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Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year's Eve

   I'm having a quiet night at home as is my custom. I don't think I will even manage to stay up until midnight! Luckily there's lots of good stuff on TV. The library let me know (by e-mail) that the DVD I have been waiting for is at my local branch but, unfortunately, it is closed tomorrow so I will have to wait until Saturday to pick it up. It's the fourth season of "Game of Thrones". I can't wait to get stuck into it.

     My only outing today was to get my hair cut at my usual spot. It wasn't too cold so I made do without my boots or winter coat. Yesterday I went to see a really good movie, "Brooklyn" I highly recommend it. The movie theatre was very busy but I luckily found a seat middle and centre, just where I like to be.

   A salmon fillet for dinner tonight with broccoli and mushrooms. I am almost out of food as I decided not to buy any groceries until I had eaten up all the leftovers. I will do a big shopping on Saturday to replenish the fridge and larder.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

After the Storm

    The expected snowfall turned out to be only about 8cm. but, with the rain that followed, it became a waterlogged mess, very heavy to shovel. I have left most of it, hoping it will melt but the temperature is supposed to fall below freezing tonight.

   I made it to tennis this morning, leaving a little early in case of traffic problems - just one traffic light flashing red which didn't hold me up very much. We managed to play three sets but one was very short (6-0 with Hendrina and me on the zero side) so I was home shortly after 12:00.

    I had shoveled some snow before I left, really just to give the mailman a path to the letter box, so I did a bit more before lunch. Then soup, a sandwich, followed by a nap, another go at the driveway and the rest of the afternoon was spent reading. The Christmas tree is back in its box and the bins stacked neatly in the basement until next year. Time to go fix the salmon for dinner.

Monday, 28 December 2015

A Storm Coming

     So cold today! It started out at -6C but felt much colder. I just ran up to the mall for a couple of errands and have been cosily wrapped up indoors ever since. The fire is burning and giving off lots of heat so all's right with my world.

    Last day of leftovers - I bought a nice piece of salmon for tomorrow's dinner which will make a pleasant change. I have started to take down the Christmas tree (i.e. brought the bins up from the basement) but my main chore today was to prepare for the coming nasty weather.

   There is supposed to be a considerable snowfall overnight although it might also be freezing rain. In any event I have put the car in the garage (it usually just stays in the driveway) and stocked up on salt. I even got out the snow shovel and prepped the snow blower - just in case! Hope I can manage to my tennis game (indoors, of course) tomorrow.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

After The Holiday

    The family were here by 11:30 on Friday and they soon started on the presents under the tree. James was rather disappointed with his gifts but the other two were quite thrilled. Of course they had already demolished the presents at home and were very excited to find they will be going to Disneyland in February - their main gift! I got a beautiful framed photo from their cruise which I will treasure and display prominently.

    Lunch was a success although everything could have been a bit hotter, but I will definitely do most of the cooking the day before next year, it was much less stressful. Judy brought a nice salad which was very welcome and Steve contributed some starters. We will save them for New Year's Day as there was already an overabundance of food. The highlight, as usual, was flambeeing the plum pudding, which everyone had with custard and also a mince pie. After coffee Steve played Monopoly with the kids while the rest of us cleared the table and stacked the dishwasher - Dave's job, he's the expert. Steve left Lucy dog with me as he was going up north, so after everyone left, we had a walk around the block before settling in for the night.

     Saturday was spent cleaning up - unloading the dishwasher (thank goodness for that!) getting rid of all the wrapping paper, making a pot of soup from the carcass and taking down some of the decorations. Lucy and I had a couple of good long walks but, unfortunately, she rolled in something stinky so was rather unpleasant to be around. Steve decided she would need a bath when they got home! He came for her around 9:00 p.m. and I settled in with TV and some chocolates as a reward for my festive duties.

   Today has been quite restful with only some light chores and lots of reading and napping. I still have plenty of leftovers although I put some soup and chicken in the freezer for another day. Tonight I am making a sort of pot pie with the stuffing as a crust on top of meat, vegetables and gravy. I had some leftover smoked salmon and shrimp for an appetizer but the wine is all gone!

    I made a ginger cake this afternoon - not to be confused with gingerbread, this is definitely cake like, done in a loaf pan. It smells delicious and I will have a well-buttered slice for dessert later!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Eve

    Everything went according to plan today and I was home with all the food by 10 a.m. I put the capon in the oven around 12:30 and it was ready by 4:00. While it was cooking I prepared the sweet potatoes and while it was resting I made the gravy. So now it is dissected and in the fridge ready to be warmed up tomorrow and the roasting pan cleaned. I had some pickings off the carcass for dinner tonight in an avocado and blue cheese salad - it was delicious and quite filling.

   It was another beautiful day - sunny and a high of 13C - but this is supposed to be the end of the mild weather. I did my long ( 4,000 steps) walk this morning before tackling the bird and felt better for it. I think I am all set for the company tomorrow - just few last minute chores in the morning before starting on the vegetables. Then steam the plum pudding and heat the custard and mince pies and we will be done!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Trying to Avoid the Chaos

    Only one trip to the mall today, to get some reading material before things close down for the holidays. Other than that I only was outside for half an hour for a walk around the block.

    I did a last few Christmas chores - tidying the basement, getting the outdoor lights working and decorating the planter by the front door. I also put a garland on the banister going upstairs. So, that's it!

   Tomorrow I plan on an early departure to pick up the last of the groceries and the capon before the grocery stores get too busy. I am going to cook much of the meal tomorrow and just heat it up on Friday. Cooking the whole meal while entertaining company is just too stressful!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Winter Solstice

     Today was the shortest day of the year but it was quite pleasant - mild and rainy in the morning, high of 11C and glimpses of sun this afternoon.

   Tennis with Hendrina, Swan and Lillian this morning. We played for about 1 1/2 hours with a couple of breaks and I wasn't as tired as last week. I stopped in at the liquor store and the library on the way home, had an early lunch and spent a couple of hours napping.  I have almost finished "Girl in the Spider Web" and am waiting for a couple of books that are in transit. Hope they arrive tomorrow or I will be out of reading material. I picked up the third season of "Game of Thrones" which will keep me busy for a week.

   I am still eating the spinach quiche I made on the weekend and had a slice for lunch with soup. Fish in a cheese sauce for dinner with garlic mashed potatoes and peas. Yogurt for dessert, all very yummy and I am well satisfied. I am trying to clear out the freezer before the end of the year and just have some chicken pieces and some sausages in there right now. What with leftovers from Christmas dinner (hopefully there will be some) that should keep me going until then. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Rain!

    Got the last of the Christmas gifts today - just a small present for the grandkids (and Lucy) at Chapters as they are each getting an item from "Gifts For Hope" from the PLAN catalogue. Natalie chose baby chicks, Elliot chose mosquito nets and James chose a set school supplies. It is fun to get them to choose something they really are interested in.

    It was a matter of darting from car to store today as it was raining quite hard - very un-Christmasy. I got the tree out of the basement yesterday and today decorated it with all my old ornaments. I also wrapped the gifts (that is, put them in Christmas gift bags) so I am pretty much on track to be ready for Friday. I even got out the centrepiece for the table and started to decorate the mantle! I shouldn't have to go back down to the basement except for emergency supplies.

   Leftover chicken and broccoli for dinner tonight, and a piece of double chocolate brownie that I indulged in at Starbucks today - a little treat to myself for being finished with the gift shopping.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Rising Prices

     Not much to report today. I woke up to chilly temperatures so just turned over and kept sleeping until almost 9:00!

    Usual chores today, with an extra run up to Price Chopper for some things I didn't get at No Frills. Cauliflowers were $5.99 each at NF and the red pepper I picked out at PC was $2.49 - unbelievable!! I didn't buy either. It's all down to the low Canadian dollar and imported foods. I got some cheap oranges though so will have one tonight with yogurt for dessert

    I made soup for lunch. At least all the ingredients for it were local so it was relatively inexpensive. I also made a spinach quiche for  dinner, also quite reasonable. It's going to be a tough winter.

Friday, 18 December 2015

A New Bridge Group

   Quite an interesting day but it started off slowly. I stayed in bed dozing until 8:45 then had a light breakfast - egg on toast with orange juice and half a banana. Cleaned up last night's dishes then read the newspaper for half an hour. The Business section continues to be depressing as the Canadian dollar keeps falling as does the SP TSX. My investments have lost over 10% so far this year!

   I didn't exercise this morning due to my late start but did walk over to the Senior's Centre around 11:15. I stopped to chat with Samia while having my free coffee then joined the Bridge players. This is a new group I am trying out. We pay 50 cents, keep score, then someone gets the "pot" at the end of the afternoon. It was a bit more stressful than my usual game but we kept changing partners so I managed to avoid embarrassing myself too much. I did manage to win one contract, thank goodness!

    I left there with my free lunch (Lasagna Soup) by 3:00, walked home, heated up and ate the soup, and took a nap. The rest of the day has been uneventful and I will just relax by the fire for the rest of the evening with the computer and the TV. It was much colder today but is staying just above freezing. Long may it continue!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

No Snow Yet

    Two busy days left me little time to post here so I will catch you up.

    Tuesday started with tennis - I was playing a bit better but was quite exhausted when we quit at 11:40. Unfortunately I had to run a couple of errands on the way home so just had a quick lunch and headed straight for bed. I was loathe to get up after an hour but had decided previously I would go to the cinema and I'm glad I forced myself out of bed!

   I saw "Legend", a quite violent (lots of blood) true story of two gangster brothers in '60's London. One is quite demented and the other is just a petty criminal. At one point their mother says to the latter "It don't matter wot e's done, e's still your bruvver" and after the smarter brother brutally stabs a member of their gang and the other asks him why, he says "Because I can't kill you". I came out quite drained of emotion but it is well worth seeing even if just for all the 60's tunes.

   Wednesday was also hectic - up early to bake sausage rolls for a pot luck lunch at the Senior's Centre. It was the Bridge group's Christmas party but I was also on kitchen duty. Between making and pouring coffee and tea and stacking the dishwasher I managed to grab some food - there was enough to feed an army and some of it very tasty! I brought home a pie and some mini quiches which were going begging and ate more than my fair share of devilled eggs and Nanaimo bars.

    Today was a little less hectic but still busy. I did my morning exercise show and walked over for a free coffee as on Monday. It was a beautiful day for a walk, 9C and sunny, so I took my time and just enjoyed what may be the last of the good weather. I was home in time to shower and change before heading  out to Panera Bread for lunch with Judy.

   We ate and chewed the fat for an hour or so, then she went off to shop (her next to last day before the kids are home for the holidays) and I went for some tennis. I managed three sets (they're short so it wasn't too tiring) and then had a swim and soak in the hot tub. Home by 4:00 and just relaxing since then. Tonight is the last episode of the current B.B.T. season so I will watch that and the news and I will be done for the day.

B.B.T = Big Bang Theory

Monday, 14 December 2015

Still Mild and Pleasant

    The plumber came today (courtesy of my Parts Plan with Enercare) and fixed the toilet that has been running continuously for seven years! He also fixed the other toilet that was making a hugely scary rumbling noise so now everything is fixed.

    As the classes are all finished until after New Year, I did the step class at home on my video. I did the shortened version but will try to increase it next time.  After that I went for a walk - it was a beautiful morning, mild and sunny - that ended at the Senior's Centre where they were serving free coffee. I could have walked my usual route but it made more sense to end where there was free coffee! While there I bumped into Snez who asked me to come in early on Wednesday for coffee duty as Maria wasn't available. I plan to make some sausage rolls as the Euchre group is having a pot luck lunch that day and I have been invited to join them. During my walk I became aware of the traffic noise from the 401. I usually can't hear it but, obviously, the wind was coming from the south, hence the mild temperatures.

    This will be the first Monday night at home since September and I plan to use it relaxing by the fire. Leftover lamb for dinner, I will cook some sweet potato fries and green beans to go with it. I am enjoying "The Girl in the Spider's Web" so may spend some time reading. A quiet Monday night at home for a change.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Quiet on the Home Front

   I made a delicious dinner tonight (why are so many of my posts about food?). It started with two lamb shoulder chops that were reduced at the store yesterday. I decided to braise them in a red wine sauce with onion and mushrooms and they came out really tender. I also made garlic mashed potatoes and green beans so I am well fed tonight. Since the wine was opened I had a glass (or two) with the meal. Later I will have a little yogurt.

    I had a quiet day today - I slept in until 9:15 as I had a late night last night ( the monthly dance then I drove Sue home). I made a nice omelet for breakfast with toast and coffee then did a few chores. Around noon I went for a walk around the block (4,250 steps) then lunch and a nap. I didn't get up until 4:00 p.m. but spent most of that reading "The Girl in the Spider Web". Now all that is left of my day is to watch the latest episode of "Borgen" which is coming on soon - a good finish to a restful day.

Friday, 11 December 2015

An Unexpected Meal

     This evening was the "Festive Special" at Swiss Chalet with the family, but I also had a free lunch at the Senior's Centre. Quite unexpectedly we were told that, from now on, some free lunches would be delivered on Fridays from a catering company. I suspect they are what is left over after the week's deliveries. The food wasn't great - mostly pasta with or without chicken and a few chicken pot pies but also a variety of soups. I chose French Onion and it was quite tasty and enough to fill me. The meals are served cold but, rather than waiting to use the one microwave in the centre's kitchen, I took it home.

   I had stayed after fitness class for the open meeting with the centre's executive team - all volunteers. They recounted all their activities since the Spring meeting and asked for ideas and suggestions on how to improve the centre's facilities, attract volunteers or add programs, so it was quite a productive meeting. Immediately after we had cake and coffee and got a ticket for the free lunch. I will certainly take advantage of this offer in the future.

   We had a lovely get-together at Swiss Chalet this evening - the grandkids were on their best behaviour and a fun time was had by all. The Festive Special (chicken, stuffing salad or fries, cranberry sauce) was delicious as usual and the Lindt truffles were shared around. After all these treats today I will have to cut back on goodies for a few days.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

On The Go

   The weather continues mild - it got up to 10C today, but not too sunny. The Probus meeting was at Qssis today, combined with a Christmas lunch of salmon or turkey. I had chosen turkey but extra salmon was brought around so I got a piece of that  too. The only disappointing part was the stuffing which, again, was soggy! Also served was Caesar salad and ice cream and fruit.

   After the entertainment at 1:30 I left and stopped by the Don Montgomery Centre to play some tennis but I was still so stuffed I didn't play very well. I left there just before 3:00 and stopped off at the pool for a swim and soak in the hot tub before heading home. A full and busy day!

   One more stop on the way home for my prescriptions - one wasn't ready so I will have to go back tomorrow. I also stocked up on vitamins and pain pills for arthritis - really just a precaution as I reduce the prednisone. I am determined to be finished with that particular medication in a couple of months. I still haven't finished the Christmas cards but hope to get that off my plate tomorrow.

   Very depressing news about food costs here, mainly because the Canadian dollar is so weak right now. We are paying about 4% more for food this year as so much of it is imported. Just leftovers tonight as I wasn't very hungry. I am scared to weigh myself with all the heavy meals I have been eating lately, but there's no point in dieting until after Christmas!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Mild For December

   Still very mild weather and sunny to boot! I drove to fitness class this morning but decided to walk back to the Senior's Centre for my afternoon shift in the coffee bar. It was very pleasant walking and not at all cold, although I did need gloves.
 
   Most of the classes are over for this term but the drop-in program was still going. However I wasn't selling much coffee  so I cleaned up, counted the money and left by 200 p.m. Another nice walk on the way back and I did a total of 4,000 steps. Not too shabby. I counted my steps up to Bridlewood Mall and back on Monday and it was 5,000 steps so I am getting closer to my goal of 10,000 a day.

   I started writing Christmas cards this afternoon and should be able to finish them tomorrow morning, so will buy the stamps and get them in the mail when I go to the drug store for my prescriptions. I have already received two cards and they will start to come more frequently in the next few days. Then it's just a matter of sending off cards to people not on my list who send me one.  

   Nothing much on TV tonight, just a rerun of Doc Martin, then I will watch the news and head to bed. Dinner tonight was leftover chicken and broccoli casserole and there is still some left for tomorrow. By then I will be well and truly sick of it! One good thing, I have had hardly any carbs today, just my breakfast cereal. I had a lot of my freshly baked bread yesterday so today's lighter eating should compensate for that. I'm thankful to say my bread machine seems to be working fine now, after my hard work on the paddle yesterday.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

On the Go All Day

    I had to pass up on tennis today as I had bought a ticket to the Christmas lunch at the Senior's Centre. The meal was served quickly and efficiently but was a bit lacking in quality. The salad was OK and I got dark turkey meat (my preference) and there was plenty of it. The stuffing was pretty bad but the mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes were fine. Unfortunately the cranberry sauce ran out just before my turn at the buffet, although I managed to scrape a little taste of it from the bowl. To make up for the lacks there were two desserts which were both nice - white cake and cheesecake. Punch was served during the meal and coffee after - all for $20 so we really couldn't complain.

    There was entertainment and dancing after but I just stayed until 2:00 before heading home. After a nap I went to a movie - "Trumbo" - based on a real life victim of the blacklisting of communist party supporters in the U.S. during the cold war. I found it quite revealing as I didn't know much about this scandal. Helen Mirren was marvellous as Hedda Hopper and other actors portrayed John Wayne, Edward G. Robinson, Otto Preminger, Kirk Douglas and other well known Hollywood players. Well worth seeing.

   I had put a loaf in the bread machine before I went out so it was nice to come home to the smell of fresh baking. It almost didn't happen because, once I had flled the pan and plugged it in, I realized the paddle was jammed! I had to empty the pan (very messy) and manhandle the paddle to free it up. So it was quite relief that the bread turned out well.

    I didn't feel like eating dinner tonight so just had half an avocado with some salad and the new bread. I also made some soup before I went out as I will need something to take for lunch tomorrow when I am working in the coffee bar. All in all, quite a busy day.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A Quiet Day at Home

    A bit on the chilly side today but sunny, so I was able to work in the garden for a while this morning. This week is the last garden refuse pick up for the winter and I want to clear some of the bushes by my front walk to make room for piling up the anticipated snow. I will fill another bin tomorrow and that should be it until March or April.

   I have spent quite a bit of today reading `The Illegal` by Lawrence Hill. It is good, so far, and quite topical, although his illegal immigrant is from a fictitious country in the Indian Ocean. I enjoyed his last book, `The Book of Negroes` although it was rather gruesome.

    Chicken drumsticks done in a tomato sauce and broccoli and cheese casserole for dinner tonight. It smells delicious in the oven, and I will open a bottle of wine. Bon appetit to me!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

More Christmas Baking

   Well, I finally made the mincemeat tarts for Christmas dinner - just six, but we will have plum pudding as well so not everyone will want one.

   A little cool today but still no snow and I managed a walk this afternoon, although I was well bundled up. The sun came out briefly but it didn't provide much warmth.

   Fish tonight. I think I will make fish and chips and use up the last of the peas. My grocery bill was only $25 today but I had already picked up some staples on Thursday as I had run out of milk and a few other things. Nothing much on TV tonight but, luckily, TVO is running a repeat of "Foyle's War" which I will watch.

Friday, 4 December 2015

A Pot of Good Soup

    Fitness class this morning but only three of us stayed for coffee. It was quite nice as there was only one conversation going at a time. I stayed until 11:00 but still had time to make soup for lunch.

   Today it was celery and carrot as I needed to use up a bunch of celery. I had to throw out some stalks as they were getting mushy but there were enough decent ones left for a pot of soup. I love getting something virtually free! I also hard boiled two eggs and had egg salad sandwiches with the soup. I make this a lot in the summer, especially when the grandkids come over for a swim (it's either that or devilled eggs - they love both) but usually just put vegetables in my lunch sandwich, so this was a treat!

    I really intended to make the mincemeat tarts this afternoon but got involved with a jigsaw puzzle I am working on. It's a tough one but I have nearly completed it and just kept telling myself "one more piece". Before I knew it, it was dark outside and I still hadn't finished today's newspaper, so I did that instead.

   I have spent the last half hour playing Bridge online and am glad to say I won the rubber. My virtual opponents are not very aggressive bidders so it's not much of a challenge but fun nevertheless. Time now for my Friday TV shows. It's a hard life!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

On the Go

   On the go from early this morning. First yoga followed by a solitary coffee, no one else stayed but I had some errands to run and needed caffeine to get me going. I picked up mincemeat and pastry mix to make mince pies for the freezer, so they will keep until Christmas. I needed a few more things from the store but I was home by 11:00.

   Bridge this afternoon and we had some good hands although Samia criticized my bidding at one point (I was her partner) and I took offence and told her off. Very unlike me but she has done that quite often. I'm guessing she won't do it again!

   I stopped early with bridge and helped decorate the tree in the main hall. They are decorating for the Christmas lunch next Tuesday and have lots of lights strung up. It is getting quite festive. Afterwards I went for a swim and soak in the hot tub before heading home. It wasn't too busy so I was able to enjoy my laps.

   Salmon, peas and rice for dinner and I have just had a delicious bowl of avocado and salsa as my pre-dinner snack. That should hold me until tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Still Late Fall Weather

     The day started out overcast but by noon the clouds were parting and soon the sun was shining. The temperature reached a comfortable 6C but out of the sun it was still quite chilly.

    I had an early start today with a fitness class at 9:00 a.m. I didn't linger very long over coffee as I needed to change and get down to Scarborough Golf Club for the RTO Christmas lunch. It was a fabulous buffet (roast beef, smoked salmon, salads, vegetables and lots more) and the desserts were to die for! I had good companions at my table and plenty of interesting conversation. I managed not to overeat but still felt uncomfortably full by the time I left. It was that last piece of chocolate mousse that did me in.

   I dropped in to the Senior's Centre to make sure my shift at the coffee bar was covered. There was no need to stay and Marion declined my offer to cover her next shift. So all's good. Tonight I am watching the last episode of "Game of Thrones" but the DVD is acting up and I have had to skip several scenes.  I hope the next season is better.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

December Begins

   A party last night at social group. We danced until 8:45 then stopped for tea and treats. We finished around 9:15 and cleaned up before one more dance - I sat that one out (too much food!).

   Tennis this morning and Swan outlobbed us something fierce! But we won a few games, had fun and a good workout. I came home for lunch and a nap and almost didn't make it to the cinema in time for the movie. I saw "Spotlight" - very entertaining.

   Finally finished the Carrot Lentil soup and the Tuscan Chicken I made on the weekend, so will have to get cooking tomorrow.