November 29, 2013

the simple life


I like to read farm blogs. That's right - blogs about farms. This may seem a bit out of the ordinary since I'm generally a city girl, but there's something about the quaintness and calmness of farm life that charms me.

I follow 4 or 5 blogs, none of which are about the typical things blogs are about - food, fashion or home decor. They're not glossy or editorialized; they're written by everyday people in places like Montana and North Dakota, about curious things like harvesting corn and how to cure a horse of seasonal hives. 

It's nothing that I can relate to or that is relevant to my life, but after a difficult day at my stressful retail job, it's nice to know I can escape to a far corner of the American West, to a simpler lifestyle than I've ever know, just by opening my laptop. 


I guess what it boils down to is that, although I've never wanted to live on a farm per se, sometimes it's nice to feel far away from where I am. I suppose that's what a fantasy is. And nothing could be farther from my own life then being out on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, shearing sheep or sandblasting the paint off an old barn.

Sometimes I wonder if a simple, rustic life is what I subconsciously want. After all, one doesn't move to Canada for glitz and glamour. 

Perhaps there's a deep, dark, suppressed part of me that wants to live a more rural life, isolated from neighbors, traffic and the stresses of an overly commercial society. 

Or maybe I've just had a bad week at work. 


Hmm.

Then again, maybe not.


November 21, 2013

cookie in the car

I'm not sure if it's funny or shameful that the follow-up to my previous blog post (Ice Cream For Dinner) is this post (Cookie In the Car)Could this two-parter detailing my foray into emotional eating be a subconscious cry for help? Maybe so.


It's my day off, which is always far too short given the laundry list of tasks I have to tackle. So rather than let the myriad of errands I had to run, the long lines I had to stand on and the worst drivers ever super polite Canadians on the roads get the better of me, I decided to take a break.

Halfway through the afternoon I parked the car in a somewhat empty lot, turned on the XM Broadway channel and attacked a still-warm-from-the oven Panera cookie (leftover from lunch). Within the cocoon of my car, I felt safe from all the insanity that is the holiday season.

First up on my showtunes station was Ethel Merman. I can't get enough of her. Whether it's Gypsy or Annie Get Your Gun, she slays me.


Next was a song from the original cast recording of Les Miserables.


Then Goodbye Love, one of my favorite songs from Rent.

Then... well, then I felt calm enough to continue with my errands and made my way over to Canadian Tire to stand on yet another line. 

'Tis the season?

November 20, 2013

ice cream for dinner

The fridge is stocked full of yummy things to cook for dinner like pork roast and fresh broccoli, but I've just been too tired after my long days at work to do anything but eat caramel toffee crunch ice cream straight from the container. 


(For the record, yes, that dark stuff pooled at the bottom of the container is hot fudge. Once I started pouring it on, I couldn't stop. It was like chocolate therapy.)

The silver lining around this particularly difficult week is that my handmade soy candles were featured on the front page of Etsy four times. I do well with these candles at craft shows but they're a tough sell online since people want to smell them before purchasing. 

Thanks to the many Etsy features, I made a handful of online sales for custom orders. 


This is especially uplifting after a slow year for my vintage shop on Etsy. This surprise infusion of money will allow us to have a nice Christmas together in our new home. For this I am very grateful.

It's also heartwarming to know that many of these candles were purchased as holiday gifts, so there will be people across Canada and the U.S. who will smile when they unwrap and smell them on Christmas morning. That makes the late nights in front of the stove totally worth it.

And now, my good friends Ben and Jerry request my presence in the kitchen. Very important business meeting. 

Don't judge me.


November 16, 2013

saturday

Working at the mall during the holiday season is something that can only be experienced, not explained. The past few weeks have been hectic so I've been trying to savor my days off as much as possible, which means doing as little as possible.

This afternoon Bobby and I shared a nice, quiet lunch on the couch. I dressed up a frozen pizza with some applewood smoked bacon, sauteed onions, and a side Caesar salad. Not the fanciest meal but it sure beats the mall food court. 



We dressed Maple in her new Santa costume and tonight I'll be making candles for some custom orders.


A fairly uneventful day and I'm okay with that. I think Maple was too.


November 15, 2013

limbs


starless nights
punctuate shorter days.

we grow old
faster. 

trees reach their boney 
branches out like 
skeletal fingers beckoning
winter closer.

November 14, 2013

christmas shopping

stuffed snowmen 
metallic gnomes 
glittery garland &
woodland friends
is what Christmas is made of.


November 9, 2013

the dog knows...

Maple takes time to stop and smell the pine trees.

Winter is coming.


new house

A few months ago I wrote about my hopes and dreams for the next home that Bobby and I move into. We had a laundry list of more than a dozen must-have attributes that we couldn't compromise on.

We worried we were being too picky but stuck to our guns and had faith that the right place would come along.

Well, after three long weeks of late night property viewings (throughout which I fought a nasty case of laryngitis and basically wanted to die), Bobby and I signed a 2-year lease on a house this afternoon. It's a detached 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath home on a corner lot with a brand new kitchen, a fenced-in backyard and a finished basement.

It had a warm, welcoming feel as soon as we walked in.



We specifically requested such a long lease because we're invested in settling down and building a home together. We've each spent our entire adult lives on the move and are just looking for somewhere we can breathe for a little while.


It was important to us that we celebrate Christmas in the new house so we struck a deal to take possession in three weeks (!!!) so even though we'll still have our loft until January 1st, we'll gradually move boxes into the new house and hopefully spend our first night there in mid-December.

Even though I had faith that we'd find the right place that didn't force us to compromise, I'm a little surprised that we were able to do it in just a few weeks, given Bobby's insane work/travel schedule, my starting a new job, my laryngitis and Maple going into heat.

It's been a crazy, busy, stressful month.

But, when we took turns signing the lease in our new kitchen, it all became totally worth it.


November 8, 2013

PB & chocolate Rice Krispy sandwiches


Last night I made an assortment of Rice Krispy treats for Bobby to bring to his coworkers this morning. There was no occasion, just the spontaneous urge to make dessert for others. This urge hits about once a month, and since I don't have children to bake for, Bobby's coworkers and their sweet tooths are my unwitting food samplers.

It's a win-win situation for me - I satisfy my appetite to bake something now but I'm not left to consume all the calories myself. And I get to use my fun kitchen gadgets, like my Wilton autumn leaf cookie cutter, that would otherwise sit deserted in the back of the pantry.


I made traditional Rice Krispy treats but also tried something new. I sandwiched chocolate icing between two peanut butter-slathered Rice Krispy treats for the best no-bake treat ever. They're a bit messy to eat but I think that's part of the fun - I felt like a little kid licking the chocolate from my fingers. No shame.

for the treats:
1 cup Reeses peanut butter baking chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
5 oz. marshmallows
1.5 tablespoons butter
4 cups puffed rice cereal

for the icing:
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon water

1) Melt the peanut butter chips and the peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. 

2) Add the marshmallows and 1.5 tablespoons of butter to the peanut butter mixture and stir constantly until melted & well-blended. Remove from heat.

3) Add the cereal to the peanut butter-marshmallow mixture and stir until evenly coated. Press half of the cereal mixture into an 8x8 brownie pan or 9x12 cookie sheet depending on how thick you want your sandwiches. Place in the fridge while you make the chocolate icing. Keep the remaining half of the cereal mixture out.

4) For the icing, combine the chocolate chips, powdered sugar, butter and water in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

5) Evenly spread the chocolate icing over the chilled cereal with a rubber spatula. Spread the remaining cereal mixture over the chocolate and press gently to create a sandwich.

6) Chill the pan in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.


November 7, 2013

phantom photos

I take a lot of photos.

I post bits here and there on this blog but most of them don't ever see the light of day. For every 10 photos I take, I'd say a good 9 are shelved for various reasons.

Sometimes the view in front of me doesn't translate through the camera's lens. Certain things just aren't done justice by a camera and are best experienced in person.




Other times, the visual integrity of photos don't turn out like I hoped they would, whether they're too grainy, blurry or dark. Or if I have an uncooperative subject.


I also have folder upon folder of random photos that have no real story. I take them because I see something I like or want to remember but they don't warrant their own blog post. They're just snapshots of a particular moment.





But I still keep all of these photos on my computer so I can browse through them on nights when I'm bored. They're nice reminders of certain days, special trips and moments in time that would otherwise go unnoticed.



November 6, 2013

float

leaves fall and
are caught by the
boughs of pine trees.
we are caught between 
two seasons.


November 5, 2013

sore throat & Maple's new sweater


It's official: Halloween is over and the holiday season has arrived. On my way to work the other morning, I found part of a Minnie Mouse costume neglected on the sidewalk, absorbing rain like a sad, forgotten sponge.

Christmas displays have popped up in stores overnight. At the mall, personalized ornament kiosks have materialized seemingly out of thin air. Nothing says 'the holidays' like a ceramic bone with your dog's name on it.



It's been wet and very cold this week. Patios all over Toronto sit deserted. Gold leaves float in pools of rainwater. The seasons are shifting.

I've been battling a nasty case of laryngitis. Thinking it was just a bad cold, I tried to treat it myself and continued to go to work, but it caught up with me today when my boss ordered me to clock out and go to the walk-in clinic in the mall.

I've worked in malls my entire adult life and have acquired a fondness for their sense of community and efficiency. They're like little towns. For instance, today I walked from Old Navy to the walk-in clinic, then took the doctor's prescription to Shoppers Drug Mart. While I waited for the script to be filled I took the escalator down to the bank to deposit my paycheck and then hit Bulk Barn for some pick-me-up Hershey Kisses. All without leaving the confines of the mall. Such a magical place.

Once I got back to Old Navy, my manager sent me home and advised me to stay there until Saturday so that I'm 100% when I come back. 

Since that gives me the next three days off from work, I'm going to use the opportunity to catch up on my reading (I'm about 1/4 of the way through Wicked and I love it) and lay in bed with this dog:


Last week, Maple got what we assume was her first haircut. When we adopted her in May, she was missing large patches of hair due to the stress of living in an abusive environment. So we let it grow out. But the longer it got, the more it tangled and eventually matted, so we had no choice but to shave her down. Like her groomer told us when we protested to such a dramatic move, it's a fresh start.

In the end, it was the best thing for her. It's just unfortunate that this happened just as the temperature has dropped into the 30s at night. We bought Maple a special winter sweater to wear around the house so she isn't too cold.

She now looks like a kid whose parents gave her a goofy haircut and dressed her in an embarrassing Cosby sweater for school picture day.

before
after
Either way, she's still our sweet girl.


November 2, 2013

autumn's eve

The days are grey and windy, the evenings wet and cold. The trees are nearly stripped of their leaves, which means that winter is almost here.

My first autumn in Canada is drawing to a close.


Now that autumn is going gently into that good night and winter is nipping at my heels, it's time to start thinking about what the next few months have in store: American Thanksgiving, a family vacation in New York, Christmas (the first one Bobby and I will spend together in three years) and a big move right before the New Year.

Onward to a new season.

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