Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Say, is it Spring?

I've decided that since the weather isn't saying Spring.. that Spring will just have to be a state of mind. This is what it looks like outside our window. -10C that's a MINUS sign... with snow and a still-frozen river, but INSIDE it can be Spring!

Bring out the spring sweaters! (Aren't you jealous, Houstonians.. we STILL get to wear sweaters.) and the Spring Boots - Hey, if you have to wear these giant slush boots, you might as well have 'em in Pansy Purple! and Spring into Spring! Nevermind all that snow on the balcony chairs...

The horses think it's spring... Look at Lee's horses, Red and Dallas. They're convinced that there's spring grass under there!

My very talented goddaughter painted this Spring Duck for me. Isn't he gorgeous?

And another talented illustrator.. the same one who did Wind in the Willows painted this precious bunny. Pretty soon, Easter will be here with all the promise of new life! See, the bunny is counting the days! Even Thaddeus is hopeful waiting by the window for his friends the Canadian Geese to come honking by.... (Susan.. I knew you've been missing Thaddeus..)

and Don and Lee have blue tongues.. now, what that has to do with Spring is beyond me.. but I couldn't resist putting them on here... Must be my brain on antibiotics. I'm taking a break from blogging till after Easter. Can you tell I need one? Happy Easter everyone!! Celebrate new life!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Culinary Calamity

Unless you're a first-time visitor, you know that I've been hosting an insidious, quite irritating critter inside my sinus cavity for what seems like longer than the Canadian winter. After the critter's original all-night burn-the-candle-at-both-ends frat party in my chest, I found out that his name is Horace and he likes it where he is inside my membranes. I tried to throw him out on his bum. I did NOT invite him up to my sinuses. I did not! But there, in the morning, I found that he and his noisome, repugnant buddies who stick together like glue, some might say snot, had taken up residence. They refuse to budge no matter the extreme eviction measures I have taken. So, if I have to be stuck inside the house, I might as well BAKE!

What to make? Well, the bananas are in rougher shape than the zucchini - black is not a shade that suits them so, I went with chocolate chip banana nut bread. Chocolate chips always have an edge. It started out innocuously enough.... some batter...some banana...

But things went very wrong on the way to banana nirvana.... here's how it went down:

All the labels in Canada are printed in French/English and most cooks would read the instructions in their native tongue.
Mais moi? Non. Ok, that's an excuse. Really I just wasn't paying attention. Instead of un tasse .. I put in deux - double the water needed so I was left with soup o'muffins. And since I don't have a real mixing bowl, the under-sized one I use was very full with just half the load of batter, (Note to self: Stop thinking about getting a BIGger bowl and buy one!) I had to glop the extra in a ziplock bag and mix it by squishing the bag together. But it did make it more fun in the end 'cause I got to lick the BAG instead of a paltry beater. Mon dieu - what a mess!
Finally, though, here are the muffins tins prepped and ready to go into the preheated oven and then it will be Muffin Mania! In they go! Whuuuuuut....??? the oven isn't heating! ????
I pull out the oven manual.. read it IN ENGLISH front to back. There's no section in there about "What if your oven won't heat?" There's stuff about Sabbath Mode, Convection Mode, Dialectical Reasoning Mode, but nothing about HEATING STUFF UP MODE! I read it in German, Italian, Chinese....ok...I didn't do that, but I did read it cover to cover and then pushed every single button. I flipped the circuit breaker. I drank a glass of port.. medicinal value. I sat down, scratched my head, stood on my head, and then called the manufacturer. And the nice young lady said, in effect, "Just sit all day long in your house on Monday, (4 days from now) waiting for our dude to show up near dinnertime.. and never fear, we'll charge you by the precious second to press one button that we could have told you about over the phone."
But that's Monday, so how about my muffins that are ready to be baked now? Should I make them into pancakes and cook them on a griddle? Should I just eat them raw by the spoonful? (wouldn't be the first time... )

But then, my foggy vicksed-up brain thought, I don't need a gunked-up stomach on top of a gunky head. Who in this downtown condo has a working oven and is also home during the day? BONNIE! I phoned. Bonnie answered. Hallelujah! We trotted, we two, in our sock feet with the tins up to her floor and while the muffins were cooking merrily away...we fixed all the world's problems over tea. A friendship is born! Now.. if only my "friend" Horace will pack up his friends and go!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blog about Bella

Can being sick be a blessing? Perhaps. Instead of being outside running around a nearly springlike day in Calgary, I'm in with a hacking cough. My wonderful hubster did all our errands and rented some movies. Which leads me to this: Get out a piece of paper and write down this recommendation for an incredibly moving film, Bella.

Then, Do not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200, Go Straight to Movie Rental. To paraphrase Jon Forman who has one of the beautiful songs on the soundtrack: It is understated, honest.. it feels like a foreign film (this is a good thing!) It's for thinking people. It's not the kind of movie that will come down and just entertain you. There are no bandaids in the movie, just raw, real life and true emotion, and choices that women, thankfully, still have.

You can see the trailer on or skip it - sometimes trailers can say too much... and go rent it and then we can discuss.

Likewise, you've got to see all the Oscar-nominated Best Picture movies: Milk (Sean Penn deserved to win), The Wrestler, Frost/Nixon (too bad Frank Langella couldn't have received a runner-up Oscar,) Slumdog Millionaire, and our favorite, The Reader. They'll have you talking or you're not a thinking person. (hee hee)

We also saw The Duchess, with Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes (who is also in The Reader.) At first glance, it seemed like just another period piece, about the challenges facing a intelligent, headstrong 18th-century noblewoman Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire, brokered by her mother to an older, aloof Duke who only wants a male heir. The similarities to Princess Diana, a distant relative of Georgiana's, abound. Yet, after listening to the Duchess' biographer's comments on the DVD, the movie's symbolism deepens to becomes an account of not only a remarkable woman from an earlier era but also a reminder of our forbears and the battles, personal and public, they've fought for us.
Next up: Culinary Creation or Crashes

Monday, March 9, 2009

How to Hibernate

We woke up to this, today: -25C and light snow.
Perfect weather for hibernating...yes? I shall look in my tea cupboard and see which one(s) to have. Would you have Chai, Constant Comment, licorice tea from the Remedy Tea store in Seattle, or Williams Sonoma peppermint hot chocolate? Oh-ho! I spy real chocolate in there too. Who needs tea! and then maybe some gentle Yoga ... now that's a stretch...

Shouldn't the 6 more weeks of winter be over? The poinsettia thinks it's still Christmas...

Or, I could mull over the final details on how to Owl Puke the Pukers.. (see earlier post.)

Perhaps I should make some veggie lasagna?

Or maybe knit a little something? Not likely. This little kit has been with me since cell phones were invented.

or I could delve into more of this book that I bought for Charlie, who loved it. Then we loaned it to Anna and it made Anna cry. Then Oprah decided it was on her must-read list, plus it's a story filled with dogs, so no doubt I'll like it.

Better yet, I could read the book while taking a bath with.....ooh what to pick? a Lush Bath Bomb.. with soothing bath oil or Rocky Mountain bath salts...hmmmm..

Shall I increase my brain synapses by learning to say, "I would like a bottle of white wine, please." en Francais? Je voudrais une bouteille de vin blanc, s'il vous plait." .

Right, Lee? That'd be a good hibernating activity. That's an oxymoron - hibernating and activity. Yet, somewhere out there, someone, like my brother and his boys in Massachusetts, are making good use of this snow! Go Marko!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sink or Swim

If you don't think you need to learn how to swim..and swim well. .. Here are the top 10 reasons it just might be a handy skill to have.

#10 In case the Perfect Waves are Pounding and the Big Boys are Boogie Boarding...

#9 In case the Great Ones are just Gearing up... #8 In case you want to hang with the Broads who can Boogie too!
#7 In case you want to spy a Sea Turtle Swimming by...

#6 or Watch a Whale ... or nearly Touch her Tail.
#5 So you can get Whipped by the Whitecaps ..those Tranquil Tidal Waves...

#4 Or get Upended by the Undertow #3 Or move it on out with the Magnificent Maui Surfer Girl.#2 Swim, swim, swim so you can Dive into Dessert!

and the #1 reason you should learn to swim is so you can Hang with your Honey out in Honolua Bay!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sadness for Sada and family

Yesterday we received the sad news that our daughter-in-law, Sada, had a miscarriage. She and BJ, Charlie's son, were excited about having a new little one to join their busy 3-year old bundle-0-boy. Sadly though, Sada's pregnancy was troubled and yesterday it ended at the emergency room. Thankfully, Sada is ok and there were lots of family and friends there to comfort and pray with her and BJ. We are far away physically, but as parents and grandparents, our hearts break just the same. It's hard to know that someone you love is going through so much pain and to feel fairly helpless. We are asking for your prayers for gentle moments for the Winter Family as they grieve.

Photo by Nilavu