erm. . . .

Would you look at that? The post that vanished showed up!! You get your “I’m back!!” post sooner than anticipated!

Yeah. so. . .

It’s been a little while, huh? It’s not a real excuse, but I have been pretty busy, what with life going on and all.

First there was that head injury (lord, what was that? 4 months ago?? ooops. . .), then I suddenly moved, and work sent me to Sudbury (of all places), and more work and life stuff happened. Like, the boyfriend’s parents came for a long weekend. The dining room chair situation is pretty dire, but we managed to have a great curry dinner (his mum’s Sri Lankan. and the curry, it is tasty), for a Parents-Meeting-For-The-First-Time meal. YAY! Sadly, the boyfriend was recovering from the worst ear infection at the time, so he didn’t enjoy this overabundance of tasty curry as much as he’d like. He’s all better now, and taking better care of his ears, so that’s good.

And other things happened, as it does in life, n’est-ce pas? I actually sat through the ENTIRE 4.5 hours of Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach (part of the Luminato Festival here in Toronto)!!!!! It was great (and made my butt sore. TMI for you?)! And then I had very tasty food at Origin (with the boyfriend, and a couple of good friends who also saw that show with us). Good day, last Sunday. REALLY good day 🙂

And. Believe you me, there has been music and food going on in my life. LOTS OF IT TOO!!!! I got a gig as a (paid!!) soprano soloist at a new church (yup. TOTALLY GAVE UP ST. GEORGE’S ON SUNDAYS!!!!!! And I feel absolutely no regret, so that was definitely the right decision.). I still sing on Wednesdays at St. George’s (of course), and hopefully that’ll continue after the summer break (the new priest likes the service, so that should help). I guess the whole “new priest” thing is pretty big too. There were things that happened, and a new priest had to be found. Life goes on. Though, I hope to get a new church come the fall, since Etobicoke is a bit of a crazy trek on Sunday mornings (thanks to our odd TTC hours that day), and maybe other singing gigs would be awesome. We’ll see.

As to the baking side of things, LOTS OF IT HAS BEEN HAPPENING!!! And rhubarb season is truly marvelous! I’ve been eating too much, of course. But I’ve found something that’ll help me with my long-term healthy fitness/food goals! (more to come) And I found a new food blog obsession (for those who think my attachment to Smitten Kitchen is unhealthy, I say “suck it”. but this one is pretty great too! I’ll have to share some recipes from there as I make them!).

But yeah, life’s been hectic and I’ve even been interviewing for a potential full-time permanent position. No idea if my odds of getting an offer are good, but it’s nice to get an interview anyway! Plus, surprisingly an actual archivist job has come up, so I’ll be applying to that this week too!

I’ve been working on my laissez-faire. We’ll see how that goes 😉

And. Well. There’s this too.

I’m going to participate in A Fashionable Stitch’s (aka Sunni) 2-in-1 sew along!! I don’t know which one I’ll do, there’s a wrap dress or a shirt dress that you can make from the pattern, and I’ll probably end up doing both. . . Hopefully something in my stash will work, or I may need to visit a fabric store in the near future!! I actually just finished a “box blouse” from a tutorial Sunni did recently on her blog, with a lovely Japanese double gauze plaid fabric I got online. A post about that will probably follow shortly!! It’s very comfortable!! And I’m glad I did this on a yarn-dyed plaid, as it made all the straight lines REALLY easy to sew at least mostly accurately :/

Another And. . . In regards to my “new healthy diet, change-up” thingummy. I think I’ve found something to help me reset and start my relationship with food afresh. What??? You may ask. . . Well, through my new food blog obsession, I found a link to the Whole Living online magazine and their 2012 Whole Living Action Plan. And it looks great!! Tough, especially the “giving up alcohol for a month” part of it. But I think it’ll be a good way to really get myself going towards a healthier lifestyle. Though don’t expect me to go sober permanently. Cause that ain’t happening. Just so you know. Also, I hopefully won’t become that person who’s ALWAYS talking about their AWESOME CLEANSE THAT YOU SHOULD ALSO TRY BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME. But I’ll probably talk a bit about what I’m doing, and what the food’s like. I’m really looking forward to it though, and a friend of mine (my fearless leader, actually) is going to try it with me too 🙂 I hope it goes well!

Welp, Dear Internet. How’s that for a come-back post?!

Kinda boring I think, actually… . Oh well, I’ll get my groove back I hope!

I hope you’ve been having a great last few months! Hopefully I’ll be more posty now. Cause I know how much you’ve missed me! Right. . .

P.S. Prometheus = meh. And Fassbender is phenomenal as per usual. Watch it to enjoy him wearing body suits a good 80% of the time. . .

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Fail

This won’t be a long one, and don’t expect any pretty pictures, cause I need to go to sleep now. But I thought I’d let you know, Dear Internet, why I’ve been so absent lately.

1. I discovered Pinterest. As you know, I’m mildly (hah) OCD, and this is definitely filling up my available Internetting minutes right now. It’s not at all that I need to PIN ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW!!!! Nope . . . Hmmmmmmm maybe I should like my Pinterest to this here blog? Things to think on.

2. I’ve been testing out new recipes like a crazy person. In my looking at changing the diet a little, I’m discovering the joy of lentils, and expanding my knowledge of the awesomeness of quinoa. Pictures may follow at some point. . .

3. I totally gave myself another concussion this weekend. Yeah, I said “another” – this is my second doctor-diagnosed concussion. And they’ve both been due to my problems with standing up near hard edged objects. Damn you, Kitchen Counter!!! I kept on with my mad schedule of baking and cooking ALL THE THINGS this weekend. Cause I’m dumb. And them with less than three hours of sleep on Sunday night, I was pretty much down for the count yesterday (unsurprisingly). Wheee. I discovered the evil of fluorescent lights today. Not that I didn’t already know they were evil. . .

Fail.

4. I’ve been preparing for the Lenten music season – new music and all that.

Anyway. I promise to try to be more diligent about posting, Dear internet. Is that good enough for now? I do have things up my sleeve, just so you know.

Any good new obsessions for you lately??

One last Christmas-related post

Ok. It’s January 3rd. 2012 has officially begun. And I have one more thing to say about Christmas.

Sooooo. You might have noticed my absence the last few weeks, Dear Internet, which was due to my overwhelming schedule. Especially my overwhelming baking schedule. So Imma gonna talk at you about my heaps o cookies!!!

I decided to take the bulk of the week before x-mas off in order to do all that x-mas baking. Cause I wasn’t going to not do my massive x-mas bake-a-thon. No sirree!!

The three days before Christmas I baked 10 kinds of baked good. Ten batches of sweets. !!!!!!!! Cause I’m nuts. I was even planning on down-sizing my baking this year. Apparently not. Also, though I have no photographic evidence currently, I made Christmas cakes with my mom this year. But, like, weeks before Christmas. So for some reason I keep forgetting about them. . .

Let’s get to the crazy then, shall we?

In no particular order:

1) Gingerbread!

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A traditional and perennial favourite!

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2) Traditional shortbread

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With a twist, of course. I used dark brown sugar in this one. Cause it tastes even more awesome. And I used the shortbread mold my dad picked up (sooooooo much easier than rolling out and cutting cookies). Though next time I won’t make such huge bricks of shortbread

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3) Nutmeg Maple Butter cookies (from, where else?, Smitten Kitchen – a new favourite)

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Like, a week before I start my baking I have to come across this post on my most favouritest of blogs. AND I HAD TO HAVE IT!! The Christmas cookie fever was officially upon me. And damn, but these are stupidly tasty cookies. I know everyone hearts the pants off the apple pie cookies from the same (AWESOME) blog, but these are my absolute favourites!!

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4) Toblerone shortbread

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Do I need to justify this for you, Dear Internet? Or can we all just agree that this is necessary?

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Awwwwwww yiiiiiiissssssssssss.

5) Ginger shortbread

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Cause I lurve the ginger. Also, it’s a stupidly simple recipe (from this book) from Donna Hay, the Australian answer to Martha. Definitely recommend this one. And you can flavour it whichever way you like best.

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6) Apple pie cookies

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These were such a hit from my fearless leader’s birthday party, that they had to make a near-immediate reprise. Super-fiddly to make, but oh so worth it!!

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7) Honey Lavender shortbread

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I don’t remember exactly where I got the idea for honey shortbread, but I just had to have some for x-mas! And let me tell you, substituting honey for sugar makes shortbread mighty fine. And lavender? Why not?? It’s floral fragrance works very well with honey. Definitely adding this to the repertoire!

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8) Spitzbuben

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These are straight from my childhood. My mom used to make them, before I stopped letting her do the baking. . . And they’re from her childhood in Germany. It means, from what I understand, “naughty boys”, and they’re delicious sandwich cookies made with lemony shortbready dough and raspberry jam. And you poke out three holes on top to make a screaming face-looking arrangement. Like only the Germans would come up with. Though, what do you expect from a culture that came up with “schadenfreude”?? More awesomeness, that’s what!!

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<eeeeeeeeekkkkkk!!!!!!> and soooooo tasty!

9) Rugalach

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These are from Bonnie Stern‘s Cuisinart cookbook, sadly out of print (or maybe her second Cuisinart cookbook? I forget which. Are there even two of them???). If you’re not Canadian, you probably don’t know who she is, but she was pretty big in the Toronto food scene at least. These have a flaky cream cheese-based dough, tart jam, and a cinnamon/hazelnut/cocoa/brown sugar filling that literally makes the best cinnamon toast EVAR. Cause there are always leftovers. . . And only partly because I make too much in the first place in order to ensure leftovers. Only partly.

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And last, but not least,
10) Mincemeat Tarts

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I make my own mincemeat (of course), from a recipe handed down through my paternal grandmother’s family (I think. It’s definitely from the English side of my family tree), full of raisins, and currents (which technically are just a different kind of raisin. Weird), apple, spices, and, well, beef suet. Not my favourite, but it gets the job done. I make a pâte brisée for the dough (with butter, of course), which is easy to make and work with. And they is tasty. I ran out of mincemeat this Christmas, so next time around I have to make a new batch :D. Some of which I’ve promised to a friend of mine. Can’t wait! I love using the meat grinder!!

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Aside from the massive amount of tasty treats, it was a lovely lovely Christmas this year (despite some minor issues I won’t discuss here) full of family and friends and goodwill towards my fellow man, some of which was contributed to a last-minute getaway to a cottage nicely north of the city. And I hope you had a lovely time too, Dear Internet. Happy New Year!!

Let’s see what 2012 has to dump on our heads. . .

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 😀  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 😉

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!!

And now for something completely different!

Ok, I just want to take a miniature break from the immense amount of baked goods (what, this is a food blog of some kind? No. . . ), to share some pretty pictures.

I love this time of year for not only the amazing, fresh, and local produce you can get, but also for the immense amount of burgeoning floral activity in the garden. What with work and exercising a whole lot, I haven’t had a lot of time to actually do any gardening, or to really appreciate what has been going on in the garden.

So here are some pictures of the pretty flowers growing like mad in the garden!

I hope you enjoy the pretty flower pictures, Dear Internet. But rest assured, there is much baked goods ogling yet to come!

Also, I went to a vineyard with a friend on my lovely day off this long weekend, so I’ll have to share some photos of that with you. Maybe someday I’ll actually start talking about music too. . .