Sunday 28 February 2016

Busy in the Kitchen

   Gorgeous day today with the temperature in the double digits by the afternoon. The morning was sunny, although breezy, but it clouded over in the afternoon. I took a walk around the garden and saw lots of shoots pushing up but the shaded areas are still very wet so I wasn't tempted to start preparing the beds. Amazing for February!

   After dealing with the laundry this morning I went up to Bridlewood Mall for a couple of things I forgot to pick up yesterday. There's another restaurant opening up there soon. That will make 5, not counting the bubble tea shop and  the juice bar. I don't know how they will all survive as they never seem very busy, although I'm usually not there at meal times.

   After lunch I put a loaf in the bread maker and later I made a beef stew with loads of vegetables, including my favourite - brussell sprouts! It cooked away in the oven for 4 hours and came out quite delicious. Lots of leftovers for the rest of the week. I will slice the loaf later on and test a slice with jam, then store the slices in the freezer. That should last me a couple of weeks.

Saturday 27 February 2016

A Day At Home

    Much milder today, starting at -4C and sunny this morning. By noon it had clouded over but got up to 5C, so feeling a bit more like the coming of Spring.

   Just the usual Saturday chores - a load of laundry washed and hung to dry, grocery shopping and, on the way home, a stop at the drug store to pick up my prescription. Since then it has been a relaxing day, including a nap.

   I had an interesting meal this evening. I baked some chicken drumsticks in a sticky sauce, took the meat off the bones and wrapped them in tacos with lettuce and half an avocado. It was delicious and filling and so easy! I had bought the avocado in the morning ($1.29, ridiculous price!) and had a feeling it was a little over ripe and about to spoil. I had to trim a few soft spots but, other than that, it was perfect. By tomorrow it would have been spoiled, this has happened to me often. It's so hard to tell what they are like inside.

   I have the fire on tonight even though it's not very cold. It just looks more cheerful. I have a good book on the go, "The Hired Girl", and some good shows on TV, so I will be cozy and entertained!


Friday 26 February 2016

A New "Do"

   Minus 10C when I got up this morning and, although it was sunny, I don't think we made it above zero all day. Presently it's -6C so winter is still hanging around.

   I managed to get myself organized enough to get out for the 9:00 a.m. fitness class despite having a veritable mountain of dirty dishes to sort in the kitchen sink. I had a good workout but didn't hang around very long after - just enough to gulp down a coffee and munch on a cookie - I had to be at the hairdresser by 10:30. She gave me a nice short cut and thinned my hair so I should be good for a few weeks.

   Back for Progressive Bridge by 11:45 and got a spot at the last table. No free soup this week as the staff are "working to rule" pending the renewal of their contract. So no perks in the meantime. I had some good hands and some not so good but, overall, I don't think I played too badly.

   Just a light supper tonight - I just wasn't hungry as I ate the last piece of yesterday's falafel sandwich when I got home from Bridge. So I just baked an egg on toasted cheese with some mushrooms that needed eating up. I need to clear the fridge ready for grocery shopping tomorrow.

Thursday 25 February 2016

A Great Meal Out

   After a quick breakfast of half a banana with peanut butter and some yogurt (my favourite go-to breakfast of the moment) and a quick swipe at the snow on the driveway, I was at my Yoga class by 9:00 a.m. I am getting better at the stretches but the balance postures are really beyond me. I am wondering whether or not to sign up again next session. I do enjoy the meditation portions of the class.

 It was quite chilly with a cold wind when I set out this morning and it started to snow again before class was over. Home for coffee and toast while reading the paper and then a quick change before going out for lunch with the RODEO ladies. We were at Lara's Restaurant today which serves predominately Middle Eastern food. I had a Falafel sandwich with a Fatoush salad. It was full of tasty stuff (pickled turnip, no less) and interesting spices. The servings were huge and I brought home at least half of the meal. I had the rest for dinner tonight and, in fact, there's still some of the sandwich left for a late night snack. And all that for only $9.50! I will certainly go there again!

   Very stuffed at the moment so I think I will eat lightly tomorrow. Lots of good shows on TV tonight, perfect when you can't move from the sofa, and the fire's on to keep me cozy as the temperature drops. I'll be up until 11:00 watching "Shetland". Good times!

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Soup and a Dip

    Sunny again today but it was pretty chilly walking up to Hendrina's building for tennis at 9:45 this morning. We played for almost two hours and I felt I played better than I have for several weeks. However, my serve is still pretty weak - I will have to work on that before the outdoor season starts up.

   I went straight over to Bridge class (after a quick costume change at home). I took my lunch with me and ate between classes - Conventions finishes at 12:45 and Play of the Hand starts at 1:00. I managed to get a seat at one of the tables and we set up hands and analyzed how we would play them with advice from Frank. Home by 3:15 for a nap and then some light cooking chores.

    I had bought a cauliflower on the weekend and decided to make soup with half of it. The other half I cut into florets and roasted in the oven. It looks tasty but, unfortunately, I left it in too long. I will have to trim off the burned bits! I also made a red pepper dip from some roasted red peppers Judy brought me on the weekend. It was very tasty with some pita bread and veggies - a healthy snack. I made it by processing the peppers with a little garlic, some sour cream and a chunk of cheese.

   Just leftover fish for dinner so it will be an easy cleanup, but I still have to blend the soup with my immersion blender - such a handy gadget!

Monday 22 February 2016

Sunny But Cool

   Another sunny day but it was a bit on the cool side, around 4C. I spent the morning at home just puttering then went out for Bridge this afternoon. I had one hideous hand where I bid 3 No Trump and went down 5! The other hands were better but nothing spectacular. Pinkie had amazing cards and won most contracts she bid, only going down once. We told her she should get over to the casino and try her luck there!

   A light lunch - an apple and half a sandwich. Tonight is leftover lamb chop and vegetables which I must go and heat up soon. I am heading out for dance group shortly. Right now I am watching tennis from Mexico where it is very hot and humid. Talk about a contrast in climates!

Sunday 21 February 2016

Another Mild Day

    Started off at 7C again this morning but quite a cold wind so I wasn't outdoors too much. The sun shone for most of the morning then clouded over later as the temperature dropped. The snow has completely disappeared but it's likely we will get more before the end of winter.

   I forgot about dance practice this afternoon - hope they didn't miss me! I had it in my calendar which I checked yesterday but then it completely slipped my mind - a rather worrying senior moment! We are supposed to be practicing for a St. Patrick's Day demo in March but I will just have to brush up on the dances by myself.

   Nothing fancy for meals today - just soup, crackers and cheese for lunch and fish, sweet potato fries and peas for dinner, nice easy meals with not too much preparation and cleanup. I have lost a few pounds (maybe 4 or 5) by cutting back on carbs - too bad I like bread so much!

Saturday 20 February 2016

Free Food!

   It was quite Spring like today, 7C this morning with some light rain, then a sunny afternoon and I'm sure the temperature got into the double digits. I went for a walk around 3:00 p.m. and although it was quite windy, I didn't need gloves or boots. The snow is pretty much all gone here in the city although the ski areas are still operating. It has been a poor season for them this year. 

   I cashed in $20 worth of PC Points on my shopping trip this morning - it feels so good to get free food! I stocked up on coffee and marmalade and indulged myself with a couple of avocados, a red pepper and a giant cauliflower - they have all been so expensive this winter.

    Judy dropped by with the grandkids this afternoon - they had been shopping at Fairview Mall for a Lego kit Elliot had saved up for. It has been out of stock since Christmas so it has been a long wait but he managed to keep his money intact. He's not a big spender. I had done some baking before they arrived so they left with a chunk of cake just out of the oven in their hot little hands. It was a fruit cake made with mixed peel and glace cherries left over from the Christmas plum pudding and it turned out quite well. I sliced the rest and stored it in the freezer to have with coffee another day.

   My other culinary attempt today was a lamb shoulder chop (also bought with PC Points) cooked on a bed of vegetables with a liberal dose of Marsala wine mixed with tomato paste. I cooked it in the oven until it was falling-off-the-bone tender and the vegetables were getting slightly crispy. A yummy, one pot, meal! Now there's just the dishes to wash then I can relax for the evening.

Friday 19 February 2016

Some Home Cooking

   There were a few blinks of sun this afternoon but, for the most part, it was dull and quite mild. We had a high of 5C and it should continue like that for the next few days. Maybe some rain and the snow will disappear. It's certainly beginning to feel more like Spring.

   I spent the day at home today and made soup this morning. I have been surviving on the "free" soups from the Senior's Centre but they are all gone from the freezer and I didn't go in today for more, so - home made it was, carrot and lentil, and it was very tasty and probably healthier!

Thursday 18 February 2016

Out of the Chill

   The Internet went down yesterday just as I was about to write my daily entry so here is a capsulated version of the last two days.

   After the snow and bitter cold on Tuesday the weather has gradually returned to more seasonal levels. In fact today was almost Spring like with just -3C and sun melting the snow and ice. The next few days are supposed to be in positive values but rainy - all good news as far as I'm concerned!

   Probus this morning and a very entertaining speaker. I picked up several books which will keep me going for the next month, although I also have to reread next month's book club selection. Bridge this afternoon with Bonnie, Pauline and Margaret. I did not have good cards but did have one hand that was playable and, just barely, winnable.

   Yesterday at the Senior's Centre I was offered some pasta left over from the lunch on Tuesday so that will be dinner tonight, baked up with some sausages and extra vegetables and parmesan cheese, and a salad. A nice easy dinner.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Valentine's Day

    I know I'm a bit late for this but I have an excuse - I had unexpected overnight guests on Sunday so didn't get a chance to get online. Judy and Dave had house guests for "The Great Chili Cookoff", an annual event, and James was sick, coughing and snuffling. So Judy brought him over before heading back for the party. He was an extremely easy guest - ate some supper, watched some TV, had a bath and went straight to bed and to sleep. Judy came back later in case he had a restless night, but we all slept through to morning. It was nice to have company and they left shortly after breakfast. Luckily Monday was a holiday so no rush to get out for school.

    Sunday was still extremely cold, setting several low temperature records for Feb. 14th around the province and even here in Toronto. It has warmed up considerably since then and today we had our first substantial snowfall of the winter - about 5cms. so fairly easy to shovel. I will finish shovelling it tomorrow but the temperature is supposed to be + 6C by the weekend so it will probably be all melted by then.

   Lunch out today with RWTO; it was a delicious piece of salmon in a mustard sauce with vegetables and rice, Greek salad for starters and chocolate coated ice cream with coffee for afters. I had only had half a banana with peanut butter and some yogurt for breakfast so I was good and hungry. Just a frittata for dinner tonight.

   The speaker at lunch was Sergeant Gomez of the Toronto Police who was very funny while teaching us how not to be a victim and other safety tips. He even had us screaming in preparation for a possible purse snatcher - great fun!

Saturday 13 February 2016


    The furnace is chugging away and the fire is lit so I am cozy and warm but it never really warmed up outside all day. The morning temperature was -23C, quite the coldest day so far this winter,  and when I went out to the store for some fresh fruit and veg, it was only slightly warmer, -19C. However, the sun shone brightly all day and is just now setting. Tomorrow shouldn't be quite so cold and I may venture out for some fresh air.

    I had a hearty breakfast to start me off today - poached egg on toast and grapefruit juice followed by more toast and coffee. Cauliflower soup and crackers and cheese for lunch with an apple have kept me going but soon I will have a glass of White Zinfandel with some nibblies - I bought a Boursin cheese this morning and can't wait to try it! Dinner is more leftovers but I will make a salad to complement the rest of the meal. And I think there's still a mincemeat tart in the freezer so I won't lack for something sweet.

    I picked up a DVD at the Senior's Centre yesterday which I plan to watch this evening. It's "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow and, although I've seen it a couple of times already, it has some interesting twists that I always enjoy.

Friday 12 February 2016

A New Format for Bridge

    As predicted, the temperature is dropping - we will have -16C tomorrow. Today wasn't too bad but the wind was from the north and decidedly chilling. Still no snow (hope I'm not tempting Providence) and Monday is expected to be back into positive degrees again. We had sun this afternoon for a while.

    I had horrible hands at Bridge on Thursday  - almost decided to give up the game - but the cards were kinder today and I managed to play (and win) a couple of hands. I'm quite enjoying Progressive Bridge and meeting lots of new people as we change partners and tables after four hands. I brought home a pasta dish from the free giveaway so will have that for dinner tonight. I have been eating a fish pie for the last two days and, although it was good and full of vegetables, I feel like a change. I hope it's tasty! I also got a carton of soup which is now in the freezer for next week.

   I got the movie "Wild" from the library this week and watched it last night. It's based on a true story about a woman walking the Pacific Coast Trail under horrendously difficult conditions. I had read the book a few months ago - it was a selection for my book club - and the movie kept well to the story line.

   I am all set for an indoor weekend while the temperature drops - lots of books and a new jigsaw puzzle. I hope there's some good TV tomorrow night!

Tuesday 9 February 2016

An Icy Morning

    We were greeted with a slight covering of icy snow this morning. It was blowing a gale when I came home from dance group last night, with blowing snow, so I put the car in the garage just in case. It didn't take long to clear the driveway this morning but the side roads were pretty icy. The temperature was just below zero for most of the day but is supposed to plummet in the next few days with a very chilly weekend ( -10C to -14C) coming up.

  I played a little better at tennis this morning, especially my serve, but still was thwarted by Swan's lobs - she is quite the expert! I was on the losing end in both sets but it was fun and good exercise.

    After a quick lunch I headed for Bridge class and picked up a couple of good tips. We just played until 2:30 so I had time for a nap when I got home. Later I watched a movie I picked up at the Senior's Centre - Billie Elliot - it was VHS so thankfully my VCR is still working! They also have a few DVD's but none that I was interested in seeing. We just pay a token amount for those and books and puzzles - it's more like an exchange program as I usually return them for resale once I am finished with them.

Sunday 7 February 2016

A Quiet Weekend

    Nothing on the agenda for the last two days so I am feeling quite rested and ready for another busy week. The weather continues to be unseasonably mild, still above zero - I even got outside for a bit of garden cleanup this afternoon, sweeping up the cones and needles under my big spruce tree. I also emptied the recycling and compost bins so the house is clutter and odour free once more!

   I made a batch of cauliflower soup for lunch as I found a cauliflower for $1.99 last week (it was $5 earlier). It was delicious with a sandwich of home made bread. No meat but lots of fresh vegetables. Still eating the spinach quiche and tonight I will  have it with Caesar salad and pickled beets. I also  fished out some mini eclairs from the freezer for a tasty dessert. With eating up leftovers, there's a minimum of cleanup afterwards.

Friday 5 February 2016

Interesting Conversations

   The thermometer registered 1C this morning and barely budged all day. There was some sun this morning and a few little flurries later on but it continues to be quite unseasonably mild this winter. Long may it continue!

    Another good workout this morning followed by our usual chat over coffee. One reason I tend to linger with "the girls"  after fitness class is because our conversation ranges through several  interesting topics. Today we started with hearing Hazel's efforts to get out of Jury Duty which naturally led to everyone's contribution on past experiences getting to, hanging around and traipsing into court rooms at the University Ave. location. Next topic was renting versus owning, property tax increases and condo fees. Soon we morphed this topic into the sad state of our investments created by the state of the global economy and changes to our RRIF payments. Pretty heady topics! 

    Progressive Bridge was fun this afternoon and I managed a couple of respectable hands. I also picked up a couple of free soups which are now in the freezer for lunches next week. Around 4:00 p.m. I had a sudden burst of energy and cleaned all three bathrooms while I waited for a pot of beets to cook. After a short break I finished pickling the beets and followed that up with mixing up a batch of pastry (from a mix) for a spinach and sun dried tomato quiche with lots of cheese. It is just out of the oven and looks very appetizing. I also got a couple of mincemeat tarts out of the pastry trimmings - dessert sorted!

Thursday 4 February 2016

Out and About All Day

    As I predicted, we are back to more seasonal temperatures today - only 3C  although it was sunny and the wind had died down. I had quite a busy day, starting with yoga at 9:00 a.m. then a short break at home, just enough time to wash up the breakfast (and last night's dinner) dishes and fix myself a packed lunch. This was to take with me to Bridge and eat in between hands or when I was "dummy".

   The bridge was fun - we had some interesting hands on both sides. I bid and made a five hearts contract at one point which was quite thrilling! We played until 3:00 p.m. when I left for a swim, sauna and soak in the hot tub to get rid of the aches from yoga. The sauna is a new endeavour and I am finding it quite relaxing - it's not as hot as I imagined it might be - a dry heat and quite bearable for about 5 minutes.

   Dinner tonight was Tuscan chicken from the freezer. I had made it last week but didn't feel up to eating it after the first day so packaged into individual portions which I will dip into over the next few days.

   My new favourite TV show is on tonight at 10:00 p.m. - "Shetland" - a detective show set in the Shetland Islands north of the Scottish mainland. The scenery is very bleak but much as I imagined it must be that far north. Can't wait!

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Just Like Spring

    It was Groundhog Day yesterday and, although Wiarton Willie predicted 6 more weeks of winter, today was windy but a balmy 14C! However, the temperature will be dropping again tonight so our early taste of Spring will be short-lived. All the snow is gone and there are a few shoots poking up in the garden - a couple of tulips and some early garlic sprouts - but they will likely suffer from some frost damage in the coming days.

   Last Saturday was another Robbie Burns lunch, this one very tasty, followed by some Scottish songs and dancing. A great time was had by all but I was pretty wiped by the time I got home. Sunday was a quiet day and Monday only Bridge in the afternoon and more dancing in the evening. Our social group has had to relocate but our new home is familiar to most of us as we used it for another group last year.

    Tennis on Tuesday followed by Bridge lessons but I was home by 3:00 p.m. Usual fitness class this morning and back to the Senior's Centre for 11:15 as Maria had a doctor's appointment and asked me to come in early to cover for her. So it was a long afternoon behind the counter!

    Fish in a cheese sauce with peas and fries for dinner tonight - a fairly healthy meal so I may indulge in something sweet later!