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Transitioning the chapters of life - Chapter one - hey, what's with the bow tie? · 16 March 2019 by colin newell

I was sitting with my lovely wife Andrea at the Fernwood Coffee House today at noon. Between bites of a breakfast egg bagel and sips of black coffee (and her sampling her London Fog…) we reflected on the passage of time – and how we grow and change.

Cutting to the chase: “What’s with the bow tie?” She asked.

Right. Bow ties, in the 21st Century trigger a lot of different responses – and it all depends on where you are. I work at a University (in IT) and in my wandering between classroom buildings, my lab and the cafe, my attire is usually business casual; in the Springtime, shirt and slacks – in the summer, an Aloha shirt and blue jeans. I never, ever wear shorts. What I wear is dependant on the day of the week and the time of year. Many places, schools, Universities and colleges have a casual Friday. We have flipped that on its ear and do a formal Friday. Some of the staff wear ties, scarves, fancier head gear and yes, even bow ties. It is simply a timeless look that works anywhere at anytime. At least that is what I tell myself. Today, while popping into a bookstore for some items, I was asked by the staffer at the counter if I was “going to a birthday party…” “Uhm… no I hesitated then I realized that I was dressed as a magician that would be going to a birthday party! Impression, then response!

Truth be told, Victoria B.C. is not an urban centre with a high awareness of fashion. Go to an opera in Victoria and the listener next to you is just as likely to be dressed for a hike or a dig of the root vegetables in the back garden. And not that this offends me much – actually it offends me a bit. I truly believe that clothing is not about elitism (at least entirely…) and more about the expression of “I care about my appearance!”

And yes, I am an extrovert and I am a bit of an attention suck. For what other reason would I pay attention to fashion trends and make an effort to stand out… well, at least a bit. “But where does this begin?” she asked.

“Well!” I exclaimed as I took a lung full of air.

In 1979 while attending a series of courses at one of the local colleges, I noticed a 21 year old classmate who stood out from the rest. He was wearing a Harris Tweed sport coat. I’d seen elbow padded professors wearing these beat up old classics but I thought it was their exclusive reservation. It’s wasn’t and on this blue jean clad student, it worked. It got me thinking about how we make impressions based on the image that we present. My career choices would always put me in contact with the general public so I had to craft some kind of “package” – over time, this “look” would evolve into a fashion forward sense that changed with the times. My 1st suit for my first date near the Christmas of 1980 would be a cotton corduroy thing from a mall Mens store. It was a modest beginning. Interestingly, I did not buy a tie for this outfit and my date at the time reminded me of the necessity of achieving “balance”. There could be no balance with a three piece suit and no tie.

It was a beginning. The 1980’s offered a wealth of quirky choices for men while remaining somewhat centred in the fashion mainstream – and as it would turn out, the “stream” of fashion in Victoria, at the time, was little more than a rivulet. That would change, little by little, over time.

Flashing forward, I have been working at a University since the late 1980’s (now around 6 years away from retirement!) and that is a few items of clothing under the bridge. The biggest transition is yet to come. It’s thought that graduation, marriage, death, divorce and retirement are among the most stressful of transitions. One takes stock and wonders what it will be that they will be next. Reinvention. It’s a thing. It’s healthy, too a point I guess.

So. The bow tie. For me, it is an expression of, “Hey, it’s still me and I’m still here and I still care…”

When I stop caring… well, let’s not go there.


Colin Newell is an about town writer, food and coffee guy, member of the Canadian Media Guild… and always on the hunt for a great cup of joe and a sharp looking tie.

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West Coast living in the dairy free World - Wonderful waffles · 15 March 2019 by colin newell

dairy free waffle-pancake recipe

Perhaps more than life itself, I love breakfast. If I fail to start my day with lots of carbs and a bit of protein, I might as well stay in bed.

Welcome to a re-boot of my level best most popular blog post ever! The Waffle Special!

What do I eat for breakfast? The most important meal of the day!
A typical morning for me includes granola, fruit, yoghurt, multi-grain toast and water.

I know what you are thinking: No coffee and no juice. Nope. Never. If anything, I drink water for breakfast. Your body does not need a sugar slam first thing – so don’t drink juice!

But you’re the coffee guy Colin!
Coffee is a ritual that comes later – Almost always around 10AM.

Lately, I have been doing way more baking. Muffins. Cookies. Waffles. Why? To save money and enjoy life more!

I sous-chef for 100% of our home cooking, but I tend to nibble more at work.
So, in addition to making all of my own coffee and the coffee for the lads in the lab, I make all my own baked goods for my weekdays.

But back to breakfast: I love breakfast and we all know that breakfast tends to include dairy in some form or another. It is hard to find a work-around. But you can. Here is my dairy free waffle recipe. This is not purely vegan, but I suppose with a bit of work it could be.

Ingredients and instructions.

1 3/4 cup of all-purpose unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Egg yolks
1 3/4 cups premium quality Soy, Coconut or Almond milk
1/2 cup cooking oil, ideally canola oil
2 Egg whites

In a large mixing bowl (which will ultimately hold several days worth of waffle mix) stir together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a smaller mixing bowl beat egg yolks. Add Soy, almond or coconut milk, cinnamon and oil.

Add your wet to the flour mix all at once. Stir or fold til mixed but still slightly lumpy.

In yet-another-bowl whip egg white to form a stiff peak.

Gently fold egg whites into soya-flour-oil mixture leaving a few whisps of egg white visible.

Heat waffle iron letting waffle mix work for about 7 minutes.
Pour batter onto preheated iron. Do not open while the waffles are cooking! Timing will vary depending on your iron.

Serve with butter, maple syrup, fresh blueberries and hot, hot coffee!

Enjoy! This recipe updated March 2019


Colin is a Victoria resident and food lover that is constantly searching for the perfect cup of coffee. His blog has been on the air since 1995… but who’s counting?

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Subscribe to this naughty blog - fresh posts to your e-mail box! · 15 March 2019 by colin newell

Drink coffee like there is no tomorrow!

Just testing out a requested feature – want to get BLOG updates to your e-mail?

Subscribe here

It is that easy.

Instead of prowling this blog daily, just sign up for the updates.

Save time. Have fun. Why not?

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Instant pot living Mushroom Risotto · 5 February 2019 by colin newell

Authentic and brilliant Mushroom Risotto in less than 25 minutes from start to finish? Oh yes!

This recipe produces creamy, perfect risotto every time.

This is best served right out of your Instant Pot to experience the best silky texture of the risotto.

Reheating with a little extra water and pad of butter helps recreate the creamy original texture, for you leftover lovers.

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The Ten Best Cities for Coffee in the United States of America · 10 January 2019 by colin newell

Living on the West Coast of North America in an area dominated by coffee culture, I cannot imagine not having the best of cafe culture within an easy walking distance. And in my 25 years of writing about the bean scene in Canada, I have traveled from the West Coast to the East Coast, with many stops along the way, looking for the best of the best in the brewed cup of joe.

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Coffee in the 21st Century · 6 September 2018 by colin newell

1950's coffee trivia

For those who hearken to the 1950’s for a simpler time need only look at an assortment of sexist, mean-spirited ads that seemed to define a generation.

The reality of the time was – coffee quality had declined so much in the 40’s and 50’s that no amount of talent would have fixed it. In that era, as well, people were brewing coffee in percolators which is the single worse way to brew coffee – by running boiling water through the ground coffee and recycling the brewed coffee through the filter a half dozen times before it’s poured.

My mom and dad were still brewing percolated coffee into the late 1960’s until something of a renaissance started to develop – filter brewing coffee with hot water and a single pass – or manually pouring into a Melitta carafe.

For those of us, over 50 years of age, who have been drinking coffee for decades, these are simply the best of times for coffee culture and coffee lovers!

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