Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Good evening, shoppers. There is a seniors' special in Aisle 7."

March 22, 2011

When I bought this a few weeks ago, Randal said out loud what I had been secretly fearing in my heart - that a day-of-the-week pill dispenser is what old people buy. Yup, this is now the only way I can keep track of what day it is - Tuesday: have I had my pills yet today? (Don't worry; I took this photo yesterday - yes, I know today is Wednesday.)

sigh - I'm sure Depends, dinner at 4 p.m., and people ceding their seat to me on the bus is not far behind.*

Something else to which I have resorted in my old age: liquid diets:
March 13, 2011

Yeah, OK, maybe not.

Jerome and Nadia came over the weekend before last with a bunch of things they had brought back for us from my parents' house in Toronto, and to thank them, we made cream soda ice cream floats. They were so pretty! And tasty, too. As if that needs to be pointed out.

Finally, I am now going to post what is hopefully the last photo with snow in it for this winter.**

Compare last week Tuesday with this week Tuesday:

March 15, 2011 Gasp! Could it be???

There's hope yet, no?

* Seriously, though, I am currently on anti-coagulants for a blood clot I suffered on the flight home from Egypt (yeah, as if going to Egypt in January wasn't exciting enough on its own), and I have to take a different amount of pills most days, so in my defence, this really is the only way I can keep track. At least, that's what I will tell the social services people when they try to cart me away to a long-term care home.

** Dang. I just jinxed myself real good, didn't I?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



Darth Vader discovers what the Emperor does all day long, sitting alone in the Death Star.

I'm sure if the Emperor had any real colour left in his skin, he'd be blushing right now.

March 20, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

March 12, 2011

At least I didn't wait till Saint Paddy's Day to take the tree down this year.

No, sirree! It came down on March 13, a full 4 days earlier! (This picture, and others from the night before.)

For those of you who care to track these things, that's a full 8 days earlier than last year.

Yay me!

Oh, and you know what my reward for taking the tree down was? THIS:

March 15, 2011

Yeah, more snow. That was last Tuesday, AFTER a period of melting. This past weekend, more melting,* but then, what did today give us? You got it: MORE SNOW.


I hear they are looking for a law librarian in the Bahamas. ...À propos of completely nothing.

* or so I hear. I was in Toronto. It was lovely, shirt-sleeves weather there. Hey, Mom and Dad! You sure you want to move to this frozen outpost???

Friday, March 11, 2011

Be careful what you wish for...

OK, the extreme snow has sucked. But on the other hand, the extreme rain that we got overnight last night plus some heavy-duty melting today...has not led to green grass but rather, extreme wet socks and doggy paws.

March 11, 2001

Another week of Yuck, and we might be good. However, I hear it's supposed to snow again on Sunday.

After today's squooshing walk through the snow*, I'm not sure if that's actually a bad thing anymore. We could use some snow to fill in those horrid wet spots. *sigh*

* Or rather, the white substance bearing a passing resemblance to snow which actually is a front for a peculiarly Canadian springtime torture device called the Footwear Ultra-Soaker.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


It's almost mid-March, and despite having its usual less-than-humane temperatures for most of the winter months, Ottawa is experiencing the bulk of its winter NOW. It's been largely (snow)packed into the last week and a half.

March 7, 2011
Our car, after a week and a half of non-use. It took us well over 40 minutes to shovel the darn thing out. And that, despite not even having a driveway to shovel as well! There was a thick layer of snow, then a thick layer of heavy slush from some mid-week freezing rain, then another thick layer of snow. First we shoveled around the front and along the two sides. Then we swept the bulk of the snow off the top of the car. This led to us then having to shovel around the front and sides again. In the meantime, it was starting to lightly snow. We did a second sweep of the car and then - yup, you got it - had to shovel around and in front a third time. We didn't even shovel out the back part of the space. I figure we don't really need to access the trunk before spring. (*sob*)

So, just in case you live in southern Ontario or somewhere else where they are actually starting to see green grass and crocuses, here is a reminder what the rest of us Canadians are still doing:

Icicles hanging off the front of our house. We get these every year...though usually in January!

March 8, 2011
Me, carefully picking my way across the icy sidewalk earlier this week.

Break time
Rion resting on a picnic bench after a swim through the deep snow in the park.

March 10, 2011
Our backyard. There's a garden waiting, somewhere way deep down.

See more at Flickr.

* a.k.a. "Please send backup."

Dog Wearing Hat: A (Thankfully) Short-Lived Series

I don't know if Rion can look any sadder than this.
February 18, 2011

Oh, wait - yes, he can.
Dog In Hat.

Explanation: My mom was here over the Family Day weekend in mid-February. She'd brought a bunch of things for me. This felt hat, which she had made for one of my Cabbage Patch Kids when I was a kid as part of a medieval outfit, somehow got mixed into the bag of stuff. It was perfectly doggy-sized. Rion was ecstatic when he saw that my mom took the hat back with her to Toronto.*

* He better not get too comfy in his current hat-less state. She is moving here this fall, after all, so that hat just might make its way back onto his head.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

pixxiefish in the sea: The HGTV Edition

Our basement is half-finished, and the main room has some exercise equipment (an elliptical machine which, yes, I do use sometimes, and a bunch of free weights which I don't touch but Randal has been known to), as well as an old desk of mine, our old TV, an area that I keep intending to use for sewing and other crafts, and all of our tools.

There's just one problem.

Basement: Before

It's a mess and has been in various stages of mess for the last 3 years.

Tools here are on the left, and my sewing area on the right. It doesn't look sooooo bad, but that's mostly because I'd already pulled a few things out of the way before remembering to take a picture. Trust me - it was bad. The sewing area, not so much, but we couldn't find a single tool without a huge hunt. In fact, Randal had taken to keeping many tools in his computer room upstairs, so that we could actually find them when we needed them!

Saturday afternoon, I worked up the motivation necessary to finally, properly organize this space.

Basement: After

We bought some great resin shelving from Costco and I put 4 out of the 5 shelves in the tools area. Now we actually have space to store our tools properly!*

Basement: After

We moved the (old) TV from a side wall where it had languished for the past two years, to a wall facing the elliptical machine. Fancy that - I can now go on the elliptical machine and actually watch TV without having to crane my neck at a 45-degree angle!**

Basement: After

Look! I can see my desktop! I even got really ambitious and finally hung the shelf that had been sitting, waiting to be hung, on the table for 3 years. And look! There's even room on the shelf for more junk!

There's still a lot to be done, including the second half of this room (which is partially done but not ready for the Big Reveal yet, but I am so happy we finally got around to this. For more magnificence/detail, click on any of these photos to go to my Flickr site.

* The former "tool cabinet" was housed in an array of bins and bags that lived in an old TV stand that the former tenants had left behind. After 3 years of trying to make it functional, it has now finally met the garbage truck.

** Note to self: Go on elliptical machine. Now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

As promised...on the LEFT!

March 7, 2011

Rion, checking to see if the clock says it is time to get up yet. I swear you would think this dog was human. I also swear I didn't stage this photo. I often get up in the morning, go take a shower, then come back in the bedroom to find my pillow and side of the bed...otherwise occupied.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Oh, look. Camera settings!

I was reading about how to improve my digital photos the other day. In addition to, oh, I don't know, TAKING BETTER PHOTOS, one of the pieces of advice was particularly interesting: Play with your camera's settings. Don't just take shots of everything on automatic. ...Which is what I normally do.

So, lying in bed the other night, in a room with just one dim light on, I took my camera out* and took this shot, on regular setting with no flash:
March 3, 2011 (A)

Then I switched the setting to "Night" and took the shot again, also with no flash:
March 3, 2011 (B)

Kind of neat, but you also have absolutely no idea that this shot was taken in a fairly dark room. Which, in this particular case, doesn't matter, but other times you might lose some really neat atmosphere, so I think the "Night" setting should be used quite judiciously. Also, you have to hold the camera ri-DONK-ulously still for about 3 whole seconds. Which doesn't sound like a long time but when you're trying to be über-still, it's an eternity.

Anyway, I took these shots while lying in bed, looking to the right. (And yes, Mom, I have since cleaned up that corner.) Lying in bed looking straight across, this is what I see:
Bedroom wall

I love that wall. Some of my favourite things are there. I love that red painting. The grill on the left has 5 candles, and when you light them, the flames dance over the room, and the latticework design is like a beautiful Islamic mosaic. The cherry blossoms scroll (paint on fabric) is from my first trip to Japan in 2004, and the grey tea ceremony bowl on the left is from the year we spent there (2006-07). The hanging lamp is from northern Thailand (we have a larger one hanging in our dining room). Oh, and the folded scarf sitting on top of the pile of junk (since cleaned away) is from Egypt. The wall , however, is painted a chocolate brown, which certainly does not show here.

Next time, on pixxiefish in the sea: What Julie sees when she lies in bed and the LEFT!

* Upon writing this sentence, it struck me as perhaps weird that whilst lying in bed, one might have one's camera somewhere within arm's reach. Is it? Anyway, I don't always, but I did that night. So there.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dear Santa

All I want for Christmas is a wok with a proper lid.[1]

All I want for Christmas

When I was a kid, my mom decided that my older brother and I had to learn how to cook, and so she instituted a twice-a-week plan where one of us had to cook dinner for the family, and then the other. A few months later, after one Kraft dinner too many, she admitted defeat.[2]

Around the same time, we had a conversation in which she asked me how on earth I was going to take care of myself when I moved out of the house if I didn't even know how to cook. In my 10-year-old wisdom, I replied, "Easy. I'm going to marry a chef."

She pointed out that someone who cooked all day long in a restaurant probably wouldn't want to come home and cook some more. "You're better off marrying a lawyer who likes to cook as a hobby."

So, some dozen-or-so years later, I decided to do one better, and went to law school myself. No, not to find myself a husband! In fact, I had a non-law boyfriend most of the time I was there. Who - purely coincidentally, I swear - loved to cook. His idea of "relaxing" was reading Thackeray's Vanity Fair whilst occasionally stirring a pot of something delicious-smelling.

Post-law school, I picked up some tips from one of my best friends who was my roommate in Toronto. That is also when I developed the 7 different forms of pan-fried chicken for which I am famous.

Then I hooked up with a lawyer who cooks. And the rest, as they say, is history.

However. In an obvious sign of the impending Apocalypse, I have cooked dinner 3 times in the last 3 days. Yay me. Sunday night, we decided to "scrounge" and make our own separate dinners. I was about to reach for the Mr. Noodles package when I suddenly decided to try something different. I made shake-n-bake chicken drumsticks with tandoori masala mixed into the crumbs, an instant curry rice package (yes, cheating), and edamame. It was delicious. And tonight[3], I'd been going through the dozen or so cookbooks that we own, and decided I should find something simple to make for dinner. From a book on casseroles, I picked "Orange Ginger Chicken & Rice", since I figured I had most of the ingredients already in the house.

Well, not quite. Since it is a casserole book called Favorite Name Brand Recipes, everything recipe includes one or more name brand ingredients.[4] Including, in my case, Rice-A-Roni. I've never had Rice-A-Roni, and to be honest, the concept seems slightly suspect to me, but I figured what the heck? I quickly Googled a recipe for a Rice-A-Roni substitute. But then I didn't have everything it needed, nor did I want to make as much as the recipe said. So I decided to just kinda...wing it. I wasn't supposed to use instant rice, but that's all I had. I was supposed to use vermicelli, but all I had was rice vermicelli - same thing, right?[5] I had no onion powder, so went without, and used minced garlic instead of garlic powder.[6] I also only made about half of what the recipe called for.

Home-made Rice-A-RoniHome-made Rice-A-RoniHome-made Rice-A-Roni

Fake Rice-A-Roni. Don't put the full 2 1/4 cups called for, as I did here - too watery! Also, forgetting to add the thyme until the last minute does not negatively affect the taste. However, I put in 6 packets of chicken bouillon, which measured out to about 3 tablespoons, and it was TOO SALTY. I will try just 4 or 5 next time.


I chopped up some carrots. Yup, when I go all out, I really go all out.

Chicken for the casseroleStarting to look casseroley

I had some frozen chicken thighs, so I defrosted them, sliced them into bite-sized strips, and fried them up with some 5-Alive (was supposed to be OJ, but beggars can't be choosers)[7], minced garlic, ground ginger, and dried red pepper flakes.

Then I remembered the poor carrots, still sitting, lonely, on the cutting board!


So in they went.

Anyway, it all took about an hour (I'm slow at prep, and that also includes looking on the Internet for substitutions, etc.), and it was delicious! There may be hope for me yet.

What it was supposed to look likeWhat it actually looked like

What it was supposed to look like, and what it actually looked like. (Though they cheated and used the more colourful broccoli instead of carrots. I would have too, but we seem to have a paucity of green veggies in the house at the moment.) Now that I've (obviously) mastered cooking, I just have to work on my food presentation skills.

[1] Actually, if you don't mind, Santa, I'd like it a bit earlier, since Christmas is almost 10 months away and I'll probably (hopefully) cook again before then. Maybe you could work out some kind of exchange-deal with the Easter Bunny? (I'm not Irish, so I guess that leprechaun dude won't be interested in helping me out.)

[2] In our defence, I was only maybe 10, and my brother, 12. Kraft dinner truly is an enjoyable meal meant to be oft-repeated at that age.

[3] What's that? I neglected to mention what I made last night (the 2nd night)? Umm, there is no photographic evidence, but they really were deluxe tuna melts. With pickles chopped up into the mix, and real cheese rather than the usual Kraft slices. Yes, I'm proud.

[4] We got it at Costco, and it was cheap.

[5] In retrospect, rice vermicelli is nothing like vermicelli. It also makes a frickin' mess all over your countertop when you try to measure a half-cup of rice vermicelli broken into small pieces. Just trust me on that one.

[6] Those of you who are related to me or who are otherwise familiar with my mom's style of cooking may find these substitutions amusing. My mom is known for making meals like "orange ginger chicken with rice, but I didn't have any oranges so I used apples instead, and I was out of ginger so I put some raisins in, and I had no chicken but pork is a white meat too so what's the difference, and I didn't have enough rice so I made mashed potatoes instead."

[7] See note 6.