Why did I squeal???   Today, my jam exchange package arrived! (please note, hairy arms are Dennis’ not mine…just needed to clarify that! :) )

Thanks again a zillion times over to Steph of Steph Chows who organizes this FUN annual event.   Every year, Steph gathers participants from all over the world, matches them up, and we exchange 2 jars of home made jams with our “partners”.  Thank you Steph!!!!  I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare this must be for you, but I appreciate all the work you do!  Thank you!!!!

Not only is Steph the organizer, a DIFFERENT Steph of This Little Monkey Went to Market is my partner this year.  Steph (Little Monkey Steph) and I have been corresponding for a few weeks.  She lives in a part of Montreal, Quebec, which is where Dennis was born and raised, we bonded over the fact that the Marche Jean Talon (a REALLY REALLY fantastic public market in Montreal – the way fresh produce is displayed there is a work of art!) was BOTH of our happy places, and it has been a pleasure getting to know a new friend via email.  I hope next time I’m in Montreal, Steph and I can get together (at the Marche Jean Talon of course!), share a coffee and talk all things jam and baking.  You’ll see on Steph’s blog, she’s a talented baker, and I look forward to getting tips and tricks from her!

What came in the mail???  A jar of Steph’s famous grape jelly (an annual tradition for her to make) and a jar of apple butter made with Quebec apples and maple syrup.

Steph also spoiled me with some little kitchen labels……

and a MASCOT!!!!  Meet “Mr Cactus”.  Mr Cactus may look “green” right now but I’ve watered him, and before I know it, he’ll apparently “bloom”.

See why I was SQUEALING????  FUN!!!  Thanks so much again Steph and Steph – you are both stars in my eyes!

The rest of the day pales in comparison to the package excitement, but I’ll recap anyway.

Breakfast this morning was two pieces of high fibre, thin toast with blackberry jam.  (yup, I made the blackberry jam, and a jar of which was sent down with some raspberry jam to Steph.  Enjoy Steph!)

I had some concord grapes for my morning snack.  WOW…these are only available for a short time each year, and taste JUST like grape jelly.  When I taste these, it takes me back to Kelowna, about 4 hours out of Vancouver where the best grapes in the region grow.  Dennis and I went there a few years ago, U-picked some of these grapes, the car smelled AMAZING all the way home (who knew grapes could be so fragrant?) and whenever I taste them, they remind me of our trip.

Lunch was some hummus with slider buns and veggies to dip.

During the afternoon, I had a peach.

Dennis and I had an errand to run after work, and then we went and visited Helen.  THIS was outside of an office we stopped by.  (a psychic hangs her hat next door).  He’s a bit creepy, yet strangely magnetic, and if I EVER get into life-sized mascots….I want him!!  :)

Turns out Helen’s crocus’ aren’t freaks of nature at all.  Thank you Holly (my sister-in-law) who has enlightened me and let me know there are fall crocus that bloom.  Who knew??  Well, Holly did…

When we got home, Dennis and I toasted the weekend with a glass of white wine.

And dinner was rotisserie chicken on Caesar salad with a piece of multigrain baguette.  (the salad is simply romaine lettuce with Kraft fat free Caesar dressing, multigrain croutons and some grated parmesan that I picked up last weekend)  Notice Steph’s cactus in the photo???  Pre bloom….

Happy Friday All!!!!  Anyone have plans for the weekend?  Dennis and I are off to see my parents in Victoria tomorrow, so you’ll see photos of ferry crossings and who knows what else tomorrow.  Stay tuned…..