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Archive for November, 2010

Globe artichoke at the Mercat Central de Valèn...

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and avocado, and artichoke too. I’ve decided to up the health factor on my diet, and I’ve decided to approach this alphabetically. Yesterday for lunch I had some vegetable maki with cucumber and avocado. The only problem with sushi is that I can’t stop eating it.

Saturday I got creative, or rather I stole my mother’s “fix-it” recipe. Here are the ingredients:

4 eggs
4 spears of asparagus
milk (I have no idea how much, I didn’t measure, though I would guess 1/4 to 1/2 of  a cup)
a cup of peas and corn
a cup of cauliflower and broccoli
1 1/2 cups of Bisquick (something no home should be without)

Directions:

Add eggs and milk to pan, and mix together as though you were making scrambled eggs.
Chop vegetables into bit-sized pieces, and add them to the egg mixture, ensuring they are well-distributed
Add Bisquick to mixture evenly
Bake at 350 degrees
Eat and enjoy!

Bonus: put the rest of it away for easy weekday lunches

Alright, so it’s not my recipe; I don’t even think it’s my mum’s recipe. Also, you don’t have to use these vegetables, this is just my preference, but I guess you could use zucchini, or carrots or even, (yuck!) mushrooms.

And, as you can see, I had a ton left over; in fact I had enough for 5 extra meals, so that’s a bonus too. I can tell you that, while this pie is still tasty as a left over, it’s best fresh, so it would be ideal for a brunch where you have a lot of people at the table, maybe a day like Christmas where you don’t usually eat much during the day, but you want to make sure you have something hearty for breakfast.

So avocado (check), asparagus (check), that now brings us to artichoke. I currently have 2 cans of artichoke hearts in my kitchen. I was making a Nicoise salad back in the spring, and I thought I needed them for that. It turns out that the recipe did not call for artichokes, and, a week later I tried a salad with artichokes on it, and, at first bite, I don’t love them. But, I am committed to giving them another chance. I was speaking to my boss this morning, and he suggested piling them on a pizza, along with a number of other vegetables (I’m thinking tomatoes and onions). It just so happens that I have a cheese pizza in my freezer, so I will report back tomorrow on the artichoke experiment.

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Yonge Street, Toronto, Canada. Canon Theater l...

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 The weekends are so magical during November and December. I don’t know why I think weekends are so much better. It might be the constant stream of holiday-related activity, it might be the cooler weather, it might be all the lights, or it might be a combination of all these elements put together.

Penelope and I started Friday night with a shopping trip up Yonge Street. I got Cadie all gussied up in her “shopping coat” and we headed up the street. Cadie loves to shop; she loves going in and out of stores and meeting all of her admirers.

It was cold , but it was a great night. I didn’t buy anything, but Cadie received fistfuls of treats, and happily ate them all. We wrapped the night up by eating falafel while simultaneously watching Arrested Development, while the dogs wrestled.

Sunday I headed over to the One of a Kind Show. I love this show; I go every year with my friend Bene and her husband. It blows my mind to see how creative and resourceful people are, and I like buying from local artisans as well. It’s a long day for sure. The One of a Kind Show is more like a trade show than a traditional craft show. There was all kinds of gorgeous jewelry, beautiful paintings, and photography. I’m especially drawn to the hats; I love pretty winter hats. Though I also saw a gorgeous dining room table. It was a large piece of wood (I couldn’t get too close to it, so I don’t know what kind of wood, but it was polished to a super high gloss, and was stunning). In the end, I treated myself a little gingerbread house, which I am very much looking forward to devouring.

Afterwards we stopped for lunch, and then I went home and slept on the couch until it was time for the next dog walk.

Such a great weekend, and the next one is only 5 short days away. The One of a Kind Show is here for about another week, but good news for everyone living in Chicago and Vancouver, your shows start this week and next week respectively. Check out their website, it’s a good place to do some fab Christmas shopping: http://www.oneofakindshow.com/

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Dogs can be so impatient

So I think I’ve figured it out. Last Friday evening, after one of my most disheartening posts, I gave my head a shake and decided to try one more tactic before hiring someone. Money’s a little tight right now, so hiring a dog walker, or sending Cadie to doggie daycare, isn’t really ideal, plus I’m not sure that it would really change Cadie’s routine, or her expectation that she would get a walk the moment I walk through the door. Still, I had a plan. I decided to try changing Cadie’s schedule.

We started our new routine by walking over to one of the neighbourhood parks, where I threw the ball for her for a good 20 minutes. This park was ideal; it has pretty decent lighting, right in the centre, which means that the ball won’t roll out into traffic. And where the ball goes, Cadie goes.

From there we walk north 2 blocks, east 4 blocks, then back south 6 blocks and west 5 blocks to find ourselves back home in about 70 or 80 minutes. Not bad, I thought. Cadie was fairly calm the rest of the night, so I figured this plan had potential, though the real test would be doing it after Body Pump.

Yesterday was the big day; on the advice of the instructor, I increased my weights, and had a really great, though burning workout. I fought through the lactic acid toward the end of the workout, and then collapsed on the gym floor. I spent a good couple of seconds down there, noticing that there were others like me, exhausted by the class; but before long someone showed up, and informed me that they would like to keep my step. I looked around, and saw that it was now the flurry of the between classes time, and we were supposed to be hurrying out the door, so that a step class could start momentarily. Alright, on my feet, I started putting mats and plates and the bar away, as quickly as possible.
 
What followed was a bit of a blur. A nice, warm car ride home, followed by the frantic greeting of my little girl, and her impatient barking as I changed from my gym clothes to my dog walking clothes. But then we were ready to go, and I was immersed in the experiment. I grabbed some food, and headed out the door. Just as above, first for 20 minutes of fetch–where Cadie ran her little heart out, and I mostly stood and watched. Then for 35 to 40 minutes of walking.
 
It worked. Hurray! I still wasn’t able to get home before the fatigue and frustration set in, but in yesterday’s scenario I was only 10 minutes from home instead of an hour, I got my dinner before 8 and, even though I still fell asleep on the couch, I wasn’t nearly as miserable as I was last Thursday. I’m very pleased with the way this has turned out; it’s saved me some money, and it means I don’t have to make any other adjustments to my workout schedule.

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Empire Cookies, experimental batch

I remember reading an article a couple of years ago, written by Rosie Schwartz, one of Toronto’s best known, and most trusted nutrition writers; in it she says that losing weight is unnatural, that it’s a natural, survival instinct to fight against the loss. This means that losing weight is that much harder, as you have to fight, firstly to take off the pounds, and secondly against your body’s natural instinct to replace the calories that you are burning.

I have turned to magazines for solace, and at this time of year, the pages are filled with the most gorgeous pictures of confections, cakes, pies, and cookies as far as the eye can see, and I have surrendered to it completely. The problem is that the longer you look at those gorgeous pictures, the sooner you get it in your head that you can make these things. The sooner you start making these things, the sooner you start taste testing, and the harder it is to keep track of those pesky calories burned and calories consumed.

You may remember that the week before thanksgiving I had found a wonderful recipe for Empire Cookies, and the plan was to surprise my mother with some for desert. That plan didn’t work out, mostly because I am lazy, but also because my mother called me the day before I was set to make them and told me that under no circumstance was I to bring a dessert, as she already had multiple desserts prepared. That was fine with me, because, as I said, I’m lazy.

Thanksgiving is behind us now, and we are speeding towards Christmas at an alarming speed, and I was determined not to be lazy for Christmas, and since I was going to be over at Penelope’s celebrating her husband’s birthday, I decided that instead of making buying eating a cake for him, I would use it as an opportunity to try out my recipe.

I was supposed to get 2 dozen cookies out of this recipe, I got 10, I must have done something wrong

Firstly, I had some trouble with the dough, I was struggling to roll it out — I don’t know if I didn’t make the dough properly, or if I just needed to find myself something really sturdy to roll it out on. Either way, this may have contributed to my not getting 24 cookies.

I also had trouble getting round cookies. As I’m sure you can see from the picture the edges are kind of thin, and burnt, so lesson learned, I’ll make sure I have a cookie cutter before I make the cookies for my mother.

I didn’t leave enough time for the sugar cookies to cool before I started dressing them up, and that has contributed to an overall melted appearance; I’ll have to give myself more time with the next batch.

This doesn't look so bad, even if it's obvious that the bottom cookie is half as large as the top

Anyhow, after they cooled they looked fine, and they tasted delicious, so I think this will make a nice addition to my mum’s Christmas gift.

In the meantime I “had” to eat 6 of these cookies, and I’ve already seen two more cookie recipes I intend to try out. One that’s a shortbread with tea leaves, and another jammy-type of deal…I’m sure I’ll find a few more recipes as well. It’s going to be a long 6 weeks.

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A residential electronic thermostat

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I am so hot I can’t even describe it. Everywhere I go I am bombarded by the heat. The women in my office were cold, so for the last 2 weeks they’ve been hovering around the thermostat at least twice a day, while they ease the temperature in the office up to summer-like conditions. As I was already comfortable, bordering on too warm, I am now suffering from the heat.

I can’t stand the heat, it makes me grumpy and sleepy, and dopey, and well…I’ve forgotten the names of the other dwarves. However, I am a professional, and more importantly I am a realist; I know that if I go over there and bump the thermostat down even 1 degree the women will be back there 10 minutes later claiming to be freezing. I can’t understand how the temperature can vary so widely in such a small space.

I won’t point out that one degree shouldn’t make that much of a difference, I also won’t point out that it would take more than 10 minutes for the change of 1 degree to take effect, I will simply point out that I know a losing battle when I see it. Instead I buck up, force myself to take some deep, cooling breaths (where I picture myself running through a snow drift) and look forward to heading home. One final note on the subject is that I think the thermostat should be locked up so that we can’t be fiddling with it.

The problem is that home is no better. Like the office, I have no control over the temperature of my apartment, and the whole building is so hot that almost every apartment has the door to their balcony open, trying to bring in some cool, fresh air. It doesn’t help the situation either that the temperature outside is at that awkward stage where it’s too warm to wear things like gloves, but it’s also too cold to go without this protection.

So here I am sweltering at the end of November; too much fake heat is nauseating, and I don’t seem to be able to escape it. While I am very pleased with all the nice weather we’ve been having I’m already sick of running the furnace. My apartment was so hot last night that I started to regret taking the AC unit out of the window. It took me 2 hours or more to fall asleep.

The most welcome news of the day was hearing that the temperature is set to drop from spring-like to fall-like temperatures later today. I hate to wish away the nicer weather, but I need to find some respite from the fake heat.

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A fan made photo of Emma Watson at the premier...

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I have been so excited about the new Harry Potter movie. I’m like a kid; every time a trailer came on I would stop what I was doing and stand mesmerized in front of the TV. I had also avoided all newspaper articles and internet stories so that I would be able to enjoy the movie without feeling like it was overkill.

I saw the movie Friday night with Penelope and her husband B, and enjoyed it, and now I feel that I can indulge and read the internet stories to my heart’s desire. This is exactly what I’ve been doing. Though I am not enjoying them as much as I had hoped.

It seems  now that Emma Watson is no longer contractually obliged to keep her hair long, and that she has decided, as many other teenagers before her–myself included–to experiment with her appearance. Most notably she has decided to go with a pixie cut.  I think that it’s adorable, and more than that I completely understand this young woman’s desire to play with her appearance, as I think it’s very natural and normal to want to see how you would look if you changed your appearance drastically.

But I’m upset by the comments that people feel they have the right to post about Ms. Watson’s new hair style. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a major defender of the right to privacy of celebrities, but I do think that as people who can come online and comment anonymously or under a pseudonym, we are saying things about celebrities in the public space that is very rude.

Truthfully, there weren’t many comments that I found shocking or appalling in and of themselves; instead I argue that the internet has finally answered the age-old riddle “what would you do if you knew you wouldn’t get caught?” At least on a social level, I can say with certainty that there are many people who would cross the line of social acceptability, and say rude, hurtful things, feeling entitled to torpedo other people’s confidence in order to…To do what? To boost their own self-confidence, to feel that someone out there is listening to them, to share in another person’s reflected glory by presenting them as flawed?

Whatever the answer it’s pathetic. While I’m sure that the fabulous Ms. Watson and other celebrities won’t lose any sleep over the opinions of some yahoos on Yahoo, there are bigger points to consider; primarily what will other young girls think of themselves when they see such comments posted, how will they compare themselves when they hear or read negative comments about someone they admire? These comments don’t just tear down celebrities, they tear down regular people as well.

Finally, the other major issue that has to be considered is that in a society where we have the right to say anything we like, I think there are too many of us who aren’t asking if they are right to say these things. While we all have the right to have an opinion, and we all fee that we have the right to share our opinions, I argue that we need to recognize that opinions should be presented as such, instead of presenting them as factual truth; after all, long hair on women and short hair on men isn’t genetically or historically a signifier of either femininity or masculinity, just cultural and personal preference.  Besides, if you really feel that strongly that your opinion should be heard you should at least be brave enough to put your name on it.

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Vinohrady, Prague, the Czech Republic. Dogs in...

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Last night was Body Pump class, and it was so much better than my first class. I was able to keep up more easily, the hour passed more quickly, my arm is less red, and I was less tired overall. So I would say that class-wise Thursday was a success.

It’s the after class life that’s getting me down. Upon arrival at home I was greeted by two hungry mouths: Cadie and Uter (my pet turtle). Uter is easy to please, throw 4 pellets in and Bob’s your uncle. Cadie is harder; she has a whole routine. If you know dogs, you know that you can’t shake them out of their routine to suit your schedule.

So after feeding Uter I changed into my dog walking clothes (also, if you have a dog it’s important to have dog walking clothes, as dog walking, even in the city, is dirty business) and Cadie and I headed out. As per this post https://thenextodyssey.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/riddle-me-this/ Cadie is an exercise addict. Our regular evening walk takes about 2 hours, and as I stated above, Cadie does not take well to deviating from that routine.

Seeing as I’m nobody’s fool, I made sure to eat something on my way out the door. I did a quick calculation, it was already 6:00, and even if I’m home before 8, it’ll likely be 8:30 before I can eat, so with that in mind I choose an oatmeal bar over a handful of cookies.

We started out, and had a nice little walk. We went about 10 blocks north, and everything was going well until about 7. I tried to turn Cadie back for home, but she wasn’t going to have it, and soon we had a sit-in. I shouldn’t have done it, but I was just too tired to fight, so I gave in, and walked her another 4 or 5 blocks north. We keep a good pace; I figured the difference in time on the street would mean that I wouldn’t have to stop at the park, which was beyond my patience. So we walked north a few more blocks, then turned east for 2 or 3 blocks, and finally headed south and west until we were home.

On the surface it sounds like a good walk, but when I hit the point of turning east I was at a power level of zero. I had worked all day, done an intense class, I had already walked the dog for an hour, and I needed to do another hour to get us home. To make matters worse Cadie was looking for some treats, and I had forgotten to refill my supply before heading out. This means that she was hungry, I was starving, and I became very irritated very quickly. I was trying to push through to get home, and poor Cadie was trying to enjoy her one social outing  and exercise session for the day. I felt terrible, but I just needed to get home.

An hour later, after a walk that felt like it had gone on for several hours, instead of just 2, I walked through the door, gratefully pushed my shoes off, mindlessly made my meal and collapsed on the couch. What  long day! Exercise is so difficult physically and emotionally without the added complication of being responsible for someone else’s exercise, so I’m going to have to look for a solution to this situation. Maybe Cadie could go to doggie daycare one day a week. I don’t know, I’ll have to look for other ways to balance out both of our needs. All suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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