Easter With the Family

This year we celebrated our Easter Sunday on Saturday. Our daughter and son-in-law in Hamilton invited us over for an Easter dinner of lamb ragu. We invited my niece who is working in Toronto and our oldest daughter and my daughter-in-law drove to our house, where we all jammed into one car and made the 40 minute drive to Hamilton. IMG_1668

The day started out very rainy but in the afternoon the sun came out and we experienced an early summer day. We spent a good deal of time outside without jackets and went for a nice walk to the park down the street. My niece had never been to G’s place and she enjoyed hearing stories of being pregnant and she saw first hand what it can be like raising a toddler. She’s due to have her first child in August.

IMG_1677

Our granddaughter is always a little shy around new people and even her grandparents who she hasn’t seen too much of this winter because of illness on both sides. It didn’t take long though before she warmed up to her cousin, once removed and they engaged in a game of peek-a-boo in the backyard.

For Easter this year I bought Winnie a garden set because she likes to help her father   clean and plant flowers in the the garden bed.  I knew she’d love the watering can because she loves anything to do with water. When I showed her how it worked she let out a shriek of joy and came running to her Oma. For the next hour or so she kept busy watering the garden and herself.

After spending some time in the garden and walking to the park we enjoyed a very nice dinner. Our son-in-law made the pasta from scratch and the ragu had cooked most of the day. We were in charge of dessert so my husband called up one of his favourite clients who works in an Italian bakery and asked her for advice on what dessert we should bring for an Easter dinner.

She quickly recommended a pastiera, a south Italian Easter tradition. It’s a wheat and ricotta pie flavoured with orange blossom water and adorned with a lattice top. Yum!IMG_1666

Today I’ll be spending time with a friend whose partner went into the hospital yesterday. He’ll be there for a few days as the doctors try to figure out what kind of treatment he will need.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Sunday. Lucky me, I get one more day off tomorrow. Time to get the snow tires off the car.

 

In the Hills of Assisi

….my favourite part of my trip to Italy took place in Assisi

Part 1

I’ve saved the best part of my trip for last. As some of you know my son was married this summer. The family part of the wedding took place in the hills of Assisi. In June, B and A were officially married in the registrars office in London, England and the guests that  attended were mostly friends and work colleagues who lived in England.

In July friends from Canada, England, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy and family from Canada, Germany and Iran came together to celebrate the union of our son and his beautiful bride in a traditional Persian ceremony.

The family stayed in a beautiful hillside resort, Casa Rosa, above the town of Assisi. Originally all the cottages had been farm buildings. The cottage we stayed in was formerly the pig barn and then later the horse stables. The view from our patio was breath taking and the property was surrounded by olive groves, lavender, fruit trees and rosemary.

Our accommodations were very comfortable and you would never have known that some of the cottages previously housed farm animals. We were warned to watch out for scorpions, yellow spiders and asps but we didn’t encounter any of these creatures. We kept looking over the hills in hopes of seeing some wild boars but we didn’t see any them either.

We took a walk along some of the trails that surrounded the farm. The trip out was pretty easy because it was mostly downhill but returning was a little more challenging. We passed numerous pieces of abandoned farm equipment along the way.

On our first evening in Assisi we took a taxi ride into the town of Assisi and had a wonderful meal on the patio of a local restaurant. It was our first real introduction to the family of the bride. We pretty much took over the restaurant for the evening. I tried to take photos of all the entrees that were placed before us but sometimes they were so mouth watering that half the plate was eaten before I remembered about taking photos. All in all it was a great evening and a good start to the wedding festivities that followed the next day.

More about the Persian ceremony in a few days.

Ciao!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving (Still no Baby)

…..today is officially Thanksgiving but we had our big meal yesterday

All week I stressed that having dinner at my daughter’s place might not be such a good idea. I envisioned her going into labour during the meal, before the meal and actually being in the  hospital on the day we were suppose to get together. My daughter, however, was determined to have the dinner at her place. At least she would be close to her doctor and the hospital where she plans to have the baby. We did discuss a plan B but it wasn’t necessary.

There were 10 of us there for dinner. My husband and I delivered the turkey and all the equipment for deep frying the bird the day before. On Sunday we brought roasted Brussels sprouts, a melange of other roasted vegetables and homemade cranberry sauce.  Our other daughter, A, made a kale, rice and pomegranate salad and B’s mom prepared the spaghetti squash and gravy. G made the mashed potatoes and B’s brother was in charge of dessert.

It was B’s first time deep frying a turkey so my husband was close at hand for advice and moral support. The dogs were also hovering around everyone’s feet hoping for bits to fall to the ground.

Before dinner B and G put out a lovely spread of meats and cheeses, crackers, pates, dips and toasted breads. Lucy was a bit of a challenge because all the trays were placed on the coffee table which was just the right height for Lucy to lean in and grab whatever she could. Despite our best efforts she managed to walk off with some bread and cheese.

The dinner was delicious. When dessert was served we also celebrated the birthdays of G’s husband and her husband’s brother. If the baby comes today it will mean that we have birthdays on the 2, 7, 12, 13, and 14th of October to celebrate and those are just the immediate family. There are quite a few October birthdays with the extended family as well.

Today was another beautiful day. It feels like summer out there. We’re in the middle of a federal election and the advance polls were open today so my husband and I decided to walk to the polling station and get it over with. We’d pretty much decided who we were voting for anyway and so we decided to avoid the rush on the actual voting day.

Since the weather was so perfect we decided to walk to the polling station. It was a bit of a hike but we walk that far with the dog every day anyway so we took her along and made our way to the Assembly Hall. IMG_6458Unfortunately my husband misread the times and we got there two hours before the doors open. We went back home and then walked back two hours later but without the dog this time. The station was surprisingly busy and it took us about a half an hour to get to the front of the line to vote. When we got home the second time I had clocked over 12 000 steps for the day up to that point.

Back in Hamilton my daughter still waits for her baby to arrive. To kick start her labour they decided to go on a fairly strenuous  hike along the Bruce Trail but so far it hasn’t made a difference. Here’s a photo of part of the trail that they hiked on.

IMG_6459

Hopefully in my next post I will declare the safe arrival of our first grandchild. To all my Canadian friends, have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and don’t eat too much turkey. Remember that leftovers make great lunches for the rest of the week.

When a Busy Weekend Keeps You From Walking

…..3 days in a row of over 10 000 steps and then the weekend comes along

Usually the weekend is a great time for walking but this weekend proved otherwise. On Saturday I squeezed my newly pedicured feet into a brand new pair of high heels and wore them for the next eleven hours.

We left the house shortly after 12 noon and arrived at the church just in time for the wedding. The service wasn’t as long as we had expected and now we had 3 hours to kill before the reception. We thought about going home but opted instead to go to a restaurant close by and have a bite to eat. We ordered a couple of appetizers and sparkling water. Well that took less than an hour and we still had time to spare.

IMG_5132 IMG_5141 IMG_5144

We decided to find some stores to browse through but we were in the middle of box store city with lots of pavement and parking lots to walk over. Not very good for someone in 3″ heels. In hind sight it seems ridiculous but we drove from store to store. My husband hates  malls and box stores so we didn’t spend too much time ‘shopping’. We didn’t actually buy anything.

We didn’t have any coffee when we were in the restaurant earlier and we were now in need of a caffeine fix. Back in the car, we now drove around looking for a coffee shop. After a couple of missed turns we finally found a Star Bucks and sat down, again, for a cup of coffee.

We arrived at the reception hall exactly at 5:00 and there was no one else in the parking lot. We wondered if we had the right place but within minutes the families of the bride and groom showed up and slowly the guests stared arriving as well. I guess showing up on time is an old fashion custom. I couldn’t believe how late people walked through the door.

After the cocktail hour, dinner was served and for the next four and a half hours we were in our seats as the courses were  served with speeches and formalities in between.

I was hoping we’d get to do some dancing but by the time the last speech had been delivered it was already 10:30 and we realized that our poor dog had been alone since noon. We said our good-byes and headed home. By 11:00 o’clock we arrived at the house and the first thing I did was take off those high heels. My husband took the dog out for a quick pee. I was just too tired to go for a walk. I had only logged 3400 steps.

On Sunday I slept in and then read my book for a couple of hours. I had booked an appointment with the Apple store to sort through some issues I was having with my computer and my iPhone. My husband came with me so that we could leave right from the mall and drive to Hamilton to have dinner at our daughter’s house. That’s right, my husband was in a mall, two days in a row. What a sport!

Unfortunately today was a very rainy day and when we arrived in Hamilton our plans for walking to a new area to explore were altered. The rain had let up briefly but our daughter didn’t think it was a good idea to walk to our destination because the odds of a downpour were pretty high. She was right. We drove to a quaint shopping area on Locke Street, parked the car and walked up and down the street. We stopped for coffee and a bite to eat because dinner wasn’t going to be early as we had anticipated.

There are some great little stores, coffee shops and restaurants in this area of Hamilton. I’ll be sure to return on a future visit. When we returned to our daughter’s house I went out for another short walk over to James street but most stores on Sunday close between 4:00 and 5:00, if they’re open at all.

When I returned to the house G had put out a lovely spread of cheese, dips and crackers and shortly after they served us a scrumptious dinner of ribs and a watermelon salad. I suggested going for a walk before dessert was served but it was decided that we would play a board game first and then go for a walk. Well we never did get out for that walk and in total I only logged 4000 steps for the day.

Share Your World – Week 39

….I’m a little later than normal in answering this week’s questions

I think I’ve avoided answering Cee’s questions this week because I really had to thnk about the first two.

Did you ever get lost?

I don’t remember getting lost as a child. I remembering losing my little sister once when my cousins came over one day and we all went for a walk and returned without her. I think she was probably two or three at the time and I would have been four or five. It was a different world back then. She eventually came home at the heels of a very large policeman.

In the last 10 years I remembering going for a walk through the neighbourhoods around my school and seriously couldn’t find my way out of the maze of streets north of the school for what seemed like an eternity. Before you think I don’t have any sense of direction the same thing happened to a group of teachers who moved about in the same area for over an hour before they found their back to school.

Who was your best friend in elementary school?

I went to three different elementary schools and I can’t remember who my friends were in the first two. When my family moved back to Toronto when I was ten. I went to Parklawn School and I’d have to say that my best friends, who were also my neighbours were Debbie and Cheryl. Funny how both girls were never in my classes so I’d have to include Laurie, Karen and Marcia, who were in my classes, as my BFs as well. The last three stayed close friends all through high school and Marcia (who just passed away this year) was my room mate at university. Debbie was in my wedding party but we lost touch soon after her mother died. The one friend who I still see on a somewhat regular basis is Laurie.

IMGP0065 IMGP0072Miss you Marcia.

Since the news television season has started in the US, list three favorite TV shows.

I don’t watch as much TV as I used to. Of the new shows, so far, I’m liking Gotham (surprise, surprise), How to Get Away With Murder and Under the Dome (although the season ended when the new shows started). I’m still a fan of The Good Wife, and Elementary and I’m a reality show junkie. The only shows that I can’t miss are Dancing With the Stars, Survivor and The Amazing Race.

If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing?

In my house, the mouse would see my husband on the chaise with his computer on his lap going between the TV and his computer screen. I would probably be at the kitchen table or in the living room checking my emails and writing a post or two for my blog. When there’s something on TV that I like I’ll join my husband in the TV room.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

This week I’m grateful for being able to spend time with my husband. It was his birthday on Thursday and we went to a concert together, sat together over coffee in a bistro, wandered around the ROM (museum) and then went to a restaurant for dinner.

Later today I’m looking forward to having the family over for brunch to continue celebrating my husband’s birthday.

Happy Mother’s Day

….in Canada we’re honouring our Mothers today

My daughters and their significant others treated me to a wonderful day on Ward’s Island yesterday. G made a fantastic meal that included a rabbit and apricot terrine, homemade sour dough bread, cured salmon infused with beet juice and cheese cups with hot pepper jelly and those delights were the appetizers.

photo 2-142 photo 1-136

After a bit of nourishment we went for a long walk and explored the beaches and neighbourhoods of Ward’s Island. I’ll post more about this amazing community in the coming week. When we returned to the little cottage that G’s mother-in-law was renting we enjoyed part two of our Mother’s Day Extravaganza.

For the main course we were treated to chicken legs, a faro salad and green beans and snow peas garnished with chopped hazelnuts. Dessert was a delicious panna cotta topped with rhubarb.

photo 1-129 photo 2-135 photo 3-113

At the end of the meal the table was cleared and we played a family game of Apples to Apples. It was a lot of fun but apparently I’m not very good at it. Either my answers weren’t clever enough or they were too embarrassing.

This morning my husband surprised me with a very special present…..a brand new ukulele. What a nice surprise. I guess I’d better learn to play better than I play now. After a nice breakfast, also prepared by my husband, I connected with my son and his fiancé in the Netherlands via Skype. After some minor glitches with the volume we spent 35 minutes catching up on the news and sharing plans for the future.

All in all it was a perfect way to spend Mother’s Day weekend!

photo-23

 

 

 

 

Reflections on What I’m Thankful For….

…. as the Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close

It’s been a wonderful weekend with family and friends. I have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to.

I’m thankful for:

• the support and love of my 3 adult children and their significant others

My son is coming home for 4 days this month – something else I’m thankful for.

Thanksgiving dinner at our house.

• for being able to celebrate my father’s 86th birthday this weekend

• for my husband’s renewed health and the strength to fight his cancer

Celebrating the end of K’s cancer treatment.

Middle sister, CJ and baby sister, CS

• for the love of my sisters and the open communication we have regardless of the miles that separate us

• for the freedom to spend time with my friends

• for my new healthier body and the commitment I have to keep going on my weight loss journey

• for having a job that I love

• for a roof over my head, food at the table, clothes on my back and the freedom to voice my opinion

• for this new adventure called blogging and all the new people I’m meeting as a result – it’s literally opened the doors to the world for me

…. and finally

I’m thankful for 37 wonderful years with my husband and best friend. We have our ups and downs like many couples but it’s mostly ups and when it’s good it’s great.

My new favourite picture of the two of us.