Bison Bacon & Avocado Sandwiches and Strongbow


And a new toilet. Mike and I installed one our very own selves. (Since then, Mike has been running around the house in slow-mo – arms in the air, singing We Are the Champions. We planned to do it at around dinnertime, knowing that our handy neighbours would be home around then in case we needed backup (we did, due to our 100 year old house’s extremely wonky floors).

After, we drank cold Strongbow with our friends/neighbours on the lawn as our assorted toddlers played with pushy things and W tormented one of their cats. And when we finally came inside it was pushing 8, so W had Raisin Bran and dried apricots, and I cooked up some bison bacon I had bought earlier specifically for the occasion of a perfectly ripe, buttery avocado, and turned both into sandwiches on toasted grainy bread. Bison bacon is very lean – much like back bacon, only leaner, and quite salty. A perfect pairing with soft avocado.

So – straight to Free Stuff Friday. To preface: I emceed Speak Out 2009 this afternoon, an event downtown in Olympic Plaza with celebrated the disabled, with a pride parade down Stephen Avenue. It was hot, and there was a great lunchtime turnout. W splashed in the enormous wading pool and flicked his feet in the fountains.

At one point, I was chatting with my Mom (who helped organize the event) and a volunteer, who had just been approached by a young boy who gave her six dollars. His grade 8 class was doing a “pay it forward” project; we later noticed that kids were wandering around handing out flowers and such. She was then supposed to pay it forward, so she gave the six dollars to my Mom. We kind of looked at each other and said, so.. what? This six dollars gets passed from person to person until someone finally pockets it? And why six dollars? It was a nice but slightly odd gesture; the volunteer was not visibly in need of financial help – there were certainly a few people around the downtown plaza who could have used a few dollars. But it seemed to me like an interesting opportunity to try to do something more. And it just so happened to occur on a Friday.

There have been a few suggestions to hold a tagline (or header art) contest here, with the prize being whatever I had on offer for Free Stuff Fridays – great idea. But this seems more important than a blog header.

So – what can be done with six dollars? I invite you all to make suggestions – you are a creative lot – and I will carry out the idea that seems most inventive or can do the most good. The winner will get the Free Stuff Fridays loot, which I am keeping secret. (Who knows – maybe more stuff will make its way into the loot bag as people pay it forward?) And I’d like to request that everyone reading this do something small to pay it forward in response to this young boy’s six dollars. If you do, post it here (so that would count as two entries – one comment for the idea, if you have one, and another for the good deed). Next week I’ll give the school principal a call, or write his teacher a letter, outlining all that came of the six dollars – it’s a great opportunity to illustrate to this grade 8 class how one action among strangers can create a domino effect in more directions than one. Don’t you think?

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42 comments on “Bison Bacon & Avocado Sandwiches and Strongbow

  1. Jenn
    May 29, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Oy! I see that no one has posted anything yet. Well, let me post a few things that can perhaps get the creative juices running:

    1. Using the $6.00 to buy supplies for a fundraising campaign for a cause (whatever that may be)…as simple as, a bake sale or a kissing booth(which always works well!!) for a dollar….generating more funds for your favorite charity!
    2. Use said funds to promote exactly this idea- using $6.0, what good can I do for the world? And rope in all your friends and then keep track on this blog or something!
    3. Education, education, education- I’m a huge fan of using whatever resources at hand to teach people something. In your case, it could be a theme night, for example, cooking easy, yummy and healthy meals which cost only $6.00 (difficult, but totally possible)for single working mothers, or at a women’s shelter

    Hope that helps!!

  2. Pat
    May 29, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    1. Buy 6-$1 Tim Horton coupons, and give them to people who are in need. (does $1 buy a coffee? If not, $2 to each person)
    2. Same idea with MacDonald coupons.
    3.Buy shampoo, etc at the Dollar Store, and donate them to a Womans Shelter.
    4. Ask friends to match the amount and then with the total money, do the above ideas.

  3. Donna
    May 30, 2009 at 1:43 am

    1. Take the $6 and donate it to the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank. They turn every dollar into $4 worth of purchased food – so your $6 grows to $24.

    2. Donate the $6 along with 10 to 15 more $6s to the Townships Projects- a non profit organization that gives micro loans as start up funds for small businesses in Africa.

    3. Take your Mom or Grandma to lunch – two teenburgers for $6.

  4. Carolyn
    May 30, 2009 at 3:01 am

    1. Buy ingredients to make cookies or something yummy and share with those who need cheering up. For $6 you could make many loaves of no-knead bread and pass them out.
    2. Buy 6 songs from itunes and load them onto a discarded mp3 player for someone who’s terminally ill in the hospital, and has no window, no tv, or any other humane comforts of life.

    As a side note, yesterday I had a $5 coupon that I couldn’t use, and I passed it to someone in the line that could use it (they were buying the items that the coupon was valid for). I gave it to them and said ‘pay it forward’. It’s interesting to see how people react when you just give them something (I’ve watched this experience a few times and the reaction is consistently the same.)

  5. Janice
    May 30, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Please donate the money to the foodbank…after all you are a foodie!! I am a K teacher and more and more kids in my school are coming each morning without breakfast and HUNGRY!! The world looks a whole lot brighter and learning more manageable to kids with a full tummy

  6. Elaine
    May 30, 2009 at 7:29 am

    This sounds unorthodox, but every day at my old job, I’d pass the same homeless guy outside a mexican bakery on my way to work. I’d stop each morning, say hi, and ask him if he wanted either a cigarette or a cheap pastry. Some days he took the cigarette, other days he’d choose a bun. Just interacting with him instead of ignoring him made a huge difference; my mom was in town one day, and we saw him on the street and he stopped us to tell her how the best part of his day was talking to me. So if I had an extra six bucks, I’d keep it for buying Clyde (the homeless guy) a little something extra each day.

  7. Rose
    May 30, 2009 at 7:46 am

    How about something as simple as converting it to 24 quarters and popping them into expired parking meters? Think of the frustration or anger you may have felt upon finding a parking ticket when you know you were only a few minutes ‘late’. Doing this could avert a lot of anger and subsequent unhappiness. Another one (that I wish would happen for me since I never have a quarter) is to leave a quarter in the grocery cart you’ve finished with. Both simple actions that could bring smiles and joy and then where might that lead?


  8. JulieVR
    May 30, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Great ideas, all of them! Rose – Calgary has converted to the ParkPlus system, so no more parking meters. Great idea to stretch out $6 though!

    Love the suggestions of the food bank too – it’s true, they can magically turn $1 into $4 worth of food, so that’s a good investment! I do a ton of stuff for/with the food bank already. In fact, I’m about to launch a cookbook project with proceeds to go to the food bank.

    No-knead bread is brilliant – for $6 I could buy a bag of flour that would make a helluva lot of loaves to pass around! Freshly baked bread is a wonderful thing. (As I type this cookies are baking that W and I will distribute to everyone who is chipping in today to our community clean-up.)

    By the way, things are trickling in for the prize package – looks like there will be a lot of fun/yummy stuff in there!

  9. rea
    May 30, 2009 at 8:07 am

    buy a pound of coffee and invite everyone you know to your house for a cup of joe, then have a discussion about what you, as a group, could do to effect change through your concerted efforts (i.e. time).

  10. EricaB
    May 30, 2009 at 9:07 am

    My first thought being a CIFB volunteer was that $6 is $24 at the Food Bank. 🙂

    I like rea’s idea of starting a larger pay it forward with a group of friends. I think the bigger the splash the bigger the ripple.

  11. Kathy
    May 30, 2009 at 9:17 am

    For $6 one could buy some vegetable seeds (couldn’t one, I don’t really know how much a packet of seeds costs) and grow a row for the needy and donate said veggies to the Food Bank, or Community Kitchen.

    BTW Julie did you happen to be at the Deerfoot Meadows Superstore this morning around 8:30 a.m. if so you were in line ahead of us. I wanted to introduce myself but chickened out in case it wasn’t you! If not you have a twin. (My shyness, nothing to do with you BTW).

  12. robyn
    May 30, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Ask friends/family to match the $6….at $50, you can buy a goat for a girl in Africa. One goat is completely life altering…it provides milk they can drink and sell. Selling it buys more goats….and for a girl to have a business brings her respect. The benefits just keep going and going. Then she loans money to other girls in her community, and they buy animals.

    I LOVE this organization!

  13. glenda
    May 30, 2009 at 10:17 am

    After expressing my hesitation to hand out money to people on the street, my daughter introduced me to the idea of carrying Mcdonald’s (or other easy to access food vendors’)coupons to ‘buy a meal’ for the homeless. Seemed like a brilliant solution for me and certainly fits in the $6 bracket!

  14. robyn
    May 30, 2009 at 10:20 am

    ps – that sandwich looks AMAZING

  15. Christina
    May 30, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I like the idea of making the bread! But what if you went ahead and sold those loafs of bread for $6 each to generate more money (I would buy a $6 loaf of bread to support such a cause). Then take the $6 dollars from each loaf and give it to people who would find their own ways to pay it forward.
    A random act of kindness I do from time to time is I’ll pay for the Tim Hortons order of the person behind me in the drive through, so that when they drive up to the window their order i paid for by a complete stranger. I hope they pass it along, I would love to have that happen to me one day. What a treat it would be to drive up and just be given my coffee.
    And lastly, I agree … the sandwich looks sooooo killer!!

  16. Pat from Ontario
    May 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    My example of “paying it forward”. I live just down the street from a Caesar’s Casino. A concert hall was opened there about a year ago. They give out free tickets to the concerts to patrons, hoping that they will gamble before and after the concert. I often was eligible for free tickets, but I was not interested in going to all of the shows; however, I would go and stand in line the day of the concert,(sometimes for an hour) and pick up tickets for someone I knew who really wanted to go. When I would give them the tickets they were so appreciative, and many remarked, “You are paying it forward”. Here’s the clincher. I went 9 times in a row to get tickets for others. I played “Wheel of Fortune” each time. (I only played when I was getting tickets for others.) I did not lose once during those 9 visits, and at the end I had won $2,400. (I hit the $500 spin twice and the $1,000 spin once.) With my winnings, I donated money to my church, I left bigger tips to waitresses, and I donated $500 to another worthy cause. AND, I vowed NOT to give the casino back its money!!! (They don’t like the fact that I cash out when I’m up so they don’t offer free tickets to me anymore.) There are so many ways to pay it forward, and many of the ideas have been mentioned here. Julie, I’m going to “pay it forward” by sending you something for FSF. What a way to live!!!!

  17. Elizabeth L.
    May 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I, too, thought of vegetable seeds and flour, so since those have been spoken for, I came up with another: Red lentil soup. A 2 kg bag is around $2 at Superstore, add in a bag of onions, carrots, celery and a couple of heads of garlic ($4, easily) and you have the ingredients for an incredibly healthy,delicious and affordable soup. My recipe is simply those ingredients and water (1 c. chopped veg mix, 1 c. rinsed lentils, 4 c. water). Saute, simmer and blend.

    The 2 kg. of lentils makes about 12 6 cup batches of soup, which could be taken to the Mustard Seed. I think I am going to do just that this week. My food processor will be my best friend. It could also be portioned out and given to the Soup Sisters that you spoke of. I like that the recipients get the soup and the recipe, akin to the give vs. teach a man to fish story. Everyone can use a good and inexpensive recipe in their repertoire.

    ps-I add 1 t. of smoked paprika after skimming off the foam. Smoked paprika makes everything taste like there’s bacon in it. Also, if you want to bump up the protein for vegetarians, add a cup of quinoa and more water.

  18. Elizabeth L.
    May 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Another ps–on further reflection, what about portioning out said recipe ingredients into Ziplocs and bringing it to the food bank? Do they accept that kind of thing, or could it be done on-site? The people using the food bank might like to know how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own, instead of eating cans of soup that are so very high in sodium.

  19. Erica B.
    May 30, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Elizabeth L.: Excellent idea but unfortunately due to health regulations the CIFB can’t accept homemade goods. They can however accept the raw materials… the bags of lentils, carrots etc. and put those to use in hampers. Perishables can be donated to the foodbank directly at the depot on 11th St SE – incidentally about 10 min drive from W&S 🙂 (for their address etc go to: )

  20. Natalie (Michigan)
    May 30, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    1. give $2.00 to the library’s circulation desk to cover the small fines of patrons. (this harried mom would love to be told.. you owed 30 cents but it has been paid …) Then read a book to the kids in the children’s section.

    2. spend $2.00 on powdered lemonade (or fresh lemons and sugar.. not sure if $2 would be enough) and set up a stand on a hot day and give them away free plus an extra cup of lemondade for someone they choose.

    3. spend $2.00 on a special rose (or more) and give to an elderly woman sitting alone on a park bench.

  21. Cheryl
    May 30, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I love some of these ideas. Especially Natalie’s about the library fines and free lemonade.

    What about buying some used books and leaving them on transit for someone else to read?

    PS Bacon and avocado? That is pretty much heaven around here.

  22. Erica B.
    May 30, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    PS: about making food at the foodbank…another excellent idea but they’re only set up with an office, lobby, distribution centre and warehouse… unfortunately no kitchen (but that would make an excellent addition)… if anyone local wants to come with me to put together hampers I’m a regular on monday nights and I can bring a friend… email me – or you can sign up to volunteer by contacting volunteer services:

  23. Nicole
    May 31, 2009 at 5:39 am

    Just have to say YAY Pat from Ontario! Your story of sharing is quite amazing! It’s one thing to do something nice when it doesn’t cost much money or time but to sacrifice time to stand in line is rare. I also love that you didn’t keep any of the winnings from the casino. You’re good people Pat!

    (still thinking of a good pay it forward idea…)

  24. Cori
    May 31, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Here’s what I would do:

    Take that $6 and write a letter to go along with it… something to the extent of:

    If you are receiving this letter, know that it started off as a mere $6 good deed done by a grade 8 student. He simply gave the $6 to another person and asked that they pay it forward. Thinking about the best way to make this money mean something, you came up with the idea to take this money, add a dollar, and pass it along to the next person. Hopefully each person can do the same. Once it gets to $100, the last person should donate it to (the school that the student started it at).

    You could keep a list of all the people through whom this money goes through. I think it’s symbolic that one person can make a difference, but working together is a far more effective way to make a change. Also, things come full circle.

    Pretty sandwich!

  25. Tagyn
    May 31, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I think it would be neat to send it back to the school as a project for the students. If some cookies or bread was made and delivered to the school and then the students sold the goods to make money for one of their projects, who knows how much they could make and have the feeling of ownership!

  26. Sue (London, ON)
    May 31, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Wow Julie. This is awesome. I love love love Cori’s idea where the money is sent around and added to and a history of where & who the letter went to would be so interesting for the Grade 8 class.
    I wondered about inviting your readers to each match the $6, sending it to you with perhaps a letter or postcard commenting on how the action of that one student inspired each of us?
    Your readers are creative and smart! I’ve enjoyed reading all the ideas.
    One of my favourite Pay It Forward ideas is in the winter when I’m scraping mounds of snow off my car after work, I also do the car next to mine. It really gives me a thrill to imagine how relieved that person may be after a long day at work to at least not have to stand in the cold scraping off the ice & snow.
    And once again Julie, thanks for all you do!

  27. robyn
    May 31, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I would happily send $6 to add to the stash. Good idea Sue!

  28. JulieVR
    May 31, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Yes, great idea. I was pondering setting up a blog with a paypal account linked to it, to make it easier/cleaner (rather than write a cheque for $6!) with the ability to leave a direct comment or post about the inspiration and/or what was done. The problem with sending it around via letter in terms of the class, is that they are out of school in 3 weeks! so while we could let them know that a bigger project was launched, we don’t really have time to send letters and track actions.

    In terms of donating it back to the school – it’s a private school, so not as in need as a public one…

  29. Hannah
    May 31, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Recently, I read in the Calgary Herald that due to the economy the food bank has seen an increase in clients. The $6 will help feed the less fortunate and they even have a baby food/formula section so you’d be feeding people of all ages.

  30. Pat from Ontario
    May 31, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    I think all of Julie’s readers will agree that she has demonstrated an amazing “pay it foward” example. For a year and a half she has invited us into her kitchen, shared her food ideas and her life with us, with no thought of monetary gain. Believing that “pay it forward” works, we know that Julie will reap the benefits of her devotion to her readers, many of whom she has never met, but to whom she has become a mentor and a friend. “dinnerwithjulie” fans, please stand and join with me as we honour our own JULIE VAN ROSENDAAL!!

  31. Mairi
    May 31, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    What wonderful ideas and a great conversation starter. I agree with the food bank being a very worthy cause and love the idea of “grow a row” too. My idea is to purchase a long distance calling card and donate it to a homeless shelter. The ability to touch base with a loved one would make an enormous difference in the life of someone who is living on the streets.
    Thank you Julie for inspiring us.
    “Be the change you want to see in the world” Gandhi

  32. Kate
    June 1, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Many, many great ideas here. I can only add what I loved to do when I was out and about. Read to children. Making a simple healthy snack (juice blocks?) and taking the time to read to a daycare/shelter full of children is heaven to me. I love the looks on their intent sweet faces, eyes widening and mouths forming emotions! Time is always something we all can pay forward, but is often overlooked.
    My husband bats for both of us on the pay it forward front now that I am disabled. Last week he was in a quick stop paying for his fuel. Another man came up to him (obviously seeing his work clothes) and offered to sell him two saws that he had in his car for $50. He was out of fuel and money. My husband gave him the $7 he had and although it wasn’t much the receiver was shocked that someone would give him money with no strings attached. It was, for my husband and the man, a link of comeraderie and brotherhood.

  33. Natalie
    June 1, 2009 at 4:58 am

    Do a Cake Raffle! I did this last year when I participated in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. I am pretty sure that you can bake a cake for $6? Bake a cake and sell raffle tickets for the cake at the office. Winner takes the cake home, and you can take the money you raised to your favourite charity! When I did it, I raised $295!! The money went to my fund-raising for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, benefiting the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation!

  34. JulieVR
    June 1, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Love it! Except that my office is our spare bedroom! 🙂

  35. Sue (London, ON)
    June 1, 2009 at 8:08 am

    It seems the food bank is the most popular choice for the $6+ and very much in need at this time. So, if you could set up a pay pal thing for all of us to match the $6, I wondered if you could have that Grade 8 class deliver the cheque and while they’re there, help out at the food bank as well?

  36. Becky and the Beanstock
    June 2, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Buy heirloom seeds — $6 will buy a lot of seeds, especially from a group like Seed Saver’s Exchange, which makes a point of making charitable dollars go further. So get as many heirloom seeds as you can — then donate them to a community garden, or give them to a school garden (maybe the school where the original $6 came from). Enlist a teacher to teach the garden stewards to plant and save seed — so that this becomes a $6 that truly multiplies itself, forever and ever. The food can be used in so many wonderful ways — teaching kids about biodiversity in the food supply, or becoming a donation to a food pantry. Or having a community party with the food from the plot, and thus teaching people who might not cook to do so, and to enjoy it.

    I love the looks of the bison burger, by the way. Really makes me wish i ate meat…

  37. Sarah (Calgary)
    June 2, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I have an avocado sitting on my counter and now know what to do with it. Thanks for the grat idea. With $6 I would buy stamps and send handwritten letters to our troops oversees thanking them for the work they are doing. Many of these men and women don’t have a lot of family support and a letter from home can mean so much.

  38. JulieVR
    June 2, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Wow, such great ideas you guys – thanks!

    Elizabeth – great idea about the soup – unfortunately Soup Sisters does their soups in inspected kitchens – I don’t think they would take something homemade.

    Tagyn – it would take some coordinating with the school to pull this off, and a willingness to do so on their end, which might be tough during the last few weeks of school! There is a certain level of paranoia about bake sales and the like out there – I’m not sure they’d accept baking from a stranger either!

    I’m going to go through all of these and come up with a plan tomorrow!

  39. JulieVR
    June 2, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Kathy – I totally was at the Superstore at 8:30 Saturday morning!! You should have said hi! I was trying to hide though – I ran out the door at 7am when my mom called from the airport saying she forgot her pills – I pulled on the same clothes from the day before and ran to her house to get them.. then figured while I was out I might as well get stuff for the barbecue (did you notice the hot dogs??) while I was alone and beat the rush! I don’t think I had even looked in a mirror yet…

  40. Carol SB
    June 3, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Better late than never?
    How about bus tickets… $6 won’t buy a whole booklet, but gets you partway.
    It’s my understanding that folks like Inn from the Cold, CUPS and the Y have connections for folks who are looking for a job. So somebody can train on community computers, etc… then get a job interview. But how does a job candidate get there with no transportation? That’s where the bus ticket you donated comes in.
    I also love the idea of donating to the food bank.

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