July 7, 2014

hutch progress

We've been continuing work on the kitchen hutch. Bobby has finished the painting and distressing. I picked out some antique cast iron door handles. Soon we'll paint the wall behind it a soft dove grey and will hang artwork and shelving beside it.

It's almost done!

Here is what it looked like before, when it was a bookcase.

Then Bobby added doors.

And now it's a fully functioning hutch, holding our spices, cookbooks and assorted chachkes.

I'll post photos of the finished product once the wall is painted/artwork is hung, hopefully within the next week or two.

June 12, 2014

trying something new

I've been meaning to write something for weeks, but I've been wrapped up in work and a new venture - a food blog! I purchased my first domain name - ahungrypilgrim.com - and have been busy trying to build a little site.

In my first month (May) I had a total of 366 views on my new blog. The current tally for June is over 900 (and we're only halfway through the month)! So my little site is picking up steam and I'm excited to see what doors it may open for me.

Any support is appreciated. Thanks for reading!

May 23, 2014

new projects

Since returning to real life after my vacation in New York, things have pretty much gone back to the status quo - the usual stresses of life, worrying about money, and trying to figure out what's next.

To break up the mundaneness of the daily grind, Bobby and I have taken up pet projects. He's currently working on rebuilding/refinishing a hutch in our kitchen. It was formerly used as a bookcase in our Orlando apartment, and is being given new life as a spice cabinet. We're adding doors and a few other improvements to make it more useful.

We're going for a rustic feel so we'll be whitewashing the entire thing and adding some colonial green accents. I adore these paint names - Folk Tale and Swiss Coffee. I'd love to be the person whose job it is to come up with these names. What a dreamy job.

Here's the current progress:

While Bobby's been busy with the hutch, I've been focusing on my own ventures. About a month ago I created a group on Meetup.com for local women who like to play board games, and last night I hosted a small get-together. I invited 6 women over, none of whom I'd met before, and we ate donuts, drank wine and played Trivial Pursuit until 10 p.m. 

Maple enjoyed the attention and I met some really interesting, kind and witty women. We're all looking forward to the next get-together, which everyone agreed should take place at my place again since they all said it was lovely and beautifully decorated. What a nice compliment!

Another project I'm working on is my new website. I recently purchased a domain name and began a food blog that features my photography and recipes. I've been told by enough people that my food and travel photography is good enough to be published, so I'm starting to believe it...? Maybe?

I'm naturally self-deprecating when it comes to talent, but I've been encouraged by a few enthusiastic friends to at least try to branch out and see if there are any opportunities for me as a photographer/blogger.

So grabbing AHungryPilgrim.com for only $2/year at Go Daddy seemed like a good start.

I don't know about anyone else but I think this looks yummy and Pinterest-worthy. I guess I'll find out!

May 15, 2014

there's no place like home

I spent last week in New York City with my mom. It was a much-needed vacation for both of us, and basically served to remind me just how much I miss New York.

I turned 29 this month. Twenty-nine. And although friends and co-workers insist that I don't look a day over 21, I go to bed worrying about my age.

I'm almost 30 and my life isn't what I want it to be. I have so many goals that I want to achieve and it feels like the list just keeps getting longer as time passes.

I know where I want to be; I'm just not sure how to get there.

But, after spending the week in New York, I feel like I'm getting warmer.

May 2, 2014

bringing baby home

Maple came home this morning after spending the night in the hospital. She underwent spay surgery, something that is typically done at a very young age. But because her previous owner was neglectful, it was never taken care of.

We spent all of yesterday worrying about possible complications with the surgery, but the doctor told us she was the perfect patient. The old girl is now back home and sandwiched between two pillows on the couch, snoozing away.

She'll be on pain medication for the next 10 days and will have to wear the Cone of Shame while we're out of the house, but all things considered, we're happy with how everything panned out.

Spaying is important beyond controlling the pet population - female dogs that aren't spayed are more likely to develop uterine or ovarian cancer. Plus, dogs with uteruses go into heat twice a year, which is uncomfortable for them.

It's sad to see her in pain, our dog who was healthy and happy just yesterday morning but who woke up in a cage with stitches in her stomach.

But I guess what's most important isn't that Maple suffered due to someone else's selfishness, or that we had to clean up someone else's mess, but that our dog is healthier having had this surgery.

In the end, Maple's wellness is all that really matters and we're so relieved that our baby is back home!

April 28, 2014


We seem to be stuck in that in-between phase where you no longer need a winter coat but still can't go outside without a light jacket and possibly a scarf.

The wind is perpetually wild - rapping at the windows and blowing trash across the front yard. It always feels like it may rain at any moment so it's best to not venture too far without an umbrella and Wellies at the ready.

Every day is what Winnie-the-Pooh would describe as a Rather Blustery Day.

Today I noticed the first flowers of the season. Amidst the dead leaves and fallen pine needles covering our front yard, the pop of purple seemed like a breath of fresh air.

Although it's still too cold for my liking, Maple is enjoying the warmer weather. She loves running back and forth across the grassy backyard (and, presumably, not having to do her business on top of of an icy snow bank). In the evenings, she seeks out the last stream of dying sunlight coming through the living room window, and lays in it.

We took her for a haircut last week, and I'm sure the sun feels that much better on her skin now that she no longer looks like an overgrown muppet.



She cleans up nicely. 

Just in time for my mom's visit this week...!

April 20, 2014

the pitter patter of nothing

Holidays are always a bit tricky for me. 

Growing up, my family didn't have a ton of traditions. During the years that we were speaking to my grandparents, we'd go to their house for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. But when my parents were on the outs with them, we simply wouldn't go anywhere for holidays. Fourth of Julys and Memorial Days came and went with little to no fanfare. 

It was something that always bothered me.

I'd go to school after a long weekend and hear my classmates talk about barbeques and days at the beach, and I promised myself time and time again that when I was an adult, I'd celebrate every holiday and make my own traditions.

Not having kids, this is easier said than done. There's no macaroni art, no construction paper cut-outs to hang on the fridge. No Easter eggs to dye, no baskets to hide. No costumes to make, no one to take trick-or-treating. No bake sales to cook for, no field trips to chaperone.  

It's bittersweet. Not having kids is my choice but there are still moments when I feel like there should be little feet pitter-pattering down the stairs in anticipation of...something. Whether it's presents under the tree or a school dance to attend, there should be excitement in the air.

Instead, there's silence. And that silence becomes more obvious to me on holidays.

Sure, because I don't have kids I can basically do whatever I want. I can sleep 'til noon and enjoy quiet meals. I don't have to spend thousands of dollars a year on presents and sleepover parties and uniforms and dance lessons. My life is 100% my own. And that - in theory - is liberating.

But, in reality? Today is Easter and Bobby is woodworking in the garage while I tidy up the office and prep dinner. And while there's nothing wrong with these things - we're both enjoying a quiet Sunday off from work - there's that lack of fanfare that bothered me when I was a kid.

Can it be that by not having kids, I've doomed myself to a lifetime of quiet, uneventful holidays that may as well be any other day of the year?

I'm sure I'll feel differently the next time I see a screaming child in a restaurant. But in this moment, on this quiet, Easter Sunday, the silence is deafening.

April 18, 2014


This morning I saw the first green of the year on my neighbor's tree. 

That and the arrival of songbirds has me hopeful that winter is officially in the rearview mirror. Then again, I've learned to never say never when it comes to Ontario weather.

April is flying by. It seems I was just visiting my parents in Florida and suddenly it's Easter weekend. 

Bobby's birthday is next week and my mom is coming to visit us the week after that.

And, just to keep things interesting, Maple is having spay surgery on Thursday and Bobby's car broke down yesterday.

Thank goodness I have this three-day weekend off from work. So much to do, so little time.

April 13, 2014

getting warmer

The weather is slowly but surely warming up. 

There's no more snow on the ground 

and each day the grass gets just a little bit greener.

Maple has traded in her fur-lined parka for a tweed cover-up.

When she wears this, she transforms into her alter ego: Sherlock Bones.

She's taken to digging through the flower bed in the backyard,

which is freshly thawed

and apparently very tasty. 

April 11, 2014

mini break

I flew to Florida last weekend to spend some time with my parents and their two dogs. My brother was attending an out-of-town wedding, so we were watching his two pugs for him as well. So it was the three of us and a menagerie of rescue pups - Madison, Dobby, Cooper and Andy. 

What a cast of characters.

It was an incredibly short trip (only two full days) but we managed to cram a lot of stuff into our time together.

On Friday we took the boat out on the Gulf and enjoyed the warm-but-not-too-hot weather. The water was blue and clear, and we saw quite a few dolphins.

We anchored the boat on a little beach and spent the afternoon kicking back. We turned on our portable radio, ate Publix subs (!!!) and then went searching for shark's teeth and shells in the sand. (Note to self: wear flip flops to avoid sandspurs in feet when foraging unknown beaches.)


Back at the house, we barbequed a rack of ribs and caught up on all the episodes of Resurrection. 

On Saturday, my mom and I were busy planning our upcoming trip to New York. In the evening, we all went to Cracker Barrel, where I devoured the most ridiculously indulgent meal: fried chicken, mashed potatoes with sawmill gravy, macaroni & cheese and biscuits with blackberry jam. Then the three of us shared a fried apple dumpling with vanilla ice cream for dessert. 

I felt physically ill by the time we left but, damn, that's some good eats. 

And to anyone who heard about my American cheese debacle right after I moved to Canada, let this serve as proof that it is very much a REAL food, good enough to be featured on a menu right under country fried shrimp and chicken 'n' dumplins:

I also managed to squeeze in a Checker's run (spicy chicken & seasoned fries all day) and hit up Publix and Walmart for some Zinger's, Fig Newtons, Bigelow tea and other amazing foods that cannot be found in Canada.

I bought so much food that I couldn't fit it all in my carry-on. But fear not - although I had to leave some at my parents' house, my mom is bringing it with her when she visits me in May. (That's why they call us Ameri-can, not Ameri-can't!)

So all-in-all it was a great mini-break for me. It's too bad it didn't last longer, but regardless, it was so nice to see my family, enjoy an economy-sized strawberry soda and know that home is just a plane ride away.

April 3, 2014

spring is here?

This morning, just after the sun rose, I saw (and heard) the first songbirds of the season.

There was a cardinal, whom I've named Big Red:


and some type of blackbird, whom I shall call Captain Butter Beak:

I'm not sure if this is Captain Butter Beak or one of his brothers but he was chirping on top of the neighbor's pine tree like he was king of the world:

There was also a black squirrel hopping along the fence but he was too quick for my camera. 

Things are looking promising... Hopefully by the time I come back from Florida, spring will finally be here!

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