A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 10: Favourite Outfit and Day 11: Recent Picture of Yourself (Yes I've combined two again, I'm way behind in this challenge)

This weekend past found Andy and I in London with our friends Robert and Dawn.  Dawn wanted to share her 50th with us and we were happy to oblige her. It was a fabulous weekend full of extravagance and champagne fueled delights. It wasn't like any other visit I've made to London (and many of these trips have been memorable for various reasons) and I honestly say I think it's spoiled me for any other weekends that might be spent in the Big Smoke.  It was absolutely amazing and because the four of us travel so well together, we intend to to it again next year.  Maybe not the same city, but the same sort of mini-break, for sure. 
A trip to the theatre followed by cocktails at The Savoy (one of the most stunning hotels I've ever been in) gave us the opportunity to wear my most favourite outfit at the moment.  I have only worn it twice, because it's not 'practical' but by God it makes me feel a million dollars;  like no other outfit I wear.  It's a blue dress kindly loaned to me by my baby sister and my hot pink, high heels that I absolutely adore.

And here is a very recent picture of me taken with Dawn
(on the Friday night before Les Mis)

I think we both look awesome if I say so myself... and no way does my gorgeous friend look 50 eh?

Of course I have a couple of favourite 'every day' outfits but I thought this was much more interesting. 

Here is another recent picture of us where I'm in one of my other favoured ensembles:

Nothing like a great glass of champagne in St Pancras Station next to the Eurostar, how dreadfully civilized.

 (I will do a photo blog soon of our London trip, as requested :)


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Days 8 & 9 Combined (a picture of my room & favourite flower)

I love Gerbera’s. Especially a single one in a simple little vase, or a bunch of multi-coloured ones clumped together in a big vase on a tabletop. I think they give a burst of joy to any arrangement of flowers they are added to and I love how they come in such vibrant colours.
However at this time of year I like nothing better than a big bunch of tulips in my kitchen or, like at the moment a handful of daffodils on my dining room table. Nothing says spring is here like tulips and daffodils and at the moment, these gorgeous flowers are springing up all over the town. It’s truly my most favourite time of the year in England, spring.

Because I don’t feel like taking a picture of my ‘room’, (I'm assuming this would be my bedroom and as it's a little untidy at the moment) I’m going to blend challenge 8 (A Picture of Your Room) and 9 (Favourite Flower) and post a picture of our dining room, because not only are we pleased with the way we have chosen to decorate it, it features a bunch of fresh cut daffodils. 

I don't know about you all, but I'm ready for spring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day Seven: Favourite TV Show

Warning: this a compilation of sorts.

One of my favourite TV shows ever is linked with one my favourite memories of my Nan. I’ve mentioned before on this site that I used to spend many a Saturday night with my grandmother watching the Golden Girls. I baby-sat a lot for my aunt and because Nanny lived there it worked out well because not only did I get some extra money, it was an added bonus to spend time with my Nan whilst we nearly cried with laughter over the antics of the blue-rinse brigade. That show had a charm about it that many struggle to find these days. It makes me sad that Betty White is the only Golden Girl left, although I adore her strength of character and ability to still make me laugh at the age of 89. My grandmother would be proud of Betty.

I was a late comer to the Sex and the City Phenomenon but let me tell you, when I moved over here and realized it was on every night, I was quickly converted. I love everything about that program and never tire of re-runs.

I only own one full box set of a series, and this of course is Six Feet Under. SFU is probably one of the best shows in the history of television; the only disappointing factor for me was Season 3, it started to lose me throughout the first six episodes or so. Thank God I persevered. What definitely makes this the best series for me to date besides the writing and acting is the way they ended the show. I have never, ever seen a finale that has left me with such an emotive response. It was absolute brilliance and so in keeping with the format of the whole show.

My favourite current program is another show that I was a late comer to, yet isn’t surprising as it’s by the creator of Six Feet Under… True Blood. I kid you not. I’ve loved vampire lore since long before Buffy or Twilight ever came on the scene (both of which I am not a fan of… sorry. I’ve tried but Bella makes me want to drive a stake through my own heart). I soaked up all the Anne Rice books and respective films, and adored The Lost Boys; I used to sit in my room and listen to the Lost Boys record dreaming of Kiefer Sutherland. A friend suggested I check out True Blood after she heard I was a Supernatural fan. She assured me it was the best ‘supernatural’ show going, much better than Vampire Diaries (which I don’t watch) and even Supernatural, which I love to watch if for no other reason than the beauty of Sam and Dean Winchester (don’t ask me to chose between them because I won’t). My friend was right… I love it and I hope it goes the distance and doesn’t end after four or five seasons like so many favoured shows have done in recent years.

A few of my other favourite shows are/have been:

Dexter (this could tie for first place, seriously)
Grey’s Anatomy
Lost (although it ran away from its viewers at times)
Prison Break
3rd Watch (One of my biggest disappointments was missing the final season due to my move to Britain).
Men in Trees (I was so annoyed this was cancelled after two seasons)

High on my list of shows to embrace are: Mad Men (I have the first season) and Modern Family.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day Six: Favourite Song (and no its not Super Freak)

I'm kind of looking forward to getting past the first 3rd of this challenge as so many of the questions are about 'favourites' and I have a hard enough time deciding what I'm going to wear in the morning and although I do have a lot of clothes, I don't have nearly as many clothes as I do choice in music, food, movies or books.

I'm not the only one with more than a few favourite songs.  I think we all have a certain song or two, when upon hearing it will be transported back to a moment in time that we had forgotten all about.  Last year when I was home with mom for her lumpectomy, I introduced Stacy to Florence and the Machine.  One of my all time favourite songs from last year is this amazing band's 'You've Got the Love'.  We listened to that song so much that it reached a point where if I began to belt out the opening line, Stacy would follow with the 2nd verse and before long, Mom was piping in with the verse 'you've go the love I need to see me through...'  The song was meaningful for so many reasons and I will always smile when I hear it.  Always. 

Mr. Jones by Counting Crows always takes me back approximately 17 years ago to a fun night at a friends house, one where my sister had unexpectedly joined us.  Tawny was never a very big party girl (not in my presence anyway) and I can still remember her sitting on the couch, drink in hand chatitng with whomever was next to her; when the opening bars of this song began to play, she started swaying to the music and singing along and from that moment seemed more at ease and began to start enjoying herself. I love that song if for no other reason than it makes me think of her.

You just need mention 'Faith' by George Michael and I feel like calling my friend Cat.  That's a story for just me and her though ;)

As with my sister's favourite choice in song for her challenge over at  Five Days in May, Blue Rodeo is and always has been one of my favourite groups.  I adore Jim Cuddy's voice and can listen to him for hours.  A few of my best loved songs are sung by this guy.  My most favourite though, hands down, is Bad Timing.  I adore this song. For many different reasons.  As soon as I hear the opening bars, the hair on my arms stand up. It's beautiful and special to me for a variety of reasons.

Two other songs that tie for second place are:  Concrete Blonde's 'Joey' and Live's 'Lightening Crashes'.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day Five: Favourite Food

Ok... I'm going to make this one relatively short. I love food. You put almost anything in front of me and I'm going to eat it, with the exception of a few foods you couldn’t tempt me to eat, not for $1000… like foie gras for instance. No way, uh uh. I feel bad enough at times that I’m an eater of meat but I do have my limitations. Oh, and I won’t eat liver or any other organs. Yuck.

I prefer foods that are healthier for you and don’t leave you feeling stuffed and uncomfortable like salads and grilled vegetables, however sometimes I just love a plate of fish and chips.

Andy and I love to travel and one of the best parts of travelling is trying international foods. I love just about anything Mediterranean, especially Greek food. Slouvaki, Stifado, olives, hummus, feta you name it. I love it and nothing beats sitting in a taverna in Greece sipping on a cold Mythos and eating olives and Greek salad.

I haven’t yet been to Thailand but it ranks high on my list of places to see. And boy will I have myself a good time whilst there, trying out all the cuisine on offer. Oh boy. I’m drooling just thinking of it. Andy and I must seriously consider this amazing country as soon as possible.

Ok… I know as usual I’m supposed to only name one, which is just ridiculous. So, I have to say that my favourite foods are as follows:

Stir Fry (just about any) and Thai Green Curry with Chicken or Shrimp

Of course, you give me a dish of homemade guacamole, made from a recipe my sister Tawny originally shared, (it’s thick and chunky), a bowl of home-made pita chips and a glass of wine and I couldn’t be happier.

My little sister took me to an incredible restaurant when I was last in Nova Scotia, called the Wooden Monkey. We had this and it was absolutely To.Die.For

Spicy stirfry made with vegetables and tofu

Back on Baby Duty

In doing this 30 Day Challenge, I’m being neglectful of other events that have been happening; like the birth of my beautiful niece Daisy, who was born on 7th February and is absolutely beautiful; I have yet to post a photo of our little beauty (on this site anyway) which is tardy of me. I’ve been lucky enough to have spent time with her on three separate occasions, despite being a 1.5 hour drive away. Alison and Scott are coming up again on Sunday and Ali and the baby will spend three nights with us. This is the second time they have come for a few days, and although I have to work everyday this time around, I don’t mind because I pretty much get to be on baby duty after I get home and have fed everyone.
Daisy Amber

I love helping out and spending time with this little darling throughout the night, feeding her and seeing her off to sleep. And because it’s not a permanent situation I don’t worry so much about being tired. It’s worth it to spend time with the baby as well as give her tired mama a break.

When Alison announced she was pregnant one of the first things she said to me was that she wanted to ‘share’ this baby with me. I was touched and honoured and understood why she was saying this to me although I didn’t set my heart on it too much as a lot of women expect to be a certain way with their first born, however it doesn’t always turn out that way. So far, Ali has proven true to her word. She and Scott have said that after themselves, they want me to be the most predominant person in Daisy’s life and they know they can count on me to help out in anyway I can. (Both sets of Grandparents live over an hour away; Scott’s parents are in ill health, and Wendy and Dave, although delighted to share in all of Daisy’s experiences, aren’t up to chasing toddlers around.) I’ve already been booked for a weekend in April, and again in November and can’t wait for all the times in between. It’s lovely that Wendy is only up the road and I can take the baby for a walk to Grandma’s in the pram.

I’m blessed enough to have two small nieces and one little nephew, (and of course there is the almost grown up Jake), however because our gorgeous Clara lives nearly 5000 miles away and little Archie is looked after by his mama’s side of the family, I don’t get to have as close a bond with them as I would have liked.

Jake and his little brother Archie

Our beautiful Clara modelling her UK fashion :)

The love will be no more or no less but I’m so pleased and excited to finally have a little child in my life again that I get to help take care of on a regular basis. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day Four: Favourite Book

For any of you who know me well you know that I read.  A lot.  Both mom and dad are avid readers;  mom read to all of us children from the very beginning and because of this we are a family of readers. I've been reading novels since I was approximately eight years old.  I think I'd finished nearly every Nancy Drew book by the time I was ten and of course I loved the Beverly Cleary books based on Henry Higgins and Ramona.  Of course as I grew older I moved on to more racy authors like Judy Blume and VC Andrews. It's a rare day when I haven't read at least one chapter out of whatever book I might be reading.   I don't go anywhere without a book in my bag.  Ever.  As seems to be the pattern with this challenge, I don't have just one favourite book but because I have to pick one, I chose this one:

I first read this book because it was a course requirement in grade nine.  I thought it would be on par with every other boring book we used to have to endure at school however I was sorely mistaken.  I was engrossed from the first chapter and remember reading it even when I was over at my best friend's house, hanging out in her room while she was preoccupied with talking to some boy on the phone.  Yup.. I'm serious.  It affected me deeply way back when, and it still does, every time I read it.

Of course, I love just about anything by Ken Follett and a couple of my very favourite books are written by him:


Ken has an amazing way of imparting very important historical moments in a fictional story that captivates me throughout the whole book.  Better than any history lesson I've ever sat through.

Oh, and give me any Penny Vincenzi, especially 'The Best of Times'

Here are just a few other of my favourite books:  Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, The Bridges of Madison County, The Time Travellers Wife, Sunshine and The Book of Negroes.

I could go on forever, honestly. But I will spare you the tedium... and only because I'm considerite about these things. 

I don't think I will reach my 52 books in 52 weeks goal this year, but that doesn't mean I won't try. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 3: Favourite Musician

Questions about music are almost on par with favourite movies when it comes to the level of difficulty for answering. I know most people have at least one or two individual artists or bands that they are absolutely nuts about, without doubt. God forbid you ever say a word against these musical geniuses, rock legends or whatever you want to call them, because they are iconic God’s in many a person’s mind. Like Duran Duran used to be for me many years ago. And fair enough. However I don’t have one group that I’m passionate about above all others. I love many different artists for various reasons.

I’m going to break away for a moment to share with you something that annoys the hell out of me when it comes to the music world. Groups such as The Wanted, The Backstreet Boys or Girls Aloud are constantly referred to as Boy/Girl Bands and I don’t get it. You never see these ‘bands’ playing an instrument. Sure they sing, they might sometimes even toss out an interesting dance move or two, but I thought a ‘band’ pertained to musicians who actually play instruments, not just sing and dance… bands such as the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi or Doughtry. I can only assume that they chose to use the word ‘band’ as Boy Band sounds more catchy than Boy Group.

I have always most admired musicians who can not only play an instrument and sing extremely well but whom also write their own music or lyrics. If you are on stage singing songs that other people wrote and dancing to choreography put together by someone else then you are just a singer/entertainer. Period. And I’m sorry, but some of these so called entertainers can’t even sing overly well… entertainers like Brittany Spears. How she could ever be compared to an actual singer like Christina A is beyond me (I only use this example as I know they have been compared in the past). Sorry if this upsets you and you decide not to come back, but so be it; if this is the case then you have terrible taste in music and it’s just as well that we part ways now ;)

Some of my all time favourite musicians are: Alanis Morrisette, Three Doors Down, Blue Rodeo, Fleetwood Mac, The Guess Who and Jimmy Rankin. More recently, Paolo Nutini and Mumford and Sons have caught my attention in a big way. I absolutely love their albums. Although he got his start from American Idol, I love Chris Doughtry. Jack Johnson, James Blunt, Ingrid Michaelson and yes, Tim McGraw and Brooks & Dunn (I am a country girl at heart after all) are always on my playlists. I’ve come to love a group introduced to me by my sisters, Vampire Weekend – they have a fantastic sound to run to at the gym. Hey Rosetta is quickly winning me over as well.

It should come as no surprise that Pink holds the position as runner up to my most favourite musician at the moment:


I honestly don’t think I need to explain my reasons for this. Especially if you have listened to her new album (21), witnessed her performance on the Brit Awards or heard her in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. And I’m proud of the fact that I’ve loved this musician from her first release a few years back, not just since she has sky-rocketed into fame after performing Someone Like You at the Brit Awards. She is one talented lady with a huskily amazing voice to match.

Oh, and I don’t think anyone could No one could ever say my taste in music wasn’t eclectic.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day Two: Favourite Movie*

These questions are never easy for me.  I mean honestly, how are you supposed to pick just one?  I've been thinking of this answer off and on most of the night.  Would I go with my all time favourite movie from when I was much younger?

The problem is there were two movies I watched at least 10 times over, if not many more:


I love both of these for various reasons. 

Stand by Me because its a damn good film and not just because I had a major crush on both Kiefer Sutherland and River Phoenix when I was younger.  It's just a very good film.  The acting was superb especially when you consider the cast consisted of predominately teenagers.


The Princess Bride... well I love the quirky spin on this story about true love, princesses and torture.  I can tell you what most of the characters are going to say before they say their lines themselves. I love it that much. 

I have also read both books these movies are based on... again, more than once.  

If it came down to it though, I would have to say the winner for my all time favourite is Stand By Me. 

A few other movies that stand at the top of my list:

Sense & Sensibility
The Shawshank Redemption
Pulp Fiction
The Bridges of Madison County
Reservoir Dogs
Burn After Reading
The Truman Show
The Usual Suspects
Bruce Almighty
Notting Hill
The Lost Boys
Thelma & Louise
The Mexican
Pretty Woman  
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (I forgot to mention Johnny Depp as one of my fav actors in my first post)

and of course more recently:
The King's Speech and 127 Hours

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'll jump on board with this too

My sister over at Five Days in May has decided to do the 30 Day Challenge.   I think its a good idea as it will keep things light, and possibly open up the lines for discussion or even encourage a few of you to do this yourselves.  I wasn't going to proceed at first because some of the questions will be difficult to answer, as will finding the time.  However it wouldn't be called the 30 Day Challenge if it was going to be easy to come up with answers, find pictures, etc.  It would be called the 30 Day Ride in the Park.  So I will give it a go.  I can't promise to commit to 30 days in a row (unlike when I did my 30 Day Shred) as I have a few events coming up that will take me away for a few days at a time, however I will not quit until I've done the whole challenge.  If nothing it will up the number of posts I do this year because I've been sadly negligent so far.

So here goes nothing:

* Day One:  Favourite Actor

Most of you who know me well will probably expect me to say Brad Pitt. I even expect me to say Brad Pitt.  I've been watching this man from the beginning in such films as A River Runs Through It and Thelma and Louise.  (Both excellent movies) 

Brad has been in some amazing films throughout his career and I'm not ashamed to say I've watched most of them.  However, I won't go see a movie just because he is the head-liner.  So I have to pause and think of which actor is most likely to motivate me enough to see a film for the sheer fact that he is in it and the result is:

Oh who the hell am I trying to kid?  

It's still Brad Pitt.

Lame I know.  But I can't lie to you or myself.  There are so many wonderfully talented actors out there; ranking high on my list are Colin Firth (amazing), Bruce Willis (I don't feel any need to explain this one), Ed Norton, Kiefer Sutherland (one of my all time favourites), John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman (for that voice if nothing else).

Brad isn't even a player in most of my favourite movies.  But there it is...  Brad Pitt.  His acting has been less than stellar in a few movies like Troy (but if he takes off his shirt I tend to lose sight of the acting ability, and yes, I am that shallow). When I think of some of the amazing roles he's excelled at, in films such as Burn After Reading, Fight Club, Ocean's 11, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and there you have my answer.  Plain and simple.  And as mentioned in my Troy blurb... he's pretty.  And we know how I am when it comes to the pretty fellas; especially ones who can act with or without their shirt.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It's probably for the best that I won't have to deal with this at 60 (see, there is always a silver lining)

Last night I got really angry and upset and posted about my frustration with our 18 year old. I took the post off this morning as I didn’t really mean it. Well at the time I did however it wasn’t the proper forum for venting my anger at the stressed out and obnoxious teenager that is currently residing in the bedroom next to mine. I’ve pretty much shied away from posting about the trials of having an 18 year old, very strong willed, coming of age man in the house. One who knows everything so there is no need to try to convince him otherwise; forget about trying to point out alternative avenues to assist him achieve his goals in life and ease some of his burden. However this post isn’t really about him, it’s more about how we try and deal with the emotional luggage. Especially when one moment he is coming to me and spilling his heart out over his angst with a certain girl and the mess that is resulting from said relationship. I listen and advise and cross my fingers that he will make the right decision, however he has to walk his own road and I try not to be too opinionated. I just want him to know we will be waiting for him at the end of the road, no matter what the result. Then on a night like last night after the absolute horrid attitude he gives me, I find it hard to remember a goal I set out for myself during a particularly trying time that was occurring just before Christmas.

I continuously try and remind my husband that he shouldn’t feel so disappointed or let down by the sudden change in his eldest son’s behaviour. Kids go through all kinds of stages. Last July was a real turning point in our relationship with him though and as I mentioned, just before Christmas I’d decided I was done feeling exasperated and annoyed all the time – that was so 2010 and I’ve moved on. I’d decided that if he wants to play in the adult world he has to respect that he will be treated as an adult in all aspects of life, not just the ones he deems appropriate. (Call me hard if you will, I can take it.) However at the same time, it can be very difficult to turn on that 'hard' switch, especially when the 18 year old and I share the odd tender moment that used to be much more commonplace only a year ago. It's even harder to try and live by this motto when his dad and I are trying hard to respect the agreement we arrived at with him a few months ago, yet the lad seems to have forgotten his end of the deal. I’m tired of hearing that I’m ‘moaning’ at him all the time, when all I do is sometimes point out that he isn’t the only one that lives in our house. I’m not about riding kids all the time, however sometimes the boundaries are stretched to the limit and its time to say something. But boy can that kid exaggerate. If one listened to him you’d think I was nagging at him from morning to night, and that is so not the case. However I will spare you the examples as I do have to think of his privacy. See… I’m not that bad. Of course this doesn’t stop me from having a moan to my family, I do need some kind of outlet or one day I might explode. And who wants to clean up that mess?

I know that most parents go through various types of stress during all stages of their children’s lives, especially during the teenage years. You only need ask my mother, who was cursed blessed to have five children, three of whom were all teenagers at once (poor mom). But think about it… at least most parents have had the optimism of planning for and welcoming their children into the world.

A year and a half ago I had the pleasure of sharing in my sister’s joy as she grew ever more pregnant with Clara; I eagerly awaited photos and news of her ever expanding belly and loved chatting with her over how she was taking care of herself, and ultimately her baby. We talked about the impending birth and although it was a bit daunting, it was so exciting because at the end of it all she was going to have a beautiful little baby in her arms that would bring so much light to not only her life, but to all of ours. And how she does.

And now this year the same has happened with my sister-in-law, and once again I have welcomed another beautiful baby niece, Daisy into our family.

I know a lot of new mothers (and fathers) are tired, and that they worry about everything from childcare and sleeping/eating habits to the colour of their child’s poop. (Should it really be that colour green?) Yet this is what children bring – a life time of worry, but a whole world of joy (if you are lucky).

Like my sister(s), I'm sure most of you thought very carefully about and looked forward to the birth of your own child. You got to experience the expectation of a new baby and later of bringing that child home with you. Yes it might have been a shock at first even if you had nine months to get everything ready, but we all know that for most people it is a life changing experience when you first bring a baby home. Yet at the same time you have enjoyed all the little joys and milestones that go with having a new baby and small child. Even though there are plenty of difficult and scary moments, you still get to see that child grow and develop as they smile and toddle around your home. Never mind all the wonderful little cuddles.

Not me... I missed the bus and got morphed into a life with three children who were already past the first grade stage. Luckily for me the youngest was still pudgy with baby fat and so very adorable (for the most part, he still is) although he was only in our home periodically when I first moved here. There are all kinds of benefits to being a step-mom, especially one as hands on as I’ve been. Often the pro’s out weight the cons. But not lately.

I don’t want you to think that this post is about the fact that I don’t have a baby of my own, or is a whinge about having teenage step-children. It’s not. I'm ok now with not having my own baby. I just want those of you with babies and young children to cherish the moments you have with them because when they are older and being very hard on your head, it might help to save your sanity by being able to look back and remember the cherished moments you’ve had with your child; a time when they were grateful for what you could give them and didn’t have expectations of you that far exceed every boundary ever written. It might help during the moments when you would be very happy to vacate the premises permanently. Or worse, when you are up in the middle of the night wondering where they are because they couldn't be bothered to send you a text letting you know they weren't coming home. It’s so exhausting for parents to be kept awake all night by babies who need to be fed, or children who are ill, but at least those children are safe with you at home and look at you like you are the most important person to them in the whole world (because you are). I’ve never experienced this, yet I know it happens; I’ve seen it and have heard most of you talk about it. So cherish it because how the situation changes when they are almost grown and are out at all hours of the night, speak to you like you are dirt, assume the world revolves around them and that your only purpose is be their personal maid, cook and bank machine while not being allowed to have any expectations of them. And when they do show you a glimpse of the kid they used to be and want to open up about their life, you grab on like a starving man drinking water from a dirty puddle of water.

I didn’t get the pleasure of having a baby of my own but I got all the ‘joys’ that come with raising kids and today I wish I had a photo of my chubby baby boy to look back on and ask ‘what the hell happened to my sweet little child?’ . I’m not so cocky or naive enough to think I wouldn’t be going through this if he was born of my own flesh… most kids go through this stage no matter who births/raises them. I know this will pass, I just hope it’s before my husband and I decide to move and forget to tell him where we are going.