Tag Archives: toronto

12.05.12:12.#2.#2!

it felt so strange to have saturday off from the store! i don’t remember the last time that happened.

a few weeks ago, we arranged that may 12th would be extended babysitting opportunity #2 for the 12 days of kiki project. [hence today's title: saturday's date in numbers, then the twelve for the 12 days of kiki, project #2, date #2]. i was able to swap my usual saturday hours for my colleague’s wednesday eve shift (had to skip aunti wednesday), and presto! saturday in TO was on!

i started my day with a drive to food basics for essentials: coffee! carbonated water! sardines, $0.88 per tin, on sale!

then, i popped over to mom and dad’s for an early mother’s day moment with mom:

nothing wrong with a mother’s day WEEKEND of celebrations!

we anticipated that sunday would be busy with g’ma’s bday celebration, so saturday worked out well for some mother-daughter visiting.

i had time to go see the blanket!

its temporary “haus”

why, hello again!

see you again at the end of the month!

early aft, it was time to head down the 401 for the day’s main event – babysitting little e and cutie c!!!

it’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood – and no traffic issues. bonus!

i had to parallel park behind this sporty bmw – nothing like a little added pressure to an already challenging task!

we played downstairs for a while:

the happy camper??!

little e proudly showed off her new ballet shoes!

sure we can play with every toy available…

aunti does not know the meaning of the word “no” unless bodily harm is a risk.

the girls were pretty zonked from a busy morning:

ready for some quiet time.

look who was on treehouse channel!

aunti loves the wiggles (honestly!).

and the girls introduced me to a new show:

i actually really liked “bubble guppies:” it was educational, had catchy/boppy tunes, cute graphics, and an actual storyline. *** three stars!

the brother and sil ana planned an easy and appealing treat dinner:

aunti doesn’t cook, as you are well aware…i could handle this prep, and it was a real crowd-pleaser!

i almost forgot to share the big news of the day:

look who has lost a front tooth! ah, a sign of growing up….

…little sister just wanted to smile for the camera, too.

can’t end without a group photo:

at least all three of us are (mostly) within the frame!

bedtime was a breeze. is there anything better than snuggling with storytime?

i feel so lucky when i get to spend time with my little princesses – they fill my ♥ with joy. i’m definitely going to encourage the brother and sil ana to book me for as many extended babysitting days as we can manage, this year!

~*~*~*~*~

parallel parking: rate your skillz on a scale of 1-10. me = 4. it’s completely hit or miss: when my aim is good, it’s very, very good, and when i’m off, it’s positively hideous. the only time i absolutely nailed the parallel park was on my driving exam, way back when – whew!

brunch at the king eddy

as much as i would like to tell you that our family brunch yesterday at the king edward hotel was a new experience, i cannot.

the posh entrance

we celebrated dad’s 65th birthday there, too – five years ago!

then:

november, 2006 - that baby is little e!

and now!

guess what?! we were seated at the EXACT SAME table as five years ago! coincidence? i think not!

i’m so glad dad’s birthday is in the festive season. look at the wondrous sight that welcomes you when you enter the hotel:

i was really looking forward to seeing "the big tree!"

filling in time while dad parked the car...

we started off with some family photos to capture our celebration day on film for digital filing:

70 year old dad (haha!) + mom!

the little family!

aunti + the girls!

then we made our way into the main room. i propose to you that the king eddy brunch is the most amazing buffet in the universe. you may beg to differ, but all i know is it is the best i have ever experienced. here is a sampling of the array of choices that greet you:

cheeses, spreads + breads...

seafood + fish...

fresh fruit...

a hot buffet line...

desserts...

...and more desserts!

all under the watchful eyes of various mr nutcrackers:

beautiful holiday decor, all around the room

ah, we enjoyed such a relaxed time! the conversation flowed, and we took turns going back up for whatever our hearts desired. what i enjoyed the most: beef wellington [i am 99% sure this was a new experience for me to try this meat dish, but i'm not going to count it towards my list as it's rather trivial!]; french toast; chocolate mousse cake; the fresh fruit. the only disappointment: for five years i have drooled every time i remembered the bread pudding at the king eddy. well…there was no bread pudding this year!

the little ones were so well behaved! a perfect stranger even commented!

and just because i am a proud aunti (as if you didn’t know):

isn't little e's flower the best?!

cutie c could not get enough...blue cheese!

it was a completely enjoyable and happy celebration for dad’s birthday weekend. we are all in agreement that “brunch at the king eddy” should indeed become an annual tradition.

happy birthday weekend, g'pa!

does your family have a special celebration spot (or did you, growing up?) the charcoal steak house was our favourite restaurant for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. for many, many years!

~*~*~*~*~

november thankfulness:

(for sunday november 27): yesterday i was thankful for the fact that even though dismal rain fell alllll day in waterloo yesterday, it was not snow! had it snowed, there was no way we could have driven to toronto. and in toronto, it was overcast but not raining, and very very mild!

this cake is not sour at all!

wheeeee!!

we are off to toronto for our family celebration, today!

because i have birthday on the brain this weekend, here is a recipe for birthday cake. now, this is not just any generic betty-crocker style baked dessert – no, this is a super-duper cake that i am unearthing from the depths of the family recipe vault.

mom used to make this cake for our birthday parties, when we were little. what makes this cake unique is that it features a secret ingredient: sauerkraut!

my fourth bday - i bet this was a sauerkraut cake!

i know!! how bizarre – you are right! and the funny thing is that i have never, ever liked sauerkraut…but i have always adored this cake. [tangent: did anybody else think that sauerkraut was actually spelled sour-kraut, when they were little? i totally did! hey - it tastes sour, we have a food called sour cream...made sense to me!].

sauerkraut chocolate cake

ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 c butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c strong coffee (can use instant)
  • 2/3 c sauerkraut (rinsed, drained, chopped)

[ok, the joke is on me. i have never actually made this cake, and just now, typing the recipe, i am incredulous that there is coffee in this cake!! i never knew! and how funny that i am recommending this cake when coffee and i are currently on the outs!].

directions:

combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. cream butter with electric mixer [yes, this recipe comes from the collection mom hand-wrote for me with basic-level instructions - much needed] at medium speed. gradually add sugar and eggs, one at a time. add vanilla. add liquid and dry ingredients alternately, beginning and ending with flour. stir in sauerkraut.

bake in two greased and waxed-paper lined 8-9″ pans [mom always used round] at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

fill and frost with chocolate satin frosting…

my fifth bday - i bet this was a sauerkraut chocolate cake!

chocolate satin frosting

  • 3 1/2 1 oz squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c butter or margarine (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

melt chocolate in large mixing bowl over hot water. remove from heat. with electric mixer, blend in sugar and water. beat in egg, then butter and vanilla. frosting will be thin at this point so place bowl in ice water. beat til of spreading consistency. [ok, to be honest, that sounds like a lot of work. mom, you were a dear woman to go to all this fuss for our birthday cakes - thank you!].

the brother's second bday - i bet this was a sauerkraut cake!

if we were celebrating dad’s 70th at home this weekend, maybe we could have convinced mom to revive the sauerkraut tradition!

are there any recipes that you love that have a weird ‘n’ wonderful secret ingredient? i have another cake recipe where one of the ingredients is COKE! it’s a pretty darn tasty cake, too!

~*~*~*~*~

today is also grey cup sunday (the canadian football league equivalent of the super bowl – take my word for it that it’s much less impressive than the super bowl extravaganza). the b.c. lions are taking on the winnipeg blue bombers. plus, it’s the 99th grey cup – that’s pretty cool!  i’ll cheer for winnipeg just because that is where gina lives – hey, that’s a good reason, right?!

favourite football player ever? me -> joe montana followed by dan marino.

~*~*~*~*~

november thankfulness:

(for saturday november 26): yesterday i was thankful for…dad!

hooray! the sign is staying

when you’re little, and you’re on a long car ride (which can be anywhere from 17 minutes on, depending on your age) you like to break your journey into segments. i’ve talked before about our regular trips to goderich when we would mark off the rural towns as we passed through them: stratford, mitchell, seaforth, clinton, goderich was our chant.

the other long-ish drive that we would do semi-regularly was to toronto. happily, in my life-span, the 401 has always existed (the parents remember the olden days before the highway was constructed). however, this major thoroughfare across southern ontario has changed a lot since the ’70′s! i do remember the days when it was four lanes only (two in each direction) and when the pearson airport marked the crossover point from rural land to urban setting. what’s it like now? well, the 401 is three lanes each direction all the way from where i get on it, through to toronto. and the pearson airport is completely enveloped by industrial and commercial buildings.

there is another *famous* local landmark that we would always look for as we drove: the schneiders sign. here is a totally cruddy photo…

look! the upper corner there!

…but at least it’s better than my first attempt!

move, trees!

[hey, cut me some slack! it's not easy capturing a good shot SAFELY when you're driving 100 km+ down the 401!]

not long ago, schneiders announced that they are closing their production plant in kitchener. this is a big hit to our local economy – this meat processing factory has employed thousands for many, many years. you can read more details and history here (article in the k-w record from october 19th). and you can read about the decision to leave the sign as is here.

i’m glad the sign is staying put! i like the now-kitschy schneider’s girl on the sign, and the fact that it gives you the time and the temperature.

even today, i still count down the kilometers between waterloo and toronto by watching for certain markers (the “bad boy school” in milton is another one!).

what’s a longstanding landmark near you? here’s a better photo of the schneider’s sign for you!

(source)

~*~*~*~*~

november thankfulness:

(for thursday november 3rd): yesterday, i was thankful for the fact that my favourite peanut butter has been on sale all week at valumart! you betcha i have stocked up!

that's a savings of about $2 a jar!

when one hour turns into three

oh, the irony.

on the very day that i posted about how my november goal was “no complaining,” God decided to give me a test.

i had a fabulous day in toronto on wednesday – it started with a quick ‘n’ easy drive into the city, and the positive vibe continued through the day. the weather was gorgeously warm for november, bright and sunny. little e and cutie c were absolute gems during my time with them. a highlight was our evening craft time together – we got into an in-depth discussion about vacuum cleaners (!?!) which was reflected in our masterful drawings and artistic projects. the creative juices were flowing fast and furious for all three of us!

i left the brother and sil ana‘s just after 7:30 p.m., and – would wonders never cease! – the gardiner was lightly trafficked, and i sailed out of toronto in near-record time for a weeknight.

now, normally, the first thing i do is check out the every-ten-minute traffic report on 680 news, as i drive out. i like to have a heads-up on any possible delay. well, because the gardiner departure was sooo easy, i bypassed this routine as i was confident i’d be home in very good time.

wrong!

things were fine as i progressed on my journey – no slowdowns in mississauga, even! score! then, just west of mississauga – boom. red tail lights gleamed as far up the road as i could see.

oh, brother. well, no prob, i thought. it’ll be a short delay – it’s likely construction.

i got a little concerned when more minutes had passed and i had hardly moved.

i turned on the traffic report, and my heart sank: just west of milton (i had not even hit milton yet, and it has three exits off the 401, just to give you some idea of the distance) there was a diesel spill, and traffic – THREE lanes worth – was limited to getting by on the left shoulder of the road.

i slumped in my seat. this was going to be a long haul.

it would be so, sooooo easy to write a negative rant, here (thus far, i think i have stuck mainly to setting up my story, and to reporting just the facts, ma’am. i hope you agree).

so, in the 2.5 hours that remained of my trip home, i had ample time to reframe this frustrating experience into a focus on positives. here’s my list:

~ i considered all the cars and trucks, big and small, surrounding me. literally, there were thousands of us facing the same circumstances. i looked INTO the cars to see the drivers, the passengers, their faces. each one of us wishes we were somewhere else, i thought. i am no more or less important than any of these other people. we all are feeling the inconvenience, stress, and frustration.

~ i was so glad this delay happened on my ride HOME and not TO toronto as a loss of time of this magnitude would have severely impacted my transport duties with little e. missing my rendez-vous times with her would have really freaked me out.

~ there was no rain to deal with – the roads were clear and it was a mild evening.

~ i had my blackberry with me so i could communicate (and vent!) to share that i would be MUCH later than anticipated. and i also read blogs, gotta be honest! (seriously, it was totally inch forward, sit for several minutes, creep forward again).

~ i was delayed because of the gas spill, NOT because i was personally involved in an accident. the rav was fine, i was fine, once i got through the back-up, there would be no further issues to deal with, or repercussions.

~ i gave thanks that i had stayed on the 401 and had not ventured off on the detour suggested on 680 news (although by the time i heard the traffic report i had already passed the suggested exit). just after i passed the diesel spill, i could see the sideroad that many travelers had opted to take, and it was backed up just as badly as the highway.

~ i gave thanks for the workers and emergency crews out there, doing their best to clean things up. and at least traffic was moving. think of the delay if the road had been completely blocked!

~ i had a 3/4 tank full of gas and an empty bladder.

so there you have it. yes, it was not a pleasant experience. and yes, i thought about how this could qualify as a new experience (“take three hours to drive home from toronto”). but i don’t want to “waste” a new experience on this (in the grand scheme of things) minor inconvenience.

what’s the biggest traffic delay you’ve suffered through? (we’ll focus on ground transportation today and leave air travel to another time!) usually, my TO commute is 1h15, at the most. the next time it’s 1.5-2 hours is going to be a pittance after this week’s slog!

~*~*~*~*~

november thankfulness:

(for thursday november 3): yesterday i was thankful that the giraffes are complete!

what a *zoo* they were to knit!

an unfortunate incident

earlier this week, i highlighted three feel-good stories from the toronto waterfront marathon.

(source)

(source)

(source)

in the past few days, i’ve enjoyed reading and hearing accounts from various participants. my favourite story is from a colleague at ANOTHERstore: his goal was to beat three hours, but the wheels fell off at about the 32 k mark, and he struggled for the last 10 k. the really kicker, he said, was getting passed by ed whitlock. yup, that’s humbling, eh – having an 80 year beat you to the finish!

at the time i wrote the blog post, i didn’t know about a sad situation that also occurred at the races: a 27 year old participant collapsed and died, near the finish line [i have heard anecdotal reports that he was in the half marathon event, and was sprinting to the finish]. this story received pretty much the same amount of coverage as the top stories i talked about.

please note that i feel very badly and very sad for the young man who passed away, his family and friends – everyone involved. it bothers me, though, when the media blasts stories of a death at a running event. this often-times sensationalistic coverage promotes the misconception that running distance events is dangerous. for people not familiar with marathons (ie the ones who ask “and how long is THIS marathon that you’re doing?” um, all marathons are 42.2 km/26.1 miles!) negative media coverage overrides all of the positive stories of training for and running in a marathon. thousands upon thousands of regular, everyday finishers exemplify the benefits of running and healthy fitness practices, but the media picks up on one sad story and that is what gets tons of attention.

(source)

in tuesday’s globe and mail, andré picard wrote a wonderful second opinion column. the piece is moderate in tone, and factual rather than a personal rant. i encourage you to read the entire article:

don’t let deaths scare you off marathons (the title in the newspaper itself was “don’t give up on marathons just yet”)

however if you’d rather have a summary [why don't i just TELL you what it's about!] here are some factual highlights from mr picard’s report:

~ “those who think that marathons are deadly dangerous are grossly misinformed: they don’t understand statistics and science – or, at the very least, choose to not do so to reinforce their prejudices.”

~ “about 50 000 canadians suffer heart attacks each year. almost 40 per cent of them are fatal, meaning 20 000 deaths. on average, two marathoners a year die during races. yet they garner more media attention that [sic] the other 20 000 deaths combined.

~ “the reality is that 95 per cent of those who die during marathons have underlying heart problems – either genetic or lifestyle-related.”

~ “paradoxically, if you’re going to have a heart attack, a marathon is the best place to have one because paramedics and defibrillators are nearby. about 75 per cent of people whose heart stops at a race survive; in everyday life, it’s about 15 per cent.”

~ stated plainly, people die of heart disease, not running.

again, i suggest you read the entire article because my numbers-centric summary is boring does not do the piece justice, at all.

(source)

moving on – this weekend is the niagara marathon! it holds a soft spot in my heart as that is where i ran my very first ‘thon – way back in ’96! the weather is notoriously horrible…fingers crossed they get a good weather year!

where you do get your news from? i used to be an avid newspaper reader, but now i quickly glance through the k-w record and the globe and mail papers online. except on tuesdays when i can steal mom and dad’s globe when they’re in toronto. on wednesdays, i get news from the radio during my drive to TO. i never, ever watch the news on tv!

any type of news reporting that frustrates you? sensationalism and uncalled-for hype (on any subject) rile me.

the return of the diva angels

yesterday, i was a woman on a mission.

bye bye

with diva angels in hand in backpack, i booted it back to the dollar bazaar:

here we are!

ultimately, i wished to receive a full refund for my runny fake jeans.

armed with proof of purchase!

my hopes were not high – i know that at the dollar store close to me, they have a “no refund, no exchange” policy. but since i had a defective item – as in i didn’t just change my mind – i figured there was a slight chance of compensation. let’s keep in mind, though, that maintaining customer relations is not likely a priority for a dollar store – we’re not talking holt renfrew, here!

my B level goal was to score an exchange. if that happened, then i faced a choice: get the russian porn girl leggings, or a year’s supply of what…cheap candles??

i held my breath, put a cheery smile on my face, and crossed my fingers.

i politely showed the proprietor the pants in question, and requested my money back. in reply, he told me that would be “very hard.” um, how???, open cash register. take out $11.29. give to customer? but instead of voicing those thoughts, i tried a sorrowful epxression, and woebegone tone of voice. please, could i please have a refund, please? again, i was told, “very hard,” and this time “store policy” was added on for good measure.

i decided to cut my losses. exchange it would be.

a quick tour of the store did not offer me much:

obviously, merchandising is not a priority

so here’s what i chose:

one of each colour available!

yes, i now have a year’s a minimum two year supply of tissue paper. family, don’t be surprised when your christmas present is enveloped by tulips. [sorry, stephanie, but i just could not do the other leggings!]

i must have been a little thrown because when i checked back with mr dollar bazaar, i had only nine tissue packs. i was thinking that nine = $9.99, i think. he generously said i had one more dollar – right beside the cash i found:

it's even got a cute pattern!

perfect! never too early for a planning geek to look ahead! plus, i will have a funny memory of how i got my 2012 agenda.

all’s well, in the end. the store owner insisted i take a plastic bag for my new goods, and as i was leaving warmly said, “you buy here lots. good customer. we see you soon, yes?” [i think he has me confused with someone else?]. but i appreciated the sentiment. although i would have appreciated my money back even more.

and, yes, because i know you want to say it – i have learned my lesson. no more clothes from the dollar store!!!

:)

film festing

my third year of university was spent in the hinterlands town of chicoutimi, québec where i lived for eight months. in order to fully benefit from my immersion experience, my friend cathy and i enthusiastically participated in as many cultural activities as we could. (plus, being busy staved off homesickness). one of our best ideas was to sign up for the chicoutimi ciné-club. each monday evening, we gathered in the auditorium of the local cégèp where we watched the film of the week. some of the movies were french in origin, but most of them were english, dubbed over into french. i don’t remember too many specific movie titles – the only one that sticks in my head is david cronenberg’s naked lunch – > perhaps the most bizarre movie i have ever seen. it would be classified as whacked *out there* seen in english – now imagine it in french!

ciné-club in chicoutimi was my initiation into movies other than hollywood mainstream fare. when i returned home to kitchener-waterloo, i started going to see movies at the princess and that cinema remains a favourite to this day (plus, now it’s in my ‘hood!).

with unlimited time and resources, here is what one of my dream new experiences would be: spend 2-3 days in toronto, attending tiff. i have never seen a movie at the toronto international film festival, despite repeatedly saying that i’m going to go some time. well, some time is still as far as i’ve gotten with this item on my life’s bucket list.

(source)

tiff is one of the top film events in the world. celebrities flock to toronto during the festival (this year it’s running from september 8th-18th) – i love reading the toronto newspapers and seeing which celebs are here, where they’re eating/shopping/staying, who’s partying til 3 a.m. and who’s being a grumpy recluse.

madge was at tiff on monday! here's the photo from the globe and mail...i read that festival volunteers were told to TURN THEIR BACKS to her as she red carpet walked! attitude much?!

besides the potential of hob-nobbing with the rich and famous [ok, even a sighting of george clooney's shoulder or tilda swinson's foot would greatly please me!] i love independent films, and tiff showcases some real winners every year. remember slumdog millionaire? it rose to fame thanks to tiff. and little miss sunshine can credit it’s rave reviews to the warm reception it received at…tiff!

here’s the globe and mail’s list of 10 films to see this year at tiff. it’ll be interesting to see if one of them becomes a smash hit!

my pick!…

(source)

because of…

(source)

:)

so, yes, some year, it will work for me to view a whole bunch of films at tiff. until then, i will content myself with devouring the newspaper coverage…and frequenting the princess as much as possible!

~*~*~*~*~

waterloo riverview dharma centre

8th annual buddhist film festival

speaking of film festivals, there’s a local film festival that has interested me for the past few years, too. my neighbour stephen always puts up this poster in our condo building:

to expand on the information you see above (a little hard to read?! magnifying glass, anyone?!), this festival, hosted by the waterloo riverview dharma centre, will be held on saturday, november 5th  from 4-9:30 p.m.

this link – waterloo buddhist film festival will give you a clear synopsis of each movie, and provide full details on how to get your tickets. mark your agenda, buy your tickets, plan to attend!!

~*~*~*~*~

waterloo region has a few film festivals throughout the year:

grand river film festival

waterloo festival for animated cinema

focus 4 film festival

children’s film festival

[i had no clue so many options existed 'til i googled! wow!]

maybe i should start small and stay local by attending one of these before i jump to tiff!

hey! i just remembered – i did attend the banff film festival wayyyy back about 17 years ago when it made its annual tour to waterloo! ok, so i have started small. i am ready for tiff!

who would you wait hours to see walk the red carpet? me: for sure george clooney and madonna. i’m not a brad pitt fan so can’t say i’d be willing to stand around to see him.

have you ever met a movie celebrity? we were in downtown toronto one september when tiff was going on. i saw a group of people milling about where a red-carpet was set up, along with some outdoor tents. rumour was that matt damon would be arriving shortly for a one x one charity event. we did hang around for nearly an hour before matt arrived. and, true to form, i only saw the top of his head!

return trips, part two

two weeks ago, we went to ikea on a fact finding mission. i had no intention of purchasing a new couch, that day. the goal was simply to research options. the mission was accomplished! i found exactly what i wanted, and was eager to return to get a new couch!

last week’s planned return trip was kiboshed by a life-sucking attack of the flu.

this week, i was sure hoping the revised return trip to spend some money would come together without a hitch!

uh oh:

the weather conditions at the time of departure from waterloo

great.

just what you want when you’re going to be transporting home a couch in the back of an open pick up truck. i crossed my fingers that the day would clear up. [little did i know that later on, environment canada issued severe storm warning and tornado watches for the evening, in the region!].

then we hit heavy traffic.

it took 17 tries to get a half-acceptable "bored" photo; yet, i can do "gleeful" with no retakes necessary!

we made it!

one final sky-watch before entering...

ikea’s layout confuses me. i have to follow the blue arrows on the floor, or risk getting completely disoriented.

we made it to couches!

i knew i wanted orange!!!

except, guess what? somehow, i confused the colour of cover i coveted (the orange) with the style of couch i wanted (which does not offer orange):

decidedly more muted tones in the "beddinge" line that i had chosen

so, what to do? get the colour i want, in a style i don’t like as much, or get the style i really liked in a colour that i can spice up? yup. that’s what i thought, too.

the selection!

i chose the off-white. maybe not the most practical colour option, but you can wash the couch cover, plus i really liked the softness of the corduroy fabric. i can just see me flaked out watching jersey shore. and i can throw any colour of accent pillow on there, quick as a flash.

ok! cool!

to get out, it was back to following the arrows. of course, many temptations awaited along the way.

colourful + cheap toilet bowl brushes? ok!

just loved walking around the rest of ikea with toilet brushes under my arm...

the only kind of ick part about ikea shopping is finding your stuff in the warehouse-style aisles. first prize, though, for clarity of labelling and ease of finding where you need to go:

i don't actually touch things, here. i supervise.

two weeks ago, i saw this poster:

a perfectly placed promo to catch you at your weakest moment, after all that warehouse scavenging

and ever since, i have been fixated on the idea of having an ikea hotdog. do you think the flu nixed that desire? not in the least. in fact, it made it stronger. [since the flu, i am still completely off of coffee and fresh vegetables; corn on the cob, pepperoni pizza, and cereal? cannot get enough].

i was so excited about my hotdog!!!

sadly, the line-up for the café looked like this:

you know i hate waiting in the first place. and for a $0.79 hot dog? not so inclined...

but, a-ha! on to plan b!…

over to front street we drove, right into the heart of downtown toronto…

across from the cbc building...

…to our family’s favourite hot dog truck:

love a street meat vendor with flair, eh!

two dogs and two drinks, please...

me = no onions!

fric-a-frac, was that ever delicious!

and the day was not yet over!

now, it was on to see adorable e and baby c!

for months, i have been telling the girls i will bring down my kit of hair barrettes. and i keep forgetting. aunti finally remembered!

setting up the hair salon...

are we off to a luau?!

pretty fancy!

the day’s excitement was STILL not over! remember that severe weather watch? well, driving home to waterloo, did not the heavens open and pour out sheets and blasts of rain, all while lightening danced continuously all over the sky, all the way from mississauga to home. and my new furniture was in the back of the truck. we got back, and b had done such a good job of securely tarping everything that it all was bone dry. amazing.

and that, my friends, should conclude the shopping updates for a little while. i know my bank book sure hopes that is the case!

what’s your shopping method? research and compare, or complete the task as quickly as possible? i know that if i’m obsessing over an item for more than 24 hours, i really do want it. my in-the-heat-of-the-moment mistakes of the past have included: designer jeans, clipless pedals for my bike, leather pants…i’ve learned to stop, drop and roll stop, think and budget!

when you’re happy and you know it

we had such a great day yesterday!

a scenic clue as to where we spent the day...

as mentioned, it was baby c’s 2nd birthday…

the birthday girl (in her swim wear!)

for the second year in a row, we were delighted to be included in the intimate group of family and friends that gathered on toronto island to celebrate in style.

artistic map of the island

we caught the 9:30 a.m. ferry from queen’s quay:

it's only a 5-7 minute ride!

what a picture-perfect day!

aunti, enjoying the ferry ride and the fresh breeze off the water

the first time i visited toronto island was only two years ago (birthday girl c was only a couple weeks old, on that visit), and i fell in love with the island within about four minutes. i hope the fact that we’ve gathered here in august two years in a row, now, means this is an annual tradition!

what’s a birthday party without face painting?!

sil ana is the artist-in-residence!

little e chose to be a butterfly...

...while the birthday girl was very happy with flowers, a ladybug...

...and butterflies!

aunti missed her turn!!

our spot in the park was ideal: right across from a beach section, right beside a splash pad, and right in the middle of green space shaded by tall trees. the kids had a blast going here, there, everywhere!

we all shared in a noon-time potluck:

a wonderful assortment including salads, crackers/cheeses, fresh fruit - and waterloo county summersausage! always a hit!

what a wonderful time of togetherness!

now, what are the chances: there were eight children in attendance…and all eight were girls!

...and all are five or younger!

birthday c blowing out her candles...

it was just a super fun summer/birthday outing. the weather co-operated – more importantly, the children all co-operated! – and a grand time was enjoyed by all.

[graduation announcement: forthwith, baby c will be known as "cutie c" while little e is now "adorable e." the little ones are growing up! these nicknames should hold for the next couple years!].

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

if you’ve never been to toronto island, or if you ever find yourself as a tourist in toronto, i highly recommend putting a visit to this gem-of-a-place on your agenda.

you catch the ferry at queen’s quay in downtown toronto, between yonge and bay streets. you can ferry over to one of three spots:

  • hanlon’s point: secluded, peaceful, lots of greenery…also home to a nude beach!
  • centreville: attractions, rides, water fountains…lots of activity and hubbub
  • ward’s island: quaint and cute cottages, some of which date back to the early 1900′s

the island is 5 km long, end to end – easily walkable. or, visit just one part – your choice, as time and energy permit.

after the party concluded (with little ones, by early afternoon, our festivities had wrapped up), we walked over to the ward’s island section of the island in order to catch the return ferry:

this is the eastern part of toronto island

check out these hilarious bicycles you can rent!

doesn't that look like fun?! maybe when the girls are older...!

we just missed the 1:45 p.m. ferry by about 30 seconds. must have been meant to be – now we had a chance to go cottage-gazing!

i love old-time cottages - this one is so charming!

check out that stone chimney - and if you look carefully, you can see the ginormous stone fireplace inside (yes, i'm nosy like that!)

tell me that's not adorable!

despite their age, most cottages show pride of ownership

there's even a community clubhouse!

what a great day. time with family and friends, outdoors, at such a happy spot. can we have my birthday party here? oops – that won’t work! i doubt the island is much fun in january!

favourite toronto tourist attractions? i’d put the cn tower on the list – that’s a given!

any family birthday traditions? getting together is the very best part, regardless of location.

~*~*~*~*~

31 FLAVOURS OF AUGUST

6/31

treat: chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing from desmond & beatrice bakeshop at cutie c‘s bday party

price: party favour!

rating: *** (three stars)

tasting notes: this is not your average *store-bought* cuppie-cake! talk about amazing: the cake was dense and rich, but the icing was far and away my favourite part: a delectable buttercream that generously adorned the cake. impressive! and i was not the only one loved the petit gâteaux

cupcakes are perfect for little hands...

...and butterfly princesses...

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