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No meal or party would be complete without a score and dessert. So first let’s talk about the dessert. Bene brought a lovely trifle. I’ve never had trifle before so I was really looking forward to trying it.

I think you’ll agree, Bene’s trifle was absolutely beautiful. I ate this for days after the party, and loved every mouthful.

I was feeling very creative last week, and I wanted to bring in another Scrabble element. So I found a way to make the tray with each player’s innitials. My friend has a really nice food blog with this recipe for a lemon yogurt cake, and I used sugar cookies with my guests’ initials as tiles.

Alright, so the cookies are way too big, but I still think the general idea was good. It was something nice for my guests to take home, and it was a great way to do place cards, and the cookies and lemon loaf were really good.

And the score? The Scrabble grudge match standings are as follows:

Bene: 181
Penelope: 139
W: 116
Circe: 73

Congrats to Bene, and thanks to all of my guests for a game well played.

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As I mentioned Friday, this weekend was the holiday ladies’ luncheon and Scrabble grudge match. I know it’s just a gaming afternoon, but I wanted to try to make it special for my guests. What I really wanted to do was make the game come alive, and I wanted to serve a healthy snack. So I created an hors d’oeuvre that seemed to leap right out of the box. I wanted to created a healthy snack that screamed SCRABBLE! So I started by lining my table with paper, then I figured out the ratio of the playing board (I know, I’m still glowing with pride over that little mathematical feat).

From there I ruled out the individual squares on the board by using a saltine. I had intended to do a realistic board, but drawing the board to scale was a big enough time investment. Really, I’m not good at math, and I spent a lot of time working on the ratio alone. I also decided that drawing in the points system would increase the amount of ink that my guests would eat, so I don’t think it really mattered that the squares were left blank. I gave myself lots of time for this one. I drew the board on Wednesday evening.

On Saturday I prepped the food. We started by washing and cutting the peppers. The second step is very important. You need to make sure that the peppers are nice and dry, and cut into medium small pieces. As you can see, I chose two different kinds of hummus, the regular and the avocado hummus; both were delicious, but the avocado was very light and fresh — if you can find it I recommend trying it. The saltines did not stand up well, so if I were to do this again, I would look for something like mini malba toast.

Penelope came over to help me spell out some words, which I’m really glad she did, because it was time consuming, but lots of fun. It definitely provided the wow factor I was looking for.

Planning a party around a board game provides a lot of “wow” opportunities. The classic games have such iconic visual identities, there’s always a ton of opportunities. For example, if you’re playing Trivial Pursuit, you could make everything look like a pie. If you’re playing Battleship, you can do what my mum used to do, and turn deviled eggs into  “egg boats” by adding a leaf of lettuce on a toothpick. Happy creating! Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the other special touch I added…it’s less healthy. Oh well?

So, looking at the first picture again, do you want to take a stab at guessing the words that Penelope and I spelled out?

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I don’t know what happened to me this weekend, but I came home from work on Friday night ready to create. I had no idea what I was going to create, but I knew that my hands needed to be busy doing something, so I looked around and found something to create.

I can’t tell you what I was working on; I think I need another week or so to get them ready and distributed (wink, wink). So I don’t want to spoil the surprise, instead I’m going to focus on the drive that drove me to reach for my needle and thread.

I’ve always been a bit crafty, in a good way. When I was in university I found that I needed a change. I wanted something to do with my hands to take my mind off my school work. I needed it to be easy, so that it could also be a bit of a mental break. I tried cross stitch–too complicated. It requires a lot of counting, especially in the beginning, and without someone to show me what I was doing, I quickly became discouraged.

I thought about knitting, but…knitting can be expensive, and without anyone to show me how to do it, I was worried that I wouldn’t understand the instructions, and would waste a lot of money…so I never even tried.

Then, one day, while I was trolling Lewiscraft…yes, I was probably the one frosh in the province who trolled Lewiscraft and Mary Maxim instead of the bars; the only explanation I can offer is that my super geekiness knows no bounds. As I was saying, one day I came across something that seemed to fit the bill perfectly–rug hooking, and I have been hooked ever since (I’m so funny! :D)

This last fall I made myself some napkins and a table-cloth, so, as you can see, I have a number of irons in the fire. I am currently working on a couple of stuffed animals, and some more napkins. I worked on a number of things this weekend, alternating between sewing and writing and singing…I have yet to do any cleaning.

Oh well, I like crafts. I guess in some ways I ‘m hotwired to do crafts, to keep my hands busy, and my mind from wandering. I also like that in keeping my hands busy, my legs are too busy to be walking to the kitchen all evening, and my arms and hands are working toward a goal, so they aren’t interested in anything that might be found in the kitchen. Crafting is a good way to keep me on track, especially when I can’t get to the gym, and it’s kind of fun. Though I may need to sew under my desk and while I’m sleeping if I’m going to have everything ready by the weekend.

How do you avoid temptation and stay on track?

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When will the cold go away?

So Sunday was fun, and more importantly, it was not insane. Friday evening as I was leaving work I got an email from one of the girls saying that she would have to work on Sunday, and therefore had to bail. It didn’t take long for the rest of us to bail as well. It’s kind of a bummer not to see them, but on the flip side, we now have brunch plans for January.

So, with my day streamlined, I set out to walk Cadie, but she doesn’t like the rain or the cold. It poured almost all of Sunday, and boy has it been cold ever since. I’ve tried on several instances to explain to her that she will always be cold during the winter, and that in spite of that she still needs her exercise. Alas she doesn’t listen, and she has been moping around the apartment looking for some fun. This is the long way of saying that she stepped out, did her “business” and came right back in.

From there I took her to the groomer’s–poor Cadie, she thought she was going to play with her buddy Toby– and then headed on to church.

Of course, after church I had choir practice. It’s funny how much you remember. I didn’t do as badly as I thought I would. Though I did embarrass myself by starting to cry while we were singing a song about a donkey. Why cry? I have no idea. I tried, unsuccessfully, to pass it off as allergies. Oh well, it was fun just the same, and I will practice for next week, so that the donkey doesn’t make me cry. 😀

The princess and the pea--sleeping soundly on top of my pillows

From there I had to stumble through the dark church looking for my coat and umbrella (do you know how freaky churches are in the dark?) and then pop over to get Cadie, who was ready 3 hours earlier than I had anticipated–hurray!

 She and I spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping; me on the couch, and her on the bed…wait…how did that happen?

Oh well, it wasn’t nearly as insane as I thought it was going to be, but I can’t complain. Sunday is the best day of the week when it’s a lazy day.

In other news, I’m fed up to here (oh wait, you can’t see where I’m pointing) with not making any progress in my weight loss, which, of course, is the whole point of this blog. So I’ve set a new goal for myself. I plan to have progress to show off  by our 100th post. This post is number 63, so it means that I have about 7 weeks to make some magic happen.

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Eaton Centre crystal tree

Image by pieber via Flickr

Penelope and I went to the mall the other night; we went to the big one downtown. We both needed to get our eyebrows done, and it’s always nice to spend some time wandering the mall, taking in all the promotional displays that designers have spent so much time working on. I hadn’t been to the Eaton Centre since I changed jobs back in July. It was nice to be downtown on a weekday night, and get some shopping done.

On our way to the spa we passed the Ferraro Roche tree. I was underwhelmed by it all, probably because it was surrounded by scaffolding. I have no idea why the scaffolding was there, but it was ugly, and distracting, and was making walking through the crowds on the ground level more difficult.

After the spa we made our way to the Bay’s annual Christmas store called Christmas Street. Usually this display is huge, taking up the better part of the 5th floor, and filled with a huge variety of Christmas decorations. This year was sad. It took up less than 1/3 of the ground floor, and had so little variety that we could only find 1 tree topper, and only 1 of those ornaments that you use to hang stockings (I have no idea what they’re called). So feeling disappointed we headed back to the food court for a burger (I know, I’m supposed to dieting, but one every now and then is good for me :D)

While we were sitting and eating we had a chance to talk, to make some New Year’s Eve plans (food, dogs, movie, relaxed. Perfect!) and to talk about other things too. I told Penelope about a strange dream I had where we both had babies on the same day, at the same hospital, in rooms right down the hall from each other, but I hadn’t bought any baby gear, so the hospital wouldn’t give me my baby. Penelope meanwhile was hosting a party in her room, attended by all of my coworkers, even though she knows very few of them.

We also talked a little how the weight loss was going. Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I sat in the mall and had a conversation about how disappointed I am in my weight loss while eating a cheese burger. Basically, I feel that I worked really hard in November, and that I haven’t seen even the slightest result, and while I know that these things take time, I was really hoping to see “something” change. By this time we were walking again, headed toward Sears to buy a gift for my grandmother, and maybe my dad, and we stopped by the Swarovsky Christmas tree (pictured above). It was beautiful as always, and it was just enough to distract me. I think it’s amazing that there isn’t a single light on that tree, and yet it’s so bright you can see it from half way down the mall. I’m always really tempted to reach out and touch it, but this display is well done, and the tree is just out of reach at tips of my fingers.

I hate Sears, but it was a successful trip nonetheless. I managed to spoil both my dad and my grandma, and was continuing on with my conversation about how disappointing my lack of progress was when it suddenly hit me. I’m finished my Christmas shopping. It was such a good feeling, good to know too that just as I was reaching my physical and emotional limit with shopping that evening, that I was now done. This gave me hope and motivation to force myself back to the gym yesterday after work. We make progress when we aren’t paying attention, maybe it’ll be like that with losing weight too.

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

Image via Wikipedia

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...

Image via Wikipedia

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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So I got my wish. After a gorgeous Monday, and a so-so Tuesday, we are now into November weather. Which is bad because it’s rainy and overcast and it’s going down to -5C tonight (23F), which is pretty cold. But I can’t complain since this was what I was looking for.

We had such a hot summer, followed by a long and mild fall. This is my idea of the best possible weather, so I feel strongly that I can’t complain, and I won’t. Instead I’m going to show you what I did with my last day of gorgeous fall weather.

First things first. I put Cadie in my mother’s front yard, and tied her up so that the blob would get her, and judging by that photo, the blob almost succeeded.

Then my mum came out and set to decorating the front of the house. When you live in a tempermental climate you learn to make hay when the sun shines. If an October is particularly cold people will put their lights up then, and no one laughs or points, as long as they don’t turn the lights on until mid November.

My mother takes Chritsmas very seriously. She has 8 giant rubbermaid tubs filled with indoor decorations, and every year she buys another 20 or 30 ornaments. It’s really insane. For the outside of the house my mother has one of those blow up creatures. It’s Homer Simpson, dressed in a Santa Claus costume, and holding a box of doughnuts. It’s pretty funny. She also has a couple of wire figures, shaped like ginger bread cookies. These look pretty creepy to me, but it’s her house to decorate as she likes.

I did not help my mum set out her front yard funpark; instead I helped with the greenery. These are much more traditional decorations. We did not add lights to the greenery, because…well frankly they can’t compete with the rest of the lights on the front lawn.

My mother saw this decoration in Canadian Living and fell in love, so she ran out to the store and bought an enormous amount of greenery. She has two bird baths, so we selected the one that we thought would be best and set it up.

Admittedly, it doesn’t look quite right. Personally I don’t like mixing the copper with the red and gold, but again, it’s not my front lawn. We ended up moving those big balls a couple of times, but still I wasn’t happy with it. Oh well, now it’s up to Mum to sort it out.

As you can see, we had enough greenery left over to decorate the windows. They were looking a little sparse though, so my mum decided to trim her Colorado Blue Spruce. Alright, so this window still looks funny. But I think we really hit our stride with the big front window.

Firstly, my mother just replaced the actual window, and I think it’s fabulous. I find it very cozy and classic, very over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. So we took the purchased greenery, bulked it up with some blue spruce, and then put the cherry on top, some red and gold fruit, which my mother shellacked for some reason, and pine cones, because we had like 50 of them.

I’m thrilled with the way it turned out, well, not all of it, but come on, my mum and I are a nurse and an editor, we’re not decorators, so when you take that into consideration I think we did pretty well.

It even looks classic and cozy from the inside, so I have to say mission accomplished. I was able to combine my need for something Christmassy with my love of being outside, and I think that, even though our house won’t be featured in Canadian Living, it all turned out pretty well.

"Why do I have to stay here, while that dog gets a walk?"

The best thing of all is that the blob didn’t get Cadie; she lived to be forced to come inside, and don’t worry, she also had a nice long walk, on a bright and beautiful afternoon.

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Not My Day

Yesterday was just one of those days. I didn’t make it to the gym because I forgot my shoes, I realized that I didn’t pay my cable bill in October (which is really strange because I thought I had) and now I have a huge bill waiting for me, I had trouble getting to sleep, and then I was up again at 4:30 with a sick dog.

I haven’t been back to bed since that time. Cadie was at her worst for the first hour, but then her stomach calmed itself down, and all she wanted was sleep. Aside from the fatigue, and the annoyance at being awakened at 4:30, there is also real concern. Cadie has the constitution of a race horse, and as such, she is almost never sick. In fact, I think this is the worst case in all her short life.

Unfortunately, I had to come to work, so I am sitting at my desk, worrying and feeling guilty, and tired, and a little cranky…I think this is going to be a long day.

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Coming into work today I heard that the temperature is about to plummet (by which I mean step down gradually until it is at seasonal levels) and worse still the sunshine that we’ve been enjoying this fall is also about to end. Because I find that sad, I’ve decided to make a list of at least 5 things that always make me happy (excluding the dog).

very vibrant and fun

 Number 1. Brightly Coloured Socks!

I wear black most of the winter, because I think it’s flattering, and because I think it’s culturally appropriate (almost everyone here wears black or grey or brown all winter long). But really I’m drawn to colour, and even though I can’t bring myself to buy colourful clothing I can always count on Santa Clause Mum to stock my Christmas stocking full of vibrant socks. When I was a teenager I hated this, but now I think it’s marvellous. So if you are the parent of a teen who likes giving bright socks, keep doing it; although they might hate it now, they may come to actually appreciate it later.

very dainty

 Number 2. Porcelain.

I am very lucky to have inherited my grandmothers’ teacups. I love them, and yes I host lots of parties using them (when you live in a small space you can’t keep anything you don’t use 😉 )

 Anyhow, I am very grateful that I can host real tea parties–every little girl’s dream right?– and more importantly that I have these mementos of my grandmothers. This is easily my favourite, it’s called Prudence by Royal Albert.

It looks so good I can almost taste it

 Number 3. Fresh Bread.

There’s nothing as homey as fresh bread. When I was a teenager my grandmother would come home every Saturday with a week’s worth of groceries, and fresh bread that was still hot from the oven. We would make a cup of tea and devour the bread with butter and honey. It’s just so comforting.

I was pleased last week to see that Jenna’s blog has a great recipe for bread, check it out if you’re feeling ambitious: http://jennaseverythingblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/pain-a-l’ancienne/

Revisiting our first hike

 

Number 4. Spending Quality time with Friends.

 There is nothing as nice as spending an afternoon with people you love.

Toronto’s Greektown
 
Number 5. Being able to travel within the city.
 
Alright, so it’s no comparison to actually travelling the world, but it is great to be able to wake up on a Saturday morning and go shopping in Greektown, which is so different from downtown, and also different from Chinatown, and Little Italy and Little India, all of which are great neighbourhoods.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Penelope is actually buried at the bottom of this pile

 
BONUS Number 6. Watching the dogs play.
 
It’s just so funny, Penelope and I have hours of video.

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