Introducing Tully! The Extended Version…

My mother, auntie and I drove up to Mistyglen in Northern Alberta today. As I write this, we’ve just left Edmonton in the dark to return back to Calgary for the night. My mom is driving, and Tully, my new Irish Wolfhound baby, is stretched out in the two seats beside me.

We left in the morning from Calgary. After a stop in Edmonton to fuel up on Pho, we drove the straight lines of rural Alberta all the way up to Newbrook, and hour and a bit North of Edmonton. We arrived at the breeders, and I got to meet the pups one on one.



As a simple version of a puppy personality test, I lifted each one of them in the air, rolled them over, called them and walked away. We quickly narrowed it down to two dogs… Mr. Chill, the blue collar boy, and Mr. Curious, the orange collared boy. And then I agonized… Which should it be?

While I pondered, we went out the kennels and visited with all the other dogs.



The orange collared one went along with the crowd, but the blue collared one stayed behind, all by himself at the house. I decided then that he was too independent for me, and appointed Mr. Curious the new moniker, Tully. Here he is shown in the picture with his grandfather, who is nine years old.

After I chose Tully, our breeder told me that he had fantastic potential for showing. And even though we had said we wanted just a pet, that she would be very happy for us to change the agreement down the road, and show him. So we will see! In the meanwhile, he will be the beloved newest addition to our family of furry, finned and feathered folk.

After signing the papers and talking through a bunch of questions, we bundled him up in the car, in the back seat with me. Tully cried or howled all the way down to Edmonton, over an hour. Poor dear. He didn’t want to pee or drink or eat… All he wanted to do was shove his head in my jacket and snuggle.

When we stopped at the fast food joint in Edmonton, Tully was relieved to get out of the car. He’d never been on leash before, but he padded along beside me, sat quietly at the picnic table while I ate, and peed on the snow. He’s not vaccinated yet, so I shouldn’t have technically done that, but we needed to eat and he needed to pee. Since he hasn’t gone through his puppy vaccines yet we will have to wait to introduce him to the world in person until about five weeks from now, until he’s had his first and second shots.

Mom says “he’s such a gentle puppy… So soft and cuddly! But a bit gangly like a teenager, too.” Both she and my auntie think I made the right choice. And I think I did too! He’s gentle and peaceful, just like his Gaelic name, Tully.

Tomorrow I meet my puppy!

After a harrowing drive over the mountain passes (stopped three times for accidents and avalanche) I arrived this afternoon in Calgary. Tomorrow, my mom and auntie and I will drive up north of Edmonton to the breeder’s house, and pick out the new pup! Then back to Calgary, so my gramma, uncle and dad can see him. And then we’ll take two days to come home Monday and Tuesday, stopping at my sister’s on the way.

I’m super excited… I’ve been preparing a lot for the little guy! I’ve read a few new books, worked on Laughlin’s training so he doesn’t pass on bad habits, and even moved my office in the workshop so there will be more room for the dog in the kitchen.

Jason an I put together this little video early this week about our puppy preparations… I thought some of you might enjoy it!

One of the things we talk about in the video is picking out your puppy. Our breeder has already sent us pictures and descriptions of each of the pups…. We think we have a sense of which we will end up taking home, but we still need to see them in person. I want to test their personalities.

Our puppy should be super chill and laid back, but also confident. After all, his first social engagement will be the girls grade three classroom! I borrowed my aunt’s umbrella and I’ll do a few basic tests like calling the puppy, walking away, holding him up, letting him lick my face, throwing something to retrieve, making a loud noise, and opening the afore mentioned umbrella. Hopefully that will weed out any nervous or overconfident dogs.

To keep you in suspense… Here are a couple of pictures from last weekend! Which one will it be??





Chechebsa, genfo and Ethiopian breakfast

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve barely cooked an Ethiopian food in the last 6 months. Maybe because it takes time, and I’ve been short on that! I’ve made some lentils and tibs, but I haven’t taken the time to make injera from scratch.

So a resolution… to make an Ethiopian feast (with enough sauces to stock the freezer) some time in February!

And, I might try some Ethiopian breakfast food one Sunday. A friend posted this great page with a recipe for Chechebsa which I really enjoy in Oromo country in Ethiopia. I think I might give it a try! T, Mom and I often order it when we are going through Debra Zeit, at the restaurant along the highway. It won’t taste the same, but my girls might enjoy it too.

One thing I won’t be cooking, though, is genfo. Ew. Sorry, genfo lovers, but that stuff is just gross. Healthy, yes, but gross. I’ve had some at an Ethiopian baby shower, and a couple times at special Ethiopian holidays. But no matter how many times I try it – ew. But don’t let me deter you. You can try the paste for yourself.

Anyone else have a favourite Ethiopian breakfast food?


Which puppy will be my Tully?

I’m very excited! This Sunday, I get to pick out and pick up my new baby Irish Wolfhound puppy. I’ve decided to name him Tully, which means “gentle.”

Irish wolfhound puppies

He’ll only be ten weeks old, but you might be surprised how big he is. He’ll weigh about the same amount as Maggie! and will already be bigger than Laughlin.

I decided that I’m going to take Laughlin on the road trip to Alberta, just so he can get used to Tully on the road. It’s not going to be easy on him, and I figure it’ll be better to introduce them on neutral territory. My poor auntie… We will be staying at her house in Calgary the night we retrieve the pup. I’m sorry in advance for the crying! (That will be me, not sleeping, btw. Oh, and the pup will be crying too.)

As it turns out, I get to have my pick from the four boy pups. Taking advice from my friend Pam, I picked up a puppy book by the Monks of New Skete, and it has great tips on picking the pup.

For the record, I picked Maggie and Hamish, but Laughlin was Jason’s pick. For all of you that know Laughlin, you will know what I am saying between the lines.

Anyway, there is a neat personality tests in the Monks of New Skete book, and I’m hoping to give elements of the test to the pups.

I don’t want a shrinking violet, nor a bullish brute that will conflict with Laughlin and be hard to train. Somewhere in the middle will be the best… Hopefully opening an umbrella and clanging some pots will give me an indication of their fledging personalities.
Either that, or I will scare the bejeebers out of the poor things.

Ok, so votes in advance… Which pup will it be? Orange collar, red, blue or green? What do you think? Which will be my Tully?

That was them a few weeks ago, so of course, they are double the size now :-)

The breeder kindly posted some pictures of their last vet visit, on Thursday… You can see they are a lot bigger!

The green collared male pup… Such a snuggler. That is him on an adult man’s lap, so you get an idea of how big they are now…


The blue male pup… She calls him Buddha

After the vet visit, all tuckered out…


Just to whet your whistles, here is a little video about Irish Wolfhounds, so you can see what my baby will look like in a year… And why I think they are so awesome!

A Picture Perfect Christmas


This year, our Christmas holiday was quiet, peaceful, and full of family and friends. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer time and a better staycation. Unfortunately, after our guests left, the girls and I got horribly sick with influenza, and I’m just now catching up with work, home and play. But for those few Christmas days, pre-sickness, it really was divine.




Part of the joy of the holidays is having family visit. My sister Ena and her hubby Uncle M staked out the foldout bed, while my parents stayed at our generous friend’s vacant house, a short drive away. Spreading out the relatives, and dividing up the meals between us really helped ease the stress of hosting. I highly recommend it. Each adult couple was in charge of a specific meals, and those same meals they cleaned up after. Which meant, that two thirds of the time, you just got to eat and enjoy.


One of the highlights of the holidays was our Christmas Eve dinner. Ena and Uncle M had a Ukrainian feast from scratch… Perogies, sausages, perushkey, and more. Ukrainian blood flows on M’s side of the family, as well as ours, so it was a nice heritage dinner for us, evoking my memories of making perogies with my great aunts when I was little.


Our extended Ethiopian family, Haile and Menbi, always come over at Christmas, but this year ended up being at our house on Christmas Eve. They had never had Ukrainian food before… “I just can’t stop eating, it’s so good!” Was the compliment of the night, from a delighted Menbi. We had bison sausages and bacon on the side, just for her.


In our family, big presents are really the norm; however carefully selected or home crafted little gifts are really appreciated. So we don’t power through Christmas morning… We savour it.

The girls first woke and opened their Santa gifts at 3am (hello, next year an alarm clock rule!) but then went back to bed and slept until 9am. Mom and dad arrived just in time to cook us a huge breakfast pancakes and bacon, of course. Dad always makes shaped pancakes for the kids… This year they had dog pancakes. Then we leisurely opened our gifts.

Some of the documented, fun gifts this year were Uncle M’ Uncle peanut butter beer…


… Sugar and Spice’s science kit, complete with protective eyewear…


… And the Mocha Mix, lovingly made by Sugar and Spice for their Daddy. He has been blissfully caffeinated ever since.


The most exciting day surprise of all, however, was the announcement from my brother up north. He and his girlfriend skyped in to tell us that they got engaged! And will be married this summer. So that was wonderful to hear. I know they will be very happy.

Jason and I planned a super simple Christmas dinner, with just turkey, stuffing, and a yam / carrot bake. Here is my super helper, Sugar, chopping happily away. It looks like I’m stabbing her, but I’m not.


Ok, well it was almost a super simple feast, because my mom is currently gluten free and dairy free, and one important kitchen appliance gave out mid-cooking. I baked the gluten free bread for the stuffing from scratch (yum) and dessert was the darkest, most delicious gluten and dairy free gingerbread cake with whiskey sauce. The bread and cake baking went swimmingly; however, after baking the bread, the oven gave out! So our turkey ended up being baked, hours late, in the veterinary clinic oven a couple of blocks away, and we ate hours later than expected. But whatever… It was delectable.


Boxing Day, we played games, went out for poutine and took the kids skating.




And the day after, we had a few friends over for roasted hotdogs and marshmallows outside. It was fun to hang out in the snow, drink gluhwein (double yummy!) and warm up around the fire… And I was reminded that sometimes the simplest of parties are the best.


After Christmas, two memorable events… First, the plague. Sugar and Spice were both ill… Poor babes. Sugar had a raging fever for about a week. This is her passed out in front of a heater. Sometimes I have no idea how kids can sleep.


Then while my subsequent fever was raging (dang, I don’t think I’ve EVER been that sick before…) we had the snowiest day in a generation. It was supposed to be the first day back to school, but instead, Kelowna has its first, and second, snow days in 35 years.


Not only were the cars completely snowed in… You should have seen the chicken coop! Note the faint light from the coop’s window on the left.


Jason walked to work anyways (picture below) but of course, almost no one came. So he got the course he was working on finished up, which was a hidden blessing. Now he’s asking clients about their pets energetics, and checking patients’ tongues… A very useful course in traditional Chinese medicine!


And meanwhile, I was curled up in bed for 10 days. Seriously… 10 days. Thanks to my mom, who braved that very same snow day on the greyhound, and traveled from Creston to take care of me for a week. Thank you thank you Mom.

Now that I’ve caught you all up form our picturesque Christmas, the big news is that I get to pick up my puppy next week! So you can expect lots of gratuitous puppy pics. Lots of puppy pics.

Walking with a Dozen Irish Wolfhounds

This weekend we slipped away over the Misty Mountains to Mission, BC, for a 24 hour getaway. The whole purpose of our trip was to go walking with the BC branch of the Irish wolfhound club.


Before we left, the girls asked, “why are we going, when we don’t even have an Irish wolfhound yet?” (Not that they were complaining, they were super excited.)

Their father replied… “We went to Harambee and adoptive parent meetings before we ever had you!”


They thought that was hilarious comparison, but really, our visit was for the same reason. Before the girls came home, we learnt from any parents about hair, attachment-based parenting, and dealing with piercing questions. Irish wolfhounds are giants, and they have particular health and lifestyle concerns. We wanted to talk to other Irish wolfhound guardians, learn more about the breed, learn about raising them, health concerns, and tips and tricks.

So we drove down, spend the night in a hotel, and went for a 5 km walk with a dozen hounds and their people the next morning. It was very nice… We met lots of good people and got to chat about all things to do with the breed.







The dogs were as I expected, but even more gentle, lean, and gangly. I was struck by how long their legs were… But they weren’t quite as tall as I had remembered. No, I’m not having second thoughts. Rather, I was enamored by them! I think Jason, with all his hesitancy about a giant dog living in the house, was also impressed by their lovely dispositions. The girls thought they were awesome.


Maggie, our lovely old bird dog, did just fine. I couldn’t believe it she made it most of the walk, and what good condition she is in. If a dog came up behind her, with her being deaf and blind, it did start of her and she snarled once or twice. But generally speaking she seem to get along with the other dogs.


Of course, Laughlin, our cairn terrorist, was completely overwhelmed and snarled and snapped of every giant dog became his way. (Embarrassing!) But it’s a testament to the wolfhound breed that none of the big dogs so much as batted an eyelash, and I was once again convinced that this was the perfect dog for us. Laughlin is what they call in Jason’s herbal medicine studies “hot ,” and almost all Irish wolfhounds are “cool.” This means that Laughlin, a typical terrier, is always running on instinct and adrenaline; whereas, the wolfhounds are much gentler and have a relaxed temperament. It will be a good combination to balance him out.


This is a six month old puppy… Interestingly, Laughlin was perfectly fine with her. Somehow, even with the size, he knew it was a baby.


The girls did us proud, as they told stories and ask questions of all the people they walked with. I barely saw them over the 5 km, but afterwards, several people came up to me and told us what lovely girls we have. True! And they did us proud. Unlike our terrier.

It was a great learning experience, and we will likely go back once a year to compare notes and learn more as our puppy grows…


PS: these people are not running from the law, but I didn’t have a chance to ask permission to post their pictures. So you just got to see the dogs. :-)

Me, my two besties and Michael Franti

It’s been three weeks since I went to Vancouver for a girls weekend with my two best friends… But that shows you what kind of busy I’ve had since!


I really needed a getaway… With starting the clinic, I hadn’t had a day off in months. So I asked Von and T to go to Vancouver for the weekend. As it turned out, Von was going anyway for some doctor training (she’s an MD) so T and I invaded her hotel room at the Fairmont. Sweet.

Oddly enough, Von, my best friend (since grade 4/5) and my best buddy in Kelowna T, had never met. Sure, they’ve heard a lot about each other, but hadn’t ever had the pleasure. I knew that they would get along well, and sure enough, they found common ground in teasing me, Asian cuisine, and raunchy jokes. :-)

We wandered about the city, eating at delicious restaurants. We all share a passion for food and eating, so we take the restaurant selection pretty seriously. We had Japanese tapas, hand pulled noodles, and French seafood. YUMMers…

T and I also caught the exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery about China’s emperors. I honestly don’t know that much about Chinese history, but I found it fascinating, and we both thought we learned a lot from the exhibit.









This is not a goat… Donations supporting grassroots change in Africa

Have you ever bought a goat, chicken, or a medical kit from a charity’s gift catalog? I have… But I didn’t realize at the time the intricacies of goat purchasing. For many charities, the goat or chicken is simply a symbol of a donation amount, and in the fine print it reads that charity will use your dollars as they see fit. Other charities actually send out 300 goats one year, and 3000 the next, depending on what donors would like to spend their money on. In other words, goats are either inspirational pictures, or fluctuating, donor-driven programs.

At Vulnerable Children Society, the charity I co-founded and manage, we don’t have a gift catalog, and we don’t sell goats. Or chickens either.

solon homes stud

And this is why… Our programs are created by Ethiopian/Liberian organizations, to address the most pressing needs in those countries. The indigenous organizations, run by locals, create holistic programs to powerfully impact the lives of children and families. Our job as the fundraising partner is not to tell our African partners how many of anything they should have that year, or how to do their work. Our job is to connect you with them, so that children can be educated, families can be preserved, and communities can be transformed.

Parents-Guardians - Food Preparation2

We are transparent about our fundraising: you know that when you donate to Vulnerable Children Society, we send the funds to the program you have designated your dollars to help. And if that program is fully funded, or for some reason needs to be discontinued, we roll the dollars into our general program fund. Lastly, we publish our financial statements on our website, so that you can see, to the dollar, exactly how much money each program received.

For your holiday gifts this year, please consider donating to Vulnerable Children Society. We have three programs that need your help… Home tutoring and Ebola disease prevention in Liberia, afterschool tutoring at our Love and Hope Centre in Ethiopia, and retraining for teens who have worked in the sex trade in Ethiopia. Even stocking stuffer amounts are highly appreciated! and go along way to do good work in these countries.

Hope for Children in Ethiopia, Vulnerable Children Society

We won’t send you a picture of a goat, but if you donate and then send us an email, we will send you back a personalized card with a picture of the children you are actually helping, and information about the program. Your loved ones will love learning about the positive impact of your donation.

Many thanks! And warmest holiday wishes from all of us in Canada, Ethiopia, and Liberia.

Arnica Rowan, President
Vulnerable Children Society

Baby pictures!

Here in the Rowan household the only hotter topic than the Elf on the Shelf is the imminent coming of our Irish Wolfhound puppy.

I mean, this is BIG NEWS people! Worthy of classroom show and tell, discussion with the cashier at the store, and constant surveillance for new pictures. Speaking of which… The pictures you all have been waiting for…


(Collective AWWWW….)

One of those little tikes is going to be our pup! There were four girls and ofour boys born in the litter to mom Glory and dad Torrin.


Right now, they are living in Northern Alberta, growing under the watchful eyes of their mom and the breeder. They are 4 1/2 weeks old! But will be ten weeks when we arrive to pick out our little guy at the end of January. There are two breeders ahead of us, so we will get the third pick of the four boys.

A few more pictures of the parents, so you can imagine what they may look like, grown… They are lovely, aren’t they?




My mom and I have a little road trip planned for that last week in January. We will zip over and spend a night in Calgary, go up to pick up the pup, spend another night in Calgary, and then come home. I think I’ll take Laughlin with us, to get him used to the puppy right away.

The pup will be bigger than Laughlin, though, even at that age. Likely he will be about 30 lbs (Laughlin is about 18lb.) so he’ll be slightly lighter than Maggie, but a tad taller.

Any, stay tuned for more pictures as they grow. Such cutesters!!

A new baby is coming the end of January!

We are adding to our family again…. Although not in the way you might think.

As our friends, family, and loyal readers know, we’ve been in the adoption process for four years now. Four years, four countries, a lot of emotional ups and downs, and still, no babies for me to snuggle. (I still snuggle the eight year olds, but they are far from babies now.)

I have a lot of love in my heart, and every couple of years, I have this overwhelming urge to have a new baby, of the human or non-human kind. My biological clock? Who knows… But every couple of years, it comes knocking.

My first baby was Hamish, who I will always cherish as my best friend and best dog ever. Really, Hamish was my first baby… He went everywhere with me, and my life centred around him. When he was two, I wanted a friend for him, and along came our cocker spaniel Maggie. Honestly, I would have had a human babe by then, but I was going through a mucky divorce, so that was out of the questions. A couple of years later came the cats, Vega and Haatim, in two batches, and then, after Hamish passed, our little cairn terrier Laughlin. I loved having puppies and kitties to snuggle, and to watch over. There is just this mothering instinct in me.

And then my human babies… Sugar and Spice. I love those little girls! My best babes of all, even if we got them when they were three. But now they are on the edge of puberty, and no longer toddlers-in-arms.

I need another baby, people. And this adoption thing is not panning out any time soon.

So, I am happy to announce, that I am getting a PUPPY!

And not just any puppy. Ever since I was in my early twenties, I’ve wanted an Irish Wolfhound.


If this breed isn’t ringing a bell for you, they are the tallest dog breed, and are shaped like an oversized, very scruffy greyhound.


Ok, so let’s answer some questions.
Yes, I know they are huge.


Yes, I know that they have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds (average 8 years old.)

What you may not know is that they are called the “gentle giant” breed. I’ve always wanted an Irish Wolfhound,a new let me tell you why…


They are amazingly gentle and great with kids. They’re quiet, intelligent personalities are legendary. Even though they do need to roam about and have a good run, Irish Wolfhounds are actually are lower energy dogs, and love more lounging on their bed or by the hearth. They are easily trainable (not like my darling cairn terrier) and are rarely aggressive with other dogs. You rarely have to bathe them and a combing is all they need for grooming. And, they are huge, and scruffy, and have lovely beards. Every dog should have a beard, don’t you think? Laughlin has a beard, and Maggie does too, when she hasn’t been to the groomers lately… :-)

I’ve sent a deposit into a breeder for a puppy in Alberta… The pups were born November 13th, and they are so so cute! Like oversized black and brindle hamsters, squawking and wrestling about. If she accepts my deposit and all goes well, I’ll go and pick the pup up at the end of January.

So excited!!

Africa Sleeps’ Sugarplum Faerie Lotions, Bodywash and Lip Balms

It’s back! Our Africa Sleeps fabulous holiday Sugarplum Faerie Sparkling Lotion. And the best news? She came with friends….

Check out the delightful sugar cookie-scented collection, with label art by the fabulous Katie at Mossy Rock Designs! And yes, that is my darling little Spice acting out the Sugarplum role.


It’s the perfect gift for all the little ballerinas in your life…

Thanks for supporting our family business!

Africa Sleeps
Organic, Natural Hair and Bodycare for Children of African Heritage


Wine Wednesdays: Lusitano Estate Pinot Noir

It’s been so long since I’ve written a Wine Wednesday post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drinking wine!


Tonight we were eating smoked pork hock cassoulet and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, perfect French paysan comfort food for the perfect Pinot Noir. I have now found a new favorite Pinot Noir from the Okanogan Valley… And surprise surprise, it comes from just across the street from my favourite, sorry, previous Okanagan favourite Pinot Noir! ( I still love you, Noble Ridge!)

Lusitano Estate Winery: I visited these folks in the fall, on one of my trips back from the USA. It was a spontaneous drop in. The sweet Portuguese lady, Fernanda, who poured for me owns the winery with her husband. They have been producing quality juice for other wineries for many many years, and only recently, they decided to open their own little estate winery. They are still selling the majority of their grapes to others, she told me… I wonder who is buying it?


On the nose, his beautiful Pinot Noir smells like a robust dessert. With chocolate, sultana raisins, ripe raspberries, baking spices, good undertones of vanilla, and hints of herbs and that essential element of cedar, it’s feast for the nostrils. The wine in the glass is a slightly browned ruby, even though it is only a 2013. Did this wind sneak into exposure somehow?

On the tongue, it was incredibly smooth tannins. I mean, incredibly. They are there and support the structure of the wine, but they are as soft as suede. Jason thinks it lacks acidity, but it’s simply so well integrated but you don’t notice it. I would say, medium plus acid. If I was to choose a style, I would suggest this is more of a Burgundian style, but it also has a lot of berry in the nose. On the palette, you get more of that chocolate, as well as bing cherries and that toasted vanilla from oak.


Ok… So here’s the kicker. This gorgeous Pinot Noir is only $19. I kid you not. When I told Jason this, the miser exclaimed, “buy a case!” Well, we might have to stock up, before all the rest of you get there.


Thanks for a lovely visit, Fernanda…. I wish you and your husband all the best. And I will be visiting you annually for years to come!

PS: the rosé was also delicious. Hello… Same grapes, lighter pressing. A gorgeous off dry French rosé style.

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