Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taking Stock

Well, it's officially the last day of September - time to take stock of the 2 goals I had set for myself this month.

1) I am going to start attending yoga classes once a week at the studio down the street.

Okay, this didn't go exactly as planned. It's hard to motivate myself to join something like this on my own, and no one else I know was interested in joining with me, so I took a different path. At the beginning of the month I purchased a DVD with five 25-minute yoga workouts designed to be done in the morning. Then for the first 2 weeks, I did one every other morning, changing it up on the weekends with one of my other workout videos. For the last 2 weeks...let's just say that sleep has been winning out over yoga. On the plus side, though, I've been doing a lot more walking, so I'm hoping it all balances out :)

2) I am going to cut out any and all desserts for the month of September to break the habit of needing something sweet after a meal.

I'm so proud of myself! For this entire month I haven't had a single dessert. I have had some sweets (2 pieces of birthday cake, 2 pieces of 'congratulations on your promotion' cake, 1 piece of 'congratulations on your engagement' cake and 4 of J's brownies, because they're J's brownies), but none of them were for dessert. I couldn't help but laugh at the fact that we had 4 cakes at work this month, when we're normally lucky to have one every other month or so. What are the odds? Now the challenge is going to be keeping myself from gorging on chocolate...mmm, chocolate...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Attention Toronto Home-owners!

This is a broom. It's a marvelous object, invented in its modern form by 19th century Shakers, and serving any number of purposes, from traditional floor cleaning to not-so-traditional crime fighting.

The reason that I bring it to your attention, however, is that it also works very well as a means of removing leaves, dirt and other detritus from your driveway. (Why you feel the need to remove said detritus from your driveway I'm not sure I understand, but you obviously do so we'll leave that as it is for the present moment.)

I have noticed lately that the vast majority of you have been using your hoses to wash your driveways and sidewalks clean, and I know that you must all be aware of how detrimental that is to the environment, what with the incredible amount of water that is wasted and the number of pollutants that are consequently washed into the water system. I have therefore reached the conclusion that you must be unaware of this valuable tool and how to use it.

Having come to that conclusion, I realized that it is unfair of me to expect you to switch to the broom method without any training, so I have included an instruction manual below.

How to Use a Broom to Sweep Your Driveway

1. Make sure you choose a broom that is suited for your task. In this case, your best bet would be a push broom, such as the one pictured to the right. It's large enough to cover a lot of territory quickly, and its bristles are generally designed to withstand the rougher texture of most outdoor surfaces.

2. Check to see that it isn't too windy out. This will help to keep the wind from undoing all your handiwork.

3. Beginning in a corner of your driveway next to your house, sweep (push the broom against the ground in one direction, lift and pull it back to the beginning edge) in overlapping strokes toward the street.

4. Work your way to the street, collecting the debris into a small pile or piles.

*Tip: It's best to be systematic, working from one end to the other. This helps ensure that you don't miss a spot.

5. Depending on your preference, either sweep the pile(s) into the street or into a dustpan (pictured to the left) for later disposal in the trash.

It's really that simple, folks! An added bonus in using your new found broom-wielding skills is that you will be burning off way more calories than you would using the old method. So how about we put away the hoses, m'kay?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"The Necessary" is the Mother of Invention

I love our apartment. I love the fact that the walls aren't white and the floors squeak when we walk on them. I love that it's relatively cheap for the area. I love that 6 out of 7 of our neighbours are pleasant, reasonable people. I love that there are windows on all 4 sides that let in lots of light.

It's really quite a nice little spot - perfect for TC and me. The only fly in the ointment is our landlord's idea of repairs. Case in point: When we first moved in, we noticed that the caulking along the edge of the bathtub had become moldy, not just on the surface but the caulking itself. We called our landlord who promised to come look at it right away, which he did. His solution? Slap some more caulking on top to cover the moldy stuff. That's basically his answer to everything, so we've stopped calling him for anything unless it's going to cost $$ to fix.

About a month ago, the handle on the toilet broke half. Since neither TC nor I are plumbers, we thought it would be best to notify the landlord to come fix it, which he did rather promptly. And for the past 2 weeks, we have had to re-attach the blasted handle he replaced the broken one with a number of times. Until yesterday, when my ingenious husband found a cost effective solution, using nothing but a napkin ring and some stainless steel wire (and I'm guessing a pair of pliers):

Isn't it beautiful? It works perfectly! My favourite thing about it, though, is that we didn't have to go out and buy anything to fix it. Hooray for TC!

(I'm inwardly laughing at the realization that I'm excited enough about this to post pictures of my toilet on the internet. Sorry you had to see this, loyal readers!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Appointment Day

Whew! I thought it would be a good idea to get all my routine doctor/dentist/etc. appointments over with in one day, so I booked them all for this afternoon. In the short span of 3 hours, I was poked, prodded, pricked, probed, pushed, pissed, pressed, polished and pasted.

Now I'm pooped.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Warning: May Contain Traces of Ranting

Scene: A popular pizza chain. Standing behind the counter is a uniformed adolescent food service worker. A managerial type in shirt and tie can be seen milling around in the back of the kitchen.

[Enter TC.

Worker: Can I help you?

TC: Yeah, I'd like to get a large BBQ chicken pizza, but I need to know first whether it has any MSG in it - that's short for monosodium glutamate.

Worker: I don't know.

TC: Could you please check? My wife is very allergic to it.

Worker: Just a sec...

[Worker walks to rear of kitchen and confers with Manager.

Manager: [hollering from back of kitchen] No, no...there's no MSG in anything. Chinese food is the only thing that has MSG in it.

TC: Not really - MSG is actually in a lot of stuff, like some sauces and processed meats.

Manager: [still hollering from back of kitchen] Oh, yeah, well there's MSG in everything. You can't avoid it.

TC: [getting slightly frustrated] That's not true - your pizza sauce is MSG free, but I'm not sure about the BBQ sauce. Could you please check the ingredients?

Worker: [reading something - presumably an ingredients list] I don't think there's any.

TC: Fine. I'll take one to go.

End scene.


Any guesses as to whether or not I ate any of this pizza? It happened a little while ago, but I couldn't help remembering this incident yesterday as I read an article about kids being bullied with their food allergies at school. Remember that Simpsons episode where Bart discovers that Principal Seymour is allergic to peanuts and threatens him with a peanut on a stick to make him do what Bart says? Not so funny when it happens in real life.

Part of the reason behind the bullying, according to the article, was that many people who don't have food allergies just don't understand the severity of it all. To them, it seems that those with allergies are just being picky or trying to get attention. I've run into this attitude more than once, and it never ceases to make me angry.

And it's not just food allergies. I've been blessed (I think?) to have a family that has allergies, so they understand when I tell them that I'm reacting to their perfumes, etc. when I'm there and they try to make reasonable accommodations. But I know someone who developed allergies to dust and pet dander in adulthood, and whenever they visit their family, they immediately start having an allergic reaction to the carpets filled with the offending allergens. And their family's response? You're not really allergic to it - you're making it up - it's all in your head.

Making it up?

I wish that there were some way to make it possible for every allergy-free person to be given a food allergy and/or an environmental allergy for a week. Nothing life threatening - just something that would make them miserable and help them understand what it's like to live with allergies. Then we might see a little less of this ridiculous attitude of blaming the allergic for their allergies.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Testing my resolve...

Remember how I've sworn off sweets for the month of September? I'm happy to report that things are going relatively well in that department. I've only made 2 exceptions to my sugary embargo - one for a piece of birthday cake (I didn't want to be rude), and one for the best brownies on the face of the earth. Seriously, people, you need to try these brownies. My friend J makes them, and I knew that she would be bringing them to home church on Wednesday, so I told myself that I was allowed to have some. After all, I'm only human!

What I didn't realize was that she would leave the leftovers for our home church hosts, who also host a games night every Thursday that I usually attend. And what were the snacks for games night? J's brownies. Who had to sit and watch everybody else rave over them while not being able to eat any? You guessed it - me!

On the plus side, J did give me her brownie recipe, and since I can't make them until October 1 (can you guess what I'll be doing that day?) you'll have to try them yourselves on my behalf. Here's the recipe - it's very simple, but oh so delicious!

J's Brownies

4 rows of President’s Choice extra dark or bittersweet chocolate from a 300 g bar
¾ c butter
2 c white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c all-purpose flour

Line a glass 9” x 13” pan with parchment paper. Heat oven to 350. Microwave chocolate and butter in large, dry, microwaveable bowl in 30 second increments. Stir in between. Repeat until chocolate is completely melted.Stir sugar into melted chocolate until well blended. Stir in fork-scrambled eggs and vanilla until completely mixed. Mix in flour until well blended. Pour into pan.Bake until cake tester comes out clean (25-30 minutes). Allow to cool completely. Loosen edges, pull on parchment paper to lift brownies out of pan and onto cutting surface.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lest We Forget indeed!

I sincerely dislike election time. Don't get me wrong - I'm grateful that I live in a country where the people elect their leaders. It's not always a perfect system, but I believe it's definitely one of the best. And I don't take my responsibility as a voting citizen lightly. Each time an election is called, I try to understand the issues and how each party addresses them so that I can make an informed decision.

There are aspects of the whole process that annoy the heck out of me, though. I hate the signs that start going up until every conceivable space is covered in red, blue, green, orange or whatever colour any independants are using. I hate answering the phone only to hear an automated voice telling me to vote for this party or that candidate.

But what I hate the most are TV ads like this one. I completely agree with everything Harper says, but it has nothing to do with whether or not I should vote for him. Instead, it makes me angry that any party would try to use the sacrifices made by our veterans for political gain. I'm supposed to watch this ad and think, Yes, I owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans. Wow, Harper feels the same way. He must be the best candidate for Prime Minister - I'll vote for him. I mean, come on! It's nothing more than a cheap attempt at emotional manipulation.

Shame on you, Mr. Harper!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Those of you who know me will not be surprised to learn that I am not a cat person. They make me itch. And sneeze. Nor am I usually amused by stupid pet videos or pictures. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I saw these:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

In Review...

Do you remember those socks that I started way back in July? I finished them this past weekend - yay! They're not perfect (I still haven't nailed the 'finish-off-the-toe' thing), but for a first attempt at sock-making, I'm immensely pleased with them :)

We actually did quite a bit over the weekend, come to think of it. Friday was spent with some friends from Calgary who were in town at a part of the city known as the Distillery District - one of my new favourite parts of Toronto. Check out this picture from their official website:

Very Dickensian, don't you think? Of course it was daytime when we were there, and there were no Christmas lights, but there was an Art Fair and my new favourite store - Soma Chocolate. Mmm...all you have to do is go in the store and breathe and you get your chocolate fix. They make it all right there (you can watch them do it) and it is soooo good!

I need to stop thinking about it, though, or I won't be able to avoid sweets this month. So far so good, by the way. As of Monday morning I haven't touched anything that might be classified as 'dessert' (which, for me, is a pretty extensive list). 27 more days to go...

Anyhoo, on Saturday we made one of our tri-annual trips to Wal-mart (that horribly addictive place) and came home with so much stuff (I console myself that none of it was useless - we actually did need all of it). I won't bore you with all the details, but I did spend September & October's yarn budget for an afghan that I'm excited about. Another awesome find:

That's the first of my Jaywalker socks with the Fleece Artist Seawool, which isn't what I got at Wal-mart. See the bag that it's sitting on? We've been needing a new set of sheets, and the ones we bought came wrapped in that bag rather than in plastic. I think it's rather cute - it's now my knitting tote for the subway. Hooray for reuseable packaging!

Sunday and Monday were spent visiting, relaxing, knitting (see above) and making a batch of lavendar soap, which I'll show you once it's out of the mold. All in all, the weekend was a perfect blend of activity and inactivity. Don't you just love long weekends?