Friday 31 January 2014

A Funny Book

   My current reading material is a very funny book I got from the Public Library. It's called "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion, an Australian writer. It's a good weekend to have something amusing to read as we are expecting a heavy snowfall tomorrow (5-10 cms. of wet heavy snow). I will stay inside, nice and cosy with the fire burning away cheerfully. Once the weather has improved, I guess I will be out shovelling again!

Thursday 30 January 2014

Portugese -Goan Food

   Goa is a province on the west coast of India. Formerly a Portuguese colony, it differs quite a bit from the rest of the sub-continent. Christianity is the main religion, and Goan cooks are sought after in India as they have few restrictions, unlike Hindus and Muslims.

   Last night I attended a cooking demonstration of Goan-Portugese recipes and enjoyed some wonderful meals. First samosas, then paelha (a type of paella) and pickled eggplant salad, and finally a rice and fruit pudding. All cooked from scratch before our eyes. Quite delicious though a bit spicier than I am used to.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Celebrating "The Bard"

    It is Robbie Burns birthday today and last night I attended a Burns Supper at Westview Church. No dram to toast the bard but I indulged when I got home.

   It was an extremely cold, blustery night and a few faces were missing but on the whole a good turnout. The evening began with the haggis being piped in, followed by "The Address to the Haggis"     "Fair fa' your honest, soncy face,
                  Great chieftain o' the puddin' race. (etc.)

 Next was the "Toast to the Haggis" (apple juice I believe, although it should be whisky). Then the great pudding was returned to the kitchen to be prepared for serving.

   The minister led us in the "Selkirk Grace"
                      "Some hae' meat but canna eat and some wad eat that want it.
                       But we hae' meat and we can eat and sae the Lord be thankit."

   The meal followed - roast beef (I brought my own horseradish), haggis, 'neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes) and peas and gravy. Very satisfying, plus we were invited to fill our plates a second time which many of us did. An apple turnover and shortbread with tea or coffee completed the meal.

   While we digested all that food we were entertained by more pipe music and Highland Dancers. Then it was our turn to strut our stuff - The Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, and St. Bernard's Waltz. After the big meal, this was just too much for me so I headed home. The snow and wind were becoming worse so I was glad to have left early.

   Today the weather was more of the same but not quite as cold. It actually got up to a balmy -6C by this afternoon! Just my usual Saturday chores, laundry, shopping, errands, but I had to be home by 11:00 a.m. as a bloke was coming to measure my basement floor for a new installation. I also shovelled the driveway but that was fairly light as most of the snow seemed to have been blown away. Now time to light the fire and settle down to a night of TV!

Wednesday 22 January 2014

The Cold Continues

   Here is James on top of a snowbank today. We didn't stay outside very long as the temperature was -21C. But at least the sun was shining even though it wasn't providing any warmth. Notice the ski hill tags on his jacket. He is learning to ski on the beginner hill on Sundays while the other two kids are in lessons.

   We had a fun morning. First we frosted and decorated some cupcakes to take to "Sing, Play, Learn". Then we set off (thankfully the car started) and enjoyed the songs and craft with the group. Barb brought James up to the piano so the children could sing "Happy Birthday" to him. He was quite delighted to be the centre of attention. At snack time he took around the cupcakes which everyone seemed to enjoy (only three were left which went home with him for after dinner tonight). We had a late lunch and, truth to tell, neither of us was very hungry after all the treats, although James ate a whole apple. Then a nap for both of us.

   I am enjoying a glass of my Christmas sherry tonight - can't believe it has lasted this long  - with a bowl of avocado and salsa dip. Dinner tonight is whatever is leftover in the fridge, probably brussell sprouts, sweet potato and some salmon in Thai sauce.

   No dancing at Petronella tonight as most of the group are out doing Robbie Burns events at different locations around the GTA. I am quite glad not to have to venture out tonight as the temperature drops. Eugenie Bouchard is playing in the semi-final of the Australian Open tonight so I will be happy to stay home and watch that.

Monday 20 January 2014

Dancing and a Birthday Party

   James was four yesterday and Judy had us over for dinner and cake - chocolate, of course, James' favourite. I managed to persuade James that some of his presents from Christmas and his birthday could come to Grandma's house. He has outgrown most of the toys I have here for him.

    Before heading out to Markham I joined some of my Petronella friends at a nursing home where we entertained the residents with a Robbie Burns celebration. There was the "Address to a Haggis", recitations, Highland and Scottish dancing and a piper. After the residents sampled the haggis, we got to carve up the leftovers and make off with our tasty treats. It will be the first of several samples over the next two weeks.

   A much colder day today with the temperature dropping from -8C this morning to -11C, even with some sun this afternoon. The wind is bitterly cold and I came in from clearing snow off my driveway with a runny nose and watering eyes. Fortunately the very act of shovelling kept my extremities warm enough and I was well bundled up. It's going to be another cold week!

Saturday 18 January 2014

Snowed again

   More snow overnight (only a couple of centimetres) and although it was a sunny day, the temperature barely reached zero.

    Usual Saturday chores, laundry, grocery shopping and a quick trip to find a birthday present for James. He will be four tomorrow and there's a family party at his house. I have his present ready, something I'm pretty sure he will like and a couple of small gifts for the other two so they don't feel left out. There will be lots of good food ( I think Judy mentioned Lasagna, one of my favourite dishes) and lots of cake - probably chocolate, James' favourite. Also, aunt  and uncle and the other grandma. I must try to get some decent photos.
   An easy dinner tonight - chicken legs in a Thai Curry sauce which I bought recently and is a bit spicy. I'll add mushrooms and peas and on the side a new vegetable for me, celeriac, which I will mash with onion and garlic. But first, crackers and nippy cheddar with some smoked mackerel, washed down with some wine. Not too much or I won't be fit to cook the meal!

Thursday 16 January 2014

A Half Day's Work

   Worked this morning at my local school - the 5/6 class. They were no bother at all as they had band and the 5's went to another teacher for Math.  It was fun to see all the familiar faces on the staff - a few changes but most were there when I left. Also, today was treat day and, boy did they do it spectacularly.  I was sorry to leave at noon.

   Spent the afternoon napping as I had a rather restless night last night. I think it was due to the stress of learning the new dances for the demos but I do feel more prepared.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Feels Like Spring

   We are experiencing unseasonally mild temperatures this week - to make up for the frigid cold of last week, I guess. Or this might be our mid-winter thaw. Today reached 7C again; with the sun shining it felt quite spring-like. The ice created last week is somewhat melted although there is no green showing through the snowdrifts as yet.

   Went to the first Burn's lunch today  at a church hall in the west end - a tiny helping of haggis and a meat pie but the coleslaw was good. We were  dancing after so couldn't eat too much anyway. Robbie Burns birthday is January 25th so there will be lots more of the same in the next two weeks. We did 8 S.C. dances and some audience participation ceilidh dances, so I was quite tuckered out by the time we departed the church. Not a perfect performance (we all made some bloopers but I don't think the audience noticed) and lots of praise afterwards. The next one is on Sunday and a new set of dances which we will be learning tomorrow.
   Nothing special for dinner tonight, still eating the weekend's stew, but I plan to make a mackerel pate to nibble on while I watch the news on TV.

Sunday 12 January 2014

More Freezing Rain

Monday, January 6, 2014
 I neglected to go out yesterday evening to clear some snow off my driveway - that was a mistake! This morning it was covered by a hard, impenetrable layer of ice which  resisted all my efforts to remove it. I will just have to keep driving over it until it crumbles into submission. It wasn't too cold first thing this morning (James and I were out chipping and shovelling for half an hour) but the temperature has dropped considerably over the course of the day and is now around -9C. The wind is strong and bitter. I am glad to be staying in tonight - dance group has been cancelled because of the tricky conditions underfoot..

   Still eating leftovers from the freezer but the end is in sight. Last of the trifle tonight and just a small piece of capon to heat up with gravy - fresh vegetables on the side.


Getting Organized

    Spent an hour this morning typing out the "cribs" for the dances we will be doing at Tuesday's demo.  I should know the dances as we had a practice last Sunday, but it's better to have a copy with you for momentary lapses of memory. I will run through them again on Tuesday morning before I leave.

   We have a new set of dances for the other 5 demos (a different group) but we have another week to practice them. Only two are familiar so I hope everyone shows up for the practice! It only takes one person to throw off the whole set.

  The monthly dance yesterday afternoon was well attended, the band was in good form, and there was a nice spread for the tea break. I had left a beef stew cooking in the crock pot but really didn't need it as I had stuffed on sandwiches and other treats around 3:00 p.m. I ate some anyway but have loads left for dinner tonight. Still eating Christmas cake and mince pies but everything else from Christmas is gone, thankfully. Not much else on the agenda today other than a couple of light housework chores. Roll on 9:00 p.m. - the next episode of "Downton Abbey"!

Saturday 11 January 2014

Weather Extremes

   Quite the week, weather wise. Extremely cold for a couple of days, temperatures in the minus twenties with a wind chill over -30C. Other spots in Canada even colder.

   Had car trouble on Tuesday and Wednesday. The car wouldn't start when I went out on Tuesday (an interior light had been left on and with the cold, the battery had drained) Got Toyota Roadside Assistance (a free service for Toyota owners, yaaay) to boost it on Wednesday morning and it started fine that day. But by Wednesday night it was flat again!  I had to take the bus to my SC dance group - we were learning new dances for the demos so I had to be there. Two waits for buses and a long slippery walk to the hall - not a pleasant experience. Makes you realize how convenient a car is. The mechanic came Thursday morning (still free, thankfully) and noticed a door was slightly ajar so that seems to have been the problem as the interior light would have been on again all day.
   Stayed in and painted the spice cupboard on Thursday. It only took half-an-hour so I went to a movie while the paint dried. "The Hunger Games", I have read all three books in the series and this was the second one. It was "O.K.", in other words, not my usual choice of movie but passed a couple of hours pleasantly enough.

    Temperatures are milder today and we are even getting some rain. Can't bear to think what conditions will be like when it drops down below zero tonight!

Sunday 5 January 2014

Last day of Vacation

If I were still a working stiff, this would be the last day before returning to work. As it is, my only work is to be up and dressed before James arrives at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. I wasn't expecting this to be a busy day but things seemed to build up as the day went on.

   I had stayed up late watching "Inspector Morse" last night so was a late riser this morning. A quick breakfast and some ironing then I was out to shovel off the snow that fell last night. There were only a few centimetres so it wasn't a big job and the temperature was hovering around zero so I wasn't even cold by the time I was finished.

   While outdoors I had left some beets cooking away and my next job was to peel, slice and bottle them in a vinegar/water solution. Now I am well stocked for the next month or two. I love them with all sorts of dishes, kedgeree, pies, frittatas, in fact anything that needs the addition of a little colour and spice.

   An early lunch, a quick nap and I was off to the demo team practice at Broadlands Community Centre. Keith was in fine form and took us through the dances we will be doing at the Robbie Burns demos this month. Most of them were familiar but he threw in a couple of new ones, just to keep us on our toes and get our brains working.

   Freezing rain and more snow are forecast overnight; I jut hope Judy has no trouble getting here in the morning. My car is in the garage, just in case. Meanwhile I am tucking in to some smoked salmon and cream cheese on baguette slices with a beer to wash them down. Better start thinking about fixing dinner (if I'm still hungry after this treat!)

Saturday 4 January 2014

Into the Deep Freeze

   We had a couple of extremely cold days this week - I was barely out the door on Thursday and Friday and was very relieved when my car started this morning. The whole country was in the deep freeze, coldest were the Prairie provinces but the Maritimes got hit with a huge dump of snow and they still have power outages to contend with, so we shouldn't complain here. However, -23C with a wind chill of -30C is a bit much to take.

   Today is almost balmy, -5C this morning and got up to just above zero for a while this afternoon. The wind had shifted and was coming from the southwest, decidedly preferable to the northeaster that had been bringing us the low temperatures!

   Our ski day didn't materialize due to the extreme weather conditions. In fact one of the areas closed down because of the cold. I will certainly be waiting for better weather before I venture out! So, instead, I sanded and painted the cabinets in the bathroom. How dingy and yellow they had become without me really noticing. Now they are a lovely off-white and make the bathroom seem like it's had a facelift. It's amazing what a layer of paint will accomplish.

Thursday 2 January 2014

A New Year

   It has been extremely cold this week, however, we have not been the coldest place in Canada by a long chalk  - and at least we have power and are warm indoors. Many are not.

   Yesterday was a New Year's lunch at Steve and Alison's out in Pickering. It lasted until about 3:00 p.m. and by then we were all stuffed and ready for a nap. Lots of delicious nibblies followed by pork tenderloin, broccoli casserole (my contribution), salad, and maple French toast (Judy's speciality). This was followed by a wonderful chocolate trifle made by Alison. The kids were fascinated by the cats who, unfortunately, were not too enamoured of all the attention and kept trying to hide. Steve did a stellar job of entertaining the kids with games on his computer while the rest of the adults were able to converse intelligently.

   Today was to have been a ski day at Brimacombe for Judy, me, Natalie and Elliot. However, extreme weather warnings put us off attempting an outdoor day - minus 18C this morning with a wind chill of -29C. We will try again tomorrow which may not be quite as cold and some sun is forecast.

   I got a few things accomplished today - finished the Minutes for the Bridlewood TC AGM, and sent them off to the executive, almost finished my current library book, an 800 page tome which, although a good read, is just too heavy to read in bed, but no housework other than fixing meals and washing up afterwards. I also completed a jigsaw puzzle but cheated as I had put it back in its box in chunks. Not much on TV tonight so may have an early night.