Bake Club: The Plan

This is not a black a white photo. 25 cm expected by the end of the day!

It has been quite the week! Watching the election from across the border has been exciting. There will be HUGE ramifications for my province and I laugh as I imagine our premier squirm a bit. His plans will be crushed. All of this makes me so happy today – you could even call it JOY. I have SO many good things happening right now.

My furnace died last week and we were without heat for a week. But the new furnace is so quiet and efficient, it makes me happy.

Work has been stressful. As an event strategist during a pandemic, you can imagine the challenge BUT – Our philanthropic campaign may be the best one yet because we had to imagine new ways of doing something. Coming together as a team has ensured our best creative ideas will be front and centre. I can’t express how excited I am to be apart of it. Do I feel like I am on fire and my desk is on fire and I am floating down the river in a dumpster while its on fire? Heck ya! But Come December 18, I think it will be feel good to relax and see the campaign success behind me.

My oven died in September. The thermostat didn’t shut off and nearly burned the house down. The new oven has a PROVING SETTING! It has easy clean and the inside is BLUE. It is super pretty AND it has convection bake – I tried it and it baked the best peanut butter sandies.

I AM ON VACATION FOR ONE WEEK! We are expecting 25 cm of snow today. It is really pretty outside and the first snowfall always puts me in a Christmassy mood. I am making a list of Christmas baking I want to do. I don’t know if I will get to it all because I AM ON VACATION but I think I will get to a lot it. Having a list makes shopping easy for future visits. Here is the plan:

  • Grandma’s Butter tarts (I wrote to my aunty and she sent me the recipe. These beauties were always made on November 11 – so the family tradition will continue!) This recipe makes EIGHT DOZEN. Obviously this is for sharing…
  • Shortbread cookies
  • Grandma’s Date Squares/Chews with hot pink frosting
  • Mincemeat Tarts (for those who don’t know – they aren’t made with meat – its fruit and a UK thing)
  • Sugar cookies decorated because that is how my aunty did it.
  • Lassy coos (or rather Ginger Sparklers but Lassy Coos is the family name for them)
  • Honey popcorn – this is my recipe I figured out after testing various combinations because Disneyland sold honey popcorn at Pooh Corner and It was the best thing EVER.
  • Gingerbread people – I make these with ribbon strung through and names written on the bellies. There are a couple of new babies in my life so I will make these for them and their sibs.
  • Brownie Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip cookies
  • Nanaimo bars. I have never made these before but what the heck? I learned to make a ton of things this year. what is one more?
  • Magic bars – my mom made these at Christmas and I always loved them. I have never made these either, never to late to try new things.
  • S’mores – this will be a blog post on its own because I have an idea….

Okay, that is a long list. But I am not spending time with friends and family this year for Christmas. I will fill some tins and do a drive by porch visit.

I have a whole week ahead of me to do ONLY FUN THINGS. I can’t wait. I will let you know how the baking goes and tell me what your Christmas plans are going to be.

Meanwhile, things are looking up. Stay healthy everyone!

Hibernate

It’s that time of year where I find myself hunkering down and taking a step back from my busy life. Partly because December is so hectic with gatherings and special events, it’s nice to sit around and expect very little of yourself. It helps that the weather has been a wee bit on the cool side. -51C windchills anyone? The wind has been a tad brisk. Today is the first day we opened the curtains and let the sun in. Why? Normally we keep them shut as an added insulation barrier to the wind that whips out of the north. It is -17C and quite frankly, it feels like spring.

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The view from my home office. 

I read once that how you react to winter is a metaphor for how you react to life. I take it in stride.

Coping with cold does take more effort and thought. For example, I have to plug my car in. Not because it is electric, but because the block heater warms the oil pan and it makes it easier to start. I plug it in when I get home and I also plug it in at work. It adds an extra five minutes each time. Not a huge deal except I am outside struggling with frozen cords praying the end doesn’t snap off like it has before – that is a major hassle if you have never done electrical work before. Things break easily is this type of cold.

Dressing for cold takes thought. I work in a glass building. Sure there is central heat, but it still feels cool. I have a blanket and pashmina at my desk. I wear wool socks, and usually have a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer. When I only have two layers, the blanket comes out for my lap. As I get tired near 3:00 p.m., I find I get cold. Pot of tea and my pashmina help to perk me up. I always wear a scarf and an extra wool scarf for outside. Winter takes effort.

Eating is also a change to the regular. The last thing I want is a salad. Give me hearty soup and crusty bread. Soup for days is my motto. Bread and baked goods make the house smell delicious, warm and welcoming. It is comforting to eat at home when it is cold.

At home, the curtains are drawn and the fireplace is on. Quilts on chairs and sofas to snuggle with in front of the fire while watching tv or reading. The duvet on the beds and long hot showers are the best part. I don’t like going anywhere so I cancel plans and stay home. We have lived through two weeks of this. Now, as a reward the weather is moving up to single negative numbers it will feel like a treat.

Weather in Canada seems to be a competition. The Prairies are better at it than Vancouver, but Newfoundland is better at it than Alberta. When I lived in Yellowknife, NWT, cold and dark was a way of life. Too cold for your car to start but you went to school or work anyway. If you didn’t, you would never get anything done. Same as Edmonton. I missed work once because of a blizzard in 1988. It rained, covered my car in an inch of ice and then it snowed so much it buried my car. It took most of the day to dig my car out. The roads were closed anyway, so there was no way I was getting out of my town to drive into the city. I was late once because my car didn’t start but a new battery helps that from happening again. So this year, that didn’t happen. As a child, I never missed school because schools never closed. It is what it is. Weather is relative. What is hard for us prairie folk is harder for Lower Mainland folk and the thought of surviving winter on the Rock is unfathomable yet here they are, surviving.

Tofino residents were still surfing this week in spite of the fact they walked through the snow to get to the water. I get that. Winter is a metaphor for how you face life. You either hide and complain, or you get out there and enjoy it.

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www.paullevyphoto.com posted on @pacificsufco 

The sun is on its way back to me. It is setting as I leave work now. This makes it feel like spring is coming. It is rejuvenating to see the sun as I warm up my car and unplug my car. Do I hate winter? No. I love the dense sound when it’s cold. The crunch of the snow and event the frosty feeling in my lungs. It makes me feel alive. Cold snaps help me appreciate spring and summer. I am planning my garden and dreaming of my summer vacation. This year I have decided to not plan around anyone. I am taking the vacation I want without accommodating other people. I am spending my one week at a retreat between the Monashee and Cariboo Mountain Ranges and then one week staycation at home hanging out in my beautiful city.

I can’t imagine living somewhere where the four seasons don’t exist. Winter is the perfect time to hibernate, relax and enjoy the cozy warmth of inside and all the great things about home.

Go Home Winter, You’re Drunk

Go Home Winter, You’re Drunk

was the facebook status of one of my friends this morning. I figure this is just par for the course. My week has been difficult having the plague and all and this is the icing on the cake – 15cm of new snow.

This week started off swell! The snow was melting, over a foot of it was gone. I was running WITHOUT cleats! Sure I had to wade through giant glacier fed puddles with huge icebergs floating by, but that was just a minor inconvenience when confronted with the fact that I could run without cleats AND in a t-shirt! All the winter gear got left at home! So freeing and delightful.

Not only is it snowing this morning, my coffee machine broke and it needed tech support. I nearly had to DRIVE for coffee in my jammies. Luckily the phone call to Kuerig’s Brandon sorted things out. Charming southern dude who gave me life this morning. In fact, he gave me enough life to fill two giant travel mugs  – Thanks Brandon!

Meanwhile this is my back yard on April 5th at 11:14 AM – the view from my desk

Go Home Winter, You’re Drunk

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Quite frankly, all of us up here in the Great White North are sick of it. I am not sure why, this is quite typical for us. Perhaps it is because of social media. We can SEE what kind of weather the rest of the world is having and we want some. Bring on Global Warming, I want ocean front property with a citrus grove in my yard. Meanwhile, back to our regularly scheduled winter…

 

 

 
A member of the "Optimalist" heath club hacks a hole into the ice covering a canal near the village of Viazynka tumblr_mbscgjgkVl1qeablwo1_250 20130324-190003 winter-spring-clothing-closets-seasonal-ecards-someecards 181056_10152744308960121_1118041930_n558883_10152722713120005_190268040_n (1)

See Ninja Run

com.tgb.mj250beebdbe3e43_spApparently it is cold right now in North America. Everyone seems to be complaining about colder than normal – what ever that is – temperatures. That is not the case here in Edmonton. It’s cold but be haven’t had a deep freeze that was -30C or colder for a week or more, not that I am complaining! There is a ton of snow and the weather guy says ambiguous things like Snow tapering to Flurries. Oooooooooookaaaaaay. Translation? 5″ of snow by Thursday. Even I have taken a turn shoveling the driveway and I never do. It was always in the back of my mind that it was ‘boy’ work. But truth be told, I was never fit enough.

Until this year.

I have been in training for some runs coming up this summer. I was always a walker and a swimmer, but I have learned running is very different. In some ways it’s easier than walking. A) it’s over quicker and B) it isn’t as painful for my MCL  – weird but my coach told me that is not unusual.

Running has made me stronger. Abs, legs and back all benefit from just running, but the extra stuff I do helps too! How do I know this?

I dropped my eldest of for his Final exam today at his High School. I parked the car, and decided to run in that neighborhood. It is more sheltered than the open fields of my usual trails and the wind is wicked today with windchills reaching -20C. After last week’s Flash Freeze I have been cautious about slipping on the ice. Sure I run with YakTraxRun, a spike and spring combination for my shoes, but with ice-rinks on the roads and sidewalks, I still find myself slipping a bit.

I did a drive through of the neighborhood first so I wouldn’t get lost. I hadn’t explored this place since my grandparents lived here when I was a kid. Good plan too, I got lost. But once I tuned into my Ninja sense of direction it wasn’t a problem.

I ran mostly on the road because there was a good solid snow pack that had my cleats digging in. I was solid. Then came the final half block. This half block was on a major bus route so running on the road was not an option. My foot found ice under the snow, not once but four times! The first time it caught my off guard and I fell. I fell in a weird  Ninja-like way – it was like a plank or a push up. Not a problem, I do those every day. I didn’t hit the sidewalk except for my hands. The next 3 times I slipped I had it under control. I am now fit enough to use muscles to prevent myself from going over! YAY! Ninja Inner thigh magic held me upright. I think I will pay for it tomorrow, but today I am loving my new found strength! Obviously my Ninja skills are paying off.

Not only do I run in Ninja black, I have the skills to terrify the average pedestrian with my Ninja runner moves. Eventually I will be Ninja fast, you will only think you saw something as I run by. But that is a goal for this summer.

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I have a fitness and lifestyle blog here if you wish to take a gander at it. It is running and nutrition reports that keep me on task. You can find the link here.

Throw Back Thursday: The Skidoo Suit

 

All you poor Canadian kids and you northern American kids who survived winters from the 70’s, I feel your fashion shame. For all you greeners and save the planet geeks who know the facts on global warming, let me set you straight. 1972 the scientists announced to the world that we were headed into the next ICE AGE. I know, I know… whatever… Say what you want, but I believed them. For some reason (global warming or ice age part II) the ’70’s were freaking cold and I remember blizzards that lasted for DAYS (1973) and snow drifts that reached half way up the door. Walking to school required a herculean effort and massively strong legs because when you are a kid, deep snow came up to your waist – not lying and I have proof. My mom and her best friend in the 60s:

Winters got worse after that. Then manufacturers decided that kids needed protection from the cold because their parents were going to make them walk to school, up hill both ways, in -40F temperatures. (The uphill both ways was from climbing snowbanks that were the size of Mt. Logan. Up was hard, but down on a toboggan was crazy fun!) Enter the Skidoo Suit:

You will notice it is made of fabric that ATTRACTS SNOW. This was optimum for freezing to death, frost bite and stiff legs. Now there is something call snow suits or snow pants and parkas. Now they come in a variety of colours, not battleship grey, and have tech fabric to repel snow and keep you warm for hours.

The best part of the skidoo suit was the one piece nature and the zipper that would go too high on your neck and catch the skin in the teeth. I still wince at the pain of that. You could never stretch your neck back enough and your mom or granny would catch it every time. It took forever to become completely bundled, so of course you needed to visit the little girls room and unbundle.

Winter is exhausting.

We had a foot of snow drop here yesterday. I don’t wear snow pants any longer, but have long johns, mukluks and a toque. I’m considering snowbirding in southern Italy this year. I don’t think I would need a skidoo suit there.

Welcome to winter!

 

 

I Wonder What My Doppelganger is doing right now.

It can stop snowing already.  To night was Winter Concert night at the local Junior High School. We live close enough to walk. Did I want to? No. Why you ask? It was snowing with a windchill temperature of -33C. I still haven’t found a winter coat I like, so here is me walking in my light fall jacket and shoes. Was I cold, sure but it is my own fault. However, the snow needs to stop. There is no where else to put it. We passed this car in a driveway. They buried their car in an effort to free up some room to walk. Time for public transit. I’m not going to lie. The Snow and cold are bringing me down. Then I sat for two hours at a Jr. High Band concert. I can tell you are jealous of me. You should be. My day was awesome.

As I sat in the freezing cold gym listening to the musical stylings of 12, 13 & 14 year olds, I was thinking about what my doppelganger must be doing at this very moment.

For those of you who don’t know, a doppelganger is a person who looks just like you, but not your biological twin. In fact, they are unrelated.

I met mine in 1990. I was at a shop in Inverness, Scotland, and she was the grocery  cashier. It was a weird and awkward moment. My traveling companion, who I lovingly refer to as Idiot Stick (long story, and yes it is an appropriate nickname) started giggling uncontrollably and kept looking back at her then at me. He looked like he was watching a tennis match. I stood in front of her and we just stared at each other. We never smiled. We just stared. She had the same dark curly hair as me, blue eyes, and the same red cheeks. We couldn’t speak, words just were not there. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was like gazing into a mirror.

My brother claims we had seen her years before while camping in the UK. If it was the same gal, that would be twice in my lifetime of meeting my doppelganger. I’m sure people go their whole life never meeting theirs, and here I am living in Canada, vacationing in Scotland TWICE and meeting her. That is odd enough to call Leonard Nemoy and give him another episode of In Search Of

So as I sat there, listening to the music, my mind started to wonder…I bet she isn’t as cold as me…I bet she is planning a beach holiday…I bet she is dating George Clooney on the sly…I bet she is visiting Tiffany and Co. in New York this summer…

Inverness Tourist, if you are reading this, email me. I would like to know what you are up to!