Susan Musgrave’s “A Taste of Haida Gwaii”

29 Aug

Book/Food Club’s latest selection, made by Dorothy, leaned heavily toward the food side of the Book/Food Club. Susan Musgrave’s  A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World  is a cookbook supplemented with Musgrave’s stories, so it offered up an extravagance of food possibilities for our host Leslie.


Leslie rose to the challenge and cooked almost everything in the book. OK, not really, but she outdid herself and definitely raised the bar for Book/Food Club. It’s not like anyone else has been a slouch, either. This worries me somewhat since I am the next  host.


Our host industriously followed Menu #4 in the book, starting with Cauliflower Popcorn (incredibly yummy roasted cauliflower) and Super Eats Kale Crisps  (organic non-GMO of course) along with a goodly selection of beverages.


Second course consisted of my personal favourite : Copper Beach House Chowder. (Copper Beach Guest House is Susan Musgrave’s B&B at Masset, Haida Gwaii.)

The recipe includes whitefish, smoked salmon, corn, potatoes, carrots, coconut milk, cumin, coriander, paprika, hot sauce and cilantro. It was heaven. (As an aside, the Copper Beach House version is based on a recipe from the Red Fish Blue Fish Eatery in Victoria, BC where I dined happily on a trip to the coast last year.) Leslie served the chowder with a hearty sour dough bread and fresh cilantro.


I could have died happy right there, but, onward to the delectable third course!



A layered pasta main course, warm from the oven was the next delight in store for us: tortellini, butternut squash, leeks, mushrooms, lemon, orange, garlic, chives, cream and parmesan. Cilantro and chopped hazelnuts were on hand for toppings. The original recipe includes spruce tips, which would be an interesting addition. (This is by no means a complaint – it was sublime as is).


A refreshing, crunchy salad accompanied the pasta; cabbage, sugarpea, carrots, green onions, radishes, and sesame seeds with a dressing of miso, tamari, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic and ginger.


After a brief digestive rest,  the oohs and aahs continued into the dessert course with a celestial Haida Gwaii Three Berry Pie and Pinocchio’s vanilla ice cream.

Just reading these recipes again makes me even more thankful and amazed for this incredible feast, Leslie!

Musgrave, Susan Copper Beech House

Copper Beach Guest House. Photo by BC BookLook

Our Book/Food Club is now thinking that we just might have to make a trip to the Copper Beach Guest House on Haida Gwaii.

Posted by Marlena Wyman





Guy Vanderhaeghe’s “Daddy Lenin and Other Stories”

10 Jul

Book/Food Club met at our affable host Dorothy’s house on the lovely summer evening of June 30th to discuss Pat’s choice of Canadian author Guy Vanderhaeghe’s Daddy Lenin and Other Stories. Dorothy based her feast on several sprinklings of food references throughout Vanderhaeghe’s gritty short stories. Her meal, however, was not gritty. Grit is not what one desires in food.


On the groaning board were a hearty loaf of potato bread, butter, root chips, two classic pizzas from Spinelli’s Bar Italia in Edmonton: a Margherita and a Capricciosa, and luscious fresh cherries of the dark and Ranier varieties.


Laid down on a soft bed of butter lettuce, and arrayed on Dorothy’s vintage Hycroft “Calico” dinnerware, were a goodly assortment of cheeses: Gorgonzola, Cheshire, white Stilton with apricots, and the favourite, goat cheese with honey, along with a lovely salty prosciutto, gherkins, and crackers (“Gone Crackers”  to be specific).


We settled back to discuss the short stories, accompanied by Il Grigio Chianti Classico red wine, Villa Angela’s Pecorino white wine, sparkling water and Limonata.


The evening was rounded off with blood oranges and pizzelle cookies. The Italian Centre Shop does not disappoint, nor do Book/Food Club’s rousing discussions. It was an evening of substantial food and literature. Thanks Dorothy!


Posted by Marlena Wyman

Chive Blosson Omelette

7 Jun

I made the happy discovery recently that chive blossoms are edible – they taste like chives! They are very pretty, and my chive plant is a hardy soul. It is always one of the first plants to start growing every spring.


There are a few suggestions for using chive blossoms on the About Food website, and I decided to make Chive Blossom Omelettes for me and my younger sister, who was visiting me for the weekend.


I used eggs from the heritage chicken program at the University of Alberta Farm, and I purchased the goat cheese at the Italian Centre Shop . I knew it was goat cheese because of the helpful image of a goat on the package.


I sautéed the chives and chive blossoms in butter…


…added the goat cheese, folded the omelette over, and let the cheesy goodness melt into the eggs.

It was a gorgeous morning, so we ate outside on our (brand-new-thank-you-to-The-Man-With-Whom-I-Keep-Company) deck.


We also enjoyed fresh strawberries along with delicious danishes from our local organic bakery, Buns and Roses (complete with roses from my garden).


I made iced tea with a fragrant and beautiful tea that I bought when I attended a recent art retreat. It was blended especially for the Harvest Moon Cafe in Val Marie, Saskatchewan, by the Banff Tea Co.  The blend is named “Dark Skies” after the dark sky preserve at Grasslands National Park beside Val Marie. The tea is a delightful combination of lavender, rose, and bluepea flowers, lemongrass, horsetail and nettles. It brews up a gorgeous blue-green colour.


A happy chive blossom breakfast to you!


All photographs by Marlena Wyman

Chive Blossom Omelette

Ingredients for each omelette:

2 eggs

2 Tbsps. milk

2 Tbsps. butter (divided)

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsps. chopped chives

1 Tbsps. chive blossoms, removed from stems

1 Tbsps. uncooked chive blossoms for garnish

2 Tbsps. goat cheese, crumbled


  1. Sauté a handful of chopped fresh chives and chive blossoms in 1 Tbsp. butter over medium-low heat in a non-stick sauté pan. Remove chives and set aside.
  2. Crack the eggs into a glass mixing bowl and beat them with a whisk until they turn a pale yellow color.
  1. Add the milk to the eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk mixture well, beating as much air as possible into the eggs.
  2. Reheat the pan over medium-low heat. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in pan.
  3. When the butter in the pan is hot enough to make a drop of water hiss, pour in the egg mixture. Cook for up to a minute without stirring or until the bottom starts to set.
  4. With a heat-resistant rubber spatula, gently push one edge of the egg into the center of the pan, while tilting the pan to allow the liquid egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges, until there’s no liquid left and the bottom is a light golden brown.
  5. Add the goat cheese and the cooked chives & blossoms cheese in a line across the center of the eggs.
  6. With your spatula, lift one edge of the egg and fold it across and over. Turn off the heat and let the cheese melt.
  7. Plate and garnish with additional chive blossoms.

Posted by Marlena Wyman


Alena Graedon’s “The Word Exchange”

25 Apr

We met at Pat’s house for our April 21, 2016 Book/Food Club to discuss my choice of Alena Graedon’s book, The Word Exchange. The book contained lots of words, but not so many food references. However, Pat rose to the challenge and recreated a comfort food meal inspired by the diner where two of the main characters often met: The Fancy.


True to theme, our host combed through her collection to find lovely vintage linens with words printed or embroidered onto them.


Old-fashioned comfort food was a good antidote to the dystopian future that Graedon’s book presented. Our meal was a blue plate special of hearty meat loaf, potatoes and coleslaw, plated by our host who yelled authentically “Order up!” as each of our plates arrived. One of the main characters in the book had a thing about pineapples, so the coleslaw included pineapple, as did one of the beverages and the table’s centrepiece.


Pat cooked the meatloaf on a baking sheet rather than in a loaf pan. This created a greater surface-area-to-loaf ratio allowing for more crunchy crust goodness. I will be making my meatloaf this way from now on.


No diner meal is complete without pie, and our host did not disappoint. Luscious banana cream pie – oh my – and dressed up for company with chocolate shavings. Caramels and licorice, another book reference, rounded out the sweets.

Thank you for the mighty fine feast, dear host. In a word, scrumptious!

Posted by Marlena Wyman aka Truly Scrumptious


Alice Munro’s “Dance of the Happy Shades”

13 Mar

I hosted Book/Food Club at my home on February 25 to talk about Leslie’s book choice: Alice Munro’s first published collection of short stories, Dance of the Happy Shades, published in 1968. It won the Governor General’s Award, and we could see why.

Although the title of the book has the word “happy” in it, and although the stories are beautifully written, happy they are not. The food that she describes in the stories tended toward the plain and dismal, so I remained true to the food references but I engaged in interpretation to honour her beautiful writing.


In some of her stories, the mention of food was straightforward: pickles, cheeses, rolls, apricots, raspberries, pears, grapes, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers.


However, I fancied up the “cabbage & carrot salad with raisins” that was in the story Postcard. I went to one of my favourite sources, Alive magazine. The February 2016 issue had an intriguing Kohlrabi Slaw. I see kohlrabi in stores, I have painted kohlrabi at a farmer’s market, but I have never eaten kohlrabi. Until now. It is good.

veggies in Annapolis Valley, NS Sept 2015

Watercolour sketch of kohlrabi and tomatoes by Marlena Wyman

Here is the recipe:


Page 105, Alive magazine, Issue 400, February 2016

I also chose an interpretation of the salmon loaf that was mentioned in the story Postcard, and I combined it with the potato salad from the story Sunday Afternoon. My ever-dependable Jamie Oliver provided me with that inspiration from his Jamie at Home cookbook.


The full table for Dance of the Happy Shades. Potato Salad with Smoked Salmon is lower centre.

Here is Jamie’s superb recipe. I couldn’t find crème fraîche so I substituted sour cream, but I did find fresh horseradish root at the Italian Centre Shop.


Page 186, Jamie at Home cookbook by Janie Oliver

The Walker Brothers Cowboy story mentions lemon, orange & raspberry concentrate for making refreshing drinks. I settled on Okanagan Sparkling Ripe Raspberry juice and Gerolsteiner carbonated mineral water. The wine was a new organic wine that I had not tried before: Villa Theresa’s Merlot from Italy.

I also could not resist including gorgeous Clementines from the Italian Centre Shop. They carry such beautiful food at that market.


Because this Book/Food Club fell between my and Pat’s birthdays, Leslie kindly offered to bake us a birthday cake. Fortunately, two of the stories featured birthday cakes. Leslie recreated the pink on white” birthday cake with strawberry ice cream from the Day of the Butterfly story.

Since Neapolitan ice cream had also been mentioned in one of the stories, and as one of the birthday girls, I felt entitled to express my loathing of that particular type of ice cream, especially the sickly-sweet fake flavour of the strawberry layer. I found a food blogger’s post about Neapolitan ice cream that contains too many expletives to repeat, but he calls it “I hate my friends” ice cream.  Don’t get me wrong, I love real strawberry ice cream made with real strawberries and with chunks of real strawberries in it. It’s just that fake berry flavour is one of the worst. However, Leslie came through, and how!


Pink and white birthday cake (with candle holes)

I think I terrified Leslie sufficiently, because her splendid scratch-baked strawberry cake was made with real strawberries, iced with cream cheese icing containing real strawberries, and served with Sicilian brand strawberry ice cream made with – yes – real strawberries! Thank you Leslie.


We enjoyed birthday cake in front of a warming fire provided by our new wood stove (the mighty Osburn 900).

Happy Book/Food Club we.

Posted by Marlena Wyman aka Truly Scrumptious


Conrad Kain’s “Where the Clouds Can Go”

11 Jan

When our Book/Food Club last met at the Hotel Macdonald for our 10th anniversary, we asked some of the hotel staff for book suggestions.  On the recommendation of Nyal, the Hotel’s concierge, we chose Conrad Kain‘s Where the Clouds Can Go,  and we were glad that we did. It was well-suited to the historical interests of our club and took some of us, who are not exactly athletic outdoorswomen let alone mountain climbers, to places of peril and natural beauty without having to leave the comfort of my chair.

As Rocky Mountain Books notes: Of all the mountain guides who came to Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Conrad Kain is probably the most respected and well-known. In this internationally anticipated reissue of Where the Clouds Can Go-first published in 1935, with subsequent editions in 1954 and 1979-Rocky Mountain Books has accentuated the original text with an expanded selection of over 50 archival images that celebrate the accomplishments of Conrad Kain in the diverse mountain landscapes of North America, Europe and New Zealand. 


A. H. MacCarthy, Beth MacCarthy, Caroline Hinman, Conrad Kain and unidentified boy,[1913]. Photo by Byron Harmon, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies – Photo Archives

Book\Food Club’s first get-together of 2016 was hosted at Leslie’s house on the evening of January 7th, and it was a hearty feast worthy of Mount Resplendent’s name itself.


Kain was often spoke of being hungry; he was not always well-paid, and often the worst offenders were the rich clients who he guided up mountains. Leslie’s feast, although based on food that Kain ate such as bread, butter, sausages and cheese, did not leave us hungry. It was much more abundant than his meagre meals and without doubt much tastier.


Beverages included Moldavian Cabernet de Ciumai, apple & lingonberry juice, and sparkling water.


Leslie made a delicious, comforting stew (substituting beef for the animals that Kain hunted and ate: bear, mountain goat and chamois – thank you).


For dessert we enjoyed chocolates and Leslie’s yummy traditional Christmas sugar cookies by the cozy fire, sipping tea for additional warmth.  I was ready for a bracing winter walk home – all of two blocks. Thanks Leslie!   


All photos by Marlena Wyman unless otherwise noted

Posted by Truly Scrumptious





Book/Food Club 10th Anniversary

30 Nov

Yes, we have been meeting, eating and talking about books for ten years! All of it has been splendid so we thought we should celebrate in equally splendid style. A European trip was discussed, as was a trip to one of many fascinating North American destinations. We reconsidered and downsized a bit, thinking that the iconic Jasper Park Lodge might be doable. At the end of the day, after considering our budgets and schedules, we decided upon a locally splendid outing:  Royal Tea in the Harvest Room of Edmonton’s Hotel Macdonald.


The elegant and historic Hotel Macdonald celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. I have always loved this hotel and was happy to celebrate our Book/Food Club’s 10th anniversary along with it.


It is a good idea to attend the Royal Tea  with a hearty appetite. In fact, don’t eat anything else that day.


We started with a Prosecco toast to our friendship, books and food.


Our waiter brought a fine selection of teas. We each unhesitatingly chose the enchantingly named Buckingham Palace Garden Party loose leaf tea.


Here is a description from

Every May, the Queen holds a garden party at Buckingham Palace. The tea that is served is a long time favorite and delicious medley specially selected for this occasion. Intriguing hints of a high-grown Earl Grey flavored Ceylon effortlessly complement the soft jasmine notes of a China green tea. Couple this with malty Assam and golden Kenyan tea and you have one of the most flavorful teas to come from the British Isles. Enjoy this lovely English blend and be a part of the annual tradition in the west gardens of Buckingham Palace! Jasmine and cornflower petals are added for beautiful color.


Our Amuse Bouche was a refreshing, delicate Pear & Cranberry Sorbet with a candied ginger topping.


No High Tea is complete without scones, and the Hotel Macdonald’s are warm, buttery and flaky. These are hefty delights – no dainty offerings in the scone department.  Eating two was a requirement since it was necessary to taste both the classic and apple-maple. What’s that? We could have shared? Well, that’s just wrong-thinking.


The scones were accompanied by Devonshire Cream and a Berry Compote. A second round of jam and cream was requested. Could we have managed with just one? I don’t understand the question.


Triple-decker tea servers with those dear little sandwiches and sweet dainties then arrived. Yes indeed.


Organic Egg Salad on Brioche, Tarragon Lobster Mini Croissant, Seared Bison Saskatoon Berry Aioili Mini Navette, and Sundried Tomato & Artichoke Crostini. Each of these Lilliputian delights was no more than an inch long.


Blueberry Lemon Tart, Mini Cardamom Carrot Cupcake, Orange & Thyme Shortbread, Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Gel, and Spiced Pumpkin Cannoli. Here’s where we finally slowed down a tad. We wisely requested the Hotel Macdonald’s elegant doggy bags to bring home some of the abundance.

It’s a good thing that we did, because upon hearing about our anniversary celebration, our waiter presented each of us with an anniversary plate of even more delightful sweets. Eyes now whirling in heads.


As we are a Book Club, we managed to tear ourselves away from our feast long enough to talk about Dorothy’s book selection: Edmonton author Janice MacDonald’s murder mystery Condemned to Repeat. Since we were celebrating in a heritage building, it was fitting that MacDonald’s (unintended coincidence of name) book is set in in several heritage institutions in Edmonton, including Rutherford House, Fort Edmonton Park, the Ukrainian Cultural Village, St. Stephen’s College, and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Also fittingly, our Book Club/Food Club is comprised of four women who work in the heritage field, so we were very familiar with the book’s locations.

MacDonald mentions food in her book, including molasses cookies that were baked at the Rutherfords’ first home relocated to historic Fort Edmonton Park, and tea, scones and raspberry butter pots that were served at Rutherford House Provincial Historic Site on the University of Alberta campus. The Royal Tea feast was meant to be.

rutherford house

Rutherford House Provincial Historic Site. Photo: Government of Alberta

Happy Anniversary to us! Perhaps we will be able to find our way to Europe for our 20th anniversary.


Photographs by Marlena Wyman unless otherwise noted

Posted by Truly Scrumptious






Kathleen Winter’s “Boundless”

7 Oct

Our Book/Food Club gathered at Dorothy’s to talk about Pat’s book choice: Kathleen Winter’s Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage. This book was particularly well suited for our evening, as talk of Kathleen Winter’s engaging and philosophical journey flowed through tales of our own summer travels.



We were grateful that Dorothy did not decide to take on some of the food mentioned in the book, in particular seal brains and seal livers, although I had offered to bring some back from Newfoundland in my suitcase.

Instead, our host opted for a delicious banquet of fishy, salty, cheesy delights, reminiscent of the offerings of northern seas and lands: herring, sprats, gravlax, capers, olives, grapes, roasted red peppers…



Rain Coast Crisps, Finn Crisp and focaccia breads, Colston Bassett Stilton, Kitscoty Pecorino, Balderson Cheddar and Grey Owl cheeses…



and beverages to slake thoughts of a briny sea: sparkling pear juice, San Pellegrino Limonata, Vina Cobos Felino Malbec, San Basa Rueda Blanco from Spain…



and a gorgeous Malivoire ice wine from Ontario to accompany our dessert of fresh raspberries and meringues from the redoubtable Duchess Bake Shop in Edmonton. Was that enough? No! We drizzled them with maple syrup. Yes!


Thank you Dorothy! And thank you Kathleen Winter for an absorbing summer read.


I don’t know whether it is the light and colour in Dorothy’s home, but the mood in my photos of her invitingly laid tables tends to bring to mind Dutch Golden Age paintings. On this occasion, I am reminded of the fine monochromatic still life paintings of Clara Peeters. I think she would have enjoyed our Book/Food Club feasts.

Clara Peeters, Still Life with a Pie, c. 1611, oil on panel. Museo del Prado, Madrid - wikipedia

Clara Peeters, Still Life with a Pie, c. 1611, oil on panel. Museo del Prado, Madrid – Wikipedia

Posted by Marlena Wyman

Photographs by Marlena Wyman

Bouillabaisse at Bauline East, Newfoundland

28 Aug

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East Coast Cottages & Cabins, Bauline East, Newfoundland (this link gives info and more photos)

(Note:  I apologize for the quality of some of the photos in this post. While I was photographing a Jigg’s Dinner that we ate earlier on our trip, in my excitement I dropped my camera into the gravy on my plate. It hasn’t been quite the same since – a good cleaning is in order!)

We have stayed in the rustic, charming and cozy East Coast Cottages & Cabins a couple of times this trip. The first time we stayed with some of our visiting family and shared The Barn and The Bunky. The orange cottage is also available, and if you really want to rough it, you can stay in the tipi.

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The Barn


The Barn is a studio layout, with bed, living, dining and kitchen in one room.



The Bunky


Inside the Bunky

For our second visit, The-Man-With-Whom-I-Keep-Company and I stayed in The Barn. Our kind and congenial hosts, George & Chabela and their son Lukas, did all they could to make our stay comfortable and enjoyable.

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We were treated to homemade muffins and jam in the mornings. The Barn has a kitchen where we can make our own meals, but when I noticed the brochure titled “Chabela’s Cuisine”, I wanted to make sure we booked at least one supper with our hosts, who live in the yellow house on the property.

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Chabela at work in her kitchen

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I couldn’t help noticing George’s collection on a shelf at the end of the kitchen. Those who know me are familiar with my attraction to cabinets of curiosity. (such as the one I created with my friend Chris Westbury)

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I also couldn’t help noticing the lovely chanterelle mushrooms that out hosts had gathered that day. Sadly, Chabela did not have time to include them in our meal, but you can’t have it all!


However, I was not disappointed by the meal she had in store for us. A beautiful bouillabaisse of fresh locally-caught cod and scallops in a tomato broth with onions, garlic, fennel bulb, fennel seed, and orange juice & zest, topped with chopped fresh parsley. The fennel and orange zest added a lovely surprising mid note to this hearty soup. A toasted slice of Chabela’s homemade whole wheat bread was immersed in the broth, the toothsome crust adding texture.  We were offered seconds and we accepted without hesitation.

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A gorgeous salad followed: local spinach, beets, red onions, herbed goat cheese, and caramelized pecans with an olive oil balsamic vinegar dressing. Chabela makes the caramelized pecans and keeps a supply on hand if she is able to successfully hide them from her family.

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An animated conversation with Lucas and The-Man-With-Whom-I-Keep-Company

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George keeping the wine and water flowing

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Dessert, served with ice cream and rhubarb compote, was a selection of homemade brownies, peanut-butter-chocolate cookies, and lemon curd squares. I selected some of each, thank you very much.

We finished the evening with fennel tea and further interesting, enthusiastic conversation. Thanks to our hosts!

Bauline East is a little gem of a community – remote enough to offer quiet reflection but close to sights and attractions and right on the East Coast Trail. The-Man-With-Whom-I-Keep-Company went on some leg-muscle-burning hikes while I sketched the harbour. This is now on our list of top favourite places that we have stayed!


Sketch of Bauline East Harbour by Marlena Wyman


Posted by Truly Scrumptious


Stinging Nettle Omelette

16 Aug


Photo by Marlena Wyman

Along with an abundance of wildflowers on our property at Bacon Cove, Newfoundland this year has come an abundance of Stinging Nettle. In particular, it has been seeking out the bare legs of The-Man-With-Whom-I-Keep-Company.


Photo by Marlena Wyman

Stinging Nettle lives up to it’s adjective, but it can also be a healthy and delicious dining delight once the leaves has been picked (wearing rubber gloves!) and steamed for 20 munutes. The Globe & Mail talks about Stinging Nettle’s culinary delights here, including a menu item at the Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland. There are cautions for some medical conditions, so make sure you check those out first.

A friend suggested an omelette, which he had eaten at The Sooke Harbour House. So I cooked up a bit of a gourmet breakfast-for-supper, including:

  • omelette made with local free-range eggs, sharp cheddar and steamed Stinging Nettles.
  • Jamie Oliver Humanely-Raised Smoked Bacon
  • french toast made with bread from the Georgestown Bakery in St. John’s, Newfoundland, served with local Purity Blueberry Jam.

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Photo by Marlena Wyman

A good bacon-pairing wine is one of my favourites: Organic Cono Sur Pinot Noir.

Embrace the Stinging Nettle (with caution).

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Sketch by Marlena Wyman

Posted by Truly Scrumptious

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