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Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Last of November

    Just a short note tonight (a Downton Abbey preview is coming on TV in a couple of minutes!) to keep all my followers (whoever you are) up-to-date with my activities. Actually, today was a very quiet day - I didn't even get out at all except for half-an-hour digging up the dead hedge (almost gone, thankfully). It was very mild today - 11C - but dull and overcast. No rain though.
   
    Yesterday I had a late night babysitting the grandkids while Judy sand Dave were out for a special chef-directed meal with friends. They had to help prepare the meal and it took until midnight to cook and eat it! So I wasn't home until nearly 1:00 a.m. I slept until after 9:00 a.m. so I seemed to be behind with everything today. I had a long nap this afternoon which didn't help but certainly felt good. I am almost finished the P.D. James book and there are two more waiting for me at the library. Good times!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Kitchen Bridge

   No, we weren't playing in the kitchen but, I am told, this is the name given to our type of bridge - just bidding and playing the hand without worrying about conventions. We were playing at the community centre and seemingly there is quite a demand for tables so we were lucky to have a spot - and I was lucky to be invited! My partner and I lost most of the bidding wars but were successful on the hands we did get to play. I'm still a bit of a klutz but didn't make any horrendous errors.

    It's chilly outside so I have the fire on - not as cold as earlier this week when we had such strong winds. The power went off last night for about half-an-hour but there were areas of the city who lost power overnight. Not ideal circumstances in the winter as you also lose heat - the furnace needs electricity to run. 

    This morning I hit a few buckets of balls at the golf drop-in and after bridge I went for a swim. I managed 16 laps again but was fair gasping by the end. I think I will stay at that for the next while. Had a good soak in the hot tub afterwards.

   Chicken stew for dinner then my favourite shows on TV so my evening is set. I popped into "Michael's" ( a craft shop) yesterday and bought card paper, stamps and glitter to get started on making some Christmas cards. I just need to see if I can pop down to Judy's school tomorrow to use the paper cutter as I am hopeless at cutting a straight line!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Snow All gone

     Milder weather has arrived and the snow has almost all melted. Yesterday was a busy and tiring day so I have spent today relaxing and napping. Just a few chores, some grocery shopping (cashed in my PC Points so my grocery bill was only $5!), and reading. I am almost caught up on all the library books which arrived at the same time. Another mystery by Henning Mankell is on its way to the library and I will save it until my week on Jury Duty. It will be a great book to while away the time in the Jury room waiting to be called.

   Yesterday I was out of the house by 8:00 a.m. to attend a Scottish Country Dance workshop. It was held at Bishop Strachan school which is a great location although quite a trip downtown, for me, anyway. In between session (which were all excellent) there was tons of food - coffee and pastries in the morning, a delicious lunch of soup, wraps and sandwiches, and, during the break in the tea dance, more tea or coffee and a beautiful array of bars and cakes.

    By the time we finished around 5:30 my feet were aching but I was pleased that I had managed to last right through to the end. I'm sure I burned up quite a few calories, which is just as well as I certainly didn't restrain myself as far as the food was concerned. I even sneaked a couple of sandwiches to eat on the way home, and some bars for my dessert after dinner. There was lots of food left over so I'm sure they didn't miss what I took.

    Today I made a huge pot of winter minestrone from Giada's cookbook. It had pancetta, lots of vegetables, a can each of tomatoes and beans, and some spinach. The tastiest part was the addition of a parmesan rind which gave it a special flavour. It will last me almost all week for lunch. I love Italian food!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Winter is Definitely Here!

    Five centimetres of snow overnight and I was forced to get out the shovel and clear a spot for my car on the driveway. It was brilliant sun but quite a cold wind and I kept it up for 15 minutes or so while I waited for Marilyn to pick me up. She was taking me to a Probus meeting - an organization for retired professional and business people, hence Pro - Bus.

   I have added my name to the waiting list for the club and I can attend three meetings as a guest. The talk was very interesting although the title, "Canada and Sovereignty in the Arctic", sounded rather heavy. Fortunately, the presenter was knowledgeable and quite humourous, and had an excellent power point presentation with which to accompany his speech. I will certainly go again.

    After I got home I shovelled a bit more. The sun had dried up the part I shovelled earlier so all's good for tomorrow. The temperature is forecast to rise on the weekend so that should clear off the rest of the snow.

    Swimming this afternoon and I managed 16 laps although it was quite busy. After a few laps the pool cleared out somewhat and I managed to get into a rhythm and keep up my speed to the end. Quite an improvement.  Then into the hot tub for a relaxing soak. Good times. Dinner tonight is leftover fish and quinoa and I am quite hungry after all the fresh air and exercise. I might even reward myself with some dessert!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Milestone

   I'm very pleased to see I have had 4,000 views since I started my blog last year. At least I know some people are following my adventures. However, it would be nice to get the odd comment - don't be shy, let me know what you think of my musings!

   A fairly quiet day today as it continues cold and snowy. I sorted out some junk in the office closet because I needed the box it was in. Not sure why I hung onto all the stuff. Some of it I filed but most went in the circular file (as we used to call the garbage can when I was working).

   A quick trip to the library where I found in a magazine, and requested a copy of, Ina Garten's latest book "Barefoot in Paris". She has an apartment in the 7th arondissement which is the district I stayed in on my last visit to The City of Light. I'm sure there will be lots of interesting recipes and, I hope, tales of her visits there.

    A lazy afternoon reading. I am well into "Before I Go To Sleep" by S.J. Watson. It has been made into a movie and is in the cinemas at the moment but I am determined to read the book first this time. I did the opposite with "Gone Girl" and wished I hadn't.

   Fish on the menu tonight. Basa fillets breaded and fried with some leftover quinoa, an easy meal. No dessert but I might have a cookie with my tea later on.
  

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

First Snow

   It snowed pretty well all day yesterday and this morning I woke up to -9C (wind chill, -18C), a strong wind but sunny skies. Let's hope the sun melts some of the snow as I am very reluctant to start shovelling this early in the winter season.

   I had a burst of energy yesterday morning and got several household chores out of the way. I cleaned the oven, polished some of the glass tables in the family room and started preparing the room for its annual carpet shampoo. The cleaners are coming on Friday. I also managed to nail down the technician who checks and starts up my gas fire each fall. He is coming later today so I will be nice and toasty warm tonight!

I will need to brush off the windshield before I venture out today!
 
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View from my front porch this morning. Brrr!! It was chilly!

 
     Had a good lunch with RWTO - a nice salad followed by turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes (an over abundance of carbs but still delicious), peas and gravy. Strawberry cheesecake and coffee for dessert. It was the day to bring in Christmas presents and/or food for the charity we support so it was very busy. The Silent Auction raised a lot of money - people were very generous, really paying more than the items are worth. I brought in some preserves but they will be kept for the next luncheon.

   The guest speaker was a flower designer but, although interesting and knowledgeable, wasn't an ideal presentation for a room of 150 people. At our table we couldn't see what he was doing or hear his commentary as he declined to use the microphone. He auctioned off his creations (for a chance to pay for them) but I had to leave before that to pack up the books and get home by 3:00 p.m. for the "gas man". As it turned out, he didn't arrive until just after 5:00 but was done in 10 minutes and didn't charge me! Now it is warm and cosy in the family room and I don't have to heat the whole house.

   No need for much dinner tonight. I will just have some soup and a sandwich later.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Birthday Celebrations

   This is the time of year for birthday parties. Alison's birthday is Nov. 14th, Steve's is Nov. 18th and Natalie's is Nov. 21st. Natalie had a lovely time opening her presents early and will have another party for her friends (and more presents) next Saturday. Today we had a combined party at Judy's - a delicious brunch of  eggs, sausages and french toast drowned in maple syrup. There was also cake - a strawberry shortcake of unbelievable lightness and creaminess, and coffee. I was quite stuffed but, luckily, was able to work some of it off at a demo pool practice later in the afternoon.

    Dinner tonight is something light, probably quinoa with peas and a salmon fillet. The weather continues to be cold for November, around zero, with snowflakes floating down. They may amount to quite an accumulation by tomorrow morning but, hopefully, not enough to have to get the shovel out.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Another Plum Pudding

    The kids were here for a few hours yesterday and we made some more plum puddings in individual pots. They were really helpful and were thrilled to take home their very own plum puddings and some custard to top them off.

   A fairly quiet day today - after the morning chores I was out again hacking away at the dead hedge but it was a little too cool to stay out too long so there's still lots to do.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Snow!

    Yes, it was snowing this morning but nothing accumulated on the ground, thank goodness. I am really dreading when we have to start shovelling the white stuff!

   I went to the golf drop-in and hit a few buckets of balls - didn't seem to improve much but if I keep it up all winter, there should be some improvement by Spring. Then over to the senior's centre to buy a coffee and check out what's going on. Just the line dancers and the routine looked pretty basic so I don't think I will sign up for that next session. I took down the phone number of the volunteer who runs the coffee bar as they are looking for spares so I will put my name down to fill in occasionally.

   I had bought all the dried fruits for the Christmas plum pudding on Tuesday (Senior's discount day at the bulk food store) so I set about preparing it when I got home. It steamed all afternoon and is now wrapped up in foil to mature for the next few weeks until we need it on Dec. 25th. I had a few leftovers so when the kids are here tomorrow (another P.D. day) they will help me make a small one for them to take home.

   I went to the pool this afternoon and managed 16 laps but the last two were considerably slower than my usual (slow) speed. I think I will stick at that for a while. It wasn't quite as busy as usual so much more enjoyable.

   Dinner tonight is chicken drumsticks which I am going to bake in the oven coated in a yogurt and honey dip, then coated with breadcrumbs. I will make some fries and I think I have some green beans in the crisper which will round out the meal nicely. Big Bang Theory on TV tonight, then Doc Martin, then Inspector George Gently so my evening is set.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Back To Chilly Weather

     I managed to get the garden rubbish bins refilled for pick-up today (the truck made an early pick-up yesterday but I quickly got out with my saw, rake and clippers for another load) and there will be just one more pick-up this year. I am trying to get rid of the hedge by my front walk as it died last winter and has been a sorry spectacle all year. Some of the bushes are gone and will give me more space to shovel snow off the walk. I hope to get the rest out  before the snow arrives.

    Speaking of which, how the temperature dropped last night! After yesterday's beautiful, balmy weather, it was quite a shock to open the front door this morning. It only made it to 3C today and the wind was strong and bitterly cold. We are threatened with snow over the next few days - they already have lots out west and in the Maritimes so it is only a matter of time before it arrives here.

   A fun day today. I attended a card-making class sponsored by RWTO and came away not only with some new skills but also three beautiful cards which I made myself. I can't wait to get some of the supplies and get cracking on some Christmas cards. This afternoon I have been trying to finish "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell. It is finally beginning to make sense and hopefully by the end, all will become clear. It is quite a confusing (but fascinating) book.

  Going out tonight to an RSCDS meeting and wish I could just stay cosily at home. So I will have an early dinner of leftovers and hope the meeting doesn't drag on too long.
This cards is decorated with a stamp and watercolour paints. I am not at all artistic but it was very easy to achieve this effect.
 
This one had a blank inside to write your own message.
 
I added glitter to the trees to simulate snowflakes.
 
The interior message was also produced with a stamp. I will have to purchase something similar.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Indian Summer

    Beautiful day today, temperature in the 'teens, sunny skies. Quite Spring like except for the loads of leaves on the street and lawn. Did a little yard cleanup as tomorrow is garden refuse pick-up day. Tennis was cancelled (someone bailed on us) but I wasn't too disappointed as my hip is still painful. I did manage to dance last night but quit after the tea break, just as a precaution.

   Bridge class this afternoon but I didn't do too well. I have been reading up on the rules and conventions but am having trouble applying them when I have the cards in my hand. Luckily everyone is very tolerant of my poor play!

   

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Domesticity

   Baked a loaf today and it turned out perfectly. I have been fiddling with the yeast recently and I think I have finally got it right. It was a wholewheat and cracked wheat loaf and I will mostly use it for toast as it is a little heavy for sandwiches.

    I was out this afternoon at an RSCDS meeting and we were served snacks before heading home. I hadn't had much lunch so I nibbled quite a bit, so dinner will be later tonight. I am making a sausage and cabbage casserole from "The English Kitchen" blog - written by a transplanted American, no less! Not very healthy but last night I had salmon and quinoa with green beans so, on the whole, the weekend has been quite healthy.

   I had to miss dancing on Friday as my hip was quite painful but it is feeling considerably better today so I think I will be able to dance tomorrow night and should be fit for tennis on Tuesday. I haven't heard from Hendrina yet but hopefully she has been able to put together a foursome.
The bread machine did all the work!
 
The Hallowe'en house the kids decorated last week - looks yummy!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Golf Indoors

   The public courses are still open for another week at least but, with this miserable weather (rainy and cold today, only 9C), I have decided to try indoor golf. The local Rec. Centre has a drop-in clinic on Thursday mornings - free for seniors -  so I took myself over there today and got some tips on my drive and short game. Only three other guys there so we each got a personal lesson. After an hour of hitting I had had enough so headed home for coffee and a lemon cranberry scone. However, I will definitely go back next week as I already felt I was hitting better.

   Nothing going on yesterday, although I thought I had an appointment with my rheumatologist. However, it turns out it's next Wednesday. After that just a quick stop off at the library to pick up "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell. I have really got into it - can't put it down - as he writes intriguing time-shift stories that interlock with each other. He is the author of "Cloud Atlas" which had a similar theme.

   I went for a swim this afternoon and managed 14 lengths this time. I'm hoping to gradually increase this each week or so. I spent quite a long time in the hot tub as my hip was painful (all the bending over to pick up golf balls). It seems to be worse in the evenings when I am just sitting. Hope it clears up before dancing tomorrow night.

   I made a huge batch of butternut squash and parsnip soup yesterday and will be eating it for lunch for the next few days. The addition of the parsnip made for quite a new taste. The recipe I use has an apple and apple juice in it but I had no apples so the parsnip was a good substitute. Tonight for dinner it's liver and mushrooms with leftover broccoli casserole. Yum!!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Back on Standard Time

    The clocks went back an hour on Saturday night so now we have light when we wake up but it is dark by 5:00 p.m. I certainly prefer getting up to daylight in the morning but find it a bit depressing when it is dark so early in the evening.

   Although it has become much colder, Monday turned out to be a pretty nice day. I spent the morning on the golf course (got two pars but the rest of the round was pretty bad) and had my sweater off by half way round. The sun disappeared in the afternoon but by then I had managed to rake the leaves off the lawn and cut the grass for, hopefully, the last time this year. In the evening I took Marilyn with me to dancing and we had a great turnout and lots of interesting dances. She seemed to enjoy herself so hopefully she will return.

   Today was still mild but rainy. Indoor tennis in the morning for a couple of hours with Hendrina, Carol and Anna. The court is at Hendrina and Carol's complex, very nice and, best of all, free! I hope they invite me again. Then home for a quick lunch before heading over to the Senior's Centre for a Bridge lesson. I actually managed to win a couple of hands so was quite pleased with myself. The hardest part for me is the bidding and ending up in the correct contract. Right now I am just guessing as I haven't learned all the rules which seem to be  myriad.

   Basa fillets tonight and a broccoli casserole. I think I will also cook some apples in a pudding. This dreary weather makes me crave comfort food!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Cold Start to November

    Not much on the agenda today other than laundry and grocery shopping. I managed to rack up 1600 points today - only another 7000 to go before I get my free groceries. I love PC Points!

   We woke up to snow on the roofs this morning and it continued to snow until around noon. No accumulation on the ground, thank goodness. Now it is dull and overcast with 5C on the thermometer. I decided to forego any gardening today as it is just too chilly. But I am reading a good novel so the day has gone in quite quickly. It is "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, quite a suspenseful story although I saw the movie last week so I know how it ends. No suspense!

   Dinner tonight is liver and onions with mashed sweet potato. I'll probably add some sautéed mushrooms as well. Right now I am broiling a red pepper, which I will then allow to steam in a plastic bag before peeling. I really like it in a sandwich for lunch now that the tomatoes I brought in from the garden last month are almost gone. It has been nice to have fresh tomatoes for sandwiches and salads.