As Luck Would Have It…

I have none at all… Yes, you heard me correctly… as luck would have it, I don’t have any. I’m serious.  I’ve had no luck for a number of years now but I’m thinking that it actually stems back to when I was in the fifth grade.  So, let me explain…

I have always been a little on the geeky side.  Some people, my own father included, have trouble seeing this side of me… but trust me, it’s there.  I’m just a nerd at heart & happy to admit that now.  (And my husband wonders why I relate to the Big Bang Theory so easily?!)  In any case, I was not exactly part of the popular crowd growing up… on the fringes perhaps, but not totally in it (which suited me just fine).  Back then, as is the case today, I had few friends but the friends I did have were good ones.  On the day my bad luck started, a day in early June if I recall, my friends were not anywhere to be found.  I can’t really remember now where they were but they weren’t with me.  So, I spent my lunch break sitting in a patch of clover in the school yard hunting for four leaf clovers.  They do exist I tell you… I know because I found one.   And would you believe, after all these years, I still have it?  (If you are thinking “my gosh she’s a pack-rat… well, you nailed it!).  I dried it, put it in a little gumball container & voila… four leaf clover.

Day 20 - Four Leaf Clover

I am now starting to think though that maybe it is time to get rid of this four leaf clover… maybe it is the reason I seem to have no luck at all.  Now, don’t go thinking too much into this statement because I’m not superstitious & never have been.  Those things just don’t bother me… I’m not worried about black cats or breaking mirrors & seven years of bad luck.  I even saw my husband on our wedding day before we got married & nothing bad happened (it was already storming & windy & raining, what else could be worse than that?)  But the way I see it there has to be a reason for my bad luck… so maybe it’s the four leaf clover.
Do you ever get stuck in that line in the supermarket, which looks like the shortest but is actually the longest… because the person checking out in front of you has one problem or another?  Well, that happens to me… EVERY time.  It happens to Colin as well… in fact, we seem to be equally matched in our bad luck.  Ever go to a casino telling yourself you are only going to spend $20 no matter how quickly it goes?  I am done in 2 minutes flat.  All gone… no luck!
Now, I mentioned that my husband & I are often equally matched in our bad luck… well, this is especially true when it comes to our house.  The house itself is fantastic… we love it & it couldn’t be more perfect for us.  I will even admit that it actually was quite GOOD luck that we found it & thus far we have not had any problems with the house.  The bad luck we seem to have is when we try to do upgrades.
Last February we purchased a new dining table & a new bedroom suite for one of our guestrooms from a big box furniture store.  The furniture was all to be delivered to our house, which was fantastic as Colin was working out of town & I was not about to try to tackle moving in all this new furniture on my own.  We both think: great!  This is going to work out quite well (there is no sarcasm here yet… I am being serious).  Fast forward a couple of weeks… furniture company calls to say they will deliver the bed.  Okay, good… Well, they bring it but don’t set half of it up.  Colin had to put all the hardware on the dresser & night stands & my father-in-law had to mount the headboard on the mattress… these are all things that should have been completed upon delivery.  So, the first delivery didn’t exactly go how it should have, but surely the table delivery would go better.
Surely not.  Not only did the chairs arrive in boxes (requiring a lot of assembly we were never told about) but the tabletop came with a nick in it.  If the table had been used or we had already owned it for a number of years & it got a nick I would have shrugged my shoulders (that’s life)…  I would have found one of those wood markers meant for covering nicks & scratches.  But our table wasn’t old or used… it was brand new & we had paid good money for it to come in excellent condition.  Who would have thought a table nick would bring a girl to tears but it almost did… there I was with no chairs to sit on, a table with a nick in it & a husband 600 miles away.  Now, I will give the sales guy credit… after Colin called him to express his displeasure, the sales guy did volunteer to come to our house to set up the chairs for me since he had neglected to tell us they required assembly (& since Colin was going to be away yet for a number of days).  As it turned out, Colin got home sooner than expected & assembled the chairs himself but I give the guy credit for volunteering to come out on his own time in order to try to make us happy.  About 4 weeks later the new tabletop arrived, this time thankfully, without any nicks or scratches!
Fast forward to July.  We decide we are going to replace the eves (for my American friends out there read: gutters) & soffit on our house.  My husband is very thorough when it comes to researching projects around our house & this was no exception.  Colin got a number of quotes & asked a number of people who the best contractor would be.  We finally decided on a local contractor & even had the estimator come out to our house a second time so we could discuss the project with him.  We wanted to be sure we were all on the same page.  When he left that day, we thought we were good… but apparently we were not.  I am not going to get into all the details here as I could be rambling for days.  I will make a long story short.  What should have been a three or four day job turned into almost three weeks.  What should have been easy… was not.  I cannot tell you how depressing it was to come home day after day to see that no work had been completed when I was told it would be… or other days to discover that the work that had been done was done wrong.  Perhaps the worst part, however, was having to continually tell my husband (still 600 miles away) that things were not progressing as they should be.  It was not until the owner of the company got involved & he made several trips to our house did things finally get sorted out.  Now that it’s finished, we think it looks awesome & we’re pleased but it was a long time coming.
Which brings us to Thursday… bad luck with yet another thing for the house… we have been working away at finishing our basement (in addition to now working on our ensuite) & we were supposed to have carpet installed.  We should have known when the installer showed up late… that should have been a sign that the day wasn’t going to go well… but apparently I missed that.  Needless to say about four hours & a hundred phone calls later (not literally but it sure felt like it) I still had no carpet.  Once again, Colin was not home (one of the drawbacks of working on the road) but I was on the phone with him as soon as the installer told me we had an issue.

Day 19 - Our Hallway with No Carpet

Colin is much better at dealing with issues like this than I am so he was on the home to the big box store right away.  It would seem that our carpet was either measured wrong or ordered wrong, but the end result was still the same… it would not fit.  The matter was complicated by the fact that we ordered patterned carpet, which is slightly harder to install in order to match the pattern.  If the installer had tried to make the carpet work, we would have ended up with 7 seams in the three rooms downstairs instead of only 3 seams in total… & there still would not have been enough carpet!
We still are not sure why it took four hours to get things straightened around & for the installer to finally leave with the wrong carpet.  What I do know, however, it was very frustrating & a complete waste of my time.  Since Thursday, we have met with the manager of the store & he as agreed to discount the carpet for us… how much is yet to be determined.  The new carpet should be ordered today (hopefully right this time) & if we’re lucky, it will be installed in a couple of weeks.  I am pleased with the carpet we chose & from the preview on Thursday, I know it will look fantastic when all is said & done.  But we play the waiting game yet again…
I am beginning to think, however, that perhaps it is not actually bad luck we are plagued by but just bad customer service!  Having said that, it still might be time to get rid of that four leaf clover…


Everyone has at least one friend who means the world to them.  Mine is the most amazing person & most days I don’t know what I would do without her. We have been friends since 2005, although it feels like I have known her my entire life.  We met in grad school when we were both toiling our way through our Masters, both of us pursuing degrees in military history.  Would you believe there is another girl out there who likes tanks as much as I do (perhaps even more)?  Well there is… & her name is Vanessa, Nessa, or just Ness…


Vanessa is the kind of person that you can’t help but love.  She is sweet & smart & determined.  Ness has a heart of gold & would do anything for those she loves.  She’s gorgeous, classy & can pull off styles I would never be able to… she’s thrifty & creative &   an excellent listener .  She always knows exactly what to say or what not to say… or exactly what I need her to say! Ness has a great sense of humour & she makes me laugh when the Albert County in her sneaks out.  As friends go, we seem to balance each other out & are always the other person’s voice of reason.  Nessa is also a  fantastic writer (don’t let her tell you otherwise) & a complete inspiration to me in so many ways.  It is because of her that I even started rambling here.

Photo Courtesy of Symplicity Photography & Design

We were roommates briefly while in school & have spent countless hours together since plotting our futures.  We lived in the same apartment though not at the same time.  We have been silly, we have laughed & cried together, gone shopping & dancing, we’ve gone on road trips, had coffee, read each others work & drank far too much wine for our own good.  I told Ness once she wasn’t allowed to leave Ontario because I needed her too much (& then later went & left myself).  We have been through breakups together & found our true loves… We met our husbands at roughly the same time. Ness was the first of my friends to meet Colin while Colin & I were two of the first people to meet Paul.  Luckily, Ness approved of Honey & we approved of Pauly.  We were giddy with excitement when Ness got her “skating rink” & when Colin later proposed to me.  As all girls do, we dreamed of our wedding days together.  I was part of Nessa’s wedding & she was my maid of honour – I could not have done it without her by my side (or without all my girls for that matter!).

We have gone from pretending to play house to actually doing it…Colin & I bought our house before we got married…  Ness (& Paul) could not wait to visit us & she reiterated to me what Colin & I already felt, that our house completely suited us. Paul & Vanessa bought their house just recently & I can certainly say the same thing about Paul & Vanessa’s house, it suits them.  Apart from my house & my parents house, Vanessa’s house is somewhere that I feel completely at home.  Even before their house had any furniture & was still adorned with tacky wallpaper, it had Paul & Ness written all over it.  Now that Nessa has added her touch, however, it is just perfect.  From the second you walk in the door it is warm & inviting… There is no place I would rather be than at her kitchen table chatting & sharing a cup of tea with her.

And it was there that I found myself one Saturday in December, my camera in hand.  I was there to have a cup of tea & a piece of cake, but also to take photos of something special.  You see, Paul & Vanessa needed their house… there was just not room in their one bedroom apartment for a baby!  As I write this in fact, we are all patiently (or in my case impatiently) waiting for their little one to arrive… but that day in December, I was merely taking photos of Paul, Ness & their “expanding” family.

Agreeing to let me to take photos of her just shows you the kind of friend that Ness is.  I think she may have been initially hesitant to let me… I remember her saying something about how she  didn’t feel all that pretty or photogenic (which of course is in the eye of the beholder because she looked amazing as she always does).

Ness knew that I had just finished my photography course & wanted to practice taking people shots.  The photos I took with Paul & Ness was my second “photoshoot” if you can call it… I am by no means a professional photographer.  (The first “shoot” was with my brother & his family – photos to come at some point – which essentially meant chasing my niece around with my camera, something I do all the time – hardly a photoshoot!) With V & P it was essentially a ploy to visit my Nessa.

Paul, Ness & Baby Bump

Well, that is not entirely truthful… I did want to give Ness some classy photos of herself & her bump.  Not long before I made the suggestion of doing some photos she posted a photo of herself on FB & although it was alright (Paul, I am by no means criticizing your photography skills!), I wanted her to have a little more to remember her pregnancy by (beautiful baby aside of course!).

My Beautiful Friend

So there I arrived with my camera in hand & we got to work.  I had been thinking about this shoot long & hard & all the places in their house I thought we could do photos.  I have to say that there was a definite progression… in comfort level for both Ness & I, & in quality of photos.  It got to the point where I was just rambling away to Nessa (as I am doing now) & snapping photos.  We ended up with some good stuff, at least I think so… but I’ll let you be the judge.

One thing I know for certain, is that just as she is a great friend, Vanessa will also be a great mother.  This child will make his or her entrance into a loving, happy home with two wonderful parents… And I could not be happier for them!  The final photo is one of my favourites & one of Nessa’s as well…  in November, Ness made a post on her blog about time… & waiting for her little one to arrive…(

This picture, although we didn’t intend it, entirely sums it up… the waiting time is almost over… & time will reward my dear friend with a beautiful baby.  I love my Nessa dearly & will love her baby with all my heart as well…  I can’t wait for another little person to call me “Auntie B”…

Chocolate Banana Cake Two Ways

I seem to have a problem with bananas.  It’s kind of a love hate relationship.  I like bananas but only when they are on the green side.  Once they start to get ripe (to the point where most people like them) they are too ripe for me.  If they have spots on them, they are definitely too ripe.  If they have spots, in the freezer they go… which is where I run into problems.  You would think that I would stop buying bananas every week since I end up with so many in the freezer but I never do.   And if you could see how many bananas are currently in my freezer you would certainly agree that I have a problem.  My guess is that there are at least ten bananas in the freezer, possibly even more.  But there are less than there were a week ago!  I’ve made this chocolate banana cake twice in the last week, which used up six bananas.  Honey has commented on how many bananas there are… far too many by his standards… & you know it is really bad when the bananas start jumping out of the freezer & attacking you!

Usually I make banana bread with the frozen bananas.  I’ve had my banana bread recipe for a few years now & it’s good… recently I’ve taken to making a double batch, making half of it into banana bread & the other half into muffins, adding a few chocolate chips just to mix it up a little.  Last week was number two nephew’s birthday & I decided to try to incorporate bananas into my cake to try to use a few more of them up.  I googled chocolate banana cake & found this recipe (  It’s easy, nice & moist & you almost can’t even taste the bananas.  Last week I made the cake version with chocolate ganache frosting… this week I made cupcakes with butter cream frosting.  Both were equally delicious & easy!  Try this recipe out before your freezer bananas get out of control!

Day 14 - Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting

Chocolate Banana Cake

2 cups granulated white sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium-sized bananas)

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F & place rack in the center of the oven.  Butter or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 x 13 inch pan (when I made this in the cake form I used a bundt pan & muffin tin when I made cupcakes).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil & vanilla extract.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & stir or whisk, until combined.  You will notice that the batter is quite thin (I didn’t find it to be too thin).  Pour the batter into the prepared pan & bake for about 35 to 40 minutes (the bundt pan took about 50 minutes as it’s deeper than the 9×13, cupcakes take about 20 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven & let cool on a wire rack.  When completely cool, frost.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized stainless steel or heatproof bowl.  Set aside.  Heat the cream & butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate & allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  When ganache has completely cooled, beat until soft & fluffy.  Then spread the frosting on top of the cake/cupcakes.

Chocolate Banana Cake with Ganache Frosting

Butter Cream Frosting

2/3 cup butter

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk/cream

In medium-sized bowl, cream together butter, cocoa powder & vanilla.  Add icing sugar a cup at a time beating until smooth.  If icing becomes too thick, add milk as needed.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Hello Winter!

This morning when I woke up it was a winter wonderland outside!  It was beautiful & I was so excited to see the snow.  It is about time!  This was our first real snow of the season.  It snowed a little bit right after Christmas but it was gone the same day, which hardly counts in my books.  But this morning there was good cover on the ground & it snowed most of the day… in fact, I think it is still snowing now.  We probably got around 4 inches & it finally feels like winter.

Day 13 - Winter Wonderland

If it is supposed to be winter outside I would just as soon it be cold & snowy.  I am not totally into Mother Nature teasing me with all these warm temperatures & spring like weather.  It was quite warm (for January) earlier in the week (& last weekend – remember my laundry hanging on the line) & it almost smelled like spring out.  I don’t like that… I mean, I do, but not in January when I know there is still more of winter to come before we actually get spring.  So, I was happy this morning to see the white.  Honey, however, was not.  He does not like the snow… & he’s been wishing it would stop snowing all day!

One of the best things about the snowy weather this morning was that I didn’t have to go out in it…  I worked from home today which was great.  I sat at my desk sorting through paperwork, sipping coffee, & was curled up in my comfy clothes watching the snow fall.  It was a great way to start the day, I have to say.  The snowy day transitioned into one of those winter evenings that I love.  I just finished making carrot-sweet potato soup for tomorrow & chocolate banana cupcakes… as you can imagine, the house smells amazing.  The house is warm & the snow is sparkling outside.  Honey & I are getting ready to watch a movie & snuggle up on the couch… If we had a fireplace, we would definitely have it on.  I can think of nothing I would rather do on this snowy & chilly January evening.

Step Away From The Phone

I used to be one of those people who swore that I did not need a blackberry… that I didn’t want one.  I remember very clearly stating that there was no way I needed to be that accessible to people all the time.  But as I said, I USED to be one of those people.  I’ve had my blackberry for about a year & a half & now that I have it… well, I’m hooked.

Day 12 - My Blackberry

I have discovered that it is actually quite handy to have my email on my phone, especially my work email.  Plus more than once while I’ve been out somewhere I’ve looked up a phone number or directions, both things I couldn’t have done with my old phone.  And yes, I do check my Facebook on my phone too.  But, I’m not one of those people (I think!) whose phone has become an extension of my body.

I find that I am on my phone more when I am alone… I guess this is mostly because it’s something to do & a way of tricking myself into not feeling so alone.  When my hubby is home, however, or I am around friends or family, my phone is most likely on a shelf somewhere or in my purse.  I am not one of those people who has my phone by my side 24 hours a day & I am not always on it.  But I know people who are…  & sometimes cell phones drive me crazy.

I don’t think you need a cell phone when you are seven years old… you probably don’t even need one when you are thirteen.  I know that times have changed but I didn’t get my first cell phone till I was in university & maybe 20 years old!  If I don’t need to be that accessible to people, children certainly don’t.  And while playing games on cell phones may be a good way to occupy a few minutes while you are waiting to get your oil changed or for your dentist appointment, I’m not a fan of using it to occupy your child’s time.  I know a ton of kids who know how to play all the games on their parents cell phones & that’s fine… it’s a choice those parents have made… I just don’t think it will be a choice I make when I have kids.  Considering my love of reading, I will be more likely to say: “Here, try a book… they’re good for you!”

In anycase, all this rambling about cell phones brings me to the reason for this post.  I must admit, I’ve had a case of writers block this week & have not been able to come up with anything interesting to write about.  Even the photos I’ve taken each day have been boring & not worth posting (perhaps a sign that I need to get out more!).  This morning on the way into work, however, I heard something very interesting on the radio.  It’s a new game that’s been dubbed “Phone Stack” & since being posted by Brian “Lil b” Perez on his blog 6 days ago, it’s gone viral over the internet.  ( The premise of the game is to step away from the phone (my emphasis)… & to actually have a conversation while out with friends or family rather than being glued to your phone.

When out to dinner everyone stacks their phone in the middle of the table & leaves them.  The phone can buzz for notifications, text messages or phone calls & it is a testament of will power to see who can actually leave their phone alone.  The first person to crack picks up the tab.  Pretty interesting, huh?  Although the game was originally intended for a restaurant setting I am already imagining how this game could be modified to be played at home – the consequences would just have to be different.  Let’s see… if you can’t resist the urge to look at your phone while eating dinner at home…. the penalty could be say a $2 fine.  Or something like that.  We had a “fine” jar while I was growing up.  My brothers & I went through that teenager phase where we said the word “like”  far too often & out of context.  So much so that it drove my parents crazy & they came up with a plan to try to break us of this bad habit.  There was a jar in the kitchen & every time we used the word “like” out of context, as in “She is like totally like cool” we had to put a dime in the jar.  Not an outrageous sum but at one point, I hate to admit, we probably could have racked up a dollar’s worth of “likes” in one meal.

Which brings us back to the phone stack.  Interesting concept & one that I would like to see in action.  One article I read about phone stack suggested that it was sad that a game like this had to be invented to promote conversation & I tend to agree.   It’s actually given me the motivation to leave my phone alone more often… can you?

Not Much Like Winter

January 7, 2012

Day 7 - Clothes on the Line

I know that there are many people who hang laundry out in the winter…. I am not usually one of them.  A typical winter day is just too cold for me.  I’m sorry, but I’m not dragging my butt outside to hang out the clothes, no matter what the cost saving.  Yesterday, however, was not your typical winter day.  Far from it…. more like spring in fact.  I think it was somewhere near 8 degrees & just beautiful out.  The sun was shining, there was hardly any wind & it was lovely.  I couldn’t resist hanging clothes out.  January 7th & I was hanging clothes out…. that was something to be documented for sure.

The unofficial , second photo for day 7 is of number two nephew, Jude, from his birthday party yesterday.  I mentioned the party the other day so I figured I had better post at least one photo!  Until it was so nice & I ended up hanging out laundry, a photo of Jude was totally my intention for day number 7. 

Happy Birthday Jude

The photo for day 8 is yet another of our bathroom demo & not very exciting so I’m not going to post it.  I wanted to document the room one last time before we start getting into putting it back together.  But honestly, it’s not anything exciting that you haven’t already seen.  It was a busy day & not much time for fooling around with the camera! 

The Creepy Clown

Warning!  If you aren’t a fan of clowns, you may not want to read this (or at least look at the photos)!!!  The photo of the day for January 6th is the creepy clown.  Personally, I hate this thing… with a passion!  It creeps me out.  But every time I try to move him, he just keeps reappearing… I think I should actually name him Houdini because he reappears as if by magic.  Like most things in our house, there is a story…

January 6, 2012

Day 6 - The Creepy Clown

Like the rest of his “treasures” Colin found the creepy clown somewhere in the US in an antique store.  The clown is actually an old school piggy bank.  You place a coin in the palm of his outstretched hand & there is a little lever behind his arm that when pressed, activates his arm causing the coin to slide into his mouth.  In theory, the bank is pretty cool… in actuality, it’s creepy as hell.  I think the creepiest part is probably the fact that when he swallows the coin, his eyes roll back into his head!  I hate it but despite this, the clown currently resides on our bookshelf, in amongst my tanks.  I have tried removing him to the garage where I wouldn’t have to have his creepy eyes staring at me but like the cat, he just keeps coming back.  I have finally given up… Creepy Clown – 1, Brandey – 0.

I bet you are wondering though why the creepy clown was my subject for today when I hate him so much?  Well, I was testing out my new lens.  Colin got me a 50mm portrait lens for Christmas & today was the first day that I actually had enough time to try it out.  I have to admit that already I love it!  The clown was a good fit as I could get right in his face & practice with the lens without him becoming too self conscious!  And on that note, just in case you couldn’t quite feel his creepiness from the first picture….

His Creepiness

The Gnome in the Stump & The Porcelain Throne – Photos Day 4 & 5

Today, once again we have two for the price of one!  Since I rambled yesterday about France & the requested Brie recipe there was no time to post the picture of the day (Honey put me to work you know, as demo was not quite finished in the bathroom).  In anycase, you’re not missing anything… today we have photos four & five.

January 4, 2012

Day 4 - The Gnome in the Stump

Do you see him?  Do you see the gnome in the stump in our backyard?  Look hard….  can you find him?  No?  Well of course not…. he’s not there… yet!  This stump is what is left of the large tree that we finally cut down in our backyard.  The tree was dead when we bought the house & after talking about it A LOT, we finally got around to taking it down a year & a half after we moved in.  I say “we” finally got around to it, but what I really mean is that “we” hired someone to take it down.  The tree guy is a friend of Colin’s & it worked out quite well as Colin was able to help him get the thing to the ground.

It was a Friday, I remember that clearly as it meant we had all weekend to split & move wood!  Colin called me at work around 8am to say that Cory wasn’t there yet to take down the tree… he then called around 9am to say the tree was on the ground!  Once Cory got there those boys didn’t waste anytime!

The Fallen Tree

Anyway, this stump, the day 4 photo, is what is left of the tree.  (By the way, it was my hubby’s idea that this be my photo for the day).  Colin has always thought it would be cool to have a wood carving made out of the stump (remember, we have been talking about cutting this tree down for a year & a half – he’s had lots of time to think).  While we were at the tree farm cutting down our Christmas tree, there was a guy carving stumps.  I am sure you can see where I am going with this… while the kids & I waited in line for the zip-line Honey made a bee-line for the wood carver.  The guy works by the day & told Colin he would be happy to come to our place to carve our stump.  Fast forward a couple of weeks…. Colin told me he had a great idea for our stump (we had been brainstorming what to get carved).  Now, I have told you before about Colin’s odd collection of things (Superman & Sock Monkey included) but I have never mentioned the Gnome… who freely roams about our backyard & who Colin felt we had to have once we owned our house.

He is the Travelocity Gnome (well, maybe not the exact Travelocity Gnome but perhaps a distant cousin) & we picked him up in Indiana.  The Gnome is important to Colin & like his little buddy… so much so that two of Colin’s friends felt it was necessary that the Gnome attend our wedding… they gnome-napped him & brought him along.  If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself… Yes, that would be one bride & one gnome…

Me & Our Buddy the Gnome @ Our Wedding

I know, I know.. I’m rambling … the long & short of it is that Honey would like to have a Gnome carved into our stump… a Gnome holding a tray…. so that when we roam around the yard, there is a place to put a drink… or a flower pot… or whatever.  Sometime, hopefully before December 31, the Gnome in the Stump will finally appear before our eyes.

January 5, 2012

Today is a special day… it is number two nephew’s fifth birthday!  Happy Birthday Jude!  And no, the picture for today is not of the birthday boy… we won’t see him till Saturday… so it is safe to say that the photo of the day might be Jude on Saturday.  But for now, something much more … well, uh…. interesting?  We are in the middle of tearing out the old bathroom as you know… Although the toilet has been removed from its mount for a few days now, it has been moving around the shell of the bathroom to wherever it is NOT in the way.  Well, today Honey had to get it right out of the bathroom… so, it ended up in the bedroom… at the foot of my side of the bed…. me, the one who usually can’t sleep through the night without getting up to pee! PLEASE move it I begged… I guarantee that there would be one massive bruise on my knee come morning had Colin not moved the thing.  And move it he did… but not exactly where I was expecting…

Day 5 - The Porcelain Throne

Here it is in the bedroom… next to our bookshelf, now on Honey’s side of the bed so I don’t whack my knee!

A Request for Brie

For any of you who have ever lived abroad you know there is just something about it that is…. well, wonderful.  It is something I can’t quite describe or put into words, but I certainly loved all of the time I spent in Europe.  My first trip to Europe was the summer after I finished my first year of university.  My roommate & I decided we would take five weeks & backpack through Europe.  It was an enormous adventure for both of us but a great experience & one that I am now glad I did in my early twenties.  I’ve also traveled twice to Italy on battlefield tours…. yes, battlefield tours.  (Did you miss the part in my bio that says I like tanks?  Well, that stems from my love of military history & the fact I have  two degrees in military history.  The battlefield tours make a little more sense now, don’t they?)

In anycase, Italy is amazing… Sicily even more so.  I fell in love.  The trips were amazing not only for the fact we were literally tracing the steps of the Canadian Army (which really is the only way to truly understand what transpired) but also for the food & the wine.  Fresh pasta, thin crust, wood fired pizza, seafood like you wouldn’t believe…. do I need to continue?  In one word… FANTASTIC!  If you are ever uninspired by food take a trip to Europe.  I think it is almost impossible to come back without totally falling in love with food again.  But this is not about Italy or Italian food.  This is about France.

I have also spent a summer in France, living & working in Normandy (it was that military history stuff again!).  And it was during my time in France that I met Celine, who is now one of my dearest friends.

Celine & I During my Summer in France

I have known Celine for over seven years now & am thankful that we have become such good friends.  Even though we live far apart now (we are at least in the same country now) our lives seem to somehow run a parallel course & we certainly depend on each other to get through the ups & downs of life.

While living in Normandy, however, Celine & I loved to spend our evenings in her tiny shoebox apartment cooking up a storm & laughing while sipping some (usually cheap) French wine.

Our Favourite French Wine

Those were some of the best nights of the summer & ones that the two of us will cherish forever, of this I am certain.  We were constantly experimenting & coming up new recipes to try.  If you saw Celine’s tiny place (we cooked at my place occasionally but Celine did have the better kitchen) & our limited cooking implements you might be surprised by what we managed to whip up.  Our repitoire certainly increased when Celine bought an oven (which was about the size of most microwaves).  We made pizza (with rice for the crust – sounds strange, I know, but it was actually quite good), pasta with lardons (aka BACON) & creme fraiche was one of our favourites, as was Normandy Chicken (recipe to follow sometime soon).  I even managed to turn out a couple of apple pies thanks to Celine’s oven.  Plus, we even pulled off a dinner party for about 9 people in her tiny place (Celine, please forgive me for the photo!).

Our Dinner Party in the Shoebox Apartment

But cooking is what made that tiny apartment & the dreary grey days of that particular Normandy summer bearable.  As I am typing this I am thinking of so many recipes that I brought back from France that I want to share with you.  But that’s for another day…The recipe today is actually not even one from France… but it is one that I made for Celine, when we had the opportunity to cook together in Canada many years ago & one that she has requested.  I look forward to the next time that we can see each other… hopefully for longer than our last visit & hopefully we have our husbands in tow!  Whenever we do manage to get together, however, I know there will be, as always, lots of good food, good wine & laughter! For you my dear friend, I hope you (& your sister-in-law) enjoy this! 

Balsamic Glazed Pear, Pecans & Onions in Brie

1 lb Brie Cheese (one small wheel)

1 tbsp butter

1 onion, peeled & sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pear, cored & chopped

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp each salt & pepper

1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans

Slice Brie in half to make two layers.  Heat butter in skillet set over medium heat.  Add onion & garlic.  Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until softened.  Increase heat to medium-high.  Add pear.  Cook, tossing for 2-3 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Sprinkle with brown sugar & cook, stirring, until well browned.  Stir in balsamic vinegar & cook for one minute.  Taste & add salt & pepper as needed.  Stir in nuts.

Place one layer of Brie on a platter, cut side up.  Spoon pear mixture over Brie & replace top of cheese.  Serve with crackers and/or thinly sliced baguette.  Recipe can easily be doubled.  Use additional filling as garnish (optional).


Yummy Brie

Photo of the Day

January 3, 2012

January 3rd brings yet another day of demolition in the bathroom off of our bedroom.  Honey made a lot of progress today & it is now one large space, instead of two small ones!  I am impressed by how much he accomplished & excited about how the finished product will turn out… even though we are a long ways from that yet.

Day 3 - Bathroom Demo

You can see from the flooring in this photo where the closet used to be & where the bathroom used to be – wood floor in the closet & tile in the bathroom.  To the left of the photo you can see where there was a long narrow hallway in the bathroom, a space which is about to be swallowed up by the closet.  Goodbye wasted space – I will not miss you!  I give my hubby a lot of credit for all of his hard work today & always when he works around our house.  This morning when I left for work there was still a closet in our room & I came home to this great open space.  Not only had he torn out all the walls, he had also disposed of all the drywall & even tried his best not to get dust all over our room.  Thanks Honey!  I am such a lucky girl to have a husband who is so handy! xo  While I will post more pictures of our progress soon it won’t be tomorrow… not going to bore you every day with pictures of the changes… that’s not very exciting!  I would rather wait until we have accomplished something more substantial!  Tomorrow something more interesting…. I promise!