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

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Break

Today marks the start of a 10 Day Hiatus from work for me.  It feels kind of strange to actually have a week off from work without having any real plans made other than:

  • Painting and re-organizing our bedroom (however hubby will be doing the majority of this task so I suppose its not really on my list of plans).  My only task is to be on the look out for a nice chair. I will try and take a before and after photo for the 2 of you who might be interested.
  • Cooking an Easter dinner for my family and Beryl.
  • A long over-due hike in Yorkshire Dales with the Gallivan's and our dogs.  Fingers crossed it warms up a little bit.
  • A little bit lot of working out.
Last weekend I didn't make it to Nottingham due to the inclement weather, however not getting away on Saturday morning meant I got to spend a little bit of extra time with my most favourite boy in the whole world: 

Doesn't he make you just want to pick him up and cuddle the chubby cheeks right off of him?

  He's an excellent little snoozer as you can see. 

Seriously, this boy is the biggest time waster on the planet when it comes to me and his Grandy.  Part of me can't wait until he's old enough to enjoy Easter Egg Hunts. 

Oh and on Saturday afternoon I got the call that my dad had been taken into the hospital after suffering a mild heart attack in the early hours of the morning.  He was released yesterday and I'm relieved he's OK.  I'm sure he was given fair warning by the health care workers that he needs to make a serious life-style change.  Fingers crossed he does this time, as this was his 2nd strike and we all know how that mantra can go. 

My Mom and sister Stacy are travelling to Ontario to have Easter with my sister Tawny and her family. I know Mom will enjoy seeing our little Clara hunt for her Easter Eggs.  I hope to see lot's of pictures! 

I also hope you have a lovely Easter and partake in a little bit of chocolate. Although Jesus is the reason for this season as well, the Easter Bunny deserves his recognition too don't you think? 

Happy Easter Everyone     

Friday, March 22, 2013

That Friday Feelin

Last night Andy was going to be home late so I made myself a chicken stir fry for dinner which I really enjoyed.  I much prefer to each chicken and vegetables over almost any other food.  Well besides pasta, I love pasta but it's something I rarely eat. 

After I'd eaten I decided to make some chocolate snowballs. 

The healthy version:

These are made with almonds and dates;  they are gluten and dairy free as well so just about anyone can eat them provided they don't have a nut allergy. 

This week hasn't been as productive as I would have liked; I've been a bit lazy and I've let myself down in more ways than one but I'm not giving myself too hard of a time over it.  I can't stay mad at anyone for very long, least of all myself.  Life's too short.

I have a busy weekend ahead of me; tonight baby boy is coming to sleep over with us and he and his Grandy will take me to the station in the morning so I can catch the train to Nottingham to spend time with my adorably loquacious niece. 

Sunday is Dawn's birthday so I will have to make sure I get back in time to go have a little celebration with her.  Which puts me in a bit of a predicament.  Remember that post I did last month where I confessed to the fact that my pal Sarah and I had fell into a vat of champagne and nearly drowned in it?  Well since that weekend (tomorrow it will be four weeks) I haven't touched wine.  Not one glass.  Come on, pick yourself up off the floor I'm not done this post yet.... I know how surprising this must be to you because in recent years wine has become one of my four food groups. And I know it was champagne and not wine that we'd over-indulged in, but since then I told myself I was going to lay off the wine and see how long I could go without breaking open a bottle.  Perhaps until Easter, a sort of delayed Lenten sacrifice.  Dawn thinks it's funny when we get together on a weekend afternoon and actually have coffee. So I will have to see what happens this Sunday afternoon. Perhaps we can have a glass of cider. 

It's not been as hard as I'd though, kind of like the time I kicked my diet coke addiction. I did tell you that I don't drink diet coke on a daily basis any more right? I don't even have it in the house. Seriously, and not because if it's there I will have to have it.  That only applies to chips and cake.  It's the same with the wine - there's plenty of it in my wine rack but it doesn't even call my name when I'm in the living room watching Stella. I know, right?  I'm  not the raging alcoholic I thought I was.

However like with my diet coke, I don't plan on never drinking wine again;  Sorry but I love my summer afternoons/evenings in the garden with my pal and a glass or two of crisp, cold pinot grigio.  Just like the times when I grab a sandwich from the local deli and enjoy it with a cold can of diet coke. It just has to happen from time to time. I don't believe in giving up something you love for ever.  Everything in moderation works for me. 

They are calling for dodgy weather in these parts this weekend;  I don't know what's happened to the spring that England used to experience but here's hoping it's a good weekend even if the weather is a stubborn mule. 

I hope you enjoy your weekend too, and wherever you are I hope you at least see the sun.  I'm beginning to forget what it looks like.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

This past weekend was the kind I really enjoy.

I managed to get in a couple of great workouts as well as spend some time pottering about in the kitchen. Yup, that's my idea of a good weekend.  I'm not even going to apologise for boring you.  Be warned that the latter part of this post will be spent telling you about how fantastic my dog is. 

I made home made rolls for the first time; These are Hawaiian rolls made with crushed pineapple - you can't really taste the pineapple but it gives them a nice sweetness (I only tried a corner off of one though so I'm not really in a position to properly critique).  

I'm not Irish, but being from Nova Scotia and having the family I do, I was raised to celebrate acknowledge St Paddy's Day.  Years ago I would head into the city dressed in something green for more than a few beers and a jig or two but I've outgrown that.  Ok, maybe I haven't really, it's just not the done thing in this part of the world. However I was pleasantly surprised when Andy and I went to our local pub for dinner last evening and found it all decked out in shamrocks; they were even playing Irish music which was the real shocker.  The barmen, Anthony and Rob kept fiddling with the sound.  I laughed and cheered when Anthony turned it up and Andy cheered when Rob would turn it down.  He's just so old English sometimes.

So here was my contribution to the day they call the 'Most Friendly' of the year. 

Chocolate Guiness Cupcakes 

I made a batch of 48, most of which were given away as I'm trying to maintain a healthy diet.  After icing that many cupcakes I didn't feel like arranging them for a picture so my apologies for the lack of imagination.  I know a lot of the appeal with food is in the presentation but if you tried one you'd forget about that. Honestly; they are scrummy; Unlike the buns, you can take my word for it.

Yesterday my friend Alison had a 'Birthday Party' for her Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer (dog) Seda who turned 3.  Now before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out.  Alison goes dog training with Seda on a Wednesday evening and this was something similar for her friends and & their dogs that consisted of various games, mostly based on agility and their ability to follow instruction. Molly rocked the party games, especially Musical Chairs and Pass the Parcel (which we won). We came 3rd at Musical Chairs (you have to get your dog to sit & stay before you can grab your seat).  We had fun although Molly was a bit confused at first but still followed my instructions (which she will usually do anyway, especially if there is a treat to be had).  

The agility games were great fun and Molly did brilliantly despite all the distractions; it was loud and a bit boisterous at times. She got a little bit obsessed once or twice with the smoked sausage treats Alison had in her pocket which were obviously way better than the hypo-allergenic organic treats in my pocket. I wish in some ways I'd taken my girl training years ago.  She would have been a real pro. 

Dog party or not, I was a very proud Mama; Molly was so well behaved and clever and aside from nearly taking Ali's fingers off in her quest to get the sausage (her manners are something we continue to work on but then again, a lab will be greedy). All told, she did very well for being the oldest dog in the group (not that anyone could believe that she was coming up for 8 next month). I'm not even sorry if I'm making you gag by constantly bragging about Molly, but she earned it.  My dog rocks.     

Ali and Molly (with the toy she won for being so obedient). 

Saturday, March 09, 2013


Today my beautiful Mom turns 65

Throughout my life I have often heard the statement 'You are just like your mom'. 

As far as I'm concerned, it's the best compliment I could receive.

Growing up most of my friends told me how lucky I was to have her for a mom, but they weren't telling me something I didn't already know.

Most of my cousin's tell me she is their favourite Aunt.

Just about every child I have ever known instantly falls for her, including our boys.  Even Cameron who came to visit with us last summer fell hard for her.  No surprise there.

She is the absolute best mother I could have been given in this life. Completely.

Thank you for being the woman you are and for teaching me to be the woman I've grown into. 

Happy 65th Birthday Mama.  I love you with all of my heart.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up

Well here we are again at Friday.  The week has been a pretty good one and despite the fact my exercise goals took another hit due to the fact that my lower back has been in spasms for most of the week.  However I'm optimistic that today is a new start.  Hopefully by the end of the day my back will still be ok and I can make it to the gym.

This is what's been going on in the last week:

  • I've managed to plan a few healthy meals and cook for both Andy and myself this week;  Yesterday I cooked a ham in our slow cooker and served it up cold alongside potatoes dauphinoise for Andy and Tasha.  I cubed up a few slices for myself and added them to a huge spinach salad, which I really enjoyed.  I also made some turkey chili  chock full of vegetables for our dinner this evening which I'm really looking forward to.  I love chili. Andy will probably want a baked potato with his but I will eat mine all on it's own.  Lately I've been making big pots of veggie chilli, which I seem to enjoy even more than meat chili, which is a bonus as it's super nutritious.
  • Kate Middleton visited our town on Tuesday.  Surprisingly it made international news by putting our grubby little town on the map, even if momentarily.  I love how she went to the local fire house. Andy's cousin is a fire-fighter and snapped this photo:
The Fire Chief at least looks pretty impressed.  

And on Tuesday night our little snuggle-bum came down for a visit with his mum and dad who were on the scrounge for some food.

This child is a massive time waster. 
He pulls the most crazy faces; something tells me this boy isn't going to take himself too seriously. 

I love how they will sit side by side with only the slightest bit of curiosity toward each other;  Molly seems to have become resigned to the fact that the little ones are here to stay (Daisy didn't give her any other option as she was determined to make Molly love her).  I think the dog is just relived that Jayden doesn't constantly follow her around seeking hugs and will only reach out to touch her foot on occasion.  For the time being the baby is more interested in pulling my hair. 

  • After a lot of thought, I made a major decision this week to quit my gym;  I spend £40 a month on a membership that I don't utilise enough to warrant paying that price.  It would be different if I was dedicated and attended  4 or 5 times a week but it's time to be honest - I don't; I'm lucky if I get there twice.  Today I will put in my three month notice and after that I will likely sign up at another local gym that will only cost me £16 a month.  I also plan to start a running program again as well as getting back to doing a lot of other outdoor activities. Besides, I always have my Ripped in 30 and 30 Day Shred videos to fall back on  for building/maintaining muscle (which has proven to work for me more than the gym ever has).  I will see how it goes;  There is nothing stopping me from going back to the gym I've been a long-standing member of, should I change my mind.

It's UK Mother's Day this weekend and both Andy and I are looking forward to a quiet one;  we are hopeful that the weather will soon turn so we can begin getting out on hike's again.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Looking for the right balance...

I've been bursting all weekend to let you know that the Oreo Mint Ice-cream I made for Andy turned out brilliantly.  Just goes to show what happens when you actually do a bit of reading before you start a project.  One thing I have to remember for the next time is to ensure I make the ice-cream about 8 hours before it's meant to be enjoyed and then serve it.  On Friday morning after being frozen all night, it was absolutely terrific, frozen to a perfect, creamy texture.  However by the evening, after being in the freezer 24 hours it looked to have a little bit of freezer burn going on, although Andy said he enjoyed it just the same. Either way, like any hobby or skill I bet I will get better the more I practice. 

We had Jayden for the night with us on Friday.  He is growing like a weed and I think I need to start posting more pictures of him.  He's just too adorable to not share.  I can't believe that he's going to be 1 in April. He's an absolute dream to take care of, sleeping through the night and not waking up till after 8 am, and always smiling.  Sometimes it's very hard to give him back to his mum and dad.  The kids are doing a great job raising him and what's really sweet is that they make sure that he gets to spend lots of time with all the family and his numerous grandparents. (He has a lot as both Alex and Bonnie's parents are divorced. However I suppose this is one of the positives of today's modern family - that many more grandparents to spoil and adore).

Saturday afternoon was spent in the kitchen cooking a three course meal for my in-laws;  between friends and family we are trying our best to keep them occupied on the weekends.  It was a relaxed way to spend the evening and Wendy came armed with a load of cookbooks for me, which was like Christmas in it's own way.  Her only request was that I start baking again and leaving treats out for her and Dave when they come down to walk Molly during the week.  I've been holding off using my lovely new mixer Ruby because I'm trying to cut back on eating foods that aren't helping my waistline but if I'm being completely honest its because I don't want to get her dirty.  Sad.  I know. 

In other news I've been trying to exercise more but it's a bit of a hit&miss saga with me.  I often wish desperately that I could find the motivation that my sister's seem to have in abundance, however it alludes me at ever corner and for some reason I don't think I'm going to find it in the fridge which seems to be where I look the most these days.  Perhaps I should start doing a Weekly Accountability Post or set up an exercise/food chart.  I think these sound like great ideas in theory but I have to face it, I'm not a planner. I spend all week sorting charts and diaries at work and like my home life to feel a bit more relaxed.  

There has to be a happy medium somewhere and I'm sure I will find it eventually.  I probably feel a bit less motivated at this very moment because I have a dry, sore throat and just want to lay down and read my book.