Monday, October 31, 2011

Welcome to Twin Peaks

Special Agent Dale Cooper

The Log Lady and her Log

Me (recycling sushi costume from 2008), Big Yam, Neighbour & her daughter at the
drop-in centre's Halloween S**tshow

O.D.B. Pumpkin

David Lynch pumpkin

The house - decorated

Halloween debriefing:

a) I'm so so so glad I took yesterday off. Getting the second of my two pumpkins done was an exercise in down-to-the-wire frantic, stressful carving. I'm pretty proud of both pumpkins though - there's something about the candlelight that imbues the carvings with more life than your standard issue stencil job. Also:

b) Halloween started wicked early! Peeps are crazy! I had dinner ready to go at 5:30 and we were just finishing up and washing up when the whole troop of neighbourhood kids came by our house at like, 6:15. What the blood?!? I was running out the house trying to get my pumpkins set up and lit and getting the mummy lanterns done accompanied by the very-un-Halloween and kid-inappropriate exclamation, "HOLY CRAP!?!??!!" when I answered the door.

c) I think it's really, really lame when the neighbours all shut down their candy giving at like, 7:30pm just because THEIR kids are all super-young (like, under 5) and they want to get back to their usual nighttime routine. It's just weak. I think 9pm is an acceptable time to shut 'er down. In the suburbs, we would go to 10pm, easy! And it's like, just because your kids are young now, what do you think is gonna happen when they're like, 10 or 11? Halloween is FOR EVERYONE! It was just super-depressing answering the door at 8pm and seeing all the other houses on the street all shuttered and dark with their pumpkins blown out. That's now how you become the street to be, jerks!!

d) I obviously have crazy "Street to Be" aspirations that aren't shared by my neighbours

e) Two forty year olds (1 in a mask, 1 sans) came to our house and wanted candy. The Dotytron felt sorry for them and it was just awkward all around.

f) Next year, I'm totally going to make gravestones. I've wanted to for the past TWO years and have been thwarted. We had crappy cardboard ones the first year we moved in, but I want ones made out of foam insulation (tutorial courtesy of Martha Stewart, but of course)

g) I wore my recycled sushi costume to answer the door but the Dotytron wore his "home clothes" uniform of: plaid flannel pajama pants, t-shirt, and junky hoodie, threw on a lei, and called himself a "stay at home dad on vacation" - LOL!

h) family costumes were a big hit this year. Here is a sneak peek at next year's idea:

That's right - going as Prince and the Revolution, with the Big Yam dressed up as Prince. LOL!!!!!!! I can't even talk about how funny this costume is going to be. Master T as Purple Rain era Prince?!??? With a little teeny tiny mustache drawn on? So freakin adorable.

i) The Prince thing is inspired by the fact that he's kicking off his next tour in Toronto, later this month, and we kinda want to go, if we can afford it. When SMckay found it she basically screamed loud enough to wake the dead and was totally willing to pay like, 50000 bajillion dollars for floor seats - we are not so similarly inclined. We'll see if we get tix!

End of Halloween wrap-up.

Last night's dinner was SO FREAKIN' GOOD! I made a curried buttercup squash and apple soup with these broccoli rabe, mozzarella and homemade tomato jam paninis. The homemade tomato jam is AMAZING. It's like a sweet, slightly spicy, best tasting ketchup - almost like a cross between a pepper jelly and ketchup. So good!

Tonight is snoozeville class for jerks. All I want to do is curl up and read Mindy Kaling's book which was delivered to my Kindle this morning, but no, I gotta sit through a boring lecture on Data Analysis. From a prof who likes to show us how "cool" he is by starting each lecture off with a clip from the Daily Show or a Calvin and Hobbes comic - and I LIKE Calvin and Hobbes (or at least, the Karl Lagerfeld of 1993 did)!!!


Tomato Jam
makes about 3/4-1 cup

1 1/2 lbs plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated fresh ginger (or more, to taste - I used ground ginger because I didn't have fresh...about 1 t. ground)
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. salt

- combine all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium high heat until it boils.
- reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring every now and then, until the mixture gets thick and syrupy.
- this is a fantastic, fantastic condiment that is worth your time, trust!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

So much a gwanning

I meant to post yesterday, but we were so busy with our collective ditch day that I didn't get a chance. The Big Yam had a decreased appetite on Thursday that J noticed during the day and he barely at any dinner at night was pretty sad and tired so I brought him back to our doctor, who said that one ear was definitely in ear infection mode and put him on some penicillin. He seems to be doing better already but Thursday night was a write-off. The Boobla woke up in the middle of the night inconsolable so I brought him into bed with us and he was so snuffly the Dotytron couldn't sleep and he moved down to sleep on the couch so we all got a rotten night's sleep. The Dotytron called in sick because we were having B & G and S & P over for dinner last night, and if he hadn't, with all the running around (I had a massage in the morning) carting the Big Yam to his appointment and back I would have had to cancel dinner.
So we all ditched. The Big Yam ditched daycare, the Dotytron ditched school and I kinda ditched but not really since yesterday was my day off. It was nice. I loooove ditch days. I also loooove 4 day work weeks.
Even in my bleary-eyed, sleep deprived frustration at being a human cow suckled on by a mouth breathing pint-sized zombie, the Big Yam was pretty hilarious. He got all milk drunk and started doing this drunken flop around the bed - pitching himself forward and backward, babbling silly stuff, laughing to himself, and playing with our hair like a drunk girl at a party. It was pretty funny.
On Thursday night I had my friend K over for dinner. I had made this Greek Mac'n'Cheese on Sunday (part of a whirling dervish Sunday where I cranked out 3 meals in like, 2 hours and was EXHAUSTED afterwards). The mac'n'cheese was a HUGE HUGE HUGE winner, so I've posted the recipe at the end. I doubled the recipe, which made enough for 3 square foil pans of mac'n'cheese. One for us to eat on Thursday and two frozen - one for us at a later date and one for my neighbour when she has her baby:

After dinner K and I went to see a reading put on by the Walrus as part of the International Festival of Authors. Going to IFOA makes you feel like part of the Toronto intelligentsia (which I like). We saw Elizabeth Hay read from Alone in the Classroom and Tom Perrotta read from his latest, The Leftovers, which I just finished reading about 10 minutes ago. I hadn't really been interested in Elizabeth Hay - her Giller Prize-winning novel, Late Nights on Air I had (unjustifiably) written off as "mom-lit" (in this category I put books like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) - I was in it to see Perrotta. As it turns out, Hay won me over. She is a lovely, lovely reader. Her voice is smooth, subtle, soothing with a faint husk to it and the way she paces the phrases is so bewitching to listen to. I felt transported into the world of her new book and am intrigued by the salacious intimations of some bedrock-shaking scandal hinted at in the passages she read. Perrotta, by contrast, isn't as great of a reader. He also picked a weird chapter, in the middle of the novel, which required too much explanation - if I were him, I would have chosen the beginning chapter, which lays out the complicated world of the book a bit better. His voice and elocution aren't as strong as Hay's (K later told me that Hay has a radio background, which makes sense). But it was still nice to hear them both. If I had gotten my act together I would have gotten a book signed, but as it was, it was late on a Thursday and I didn't have the mustard for it.

I loved this book. The book follows the Garvey family - a small town father, mother, daughter, and son, as they each try to make sense of their lives and find meaning in the wake of what has become known as the Sudden Departure - an event 3 years before the events of the novel, where millions of people around the world suddenly disappeared, as if the Rapture had occurred. However, part of what makes characters in the book unhinged is the randomness of the Sudden Departure - the indiscriminate religious affiliations and morals of those who dissipated into thin air. They weren't all Christians, which makes it even harder for those left behind (religious and non) to accept. Stephen King, in his review of the book in the New York Times Sunday Book Review said it best: "Perrotta has delivered a troubling disquisition on how ordinary people react to extraordinary and inexplicable events, the power of family to hurt and to heal, and the unobtrusive ease with which faith can slide into fanaticism." The aftermath of the Sudden Departure finds each member of the Garvey family struggling to cope in different ways: father Kevin, now the town Mayor, gamely tries to put the uncertainty and misery behind him, longing for a return to the halcyon normalcy pre-disappearance; wife Laurie finds comfort in a cult/movement known as the Guilty Remnant - people who dress in white, take a vow of silence, and chain smoke, appearing at events and standing as visible reminders that the world cannot, and must not, slide back into its ignorant, evil ways; son Tom quits university and joins another cult headed by a charismatic figure known as "Holy Wayne" - a man whose reputation is built on his ability to absorb other's pain; and daughter Jill flounders in the wake of the abandonment (by choice) of her family - drifting without an anchor in a sea of high school bad influences.

The book is about family, it's about faith, it's about how people deal with the unexplainable - both on a large scale, and also, on a small scale. Having recently dealt with the loss of a loved one, I found Perrotta's text really spoke to the uncertainty and rootlessness one can feel when one loses someone. The mass disappearance of the Sudden Departure is but an exaggeration for the questions and purpose-defining self-examination that occur after you lose someone - with death always, no matter what, seeming random and without purpose when it touches your life. I also thought the book really brought to life how someone can turn themselves into a fanatic so slowly and how "normal" the process can be. It's something I've always wondered - on more than one occasion, I've looked across the table at the Dotytron and wondered if one day he would wake up and turn into an evangelical Christian - the way people seem to suddenly do (ahem, Kirk Cameron.) Is it a sudden shift? How does one suddenly turn their back on everything they once held dear? The book describes the process in a way that is real, subtle, and for that, all the more terrifying. It also deals with how hard it is to be young - a teenager, a college student - when these generation-defining moments turn an already turbulent, unstable time into more of a chaotic mess of fraught choices. I would highly recommend this book. I'm feeling lost as to what I'm going to read now...I've got that weird blues you get when you finish an engrossing book, the hangover or coming down off of a good read.

Me at 7am on Friday, about to put 3 racks of ribs on the smoker
Our ditch day breakfast of fried salt pork and Swedish pancakes.

Guys, Laura Ingalls doesn't lie - fried salt pork is the ill na na. It's soooo good! The fat turns puffy and translucent and airy light - it's like a cross between the most ephemeral pork rinds and the sweetest bacon. I highly recommend it (in moderation - ie. once a year).

Fridays dinner: ribs, coleslaw, baked beans, cornbread

Peach cobbler and Tahitian vanilla ice cream

Why don't I make cobbler more often? Good question. Eating the crunchy biscuits on top of the soupy, silken, just-sweet peaches was enough to make me question my own non-cobbler-making-sanity. Cobbler is for people who like biscuits (should be everyone) and peaches (should be everyone). I will post the recipe tomorrow.

Today was my ditch day. I just didn't feel like going to school after a late dinner with good friends (people didn't leave until after midnight!!) and a night spent with the Big Yam in our bed, which had the unfortunate appendix of him falling OUT of our bed and onto the floor. Ouch. I can still see myself flying out of my half-asleep daze when I heard the thump and see his outline, on our floor, on his back, in the dark and I'm still shook about it. Luckily he was fine - nothing a lot of kisses and cuddles couldn't fix...but I still feel awful about it.

We broke from our Saturday morning St. Lawrence tradition to check out the Evergreen Brickworks farmer's market instead - so nice there! It's still being held outdoors for the next week or so - it was cold, but they had steel drum fires going and there seemed to be a dios de los muertos theme happening. We got these delicious breakfast crepes from Clement's Crepes - his crepes are made with red fife flour and the one we like has egg, spinach, chunks of ham, mozzarella, and hollandaise sauce and it's SOOOO good. It's $9, which you would think is really steep for a crepe, but it's actually a very substantial meal. You get full eating it and finishing it is a bit of a chore.

Then we went to the Friends of Greenwood Park (FROG)'s annual Fall Festival - they had apples and coffee and a fire truck and a police car and face painting and a magic was small but nice. I think I might join FROG and become more involved - did I tell you guys I was thinking of running for school board trustee? I figure FROG is a good way of starting...

We brought the Big Yam in his costume and it was the hands-down favorite of the people we saw, including our City Councillor, who took a picture of him and tweeted it.

I am very vocal in my bias against store-bought costumes - and I feel like the photos above show why.

Tonight we have two (!) Halloween parties that we'll be attending at the very UN-party time of like, 7pm, with the aim of being in bed by the very family-friendly time of 9pm.



Greek style mac'n'cheese
adapted from Saveur Magazine, makes 8-12 MASSIVE servings

3-6 slices bread, torn into smallish pieces, or I used the heels (about 3" long - both ends of the bread) from a multigrain loaf
3 T. olive oil
6 T. butter
1 lb (approx) of elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
1/2 c. flour
6 cups of milk
1 lb (approx) kefalotyri cheese, grated
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. grated nutmeg
1 x bunch scallions, sliced
3 x bags of baby spinach (or 2 of the clear salad containers)
1/2 c. chopped dill
2 c. crumbled feta cheese

- buzz the bread in a food processor until they turn into coarse crumbs. Toss with 2 T. of the olive oil, set aside.
- melt the remaining 1 T. of the olive oil with the butter over medium heat in a large pan. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat until it's combined and some of the raw flour flavour is cooked out, about 2 minutes or so. Slowly whisk in the cold milk. Whisk and cook over medium to medium-low heat until the sauce thickens and bubbles. Take off the heat, and whisk in the kefalotyri cheese.
- meanwhile, cook the elbow macaroni until cooked through (past al dente), drain.
- sauté the scallions and the baby spinach over medium heat in a bit of oil until the spinach is all wilted and all the moisture has been absorbed. Toss the spinach mixture with the pasta and the cheese mixture in a big bowl. Stir in the chopped dill.
- season to taste with black pepper. Additional salt won't be necessary.
- pour into a buttered casserole dish (a 9x13 pan would be probably enough, but you may have some overflow) and top with the bread crumbs and the crumbled feta.
- bake in a 400F oven covered with aluminum foil for about 30 minutes, then take the foil off and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the macaroni and cheese is bubbling and the top is golden brown.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tales of a mama dread

So yesterday I came across this idea from this woman's blog I follow. The woman is raising 2 kids in the Montessori style and is a former Montessori teacher with some Waldorf-y leanings in there as well. The idea was for a "discovery/treasure basket" which is a basket filled with everyday household things with a variety of textures, weights, shapes, and temperatures for the kid to play with, the idea being that you put the basket out and the child quietly entertains themselves exploring the basket for a half hour or more (as in her case).

So I came home from work (I skipped class last night) all fired up to enact this grand vision of sensory, open-ended play. For the Big Yam to be connected to the world and to foster his curiosity and wonder in the everyday, blah blah blah. Total treasure basket fail, guys. I put in a ball of yarn, some cardboard stars, some felt, an ice pack, an ice cream scoop, a bench scraper, a wooden cheese spreader, a mason jar filled with beans and another bag of beans (he's been super into bags of beans lately), set it on the floor, brought him in, and watched expectantly with my eyes a-star with cherished parental hopes while he ignored it completely and clambered over to my legs asking to be picked up. My visions of me dreamily stirring a pot of marshmallows and butter for rice krispie squares while he quietly played in the corner of the kitchen were dashed asunder, much to the cackling, skeptical delight of one Dotytron, esquire. Ah is a learned activity. I'll report back on progress or if this thing is just a dud for my kid.

Behold, Monday's pumpkin stew with warmed parathas in the background - a delightful fall dinner. Last night I had leftover spicy grain soup at work with a mortadella and mozzarella sandwich, which was kind of depressing. The food wasn't depressing, eating at work is. Tonight is more of the same although this time I have leftover chicken dill soup and I'm getting a grilled cheese sandwich from the cafeteria. Too many depressing meals at my desk!!! We have a dodgeball double-header tonight, which is the reason.

I shouldn't complain - I have a slew of 3 and 4 day work weeks coming up. This week is my first earned day off, next week I took Halloween off to take the Big Yam to the drop-in centre and carve pumpkins and whatnot, the week following is Remembrance Day, which is generally a government holiday and then the week after that is my earned day off again. I can get used to this life, even if it makes getting all your work done in the 3 or 4 days a bit of a pinch.


Monday, October 24, 2011


Super-successful Supper Club - Friendsgiving edition. We had cheeses and baguette to start, alongside these prunes wrapped in proscuitto and baked which were so freakin' fantastic that I'm afraid I definitely and unrepentantly ate more than my share, good manners be damned. For the main course we had turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cheesy mashed potatoes, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, a fresh cranberry relish, and some pumpkin rolls. For dessert my sweet potato pecan pie, some ginger molasses cookies I baked and shortbread that our friends brought. Stupendous!

The age difference between Master T and his friend D is only 12 weeks but it seems like light years. D is walking confidently and his vocabulary is extensive. Even his babbling has the cadence of speech and his motor skills are pretty advanced...well...advanced compared to the Big Yam, who makes up for in happiness what he lacks in developmental milestones. Awww...poor little tuber root.

We went swimming and did our erranding and a day of laundry and house stuff yesterday, culminating in a delicious Sunday supper of mustard glazed, thyme breadcrumb coated roasted chicken thighs on top of braised leeks, potatoes and celery root mashed with roasted garlic, maple glazed carrots, and oven roasted purple brussels sprouts. It was pure fall harvest time Sunday supper and I loved every minute of it.

I took today off of work because I suspected that the Big Yam might have an ear infection - his nose has been a geyser for the past week and he's had a raspy cough. No fever, but I noticed he was scratching at both ears. Our doctor said that his ears looked borderline - slightly inflamed but not full borne so we were advised to just chill and see how he does - especially because he's been eating and drinking this whole time and he hasn't presented with a fever. Apparently ear infections can be viral and bacterial, but the research suggests that 80% are viral, which means you just have to let them go away on their own and that doctors are now realizing they might have been over-prescribing antibiotics. Since the Big Yam has been symptomatic for over a week, it's likely that he's on the tail end of an ear infection and he's fought it on his own. I wouldn't have taken him in except for the fact that he woke up at 1am last night and was crying and inconsolable. We brought him into bed with us and he was very sweet - falling asleep on top of the Dotytron and smooshed in between us - if he did that all the time, I'm pretty sure the Dotytron would reverse his co-sleeping opinions. He's already more pro co-sleeping than I am and all it would take is a smushball Big Yam sleeping session to put him over the edge.

I'm taking the time to work on high priority things like his Halloween costume (and spend time with him, of course.)

By request, I've posted the recipe for the apple cake that I've made a few times.



Definitive Moist Apple Cake

6 apples (I would use mutsus or golden delicious), peeled, cored, cut into 1.5" chunks
1 T . cinnamon
5 T. sugar

2 3/4 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. vegetable or canola oil
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. apple cider, apple juice, or water
4 eggs
1 c. chopped toasted walnuts (optional - I definitely omit these)

- preheat oven to 350F. Grease a tube pan (image attached below. I use an angel food cake pan with the removable bottom - because of the large amount of leavening in this cake recipe, I'd be wary of using your standard bundt cake pan in case it overflows - the cake rises a lot).
- toss the apple chunks with the cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
- in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, the eggs, the juice or cider, and the sugar. Stir the dry ingredients together in another bowl and add the dry to the wet, stirring until incorporated.
- spread 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Add 1/2 of the apples over top, top with the remaining batter, and then the apples (the amount of batter will appear thin - and it will be hard to spread and get good coverage - this is okay. The batter will rise. I generally wet my fingers slightly and smoosh the batter around to cover everything.)
- bake for 1 1/2 hours (approximately) or until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then flip the pan over onto a plate. Wait for the cake to drop down, then remove the pan, sandwich the cake with another plate, and flip it over again. Dust the top with icing sugar, if you like.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Epic LOLs

This photo kills me. Oh, Ice Cube - wha happened to you? I wonder what Weezy is gonna look like in 20 years. The internet has been doling out mad gems lately - it's like Christmas came early or like finding yourself in Oscar the Grouch's trashcan for a day. There was also this:

Guys, Aunt Viv #1 is the ONLY Aunt Viv. She was the best. She was so 'ardcore and Aunt Viv #2 was a rank impostor. I kinda want a shirt that says Real Aunt Viv 4-ever with Aunt Viv #1's face on it or something. I came across a line on the internet: "Aunt Viv #1 is my patronus" - AHAHAHAHAHA!!! Truer words have never been spoken. This was the same day that the reports came out that Gaddafi had been taken out and the photos of his dead body were plastered all over the news. I avoided trading in that rank sensationalism by reveling in this kind of entertainment instead. It's healthier, I think. It's weird that Aunt Viv can engender such strong opinions in me but when it comes to Becky #1 or Becky #2, I have no strong preference. I might slightly prefer Becky #2 just because she was a bit easier on the eyes. Becky #1 had a touch of the Kimmy Gibbler.

There's also that site called Teenage Mutant Ninja Noses. Tuesday night, the Dotytron is brushing his teeth and readying for bed. Me, coming into the bathroom, remembering I had something really important to tell him: "Have you seen that person's site where he draws Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle heads on people's noses?" The Dotytron, laughing, "No. But I can see it already and it's awesome." The tagline for the site: "God is the artist. I just find the Ninja Turtle in his work" totally restores my faith in humanity. Is that weird? I just love living in a world where this kind of genius exists.

Last night we went to see the Ides of March. I liked it enough - the performances of all the actors are great, although I do agree that Ryan Gosling might have been miscast - he's a little too vacant in the eyes and it doesn't translate to portraying a seasoned veteran of the campaign trail. The subject of disillusionment and intrigue and political maneuvering can be extrapolated beyond the direct political sphere of the film and serve as a greater metaphor for becoming an adult, or surviving in the business world. Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are fantastic - Rachel Evan Wood less so and Clooney seems to just be portraying a more reserved version of himself. I found the culminating scandal on which the plot hinges a little unnecessarily lurid - it doesn't seem necessary that it should have gone so far to enable Gosling's awakening to the murkiness of the world he moves in. I found the scandalousness so amped up that it stretched credulity and brought me out of the talky, Sorkin-y world that had otherwised engrossed me. I also found some of the character's motivations (particularly Evan Rachel Wood's) kind of implausible and there was a major plot point that I didn't understand and could have easily been reconciled with access to a line of credit (which, I would assume, all these characters should have?) It does peel back the curtain on the construction of political figures and how nobody is pure and clean in the business of politics. It's not so shocking if you have any critical engagement, but this is the kind of film you appreciate for the acting and dialogue. Not necessarily deserving of the Oscar buzz it's been getting.

I'm writing this while in the SNOOZIEST class of all time. Instead f tackling a 60 page major research paper, I elected to take the course called "Topics" where you're taught how to do "research" but the paper is only supposed to be 25 pages long. The class is THE WORST! She's teaching us how to differentiate what a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal looks like !!! Worst! Sample quote: "it's rectangular...the text is very dense, the pages are printed with many lines..."

^^^ This is why I need stuff like funny .gifs of Aunt Viv #1 in my life.

Today is Supper Club Friendsgiving! I made sweet potato pecan pie. We're sleeping over in Markham and then taking the Big Yam swimming tomorrow morning.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guys, I totally love the GAP

It took me a long time to get to this point, but I'm ready to be out and proud about how much I love the GAP. They're kind of amazing. I just bought 2 totally work appropriate and stylish blouses and 1 silk-ish skirt (also work appropriate) for like, $45. That's better than Joe Fresh prices, folks. Buying something full price there is a chump move, but the lack of chumps is probably what's contributing to the instability of the brand. The GAP is in trouble! They're not making enough money! What am I going to do if they go under (what are the chances that they would go under?)??!!??
The stuff that makes the GAP good is also what makes them vulnerable - the insane return/exchange/refund policies (ie. my friend G told me about how she bought her kids' winter jackets in like, August, knowing that this way they could "hold" the sizes they needed, keep the tags on them and then return the jackets and buy it for the reduced sale price in a couple of months - side note: they were advised to do this by GAP staff!!!), the crazy sales, the roomy dressing rooms and knowledgeable and helpful staff. Competition from stores like H&M probably isn't helping the GAP either, but lemme tell you, I was nosing around the H&M at the Eaton Centre before class on Tuesday night and that place is rank GARBAGE. The clothes are totally uggie and so cheaply made and everything is itchy and falling apart and to put together an outfit there (exempt from the garbage classification: kid's clothes and **some** accessories) would make you look like either one of the denizens of Grey Gardens.
I guess this is a plea to save the GAP and check it out and shop there. Or, if you're not going to do that, don't buy any of the Really Skinny Pants so that I can stock up before they go kaput.
In other news: my dodgeball team WON last night!!!!! Which was kind of a big deal because we've been getting our a**es handed to us ever since the season started. We totally needed a big win and we got it - all the more commendable because we only had 6 people show up and we 6 had to iron-man it and play the whole time.
In other other news, my academic book club selected Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie for next month's reading and those books are sick. They totally hold up. This is literally my 10 billionth time reading them both and present me finds them as engrossing and engaging now as 8 year old Karl Lagerfeld did, lo so many years ago. Anne of Green Gables holds up a little more - the story is fantastic and you gotta say this about L.M. Montgomery - the b***h could write. She had a way with simile and metaphor and description that is unparalleled - especially in describing the natural world. The descriptions of Avonlea, the changing of the seasons, the way the tips of firs look against a deepening, darkening sky are so plummy and evocative and rich that you could lose yourself in them for days. So too is her way with human emotions - the passages that describe Anne's feelings of loss when her beloved Matthew Cuthbert dies in particular resonated:
Two days afterwards they carried Matthew Cuthbert over his homestead threshold and away from the fields he had tilled and the orchards he had loved and the trees he had planted; and then Avonlea settled back to its usual placidity and even at Green Gables affairs slipped into their old groove and work was done and duties fulfilled with regularity as before, although always with the aching sense of "loss in all familiar things." Anne, new to grief, thought it almost sad that it could be so--that they could go on in the old way without Matthew. She felt something like shame and remorse when she discovered that the sunrises behind the firs and the pale pink buds opening in the garden gave her the old inrush of gladness when she saw them--that Diana's visits were pleasant to her and that Diana's merry words and ways moved her to laughter and smiles--that, in brief, the beautiful world of blossom and love and friendship had lost none of its power to please her fancy and thrill her heart, that life still called to her with many insistent voices.

"It seems like disloyalty to Matthew, somehow, to find pleasure in these things now that he has gone," she said wistfully to Mrs. Allan one evening when they were together in the manse garden. "I miss him so much--all the time-- and yet, Mrs. Allan, the world and life seem very beautiful and interesting to me for all. Today Diana said something funny and I found myself laughing. I thought when it happened I could never laugh again. And it somehow seems as if I oughtn't to."

"WhenMatthew was here he liked to hear you laugh and he liked to know that you found pleasure in the pleasant things around you," said Mrs. Allan gently. "He is just away now; and he likes to know it just the same. I am sure we should not shut our hearts against the healing influences that nature offers us. But I can understand your feeling. I think we all experience the same thing. We resent the thought that anything can please us when someone we love is no longer here to share the pleasure with us, and we almost feel as if we were unfaithful to our sorrow when we find our interest in life returning to us."

I can't find a better description of the guilt I felt immediately after Poppa D died when I found myself laughing at some antic of the Big Yam's.

Little House on the Prairie isn't enticing from en English-language, literary perspective. It's more like a written trip to Pioneer Village. This could be seen as either boring OR fascinating depending on your ideological leanings (full disclosure: I LOVE romanticizing about pioneer times.) I can't believe how different a time it was - how good Laura and Mary are with so few things to entertain them - just some scraps of wool and a dried apple for a doll. As my book club friend said, "Ma and Pa are my new heroes...if only my kids did their chores unasked, just for the pleasure of seeing me smile ever so slightly." LOL! It's all about Ma giving a slight smile of approval and that meaning the world to the girls. Anyway, the book is pretty informative, if your interests lie in knowing how log houses are built or if talk about "sizzling corn cakes" "molasses" and "fried salt pork" set your taste buds a lather (full disclosure: I mainly read the Little House books for the description of the food.)

Last night for dinner we had braised pork chops and apples, braised with onions in a mixture of apple cider and beer. Served alongside roasted garlic mashed potatoes (is there a more comforting dish on a blowsy, sleety weeknight than bowl full of mashed potatoes?) and kale chips.

Tonight for dinner we had spicy grain soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with the roomie, who came over for dinner.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Things that help

get a person through a day:
1) a slamming outfit. I'm feeling pretty good about my work outfit today. Yesterday was a mumsie Talbot's write-off. Today is much, much better. I *gasp* curled my hair and decided not to go super-straight and just go with the waves. It's kind of working for me, I think. The outfit is super super super skinny black pants, a thin, dark heathered grey dress with an asymmetrical neckline, and that Value Village boy blazer that I talked about ages ago but haven't gotten rid of because I have nothing else. My mustard infinity scarf looped twice around the neck for a pop of colour. I kind of look like either Elizabeth Olsen (the lesser known of the Olsen siblings) or some other young professional working in a creative field (even though my field is not, in fact creative, I like to crib from those stylings. Should also note: even though I'm not technically all that young anymore.)
I gotta say - the Gap's Really Skinny Pants are the sickest s**t ever. First of all, you have to buy them a size down, which already makes you feel like a zillion dollars. Then, they fit like a DREAM. They're like leggings except they're pant-weight and so stretchy but not saggy and they look amazing on (I had to get mine hemmed, but whatever). Seriously. Buy a pair. They're going to be my go-to leggings replacement this winter and I might go out and buy another pair in black and maybe the flint grey as well. So best.

2) Coming home to this meal, made by the Dotytron:
Doesn't that just look delicious? Imagine coming home from a long day at work and walking into a house that smells like pancetta and clams. I got home early because I biked yesterday and I was able to basically waltz in and start eating dinner and be done eating by 6:15pm which left us with almost 2 whole hours of bath and pre-bed play time with the Big Yam. So good!

3) Liberté organic 0% Vanilla flavoured Greek yogurt. This stuff is LIFE! We tried it based on a glowing recommendation from Ehmdo. It's so creamy and rich that it's a good dessert substitute if you're counting calories (which I am. Kinda. Sorta. Diffidently.) It's kind of mousse-y? The only problem is that the vanilla flavoured variety tastes a little artificial vanilla, but the plain one tastes too much like plain yogurt, but without the extra rich tang of my ultimate favorite yogurt, Saugeen Country Dairy (which tastes so wholesome and farm-fresh and good for you, but weighs in at a whopping 4% fat.) So if you're going to buy this to store in your kitchen at work so that you don't end up going to Tim Horton's for a chocolate glazed pick-me-up, go for the vanilla flavour.

Ugh. I so don't have the mustard to face class tonight. On the plus side, I've packed myself the fixin's for a meatball sammy with fresh mozzarella. I have a feeling that's going to be cold comfort around 8pm tonight when I'm falling asleep while listening to my prof drone on about evaluability assessments.


Monday, October 17, 2011

"Everyone but myself"

Blah blah blah, crazy weekend, blah blah blah. So busy! We're never going to try to head up to Markham for 7pm dinner plans again. I actually said we were going to get to R & R's house by 6:30pm. LAUGHABLE! We didn't get there until quarter after 7. It's too crazy - what with getting home, packing up the car, dealing with a hungry Big Yam who I think misses his mama and his nai nai a little too much. When we finally arrived, it was THE BEST! but I think we're going to scale back the ambitions for our Friday night socializing. Weekend was a busy blur. Visits with MHui and her delightful family, Bamiyan takeout on Friday night, Babu takeout on Saturday night (good news: we DIDN'T get Babu'd this time!), Baskin Robbins ice cream cake, swimming with the Big Yam, brunch with Nany and Momma D - it was a lot. A fun lot that still gave us time to do our house stuff like laundry and whatnot - but still it was a lot.

This is my apple pie with brown butter oat streusel. I wish the brown butter flavour had come through a bit more - I think I pulled the butter off the pan a little prematurely.

In other news - I'm not happy with my work outfit today but it's too late to change anything. I feel I look like a mom.

So last weekend for Thanksgiving I went and bought my mom about a half dozen pastries from Bonjour Brioche. A nice little, "just because" kind of present. Later I didn't see the bag, so I asked her about them. "What happened to the croissants and stuff?" My mom, "I hid them" Me: "Uhh...from who?' Her, without an iota of embarrassment: "From everyone but myself." LOL!!! That is SO my mom the way Raven Simone is SO Raven. It's textbook her. Then she started in with, "Last week, I went downstairs and there were cupcakes and then later I went and they were GONE!" Me: "Mom, I bought those for [my sister]'s birthday. The cupcakes were a birthday present for her." My mom: "That's not very nice. Buying cupcakes and not getting any for me." (Note: as far as I know, she didn't get my sister anything for her birthday.) Me: "Well, I still have some leftover birthday cake you can have if you want" (Note: the birthday cake I made for Master T's birthday lunch) Her, with a derisive face and a snicker, "I don't want that. I didn't like it."

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with a mum who doesn't require you to prostrate yourself paying tribute to her and who is you know, like supportive and nurturing and stuff.

I guess I'll never know.

Ha! I love my mum, I do. She's the only one I got. She's just kinda cray sometimes. I kind of wonder what stories the Big Yam will tell of his cray mum when he gets old enough to realize that I'm certifiable.

Dinner tonight is an oldie but a goodie - linguine with clam sauce and a baby spinach salad.


Friday, October 14, 2011

This is me now

Incidentally, if you haven't seen the movie, Working Girl, you should. It's kind of the best. So entertaining! And the Carly Simon theme song is feminist empowerment defined. Why don't they show this stuff on a lazy Sunday on TV anymore? Why is it always a movie that you don't want to watch, like Paul Blart: Mall Cop (which, incidentally, I caught the Dotytron watching on Sunday before I convinced him to switch to the latest version of Jane Eyre) or Goonies for the zillionth time?

Speaking of Jane Eyre, the newest version, starring my future husband, Michael Fassbender (after the Dotytron grants me my long-wished-for divorce), is kinda snoozeville. Mia Wasikowska is suitably girlish and somewhat plain and does a good job being very reserved and still and yet hinting at the depths of passion that stir just beneath her milky countenance, but overall I found the film kind of rushes through the events that make Jane, Jane. It also rushes through the events that make Jane and Rochester, Jane and Rochester. I didn't really buy the love stuff between them. In the book it takes AGES and each exchange builds upon the last until you're nearly swooning with anticipation that they just hook the hell up already. Michael Fassbender is a little too handsome and not quite gruff enough to be Rochester - he's a little slight in the build and a little too fair to be so gloomy and brooding but I have a soft spot for him so I'm willing to overlook it.

The film is gorgeous - really lush and painterly and filled with absolutely sublime shots of the English countryside in all its' woodsy, heathered, stony glory. I loved the look of it, but the story fell short, for me. That could very well be because I've never been a HUGE Jane Eyre fan. I always read up until the point where she discovers the crazy woman in the attic and runs away and then I get bored. I especially hate the St. John interlude (it doesn't help that in the film it's pronounced "SinJin" which lead me to make cracks about "SinJin the non-Asian") and I hate that Rochester gets all messed up in the end and lives the rest of his life all blind. I also don't find Jane to be that entrancing a character. Maybe for early 19th century England, but it doesn't translate. She just seems kind of poky.

Watching it on the heels of Paul Blart: Mall Cop did result in some hysterical laughing about "Lord and Lady Blart" and "Lord and Lady Mall Cop" which the Dotytron made me promise not to share because he said it wouldn't be funny out of context but I'm seriously laughing out loud while I type it, so there you go.

First Day of Work Report:

It went amazingly well. I really do love love love my job. And (most) of the people I work with. And my building. And being busy. And joining teams. And having a purpose to my day and a reason to put on nice clothes and straighten my hair and get my act together. I'm so not meant to be a stay-at-home mum. I can't do it. I loved being home with him, but I'm so much more engaged and useful when I'm firing on all pistons and when my calendar is filled up with stuff and I've got a long-long task list to beaver away at. That's just the nature of me.

The Big Yam had a good day. I dropped him off and there were no tears (there are never tears when I leave him with someone.) He happily waved bye-bye to me from J's window and she said he was totally lovely. He didn't eat many vegetables (she's providing us with a written write-up for him for the next week or so) because there were Cheerios being offered and his nap schedule got all messed up, but other than that it was smooth sailing. He was totally hungry for the boob when I got home and although I didn't find myself missing him during the day, I was near frantic to see him when I got home, which wasn't helped along by a stupid TTC delay, frazzling my nerves and ramping up the tension even more. J is Chilean so her English isn't perfect and her write up was hilarious. Does it make me a bad person that when I read the comment under "Notes about nap time" (it said, bluntly: "He cry") that I laughed? Poor Boobla. He hates sleeping in pack'n'plays and not in his own bed so I can only imagine how much "he cry" when J tried to put him down. I just find it so funny how poorly "he cry" captures what really must have gone down.

The Dotytron was on dinner patrol and this is what he made:

As my neighbours enviously commented, technically, I just use the Dotytron as my proxy - like in Ratatouille. I do most of the complicated chopping and lay out the mis-en-place and he executes per my detailed email instructions. I came home to a scene last night where the Dotytron was losing his mind and bemoaning about how "ruined dinner" but he was just super-anxious about getting it right. It turned out perfectly. That's leftover polenta that I froze, sliced and pan-fried, topped with creamed spinach and leeks, poached eggs, and cheddar cheese. So simple and so darned tasty.

Timing worked out pretty well. I was home by 5:45, dinner was on the table at 6:30 so I got to play with the Big Yam in between, and after dinner we had over an hour to hang with Master T before putting him to bed at 8pm and getting back to our own business. Hopefully we can keep up the momentum!

This weekend is a doozy. Tonight it's dinner at R & R's house. I made an apple pie (all the neighbours have gone apple picking lately and we're being gifted with the inevitable surplus - apples are just too easy to pick!) with a brown butter oat streusel. We're getting takeout though and hopefully playing Settlers. Then we're spending the night up in Markham because we're babysitting my Poh Poh tomorrow. We'll take the Big Yam swimming and then do some errands and then hang with MHui and her family. Sunday we're having brunch with Nany and Momma D and then home for some much-needed down time and house cleaning.


Thanks to all you dear readers for the love and support and words of encouragement during this time! Much love to you all.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This one time...

at band camp...
Band camp was the best - we had amazing weather and it was a beautiful location only an hour north of the city. The closest town is Sutton, but it's just north of Keswick, on the banks of Lake Simcoe. The camp takes place every year in the 3 days leading up to Thanksgiving at the Salvation Army's Jackson's Point Camp and Conference Centre. The facilities are pretty sweet - there's a big conference centre that's newer-looking with a cafeteria, a great room, and two wings of dorm-style rooms, each with a private bathroom. Then there are a tonne of cabins and lodges and another giant auditorium with another mess hall on the other side. The grounds are lovely - they have a strip of private beach and the fall colours were on full display, with some late, Indian-summer warmth to make the days in t-shirts really pleasant.

The Big Yam was a HUGE hit at Band Camp and he and another baby who showed up had a set during the Talent Show. The other baby was a bit of a dud so the Boobla carried the show and brought the house down with his vocal stylings. It was pretty cute. I've already been instructed by the president of the parent council that we have to come back next year. During the day the kids do sessions with visiting clinicians and then at night they have some free time and activities like bonfires, a dance, etc.

I spent the days with the Big Yam exploring parks and going for walks and we visited our friend C and his family in Orillia - had a DELICIOUS lunch at this place Apple Annie's - if you're ever in town, I highly recommend it - my smoked turkey and cheddar panino was scrumptious.

The kids at band camp were all around well-behaved, kind of nerdy meatballs (this IS band camp after all) and it kind of made me realize how YOUNG high school kids are. They're babies, really. And the intermediate kids are like, zygotes. It also highlighted to me how spectacularly unsuited I am to be a teacher. I have no sympathy for mass amounts of kid-based posturing and the spiraling lunacy that happens when you have that amount of prepubescent hormones teeming together.
Last night we had Momma D over for dinner and I made us steak, sautéed mushrooms, baked acorn squash, and sliced tomatoes (green zebra and this variety called peach tomatoes that I've never had before - they're fuzzy!) with mozzarella cheese cubes and balsamic.

Tonight for pre-dodgeball dinner we had BLT's made with English bacon and roasted garlic-scallion aioli, with sweet potato fries, and broccoli salad.

Tomorrow is my first day back at work...eep!!!