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The Christmas Congregation Festival of Trees Edmonton 2017

The Christmas Congregation Festival of Trees Edmonton 2017

I bet you came here thinking you were going to read about a gingerbread house or church in this case.

This post is about that and so much more.

It is about words and music, passion, loss and grief.

It is about firsts and creativity.

Personal goals.

A group of music lovers that have become to feel like family.

And charity.

That is everything that this years gingerbread build represents.

This was the first time I have participated in the Festival of Trees in Edmonton. Over the years I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of both the Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie and Barrhead. I have always wanted to be a part of the Festival in Edmonton and this year everything came together.

Nutmeg Disrupted At the Festival of Trees in Edmonton

I nailed down a design in late September and got to work on completing the blueprints. I started to bake pieces for the church early in October, between working full time and a road trip planned for mid October to Vancouver to catch a rock and roll show I wanted to get an early start. I knew that I would have a better time in Vancouver if I was not worrying about the build, feeling confident that I had a good start on it back at home.

The hardest part for me of any gingerbread project is picking the perfect name. It captures the essence of the project and hopefully is a fit for  what I am trying to create.  As I was planning the design I decided that I would have a minister standing outside of the church to welcome his parishioners and was tossing names around. Michael, Stephen, Douglas….nothing felt right. Putting it on the back burner I knew it would come to me, the deadline for turning in my project idea was approaching quickly, due the same day I was leaving for Vancouver. A few days before leaving on my road trip it all fell into place. With the trip heavy in my thoughts and needing to get my paperwork turned into the foundation I began brainstorming names at work. I whispered the name Father John and in that moment it came to me.

Father Gregory standing outside of the Christmas Congregation gingerbread church on Nutmeg Disrupted for the Festival of Trees in Edmonton in 2017

Pleased that I had nailed down the name and theme for the build I left for Vancouver ready for a few days of rock and roll and relaxation. This was the second time I have travelled to Vancouver to catch The Afghan Whigs. People have said,  “you’re going all the way to Vancouver for a concert, that’s pretty dedicated.” Indeed. Music is my fuel, my therapy, my everything. It is what has gotten me through the hardest days of my journey. Some people rely on friendships or family, others drugs and alcohol, sometimes food or extreme exercise to comfort them in the darkest moments of their lives. For me it is music that gets me through. It always has. I celebrate every moment with music. It is through the words and music that I search for acceptance or deal with defeat and despair, find resilience or hope, joy. I am able to explore my deepest darkest heartbreak and come out stronger,  better because of words that resonate so deeply that somehow, over time, they heal. There are only a few bands that I can relate with on such a deeply profound level. The Afghan Whigs are THAT band for me. In those dark broken moments in my life their music and Greg’s words helped me to find hope and move forward.

Dave Rosser

The Afghan Whigs know about dark moments and pushing forward. Their strength in 2017 was something to admire. They lost an amazing friend, musician and fellow bandmate during the summer. When I heard about Dave Rossers cancer it took my breath away. I couldn’t believe it. 2 men I admired now were stricken with cancer, both terminal. How is that even possible. As fans watched the Whigs tour Greg spoke of Dave at every show, and in some of those moments he was indeed there with them. The show that struck me the most was at the PukkelPop Festival. It was one of those chills passing over your body kind of moments when Greg spoke about Dave. Even though they were working through their heartbreaking loss, down one member of their team, they sounded amazing and my excitement for the Vancouver show was simmering beneath the surface.

Driving through the Icefields Parkway on Nutmeg Disrupted

The drive to Vancouver was amazing & exhausting. There is no more beautiful drive in Canada then travelling over the Rocky Mountains through the Icefields Parkway. 15 hours after we left we arrived at the AirBnb, I was grateful to be in the city ready to explore and discover.

Arrived in Vancouver for The Afghan Whigs show at The Rickshaw Theatre on Nutmeg Disrupted

It was Sunday evening, with the show being on Tuesday I had an entire day to be a tourist! That first day every free minute was filled, first we went down to the waterfront, took a drive out to Burnaby to do some exploring and ended up having some amazing seafood on Granville Island.

Visiting Granville Market on Nutmeg Disrupted

Tuesday we kept closer to the main part of the city exploring the Stanley Park then made our way through the downtown area.

Visiting Stanley Park

exploring downtown Vancouver

Deciding to check out the area around the venue to see the best place to park I spotted Rick Nelson and Jon Skibic crossing the busy street in front of us. With a quick drive around the block we spotted the tour bus, as if I wasn’t excited enough, months of planning for this day and it was finally here. The show was going to be spectacular!  And my god it was! I can still remember how I felt that night. The band, the venue, the music, the crowd.

At The Rickshaw Theatre to see The Afghan Whigs in Vancouver on NUtmeg Disrupted

The high you carry away from a live show can last for days.  Feeling every beat of the music encompass you is powerful. Electric. There is absolutely nothing like it. And you feel that electricity for days afterwards.  Reliving the show over in your thoughts.  Falling into bed that night I was so grateful that I could make the trip out, life is short and we have to grab as many of those moments we can.

Patrick Keelers Drum at The Afghan Whigs show at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver

Greg Dulli and The Afghan Whigs at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver on Nutmeg Disrupted

The set list from The Afghan Whigs InSpades show at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver on Nutmeg Disrupted

Morning came swiftly, it was going to be a long drive back home through the mountains and we wanted an early start. I stretched and grabbed my phone, seeing a message from a friend in New Brunswick. It took a second for my mind to grasp the words I was reading.

He simply said….

I hate to wake you up to the news….he’s gone Red 🙁     I wish I could hug you.

In that moment I went from the highest high to the lowest of lows.

Gord Downie

He was Gord Downie and the night before while I was rocking out with my beloved Afghan Whigs my hero lost his battle with brain cancer. Gord was dead. He was gone.

Coming home over the Rocky Mountains on Nutmeg Disrupted

The trip home is mostly a blur. Every gas station or restaurant we stopped in had the news on, it was all about Gord. Every radio station was playing the Hip and only the Hip. It was impossible to escape and more impossible to hold it together, nothing had prepared me for this day and I was beyond devastated. And hearing the music only compounded my pain. I sobbed openly, my heart shattered. As we traveled home heartbroken I played the Whigs. Searching for peace. Perhaps trying to outrun my grief. Broken, exhausted. Thankful for the time we had with Gord. The powerful energy of the night before fueled my emotional trip home.

Mourning one with the music of the other.

Driving into the Rockie Mountains on Nutmeg Disrupted

I took my grief and I channeled it into my gingerbread. Hard work has a way of being a distraction from the pain, it has always worked like that for me. When my son died it was hard work that got me through and this was no different. And as the days rolled into weeks my heart began to heal and a church was built.

The Christmas Congregation Gingerbead Church on Nutmeg Disrupted

I am thrilled at how The Christmas Congregation turned out and I am super proud of my work. It was a fairly easy and clean design. As I worked on some of the finer details of my minister and his special guest I shared images with a small yet special group of music lovers who love and appreciate the Whigs as much as I do. To some this is just a gingerbread church, to others it is so much more.

Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs a part of the Christmas Congregation gingerbread church on Nutmeg Disrupted

Dave Rosser getting ready for the Christmas Congregation on Nutmeg Disrupted

So to my fellow CGs thank you!

Early evening outside The Christmas COngregation gingerbread church on Nutmeg Disrutped

Outside The Christmas Congregation Gingerbread Church on Nutmeg Disrupted

Nutmeg Disrupted with the Christmas Congregation Gingerbread Church at the Festival of Trees in Edmonton

Nutmeg Disrupted with the Christmas Congregation Gingerbread Church at the Festival of Trees in Edmonton

As it was my first time attending the Festival of Trees in Edmonton I really didn’t know what to expect. Competiting in a Festival of this size I was nervous and excited to see the talents of those who I was sharing the space with. All monies raised at this years Festival go to the Emergency Department at the University Hospital in Edmonton.

The Christmas Congregation Gingerbread Church takes the GOLD at the Festival of Trees in Edmonton in 2017

The Christmas Congregation did well at the Festival and Father Gregory and Mr. Rosser walked away with the GOLD! Each Festival has its own set of rules and in Edmonton they do not share the sales prices of the items sold at the auction. I admit, I am not a fan of the rule. I invest 100’s of hours into each of my gingerbread builds and I strive to raise the bar every year. My only hope is the someone who attended the Gala happened to catch the sale price for the Christmas Congregation and reaches out to me. Or the other possibility is if anyone has seen the Christmas Congregation on display in Edmonton through the Christmas season contacts me to let me know where the church was spotted so I could inquire with the new owner about their generous donation.

If you have read this far, I thank you for following along on my gingerbread journey. All those years ago I never expected that gingerbread would become such as passion of mine and that I could take that passion and raise thousands of dollars for charity. What started as a simple build this year turned into so much more. What began as a fun idea for a build turned into a project that injected my love and grief for 2 men gone from this world far to early. Who music has been my saviour, my confidante, at times my only friend.  I am so glad I could share this extra special build with you all.









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Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Gardeners for 2017

Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Gardeners for 2017

December is upon us once again and it is time to start thinking about those on our Christmas lists! This list is not in any particular order and are all items I have used or I would love to have! If there is something you think I need to add to the list I want to hear from you!

The Top 10 Christmas Gifts for the gardener on your list on Nutmeg Disrupted


To kick off my new 2018 garden series Grow Your Own Food we will start with a fantastic Top 1o list of gifts that won’t break the bank for the gardener in your life. If you are the gardener in your family these are some great ideas you should have on your Christmas list.


Bee Houses

A Bee House is on the top 10 list for Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted


Perfect for the backyard to attract and house solitary bees that work tirelessly to pollinate. Solitary bees do not produce honey, live in colonies or have a queen, their main job is to pollinate the plants all around us from fruits and vegetables to the crops grown by farmers. Just one solitary bees activity is equivalent of up to 120 worker honeybees in the pollination it provides. Now that is a powerhouse pollinator that you want to attract to your yard!  A  Bee House is simply an artificial nesting structure that mason bees, and other solitary bees, can use to lay their eggs.


Gazing Balls

Gazing Balls are on the top 10 list of Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

Gazing balls have a very long history and have been around since the 13th century first being made by Italian artisans using blown glass. Kings first displayed them in their gardens believing they held magical powers and they were thought to have brought prosperity and good luck to the owner. Over time homeowners would place the  globe near the front entrances to ward off bad things like disease, evil spirits and even ghosts. It was thought to keep witches away when placed near the door to the home, thinking witches would see their own reflection and thus be scared away. I may be a bit late to the gazing ball party and would love one of these as an addition to my yard!


Woodstock Chimes

Wood Stock Chimes are on the top 10 list of CHristmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted


These are the most amazing windchimes I have ever heard and I cherish the set I was gifted. They truly are musical. (taken from their website- In 1979, musician and instrument designer Garry Kvistad founded Woodstock Percussion with a single great idea – to make the world’s best sounding windchime. He’s been creating his world-famous, musically-tuned Woodstock Chimes ever since. Today his company offers a unique variety of high-quality, affordable, musical gifts from around the world that inspire, entertain and bring pleasure to people of all ages.) Garry is behind the design, development and tuning of all Woodstock Chimes.


Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News is on the top 10 list for Christmas gifts for the gardener in you life on Nutmeg Disrupted


Mother Earth News is the definitive gardening magazine that  provides wide-ranging, expert editorial coverage of organic foods, country living, green transportation, renewable energy, natural health and green building. Every issues is jam packed with topics that inspire, teach and cultivate the passion to live well! A must have subscription for anyone who loves to garden.


Berry Scoop

Berry Scoops are on the top 10 list of Christmas gits for gardeners on Nutmeg Disruped



If you have done any blueberry or saskatoon picking it can be an enjoyable but time consuming and tedious activity.  There is a better way! Let me introduce the berry scoop! It makes it easy to pick large amount of berries much quicker then hand picking individual berries. A must have for any berry enthusiast.


Mushroom Growing Kit

Mushroom kits are in the top 10 list of Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted



These kits are absolutely fantastic! In as quickly as 10 days you can grow and harvest a variety of fresh mushrooms right in the comfort of your own kitchen.  They are very easy to care for and it is quite amazing to watch your crop of mushrooms come in! These easy to grow mushroom kits are a must have for any mushroom lover.

Pruning shears

pruning shears are on the top 10 list of Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted


There is something to be said for a high quality set of pruning shears. These are a must have for any gardener! They make cutting a breeze from trimming branches on trees and shrubs to chopping up amendments for the compost pile or any task the requires cutting. A good set of sharp shears make the job quick and super easy.



Terrariums are on the top 10 list of Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted


Terrariums are a fantastic gift! Gardening under glass is  great way to bring nature indoors, The gardener in your life will be able to create an amazing zen garden that can be enjoyed year round for many years to come.


A Gardeners Tool Seat

The Gardeners Tool Seat in on the top 10 list of CHristmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted



These are small portable fold up seats that also house all of your hand held tools, row markers or anything you make use of out in the garden. It helps reduce strain on knees and hips by being able to sit low to the ground for a more comfortable gardening experience.


Hori Hori Knife

The Hori Hori Knife is on the top 10 list of Christmas Gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

A Hori-Hori knife, sometimes referred to as a “soil knife” or a “weeding knife”, is a heavy serrated multi-purpose steel blade for gardening jobs such as digging or cutting. The blade is sharp on both sides and comes to a semi-sharp point at the end. This one came highly recommended by the most amazing gardener I know. He has had his for 10 years and said it is the best gardening tool he owns.

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a bountiful and prosperous New Year! Be sure to stop back in and follow along with my Grow Your Own Food series throughout 2018. If you have ever wanted to grow your own food but were unsure where to start I will guide you through the entire process from learning about your growing area, what seeds to select and will walk with you from Spring through the harvest in Fall and right up to prepping your yard and garden for 2019.

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Gingerbread Whoopie Pies

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies

Gingerbread, a flavour close to my heart. If you look up at the top of the page you will see a section titled Gingerbread Houses, after you’re done here jump over and take a look! There you will find the collection of my gingerbread builds that have raised $1000’s of dollars for charity. Thanks for checking them out, I cherish the fact that with sugar and flour I can make such substantial donations during the Christmas season.

Gingerbread Whoopie Pie From Nutmeg Disrupted

Now about these Gingerbread Whoopie Pies. They looks amazing yes?! I thought so too. I was inspired from all the Whoopie Pies showing up in my Instagram stream a couple of weeks ago from some of the amazing Canadian food bloggers I follow. They were served during a coffee break on the final day of #FBC2016 in Toronto. Due to business obligations I could not attend the conference this year but eagerly watched my social media feeds to capture as much of the action as I could. For days after the conference I was distracted by thoughts of those whoopee pies and knew I had to recreate them at home.

They turned out amazing! Soft and tender, full of traditional gingerbread flavour and a creamy buttery filling, perfection really!

I invite you to give them a try and let me know what you think! Perfect for holiday cookie trays, the quintessential side to a steamy hot cup of coffee or a mug tea, definitely a must try!

As always, thanks for stopping by. Have a fantastic rest of your day!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Gingerbread Whoopie Pies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: baked
Serves: 14
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup Crosby molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup granulated
  • Buttercream Icing
  • 4 cups of confectioners/icing sugar
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons of milk
  • pinch of cup of butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients except the ¼ cup of granulated sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla; beat well.
  3. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.
  4. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a plate.
  5. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Roll the cookie balls in the granulated sugar and place on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 8 - 10 minutes.
  8. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove to a cooling rack.
  10. While they are cooling make the buttercream icing.
  11. Cream the butter in the bowl of a mixer.
  12. Add half the confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and the salt.
  13. Beat well to combine.
  14. Add the remaining confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla.
  15. Beat well until fluffy.
  16. If the icing appears dry add an additional table spoon of milk.
  17. Spread a generous amount of icing on one cookie and top it with a second creating a sandwich.


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Kutia – Celebrating Ukrainian Christmas

Kutia – Celebrating Ukrainian Christmas

Ukrainian Christmas is on January 7th, so Christmas Eve is fast approaching. And though I usually celebrate traditional Christmas I always make many of the traditional Ukrainian dishes to serve.

A traditional Ukrainian Christmas eve dinner consists of:


Sauerkraut and Peas


Stuffed fish and pickled herring



Cooked Beans

Beets with mushrooms


Stewed Fruits



Each dish is symbolic of the twelve apostiles.

The most beloved of all Ukrainian festivities is the Sviata Vechera (Holy Supper). Respected and honoured customers pervade the house on Christmas Eve.

The first dish in a traditional Ukrainian Christmas eve meal is Kutia, a preparation of cooked wheat, sweetened with honey and dressed with poppy seed.  Kutia symbolizes prosperity, peace and good health.


2 cups of wheat 3 quarts of water
1 cup of poppy seed
2/3 cup of sugar, I used brown this year
1/3 cup of honey , I used high grade maple syrup
Place the wheat and water in a slow cooker and simmer on high for 4 hours.
Wheat for the Kutia from Nutmeg Disrupted
Add the poppy seed and water honey mixture, stirring well.
Making Kutia for Ukrainian Christmas from Nutmeg Disrutped
 Turn the slow cooker to low, cover and allow to simmer for an hour.
Kutia for Ukrainian Christmas Eve form Nutmeg Disrupted
 Traditionally served warm but I enjoy it cold also.



















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Sugared Cranberry Bites

Sugared Cranberry Bites

We recently did an entertaining tasting event at work. Being a produce manager my selection to choose from is quite extensive. There are so many things I could have featured. At a meeting before the event someone had mentioned cranberry sauce. That started the gears in my mind turning. I thought it was a fantastic idea.

So many people automatically reach for the canned cranberry sauce on the shelves they have no idea how easy and flavorful homemade cranberry sauce can be.

The result were show stopping and fabulous! We had people coming back four and 5 times.

Sugared Cranberry Bites from Nutmeg Disrupted

By the end of the evening we sampled out over 400 bites and had received rave reviews from everyone.

Because of the volume of samples we presented costs and time available for prep were kept in mind. If I were to make these at an event I hosted in my home I would have chosen phyllo cups as the vehicle for the bites.

This is a three step appetizer so planning ahead is essential.

Sugared cranberries on Nutmeg Disrupted

Sugared Cranberries

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup of maple syrup or honey

1/2 cup of water
1 cup granulated sugar

Rinse cranberries and place in a large bowl. Heat syrup or honey and water in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour the syrup over cranberries when warm. You do not want the syrup too hot as you do not want the cranberries to pop. Allow to cool. Cover and let the berries soak in the refrigerator overnight.
Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in small batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet until dry, 1 to 2 hours. When dry the berries have a nice crunchy candy coating.

Cranberry Sauce
1 bag of cranberries – fresh or frozen
1 cup of mango melon juice
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of honey

Place all the ingredients in a small pan. Cook  on low – medium heat, stirring occasionally.

As they heat up, the cranberries will pop open. You know the sauce is done when 90 % the berries have split open.

Pour into a bowl to cool.

Surgered Cranberry bites on Nutmeg Disupted

 Sugared Cranberry Bites
crackers or phyllo cups

soft spreadable cream cheese
cranberry sauce
sugared cranberries
fresh mint for garnish

Spread the crackers with the cream cheese, add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce, and 4 or 5 sugared cranberries. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.



















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