Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Slow cooker liners

As you know, I've recently become a fan of slow cookers/crockpots.

Gord got one many many years ago. It sat in our cupboard for more than five years before I took it out in December to try it out.

Since then, I've been using it a lot! Roasts, ribs, cottage roll, chicken and lots more! But since Gord's is so old, there is no separate inside pot ... so cleaning it isn't fun!

We were at the grocery store last week and discovered there are liners for them.

Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners are made of heat resistant nylon and designed to make slow cooker cleanup fast and easy. The liners help you avoid all that soaking and scrubbing that is associated with slow cooking. Simply place the liner in the slow cooker bowl, add ingredients, and cook as you normally would. After cooking, remove meal from the lined-slow cooker, allow to cool, and simply toss the liner. It’s that easy!

Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners are 13"X21" liners, optimally-sized to fit 3 to 6.5 quart round or oval slow cookers. There are 4 liners in each carton, along with timesaving tips and delicious recipes.

They cost about $2.50 for the four liners but are soooo worth it! After we're done, I just lift the bag out, liquid and all, and throw it out. Yes, it is that easy!


Monday, 28 January 2008

Cottage roll

Do you know what a cottage roll is?

It's a ham and is cured in a brine.

We used to have them a lot when I was growing up. You put the cottage roll in a pot of water, along with potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, etc. and let it simmer for hours. It's very tasty!

I hadn't made one in a while so today was the day! Since I've become a recent fan of the crockpot, I made it in there. I'm not a fan of cabbage so left it out.

Just before it's time to serve it, I put it in the oven for a bit with a brown sugar/mustard glaze.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Jeremy Hotz

Gord and I saw Jeremy Hotz tonight at the Winter Garden Theatre.

The opening act, Perry Somebody, was pretty lame. But Jeremy was hilarious as usual!

And after the show, he signed autographs.

Nights of Fire

Gord and I had supper tonight at the Keg (thanks to a gift certificate from our neighbours, Jasmine and Grant). The meal and service were fabulous!

Then we walked to City Hall because the Winter City Festival is happening (it started last night and runs 'til February 7).

The Nights of Fire was really neat!

Experience the enchantment of Nights of Fire, magically created by Cie Carabosse, France's acclaimed fire art troupe in Toronto for their North American premiere.

Fuel the flames of your imagination as you wander among intricate sculptures of metal, clay and fire that will transform Nathan Phillips Square into a wonderland of warmth and light.

The gentle illumination of the entire square will unfold over three hours as clay pots are individually lit until 1500 burn in unison, radiating heat and reflective beauty across the urban landscape.

Haunting musical performances will accompany the fire installation, delicately enhancing the magic and wonder of the flames.

"On nights of fire, the audience discovers a magic previously unexplored. Eyes reflect the sparkle in the flames, and minds open to the surrounding beauty. Soak in the images and experience the emotions. Reflect. Absorb. Enjoy."

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Jury Duty

I received an envelope in the mail today from the Ministry of the Attorney General ... a Summons to Jury.

I had completed the jury questionnaire they had sent to me in September and I guess that determined that I'm eligible.

"You have been summoned as a potential juror for a lengthy criminal trial of five (5) accused persons commencing February 19, 2008.

Crown and defence counsel estimate that this trial may last about six (6) months. Estimates are never precise. The trial may be longer or shorter than the counsel have estimated."

I'll let you know if I'm chosen.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The influence of birth order

I saw this over at Lisa's ...

Teena, your position as eldest child shows most strongly in your self-esteem.

Similar to other eldest children, you are probably in tune with who you are and what you want. You are conscious of your limitations but you are more aware of your positive qualities. Being the eldest child put you in a leadership role. To sustain this position, you learned at a young age how to leverage your positive qualities, or things you were better at than your younger siblings, to your advantage. This natural, though possibly unconscious, insight into your own personality enabled you to obtain whatever you set your sights on. People tend to enjoy your company because you are confident and have a positive outlook on life.

Go here to take the test!

Book ~ The Provincial Asylum in Toronto (2000) - Edna Hudson

I read an interesting book today called The Provincial Asylum in Toronto edited by Edna Hudson.

It was interesting to me because the Provincial Asylum, now known as the Centre of Addictions and Mental Health, is in my neighbourhood ... I take KC for walks there quite often.

I did skip over some of the book as I was more interested in the history of the hospital and the neighbourhood that the details of the architects.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Book ~ "Family Tree" - Barbara Delinsky (2007)

From Amazon.com ~ When Dana and Hugh Clarke's baby is born into their wealthy, white New England seaside community, the baby's unmistakably African-American features puzzle her thoroughly Anglo-looking parents. Hugh's family pedigree extends back to the Mayflower, and his historian father has made a career of tracing the esteemed Clarke family genealogy, which does not include African-Americans. Dana's mother died when Dana was a child, and Dana never knew her father: she matter-of-factly figures that baby Lizzie's features must hark back to her little-known past. Hugh, a lawyer who has always passionately defended his minority clients, finds his liberal beliefs don't run very deep and demands a paternity test to rule out the possibility of infidelity. By the time the Clarkes have uncovered the tangled roots of their family trees, more than one skeleton has been unearthed, and the couple's relationship, not to mention their family loyalty, has been severely tested. Delinsky smoothly challenges characters and readers alike to confront their hidden hypocrisies. Although the dialogue about race at times seems staged and rarely delves beyond a surface level, and although near-perfect Dana and her knitting circle are too idealized to be believable, Delinsky gets the political and personal dynamics right.

This is the first book I've read by Delinsky and the theme intrigued me.

I did enjoy the story but there was so many storylines going on (though I didn't get confused). Hugh lost his trust in Dana briefly but still insisted on the paternity test so he'd have proof that Lizzie was his to show others. He cared more about what people were going to think than on how this was affecting Dana. Then he expected her to be understanding and forgiving.

More mittens

I finished another pair of mittens tonight ... this time in purple.

The structure is the same as the ones I've made the last couple months. The pattern is:

Row 1 and 2: knit 2, purl 2 (repeat)
Row 3 and 4: purl both rows

Then repeat this pattern 10 times.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Congrats to Gord!

He came in third in the fencing tournament he was in in London this afternoon.

The medal winners

Here's his medal:

Friday, 18 January 2008

I'm surfing, Baby!

I turned to my neighbour, Brock, for his advice when I needed to buy a laptop.

One of the benefits of the Inspiron 1420 is that it has a built-in thing-a-ma-gig so I can surf wireless.

He then suggested the router to buy and I got it today. And it was on sale for $59.99 (a savings of $40) ... sweet!

I hooked up the router this evening and followed the directions on the enclosed disk ... but didn't have any wireless Internet access.

I was determined to figure it out. And by fluke, I did!

Yes, I'm sitting on the couch surfing! Whoohoo!!

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Look what arrived today!

My midnight blue Inspiron 1420 laptop arrived this afternoon!


It arrived in just a week rather than the eight to twelve business days I was told.

I'm getting a router tomorrow to I'll be able to surf wherever I want here at home.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Headaches suck

Alas, I haven't been to the gym in a couple days.

I've been hit with a wicked headache around lunchtime today and yesterday that Tylenol aren't getting rid of.

I can't jump around if my head feels like it's going to explode.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better ...

More mittens

I finished my eighth pair of mittens tonight. Two more to go and I'll be donating them to a mission. I used a soft rose yarn.

Using 4 double pointed 5.5mm needles, cast on 32 stitches. *Knit 3, purl 1* to end for ribbing. Repeat this 15 times.

Pattern: *Knit 1, purl 2* to end decreasing two stitches evening (to 30 stitches). *Knit 1, purl 2* to end. Knit the next two rows.

Repeat this combo 3 times. Put 6 stitches on a stitch holder for the thumb. Continue in pattern, casting on 6 stitches at the of the of row. Repeat pattern 8 times. Knit 1 row. *Knit 2, knit 2 together* to end. Knit 1 row. *Knit 2 together* to end. Cast off (not bind off). Pull wool through inside. Put the stitches from the stitch holder to a needle and knit. Pick up 9 stitches evenly around the thumb hole (so 15 stitches in total). Knit 13 rows. *Knit 2 together* to end. Cast off (not bind off). Pull wool through inside. Tie off and tuck the ends inside.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Why David Letterman should visit Nova Scotia ...

... the province where I was born.


NutriSystem update

As you know, I have been asked to review the NutriSystem program.

Here are the benefits:
  • Most of the meals come in a container you cook it in and then eat it ... so few dishes to wash.
  • There is a lot of choice, especially with the dinner meals.
  • It provides you with portion control.
  • It's good for someone who is busy cuz it's all ready for you ... you just heat it up.
  • The program includes snacks ... cookies, pretzels, chips, etc.
  • A lot of the meals are high in fibre.
  • I'm enjoying the Nutriflakes (cereal).
  • Peanut butter cookies are my favourite kind of cookie and the NutriSystem ones aren't too bad.

What I haven't liked about it:

  • The scrambled eggs are rubbery and salty. I stopped eating them after the first time (Gord's been eating them).
  • I eat very little salt and I'm finding that most of the meals are very salty (the sodium content is high).
  • The Green Pepper Steak with rice tasted okay but there wasn't a lot to it. There were about two tablespoons of soggy brown rice. The Zesty Cajun Chicken with Rice and Sausage, though, was more substantial.
  • I'm missing "real" fresh meals.
  • I love love love pizza ... and the Flatbread pizza was very tiny and not very satisfying.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Introduction to Improv

Gord and I did a two hour Intro to Improv event this afternoon at Bad Dog Theatre Company with Single Horizons. Jane was our instructor.

It was a lot of fun!

I did Second City's five level improv program ten years ago (it's takes a year to complete) and enjoyed it. I had originally done it because I wanted to get over my fear of public speaking. It worked because I ended up spending five years after that giving investment presentations for a living.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Pogue Mahone

I hosted a Single Horizon's pub event tonight at Pogue Mahone.

There were over forty of us. Along with lots of yummy food ... wings, pizza, meatballs, nachos and mini halibut and chips.

About 9:30, there was live music by Allister Bradley, who played older tunes (Eagles, Great Big Sea, Van Morrison, etc.) along with a couple Celtic songs.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

I hate New Year's resolutions!

Especially when they are everyone else's!

Gord and I went to the gym this evening and it was packed! No ellipticals or treadmills were available.

So I did 15 minutes on the stepmill ... 7 minutes on "manual" at level 5 and 8 minutes on "fat burn" at level 5. It's a lot harder than it looks! Then I did 30 minutes of HIT strength training.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Breaking in shoes

Breaking in new shoes sucks!

Though my benefits at work, I got a pair of dress shoes in the summer with orthodics.

They are cute and comfortable but I've never worn them because they squeak when I walk.

I wore them today.

Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!

I wore them all day and then walked home with Gord (45 minutes) after work. My baby toes were killing me when I got home. Ouch!

And the shoes still squeak!


Monday, 7 January 2008

Book ~ "The Gatecrasher" - Madeleine Wickham (2007)

From Amazon.com ~ Armed with a closet full of designer black suits, the daily obituaries and a face that never betrays her 40 years, Fleur invades the funerals of the wealthy, enchantingly rich, grieving new widowers in need of a shoulder to cry on. She attends the memorial service of Emily Favour, whom she pretends was a long-lost acquaintance, and promptly lures the good-hearted Richard Favour into her web. Although his troubled daughter, Phillipa, and her crafty husband, Lambert, suspect serious gold digging, Fleur's beauty and charm dazzle them, and soon she's invited to live at the family estate in Surrey. What Fleur finds there is a gate-crasher's dream ... a welcoming family, an accessible Gold Card and, after some snooping, a bank account worth millions. Even when Fleur's daughter, Zara, whom Fleur has neglected to mention, arrives unexpectedly from boarding school, the Favours make no fuss, welcoming the teen into the fold. As Fleur and Zara become comfortable with country club life, Fleur learns that she's not the only one scheming for Richard's money, and that Richard might not be as gullible as she thinks. But with Zara finally enjoying the stability of a real home, can Fleur leave so easily this time? Wickham creates memorable characters who are as unpredictable and multifaceted as they are stylish. While the quick wrapup misses a cue, this novel is still jolly fun.

A positively horrible story! I hated all the characters except the kids, Antony and Zara.

As if Fleur could get away with robbing these men and none of them come looking for her. And Richard is the biggest sap ever ... he deserves to get robbed!

The ending sucked!

Hard to believe that this author and Sophie Kinsella are one and the same.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres tour

Gord and I did a tour of the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres this afternoon with Single Horizons, hosted by Richard of Muddy York Walking Tours.

Gord and I love theatre so found this very interesting. They have a fascinating history and it's amazing to see how well they have been restored. We definitely recommend this tour!

The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres are a pair of stacked theatres.

They are the last surviving Edwardian stacked theatres in the world. The pair were originally built as the centrepiece of Marcus Loew's theatre chain in 1913. The ornate lower theatre, then named Loew's Yonge Street Theatre, was home to plays and Vaudeville productions that attracted some of the world's top talent. The upper level Winter Garden, which is decorated to resemble a forest, also housed Vaudeville productions.

In 1928, the decline of Vaudeville forced the Winter Garden to close and it remained shuttered for several decades. Left inside it was a large collection of Vaudeville props and scenery, now the world's largest surviving collection. The lower theatre was eventually transformed into a cinema. Over time the building gradually deteriorated as did the theatre. In 1969, Loews sold the Elgin to Famous Players. By the 1970s the Elgin was showing mainly B movies and soft core pornography. In 1981 the Ontario Heritage Foundation bought the structure from Famous Players and set about restoring the two theatres.

Since then the theatres have been at the heart of Toronto's thriving theatre scene home to major productions and musicals with Cats being the first performance at the Elgin. The building was closed in 1987 to be fully restored and then reopened in 1989.

Elgin Theatre

On the main level

In the balcony

The box seats

The curtain

The ceiling

Peter Pan is the current production

The lounges

Vaudeville scenery on the walls

The model of the theatres

Winter Garden Theatre

On the main level

The box seats

The ceiling (those are real leaves!)

The original lighting controls

An original silent movie projector