15 authors of influence

I was tagged by two people on facebook to complete this task: “Fifteen authors who’ve influenced you and will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes….”

I’m skipping the “tag 15 people” part, but if you want to create your own list, please go ahead!

I made my list on the bus on the way home from work. I contemplated waiting until I got home, but decided that making my list while standing in front of my bookcase might defeat the purpose of the assignment. And should I really include “that one author who wrote that article in that eros and theology book that was really amazing but whose name I can’t remember…”? I’m definitely going to check on her name when I get home.

So here’s my list, in no particular order, and of course there are more, but I think this makes a nice little group.

My 15 authors:
Madeline L’Engle
Ursula K. LeGuin
Robert Munsch
Catherine Keller
Jhumpa Lahiri
Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza
Mary Daly
Guy Gavriel Kay
William Shakespeare
Maya Angelou
Jane Vennard
Sue Monk Kidd
John Caputo

What authors have influenced you? Why? I could almost write a separate post for each person explaining the why part… Maybe that’s a task for a rainy day!


stuffed squash recipe – take 1

As with most of the things I cook, this “recipe” is pretty loosey-goosey with lots of ways you can adapt it to suit what you have when you want to make it. I’m calling this recipe “take 1” because this is just one set of ingredients you can use.

The basic pieces are:

  1. the squash (acorn, delicada, hubbard, all work well)
  2. some substantial protein to stuff with (sausage meat, ground meat, quinoa, beans)
  3. some grain to stuff with (rice, bread crumbs, quinoa, couscous, bulgur)
  4. some vegetables to stuff with (onion, garlic, celery, carrot, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, apples, green beans, peas, corn, anything really will work)
  5. some serious seasoning

Quantities are tricky because it depends on how big your squash is. Think smaller, and you’ll be more successful.

Here’s the basic method:

Step 1: pre-roast your squash. My tried-and-true method of roasting is as follows: 1. cut in half, 2. cover the bottom of a baking dish in water, 3. place squash flesh-down in baking dish, 4. cook at 450 F for 40 min or until tender.

Step 2: prepare your grain stuffing: if you’re adding rice or another grain that requires cooking, start that next. If you are using bread crumbs, make sure they are ready to go.

Step 3: sautee your vegetables. I cook veggies first because they can be safely set-aside to keep just warm while meat cooks (meat isn’t as safe sitting out after cooking). Start with onion (you have to have some onion) then add the rest in slowly, in order of length of cooking time. I usually chop-as-I-go to save time. Add lots of seasoning throughout cooking. Set aside veg when cooked.

Step 4: cook your meat/beans until cooked through. Season while cooking.

Step 5: combine all stuffing parts: grain, veg and protein and stir thoroughly.

Step 6: magically, hopefully, your squash will now be ready! remove it from the oven when done and scrape out some of the cooked squash flesh, leaving enough inside so that the squash half can maintain its shape. Combine this removed squash flesh with your stuffing.

Step 7: stuff squash halves and top (with cheese, parmesan, bread crumbs, butter). Return to oven at same temperature for 10 minutes.

Serve in the lovely colourful squash halves, guests I find are always excited to dig-into this dish, it’s as if everyone has their own personal mini-casserole!

For those who might think this generic method is insane, here’s as precise as I can get with what I made tonight:

1 Acorn Squash

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 rib celery, sliced fine

1 large carrot, chopped

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup multigrain breadcrumbs

1 cup ground turkey

2 tbsp Boquet Garnis (1.5 for veg, .5 for meat)

salt & pepper to taste

2 tbsp grated parmesan

*If you use meat, make sure it is cooked-through, and if you are using anything but sausage, season your meat liberally with salt, pepper and spices.

Follow method above for this particular set of ingredients.


I believe in the power of the retreat – of taking time away from your usual space, time, routine and life. I believe in it because I have seen it work wonders in my life and the lives of others. A simple weekend away from home, when taken deliberately and intentionally, can refresh and revitalize even the weariest soul. I wonder if the duration of a retreat’s efficacy is directly proportional to the time one spends in retreat? Hmm.

So, what is it that leads me to wax poetical about the power of retreat? Well, tomorrow I am leaving for a camping trip on Galiano island for 5 days. I plan on unplugging completely: no computer, no technology, just me, a close friend, some good food, and maybe a book or two. My hope is that this retreat will actually help bring me back into a good work-life balance space, and give me some new energy.

So consider this fair warning: I’ll be missing from the online world for a few days, and so don’t expect amazing turn-around time on responses from Shannon.

hello 16-year-old Shannon, everything is going to be alright…

If I could talk to my 16 year old self I would tell her to slow down, relax, and enjoy life more. I would also tell her "Don't worry, everything is going to be alright!"

I remember reading back in the journal I kept at 16 when I was writing my "spiritual autobiography" a few years back in theology school. First, you should know that when I re-read the journal for the project, my life was incredibly busy with school, work and church, and I barely had a moment to pause and reflect or relax. So when I came across the part in my journal from age 16 where I was complaining about being at Osoyoos lake with nothing to do except sit on the beach and read books, I wanted desperately to go back and tell 16-year-old Shannon to stop complaining and just enjoy herself!! I would love to have even a week of no priorities, no responsibilities, just some books and a beach.

I also know that when I was 16 I was eager for the world to change and eager to challenge things, ideas and people I disagreed with. I also could be rather melancholy, anxious to find romance, grow up, and get on with my life. That's why I'd tell myself to slow down and relax.

I think for most teenagers the world is a dramatic and constantly shifting place, where uncertainty is all around. Wouldn't it be great if we could all go back and look our 16-year-old self in the eye and say something like "Don't worry, everything is going to turn out alright, look at me, you're going to be fine."

Maybe we should all make an effort, then, to actually tell the 16 year olds we meet that everything is going to be ok and to just relax and enjoy life.

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in defense of my vice: iPhone

Sidebar intro: So I've taken on a new challenge: blog more! And with the help of www.plinky.com I actually feel like it will be possible to blog a lot more often than I was. So my goal is one blog a week. Can I do it? Of course! Let's see what happens!

iPhone 4.0

My number 1 vice has to be my iPhone. I didn't think of it as one until I was talking to one of my Aunties about how much I pay a month for my plan… she responded with something along the lines of "well, I guess that's your indulgence then, some people drink or smoke, you have your iPhone!"

Seriously though, I love my iPhone and can't wait to get the new iPhone 4. I started with it because I wanted to streamline my life, to be able to carry 1 device instead of 3 (palm pilot, cell phone, ipod). And it has done exactly that. I am way less likely to miss appointments, miss calls (I never used to hear my phone ring when I was in transit because I was always listening to my iPod!), and way more likely to connect with people.

I don't think I'd ever quit it at this point, it just makes my life so much smoother, and more social as well. Some might say that technology separates people, but I beg to differ. It's technology that brings me together with my friends and family, when I see via facebook that a friend has the day off and is looking for something to do, or when I discover a common passion for cooking between myself and a coworker via twitter, or when I read the blog of my sister who is biking the coastal highway between Vancouver, BC and Mexico.

I will defend my iPhone vice to the end! It's not such a bad habit really, things could be much worse I'm sure!

the last time I thanked someone

The last time I thanked someone out loud was this morning when I was thanking people who had helped with the church service. And actually, when I was doing that, I was thinking "I should really send some of these people thank-you notes, because that would be really nice." I think really sincere thank-you's are becoming less and less common, especially the written-down kind.

Just recently I sent a card in the mail to a friend who had responded with great kindness and caring when I'd needed help. The friend remarked at how wonderful it was to receive something in the mail that was addressed to him properly, that wasn't a bill or junk mail. How sad it is that "real mail" is so rare in our culture today! There's nothing I love more than opening my mailbox to find something personal and delightful inside!

This past month or so the most exciting pieces of mail I've received have been postcards from my sister who is biking the coastal highway, from Vancouver, here in BC, all the way to the Mexico border! Her colourful reminders of this epic journey she is on are so special and I know I will treasure them for years.

So all this talk of mail makes me think that my idea this morning of sending out thank-you notes is a good one worth pursuing, to put a little bit of happiness inside a deserving person's mailbox.

modern coleslaw remix

Super tangy and delicious!

The salad:

1 small bunch young carrots (the kind you don’t have to peel) chopped matchstick-size

2 stalks celery, chopped matchstick-size

1/2 small head of purple cabbage, sliced

1 handful peashoots

5 stalks green onion, slice thin the thick white part, then slice the green part into larger matchstick-size pieces

The dressing:

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tbsp olive oil

pinch of salt

pinch of freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp dried herbs (I used boquet garnis, but you could use whatever you’re in the mood for, or probably 2-3 tbsp of fresh herbs would work well.)

Mix all ingredients together well.

Serve alongside something else as a salad, or try it in a wrap or pita.