Thursday, December 24, 2009

Triple Chocolate Death!

One of my favourite self-imposed Christmas traditions is the Christmas cookie baking. I started this tradition when I was in my second year of university. Starting in September that year I baked a batch of cookies almost every weekend until the big day. We were in the apartment back then and our tiny refrigerator freezer was packed full of cookies! I have never since managed to match the number or variety of cookies baked in one year. I kind of blame Mosely for that -- he came into our lives the following spring and ate the cookie magazine I had pulled 90% of my recipes from. I have never since found a suitable recipe for gingerbread.

One of the recipes I used back then was for a Death by Chocolate cookie that was superb. It was a triple chocolate cookie dipped in ganache. Mmmm! In an effort to replicate it (minus ganache) a created my own recipe this year.

First, I should tell you about our recent chocolate emergency. On a trip to Shoppers I had purchased some chocolate kisses to include with my gifts for Christmas. Of course as soon as I got home Jason and I started eating them. In an effort to salvage them I hid the four nearly full bags in a canvas tote behind our Christmas tree. For about a week I completely forgot about them.

That's when Jason called me at work to say that Mosely had found them. He ate every last chocolate kiss, foil and all! Fortunately, I have a very understanding boss, and she didn't mind that I went home early to keep an eye on my chocolate dog. Jason called the vet, who advised we pick up some charcoal biscuits to neutralize any toxins and then just keep an eye on him for signs of illness. Mosely thought it was his lucky day! First chocolate, then biscuits, then we spent the afternoon doting on him! Apart from a gross "verp" (containing foil!), Moe's only symptom was an excess of energy. Chocolate disaster averted.

For the cookies, I took a standard Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookie recipe from and added milk chocolate and white chocolate chips. It was tricky guesswork trying to determine when they were done, but they turned out deliciously! I have lovingly dubbed them "Triple Chocolate Death Cookies".

Just to set the record straight, Mosely is usually a very good boy, and doesn't tend to eat random things. Now that he's had a taste for chocolate though (and obviously thought it was pretty good!) we'll have to be more careful!

Here is a picture of the family cuddle I caught the other day. Jason went to lay down after some renovation work and Mosely and Gordon took advantage of the cuddle opportunity.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Funky Retro Tree Skirt

As promised, a Christmas craft post. This tree skirt is still in progress (obviously), but I'm making it for Jason. He already knows about it, so there is no danger in spoiling any surprises here. I had to tell him for three reasons: 1) I live with him and he will obviously see me working on it, 2) I probably won't be finished by Christmas, and 3) I can't keep a secret to save my life.

It was kind of a last minute craft decision. I was at Michaels a week or two ago and saw the holiday coloured yarns and thought "Oooooh, pretty!". Then, a little further into the store I saw the Crochet Today! Nov/Dec magazine with the tree skirt on the cover, and the rest is history. Jason had commented when our tree was decorated that it looked naked underneath. I think he might have made the same comment last year.

If you're wondering why I didn't just go out and buy a tree skirt, let me tell you. For one thing, I am very picky about certain things -- and the Christmas tree is one of them. All of our tree ornaments are in the classic Christmas colours (dark red, white, dark green, jalapeƱo green and silver -- yes, those are the true colours of Christmas!), and most of the ornaments have a nostalgic feel to them. We also don't have Christmas stockings. This is not due to a dislike of the stocking tradition, it's just because after years of searching I've never found the ones that are "just right". Maybe if the holiday yarn is on sale after Christmas I'll pick some up to make us matching stockings. Also, straight buying a tree skirt is nowhere near as fun as spending all my free moments working on one -- and besides, I'm going to need something to keep me busy over the Christmas break.

The skirt is coming along much more quickly than I'd thought it would. The finished project has 8 coloured bands, and I'm almost finished the third. To follow my progress check out my profile.

Oh yes, and the bathroom is coming along quite quickly! I'm hoping to be able to shower in my new tub/shower on Tuesday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Bathroom

For the last couple of years Jason and I have had a Christmas tradition of "giving" one another renovations. Two years ago Jason and his friend Jen painted the kitchen for me one night when I was out. Last year Jason and his friend Craig laid new hardwood linoleum, painted and re-arranged the basement living room. I helped by painting trim. This year may be our biggest, and certainly most in-depth renovation yet -- the bathroom!

When we were first thinking about buying our house the bathroom was on the "con" list for sure. The bathtub enamel is worn off, making it impossible to clean. The taps drip, the toilet requires constant "tinkering" on Jason's part, and the vanity is a 1970's throw back to the times when yellowish acrylic counters were chic. Nevermind the mold that grows on the ceiling and has to be scrubbed from the grout on the tiled walls. Despite the fact that we hated it back then, we knew the bathroom reno was going to be a big job, and much more expensive than a few cans of paint.

We've decided this year to take the plunge and do the bathroom. I am so excited about this reno, I can't even begin to explain it. We're going all the way -- new tub, new toilet, even new dry wall! Jason will be recording our progress daily on his blog here. I will also try to keep you updated on progress from my POV. It's exciting stuff!!

Stay tuned also for some upcoming craft posts! I have been crafting my little heart out for weeks in preparation for Christmas, but have been resitant to post because I don't want to give away any presents. I will try to post them as they are given.

In the meantime, the countdown is on! What are you looking forward to this Christmas? Do you have any unusual holiday traditions?

Friday, November 13, 2009


Do you ever overhear conversations that you just can't help but stop and take note of? I just heard this one:

Person A: How long has this water cooler been unplugged?

Person B: Uh - I don't know.

Person A: So, is it safe to drink? I mean, how long has the water been stangnant?

Person B: I don't know. I hadn't noticed it was unplugged.

Person A: So is it safe to drink?

Person B: -----

Person A: I mean, because it's unplugged.

Person B: I might suggest you use the fountain behind you instead.

Sometimes I wonder about our species, and how we've made it this far.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

One of the things that always comes to mind on Remembrance Day is the annual art competition in public school. I wonder if they still do that? Perhaps what I remember most is never winning said competition, though I dutifully went to work on it every year. Poster paints one year, pastels the next, and when I finally felt confident in my artistic ability, pencil crayons. I depicted poppies, crosses, soldiers, guns, battlefields -- all things I knew were relevant and important images where war was concerned. In the eighth grade I wrote a haiku for Remembrance Day about death. In the ninth grade we watched a holocaust movie in Canadian History that made me cry.
I also remember the annual assembly at the local community centre where we would gather for the morning ceremony. When I say "we", I mean everybody -- the whole town! Three different public schools, the retirement home, the legion, scouts, guides, and air cadets, municipal politicans, and the ten or so other adults who worked in town. It was by far the largest gathering of people under one roof I ever got to see in my little home town (with the exception maybe of the annual Christmas Craft Show).

Even today I make an effort every year to stop and think about those fallen heroes and the sacrifices they made so that I can have the life that I do. I am lucky to work at an institution where Remembrance Day is taken seriously and with much ceremony.
In saying all of this I feel it pertinent to note that I am strongly opposed to war in all forms -- and am apparently genetically predisposed to feel the way I do. I'm not aware of any of my forefathers having served . I come from a long line of farmers on both sides of the family. Actually, to give credit where it's due, my maternal grandfather did enlist at the age of 13 and was admitted into the Dutch army, but was soon discharged for dismantling barracks and starting fires. He was cold!
Remembrance Day for me is about more than honouring the brave men and women who died defending our rights -- it's about remembering the horrors of World Wars I and II that should never be (and should never have been) repeated. It's about remembering the mistakes that were made and acknowledging that they should never be made again. Never. I think forgetting that is a dishonour to them.
I also think that using violence to further a power struggle -- no matter how technologically advanced -- draws us nearer to our cave-dwelling ancestors. Have we really come so far as a species just to develop better/smarter/more efficient ways of killing? Surely we have also advanced somewhat in modes of negotiating, communicating, respecting opposing values and opinions, and keeping peace.
Finally, Remembrance Day for me is about the future. It's about telling the stories our veterans have left us with so that future generations will know and understand what was lost, what was won, and what's at stake when we forget.
What do you remember?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More Useful H1N1 Info

Here is some more useful information that came my way regarding H1N1 Flu.



H1N1 Flu


Fever is rare with a cold.

Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100°F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the H1N1 flu.


A hacking, productive (mucus- producing) cough is often present with a cold.

A non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the H1N1 flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).


Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.

Severe aches and pains are common with the H1N1 flu.

Stuffy Nose

Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.

Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the H1N1 flu.


Chills are uncommon with a cold.

60% of people who have the H1N1 flu experience chills.


Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.

Tiredness is moderate to severe with the H1N1 flu.


Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.

Sneezing is not common with the H1N1 flu.

Sudden Symptoms

Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.

The H1N1 flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.


A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold.

A headache is very common with the H1N1 flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

Sore Throat

Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.

Sore throat is not commonly present with the H1N1 flu.

Chest Discomfort

Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.

Chest discomfort is often severe with the H1N1 flu.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fancy Christmas Cards

Okay! Here are the pictures I promised yesterday. I ran into some difficulties (namely, my camera was dead so I charged it and when I went back to use it the darn thing had dissapeared), but here they are as promised.

I am quite pleased with the mini-scrapbook, and believe me, I meditated on that one for a long time. I wanted to get the colours just right, and I had a tough time choosing from all my new Christmas stamp sets... But I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

When I made this one I thought I may have gotten a bit carried away, but people seem to really like it. Wonderbar.
The Ornament ones are my favourite. They are super busy, but unapologetically so. They were super fun and easy to make! I used two different ornament stamp sets AND the new ornament punch. Beautious.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I am planning some serious scrapbooking for tonight! Not only am I prepping for an upcoming workshop (November 14, mark your calendars!) but I have developed a new rule for Christmas gift giving this year.

The Rule

Gifts must be handmade or recycled.

There are some loop holes to this rule, which I should mention, I have committed my family to as well!

The loop holes are as follows:
- Handmade gifts don't have to be made by you. You can support local artisans by shopping at craft shows, pottery shows, and online.

- Recycled does not mean your old junk (but it could). Antique stores are a great place to find unique gifts for someone special, and you never know what treasures you might find at Value Village or the Goodwill.

- AND you can do double the good deed by using recycled items to make something handmade.

I am trying to make most of my gifts myself, though I do plan to do some antiquing as well. Here's a challenge though: what do I make/seek for the gentlemen on my list? I am finding the ladies way easier to create for. Ideas?

For those of you who think it's way too early to be talking about Christmas, bear in mind you have to think about it way in advance when you're making your gifts!

I'll post pictures tomorrow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

H1N1 Advice

This may not be the most pleasant inaugural post for a new blog, but I have some information I am wanting to share and thought, 'why not?'.

Here is some interesting H1N1 advice passed to my Mom by a friend who works in health care. It seems like good, sound advice, and may include some things you haven't thought of.

In addition, but off-topic, I felt I needed to post this because when I went to forward it I realized I no longer have email contacts for many of my closest friends. Most of the addresses in my contact list are for business - all of my social e-comms take place on other formats. How do you keep in touch with friends?


Good Advice for Preventing H1N1

1. Frequent hand washing

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach

3. Gargle twice daily with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). H1N1 takes 2 - 3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple. inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everyone may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard at least once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral populations.

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6. Drink as many warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. It washes proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive or do harm.

* This advice comes from Dr. Vinay Goyal, MBBS, DRM, DNB (Intensivist & Thyroid Specialist) . He is presently heading the Nuclear Medicine Dept and Thyroid Clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre, Malad (W).*