Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Meghna and Sugarlove Girl's Movie Marathon

This holiday season, we didn't manage to see the gorgeous lights at Van Dusen or to ride on the miniature train in Stanley Park, but we DID manage to have a post-boxing day movie marathon. Essentially, we came up with a list of about 10 films that both Meghna and I were interested in seeing. And then I got out the movie listing section from The Georgia Straight and tried to cobble together a schedule that would give us a breather between films, but not so much time that would leave us wanting to go home and crawl back into our pyjamas.

Then we sent an email out to a bunch of folks we know and love, telling them when and where we'd be. I was prepared and packed up the following to enhance our movie going experience (hey - I wasn't a brown nosing Girl Guide for nuthin').
  • 2 bottles of water (check)
  • 1 bag of Twizzlers (check) (because maybe I'll let them take me for a ride on the popping corn, but I'm not gonna let them force me to empty out my pockets for a few stands of licorice!)
  • 1 Fresca (check) (see above)
  • 1 turkey sammich (check) (because there's no actual meal break scheduled in the day)
  • 1 Coke (check) in case an energy boost is needed in the final film (it wasn't actually necessary). Plus, see above.
  • 1 box of "after Christmas discounted miniature, individually wrapped Toblerone Bars" (check) (for sharing - ergo the individually wrapped thing)
  • 1 container of soylent green (AKA nutritional yeast) to sprinkle on the popcorn

We started with an 11:30 a.m. screening of "Avatar". Despite the complicated politics which will probably warrant a veritable tome of cultural studies papers in the not-so-distant future, it is truly, TRULY one of the most beautiful films I've ever experienced (and the 3-D thing does help one "experience" the film). And you really could argue the politics of the film from many sides of a heady and complicated debate. (Though you can't really argue the truth about a film that espouses the need for environmental accountability, will, in fact, make millions of dollars from millions of plastic Avatar toys that will be sold by the mega corp McDonald's, and most of which will end up in land fill sites). All of that aside, it is astounding to watch. And while it weighs in at a hefty 2 hours and 45 minutes, I felt like I'd slipped into the lavish worlds I loved in the Myst games.... Mister Man joined us for this one.

Then M and I had ourselves a speed walk to take us to the next theatre for a 4:40 screening of "It's Complicated". Okay. It's not gonna change your lives. But for those of us who went to the theatre with no real expectations, it was quite lovely. I was happy to see that the story validated the experience of a woman in her 50's as a sexual and independent being. This is frighteningly rare. I mean it's always been okay for a man to be attractive and sexual well into his 60's, but if you believe everything you see on tv, well let's just leave it there.... It wouldn't be holiday-like of me to start foaming at the mouth on New Year's Eve. We were joined for this one by the lovely Bunklelife and by the founding members of the original movie club, Suzo and Emma. (pictured below, Suzo mocks my sammich - I think she was jealous. It WAS delicious.)

And then we slipped into the food fair for a 10 minute meal before the final film of the day, "Nine" in which Bunkle, Meghna and I were joined by Ana and Ms. Lori. Beautifully shot, "Nine" features some stellar performances and, despite a slow start, all of us musical lovin' types were quite enthralled by the end of it. Every time I was about to step on my soap box when the film was careening down the "let's endorse the myth of the tortured, womanizing male genius", one of the female characters in the film would address my thought as though they had just reached into my head and plucked it from my brain.

By 8:30 at night, we were full from our film buffet (though we only ate of the popping corn once, and we didn't even break into the bag of Twizzlers.) It was a perfect post-Christmas pursuit. Next year we're goin' for 4.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ginger Snaps

These are quite lovely and put the snap in the heart of the ginger! These freeze brilliantly too, so you can always have homebaked cookies to offer up anytime during the holidays. The dough can be made and stored in the fridge for a week, so you can even slice 'em and bake them fresh.

Ginger Snaps (from Fine Cooking, the Cookie Issue)

7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
3 Tbsp molasses

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, table salt, nutmeg and ground pepper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and molasses, and mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough is well blended and forms moist pebbles, about 30 to 60 seconds.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and gently knead until the dough comes together. Shape into an 8 inch long log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm (about 3 hours OR if it's well wrapped, for up to a week!)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap the dough and use a thin, sharp knife to slice the log into 3/16 inch slices. Arrange the slices about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until the cookies are ever so slightly darker around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Serve with a glass of cold milk!! (or a lovely cuppa tea).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boxing Day on the Foggy, Foggy Banks of the North Shore

Yesterday, we managed to spend most of the day lazing about home in our pajamas. In my books, this is a near perfect day (unless of course, you're spending your day in your pj's because you're sick of course, which does NOT constitute a near perfect day). We watched the world go by on the north shore mountains, as the fog roll in and out, in and out, in and out. It was just like being back home in Newfoundland (though sometimes the fog will roll in back home and not roll out for days on end).

And throughout this marvelous, lazy day, the scenery outside changed radically. And in my slippers and pj's, I would slip close to the balcony and photograph the world passing us by. It went something like this.

It would roll in like a carpet.... and roll out again...

Until the sun slipped behind the mountains.

And then, towards the end of the day, we decided we'd take a walk in the fog, and walk ourselves right up the street for dinner. And THAT looked like this:

It's what I used to refer to when I was a child in Newfoundland, as a "Jack the Ripper night". In St. John's the sight of the fog rolling in was also accompanied by the sound of fog horns lettin' 'er rip in the distance. I found it so very spooky when I was a kid.

But last night, the fog was a little more festive given the holiday lights a' glimmering.

It was beautiful......
... much like the pace of these past few days: gentle, slow and lazy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

It doesn't get any better than this. What a brilliant holiday we've had (and it's not even over yet!!)

Okay, it would actually be better if Paully and Michele and The Mums were with us, and Bob and Merilee too, but other than that, we have truly had a series of beautiful days. I think I'll start with a photo of Mister Man wearing his favourite present: his space helmet.

Of course this is not a real space helmet. It is, in fact, the "wrapper" for the uber-fuzzy blankets that were given to us by his sister Grayce. But of course, when Mister Man saw the blankie-bag cast aside this morning, he felt compelled to claim it and put it on his head. We "decorated" it later, so that he could march around the apartment pretending he was "Spaceman Spiff". Who knew that I was in reality living with a 5 year old? You know - the kid who isn't into the toy as much as he is into the box that came bearing the toy?

But I digress. Our holiday actually REALLY began last week, when we had our Christmas dinner with Annie and Lara. We had a brilliant meal by Chef Annie, and we played a new game. This was clearly the indicator for how amazing the rest of the week would be. Our hosts in festive regalia:

The lovely chef:

The lovely meal (rib eye with an onion and Stilton sauce, garlic mashed and green beans.

The silence descends as we chow down (action shot!)

The post-dinner requisite nap.

The most engaging chef (with the inexplicably curious expression, but it did make me chuckle....)

Christmas day began super early. Mister Man is an early riser, so he rolled out of bed at 5:00. And I was feeling excited, so I kinda followed suit at 5:30. This was all good, because when we skyped Newfoundland, we actually caught them before breakfast!

My favourite moment was opening the gift to us from my brother and Michele. It was a little video camera. And what I loved MOST about this gift was that they had taken the camera to the site of our upcoming September wedding in Newfoundland. They'd arranged to have the venue opened, and they took us on a video tour - and I, of course, started weeping, because it was such a fantastic and loving gesture. There was my brother, waving at the camera, and pointing out the features and possibilities of our wedding venue....

And then we also got to visit with my family via Skype and (bonus!) got to Skype Mariette too and share deets about the venue with her.

And then it was on to the home of Aunt Grayce and Uncle Chuck for my most favourite meal of the year: the turkey dinner with my favourite soon-to-be family.

Here's one of the chefs, carving the roast beast.

The b'yes (it's always these two who get hoodwinked into the carvery, though we all know they don't mind it one bit.)

The best seat in the house (the kid's table)

The fabulous family members

The carnage

The end of a wonderful day....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

[The above photo was taken last year in Newfoundland. This year, we're spending Christmas in Vancouver....]

What a perfect day it's been. I didn't go into work this morning, and instead hung out here by my own self wrapping presents and drinking coffee and having toast with that McLaren's extra old (and mysteriously spreadable) cheese on it. I was awaiting the arrival of the Christmas box from Paully and Michele in Newfoundland (which we were able to claim, just under the wire, after missing delivery and arriving at the postal outlet moments before it closed for the holidays. Phew!). It was gloriously sunny out, and the nip in the air was perfection. And then my friend Free Lion came over bearing some amazing handmade bags that I'd ordered as gifts. So we had MORE coffee (eggnog lattes to be specific, made with ridiculously decadent organic eggnog...), and a grand ol' gab.

And THEN Mister Man came home, scooped up Free Lion and myself and we headed to the movie cinema to hook up with Suzo and Jeseka for the matinee of "Up in the Air", which was a really great film by the way. We had a perfect popcorn lunch and shared laughs and knowing glances.

Now, Mister Man and I are cuddled up at home awaiting the arrival of Mister Man's oldest friends (okay - they're not actually old, it's just that he's known them since he wore Miami Vice jackets with the sleeves pushed up). There are short ribs cookin' in the oven, the Shaw holiday log is on the television and the IPOD is cranking out one eclectic holiday mix. The tree is alight, and the city is starting to slow down. And THAT is one of the things I like most about Christmas - a huge chunk of the population actually agree to close up shop and take the day off (oh I know that if you work in the hotel business, or with an airline - your day is probably hellacious.....) but the majority of folks actually DO stop for the day 'round these parts. There is a magic in the silence that descends. Maybe it just feels old fashioned - like we're re-visiting a time in which "It's A Wonderful Life" COULD have taken place, and there's comfort in that... but whatever it is, I like it.

Right now, I am so filled with good feelings and contentment, that I could pop with joy. Of course I wish my family were here, but I also know that tomorrow morning, they'll Skype us, and it will KIND of like being in the same room with them.... I am so grateful for all my family, and for all of my friends, and for Mister Man, and for all of you who read and comment. I don't think I'm being sentimental at all when I say that it IS a wonderful life.

Happy Holidays!

PS. Oh, and before he gets his panties in a twist, I do need to acknowledge that this beautiful photo of Torbay, Newfoundland was taken last Christmas by Mister Man. In his words, "it was taken just after God turned on the lights"....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas in Newfoundland, Part ll

The thing that followed the "'Twas the Week Before Christmas Smack-Down" was a fast round of limericks and haikus. Again, for the viewing pleasure of you non-Newfoundlanders, allow me to link you to some pages that might help with your comprehension!

Michele wrote:
There once was a boy from BC
Who liked to have "fee" with his "chee"
Couldn't get it out West
And found a new home by the sea

Paully wrote:
There once was a boy from BC
Who liked to have "fee" with his "chee"
Couldn't get it out West
Came East where it's best
And now we can't get rid of 'e.

I wrote:
There was a big lad name of Nicol
Who feared he would be in a pickle
Then Christmas he'd fake it
Cuz his love for the rock wasn't fickle

And then we set our sights on higher literary standards: the haiku!
Mister Man wrote:
Descending visitor nears
Kacy bares her teeth

Paully responded:
Dog hair scattered amid dust
Drywall disaster
Sad Christmas decor chaos

I responded:
Two more nights of restless sleep
Brian works overtime
Will we really get to land?

and then I wrote this when the package I ordered from Amazon in November still hadn't arrived... (avert your eyes if you don't like swearing, people!):
Amazon dot f'ing com
You have let us down
Two lonely parcels stranded

Paully retorted:
Potty Mouthed sister again
Aghast Mums would weep
Yes, Tef must be adopted

I typed:
Puritan brother of mine
Stands on the sidelines
Empty creative vessel

Michele chimed in:
Paully strings the Christmas lights
Third time on the tree
Long story, tell you later

and then she wrote:
Michele white with plaster dust
Wish it were flour
Still lots of baking to do

I reassured:
The plane comes bearing cookies
And goodies galore
East coast baker please don't sweat.

And then we arrived. Late, but in tact. And they didn't even lose our luggage!

This year, I find myself missing my people. And the poetry..... could you blame me?
Here's what I have to say to THAT:
Sadly staring out window
Wish you were all here
Better have more chocolate.....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas in Newfoundland

I'm not ashamed. I LOVE Christmas. I love (almost) everything about it. The songs, finding the perfect present, the baking, the socializing, the sentimental movies, the anticipation, the chill, the lights, the wonder, the big guy in the red suit, and most of all, my family.

And because they're over there *points to the other side of the country* and I'm over here *places finger on the west side of the Canadian map*, I also miss them most at this time of year. Because they love Christmas (almost) as much as I do.

So I thought I'd take this opportunity to share an exchange I had with my family last year when Mister Man and I were getting ready to board a plane bound for St. John's, Newfoundland.

It all started with a poem my brother wrote, in which he adapted "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and personalized it. Mister Man and I both responded.

Paully's poem
'Twas the weekend before Christmas
And all through the house
Every creature was stirring
Even the mouse
The dustballs were flying
The cookies not there
Exams piled up on the floor everywhere
Then through the mad clutter
Emerged Paul and Michele
Cleaning and baking, a domestic hell
The exams were corrected, but Christmas so near
Teri and Brian, so soon would be here.
But even if the house remains a mess,
we hope Teri and Brian won't think us less.
For Christmas and family are meant to be near,
we really look forward to having you here.

Mine was less than inspiring, but Mister Man's took the cake. The only thing you need to know before embarking on this poem, is that our plane was scheduled to land around midnight on Christmas eve. Newfoundland is notorious for planes not landing due to "inclement weather". It's not uncommon to be coming in for a landing in St. John's and have the pilot turn the plane around and land somewhere else! And of course, last year marked the biggest snowfall Vancouver had ever seen, with flights being cancelled left, right and centre. I've linked all of you "non-Newfoundlanders" to things that might explain some of the strange phrases below!

Mister Man's poem
'Twas just moments before Christmas
and all through the plane,
were giving in to the strain.

The coming landing, they said
might put stress on your heart,
I wonder if we might have
one more round from the booze cart?

With carry on bags stored safely overhead,
the checked bags, missus told us
were routed to Frankfurt instead.

When from the cabin speaker, there arose such a clatter,
I pressed pause on Snook's Christmas, to hear what was the matter.
"The runway" missus said, was covered in snow,
and buddy who cleaned it, well, his plow was some slow.

A better site they say, would surely be found.
Buddy driving the plane said
"how's a nice trip to Goose Bay sound?"

When up from the ground, shining up kinda bright,
buddy on the snow plow
had aimed up his 4X4 lights.

The pilot said "folks, hang on, I gonna give 'er"
and he pitched the plane down
giving us all a good shiver.

With a flash of light, and thump from the tires
we were either going to land,
or succumb to jet fuel fires.

When missus and I found ourselves on the ground,
"I wonders if Paully and Michele
are somewhere around?"

We spoke not a word,
as we watched for our bags
none were to be found,
is this the last snag?

Air Canada said "perhaps soon, perhaps next week",
"Who knows?" they said, just wait and see.
"One more thing sir", sign here "there is a $45 bag finding fee".

I sprang to the counter and flipped buddy the bird,and out flew the curses, every single nasty word,
And they heard me exclaim, as the cops hauled me away,
"Screw you Air Canada, next time I'll drive the whole way".

After this ensued the BlackBerry limerick contest and then the haiku-off, which I'll share tomorrow, in which texts were written via thumb pad and sent over the course of a few days. Michele kindly put all poems and haikus in a single photocopied volume for me called "A Torbay Christmas, December 2008.

Monday, December 21, 2009


The biggest celebration for the running posse comes during the festive season when we pick a decadent restaurant, show up in our finest duds (well, some of the gals show up in their finest duds with beautiful up-dos, while some of us are lucky if our lipstick is on and our hair isn't sticking straight up! And by that last reference to "some of us", I am referring to me...!!!)

We each bring a present that's hidden away in a shopping bag (so that we don't know who brought what.) And then we're each issued a number (from 1-5). Number 1 gets to choose any of the unopened gifts on the table. Number 2 gets to either STEAL the now opened gift from Number 1 OR choose from the unopened gifts on the table and so on.... until it comes to Number 5, who has the option of stealing from all of the unopened gifts, OR opting for the one unopened gift on the table. Here, Kari and Aileen examine the contents of one of the packages. Note all of the other UNOPENED gifts in front of them!

This year, I drew the much coveted Number 5. So when Tamara (Number 4) opened the complete jewellery set made with love by Kari (aka Zuka Artful Accessories), and the jewellery happened to be in MY COLOURS (pink, black, dark grey), well what was I supposed to have done? Gentle reader I was FORCED to steal the gift from Tamara. And here's why. There was this lovely evening wear:

And three lovely matching bracelets to go with.

Let's see those in a close-up, shall we?

And there were sweet, SWEET earrings.

But my most FAVOURITE item was this day wear vintage piece which features a wee Chinese box.

A wee box that opens!

And has a secret message inside. (And while I'd love to share that secret message with you, if I spilled the beans on the secret, I'd have to send a member of the Soprano clan after you!)

Tamara may have been a tad miffed that I stole this gift from her, but could you blame me?

Besides, not that this theft was an act of REVENGE or anything, but I DO seem to recall a running posse holiday dinner in which a certain piece of Zuka jewellery was stolen from ME by a certain Tamara G.... And rightly so, as THAT piece suited Tamara to a T! And that, gentle reader, is why I think everyone should cut me a little slack for doing the unthinkable during the season of giving. AFTER admiring my jewels that is!