February 24, 2014

lazy Monday

It's been a lazy Monday off from work, which is exactly what I was hoping for. There's so much to do around the house - paint the upstairs, hang artwork, shovel snow - but I decided to take today to rest and relax. 


This morning I had a cup of coffee, hung some baby's breath to dry and photographed a couple of items to list on Kijiji. We're selling my old digital camera and a clothes dryer. We priced them at half of what everyone else on Kijiji is asking, for a quick sale.

While I photographed the dryer in the garage, Maple ventured out the front door (which I left open for her) and kept me company. Ever since we moved into this house, it's been too cold for her to really wander around the garage but it's been warmer this week (funny how I now call 35 degrees warm) so I let her hang out with me for a bit today, without a sweater or a leash. 



She's become very adventurous.


Once we came in, we watched The Chew and I wrote a restaurant review for Examiner.com, something I've been meaning to do for months. I'm hoping to throw myself into restaurant reviewing now that I have a car.

I realize now that I haven't written about our new car even though we purchased it a couple of weeks ago. I guess I'm just not much of a car person so I don't talk about it very much, but I'm very thankful that we were able to get a loan through our bank and get this vehicle. 



I love being able to drive myself to and from work again and it's comforting to know that we now have a winter-worthy vehicle for when the roads get really bad.

After a sunny morning, the sky is growing grey and there are warnings of flurries this evening. I have to start thinking about what we'll have for dinner soon if I want to get to the supermarket before the roads turn nasty. But not before I bake a batch of banana muffins. 

Ahh, I do love lazy days off.

February 19, 2014

from scratch


I've always been a fan of baking from scratch. Even though I grew up in the Church of Betty Crocker, I never felt quite right about making a birthday cake from a box mix or using Wonder Bread for French toast once I hit adulthood. 

My biggest issue isn't the taste - Pillsbury cookie dough straight out of the tube is my secret shame - but rather the whole idea of taking a shortcut. I often ask myself, "What did people do centuries ago, before INSERT NEW INVENTION HERE?" How did our ancestors get along before iPhones and Crock-Pots? 

Maybe it's all those Little House on the Prairie books I read as a kid but I take comfort in the simple things that are often overlooked nowadays, like writing cursive, keeping an address book and using a gravy boat.

So why it took me 28 years before I got around to baking bread from scratch is beyond me.But yesterday afternoon, I had a whim and decided to follow it.


I had no idea it would take so long. You do a few steps, then wait an hour for the dough to rise. Do another few steps, then wait another hour for the dough to rise. It's baby steps the whole way, a lot of hand-holding before the big moment when you can finally put that sucker in the oven.

It was everything I thought it would be. The sour smell of the yeast sitting in water, the satisfaction of punching the air out of the dough with my fist, the smoothness of the rolling pin - for a few hours my mind was entirely captivated by this thing that had nothing to do with work or money or anything outside my door.

All I was concerned with was whether my dough would rise. Nothing more, nothing less. The sun was setting outside my kitchen window and the dog was at my feet. It was the kind of simple pleasure that I want to bottle and keep.


And what did I do with my lovely loaf of cinnamon raisin bread once it rose (!) and was ready for consumption? We had French toast and chocolate milk for dinner. 

And it was amazing, as most simple things tend to be.


THE RECIPE I FOLLOWED IS HERE.

February 14, 2014

lazy

I never imagined that winter could make people as sluggish as Bobby and I have been lately. Maybe it's the heated blanket on the couch and the thick socks on our feet, but I find myself getting lazier and lazier as winter drags on. I'd rather hibernate in the warmth of the living room then do just about anything else it seems. 

We haven't done any work to the house in weeks and, even though I didn't really want to exert myself beyond hitting the 'popcorn' button on the microwave and turning on another episode of Portlandia, I figured I should at least finish unpacking our boxes last weekend. 

I cleared the kitchen island off so it's usable, and quickly decorated the bookcase that's been left to die in the back corner of the kitchen. 

This isn't how we're leaving things but at least everything's off the floor and out of boxes for now. 

before


after



Maple seems to like it.

February 9, 2014

brrrr

I think I've reached my threshold for cold. 

There was a moment yesterday, when I was test-driving a Jeep, that I realized I've had enough. Bobby, Sonny (our car salesman) and myself were all wearing coats, scarves and gloves, and sat hunched in a similar huddled position trying to keep warm as we waited for the air to heat up in the car. 

It was absurd - three grown adults at the complete mercy of the cold, watching our breath swirl around inside the car, Bobby asking me three times if the heat was turned on, and me in a moment of sheer panic exclaiming, "OH MY GOD, WHAT IF THE HEAT'S BROKEN?!"

The cold air makes your skin itch, your hair break and your mind crazy. Children can't go outside for recess for fear of hypothermia. Adults can't drive over 20 mph for fear of sliding right off the road. 

It's easy to see the beauty in freshly fallen snow but once it turns into grey, slushy ice banks, all romanticism goes out the window.


Even now, as I type this blog, I look out the window and see that it's snowing again. And I wonder if I really need to run to Loblaws for eggs that badly.

I'll admit, there are some perks of winter - dogs don't need flea meds for a few months, you don't have to shave your legs as often and there's always an excuse to bake something unhealthy, as long as it warms you up.

Case in point: Yesterday while putzing around the internet (seriously, what did people do before Google?) I came across a recipe for something called a dutch baby (recipe here). It's a cross between a popover and a pancake, and apparently they're very popular in Seattle. I was drawn to the randomness of that last fact.

I had to bake one. I mean, it was cold outside and I needed something to warm me up. Right?



It ended up being one of the easiest and most delicious things I have ever made. It was only a few simple ingredients - butter, flour, milk, eggs, cinnamon and nutmeg; and it was topped with sugar and lemon rind. 

Holy crap was it good. I was rather proud of it. We ate it hot, right out of the oven. It almost made me forget how stupid cold it is outside.


Almost.



February 7, 2014

story telling

I purchased an old Smith-Corona typewriter yesterday.


I found it at my favorite Salvation Army location on Dundas Street. It was waiting patiently on a shelf in the back of the store. I watched person after person walk past it without a second glance.

I felt obligated to give it a good home.


There was no price tag so I asked the saleslady how much it was. She was tickled that someone would want something so outdated. She ended up giving it to me for only $9.99, bless her heart.

I carried it upstairs and set it up on my new desk. Well, it's an antique library desk but it's a new purchase for us. I kind of love it. 


I feel like the typewriter and the desk have stories to tell...


...And hopefully they'll help me tell stories of my own.



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