Hey there, Epiphany! Didn’t see you coming. . .

I was sitting on the bus, on my way home from work. I had opened my massively large book:

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(Book 1 of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver)

Only to find, what seemed like only moments later, that I was suddenly at the subway stop already. I’d gotten so caught up in the story that time stopped for me, even as it whizzed by all around me. This made me think of one of the other books I’m currently reading (yup. I read several books concurrently. Deal with it), the most recent in George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. Which I’m finding REALLY hard to get through right now. And I’ve been blaming the writing’s short-comings (which may yet be a factor), but now I wonder. Because I’m reading that series on my new e-Reader. . .

So my Epiphany was this: I don’t think I can get totally immersed in The Story if I’m not reading from a Real Book. Maybe it’s a sense-memory thing (Maybe it is the not-quite-but-almost dreadful writing. Or maybe it’s the Martin-style Waiting To See Which of My Favourite Characters Gets Killed Next), but I’m really having trouble with A Dance of Dragons. . . It might be different if I’d grown up with reading from a screen, who knows. But Real Books? They’re just better. For me, anyway.

Now. That’s enough introspection. Here’s some stuff I’ve been meaning to post!!

Knit bunny toy!!

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Pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson (and beautifully photographed by Anna Williams). It was SUPER-EASY to knit up, and lots of fun too! I can’t wait to make my elephant version!! I also got a commission to do one for another friend who just had her first child. I’m happy to report that a collective “Awwwwwwwww!!!!!” rose from the ranks of the baby shower where the little guy was unearthed And I apparently need to get More Last Minute Knitted Gifts now. . . When will it end???

And here’s the present all wrapped up, for those of your who have a wrapped present porn fetish:

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(I did in fact knit those carrots too. They’re from the Mochimochi Ninjabun pattern)

I also gave them a copy of the obligatory, and seminal, Pat the Bunny (I detect a theme!!), and my mom graciously donated one of her Tree of Life knit baby blankets (she kind of knits them compulsively, and we have at least three hanging out in our linen closet, waiting to find a new home. . .). No pictures of that, so you’ll just have to imagine it – it’s a creamy white, and ridiculously soft, as the new synthetics can only be. Synthetic yarn, you ask? Well, it’s hypo-allergenic AND easily washable! Perfect for baby blankets!! ūüėÄ

And here is a raft of pictures of food I’ve made!!!! Take a look!!

Portugese Custard Tarts!!

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Though, I have to tweak the recipe as the custard isn’t quite what I was hoping. The dough is super-cool to make. I’ll have to tell you about that sometime. . .

Here’s a tease:

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Ingredients!! For an appetizer I’m making for the Wednesday Candlelight post-Service Wine & Cheese. The Quintet is doing the food this week! This stuff, when combined with the Dreaded Phyllo Pastry, will become (hopefully) a nice tasty treat!! I’m only not quite sure about it cause I kind of totally made it up. Though, mixing up various mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, garlic (LOTS of garlic), Gewurtztraminer, panko, fresh basil and parsley, and freshly grated parmesan all wrapped up in a crisp and rich phyllo pastry crust is going to have to work damn hard to be inedible. . . Just sayin’. I’ll take pictures of the finished products when they’re assembled, promise!! And I’ll let you know how people liked them too ūüėČ

More teasing:

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I forgot to take a picture of the finished product (yup, gonna have to wait on that one too, Dear Internet), but all those photos? Those disparate pictures show the makings of my sinfully delicious brownies!! They’re from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook – the dark chocolate and prune brownies. And before your brain explodes in disgust, let me tell you that 1. You start the recipe by soaking the prunes IN BRANDY for three, count them 3 days; and 2. I use dried cherries instead of prunes . . . Yes. It is made of awesome. I do intend, at some point, to make them as the recipe instructs, but not quite yet. All the dark dark dark chocolate, the lovely cocoa (and yeah, TOTALLY using the Valrhona cocoa for these. . .) and the sweet tartness of the cherries, WITH BRANDY??? These are pretty special brownies. Though, not that kind of special, just FYI. Not that there’s anything wrong with those brownies, per se.

I found out last night that I’m definitely in teenage-starry-eyed-first-love with the baking scale I got for Christmas this year . . .

I also need to show you my progress on the knit solar system (no photos yet) – I only have Saturn left to finish. Plus all the FINISHING. . . And I have two skirts to make, and my Colette Sencha blouse (I’ll actually be making a wearable muslin of it too – Shock! Horror!!! Cause I have a BOATLOAD of this lovely turquoise Kona cotton, and why not?? I have plenty of buttons. . .).

And in Katie’s Actually Going To Be Moving Out This Year!! News: I just found out that my parents will actually get me a new sewing machine for my birthday XD I so excite!!

So, apropos of nothing really, here’s a bunch of books I want (I’ll have to show you some of my Amazon wishlist sometime too, so you get a better sense of the crazy. . .):

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(totally bought the above already. . . Nope, not at all compulsive. . . Nuh uh. . .)

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Enjoying the photo-bombing so far?? Here’s some more!!

This is a dress I saw in the Holt Renfrew window display that I NEED TO HAVE!!! Even if I’m not willing to um pay the (I’m assuming) roughly 700$ it would probably cost there. . . Here’s a photo:

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And here’s where I’ve become Internet Famous!! Ok, not exactly. But that’s where the lovely Adventurous Dressmaker answered my question about what patterns I could use to approximate said awesome dress!! Wheeee!! Pattern bought, so all I have to do now is figure out what fabric to use. . .

Some more goodies. . . A coat!!

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I stumbled across it on Dear Golden Vintage’s etsy site. I thought “Awesome coat! It’ll never fit me!” then I looked at the measurements, and sure enough I was wrong – my size!! And even with conversion to CAD from USD, and with shipping, I got this lovely beauty for less than 100$!!!!! Some indications (sleeves that are a few inches too short, belt that hits me a good two inches above my natural waist. . .) that point to this coat being originally for someone several inches shorter than me. But I don’t care! It otherwise fits awesomely! And I lurve it ūüėÄ

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That, above, is a terrible photo of an AWESOME snack I made yesterday in the middle of my serious cooking/baking-palooza: red lentil spread!! It’s a Donna Hay recipe in her Off the Shelf cookbook. Super-easy and packs a nice flavour punch. Especially since I add smoked paprika and cayenne to it. And extra garlic. Of course. There’s some in my lunch today ūüôā Just so you know, Dear Internet, I made the brownies, the filling for the phyllo appetizers, Home-made Mac-n-Cheese (Mom makes the cheese sauce, and I do the everything else. And since we add tons of veggies and canned tuna, that’s more than people usually do with the dish. So you don’t think I’m just being a whiney baby. Not that I’m not a whiney baby. . .), AND the lentil spread. That’s a lot for one evening. I was standing for a good 5 hours straight. Oh the first world problems I have. . .

Spangly dress I saw in a crazy dress shop window during a Queen Street window-shopping trip with a good friend, and fellow Whovian (whom i have also infected with love for the new BBC Sherlock series. ) :

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Awesome silver shoes I bought during said “window-shopping” trip. . .

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But they are awesome and cost 50% off the original price, so I forgive myself. . . I’m going to wear them to the two opera productions I’m seeing in the next few months!! In the interest of full disclosure, that “window-shopping” trip netted me those shoes as well as five different belts. . . Oooops . . . This belt was so awesome, I just had to have it though:

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Seriously awesome. And also 50% off. But now I’ve been researching the company that made this belt (Brave, in Toronto), and there’s at least five other belts I now covet. . . Including this gorgeous obi belt. . . Only 90$. . . But . . . Sigh. . .

And now for something completely different: the new subway train!!!!

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I finally got to ride the new train!!!!! I got a second ride Monday night, so I’m felling like a proper Torontonian now!

I think that’s enough for one day, don’t you, Dear Internet?? I’ll leave you with today’s sunrise, as viewed from the window near my office. Sorry about the not-too-awesome quality. . .

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I LOVE that “aaarrrrggghhh” is my most used category. . .

Yup. Thanks, Category Cloud, for summing up my life so beautifully. I was happy until the post I was writing decided to vanish after I tried to add a link . . . AAARRRRGGGHHH indeed. . .

Anywho – I’ll try to recapture what was lost through the judicious application of that thing called “memory”. I know this is strange for you, Dear Internet, so bear with me.

First off, I made a totally new recipe (for me) last night (between work and singing, and then after singing too). And there are photos. Which you won’t see until I’ve tried one of the items I baked and decided how I feel about it. And after other people have eated them and told me if they are any good or not. I will say that custard was involved, and said custard was quite tasty, if I do say so myself. My dad agrees, but I really don’t know if that’s an endorsement that will carry much weight for you. Especially when I tell you that my dad? If it’s not too vinegary for him, he likes it and eats several portions of it until it is gone. And no, he’s not fat. He’s not even that unhealthy (though, there was a recent heart-health scare, that has made him realize that he can’t eat like a 20-year-old forever – damn you cholesterol!). For which I am daily annoyed. Damn you, hormones!

I have a cute bunny knit up (with cute wee knitted carrots!) that I need to remember to photograph for your viewing pleasure too. So expect custardy things and bunnies in your future!

I was also writing about how “productive” my day is going today (as evidenced by this blogging that I’m doing currently). Though, I do own that the bulk of productivity for me today lies in the Spoonflower (check out my blog roll thingy, cause links, they won’t work. . . dumb computer) searching I’ve done. You should see my list of “OMG!!! SOOOOOOOO CUTE!! I WANTS IT!!!!!!!” fabrics that is steadily growing. The number of times my clicker has hovered, whistfully/longingly/anticipatorially/tentatively, over that “Buy Now!” button. Because, for some reason, print on demand fabric isn’t all that cheap (it’s not unreasonably¬†priced for the quality of fabric they seem to carry, but¬†it’s still pricy in comparison to the discount online stores I frequent. [Aside: Remind me to tell you about the plaid fabric¬†I fell in love with on Waechter’s online store.¬†Not¬†a discount store, that one. Oh well.]¬†Though, I (proud/sad to say) have not purchased anything from them (i.e. Spoonflower). YET. . . Cause, topiary fabric? medieval besitary fabric? mushrooms? sea creature “paisley”? knitting/sewing/baking novelty fabrics (APRONS! OH THE APRONS!!!)? pigeon paisley!?!?!!??? OCTOPUS paisley? constellations? “SQUIDAMASK”???!!!??? and SKIRT PATTERN FABRIC?????? YES PLEASE! I’d be linking to all of these gems, except, as metioned above, LINKS DON’T WORK HERE RIGHT NOW!! sigh.

Not that I’m excited or anything. . .

Anyroad – Spoonflower, it is awesome (and no, I’m not being paid to say that. Notice the lack of specific advertisers?). And I will eventually make a yard or two (or five) of these beauties mine own. And even if they only end up being used as facing/pocket bags (like to make pockets, not purses. though purses could work too, come to think of it)/linings, they will make me happy. And that’s what matters, isn’t it? Might as well do what you can to make yourself happy in this life (without negatively impacting others, of course), cause it’s never long enough, is it.

My life is pretty full right now, so I think I’ll type out a handy-dandy bullet point list for you, Dear Internet, of all the up-coming projects on my plate. In no particular order, the ones that come to my head are:

  • Solar system mobile (for a tiny new person who’s just joined us here on Earth), using MochiMochi’s Teeny-Tiny earth pattern as inspiration. The Sun is taking for bloody ever, and I’m not even trying to get it in scale. sigh. Mecury and Pluto both¬†only took a couple of ¬†minutes though, so I guess it balances out a bit.
  • Work on my¬†CV and cover letters for several jobs that have come up that I want to apply to in the next couple of weeks
  • Knit up the Teknica gloves (for me, cause I’m that selfish) from the Winter 2011 Knitty Magazine (huh.¬†should link to that in¬†my blog-links-thingumy)¬†– you use conductive thread in the thumb and forefinger, so that YOU CAN HAVE WARM HANDS AND SMART PHONES TOO in the wintertime.¬†Since it¬†is finally getting a little Winter-y up here in the Great White North
  • Sew up two new skirts from remnants (i.e. the FOUR extra yards¬†I got. Cause it was such a good price. . .)¬†of the wool/silk blend herringbone suiting I used as a trim on my Fancy Dress for the wedding I attended this past Fall (have I shown you photos of said Fancy Dress? I forget. I’ll check on that and get back to you): one pencil skirt, and one wrap skirt
  • Sew up a¬†new dress, possibly using the Coffee Date Dress pattern so generously made available on The Selfish Seamstress’ site (see my¬†blog list-roll do-hicky over there on the right-hand side of the screen. Cause, links. . . Remember?) or one of the patterns from the Built by Wendy Dresses book (do an amazon/chapters search, cause I’m lazy. and . . . do¬† I need to say it?), out of this great large-scale check (in soft blues, greys, and¬†greens) dupioni silk I got for like half off (yaaaayyyy! discount fabric web stores!)
  • Silk blouse (you should see the colour – blue-ish teal-y awesomeness!) from the Colette Sencha pattern
  • Clean my bedroom. Cause it’s making my OCD soul scream in agony. Constantly. So annoying
  • Bake a tasty treat for a singing rehearsal with the Valrhona cocoa I got for Christmas. Lucky girl, or what? I’m thinking the Brownie Cut-Out Cookies, for ice cream sandwiches. Cause nothing is better for singing than chocolate AND dairy products!!
  • Prepare for our first Wednesday night octet. And It Is Going To Be Awesome. That is all.
  • (not actually all, sorry to psych you out there)
  • Make myself (see?? so selfish. . .) a stuffed elephant (same base pattern as the Upcoming Bunny), cause it’s been calling out to me for the past five years and I’ve YET to make her. Which is just rude of me, when you think about it.
  • Look for a new sewing machine, for when I move out. Cause the Huskvarna, it is not the awesome, and why should I get to take it with me when I move out anyway? My sister sews a bit too, so that would be extra-selfish. A helping I’m not ready to take (i don’t kow if your brain is going to follow the logic of that, as my brain is notoriously weird when it comes to logical progressions, but I’m leaving it in cause it makes me happy). Looking at the economical Bernette line from Bernina, but I’ll let you know what I think when I’ve tested one out.
  • Start on that whole find-out-what’s-going-on-in-my-innards medical testing thing I’ve been meaning to get the ball rolling on. . . ¬†

So yeah. . . That’s me for the next little while.

Maybe I’ll start working on finishing uploading all those Newfoundland photos. . . Heh.

See you laters, Dear Internet!

Feienabend

(sorry for the blog-silence, I’ve been busy. . . )

Just so you know, Dear Internet, I don’t actually know German. (And yes, the title¬†of today’s post is in German! how exciting!). Well,¬†I do know a few words and phrases in German, learned from my mom (and singing some songs in German as a kid)¬†who grew up there. So I can pronounce German (well, one dialect anyway) but pretty much understand none of it.

It pretty much translates to “celebrate the evening” – it’s the moment where you can all of a sudden relax and enjoy some free time, put up your feet, and (in North American parlance) veg out. It’s really just a perfect word, and marvelously describes a feeling I have always had in my life, the joy of being able to suddenly have all the remaining time in the day all to myself. For me, this is especially important because it means that I can turn off, reset, and be myself. I’m rarely ever completely myself with other people, and it is supremely exhausting to go through a day consisting of public transit, work, conversations with colleagues, more conversations with colleagues, lunch – more conversations with colleagues, talking talking talking, meetings, then when work is done, more public transit. And if I’m going to the gym, there’s further human interaction and public transiting. And there is only so much talking with people that I can take.

So I really do take a moment, once I’ve gotten home and started to unwind, to realize that – HUGE sigh of relief – I don’t have to talk with ANYONE for the next several hours. I can work on my crafty projects, surf the Intertubes, blog, internet window shop, nap, ANYTHING!! And it is amazing.

Feienabend is pretty much up there with schadenfreude (for me) of awesome words/concepts. So I thought I would share it with you, Dear Internet!!

And, speaking of projects. . .

The boyfriend’s sister has two young girls and apparently could not find nice mittens with idiot strings (you know, the ones that keep your children’s mittens from constantly vanishing??). She guesses that it’s a liability issue – if a child can strangle itself on something, even if it’s you know useful, it cannot be sold anymore. . . So she asked me to make a couple pairs for her girls. So I went looking for a challenging and pretty pattern that would be fun for MY FIRST KNITTED MITTEN PROJECT EVAR!!! YAY!!!!!

So I went to Knitty.com to look for options. And I found this pattern:

Matrix mittens

And, well, I couldn’t say no! I’ve only recently started to plumb the depths of two-colour knitting, so this was a perfect project to further develop those skills. Very quickly as it turns out, since it took less than a week to knit four mittens, their respective idiot cords, finish them, and sew linings for them out of polar fleece. FAST PROJECT, guys!!! Check out the pattern here!!

Here are the mittens I made!!

First project 2012 - Completed!

You use a fairly chunky yarn, so they really knit up fast. And I went a little Mod with my colour choices ūüôā¬† My mom was skeptical that the fuschia and mauve went together, apparently, but did own that they look really cool, once made up in the pattern. I love playing strong colours off each other. And the underlying blue to both colours helps them work quite well together, I think.

And now for our close up. . .

Another pair of mittens!!

So, there you have it, Dear Internet. The reason I’ve been too busy to blog for the last week.

I’m hoping to post about my hike along the Humber River last weekend sometime soon. And you’ll be hearing about my other ongoing projects as they get completed. . . One hint though, to keep you on tenterhooks: there will be more knitting. Surprise! Bet you didn’t guess that one!

Hopefully I’ll be baking soon too – a new recipe has caught my eye! Oooo!!! And there’s my 8-part choral experience coming that I will be telling you about so, rest easy, Dear Internet! I have lots up my sleeve for the next little while ūüėČ

Hey 2012, what’s up?

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(Source: Nerd Boyfriend)

So. Do I have your attention now?

No? How about now??

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(Source: Who Is Matt Smith? )

Well, now that sexy men have gotten your attention, Dear Internet, I’ll get to my post. Which doesn’t actually have a whole lot to do with those images. Sexy as they are. . . Though, to be fair, I should probably even things out with some sexy woman action too. Just to be fair.

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(Source: Karen Gillan’s InStyle photoshoot

It’s a new year, and everyone’s getting all revved up about making resolutions and turning over a new leaf. Cause, you know, an arbitrary date management cycle has recommenced? Usually my resolution is that I won’t make any resolutions, cause it’s kind of a sham and hooey and they never get kept cause nobody ever makes really realistic goals for themselves. And then there are the tears and recriminations and apathy, and why start that vicious cycle when I only just jumped off the last one? Not that I’m a cynic or anything. But this year, something’s different. I’m at the cusp of making some changes in my life, and it just so happens that I want to start these changes now, at the turn of a new year. New Year’s Resolutions Bandwagon, you are being jumped upon by me, finally.

Grouped into a few areas, here are my goals for this new year:
1) Manage Money Like an Adult, dumbface
– don’t use the credit card as a crutch, if you can’t afford it, don’t go for it
– pay off the little bit of debt I’ve accumulated
– start actually saving money
– develop a proper budget

I’m planning on finally moving out sometime this year, so I really think I should buckle down and become an adult about money. Like now.

2) Get Healthy.
– start the process to diagnose a potential health issue I’ve been dealing with for the past six months
– develop a regular exercise schedule
– plan on changing some food habits, develop a healthy diet plan (where “diet” = the food I eat, not fad self-denial/starvation plan. Cause that shit won’t work for me)
– hike more. Lots more. And try to be more active in general

As I say above, I’ve been having some minor health issues since I finally got a job last spring. I guess the release of all the pent up stress of the two years previous messed up my system even more than I’d thought. And, having spoken with my doctor briefly about what’s going on, she agreed that we should definitely do some (wheeee. . .) testing and get to the bottom of things. And part of the treatment for the condition I might have developed include diet changes and increased activity. Which I wanted to do anyway. So. Win-win?

Now, what does this mean about my baking obsession?? Well, I’ll probably not change a whole lot, cause the things I bake, I bake them for other people. I’ll just have to pretty much not eat most things. And, I’ll probably start playing with new recipes, to test substitution options, and test the Healthy Baking Waters. But let me reassure you all now, there will still be pounds of butter. Cause, sorry margarine enthusiasts, it’s just better.

3) Make Decisions About Things That Have Been Pissing Me Off (finally)
– specifically, decide what I’m going to do about my choir issues. So there will be much research on choirs going on in the next few months
– find a decent paying Sunday choir gig, if possible. Cause I’m sick and tired of feeling like my opinion is invalid because I’m just-a-volunteer
– think about singing lessons, when I have more money at my disposal

4) Plan the Next Step, Career-wise
Рstart résumé revisions, cover letter writing, etc. well ahead of my contract ending
– start trolling job listings and job boards soonish
– think about where I really want to end up, and how each job I do apply to will help me achieve my goals in my career

5) Take the Time to Art
– use some of my cherished me-time to go back to sketching and painting
– play with new media, and mixing medias
– work on getting my technique back up to snuff, cause I’m feeling a bit rusty
– think about art classes, when I have some income to burn
– play with my craft obsessions and see how far I can push them into my art. Specifically, work on developing my own knitting patterns

During my vacation after Christmas, I worked on my first actual art project in YEARS. A friend of mine, with whom I have been lamenting letting our passion for our arts go in the name of practicality, challenged me to make something for her for Christmas. Well, being one effing-super-busy lady, I couldn’t do it in time for Christmas, so it became a post-Christmas project. And it felt good to be painting again. No, let me rephrase: it felt GREAT!! I’m about half done, so there’s more to do, but I’ve been putting off working on it a little because I don’t want it to be over. I guess I’m starting to realize just how big a whole I’d dug out of my heart when I decided to give all this up. So it’s time to start patching up that gaping hole, I guess.

I wish I could say I know it’ll all work out great. But I’m a confirmed pessimist and I’m not naive. But I can say right now that I am going to put everything into this, which is something I’ve avoided almost my whole life, and that’s both daunting and exhilarating. There are things at stake now!! I guess this is what it feels like to not be depressed? If so, I think I like it!!

I just read a great article about the physiological issues that might be at play in problems with maintaining weight loss. A lot of which makes good sense to me, especially since I watched my mom go through the whole crash-diet-massive-weight-loss-then-incremental-weight-gain thing my whole life. And I guess I could be discouraged since I’m likely to have to work hard at maintaining any weight loss I do accomplish, but it’s really nice to know that at least part of my overweight-ness can potentially be attributable to forces not entirely under my control. It’s kind of freeing, really. I’m also looking at the Mediterranean diet as inspiration for my new food resolutions.

Well. Anyroad, I think I’ve yammered long enough about this. Time to get back to work, Dear Internet!!

Any new resolutions this year for you, Dear Internet??

Bow ties are cool

On my way home from a lovely swim, and in between the vast numbers of knitting projects, I’m going to take a minute to tell you about my AWESOME Saturday. Completely aside from the joy that is returning to Standard Time, this was a weekend to kick other weekends in the ass. Hard.

It became known to me recently that a friend of mine had never seen Doctor Who. Shock, horror!! So her sister and I conspired (along with herself, of course) to make a super-fantastic Doctor Who marathon indoctrination party!! Yay!!

I made myself a fez (cause fezzes are cool), and dressed up as a mashup of the eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond. Cause I’m a redhead. . . I baked a TARDIS cake:

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It’s an applesauce spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese icing (dyed incredibly blue. . . There were many blue tongues), from do-I-need-to-tell-you-where-I-got-the-recipe??

My friend and her sister baked Doctor Who-themed cookies (it was strangely satisfying to eat Daleks), concocted Sonic Screwdrivers (veeeeeeery tasty!), and made a little TARDIS hideout for the cats:

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Super cute!!! And if you loomed over the cat with your arms in the air and hands all clawed threateningly, she’d go hide in the TARDIS. Which was awesome ūüėÄ

We also watched a boatload of Doctor Who. Oddly enough. A bit of the 9th, a few of the 10th, and almost all of the 11th’s first season when it was suddenly after 1AM and I had to get going before transit stopped for the night. About 14 hours of Who. I’m still blitzed on the happy from Saturday.

Ever since (all two work days. . .), we’ve been e-mailing each other at work, sending pictures of the Doctors, Doctor memes, amusing pictures of (the amazing) David Tennant with kittens. Good times.

Life is good ūüôā

Now all I have to do is make every day that awesome. Doable? I don’t know, but it’d sure be worth the effort.

The rest of the weekend went well too – singing Sunday morning went well (shock, surprise!!) and the boyfriend came over for dinner and we played through the rest of Portal 2. Well, he played, I watched and gave suggestions and helped figure out some of the tough ones. Can’t wait to play through it myself!! Have to finish Portal. . . Wheeee!!!!

Aside from the insane list of things I need to do in the next couple of months, I’m feeling really content about a lot of things. There are things I might be changing in my life in the nearish future, but for right now, things are pretty good.

How’re you feeling about the run-up to the holidays, Dear Internet?

 

Opera, and other stuffs

Ok. So. . . That was an AMAZING opera production. AMAZING!

I must admit to preferring early opera to Romantic or Classical opera. I just like the music better. Don’t get me wrong, I do ocasionally lurve the Mozart, it’s just that well. . . He never really hits my heart the way earlier music does.

That being said – if you’re in Toronto,¬†I HIGHLY!! recommend going to see Opera Atelier’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Guest conductor, Italian Stefano Montanari, is charismatic, expressive and a great leader for the exceptional Tafelmusik Orchestra. He didn’t even let smacking his stand light off at the Concertmaster phase him. Did I mention that he was expressive? Veeeeeeerrrryyyyy expressive. My fearless leader and I could imagine that Mozart would have conducted very similarly to him, which did add quite a lot to our viewing pleasure. I’m only sad that I don’t have several sets of eyes so that I could have watched him throughout the opera as well as the action on stage.

And boy, was there some action on stage, let me tell you.

They definitely played on the Opera Buffa aspects of the piece – there was a certain amount of Ham Acting going on. But it was never too much. They played with that line (between hilarious and tedious) and never crossed it. There was a freshness to the performance that maintained its buoyancy throughout the show. No miscasting either – the stars were definitely suited to their roles.

The sopranos were effervescent, in this soprano-heavy opera. Carla Hutanen as Zerlina, Peggy Kriha Dye as Donna Elvira, and Meghan Lindsay as Donna Anna were all superb. The different colours of their voices suited them particularly well to their respective parts and they are all fabulous singers. Donna Elvira was my favourite, but then I’ve enjoyed Dye’s singing for several seasons of Opera Atelier productions now, and she always delivers the goods. And then some.

On to the basses: Leporello, played by Vasil Garvanliev (who, oddly enough, I have actually sung with. If briefly – he was a member of my Sunday choir for a few months, before he got all famous and stuff) was both buffoonish and endearing. And damn, but he can sing. He is also able to act with his singing voice, which isn’t something everyone can do well. Opera Atelier mainstay Curtis Sullivan (playing both Masetto and the Commendatore) was great as usual. Though, to be frank, he’s got a better baritone range than bass range and for some reason he keeps getting bass-y parts. He can sing the lowest notes, he just doesn’t have the same power on them. Though this was less evident in this performance than in his turn as Sarastro a few years ago (Sarastro’s solos are one of my favourite things, ever, so I must admit to some disappointment there. . .). And finally, Phillip Addis as Don Giovanni himself. Hoo Boy. I’d let him seduce me too. He has a beuatiful, supple bass voice – it just flows over you like silk and cashmere and some smooth alcohol that i can’t think of right now.¬†I definitely came close to jumping out of my seat to jump into his arms. . .

The cast is intentionally young and fresh which adds a believability to the insanity of the story-line: only young people are that dumb about stuff. Also, the chorus and dancers were great. Not to mention the tight pants on the men – Opera Atelier is definitely known for their busts and bulges and this performance was no exception.

And, in the tradition of saving the best for last, the tenor. You thought I’d forgotten about Don Ottavio, didn’t you?! Well, how could I with Lawrence Wiliford playing the part?? I’d seen him previously as Damon in the Opera Atelier production of Acis and Galatea last season. And, forgive me basses (you are my one and only true love, never fear), but holy hells can this man sing. Don Ottavio’s solo brought me to tears. Wiliford, in contrast with the majority of opera singers, has very little vibrato, and sings with a pure tone. And what a pure tone. He also has incredible power and supreme control over his voice that is simply¬†a treat to hear. This guy could sing the highway code at me and I’d swoon. I’m not kidding.

All in all, I’m going to have to say that Opera Aetlier’s Don Giovanni is a masterful production that marries beauty for the eyes and beauty for the ears in one sumptuous spectacle that is not to be missed.

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Now for some life stuffs. . .

I can’t wait for work to be done so I can go for a lovely swim. I might be having some sinus troubles that are spreading to my ear canals, but hopefully the Otrivin will offset the water in the ears. I should really invest in some ear plugs for swimming, what with my being prone to ear infections and all . . . But regardless, I’m going to love my swim – it’s been a little bit of an indulgent week so far – Hallowe’en, opera and a lovely meal out, no exercise. . . – that I really need to get back on that horse.

Though, I did do a little hike yesterday afternoon, so my week isn’t a total loss exercise-wise. I had an appointment¬†with my ophthalmologist yesterday for a routine check up. Well, I was supposed to have my check-up, but a lateitude of buses made that unpossible. So I’m going again next week, and this time before work, so I won’t have to deal with afternoon rush hour that somehow starts at 2?? When did that happen??? Well, anyway, I walked home from there – From Weston and Eglinton to Dundas and Islington. If you know that part of the city, you’ll know it’s a bit of a hike – about one and a half hours or so, walking pretty fast. I listened to the Sixteen’s recording of the Missa Papae Marcelli, so I didn’t really notice the time. At all.

And then, after a very satisfying nap (thanks Otrivin!) we sang some beautiful music for the Samhain/All Souls service – which went swimmingly ūüėĬ† And there was booze and food after the service (with stupidly tastsy pierogies. mmmmmm pierogies. . .).

To wrap up, I’m just going to let you know, Dear Internet, that my posts will become rather more infrequent in the next little while, as my plate, it is full – I’m almost finished my Christmas shopping, but I’m waiting for my yarn to arrive to start the immensely long to knit list (it’s like externally-enforced procrastination, I prefer internally-enforced myself. . .), I have two belated X-mas present dinners to plan and execute, music to learn for Wednesdays as well as a Carol Concert I’m doing with some friends, baking, preparing a TARDIS cake for a friend’s Dr. Who Indoctrination Marathon this weekend, a cake and a tasty present to bake¬†for my dad’s birthday, more baking, buttloads of knitting, etc. ad infinitum. Not to mention working full time and being desirous of exercising regularly (to offset the extreme amount of eating that will be happening in the next couple of months. . .). I’m tired just thinking about it. . .

Well,¬†I’m really looking forward to the recipe I’m going to be trying out for the TARDIS cake! That’s going to be fun ūüėČ

I hope your holiday-season lead up isn’t super stressful, Dear Internet. I know I’m only doing this to myself, but it isn’t Christmas without several nervous breakdowns, I always say.

p.s. There will be a separate post of some photos regarding Hallowe’en coming your way soonish. .¬†. so stay tuned!!

The posts that never come. . .

Okay. . . So much for resolutions like “I _will_ write at least one blog post a week!!” or “I need to finish talking about my bleep-ing Newfoundland trip!” or “I should sleep more!!!”

This “gainful employment” thing kinda sucks, aside from the money, the doing something awesome with my days instead of being eff-ing bored All. The. Time., the meeting new and awesome people, the money, and gaining useful experience for my CV. Did I mention the money? Cause two years of almost total unemployment paired with me still wanting some kind of life left me with one sad credit card statement. So money coming in is both very confusing and awesome. Confusing since it’s weird to see the bank statement increase bi-weekly. Though that does get sucked into the credit card pretty quickly.

And Christmas is coming.

Which leads me to a raft of excuses for why I’ll probably be AWOL for most of the rest of the year. See, I’m going to try to actually _do_ stuff in the next couple of months, along with working 5 days a week, singing Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, knitting a stupid number of X-mas presents, going to the gym 4-5 times a week, and baking the usual ridiculous number of cookies. Plus several birthday treats for the several birthdays coming up, and finally making good on a couple of presents the boyfriend and I gave a couple of years ago. Heh, you heard right – a _couple_ of years ago. . .

We’re so awesome. . .

And, oh yes, I almost forgot Hallowe’en. Because 1. I’m actually trying to make a costume for the first time in years (I don’t know if you remember how old I am, but it’s pretty ridiculous, since I’m not 7 anymore. Not that there’s anything wrong with other people who dress up who aren’t 7, _I_ just feel ridiculous), 2. It’s my Mom’s birthday and I have a new recipe I want to make for her (it involves potatoes. My mom _loves_ potatoes in an unholy way), 3. I have to carve a ridiculous pumpkin (I might not _have_ to, technically. But this is me, and if I can be truly ridiculous, I can’t help but be even more ridiculous than that), and 4. There’s not enough time this weekend to come close to finishing everything I need to do. . . Unless I don’t sleep of course. . .

If only that were a feasible option.

In addition to making myself waaaaaayyyyyy too busy, I’m also in a kind of not awesome place, emotionally. Which is part of why I’m filling my days too full, so I don’t have time to think about things. I’ve talked about the problems I’ve been having with my choir before, so I won’t belabor that point. But it’s getting to the point where sometime in the near future I’m going to have to make a decision. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to have to leave a choir I’ve been a part of since I was 6. I don’t want to have to be the one to tell my church’s priest exactly what’s wrong and why I’m leaving the Sunday choir. I don’t want to be the one to tell my choir director why the choir isn’t as good as it could, no _should_ be (i.e. Her. . .). I’ve been talking about this off and on for the last few years, enough so that the boyfriend is probably a little fed up with me. But there’s a reason I’ve put off looking for another choir, that I’ve put off telling the people who need to know what they need to know, that I’ve remained (increasingly) frustrated about the situation I find myself in. One reason is the convenience of it – the church is literally 2 minutes away from my parents’ house. Which won’t always be the case, if I can keep up this fully employed thing and move out next year. But more problematic is the emotional attachment. I’ve sung at this place for more than two decades, my grandparents are buried in the cemetery on the church grounds, I know and care for a lot of people in the parish, it’s my Dad’s church, I’m friends with a significant number of members of the choir. And this is all tangled up together in a big jumble of emotion that pretty much paralyses me. I’m in a kind of straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back kind of situation, and yet I can’t let myself do anything about it. Why should it be me that leaves? Why does it have to be me??

And after some gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair I came to a realization: for now, the good outweighs the bad. Just barely, but still. I’ve always been one to put friendship above my own needs, and why should I change that now? There are plenty of points at which I can reevaluate the situation, other times I can think about this.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking at possible options. . .

Back to work! Any tough decisions on your plate, Dear Internet?

Baking, with some photos!

—UPDATE!!!!—
I have now switched to WordPress! Wheee!!!! Let’s see if this works a bit better for me and my multifarious photo postings. . .
—End Update—
My last baked treat for the bachelorette tomorrow night are the carrot cake cupcakes from . . . Ok. If you don’t know where I got this recipe before clicking the link, you haven’t been keeping up with this blog at all. I’ll give you a hint though – it rhymes with “blitzen mitchum”. And they’re suuuuuuuper tasty!
Strangely enough, I doubled the spice (which is why my dough turned out so much less orange than the original). There’s never enough spiciness for me. Except the nutmeg, which I used very sparingly. That is a very unforgiving spice – too much and you have soap-flavoured everything. Which I don’t like all that much, for some reason.
I haven’t frosted the cupcakes yet (as they’re still warm, the cold room isn’t cold enough at this time of year to set the frosting, the icing needs to chill more, and I’m going to do that tomorrow anyway so they’re perfect for the party. I might even take them over unfrosted and then do it there), so you’ll have to wait for a photo of the final version ūüėȬ†¬† I can’t wait to frost them though, the cake is very earnest and healthful (especially since I added a zucchini and an apple, and reduced the sugar in them to 1.5 cups from 2), so it’ll be a great contrast to the cream cheesey/maple (and veeeeery rich) frosting.
But here are a bunch o photos of me making the cupcakes and frosting:
I was going to upload the photos for another Newfoundland post. But the photo uploader is being an asshole, and I really don’t want to learn a new step by having all my photos hosted on another site (√† la Flixster or Photobucket). . . I am more seriously considering migrating this blog to WordPress. . . I don’t know if you’ll notice the occasional horizontal photo that would actually look better in vertical. Stupid uploader.
We’ll see.
Are you as frustrated as me today, Dear Internet?

Aw poop.

So. . . I have a confession to make.

I baked 4 different things last night, and didn’t take a single picture. Not even a “Lookit what I made!!” finished shot. . . And they were all¬†completely new recipes for me.

Will you ever forgive me, Dear Internet?

I do have a pretty good excuse, as excuses go. I have a couple of weddings to attend this year (as I’ve mentioned previously) and the first one is coming up in, holy crap!, just over a week!! So excited!! I’m not too sure I ever want a fancy wedding of any kind, but they’re sure fun to attend ūüôā¬† Anywho, the first bride’s bachelorette is, well, tomorrow night, and it’s going to be a “girls’ night in” party (awesome! and quite a bit easier on the budget. . .) so I thought I’d contribute food, since 1) I’m pretty good at food, 2) there’s a no-presents-please policy (ish), 3) I have a whole bunch of recipes I need to try out (damn you, Smitten Kitchen!!) and a new pile o guinea pigs to try them on is an opportunity I cannot pass up, and 4) I love playing with food and trying out new techniques! So I’ve been kinda busy with the whole, baking four different recipes. Plus, with the not-spending-the-lovely-long-weekend-with-the-boyfriend (as originally planned. mope mopey mope mope. but more on that later), I was rushing around Tuesday night after work¬†so that I could see him later that evening and catch up on weekendy-goodness. So I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped. So last night was a fun 5 hours of go-go-go with baking funtimes. Which was awesome, but didn’t lend itself well to the whole staging-pretty-photos-for-the-blog thing. Or even the¬†remembering-that-I-have-this-blog-thing-I-like-posting-on shamozzle. . .

But!

I have one more recipe I’m going to make (I know, I’m insane. I’ve come to terms with this), so I will hopefully have enough leisure this evening¬†to take a few process shots of this one for you, Dear Internet. Will that make up for my sad blogging skills??

I think I should also post my second installment of Newfoundland photos (maybe even the 3rd through 7th. . . I think that’s how many I’ve planned. I forget). As well as some long weekend photos too. . . I’m just avoiding the blogger photo uploader. Cause it sucks. Maybe I should look into switching from this blog provider, especially considering the problems they’ve been having lately (what with the blurry¬†photos and the occasional losing people’s blogs’ content). Hmmmm. . . Food for thought, I guess. (pun very much intended.)

So, look out for photos in your future, Dear Internet! Lots and lots of photos. And some more photos.

In the interim, I guess I should at least let you know what I made. There were the margarita cookies, green tea shortbreads¬†(though I didn’t make them sandwich cookies cause 1) the bride-to-be has chocolate issues and 2) it’s finicky dough and that’s waaaaaayyyyy too much work. I’m lazy, so sue me), sundried tomato stuffed mushroom caps, and mushroom and blue cheese stuffed phyllo triangles¬†(which puts the lie to the “I’m lazy” theory, cause phyllo, it’s hard f-ing work. But sooooooooooo much fun to work with!!!!! I’ll probably use spray olive oil instead of brushed-on melted butter for the phyllo next time – sooooooo buttery). All from Smitten Kitchen, of course. . . I’m so happy I’ve learned how to work with phyllo pastry. I’ve been wanting to try it for a good long while, but I’ve been a bit intimidated since everyone who works with it complains about it’s finickiness. But maybe the brand I got is just easier to use – There was only one (yes, 1!) sheet that was annoying out of the 10 (!!) that I used in the recipe, and it was a lot more flexible than I thought it would be, so actually pretty forgiving to work with (get the President’s Choice phyllo pastry –¬†it’s actually easy phyllo to work with!!). I should also mention that, since one guest at the party has onion/onion-family issues, I made the two appetizers without onions at all (thus mushrooms¬†= insta-flavour). I added more flavour (with fresh herbs in the mushroom caps, and some dry white wine in the phyllo triangles) to help offset the loss of the alium-y goodness, and I think it actually worked out ok ūüôā

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Also, update re dressmaking: my fabric arrived!!!! wheeee!!!! And it looks sooooo pretty. I think that my colour idea is quite cool (and will work really nicely for a summer-to-fall transition time wedding), and luckily viewing fabric swatches on the interwebs actually translated into the fabrics matching! Crazy!! Though I have to get some new lining material, since the one I’d originally chosen had run out. Pout. But I’ve found a couple really good options to replace it. ÔĽŅ
So I think this weekend I’ll actually cut out and (maybe even??) start working on the mock-up version in cotton and play with the modifications I want to make to the pattern. The pattern’s the right shape, but has a bunch of little details I want to change, which will probably be really fiddly and make me wish I’d invested in a good¬†dress form. I have a few more things I need to get – zippers, thread, some ribbon, maybe a crinoline-type-thingy to help the skirt fall nicely, a fabric marker, etc. – but I’m really looking forward to some major playing with fabric!!! I even spent some (read: waaaaaaayyyy to much)¬†time¬†on reading through the pattern before bed last night¬†and figuring out the basics of how I want to change the details, as well as finding the steps I can omit since I’ll be doing a back zipper instead of a front button placket (see? very different details. . . though maybe that’s technically a ‘feature’ of the pattern. . .).
Excitement about sewing. In a food and music blog. . . Yeah. . .
Stay tuned, Dear Internet!! Much excitement coming your way!

Just by the way. . .

I’m sorry to say this, Dear Internet, but I cooked a very tasty meal of two new recipes for me (waaaaaayyyyy too late – i.e. I’m still eating it. . .) this evening, and while busy with the task I neglected to take any photos. But, in my defense, I’ve been awake since 6 AM, I have eaten very little today, and I went to spin class after work (for the first time in a while – I’ve been mostly swimming after work lately). So the hunger, it had to be obeyed.


I can say that they were both (surprise surprise) from Smitten Kitchen’s archives. I’m pretty sure that I’m seriously addicted to that blog now. You might need to stage an intervention to save me from myself. (INTERVENTION!! INTERVENTION!!! Please tell me you get that joke, The Internet. . .) Check out the recipes – I definitely recommend you try them!


And I will be relishing the left-overs, that’s for sure ūüôā


I did make a few changes, of course, to suit my own peculiar tastes – I added jalape√Īo to both, as well as apple and lime (zest and juice – ¬†the Flavour Gods, they demand it) to the slaw; I used honey and grainy mustard in the slaw dressing, and only used 1 cup of mayo; I used cumin and an Italian herb mix instead of just thyme, and added a few cloves of garlic for depth of flavour. Also, going to the 24-hour market made the choices of produce rather slim and I had to use baby spinach instead of escarole (soooo tasty!) and red kidney beans instead of white.¬†


I’m definitely looking forward to attempting these recipes again sometime, and playing some more with the flavours. Especially if I can go grocery shopping at an intelligent time and thus can go to a store that has more than four aisles.


Well, my barley risotto is finally an eatable temperature, so I’m going to finish my dinner and go to bed.¬†


I hope you had a lovely day, Dear Internet. Did you try anything new today?