Monthly Archives: February 2011

New Experience #5: Watch the Entire Oscar Awards Ceremony

As far back as I can remember, I have watched the Oscars. In previous years, I usually caught most of the Red Carpet arrivals, and maybe a bit of the opening blah blah. In a really good year, I’d watch the handing out of the first couple of awards. Then I’d go to bed and read about the results in the morning…and catch Entertainment Tonight the Monday eve for the gossip on fashion and post-awards parties.

I thought it would make for a funny New Experience to set myself the challenge of watching the entire awards broadcast for this year. As you know, I am an early-to-rise kinda gal, so to stay up til at least 11:30 p.m. would be outside my comfort zone of awake time. But the idea of watching til the bitter end was too much to resist; count me in!

Let’s start with the good news – I did stay up til the very final award was handed out, Anne and James said their brief good night, and those kids started singing. Now let’s go back in time…

proof of the tv going on - ready for etalk's red carpet broadcast!

Here were my Kiki-as-Judge rules for the evening: 1) I could multi-task during the hours of viewing time I’d be putting in [Sidenote: The Princess Twin had free Awards viewing on their big screen; I was interested, and it would have been fun to watch there, but I needed time at home to complete other tasks – maybe another year I’ll pop over!] 2) I could not miss seeing the giving out of any awards.

6:30 p.m. I make my cake for Thursday eve’s cake class.

my same basic yellow cake from the wilton website that i successfully used in classes #2 & 3

Ben keeps me company:

ben mulroney: canada's red carpet go-to guy (sorry, ben, but you're way cheesy!)

Let’s be honest: Canada cannot hold a candle to the US networks when it comes to interviewing guests on the Red Carpet.

7:00 p.m. – I switch stations to ABC:

tim gunn joins me in the living room! US networks = better access to the starz...

Let me go on the record as saying I miss the days of Joan and Melissa Rivers on the Red Carpet. Yes, they were tacky, slightly rude, and asked questionable questions…but they sure were fun.

Meanwhile, my cake making was coming along nicely (I am a very slow baker):

just beat it (dunh, dunh) just beat it...a little michael jackson here :)

7:15 p.m. I grab a small window of opportunity (cakes in the oven, no A-level stars arriving) to hop into the shower:

yes, empty shower scene - we'll keep this PG rated

7:25 p.m. It’s back to multi-tasking: I knit, read some blogs, drank a Stevia pop, waited for my cakes to reach perfection bake, and watched TV:

anything else we can do simultaneously?!

8:30 p.m. I head over to the couch and plop down next to . Still knitting.

helllooo, b!

9:00 p.m. Dinner time (I had a late snack at 5 p.m., and like to eat later in the eve, anyway!)

micro'd *fries*; salad beast with sardines and everything but the kitchen sink!

…and peanut butter from the jar with a spoon for dessert!

9:30 p.m.-ish and onwards: just watched the awards. Weird! I never sit on the couch and just watch TV!

9:45 p.m. Very much enjoying this couch time, still into the awards!

9:50 p.m. B heads up to bed so I’m on my own!

10:00 p.m. I am getting tired.

self-portraiture at the next level: NOT looking at the camera!

I was tired from then on out. I closed my eyes during commercials. But I did not fall asleep – that would have put this New Experience into jeopardy!

a glamour girl i am not as the night gets longer...

cut the filler blab, already!

i've made it this far, i'm not giving up now!

11:39 p.m. It’s over! The final award has been handed out (yea for King’s Speech!) and I am free to say good night.

it's a wrap!

this photo is as blurry as my eyes were by this time - but my watch DOES say 11:38 p.m. proof, again, of mission accomplished!

11:45 p.m. Tucked in to bed, and asleep in about 17 seconds. Enjoyed a deep and solid sleep and was awake at 5 a.m. today! Bet I’ll be ready for bed tonight, though!

*#*#*#*#*

No cookie giveaway!!

I made five Oscar predictions here. I got 1/5 right (Christian Bale – lucky guess!) So my system worked!…See, if I had chosen the movies/actors I really wanted to win to win, they would have lost…so this way Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, The King’s Speech all won since I didn’t pick them!

*#*#*#*#*

A few personal observations about the Awards Show:

~ Bring back Billy Crystal!! Nothing personal, Anne Hathaway and James Franco, but you were rather lame as hosts. Not really funny and rather immature. Billy made a brief guest appearance. Botox’d looks aside, HE is an Oscar host!

~Best line of the night: James Franco’s grandmother’s cry of “Marky-Mark” during the opening monologue

~The waif look is out/bygones.

~The whole Kurt Douglas appearance was embarrassing, sad,n painfuk to watch, and went on too long

~Acceptance speeches are boring; the only two exceptions: Big Hair Guy who accepted for Best Live Action Short Film, and Randy Newman for his songwriting award.

My fashion assessment:

Thumbs up:

Marisa Tomei

Scarlett Johansson (but not her hair)

Helen Mirren (always a winner)

Reese Witherspoon (my award for best hair and make-up; dress was a bit boring)

Natalie Portman

Best of the Night Award: Gwyneth Paltrow – loved her tan, her hair, her makeup, her earrings, her Calvin Klein gown

(source)

Thumbs Down:

Cate Blanchett (but she had great hair)

Robert Downey Jr’s wife, Susan

Nicole Kidman

Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Hudson – just because their dresses were boring! And red – I dislike red, in general, in life.

FINAL COMMENTS:

I did it, it is done, it is likely a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Kinda like an Oscar.

Did you watch? What are your impressions?!

Stag n Doe for J n D!

Last evening we braved the snowy roads to attend the Stag and Doe party for Jillian and Duncan. You’ve met them before!

Jillian is the daughter of our good friend, Jeff. Jeff lives in the condo right under us.

Duncan and Jillian will be married in May. We’re invited to the wedding! (I better start dress shopping!)

Last night was a lot of fun. Here are the photos I took to capture the party…

here's the happy couple! jillian and duncan sported the cutest tshirts!

here's the happy couple! jillian and duncan sported the cutest tshirts! i esp liked the photo of jillian on duncan's t!

daddy jeff greeted us at the door! we had pre-purchased our tix!

katie, looking wonderfully spring-y and happy for this festive occasion!

There were a number of fund-raising games in which we could participate:

raffle tix!! we went with 30 - better odds of winning!

tix in hand!! show me the prizes!!!!

We perused the gifts available to win! It was super fun the way the raffle was organized: you placed your ticket in the little gift bag in front of the prize you’d like to win:

b liked this gift basket! not sure why, he's not a big drinker!

b's second choice was the vincenzo's goodie basket!

i dumped my 50% of the tickets into these two girlie choices!

a celeb hairstylist encounter??! ooo, that would be a New Experience to experience!

i love guessing games! too bad i really have no sense of numbers!

Our friend and neighbour Lou showed up! (Also someone you’ve met – see the J n D link, above!)

I think Lou confused me with the bride-to-be!

wheeee! that's our loulou! the weightlifting workout of the day!

the poker buddies!

A couple other laugh-inducing sights:

check out the funny shot glass! someone actually landed their loonie in it!

:)”]Look at how popular that booze basket is!!!…a bigger ticket receptacle was needed…

how much is this basket worth?? i don't know my liquor prices!...

Jillian has a lovely set of girlfriends who are in her wedding party. Thanks to Jeff’s annual Super Bowl and Thanksgiving parties, we know Jillian’s friends already – they put a lot of effort into the Stag n Doe, and I commend them on their creativity and enthusiasm.

jillian, jenny, shannon, nikki...and their jillian-themed tshirts!

So glad we could attend this party. It may have been cold outside, but there were a lot of warm hearts gathered to support Duncan and Jillian! We wish them the very best!

*#*#*#*#*

It’s Oscar time!…Fifteen minutes to the Red Carpet!

Cake Class #3: Decorating Tips

Thursday night was cake class!

week #1 i wore "chef's whites;" this week i went with "representing team (iron chef?!) canada!"

This week we got down to the nitty-gritty of cake decorating. There was no time to spare!

Shay kept our noses to the grindstone  – kidding! Shaw is much too nice and fun for that seriousness (hi Shay – am I sucking up too much!?!) Seriously, though, I am glad that Shay is experienced in teaching this course. Week #3 is jam-packed with decorating lessons.

[Sidenote: I’ve taken to calling our course the Survivor Cake Class: week one we started out with 12 participants, week two we saw 11 class members, and this week there were only nine of us!].

I liked the organization of this week’s class: Shay demonstrated the decorating idea…

first up: the drop flower!

…we tried out our technique using our Practice Board…

the drop flower was not too taxing!

…then we’d move on. Like I said, our evening’s curriculum covered a lot of “tips” (note the dual-meaning!…tips as in handy knowledge AND the physical decorating tool on the end of our icing bags!).

The rosette followed the drop flower:

the trick to the rosette is all in the squeeze pressure and the hand rotation!

Next, the technique that proved to be my nemesis: THE SHELL:

Shay stressed that we wanted SHELLS not SNAILS. Let’s just say that I foresee a lot of aquatic-themed cakes in my future. I make excellent snails. Ho-hum!

shay makes it look so easy - wah!!!

my family of snails - i mean shells! this is called a shell border!!!

The trick, I figured out, is all in the release of pressure – I had more success if I added a wrist swoop…not sure if that is officially allowed (Shhh!).

Here’s today’s Tip of Brilliant Wisdom that Shay imparted at some point during the evening: “Every cake has a front and a back. Start [decorating] at the back.” Haha, I can just picture myself waving my hands over my cake, asking it: “….and where do YOU feel your front is, mr cake??? ommmmm…”

Anyway, where were we…yes! Making Barbie bouquets! That’s what our next trick reminded me of anyway!….

we got to use a little pedestal/golf tee thing-y on which to make our FLOWER

We sped along to the pompom flower: multi-steps and multi-tips are needed!…

hard at work!

Can I just give a shout out to my table-mate, Linda? I am so glad we ended up together…I love her relaxed approach and the wealth of cakey knowledge she has:

maybe the trick to being a natural is being a grandmum and mother...years of experience!

If you have flowers, you’re gonna need LEAVES!!! My leaves kept coming out perpendicular to the work surface. Shay to the rescue – just turn Tip #352 to the SIDE and your leaf will lie flat! I foresee a lot of FORESTED CAKES in my future: I like making leaves, and they are easy!

Our last flower was my favourite of the whole night: the shaggy mum. ALLLL I could think of as I practised was the Muppets! I have this urge to make a shaggy cake…I foresee MUPPET CAKES (ok, maybe “creature cakes”) in my future!

my first efforts at the shaggy look!

All I could think of after seeing my shaggy cupcake was that it looked like when you over-condition your hair or use hard water and it goes limp and flat. My shaggy cupcake needs a salon treatment!

I was glad I did not attempt to fill my cupcakes (this lesson was optional) – as it was, I only had about 15 minutes with which to ice my six cupcakes. Class #3 could use another half hour!

i LOVE making the drop flower!!! a spring look to cupcake #1!

shay helped me transfer my platformed flower onto my cuppie-cake with this neat-o lifter thing!

...and i humbly present to you...

that's a better angle!

...and my box of cupcakes that i brought home!

Whew! That was a lot of work, this class! But now I feel a lot more confident with the tips that are in my possession. Look at all the tools we used!…

i washed everything up asap - dried and hardened icing would be no fun to clean up!

Our homework for next week is to bring in a cake, and have a design plan for it. I will make my cake tomorrow eve during the Oscars, and then brainstorm how to make shaggy + drop flowers be friends how to decorate it! So sad it’s our final class next Thursday!

*#*#*#*#*

Quick quick…last eve  my friend Michelle, B and I went to see “The King’s Speech.” We all agreed that it was fantastic. Go see this movie! I hope it cleans up at the Oscars tomorrow. For a future blog post, I would like to examine the relationship between Colin First and his speech therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush. Suffice to say, for now, that the film is simply wonderful. And while Colin Firth does an amazing job, my favourite actor was Geoffrey Rush. Luckily, they are nominated in two different categories tomorrow eve!

*#*#*#*#*

Lastly, I’m going to gaze into my crystal ball and make five predictions on winners for tomorrow night’s Academy Awards. And I hearby solemnly swear that if I get all five correct, I will hold a cookie giveaway. I can’t mail a cake. :)

Best Picture: Inception will win

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges will win for True Grit

Best Actress: Michelle Williams will win for Blue Valentine

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale will win for The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter will win for The King’s Speech

* who I predict is not necessarily who I want to win!

*#*#*#*#*

We’re off to Jillian and Duncan‘s Stag & Doe tonight! To Drink or Not To Drink, That is the Important Question… :)

New + New

Guess what, guess what!?!? I HAVE FOUND IT!!!

welcome to your new home, muggie-mug!

On Monday, B and I took our laptops over to Coffee Culture to hang out for a bit. I was walking nonchalantly back to the washroom, when I glanced at a small shelving display of coffee products…and there was this mug! I TOLD you I would find *my mug* when I least expected it!

Now, the funny thing is I am not a fan of yellow. Orange, yes – fave colour. But for some reason, I had to have this mug in the yellow version (they had yellow, orange, green, brown)! (Maybe because Meg plate is orange already…I want diversity of colour in my eclectic dishes collection).

Wednesday morning I stopped in and picked up my fabulous find. And guess what – here’s how much I paid…you won’t believe it!

you read that correctly: $2.10 including the tax

I couldn’t find a USED mug at Value Village for that price!

I love the shape of this mug, the colour, and the fact that it says “Coffee Culture” on it because I don’t drink Coffee Culture coffee.

So now I laugh because here is the at-home coffee scene:

no shame with mixing my corporate brands!

I’m still keeping the mugs I *borrowed* from The Brother and SIL Ana. They are never going to see those again. The collection is growing!!

*#*#*#*#*

Guess what else I got this week?

same brand (timex) that i had, but updated colour option!

I had my new watch transferred in to my store from another of our store locations.

F-I-N-A-L-L-Y it arrived this week. Good thing, too: as I was taking off my old watch (I never take my watch off), the split in the band expanded to within a hair’s width of snapping completely. I just chucked it in to the garbage. I love the silver/cream colour combination of the new watch, and the understated floral theme. Here’s a better shot, from the catalogue:

Ironman Sleek 50-Lap Flora(source)

*#*#*#*#*

Cake Class #3/4 was last eve! Recap coming tomorrow!

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak!…

pompom flower!!!

shaggy mum!! (this was my fave! i wanna do a whole shaggy CAKE!!)

…And that’s not all!!

Have a great Friday – last one of February!! (snow storm coming, apparently, just so we can further *celebrate* this fact…)

Giving the Aunti Seal of Approval

I go down to visit Little E and Baby C once a week. I anticipate these weekly visits with much joy! I love playing with Little E and Baby C! We always play with whatever toys or games they feel like – Aunti just goes with the flow (and makes sure no one falls head-first off the rocking horse or dumps puzzle pieces in the toilet).

After 4+ years of weekly play dates, I feel informed enough to share my opinion on the best and worst of children’s toys. [Sidenote: to provide context for my list…The Brother, SIL Ana, and I all share similar philosophies of “what maketh a ‘good’ children’s toy; to some extent, my preferences and dislikes are founded on the toys that I have played with at their home. I also am basing my choices on toys and ways of playing that I grew up with].

So, let’s get on with the awards and the raspberries!!

THREE BRANDS THAT RECEIVE A FIST-PUMPIN’, TWO THUMBS UP, RAH-RAH GOLD AUNTI-STAR:

1. Melissa and Doug – Where was this company when I was little?! (Insert Snookie WAHHH here!). I have yet to meet a M&D product that I didn’t love. Everything I have come across promotes creative play, contains no toxic substances, and is unique in design…and just super cute.

(source)

2. Crayola – This brand of arts ‘n’ crafts products rocks: non-toxic and washable markers are the way to go with small kids and toddlers! There sure are a lot more products than when I was little – but I do have fond memories of they joy a brand new box of 64 crayons brought me!

(source)

3. Fisher-Price – Talk about durability: Little E and Baby C are playing with the farm, the airport, the school bus, and the schoolhouse that The Brother and I enjoyed back in the ’70’s! We spent thousands of hours creating scenarios with our F-P toys! I loved our collection of F-P people the best: they would inhabit lego houses, jump in Barbie’s swimming pool, hide out in empty cereal box apartments…simple toys provide multiple play opportunities.

(source)

(source)

TYPES OF TOYS THAT AUNTI CANNOT, IN GOOD CONSCIENCE, ENDORSE:

[I don’t feel comfortable outright slamming any specific brand, so I’ll go with generic types of toys, here].

1. Battery-operated toys – Parents who feel driven crazy by beeping, flashing, careening toys, please raise your hands!! Thought so! Besides being aurally annoying, toys that need batteries have short life spans. Parents who have burnt-out toys that need new double-A’s, please raise your hands!! Thought so!

2. Toys popularized by movies, TV shows, Disney money-grabbing movie producers – This category of toy is all about moderation. Personally, I would not want my child to start school and not know who Dora is, or be ignorant of the Sesame Street gang. Conversely, I don’t think it healthy to have a panapoly of bedroom decor, backpack, toys, books, clothing that is solely comprised of Disney princesses. A few carefully-chosen books/toys/games featuring mass-market characters is a healthy balance.

3. Single-purpose (as opposed to multi-opportunity) toys - Any toy that only does one thing will quickly bore a child. And will clutter up the toy cupboard.

To celebrate birthdays and Christmas, I enjoy a three-pronged approach to gift giving: a toy; a book; an item of clothing (often hand-knit, yes!). Please note that these don’t have to be expensive purchases. I like giving the gift triumvirate because 1) children always get most excited about opening a toy 2) I firmly believe a personal library of books is essential to developing reading skills and stimulating imagination 3) I like to choose and give clothes – yup, this category is purely selfish…and nothing wrong with that! The kids gotta be clothed, right!?!

If you need some guidance for choosing toys, the Canadian Toy Testing Council may be a helpful resource [athough I just clicked on the website and see the Energizer Bunny front and centre…so much for my diss of battery-operated toys!].

I’d love to hear your thoughts, parents, fellow aunties, grandparents, friends. Can you suggest some of your favourites and also brands/types of toys you refuse to purchase?

The Kiki Alphabet Game

Recently, Gabriela of the blog Une Vie Saine posted her answers to this alphabetical survey. I loved the 26 questions, and thought it would be fun to provide my own answers. So here goes nothing!

A: Age – 41

B: Bed Size – queen (next one will be king)

C: Chore you hate – dusting

D: Dogs – not a fan. they scare me. i have no objections to other people having dogs, just please keep them leashed, please clean up after them and please do not let them jump on me. if i HAD to have a dog, its name would be Tiki (after ex-NFL guy Tiki Barber) and it would look like this:

(source)

E: Essential start to your day – knitting, drinking coffee, reading blogs…all together now

F: Favourite colour – orange!

G: Gold or silver – silver!

H: Height – 5’5.5″ (unchanged since about age 12)

I: Instruments you play – none currently; instruments play-ED would be piano and violin; have not touched either since the end of high school

J: Job Title – retail sales associate at the Running Room

K: Kids – none

L: Live – Uptown Waterloo, in a condo casa

M: Mom’s name – Marnie (short for Margaret)

one of my very best friends!

N: Nicknames – Kiki; Biffy (given by The Brother in early teen years); “CK” (initials)

O: Overnight hospital stays – none, ever, thank goodness/knock on wood. hospitals give me the willies

P: Pet peeve – slow drivers; rudeness

Q: Quote from a movie – “I’ve got a package for ya.” (from Legally Blonde)

R: Right or left-handed – right

S: Siblings – The Brother; three years my junior

T: Time you wake up – 5 a.m. on the dot, no alarm clock

U: Underwear – yes

V: Vegetables you dislike – six months ago I would have said sweet potatoes; now i likey, thanks to The Brother’s prep method! dislike any overboiled and mushy veg

W: What makes you run late – i just don’t; only an unforeseen circumstance would hold me up. ex: traffic jam

X: X-rays you’ve had – teeth, haha! and for various running ailments over the years

Y: Yummy food you make – ummm, “Aunti doesn’t cook,” as i’ve always told Little E!…but i can bake good cookies and muffins

(from the 1970 Kiki Project “40 Recipes,” 2010 version)

Z: Zoo – favourite animal – not really an animal person…i would have to pick the african safari animals in terms of general interest

(source)

That was fun!

I’d love to hear a couple random picks from you!

February Outing of the Month with Dad!

What better way to celebrate Family Day yesterday, than by going out with Dad for our February Outing-of-the-Month.

(Click here for more details about the Coupon-of-the-Month Christmas gifts I gave to Mom, Dad, and The Brother/SIL Ana).

(Click here to read about the February Coupon Redemptions with Mom and The Brother/SIL Ana).

In January, Dad and I went out for breakfast.

We have decided to progress chronologically through the day with each successive monthly outing. So, for February, we went for coffee! I love coffee!

Mom is not a Starbucks fan (she finds their coffee bitter). Dad IS a Starbucks fan. I am a Starbucks fan. Dad and I went to Starbucks!

at our friendly, neighbourhood location!

Since mom and dad live in the building next door, I met Dad in his lobby!

good morning, dad!

A short jaunt across this parking lot, and we were at The Buck. We love living in Uptown Waterloo!

a chilly morning! but the sidewalks and parking lots were plowed already - nice!

I perused the menu. Despite the fact that I can call myself a coffee-drinker now, this was the first time I have ever ordered a coffee at Starbucks! What a lot of choices!

it's all greek to me!

Dad got some frothy thing…I bet you the name ends in -CINO. I also got a blueberry oat bar. Close call between that square and a pumpkin scone…but oatmeal is a good mid-morning snack.

a grande!

The place was pretty busy: lots of young families warming up after skating next door at the rink, singles working on laptops, girlfriends gossiping – the usual coffee shop assortment. No other father-daughter combo, as far as I could tell.

We scored a wall-side table – good timing!

warmer against the wall, not right next to a window!

Dad and I settled in, started chatting, and before I knew it, an hour had evaporated! We discussed every topic under the sun, from the soon-to-be-released Blackberry Playbook (me wants one!) to marathon running to neighbourhood gossip. Dad is a great conversationalist. I love conversation!

cheers!

Thanks for the totally awesome visit, Dad! Catch ya in March for lunch-time! [Dad and I have decided that both March and April will be lunch outings; we’ll each pick the place for one of the months. The other person is barred from opining on the location, and must just go along with the choice!]

can't end our outing without a self-portrait to capture the occasion!

 Are you a Starbucks fan?

New Experience #4: Watch a Movie from the Back Row

In life, I’m not a back row kind of person. Quite the opposite – a few examples to share: in university, I sat in the front row of the lecture hall so that I wouldn’t be distracted while taking notes. When I run with a group, I like to be at the front of the pack. I hate standing in line, and I dislike being slowed/feeling boxed in by traffic in front of me on the road. Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I seem to like a clear path ahead of me.

For New Experience #4 of the 1970 Kiki Project, I decided to go see the movie Kings of Pastry last night, which was playing at the Princess Cinema this past weekend. B willingly agreed to come along – so nice! This movie interested me because of my new-found interest in cake decorating, and because of my love of documentaries and of the show Top Chef.

What a movie to use for this challenge! The movie follows three participants in their quest to win a coveted French award in a three day pastry competition, in France. There are subtitles because part of the movie is in French. OK! Reading subtitles from the back row! See, I couldn’t make the challenge “watch a movie from the front row,” because I’ve done that already: wayyyy back when “Dances With Wolves” first came out and was in theatres, I saw THAT movie from the front row (actually, I saw it at The Princess! I just remembered that!). DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG THAT MOVIE IS???!!! Yea – I clearly remember having a very stiff neck at the end.

Anyway.

i do not dress up for movies: it's all about being comfortable and schlumping up in the seat! plus, it was C-O-L-D out last eve!

The Princess is in our neighbourhood – just a seven minute walk away. A little excitement in the ‘hood:

never did see exactly what was going on...

To my complete surprise, this was the scene in the lobby when we arrived:

a line-up and packed lobby for a french movie with subtitles about a pastry competition?!

I heard a lot of spoken french around us! [Sidenote: my university undergrad degree is in French studies; while I haven’t spoken the language in more than ten years, I was suprised by how much I easily understood in the movie].

The Princess is so cute; we waited in line to purchase our tickets:

slowly, slowly inching forward...

Ticket-selling buddy was also the popcorn-scooping guy.

Movie posters:

WOULD go see a paddling film...

WOULD NOT go see a jim carrey movie, simply because it's jim carrey

Due to all the people in line ahead of us, I was worried that the back row would be all taken!

back row, back row, please don't be full!

Needn’t have worried: 

i guess back row at the princess is not such a choice location!

helloooooo! i'm in the back row!!!

the view of the screen...from the back row

i had to move over one seat because of this guy's head - completely blocked where the subtitles would be *thanks,* dude.

then his parents' sat down. i could see if they sat like this. however, "she" kept leaning over DURING THE MOVIE to talk to "him" - please don't talk during movies, people. annoying. esp when subtitles are involved.

The FUN thing about being in the back row (note: no one else sat down in the back row at all for the entire movie) is that no one can see your shenanigans. Now I know why the back row is so fun for the high school kids.

self-portait!...from the back row

The movie itself was delightful. It was a lot like watching Top Chef, given the pastry challenges the chefs had to complete. Documentaries are my favourite movie type – there, I’ve officially decided. Hearing the French language – from France, NOT the brutalized *French* from the Canadian province of Quebec – was music to my ears. Such a beautiful language. You should have seen some of the catastrophic smash-ups of dropped masterpieces! The audience literally gasped in horror. And I was surprised by the candidate who ended up winning the competition! It was not the guy I predicted. All in all, a cute film and a good time.

We exited The Princess to this scene:

snow was in the forecast, but I had no idea 4-6 inches would fall in 90 minutes!

It was a snowy walk home!

*#*#*#*#*

Today is a holiday in Ontario – it’s Family Day. This is a completely made-up holiday, created instituted by the provincial government a few years ago (2008, to be exact). So silly! But who am I to turn up my nose at a day off…still, I can’t help but think, is it any different than implementing a National Maple Syrup Day?!!! or a Celebrate the Moose Festival-Day?!!! Mama mia.

Oh – I do not wish to watch another movie from the back row. Thank you.

A Leaner, Meaner Boston

Last week, on Wednesday February 16th, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) revealed their new qualifying standards for the 2012 and 2013 races. Runners had been anticipating this news ever since September 2010, when the 2011 marathon online registration sold out in about 8 hours. Clearly, the registration and qualifying procedures needed a revamp.

The most efficient way to relay the updates is to give you the link so that you can read the BAA press release for yourself. So, to get the information “straight from the horse’s mouth,” click here.

If you’re feeling lazy, or frankly don’t give a toot, here’s what I took away from reading (and re-reading! *geek!*) the statement:

~ the BAA is introducing a rolling/tiered admission procedure starting with the 2012 Boston Marathon. The faster your qualifying time, the earlier you can register

~ the BAA has tightened qualifying times by five minutes for every age group, beginning with the 2013 race.

~ to reward longevity, the BAA lets those who meet the qualifying standard AND have run at least 10 consecutive Bostons to register at any time (ie on the first day of registration).

As you can imagine, the reaction in the running community has been mixed. I laugh a little, because I truly believe it is just human nature to resist change. So any new initiatives, regardless of what they are, are going to be met with skepticism by some/most people.

If you’re interested in reading feedback, here are a few links to check out:

~from the Runner’s World Forum:

http://www.runnersworld.com/community/forums/races-places/boston-marathon/heres-baas-new-system

(grab a coffee – as I am posting this link, there are 309 posts in this thread!!)

~from the Running Room Forum:

http://www.runningroom.com/discussion/viewtopic.php?t=43525&sid=e8904d9131df4d1fe6742375f08bc505

(in typical mild-mannered Canadian fashion, there are only 23 replies to this thread!)

~an article from the Marathon Guide website:

http://www.boston.com/sports/marathon/articles/2011/02/17/marathon_qualifying_is_revised/

Now for my own thoughts…

I am 100% in favour of these new initiatives, and commend the BAA for decisively and boldly updating both the qualifying and registration procedures.

I, like a few of the commenters at the Runner’s World link (above) agree that runners should use these stricter standards as positive motivators in training and racing. Just run faster! Train harder! Dream bigger! Race smartly!

Boston is the only marathon in the world for which a runner must qualify (excluding charity runners). It truly is an “elite” racing experience for the masses. With demand being at an all-time high, it IS time to tighten standards and redefine what is an “elite finishing time” for the non-professional runner. 

Some people argue that women have it easier then the men in terms of their qualifying times. Maybe, maybe not. But in the interests of being fair, the BAA had to take away five minutes from everyone. Simple and just.

While Boston is an absolutely fabulous race experience (Sidenote: I ran Boston in ’97, ’98 and ’99; my PB was set on this course in 19998: my net time was 3:00:45) with a thoroughly enjoyable and unique course, it is not the only memorable or unique or fun marathon out there. Paris, Disney, New York, the Great Wall of China…there are exotic marathons, unforgettable routes, once-in-a-lifetime/Bucket List choices out there for everyone…you name it, you want it, you can find it in terms of a race experience.

By issuing the new standards in February, six months ahead of registration for 2012, the BAA gives runners the opportunity to wrap their heads around the new process. People like time to adjust, think about, whine about, debate new initiatives. I can’t wait to see how these changes improve both the registration and race experiences.

By the way…only 56 days to Boston 2011!

my race bib from 1997!

scrapbook of all things related to the 1998 race trip!

posing on the finishing line (not the day of - haha!) of the 1999 race!

Cake Class Deux

Thursday night saw my return to Michaels:

welcome back!, says shay

 Creature of habit, I took the same spot at the same table as last week. Just me and my cake with the thumb hole in it.

did i scare my tablemates off last week?!

Our first lesson of the day was icing the cake:

workbook instructions at the ready - i want to try the wilton ideas!

I felt like a sculptor at work on a creation!! (hey, a girl can dream):

a little dab here, a little swoop there...

Our Cake Guru Shay pronounced her wisest words of the day:

Once you’ve got the cake iced, STEP AWAY.

You don’t want to overwork the cake.”

i took my photo, and ... walked. away. :)

Next lesson: adding colour to our icing:

watch and learn, kids

Then we practised with our decorating tips. Today was all about curving lines and tight zigzags:

these lesson pages remind me of the exercise books we used in primary school when learning to write!

All you moms, listen up: as a mother of four, Shay has refined her “how to bake and keep your sanity” ideas. Here’s a really good one – tell your children (once a certain age, of course) that if they leave mummy alone to bake in peace, they will get this reward for their good behaviour!…

a happy face to lick!

Linda DID show up a little late, and I am so lucky to have her as my tablemate. She answers all my questions so patiently (when Shay is at the opposite end of the room), and kindly and generously shares her supplies with me.

linda, you don't need to practise!

Let me be honest: cake decorating is not coming naturally to me. I forgot how to screw on the coupler, I cut my decorating bag too short, and I tried to put my decorating tip IN the bag…argh. BUT! I am having fun, and that’s what counts.

By this time, our icing had hardened enough for us to grab our parchment paper and smooth the icing:

i loved this step!

i named my technique "soothing the baby" - i pretended i was rubbing little e or baby c's back! it worked like a charm -- beautifully smooth icing!

 And now, the grande finale lesson: Coloured Cupcake on White Cake:

piping gel for the cupcake design!

my cake!

....cupcake in the book...

...now back to my cake. ok go back to the workbook picture!

Two of my classmates produced really good designs!

laura made a double layer cake with filling! and look at that edging!

i love jen's BRIGHT BLUE!!

Once home, I showed off my cake:

me and my cupcake!

I sent the cake along to B’s Friday morning class. 8 a.m. cake time? dandy when you’re of college age!

Another fun night – our classes are half over! Boo Hoo!

Next week we will work on cupcakes for our practice pieces!!

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