Thursday, December 31, 2009
2009 wasn't a great year for me, lots of stress due to house and health issues, and I, for one, am really looking forward to starting a new year tomorrow.
When I think of highlights, I think of going out on a boat tour with my Mother to see the Puffins off the coast of Nova Scotia. It may not seem like much of a highlight, but to me, to see the Puffins was an amazing experience, and I will never forget it.
My Mother came back to Toronto with me on the train to be here to celebrate my 40th birthday, and that is a highlight as well.
In July I got to help a friend meet one of his idols, Phil Collen of Def Leppard. I know what it's like to meet one of your rock n roll idols, and to be there to see Brian meet one of his was as much fun for me as him. Highlight definitely.
The health issue was a breast cancer scare, and scare me it did. I was one of the lucky ones, I didn't have it. The not knowing for the 6 weeks it took to find out were the longest of my life. I am truly grateful my news was positive.
Rob and I had a hard time house wise this year, the basement flooding in the summer numerous times was difficult on us, lots of stress. Then the stress of getting it fixed, and the financial difficulty caused even more stress, it was the summer of stress.
But one good thing about all the stressful times we went through this year, is that we learned we could really lean on each other in difficult times and pick each other up mentally. We learned to be a team this year more then any other, and knowing I have a real partner is a great feeling going into a new year.
I have loads to look forward to and work towards next year, and I'm really looking forward to 2010.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Last January 1st we started using a "counting coin jar". The idea for this jar was to save for something that we would like, but didn't necessarily need.
We didn't need a new TV, but we both wanted a new flat screen, so for close to a year we saved our loonies, toonies and quarters. We wrapped the coins this week, and had just over $700, enough to purchase a lovely Samsung 32 inch flat screen (perfect for our small living room) and get us hooked up with digital HD cable. Merry Christmas to us!!
We'll start using the jar again Jan. 1st. Next on the list, a new laptop computer.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Yesterday, Rob and I drove over to Kitchener for our first visit to the 13th annual "Christkindl Market", a four day festival of a German Christmas.
It was lovely. There were choirs singing Christmas carols, a live nativity scene, and lots of food and craft vendors. For lunch we had bbq'ed sausage on a bun with sauerkraut, and also some potato pancakes with applesauce.
We stocked up at the bakery buying lots of German Christmas cookies and stollen. We purchased a few other treasures, but our purchase of the day was definitely the authentic, handmade in Germany, Christmas Pyramid.
It is gorgeous, and we loved it on sight, as it is more a winter scene then Christmas, with lots of furry and feathered creatures. The attention to detail is amazing, and every time I look at it, I notice something else.
Why all the bother about German Christmas stuff? Rob's father immigrated to Canada when he was a young man, so this is part of Rob's heritage. I think it's important to keep your heritage and traditions in your life, especially at this time of year.
The pyramid we purchased together yesterday will become a treasured part of our Christmas's together, as will an annual trip to the Christkindl Market.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I am one of those lucky people who have never needed an alarm clock, I listen to my body, meaning I go to sleep when I'm tired and wake up when my body wakes up. I've been very lucky that this system has worked for me. I've always been an early riser, so being late for work was never an issue, because my body got use to waking up at the same time everyday, around 6AM, no matter what time I went to bed.
The system has a glitch. Rob changed shifts a few months back, and because he needed to get up at 4:30AM, we started setting the alarm clock. I started getting up with him, we have coffee together, I make our lunches, and it enabled me to get to work for 7AM, so I could leave earlier in the afternoon and avoid rush hours. Win-win situation.
The glitch? My body clock has adjusted itself, and I am now waking up just after 4AM ON WEEKENDS! This I am not so happy about, getting up this early on a weekend morning is even too early for this early bird. Saturday morning I was able to get back to asleep for another hour and a bit, this morning, no such luck.
I've already got supper in the slow-cooker, had my first coffee of the day and sent a few e-mails, and it's barely 6AM.
We were out to a movie last night, and didn't go to bed til just after 11PM. Five hours sleep is not enough for me to make it through the whole day, I see a nap in my future.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I find it rather interesting the things that stand out from my childhood Christmas memories, but this one doesn't just stand out, I'm able to carry it on.
My father worked for the same lumber company for most of my childhood life, and every year for Christmas the company gave them 3 things for Christmas; a turkey, a gift certificate for a grocery store, and a box of "Pot of Gold" chocolates.
Now, the first two things didn't interest me much, but the third one, well, that one always got my attention, not just because of my love of chocolate, but because it was wrapped.
Our Christmas tree was always up when Dad came home with these goodies and I remember rushing to the door to meet him when he got home from work to get the box of chocolates to place under the tree, it was always the first "gift" under the tree, and in my childhood mind came to mean something so much more, the official start of my Christmas season.
When I moved away from home, and had that first Christmas without my parents, it was just something I did, got a box of "Pot of Gold" for under the tree on tree trimming day and I've carried it on ever since.
Oh, the box of chocolates isn't always "Pot of Gold" now, as they were sold to Hersey a few years ago and the chocolates inside were changed, and not much to my liking, and the box of chocolates is only wrapped if it comes that way, but still, the official start to the Christmas season in my home is the day the tree goes up and I place a box of chocolates under it, as a reminder to me of my childhood, and a way to keep my family close at this special time, even if it's only in spirit.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Every year, Rob asks me for a few ideas of what to get me for Christmas, and I think of a few things that I would like and use, that I haven't gotten around to getting for myself.
I've been wanting an apron for a while, to protect my clothes while cooking and baking which I am doing more of now that Rob and I live together. I didn't want just any apron though, I wanted something cute and "girly", that I would enjoy wearing and look cute in!
I "Googled" aprons and found a lovely site, "Aprons by Julie". What a find! This was EXACTLY what I was looking for! I was so excited about finding these treasures I couldn't wait til Christmas and ordered one right away which arrived on Monday.
I love it! It's well made, I picked the design and colour, and she even embroidered my initial on the bib. I'm already thinking of ordering another one for myself!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Rob and I had a lovely week of vacation. We took the first week of November off last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to take it again this year and will probably continue to do so.
Our first full day off was Halloween and that is always a fun time around here, as we get into the spirit of things by dressing up and putting some decorations outside for the kids to enjoy. We had some friends over to take their son trick or treating, and spent some time outside chatting with the neighbors and enjoying way too many jello shooters.
Sunday morning we were off to beautiful Niagara on the Lake for the day and night. We did a bit of shopping, had a delicious dinner out and then went to Fort George for the last ghost tour of the season.
We spent the night at "Davy House", a beautiful and charming bed and breakfast that will see us as repeat customers. We stopped into a few shops in the morning and then headed home as we had plans that evening.
Monday night we went to our "bird store" owned by a couple we now call friends to help them decorate the store for the upcoming holiday season.
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at home mostly, except for running some important errands, like getting a new Christmas tree.
Thursday night we went to the "Jersey Boys" with a group of friends. We met for dinner before the show at Moxie's. Food was good, service was slow as our waiter was training someone. I wouldn't recommend doing that when you have a group that needs to be out at a certain time to catch the curtain call, but we all made it just in time. It was my third time seeing the show and Rob's second. I love the production and will see it at least one more time before the end of it's run.
Friday morning we had brunch at Cora's on our way to St. Jacob's for their "Sparkle Festival". The main street is beautifully decorated for the holiday season, the stores stay open later, many with specials and offering holiday treats like shortbread cookies and apple cider. We did lots of shopping and had dinner at Benjamin's before heading home.
Yesterday and today are spent at home getting ready for the return to the working world. I'm already looking forward to my two week break at Christmas.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I didn't know what to expect with the musical, "The Toxic Avenger", but I was pleasantly surprised! I laughed so much my belly hurt, it was silly and fun, but yet a good story.
I didn't know that this was a movie back in the 80's, and I heard after, not a good one, but the play looked like something I thought Rob would enjoy when I heard about it a couple months ago. I was able to get good seats for the Saturday preview show at a very decent price so we checked it out last night with a couple of friends and I'm so glad we did! I highly recommend it and wouldn't be surprised if we go see it again! The whole cast was incredible, the score was catchy and laughable, in a good way, and you'll be routing for "Toxie" the whole time.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Don't know what to do with all that leftover turkey? Here is my Turkey Barley Soup recipe.
6 Cups Chicken Broth (or homemade stock)
1-2 Cups diced Turkey (or chicken)
1/3 Cup Pearl Barley
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
2 Celery Stalks, sliced
3 Carrots, sliced
1-2 Bay Leaves
1 tsp Thyme
2 tsp dried Parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste.
Cook in slow cooker on low for 6 hours. I love my slow cooker!!
NOTES: When I made mine on Monday, I also added a whole turkey leg, all the meat fell off when the soup was done. Just remove the bones and skin, but I believe doing this added some extra flavor, and I will do this for now on.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Have you seen or heard about Simon's Cat? I've been a fan for awhile after discovering him on YouTube. I was thrilled when I was given the chance to review his upcoming book a couple months ago.
I had it sent to my office, but since I was home sick I didn't know if it had arrived or not. It has!! I went in to work today, first time in two weeks, but my boss sent me home and told me not to come back until I'm completely recovered from my illness, I looked that bad. Pneumonia takes a lot out of a girl!
At least now I have something to look forward to reading while home.
Look for my review in the next couple weeks!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I woke up last Wednesday morning feeling awful with a cold/flu type illness, or so I thought. After not feeling well all weekend I decided to go to the doctor yesterday. Good thing I did, turns out I have pneumonia.
So I'm home for the rest of the week from work and on antibiotics. I'm watching lots of TV, doing lots of reading and getting lots of rest.
I'm looking forward to being up and around and feeling good again. I chose to use a cartoon pic, because she looks a lot cuter then I do at the moment.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Mother Nature may not of been very nice to us this past summer, but she certainly gave us a lovely labour day weekend to enjoy and we took full advantage.
The last of the basement work was still going on and kept us home, but we spent lots of time in the backyard bbq'ing, enjoying drinks with friends, and we even got to enjoy some of the air show without leaving the yard. Rob took the picture above on Saturday afternoon.
Things are finally looking up, the basement is repaired, I have a new laundry room area in the basement, complete with a brand new dryer, and Rob and I have a nice little 2 day, one night getaway planned to celebrate his 40th birthday next week.
July and August may not of been the best of times for us, but the Fall is looking good.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
First trench dug to the main drain. It looks like a grave!
Second trench along the wall. My basement is a disaster zone.
Yesterday was the first day of the construction repairs to our basement.
They took out the drywall in the ceiling and dug up the main drain. I took a personal day from work because I was a little nervous about what was going to be going on here and how the noise would effect the family pets. The noise wasn't as bad as I expected, and I feel a little more comfortable about what's going on, though it's still going to be a long three weeks.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I love my slow cooker but my favorite day to use it is on Sunday. I get up in the morning, put the ingredients in and then have the rest of the day to do housework or run errands while supper is cooking.
Last night I made a Beef Stroganoff. I served it over hot buttered egg noodles with a side green salad. Lots of leftovers too!
* 1 1/2 pounds cubed stewing beef
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
* 1 package of sliced fresh mushrooms
* 1 tablespoon dried chives
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1 cube beef bouillon
* 1/2 cup red wine
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream or 1 8oz package of cream cheese and 8oz of sour cream
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. Place the beef in the bottom of a slow cooker, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place onion on top of beef, and then add mushroom soup, mushrooms, and water. Season with chives, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and bouillon.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the wine with the flour. Pour over the beef.
3. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours. Stir in the sour cream and parsley, and continue cooking for 1 hour.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
About four weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon when we were suppose to be having a backyard bbq with friends, Rob and I spent most of the day in the basement with a shop-vac he had to run out and buy. That was just the beginning of our "basement blues".
One rain storm and flood lead to more, and a bigger shop-vac lent to us by his Dad. After having a few different contractors come to inspect, we hired a company to find out what the problem is and fix it. That work begins this coming weekend.
The past few weeks haven't been a lot of fun. We've had a couple really bad storms, which meant really bad flooding again in the basement, I think we've been through it six times now, twice this past Sunday.
We had to clean out the basement completely before the work started, so we decided to get rid of most of what was down there. Gave a few things away on line, a trip to Goodwill and the rest is getting thrown out. We had talked about fixing up the basement a few years down the road, as there were other things we wanted to do around the house first, but with the flooding, the basement got put to the front of the line.
This past weekend Rob and his Dad tore down the wood paneling and the insulation behind it to get to the bare walls, and also the carpet and sub-floor. The basement looks like a dark hole now.
It's a fair size room and one day it will make a great rec-room type area. Our first goal is to get the water problem fixed. We will wait til after the spring thaw before dry walling and putting down a new floor. Want to make sure the problem is fixed before spending the money on that.
It's been a stressful few weeks, and I am looking forward to having a dry and leak free basement, but until then I am the shop-vac queen!
Friday, August 7, 2009
I've been on a bit of a blogging break. I'm not sure if it's because it's summer, or if I've just gotten lazy. It most certainly isn't because I don't have anything to say!
I've been seeing a lot of movies lately, at the theatre and at home. I've been meaning to blog about them, so I should get at it. I went to see the new Harry Potter movie yesterday, and enjoyed it, though it wasn't as action filled as the previous ones. I haven't read any of the books, and think I may start, as people who have read them are telling me I'm missing a lot by just seeing the movies.
Tonight I went to see Julie & Julia. Great movie. I didn't know a lot about Julia Child, very interesting women. This is a good heart warming movie about two very lovely ladies, and how one helped the other without even realizing it. You'll probably feel like going out for a great dinner after or feel like cooking a great dish! I also learned two cooking tips just from the movie; 1. Don't crowd the mushrooms when frying them or they won't brown, and 2. Pat dry your meat with paper towel before frying for better browning. I'm half tempted to buy a Julia Child cookbook now!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My Ten Favorite Sounds:
1. Ocean Waves Crashing the Shore
2. Wind in the Trees
3. Cat's Purr
4. Someone Mowing the Lawn
7. Babbling Brook
8. When Kids Giggle
10.Chainsaw (this sound reminds me of home and my Dad)
Click Here to Play!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
For the next little while I'm going to attempt to try a new recipe every week and post it here on Sunday nights. Tonight I tried a recipe I found at All Recipes website. It was pretty easy to make, and delicious, restaurant fare all most. I served it with steamed buttered green beans and baby red potatoes.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 bacon strips
1 medium onion, sliced
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack Cheese
1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and seasoning. In large skillet, cook chicken in oil for 15 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.
2. In same skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of drippings. In the drippings, saute the onion and brown sugar until onion is golden. Place two bacon strips on each chicken breast; top with onion and cheese.
I returned the chicken back to the pan after covering it with the bacon, onion and cheese, to let the cheese melt.
Monday, July 6, 2009
I once had a friend tell me I had the whole horse up my ass, not just the horse shoes when it came to my "luck" in meeting the heavy metal bands whose posters were my wallpaper of choice as a teenager.
I've definitely had fate on my side a few times, a chance encounter with Tom Keifer (lead singer of Cinderella) on Bay street led to an invitation by him to be put on their guest list for that nights show. I won an all expenses trip to Orlando, Florida for the VIP Grand Opening of the Hard Rock's Vault Museum where it was like my teenage bedroom wall came to life! I got to attend a party with Brian Johnson of AC/DC, Zak Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne's band and Black Label Society, Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, Slash and Duff of the original Guns N Roses, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and so many more.
Two highlights of that trip; One, getting a second chance to talk to Nikki Sixx. I had met him a couple years earlier at a music store signing, but was so dumbstruck I couldn't say anything. Getting a second chance to actually talk to him was awesome and a lot easier in a party atmosphere when I didn't have a time line of how long I could chat. Two, like me, Duff McKagan is an early riser, and I'm thrilled to say I didn't get to have breakfast with him just once, but twice! Super nice guy and I enjoyed our talks over breakfast immensely while everyone else was still sleeping.
One of the things I love, even more then me meeting my favorite bands is when I get to witness a friend meet theirs, and that happened again this past Saturday.
As a 40th birthday present to myself, I treated myself to the "I Love All Access 5 Star VIP Package" for the Def Leppard concert on Saturday, July 4th at the Molson Amphitheatre. The package included a pre-show party, goodie bag, and a seat within the first 10 rows, we got second row seats! I went with Brian, a friend of mine who is a huge Def Leppard fan too. I was thrilled when Brian got to meet one of his idols, Phil Collen, who plays guitar for the band. I knew the elation he felt, having experienced it myself so many times before. And I was pretty pumped to be meeting him too, but truly, more for Brian.
I've often wondered if these "rock stars" know how much meeting them means to us, the fans. They meet so many people, and sometimes the meetings are just mere moments that they most likely never think of again, but us, we carry them around in our hearts forever, like priceless treasures.
I have many more stories I could share, I have been an 80's metal fan for well over half my life now and their still out there touring and I'm still going to the shows. It's only rock and roll, but I love it!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Yesterday this fine country of ours turned 142 years old. Rob and I had decided earlier in the week that we were just going to spend the day together and stay home. Still, I wanted to do something to acknowledge the day.
I did something I haven't done in many, many years, I dug out my Stompin Tom Connors cassette and played the whole thing, a couple times!
For those of you who don't know who Stompin Tom Connors is, I'll give you the short version, he's a proud Canadian who also sings folk/country songs all about the great country of Canada, every inch of it. Some of them are silly, catchy songs and some are serious history lessons in some tragedies that have happened here.
My very first concert was Stompin Tom, I was 5 years old and my father took me. I can still remember him walking out to play, dressed all in black, carrying his "board" which he stomps his foot on. I remember he told a joke about his home province of P.E.I., and 15 years later when I saw him again in Toronto, he told that same joke.
He's touring again this summer, and I'm going to look into going to see him again, as he's 73 years old now, and this may be my last chance to see this very proud Canadian in concert once again, singing about the country I love so much.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I have wanted to see the movie "One Week" starring Joshua Jackson since I first started seeing trailers for it. I didn't make it to the theatre to see it when it came out, but finally got around to renting it last night.
I don't think you have to be Canadian to enjoy this movie, but I have to admit, I LOVED that the whole movie takes place in Canada. I loved the Tim Horton's coffee cups, the newfies and all the beautiful Canadian scenery.
The movie has a pretty serious storyline, and a great message. It's about a guy who's probably in his early 30's who gets diagnosed with late stage cancer and how he deals with that. It's not all doom and gloom and is very heartwarming and enjoyable to watch.
With it being a holiday here tomorrow, Canada Day, and the weather not suppose to be the greatest, I highly recommend picking up this movie to watch, it will make you proud to be a Canadian.
Remember, it's not about when you die, it's how you live!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
This past Friday, Rob and I didn't want to do too much, but we didn't want to stay home all day either. So, we decided to take a drive out to a beautiful little village called Belfountain, and also stop into the "Badlands" on the way there.
The Badlands is an area that at one time was covered in water and is just cool to see, check out the photos below.
We hadn't really thought about viewing birds while we were there, but that all changed not long after we got there. Rob spotted a male Indigo Bunting in a tree! (pictured above) It was my first time seeing one, and I got to watch him for quite a while before he flew off. What a beautiful little guy!
After our stop at the Badlands, we drove into Belfountain and stopped for an ice cream cone, and headed back home. We also stopped into the Apple Factory on the way back and picked up some local fresh strawberries, local asparagus, apple cinnamon mini cakes, and a fresh baked strawberry/rhubarb pie, it was still warm!
It was a great little outing, and we finished the day by having a BBQ at home. Below are a few pics from the day, click on them to enlarge them.
Rob took this picture of the male Indigo Bunting we saw.
Rob in the middle of the Badlands.
Taken from the other side.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Another big birding outing yesterday. This time it was to an important birding area called "Carden Plain", it's about 2 hours north of Toronto and located between Kirkfield and Orillia. Over 200 species of birds migrate and breed here, some of them endangered species, and the land is now protected.
We were very excited to visit this important area, and were not disappointed with the sightings we had. We saw many birds for the first time and I know going to this area will be a yearly occurrence, if not more. The sights were breath taking.
I've posted some pictures below of a few of the birds that stood out for me, some of them I've borrowed from Google Images, so you can get a better look at what I saw, and some of them Rob was able to get a pretty good shot of, so I used some of his too.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them, enjoy!
The Eastern Meadowlark was one of the two birds I was really hoping to see on this trip, and it was actually the first bird we saw upon entering the area. We saw quite a few singing from the tops of trees.
Rob snapped this shot of one of the many Yellow Warblers we saw in the area.
Rob was able to capture a pair of Eastern Bluebirds in one shot. We saw many, much to our delight.
We were pleased to have many sightings of this unique and beautiful bird, the Bobolink.
This was our first time seeing a Brown Thrasher, and we saw quite a few flying around. Rob took this picture of one.
Another first, an Upland Sandpiper, they looked so outta place sitting on fences and trees. Another shot of Rob's.
The Eastern Towhee was the second bird I was really hoping to see, and we did close to the end of our trip.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Yesterday our love of birds and bird watching reached a new level when we went out with an organized group for the first time.
We found out about the free outing through a flyer posted at the bird store we visit weekly for supplies or a good bird chat. The walks are taking place on Mon. and Wed. through the month of June at 7:30AM and last about 2 hours. We were in the store on Tues. and are on our last week of holidays, so yesterday was the only day we could go this month, we even gave up tickets to go see "We Will Rock You" because we knew we'd have to be up early and well rested to enjoy the bird outing.
It was so worth getting out of bed early for! We met about 14 others and were led through an area of Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga by a birding expert. We saw many different species, more then we ever had in one outing and learned many new things.
We enjoyed it so much we plan on going back in September when they have organized walks again on Wednesday afternoons and are even looking into joining a birding club.
I've posted three pictures of some birds I saw yesterday for the first time. I didn't take these pictures, I was enjoying them with my eye yesterday, not watching through a lens.
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I actually gasped when I saw him!
Common-Yellowthroat. A type of warbler.
American Redstart. I believe I saw one of these when I was in PEI two summers ago, but got a much better look yesterday.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I'm going to interrupt my Nova Scotia trip posts to tell you about something exciting that happened on Wed. June 10th, I turned 40!
I started the celebration early by having some friends over for a BBQ and birthday cake on Sunday afternoon. It was nice to have my mother here to celebrate my birthday, that hasn't happened in 20 years.
On Wednesday, Rob, my mother and I went to Cora's for brunch before dropping my Mom off at a friends place for the night in Cambridge. Rob and I went over to St. Jacob's for the day and spent the night at the Maryhill Inn.
I had a fabulous day!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
There are certain foods I anticipate with a watering mouth every year when I go home, as I only get to enjoy and indulge in them while there.
It may not look very appetizing, but a Damascus Donair is a must for me.
King Lam egg rolls are simply the best.
Murphy's deep fried whole clams....I usually have these twice!
Blueberry pie made with Nova Scotia blueberries.
A fried bologna sandwich with ketchup, a maritime tradition!
A fresh cooked lobster before.
After I'm done!