Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baked goodies for my Piglet

I'm spending this Canada Day long weekend in Vancouver.  My flight leaves Thursday afternoon and I'll arrive in time for a late dinner with my family - which includes our newest addition, GMC, aka Baby Boy.

My Piglet was apparently having some trouble adjusting to not being the centre of attention anymore, which I could sympathize with as the eldest child, if only I remembered what it felt like at 17 months when my sister was first born. 

I've spent the last couple nights baking - chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies favoured by my Piglet and coconut berry scones for my sister.  I used frozen blueberries and strawberries in the latter which melted as they were mixed in my food processor, resulting in a rather wet dough.  The star- and heart-shaped scones were rather goo-y (left) but turned out reasonably well once baked (right).  I like to serve them with Devonshire cream and jam (mmmmmm) but my taste-test suggests that they're also fine as-is.

Soooo looking forward to cuddles with my Piglet and eskimo kisses with Baby Boy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

I finished Terry Fallis' The Best Laid Plans this morning, which turned out to be the perfect literary palate cleanser after reading Sarah Blake's The Postmistress and Peter Cameron's Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.

As is usually the case, I always feel the need for something light after reading a novel set in WWII - the third section of The Postmistress, Spring 1941, was particularly hard to read at some points as Frankie Bard, the intrepid radio broadcaster rode the trains through Nazi-occupied Europe to get the real truth about what was happening to the Jews. 

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You was a recommendation by Lainey.  The writing is smart and funny and it's set in Manhattan 2003 which was different enough for me but I still felt a little unsettled by the ending...it wasn't the "happy ending" I was looking for...so I browsed my bookcase and settled on The Best Laid Plans. Perfeito!

The Best Laid Plans had an unconventional start as a free weekly podcast by its author, Terry Fallis.  It's a book about, of all things, Canadian Federal politics and it's FUNNY!  SO FUNNY!  I know...it's totally weird for me to see politics and funny in the same sentence but it's true! Read it for yourself, or listen to the podcast here

From the back covers:
Terry Fallis got tired of waiting for a literary agent or a publisher to decide to take on his book.  So he recorded a reading of his novel, and released it, chapter by chapter, as a podcast.  People really liked it.  Encouraged by that reaction, he published the book on his own.  Again, people really liked it.

Then it won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, beating out major authors published by the big houses.  And people really liked that.
It's a satire on Canadian politics, especially the modern Ottawa version, and it's full of unforgettable characters and a story that will sweep you along.  Sex in the hallowed halls of Parliament, caucus manipulation, melon-throwing violence, culturally stunted engineers, chessboard battles, and even a personal hovercraft all feature in this plot.  Not to mention true love, and good guys winning.

In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts.  Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say - for example, that Emma Trask has come to marry the town's doctor, and that Harry Vale watches the ocean for U-boats.  Iris believes her job is to deliver secrets.  Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.

Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow.  Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly.  Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them.  But Iris and Emma and Frankie know better...

The Postmistress is a tale of tow worlds - one shattered by violence, the other willfully naive - and of two women whose jobs are to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so.  Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history's tide, it examines how we tell each other stories, and how we bear the fact of war as we live ordinary lives.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is the story of James Sveck, a sophisticated, vulnerable young man with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it.  James is eighteen, the child of divorced parents living in Manhattan.  Articulate, sensitive, and cynical, he rejects all of the assumptions that govern the adult world around him - including the expectation that he will go to college in the fall.  He would prefer to move to an old house in a small town somewhere in the Midwest.  Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You takes place over a few broiling days in the summer of 2003 as James confides in his sympathetic grandmother, stymies his canny therapist, deplores his pretentious sister, and devises a fake online identity in order to pursue his crush on a much older coworker.  Nothing turns out how he'd expected.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hot and cold

So, I've been into hot yoga in a big way the last couple months and today was the first class I took that wasn't hot and let me tell you: what a difference in my flexibility and practice!

I checked out The Yoga Sanctuary on The Danforth this morning with my Passport to Prana and they have a beautiful corner studio to practice in with the exposed brick, and warm hardwood floors.  Back to practice though - my body felt pretty tight to start which wasn't surprising first thing in the morning but even when I was "warmed up" I still felt tighter than I've normally been of late practicing in a hot studio.  Now, I'm not crazy about literally sweating buckets in practice and leaving the studio in clothes that are soaked through but I do love how amazingly chilled out and relaxed I feel after practice. 

Perhaps it's still early to say, but I'm beginning to think that once you go hot, you can't go back...

Perfect Saturday

How was your Saturday? I hope it was a good one as the weather was perfect.

I got up at 9am and was out the door an hour later for a good run through Harbourfront. The sun was shining and there was a lovely breeze off the lake, and given my fair-weather tendencies, I could not have asked for better weather. 

My plan for the afternoon was to check out a class at Downward Dog with my Passport to Prana but my neighbour invited me out for ice cream at Cool Hand Luc so ix-nay the yoga and yay for ice cream and what turned out to be a perfect Saturday because we just wandered through our neighbourhood:  We met up in the lobby at 1pm and headed out for ice cream.  Afterwards, we wandered down to Kensington Market for papusas at Emporium Latino - yes, that's right, dessert before lunch! - and then browsed in Good Egg for a bit and sighed over the beautifully designed cookbooks.  Then it was back to Queen West where we stopped in Jacob & Sebastian for some goodies en route to Dark Horse for lemonade (me) and coffee (neighbour).  While this is my 3rd full summer in the 'hood, I'd never stepped into either The Healthy Butcher or The Leslieville Cheese Market.  K had to pick up a few things for a BBQ later tonight so in we went and I ended up picking up a bottle of David's Special Steak Rub at the former which I plan to use on chicken breasts and a small block of Raspberry Bella Vitano, a firm almost parmesan-like cheese that was rubbed in raspberry ale at the latter.  Final stop of the day brought us nearly full-circle back on King West at Soma.  I really do love my neighbourhood and its fantastic food and retail options. :)  

Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening indoors.  I was feeling lazy about dinner so had a bagel with cream cheese and whipped up some scrambled eggs with chives and cheese.  Mmm.  Chives and cheese.  Now, I'm not usually one to have dessert at home on my own but I had a pint of strawberries in the fridge from last weekend that I'd forgotten about during the week and my all-time favourite yogurt, Liberte's Mediterranee Lemon (OMG SO GOOD!) so I thought, why not put them together?  The combo was freakin' awesome!  So easy and so tasty!

Perfect end to a perfect day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Going to Pot

I spent all afternoon gardening on my balcony - or, as my new English friend JD says, re-potting my new plants into larger/decorative containers.  I'd thought about not doing anything out there this year since it's basically a dustbowl thanks to the construction site I currently overlook, but the sight on the other side of my glass wall was just too depressing:

So I'm bringing in some old and new - I grew grape tomatoes and basil last year which made for yummy salads all summer long so they're back, but instead of grape tomatoes, I went with Romas.  And for flowers, I've gone with hydrangeas - "The Original" Endless Summer Bloom to be specific - just thinking about the gorgeous blowsy blooms to come makes me happy!

It took twice as long and as much soil as I thought it would to re-pot everything - in addition to the 2 hydrangeas, the tomato and basil, I also had to re-pot a newly-purchased jade plant and the money tree I got from Ikea a couple years ago, never mind the post-planting clean-up of debris, soil and dirt - oh the dirt!  I shudder at the memory of the thick layer of construction dust that had settled on the cover of my patio furniture.  Ewww.

Anyway, back to happy thoughts.  Here's what my balcony looks like now:
Left to right: sweet basil, roma tomato, hydrangea, and behind the glass, jade plant and money tree.

I'm not sure how acidic the soil is since that's what determines the colour of the hydrangeas - acidic soil yields blue blooms and alkaline yields pink.  I'm hoping for something in-between like these gorgeous purple ones, so will have to do a little research to figure out how to make it happen. So excited though!! :) 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


It's been awhile since I blogged but things have been crazy but not if that makes any sense.

Nothing earth-shattering to report here...taking a break from a problem in my financial model that I need to solve at work while Excel continues to vex me - I have a love/hate thing for Excel and right now the switch is flipped to hate.

Anyway, just realized that there's this one guy at work who 2x now in as many weeks has matched the colour of my dress with his polo shirt -completely coincidental. Silly observation, I know, but last week it was a deep lavender and today it's a dark taupe. That's all.

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