Category Archives: T-4s

Kicking Off the Party Season

My first Christmas party of the season happened on Saturday when I went for a festive lunch with the T-4s at Maxime’s Restaurant. My regular blog readers know the T in T-4s stands for teachers. I have been getting together regularly for over a decade with three former teaching colleagues who are also dear friends.

We started off our party with festive Christmas cocktails. They definitely put us into the holiday spirit. We hadn’t been together since the beginning of October so there was non-stop visiting over lunch as we caught up on one another’s lives.

Gift-giving was next. We exchanged so many lovely presents.

My friend Glenys had purchased these beautiful wooden angels for us. All proceeds from their sale went to a soup kitchen for needy folks.

Glenys also gave us calendars with artwork by famous female artists like Georgia O Keefe and Emily Carr.

My friend Esther had baked delicious peppernuts for us.

The peppernuts came with novel tea bags. Each tea bag had a tag with a quote by a famous novelist.

Debbie had purchased these soft and cosy cowls for us from a local craftsperson.

The cowls will be just perfect for keeping warm on cold Manitoba days.

Debbie also made these gorgeous cards for each of us.

I gave my friends a copy of Lynda Barry’s book Making Comics. I worked my way through Lynda’s lively and thought-provoking drawing course of self-discovery during the pandemic. I also gave my friends a set of drawing pencils. I hope they will enjoy experimenting with the assignments in the book as much as I did.

The T-4s have had many wonderful Christmas parties together in the past.

Celebrating Christmas in 2018 with the T-4s

We made Christmas centrepieces at our 2014 party.

Here we are at our first Christmas together as a special group in 2011 just after I had moved back to Canada from Hong Kong.

Our 2017 celebration at Oakridge Nursery

Here we are at our 2016 Christmas party.

The festive table at our 2019 Christmas get-together.

This was last year’s party!

2015 saw us at Maxime’s for Christmas just like we were this year. A lot has happened to all of us since then happy things, sad things, challenging things, exciting things and it has meant so much to have friends to share and process all those life moments with. How blessed I am to have friends like the T-4s.

Other posts……….

The T-4s Go Mennonite in Neubergthal

Artists in Action

I’m Getting Crafty for Christmas

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Lunch in a Train Car

Yesterday was a T-4 day. I get together with three former teaching colleagues (hence the T-4s) on a regular basis and yesterday we chose to have lunch together in an old train car. The Resto Gare in St. Boniface provided a lovely setting for our visit.

The St. Boniface train station in 1913

The building that houses the Resto Gare restaurant was once a train station. It was built in 1913.

This photo in the restaurant shows folks at the train station as they are being evacuated from the city during the 1950 flood.

In 1983 the building became a restaurant called La Vieille Gare and in 2008 the name was changed to Resto Gare. Yesterday we ate lunch in the observation train car that dates to 1914. You can see it on the left attached to the station.

Enjoying lunch in the train observation car with my friends

The cuisine at Resto Gare is definitely French and various members of our party had French onion soup, poutine, tourtiere, and a fruits de mer crepe filled with delicious seafood.

Although we were very full after our fabulous meals we ordered a piece of chocolate cake to share since one of us was celebrating a milestone birthday. Our friend Debbie who works at a craft store had fashioned these lovely little houses for each of us filled with sweet treats.

The more than a century-old restaurant and train car was a delightful place to visit with friends and catch up on our lives. The considerate staff let us stay till the waiters arrived to set up for the supper hour.

I think we’ll be back!

Other posts………….

Making Memories

More Than A Cake- It’s a Memory

The T-4’s Go Mennonite in Neuberghthal


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First Christmas Party

My first Christmas party for the year was on Saturday when the T-4s got together. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know the T-4s are a group of four fast friends who were all teachers in the same school at one point. We’ve been getting together for over a decade now and although our socializing used to happen once a month the pandemic has made that a little more challenging.

I hosted this year’s Christmas event and knowing I would be doing that inspired me to decorate my house and get a tree just a little bit earlier than I might have otherwise.

We started off with soup, sandwiches, and potato salad from King and Bannatyne a wonderful deli near our home. Then after several hours of visiting it was time to open our gifts.

My friend Esther had hand-painted our cards herself and had picked personalized chocolate selections for each of us from Decadence Chocolates. I can hardly wait to try the exotic flavors like egg nog, candy cane crush, and strawberry balsamic.

Esther’s card is so beautiful I have framed it so it can become part of my permanent Christmas collection.

My friend Glenys gave each of us some Christmas bath salts from Australia and these soft snuggly blankets. I slept in mine last night. Its extra weight and warmth helped me have a great rest.

Glenys’ gift came in the beautiful Christmas bags Debbie and I are holding. I’m looking forward to using mine during the holiday season.

What did my friend Debbie have for us in these beautifully wrapped boxes?

Lovely wool wraps or sweaters that are sure to dress up any outfit. I plan to wear mine to work today.

I’d had special mugs made for each of us.

The mugs featured images of all four of us and a message about friendship. I also gave my friends one of the special Coal and Canary candles Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library are selling for Christmas as a fundraiser.

After enjoying a luscious dessert Esther had brought we realized five hours had quickly passed and it was time for people to head home.

Our very first Christmas party in 2011

I’ve enjoyed more than a decade of Christmas parties with the T-4’s now. I look forward to spending many more with these dear friends of mine.

Other posts………

Gifts or No Gifts?

A Christmas Friendship Wreath

I’m Getting Crafty For Christmas

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T-4 Reunion

Lunch at the Prairie’s Edge

Many of my readers ask me about the T-4s, the group of four friends I belong to that gets together regularly for visiting, fun and support. The pandemic put a stop to our monthly meetings but in July we were able to see each other again after not being together in person since last September when the weather still allowed for outdoor visits that were safe.

September 2020 when we were last able to meet

At that time we celebrated my fall birthday and that of my friend Esther.

Now when we met we celebrated the spring birthdays of our other two members Glenys and Debbie on the outdoor patio at Prairie’s Edge in Kildonan Park.

It was so great to be together again. We had been told there was a two-hour limit on our table reservation but the understanding staff let us more than double that allotted time. I think they are witnesses to many friend reunions these days, people enjoying each others’ company after months of isolation and separation.

In recognition of our opportunity to be together again after such a long time, I had made little personalized memory photo albums for each of us with dozens of pictures of our past adventures.

I received a beautiful necklace as a gift in recognition of my first novel being published.

We already have an August get-together on our calendars.

Of course, during our time of physical separation, we have kept in touch via e-mail and texts, but that’s just not the same.

It was great for the T-4s to be together in person again.

Other posts………

Artists in Action

Getting Into Art

Should the T-4s Get Tattoos or Go SkyDiving?

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Making Memories

It is still almost a month until my birthday, but my friends decided we would celebrate this past Saturday when we could still safely meet outdoors. And what a beautiful day we had! We were also celebrating my friend Esther’s birthday which is actually this week.
My friend Glenys hosted us in her gorgeous backyard. It the loveliest of places lined with trees filled with songbirds and there’s a pond that has soothing running water. You can choose to relax in any of the multiple arrangements of comfy sitting areas and it was easy to social distance and still have an intimate conversation.

My friends had bought me such thoughtful presents. Esther gave me a beautiful pen. She said she wanted me to use it to sign copies of my novel when it is published this coming spring. I am turning 67 so my friend Debbie had given me an embroidered bag with seven individually wrapped gifts inside- all things from the Steinbach area where the members of our friend group taught together at Elmdale School at one time. There were lots of food items from local establishments, a copy of The Carillon the local paper I work for as a columnist and a package of chocolate chip cookies Debbie had baked herself. My friend Glenys had prepared a large bag filled with fall delights for both birthday girls.  I received a tasteful autumn centrepiece for my table, some pumpkin cookies from a local bakery and a bag of flavoured coffee. 

There was a beautiful cake decorated with fall leaves. Don’t you just love the way the tree on the yard is reflected in the table glass? The cake was an Earl Grey lemon flavour.  Delightful!

My group of friends and I call ourselves the T-4s and when I don’t write about us for a while I get queries from my blog readers to do another story about one of our get-togethers.  Last winter we couldn’t meet for a long time because of pandemic restrictions and that may happen again this coming winter.  But if it does we will have a lovely September day of visiting and celebrating to remember until we are able to meet again. 

Other posts about the T-4s


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More Than A Cake- It’s a Memory

glenys and her cakeWe celebrated my friend Glenys’ birthday on Tuesday in the gazebo in her backyard.  My friend Debbie had purchased a cake from Jeanne’s Bakery for the occasion.  Glenys told us cakes from Jeanne’s Bakery had been a tradition for birthdays in her family since she was a child. 

Turns out Glenys’ family isn’t the only one for whom Jeanne’s cakes were a tradition as I discovered when I listened to a podcast about the bakery.  Jeanne’s cakes are iconic to Winnipeggers and there are hundreds of families who wouldn’t think of celebrating a special occasion without one of Jeanne’s cakes.

The bakery was founded by Flemish immigrants Achille and Jeanne Van Landeghem in 1938. It remained in their family for 80 years till the Van Landeghem’s grandson Donald sold the bakery to Jerry Penner in 2003 after Donald’s brother and business partner Alan died of a heart attack. 

jeanne's cakeWhat Jerry realized after he bought Jeanne’s Bakery was that he hadn’t only bought a bakery he had bought a part of Winnipeg history.  He said it really struck home when a woman came into the bakery needing a cake for her mother’s funeral.  She had flown all the way from Vancouver to get the cake because her Mom had requested they serve Jeanne’s cake at her memorial service.  The daughter told Jerry a cake from Jeanne’s was more than a cake- it was a memory. 

Jerry has the recipe for Jeanne’s cakes in his safety deposit box and uses it to make the 1500-2000 cakes they bake and ice a week.  Jeanne’s Cakes certainly have their critics. The podcast I listened to interviews Free Press food writer Alison Gillmor. The only thing she can find to praise about the cakes is the chocolate curls that cover their sides. But despite some negative reviews the cakes continue to have legions of fans. 

megan's cocktails

Glenys’ daughter Meg made special strawberry cocktails so we could toast her mother at her birthday celebration

  My friends and I  hadn’t seen each other in person for more than five months because of the pandemic so we drank a toast to being together again and a toast to our friend’s birthday.  We made some great memories eating Glenys’ birthday Jeanne’s cake. candles cake

Other posts……………

Not A Meal- It Was An Experience- Another T-4 Adventure

Burger Week-2019- You Win Some-You Lose Some

The Tale of the Traveling Pineapple Crisp


Gunn’s Bakery



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Filed under Food, T-4s, Winnipeg

Gifts or No Gifts?

Christmas 2019 with the T-4s

A couple of years ago the group of women I have been getting together with regularly for the last decade explored the possibility of discontinuing the practice of giving one another gifts at Christmas.  It was a very good thing to think about because all too often our homes and lives become so crowded with things there isn’t a whole lot of room, time and space for people and relationships.

Of course, as friends who have cared for and supported one another for years, we definitely knew what was important about our relationship wasn’t the gifts we gave each other but the time we spent together. We decided in the end to continue the tradition of giving each other presents and I have to say I love it.  Not because I need more things. I certainly don’t.  But because of the love and care my friends demonstrate as they select the gifts. 

This year I got a beautiful handmade card from my friend Debbie along with a box full of all kinds of different Christmas treats she had baked herself, including mincemeat tarts with a star design in the crust.  I can hardly wait to share them with my family. 

Esther went to Ten Thousand Villages, a store that sells fair trade items. Your purchase benefits artisans in developing countries who are trying to support their families.  Esther’s package for us included fair trade hot chocolate mix, some pungent and spicy cinnamon sticks to stir the hot chocolate and nuts from South America to nibble on as we did so. 

My friend Glenys had done some research and found out just how many  health benefits there are from having humidifiers in your home and so she had bought one for each of us. The small steamers were inside a lovely piece of glassware.  The gift was good for us and good- looking all at the same time. 

I had bought a book for each of my friends and spent a long time thinking about what would suit each of them.  Unfortunately, I chose a book for one friend that she had already read twice.  She accused me of knowing her reading tastes “too well” but happily traded books with one of the other women. 

It is certainly true people can go overboard with gift-giving and often we do receive things we don’t want or can’t use. I don’t have to get gifts from my friends to know they are my friends, but I have to admit a gift chosen with care by someone with whom you have a meaningful relationship is awfully nice. 

Other posts……….

What’s Happening With Those T-4s?

The T-4s Go Mennonite

Christmas Crafts with the T-4s

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What’s Happening With Those T-4’s?

What’s happening with those T-4’s? I get asked that question sometimes by blog readers who have followed my adventures with a group of three friends. We have been meeting almost monthly for nearly a decade now and have visited art shows, gone mini-golfing, created art, read books, written poetry, gone to museums, walked labyrinths, solved mysteries and visited flea markets. We still get together regularly but in the last couple of years, we’ve found that just having an opportunity to talk and catch up on our lives is our top priority so our time together has been more low key and perhaps that’s why I haven’t written about us as often.

I think there are seasons in relationships and our group is in a season right now where various responsibilities and life events make it best to just find space and time to visit, share joys and concerns, and support one another.

The T-4s getting ready to share the complimentary piece of lemon meringue cake we received from the restaurant because we were celebrating my birthday

Our meeting on Saturday is a good example. We were at Pine Ridge Hollow. What a lovely venue and all decked out for Christmas! We were also celebrating my birthday because it had happened since our last meeting. I got such lovely thoughtful presents from the friends who know me oh so well. This card was made by my friend Debbie who highlights interests in my life in each square on its cover.  The four women in one square are the four of us.  Jane Fonda says that friendships with other women give us power, she calls them the ‘starch in our spine.’ She thinks those friendships are one of the reasons women live longer than men. I’ve read somewhere that women know instinctively how to nourish one another and just being together is restorative. I couldn’t agree more!

Friendships are constantly changing as are the ways we practice them. I am enjoying and appreciating this season in my friendship with three very special women. 

Other posts……….

At the Gates Again


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At the Gates Again

four friendsIn July of 2012 the group of friends and former colleagues I meet with on a regular basis enjoyed a lovely lunch at The Gates on Roblin on a beautiful sunny day.  t-4's at the gatesLast Saturday we were back there again. This time on a soft grey fall afternoon with rain and just a little bit of snow which made us feel all cozy and comfortable inside as we caught up on what has been happening in our lives.  Our group has done many things together in between those two luncheons at The Gates. ready for mini golfWe’ve gone miniature golfing.

mermaid's kiss gallery gimliWe’ve done the Art Wave tour in Gimli. 

with T-4's assiniboine park- easter 2015We’ve welcomed spring by the duck pond in Assiniboine Park.We’ve visited a pumpkin farm. We’ve found our way out of an Escape Room. We’ve had an English Tea Party. We’ve hit a hamburger stand after helping one of our group members move. We’ve lunched by the river.
We’ve made Christmas centerpieces. We’ve worked on art projects. We’ve taken a course about chocolate. 

We’ve done a jig saw puzzle.  We’ve walked the Carol Shields labyrinth at Kings Park. We’ve celebrated birthdays.We’ve visited the traditional Mennonite village of Neubergthal. We’ve been to PineRidge Hollow. We’ve gone browsing at a Flea Market. We’ve written poetry. We’ve been to a tea room.

the gossips by rose aimee belanger

We’ve explored a sculpture garden. 

We’ve made cards. 

We’ve also been to movies and concerts and had a little mini book club. We’ve done crafts and gone sketching and we’ve done lots and lots of visiting. I am blessed to be part of this group of supportive friends. 

Other posts………

A Lovely Day in Steinbach

Getting Crafty for Christmas



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Artists in Action

artists at work marylou debbieWouldn’t it be something if you could see a Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Monet, and Klimt painting all in one room?  Well on Monday you could have, if you had peeked in on the T-4s the group of women I get together with regularly for fun and friendship.  

glenys and her klimt

Glenys works on Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life

We met at my friend Glenys beautiful home to use the present she gave each of us for Christmas- an art kit called MasterKitz that would guide us through the making of a reproduction of a famous painting.  kandinsky profileEach kit came complete with a story about the artist’s life, a set of instructions and inspirations and every single thing you would need to complete your work of art.  

esther starry night

Esther works on Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Each of our pieces was very different and it was interesting to watch while some of us used oil pastels and others water colors or oil paints.  

debbies water lilies

Debbie works on Monet’s Water Lilies.

Some of the paintings required rollers, other sponges, and some brushes.    

marylou kandinsky

I worked on Wassily Kandinsky’s Black Lines.

One painting had stickers to adorn the work while I put the finishing touches on my artwork with carbon paper and a pencil. 

debbie's birthdayWe started off the afternoon with a celebration of our friend Debbie’s birthday and of course the art project moved along every so much more smoothly with the wine, fruit, cheeses and sweets Glenys had provided. 

esther's starry nightWe had a lovely time and we each went home with our masterpiece as well as enough supplies in our MasterKitz  to create another one if we wanted to.  

my kandinskyDue to my two months in Arizona I hadn’t seen the T-4s for quite some time so it was lovely to spend an afternoon catching up and being creative together. 

You can read about more T-4 adventures here.  


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