Sunday, December 27, 2009

Outliers: Book Review

I've always been interested in why people turn out the way they do and how some people succeed in this world while others do not.

Outliers is the first book in a long time that's made me rethink what I learned while studying psychology at university and think about the reasons why certain things occur.

Is Bill Gates a success story because he's smart? hardworking? in the right place at the right time? born in a certain time period?

The author tries to minimize rags to riches stories and suggests that successful people are where they are because they had the right opportunities at exactly the right time.

Is it purely a coincidence that two-thirds of Canada's pro hockey players were born in January or February?

Should children born in December be kept back from starting school, as they will have the same expectations as children who are potentially 11-12 months older? Do December babies ever catch up?

These are a few of the topics discussed in the book. Is the author one-sided? Yes. But he got me thinking, and that's the important thing! I'd recommend this book for anyone who's interested in analyzing human behaviour. 4/5 Stars!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding

Last week I went to see the musical, My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding. Read the plot line here. A friend told me she went to see it and thought it was great, so when I got an email advertising $20 tickets, I couldn't resist! Third row centre for $20!!

M asked me if he would like it and I'm not really sure. I told him it was funny and touching but I'm not sure if it's his type of thing. He's more of a Lord of the Rings musical type guy. But if my mother was interested in seeing it, I'd definitely go again! Hint, hint!

I thought it was superb. Speaking of the word superb - I wrote that as a comment on a kid's test recently and she asked me what Super B meant. Groan.

If you live in Toronto, it's playing until January 3rd. Then it comes back for a month from February 26 to March 21st. Go see it, it's worth your time!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On The 1st Day Before Christmas

On the 1st day before Christmas my true love gave to me... nothing Christmas related, just a vacay on a cruise ship!

We are at the airport, ready to board our flight! Yay for free wifi. Merry Christmas everyone, enjoy your holidays! See you in 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the 2nd Day Before Christmas

On the 2nd day before Christmas my true love gave to me... my husband arriving home safely and the best late b-day present ever!

Today was a bit stressful! Chicago is currently experiencing a bit of an ice storm and husband's flight was scheduled for 5:30pm. What do you do in this situation? Wait and see if your flight is delayed or cancelled? Create a plan B? He went to work this morning and everyone was urging him to switch to an earlier flight, just to be safe. This made things crazy because he's in the process of moving things from his hotel room to his new place, plus trying to pack his bags for coming home. Lots of loose ends to tie up, as well as work to finish, before leaving. Anyway, things were a bit rushed for him, but he made it to the airport in time for a noon flight and is now home! Yay!

And with him he brought a birthday gift for moi! Oh my...
(Mom - it's a Coach purse.)
Isn't she purty?? And she's all mine! I'm in love. I can't wait to strut around with this sucker. Thank you, darling husband. I must say, Christmastime is much nicer when you're partner is there to share it with you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On The 3rd Day Before Christmas

On the 3rd day before Christmas my true love gave to me... the greatest hits of two thousand and nine, in the mail!

Our friends in British Columbia started a tradition last year of mailing out a CD filled with music they enjoyed throughout the year. I love this idea! It has a nice personal touch and is a good way to learn new artists and songs. Every day lately I was checking the mail hoping it would come. And it did!

Here is Perception of Sound 2009:
I don't know many of the songs this year - or maybe I do know some, just not by name.

They also include a list that explains why they chose each song, where it's from, etc.

Love it!

Monday, December 21, 2009

On The 4th Day Before Christmas

On the 4th day before Christmas my true love gave to me... a bunch of holiday cards and nowhere to hang them up.

I love getting Christmas cards in the mail! I swear, next year I will send out cards, I will, I will! Especially since we'll be in Chicago. The problem is - what do you do with all of your cards? Do you display them? Put them in a pile? Save them forever? Chuck them on January 1st?

As a kid I remember hanging my parents' cards up around door frames, which everyone else (my brothers mostly) used to complain about. Why? I liked it!

Right now, mine are sitting here:
And these ones are hanging on the fridge:
After a while I usually:
1) Save any sentimental ones or ones with pictures
2) Cut off and save the side with the pretty pictures (for art projects at school)
3) Recycle :( It saddens me to do this, but there is no room in a condo to store them.

I love when people take the time to write messages inside their cards. Here are my faves from the kids at school this year:

What do you do with your cards to display them? Then when they are done being displayed??

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On The 5th Day Before Christmas

On the 5th day before Christmas my true love gave to me... window displays at the Bay and my top five favourite movies.

Today I was walking around downtown and passed the Christmas displays at the Bay. I did not take pictures because there was too much glare. So.... let's just pretend we're in NYC and look at some pictures of the Macy's window.

Fancy Schmancy! (picture source)

Tonight I am staying in, wrapped in my snuggie. Oh yes, M gave me a bubblegum pink one on my birthday. And I'm going to watch my 2nd favourite Christmas movie:

Here's my list of must see (every year if possible) Christmas movies:
1) Home Alone
2) Love Actually
3) Elf
4) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
5) A Christmas Story

Am I missing one of your faves?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On The 7th... Errr... 6th Day Before Christmas

Apparently I can't count. Why didn't anyone tell me?!

On the 6th day before Christmas my true love gave to me... zoo lights at Lincoln Park and ice sculpting galore!

Today's Christmas activity comes from Chicago. M's hotel is across from Lincoln Park, which has a free lights exhibit in the zoo at this time of the year. It looks pretty cool from the pictures. WAY better than the trail I paid to walk through a few nights ago!

Here are some pics he took:
So pretty!

Friday, December 18, 2009

On The 8th Day Before Christmas

On the 8th day before Christmas my true love gave to me... a Christmas tree plugged in and lit up so beautifully.

Finally, finally, finally I unboxed the Christmas tree and put it up. It has moved spots every year because there really is no good place for it to go. This year I put it on top of a shelf and it appears much bigger than it actually is.

It took me a whole 5 minutes to put up. I only have two ornaments. Bahahahah. It's so lovely.

It took another five minutes to find my other Christmas decorations and situate them under the tree. I used Halloween cobweb fluff to act as snow and hid the plastic spiders as best I could. I go all out :)
It's rather nice sitting with all the lights off with just the Christmas lights twinkling! It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas now!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On The 9th Day Before Christmas

On the 9th day before Christmas my true love gave to me... too many boxes of chocolates and a bunch of thank-you cards to write.

Today I relived my bridal shower, aka my worst nightmare :) A lot of students this year brought me Christmas gifts. Yay, who doesn't like presents? Only, I hate, with a passion, opening gifts in front of groups of people. My plan of attack is to open each gift as it comes to me, with the child who gave it to me.. discreetly.. hiding behind my desk. This morning though, all the kids gathered round - they're so interested to see what I get. First, I don't like this because I know some kids can't afford to bring a gift, then I feel bad because they unnecessarily feel bad. Second, how many different ways can I act surprised about a box of chocolates? Third, I think to myself - my, you've been a bit bitchy to these kids lately, do you really deserve this? True story.

Anyway, here's some of my loot! I made out quite well if I do say so myself!

A candle, Santa Clause tin, bottle of wine, votive holders, chapters gift card, movie tickets, teacher ornament, a set of three nesting tins (a collector's item supposedly??), something chocolate, bath stuff, hot chocolate, and biscotti. Not pictured are the five boxes of chocolate I received. I do not dare bring those home.

Now to start the thank-yous!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On The 10th Day Before Christmas

On the 10th day before Christmas my true love gave to me... frostbitten hands and a mediocre trail of lights.

Tonight I headed out to see the Trail of Lights at Downsview Park. I froze my butt off on yard duty earlier today at work because it's windy, although it's only supposed to feel like -11. I hate being cold, so I pulled out the long johns along with every other piece of winter gear I could find. I added a Christmas music playlist to my iPod and set off.

My hands just about froze right off in the period of walking from my car and paying for a ticket, so I decided not to take any pictures. Actually I'm lying. I got up the courage to take off my mitts to take a picture then realized my battery was dead. So, I'm borrowing these pictures from other people!

The lights were... mediocre. The trail is 3km long and is supposed to take approximately 40 minutes to walk through, although I swear it took me about half that amount of time. It cost $7, which I believe is decreased from last year's fee of $12. Going once is good enough.. maybe I'll go again when I have kids or something, but I wasn't too impressed. Oh well, it was still a nice experience!

I'm the type of person who enjoys driving around and looking at Christmas lights. My parents used to make us do this after church when we were kids and I remember complaining so much. Funny how things change!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On The 11th Day Before Christmas

On the 11th day before Christmas, my true love gave to me... **ahem - get your singing voice ready** a bunch of keys to choose from and a sticky locker room door.

I decided it's high time to get my Christmas tree up, considering there are only 11 days till Christmas. I actually attempted to get the tree out of our locker room a week ago, but as you can see below, I had to find the right key.
I tried all of these keys, but no luck. I found a few more in various drawers and went down tonight to try again. Still, no luck! I started complaining to M, who told me I just need to push the handle harder. So, down I went again, and darn it all, he was right! Success!

Here's our stanky locker filled with M's stanky hockey equipment. And here is our beautiful tree-in-a-box!And ta-da!!!!! Oh wait, I was too tired to set it up and the tree is currently sitting on the living room floor. Whoops!
Instead, I made some raspberry hot chocolate and watched the latest Office episode, which was Christmas themed. That counts, right?

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the 12th Day Before Christmas...

My Christmas festivities are pretty much over with and Christmas hasn't even happened yet! I've celebrated with both sides of my family, yet my own Christmas tree isn't up! It's a little strange to be honest, although quite lovely to have all the shopping and running around done.

There are still 12 days before Christmas though and lots of cheery things to partake in! Every day, I will try to do at least one Christmasy thing and write about it here. So here goes..

On the 12th Day Before Christmas my true love gave to me... Frosty, The Grinch, and Charlie Brown's Christmas movie. I hope you sang that.

Last week I went on a PVR rampage and found all the old-school Christmas shows to record. I'm always wound up after floor hockey and can't sleep, and so far tonight I've watched:

1) Frosty the Snowman (sadly not as good as I remembered)

2) How The Grinch Stole Christmas (such a classic)

3) A Charlie Brown Christmas (oh so good and love the music)

I have lots left on the PVR too - Rudolph (oh yeah), The Polar Express (I'm mixed on this one), Yes Virginia, There Is a Christmas (new) and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (can't remember this one).

What's your favourite Christmas show? Don't even get me started with movies.. so many good ones.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best Birthday Cards

I celebrated my 28th birthday last week and got these cards from my niece and nephew. Stuff like this is the best. It's so cute that the words are written upside down in the second card. Love it.

Stuff like this happens all the time at school when we're making cards for special occasions. Maybe instead of trying to correct the kids I should let it happen because it's really sweet when you open one like that.

I miss these little munchkins!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pointillism Artwork

The teachers at my school kid that I'm some sort of art expert, which is absolutely hilarious because I am not a skillful artist, whatsoever. I am just good at finding lesson plans on the internet! Here's one of the lessons on pointillism I taught a few weeks ago. I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out, considering the kids are only 7 and 8 years old!

First I taught them how to draw a 3-D house. Next I showed them that instead of mixing two colours together, you can place them side by side to get the same effect. If you're far enough away, the two colours look like they are mixed.

It's neat when you walk down the hallway because the art just looks like paintings of houses until you get close up and see that it's made only from dots.

It's a good thing when art turns out better than I expected and I have something to decorate the bulletin boards with!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

3 Layers Pork

I figured I may as well follow up my last bacon post with another bacon post! It only makes sense.

After M's going away party, the two remaining guests, Big D and Long, were talking about wanting something to eat.

Me, being the only sober one, drove us to a Korean place with table top cooking. We ordered three layers pork and ate WAY too much at a ridiculously late hour for eating. What are the three layers of pork in three layers pork, you are wondering? Well, as you can see, I'm pretty sure at least two of them are fat!

You cook the pork, onion, garlic, and mushrooms on the burner. With scissors you cut everything up into bite size pieces. You dip the pork into some sauces and wrap it up in a lettuce leaf with a bit of rice and whatever else you're feeling. Then stuff it all into your mouth in one bite. I love the little side dishes. They also serve soup of some sort.

This is a really delicious meal. I can't wait till Big D's girlfriend gets here because we're going to have Korean-English language classes. Then I can order 3 layers pork all by myself!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Goodness

For M's going away party I made a bunch of appetizers, one being bacon wrapped water chestnuts. These little guys were gone in about 10 minutes.

I got the recipe from my mom and I'm not sure where she got it, but here it is! I followed it mostly but did cut back on the sugar.

- 1 large can of whole water chestnuts
- 1 package of bacon
- 1/2 cup Diana sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard

Cook the bacon and cut the pieces in half (or just use precooked bacon for less of a mess).

Drain and rinse the water chestnuts. Wrap bacon around water chestnuts and hold in place with a toothpick.

Combine ingredients to make sauce and pour into bottom of a dish. Bake at 300 for about half an hour.


These are a little bit time consuming to make, but easy to prepare ahead of time if necessary!