of her guide’s pay goes for face whitening cream, wide-brimmed hats, face masks and umbrellas. By contrast, the Tibetan women soak languorously in the steaming liquid for a while, bare heads just above the surface, displaying silver, coral and turquoise headdresses decorating their swirls of ebony braids. Then red-faced from the heat the three friends line up on the smooth rounded rocks at the edge of the pool and scrub each other’s backs. I pantomime to them the question of permission to take their photos. They readily agree. I snap a few photos, more giggles, then Chime and I, still fully dressed, relax into the warmth of the morning. The crystal waters are said to
But we have the Internet, for which we are eternally grateful. Space is always available on-line, allowing us to feature even more fabulous women. Like us on Facebook to find out who is this week’s Wednesday Woman. If you’d like to share your story with our on-line readers, visit our website and fill in the on-line form. If we love it, your story could appear in an upcoming issue of the print publication, too!
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 43
THE CRYSTAL WATERS ARE SAID TO HAVE MAGICAL HEALING POWERS, OR AT THE VERY LEAST TO BE GOOD FOR THE TREATMENT OF ARTHRITIS.
have magical healing powers, or at the very least to be good for the treatment of arthritis. I stretch forward enough to massage my feet on the silken smooth multi-coloured pebbles spreading over the bottom of the pool. My feet feel happier than they have for weeks. The three-hour Toyota Land Cruiser drive east from Lhasa on road 318, the highway that got us here, unfurls a panorama of Tibetan Culture. Shabby greenhouses encouraging Gai Lan, broccoli and watermelon, fields of barley for making tsampa, the barley flour staple of the Tibetan diet and chang, barley beer, line the roads along the Kyichu Lhasa River. A group of expensively outfitted cyclists swaying slightly perhaps due to altitude and their heavily laden panniers, meet us grinding west toward Lhasa. Mid-morning we pass the turn off to Ganden Monastery, which before the destruction of the cultural revolution was a bustling university community. Built in 1409, Ganden was the intellectual haven, once housing 2,000 monks, where the young 14th Dalai Lama peacefully studied Buddhism prior to his forced 1959 departure from Tibet. As the miles from Lhasa add up, the homes increasingly reflect Tibetan architecture: flat-topped, whitewashed homes, roofs piled high with thick rows of dried twigs for firewood, prayer flags flapping merrily in the morning breeze above courtyards of potted orange marigolds and crimson geraniums. Then, near the confluence of the Kyichu Lhasa River and the Medro River three white stupas signal the location of another ancient site, the Katse monastery, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Tibet, built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century.
Finally, moments past a turquoise cascading waterfall descending into creamy foam that winds through green fields grazed by shaggy yaks, we turn onto a narrow road jutting into a sandstone canyon. Fifteen minutes later the dusty route opens into a remote amphitheatre shaped valley surrounded by emerald hills dotted with rustic hermitages and meditation caves. The Toyota jerks to a stop at a deserted parking lot. No vehicles are allowed to enter the village so we follow the footpath down a steep hill past several terraces of guesthouses into the village. Chime and I hike up a steep winding path above the village to a peaceful picnic spot overlooking the golden-roofed nunnery assembly hall. Later we are granted a tour of the monastery and hotel run by the nunnery. Large windows overlook the hot pool area but for me
44 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
are not enough to counteract the prison like cold charcoal cement floors, walls and ceilings, dimly lit, dank hallways and Tibetan carpeted wooden bunks in rooms of four or eight. Tibetans flock here for multi-day retreats but after weeks of camping and rustic Nepali guesthouses I am content to return to my comfortable hotel in Lhasa for the night. It’s 2:30 pm by the time we climb up the path back to the parking lot, now jammed with tour buses and jeeps. Now I realize why Chime insisted on a 7:30 am departure time from Lhasa.
ABOVE: FRIENDS BACK SCRATCHING LEFT: TIBETAN WOMAN’S HAIR DECORATION
We’ve enjoyed the privilege of sharing the hot springs with local bathers, a solitary picnic with a view across the valley and a private tour of the hotel and monastery, all before anyone else arrived.
By contrast, the Tibetan women soak languorously in the steaming liquid for a while, bare heads just above the surface, displaying silver, coral and turquoise headdresses decorating their swirls of ebony braids.
OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015 45
W All-encompassing “In our busy lives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and it’s so important to take time out”
hen I confessed I’d given up hope of ever landing a handstand, my yoga teacher just smiled and nodded sagely. “Yoga meets you wherever you are,” he said. This year, Predator Ridge Resort and some of the Okanagan’s most beloved yoginis are expanding on this promise, with yoga retreats designed to reenergize and pamper guests who have never rolled out a mat as well as those who wish to deepen their practice. And – to nourish the spirit as well as the body and mind – it all takes place in a breathtakingly beautiful natural setting. The retreats are built around Predator Ridge’s new 20’ by 46’ cedar yoga deck, nestled in the forest, with spectacular views of Okanagan Lake and Terrace and Sugarloaf mountains. Add luxuriously comfortable accommodations and the Okanagan’s justifiably world-renowned food and wine, and you have a getaway that Chelsea Ray, one of the retreat leaders, describes as “an all-encompassing lifestyle retreat.” Predator Ridge executive chef Jeremy Luypen has created a farm-to-table retreat menu designed around the nuanced layers of flavours found only in skillfully prepared, just-picked local produce. “It is important to us that people coming on retreat feel vivacious and alive,” says Ray, who will co-lead Sweet Spot retreats with Okanagan Yoga Retreats partner Shauna Nyrose. “Sometimes being on holiday means not eating at our best, but the intention of these meals is to really nourish the body while savouring the deliciousness the Okanagan has to offer.”
designed for revitalization
BY LORI BAMBER
When Life Gives You
Lori Bamber writes special features about health, lifestyle and personal finance for The Globe and Mail. After 20 years of yoga practice, she has yet to hold crow pose for more than 10 seconds, but she’ll never give up.
Seriously. I found this recipe on line and had to give it a shot.
The tartness of these little cherries makes them perfect for cherry lemonade.
cherries Make Lemonade. What to do with those teeny weeny Nanking cherries...
Both retreat packages include play and pure pleasure as well. Sweet Spot Yoga, Golf and Nature Retreat guests will choose from a stand-up paddleboard excursion on pristine Kalamalka Lake, golf with LPGA tour pro A.J. Eathorne or two-day access to Sparkling Hill’s luxury Euro-style KurSpa. Vino & Vinyasa Retreat guests will be treated to a guided wine tour, with an optional KurSpa add-on. Free time on the schedule ensures that each guest can further customize their experience to include whatever it is they need to fully relax and recharge, says Ray. “There are lots of hiking trails, or they may just want to relax and enjoy a glass of wine on the deck,” she adds. Retreat guests who wish to extend their stay can also take advantage of the North Okanagan’s great road-biking routes or participate in the lake sports that first made the region a vacation destination, says Susan Morris, the fitness centre manager at Predator Ridge. “Everything is right here,” says Morris, noting that mountain bikes are available for rent. “Plus, guests have full use of the fitness centre. There’s a 25-metre lap pool and a weight room, and we offer classes as well.” With so much on offer, the only thing you need is a good reason to get away, and Ray kindly obliges. “In our busy lives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and it’s so important to take time out,” she says. “We want people to go home feeling recharged and vital – feeling like they’re ready to take on the world.”
Since they are a pain to pit, put the cherries in a pot, add water (about 1/2 cup of water to a cup of cherries). Bring to a boil then let it cook slowly (about 20 minutes) so the berries soften and burst (release their juices). Once the berries are soft, remove from the heat and let cool, mashing occasionally. Strain through a colander to leave the seeds behind. You can line the colander with a cheesecloth if you want super clear juice.
Now you’ve got your mash. To turn it into lemonade, add about half as much lemon juice as cherry juice, (so two parts cherry juice and one part lemon juice). Then add and equal amount of sugar. So, if you have three cups of juice (combined cherry and lemon), add three cups of sugar. Return to the stove and simmer until sugar is dissolved and you have a tart, but extremely flavourful cherry syrup. Store the syrup in the fridge and use as a base for lemonade. Pour a bit of syrup into the bottom of a glass and add water to taste. For a variation, try sparkling water.
46 OKANAGAN WOMAN SUMMER | 2015
The fabulous Ruffle dress
Many prints to choose from. Shop online or Visit us in our Armstrong shop
2516 PATTERSON Armstrong | 250.546.3096 | ARMSTRONGWOMAN.COM | M-F 10 - 5. Sat 10 - 3. Look for the red awnings!