April 28, 2013

the last week of april

looked like this:

1. the first blossoms of spring
2. an afternoon walk along the pier
3. brunch with friends
4. celebrating Bubba's birthday

It was a great week. Here's looking forward to May!

April 25, 2013

are you there, spring? it's me, jaime

While perusing the sporting goods section of a Walmart in southern Ontario, I noticed a curious theme: hockey, fishing, more hockey and more fishing. 

We're in the last week of April and there were no baseball gloves in sight! 

No golf clubs! 

No Snoopy snow-cone machines!

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Florida anymore.

April 23, 2013

home alone & a recipe: sour cream banana bread

Bobby is fortunate to have a job that allows him to travel in style on a regular basis. Over the last five years he's been to New York, Chicago, D.C., Vegas, and Miami more times than I could possibly count.

I'm always sad to see him go but we're believers that healthy doses of time apart make our relationship stronger. Which is why I always make sure to savor the few days each month that I rule the roost.

Today I baked banana bread for lunch and ate hot chocolate ganache straight from the saucepan with my finger (ouch).

I organized old photographs and had a Dave Matthews Band dance party in the bedroom. Later I'll watch Dancing With the Stars and paint my toenails in bed. Low-key, that's how I like to spend my "me-time."

Bobby will call after dinner and we'll share the details of the day and discuss what happened in the news. When I hang up and realize I'm going to sleep alone, I'll miss him immensely... But then I'll think of the banana bread & ganache sauce waiting for me downstairs and I'll get over it. ;)

(And I'm sure Bobby is somewhere in D.C. right now watching the History Channel in the dark, thanking God that I'm not there to snap a lamp on and remind him of how I'm slowly going blind.)

For my fellow bakers out there, here's the decadent banana bread I made this morning. Share it with your family or save it for those special days when you're home alone. ;)

April 20, 2013

saturday morning coffee

We start every morning with coffee in bed. Weekend mornings are ever sweeter since Bobby isn't in a rush to get off to work and we can take time for a second cup. :)

Happy Saturday everyone!

April 18, 2013

No apology necessary.

Something magical happened at a hockey game in Boston last night.

The telecast of the Bruins game began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston bombings. Rene Rancourt then began to sing the American National Anthem but lowered the microphone after about 2 lines as the intensity of the crowd took over. He took a step back and let the entire arena full of indignant, angry, and fiercely proud Americans, reeling from yet another senseless tragedy, carry the tune in perfect unison, hitting all the high notes and finishing off with a boisterous chant of, "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"

It was the best national anthem I've ever heard.

Before the coverage turned to the game, the camera focused on a little girl - no more than 7 years old - pumping her fist in the air, chanting for America with all her heart.

We've had more than our fair share of national tragedies, each one unique in its pain. But this time around, my mind can't help but wander back to the morning of September 11. The images of strangers carrying each other down debris-strewn streets. Firefighters and EMTs embracing each other. The audio clips of terrified shrieks as plumes of smoke fill the air.

That fear and electricity in the air of everyone wondering at the same time, "What's going to happen next?"

I was 16 years old, in American history class that morning. We watched the plane hit the 2nd tower on live television. I ran into the hall with my cell phone and called each of my parents, asked if our relatives in New York were okay. I stayed glued to CNN for the next few years. I registered to vote the day I turned 18, visited Ground Zero multiple times, moved to Hempstead, New York for college and began journalism studies. I became obsessed with & completely consumed by the media coverage.

I was changed, we were all changed. Growing up American you're raised with the mantra that everyone loves us, wants to be us. That we're the most powerful, most influential nation in the world, and no one begrudges us that. It isn't snobbery, it's confidence. We're not better than anyone else, we're simply the lucky ones. The land of the free and the home of the brave. We held these truths to be self-evident.

Then September 11 told us otherwise - that perhaps we were more in love with ourselves than the world was with us. 'Death to America' became a commonplace phrase on many foreign news outlets.

Suddenly we owed the world an apology for who we were.

Well, I call bullshit on that.

We're called the United States of America - 50 unique states with our own respective governments, racial and religious demographics, and agendas, yet at the end of the day we all pledge allegiance to the same flag with our hands over our hearts. We're often a nation divided on political, ethical and moral issues, but we're united by our need to lean on each other, acts of heroism in the face of danger, unwavering support of our troops, and a common love of the land.

We're a nation of dreamers, of rags-to-riches success stories, of geographical wonder and rich, dramatic history.

We're a land where children raise their pint-sized fists at hockey games and sing in their country's honor. Where they're proud to be American, no apology necessary.

April 12, 2013

a floridian's guide to surviving canadian winter

The barges of compacted, grey ice - once present in every parking lot - have melted. Wellies have replaced snow boots. That, and the arrival of daily rain showers, are sure signs that spring has finally gotten off its hibernating ass and is making its way to Mississauga.

I believe it's officially safe to say that I've survived my first winter in Canada.

Not surprisingly, my small collection of 50-cent gas station gloves did not prepare me for what lied ahead when I landed at Pearson in January. When I lived in New York I had no problem transitioning from Indian summer to crisp autumn mornings to cold winter nights. But the shock of going from Florida's 80-degree weather to Ontario's subzero temperatures - literally overnight - played a serious part in my struggle to acclimate to this new environment.

Being three months older and feeling worlds wiser (not to mention itchier and less tan than ever before) I feel I've learned enough to comprise a first timer's guide to northern winter. These are things that - I learned the hard way - are vital to making it through the frigid months in one piece... minus some dry skin and a little bit of dignity. ;)

1) Thermal underwear, also known as long johns. I was forewarned by a coworker in Florida that not investing in these bad boys would be suicide. She was from Michigan and had been around the winterized block so to speak. I ignored her and I am sorry. After receiving what felt like 2nd degree burns on my thighs after the wind whipped through my pants for 2 months, I finally stuffed a pair of Bobby's thermal pants into my skinny jeans and walked to the mall one snowy day. I swear it's as though I floated there on a cloud. I literally skipped down the sidewalk in glee. What a difference a layer over your bum makes. Pictured: Women's thermal underwear set, americaneagle.com.

2) A fleece blanket - more specifically, a Hudson's Bay fleece blanket. This beauty was gifted to us by our good friend Bill the week I moved to Canada, and it has been a staple on our couch ever since. Whether it's used as a pillow for Bobby's naps or to cover our legs while watching The Office, this super soft throw has kept us warm & completely comfortable on chilly evenings. Pictured: Hudson's Bay Company Collection fleece multi-coloured throw, thebay.com.

3) Lip balm. Oh dear god, lip balm. This is crucial if you plan on going outdoors for more than 2 seconds. Even if you can't feel it at the time, the dry air is brutal on the ultra delicate skin of your lips. I recommend  something with olive oil and/or shea butter. Even putting straight olive oil on your lips before bed can only do good things for you. Pictured: Olive & lemon lip balm, nivea.com.

4) Ear protection. I'd heard much about the famed Canadian toque so I purchased a few knit caps for myself while still living in Florida. The concept is great but the static cling from the dry air always left my hair looking a fright when I pulled the hat off indoors. The solution: a chic knitted headband that covers the ears. It keeps your hair from getting too messed up, plus it's so cute you won't want to take it off indoors. Pictured: Knit turban headband, Chichidee.etsy.com.

5) Decaf tea. Specifically decaf because this was usually consumed by Bobby and myself as an after-dinner nightcap. Instead of turning the heat on, we'd pour ourselves a cup of tea and instantly warm up. We sampled all different kinds of tea including Tazo's Passion, Bigelow's green tea, and various chais, but our wintertime favorite was definitely David's Tea Toasted Walnut. It's a nutty, vanilla-y, all-around great dessert tea that's so flavorful you don't even need to add milk or sugar. Pictured: Rooibos tea, davidstea.com.

6) Insulated gloves. This should really be #1 (but those long johns are just too cute). As mentioned earlier, I purchased a bunch of 2-for-$1 gloves thinking I could layer them the way I used to do in New York and I'd be fine. Even with two layers I could feel the wind whipping through the knit and underneath my fingernails. Insulated gloves are the only way to go. It isn't just about comfort but also safety - not covering your hands in freezing temperatures is one of the fastest ways to get frost bite. Gloves are our friends. Pictured: Wool knit lined gloves, totes-isotoner.com.

7) Good-quality lotion. I consider myself an unfortunate expert on this topic. I hauled a dozen bottles of lotion to Canada with me, not knowing that very few kinds will work on winter skin. I only used lotion in Florida to make my freshly-shaved legs look & smell yummy, therefore most of what I owned was of the Bath & Body Works/Victoria's Secret variety. Bantamweight stuff. I ran the gamut of lotions before finding what worked best for my patchy, itchy skin (which began on my legs but spread to my hips, underarms and heels; another fun winter surprise). Aveeno products worked best for me because they not only moisturized but soothed the itch for 24-hour periods. And within one week of use, my dry, rough patches completely disappeared. Pictured: Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, aveeno.com.

8) Temperature converter app. In my world, 32 is freezing and 75 is a day at the beach. In Canada Land, 0 is freezing and 25 is barbeque weather. You can appreciate my confusion, I'm sure. And although I remember the equation from grade school, I refuse to subtract 32 and divide by 1.8 everytime I want to know the temperature. My solution? A smartphone app that does the work for me. Pictured: Temperature convert app, itunes.apple.com.

9) Snow tires. This was added at the request of my boyfriend, Bobby, who thought that bringing a rear-wheel drive sports car to Canada, sans snow tires, was an okay thing to do. After numerous incidents where he either rolled backward down a hill or had to dump the car in a parking lot and call a cab, he now realizes the error of his way. No matter what the mechanic at Tires Plus tells you, "all-season tires" sold in Florida are NOT okay for Canadian winters. Pictured: Winter tire, canadiantire.ca.

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