The Recipe for Trifle is here!

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Here is the long-awaited recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Ginger Passion fruit Trifle:


400-500g Store-bought sponge cake (usually two loaves)

125 ml Green Ginger Wine (or any dessert wine, or for kid version 125 ml orange juice)

500 ml whipping cream

4 teaspoons icing sugar

8 passion fruit (sliced mango will also do)


Slice or break the sponge and arrange half of them in a shallow dish or cake stand with slight lip or upward curve at edge, then pour half of wine (or juice) over them. Mound up  the remaining half of sponge and pour the remaining wine on top.

Whip the cream with the icing sugar until it is firm but not stiff, you want soft peaks.

Scoop the insides of 2 passion fruit into the bowl of cream and fold in before mounding the cream floppily over the soused sponge.

Scoop out the remaining 6 passion fruit onto the white pile of cream so that it is doused and dribbling with the black seeds and fragrant golden pulp.

Serves 8-10.


Calm Pond




Picture of Yummy Dessert

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Hi Readers,


How do you like my picture of a yummy dessert?

It’s called ‘trifle’ and it comes from Britain, and it’s traditional every holiday season.  Doesn’t it scream holidays to you?

I have a great recipe for ‘Ginger Passionfruit Trifle’ (yum!) from famous TV chef Nigella Lawson’s book ‘Nigella Express’ (2007).

I’d like to give you the full recipe, and I will, just not today. I promise I’ll post it on December 20th, just in time to do some last-minute food shopping (in fact, there are only 4 ingredients, so easy-peazy right?)

Stay tuned…

Calm Pond

PS A bit tired today, mother’s sick.



How to Stay Calm Over the Holidays


It’s December 6th and the holiday season is well under way. How are you feeling?

This time of year can be nurturing, love-filled and warm. It can also be hectic, stressful, and sad. There’s a lot of pressure to attend events, buy presents, and make food. Balancing the stresses of the holidays with your caregiving role can be especially challenging.

Here are a few tips for staying calm over the holiday season:

SAY NO | Does agreeing to attend dinner at a friend’s house bring a lump to your throat? Politely decline. 

PRACTICE MINDFUL CONSUMPTION | One of the biggest causes of stress over the holiday season is the pressure to buy and give gifts. If you’re strapped financially, this pressure and stress can increase. Despite the incessant messages sent from media, the holidays should be about connecting and celebrating with family and friends, not about gifts. Consider talking to your family about skipping presents this year and sharing a meal instead. If your family feels compelled to give and receive gifts, try planning a “secret santa” so you only have to give and receive one present, with a capped dollar amount. You might find that your family is relieved to have a different option presented!

EAT CALMING FOODS | If you’re feeling frazzled and then consume a lot of sweets, heavy meals, and alcohol offered, you’re likely going to feel worse than you did before. Indulging in the fruits of the holiday season is great in healthy amounts, but remember to eat mindfully and support your system with nutritious, balanced meals.

CONNECT | Amidst the business of the holiday season, you might be feeling lonely or isolated if you’ve recently experienced loss, or if you’re spending most of your time caring for a loved one. As mentioned, I invite you to say no to events that don’t serve your spirit. Say yes to events that do. Pushing yourself a little out of your comfort zone and connecting with caregivers who understand and support your journey can make a big difference in how you view the holiday season. Tip: NSCR’s December Network Groups include a potluck! We’d love to see you there. 

How do you stay calm over the holidays? We’d love to hear from you!


Cassandra Van Dyck






2 minutes to calm

Feelings of anxiety can become part of everyday life when you have a big responsibility in tending to another person’s well-being. When your spouse is ill or your parents are declining in their ability to manage their home life, you might feel worried about their safety for most of your waking hours.

When your nerves are frazzled and you can’t imagine feeling relaxed ever again, it helps to have a few calming tools in your back pocket. I suggest picking one or two ideas and trying them to see what fits with your personality and daily routines.


Your invitations
Stay open. Try an idea from the list several times before deciding if it’s helpful. New habits take practice!
Be patient with your progress. It may take a few times to start feeling more calm, or even a tiny bit less tense.
Mark your successes. Notice and be proud of the small moments of peacefulness you experience in your mind and body.

Calming exercises

Heart breathing
Sit upright in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes.  Make note of your feet being secure on the ground.
Put one hand gently on your heart, and the other hand on your tummy. Sit and breathe easily, breathing in for 3 seconds, and out for 5. Keep your hands in place.

Calm ocean
Lay down on the couch and set your timer for 2 minutes. Breathe without much concentration.  Picture yourself on a boat in calm waters, being gently rocked by the soothing waves. You are safe in the boat. Send your anxiety far out to sea, the strained thoughts getting further away with each breath.

Worry box
Create a worry box. It can be a shoe box or something simple. You might want to decorate it with your own style.  Take small pieces of blank paper and have them nearby.
For 2 minutes a day, write down what is worrying you. Write without stopping.
Put those worries in the box and close the lid.  Don’t open the worry box until tomorrow, when it’s your planned “worry time”. Notice how you feel after doing the writing- is there a difference in your body? Your mind?

I hope some of these exercises will help you to regain a sense of inner balance and strength when life feels especially trying. Here is an excellent source for 1-minute meditations by Robin Rice- . You may also have a cell phone relaxation app that you like to use.

Be well today.

The elderly and their adult children

I’m an adult children of my two 80-something parents.  As such, I have a dual role: at times, I am a leader: taking charge, delegating, coordinating.  At other times, I’m still their little girl, or at least, they see it that way.  It can make for some pretty interesting (and challenging!) moments.

Are you also an adult child?  Here’s some facts and ideas I found from Eric Digests:

The population of what they call the ‘oldest-old’ (85 years+) is rising.  Adult children provide about a quarter of the care to elderly fathers and a third of the care to elderly mothers.  Traditionally, it has always been up to adult children to care for their parents, indeed, in some cultures, children are seen as a kind of old age insurance.  Adult children provide direct assistance to activities of daily living and also coordinate and monitor services.  The ‘baby boomer’ population is becoming older, and this group tend to have fewer children to care for them.  Caregivers are at times, under a great deal of strain.  Some suffer from the emotional burden of care and tire out.  Support groups play a large role in helping the caregivers deal with stress.  As recently announced by our Prime Minister, caregiving is a tremendously valued social resource.

As a an adult child, I often remind myself of the gratitude I feel towards my parents who cared for me as best they could and provided me with opportunities.  I see caregiving as an act of ‘giving back’.  Yes, it can be stressful, but also, it can be very rewarding. I savour the special moments I have with my parents (I call them my ‘hummingbird’ moments). One day I will look back and remember this time, and know that I made a difference in the lives of two very special people.

Perhaps you feel the same way?

Calm Pond


You’re not alone in those bouts of depression

Feelings of discouragement or despair are not uncommon for family caregivers.
Witnessing the decline of your loved one can be an intensely uncomfortable and sad process for even the most capable and resourceful of people.  It becomes a mental burden when constantly thinking about the nature of your parents’ or spouse’s changing condition, while wondering how you’ll manage to keep them as healthy, comfortable, and dignified as possible. There have likely been some significant changes in your relationship with this person, and your Dad or husband may no longer be a steady source of friendship, support, and inspiration as they once were. The ongoing mental strain that comes with being in this challenging situation- the sadness, worry, guilt, or uncertainty about the future, accompanied by a personal habit of overdoing the negative thinking, can lead to bouts of depression in caregivers. The experience of depression may not be a locked-in mental health diagnosis for you; it is more likely your body’s response to the many challenges and sorrows you have encountered in your caring role.

This post is a brief look at how depression is quite a common experience for caregivers- and to let you know you’re not “crazy” or “unskilled”  in some way.
You’re definitely not alone. It is understandable that, given the long list of tasks you’re responsible for, some of the time you might feel utterly exhausted, down and blue. It is important to keep track of when you’re feeling depressed, so you can tell how often, and for what length of time you’re feeling this way. Keeping track of how persistent your symptoms are will help you gauge when it’s time to reach out for help from a trusted professional.

Feed your curiosity.
Try being curious about what depression could feel like in your body and mind. You might be surprised as to how it shows up- when you think you’re simply feeling tired or ill at ease, there may be a number of mental and physical signs that point to a bout of depression.

A few signs of depression:

 ‘I’m a failure’
‘I’m no good’
‘This is my fault’
‘Things will never get better’

tired all the time
sick and run down
headaches and muscle pains
churning gut

Symptom list sourced from :

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Ways to lift your mood

Make a plan to get outside. Even on the dreary, rainy days it’s good to breathe some fresh air into your lungs. The presence of natural light and looking at gardens and trees is incredibly mood boosting.

Be compassionate with yourself. Acknowledge that you’re having a hard day or week. Tell a friend about it or write it down, and after a few minutes of expressing your feelings, focus on another activity that gives you positive energy.

Create a meal plan for the week. Think about foods that are simple to prepare, and tasty meals that will give you good nutrients without feeling too fussy to pull off.

Tickle your funny bone.  Spend 15 minutes watching your favourite comedian, or call a friend that makes you laugh. Read funny jokes and cartoons in the paper.  Laughter recharges both the physical and mental energy, and releases tension you may not realize you’ve been carrying.


If you find yourself feeling depressed on a regular basis, I encourage you to get some extra support. A little help can go a long way, and having a trustworthy, kind, and consistent professional or loved one who is there for you can make a ton of difference.


The ‘Accidental Tourist’ in France

When I was younger I read a great book called ‘The Accidental Tourist’, so inspired by the book I decided to do some armchair travelling…and here is what I found:

La Cite du Vin, Bordeaux, France

Admission: 20 Euros

(includes Permanent Tour visit, tasting of a world wine in the Belvedere, and interactive guide) In the Belvedere, you will discover a 360 degree view of Bordeaux whilst tasting a glass of world wine.

Consult Rail Europe for fast trains (in France, called “TGV”) from Paris to Bordeaux.

The rail journey from the Montparnasse train station takes about 3 hours.  Bordeaux, known for its fine wines, is the capital of the Aquitaine region.

Happy travels!

Calm Pond



Managing the Cost Of Caregiving


The financial cost of caring for a loved one is a topic that can cause a lot of stress, worry, and fear.

Several situations can arise that may cause financial strain. Your loved one might have been employed and can no longer work, or perhaps you’re not able to work as much as you used to. Grocery costs can mound, as can the price of gas and parking to get to appointments. Your loved one might need medical equipment that is not covered by health insurance, or it might be recommended that they see specialists whom you also do not have coverage for. The cost of medication can be burdensome. If you are already on a limited income, these stresses can increase.

If you are a caregiver, you are probably familiar with with the financial concerns listed above. Much is not in your power, but there are ways to ease financial stress. Read on for some tips from our Resource Guide for Family Caregivers.

Look in to federal government services. | You might qualify for more assistance than you think, so it’s always advised to do your research. Have you heard of the Guaranteed Income Supplement or Allowance? The Guaranteed Income Supplement provides a monthly non-taxable benefit to Old Age Security (OAS) recipients who have a low income and are living in Canada. You qualify if you are a legal resident of Canada, you are receiving OAS, and your annual income is lower than the maximum annual income. The Allowance benefit is available if you are aged 60-64 and your spouse receives OAS. Visit for more information.

Know your available tax deductions and credits. | Additional financial support is available through a variety of income tax deductions and credits, such as Caregiver Tax Credits, which allows you to claim money for maintaining a dwelling where both you and a dependant live. Also look in to the Infirm Dependent Deduction, Disability Tax Credit, Medical Expenses Credit, Age Credit, Spousal Credit, Equivalent to Spouse Credit, Dependent Disability Credit, and BC Sales Tax Credit. Talk to an income tax professiona if one is available to you, or consider visiting a free Income Tax Clinic, which are available for single people whose income does not exceed $25,000 or for couples whose combined income does not exceed $30,000 per year.

Apply for BC PharmaCare. | BC residents with active Medical Services Plan of BC (MSP) coverage are eligible for coverage. Click here to look in to your options.

Apply for Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) | The Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program helps make rents affordable for BC seniors with low to moderate incomes. SAFER provides monthly cash payments to subsidise rents for eligible BC residents who are age 60 or over and who pay rent for their homes. For more information and to apply, click here. 

If you are struggling financially to care for your loved one, remember to reach out for help. It may feel hopeless sometimes, but there are options, organizations, and people who are able to help.


Cassandra Van Dyck




How to Diffuse Frustration


Frustration is a frustrating emotion.

When you get caught in a wave of it, it can feel hard to break free. You might feel stuck, and that feeling could cause more frustration. If left unchecked, you might lose sight of why you felt frustrated in the first place, which makes it very hard to work through your emotions.

Frustration is a primary emotion, which means that it is an emotion often expressed as other emotions, such as anger. If you can take some time to diffuse frustration before it’s expressed as anger, you have a better chance of communicating more effectively with your family, co-workers, friends, or loved one.

The next time you’re feeling frustrated, try following the steps below to diffuse and work through the challenging emotion.

BREATHE | Acknowledge that you’re feeling frustrated and pause, wherever you are. Even if you’re in the middle of a conversation or sitting in traffic. Name the emotion, and take a deep breath in, and out. Breathe all your air to expand your belly as big as it will stretch, then blow the air out forcefully through your lips. If you’re able to, let out a loud sigh. Do what grounds you. For some it is deep breathing, for others it is a walk in the forest, playing music, or exerting some energy exercising.

REFLECT | Now it’s time to figure out why you’re feeling frustrated. There might be several reasons, and that’s okay. Talk yourself through the layers that have built up to make you feel this way. Chances are, you have a lot on your plate. Did you say yes to something you didn’t want to? Are you feeling unsupported? Are you waiting for answers about your loved one’s condition? You can’t solve it all at once, but identifying the source of frustration can help you to come up with a plan to address it.

REACH OUT | Now that you’ve identified where your frustration is coming from, it’s time to get support. What kind of support you will need depends on your unique situation. Maybe you need so carve out some time for self-care, or perhaps you have not been getting enough sleep and need to take some steps to ensure you get a good night’s rest. If you’re feeling that you need some help caring for your loved one, you might need to talk to their support team and ask them to help out. Sometimes what you need might just be to connect with other caregivers who are experiencing similar situations. Talking, sharing, and connecting can do wonders to help manage frustration.

What steps do you take to diffuse frustration? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!


Cassandra Van Dyck

3 Ways to Sneak More Vegetables In to Your Diet


I don’t know about you, but eating a well-rounded diet during this time of year is a struggle for me. The fresh fruits and vegetables available over the last two seasons are starting to dwindle and it feels like there are treats offered at every turn.

While there’s nothing wrong with indulging, it’s important to eat a balanced diet to ensure you’re supporting your energy levels and encouraging your body to get a good night’s rest. Eating enough vegetables is a great way to support your health.

The Canada Food Guide suggests the following:

  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
  • Go for dark green vegetables such as broccoli, romaine lettuce, and spinach.
  • Go for orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
  • Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
  • Enjoy vegetables steamed, baked or stir-fried instead of deep fried.
  • Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.

Great advice, right? And we’ve probably heard it before! Incorporating those foods in to our days can be challenging. Here are three suggestions for getting your fill of vegetables.

Make a smoothie | One of the easiest ways to fill up on vegetables is to blend them in to a smoothie. Aim for low sugar smoothies if you can to support blood sugar levels. Try a base of steamed then frozen cauliflower, or avocado and coconut milk. Here are some recipe suggestions: Califlower Blueberry Smoothie and 4 Bananaless Smoothies

Make one meal a day a salad | Choose one meal a day and make an elaborate salad. Try grating carrots and beets, roasting yams and adding whatever greens you have on hand. If you often don’t feel full after eating a salad, add nuts and seeds, a boiled egg, or half an avocado.

Make soup | ‘Tis the season! Try this (my favourite!) recipe for vegetable-packed Emerald Soup.


Cassandra Van Dyck