Islands in the Glass

I remember when my backyard looked like this:

garden pic

Memories…

 

 

At least, I think I do. Here we are, a full week into “spring”, and all I see when I look out into my backyard is this:

back yard is this really spring Mar 27'15

Noooooo!

Fortunately, I found a little antidote to my prolonged-winter-induced crankiness via Smitten Kitchen: The Consolation Prize Mocktail. It’s described as a blend of a mojito and a pina colada. (I’m not a fan of mint unless it’s on its own or with chocolate, so I left that out.)

The Consolation Prize ingredients

The Consolation Prize with ice

The Consolation Prize full glasses

The Consolation Prize pouring

The Consolation Prize cheers!

Slainte! Turns out this wasn’t a hit with Teeny Man, so this poorly-timed shot captures his imminent disappointment.

Ahh…a taste of the tropics! It made me feel all summery and like it was time to dig out the sunscreen:

"Suntan lotion is good for me! "

“Suntan lotion is good for me! “

I remain hopeful that tomorrow will be a little warmer, or at least snow-free. If all else fails, I’ve got more pineapple juice on standby…

Lily

 

 

Beware the End of March (Break), Part 2

After two days of driving (being a passenger wears me out!), I was quite happy to spend Wednesday at home. As luck would have it, the library’s theme of the day was birds, and so we were able to have three days in a row of all creatures great and small! The morning session had us learning about feathers and matching feathers to birds. Then, we made a bird craft:

peregrine falcon craft Mar 18'15

Teeny Man’s favourite bird: the peregrine falcon

 

 

 

 

 

The afternoon session kicked it up a notch and had real birds from the Ontario Specialized Species Centre: a hawk, a peregrine falcon, a snowy owl, and a great horned owl:

Photo

I got to pet a great horned owl!

Fun fact: Hedwig is a female in the Harry Potter novels, but in the films, they use a male. Only male snowy owls are white. The females are brown to blend in to their filthy, ground-level nests (this guys sure knows how to keep a young audience’s attention: talk about POOP!).

Thursday saw us on the road again (cue Willy Nelson now), but this time we were headed to the nation’s capital, Kanata! Wait…I mean, Ottawa!

“Beg pardon, Sir, but I think the word he used…I think it really means those houses down there.” “No, believe me: I know the word. It means ‘nation’ and Ca-na-da is its name.” “But I’m sure it means the houses…the village.”

This was Teeny Man’s first stay in a hotel (no Super 8 tonight, sweetie!), and there was even a children’s pool. We were the only people there save for a couple of people swimming laps. I had seen lots of kids earlier on in the lobby, so I think all the big kids were at tournaments when we were swimming. Score!  (pun absolutely intended)

On Friday, we went to the Parliament building. Then we wandered down to the ByWard Market. It was very chilly, so we popped into the Moulin de Provence bakery, famous for its Obama cookies (guys, he ate a red frosted maple leaf-shaped shortbread there!). At first, Teeny Man wanted a green Easter egg cookie, but then he changed his mind and got an Obama cookie. ‘Murica! Marshall opted for a chocolatine (a chocolate filled croissant-like object), and I had a croissant aux amandes that was loaded with marzipan and why can’t we just eat marzipan all day long, every day, marzipan, marzipan, marzipan…..wait, what just happened? ;)

I also popped into Heaven, aka Tea Store. I picked up two of my favourites: Queen Mary (a stout black tea) and this one:

Photo

Afternoon Skate: “A delightful sweet and spicy blend of cinnamon, vanilla, coriander, caramel, and almond”

A dear friend of mine gave me some a few years ago, and it was so delightful that I have thought about it ever since.

On our way back to the car, I spotted some very strange sculptures outside the British High Commission:

Photo

I am the Egg Man….woooo!

A little tree stump, tree, and shrub with legs and feet. They both frightened me and made me feel like I was in an Alice adventure (which, come to think of it, is also frightening…).

It’s no secret to Marshall that my favourite pastime on long drives is napping. This time, however, I brought my crocheting with me and started and finished a very cute little project that I will be giving Vinda tonight. I missed him a lot and was so happy to see him again today.

Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto!

 

 

On Saturday and Sunday, Marshall continued working on our family room renovation. We had a leak in the roof, and removed the drywall to uncover some mould. It has since been cleaned up and reinsulated. Drywall is now up and ready to be mudded and taped!

drywall up mar 22'15

No more nicotine-stained drywall!

So, here we are. We have come to the end of the March Break. Lunches are packed, and I am preparing myself to head back to work tomorrow. I know it’s a blessing to have had this time off with my family, but I would be fibbing if I said I was chomping at the bit to head back to class. Hey, wouldn’t you know? I can relate to teenagers! Well, at least on this matter, anyway. :)

I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight…

Lily

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the End of March (Break), Part 1

March Break was a whirlwind this year. Only one day, plunked smack down in the middle, was spent at home.

On Monday, we headed to the Metro Zoo. Even after leaving the Durham region, we kept up our membership because it pays for itself after only two visits. It’s open 364 days a year, so we make trips in every season. Getting there right when it opens is the best because just as we’re leaving, the incredibly long line must feel like this:

The afternoon was spent celebrating Marshall’s birthday (belated) with our Durham family. We also went to Costco and purchased an obscenely large container of mixed nuts and a giant block of cheese. Mmm, health food! Vinda left for his skiing adventures with his dad.

Tuesday was a Toronto Adventure day. We started our day at…

Photo

I had never been there before (or so I thought…more on that later…), and Teeny Man *loves* all things animalia, so we were thrilled to see:

Photo

6 day-old twin Cotswold lambs

Photo

Posing by the quiet goats is easier. Mama Cotswold bleated so loudly when we entered the barn that he did not want his picture taken by the lambs.

 

 

This little gem is tucked into a very lovely neighbourhood in Cabbagetown, and it’s FREE! We didn’t even get to see everything it has to offer, as much of it was closed off due to icy pathways. When I told my mom about our trip, she informed me that that wasn’t my first visit to the farm. In fact, I was about 2 or 3 when I went there with her, she told me. It was the first time I saw a black person, apparently. (I am from a very white town, which, over 30 years ago, was even whiter, so please excuse what I said as an “out of the mouths of babes from very white towns” moment.) Fortunately for my mom, the man was out of earshot when I noticed him and exclaimed incredulously, “Mommy! That man is made of chocolate!” Oh, my.

Our next adventure was walking to The Second City to see a children’s production: Big Bad Wolf Vs Lord Underwearface Von Schtinker. It was a hilarious production that included some improv with the audience, and given the average age was about 8, you can imagine that those bits involved boogers and nose-picking.

What we weren’t expecting, however, was the Adventure En Route from A to B. Our google pedestrian map had us cut through a park where we discovered this:

Photo

Allen Gardens Conservatory-a wonderful respite during a cold and blustery walk

I had no idea this place even existed! Everywhere we turned, there was another room full of plants, cacti, trees, even some little turtles.

Photo

Photo

Photo

PS Happy St Patrick’s Day!

I almost forgot that it was not quite spring, and still very cold outside. It was lovely to smell hyacinth in full bloom!

More fun and adventures to come! Stay tuned…

 

 

 

Start anytime

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Eve. Even in my imbibing years, the idea of heading out in the freezing cold to celebrate the Day Before Any Other Day just wasn’t my idea of a good time. To me, September has and always will be the start of a new year.

Way better than Auld Lang Syne.

Anyway, with the dawn of 2015 comes the onslaught of gym ads et al. luring we overindulgers away from the gluttony of the holidays and toward our newer, healthier selves. I did that once a couple of years ago, and somehow actually managed to stick with a program for 3 months!

p90x-psycho-pushups-o

I *might* not be able to do these.

It started with a mattress motivating moment. We had to move our bed for a renovation and I couldn’t even lift the edge of the mattress off the floor. That made me MAD. I decided right then that I needed to change.

For me (and I would hazard a guess, many), finances and accessibility were two important factors in what and where I was going to start building physical activity into my lifestyle.

Some ventures to get fit and healthy are very expensive. The above program was over $100, plus the cost of a few sets of free weights and resistance bands. I saw that as an investment in my health, and when I spread the cost over the three months of the program, it was still cheaper than a gym membership.

My default state is quasi-sloth and cold, so any activity I do needs to happen close to home and out of the elements, or I will think up every excuse not to leave the house and be active. So, home programs are definitely up my alley. Bonus: no one can watch me when I’m exercising in my living room.

Once I finished that program, I thought I was set. I bought a couple of more feasible programs (for only $10 per dvd!) that are only 30 minutes per workout (the 90-day program was between 60-90 minutes per workout, which is NOT feasible for me to keep up forever). I was now going to be fit forever! New behaviours become habits after 21 days (or something like that), right? WRONG. Life can always get in the way. Fast forward a year, and just when I should have been using exercise as an antidote to a huge stress in my life, I let it go.

1120biggestloser2

But I didn’t let the lapse continue. I let that go and started fresh. I didn’t get hung up on what gains I had lost, and instead decided to focus each day on how I felt so much better mentally even though I wasn’t as fit or a strong as I once had been. I’m not big on motivational speakers, but I often think of this gem of Jillian Michaels':

Okay, so here is my point:  never mind that it is January (or whatever month you may be reading this). If you have had that motivating “mattress” moment and want to change your lifestyle to include physical activity, figure out what is financially and logistically feasible for you, and start.

Sew what?

Way back when I was in school, one of my classmates and fellow floormates had a really uncomfortable mattress. These mattresses were likely as old as the building, a former nursing college residence. Fortunately for her, there were some empty rooms down the hall. We suggested she simply swap mattresses with one from another bed. “I can’t do that!” she exclaimed. “I’ll feel bad for my mattress.” This was met with peals of laughter and much mocking; however, I got her. I knew exactly how she felt. I had always been a bit of a pack rat, and couldn’t bring myself to part with much (this means that I still have some pretty sweet bits of story-writing from circa 1989, which perhaps I’ll share later). So, she kept her lumpy mattress, and I held onto my notes from that year at school for a lot longer than I care to admit. You never know: you might need to know the innervations of the brachial plexus some day.

It seems as though I have passed along my sympathy for inanimate objects to my little one. We were going through his t-shirts, pulling out everything that was too small. “No, Mommy! Can we keep the green one (his favourite colour) and my Superhero Squad t-shirt?” I felt his pain. Those poor shirts were about to be abandoned! So, I went to trusty Google and looked up “how to make a t-shirt pillow”. It appeared as though this would be a sewing machine job. Oh, no. I can hold my own with a needle and thread, but I had yet to have used a sewing machine. I put in a call to my mom, and she came to my rescue with a sewing machine tutorial. That Singer of hers is still kicking 36 years after she received it as a wedding gift from her parents:

Should I have asked for harvest gold instead?

Should I have asked for harvest gold instead?

Pillow #1 was the green t-shirt. My mom did most of the work on this one, as you can see:

Mom took Home Ec in school

Mom took Home Ec in school

Pillow #2 I did on my own. I wish I could say that the reason my stitches on the first side look like this:

I, on the other hand, did *not* take Home Ec.

I, on the other hand, did *not* take Home Ec.

…because I had been drinking. Alas, no. I forgot to put the foot down to hold the fabric in place.

So the second side should look a bit better, right?

Seriously? Get it together, woman.

Seriously? Get it together, woman.

Nope. Oh, right, the foot.

In the end, he was quite pleased to see his shirts alive and well (and cuddlier than before!). I was quite pleased to finally get that bag of fibre-fill out of the family room (“Mommy, are you going to make my t-shirt pillows soon?”)

Snuggle time!

Snuggle time!

I think next time I pull out the sewing machine, I’ll practise making straight lines on fabric that doesn’t s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

Baby steps, Kitten, baby steps.

Baby steps, Kitten, baby steps.

The 20-Metre Diet, or, Salad Days

20-metre diet salad aug 31'14

I have romanticized notions of how lovely it would be to be a self-sufficient farmer: enjoying the sunshine and a hard day’s work, then coming inside to enjoy the fruits of my labour. The reality is, I enjoy the sunshine more when I’m not doing any hard work, so my garden has spent most of the summer looking like this:

What weeds? I don't see any weeds.

What weeds? I don’t see any weeds.

Summer was not nearly as hot and sunny as I would have liked, although all the rain meant that I really got off the hook with watering. That played well into my lazy hand, but the subsequent weed bounty did not.

I was super-excited to have purchased what was labeled as cilantro at the farmers’ market this spring. Turns out, it was flat-leaf parsley!

Okay, so no Thai-inspired cooking after all...no big deal...

Okay, so no Thai-inspired cooking after all…no big deal…

But thanks to the fact that I have poor spatial sense, I planted an enormous number of cherry tomato plants. Also, I was late getting pickling cucumbers at the market (SOLD OUT!), so I have two English cucumber plants that have been generously producing yummy cukes. The garden is actually on my neighbour’s lawn, and he very kindly shares it with me. He has planted some sweet onions that are quite tasty.

As it turns out, this lazy, non-romantic “farmer” was able to produce a fantastic “20-Metre Diet” salad thanks to a quick search on google for cherry tomato-cucumber salads. The great thing is, I actually got to use some of that parsley that I have been giving the stink-eye all summer.

20-metre diet salad aug 31'14

So many cherry tomatoes, so many cankers.

So there you have it, a romantic salad, created solely from produce straight from my garden: cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sweet onion, and yes, flat-leaf parsley. Now that’s what I call salad days.

A conscious recoupling

Oh no not you again doormat Aug 29'14

Nice to see you, too.

“They say that absence makes the heart grow fungus.”-Barenaked Ladies

Hello, again. It’s been a while. Really I just couldn’t be bothered to blog for the last couple of years. And now, I feel like doing it again. So there you have it.

Gavin & Elliott Aug 22'14

Even without standing on the pillar, they have grown a lot in the last three years!

In fact, it has been so long that I couldn’t remember my password to get into it to add anything new. I can’t believe how the boys have grown. I can’t believe that I used to get up and run. Now I basically run twice a year to get a couple of cool shirts and to say that I can run a 5K. How’s that for materialism and vanity?

On Tuesday, Marshall and I were in Toronto to see a Second City show. I kept seeing funny t-shirts and signs and taking pictures of them. The very first one I saw was surely created specifically for me:

Note that the apology comes after eating

Note that the apology comes after eating

 

My favourite sign was this one:

The question is: Who is the Most Annoying Crane?

The question is: Who is the Most Annoying Crane?

 

Which of course reminded me of my favourite line from Frasier:

Poppity, pop-pop-pop!

Poppity, pop-pop-pop!

It’s fun to write again. And fiddling with code to insert photos and GIFs makes me feel like I’m a super-smart computer programmer.

Until next time,

Lily