Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yet Another Package Update

Exciting news, there is an update on Mom's package on the Canada Post site tonight.  Apparently it arrived in Richmond at 6:27 am today and then arrived in Victoria at 6:29 am (I guess Canada Post can bend the time/space continuum to get stuff to places quickly).

So my guess is that the package will arrive at Mom's house on Wednesday Dec 28.  I sure hope so.

Fire! Feu!

Yes, "Fire! Feu!" is what our fancy smoke detectors in Canada say.  Everything needs to be bilingual, even if it's irritating.  And it was a "Fire! Feu" morning here on Coleridge Avenue.  It was my annual potato pancake breakfast event and that always involves the smoke alarm, at least the way I make potato pancakes.

This pancake is the traditional Irish pancake made presumably in Ireland.  It's not the potato latke thingy or hash browns that so many people think I'm making when I talk about potato pancakes.  No, this is a recipe from my childhood.  Perhaps the reason I don't remember the "Fire! Feu" noise as a child is because my safety-conscious parents didn't have smoke detectors.  Or because my mother had the right pan or technique, that's also a possibility.

Anyway, here's how I make them - I start by boiling 3 or 4 potatoes until they're soft.  Drain the water, mash the potatoes, then add about a cup of flour.

The dough is pretty hot at this time, so wait for a few minutes.  Take a large spoon and scoop out some dough, form it into a ball.  Sprinkle flour on the surface you'll use to roll out the pancake, and take a little flour and coat the outside of the dough ball.  Roll it out using a rolling pin and then lift into the skillet.

In a skillet, already heated at medium-high, it should take about 5 minutes per side.  You'll know the pancake is done on each side when the pancake starts to rise a little.

After a few pancakes, at least at my house, the smoke alarm goes off.  So I always keep an extra pan handy so I can keep going.

Good thing I have my nice new frying pans from mom, they are so easy to clean up even after two of them were subjected to my cooking.  Thanks mom!

And look, the finished product on the pretty Fiesta chartreuse plate, with the tell-tale signs of potato pancakes - those little spots that must be bits of potato.  Serve with a little butter like below.  My brother Steven and I also like to add peanut butter.  Yummy yummy.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Package Update

Well some good news on the Christmas package tracking.

1.  Auntie Jan and Uncle Dave's package arrived on Christmas Eve!  I hope Uncle Dave has a big smile when he opens up his little package from me.  If not, the gift inside the package will help him smile.  I am still laughing about buying this one.  I hope Uncle Dave finds it as funny as I do.

2.  Mom's package is totally lost.  The tracking site says it was received by the post office, but nothing further.  My guess is that the lady at the Canada Post counter was so mesmerized by me (or perhaps Kim, who was with me when I sent the packages) that she decided to keep the box herself, hoping for something wonderful for herself for Christmas.

I attribute the quick delivery on the Idaho package to the US Mail service, which is clearly more efficient than ours.  Canada Post apparently couldn't even get it on a truck from the station to the postal sorting place.

More updates later.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

First Annual Christmas Eve at Auntie P's House

Today was a big day, the First Annual Christmas Eve at my house.  Lots to do to get ready.

Daisy had a bath this morning at Metro Hound, so she is extra pretty!  Here she is just finishing the bath, waiting to get under the blow dryer.  She doesn't look happy, but trust me, she seemed to enjoy herself.  It's non-stop cookies while she's there.

I spent most of the afternoon getting ready for my visitors, and setting up a Christmas Eve buffet for everyone to enjoy.

Noah and Kim arrived first, and they liked the look of the Christmas Eve buffet:

I made a gingerbread house kit, it was fun but I am far from talented at decorating.  It just takes too long.  The result fits well with my motto, "finished is better than perfect".

While we waited for Tuner to arrive, Noah and Mommy kept busy watching for Santa on the Norad tracking site.  Noah found the site to be a very helpful way to follow Santa's progress on Christmas Eve.

Noah's Grandma arrived and although Noah was mesmerized by the Sound of Music movie in the background, he agreed to pose for a group photo:

It was a nice night.

I am upset that my packages haven't arrived yet in Idaho or in Victoria.  True, I sent them pretty late, but still, I keep tracking the packages on the online tracking site and they're not arriving.  In fact, the one to Victoria shows it as being received by the post office, but nothing else.  Next year as part of my "more meaningful" plan, I'll have to do better sending things on time.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Lots of love!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Drinks with my dear friend Brad

Today I worked only in the morning, and then I met my dear friend Brad for lunch.  We worked together at Ontario Power Generation and he is a gem.

I keep forgetting to take pictures!  I meant to take one during lunch.  But I forgot.  We went to an old favourite in Yorkville called Sassafraz.  During the Toronto Film Festival, this restaurant is a great one for people watching, as there are lots of movie stars in the vicinity.

Brad's full name is Bradley Cooper and we often laugh about his being confused with that other Bradley Cooper.  So since I forgot to take a picture of my friend Brad, here's a photo of the other one.  I think Brad would approve.

Interesting story about the restaurant, in 2006 a fire broke out in the restaurant and it was destroyed.  It was rebuilt and now it looks pretty much identical to the old one - it's still a single-story, yellow restaurant.

I'll try to remember to take some pictures tomorrow night at the first annual "Christmas Eve Picnic at Auntie P's" event.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More Christmas Events!

Tonight, no photos, but an update.  I was out for drinks after work with my dear friends Nives and Vince. We went to a great place near our office, called Canyon Creek.

It's great spending time with my friends, but I am growing a little weary with all of the festivities, shopping and preparation - I can't wait to have a few days off to do nothing.

I want to join the Who's down in Whoville (in the photo below, from The Grinch) as they sing joyfully about their Christmas spirit, without all the shopping and craziness.  I rambled on to Kim about this idea this very morning, about finding more meaning in Christmas.  Next year, I am going to try something different.  Not sure what yet, but something more meaningful and simple.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are so beautiful!  I received a very special one today from my Auntie Jan and Uncle Egore Dave, with a gift card inside!  And for the Home Depot, to boot - if there's one place I shop often, it's the Home Depot.  I try to give Lowe's a little business too, just to even it out, but HD is my home away from home on the weekends.  Thank you Auntie Jan and Uncle Dave!

I have been putting up my favourite cards on the hallway wall, so that I can enjoy them every time I walk by.  Here's how it looks as of today:

Today was a short day at work, we had our team Christmas party this afternoon at a local hotel.  It was quite pleasant, the space was warm and pretty.  The place we went to is called The Library, and it's in the nearby Royal York hotel.  Nice!  

I'm relaxing now and enjoying my favourite tea from The White House in Waterdown, and waiting for my new favourite show to start at 10:00 pm.  Revenge is a guilty pleasure - kind of reminds me of some of the prime time soaps from the 80's.  

Thursday night will be the big cleanup, getting ready for Kim and Noah to visit on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Noah's Christmas Cruise with Santa

Today was exciting, Kim, Noah and I went on a Christmas Cruise with Santa!  It was Noah's first cruise and he was a trooper.  Here is Noah waiting at our table for his turn to meet Santa:

We waited for a little while, time for Noah to have some fun with Auntie P:

The ship sailed very close to the city, lots to look at:

Santa was very nice, and Noah had a good visit.  Here they are:

After a very successful visit with Santa (Noah and Santa sang "Jingle Bells" together), Mommy and Noah departed the ship.

Bert and Peggy

These two are such good friends.  This is a typical repose, the two of them cuddling.  Peggy often has her paws around Bert.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Windows - Final Reno of 2011

I am pretty tired of renos!  I need a couple of years to get interested again, it has been a lot of work.  I ordered some windows in August and if you can believe it, they were just installed today.  They will be coming back to fix the outside, I'm not happy with the the aluminum capping installation.  But it is nice to have them in, now all of the windows upstairs have been replaced.

Here's the before in the dining room, it was the original window from 1951, the year the house was built.

And here's the new one, it's frosted so I don't have to look at the house next door.  It's a casement, opening up on the side towards the front of the street.

And there's a new kitchen window, of course I forgot to take the before picture!  It's nice because it's a casement, but it's an awning style, so it opens up a little from the bottom.  I like it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Auntie P Is Not Welcome Here

Noah calls me "Auntie P".  This week, Kim and Noah called me to tell me some important information.

They were shopping for groceries at Loblaws, and Noah noticed a sign as they returned to their car.  When they returned home they called and Noah told me that I wasn't allowed to shop at Loblaws.  When I asked why, he told me that he saw a sign with the letter "P" on it, with a circle and line through it.   Isn't he clever?  He's clearly learning his alphabet.

Kim took a picture - it's dark but you can see him in the dark pointing up at the sign indicating that I'm not welcome at Loblaws!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Thanks Mom for the Pots and Pans set

What to do with all of the sweet potatoes from the Leslieville Market share this week?  Every Sunday morning Kim and I meet at the pickup point and get our "Market Mix", which is a little basket each of fresh vegetables, fruit and often eggs.  I have so many damn eggs right now in the fridge.  I gave a dozen to my neighbour Beth yesterday, and still have 4 dozen to use.

Tonight I decided to make a tasty soup, using the sweet potatoes I received in my mix yesterday.  I found this recipe for a curried sweet potato soup, and whipped it up.

Thank goodness I had my lovely soup pot from the set Mom gave me for my Christmas present.  Thanks again Mom, it's such a great set.

The soup turned out beautifully.  I don't like alcohol in food or dessert so I skipped the rum from the recipe.  I used yogurt and tried to make a little snowflake for the picture, that did not work out as you can see.  But isn't my pretty Fiesta cream soup bowl nice?

Quiet Weekend

Daisy and I had a nice quiet weekend.  Friday afternoon was the Christmas party with my team, I took them out for Christmas lunch to La Maquette.  Everyone seemed to have a nice time.  The food was amazing, but the ambiance was not that great.

Saturday was a cleanup day, and Sunday, I just wrapped and wrapped (see below for my effort so far).  Much more to do, but it's a start.

Had a nice visit from Kim and Noah who came by for dinner, and we watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Noah's 4th Birthday Party

It was Noah's 4th birthday party today.  Big day, so Daisy and I went first to get her a bath and a party collar.  Here she is at the dog wash place on the drying side of the setup, she doesn't look that happy but she's actually great while being washed.

And then with her party collar on, you can see how nice and shiny she looks.  She smells good too, they have doggie cologne at the dog washing place so she tried some today.  Nice smelling Daisy.

Back to the party.  Here's a pre-party picture of Kim and Noah.  When I arrived, Grandma and Talika were at the party too, and we waited for Leah, Ela, and Jonah to arrive.

The cake was ready to go.  And for a little guy who is obsessed with police and firemen, what's the ideal cake?  Yes, that's right, an armed robbery-themed birthday cake.  Perfect for a 4-year old.  Kim went to a lot of trouble to put the bank and ATM at the back-right of the cake, and then the police surrounding the bad guys.  You can see the police cars driving up to arrest the two bad guys, complete with tiny green bills coming out of their backpacks.

Noah got lots of great gifts including some Lego and Megabloc kits, which Talika and Leah immediately opened and started putting together.  My gift to Noah was a picnic quilt - here he is looking at it for 5 seconds before returning back to the toys:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Vacation of 2012 - Booked

Did I mention how much I loved my visit to Washington DC?  So much that when I returned, I talked Kim into taking a trip with me to DC in the spring, timed to be there for the blossom festival.  Not that it was a hard sell, Kim and I are both CNN junkies and we're obsessed with US politics.  (Which, let's face it, are vastly more interesting than Canadian politics, right?)

So, watch for more updates on this trip.  We are leaving the morning of Monday April 2, and returning Thursday evening, April 5.  The hotel is booked, it's just a block or two from the White House.  !!!!  (I still can't believe I talked Kim into staying at the Sofitel.  :)   )

Next up, booking the flights this week.  After that, we need to plan our itinerary.  We both want to see the Newseum, and a tour of the Capitol building.  I want to spend some time at the Smithsonian, and Kim wants to get to the International Spy Museum.  And we're planning a trip to Georgetown so Kim can get to DC Cupcakes

Christmas Preparation - Step 1: Get a Tree

Kim and I decided to get our trees early this year, so we went to our favourite place, Fiesta Farms last Saturday.   We each bought a Fraser Fir - mine is about 6 feet, Kim's is about 7 feet.

Here's the before - the photo's not that great, not sure why.  Did I forget the flash?  Hmmm...

And then, after I did the lights twice (had to go and get more lights) and about 4 hours of pulling pretty decorations from boxes, here it is - again with the not so great photo:

You can still see the boxes in the background.  I really need to organize the ornaments this year.  Anyway, there are 900 mini white lights on the tree, and a gazillion glass ornaments.

After a few weeks there will be less than a gazillion ornaments, as the cats have their way with the bottom of the tree.  They always manage to smash a few, or Daisy does with her tail.

Still, it's mighty pretty, and worth the effort I think.

On now to step 2: get the presents organized!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meeting Bill Clinton!!

Could it be any more exciting!  I just shook Bill Clinton's hand and got the legendary hand on the shoulder from him too.

Of course before this amazing event, I had to buy a wristband and then wait outside in the freezing cold in a huge lineup for two hours this afternoon.  Had I done a bit more planning, I would have brought a coat.  There were lots of women primping in the line, and at least a few expat Americans.

All of this in support of Clinton's new book, which of course was the whole point of the event.  As part of the purchase, I received a copy of the book and Bill signed it!  Unfortunately we weren't allowed to ask for a personalized inscription, which I guess would have been tough for him given that there were about 1,000 people in line and he shook hands with each person and then signed each book.

Security was pretty tight, there was private security, Toronto police, and secret service people all over the place.

Here's a photo of the inside of my book!

And the invite from Indigo:

Tula My Love

Don't tell anyone, but Tula really is my favourite.  She's such a pretty kitty, and has become cuddly over the years, though she didn't start out that way.  I adopted her from a lane downtown, where she was living outside, about 10 years ago.  She's a cutie - here are a couple of pictures of her sticking out her tongue at me.

Sleep Study

How exciting, a blog post about my sleep study at St. Michael's.  I have had this booked for months, and it was time to go in for the test, just a couple of nights after returning from vacation.

It was not as bad as I thought it would be - there were lots of cords and wires, but the room was clean and quiet, and the lab technicians were super nice.

Caribbean Cruise - Not So Hot

Well I don't have a lot to show for this trip.  Honestly, this part of my vacation was disappointing.

We left Baltimore and travelled two days to Puerto Rico, then on to St. Thomas, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.  Yes, I did say Haiti, the cruise line has a private island just off Haiti.

The ship was kinda shabby, tired, and a little worn and dirty in places.  I'm all for old people, after all, mom and my Uncle Dave are pretty old, but the ship was full of 70-year-olds with scooters, walkers, and oxygen tanks.  It was a bit much, I was truly concerned about how I would get to the lifeboats in an emergency without jumping over all of the apparatus in use everywhere.

The food and service were great.  But, it was constant upselling on drinks and more, and of course every place we went to visit we were definitely targets of locals who must wait for cruise lines to dock.  I just didn't enjoy it.

I had been looking forward to seeing St. Thomas and doing some shopping, but again with the hard sell from the locals and I just found it unpleasant.  The prices were not that great so I didn't end up buying anything at all.

These pictures are of St. Thomas - but what you can't see are the parrots in dirty cages just below the line of the image - it was too depressing to take the photo.  I guess the only wildlife remaining in St. Thomas are in cages.

It's probably clear that I wouldn't recommend this trip to anyone.

Washington DC!

What a thrill it was to visit Washington DC.  It was by far the highlight of my vacation.

I started out in Baltimore, staying at Henderson's Wharf Inn.  It was a nice little boutique hotel, and I had a cozy pretty room.  As soon as I checked into the hotel, I booked a train to Washington.  Nice train!  It was called Acela and I guess it's the high speed train that travels along the corridor between Boston and Washington DC.   I'm definitely taking this train again - fantastic way to travel.  I travelled from Baltimore to Union Station in Washington in just over 30 minutes - nice.

In Washington I had pre-booked a trolley bus tour and I picked it up from Union Station.  The tour went all over the place and here were some highlights.

The Capitol Building:

The Washington Monument:


The Jefferson Memorial:

A nice hotel near the White House:

Washington was beautiful, there was so much to see.  Kim and I are talking about a trip to DC for a few days to see the Blossom Festival, and visit the Smithsonian, Newseum, and so many other places.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Ok I'm a bit behind on blogging.  But tonight I arrived home from work and Daisy was sporting a new Halloween bandana!  How adorable, here she is, rolling around in the garden looking for a tummy rub.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Monday - What A Day!

The weather is still holding on here, and the Cana Lilies and Hibiscus are still in bloom in the garden.  It's hard to believe, it's October!

Tula and all of the kitties had such a wonderful time outside.  Even Tipsy got into the fun, she is an avid butterfly chaser although happily she never actually catches one.

I spent part of the afternoon making a new recipe I found online, potatoes au gratin.  I mixed the cheese, adding some jarlsberg and swiss in with the cheddar.  

Dinner was complete with Lesley and Catherine bringing lentil salad, butternut squash soup, and stuffing... oh and some turkey!

And another picture of my dear friends Lesley and Catherine - only 9 days until they move to the UK.  :(