Wholly Canadian is a social enterprise promoting whole-life local living
...a breath of fresh air for those with a heart for local /fair-trade living, & inspiration for those intrigued...

Wholly Canadian Blog

Friday, March 01, 2019

Kid's Easter Baskets Done Fair: Wholly Goodness with more than a Touch of Sweetness

Easter conjures up images of spring and new life.  Life.  Abundant Life. Life that is like a river that flows out of me. . .

This kind of celebration begs us to celebrate in a way that is truly life-giving.

Life-giving . . . meaning that it is giving to more than just me, giving more than than to just  my family; it is life-giving to a community that extends to the farmer in a far away land, to the artisan across the seas, and my local Canadian neighbour a province away.

Choose this handmade Easter card made with indigneous fibres to bring joyous Easter greetings.

This Easter I decided to rethink Easter baskets in a "neighbourly" fashion. Rather than do what is "cheapest for me, " we came up with some Easter ideas that spread some Easter joy beyond our family. These baskets are rooted in a joy of community-orientation.

We included items from our three core tenets

1) local,

2) fair-trade, and

3) used  . . .

(Click here for a post on Why this matters)




Okay, let's get on with the Easter hunt!


 The above Easter basket includes:

  • Good News Easter basket: Just the thing for Easter morning egg hunts. Strips of recycled magazines are wound and woven in a fashion similar to that of traditional basket making. This innovative use of an unconventional material fits the “trash to treasure” trend and creates a unique pattern with a distinct finished look.
  • Good News Easter Egg (seen at the back): Skip the plastic eggs and fill up this egg-shaped box with trinkets and treats on Easter morning for an egg hunt to remember. Strips of recycled magazines are wound and woven in a fashion similar to that of traditional basket making.
  • Duck Finger Puppet: A cheery spring character for loads of creative fun. And made fairly {grin}
  • Nuster Chocolate Treats: A sweet fair-trade treat: a creamy strawberry Greek yogurt filling surrounds a dry roasted whole almond and is coated in a crisp rice and cocoa wafer shell. Fair trade chocolate and GMO-free ingredients.
  • Pecking Chicks Toy: A wooden classic toy for all ages to enjoy. . .and fair-trade of course!
  • Handmade Chocolate pop on a stick made with fair-trade chocolate. Click here for recipe.



 The above Easter basket includes:

  • Good News Easter basket: Just the thing for Easter morning egg hunts. Strips of recycled magazines are wound and woven in a fashion similar to that of traditional basket making. This innovative use of an unconventional material fits the “trash to treasure” trend and creates a unique pattern with a distinct finished look.
  • Good News Easter Egg (seen near the front): Skip the plastic eggs and fill up this egg-shaped box with trinkets and treats on Easter morning for an egg hunt to remember. Strips of recycled magazines are wound and woven in a fashion similar to that of traditional basket making.
  • Puppy Coin Purse: My little guy needs a little coin wallet to carry his Sunday morning offering money to Sunday School safely {grin}
  • Rabbit Finger Puppet: A spring-y character for loads of creative fun. And made fairly {grin}
  • Handmade Chocolate pop on a stick made with fair-trade chocolate. Click here for recipe.


fair-trade finger puppets

And of course it gave us great joy to add a used item to beef up the sustainability aspect of this basket. And what could be better than the classic "Chicken Little" book? This used copy brings back many childhood memories. I know the characters from this book will bring much amusement to our home. I mean who cannot enjoy reading about Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Cocky Locky, and Turkey Lurkey?

And finally we added a Canadian-made Easter bunny that hopped here from Saskatoon, SK. . . . lovingly made by Mary Grishchenko of Mashenka Rose. Check out her whimsy and adorable creations for your loved ones!


I actually went with my two little guys to Ten Thousand Villages (one toddling beside the other seated in the stroller) and we picked out the fair-trade treats together. At their age a bit of knowledge of Easter treats only heightens the anticipation . . . so I figured it was okay to make it a fun outing of it. My three year old is still talking about the giraffes he saw at the Ten Thousand Villages store. It was so lovely to connect with Lisa, the assistant manager at the Winnipeg retail location. When she started talking to my little guys I knew she had to be a fellow mama:)

Looking to make some of your own fair-trade chocolate treats? Check out our fair-trade Camino recipe here:


What are your Easter treat plans? Leave a note and tell us! Whatever they are I hope you take a page from "Chicken Little". . .

". . . She pecked and pecked at it until it was all gone."

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 11:09 AM 0 Comments

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Lesson in a Kernel of Wheat: Death Precedes Life

While growing up in my home, my parents had a tradition of planting some wheat before Easter--and as children we enjoyed watching it grow. This family tradition became synonymous with the Easter season.  Now, it's such a joy to continue this tradition.


No need to buy grass seed; I simply used the wheat kernels that I mill in my on-the-counter grain mill. We used local organic wheat purchased at Prairie Foods in MB.


As I was doing this activity with my little guy I was once again reminded that death precedes life; I explained  that the kernel of wheat needs to die (to itself) in order to give life.  (This object lesson is great because it allows the little ones to get their hands dirty!)


Death precedes life. Such an incredible thought. Most of us seek fullfillment, and have this notion that true joyous life will follow our fullfillment or self-actualization. But actually nature teaches us quite the opposite; the kernel of wheat dies to itself in order to produce more life.

A kernel of wheat is a great Easter lesson.

Check out the fair-trade bashful bunny purchased from Ten Thousand Villages

In what ways do you need to engage in self-denial? In what ways to you need to love your neighbour, and even love your enemy in order to truly live?


A fair-trade Easter basket we made up. . .read more about it here

One of the ways we try to do this is make accomodation within our tight budget and buy local & fair-trade products (generally they cost a bit more) when we can; this essentially means less disposable income for us, and more for someone else (e.g. the farmer, the artisan, the textile worker across the seas) Click here for a post on why local & fair-trade matters.


Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)

Eugene Peterson in his paraphase beautifully says: “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal."


Drinking kombucha made with Camino fair-trade sugar from Ten Thousand Villages

After this "dirty" work we refreshed ourselves with a tall glass of homemade strawberry kombucha (cultured tea), which also happens to be so incredible for your health!  (A healthy gut belongs to a healthy person, which is why you want to get a healthy gut!) Kombucha makes for a fabulous spring-time drink, and its natural effervescence makes it a great soda-pop replacement.  

Looking to spring into some health this season? Shed some toxins? Interested in making your own kombucha? Kombucha cultures can be purchased here. And this spring we are offering an exciting Winnipeg-based cultured drink course.


Pictured above. . .a few wheat seedlings poking through the dirt--three days later.




We planted our wheat on Holy Week Tuesday, and it started poking through the ground on Good Friday. So beautifully poignant.

Looking for some quick & easy DIY Easter chocoalte ideas? Look no further! We've got a tasty fair-trade recipe awaiting you!


Make sure to check out all our Easter posts. . .

fair-trade finger puppets

  Check out this Canadian-made Easter bunny that hopped here from Saskatoon, SK. . . . lovingly made by Mary Grishchenko of Mashenka Rose.

Happy Easter!


Posted by Wholly Canadian at 3:16 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Birthday Party with a Local Flair: I Cho Cho Choose You

Wholly Canadian's little guy. . .just turned two. A birthday party was in order.

Theme of the Party? Trains (He's enamoroued with trains).

Underpinnings of the Party? Simplicity & a local flair

This party would not induce Pinterest envy; and that's fine with me {smile}. But it brought tons of joy.


So here are some ideas for those wanting to add some simple local flair to their birthday parties.

1. Food:

I made pizza buns. I mixed local meat with italian sauce and local cheese. I served it on some homemade buns made with local grains. Voila! A very tasty and healthy entree.

I purchased my meat from All Natural Meats in Manitoba using their elk garlic sausage & pepperoni. Delicious!

Choosing natural meat is critical for children's development . . .so it's a worthy investment.

All Natural Meats. Buy Local. Buy Fresh. Buy All Natural Meats.


2. Cake:

I made a cake with Canadian-made, Comensoli's gluten-free cake mix . . . a delicious cake that just happens to be gluten-free!  This was the first cake (of many to come) that I decorated without help from my sister. . . and I really enjoyed the challenge!  There's something about creativity under pressure. . .{grin}




3. Party Favours

Simplicity often means less is more. I didn't want to go to the dollar store and buy a loot bag brimming with cheap stuff, so we simply gave away two items.

a) Sugar Cookies made with nut flour and sweetened with Canadian maple sugar:

b) And train crayonsCrazy 4 Crayons sponsored this giveaway which proved to be a big hit! Hailing from Calgary, Trish Skinner, makes crayons in so many creative shapes and moulds, e.g. owls, dinasours, princesses, mermaids, animals, vehicles, castles, sea shells, robots, etc.

Obviously we chose the train crayon!  These crayons are a great idea, as they are both pragmatic and fun.  Parents appreciate a party favour that does not clutter the house. 

Check her out for your next party! Crazy 4 Crayons



4. Simple games:

We played simple games like running and crawling races (treats at the finish line helped the little guys understand the goal), duck duck goose (okay that was a bit complicated for 2-year-olds who couldn't understand why they had suddenly get up and run the opposite direction), and sang some action songs.

While waiting for the pizza buns we read the classic story "The Little Engine that Could"




5. Second-hand outfit:

I found a pair of pinstripe engineer ovealls on ebay that suited their second owner.  Buying used is one of Wholly Canadians' core tenets.


6. Nap time!

So after the games, eats, and gifts it was nap time--for all involved! 


7. Birthday Gifts:

In addition to some generous gifts from his friends, our little guy received two gifts at home:


1. "Helper Stool"

I had this stool custom made to fit our (okay, my) needs. We have a small pedestal sink in our bathroom, so it was getting difficult to lift him up to wash his hands. I wanted a safe stool that he could climb, and that was easy for me to move.

I had the handles on this stool custom-made at my height (yup, this pregnant mama deserves some perks), and the stool has castors (wheels) at the back which are activated when the stool is tipped. This makes for easy moving.

We purchased this stool from Ed Hiebert in Winnipeg who can be reached via email.



I also had this stool made at only 12" inches in width, because we have a small house, and I wanted it take the least amount of real estate.

This little guy loves his stool!  If I tell him it's time to wash his hands, he gets excited and always says "With stool?" "Yes," mama says, "with stool." And then he carefully climbs up by himself (he's a cautious guy) and says "Oh do" which means "I do." "Yes," mama says "you do." 

The last few weeks he's been my "helper" in the kitchen. It allows me time to make meals and have him feel a part of this prep. His prep, however, is mostly playing with toothpicks and trying to get them back in their container. It works for me!


2. Kid's Table made of Barnwood!

The second gift he received is also a pragmatic gift, but a great deal of fun!  Created by and sponsored by Prairie Barnwood, this kid's table has become invaluable for our little home.  I wanted a small table that would function as a daily snack table, extra table when friends come over, and a craft table. The drawer (which is accessed on both sides of the table) is mama's secret weapon for a quick clean-up.  It hosts a variety of treasured items and crafts.


Made in Morden, MB with Canadian-made barnwood, this table is a wonderful addition to our little home. The workmanship is top-notch.

It is displayed with two second-hand stools (one of which used to be a Mennonite milking stool that I found on kijiji, and the other at a thrift store).

Looking for some unique but sturdy furniture filled with goodwill? Check out Prairie Barnwood, and start drooling.

We've featured them previously and you can read about it here. . .

Why Local?

Why employ a community-orientation in your birthday parties?

    • It's intentional: many of the ingredients and items used to celebrate this birthday were  local, fair-trade, or used . . .few good things of life are accidental. I'm always reminded that acts of goodwill and kindness are intentional. . .and this is a "life message" I want to pass on to our little guy.
    • It Brings Joy! The party was rooted in community & goodwill. . . rather than buying what is "cheapest for me," it thinks "we". . . giving way to a true joy
    • It's a part of being in a story. . .Life is a story. It's a chain of moments that create a "life story." How is your "story" being told?  We've read countless stories to our little guy, but I want him to grow up remembering he's part of an incredible story. . .


For a good resource on why this matters see "Why Localism"

What birthday party gifts and ideas have you implemented that are full of goodwill?

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 8:34 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Wheels on Bus go. . .to the Farm!

Last week Friday was one of those days that made me so proud not only to be Canadian, but a Manitoban.

I travelled with Food Matters Manitoba, on a bus tour to visit two local farms. Food Matters is a registered charity that partners with northerners, newcomers, farmers and families to harvest, prepare and share good food. They engage Manitobans towards healthy, fair, and sustainable food for all.

Firstly, we visited Blue Lagoon organic farm. They grow a variety of organic fruits, herbs and vegetables, as well as raise pastured poultry.

When we first got off the bus, we were greeted by Lori Ann, the lady of the farm. My first impression of her was that she belonged in a children's story book. . . her bubbly personality and the kindest big blue eyes were akin to the grandmas you read about in storybooks!  We rode about on a hay wagon taking in the sights of their farm in a drizzle of rain (good thing I was wearing my Canadian-made Taiga rain jacket to keep me dry) and observed the vast efforts this farm took to upkeep.

I especially enjoyed seeing the turkeys and chickens that are moved about in their mobile cages everyday onto fresh alfafa.   Overall, I was overwhelmed with the amount of efforts this family puts into keeping this farm going. . .sun up to sun down. I'm sure if you calculated a farmer's wages per hour, it would be mere coins. When I asked her what got her up in the mornings, ie. why do this?. . .she responded with a story of when she used to teach school (it didn't surprise me she used to be a school teacher), and seeing the types of food children had in their lunches. . . and knowing she wanted to make a difference in the type of food that was available in our province.  Once again, I am convinced that passion (not monetary) is the fuel for a lot of our small and or/organic Canadian farms.

That day I tasted my first patty pan squash from Blue Lagoon organic farm, and loved it! A few weeks ago, I purchased their homegrown chamomile tea at a local farmer's market to make some homemade diaper spray for baby's bum. . .stay tuned for upcoming recipe {grin}

I previously wrote about asking the right questions, i.e.

Don't ask why organic/natural food is so expensive, ask why cheap food is so cheap. . .

The farmers on this tour exemplified that. . .

Then our bus took us to Zinn Farms. They specialize in pastured pork, poultry, rabbits, and goat meat.  And we sure got a whiff of farm-life. Wow! It's ever so healthy to be reminded of what farm-life is all about. {grin}

I've become accustomed to thinking of beef and chickens on the pasture, but never thought of pigs out on the pasture.  But of course, it make sense. Wild pigs naturally graze in the forest. This extra effort (of pasturing) is what sets this farm apart from other pork farmers--delivering quality meat the way nature intended it.

Free-range pigs at Zinn Farms

They gave us a sample taste of some of their sausages, and to say it simply, they are mouth-watering. I'm not sure I have ever had such a good breakfast sausage before. The hot italian, and souvlaki sausages were right up there too.  So I bought some of each {smile}.  My family enjoyed the breakfast sausages this last Sunday brunch, and tonight I put souvlaki sausages in broth with fresh garden carrots for a quick soup.  And served it with homemade sourdough crackers.  A nutrient-dense meal undergirded with localism and goodwill. It can't get any better than that.

Local organic spelt grain made into homemade sourdough crackers. Want to learn how to make traditional foods like these crackers. See this course coming to Winnipeg!

Why buy local?  Why take efforts in supporting these farmers?

Well, there are so many reasons. I wrote about some here. This farm tour simply solidified my passion for supporting local. We all win when we purchase from our "neighbours." And as I've mentioned previously, this paradigm is rooted {pun intended!}in goodwill that gives life to joy.

A few other hightlights of the day were meeting fellow Manitobans on the bus tour, who represent microcosms of goodwill that make our province great!

  • I met Kalynn Spain, from Small Farms Manitoba--who helped organize the farm tour. Small Farms Manitoba is an online space for farmers who consider themselves to be underrepresented by provincial commodity groups--featuring a farm directory that creates a synergistic provincial energy.  Looking for local vegetables or meat grown in Manitoba? Use her directory to help you locate it from a farm near you! Kalynn, a young female farmer herself, farms her own chickens and pigs and is quite simply an inspirational model for women.
  • Laurel Gardiner, acting chair of Food Matters. What a wonderful conversation we had over sausage! It's amazing what good food does. I loved hearing about her new grandaughter and the blessing she is to her family. I also found out that she is a cousin to Tracy, owner and farmer of Naosap Wild Organic Rice, who recently collaborated with Wholly Canadian by sponsoring our wild rice extravaganza giveaway. Check it out here!
  • Kreesta Doucette, exective director of Food Matters, whose gentle spirit and strong leadership were so evident in her speech. I didn't get to chat much with her, but if the bus tour exemplifies what Food Matters is doing, I say a job well done!
  • Anna Levin, who works with North End Cooking Classes, an extension of Food Matters, provides cooking classes to North End youth. It was such a joy meeting Anna and hearing about what she and her fellow colleague, Lissie, are doing within our city.
  • And of course, enjoying this bus tour with my friend, Lynne. . .a type of friend that everyone needs when beginning new ventures. . .

The whole day was a narrative of re-shaping Manitoba stories through food. . .

See our Wholly Canadian page for permanent links to Food Matters & Small Farms Manitoba.

As our tour ended, I told Kalynn, wouldn't it be great to have an organized farmer's market on wheels. . . It's great to support farmer's markets and enjoy the visual and tasty delights that fill our senses while meeting the faces of the farmers most often hidden from us when we purchase food. But it's quite another thing to purchase food straight from a farm. It provides a well-rounded sensory experience and appreciation that is second to none. But that's not all. It was a huge blessing for the farmers we visited. Instead of hauling their produce within their limited time & financial constraints, we came to them. . .

So as our Manitoba garden markets wrap up for yet another season, here's to enjoying and dreaming about real food and real farms all winter long. . .

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 7:00 AM 42 Comments

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Put your Money where your Mouth is

It's easy to talk to the talk, it's harder to walk the walk. Arlene Dickinson (from Dragon's Den), who, in my opinion, has just the right amount of entrepreneurial heart and edge, has on more than one occasion said: "Put your money where your mouth is. . ."

There have been so many opportunities for me to do exactly that. . .sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I let the opportunity slip . . .

It is the launching week of Wholly Canadian, and today I want to celebrate getting it right.  Early on, in the conception of Wholly Canadian, I would engage my community on this idea of starting an online social enterprise that would serve as an extension of social justice in the areas of localism and fair-trade.

After hearing my vision, what amazed me, is how many people would encourage me to source out my website to programmers overseas . . . telling me how I could save oodles of ca$h. {Ironic, I know}  I would respond, and say, well, that's exactly what I want to re-frame for Canadians!

Choosing to re-think the bottom-line. . .

Indeed, I could have saved a lot of cash by choosing cheap overseas website developers, and in the meantime, also created a lot of havoc. Just recently, I had a website designer share how he has to fix several websites due to the shoddy work of these "somewhere-out-there cheap website developers", as well as redesign logos because they were initially stolen from other companies. 

So yes, choosing local website programmers and designers was an intentional decision and a wise investment! So without further adieu, here's a rather organic way to saying thanks to some fellow-Canadians who have made this vision possible:

  • My Designer: Arae Design  I knew when I met Alison in her home, that our visions would coincide. The walls on her home resonated with the look I wanted for my social enterprise. It was love at first sight. Thank-you Alison for all your hard work to making my vision reality.
  • My Programmer: Modern Earth Web Design  I chose Modern Earth because they are local and a multi-employee team. So if an employee quits, my website continues. My website is not reliant upon one person. Thank-you Modern Earth for being so patient with me in this journey.

Here's a note for budding entrepreneurs interested in having a website: designers and programmers are two different type of people. Choose a designer whose style connects with yours. First impressions can only be made once. And then make sure the two (designer & programer) collaborate on specifics while working on your project.

There are so many reasons why it makes sense to live from a paradigm of local & fair trade living. Are you currently contemplating a change in sourcing your business needs? Is the thought daunting? Is the cost overwhelming?  My encouragement to you it to market yourself as a business that is dedicated to maintaining a local and/or fair-trade standard. There is a growing market of Canadians who are hungry for exactly that, and are willing to pay extra.   There is an increasing segment of Canadians who view the "bottom-line" as more than just solely dollar figures. There is a generation rising up that cares about social-justice . . .

Weave a story through your business choices . . .people crave a worthy-story in a day and age that is filled with trivial minutia. . .

Localism is not for the elite, it is not for those with extra disposable income, no, it is for grass-roots people who are hungry to make a difference despite their limited income. I share this as someone who lives in a home supported by charitable wages from a non-profit organization. I can truly say, there is a real cost to living this joy. . .

My journey of local and fair-trade living has not been easy or simple. Attempting to rid myself of the shackles of utilitarianism has proved a worthy challenge — a buying what is "cheapest for me" mentality has not been easy to shake off (Winnipeggers are notorious for their love of deals!). Buying locally and fair-trade has slowly become an integrated discipline . . . yes, even when it affects my wallet and schedule in ways it would not have otherwise. And I am still on this journey. I have not mastered it, but I am a pilgrim . . . on a journey.

So, yes, Arlene, I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is. . .

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 8:16 AM 2 Comments

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How? A Proposal of Wholly Canadian Living

A Shopping Paradigm of Goodwill

As much as possible, I buy locally/Canadian. Undoubtedly people ask me, what if the product I need is not available locally?

In such cases, I integrate three other "neighbourly" criteria into my purchases as much as possible:

1.  Buying locally—buying Canadian.


When not possible...

2.  Buying fair-trade:

  • buying products that give a fair wage to the farmer or artisan. . .instead of the mentality of "buying what cheapest for me and who cares about the story and people who made it")

When not possible...

3.  Buying second-hand/upcycling:

  • rather than buying new, re-use by buying-second hand from online classifieds, thrift stores, or garage sales. Re-purposing/upcylicng is also a key component to sustainable living.

When not possible...

4.  Buying terroir: 

  • a French term that infers that a product reflects its origin or its sense of place. This term can be borrowed for sustainable living in terms of consumption of goods. Examples of purchasing terroir would be cinnamon from Sri Lanka,  bamboo from China, or maple syrup from Canada. An example of the inverse of purchasing terroir would be purchasing a sheepskin processed in China that originated in New Zealand, and is now sold in Canada.

Whilst these four criteria may not always be possible, I am surprised more often when they do not, than when they do. Recently I sought to purchase a rain jacket, and I typed in the words "rain jacket" and "made in Canada," and was not disappointed.

So join me in a journey of living wholly Canadian... A journey of community, localism, and goodwill.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 12:00 AM 1 Comments

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Welcome to the first week of Wholly Canadian

Welcome to the first week of Wholly Canadian, a social enterprise that will hopefully be an inspiration to Canadians!

It is with joy that I launch this website. . .

Make sure to read:

And most of all, make sure to enter our free giveaway today!

Have a Wholly Canadian Day!


Tags localism 
Posted by Wholly Canadian at 12:00 AM 186 Comments