It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

…..despite the lack of snow people are getting into the Christmas spirit

While walking in the dark a few nights ago I decided to take some photos with my new iPhone. Before you think I splashed out on the newest version, I didn’t. These photos were taken with an iPhone 6.

IMG_0241IMG_0242IMG_0243fullsizeoutput_7adefullsizeoutput_7aebIMG_0225

Share Your World – Dec. 4, 2017

thanks to Cee for coming up with new questions for Share Your World

What household chore do you absolutely hate doing?

I really do not like cleaning the bathroom, any bathroom but I don’t like a dirty bathroom, either.

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

I think I feel most passionate and alive when I’m doing things for other people and when I’m celebrating with friends and family. Last summer I never felt more alive when we travelled to Italy with the family to celebrate our son’s and daughter-in-law’s wedding.

 

How many times have you moved in the last ten years?

I have not moved once in the last ten years. In fact, I haven’t moved in over 38 years. I have, however, moved my father three times in the last two years.

 

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

This past week I’m grateful for time spent with my friends, Liz and Michele, and my granddaughter, Winnie. I normally travel to Hamilton at least once a week to spend time with my daughter, Gaelan and granddaughter, Winnie. Last week our plans changed slightly and I ended bringing the two of them back to Toronto. We went for a long walk to the library and had dinner together here at the house.

As you know from my recent posts, I made an advent calendar for Winnie and her family. When I picked them up I dropped it off at their house and Gaelan has send me photos of Winnie with some of her gifts. I think it’s been a bit of a challenge for Gaelan to keep Winnie from opening all the gifts in one sitting.

 

Last week I also spent time with Michele. We met at Sherway Gardens where we did a bit of Christmas shopping together and then I treated Michele to lunch at the Keg to celebrate her birthday that took place earlier in the month. Later in the week, Liz and I drove downtown to the CBC to take part in Sounds of the Season. We lined up to see Tom Power (host of CBC’s Q) and were thrilled to hear Lydia Persaud, Ruth B and Whitehorse perform. After the show we walked over to The Canteen and had a great lunch.

This was also a very important week for our son. The project he has been working on for almost three years has finally come to fruition. In his own words:

Kaboom!!!! 3 years of work, a deep dive into the V&A’s collection of 2.5 million objects, 16 trips to China, working with the dream team of Sam Jacob Studio, with Fraser Muggeridge Studio and Alice Masters, and here it is: A glorious V&A Gallery in Shenzhen, full of strange and wonderful things, materials, and spaces.

IMG_0203

Advent Calendar #1

every day, from December 1st to the 24th a new surprise to unwrap

Years ago my daughter and husband collaborated on a project where I was given a small gift every day from Dec. 1st to the 24th. Each gift was carefully wrapped and placed in a take away container and set before me at the breakfast table. I was so touched by this gesture that I’ve wanted to do a similar ‘advent calendar’ for someone special in my life. This year I finally got my act together and did just that. In fact I created two different ‘calendars’ for my two daughters and their families. Today I’ll share the first one with you.

At first I was just going to create a calendar for my granddaughter but then I decided to include presents for my daughter and son-in-law as well. In fact I even threw in a gift for their dog, Lucy. The hard part of this project was choosing what to put the presents into. I decided to use an over the door shoe organizer that had 24 pockets. After searching the internet and several stores I finally found the perfect vessel. After Christmas, I thought that the organizer could be used to store some of Winnie’s toys.

Apart from buying things that would be fun to open and be somewhat practical and not break the bank, the next most difficult part was wrapping each gift.

P1050583

I won’t kid you and say that this project is simple and quick to put together. If I were to do it again I would start buying small gifts months in advance and wrap them as soon as I bought them. It was, however, fun to do and now that December 1st is here I’ve been blessed with photos of my granddaughter’s reaction to the first gift that she unwrapped this morning.

 

Share Your World – November 6, 2017

….thanks Cee for hosting Share Your World

Would you rather take a 2 week vacation with an organized tour or take a cruise of your choice?

Sometimes I think I would like a two week vacation with an organized tour, especially in an exotic place where I don’t know the language. China and India come to mind. On the other hand, I’m far too spontaneous and I’m somewhat adventurous and I think I’d like to organize some of my itinerary. I see benefits to both ways of travelling.

Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing?

I did like swings but I was wary of going too high. I still get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see children soar to the max.

IMG_3109

What is the most important thing that you ever learned ? (I bet it’s not something you learned in school)

In my 20s I learned that not everyone will like you and often the reasons are not clear. The hardest part is to except it and get on with your life. Focus on those who love you and don’t try to change for people who don’t.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

Last week I went to a wedding and met up with old friends of the family. When we first came to Canada my parents knew few people but my father’s good friend and his wife, along with their 4 year old son arrived before us. As their family and ours grew we were almost like cousins. Carlo was my godfather and my father was godfather to their third boy.  In my family there were three girls and they had four boys.  On  the weekend the second son’s youngest boy married and we were invited. Everyone still calls my Dad, Onkel Heinz and they were thrilled to be able to finally introduce their children to us. It was so nice to put faces to all the names we’ve heard over the years.

The next day we celebrated my oldest daughter’s birthday. It was actually the day before but because of the wedding we delayed the celebration by a day. We met at Barque’s for brunch and then went back to Andrea’s and Josie’s place for cake.

On Monday my 91 year old father wanted relive some memories of his past by visiting the Royal Winter Fair. As a boy he grew up next to a farm and helped tend to some of the animals. Last year I went there with my youngest daughter, Gaelan and her daughter Winnie who was only one at the time.

It was wonderful seeing the joy my father got out of such a simple excursion. We started off watching the horse jumping competition and then walked through the barns where we saw cattle, sheep and pigs. We strolled amongst the prize winning vegetables and fruits and then we went to the food court and had some lunch.

After a meal of fish and chips we headed towards the President’s Choice Theatre to watch the Super Dogs show. We arrived a bit early so we also took in the Medieval Times presentation. My dad loved both shows and was so impressed that he felt that it should have been televised. I explained to him that the Royal wants you to go there. If it was on TV people wouldn’t need to attend.

Halloween at the Zoo

….it started out chilly but when the sun came out the layers came off

Going to the zoo during the week on Halloween had its perks. There was lots of parking, the line-up to get into the zoo was very short and we didn’t have to push through crowds of people to see the pandas. The downside is that a lot of the refreshment stands and rest areas were closed. The mono-rail wasn’t operating and some of the animal enclosures were closed.

We arrived late morning and we needed to bundle up to stay warm. Out came the hats, gloves and scarves. As soon as we entered the grounds we could see that staff had made an effort to decorate for Halloween.

Our first destination was the panda pavilion. The pandas are on loan here from China and the original two successfully mated to produce two cubs. The young cubs are already two years old and are almost the same size as their parents. In March, Toronto will have to say good-bye to the pandas when they move to Calgary. I was thrilled that I was able to get so close to get some great shots.

P1050083P1050077

As we walked from the Giant Panda Experience towards the Polar Bears and then to the African Savanna, the sun came out and we shed our hats, gloves and scarves. The pathways are beautifully laid out as they wind through forests of orange, gold and red. There were many interesting animals along the way but this post would be far too long if I mentioned them all. I’ll save that for another day.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada

….celebrating with a Southern flair

This year we substituted turkey and stuffing with deep fried chicken, BBQ ribs and macaroni and cheese. We started the meal with curried pumpkin soup, served in the pumpkin shell and freshly baked corn bread. Our daughter hosted the meal and because there were 14 of us we decided to share the work with a pot luck meal. I brought the soup and bread and plum cake. Gaelan and Brendan cooked the meats and the mac and cheese. Other contributions included roasted potatoes, pasta salad, coleslaw, wine and meat and cheese platters as appetizers.

As you can see from the photos our granddaughter loved the pumpkin but she loved the soup just as much. Even my Dad who normally dislikes pumpkin pie enjoyed this soup.

The recipe came from a cookbook that my friend Janice gave me as a gift last Christmas. Her church, St. Philip’s Lutheran Church, collected soup recipes from friends and members of the church and created the book It All Begins With Soup and sold the cookbook as a fundraiser. This recipe is dead simple.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

1 large can of pumpkin puree

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 chopped onion

2 cloves of garlic

3 cups of chicken broth

1 Tbsp curry paste (more if you like spicy)

1/4 tsp. coriander, salt and pepper (adjust seasoning to your taste)

3/4 cup coconut milk (1/4 cup for swirls in the serving bowls)

Saute the onions and garlic in the coconut oil. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, paste and seasonings. Stir and cook until boiling. Cover and continue to boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pumpkin puree and coconut milk. Whisk until smooth. Cook for a final 5 minutes before you puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Serve warm with a swirl of coconut milk in a bowl.

  • if you are vegan you can substitute chicken broth with vegetable broth
  • I doubled the recipe to serve 14 people – the bowls were small but some people had seconds
  • my pumpkin was way to big – the soup filled just over half the pumpkin

Happy Birthday, Dad – 91 Years Young

….birthdays are a big deal for my Dad

It’s Saturday morning, October 7th, and we’re sitting around waiting for friends and family to call Dad and send him birthday wishes. These phone calls mean the world to him as do birthday cards. He was so disappointed yesterday that no cards came in the mail. My sister in Calgary never forgets but this year she was away, moving her son to B.C. and it completely slipped her mind. I’m sure more cards will arrive after the long weekend.

This afternoon we’re going to take his iPad over to Apple and see if we can get it fixed, otherwise, he’ll be buying himself a new one for his birthday. For dinner he requested that we go to Mamma Martino’s for his birthday dinner so he can order spaghetti and meatballs. Kevin and I always call that restaurant one of our ‘cheap and cheerful’ places to go.

Well I think we’ve waited long enough for phone calls. I’m sure more will come in this afternoon. So far he’s received seven calls. Three from old friends and four from family.

His one request for his birthday was for a German plum cake with streusel. I’ve got the plums. I just need to find the time to make it now. Wish me luck!