Family and Memories

Girl Time

Posted on Sep 1, 2008

Summer just wouldn’t be complete without at least one "girl weekend" with Andrea in Ottawa. I hadn’t been in a few years due to unforeseen circumstances, but this summer I was determined to get there. Come hell or high water I was getting on a train and trekking to our country’s capital for a weekend.

Between the lingering discussions over coffee (at least 3 hours on Sunday morning) and the Olympic-style patio-lounging on Saturday sipping Kir Royales, we didn’t really do much at all. We did manage to venture through the market ooh-ing and ahh-ing over all the amazing looking fruits and vegetables and purchased many delicious snacks to indulge in.

Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing in her backyard, sipping sangria and enjoying the nibbles we’d purchased earlier that day. We even managed to throw together a delicious barbecue dinner for three very hungry boys who showed up somewhat unexpectedly.

On Sunday I finally got to see their new house, which Andrea’s husband has been diligently renovating for at least a year. It is absolutely beautiful too – from the enormous kitchen to the lovely three-season porch to all of the striking turn-of-the-century details. I really wish I had taken pictures.

It was an amazing weekend – full of good conversation, incredible food and lots of relaxation; just what a Domestic Goddess needs. I could do with a weekend like that again already – and in fact we are planning one for the fall or early winter. I’ve only ever been to Ottawa in the summer so I am looking forward to going when the weather is cooler. If anyone has any thoughts on what you simply must do in Ottawa in the fall, please let me know!

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Summer Sentimentality

Posted on Jul 13, 2008

I am having a torrid love affair and I’m all hot and bothered by it.

Let me at least try to explain… The affair began on Canada Day, July 1st. And no, it had nothing to do with "Mmm… Canada", I promise. Since that afternoon it has carried on, much to my dear husband’s vexation. You see, he knows…and he is tormented by it.

I can’t help it and I will keep on with it until the flame dies out. You’d be sure to notice its effects if you took one look at me, walking down the street, smiling like a crazy person while the sun blinds me, my clothes stick to my skin and the heat addles my brain. I’m in love and I quite simply cannot get enough.

Both S. and Leith are plagued with sleeplessness while I on the other hand, sleep like a baby – could it be the effects of my wandering heart? Neither of them can comprehend why this love makes me so happy, and strangely neither is insistent that I give it up. They just wish I wouldn’t gush about it quite so often.

This forbidden love of which I speak? The hot, humid weather of the summer. I have a renewed love of warm weather, of summer and of being outside. I think I spent too many months indoors last year and my body is just now getting used to the idea that I do not have to confine myself to a hospital room for the next three months. Recently S., Leith and I were at the beach, watching the ducks, wading in the water and simply enjoying the summer weather. That was when I fell in love. I actually stopped, hugged and kissed S. and told him how happy I am, just to be outside. I know, I’m crazy, but you don’t know what you have until you lose it, and sometimes you don’t know what you’ve lost until you get it back again.

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Mmm… Gardening

Posted on Jul 6, 2008

After reading about everyone’s home-grown Canadian goodness this past week I was inspired to plant my own tiny version in my backyard. I have been longing for a backyard garden of my very own for a long time and this year I was finally granted both a yard and some dirt in order to make this Domestic Goddess’s dream come true.

I had decided to wait until S. and my brother had had a chance to get the fence built. This fence may have taken a while but it sure is a thing of beauty, even without the gates on. S. and I are both very proud of our wee house with its teeny backyard and this gorgeous fence.

So yesterday all of a sudden I found myself standing in the middle of a garden centre, Leith loading up the bottom "shelf" of the garden cart, and me loading up the top. I managed to convince him in the end that we only needed one purple basil plant and no Geraniums, but it was a positive outcome over all. He can be very helpful in garden centres it turns out – I never would have found the tomatoes if it weren’t for him pointing at all the little yellow, red and green fruits (vegetables?) saying "ball! ball!".

So we brought home a small flat of plantables and S. told me it was up to me to do the dirty work. So this morning while he and Leith were out running errands and visiting Aunties I dug my fingers into some seriously black earth and planted my little heart out.

Just think of all the amazing dishes that will be enhanced by my fresh thyme, basil, chives, tomatoes and hot peppers. I searched and searched for rosemary but there was none to be found. We might have to head out again today so I can get some at another nursery.

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Backyard Delights

Posted on Jun 22, 2008

On warm summer evenings there are very few things that beat the flawless combination of good friends, good weather and good eats. Back yard entertaining is one of my favourite ways to spend time during the entirely too few warm months in Canada. Growing up, a large backyard was something we took for granted as kids. We always had a place to play, a place to picnic, a place to pitch a tent and play at "camping". Even though we lived smack in the middle of busy, crowded, downtown Toronto we always had that shady, comfortable, large oasis at our beck and call.

I don’t think I truly appreciated how good we had it back then until S. and I bought our own house this past fall. We love our little house and are absolutely crazy about living in Leslieville (we are close to everything: Little India, the Beach, Queen East, TTC, and only about a 12-minute drive from the downtown core), but we realized this spring that something very important was missing.

We don’t actually have a back yard.

Well, we do have a rather petite rectangle of grass behind our house that S. has been working hard to keep neatly mowed. Recently we have been making very big plans for what (hopefully) will be in no time, our own wee sanctuary. Once we have a fence built, the barbecue S. received as a Father�s Day gift will come out of its box, the lawn chairs will come out of the basement and Leith will be �set free� in his very own outdoor space to play, picnic and pitch a tent.

Once all the bits and pieces come together we will of course host a backyard barbecue with friends, food and fun overflowing. I have some very good backyard-friendly recipes already but only recently have I come up with a worthwhile coleslaw recipe. Because honestly, what good are homemade burgers, grilled corn with chipotle butter and margaritas without a delicious bowl of chilled coleslaw�???

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My Dearest Leitho

Posted on Jun 14, 2008

You are now two years old and I think it is high time I started writing letters to you. This will be my very first one. Please forgive me if I babble on incoherently or if I reveal anything truly embarrassing, I am still new to this whole thing (writing about motherhood, the act of motherhood, you name it).

You are asleep right now, in your very own bed in your very own room upstairs. You had an active day (helping your father dig holes in the backyard, helping me make dinner, playing with the hose in the back yard and drawing some rather interesting renditions of all of your beloved family members and friends with your crayons) and I was not surprised to see you drift off to sleep on the way home in the car.

You are an excellent sleeper. Sometimes I watch you sleep. I come into your room at night to check on you and your face mesmerizes me. You are completely at peace when you sleep and so utterly beautiful it makes my heart hurt. I run my hand over your forehead and your nose wrinkles up for about two seconds and then your face lapses into its delicate baby curves once again.

Those curves are disappearing now that you are two (terrible two!) and you are turning into a little boy. This morning I looked at you and was sad for a brief moment. Sad that you are no longer that mewling little bundle that was totally dependent upon me for every need. Sad that you are growing so quickly it is difficult to keep up with the changes. At the same time I was overjoyed to note that you are learning things faster than you did even just a few months ago. I was pleased that you are becoming independent ("no" is one of your favourite words), even though it means daily small accidents (you fell and split your lip open the other day and scared your poor father half-to-death).

To put it bluntly, you amaze me. You amaze me daily with your pure joy and your compassion. You thrill me with your love and devotion. You impress me with the new skills you are learning and the old ones you are retaining. You are, in short, the centre of my world.

At least once a week someone asks me if I want to have more kids; I suppose I am at the point and age where a second child would be welcomed. If I could have more I would have to consider it very seriously, because I know you would be the most amazing older brother in the world. But since that is a blessing I am unable to accept I am happy to say that you are more than enough child for me. While you make me want to have a dozen children just like you, you also give me reason to never have another because no one could ever measure up to you. You’ve spoiled me for other kids little man…and, I think, spoiled a few of your aunties in this regard as well.

I will stop rambling on now…and end this (my first!) letter to you.

Happy Birthday my little munchkin man…I love you very much.

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One True Love

Posted on Jun 9, 2008

One of the very first true loves of my adult life was an older man. Correction: a rather tall, lanky older man, who happened to be missing a few of his more significant front teeth. I have always been a sucker for those hunky Canadian hockey players…

Tim Horton was a professional hockey player, and in 1949 signed on to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Over the next 20 years he worked on the kind of career that got him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977, three years after his death in a car accident. Before he left us, Horton started his doughnut and coffee shops; of which there are over 2,200 outlets in Canada and the northeastern U.S. today.

What you get at “Timmy�s” is certainly not gourmet coffee, and you certainly can’t order a ‘skim milk latte’ or an ‘espresso con panna’. Their coffee is very plain and very simple, but it is delicious. I’ve had many Saturday morning discussions over Tim’s coffee and doughnuts about what they could possibly be putting into their coffee to make it so addictive. Being the poor detective that I am, I think it all boils down to quality coffee and fresh brewing, plain and simple. And that simple formula has worked for them.

My relationship with this brawny hockey player began in the summer of 1990. I was working for my father, painting hallways and stairwells in a condo in Scarborough, just outside Toronto proper, saving up money for university. My older brother was working with me and he introduced me to the coffee shop around the corner. Every morning we would go to the drive-through with my dad, who ordered us each a coffee (small with milk only for my dad, a large double-double for Dave, and a large with a-little-coffee-with-my-cream-and-loads-of-sugar for me) along with a pack of Tim-Bits for sharing. This was the breakfast of champions and hallway painters, alike.

Now, fifteen years later Tim Horton’s is still my coffee house of choice – I am always hoarding little piles of $1.46 in change (S. has no idea where all the coins from his pockets disappear to!) for my morning caffeine fix. Luckily for me there is a Tim’s in the hospital where I work. There are also two within walking distance from my parent’s house – so I’m always calling ahead to find out what people want when I stop on my way. While my dad still has a small with milk, David has stopped drinking coffee altogether and I have switched to milk only in mine. But the coffee remains the same – and for my money the doughnuts rival Krispie Kreme’s any day of the week… but especially this month, because it’s Mmm…Canada this month and Tim Horton’s is Canadian, through and through (even if it happens to be American-owned).

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