Sunday, January 31, 2010

Climbing Kili

M and I were talking about what kind of vacation we should take during the summer. Here's how our conversation went:

Me: What do you want to do for a summer vacation?

M: Umm... we could climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?

Me: Okay. Let's do it.
And that is how we roll.

I'm nervous but excited. It's going to be quite the challenge! You only live one, right?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to Eat a Passion Fruit

This passion fruit has been sitting on my counter for almost a month. I figured it it's not ripe by now it never will be! I was actually hoping it wouldn't be rotten in the middle since it had been there for so long.

Although I have eaten passion fruit flavoured things, I had never seen one. I was surprised to read a sign at the grocery store that said not to squeeze the fruits because they can be broken, similar to an egg. Through googling, I found out that a passion fruit is ripe when its skin becomes a bit wrinkled, deflated, or creased. This didn't happen to mine, even after a month!

To eat it, you cut the passion fruit in half. The skin is quite tough and hard to cut through. Open it up and you'll find these gelatinous seeds and juice that you can plop out. Not at all what I was expecting! Most people eat the fruit with something, or squeeze the seeds to make juice.
I added mine to a container of yogurt! It does not look very appetizing. The verdict: gelatinous, crunchy, a little tart yet sweet, fairly yummy. I probably would not buy one again because it wasn't anything spectacular and it's not easy to eat on the run, like an apple is.
If I'm ever visiting a place where they have fresh passion fruit I'd like to try one to see the difference!

And that fulfills part of a 36 in 365 goal of trying a new fruit or vegetable each month! Any suggestions for something different I should try?

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Poor Aching Back

Five years ago M and I bought a beautiful new king sized bed. I hate touching anyone while I'm trying to get my beauty rest, so having my own space is key. King is the way to go, I love my bed so much!

But.. now my back's a little achy in the mornings and lumps and bumps developed in the mattress, which have now turned into two big divots where our bodies fit, while the rest of the bed is still plump and cushy. I did some investigation and found that body impressions up to 1.5 inches are normal, but anything more than that is considered sagging, which is covered under the warranty. You can see in the picture below how the very middle of the bed is more cushiony than the sides, since no over ever sleeps on that spot.

The first thing I did was google Sleep Country warranty reviews and came up with so many horror stories, I thought there was no way we were getting a new mattress. I went ahead anyway and contacted Sleep Country who sent me to a website to do an online claim. I had to take a bunch of pictures to show the depth of the sagging, the box spring, bed frame, plus that little ticket that says do not remove. I always wondered about those tickets.

It was a frustrating process because maneuvering a king sized bed by myself proved to be a little difficult! It didn't help that I decided to do this at 6:30am before work. Taking a clear picture while holding a ruler was not fun either. And the website was so specific, I was afraid my pictures wouldn't be acceptable!
I also had to answer a whole set of questions, such as how regularly I turn my mattress and if it has ever been moved to a different house, which yes, ours has. I thought for sure this was going to be the loophole they'd use - telling us our bed was damaged through the moving process. I'm such a negative Nancy :)

The day after I submitted a claim I received a call saying I could get a new bed! I should have had a little faith! The entire time I was thinking they were out to screw me over. I went to Sleep Country, was shown the new and improved version of our bed and it's being delivered next week. Lickety split! In and out in five minutes flat.

Yay for excellent warranty coverage and good customer service! Sleep Country Canada, why buy a mattress anywhere else?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Makes Me Happy #2

Continuing with my happy list, here we go.. numbers 6-10.

6. Remembering what my hubby was like after his wisdom tooth operation - high as a kite. I sooooo wish I had a video camera with me. He was quite a sight - all swollen and packed with gauze, he kept repeating himself, then almost fell down a flight of stairs. Bahahah.

7. The morning after my wedding when I couldn't stop crying, so I called my BFF to come to the room while M was in the shower. She just about slapped me silly for being so ridiculous!

8. Listening to the theme song for the tv show, Dollhouse, and remembering how M likes to sing along to it and do little movements with his fingers :)

9. This picture. Good thing M's brother doesn't read this blog, or he might kill me.
10. That one time in high school when someone called my BFF and she didn't recognize the number so she didn't answer it. Then she called the number back and asked for "Lynn" and surprise, surprise it was her Aunt Linda who had called. Not exactly who she was hoping to talk to. This doesn't sound funny at all, I guess you had to be there. It was funny, right Michelle? RIP Aunt Linda.

I am beginning to realize that 101 things that make my happy could be a little challenging to come up with. I suspect this 36 in 365 goal will take me all year to complete!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Indian Cooking Class, Week 3

Tonight was my favourite cooking class so far because we kicked the spiciness up a notch. Amazing flavours. We made 4 dishes: toor dal (far left), rice with tomatoes (top right), cabbage and peas (under the rice), and cucumber tomato onion raita (in bottom container).
Up close and personal with the cabbage and peas! Mighty good.
My favourite dish tonight was the raita, which is a yogurt sauce that is eaten on top of rice. Here's the recipe!

-1 cup plain yogurt
-1/2 cucumber
-1 small onion
-1 small tomato
-1 green chili - remove this if you're scared of spice :)
-1 Tbsp coriander
-salt and pepper to taste

Beat the yogurt till smooth. Chop all the veggies and add the cucumber, onion and tomato to the yogurt. Mix well. Add salt and pepper. Add green chili and mix well. Add coriander. Serve it cold.

Thursday is my new favourite day because I get to eat leftovers!

*Thank goodness I have a good group of people to cook with. We watched a lady in another group yell then slap her group member on the hand with a spatula because she was peeking at the rice.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Porter Airline Review: A+

On my latest trip to Chicago I flew with Porter Airlines for the first time. Porter is in downtown Toronto so it's quite convenient for people who live in that area. I live a lot closer to Pearson airport, but I found a seat sale at Porter, so had to book it quick!
I took the subway to Union Station, then took the free shuttle to the ferry, crossed a tiny bit of water, and found myself at airport.

It took me less than 10 minutes (so fast) to get my boarding pass and cross through security to their fabulous lounge! Free juice/water/pop/coffee plus snacks! Free Apple computers/wifi for anyone to use! Comfy couches and chairs to lounge on. It was a beautiful thing.
picture sourceHere's the yummy cafe au lait I sipped on while browsing the internet.

My plane left on time and got in early (both ways) which is always a good thing. The planes used at Porter are quite small in size so I found the turbulence to be a bit more than usual, but nothing too crazy. The planes also have propellers so it was pretty noisy!
My lovely view - no wonder it was so noisy!

On the flight you are offered free booze! Sweet! On the way there I had snacks to choose from but on the way back they gave this little box of goodness. It was pretty tiny but considering the flight to Chicago is only an hour and a half, getting any food service is surprising!
I love airplane food and have only encountered one disgusting airplane meal in my life. I don't know what everyone complains about. Airplane food rocks.
Would I fly Porter again? DEFINITELY!

-no paying for parking ($15/day is the cheapest at Pearson)
-awesome lounge and free everything
-quick boarding, quick everything
-not busy so you get your own seat/row
-you have to be at the airport only an hour early for international flights, as compared to the recommended 2+ hours at other airports

-taking a suitcase on the subway is a bit annoying
-flights that aren't full enough often seem to get canceled

A+ for Porter!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Human Bed-Warmers?

How do you feel about human bed-warmers? M's friend sent him a link to this article and frankly it's the strangest thing I've heard of in a long while.
The gist of the article is that the Holiday Inn in England will be testing out human bed-warmers at their hotels. A staff-member will come into your room dressed in a one-piece sleeper suit and warm up the sheets before bedtime. Apparently a cold bed inhibits sleep, so the sheets will be warmed to a toasty 20-24 degrees Celsius, for your comfort.

Unfortunately it cannot be confirmed if the bed-warmer-upper will be showered and clean but his/her hair will be covered, so no worries :)

What do you think about this? Would it be a complimentary service?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is There a Full Moon?

.. because all the crazies are out tonight in Toronto. Here are three separate incidents that I encountered in a half hour period:

1) Two kids plus their father come onto the subway. The one boy, maybe 7 years old starts screaming (ear piercingly loud), "Don't talk to me! Shut up! I hate you!" and runs up and down the aisle of the train, bumping into other passengers the entire way. The dad sends the older boy to get the kid and they start wrestling in the aisles, falling all over the place. The dad said nothing the entire time. I just wanted them to come close enough so I could trip them or something.

2) The man sitting across from me randomly started belting out some gibberishy song... like 10 different times in total. Then I noticed he had coke bottle glasses on, which made him all the weirder. Lookin' sorta like this...3) Steps from the entrance to my condo, I hear pitter patter pitter patter. I turn around and there's a lady running after me. She says, "Are you moving to India?" I say, "No, are you?" Then she forcefully says, "YOU ARE MOVING TO INDIA." So I said, "Yes." Then she kept running.

M and I agree that Chicago may be full of thugs, but Toronto is full of the crazies. Or maybe I just haven't spent enough time in Chicago yet :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bama, Short for Alabama

I am not an animal person. It's not that I dislike animals, I just don't love them like some people do. And I think people who dress their dogs up in clothing are weird :) BUT, I must admit, I have fallen hard for M's roommate's dog - Bama. He's a black lab and the sweetest and gentlest doggy I've ever met!
He's so dark in colour that he kinda disappears when you try and take a picture of him!
I love taking him out for walks, but am not into the cleaning up part since he's a very large dog, which makes something else very large as well. That's M's job! It's nice having a companion to snuggle up with on the couch, that's for sure.

If I were to get a dog I'd have to wait until I have kids and a house. Even then, I'm not sure because a pet is such a huge commitment and I like to travel a little too much. At least you can bring kids with you when you go away, but a dog, not so much. Ah well, something to contemplate in the future...

Friday, January 22, 2010

What did you do today?

I learned how to skate! My husband is a very good teacher!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Visiting The Husband

I'm visiting my husband this weekend! That's so weird to say. There will be some of this,

then a whole lot of this!
picture source

And who knows what else? The world is our oyster. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Indian Cooking Class, Week 2

My second cooking class was every bit as delicious as the first! Tonight we made Spinach and Dal (lentils), Rice and Peas, Mixed Vegetables, and Salad. A couple of people were asking for recipes from my first class, so each week I'll try to post my favourite recipe. The best dish tonight was definitely the mixed vegetables. Ohhh so yummy. Here you go:

4 carrots peeled and diced
1 cup cauliflower cut in florets
4 potatoes peeled and diced
2 cups peas
small piece of ginger diced
4 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 green chili diced
hand full of coriander chopped

1) Heat oil in a pan, add cumin.
2) Add salt, turmeric, chili powder.
3) Add green chili and ginger. Cook for a minute.
4) Add veggies, cook for 20 min or until done.
5) Add fresh coriander.

Here's my takeout container to bring home. Sorry for the blurriness - I was trying to be quick so I could have my taste test. Loved the freshness and the bright, beautiful colours! Mmmm.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Zumba Begins

I started zumba tonight. What is that? Well it's a cardio dance class done to Latin music. I've heard that it's quite popular in the States but has just caught on in Canada over the past couple of years.

Tonight we learned steps to the Merengue, Salsa, Reggaeton, Cumbia, and Cha Cha Cha. It was definitely a good workout and I was pretty sweaty by the end! I love sweating. It was a bit hard to follow because the moves are really, really fast! I thought I was doing great, then realized we were dong the moves in slow motion! Ha. I'm definitely not a dancer and find it hard to remember some steps, but I did pretty good for my first try! Best of all it was really fun so it didn't feel like work. After zumba tonight, doing my couch to 5K running this morning, plus floor hockey last night, my body is tired!

If I had taken pictures this is what the class might have looked like. Hot.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Clean Out the Fridge Soup

I love to get rid of stuff. Love, love, love it. That's why I enjoy making clean out the fridge soup. Since I'm moving to Chicago in 5 1/2 months (ahhh!) I am trying to use up everything I have.

Step 1: Search your cupboards/fridge/freezer and come up with a recipe that might work. I decided to make a chicken and veggie soup. Here's what I found to put in it:
I used everything pictured except the pasta and sweet potato. Basically just veggies, broth, and chicken. (Seriously, anyone want my pasta? I have enough to last me everyday for the rest of my life, and I don't even like pasta!)

Step 2: Pull out the trusty crock pot and pile everything in. Ugh, love the crock pot. It's so easy. I let this soup cook overnight and it was ready by the morning. Then I got lazy and took no pictures of the finished product so you'll have to use your imagination!
Step 3: Eat it everyday for a week straight. I must say I was quite impressed with this soup. I was a little weary mixing beef broth and chicken, but it turned out just fine! Easiest lunch EVER.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Makes Me Happy

One of my goals this year for 36 in 365 is to make a list of 101 things that make me happy. There are plenty of things that make me happy (ex: back massages and dark chocolate), but I want to record specific memories that make me smile and laugh to myself when I remember them.

This sorta thing happens to me all the time when I'm walking down the street... I remember some obscure thing, I start smiling, give a little laugh to myself perhaps, then people start looking at me like I'm crazy. (You know you've seen this, too. You walk past someone and wonder what the heck they're so happy about. How dare they smile.)
picture source
Here are the first five happy things on my list. You may not "get" them, but this is my blog and these memories make me smile, so there :)

1) Climbing up the CN Tower in 21 minutes and 6 seconds, with a chest cold, not stopping once, and passing all the skinny, hot girls the entire way up.

2) Thinking about all the crazy things that M does in his sleep. Like the time he beat me up and thought I was a robber (not funny at the time) and the huge fake bugs he sees, then proceeds to freak out.

3) Crotch-o-chef. Don't ask.

4) Sitting on a bench by myself in Paris (M was sick in bed) and getting up the courage to ask someone, in French, what time it was. But first rehearsing the phrase over and over in my head.

5) That one time before my wedding ceremony when the priest was saying a group prayer in a little huddle and I burst out laughing. Damn nerves!

Do you have any funny memories with/of me that maybe I have forgotten and can add to my list?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Toronto's Distillery District

Today my parents and I ventured out to the Distillery District.
It was a perfect day (2 degrees Celsius in January??) for a walk. If you've never been, the Distillery District is a historic, pedestrian only village dedicated to culture and the arts. It's filled with heritage buildings that have been turned into shops, restaurants, and art studios. We stopped at Soma Chocolatier for some decadent hot chocolate. Oh la la, so rich and creamy.
The Distillery District is a nice little place to wander around for a couple of hours. Plus, it fulfills one of my 36 in 365 goals of exploring a new place each month! Bonus.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fun with The Mammy!

This weekend my parents are visiting! My mom and I went for bubble tea then took a nice late night swim while my dad watched a movie.

Do you have any nicknames for your mom? I have a multitude: momz, mam, mudder, momm, mum, mumzies, and I'm sure plenty more if I really thought about it.

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Indian Cooking Class, Week 1

This week I started my Indian cooking class. We made 4 dishes: Dal Fry (lentils), Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), Jeera Rice (cumin seed), and Boondi Raita (cold yogurt sauce for rice).
A sign of a good meal is a messy kitchen!

The class style was similar to what I imagine home ec would be like. There's 15 people in total and we separated into groups of five, split up the recipes, and got to work! My group is all young people so we had a good time. Cooking is a lot more fun when you have help from others!

After our food was prepared, we all sat down and ate. Here's the leftovers. Each of us took a container home. ZOMG. So good.
This is going to be fun!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm Going to be a Momma!

...To chickens, I'm so excited!

Today I went to Green Acres to pick up an egg hatching kit and incubator. In Grade 2 Science one of the units is Growth of Animals, so this is a great experience for the kids to have that follows the curriculum.
The incubator took quite a few hours to reach the proper temperature, so the fertilized eggs are sitting on my desk until tomorrow morning. I hope the caretaker doesn't put them in the fridge. In 21 days or so we should have chicks!Let me tell you, I am going to milk this for all it's worth:

"Silent work period - the chicks might not hatch if we're too loud."
"Sit down. You're giving me and the chicks a headache."
"Stop running around - how would you feel if you stepped on our class pet and killed it?"

Ohhhh, yes.. can't wait. This will be the best month of my teaching career :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

C25K Week 3

I am almost finished week three of the Couch to 5K program. It's basically a nine week program and each week the amount of running is increased, to eventually reach 30 minutes. So far it's been on the easy side, but I may regret saying that soon!

A couple of years ago I took a Running Room clinic and at the end signed up for a 5K race with M and another couple. I was so ready. The race took place in High Park in Toronto and when we got to the starting line I think there was a total of 12 people registered. Smallest race ever. So underwhelming!

Everyone got a race map, but since I'm directionally challenged, of course I got lost. I was all by myself and the course was not marked well at all. Suddenly I found myself out of the park, running along a very busy road.

Eventually I found my way back, almost in tears and on the verge of hyperventilating. Everyone was standing there waiting for me, about to send out the search team :) So embarrassing. And wow, I felt so proud of myself when I got my award and official time in the mail - 42 minutes. Ridiculous.

Obviously, I'm not over it yet! This year my goal is to run a 5K (without getting lost). I will be done the C25K program by mid February, but you see, the problem is that nobody in their right mind in Canada runs outside during the winter. Running on a treadmill is quite different from running outside and I want to have some practice running outside before I sign up for a race.

I am very tempted to sign up for the St. Paddy's Day Run on March 14th in Chicago, since I'll be there at that time. What do ya think? Should I just live a little and go for it?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shedd Aquarium

Back at the beginning of December when M moved to Chicago (ohmygosh that was over a month ago) we visited the Shedd Aquarium. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago and the day we went was fairly busy but not crazy.

I'll leave you mostly with pictures (some are mine and some I found on ze internets) because I'm not in a talkative mood tonight.
A dolphin show! picture source
A nice, colourful coral reef.
Biggest bullfrog I've ever seen!
Cute eels that kept popping in and out of the sand. picture source
At $25US per person, it's a tad bit pricey, but definitely worth the trip at least once!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

One More Down, One to Go!

For as long as I've known my husband (7 years), he's been writing exams for his career. It's painful enough for me to watch, so I can't even imagine how painful it must be for him to do. Imagine coming home from a long day of work and still having to study 2 hours. Do you look forward to the weekend? Would you if you had to study 5+ hours each day? Ugh.

Great news though, M passed the exam he wrote at the end of October!!!!!!!!!! Yes, they make him wait more than two months for the results. I am so so so so so so happy, to infinity for him. This time he studied a total of 148 and a half hours. Ew, isn't that revolting?

He has one more exam to go in May, then he's done (because he'll pass of course). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!! Time to make a new study schedule!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Cruise or Not to Cruise?

To cruise or not to cruise, that is the question. Yes, you should cruise at least once in your life! I think it's a great experience. Here's why:

1) You get to stop and explore (in this case) 5 different parts of the world.
2) The scenery is beautiful. It's crazy being on a boat in the middle of the ocean and all you can see is water.
3) You can relax as much or as little as you want and take horrid self-portraits :)
4) The food is amazing. Anything you could ever want, from ice cream to sushi to Indian food. Here's our typical dinner, minus dessert:
Amuse Bouche: champagne poached oyster
M's Appetizer: hickory smoked salmon
My Appetizer: wild mushroom vol-au-vent
Salad: arugula with smoked breast of quail
Entree: lobster melange
5) The service is impeccable. You are treated like royalty.

M and I also thought there were a few things that could have been improved:

1) The entertainment was just terrible. Think not so great singers trying to sing Celine Dion songs every single night. Now, I must say there was a jazz band that played each night and they were fantastic (and from Toronto), but the nightly shows were not. Oh, and these scarf acrobat people were crazy good, but performed for about two minutes in total!
2) The boat moved a lot more than I expected! Most people told me I wouldn't even feel the boat moving, but this was not true about our ship. Walking in a straight line down the hallway could sometimes be a challenge! I took a gravol every night before we set sail, just to be safe, and had zero problems. I am glad I brought that gravol though! A couple I talked to explained that Celebrity cruises like you to feel as though you're on a boat, so they put the stabilizers on only halfway. I have no idea if this is true.

And finally, advice for first time cruisers:
1) Our ticket said we couldn't board the boat until 7pm on the first night, but in reality you can start boarding at noon and spend the whole day on the boat.
2) We had an interior room and this was completely fine. I would either go with an interior room (so nice and dark for sleeping) or splurge for a room with a balcony, but I see no point in getting a room with a window.
3) Book the late dinner seating. This will allow you time to relax and shower without rushing.
4) We learned (too late) that you can ask for an "on-board credit" and get about $100 put on your card to buy alcohol. This would have been nice to know!

Would I go on another cruise? Definitely, but not for a long while, because there are so many other things to do. I am a backpacker at heart!