I hope everybody had an excellent Canada Day! Ottawa is indeed the best place in the country to be for Canada Day – for one night of the year, the downtown core is magically transformed into an atmosphere more befitting to a livelier and friendlier place, say, somewhere in the heart of Latin America, or Hong Kong, where I hail from.
But my favourite time to be in the city is the month of May, when it feels like the city finally awakens from hibernation, shaking off the dust and dew that collected during the Winter and Spring. Starting with Jane’s Walk (free guided walks in the city featuring local flora and fauna, named after Jane Jacobs), followed by the Tulip Festival (a gift in perpetuity from the Dutch Royal Family), FestiBiere (a Gatineau festival celebrating artisan beers), Ottawa Race Weekend (biggest race of the year), and ending with the Great Glebe Garage Sale (giant-block-party-garage-sale) on the last Saturday of the month. That’s just naming the most established annual events and not counting the concerts, one-off craft shows, flower and plant sales… etc.
It’s almost like the city is trying to woo its citizens back into its embrace after each deep freeze. And it works.
In preparation for my move in June, I set off the morning of the Great Glebe Garage Sale bright-eyed and in love with the city. I was looking for inspiration on organizing spices and grains in a visually appealing but also practical way. In a word, I was building a pantry!
During the walk to the Glebe, which is a stately and affluent yet down-to-earth neighbourhood immediately south of Centretown, my co-conspirator and I mentally did an inventory of the kitchen. We asked ourselves, what kind of grains, spices, and condiments do we buy in bulk, and how did we want to store it? We quickly decided that clear containers (glass or good quality plastic) was the way to go – so we could easily see how much was left and if we had gained uninvited friends. We also decided that we needed large ones for rice, flour, quinoa, and couscous – our staple starchy grains – a few medium sized ones for things like sugar and barley, and many small ones for spices that we purchase in bulk.
For a total of $4 and a mere hour and a half covering maybe a kilometer, we ended our hunt with our sacs full and arms heavy. Compare that to a trip to Ikea (with a rental car) where a glass container with lid costs between $4 and $8 each! We laughed all the way home.
But before we got home, we passed by this little gem, which I would like to share with you in the Ottawa series as Ottawa Thing #2.