Saturday, 30 May 2009

Book Reviews

I have recently read the following:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Review - A really good book. I recommend it. The entire book is written through letters between strangers and friends soon after the German occupation of a small island near London after WWII.


Home Safe - Elizabeth Berg

Review - An easy read but forgettable. About a recently widowed author with writer's block and her strained relationship with daughter.

Heart & Soul - Maeve Binchy

Review - A very easy read about nothing in particular. I really can't describe the plot well for this one - the daily lives of those involved with a heart clinic.

Below the surface - Karen Harper

Review - Not recommended - lousy writing. A scuba diver surfaces to find her twin sister and their boat vanished. Sounds really good doesn't it? Too bad the author couldn't make it work.

The Hiding Place - Karen Harper

Review - I should have learned from the last book by Harper. Another highly unlikely scenario - unbelievable in the literal sense.

Anyone else read any good books lately that they would recommend?

Friday, 29 May 2009

Funny Stuff

Warning: Deals with woman's issues with language - but hilarious!

Click Here

and Here

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Rock for the young and old

For Christmas this year my son received several gift cards instead of presents. On New Years Eve day my son and husband ran around to several stores so he could buy Guitar Hero Aerosmith for himself.

For those of you who don’t know what this is, where the heck have you been? No really, it is a video game where you use the supplied guitar (not at all like a real guitar, has buttons instead of strings) to play along to the songs on the video game. You have to hit the coloured notes as they go past….anyhow….all the songs on this version of the game are by the rock group Aerosmith.

(Side Note: Excellent marketing on Aerosmith’s part – great way to get the younger generation listening to their music – that is why they have been around for 4 decades!)

As you get better playing, new songs are released for you to play. My 12 year old son is now in love with Aerosmith – he keeps telling me of all these “New” songs he can play. I then point out that many of them were released in the 70’s (when Mommy was a little girl :))

So finally getting to the point now…the other day I heard of an Aerosmith concert in Toronto on Sept 3rd. Opening for them are ZZ Top, who happen to be a favorite of my husband’s.

So we are trying to get our hands on 3 tickets from this sold out show to take my son to. We haven’t yet mentioned it to him in case we can’t find tickets (which are going to cost us a HUGE amount of money). I really like Aerosmith as well, so it won’t just be for Jarrod that we are going.

But how cool is that that we get to take our 12 year old to his first rock concert and actually like the music as much as he does?

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Still alive...barely :)

Sorry for not posting much but I have truly been exhausted every night after work. I am SO not used to this 5 am wake up. It is killing me.

And I didn't even work Thurs & Friday last week - I had a prescheduled (booked a year ago) specialist appt midday on Thurs and she sent me for blood work on Friday at 8 am and 4 pm so I had to take both days off. Then I had to do a 24 hour urine collection on Sunday (one of those rare times I wish I were male!) Too much info? LOL

I finally got my laptop user ID and security pass to for work yesterday, so now I can start as soon as I get here (7:30 am) instead of waiting for someone I know to show up and sign me in.

They have a shuttle bus service to and from the GO train station which simplifies my life somewhat. I now leave work at 3 pm and take the 3:30 train home, catch a bus at 4:15 pm to the mall and Dh picks me up there at about 5:10 pm.

Yesterday I was feeling crappy and I am sure I am not getting enough sleep so I headed to bed at 7:30 pm, read til about 8 pm and hit the sack - I am feeling much better today.

Since I get in so much earlier than the others on my team, I deciced to whip off a quick blog post to my 3 loyal readers :)

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

So tired...1st day of new job

First day of new contract

5 am - alarm goes off, take Peanut out to do business.
5:05 am - shower, make-up, hair, dress, brush teeth
5:30am - Feed Peanut, make breakfast
5:45am - Crate Peanut, get lunch
5:50am - My ride (wonderful sister :)) is here
6:15am - get to GO station (early because we were not sure how long the drive was going to be), buy tickets
6:57am - train departs
7:11am - switch trains
7:35 - arrive at detination GO station, take 2 buses to office
8:10am - arrive at office - not due until 9am, but not sure of commute time, twiddle thumbs until 9am.
9am - boss arrives and signs me in
9:05am - tour of facility, then left on my own while boss goes hunting for a laptop
9:45am - boss arrives with laptop - I am to set up and he will come back to sign in for me as I do not have a logon ID as yet
10:30am - boss finally comes back to sign in, messes around with stuff on laptop
11am - laptop finally up and running
11:30am - boss leaves for the day (apparently today was a vacation day for him - not sure why he had me start today then)
11:31am - 1:15pm - play around on laptop, review some documentation that makes no sense to me
1:15pm - other boss shows up, tries to give me access to application - can't don't have admin rights, calls someone who says they will be right down.
1:30pm - meet other contractor who started last week who still does not have a security pass or computer log on ID (great!)
2pm - guy finally shows up and fixes laptop
2:30pm - 3:45pm - I browse the application and assorted documentation, still have no clue to what I am doing. 2nd boss doesn't have time to review things with me until Friday.
3:45pm - leave and take 2 buses to GO station
4:15pm - arrive at station
4:47pm - get on train
5:30pm - train arrives at destination
5:43pm - take connecting bus to mall
5:55pm - meet K at mall for ride home
6:15pm - arrive home, too tired to cook what I planned - good thing kiddo likes grilled cheese :)

I got no sleep last night because I kept waking up every hour to check the time.

Did absolutely nothing today, which is normal for the start of most contracts, but still very boring and tiring. You would think since they are paying me big bucks per hour, that they would at least be prepared for my arrival - banks and the government, more money than sense :)

And I get to look forward to more of the same tomorrow.

On the plus side - they have a Tim Hortons in the building and a large cafeteria. I think I will be drinking a lot of coffee.

7:40pm - ready for bed but will wait until at least 9pm

Monday, 18 May 2009

I like this quote

An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way.
An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.
-Charles Bukowski



I am definitely an artist :)



Being a technical writer I encounter many other writers who consider themselves intellectuals because they can make plain language sound foreign. :) I guess some people like that blank look on my face when I have no clue what they are rambling on about.

The main thing in I do in my line of work is make things simple to understand. I don't use 20 words when 10 will suffice. Simple and to the point.

I hope I am working with other artists at my new job tomorrow - I can't handle intellectuals on a Tuesday after a long weekend :)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Holiday Weekend

This weekend is a long one for those of us in Canada. Monday is Victoria Day.

Happy Victoria day Canada :)

On Friday my sister and I went shopping. I was in dire need of some new business clothes. Luckily the store I frequent (Penningtons) was having a great sale. I ended up with 3 pair of pants, 5 tops, underwear and my sister talked me into a dress and shrug (the dress is sleeveless and I don't do sleeveless). So I'm set clothes-wise for going back to work Tuesday.


Last night I had friends over for dinner. I did a tasting meal - meaning, I made several entrees but only smaller portions so we could taste many things. I like this way of trying out recipes.

And I absolutely forgot to take pictures of the food! I only remembered at dessert - so you can see a lovey shot of our fruit salad :)

  • Next came the Stuffed Pasta Shells & Bruschetta that mentioned in my last post. We all enjoyed these as well. I will make these again.
  • After that we had a Thai chicken satay with peanut sauce which was probably the worst dish of the evening but still not horrible. We all did not like the sauce but ate the chicken. I won't make these again but will try a different chicken satay recipe.
  • With the chicken, I served my mixed greens salad with walnuts, feta cheese, roasted red peppers and balsamic vinaigrette. We all liked this as well.
  • Even though we only had small portions of all of these foods, we were pretty stuffed, so the dessert of fresh pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and grapes in honey & lemon had to wait a couple hours.

We had a wonderful time eating and being with good friends. My friend lives just down the road, so we sent J over there and she got pizza for him and her kids - so we all had a kid free evening too :)

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In other news...my baby Peanut is one year old today! :)

My adorable googly-eyed baby :)

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So tomorrow is the last day before I start back to work after a LONG time off.
I have to get all my stuff organized and lunches made and dinners planned etc...

Mostly I have to get my mind in gear and ready to wake up at 5 am Tuesday morning Urg!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Ultimate Recipe Swap - Romantic Meals


This is a repost from last summer, but I think it would make a nice romantic meal.


My tip today is two great recipes - one I found online,and one I created/modified myself.


I found this great Meat Stuffed Pasta Shell recipe and just had to give it a try - it was fabulous!

I modified the recipe slightly, I added fresh chopped baby spinach to the top of the meat stuffed shells, sprinkled Parmesan cheese on each, spooned sauce on each and then a bit of grated mozzarella cheese last. I also skipped the parsley and red wine because I didn't have any.

Note: I bought the jumbo shells. The recipe made about 23 filled shells. Enough for 3 adults and 1 child for dinner, plus two adult lunches. 4 shells is all I could eat - and I CAN eat :)


With it I made my version of bruschetta - recipe follows.


Bruschetta (I don't have measurements - I wing it - sorry)
  • Diced roma tomatoes
  • finely chopped garlic
  • chopped cilantro (basil is traditional)
  • small glug olive oil
  • small glug balsamic vinegar
  • finely diced red onion (I leave this out because I don't like them and just sprinkle them on DH's pcs at the end)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Mix it all together and put in fridge at least an hour before needed - longer is better.
  2. I cut thick slices of Italian bread, brushed them with chopped garlic and olive oil and then had DH grill them lightly.
  3. Top with bruschetta mix (drain the juices before putting on the toast) and then crumble feta over.

I added a salad to round out the meal - it was a winner!

Even my picky "I hate pasta" father in-law loved it.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Summer Salad Carnival



Allyson over at A Heart For Home is holding a Slew Of Summer Salads Carnival.

Lots of great ideas for quick & easy summer meals.

There is one salad I had at a restaurant in Toronto years ago - I have no idea what is is called but I recently recreated it successfully at home and DH liked it too.

I just guess at amounts - what looks good.

  • Mixed greens (sometimes called musclin, or spring greens) or baby spinach, washed and dried.
  • Walnuts, chopped - I just break them in my hand.
  • Roasted red peppers, chopped - I use the kind from the jar.
  • Feta cheese - crumbled on top - maybe 2 Tbsp per person...
  • Balsamic vinaigrette - or equal parts balsamic vinegar & olive oil

Thats it! add salt & pepper to your liking.

Sorry I don't have a photo.

I also previously posted this pasta salad recipe.

Enjoy

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday - Pre Mixing Omelettes



Now that I am (finally) returning to work, I have to get used to a new busy morning routine.

  • I have to get up at 5 am.
  • Take Peanut out to do her business
  • Feed Peanut
  • Shower, do make-up, do hair and dress
  • Make & eat breakfast
  • Get picked up at 5:45 am.

So...you see I have a lot to do. I have to eat a decent breakfast or I will end up grabbing something unhealthy on the way to or at work. The commute is approx. a hour and a half.

So what I will do the night before is mix 2 eggs, 2 egg whites, chopped green onion, diced turkey bacon, chopped cilantro and some salt and pepper into a tupperware with lid, give it a quick whip and place in the fridge. I have to make lunches the night before anyway, so this one added thing won't take long.

After doing my make-up in the morning, I will come downstairs, set a pan sprayed with cooking spray on a low heat, take the tupperware out of the fridge, give it a good shake and pour into the pan. By the time I go back upstairs dress and come back it should be almost cooked and ready to go. If I am in a big rush, I can wrap it in parchment paper and eat it in the car.

But this definitely saves me time mixing and chopping on a busy morning.

For more Kitchen tips, pop over to Tammy's place.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

News...

So I got the job! Finally I'll be back to work making money.

I don't start for a couple weeks and it is a 3 month contract to start.

The commute is a bit of a pain because it is not downtown Toronto, where I usually work. The GO train (high speed commuter train) only stops at this stop a couple times per day, so I will have to adjust my schedule accordingly. I am hoping to do the earlier shift of 7:30 am til 3:30pm. That way I'll be able to catch a ride home with K from where my train comes in. I'll find out once I start.

Also for the first few weeks, I will be working in several different locations as I have to interview people and gather information, but the company offers a shuttle bus service between locations several times per day, which is extremely convenient as I don't drive.

It should be a challenging contract as I don't really know the topic I am to be writing about. Not that I usually do - I learn as I go, but as I mentioned, this contract is with a bank and so the topic is financial and quite complex in nature.

This morning I went through my closet to see what I had in business clothes. I have several pcs that are just a tad too tight - hopefully if I lose 5-10 lbs, I'll be able to wear them again.

I do need to buy a few items. My dress pants have definitely seen better days.

We also have to get J on a schedule of getting up in the morning on his own and making sure he is out the door on time to catch the bus. We will have to buy him a REALLY loud alarm clock this weekend and maybe have his Dad call from work each morning as a backup. We can give it a trial run next week, while I'm home to wake him if I have to.

Previously when I worked, we put him in daycare, but as he just turned 12, he does not want to do the daycare route.

His Papa lives in the basement, so is available in case of emergency.

On previous contracts, he came home by himself after school and let himself in, he will continue to do that but only now he has the added responsibility of letting Peanut out and feeding her.

Once school is out, I will either put him into some camp programs (I want him outdoors as much as possible), or my friend (or her son) may watch him, but there is more opportunity for him to stay in all day and play X-box with that option.

I want to apologize in advance for the slacking I will no doubt do in regards to blog posting once I start the job. Hopefully after a couple weeks, I will get my groove back :)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Frugal Editon

Today's Works for me Wednesday is the frugal edition.

My frugal tip for today is to use rags (in this case old towels) instead of paper towels or swiffer cloths when cleaning.

I recently bought a large bag of used towels (but still in really good condition) from the thrift store for $3. Inside were 3 large bath towels and 7 smaller hand towels.

I think I will save 2 of the larger towels for when I need to bathe the dogs (so I don't get dog hair on our towels) and cut up the others for spring cleaning.

I can use them for wiping down anything and everything (bathroom/kitchen counters, window sils, light switches, baseboards, sinks, mirrors), and I will cut them to size and attach to my swiffer duster to use either wet or dry to sweep/wipe the floors.

And then I will simply toss them into the washer and use them again and again and not waste money on those swiffer refills.

Old towels as rags works for me!

For more great WFMW tips, go by We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday - Pasta Salad


I'm a pasta loving person. In the winter time I love nothing more then a big plate of pasta. Can be with tomato sauce or Alfredo, might have ground beef, might have shrimp.

Even in the summer time I love pasta - but tend to want something not so hot, so I turn to my favorite cold pasta salad (which happens to change based on what ingredients I have on hand).

Now this recipe is kind of a non-recipe as in I don't have exact amounts, you have to be creative and wing it.



I like to use rotini (spiral) or penne pasta as it holds more sauce.
I use a mixture of ranch and greek salad dressings.

The rest (optional - add or subtract based on your own preferences)

Tomato diced (halved cherry or grape tomatoes are great here too)
Feta cheese crumbled
Green olives sliced
Green onion finely minced
Edamame - cooked and chilled in cold water
Chili powder (not chile powder) this is flavorful, not hot
Seasoning salt

Here is the kitchen tip: (since Tammy changed the rules - has to be an actual kitchen tip - on me after I wrote this post :))
  • Cook as many things as possible in the same pot. While my pasta is cooking, I can also throw my edamame in with it to cook. When the pasta is half done, I can throw some cut up asparagus into the same boiling water to cook for only a couple minutes.

While pasta is cooking, put all other ingredients into a large enough bowl.
Once pasta is cooked, drain and rinse under cold water til well chilled.
Toss with remaining ingredients
chill for an hour in fridge if you have time - I never do :)

And somehow I can't make a small amount of this and so I always have leftovers for lunch the next day :)

For more great kitchen tips, go to Tammy's!

Monday, 4 May 2009

My lil cuties

Each night J goes to bed at 9pm, he takes Peanut to bed with him. I let her sleep with him until I am ready for bed, then I take her out to do her business and put her in her crate for the night.

As you can see, she enjoys sleeping with J and doesn't much appreciate me waking her to go outside.

These next 2 were actually taken the night after the 1st 2, that is why Peanut is in a different position.



Don't you love how she hogs the pillow :)

Sunday, 3 May 2009

It's fishing season!

Last Saturday (yes I know I am a slacker and way behind in my posting) K, J and I spent the first really warm day of spring out and about.

We visited a friend to see their house renovations, we drove up to a hunting site to check for turkeys (the guys went turkey hunting Monday morning), we stopped at a chip truck for the best french fries and we (well the boys did) went fishing.

It was opening day for fishing season so all the really good locations were packed, so we went to a less know spot but had very little luck. At least we got the gear ready to go.

Getting rods ready

My boy

First cast of the season

Look it is sandal weather again!
(my feet need some sun!)


The boys fishing off the bridge

J gets one

But it's just a wee one and goes back

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Yet another catch up post

Still no word from my swap buddy, the organizers are trying to match me up with someone else who's buddy ditched them.

They are down to one other candidate and myself for the bank contract- they are making their decision on Tuesday.

Haven't been doing any sewing lately, but feeling like I may be getting the groove back.

Did a trip to Value Village with my sister today. Scored a few zippers (I want to make more zippered pouches - I have to practice my zippers), a large piece of beige linen to use for something, and a big bag of towels to cut up and use for rags - I really have to get going on my spring cleaning and these will come in handy (there was 3 large towels (may save these as dog bath towels) and about 7 hand towels all for $3).

Also went to Maple Fest in our town today - another nice day. Had a smog dog (sausage from a street vendor) and old fashioned cinnamon sugar donuts. Didn't actually try or buy any maple syrup. Lots of craft vendors and such - was a good time.

Update: Oh and I've gotten off my duff and scheduled posts for the next 4 days so far :)