Monthly Archives: October 2010

Boo To You!!!

Happy Hallowe’en Night!

We are just in from a walk around the ‘hood to check out Hallowe’en decs and see hyped up on sugar cute costumed kids screaming around the sidewalks. This Hallowe’en eve walk has been our tradition since we moved to the condo casa. I sorely miss giving out candy. If anyone with a house wants to adopt me next year, I’ll gladly give out candy for you…and I’ll even BMOC! (bring my own candy). So, being sans maison,  the next best thing is checking out the action at street level.

The thing is, it’s about zero (celsuis) degrees out there tonight! Brrrr! We are evidently not acclimatized as of yet: we’ve both been FREEZING all day! So we bundled up for tonight’s outing:

that'd be two layers of pants and my winter coat. and a hat. and double mitts.

Lest you think I’m a winter wuss (well, I am, kinda), here’s B:

that's some puffy coat action going on!

I always feel bad for the little trick-or-treaters when it’s so hideously cold on Hallowe’en. I remember how disappointing it was to have to either cover your costume with a winter coat or wear bulky and uncomfortable layers underneath. This type of weather calls for a GHOST costume or maybe a BOX costume – you’d never see layers under those get-ups! (But they’re not really great substitutes if you have your heart set on being SPIDERMAN or a PRINCESS!

I think I drove B a little nuts because I kept stopping to snap photos. It was worth it, though! Saw some houses that definitely were in the Hallowe’en spirit! Here’s the best of the best:

Best Twinkle Light Award:

lighted walkway leading to the doorway!

Best Window Covering:

meow!

Best Pumpkins-on-the-Front-Porch Display:

fall-ish + Hallowe'en-ish!

Best Cobweb Distribution:

perfect amount! not too much, not too little!

Best Use of a Tree for Ghoul-ish Purposes:

ooooooo!!!

Best Giant Spider:

cute in a spooky kind of way!

Best Cute-Not-Scary Award:

quite welcoming!

Best Front Door Decorating Award:

nice banner!

And lastly, the Best Costume Award for Hallowe’en 2010:

rock it, elvis!

This is my friend, Steve, from the store. He’s running the Las Vegas Marathon as Elvis, in this costume (it’s super cool: made of technical material, it’s designed for runners!). All he needs is blue suede shoes instead of those Nike’s and he’ll be 100% set!

wonder if he'll run and sing?!!

Well, that’s a wrap for our Hallowe’en. I’m off for a shower to thaw out, then we’ll conclude the eve with a PVR’d viewing of Gleethis week’s episode is a take-off on Rocky Horror Picture Show – great way to end the 31st of October, if you ask me!

Two Times Two!

Take this couple…

b and me...

…and this couple…

diann and steve

And you end up with…

a dinner double date!

Tonight we braved the freezing temp to meet up with new friends Diann and Steve at The Huether. The place was packed! We got the last available table upstairs when we arrived at 7 pm.

This was our second evening out with Diann and Steve. B knows them both through work and since our last outing was so much fun, we were eager to meet up again! And same as last time, we enjoyed non-stop conversation on a myriad of topics. Diann hails from South Africa – I could listen to her talk all eve just for her unique accent! So much fun to have a new set of friends!

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Tomorrow eve we are likely movie-ing, so stay tuned for the review – hopefully I’ll post it tomorrow eve!

Happy Hallowe’en Weekend!

Just One Thing

We’ve lived in the condo casa for just over six years now. Really, I don’t miss anything from our days of owning a house. Our current lifestyle suits us perfectly. And there are minimal inconveniences living in a multi-unit building as opposed to a house. I used to say I missed just hauling the groceries into the hallway from the garage; but since I’ve transitioned to doing a little grocery shopping every day at Valumart across the street, that’s really no longer an issue.

No, the only thing I would have to say that I miss about a house is…decorating for holidays!! And would you believe, I prefer Hallowe’en decorating to Christmas.

Baby C and I enjoyed our decoration sightseeing-by-stroller tours this week. Baby C has caught on well to aunti’s enthusiastic commentary, and becomes very animated when I point out “pumpkin!” “ghostie!” or “spider webs!” And, of course, with her keen eye for household pets, she spies the neighbourhood kittie-cats before I do!

Just a few shots of the best of the ‘hood:

the AC/EC pumpkin family!

now THAT'S a pumpkin!!!

how did they train their cat to stay on the porch like that?! (that is a real cat amongst the decorations!)...

...cuz there's another one!!!

winner of the "best cobwebs" award

...and the runner up!

best spider-web award...

award for most splatted witches in a front yard...

...and the happiest happy hallowe'en signage award...

...plus a runner-up!

And last but not least…

the Hallowe'en Spirit Award, Toddler Category! (note the spidey-bracelet as well as the seasonal onesie!)

…although I could be judged for being biased on that one!

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Your daily smile:

smart thinking, or what!

Back Downtown, Different Destination

Since I had so much fun last week going downtown, I decided to repeat the experience tonight.

again with the self-portrait!...

...and again with the streetcar (although this time i got the raptors bus!)

But I didn’t want to just do the same trip all over again, (don’t need more longjohns, haha!) so I decided to hit

the longest street in canada (but no longer the world, according to wikipedia!)

and go to

shopping + tourist destination!

But first, I got a little sidetracked.

I have never shopped at

right across from the eaton centre

What a cool place! Tons of clothing, but also this section upstairs!

random dishes, bedding, furniture, paper goods...very fun!

I was just about to snap a photo of some outfits on mannequins when a sales associate politely informed me that no photography is allowed in the store! Oops! Glad I snuck in that one pic upstairs, then, haha! I tried taking a photo through the front glass, outside, but with the glare and reflection, it was a no-go. So just let me tell you, the clothes are rather bo-ho, citified-hippie, aka completely ME! Will return.

I walked a bit further north on Yonge Street, then east immediately when my eye spotted

yes, that would be the one and only FOREVER 21!!!

Remember? Remember?? Florida…shopping…my favourite store find???! Thanks to my fabulous Cousin Kate, I knew that the Toronto location of Forever 21 was near Dundas Square…and suddenly it was right in front of my eyes!

I had to try this on:

labelled as "cardigan," i wanted to see if it could pass as a dress over tights...

I LOVED the crochet and the colours – again, that bohemian look rocks my socks. I debated…but decided no. I hope I don’t regret this in the morning.

While I love the styles in Forever 21, you don’t go here looking for a neatly merchandised store.

my inner retail neatfreak had a hard time not wanting to STRAIGHTEN AND PICK UP THE PRODUCT!!!

The first time I was ever in the Eaton Centre, I was five years old. I will always associate it with the soaring glass ceiling:

even more impressive when there is sunlight shining through!

I only had time to hit the stores on the one main corridor. I had no idea what I would find, but boy, did I pick the right floor to stay on!

refrained from even looking closely at christmas cards...that time will come!

Heard about, but never been in…

cosmetics heaven!

Had a super time wandering around here. Recognized many brands from magazine articles, fashion stories etc. So much choice! Purchased nothing. Was sorely tempted by cookies n cream body wash…and also the toasted marshmallow body wash. I’ve obviously been baking too much, lately.

Was beginning to feel quite confident that I would be leaving the mall with the same amount of money with which I arrived. Except right next door to Sephora was…

wooooo-wheee, baby!

Had to finally tear myself away so I could catch my streetcar. You can bet I did not leave empty-handed!

but it's a SMALL bag!!!

I picked up three pairs of socks (really thin ones that I haven’t been able to find in my store) and a pair of …..ARM WARMERS for running! Super cool! A non-action photo would not do them justice so I’ll get back to you on that. Here’s a link, though, if you want to see (mine are black, though).

Another successful voyage downtown…where can I explore next time?!

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Dad sent me his OFFICIAL TASTE-TESTER COMMENTS for both the choco chip loaf cake and the cookies for the firefighting students. Thanks, Dad!

Boston Has a Thing for Mondays

The Boston Marathon is always held on the third Monday of April. With all other major marathons held on the weekends (usually Sunday morning), this Monday date (which is also Patriots Day for the state of Massachusetts) is truly unique.

 (source)

This race holds a special place in my heart.

(See here for the story of this tattoo!)

I competed in ’97, ’98 and ’99. To this day, just thinking about those races still gives me shivers of excitement! I set a PB on the course in ’98 (3:00:46) which is cool, but even more special? The happy memories I have of our travel to and from Boston each year (we drove out and back each time, B, our friend Brian, and me) and the actual running – fortunately, I had great races each time.

from my 1997 scrapbook!

a few days after the '97 race!

Any runner who has the good fortune of running a qualifying time at a certified marathon should definitely run the Boston Marathon at least once in their life. It is that worth it.

This past Monday October 18th was also a special Monday in regards to the Boston Marathon: at 9 a.m. EST, registration opened for the April 18, 2011 event. In unprecedented fashion, registration closed at 5:03 p.m. EST – yes, a mere eight hours later – because all spots had been filled. That’s upwards of 27 000 spots gone, just like that. (To put this time in context, last year it took two months for the race to fill. A few years ago, it would take until approximately late February until registration maxed out).

As you can imagine, having the field filled in record time set off quite the uproar in the running community. If you’re interested in some of the debate (not to mention griping), you can check out these links:

I will never get to run Boston” – Running Room website, online forum

Boston Registration HELP!” - Running Mania website, online forum

Boston Marathon Registration” – Runner’s World website, online forum

So what happens now? While each runner seems keen to pronounce their fix (I’ll get up on my soapbox in a moment,) the general consensus is that the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) will amend its current qualifying and/or registration procedures. The second point of agreement is that the BAA should announce such a decision in as timely a manner as possible (ie. sooner rather than later) so that runners know what they are up against in terms qualifying and registering for the 2012 race.

As I remember from Econ 101 in University (OK, pretty much all I remember from that course!) the laws of supply and demand apply here: this marathon is a hot commodity, so as a business model, should the BAA mess with a good thing? With demand exceeding the supply of available registration spots, why diminish the furor surrounding “getting into Boston?” 

Here’s what I propose in order to allow more runners a fair chance of getting into the race:

  • tighten the qualifying times – if you read some of the forum threads, above, you’ll see debate questioning the adjustment of men’s vs women’s times, and of age group divisions. I’d take five minutes off from each age group, both women and men, and from all age groups.
  • take away the “0:59 grace period.” Let’s say you’re a 40 year old female (haha!)…your qualifying time right now is 3 h 50 minutes. Thanks to the 59 second rule, you can run 3:50:59 and it’s considered you met the required time. In my proposal, the slowest qualifying time you could run would be 3:50:00. End of story.
  • shorten the qualifying window of marathon race dates. For the April 2011 race, you could run a marathon between September 20, 2009 and the end of registration (October 18, this year). So that’s over 12 months for the qualifying window. Other years, runners could marathon in October or November, qualify to run Boston six months later, register before the end of the year, and be A-OK. Make the qualifying window twelve months, exactly. This time period would still benefit both spring and fall marathoners, but would get rid of the “double qualifying race” option. A local example is the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon: with its late September date, this race permits runners to use their time for two years of Boston qualifying. For example, if you ran Scotiabank in 2008, you could use your time to apply for both the 2009 and 2010 marathons.

Lastly, I’ll give you my most controversial proposal…eliminate all charity spots allocated for the Boston Marathon. Currently, runners who participate in the Boston Marathon to raise money for a charity do not need to qualify for the event. Yes, these charity spots raise huge amounts of money for highly worthy causes. Yes, raising money for charity has a deserved role in marathon running. Instead I would:

  • allow qualified runners to fundraise and participate as part of a charity team OR
  • 

  • add on a $50 fee ( what’s another $50 added to the already overlyhighpriced entry + travel costs?!) for each runner and that amount would go directly to local Boston charities. FYI – a Canadian runner going to Boston in 2011 paid the International registration fee of $175 US  that was charged this year. Fundraising organizations like Team in Training offer exceptional running + travel experiences for those runners interested in other big-city, hoopla-filled competitions.

Proposals I have read that I would reject: allowing first-time participants a more lax qualifying time (every single runner trains hard; it should be a level playing field for all, regardless of prior experience); using a lottery system (extra fol de rol that only serves to complicate the qualifying process and create a snowball effect of mass complications); opening up more spots (races like the Chicago Marathon can accomodate 45000+ participants) because it’s true that the roads of the Boston course cannot easily accomodate more runners.

We’ll stop there for today. As I said, this is a huge debate topic in the running world. I can’t wait to see what changes – if any (?) will unfold. Stay tuned!

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I started a 4th page of recipes today! Thirty-two down and eight to go! For recipe #32, see the 4th page link over there. <—-

If you missed Recipe #31, Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake, click here. Trust me, ya don’t wanna miss that one!!

So Long, Trailer Park Jacket!

About four or five years ago now, B and I were totally into watching Trailer Park Boys. We both find them hilarious (very surprising since B and I have different senses of humour, most of the time). It was around this time, too, that celebs like Avril Lavigne had made the wearing of trucker hats a raging fashion trend.

At the store, we were carrying a short-lived Walking Room line of clothing. Frankly, the items did not sell well, and quite quickly went on sale. The winter walking jacket had caught my quirky-fashion eye, and then it went on sale. I figured out that with my staff discount, I could pick up a new winter-weight jacket for $25! Given my trailer park mindframe in that era, me + wearing this jacket tickled my funny bone, and I picked it up.

Well. Did not this jacket become durn-near my favourite piece of clothing ev-ah. I wore it non-stop all that first winter. About mid-way through the second winter of wear, the zipper broke (hey, waddya expect for $25, right?). I took it to my local tailor shop and had it replaced. I think that cost me, like $21 or something…but I’d pay just about anything to keep on truckin’ in my trailer park jacket.

Add on another winter of wear. And quite possibly another. That brings us to this upcoming winter. The coat is not lookin’ good folks. No sirree, Bob. Even I could see that I had devolved from trailer park inhabitant to looking like a homeless person. Sad times.

the one and only...

but i sooooo love this jacket! roomy, warm, big pockets, high neck, longer sleeves...

and those would be BACKPACK lines - fading ups the trailer park image!

even i gotta say...the jacket's gotta go!!

...but i really, really loved you, trailer park jacket! <3 <3 <3

But guess what happened to land on the sale rack at the store, not so long ago? A black, semi-puffy coat (we’ll talk about puffy coats in general another day). And this one is actually designed for women. It’s part of the Pink Ribbon clothing line. The style didn’t sell so well in our store, but I think that’s because the original price point was $139.99. BUT, on sale AND with my discount, I picked up a replacement trailer park jacket yesterday for a very reasonable $69.99. That ain’t no $25 deal, but I think it’s time to move outta the park, kids. Movin’ on up…

sleeker lines...

i still got pockets, nice high neck, longer sleeves...

like the look? i do!

My first inclination was to wash Trailer Park Jacket and donate it. B declared it fit for the refuse bin. Then this morning, I had a brain-wave. I’m not at liberty to share it with you right now; suffice to say, I’m storing this jacket for future use…not for public use, but it will come in handy for a very specific occasion. Sorry to be mysterious, but the day will come when you see Old Man Walking Coat again.

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It’s been a wonderful weekend! If you have a second, you may wish to check out the latest movie review and the latest baking success!

A Streetcar Named ADVENTURE

Tonight I embarked on an expedition. OK, nothing as exotic as a balloon ride across the Sahara or anything, but it was still a nice deviation from the same-old same-old Wednesday eve chez The Brother and SIL Ana.

I decided it was high time to pay a visit to downtown Toronto. When The Brother and SIL Ana lived closer to downtown, I used to bop over to Queen/Spadina pretty much weekly. I love downtown Toronto – just the general hubbub, the diversity in people, the shopping…when I was little, my dream was to live in a skyscraper condo right in the heart of the city. So while that childhood fantasy has not played out, I still get excited by time spent in the concrete jungle.

Even though I have my Rav4 down here, it was a no-brainer to just hop the streetcar at the end of the street. Three bucks each way as opposed to about $20 to park, plus no traffic hassles. I never ride transit at home, so the streetcar is a bit of a foreign mode of transport to me! I’ve only ridden it once before, two years ago with The Brother, when we did some Christmas shopping. So I consulted Chris and Ana and refreshed myself on proper streetcar etiquette and procedure, reviewed the streetcar number I needed, and got my change organized. Ready to go!

only a mini-excursion, but still worthy of a self-portrait!

Only had to wait less than five minutes, and my limo my chariot arrived!

all aboard!

I was going against the major flow of traffic, so the ride passed uneventfully. I amused myself with people watching, and listened carefully for my stop! I got off just by the old CityTV grounds…

ctv may have taken over, but to me it will always be citytv...and home of muchmusic!

…then i headed south to king street.

a view like this is why i love toronto!

hugely windy today - esp with the wind gusting and swirling around the tall buildings

I DID have a destination in mind for today: MEC. Specifically, I was on the hunt for new VERY WARM winter tights. I have a pair from MEC that are at least three winters old, and are looking their age (think fuzzballs on the knees, saggy butt – yes the tights, not me!).

here we are!

I dillydally-ed around and found six pairs of tights to try. (Sadly, they no longer carry what I currently own).

bad angle...but YOU try taking a photo of six tights in a two foot square box!!

Two pairs made the cut, but I still wasn’t completely satisfied…the pair I liked the best cost $97 – more than I had hoped to spend.

Then I had this brainwave!

glamorous? no. right price? yes. versatile? yes.

Score! I can layer these with other pants I already own for really cold days.

the goods

For whatever reason, I had just assumed that the Co-Op would be open until 9 p.m. My bad. About 6:45 p.m. I heard, “Good evening, shoppers…” and suddenly I had fifteen minutes til close! I felt really guilty! As someone who works in retail, I try to avoid being in a store anywhere within 30 minutes of closing…I know all too well what it’s like when you’re trying to wrap up for the evening, and customers are dithering over socks! I rushed to the checkout, got my longjohns and scooted out.

made it out in the nick o' time!

I returned to Queen Street where a few stores were open; unfortunately, destination #2 of the eve was closed…

maybe a good thing for my wallet, though!

A bit more streetwalking browsing, then I caught the trolley back home. All in all, a very successful outing. I got to return to my natural habitat re-explore downtown, re-inforce my streetcar knowledge, and prep for winter (blech!), all in one shot.

Final stop: came home and scrubbed my hands with hot soap and water – the streetcar will do that to you!

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Also! I added an “ABOUT” page, finally! Check it out for a brief story!

Thanksgiving, OUR Way

My family loves thanksgiving. I bet you’re picturing it right now: all of us gathered ’round the table in argyle and lace, turkey steaming on a platter, everyone holding hands and solemnly proclaiming what they’re thankful for…whoa! Cut that tape! That is NOT our family at thanksgiving!

you’ve gotta fight…for your right…to…salsa (and chips!)

Us? We can’t WAIT for take-out pizza, christmas wish-list sharing, and casual seating a la Musical Chairs. Seriously.

Unconventional, maybe, but we take our traditional time of celebration very seriously. There is a protocol we follow.

This year, Thanksgiving weekend itself did not work for a family party. Instead, this past weekend saw all sixteen of us gather at mom and dad’s condo. I already introduced you to the family  back at easter. The only person you haven’t met is Cousin Joel’s GF, Andrea. So please meet Andrea!

sharon and andrea

Our traditional Thanksgiving format follows three distinct acts: meeting and greeting…and maybe a little munching and sipping; The Christmas List Exchange; pizza pie and pumpkin pie devouring. And we love it this way. (No one really misses turkey dindin since that’s what Christmas Day dinner is for!)

Act I: Arrivals

Since we all get together only at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, everyone enjoys a bit of social time upon arrival:

setting up a zoo is a great ice breaker!

the intermingling of ages and generations is so heartwarming!

gather ye at the salsa bowl and iced tea pitcher!

the zoo animals are set, it's time to move on to...

Act II: Exchanging of the Lists

Here’s how this tradition works: each person composes a list of items they would love to receive for Christmas. We go in order from youngest to oldest person. You distribute your pre-written list to all family members, then orally go through said list to add details or answer questions (ie size, colour, expensive/cheap). So while you won’t get everything that you put down on your list, you are sure that what you DO receive is something you will like and use. Works for us!

This is serious business, folks:

pens at the ready

listening carefully...

fo-cus!!!

kate's turn!

their lists may be short, but the "add-on" family members are good sports, too!

even little e helps make her own list! let's review...

ACT III: Bring Out the Pies!!

It’s soooo much easier for everyone when we have Gourmet Pizza cater our gathering! This year, we enjoyed four unique pizzas and two types of wings for our main, then either pumpkin pie or apple crisp (or both, should you prefer!) for our dessert.

dessert: baked on the premises by MOM!

We spread out from the dining room, through the kitchen and spill on into the living room.

the girls

some guys

the young, and...

...you're never TOO young for a pizza crust!

mulit-generations...

multi-conversations!

I can’t WAIT to start Christmas shopping!

And guess what: only 70 days between Family Thanksgiving and Family Christmas!!! So I’ll be starting sooner rather than later!

 

 

The Social Couples

I’ve shared before how BFF Debbie and I were initially friends in Grade 8. Then we drifted apart when we went to different high schools, but reunited when we started work within days of each other at the same company. That was about 12 years ago.

Can you believe that in all that time, we’ve never invited the husbands to join us on a social outing? Sad, but true.

Tonight we rectified that situation by double-dating (how ’60’s is that term!) to go see “The Social Network.” My review, for the 1970 Kiki Project is posted here.

Happily, the husbands seemed to hit it off (granted, a movie outing does not allow for a whole lot of visiting time) and we’re all keen to go out again!

dave, debbie, me & b - with the movie poster as backdrop!

Now must scoot…and go update my Facebook page! :)

friends AND family

’twas a most marvelous thanksgiving monday!

the morning was composed of blogging, baking and blogging about baking, in that exact order.

mid-afternoon, we headed out for a fall walk. this could be one of the last weekends of spectacular leaves…

see, they're starting to fall already...

…so the goal was to leaf-watch (too bad not a Toronto Maple Leaf watch, haha!) and chitchat. b and i enjoy very much our walk n talks.

this time i took the self-portrait (remember the skills acquired in florida!)

we had just started out, and we see a woman coming towards us with a large blue umbrella…imagine our surprise when it turned out to be my aunt sharon! what a coincidence! cousin alex was playing in a soccer match nearby, so she was out for her walk!

i love unexpected meet-ups with family!

b and i circled the park, then went through the park in a loop-de-loop fashion.

outskirts of the park...

must share a few more awesome fall colour shots:

ooooooh.....

aaaaaaahhh!

crimson, scarlet, deep reds...my favourite shades

around supper time, we made the long commute to our thanksgiving gathering:

jeff lives right below us! gotta love when you can travel in your socks!

jeff pulled out all the stops: a FULL turkey dinner with all the fixings. we gathered with friends from our building to enjoy each other’s company and jeff’s feast:

our host, jeff, with his girl-friend, katie

chef jeff, in action

party people, unite!

jeff's daughter jillian (attending u of w - good choice!), and fiance duncan (who adds international flair, seeing as he hails from australia!)...

our 4th floor neighbour, lou, who is running the nyc marathon on nov 7th; go, lou, go!

1st floor neighbour, sue (who teaches high school phys ec; i love talking sports/school/fitness with her! and b!

1st floor neighbour karen (one of my favourite workout room buddies!) and jillian; btw, no one was really watching football, i think, except maybe duncan!

jeff (that turkey carving is time-consuming!); me; jillian...

let the feasting begin!

buffet + casual seating = perfect party/visiting atmosphere!

the food may be over, but the conversation still flows!

duncan; me; b...

katie, duncan...

aron and raquelle, 2nd floor neighbours, arrived just as dessert appeared – perfect timing!

easy-going aron!...

b; lou; raquelle (great to chat with, always); sue

all in all, it was a fantastic thanksgiving. i really enjoyed just being around home, and having the opportunity to just chill out in the condo casa, walk with b, meet up with sharon, visit and share a traditional thanksgiving celebration with friends.

my family gathers this weekend! i’ll report back on the festivities! hint: our thanksgiving get-together is not traditional, nor does it involve turkey!

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