Reboot

I found myself slowly drifting away from writing here on the blog and I’m not sure why.  But, I’ve been thinking about it for days, so I’m just going to jump back in.

Here are a few photos from my impromtu drive through Prince Edward County last week.  It’s beautiful there!

 

Catching up

I haven’t felt much like writing lately, but here are a few pictures of what I’ve been up to:

  • enjoying the sun on my front porch
  • Carlo’s homework from chocoalte class
  • porchetta made by a friend
  • spring flowers

I’m hoping some sun and warmer weather will get my creative juices flowing again.

Mini March Break

Carlo has some time off right now and although this winter has us longing for a beach down south, we opted for the more frugal option of visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Ottawa for the weekend.  It’s amazing how getting away, even for a few days feels so good.  We’ll have to remember this and take advantage of visiting family more often.

We left Toronto on Friday afternoon and arrived in Ottawa for a late dinner and a few beers (of course).  On Saturday, Brad had a curling match so Kristie, Carlo and I checked out the National Gallery of Canada.

I hadn’t been to the gallery in years.  It’s a beautiful building; the architecture makes it such a pleasure to wander.  We attended a talk by a docent, which I found more interesting than I thought I would.  She encouraged us as a group, to look at the pieces and describe what we saw in the subject, the technique, what’s in the background, the history etc instead of doing the “gallery walk” where you merely glance at the pieces as you walk through.   I must admit that I do travel through exhibits quickly.  I think it’s because I feel the need to see the whole museum once I’ve paid for a ticket.   Admission prices seem so high, and scar me off.  Maybe we should buy a membership to the AGO in Toronto?  It appeals to me to go frequently, in shorter visits and just pick one section to really enjoy. 

Brad and Kristie are fortunate to have found a house in walking distance to the canal, so that’s where we headed in the afternoon.  I might have over-estimated my skating abilities, or been too condfident in the brand new figure skates I was wearing, because I fell several times before putting my boots back on.  As compensation, we got Beavertails!  That’s really the reason I like going to the canal 🙂

On Sunday, Mom, Dad and Grandma joined us for brunch at Brad and Kristie’s.  These are the moments that make me wish I lived closer to my family.  I miss them!

After brunch, Carlo and I hit the road.  Hwy 401 can often seem unending making for a miserable ride, but this weekend I didn’t mind so much.  Good music and good company (and a stop at Mickey D’s) were a great end to our Mini March break.

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This weekend reminded me that I don’t take enough photos. After having a great time, I expect to have a bunch of great photos to reflect it until I remember that I didn’t take very many.  I don’t want to be someone who is stuck behind a camera, or someone who bothers others with incessant picture taking, but I want to stop feeling self-concious about pulling out a camera and I want to have more picture memories to look back on.  We don’t have a great camera, so most of our pictures are taken with an iPhone.  I’m mostly happy with the quality, and it’s so darn convenient.  We have a little point and shoot that’s several years old as well.  We are looking forward to purchasing a new camera soon, not sure what kind yet.  I’m going to try making photos a priority in my life right now.  We’ll see how that goes 🙂

Weekend Snapshots

Sometimes I don’t think I have anything interesting going on to write about.  I read so many blogs that are wonderfully organized and written and for some reason I think I have to live up to that, but that’s nonsense.  So here is a perfectly unorganized look at what we were up to last weekend.

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Carlo made choucroute last week and we finally finished eating it all.  I think we need to be vegetarians this week to balance out all of that pork!

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I’ve been reading a lot about cocktails, so I did some experimenting in the kitchen with blood oranges and maple syrup.

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The weather was gorgeous, so we took advantage of it with a walk to the park.  We really need to do this more often.

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I inherited 2 chairs from my grandparents and I need to reupholster them.  I’ve never done it myself, but I think I can figure it out.  This chairs need new foam and everything.  I think the hardest part is choosing the fabric.  We looked at some neutral linens, but the more I think about it, the more I’d like to use some bold fabric that I know my mother has that also came from my grandparents.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Early morning Olympic hockey gold!!

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We checked out a new patisserie in the neighbourhood.  It was alright, it looked beautiful, but we’re pretty sure they bring the products in from somewhere else.  We’re pretty picky when it comes to pastries, especially croissants.  I’m not biased, but my husband makes the best croissants in the city 🙂

French Onion Soup

A few weeks ago we decided to make French Onion Soup.  So Carlo pulled out this book from his collection:

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It is called The Balthazar Cookbook.”  Balthazar is a French brasserie in New York City run by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson.  Therefore it must have the perfect onion soup recipe.

First we caramelized the onions:

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Then added thyme, bay leaf, garlic, stock and wine.

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A long time ago Carlo bought this little soup dishes.  We never use them, except for French Onion soup.  So, into the bottom goes stale or dried bread, then ladle the soup in and top with cheese.  We used Havarti, not Gruyere.

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I could eat this everyday.

Out with the old, in with the new

When Carlo and I were married a year and a half ago, his best friend Edgar gifted us a car.  A 2002 Mazda Protege.  Crazy right?  What’s even better is that it was a car that had been passed down through Edgar’s family and it was so sweet that they fixed it up for us to have a turn.  It was exciting to drive off after our wedding in our own car!

Just Married

Living downtown Toronto, a car is a luxury, not a necessity, but it sure made life easier.  Trips to the grocery store or to visit Carlo’s mom in Etobicoke were no longer daunting journeys.  It was now easier to visit my family in Carleton Place and our family cottage which is in the middle of nowhere.  The biggest problem I had with the car was that it was a standard transmission.  I do not know how to drive stick.  Carlo tried teaching me a few times, but I am a chicken and was too scared to drive it, especially in the city.  So I remained a passenger.  Thankfully my brother can drive it as well!  So Jeff and I took it up to our family cottage a few times.

The last time we took it to the mechanic, he let us know that it wasn’t in great shape.  Despite the car looking alright, he said something about the frame of the car being very rusty.  We weren’t about to spend a fortune on the 10+ year old car, so we decided to limit it’s usage to local drives.  No more travelling to the cottage, or to my parents’ place.

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This Christmas, my parents gifted us their old car!  It was so unexpected.  I knew they were trying to sell it, but I didn’t think they would give it to us!  The used car gods smiled on us again.  This time it’s a 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix.  And it’s automatic, so I can drive!

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Now I have to practice my assertive city driving.  Like our old car, it’s a little rusty.  Speaking of the old car, we had to let her go.  Owning two cars in Toronto is just crazy.  Carlo listed it on the good old Craigslist and it was gone 2 weeks later.  We didn’t get much for it, but we didn’t expect to.  Why is it sad to get rid of a car?  Here’s our last photo with it.

last shot with car

Hopefully we’ll get to take Big Red on a few adventures in the near future 🙂

Eggplant Parmigiana

A few years ago my husband and I visited his family in the south of Italy.  It was in August and it was crazy hot.  This was our view most days.IMG_0841

While we were there, Carlo’s Aunt cooked up a storm for us.  The stand out meal was Eggplant Parmigiana.  I had never had it before and it was intense.  It would be faster to describe what wasn’t in the dish.  I was grateful for her generosity, but a hot, heavy meal was not what I was craving in that heat.  

Ever since, I have been dying to recreate it in the cold Canadian winter when a warm plate of goodness is perfect.

I always thought it was called Eggplant Parmesan because of the cheese that’s in it, but Carlo pointed out that it is more likely because of its origin in the region of Parma.  It does have the cheese as well, but it’s named for the region too.  What came first?

 

Our version of the dish has fried eggplant (duh), homemade meatballs, ham and hardbolied eggs all layered with homemade tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, mozzerella and parmesan cheese.

It was sooo good.  We made an extra one to freeze and I can’t wait to dig it out and eat it up too!

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Salad in a jar

A while back, my sister told me about salad in a jar.  I thought it sounded strange, so I looked it up.  It was all over Pinterest.  And then I forgot about it.  Last week, in an effort to eat more veggies I thought I’d finally try my hand at it.

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Taking salad to work can be a pain because it needs to be fresh to taste good and my salad dressing always spills in my bag.  Also, I am not great at packing my lunch every morning.  Anything to make it easier is a good thing.  I loved it!  It was easy to prepare a few salads in advance and tasted great for lunch.  The key for me is using a grain at the bottom to absorb the dressing and putting the greens on the top.  When you pour it into a bowl, it’s perfect!

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I see a lot more salads in my future.  And any reason to use mason jars is a plus for me!

Mini Staycation

Carlo and I did not get much time off together over the holidays, so last weekend we had a mini staycation.  We both took a few days off work and 4 days off together.  I had grand plans of getting things done and going places, but in the end we mostly stayed close to home.

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We did make it out to the new Ripley’s Aquarium at th base of the CN Tower.  The price tag is pretty steep at $30, but neither of us had been to an aquarium in a long time, so we took the plunge 🙂

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Going on a weekday was great as there weren’t too many people and we could wander through at our own pace.  The central sight is the “Dangerous Lagoon” with the underwater viewing tunnel and it was my favourite part.  It has sharks!  It even had a moving sidewalk so that you could look around and not worry about bumping into people and waiting your turn to get to the front.

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Carlo also made us Danish donuts, or aebleskiver.  We received a donut pan from Carlo’s mother ages ago but had’t managed to put it to good use.  My mother-in-law is Danish so these delicious little donuts were a staple in Carlo’s house growing up and are still a favourite.  As a true Canadian, I smother them with real Maple Syrup!

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There was also a lot of TV watching and napping, it was lovely.

Last Saturday, I also had the opportunity to attend a rehearsal of the play Night by Human Cargo .  Two years ago I was the Assistant Stage Manager on this production as it travelled to Calgary to appear in the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.  It’s about to embark on a new tour to Canada’s north and then the west coast.  It was fun to see everyone involved again and get a chance to see it as I was always backstage.  Safe travels everyone!

Lazy weekend

This weekend was an indulgent lazy weekend, my favourite kind.  Carlo doesn’t often get Saturday and Sunday off so spending two days together felt special.

We started off the weekend with a musical.  We saw Once at the Royal Alex.  I loved it.  We were way up in the nosebleed section, but it was still a great view.  I’m a big fan of the original movie and I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy hearing the actors sing the music because I love the original so much.  Not a problem.  The actors were very good and extremely talented.  I loved seeing them dance with their instruments while singing and creating the scenes within the setting of an Irish pub.

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After the show, we had a very cold walk home, so we stopped and had a sausage and a pint at Wurst.  I thought it was just a hotdog place, but it’s a very cool restaurant/bar and it was packed!

On Saturday and Sunday, there was a lot of TV watching from the comfort of the couch in our pjs.  We finally watched the last episodes of Breaking Bad.  That show was so good, I didn’t want it to end.  I found myself holding my breath at times because I was nervous to see what was going to happen next!  Now we need a new show.  I’m hoping to catch up on Season 3 of Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey is on TV again!

We also got in some post-holiday sale shopping, I can’t believe we went to a mall on a Saturday, it was crazy busy.

I started a new book on Sunday morning.  I decided to join in with A Beautiful Mess on their book club.  I haven’t been reading much lately, and I thought that some external motivation would be helpful.  We are reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.  I was aided by a cup of coffee in my new Bowie mug and enjoyed one last morning by the Christmas tree before taking it down.

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We also started up our New Year’s tradition of collecting memories in a jar.  I saw the idea on Pinterest last year and we gave it a try.  I loved it.  Throughout the year, anytime something memorable happens, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar.  On New Year’s Day, we got to read about our year one memory at a time.  It was a great reminder of how many fun things we did.  It ranged from big things like my sister’s wedding, to little inside jokes or a nice dinner at home.  We’re definitely going to keep this one going in 2014.

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Our jar already has a few papers inside.