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Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Winter Wonderland

   We had a dump of snow last night. In fact it was still coming down when I got up so I was glad not to be driving anywhere until it stopped. I was out shovelling by 9:00 this morning and it was quite beautiful with everything white and fresh. The temperature was hovering on zero so the snow was rather wet and heavy. Luckily there was only about 5 cms. so it is almost all cleared away. I have to do it in intervals as my back starts to ache after half-an-hour. There will be more to do at the bottom of my driveway once the snow plow has been around but that can wait until tomorrow.

    I had another Mah-jong lesson this morning at the Community Centre and am finally getting the hang of it. There were eight of us and, luckily, two people who knew what they were doing. We played until noon then my Bridge group headed over to Margaret's condo as the Senior's Centre is closed this week and next. Her condo is quite spacious and I could see myself living there if it wasn't for the lack of outdoor space. I do love being able to step out into the garden.
She gave us a light lunch and we played until 3:00 when I came home to do some more shovelling.

   Still eating leftovers but they are diminishing. After the chicken, stuffing and vegetables I plan to treat myself to a mincemeat tart and custard. There seem to have been a lot of treats recently!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Keeping Busy

   With all my usual fitness classes over until the new year I habitually at this time get some long delayed chores done. Today was no exception. First off was to put away the last of the Christmas decorations. I took the tree down on Boxing Day as I had nothing else to do; yesterday I boiled the carcass of the bird (this year, again, we had a capon and lovely and juicy it was) so today there was a quick trip to the grocery store (blessedly quiet) to pick up the veg for the chicken soup. This all got done before lunch with the soup bubbling away while I had a nap.

    When I got up I decided to make some marmalade as the clementines left over from Christmas lunch were already getting soft. I found a great recipe in my "Preserving and Pickling" guide book on all things domestic and made three jars of marmalade with one pound of clementines and a lemon (and, of course, a ton of sugar). It seems to have turned out well but I will have to wait and see if it has set as I couldn't get the temperature up to the proscribed 105 degrees. Best part, it called for 2 tbsps. of Cointreau so I had a swig while the bottle was open - very tasty!
 
These jars of chicken soup are going in the freezer. Notice I craftily left a space for expansion as I have had nasty accidents when using glass containers in the freezer.

Not a bad result from a few clementines and a lemon. One jar is only half full so I will use it first.

My preserving bible - I particularly like some of the chutney recipes.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A New Treat

   Still eating leftovers but decided I needed something fresh today so started with a salad. Truth to tell it was also a leftover but at least it was fresh and uncooked.

   I brought this olive oil home from Spain this Fall and hadn`t yet tried it but just sprinkled the baby spinach with it and some balsamic vinegar. What a treat!

The last of the wine from Christmas dinner complemented it nicely!




    I was out early this morning to play tennis - we had three great sets and I`m happy to say I was on the winning side on all three. I seemed to hit my stride during the second set - maybe I need to play more!

   I had decided to see a movie this afternoon forgetting that everyone and his brother was on holiday this week. The parking lot was packed, there was a long lineup at the ticket office and the movie I wanted to see, `La La Land` was sold out! So I came home. I`ll try again next week.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Boxing Day

   Haven`t set foot outside today as it is rainy and mild. Seemingly in some parts of the GTA it is treacherously slippery so I`m not taking any chances. It got up to 7C today.

   This has been a day for cleaning up and eating (and drinking) leftovers. All went well yesterday with the family and friends here until late in the afternoon. Today I cooked up the carcass of the bird for soup and ran two loads of dishes through the dishwasher. Now the place looks almost back to normal.

Some of the desserts we were treated to, not including the plum pudding - and these are what was left!


The children's table - this was the first time we had tried this and it worked well.

The adult`s table - only civilized conversation here!


Saturday, 24 December 2016

The Day Before the Big Day

      Phew! I think all is done but I am relieved to put my feet up for the evening. The capon is roasted and dismembered and the stuffing dug out, the gravy is made as is a bowlful of mashed carrot and sweet potato. The tables are set (we are having a `children`s table as I can`t quite fit 11 people around my dining table) and to my relief, I have enough plates, glasses and cutlery. I`m sure everything will go smoothly tomorrow and everyone will get fed.

    Tomorrow I will prepare the shrimp for the first course and cook two kinds of potatoes, roasted and mashed. There`s also another stuffing to cook. Luckily I read the instructions today as it requires quite a long time in the oven, cooked from frozen. Then there`s the plum pudding to heat up and flambe and mincemeat tarts to heat up. The oven and the microwave will be in constant use! The bird looked great but I forgot to take a photo before I carved it up. Well, I`m sure there will be another opportunity next year.

    I doubt I will be blogging tomorrow so let me wish all my readers a wonderful day tomorrow with family and friends and a restful holiday.

Friday, 23 December 2016

An Early Start

   Everything went, more or less, according to plan this morning. I was up, fed,  showered and out by 8:10. The weather was cooperating with near zero temperature, and the traffic was reasonably light. I think quite a few people took the day of work. Arrived at the mall in 15 minutes.

   I was up and down the aisles at Loblaws, found everything I wanted and was through the checkout by 9:00 so decided I had time for a coffee and treat (chestnut and praline latte and a double chocolate brownie from Starbucks). Next stop was Pusateri's for the bird but when they brought it out I decided it was too small since we have three extra for the meal. So they went hunting in the back room for a bigger bird and I left the shop with a 9lb. capon. That should feed us all!

    The extra wait for the bigger bird put me a little behind schedule and I really had to boot it up to tennis - just made it! The first set was a corker - I was playing with Tracey and we went down 2-4 right away. But we fought our way back and took the set 7-5. The second set I played with Virginia and Tracey teamed up with Carol. We started out strongly, at one point we led 5-2 but, just as in the first set Tracey dug deep and finally took the set. She is by far the best of our group and plays almost every day.

   Fish and peas for dinner with the rest of the morning's brownie. It was very rich so I only ate half. Since it was mild today I clipped some evergreens and decorated the mantel in the family room. That's about it for this season!



Thursday, 22 December 2016

Brain Overload

    I had a break from Christmas preparations today as I was at the Senior's Centre from 9:30 to 2:30. I arrived rather early for the Mah Jong class as I had misread the notice but it is just as well as no one had turned up for kitchen duty. I made a pot of coffee (it's free this week ) and by the time it had perked through and I had poured myself a cup, the others had arrived. I was very lucky today and, with Pauline's help, won twice. I really don't know what I'm doing yet but it is becoming somewhat clearer.

    We went straight from Mah Jong to Bridge. Margaret was my partner and I'm afraid to say she was rather disappointed in me! Well, who cares. Tomorrow is another day but I'm sure she won't want to be my partner again. We were all brain dead by 2:00 and decided to call it a day. It took me a while to clean up the kitchen but I was quite happy to go home and spend half an hour outside (it was 3C), clearing some snow off the driveway and clipping evergreen branches for my mantel display and my front porch planter (photos to follow). Now I am pretty well finished with Christmas preparations.

   Tonight I will make a list for grocery shopping tomorrow, my last shop, hopefully, before the big meal on Sunday. There will be three extra for the meal so I will have to shop accordingly. I plan to go early - will try to be out of the house by 8:30 - as I have to be at tennis by 10:00. Hope there will be time for a coffee at Starbucks before then!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Playing Catchup

   I went to a movie yesterday afternoon so it was too late to post a comment when I got home and got straight into fixing something for dinner. The movie was "Manchester By the Sea", a very moving story of families with quite a satisfying, although sad, ending. I would highly recommend it. Casey Affleck had the main role and he was excellent.

   I had spent yesterday morning dusting and vacuuming so felt I deserved a treat, and today was more of the same. This time it was cleaning the carpets, a chore I have been putting off for months. There's nothing like expecting visitors to get you moving! Steve phoned last night to see if he could invite some friends for Christmas lunch but will let me know if they decide to take him up in the invite. Seemingly they are out of their condo for some reason and staying in a hotel - not the best place to spend Christmas with their youngster

   While the carpets dried I ran a few errands and got everything I was looking for. I bought two new lampshades for the lamps in the family room and they look very smart. I was a bit early for my shift in the coffee bar but went there anyway and found no one had arrived for the morning shift so went right to work. There were very few people there and I only got through two pots of coffee. But the card group was having a pot luck lunch and invited us to join them. There was a ton of food so I may have over indulged again. So far I haven't felt the urge to prepare any dinner but may have a little snack later.

   I recently received the following photo from my holiday earlier in the Fall. It was taken in Valencia by the tour rep.

A very friendly and compatible group! I'm in the front row, fifth from the left.


A big improvement on the earlier version! Too many plants - they live outside during the summer.








Monday, 19 December 2016

My Festive Cake

   The Battle of the Cakes is on! First the Weaver posted hers. Then Susan Here There and Everywhere came up with her version. So I am compelled to publish mine. It`s not as festive looking as the others but, for a first attempt, I am of the opinion that it measures up pretty well.

As you can see, no longer a perfect circle - I was forced to try a slice, just to make sure it was edible, you understand!

   We are not big cake eaters (especially fruit cakes) but I am toying with the idea of sending my Christmas Day guests home with a big chunk. Unfortunately, they will have to be advised not to feed it to the kids as it has been thoroughly doused in spirits! I started off with Marsala wine but have since added sherry (last week`s dousing) and today the final soaking is brandy.

    Sunny but cold (-7C) again today. No wind so really quite pleasant as long as you were well wrapped up or didn`t stay out too long. We had our last Bridge game of the year and brought food for when we took a break - sausage rolls (me), veggies and dip (Diane`s healthy contribution), delicious almond tarts (Marie) and clementines and chocolate cookies from Pinkie.  It will just be leftover chicken and broccoli tonight as I am still somewhat stuffed. Everything in moderation had better be my New Year`s resolution!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Finally,Some Sun!

     A little sprinkling of snow overnight but not enough to require shovelling, and no freezing rain! However, the temperature has dropped again to minus numbers and the wind has picked up so, although it looks nice out, it's decidedly chilly!

Brilliant blue sky - but that brings colder temperatures!


   A quiet day with just one outing to stock up on groceries. I cashed in some PC points as I bought some of the things I will need for the Christmas lunch. I have been saving them up to lighten the expenses of feeding a big group. I still have some left and will use them when I shop on Christmas Eve. Some time this week I will have to make some sugar cookies as the grandkids and I ate the last of my stock yesterday. Luckily they are easy!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

A Change in the Weather

     We had quite a dump of snow overnight but the cold weather has abated. Elliot helped me clear the driveway using the snowblower and Natalie and James helped a little too so it didn't take long. The kids left around 11:00 and, although I love having them here, I was quite glad to have the house to myself again. There were a few sprinkles of rain when I went out to clear the sidewalk and back path so I put the car back in the garage as it is likely to freeze overnight.

   A pot of soup on the stove for lunch - cabbage, carrot - while I was out shovelling,and chicken thighs and mushrooms (with more cabbage) for dinner. Judy brought over a couple of "petits fours" leftover from the party when she came to pick up the kids so I had a special treat after dinner.

    Lots of fresh air today so I should sleep well tonight!

   

Friday, 16 December 2016

Good Food and Pleasant Company

Milder today, only -5C, and the wind has died down, but we are expecting a big snowfall overnight. The grandkids are here for a sleepover and I joked with them that we might be snowed in but they took me literally and got a bit freaked out. They are finally happily ensconced in front of the TV with the fire on, so I think the worry has passed!

    I went out for lunch today with the group I've joined to learn Mah Jong. We met at Casa Deluz, not for Spanish food, as you would suspect from the name, but for Dim Sum. We had a huge feed (really too much) and were there from 10:30 to noon; each dish is just $3 until 11:00 a.m. Lots of different dishes I had never tried before and most I liked. There were lots of leftovers which we divvied up - I got an egg tart - so good!

At last a quiet moment. They decorated the tree for me.

The end of the meal. We are all stuffed!

The desserts  - and, of course, lots of green tea!

Half way through the meal and still lots left to eat.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Sooo cold!!!

   It is barely winter and already I've had enough of it! The wind today was straight from the North Pole and so strong that I raced from house to car and back again - and I had neglected to wear my boots. The snow was piling up really fast. I hate to think what tomorrow morning will bring. In any case I will have the battery for the snowblower ready to go as I have a brunch date at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.

   I accomplished quite a bit this morning - got my passport photos taken ($30, ouch!) and the application in the mail, Got to Mah Jong class just a bit late, and then an afternoon of Bridge. I played with Pauline but, even though we had some good hands, I think Bonnie and Dianne came out on top. A very slippery drive home - thank goodness it wasn't too far - and then home to effectively hibernate until the storm dies out.

   I didn't feel like cooking tonight so I've defrosted a few shrimp and will have them with leftovers from yesterday. There's also the jam turnover as a treat!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A Frustrating Search

   Yesterday, while at tennis, I got Hendrina and Carol to fill in the `references` section of my passport application. It is amazingly easy to get a new passport here - you just fill out the application and mail it in with your old passport (they will return it if you want it, which I do) and the payment of $160 (for the 10 year version). However, the hard part has proven to be getting a passport photo. Not any old photo will do - it has to be from a licensed photo shop. I knew of two places that did this but today I found that both have gone out of business. So tomorrow begins the search for another source. Wish me luck!

   After coming home from my shift in the kitchen at the Senior`s Centre (not much action so I closed up at 2:00p.m.), I set about making a couple of dozen sausage rolls for the party at Petronella tonight. This is my signature dish for pot luck parties and I had already made a batch for the Monday party. However, I didn`t get to try any of them as they went so fast so tonight I have made more. I had enough puff pastry left over to make a jam turnover and some cheese straws, which I ate right out of the oven, they were delicious.

    It was bitterly cold today and, although the thermometer reading was just -7C, the wind was so cold and strong it felt more like -17C. It`s not supposed to warm up until Saturday and (oh, joy) will also produce snow and freezing rain! I may just stay in all day.

These should go over well at the party! I will save the jam turnover as a treat for myself.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Here and There

   Tennis this morning with Carol, Hendrina and Joan. We played hard but stopped a bit early as Hendrina had to leave. I drove Joan to the bus stop on Don Mills - she has a long bus ride home but it was on my way.

   It was rather chilly this morning and a wind got up in the afternoon. I managed several chores after tennis - the library first then picked up a new spray bottle (for Windex) at the dollar store. Finally croissants and a poinsettia at the grocery store. In the afternoon I hit the bulk food store to replenish the dried fruit that went into the plum pudding and Christmas cake, and also more bread machine flour. Tuesday is Senior's discount day. Last stop was Wal-Mart for some seed bells for the birds. I will hang them on the hooks on the front porch where my hanging baskets go in the summer. It will take the birds a few days to find them then they will be well used.

  I am going to try to make falafels for dinner tonight as I bought a mix at the bulk food store. I will have them with a piece of salmon and cabbage. Stay tuned!

Later:
I got 8 falafel balls for just under $1. They were tasty but a little spicier than I usually like!


Monday, 12 December 2016

Covered in the White Stuff

   We got 15 cms. of snow overnight so shovelling was required! The plow had been down our street early and left a wall of snow, called a windrow in this neck of the woods, across the end of my driveway. I went at it around 8:15 and had cleared enough to get the car backed out of the garage, then took a break - no need to overdo it! I fished out the battery for the snowblower and got it charging (should have done that last night!) and managed to get through the windrow by gunning the engine for maximum speed. I was due at the Senior`s Centre by 9:00 to start the coffee machine but, as it turned out there had been some miscommunication and it was the other Christine who was on duty! So I came back home and did a bit more shovelling before collapsing on the sofa for a rest.

   By the time I got home from Bridge around 3:00 p.m. the battery was fully charged and I finished off the driveway in quick time. The snow was quite wet so I had to scrape away a layer of the wet stuff that the snowblower didn`t pick up, but it was still quicker than doing the whole thing manually.

   Our last night at dance group tonight so we are having a pot luck party. Next item on the agenda was to make some sausage rolls - they look delicious and I ate the leftover sausage, egg and pastry for my dinner. I`m sure I will be hungry again by the time we finish dancing and roll out the food.

    Here are photos of my neighbourhood this morning:

The Canadian flag still flying bravely at my neighbour`s.

You can see the depth of the snow by the pile on my other neighbour`s car.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Looking More Wintery

   Snow has been threatening for a few days now but finally it is falling in earnest. I have put the car away just in case there is a sizeable accumulation, and looked out the snow shovel. Hopefully it will only be a couple of inches. It is only a few degrees below zero so not too uncomfortable.

    I didn't go out much today - just to the store for a few groceries. There's still lots of food in the freezer so it was basically just fresh fruit and veg. I had a beautiful salmon fillet for dinner tonight (the first time I have cooked a proper dinner in almost a week!) and with it just chopped cabbage. It was delicious, very buttery and peppery, the only things I  seasoned it with. It took me back to my childhood as cabbage was a big part of our diet, appearing on the dinner table a couple of times a week. Now I very rarely  buy it as it takes me ages to eat a whole cabbage, but all the other greens were very expensive today at the store. I will have to try and find several different ways of cooking it but it does keep quite a long time.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Taking It Easy

    A blessedly restful day today - I haven't set foot outside except to pick up the newspaper - it's minus 2 and was snowing (somewhat half-heartedly) until an hour ago. All I have eaten so far is egg in a croissant with coffee for breakfast, a bowl of carrot-lentil soup for lunch, and blue cheese, crackers, smoked trout and some grapes with a beer just now (the sun is over the yard arm) which will be my dinner! I will have a couple of sandwiches and something sweet at the monthly dance this evening but I will burn that off by dancing most of the dances.

     I was late to bed last night and read for a while so I really slept in this morning - 9:15 which is quite unheard of for me. I didn't bother with grocery shopping - I'll do it tomorrow - so, other than making a pot of soup, I have been very lazy, just reading, sleeping and doing my current jigsaw puzzle. My current book, "The Best Kind of People" by Zoe Whittall, has reached an exciting stage so I am going back to it soon. The fire is on and it's so nice and cozy in here that I will have to force myself to get up and prepare for my night out.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Meals # 4,5 and 6

    After fitness class this morning I stayed at the Centre for the bi-annual meeting of the committee that runs the social side of things. It wasn't a very long meeting but the presence of at least 15 members was required. As an incentive we were promised a "light Lunch" which duly arrived at noon and turned out to be pizza. I took a piece but saved it for later as I was going out to Remezzio for lunch with the ladies from my fitness class. I just had a bowl of minestrone but it was tasty. That was meal #4.

   Later that afternoon I was on the road to Swiss Chalet for the Festive Special with the family. The traffic was quite heavy but all eight of us arrived on time. It was my treat and they were all well fed, especially the kids. That was the final meal of the week and I survived by eating sparingly (except for Wednesday when I did overdo it) and eating very little at other times. The pizza I will have for a bedtime snack.

    I'm not going to weigh myself for a few days in the hope I can get myself back onto my more abstemious diet (no starches). Hopefully it won't be too shocking!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Meal 3

   Today it was the Probus Club lunch at Parkway Manor. Now I know this sounds like a retirement home but it is actually a rather swanky convention centre. It`s newly opened and we got our meals for the introductory price of $25 (slightly subsidized by Probus). I had trouble finding the location as it is a little off the beaten track and not visible from the road but I arrived with time to spare.

   Donna et al had saved me a seat and soon the meeting began with many jokes and much hilarity. The best one was about a grandmother who never received `thank you` notes from her grandkids for their Christmas cheques. However, the next year they all arrived at her house to thank her. The reason: she hadn`t signed the cheques! Next we were entertained by a superb performer who sang show tunes and other music from the years of our youth. She had quite a spectacular voice as well as an entertaining manner and got a standing ovation when she finished. Well deserved!

   A delicious meal ensued - salad, salmon or turkey )I chose salmon) and veggies followed by chocolate encased ice cream with coffee. Not too stuffed this time as I ate sparingly so I might manage a small meal later tonight.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Meal #2

     It stayed a couple of degrees above zero today and was not unpleasant out. We even had a few glimpses of sun.

    Fitness class first thing and I stayed for coffee. Maria reminded me that I will be needed in the kitchen on Monday morning. I don't mind doing an extra shift occasionally as I sometimes have to miss one of my regular Wednesday after noon shifts. Today I didn't work as I had another lunch out but Samia had agreed to replace me. Maybe she will be persuaded to take on a regular slot.

    I left for Scarborough Golf Club, where the RTO lunch was to be held, just before 11:00 a.m. and I still didn't get a parking spot! How early do you have to get there? Next year I will be sure to leave even earlier. I did manage to squeeze my car into a spot in the auxiliary parking lot which wasn't too far away. Thank goodness I drive a small car.

   The meal was a buffet and, as usual, I overdid it since I like to try everything. I actually skipped the turkey and cranberry as I know I will be having some at least once before Christmas, and I didn't take any bread or pasta and only one small potato, so not too many carbohydrates. The desserts were to die for (except the cheesecake, unfortunately) and my favourite was a pecan butter pie. Yum! No dinner tonight (still too stuffed) but I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich with a cup of tea just before bed.

   I went to Petronella this evening and Carole taught some of the dances for Saturday's Family Night dance, so I feel better prepared.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

First Meal Out

     No tennis today as I was due at the Senior's Centre by 11:30 for the first of four lunches out this week. I had heard a rumour that we were to be served roast beef so I took along a jar of horseradish - I don't enjoy roast beef without a healthy doze of horseradish!

     The meal, just $15, was excellent value - a small salad, meat, potatoes and green beans followed by a deliciously moist cake and coffee. I was lucky to get a piece of cake (rather small) as they ran out just after me. Luckily they were able to come up with some more cake for those who missed out!

   The meal was followed by The Hawaian dance troupe dancing to Christmas tunes - they were quite wonderful - and then an opportunity to try it out ourselves. I didn't feel I had overeaten but just had a light meal tonight. There's another big feed coming up tomorrow! 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Wintery Weather

   I seemed to be on the go all day, hopping from one spot to the next. Most of my travelling was by car so I didn't suffer too much from the colder weather and  slush underfoot. We had a little snow overnight so the sidewalks were messy but, thankfully, not icy.

   My first port of call was the ophthalmologist for my annual checkup and, as usual, I parked on a side street about a 10 minute walk from the medical centre as the parking there is prohibitive! I was there for an hour and a half but the good news is I don't have to go back for two years. After I got out and walked back to the car I still had time to pop over to Pusateri's at Bayview Village to order my bird for Christmas lunch. I am getting a capon again this year as I  find them much more succulent than turkey. Another chore checked off my list. While I was there I picked up a piece of blue cheese, French Blue D'Auvergne, which is my snack de jour tonight. Yum!

   Then straight to the Senior's Centre for Bridge. My timing was perfect - I just had time for a much-needed coffee before we started to play. On the way home  I got the stamps for my overseas Christmas cards - $32! I hope they all arrive safely as this is my only contact with numerous friends and family on the other side of the pond, as well as my brother in South Africa and my cousin in Australia.

   Now I am enjoying the blue cheese with grapes and a glass of wine - I do enjoy spoiling myself!

I may not need any dinner after this!


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Being Domestic

   Lucy left around 9:00 p.m. last night just as I was measuring out dried fruit to soak for a fruit cake. I just used all the fruit I had left over from the plum pudding and doused it in brandy, sherry and Marsala,  just what I had in the liquor cabinet.

    Today, after breakfast and my usual Sunday chores ("cleanliness is next to Godliness" my mother used to say when she decided not to attend church), I started on the fruit cake. I had researched several recipes last night and decided on one that used mostly ingredients I already had in the pantry. It took me about an hour so I had it baking by noon. The biggest chore was to line and wrap the cake pan and the cake was so dense it was difficult to mix.  However, it baked up nicely and got a final dousing of Marsala after it cooled. I can't wait to try it although I haven't decided yet whether to top it with marzipan and icing or just leave it plain. I will let it age for a while before I decide.

   While the cake was baking I got out the Christmas cards and took care of that chore. I wrote 13 overseas cards which should go in the mail tomorrow. The rest can go next week, but I will keep the cards handy in case I receive any I haven't sent to.

    Chicken thighs again tonight and I think I will open a can of corn to go with it. I haven't had corn since the last time the farmer came to his spot on Birchmount sometime in September. I see the property he usually sells from has been sold so he won't be back next year. I will have to find another farmer's market.

   Fire's on so it is nice and cozy in here. I have hardly been out all weekend but I have a busy week coming up so was quite happy to vegetate at home. Stay posted for my busy week!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

A Visitor

   A chilly day today but sunny in the morning which made things a bit more bearable. I had company today - Steve and Alison dropped off their bull terrier, Lucy, bright and early this morning and we spent the day together. We went on a long walk this morning and again later in the afternoon. She is very energetic but was so well behaved when we were out, she didn't give me any trouble at all!

In one of her quieter moments - she is hard to photograph in her manic state!

Tired out after our long walk to the park - we both had a nap when we got home.
   Chicken and veggies roasted in the oven for dinner with green beans. Lucy was so jealous. I have to say her dog food is very boring!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Experimenting in the Kitchen

   Quite a chilly one today - a high of 5C - so I was only out as far as the car. and back. Had fun talking to friends after Gentle Fit class (which isn't so gentle, in fact is quite highly aerobic so gives me a good workout). We were discussing scams and how to avoid them. Some of the suggestions were hilarious! One of us suggested going along with the scammer for twenty minutes as if you believe it and then hanging up. Another suggestion is to play dumb as if you don't understand and make them repeat the scam over and over. I don't think I would have the nerve to try either approach so I just don't answer the phone unless I recognize the number.

   I made another batch of tablet this afternoon as I am trying to perfect the process. The last batch I cooked for too long but this one I think I went in the opposite direction and it looks like it's not going to set. It will still taste good - if I can get it out of the pan!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Season of Giving

    I have been inundated with requests from charities recently and, while writing a couple of cheques this morning, it got me thinking about Christmas being the season of giving. I have long since stopped giving my grandkids a Christmas toy or book as they get so much at this time of year. Instead they choose an item from the PLAN Canada catalogue to be given in their name to a needy child or family. They don't miss another toy and I think it gives them a good feeling to be contributing instead of receiving.

   My other dilemma is this: I have received in the mail this Fall 63 (yes, 63!) Christmas cards, as well as other seasonal items, from a variety of charities that I have never contributed to, in an attempt to solicit a contribution from me. Now, I have a few charities that I contribute to at this time of year (and at other times too) and don't feel obliged to add to that list. But what to do with the Christmas cards? I only send a few cards each year so this supply will last me until I am in my dotage and too doddery to use them! I am planning to take them to the Senior's Centre tomorrow and see if any of my friends can use them, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they also have more cards than they need. How the charities make any money from this type of promotion is beyond me. Your thoughts?

    Colder today, 5C when I got up and has stayed there all day but some glimpses of sun. I had a loaf in the bread machine by 8:00 a.m. this morning and it turned out well. The local bank at the Mall had a fund raiser for United Way this morning, 5 samosas for $5. It seemed like a good deal so that's dinner tonight with the rest of the broccoli casserole.

Donna gave me these beautiful carnations since I missed her party on Sunday. They were the table centrepieces.

The cracked wheat loaf I made today - this should keep (in the freezer) for a couple of weeks.

It rose much better than the last as I adjusted the amount of yeast I used.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Still Mild

    Double digit (11C) weather again today, but rainy, and I heard that Windsor (the most southerly point in Canada at Latitude 42 degrees) got up to 18C! Hard to believe for the last day of November.

   My usual Wednesday - fitness class at 9:00 and again at 11:15 (although the second one I only stay for 30 minutes as my shift in the coffee bar starts at 12:00), then serving coffee and snacks for a couple of hours. However, I closed up early and went to Book Club. We had a great discussion of "The Illegal" by Lawrence Hill (a Canadian author) although most people had some misgivings about it. His first book "Book of Negroes" was so well written that I think quite a few of us were disappointed that this one didn't quite meet expectations. At least it engendered strong opinions which made for an interesting afternoon!

    Last night's fish dish was not the unqualified success I had expected, but I finished it tonight with a broccoli casserole, followed by a perfectly ripe kiwi. Now I am stuffed and definitely won't need any more food tonight!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Productive Day

   The bad news - Frank, our Bridge teacher didn't show up for the lesson today. Hope nothing serious is the matter. The good news - there were enough of us to play a few hands so we had a pleasant two hours. That was to have been our last lesson and I am in two minds whether to sign up for the next session starting in January. I will think about it over the break.

    I had done my shopping before the class started and was home by noon, just in time to do a bit of yard work before lunch. I got the last of the leaves binned, and cut back a couple of evergreens that were looking rather bushy and encroaching on my neighbours yard. He will be happy! I even sat out in the sun and decided it was warm enough to have lunch at the picnic table. It was 15C, sunny and only a slight breeze. I wonder if that will be a record for November 29th. Can't believe Thursday will be the start of December.

   After a nap I tackled another Christmas chore - mincemeat tarts. They turned out beautifully and will go in the freezer until needed. I think the secret is to spray the pan with cooking spray as not one of them stuck.


Enough for everyone!


   Dinner tonight is an inspiration - basa fillet baked with onions, mushrooms, salsa and grated cheese. It should be delicious. Stop by tomorrow for the verdict and some photos!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Out And About

   Still feeling a bit queasy and have hardly eaten anything so far today. Unfortunately, my pills are supposed to be swallowed with food so I had to force down some yogurt for breakfast. Lunch was half an apple and dinner will be an egg and some toast.

    However, I didn`t let my queasy stomach stop me from going to Have-a-Java club this morning! This was the inaugural meeting so I didn`t want to miss it. 23 people showed up, quite a few familiar faces and some I hadn`t seen in a while so it was a very social couple of hours. The location is ideal for our group and there`s lots of parking so we will be returning in January for our next meeting. I went straight from there to Bridge and played with Maria - not our best day but we will blame it on the cards.

   Tonight is the St. Andrew`s Day party at dance group and I am in charge of refreshments. I iced some Empire biscuits this afternoon and will take the tablet I made on Friday. Thank goodness I got everything done before I got sick!

Don`t they look yummy!


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Change of Plans

   This was supposed to be a busy weekend but now I have had a change of plans due to a stomach bug which hit me right after lunch. I was fine this morning but now am shivery and nauseous, no way could I make it to Donna`s birthday celebration! I slept most of the afternoon and took some Pepto-bismal which should stop some of the symptoms.

    Yesterday was busy as I had an afternoon ticket for `Don Giovanni` at Cineplex, on their `Live From the Met` series. It was quite spectacular although I think I nodded off during one of the longer arias! I got home around 4:00 and had a short nap before heading over to Cathie and Frank`s for dinner. There were seven of us altogether so it was a convivial meal. I just hope that wasn`t what made me sick today. No more food for me until tomorrow!

Friday, 25 November 2016

A Productive Day

    I was a busy little bee in the kitchen today, starting at 8:00 a.m. preparing breadcrumbs and dried fruit (soaking it in brandy and Marsala) for the Christmas plum pudding. After I got home from fitness class around 11:00 a.m. I got mixing and had the pudding steamy shortly after.

   After lunch and a short nap I decided to try my hand at making tablet, a delicious sugary Scottish treat! It requires lots of sugar and a can of condensed milk. Unfortunately I grabbed a chocolate version from the cupboard and had it open before I realized - of course, the fact it was brown instead of creamy yellow was a definite clue!

    Once I got the right ingredients in the pan it was just a matter of stir, stir, stir (25 minutes) until it was thickened. In fact I think I let it go a bit too long but it turned out OK. Now the problem is to try to avoid nibbling on it before I take it to our St. Andrew's Day party on Monday.

    So now the plum pudding is wrapped and maturing in the cupboard, that's one course of Christmas Day lunch taken care of!  

     

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Just a Quick Post

    Fitness classes this morning and the afternoon spent behind the counter at the coffee bar. It wasn`t too busy so I had plenty of time to read my book.

   Temperature still hovering around zero and we are expected to get some snowfall overnight but it will turn to rain later and tomorrow is to be slightly warmer. I hope all the snow melts and we have a few mild days as I`m not ready for winter yet!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A Busy Few Days

Sunday and today I was out from early morning to early evening but I managed a morning at home on Monday. The weather has been bitterly cold - temperatures hovering at or just below freezing and a very strong north wind. It felt like it was coming directly from the North Pole. We're just not ready for this cold yet!

    Into the bargain there was a reasonable amount of snow to contend with although not enough that it required shovelling. Hopefully it will all be gone later in the week when it's supposed to be a bit milder. One can only hope. I spent Sunday with the grandkids - it was Natalie's birthday so I stayed for dinner and cake (actually 3 as It was Steve and Alison's birthdays a few days previously and Judy made them each a cake.

    I have managed to stay warm without burning too much fuel. Monday afternoon I spent at the Senior's Centre playing Bridge and I was back there again today for the Bridge class. This morning I played tennis at Hendrina and Carol's condo and we were sweating after an hour and a half. After Bridge class I did a bit of shopping ( buying the ingredients for the plum pudding) and then went to Cineplex to see "Arrival" - a very confusing film which I don't think should have received four stars. I will have to ask someone who has also seen it to explain it to me.

   I got home around 6:30, had a quick dinner of leftovers, and am now cosily tucked up by the fire, watching TV. Nothing much on tonight but since I didn't have a nap, I think I will have an early night.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

A New Recipe

    Quite a change in the weather today, 7C this morning, dull with a few raindrops, down to 4C by the afternoon and will probably be close to freezing overnight.

   I slept in again this morning - it was 8:45 before I surfaced. I had a late night last night as I was "ushering" at Markham theatre for the production of "Doubt" and didn't turn off the light until 11:30. It was well into the play before I realized it was the script from the movie of the same name which I saw a couple of years ago. The acting was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially since the ushering duties are minimal.

   With the late start to the day I felt behind the 8-ball all morning. But I did get all my chores taken care of before lunch, had a nap then watched the semifinals of the tennis. The Murray/Raonic match was extremely close but Murray won in the final tiebreak. Too bad for the Canadian! The other match was rather one sided so it will be Murray and Djokovic in the final tomorrow.

   Chicken legs and veggies roasting in the oven but I have been nibbling so won't eat for another hour. Forsyte Saga on TV at 8:00 - I have ordered the series from the library as I missed a couple of episodes while on holiday - and I've had the gas fire on so the room is nice and cozy. I am currently watching an Italian chef cook a simple version of Eggplant Parmigiana and it looks so easy and tasty I might just try it. Reminder to self - buy an eggplant and some pecorino cheese tomorrow! Now he's cooking stuffed calamari but I think I'll give that a pass.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Kept on my Toes

   A busy morning - I slept late but was showered, fed (half a banana with peanut butter and some yogurt) and out for fitness class by 8:45! Left there around 10:30 after coffee (two cookies) and chat, and stopped off at the plaza for a birthday card for Natalie. I decided to hop into the drug store to get my 'flu shot which took a while but I was home by 11:30. A quick change then back out to rake leaves and generally tidy the garden. All my bins are now full, in fact I had to store the last of the leaves in plastic bags (can't put them out) and will transfer them to the bins after Wednesday's pickup.

    It was an extremely nice day so I sat out in the sun, reading the newspaper, until lunch time (half an apple and a bowl of carrot lentil soup) and was quite ready for a nap after all that activity and fresh air. Right now I am watching tennis from London - they're in the third set so it won't be long - then I plan to make a quiche or frittata with cheese, tomato and red pepper. Then the cupboard will be virtually bare, ready for grocery shopping tomorrow.

     Valencia: the old and the new.






Thursday, 17 November 2016

Socializing

Lots of colourful houses by the sea in Villajoyosa, south of Benidorm. We took the train there.
   Another mild, sunny day with the high around 12C.  Probus meeting this morning - the speaker was from "Dignitas", telling us how to pre-plan our funerals! But I had a nice chat with friends over coffee, signed up for next week's lunch at "The Pickle Barrel" and won a freezer lunch bag which won't go wrong. So worthwhile attending despite the depressing subject matter (one friend went home before the speaker - couldn't stand being forced to think of such a morbid topic).

    I had to wait in for the furnace guy this afternoon so didn't get to enjoy the nice weather. However, he got my gas fire started for the winter so I am nice and cozy again. The remote isn't working but he showed me how to start it manually so I guess that will do for now. I only use it in the evenings to warm up the family room while I'm watching TV.

    Thursday is a good night on TV so that's what I will be doing shortly. Fried fish, Brussel sprouts and mushrooms (from last night) for dinner and I think I will fry up half a tomato for a bit of colour. Also must remember to eat the red peppers I bought this week as the last lot got soft before I got around to them. Trying to eat more vegetables and less carbs is tricky!

   More photos:


Underwater fish viewing while visiting Benidorm island - we were crowded into a little submarine.

Sunrise from my balcony - quite spectacular some mornings!


Socializing

Lots of colourful houses by the sea in Villajoyosa, south of Benidorm. We took the train there.
   Another mild, sunny day with the high around 12C.  Probus meeting this morning - the speaker was from "Dignitas", telling us how to pre-plan our funerals! But I had a nice chat with friends over coffee, signed up for next week's lunch at "The Pickle Barrel" and won a freezer lunch bag which won't go wrong. So worthwhile attending despite the depressing subject matter (one friend went home before the speaker - couldn't stand being forced to think of such a morbid topic).

    I had to wait in for the furnace guy this afternoon so didn't get to enjoy the nice weather. However, he got my gas fire started for the winter so I am nice and cozy again. The remote isn't working but he showed me how to start it manually so I guess that will do for now. I only use it in the evenings to warm up the family room while I'm watching TV.

    Thursday is a good night on TV so that's what I will be doing shortly. Fried fish, Brussel sprouts and mushrooms (from last night) for dinner and I think I will fry up half a tomato for a bit of colour. Also must remember to eat the red peppers I bought this week as the last lot got soft before I got around to them. Trying to eat more vegetables and less carbs is tricky!

   More photos:


Underwater fish viewing while visiting Benidorm island - we were crowded into a little submarine.

Sunrise from my balcony - quite spectacular some mornings!


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Tennis on TV

     Firstly an addendum to yesterday's post. I forgot to mention that after the RWTO lunch yesterday, the entertainment, a flute ensemble, had us singing along to carols. They played so well that it was no effort to join in and sing along. Yesterday was also the day for our members to bring in Christmas gifts which will be distributed to needy families by our local police station which does a huge toy drive next month.

   Today started off mild (14C) but rainy. However, it dried up in the afternoon and the temperature dropped to around 10C. I think we have some colder weather coming. I took some paperbacks into the Senior's Centre this morning prior to my exercise class. They sell them for the princely sum of 25 cents to raise money for special events.

    It has been a great week for tennis on TV as the Sports channel has been showing the Masters tournament from London. Usually there is a dearth of tennis matches on our channels but I guess this is of sufficient importance to earn coverage. This round robin contest showcases the top eight players of the year battling for the top spot and there is a Canadian in the mix. He's not doing too well but there are still several matches to go.

     One last photo from my garden which I took a couple of days ago. The plant, echinicea, is now cut back and smothered with mulch to ensure it survives the freezing winter temperatures.


    I have eaten lightly today (except for a couple of cookies as I was working the coffee bar) and I have a nice piece of fish to cook for dinner. I think I will coat it in a breadcrumb mixture and fry it. That should keep me until tomorrow's breakfast.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A New Assignment

   Another Christmas first today - turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce at the RWTO lunch; it also included salad, mashed potatoes and buttered carrots - all delicious. It was followed by apple pie and coffee which I haven't had in some time so I was a very happy camper!    

I have taken over the name tags assignment at the lunches and came home with a box of tags ready for January's lunch. I'm hoping to have some help as I plan to keep on the book sale table - can't be in two places at the same time.

   Another beautiful Fall day with a high of 13C. We have been truly blessed with mild weather this Fall. Long may it continue.

   Some more photos from my trip:

View from a mountain summit north of Benidorm.

A Salvador Dali statue in the town hall of Alicante. That's where he was born.

Me, after climbing Benidorm Island. It took about 20 minutes.


Monday, 14 November 2016

Say It's Not True!

    Last Friday my first Christmas card arrived in the mail, and today I noticed my neighbours across the road have lit their Christmas lights. C'mon guys, it's still only November! I haven't even made the plum pudding and it's supposed to soak for six weeks!

   Bridge this afternoon and Marie and I had terrible cards. We only played two hands but made the contract both times. June and Pinky had all the good hands but we put them down a couple of times when they were overconfident.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Weekend

   Didn't even get the computer fired up at all yesterday as I was at the RSCDS tea dance all afternoon. It was quite dark by the time I got home so I just had a quick dinner and settled in front of the TV.

   Today has been sunny and quite mild. After a late breakfast of a boiled egg, toast and coffee, and a few chores, I was out in the garden doing the last of the preparations for winter. I raided the composter for some compost to cover the plants and then cleaned up the deck. I even sat out enjoying the sun for half-an-hour; there was quite a bit of heat in it. Soup for lunch then a short nap and I have been reading ever since  "The Last Child" by John Hart - not my usual choice of book but I am enjoying it.

   Chicken and green beans for dinner - the chicken is already cooked so just the green beans to prepare, my kind of cooking! I am watching Lidia prepare stuffed eggplants on her TV show. They look delicious, but too much work for me to be bothered with!

   As promised (finally!) some photos from my recent vacation.

There were lots of palm trees in Benidorm and many interesting walks. This was in the old town.


The view from my hotel room. I was on the 7th floor. On the horizon is Benidorm Island which we visited.

Exercise class on the beach.  This only happened on the weekend. Usually the beach was much quieter.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Wednesday November 9

    Depressing start to the day - the results of the U.S. election was not what I was hoping for. 'Nuff said!

    I am feeling slightly better today but didn't have a very good nights sleep so I went down to the drugstore today for something to dry up my sniffles and repress the cough. I also got a coffee at Tim Horton's using my TH card. I love free stuff!

   I decided to skip fitness class this morning and stayed in bed an extra hour. I also had a nap this afternoon so feel more rested now. Just as well I have some good books to read!