Monday, 30 January 2012

Pink (and update)

Some good friends came to dinner and brought me tulips last week. They were tightly closed green buds, but now they are opening and showing their true colours.

Tulips are the only flowers that keep on growing after they've been cut. The flowers tend to reach for the sun and as the stems get longer, they droop. I was told that piercing the stem with a pin just below the blossom will stop the droop, so I've been carefully poking each flower.... I'll let you know if it works! So far so good.

Update Thursday 2 February:  piercing each stem with a pin seems to be working! Each flower that started to droop got an extra poke, and actually perked up, and they still look good after 6 days. I also have a copper penny in the water, and I read on the internet that putting vodka in the water helps, but this time I'm keeping the vodka for me!

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I had a new experience last week. I accompanied my friend G to Depression Ink. And what's Depression Ink, you are probably wondering?

It's the local Tattoo parlour.

G has always wanted to get a tattoo, and as she is a volunteer host at our local FM radio station, this was an ideal opportunity as the whole process was being recorded for her radio show. I was there as moral support and chief handholder, although she didn't really need much hand holding.

First step - she chose a dragon, for various reasons. The Chinese Year of the Dragon has just started, and when younger, she had a nickname of "The Dragon Lady"! The outline of the image was transferred onto her arm.
Next - choose the colours to be used.
The tattoo artist, Kris, wasted no time to get started. He was friendly and very gentle and put us all at ease right away. First the design was outlined in black, and then colour was added. All the needles are pre-packaged, and there's no possibilty of re-use. Once the tattoo needles are used, they are disposed of. G was very brave through the whole procedure, although I'm not sure if this was a smile or a grimace!
It didn't take long before the outline was completed and the first colour could be applied.
We were there for about 90 minutes. Here's the final product. The arm looks a bit red and sore, and Kris said it would take at least a couple of weeks to heal. G was sent home with strict instructions for care and keeping it clean, and a tube of antiseptic cream to keep the skin soft. She couldn't wait to get home and show her grandchildren!
People with tattoos usually get a bad rap. Kris was wearing a ton of metal and was quite decorated... well, the bits we could see anyway. I'm sure there were many more bits of Kris that were not available for public view. He was an interesting guy.... easy to chat to and he told us a lot about his experiences in the tattoo shop. Here are his hands ( photo from Depression Ink website).
Tattoos are not just for tough guy bikers and sailors any more. Even respectable grandmothers in their middle 60s can get tattoos these days. So now you're wondering.... when am I getting my tattoo? Hmmm.... still thinking about it......
Have you got a tattoo?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Kung Hei Fat Choi

The Chinese New Year of the Dragon started on Monday 23 January with celebrations throughout the large Chinese community in the Toronto area. I went to Pacific Mall to take in some of the local culture.

Pacific Mall is huge, I mean really huge. And there are over 500 individually owned stores selling anything and everything. Cell phones, computer parts, clothing, shoes, Chinese medicine, Chinese DVDs, jewellery.... you name it, it's for sale. (Most of the time legal, sometimes not so legal, as in the case of pirated movies for sale. Just ask the local RCMP.)

 Lots of places to get Asian food and drink. And lots of Chinese families enjoying lunch in the second level food area.

 But I didn't go there to shop or to eat. I wanted to see the New Year celebrations. The stage was set with a large golden dragon hovering above it.
After some Chinese pop songs that everyone but me knew, and some encouraging words from local dignitaries and government representatives, the show began with Chinese drumming.
And then, the stars of the show, the Lion Dance, accompanied by loud drumming and clashing of cymbals to frighten away any evil spirits that might be lurking.
The lions danced to the rhythm of the drums, eventually being fed lettuce leaves symbolising good luck and a new start to the New Year. Hidden in the lettuce is the red "Lucky money" envelope. The lettuce was scattered among the crowd for good luck, and then the God of Good Fortune arrived to give out more red envelopes. That's when I left.... I just didn't want to be caught in the crush.

People born in the Year of the Dragon are said to be confident, hardworking and always strive to be at the top. They are full of energy, determined and will inspire other people, dislike routine and are excited by new projects. They show loyalty to friends, and are popular and fun-loving.

Are you a Dragon? Not me, I'm a Rooster. Kung hei fat choi!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sea Horse

An unfortunate pony fell down a cliff face in Wales and was trapped in the cold water in a small rocky cove. The pony would certainly have drowned but for the rescue efforts of the local RNLI lifeboat crew.

Here's the video:

And here's the article from the Telegraph newspaper:

Two lifeboat crews were involved in the rescue after the animal became stuck on a tiny shale beach surrounded by rough waters in Ceibwr, Moylegrove on Sunday morning.
Using a head collar from the pony's owner, two crew members waded to the rescue.
After several failed attempts to capture the frightened animal, they managed to harness it and lead it out of the cove swimming behind a lifeboat.
However, upon reaching Ceibwr beach the tired animal broke free once more prompting another round of dangerous attempts to ensnare it.
Once recaptured the pony was loaded into a waiting horsebox and driven back to her owner's farm to recover from her ordeal. 

A very lucky pony.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

More Bad Spelling

Find the spelling mistake.
Probably just a simple typo, but it's been like that all last week.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE! STOP THE PRESSES! I drove past the sign today and the spelling mistake has been corrected..... maybe they read my blog?????

Sunday, 15 January 2012

T'was a Braw, Bricht, Moonlicht Nicht....

.... and indeed it was braw for our Rabbie Burns Night Dinner, it was -12C outside.

Scotland's favourite son and poet, Rabbie Burns, was born in Alloway, Scotland, on January 25, 1759, and this year celebrates 253 years since his birth. He died in Dumfries, Scotland, on July 21, 1796.

Robert Burns' acquaintances held the first Burns' supper on July 21, the anniversary of his death, in Ayrshire, Scotland, in the late 1700s. The date was later changed to January 25, which marks his birthday. 

And what's the best way to celebrate a birthday? Well, have a party, of course. And that's exactly what Scots all over the world (and wannabe Scots, like me) do every January.

Sorry, no photos of the fabulous food, I was too busy enjoying my dinner to take pictures, but you can see a sample of previous Burns Dinner delights here and here

And it's not only the tradition of food and drink. There's poetry, song and dance too. These young ladies demonstrated the Hornpipe and Highland Dance.
And then it was the turn of the Scottish Country Dance group.... I'm the one behind the camera. We danced the strathspey Peggy Spouse MBE and the reel Mrs MacLeod of Raasay.
The evening culminated with everyone joining in a rousing version of one of Rabbie Burns' best known songs..... Auld Lang Syne. Won't you join us next year? Planning has already started for our Burns Night 2013!

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Wee Beastie

Let me tell you, it's hard work creating an interesting blog post every other day through the month of January. I'm glad I didn't commit to posting daily!
But here's something you don't see every day........ Haggis!

At the moment 25 pounds of yummy Haggis is sitting in a cooler in my garage, waiting to be popped in my oven to be served at tomorrow's Robbie Burns Night dinner.
Yes, I know..... you're going to say that Robbie Burns Night isn't until January 25th. We know that. We just like to celebrate a few days early.... when the Haggis harvest is nice and fresh.

And today was spent preparing the traditional "Tatties and neeps" to accompany the Haggis... that's mashed potatoes and mashed turnips to you Sassenachs.... well, actually I'm a Sassenach too, but don't tell anyone.
There'll be roast beef and horseradish too, and peas and gravy, and cake and Scottish shortbread for dessert.... and then the entertainment. Come back in a couple of days for pictures.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Two Naughty Monkeys....

.... out of the bath and into their PJs.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Dolly Mixture

I've been making some baby quilts recently, and there is always a mixture of colourful fabric scraps leftover, and I hate to throw anything away if it could be useful, so I stitched some of the scraps together to make a little doll quilt.

Dontcha just love the backing fabric? It was a remnant at Fabricland. You'll have to click on the pic to see the details!
O Canada!

Saturday, 7 January 2012


Not really cookies, and not really cake. So they must be Cakies.

One cake mix (I used Duncan Hines chocolate), mix with 1 cup of plain yogurt, and 1 large egg. Add a few chocolate chips if you fancy. Roll spoonfuls of the mixture in icing sugar, and bake on a greased cookie sheet for about 13 - 14 minutes at 350. Some chocolate icing and a sprinkle of nuts will fancy them up a bit, but they're pretty good on their own.

Note to self: I really must stop eating all this good stuff.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Bye Bye Christmas

Christmas is back in the box. Actually, three boxes.
Safely stowed away in the furnace room until needed in 11 months time.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Books Read in 2011

Continuing my New Years blog tradition (started last year and inspired by Dumdad) here are the books I enjoyed in 2011. Authors in red are Canadian. I recommend all these books.... except the ones I didn't finish.

Alligator - Lisa Moore
Good Faith - Jane Smiley

In the Company of the Courtesan - Sarah Dunant
The Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs
Crippen, A Novel of Murder - John Boyne

Family Matters - Rohinton Mistry (2nd reading)
A Map of Glass - Jane Urquhart

The Accidental - Ali Smith (weird)
Clara Callan - Richard B Wright
Adultery - Richard B Wright

Sacred Hearts - Sarah Dunant
How Did You Get This Number? - Sloane Crosley (started but did not finish, can't remember why)
Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger

The Red Leather Diary - Lily Koppel
Exit Music - Ian Rankin
Border Crossing - Pat Barker
Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson (love her books)

When Will There be Good News? - Kate Atkinson (2nd time reading this)
Any Known Blood - Lawrence Hill

Burning Bright - Tracy Chevalier
The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels
Moby Duck - Donovan Hohn

Echo Park - Michael Connelly
Ape House - Sara Gruen
The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein (brilliant, everyone should read this book, I loved it!)

Arthur and George - Julian Barnes

The Other Hand - Chris Cleave ( also previously read under it's N. American title, Little Bee)
Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks

Perfume, The Story of a Murderer - Patrick Suskind
October - Richard B Wright
Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Currently on the bedside table: Turn Right at Machu Picchu - Mark Adams

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Two Thousand and Twelve is here!

Well, it's here.... Two Thousand and Twelve. WOW! Or is it Twenty Twelve?
Can you believe it was TWELVE years ago that we were all so paranoid about Y2K? Amazing!

My girlfriend G came over, we went to visit YoungerSon's family (G insists on having her baby-cuddling fix) and then we headed off to dine in splendour at Swiss Chalet. OK, maybe not actual splendour, but the food is always good there. And I had a Swissie's gift card to use up which made the food taste even better.

And then we went home to open a bottle of wine, leaf through some quilt and sewing magazines, and watch a movie. And the movie? One of my very favourites.......
It may be almost 20 years old but it's still a brilliant piece of movie making, and G hadn't seen it before (I have seen it at least 10 times) so she hooted with laughter all the way through. Maybe we could make Priscilla a New Years Eve tradition????

Then we toasted the New Year in with another glass of wine, watched the shenanigans in Times Square on TV for a while, and then bedtime. Then a leisurely bacon and eggs breakfast this morning before G headed out to pick up her granddaughter.

A great way to start the new year.... didn't have to drive in bad weather, didn't have to avoid drunks on the road, just relax, put your feet up on the coffee table and enjoy. Happy New Year!