There are a lot of things that make me happy – spending time with my husband, cats and good friends, shopping, eating amazing food, but what really makes me happy? Exploring.
I love exploring a new part of my city. Toronto is great for that…it’s filled with pockets of completely different neighborhoods. I love finding a new ethnic grocery store somewhere and wandering around in it trying to figure out what I should get to cook. This is something I do with my Mom all the time.
I also love exploring new cities when I’m on vacation, but my favourite thing to explore? It’s always historical sites. I love trying to reconnect with the past. How did these people live? What did they eat? Every time that we’ve gone to Mexico, I’ve made it a point of searching out a new historical site for us to check out. The pictures on this post are from Guachimontones , which we visited while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta.
It was exciting because it was still in the process of being restored, so you could see the newly restored pyramids as well as piles of rocks. Honestly, it amazes me that the archaeologists can take what looks like a pile of rocks and reconstruct these amazing structures.
Anyone else love exploring?
Here’s my deep, dark secret. I am probably one of the most sentimental, emotional people you will ever meet, but you will never know it… I try to keep this side of myself to myself most of the time, but on occasion, the odd thing does slip out. Like crying at phone commercials, music videos, a sad (or happy) story, movies, magazine articles, bus shelter advertisments… Anytime that some kind of human struggle or emotional moment is taking place my empathy meter goes haywire and the waterworks come on. There’s hardly any way to stop this reaction…you can feel it coming, you know its happening, but your body is in control and it says… Weep fool, weep!
I had a hard time with this topic. What am I really an expert at? I’m a good cook, but an expert? I asked Mr. Fox what he thought and without even looking up from his computer, he replied, “Shopping.”
Yeah…I really like to shop and I am a little too good at it. I can find a deal almost anywhere (or sometimes the most expensive thing in the place. I’m looking at you, 1920’s Beetle Broach in the muddy field at an auction.)
Since I’m a little too good at finding a deal, I’ve had to make some rules for myself about whether I should buy something. Namely, do I already have something like it? If I do, I don’t buy it. The exception…black booties.
I wear booties all. the. time. I’m wearing them now! As you can see from my collection, I have, well, a few pairs. If I find a great pair of black booties (that fit me…I have size 10 feet), I’ll probably buy them.
Anyone else a little too good at shopping? Is it really possible top have too many pairs of black booties??
Fall in Toronto is (often) lovely with bright, crisp Autumn days and leaves turning different colours, although it’s also frequently wet, cloudy, dark and cold. Although, I would LOVE to live somewhere where it’s warm all the time, I live here. We have 4 very distinct seasons and you really do change the way that you dress for each of them.
Fall is great because you can wear all of the clothes that were too warm to wear in the summer (although this last summer could hardly be considered warm.) You can also actually show the clothes that your wearing before winter comes and you’re bundled up in the parka that you always wear and the super industrial winter boots that don’t get completely killed by all of the salt.
My fall uniform is generally a blouse, a pair of jeans that don’t look like jeans and booties. I love booties! A fashion blogger, I am not, so these pictures are my sweet husband trying to get me to sit up straight and not laugh or make monster faces at the camera. There are a lot of pictures like this one and worse:
Anyone else have a uniform for each season? Assuming that you have seasons where you live…
Being a literary sort, I have an awful lot of favorite quotes, from all kinds of different books and poems and articles and songs and plays. But one of my all time favorites is from a Dylan Thomas poem.
I was very little when I started obsessing over my mom’s book of poems by Dylan Thomas, about 7 or 8. I barely understood what I was reading, and yet the language captivated me. This wild Welsh man poet and his strangely compelling turns of phrase became something I would come back to again and again and again over the years. In time I became interested in the poet himself (and his tempestuous relationship with his wife Caitlin) and read a number of biographies over the years. But I always came back to the poems themselves, saying them out loud, trying to understand them, marvelling at his complete mastery of the language. I liked how primal they felt to me, like he had cut them off a stone or discovered them in a storm. I just couldn’t get enough of them.
Later on, as I grew and had my own experiences with loss and heartache, the poems started to resonate even more. I would turn to the book in a state of emotional turmoil and find an understanding there. After a particularly harsh series of heartaches, I took a line from the poem ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’ as a mantra for awhile and eventually I even registered it on a star. Right up there in the sensitive area below Orion’s belt, where heartaches belong.
Here’s the quote:
“Though lovers be lost love shall not;
and death shall have no dominion. “
And please do check out the poem in its entirety, here:
I remember a time when I was 8 years old. We had recently visited “Pioneer Village” and I was fascinated with old wood construction that had survived for all these years. Looking at the carving on some of the desks in the olde timely school-house I was struck by how the graffiti had survived. That someone who had carved their name on their desk had achieved a kind of immortality. And here I was, hundreds of years later, reading that name and participating in their act of impetuous vandalism and self expression.
I immediately resolved to set my own hand to the task of defacing some furniture for the purpose of artistic expression. Back at home, I inspected each surface, looking for the ideal canvas for my future contribution to urban archaeology. My mother’s desk at the time was made of a light soft wood that I concluded, given my extensive knowledge of wood carving, would form the basis for my magnum opus.
There was only one problem. I needed to both do the deed and deflect the blame as my mother would no doubt have some words for the errant child who willfully and with malice aforethought had disfigured her work area. Being a budding criminal genius, but not quite yet fully bloomed into my full Super Villian, I hit upon this devious but ultimately flawed plan.
Taking my carving implement, I arranged several minutes alone with my target. Painstakingly, and with considerable care, I carved each letter into the perfect, soft wood of the desk top. When I was done, I looked at my work with approval. It was perfect. Now my work would live on for posterity, as no amount of sanding would fix the deep gouges I had inflicted on the hapless furniture. But the best part was the devious way I had thought to evade punishment. You see it was not my name that adorned the desk, but rather my sister’s. Now my mother would ultimately have to agree that my sister was the culprit and I would slip away unpunished to plot my next act of ad hoc wood carving. In my haste and glee at coming up with this plan I had missed one crucial detail.
Once the deed was discovered it was I who was held accountable for the deed. How unfair! It wasn’t even my name! Later, I would have to conclude that I picked the wrong patsy. My sister’s handwriting, and therefore wood carving ability was limited by her being only four years of age.
For my fall recipe, I’m posting my Dad’s meatball recipe. It’s not a traditional “fall” recipe (no pumpkin or turkey in these), but they are total comfort food and I always associate that with Fall. I’ve also been making them for Mary’s Dad and just made them for his Birthday celebration yesterday, so it seems like the perfect recipe to share.
“Daddy” Style Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
For the Sauce:
– 1/2 cup of olive oil
– 3 x 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes
– 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
Add the olive oil to a large pot and set over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until it just starts to turn golden. Add all of the tomatoes (liquid too) and blend with hand mixer until the sauce is smooth. You can also blitz the tomatoes in a blender beforehand, if you don’t have a hand mixed (I won’t tell my Dad!)
Add 1 tablespoon of salt and simmer uncovered for 1 hour.
While that’s simmering, start on the meatballs. In a large bowl, add:
– 1 ½ lbs ground meat (I use a combination of beef, pork and veal)
– 1 tbsp kosher salt
– 1 clove garlic, finely minced
– 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
– 1 cup grated Parmasean cheese
– 1 ½ cups of breadcrumbs
– 1 ½ cups water
– 1 tbsp chopped parsley
Unclump the meat and mix it together with the rest of ingredients. Shape into balls and place on a rimmed baking sheets, either lined with parchment paper, tinfoil or sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. I like parchment paper for easier cleanup.
Bake your balls at 375 for 30 min until golden, turning them once about halfway through.
When you sauce is almost done it’s hour of simmering, add ¼ cup of fresh basil (chopped), about 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and a teaspoon of dried oregano. Taste and add more salt and seasonings if you like.
Once the meatballs have finished baking for half an hour, simmer them in the sauce for 20 minutes and you’re ready to serve!
These are great with spaghetti, you can throw some onto a bun and melt mozzarella on top for a great sandwich, you can even put them on pizza or in a panzarotti. Honestly, you can even eat them straight…not that I do that.
One day in high school I was prancing around in my sparkly silver tights when my English teacher pulled me aside to impart the following little gem of wisdom. Mary, quoth he, you really should try to be more like other people.
This is when I realized the value of a secret identity. Of course, I think he just didn’t like my sparky silver tights but I worked at it and later that same year my brother made me a t-shirt that said “conformist” and I knew I was on the trail of something big.
Be more like other people. It’s so simple and yet surprisingly difficult, at least it is for a big honking weirdo like yours truly. Sure, everyone says be yourself, embrace your inner what have you, but when it comes to getting a job quickly when you’re broke, making small talk with office strangers, or just trying to float by under the radar without anyone noticing you, there is nothing like being normal.
Anything funky or weird, keep it to yourself and a small, trusted group of friends who will forgive you for your independent streak. If you catch yourself doing something strange in public, like chanting “evil robot” under your breath ad nauseum just pass it off as a small stroke. This creates what author Douglas Adams calls a “somebody else’s problem” field which most normals cannot perpetrate. Or just say, “wow do I need another coffee! ” and everything will be right as rain.
The best part about great advice is passing it on! Let your loved ones know that you expect them to toe the normal line, and shun them if they refuse. Who are they anyway, Ayn Rand? This is an excellent way to curb troublesome childhood behavior too, a few brutal corrections and they’ll be colouring in the lines like the little conformist monkeys they are.
It’s also a nice way to take the edge off any existentialist angst you may be feeling. Not sure of the meaning of life and existence? Trapped and frozen in a hell dimension of depression and pain? Creatively stunted? Desperate to express your true nature by performing a modern dance routine in a wolf suit to Van Morrison’ ‘Moondance’? Relax and remember, everybody feels that way, so just pick yourself up off the floor and shake it off, ‘kay?
If I were president.. With special guest blogging cat, The Cheat.
My fellow creatures,
The Cheat here, with a very presidential message for you all…
First of all, if I were president there would be much stupendous awesomeness and probably rejoicing around the world. That’s how powerful the message of The Cheat can be. Mostly because of the whiskers.
I, The Cheat have a simple philosophy of presidenting. First, make no promises. You never know what The Cheat is gonna do. That’s the risk. At least, I’m up front about it. Like cleaning the back end. Someone has gotta do it and it’s not The Cheat, okay? That can be the vice president’s job. Figure it out.
With The Cheat as president, you’re gonna see some big changes. Changes in you, not me. Mainly I’m gonna flop down here and get relaxed. That’s just how I rule. What a world we live in… Wars and and slavery and hunger. The Cheat is all about peace and freedom and eating. Everyone can take a nap too, that would be good.
Sometimes, things get rough. I know you want a president that can bust out some sudden violence and take control. The Cheat is a one hundred percent expert in attacking from a lying down position. It’s all about the disembowling kick. Another fancy technique is I just lie down on top of whatever is the problem. That takes care of a lot of things.
So there you have it. Lie down. Sing for freedom. Eat food. Rub this fuzzy belly. Basically get relaxed that’s what I’m saying. Everything is better when relaxing. That’s The Cheat’s presidential way.