Birdseed Ornaments

In winter, snow and ice can bury foods just when birds need the calories to keep warm through the cold. Your neighbourhood tweeters and chirpers will love these birdseed ornaments and your outdoor trees will look all dressed up for the holidays. This wildlife and eco-friendly recipe is adapted from The Spruce.

Spanish translation here.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Medium or large mixing bowl
  • 8 large or 12 medium cookie cutters or moulds – chunkier shapes work best
  • Nonstick saucepan
  • Skewer (any similar type of tool, so long as it is thick enough to create an effective hole. E.g. lollipop stick, ballpoint pen, plastic straw, screwdriver, awl, chopstick, or unsharpened pencil can work well)
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Wooden spoon or rubber scraper

Materials

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup flour (any type)
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup (regular or light)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (e.g. Knox)
  • 4 cups birdseed (choose seeds that most appeal to your backyard birds)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Wax paper or parchment paper

String, yarn, or twine, cut into 5- to 8-inch lengths (avoid fishing line, however, as it can be harmful to birds. After the ornaments are eaten, the leftover string can become nesting material for birds)

Instructions

  1. Grease your cookie cutter(s) to ensure the ornaments will release from the moulds easily.

2. Boil the Liquid Ingredients. Add the water and corn syrup to the nonstick saucepan and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the gelatin, stirring or whisking continually to dissolve the powder thoroughly. Once the gelatin has completely dissolved, remove the mixture from heat.

3. Add Flour. Transfer the syrup to your mixing bowl and add the flour. Stir the mixture until well blended; it will have a consistency similar to a brownie batter. There should be no large clumps. If it is too thick to stir easily, add additional hot water, one tablespoon at a time, until it is properly thinned. If the mixture is too thin, add flour one tablespoon at a time to reach the right consistency.

4. Add In Birdseed and thoroughly mix it with the flour batter. This will be a thick, stiff mixture, but it is important to blend it well otherwise the ornaments will not hold their shapes. You may want to grease a rubber spatula to help you mix.

5. Fill each cookie cutter to the brim with the birdseed mix. Press it into every corner of the mould as firmly as possible. The birdseed mixture can dry out quickly so you may want to cover the mixture in the bowl with plastic wrap while you fill each ornament and only fill only one cutter at a time. Grease your hands to prevent any sticking.

6. Use a skewer to create the holes for hanging each ornament. Push the skewer all the way through the mold. Your hole should be approximately 1 inch away from the ornament’s edge to ensure it won’t break. Wiggle the skewer slightly to be sure the hole is large enough for your string or twine and to compact the seed around the interior of the hole.

7. Let the Ornaments Dry overnight on a wire rack.

8. Remove the dry ornaments from the cookie cutters and thread the twine through the holes in each ornament and tie a tight knot, leaving a loop for hanging.

9. You’re Done!

This year we are inviting neighbours to join us in decorating the parklet in front of Gordon House with their crafted wildlife friendly decorations. Feel free to drop by anytime and add your creations to the trees in front of the building! All we ask is that you please respect others by wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance.

This resource on wildlife friendly winter decorations has been done in partnership with the Park People. Please check out their website and Facebook for more information on all of the cool things that they do.


Hanukkah 2020

Happy Hanukkah!

No matter how you spell it, Hanukkah or Chanukah, is an annual holiday known as the Festival of Lights which commemorates a miracle that occurred in Jerusalem.

In 165 BCE the Jewish people revolted against their oppressors, and rededicated a sacred temple to mark the occasion. According to the Talmud (the central text of Jewish theology), after the temple was cleaned, olive oil was needed to fuel the light of the menorah (candelabrum). Though there was only enough oil to burn for one day, the oil lasted eight full days. On Hanukkah, Jewish people celebrate what is considered to be a great miracle that occurred, and the religious freedom it represents.

When is Hanukkah?
On the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25 of Kislev, and continues for eight days in honor of the oil that lasted in the Holy Temple. The name “Hanukkah” means “dedication” in Hebrew. This year Hanukkah takes place from Sunset on December 10th, 2020 until Nightfall on December 18th, 2020

How is Hanukkah celebrated?
Unlike some other Jewish holidays where work is forbidden, there are no restrictions on doing work during Hanukkah. On each day, Jews light candles on a chanukiah (a nine-branched candelabrum called a menorah), starting with one candle and adding one more each day. The candle used to light the other candles is known as the shamash. Blessings over the candles are chanted and festive songs are sung, commemorating the occasion. Children (and adults) also play a game called dreidel, and it is customary to give Hanukkah gelt (money or chocolate coins) as small gifts.

What kinds of foods are eaten on Hanukkah?
During Hanukkah many Jewish people eat food that is deep fried, another tasty reminder of the miracle of the oil. A classic Hanukkah dish is crispy potato pancakes called latkes in Yiddish and levivot in Hebrew, often served with applesauce and sour cream. Another delicious Hanukkah treat is sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts), usually topped with powdered sugar. Sephardic Hanukkah donuts are called bunuelos, and are traditionally dipped in honey.

What is the proper greeting for Hanukkah?
To wish someone a Happy Hanukkah, say “Hanukkah Sameach!” (Happy Hanukkah) or simply “Chag Sameach!” (Happy Holiday), “Chag Urim Sameach!” (urim means “lights”).

West End Celebrations
This year Gordon Neighbourhood is celebrating Hanukkah virtually with West End Neighbours and the Jewish Seniors Alliance! Join us online for Chanukah music and candle lighting on Thursday, December 10th from 6:30pm to 7:30pm 

Registration is required to participate. Gordon Neighbourhood House has a limited quantity of gift bags with Chanukah candles and other holiday treats for those who register before December 7th. Email welcome@gordonhouse.org or call (604) 683-2554 to sign-up.

Gordon Neighbourhood House chef Amanda Bacaleinick has also prepared a special Hanukkah-inspired meal which is included in our weekly delivery to local seniors. 

Several West End restaurants and bakeries prepare traditional treats for Hanukkah. We have compiled a list of several businesses below. For more updates, contests, and promotions from local businesses, follow our friends at The West End Business Improvement Association (WEBIA) online. 

Breka Bakery, 821 Denman Street

Find an assortment of traditional Jewish treats at Breka Bakery, including loaves of challah (braided bread), kifeles or kuffles (crescent-shaped pastries wrapped around cream cheese fillings and dusted with cinnamon and sugar), and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts).

Ofra’s Kitchen, 1088 Denman Street

Ofra’s Kitchen is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant located in the West End. The restaurant specializes in authentic, healthy, middle eastern dishes with an Israeli flair. Their menu includes hummus plates, falafel, shakshuka. Ofra’s kitchen is inclusive and welcoming to all.


Diwali Lanterns

Diwali is the Festival of Lights that has been celebrated across India for hundreds of years. It takes place on November 14th and celebrations continue for five days. Lanterns, lights, and rangoli designs are used to decorate homes and businesses. Diwali is India’s biggest holiday of the year and symbolizes the spiritual inner light overcoming and protecting from darkness. These days Diwali is celebrated in many parts of the world.

The kids in our Out of School Care program had a lot of fun this week learning to craft these colourful lanterns and using them to decorate around the building at Gordon House.

We wanted to share with our community this YouTube video that provides an easy guide for creating your own Diwali lanterns at home using basic materials. This activity is perfect for anyone looking for a creative outlet while social distancing at home this weekend. Please send us pictures of the results!


Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program

At Gordon Neighbourhood House, we are currently wrapping up our Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program (FMNCP for the year. This is an initiative to provide local, fresh produce to community members and support local growers in BC. The BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM) collaborates with community organizations and is supported by the Province of BC & the Provincial Health Services Authority. Those who receive coupons are able to use it at any BCAFM member farmers’ markets that take part in FMNCP to purchase fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, nuts, dairy, fish, and herbs.

This year, Gordon Neighbourhood House was able to help support 53 West End residents, families and seniors with approximately $10,000 in coupons! We adapted to COVID-19 by pivoting coupon distribution through mail or staggered pick-ups. We also made sure to check in on our participants and sent online resources and program information throughout the season. We love that we are able to give our community access to and the ability to connect with our local food system. Especially during this difficult time, focusing on supporting smaller local businesses and growers is what empowers consumers and producers with healthy, nutritious food.

We wanted to share the impact that this program had on our community members with the following pictures and quotes from participants. Overall, we got amazing feedback and people were extremely grateful for this supportive initiative during a difficult and challenging year. 

“We have enjoyed getting all the organic delicious fruit and vegetables as well as eggs and fish.  My husband and I cook all of our meals and having all the produce from the market definitely kicks it up. We look forward to going to the market each week thanks to the coupon program.”   

“I am beyond grateful to have access to the Farmers Market Coupon’s for 2020. With the crazy year that we are experiencing, everything seems to be so much more expensive! These coupons certainly do help, I enjoy being able to purchase fresh B.C. fruit and veggies.”

“Thanks again, we have really loved the market and made the most of this year despite the restrictions. And thanks also so much for the bonus grocery store gift cards. That was extremely helpful to our low-income household during this challenging time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts 😊💚

We would like to share a warm thank you to everyone for their resilience and support, including our community and the BC Farmers Market Association.


Quick Pickling Recipe

This recipe is quick pickling, not fermentation! So, this recipe is less technical and will last about 2-3 weeks in the fridge. This recipe is great to use to increase the longevity of your veggies. It is also great for your gut health as it provides a source of probiotics. You can be creative with what you pickle, so you can use onions, jalapeños, cucumbers and more in place of the cabbage. These can be used in many versatile dishes to add a freshness to, including salads, tacos, bowls, and as a side dish.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • glass jar with a tight lid (ie. Mason jar, old jam jar)

If you have more cabbage, feel free to use it all and just use the ratio of cabbage to vinegar, making sure that the cabbage is fully covered once it’s in the jar.

Instructions:

  1. Thinly slice the cabbage using a knife carefully or a mandolin.
  2. In a mason jar, add all of the ingredients and cover with a lid then give it a shake. Make sure that all of the cabbage is completely covered with liquid, if it’s not then add more vinegar.
  3. Let it sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature.
  4. Refrigerate for 2-3 weeks.

Herb Oil Cubes Recipe

by Stephanie

Do you have leftover herbs in your house that are wilting? Or want to prevent the herbs from going bad? Make some quick and super easy herb oil cubes!

What you’ll need:

  • ice cube tray
  • fresh herbs
  • liquid oil (ie. olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, sunflower oil)

Instructions:

  1. Chop up all of your herbs (including stems) or leave in larger sprigs & stems, then fill the ice cube compartments 2/3 full with herbs.
  2. Top it with your oil to fully cover, then pop it into the freezer
  3. Now you have an herb oil that is ready to use whenever you want to cook, just put it onto the frying pan or pot!

Preventing Food Waste At Home

In Canada, almost 60% of our food that is produced every year gets wasted. Of that 60%, 40% of it comes from consumers. The food that gets wasted and ends up in landfills start to produce methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent that CO2. This is important to note as it is a huge contributor to climate change. A great way for us to prevent this from happening is to think of alternative ways of storing our food or being creative with food that is about to go bad. Not only will this help with the environmental impacts, it will help us save money so we are able to use every bit of produce that we buy. The most common type of food that is wasted is produce, this is something that we can address by prolonging their shelf life through proper storage or making it into tasty recipes! Visit our recipe archives to find recipes on herb oil cubes, quick pickling, and pesto. You can also find our recipe for homemade vegetable stock, which helps use safe and edible food scraps and all its flavour before it is fully composted.  

Storage

Leafy Greens: When you purchase any leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, lettuce, you’ll want to wrap the bunch fully in a moist tea towel or cloth. If you have a box of spinach, you can place a damp tea towel on top of the bed of spinach. This technique will help the leaves keep in its moisture so it doesn’t wilt as easily and last longer in your fridge.

Herbs: When you buy herbs, you can immediately put them in a jar or cup that is filled with 1-2 inches of water at the bottom, just like you would with flowers! This can also be done with spring onions, celery and asparagus. Remember to change the water every 1-3 days.


VOTE: General Election Candidate Q&A (James Marshall BC Greens)

Candidate: James Marshall

Party: BC Greens

Website(s): www.VoteJamesMarshall.ca

Social media: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Other Contact Information: james.marshall@bcgreens.ca

  1. Why should West End residents vote for you?

a) Over the past three years, the BC Greens have shown what they’re able to accomplish with a small caucus of only 3 MLAs. I believe that our policy ideas are the best out there, and we need more MLAs in office in order to make them a reality. I would be committed to doing the work to move BC forward, solve problems, and increase the wellbeing of British Columbians and our planet.

b) My extended bio can be found on my candidate website. My background is in software development, but I also spent the last several years writing and publishing a book on ecological political thought. I got into politics in 2015 out of frustration after Justin Trudeau abandoned his promises on electoral reform.

2. In a recent survey, Gordon Neighbourhood House members identified housing as their top concern. We applaud the recent acquisition of the Buchan Hotel and other properties in the West End for supportive housing with complimentary supports. Despite these recent openings, we still face a shortage of supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. Additionally, many millennials and seniors have marginal or fixed incomes that have not kept up with the rising cost of living. How are you committed to housing those in need, and preventing others from becoming homeless?

The BC Green housing platform can be found on our website. It has a few specific priorities, one of which is to close the gap on unaffordable rents by introducing a subsidy for low and middle income renters spending more than 30% of their income on rents. It also prioritizes stabilizing strata insurance rates, and encouraging more non-market forms of housing such as co-ops and land trusts. Primarily, it’s about treating housing as a home rather than just a vehicle for speculators to profit from.

3. The Opioid Crisis has now claimed more than 3,000 lives in BC at a rate of almost 5 people every day. As an organization, we believe that substance use disorder is a public health emergency and not a criminal justice issue. What are you committed to doing to prevent overdose deaths due to illicit drug toxicity, and what will you do to support neighbours struggling with substance use disorder?

In Vancouver, the Greens are running a couple of candidates with specific expertise on these issues. Scott Bernstein is the director of Policy for the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and is running as the candidate for Kingsway. He recently wrote an op-ed on these topics. Nazanin Moghadami is a clinical counselor specializing in trauma and addictions, and is running in Kensington. She also wrote a recent op-ed on mental health. As a candidate, I’ve been relying heavily on the expertise of these two amazing individuals in understanding the scope of what we need to do to address BC’s opioid and overdose crises.

The BC Green platform on the opioid crisis calls for a decriminalization of simple possession, a scale-up of safe supply, and enhanced funding for harm reduction services.

4. As an organization we are committed to supporting the leadership of Indigenous people, and implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What is your party doing to support Indigenous peoples, and centre Indigenous knowledge and voices in your provincial public policy?

The Greens were fully supportive of adopting UNDRIP in its entirety, and have been pushing for years for it’s adoption. Over the past three years the Green caucus in Victoria has been trying to center indigenous perspectives and to elevate the voices of BC’s indigenous people.

When the BC NDP proposed Bill-22, which would have allowed for involuntary detention of people who had overdosed on drugs, the Greens heard from First Nations groups that the bill wasn’t acceptibe in its current form. The Green caucus told the NDP that they couldn’t support the bill as it was, and asked for further consultations with First Nations groups. This work was halted when the NDP called this snap election instead.

Likewise, the Greens opposed the NDP’s Bill 17 because of concerns from First Nations groups that it would harm their ability to be energy self-sufficient.

Adam Olsen, the Green MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, is a member of Tsartlip First Nation. During the Wet’suwet’en standoff earlier this year, Adam traveled to northern BC to speak with the hereditary chiefs and to try to mediate the conflict. He has spoken often in the legislature about issues of indigenous sovereignty and rights.

5. What are your specific plans, including actions and timetables, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a substantial amount, and how will you fund and implement them?

The Greens were founded as a party that looked at all issues through an ecological lens, and it remains the focus of how we develop all of our policy and decisions. The Green plan calls for carbon neutrality in BC by 2045, with specific targets in 2025 and 2030 to make sure that governments aren’t just kicking the can down the road for a future administration to deal with.

The Greens have also called for an immediate end to oil and gas subsidies, including the massive multi-billion dollar handout that the BC NDP made to British Columbia’s fracking industry during their term.

6. Prior to COVID-19, Gordon Neighbourhood House operated the largest Food Hub on the downtown peninsula, which provided hundreds of neighbours with emergency food access. We recognize that food banks are a temporary solution, and that poverty is one of the main causes of food insecurity. What will you do to address poverty and inequality in our community?

Since the 1980s the BC Greens have been calling for an implementation of a Guaranteed Basic Income, that would provide everyone with enough income to meet their basic needs and to stay out of poverty. This idea is now starting to get picked up by other parties and the mainstream media, but it’s something that the Greens have been pushing for forty years.

7. What is your favorite memory or personal experience in the West End?

Probably the first time that the weather was nice enough for me to walk out my front door and over to Sunset Beach! We moved into our place in the West End a few years ago during the fall, so we had to wait six months before we could really enjoy the beauty and ease of living so close to the water. Being able to walk right out of my building and across the street to a cafe, grocery store, and every amenity that I could need is still something that makes me happy every time I do it. I love being able to live in a community that is dense and walkable, and doesn’t require me to have a vehicle.


VOTE: General Election Candidate Q&A (Jon Ellacott BC Liberals)

Candidate: Jon Ellacott

Party: BC Liberal Party

Website(s): https://www.bcliberals.com/team/jon-ellacott/

Social media: Twitter Facebook

Other Contact Information: jon.ellacott@bcliberals.com

  1. Why should West End residents vote for you?

West End residents should vote for me only if they tire of poor representation and ineffective governance. If the status quo satisfies you, your vote should go to Spencer as he is a good man and a competent representative. Fiscal conservatism and financial responsibility are my credo – I will always work tirelessly to put your hard earned money back into your pocketbook.

2. In a recent survey, Gordon Neighbourhood House members identified housing as their top concern. We applaud the recent acquisition of the Buchan Hotel and other properties in the West End for supportive housing with complimentary supports. Despite these recent openings, we still face a shortage of supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. Additionally, many millennials and seniors have marginal or fixed incomes that have not kept up with the rising cost of living. How are you committed to housing those in need, and preventing others from becoming homeless?

The crux of this issue is supply. With insufficient affordable housing supply, costs skyrocket due to the demand/supply relationship. As a professional construction manager, I have a very unique perspective when it comes to this issue. I personally believe we should be prioritizing modular, prefabricated construction methods, while eliminating red tape and unnecessary zoning and permitting regulations that stand in the way of developers delivering affordable housing units to market. The BC Liberals have committed to a variety of measures including using crown and public lands to build affordable housing for those in need.

3. The Opioid Crisis has now claimed more than 3,000 lives in BC at a rate of almost 5 people every day. As an organization, we believe that substance use disorder is a public health emergency and not a criminal justice issue. What are you committed to doing to prevent overdose deaths due to illicit drug toxicity, and what will you do to support neighbours struggling with substance use disorder?

We must always treat the causes of these problems, rather than the symptoms. There are underlying conditions with regards to the disease of drug addiction. We must ensure that we are providing support to youth that are exposed to abuse, as well as treating systemic mental health issues with the proper care and attention they deserve. There is no silver bullet to solve this problem; we must trust our social workers and medical experts and along with law enforcement and our first responders, assist them in mitigation and treatment.

4. As an organization we are committed to supporting the leadership of Indigenous people, and implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What is your party doing to support Indigenous peoples, and centre Indigenous knowledge and voices in your provincial public policy?

We must act boldly in working with our First Nations and federal government partners to create new opportunities for Indigenous peoples. The BC Liberals are committed to addressing issues of economic and social inequality faced by Indigenous peoples across the province.

5. What are your specific plans, including actions and timetables, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a substantial amount, and how will you fund and implement them?

We all know that the world is moving away from oil within our lifetimes. BC is well placed for this challenge with our strong clean and green hydro resources that provide all of our electricity. Our next challenge is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and buildings. We Support investments in renewable energy and next-generation clean energy and technology solutions, including working with the federal government and other provinces to leverage innovations and research in carbon capture.

6. Prior to COVID-19, Gordon Neighbourhood House operated the largest Food Hub on the downtown peninsula, which provided hundreds of neighbours with emergency food access. We recognize that food banks are a temporary solution, and that poverty is one of the main causes of food insecurity. What will you do to address poverty and inequality in our community?

We must work diligently to pull all less-fortunate British Columbians out of poverty by providing them with options and assistance to raise themselves up and stand proud in our society. There should be no stigma associated with poverty and inequality, as government at all levels has failed these individuals. I would work closely across all jurisdictions to try and make a meaningful impact with regards to this systemic issue.

7. What is your favorite memory or personal experience in the West End?

I particularly enjoyed the times I was able to work and volunteer with Jim Deva and Little Sister’s. I remember one time specifically, delivering a load of flooring into Jim’s townhouse and meeting his partner and his dog. A mutual friend and I sat in his living room chatting for hours. He is sorely missed as he was an incredible advocate and community leader.